Author JoAnneh Nagler presents Ketchupedia's first Workshop on How to Launch Your Book Aug 3rd
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
This Tuesday, August 3rd at 6:30 Central our first online class sponsored by Ketchupedia, our outreach to writers. You are invited.
Does the thought of having to promote your upcoming or newly-released book make you want to run, scream, or take a fast flight, never to return? Would you rather scrub your grout, clean grime off your hubcaps, dust every baseboard in your house than face the prospect of figuring out how to do your own PR?
You’re not alone. Most of us writers feel exactly the same way. We're left to figure out how to get the word out about our precious new literary creation without any guidelines, direction or help from anyone. We’re just expected to promote it. How?
Some of us have been told that the way to “sell” is to—somehow—get a million Twitter and Insta followers, and post twenty-eight times a day. (Ha! When would have time to write? For that matter, when would have time to live?) For those of us who have taken a stab at that approach, we know that it doesn’t necessarily turn into on-the-earth sales. Or, maybe we’ve taken our publisher’s advice and tried to get a podcast going—I’ve been told by one publisher, “Why don’t you just get 500,000 subscribers, and then we’ll talk”—yikes! Really? –or, possibly we’ve been given an insurmountable list of PR outlets to tackle, and all that’s happened after trying is we’ve come out the other side exhausted and angry.
We’re going to change all of that. We’re going to streamline it, make it workable. In this course, you will learn simple strategies to promote your book—strategies that are easy on the soul. Things that won’t consume your life or require you to be some kind of social media guru. Things you can do easily and with the skills you already have. All you need to make this work is willingness to try. That’s it.
So what really works? What can a reasonably committed author do to promote their writing these days? And, if we’re working with a big or boutique publisher, or lucky enough to work with a small press (like Flying Ketchup Press) who offers hands-on editorial and development help, what can we do to get our work seen and heard by our audiences and make sure we support the publishing process, too?
We’ll cover all the outlets: reviewers, author websites, radio, regional and local TV, social sites, magazines, contests, awards, Amazon author pages, book sites, and more—and most importantly, we’ll talk about what’s the best use of our time (and what’s not), what not to waste our time on, how to whittle it all down to minutes a day, and where the fun parts are. (Yes, there are fun parts!)
JoAnneh Nagler is the author of three nonfiction books including Naked Marriage (Skyhorse Publishing); How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass (W.W. Norton); and The Debt-Free Spending Plan (Harper-Collins), two of which were Amazon Top-100 titles. Her books have been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, LiveStrong Magazine, and many more media outlets. Recently awarded the National League of PEN Women Achiever Award (2020), she wrote and directed the play Ruby and George in Love (Sonoma Arts Live Theatre Company), and composed two singer-songwriter albums, I Burn and Enraptured, available in all outlets. Her new short story collection Stay with Me, Wisconsin will be published in January 2022 by Coyote Point Press, and several stories have appeared in the literary journals New Haven Review, Glimmer Train, Mobius, and Gold Man Review. She is a founding member of The Pacific Coast Writer’s Collective and has just completed her first novel, Key West. Find more at www.AnArtistryLife.com.
If you missed it, Enjoy an interview between author JoAnneh Nagler and editor, Polly Alice McCann, both painters, writers, and excited about short fiction and our new imprint Coyote Point Press to discuss why short stories are a gift for an artistic life.
JoAnneh: Polly, it’s so terrific to be speaking with you today. To jump right in, I know how much you revere the forms of poetry and short fiction, and fine art as well—so much so that you created Flying Ketchup Press four years ago to publish the work of artists, poets, and short story writers. Can you tell us how that passion prompted you to start a publishing company?
Polly: Well, first of all, I’m thrilled to have started something that’s so meaningful to me personally, as well as professionally—something that’s centered on artists and writers. Our culture is so full of messages that technology is meaningful; that money is; or that the acquiring of stuff is what denotes “accomplishment.”
JoAnneh: I feel like it’s about creating a pause in our lives, to stop and remember the delicacy and joy in being human. That’s what fiction, poetry, and art do for me—they make me remember how to be in touch with myself, with my heart and sensations.
Polly: That’s right. It’s not a head thing. It’s a heart thing. It’s a body thing. Maybe even a spirit thing.
JoAnneh: Very well said! So, talk to me a little bit about why you decided to create Flying Ketchup’s new fiction imprint, Coyote Point Press? And, I’m thrilled to say, my book of short stories, Stay with me, Wisconsin will be its first release, come January 2022.
Polly: There’s this thought in the publishing industry that short stories don’t sell well, that poetry doesn’t either. But what I really believe is happening is that the publishing world has gotten eaten up in a certain way by huge online conglomerates which now push the idea that a book has to be a huge seller in order to have value. But that’s not true. There are millions of books that are “evergreens”—they sell a little overtime—or, that need to be shared for smaller audiences. Midwest voices, diverse voices, new voices, and changing viewpoints. Story is the playground for seeing our culture change and grow to remind us of our hopes and dreams.
Polly: Celebrating short fiction is why we are launching Flying Ketchup Press, and now our fiction imprint, Coyote Point Press. It gave us our niche.
JoAnneh: About the value of stories, you mean? As something that’s unique in form and valuable to the heart. I like that.
Polly: Yes. I think the unique perspective of short stories, from an artist’s standpoint, is really revolutionary. The writing of short fiction has built up writers, inspired writers, created books, inspired novels, Lots of Netflix movies came from short stories. Some of our culture and our technology emerge from stories, like the word Robotics coined by Asimov when he entered a short story into a sci-fi magazine.
JoAnneh: I know! Stories are the raw material for eveyrhting. I'm thinking of the raw material for films, like Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain and dozens of others. That’s very true. I used to work in ABC’s Movie of the Week division, and we worked with stories all the time. Sometimes—and you wouldn’t think this was true, but it was—it was the oral storytelling by the writer in front of the producer’s desk that sold the piece. It wasn’t the long-form, but the heart of the short form told in one sitting.
Polly: Yes. The short story form itself has real, intrinsic value—it’s a creative place where things get worked out on a platform that’s unlike anything else in literature. It allows the writer to play with elements that get the reader inside the protagonist very quickly—different from a novel—and then use sharp specificity and imagery to take us to a place we’ve never been. And that’s true of both heart and place: the short story is a mechanism for bright, bold, and delicate strokes, like a painter’s abstractions and figurative shapes, which give us the arc and persona of a character. What if we were only allowed to have mansions and not tiny homes and cabins and lofts and everything in between. Creativity comes in all sizes and sometimes smaller is better. We can allow more room for creativity. I want more room for writers, not less.
JoAnneh: So why Coyote Point Press? I sort of know the answer to this already [laughs], but our readers will want to know.
Polly: I found your stories, JoAnneh, from one of our contests, and I thought, “Hey, these stories are like little novellas—they have a beginning, middle, and end and they take me someplace real and true and compelling. They take me into the modern heart and the trials we all go through. But I feel happy and encouraged at the end. And besides that, they’re really good.”
JoAnneh: Thank you!
Polly: So, we talked at Ketchup about having a dedicated fiction imprint because we realized we’re going to want that—a place for excellent literary fiction that can get recognized for its own contribution and continue to do the hard work of inspiring writers, readers, and our culture. Right now we publish more sci-fi and fantasy and our work is for 14+ but we wanted an arm to reach out to more writers outside of fantasy.
JoAnneh: I think about that anecdote about Ray Carver. How, in the years when he was barely holding a job and had kids and was struggling with alcoholism, he’d go into the laundry room and write on top of the washing machine because that’s the only place he could get some privacy. And since he had so little time, the forms had to be short. And then he invented this short, sharp style of writing fiction that’s totally revered today. Richard Ford, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Doris Lessing, Laurie Colwin.
Polly: Yes. And I love Ray Bradbury. He actually has some 400 short stories published. Why should writers be limited today to what they can share? More creativity the better. And there are all these forms of short stories. There’s not just one way to write them. We’ve talked about this, you and I, and I think that given our busy lives these days, short stories offer an important touchpoint to our emotional experiences. We’re not committing to a whole novel, but we’re getting in there—inside the heart—in a way that fits with our world experiences today in our fast-paced days. Stories are a way to ensure we get inside ourselves.
JoAnneh: I’m impressed with the model you set up for Coyote Point Press. It’s kind of brilliant. That, after my collection is published in January, I’ll get to edit the next collection for Coyote. I love this idea of art building upon itself and creating a community.
Polly: Yes if we just published two books a year we can't help solve the problem of too many writers and too few publishers and those with limited content. There's also the new problem of so much unedited work out there. There's a fine line to walk between, and this allows us more scope. Writers put so much onto the page, but we forget that being in writer’s groups and editing other writers’ work, and being a part of the process of writing, is just one side. Writers who spend their whole life in critique and never get published lose their creative vision. Imagine if we kept doctors in medical school forever but never let them practice. That is what the world is like for writers now but we have a chance to change that, to celebrate sharing good work, not holding people back. Small presses like our and Like Coyote Point Press can answer both issues at once. They can reach more diverse readers, they can inspire and share more writers' work.
JoAnneh: We become part of something bigger than just a solo writer in a room trying to get something down. We start to feel that our work is important spiritually; we’re sharing it with people who say, “Hey. This matters. This is a high calling.” We do that in my group, the Pacific Coast Writer’s Collective. We started it five years ago to help edit each other’s work, and it’s become this huge support for me.
Polly: Right. Exactly. And I want Coyote Point Press and Flying Ketchup to do the same thing for writers and artists.
JoAnneh: You’re doing it! I want to say something about the quality of your work, too. We’re in layout now on my book, and after having three books published by big publishers, I’m humbled and so grateful to see the care and artistry you put into your books.
Polly: It’s an evolving thing. I have a strong art ethic—I’m a painter as well—so composition is important to me. Keeping the eye interested on the page is important to me. And professionalism, of course. That’s central.
JoAnneh: I learned something years ago about professionalism. When we take our work out into the world and professionalize it, that’s when we get the best feedback. We learn whether we’re reaching people, and how we’re reaching them, and where we’re not and need to improve and adjust. We become editable. Meaning, we don’t cringe at the editing process. We know it makes us better.