PTP Attendee Interview

Push to Publish 2015

Good morning everyone!

Unfortunately the 2015 Push to Publish conference has come to an end. Thank you to everyone who made it! It was a wonderful experience and very informative when it came to the writing and publishing world. To those of you who couldn’t make it, have no fear, keep a close eye on our Twitter, Facebook, and website to sign up for next years conference.

Apprehensive about spending the money to attend a conference? It is worth it. But don’t just take our word for it. Below is a short interview with Larry Loebell one of this year’s PTP atendees and one of the prize winners of the McGlinn fiction contest. See what he had to say about his time at this years conference.

What do you write?

I write plays, stories (short and longish – I just finished a 17,000 word novella), and I am at work on a novel.  I have written for screen as well.

What brought you to Push to Publish this year?

Although I have been writing for a long time, I have only been writing fiction seriously for about the past 18 months.  I wanted to meet writers working in the Philadelphia area and learn about the book and magazine publishing world, and try my pitch on an agent and editor or two.

What were some of the highlights for you as a writer?

I was one of the prize winners of the McGlinn fiction contest, so it was an honor to be at the award dinner and meet the McGlinn family and Robert Johnson (the contest winner) and hear the kind things Bonnie Jo Campbell had to say about my story. I also took Bonnie’s master class and found her quite inspiring – not to mention fun and funny.  I’ve since read three of her books.  Always a pleasure to be turned on to an author I haven’t read before whose work I instantly love.

I also learned a great deal preparing for and then delivering my agent pitch.

What do you find most valuable about Push to Publish and other writing conferences?

This is my first conference of this type.  I have a lot of experience with play-writing and theater conferences but am new to the world of fiction writing.

What advice would you offer other writers about making the most of their writing conference experience?

I always feel that I can learn new things.  Since I had no specific expectations I found most of the sessions interesting and thought-provoking.

Interview: Corinne Liccketto Moulder (Publicist)

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By Jon Busch

Only three more days until the Push to Publish conference! Come on out this Saturday, October 10th, and say hello to Corinne Moulder and the many other talented literary folks who will be sharing industry knowledge and advice.

Corinne Moulder joined Smith Publicity in 2007. As Director of Business Development, her consultative approach, insightful recommendations, and tireless work ethic make Corinne a valuable part of our clients’ success as she develops aggressive, “out of the box,” creative, and successful media outreach plans. Corinne earned a degree in English from Ursinus College, with minors in Communications and Creative Writing.

  1. I’ve noticed that publicity campaigns for books tend to be either excessively sweeping, as with the recent case of Go Set a Watchman, or niche focused and modest. How do you discern which type of campaign a book deserves? Is it author recognition alone or merit based?

At Smith Publicity we are selective about the projects we take on and look to each author/book as a unique entity. By evaluating the author’s background, the core themes/plotline/concepts, the author’s marketing goals and ongoing initiatives, publication date, etc., we’re able to whittle down which of our services might be a fit and then work with authors to tailor their campaign together with their support.

  1. In the case of the modest campaigns, what types of tactics/strategies will you implement?

For modest campaigns, whether due to budget or recommendation of our team, we look to start with initiatives that help establish a foundation for the author to build upon. We typically begin working within the author’s local media market to build as this creates an obvious point of leverage for expanding into bigger regional and national markets. Additionally, targeting online book reviewers, bloggers, and genre-specific print reviewers increases the chance to start building the number of reviews.

  1. Are television, print, and radio still the preferred avenues of advertising or have web campaigns surpassed these older venues?

We do not participate in any advertising opportunities. From a PR perspective, however, we absolutely incorporate outreach to TV, radio, and print media contacts when relevant. Traditional media coverage offers lasting credibility as clips, articles, and mentions are often shared on the web.

  1. Given the glut of content available free on the web, have you increased the use of inbound techniques? If so, please provide an example.

We have tapped into many of the great resources on the web to support our services—especially for works of fiction. NetGalley has become a staple enhancement in our fiction services. Through the great connections we’ve made with bloggers and online reviewers, we’ve also added organized blog tours to our fiction services. Many book clubs have gone virtual which allows for the opportunity to connect with club coordinators across the country to pitch our authors. We’re always scoping out new ways to support our authors and are, of course, open to their ideas as well!

  1. How has the increase in self-publishing affected your profession?

The boom of self-publishing has greatly benefited book publicity. We’re now able to work with top talent who may never have been able to bring their book to market had it not been for the support of self-publishing. Furthermore, media and reviewers have embraced self-published authors which provides publicists with a much more expansive pool of contacts to pitch on behalf of their authors.

  1. What type of book has the greatest likelihood of success in the present market?

We don’t discriminate! There is a market out there for so many books and, upon evaluating the criteria for a campaign (author background, goals and expectations, publication date, and more), we work quickly to identify the potential a project has before we take it on. The key is creating a plan that targets the most applicable media contacts and reviewers for the subject/concepts of the book.

  1. How much do a book publicist’s services cost?

Services range anywhere from $300 to $4,500 per month, depending on the scope of the campaign, the level of publicist involvement, and marketing support service enhancements.

  1. Is book publicity a thankless business?

No! We’ve been so fortunate to work with many, many authors who strongly believe in our team and our services. Here is just a sampling of testimonials we’ve received from authors we’ve represented: http://www.smithpublicity.com/testimonials/. We love the work that we do and it shows.

Interview with author Karen Pokras

Interviews, Push to Publish 2015

With less than a week until the 2015 Push to Publish conference, the preparations begin for an exciting and informative day. There is still time to register! Click here for more information.

In the meantime, check out an interview between published author Karen Pokras, a panelist at the conference, and Philadelphia Stories intern Raven Eckman for some fun writing tips!

Karen Pokras writes both middle school and contemporary fiction. She has won several writing awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her books include the Nate Rocks series and The Whispered Wishes series. For more information about Karen, check out her website here.

Why Middle Grade Fiction and Contemporary Adult Fiction? They seem like such different genres. Do you favor one more than the other?

Yes, they are very different! My mind is constantly coming up with story ideas — some for children, some for adults. I enjoy writing for both genres, and love that I don’t have to limit myself to being just a children’s writer or just an adult fiction writer. It can be tricky shifting gears since I tend to jump quickly from one project to the next, and they are often so different. For example, I wrote two middle grade stories this summer and am now working on a legal thriller. However, I think I would get bored doing it any other way.

How do you know you’re finished with a book? Does it just feel right?

After I finish what I feel is a decent self-edited draft, it goes out to a group of beta readers who I hand pick. These are people whom I trust will give me honest opinions (ie – not my mom). Based on their notes, I will often make several rounds of revisions until I feel I’ve polished the story to meet their concerns. It then goes to my editor who works her magic. After another round of revisions, I can usually rename my document FINAL and feel confident about the finished product.

When was the first time you felt like you would make it as a writer?

A few months after I published Nate Rocks the World, my first book, I decided to enter it into a literary contest, not expecting anything to happen. To be honest, I forgot all about it. About six months later, I received an email saying I’d both won first place in the Children’s Chapter Book category and the Grand Prize overall. I sent the email out to my publicist at the time because I thought for sure I had read it wrong. Not only was this my first self-published book, but it was one that had been rejected by more agents that I cared to admit. It was a great feeling to know that maybe I actually could write something decent.

What was the most difficult of your books to write? The least difficult? Why?

Millicent Marie Is Not My Name was my least difficult book to write. I really connected to Millie right out of the gate, and I think it shows. She is my best selling book and my favorite character (sorry Nate!). The words really flew while writing her story. That book was supposed to be a one and done, but I get a lot of requests for a book two, so I am hoping to put out a second book next year.

The most difficult book to write was Holly’s Wishes, the second book in my Whispered Wishes romance series. I re-wrote it start to finish EIGHT times. As the second book in a four book series, I wanted to make sure it had enough to keep my readers interested enough to keep going. That’s a lot of pressure!

How do you manage to make your stories different and stand out?

I’m not just a writer; I’m also an avid reader, so I try to write things that I’d want to read. I hope that others will as well.

What is your best marketing tip to writers who are looking to get published?

Social media is a place to be social. Interact with your readers on a friendly basis. Get to know them. Think of it as a huge cocktail party. Talk about what you’re working on, but don’t shove “buy my book” down their throats. It’s a huge turn off. If you can build up your fan base before you publish, you’ll be amazed at the support (and sales) you get when your big day finally arrives.

What is the most important thing to remember when you are writing?

For me, if I feel myself getting stuck, I tell myself to just walk away. I know it will come — even if it’s at a time when I can’t sit down and work, I can still usually stop and jot down some notes. I’ll never try to force a story out. Nothing good ever comes out that way.

What is your favorite book? Did it help to inspire you to begin writing?

I don’t know that I have a favorite book. I love to read and love so many books. Judy Blume was and still is a huge inspiration for my middle grade books, and my desire to write books that encourage children to read more.

If you had to describe the entirety of your writing career in just a sentence what would it be?

An amazing experience that’s only just beginning.

How important are names in your book? How do you go about naming your characters?

I love names! When I picked my title Nate Rocks the World, I was inspired by the movie Good Will Hunting. I loved how the character’s name (Will Hunting) was used in the title but not necessarily as his name. In Nate Rocks, my main character is Nathan Rockledge, but he becomes Nate Rocks when he daydreams himself as a super hero. I knew I had to play on that in the title. I did something similar with Chasing Invisible (my main character is named Chase and was originally James until my publisher and I came up with the title) and of course Millicent Marie is not my Name is an obvious play on Millie’s name (which was completely random.) A lot of times when I get stuck on picking a character’s name, I’ll turn to Facebook, pick a friend and look through their friend list to find names. I’ll often mix and match first and last names … so watch out … you could be my next character!

Do you plot out your stories or write as you go?

I’ve tried to plot, but I’m definitely more of a write as I go writer. I think it’s more exciting that way, and I get to experience my book the same way a reader will.

What are you working on now?

I’ve got two projects going at the same time, both very different. I’m about ¾ done with the second book in a middle grade mystery that I started at the beginning of the summer, but I put it to the side to begin a legal thriller that I felt compelled to write. It’s also about ¾ done at this point, and I hope to have the first draft done in the next month or so. Welcome to my crazy brain!

Any advice you want to give inspiring writers that you wish you would have known when you started out?

I was very fortunate to meet some extremely helpful folks right at the outset who helped me get started. I learned that in this industry most authors are generous and happy to pay it forward. Readers are willing and able to buy more than one book. We are not competitors, but rather in this together – to both learn from each other and help boost each other up. I highly recommend joining the Indie Author Group on Facebook. It’s a great group filled with resources to help writers of all levels.

Making the Most of Your Agent/Editor Speed Date

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By Christine Weiser, Executive Director

One of the busiest times at Push to Publish is the speed date sign up at registration. How do you know which person to meet with? How can you get the most from your time? Below are some quick tips to help you prepare.

1. Are you ready to meet with an agent? This is the most frequent question we’re asked during sign up. Although agents like to hear your book ideas during the day’s many networking opportunities, they really don’t want to see your work unless you have a completed, polished, edited book that they can start pitching tomorrow. You will make a far more positive impression by saying hello to an agent during a network opportunity like meals, after our “meet the agents” closing session, or at our a cocktail reception. Take the time to share your idea. Don’t be afraid to swap cards, and do keep in touch with the agents once you’re ready.

2. Do your homework. Read through the agent and editor bio page, and make at least three choices. If you do not have a finished, completed, polished book ready to pitch to an agent (see #1), look for an editor who reads the kind of work you write. Do you write memoir? Experimental poetry? Historical fiction? We have a team of terrific editors available to offer valuable feedback that you can use to achieve the finished work mentioned in #1. Many attendees have had their work picked up after meeting with one of these terrific editors. Again, don’t be afraid to swap cards and keep in touch after the conference.

3. Be prepared. Bring no more than 10 pages of a manuscript, and be able to describe your work in just a few sentences. What makes your work unique? Who is your audience? What makes you uniquely qualified to write this work? You can get a lot accomplished in 10 minutes if you arrive prepared.

4. Have fun! Have I mentioned that we build in lots of networking opportunities at the Push to Publish conference? Introduce yourself to a stranger. Sit down with new friends at lunch and talk about your writing goals. Are you looking for a book club? A writing group? What other support do you hope to gain after the conference is over? We cannot emphasize enough the value of using the Push to Publish conference to grow your professional learning network as a writer, no matter where you are in your craft experience.

We look forward to seeing you on October 10!

Meet the Panelists 2015

Push to Publish 2015

Meet the Panelists Coming to Push to Publish

Whether you are an established writer or just getting started, this one-day workshop will provide valuable resources you can use to get your work in print and online.

Meet the panelists joining us for the 2015 Push to Publish conference on October 10, 2015!

 

Ed Briant is the author and illustrator of over a dozen books, including picture books, early readers, graphic novels, and young adult novels. He illustrates the Petal and Poppy graphic novels with his wife Lisa Jahn Clough for Houghton Mifflin’s Green Light series, and he writes and illustrates the weekly web comic, Tales from the Slush Pile, for Publisher’s weekly. He was received a Flying Start Award from Publisher’s Weekly for his picture book Paper Parade, and was noted as a Newcomer to Watch by the Horn Book for his picture book Don’t Look Now. He teaches Illustration Practice at MICA in Baltimore, and Writing For Children at Rowan University in New Jersey. Read more about his work at edbriant.com.

Gregory Frost is the author of eight novels including the Shadowbridge series (Del Rey) and Fitcher’s Brides (Tor). His short stories have appeared most recently in Asimov’s Magazine, Out of Tune (Jonathan Maberry, ed.), and Happily Ever After (John Klima, ed.). He’s director of the fiction writing workshop at Swarthmore College. Check out more on his blog at www.gregoryfrost.com.

Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts is a writer, educator, and publisher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Kentucky, an M.B.A. from Montclair State University, and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Fairleigh-Dickinson University. Most of her work as a writer probes the intersection of faith/spirituality with culture and social issues such as race, class, and gender. In addition to authoring eight books, including her most recent, The Search for Susu, Tracey has written about business, education, publishing/writing, and parenting for numerous online and print publications. She is the former Managing Editor at CLC Publications, a PA-based religious publisher. Her company, NewSeason Books, publishes what she calls “transformational literature” from authors who are looking to launch their work via e-publishing formats. She is an English professor at the Community College of Philadelphia, but also serves as a Thesis Mentor in Rosemont’s Graduate Publishing program. Find her online at www.traceymlewis.com.

Thomas V. Hartman has nearly 20 years of experience in publishing and digital communications as an acquisitions editor, Web designer, writer/photographer, and literary agent. He has been a Commissioning Editor at Elsevier Science and a Senior Editor at John Wiley and Son. Formerly he was Poetry Editor and Web Editor at Painted Bride Quarterly and Manager of the Book Publishing Program at the American College of Physicians. Professor Hartman is an editor, with Michael A. LaComb, MD, of In Whatever Houses We May Visit (ACP Press, 2007), an anthology of poems about illness and healing. His writing or photography has appeared in The Photo ReviewPif; the Philadelphia InquirerPhiladelphia Business Journal; N + 1; Poetry.org, and more. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. cum laude, English) and Columbia University (M.A. History of Art); and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing from NYU. Professor Hartman is a former Writing Center Associates Fellow at Georgetown University.

Merry Jones is the author of the Elle Harrison suspense novels (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES), the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, WINTER BREAK, OUTSIDE EDEN and, this November, IN THE WOODS), the Zoe Hayes mysteries (THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT…) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.) Jones’ work has been translated into seven languages, and has appeared in CHILD, AMERICAN WOMAN, and PHILADELPHIA and GLAMOUR, where she was a regular contributor. Currently, she leads workshops in Suspense Writing. She is a member of the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Philadelphia Liars Club. Visit her at MerryJones.com.

Erin Entrada Kelly is the author of BLACKBIRD FLY and THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS, both with HarperCollins. BLACKBIRD FLY is a 2015 Junior Library Selection, SIBA Best Book of the South, and a nominee for the Kirkus Prize and the ALA Notable Children’s Book Award. In addition to writing for children and young adults, Kelly has published more than 30 short stories in publications worldwide and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her third novel, VIRGIL AND VALENCIA, will serve as her MFA thesis for Rosemont College and will be published in March 2017. Learn more at www.erinentradakelly.com.

Janet Spencer King is an independent book editor working with fiction and non-fiction writers, both first-time and experienced. She is also a self-publishing director, guiding authors through the entire process, from cover design to printed book and final e-book distribution. To help authors get their book “out there,” King provides them with marketing starting strategies, the steps necessary to create an author’s platform. She lives in New York City. Check out her website at www.bookdevelopmentgroup.com.

Helen W. Mallon’s new book is The Beautiful Name: Four Short Stories, published by a small independent press. She is a regular contributor of book reviews to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and has had reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle and Fiction Writers Review. Her writing has won awards from Philadelphia Stories and Relief: A Christian Quarterly. Helen is a writing coach for private client and groups, helping each writer to take advantage of the uncertainties of the writing process to develop confidence in their own voices. Her MFA is from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Corinne Liccketto Moulder joined Smith Publicity in 2007. As Director of Business Development, her consultative approach, insightful recommendations, and tireless work ethic make Corinne a valuable part of Smith Publicity’s clients’ success as she develops aggressive, “out of the box,” creative, and successful media outreach plans. Corinne earned a degree in English from Ursinus College, with minors in Communications and Creative Writing.

Karen Pokras writes adult contemporary and middle grade fiction under the names Karen Pokras and Karen Pokras Toz. Her books have won several awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, the Grand Prize in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for two Global E-Book Awards for Pre-Teen Literature. Karen is a member of the Society of the Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). For children, her books include the Nate Rocks series, Millicent Marie is Not My Name, and Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. For adult readers, Karen’s books include Chasing Invisible and The Whispered Wishes series. For more information, please visit www.karenpokras.com.

Lynn Rosen has many years of experience as an editor at publishing houses including Ballantine Books and Running Press. For eight years she ran the Leap First Literary Agency. Currently she is director of the Open Book program, dealing with classes and author events, and the new indie Open Book Bookstore in Elkins Park, PA. She was previously Editorial Director of Book Business magazine, and Director of Graduate Publishing Programs at Rosemont College. She is the author of Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests.
Miral Sattar is CEO of Bibliocrunch, an award-winning platform that matches authors with trusted, prescreened book publishing professionals. Members of our community have worked for some of the largest publishing houses in the world, including Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. Bibliocrunch has helped numerous authors hit the Amazon best-seller list. Miral has worked in the media industry for 11 years, most recently at TIME where she launched several digital initiatives including an iPad and mobile site, mobile apps, a video and podcast channel, blogs, and SEO. She and her writing have been featured in numerous media outlets including BusinessWeek, BBC, TIME, Forbes, Money Magazine, Consumer Reports, PBS, and other media publications. She has a MS in Publishing (NYU) and a BS in Computer Engineering (Columbia). You can follow Miral on Twitter @bibliocrunch or @miralsattar.

Curtis Smith has published over one hundred stories and essays. His work has been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Spiritual Writing. He is the author of five story collections, three novels, and two essays collections. His most recent books are Beasts and Men (stories, Press 53) and Communion (essays, Dock Street Press). Next year Ig Publishing will release his next book, a series of essays inspired by Slaughterhouse-Five.

Anne Converse Willkomm has served as Rosemont’s Director of Publishing Program since 2012. Prior to that she served as the Program Advisor and taught developmental writing at Philadelphia University and Rosemont. She is also a writer and a freelance editor, where she works with both corporate clients and emerging writers on novel-length work. Her own creative writing has appeared in The Medulla Review, Postcard ShortsFiction365, Sybil Magazine, FlashFiction.net, and The Midwest Coast Review. Several longer works of her fiction were twice named semi-finalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition.