Friday, January 31, 2014

Are you a hack?

Anyone can be a writer. In fact, according to a survey in 2002 about 80% of Americans have aspirations to write a book. And there's nothing stopping them. Unlike another profession such as surgeon or lawyer, there isn't a degree, certificate or test that you need to have before you can write. Just pick up a pen and start.

Sometimes I wish there was a certification. Not because I want to thin out the crowd or limit the profession to only those who can succeed. I wish for a certificate for my own frail ego. With a piece of paper, I could hang it on my wall and say yes I am qualified to be a writer, agent, marketing expert.

http://sweetclipart.com/graduation-cap-and-diploma-682
I don't have that piece of paper to frame and hang next to the college diploma that I have also never framed or hung on a wall. So, there are days when I feel like a hack.

These are the days when someone points out a plot hole in my latest WIP that is big enough to be seen from the moon. Or when I get several editors all responding at once that they won't be offering on what I consider to be my client's masterpiece. There are a lot of days when I look at the stats for this blog and wonder why anyone should listen to a word I say about marketing.

What kind of audacity do I have to consider anything I say worth something to another person?

I guess the good news is that I have quite a bit of audacity. I'm a bit brazen that way. A psychiatrist might say I'm subconsciously overcompensating for my extreme lack of height, but let's save that for another day.

I'm a writer, because I write. End of story. I'm an agent because I worked my tail end off as an intern, and then an apprentice, to learn everything I could about being an agent. I'm still learning. I hope I never stop. Sure, I spent a lot of years in the professional world of marketing, so I've got experience, but I also make it a point to stay current on trends, follow the big names, and read at least four new marketing books every year. And yet, I still have moments when I feel like a great big fraud.

I'm telling you this, because, if I had to guess, I imagine you have days like this, too. No matter where you are in the journey. Regardless of whatever successes and failures you've had. There are probably days when want to throw your hands up in the air and quit it all.

Because, surely, if you weren't such a hack, all of this would be easier.

Am I right?

We all have those moments. Moments of complete and utter devastation. When we tell ourselves "No wonder I can't finish this manuscript/get an agent/sell this book/get more reviews/get on the NY Times list/stay on the NY Times list/meet Oprah. Obviously, I'm a hack."

You're not a hack. It isn't supposed to be easy. If it were, there would be a lot more books showing up from that 80% of Americans who want to write one. If you start thinking it's easy, you will be a hack.

You're not a hack. You aren't supposed to know it all. There is so much information out there about everything you couldn't possibly know even half of it. If you stop learning, you will be a hack.

You're not a hack. Everyone has to start somewhere and there will always be people who do it better, smarter, faster than you. If you stop trying, you will be a hack.

A lack of knowledge, experience or talent doesn't make you a hack, fraud or failure. If you stop thinking you need more knowledge, experience and talent, then you will be a hack.

Embrace the you right now, wherever you are in your path. The one that can see both how far you've come and how far you still have to go. That you, right here, is perfect.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Agency Lessons: the great publishing debate

I follow a lot of industry blogs. Partly because it's a good idea for me to know what folks in the know are talking about. Partly because I find the business side of books to be fascinating. However, this past week my blog feed was filled up with indie/legacy debate posts and this was not fascinating.


It seems like the bigger someone is, on one side or the other, the louder and more abrasive they feel the need to be. Big name indie authors basically calling out traditional publishers as author hating, money grabbing brain washers. Publishing execs calling indie authors cobbled together, exaggerating, butt hurt hacks. Seriously, it made my head hurt.

Everyone is arguing over how much ebooks are growing and how much of the market do indies really control and will B&N die a slow painful death in 2014.

And here's the honest truth. No one knows. Any of it. There is no collaborative database of all the sales numbers that we can look at to say with any kind of reasonable certainty what book sales are really doing. We have no idea what impact self-publishing is having on the traditional market. And B&N will sink or swim, definitely one of those two.

As a writer, it's easy to get all tied up in the hype coming from everywhere. But here's all you really need to know. Readers are going to read. Book lovers are going to find the books that make them happy, wherever they come from or however they are made. They will devour these books, share them with other readers, and then go back for more.

So try not to get too tied up in the doom and gloom vitriol that is being spouted from all over. Make decisions on how to publish your work based on what you need and want as a writer and let the readers read. Now, let's all huddle together in a giant hug and chant "books are awesome" until everyone feels better. Sound good?

Today, in defiance of the major publishing debate raging all over the internets, we will celebrate books. Show a little love in the comments for your favorite book and tell me why you love reading. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Why writers need math

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zonotrichia_albicollis,_Bird_hand_2013-02-28-10.47.jpg

In publishing, you can't take anything for granted. There are no guarantees or absolutes. So, it's no wonder that the idea of an advance is the jewel in the corner of every writer's eye. If you haven't dreamed of announcing a six-figure advance on Publisher's Marketplace then you're lying. Who wouldn't want cash money in the bank that's yours to keep no matter what crazy winds blow in the book world?

But if you've been paying attention, you know that the big advance is not all that common anymore, especially in the growing segment of small to mid-sized independent presses. Of course, the trade off is usually a higher royalty rate. The question then becomes, which one is the better deal? And this, my right-brained creative friends, is why all writers still need to know math.

It's important to understand your earning potential when considering contracts. Before you ask your agent to push for a bigger advance, you should know what you're really asking for. You might be surprised to know that taking a smaller advance in exchange for a higher royalty rate is usually going to be the better way to go.

And just in case you don't believe me, I've done the math for you.

Let's take a look at two different options. In option A the publisher is offering a $1000 advance and 7% in royalties. In option B the publisher is offering only a $500 advance but is willing to give a 10% royalty rate. For this example we are assuming a $10 cover price because that makes all the numbers nice and neat.

You can see that because of the difference in royalty rates, it will take much longer to earn out the advance in offer A, 1429 books versus only 500 in option B. If we assume the author can sell 5K books with their first print run, the total royalty earnings for option B are $1500 more than option A. That number will only continue to increase as additional books are sold.




Offer A
Offer B

Assume $10 cover price
Royalty Calculation
7%*$10.00
10%*$10.00
Royalty per book sold
   $0.70
            $1.00
# of books to earn out
1429
500
# of books to reach 5K
3571
4500
Revenue post earn out
  $2,500.00
 $4,500.00
Total revenue for 5K
 $3,500.00
 $5,000.00


Now, let's say the author can't sell 5K books. Would it be worth it to take the higher advance if the author was only able to earn out?




Offer A
Offer B

Assume $10 cover price
Royalty Calculation
7%*$10.00
10%*$10.00
Royalty per book sold
 $0.70
 $1.00
# of books to earn out
1429
500
# of books to reach 1429
0
929
Revenue post earn out
 $          -  
 $929.00
Total revenue for 1429
 $1,000.00
 $1,429.00

The answer: No. Even if the author is only able to sell enough books to earn out the advance, they still would have made more revenue with the higher royalty.

Now, obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into this. The cover price, the difference in the royalty rates, and the difference in the advance. However, in most cases, the higher royalty is the way to go.

If you want to play around with some figures I've created this handy dandy Contract Revenue Calculator for you to plug it all in. Just enter the royalty rate, advance, cover price and anticipated book sales. The worksheet will automatically calculate the number of books you need to sell to earn out and the total anticipated revenue.

I realize math isn't the most fun subject for a lot of people, but as an author, you are also a business owner whether you go with a traditional publishing house or go it alone. You need to know what you are worth, how much you should be making and when a bird in the hand is not actually better than the two in the bush.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using Amazon to track your marketing efforts

Someday Amazon will dominate the world and they'll auto-deliver our eggs and milk once a week via a video equipped drone/helicopter/robot.

We're not there yet, but in the meantime, Amazon has some cool stuff for authors.

If you haven't created your Amazon author page yet, what are you waiting on? First off, this is a great marketing tool that works all the time. You can set the page up to automatically update with your blog posts. When readers click on your name, they'll see a complete listing of all your available titles right next to a sweet picture of you. You can also update the page with news and post a schedule for any upcoming appearances.

This is a no-brainer, so go set that up now. While you're there, you can check out another cool feature that Amazon offers its authors through Author Central. Hello, access to BookScan data.

Here's the deal. BookScan are the people that aggregate all the data for how many copies of each book are sold. It isn't perfect, but it is pretty good. Currently BookScan doesn't include data for eBooks, but I wouldn't be surprised if that changed in the next decade. Amazon estimates BookScan picks up about 85% of the physical book copies sold. Publishers pay big bucks for access to this info (I'm talking six figures) and you can get it for free.

Here's why this is so great. The information is broken down by week and region. So, you can see if the event you attended out of state made a difference in your book sales there. Also, when you put a lot of effort and/or money into a marketing campaign, you can tell as early as a week later if you were able to make an impact on your book sales.

You know that there are a zillion different ways to market your book. You also know that what worked for author X may not work for author Y. You know that you'll need to test the waters and see which marketing tactics work for you and your book. With BookScan data, you can check to see right away if something is working or not.

Using this information can help you be more effective and nimble when it comes to marketing. Also, having the information can help alleviate the whole walking around in the dark feeling that can come with marketing without effectiveness results.

We talk a lot about how to market on this blog. Clearly, I am pro-marketing. But I'm even more pro-smart marketing. So go sign up for Author Central and tell them I sent you.

No, don't actually tell them that. They don't know me.

Do you use Author Central? Have you used the BookScan data to monitor your marketing plan? What did you think? Any tips for the rest of us?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Agency Lessons: Why you can't query again

There are lots of agencies with the rule that you can only query one agent within the agency for each project. Meaning, if the agent you query passes, you can't send it on to another agent at the same agency. Corvisiero Agency follows this guideline and I get asked sometimes why we have it. Today, I'll tell you why.


I understand the nature of the question. After all, queries are highly subjective. What doesn't strike my fancy could be right up the alley of another agent I work with and vice versa. So why then are we against re-querying? Several reasons actually, but here are the big ones for me.

1. Time
This may seem cruel to the querying author just trying to catch a break, but time does play a factor. At Corvisiero, we respond to each and every query. All of them. Additionally, we often provide feedback when sending a rejection to give the author an idea of why we are passing. All of that takes time. Now imagine if each of us had to read the same query from the same author. Not only would our number of incoming queries increase, we would probably waste a lot of time telling authors the same thing over and over again. This leads into my next point.

2. Trust
I trust my fellow agents as professionals. While we each might look for something slightly different in a story, we know what good writing looks like regardless of genre. Does an author really need three of us to tell him he overuses metaphors and the dialogue needs work? Nope. And I know that's the sort of thing I can count on my co-agents to sort out. I trust them to know if a piece has potential or not. We may have completely different wish lists, but we're all looking for great stories.

3. Talent
Even when something isn't my particular mug of joe (I don't really like cups of tea), I know when a writer has talent. I also know the kind of stories my co-workers are looking for. So when I see talent in their favorite genre, I pass the query along. And they do the same. It doesn't happen super often, but it does happen. I'm not going to let a seriously talented writer slip through just because they write in a genre or style that isn't my preference. If there's another agent in the office who would be a good fit, I'm going to let them know.

4. Team
I'm not looking for clients who want just any agent. While writers should query widely, you should also be judicious in your selections. Remember that you're not just looking for a vendor who can sell your book to the highest bidder in some nameless, robotic transaction. You're looking for a business partner. I want clients who think I would be a good match for them, and not just because I have the title of agent. A writer who tries to rapid fire their query at every agent they've heard of isn't thinking about partnerships.

I get that querying is hard, and sometimes the rules and guidelines for each agency can seem like flaming hoops you have to jump through. Believe me, I've jumped through many a flaming hoop myself and have the singe marks to prove it. But here's the thing. We don't sit around a table inventing rules and guidelines in a sadistic game of "Let's Drive Writers Crazy". The rules are there to help everyone, agent and writer alike.

Next time you think about breaking the rules keep two things in mind. The rules are there to help you, not hurt you and we know when you're breaking the rules, which is definitely not going to help you. So chin up and carry on. I can't promise that your day will come, but playing by the rules can only help it get there.

I hope that helps shed some light on what can be a confusing part of querying. Do you have any other querying questions you'd like to ask? Some submission standard have you stumped? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer them in the next Agency Lessons post.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are you hiding from the press?

Visibility is the biggest factor in making your book a financial success. After all, readers can't buy your book if they don't know it exists. As an author, you promote your work in any way you can in the hopes that the right people will see it. But what happens when the right people do see you? What will they find when they visit your website?

Ideally, they will find a well laid out, easy to navigate site with a clearly identified place for press inquiries. The worst scenario would be a member of the press trying to track down more information about you for a story or potential interview and finding nothing. Talk about missed opportunities for exposure.

Adding a page to your site or blog for the press is easy. The question is, what should you put there. Here are a few items you want to make sure everyone can find.

1. Contact information
If nothing else, you need to have all your information. This includes your name, your email address, your phone number and social media links. I know putting up your phone number can sound like a bad idea, but it's not. I suggest getting a free Google Voice phone number that will automatically point to any number of your choosing. This way, you can protect your home phone or cell phone number.

In addition to your contact info, be sure to include contact information for your agent as well. You never know who is going to be looking.

2. Books
Keep this simple. You can have a separate book section on your site that is more geared towards readers. This should be a brief overview that the press can use to see all your books in a snapshot. For each book include:
Title, Cover, short Blurb or Tag line, ISBN number, Amazon order link, Publisher info

3. Bio & Pictures
You want to have a nice, high-res photo of you, preferably in color and black and white, that is set up for one-click download. Same thing for all of your covers. The idea is that a member of the press can visit one page and download all the images they need for a story all about you. If it's not easy to get a picture, they won't include one, which is sad. Also, include a short bio. Short is the key word here. This needs to fit easily into an article or be short enough that a radio or TV host can read it on air without putting anyone to sleep. The media doesn't want your life story. But they do want a story, so make sure your bio is more than the town you grew up in and a list of your cats' names.

4. Horn section
This is where you should blow your own horn. Quite frankly, no one else is going to do it for you. If you have some high profile reviews, especially any from professional publications, list them here with a link. Additionally, if you've done any interviews, include links to the article or video. This part of your press section shows reporters that you are news worthy and they'd be missing out by not doing a story on you.


5. Press Kit
A press kit should be a downloadable PDF that contains pretty much everything listed above. You'll want an intro page that has your picture, bio, contact information (for both you and your agent), a list of all your books (with publisher info & buy links), and relevant media links such as high profile reviews or interviews.  You should also include a separate page for each book, though it's okay to combine a series onto one page. Consider your press kit as a take away. A reporter should be able to download your press kit and leave your site with all the information they need to either write a story or reach out to you. The WordNerds just made a great video about press kits. You should go check it out.

Putting together a press page can seem daunting. The good news is you probably already have most of this information already spread out across your page or blog. A press page puts it all in one spot so the folks who can get you exposure can easily find what they need. Remember that they are writing a story, not an advertisement. If they can't find the story (or the info they need to write one), they'll skip it and move on to someone else. Don't let that happen to you.

Do you have a press page? If so, share the link in the comments so we can all learn from each other. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Should I self publish this?

Without a doubt the most frequent question I am asked is "Do you think I should self-publish my novel?" On one hand, I think this is pretty funny. I mean, what do I look like, the Wizard of Oz. I can't answer that question for you. On the other hand, I wonder in this day and age with so many resources for authors about their publishing options, how is there not some sort of checklist that helps writers make this decision.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Ppbc_icon_checklist.png

Now, I'm no self-publishing expert, having never done it myself. That said, I like to think I know a few things. I know that there are so many variables, making a decision like this can be scary. I've seen first hand from authors who have self-published to great success (both staying indie and being courted and accepting big deals) and those who have self-published to anonymity. I know that sometimes this is more of a decision of the heart than the head and that there's nothing wrong with that.

So, to help in whatever way I can, here are a few questions to ask yourself before asking me (or any other publishing professional) if you should self-publish.

1. Can you afford to self-publish?
While there are a lot of ways to keep costs down, it is going to cost you money to self-publish your book. Here are just a few items that you will need to pay for: editing, proofreading, cover art, formatting, ISBNs, copyright, promotional copies (ARCs), marketing, and the list goes on. Now, you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for these efforts and some of them you could do yourself with the right skills and time. But not all of them. Even if you are an editor, you will need to pay for editing. Unless you are a graphic artist, you will need to pay for cover art. Arc copies are not free. If you are taking your publishing efforts seriously (if you're not then stop reading this and go home) then you will need to invest in the product. Maybe those costs aren't a big deal for you. That's great. Maybe the idea of a $400 editing bill is enough to keep you up at night. Either way, it's a good idea to sit down with a calculator and figure out if you have the bankroll to put out a book you can be proud of.

2. Is your book in the right market?
Some genres just do better than others when it comes to self-publishing. For example, right now NA and category romance practically walk off the virtual shelves. Those are great genres to self-publish. You are going to have a harder time with a literary novel or a chapter book. If you aren't sure, do your research. Go to Amazon. See what is selling well. Find out how many of those are self-published. And yes, this is going to take time. No, you may not skip this step.

3. Will your book convert well into ebook?
Pretty much every self-published author I know tells me the majority of their sales come from ebooks. Also, they tend to make more per book with ebooks. Lesson: your book will need to be an ebook. For most writers this is not an issue, but not for everyone. Does your book have illustrations? Those are harder to put in an ebook. Does your book have an unusual format? Does your book utilize footnotes or depend on stylized fonts? If you answered yes, chances are you are going to need a skilled formatter in order to get your book into an ebook that is readable and will translate your vision to readers. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that this will require more time and/or money from you.

4. Are you willing to do your own promotion?
Now, I realize that marketing efforts of the big 6 aren't what they used to be, but they aren't non-existent, either. First off, going traditional means your book will be on shelves. This is valuable. It means readers will see your book even if nothing else is done to promote it. Visibility is the biggest part of marketing. In addition to that, most big publishers are also going to put you on Netgalley which will increase your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. They will also put you out for professional reviews, enter you into contests, and get you blurbs from other authors in your genre. To be clear, these are all efforts you can do for yourself. You don't need a traditional publisher to do them for you. The question is, will you do it? Before you give an automatic "of course" think very carefully about your schedule, other writing projects you want to tackle, your non-writing commitments and all the other tasks that currently suck up your time. Now decide if you are willing to shuffle or remove some of those obligations in order to fit marketing in. Your answer may still be a resounding "yes", just make sure you know what you're signing on for.

5. Will you be satisfied by self-publishing?
I think this is the hardest question you'll need to ask yourself. For so many writers getting that big book deal is the dream. The one that kept them going when they were certain round 8 of revisions almost destroyed the entire subplot. The dream fueled by coffee and sour patch kids that made them skip the Downton Abbey premiere to crank out another 2K before bed. There is no denying the benefits of self-publishing. More control, flexibility to make nimble changes, the opportunity to make more money, etc. But at the end of the day, will you be okay that your book isn't on the shelf at Barnes & Noble with a fancy publisher logo on the spine? It's perfectly okay if that doesn't matter to you. It's also okay if it does.

The truth is, no one else can decide for you if self-publishing is the way to go. There are some pretty clear advantages and disadvantages and you can weigh those all day until the cows come home. You are the only one who can decide what's right for you and your book. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure it makes you happy (though cash is a nice consolation prize).

I'm joking. Mostly.

So what am I missing? For those of you who have taken the self-publishing plunge, what are other questions writers should ask themselves before hitting submit?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Agency Lessons: Do you really need that prologue?

"I've included x pages, which is more than you requested, because the first x pages are a prologue."
And every agent ever hangs head and sighs in frustration.


I've made it no secret that I'm not a fan of prologues. I can count on one hand the number of times I really liked a prologue or felt it added to the story. 99 times out of 100, the prologue turns me off to a story rather than grabs me in. I could argue against prologues based on my own feelings, but that's hardly useful. Here are some prologue types that probably aren't working.

1. The epic fantasy ballad
Some authors feel the need to start their story off with a poem, song, fiction text passage etc. I assume they feel this sets the tone of the book. It may do that, but for me the tone is "Zzzzzzz...". Confession time, folks. When reading for fun, I skip sections that include any of these items that are longer than a paragraph. I'll give you one paragraph to wow me with your characters' poetry skills and then I'm skimming to where the action starts again. This could be just me, but if we played a little game of truth, I'd be surprised if I was the only one skipping these parts. They just aren't interesting. Sometimes the truth hurts.

2. Inside the antagonists mind
Most books are told from the POV of the hero, and that's fine, but it can limit our knowledge of the bad guy. For some reason, authors feel like the prologue is a great place to show just how evil the antagonist is and why we should hate them. First, this is lazy. We should be able to get this information through the course of the novel. We don't need it dumped on us in the beginning. Second, I probably picked up this book because of an interest in the protagonist. So that's who I want to meet, not the bad guy and his evil minions.

3. A trip in the time machine
All of your characters should have a complex back story that makes them who they are in the present story. Some of that will come out during the story and some of it will just be part of a list that helps you craft a well-rounded character , but never makes it on to the page. What I don't need is a flashback showing me your character ten years ago that explains why he/she is the person they are today. Again, this is lazy writing. I don't need to understand from the get go that your retired cop hates poker players because one swindled him out of his retirement. Let me learn about his hatred when his daughter introduces her new boyfriend, the rising Vegas star. Hint to his reasons during their discussions and let the revelation come out when dad has to convince the boyfriend his daughter is worth the hassle of having a crotchety father-in-law. Trust your reader and make them work for the big reveal.

4.Random info dump
Probably my least favorite prologue is one featuring characters who are neither the hero or the bad guy. This is usually done with characters close to the MC, such as their mother, and reveals a secret that is hidden from your protagonist. While this can help a reader understand the motivations of secondary characters, it can also lead to frustration. Now we have information the main character doesn't. His actions will be judged based on this information and we'll be constantly reminded we know something that he doesn't. I find myself screaming at the page for the main character to hurry up and "get a clue" already. This isn't going to lead to a good reading experience.

5. Floating on the wind
This is the prologue where the readers is flown over some fictional town as if a leaf floating on a warm air current while an omniscient narrator tells us all about the gossiping biddies in the beauty shop and the overweight men pretending not to check out the nuddie mags down at the drug store. As a reader we are expected to either feel comfortable with the familiarity of this fictional town or disturbed by its different-ness. Either way, I don't care. I don't read a story because of the city it's set in.

Here's the real deal. I ask for five pages as part of the submission process. That's pretty generous as most readers won't go past the first page if they aren't pulled in. If you feel the need to include extra pages, it's probably because you don't think I'll be pulled in by the prologue. If I'm not, what makes you think editors or readers will be. If you have doubts about your prologues ability to pull in a reader, the answer isn't sending more pages. It's giving your prologue the axe.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Disney-fy your platform

I am a lucky girl, because my family got the chance to visit Disney World twice in 2013. I love Disney World. It's full of magic that just can't be duplicated. Everything from the smell of popcorn to the details in line combines to create a perfect experience. And the people that work there are the icing on the cake.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Walt_Disney_World_Resort.jpg


This happens due to an almost militant like focus on service that is drilled into each employee. The result is the most magical place on earth and some great lessons for writers when it comes to building a solid platform and brand.

There are four "Disney Service Basics" and we can apply each of them to improve our platform.

1. Project a positive image and energy
This one sounds pretty basic, and it is. Being a writer is a lifetime ride on Space Mountain. It's usually to dark to know where you're going, but you can be sure they'll be plenty of twists. When bad things happen, and they will, you are entitled to whine, complain, pout and pitch a fit. But this all needs to happen backstage. Disney employees aren't brainwashed for happiness, but they know when it comes to interacting with guests, everything is sunshine and rainbows. You don't have to fake it. My advice, stay away from any form of social media when the urge to rant hits and focus on the positive impact you can make as a writer.

2. I am courteous and respectful to all Guests, including children
I love this one, because Guest is capitalized. Disney understands that Guests are king and they are nothing without them. Switch out guest for Reader and this could be a golden rule of publishing. Also, Disney makes sure to point at that children are included in this rule. Why? Children aren't the ones paying the bills, making purchasing decisions or booking the next trip, but that doesn't mean they don't count. I think we could change this to say "including the newbies". This was you at one point. The writer asking "What do I put in a query letter?". These aren't the people who will be able to write a review that's seen by thousands of loyal readers, but that doesn't mean they don't count. Every reader, every connection counts. Publishing is a small world. Best to be nice to everyone.

3. I stay in character and play the part
This one could be taken to mean stay in character as a writer, but I'm going to break it down another way. I suggest staying in character as you. Anything less than complete sincerity is going to make you look faker than a knock-off set of crooked mouse ears. So stay in character as you and play the part of a writer. Do what you need to do in order for you to be successful. Not everyone who puts on the Cinderella costume is going to be exactly the same, and no two writers will ever follow the same path. So focus on being the best Cinderella you can be.

4. I go above and beyond
As a writer, sometimes you need to channel Buzz Lightyear ("To infinity and beyond"). The reality is that you won't be able to do everything. You can do a lot, probably more than you realize, but you can't do it all. Instead of bemoaning what you can't do, focus on taking your actions to the next level. The good news is going the extra step doesn't have to mean expending a lot of money. If someone wins your book in a contest, be sure to get their name, write a personal message and sign it before sending it off. Cost to you: Free. Yet I can honestly say of all the books I've won, I've never received one signed. Hello, missed opportunity. If your doing a twitter chat, offer to stay longer to get everyone's questions answered. Thank everyone, and then thank them again. With every reader interaction, take a minute to think about what would make that experience even better for your fans. It's often the smallest gestures that are remembered the most.

Are you providing Disney-like service when it comes to your writing platform? I'd love to hear your thoughts on other Disney attitudes and actions that we can adopt as writers to make our readers' experience magical.

Also, I'm doing a Twitter Chat tonight at 5pm EST with +Lori Sailiata. I'll be talking about writing and all things agenty. Join in with the hashtag #HICM.