Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Wide World of Publishing...

Since Monday's post was more personal, I'm answering a couple of questions today that pertain more to the business side of the publishing world. I don't know that I'm an expert, but I'll happily share what I've learned!

Sara Richardson is the author behind our questions today. She is... a lifelong storyteller... passionate about communicating reasons for hope. Previously she has been an advertising copywriter, an Internet communications manager, and a whitewater rafting guide. In addition to writing fiction, Sara has published nonfiction articles in parenting and family magazines. As a member of MOPS International, Sara enjoys speaking to moms’ groups. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University. Sara lives and plays in Colorado with her husband and two young sons.

Check out her blog at MomStories!

Sara's questions: 1) Does your publisher check on things like how many people are visiting/commenting on your blog? Do they care about things like that? 2) How did you go about finding the best agent for you? I have a couple of possibilities right now and I need to make a decision.

I'll start at the beginning and admit that I have absolutely no idea if my publisher checks (or even cares) about my blog hits. When I signed my first contract, I was encouraged to start a blog and begin the process of creating an online presence. It was a hard thing for me to do since I'm a pretty private person... But I get the spirit behind it, especially since I know how I feel if I go looking for information on an author and find zilch. It's very frustrating. (On the flip side, I can say that visiting an author's site/blog has caused me to go out and buy their book on two separate occasions. Online networking/marketing does work on some level.) Anyway, once I had a website and blog started, I invited my publisher to give me and my designer feedback. I wanted to know if they were happy with what we had created. I received some very helpful comments and critiques and changed the site accordingly. Now I just do my thing, and as far as I know it's a non-issue.

However, this topic seems to dovetail into a issue that has been at the forefront of my mind lately: branding. The longer I spend in the publishing business, the more I'm beginning to realize that if, when, and how you blog or whether or not you have a stellar website are not necessarily the most vital things you can do to help readers connect with you. It seems to me that authors who have a clear understanding of who they are, what they write, why they write, and who they write for are the most "successful" writers around. Of course, we measure success in a hundred different ways (and some of us could care less about the more traditional definitions of success), but I'm talking about authors who reach the greatest audiences... At any rate, I've tried to tackle this enormous subject in several posts: Branding (not the cow kind), Author Branding (a needle in a haystack), and How to Brand (a stab in the semi-dark). I actually never finished the conversation as the Christmas holiday fit smack-dab in the middle of these more serious posts, and it seemed like people weren't tracking with me. Who knows? Maybe I'll finish up the final two posts now... You've got me thinking. ;)

As for the agent question, my only advice is: go with your gut. I had three agents in the running when I had to make that difficult decision, and the deeper I got into it the easier the choice became. Of course I prayed about it, solicited the advice of my husband and friends, talked to other authors and industry professionals, and spent time on the phone with all the candidates, but from our first interaction my agent seemed to stand out. We had similar goals and visions. I appreciated her candor. She appeared to be excited about my work and eager to represent me. In a nutshell, we clicked. And it's been incredible. I couldn't ask for a better agent.


  1. Hi Nicole, Thanks for answering my questions! I really appreciate your insights. We did sign with an agent, but I know there are a lot of people out there with similar questions.

    I agree with you, branding is such a huge and difficult topic. I feel that struggle between just wanting to write and having to do all the marketing/branding/self-promotion. I guess we just need to focus on why we're trying to sell books. (Yes, a big part of it is because the publishers have to make money.) But I was reading 1 Timothy recently and I was struck by what Paul says. Basically God's goal is that every person will hear the truth and be saved. That's what God cares about. Not necessarily how many books we're selling or how we're marketing ourselves, but are we getting the word out? Are we promoting the truth of the Gospel through our stories? Is that the heart and passion behind all of the time and energy we put into this? Marketing is part of that. Promoting our books in hopes that someone might be encouraged. That someone might be changed. That helps me feel more comfortable with the marketing thing. Knowing that I'm irrelevant, and the power of God's truth is what I'm selling. (Thank goodness for that, or no one would buy! :-))

  2. Okay, this question doesn't necessarily pertain to the business of the writing world. But when you first came out with your new web design, I wondered if you would continue to change the design of your website to reflect your most recent book or if you would keep this one?

    P.S.: As someone who is struggling with the concept of branding, I beg, I plead, I whine that you finish those last two posts on branding. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease...