Sunday, December 13, 2009

eBook Architects and our EBook

So, eBook Architects came through for my writer S.O. and I in a big way last week. For $210 we had the galley PDF converted into a file for Smashwords Premium files (available for ALL e-book readers and computers) and a file for Kindle. I also paid $125 for our own ISBN for the e-book file. This is not something we had to do, so we could have had everything for $210. I bought the ISBN for the electronic book (not through eBook Architects) so that in the future, if we parted from AuthorHouse with the paperback/ hardcover editions of the novel, we wouldn't have to worry about the electronic book- the ISBN belongs to us, not another publishing company. We are truly 100% self-publishers of the e-book.

Now comes the hard part: selling. Uploading the documents to Smashwords and Amazon Kindle was relatively easy. However, in the past 7 days, we've only sold 2 copies on Smashwords and had 6 free sample downloads (awesome perk on Smashwords: you can allow anyone to download a portion of your book for free to sample before buying). That means I'll have to invest more time and possibly money into advertising, neither of which I have much of now, but perhaps after the holiday season. Bad news on Amazon front: their system says it will take them 24-72 hours to check you book and make it available for Kindles. It's been a week, and I'm still getting the same message. At the same time, on Smashwords, someone can download a Kindle version of the book. Frustrating.

I will keep readers updated on experiences with sales and marketing, but I do recomment eBook Architects. The owner of the company was VERY easy to work with and saved me a LOT of stress. Hopefully it will pay off monetarily in the future as well. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Evolution of a Blog

So, I've been blogging for the past month or so about once a week. Really, I'd like to be blogging more frequently, but as this blog originated to vent the frustrations and celebrate the triumphs of my and my S.O.'s venture into writing and publishing, I've realized that, as with everything in life, there are droughts and floods. My writing has slowed (this week= zero blog entries. sad.) with my own busyness AND simply with a slow period for either frustrations or triumphs. The S.O. is writing. I am waiting to hear about the e-book copy of Novel #1. I follow the blogs of writers and agents. I keep up with my Twitter. Between these different events and circumstances, I'm not always bitten by the writer's bug- a feeling shared by all those out there who are actually working on writing short stories, novels and poetry, too, I'm sure. So here is what I will be attempting during the month of December (and it will take time, folks! No promises of instant success;)):

1) I am going to push myself, like all writers must, to work more on consistency, relevance, and quality of my own blog posts.

2) I am going to pursue interviews with writers, especially new writers, who will have something unique to offer my audience.

3) I am going to pursue guest bloggers from different areas of writing and publishing, which will also bring new, relevant and interesting information to my audience.

4) I am going to seek out requests from my audience on this blog and Twitter regarding what readers would actually like to read about.

As per #4, please comment below or email regarding any requests for a blog entry or interview.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving for Writing and Publishing

Following in the vein of Nathan Bransford and Lara Zielin, I'd like to take a moment this week to count the things I'm thankful for in writing and publishing.

1) I'm thankful for the Blogosphere- for bloggers like Kristin Nelson and Nathan Bransford, for blogs like GLA and Publetariat, for all of this dialogue and information that helps me learn more about the writing and publishing world.

2) I'm thankful for Twitter, for putting me in contact with tons of other fabulous individuals (like Joanna Penn of thecreativepenn, Maria Schneider of Editor Unleashed, and Henry Baum of selfpubreview, to name a few) in the writing world and giving me a daily news feed of hot topics in the writing world.

3) I'm thankful for the infinite hope in the possibilities of writing.

4) I'm thankful for an infinite list of moving, inspiring, heart wrenching, and absolutely entertaining books.

5) I'm thankful for literary agents who exist to help authors achieve their dreams.

6) I'm thankful for sites and individuals (aforementioned Publetariat and Henry Baum's Self Publishing Review among them, plus tweets from Indieauthor) for the information and encouragement they give to self-published writers and those interested in self-publishing and self-published books.

7) I'm thankful for the rare moments when I dream and actually do my own writing.

8) I'm thankful that my S.O. is plugging away at his writing.

9) I'm thankful for those that follow my blog and Twitter account and give me encouragement through comments or simply being a follower.

10) I'm thankful for anything that I am able to give to others interested in writing and publishing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Writing, Reviews, Blogging, Etc.

Latest update on all things writing and promoting the self-published novel:

1) eBook Architects, which I previously wrote about, is scheduled to have both a Kindle copy and a Smashwords premium copy (that can be sold to and read on Sony eReaders, through Barnes and Noble, etc.) of the S.O.'s self-published novel ready for launch on Dec. 7th. Exciting!

2) He is plugging away on the 2nd novel. He is a little over half way done. Once finished, the novel will undergo significant revisions before being sent out to agents for traditional publishing. Goal for Ready-to-Send-Out= Summer 2010.

3) Today I emailed Odyssey Reviews and Front Street Reviews to see if they have the interest/ room in their queue for reviewing said self-published novel. It was published in 2008 and is still selling well, but every bit of free advertising/ positive review helps! I haven't been able to help out much with marketing lately, so getting these two emails out felt really good. I will also be looking for reader review blogs whose owners would be interested in reading the book and reviewing it for their blogs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kindle and eBook Marketing

To all who are HTML saavy or starting from scratch creating a digital file for their book, I commend you and envy your knowledge and wherewithal.

I, on the other hand, have finally come to the conclusion that 1) I don't have the time and won't have the time, any time soon, to learn to do a Kindle-friendly conversion of a PDF file. Nor will my significant other, who is more concerned (as he should be) with writing his next novel. AND 2) I can't in good conscience NOT have a digital file of the S.O.'s novel on the market, especially around holiday time.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me about the debatable necessity of having one's novel available in some electronic form, but from all that I have read in both the self-publishing and traditional publishing world, there are just too many people now reading on Kindles or Sony E-Readers, etc., to ignore. Some of them, popular literary agent Nathan Bransford included, argue that for those addicted to their Kindles (e-readers, etc.), the choice is no longer between hard copy or electronic format. It's electronic format or they won't bother to read it.

For the above reasons, I have decided to shell out some pocket cash to have eBook Architects convert my PDF to a Kindle-friendly format. The prices can run between $120 and $220, generally, for a work of fiction. Is it worth it? Will we even earn that back?? Hopefully, because that would mean good sales figures. :) I will keep you, readers, posted on our experience with it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

Congrats to Karrie Kreme of Crumblidge, Maplechusetts! Thanks to all the creative, donut-y entries! "Karrie Kreme," Lara should be contacting you for mailing information soon! To all, keep reading and writing!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free Book Contest! This Week Only!

Are you interested in winning an autographed copy of Lara Zielin's Donut Days? If so, leave a comment below with your name, city and state, or pets name, BUT alter them to make them as donut-y as possible. A delicious but calorie-free exercise in creativity for readers and writers. :)

You can leave the comment in response to this post or the Interview post below. If the ID you select won't let you officially change your name, or if you don't have an ID and choose the Anonymous selection, just leave your donut-alter-ego in the comment itself. Enjoy!

Spwinklie Blogkin

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interview with Debut Author Lara Zielin

As promised, below is the first author interview on this blog. Lara Zielin is the author of Donut Days, a YA novel enjoyed by adults as well as teenagers. Donut Days follows its heroine, Emma Goiner, as she navigates the perils of high school friendships, first loves, the pursuit of her love of journalism and choosing an appropriate college in which to pursue her dream, and trying to make sense of her own beliefs against the tricky backdrop of her family's evangelical Christian faith. The original and fun setting for all of this is the Crispy Dream donut camp, a throng of local people and travelers camping out to welcome the opening of a Crispy Dream franchise in her town. Below Lara answers questions about writing, the life of a newly-published author, and, of course, donuts. Read to the end for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of Donut Days.

In reading your novel, blog, and some interviews, it's pretty clear that you like donuts. Do you have a fave flavor?

It’s true—I love donuts, and it’s only gotten worse since I published DONUT DAYS. I have yet to meet a donut I didn’t like, and this poses myriad problems, especially for my waistline. This Halloween, I even dressed up as a donut. I think this is bordering on obsession, but I’m okay with that since at least I’m not obsessed with, you know, collecting eyeballs or something.

What's the best and/ or most unusual donut you've ever tried?

I haven’t tried that many unusual donuts, but Voodoo Doughnut in Portland seems to have the market cornered on awesome donut flavors I’d like to try. I mean, they have one with Butterfinger crumbles on it! I also heard about a French toast donut (::drools on floor::) and I personally would love for someone to make a Nutella and peanut butter donut. Like, where the peanut butter would be baked into the dough and Nutella could be the filling. Not that I’ve thought about it much. I just … came up with that idea spontaneously. Um, yeah.

This is your first fiction book published. What has been one of the most fun parts of being a newly published author?

Blogs like this! I’m not actually being snarky and sarcastic. It’s true! I have connected with such a wide range of wonderful people over this fandangled thing they call the interwebs. Some people have even read my book as a result. I know, crazy, right? I’m actually so impressed with how organized writers and reviewers are as a collective whole. And I’ve loved meeting other YA authors and readers. Hooray for this series of connected tubes!

There have been a number of articles published recently on how authors cope with negative book reviews (in recent news, Alice Hoffman, Alain de Botton). Although Donut Days has been widely praised, have you had to deal with any negative book reviews? What outlets did you use/ How did you cope with these?

My very good friend Ellen Baker was published about a year and a half before DONUT DAYS came out, and I remember her taking bad reviews to heart. And at the time I was all like, “Oh, Ellen, don’t let them get you down. It’s totally okay. You can’t control them, you can only control your reaction…” on and on, ad nauseum.

I’m really surprised Ellen didn’t hit me, because that advice pretty much sucks. When it’s your book, your baby, something you’ve put your heart and soul into, it really hurts when someone doesn’t jump up and down and absolutely gush about how much they want to name their firstborn after you.

Nowadays, I think better advice would be to take the energy spent on fretting about book reviews and pour it into connecting with other authors, or promoting your book, or finding people who love it. It’s okay to feel badly—because it hurts. And then it feels really good to turn that hurt into something that’s totally productive and sells more copies.

You have recently been touring the Midwest on a book tour. How did it go?

So! Awesome! I went to fabulous and friendly independent bookstores like the Red Balloon in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Northern Lights in Duluth, Minnesota, and I was able to drop in on some book clubs as well.

The thing that’s so great about book tours is meeting people in person who have read what you wrote and say that it resonated with them in one way or another.

Also really cool? Is seeing copies of your book stacked along the bookshelf alongside other authors. It makes being published so totally real. It also makes the other parts of a self-funded book tour (sleeping in the lumpy bunk-bed of a friend’s daughter, eating McDonald’s, spending your life’s savings on gas) totally worth it.

The online writing culture can be filled with both positivity and negativity. What is one piece of encouragement or positive advice that you can give to burgeoning writers?

Some people are born to write. And some people are very, very good at their craft the moment their pen touches paper. The planets align, the heavens open, and light shines upon their brilliant prose.

Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

True, I love to write—and becoming a writer was the only thing I ever wanted to do when I grew up. But here’s the truth: It’s taken me a long time to get to that place where my writing can be stomached by anyone but me—and maybe my parents.

I know I’m a writer. I know that I’ve come a long way. But sometimes I pick up a book and my heart despairs a little bit because it’s so astoundingly good, and I realize I might never in my life write like that.

It’s a spectrum, see? Some people, like me, have the writing bug bad, and it’s only through great struggle and practice that we ever get to the place where our stuff is any good. Other people have the bug and just—well, their talent scale might be dipping a bit more in the red. Their work is just really freakishly awesome right off the bat.

If, like me, you’re on the “great struggle” side of the spectrum, then I say keep at it, and don’t stop writing. Also, read like there’s no tomorrow. I truly believe my writing has been greatly helped by the fact that I read good books, especially good YA!

What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I am currently editing my second novel, PROMGATE, with Putnam, the same folks who published DONUT DAYS. The book centers around the fallout when a pregnant teen is elected prom queen in a small Midwestern town. It’s loosely based on events that happened in my Wisconsin high school when I was a student there, and it’s due out in summer 2011.

Are you interested in winning an autographed copy of Lara Zielin's Donut Days? If so, leave a comment below with your name, city and state, or pets name, BUT alter them to make them as donut-y as possible. A delicious but calorie-free exercise in creativity for readers and writers.

P.S. If the ID you select won't let you officially change your name, or if you don't have an ID and choose the Anonymous selection, just leave your donut-alter-ego in the comment itself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Author Reviews and Interviews

Dear readers and writers,

Due to my own interest in emerging and established authors, and my interest in sharing what I learn with others, I have begun contacting certain writers whose books I have read, or who have an interesting story, to request interviews that I will be able to post periodically. If you know (or are) an emerging author who would like to be interviewed, please contact me through my profile email on this blog.

With that said, please check out To Write and Publish tomorrow for an interview with debut author Lara Zielin!

Monday, October 26, 2009

You are a Writer, and other positive stuff

Today I was reading Janet Reid's most recent post, Less than Zero, she railed about a person whom she had met at a conference who referenced himself as not being a "real writer" because his novel was published through one of those "book printing mills." I'm not sure if he's referencing self-publishing, vanity publishing or what here, but the point is that because he wasn't published by a larger, traditional publisher, he felt that he didn't qualify as a "real writer" yet, even though he'd written and published a whole novel!

I love Janet's response: "Don't let anyone, particularly some snotty so-called publishing professional, demean this achievement. You've written a novel = you're a writer."

The reason this particular post struck me was because too often the online blogosphere (and real world) devolves into negativity. Writing is TOUGH world; anyone reading this blog knows that. Sometimes, traditionally published writers or publishers will tear down self-published writers as a whole. Because there is a lot of poor writing that gets self-published, they'll stereotype all self-published writers as second-rate writers- even in the midst of this ever-changing publishing world! Sometimes, you'll see people who have written and published a novel saying that you're not really a writer until you've published something in some form.

Here's food-for-thought: Emily Dickinson published NO poems during her lifetime. None. Nada. Nil. She wrote poems for herself, shared some with family or friends, and after she passed away, her neatly-written and bound collections were found, and the world discovered this now canonical writer. Was she a writer before she was published? If a tree falls in the world and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I say YES!

If you write regularly, whether for private or public consumption, for free or for profit, if you love fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, and you try to create your own fluent, concise, florid, creative, or purely functional words, you ARE a writer!

And if someone wants to nitpick with you before you've been published, traditionally published, or met some other goal that hangs menacingly over your head threatening to validate or invalidate your status as a writer, remember Richard Bach's words, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Backword Book Contest Winners

Okay . . . I'm a little late on this one, which is doubly embarrassing since I'm one of the winners- THIS is evidence of how crazy my life's been lately!

The Backword Book Contest winners for blog entries on self-publishing was published Oct. 2nd. There are 13 awesome entries listed. Check them all out, including my original entry if you care to.

Backword Book Contest Winners

Weekend Inspiration

A brief post, yet again, but I am taking time in this crazy schedule to pass on inspiration and advice for writers.

Earlier this week I saw a tweet (I can't even remember who now!) about a fabulous compilation of "best" blogs for writers. The link below contains a top ten list, advice for aspiring writers, fiction writers, poets, those looking for improvement, publishing advice, and more. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thinking is Writing

While planning out assessment for my students' creative writing, I came across a great statement on thinking and writing in the book, Creating Writers by Vicki Spandel. She cites Donald Murray from A Writer Teaches Writing as saying, "The most important writing takes place before there is writing--at least what we usually think of as writing: the production of a running draft. Writers write before they write" (17, 132 in Spandel).

What a true but interesting comment to contemplate. Often, writers lament, "I didn't get to write today" or "I only wrote for this many hours or this many days this week." But what was going on during the time that you were not typing or handwriting away? Were you contemplating what to write next? A new idea or a new chapter? A revision of something you were working on? According to Murray, this is still writing.

Parallels to the above ideas can be made with a variety of writers. Aleksandar Hemon, a National Book Award finalist (2008), finalist for numerous other awards and a Guggenheim recipient (2003) once said at a writers conference that he doesn't literally write every day, but he reads or writes everyday, and to him the reading is a form of writing because reading informs his writing.

Every writer knows that each writer has his or her own way of brainstorming, drafting, revising, writing down a story. John Lacombe, whose debut novel won the 2009 Hollywood Book Award, has said that he brainstormed and drafted the majority of the plot in his head before sitting down to write, and that this is the process that works best for him, whereas other writers will say that they enjoy sitting down to write without knowing where the plot will go- and thinking about the story and characters during or after writing (for revision).

Whatever your personal case, it's important to remember that thinking, and even reading, can be considered part of writing. For those days when we don't make it the computer or paper, instead of mentally punishing ourselves, we can remember that thinking, reading, and experiencing life are all necessary parts of writing, and take joy in the life of a writer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Herta Muller Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

I don't have too much time to comment right now as my work life has been crazy lately, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to note the most recent Nobel Prize in Literature winner: Herta Muller. Check out the Nobel Prize bio for Herta here. Check out an interesting reader response to the current award winner in the New York Times here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Twitter Ghost Story Contest

Just in time for Halloween: The most amazingly fun contest from Stuart Neville, the author of the upcoming (in the US) novel, The Ghosts of Belfast. Write a scary or funny ghost story in 124 characters or less on Twitter. Here are the contest details.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Author Cruise?!

Is this possibly the greatest idea for authors EVER??? Why can't I be the one writing right now instead of my S.O.? Or why can't he have enough money for this (still waiting for the next novel to be written and to gain an agent and an advance)?

Well, I can't partake yet, but Publetariat (the website I plugged a week or so ago) is sponsoring the first INDIE AUTHOR WORKSHOP CRUISE!! And yes, it's tax-deductible as work.

This idea is sick, and I mean that in the contemporary slang way of saying really, really cool.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plot or Character?

With Dan Brown's recent release of The Lost Symbol, there has been the usual flurry of fans and haters ready to comment. One of the most interesting that I've read is John Grisham's recent supportive comments in light of Philip Pullman's negative ones. Check out this Telegraph article to read them.

One of the interesting comments that Grisham makes that rings true for other thriller writers I know is the focus on plot versus character in an unapologetic, purposeful way. Truly, more literary writing does tend to focus on character more than plot. Many suspense-driven fiction has characters that lack that depth, but not necessarily without reason.

So how many of us are writing plot-driven fiction versus character-driven fiction? Do you think about it when you sit down to write? Or do you experiment with both sides? Let us know!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kindle Issues

Finally in the process of trying to convert first self-published novel into a Kindle doc. Several problems:

1) Files uploaded to Kindle do not automatically transfer all of your indents and formatting to "digital text,"or basically in a way that looks the same on your Kindle screen as it does in your computer document.

2) You cannot edit the Kindle document; you have to fix your own document, hope it works, upload it to Kindle, then preview it to see if it shows up on Kindle the way you want it to.

3) Some documents transfer better than others. PDFs do not necessarily transfer well. HTMLs are one of the best for transferring.

4) Why is the above a problem? The most revised copy of said novel that we have is only available in PDF. I converted the PDF into Word and HTML. Tons of paragraphs with varying margins. Will take a loooong time to go through and fix so that it will upload correctly. :(

5) Older, original Word file, which might be the fastest way to get onto Kindle, was found, but will still need to be meticulously read through to re-catch errors that were revised and saved to PDF. (If you're wondering why they weren't changed on the old Word document it is because a self-publishing company was making the changes and saving to PDF during the creation of the hard copy of the novel.)

Headache, headache. I've tossed it on the back burner for now while I attend to paid work. I'll be playing around with Mobi (a free computer program for converting files for Kindle). If all else fails and I want to cut mucho into profits, I may turn to eBook Architects, who apparently will convert your files for Kindle within a few hours, paid by the hour (one file usually takes between 1 and 3).

If anyone has any quick advice or experience, let me know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Publetariat- Check it out!

As a follower of thecreativepenn on Twitter, I was directed today to a wonderful post on a site called Publetariat: People Who Publish.

The post is a wonderful post to read for food for thought. It's called "Should You Blog? And If So, What are Best Practices?" The post is geared toward newbie writers (whether newbie published or still unpublished), and is a great read for those of you considering blogging or somewhat timid about the idea.

This is the second time I have clicked on an interesting link to Publetariat, so I took a bit more time today to look through the site. I recommend that readers of my blog do so as well in case it is a site you would like to follow. The group is dedicated to burgeoning small press authors and publishers, and if you go the "About" page, you will see this impressive list of contributors:

John Backes - co-founder of The Children's Book Insider

Alan Baxter - Blade Red Press

Mark Coker - Smashwords

Nick Daws - freelance writer/consultant

Guy LeCharles Gonzales - Spindle Magazine &

April L. Hamilton - author, and founder of Publetariat

Michael R. Hicks - author

Highspot, Inc. - consultants to authors and publishers

Jude Johnson - Scorched Hawk Press

Hugh McGuire - Bookoven, Librivox, earideas &

Joanna Penn - The Creative Penn

Dana Lynn Smith - The Book Marketing Maven

Joshua Tallent -

Heidi M. Thomas - author, writing instructor, consultant

Zoe Winters - author and indie publishing consultant

Reading the above list made me positive that I will be checking in with this site from time to time for some great advice!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Backword Book Contest- My Entry

For those of you who haven't heard of this through other writer-publisher Twitters, The Backword Books Blog, a collective of self-published authors, is throwing a contest in order to create more buzz/ dialogue on the very, very broad topic of self-publishing. The rules:

The rules: We want to hear your thoughts about self-publishing – a blog post about the merits of self-publishing and how it might change the face of publishing in the future. What will self-publishing look like 25 years from now, 50 years from now? How has self-publishing made strides in recent years? That sort of thing. The drawbacks of self-publishing are welcome as well, but a scathing attack on self-publishing probably isn’t going to do it for us. Basically, we want to know: What’s your opinion about self-publishing?
(Rule #2 includes making them aware of your posting- visit the original post for details.)

SOOO, here goes. There is so much I have read about self-publishing and so much to say, so I am going to limit myself to addressing how self-publishing has made strides and the drawbacks of self-publishing.

Years ago, self-publishing was viewed as a fall back for people who weren't skilled enough to be traditionally published. If you don't know how tough it is for any writer to get published, this would be a natural assumption. In addition, the fact that anyone can self-publish means that many sloppy or unskilled writers do self-publish, which reinforces the stigma of self-publishing.

The drawback to self-publishing is that the stigma has not entirely died. However, it has most definitely lessened. There are a number of authors, even if they are a minority,who have used self-publishing to gain recognition and eventually had their self-published books or subsequent books traditionally published. In my s.o.'s experience, self-publishing has helped him to gain recognition as a serious author and led to a book award that agents have said will go a long way in a query letter to influence them to look at future work.

On the downside, a self-published writer still has to do all his own marketing, which is both time-consuming and costly. Yet, many traditionally published writers who are published through smaller presses are put in the same boat. Newer authors in this situation may initially be under the illusion that all the marketing will be done for them, and struggle when the book does not get much press. For a self-published author, there is no illusion. Again, based on personal experience, what I and the s.o. have learned about marketing and networking through our self-publishing experience is not only helping now, but will continue to be a resource we will tap into when he has a future book (fingers crossed) traditionally published.

Also, as a final thought, there are plenty of writers who would like to get their ideas out there, leave stories for their families, etc., who genuinely don't care about going through the work, and ups and downs, that it would take to *possibly* become the next big seller. For people in this situation, self-publishing is exactly what they need.

I'm what I like to all a recreational poet. I don't have the time or discipline to make poetry my life. Maybe one day I will, but for now I value my teaching career; I like to fence in my spare time; and I love traveling, watching movies and good TV and spending time with family and friends. If down the road I eventually had a book of poems, but not the time or inclination to send them out again and again to journals and agents, I would definitely consider self-publishing for the joy of seeing them in print and gleaning even a handful of sales.

As for the future of self-publishing, it's not going away, but I have no idea exactly where it will go! I guess we'll just have to wait and see. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspiration for Stressed People

My week is crazy busy- is yours? I'm helping out 112 high school writers- here is my inspiration/ stress relief for the week: killer duo performer Samuel Tsui and arranger KurtHugo Schneider:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review Sites for Authors and Readers

A Twitter friend recently alerted me to an amazing resource both for self-published authors looking for book review blogs that will review their books and for readers simply looking for great blogger/ book reviewers. The site is Step-by-Step Self Publishing and this particular post contains links to MANY blogger book reviewers. While the blogs listed will review self-published books (if that is your interest), most that I checked out review all kinds of books all the time, so they appeal to any reader. Also, the site gives a descriptor for each site, as some cater to certain genres, which is also helpful to know. Have fun!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lemonade Award

I am excited to announce that follower coffeelvnmom, Jessica Brooks (Thanks, Jessica!), has nominated me for the Lemonade Award, a feel good award for blogs that show gratitude or a great attitude. Check out her blog, My Thoughts Exactly, and the posting.

My Thoughts Exactly is also a great blog for links to writing and publishing related sites and for finding links to other great blogs by authors, agents and other writing-minded bloggers. Enjoy!

p.s. My apologies for the light blogging this week- I'm back to teaching and home sick already!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beware: Publish America

Publish America has recently been receiving a lot of negative attention for being a "scam" publishing company, in the sense that they are considered by many to be a vanity publishing company, known for bad business practices, masquerading as a traditional publishing company. Read this Publisher's Weekly article for more info, or check out this dialogue on Absolute Write.

Do you have experience with Publish America or any other company that you believe readers/ writers should be warned about?

OR Can you recommend sites with more info for interested parties?

Self-Publishing on Kindle

Interesting blog entry on Kindle publishing experience from Publetariat.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Giveaways: Peeking Between the Pages

I just became aware of a great book blog through coffeelvnmom's Twitter: Peeking Between the Pages. Peeking Between the Pages has drawings for multiple free books from publishers. Check it out and see if you're interested in any of the titles!

Monday, August 31, 2009

E-Books, Kindle, Sony and Smashwords

As all you writers know, the debate and words over the future of e-books continues to rage.

This week, Electronic Alphabet reported on how eBook sales are up 149%! In addition, Smashwords, an eBook publisher, reported on their blog that Barnes and Noble will now be selling Smashwords eBooks.

Finally, JA Konrath reports on his blog about Stanza, a company that will publish eBooks in formats that can be read on multiple readers, and he discusses the future problems with companies such as Kindle who protect their business interests by preventing their eBooks from being read on machines that are not manufactured by their own company or companies with whom they have exclusive agreements. Is this really in their best business interest in the long run? In his most recent posting, he discusses his own experiences with eBooks.

While my S.O. and I work on his next novel with sights on traditional publishing, we are considering releasing his first novel on Kindle.

Has anyone out there published eBooks? Recommendations on companies? Experiences?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Twitter Recommendations

As a recent Twitter joiner, I'm interested in getting to know other Twitterers who would be interesting to follow.

Any recommendations? Feel free to recommend your own Twitter or someone else's who you follow. Thanks!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rejection: It's Not Personal

Some the info below is stuff we've all read before, but it never hurts to read it again. I think Nathan's use his personal stats really drives the point home. Read the following blog post and go to Nathan's site to see the original and reader responses.

Monday, August 24, 2009 Post by Nathan Bransford from his blog, Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent
Agent E-mail Stats
Every Monday morning, as sure as the rooster's cry (I don't actually have a rooster) I can expect to come in to 100+ e-mails from the weekend, mostly queries. I like to think of it as the Monday Deluge, and it means that if I'm going to answer all of them (and oh, I do) plus the regular work for clients and such, it can make for a bit of a hectic day.

It also explains why you may be hearing from me on the weekend: if I put in some Saturday or Sunday e-mail time it makes Monday oh so much easier. But since I was reading manuscripts this past weekend I didn't get to any queries. So: hello 100+ e-mails! Nice to see you this chilly Monday morning.

As I was working through the e-pile, it got me wondering: how many e-mails do I send anyway? Sure seems like a lot.

Well, as of today, according to Outlook I've sent 11,921 e-mails so far this year. That's just for work -- it doesn't count personal correspondence. Most are responses to queries, but it also includes e-mails to clients, colleagues, editors, you name it.

11,921 e-mails as of August 24th translates to about 50 per day, including weekends and vacation time.

To put that in perspective, let's say I worked nine hours every single day, including weekends, and didn't take any vacation or break for lunch. 11,921 e-mails translates to an e-mail every ten minutes. Somewhere in that time I also theoretically have to read manuscripts, have meetings, talk on the phone, and, you know, read the queries I'm responding to, while still maintaining that e-mail every ten minutes pace.

Oh, and in real life I really do take vacation and try to break somewhat on weekends... and thus have to work considerably more than nine hours a day during weekdays.

What does this all mean?

First of all, I'm not complaining. I love my job, even if it means I'm staring at a screen (computer, Kindle or iPhone) for the majority of my waking hours.

But here's what it means for writers: the next time you wonder why agents send form letters or why some don't respond to queries altogether... please remember these stats.

It also means that I necessarily have to make snap decisions when I'm reading queries. I don't really have time to sit down, contemplate, and absorb the aura of a query. There are tons more in line and I have to move quickly if I'm going to get through the day. So if a query is needlessly long or doesn't include key details (published authors, once again: PUBLICATION DATE AND PUBLISHER DON'T MAKE ME GO TO AMAZON ARGH) hopefully this puts into perspective why literary agents turn into lunatics about certain pet peeves that end up costing precious time.

So there you have it. I would write more... but I need to go write some e-mails.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bad Reviews . . . and Bad Reading?

So, me and the S.O. got our first fairly negative review of his book (not such a big deal after several positive reviews from independent reviewers and many positive reviews from people who have bought the book). Because it's not such a big deal in light of the many positive reviews, I don't want to dwell too much on it. Only, I feel compelled to vent a little about one thing. The author of the review was under the impression that a human character in the book was a robot and spent a large part of the review discussing this. Other reviewers for sites such as PODBRAM or The New Podler did not have this reading issue. I also have never heard from anyone who read it that he or she mistakenly thought that any character was a robot (in fact, there are no robots in the book). So, how does one take that in a review? Lol

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mad Men and other great shows . . .

Nathan Bransford's post yesterday was on the tv show Mad Men. Although he proposed much food for thought culturally, I wanted to focus simply on his emphasis on the quality of Mad Men as a show.

In the past 10 years, many TV shows have emerged as some of the best writing of their time in the film medium. In a 2009 summer podcast, Bill Simmons actually suggested that the best films of the past 10 years may not be movies per say, but some of the TV shows, such as The Sopranos, The Wire, etc., which have graced certain cable channels.

What TV shows are you addicted to for the writing? Or for the art? Or both?

On a related note, I have noticed that the intros to some shows have gotten arguably more artistic than in the past. Are there any intros that blow you away? (Mine are Dexter, True Blood and Mad Men)

Monday, August 17, 2009


A little nervous here . . . I am officially on Twitter at

Are any of my readers on Twitter themselves? Or interested in following me on Twitter? If you're on Twitter or follow others on Twitter, what is your opinion of it?

I finally set up a Twitter account because it seems to be hot in the world over, the writing world not exempted. As you can see by my "twitter name" (writeandpublish), I am looking at my Twitter account as an extension of my blog, though I expect that it will take me awhile to use it regularly. I am also trying to learn the technology because I expect that, as part of the author as more than just a writer (see Nathan Bransford's recent blog on The Myth of "Just an Author"), my significant other will also be learning this technology soon . . .

Thoughts about Twitter?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conferences, Contests, etc.

Today I'm writing to let people know about a couple of potentially great writers conferences coming up. I recently attended the Midwest Writers Conference and won't be attending another conference until next year, but if I hadn't, I would definitely be looking at one of the following two conferences:

1) The Writer's Digest Conference, Sept. 18-20. This conference has a heavy focus on publishing, both traditional and self-publishing, and marketing. It has a big line-up of speakers. It looks like a conference that would be very helpful for pre-published or newly-published writers who are still learning about the whole industry and making decisions about what is right for their books.

2) The Backspace Writers Conference, Nov. 5-6. The Backspace Writers organization is a great one to check out. Visit their website if you are looking for more community, learning and support for and from writers. Their conference caught my eye because it emphasizes an agent-author connection, and I know one author who befriended the agent who eventually became her agent at this conference.

Finally, for a fun little writing contest (25 word limit with the potential to be published in an anthology!) check out JA Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, which can be found on the left-hand column on my page. He has all the details and links for you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lara Zielin and Donut Days

If you have ever checked out the blogs in my blog list, you'll see that I follow new YA author Lara Zielin's blog. Lara is the creator of the infamous "Editing Letter" video (look it up on youtube or her own site if you're a writer who hasn't seen it yet) and also the author of the newly published (Aug. 6) YA novel, Donut Days, which I am looking forward to reading.

You can read a reader review of her novel at:

Books Love Jessica Marie is also a great site to go to to win free novels. You can see on the lefthand side of her blog that she is constantly running contests to win a free copy of different books. Check it out and have fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Great Blogs and Writing Inspiration

So . . . since I will be on vacation, and the "writer-partner" will also be on vacation for the next two weeks, I won't be posting as much on the topics of publishing and marketing. However, I will recommend Nathan Bransford's Guest Blog for today on blurbs- great stuff for burgeoning writers! It was a great entry and you can link to it on the left-hand side of my page under Nathan Bransford.

On the topic of writing, I am in New York City and I have to say I can see stories all around me. I walked through Central Park today and saw a couple lying down in the shade. The man was casually reading a book while the woman was lying on her back with her legs draped over his waist as he read silently. I surreptitiously snapped a photo and plan to use it as inspiration for 2 poems later. So, in that vein, I ask, What have you seen recently that has inspired you?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Writer Fun for the Day

In light of the recent announcement that Robert Ludlum's The Parsifal Mosaic is going to be made into a movie by Ron Howard, Andy Carvin of NPR has run a story, and contest, called, "Be Like Robert Ludlum: You, Too, Can Create An Absurd Spy Movie Title" . Go to the site of the article or the twitter and submit your own absurd movie title. Given that Andy Carvin said his favorite formula for an absurd, Ludlum-inspired title was: "The" + [Greek mythological hero OR theoretical physicist's surname] + [noun relating some type of situation], my first contribution was "The Athena Quotient." Have fun writers!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Nathan Bransford Blog Entry

Hi all! Just a reminder to check out Nathan Bransford's blog this Monday. He'll be posting my blog entry, "Working with your Partner, the Writer."

Click here for Nathan's blog

On a side note, keep your eyes open for the launching of John Lacombe's website later this week at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Website May Spark Writing Ideas

For a good laugh and perhaps some good ideas, check out Emails from Crazy People. Scroll past the first entry or so to "Damn Dams" and read from there. Some funny stuff.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nathan Bransford Contest Entry

Today I entered Nathan Bransford's latest contest for guest blogs. I wrote an entry entitled, "Working with your Partner, the Writer." I think it was a pretty good entry, but as with all publishing, winning your chance to be published can be very competitive! If I win, I'll put up a link to his page and notify readers. If not, I'll post my entry on To Write and Publish.

Update: My blog entry was chosen and will appear on Monday, August 3rd on Nathan Bransford's Blog.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Library Cold Calls . . .

In an effort to continue to build relationships with librarians and reach new fans for his book, my significant other spent today calling individual libraries in and around the Chicago area (beginning with those who had stocked his thriller), to see if they were open to booking him for events such as Q&A's, book talks, or workshops. Topics could range from writing in general to his personal experiences to publishing and self-publishing. Timing was part of the equation, as he felt better about cold calling libraries after his book won a major award. So far the results are promising: 10 events are definitively scheduled. Based on this experience, I would recommend that new authors, whether self-published or traditionally published, consider what types of events they might be able to participate in at local libraries. It's a great way to establish yourself in a community, often earn compensation, and get your book(s) out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Midwest Writers Workshop- Publishing Your Novel

The Midwest Writers Workshop ended today and it was definitely a worthwhile experience. Today's day was filled with how to write a winning query (with Diane Freed), facing the dreaded synopsis (with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe), how to do wounds and physical damage correctly with John Gilstrap, and more.

The most helpful advice I received, repeatedly, regarded the marketing of a writer who is self-published to a published agent. For those of you in this situation, here was the basic run-down I received:

1) Querying about your self-published book is probably a waste of time. It's already published. Unless it rapidly sold 8-10,000 copies, publishers won't want to look at it now, which means that agents won't want to look at it.

2) Awards count, and the success of your self-published book DOES count. If your self-published book has won awards, or you have vigorously marketed it, that is something you can add to the query letter for your next book that gives you credibility.

3) Work on the next book. Write a query for the next book. If you land an agent, sell the book successfully, you may then be able to approach your agent about re-publishing your self-published book.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Midwest Writers Workshop- Agent Speak

Today's workshop began with an agent panel with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation and Diane Freed of Fine Print Literary Management. Both were very helpful and interesting to talk to.

Diane Freed emphasized the importance of finding a good match between writer and agent.

Joanna Stampel-Volpe named 3 resources for researching the right agent for you:

GLA (the link to the GLA blog is already on this site)

Contrary to some of the debates out there, both admitted a willingness to look at and even represent self-published works (Diane has successfully represented 2 already), though Joanna said that she would be more interested in seeing the newest work by an author who already has a successful self-published novel to his or her credit, as opposed to representing the already-published work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Midwest Writers Workshop Day 1

Today's day at the Midwest Writers Conference began with an intensive session with John Gilstrap entitled, "Adrenaline Rush: Writing a Thriller." We began a positive session with these words:

No one can teach anyone to write anything.

You learn structure by watching others. (Reading other works)

You learn the mechanics of writing by writing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Midwest Writers Workshop

This week I'm getting the opportunity to learn more about writing and the publishing biz at the Midwest Writers Conference. There'll be daily updates! Tomorrow starts with a day of work with John Gilstrap- author of Nathan's Run.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Blog Alert

Okay, it's not a writing blog. But it is the blog about a girl on a journey to learn about life, health, and herself. She is an old friend of mine, has a great voice, and you just may find her blog interesting, too.

Check it out:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hollywood Book Festival- Entering Contests

When taking any book- self-published or traditionally published- one has to throw lines out in many directions to try to see what takes hold, especially new authors.

So this blog began as my arena to vent the trials and tribulations, and glean encouragement and advice from others, for my significant other and I as we journeyed toward trying to take his self-published work and make it, and him, successful in the literary world.

Today we learned of one success in our efforts. I've written before about entering contests, and we entered his book in a handful.

Today we learned that his novel, Winter Games, was the Grand Prize winner in the 2009 Hollywood Book Festival. This week he will be flown out to receive his award in Hollywood at a ceremony concluding the festival.

Hopefully this opportunity will lead to connections and contacts that can land him an agent and other publishing opportunities. We shall see . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Author Blogs Do You Enjoy?

In the vein of my own blog, I'm always interested in discovering new blogs by authors, agents and others in the literary field. So my question to readers- what blogs do you follow? Please post responses and links!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Querying from the Publisher's Perspective

Have you ever considered querying a publisher directly? Although you will have a higher probability of success working through an agent, some people are successful submitting directly to a publisher. The following advice is from the blog Editorial Anonymous: A Blog of a Children's Book Editor:


The Autobiographical Portion of Our Program

When submission guidelines ask for a bio of the author to be included in the submission packet, what are editors looking for in general? I have no previous publications to list in the bio, I'm still trying to get that first publication.
1. Don't be cute. At this stage, the bio is about information, not personality. (The bio that eventually goes on your book's backflap might have some touches of personality, but that's later.) So don't tell me you're a "former kid" or that while you're not an expert on a subject, you have "a lot of theories" about it.

2. Don't be weird. Discretion is the better part of valor. You're making a good first impression, so don't over-share. If you're a mother, it's ok to say you're a mom and leave it at that. If you're a mother of seventeen children (twenty-two if you count your husband's other wife's kids), then it's ok to say you're a mom and leave it at that.

3. Try not to veer off topic. I really don't care how many pets you have. Or their names. Or their recent surgeries.

4. Tell me if you are a teacher (not a homeschooler), a librarian, a bookseller, or if you work in publishing. I do not care if you are a nanny, professional clown, swim coach, or ventriloquist. I don't care if you're a fricking play structure-- it's not about how many children you come in contact with, it's about how many children's books you come in contact with.

5. Tell me if there's anything that will help you market the book-- a blog, a lot of experience giving entertaining presentations, whatever. Keep this to the things that will look good on paper-- if you happen to have a cousin with a van/loudspeaker setup, you're going to have to talk us through how driving through the city streets broadcasting "Come And Sit On My Lap and Other Stories! A Magical Trip to the Funny Spot!" is going to help, and that's a conversation for later, possibly with our lawyers.

6. If you are writing nonfiction, tell me if you're a specialist in the nonfiction topic you're writing about. Do not tell me you're in insurance if your manuscript is about caterpillars or teddybears. And if your manuscript is about insurance, well, your manuscript had better not be about insurance.

7. Tell me about your previous books published at houses that paid you for your work. If there aren't any, say "I am not previously published."

8. If you can't say anything else, tell me what inspired you to write about this subject, while strictly adhering to rules (1) and (2). Do not tell me that writing about unicorns is your "dream vision." Do not joke that the idea for your novel about mail bombs came to you after a particularly vexing experience with a publisher's submission process. Do not tell me you're writing about china dolls because you have a collection of 379 of them from around the world and they line the walls of your writing room and with them watching you, you "never have to feel alone."

As I have said before, every query, every cover letter, every submission, is really just trying to get across two big things: (1) How great your manuscript is. (2) What a yahoo you are not.

If you can get those two things across, you don't really have to worry about anything else.

Link to original posting:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sarah Rees Brennan- Author to Watch

As I work to teach myself about writing and the publishing industry, I am always interested in finding new blogs that are interesting/ entertaining to read and also informative. The most recent blog I've discovered is that of Sarah Rees Brennan. She is a longtime writer from Ireland who is finally having her first novel published- The Devil's Lexicon. She writes a blog that has had a popular following for some time, though I must say her archive may be thin right now as her blog was recently hacked and erased (see Pub Rants blog today). She has rallied though, took back control of her space with help from tech-saavy friends, and is continuing to write. You can follow her journal as she talks about getting this first novel published.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kindle and E-books

One of the hot topics in the publishing industry recently has been what the impact/ effect of Kindle, Sony Reader, and other e-book technology will be. JA Konrath wrote what, to me, seems to be the most interesting and eyebrow-raising response to the technology yet, especially since he uses his own numbers in the debate.

Check out his post below and let me know what you think.

Writers: If you are unpublished or self-published, have you considered publishing your book through Kindle or other e-book technology? What are the pros and cons that you see?
Also, if you have read any other interesting commentary on this subject, please share!

Friday, May 29, 2009

This week in writing and publishing . . .


Check out JA Konrath's latest blog, with 7 pieces of advice for writers. Great ideas- thanks JA!


Agents' blogs are all abuzz (and off-kilter) this week due to the BEA (Book Expo America) conferences. The blog that I have found the most pertinent in terms of real, applicable advice for writers comes from Agent Kristin of Pub Rants. Check out her blog for advice on how to get agents to keep reading your writing and what makes them stop reading.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cafe Press- book-related products

I recently saw one new author turn to Cafe Press to create online t-shirts, mugs, and other paraphernalia advertising his book. I'm tucking this idea into the back of my head for possible future use. Cafe Press has free basic packages that allow you to create stuff with your logo or advertisement that can be sold online. For a yearly payment of around $70, you can do a premium package with them that has more design choices than the basic package. Cafe Press could be an option for those of you with your own website who could link it to your own "shop" on Cafe Press's site, especially if you have written something that has creative catch phrases, or you have fans, friends, or family who might enjoy items with tag phrases from your books. Little cost to you, some profit, and some "free" advertising.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Guys Lit Wire and Library Talks

In the infinite search to expand my own knowledge (and help others) about literature and/or the publishing industry, I came across a fantastic new blog that I will now be following. It is called Guys Lit Wire, and it focuses primarily on YA (young adult) literature geared towards boys, a niche that is often hard to fill. Check out this site for some great book reviews, links, and insight into literature for boys- great for those writing for that population or for high school/ junior high teachers.

On a personal note, John just completed a small New Hampshire tour. While he sold well at a signing at a Borders, this appearance proved a little uncomfortable for him. As an author who is not yet widely known, he couldn't draw people in merely on his name. Although some advertising was done, he found himself sitting in the Borders having to play the salesman to customers, which is not a position in which he is comfortable. Far more profitable and comfortable were the book talks at libraries, where he was able to both sell books and talk to interested parties about both his writing work and self-publishing. So, for my POD or self-publishing followers, or even those who have done traditional publishing through smaller publishing, try to tap out your local or regional libraries to host book talks and promote your work in the process. You can bring copies of your books with to sign and sell after the talk.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Writers, Great Blogs, and Conferences

I recently discovered a great blog from a writer who is getting her first novel published in August. The great thing about her blog is that she really is organizing it to be a useful resource for other up-and-coming writers. Check out her blog (and her fun video: Editing Letter) at:

Also, go to this site for information on a great writers conference where you can meet with agents to pitch your ideas:

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Podler Update

I wanted to publish this comment to my previous post entitled "The New Podler" to make sure Podler's policies are clear to all readers of my blog:

Podler said...
The Podler does not charge for reviews. The site will experiment with advertising as a way to bring in some money and hopefully be able to pay reviewers who decide to join in the future.

You may also go to their website: for more information on the group, their reviews, the submission process, etc., and also look specifically at the post entitled "Policy Matters," which addressed the debate/ confusion over charging for reviews that occurred in the past week.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The New Podler

Once again, for those of you who have self-published, there are many great resources available for getting your book reviewed. It can be difficult to get a self-published book reviewed. Many reviewers are overwhelmed with standard published books already and will not want to take a chance on a self-published book. In addition, many reviewers want to review books before they are released to the public; another dilemma for the self-publisher. I have written before about PODBRAM, but today Steven Reynolds wrote a review for John's book for The New Podler Review of Books. You can check out their website and book reviews at Unfortunately, The New Podler will now be charging self-published writers to review their books. Steven Reynolds has chosen to longer write for them since that is the case, although he is also cutting back on his reviews in order to have time for his own reading-for-pleasure list! You can read many of his reviews on Amazon as well, where he is a ranked reviewers.

For those of you who have done some sort of self-publishing, I would encourage you to look into the various organizations dedicated to reviewing self-published books so that you can get some objective book reviews.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Writers, Conferences, and other fun stuff

The other day John and I had the opportunity to meet with a famous young adult (YA) writer, who was kind enough to have lunch with us and offer advice about writing, getting published, marketing, etc. She greatly encouraged John to quit looking toward self-publishing and look to get an agent. The bottom line distinction between the choice to self-publish and the choice to do the hard work of trying to get standard published still seems to be this: if you simply want to see yourself in print, and sell a few books, self-publish. If you want to make a career out of writing, go through the hard work, and failures, and rejections, until you can get standard published, because that is where you will earn money, and respect for your book. So for now, that is the future direction we are looking toward. She also recommended subscribing to the site, for a really great resource for finding agents, knowing how much writers are getting paid for books, etc.

On a related note, however, John's self-published novel peaked again at 32,000 for its sales ranking on Amazon, and at this point we're not sure why, other than by word-of-mouth success, which is great! We have been doing minimal advertising, nothing paid, only mailings (and none in the last 2 weeks), and then the usual: maintaining a Facebook Fan page, a Good Reads page, and a blog on Amazon. He does have a number of book talks/ signings in the next 2 weeks that we have advertised. Whatever the true cause, we're glad that the book has caught on and is still going strong. Hopefully this data will help us when he looks to show agents (for his next book) that he has fans and has been successful on an independent scale, and therefore would be a promising writer to take on.

Also, we are still scheduled to go to the Midwest Writers Workshop, and I am looking forward to any networking opportunities and writing inspiration that this might bring. If it gives even a bit of the inspiration that speaking with the YA author did, I will be very happy. As I have read in many places before, conferences are great places to make connections, meet agents, and bond with other writers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Viral Book Trailers

One marketing strategy that is on the radar for John and I is the making of a viral book trailer for his book. More and more authors are taking advantage of the internet and the popularity of short online videos to advertise for their books. Videos play like a movie trailer, but advertise for the book.

Recently, I saw a viral trailer for the young adult writer, Simone Elkeles. She made her first two with a friend, using a computer program, but for her third hired a Chicago director. In order to make the video "viral", she knew she had to make the video somewhat humorous, so it's almost a parody of her book, but it is fun and is taking off. To see the trailer, go to this site on youtube, or her website:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Writers Conferences

One great way to meet agents, expand your writing skills, and network/ bond with other writers is through writers conferences. This year, John and I are trying out the Midwest Writers Workshop in Indiana, which has an amazing selection of workshops and opportunities. I encourage people to check it out, or let me know if you have been there/ know about it.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Over the weekend, at a bbq of all places, I learned about a most interesting site that I will definitely be checking out with John, my author, and that I would highly recommend to authors and aspiring authors.

It's called Podiobooks, and it is a site where authors can upload podcasts of their books for free. All you need is a good microphone and your computer. You can upload however you choose- short stories, books by chapter, new writing yet to be published, etc. It's a great advertising mechanism or way to "get the word out", and you can also track who is following your podcast!

The site is

Chocolat- latest Good Reads Review

Here is a link to my latest amateur book review for Chocolat, which I read in 2000, but just added to my growing Good Reads arsenal:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Goodreads Review of Anticancer: a new way of life

On, I recently posted a short review of Dr. Servan-Schreiber's Anticancer: a new way of life. My book reviews on Good Reads tend to be short blurbs, as I consider them social, personal reviews more than professional reviews, but I am posting the link for anyone interested in reading a review of this fascinating health/ lifestyle book, and interested in checking out my shelf:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Library Mailings Results

One week in the results of the library mailings are paying off. Two libraries have already contacted us having purchased the book and interested in setting up Q & A sessions, signings, and/ or Self-Publishing workshops.

This is a long road, and not always monetarily rewarding, but is rewarding in terms of the work and recognition that is presenting itself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

PODBRAM Review on Amazon

I would encourage all new writers looking for book reviews to consider PODBRAM- a blog devoted to reviewing self-published books. John just received a 4-star, well-written review from one of PODBRAM's reviewers, Dr. Al Past, on Amazon. Hopefully, the review will also make it to their website:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March Madness and Envelope Stuffing

Well, we finally did it. Over today's March Madness games, we took a list of area libraries, 80 copies of a cover letter, copies of PDF's of the PR statement about John's book, and copies of a flyer, addressed envelopes, stamped them, folded the copies inside and sealed the envelope. About 2 hours of work between 2 of us, but soon about 74 area libraries will receive information on the book and a petition to add the book to their libraries and possible contact John about speaking engagements. We'll be watching Amazon numbers to see if there is an increase in sales and seeing how else this latest effort may pan out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Library mailings!

So! The library mailings are on again! John's book received a boost in sales after being listed as bestseller on his publishing company's website for the 2nd month in a row.

This weekend, on the strength of this new information, we are going to stuff envelopes for libraries, asking them to purchase the book for their collections. This is something we meant to do weeks ago, but which got derailed after other commitments prevented us, and I also had a crisis of faith in the whole self-publishing/traditional publishing industries.

So, the journey continues. We'll see what effects the mailings do. Then, on to more query letters, contests, conferences, etc. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Self-Publishing Review

New link for those looking for reviews for self-published books!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Reviews and Book Talks

The Local Author talk at the Book Cellar went well, though the group was a bit mixed. John presented with 2 authors, and one wrote on Buddhism, which meant that many questions during the Q & A had to do with Buddhism questions, rather than writing questions, though he did garner a lot of interest in the action-oriented passages of his book and their adaptability for film. I wonder if this is a common dilemma for writers on panels when they are not perfectly grouped with other authors (topically).

On a secondary note, we have been successful in beginning to get his book reviewed through some online reviewers for POD or self-published books. For those looking respectable online reviewers of self-published books, here are some that I found:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Reading

Tonight I'm very excited because John has a reading in Chicago at the Book Cellar for Local Authors. We'll see how the turnout is! Has anyone else done a book reading at a local store? How was the experience?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dealing with Frustration?

Dealing with frustration lately with your writing, the state of publishing, or the hope of getting your writing published? Check out this great blog by literary agent Nathan Bradsford. It's encouraging and helpful- you're not alone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Selling Foreign Rights?

So, the latest thing I'm interested in learning about writing is the question of selling foreign rights for self-published books. Has anyone gone about doing it before or have any advice/ agent names to contribute? Post a comment!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Healing through Writing

I read an interesting study today that got at one reason why people may blog. Cited in a fabulous nonfiction book called Anticancer: a new way of life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, a study by Dr. Keith Petrie and colleagues from the University of Auckland in New Zealand showed that that "the simple fact of writing down the most difficult events of one's life over four consecutive days increases the capacity of the immune system to make antibodies in reaction to a hepatitis vaccine" (Servan-Schreiber 159).

Of course, the wasn't about hepatitis and neither is this entry- but it is about the idea that writing about one's stresses or life events can increase the efficiency of the immune system. Getting stresses out can help. I hadn't written in a diary for decades before I began this blog, and I had never blogged. But this new journey into the world of publishing was stressful for me, and I began to think that blogging might help relieve some of that stress. I am sure this is one reason and benefit for a number of bloggers out there- particularly JA Konrath's Venting blog! :) (see this link in My Blogs List)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rejection Letters and So Forth . . .

Today we got another rejection letter, but I will say that this one stood out from the rest. It was from an agent who had loved what she saw, but her agency was divided on the manuscript and needed unanimous approval to take on a new client. Nonetheless, she took the time to explain it and point out what she thought were two of the novel's positive points- the likable protagonist and the smooth prose. I'm trying to focus on that for encouragement for future possibilities. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Publicity and Rejection

Today has been a great "writing" day. John spoke with a publicist who recognized his affable nature. Hopefully, something positive will come of it, but either way at least he got to have a pleasant conversation with a 3rd party about his book and background.

I also read a fantastic blog posting by J.A. Konrath on The Leaf Blower blog. It's on the numerous rejection letters Konrath has received over the years, and his responses to them. It is ultimately an inspiring, optimistic blog entry. The link is below:

I would also encourage viewers to check out Brian Crawford's other postings on The Leaf Blower, which is his blog. He has an interesting writing background, and I know I will enjoy following his journey as a writer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Confident Writers- a blog by JA Konrath

I loved this recent blog posting by JA Konrath. I'm pasting it here for those that might not see his blog, but I will also include the link:

Confident or Delusional?

Kissinger was wrong. Power isn't the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Confidence is.

Confident people attract others. They get things done, spending more time doing and less time worrying. Confidence fosters charisma, inspires allegiance, and demands attention.

All writers need to be confident. We must believe our work is worthy, that our efforts aren't in vain.

But what are the differences between confidence, and its ugly step-sister, delusion?

Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

Confident writers take suggestion.
Delusional writers believe their words are written in stone.

Confident writers work even when it's hard.
Delusional writers believe they need to be inspired first.

Confident writers know this is a job.
Delusional writers think this is a vacation.

Confident writers know there's a never-ending learning curve.
Delusional writers believe they've learned all they need to know.

Confident writers know when to move on, and learn from their failures and successes.
Delusional writers keep doing the same things, over and over, hoping for different outcomes.

Confident writers know luck plays a big part.
Delusional writers think there's a conspiracy against them.

Confident writers get published.
Delusion writers don't get published very often, and if they do it's not for very long.

Confident writers work within the system, even though the system is flawed.
Delusional writers work outside of the system, even though they long to work within the system.

Confident writers understand their limitations.
Delusional writers don't believe in limitations.

Confident writers understand sacrifice.
Delusional writers demand everything on their terms.

Confident writers believe in persistence.
Delusional writers believe in talent.

Confident writers believe they owe the world.
Delusional writers believe the world owes them.

Are you confident or delusional?

Chances are high the delusional people will believe they're confident, since self-awareness is in short supply in the writing community.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Have you been published by an impartial third party?

Confident writers eventually get traditionally published. Period.

Do you seek out and apply editing advice?

Confident writers know their words can always be made stronger.

At what point do you abandon a project and begin a new one?

Confident writers move on, but first they try to figure out what didn't work, and why.

Would you rather be paid or be praised?

Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check.

Do you help other writers?

Confident writers know it's about what you put in, not what you get out.

Do you understand your failures?

Confident writers don't have failures. They have learning experiences that make them stronger.

Will you be successful?

Confident writers know success is beyond their control. But they keep writing anyway, and will continue to even if success never happens.

It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.

You must believe in yourself.

But first you have to prove yourself worthy of that belief.


Monday, March 2, 2009


Today I'm home from work. John is writing his sequel. This morning he wrote back to a young writer who had written to inquire about venturing forth into the world of writing after college. I wrote back to a literary publicist I had contacted. I also reviewed an estimate that Book Masters had sent me and continued to mull over the costs and benefits of using Book Masters over other self-publishing houses. Later I received another polite rejection letter from an agent.

Doing this work without seeing any immediate payoff, always thinking about costs, and wondering if an agent will ever consider his work can be a massive headache. I feel the muscles in my face taut with tension. But I keep telling myself to be patient. There isn't a deadline for success looming over us. I've always known that success (I should say 'Big Success' since we already have had quite a bit of success) in writing is a long, long process, but it's easy to forget when you're putting so much work into it on a daily basis. I'm glad that John has me to work on the marketing and querying, etc. for the book, while he writes his books, because I can see how having to handle all of it on one's own would be a killer for the creative work of writing- the actual work that a writer wants to be doing. Kudos to all of you writers who are doing all of it or almost all of it on your own.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Book Contests and Life

So, tonight the S.O. (we'll call him John) and I were supposed to stuff envelopes to send to libraries. The envelopes were going to contain a recent press release about how his book had been a top seller for his publisher, AuthorHouse, give a bit of a background on him, and ask them to buy the book for their library. However, we both had busy days, did a lot of other work, and now it looks like that mailing isn't going to happen. We're putting it off until tomorrow. Hopefully, it will happen tomorrow- this is the difficulty when you're doing all the marketing, selling, and writing on your own- doing it in the middle of your real life, especially when there is no pay.

In the meantime, I found out that my entry of John's book into the New York Book Festival was received, and I was notified of other contests taking place for self-published books. See the links below if you, too, are interested in them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

I'm a little more relaxed about the issue of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing than I was a few days ago, though I still have a number of questions floating around in my mind. My S.O.'s self-published book hit a record high again on's sales rankings with a rank of 39,000. My only frustration with these rankings is that we never know why the book rises and falls. Was it a result of certain marketing efforts on our part? If so, which ones? Is it word-of-mouth? If so, how do we take advantage of that?

In the meantime, I found some helpful articles on about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. Below is the link, for those interested:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Venturing Forth . . .

This is my first blog. Ever. I've read other people's blogs before, thought about the idea of blogging, but never had an inclination to blog in the past. What suddenly motivated me to start was a new experience that proves to be a long, long journey. The newness of the experience, including my lack of complete knowledge about this realm, and my desire to learn from others and connect to others going through similar experiences was the impetus for creating this blog. So here I go.

My Significant Other is a new writer. 'New' in the sense that he has not yet published through traditional publishing houses or literary magazines. He wants to make a career out commercial fiction writing. He has self-published his first novel, is working on his sequel, and I am trying to learn and do everything possible to help him succeed.

So far I have taught myself about query letters, proposals and am learning about self-publishing, POD, and other types of publishing. My S.O. self-published his first novel through AuthorHouse in order to see it in print and keep himself motivated to keep writing. We've been fairly successful with feedback on the book, and, I say this trying my best to put any bias aside, I have been an avid reader all my life (even majored in English), and it is a good book. I know that there are very different opinions about self-publishing, and I still question whether or not doing so with this first novel was the best decision. However, it's done now and I see my job as doing what I can to help promote the novel and help my S.O. to eventually transition into traditional publishing. We've done mailings, set up a blog on Amazon, set up a Facebook Fan Page, and hopefully will have a website soon. Things are going well, but I'm always looking for the next step.

Recently, I was advised to look into switching our distributor from AuthorHouse to Book Masters, Inc., which is not a print-on-demand distributor. If anyone has any advice to offer, please post.

I look forward to learning from others and responding to dialogue of any kind.