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Results 26 - 50 of 1,078
26. Interview with Author Alexander Tomov

It’s Author Thursday and I’d like to welcome you to my blog today.Alex Tomov We have a gentleman from Bulgaria who was introduced to me by former AIT special guest Stuart Land. His primary language is Bulgarian and he employs the services of a translator to make his books accessible to an English speaking audience. I love the fact that he has not allowed this to hinder him and he reaches out to fellow authors and readers outside the four walls of his country. He also produces book trailers and an all-round nice guy. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Alex Tomov.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and that first moment when you knew you could write? 

I write post – apocalyptic, alternative, speculative fiction and absurdity fiction. I also write short stories. I wrote my first book when I was 16 or 17. It was a poetry book, inspired from my literary education. My parents are writers too. And my first book with short stories was “Future Gone”, written when I was 21/22 years old.


What can a reader expect when they pick up an Alexander Tomov book? 

The reader can see in my work many different realities and strange and absurd viewpoints about human nature, mind and imagination, strange visions from future and deep journey into the subconscious. Also in some of my stories, there are grotesque themes about society and politic. So in my work there is no strict logic. I write by intuition.


You’ve written several books that some would classify as science fiction with strong psychological themes present in all of them. What is your major inspiration for writing books in this genre? 

My strange visions from the future and my deep fascination about human existence. Also my desire to change the face of world literature with my stories.


You’re a native of Bulgaria with English as a second language. Can you tell us some of the unique challenges of translating your books from Bulgarian to English and how you attempt to overcome them? Book Cover

Unfortunately my English is not good enough to speak about this in detail, but my new translator Ekaterina Petrova is really good and I think that my ideas in my work can be expressed very well in the English language.


 You’re a film director and I’ve seen some of the book trailers you’ve done. Can you let us know the key ingredients of a good book trailer? 

I create book trailers for other writers. Most part of the book trailer creation process is technical, but some creativity is also required to make it good too. This is no problem for me, because I’m a writer and film director and have many ideas about many kinds of book trailers in all genres. I have already made 8 book trailers for other writers, outside my country, created only by text description from the author via emails. You can see all videos and some more information, about my book trailers creating services in link below:



What have you found to be a successful way to market your books? 

I haven’t found a way at this time. I’m self – published author from small country – Bulgaria, work alone and search realisation abroad. In this aspect, promotion of my books is really hard and difficult. But I don’t give up and don’t stop trying to realise my dreams and to show the world my ideas.


What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

I can write a book about this question. There are too many short pieces from books, stories, and movies in my mind, which I use for ideas and inspiration. But also I would say that some modern and classic authors inspire my writing, too – writers like Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Stephen King, Jorge Luis Borges, and Chekhov. However, someone who always amazes me is Antoine de Saint – Exupéry with “The Little Prince”. Simply written book in which is the whole world.


What is your definition of success as an author? 

Author who can express original ideas in a very accessible way for the reader.


What is your favourite science fiction movie and why? 

There are too many. I like science fiction movies with philosophical point like “Equilibrium”, “1984″ and “Artificial Intelligence: AI”.


What three things should a first time visitor to Bulgaria do? Alexander Tomov

To visit Bulgarian mountains. The nature in Bulgaria is very beautiful. To visit the Bulgarian attractions and try Bulgarian cuisine.


What can we expect from Alexander Tomov in the next 12 months? 

My new book is ready in Bulgarian and is in undergoing translation into English. The title is “Beyond the Absurd“. I have already 10 translated short stories from “Beyond the Absurd” and I’ve given the stories for reviews. For everyone, who is interested about deep soul horizons and grotesque abyss of Absurd, You can download free e-book from here:

LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/ebooks/download/18690888-beyond-the-absurd

“Beyond the Absurd” in goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18690888-beyond-the-absurd


Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? 

About  the industry, sometimes it is really hard, but the industry in not absolute criteria for true literature. Unfortunately this area is often greedy and too materialistic. About new authors, my advice is to stand against their fears and try to transform everything in their minds into literature.


Thanks for being with us today Alex. I love the fact that you’re striving to share your stories with an international audience. I agree with you that we have to overcome the fears that stop us sometimes from sharing the stories that burn within our souls and just write. Alex and I would love to hear your comments and questions, so please drop a line or two below. You can check out Alex’s books at the link below.

Alex Tomov Books on Amazon

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27. Study Guide – Darlene Beck-Jacobson



  1. Change is the overriding theme of this novel. Discuss good vs. bad change and how the characters accepted or rejected change. CCSS RL 4.9
  2. How did Emily’s ideas about change evolve throughout the story? CCSS RL 3.3
  3. What does the horseshoe symbolize? Do you think it really had power? Explain. CCSS RL 5.4
  4. Do you think Beatrice’s personality and behavior are her own or as result of trying to please her mother? CCSS RL 3.3
  5. What characteristics made Charlie a good friend for Emily? Vice versa. CCSS RL 3.3
  6. What do you think of Emily’s reaction to Mrs. Peabody’s comments at the tea? Was Emily justified in dumping tea in Mrs. Peabody’s lap?   Explain why or why not. What would you have done? CCSS RL 4.3
  7. 1908-09 was a time in history when segregation was common. Do you think Mr. Soper was courageous in employing an African-American? Explain. CCSS RL 3.3
  8. Was life easier or harder in 1909? What did you like about the time period?
  9. The roles of males and females were more sharply divided in the early 20th Century. Do you think Emily’s resistance to learning proper lady-like behavior was typical for girls her age? Why or why not? CCSS RL 4.3
  10. How did Emily’s relationship with Mama change? CCSS RL 5.2
  11. The story takes place when there were fewer luxuries in everyday life – especially regarding entertainment. What would you do if you had no radio, television, telephone, electricity or car, like most of the people in the story? CCSS RL 4.9
  12. Learning skills and being self-sufficient was important during this time in history. Why? Do you think these values are still important today? Explain.
  13. Emily and Charlie were expected to help the family by doing daily chores. If they weren’t completed, the household and family suffered. Does your family depend on you to do certain jobs? What would happen if you didn’t do them? CCSS RL 4.9
  14. What did Emily expect President Roosevelt to do for Papa? CCSS RL 4.3
  15. What did you think of Emily’s suggestions for changing Papa’s business? What might you have done to help? CCSS RL 4.9
  16. Do you think it was foolish or brave of Emily to stay in the barn during the fire? What would you have done? CCSS RL 3.3
  17. There were limited opportunities for women at the turn of the 20th Century. Single women who were not from wealthy families could teach, work long hours in a factory under awful conditions, or work as maids, governesses, or servants to wealthy families. Once married, they were expected to stay home and care for their husband and children. Do the opportunities enjoyed by women today make their lives easier or more difficult? Explain. CCSS RL 4.9
  18. When Mama first meets Mrs. Jackson, they seem ill as ease with one another. Why? CCSS RL 5.2
  19. Do you think it was unusual for Emily’s best friend to be a boy? Why or why not?
  20. If the story took place today, do you think it would be easy for a girl to become a blacksmith? Explain.

Hope this gives you some ideas of how proceed when you publish your book.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: demystify, How to, inspiration, marketing, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Study Guide, Study Guide Example, Wheels of Change

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28. Selling Your Book at Events

Things to do before and at events to sell more books.


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29. Blog Tour Tips

How to arrange and conduct your blog tour. 


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30. TV Interviews

What you might want to know before you go on the air. 


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31. Encouraging words for Indie authors

Sucker Punch coverI’m an Indie author (the evolving preferred label for self-published authors) and I edit and design books for Indie authors. In this article by Lorraine Devon Wilke on Huffpost, “Is Self-Publishing Killing Books? My Journey With After the Sucker Punch Answers the Question.” BTW, nice cover design—clarity and mystery.

Lorraine has good words for we Indies. For example, these:

“. . . there is no shortage of talent out there in the great, undiscovered public.”

While she admits to there being no scarcity of self-pubbed books that fall far short of professional in cover design and narrative quality, she points out the good flip side:

“. . . not only do I believe self-publishing isn't killing books, I believe it's actually enlivened the marketplace, bringing a fresh, less structured, less filtered, more open life to the entire literary industry. And how has it done that?”

The answer involves gatekeepers, a parallel that she makes with the music industry. Worth a read.

Magic Amazon book ad150WMeanwhile, there’s a shortage of submissions to the Flogometer, so send yours in for a free critique and insights from readers.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey

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32. The One Person Who Rejects You More Than Editors Do

By Linda Formichelli

This is a reprint of this week’s Monday Motivation for Writers email. If you’d like goodies like this to land in your in-box weekly, sign up for my mailing list!

I’ve had many mentoring and Write for Magazines clients who say, “I didn’t send my idea to X magazine because I don’t think I have enough relevant experience” or “I was sure if my idea was exactly right for this website so I didn’t send it.”

Now, of course you want to send relevant ideas to magazines that need them. But you are not the expert in what the magazine needs — the editor is.

What you’re doing when you don’t send a pitch you wrote is you’re pre-rejecting yourself. You’re saying No to yourself!

Give the editor a chance to say yes or no. You risk more rejection when you put your ideas out there, true — but you also increase your chances at acceptance by an infinite amount. Why limit yourself?

When you send a query, the editor may say No, in which case you’re no worse off than you started. But there are other things she may do as well:

  • Give you an outright Yes. Woo hoo!
  • Say, “I like this idea but would like you to change it in this way…” Score!
  • Reject your idea but be so impressed with your pitch that she offers you a different assignment. May I say “Score” again?
  • Reject your idea but be so impressed that she keeps your name on file for future assignments. Nice!

Remember, garnering an assignment isn’t your only goal when sending a pitch. Another very important goal is building a relationship with an editor, even if he has to say No to your query. As long as your pitches aren’t totally off-base, you have a chance at connecting with an editor who may hire you down the road.

If you pre-reject yourself, you’ll never start building those relationships.

So the next time you’re on the fence about whether to send an idea to a market, go ahead and just send it. Do your best, write a kick-ass query, and get it out the door — then work on the next one.

P.S. The last Write for Magazines session of the year starts on June 1…this is the class that’s helped students break into publications from Woman’s Day to Spirituality & Health to E: The Environmental Magazine. I made the crazy decision to accept 30 Premium students instead of the usual 10, and as of this writing on Thursday there are only eight spaces left. Also, if you jump into either version (Basic or Premium) of the class by tomorrow afternoon, you get an early registration bonus: a free copy of Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, which I sell for $4.99.

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33. Author Panels

How to make your author panel run smoothly, even if you're not in charge. 


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34. Do You Have an Editor-Repelling Email Address?

email addressBy Linda Formichelli

I get a lot of emails from writers. And lately, I’ve been alternately dumbfounded, confused, and frightened by some of the email addresses I see writers using. Addresses like:

  • flowergigglepot@yahoo.com
  • littlemissflashythang@aol.com
  • onebrilliantauthor@gmail.com
  • writrgrrl7113@hotmail.com

(Don’t worry, I changed these addresses…they’re not the actual ones.)

And I wonder: Are writers using email addresses like these to correspond with editors? And how is this affecting their acceptance rate — and their careers? It is physically hurting me to think that otherwise great writers are killing their chances at an assignment for such a ridiculous reason.

(Yes, I know some people have separate, throwaway addresses they use just for subbing to lists, but I assume some of these writers are using these addresses for their writing businesses too.)

I wrote a blog post in 2007 about the poor writer who was reamed out by a source for her email address. But clearly this public service announcement bears repeating.

Your email address is often the first thing an editor or an interview source sees from you, and that first impression of you is seared into their brains. They might read a brilliant pitch from you, but they can’t forget that the email address you sent it from was snarkmom2008@yahoo.com.

I asked four editors — three from national mags and one at a trade pub — what they think of cutesy or just plain confusing email addresses. Here’s what they had to say:

“I find email addresses like that unprofessional. We like the language in the magazine to be fun and conversational, but I expect writers to take their jobs as seriously as I take my own, and that means having a business email address. If someone has a silly one, it makes me thinks she’s still in college and doesn’t have the experience to write for me. Ones that tout being an amazing writer are possibly worse: I don’t think Ann Patchett, for instance, would advertise herself as “geniuswriter123.” A good email address includes something recognizable about your real name!”
–Sarah Smith, senior editor at Redbook

“Well, it straddles the line between being clever and just being silly and unprofessional. The line is a bit blurry, but I’d say this: If the address looks as if it’s referencing a legit business which the writer has started as part of his or her writing/content enterprises, then fine. Meaning ‘TheContentChick’ could be fine. But ‘LittleFlashyThing’? C’mon. Save that for your friends. Only your closest friends.”
–Former editor at a national general-interest magazine.

“Would I turn down a great query due to a wacky email address? No. But these types of addresses lack professionalism, and that’s important if I don’t know you and you’re pitching me for the first time. I’d recommend using a professional-sounding email address for corresponding with editors and colleagues, even if you decide to keep your fun one for friends and family.”
–Peggy Bennett, former editor at Entrepreneur

“I do think the email address a writer uses is important. Part of the writer’s job is to secure interviews with people to whom the writer ostensibly has no connection. In that context I believe, it’s far less likely for a person to respond to an unprofessional email address than one which is straight-forward. Email address which are cute or contain a double entendre can easily be misinterpreted and may not afford the writer the level of respect he/she deserves from the interviewee.”
–Editor at a food industry trade magazine

Okay, so it’s clear: Choose a professional handle for your email address. You know, like your name or the name of your business.

But after talking with these editors, I wondered if the domain name had any effect on how editors perceived the writers. I’ve heard that having your own domain name is the best — for example, yourname@yourname.com — but what about other domains like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail?

The editors I asked agreed that for some reason they couldn’t pinpoint, Gmail addresses are acceptable, but ones like Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail are looked upon less kindly. Here’s what one editor had to say:

“I agree about Hotmail, even though I have it. I’m so embarrassed that I still use it. A lot of people feel that way about Yahoo too. Absolutely not AOL. But Gmail seems fine to me; I wouldn’t think twice.”

I’m not sure why this would be the case, but it is what it is. So at the very least, if you don’t have your own domain name, sign up for a free Gmail account, with a professional handle like your name, that you use just for pitching editors and contacting sources.

Your email address is part of your branding, and you should put as much thought into it as you do your query letters and letters of introduction.

How about you — have you ever seen a crazy writer email address? How did you choose your own writer email address? How have editors responded? Share your stories in the Comments below! (Please don’t share other writers’ actual email addresses, for privacy reasons.)

photo by: Sean MacEntee

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35. Free Trailers

How to make a great trailer for your book without spending any money. 


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36. Finding Your Other Markets

This article also appears at writersrumpus.com. While your book is percolating in your mind, in revisions or sketches, or under the scrutiny of your crit group buddies, you can explore ways to build your publishing credentials. Magazines and other media can be valuable, shorter-term ways to get your work seen. Here’s a more-or-less “out there” […]

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37. 2 Ways to Make Sure Editors Are Impressed By Your Clips

surpriseBy Linda Formichelli

You’d think sending an editor a published clip or two would convince them that you can pull off the article you’re pitching.

But guess what? An editor may actually be leery of the clips you send.

Why? Because too many clips are actually crappily written articles that were edited to perfection by the writer’s editor. So the person you’re pitching doesn’t know if the clip represents your work — or the work of a great editor. Anyone can get lucky by landing a single assignment, so your clips prove nothing.

Then, you make things worse by sending a bunch of clips from different publications. You’re hoping to show off the fact that you’ve been hired by lots of pubs. But what the editor sees is that no one invites you back to write a second time.

So what to do? Can’t you ever make these freakin’ editors happy?

Here are my two tricks:

1. If you have them, send multiple clips from the same publication.

This shows that your writing is good enough that editors hire you to write for them again and again.

If you want to showcase your versatility, send a couple clips from one publication and then another one or two from other markets.

2. Send your final drafts.

This is a big one: Instead of sending in links to your published articles or PDFs with the beautiful layout and graphics in place, send the editor the ugly Word files of your articles as you handed them in.

That way, the editor can see that you turn in nice, clean drafts.

I came across this secret by being lazy. I wanted to send an editor a particular clip but didn’t have a PDF — and sure as heck didn’t feel like scanning it in.

So I sent my Word file and told the editor, “Here’s a clip from X Magazine. This is the article as I turned it in — so you can see what my writing looks like before the editor does his magic on it!” (Notice how I turned a negative into a positive?)

Believe it or not, the editor I was pitching loved this, and I started using this tactic regularly.

Clips aren’t about the layout and graphics. Sure, they look nice, but they’re just window dressing on what an editor actually wants — a snapshot of your writing.

But if you’re going to be sending ugly Word files, why not just send in unpublished work that you write up as clips? It’s because the fact that you were actually published shows that you know how to work with an editor, understand deadlines, and have been through — and survived — the editing process. So published clips are key, even if you’re sending in a plain vanilla Word doc.

How about you…have you ever sent an editor an unconventional clip? What happened? Let us know in the Comments below.

P.S. I’m thinking of running one session of Write for Magazines this year; if I do, it will probably be in May or June. This is the 4-week query writing class that has landed students in Woman’s Day, Spirituality & Health, GRIT, Washington Parent, E: The Environmental Magazine, Pizza Today, and more. If you want to get the details when I have them settled, become a member of my email newsletter list!

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38. School Presentations

Tips to get you invited back to schools. 


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39. Social Media Platforms

Agents weigh in on whether you need one or not. 


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40. Self-Promo and Marketing Materials that Work

Industry Life


Erin Bowman

My sequel comes out in week and I’ve noticed a drastic difference in the amount of self-promotion I did this year compared to last year. For my debut, I tried everything, mainly because I didn’t know what worked and/or what was worth spending money on. But looking back, some of those things I did for Taken had a very small payoff. Some of them had a small payoff and managed to drain my wallet and energy at the same time.

So I wanted to take a moment to chat about the marketing materials and self-promo that I think gives you the biggest bang for your buck. These are the things I did for Frozen this year, and at least for the foreseeable future, I can imagine doing them for all my books to come.

Forget business cards as an author. All you need are bookmarks. They hold all the same information as a business card, but they have a very functional purpose. (Can you remember the last time you saved a business card someone handed you?) Furthermore, bookmarks are fantastic marketing tools both pre- and post-launch. Stick them in any ARCs or finished copies you mail out. Give them to readers at book signings. Leave small batches at your local library and/or bookstore. Carry them with you everywhere (in your purse, car, etc). You never know when you’ll run into someone who asks what you do. If they seem interested, give them a bookmark.

promotional materials, bookmarks

A well designed bookmark should introduce both you and your book. Here’s the info I make sure to include on any bookmarks I order:

  • Book cover
  • Release date
  • Author name
  • Publisher logo
  • Author website and/or twitter
  • ISBN, space permitting
  • Blurbs, space permitting
  • Tagline, space permitting

Like many print products, the larger your order, the less you’ll pay per bookmark. If your budget’s tight, bookmarks might feel like a hefty investment upfront, but I swear by them. If I could only budget for one type of promotional material for my next book, I’d go with bookmarks every single time. (My bookmarks for Frozen are shown to the right.)


I mail these to local libraries and indies within a one hour radius of my home. For some people, that radius can result in a lot of establishments. It’s about 200 for me, and I realize that might be a bit more than some people can handle. Trim your radius down to a half hour, or hand select 20-30 libraries or bookstores you’d like to target most.

promotional material, postcardsThe front of your postcards should contain all the info that exists on your bookmarks. (Mine for Frozen are again shown to the right.) The back should be BLANK. Why? Because you need room for stamps and addresses, but also because you’re going to handwrite a note to the library/store. These businesses see a lot of promotional material, much of which gets tossed directly into the waste basket. But if there’s handwriting on your postcard, it will be read.

Your message should be short and sweet. Saundra Mitchell has fantastic advice when it comes to postcard marketing, and I tweaked her proposed messaging to work for my needs. Like Saundra, I have booked a ton of library visits from postcard contact, so I know this method works!

And lastly…


If your publisher only gives you one or two ARCs, this method probably won’t be an option. But if you’re like me, and you get 10-15, that’s more copies than you know what to do with. Take two copies and hand deliver them to your local library and local indie. Take another 3-5 ARCs and plan a series of giveaways on your blog.

promotional materials, ARCsThe key to a succesful giveaway is exposure. Yes, only a small handful of readers will win a copy, but over the course of the giveaway, word-of-mouth will hopefully put the book on hundreds or thousands of people’s radar.

If you give away all the ARCs in one giveaway, I suggest having the giveaway run for at least a month. Another option is to run several giveaways back-to-back, each with one ARC up for grabs. With either route, considering asking readers to tweet or blog about the giveaway for an additional entry. Rafflecopter is a free service that helps collect and moderate entries, as well as draw winners, and I can only speak positively of it. (It’s that widget tool you often see here on Pub Crawl for our giveaways!)

If you don’t have a personal blog, or just want a super hands-off option, try goodreads’ giveaway service. You specify the prize, how many copies you’re offering, end date, and the territories you’re willing to ship to. Goodreads will handle everything else, including drawing winners and providing you with their mailing addresses.

Once you have your winners, don’t forget to send the prizes using Media Mail. This special USPS rate is available for  parcels that are books only. Send ‘em anywhere in the US for around $3!


So that’s it–my suggested 3-part marketing plan! Timing wise, I recommend ordering bookmarks about 3-4 months prior to launch. Stagger any ARC giveaways in this same timeframe. Postcards should be mailed out about one month before your book hits shelves.

There’s lots of other stuff you can do (blog tours, preorder contests, custom swag, and on and on), and they do indeed help. But for me, they sucked a lot of time and enthusiasm, and I’ve chosen to focus most of my energies on bookmarks, postcards, and giveaways moving forward. If you’re pressed for time and/or pinching pennies, I suggest considering one or all of these options yourself.

Done other types of self-promo that was super successful? Seen marketing materials you thought were incredibly clever? Tell us about them in the comments!

Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN, is now available from HarperTeen, and FROZEN releases 4/15/14. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

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41. Writing honestly from your true passions

The myth that publishers have stacks of manuscripts  and that writers have to line up in a long queue was deflated by Jennifer Bacia during her talk at the Gold Coast Writers Association meeting . ‘Actually, that is not the case’ she stated. According to Jennifer, publishers are always looking for something that will make […]

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42. I Started a Small Press (and Then Things Got Weird)


The author in repose.


I tried retail for a while, and that was fun, in the way that puking on yourself at a family gathering is fun: you have a story. After a time, though, it stops being a story you laugh at and starts being one that you cry over. Usually into a beer. Next came moving furniture. For a time, that was good, physical work. I genuinely enjoyed it. And the stories I heard there, man, the meat of my second novel is mostly that. My imagination’s not that good. But then here comes nature and that heavy time and all of a sudden my back is in ruins and I got sick of carrying marble armoires up three flights of stairs. Then came restaurant work. That was fun.

Through all of this, I wrote. My first novel dropped in that weird interim before I started the moving job, when I was living in my car. The second hit and I was getting these royalty checks, but aside from the first one (which paid my rent), it wasn’t paying my rent. It hit me: “I’ve gotta find a way to make a living off of words or I’m going to die.”

I’ve been a fan of crime fiction since before I can remember. It started with Ellroy. I read White Jazz and threw my hands up and hollered. You can say this much with so little? I was hooked. I got the classics in, then I got voracious with it: Mosely, Sallis, Willeford, Pelecanos, Westlake, Parker, on and on.

I loved the opportunity crime fiction presented to peer into the human condition, and the (usually) clipped, no-bullshit delivery. What I didn’t like were the formulas, the staunch sexism, the rampant racism. I really wanted to carve something out that could represent everything that makes crime fiction beautiful, minus the stuff that made me cringe. That, and I didn’t want to sell hot dogs anymore.

I gathered a nice group of brilliant writers, who for whatever reason decided to hook me up with some manuscripts. I started a Kickstarter (pause for groans) in which I detailed five books my new indie press would put out, and—wonder of wonders—people thought it looked cool. I got the money and I was off to the races.

Sort of.

The books were edited and designed and off to the printers. They dropped, and then there I was. Floating.

There were many times I’d go out to my porch and smoke a cigarette and my house would shake as the trains rolled by out across the road, and I’d wonder what I could do to actually get people to look at these titles, to pick them up. I’d gotten a massively talented artist (Matthew Revert

) to do all of the covers for them, and they really popped. I’d sent out some review copies to places I thought would dig them.

Still waiting to hear back from most of those places.

I got tired of sitting on my hands. I took the books and grabbed a friend and hit the road. We went from Oklahoma to Wichita to Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise to Seattle to Portland to Sacramento out to the Bay to Los Angeles to El Paso. We performed in punk squats and abandoned warehouses and bookstores and back alleys. At one performance we lit a mannequin head on fire while I paced the floor with paint on my feet, tracing a chalk outline of an eye, rambling about a cyclops. At another I read the audience the end of my first novel and ripped out each page and burned it as I went. Though I didn’t sell copies at every stop, I talked to as many people as I could about the books. And I noticed an uptick. We live in an age of social media noise and rampant void screaming. There’s only one way to get things going, especially if you live in Oklahoma: you have to get out there and talk to people.

You have to ask them to dance.

There are other things you have to remember, too. Running a small press, it’s important to utilize social media, despite my prior assertion that it’s a dying medium. You have to be a person online, first. I see folks every day, inviting me to their “book releases,” which are really just Amazon launches of e-books. That’s annoying. You’re more likely to see me posting pictures of my dog, or complaining about how I could really go for a cigarette (quitting is tough, but, hey! nine days) than you are to see me talking about the books or writing or editing. The first reason is that places like Facebook and my blog are my escapes. The second is that you just turn into a spambot and fade into the background, and good luck swimming out of that lagoon.

Another thing: finances. Be careful. Keep your receipts. Where I live, there are crazy tax breaks for small businesses. Make sure you know exactly what you owe your authors. If you don’t pay them right, everyone will know, and you will be ostracized. And rightly so.

On the topic of writers: they are, for the most part, a funny bunch. They care about this stuff. So they’ll have things to fix, last-minute requests, bizarre neuroses. You have to learn to bend, to understand that your voice is not the voice. And if they want changes, you make them. Mark Twain once said that a novel is never finished, only abandoned, and I think that’s true, but Broken River authors abandon their children with a packed lunch (complete with smiley face note written on napkin), surplus army jacket, mace, a Swiss Army knife, and one of those flashlights you put on your head. And a ‘mommy loves you’ and a peck on the cheek. God love them for that. They care. And you have to, as well. If you don’t, well … you know.

I’m not a father so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’m assuming there’s a feeling you get when you hold a baby for the first time. Does it get real? I figure it gets real, then. When you spend months and months eating tuna from a can and pecking at a keyboard and making sure the kerning and keeping and hyphens and headers look right in InDesign, and then you send it to a printer and they send you copies and they are physical, real objects, resting there, looking up at you, you can almost see these big blue cartoon eyes, these helpless things that need you. So, you start to feel an obligation.

When you start a small press, you lack resources, usually. And that should make you hungry. You need to provide for these babies. Your authors, they spent years writing these things, invested their lives into them. Now here they are. Your responsibility. You’ll want to quit, lord I know you will, because the whole thing is so big, like pressing your body up against the edge of everything. But you have to get out there, you have to keep your mind right, and you have to make people sit up and take notice. You didn’t pull a sword out of a stone; no one ordained you the Chosen One. You chose you. It’s your responsibility. So go do it. If you love something, take that big Christmas dinner in your heart and break it down into MREs and dish it out to every person you meet, in small, manageable doses. They’ll feel it. They’ll know you’re down.

And then, you ask them to dance.



J David Osborne lives in Oklahoma with his wife and dog. He’s the author of two novels, a freelance editor and the editor-in-chief of Broken River Books. Please query at jdavidosborne@gmail.com.

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43. Can You Force People to Buy What You’re Selling by Wearing Them Down?

My 6-year old son will ask me if he can watch a movie. Not once. Not twice. Not a few times. He will ask me continually, for hours, until he gets the answer he wants, which is supposed to be, “Yes! You can watch a movie RIGHT NOW.”

Eventually that’s the answer, because it becomes too much trouble to keep saying, “I’m thinking about it.” At some point I have to start thinking about other things – or at least pretend that I am.

His ability to not take “No” for an answer is partly inherent and partly learned. Partly inherent, because I think all children are born with the intuitive gift of wearing parents down. Partly learned because I almost always allow myself to get worn down and eventually give in, which he knows.

In sales and marketing, it doesn’t work the same way. Sure, you can wear people down until you get a response, but it’s not usually the response you want, which is “Yes, I’ll buy/try/attend.” Instead of wearing people down so they give in, you end up annoying them so they hang up, unsubscribe or avoid you.

I’ve experienced this in retail from the time I was a teen, working at the mall. We were pushed to attack all customers coming in, pestering them until they bought something or left. “Can I help you?” was never enough. We had to employ religious cult tactics, continually asking leading questions (Are you looking for a poster? A framed print? Is it a gift?), never accepting “I’m just browsing” as an answer.

Which was perfectly wrong, because we chased a lot of people out of our store.

The perfectly right thing to do is to leave browsers alone and let them browse all they want. Browsing isn’t the opposite of buying, it’s a gateway to buying.

Remind them you are there to help every now and then. Eventually, they will know what they want and they will more likely come to you to get it.


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44. Let Books be Books by Keren David

Beautiful Girls...Brilliant boys? 
I'm on deadline, so this post will be brief. In fact I'm over deadline, and I've reached the gibbering stage of madness where words and storylines are swirling around my head in such a bewildering fashion that I despair of catching them all. 
So, let me quickly commend the Let Books Be Books campaign to you and urge you to sign the petition, which calls for children's publishers to take 'Boys' and 'Girls' labels off colouring, activity and sticker books.
As the campaign says: 'Children are listening, and take seriously the messages they receive from books, from toys, from marketing and the adults around them. Do we really want them to believe that certain things are off-limits for them because of their gender? They’re not ‘getting it wrong’ if a girl likes robots, or if a boy wants to doodle flowers. These artificial boundaries turn children away from their true preferences, and provide a fertile ground for bullying.'
I'd go further and ask that publishers think carefully about all the books they publish for children of all ages and ask if gender specific  covers are really necessary.  Too often the message goes out to children that books about girls are off limit to boys, and vice versa. That adventure and action is for boys, and relationships are for girls. That a 'pink' book written by a woman is somehow not serious. 
The book that I'm struggling to finish is about love. It's about love from a boy and a girl's point of view. It's also about expectations and freedom, including the freedom to love who you want.  My hope is that it'll appeal to all sorts of readers, and I have great confidence that my publisher will  market it accordingly.
 Do you feel that marking books for 'girls' or 'boys' helps to write and sell them? Is it inevitable? Or can this campaign just be the start of real change in the world of children's books? 

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45. Tips for Reaching Readers

People, I am soooo chuffed about today’s post. We have two guests here to talk about a topic that can’t be discussed enough, in my opinion: how to reach readers. I have only recently met Katrina, but Fiona and I met eons ago at Critique Circle. She was one of my first ever critiquers, and her work. is. amazing! She always has great advice to share, and today’s sampling is no exception…


Courtesy of ReneS @ Creative Commons

I must say, I (actually, we because my good friend Katrina is also here) am absolutely thrilled to be invited over for a guest post today on Writers Helping Writers, and I’m looking forward to talking to you all in the comments section!  I wanted to talk about a topic concerning each and every writer, no matter their genre: reaching readers. This is something I think every writer worries about in today’s oversaturated market.  With so many books, video games, movies, and technological advances out there now, every writer has to fight for their corner of the market.

But how?

It occurred to me lately when talking to a fellow writer that authors often focus on promoting their books, their stories, and themselves.  But is that what a reader truly wants?  Of course, yes, you want to build your brand, get known, and sell your books, but that isn’t truly what will connect you to readers.  If you want to connect with readers (and thus the market) then you need to dive into the reading community and discover what it is they love/hate/don’t care about in the book world.

Recently, Katrina and I decided to set up a debate website – a place where readers can come and debate about literary topics from all genres, including other book related topics.  Why did we do this?  Because if you don’t invite the reader in and give them a chance to air their views about topics they care about and you don’t listen to what they have to say, how are you supposed to reach your target audience when you write your books?  How are you supposed to know the market?  And I know the word market strikes terror into all writers, but it’s nothing more than readers and what they like to read, and thus, buy.  Not as scary as it sounds. 

So what is the key to getting that agent, landing that book deal, or hitting the bestsellers list?  Write a good book people want to read.  That’s what they tell you.  Sounds mysterious, elusive, and out of reach.  Of course, there are those who just intuitively know how to do it (and to those people I take my hat off), but for the rest of us mere mortals, there are concrete steps we can take to break this down so we can achieve the same ourselves.  Now, assuming you have honed the technical side of your craft (since you’re here at Writers Helping Writers, I’m guessing you have already!), let’s look at what you can do to make sure your work hits the mark: 

  • Find a way to get in touch with readers who read the type of books you read.  Don’t just hit up the writing websites.  Go and find fan sites (a treasure trove of information) and search out online clubs.
  • goodreadsLook on Goodreads and Amazon, etc., and read the reviews.  Actually READ the reviews.  Then read the book.  And see how the reviews stack up against the books.  We’re always told to read widely in our given genre by agents and editors.  But we’re not told about this gem: if we read books, then carefully read their reviews, that information can teach us a lot about what the reader wants.  Trust me, it does.
  • Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 3.35.59 PMSearch out other interests within your target audience.  Amazon is amazing for this.  Pick a book you think is in the same vein as yours.  Then scroll down to see what books the customers who bought this book have also bought.  Learn what ticks people’s like list and you’ll start to see how your book fits in, too (or doesn’t—and this can help just as much as knowing if it does fit in, because rewriting is always a wonderful thing).
  • Pool resources.  We all have writer friends and critique partners.  But when it comes to research we tend to close ourselves off a little.  Talk with each other, and half the workload.
  • Book club.  I know, I know.  Old fashioned.  But so valuable.
  • Ask.  Yes.  That simple.  Ask readers.  Whether you are commenting on a blog, on twitter, on Facebook, wherever, it doesn’t matter; the concept is the same.  Ask people what they like to read.  When someone says they loved or loathed a book, ask them why. 

There are a lot of different avenues for meeting and talking with readers, but sadly, as writers, we tend to block ourselves off to the writers-only community.  And yes, writers are readers too and you should never deny yourself access to the writers’ world.  But if you don’t reach out to the thousands of other readers out there, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to build your knowledge of the market.

At the end of the day, writing is designed to touch a reader’s heart or life in some profound way.  Taking the time to learn what they care about (or don’t) will pay dividends when it comes time to write or revise your work.

Fiona_McLarenFiona McLaren is agented for her YA novels by Jamie Bodnary Drowley of Inklings Literary Agency, and works full time as a freelance writer, ghost writing books and writing articles, short stories, short scripts, and much more.  She is the co-founder of the DEBATE IT! website, where readers discuss literary topics close to their hearts.  She would love it if you came to debate with everyone over there!  She can also be found blogging at The YA Bookcase and YATopia.  You can also find her on Twitter


Katrina is represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary Agency for her adult sci-fi novel.  By day, she’s a mild mannered accountant, but, by night, Katrina is an active writer, critique partner, and intern.  As a co-founder of the DEBATE IT! website, Katrina works with Fiona to encourage healthy debate and conversation between readers of varying genres and styles.    


The post Tips for Reaching Readers appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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46. Author Platforms

What it means, and doesn't mean, when agents and editors talk about having a strong author platform. 


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47. 99 Problems, But a Book Ain’t One (plus a giveaway!)

110912_Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen_BB_AB_0136by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

As an author, I look forward to my next book release the way parents look forward to the birth of their child. After all, the release date is a birthday of sorts—the day my creation is real to everyone, not just me! If you’ve ever known someone expecting twins, the excitement is even higher—though, the fear associated with the event is also heightened.

This year, I’m having the publishing equivalent of quadruplets:

duckduckmoose orangutangled

snoringbeauty tywrecks

Like I said, I’ve got 99 problems, but a book ain’t one.

I get it. To have her problems, you might be thinking. After all, too many things publishing is a far better problem than too few. Or none at all. But there are problems created by my multiple birthing. Here are a few things you might not consider when praying for a year like this:

  • The whirlwind of marketing becomes a tornado.
    Since January, I’ve done three blog giveaways (the first was a DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE package of a book, a book, and a package of magic erasers, the second was a piece of Aaron Zenz’s original art, and the third is the autographed book we will give away here on this blog) with a fourth one coming up. I’ve done 42 Skype classroom visits—not including the 14 I have scheduled for the TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS launch. I’ve flown to a conference in California and done a bunch of signings. I’ve revamped my website, I’ve had educator guides created, I’ve read the books so many times I have them memorized. And on the 7th day I rested…except, not really. Remember, all these marketing things are in addition to my regular job of writing, revising, preparing workshops, creating professional development. Oh, and raising all my kids.
  • orangutangsbyaaronToo much of anything is good for nothing.
    As much as we want to see our books in print, publishing is about more than just personal accomplishment—t’s about sales. While my ego might be excited by multiple books out at the same time, the market is another story. Have you ever heard of market saturation? Economic theory says in a given market, only so much growth can be supported. For authors, that means there are only so many new books a consumer will buy at a given time. Having too many books at once can actually reduce the probability that a fan will buy all of them, just because he may not want to buy more than a certain number of books within a short time period. This principle also extends to recognition. It’s highly unlikely that you’d have multiple books nominated for a given award in the same year. So you’ve increased your overcall competition by competing with yourself.
  • The “what have you done for me lately?” problem.
    Let’s face it—people are basically raccoons, distracted by whatever is new and shiny. And if you have a bunch of books come out at once, chances are, that will be followed by a long gap until your next release. But a book only keeps it’s “new car smell” for a finite amount of time. When something else new and shiny comes along, you won’t be able to compete and the raccoons will move on.

So, who still wants to have lots of books published at once? And who doesn’t?

Well, let me tell you a secret—it’s not up to you.

For the most part, publishers work on their schedule. And their concerns aren’t your concerns. So books may come out slowly at regular intervals, or they might appear all at once. As authors, we don’t have much say in this.

So how do you deal with this? How can you turn all these negatives into something positive for you?

I’ve given you the problems, so let me propose some solutions:

  • Find your overarching narrative.
    Whenever I have a book release, I take the details of its inspiration and craft a storyline that matches to a theme. For example, every night at bedtime in my house, my kids go nuts. My son, especially, when he was younger, he refused to sleep—no naps, no bedtime, no nothing. He was absolutely convinced I was going to do something awesome. This became the backstory for CHICKS RUN WILD, and I’ve introduced the book to hundreds if not thousands of readers by telling this story. With each of your books, you should be creating a narrative as well—but when you have multiple books at once, think of an umbrella narrative that talks about all the books. For example, DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE and ORANGUTANGLED are both about having bad days (though they resolve that issue differently). When I talk about them together, I tell my audience about taking bad days, mistakes, blunders and turning them into inspiration. They’re also both about friendship, and the different ways your friends can help you get through a rough patch. When you have one narrative, that message starts to represent you as a brand instead of the individual products/books. And at the end of the day, you want fans of your brand, not just your book.
  • Coordinate efforts.
    When you start marketing one book, leave yourself openings to market the others. For example, when I was booking release day virtual visits for SNORING BEAUTY and I had too many requests, I offered the folks I couldn’t schedule in March a spot on the TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS release day. So instead of having to start from scratch for the next release, I’ve got some legwork done already.

sudiptabookmarkUse this principle in your marketing materials, too. Having bookmarks printed? Think about designing something that works for all your new releases. Making postcards? Create a “New for 2014” card instead of individual designs.

Just breathe. As I said before, in the grand scheme of things, having too many things published at once is the better dilemma to have. Because if you’ve got to have 99 problems, at least a book ain’t one.


Thank you, Sudipta! This is all good to know since I will be having two books released in 2015! Yikes! TWINS! Somebody boil some water!

Do you have any questions or comments for Sudipta? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of one of her 2014 books, YOUR CHOICE! (And a tough choice it is!)

Also be sure to visit Sudipta’s awesomely nerdy blog, Nerdy Chicks Rule.

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48. Pinterest for Authors and Illustrators

How authors and illustrators can use Pinterest to market themselves and their books. 


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49. Book Trailer, Interview, and Review of an Interesting Book

president hatI’m lucky enough to be on the web in three different places this week.

First, I reviewed a really interesting book, for adults but teens could read it too, titled, The President’s Hat. It was translated in English from French, and is a modern-day fable about a man who finds President Mitterand’s hat in the 1980s at a restaurant, and it brings him good luck and confidence. To read more about the plot and my thoughts on the book, go here: http://www.news-gazette.com/arts-entertainment/local/2014-03-23/top-notch-book-about-special-hat.html

Next, I revealed my book trailer for my new YA book, Caught Between Two Curses, on my critique group’s blog, The Lit Ladies. I feel so lucky because I WON THE BOOK TRAILER from Castlelane, Inc., and I would recommend them to anyone who needs help with marketing, covers, and more. Check out my awesome book trailer (it’s only one minute long) and more info about Castlelane here: http://www.thelitladies.com/winning-a-book-trailer-for-caught-between-two-curses-and-announcement/

And finally, I was interviewed by Hannah, a college student who is pursuing a degree in the publishing industry. She asked me about working for WOW! Women On Writing and other publishing related questions. Here’s what I had to say about working in publishing and where it might be going in the next five years: littlemissbookie.blogspot.com/2014/03/interview-with-margo-dill_7293.html

Until next time! :)

Happy Reading!

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50. Can You Force People to Buy What You’re Selling by Wearing Them Down?

My 6-year old son will ask me if he can watch a movie. Not once. Not twice. Not a few times. He will ask me continually, for hours, until he gets the answer he wants, which is supposed to be, “Yes! You can watch a movie RIGHT NOW.” Eventually that’s the answer, because it becomes […]

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