Author Archives: redwingredtail

About redwingredtail

Born, raised and living in Detroit I am a soon to be published author. I enjoy writing urban paranormal with strong black women lead charaters. I currnetly work for a major airline. I paln to make writing a full time career. My first novel In The Footsteps Of A Killer is set to be released through Artistic Words Publishing this year 2015.

Article: How to Use a Short Story to Sell More Books #motownwriters

by
Clayton Noblit

Short stories occupy a bit of an awkward niche in self-publishing. It can be hard to generate revenue for a single short story published on its own, but not many authors have so many short story ideas that they could publish a collection. The upside? Short stories can be a tremendous marketing asset, and in this post we’ll explain how to use a short story to sell more books. Use the links below to skip portions of the post if they don’t apply to you.
What is a short story
How to write a short story
How to use a short story to get more readers
How to use a short story as a lead magnet

What is a short story?
There are plenty of definitions floating around, but one of our favorites is: “A short story is a work of prose fiction that can be read in one sitting—usually between 20 minutes to an hour.” – blurb.com.
There is no set maximum length, but most short stories will come in under 10,000 words.

How to write a short story
One valuable use of the short story for authors is to test out new writing styles or experiment with different literary devices.
You might be interested in writing from a different point of view, but are not sure if you want to commit to an entire novel. A short story is a great opportunity to test, learn, and still have a finished product at the end.

How to use a short story to get more readers
Ok, let’s get to why short stories can be so valuable for authors. If you already have a short story, here are some ideas on how you can use it. If you’re considering writing one, here’s why you should.

How to use your short story as a lead magnet
The handy thing about building a lead magnet is there are PLENTY of examples out there. Mark Dawson does a great job using a lead magnet to get email signups on his website.

Promote your lead magnet
So you’ve got your lead magnet set up, but in order for the magnet to pull readers in, they have to know about it. Here are a few ways to promote your lead magnet, but keep an open mind and try out any other ideas you might have. What works for one author might not work for another. If something sounds good to you, test it out!

Author website
Like Mark Dawson, putting a lead magnet on your website is a no brainer. If someone visits your site, they are already interested in your work, and if you can get their email address, you can let them know each time you have a sale or a new release.
Try putting your free short story offer on your homepage.

https://t.co/YXWaZtl5Sn

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Article: Writer’s Block: Over a Dozen Solutions to a Non-Problem Written #motownwriters

Written by A Guest Author
By Ken Finley

I was sitting in the audience of a writer’s panel at WorldCon in San Antonio when the subject of writer’s block came up. Gail Carrigher was the first to speak, saying there was no such thing. Not one writer on that panel disagreed with her. Several chimed in to express their usual response when they heard someone blaming a lack of productivity on writer’s block. Most were not very charitable.
I was delighted because – I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s an oxymoron. Writers write. Now, maybe authors and novelists might suffer from a productivity block, but writers? No possible way. If you aren’t writing, you aren’t living. So, what about those other folks – the ones that have somehow lost their way? What can those of us who are blessed with a well overflowing with verbiage suggest to help the less fortunate?

1. First – Don’t Stop
As a High School coach in Academic Decathlon, I meet a lot of bright young people who say they want to be writers. I tell them “You don’t want to be a writer. You either are or aren’t. Have you written your thousand words today?”

3. Carry a recorder
A great quote in Terry Brooks’ ‘Sometimes the Magic Works’ explains that when the muse strikes, you can’t say ‘come back later’.
The muse may not return.

13. What’s in your briefcase/purse
In today’s survivalist terms – what’s in your Bugout Bag? Unless you have a magician with an infinite bag of holding (a real treasure in Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter) your characters can’t carry everything. (If you do have an infinite bag of holding, due diligence requires a back story for how each item was acquired. Think about it.) What are you going to have them carry, what are they going to have to find, and what story links to that?

16. Ignore those who say you can’t
It comes back to what I said at the beginning about avoiding situations where you give yourself permission to not write. While I agree that you need to be practical, and make sure you have the income to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, there are several opportunities to be impractical. How do you spend your lunch breaks? I spend mine with a notebook. How do you spend your time commuting to and from work? I spend mine with a micro-recorder. Don’t take a rejection letter as permission to quit. A rejection letter, of which I have a few, is encouragement to try again. Look at your story and ask yourself what you wanted to do differently. Work it through and try again.

 

Writer’s Block: Over a Dozen Solutions to a Non-Problem

 

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Article: Writer’s Block: Over a Dozen Solutions to a Non-Problem #motownwriters

Written by A Guest Author
By Ken Finley

 

I was sitting in the audience of a writer’s panel at WorldCon in San Antonio when the subject of writer’s block came up. Gail Carrigher was the first to speak, saying there was no such thing. Not one writer on that panel disagreed with her. Several chimed in to express their usual response when they heard someone blaming a lack of productivity on writer’s block. Most were not very charitable.
I was delighted because – I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s an oxymoron. Writers write. Now, maybe authors and novelists might suffer from a productivity block, but writers? No possible way. If you aren’t writing, you aren’t living. So, what about those other folks – the ones that have somehow lost their way? What can those of us who are blessed with a well overflowing with verbiage suggest to help the less fortunate?

1. First – Don’t Stop
As a High School coach in Academic Decathlon, I meet a lot of bright young people who say they want to be writers. I tell them “You don’t want to be a writer. You either are or aren’t. Have you written your thousand words today?” Far too many of my students wander off thinking that I’m out of my mind. I’m not saying that you have to be born with an innate talent for writing to be a writer. You just have to decide you want to write and do it. Elmore Leonard in his 1982 interview with Writer’s Digest said “… The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind It out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write. …”
The single most important element of being a writer is the ability to give yourself permission to write, and never ever giving yourself permission to not write.

3. Carry a recorder
A great quote in Terry Brooks’ ‘Sometimes the Magic Works’ explains that when the muse strikes, you can’t say ‘come back later’.
The muse may not return.

4. Carry a notebook

Notebooks with pockets are also handy, but the pockets aren’t necessary. When travelling, I’ll often pick up city maps with attractions and restaurants and stuff them in the notebook for later filing.

12. Research a related topic

Even fantasy doesn’t occur in a vacuum and the more reality you integrate the more likely the reader will go along with the unbelievable. Pick an aspect of your unreal, compare it to the real and prepare to explain in writing how they are different. You’ll be surprised how much will migrate to your fantasy story. It does wonders for the texture of the story.

16. Ignore those who say you can’t

There are so many people who don’t write who are perfectly willing to tell you that you can’t write. They’ll tell you about the depth of the slush piles. They’re real experts on how hard it is to get an agent to take you on as a client. Ignore them.

Writer’s Block: Over a Dozen Solutions to a Non-Problem

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Article: 6 Ideas for Promoting Your Book While Watching TV #motownwriters

By Sandra Beckwith

I’m one of those people who likes to watch TV to unwind, but just can’t sit there and watch TV. Know what I mean?

I don’t really like that about myself, but I’ve not only accepted it, I’ve learned to take advantage of it. I try to do something productive while sitting there – knitting, cleaning out my inbox, promoting my books, and so on.

That’s right. I promote my books while watching TV, and you can, too. If you’re a like me and find it difficult to just sit and look at the screen, try doing one of these book promotion activities the next time you’re sitting still in front of your favorite show.

1. Follow people on social media

Pull up the Twitter app on your smartphone and scroll through your notifications to find who has followed you recently — and follow them back. When you’re done with those, find a popular author in your genre on Twitter, and follow the people who follow her.

Do the same thing on other social networks, including LinkedInPinterest, and Instagram if appropriate.

2. Schedule tweets

Use a desktop tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or a phone app like Everypost to schedule your tweets several days out — all during commercial breaks.

You can also retweet what others share either from your computer or smartphone — all without missing any of the TV action.

I created a master template in PowerPoint and use that for each tipographic. I then save each new PowerPoint slide as a JPG file.

To help you see how this works, I’ve saved my basic template as a PDF file you can download. As you’ll see at that link, my template has:

  • Site logo
  • A headline in one of the logo colors
  • Plain text in the body for bullet points
  • A border with another color from the logo
  • The website URL at the bottom

6. Create images with quotes from your books

I’ll confess: This is my favorite thing to do while watching TV (besides playing CandyCrush). I use both the WordSwag app on my phone and Canva, but there are many other options. Here’s one I created with Canva to promote my e-book on how to write a book announcement press release.

You can also create image quotes with reader reviews and influencer testimonials. Learn more about how to do it and the resources you can use in “How to create shareable images with quotes.”

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Article: 5 reasons to turn your book into an audiobook – Build Book Buzz #motownwriters

book into audiobookToday’s guest blogger, Derek Doepker, is one of my favorite people to collaborate with for many reasons. Derek is a rock guitarist turned seven-time #1 best-selling author. He discovered a proven process that took him from struggling author to selling more than 75,000 books. Now he shares this process with thousands of authors through workshops, courses, and retreats, empowering them to turn their passion for writing into a thriving business. Discover more about his work and pick up your free copy of Why Authors Fail at BestsellerSecrets.com.

5 reasons to turn your book into an audiobook

By Derek Doepker

Audiobook sales are booming.

In fact, Written Word Media said that audiobooks are the number one publishing trend of 2020. With this increase in audiobook popularity, savvy indie authors can reach a whole new audience of readers by creating audiobooks.

Just about every indie author can benefit from having audiobooks. There are a few exceptions, of course, including cookbooks and technical manuals. However, most genres make great audiobooks. This includes fiction, nonfiction, and children’s narrative books.

If you’re in one of these categories, read on to discover five reasons why you’ll want to tap into the audiobook market.

1. You can increase your royalties

I produced a short audiobook for one of my books in about three hours. This audiobook has now made thousands of sales. Imagine generating thousands of new sales by only investing a few hours to create an audiobook.

2. You’ll get into a growing market early

The audiobook market has grown more than 30 percent consistently each year recently. Today, more people consume books while driving, exercising, and doing housework than ever before.

3. You can stand out from the competition

Look at the Kindle marketplace. There are approximately one million books published every year. It’s hard to stand out from all of them, isn’t it?

4. You’ll have a compelling bonus to motivate readers

As long as you own the rights to distribute your audiobook anywhere, you could offer your audiobook as a bonus for people to:

5. You can create audiobooks on any budget

Some authors don’t pursue audiobooks because of the financial investment. For some, it’s because they don’t have the technical know-how. Fortunately, there are strategies that help almost any author create audiobooks on any budget.

Learn how to turn your book into an audiobook

The do-it-yourself approach isn’t right for every author, though. That’s why I encourage you to learn more about how to create audiobooks to see what’s right for you.

 

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Article: How to Price Your Self-Published Book to Produce Robust Sales (and Determine How Much You Will Earn Selling It) #motownwriters

Pricing your book correctly increases sales and profits. To help you determine the suggested retail price (also known as the list price) and the sales price (the price the consumer pays), you need to:

  1. Determine the costs to deliver the book (which may include printing, shipping/delivery, and handling fees).
  1. Account for the retail outlet and/or distributor’s percentage of the royalty/revenue share.
  1. Review prices of similar books for sale.
1. Calculating Costs and Royalty/Revenue Share

Each vendor (retailer, distributor or aggregator) provides a list of costs and revenue share split information on their website. Several sites also provide an online calculator to assist with determining costs and revenue, as well as currency converters to correctly set the price for your book in territories outside the United States.

2. Determine the Price/Earnings for Your Book

To determine your earnings:

Option A (Direct Sale)

Sales Price (the price the consumer pays for the book)

– Costs (shipping, printing, handling, delivery fees)

– Retail Outlet’s Royalty/Revenue Share

– Distributor/Aggregator’s Royalty/Revenue Share

= Publisher/Author’s Earnings

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Article: Guest Post: How to Market Your Book to Teens #motownwriters

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

By Hayley Zelda

In this day and age, the internet rules the world, especially for young people. If you’re thinking about marketing to teens and you aren’t looking at online platforms or social media, then you’re doing it wrong.

Social media plays a significant role in marketing today. Here are some ways to market a book to young people:

Leverage a storytelling platform like Wattpad

There are many different platforms on the internet that allow writers and creative artists to share their work with other people. Wattpad is one such platform on which new writers can share their stories and books.

The majority of the members in this community are young people between the ages of 13 and 24. Sharing a story on a site like Wattpad taps into a young audience and potentially some organic distribution.

Anna Todd is probably the most well-known success story on Wattpad. With over 2M followers on Wattpad, her book, originally posted on Wattpad with hundreds of millions of views, has gone on to be published and also made into a movie.

Leverage a storytelling platform like Wattpad

There are many different platforms on the internet that allow writers and creative artists to share their work with other people. Wattpad is one such platform on which new writers can share their stories and books.

Share quotes on Instagram

An excellent way to grab the attention of young people is to type up some of your favorite quotes from your book and share it on Instagram. Add some color or designs onto the writeup and post it on your account or your Instagram story. Teens love reading quotes with pretty backgrounds on Instagram and it has become a huge viral trend.

Share snippets of your book

Share some short bits of your works for free as a hook. Look for the most exciting, interesting cliffhanger you have and use that. It will attract the most readers and also convert the most people into fans. In a world of short attention spans, a short and strong hook can go a long way.

Share snippets of your book

Share some short bits of your works for free as a hook. Look for the most exciting, interesting cliffhanger you have and use that. It will attract the most readers and also convert the most people into fans. In a world of short attention spans, a short and strong hook can go a long way. Continue reading

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Article: How To Sabotage Your Self-Published Book (in five easy steps) #motownwriters

April 14, 2020

5 Mistakes That Will Doom Any Self-Published Book

By Paul Goat Allen

For the last 25 years, I’ve been a full-time genre fiction book critic—writing for companies from BlueInk Review to Publishers Weekly to The Chicago Tribune. I’ve evaluated titles in every genre category and reviewed both traditionally published and independently published titles.

I’ve read and reviewed enough books (10,000+) to know that self-published authors make common blunders that can virtually guarantee their books receive negative reviews and ruin any chance at creating a positive buzz. These are giant red flags—ear-piercing alarms—warning me of an imminent bad read.

Consider this a public service announcement. Because as a reviewer, I want you, the self-published author, to bring your best book to the table. I want nothing more than to be blown away by a self-published novel and to shout about it from the rooftops for the whole world to hear.

Listed below, in order of importance, are five mistakes that—in my humble opinion—will doom any self-published book.

1. Typographical and grammatical errors

Learn your craft, writers. Spelling and punctuation errors are the biggest red flags of all. If you can’t spell words that most fifth graders should know and you don’t understand how to use commas, chances are good that you probably shouldn’t be publishing a book.

2. Chest beating

This is a big one for me. Don’t brag about what a great writer you are. I’ve read more than a few biographies where the author states that [insert name here] knew from an early age that he or she was an incredibly talented wordsmith, has a special gift that he or she wants to share with the world, etc. A little humility goes a long way, writers.

Don’t say it—do it.

4. Amateurish cover art

Yeah. I know. People shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But guess what? They do. I’ve seen it happen time and time again: a mediocre novel with eye-catching cover art sells well while a brilliant novel with bad cover art comes and goes unnoticed.

5. No social networking presence

Some people may disagree with me about this, but I think it’s critically important: if you’re a self-published author, it is imperative that you have a social media presence. If you’re trying to promote a self-published novel and you don’t have a website and/or you’re not active on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc., you’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot.

This is where your readers are. Potentially millions of them! Get your name—and your book—out there and grow your audience!

 

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Article: The Best Writing Contests and How to Apply #motownwriters

You live to write and have numerous short stories to prove it. Best of all, people other than your mother love and praise them! But because your name doesn’t happen to be Danielle Steel, no publisher is currently knocking down your front door to rip manuscripts from your printer before the pages even cool. So what is an aspiring writer to do? Apply to a writing contest, perhaps?

If you were a singer, you could try out for American Idol; if a dancer, you could apply to So You Think You Can Dance. But let’s face it, a television show where you typed at your keyboard is not must-see TV.

Even so, there are numerous (non-televised) writing contests where you can display your skills and improve your writing. Plus, if you win, you might receive some well-deserved critical acclaim—not to mention a cash award and potential future writing contracts.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to enter a writing contest and increase your chances of placing or even winning
  • Which contests are reputable
  • Which contests are currently accepting submissions

GENERAL RULES FOR APPLYING TO WRITING CONTESTS

There are a lot of writing contests out there that may or may not be worth your time. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to check out the contest’s social media presence, their history, and the previous winners to be sure that you’re applying to one that isn’t going to waste your time and your money–since most of them do have entrance fees. Never fear, I’ve done some research for you, and listed a few of the best writing contests and how to apply to them below.

But it’s probably a good idea for us to go over some general rules for applying to these contests.

 

WRITER’S DIGEST MAGAZINE 

Writer's Digest Magazine writing contestWriter’s Digest Magazine hosts an annual writing contest that’s been going on for over 80 years. This year’s contest is the 89th, and contest submissions are judged by editors and literary agents with over 500 winners being selected. I like those odds.

There are reading fees for the different types of submissions, starting at $20 for poetry and $30 for manuscripts.  But the cost is well worth the reward. The first-place winner receives $5,000, an interview with the author on the Writer’s Digest website, and a chance to attend the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference with a Pitch Slam slot.
FINAL THOUGHTS

With all these available contests, it’s time to get to work writing and editing your best story within an inch of its life. Then, submit it only after researching to ensure you are adhering strictly to the writing contest’s guidelines, and that you’ve polished it with the shine that appeals to those specific judges.

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Article: How to Start a Novel: 8 Steps to the Perfect Opening Scene #motownwriters

How to Start a Novel: 8 Steps to the Perfect Opening Scene

It’s important to start a novel off right. Just ask Stephen King — he’s published more than sixty books to date, and his taut, intriguing first lines are consistently among the best in the game. How does he pull it off?

King tries, at the beginning every novel, to invite the reader into the story — saying “Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this” with his opening line. Want to extend your readers an invitation they can’t resist? Look no further! This post will show you how to start a novel in 8 simple steps.

Step 1: Think about your novel as a whole

As King says, the best novel openings aren’t just beautiful sentences — they’re invitations into a world of the author’s creation. That means the beginning of a novel should set the tone for all the writing that follows, letting the reader know what to expect as they make their way deeper into the story.

Step 3: Choose your point of view

With your novel’s overall mood and tone in mind, you’re ready to make one of the most important writing decisions for your book: its point of view. Will you opt for colorful, voice-driven first person like in Huckleberry Finn? Or adopt a bird’s-eye view of the story with a third person omniscient narrator, like in Pride and Prejudice?

Show the reader what your character wants

In the end, establishing the stakes comes down to showing what your character wants. Now, that want can be grand, or it can be deeply personal, anything from overthrowing an oppressing regime to getting into college. The key is, it has to matter deeply to the character.

Of course, what your character wants can’t be too easy to attain. To give your novel the right about of tension, pursuing their goal needs to put something at risk, whether that’s their life or their peace of mind.

 Is your characterization consistent?

Of course your characters will grow and change over the course of the plot. But there should be a thread of continuity that makes each character recognizable. Take look at everyone who appears in your opening scene. Are they portrayed in a way that’s consistent with their behavior in the rest of the book?

Remember, revising the beginning of your novel is an ongoing process. And once you feel you’ve taken it as far as you’re able to, you can always loop in a professional editor to polish it even further. The key is to keep tinkering with it until you’ve got an opening that just feels right. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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Article: Building an Author Platform Guest Post #motownwriters

Building an Author Platform

Guest Post by Yen Cabag

Nowadays, writing is only one part of becoming a successful book author. The other part is something many aspiring authors frown upon, but it is absolutely necessary: Building an author platform.

Does every author need an author platform?

One way of looking at it is this: let’s say you were buying makeup or some other beauty product, and you went online looking for a website and couldn’t find any. How would that make you feel? Wouldn’t it make you wonder if the product was manufactured in some grimy garage? Chances are, you would think twice about buying it again!

As an author, you also face a similar challenge: Readers will be more comfortable buying books from someone they’re relatively familiar with. And the other side of the picture is just as important: Publishers and bookstores are always more willing to take on someone who has a solid following.

What is an author platform?

An author platform refers to the name you build as an author, which includes the number of people that you reach. The bigger your following, the bigger audience you have for anything you publish. This makes publishers more willing to invest in your book and gives you a greater chance for more people to know about your book!

Maintain a blog. The key here is to think of giving value to others. Creating a blog gives you a place where you can offer your thoughts for free. Focus on developing useful content, and the more people that you end up helping, the bigger the chance that they will be interested in anything else you have to say.

One important note: when you blog, be sure to learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), since that will help the public find your posts.

Offer giveaways. Connected with giving value, people love giveaways. Just make sure you present the giveaways as something celebratory, and not as a desperate ploy to get people to do stuff for you.

Build your email list. As you start your website and blog, find ways to build an email list. People who sign up for free reports or free inside information that you give away on your blog can be a good audience for future marketing programs for your book.

Remember to choose the book promotion sites that match your genre. Some book promotion sites focus only on specific genres, so knowing which ones work best for you can save you a lot of effort.

Be effective on social media. Different people have different views on the role of social media in building an author platform. In any case, choose the social media outlet that you are most comfortable with, as that will shine through in the way you post updates. For example, some authors prefer to use Facebook, while others are more comfortable with Twitter or Instagram. The key is to choose what you enjoy using, so that you can do it without any pressure.

Building an Author Platform

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Article: Weaving the Backstory #motownwriters

 posted in: Writing Craft  1

 

photo by anne hawkinson
Photo by Anne Hawkinson

When you write a series, you hope your readers will start the journey as you did — with the first book. That may not always be the case. Readers may pick up a book midway through the series or find one out of sequence that grabs their attention. As a writer, it’s your challenge to ensure that any book in a series is a satisfying, engaging experience.

Stand Alone

This may seem contradictory to the concept of a series, but each book must stand on its own, two feet. Sure, readers in mid-series will miss a lot of what happened before, but you can’t bring all of that forward (Hopefully they’ll be inspired to go back and start at the beginning!) However, they’ll need to have enough backstory to get firm footing in that one, individual book. If it’s not there, they’ll get confused, frustrated, and set your book aside.

Bits of Subtlety

Informational lists are handy but not entertaining. Weave backstory in as part of a conversation, a physical description, or a particular place, date, or time. “Her mind alerted her to the trauma she’d endured the last time she was in the glade.” Now you have the perfect opening to provide some details the reader needs without knocking them over the head with them. “He had the telltale, mis-matched eyes of his biological father, not the one who raised him.” What about the eyes? Who is the real father? What happened to him? Now you’ve piqued the interest of your reader. The subtle bits you weave not only help your reader with the current book they’re reading, it can also inspire them to go back and learn more about your characters and their relationships in the earlier books.

 

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Article: Cross Promotional Marketing Tips for Self-Publishers #motownwriters

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As the name suggests, the concept of “self” publishing centers around the idea of an author bringing a book to market on their own.

It’s a fact that many writers covet the idea of being able to publish their fiction and non-fiction works without having to jump through the typical hoops, barriers and gatekeepers associated with the industry such as publishing agents and houses.

The advent of self-publishing has made it relatively easy for just about anyone to turn their thoughts and ideas into a manuscript that can then be published in print or digital format with just a fraction of the time, effort and money that it used to take with one of the more traditional avenues.

If you’ve already been flying solo with your book publishing efforts you may feel like you can find your success without help from anyone else. You definitely can, however, even the most independent self-publisher can benefit from combining their efforts with the efforts of others in order to achieve a mutually beneficial and common goal.

One example of this is using cross promotional marketing to improve the visibility of your brand and offers.

What is Cross Promotional Marketing?

Cross promotional marketing means targeting customers interested in a specific product with the promotion of a different but related product.

Here’s an example….

Imagine that you’ve just written a book that teaches readers about the basics of starting an online business. Next, imagine that you’d previously written a book that outlines the steps one needs to take in order to start a WordPress blog.

How Do You Market Using Cross Promotion?  

If you’re wondering exactly how cross promotional marketing works and how you can use it to improve your book selling prospects, there are several different methods you can try that each have the potential to boost your business results.

Imagine for a second that you could double, triple or quadruple your audience overnight with just a click of a button? What would it mean for your business to have 4 or more times the pre-qualified eyeballs than you have now seeing your offers on a regular basis?

It is very possible if you partner with other authors and cross promote your offers to each other’s lists.

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Article: How to and (Especially) How Not to Write About Family #motownwriters

Today’s post is by Sharon Harrigan (@harrigan_sharon), whose novel Half is available now.


Writing about the people you are closest to can be one of the most rewarding experiences a writer can have—but also the scariest. This is a big topic, so I will cover it in two parts. First: what to put on the page. And second: how to deal with your subjects’ reactions to what you write about them.

Let’s start, as some of my favorite memoirs do, with a cliffhanger. Here is what you should not do: When your publisher gives you a January 1 deadline for submitting the final manuscript, you should not print out a copy for each of your family member-characters and send those copies all at the same time, which guarantees you will receive their responses right before Christmas.

But who would do that? Such recklessness would be really dumb, right? I know. At least I know now. But I’ll get back to my own experience later—so you can learn from my mistakes. First, let’s talk about best practices when writing about your family. (All quotes are from Writing Hard Stories, edited by Melanie Brooks.)

Don’t worry about what your family will think when you’re writing the first draft.

One way to invite writer’s block is to imagine the people you are writing about looking over your shoulder. “I try to just write alone and worry about the publishing part later,” Joan Wickersham says. “My feeling is you can write whatever you want, and then you think about it again when it’s time to publish.”

Richard Hoffman adds, “Writing and publishing are two different things. Don’t confuse them. As soon as you start thinking, I could never publish that, then the censor is in the room with you crossing stuff out as fast as you can write it. You can’t work that way.”

Your family will react.

What kind of reactions will you get from your family—whether they see the memoir before or after it is published? I posed this question to an online group of memoirists and received a wide range of answers. Some told me their families had threatened to sue or cut them out of their wills. One writer said her sister refused to talk to her for a long time, but she thought the rift was caused by jealousy not injury. And sometimes people respond in surprising ways. Instead of wanting you to take them out of your book, they will complain because they are not in the spotlight more. Edwidge Danticat says, “My brothers asked why the book was all about me. I said, Because I’m the one writing it.”

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Article: How to Get More Media Exposure for Your Book #motownwriters

Reading Time: 4 minutesThe first thing that authors often ask me is: “How do I get on the Today show?” When you ask this question what you actually want to know are some of the ways to get more big media exposure for your book, especially on a national scale. But if you take a look at the Today show or any large national show for that matter, you’ll see that most of them don’t showcase more than four books a year. That means that it’s really on you, the author, to find more creative ways to pitch yourself. This is something we’ll continue to break down in a series of podcasts and blogs.

Timing And Tact Are Important

Try to assume that you only get so many contacts with a single news outlet or with a particular individual, so make each one count! Educate yourself on your specific market and stay on top of that market as it appears in the news. What I recommend for our authors is to set up news alerts for the market they’re planning on targeting.

News alerts are a great way to ground yourself in how competitive your topic is, and who’s making the cut. It’s important to check out the people who are getting interviewed – I’m willing to bet they already have a solid platform behind them, that they’re putting out content regularly, and that they have at least one great social media account. Remember that successful people have put in a lot of work to get where they are.

Remember that you’re in the process of building your resume and that means that nothing is too small. In fact, lots of seemingly “small” opportunities particularly stand out when you take the next step, versus having nothing on your media resume and expecting somewhere like Today or the New York Times to take a big chance on you – spoiler alert: they want a sure thing!

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