Monday 28 November 2011

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Authors nowadays seem to have to wear two hats. One for the writing process and one for the business end. An on-line presence and platform is a must. One marketing firm suggest that book promotion should be done a year before the book actually hits the shelf (real and virtual). Yikes! I’ve been perusing the on-line discussions about marketing books and ebooks, and have posted as much information as I can on Facebook to help my author colleagues with how to pimp their book. Even writing a blog is precious time away from creating an author’s bread and butter.

Here are some ideas to help with the promotion process:

·         Create a professional looking website or blog (or both)

·         Get involved with Social Networking – Facebook, Twitter, Linked etc.

·         Create a video trailer for your book and get it in front of your readers

·         Do a blog tour

·         Get reviews of your books posted on-line (preferably on your blog)

·         Podcast

·         Become a commenter and subscribe to a few blogs in your genre

Most authors dread the marketing process. It’s a tough gig if you’re not a natural born salesperson. Marketing guru Seth Godin suggests to build a media company, or join a book club with authors to help pimp each others books. Ultimately the success (or failure) of a book now falls upon the author’s shoulders one hundred per cent.

The key is to coordinate your life. Know yourself enough so that you’ll promote your book in the areas you’re strongest in, and delegate the tasks that you’re weak at.

Copyright (c) <a href=''>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Thursday 24 November 2011

Harvest Season

In the spirit of giving thanks, I just wanted to do a post that reflected how grateful I am for this past year. So much has happened since January. I went from not knowing where I was heading in my writing career, to exploring the possibility of self-publishing ebooks, to learning as much as I could about this exciting new frontier, to actually signing a contract with a publishing company who handles ebooks and paperback books.

What a roller coaster year this has been for me! Suddenly, taking off in a different route, and going down another path has led me to a place I never expected. It's taken me 15 years of the writing-submission-rejection game to reach this plateau. Now, I'm on my way to publication. I'm smiling, beaming actually. I'm also grateful. Grateful that a brand new publishing company like Musa Publishing gave me a chance and made me part of their family. And I'm grateful that I waited 15 years for them. It was worth the wait.

Happy Thanksgiving, Musa Publishing!

Monday 21 November 2011

Are You A Sprinter Or A Marathoner?

Writing is both creative and a business. Every writer knows this – or should know it. Marketing is the key to get your books in the hands of potential readers. How you do this depends on what suits you best. The following has been modified to talk about authors, but it applies to any business. Most of this information comes from a wonderful website called Copyblogger, and I urge any writer (beginner or bestseller) to check out the sage advice and tools this site has to offer.

There really are two kinds of author entrepreneurs, with two styles of working. Neither one is good or bad. Either one can be successful, and either one can go down in flames. Choose the working style that match your personality and everything in your writing business will work better. But pick the wrong style, one that doesn’t match who you are, and your writing business is going to make you miserable.

The two types of author entrepreneurs are sprinters and marathoners. And you’ve got to figure out which kind you are.

A lot of the traditional author types are sprinters. They like to work in focused bursts. They might kill themselves pulling all-nighters for 4 or 6 weeks, create a process that works and deploy it. Dean Wesley Smith is an excellent example of this kind of author. Smith works 18 hours a day so he can make money while he sleeps. Sprinting is a lot of work, because your systems have to be able to work without you — to make money while you sleep.

Marathoners, of course, take a more slow and steady pace. They show up every day. They tend to be excellent at producing quality writing in small, bite-sized pieces. They often fall prey to doing everything themselves, because they can. Bloggers are the consummate marathoners. In fact, bloggers often just keep running year after year and forget there’s such thing as a finish line. Lots of social media techniques are lousy for sprinters. Unless you’re willing to check in a couple of times a day, twitter isn’t the tool for you to find and connect with customers. Neither is Facebook. Or LinkedIn, or MySpace, or a forum. They all need the steady presence that belongs to the marathoner.

So which one are you? Most of us aren’t pure marathoners or pure sprinters. We’re hybrids.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Authors In The Limelight: Stephanie Campbell

I want to thank and welcome, Stephanie Campbell for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, Dragon Night, will be released through Musa Publishing, Friday, November 18th, and will be available at your favorite on-line bookstore, including Musa Publishing.

How long have you been writing, Stephanie?
It feels like it’s been forever—in the best possible way, that is. I wrote my first story when I was six. It was during “pig week” at elementary school. My librarian put the story up there with all the published books for the other kids to read. You can imagine how proud that made me feel as a little kid.

When I turned twelve, I was really into fan fiction. I was terrible. (No, I really was.) I had no idea about grammar and all that other stuff. I wrote five hundred pages worth of fan fiction—twelve stories—and got plenty of criticism. But every story I got better and better.

When I was fifteen my sister read one of my essays and told me that I should read a book. I shrugged my shoulders. That was when one of my essays on eating disorders in young adults got an award in a writing competition. After that, I started writing Until We Meet Again.

The rest is history. Until We Meet Again was released the day of my high school graduation. The book is five hundred pages long.

 Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Dragon Night?
Honestly, I don’t really know…I’m very much a serial writer. I sit down and things happen. In fact, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m the one doing it. I see and feel my stories so much that they write themselves. Once the book is done, I feel like it’s my child. *Laughs.* Yes, I “made” it, but it’s its own entity, but it is no longer mine. It belongs to the person reading it, because every person will take Dragon Night differently. That is one of the reasons why I think that books are so beautiful—same book, different visions.

What sets Dragon Night apart from other books in the same genre?
Oh dear. Query letter flashback. *Laughs.* I try to humanize my fantasies. I love my characters. I feel that’s what makes the story different. It isn’t just a fantasy for the sake of it—it’s about a boy learning to grow up, and it’s about someone who’s different. Adolescence is one of the most beautiful and hard time of someone’s life. It is the time that decides what you will become. It is so, SO important. That is why Dragon Night is special—it addresses that.

As an author, Stephanie, what is your writing process?
I never take a break between books. I’ve done the same thing for the past five years. I start one manuscript and write six pages a day, I edit twenty pages of another manuscript, and I publicize another. When the writing stage is done, I will leave the book alone for at least three months. I will edit a book three times before I send it to a publisher. (I like three. Can you tell?)

How long did it take for you to start and finish Dragon Night?
Not long. Dragon Night wrote itself. In fact, Ford was so ready to get out there that he blasted himself upon the page. *Snickers.*

No, but seriously, Dragon Night was very natural for me. It was one of my favorite books to write to date.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Stephanie?

Yes. Don’t ever, ever give up. Also, don’t let criticism get you down. It’s a test of grit out there. I’ve had many people tell me to give it up, some of which were my “friends.” I believe that writers are made through hard work. If you want to be one, then make yourself one. There is no other way to approach something that you love.

That’s great advice – it took me 15 years of not giving up or getting down! So, what’s next for Stephanie Campbell the author?

Lots! Actually, Dragon Night is one of many books that are being released. Right now I’m publicizing my book, Poachers, and am doing book tours to local schools. At the end of November, I’m also releasing another book, P.S. I Killed My Mother. Here’s to hoping for big things!

You dream bigger, you get bigger! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I’m going to approach this honestly, even though it might end up biting me later. I would want to travel back to meet Jesus. I’m very influenced by religion and spirituality. I believe that Jesus is one of the most influential beings in history.

Monday 14 November 2011

Attitude Is A Choice

I get e-mails from BobProctor. I wanted to share a tidbit with you, as I feel it’s worth repeating:

‘Victor Frankl once wrote, "Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitudes in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Frankl was right. Attitude is a choice. You could be faced with a thousand problems, many or most over which you have absolutely no control. However, there is always one thing you are in complete and absolute control of and that is your own attitude.

When you surrender control of your attitude to what appears to be a negative situation, you will react to that situation. More often than not, reacting is inappropriate. On the other hand, if you were to remain objective, you would respond to the situation appropriately, thereby creating a winning situation.’

Bob is right. But, as a writer, how do you apply this idea to a character? I guess that depends on exactly who the character is and what he or she wants. A protagonist will have different goals and will react differently than an antagonist in the same situation. A character’s attitude can change throughout the story, but underneath everything, it’s his or her true nature that will shine through, and allow the reader to connect or disconnect, approve or disapprove with that character.

Attitude is what makes or breaks great characters. To put your character in a seemingly impossible situation, and seeing how they either react or respond is the stuff of wonderful storytelling. There’s always a way to rise above, as long as you have a positive attitude.

Remember: Act as if it were impossible to fail – Dorothea Brand

Thursday 10 November 2011

One Size Does Not Fit All!

There’s a wonderful book I think all parents should read. It’s called ‘The Element’ by KenRobinson. The tagline reads: How finding your passion changes everything. As a writer, I can tell you that’s 100% true. Mr. Robertson writes in his book introduction, ‘I believe passionately that we all are born with tremendous natural capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world. Ironically, one of the main reasons this happens is education. The result is that too many people never connect with their true talents and therefore don’t know what they’re really capable of achieving. In a sense they don’t know who they really are.’

Now that’s just sad. Sad, but true. When I was growing up, the academic subjects were everything. The be all and end all. I suspect they still are. You needed math, reading and writing to get somewhere in this world. Pile on the different types of science (biology, chemistry and physics) add history, geography and a language or two, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded student. But hey, what about the arts? And the trades? Don’t they count? Aren’t they important? Apparently, it seems not. It is my hope that this upcoming generation will change the way schools teach our kids because I have learnt through experience that one size does not fit all.

‘The Element’ is the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion. You find that one thing you love to do, and in doing it you feel like your most authentic self. It took me years to find mine, but I found it – and now I’m enjoying my second childhood writing books.

Monday 7 November 2011

Seven Steps To Success

I want to thank BrianTracy for listing this powerful seven step formula that you can use to set and achieve your goals for the rest of your life. It absolutely works, and I’ve applied this formula when it comes time to sit down a write or revise a book. Every single successful person uses this formula or some variation of this formula to achieve vastly more than the average person. Here it is:

Decide What You Want: Step number one, decide exactly what it is you want in each part of your life. Become a "meaningful specific" rather than a "wandering generality."

Write it Down: Second, write it down, clearly and in detail. Always think on paper. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.

Set A Deadline: Third, set a deadline for your goal. A deadline acts as a "forcing system" in your subconscious mind. It motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true. If it is a big enough goal, set sub-deadlines as well. Don't leave this to chance.

Make A List: Fourth, make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. When you think of new tasks and activities, write them on your list until your list is complete.

Organize Your List: Fifth, organize your list into a plan. Decide what you will have to do first and what you will have to do second. Decide what is more important and what is less important. And then write out your plan on paper, the same way you would develop a blueprint to build your dream house.

Take Action: The sixth step is for you to take action on your plan. Do something. Do anything. But get busy. Get going.

Do Something Every Day: Do something every single day that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment. Develop the discipline of doing something 365 days each year that is moving you forward. You will be absolutely astonished at how much you accomplish when you utilize this formula in your life every single day.