Sep 18

"Publicity is King"

"In the end, publicity is king. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors. If selected as a Tate author, you'll enjoy extremely reduced rates with Key Marketing. Key is a top NY Times level publicity firm and you'll be at the very highest level of traditional publishing! Key Marketing will book your personal appearances, book signings, and media spots.

"Tate Publishing does not charge a fee for publishing and absorbs all the cost of production and distribution of a book (nearly $30,000 per title). However, we do require any author who signs with us to have full-time professional book marketing and publicist representation. You are simply required to pay a refundable retainer for this publicist. The retainer will be refunded to the author at the sale of the 1,000th copy of the book sold in distribution.  All of that information will be explained to you thoroughly if in fact your book is accepted for publication.
"

Key Marketing's Gold package: $5,500 for 3 months of national publicity. $20,000-$25,000 for one year's publicity; contract is renewable each year. Key's Silver Package: $4,170 for six weeks of regional publicity. Key's Bronze Package: $3,300 for one month of local publicity.

Sound yummy? Ready to sign? Maybe you don't know:
  • Tate accepts most books for publication.
  • No business can "absorb" $30K of expense without expecting a return; or it wouldn't be in business long, would it?
  • Key Marketing is an arm of Tate Publishing, located in Mustang, Oklahoma.
  • Key Marketing has four employees.
  • Tate will not itemize for you what their "$30K" expenses are.
  • Tate makes you buy all your own books for handselling and prices them high, such as $23.99 for a paperback.
  • It is next to impossible to sell 1,000 copies of a book by a first-timer through distribution. Even 250 is pretty much unattainable.
  • If you hire your own publicist instead of using Key Marketing, Tate won't publish your book.
  • You can book your own appearances and book signings for nothing.
  • Money should flow TOWARD the writer, not AWAY from the writer.
  • Publicity is not king. A really good book is king. Without a really good book, publicity is a waste.
See consumer complaints about Tate here. The website Preditors and Editors does not recommend it.
May 20

How to Destroy a Writers' Conference

Take a fully-functioning annual writers' conference that's been successful for ten years or so, a conference loved by its participants, but difficult and draining work for its organizing committee and its instructors, who nevertheless realize, when it's all over, that they've created something wondrous and given some of the participants the greatest moments of their lives. Then destroy it, bit by bit. Here's how.

1. Decide it has to turn a bigger profit.
2. Cut the director's salary in half.
3. Refuse to pay reasonable fees for "name" writers as instructors and speakers, and instead hire graduate students, unknowns or personal friends.
4. Exploit upper-class high-schoolers' career-minded parents and start a youth writing workshop that runs simultaneously, and then mix the youth in with the adults.
5. Use as a logo a typewriter image or a quill pen image obtained from a free clipart site.
6. Cut the publicity and mailing budget and rely on Facebook and Twitter to drum up interest.
7. Book and announce the workshop instructors at the last possible minute.
8. Accept all applicants, including those who can't write a plain English sentence.
9. Raise the price each year.
10. Stop offering a scholarship for a person who can't afford the price.
11. Don't bother sending acceptance confirmation or welcome letters, or orientation kits.
12. Instead of offering bagels in the morning, get a committee member's mom to contribute a dry little quickbread. Cut it into very thin slices so there are enough slices to go around.
13. Hold the workshops and events in cheaper, shabbier buildings and rooms.
14. Cease hiring the instructor who is a popular, proven success, whose workshops fill instantly; get someone more hip.
15. Because the fiction and poetry workshops aren't filling, combine them into a fiction-and-poetry workshop.

(#15, friends, is the death blow, showing a total misunderstanding of writers, the writing process, and workshops.)
Mar 24

The King and I

I once went to a class led by an image consultant who told me to have my upper lipline straightened because one bow is very slightly higher than the other. He said it gave me a contemptuous expression. I was stunned, but didn't think he was lying. I just had never seen what others saw.elvisbw Later when I wrote a long essay about young Elvis I was amazed to see in him the same slight defect, which lent him his famous "sneer," although the man was not known to have sneered at anyone, and on him it looked cool. I'm thinking of this because I met for the first time today the publicist hired by the publisher of Meet Me, and she seemed to have expected a difficult encounter. I have never understood why perfect strangers assume I am cold, exacting, demanding, and severe. Oh, I admit that my gaze is like a laser beam. But the publicist couldn't know that because we had never met.

Something precedes me, and I would say "It's my work," except that on the first day of classes I frighten students who have never read a word I have written, and anyway it isn't scary work. Smiling at students more -- cheaper than plastic surgery -- and putting the class's focus on them, not me, has fixed that. Back in undergrad days my writing did precede me: People would say, "That's you? I expected a big huge Amazon" -- but that was only on campus, and those days are long gone. Or it could be "my reputation" preceding me, except that other than having on numerous occasions given blunt and ill-considered opinions -- but never to students -- and maintaining an army of flying monkeys, I cannot imagine how I earned an intimidating reputation. I think of other writer/teachers who had scary reputations: Howard Nemerov appeared to enjoy making devastating remarks. You will never hear me saying to a young poet, "Son, the problem with you is, you have a tin ear." Others were known as curmudgeons, stoners, and lechers. I am none of those.

I think part of the problem may be that I am female and one bow of my lip is slightly higher than the other, and like almost every other educated female in America I will be acceptable only after I undergo plastic surgery, or, even better, go back into the kitchen where I belong.

Jan 22

Ways to Be Part of the Future

Do you write because you want to live forever? You can start on that right now.

1. Write poems? Post a poem or two on the Net at www.poemhunter.com. Sure, there are lots of poems on there. Sure, many are junk. But not all of them are. And yours certainly are better than most.

2. Have you published a book? Is it still in print? Every library system has an "acquisitions" librarian. Find the acquisitions page on the library's website and suggest the library acquire your book. You can suggest books for any library system you belong to. Ask your friends in other counties and states to suggest your book to their local and university libraries.

3. Have you written a book? Do you own the electronic rights to it? Can you turn the computer file into a pdf file? If so, you may upload and publish it as an eBook, for free, at www.lulu.com. People can then visit lulu.com, and find and download your eBook. You can also download others' books for free. eBooks are the way of the future. Get on the wagon now.

4. Help a young writer, a child or a teen. Just encourage them, no matter what they are writing, to keep on writing things. You know from your own experience that writers of any age can get a lot of mileage out of a few kind words.