Posts Tagged With: Irene Watson

Article: Mind Discipline for Authors: How to Find Time to Write ; Irene Watson @bloggingauthors #mwn

Expert Author Irene Watson

Finding time to write is the biggest difficulty and complaint I hear from authors. It is even a bigger problem than procrastination. In fact, I think procrastination is simply the result of not finding time to write.

The real problem is not lack of time to sit down and write. The problem is that when we do sit down before the computer, we procrastinate because we don’t know what to write, and we don’t know what to write because we haven’t spent any time thinking about writing before we sat down. After all, it’s not easy to pump out a few thousand words just because it’s the hour when you’re supposed to write, and it’s not easy to spend that time thinking about what to write when a blank screen or page is staring at you screaming, “Fill me!”

When is the real best time to write? When you’re not writing. Or let me put it another way: Whenever you can find time to think about your book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But if I can’t find time to write, how will I find time to think about my book?” But we all have plenty of time to think about our books. In truth, time is all around us, and the real problem is that we simply haven’t learned to discipline our minds. Here’s a case in point. The author Agatha Christie managed to write something like eighty novels. Granted, she came from a well-to-do family and lived at a time when women weren’t supposed to work, other than doing housework, so you might think she had time, and I’m sure she learned to set aside time regularly to do her writing, but when did she say was the best time to write? She is often quoted as saying, “The best time to plan a book is while you are doing the dishes.”

Christie might not have had a pen in hand while she was washing and rinsing and wiping plates and glasses, but she had a mind that was able to function while her hands were busy. And truthfully, most great books are written as the result of an idea, as the result of taking the time to think about your book. Considering that Christie is the world’s all-time bestselling author with 2 billion books sold, who are you to argue with her?

I firmly believe that if you discipline your mind to think about your writing whenever a few minutes of time present themselves, rather than wasting that time by letting your mind wander, you will have ideas, be able to create characters, and plot out plots for your novels, or come up with interesting topics, arguments, and supporting evidence for your non-fiction. And once you know what you want to write about and get excited about it, you’ll be able to find an hour or two a day, or even just fifteen minutes a day, to focus on getting those words onto paper.

So when is the best time to write? Whenever your mind has a free moment. Here are fifty examples of when you can discipline your mind to focus on your writing.

  1. While doing the dishes.
  2. While waiting in the waiting room of the dentist’s office.
  3. While lying in the chair at the dentist-provided your hygienist isn’t too chatty.
  4. While waiting in the line at the bank.
  5. While waiting in the line at the car wash.
  6. While in the car wash.
  7. While riding the train.
  8. While riding the bus.
  9. While driving the car.
  10. When you first lie down to take a nap.
  11. When you go to bed and are waiting to fall asleep.
  12. When you wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep.
  13. When you wake up at 5 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep.
  14. When you wake up at 7 a.m. and don’t feel like getting up yet.
  15. When you’re dusting the house.
  16. When you’re vacuuming the house.
  17. When you’re washing the windows.
  18. When you’re cooking dinner.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, http://www.readerviews.com, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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ARTICLE: Plagiarism, Copyright, & Fair Use Irene Watson @BLOGGINGAUTHORS #mwn

Expert Author Irene Watson

You love a poem you saw on the Internet and want to quote it in your book. But is that plagiarism? You want to quote a passage in a book but you’re not sure whether you need to ask permission or not. What counts as fair use and when do you need permission to use a copyrighted work?

All the time I see people stealing from other people on the Internet by reposting their articles, stories, or photographs. Before you post anyone else’s information on your website or use it in your book, you need to get permission. Yes, there are such things as public domain and fair use, but it’s always best to be safe regardless. Before you decide to use something that belongs to someone else and risk angering that person and facing a potential lawsuit, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do I really need this piece of information, poem, cartoon, or whatever it is? Will my book or website be okay without it?
2. Is this item in the public domain?
3. If it’s not in the public domain, can I use part of it under the fair use laws?
4. Can I rewrite or reword the work and then reprint it?
5. Is giving credit enough?

Let’s look at each of these questions in detail.

Do I really need this piece of information? Will my book or website be okay without it?

I can almost guarantee that in every situation the information, document, poem, cartoon, or whatever it is, is something you can do without. Why use someone else’s property to illustrate your own? Hire your own cartoonist, artist, or write your own poem. If you can’t do that, then look for one in the public domain. If you, however, absolutely want to include something that is copyrighted, then be prepared to pay for it. You will need to contact the owner or his or her heir for permission, and you will doubtless have to sign some sort of document promising you will only use it as you are given permission to do so. You will also usually have to pay to use it, especially if it is for commercial purposes, such as in a book you plan to sell, and you’ll usually pay dear for it-in the hundreds of dollars or more is not uncommon. At that price, do you really need to include it in your book or on your website?

Is this item in the public domain?

Just what constitutes public domain? It varies by country and by the kind of work it is. Today for authors, copyright in the United States is for life plus 70 years, so if I were to die tomorrow, it being the year 2012, anything I write would be copyrighted until 2082. However, copyright laws were less stringent in the past so some works may have shorter copyrights that have expired. As a rule, if an author or artist has been dead since 1941 or earlier, you’re probably safe, but it still never hurts to investigate. Furthermore, while an old work like “Don Quixote” may be in the public domain, that doesn’t mean a modern translation of it is.

What counts as fair use?

If a work is not in the public domain, a lot of the time you can still use a small part of it if appropriate, such as a quote or passage, usually not to exceed a page. That said, a short work like a poem cannot be used in its entirety despite its short length because you will be using the whole work, but you might be able to quote a verse or stanza from it. Even so, in such cases it is best to play it safe and ask for permission to quote from the work in your book or on your website. What constitutes fair use depends on many circumstances including: the purpose of its usage, whether it is commercial or charitable, whether the quote is used to promote the work such as in a book review, or whether your use of it will harm sales of someone else’s book because you provide too much information from it.

To go direct to the source, here is what the 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites as examples of fair use:

“quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.” (source: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html )

There are always fine lines that exist in using someone else’s work. Even if you are sure it falls under fair use laws, if it’s not in the public domain, it’s best to ask for permission to use the work, and if that seems impractical, it is always best to consult an attorney.

Can I rewrite or reword the work and then reprint it?

You may paraphrase a work by giving a summary of a basic idea, provided you give credit to the source, but you may never rewrite someone else’s work and pass it off as your own, or even as theirs when it is rewritten. And even when you paraphrase an idea, it is still someone else’s idea (intellectual property) so you must give credit where it is due.

Is giving credit enough?

No, it’s not enough to give credit. You need permission to reprint as well, unless as noted above, it is in the public domain. You must always give credit to the owner, whether it be an author, publication, artist, another website, etc. It is usually sufficient to state who is the original creator or copyright holder of the work. For a poem, provide the title and the author’s name. For a passage from a book, you can state, “George Smith states in his book ‘My Brilliant Ideas,’ that:” Depending on your own book or website, you may want to consult a style manual for how best to cite a source. “The Chicago Manual of Style” is the preferred style manual to use for most books, although others exist depending on the kind of book you are writing, such as the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association” (APA style) or the “Christian Writers Manual of Style.” If you do receive permission to reproduce copyrighted material, make sure you ask the owner how you are to cite that permission to reprint the work.

Always find out if a work is copyrighted and always give credit where it is due. Then you will avoid issues of fair use violation, copyright infringements, and plagiarism that can later come back to haunt you.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, http://www.readerviews.com, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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ARTICLE: Simple Networking Tips for Frightened Authors Irene Watson @bloggingauthors #mwn

By

Expert Author Irene Watson

Few things frustrate me more than authors who give up on their dreams. They’ve always wanted to be an author, and they’ve finally written a book. They’ve done everything right from doing research to having the book professionally edited and having a beautiful cover designed. They’ve even built a website and had the book listed at online bookstores. But then the trouble starts.

All these activities they’ve already done can be done from the comfort of their homes. That’s part of the problem. Up to this point, these authors haven’t had to go out into the public eye or even had to pick up the phone to talk to people.

When you meet these authors and ask them how their book sales are going, they will tell you, “Slow, but I’m not good at marketing.” And they will have a resigned air about them, sadly accepting failure. At times, I have suggested to such authors to join a publisher or writer’s organization so they can learn how to market their books, to which these authors have told me, “I don’t go to conferences. Those are just social gatherings.” Obviously, they feel more comfortable staying home, not meeting anyone, and not selling books. “I don’t want to schmooze,” they will say. Sorry, authors, I hate to tell you this, but here goes: If you don’t schmooze, you lose.

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How to Create an Effective Author Platform via Irene Watson @bloggingauthors

Expert Author Irene Watson

Every author needs an author platform to stand upon if he or she is going to get media attention. No, an author platform is not a box to stand on, but it will help an author to rise above his peers and separate the experts and credible authors from the amateurs. An author platform is more like an enhanced resume that provides your credentials and helps publishers and the media take notice that you are a professional, you have experience, you are good at promoting yourself and promoting your book and topic of interest without being self-serving, and overall, you know what you are doing.

The benefits of having an author platform are many. It will help you to get noticed and to appear as an expert to publishers, the media, and readers. Think of the author platform as your credentials. It should be an ever-evolving document or list of your accomplishments, marketing successes, and strategies for continuing to promote yourself and your work.

Following is a list of the qualifiers (proof you are a notch above others) that you should include in your platform. Remember, you should have the vast majority of these in your platform. It’s not sufficient just to have a website, although that’s a starting point:

· Website:Your website should include at least the following pages: Home, About the Author, Buy the Book, Your Blog, and a Media Kit page. Anything additional such as interviews, FAQs, or simply fun pages with games or quizzes, or additional stories or information about the book is a plus.

· Prior Publishing Experiences:Not just a list of books you’ve published, but your success stories-sales numbers, awards won, numbers of printings or editions, etc.

· Speaking Engagements:A good thing to do is keep a journal or log of every event you do, from speaking to the local rotary club to presenting at a national conference on your book’s subject. Publishers and the media want people who are not afraid of public speaking.

· Workshops: Have you facilitated or participated in any workshops relevant to your book or topic?

· Attendance at High Profile Conferences, Events, Workshops:Even if you were not a leader at an event, showing you attended is proof you are serious about staying current on your field of study and changes in the media and publishing worlds.

· Your Online Presence: How do you reach out to readers online? Your author platform includes your blog, newsletter, email lists, social networking, podcasts, videos, and online publications such as articles and book reviews.

· Readings and Book Signings:How frequently do you engage the public face-to-face in promoting your work? Where have you had book signings, readings, or participated in group author events?

· Online Forum:Do you have a way to engage your readers online? It could be a Facebook page for your book, a discussion group on your website, or a listserv group on your topic.

· Coaching/Consulting:Have you been a coach or consultant in your field of expertise on an individual level or for any organizations in need?

· Memberships:What professional organizations do you belong to relative to your topic and to publishing? How involved have you been with these organizations, helping to coordinate an event or serving on the organization’s board?

· Media Press Kit:Your press kit should be available for download from your website for the media’s perusal as well as be in a format you can mail. A press kit should include a press release for your book, a sales sheet, your book cover/image, an about the author page, testimonials or reviews of your book, and a copy of your book or a sample chapter at least, depending on whether it’s on your website or you are mailing a copy.

· Traditional Media Appearances:Any television or radio appearances you’ve made, as well as being interviewed or featured in magazines and newspapers.

· Internet Media Appearances:Have you been a guest on someone else’s blog? Have you been interviewed on Blog Talk Radio or other Internet radio podcast shows?

· Publications:Beyond books, have you published articles or stories in magazines, newspapers, or anthologies?

· Proven Contacts:Who is paying attention to you as an author? How many followers do you have on social media sites? Who is commenting on your blog? What is your website traffic? How many people are on your email list? Who is “Liking” your pages, and how many reviews are you getting posted by readers at online bookstores?

· Target Audience:Who is your target audience? What connections do you have with them, what kind of proven track record do you have, and what plans do you have for future interactions?

It may seem like having an author platform is a lot of work, but if you simply keep track of everything you do and you are actively promoting your book, it will be more like keeping a diary of your experiences. Of course, you have to build the website, go to the conferences, participate in events, but it is all fun and worthwhile if you are passionate about your book, and your passion will set you apart from other authors.

Today, an author platform is less about proving to a publisher that your book deserves publication and you will help market it. While you can still use it to find a publisher, it’s more about getting media attention, whether you are a self-published or traditionally published author. Your platform can be what convinces the media to interview or feature you, which in turn will make readers take notice and buy your books.

Here are some of the benefits to be derived from having a prepared author platform:

· Proves an author’s visibility and credibility as a professional author.

· Provides recognition and expertise that will make the media take notice and give you future publicity.

· Reflects that an author is authentic and not simply self-serving-all your activities have not been solely hard-selling of your books, but also participating in information-sharing and in helping others, such as participants at events and conferences.

· Allows the media and others to make a quick decision about your expertise when they need an expert for a story, a guest for a radio show, or a speaker at a conference.

Think of your author platform as your enhanced resume and your credentials. Constantly working to improve your author platform and to have it ready when it is needed will increase your chances of getting attention, becoming known by the media, and ultimately, selling more books.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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ARTICLE: Trying to Sell an Old Book: Book Reprint No No’s by Irene Watson @bloggingauthors #mwn

Expert Author Irene Watson

Books have a short shelf-life. Most bookstores will only keep a book on the shelf for a few months; if it doesn’t sell well by then, they send it back to the publisher. With a million-plus new titles being printed every year, it’s hard to make a book competitive.

That said, giving up after three or six months on trying to promote a book can be a big mistake. Your book’s life has only just begun at that point. It takes time for people to read a book and begin to spread the word about it. Many a book has not sold well its first year, but then suddenly, it becomes extremely popular, so don’t give up on a book’s promotion just because it’s a few years old. Promoting an older book may turn out to be rewarding, provided you do it honestly. Here are some mistakes to avoid in trying to get new readers for your older title.

Copyright Date:One mistake authors make in trying to promote an old book is to give it a new copyright date. For example, if a book were first printed in 2004, an author might reprint it with a 2012 copyright date to pretend it is a new book. It is dishonest to pretend a book is new when it is not. Instead, the copyright should remain the same and it should be listed as a second (or later) printing in the current year. Honesty is always the best policy, and if a reviewer or book contest catches you passing off an old book as new, it could ruin your reputation and chances of them giving attention to your future books.

Second Edition vs. Second Printing:While changing the copyright date is a mistake authors should know better than to make, a lot of people are confused by the terms “second edition” and “second printing.” A second printing is when your first printing runs out and you reprint the book without making any significant changes to it. (Insignificant changes such as fixing a few typos are acceptable.) By contrast, a second edition implies that the book has new material. Most novels will only be second printings unless the author makes severe changes to the plot, which usually isn’t a good idea anyway. Better to write a new novel than to try improving one that wasn’t very good and didn’t sell in the first place. Non-fiction books, by comparison, frequently do and should come out with second and third editions because they are updated as new information becomes current. “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide” comes out with a new edition every year, and people frequently will update by buying the new edition because their 2009 edition doesn’t list the hundreds of movies that were added for the 2012 edition. Similarly, “Writer’s Market” has a new issue every year to update lists of publishers for authors seeking publication. In the case of new editions, the cover should clearly state something such as “2012 edition” or “Revised and Expanded Second Edition” and additional taglines might include, “over three hundred new movie entries added” or “New Material: John Smith’s 30 Days to a Slimmer You Program.”

Finally, for book collectors (if you should be so lucky as to write a book that becomes collectible) a lot of confusion results when second editions and second printings are not noted on copyright pages yet printed books have small differences, leaving people asking which is the first and which the second printing.

New Titles:Nothing will make your loyal readers angrier than for you to reprint your book under a new title without any indication it’s a reprint. In my opinion, you should never change your book’s title. Spend considerable time deciding on a title and making sure you truly have the right one, and then stick with it forever.

Authors may think they will attract new readers by changing the title. For example, an author might decide his book “My Journey to Jupiter” didn’t sell because people thought the title was boring, but he thinks they’ll buy it if it’s republished under a more enticing title like “How I Met My Hot Alien Wife.” Yes, the second title might grab more people’s attention, and as a result, the author might sell more books, but what about the loyal fans who see that book title listed and think it’s a new book? They buy the book only to begin reading and realize they were tricked-they’ve read the book already. And even the people who bought “How I Met My Hot Alien Wife,” if they like the book, are likely to go looking for the author’s other books and could end up buying “My Journey to Jupiter” and equally become disgruntled.

If you are going to change a book’s title, make sure you destroy all unsold copies of the first version; recall them from the stores and remove all listings for sale online so no one can buy the old version. And be honest with your readers by printing on the new cover “Originally published as _____________.” Agatha Christie’s publishers often reprinted her books under new titles. Her British publishers had chosen a title, but her American publishers, thinking the British title might not appeal to the American reading public, would reissue the book under a new title. Most of the time, Christie’s publishers were good about statements such as: “The Boomerang Clue” (originally titled “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?”) In this case, the author/publisher is being honest, but even so, Christie’s readers have frequently been confused in trying to keep track of which of her books they did or didn’t read-that she wrote about 100 books makes the task more difficult.

New Cover Image:Changing the cover image is perfectly acceptable for a second edition. There’s nothing wrong with giving a book a new look as long as the title remains the same so there’s no confusion about it.

I’ve seen some debates by authors and publishers about releasing a new book with two different book cover images to see whether one image will sell better than another. I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong about such a strategy, but it seems like a waste of time and energy to me since you have to pay for two pieces of art work and two separate printings. This strategy might work if you’re doing print-on-demand, but if you’re doing offset print runs, you could end up with a stack of books that don’t sell, and you’ll have to keep track of which bookstores and distributors get which copies. Too much confusion in my opinion, and yes, occasionally you’ll have a reader not discerning enough that he’ll buy both copies, not realizing it’s the same book. Better to pick one cover and stick with it, and then when you come out with a second edition in a few years, you can change the cover, or save it for a big event like the book’s 25th anniversary edition.

In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with trying to promote an old book. Just be honest with readers, book reviewers, and others that it’s not a new book. If a book is truly good, readers won’t care when it was first published, but they will care if they pay for something they think is new, only to discover they’ve already paid for it in the past.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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ARTICLE: Busting Author Myths: Avoiding Get-Rich-Quick Schemes VIA Irene Watson @bloggingauthors

Expert Author Irene Watson

Most aspiring authors I meet seem to think that all they have to do is write a book and they will become famous overnight. And many of the readers I meet instantly think I and other authors are celebrities and must be rich and famous. Unfortunately, these myths about being an author are simply that-myths. For the aspiring author, it’s best to realize at the start the reality about being a writer so the focus can be on what really matters-working incredibly hard to produce a good book. I plan to shatter a few author myths here so aspiring authors can be prepared for what they must do and face if they hope to succeed.

1. Anyone can write and publish a book-Actually that statement is not a myth, but it leaves out the fact that not everyone can write a good book. The average book takes about 400-800 hours to write, and I suspect it takes more than that when you consider time spent dealing with writer’s block and trying to figure out just what to write. Furthermore, even if you write an entire book, that doesn’t guarantee it will be a good book. It’s vitally important that authors have their books edited and proofread and they work to make the book better by getting feedback from trusted readers (preferably knowledgeable professionals and other authors, not just mom and your best friend). A good author does extensive revisions and numerous drafts. Hemingway once notably said that he wrote one good page for every one hundred bad pages. Furthermore, authors must produce a book that looks as good as any book put out by a major publisher, which means hiring a great cover artist, having a professional design and lay out the book, and paying for quality printing so the book looks completely professional. If you are up to the task, you probably can write a good book and self-publish it. But frankly, writing and publishing the book is the easy part. Selling it is where the hard work really begins.

2. Authors can live off their royalties-I know hundreds of authors, but I don’t know personally a single one who lives off his or her royalties. The vast majority of authors today are self-published, which means they don’t receive royalties off their books. They work hard to print their books, distribute them to bookstores, sell them at book signings, and then they collect their book payments. Does that sound like a way to make money? Sure, if you’re among the 1 percent of authors who actually sell more than 500 copies of their books. If you’re not, most likely you will be lucky to break even on the printing costs-and trust me, you’ll never get paid for all the hundreds of hours you put into writing the book. All the authors I know have day jobs to supplement their incomes, plus to pay for their publishing hobby-”hobby” because they don’t sell enough books to call it a true business.

And even if you do find a traditional publisher and you receive royalties, most publishers pay a fairly standard 10 percent, so if your book retails for $19.95, you’ll receive $2.00 per book at best. Furthermore, when books are sold through a distributor and a bookstore, and almost all the books are, the distributor will take its cut, usually about 55 percent, and then the bookstore wants a 40 percent cut that comes out of that 55 percent. That leaves the publisher making 45 percent off the $19.95 book, which is about $9.00 and the author’s 10 percent royalty is then 90 cents. Can an author live off such royalties? If you think you can scrape by at just above the poverty level in the United States, which for one person in 2011 was at $10,890, then maybe-but you’ll have to sell somewhere between 5,445 and 12,100 books per year to do so if you’re collecting standard royalties (and that’s selling about 10-25 times more books than the 500 copies that 99 percent of books do not achieve). Hmm, somehow living at the poverty level doesn’t sound like the rich and famous author lifestyle you imagined.

3. You can sell millions of books once you get on Oprah. Guess what. The Oprah Winfrey Show is off the air so she’s not going to call you. Even when Oprah did endorse books, it was only about one a month. And even if you got on a popular daily television or radio show that endorsed books, the networks usually produce less than 200 new episodes a year (the rest are reruns). Of the one million books published this year, what’s the chance your book will make the 200 cut?

4. Authors live fabulously fun lifestyles. The myth of the F. Scott Fitzgerald lifestyle still seems to pervade aspiring authors’ minds. Many people think they just need to write a book and they will be able to live like it was the Roaring Twenties, go to fabulous parties, dance with beautiful girls and handsome men, live like a movie star and even befriend a few stars, and do all their writing while sitting in Paris cafes. Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time concentrating on my writing in a cafe-you get interrupted and distracted so much that you can’t get any writing done. And it’s not very easy to write when you have a hangover from all those parties and your phone is ringing off the hook from all those gorgeous girls calling you. Sure, Fitzgerald lived a wild life, but think how many books he could have written if the partying hadn’t killed him at the young age of forty-four.

Facing Reality:People are largely attracted to the myth of writers as famous and glamorous. But the reality is that most true writers who stick with writing do so because they enjoy putting words together. I know of many young men and women who went to college determined to become writers. They went through creative writing programs, then never finished the Great American novel, and ended up getting jobs in the corporate world like the vast majority of people. Perhaps you will be the exception, but you won’t be if you expect it to be easy and for fame to find you. The only way to become an overnight sensation is to work hard at your craft for many years to become a good writer, and then to learn practical business skills so you can run your business, and to study marketing trends and do your best to capitalize on them so you can sell more books than the average author. Writing and selling your books is one of the hardest, most time-consuming, and often frustrating jobs out there. And don’t forget, Steinbeck called writing “the loneliest job in the world.”

But writing can also be very rewarding if you do it because you love it, celebrate each small success, and use your common sense to make good decisions for your books and your image as a writer-just remember, showing up at a book signing with a hangover doesn’t count as a good decision.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

http://www.readerviews.com/

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ARTICLE: Traditional Vs Self-Publishing: The Financial Perspective via Irene Watson @bloggingauthors #mwn

Expert Author Irene Watson

For most of its history in the last century or so, self-publishing has had a bad reputation, often because it was believed that an author who self-publishes is probably not a very good author. Most likely, the author had tried to get published by a traditional publisher, only to receive a slew of rejection letters. Rather than realizing his work was substandard, he stubbornly decided to self-publish his book. He then most likely invested and lost a ton of money to publish some second-rate books that did not sell.

That situation may have been true until a couple of decades ago. I am sure that back in those days, many good writers received rejection letters who would have loved to self-publish, but they had financial common sense and realized they could not market the books well enough to sell them.

In the last couple of decades, this situation has changed, although the perceptions have not changed among all authors. The less expensive ways to self-publish available today-due to print-on-demand technology that makes even printing one copy of a book inexpensive-have meant that authors can publish their books for very little money. E-book formats have made publishing even more inexpensive in the last few years. And the advent of the Internet has provided storefronts and marketing avenues to reach audiences so an author who is committed to learning how to use web and social media tools can sell books online without ever having to leave his home or deal with carrying around paper copies of his book.

But the old stigma against self-publishing remains. I have heard of authors published by traditional publishing houses who have snidely told self-published authors that because they self-published, they are not “legitimate writers,” and that they need to be with a real publisher if they want to have a successful large print run and have their books reach the public in large numbers. Such comments show that these traditionally published authors know less about the publishing world than the self-published authors. I daresay many a self-published author is making far more money and selling far more books now than traditionally published authors. It is even questionable whether traditional publishing is not the more foolish route to take today unless the book is published by one of the major publishing houses that really has the budget to market the book extensively.

In fact, anyone can start up a publishing company these days and publish anyone else’s books, paying out the usual 10 percent royalties. I’ve even heard some authors refuse to go the traditional publishing route, calling it a form of “intellectual theft.” After all, these traditional publishers can publish the book and sell print on demand copies that might cost them about $6 a copy for a $20 retail book. The publisher then makes a $12 profit, after paying the author $2 for the copy. Yet many traditionally published authors continue to maintain that somehow they are among the elite because they are traditionally published while they look down their noses at self-published authors. These traditionally published authors may well be throwing their money away, spending hours writing books to make someone else rich when, with a small amount of extra work, they could be making $14 for their books if they simply did for themselves what the traditional publisher is doing for them.

However, many traditional authors refuse to see matters this way because they have a misguided notion that artists are above money matters. When the debate ensues about self-publishing, and the issue of money is raised as one of the best reasons to self-publish, I have actually heard traditionally published authors snidely remark to their self-published counterparts, “It’s about being a real author and loving your art and working with an editor and publisher to create a quality piece. That’s what being an author means to me. If it’s all about the money to you, then there’s no point in us continuing this conversation.”

When people hold such attitudes, there is no sense in continuing the conversation. You can’t convince someone about something he doesn’t want to hear. Besides the fact that many self-published authors do work with editors and a group of beta readers to receive feedback before publishing their books, the bottom line is that traditionally publishing a book often can be one of the most foolish financial decisions an author might make.

Of course, being an author is not all about the money, but money does matter. Anyone who thinks money does not matter is not living in reality. A true author writes because he or she loves to write. Writing and spreading a message through your words should be the first and foremost reason why a person writes, but nothing is wrong with making some money off your art. If the average book takes about five hundred hours to write, then that is a huge time commitment. If your publisher is going to give you $2 a book when you could make $14 a book, unless you are absolutely convinced that your publisher is going to sell more than seven times as many copies as you can by being self-published, are you really making the right decision?

What if you did self-publish? That extra money you make off your book can pay for the printing of your next book. If you traditionally publish, your book is at the mercy of the traditional publisher who may decide not to publish your next book, and even to remove your first book from the market, or simply to close up shop, which leaves you basically unpublished again.

If you self-publish and you do make some money off the first book, you may need to reinvest some of that money to publish the next book so you can make more money, but you’ll still come out ahead with the first book, and the extra money might end up providing you with a nice little nest egg to help free up your time so you can write even more.

I’m not denying that many traditionally published authors have maintained their artistic integrity while being very successful with their book sales, but that paradigm is becoming less and less common. If you want to be an author, rather than look down your nose at the thought of self-publishing, acquire some good business sense and do your homework. Being an author is not only about writing, but also about being in business. If you want to be successful, you need to embrace the business end of publishing, and in business, money does matter.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Irene_Watson

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ARTICLE: Tips for Writing Good Query Letters VIA Irene Watson @bloggingauthors #mwn

By

Expert Author Irene Watson

A good query letter is not difficult to write if you remember to leave out the irrelevant. Over the years, as a literary agent and someone who publishes other authors’ articles on my websites, I’ve seen some serious mistakes in query letters that have made me quickly think otherwise about publishing an author’s work. Following are a few tips on what you should and should not include in a query letter.

Do not offer unnecessary information: If it isn’t relevant to your book or article’s topic, I don’t need to know it. Unnecessary information can include where you live, all the places you have lived, how many children you have, your marital status, why you haven’t published anything yet, anything personal like your divorce, how long you have been writing, your religious affiliation, and on and on and on. I don’t need you to tell me about where you live-I can get that from the return address on the envelope. If you’re writing a fantasy novel, I don’t need to know about your children, your divorce, or what religion you are. If you are writing an article about religion, it might be relevant to tell me about your religion, but that is not necessarily always the case. If you are writing a children’s book, telling me about your children and how they love your book is not going to convince me-of course your children love Mommy’s book.

Do not try to wow me with your experience: I don’t need a list of every publication you’ve written for and the name of every article published. Most publishers are not impressed by degrees, careers, or experiences because while those things may show that you are an expert in your field, they do not necessarily prove that you know how to write well.

Do not tell me what is wrong with your book: I can’t believe how many people will list all the publishers who have already rejected their books. If your book wasn’t good enough for them, why would it be good enough for me? You want to present your book in the best light possible so don’t mention the rejections. Similarly, don’t in any way belittle yourself or your book such as “I know the opening chapter is not that interesting, so I hope you will help me to make it more intriguing.”

Do not send query letters with typos in them: Proofread, proofread, and proofread. If your query letter has punctuation and grammar errors, trust me, most likely, so does your manuscript, so you’re hurting your chances. Yes, publishers have editors on staff, but they want to begin with someone who can write well and turn him or her into a great writer. Mediocre writers who can’t spell take a lot more effort to turn into great writers and the competition is fierce.

Do not tell me your terms for publication: It is up to the publisher to offer the terms. For example, don’t make the mistake of saying, “I am offering you the North American printing rights at a ten percent royalty while I retain the right to publish the book in Europe. Please note that my work is copyrighted.” The publisher and you will negotiate once the publisher decides to publish your book. Offering terms upfront is like going to an employer and telling him how much you want to be paid before the job interview. Stressing the copyright of the work is a defensive turnoff that makes it sound like you think the publisher is going to steal your work.

Write an engaging opening sentence or paragraph about your book: Keep the opening brief, and focus on the conflict, suspense, or cliffhanger. A bad opening would be: “Laura lives with her mother and sister in South Dakota. She is eleven years old when her Uncle George comes to visit. He brings her a present from Australia. At first, Laura is shy around Uncle George but she soon warms up to him when she sees what the present is.” In other words, we don’t need a blow by blow description of the story’s opening. Write a brief cliffhanger or something that evokes mystery or suspense, such as: “Eleven-year-old Laura McAdams never knew she had an Uncle George until he showed up on her family’s doorstep one day with a gigantic present for her. Her curiosity over why her parents never told her about this mysterious uncle was only superseded by what could be in the box that was as large as her. When it turned out to be a baby kangaroo, accompanied by an invitation from her uncle to travel with him to Australia, Laura began the adventure of a lifetime, even though her parents refused to let her go.” The second example raises all kinds of curious questions for readers: Why don’t Laura’s parents like her uncle? How does she end up going on the trip if her parents don’t want her to go? Is the baby kangaroo going along on the trip also?

Tell me briefly about your writing background: If you have never published anything, no need to mention it; your silence implies it. No need to mention you’ve written six novels all of which have been rejected and you have the ninety-six rejection letters to prove it. If you don’t have an impressive writing background, leave out that information. If you have written for a newspaper or a magazine, or have published or self-published other books, go ahead and mention them briefly. For example: “For the last six years I have written a weekly column for the local newspaper about parenting, and I have previously published my novel, Martha’s House, with Writers Press.”

Be clear who will be the book’s audience: No publisher wants to hear that your book will appeal to readers of all ages. The publisher wants to know that your target audience is girls ages twelve to sixteen, or divorced middle-aged men. To think everyone wants to read your book is to make it obvious you know nothing about the publishing industry. Remember, you, not the publisher, will be primarily responsible for marketing the book, so if the publisher is going to take the time and spend the money to publish your book, it wants to know the book is marketable and who is going to buy it.

Always be polite and professional. Do not demand anything from the publisher, such as “I wish to hear from you no later than May 1st or I will find it necessary to look for another publisher.” Instead, simply end the letter by stating, “Thank you for your consideration. If you require any additional information, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.” You will have your contact information on the letter-mailing address, email address, phone number-if the publisher feels the need to contact you.

A good query letter is necessary for getting a publisher’s attention. Before you can sell your book to the public, you need to sell it to the potential publisher so it needs to be as professional and attention-grabbing as possible. Spend time on it. Rewrite and rewrite it until it is as perfect as you can make it, and don’t forget to proofread it multiple times. Good luck!

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Irene_Watson

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Article: How to Write a Quality Book via @bloggingauthors #mwn

By

 

Expert Author Irene Watson

Some people might think that anyone can write a book review, but to write one that will help people to make an educated decision about whether a book is worth reading requires honesty, good writing, support for an argument, and an adequate description.

Following are some attributes of quality reviews. If you are someone who writes reviews or wants to be a book critic, these can be used as guidelines to help you write critiques that readers will appreciate. If you are an author, look for these qualities in potential critics so you can determine whether you want the person to read and write about your book.

Honesty: A review isn’t worth anything if it’s not honest. If a reviewer gives every book five stars, chances are he’s either not reading the books or he’s afraid to hurt the author’s feelings. Reviews should be balanced and only praise books that are well-developed in their arguments, have engaging storylines and characters, or add new information to their field. Whether or not the reviewer receives compensation for reviewing the book, the review is of no value if it isn’t honest. A critic should not be “bought,” and one who writes up a glowing and dishonest review is doing no one a service because his readers will no longer value his opinion and be angry that they spent time and money reading a sub-par book. Similarly, the reviewer who has an ax to grind and gives a book a low rating because he simply doesn’t like the author or the general topic would do better to review other books or no books at all. Bad reviews have their place; they can be a true learning experience for the author, but they can also be kindly worded.

Brief and Clear Summaries: A good book review is not a book report. It should not include a complete plot summary or a chapter-by-chapter description of the book’s contents. It may, however, describe enough of the plot to make people want to read further, such as stopping the summary at a cliffhanger moment, or it might list the main topics without going into detail. Under no circumstances should a review give away a novel’s ending, or list the concluding arguments of a non-fiction work. In short, a review should never provide so much information that the reader feels no need to read the book because he completely knows what it contains; a review should be like a movie trailer-a teaser to get people to read the book, while giving enough commentary to let the reader decide whether the subject is really for him.

Accuracy: Book reviews must be accurate, so if looking for a book critic, checking the accuracy of the person’s past reviews is the best way to determine whether the person truly reads the books he reviews. By accuracy, I mean using the correct names of the characters and spelling them properly, accurately summarizing the plot, and also the importance of proper grammar and punctuation so the reviewer appears intelligent and competent, and therefore, qualified to write the review.

Good Writing: A reviewer is a writer him- or herself. The person should have a strong command of the English language and be able to communicate well. Writing choppy sentences and having poor grammar will only make the reviewer look bad, and that will result in people not understanding the book’s value or valuing the critic’s opinion. A good reviewer will also have knowledge of what constitutes good writing and be able to judge the difference between good and bad. He or she should be widely read and be familiar especially with the subject area to be reviewed, or be willing to admit when a subject is out of his range of expertise; if the latter, he can still judge the material based upon how well he was able to follow the argument. If a reviewer is highly knowledgeable about the Middle Ages, she may be the best person to review a book on the building of Gothic cathedrals, but she may not be the best person to review a book debating evolution-that said, she can admit she is no expert on the subject, but still point out whether the book informed her and she was able to follow it. It never hurts for the reviewer to add whom he thinks would be the perfect audience or age group for the book, for example, “I think anyone interested in quantum physics would enjoy this book” or “This book is probably best suited for a young adult audience, but I think many adults will be pleasantly surprised as well by how entertaining it is.”

Supporting Statements: A good review will provide a basic argument-this book is good or bad, or has merit but with a few faults-and then support that statement with examples, such as: “Sometimes the plot becomes unbelievable; for example when the princess suddenly reveals that she has the ability to turn invisible and doesn’t explain how.” Quoting a passage from the book will help to support the statements. Quotes can be helpful to readers so they get a sense of the author’s style and the work’s reading level to determine whether they will enjoy it. Quotes can be used to provide support for a statement that the book is humorous, well-argued, or a number of other positive or negative attributes it might have. The important thing to remember is that a review is an argument so its writer has to provide support for his argument if he is going to convince people to read, or not to read, a book.

Visibility: Finally, a good review is a visible one-it will be seen by lots of readers. Before you spend money on a review or even give away free review copies of your books, make sure the review will be posted in places where readers go to find out about books. Those places might include the reviewer’s website or blog, online bookstores where the review will be read by customers, as well as print publications like newspapers or magazines, or bookseller brochures. A review is not worth having if no one is going to see it. Also, as an author, be sure to ask for permission to quote from the review in part and in full so you can post it on your website or at least link to it, and so you can quote from it on the back of your back cover and include it in your marketing pieces.

A quality review will help an author to sell books and it will make a reviewer an authority whom readers will come to respect and follow. Few things are of more benefit to an author than a positive and well-written book review.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Irene_Watson

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