Category Archives: Tricks of the Trade

How to tips on self publishing.

Top 5 Publishers for New Authors

These companies vary widely in what they publish, how fast the respond to submissions and how they accept those submissions. The goal here is to give you the information necessary for you to take the next step in getting your book published by a publishing house.

While in most cases there are exceptions to every rule, in the publishing business the rules are carved in granite. The top publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. For those you have no choice but submit through an agent. Sending your book to them yourself is pointless as they flatly refuse to consider anything unsolicited and simply throw them away.

The Crossroad Publishing Company

This publishing company is focused on religious thought and spiritual living. This company is the oldest on this list which means that it has a historic track record of success. They don’t offer advances but they do offer a larger share of the profits than other companies so that should be taken into consideration.

Company History

This is a rare publishing company that has an incredible history and yet still welcomes unsolicited manuscripts. The roots of the company go back to 1798 and the Herder family. In 1980 Crossroads was formed with the Herder Book Company booklists. With a history spanning centuries and not just decades you know that this company is capable of handling your manuscript and your book with great care and consideration.

What they publish

This company focuses primarily on books with a religious basis to them. The popular Bad Catholic humor series is published through them as well as notable works on Christian theology. While many of the books have a Catholic frame of reference, all Christian works are considered in both fiction and nonfiction categories. There are also books on families, relationships, children’s books and everyday living.

Notable Authors

This is a rather notable list of the top personalities in Christianity including Pope Benedict and Mother Theresa. Robert Barron is also published here as is of course John Zmirak, the writer of the previously mentioned Bad Catholic Guides

What you need to know before submitting your manuscript

Take a few minutes before submitting your manuscript and look over the submission guidelines on their website. They are fairly standard but you should note a few things are requested. Please see their website at for a more detailed list:

  • Proposal Title
  • A brief pitch of the project
  • A few paragraphs describing the project
  • Intended format for the book
  • A table of contents
  • Approximate word length
  • A mostly finished book
  • Intended audience
  • Your bibliography and resume

Crossroads Publishing will only accept e-mail submissions of manuscripts. Additionally, while they try to respond within 6-8 weeks, they cannot guarantee that this will happen or that you will receive a response at all.

Witness Impulse Publishers

Does your heart race at the thought of a corpse in a toolshed? Perhaps you prefer a man vanishing without a trace in a locked room? If so I really hope you’re a mystery writer! If you are then Witness Impulse Publishers might be just the publishing company for you.

Just so you know in advance, Witness Impulse authors get 25% royalties for the first 10,000 copies sold and 50% after that.

Company History

This is as close to getting involved with one of the big house publishing companies as you can get without an agent. The good news is that the company in question is HarperCollins.

What they publish

Violence, murder and mayhem! This is the HarperCollins division dedicated to all things mysterious. From historical mysteries to modern police procedurals (Think CSI or Law and Order) and psychological thrillers, if it’s mysterious then it might find a home here. They love a good mystery series so consider this when creating your proposal.

Notable Authors

Witness Impulse puts out some heart stoppers thanks to numerous outstanding authors including, James Hayman author of The Cutting and The Chill of Night, Margie Orford,Gallows Hill and Daddy’s Girl, and Stephen Booth Dying to Sin and Scared to Live.

What you need to know before submitting your manuscript

Witness Impulse makes it insanely easy to submit your work to them for consideration. Go to their website at and click on the “Submit Your Writing” link. You get a form page where you fill out the form, including the title, whether or not it’s finished and approximate length.

Don’t let the informality fool you. There are three text boxes that ask for:

  • Brief synopsis
  • Best scene
  • Your query letter

You need to impress them enough to get them to read your submission so don’t take this lightly. Be sure to double and triple check what you write. I recommend writing it in Word or some other word processor and copy/pasting it into the text boxes. When you are finished you will have a chance to upload your manuscript to them. That’s it and you’re done.

Avon Impulse Publishers

Many people, including many writers, joke about romance novels. When you consider that romance novels are a multi-billion dollar share of the publishing then you might consider that this is a genre you don’t want to dismiss.

Avon Impulse is the Romance publishing arm of HarperCollins. Like The previously mentioned Witness Impulse, you don’t need an agent to break into this extremely lucrative area of writing with a top publishing house. The same royalties apply here as with Witness Impulse: 25% of the first 10,000 and 50% of everything after that.

Company History

This division of HarperCollins is focused on churning out as many new romance novels as possible. They created this unit several years ago with the specific goal of meeting the demands of their readers. Since then they have grown rapidly and anyone who writes for them has the HarperCollins name backing their work.

What they publish

These are more modern styled romance novels. You still have the romance and steam but Avon Impulse is open to characters that reflect the lives of modern women. There is plenty of room here for historical romance novels, of course but they are also welcoming of female characters with strong careers and even alternative lifestyles and non-traditional careers. They want moderate to super steamy here so if you can deliver that to the readers then be sure and submit your manuscript.

They absolutely love new book series! Keep that in mind when you craft your proposal and be sure to let them know if your book is part of a series.

Notable Authors

These authors are the Queens of Steam! You will find Monica Murphy, Lecia Cornwall, Cathy Maxwell and even Elizabeth Boyle on their booklist.

What you need to know before submitting your manuscript

The website here is and the form is exactly the same as it is for Witness Impulse. Again, those text boxes matter so consider writing your responses in a word processor and doing the copy/paste routine.

One slight difference with Avon Impulse is that their website will often put out a call for certain types of romance novels. If you are responding to one of these calls be sure to note it on the form in the space provided. These go to a specific editor and you want to be sure she gets it in a timely manner.

Harlequin Enterprises

Don’t laugh at the multi-billion dollar market share! Even people who have never read a romance novel in their lives know the name of this publisher. If you are looking to crank out a great living as a romance novelist then you should probably head to this company first.

Company History

Infamous for their so-called “bodice rippers,” Harlequin has been the leading publisher of romance novels for decades. They are considered to be the top company in the world for romance novel publication and they don’t require an agent.

What they publish

If I compiled a list of what they were looking for in new material we would be here for the next 5 years. More importantly for the new author, Harlequin has created genres within the genre. They are all romance but they focus on specific types of romance. This division has made it really handy for new writers to get their material to the right editors.

Visit the website at and scroll down the list. Do you like to write romances about women in danger? Try the Romantic Suspense division. You prefer Lords, ladies and knights in not so shining armor? The historical division is where you want to be. They publish virtually any kind of romance you can think of and if you manage to come up with one that they haven’t considered, pitch it to them!

Notable Authors

This reads like a who’s who in publishing because many top authors got their start here. Authors like Mercedes Lackey, Nora Roberts, and Christopher Rice have all written for Harlequin at some point.

What you need to know before submitting your manuscript

This is something of a unique process. First you create an account. You only need one even if you submit several different manuscripts to several different divisions. Once you have created an account you will see a form. Just fill it out and upload your synopsis and then your manuscript. Interestingly, if your manuscript is not accepted within one division you can resubmit it to another to see if it would be a better fit.

Chronicle Books

This company is environmentally friendly, is always on the hunt for new authors and can spot a trend while it’s still forming. This is a great all around company to look into if you are a new author.

Company History

San Francisco based Chronicle Books was founded in 1967 and was once affiliated with the newspaper The San Francisco Chronicle. After nearly 50 years in the publishing business Chronicle books knows how to spot a best seller!

What they publish

If you were disappointed by the previous entries because your manuscript doesn’t fit in any of them then this is the one for you. Chronicle publishes a wide variety of genres including non-fiction, cookbooks, poetry, biographies and books for children of all ages.

Notable Authors

My favorite author, Grumpy Cat, is among the notable authors that have been published by Chronicle. If you tend to favor human authors you fill find E.C. Large, Barbara Boxer, and Ida Magntorn on the booklist here. Equally impressive is their list of New York Times Bestseller books including The Worst Case Survival Handbook and The Beetles Anthology.

What you need to know before submitting your manuscript

For adult trade books Chronicle prefers e-mail submissions on manuscripts. For children’s books they prefer that you mail them. Due to the large volume of submissions they will only contact you if they are interested in publishing your work.

Visit their website at for a detailed manuscript submission guideline as well as the e-mail and postal address of Chronicle books.

There are a couple of unusual points of note in their guidelines:

  • They want a one page cover letter detailing your project, what is included in your submission and why you think they should publish your book. I would really be interested in what Grumpy Cat had to say on that last part.

  • They want a market analysis of the potential readership of the book. This is rather unique but at least you will have a better understanding of who you are trying to reach through your book!

Those are the top publishing companies for new authors. I took into consideration their name recognition, payment to authors and their track record of publishing success. These are great places to get started if you want to move ahead without an agent. To break into the biggest publishing houses you will simply have to have an agent or become such a self-publishing success that they come to you. Happy writing!

Original article


Mentor of the Month – Part 4

I am thrilled to be this month’s feature author and Mentor of the Month on Memoirs of A Kenyan!

Here is the third instalment where I talk candidly about what it was like to write Finding Gloria and A Discreet Betrayal.

POSTED MAY 16, 2o14

Each Monday, during May, there will be a new excerpt posted. Please check it out; and check out the author’s who have been posted.

Do you want to be featured?



Build a relationship with your readers!

The grand rule of marketing for authors is to build a relationship with your readers. But how can you build a relationship when you don’t know who’s buying your book? Amazon andApple don’t disclose their customers’ contact information to authors, and neither do traditional bookstores. But authors can get to know their readers by shifting their websites from passive to active.

A passive web site describes your books, lists your bio, links to reviews, and even has a contact form. But an active site draws people in, gives them something to do, or offers free stuff—in exchange for their email address.

The rule on the Internet is not, as they said inField of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Oh no. The rule on the Internet is, “If you give them free stuff, they will give you their contact information, and then you can build a relationship.”

Provide valuable, free stuff

What kind of free stuff am I talking about? Free sample chapters. Free webinars or PDFs that delve deeper into your subject matter or, if you write novels, that explore the recurring themes of your work.

What you offer on your website must not only be free. It must also be valuable. Be generous with your knowledge and your talents. Here are some examples to get your mind going:

  • Jeff Kinney of the Wimpy Kid series has a “fortune reader” tool on his website. It’s a silly, simple button-click, but this fun tool gives kids something to do—and a reason to visit his site. This particular activity required a software expert to do the coding. Not everyone has the marketing budget of best-selling author Jeff Kinney. But as an author, you’re creative—use your imagination to come up with something that you can afford and that your audience will respond to.
  • Children’s book author Linda Ashman gives out free PDFs of the introduction and first chapter of her craft book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books: Tools and Tips for Writing, Polishing and Selling Your Manuscript.
  • The website of illustrator Jan Brett is filled with freebies of all kinds: customizable printable cards, calendars, coloring pages, games, contests. It’s a treasure trove of simple things that are useful to teachers and parents. And because it’s fully illustrated by Brett herself, it gives exposure to her illustration style.

Build a mailing list

If you set up your website so that a name and email address are required for the download, you will begin to build a mailing list. Indicate during this sign-up that you’ll be adding their names to a mailing list, just so they know, and allow them to “opt out” if they don’t want to hear from you.

Once you’ve built up a mailing list of fans, it’s time to grow your relationship with them. Don’t be shy—they like your writing, they like your free stuff, they’ll be happy to hear from you—if your emails are useful. What’s a useful email? An email that tells people when you’ll be in their area to do a talk or a reading. An email that offers sneak peeks at your next book. An email that provides discounts and specials.

Don’t spam. Communicate with respect.

All this requires some deep thinking about who your readers are and why they like your books. No one wants to be spammed with useless information. Please do not do this! Instead, do an honest assessment of what your readers are looking for. Then provide that information to them in a genuine, generous way.

You’re building a relationship. Interact with lots of respect and your audience will respect you back.

*original article


Amazon Authors need to promote FREE cloud reader

When it comes to selling ebooks on Amazon authors are often in competition with one another. I want customers to pay more attention to my ebook than yours and I want customers to buy my ebook instead of yours. That kind of stuff However I think there is one thing that all Amazon authors have in common: we need people to own Kindles or at least the Kindle Cloud Reader.
When promoting my ebooks,  people who claim that they do not own a Kindle have flatly rejected my efforts. However the belief that owning a hand-held Kindle is required to download ebooks is a mistake. There is the free Cloud Reader that can be used to read ebooks using your laptop as an alternative to the traditional Kindle.I believe that many will find the Cloud Reader experience a little less enjoyable than reading using the hand-held device, however I also believe that the Cloud Reader is satisfactory.

As an Amazon author, please don’t forget to tweet about the free Cloud Reader. If everyone who reads this blog post writes a tweet promoting the following link then we can all do something to help out the entire community of Amazon authors – including yourself.

or Google search “free cloud reader.”



Based on interviews with authors over the years, conferences, editing dozens of issues of Writer’s Digest, and my own occasional literary forays and flails, here are some points of consensus and observations: 15 of them, things anyone who lives by the pen (or seeks to) might consider. It is, like most things in the writing world, a list in progress—and if you’ve got your own Dos or Don’ts to add, I’d love to hear them in the Comments.

1. Don’t assume there is any single path or playbook writers need to follow. (Or, for that matter, a definitive superlative list of Dos and Don’ts …) Simply put: You have to do what works best for you. Listen to the voices in your head, and learn to train and trust them. More often than not, they’ll let you know if you’re on the right path. People often bemoan the surplus of contradictory advice in the writing world—but it’s there because there really is no yellow-brick road, and a diversity of perspectives allows you to cherry-pick what uniquely suits you and your abilities.

2. Don’t try to write like your idols. Be yourself. Yeah, it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true: The one thing you’ve got that no one else does is your own voice, your own style, your own approach. Use it. (If you try to pretend to write like anyone else, your readers will know.) Perhaps author Allegra Goodman said it best: “Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”

3. Don’t get too swept up in debates about outlining/not outlining, whether or not you should write what you know, whether or not you should edit as you go along or at the end—again, just experiment and do what works best for you. The freedom that comes with embracing this approach is downright cathartic.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to pitching something—always be working on your next book or idea while you’re querying. Keeping your creative side in gear while focusing on the business of selling your work prevents bigger stalls in your writing life down the road.

5. Don’t be unnecessarily dishonest, rude, hostile—people in the publishing industry talk, and word spreads about who’s great to work with, and who’s not. Publishing is a big business, but it’s a pretty incestuous business. Keep those family reunions gossip free.

6. Don’t ever hate someone for the feedback they give you. No piece of writing is universally beloved. Nearly every beta reader, editor or agent will have a different opinion of your work, and there’s value in that. Accept what nuggets you believe are valid, recognize the recurring issues you might want/need to address, and toss the edits your gut tells to toss. (Unless the changes are mandatory for a deal—in which case you’ll need to do some deeper soul searching.) Be open to criticism—it will make you a better writer.

7. … But, don’t be susceptible to the barbs of online trolls—you know, those people who post sociopathic comments for the sake of posting sociopathic comments. That’s what trolls do: they troll (on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, etc.). It’s not personal. Which means the message at the core of their words means as little as the 0s and 1s used to code it. Ignore them heartily.

8. Don’t ever lower you guard when it comes to the basics: Good spelling, healthy mechanics, sound grammar. They are the foundations that keep our writing houses from imploding … and our queries from hitting the recycling bin before our stories can speak for themselves.

9. Don’t ever write something in an attempt to satisfy a market trend and make a quick buck. By the time such a book is ready to go, the trend will likely have passed. The astronomical amount of romantic teenage vampire novels in desk drawers is more than a nuisance—it’s a wildfire hazard. Write the story that gives you insomnia.

10. Don’t be spiteful about another writer’s success. Celebrate it. As author Amy Sue Nathan recalled when detailing her path to publication in the upcoming July/August 2013 issue of WD: “Writers I knew were landing book deals and experiencing other things I was working toward, so I made a decision to learn from them instead of begrudging them. I learned that another author’s success doesn’t infringe on mine.”

11. Don’t ever assume it’s easy. Writers with one book on shelves or one story in print often had to keep stacking up unpublished manuscripts until they could reach the publisher’s doorbell. (The exception being those lucky 19-year-old savants you sometimes hear about, or, say, Snooki. But, hey, success still isn’t guaranteed—after all, Snooki’s Gorilla Beach: A Novel has only sold 3,445 copies.) Success is one of those things that’s often damn near impossible to accurately predict unless you already have it in spades.

12. Don’t forget to get out once in a while. Writing is a reflection of real life. It’s all too easy to sit too long at that desk and forget to live it.

13. Don’t ever discount the sheer teaching power (and therapeutic goodness) of a great read. The makeshift MFA program of countless writers has been a well-stocked bookshelf.

14. Don’t be afraid to give up … on a particular piece. Sometimes, a story just doesn’t work, and you shouldn’t spend years languishing on something you just can’t fix. (After all, you can always come back to it later, right?)

15. But, don’t ever really give up. Writers write. It’s what we do. It’s what we have to do. Sure, we can all say over a half-empty bottle of wine that we’re going to throw the towel in this time, but let’s be honest: Very few of us ever do. And none of us are ever really all that surprised when we find ourselves back at our computers, tapping away, and waiting for that electric, amazing moment when the pebble of a story shakes loose and begins to skitter down that great hill …

 **Original article



Local author meets with “biggest fan”

Part of the fun of being an author is that people actually want to meet you. A week ago,  I met my biggest fan! 10150645_445068045595697_7147965226339523062_n

Two years ago, when Finding Gloria came out, the office received a call from a young lady in Steinbach. She really wanted my book. I promised to drop off a copy where she worked  but never actually saw her. She called once or twice about payment but I let it go. It was a gift.

Today, I received a message from someone who knows her, asking if I would meet with her face-to-face. Apparently this young lady has been running around with cash in her pocket since Xmas 2012 so she could pay me, just in case we ever ran into each other. She wants to meet me and have me sign her book. Apparently she “loves me” and is just tickled pink that this woman (who contacted me) actually knows me…

This evening, we met for the first time, and I surprised her with two signed copies of my books. She was so thrilled and was actually gushing. I was glad my daughter was there to see it. It was really sweet! I can’t wait to see her again.


A Business Plan Helps You Produce a Successful Book

Although self-published authors don’t need a formal book proposal, because they alone make the decision to publish their work, they do need business plans. As the publishers of their own books, they alone must determine if their books are viable business propositions. Traditionally published authors rely on agents, and, ultimately, acquisitions editors, to make this determination, and these publishing professionals do so, at least initially, using the book proposal prepared by the author. That document then becomes the business plan for the book. More and more often, writers in all genres, even fiction, who seek traditional publishing deals are asked to turn in a proposal akin to a nonfiction book proposal.

I contend that no matter how you want to publish, and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you should produce a business plan for each and every book you write and publish—before writing a word of your manuscript. Let me offer you eight good reasons why I believe this is an important practice if you want to achieve success as an author.

1. A business plan helps you hone your message or story into a viable product.

You don’t want to discover after you finish your manuscript that it isn’t marketable. That means no one will buy it—not readers or a publisher. It’s much better to ensure you create a marketable book idea from the start, and then write that book. A business plan forces you to create a focused book pitch, something difficult to do if you don’t know what you are writing about. That pitch offers you, and, ultimately, readers, a clear statement about your book’s benefits, why someone would want to read your book rather than someone else’s book on the same topic or with a similar story. It ensures you provide value to readers in your category and market. If you can’t provide value in the marketplace, you don’t have a viable product.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

2. A business plan helps you determine if a market exists for your book.

Before you write your entire manuscript you also want to ensure you know who you are writing for and that you have a large enough market. A large market makes a book profitable.  When you create a business plan for your book, you conduct a market analysis and determine how many potential readers exist for your book and where you might find them. When you know there are enough people in the world who might buy your book, and that you can target them with your promotion efforts, that justifies writing it.

3. A business plan helps you produce a unique and necessary book.

Conducting a competitive analysis, another part of producing a business plan for your book, forces you to take a close look at what other authors in the same category have already done with similar books. You can then compare and contrast their successful books to your own book idea. This helps you produce a book that is unique as well as necessary compared to those already published in the category. You surely don’t want to write a book that is just like all the others. Rather, you want to write a book that is different enough to make it stand out from the pack.

4. A business plan helps you create a marketable structure and content for your book.

A business plan includes a table of contents and chapter summaries (or a synopsis—although I suggest all authors produce chapter summaries). If you go to the trouble of doing this and then comparing your proposed content to your market and competitive analysis, you have an opportunity to tweak your book idea further. When you’ve finished this part of your plan, you stand little chance late in your book writing process of discovering you have produced a manuscript that is scattered, rambling, misses the point, left out important parts of the story, or leaves out essential information.

[Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.]

5. A business plan allows you to tweak your idea for maximum product viability.

At this point in the business plan creation process, you can go back to the beginning and rework your pitch to ensure that your initial book idea matches the final idea you have created based upon market and competition studies. You also can recheck the benefits—the value—you plan to provide readers. If your book sounds compelling, necessary and unique after you make any final changes, you’re ready to begin writing. You’ve crafted a viable book idea.

6. A business plan offers you an opportunity to plan for success.

Whether you self-publish or land a traditional publishing deal, the promotion plans you implement before and upon release of your book determine your book’s success (how many copies it sells). That’s why every book’s business plan needs a promotion section, which is actually a plan of its own.  Since promotion needs to begin the moment that light bulb goes off in your head, it makes sense that you should start planning how you will promote your book before you even begin writing it. To do that, however, you need to have done your market analysis.

7. A business plan helps you evaluate your readiness to publish.

If you plan to self-publish, you could do so at any time. But that doesn’t make it the right time. Traditional publishers determine if nonfiction writers are ready to publish by evaluating the size of their author platform, the built-in readership they have created by increasing their visibility, reach, authority, and influence in their target market.  Author platform can help fiction writers land publishing deals as well. And platform helps all authors create successful books. A fan base, or a large, loyal following of people who know you means a higher likelihood of selling more books upon release. As you create your business plan, you should analyze the size of your platform and determine if now represents the best time for you to release a book.

8. A business plan helps you determine if you are a one-book author. 

The more books you write, the more books you sell. When you write a business plan for your book, you take time to consider spin-off books, sequels and series. This can be important if you want to create a business around your book, brand yourself, or attract a traditional publisher.

A Business Plan Helps You Produce a Successful Book

All eight of these reasons can be condensed down to one: Creating a business plan for your book helps you produce a successful book. Without creating a business plan prior to writing your book you risk producing a manuscript—and later a published book—with no market value. That means it won’t sell many copies. If you do produce a business plan for your book before you write it, you have a high likelihood of producing a viable—marketable—book idea. That means when you actually write the book and publish it, the book will sell—to publishers and, ultimately, to readers.

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


Five Rules Every Author Should Follow

How to Avoid Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead

This article is a follow-up to 5 Mistakes New Authors Often Make.

If you are a new author, the whole process of taking your book from planning to promotion may feel like an obstacle course. But it needn’t be, if you follow five basic rules (plus one “bonus” rule to make everything even easier).

Rule #1: You must be able to explain your book and its main benefit in a single sentence.

Think of that sentence as the foundation of a house you are building. If it is not strong and solid, the house won’t stand up. Everything depends on how well you construct that foundation or, in this case, your sentence. I won’t kid you; it is hard to do. For one thing, writing it forces you to focus on your topic in a way you may not have done before. You must capture the essence of your book in one brief, descriptive statement that tells the reader what to expect. This book will answer a question, solve a problem, explain how to do something. Your sentence is a promise to the reader about the book’s purpose, content, or benefits. This is not a promise you make without thinking it through.

Rule #2: Before you write, you must have a plan; that plan is called a book proposal.

There are several steps in writing a nonfiction book, and the first one is not writing; it is planning. It may sound like a cliché; but, just as you wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a map, you don’t start a book without a plan. This is where many first-time authors go wrong. Perhaps you have the romantic idea that one begins a book by sitting down at the computer and just “letting it flow.” The truth is that, by the time you reach the point of actually writing, you should have done a whole lot of thinking, answering tough questions, and carefully constructing the answers. If you haven’t, you are going to run into problems. If you have, you are well on your way to writing a dynamite book proposal.

Rule #3: Every writer needs an editor—a professional editor.

There are no exceptions! Just for starters, there are several stages of your writing in which you might need an editor to help:  • Clarify your concept  • Plan and organize your material  • Think globally about how the parts fit together • Read for content, consistency, and style  • Craft a catchy title  • Check for grammar, punctuation, and typos   If you are writing a book, you may even need more than one editor, since different kinds of editors specialize in different aspects of preparing a book for publication. Here are three of the most important:  Developmental editors help you plan and organize your material in a logical, convincing manner. The best time to work with a developmental editor is at the beginning of the process.  Content editors look at the big picture, writing style, structure, flow of ideas, language, and accuracy.   Copy editors check for grammar, punctuation, and typos. They catch mistakes you and everyone else have missed.

Rule #4: It is important to understand your publishing options and which one is right for you.

Publishing is exciting because it means your book is finally going to become “real” and tangible. Yet, this is the part that so often derails even the most passionate and determined author. What follows are the seven most common publishing options: conventional or traditional publishers, self-publishing, POD/subsidy publishers, co-publishers, independent publishers, electronic publishers, and do nothing.

Rule #5: Marketing starts at the beginning of the book-writing process, not at the end.

Few of us are experts at marketing our own creative projects. The good news is we don’t have to be experts; we just have to grasp the basics and put them into practice.

  • Start with your business objective—what you want your marketing to achieve. Make it concrete and achievable.
  • Then map out at least three ways in which you are going to reach your business objective. These are your strategies.
  • Finally, get specific. Under each strategy, list the specific actions you will implement—your tactics.
  • Now, block out some time to concentrate on marketing, and “just do it!”

Bonus Rule #6: If you don’t know how to do something, find out.

I know. Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. You would ask a question if you had any idea what to ask … or even whom to ask. Here are some suggestions: Read a book or two or three on the subject. Go to Amazon, your favorite bookstore, the library. Take a course. It doesn’t have to be graduate school; it can be a non-credit community college class. Join a group aligned with your topic or a local chapter of IBPA. Find one locally, nationally, or on line. Google it—whatever it is—and join.

Original Post – Five Rules Every Author Should Follow


The wonders of Beta readers

On March 11, I plan to release my new novel, Discreet Betrayal. The book is done and currently in the proofreader/copy-editor’s hands. Since it is the final draft, and just a cleanup (in my opinion) I have put out the call for Beta readers. What are beta readers? They are people you trust, or who like reading the type of books you right, who are grammar hounds. They are an important part of the process.

When I ask for beta readers, I expect the person to give the book a good read. While reading it, keep an eye out for errors, inconsistencies, flaws in the story, and overall content. Grammar, word choice etc is also to be considered. I have been blessed with some great volunteers. My first book Finding Gloria, was only sent out to certain beta-readers. It was my personal memoir and I was not sure if I would even publish it until someone else read it first. Thankfully, my beta readers encouraged me to complete and improve the story. It later became an Amazon best seller – #1 several times!! That’s pretty cool for a self-published author.

I am very grateful for my beta-readers. They only make what you’ve written better. Sometimes they are harsh, but that is the point. If you want a good book, you have to put your ego aside and listen to the experts – and they are the ones who ultimately read your books.

Happy writing.

PS: Watch for some Discreet announcements in the coming weeks.


How do you sell your books?

When someone asks, “What’s your book about?” it’s important to be able to answer in a sentence or two. This is often described as an “elevator pitch,” because you should be able to explain your book during a short elevator ride. Who knows what Hollywood producer might happen to ask – or be listening?

Creating a brief yet compelling description of your book is essential. Not only does it give you something to say when people ask you about it, it can be used for the following proactive marketing purposes:

1)  In your (personal) email signature: Every email program comes with a “signature” option. Including a quick description of your book, or even the tone of your book, is a great way to let people know what your book is about without being pushy. For my first book, I included this description in the signature of my personal email address:

 I’ve lost track of how many people have told me they laughed at my email signature and ended up buying my book as a result. And as you can see, the little blurb doesn’t necessarily have to say anything about the actual plot of your book. The key is to convey the essence of your book so potential readers will know what to expect when they pick up a copy.

2)  On business cards that feature your book’s cover: Why not put your one-line description on the back? Be sure to carry the cards in your wallet at all times. If that Hollywood executive you meet in the elevator likes what he or she hears, you’ll have a business card to hand over.

Coming up with a compelling one-liner can be challenging, but it’s worth spending time to create a good one. With most people, you only get one chance to grab their attention, so you want that description to sparkle.

Original article: How is your elevator pitch?