Thursday, October 29, 2009

Professional Development: Book TV a helpful resource

There are a good number of resources available for writers and small publishers, both at home and online.

I like to refer people first to the Adirondack Center for Writing, based at Paul Smith’s College, because that is our local resource for writers, and, for a very small staff, they do an extraordinary amount of work to help writers of all ages improve their craft. Yet, as small business owners, we know that market research and professional development is an ongoing process that always takes us well beyond the geographical boundaries of our region. The Internet is full of industry news and ideas to help writers write better, publish, and get paid for their work.

One great resource is Book TV, a product of the C-SPAN2 cable television network. Sunday morning is a great time to flip on Book TV and watch non-fiction authors tell us about their latest books (I’m partial to non-fiction). The video usually comes from an event at a bookstore. At the very least, watching Book TV is a tremendous motivating tool. I’ve seen people watch the videos and say, “I can do that. That should be me up there.”

The Book TV web site is a helpful place to find all the network’s video features, links to book fairs, and News About Books. Some of the latest News blurbs are: Publisher Sets EBook Price at $35; 2009 National Book Award Finalists Announced; Libraries Start “Lending” EBooks; Textbooks Go Digital; and Book Sales Are Down in 2009. Now, tell me, you’d probably click on a few of these stories, right? Each is a link to another web site with the news story.

The online Book TV news story I recently found most interesting was tagged “Authors Look for Novel Ways to Promote Books.” Click on the link, and it takes you to the Washington Post web site. The article, written by Neely Tucker and published on Sept. 24, 2009, had the headline: “On Web, A Most Novel Approach: With Promotion Money Tight, Authors Take to Online Sites To Toot Their Own Horns.” One focus of the article was the story of Kelly Corrigan, author of “The Middle Place,” who took marketing into her own hands, and, with the help of a web site, a video trailer, a YouTube video of her reading samples of her book, and countless hours pounding the pavement peddling her books, she hand-sold between 2,000 and 3,000 copies of her book. Within a year, her book sold 80,000 copies in hardcover and 260,000 copies in paperback and was on the New York Times bestseller list for 20 weeks, topping off at the No. 2 spot.

Stories like this really motivate me to get out there and write, publish and sell my books. There is so much to learn from others, and there are thousands of resources to tap. Have fun exploring!

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