Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: 'Don't I Know You?'





Don't I Know You?
by Terry Burns



Most people liked Larry Smith on sight. Actually, most thought they new him, with his nondescript face and features. This worked to his advantage and disadvantage, enough that he found himself facing murder charges for killing a local judge's brother. Good luck with justice in a small Texas town where everyone knows everyone's else's business and they take 'speedy trial' to a new level. 

Terry Burns takes us into the Old West, where cattle rustlers get hanged on the spot, or a man can find himself a nice little spread and settle down. Woven into the story are similes and metaphors that spice up the tome like a good lathering of barbecue sauce:

“His eyes came up and saw Jake and Larry. They went as cold as a pistol left laying in a snow bank.”

“Not me, man, I’d sooner try to put a saddle on a panther than tangle with the Rafter T.”

“I dang near got acquainted with the business end of Billy the Kid’s shooting irons, and didn’t even know it. That’s about as close to pulling up the old dirt covers as I’ve ever been. Old Larry pulled my fat outta the fire for sure.”

Larry's a great guy, a cowboy trying to make his place in Texas, and finds himself in numerous situations with people who recognize him- or think they do. Miss Mandy, for instance, gets escorted to her uncle's place by Larry because he's a gentleman. Of course, when another recognizes him as a cattle rustler, Larry finds himself wearing a woven hemp necktie and comes close to 'pulling up the dirt covers' himself.

But he uses his familiarity to get places. And people, even after realizing they don't recognize him, perceive his integrity and he finds himself deep in the land of politics, as the country struggles to manage itself during it's explosive growth. 

Burns does a great job of showing us the day when men took the law into their own hands and ladies struggled to make a household in the wilderness. The reader can smell the leather of the saddles and the trail dust as he takes him out in the country, where people are real- real honest, real mean, and real workers. 

Part Western, part suspense and a bit of love story, 'Don't I Know You?' is woven together to make a great read. It's as good as a June Bug on a cactus bloom. Okay, I better leave the metaphors to Terry. 
 
 












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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Indie Pub Part 2

Our last discussion focused essentially on the changes in the publishing world that have led to the Indie Pub Revolution. This time I want to start focusing on the nuts and bolts of publishing your book indepedently.

Preparing Your Book
So assuming you want to do this, now the question is how do you get your book ready for publication? It’s tempting, once you’ve finished a book, to want immediately to get it into the hands of readers—whether that’s by submitting it to a publishing house or an agent, or to release it independently.
The best course of action, however, is to stick it in a drawer for a while. Seriously. Put it down and walk away. Do something else. Plant a garden. Read a book. Go on a vacation. Whatever. Get some distance between you and your work. Take a week or a month or however long you need in order to come back to your manuscript again with a fresh pair of eyes. You need to see your book not through your writer glasses, but through your reader glasses, and it can take some time before you can successfully take off one pair of glasses and put on the other.

Edit, Edit, Edit!

What you must do at this point is edit your work. No book deserves to be published that has not had the stuffing edited out of it.
On a recent broadcast celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the publication of William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel, The Exorcist, the author gave an interview where he discussed the impact of the book since its publication, and he described a moment when he was sitting in a motel room recording the audio version of the book, several years later, and at one point he stopped the recording and said, to the amusement of all in the room, “Who wrote this crap?”
Edit, edit, edit. You want to ensure that your readers have the best possible experience of your book and of you as a writer. Your book may be the first impression someone forms of you as a writer, and you want them to come back and buy more of your books and recommend you to their friends.
True, editing delays the publication process, but learning patience is learning a significant skill that will aid your future success.
Once you’ve edited your book to the point where you and your critique partners are fully satisfied, you’re ready to format your book for publication.

Formatting

There are different standards for formatting a book. Print and electronic are not the same, and there are differences between one e-reader and another.

            Formatting for Print

One of the concerns for print is pagination. This is the general look or “feel” for the page. If you examine printed books, you will notice several variations in how they are laid out. There is no hard and fast rules for pagination, but there are some guiding principles that can make your book look “professional,” (which is what you want).
Choose a readable font. There are three kinds of fonts: serif, sans serif, and script. Serif fonts have a little “wedge” called a “serif” at the ends of the letters. Times New Roman is the standard example, and this is the most common kind of font used for print. Other good examples include Garamond and Book Antiqua.
Sans serif fonts (like Arial or Calibri) have no “wedge,” in their letters. These are more commonly used for electronic media. Script fonts are designed to look like handwriting or calligraphy. You should use no more than two different fonts in your print matter, alternating serif and sans serif for text and titles.
Once you have your font choice, next choose a suitable font size. 12 point Times New Roman is considered a “normal size” font, so choose something similar. Your line spacing should be no less than 1 line and no more than 1.2 lines, with no space after the paragraph. Indent each paragraph at least 0.3 inches to 0.5 inches.
It is also typical to justify the margins, so that each line of a paragraph, with the exception of the last line and the indent on the first line extend to the full margin on the left and the right sides of the page. Sometimes, you’ll find that the paragraph justification will either radically condense or expand a line in a way that is unpleasant. You can adjust this by selecting the line of text and either expanding or condensing the character spacing for the font manually by as much as .3 (any more than this and you risk making the line illegible yourself.).
To properly set up your page, choose the size paper you expect to print to, and leave at least a .33 inch margin on the left and the right, with no more than .5 inches. The top and bottom margins should be a little larger, up to an inch for larger books. In the page set up window, set your page for multiple pages with mirror margins, and leave .25 inches in the gutter. This will give you room for the binding of the book, and it will assemble correctly on the left and the right pages.
Your first chapter should start on the right facing page. Some books start each new chapter also on the right facing page, though doing so may increase your page count, and thus your cost. You can use manual page breaks (CTRL + Enter) to start a new page.
Page numbers can be included at the top or the bottom, and are either centered or are at the outside edge of the print margin. It’s also common practice to include the author’s name and the name of the book or the name of the current chapter, in the header of the page, though the first page of each chapter usually has no header information. Section breaks allow you to create separate headers for each chapter.

            Formatting For Electronic

When it comes to e-books, none of what I’ve just gone over matters. E-books have no pages, so pagination for an e-book is markedly different, unless the e-book is a pdf. Portable Document Format is designed to look like an electronic version of a printed document.
Most e-books do not have header or footer information, contain no page numbers, and do not have page or section breaks between them. A new chapter usually begins with the word “Chapter” and is followed by a numeral rather than a spelled out number. This makes it possible for some e-readers to easily navigate to a chapter from the main screen of the e-reader (Kindle doesn’t require this).
It is necessary, for your book to be available in the broadest cross-section of e-readers, that your book be formatted in multiple file types. These e-reader file types include:
·         .mobi – Used for Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle apps.
·         .Epub – Used for Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, and others.
·         .pdf – Good for reading on PC, or for home printing.
·         .rtf – Readable on most word processors.
·         .lrf – Used by older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub.
·         .pdb – Palm Doc Pub for Palm reading devices
·         .HTML – for viewing in a web-browser
·         Plain text for straight downloading and viewing a book as a web page.

You can, of course, format in all of these versions yourself, but I highly recommend Smashwords for this function. The “Meatgrinder” software engine they employ will successfully convert a Microsoft Word document into the various formats for publication. Smashwords has a free “style guide” you can download to be sure your book is formatted correctly for these formats. Meatgrinder tends to work better with earlier versions of Word. Microsoft Word likes to add a lot of extraneous data to its files, so it may be necessary to save your work to an earlier format to eliminate some of these options (such as smart tags, which display an address or a stock quote or other data based on text in your document).
I also recommend uploading your book to Amazon’s Kindle separate from Smashwords (and at least three months prior to Smashwords, which we’ll get into later).
If you include images in your book, be sure their resolution is no less than 300 dpi (dots per inch). This will prevent them from looking “pixilated” in print. 300 dpi is also sufficient for most e-readers. You can go “hi-def” with 1080p if you want, but this may cause your book to become too large to effectively download. Smashwords allows for a maximum of 5 megabytes per book, so hi-resolution images can prevent you from publishing. If necessary, you can compress your images to save space. Word has a very effective image compression function you can use.
To correctly insert an image into an ebook, you’ll need to set the image to center and lay it out in line with the text. This will fix your image in place so your text doesn't wrap unpredictably around the image.

Front and End Matter

Lastly, you need to concern yourself with the front and end matter of the book. This includes the necessary copyright information and ISBN number that identifies the book as belonging to you. Most independent publishing outfits will give you a free ISBN number, though you can purchase your own. You cannot use the same ISBN for different versions of the book, so print and electronic have to have their own numbers. Kindle uses a different identifier called an ASIN, and this does not need to be included in the book itself.
It is not necessary to “register” your book with the copyright office, though there’s no harm in doing so. Simply supplying the title of the work, your name, and the year with the © copyright symbol is enough to make the book your own.
I also recommend including a “disclaimer” in the front of the book. It should say something like,
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.  The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

You can include an author’s note describing, briefly, your experience writing the book or your reasons for writing it. A page of acknowledgements and dedication is typically found the front as well. If the author’s note is more than a page, you might want to consider putting it in the back of at least the electronic version, so that you don’t keep the reader bogged down in text that isn’t the real story. Also, given that many e-book sellers allow for sampling (typically 20-25%), you want to be sure your potential readers get hooked on the book itself, instead of spending their time reading extraneous material.
If you have any noteworthy comments or praises from your critique partners or beta readers, you can include those in the front matter as well.
I also recommend including a sample of other books in the back end, along with cover images (if you have them) and “where to buy” information. Every book should have a sales plug for every other book you write. Each time you write something new, you can update the previous books with the new sales information, so that future readers have the opportunity to be exposed to more of your material. Be sure to include contact information as well (such as a web address, blog, Twitter handle, Facebook page, etc.). Do not include your personal address or phone number.

NEXT UP: MAKING AN EYE-CATCHING COVER
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Feinblum: "Promote - or Perish!"


Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer for Media Connect in New York, is one of my connections on LinkedIn. Soon after linking with me, he sent a direct message that caught my attention and had me writing his name on my "to hire" list if I ever get an advance big enough not to snicker at. The man knows what he's doing.

He has been in book publishing, public relations, and marketing for over two decades, the last thirteen years at Media Connect, formerly Planned Television Arts (PTA), the nation's largest and oldest book promoters. He’s also a published author and a blogger. He shares his wisdom on his site BookMarketingBuzzBlog, but I found this post informative and important enough to reprint here.

Battle for Book Sales Beyond Amazon

The marketplace for books - whether print, digital, or audio - is clearly owned by Amazon. They account for 27% of total units sold, as of October 1, 2012, according to RR Bowker. They improved from 21% a year earlier. Barnes & Noble declined to 16%, down from 17%. But after these two retailers, no single company scored in the double digits. In fact, no single category of sales channel hit double digits. Here's how the rest of the book marketplace breaks down:

·         All independent bookstores, combined, account for only 6% of units sold
·         Other e-book and audio download sites equal 6%
·         Other ecommerce sites account for 6%
·         All book clubs account for 5%
·         Discount, closeout and thrift stores equal 5%
·         Walmart - 4%
·         Non-traditional bookstores - 3%
·         Warehouse clubs - 3%
·         Christian bookstores - 2%
·         Target - 2%
·         Books-A-Million - 2%
·         Supermarkets - 1%
·         All other means = 12%

The book marketing battlefield runs beyond bookstores or e-commerce sites. Books are everywhere and nowhere. But however they are sold, there is no doubt that sales will always be driven by savvy book marketing and the garnering of news media coverage. Word of mouth makes a big difference but only once there is a critical mass of interest that builds up form marketing exposure. Publishers and authors will continue to identify their target readers, sell their books everywhere in every form, and market to their core readers.

Promote - or perish!

~~~~~
If you're ready to get serious about book promotion, you can contact Brian:

Brian Feinblum
Chief Marketing Officer
Senior Vice President
MEDIA CONNECT301 East 57th Street, 4th floor
New York, New York 10022
Phone: 212-583-2718
Fax: 866-628-6116
brianf@finnpartners.com
www.Media-Connect.com

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Ressurect

by

David E. Stevens

Commander Josh Logan is dead. Piloting his powerless burning jet fighter away from a town, he ejected too late. But from a voice that only he hears, he is offered a new life with a mission to save the earth from collision with a comet two years hence. He wakes in a hospital with enhanced abilities but with no name, no identity, and no funds. From this start, aided only by a faithful nurse and a mysterious voice that answers his questions with other questions, he must persuade elements of government and industry to build a weapon powerful enough to deflect the comet.
His problems are immense. How does a person with no identity gain a security clearance? How does he launch a super-secret billion-dollar project when he has no funds? How does he divert the nation’s best minds from their own priority work to support his project? And how long can he keep the project advancing without jealous managers of other projects discovering it and blowing its cover? In David E. Stevens’ skillful development, the novel proceeds step by step from one danger to another to reach a fitting climax.
Yet the book is no ordinary thriller. It is populated by a variety of interesting characters with lifelike concerns. In a rare and subtle authorial feat, Stevens gives his hero thought patterns that accurately reflect those of men who have experienced combat.
Stevens also infuses the novel with scientific and philosophical depth, but he does so without slowing the narrative. From time to time he presents the reader with concepts from philosophy and quantum physics, but he does so in terms that are readily understood. And, still keeping the narrative readable, he explores the boundaries between physics and metaphysics. Astute readers will also find added depth in the names of his characters.
This novel is one of the most readable and rewarding works of fiction that I have ever read. And the best news of all is that it is the first novel of a trilogy. I look forward to the pleasure of reading its sequels.

About the author:

Commander David E Stevens, a Navy Commander and F-18 pilot, is a self-professed adrenaline junky who loves science and technology. He holds engineering degrees from Cornell and The University of Michigan, with graduate work in human factors and astrophysics. During the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Dave served as the Navy Strike Operations Officer for the Persian Gulf. He also test-piloted new fighters, received an aviation patent, and with a Top Secret clearance, led classified defense programs.

Review by Donn Taylor, author of Deadly Additive, The Lazarus File, etc.
 


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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Effective News Release


The Effective News Release

By David J. Rank

I’ve worked in journalism going on forty years now as both writer and editor for newspapers and magazines. I can honestly say thousands of news releases have crossed my desk over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me how poorly done most of them are, even many sent out by polished writers, marketers, and PR pros. They miss promotional opportunities because they fail to remember three basic principals.

  1. Never forget your audience, who you need to impress with your news release–the editors who decide if your news release will see the light of publication. What does that editor need to interest his or her readership?
  2. Provide an editor with reasons why your news release would be of interest to his or her readers.
  3. Compose the news release in a functional format an editor can easily use. A news release is a tool, not a work of art. The point is to get the information it contains into print and generate follow up interest. Do not expect your news release to be published verbatim.

Here are six tips to compose an effective news release:

  1. A news release has two purposes: a) To get the basic information into print; b) to interest an editor into generating more copy about the subject matter, a feature article on the author, perhaps, or coverage of the event you are promoting.
  2. A news release should be written in third person, not first. A is doing B at C, etc. That can easily be transferred into a publication. Something written as “I will be appearing at someplace with my new novel on…” will need a rewrite which an editor may or may not have time to do. You don’t want your news release ending up in the editor’s To Do When I find the Time pile.
  3. Make sure you have all the facts stated clearly: What are you promoting, who are you promoting, where is it happening, when is it happening, and why anyone should care. The why is rather tricky and should be tailored to each publication you are contacting. And always provide contact information to encourage follow up.
  4. Research the editors/publications you are contacting. Know what they are looking for and make sure your news release fulfills those needs. For example, if you are contacting a local newspaper, make sure you mention a “local” reason why that paper should publish the information you are providing. What is the local connection?
  5. State the facts clearly: Jane Doe will be signing her new book “I’m Finally Published” at the Plenty of Books store in This City from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 20. And so on.
  6. Attribute statements of opinion as direct quotes from a named person. Instead of writing “Jane Doe will be signing her marvelous and exciting new book ‘I’m Finally Published’ at the Plenty of Books store in This City from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 20” write an additional sentence like this: “Jane Doe has written a marvelous and exciting new book,” said Owen Owner of Plenty of Books. Using attributes like that are the best way to get more promotional material through the editorial filter and into print.

Here’s an example on how to format a news release to promote the release of a new book.

CURRENT DATE

Contact information: Lisa Lickel, (phone number), lisalickel@yahoo.com

Local author publishes second book in mystery series

WEST BEND, Wis. – Local novelist Lisa Lickel has published her second book in her popular Buried Treasure Series. The Map Quilt is a sweet romantic, cozy mystery like Lisa’s first book in the series, The Gold Standard,” said MuseItUp Publication’s editor Anne Duguid.

The Map Quilt is now available online and will soon be out in paperback, Lickel said.

“Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville, the new home of my protagonist, school teacher Judy Wingate,” Lickel said. “The story revolves around a stolen innovative new battery, a long-buried skeleton, and an old quilt that contains its own secrets. Judy and her husband Hart unravel the murder of Hart’s boss and how Judy’s ancestors were once part of the Underground Railroad.

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a 160-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes mystery and romance novels, all with a touch of grace.

She also edits, writes book reviews and interviews, and has penned dozens of short stories, magazine articles, feature stories for newspapers, and radio theater scripts. She is editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin, the literary magazine of the Wisconsin Writers Association, and of Other Sheep, a Christian science fiction and fantasy magazine.

Her website is LisaLickel.com.
 
About Dave Rank:
A working journalist in Wisconsin for 39 years, David J. Rank writes for and has edited newspapers, magazines, books, and corporate publications. He’s also sold or placed freelance articles and news releases in trade, regional and national publications. Vice president of the Wisconsin Writers Association and active in local writing groups, Rank has had more than 25 short stories published online and in regional literary publications.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Then Than


The more I read in books and blogs the more I see the misuse of the word than. I’m sure it could be a typo on some occasions but the prevalence of this mistake makes me think the understanding of when to use than or then needs to be reviewed.

Than is used for a comparison. This book is longer than that one. It is cloudier today than it was yesterday.

Then is used for sequences or consequences. We are familiar with if/then simple sentences. 

The problem seems to come when it isn’t a straight if/then sentence then the error occurs more often. In reading the preceding sentence it becomes apparent, hopefully, that it is an if/then. The word if isn’t used but if we dissect it a little we can see the if/then structure.

The problem seems to come when it isn’t a straight if/then sentence then the error occurs more often.

When Bobby gets here then we will go.

Being able to replace when with if shows this is and if/then type of sentence.   This isn’t a comparison it’s a cause-effect, a consequence. 

These are simple ways to help decide which to use; then or than.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crafting With Care




Flashlight in hand, I stumbled to the room where that dreaded apparatus dwelt—the elliptical. It was early on a Sunday—before the dogs awoke, before the sun came up, before my muscles could object. Pushing the lever on the CD player (yes, I still use one), the lilting Celtic melodies stirred my enthusiasm up perhaps half a notch. Let’s face it. At 5 a.m., it’s tough to get excited about exercising.

As the strains of the hammered dulcimer helped my pumping legs and arms get into a steady pace, I forgot about the work and began to focus on the quilt in the corner. My daughter, Bethany’s, quilt.

It was a gift from her college friends, lovingly pieced together after her diagnosis of a terminal brain tumor. One of her friends sent out the word: Make a special quilt square and I will piece them together. And what a work of art their combined efforts became.

During my workout, I visually embraced the variety of squares that spoke of the talent and personality of each pal. One quoted Zephaniah 3:17: He will quiet you with His love. Carolyn, an artist, drew a beautiful Madonna holding the infant Jesus and wrote, “May Christ hold you in His arms as this mother must have held Him.” Kathryn sewed a tea pot design (Bethany loved tea) and stitched 2 Corinthians 13: Praise be to the God of all comfort who comforts us all in our troubles.

Other squares were embedded with photos of better, healthier times. Some had private jokes that made me shake my head. ;-) Others were just a sweet design, meant to cheer my daughter with the love of the seamstress.

They all had one thing in common: each square was formed with fondness. They were then connected through the skill of the quilter into the final, breath-taking product—an heirloom to treasure.

As I thought of the care that went into each stitch, I thought of the words that create my stories. Is every syllable, every phrase, every creative thought, fabricated into a design worthy of an heirloom?

Looking at my book shelves, I can find many a literary treasure: Pilgrim’s Progress; Moby Dick; Jane Eyre. While the writing style of their day has changed in modern times, the carefully constructed threads of story, analogy, and words that capture our imagination make these missives stand out. Each paragraph, each description is lovingly knitted together to create a masterpiece whose value spans the decades.

Much like Bethany’s quilt that will always remain a part of our family, books of intricate design wrought with love will hold their value, long after the writer’s hand has ceased.

If only my words could form into a piece of art and capture the essence of a finely sewn quilt!

Bethany’s friends poured their hearts into this gift for her. Their love and hard work made it the beautiful creation that it is.

I strive to pour every ounce of my creative being—along with a heaping dose of emotion and affection for the story—to fashion a work that will, hopefully, be a gift to my readers. Rather than focusing on my word count, I pray that I can make every word, count.


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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Business of Writing I


Investing in Yourself


A fellow writer sent an email to me and recommended a web-based marketing training program. I checked it out. Twenty dollars a month. I passed. 
What? I've purchased construction equipment for over a hundred thousand dollars, bought investment houses and I'm balking on a paltry twenty bucks a month? That's the life of a writer. 

Why are we so cheap? There are a number of reasons:

1.) The payoff is distant to invisible. When will the conference pay off in book sales and paychecks? The answer is nebulous. It's difficult to part with money with an uncertain return.
2.) The payoff is paltry. I understand the average writer makes around $5k a year. Is the money spent on a killer website worth it?
3.) Writers aren't entrepreneurs. They are risk adverse. All the risks occur in their stories. 
4.) Writers don't need the money. It's true, they have a spouse bringing in the cash, have a paying job, or are retired with some income. Seriously, they aren't hungry. 
5.) Writers aren't capitalists. Most write to make a statement, influence peoples' lives, or want the fame of being a 'published author' and it's good enough.

What should we do? We need to change our minds. First, do you call yourself a writer, do you believe you're a writer? If you don't then no one else will either. 

Just like businesses have budgets, you should too. How much should you spend a year on your writing career?  Only you can answer that, but it should be significant enough to aggressively move your writing career toward success while not being a burden to your budget or family. 

We need to invest in ourselves. What's your weakness? Writing skills? Take community college writing classes. Marketing? Invest in a website or blog. Connecting? Sign up for a conference. If you have a Phd in English, then you probably don't need to focus on education. What about your website or blog? Probably a good move would be to prop up your weakness. Perhaps you've procrastinated on attending a conference until you're completely ready. Even if you're not ready to pitch your book, you can take numerous classes, meet and connect with people, and perhaps find someone who could listen to your pitch of your book. Maybe it's time to overcome fears and join a writer's group. 

Another aspect of changing our minds is to consider the money spent as money invested. Sometimes entrepreneurs will pour money into an investment for years before seeing returns. And since they are risk takers, they also invest with the daunting specter of getting nothing in return. Are you willing to take a risk on yourself? And are you willing enough to consider investing in yourself, even if there's a chance there's no return? 

Perhaps I'll take my own advice and invest in the web-based marketing program. What's the worst that could happen? I'm out twenty bucks a month.  



Another aspect of changing our minds is to consider the money spent as money invested. Sometimes entrepreneurs will pour money into an investment for years before seeing returns. And since they are risk takers, they also invest with the daunting specter of getting nothing in return. Are you willing to take a risk on yourself? And are you willing enough to consider investing in yourself, even if there's a chance there's no return? 

Perhaps I'll take my own advice and invest in the web-based marketing program. What's the worst that could happen? I'm out twenty bucks a month. 

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Book Review: Staci Stallings' Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy




c. February 2013
Spirit Light Publishing
The Indie Author’s Ultimate Guide series
$4.99 eBook
Product Details
 
Quit panicking and start learning!


Staci Stallings had to learn marketing basics the hard way, and wants to help others get from Point A (publication-whoo-hoo!) to Point B (being read—the real goal of an author) with the least amount of stumbling in the dark.

 
How can you not love a gift like that?


This short 70-page e-book will become a baby author’s new BFF in short order. Set up like a workshop of fifteen-minute lessons, Keys promises only to teach an author, not automatic over-night success. In fact, Stallings warns several times that learning to market is a process, and a slow one at that. Building trust takes time and effort, but it can be done. I love Staci’s goal: not only should I become a better marketer, I will be able to turn around and share the strategy with others.


The pre-advice alone is valuable: Besides, put out a Great book and Get a great cover, Get some good reviews right away. I made the mistake of not doing this when I attempted my first-ever electronic short story: Get those reviews set up early, because you’re going to get blasted by people who have way too much time on their hands and vitriol in their veins. They will lie in their reviews and be as nasty as possible. Having a load of honestly good ones ready to go will help sales.


Stallings shares not only great easy tips, but examples of how to do this in each section, from creating an online presence, how to act online, building a great landing page, and keeping the momentum going. Each segment of pithy advice is concise and powerful. Each lesson has a goal, from think (about the covered concept; e.g., how to reel in your readers) to examine (the covered topic; e.g., the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy to reach your audience), to put some effort into getting reviews. Stallings includes a list of review sites, and shows you how to use them to the optimum effect.


Even a little paid advertising can be useful. Realize that being an author means learning about a lot of things you might never have considered “writing,” such as working with technology. If you’re not much of a grammarian, you hire an editor; if you’re not a tekkie, hire someone who is.


Some advice I can live with:

Don’t talk about yourself
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Don’t try to do it alone


Finally, Stallings advises the reader not to sit around, whining in fear, but to take a step in the direction of your dreams.

 
Packed with illustrations and easy to follow examples, the lessons in Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy are sure to meet your needs somewhere, sometime. Keep this book handy; you’ll refer to it often.

 
A matching book, How to Prepare, Launch, and Run aSuccessful KDPSelect Free-Day Campaign, will prove helpful to the Indie author’s arsenal.

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