Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to Double Your Profits with Free Press Releases

On the average day, 68 million American adults go online. Thirty percent of those are using the search engines to find information.

According to the Middleberg/Ross Survey and Pew Internet and American Life Project, 98 percent of journalists go online daily. Ninety-two percent go for article research, seventy-six percent to find new resources, or experts, and seventy-three percent to find press releases.

And, keep in mind that 27 million people use Yahoo News and Google News to find their information.

So, how do we target those 27 million people?

Find out how at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/free-press-releases.html!

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Ten Questions to Help You Improve Your Manuscript by Nicola Beaumont

You’ve loved your manuscript into existence. Your characters are real to you, your fictitious reality more real than every-day life. Now it’s time to find an editor who feels the same way about your book, and so it becomes imperative that you seek and eliminate any problems that may flag an editor and send your submission into the rejection pile.
Below are ten suggestions on what to look for when editing your manuscript—remember, the editor considering your submission will look for them.
But, before you can apply these ten things, you must acquire an objective viewpoint. That means distancing yourself from your baby. Wean your characters and plot by putting them to bed for a period of time. A sufficient period of time varies for each author, but once a week or two, or a month, or maybe even a couple of days, has gone by, read the manuscript from beginning to end. I recommend doing this read-through with the track changes feature on, if you’re using a program that has this feature. If not, highlight text as you go along, so you can see at a glance what edits you’ve made, or want to make. Also, remember, this first time through you’re reading for what’s wrong, not for what’s right. Once you’ve made your initial edit, you’ll read the manuscript again for flow, emotional intensity. . .basically, what’s right with the novel.
Then you’ll be ready to submit your work with confidence that you’ve produced the best, most flawless product within your power.

Scene by scene check:

1) Have the first few sentences in the scene set the intended tone?

The first few sentences should not only tell whose POV in which the scene is written, but also set the emotional tone for the entire scene. If you want your reader to be frightened and apprehensive because your character is terrified (or is going to be terrified), then start the scene off with an apparent foreboding. Don’t spring the danger on your reader. It will pull them out of the story—remind them they are reading—and irritate them. (Irritate them too much, and they will put down the book for good.) If a danger scene begins with a light and airy picnic, without any hint of foreboding, when danger is sprung, the reader is going to say, “What just happened?” (Remember, your character doesn’t necessarily have to sense the danger, but your reader does.) It’s important to note that the set up for a scene might be in a previous scene, and that’s fine, just make sure the tone you set is consistent with the story flow, and your intended reaction from the reader.

2) Is the Scene told in the POV (Point of View) of the person who has the most to lose?

As you read, envision the scene as a movie reel playing in your mind. If you’ve shot your scene from the point of view of the character that has the most to lose, it will be more emotional, and will draw the reader into a sympathetic standpoint. If the reader (or editor) cares about your character, they’ll read on. The more they read, the better your chance of getting that contract.
Another advantage to writing the scene in this character’s viewpoint is the scene will be more visual because people who have a lot to lose notice everything, therefore your character will be more sensate and the reader (editor) will be drawn more deeply into the scene. So ask yourself, “Is this scene told in the POV of the character who has the most to lose?” If the answer is no, rewrite the scene in someone else’s POV.

3) Does the scene evoke Sensations, Memories, Emotions?

Ask yourself: “Does my choice of words evoke the intended sensations, emotions and memories in the reader?” Make sure your adjectives adequately describe the feeling, memory or emotion you intend. Look at the following example: “The pungent scent of his aftershave caressed her nostrils.” The word “pungent” usually refers to something offensive or harsh, and that wouldn’t “caress” her nostrils. Perhaps the author meant “musky” or “heady.” Whatever “non-sweet,” masculine scent the author intended was lost by placing an adjective that didn’t mesh with the reader’s mind. See the difference a word makes: “The woodsy fragrance of his aftershave caressed her nostrils.”

4) Have I eliminated all possible passive sentences?

Okay, let’s face it, we must use the word “was” sometimes. And not all words ending in “ly” are bad, but whenever possible eliminate passive sentences. Exchange them for action and your story will move along more quickly. And pace is one thing to which editors pay close attention. Their time is valuable and they want a quick, entertaining read, not one that bogs them down. Change, “I felt my cheeks grow warm” to “My cheeks grew warm” or “My cheeks warmed.” Change “The ball was thrown across the plate” to “The pitcher threw the ball…”

5) Does the scene have purpose, or can it be eliminated and the pertinent information interwoven elsewhere?

This is a biggie. It’s also the one that’s most difficult to decipher, and the most difficult to do. Remember, though, every scene must have purpose, move the story along, and/or reveal something pertinent about your character. If it doesn’t, cut it. Don’t add trivial information for the sake of word count, because if you do, you’re the only one who will ever read it. Editors want tight, exciting stories, not ones that go into detail about what the heroine had for breakfast—unless, of course, that breakfast was poisoned, contained something she was allergic to, or the heroine noticed everything in detail because she’s a chef. Every scene, every action must have a purpose that propels the story forward, or is necessary to getting insight into your hero or heroine.

6) Does the POV stay “in character?”

If your hero is a success-driven, and a new employee enters into the plot who seemingly has the boss under his or her thumb, it would be out of character for Hero to embrace this new employee openly, without any hint of ulterior motive or apprehension. He’s going to be cautious about this new employee—he or she might have his job two chapters down the road. He’s not going to take this person under his wing, buy them lunch and be all-around good buddies unless your hero has an ulterior motive (which you must make clear to the reader.) Characters must stay true to their personality even while they are developing into complex people. The recluse better not drive down the road with a bullhorn and speaker drawing attention to himself. If he is, then he’s not a very believable recluse.

7) Does the dialogue feel contrived?

This goes right along with keeping your characters in “in character.” If the words they speak sound stilted or beyond real, the reader will throw down the book with a disgusted, “yeah, right!” Editors know that, they’re readers as much as they are editors, and they’re not going to contract a manuscript laced with contrived dialog and unbelievable characterizations. A woman of seventy will not leave her Bridge game by announcing, “I gotta bounce!”

8) Do I convey what I actually mean?
An example of not saying what you mean would be “She shook her head, yes.” Shaking of the head (side to side) means “no.” Nodding the head means “yes.” Make sure that every sentence means exactly what it is supposed to. This one is tricky because our minds tend to read what we know is supposed to be there, and not necessarily what is actually on the page.

9) Delete redundant words

The classic example of a redundancy is: “He stood,” instead of “He stood up.” (One cannot stand down, unless it’s a military order.) Even though this example is used often, there is merit in remembering it as one example in an infinite number of ways in which we use redundancies.

10) Omit speech tags if it is clear who is speaking.

Speech tags slow a story down. It’s true they are a necessary evil, but keep them to a minimum. If it’s obvious who’s speaking, get rid of the tag. In many instances “he said” “she said” can be replaced with an action which tells the reader in a more effective manner who’s speaking. For example: “I’m going to show him just what he can do with his job.” Julie yanked the door open and strode into her boss’s office with vengeance burning in her gut.
The reader will obviously associate Julie with the dialog, without a “Julie said” tag.

Keep these ten things in mind when proofing your work and you’ll eliminate a great number of errors that bog down a story or make it unbelievable to your reader.
Nicola Beaumont is the author of THE RESURRECTION OF LADY SOMERSET (Wild Rose Press, Sept. '07). You can visit her website at http://www.inicola.net/.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Author Promotional Website Spotlight: Reader and Author

Angela Vernenius has put together an excellent website where authors can post their links to get more exposure for their books. The website is called Reader and Author and actually has two sections - one for readers and one for authors. Definitely worth checking out. The link is http://www.readerandauthor.com/Welcome.

I noticed with great pleasure that one of my writing groups (TWL Author Talks) is included in her resource section for authors. Thank you, Angela! ;o)

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Monday, October 15, 2007

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: ENTHRALLED by Nadia Aidan

Enthralled: Ares & Candace: The Divine Series - Book One Author: Nadia Aidan
Publisher: iUniverse (Sept. '07)
Purchase at Amazon

Where did you get inspiration to write your book?

Where did I get the inspiration to write my book. Ahhhh! That is a good question, but it is complicated. The first question should be where did you get the inspiration to write? And the second should be where did you get the inspiration to write Enthralled?

To answer the first question, I began writing over a year and a half ago when I was finishing my dissertation, but once I finished my dissertation I didn’t look at the novels again. It wasn’t until my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer that I began searching for an outlet for the emotional highs and lows of taking care of her. My mom recently lost her battle to cancer, which finally gave me the courage to submit my work. My mother was (and continues to be in spirit) my biggest cheerleader and support system. She was a strong, courageous woman who wasn’t afraid of anything and she raised me to be the same. I know she would have been disappointed in me if I let insecurity and fear stop me from submitting my work. So writing for me has taken on this new dimension because I feel that I HAVE to do this. She was always so proud of my with the other successes I had in my life and my accomplishments. I still want to make her proud so that means I CAN'T give up! My love for my mother and respect for who she was as a woman drives me to continue to send my manuscript to publishers over and over despite the rejection letters! Despite the ups and downs of this entire business, my mother's spirit inspires me to remain dedicated to my passion which is writing erotic romance novels.

Now as to where I got my inspiration to write Enthralled, well that came from several avenues. First, I love interracial erotic romance stories BUT there are very few of these stories that are NOT straight contemporaries or vampire related. I love those too, but I am a fantasy/sci-fi buff and I always felt bereft when searching through new releases on my favorite sites and coming up with nada in the fantasy category. I thought to myself, well hey, if you want to see an interracial fantasy romance then you may just have to write it and hell, that is just what I did!

Enthralled combines my loves for history, mythology, interracial relationships, and of course romance and hot sex! Like I said I love fantasy but I am also am a fanatic when it comes to ancient history. I enjoyed writing Enthralled because I was able to weave in historical elements and still remain true to the fantasy genre. Therefore, you will see many references to ancient battles, cultures, people and places throughout the story. I think it is a wonderful element to bring to a story, especially a fantasy novel. And I enjoyed creating it.

I am just so thrilled and excited about the release of Enthralled. This has truly been a labor of love and I am happy to see that my dream has finally come true. I enjoyed interweaving many people and places into this erotic fantasy world and I hope others will love reading it as much as I loved writing it.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Halloween Marketing

by Mayra Calvani

Just like Christmas is a wonderful time for children’s book authors to market their Christmas picture books, Halloween is the perfect time for horror authors. There are many events you can plan ahead of time to sell books during the spooky month of October. For instance, you may do book signings at normal bookstores, or, better yet, at horror specialty bookstores. You may host a Halloween party and invite all your friends, co-workers, relatives and neighbors. If you’re a children’s author with a Halloween-theme title, you can host a party for your children’s classmates, as well as do readings in schools and libraries.

The important thing here, however, is to make the event fun and ‘spooky’ for everyone. At singings, why not wear a costume? If your book is about witches, why not disguised yourself as one and arrive with witch’s fingers cookies and a caldron with dry ice for a special effect? If your story deals with vampires, why not dress up as one and offer glasses of a deep red drink? The same goes for zombies, monsters, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures. The idea is to play out the ‘theme’ of your book, and to get plenty of attention. Decorate your table with spider webs, bats, rats or black cats, and other paraphernalia. Be friendly and always look at visitors in the eye when you talk to them. Offer them something to eat or drink—anything that will make them want to stay by your table and look at your book. Your imagination is the limit. It’s up to you to make your book signing a success, and although it’s not easy, it is certainly an advantage for a horror author to sell books during this time.

I once heard of an author who hosted a Halloween party at his home and sold over two hundred copies of his book in one night. He sent out invitations one month in advance to his relatives, friends, and neighbors. He also posted flyers in local libraries, bookshops, and around his neighborhood. Of course, he went all the way with decorations, food and drink. His house became a ‘real’ haunted house, complete with props, creepy music, candelabra, dry ice—naturally, his books were beautifully displayed at various locations throughout the house. Most guests were more than happy to purchase a copy of his book before leaving.

For book signings and readings, don’t forget to plan the event and contact the coordinators at least five months in advance, as they may have tight schedules during the Halloween season.

Remember that booksellers, especially specialty shops, are more willing to consider horror titles for shelf display during Halloween. So if you want your book to be sold in these shops, contact the owner or acquisition clerk several months ahead. You may approach them with an attractive brochure of your book, but preferably with a copy of the book itself accompanied by a brief cover letter. For a list of about thirty booksellers that specialize in horror, please check this link: http://www.horror.org/horrorlinks.htm.

Mayra Calvani is an author and book reviewer. Her latest release, DARK LULLABY, is a paranormal horror novel set in the Turkish countryside. For a blurb, excerpt and reviews, visit www.MayraCalvani.com. To view the trailer, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZgbg5wk5Ug .

Tags: the writer's life, book promotion, book publicity, author interviews, blogging authors, guest blog, guest bloggers, book blog, virtual book tour, online book promotion, Mayra Calvani, horror

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Promotion Begins with the First Word by L. Diane Wolfe

Promoting one’s work is the toughest challenge writers face. They are passionate about expressing themselves through words, but a lack of marketing knowledge can dampen their enthusiasm. If this is you, then continue reading – there is hope! The success of your work is influenced by that very first word.

You must consider the marketability of your work before pouring your heart and soul into your efforts. Explore your local bookstore to determine if your niche is too small or genre too large. Make sure your book will fill a real need. No one book appeals to all people, so know your target audience. Examine the competition in depth. Most book purchases are determined by either subject matter or the author’s reputation. Do you have enough status to be considered an expert in your field? If writing fiction, will the hook of your story be powerful enough to make you stand out from all the other authors in your genre? Take all of this into account before passionately writing a book you cannot sell.

Tie-ins play a key role in the success of a book as well. Start asking yourself now – who would endorse my book? Mentioning specific products, companies, individuals and locations may garner endorsements if you do so favorably. A celebrity endorsement, whether from an actor, an athlete or another author, will greatly increase the credibility of your work. Do not forget organizations, non-profit groups or even political parties that might recommend your book or even use it for a fundraiser. The setting of your story might be of great interest to the people who reside there and in fact could be your target audience. Consider all of these aspects as you create your work.

You must also be aware of the length of your book. When exploring the bookstore, look at the average length of books in your genre. Will yours be too long or too short? Page sizes and fonts will vary, so think in terms of word count. Research your genre thoroughly and be aware of the maximum and minimum word counts. If you have set a deadline for yourself, be sure you will be able to complete the book within that timeframe. A 200,000-word novel cannot be finished in just two months! Be sure to allow time for research as well.

The promotion process begins with the writing phase. If you do not prepare during this time, you may find it more difficult to properly market your book. Do not miss any opportunity. Write success into your book right now!

L. Diane Wolfe is the author of MIKE: THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, BOOK IV. You can visit her website at http://www.thecircleoffriends.net/.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Where and How to Find the Right Agents to Represent Your Work

I stumbled upon this website/blog this morning and thought I’d pass on the info to you. It’s called GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and you can find it at http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/.

I was very impressed with the amount of information they had there concerning agents that might be interested in your manuscripts. They have profiles of existing agencies and recent news on new agencies, as well as agent interviews and agent alerts. I am so in love with this site. Check it out!

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Monday, October 01, 2007

An Interview with Sports Memoir & Baseball Author Steven M. Reilly

Today's guest at The Writer's Life is Steven M. Reilly, author of the sports memoir, THE FAT LADY NEVER SINGS: HOW A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM FOUND REDEMPTION ON THE BASEBALL DIAMOND.

Since 1976, Steve Reilly has coached baseball in Connecticut's Lower Naugatuck Valley. He has coached Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth and American Legion teams and has spent the last 20 years assisting high school coaches. He assisted at Derby High School from 1986-1995, assisted Emmett O'Brien Regional Vocational Technical School in 1996 and will be coaching in his 11th season at Seymour High School in the Spring of 2007. He continues to coach a summer Senior Babe Ruth team and fall league team in Derby.A practicing Attorney since 1980, with an office in Oxford, Connecticut (http://www.getlawhelp.com/), Reilly and his wife, Suzanne, live in Seymour, Connecticut.You can visit his website at http://www.thefatladyneversings.com/.

Welcome to The Writer’s Life, Steven. I am so happy that I get to be your first stop on your virtual book tour. Can we start off by having you tell everyone what your book is about?

Thank you very much for inviting me.

The book is about redemption sought by three high school baseball players, their team, their coaches and the City they live in. In 1991, high school football was everything in Derby which is the smallest city in Connecticut. The team had a streak of twenty-eight straight years without having a losing season. The streak ended on Thanksgiving Day, 1991. Three seniors including the quarterback also played on the school’s baseball team. One of the seniors was the Mayor’s son and almost all of the other players on the baseball team played football. The head coach of the baseball team was also an assistant football coach who was also battling his own difficulty.

After blowing the streak, the football players, especially the three seniors, were labeled losers forever in the City. Their last chance at redemption was playing on the baseball team. Two of the Seniors were pitchers. The smallest school in the league, Derby battles for and makes the state tournament and ultimately, as the late North Carolina State basketball coach Jimmy Valvano would say, “survives and advances” to a state championship game.

But the game turns into a nightmare after an early lead disintegrates. We end up down by two runs with two outs in the last inning. With two runners in scoring position, the quarterback comes to the plate and ultimately gets a base hit to tie the game and send it into extras. The excitement builds as each extra inning results in Derby scoring and their adversary tying the game. Complicating matters, a pitching limitation rule forces one of the senior pitchers to return to the mound several innings after being removed. In the eleventh inning(the fourth extra inning) another Derby senior fouls off seven pitches in a row with a three-balls two-strikes two-out count until he ultimately drives in the winning runs. In the bottom of the last inning, Derby’s senior pitcher hangs on despite barely being able to pitch.

Can you tell us all about your background – family, where you’re from and all that good stuff?

I grew up in Derby, Connecticut(the smallest town in Connecticut talked about in the
book) and now live in nearby Seymour, Connecticut. I am one of three brothers. My older brother, Bob, is a Nephrologist who now lives in Irving, Texas. Bob has written two medical texts, one of which he dedicated to, among other people, Steve Colbert. My younger brother, Fred, was an attorney who practiced with me. Fred unfortunately passed away from cancer approximately eleven years ago.
I am very fortunate to have very supportive parents, Robert (who is an avid Yale football fan) and Nancy (who has every Louis L’Amour book in print except one), and a wonderful wife, Sue, who is the Executive Director of a local YMCA. We’ve been married to now for almost thirty years.

What do you do for a living besides writing?

I am attorney with a general practice in a small town named Oxford, not far from
Derby. I’ve been doing that for twenty-six years.

How did you become a sports fan?

I suppose it started for me as it did for a lot of kids in my generation. My parents bought wiffeball bats and balls and my brothers and I and neighborhood kids played in small backyards. After the balls cracked, we taped them with masking or duct tape until we could save up enough money to buy new ones. I collected baseball and football cards, connected doubles to my bicycle with clothes pins. I wish I still had some of those cards.

I watched a lot of games on television and wrote the baseball players letters and actually got responses from many of them. As I got older, I played hardball in the spring and football in the fall and winter (no matter what the weather) with neighborhood friends in a nearby open field. We’d play until it got dark or until a feisty old woman who rented a house adjacent to the field called the cops on us and then we would have to find somewhere else to play. In the spring, if we got kicked out of the nearby lot, we might go to a nearby Catholic School parking lot and play fast pitch rubberball; a strike zone was marked on the wall with chalk.

Did you play baseball as a kid and were you any good?

I knew very few kids who didn’t play baseball. I usually played against older kids which I think helped me when I got to high school. I’d like to think I was pretty good. I ended up captain of the high school team my senior year and was voted an “All Valley” selection when the season ended. I also played for a couple of seasons for a Division II college.

What’s your favorite team?

Back when I was a kid it was the Detroit Tigers. In 1968 when they beat the Cardinals in the World Series I listened to the games at school with a cheap portable radio that had an ear plug. Back then, most of the games were played in the daytime.

Now I’d have to say I’m mostly a Yankee fan but also route for the Mets, probably because I sometimes meet some of their players and coaches at baseball coaches clinics in Connecticut and New York.

What’s your fondest baseball memory?

I have a lot of fond memories as I have been coaching baseball for over thirty years. But if
I had to pick one, I’d have to say it’s jumping on the pile on the field in Middletown, Connecticut when the high school team I coached (Derby High) won a state championship, the saga of which is the subject of my book. You can actually see the crazy scene in the film clip on the book’s website. I’m the guy wearing glasses about to pass out from the emotion of the victory wearing number seventeen.

Do you have a favorite player? Least favorite?

Not really. My favorite players are usually throw-back kind of players no matter what team
they played or play for. When I was a kid it was Al Kaline and Mickey Lolich of the Tigers and guys like Carlton Fisk who believed there was only one way to play the game.

More recently, I’d have to say guys like Paul O’Neal, Thurman Munson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Nolan Ryan, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Tony Gwynn and basically any player who comes to play every game and respects it.

As for my least favorite player, I don’t have any specific player who crosses my mind, but I would say its any player who doesn’t run out a ground ball or a pop up or thinks he’s bigger than the game itself.

How many games do you watch in a given season?

If you count high school, Senior Babe Ruth and American Legion games as well as pro games, its over a hundred a year. I do quite a bit of scouting of high school teams even when I am not coaching and also am a baseball analyst for an internet radio station www.SportingNewsCT.com during the American Legion season and its post season tournament.

Of the two sports you love – baseball and football – what’s your favorite and why?

Its easily baseball as I have been coaching it now on various levels for over thirty years.

Are you planning on writing more sports books?

I am working on a screen play based upon the book. I want to accomplish that before I return to writing another baseball book. I certainly have enough stories to tell from all my years coaching to fashion another book from. Heck, there are some weekends I coach which contain enough zaniness to draft a new book from.

Thank you for coming to The Writer’s Life, Steven. Any final words?

The book comes with an enjoyment guarantee. If you purchase the book and for any reason
you are not thoroughly entertained by it, let me know and I’ll be happy to buy it back from you.

More information about the book can be found on the book’s website:
www.TheFatLadyNeverSings.com. Visitors can read the first three chapters of the book and also find reviews of the book, listen to podcast interviews as well as see current photographs of some of the remarkable players and coaches I had the good fortune to be associated with.
Thank you for coming, Steven! If you would like a chance to win a copy of THE FAT LADY NEVER SINGS, leave a comment below. All winners will be announced at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/ on Oct. 31.
Good luck!