Friday, April 29, 2016

Digitize All Your Precious Poems

Guest Post by Samanthi Fernando

How fortunate we are to live in this digital age – to take poetry to the cloud from the page.

Like many Authors, I started writing at a very young age, and most of my early work was handwritten in several notebooks. One of the best decisions I made was to digitize all my precious poems from that era. I carefully typed and saved my work for later use.

Now with all the technology we have available at our fingertips, we can easily put our thoughts directly into digital notes and files. We can take backups and even revert back to previous versions. With several devices, software, search and sort functions to use, we can easily store and keep track of our writing. Thankfully the probability of a poem getting lost now is very low.

How many poetic gems could be forgotten in a pile of paper? Will you remember where to find each masterpiece much later?

When I began to compile Radiant Roses, I was able to search my digital archives for keywords like rose, petal, bud, bloom - to discover old poems that fit my theme. And I was pleasantly surprised to find one I wrote as a teenager that was perfect for this book. Even more pleased when Readers said this was one of their favorites in the book. If I had left my previous work in the old stack of notebooks, and only reviewed my newer work - I may never have thought of including it in this publication.

Inspiration to write a poem can be anytime, anywhere... and sometimes even in our hi-tech environment, we could end up writing the first pass on a piece of paper. Some of us even prefer to use pen and paper to compose. When we create something new – we celebrate an important milestone. If we are planning to publish our best poems, what we do afterwards is as important.

Where are all your poems? Go tech before going to press.

Here are a few tips for Poets planning to publish:

1.    Assess what needs to be digitized – you may need to go through your old journals to find the hidden gold.
2.    Set aside some time to convert content into digital format.
3.    Take regular backups – mirroring your files in the cloud is worth considering.
4.    Test your recovery strategy – don’t wait for a hardware crash to see if your work can be recovered from a remote backup.
5.    Setup a cadence to extract and save new notes.

Sometimes it takes decades for a beautiful poem to see the light. You wrote it during a long-ago chapter in your life, and the source of inspiration is no longer very clear. Yet the words stand out with the ability to touch and inspire others. Looking at it from a new perspective, perhaps on a new application or device… years later – all it may need is a more relevant title to be published. Keep your roses for another season. Digitize all your precious poems – and let the magic unfold.

About the Author

 Samanthi Fernando’s mission of hope is to illuminate and uplift through the Power of Poetry. Her poems celebrate the joys of nature, music, friendship and all life's blessings. In her spiritual compositions, she writes about faith, gratitude and healing love – connecting beautiful colors and positive emotions into poetic delights.

Samanthi is the Author of several Inspirational Poetry Books. She also provides Communications Consulting for a wide range of clients, including fortune 500 companies.

Visit STARSAFIRE POEMS to find Radiant Roses and other inspirational poetry by Samanthi Fernando at http://www.starsafire.starrayz.com

You can get your own copy of Radiant Roses at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1514843668

MORE WRITING TIPS

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Three Ways Writing Builds Strength


"I never give in. I never give up. And I never take no for an answer."
Doris Roberts, Actress
1925-April 17, 2016
There are lots of ways to build strength in life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, be social, stay mentally active. That last category? We writers have that covered in spades. After all, challenging our mental acuity is our game. I like to think for reasons beyond simply making an effort to stay healthy.

Tucked into suggestions to challenge our gray matter by the Alzheimer's Organization, which lists such activities as attending lectures and plays, playing games and working crossword puzzles, is writing. With all that serious writing entails we writers must be way ahead of the game.

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer
1. Don't talk about it--DO IT: How often have you had this conversation with someone who wants to lose weight?
  • Weight Loss Challenger: I'm trying to lose weight.
  • You: Good for you.
  • Challenger: My goal is 15 lbs. but I don't know if I'll ever get there. I've tried every kind of diet and nothing works for me.
                                                                    STOP!

Too often the person who talks about weight loss winds up in an endless weight-loss-weight-gain cycle and doesn't reach her goal UNTIL she stops talking about it. Only then can she get down to business and DO IT. It takes strength to drum up the necessary discipline.

I use this example to illustrate the mistake I made as a beginner writer and the mistake other beginners might make: I talked about what I planned to write, even expounding on the details of the piece/story. Maybe I even started the project . . . but never finished it. Why? Talking about what you're planning to write can take the wind right out of your sails--it can rob you of the energy you've put into coming up with your idea in the first place, so that when it comes time to write, your enthusiasm is gone.

2. Now that you've leaped over one of your initial hurdles, pouring out your heart and keeping it between you and the page, you find that you soon enter THE ZONE--that magical place any serious creator occupies while working, be it an athlete, a musician, a homemaker who establishes a loving and pleasing environment--it doesn't matter. The very act of creating will get you there. The world will open up to you. You'll be in the candy shop, given carte blanche to pick any kind of confection you want: cake, ice cream, cookies; or hey, anything made with semi-sweet chocolate, my personal favorite (while being "strong" enough not to gain weight, mind you). You will begin to build or continue to build on your knowledge and skills and explore any and all aspects of life to your heart's desire. A writing friend once told me one of the benefits she loves about writing is that you become an expert on many subjects and you carry this knowledge with you for the rest of your life. There's a great deal of strength in that.

3. Learning your craft and sharpening your skills: This is a great accomplishment. You literally transform yourself into the ranks of successful people who have arrived at their success like you have, from their relentless efforts and hard work. A likely trajectory to becoming an accomplished writer can go something like this:
  • Write for your school newspaper beginning as early as possible; then become editor.
  • Establish a place to write and a schedule so that you write regularly every day, if possible.
  • Keep a journal. Come up with subjects that are important to you and think of ways you can write about them.
  • Take courses, read "how-to" books, join writing organizations and attend workshops and conferences. Share your writing with other writers.
  • Explore publication outlets online, at the library, with writing organizations you belong to. Find a publication(s) that would welcome what you have to say.
  • Learn photography, a handy skill to accompany your writing.
  • Learn how to speak in front of others.
  • Network, see what other writers are doing and learn from them. We are a sharing group .We have been known to go to great lengths to help and promote our fellow writers.
Before you know it you will have found your niche and if you keep working at it you will eventually reach your goals. Once you've reached your goals you can flex those buff writing muscles you've developed to benefit yourself, your readers and those fortunate enough to come in contact with you.

Photo: Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. She worked as a weight-loss counselor for several years and understands firsthand the challenges facing anyone wanting to lose weight. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook

Monday, April 25, 2016

More ABCs for New Writers; K-O


K is for kindred.

Joining a writing group is encouraging, educational, and fun. 

Just make sure your fellow writers are of a kindred spirit. 

This simply means: not any writing group will work for you. 


"Finding a writing group or partner is a lot like dating. There’s an element of searching and an element of matching. You’re looking for people you can share a piece of your creative self with, for people you want to spend time on, for people who can help you become a stronger writer ... " Jane Friedman

L is for lucky break.

Yes, those lucky breaks do come along but don't just sit back and wait for them.

I am a firm believer in hard work, but I also believe life mysteriously unfolds in ways that surprises us. Those moments that come out of nowhere are encouraging. 

Being "discovered" is always possible and it does happen. But if you are not consistently working at your craft, your name and your work will not be visible. 

Bottom line: if you've been working your tail off and making little progress, don't give up. In time a connection somewhere may come out of the blue giving you that lucky break you deserve.

M is for momentum.

There's nothing like it! Churning out submissions or landing regular assignments keeps you feeling successful. 

This happens when you have a schedule. It takes discipline and consistency. Keep at it.

Sometimes that momentum comes to a screeching halt because life happens. Don't get discouraged. See it as a season and get back on track.

N is for networking.

Access to the internet gives any new writer a chance to network with other writers. 

My very first step in becoming a writer was taking an affordable online writing course.  This led me to an online writing coach, which led me to joining her website, which led me to knowing other writers on that site, which gave me a foundation to begin building on. 

It can be daunting to join with seasoned writers and authors, yet, I have found it to be a very friendly, helpful environment. You will, too.

O is for opportunities.

Where do I begin? The opportunities are endless.

Whatever you like to write, you can be sure there is room for you. If you love writing and you are serious about freelancing or writing a book, make it happen. 

One way to begin looking for opportunities may be in your own backyard. Christina Katz has some great advice to write for regional parenting magazines in your area. If you live near colleges (or not!), consider writing resumes for prospective career minded students. 

Keep your eyes open and look for those opportunities. They are all around you!


See you next month, More ABCs for New Writers; P - T. 

Photo Credit: interphasesolution

***

After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com





Friday, April 22, 2016

How To Grow A Large Twitter Following

Almost once a week, one of my writer friends will email a comment about my large twitter following (currently over 172,000). As one said,”I believe I'm pretty active on twitter and I only have about 9,000 followers. How did you get to such a large number without buying them?”

Yes you can buy the followers and in a short amount of time your amount of followers will radically jump from a low number to over 100,000. There are several problems with using this strategy. First it will cost you money but more importantly you will gain some credibility but mostly you will gain fake followers. These plastic followers will never engage you, take advantage of your content or care about your content. It will not help you get where you want to go in terms of real followers.


I've been on Twitter since June 2008 and consistently giving good content on twitter. If you watch my twitter feed you will see that it is not all my content but comes from others in the writing community and in my target market of publishing and writing. From my consistent involvement in twitter, I have had many great results in my writing life. Some people email me for help and I refer them to my blog or my Ebook products or my online courses. Other people I will encourage and actually acquire their books at Morgan James. Yes, it can begin on Twitter. 


From my years in publishing, I find many people want to have a large audience or following. Yet these same people never ask this question: are you willing to do the work to get this audience? I may not be the best writer in the room (still have a lot to learn all the time).  But I am a persistent and consistent writer. These two qualities are ones that you can acquire and build into our life as well.


A basic principle of Twitter is following other people. Some of those people you follow, will follow you back. I use a tool called Refollow.com (which costs $20 a month). In less than ten minutes, I can follow the followers of people in the publishing community (my target market). Every day I follow 800 new people. A certain percentage of these people will follow me back (increasing my followers). If they don't follow me after several days, then I unfollow them using the tool, Manage Flitter


Another key to grow your twitter following is to constantly give good content. I use the free tool Hootsuite to schedule my tweets throughout each day. If you watch my twitter feed, you will see that I'm posting almost every hour throughout the day. Also I try to include an image with each tweet. If you use an image, it has higher visibility and interest (more people read it). 


The reality is my large following didn't happen overnight. My numbers have been growing gradually—but steadily upward. In fact, I'm gaining about 100 new followers a day. I spend less than 30 minutes a day on Twitter—yet I consistently spend this time (day after day). I do it on the weekend and I do it during the week. I do it when I travel and I do it when I'm at home. If I have any “secret” it is that I've made my own system and use it every day. You can follow the same path if you want to develop this type of following for your own writing.

Tweetable:
W. Terry Whalin is the author of more than 60 books including Book Proposals That $ell and has written for more than 50 magazinesFollow this link to his speaking schedule. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pros and Cons of Outlining Your Novel


Generally writers work between two constructs when working on their novels - to outline or not. Outliners tend to put down on paper the entire novel, plotting out all the details, where and when and who the characters are that will come in at appropriate times. Non-outliners tend to go on their way taking each day as it comes and putting in characters as they 'appear' in their minds. The first thing to understand is neither way is 'right', but instead outlining is more of a preference. The biggest thing to recognize is that at some point you will need to plot, but plotting can happen before you begin to write, during the writing project, or even after you think you've got it all down. 

So now, the pros and cons:

Pros of outlining:
1. You have an idea of what you will be writing at each sitting.
2. Outlining helps create balance in your narrative - you will be less likely to go off on a tangent that will later be scraped.
3. Characters are developed before work begins so they are more consistent throughout the narrative.
4. Fewer plot holes that will need to be found and fixed in the final draft.

Cons of outlining:
1. Commitment to your outline can mean that when opportunity arrives to divert you may be less likely to do so.
2. For some, outlining and then writing means writing short - fewer words or concise thoughts do not necessarily make for a good read.
3. Scenes can sometimes seem flat.

Pros of non-outlining:
1. You will have the freedom to be creative.
2. There is something to be said about be surprised in where the story is going - it creates enthusiasm to sit down and work.
3. When it comes time to re-write you may have more to work with as plot and subplots may be many.
4. Characters can be added easily.

Cons of non-outlining:
1. As you write, because you do not have a clear picture of where you are going, you may find you write yourself into a corner.
2. When it is time to plot, you may find some holes that will need to be fixed.
3. Uneven storytelling.

Yes, there are pros and cons, but the good news is, you can also combine the two. Outline a bit, be flexible and find yourself between the two.  Good luck.

_________________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Four Tips to Keep Your Writing Momentum

Writers can have a difficult time maintaining momentum. Many writers seem to write in fits and spurts. They may write consistently for a month or two, and then their inspiration towards their manuscripts seems to dwindle and they don’t get to their desks for weeks or months. It seems that something always gets in the way of their writing. Before we know it, months have gone by and we have not done any writing on our WIP. 

    This is quite common for many beginning and intermediate writers. It is also common for writers who work full time and have so many other things to do every day such as family, kids, caring for parents, and other issues. There always seems to be something that bulldozes their intention to get to their desks to write.

    One of the most important things that we have to remember is that unless we get to our desks to write every day or most days, we won’t be as productive and therefore we won’t be successful in our writing careers. Not only that, but we will also be frustrated because we can’t seem to manage our writing life effectively.

    In what follows, I will offer you a few tips, that when followed will ensure that you keep your momentum on your writing project until it is complete.

Writing–of any kind–takes great commitment and self-discipline, and there may be times when you find it difficult to carve out the hours you need or to find the energy to devote to your writing. Here are some suggestions to keep you moving forward:

1.    Write every day

There is no more important piece advice that any writer can give another writer than to show up to your desk and actually do some writing every day. Think in terms of output rather than time–set your goal at one page a day instead of one hour a day. That way, you have concrete evidence of your progress.

2.    Set aside a particular time of day (or night) to write

In order to create writing momentum, writers must make it a habit. Like any other learned skill, writing requires practice. We learn by doing. If we schedule our writing time–the way we would a piano lesson or a work-out at the gym–we’re giving our writing the priority it deserves.

3.    Stretch your 24-hour day

It can be hard to always find time to write. There are always a thousand other things that need to be done. The fact is you probably won’t find the time to write unless you make time for it.  Here are a few tips:

•    Get up an hour early, set the coffee maker and get right to work.
•    Resist the urge to take a nap when you put the baby down.
•    Shut your office door and write through your lunch hour.
•    Decide that an hour of writing time is more important than an hour of television.

4.    If you can’t write, think instead

Thinking is an important part of the writing process. If you’ve established your regular daily writing time, as we suggested above, make the most of that time by preparing yourself mentally beforehand. Start thinking about your manuscript a few hours before you sit down at your computer, so that you’re ready to write when you get to your desk. Even if you can’t set aside time to write every day, you should at least make thinking about writing a daily activity. By thinking about writing even when you aren’t doing it, you’ll make writing a natural and necessary part of your life.

By taking these steps, you will be gaining momentum in your writing career.  There is no better way to ensure that you develop the self-discipline to write and get to your desk regularly. Not only will you build self-confidence, but you will also build on your skills as a writer and get a lot of writing done.

For a lot more tips on how to be a healthy writer, double click on this link: Healthy Writer.

About the Author

Irene S. Roth, MA writes for teens, tweens, and kids about self-empowerment. She is the author of over thirty books and over five hundred online articles. She also writes articles for kids, tweens and teens and her articles have appeared in Encounter, Pockets, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine, and Stories for Children Magazine and Online. She also has four hundred and sixty published book reviews both online and in print.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Start Your Small Business Today – 4 Excuse Busters

You want to start a home or small business. Or, maybe you want to take an existing business to the next level.

But, but, but.

You’re just not sure you can. You think about and think about it.

You know what this is called, don’t you? PROCRASTINATION!

- Do you have the drive?
- Do you have the money?
- Do you the skills and/or knowledge?
- Do you have a business plan?

The questions can go on and on.

The interesting thing about businesses online is that a number of them can be created for a minimal financial investment. Sometimes no money is needed.

The crucial element, more that time, money, or anything else, is to take that first step.

Don’t have the drive? Create a plan and read it every day. Take action steps every day. Once you see your time and effort paying off, you’ll become more and more motivated.

Don’t have the money? Start low-scale or go for a business that doesn’t involve any money. A number of service businesses can be started for very little cost.

Have something in mind that will cost money?

There are government small business grants that you can look into:
https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants

You might also look into small business loans.

And, there are even big business contests you can enter:

Wells Fargo Works 
Chase Mission Main Street Grants


Don’t have the skills or knowledge? Think again.

It’s common knowledge that if you read just one book you know more on that topic than the majority of people. This makes you an expert on that particular top to a lot of people.

This is a start. Build on it.

Money Smarts says there are two ways to take it further:

1. Read one book per month on a particular topic for one year.
2. Study the topic each day for half an hour for a year.

Make it a ‘learn as you go’ strategy. You can do it.

Don’t have a business plan? Create one.

There are lots and lots of ‘how to’ business plans and examples out there. Just do a Google search. You can also find examples through:

U.S. Small Business Administration

A Remarkably Simple Business Plan from Copyblogger.com

A Simple Business Plan from Entrepreneur.com

Sources:
http://www.moneysmartsblog.com/how-to-become-an-expert-in-anything/
http://www.businessinsider.com/3-ways-to-know-if-youre-really-an-expert-2012-2

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwrite, and online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing and Working Writers Club. Check out her latest e-class:

No matter what business you're thinking of, you'll absolutely need a website. If you don't already have one, you have a perfect opportunity to get one up now:

Create Your WordPress Website Today
No code, no technical stuff, no fuss

Get it started today. CLICK HERE for all the details

~~~~~
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Sunday, April 10, 2016

10 Tips for Networking


While a lot of writers prefer to stay behind the keyboard than go out and about, networking is an essential part of developing any business. It's a great way to find potential clients, publications, interview opportunities, and so on. 

Sure, there are numerous places to network online. And you should do those too! However, nothing compares to meeting people and developing relationships the old-fashioned way: IRL (in real life).

Don't just look for events that relate directly to your industry. Find things that relate to your other interests and hobbies, since you are more likely to discover a better cross-section of people with topics open to enthusiastic conversation.

Here are 4 ways to find events:

1. Search Online. Many good events are posted on the web. Make it part of your routine to search Meetup and Eventbrite for fun, local opportunities. 

2. Ask for Recommendations. Post a social media update that you are looking for events in your area and/or on a specific topic. LinkedIn updates will likely get more visibility and response than more cluttered social networks.

3. Go to Booksignings and Workshops. Search the calendar listings for your local bookstore, library, or coworking space. There's an added potential benefit. If you are able to make friends with the speakers/authors, they will likely want to reciprocate and go to your events too.


4. Keep an Eye on Your Friends. See what events your friends post about. Perhaps you could even go together. (Also see the next tip.)

These are 3 ways to meet people once you get there:

1. Bring a Friend. Events are easier when faced as a team. Team up with a wingmen (or wingwomen) when you go out networking and meet people together. You can even take turns finding events.

2. Make a Friend. See that nice-looking person who is standing alone? Go say "hi" and strike up a conversation. Then, go meet more new people as a team. This could be a win-win situation.

3. Volunteer. The best way to meet people at an event is to volunteer. Whether you are doing a check in, standing at the help desk, or assisting in any other way, people have a reason to talk to you and vice versa. This is perfect for shy people who are looking to get out of their comfort zones.

And 3 tips for following up. 

1. Trade Business Cards. Make sure to leave a business card with your new contacts, so you can stay in touch. Get their cards too. When you get home, make notes on the back of their card with any memorable details so you can make follow-up more personal.

2. Connect on Social Media. Within a day of the event send a connection request on LinkedIn or other social network. Be sure to include a note meeting them about the event and/or something that stood out in your conversation. That added touch could make a world of difference.

3. Continue the Conversation. Make a note on your calendar to follow up. If they ask for more info about your business, send it. If they are considering using your services, check in a week or two after the fact. If they have a potential referral for you, ask. These should be friendly (not hard-sell) interactions. The frequency and content will depending on the nature of your developing relationship.

Remember, networking should be fun. You will attract more people if you are having a good time, even if you have to "fake it til you make it."  You never know where a new relationship can lead.

What tips do you have for networking? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Literary Magazines with Themes--Spring 2016

Here's my spring 2016 list of upcoming themes or prompts for literary magazines.  They're fun to write to, and you may also find that they match stories you've already written.  As always, read guidelines carefully.

Third Flatiron
Theme:  Keystones
Genres:  Speculative
Reading Period:  April 15-June 15, 2016
Word Count: 1500-3000
Pay: 3 cents / word

Lackington's
Theme:  Animals (see more detailed description in guidelines)
Genres:  Speculative
Dates:  Opens May 10
Word Count:  1500-5000
Pay:  1 cent per word

The First Line
First line must be:  "By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets."
Deadline: May 1, 2016
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Second Thoughts
Deadline: July 1, 2016
Pay:  $25

Grey Wolfe Publishing
April Prompt:  "Every morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp, you get a call on your cell phone. The speaker says 'I know what you did' and then hangs up. This has been going on for two weeks straight. What did you do and how do you react to these calls?"
Deadline:  April 30, 2016
May Prompt:  You’re sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking at the top news stories while drinking your coffee. The top story this morning is a crazy fan who was arrested for breaking into a local bookstore and stealing all of YOUR books! He’s quoted as saying “I just want to be their best friend!” Your first crazed fan. What do you do?
Deadline:  May 31, 2016
Word Count:  up to 2000
Pay:  $25 to contest winner

Enchanted Conversation
Theme:  Summer Solstice and Mid-Summer
Genre:  Fairy Tale
Reading Period:  May 1-May 30
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length
Pay:  $30

Infective Ink
Themes:  Dear Diary—due April 27, 2016
The End of the World—due May 28, 2016
Pay:  $10 for stories 1500 words and up

On the Premises
Next theme:  TBA
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay: $60-220 

Timeless Tales
Theme:  The Snow Queen
Genre:  retelling of fairy tales—various styles and genres, poetry
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20

Story
Theme:  Identity
Genres:  Stories, essays, poems
Word Count: up to 2500 for prose
Pay: Unclear



Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  Visit her online at www.melindabrasher.com

Monday, April 4, 2016

Case Study: Why Important Books Get Ignored

Case Study;
Getting Professionalism Wrong
or The Gorgeous Books That Go Ignored
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A long time ago, as time is measured in the publishing world, I received a beautiful hardcover book with a slick, arresting dust cover in the mail. Everything about it yelled “professionally published!” right down to the fact that it was written by the president of a well respected company. The trouble was, I hadn’t requested it, there was no personal note, and the letterhead on an enclosed sellsheet didn’t give me an e-mail address. I used the phone number supplied. A pleasant woman couldn’t answer my questions, took my number and I never heard back from either her or the author. I promptly forgot about it. Then I received a note from one of my SharingwithWriters newsletter subscribers who edited the book asking if I had received it. I told her I hadn’t so she had the author’s secretary handling the book send me another.
Horrors. I now had two copies of the book. I wanted to bury my head in the sand but instead I thought I’d admit my mistake like any good professional and maybe help the author in the process. Here is my apology and the letter I hope gave her the information she needed to help him:
Dear [Subscriber],
I apology for my part in a minor marketing fiasco. It is story we can learn from—a minor disaster that could be a major one if it is repeated many times. A minor disaster caused by an omission of contact information and a failure to followup on contacts. I hope we can both learn from this experience.
I received the second book you had your PR person send. When I saw it, I remembered that I did get the earlier copy. There was a letter in it both times, but it didn't mention you or our conversation we had. Though it is a beautiful book, I get about two or three unrequested and unexpected books a week and assumed it was one of those. Still, I take pains to try to contact people who send books to me as a matter of courtesy. There was no e-mail address so I called. There was no personal contact on the phone, either. Just a person saying they would give the busy author a message. I received nothing back. So, I did a little more than usual. I went to the Website where there was also was no personal contact information so I added the e-mail it provided to my contact list thinking that might work eventually. Apparently the author’s agency/handler did receive one of my e-mails and unsubscribed. So, I finally wrote off the whole experience as an impossible mess.
I don't know what contact/relationship you have with the company who promotes this book or with the author, but as professional as everything looks from the book to the letterhead, there are some gaps in this approach to marketing this book. I suspect the author cares enough about having his book read to pay a small fortune to get the word out there either by using his secretary’s well-paid time or hiring a PR agency. I also suspect he is a busy businessman depending on other professionals to do what needs to be done to get it read.
And this is exactly why I wrote The Frugal Book Promoter. That is, I want authors to be very clear that no matter who publishers their books, does their publicity, their marketing...well, the more authors know and the more hands-on the process can be, the better it works.
I hope you'll pass this long to that author if you are in a position to do so. The author is lucky to have you on his side His book does seem to be full of information that will help many. It is a book that is professionally edited and produced and would therefore make a handsome gift. Still, I can't help—make that don't have time to help--anyone who has chosen a publishing path so different from what works and that is to make it as easy as possible on the media and other gatekeepers to give them the exposure they need to sell books.. I only hope I am an isolated case. For his sake and the sake of his prospective audience.
I hope you can see I wouldn't have taken the time to write you this treatise if I didn't care. I am certain you care!
Very best,
Carolyn

Note: I believe that part of the problem this author had was misguided professionalism. He believed (as I do) in empowering employees and designating tasks. After all, no one person can do it all. However, that must be accompanied with the advice I once read in a little book in the 70s. I think it was called “Management by Wandering Around.”  I used this advice when I had gift shops in five cities and two states. It took a lot of traveling, but it was fun, too. And asking question (you might call that monitoring). If you designate, do a lot of training, checking up, holding people responsible, and retraining.

Carolyn has been a proud contributor to WritersOntheMove since its inception. Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be Getting Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

On Becoming a Warrior For My Writing

Guest post by Sallie Wolf

In yoga class one day, while practicing Warrior 3, my teacher asked, “What are you a Warrior for?”

Interesting question. I’ve been eliminating pugilistic, militaristic words from my speech, especially when I’m talking about myself--words like “I’m struggling--;” “ I’m fighting--.” There is a power in language, and the way we phrase things has a lot to do with the way things show up in our lives. I don’t want my life to be a battle, a war, a minefield.

But warrior poses in yoga are powerful poses. I enjoy the challenge of them, balancing strength with softness. I couldn’t reject my teacher’s question out of hand.

What does it mean to be a warrior, and what am I a warrior for? If I took the war out of warrior what was I left with? It seems to me that warriors are fiercely passionate about a cause, willing to commit all their strength, energy, and prowess to something. I can feel that fierceness, that commitment as I concentrate on stepping into the pose, setting my feet in a firm foundation; searching for balance from the inside out; trusting the strength of my body to support me.

I decided that I am a warrior for my writing and my art and especially for my book, The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal. I love this book, a collection of bird observations told in poetry, sketches, lists, and journal entries. It has the look and feel of a journal/scrapbook. It’s an invitation to the reader to join in the creative process, observing and recording the world around us.

The Robin book earned a starred review from School Library Journal. It was chosen as an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association. It received numerous online favorable reviews, but sales have been disappointing. It has not earned out its advance and is nearing out-of-print status. There are only a few hundred copies left in the warehouse.

I walked out of my yoga class determined to do whatever I can to bring this book out of obscurity. That night I received a call from Lin Oliver, Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: I had won the Jane Yolen Midlist Author grant. The award comes with some money. More importantly, it’s a vote of confidence in the value and quality of my work.

Relaunching my Book

To apply for the grant I had written a proposal to “relaunch” my Robin book. I wasn’t sure that you were allowed to relaunch a book—one shot was all you got, right? But I could not let this book fade into out-of-print status without a fight—okay, that’s a battle word. I really am prepared to be a warrior for this book. My proposal outlined a plan of action to reignite interest in the Robin book. My intention to be a warrior lit a fire in me. Receiving the grant reaffirmed my intentions.

After I hung up the phone and wiped the tears from my eyes, I set about doing some of the things I’d written in my proposal.

· I designed and printed a brochure that I have been handing out to teachers, librarians, birders, any and all interested persons; that describes my book and how to order it. I had the brochure ready in time to take it to the SCBWI International Conference in New York City in February.

· I taught a journal-making workshop to a group of home-schooled students. Included in the workshop price was a copy of the Robin book for each participant. I intend to line up more journal-making workshops. This is one of my favorite ways to share my artistic process and introduce my book.

· I have a notebook dedicated to ideas for spreading the word, and I am working my way through the list and adding more ideas.

Having taken on the intention to be a warrior for my work, I find I am able to speak about my book freely and reach out to people who might be interested. I say yes to all the opportunities presenting themselves. Whenever I become hesitant or tired of the marketing demands, I remind myself that I am a warrior for my work and my energy returns. I do not think it is a coincidence that I got Lin Oliver’s call the same day I said, out loud and to my teacher, “I am a Warrior for my book.”

Where do your passions lie? What are you a warrior for?

About the Author:

Wherever she goes, Sallie Wolf takes her journal, fountain pen, ink, and watercolors. These are the tools she uses to record the world she sees. Her journals are a combination of an anthropologist’s field notes, a writer’s notebook, and an artist’s sketchbook. Her children’s books grow out of these journals. The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal is a collection of bird observations told in poetry, lists, questions, notes, and sketches. Truck Stuck, was chosen by the Illinois Reading Council for their “Illinois Reads” program for 2015. Peter’s Trucks is a 2016 Illinois Reads choice. Sallie lives in Oak Park, IL. Learn more about Sallie’s writing and art, including The Moon Project, on her website. (http://www.salliewolf.com)

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