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Buzz, Balls & Hype
by:  M.J. Rose
Because there are over 175,000 books published a year and they can't all get reviews in the NYTBR. See archives at the Buzz primary blog.
September 24, 2013

My Strawberry Souffle

Shouldn’t success and happiness be the achievement of what we love to its own end, knowing that end might be private and personal?  - Felicia Sullivan from Love,Life,Eat 

ImagesThis morning I came upon Felicia’s blog. Having been at the Bouchercon mystery convention this weekend, her column really hit home—I’ve just spent the last three days with hundreds of authors and was struck over and over by how many of us expressed unhappiness about our careers.

So many talked about not feeling like a “success”.

Why? I asked again and again.

There were authors who complained they get nominated for awards but never win. Others who said they often win awards, but don’t have sales. Or they get sales but no reviews. Or were upset they get reviews but no nominations for awards. Or are frustrated they are published in trade paperback instead of hardcover, or in mass market and not trade… you get the idea.

The Dali Lama said if you compare yourself to people who have more than you, you will always be unhappy.  But if you compare yourself to people who have less that you, you will always be happy.

I think that’s amazing advice but I’d even go further and ask do we have to compare ourselves to anyone? Can every writer really be “big”? Does every book honestly have that potential? Is it easier for some topics and kinds of books to take off? Or win awards? Or get reviews?  And what if you don’t write those kind of books?

The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile. I think of my strawberry soufflé. I did that at least twenty-eight times before I finally conquered it. — Julia Child

I think the most important thing we as writers can do is figure out how we define what success will mean to us and focus on that.

This weekend one writer was complimenting me on, my marketing company. She told me how much we’d helped her then followed up with a question. She wanted to know why, since we do such great work, I’m not a mega-name author and asked how I feel about not being a “real success.”Strawberry_photos_Fresh_Strawberry_Picture_F045020

I was honestly surprised. I’m realistic about my career as a novelist. I’m certainly not a superstar and far far from a house hold name, but I feel successful.

From the very beginning I envisioned success as selling enough books so I could keep getting published and continue to write what I wanted to without compromising.

Did I want to be a bestseller, make millions and get amazing reviews? If you’d asked I’m sure I would have said yes, but that just wasn’t what I thought about. I was focused about having the kind of long term career that would allow me to keep writing, because writing is what saves my life each and every day.

So here I am 14 years later with my 14th novel to be published in 2014. Im published in 28 countries and I’ve sold enough copies of all those books to feel it wouldn’t be ladylike to mention the number and I’ve never comprised what I wanted to write.

Am I a success?

Are you?

Clearly it all depends on who you ask. Or maybe if you’re smart you’ll stop asking anyone and not look beyond yourself to figure it out. Because is it what anyone else thinks, or is it what you think?

As Felicia asks in her blog, do you want to be big? Or bold? Be popular or remarkable? Or all of them?

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, wrote: Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life???

I am pretty sure no author at Bouchercon, or author reading this blog would think that worrying about meeting some arbitrary measure of success is worth spending that one life on.

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February 4, 2013

Bookseller Love

Indie Love Award logo

A special award—from authors to
booksellers—to say thank you during Valentine’s season.

We're celebrating booksellers
because you make discoveries, shine light on titles that you love, and welcome
readers to your stores.

Every Indie who sells a combined 25
copies (or more) from these bestselling & award-winning authors shown below receives a
tin of treats from the Dancing Deer Baking Co.

And the one bookseller who sells
the most copies will win a $500 American Express Gift Certificate.

To qualify to win: Simply keep track
of copies sold of these six titles and email AuthorBuzzCo at by April
10 with your tallies, using the heading “Indie Love.”

It’s just our way of taking a
moment to show you some love back for all the love you show us authors.

Author Love Sheet-3-proof

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January 7, 2013


"I want to implore you to remember to dedicate at least as much effort, if not more, to craft than you did before you started taking on so many of the business functions in the industry. Simply never lose sight of the fact that readers expect you to bring your A-game consistently, and they have more incentive than ever to walk away if you disappoint them.” - Lou Aronica, Publisher, Fiction Studio, in his last letter as President, to the membership of Novelists, Inc.

Estimates are that in 2012 over 1.5 million books will have been published (About 20% of them coming from traditional houses). And thanks to the explosion of self-publishing, 2013 could see double that number; as many as 3 million books might grace our virtual bookstores next year! That means we are going to be awash in covers and titles, plot descriptions and characters. That means we are going to be pushing harder than ever to break through the crowded marketplace and doing it without any new methods or magic.

It means that now more than ever we can’t be writing just another book. We can’t be rushing through a draft.

There are those who say the way to win the game is to write fast and furious, and fill up the virtual shelves with as many books carrying your name on the spine as possible. In the past there’s been some proof that it was a viable strategy.

But there’s more proof that the future isn’t about endless quantity.

With so many millions of titles available, the books that will get talked about are the books that make readers talk about them. Now is not the time to try and write two okay books a year as opposed to one really gangbuster book in the next 12 or 18 or 24 months.

I’m not really talking about good vs. bad books. Not talking about quiet vs. noisy books. I’m talking about books that whatever their genre or sensibility are exceptional. If it’s a romance or mystery or literary fiction it has to stand out. Way out.

Not even the few hundred branded authors with built-in fan bases are exempt.

The playing field isn’t level; it’s so overcrowded we can’t see it. Whether we are writing about serial killers or heroines who engage in bondage or National Book Award fiction we need to be writing that “WOW” book. That book that makes readers go “Oooo.”

We need to write books that publicists and marketers and booksellers and book club leaders and librarians and readers can get excited about. That have something about them that makes them stand out. That makes them shine.

PR and marketing doesn’t sell books. It gets attention for them. It sends readers to bookstores and websites to read a few pages. We need to make sure those pages grab the reader with talons and won’t let him or her go.

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A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

originally posted: October 1, 2012

What to expect when you’re expecting your book? What’s going to happen first, and second, and third?  
What To Do front cover (1)

Randy Susan Meyers (a wonderful novelist and amazing friend) and I have written a book. Every thing we've learned - most of it the hard way.

MostshockedI've had twelve fiction book launches. I have made terrible terrible mistakes with every one. 

My big takeaway after all these years is I need clones!

Short of that - I need a "to do" list.

So this book is our to-do list. Plus some other helpful (hopefully) advice and cuationary tales.

As Randy says about her first launch: "For the secrets
of debuting, I turned to the underground, where surreptitious bands of debut novelists come together in the shadows to share the secrets they’ve learned from already published brethren. I found sister-wives (and husbands) – 99% of us scared of asking too many questions of our frightening publisher-husbands. (What if they snatch away the opportunity! Only print four books! Don’t like us!!!)"

That’s what drove us as to to write the guidebook

We saw that while there were tons of great books on publicity, marketing, ‘how to’s’ on everything from getting an agent to publishing without one, there was a missing piece: what to do when you actually catch the gold ring of a publishing contract?

GlassesgirlbookWe felt the need for a guide for authors, covering everything from working with your publisher, to reading in public, to help for publicity and marketing, to using (and misusing) social media, to how to dress for your author photo . . . and far more, including cautionary tales, worksheets, timelines and even. . .

Here are some excerpts:

Manners & Etiquette for Writers (from a chapter Randy wrote in  What to Do Before your Book Launch:)

1) I am certain there are a number of snappish authors who advocate that dogs-should-eat-dogs,who have managed to hit every bestseller list, but I believe in nice. I recommend that ‘nice’ (which, by the way, is entirely unlike being a doormat) color your launch.

2) Get into training now. Answer your mail. All of it. When you receive a compliment, say thank you. (I remember getting When a reader complains that you are biased,don’t rant at your accuser (especially in public!). Ignore them or try to answer thoughtfully. I sent one such email to an angry woman who’d written to me because she thought I’d been disrespectful at one point in my book, and received a more rational answer. We actually found some common ground.

3) Don’t be self-important. I’ve read postings by debut authors complaining about the letters they receive. God, I can’t believe what these people write to me. They want me to send a book! They want a signature! They want me to speak to their class!!

 Perhaps this public complaining is a way of
showing off how Very Important one has become. Or perhaps they really are stretched to the limit. Too bad. Every job has its down side, but do you want your doctor to write about how disgusting she found your rash?

Queen of Hearts Baby4 We’ve written books—we haven’t become queens and kings of the world.

 4) Don’t grumble in public. Especially in print. Never online. And never about your fellow writers. (Unless you are looking to build a reputation contingent on your cruel wit. Some do. This is not recommended for the average sarcastic person—be
certain you are at a comfortable doctorate level of nasty and anti-social
enough to pull this off this snarky persona.) 

And when using social media:

1. Don’t be mysterious (Something wonderful is going to happen to me, but I can’t say
It is aggravating, annoying, and implies that you think yourself so important that others will stay awake wondering about you.

2. Use exclamation points AND CAPITAL LETTERS judiciously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Don’t post anything ugly about other people—this includes personal rants and unflattering party photos.

4. Don’t send group blasts or group direst messages for events or anything else unless it’s a warning that the world is ending and you’re the only one who knows. If you want people to take the time to come to an event, buy your book, or spread the word, take the time to tailor your message. Otherwise, simply post your events, etc on your FB page or send out a regular tweet.

What To Do front cover (1)What to do Before Your Book Launch is the new invaluable tool for writers. There is so much to know and now it’s all in one place.”  –Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me at Woof

“M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers are two pros who have been
in the publishing trenches, and their guide, What to do Before Your Book Launch, is the best kind of boot camp trainer: purposeful, no-nonsense, and withyou along the way, making sure you hit all the right moves.” –Dan Lazar, literary agent at Writers House

"This book is chock-full of great advice for writers—it's now required reading for all of my clients!"
—Jenny Bent, literary agent at Bent Agency

"What To Do Before Your Book Launch is both brilliant and indispensable. All authors should have it by their bedside. They should read it again, and again, and again." —Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You
Laura Zigman's XtraNormal trailer for What To Do Before Your Book Launch. Watch here.

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2004 to 2012
originally posted: September 18, 2012

Open-doorWhen I started this blog 8 years ago, almost to the day, it was the first blog on Publisher's marketplace. My goal was to create a place authors and agents and publishers and pr people and website designers and everyone else in the biz could read
about and write about what gets buzz.

What works. Why. What doesn’t. Why. What is a waste of time. Of space. What reads like hype. What takes balls but is worth it.

We're making ourselves visible in a way that we haven't been able to do before and we need to be cognizant of the pitfalls as well as the perks.

We need a dialog – a way to share with each other ideas. To brainstorm.
With more books being published than ever,new ways to discover them is more important than ever.

I thought Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest would take over from blogs - and in a lot of ways they have but they have limiations we don't have here so I'm going to open the doors to this blog again. And invite anyone with an idea to discuss. (Please write me at AuthorBuzzCo at gmail if you have a post you'd like to do.)

Let’s talk.

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A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of 13 novels including Lip Service and The Reincarnationist (was the inspiration for the FoxTV show Past Life).Seduction, her most recent title, was published in May.

She's also the co-author of Buzz your Book and What To Do Before Your Book Launch. Founder of the first marketing company for Authors - and co-founded and She was one of the founding members of ITW and is currently on the board.

Her books have been published in more than 24 countries and have been praised by The Chicago Tribune, Cosmo, January Magazine, The Washington Post and more

A pioneer in internet marketing, Rose has been profiled in Business Week, Forbes, The New York Times, Time and has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News Five, The Diane Rheims Show, the Jim Lehrer News Hour and CNN.

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