BEA, Jo Nesbo, and Write Like a Pro

by Kellyann Zuzulo
I attended Book Expo America this week in New York City. BEA is a massive publishing exhibitor and education extravaganza focused on getting books (or at least awareness of them) to booksellers. While there are tons of conferences debating and analyzing global publishing strategies in a digital age, seems the biggest attractions are the opportunities to meet authors. That's encouraging in an age of wanton celebrity worship. Book geeks have their own venue for celebrity.

My geek moment was getting up at 4 a.m. to make sure I arrived on time for an author breakfast that included comedian Stephen Colbert and, more importantly, authors Barbara Kingsolver and Jo Nesbo. The muffin may have been dry, but I came away with some key tenets that bolstered my own writing ethic going forward, and I will share these three pithy points with you now.
1.  You can and should write anywhere when you have some down time. Make it a tic.
2.  Reviews will help to sell your book. Spend time putting your baby in bloggers' hands.
3.  Jo Nesbo is as cute in real life as he is in his pictures.

The first point is obvious. Every writer knows they should be writing whenever they can. That's what makes them writers. But it helps to hear it again, especially from a megaselling writer like crime fiction boss Jo Nesbo. He shared an anecdote of not being able to sleep that very morning due to jet lag. (He's from Oslo.) He also got up at 4 (we have something in common). And as he watched the sun rise over the Brooklyn Bridge, he wrote for two hours. He connected the story to early days of working as a stock broker and traveling as a musician and still getting up to squeeze in writing. That hasn't changed. That point has much to do with why he's successful.

Point two derived not only from the breakfast but from the various exhibits and publisher presentations at BEA. The most appealing book promotions offered reviews from objective third parties. I add that last definition because there can also be a danger of loading a book promo or Amazon book page with reviews from shows. I find that a book's credibility is easily diminished by gushing two-liners that basically say BUY THIS BOOK! An author, either personally or through their publisher, needs to put their book in the hands of bloggers. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of bloggers who specialize in each genre of fiction. It's easy enough to determine which ones have a robust following (i.e. potential future readers of your book) and send them a pdf of the book. A writer needs the reviews to place them in the real world of publishing. Word-of-mouth is still the best way to publicize a title. And when that word-of-mouth is virtual, your book is in many mouths at one time.

Point three derives from my book geekness. And it's true.

Best Wishes,
Kellyann Zuzulo
What Would You Wish For?


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