Tellwell's 2016/2017
Publishing Guide
Learn the five steps to publishing a book, the pros and cons of self-publishing, and how distribution and royalties work.
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Tips & Tricks

Pave the way to literary success with a pre-marketing strategy

Your phone rings; your best friend is calling. You answer and the congratulations and celebratory cheers pour in. The day has come, the daydreams have become reality. You’ve made the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list! The book you spent months crafting has gone viral and new readers are multiplying by the second! You’ve reached celebrity author status.

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It may seem far-fetched, but it’s certainly possible. The question is: how did you get to that unforgettable milestone?

As an author, whether you’re self-published or not, one of the most important things you’ll need to do to work towards that bestseller status is build an audience of readers who would be most interested in your book. But, growing a target market is no easy feat, and it definitely takes time and committed engagement.

And, if you want to hit the ground running when your book is launched, you’re going to need to get started sooner rather than later. Enter pre-marketing.

Having and executing a pre-marketing strategy is extremely important to build initial momentum – whether it’s your first book, or your sixth. Here are Tellwell’s top ten tips to consider when putting together your pre-marketing strategy:

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Author of the Month

YA author Rachael Bell-Irving uses pre-marketing to grow following, knowledge and experience for launch

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We’ve all heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ at one time or another, and book marketing is no exception. So when Tellwell author Rachael Bell-Irving decided she was going to publish her first book – Demons at the Doorstep, she immediately began exploring and experimenting with marketing in preparation for her book’s release.

First, she embellished her online author presence with a Facebook Page and website, and began to establish a voice through social media and a blog. While she knew it was important to be on multiple online platforms, Bell-Irving decided to focus on the tool she felt most comfortable with: Instagram.

She did her due-diligence researching effective hashtags and exploring community spaces like “Bookstagram.” As she began to post content, she started to pick up on some of the nuances. Beyond the importance of imagery, Bell-Irving discovered the value of allowing your personality to come through.

insta-post-4-personal“People like to know who you are behind the scenes and behind the screen,” she says.

Some of her most well-received content on Instagram has been posts of herself – whether they were related to the writing process or not. Even online, the reading community seems to appreciate a personable, humanistic approach to brand awareness.

Another advantage of the pre-marketing process for Bell-Irving was getting a better sense of her genre and her target audience. Prior to exploring the literary community on social media, she didn’t realize her writing is tailored to young adult readers.

Having learned that, she found her approach online shifted to accommodate the interests and habits of YA readers specifically. The most prominent thing she discovered was the strength of the community she had become a part of through her writing. Not only are YA readers and writers extremely interactive with one another, but being genuinely invested is quintessential to building support within the community.

The concept of “being a reader as much as a writer” goes a long way, Bell-Irving explains. So, she started to get back into reading again to really immerse herself with her audience.

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Tips & Tricks

Three tips to increase book sales for first-time authors

As a first time author it can be daunting stepping out with your story and trying to successfully earn money selling your book. Here are three tips to help increase book sales before your book hits the stands.

Always check your blind spots

Authors, who have spent so much time in the process of writing their books often are so intricately connected with the content and structure of their book that they can miss blind spots that a trained eye would catch.  Whether you have someone who is trained to look for blind spots review, or have some peers review your content before publishing, don’t rely on just yourself to catch everything.

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Tellwell News

Introducing Tellwell’s Octavo!

 

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Octavo is Tellwell’s easy to use, project management platform for producing a beautiful book, from the inception of your manuscript to the distribution of your book through online retailers. Essentially, Octavo is a series of steps and tasks designed to gather all of the required project materials from you, such as manuscripts, images, and of course, your ideas in an orderly fashion. These assets are then made available to our talented editors and designers so that they can produce an end product that matches your vision as closely as possible, and deliver an incredibly high quality product for you to share with the world.

If you are a new author signing on with Tellwell, your Project Manager will work with you on a day-to-day basis through Octavo, connecting you with the talent who will help your book come to life. Each step within the process is designed to gather the information that is needed at that point. For example, if you have a substantive edit within your package, you will be asked to fill out an Editor Questionnaire upon the submission of your manuscript within Octavo. When it’s time for you to provide information at each stage, we will send you an email with instructions on how to complete the task. Most of the tasks are simple, such as completing our questionnaires or uploading images for your book.

Octavo was crafted out of a vision that Tellwell had to streamline the production process within self-publishing, and is a product that has been built on a foundation of author input and feedback. We are always looking to further develop our new project management platform, so if you do have any questions, concerns, or feedback while using Octavo, please don’t hesitate in reaching out to your Project Manager. Octavo was created to meet your needs; so we truly value what you have to say about it!

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Tellwell News

Tellwell authors get creative in March with events and speaking opportunities

March was a busy month for Tellwell authors holding events and signings! Here’s a glance at some of the unique events held throughout March:

dscn1830Comedian and Tellwell Author, Ally Lane launched her book The Chem-Ho, at the Vin Gogh Art Studio in Calgary on March 8th. Lane served up quite the entertaining evening, including a colourful reading on her journey through breast cancer, appetizer’s and complimentary “chemo”-politans administered by Hot Doctors. Stay tuned for more of her events by visiting: www.allylane.com.

 

art-mindfulnessOn March 19th, Jason Lee was the Keynote Speaker at the Art and Mindfulness Event hosted by Moving Forward Family Services at SFU. His presentation, on “Anger and Your Mental Health,” discussed the barriers certain cultures have on talking openly about mental health. Lee has spoken at several Mental Health conferences across Canada, including the Strength in Unity Summit held last year in Ottawa. For more on the author, or to learn more about his book – Living with the Dragon – Healing 15 000 Days of Abuse and Shame, visit www.solaceinnerhealth.com.

 

In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day and in memory of her brother, Ken, Diana Frizell kicked off her book tour in Richmond on March 21st. The tour included a wine and cheese evening, and signings at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and the IndigoSpirit bookstore in Richmond Centre Mall. Frizell aims to raise awareness and support for aging adults with Down Syndrome, based on her family’s experience. Visit www.kensplace.ca for more event details – including future stops on Vancouver Island.

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Meet the Team

Book Marketing Consultant Kendal Gerard’s take on joining Tellwell’s team

Kendal and her daughter Frankie.In January 2017, my family made the decision to move from Toronto to Victoria, BC (if you’ve ever spent a January in either location you’ll understand why.) I was right at the end of my maternity leave — my baby daughter had just turned one — and, in and amongst the chaos of selling our house, buying a new one, packing our boxes and changing our contact information everywhere, I was looking for flexible work in book publishing, specifically in children’s book publishing, which is where I have worked since graduating from Queen’s University in 2007 and the book publishing program at Centennial College in 2008.

By May, when we redeemed our one-way tickets to Victoria, I had been off work for nearly two years. (Though, believe me, I had read a lot of books in that time.) I had used the final few months of my pregnancy to complete a Masters in Education at the University of Toronto, which I had been chipping away at for a number of years while working full-time as the Marketing Manager at Owlkids Books (publisher of Chirp, chickaDEE and OWL magazines,) and my daughter was now nearly one and a half. In those two years, while I was home reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the umpteenth time, Tellwell had sprung into existence and I imagine I found this talented group of people much in the same way that you did — kudos to the individual who handles our SEO.

I didn’t have to spend very long on Tellwell’s website to realize that this was the place I wanted to work once we got settled in our new province. Even though no jobs were being advertised, I got the impression that Tellwell was the kind of company that would always find a way to make room for hard-working, enthusiastic, experienced people. Their commitment to helping authors create the best books possible means building a big team — so that every book will be matched with the ideal project manager, editor, designer and publicist. My first impression was not wrong and I was able to join Tellwell’s marketing team part-time in September, where I work on children’s books exclusively.

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Author of the Month

Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs shares of caregiving to mental illness

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In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.

She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.

 

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Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.

“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.

But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.

“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”

While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.

Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.

“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”

Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.

Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.

Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.

“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.

And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.

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Meet the Team

Meet Project Manager Derek Rodway

 

me1. How would you describe your role at Tellwell?

As a Project Manager I oversee the entire production process for our authors and educate them along the way. I manage each book as it flows through the hands of our very talented editors, designers, illustrators, and marketers.

2. What does a typical day on the job look like for you? 

The majority of my day is spent communicating with authors through emails or phone calls. I manage anywhere from 50-80 authors at one time, each at a different stage in our publishing process, and each requiring regular updates on the progress of their book. I also regularly participate in meetings to discuss our production process and try and find ways to improve it. Oh, and I always manage to sneak in a foosball game!

3. What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job is definitely the team of talented people that I get to work with. They make coming to work a lot of fun. Beyond that, I love watching the books come to life — Seeing our design team take a plain old word document and transform it into a beautifully designed book is extremely rewarding.

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Tips & Tricks

How To Take Your Book Tour Online

In a digital age, it should come as no surprise that in addition to designing, publishing and marketing their books electronically, authors can also take their book tours to an online interface. Imagine executing a series of tour stops right from the comfort of your own home. Sounds too good to be true right? While for some, the traditional, in-person events and signings work best, others may want to consider adding a blog tour to their marketing plan.

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What is a blog tour?

An online book tour, commonly referred to as a blog tour, is a modernized way to connect with new readers without traveling from city to city. Blog tours usually occur over a two to four-week period where the author is featured on a different relevant blog each day for the duration of the tour.

The features of each stop on the tour can vary, but usually share information about the book and its availability and exclusive information about the author. Similar to having one on one conversations with the authors at events, the blog content is meant to incentivize readers to want to get more from the author, through buying their book.

The main idea behind organizing a book tour, is to capitalize on each blogger’s audience to gain exposure for the book in the early stages of its release. Online tours can be arranged at any time, but work most effectively with new releases. In comparison to in-person tours, where building a strong following and some momentum reinforces the value of holding events, blog tours are meant to help grow an audience for a new book.

Blog tours have been known to work best for genre fiction or YA books because it’s one of the best ways to engage with that audience.

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Guest Post

Romance Writing 101 – Tips from Tellwell Author Victoria Grant

February.  Valentine’s Day.  Romance.  What images do these words conjure up for you?  If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably imagine a scene with two frosty champagne glasses sitting on a table in front of a roaring fire. Maybe a small silver tray of chocolate covered strawberries beside them. And a couple kissing on the bear skin rug in front of that blazing fire while the snow softly falls outside the panoramic window. (“Oh, Pamela, my darling, what did I ever do without you?”)  Ah, can’t you just feel the love?

image-for-back-coverBrutal snowstorm. Freezing cold. Romance author. What images do these phrases conjure up for you? Yeah, if you’re being honest, you haven’t bothered to give the lowly romance author a second thought, have you? Right now, as you read this, some of them are shivering to death wrapped tightly in a ratty old crocheted afghan, drinking a steaming mug of (insert favourite beverage here), huddled over a laptop, cursing the characters they’ve created because they just won’t cooperate. (Stop talking, get in that cab right now and follow her, you idiot!) Well, that’s me, anyway.

My vision of a romance novel, long before I took the plunge into writing one, was pretty much the scenario with the champagne, chocolates and lovers. And as I adore champagne and chocolates, I thought writing one would be such fun!  And what could be easier? All I had to do was create main characters who are forced to be together and hate each other on sight (or another well-loved trope that romance readers never seem to tire of), and then put them into unusual or unexpected situations where they have no choice but to work together. (“I will be yours for eternity, Humphrey, just as soon as we scale this jagged cliff and free dearest Aunt Letitia from the impenetrable fortress.”). They realize during their thrilling adventures that they’ve fallen totally in love with each other, the end. Simple, right?

Not quite. Just for a minute, think about all the major elements the romance author must include. The heroine must be flawed and vulnerable yet plucky and gorgeous and worthy of her hero, who is tenacious and virile, but ready to change his ways to have this amazing woman in his arms (“I shall give up my life as a frozen pea inspector to be with you, Edwina.”).  The story should be either adventurous or exotic or bodice-ripping or crazy fun, and include a considerable quantity of red hot, searing kisses that instantly liquify the main characters. (“Oh, Bernard, I’m all aflutter!”) And as the story unfolds, it has to sparkle with sensitivity, sizzle with steamy love scenes, and be witty and playful in all the right spots. And let’s not forget the must-have happily ever after ending (“As we all knew this would happen back on page three, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the union of Beauregard and Tamsin…”), or at the very least, a happy-for-now ending (“I love you, Gretchen, so I’ll overlook the fact that you just asked me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.”).

As I wrote my first romance novel, I realized there was a whole heck of a lot more to it than just dropping the two main characters into a situation and hoping they’ll do all the work. (“Um, how do we get out of this hot air balloon, Mortimer?”) I discovered that while I have to include some level of action and/or adventure in my novels, to make them work my main focus must be on the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. This makes it easy for the readers to dive into the book and become that character. Even if the reader has been happily married for a decade or three, I want them to experience the excitement of that first look (“Dexter, who is that stunning, misty-eyed, raven-haired temptress with the heaving bosom staring at me from across this crowded room?”), the goose bumps from their first meeting, and all the blistering and passionate sensations from their first kiss. (“I’ll never wash these lips again.”)

And those five senses we take for granted are paramount when writing a romance novel. The touches, tastes, sounds, sights and scents (“What was that rumble?” Desmond asked, frowning. Yvette turned a sickly shade of chartreuse. “Forgive me, I had beans for lunch.”) – yes, all of them, granted some more than others, play a huge role in falling in love. Without them, a romance novel is just a travel brochure or a ladies shoe catalogue. The first love scene I ever wrote read like a WWE wrestling match. So not good! Why? Because I was focused more on body parts than on the main character’s feelings and sensations. (“That is your arm, isn’t it, Prudence?” “I thought it was your foot, Monty.”)  Yikes!

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