Daniel Lambert Gives the Manuscripters the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Marketing Their Writing Online
By Jose Angel Manaiza, Jr.
(The New “All-American Boy”)
On Tuesday, January 26, 2010, the Southwest Manuscripters experienced a defining moment in the history of the club, for the first time having a meeting videotaped for possible television broadcast. The distinguished guest speaker was my former Professor, Daniel Lambert. Lambert is the remarkable author of the poetry collection Love and Other Diversions. He is also an educator of America’s Younger Generation as well as the Older Generation, who he encourages generously to use the World Wide Web for their advantage. As the 21st Century approaches with the Information Age, writers must be up-to –date with the most current technology of the World Wide Web to promote their writings and develop a virtual market.
Lambert walked to the podium in front of the audience confident, poised, and congenial. Lambert is an audience-centered, professional speaker, who is willing to have everyone engaged in his presentation.
Lambert started the presentation with a great opening, engaging the audience. He used his clever sense of humor and asked the audience to never ASSUME because it creates more problems.Lambert explained that "If you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME." The audience laughed. He shared the story of England's Daniel Lambert. He advised that the Web can give you a lot of information that you may never imagine you could gather. If you Google the name "Daniel Lambert," you will find our guest speaker, but you will also find 18th-century England's heaviest man, who weighed in at nearly one thousand pounds.
Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein had five basic rules when it came to writing and marketing: First, you must write. Second, you must finish what you write. Third, you must not rewrite too much. Fourth, you must send your writing to potential publishers. Finally, if your writing is returned with a rejection slip, send it out to another potential publisher.
Lambert also shared two recommendations for successful marketing from previous Manuscripters guest speaker Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life: "First, write a charming note to a writer, editor or agent you admire five times per week. Second, make an outside excursion once per week to a writing class, conference, or book signing."
Lambert shared several methods for creating a "presence" for you and your written work online. First, you can create a signature line in your e-mail program, so everyone you e-mail learns about your book. Lambert's Yahoo and America Online signature lines include links to his Web site (hosted by Homestead.com) as well as his publisher (the print-on-demand service Lulu.com). The advantage to this method (the "good") is that everyone who receives your e-mails will learn about your book(s). The disadvantage (the "bad") is that this method is limited to a certain market: those people who receive e-mails from you. The serious disadvantage (the "ugly") is that some people may be annoyed by your lengthy signature lines.
Another method for marketing your work is to use a Web site design and hosting service to help you build your own Web site. One example is Wordpress.com. Lambert uses Homestead.com, which costs about $65 per year. The "good" is that those who visit Lambert's Web site will learn about his book (as well as his proofreading and tutoring services). The "bad" is that this method is limited to those people with an internet connection who are interested in Lambert's book or his name. The "ugly" is that anyone can Google Lambert's name and access the information on his Web site. Then again, there are ways to protect your writing from potential copyright violators. For example, anyone can register a story, screenplay, novel, or title through the Writer's Guild West for $20.
I was inspired by Mr. Lambert to become a published author after I took some English courses with him at Los Angeles Southwest College. Mr. Lambert is the best teacher in the world and he profoundly influenced me to write my first inspirational memoir about my journey to America from Honduras. My book, titled Hi! My Name is Jose!, will be published this year through AuthorHouse.com. Lambert asked me to share the stage and describe my experience with Authorhouse.com. I answered inquiries from the audience, and gave the phone number to contact Author House with more questions: (888) 728-8467. Then, the audience enthusiastically asked questions of Mr. Lambert, and he successfully responded to all of them.
The "good" aspect of publishing your work through a Print-On-Demand (POD) service such as Lulu, Author House, or Xlibris is that customers can purchase your books online through the POD or through Amazon.com (and often Barnes and Noble.com). There are also download and preview options, which offer more flexibility and "user-friendliness" than conventional publishers offer. The "bad" is that some POD services offer more extensive marketing features, but these can cost more money. The "ugly" is that sometimes, non-POD publishers such as Viking or Random House are less likely to publish your book if you have already published it through a POD service.
Nevertheless, POD services can offer the writer an excellent way to create a "presence" on the World Wide Web. Longtime Manuscripters "sparkplug" Varda Murrell published her book Writing as Adventure through Xlibris.com. San Jose-based poet Anhthao Bui published her book Yellow Flower through AuthorHouse.com.
There are also several "offline" methods for marketing one's work. Authors such as Bui have hired printers to create full-color postcards, flyers, and bookmarks to remind readers about their work. Attending writers' clubs such as the Southwest Manuscripters can expose you to a world of professional contacts. Making friends and contacts can introduce you to publishing opportunities. Lambert's fellow Manuscripter Glenn Willis helped him to publish his article about Ray Bradbury in The Easy Reader magazine. Lambert's high school friend Tony Lee is now a professional game designer, and has helped Lambert to get published in several gaming magazines. The "dark poet" Robert Loye helped Lambert to launch a career as a rock music critic.
Lambert gave us a unique perspective on one writer's journey from concept to virtual book shelf. Thank you, Professor Lambert, for an engaging presentation. To learn more about Daniel Lambert, please go to http://dan_lambert.homestead.com/.