Tag Archives: Paper Based

DIARY POST 25: TAKING IT EASY

20140802_123751[1]It’s been just over a month since my book, Selima and the Merfolk has been available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Xlibris.com. The excitement is still there, and I’m sure I’ll be excited for a few months again. Sometimes my friends comment that I could relax now but in reality the work has just begun.

I did small promotions the second and third week after it was posted, however due to a delay in receiving printed copies and promotional materials I have decided to hold out on promoting until I have everything. Many people have shown an interest in purchasing copies, and I even got an offer to have it sold at a very reputable store. I was very impatient for weeks. Fortunately, I’ve realized that impatience was keeping me up at night. I began to worry so much about everything. Making myself crazy seemed to be on my ‘To Do List’ every day. Only when I was able to let go of trying to control my destiny, was I able to sleep a full night through. I just have to remind myself that worrying has never solved a problem. Truly I don’t have a problem, I have a delay, but that delay has given me time to organize some other important business, so I guess it was a good thing I got delayed.

What was I complaining about again?

DIARY POST 24: FRIDAY TO FRIDAY

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For the last couple of days, life has brought me several new experiences. I received the preliminary copies of my novel, and I witnessed my cousin having contractions, and my water tank exploded.

Preliminary Copies

Days had gone by since I was emailed the notification that my package had been shipped. I went online to check and saw a message that there was an incorrect phone number on my package, so the delivery person was unable to call for directions.

It was a rainy Friday and half the day was gone. To wait until Monday would have driven me crazy, knowing that my books were somewhere on a shelf, just a few miles away. My boyfriend drove me to collected the books about an hour and a half later. I was nervous and excited at the same time because I had been going back and forth with the publishing company for several weeks, refusing to compromise. Almost three years of work has gone into Selima and the Merfolk, it deserved to be perfected.

As I sat with the package on my lap, I struggled to open the simply glued flap, industrial strength glue I thought. Carefully, I pulled the books out of the envelope and saw that they were as perfect as I had hoped. “Oh my God!” I shouted, “They look so good.” I quickly browsed through the books, making sure the layout was what I had approved. I couldn’t complain. My books looked great.

I am still grinning. Like most writers I have always known that I wanted to write and now that I have seen my hard work in print, I am humbled. Now that I have accomplished this goal I should set a few more that is twice or three times as challenging.

Baby Cousin

I don’t have any children. I saw what happens when a woman has contractions.  … ouch! and ouch!

When my time comes please:
1. Don’t stand or sit close to me.
2. Remove any sharp objects from my reach.
3. I welcome drugs, any kind and lots of them.
4. I apologize in advance for everything I say.

However, family is everything to me. When babies come along, I think of the contribution they would make to their generation.

We have a brand new, healthy baby girl who is an incredible addition to our family. She was born last Friday to one of my closest relatives. I can’t wait to start spoiling her. That’s the great thing about being a cousin or an aunt; your job is just to spoil them rotten and not get blamed if they act up.

Water Tank Explosion

Yes! My water tank exploded and split down the middle. It sounded like a wave crashed on a rock and when I ran to the back of the house that is what it looked like. I knew something was brewing because it sprung a leak for the second time this year. Thank God I was at home.

I can take the approach of ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘why did that happen to me.’ By nightfall, I had a new tank and new plumbing (Thanks babe). I guess I’ll count myself lucky.

SELIMA AND THE MERFOLK IS AVAILABLE ONLINE NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!

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SHINE ON SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS SERIES – AUTHOR KASI SENGHOR

KasiI joined the Writers Union of Trinidad & Tobago in the early 1980s. There I met many poets some of whom were already published or on the way to seeing their work in print. My humble offerings of hand-written poetry were severely critiqued and wise suggestions were made for improvement. I had no favorite poet nor any best poem at that time but simply listened to the popular bards and read the works of local masters.

The Black Power revolution of a decade earlier had brought me into contact with men and women who wrote for the “masses” and I was influenced to do the same. While opportunities arose for me to read in public I always felt as though I had to do more to be accepted into the ranks of the popular. Even though I was following the themes of Black consciousness I was aware of other urges to write about my vision of myself and the values that I thought important.

So I penned for “public consumption” and also for myself and poets in the union who showed interest in other work. For many years I continued to write between “blackness” and “values” such as family life and spiritual beliefs. I was running out of topics and the feeling that I would repeat myself. However, I continued to write and read and discuss poetry.

In 2007 Anson Gonzalez who was a great inspiration over the years published my first book entitled Poems. . . I’m Afraid to Say” in which the mixture as previously described took shape. Having ventured into this realm, I thought that the time had come to embolden myself and write the variety that tumbled inside me. But I felt dumbstruck and guilty about writing anything that could be considered “not black”. This dichotomy lasted until I was introduced to AllPoetry in 2011.

There I found poems about everything under the sun and contests inviting me to write. I read the poets who hosted contests as well as the poems that were entered. I felt capable of expressing myself in this mix and began to challenge myself daily. At that time I began to write my poems on the screen because contests were filling up fast and I needed to know how my pieces stood up to the competition. Early successes and encouraging comments made me dive fully into writing poetry and before long I found myself writing up to five poems a day.

I wrote to their challenges mostly and discovered a world of what I call “form poetry” in which I was called upon to not just write but to do so in disciplines such as alliteration (which I had tried before), acrostic, nonet, haiku, tanka, brevity, sonnet to mention but a few. I was intrigued with the way some poets appeared to master their lines and create images with metaphor and rhyme. “I could do that” I figured and simply kept on writing, receiving comments, reading, discussing until I felt I could show off my new-found ability to fellow poets at home, in the union and elsewhere.

As my confidence grew I started to attempt styles that were uncommon and to use poetic devices with more certainty. I was not always clear and often lines were not what I really wanted to say, but I persevered anyway. Such persistency has paid off over my years of “study” and although I know that in becoming a poet one has to internalize many seemingly contradictory emotions without attaching oneself to them, it is doubtless very stressful to conjure ideas, images, and feelings that one may feel inimical to personal way of life.

Such is the task the of bringing to life what is hidden, forgotten, unimportant, ignored and neglected for the world to take notice, learn from or be joyfully reminded of.

Overcoming my fear of writing what I truly wish to express brought me to the point of wanting to publish a second book.

I read pieces in the union, offered manuscripts to fellow poets and critiqued myself. I am thankful for the many responses I received at manuscript stage and wondered how varied in views people can be about a single poem, far more a manuscript. I read their critiques and comments and tried to answer their questions in my own mind. This helped to bring clarity where images and thoughts blurred and to firm up what it is I truly wanted to set down.

Of course my reading of other poets broadened. Each visit to the library would see me taking away sometimes all the permitted six in poetry books. I consumed local, Caribbean and International poets. I judged and took notes; wrote over lines to capture moods; read aloud; and spent extra time on the ones that appealed to me.

Is Like ThisSelecting poems for my second book Is Like This was not easy as I thought that themes varied too much and that this would make for poor reading. Having submitted my work to my editor, Dr. Yvonne Bobb-Smith, I waited to see what she thought. Surprisingly I began to get edits that had little to do with style, expression, theme, but instead got comments that pointed positively to rhythm, language and communication.

Here was a different outlook on the work once again and even if a few pieces did not meet her criteria I was happy that the majority did and that poems I was timid about found favor in her reading of them.

Is Like This was self-published in November of 2013 by Xlibris and everyone has commented on the quality of the publication, found the content is worthy of the effort, congratulated on the varied themes and found it to be a wonderful collection.

I wish to thank all who supported throughout and those who made sure that there was a launch. I look forward to continued meaningful writing while assisting poets who desire to publish, running workshops when and where necessary and reading the works of fellow poets who like me want to “find their voice” and share that voice with the rest of the world.

Copies of Is Like This can be purchased from: amazon,comXlibris.com and from the author himself kasi_senghor@yahoo.com

SHINE ON SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS SERIES – AUTHOR ANNELI PURCHASE

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When other four-year-olds were drawing pictures, I was trying to copy my mother’s handwriting. Later, in elementary school at Composition time I eagerly awaited my mark out of ten when the teacher handed back my writing. I remember the sting of being criticized for using the word “stuff.” At the time I saw nothing wrong with using “stuff,” but now I realize that there are many better words I could have used to add more detail. That was one of my first lessons in becoming a better writer.

As an adult, I wrote emails to a friend overseas, relating funny outdoor adventures I’d enjoyed. The friend’s computer crashed and he lost my emails. “Do you still have your old emails?” he asked. “Could you send them to me again?”

“No, I don’t keep my emails.”

“Oh no!” he wrote, “They were really good.”

The Wind WeepsThat got my wheels turning. Maybe I should pursue this hobby. I really love it so why not get more serious about it? I joined the local writers’ group. Not only did I learn a lot about how to write, but I met good friends there.

One of these friends became my trusted critiquing buddy. We encouraged each other to write. We critiqued and copy-edited each other’s work. We went to the Surrey Writers’ Conference together, in Surrey, B.C., with high hopes.

We each had a novel written and would pitch to the agents at the conference. I had no idea what to say in a pitch or how to refine my approach, but after the first one I began to get the idea. One of the agents asked me to send in 50 pages. I thought that sounded hopeful, but it soon became another rejection and I realized that a lot of agents ask authors for 50 pages.

The conference was by no means a failure. The day before the general writing workshops began, we took two master classes on some aspect of effective writing. At the end of the day, we were exhausted from the day’s travel and the intensive classes, but we both felt the master classes were so valuable that the rest of the conference would be a bonus. We had already experienced the best part.

During the ensuing year, my friend and I polished our novels with renewed enthusiasm. We were ready for the next year’s conference and the free pitch sessions. We soon discovered that many of the agents smiled and said nice things, but lost interest because we had no “platform.” I learned that if you were saleable you stood more of a chance, especially if you already had ten thousand potential customers lined up to buy your book.

Orion's Gift (1)Still naive, we went to a third conference, this time in Portland, Oregon. Here my friend and I pitched to the same agent each in our own time slot. We were each given reason to hope for good results.

Also, we had gone to a workshop that was a bit like American Idol. A volunteer read the first page of the manuscripts submitted anonymously, and a panel of three experts who knew what an agent would be looking for would raise their hands when the reader should stop, meaning they had lost interest.

Our first pages passed the test and were read all the way through without the hands of disapproval being raised. That was very encouraging for us, so we thought that the friendly agent we had both pitched to, would be seriously interested in our novels. More on that later.

The other thing of note at this conference is that one of the agents I had pitched to in Surrey, was at the Portland Conference giving a workshop on self-publishing. When asked why the complete about-face, she said, “The small publishers are buying each other up. They can’t compete with the big publishers, and e-books are the new thing. I’m going with the new trend.” That got our wheels turning, and for the first time my friend and I seriously considered self-publishing.

What put the icing on the cake was when we got the identical rejection email from the agent we pitched to, who didn’t know we knew each other. The character names and novels were changed but we each got the same ridiculous suggestion about fleshing out the characters more (in the first two pages of the novel). The agent had made multiple spelling and typo mistakes. We thought, yes, this is the last straw. Why would we give this person money when we could have it ourselves by self-publishing? We know our work is good. The “American Idol” style workshop reaffirmed that for us. So we helped each other along the way, and self-published.

Since then, I’ve heard horror stories of friends who have published with traditional publishers and they’ve all said the same thing: the publishers don’t do much marketing or advertising for you anymore, and the percentage of the profits paid to the author is a pittance compared to what self-published authors get.

Julia's Violinist (1)Having said that, I want to add that it is a long hard road to market your own books, no matter how good they are. You are up against the many e-books that are not edited properly and give self-publishing a bad reputation, and you must constantly work at putting yourself out there to let people know you have novels that they would enjoy.

Some websites and blogs with a large number of followers offer advertising. This is one way to market a novel. Local libraries often host authors for readings. Building your network and continuing to write and publish will eventually get you noticed. As you build your “platform,” it’s important to make sure that all your published work is correct and properly edited. Few of us, even great writers, do a good job of editing our own work, so hire a copy-editor and publish high quality writing.

Don’t despair if the sales are not what you expected. It all takes time. But, don’t go out and buy that Ferrari just yet. Few authors get rich from their writing, so the bottom line is, “You have to love your work.”

 Anneli’s books can be purchased online at  amazon.com and she writes frequently on her blog Words From Anneli

MY LITTLE BLOG IS COMING ALONG

AwardsTo most of my fellow bloggers, these trophies are small bananas, but to me these are two milestones achieved in one month. For the first part of this year I barely posted. I could list a million excuses as to why I didn’t; however none would convince anyone with good work ethics and multitasking skills. I promise to do better.

Thanks for all the support. It means a lot to me every time someone visits, comments or likes my posts.

SHINE ON SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS SERIES – DARLENE JONES

100-0059_IMG (1)I hunch over the computer writing and rewriting. I’ve completed three novels and have a start on a fourth. I’ve sent out queries for the first three. The pile of rejection letters grows. I shred them all and decide on yet another conference. My books deserve a reading audience.

At the Willamette Writers’ Conference we hear much rumbling about self-publishing. We’re told that the Big Six are (at that time) publishing only 55% of books available to readers. Advances are miniscule or non-existent. Marketing? Forget it. It’s do it yourself. And, says one speaker, “I pitched my author’s novel to 35 publishers before we got a sale. That was followed by a year of rewrites.” I groan. “His book is out next week. It’s been a two year process.” Two years!? “Publish yourself,” she says. “It’ll take you a couple of months.”

We agonized during the drive home. Self-publish? Oh, but the stigma. Our pitches were successful, so should we wait to hear from those agents and then decide? What to do? What to do?

Response from agent number one—rejection.  But, hey she’s actually given some feedback. Two whole paragraphs. This could be good. Nope! Her comments, which are cut and paste judging by the font variations, indicate a rewrite is needed. My heart might be found somewhere under my desk chair, or maybe in the sub-basement of my building.

I open the next email which is from my writing buddy. She’s received a rejection from the same agent. Two different genres and two very different writing styles. Both professionally copy-edited. Here’s where the cake is iced. The rejections are identical except for our names.

Stigma be damned. Self-publishing here we come.

I publish my four books using Kindle Direct, Smashwords, and Createspace, all three of which are great to work with. Now, on to the selling.

I’ve chosen my titles carefully, had the book covers professionally designed, blogged, and built a website. I’m using social media in preparation for the big launch and sales campaign.

What else? Oh yes, the blurb. This just may be the hardest part of all.

In the years that I’ve been writing and promoting my books, I’ve come to the conclusion that readers aren’t particularly interested in author interviews, or author bios, or book excerpts—at least not initially. I think readers, attracted by a cover or title want a quick book description that will entice them to download the sample.

So, if my theory is right, what constitutes a great book description? The blurbs below come from emails I’ve received –some from well-known publishing houses. I’ve made no changes to the descriptions other than deleting author names, book titles, and character names to preserve anonymity.

  1. “In this #1 New York Times bestselling e-book, Z, an experienced foster carer, is pressured into taking Y as a new placement. Y’s challenging behavior has seen off five carers in four months but X decides to take her on to protect her from being placed in an institution.”
  2. “The sensational New York Times bestseller from X, is a gift for readers, an enchanting, luminous novel about the accidents, both big and small, that affect our choice of friend, lover, and spouse.”
  3. “X has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifty birthday: an ideal husband. Y, however, is fed up with her mother’s endless matchmaking and grading of available Iranian American bachelors.”
  4. “Z is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for X, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Y. X becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a summer intern at the limestone mine X manages near Z, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime).”
  5. “This anthology of punchy short stories will grab your heart and your wallet and give them a good shake. The stories are set in the turbulent times of the post Global Financial Crisis world. Intriguing and at times twisted, these tales delve behind the facades of modern life to uncover the real struggles, hopes and dreams of ordinary people. Hopeful, insightful and at times humorous, Y is an engaging and thought-provoking work for our times.”
  6. “In May 2000, X is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, X begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books.”
  7. “Our world is being judged and we remain unaware. In a world filled with people, X is uniquely alone. The tiny glowing sparks filling her mind, representing the people around her, confirm it. Clueless regarding the reason behind her sight and her place in the world, X struggles to find an explanation. A chance encounter leads her closer to answers she’s struggled to find, and into a hidden society where fur is optional.”
  8. “It’s a mother’s worst nightmare: When X’s daughter suffers an unspeakable trauma, she whisks her away to a safe house where they begin the difficult journey to recovery. With over 100 five-star reviews on Amazon, a “thought-provoking and insightfully entertaining” tale.”
  9. “A USA Today bestselling author weaves a fun holiday romance with a “clever premise” (Booklist). When X finds herself catapulted to a future Christmas morning, will she be able reunite with her beloved husband and expected child?”
  10. “This deeply poignant bestseller charts the journey of two wildly different families united by their love for one young girl. As adoptee X searches for her place in the world, her relatives encounter love and loss across two continents. Written with “compassion and uncanny perception.”

If none of these are particularly enticing to the reader, it’s a clear sign that the author needs to improve on the blurb. How?

  • Think of your blurb as an advertisement.
  • Keep your sentences short and compact.
  • Focus on the conflict in your book.
  • Talk about two or three characters only.
  • Don’t include details that are better left in the novel.
  • Ask a question that the reader wants an answer to.

Attracted by the blurb, the reader downloads a sample. The final decision is made after reading the first few chapters. Either the reader is irrevocably hooked and buys the book immediately or they know it’s a no go and deletes the sample. For some books, the reader may still be undecided after the sample. That’s when they likely go to the reviews, if they haven’t already read them, to help them decide.

Marketing is a tough road, but I persist. I publish a book of snippets from my life. I post blogs and I work on a new novel—a departure from the sci-fi romance that has kept me enthralled for years.  After all, writing is what it’s all about.

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