Friday, October 29, 2021

Are You Making These 3 Common Writing/Marketing Mistakes?

We all make them. If we didn't, we wouldn't be human. But these 3 take the cake.

One: We believe that we can edit our own work. Sure, we can and should do the preliminary editing, but getting an editor to go over the final is a MUST. Can't afford an editor? Get someone (or multiple 'someones') to read over your work. I have used English teachers, friends with high editing skills, and other authors. Some editors see the small stuff like commas and periods. Others see the big picture and can find mistakes in your setting or plot, for example.

Two: We believe everyone will love our work and market to everyone instead of funneling our energy to those who like what we write. How do we find out who enjoys our work? Those who sign up for our newsletter will give us a great start. They subscribe because they like what we have to say, and they like what we have to write. 

Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

Three: Finally, we don't step up. We think we'll sell books just because they're in the bookstores or online at Amazon. It is estimated that 1.4 million self-published books (the number has more than likely increased since 2019) currently inhabit the book arena at Amazon? How will yours stand out? What will you do to promote your book? This is probably the toughest one of all. Getting seen. Getting known. But we have to do something. For a few months, I quit writing on my blog thinking it really didn't matter. It did. My readership, which had dropped to almost nothing, is reading again because I am taking the time to write something like this post.

It's up to writers, not publishers or readers, to have an edited book, to promote to the right readers, and to step up about their books. Sure, publishers and readers assist us in a big way, but it's up to us to get the book out there in the first place.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Five Tips For New Writers

Short but true:

Don't expect instant success.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Write every day, yes, even when you don't feel like it.

Photo by Jan Kah├ínek on Unsplash

Take advice from others, but don't let it keep you from writing.

Photo by Nadir sYzYgY on Unsplash

Write what you love, but try new things.

Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

Never guess. I mean it. Research is almost as important as your next breath.

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Best Tip EVER for WRITERS!

You probably know it. And the answer isn't reading a lot, or making sure your grammar is perfect, or even having a professional editor edit your work.

The answer is

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This is a tough one for most of us. You've probably heard about the wishful writer. "I really want to write a book." And then, the next year you see them and they say, "I really need to write that book." And the next year...

Other writers put off writing because they are too busy. They treat writing as a hobby - maybe even below a hobby if that's possible. "I will write when I'm not working full-time." "I will write tomorrow." I will write...

"I'm not really good. Who will read my stuff?" You're 'write' of course. You will never be any good unless you write. And you are also 'write' that most people won't read your stuff in the beginning, but a few will, and as you continue to write that list will grow.

Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

"I want to write but I don't have anything worthy to write." Let's haul it out, okay? The truth is, you have a lot to write about. Who has lived your life? Who has experienced your stuff? If you want to write fiction, pick a genre, and go for it!

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

"I started to write but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, and so I quit." Start again! Writing is NOT supposed to be EASY, it's supposed to be REWARDING and LIFECHANGING, for yourself and those who read your work.

No more excuses, okay?

Just sit down, right now, and write.

I know you can do it.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

How to Review an Audiobook

Finished an audiobook that was fantastic?

Please review it. Like books, authors are eager for reviews - especially well-thought-out reviews that showcase their book in the most positive light possible. 

No audiobook is perfect, even if you give it a five-star rating. There might be a point where you lose track of the story or who is speaking. This is a given with audiobooks. 

Photo by Joyce Busola on Unsplash

This being said, reviewing an audiobook has some similarities with book reviewing and some differences, the obvious difference being you're listening instead of reading. You will be paying attention to the narrator. Is he/she a good fit for the book you are reading? Can you see them in their easy chair reading along? Does their voice reflect the genre? How is their pacing? Do they read too slow or too fast?

More than one reader has asked me if I narrate my own books. My quick answer is no, and I more than likely never will. And that isn't because I can't read [tongue in cheek] but because I haven't learned how to read in front of an audience that needs to be captivated 24/7. And this takes skill.

If you've listened to an audiobook where the author is the narrator, you may notice something right away - background noise. If the narrator is good, they will have a studio with the equipment needed to put out the audiobook professionally, but not all authors have such a set-up. A five-star rating should never be given to an audiobook where the studio presentation is lacking.

He may be cute, but is he right for the book?
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

The story itself must carry over to an audio format. Unfortunately, even with the right narrator, not all stories convert to audio. A few years ago, I tried to get into an audiobook with a terrific narrator, but not so great a story. Just because a book is read and enjoyed with a four or five-star rating, doesn't necessarily mean it should receive the same rating as the audiobook. The opposite is also true. Some of my so-so book ratings on Amazon have received higher marks as an audiobook. Readers/listeners have enjoyed them better as an audiobook. What does this tell you about releasing an audiobook as well as a paperback?

One more thing. Check your grammar. You will be typing this up for potential future readers, make it your best work. The author, as well as the reader, will appreciate it.

And thank you! 

Friday, October 15, 2021

5 Tricks That Will Make You a Better Writer

Halloween is almost upon us, but I don't remember the last time one of my grandchildren was asked to do a trick at someone's door over getting a free treat.

With writing, however, tricks remain one of the greatest treats of creating your best work.

Allow me to share 5:

1. Getting out. Like the ghouls and boys at Halloween, you must venture out to get that well-craved treat. You can't expect to stay home (unless you're the parent) and receive your favorite chocolates. The same is true with the better writers who go out - not just to work or to the grocery store - but on a planned visit. Taking a walk is good, so is visiting the park, taking in a movie or dinner alone, or purposely planning a weekend at a favorite hotel or destination to write your heart out.

Our annual Halloween party. From left to right: Bekah as Nancy Drew, Chris as Neighborhood Watch guy, Me as Carmen Sandiego, Doug as Sherlock Holmes, Jacob as Scooby Do.

2. Writing when you don't feel like it. Writing, for me, is like breathing. Some days, all I can do is write in my journal, but I write every day. When it hurts the most is the best time to write. I have found when I write when I hurt I heal that much faster.

3. Reading what other writers have written. I know, I know, you've heard this for years, but it remains true. I still talk to writers who love to write but they never read. There is something life-changing about reading what someone else has written and paying attention to how and what they have written about, especially if the book is in the same genre as the one you are writing or wish to write. We can learn a lot about characters, setting, dialogue, and plot by reading someone else's work.

4. Editing! Editing, at least for me, is a dreaded task until I think about the end result. Always, always, the end result is a better representation of what I have written. Always! How many drafts does it take to get to the end of your [book]? The world may never know, but you should.

"How many licks does it take to get to the end of a Tootsie Pop?"
 Photo by Nagesh Badu on Unsplash

5. Taking in feedback. This is hard! I still struggle with this one! Especially after I've worked hard to make the work my best and there are still issues! Sometimes the feedback is someone's opinion. You hear it once and no one else makes the same comment. I take a look at these and often let them go. Then there are the times you hear the same comment over and over. That's when you really take a look! That's when changes for me are often made.

Becoming a better writer doesn't happen in a moment as you know. But a howling night, maybe five or ten years down the road, you'll look at your earlier work and really see something! The best treat of all...


Friday, October 8, 2021

5 Things You Might Not Realize About Writers and Writing

1. Writing helps writers to see the big picture as well as the small one. Writing teaches writers to notice life. A writer notices the striking sunset as well as the almost forgotten wildflower. They see because the best writing demands that they see.

2. Writing teaches a writer to listen. A writer hears the silence of a mountain walk. A writer hears children. A writer hears and takes note of disagreements across the room. The best characters come from their innermost memories and what they hear in a crowd or in silence.

My husband, Doug at a recent family wedding. Don't you just LOVE the flowers?

3. Writing promotes growth in other areas of a writer's life. Writers have the courage to speak what they feel because they have written what they've felt numerous times. Writers learn to speak one-on-one and in groups because they have shared their books in both settings through books signings and speaking engagements. 

It rained today. So beautiful.

4. Writers are connected with deep thinkers. Writers love those who can think deep. It isn't about sharing the weather. With them, it's about the color the weather creates. The moistness of rain on cement, traveling down gutters, droplets of dew on cars like kisses. Plants kneeling from the extra weight, grasses glistening, revealing their souls. Writers talk about what really matters. Hardships. Growth. Light.

5. Writing helps writers to stay on track. Writers are often journalers. And writing down their thoughts about their own life's curves and turns helps them to make better decisions and write a bit better present day.  

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Why I decided not to stay with my local publisher - The PCM of marketing books

Upfront: This is not a traditional publishing bash. Many, many authors decide to go the traditional route. 

I began my journey the traditional way, at least the local traditional way. I didn't have to pay a cent to have my book published, and I was excited for a while at the prospect. After writing for many years, finally, someone was taking notice.


First cover

Here is what I discovered after the novelty of publishing wore off. 

1) After my family had purchased my middle reader for $18, it was hard to sell it. 

2) The cover really wasn't middle reader, and I wondered if the artist had read my book. The cover was nice but it really didn't work for my book. 

3) I was surprised that I was expected to do 99.9% of the marketing. Frankly, I had no idea how to do it. My publisher listed my book on their website. That was the extent of their marketing efforts.

Going the local publisher route was not a bad idea, I learned a lot, but in the end, with little control over my book, I felt as if I could do better. Frankly, I knew my book better than anyone else, and because I knew it, I felt I could sell it. 


I wasn't necessarily right about that. I knew my book, but I didn't know how to market a book that was too expensive with the wrong cover. A few years of trying and failing to sell it proved to me that something else needed to happen.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to buy the rights back to my book. Fortunately, my brother did. It cost him $500. 


Final cover

Life is about learning, and book learning doesn't come cheap, but I learned. 

1) Publishing on my own I could price my middle reader at $10, a far better price, and one that readers would pay.

2) I could create a new book cover, one that works for the genre of my book. 

3) I could do 100% of the marketing! Through the years I have actually learned something! What works, what doesn't. And change, boy does marketing change!

Price. Cover. Marketing. 

There you have it.