World Book Day and Other Holidays

Circa 2005-2007

If you want to expand your book sales, one way is to increase your online audience by expanding your promotions to overseas.

In a previous post, I talked about timing your posts to reach overseas audiences by posting them at times appropriate for your target overseas audience.  For example, I live in New Mexico, which is Mountain Standard Time (MST).  If I want to time my posts, so that they post on the most populous part of Australia (the east coast), I have to first consider, when the most likely time Australians might be up, moving about, and looking for something to read.  On social media, a common hashtag for book promotions is #FictionFriday.  This is when a lot of people look for books to read over the weekend.  Therefore, I might want to time my posts when everyone on Australia’s east coast, which is Australian Eastern Daylight Time is rising and getting ready for their day.  Assuming they have to be at work at 8:00 a.m, I may want to time my posts to hit there at 7:00 a.m.  7:00 a.m. Friday in Sydney is 6:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.   So, I post at 6:30 p.m. Albuquerque time.   You can find lots of articles and maps on the Internet to calculate the time difference, but iPhones and other gadgets enable you to monitor the time in several locations at once.

However, now I want to discuss promoting your books/posts by using holidays, international and national.

There are lots of international holidays with which to time posts or promotions: Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, New Year’s Day, etc.  Everyone knows these.  Many of these are religious holidays.

There are also a lot of lesser known holidays that you can use to target an audience depending on its topic, of course.  One example is World Book Day, which is generally celebrated on April 23rd.    Calendarlabs.com provides a good list of international holidays such as these.

Then there are the national holidays celebrated by your target country.  Assuming you want to promote your book to English-speaking countries, the five major English-speaking countries are the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  English is spoken world-wide, so if you target these countries primarily, you will probably reach the vast majority of the English-speakers as well, though you may be a time zone off here and there.   Of course, you can find exhaustive lists of holidays for each of these countries scattered around the Internet, but here are a few you may want to consider (the links are to a list of each country’s holidays):

United Kingdom

Spring Bank Holiday, May 28, 2018

Boxing Day (in most English-speaking nations), December 26, 2018

Canada

Victoria Day, May 21, 2018

Canada Day, July 2, 2018

Labour Day, September 3, 2018

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2018

Australia

Australia Day, January 26, 2018

ANZAC Day, April 25, 2018

Queen’s Birthday, June 11, 2018

Boxing Day, December 26, 2018

New Zealand

Waitangi Day, February 6, 2018

ANZAC Day, April 25, 2018

Labour Day, October 22, 2018

Boxing Day, December 26, 2018

Remember that the UK consists of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, so you may have to consider the holidays in each of these separately.  Also, some states and provinces may or may not celebrate national holidays in the same way or on the same date as the rest of the nation as well as having their own holidays.

As mentioned, these are only a few, actually a very few of the holidays celebrated in English-speaking countries, but I hope it gives you an idea of what is out there that you may want to incorporate into you posting and planning.

 

 

 

 

World Book Day and Other Holidays

Circa 2005-2007

If you want to expand your book sales, one way is to increase your online audience by expanding your promotions to overseas.

In a previous post, I talked about timing your posts to reach overseas audiences by posting them at times appropriate for your target overseas audience.  For example, I live in New Mexico, which is Mountain Standard Time (MST).  If I want to time my posts, so that they post on the most populous part of Australia (the east coast), I have to first consider, when the most likely time Australians might be up, moving about, and looking for something to read.  On social media, a common hashtag for book promotions is #FictionFriday.  This is when a lot of people look for books to read over the weekend.  Therefore, I might want to time my posts when everyone on Australia’s east coast, which is Australian Eastern Daylight Time is rising and getting ready for their day.  Assuming they have to be at work at 8:00 a.m, I may want to time my posts to hit there at 7:00 a.m.  7:00 a.m. Friday in Sydney is 6:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.   So, I post at 6:30 p.m. Albuquerque time.   You can find lots of articles and maps on the Internet to calculate the time difference, but iPhones and other gadgets enable you to monitor the time in several locations at once.

However, now I want to discuss promoting your books/posts by using holidays, international and national.

There are lots of international holidays with which to time posts or promotions: Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, New Year’s Day, etc.  Everyone knows these.  Many of these are religious holidays.

There are also a lot of lesser known holidays that you can use to target an audience depending on its topic, of course.  One example is World Book Day, which is generally celebrated on April 23rd.    Calendarlabs.com provides a good list of international holidays such as these.

Then there are the national holidays celebrated by your target country.  Assuming you want to promote your book to English-speaking countries, the five major English-speaking countries are the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  English is spoken world-wide, so if you target these countries primarily, you will probably reach the vast majority of the English-speakers as well, though you may be a time zone off here and there.   Of course, you can find exhaustive lists of holidays for each of these countries scattered around the Internet, but here are a few you may want to consider (the links are to a list of each country’s holidays):

United Kingdom

Spring Bank Holiday, May 28, 2018

Boxing Day (in most English-speaking nations), December 26, 2018

Canada

Victoria Day, May 21, 2018

Canada Day, July 2, 2018

Labour Day, September 3, 2018

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2018

Australia

Australia Day, January 26, 2018

ANZAC Day, April 25, 2018

Queen’s Birthday, June 11, 2018

Boxing Day, December 26, 2018

New Zealand

Waitangi Day, February 6, 2018

ANZAC Day, April 25, 2018

Labour Day, October 22, 2018

Boxing Day, December 26, 2018

Remember that the UK consists of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, so you may have to consider the holidays in each of these separately.  Also, some states and provinces may or may not celebrate national holidays in the same way or on the same date as the rest of the nation as well as having their own holidays.

As mentioned, these are only a few, actually a very few of the holidays celebrated in English-speaking countries, but I hope it gives you an idea of what is out there that you may want to incorporate into you posting and planning.

 

 

 

 

From Inkpunks.com: “Your Cover Letter and You”

The blogger on the banks of the San Juan River, Farmington, NM, 2013

The blogger on the banks of the San Juan River, Farmington, NM, 2013

The other day I found and posted a good article on submitting to magazines.  Today I found a good article on cover letters (via Nightmare Magazine) at Inkpunks.com.  In my experience, this is some sage advice.  I recommend highly that you visit Nightmare Magazine, peruse their guidelines, and then follow their link to the Inkpunks.com page on cover letters.  As with Jersey Devil Press, I recommend visiting both sites and maybe submitting something, if the sites are to your taste and if you think your work is to their tastes.  Below the article I have posted an example of one of my own cover letters and give a few comments on it.

 

Your Cover Letter and You

The following is a slightly modified repost from my personal blog, http://inkhaven.net.


Submitting to short fiction markets can be very scary for newcomers, and there is a whole lot of confusing advice out there. I’m here to help.

First, though: you guys with the long lists of publications, who have your editors on your Christmas card lists and are now submitting reprints and selling rights I’ve never even heard of, you can wait over there in the bar. And you too, you newly-minted pros who have been doing the submission/rejection slog for a few years now–you should go buy those other guys drinks and network a little. We’ll come join you in a minute.

The rest of you, huddle up.

We’re going to talk about our cover letters today: those things that we agonize over, that First Impression that we are all SO WORRIED about. Do I sound like a real writer? Did I rank high enough in that contest entry? Do my college credits count as professional credits? What about my work as an astrophysicist, that surely qualifies me to write SF, doesn’t it?

Stop worrying.

I will tell you a secret: when submitting fiction to SFF markets, your cover letter is meant to do THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what it’s supposed to do in the rest of the world.

I’ll explain.

Out There–in the job market, academia, whatever–your cover letter is meant to impress. You are expected to drop names. You are supposed to include the most tangentially related accomplishments you can think of. You are meant to inflate it with every credit you can muster. Out There, cover letters become masterful works of fiction: spells cast to cloud the reader’s perception, to convince them to trust us and believe that we are the right person for the task. It is absolutely natural to assume that the same holds true when writing a cover letter for an SFF market.

Natural, but wrong.

The information on the internet reinforces the myth of the Inflated Cover Letter. You’ll see this perfectly reasonable-sounding advice given to writers on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s even in the submission guidelines of your favorite publication:

– Include your publication credits

This is terrifying to a new writer who doesn’t have any. We want to do it right, so we wrack our brains, thinking we have to put something there. Do I include my high school newspaper experience? What about that essay I published in our local Arts & Entertainment paper? I placed 15th in that one fiction contest–that means I was better than the other contestants who placed lower, right?

I know! It’s a horrible mental knot that we tie ourselves into, but the answer is really very simple: Leave it out.

If you do not have semi-pro or pro publication credits, anything less is not a substitute for them. This includes college courses, workshops, contests, university publications, and anything else that did not pay you Actual Money of at least 3 cents/word. Those other things are not examples of professional quality work, and including them can actually hurt you if the reader has a low opinion of any of them.

There are exceptions: there are fanzines with immaculate reputations; a contest that comes to mind that is considered very credible in the field; workshops that most of us would give our eyeteeth to get into. You know which ones those are, if you’ve published in them, placed in it, or attended them. If not, don’t list lesser ones.

And then there’s the advice that sends us all into sweating fits of anxiety:

– Explain why you’re the best person to write this story

No. Stop. Just…NO.

I’d seen this advice treated on the internet as general wisdom for years, but it never made any sense to me, not for what I was writing. What comes of this ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE advice are sorrowful, worry-filled cover letters that say things like “I’m a stay-at-home mother, but I’ve been reading SFF for as long as I could read, and have taken several creative writing classes at Local Community College.”

When an agent at a conference offered it up again to the workshop I was in, I seized the opportunity to clarify. I said approximately the following:

“WTF. I’m writing about DRAGONS/WIZARDS/ZOMBIES/VAMPIRES/SPACESHIPS/ALIENS. I do not have direct experience with any of those things. I’m the best person to write this story because…I have an active imagination?”

He changed the subject. It was almost as if he himself didn’t know why he was advising it. Or it might have been my demeanor, which was admittedly exasperated. Either way, my class didn’t get an answer.

What I’ve since learned is that it’s advice that came from non-fiction publishing, where yeah, your experience with your subject matter counts. It does not scale to SFF short fiction. Ignore it. STOP WORRYING. NOW.

One more thing you want to leave out of your cover letter is what rights you’re offering. If you read the guidelines (and you DID read the guidelines, and followed them TO THE LETTER, didn’t you?) you know which rights they’re buying. They are not going to negotiate with you on that. Including it tells the reader that a) you didn’t read the guidelines, and b) you are concerned that the publisher is going to steal your rights from you. They’re not. It’s okay. They’re professionals.

That’s what not to include in your cover letter. Let’s talk about what you should include. You’ll be shocked. Seriously. This is the easiest, most worry-free thing you have ever done. It never needs to take up another cycle in your brain that would be better spent making art. Ready?

Dear Sue Doe, [Editor’s actual name. Many editors are INCREDIBLY PICKY about this. My boss is not, but many are. If there are many editors and sub-editors, use the name of the highest-ranking editor.]

Please find attached my short story “Epic Tale You Totally Want To Buy” (2500 words, Fantasy) for your consideration. [Title. Word count. Genre if market accepts more than one. If they only accept one genre, do not submit a different genre to them. Natch.]

My work has previously appeared in Realms of Fantasy and Fantasy & Science Fiction. [THIS IS OPTIONAL.] I am a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing workshop. [ALSO OPTIONAL.]

Thank you for your time and attention.

Regards,

Jane Smith
123 Main Street
Smalltown, PA 12345
jane.smith@somewhere.com
123.456.7890

THAT’S IT. That’s all. Do not inflate. Do not be clever. Do not include a bio unless the guidelines specifically ask for one.

So here’s the point: in the rest of the world, cover letters are meant to impress. In the SFF world, they just need to not bias the reader against you.

Look, we’re already up against how the reader’s day job went, how much sleep they got, whether their kids are driving them crazy, the state of their general health, their financial troubles, and whether or not their relationship is working. We’ve got a LOT working against us. As new writers and budding professionals we do not want to add to that.

I’m going to keep hammering these numbers home: 400-600 submissions PER MONTH. 2-5 available slots PER MONTH. They are not looking for reasons to love your words; they’re looking for reasons to cull them from an overwhelming pile. Do not give them a reason to doubt your ability before they’ve even seen your story. Let the work speak for itself.

So tell them what they need to know and tell them nothing that they don’t. Click Send, and update your submissions spreadsheet.

Now go take your rightful place over there in the bar with the rest of the writers. It’s where you belong. You earned it.

(And then get to work on your next story.)

Phil Slattery Cover Letter Example

This is the format I generally follow, but I will be modifying it, when appropriate, according to the Nightmare Magazine’s Guidelines.

Dear Editor(s), [I use this if I cannot find the editor’s name.]

Please accept my story for publication. It is entitled “Alien Embrace” and it is 4,954 words long. It has not been previously published and it is not being submitted elsewhere at this time. [The three most common questions editors have in my experience is word count, is the story being submitted elsewhere, and has it been previously published.  Therefore, I make these part of my cover letter’s boilerplate and state the answers up front in their own paragraph.]

Bio: Phil Slattery is a native of Kentucky. He has traveled extensively and currently resides in Aztec, New Mexico. His fiction has been published in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, Ascent Aspirations, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, Dream Fantasy International, Wilmington Blues, Möbius, Spoiled Ink, Midnight Times, Six Sentences, Sorcerous Signals, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction World, Through the Gaps, and Fiction on the Web. More on his writing can be found at www.philslattery.wordpress.com. His twitter handle is @philslattery201. [The Nightmare guidelines are great advice if you have been published at semi-pro or pro rates, but I have not been yet.  Therefore, I list where I have been published, unless the editor states not to.  I never know if or which any of my previous publication credits will impress an editor, so I list them all.  After I start being paid regularly at semi-pro or pro rates, then I will whittle these down.  I always write the bio in the third person, so that the editor can simply copy and paste it into place. ]

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

I keep this standard format and a few variations in a Word file and update it whenever something else of mine is published.  If I have to modify it substantially for a particular editor, then I keep that format on file as well, in case someone else wants it that way.

Bottom line:  the best advice I can give for formatting a cover letter and what to include in it is to read carefully what that editor wants and follow it to a T.  If the editor is not specific, then the above guidelines are a good, solid, professional way of introducing yourself and stating what most editors want to know.  I have found that the easiest way to be published is to make it as easy as possible for the editor to publish me.

Thoughts?  Comments?

“Behind the Curtain” at Jersey Devil Press

At "A Literary Affair" charity dinner in Farmington, NM, as Herbert West, September 12, 2015.

At “A Literary Affair” charity dinner in Farmington, NM, as Herbert West, September 12, 2015.

This I share with you tonight for entertainment and because it addresses one or two issues affecting writers in general.

I was searching for somewhere to publish a very short work (probably nanofiction) of mine tonight and I came across the submission guidelines at Jersey Devil Press.  I love guidelines that show a sense of humor and a free spirit while being straightforward and honest and theirs does just that.   They also offered more detailed guidelines, which I found a quite enjoyable read.  I also found that these guidelines do not provide just good advice for their own publication, they provide good advice that any author submitting to any publication would be wise to heed:  advice on formatting, staying away from overused topics, good taste, sensitive subjects, etc.  As they use at least one or two examples that touch on horror, I thought I would post the part on their selection process tonight for your perusal.   If you have a chance and the time, check out their guidelines on their website and the rest of the publication as well…and maybe submit something as well…and maybe give them a pat on the back for a job well done.

By the way, I ended up not submitting to them, because my story did not meet a requirement.  That’s why I read guidelines.

Thoughts?  Comments?

 

Behind the Curtain

We thought we’d take a moment to shore up our submissions guidelines and give you a little peek into our selection process.

First, our goal: To publish stories non-writers would actually want to read. We prefer funny, weird, and, above all, entertaining; sober melodramas generally don’t fly so well with us. There are certainly exceptions, but that’s largely because they’re exceptional.

Second, previously published works: We accept them, but we want to clarify that a bit. By “previously,” we literally mean “previously.” If it’s currently published, i.e. something that is available online elsewhere, or if it’s part of the book you just released, that seems a little greedy to us. If it’s only on your own personal website or a forum or something, though, don’t sweat it.

Accepting and rejecting story submissions is, by nature, subjective. Short of grading them entirely on quantifiable variables, like the number of adverbs or something, there’s not much we can do to change that. So, to level the playing field a bit, we thought we’d give you a little heads up regarding our own personal peeves and predilections.

Also, a pre-emptive apology to anyone who thinks we’re singling out their story: We’re not. Not a single theme mentioned below is a one-off. These are all popular, repeat offenders that we’re simply not that fond of.

Eirik’s list of things that should be stopped forever:

Vampires. I think Twilight is stupid. I’m sorry, but I haven’t been even moderately interested in vampires since “Angel” got cancelled.

Mob stories. If the entire story is just two guys talking in “goomba” speak, please don’t. I’ve met people with mob ties in real life and they’re generally assholes. And, honestly, you’re never going to out-Soprano the Sopranos.

College professors seducing/being seduced by young, nubile co-eds. What college did you go to where this was actually happening? In general, any regularly used plot line in a porno is a no-no.

Thinly veiled drug metaphors. You think drugs are bad. We get it. We don’t care. At the very least get a thicker veil.

Monica’s justifiable grounds for homicide:

Male writers writing female narrators. While it’s not impossible to do this, the vast majority of men writing women don’t seem to have ever talked to a woman before in their life. If your female narrator is shallow, stupid, and unable to do anything in her life that does not revolve around men, don’t send it.

And if you’re reading this thinking, “Well, of course she’d think this, she’s a woman,” then YOU’RE THE FUCKING PROBLEM. You can keep trying, though, if you really want to. Interesting side note, Monica once stared at a man with such disdain that he actually BURST INTO FLAMES. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Stereotypical minority characters. This kind of goes hand in hand with the above. If you’re writing a black man, try actually talking to one. It’s 2010, people. We shouldn’t be getting offended anywhere near as often as we do by the way people are treating characters of various backgrounds.

Unanimously awful topics:

Erotica. Actually, this one doesn’t bother us, but we’re never going to publish it. If you want to keep sending it though, for our own personal amusement, knock yourself out.

Rape. No. Bad. We don’t really need there to be any more rape in the world than there already is. Monica would also like to clarify that any sort of sexual act perpetrated without both parties’ consent is rape. Again, we’re surprised how often people don’t seem to know what the fuck they’re writing.

Relationship drama. While this seems to be a staple of literature, it is also very often boring as all hell. If your story’s just two people moping around, maybe find somewhere else to send it. If they’re doing it while juggling cats, though, you’ve got our attention.

On the flip side, here are a few things we wouldn’t mind seeing more of:

Strong female voices. We know you’re out there.

A light-hearted view of the world. Fiction does not have to be so God damned grim.

Truly bat-shit insane fiction. If you’re worried that what you just wrote is too ridiculous to be published, send it.

Again, please don’t take any of the above personally. We’re simply giving you a glimpse into our own tastes. We’re not saying that the themes mentioned above are bad or shouldn’t be written about (well, we’re not saying it about most of them anyway), but simply that we’re really not that interested in them. Your story about a bunch of mobsters being raped by vampires may very well be the best story about mobsters getting raped by vampires ever written. It may deserve to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. And we may even say as much. But it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Besides, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Of course, you better make damn sure you read THEIR submission guidelines before you start sending shit. I don’t want to get blamed for a rash of vampire stories getting sent to a site looking for memoirs and poetry.

But if your heart’s still set on submitting to JDP, head on over to submishmash

Good, Brief Blogpost on Publication at Fey Publishing

The blogger on the banks of the San Juan River, Farmington, NM, 2013

The blogger on the banks of the San Juan River, Farmington, NM, 2013

I ran across a good, common sense article on some publication basics today on the Fey Publishing blog.  Please visit them at Fey Publishing Blog.  The article is entitled “Advice Straight from a Publisher on Getting Your Book Published”.  It was originally published on July 18, 2014.  Also, Mr. Charles Shell makes a good point about publisher’s responses in the comments section, to which I  added my own, of course.