Posts Tagged ‘Gale Martin’

Gale Martin: Success with Grace

March 27, 2013
Don Juan in Hankey, PAby Gale Martin

Don Juan in Hankey, PA
by Gale Martin

Recent graduate Gale Martin has been enjoying incredible success for not one, but two recent book releases. Her debut with Don Juan in Hankey, PA (Booktrope 2011) keeps luring in readers, but it’s her latest book Grace Unexpected that has drawn even more attention, recently rising to #1 on Amazon’s list of Movers and Shakers.

“Movers & Shakers allows readers to keep track of what books are popular on Amazon,” Martin explains. “It measures books that obtain the biggest gains in Amazon sales ranks over the past 24 hours.”

Grace Unexpectedby Gale Martin

Grace Unexpected
by Gale Martin

As part of a marketing strategy, Grace Unexpected was offered for free Kindle download for a limited three day period. Martin’s publisher aimed for the freebie to attract readers and everything fell into place as planned. “It received loads more visibility,” Martin says. In fact, during those three days not only was Grace Unexpected downloaded more than 38,000 times, the book sold more than 400 copies in the following 36 hours when the book returned to its retail price. In turn, buyers have been adding Don Juan in Hankey, PA to their online shopping cart as well.

Martin credits the Wilkes writing program for steering her in the right direction. The author states that Wilkes helps “prepare authors to present their writing,” both through public reading experience and preparing for the publication market. This hands-on ‘training’ has helped Martin across the board. She says, “I would say my Wilkes preparation was invaluable to my feeling confident and projecting a professional writer’s image.”

Riding high on her past two releases, Martin is already at work on her next book.

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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.

Ten Ideas for Keepin’ it Real

May 12, 2011

Preparing for writing success demands common sense and self care

by Gale Martin

You’ve just completed your novel, your memoir, or your chapbook. You’ve gotten strong feedback from your beta-reader(s) or an outside evaluator through the Wilkes University Creative Writing program where you’ve received unprecedented access to the almighty gatekeepers—agents and editors. Maybe you attended a conference and pitched your book to an agent who requested a complete manuscript. Nothing can stop you now. Surely, you’ll have a publishing contract in hand within months, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. According to Putting Your Passion into Print, more than 150,000 books are conventionally published every year. That’s an incredibly large number of publishing opportunities compared to the number of screenplays actually made into feature length films every year. There’s plenty of room for good books—yours included.

Statistics such as ‘less than five percent of popular booksellers total sales are bestsellers’ provide reason enough to be optimistic that you may one day join the ranks of published authors. That is, if you don’t expect too much success too soon. That’s the fastest route to burnout. Expecting to be the next overnight writing sensation might be the single greatest handicap to the writing career you so desperately seek. Prepare instead for a long slog. Commit yourself and your faculties to writerly habits and a lifestyle that can sustain you and your writing career.

Keep writing.  After I wrote my first novel in 2005, I was so proud of the fact that I’d completed a work of fiction, I used to carry it around with me wherever I went. After a few months, a pair of tired arms, and only one nibble from an agent, I realized that completing a novel was only the beginning of my writerly journey. I began writing flash fiction, short stories, and humorous essays while I began plotting my next novel. One of the writers I follow on Twitter who is also a literary agent never sold his first book—the one he was certain would sell. But sold plenty after that. So, keep writing. It’s never good to pin your hopes to one manuscript.

The Raven's Bride by Lenore Hart

Not to mention that editors and agents want writers who are good for more than one book. One of the Wilkes’ faculty members Lenore Hart sold her latest book The Raven’s Bride before it was written. Her publisher was banking on Lenore’s reputation for producing another publishable novel.

Keep submitting other work elsewhere.  As long as you continue writing, you’ll not only be honing your craft, have work to submit to publications and contests. For most of us, rejections far outweigh acceptances. You have to submit a critical level of work before the odds start turning in your favor. Once they do, every acceptance is validation to stay the course and builds confidence which you’ll need for more rejections and the inevitable slog.

Set reasonable goals.  In recent craft classes at Wilkes, writer Lori A. May shared a framework for goal setting for a rich, focused writing career. Her model encourages writers to think in bigger chunks beyond the next story, the next month, the next acceptance. Set goals that will stretch you. But don’t doom yourself to failure either by comparing yourself to someone who’s achieved instant publishing success or setting irrational goals, such as, “Will have literary representation in one month.” Perhaps you won’t. I just interviewed a writer on my blog Scrivengale who has published four books but doesn’t have an agent. Make your goal instead, “Will query five agents every month.”

Volunteer to judge a contest. Reading others writers’ work with whom you’re not competing head to head, within your cohort or in the Wilkes program in general, can be eye-opening. It’s a productive way to learn from others’ mistakes and successes while being a good literary citizen.

Look for outlets to read your work. If none exist, create one. One of the great privileges published authors enjoy is the chance to read their work in public venues. In the Wilkes program, students are given several opportunities to do that. Once you’re out of the program, it’s one of the things you miss most.

Public Readings Provide Exposure

At least I did because I love reading my work. Not seeing anything available in her hometown, one of the students in my cohort Ally Bishop went out and created an outlet for writers in Central Pennsylvania to read their work—published and unpublished—readings in which I’ve taken part. I know other Wilkes students are following Ally’s example, approaching galleries, book shops, and coffee shops about offering literary readings.

Get a writing group together. Writing is an insular life. If you don’t have an editor to give you pause to think about your narrative arc, to redirect your work, you would probably benefit from participating in a writing group. I said a writing group, not a shredding group. I’ve been in a shredding group—an utter waste of time and potentially devastating. If you can find a handful of other writers committed to careful reading and constructive criticism, it helps fill the gap left between working with a faculty mentor or a professional editor and writing in solitude.

Explore other avenues of sharing your work, like Scribd. I just learned about www.scribd.com, a social publishing site, where tens of millions of people share original writings and documents. One young woman who wrote a memoir but couldn’t obtain any interest from a conventional publisher, shared her memoir in segments on Scribd, obtaining three thousand readers per post. Few bloggers can attract that volume of readership. It may be worth your time investigating.

Write something for sheer enjoyment. I’m not sure where I heard about this online writing community at The Write Idea, an international group of poets and prose writers, but for three years now I have participated in a nine-round fiction contest with some of the most generous, talented writers I’ve ever met. It is sheer fun to receive the prompts, chat them up on the site, and see how everyone fares following each round of judging. This contest is something I do just for the love of writing and as such, the sustenance it offers me is invaluable.

Create something for sheer enjoyment. I read Jane Friedman’s blog There Are No Rules  regularly, which is how I learned about Scribd. In one of her columns, Jane also mentioned a site called About.me, which allows writers and other creatives the chance to create a free splash page, in lieu of a full-blown website. It was a great exercise trying to encapsulate my writing experience and persona into a splash page and lots of fun doing so.

Strive for a more balanced life. Shortly after I finished the Wilkes program, I needed a month to thaw out, having combined my studies with demanding full-time jobs. Then I looked around my very untidy house, threw myself into some cleaning projects, and planned an anniversary celebration. I also recommitted myself to regular church attendance and singing in the choir, which meant rehearsing one night a week away from my *sigh* laptop, which I was certain was attached to my fingers. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the level of life balance I enjoyed before I began writing creatively, but the writing schedule a master’s or MFA program demands wasn’t going to sustain my marriage or a life well-lived. I simply had to make some changes.

To outsiders, it may appear that I’ve ratcheted down my expectations for my publishing career, but that’s not an accurate assessment of my approach to my post-Wilkes writing. I’m merely steeling myself for a long slog but fully intending to appreciate any smaller success along the way.

Gale Martin

Gale Martin has been writing creatively since 2005. Recent accolades include first-place in short fiction from the 2009 Writers-Editors International and Scratch writing competitions. She also received her first Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009 for a short story published in Greensilk Journal. Her work has appeared online and in print in various publications such as The Christian Science Monitor, Sirens Magazine, Duck & Herring Company’s Pocket Field Guide, and The Giggle Water Review and in several anthologies. She hosts a writing blog called “Scrivengale.”

She hosts an opera blog, “Operatoonity,” and is the accredited Metropolitan Opera reviewer for Bachtrack, an online site featuring classical performance. She lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which serves as a rich source of inspiration for her writing.