"I can help you!"


I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to get early reviews and review blurbs

Many writers have asked me how they can get early reviews from industry reviewers and review blurbs from established authors, so today I'm going to answer that.

So how do you get early reviews and review blurbs? The easy answer: just ask. Really. That's what it boils down to, asking someone. Ask lots of someones and you're bound to get a 'yes'.

The more detailed answer: research, ask and ask others. Like so many things, including sending out agent queries, asking for reviews and blurbs is a numbers game that requires some preparation first. So let's break it down.

Research: You'll need to do some research to find out which reviewers read your genre and which authors are open to writing blurbs. Check your local newspapers to see if they still have a book reviewer. If they do, send the reviewer an email, with a brief synopsis (1-3 paragraphs) describing your book. Think of this synopsis like back cover text―present tense, exciting ad copy.

Check out the top reviewers on Amazon or Chapters and contact them. Search online for reviewers who write blogs, or have a Myspace or Facebook or Twitter account. An easy way to find these blogs is to Google search terms like "romance blogs", "mystery blogs" or whatever genre fits your book.

Use these same methods to contact authors whom you'd like a review blurb from, especially social networks. Contact authors who write in the same genre as you or have themes similar to what is in your book. Keep in mind that authors are busy people, so give them enough information to make a decision, including word count, genre and why you chose them.

Give authors plenty of notice; don't email them expecting a blurb in a month or two weeks. Sometimes you have better luck asking a mid-list author to write a blurb than a bestselling, award-winning big name author. Sometimes.

Ask: When you contact potential reviewers, make sure you remember to actually ask them for a review or review blurb. You can't get a 'yes' if you don't ask. Be gracious no matter what their answer is. Thank them for their time, regardless.

Ask Others: Don't just ask couple of reviewers and then wait months for an answer. Ask others! Keep asking. It's a numbers game, remember? You may have to go through a few nos to get that one yes. And you want more than one review.

Finding reviewers isn't that difficult nowadays; it just takes some work. Finding authors to give you a review blurb may take a bit more time, but it's so worth it. Just remember, do the research, ask and ask others.

Reading is subjective; everyone has different tastes. Writers should never expect 5 star rave reviews, though it's awesome to get them. An honest review is worth more than gold. Even if it's 3 stars and the reviewer didn't like one of your characters. There is always something to learn from a review―for an interested reader and the author. But the key to getting a review is to ask.

P.S. If you've read any of my novels, please consider writing a short review and posting it on Amazon, Chapters, B&N, Kobo etc. And do send me a copy and let me know if I have your permission to use it on my blog and website. :-) Thank you.

Monday, November 29, 2010

HOW TO LAND A LITERARY AGENT: "First Get a Platform"

Over the next few weeks I will continue to present articles to you about landing an agent, via my friend Jeff Rivera. If signing with a literary agency is your big dream, Jeff can help you get their attention. ~ Cheryl

HOW TO LAND A LITERARY AGENT: "First Get a Platform"
by Jeff Rivera, founder of www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com 

Your voice must be heard. There is no greater way to do this than to write a book. If you've ever given any thought to seriously landing an agent or being published, I'd like to offer a few tips that will speed up the process.

First, let me explain, I'm a book publishing executive who writes regularly for the #1 online trade magazine for the media & publishing called Mediabistro. I also write for GalleyCat, Huffington Post and I've interviewed everyone from major agents and editors to James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Nicholas Sparks. I also do something else, I help connect writers with literary agents.

Publishing has changed so dramatically in the last few years that getting published isn't more difficult, it's more challenging. There's a difference and that difference must begin first with a shift in your mindset.
Once you know what literary agents want, it's rather easy to land an agent.

Let's move beyond the fact that you need to write a great manuscript, because you already know that but did you know there's something else more important to an agent than ever before? Your platform. That is your built-in fanbase of readers poised and ready to purchase your book. Demonstrate you have this ,with at least 5000 readers and you can land an agent quicker than you ever could dream possible.

How do you do this? First understand, there's a difference between having 10,000 Twitter followers and having a platform. Anyone can get Twitter followers. You can even pay people to add them for you. That's not a platform.

I don't know about you but I don't tweet that often and I definitely don't read everything every person I follow tweets every day. I am not necessarily a dedicated fan of theirs. If I see their tweet, then I see their tweet. If I don't, then I don't.

As my friend, former Simon & Schuster editor, Marcela Landres says in her ebook What Editors Think, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you." Think about that difference.

The following are a few examples of legitimate platforms that will have literary agents licking their chops:

1) An opt-in mailing list of people who read your information regularly.
2) If you are regularly on television
3) If you have a web series with at least 10,000 views each episode
4) If you are a public speaker
5) If you are a journalist with a column of loyal readers
6) If you have a regular radio, podcast or internet radio show with a significant audience
7) If you've self-published a number of books before and sold at least 5000 copies of each
8) If you have a website with thousands of unique visitors each day
9 If you're the president of a large association or charity
10) If you're a celebrity already in another industry

There are a number of other examples of platforms you can view by visiting: http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. You'll also see over 60 examples of query letters we ghost wrote that successfully garnered requests from top agents to read our clients' manuscripts.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.

A special note from bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif:

A few years ago I used Jeff's query service. I was stunned by the response, especially after years of "following the rules" on how to write a query letter. Jeff breaks those antiquated rules and delivers a query that really grabs agents' attention. I had dozens of requests for partial and full manuscripts, and after a couple of weeks I signed with a reputable agency. My agent has been so supportive and a real cheerleader in everything I do. I highly recommend Jeff's query service. 

For more info on this query service, please email Jeff and me at cheryl@GumboWriters.com 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Best Time of Year to Query Agents

A special welcome to Jeff Rivera, author and entrepreneur. I've known Jeff for a few years and am happy to call him my friend and writing/publishing associate. Jeff has helped many authors find success, either by connecting them to fabulous publishers, agents or editors.

The Best Time of Year to Query Agents
by Jeff Rivera, founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com

As any book publishing professional will tell you, now is the time when the industry goes on hiatus. But guess what? This is one of the best times of the year to pitch agents. Why? Because agents may slow down during the hiatus period but they cannot help but sneak a peek at their email.

I know because I deal with literally hundreds of literary agencies every year.

They're constantly searching for the next hot thing to represent. And if it's sent to them now, they will have enough time to spit polish it before the industry starts back up again in January.

What's so special about January? Editors come back from the holidays with a fresh new perspective. They're also loaded up with their expense accounts all over again so they'll be ready to rock n' roll when they use those accounts to lunch with your new agent.

Expense accounts are often on a "use it or lose it" basis. If the editor didn't use all their "lunch money" last year they'll receive an even less amount this year. It's also around the time when editors and editorial directors have set or about to set their editorial schedules. So, what better time to submit to agents!

If you have something solid and ready, get your query letter together. And it better be good because you only have one shot with these agents. What are agents looking for right now more than ever?

1) Middle grade - If you've written the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid, especially a funny book for boys now's the time to pitch it.

2) Young Adult fiction - Hot, Hot, Hot! If you have a YA book, nothing's hotter in the industry. It's the one genre that has not dipped in sales tremendously. In fact, agencies are adding more agents to their rosters, specifically looking for this genre. More agents means more opportunities for you.

3) Graphic novels - If you're an author who has had a difficult time selling your novel, think about adapting it as a graphic novel. The great thing is, you don't have to be able to draw. Simply align yourself with a great artist. Create a 5-page sample of your work, a detailed summary and presto! That's all you need. 100% of the clients we've done this for have gotten agents.

4) Celebrity Memoirs - If you've got connections to celebrities, even D-List Reality TV star celebrities, this is a sure bet. Submit a solid book proposal "co-written" or ghost written by you and your hot celebrity and two things will happen: 1) The sun will rise tomorrow 2) An agent will request to read your proposal.

5) High Platform Nonfiction - If you have a huge opt-in mailing list, are the president of a large charity or organization, own your own PR firm, or have strong media connections, now's the time to write a book. Remember, if it's a nonfiction book, you only need write a book proposal, not the entire manuscript. With a strong platform, you'll have agents chasing after you instead of the other way around. 100% of the clients we created book proposals for have landed agents and damn good ones within a week or two.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents. So, make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, contact: cheryl@gumbowriters.com and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost written have received at least 10 top agents that have requested to read their manuscripts or proposals.

~Jeff Rivera, www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com and www.GumboWriters.com

A special note from bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif:

A few years ago I used Jeff's query service. I was stunned by the response, especially after years of "following the rules" on how to write a query letter. Jeff breaks those antiquated rules and delivers a query that really grabs agents' attention. I had dozens of requests for partial and full manuscripts, and after a couple of weeks I signed with a reputable agency. My agent has been so supportive and a real cheerleader in everything I do. I highly recommend Jeff's query service.

For more info on this query service, please email Jeff and me at cheryl@GumboWriters.com