Based on "Linguistic Facts of Life" from Rosina Lippi-Green's English with an Accent
All spoken language changes over time.
Language is constantly changing in so many ways. Slang comes and goes; industry jargon has to be expanded to accommodate new industry. Society is always shifting, and language must change with it. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation about your computer issues in Latin? You'd be hard pressed to convey the problem clearly and directly. Don't resist this change; instead, celebrate and embrace it!
All spoken languages are equal in linguistic terms.
From your perspective, you speak "normally" or maybe even "correctly." But from someone else's perspective in another location or culture, they are speaking "normally." Far in the northern United States, people speak differently from how they speak down south. Beyond that, certain age, gender, interest, ethnic (etc.) groups speak differently. Some individuals even speak differently in different situations (codeswitching). All of these different methods of speaking--these different dialects--are equally valid in linguistic terms. They all have grammatical systems (even if those systems don't match what you were taught in school), and they are all shared among a community. It's wrong to judge someone based on how they speak because it's wrong to consider one dialect as subordinate to another.
Grammatical and communicative effectiveness are distinct and separate issues.
Grammatical and communicative effectiveness are distinct and separate issues.
In school, you (hopefully) learn some grammar to hone your writing skills. What you may not have learned is that the grammar of how you speak is completely different, and oftentimes spoken grammar is more creative with greater opportunity for variation. A great example of this is a classic from some African-American Vernacular English varieties: "Let me aks you a question." You may have learned the correct spelling "ask" for this word. It's important in writing to have this coded system of spelling to avoid large-scale miscommunications in industry, etc. But if someone were to say this sentence to you, you'd understand what they meant. That's all you need for "communicative effectiveness"-- to be understood.
TL;DR: It's not cool to be pedantic about how people speak if you understand them.
Written language and spoken language are historically, structurally, and functionally fundamentally different creatures.
Language is a biological imperative; all humans seek it, and if they're not provided it, they make it up. Writing is a learned skill. Why does this matter? While the brain is hardwired for language (like it's hardwired for eating), it is not hardwired for writing (like how it's not hardwired for algebra). Some people will be naturally skilled at writing and pick it up easily, but some other people might struggle with it their entire lives. Some people may even have a learning, physical, or other disability that prevents them from writing in some way or another. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or anyone else about your writing skills. Furthermore, don't apply the same rules you've learned for writing to the spoken word. They're not the same at all! If you listen closely, there are a ton of tiny differences and some pretty major differences between the two.
Variation is intrinsic to all spoken language at every level.
Variation in language is the norm, not the exception. When a language stops changing, it dies. Remember Latin. Remember its fate, now relegated to high school classrooms as reluctant children prepare for their SATs. Celebrate language's change around you, and be part of its journey!
by Christina Kann
Until late 2007, hashtags were just one of the buttons you never used on your phone. Then people started to use them to categorize social media posts, and a new way of reaching your target audience was born.
Social media is completely saturated with influencers and people vying for attention. It can be hard to stand out! That’s where hashtags come into play. Hashtags help people organize how they browse through social media apps and indicate to viewers what kind of post they’re looking at.
So, what makes for a great hashtag? Here are some tips that can help you reach your audience and hopefully up for interaction and followers . . . if the dreaded algorithm doesn’t play against you.
Keep it simple
Pick hashtags that are short and straightforward. If you’re a Tumblr user, you might be familiar with their rambling hashtags that one should read as part of the post (like #justkidding #whywouldtheywriteitlikethis #helpimtrappedinmybroomcloset, etc.). Other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram do not use hashtags like this. Instead, you’ll want to keep the hashtags simple.
Keep it relevant
Your hashtags should be true to the post you are making. For example, don’t use #PrideMonth just because you’re making a post in June, which is Pride Month. That post will need to be related to queer culture or a Pride Month event for that hashtag to be relevant.
Do your research
Look up hashtags before you use them. If the hashtag has been used a lot, your post may get lost in the mix of everyone else who is using it. An example of an overused hashtag is #outfitoftheday, often abbreviated as #ootd. Fashion influencers may still use this hashtag, but they don’t expect a huge impact from this hashtag alone.
Use trending hashtags
A hashtag’s popularity will come and go. But how do you know which ones are currently hot? Thankfully, there are sites out there that will do the work for you, like hashtags.org or best-hashtags.com. At hashtags.org, you can enter a hashtag and see how it has been trending. At best-hashtags.com, you can look up a hashtag’s popularity, and you can even cut and paste hashtags from that site into your post. Just remember to edit and add to this list and use only the ones that are relevant to you.
Limit your hashtags
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. If you exceed 30 hashtags, Instagram will post your photo without any text or hashtags. You’ll have to retype your whole caption, which sucks! (Trust us, we’ve been there.) On Twitter, you only want to use one or two hashtags that can be worked organically into the post, so make sure they are relevant. On TikTok, you’ll want to use only 4-5 hashtags.
We’ll go into deep dives later about how to use hashtags uniquely on each of these platforms, but this is a great starting point!
With these tips you will be on the right path to reaching your target audience. So, get out there and engage, and before you know it, you will be reaching your audience, and your following will grow!
You’ve likely heard about the divisiveness of the font Comic Sans. The font is not inherently bad; in fact, it’s friendly and inviting. However, the font is widely regarded as a joke, and yet it remains available to users of many word processors more than 25 years after its invention. How did Comic Sans come to be? How did it turn into such a joke? And why is it still available for anyone to use?
The invention of Comic Sans
Let’s go back in time a bit to the early days of the internet. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft was only just starting to place personal computers in people’s homes. These days, a three-year-old can pick up any smart phone and perform a number of tasks. Back in the 90s, most professionals did not know how to use a computer.
To teach private users how to interact with a computer interface, Microsoft developed Microsoft Bob. Microsoft Bob was a program that visually resembled a standard upper-middle-class home office. The idea was that connecting computer functions to the image of an office would help people to conceptualize what their computer was capable of. Characters in Microsoft Bob communicated with the user through speech bubbles, and that speech was originally set in Times New Roman.
The problem was that Microsoft Bob . . . sucked. It was clunky and unhelpful. Even Melinda Gates has referred to it as a failure.
What does this have to do with Comic Sans? Comic Sans was developed by Vincent Connare specifically for use in Microsoft Bob. He felt that Times New Roman was too stiff and formal for what was supposed to be a learning program. It was meant to emulate chunky, childish comic book fonts, and its purpose was to set first-time computer users at ease. The problem was that Comic Sans was not complete before the first iteration of Microsoft Bob rolled out, Microsoft Bob was a failure that did not last long, and Comic Sans probably should have been thrown directly in the garbage at this point.
But it wasn’t.
Beyond Microsoft Bob
Connare said in an interview with Ilene Strizver of fonts.com, “When I designed Comic Sans, there was no expectation of including the font in applications other than those intended for children.” Microsoft first used Comic Sans in text bubbles in Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which was indeed designed for children. Eventually, however, Comic Sans was added to the 1995 Windows as a system font option.
Soon, graphic designers and computer users alike quickly grew tired of seeing Comic Sans everywhere, particularly in serious correspondence, where the silly font was inappropriate. In 1999, two graphic designers launched a website called Ban Comic Sans in response to being pressed to use Comic Sans for a museum exhibit design.
As the internet was popularized and meme culture grew, the joke of Comic Sans grew with it. One of the most popular Comic Sans memes is the original doge meme, a series of images of grinning Husky dogs captioned with silly messages written using questionable grammar and spelling—and using Comic Sans.
In 2011, Microsoft released Comic Sans Pro, which included features like italics, small caps, and more. This was released on April Fools’ Day, furthering the narrative that Comic Sans is a joke.
What are fonts for?
Fonts carry vibes; there’s no getting around that. Even the most common, neutral fonts, like Times New Roman or Arial, say that the writer is straightforward, professional, and/or no-nonsense. Using audacious fonts like Chiller or Blackadder for anything real, anything substantial, says the writer is immature and not taking their project seriously. That’s the reality of fonts.
Microsoft Word can carry hundreds of different fonts, but most of the time, a regular user simply doesn’t need these. The many thousands of fonts that exist on the internet are for graphic designers to choose with much discerning. Regular people may not know what fonts look ridiculous in what circumstances, but a designer is trained to use different fonts to carefully curate a book’s (or graphic’s) aesthetic.
The problem with Comic Sans is not that it exists. Wingdingz exists for some reason, so there are more baffling fonts out there. The problem with the font is that it seems like many people have no idea what kind of impression it sends, and they use it so liberally. The average internet user will see Comic Sans so much more frequently than Chiller or Blackadder.
The font is specifically designed to be animated, juvenile, and silly. It kind of replicates a child’s handwriting, if they were particularly uniform and neat. Yet there are many people out there who use Comic Sans in baffling situations, like when sending an office memo or creating a resume. Comic Sans is sort of the polar opposite of professionalism, representing immaturity, movement, and failure.
When scientists at CERN discovered the Higgs Boson, Fabiola Gianotti presented her results using Comic Sans. A Dutch World War II memorial was unveiled in 2012 featuring the names of Jewish, Allied, and German military deaths, all written in Comic Sans. During the UK’s great Brexit debate, the conservative party tweeted a message encouraging the parties to come together, which had been styled in Comic Sans. These are some great examples of times in which Comic Sans should not have even been considered for one moment, as its use greatly diminished the weight of what was being said.
Why this is important for authors
Especially for authors who are just getting their writing careers started, nothing is more important than being professional. Publishers, editors, and even readers want to be assured that you know what you’re doing, that you’re professional, that you take your work seriously.
Particularly because typography is such an integral part of publishing a book, it’s even more important for an author to demonstrate that they have an understanding of parts of a book, including typefaces. The use of Comic Sans says, “Don’t take me seriously, and my book won’t be serious either.”
What's Comic Sans good for, then?
Comic Sans is good for casual communication that is not serious, not professional, and not important. If you’re in a situation where font just straight-up does not matter, fine. Use Comic Sans. But be aware that you may be judged for it nonetheless.
There is also anecdotal evidence that Comic Sans is easier than other fonts for dyslexic people to read, though there have been no studies to support this with concrete data. However, it’s common for readers with dyslexia to prefer sans serif fonts, and the weighted sides of Comic Sans may indeed make text easier to read.
There is also anecdotal evidence that Comic Sans helps writers to get rid of writer’s block, as the casual and even silly appearance of the font takes some pressure off that a writer may be feeling when writing in Times New Roman, the preferred font of publishers.
This is not to say that Comic Sans is good for nothing. We are just here to beg people to stop using the font seriously, professionally, and opt for sharper options. If you’re not keen on the standard Times New Roman or Arial, try a similar variant like Garamond or Calibri. We’re happy to advise!
written by Christina Kann
The surprisingly useful writing advice (that doesn’t actually require alcohol)
There is a lot of writing advice out there.
Write every day at 3 a.m.!
Write on an old typewriter!
Subscribe to this writing class for only $99.95!
Write at least two thousand words a day! (Calm down, Stephen King.)
Buy this expensive notebook for inspiration and then never write in it because it’s too much pressure! (That one’s from me.)
While it’s hard to figure out what’s useful and what’s useless in the world of writing guidance, there is a bit of advice that connects many of the most successful writers in the world:
Write drunk, edit sober.
Yep! This succinct bit of advice (credited to the perpetually-drunk Ernest Hemingway) packs a surprisingly strong double-shot of usefulness, and you don’t actually have to drink a damn thing to use it.
Here, I’ll translate: Write without inhibitions; edit full of them.
When it comes to writing your first draft, just write it. Spit it out. Don’t censor yourself. That voice inside your head that stops you every time you start to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)—the one that tells you your ideas aren’t good enough, the words aren’t right, a “real writer” would know what to do with all your jumbled ideas—tell that fool to shut up! There is no “real writer,” and there is no perfect first draft.
You can’t turn your ideas into a well-crafted book while they’re still floating around in your head. As V.E. Schwab (author of many wildly successful books Wildling can personally recommend, like Vicious and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) has said, “You can’t write a book right until you write it wrong.” This means you don’t write a great book--you just write, then you make the book great through editing.
Even Neil Gaiman, one of the most prolific, successful, and imaginative writers of our time, has repeatedly told his fans, “The process of doing your second draft is the process of making it look like you knew what you were doing all along.” It’s only after you’ve spilled all your ideas onto paper that you begin the tough, slow, sometimes sobering work of editing.
Most of your favorite authors, from those we study in school to cult favorites and guilty pleasures, are great at pouring out the first draft with some version of wild abandon, and then editing that mess meticulously--sorting, organizing, rearranging, cutting, and reworking it until it’s the carefully crafted finished piece their readers fawn over. Great writing may read like magic, but it actually took a lot of regular, sometimes painful, sometimes boring, sometimes bad (and yes, sometimes drunk) human work to make it.
So whether you need a swig of good whiskey to help you loosen up or not, just remember: write like there are no rules--save those for the second draft. Stretch your fingers, shake those doubts from your mind, and write with the untethered audacity of a drunk Ernest Hemingway. You won’t regret it.
by Mary-Peyton Crook
Some people say that when you read a book, you create a movie in your head, so there’s simply no need for the existence of book-to-film adaptations. However true that may be, those adaptations do exist, and some are excellent and others are absolute travesties. Here at Wildling, we have strong opinions on this topic, and we’re sharing them with you!
Christina's fave: His Dark Materials (2019-current)
This is a TV show on Amazon, not a film, but same diff! This series based on the Philip Pullman trilogy is a beautiful, skillful tribute to the original text. The book series is complex, fantastical, and multifaceted, and the show manages to convey all of the many layers of this story without seeming to have to compress anything together or skip anything—seriously, I was hard-pressed to find a single omission that I didn’t fully agree with. In fact, they even found the time to develop some characters and plotlines more thoroughly than the books did. This show is the perfect argument for my thesis that fantasy book series are truly better served by being developed into shows rather than films. Seasons 1 and 2 (based on books 1 and 2) are out on Amazon now, with Season 3 due in 2022.
Christina's failure: Dune (1984)
This film is an insult to the original text, its beautiful and cerebral themes, and its vast, fiercely devoted fan base. The film was too long by about two hours, and yet somehow it failed to explain properly even the most foundational concepts from the novel. Granted, the novel is dense, vast, and epic—but the movie seemed to have truly turned its nose up at the source material the way a child quits the school band when they can’t master the trumpet within a week. The ubiquitous touch of the mid-eighties didn’t help things, either. DO NOT WATCH.
The new movie is great, though.
Christina's bonus: Ella Enchanted (2004)
There are a couple of films out there that are terrible adaptations of their source material, but really fun in their own right. My numero uno in this category is Ella Enchanted. The book is great. The film is great. They have next to no resemblance to each other beyond some core concepts, like the main character having to obey any command and eventually falling in love (sorry, spoilers!). My brain can separate these enough to appreciate each of them without comparing them.
Mary-Peyton's fave: Anne of Green Gables (1985)
I could watch the 1985 film adaptation of this book over and over again! It really captured the heart of the book, and Megan Follows perfectly captured the wild spirit of Anne Shirley--a kind, clumsy, and stubborn girl adopted by an older couple who had wanted to adopt a boy, but ended up falling in love with the quirky redheaded bookworm. I wish every little girl could watch this movie, like I did (well, maybe not exactly like I did, since I had it on two VHS tapes). Anne didn’t fit into the small, quiet box that young ladies were meant to inhabit in her world (and still are in this world), and although people tried to shame her, she never apologized for being herself. The acting in this film was perfect, subtle, and real, and the writing kept much of the humor and heart that makes the book so wonderful. I highly recommend this for a family movie night.
Mary-Peyton's failure: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
When I read these books as a kid, I was enchanted. The real world would melt away, and I’d find myself completely within the world of Narnia alongside Lucy, Edmund, Susan, Peter, and Aslan. So years later, when I first saw the movie trailer, I was beyond excited. But I was so disappointed in the movie. As often happens when grown-ups decide to make a popular children’s book into a movie, it had lost much of what made the story wonderful; ironically, it had lost much of its wisdom and depth. The best kids books, the classics that stay with us throughout time, deal with some really heavy and “grown-up” topics, like grief, betrayal, and loneliness, in such a way that helps kids process those things. But the movie version of such books often comes out as a shallow, cartoonish, and flashy shell of the book. Ella Enchanted, The Golden Compass, and the Percy Jackson series are great examples of this--those books are downright dark and even scary at parts, which makes the story so much more intense; the more terrible the evil, the more magical it is when good wins. Kids don’t fall in love with these magical adventures because they’re fun; they love them because they are full, deep, and emotional stories of bravery, growth, kindness, and more. The fantastical adventure is only part of the appeal. It seems like the people who made these movies missed the point.
Michael's fave: The Princess Bride (1987)
Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride film adaptation? If you don’t, I don’t want to know you. Too harsh? Maybe, but this movie is amazing! It has it all: adventure, comedy, suspense, and wuv, tru wuv. William Goldman, the author, was a huge part of the adaptation and this helped keep the movie true to the book. And with Rob Reiner directing, pure magic was made. He also directed book to movie adaptations like Stand by Me and Misery. The only bits and pieces of the book that are not found in the film were edited out simply because of time constraints. And anything added were small additions; did you know there weren’t any shrieking eels in the book? As someone who deliberately reads the book before the movie comes out so they can tell whoever will listen how much the movie failed to capture the power of the book, I’m happy to report that this is one adaptation I can do nothing but praise.
Michael's failure: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
I had such high hopes for this film adaptation, especially with Tim Burton at the helm! I just knew he would be able to capture the right amount of darkness that hangs over the Peregrine universe. But . . . the movie was an utter disappointment. The author, Ransom Riggs, should have had more of an opinion during filming. Tim Burton ended up swapping the main female character’s powers for those of a weaker female character, which felt like it was just so the main male character could be more of a hero. Then, because Tim Burton wanted to work with Samuel L. Jackson so badly, he created a character and story line that isn’t found in the book. It completely changed the vibe of the first book, and the direct consequence was they couldn’t make a movie series using the other books. Maybe that was a blessing because this film was a complete letdown.
Grace's fave: Practical Magic (1998)
I probably watched this movie for the first time during my preteen years, so it has a special place in my heart. When I found out it was based on a book by none other than the amazing Alice Hoffman, I had to read it. Even though I really enjoyed this book, I truly think the movie is a culmination of the book’s strongest parts—and that’s not just because of the “special place in my heart” thing I mentioned. Okay, maybe a little. There are plenty of differences between the book and movie versions, and they’re both fabulous in their own ways, but I think the Practical Magic movie is an awesome example of how a film adaptation doesn’t have to be a scene-for-scene remake of the book to be good.
Grace's failure: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
This movie adaptation is so bad that I haven’t even seen it!! I’ve heard enough to know I need to stay away, far away. I know, I probably should’ve included a movie adaptation I’ve actually seen, but the validity of our list would’ve been called into question without, so did I really have a choice? I somehow missed the Percy Jackson train when it rolled through years ago, so I’m catching up and reading them now. I’m smack-dab in the middle—ugh, maybe I’ll end up watching the movie one day. I’ll let you know if I do!
Feel free to add to our list with your favorite and least favorite book-to-film adaptations in the comments below!
by Grace Ball
In this episode of How Do I Book?, host Christina Kann sits down with Anne Claessen to chat about how authors can pitch to guest on podcasts to spread their networks and sell their books! Anne Claessen is the CEO of Podcast Babes podcast management agency and host of The Podcast Babes podcast.
Please note that this transcript has been edited for clarity and concision.
Christina Kann 00:27
Welcome to How Do I Book? by Wildling Press. We like to chat about book writing, book publishing, book marketing, and, of course, book reading. We're trying to help new and experienced authors develop their craft, widen their perspectives, and learn to get a little wild every once in a while.
I'm Christina Kann, and I'm extremely excited to be joined today by our first guest ever, Anne Claessen, host of The Podcast Babes. Welcome, Anne!
Anne Claessen 00:55
Thank you so much, Christina. It's so good to be here.
Christina Kann 00:58
Before we get started, real quick, what are your pronouns?
Anne Claessen 01:02
Christina Kann 01:02
Awesome. Thank you so much, and thank you for being here. I've been a longtime listener of The Podcast Babes. I've learned so much from your show. I'm hoping that you can share a little bit with our listeners today as well.
Anne Claessen 01:14
I hope so. No pressure, right?
Christina Kann 01:17
Do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about The Podcast Babes and your other work?
Anne Claessen 01:21
Yeah, absolutely. The Podcast Babes is a podcast about podcasting. It is also a podcast management agency. I'm gonna say "podcast" like a million times in this episode.
Christina Kann 01:37
I've been listening to The Podcast Babes for a long time, and it has taught me so much about podcasting. I love how much you share parts of your own journey with your listeners. It's a wonderful podcast for anyone out there who's interested in learning more about podcasting.
Anne Claessen 01:53
Christina Kann 01:54
Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful work. Today, I want to talk specifically about authors. This is a book podcast; a lot of our listeners are authors. I want to talk about how authors can use podcasting to promote their books and make connections.
Anne Claessen 02:11
Christina Kann 02:12
First things first: why might an author want to guest on someone else's podcast?
Anne Claessen 02:18
I'm a little bit biased, but I think podcasts are awesome.
Christina Kann 02:21
Anne Claessen 02:22
The cool thing about podcasts is they are long form content. They are there every week -- or biweekly, or monthly or whatever -- but listeners of podcasts come back to that podcast over and over again for more content. They get to know the hosts pretty well. Christina, when we hopped on this call, you said, "Whoa, it's so weird to see you now because I always listen to your voice." As a listener, you get this feeling: "I know this person, and I trust this person." The cool thing is when you're guesting on someone's podcast, and they already have a relationship with the listener, you can really easily borrow this warm audience that is already there.
As the guest, that is a pretty sweet deal. You just rock out for the interview; you're usually there for maybe 30 to 60 minutes for most interviews. Then you just go about your day, and the podcaster does all the editing and all the backend work for you. It is definitely appreciated when you help share the episode -- but that is it. Right? So you can really easily borrow someone's warm audience, and I think that makes guesting on podcasts so cool. Also, it's long form content, so you can tell people a lot about your book.
Christina Kann 03:45
That's a really great point. It's a bit of a network exchange, you know? You get to go talk about yourself and your subject matter to their audience, and then in exchange, you plug their show to your audience. So it works out for everybody.
Anne Claessen 04:01
Christina Kann 04:02
Where should an author start? If they're interested in guessing on podcasts -- maybe they don't listen to a ton of podcasts, maybe they're not sure exactly what to do -- how can they find the right kinds of podcasts? Where do they begin?
Anne Claessen 04:14
I think question number one is: where does your audience hang out? The people that you want to read your book, where are they? Do they even listen to podcasts? Maybe not! That's probably not a good fit. But a lot of people nowadays do listen to podcasts. Knowing your potential reader very very well is so important in marketing in general, of course, but also when you're looking for podcasts to guest on. That actually already answers your question of which podcasts to pitch to. That's literally it. Now, I will add that usually you want to provide value to listeners. It may make sense if what you talk about aligns with the rest of the podcast. If it's a podcast about topic A and you talk about topic B, it can work, but it's easier if the whole podcast is about what you also talk about in your book. So know your audience well, or the potential audience that you want to reach, and then see how you can provide value. Value first.
Christina Kann 05:27
Yeah, absolutely. So maybe listen to some podcasts that are near your subject matter, and figure out, "Would the things I have to say fit in with what I'm already hearing?"
Anne Claessen 05:41
Yeah, absolutely. You want it to make it a win win for everyone: for the listener, for the podcaster, for yourself. It just kind of needs to make sense.
Christina Kann 05:51
Yeah, absolutely. Because otherwise, the listeners might be like, "Oh, what's this?" You know?
Anne Claessen 05:56
Yeah. And they're not going to buy your book then. I mean, if it's super random, they're probably not gonna buy your book. Maybe also the episode won't perform as well as when it is a good fit. And I also think it's gonna be a lot more difficult to get invited on a podcast.
Christina Kann 06:13
Yeah, that's very true. If the pitches don't make sense, they're not going to be fruitful.
Anne Claessen 06:18
Christina Kann 06:19
When an author finds a podcast, and they are like, "Okay, I like this podcast, I think this is my target audience, I think I would fit in nicely." What can they do to get ready to make that pitch? What do they need to do before they send the email or the DM? How can they be most prepared for that?
Anne Claessen 06:37
Know what you want to talk about. I think that is just so important. Everyone always says, listen to the podcast, research the podcast, and all that, and I don't disagree. But for me, as the person who is usually on the other side of the pitches, who just receives pitches of people who want to guest on my podcast, I love it when people are just really clear. "This is what I can talk about. This is why I think it's interesting for your audience." Maybe you even have a potential title for the episode in mind. I love that because it makes my work so much easier.
Christina Kann 07:09
Well, I'm I'm sure it helps people envision it, you know?
Anne Claessen 07:12
Yeah! True. I know exactly what I'm gonna say yes or no to. I know what to expect. I can really easily say, "Yes, that's a good fit for my audience." "No, that's not a good fit for my audience." I really love that. And I think a little bit of research about a podcast is also definitely something that you might want to do. If you just write me an email that says, "Hi there." Meh. That's like not usually the email I like to answer when they're just popping up in my inbox. If you say, "Hi, Anne!" then I'm like, "Okay, like this person, at least knows my name." Just the basics, you know? Just the basic stuff. I think you also don't have to listen to all the episodes, but just make sure that it is a good fit, or at least you think it's a good fit. Because if you just send out like 100 random emails, like, "Hey, I can speak about this topic," it's just a waste of your energy, and also of the energy of this person who's reading your email. So I would say, don't just send like a million emails out without really thinking about: is it actually a good fit?
Christina Kann 08:19
Yeah, it's quality over quantity. If you get a couple of really good pitches out, that can be so much more valuable than sending 100 stock pitches that are all the same.
Anne Claessen 08:29
A hundred percent. Yes.
Christina Kann 08:31
It seems like it's kind of on par with like preparing for a job interview, you know? You want to go in making it clear that you have looked into the company, you know what you're there to talk about. You're really going in with like a goal in mind.
Anne Claessen 08:45
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I'm not an expert in job interviews, but in a job interview, you also want to show what value you can bring to the company. When you're pitching podcasts, it's what value can you bring to the podcast?
Christina Kann 08:58
Yeah, absolutely. With all of this information that the authors have received doing their research, how do they craft the perfect pitch? How do you write a great pitch that's going to grab the podcaster's attention and really convey the value that you hope to bring?
Anne Claessen 09:14
What I really like is if the pitch is just short and sweet. I don't want to go through a really long email. It pops into my inbox, and I didn't ask for it, so you have to catch my attention immediately. The first sentence needs to be enticing, or at least like needs to say what you want from me. If it's just like, "Hey Anne, I want to come on your podcast, and I think it's a great fit, because..." then I'll probably keep reading. And also, if you say, "My name is blah, blah, blah, and I do this," that's also fine, but it needs to be really, really short because I don't want to read three paragraphs about you when I have no idea what you want from me. So you really want to keep it short. I always like it when there's bullet points or something; "These are some of the topics that I can talk about on your podcast," and then like three bullet points, maybe, or max five. Even if I scan the email, I know what you have to offer. So I think that just works really well. Yeah, I think those are my main tips: keep it short, and make sure it's easy to scan, and don't talk too much about yourself.
Christina Kann 10:24
Right. I think that probably sending a really long pitch email says to the podcaster that you might come on to their show and ramble, and say words that aren't providing value.
Anne Claessen 10:42
Yeah. I think also, when you talk about yourself a lot in your pitch -- I mean, yes, it is about you. But it's not really about you. It's more about the value you can bring. I don't know you, and honestly, I don't really care. I just want to provide really good value to my audience. That is why I do the podcast.
Christina Kann 11:04
Right. That's who you care about.
Anne Claessen 11:06
Yeah. I think it's really important to keep that in mind. Yes, I want to know a little bit of who you are, but if you just ramble on about what you do and what you accomplished -- I zone out pretty quickly when I get an email like that.
Christina Kann 11:23
Yeah, it's kind of like being a salesperson. It's not really about talking about how great this item is; it's about making the customer feel like they need this item. I feel like it's kind of the same way with podcasts pitches. It's not really about you. It's about convincing the podcaster that they need you on their feed.
Anne Claessen 11:43
Yeah, absolutely. Also, what a lot of people don't do after pitching is following up. If you don't get an answer -- not in three days, but -- if you don't have an answer after two weeks, then I would usually follow up and say, "Hey, maybe you missed my email," or "Also let me know if you're not interested. No worries," but at least I'll know then. A "no" is also a win, because then you know it's not a good fit, which is fine, and then you can move on. But yeah, you definitely want an answer, so usually I would follow up at least like five times, which sounds like a lot. You just really want a "yes" or "no." Maybe also people don't see the email. So usually, after following up two or three times, I would send a message on Instagram or on LinkedIn, on a different platform, because maybe it's the wrong email address. You know?
Christina Kann 12:39
Maybe it's the wrong email address. Maybe it's going to the spam filter. Something like that. Technology's weird. So I think trying to hit it from a different angle through social media, DMs, or something is a really strong move. "Let me know if there's a better way to get in touch with you."
Anne Claessen 12:55
Yeah, exactly. That always works really well.
Christina Kann 12:59
If an author is trying to pitch to several different podcasts -- maybe they're like, "Okay, this is the the week or the month where I'm gonna do podcast pitches" -- what's a good way for them to keep track of what they're doing, who they're reaching out to, whether they hear back?
Anne Claessen 13:14
I'm a spreadsheet girl.
Christina Kann 13:17
Anne Claessen 13:17
I have spreadsheets about everything. But definitely this. You definitely want to make sure that you know who you reached out to, where you are in the pitching process, when you want to reach out again or follow up. There is definitely a big spreadsheet involved in this work.
Christina Kann 13:35
Yes, yes, absolutely. I have a spreadsheet that I just call "Potential Guests," where I keep a spreadsheet of everyone I want to come on my podcast. I have a spreadsheet of my podcast episodes and when they're coming out. That's my life tip for everyone: get a spreadsheet for everything.
Anne Claessen 13:53
Absolutely. Yeah, I didn't do that when I started my first podcast, and it just got messy at one point. I had not really any idea where I was in my post production and also what episodes went live.
Christina Kann 14:07
It's a lot to keep track of.
Anne Claessen 14:09
Yeah, at one point, you're like 100 episodes in, and you're like, "I don't know who I spoke to." When it's like two years ago, it's becoming a problem. So yeah, definitely have spreadsheets. Another free bonus tip here: It always works really well to leverage your network that you already have. Sending cold pitches can be cool, but getting people to connect you and then sending a pitch? That works like 100 times better.
Christina Kann 14:40
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely, no matter what kind of marketing you're doing, start with your network and your networks' networks. That's the equivalent of your first connections and your second connections on LinkedIn. If somebody can connect you to someone -- a podcaster or any other kind of blogger or social media influencer -- that can really get a foot in the door for you.
Anne Claessen 15:05
Christina Kann 15:07
After they have sent their pitch, they're keeping track of it, maybe they followed up, maybe they've heard back no, maybe they've heard back yes. If you hear back yes, then you get to guest on a podcast, and that's really exciting! I think we'll probably need to do a second episode about that someday, because that's a whole nother can of worms: how to be a respectful and valuable guest on another person's podcast.
Anne Claessen 15:33
Yeah, I think there's definitely a lot to learn if you've never done that. Yeah. I learned a lot over the past three years. Having my own podcast and guesting on other people's podcasts... There are a lot of different ways that people are guests on podcast, and some are really nice to work with, and then some people are really not that nice to work with.
Christina Kann 15:55
Right. I don't know if you've had the same experience as me, but I've been podcasting for about three years now as well, and I just feel like the only way to get started in podcasting is to just start.
Anne Claessen 16:06
Christina Kann 16:07
You just have to dive right in.
Anne Claessen 16:09
Yeah, just jump. See where it ends.
Christina Kann 16:12
Exactly. Because if you wait for it to be perfect, if you wait to have all of the perfect equipment, if you wait to feel really good about it, you might never get started.
Anne Claessen 16:23
Yeah, exactly. And as a guest, usually listeners are quite forgiving with audio quality and things like that. You don't necessarily need a mic, I think, when you're casting for podcasts. It also might depend on how big the podcast is. For my podcast, I don't require guests to have a mic. If the audio is really bad, I'm gonna say like, "Sorry, but this is impossible. We're not going to do this." But if it's okay, if you just have headphones and probably not your computer mic, but an okay mic, that is already fine as a guest. That's probably what you can get away with. You don't need the whole setup if you're going to start pitching.
Christina Kann 17:10
Most of my guests that come on my podcasts who are not professional podcasters, I'm like, "Honestly, if you just pull up the voice memos on your phone and keep it close to your face, that'll be totally good enough." But you would want to speak to each individual podcaster to see if they have different requirements. But I think you're right, that a lot of people are really forgiving with the audio quality of guests, especially those guests who are not podcasters. Why would they have all of this stuff set up if they're not even a podcaster?
Anne Claessen 17:38
Christina Kann 17:38
Is there anything else that you want authors to know about looking for podcasts that guest on and pitching to those podcasts?
Anne Claessen 17:45
it can be a little bit of work to find a podcast, craft a pitch, and things like that, but at one point, you just have some pitches out and you have to follow up. You just have to do this research maybe once or every now and then, but it gets easier. Yes, it is a bit of a time investment. But you'll figure it out as you keep pitching and you keep getting answers and yeses and noes, and you can tweak the pitch as you go. That is also a reason why I wouldn't send out 100 pitches at the same time, because you want to tweak your pitch as you go. And also, this never happens, but if you got 100 yeses, then you have a problem.
Christina Kann 18:31
Wow. Yeah! How do you book that?
Anne Claessen 18:35
Christina Kann 18:36
That's terrifying, actually.
Anne Claessen 18:39
Yeah, I had someone on my team at The Podcast Babes. She pitches me to be a guest on podcasts. She has gotten so good at it that I had to ask her to stop because they couldn't fit it on my calendar anymore, which is a really good problem to have. Be mindful that you don't over pitch because it would also be annoying for the podcaster. Maybe when you pitch, they say yes, and then you're like, "Okay, cool. I'm available in four months."
Christina Kann 19:05
Right! I think maybe like if you keep your open pitches to like as many interviews as you could do within a month or something, so you don't get too ahead of yourself. Awesome. Well, Anne, thank you so much for coming on the show. I so appreciate you sharing your expertise with our listeners.
Anne Claessen 19:23
Yeah, thank you for having me. It was so exciting to be on. I didn't even know that I was the first guest, so I feel really special.
Christina Kann 19:29
We're pretty new. We're only about two months into the podcast. So we're starting our guest phase. So everyone get ready for some other cool new guests in the future. And yeah, Anne, thanks for being our first.
Anne Claessen 19:42
Christina Kann 19:44
Where can people find you on the internet? Where can they catch your podcast? Where would you like for them to connect with you?
Anne Claessen 19:50
Yeah, come to my home on the internet, www.thepodcastbabes.com.
Christina Kann 19:55
A beautiful website, by the way.
Anne Claessen 19:56
Oh, thank you! You can find everything there. You can find The Podcast Babes podcast. You can find more of what we do what we offer. We also offer podcast guest pitching services. So that is pitching you to be the guest, not to get guests but to be the guest, which can be a little bit confusing. But we can also do that for you. Like I said, it is a bit of a time investment doing all the research and getting the pitch right and everything. If you if you want to just show up for the interview and just tell your story and talk about your book and not worry about all the research and you don't have time for that, then we can do that for you. Let me know if that is something you're interested in. You can find my email address and also a link to book a discovery call on the website.
A lot of new authors, when asked for their Facebook link, send us a link to their personal Facebook profile. What we’re looking for, and what we encourage all of our authors to develop, is a professional Facebook page. Pay careful attention to the language here -- for the purposes of this blog post, we will refer to personal Facebook profiles as “profiles” and professional Facebook pages (also known as “business pages”) as “pages.”
Sure, you already have a personal Facebook profile, so why add something else onto your plate? The answer to this question is that profiles and pages are not the same. They do not serve the same purpose, and you cannot simply trade out one for another. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.
A personal Facebook profile is a great place to let your own personal audience, your friends and family, know that you have a book coming out. If you’re on Facebook personally, we certainly recommend making use of this audience. But profiles are not appropriate for professional, public author use.
For starters, unless your personal profile is “public,” your fans won’t be able to find you! The purpose of developing a Facebook presence as an author is so you can connect with fans and keep them updated about news and events. Even if your profile is “public” and fans can find you, you don’t want this kind of connection with strangers. When you accept a friend request on your personal profile, you become friends with that person in return. That means you’ll see their photos and updates in your feed, even if you have no idea who they are. They’ll also be able to see personal information that you have listed on your profile, like where you went to high school and who you’re dating -- details you may not want all your fans to know!
If you have a professional Facebook page, fans can “follow” you -- meaning, they will see the updates you post on your page, but nothing you post on your profile. You will also not see any of their updates unless they directly interact with one of your posts. This is a much more appropriate creator-fan relationship. Fans aren’t your friends, lovely though they may be, and having this boundary will benefit your personal life and your professional life at the same time.
You also cannot use your personal profile when collaborating with event venues, reviewers, or your publisher. For example, if we were to post on Facebook about one of our books, we couldn’t tag that author’s personal profile in our public post, because we are running a business page. If you were doing a book signing at Barnes and Noble, they could not tag you in their social media marketing efforts for that event. If a reviewer reviewed your book, they could not tag you in that review. It could lead to you missing some updates or even missing out on fans who would have followed you, if only they could!
Worse, someone might choose not to collaborate with you if you’re not on social media. If a reviewer posts their reviews primarily on Facebook, and you are not on Facebook, what good does that do either of you? Even if they read the book and publish the review, they’re not getting anything out of that exchange, because they aren’t getting exposed to your audience; you’re only getting exposed to their audience. That’s not a fair trade, and lots of reviewers would pass on that sort of one-sided transaction.
Furthermore, if people are searching on Facebook for “fantasy authors” or authors of your genre, you will not show up in their search if you’re only using a personal Facebook profile. In order for Facebook to categorize you in this way, you need to create a professional page and select the correct category for yourself -- in this instance, “author.”
Another benefit to having a professional Facebook page you use publicly for author purposes is that you’ll look like you know what you’re doing. If someone asks for your Facebook page in a professional setting and you send them your personal profile link, it will look like you don’t understand how Facebook works, and that would affect that person’s perception of you and your capabilities as an author. Every creator these days needs to be dedicated to learning about social media -- always learning, no matter how much you know now, because social media is always changing.
The bottom line is, your fans will expect to be able to find you in certain places. Just like they’ll expect your book to be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, they’ll expect you to have a website. They’ll expect you to be on Facebook, and possibly even Twitter or Instagram. If they can’t find you in these places, you will likely lose out on that connection, which could mean losing out on future sales or collaborations. Do yourself and your book a favor, and set up your professional Facebook page now.
by Christina Kann
Whether you call it a domain name, a URL, or a web address—you know, something like www.whateverforever.com (incidentally a silly clothing line)—choosing one is almost as hard as choosing your child’s name. Your domain name is so important and will be used in so many places that it’s crucial to think carefully before committing. Moving your website from a domain you weren’t set on to a new one is a pretty involved process, so it’s better to just pick the right one in the first place!
Here are some things to consider:
by Christina Kann
You’ve written a book, you’ve agonized over edits, you’ve painstakingly written your query letter, and now—you wait. This part sucks. We get it. As Tom Petty once said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” We hope it will make you feel a little bit better to know what’s going on behind the scenes while you’re at home biting your nails.
Listen to our accompanying podcast episode!
Step 1: Intake
When you submit your manuscript through our website, it goes through our submission intake process. Your manuscript submission is received through our website form, and then the submissions editor puts your manuscript in the reader queue. You will not hear from our submissions editor unless they have a question about your submission.
Step 2: The Queue
We receive hundreds of submissions per year, and we want to make sure we give every one its due consideration. This can take some time, since we accept unsolicited submissions, or submissions without an agent. We love having this open-door policy, but it does mean that our slush pile gets big! Your submission may be hanging out in the queue for a few weeks while it waits its turn.
Step 3: Review
When it’s time, the submissions editor will send your manuscript to a reader. This reader will be trained in manuscript critique and editing so they can see both the potential of your book as well as the work it needs. This reader will also specialize in your manuscript’s genre! We wouldn’t want a children’s book editor trying to evaluate the merits of a dense, adult science fiction epic.
Your reader will review your entire manuscript, or if it’s quite long, key selections. They will then consider the craftspersonship of your manuscript, its marketability, your previous works, and other variables to make their official recommendation for your manuscript. But your submission’s fate doesn’t lie in the hands of one subjective reader; next it goes to the team.
Step 4: Team Decision
The entire acquisitions team will review your manuscript, your other submission materials, and the reader’s recommendation independently, and then they’ll come together to make a group decision that will work best for you, your manuscript, and the team.
Step 5: The Offer
Once the whole team has agreed, one of our acquisitions editors will reach out to you with our decision. This may be a traditional offer, an Emerging Authors invitation, a self-publishing offer, or an outright rejection in some rare cases.
It’s up to you what to do next!
We are so grateful for the submissions we receive, and we’re lucky to be able to review every single one, whether the author is represented by an agent or not. We understand that waiting for a publisher’s decision can be agonizing, so hopefully, understanding all that goes into this process will help encourage your patience. We can’t wait to check out your manuscript!
by Christina Kann
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Circe by Madeleine Miller
The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
You probably recognize these books, may have even read a few! And so I ask, what do they have in common? Yep, you got it—they’re all retellings of myths. And true! Look at you, smarty-pants—they were all published within the last ten years. So, why is this particular genre of fiction, myth and fairytale retellings, so hot right now?
Well, if you ask us, it all comes down to accessibility and inclusion. These retellings are an opportunity to include those voices and perspectives that were sidelined in the original mythos. They’re often written in a way that’s digestible, certainly more so than the original tales they’re based upon. In fact, you really don’t even need prior knowledge of the original myth to read these books! These retellings are actively filling a major gap in the book world, and that’s why they’re important.
Maybe you’d like to have a go at writing your own retelling. From a publisher’s perspective, here’s our advice to you:
Research, research, research!
Perhaps the source material isn’t totally crucial when reading a mythological retelling, but if you’re writing one, you better brush up! You’ll have to know all the characters and the parts they play to check off the next items on our list.
Find a voice you want to amplify.
We recommend looking for a lesser-known character in the original myth to give you some wiggle room when creating the plot of your retelling, and here’s why. We listed Ariadne at the top of this post, and while the character of Ariadne may not be at the very forefront of classic Greek mythology, she is a relatively well-known character, and therefore, Saint’s retelling ends up staying pretty close to Ariadne’s original tale. If you pick a lesser-known character, though, you’ll have more opportunity to get creative with how that character’s story comes together. To us, that just sounds like a better time for you and for your readers!
Figure out what you want to contribute to the overall narrative.
This is so, so important. After all, if you’re not adding something new and fresh to the conversation, why retell the story? It’s great that you’re exploring the perspective of a character the world hasn’t read much about, but how does that perspective impact the larger narrative of this myth and beyond? How does the perspective you’re highlighting relate to our world now? Answering these questions before you put pen to paper will focus your story and help you find your purpose.
Myths have always appealed to us, and why wouldn’t they? They’re epic tales that touch on questions and issues humans have been dealing with for thousands of years. It’s hard to believe that we’re just now, finally, getting the stories of those human characters—women and people of color—that were glossed over by the “classics.” But here we are. It’s incredibly exciting and long overdue.
And, hey, if you decide to try your hand at writing your own mythological retelling, send it our way. We’d love to see what you’ve come up with.
by Grace Ball
How Do I Book?
We'll try to find the answer to that question in our blog.