January: Giveaways, Workshops, & Goals

Planning your year, reading challenges, romance controversy, & FREE STUFF

Happy New Year readers & writers!

Here in New England, the start to the year often feels like a new blanket of snow, awaiting ambitious footprints. Everything is fresh and crisp and quiet. There’s a sense of waiting, anticipation. Inevitably, that white snow will be marred by boots and cars and melting soon enough. But in this moment, its expectant. It’s waiting for us, to venture outside into the cold and see the world in a different, crystalline light.

I spent the youngest part of this year not on the computer, for a variety of reasons. I turned back to paper, both for writing and reading, turned to rest and contemplation. Maybe that’s why it feels as if the year hasn’t quite started yet, even as January speeds along, like a snowball rolling down hill, getting larger and heavier as it gathers speed. But the break from screens has caused other parts of my brain to light up: ideas for novel edits, short story ideas, workshop syllabi, marketing plans, etc. A kind of reset that I didn’t know I needed.

Do you need a bit of a reset as you stare down the long, daunting length of the year ahead? Take a breath, take a walk, cook or order yourself a good meal and savor it. Fuss over making your favorite hot (or otherwise) beverage. Journal or read a good, inspiring book. Then set your sights on the next big thing.

Some people find it helpful to set goals at this time of year. If that’s you, take a look at my post Mapping Out Your Writing Life. I’m a firm believer in making plans that work for you, ones that are achievable and feasible. In the podcast, Writing Excuses, their first episode of the new year discusses career paths and how it’s important to have a flexible and branching vision of what you want that can be adapted to the capriciousness of publishing. Where do you see your writing, reading, and/or marketing ambitions taking you this year? Manifest those big dreams and beautiful mistakes and share your ideas in my discussion thread about 2020 plans.

Me? I want to help you. That’s why I’ll be offering more giveaways, starting this month, when I’ll be giving away a free marketing or query consult to two (2) lucky subscribers. Read on down to the bottom for more details. I’ll also continue to write about more topics that are important to you, teach workshops (check out my ones in February, they’re filling fast!), and connect with more creatives (like you!).

The light is changing as the world tilts away from one solstice and towards another. Your ideas may shift and change, as the light hits them differently. Embrace the new perspective! If there’s anything I’ve learned about this art and this industry, it’s that being open to change means being open to opportunity.

~Allison


Upcoming Seminars: 2020!

*indicates registration required

Not available these dates? Connect with me for one-on-one coaching that fits your schedule!

Book a marketing consult today!


Writing/Marketing Resources: 2020 Goals Edition!


Industry News

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has practically imploded over the last month, with accusations of discriminatory practices causing many members at all levels to cancel membership, publishers to pull out of sponsorships, the cancellation of the 2020 RITA awards, and the resignation of both RWA’s president and executive director. For a detailed timeline, check out author Claire Ryan’s blow-by-blow coverage.

Looking for an alternative to Amazon? Book and web publisher, Andy Hunter, (cofounder of Literary Hub and Catapult, among others), hopes his new website, Bookshop, will offer a way for indie bookstores to sell books more robustly online. The site will also give the book ecosystem an independent alternative for affiliate links and online revenue. Bookshop is slated to go live in early 2020.

Can’t wait for Bookshop to launch? Audiobook seller Libro.fm, which partners with indie bookstores in audiobook sales, just launched the site Bookstore Link, which connects readers seeking specific titles to their local indie’s website where they can purchase the book, presenting yet another affiliate link option.


Tea

In 2019, one of my greatest dreams was fulfilled — and no, it wasn’t writing related. My “dislikes all hot beverages” husband became an engaged tea drinker. His gateway beverage? Yogi’s Egyptian Licorice tea. While not for everyone, this sweet and spicy tisane can be a comforting dessert tea. Personally, I prefer it blended, as in MEM Tea’s Licorice Blend, where rooibos helps balance the sweet licorice and winter spices.


Like what you’ve read so far and want more, plus free stuff? Subscribe to Books, Marketing, and More by Friday, January 24th to enter a giveaway for one of two (2) FREE 30-minute marketing or query consult! We can talk events, marketing, query letters, agents, tea, whatever will help you envision your marketing and writing goals right now.


Let me know about upcoming events, marketing campaigns, and projects so I can help signal boost!

Happy writing!
~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
Keep Writing, Keep Connecting! Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Website


Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

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Writing yourself into a new year

I’m putting the final polish on my next newsletter (goal setting! workshops! giveaways!), but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what ambitions you have for the new year, be they writing, reading, marketing, or just plain ‘ol life related. What glorious mistakes do you plan to make this year? What are you scared or excited to try? Please share in the discussion thread below! I’ll put mine in the comments too.

~Allison

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December SuperEdition: A few of my favorite things

NaNo excerpt, revision wisdom, book & gift recs, and a big ol' mug of hot chocolate

Greetings writers,

We’ve had three snow storms in the Boston area, so even though the solstice and various and sundry holidays aren’t here yet, I think it’s safe to say it’s a good time to snuggle in with hot cocoa and lovely books. So in this newsletter, I’ve made you all a list of some of my favorite 2019 reads and sprinkled gift recommendations throughout for the writers/readers in your life (Or for you. Actually, it’s mostly for you. Treat yo’ self.)

You may recall, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year, which meant I was attempting to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I made it to *squints* around 38,000 words, give or take, which, while not being the full 50k, is still a friggin’ boatload of words. Congrats to everyone else who accepted the challenge and/or used November to hold themselves accountable to a writing or marketing goal!

I had hoped that tackling a new project through NaNoWriMo would help me get a better sense of my feelings about the new story I have in mind: point-of-view(s), story arc, an ending, you know, the trivial things. Alas, I feel almost more fragmented now than when I began — in this case, because I have so many ideas and it’s hard to reign them in! So while NaNo was fruitful for me word count wise, I’m not sure where I stand writing wise, when it comes to this new project, except to say that I still really dig my main character, Hazel. Here she is, being feisty, when she returns to her mother’s ancestral home which is currently occupied by soldiers:

The front hall is still the same as when I was a child, though the floor tiles, smooth and pale as teeth, are cracked and broken in far more places. The wallpaper droops in large, curling shadows, and the hulking winter drapes are still up between the room. To the left is the sitting room, with lantern light coming in through the front window, leaving yellow panes on the floor and stark shadows. To the right is the dining room. There’s a huddle of soldiers around the table, with a circle of bright lanterns. When they see we’ve entered, they hurriedly pull the winter drapes shut with a puff of dust. Henry sneezes.

What I wouldn’t give to know what they are planning at that table.

The Sergeant has turned around to face us but continues not to look at me. Instead, he looks up and over us, at the wall above the doors and holds up the light. I turn, and there she is.

I’ve never seen this painting before, but the resemblance to Aunt Essie is undeniable— the sharp line to the jaw, eyes that could cut a soul to ribbons. Creeping, black mold eats away at the edges of the painting — her shoulders are dark with it. The light flickers over her features like a flame.

Lady Iris. My step-grandmother. 

“Burn it,” I blurt out.

Are you also trying to figure out what to do next with a project? The agent-led, industry-oriented Print Run podcast most recently featured an episode (their “Decembosode”) on revising projects and knowing when they’re “done.” Towards the end, co-host Eric Hane says you’ll know when your work is ready for readers (at whatever stage) when, above all, you “do yourself justice.”

A little over a year ago, I thought Ghost Roads was done and I happily told my writing group I was finished. They congratulated me and expressed excitement at the possibility of doing a full-book read. A process that would include an in-depth critique and another round of revision. I agonized for a month over whether I wanted to accept their offer of feedback. The book was supposed to be finished already, after four and a half years. Finally a friend put it to me bluntly: “It sounds like you’re afraid of the work.” That phrase clarified things for me, in a similar way to Hane’s pronouncement above: if all that stood between the book being almost-done and actually* done was “the work,” then I owed it to myself to push the book as far as I could. And that meant getting that last* round of notes.

Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect to be ready for feedback or a next step. But it should be worthy of the time and emotional energy you’ve put into it, as well as your hopes for it. You and your project are worth your devotion to it.

For me, 2020 will bring more seminars, a session at The Muse, slots for new marketing and manuscript clients, a revamped website, and sparkly new giveaways. And hopefully I’ll find some direction with a new project, whether it’s Hazel’s or another.

* The work is never really done. In the new year I’ll also be revising Ghost Roads yet again, based on notes from my agent, to be sent out to a fresh batch of editors. Trust me, I plan to keep Print Run’s wisdom handy (you can give yourself the gift of their bonus content too).

Do yourself justice, friends, no matter what your pursuit, and may your New Year bring fresh opportunities!

Allison


Did someone say giveaways? Congrats Janet Costa Bates, author of Seaside Dream, and several forthcoming titles, who won November’s free consult! Be sure to sign-up to be included in future (January!) subscriber giveaways for marketing and query consults.


Upcoming Seminars: 2020!

*indicates registration required

Not available these dates? Connect with me for one-on-one coaching that fits your schedule!

Book a marketing consult today!


Favorite Reads of 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My favorite read this year, this book was everything I wanted: an atmospheric fairytale that unspooled with compelling characters, unexpected twists, and sharp, elegant prose. I didn’t want this book to end — luckily, there’s Uprooted.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
A collection of moving, eviscerating, short tales about women, bodies, and power. I will now read anything Machado writes and can’t wait to dig into her genre-smashing memoir, In the Dream House.

Witchmark by C.L. Polk
So many things to love in one book: steampunk! magic! mystery! flipping gender tropes! Polk achieves astounding worldbuilding with concision. Looking forward to the sequel, Stormsong, due out in February 2020.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Devastatingly, gorgeous, this young adult novel deals with grief in a way that is both despairing and magical, while also full of a kind of wild hope. It’s also deeply about family and cross-cultural navigation. Also, magical birds. So, of course I loved it.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
I read this book just after Astonishing Color and the two novels fell into a deep conversation with each other in my brain. This book has been out for awhile, but was new to me and was a wonderful, literary and philosophical tangle of time, family, grief, and connecting across worlds (literal and metaphysical).

Almost Super by Marion Jensen
We’re big fans of superheroes in our house but this middle-grade novel flips the premise on it’s head: can you still be a superhero if your powers are useless (like really, hilariously useless)? Jensen doesn’t shy away from big, ethical questions but tackles them with humor, friendship, explosions, and goats milk, the drink of champions.


Writing/Marketing Resources

Learn what it takes to sword fight under different weather/terrain conditions from author Melissa Caruso (who you should all be following on Twitter).
Gift Idea: Melissa’s books are on my own personal gift list and should be on yours too. Magic! Birds! Magic birds!

If, like me, you used Scrivener to write your NaNoWriMo novel, you may be feeling last as to how to go about revising. Luckily, Literature & Latte have a blog post with this nitty-gritty post on how to use the various revision features in Scrivener.
Gift Idea: Buy a copy of Scrivener for a writer in your life! One of the best gifts I ever received.

Writing the Other has just announced its 2020 lineup, including its Year of Writing Inclusively. I’ve taken their courses and this organization is essential for all writers, but especially those who are looking to expand their abilities, tell inclusive stories, and write outside of their comfort zone. WtO also has a ton of excellent free resources.
Gift Idea: Their courses (and their book) make wonderful presents! You can give the gift of a class to a fellow writer or donate to their scholarship fund.

Prep yourself fiscally and professionally for the new year with this informative 88 Cups of Tea podcast episode with financial expert, Laura Adams. They discuss marketing, self-publishing budgets, marketing, and more.
Gift Idea: 88 Cups of Tea’s interviews with storytellers should be part of your listening life in the new year. Give the gift of their Patreon support for bonus episodes + content.


Industry News

HarperCollins Childrens is launching a new imprint called Heartdrum, focusing on Native creators and stories, and inspired in part by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. Co-helmed by author Cynthia Leitich Smith and editor Rosemary Brosnan, the imprint formed out of a desire for “positive, heartening change in the form of resonant representation across all age markets and formats.” One of their first titles is I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day.

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts has released their 2018 report on gender-parity in literary magazines. The results? Overall, some improvements, including the top four magazines publishing more women than men, an increased representation of non-binary writers, and, for the first time, all 25 of the journals in their “Larger Literary Landscape” count had at least 40% women writers.


Hot Cocoa

I like a good ol’ cup of Swiss Miss as much as the next person, but if you’re looking for a truly fine cup of hot cocoa, Lake Champlain’s Traditional Hot Chocolate is my current go-to. Blend with hot milk and top with marshmallows + whipped cream for a perfect, warm hug after playing in the snow. Or gift co-workers alongside fancy marshmallows.


Let me know about upcoming events, marketing campaigns, and projects so I can help signal boost!

Happy writing!
~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
Keep Writing, Keep Connecting! Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Website


Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

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Interlude: Waiting for the next big thing

Postcards from the past, shouting into the future

Dear Readers,

Back in April, I attended and gave a session at The Muse & The Marketplace, hosted in Boston by Grub Street Inc. (where you may have noticed I often teach classes). I was actively querying my manuscript while at the conference, both via email where it sat in various agents’ inboxes, and in-person where I attended (and highly recommend) their agent-writer cocktail hour.

One of the evenings I was there, between the sessions ending and various social activities beginning, I received an email from an agent who had “liked what he read so far” in the first fifty pages of my manuscript and wanted to see the rest.

It was perhaps my third full request, in addition to some partials, a whole ton of rejections, and lots of waiting. But I distinctly remember sitting down right then and there in the hotel lobby, breaking out my laptop, and sending the full manuscript off.

Then I went back to conferencing — to networking and teaching and listening and learning. I met a ton of cool writers and several enthusiastic agents and absorbed a lot of really inspiring information from very smart faculty.

We were all struggling, no matter where we were in the process, whether it was to finish that next project or find an agent or find a publisher or market ourselves or pay for all or any of it. To handle rejection and define success while continuing to seek it, manage it, work through it. To find acceptance. To write about the hard things and the true things and the sweet things. To build believable worlds and characters and to get readers, reviewers, and publishers to believe in us too. To find ways to make art under the existential pressures of the political, social, and literal climate crises.

Marketplace Keynote 2019: The Working Writer

It was all extremely humbling and inspiring and brought me down from the high I’d felt, getting threads of interest in my work. A whisper of encouragement can sustain a writer for a long time. But it’s a long road and at every step those encouraging whispers and words are so important, especially when what we really need (and all of us deserve) is a shout.

So after the incredible send-off keynote (above) about being a working writer, after brunch and cake and final goodbyes, we were instructed to write postcards to ourselves, to be mailed later in the year. So I picked one with an indie bookstore on it (of course) and wrote myself a note.

You can see where this is going.

Last week, when I was feeling a bit down because even though I’m keeping up with the word count, I haven’t gotten a real handle on this new project yet and NaNoWriMo is a demanding mistress and sometimes it seems like other people are writing faster or hitting milestones or finding success in ways that I just haven’t yet and also everyone in my family keeps getting this damn, never-ending COLD and I just want to sleep… I received my postcard:

Hey—

If you don’t have an agent yet, that’s OK. You’re not afraid of the work. You can tackle the next challenge (even if it’s another draft or another project).

If you do have an agent, GO US! Now onto the next chapter.

Stay grateful & badass,

A


Reader, ten days after #Muse19 finished, I received an email from that same agent. He wanted to have a call. The Call. A month after that, I signed paperwork to be represented by Evan Gregory at Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. A month after that, the book was sitting in the inboxes of editors.

But I didn’t know that at #Muse19. I didn’t know, when I wrote that postcard to myself, how close I was to the next big thing. It was just beyond my reach, but only just. It had seemed so impossibly far and yet it was right there, just a few days in the future. The shout was waiting.

I needed to be reminded of that last week and I need to remind myself daily, as I try to wrangle a new project into some semblance of story and convince myself I still know how to write; as Ghost Roads continues to get rejected over and over again anew. It’s why I need to keep working hard, be vigilant, hold gratitude, and support my own work and others. You cannot know how close you are to the next big thing or even what that thing might be.

It’s waiting for you, just out of sight.

Remember how far you’ve come so far this year, the big things you’ve met head on, both good and bad. Listen for the whispers of support, not the whispers of doubt.

Solidarity to my fellow NaNo writers this month, and to everyone looking down the barrel of the final months of 2019 and wondering at all they hoped (and still hope) to accomplish. You’ve got this. The shout is waiting for you too.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with more resources for us working writers, plus some of my favorite gifts and books for the readers and writers in your life (yourself included).

Keep being grateful & badass. Now on to the next chapter.

~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
Keep Writing, Keep Connecting! Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Website


Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

November: Giveaway, Accountability, & Inspiration

NaNoWriMo, inspiring author profiles, important publishing court cases, & holy basil

Greetings writers!

Welcome and good luck to those participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I’ll be joining your ranks this November as I try to get a handle on a new novel project.

What I’ve enjoyed about NaNoWriMo in past years when I’ve attempted (though I always seem to stall out around 17,000 words and the Thanksgiving holiday) is that it’s about quantity rather than quality. Sometimes we need to get out of our own heads, be a little less precious about our work, and add in a few run-on sentences to hit our word count, for good measure. And to have someone (or in this case an international movement) hold one’s metaphorical feet to the metaphorical fire to get the work done.

One tool in a writer’s toolkit, for both the writing and marketing processes, is consistency. Having a writing ritual or routine can help you stay engaged in a project; having regular marketing goals can ensure you remain actively engaged with your audience. If writing 50,000 words in a month doesn’t fit your wants or needs right now, consider using November as a month to practice accountability anyway, in whatever form that takes for you. Touching base daily with a writer friend? Engaging with readers regularly on social media? Keeping a sticker/star chart ala V.E. Schwab? Attending a regular write-in? Find what works and stick with it.

In the meantime, draw some inspiration from the writers and resources below and see you at the other end of 50,000 words!

~Allison


Ps. You read the subject right, I’m doing another giveaway for a marketing consult! Read on down for specifics.


Upcoming Seminars

The events marked with ** require registration and usually fill up! And for the first time ever, I’m offering one online. Tune in from the comfort of your own home!

Not available these dates? Connect with me for one-on-one coaching that fits your schedule!

Book a marketing consult today!


Writing/Marketing Resources: Authors Inspire Edition

“All language is new to a kid. Why not invite them into a vocabulary that’s special from the beginning?” author/illustrator Sandra Boyton explains in this great profile in The Atlantic that explores the magic behind Boyton’s 40+ years of crafting (and selling!) wry, rhythmic stories for our littlest readers. {Image is from Sandra Boynton’s fun and inspiring Facebook page}

“We pick up a book, it tells us about itself, through the cover, through the way it’s marketed. And it’s going to change how we process it, what we’re expecting when we read it.” Authors Daniel José Older and Marlon James go deep with the hosts of Fiction / Non / Fiction in this rich interview on the politics and meaning of literary categories. “Power isn’t just about who gets to write,” co-host V.V. Ganeshananthan points out, “it’s also about which characters get to have agency and power.”

“I found it was easier telling the story by making it more complicated,” says bestselling author Erin Morgenstern in this wonderful feature in EW about her new book, The Starless Sea, which releases this month. Her breakout novel, The Night Circus, started as a NaNoWriMo novel and has since sold nearly 3 million copies worldwide.
Bonus: Want to catch Erin in person? Brookline Booksmith is hosting her on Nov. 5th.


Industry News

The CASE Act, designed to protect creators via a small claims court specifically for copyright infringement cases, has been passed resoundingly in the House. While some internet advocacy groups take issue with the bill, many organizations that represent independent creators, such as the Author’s Guild and Copyright Alliance, are huge advocates. “At its core, this is a question of the independent and small content creator’s access to justice,” says the Author’s Guild. “Copyright law should protect all creators.” The bill still needs to be passed in the Senate before it can take effect.

Upon request, and in response to Macmillan’s decision to embargo e-books leased to public libraries for two months after release, the American Library Association (ALA) has delivered a report to the House Judiciary committee on competition in digital book markets. The report also covers such topics as the lack of public library access to Amazon Publishing’s ebook content; restricted public library/educational access to streaming services; and the bundling of e-journals. You can read the full report here. For more information on the Macmillan e-book decision, check out Publisher’s Weekly’s in-depth coverage and how some libraries have responded.

YouTube is launching “BookTube,” a monthly virtual bookclub with bestselling authors in conversation with well-known YouTube hosts and BookTubers. The first episode features Malcom Gladwell; future episodes will air on the third Thursday of the month and will include interviews with Margaret Atwood, James Patterson, and more.


Tea

One of my absolute favorite herbal “teas” is Tulsi, also known as “holy basil.” It has a lovely, aromatic quality, reminiscent of cloves, and adapts wonderfully to other flavors. A sacred herb of India, Tulsi is known for its medicinal properties, including reducing stress and restoring balance and harmony. Sounds good to me! Trader Joe’s currently stocks an affordable, mellow, organic blend.


Like what you’ve read so far and want more plus free stuff? Subscribe to Books, Marketing, and More by November 7th to enter a giveaway for a FREE 30-minute marketing consult! We can talk events, marketing, branding, tea, whatever will help you envision your marketing goals right now.


Let me know about upcoming events, marketing campaigns, and projects so I can help signal boost!

Happy writing!
~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
Keep Writing, Keep Connecting! Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Website


Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

Share Books, Marketing, & More

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