Authors love to hate Amazon.com. Trouble is, we can't thrive without it. Sadly most authors and even publishers don't know how to effectively use the features Amazon offers -- especially the trick to achieving bestselling ratings.  I want VBT subscribers to know how to do that!



Luckily, Aggie Villaneuva learned that stuff the hard way -- and she achieved two category bestsellers in 2010, each book in three separate categories! She freely shares that knowledge with us in her TWO white paper reports in ONE, "How Choosing Kindle Categories Wisely Got me Two Best Sellers This Year." Plus "How to Gain Bestseller Status in Amazon’s Print Bookstore Too."

Miraculously, (because Aggie is a peach!)  I'm offering it at no charge to authors willing to help other authors learn even more about the writing and publishing world by subscribing to my Sharing with Writers newsletter. One report for the author who recommends my newsletter. Another for the author who signs up. It doesn't get any better than that!
To qualify for this double gift, put SUBSCRIBE-FREE "AMAZON Secrets" REPORT in the subject line of an e-mail and send it to HoJoNews@aol.com. In the window of the e-mail, list the e-mail address of the recommending author and the new subscriber. Both authors will get an e-copy of Aggie's report back in their e-mail boxes. Easy as that!
PS: You'll also find the section on using Amazon in my The Frugal Book Promoter useful. Amazon isn't perfect but they are trying to be author friendly. And, I have to say, they've never been late with a royalty payment. Authors can't always say that about their publishers, can they? (-:





























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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

On Researching

My Yahoo account is till out of whack so I'm going  letting subscribers to this blog know about a new post on my Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor blog through this blog. I think it's an important topic and one we don't often see covered.

Besides, I'm linking to VBT member Stephen Tremp's article on research from it.  I hope you'll stop by both blogs to chat about how research can affect our writing--for the better and for "the worse." Kind of like marriage. (-: 

Here's the link: http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com/2010/11/editing-our-our-research.html.

Best,
Proud (but unconnected!) VBT member,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/

Before You Self-Publish: Part 2

If you read my previous post (see November 6th), you realize there are certain steps that need to be taken before you think about signing up with a self-publishing company. And, you know it will cost you money that you may not recoup. This is not to say, you will not, but you need to work diligently to ensure a return on your investment.

So, now we’ll look at steps 3 through 6 of Before You Publish…

3. Learn the craft of writing

Along with a critique group, it’s important to join one or two writing groups. This will be a tool to begin your networking and it will also be a learning experience. Just in the messages alone, you’ll pick up valuable tidbits of information. And, you can always ask questions.

Read and read and read. Read in the genre you are writing and read books on writing. This is where asking questions in your writing group will come in handy. Ask members for recommendations on books you should read to hone your craft.

If possible, take some writing classes or ecourses. There are some authors who occasionally offer free instruction.

Attend writing conferences. If you can’t afford one, there are a couple of great online ones. Check out the free Muse Online Writers Conference. It’s held each October and is a week long.

4. Research self-publishing companies

Whether you’re looking at print-on-demand, subsidy, or co-publishing companies, research a number of them before signing a contract. Along with finding out what services they offer and the cost, check into their reputation.

5. Learn about marketing

If you have a polished product to offer, and you should if you’ve taken your time, joined a critique and writing group, and worked toward learning the craft of writing, you will need to focus on the marketing element of writing.

You can join a couple of marketing groups, study blogs specializing in marketing, read marketing books, and so on. This is the ONGOING element of writing to sell. Unless you have the money to hire a publicist or marketer, you will need to roll up your sleeves and sell your book.

6. Don’t be in a rush

Take your time and the steps necessary to ensure your book has every opportunity for success. Don’t just jump in…it can be a very expensive splash!

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Do you want to get that idea turned into a book? Do you want to write your memoirs? Do you need editing, proofreading, or a professional critique? Do you need an e-book to offer as a Freebie on your site? Do you need blog or article visibility for your business? We’re experienced, professional, and we cover a number of writing services. So, please stop by and check us out. Go to: http://dkvwriting4u.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter-for-hire, Freelance writer, Reviewer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for
4RV Publishing

http://karencioffi.com
http://dkvwriting4u.com

BE sure to sign up for my free monthly newsletter, A Writer's World, at either site: you'll get 2 FREE e-books on writing and/or marketing.

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kcioffiventrice

Debra K. Dunlap Presents Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair

Debra Dunlap lived in Alaska as a child, and is now a resident of Wyoming. Having a desire to write since a very early age, she attended the Muse Online Writers Conference a couple of years ago, and began to learn the writing ropes.

Her first book, Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair, is out and about, and ready for your viewing/reading pleasure. It's a Young Adult fantasy story set in Alaska.

A bit about Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair:

Magic lives in the Americas, too…

Land of the Midnight Sun. The Aurora Borealis. Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Dog sleds. Mount Denali. 60 degrees below zero. Moose. Grizzly bears. Salmon. Gold nuggets. Blueberries. Bunny boots and duct tape.

To most people, the word “Alaska” evokes visions of a wild, mysterious land, but for Fallon O’Reilly, it means home. Growing up in a village hidden deep in the wilderness, she eagerly anticipates her first sojourn at the Borealis Academy of Magical Arts. Nothing dampens her enthusiasm; not the creepy bookseller, her sisters’ nagging or the world’s nastiest classmate.

However, when village inhabitants disappear, someone murders a student’s pet and she suffers a near-fatal attack by a horrible, hairy creature, Fallon’s curiosity draws her into a dark mystery. Can a twelve-year-old witch, together with her wheelchair-bound cousin and new found friend from Wyoming, uncover the identity of the evil behind the chilling events?

From the wind-swept tundra to the frozen peaks of Mount Denali, Fallon’s struggle to protect the school and her fellow students encompasses a journey of far more breadth than she expected.

~~~~~
Your book sounds great, Debra. I'm a big fantasy fan.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and how Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair came about?

Sure, Karen.

My family lived in the Alaskan wilderness when I was a child and my mother homeschooled me during first grade.  As soon as she explained that the marks on paper represented sounds, I grasped the concept of reading and books hooked me for life.  I wrote my first novel at the age of 11 or 12, pounding it out on a toy typewriter.  Although the 25-page novel disappeared (thankfully!), my love of stories remained.

After attending the Muse Online Writer’s Conference, I felt inspired to begin putting stories in a more permanent form than my imagination.  During the Conference, I learned of NaNoWriMo and resolved to rise to the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month.  Fallon’s story had been rattling around in my head for some time and NaNo provided the opportunity to begin writing.  I did write 50k words in a month and went on to write another 25 thousand to complete the book.

During the same period of time, my oldest son came to visit from his home in Japan.  I live in Wyoming, where the summers are very hot and dry.  Like many Wyoming residents, I use a “swamp cooler.”  For those who have never seen a swamp cooler, it’s a big vented metal box.  Water runs into the box bottom through a small tube and a fan inside the box blows cold humid air into your house.  I love swamp coolers!  My sons frequently complained of the cold temperature in my living room, where the swamp cooler rested in a window.

One night as we prepared to eat pizza and watch a movie, my oldest son called to his brothers.  “C’mon, guys.  The movie’s ready.  Time to head into the Ice Queen’s lair.”

Voila!  Instant book title.  It need only a character name to become Fallon O’Reilly & the Ice Queen’s Lair.

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Isn't it funny how an idea, a title, and even a story can just appear? It'd be great if you can give us some details about your book.

It'd be my pleasure.

The book was released October 2010, through MuseItUp Publishing.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9865875-2-8
Price: $5.95

Where can readers find information about you and your book?

For the time being, you can find information at the publisher’s website.
http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=82

You can also find me at the following addresses:

http://debrakdunlap.com
http://debrakdunlap.blogspot.com/
http://www.manicreaders.com/DebraKDunlap/
Feel free to email me at: dkd@debrakdunlap.com

~~~~~
Debra, it's been a pleasure featuring you and your book on our blog. I wish you much success with it.

~~~~~
Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, Reviewer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for 4RV Publishing
http://KarenCioffi.com
http://DKVWriting4U.com
Karen Cioffi Writing for Children and More





Before You Self-Publish: Part 1

With today’s oversaturated and tight publishing market, it’s difficult to find even a small publisher for the manuscript you’ve slaved over. Many authors have taken the matter into their own hands and are going the self-publishing route. But, have vision! This can be a worthwhile venture…if you first know a couple of things:

1. Self-publishing will cost you money

This is an absolute when venturing into the self-publishing world. How much money will depend on the company you choose and which of the various services they offer that you buy into. And, there will be many aside from printing your book: editing, cover design, copyright, distribution, press releases, promotion, and so on. Each of these additional services will cost you more money, although most of these companies do offer package deals. I know writers who have spent under a thousand dollars and others who have spent over five thousand dollars to publish their book.

In addition to this, selling books is a TOUGH business. Just because your book is in print or digitally available, it does not mean you will recoup your money, or make a profit.

It may sound a bit harsh, but I’ve seen writers spend money on self-publishing hoping it will bring a return on their investment - this is not always the case.

2. Join a critique group before actually publishing

You’ve decided you want your book published no matter what. Well, that’ fine, but before you start think about which company to use to self-publish, JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP; it is essential. I do reviews, editing, and critiques, so I read a number of self-published books and manuscripts, and what is evident, is many authors are unaware that they need to have an edited, polished manuscript before they think of going the self-publishing path.

When choosing a critique group, be sure there are new and experienced (preferably published) writers as members, and it needs to focus on the genre you write in. In a critique group, you’ll quickly begin to see, through critiques of your work and that of the other members, how writing should be done. You’ll begin to spot grammatical and punctuation and storyline errors – you will begin to hone your craft. The group will help you polish your manuscript – you’ll be amazed at the difference.

At this point, it is advisable to have it edited as a final insurance. Often, the company you go with to self-publish will offer editing services. Just price it compared to hiring your own editor.

Part 2 will be here Saturday, November 13th, with steps 3 through 6 of "Before You Publish."

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Articles About Writing You May Find of Interest:

Aim for Writing Success
What Makes a Good Fiction Story: Plot Driven or Character Driven?

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If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for my FREE monthly newsletter, A Writers World, and get TWO FREE eBooks:

The Self-Publisher’s Guide, 2nd Edition
The Blogger’s Checklist

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Do you want to get that idea turned into a book? Do you want to write your memoirs? Do you need editing, proofreading, or a professional critique? Do you need an e-book to offer as a Freebie on your site? Do you need blog or article visibility for your business? We’re experienced, professional, and we cover a number of writing services. So, please stop by and check us out. Go to: http://dkvwriting4u.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter-for-hire, Freelance writer, Reviewer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for
4RV Publishing

http://karencioffi.com
http://dkvwriting4u.com

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kcioffiventrice