Archive for September, 2012

2013 AWP Opportunities for Students & Faculty

September 26, 2012

The M.A./M.F.A. Wilkes programs are once again sponsors for AWP’s (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) national conference to be held in Boston, March 6-9, 2013! That means Wilkes will have 45 FREE registrations for students and faculty wishing to attend the conference.

As in years past, Wilkes will have a booth shared with Etruscan Press in the Book Fair. We need a handful of student volunteers to work the booth during the conference; please call Dawn Leas to register and/or volunteer no later than October 1!

The 2013 AWP Conference & Bookfair takes place March 6-9, 2013 in Boston. This year’s conference Keynote Speakers are Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. See a full list of accepted 2013 readings and panels here.

Psst. Keep your eyes out for the return of the highly acclaimed All Collegiate Slam, hosted by Misterjim and the Wilkes writing programs!

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Best of the Net anthology seeks submissions

September 19, 2012

Sundress Publications is excited to announce that submissions are open for the seventh volume of the Best of the Net Anthology!

The internet continues to be a rapidly evolving medium for the distribution of new and innovative literature, and the Best of the Net Anthology aims to nurture the relationship between writers and the web. In our first six years of existence, the anthology has published distinguished writers such as Claudia Emerson, B.H. Fairchild, Ron Carlson, Dorianne Laux, and Jill McCorkle alongside numerous new and emerging writers from around the world.

Nomincations for the 2012 edition must be sent to <bestofthenet(at)sundresspublications.com> (replace (at) with @ in sending email) between July 1st and September 30th, 2012.

Further submission guidelines can be found at http://www.sundresspublications.com/bestof/

Q&A with alum Gale Martin

September 12, 2012

Recent Wilkes graduate Gale Martin is soaring to the top with her latest release, Grace Unexpected. The book recently reached #1 status for Amazon’s list of Movers and Shakers thanks to a 3-day book giveaway. Even after the freebie, the sales keep coming in not only for this most recent release, but her 2011 book Don Juan in Hankey, PA as well. See what Gale has to say about her publication experience in this Q&A.

Thousands of readers have downloaded a copy of the novel from Amazon. Sometimes the book has even been offered for free on Kindle. How do downloads and free copies help your overall marketing efforts?

Once an independent author sells her book to the 100-200 people she personally knows, she needs a vehicle to massively enhance the visibility of her title. A very tiny percentage of people—perhaps one for every 1,000—will actually respond to any sort of messaging or marketing with an actual book purchase or an action. If you have 300 followers on your Facebook fan page, that may seem like a big deal to you, but statistically speaking, it’s not likely to yield many sales. I have close to 3,000 followers on my two Twitter accounts, which is expected to yield a sale of 3+ books, and it did yield dozens more than that because I’d done a great deal of relationship mining prior to DON JUAN and GRACE U‘s publication. But I can’t expect those kinds of follower numbers to greatly impact my sales.

Basically, the Kindle Free days are a tool to reach tens of thousands of potential readers who will then help boost paid sales. And it worked. During my three Free Kindle days in early September, more than 38,300 readers downloaded GRACE UNEXPECTED for free. In the next 36 hours, it sold 400 copies. And it’s still highly ranked. It sounds counterintuitive, but in order to get reviews, I have to give away 100 or more copies. In order to get the requisite word of mouth—the buzz—needed to sell books in volume, tens of thousands of people have to have heard about my book. Kindle Free campaigns are one tool indie authors can use to reach a certain threshold of visibility (lacking the big media campaigns of the Big Six publishers.)

Speaking of marketing efforts, can you tell us a bit about what lead you to the ‘Don Juan Gets Around’ contest?

Well, that was a funny, organic sort of campaign that evolved because a geographic location is referenced in the title. One of my video reviewers, an opera singer, responded so strongly to Hankey, PA, that he recorded his professional performing group The American Tenors, singing “Hankey, PA” during one of his East Coast gigs. Then a friend took the book to scenic St. Barth’s just after it was published. Then, he posted the photo of Don on Facebook. And other people who had bought the book began sending me photos from their parts of the world–Staffordshire, England; Yosemite National Park; the Paris Opera; Seoul, Korea; Florida; Salem, Mass.; Mt. Rushmore; Shanghai; and of course, the winning photo was taken in Puerto Rico. It was great fun receiving photos of DON JUAN from around the country and the world.

Grace Unexpected was recently picked for best designed covers by Shelfbuzz.com. Congrats! Tell us about the book design process and how this cover came to be.

This is a fantastic process with Booktrope. Basically, you talk with your book manager about what qualities you want your cover to project. Then, the designer who has elected to work with you tries to match your vision. It took ten iterations before my manager, Booktrope’s COO, and I agreed on a cover. It was great fun to see it evolve, to see it refined from draft to draft. I needed it to project energy and lightness. Bright colors convey lightness. I also wanted to show scenic Shaker Village which is the location for the book’s inciting incident. Designer Greg Simanson is really a genius. And also really listens. Because everyone knows indie books need great covers to sell well. And Booktrope is firmly committed to that.

You’re pretty active on Facebook. How has social media helped develop your author platform?

I can’t imagine being an indie author and achieving any success (which I define as having your work read and appreciated) without relying on social media. Book reviewers are more inclined to review your work if you have the capability to Tweet or Share their review. Every blog post I write is magnified and can obtain more Google juice because it can be broadcast via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, etc. Let’s face it, since time immemorial, word of mouth has sold books, and social media offers viral word of mouth. If one person endorses your novel on their Facebook page, all their friends take their recommendations very seriously, especially if the poster is a thought leader. In looking at my analytics over time, Facebook sends more traffic to my website and blog than any other single source. So, if writers can’t embrace more than one social media outlet, they should at least establish a Facebook fan page.

How did the Wilkes program prepare you for your publication experience?

Author and Alum Gale Martin

For one thing, you leave the program with clear expectations that Wilkes wants you to publish. They expect you to try your level best to get published. Another thing—I’ve done a lot of author events since first being published in November of 2011. And the Wilkes program definitely helps prepare authors to present their writing. I did an author event with a Big Six author. He didn’t know how to read or showcase his work at the event in which we both participated. Thanks to the Wilkes program, I and every Wilkes-trained author I’ve presented with absolutely kills personal appearances. Also, I have tapped my fellow students and faculty members for endorsements and blurbs. So, overall, I would say my Wilkes preparation was invaluable to my feeling confident and projecting a professional writer’s image.

Final thoughts?

I feel very fortunate to have found Booktrope and to have been embraced by them. They work so hard—tirelessly—to help the authors they represent to succeed. It’s like being part of a very caring family. Within that family are authors like me who have had literary representation at one time and/or who have sought representation for years and haven’t succeeded. Emerging authors need to know there are other models available for publication, additional avenues besides the Big Six. I’ve gotten so much satisfaction from the publication of my novels. It’s less important to readers who publishes your novel—just that it’s published. And you don’t have to self-publish, which offers no appeal to me whatsoever. Not with publishers like Booktrope around who provide support and expertise for authors on every level—editing, proofreading, cover design, marketing, and promotion.

Gale Martin is scheduled to participate in Pat Florio’s (another Wilke’s alum!) author showcase on September 23: Writers Showcase in Belmar, NJ, 608 River Road, 3 PM to 5:30 PM.

More news and events from Gale Martin are posted on her website, http://galemartin.me.

Another Literary Genre to Consider: The Book Review

September 5, 2012

Another Literary Genre to Consider: The Book Review 

by Brian Fanelli

For years, my writing experience has been limited to poetry, academic papers, and a stint as a news reporter and freelance music journalist. Within the last year, I overcame some trepidation and tried a new genre – the book review. I’ve contributed reviews to PANK’s blog, and more recently to Poets’ Quarterly as part of my role as a contributing editor. Serving as a book reviewer has had several benefits. It has allowed me to support local presses and first book authors, understand what types of poetry small and larger indie presses publish, and see firsthand the various techniques, styles, and forms that exist in the vast world of contemporary poetry. Reviewing books has also been a positive networking experience.

If it wasn’t for the world of small presses, poetry would be even more secluded than it is today. Small presses help keep the genre alive and take risks on first time authors. For PANK and Poets’ Quarterly, most of the books on our review lists come from small presses, and I’m sure it is the same for most other journals that offer reviews. Writing a review is one way to support the press and spread the word about their authors, especially to readers that don’t have the funds or time to attend AWP or other large literary conferences where these presses are visible. Over the last year, I’ve been exposed to several poetry presses due to the reviews I’ve written, including some larger indies, such as BlazeVOX, and several smaller ones, including H_NG M_N Books, Bottom Dog Press, Brick Road Poetry Press, and several others. This has been especially helpful as a poet because now I have a better understanding of what type of work these presses publish in case I want to send them a manuscript at some point.

I also have a clearer idea of what is currently being published in the ever-changing world of contemporary poetry. Small presses take a greater chance on cutting edge authors willing to engage in more experimental forms. As a writer, I want to know what’s currently being published and how it reacts to and challenges previous poetic traditions and forms.

Writing reviews can be a wonderful networking opportunity. Frequently, after one of my reviews appears, the writer will contact me via e-mail, my website, or Facebook. These relationships can lead to invitations to share the stage for a reading or attend a conference. It’s also likely the writer you reviewed will tweet, Facebook, and share your review in other ways, so it helps expose your byline.

If you’re looking for ways to fill extra time, or to take a break from the genre you’re most accustomed to writing in, then try writing a book review. Newspapers often seek columnists to review books, and so do literary journals. The experience is beneficial because it offers insight into what’s out there in the publishing world, and it is an invaluable networking opportunity.

***

Brian Fanelli is an alumni of the Wilkes Unviersity M.F.A. program. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Inkwell, Red Rock Review, The Portland Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Rockhurst Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, San Pedro River Review, Evening Street Review, Harpur Palate, and other publications. He is the author of one chapbook of poems, Front Man (Big Table Publishing), and his first full-length book of poems will be published in 2013 by Unbound Content. He is a contributing editor to Poets’ Quarterly and currently teaches writing at Keystone College.