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!