Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chat With Sophfronia Scott, "The Book Sistah"

What a chat! Sophfronia really came through tonight.

Just reading her BIO can either wear you out, or energize you. It can wear you out if you think of all she has accomplished so far, or energize you to step up and do some of those things yourself.

After attending her chat, I advise you to grab onto the energy and reach for the stars!

Here are some highlights:

Linda-Mod: Check out Sophfronia's website at: . Sophfronia's blog: .

Linda-Mod: Now to get into the topic Audrey’s itching to get into. Coaching is a field she is interested in entering. What does a book coach do?

Sophfronia: A book coach assists in the development, writing and marketing of a book. Sometimes people come to me wanting advice about a self publishing company, for instance. But when I ask them about what they're goals are for the book, they have no idea.

How can you make a decision on what company to use when you don't know what outcome you want or whether the company can give it to you. A book coach helps clarify the whole project.

Linda-Mod: How is hiring a book coach different from hiring an editor?

Sophfronia: An editor will work with you on the content of the book and help it read well. A book coach can do editing, but he or she will also coach you on the book's bigger picture. What results do you want from this book? Can we reach your target market?

How do we make this book successful? Ideally a coach will also have good resources and contacts to smooth the journey along. For instance, I'm working with a guy on his book proposal on marketing and it's really good. I feel totally confident referring this guy to my agency and I'm going to do so.

janecj333: Do you think your journalism talents (articles you wrote while at Time and etc.) helped clinch your first novel sale?

Sophfronia: If that was the case, it should have clinched it sooner!!! I went through over 20 rejections! I stopped counting somewhere! But I think it did help that I understood the media and immedately knew how to market my book. The book editor of "People" used to sit in the office next to mine. He was always buried in books!!

msQTpi: It sure is nice to know that a best seller can be rejected 20 times :) makes you feel better about your own rejections somehow.

Sophfronia: Yes, and I learned a lot from the rejections. I rewrote the entire book from what I learned. Then when it was sent out again it sold.

Linda-Mod: What we're all wanting to know: How much will book coaching cost me?

Sophfronia: A one-hour consultation is $300. I also have a VIP program where we can work on the whole book project, soup to nuts. That's $5700 for four months and $9700 for eight months.

Next week I'm launching a program that will be sort of a mastermind group for writers that will include monthly calls with industry experts and open coaching times when I'll be available that will be $37 a month. I call that The Book Sistah Inner Circle.

Audrey_S: Oh, that sounds like an excellent way to get started. :)

Sophfronia: Yes, the idea is to have many price points, because not everyone is ready for the big game yet. And that's okay.

Andrea: Can you tell us some of the things said in the rejection letters that prompted you to re-write your book?

Sophfronia: Yes about the letters. They all said they enjoyed the writing, but in vague terms they said they didn't get engaged with the story. It was variations on that theme. It really frustrated me because I knew the story wasn't perfect, but I thought an editor's job was to find that diamond in the rough and help polish it.

Sophfronia: Well that's not the way it works!!!

Linda-Mod: Where have we heard that before? LOL

Sophfronia: Fortunately, an editor at St. Martin's did make a suggest about changing the beginning, and magically, a classmate of mine called. I'd sent her my manuscript, but I hadn't heard from her in ages. She was moving and said she found these notes she had for me. I said, great! I need a new beginning. She said I have a note about that. Her note was fantastic and it gave me an idea that changed the whole present day story line. Book sold, rest is history.

luswart: You said earlier that you help people figure out their goals for their writing (correct?) How do you help people that know what their goals are for their writing?

Sophfronia: If you already know your goals, then I show you the best route for reaching them. This is a sticking point for some writers... because they have a goal, such as "make a lot of money", but they're pursuing an avenue that won't get them that. Once we have the route, we put together an action plan and implement it.

Linda-Mod: You have a CD package called "Unleash the Bestseller Within". I have my copy, but please give the rest of our chatters a glimpse of what is included in it.

Sophfronia: Oh! I'm excited about it!

It's a CD I created to help novelists with writer's block! Writer's email me all the time with questions about writer's block and the more I thought about the process of writing my novel, the more I realized I might be able to translate it so it could work for others.

It's kind of like a meditation to get you thinking about your book all the time, not just when you're at your desk. You've heard it, Linda, is that accurate?

Linda-Mod: Very. I reviewed it and it is very good.

Audrey_S: What all ways do you market? Internet only, or offline too?

Sophfronia: I do both. My biggest marketing push involved contacting book groups and telling them that if they read my book, I would come visit them and join the discussion. That worked really well.

I also did a marketing campaign in an Atlanta magazine called "Booking Matters" because I noticed several authors I liked did the same.

I also had bookmarkers with tassels that I gave away to anyone and everyone. I also did an online campaign on several websites.

I also carried my galleys wherever I went. I gave my book to Gail (Oprah's best friend), Ice-T and Hugh Jackman. You never know what might come of such things. I saw Ice-T at the car wash!

msQTpi: Sophfronia, on your, "Unleash the Bestseller Within" site, you tell us there are solutions for quite a few, common, writer problems. Could you give us just a peek at the answers to the first two frustrations mentioned? Namely...1) "Got stuck somewhere in the middle", and 2) "Is hugely frustrated because you don’t know how to get going again."

Sophfronia: The CD asks a series of questions that may or may not apply to your novel. The idea is that one of the questions will spark you if you're stuck and help you get going again. Sometimes it helps to get back to the basics. When we're stuck, we're often trying to push to create new stuff when really what we need to do is go back to thinking about what the book is about in the first place and is it doing what you originally wanted it to do? Are you telling your story? Often thinking in that way can get you back to writing.

Audrey_S: Do you recommend self-publishing? What about for fiction?

Sophfronia: I recommend that a writer choose the path that will fit their goals. If a novelist has already tried the traditional route and can't get through, then self publishing can help them build a readership. But if you want the trappings of the traditional route because of certain goals you have for yourself, then you'll keep going that way.

Easleyed: You know it's funny, but when you start talking about your work going through editors and coaches and a chain of specialists, at what point isn't it yours anymore? When does the artist lose control and it becomes work by committee?

Sophfronia: That's not it. I want for you to really know your work so that when there are more people involved, you know what advice makes sense and what to turn away. It's when you don't have a clear vision for yourself that you get into trouble with the committee. It's that idea of, if you don't stand for something, you fall for anything.

In my article in this week's newsletter I talk about genre. I talk about making a lot of decisions upfront so that no one else is trying to push you into a box.

Easleyed: It's particularly tough with a first contract and a first book

Sophfronia: Yes, it is, but you are a writer and you owe it to yourself and to your craft to know how to stand up for it. Or at least know what will be best for it. In my first book, once it was sold, the editor suggested making the main character single instead of married. The idea is knowing that "no" is an option. Sometimes it is and the young writer doesn't know that or is afraid to use it.

Keep Writing!


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