Monday, June 30, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: THE WELL-FED SELF-PUBLISHER'S PETER BOWERMAN

Peter Bowerman, a veteran commercial freelancer and business coach, is the author of the 2000 award-winning Book-of-the-Month Club selection, The Well-Fed Writer, and its 2005 companion volume, TWFW: Back For Seconds (both self-published; www.wellfedwriter.com). His books have become how-to “standards” on starting a lucrative commercial freelancing business – writing for businesses, large and small, and for rates of $50-125+ an hour. He chronicled his self-publishing success (52,000 copies of his first two books in print and a full-time living for over five years) in his third book, the award-winning 2007 release, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. www.wellfedsp.com.


About the Book:

Landing a publisher has never been harder. Even when you do, count on anemic royalty rates, 18 to 24 months to publication, and giving up the rights to your book. And you’ll still be expected to do most of the marketing yourself! There’s a better way. Thanks to the Internet, self-publishing has become easier, more viable, and more potentially lucrative than ever before.

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher is a step-by-step how-to guide to help authors successfully and profitably self-publish their titles. It is based directly on the successful self-publishing of my first two books (currently 52,000 copies in print). The subtitle of the book is not hype: my first book earned me a full-time living for over four years, and both books together, six-plus.

“Self-publishing” still carries a stigma, and sadly, in most cases, it’s earned and deserved. I’ve been successful largely because of my commitment to creating a superior product, both in form and content – all the “how-to” details of which I share in this book. With TWFSP, I help to raise the bar on self-publishing so that thousands of self-publishing authors don’t keep needlessly sabotaging themselves.

Comprehensive Scope

Far more than just a book about the self-publishing process, TWFSP also features an entire chapter (Two) on developing the crucial “marketing mindset” most creative types lack, plus chapters on virtually every aspect of book marketing and promotion, plus distribution, POD, and five appendices (including extensive resources, timeline, foreign rights, and more). Visit “Why This Book?” (page xix) to learn why this book stands out in its field, though, in a nutshell, there are five keys:

· Sales and Marketing Discussion (for non-salesy “Creatives”)

· A Radically Different Approach to Marketing (Internet, not media)

· Focus on Process and Profit (most books focus only on the first)

· Personal, Engaging Writing Style (making learning a blast!)

· One Big “Real-World” Case Study (totally non-theoretical)


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

Well, as many people know, when I started, I had no writing background, no paid professional writing experience – had never been paid to write anything, in fact. I came out of a sales background (15 years before I even started my writing business). I always wanted to write for a living, but wasn’t willing to starve at it. When I came across the “commercial” writing field: writing freelance for companies, and for hourly rates of $50-125+, and the subject of my first two Well-Fed Writer titles (the ones whose successful self-publishing outcome – 52,000 copies in print and a full-time living for 5+ years – spawned The Well-Fed Self-Publisher), I had an epiphany. This was how I’d do it!

I really wanted it to work so I hit it hard, made something like 1000 phone calls in the first few months and in less than four months, was paying all my bills and working at it fulltime. Minus the waiting tables thing at night! ;)

So, I actually had very little background as a writer – which is, I think, one of the things that makes my story a good one and inspirational one for a lot of people.

Can you tell us about The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, and why you wrote it?

Check out virtually any writer’s publication or web site, and chances are, you’ll come across one or more articles about the challenges of getting published – along with tips, strategies, tricks, etc. So many want it, but so few manage to get it.

Even those authors who are admitted to The Publishing Kingdom quickly discover that the emperor truly has no clothes: anemic royalties, 18-24 months to publication, loss of creative control, surrendered book rights and the unpleasant realization that even after giving up all that, authors are still expected to shoulder the lion’s share of the book promotion burden themselves! All to earn – in most cases – far less than a buck a book.

I felt that for most authors, self-publishing was truly viable, and given how much time and energy they’d have to invest even in a conventional publishing scenario if they wanted success – and all for a lousy return – didn’t it make more sense to do it yourself and keep control of the process, the timetable, the rights, and most of the money?

I felt my story was a good one, and one worth telling. Oh, and yes, I thought I could make money! Because my formula had worked twice, it could work again (and has). Yes, that success benefits me, but it also reaffirms the fundamental validity of the book’s premises.

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Well-Fed Self-Publisher”?

I pretty much chronicled my own successful self-publishing venture, which is one of the key selling points of the book: It’s One Big Case Study. Far from theoretical, it’s my own story of how I went from just an idea for one book (and eventually two) to then producing it and bringing it to market to having it generate a substantial income stream. I cover every step of the way, in exhaustive detail. When finished, the reader will know exactly what he or she needs to do at every step of the way to duplicate my success. Obviously, everyone’s book is different, but I share how I did it.

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

As a self-publisher, I had total control over the book cover. Right out of the gate, with my first book, The Well-Fed Writer, I hired a professional graphic designer (which is the least you should do, if not a professional book cover designer, which is what I now recommend to people), NOT a friend who was artistic or who’d taken a course or two on graphic design.

With my designer in tow, we went to our local B&N, camped out in front of the writing section for an hour, pulling books off the shelf and studying them for what worked, what didn’t, and why. Armed with my preferences and her expertise, she went away and came back with four designs, one of which ended up being the final. The second and third books just leveraged the same graphic layout, just changing out the colors and text. View covers at http://wellfedwriter.com/books.shtml and http://www.wellfedsp.com/orderTWFSP.html.

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

It’s actually gone quite well as a self-published author. It is a LOT of work, but I’m really happy I went the self-publishing route as opposed to trying to land a publisher. I’m far more in control of the entire process, including, most importantly, the money I make. I assert that a self-publishing author can do a better job than a conventional publisher in virtually ever aspect of the publishing process. Remember: No one will ever care about your book as much as you do.

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

Again, it’s a totally different paradigm for self-publishers. You’re in control of the timetable, which can be FAR shorter than with a conventional publisher. As noted above, it can be 18-24 months to publication with a publisher. With my books, from the time the book went to the editor till the time I had printed books in my hand has averaged 5-6 months.

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?

Again, no agent needed for self-publishing. But, as I understand it, those wanting to get published need to have one as precious few conventional publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from authors.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m currently working on the updated version of my first book, The Well-Fed Writer, which will actually encompass and update the content of both Well-Fed Writer titles. So, when it’s all said and done, I’ll just have two books.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I’m at my most creative in the late afternoon into evening. I try not to do too much mental heavy lifting in the early hours of the day, leaving that for more administrative tasks.

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

I’d probably invest in a reputable PR/book promotion agency who, by virtue of long-standing contacts, might be able to more effectively get through to the mainstream media (MSM) than an unknown author might. That said, given that my books are niche books, it still might be challenging even for them. See my answer to the next question to get a sense of what HAS worked for me.

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

I realized early on that TWFW was a niche book (how many people want to write for companies for a living or self-publish a book?). If you’re a relatively unknown author of a niche book, by and large, the mainstream media (MSM) just don’t care about you.

(P.S. If you DO contact MSM, make sure any release talks about your book ONLY as it relates to a topical trend of interest to readers, NOT the book itself.)

So, given my niche subject, I bypassed MSM, opting instead for a 4-step Internet-based approach:

1) IDENTIFY TARGET AUDIENCES. For TWFW, that meant writers, at-home Moms, home-based business-seekers, 55+ (the latter three because of the flexible, lucrative, home-based nature of the biz), and others.

2) DETERMINE WHERE AUDIENCES GATHER. Hundreds of web sites cater to those groups, and because of their niche focus, my pitch would resonate FAR more effectively with them than it would with MSM. Logical. And remember: niche sites like these are always looking for content relevant to their members, to ensure that they stick around.

3) CONTACT SITES. I emailed those sites, explaining who I was, why my book would appeal to their audience, and offered a review copy – with an eye toward landing book reviews, interviews, promo blurbs, green lights to write articles or be a guest blogger (like this!), etc.

4) TAKE MASSIVE ACTION. A few dozen review copies won’t build a full-time income. Think hundreds. Get that many copies of a GOOD book circulating, and you’ll reap magical word-of-mouth advertising – the gift that keeps on giving. To date, I’ve sent out 400+ review copies of TWFW. I can hear you groaning, but remember, that’s over time, AND you’ve got a secret weapon…

INTERNS: I used interns – at about $9 an hour – to build my review copy list for books #2 (TWFW: Back For Seconds) and #3, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher (TWFSP). In both cases, we started from an existing review copy list, building on it by brainstorming other avenues. I set her up with several standard cut-’n-paste email pitches (one for folks on the existing list and a second for new additions).

For each book, over the course of a summer, she built a list of 150 firm Yes’s (i.e., “Yes, we’d love to get a copy of Peter’s upcoming book”), agreeing to promote the book in any number of ways. Along the way, I’d always pick up a handful of invites to speak at this or that conference (paying expenses and speaking fee).

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

Don’t put publishers on a pedestal, as being so much smarter than you, and don’t look at them as the Holy Grail. Self-publishing isn’t easy, but thanks to the Internet and with a bit of creative thinking, it’s more feasible than it’s ever been before. Good luck!

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

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: www.wellfedsp.com

The Well-Fed Writer titles (on lucrative “commercial” freelancing): www.wellfedwriter.com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: THE MEMORY OF WATER'S KAREN WHITE

After playing hooky from school one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, she grew up to pursue a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University.

"I have always been a voracious reader and was encouraged by my teachers to write ever since elementary school," she says. "Writing a book was always in the back of my mind, but definitely something I'd "do later when I have time.

One day in 1996 when my children were just babies, I decided it was time and started writing my first book. When I had a few chapters written, I sent it in to a writer's contest and by some miracle it won. The finalist judge was a New York literary agent and she offered to represent me. That first book, In the Shadow of the Moon, was sold and then published in 2000. It was a double finalist in Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award.

I have since published seven award-winning novels, and three more books are scheduled: The Memory of Water (March 2008), The House on Tradd Street (November 2008) and a third as yet untitled book set in Savannah, Georgia will be out in May 2009.

While growing up, I lived in London, England and am a graduate of the American School in London. I currently live in sunny Georgia with my husband and two children. When not writing, I spend my time reading, singing, scrapbooking, carpooling children and avoiding cooking."

You can visit Karen's website at www.karen-white.com.

About the Book:

On the night their mother drowns trying to ride out a storm in a sailboat, sisters Marnie and Diana Maitland discover there is more than one kind of death. There is the death of innocence, of love, and of hope. Each sister harbors a secret about what really happened that night—secrets that will erode their lives as they grow into adulthood.

After ten years of silence between the sisters, Marnie is called back to the South Carolina Lowcountry by Diana’s ex-husband, Quinn. His son has returned from a sailing trip with his emotionally unstable mother, and he is deeply disturbed and refusing to speak. In order to help the traumatized boy, Marnie must reopen old wounds and bring the darkest memories of their past to the surface. While resisting her growing attraction to Quinn, she must also confront Diana, before they all go under…

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

Thanks for having me! I started writing my first novel sometime in 1996. I sold it in 1998 and it was published in 2000. Since then, I've written 10 more books, all but one published or contracted to be published. It's been a very busy nine years!

People always ask me if I was an English major in college and I have to tell them that I was actually a business major. Since elementary school, my teachers have told me that I should be a writer, I just never really thought I could actually write a book. It wasn't until I was a stay-at-home mom with two little children that I sat down at my computer one day to see if maybe I could. That turned out to be my first book.

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

My book, The Memory of Water, is a book about two sister, Diana and Marnie Maitland, who have been raised by a mother with bipolar Disorder. This creates a close bond between the sisters until the night thier mother takes them out on a sailboat during a storm and the mother drowns. but each sister harbors a secret about that night, secrets that tear the sisters apart. the book opens 10 years after the accident when the estranged sisters are reluctantly reunited when Diana's ex-husband, Quinn asks Marnie to return to help him with his9-year-old son, Gil, who was in a sailing accident with his mother but is now refusing to speak. In order to help the traumatized boy, Marnie must reopen old wounds adn bring the darkest memories of their past to the surface. And she must confront Diana, before they all go under.

I got the idea for this story several years ago when I read an article in a woman's magazine written by two adult sisters who'd been raised by a bipolar mother. When they were as young as 6 and 8, they had to get themselves up, dressed and fed and make their own way to school. It was as if their mother's illness had made her abdicate her responsibilities and as a mother of two myself, this story haunted me. I wanted to explore the far-reaching consequences on a family marked with mental illness, and the bonds it can either create or destroy.

What kind of research was involved in writing THE MEMORY OF WATER?

The book is set in the town of McClellanville, South Carolina so one of the first things I did was to do a lot of reading about the area and then make a trip to go visit the town (not much of a hardship—it’s absolutely beautiful!) to be better able to recreate the world my characters live in. I wanted to know what streets they’d walk down and at what restaurants they would eat.

The biggest thing I did for researching this book is taking sailing lessons. Before writing the book I’d never even been near a sailboat and was deathly afraid of deep water. But I also knew that I could never realistically write about sailing if I’d never experienced it myself. So I took a few sailing lessons and learned a few basics—not enough to call myself a sailor but at least enough to understand the passion a true sailor feels when she tricks the wind into moving her boat.

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

My editor always calls me to let me know when she’s going into a cover conference and asks for my input. I know that they pay a lot of attention to the book itself and the setting and they certainly take into account my thoughts. But I always take a back seat to their creative and marketing genius because they usually do a superb job with my covers—and sometimes even utilize one of my suggestions.

Personally, I think the cover for The Memory of Water is one of the most beautiful covers to have ever graced the front of a book!

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

It started out quite smoothly. I entered my first book into a writing contest, it won and the finalists were judged by top literary agents in New York. The agent who judged my category offered to represent me and sold my book to the second publisher she sent it to.

My first four books were published by two smaller New York publishers and although I was on that ladder of published bliss, I stayed on the bottom rung. And then I was thrown off the ladder entirely when my second publisher dropped me and didn’t renew my contract.

Devastated (and too stubborn to quit), I kept writing. The book I wrote during the one year hiatus from publishing, was The Color of Light. It did sell and was the first book published by my current publisher, Penguin Publishing Group.

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

Since The Memory of Water was the second book in a two book contract, there was a little more time than usual between contract and release. I do know that I spent about 9 months writing it and that I turned it on May 1st, 2007 and it was published on March 4, 2008. The contract for The Memory of Water and the first book, Learning to Breathe, was signed sometime in 1997.

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?

I’ve had the same agent since my first book. I work with Karen Solem, a former editor who was originally with Writers House and is now with her own agency, Spencerhill Associates.

For fiction, I can’t imagine not working with an agent and can say without a doubt that I don’t think I ever would have sold without one. Most (if not all) of the large publishing houses will not even look at non-agented submissions. In addition to that, I simply don’t have the time or know-how to contact editors and negotiate contracts.

Do you plan subsequent books?

My next book, The House on Tradd Street will be out in November 2008 and I’ve got another book (which I’m writing now) out in May 2009 and the sequel to The House on Tradd Street will be out in the fall of 2009. And I just signed another two book contract so that should take me through 2010.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

That depends on how close I am to deadline. In the best of worlds, I’m a morning writer. My head is clear and I can get so much written. But, as the mother of two, I find that I have to pack my laptop wherever I go (carpool line, orthodontist’s office, horse barn) and write whenever I find the time. Most of The Memory of Water was written in my Volvo!

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

I’d hire Oprah! (You did say money wasn’t an object, right?) I mean, seriously, is there ANY other promotional tool that we know of as writers that is guaranteed as much as nod fro Oprah? I think not.

I have hired a publicist and she’s wonderful at taking care of the promotional things that I simply don’t have time for. The key to promoting your book is to write the best book possible. A fabulous cover doesn’t hurt, either.

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

As I mentioned above, I have somebody else do most of my promotion for me. There is no “definite” out there (except for Oprah) that will get your book into the hands of millions.

My publicist has focused on print, TV and radio media in the Southeast in addition to direct promotion to independent booksellers in the region. I found this focused effort to be the most productive so far.

Online, I’m participating in the “Pump Up Your Book Promotion” virtual book tour which will hopefully put my book all over the ‘net. I also have a website. I’ve held off with a blog and MySpace because of time issues. Again, I repeat, the best thing I can do for promotion is write the best book that I can. That should always be a writer’s focus.

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

Don’t give up! The most successful writers always seems to be the ones left standing. It’s like the stock market—lots of ups and downs. Hang on when you’re in the ‘down’ mode—there will be an upturn eventually. Just keep writing.

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

Thanks for having me. You can find out all about me and my books on my website at www.karen-white.com. My books are available everywhere—at online retailers as well as at a bookstore near you. Target has me on their ‘bestseller’ shelf right now so it would be hard to miss!

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: THE WELL-FED SELF-PUBLISHER by Peter Bowerman

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
by Peter Bowerman
Nonfiction
Fanove Publishing

Landing a publisher has never been harder. Even when you do, count on anemic royalty rates, 18 to 24 months to publication, and giving up the rights to your book. And you’ll still be expected to do most of the marketing yourself! There’s a better way. Thanks to the Internet, self-publishing has become easier, more viable, and more potentially lucrative than ever before.

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher is a step-by-step how-to guide to help authors successfully and profitably self-publish their titles. It is based directly on the successful self-publishing of my first two books (currently 52,000 copies in print). The subtitle of the book is not hype: my first book earned me a full-time living for over four years, and both books together, six-plus.

“Self-publishing” still carries a stigma, and sadly, in most cases, it’s earned and deserved. I’ve been successful largely because of my commitment to creating a superior product, both in form and content – all the “how-to” details of which I share in this book. With TWFSP, I help to raise the bar on self-publishing so that thousands of self-publishing authors don’t keep needlessly sabotaging themselves.

Comprehensive Scope

Far more than just a book about the self-publishing process, TWFSP also features an entire chapter (Two) on developing the crucial “marketing mindset” most creative types lack, plus chapters on virtually every aspect of book marketing and promotion, plus distribution, POD, and five appendices (including extensive resources, timeline, foreign rights, and more). Visit “Why This Book?” (page xix) to learn why this book stands out in its field, though, in a nutshell, there are five keys:

· Sales and Marketing Discussion (for non-salesy “Creatives”)

· A Radically Different Approach to Marketing (Internet, not media)

· Focus on Process and Profit (most books focus only on the first)

· Personal, Engaging Writing Style (making learning a blast!)

· One Big “Real-World” Case Study (totally non-theoretical)

About the Author:

Peter Bowerman, a veteran commercial freelancer and business coach, is the author of the 2000 award-winning Book-of-the-Month Club selection, The Well-Fed Writer, and its 2005 companion volume, TWFW: Back For Seconds (both self-published; www.wellfedwriter.com). His books have become how-to “standards” on starting a lucrative commercial freelancing business – writing for businesses, large and small, and for rates of $50-125+ an hour. He chronicled his self-publishing success (52,000 copies of his first two books in print and a full-time living for over five years) in his third book, the award-winning 2007 release, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. www.wellfedsp.com.

Stay tuned for his exclusive interview on Monday!

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Peter's book, THE WELL-FED SELF-PUBLISHER, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Peter's blog tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Multicultural Romance Author Victoria Wells

Victoria Wells is a Philadelphia native. She has been an avid reader since childhood. Wells’ interest in writing took root while taking a creative writing course in college. Her most memorable assignment was the rewriting of the last chapter of The Color Purple. Though she did very well in this course it would be years before she would pen a novel.

Professionally, Wells earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Nursing from La Salle University. Over her seventeen-year career as a nurse, Wells has written, lectured, and presented at national conferences extensively on sickle cell disease. Her dedication to caring for patients with this disease earned her the Regional and National 2005 Nursing Spectrum’s Nurse of the Year Nursing Excellence Award in Clinical Care. Wells’ dedication to the nursing profession and work in the African American community organizing and running a free Hypertension Clinic at her church in 2006 earned her the Movers and Shakers Award and a Citation from the City Council of Philadelphia.

Using writing as a tool to escape the hassles of everyday life, Wells decided to pen a novel. In November 2006 self-published debut romance novel, A Special Summer was released. After receiving positive feedback Wells decided to submit her manuscript for traditional publishing. In August 2007, Xpress Yourself Publishing made an offer to re-release A Special Summer, March 4, 2008.

Wells works as an adult nurse practitioner. She is married and the proud mom of three children. You can visit her website at www.victoria-wells.com.

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

I’ve been married for almost twenty-two years. I’m the mother of three sometimes wonderful, sometimes devilish children. I’ve been a nurse for seventeen years, seven of which I’ve practice as an adult nurse practitioner. And now I’m a romance author. Professionally I’ve been writing for over 14 years on health issues.

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

A Special Summer is truly a story of redemption and forgiveness. It’s about a young woman (Summer) who’s experiencing her first encounter of being in love with an older man (Nick). Because of demons and unresolved family issues from Nick’s past life, Summer is literally flung into a world of pandemonium when he believes she betrayed him in the worst way. When he finally sees things as they really are, Nick is in jeopardy of losing the only woman that ever truly loved him unconditionally.

I wrote my story because I wanted to show that as humans we all have flaws no matter how good we may look on the outside, how well educated we are or how much money we may have. Readers will get a glimpse of a hero that is hurled into a world of uncertainties and doubts, as the heroine is the object of his insecurities. Oftentimes the hero isn’t portrayed as having to show just how vulnerable and jaded love has made him. It’s always usually the heroine having to deal with trust issues because of a past-failed relationship.

What kind of research was involved in writing “A Special Summer”?

When I decided I wanted to write a romance novel I knew I would have to research and understand the “rules” of romance. This was necessary if I wanted my story to be a true romance.

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

I was fortunate that my publisher gave me a choice when it came to selecting the design for my book cover.

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

Again, fortunately for me it’s been smooth sailing. That’s not to say I haven’t had to work really hard with my present publisher.

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

It took seven months before my title was released.

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 have an agent as of yet. Most definitely an agent will be necessary if I decide I want to shop my manuscripts around to other publishing houses. However, at the time I’m very happy with the relationship I have with my current publisher.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, presently I’m working on my second novel.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

For the most part I’m a night writer. However, I’m finding now that I’m working on another project I have to write whenever I can.

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

I would do massive online promotion and a cross country book tour. I love doing book signings and meeting readers.

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

Self promoting is essential! I feel that it’s the lifeline to my story. I’ve done radio interviews, a blog interview and I was a guest blogger for a week on a popular blog site. Theirs a pod-cast of my book, featured debut author on an online magazine, and advertisements on other sites geared towards readers. As far as offline, I’ve contacted numerous book stores and set up book signings, guest author at a few local book clubs and I have family and friends host book parties for me.

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

I would say research the industry. If at all possible take a creative writing course. During college I took a few course and I can’t tell how instrumental doing so when I finally got around to writing my book. I would also suggest joining an online group for aspiring writers.

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Victoria's book, A SPECIAL SUMMER, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Victoria's blog tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: A SPECIAL SUMMER by Victoria Wells


A Special Summer
by Victoria Wells
Multicultural Romance
Xpress Yourself Publishing

In love with the man of her dreams, Summer Jackson is living her life in sheer bliss…so she thought. Devastation rocks her world when handsome Nick Stiles walks out on her, leaving her to pick up the shattered pieces.

As days, weeks, and months fade into the future, Summer is forced to push thoughts of loving Nick far from her heart and her mind. Thoughts that may possibly threaten to expose the secret she’s hiding.

Out of the blue Nick resurfaces with intentions of reclaiming Summer as his woman. That is…until he is confronted with a betrayal that is so insurmountable he finds himself in a blind rage, hell-bent on revenge.

Will Summer’s need to protect her secret destroy any hope she has of being in the arms of the only man she’s ever loved? Is Nick willing to forgive Summer for her acts of betrayal and deceit? Will this once passion filled love survive such treachery?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Victoria Wells is a Philadelphia native. She has been an avid reader since childhood. Wells’ interest in writing took root while taking a creative writing course in college. Her most memorable assignment was the rewriting of the last chapter of The Color Purple. Though she did very well in this course it would be years before she would pen a novel.

Professionally, Wells (Gaye Riddick-Burden) earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Nursing from
La Salle University. Over her seventeen-year career as a nurse, Wells (Riddick-Burden) has written, lectured, and presented at national conferences extensively on sickle cell disease. Her dedication to caring for patients with this disease earned her the Regional and National 2005 Nursing Spectrum’s Nurse of the Year Nursing Excellence Award in Clinical Care. Nursing Spectrum wrote, “Riddick-Burden is a strong advocate for patients with sickle cell disease. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the outpatient Sickle Cell Day Treatment Unit for these often underserved patients. The program is driven by Riddick-Burden’s desire to provide timely and effective care to patients with sickle cell crisis ― decreasing long waits in the ED and avoiding inpatient stays that separates patients from their families.”

Wells’ dedication to the nursing profession and work in the African American community organizing and running a free Hypertension Clinic at her church,
Refuge Evangelical Baptist Church earned her another award. On March 19, 2006, Wells was awarded the Movers and Shakers Award presented by the American Women’s Heritage Society, National Association of University Women, National Association of Phi Delta Kappa, Top Ladies of Distinction and Two Thousand African American Women. At this ceremony, the City Council of Philadelphia also presented her with a Citation.

Using writing as a tool to escape the hassles and worries of everyday life, Wells decided to pen a novel. In November 2006 she released her self-published debut romance novel, A Special Summer. After receiving positive feedback and b
elieving her story portrayed strong, intelligent, self-sufficient African American characters dealing with and working through relationship issues, Wells decided to submit her manuscript for traditional publishing. In August 2007, Xpress Yourself Publishing made an offer to re-release A Special Summer, March 4, 2008.

Wells works as an adult nurse practitioner. She is married and the proud mom of three children.
You can visit Victoria's website at www.victoria-wells.com or her blog at www.blog.victoria-wells.com.

Stay tuned for Victoria's exclusive interview tomorrow!

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Victoria's book, A SPECIAL SUMMER, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Victoria's blog tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

Monday, June 23, 2008

If You Love the Show "Army Wives" or You're an Army Brat...

Join us today at the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Social Network's Author Day when women's fiction author Phyllis Zimbler Miller visits us to talk about her book, MRS: LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL!

Not only will she be with us to answer questions throughout the day, she will also be giving away a copy of her book! If you're an army brat or love the show "Army Wives," you'll love Phyllis Zimbler Miller and her new book, MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.

See you there!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview with Literary Fiction Author Linda Merlino

Life is our daily teacher. One lesson begets another and then another.

Once-upon-a-time life kicked me off my writer's path and led me to pursue a more practical profession. My childhood dream of becoming a journalist was silenced.

Years later, I became a single parent, not by choice but by necessity, and my most trustworthy partner became a ballpoint. The fiction in my head turned into words on yellow legal pad. I wrote anywhere, any time, on my dining room table, and on my lunch hour. No place was my sacred space. I wrote in my car during soccer practices, under an umbrella on rain drenched sid
elines, in fast food restaurants and in chain hotels. I wrote during championship after championship in cities and states, from Jersey to Phoenix.

The quieted yearning to be a writer reawakened onto the pages of a novel. My first was self-published after five years of juggling work, kids and day-to-day. A flawed but beautiful story emerged onto paper and "Swan Boat Souvenir" enjoyed local acclaim and success.

I knew there was more to do, more to write and that the next book would be published traditionally, that the next manuscript would have the benefit of an editor and the advice of professionals. After months of writing, Belly of the Whale went from paper, to computer, to draft after draft and finally into the arms of Kunati Publishers.

My children are grown. My passion to write remains a constant. Each book I complete is dedicated to the magic of believing in my dream, to my son and to my daughters.

You can visit Linda's website at www.lindamerlino.com.

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

My Bio page describes me as a writer and a lined paper junkie. This means I write no matter where I am. When raising my kids I spent an enormous amount of time in the car, driving and waiting. I am a person who gets bored easily so I always had pens and legal pad with me. An idea became a page and then ten and then a hundred and so on. Belly of the Whale began in long hand. This habit of writing reaches back into my childhood. I honestly can’t remember not writing. Although I pursued a different path for a time, writing has always been my first love. I guess you could tag me persistent in believing, blessed to have come so far in my life and to finally be able to say: I am author.

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

Belly of the Whale is the story of a young woman, wife and mother with breast cancer. Twenty-four hours in her life, the day she gives up hope of surviving and the day she is taken hostage in an all-night market by a killer more deadly than her disease. Why did I write the story? Because I had to, that’s the only answer I can give. As a writer you are propelled by unseen hands that guide you and push you along when you are discouraged. The story is not autobiographical, not in the sense of my having cancer, but in other ways that life has taken me into its dark places.

What kind of research was involved in writing “Belly of the Whale”?

I spent the first year (of three) thinking about the story and doing research. My ideas were fragments that had to be pulled together. If I was going to write about a woman with breast cancer I had to have my facts correct. Since the story is so emotional I wanted to know more about the disease not only medically but from the prospective of the person and her family. I gathered articles and clippings, talked to cancer survivors their families and doctors and spent days churning all the talk and information over and over in my head. The results are what make up the heartbeat of Belly of the Whale.

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

As a debut novelist you have very little input. Kam Wai Yu of Kunati, Inc. is the genius behind my cover and my book trailer. He is all about titillating the senses and his cover stands out on the bookshelf next to the less compelling covers.

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

Bumpy ride, yes…thank heaven for seat belts. I did my share of querying and my share of pounding the pillow at night. Life got in my way and forced me to stop what I was doing…tested me in so many ways, as if to say “Do you really want this?” I did. I got back on the roller coaster, strapped myself in and after three months a portal opened in the universe and everything came together.

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

On December 18, 2006 I received the proposal from Kunati to sign Belly of the Whale for a spring 2008 release. I used an agent to negotiate the terms of the contract and signed in May of 2007. The book went through the editing process in the summer of 2007 and was released in hardcover by Kunati, Inc. on April 1, 2008. For reader information I would like to add that my publisher, Kunati, Inc, was just honored by Foreward Magazine as the Best Independent Publisher of 2007. You can’t get better than that.

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?

I do feel that the services of an agent are very important. My manuscript was in the hands of a Connecticut agent at the time Kunati made its offer. Talcott Notch Literary Services negotiated my contract with Kunati, and were extremely helpful in so many other ways. Having an agent is an absolute.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I am at the tail end of year one of what I deem my three year process…My next project is finally coming together. I have been blessed (again) to meet an individual who has given me extensive information and the inspiration to follow through on my next book.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Morning. Birds tweeting, sun coming up the whole early-early routine, that’s when I do my best writing.

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

Money, did you say money? A publicist, a well known-been-there-done-that kind of publicist that would knock down those dead bolted doors to television, radio, Oprah, the New York Times, and the like.

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

Self-promotion is essential. At the end of the day you can grow weary from talking about yourself. The mouth gets dry and you feel like you are selling cars and not books, but you go out there with bookmarks and promo material and a smile and a ready hand-shake because you believe in yourself. No one else can do that effectively but you.

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

Being published is an incredible achievement. You have been recognized by other people that are not related to you. Someone, in my case Kunati, Inc, has deemed you worthy of investing time and money.

With this feather in my cap and just out of the gate I feel the need to play-it-forward. If you want to be published do not give up…ever. Just because one person says no, doesn’t mean another won’t embrace your words with a big, yes. Hold on to hope, believe in yourself, and keep writing…

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

Belly of the Whale is available at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Independent bookstores and on Amazon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Debbie Williamson, author of STAND

Born in Salt Lake City, Debbie Williamson grew up in Southern California and now lives in Utah with her family and four miniature schnauzers. She and her husband are the parents of 9 children and 11 grandchildren. Family is her number one priority and when not working with university and church groups, she can be found golfing and sailing with her children and husband, Gary.

You can visit her blog at www.myspace.com/williamsondebbie/.

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

I have writing most of my life, mostly poetry when I was a child. I started keeping my writings in journals at the age of seven. I have written children’s stories for about twelve years and started “Stand” nine years ago.

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

When I started writing this book it was intended to be more of a journal to make sure my children understood the family history and who I was. I wanted them to know because I have always believed that the truth can heal you.

Putting my life in print for the world to read came after three years of journaling my experiences into pages that were meant to be for my children.

When I made the decision to publish it I had reached the four year mark journaling. It was after relentless visions and one very special message from my grandmother during an illness that I made my decision to write a book and leave my mark on this world. I struggled with the question: why would anyone care about my life and my experiences? I also struggled with knowing on some level my family was not going to be thrilled for the world to have an insight into their personal life.

I had a belief and a message from the other side that my story might not only help my children but maybe it could help other people lost in their own pain. I thought if I could get people to understand that you can heal from abuse instead of being a survivor that it would change the fight against abuse. I have always known it starts with yourself and healing you first is the only way you can protect it from spreading to your children. I stayed focused on this belief. It was something I knew I had to do.

I also was not overjoyed with walking through my past once again, to relive moments that will always be very painful let alone try to put them on paper. The beautiful part about healing is that every time you walk through your past and the pain it gets easier and the healing grows.

One of the more difficult parts of sharing my personal life was that it was not just my life I was sharing. It was also my children’s lives and their father’s life as well. I had been through so much with my children that I often wondered if sharing my life and my feelings about their father would destroy the love they had for me. I could not bear to think about life without them so I stayed focused on the message and trusted that they would understand why I had to write my story. The message I had to bring was bigger than me and my fears.

The most difficult part of the journey was struggling with my mother’s fears of shame and disgrace. She had never come to terms with her life and was in no way ready to share it with the world. It took a lot of explaining to get her to understand that I had good reasons to write the book and I had to make my mark on this world in the fight against abuse. She fought abuse in her way and this was mine. My mother’s change of heart came when I told her grandma had come to see me. She said she had been waiting for her mother to send a message letting her know she was ok. She agreed to do the book with me and offered her journals for her family’s history and hers. When I was to the point of adding mom’s story to the book she passed away and all I had were her writings and things she had shared with me in counseling. It took me months to read through her journals and I almost gave up during the research process on my family’s history, it was not an easy task and the emotional part of it was almost overwhelming.

Mom’s passing was so very difficult for me; I had wanted her to heal her broken heart before she left this world but it wasn’t meant to be. The last time I spoke with her she made me promise that I would not give up that I would finish the book and share our story with the world. She said she had prayed about my reasons for wanting to write the book and the answers she received were the same as mine: just do it. Not having her there by my side made it even more challenging; I questioned my motives and everything that I believed from that moment on. I kept my focus close to my heart right along with the promise I made to my mother and somehow I finished.

I have never felt such a strong presence from the other side as I did in the last five months of writing. I knew that my grandmother and my father were with me the entire time. I hired a ghostwriter to help me interview my aunt for the information on my grandfather. She told me several times during the interview process that my father’s presence was so powerful she was having a difficult time concentrating. I was taken aback for a moment when she described his looks to me; she had never seen a picture of my dad, but her description was right on. It was comforting to know that she was a witness to my miracle.

The first time I held an actual printed copy of my book was very emotional. I sat in my office for hours and cried. I felt like I did after the life training program I had gone through, only it was much more powerful. I knew that somehow I would leave a mark on my generation that would be felt generations after I am gone. I knew that my message would be heard. I had followed the burning desire in my heart to make a difference and change the future for my children with the hopes of changing the future of someone else’s children as well.

I am grateful that I stayed on course and kept my focus.

I believe with all my heart that my message will find its own path. Sharing my life was the only way I could use the wrong that had been done in a positive way. My life has been a series of miracles, its how I chose to use these miracles that matters.

I was told when my journey to heal started that forgiveness would heal my life and along with it my family. I had never understood forgiveness until I found the courage in me to try it.

Forgiveness is not about your abuser. It is about you giving the pain that owns you back to the person who hurt you.

What kind of research was involved in writing “STAND”?

The research for “Stand” included counseling sessions with my mother, recorded interviews with my aunt who is my mother’s older sister, and months of reading through journals of family history and my mother’s personal journals as well.

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

I had signed on with The Cadence Group to get my book in the market place which left me in control of my book. So the cover design was series of brain storming with Amy Collins from Cadence, Gwen Snider who is the artist and I. The cover photo is a picture of me at the age of nine and after trying several other ideas this one just seemed to work the best. The look and the back cover was the work of Amy and Gwen together.

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

Well my answer would be it was and still is a bumpy ride, but what I have heard is the book has made incredible timing getting out and into book store.

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

I signed on with The Cadence Group in late November 2007, the book was published in January 2008 and placed on Amazon immediately. It was then submitted to Baker Taylor, Barnes & Noble and Borders and accepted into Baker Taylor in February 2008 and Barnes & Noble and Borders in March of 2008.

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 do not have an agent. I have considered this but need more information on what having an agent can do for my writing and getting published. I am exploring this option and wonder if this is a better way to go.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I am working on two more at the moment and I have a children’s book series very close to being ready to submit.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Whenever inspiration hits is when I write; for the most part it is in the late night hours when life settles to a quiet roar. If ideas stir during the day I take notes so I don’t lose the inspiration and elaborate on them later in the night.

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

I would hire an agent, and try to get accepted by a publisher. For this book I would have still chosen to work with The Cadence Group. Amy Collins is very knowledgeable in the book industry, and I don’t believe that this particular book would have made it onto book store shelves without her. Money well spent, signing on with The Cadence Group.

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

I think self promotion is a must for promoting your book. You need to be out there so people can see you and know you. I spend my day’s blogging on web sites for the abused, answering questions when I can and trying to help. I also write my own blogs on the internet and visit shelters in my area speaking to people there. I visit church groups and talk with foster kids when I am asked to.

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

Never give up, if you are told no keep going. Writing is a passion so don’t let go of your dreams to being an author. It is hard when you get that discouraging no they aren’t interested and the book world can be mean so you have to keep going. Do your best not to take it personal even though it is personal.

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

Stand is in Barnes & Noble, Borders and on Amazon.com it is also on several internet book stores.

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Debbie Williamson's book, STAND, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on our authors’ blog stops. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Debbie's virtual book tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , ,