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,, 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: )

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,, 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


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.

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How to Avoid Overextending Your Author Expertise via @bloggingauthors #mwn

Expert Author Irene Watson

Once you’ve published your book, your goal is to sell books and make contact with your readers, so you may be surprised when you find that a lot of the attention you receive is from other would-be authors asking you questions about how you got your book published and wanting you to help them with publishing their own books.

You can help everyone and soon be overwhelmed, or you can take advantage of the situation while separating the serious from the non-serious future writers.

The next time you are approached by an author wanting your help, here are some questions to ask and responses to make to their questions. Let me first make it clear that my purpose is not to dissuade any author from writing a book, and it is not that I want to stop anyone from giving or receiving help, but we are all only human and only have so many hours in a day, so we have to use those hours wisely. If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so if someone wants to write a book, he or she needs to be serious about it because it is a serious, expensive, and time-consuming task.

When asked for help by would-be authors, here are a few initial questions to ask to determine whether the person’s interest in being an author is real and whether or not you will be wasting your time by trying to help.

How much of your book do you have written, and when do you plan to have it finished?If the book is not three-quarters done and the author does not have a timeframe in mind for completing the book in the next few weeks or months, you will be wasting your time trying to help someone who is unlikely ever to finish the book. If the person says that’s the problem-he’s looking for someone to help him with writing it, run the other way. You may suggest he find a ghostwriter, and there are people who do a good job of ghostwriting, but it is tasking on a person’s energy to ghostwrite a book, and ghostwriters deserve to be well-paid. If the person is insistent, ask:

What kind of budget do you have to pay for editing (or ghostwriting)?
Of course, the cost of doing either will depend on the length and type of book, but a fair number to begin with is at least in the high hundreds-after all, think about how many hours it will take and what you deserve to be paid per hour. If the would-be author says he doesn’t have money or he needs to make payments, depending on how well you know this person, you may want to run in the other direction.

Of course, you may not be an editor or ghostwriter, but if the person hasn’t considered getting the book edited and is resistant to the idea when you suggest it, chances are he isn’t serious about producing his book.

What kind of marketing plan do you have?
If the person doesn’t have a marketing plan, suggest he get one. Tell him to do some research and come back to you when he has a list of ideas and strategies written up for how to sell his book to his target audience. You might refer him to a few books to read or publications or even a writer’s group for him to join where he can share ideas with other writers. But don’t do the work for him.

In the end, no matter how you try to weed people out, they are inevitably going to ask you for your time. Here are some responses you can make to their questions.

Would you have coffee or lunch with me so I can ask you a few questions?
Without hemming and hawing or blinking an eye, state upfront, “Sure. I charge a consulting fee for offering publishing and marketing advice. My fee is $X.00 for one hour.” I’ll leave it up to you what kind of a fee you want to charge. The first or second time, you might settle for the other person buying you lunch, but after that, start with something you feel comfortable with, but don’t shortchange yourself. $25 an hour is reasonable for beginning. If the would-be author tells you he doesn’t need a full hour of your time, just a few minutes, tell him it’s not that easy to publish a book and to come back when he has an hour worth of questions so you know he is serious. That may sound harsh, but if you don’t make it clear upfront that you are serious about being paid for your help, one question will lead to another as he constantly seeks your free advice.

Would you be willing to read my book and tell me what you think?
You can approach this question a few different ways. A lot of traditionally published authors will say “No” to such a request because their publisher or agent has told them not to read manuscripts from fear they will later use something in another author’s book as an idea in their own book. You can take this same tactic.

However, if you’re interested in consulting, tell the person there are two options available in terms of your giving help:

  1. You will read the book and provide a manuscript evaluation, meaning a list of suggestions, as well as what you think are the book’s strengths and weaknesses, for a reading fee.
  2. You will do a sample edit of a few pages and look over the general organization of the book for free so you can come up with a price for helping the author. You will then do the full edit for said price.

If the author is serious, he will agree to pay you for one or the other. If he wants you to read the book for free, you know you will be wasting your time.

I would never agree to work with an author without seeing a sample of his or her writing. I hate to say it, but a lot of would-be authors out there can barely put two words together to make a readable sentence. If that’s the case, unless you are going to do serious rewriting and editing for the author, you probably don’t want to get involved. And if the author is a terrible writer, you should be upfront, although kind about it, with the writer and let him know that he will need you to help with all the other writing involved beyond just the book manuscript to promote the book.

Make sure you and the author are clear from the beginning on what you will do as editor/consultant and how payment will be made. If you’re just doing consulting on the phone or a one hour lunch, then ask for a check upfront. If you are doing a large project, such as editing a book, then ask for half the price upfront and half when the project is finished. Depending on the project, you may agree to break up payments into three or four monthly payments. If you do so, make sure you have reason to trust the person you are assisting, and you may want to draw up a contract you both sign.

Remember your boundaries. Just because you agree to help an author with his book, whether it is reading it and offering advice, editing it, or assisting with marketing it by writing marketing pieces or simply giving advice, you are not ultimately responsible for the book’s success. Once you finish the task you have agreed to do for the author, do not let yourself be roped into continual extra work without payment. For example, if you agree to edit the book, don’t agree then to write the press release, the sell sheet, the marketing brochures, and the text for the website without being paid additionally.

You and your potential author clients can have satisfying and successful relationships that are profitable for both parties, but you will save both of you a lot of headaches and frustration if you initially weed out the less than serious and potentially high maintenance clients from the future professional authors who are willing to do the necessary hard work to make their books successful.

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


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.

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ARTICLE: How to Build Your Credibility As a Self-Made Expert VIA @marciasmantras

Expert Author Marcia Yudkin

Some people achieve the status of expert through degrees, licenses, prestigious job appointments or awards. A few people without those advantages have the mantle of expertise thrust on them without their going after it, through word of mouth and a reputation among a close-knit circle of customers. However, most people without conventional professional credentials need to anoint themselves as experts, and this effort may or may not succeed.

Earn the respect of your target market and take the uncertainty out of the process of becoming viewed as an expert by using as many of the following nine self-made credibility factors as you can.

1. Media coverage. When a large metropolitan newspaper or a well-known magazine writes positively about you, acclaims you as a trailblazer or even simply quotes your opinion, you acquire the beginnings of a public halo that adds a golden sheen to whatever you are doing. It’s much easier to orchestrate this than most people assume. Pick up a copy of a book on publicity, such as my own 6 Steps to Free Publicity, and implement the recommended tactics. When you do achieve media coverage, be sure to quote it prominently on your web site and elsewhere.

2. Carefully documented research. Your research can consist of surveys, observations, experiments or in-the-field tests. A couple of scuba divers with no scientific credentials who fell in love with giant sea turtles during their annual trips to Maui became regarded as experts on the honu (the Hawaiian name for this lovable sea creature) by keeping diligent written and photographic records of more than 750 individual sea turtles they encountered during their dives. When they attended a marine biology conference, they discovered they had learned more about honu habits than nearly all of the university-affiliated researchers there.

3. Collaborations with recognized, respected organizations. A British man without any medical qualifications cured himself of a serious psychological ailment and built up a business teaching his therapy method to others like him. One factor that elevated his reputation far above the level of a “quack” was the fact that England’s National Health Service sent their most intractable cases to him for treatment. Having any sort of official relationship with a government entity or prominent company, from supplying Microsoft or the Pentagon to being on call for your community ambulance service, boosts credibility.

4. A hype-free, professional tone. To earn respectability without credentials, you have to stay away from the kind of over-excited marketing pitch that’s characteristic of late-night infomercials. Go easy on exclamation points, exaggerated claims or promises, long stretches of capital letters, ungrounded superlatives and “buy now or else” demands. Fairly or unfairly, most people regard such sales techniques as unworthy of legitimate experts.

5. Publications. A hardcover book from an established publisher gives you the most credibility credits, with a paperback book from anyone other than a company you own clocking a close second. Not helping you much at all would be a self-published book that came out only in eBook format or a paperback that looked amateurly produced. Articles by you in journals, magazines or online publications that prospective customers respect count significantly as well.

6. Endorsements from individuals with reputations. A Baltimore-based alternative healer presented herself as a pioneer in a certain type of medical hypnosis. What she needed most to cement her expert reputation was quotes from people connected with the internationally well-known medical school in her city – Johns Hopkins. She and I brainstormed a list of seven different ways she could make her work known to health-care professionals with the right prestigious affiliations for possible testimonials or endorsements.

7. A well-reasoned, consistent and distinctive point of view. True experts rarely have same-old, boring opinions. Therefore it’s easier to be perceived as an expert when you have a website, blog, newsletter or advertising campaign that takes some kind of stand and backs up the position with facts and arguments. Don’t be bland or generic. If other experts begin to disagree with you respectfully, you are definitely on the right track.

8. Impressive, objective track record. If you’re a pest control company with a 96 percent success rate in getting rid of bedbugs without harsh or harmful chemicals, you can certainly claim expertise in organic or natural pest control. Precise numbers are key in this arena. Your relevant achievement might be anything from owning a collection of 457 Barbie dolls dating back to 1959, having coached three successful American Idol contestants or having homeschooled 11 children, including four with special needs.

9. Elimination of typos, errors and outdated information. Even people who are not highly educated or personally fussy take note and hold back their trust when supposed experts display sloppiness or get things wrong that they should know. According to the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab, “Typographical errors have roughly the same negative impact on a web site’s credibility as a company’s legal or financial troubles.” The same goes for would-be experts.

Some of the above strategies require long-term effort. Even so, the payoff for perceived expertise in additional sales, more referrals and higher fees is huge. From conversations I’ve had with self-made experts who have implemented these tips, the effort is definitely worth it.

A bookworm as a child, Marcia Yudkin grew up to discover she had a surprising talent for creative marketing. She’s the author of more than a dozen books, including 6 Steps to Free Publicity, now in its third edition, and Meatier Marketing Copy. She mentors introverts (and those with other personalities) so they discover their uniquely powerful branding and most comfortable marketing strategies, and helps them create a promotional presence that attracts the kind of clients who make them happiest.

To learn more about the strengths and preferences of introverts, download her free Marketing for Introverts audio manifesto:

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6 Steps to Free Publicity (Awesome English)
6 Steps to Free Publicity (Awesome English)Author: Marcia Yudkin
ISBN: 1601630271
Meatier Marketing Copy: Insights on Copywriting That Generates Leads and Sparks Sales

Meatier Marketing Copy: Insights on Copywriting That Generates Leads and Sparks SalesAuthor: Marcia Yudkin
ISBN: 0971640718

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Celebrate @ebookweek w/ @sylviahubbard1: FREE Internet Marketing 4Writers & Business #michlit #mwn

Internet Marketing Guide for Writers and Businesses

By Sylvia Hubbard
Rating: 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star
(5.00 based on 2 reviews)

Published: April 12, 2009
Words: 18437 (approximate)
Language: English


A guide for writers with or without published work. A comprehensive resource that every writer should have in their library in order to learn how to publish, promote, and market themselves on the Internet. With over 1000+ websites, tips and more to help you become a success and spreading the word about your product and services.

Available e-book reading formats

Format Full Book
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser) View
Online Reading (JavaScript, experimental, buggy) View
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Download
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) Download
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing) Download
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub) Download
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices) Download
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Scheduling Your Book Project via @bloggingauthors

Expert Author Irene Watson

“Where will I ever find the time to write my book?” or simply, “How long does it take to write a book?” is a good question authors often ask themselves. The first-time author may feel overwhelmed just trying to decide where to begin, and even the seasoned author can find beginning each new book to be a challenge.

First of all, let me say that I know hardly any author who has not found that writing a book ends up taking a lot longer than was initially planned, but I also know that few things can leave a person with such a sense of accomplishment as writing a book. However long the writing and production take, it will be worth it if you spend the time being serious about the process, you allow yourself to be inspired, and you produce a quality product in the end.

To make what feels overwhelming seem more manageable, we can break down writing and producing a book into a series of steps that give an idea of the order and time needed for each step in the process.

Come Up with an Idea (a few minutes to a few years): Coming up with a good idea for a book is easier said than done. Usually good ideas just come to us rather than our going out looking for them. But even after you have the idea, you need to refine it. You’ll want to play around with it for several days, weeks, or even months. Look around for books that might have similar ideas. Read them so you can see whether your idea has been done before or you have something new you can say on the topic. Be sure not to steal ideas from other authors; you don’t want to plagiarize, but you can cite other sources in your book.

Research (one month to a few years): Even if you are going to write a novel, you will find aspects of research you will need to do. Sometimes the research is just simple fact-checking. For example, if your novel is set in Atlanta, it might just require double-checking the name of a restaurant or a street for accuracy in your book. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, it might require months of research to assemble your information. In my opinion, research is often the most exciting part of writing the book. It’s when you gather and discover new information, which can cause your idea to expand and change, become stronger and more refined. Let yourself go crazy with the research and read everything on the topic that you can. Take notes and make sure you write down the sources for all your notes-the authors, books, page numbers, etc. Look at some other nonfiction books to see how they are arranged with notes, footnotes, and bibliography pages. You will want to use “The Chicago Manual of Style” or some other style manual to make sure you incorporate your research properly into your book.

Write the Book (weeks to years): According to a study done by the Brenner Information Group, it takes 475 hours to write a fiction book and 725 to write a nonfiction book. Of course, those numbers are averages. It depends on how long you want your book to be, what your topic is, and what your goals are. If you’re writing a long scholarly work, it’s going to take longer than it does to write a thirty-two page children’s book, although both will be time-consuming. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Where am I going to find 475 hours?” Truthfully, it’s not that hard to find. I’m a firm believer in “steady wins the race.” I frequently tell people that if they just write a page a day, they will have written a book by the end of the year. If you can find just an hour a day, or even half an hour, you can do it. If you can block out two or three hours every Sunday, you can do it. And besides, writing a book is not a race. It’s more important that you take your time and create a quality product than that you rush it.

Revising the Book (days to months): Again, the amount of time needed for revision depends on the book. I should point out that none of the steps in this process to this point have to be done in specific order. You might start writing your book, realize you have to stop and do some research, then go back to writing, then realize you need to do some more research, which could mean finding out something new that causes you to go back and revise what you have already written before you go on to write the next part. It’s a constant back and forth process when you write a book, and you will find yourself revising as you go. You might get frustrated that writing is not really a linear process, but try to enjoy the process anyway and realize that however long it takes, you are getting closer to your goal. The main thing is that once you have a complete rough draft, you sit down and revise the entire book. That means more than proofreading. It means seeing the big picture, making sure the book is organized properly, that the arguments make sense, that the sentences flow, that there are no inconsistencies, and looking for places where you may need to remove something that is irrelevant, or expand something that needs more explanation.

Editing (two weeks to two months): I have editor friends who complain that every author thinks the editor can start working on the book the day the author calls. Editing a book can actually be time-consuming; the editor will usually go through the book several times and send the book back to the author with revision suggestions. It usually takes several weeks to do an editing job, so authors should schedule plenty of time for the editing and for doing more of their own revisions. Don’t put the cart before the horse and plan your book signing for one month after you send the editor the book. Wait until you know the books are being printed. Plan for the worst case scenario-that the editor will discover a lot of work still needs to be done on the book. Call the editor a few weeks before you finish writing the book so he or she knows the book is coming and can plan accordingly so you don’t have to wait weeks for the editor to get to it.

Proofreading (one to two weeks): If you and your editor have done a good job, the proofreader should not take too long on the book, but again, your book is not the only one the proofreader has to proofread so plan to give yourself plenty of time.

Cover Design and Layout (one week to one month): A cover design can take little or a lot of time, depending on whether you have artwork or a photograph you want to use for your cover or you need to hire an artist to create a cover for you. Be thinking about your cover as you work on your book so you’re prepared for this step. As for layout of the book, if you’ve written a short novel with no pictures, the layout person might be able to have it done in a day or two (but again, remember you are not the layout person’s only customer). If your book has a lot of graphics, charts, or photographs, it could be weeks or even months before the layout is done. Remember, you will need to look over the proofs to make sure photographs are in the right places, and there are no typos. However, now is not the time to rewrite sentences or paragraphs. Only minor changes should be made at this point. Anything major should have been caught before the book went to the proofreader, and the layout person is likely to charge you extra for any corrections.

Printing (four to six weeks): Four to six weeks is standard for the printing. You will be sent a paper proof copy (different from the pdf file the layout person previously sent you), and a copy of the cover to look over and approve. Again, any corrections needed will slow down the process and the printer will charge you for changes. The four to six weeks should include the shipment of the books to your door.

Pre-Marketing (four to six weeks): If you haven’t started already, then while the book is at the printer is the time to begin marketing your book. It’s when you can build your website, make up your business cards, brochures, fliers, and arrange for placement in stores and to hold book signings. Be cautious here-if your book is supposed to arrive on March 20th, don’t schedule your book signing for March 21st, only to end up with the books not coming until March 22nd. Plan your book signing for a few weeks after the books arrive so you have time to get them in local stores and to list them at online stores. Then you will feel prepared when the truck with all those books shows up at your door. Make sure you have cleared a place to put all those books!

While writing your book, you will experience hang-ups, frustrations, and moments of triumph, all of which may alter your schedule, but if you plan it out, you should be able to produce a book in the given timeframe above for each step. At the very least, plan for writing and production to take you a year. It will probably take you two. But we all know how fast time passes-so you will have that book in hand before you know it, and then you will feel that all that hard work was well worth it.

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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ARTICLES: Google Alerts and Book Marketing via @bloggingauthors

Expert Author Irene Watson

Google Alerts is a simple and free tool that is available to anyone for tracking topics on the Internet. For authors, it is a great advantage because you can have it provide you with results whenever a new mention appears on the Internet of your name, book title(s), or topics relevant to your book that you can capitalize upon for promoting your book. This information can be delivered to you via email in a timely matter-as it happens, daily, or weekly – so you are aware of the latest conversations and topics that may interest you.

Continue reading

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Authors Find and Engage their Target Market with Social Media

The economy is shaky, customers are more conservative and marketing budgets have shrunk. What’s a  entrepreneur to do?

Well let’s begin by looking at the definition of an entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurs use personal initiative, and engage in calculated risk-taking, to create new business ventures by raising resources to apply innovative new ideas that solve problems, meet challenges, or satisfy the needs of a clearly defined market.” (Entrepreneurship: Creating a Venture by Lily Kretchman et al. Toronto: Wiley, 1991.) In this definition the answer is clear. Entrepreneurs no matter what the economic outlook take calculated risks, create new business ventures and solve problems.

This is why Social Media Made Easy works to give entrepreneurs the edge. Entrepreneurs have and will always be the creators of the innovative businesses ventures that will change the landscape of communities, cities and the world. So who needs on-line marketing/social media? The answer is authors, speakers, personal trainers, holistic health practitioners, coaches, self-improvement teachers, real estate agents, MLM professionals and all the other problem solvers. Finding and engaging your target market has never been easier and the best part is that access is essentially FREE.

Join Social Media Made Easy at Mobile Media Mysteries Uncovered 2/9/12 @ 6pm at WCCCD Eastern Campus.

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MIND ON MONEY: Who Moved My Cheese? via @holla_KGreene #mwn

        Greetings Readers!  My name is Kelly Greene.  I am a former autoworker from Detroit Michigan.  Why former? I look too young to retire.  Did I hit the Lottery?  Did I find the key to financial bliss?  The answer to both questions is no.  The truth is I lost my job due the economy as well as thousands of others in America.  The funny thing about it, I should have been prepared.  Had I took one book seriously, I just might have been.

      About 12 years ago, I was given a book by my girlfriend.  The book was called “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson.  I read it and cast it to the side as a decent read.  I couldn’t take it seriously.  I was working at American Axle and making good money or “Getting that Cheese” as we say in the hood.  “Cheese” was plentiful then.  I worked 50-60 hrs a week for an automobile company and automobiles are  one of the top 5 inventions of all time.  The world was not going to replace the automobile anytime soon. I was certain that I would have a job for life or at least 30 yrs. I was wrong.  I didn’t factor in that where they made the parts or the automobiles themselves were subject to change.  American Axle moved my Cheese to Mexico 10 yrs after I read that book!  Spencer Johnson was right!  We have to be ready and expect change in both our professional and private lives. Continue reading

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ARTICLE: Retelling the Story: Rewriting Fantasy, History, and Myth #MWN

Great article by Irene Watson for all the writers of all genres. Even if you don’t write in fantasy, history or myth, you can siphon information from this article of tips and tricks of how to retail and rewrite your story: fiction or nonfiction!

Retelling the Story: Rewriting Fantasy, History, and Myth


Expert Author Irene Watson

If you take a look at Hollywood movies today, a lot of them are remakes of old films or based on books that have long been well-known. The same is true in the publishing industry. It’s much easier to sell a book that is a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” to the multitude of Jane Austen fans than it is to sell a new romance novel, and even though most of the vampire novels today are not sequels to “Dracula,” they capitalize on the popularity of the vampire figure.

A writer in search of a “novel” topic might consider taking a look at popular stories, myths, legends, or events in history and creating a new story or version of the story based on them; such a re-vision of an old story can be a profitable and easier way to gain a reading audience. Once you write a book that tells what happened after Camelot fell or after Cinderella married the prince, provided you have told the story well, you will have created a reading audience. Then you will likely have an audience who will largely follow you when you write your completely original novel set in a world with characters you solely created without the aid of another author.

Before you dismiss the idea of rewriting an old story in a new way, take some time to think about the stories that have captured your imagination over the years, and think about how you might have wished they ended differently-what if you retold the story the way you wish it had been told or with the ending you would have preferred? Here are just a few examples of old stories that have been reinvented in recent years for new audiences that might give you some ideas:

King Arthur: There is no absence to the number of novels coming out to retell the story of King Arthur and Camelot. Among the best have been Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” (1982) which retells the story from the women’s point of view. This novel inspired countless others that retold the Arthurian legend, including Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles that told the story of before Camelot, to numerous books about what happened after Camelot, and even stories of King Arthur set in Outer Space. There are plenty of readers out there who will buy just about any book with a King Arthur connection.

Ancient Myths: Marion Zimmer Bradley also capitalized on the Trojan War by retelling that story from the women’s point of view in her novel, “The Firebrand.” In addition, numerous books and films have freely adapted the Greek myths, from “Clash of the Titans” to “Immortals.” The Norse, Egyptian, and Celtic gods are equally popular and capable of inspiring some great new novels.

Popular Archetypes or Characters: Vampire novels are very popular. Basic elements exist to all vampire stories, and “Dracula” is the seminal work most build off, although writers reinvent the story by making it their own within the guidelines of the key elements such as the vampire being a bloodsucker, not being able to move about in the daylight, not being able to face a crucifix, its reflection not being seen in mirrors, and its being able to turn into a bat. Other archetypal figures to consider include mummies, mermaids, and a wide range of fairy tale characters.

Classics: As long as the copyright of a book has expired, you are free to do with it what you will. Numerous authors have capitalized on classics. Some of the more popular in recent years have been “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” both revisions of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” while mixing it with popular archetypal or mythical characters. Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” re-envisioned the story of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” leading to a series of novels and a hit Broadway musical. Numerous more “The Wizard of Oz” revisionist movies and books are currently in the works.

Historical Events: History can be dry-just facts and dates-but when you think about who those people really were, what motivated them, their love affairs, dreams, and goals, you can create some great fiction. The popularity of books like Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and numerous films and television series like “The Tudors” have made people from centuries ago real and interesting to twenty-first century readers. Is there something about Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Columbus, Napoleon, or Hitler’s story that still speaks to us today? Of course; they were human like us; what motivated them, frustrated them, turned them toward doing good or evil, made them dream and succeed and fail? How can you capitalize upon their humanity to make an interesting story today?

How to Write the Story Anew
The key to creating a successful story based on one already well-known is to introduce a new twist to it. Here are a few tips or questions to ask yourself in creating that new version of an old story.

    1. What made the villain a villain? Is there a villain backstory to be told? In “Wicked,” the Wicked Witch was made sympathetic as we came to understand her motivation for behaving the way she did.
    1. Was the story told from the conqueror’s point of view? In “The Wizard of Oz” Dorothy just takes Glinda and the Wizard’s word for it that the Wicked Witch is wicked. What if the Wizard and Glinda just didn’t like the witch and lied about who she really was? What if you retold the story from the perspective of the conquered, or someone caught in the middle but not on either side? How would “Alice in Wonderland” be different if the Queen of Hearts or the Mad Hatter told the story? What if “Treasure Island” were retold from Long John Silver’s point of view?
    1. What if the climactic event had turned out differently? Recently, Stephen King published a time travel novel in which someone goes back in time to try to stop the assassination of President Kennedy. What if a key event had not happened or had happened differently? Kim Newman’s “Anno Dracula” is based on the supposition that Dracula was not defeated-and the result is that he has conquered England and even married Queen Victoria. Think of all the “what if” possibilities. What if the Trojans rather than the Greeks had won the war? What if the South rather than the North had won the Civil War? What if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated? What if Napoleon had succeeded in conquering the world?
    1. How can you explain something magical or mythical? In “Wicked,” the winged monkeys are actually the witch’s experiment where she sews on their wings. What if Merlin doesn’t have magic powers but is just a good scientist who knows how to trick people into thinking he has magical powers? What if the Greek gods were really humans who used trickery to gain control over people? What if St. George pulled a stunt to make it look like he killed a dragon? What would any of these situations suggest about the main character or the world that these people lived in? Think for example of the Wizard of Oz who holds everyone in awe of him, only to turn out to be a humbug. Who else in literature, myth, or history might have been a humbug?
    1. What if the bad guy were really the good guy? Everyone knows Mordred slew King Arthur, but some authors are now depicting Arthur as the bad guy while Mordred was only trying to protect his country. What if the stepmother wasn’t mean but Cinderella was just a spoiled little girl who was mad that her father remarried? What if the evil wizard was really a great teacher trying to help the hero by playing devil’s advocate?
  1. What if the storyteller is a liar-the unreliable narrator syndrome? Could the person who tells the story be lying to us? David Copperfield might be an unreliable narrator, a hoodlum even, while Uriah Heep really is a humble hero wrongfully accused of stealing Aunt Betsy’s money when in truth she was just a spendthrift. What about Injun Joe-isn’t it possible Tom Sawyer and his community were simply racists?

Many possibilities exist for retelling a classic story and making people rethink it and see it anew. Make sure the work you choose to rewrite does not have a copyright attached to it. Anything published before 1900 should be safe.

Often, rewriting a story with a new spin or twist on it can be an excellent writing exercise that takes an already effective plot and characters and allows for the possibility of seeing it anew while teaching a writer about pacing, plot, and character development. While I’m always an advocate for authors to be original, retelling a story in an original way like Marion Zimmer Bradley did in “The Mists of Avalon” or Gregory Maguire did in “Wicked” can do more than create a great novel. It can make people rethink history, see gray areas of meaning, and stretch their imaginations in new and inspiring ways.

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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