Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Achieving Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour ’08 Where YOU Are the Star!

With 2007 behind us and 2008 on the horizon, it’s time to reflect on how we want the rest of our journey here on earth to go. Do we settle for letting life happen or do we take steps toward achieving our dreams? Do we think about it or do we DO it?

If you have watched the movie, “The Secret,” then you understand the power of affirmative thinking = affirmative action. Are you taking those steps in the right direction to enjoy life at its fullest – whether it’s through financial success, relationship bliss or perfect health?

On January 1, 2008, Judi Moreo, author of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal (Stephens Press, Dec. '07), will embark on a virtual book tour throughout the blogosphere, but it will involve YOU. She wants YOU to be the star in a campaign to let the world know how you are taking those steps in realizing your dreams.

If you would like to become involved in her ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08, here is how it works:

1. Repeat this passage from her book: “Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams” until you understand its powerful message.

2. Think about what steps you are taking to achieve your dreams and write about it. Your entry can be as long or as short as you’d like.
3. Post your message on your blog and give us the link so that we can post it on Judi's tour page at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/ (her tour page goes live tomorrow). Email us with your link at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com.

4. When we receive your link, we will put it on our daily rounds of promotions, thus bringing you instant traffic, so get those links to us soon!

5. We only ask that you include the passage above before your blog post so that people will understand what you are doing.

6. We also ask that you include a jpeg copy of Judi’s book, You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal, in your blog post. You can find her book cover at http://tinyurl.com/3cqa46 and link it to http://tinyurl.com/ywf67x.

7. All participants will be listed at Judi’s tour page at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/ when they come in, stating the date on which their blog post will appear and will remain there indefinitely.

That’s all there is to it! Hurry before time runs out. Become involved in a nationwide campaign to bring in 2008 with a bang and help others realize that dreams are not something that happens; dreams are something that YOU make happen. Let's make 2008 the year when you realize your dreams and make them happen. Share your stories and become involved in Judi Moreo's "Achieving Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour '08" where YOU are the star!
Judi's virtual book tour will be highly publicized including press releases and other promotions. Let us know what steps you are taking to achieve success and be read by thousands of Internet users!

Thank you,

Dorothy Thompson
CEO/Founder Pump Up Your Book Promotion
http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Do virtual book tours sell books?

Of all the online book promotional methods I know to sell your books, virtual book tours happen to be at the top of the list. I can say this because I do this every day, 24/7. There's no better way to gain the online attention your book deserves than to take it on the virtual highway. It can't help but to create an enormous online presence.

On the other hand, can a virtual book tour sell books? Your information is out there and read by thousands of readers, but are they buying?

There are a few extenuating circumstances that prevent the author from really knowing sure. However, on my Book Marketing Buzz blog today, I give you FIVE ways an author can choose to determine whether virtual book tours - or any promotional method - sell books. Some reliable, one very reliable.

Visit http://www.bookmarketingbuzz.wordpress.com/ to find out.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Interview with Time Travel Romance Author Jean Hackensmith

Welcome Jean Hackensmith, author of the time travel romance novel, THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE (Port Town Publishing, Sept. '07), to The Writer's Life!
Jean Hackensmith has been writing since the age of 20. (That’s 30 years – and, yes, she’s giving away her age.) She is married to her biggest supporter, Ron, and has three grown children and ten grandchildren. Jean’s relationship with her co-author, Kathe Birch, began in 1987. Though Jean does all the actual writing, Kathe is invaluable when it comes to research and plotting. (The duo does their best writing after midnight, when Kathe gets a little “squirrelly”, but that’s another story…)

Jean and Kathe wrote “Charmed Passage” in just over a year and had about half of “Destined Passage” done when they had a falling out and did not see each other for over two years. Luckily they mended fences, though, and, after giving “Charmed Passage” a facelift, it was published in 2000. “Destined Passage” followed in 2001 and “Doomed Passage” in 2002. With the time travel romance trilogy complete, Jean and Kathe moved on to “The Gitche Gumee Saga”, an historical romance saga – that’s when the letters and emails started. Readers wanted another “Passage” book. Jean and Kathe put their heads together to try and figure out how in the heck they were going to write another book when the trilogy had been designed to make that impossible. Well, nothing is impossible if you’re determined, they found out, and after coming up with what they think was an “ultimate” idea, they got to work. “The Ultimate Passage” was released earlier this year. A labor of love, “The Ultimate Passage” revisits all of the characters seen in the trilogy – which has now become a saga.


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Jean! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Hi, Dorothy, and thank you for having me. In answer to your question, I’ve been writing since I was about twenty years old—thirty-one years, to be exact, and yes, I’m disclosing my age! I have been married to my second husband, Ron, for 14 years—he’s my biggest fan and my biggest supporter. I am the proud mother of three, the stepmother of two and the grandmother of ten. My children and grandchildren alike are the highlight of my life. Next to writing, my passion is live theater. I founded our local community theater back in 1992 and still direct 2-3 shows a year.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

In truth, “The Ultimate Passage” was never supposed to be written. My co-author (Kathe Birch) and I started the “Passage” trilogy back in 1986. The three-book series, “Charmed Passage,” “Destined Passage” and “Doomed Passage” were supposed to be it. In fact, we designed the ending of “Doomed” to be just that. The end. That’s when the letters and emails started. Our readers wanted another “amulet” book. (It’s a “magic” amulet that induces the time travel in the first three books.) “So,” we asked ourselves, “how do we write a fourth book when the amulet went back to the goddess Aveena in the end of book three? Luckily, after much discussion, we came up with an idea. To make the saga work, though, we had to put our latest “victim” in a time period before that of the other books. We chose 14th century Scotland at the time of the Scottish rebellion. Even more intriguing, we chose to take our hero from a really distant time—namely, the 24th century—and we also chose to make him President of the United States in a time where citizens lived in domed cities, war and disease were no more, and sex had been outlawed because it was messy, unsanitary and could spread sexually transmitted disease. Can you imagine this poor guy’s horror when he finds himself suddenly dropped in the 14th century—where people are still having sex and where he falls in love with a woman determined to make him change his mind? Well, that’s the main plot in “The Ultimate Passage.” Even more fun, though, is the fact that, as with all the other books in the “Passage” saga, the characters from the first three stories are integral in this one, also. In order to avoid telling the same stories over again, though, we chose to have a little fun with the previous characters and pull them from different time periods—in some cases before they had even met and, in others, where one character remembers his or her former love, but the other doesn’t. Talk about romantic tension! Trust me, it’s there in “The Ultimate Passage.”

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Ultimate Passage”?

Enough to fill a file cabinet, but luckily we’re in the computer age. We not only had to research 14th century Scotland and Scottish rebellion—including Robert the Bruce and William Wallace—but we also had to do tons of research on a male’s pre-pubescent stage, which is basically where Darius Calhoun, the hero, is at when he enters the past. The government in the future laces the water with a fictional drug call Phentical, which limits the production of testosterone in a man and progesterone in a woman. Consequently, males in the 24th century are all in a pre-pubescent state, which means they have virtually no sexual drive or urges. The same goes for the women. We also bring ships from the 19th century and the 21st century back to that time period—compliments of the goddess Aveena—so it was also necessary to research ships in both time periods. Again, enough combined information to fill a file cabinet.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I’m lucky in that aspect, because I own the publishing company. Actually, I designed all the “Passage” covers myself.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Before I started my own company, I, like every author, was a struggling writer looking for a publisher. I literally papered my office walls with rejection slips (I’d read that Kathleen Woodiwiss—my idol—did the same and thought it was a cool idea. A way of kind of snubbing your nose at the all powerful New York publisher, I guess.) Anyway, by the end, I was getting personalized rejection letters, rather than form letters—a plus, believe me. The publishers were actually telling me that they liked my work, but I needed to change this, this, and this. Well, I did change this, this, and this and resubmitted to those who allowed it, and still got nowhere—except to be bombarded with more suggested changes. Then it got to the point where the big publishers wouldn’t look at unsolicited material. Okay, time to find an agent. I did so, rather easily—in fact too easily. This guy suggested that I have the book professionally edited, and he suggested an editor. Well, to make a long story short, the editor took $1500 from me and never did a thing. The agent was getting kickbacks for referring authors. It was a racket of the most painful kind. I finally got a letter from the attorney general in the state where the editor and agent lived, stating that both were being prosecuted for fraud. I never saw the manuscript again, or my $1500, but I learned a valuable lesson. I also got ticked off and decided to “do it myself.” Consequently, I self-published “Wagons To The Past,” my own book (not co-authored with Kathe). I spent countless hours researching book marketing, then went to work. “Wagons To The Past” sold just over 3000 copies in the first few months. Not a lot by big publisher standards, but I was ecstatic. In an author chatroom one night, I ran into a guy named Jonathan Briggs. He had written a science fiction novel called “S-4”. He asked if I would be willing to read it and, if I liked it, would I consider publishing it for him. I did, and Port Town Publishing was born.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Again, since I own the company, I’m lucky. “The Ultimate Passage” was in print within two months of finishing the final draft. Now my other authors aren’t quite as lucky. Generally, though, a book hits book shelves within a year of being contracted.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No, I don’t, but I am currently working on getting one. In fact, I just sent a query to an agent about a month ago.

Do you plan subsequent books?

“The Ultimate Passage” is the final book in The “Passage” saga. Both Kathe and I are firm on that note. Personally, though (and I do all the writing—Kathe does the research and helps with plotting) I just finished a romantic thriller, I guess you would call it. It is that manuscript that was submitted to an agent. I’m trying something new, I guess you would say. The new book, “Daddy’s Revenge” is about a woman and her new boyfriend who are being stalked and terrorized by her ex-husband.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?


Definitely a night writer. I got into the habit of writing at night when my kids were small. It was the only “quiet” time. I’ve just stuck with it—mainly because now I have to run the publishing company during the day. My normal bedtime is around 4:00 a.m. Friends and family know not to call Jean before noon!

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Television advertising on the major networks—maybe during the Super Bowl! Even as a publisher, the company can afford to do very little advertising for its writers. The majority of the promotion falls on the author. I’m no different. Promotion of my books comes out of my pocket. Such is the life of a small publisher.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Luckily, I’ve built enough of a reader base over the years that the books just kind of sell themselves. In the beginning, though, I spent hours upon hours researching book promotion techniques, which I have passed on to my authors. There are so many ways to promote a book on-line at virtually little or no expense. The virtual book tour I’m currently involved in is one example. One of the most important things is to get the book out there for review. It’s very important that readers see unbiased comments about your books. They can then judge for themselves whether or not they want to take a chance on spending the money to buy it.

Honestly, I’m just learning what a “blog” is, but I’ve quickly come to understand that visiting writer and reader blogs is another great way to promote your work. My publishing company downsized recently, which is why I now have time to actively promote my own books once again.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Keep trying! As both a publisher and an author, I cannot stress that enough. Don’t let rejection get you down. This is a tough business to break into, but well worth it in the end. Namely, when the manuscript (or query or proposal) is rejected, send it out again! Trust me, your persistence will pay off if you believe in yourself and in your work.

Thank you for coming, Jean! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Mine and Kathe’s books, as well as my own books, can be ordered from virtually any book store across the country. They are also available on-line through many retailers, though admittedly most of my sales are through Amazon.com and the publisher web site at http://www.porttownpublishing.com/. The publisher website is the only place, though, that offers a discount if you buy the entire “Passage” saga. Do so, and readers will receive $10.00 off the combined cover prices. The publisher site also features a synopsis and excerpt from each book.

Thank you again for having me, Dorothy! It has been fun!
Editor's Note: Jean is on a virtual book tour! Leave a comment here to be eligible to win a free copy of her book, THE ULTIMATE VOYAGE!


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Interview with Christian Fiction Author Sydney Molare

Welcome Sydney Molare’, author of the Christian fiction novel, DEVIL’S ORCHESTRA to The Writer's Life!

Sydney is one of the latest crop of Southern authors to watch. Her novel’s messages cross genres, ethnicities and locales. Her goal is to always have “little message for everyone.” Her books are garnering her awards from bookclubs and reviewers across the country. Sydney was recently named, “Mississippi Hometown Hero, Most Likely to Succeed” and the 2006 Mississippi’s BEST Author.

Sydney's novels include—Somewhere In America; Small Packages; Changing Faces, Changing Places; Grandmama’s Mojo Still Working; and Devil’s Orchestra. You can visit her home on the web at www.sydneymolare.com.

Sydney will not only be telling us all about her wonderful book today, but she will also give us an inside glimpse of what it’s like to be on virtual book tour this month!

Welcome to The Writer’s Life, Sydney! Can we begin by having you tell us how and why you got into this crazy business of writing books in the first place?

I'm a veterinarian that caught the writing bug late in life. I've been writing since December 2001. I remember the date because my marriage was breaking down and I was on the winter break and needed something to occupy my hands and mind besides my situation.

Your book, DEVIL'S ORCHESTRA, is an Christian fiction. Why did you choose the christian fiction genre to pen your novel?

It chose me this time. I actually write across genres. I was hashing over recent events and the premise for this story began forming. Of course, having written erotica and mainstream, Christian fiction wasn't ever a real thought of mine. I like real-to-life books, meaning it's most likely NOT PG rated. But the story kept niggling my mind and I decided to give it a shot. It was a story needed in today’s society.

Can you tell us what the most challenging thing about writing Christian fiction is?

Having never written it prior, everything! Traditional Christian fiction is very G rated--no cursing, no sex, very true to scriptures. I didn't feel that this story could or should be white-washed. My Christian fiction has teeth. The story is spicy and contemporary but the underlying message is spiritual.

Let’s talk about your typical day. Do you have a set time for writing or do you let the muse hit you?

I am a writing vampire. I want to write after my son is in the bed or at least out from under my feet. Then I write for a few hours until I fall into bed.

The characters in your book…can you tell us who they are and describe them briefly?

Tab McGrifth- #1 radio personality on the Eastern seaboard. He made his money the old way--by stepping on one person at a time. He's lied, cheated and "misrepresented" whatever needed to be as he clawed his way to the top of the pile. Now the man that taught him everything he knows, his old mentor Whitey Ford, has returned....

Deva- Hip hop princess extraordinaire. Many are under the impression that she is just a gorgeous airhead. But nothing could be further from the truth. With her shrewd business mind and amazing "luck", Deva is worth somewhere in the upper nine digit range. Deva, like all of us, has her faults. She loves the money--and what accompanies it--just a bit TOO much. In fact, she is slap out of control. When an old friend from back home, Ed Burris, confronts her about her lifestyle, things get explosive...

Juan Rodriguez- gay author and proud of it too. With his life partner, Zeus and son, Loam, Juan's life is definitely on track. That is, until Bodie pops back into his life. Bodie. Blond, beach boy tan, Juan's first lover. He put the w-h-o-r in whore...and doggonit if Juan wasn't still feeling him...

And then there's Luke...

What kind of a setting did you choose and why did you choose it?

A tavern. I needed a location where all three characters path could intersect as well as have the action happen with creating a huge hullabaloo. AND I like the idea of the smokey tavern situated in a rural setting. I'm country and these what we call "hole in the wall" or "jukes" are commonplace. I just spiffed it up--slapped on a coat of paint, added real seating--and called it a tavern.

Did you have any input on cover design?

All the input! The cover you have is actually the second cover. The first had a man with fire coming out of his head. It was quite shocking! I loved it but it seems that many people thought the book was horror so I took my publicists advice and changed it.

How about your title? How did you come up with such a really unique name?

I had the name before I had the story. LOL. This was my line of thinking about my three main characters. Through their actions, they ended up being the top producers for Hades. In a band or orchestra, the best player were called first chair. The second tier, second chair and so on down the line. I was thinking that the 3 characters were really the devil's "first chair players" in his orchestra--Hades.

I understand that you are on a virtual book tour. Can you tell my readers how that has been for you so far?

A blast. The world really is your oyster as you bounce around cyberspace. I've so enjoyed hitting new sites, getting comments from new readers...it can be such a rush sometimes.

Do you have any helpful hints you would like to tell those authors who are about to embark on their own virtual book tours?

Be willing to open up, let people into your head. Most of the basic information is already on your site, so these tours allow others to get a more personal glimpse of you. So be candid and creak open the door of your mind.

I thank you for coming, Sydney. Would you like to tell us how we can pick up a copy of your book, DEVIL'S ORCHESTRA?

All online bookstore retailers and it can be ordered at the brick and mortar stores also. www.sydneymolare.com

If you would like to comment to win a copy of Sydney Molare's book, click here!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doing It Her Way - Theresa Chaze Takes Self-Publishing Seriously

I have been hooked on writing since I was eleven years old when I wrote a poem for my Mom on Mother's Day. Since then I have worked in venues from short stores to screenplays. Although I have been writing for decades, it wasn't until the late 90's that I began to fully focus on creating a career. It has been a long row to hoe, but finally my work, both the fiction and non-fiction, is receiving positive attention. Not only have I grown as writer, but as a computer geek and promotional marketer. It took admitting how much I didn't know to realize how much I needed to know to be successful. By setting aside my pride, I was able to open doors to make writing more creative as well as how to get it to market.

My first finished novel was originally called Dragon's New Home. It was published as an ebook. At the time, I had very little knowledge of what meant. I was very naive when it came to promotions and marketing. I didn't know what it took to get a book noticed. Part of the problem was that ebooks were still in the infancy stage. Most people had never heard of them. Sales to say the least were disappointing. After six months, I pulled the book and did a rewrite.

A few months later, I received a letter from Publish America. They said they found my novel through my US copyright and wanted to publish it. They claimed to be a traditional publisher that would make my novel a best seller. It seemed too good to be true--and it was. PA is not a traditional publisher; they are a print on demand whose sole goal is to sell books to authors not bookstores. They claimed to do line by line editing along with creative original book covers. I signed a contract with them with hope in my heart and stars in my eyes. Had I done more research I never would have signed the contract. But hindsight is 20/20. I was still new to the computer world, which is why Dragon's New Home wasn't technically ready for publication. There were major technical errors, but since PA said they were going to do a line-by-line edit, I thought the problem was solved. What they said and what they did were two different things. The proof arrived with many errors. I went through it and made the corrections, but they never made it into the final product. The cover they created had nothing to do with the story, yet PA reassured me that the cover was professional designed for it. I was naive and believed them. The book was released. It was overly priced and poor quality. Reviewers liked the story, the characters and the concept; however, they criticized the technical errors such a spelling and punctuation--all the things that even a beginning editor would have caught. Even with the mistakes, Dragon's New Home sold better than many other PA books.

While promoting Dragon's New Home, I wrote the sequel, Dragon Domain. Half way through I realized that another book would be needed to tell the whole story and the Dragon Clan Trilogy was born. The more I became involved on the internet, the more writers I met and the more aware I became not only of how to promote but why it was so difficult for me to get my book on brick and mortar shelves. Although Print on Demand books were growing in availability and popularity, PA was being exposed as an author mill that would publish anything. Their lack of discrimination cast a shadow on all the books they were associated with. When the royalty checks started coming late and short, I began to question PA and was met with hostility. There were people contacting me, telling me how much they enjoyed reading it, yet I the royalty check didn't reflect that books were being sold. The more I learned the more foolish I felt. After about a year, I asked for the contract to be terminated. PA refused. It was very little comfort to learn that I was only one of hundreds of authors who were in the same boat. One author met the terms of viewing his records by flying to the home office; since he took his accountant with him, PA denied him access. Many of us formed a group to pressure the government and the media to investigate; although, we did get some attention, it did very little good. Eventually I started an anti-promotional campaign against my own book, telling people not to buy it.

A few months later I learned that if a book is changed by more than 20% it is considered a new product. I rewrote it and changed the title to Awakening the Dragon--Book One of the Dragon Clan Trilogy. Around this time, other authors had started to sue PA and win; they had started releasing authors who sent requests by certified mail. I sent the letter and my rights were released.

Through a friend, I found and joined an online group called Writers Life. It is a diverse group of writers who are very willing to share information and resources. Janet Elaine Smith was one of the authors. Not only was she a very prolific writer, but she also did editing and promotions for Pagefree Publishing. She spoke highly of the company. I did the research and couldn't find any negative comments about them at the time. They also worked with the Print on Demand technologies; however, they are a subsidy press. They charged a several hundred dollar set up fee with most of their serves costing extra. I contacted them; Kim seemed to be very knowledgeable and ethical, so I signed with them. At the time, they were offering a basic level edit for free. I contracted for both novels. Dragon Domain was send first. The proof came back with many errors. Some of them were mine; some of them the Pagefree added. The biggest one was the changing of outed to ousted. Jane outed Raven as being a witch, but Pagefree had her being ousted. I sent back the changes; Pagefree tried to charge me for additional editing fees. I refused to pay them and threatened to pull both books. Pagefree changed their mind. When the proof for Awakening the Dragon arrived, there were even more errors. I pulled the book and reedited. When I resubmitted, they tried to charge me as a new submission. Again, I refused. The second proof contained formatting errors, which I asked to be fixed. They did fix those, but in the process, they created others. The final product had chapters starting at the bottom of the previous page instead of at the top of a new page. They offered to fix the errors for a price. I refused. It was their mistake; why should I pay for the repair? They reduced the price, but insisted on payment. We both dug our heels in. I tried to pull my books, but they were refusing to return my payment. I could either eat the total cost or release as is. May 2006 both books
> were released. Soon after, Pagefree turned on Janet. After all the authors she had brought to them, they slandered her professional name and fired her as their promotional director. Suddenly I had deja vu and a sick feeling.

My promotional skills had improved. Even with the formatting errors, I was confident that I could get enough books sold in a year to interest a traditional publisher. I placed ads in magazine, did interviews and created a newsletter that rapidly became a popular ezine called Messages From The Universe. I was rapidly becoming a computer geek and a desktop publisher. By cold calling bookstores, I interested them in carrying my novels. Unfortunately, the middle of October 2006 a situation beyond my control led to a seven month illness. I lost all the momentum that I had gained. But even in that short time, I was able to get over 40 stores nationwide to carry my novels along with two local stores including Borders. In addition, I learned the benefits of networking on the net not only in my target audience but also by spiraling out to the general fiction market.

Royalties were to be paid quarterly. The first quarter came and went without a check. When I questioned Pagefree, I was told that I hadn't met the 25.00 threshold for a payment, but that the next quarter I would be receiving a check. The second quarter also pasted without a check. My emails and phone messages went unreturned. Other Pagefree authors contacted me about unpaid royalties. I wasn't the only one who was being cheated.
>
> I started my questioning if all the hard work, lack of sleep and missed good times was worth it. Frustrated, I created ebook versions of both books and sold them off my site. My ebook of shadows, Out of the Shadows and Into the Light was finished and made available. It was their success that kept me going. Early spring of 07, I started researching what it would take to self publish. What I found was amazing. The print on demand technology makes the process simple and inexpensive. I found a POD printer that could produce a 300 page mass paperback with four-color cover for less than $4.00. The drawback was getting a distributor. Ingram wouldn't consider small publishers with a listing less than ten; there were also additional cost involved. They did, however, have associated printers/distributors that they accepted work through. The most popular was Lightning Source. Although Lightning Source wasn't exactly what I wanted and they were more costly, they did get my novels listed with Ingram and Baker & Taylor. I decided that they were worth the trade off until I could get a longer list of available titles and a bigger budget.

In May, I bought my block of ten of ISBN numbers. If an author is going to be publishing more than two books, the block is the cheapest way to go, especially since paperback and ebooks need to be listed separately. In addition, I learned more about desktop publishing; specifically, how to properly format for print. With what I had been doing for Messages From The Universe, it was only a small step for both the typesetting and the creation of the cover. Awakening the Dragon was submitted. The only change was that cover needed to be tweaked for size. Two weeks later, I had the proof in my hands and I was ready to start the promotion machine again as well as prepare Dragon Domain for a Thanksgiving release date.

What I learned in the past five years is as long as there are people with a dream, there will be someone who will try to take advantage of it. Publishers like Publish America and Pagefree aren’t interested in creating successful books. That isn’t how they make their money. Instead, their goal is to sign up writers and con them into paying for services, many of which aren’t provided or aren’t needed. Books that become successful enough to warrant royalty payments are usually dropped; royalties cost in accountant fees and involve a tax trail.

By doing it for myself, I proved that publishing isn’t that difficult or expensive as many of the POD companies are making it out to be. They are not concern with the quality of the book as much as their own bottom line. It’s when I decided that I was going to expand Valkyrie Publishing to include a consulting service. I don’t have the accounting skills to publish others’ books, but I can help them do it for themselves. What I do is typeset, create covers and help with the promotions. I make the books look professional. The author maintains control of the content and the profits. It is a win-win situation for both of us.

In the long run, bookstores aren’t looking at who publishes the book, but quality between the covers, if it is returnable, and what kind of discount is offered. First and foremost, books need to be well written and edited. Secondly, it needs to be returnable. With the low profit margin, bookstores aren’t willing to take risks on new authors if they don’t have a little insurance backing it. Thirdly, the book has to be cost effective. The higher the cover price, the less likely it will sell. Royalties are great but don’t expect a big payoff the first time out of the gate. In addition, the minimum discount off the cover is 50% with the industry standard being 55%. Having less than all three and you are just working against yourself.

In August, I formally terminated my association with Pagefree, but have yet to receive a royalty check. I rather suspect I will need to take legal action in order to be paid what I am due.

Theresa Chaze is the author of AWAKENING THE DRAGON and the owner of Valkyrie Publishing. You can visit her website at www.theresachaze.com.

If you would like to comment, click here!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Death Wizard Chronicles by Jim Melvin

THE DEATH WIZARD CHRONICLES, BOOK ONE, THE PIT
by Jim Melvin

The Death Wizard Chronicles is a six-book epic fantasy series from Rain Publishing Inc. Book One (The Pit) debuted September 2007; Book Two (Moon Goddess) will be published in October; Book Three (Eve of War) in November; Book Four (World on Fire) in December; Book Five (Sun God) in January 2008; Book Six (Death-Know) in February 2008. All six books will be available for purchase at rainbooks.com, amazon.com, and select bookstores in the U.S. and Canada.

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers — or the faint of heart. But fans of authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, and Steven Erikson will find much to enjoy in this series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative — death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a ‘‘temporary suicide.’’ Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millenium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

The Writer's Life: Jim, welcome to The Writer's Life. I've been following your virtual book tour and learning so much about you and our readers have as well. For your book spotlight question today, I'd like to ask you more about your main character, The Death Wizard, so here you go...

In your epic fantasy series, The Death Wizard Chronicles, you have a character called the Death Wizard. Describe him and answer me this one question: If the Death Wizard was present-day reality, how would that change the world in its present state, or more specifically, how could the Death Wizard himself change the world?

Jim: Torg is indeed called a Death Wizard, hence the title of my series. But he is more accurately called a Death-Knower. He is a member of a race of warriors called Tugars who live in a mythical desert called Tçjo on the planet Triken. Among their many talents, Tugars are practitioners of the art of meditation, which they use to grow spiritually and to calm their minds. On rare occasions, individual Tugars achieve such a high level of concentrative meditation, their heart literally stops beating and they die. But they have a special ability to feed on Death Energy and return from death, whereupon they are enriched with magical powers. These special Tugars are called Death-Knowers, and among them Torg is the greatest to have ever lived.

Physically, all Tugars -- and especially Torg -- are magnificent specimens. Torg is 7 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds. He has shoulder-length, jet-black hair, deep blue eyes, and is extremely muscular. In other words, a happily married woman with five kids would dump her entire family for him without a second's hesitation. Ha!

Torg is a long-lived being. At the time that Book One begins, he is 1,000 years old, though he would appear to you or I as an extremely fit 40-year-old. He also commands great magical powers, including blue flames that can be used to destroy or to heal. And he is tremendously strong -- far, far stronger than any man or woman who has ever lived on Earth. If he went into a Gold's Gym, he'd win the bench-press contest with ease. In fact, there's no barbell stout enough to hold the amount of weight he could bench-press. But I'm guessing he probably could do around two tons.

Torg is a supremely competent warrior, adept with all manner of medieval and magical weapons. Yet he also is a deep thinker, who is concerned not just for himself but for all living beings who walk the path of goodness. He is a beloved king and widely admired hero, and his people adore him like no other. In fact, they would consider it an honor to die for him.

If Torg were to suddenly appear in our present-day world, he would stand out in many ways. For one, he would be an astounding physical specimen, sort of a Shaq O'Neil with a much better body. But it's not like he's 10 feet tall, so at least he could blend in to ordinary society.

As a leader, he would be without peer. For one thing, he is a sincerely moral person -- almost god-like in his proximity to perfection -- and he would demand no less from his followers. For another, he is long-lived, so if he were to assume a position of power, he could command for centuries instead of decades or a few short years. This would create an remarkable consistency, one that the planet Earth has never before experienced. Plus, his magical powers, in our world, would be astounding to behold. For instance, he is capable of healing cancer, but only on an individual basis. And he would be formidable in battle, though again on a limited basis. Certainly nuclear weapons and other high-powered bombs would be capable of destroying him, as they destroy so many things.

People often talk about Tiger Woods and his potential to be a world leader once he leaves behind the game of golf. Tiger is known and beloved throughout the world. Torg could achieve similar status, and if he did, the sky would be the limit -- and planet Earth would be far better for it.

However, I'm not so sure that Torg would even attempt such a thing. I think that he quickly would become exasperated and perhaps even disgusted by the living conditions on Earth, and he might choose to journey to one of the large deserts and simply disappear. Perhaps an Earth-like version of Tugars would eventually form around him, but even they would remain hidden from the outside world. If that were to occur, it would be a shame. But could you really blame him?

If you'd like a chance to win a free copy of Jim's book, go to this link and leave a comment!

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

The S.R.E. Web Widget

Aaron Shepherd has devised yet another way we can keep track of our sales rankings at Amazon. He's calling it the S.R.E. Web Widget which when adding the code for it on your blog, you and your viewers can see at an easy glance what your sales rankings are on a daily basis at Amazon.

If you go here, you'll see the code which includes a snippet of html. At the end of the html, you'll see a set of numbers. What you simply do is replace those numbers with your numbers. If you are not familiar with this, it's simply your ISBN with a letter of the alphabet after it which you can find in your browser when going to your sales page at Amazon.

If you want to see how I set mine up for my one and only paperback book, click here and look in the right hand sidebar.

What I like about it is that I can keep track of my Amazon rankings without having to go over to Amazon...waaay cool!

Aaron, you simply amaze me!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Help Marilyn Celeste Morris Fight Lupus This Christmas!

Title of Book: DIAGNOSIS: LUPUS: THE INTIMATE JOURNAL OF A LUPUS PATIENT
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Author: Marilyn Celeste Morris

Summary:

When assaulted by a myriad of symptoms including joint pain and severe fatigue, Marilyn Celeste Morris embarked on an intensive, three-year, five-doctor search for diagnosis and treatment of this baffling disease. During that time, she kept a journal to record her feelings of loss of her former self, anger at the medical profession, and yes, even expressed anger at a God that she grew to understand.

Half the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the LFA to help further the search for a cure for this baffling disease. Please click on book cover to order from Amazon and help others in their fight against Lupus. Marilyn fights for her cause by giving up a portion of her book sales, so please, find it in your heart to pick up a copy of her book so that she can continue her relentless campaign to help others fight this baffling disease for which there is no cure.

We asked Marilyn what was the hardest thing about living with Lupus and this was her response:

"The hardest thing about living with lupus is its uncertainty. There is no predictable course for a person's journey with this disease, as in Stage One, Stage Two, etc. It can flare at any time, for any reason, and then go into remission for days, weeks, even years. While I think I might be doing okay today, lupus is silently invading my vital organs, only to present its damage later. Not everybody experiences the same symptoms, either. I have a friend whose lupus presented itself simply by having no kidney function. She had no other signs of active lupus, such as the mylar face rash, rheumatoid symptoms, etc. Another person suddenly had a seizure and it was determined that she had central nervous system involvement from lupus. The ironic thing about her is that she's a marathon runner and can still do that, as long as she takes her anti-seizure meds.

And I have to mention one other "hard thing" about having lupus -- trying to explain to others who tell you, "But you don't look sick!" Of course, what they're saying is, "How can you possibly be sick when you're so --- uh-- so -- fat?" 'We're generally pumped up on cortisone (steroids) which are a blessing and a curse.

But I have learned, as I've lived with this disease and all its surprises, that life itself is uncertain and we have little or no control over some aspects of life. We do what we can. Someday -- and I hope in my lifetime -- we will have an effective cure and nobody on this planet will ever have to live with lupus."

You can visit Marilyn's blog at http://www.theladywithlupus.blogspot.com/.

Because Blogger is being a PITA, if you want to comment, click here.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Say Amen to The Amen Sisters!

I've got a great guest today at The Writer's Life! Her name is Angela Benson and she is the author of the christian fiction novel, THE AMEN SISTERS, and sistah, this is no ordinary christian fiction! It's full of taboos - from an adulterous husband to things happening in the church you just don't talk about!

I'm very pleased to not only have her as our client at Pump Up Your Book Promotion, but host her today at The Writer's Life. Without further ado...I give you the one and only...Ms. Angela Benson....

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Angela! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I'm an author with a full-time job as a university professor. Kensington Books published my first novel, Bands of Gold, back in 1994 during the launch year of Arabesque Books, their ground-breaking line of romances featuring African-American heroes and heroines.

I published five romance novels and one romance novella with Arabeseque during the 1994-1997 timeframe. BET Books (now Harlequin’s Kimani Books) released a collection of three of those early books (Bands of Gold, For All Time and Between the Lines) in April 2006. I also published two novels with Silhouette Books, both in 1997, which were recently re-issued.

My first Christian fiction titles were Christian romances published by Tyndale House Publishers. Awakening Mercy hit bookshelves in 2000. It was a finalist for both the RITA Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. Abiding Hope, winner of the EMMA Award for Excellence in Inspirational Romance Fiction, followed in 2001.

My third and most recent Christian fiction title, The Amen Sisters (Walk Worthy Press, 2005/2007) marked my entry into what is considered mainstream Christian fiction. The hard cover edition of The Amen Sisters reached #10 on Essence Magazine’s list of bestselling books in February 2006.

My tenth novel, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

The Amen Sisters is a story of recovery from an abusive church situation. The main character, Francine Amen, left her home and her family to follow a ministry that she believed was doing the work of God, only to find that the pastor and the church had secrets that would lead to the death of one of her closest friends. In her recovery, Francine has to return home and mend fences with her sister, Dawn (who’s now married to Francine’s ex-fiancé), the church family she left behind, and the family of her dead friend. Francine finds the world she left behind in a bit of turmoil and she can’t help but blame herself for some of the problems. As she tries to make things right in the present, she finds she must first make peace with what happened in the past.
While the story deals with the sensational topic of sexual predators in the church, I didn't want to write a story that focused on the bad acts of some preacher. I wanted to write a story that honored those who were, and are, preyed upon. So The Amen Sisters does not take the reader into the bad acts of pastors and ministry leaders; it shows the far-reaching impact of those acts on the parishioners who sit in the pews and the struggle those parishioners face as to recover from the blow.

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Amen Sisters”?

My main characters own a funeral home so I spent a good amount of time researching how the mortuary business works. Not much of this information made it to the pages of the book, but it helped me write realistically about the operation of funeral homes.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Now that’s an easy one – none. But that’s the way it’s been with all my books. I typically get a copy of the early cover design but I have little to no influence over what how the final cover looks.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been smooth sailing?

Bumpy and I have a stack of revision letters from publishing houses and agent to prove it! Seriously, I began writing romance fiction with African-American characters in 1992 before those stories gained the interest of mainstream publishers. Fortunately, I finished my first book around the time that Kensington Books began Pinnacle Arabesque, their line of romances featuring African-American characters. My first five books found a home there.

African-American romance has since joined the mainstream and I’ve been published by several mainstream publishing houses, including Harlequin/Silhouette, Tyndale House Publishers, and Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing. My next book, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

The Amen Sisters took the long road to publication. I signed the contract with Walk Worthy Press in 2002 and the book was published in 2005. The time from contract to publication was so long because, after about a year of revisions, I finally realized that the publisher and I were miles apart in our visions for the book. At the end of my rope, I made a fateful call to the publisher, fully prepared to terminate the contract and re-pay the advance. Imagine my surprise when my publisher said, “Write your book, Angela,” or some words to that effect. Those words freed me up, and seven months later, I turned in The Amen Sisters. A year after that, The Amen Sisters was in bookstores.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Natasha Kern is my agent.

Do you plan subsequent books?

My next book, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Night. I tend to get started around midnight and write until 7 or 8 in the morning.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

What a great question! I was just talking about this with Lynn Emery, a writer friend of mine. She came up with idea of showing book trailers in movie theaters. Of course, the key would be picking movies with the same target demographic as your book and repeatedly putting the book trailer in front of them. I think that would be a great way to reach readers.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

This is a tough question. After 10+ years in the business, I still don’t have good answers when it comes to promotion. With the trade paperback edition of The Amen Sisters, I wanted to reach new readers so I chose promo activities that would likely get me in front of people who have never read me. I think the virtual blog tour is a great way of doing this.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Keep writing. I have a stack of revision letters from publishing houses and agents. Every time I’d get a rejection, I’d sent out another proposal or query letter. Remember, “the race doesn’t go to the swiftest, but to him who endures to the end.”

Thank you for coming, Angela! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

You can find The Amen Sisters at most online bookstores, including Amazon.com, BN.com, and ChristianBook.com. Your local bookstore should also have copies. If it’s out of stock, they can easily re-order it.

You can reach my blog and website on the web at http://www.angelabenson.com/ and http://www.theamensisters.com/

I also have pages at MySpace (www.myspace.com/angelabenson), Shelfari (www.shelfari.com/angelabenson) and Shoutlife (www.shoutlife.com/angelabenson)

ALERT!!! ALERT!!! ALERT!!!

Angela is on a virtual book tour and is giving away a copy of her book, THE AMEN SISTERS! Woohoo! All you have to do to win is leave a comment below. That's all there is to it! At the end of the month, she'll pick a winner and we'll announce it at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/! How's that for making your Christmas bright? Leave a comment...tell her hi...tell her she's the best thing since the invention of Cheez Whiz...we don't care! Just comment and win, win, win!!!!

Oh...blogger is being a big PITA, so if go here and comment!

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