Writing: am I wasting my time?

July 1, 2013

I apologize if this is a repost for those of you who receive blog posts by email or view them via a blog feed reader. We did some reshuffling last week to ensure you don’t miss out an inspiring guest post but we are back to regular scheduling now.

No seriously, am I?

I spend painful tiny writing sessions at the crack of dawn adding 50 words to my story then another 50 and another 50 until maybe I hit 500-800 before it’s time for me to get to my day job, and I wonder, why on earth do I do that?

Do you ever get that feeling?

I question myself over and over, realist to the possibility that this manuscript is perhaps just practice. That no matter how I submit it down the ladder of agents, trad-publishers and small publisher, it might never be good enough to actually be read.

And that the 250 hrs I spent are just gone from my life.

I just sit there at times in front of the blank page or staring at lines of unedited work wondering, why continue to do this if there are no guarantees?

It’s really hard to find the answer to that question, isn’t it?

Because there are easier ways to spend our extra time, easier ways to earn a living, or be creative and certainly not something to do in a quest for fame. So why?

There are so so many people we meet who confess they have a book in them. Is it a way to express ourselves to the world? To put some order to our jumbled thoughts, inner voices and dreams.

Maybe I am wasting my time, I truly don’t know. But I could also waste it on mindless TV, Facebook addiction, hours of Angry Birds or snarky gossip with so-so friends.

At least I’ll have something out of it at the end, right? Even if its unfit for public reading!

And at least those voices inside my head will finally have found a home.

Happy Writing!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox


Marketing- Don’t Let Your Head Explode!

April 5, 2012

Easy reading is damn hard writing.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne



I’m choking on the amount of material out there about our industry, all the different ways to market our work, and the changing face of the market itself. After spending many hours trolling the internet, I hope to give you bite size portions to think about and for you to not get overwhelmed by the avalanche of, sometimes very conflicting, information.

The number one item repeated time and again was that it doesn’t matter what route you take to being a published author, you must become savvy to marketing techniques to boost sales. The days of a publishing house taking over and making you a best seller are gone. The houses expect you to have an online presence and that you are willing to put much effort into promoting yourself. Brick and mortar publishing models will have you in stores for a finite amount of time and then you are done. E publishers will promote you on their website, offer you a chance to blog  to the readers who frequent their site, but after a certain amount of time, you are done. If you want to continue to have your books sell, then you MUST have some kind of strategy. Right, wrong, or indifferent this is today’s reality and every author needs to get on board for long term survival.

A good friend of mine, author Suzan Harden, directed me to http://victorinewrites.blogspot.com/2011/03/sales-growth-over-time in order for me to see several indie authors post their numbers of sales over a period of time. I strongly suggest you hop over there to study the numbers yourselves, but here are my general impressions of the data.

– Most authors start off with small numbers, but with time grew. This makes sense because growing is due to word of mouth which is now done in an IT sort of way.

-Sales generally increased around the holidays which led to continued higher sales for many of the authors.

– Based on their anecdotal information, sales spiked consistently with each new release. Some chose to publish short stories, some novellas, some full length novels. It didn’t seem to matter- new material equaled new sales.

-Authors also had spikes when they changed their covers or tweaked the descriptions of their books. I found this very telling because it confirms my belief that unless you are a cover artist/marketing guru, you should spend some money and hire a professional designer for your cover. We are a society of instant gratification and if the picture on the front doesn’t grab us within the first 5 to 10 seconds, you’ve lost a potential buyer.

– As a whole, those authors that had more than one item for sale had better sales. (Although there were exceptions to this.)

Every author should consider establishing a Facebook personal page, a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, a You Tube account and a blog. Even as I write this, I need to warn you not to take on all of these things at one time and not every single one will be right for every person. The next couple of weeks, I will give you a breakdown of each of these, mistakes that many authors make, and more data from published authors that I’m collecting. This is such a huge topic with many layers, but I believe we must explore and commit to being an active part in the business side of  creativity.


“Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”

September 15, 2011

No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.  ~Russell Lynes

By: Stacey Purcell

I’m sure a lot of you have read about author Kiana Davenport’s trouble with a large traditional publishing house. In case you haven’t, I’ll do a short re-cap. This author signed a deal for a book that she wrote which was due to come out in 2012.

So far, so good.

Ms. Davenport has won numerous awards, been previously published and by all rights is a wonderful writer. She is also a fashion model who lived the high life and spent most all of her money. She submitted and was accepted by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin books. The terms for her new contract were less than what she used to command, but she needed the money that the advance would pay.

Just prior to this arrangement, she came across Joe Konrath’s blog about self-publishing and turned to him for help. With a bit of guidance, she sold a collection of short stories and was successful! She then published a second collection and  the proverbial poop hit the fan!

 “The editor shouted at me repeatedly on the phone.  I was accused of breaching my contract (which I did not) but worse, of ‘blatantly betraying them with Amazon,’ their biggest and most intimidating competitor.  I was not trustworthy.  I was sleeping with the enemy.”

Kiana Davenport immediately hired a lawyer. (Good for her!) He pointed out that the first collection was published before she signed the contract, so they turned their attention to the second collection and demanded that she take it off line, erase all mention on the internet about her short stories and that she submit in writing that she would not publish any of her back log items while her current book was with them. (That would represent a good two or more years of her life.)

Can you say straight jacket?

She refused. (Yay!) They terminated their contract and demanded her advance back. They are also holding her novel hostage until she sends them the money. That’s the whole sordid affair in a nutshell.

My first response to reading about her plight was disbelief. I simply couldn’t believe that an established business under the banner of an even bigger company would resort to classic bully tactics fronted by their legal department. After spending several hours researching articles posted by several amazing bloggers (lawyers included), I can say I was wrong. Do they not realize writers have blogs? Stories like this WILL get out and spread like wild fire.

Authors are urged to remember they are “professionals” in most every writing group out there. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ad nauseum to always be on my best behavior, remember this is a profession, dress appropriately etc. etc. etc. So I ask the question, “How professional was it that the editor screamed at her over the phone? How professional was it that they called her agent offering treats so she would move forward in the right spirit?” I would also answer the questions by saying that they seem to be on shaky legal ground.

I haven’t seen the contract, I can only interpret the actions by both parties. If the publisher thought they had an iron clad legal stand, there wouldn’t be such an emotional outburst on the editor’s part, and they wouldn’t have tried to offer incentives for her to agree to their terms.

“The vice president and publisher of that house called my agent, offering extra little sweetmeats if I would just capitulate and ‘adopt the right spirit going forward.’  This somewhat sinister and semi-benevolent attempt at mind-control fascinated me.”

I think someone at Riverhead omitted the clause about what they would allow her to publish or not publish during the tenure of their agreement. I also think that if all of the above is true, then they are in breach of contract. By terminating the contract and demanding the advance back, on baseless grounds, they are now in the wrong. I believe they are bluffing by demanding the advance back and I’ll bet that her lawyer is telling her much the same thing. **Remember, I’m not a lawyer and am only expressing my thoughts.**

This whole story makes me sad. Not every publisher is a bad guy, some actually support the idea that the author is out there drumming up business and making their presence known on line. It seems to me that it’s a win-win situation and a model that would help traditional publishers stay afloat in this tumultuous time. Scenarios, like this, hurt everyone and I hope that the coming days as the landscape dramatically changes in our business, we will see calmer, more rational behavior from all.

Take some responsibility! by Candi Wall

September 12, 2011

So I hit the purchase button the other night SEVEN times. Yeah, you heard me right. Seven times. For a grand total of $21. and some change.

I don’t part easily with my money, except when it comes to books. I could spend THOUSANDS. (Checking to make sure hubby didn’t read that.) Below is what my house will probably look like some day.

I usually don’t complain. But here’s the thing. I read the first book – LOVED IT – and went on to the next. It was a .99 cent purchase from an author I didn’t know, self-pubbed and I liked the premise. Hey I’ll give anyone a chance. ONCE.

I hadn’t reached the end of the first chapter when I realized I’d given my money away for nothing. I groaned, archived the sucker and went on to the next one. The next wasn’t as bad, but there was a plot hole the size of Jupiter about midway through and by this point I was losing interest in the hero. Too bad, because it started off as a good read. Darn.

I’ve twittered several times about this as well, venting my frustration for the self-pubbed authors who are making other self-pubbed author look bad. Every reader who has a bad experience with a self-pubbed book makes it harder for other authors to sell! Argh, the frustration! And I’m not even self-pubbed.

At this point, hubby was starting to get sick of my ‘waspish’ attitude. After three more days, my results were:

Seven purchases

1- Loved

2- Liked

4- Couldn’t finish

I know – it’s a crap shoot right?!?

NO! It isn’t.

And here’s where dear hubby had all he was going to take.

In his words…

“What did you expect, hon?” Raising a quizzical brow. “If you go to Wal-Mart and buy a vacuum for twenty bucks, you get what you pay for. It’s like buying toilet paper at the dollar store. It ain’t gonna hold up.” (Yep, I’m married to a thinner version of Larry the Cable Guy.)

Well how dare he. I have friends who self publish. That’s not fair! (Insert indignant foot-stomping) “There are tons of authors out there with brilliant books!”

“Really?” says hubby. “Then you would think you’d do your homework before you buy.”

GADS! He’s SO right. And I’m so not going to tell him that. Sheesh.

What was I thinking?!?

We’ve been spoiled peeps. Let’s face it. The publishers we’ve come to trust have given us so many great books, we may have forgotten how to check the products first. Don’t get me wrong, one person’s crap is another’s gold. I hate what you love at times and visa-versa. But we came to rely on what they put out there.

Now if we, the consumer, are going to gripe about prices and go elsewhere to read at super cheap prices, we’ll have to start doing our own research. We’re spoiled again however, because there is this ingenious little thing called the World Wide Web. Search engines abound, and at any time, we can sluice through the crap to ferret out the truth, or at least get a sense of what we’re getting into.

Here’s my new list of things I check BEFORE I purchase:

  • Google the author
  • Do they have blogs?
  • Reviews? (Other than where I’m purchasing from and checking the author’s responses to reviews)
  • Any other books out?
  • Website?
  • And of course – I ask my writing/reading pals
Seems like a lot of work, but hey, there are some amazing authors out there getting lost in the shuffle of self-pubbing. I want to find, support and enjoy them. If that means I have to do a few minutes of research, so be it. I’m a big girl, I can handle the responsibility of checking out my purchase’s history beforehand. After all, who wants a $20 vacuum that doesn’t work, when you can get the fantastic $5 super sweeper that might just be the next big thing?
So take some responsibility as readers! Check it out first.


September 5, 2011

Hello All,

I’m super excited to have this writer here today. I was lucky enough to find and befriend Saranna DeWylde during the Next Best Celler contest at Textnovel, and I’m extremely lucky we’ve stayed pals since. I could list her qualities (one of which happens to be a ridiculously fast and super efficient crit partner who puts me to SHAME) but I’ll let you get to know her through her writing, which is what drew me to her in the first place.

Saranna recently released her uber sexy THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MOUNT OLYMPUS and she’ll be giving away one PDF copy to one lucky comment EVERY TEN COMMENTS! Sweet!

I loved this book in its earliest draft and now – awesome.

Love the cover!

Welcome Saranna!

Let’s start out easy! What do you write and is there one genre you wish you could write but don’t?

I write paranormal romance, urban fantasy, contemporary and erotica. I also write a bit of true crime. I used to be a horror author but after my employment as a corrections officer, it sort of changed what I wanted out of my career and what I wanted to put out into the world. I’ve even got a romantic suspense that’s been poking at me to give it some attention.

The second part of the question is harder to answer. I don’t really write in genre, (contrary to labels I slapped on myself in the previous paragraph. *laughs*) I write the story that wants to be told. The one living in my head. So, if I have a hard-boiled cop story in my head, that’s what I write. If I have a historical in my head, I’ll write it. I think anyone can do the same as long as you’re true to the characters and the story that needs/wants to be told.

Um, the correction’s officer part is true and Saranna just sold her memoir about that time in her life. WOOT! Okay, back on subject. Are you a plotter or pantser?

Mostly a pantser. I usually have a general idea of what I want to happen, major plot points in my head when I start. I don’t write it down though, or make a story arc or an *shudders* outline. I do, every so often, write down some GMC statements where I can see them. Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Just to remind myself what drives my characters and that really helps me keep them in character so I don’t have to go back and delete 20K of material because it’s not working.

Can you tell us what made you decide to self-publish Housewives?

It was a tough decision, but everyone who read it as far as agents and editors were concerned told me they thought it was too snarky. But my critique partner and other beta readers loved it. More importantly, *I* loved it. I believe in it. There is so much more to it than the snark and it’s using the gods as they were meant to be used. As an allegory for ourselves and what I like best about romance–in that it shows us redemption and happily ever afters are possible for all of us.

Further, publishing is changing so fast now. It’s shifting with new technology, new ways to get stories to readers and new ways to connect with each other. Platforms, markets, and even product are all in a spin. I wanted to dip my toe in the water and check it out. So far, it’s been great. I got exactly what I wanted for this book as far as character, content, even my cover is exactly what I imagined.

Regardless of whether I’m with a traditional publisher, an epublisher, and indie publisher or publishing myself building a backlist is important.

I had requests for something after I did some promo for my Kensington books that won’t be out until 2012.

So, you add all of that together in a big blender and get the self-publish smoothie.

Smoothies, yum. Okay, even a publishing smoothie is yummy considering so many of my fav authors are putting out titles on their own. So is there one pro and one con you’ve found from your experience self-pubbing?

They’re the same thing. Being responsible for everything myself. It was cool because like I mentioned earlier, I got to produce this product exactly to my specifications and my visions.

But wow, the pressure. There were some things I had trouble with and luckily I have awesome friends who were right there to jump in the fire with me and help me out.

Any advice for those considering the self-pub path?

I’ve only done it with one book so far, but I’ve learned that people do expect more from a self-pub book because of the stigma of being self-pubbed. It’s not as bad as it used to be, there are a lot of good books out there self-pubbed. But don’t let it get to you. Accept it and prove them wrong. Put out the best product you can. Engage an editor, take time with your cover and remember a book isn’t just your creative expression, it’s a product. If you want people to buy it, you have to treat it like a product and you are the brand.

Okay, now some fun stuff:

Who’s your favorite character in Housewives and why?

Thanatos. He’s so modern, kind of cyberpunk. He’s like Death living in The Matrix. He’s one of the most powerful gods, but he wears it so casually. He accepts what he is, a little dark and brooding, (I mean, come on. He’s Death.) but he still has a sense of humor, he’s witty. Hades was the one I thought I’d fall for, but I ended up being stuck on him just a little bit.

Where did the idea for HOUSEWIVES come from?

I was talking shop in chat with a few friends of mine and we were talking about cool titles. I threw that one out there and one of my friends demanded I log off and write it. So I did.

HA! I know that friend. She’s a slave driver. Thank goodness! Tell us a secret about Housewives. Were there any deleted scenes you’d put in the extras category if this were a dvd?

There were not any deleted scenes. Usually, there is something I delete but the words flew hot and fast with this one. I would just sit down in the morning and crank out sometimes three chapters a day and it was surprisingly very clean. Although, I had trouble with Demeter’s chapters. I didn’t like her much and living in her head was hard for me until she learns her lesson.

As I’m a card carrying metal head, it may surprise those of you who know me that this book had its own CD. Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster. Each couple has a song. I don’t write to music anymore, I used to, but I weaned myself away from it. Although, I could hear these songs in my head when I wrote them.

Hera/Hades-Dancing in the Dark

Demeter/Eros- Bad Romance




And if this were a DVD, I’d have an interactive section where you could dress them up like live-action Barbie dolls.

This is always hard, but can you tell us a secret about you?

I, the all powerful Amazon Goddess of Doom, am afraid of cows. I hate them. The neighbor’s bull broke through the electric fence to chase me a 1/2 mile UP-friggin-HILL home. And ever since then, the cows across the street watch me with their big soulful eyes, but inside, I know they’re laughing.

Or they could just be looking for my mini Amazons. They like to feed them Hershey’s kisses. (When my youngest was smaller, she thought if she gave them Hershey’s, she’d get chocolate milk so she’d sneak over and give them some.)

LOL! COWS?!? Hey I can’t say much since I freeze up like Medusa glared at me whenever a spider makes an appearance. Thanks for being a good sport.

Here’s an excerpt of HOUSEWIVES:


     “Thanatos!” she cried when she saw her oldest son lounging on her temple steps.

     “Hey, Ma.” He stood and endured her hug.

     “I thought you were working all week. Wasn’t there a natural disaster in South America?”

     “Wouldn’t you know it, it’s so cool. Red Cross showed up and the volunteers saved a bunch of people.”

     Nyx hadn’t seen him in what felt like a century. In fact, she almost started counting on her fingers to see if it had been that long. “I suppose you’re hungry. Fig cakes with cream cheese frosting?”

     Thanatos patted his flat stomach. “You know me so well.”

     “Why are you outside? You could have gone in, you know.” Nyx pushed the door open.

     “I didn’t want to startle you. Might fall and break a hip and I’d feel bad.” He shrugged.

     “You little shit,” she laughed. He was always teasing her about her age. She was a Titan after all and older than all of the gods. She was one of the last of the old guard; one Zeus was sure wouldn’t try to overthrow his power. He was mistaken about that one, only she didn’t want the power herself. She wanted him to stop treating Hera like crap. Or divorce her. That at least, would be honest.

     He smirked back at her. Of her two sons, Thanatos was most like her. She loved her children the same, but she had a special kinship with Thanatos.

     “So uh, what’s the deal with Persephone and Hades?” he asked as he followed her inside.

     Tartarus on cracker! What was with that girl that these dark types were so stuck on her? Was it because she was blond? Nyx just didn’t get it. Not that she had anything against the girl, but it wasn’t like she was as pretty as Hera. Or as smart as Athena.

     “You have been out of the gossip loop for awhile, yeah? They broke up, so to speak.”

     “He let her go? Dumbass.” Thanatos shook his head.

     “What would you have him do? Sacrifice the world for her?”

     “Well, yeah,” Thanatos answered as if that were the only reasonable response.

     Nyx couldn’t argue with that, but she tried anyway. “Hades released her from the curse too. He didn’t want her to be unhappy.”

     At that, her son was silent for a moment. “So how hard do you think Demeter would smite me if I asked Persephone out?”

     “She better not smite you, or I’ll kick her ass up over her shoulders. She has winter, but I’ll drench the world in eternal night if she tries.” Nyx was thoughtful for a moment. “Unless of course you were unreasonably handsy or demanding. Or acted like Zeus. Or—,”

     “I get the picture, Ma. By the way, you look great.”

     “You’re just saying that because my hair looks like yours now.” She scowled.

    “Moonlight and stardust. No one can resist.” He smirked as if it was just his trial to bear, being that attractive.

   “Nice deflection. I mean what I said. If you want Persephone, do what you will, but don’t be a dick. Got it?”

     “Yeah, Ma. Don’t be a dick. Got it,” he recited dutifully.

     “So I have to ask. What’s with you dark and tortured types and this girl?”

     “I dunno. She’s hot. It’s not like I want to marry her or anything. It would just be a date. Maybe a kiss.” He considered for a moment. “Maybe something else.”

     “That girl is a virgin, Thanatos.” Yes, he was her son and she loved him dearly, but he was one-hundred percent male—thinking with his parts. She had to struggle not to sigh.

     “She’s probably got a family of bats living in there after all this time. Don’t you think it would be okay if she—,”

            “You know, we so don’t need to have this conversation.” She threw her hands up in defeat. Nyx loved that her boys talked to her, confided in her, but there were some things a mother just didn’t need to know.

Thanks so much for coming by hon. Okay everyone, Saranna’s an open book so if you have questions, ask away. And make sure you leave a comment to get a chance at a free copy!
And here’s where you can find THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MOUNT OLYMPUS:

Paying the TimeKeeper – Blogger’s Debt

July 27, 2011

Song of the Day: Paparazzi by Lady Gaga

So, let’s talk about author blogs. Commentaries, musings, chronicles, running narratives of a writer’s life, there are a bajillion out there. But are they effective in bringing in sales and new readers? Or are they another time sucking black hole?

The answer I’ve come up with – yes and no.

Blogs are great tools in developing a web presence, especially when following a few tips. Blogs should reflect the blogger’s personality, be entertaining, and offer something (education, advice, links, prizes, a good knee-slapping laugh, etc.) to readers.  Length can be whatever the blogger is comfortable with, but shorter is sometimes better, especially when blogging often. (Not today. Sorry.) The blogger should make every effort to reply to every commenter. Personal touches go a long way, showing the blogger is not a cold, unapproachable, one dimensional being.

There is no question blogs are important to writers, whether they write them or not. Commenting on blogs regularly is an easy way to gain name recognition. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say it takes seven times for a person to see a name before that name becomes recognizable. That’s what we want, right? To be recognizable? Okay, maybe we won’t walk outside and be blinded by dozens of paparazzi flash bulbs. But we do want people to remember us.

Let’s go back to my original question. Are blogs another chupacabra sucking us dry of our precious time?

A question to ask yourself is who is the target market for your blog? For many of us, our circles of followers are other authors. This is great because writers tend to form supportive, tight knit communities. And in this industry, we need to each other’s back. But how far will that go in terms of sales and readership? It goes back to becoming active in the blogosphere.

We want to expand from the bubble of friends. We want to draw in readers near AND far.

Many authors do blog tours. Any way you slice it, blog tours are time consuming. Consider the time spent looking for and corresponding with other bloggers for a guest spot. Also consider that the content posted will need to be fresh and unique for each site. Don’t forget the time spent replying to every commenter to your post.

If you have time for a blog tour, I say go for it. Got a couple of tips for you, too. Keep the blog tour to a manageable amount, be that 10, 25, or 50 stops. Offer prizes. People will likely ‘follow’ you (think Grateful Dead’s Deadheads) on your tour if they have a chance to win something. Have a boilerplate about yourself and your book’s information already prepared. The boilerplate can easily be copied and pasted into each blog written. Don’t just hit up all your writer buds for guest spots and interviews. There are endless blogging opportunities out there. Expand on blogs that have content you may be interested in. For example, if your book is about a dragon-slaying pastry chef who falls in love with a racecar-driving homicide detective. You might consider looking for blogs about Renaissance festivals, Nascar, baking, and law enforcement and write a blog relevant to those topics. And if you have a boilerplate at the end, you’ll be slipping in that PSA on your book, upcoming release, or YOU the future best-selling author.

Need help finding blogs to appear as a guest? You might try Myguestblogger.com to get you started. Or try Googling ‘guest blogging sites’ or ‘guest bloggers wanted *topic*’. There is also The Cheap, a blog for authors and readers who welcome guest bloggers. Then there is MuseTracks.  That’s right. Want to do a guest blog here, contact one of us!

If tours aren’t your cup of ale, you can still use these blog tips to your advantage and at your leisure. Keep at it regularly and you will likely pick up a few loyal followers. That translates to readers and sales.

Just as with keeping up with the Joneses (damn you Jones- shaking fists in frustration) on social media sites, it goes back to managing your time to fit in a couple of blogs a day/week to visit, comment, and write.

For me, I recognize that my plate is full. I don’t have the time to do a blog tour. I will gladly do interviews, and I always try to put a fun spin on each one. But I am human and I know I can’t do more at this moment.

What about you? Do you blog? Love it? Hate it? Any advice to share? Let’s hear from you!

Make Sure You Have A Tribe In Your Pocket!

June 9, 2011

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.  Robert Benchley


Let's go viral with our marketing

If you are a writer and you want to make money with your books, then you are a business. This is the message that comes through loud and clear as I criss cross the internet researching how other people have become successful selling their books. It is a discipline.

Once you’ve adjusted to this mind shift, then you can get on with the business of marketing yourself and your book. The first move is to create a road map of how you will go about selling your book. Building a successful business requires capital. I know this is a delicate topic, but one that needs to be met head-on. If you think you can do this without spending something, then you are selling yourself a load of rubbish. How much are you willing to spend on marketing? How about products or services of other people? What is necessary to meet your goal? This does not mean a lot of money needs to be set aside, it only means that this should be a well thought out process.

Once a realistic budget has been set, tap into your social networking circles. This is easier said than done. Research shows that the more people see your ad, the more they trust the product. Don’t post your ad one time and wait for the money to roll in. It takes a minimum of seven times for your ad to be viewed before it becomes effective. It is suggested that you run the ad once a week for 2 months. This is, of course, after you have built this social platform into a marketing machine that welcomes your ads.

Marketing your book into a best seller is far easier if you have a large platform from which to spring off. Trissa Tismal calls this platform, a fan base or a tribe. Simply put, it is a group of people interested in what you have to say and love your work. How do you build an online tribe that acts as a sturdy platform? Building this group must be a priority that can start well before you’ve finished your first piece of work. A writer must use the 90/10 rule. When you are connecting with people on or off line, then expect to give them value rich content 90% of the time while trying to sell your book only 10% of the time. I thought this was an extremely useful guideline that Ms. Tismal shared and it makes a lot of sense.

Be generous. Share your knowledge. Be there to offer information to others. This creates a sense of trust and appreciation between you and your tribe. Another way to do this is to connect people within your network. Introduce them to each other if you think they will benefit from it. People will be impressed that you thought about them enough to make this gesture. Above sharing your knowledge and connecting people together, be very generous sharing your heartfelt wishes with them. Cheer them on if they’ve been successful and support them if they need a kind word. Sharing emotions establishes a greater sense of community and trust.

Once that platform is established, try giving people a free sampling of your book. Set up your website or the messaging system of your social network where visitors can give their name and email address so they can download a few chapters of your story. Ms. Tismal even suggests that you can be creative and give out something other than your book that will bring in people and give them a sense of what you do. I believe this is a strategic bit of advice because for every person who gives you their email and reads your material, they then become new members of your tribe. You will be able to communicate with them regularly through email, articles, teleseminars etc.

Don’t forget to let your friends and family that aren’t on social networking sites be included in your efforts. Use a phone call, an email or the old fashioned letter in the mail to let them know about your book. You can ask them to put in a good word for you with their friends and to make a referral sale. You CAN go viral on and off the computer, it just takes effort. My friend, Melissa Ohnoutka, joined her mother’s book club after they read her book (on her mother’s urging). They, in turn, told their friends how much they liked it and how enjoyable it was to have Melissa come to their club. It’s much like a pebble dropping in a pond and the concentric circles spreading out across the still water. The pebble is our effort and it will bring results that reach far beyond our little corner of the world.

What Is An Entrepenauthor?

June 2, 2011

Publication – is the auction of the Mind of Man.  ~Emily Dickinson

Do you have passion for what you do? How about drive and persistence? Have you ever thought about those three words? If you haven’t, now’s the time to decide if you want to be a successfully published author or simply one that has your work out there in the public eye- sitting, stagnating, wasting away like a decaying fish on a hot summer’s afternoon.

Some of you might think my opening is a bit strong. I would suggest to you that, like it or not, those three words will have to be a part of your every move if you want to make money. I’ve always maintained that the writing industry is schizophrenic in that you have the great camaraderie among authors who are willing to bend over backwards to help each other versus the business side which is as cut-throat as any Wall Street entity would dare to be. Whether you will be traditionally published or take matters into your own hands doesn’t matter- it’s time that you learn how to embrace what happens after you write “The End” in your novel.

We’ve discussed a few different ways to market your book, today I want to introduce you to the idea of being an entrepenauthor! Trissa Tismal coined that term and I think it’s brilliant.  Once the decision has been made to sell your material, you are a business! As such, the first thing that needs to be created is a mission statement. It only has to be ten to twenty words. It is to focus the needs you’ll meet for the consumer. Is it to entertain? To provide an escape? To scare the living begesus out of them? To titillate them? The key word there is to focus and then make sure you are constantly writing to fulfill your mission statement.

An entrepenauthor has created a mindset shift. Authors need to be in complete control of their writing and publishing destinies, but that means thinking outside of our cozy artistic playgrounds. An entrepreneurial attitude will allow us to make a niche in this industry. Niches makes riches, it also creates a focused market to aim our energies at.

We create that niche by doing market research and positioning our product. Go to your local bookstore, (or online) and find the top five selling books in the genre you would like to publish in. Study them. What similarities do they all have? Dissect them to understand why they are so popular. That’s called market research, BTW. Now, decide how you will make yours different. Darker? Funnier? Shorter, longer? What niche will you occupy?

Now comes the scary part- the marketing plan. This is where most authors, no matter the level of writing talent, fall flat on their face and start to rot like those fish in the sun. We’ve all heard of the J.K. Rowling success story, but it is the exception, not the rule.  Research shows that for every one million books sold, 950,000 of them sell less than 99 books. Wow, really? That’s not much to show for years worth of work.

To stay out of that group, you need to create a road map of the things you need to do to increase the potential sales. Let’s start with the idea of publishing. If you are being published by an established house, then you may skip this step. If you are self publishing, then don’t use your name as the publisher. Create a name for your company. Check to see if it’s already taken and register it. Typically company names end with Books, Press, or Publishing. You can be creative, but make it general enough to give yourself some latitude in case you change genres. For instance, if you write erotica, you might choose Throw Me Down Publishing. If you were then to switch to YA, that might not be the best choice.

You are an entrepenauthor! This week you’ve learned how to create a niche for a target market, how to make a mission statement to focus your energies on creating something that no one else can, and have begun thinking of yourself as part of a business entity.

I’m challenging all of you to think of a mission statement and a publishing company name. What will it convey? If you’re feeling brave, share it with all of us. You never know, your words may inspire someone else to find their own.

Pitch Day at ‘Agent Shop’ with agent Jenny Bent and author Ellyn Bache

May 29, 2011


UPDATE: STOP! We’ve received the pitches we need. Check back tomorrow to see if yours made it in time! (and hopefully followed the rules.) I’ll also announce the winner of the Top Pitch Slot and the copy of The Art if Saying Goodbye.

Good Luck!

Welcome to another ‘Agent Shop’. It’s pitch day! YAY!

We’re happy to welcome Jenny Bent from The Bent Agency to this session of Agent Shop.

Today we also have Jenny’s client, Ellyn Bache, with us for the author spotlight with her novel, THE ART OF SAYING GOODBYE.

Leave a comment below using the words ART and GOODBYE for a chance at the Top Pitch Slot or a signed copy of The Art of Saying Goodbye!

Welcome Ellyn!



In a gesture of support and affection for a long-time neighbor who has fallen ill, four women in a close-knit suburban development tie white ribbons to trees in front of their houses, and embark on a powerful journey of transformation. Their ailing friend has always been the neighborhood star, an effervescent beauty whose charm draws all of them in.  As they grapple with her illness, each of them responds in a different way as she sees her own problems with new perspective.  A marriage put on hold because of a difficult child, a nurse’s eerie and unwanted gift of diagnosis, widow’s destructive bitterness, the price of a successful career, all come into play to shape their stories. Ultimately, each one learns to say goodbye … but not before drawing from her friend’s strength the courage to move on and change, as she recognizes that her own life, in the afterglow of someone else’s, is richer and more precious than she thought.

Praise for The Art of Saying Goodbye

“This is a moving, gratifying, and inspiring reminder to live life to its fullest and demonstrate love in every possible way to friends and family.”—Publishers Weekly

The Art of Saying Goodbye is a deeply felt and beautiful story that portrays what friends can mean to each other in ways that are difficult to articulate, and Bache has done so here in perfect pitch. Bravo!”—Dorothea Benton Frank, bestselling author of “Sullivan’s Island” and “Folly Beach”

This sounds like such a powerful read. I have to ask, where did the title come from?

From Jenny Bent.  We had been tossing titles around for weeks.  Nobody liked the preliminary ones — “The Ribbon Trees,” and before that, “Ribbons for Paisley.”  Then Jenny came up with THE ART OF SAYING GOODBYE, and from the first moment, it sounded right.  It was exactly what the book was about — five women learning the art of saying goodbye, not just to a friend, but to elements of their own lives that weren’t working, that needed to be discarded so they could move on and grow.


Care to share what ‘The call’ was like?

In addition to being a remarkable agent, Jenny is one of the finest editors I’ve ever worked with.  When she first saw the book, she had a number of questions she wanted me to address.  What was amazing was how right she seemed to be on every issue.  The minute she posed it, I invariably thought, yes, this is something I need to work on.  And I did.  When she finally thought the manuscript was ready to go out, we both felt confident about it — and she sold the book in three days.  What a thrill!


That’s awesome. Both that you have such a great working relationship with Jenny AND that she sold it in three days! What else do you have in the works?

Something almost too new to talk about.  But I can tell you it’s about a friendship between several women, one really annoying man, and the art of walking dogs.


Too fun. We look forward to seeing more from you. What’s your advice for aspiring authors?

I’ve been writing for a long time, and there are two things I think are most critical: Stick with it.  And don’t lose confidence. If you sit down every day and write, you are going to get better.  You are going to learn skills you never thought you’d master.  You need to believe in yourself enough to send that work out when it’s ready (knowing when it’s ready is another topic altogether).  You need to believe good things will happen.  Sooner or later, they will.  In today’s competitive market, even the most accomplished writers are often rejected, criticized, and (too often) demoralized.  Don’t give up. If you have a supportive writing group that believes in your project, that’s a huge help, too.  But you have to keep at it, no matter what.  Persistence, persistence, persistence!

That’s great advice! 

Where can we find you Ellyn?


Harper Collins

Fresh Fiction



Where can we buy The Art of Saying Goodbye?


Barnes and Noble



Thanks so much for being our spotlight today and we wish you the best!

Make sure you find Ellyn and The Art of Saying Goodbye out there.

And now it’s time!

Agent Shop is open. Read the rules, polish your pitch and –


Book Cover Basics

May 11, 2011

Song of the Day: The Best by Tina Turner

How important is a book cover? The short answer – very.

Whether traditionally published or digital, the cover is the first thing a potential reader sees. The cover is the precursor to the story. The images should convey the overall essence of the book, genre, and emotion. If the author has an opportunity to offer input or create their own cover, there are a few things to consider.

Gracing the cover can be a hero, heroine, an object, scenery, action, or any combination of these.

Photo by Ken Centauri

Character body language and facial expressions on the cover are tell-tale signs marking the book’s theme. Individuals may be in defensive positions, embracing, smiling seductively, fleeing, brooding, scared, etc. Are the individuals holding an object? A weapon, rose, horse reins, lipstick, key, can of Pringles. These things clue the reader in on the type of story they are about to discover.  What are the characters wearing? Leather corset, army fatigues, gothic eye makeup, cowboy boots, school uniform, birthday suit, leg warmers, you get the idea.

What about  backgrounds? Many times a background is not necessary. An object, facial demeanor, or clever title may be all that is needed.  But if there is a background, what does it show? A jungle, cockpit, English garden, mausoleum, or wildebeest, distant focal points can be simple or complex. Keep in mind these images should say something about the book. You would probably mislead a reader if your cover’s background consisted of a NASCAR race track but the story featured zombie-hunting astronauts.

The font should compliment the book, too. Block letters of various shapes and styles can be applied to almost any genre fiction. Cursive might denote whimsy, elegance, historical, or all things girlie.  Sharp or dripping lettering might suggest dark plots or the paranormal. There are thousands of fonts to choose from to fit any theme.

Color is important, not just in the font, but in the picture as a whole. Just as black and white can mean good vs. evil, light and dark can be manipulated to match the core of the story. Red signifies death or blood. Blue represents suspense and chills. Orange suggests action and purple, passion. Softer hues might mean fun, inspiring, or sweet story overtones, whereas, darker hues indicate grit, thrills, or steamy plots. Of course, these are simply my interpretations. How the colors are used with images and fonts determines the mood.

Details speak volumes. It’s all subliminal. With a cover like this, you know you want to buy me.

Let’s be honest. How many of you picked out a book because the cover caught your attention? It’s a step toward selling your book.

I was aware of all this when I began to envision the cover for my own debut book. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted. Turning to e-publishing gave me the opportunity to create my dream cover. I spent countless hours searching for the perfect images. Thank you Jimmy Thomas (whistling to His Hotness).  Through the magic fingers and know-how of a special young lady, she put my images together exactly how I had asked, making me one happy writer.

I showed my brand spanking new cover to a few friends like a proud peacock. Amid the oohs and ahhs, there were a few “suggestions”. Suddenly, my tail feathers drooped. My dream cover had flaws.

The font might not be the best choice. (hmm…) The font color makes the title difficult to see in a thumbnail. (grumble, grumble) The title is misleading. Could you change that, too? (mouth falls agape)

Soul searching, I did a lot of soul searching on that last one. But I needed to hear these honest opinions. They are, after all, helpful in the grand scheme of things. I must love my cover, but I also must be reasonable and practical. And so, my cover is undergoing a nip and tuck. Once I have the finalized version, I’ll share it here on MuseTracks.

Ultimately, it comes down to marketing. The cover, every facet of it, must intrigue potential readers to want to learn more. It is a window meant to entice peering through. It is a piece of art that sparks the imagination.

Tell me about your covers. What do you like and dislike?  Let me hear from you.