Monthly Archives: June 2011

7 Tips for Pitching Magazines and Newspapers

As I’ve said before, author branding is critical in this competitive publishing industry. Whether you decide to go the traditional publishing route or self-publish, if the potential readership doesn’t know who you are, they won’t care to buy your book. And one way to get them to know who you are is by getting published in magazines and newspapers.

Getting published in periodicals provides you with a potentially large marketing platform. The key is that you want to pitch an article that actually delivers value to the publication’s audience. That should be your priority. Advertising yourself is a secondary benefit. By pitching an article that is actually useful, you are more likely to get published, and the readership is more likely to read what you have to say.

Below are some tips you can use when pitching articles to magazines and newspapers. I just used my own advice yesterday and ended up landing an article in an upcoming issue of Windy City Times.

  1. Pitch on a topic that is timely – Editors want news that is fresh. And with today’s newscycle flying by at breakneck speed, fresh is about a week tops.
  2. Research your publications – If you’ve never read the magazine or newspaper you are pitching, don’t pitch them. You need to familiarize yourself with their content and audience base before pitching. What kind of material do they publish? What sections would be appropriate for your article? Who are the section editors?
  3. Personalize your pitch – It’s always best if you actually know an editor at the publication. If you do, personalize your pitch. If you’re a long-time reader, add that. Anything you can do to sweeten the deal will help. Yes, maintain formalities, but editors are people too.
  4. Mention your credentials – If it will help you get published, mention your credentials. Why should the publication let you write this article? What makes you so qualified? Whether its journalism credentials or otherwise, it will help to mention it in your pitch.
  5. Outline your article idea – You don’t have to have a firm grasp of every detail you will discuss in your piece. But you should be able to provide a general outline in your pitch. Why are you writing  the article? What sources, if any, do you plan on interviewing? What types of questions do you plan on asking? What do you hope to find out?
  6. Do not do simultaneous pitching – If you pitch a magazine or newspaper article, pitch to only one publication. Once you receive a rejection, pitch it to another publication. Do not do simultaneous pitches. You will make enemies with editors this way. If time is of the essence, mention that in your pitch. In fact, give a specific deadline for a response, e.g., “Please respond by Thursday as this article is time sensitive.”
  7. Think like an editor – The best advice I can give for pitching is to think like an editor. Do not think like a writer. You can trumpet how wonderful your article is all you want. That matters little. What does an editor want? An editor wants solid content delivered on time and that will attract readers. Learn how to pitch with that in mind, and you’re golden.

Marketing Non-Fiction Versus Fiction

Marketing fiction versus non-fiction is like comparing baseball and basketball. They’re both sports, but the rules of the game are entirely different.

Non-fiction can be much easier to market than fiction because the author is usually considered an expert on the topic area. This makes author branding tremendously easier. If the topic of the book has a timely hook, even better. You can draft a press release that speaks to the timely news hook and offer yourself up as a commentator on the subject. In addition, you can create a blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page where you provide a continual stream of information on your book’s topic, helping you to further build an audience.

But fiction doesn’t quite work this way. Fiction writers are not automatically perceived as experts in a given area. However, they can market themselves as experts on a specific area of fiction. For example, a sci-fi writer can brand himself as an expert on sci-fi. And all fiction writers can market themselves as experts in the craft of storytelling. To capitalize on this opportunity, consider writing articles on writing and submitting them to writers’ publications, such as Writer’s Digest. You can also start a blog where you discuss new releases in your chosen genre or provide insight into how you conceived your book and the process you undertook when writing it. If you have gone the self-publishign route, consider writing an article on the pros and cons of self-publishing. Almost all magazines let you create a little bio for yourself that caps the end of the article, and it is in this bio that you can include information about your fictional novel.

In addition, video teasers and trailers are very strong marketing tools for a fiction writer. Of course non-fiction writers can capitalize on the benefits of video marketing; however, this medium is especially suited for fiction writers because it enables them to convey the tone and mood of their work through images and sound.

There are other strategies you can employ when marketing your fiction or non-fiction works. If you are interested in learning more about these strategies, shoot me an e-mail at keithecker@gmail.com.

Windy City Times 30 Under 30 Recognizes Keith Ecker

The other day, I was honored by the Windy City Times at a ceremony for their annual 30 Under 30 awards celebration. The 30 Under 30 honors “30 individuals under the age of 30 who have, in their young lives, already made significant contributions to Chicago’s LGBT community and beyond.”

I was recognized for my work as an entertainer, writer and fundraiser for local charities Howard Brown Health Center and 826CHI.  I was humbled to share the stage with such young, talented individuals. From AIDS educators to lawyers to immigration rights activists, it was simply inspiring.

Thank you Windy City Times for recognizing me and the important contributions of Chicago’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth. Also, an extra thanks for recognizing just a few months before I became ineligible. The big 3-0 is coming up!

Social Media and SEO for Writers

What is social media? What is SEO? And why should you, a writer or perhaps a publisher, care?

Social media should be the absolute foundation of every writer’s marketing campaign. It is THE portal in which all other marketing assets flow through. Without a presence on the Internet, you may as well not have a presence at all. Social media includes such technologies as Facebook and Twitter. It also includes social bookmarking sites like Reddit and Stumbleupon.

Some people do not consider blogs to be social media. These people are wrong. Blogs are the absolute hub of a social media network. It is where you create content that you market via Facebook and Twitter. You can also include your Twitter feed into your blog (see the right column of my page), and you can set your blog to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, linking all your social media assets together.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the act of employing a number of techniques to ensure that your online content rises to the top of search engine results when certain keywords are entered by a user. There are many SEO techniques, some more effective than others. Anchor text and links, keyword optimization and metadata all play significant roles in the SEO process. The purpose of SEO is to raise more awareness about your site. The easier people can find you, the more likely they will read you. It’s important to note that for SEO to be effective, you also have to deliver top-quality content. Otherwise, you’ll just have a bunch of people landing on your page and then leaving once they realize it’s just a string of nonsense keywords.

My marketing agency, Hungry Eyes Marketing, will be providing a variety of social media services, including training and maintenance. If you have any social media or SEO questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

What Do You Want Out Of A Marketing Agency?

As I prepare to launch my own marketing agency for authors and publishers, I am curious to hear what you all, the authors and publishers of the world, want out of a marketing partner. Hungry Eyes Marketing’s mission is to provide you all with the services you need to help get the results you expect. So what are these services?

As I stated in a previous post, I will be offering a variety of services, from press releases to book trailers. Which services are you most interested in? Also, are you more interested in purchasing services a la carte or in a package form. For example, I am considering offering a variety of marketing packages that will provide authors/publishers with comprehensive marketing campaigns at rates that fall below what these services would cost if purchased individually. Package examples may include:

  • A pre-publishing package – Author headshot, book cover, author bio, book synopsis
  • A first book package – Press release, press release distribution, a Facebook page and a video teaser or trailer
  • The author branding package – Press release, press release distribution, listing on Profnet, Facebook page, Twitter handle and blog
Your feedback is invaluable to me. If there are packages or services you’d like to see, please let me know.

Announcing My Book Marketing Agency: Hungry Eyes Marketing

I have worn many hats over the last decade. I have been an editor at a business legal magazine. I have been a legal technology marketing consultant for a number of large, multinational firms and PR agencies. I have provided SEO web content for a number of large companies, including Travelzoo. I have been a prolific theatre critic. I have been a stand-up, improv and sketch comic. I have co-founded two ongoing theatrical literary projects (Essay Fiesta and the Chicago Story Collective) and served as the head of marketing for both. I am now setting out on a new venture, one that I’m hoping will synthesize a number of my passions and skills. I am launching my own book marketing and publicity agency.

The name of my company is Hungry Eyes Marketing. Our goal is to feed readers your words. I will serve as the principal of the agency, and I have a staff of very talented and experienced writers, marketers, designers, developers and videographers set to help me help you get the word out about your book.

Specifically, Hungry Eyes Marketing will cater to self-publishers and small to mid-size presses. We will also handle work from larger publishing houses specifically looking for opportunities in the Chicago market. But our focus is definitely on the little guy.

SERVICES

I truly care about writing. As a writer myself, I understand the passion, heart and hours that go into creating a book. I want to impassion readers with your passion through my service offerings, including:

  • Press Releases and Distribution Campaigns
  • Book Teaser and Trailer Videos
  • Social marketing services and training
  • E-Newsletter development
  • Website development
  • Ad creation and placement
  • Postcard, poster and promotional material design
  • Public reading bookings
  • Guest blogging opportunities
  • And more

We also will provide ample pre-publishing marketing services, including:

  • Book cover design
  • Author bios
  • Book synopses
  • Advanced marketing campaign planning

FLAT FEES

Almost all services will be charged at a flat-fee rate, as opposed to an hourly fee. I understand that smaller publishers need to work on strict budgets, so I want to make it easy for publishers to track how much they are spending. And with a clear break down of my services, you will know exactly what you are getting for your money.

PERSONALIZED CARE

Most book marketing agencies out there operate like large mills. They take on a mass amount of writers and churn out fairly generic press releases, videos and other publicity materials. But marketing fails if delivered in a one-size-fits-all style. Hungry Eyes Marketing will provide free consultations to assess your specific marketing needs. From this consultation, we (the publisher/author and the agency) will jointly come up with a marketing plan specifically for you.

SPECIALIZATION

Unlike most other book marketing services you may find on the web that provide a slew of other services from e-publishing to book distribution, we ONLY do marketing and publicity. Marketing and publicity are my specialties, and creating high-quality marketing materials is what my staff excels at. We aren’t out to be a soup-to-nuts book factory. We are out to make a difference for you in this vast publishing market.

SPECIAL OFFER

I am currently working on developing the Hungry Eyes website, which will be my company’s main portal. Until then, I’m in the planning stages. This invites an amazing opportunity for self-publishers and small to mid-size presses that are interested in marketing themselves and their products. For a limited time, I will offer some of my services at discount rates. I am looking to get the word out about my business, and positive word-of-mouth marketing is the best advertising a marketer can buy.

If you are interested in learning more about Hungry Eyes Marketing, e-mail me at keithecker [at] gmail [dot] com.

I’m also looking for experienced graphic designers and web developers to add to my core pool of talent.

And if anyone out there has some words of advice or just wants to chat about the art of writing and the business of publishing, I’m all ears!

Wanted: Skilled Web Developer

I have been searching for a the past two weeks for a skilled web developer. This is much more difficult than I had envisioned. First, I thought freelance web developers were abundant, especially in light of the downturned economy. This is false. Second, I thought that a web designer was a web developer. Also, false. A designer can create the header and graphics for your site, but most can’t do much beyond what any lay person could do on WordPress.

So I am calling out to the Internet for a web developer. Below are my criteria. Please pass this information along to anyone you think may be interested (regardless of geography). I can describe project specifics upon inquiry.

Wanted: A skilled web developer to construct a custom or modified WordPress template for a six-page website. All graphics and a style guide (including color-scheme and font specifications) will be included. You just need to design the template and lay out the copy and graphics.

The developer must:

  • Know how to program using WordPress
  • Have some sense of design for lay out purposes
  • Be responsive
  • Be available for billable ongoing site work
I prefer a flat-fee arrangement over an hourly arrangement, but I’m willing to contract on an hourly basis. Please provide a link to work samples. 
E-mail keithecker [at] gmail [dot] com if interested.