Category Archives: Book Publicity Tips

A Question of Self-Defense: Woman Turns a Would-be Attack into a Successful Psychological Thriller

FreeofMalice-Cover-LR

Today on The Writing Well I am delighted to feature debut novelist Liz Lazarus of Atlanta, whose new psychological thriller, Free of Malice, is generating a lot of buzz, especially among book clubs.

In her author bio, Liz shares that her novel was inspired by an actual foiled attack when she was a college senior at Georgia Tech nearly two decades ago. She was living off campus when she was jarred awake by the sound of her bedroom door crashing open. She fought back before this would-be-rapist eventually fled. Though Liz physically survived the attack, emotionally, her sense of security was shaken. As a means to heal, she began writing about that night and the changes to her life.

At a time when college assaults are at epidemic proportions (a recent Association of American Universities survey of 150,000 female college students found that 23% had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact),  the timing has never been better for this story. Free of Malice poses the question of whether shooting the would-be attacker as he was fleeing the property would be deemed self-defense in today’s criminal justice system. In her gripping novel, which is half who-done-it, and half hypothetical courtroom drama, Liz takes the reader on a suspenseful journey of self-discovery and empowerment of the victim even as readers second-guess who is behind the attack.

“As a long-time courtroom and Law and Order junkie and major fan of Perry Mason, I could not put this book down,” writes one book club fan. Another early reader called it “a gritty, intense, engaging Southern “courtroom” drama with gripping suspense.”

Below, Liz shares more about her process writing the book and her experience navigating the many publishing options available to new writers.  I learned a lot from her insights and her incredibly detailed and highly effective marketing approach to get the book in the hands of readers most interested in the psychological issues of violence and gun ownership as well as  the often murky area of what constitutes self-defense in today’s justice system.

 

Q. As discussed, your novel, Free of Malice, was inspired by an actual incident. What made you decide to write this book 20 years later?

Liz: Writing this book was always on my “bucket list” but I had some great career opportunities that I chose to pursue first. Just a few years after the incident, my employer offered me an expatriate assignment in Paris, France, so I moved overseas for three years, which was a fantastic experience, both professionally and personally. When I returned to the states, I had the chance to pursue my executive MBA at Northwestern, which was another great opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.

My career continued to flourish, but didn’t really allow me the time to do the research I needed for the book. At one point, I wondered if the story would still be relevant, but the truth is that it has only become more newsworthy over time. I finally decided to take a leave of absence from work to write the book which finally allowed me the time to put the thoughts that had been swirling in my mind to paper. It also led to my career transition, as I became a partner in a consulting firm once I had completed the novel. The best description I can give is that this book was a calling, and I feel like it unfolded at the right time. There have been a few coincidences, or “G-d-winks” as people say, that have led me to believe that I choose the right path.

Q. Your story tackles the legal questions about self-defense — whether you can legally shoot an intruder if you are not in imminent danger (i.e. they have backed off). What was the most surprising aspect of the law that you uncovered while researching this question for your book?

Liz: I learned so much about the criminal justice system during my research and had the great Scales of Justicefortune to consult with a few criminal defense attorneys regarding the story. I’d have to say that one of the most interesting parts of my research was the whole jury selection process. It’s almost more accurate to call it de-selection as both sides do their best to rule out jurors who would be damaging to their case.

I was able to gain a “fly on the wall” view of the process as I tagged along with one of the attorneys and found it fascinating. For example, one of the questions they asked the potential jurors was if anyone was a supervisor. At first, I couldn’t understand why that would matter until my lawyer friend explained that they were looking for people with leadership experience as they would likely be nominated as jury foreman.

Q. I heard you say that it was easier to get your pilot’s license than to navigate book publishing. What made you decide to self-publish? What are your top 2-3 tips for new authors thinking of going down a similar path?

Liz: Yes, getting my pilot’s license was one of the other “bucket list” items I completed, and it’s true, it was easier. The reason I say this is that there is very clear instruction when learning to fly a plane, both in textbook application and in maneuvering in the air. There are steps to take and my flight instructor guided me along the way. For traditionally published authors, once the galley is complete, the publishing house takes over. They have a “flight instructor” to steer the content editing, copy editing, layout, cover design, printing, distribution, etc. but because I self-published, I had to learn all these steps myself.

Would I do it differently in the future? There are pros and cons to both. The biggest pro to traditional publishing is that you are “pre-qualified” meaning that the quality of your work is not put into question. Because there is large variation in quality in the “Indie” or self-published world, I’ve had to make an extra effort to prove my work is of high quality, even though I paid for rounds of professional editing and layout.

I wrote a blog called “The 12 Steps to Self-Publishing” that has a lot of useful tips I learned – it’s on my website if you’d like to read more. Since you asked, my top 3 are (1) buy your own ISBN so you control the distribution (2) pay for a professional editor – it’s worth it, and (3) print on demand with a source like CreateSpace so you can make corrections because there will be more typos than you can possibly imagine.

Q. I love your author website and your marketing approach to reach readers. What elements of your marketing have been most effective? How important is it for independent authors to know who their readers are and reach them online?

Liz: Goodreads has been a great source. Early on, I ran a few giveaways, which increased exposure for my book and provided some advance reviews. And, the support staff at Goodreads could not be more helpful—they are top notch.  I’m a strong believer in knowing and segmenting your target audience. I would tell all authors to ask these questions:

  • Description – who is your target audience?
  • Passion / Motivation – what are their passions, motivations?
  • Messaging – what do you want them to know about you and about your book?
  • Influencers / Leaders – who are the people who speak out for this group? How do you reach them?

Per your question, reaching readers and influencers is key. I choose my books by referrals and I assume most readers do, too.

Q. What has been the response to your book so far? What audience segments are most interested in your story? Any surprises there?

Liz: The response has been humbling. I joke that you can’t tell if your baby is ugly and I had no way to measure my own work. But, when strangers write such positive notes on Amazon and Goodreads, I’m really blown away. Right now, we’re at 80+ reviews on Goodreads with a 4.5/5.0 stars, which is amazing. There are a few groups that have really “taken” to the book.

  • Book clubs – I’ve had a few book clubs tell me that they had the most vigorous debates after reading Free of Malice. Here’s one quote, “Our book club read this first novel by Liz Lazarus and this was by far one of the BEST discussions that I have ever experienced!!! The twists in this book will have you second guessing until you get to the end.”
  • Attack survivors – because part of the book is based on a true event, when I was attacked in college, I wrote about the after-effects to heal. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was writing the beginning of my book. I’ve had several rape survivors tell me the book was cathartic, that they felt more normal after reading my book because some of the neurosis they felt was shown in the Laura character, too.
  • Women interested in guns & self-protection – I’ve spoken to several groups in this category and they have been so receptive and supportive, particularly when I share tips I’ve learned about self-protection and gun safety.
  • One group I expected to hear more from was the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapists since this unique therapy is depicted in the book. That said, we haven’t diligently approached that group yet so maybe it’s just a matter of time. One of my favorite endorsements does come from an EMDR therapist, “Utterly absorbing! Integrates state-of-the-art psychotherapy techniques with all the elements of a classic thriller.”

Q. One of the more interesting features of your book marketing is that you actually have a song that you co-produced which is the theme song to your book. How did this come about and do you think it has added another dimension to your story for your readers?

Liz: I absolutely love that my book has a theme song and it was always my intention. You see, thomasbarnnete-600x600the young, black lawyer character in my book is loosely based on my best friend from college, Thomas Barnette. We met our first day at Georgia Tech when we both got lost trying to find the civil engineering building and we’ve been close ever since. Back then, I had no idea that Thomas was such a talented signer—he kept that part of his life hidden.

One day after we had graduated, he played a CD for me in his car and the man’s voice was amazing, kind of a Seal meets U2. I literally didn’t believe it was Thomas so he had to sing to me to prove it. From that day on, we talked about producing a music CD. Ironically, right after I took my leave of absence from work to write my book, a check arrived for some salary I had deferred and it was the exact amount we needed for the CD. So when you asked earlier, why so long to write the book, co-producing Thomas’ CD was another worthy diversion.

In my novel, the lawyer character takes the stage at Eddie’s Attic, one of the many Atlanta locations that I feature. Here, readers can either pull out their QR app and hear the real Thomas singing Let Me Breathe or go to my website, www.freeofmalice.com and hear it online. To me, it adds another dimension to the book, to hear the character’s voice. Thomas also sang at my launch party and we are planning a few joint events throughout the year.

Q. What’s next for you? Do you have plans to write another book?

Liz: Free of Malice just launched in late March, so I’m still promoting the book – doing radio shows, podcasts, visiting book clubs and other groups. I do have an idea for another book that is alluded to at the end of this one (no spoilers!). I’ve received quite a few comments from readers like, “can’t wait for Liz’s next book.” I didn’t expect that reaction at all but take it as a huge compliment. Now the challenge is live up to those expectations, right?

 

About the Author

LizLazarusA native of Valdosta, Georgia, Liz Lazarus graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and went on to a successful career at General Electric before joining a consulting firm.

She lives in Atlanta, is engaged to fiancé, Richard, and is a partner at a consulting firm focused on strategic planning. When she is not working, Liz enjoys reading, traveling, and spoiling Buckwheat, their cat. Follow her on Twitter @liz_lazarus.

 

Book Launch a Success – 4 Ways Authors can Build a Platform & Engage Readers

Wave of Books

The last seven months spent researching Atlanta’s amazing neighborhoods and the entertainment, economic and environmental drivers of the metro area culminated yesterday as we celebrated my book launch at Atlanta Movie Tours in Castleberry Hill, an up-and-coming artist loft neighborhood and popular filming spot in south downtown. More than 40 people made it to my event, in spite of light rain and the Donald’s appearance at a rally at the Georgia World Congress Center less than a mile from our venue.

The story of this book project and the way I approached both writing and marketing it are probably worth a few words on The Writing Well — at least for the benefit of other writers.  First, a bit about the book.

Moving to Atlanta: The Un-Tourist Guide is the seventh guide book published by Newt Barrett of Voyager Media based in Estero, Fla.  His other books have

My publisher Newt Barrett from Voyager Media was on hand to celebrate the book launch.

My publisher Newt Barrett from Voyager Media was on hand to celebrate the book launch.

spotlighted medium-sized cities such as Charleston, Tampa, Sarasota and Naples.  Atlanta is by far his most ambitious city to tackle based on its sheer size and diversity. It was a big challenge to capture the story of Atlanta in 152 pages.  I felt strongly that I needed to quote actual residents, who knew Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods the best, and that’s what I did.

  • For the chapter on education, I talked to two Atlanta moms who have navigated Atlanta’s public and private school systems in meeting their children’s learning needs ,and an academic dean of continuing education who briefed me on the many adult continuing education courses available to residents.
  • For the chapter on entertainment, I talked to the editor of Creative Loafing Atlanta, the president of Atlanta’s Lawn and Tennis Association, and the founder of AtlantaTrails.com.
  • For the chapter on choosing where to live, I quoted realtors and residents in 18 intown neighborhoods and six suburban communities.

SpeechcroppedIn remarks to guests at my party yesterday, I thanked all the people who have contributed to my book. I said, “You’ve made Moving to Atlanta something more than a typical guide book …you’ve helped present an authentic picture of what it’s like to be a part of this amazing city. Your input, I’m sure, will help people decide if Atlanta is right for them. They’ll be able to begin to narrow down which neighborhood or community they could call home.”

I hope it will meet the needs of prospective new residents, but I also hope it is an enjoyable narrative for Atlanta natives. That’s why I was so happy to read this comment from an early Amazon reviewer:

“As someone who has lived in this wonderful state and city for almost 35 years… I have to say I’m impressed. ‘Moving to Atlanta…’ is up to date… contemporary with a wide range of information and tidbits about the city… its politics, people and culture. Spending 20 years here as a journalist has given me a unique perspective and access to all of the city and its neighborhoods… both inside and OTP (outside the perimeter, as they say..) The author covers the good and the bad (traffic and rush hour!!). But anyone contemplating moving to our city will soon learn the ebb and flow of the city and its interstate. Recommending the Wayze App is a good start.”

Writing a book as good as it can be is only the start of what we as authors must do. Marketing is when the real work begins! Here are 4 tips that I took to heart when developing my own marketing plan and author platform:

#1 Partner with people, brands and businesses that can help elevate your book.

Carrie_Anne_photobyPam Sabin

With Carrie Burns, founder of Atlanta Movie Tours.

For Moving to Atlanta, I ended up aligning myself with Carrie Burns of Atlanta Movie Tours, the center of Atlanta’s film tourism movement. I interviewed her for the Hollywood of the South chapter and learned that she was president of the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association, so was able to tap into her insights of having lived in that community for 15 years in my “Choosing Where to Live” chapter. Carrie not only offered to host my author party, but also brought in The Smoke Ring, a hip BBQ restaurant nearby, and both of these businesses contributed gifts to raffle at my party, and are now active on social media promoting my book by retweeting highlights of the launch.

#2 Don’t just post or tweet your book, engage people on social media. ScreenShotQuiz                               

  • Share your journey along the way – I posted milestones as I was writing key chapters and shooting photos around the city on Facebook. Photos are a great way to engage followers to envision your book coming to life and feel invested in its success.
  • Do a contest – I asked Facebook followers to weigh in on the top 10 reasons to move to Atlanta for a chance to win a free book.
  • Embrace trivia  surveys – I created a survey to test people’s knowledge of ATL – the answers found in my book. I incorporated humor into the summaries where people are ranked based on how well they answered questions. They could be an “All-knTriviaShot_All-knowingowing Atlanta Insider” or a “Soon-to-be-Undead” in homage to the zombie-hit TV series, “The Walking Dead” filmed here.

#3 Build relationships with journalists, PR influencers and bloggers.

They are powerful allies to get word out on your book because these folks already have a platform and readers! In a sea of so many other books being published, this is one way to be strategic and position your book that can really help boost your profile.

The key here is to target outlets that fall into one of these categories: (a.)  they love your book topic — it ties to what their readers care about (b.) they are looking to feature local residents doing interesting things (especially a publication more local or hyper local focused such as the Patch) or (c.) they want to help you succeed because they know you and your capabilities as a storyteller, interviewer and writer. I find featuring other authors on my blog, The Writing Well, creates a lot of goodwill and willingness to blurb and blog about your book to “pay it forward.” I know at least one 11-time fiction book author who says a major factor in him being able to attract 50,000 Twitter followers is engaging with other writers.

Travis Taylor, founder of the tourist blog, wanderlust Atlanta, getting his signed copy of Moving to Atlanta.

Travis Taylor, founder of the tourist blog, wanderlust Atlanta, getting his signed copy of Moving to Atlanta.

Some of the blogs and news sites that are either covering Moving to Atlanta in editorial, or are promoting it on social media include: ALTA’s Net News magazine; Vinings Lifestyle Magazine; Points North Atlanta magazine; wanderlust Atlanta, a blog exploring some of Atlanta’s most popular tourist destinations; AtlantaTrails.com; and “Mitch’s Media Musings,” an Atlanta Media blog by Mitch Leff, who is interviewed in my book on what the media environment is like in Atlanta.

In late March, I will be featured on BlogTalkRadio’s show, “Write Books that Sell Now,” where I will talk about Moving to Atlanta and other book-writing projects that cross genres. One of the hosts of that program, Anita Henderson, known as the “author’s midwife,” is a respected colleague who has been interviewed on “The Writing Well.”

#4 Get your book reviewed early on Amazon…and don’t forget to secure a few book blurbs.

Advance Reader Praise Advance Reader Praise_Eric Advance Reader Praise_Grant Heath

This is important, and it means thinking strategically  about who would be the best person to blurb your book. In my case real estate agents who know Atlanta and executive recruiters who are focused on attracting talent to Atlanta as well as new residents or people thinking about moving to Atlanta. I was fortunate to secure all three for Moving to Atlanta, with two making it on the book jacket.

One Final Thought

Finally, the hardest thing about marketing is turning it off so you have time to write…I am still working on that as I carve out time to finish my novel this year while continuing to market my current book. There’s no question that being an author today is not just about great writing and research skills. It’s also about being strategic with your time, and finding ways to get your network of connections to work with you to get the word out.

I wish all writers the best in their efforts on both fronts — don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for people to support you. Believe it when I say, it takes a village to be an author.

Let’s Get Social!

Follow Anne’s new book adventure on social media or visit her book website at these links:

Website: www.MovingtoAtlantaGuide.com

Twitter: @MovingtoAtlanta

Facebook:   http://bit.ly/M2AFacebook

Amazon: http://bit.ly/M2AAmazon

Moving to Atlanta Trivia Quiz:     http://bit.ly/MovingtoAtlantaQuiz

 

 

Book Marketing: What’s Your Strategy?

book-marketing

By Anita Paul Henderson, The Author’s Midwife

Writing your book is the hard part, right? Well, if you’ve completed your manuscript, had it published, and started down the road of sales and marketing, you know the previous statement is absolutely not true. Marketing is the hard part, as any experienced author/writer will tell you. Trouble is, most writers don’t have a clue how to market their book. You’re a writer, after all, not a marketing specialist.

Marketing, however, is THE most important aspect of book publishing, and the one that receives the least thought and attention from the writer—the one who will ultimately do the marketing. Yes, you, as the writer/author, will also be the name, face, brand, and executor of the marketing plan for your book. But how do you do that when you don’t know the difference between a press release and a speaker sheet? Not only that, who pays for all of this marketing stuff? Remember, you (or your publisher) have limited marketing time and limited marketing dollars, so you’d better use both wisely.

TigerMarketing—essentially EVERYTHING you do to get the word out about your book—is a big animal, and you have to tackle it one bite at a time. So think strategically and know the ultimate result you’d like to have with your book. To get started, consider these points:

Know your target audience. Trust me, your target audience or ideal reader is not EVERYONE. Narrow it down to the one person who would get the most from your book or who would enjoy it most. Think of your book as a service to others. Which person or person type would be best served by the content of your book? Describe him/her as thoroughly as possible.

Seek and find. Knowing your target audience helps you determine where to find him/her. Determine what blogs, podcasts, magazines, radio shows, venues, activities, social media sites, etc. your target audience most enjoys. Visit and engage within these outlets in the form of visits, posts, comments, likes, shares, etc., then determine if your limited marketing dollars would be well spent there based on the response you receive from the audience.

Identify your big wow. What is the ultimate result you want to accomplish with your book? Make wow_rt_red_Tit measurable. Is it number of book sales, dollars earned, clients booked, speaking gig invites, media exposure, awards won, or something else? There are no wrong answers here. Just know what you want, assign a number and timeframe to it, and go for it.

Get some help. There are few things worse than watching someone struggle to do something when getting help would make it so much easier. Marketing is one of those things. Why struggle to build a website, apply for awards competitions, submit news pitches, post regularly on social media, schedule book signings, and more when there are experts who can do these tasks much faster and with a greater level of professionalism than you can? Hiring professional marketing help is probably the best investment you can make in your book project.

how-market-your-book-free-nicole-antoinette-paperback-cover-artThere are thousands of ways to market your book. In fact, in my book, How to Market Your Book Free, my co-author and I include 101 no-cost ways to do so. But really, you only need to execute a handful of marketing strategies that make sense for you, your target audience, your team, and your budget. As you develop strategies for your book marketing, consider the following:
• Appearances/book signings/speaking
• Articles
• Awards
• Blogging (guest or host)
• Contests
• Family, friends, fans
• Podcasts (guest or host)
• Public relations, media interviews
• Radio shows (guest or host)
• Retail stores (think outside the bookstore)
• Social media
• Website

These are only a few strategies to consider. Choose the one(s) that work best for you, then develop a plan to get results.

About Anita

Anita Paul.0168Anita R. Paul Henderson is known as The Author’s Midwife. Through her Write Your Life program she coaches professionals and entrepreneurs to develop engaging book content, publish it, and market it for success. She is co-author of five books, including How to Market Your Book Free and Publishing as a Marketing Strategy. She is also co-creator of Write Books That Sell Now, a digital program to help authors write, publish, and market their self-published books. She can be reached at www.WriteYourLife.net.

Dream Decoder: Lauri Loewenberg & the Meaning of Dreams

Dream on It
As a girl, Lauri Quinn Loewenberg loved to watch astronomer Carl Sagan host  “Cosmos,” his TV show based on his bestselling book that explored the universe.
“He was my first crush at age 5. He was so handsome and I loved how he spoke,” recalls Lauri, a

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan

holistic counselor and a leading authority on dream psychology. As author of the 2011 book, Dream On It, Lauri helps people interpret the meaning of their dreams so they can live more fulfilling lives.

“I want to be the Carl Sagan of dreaming. Just as he helped people to easily understand the universe, I want to help people to easily understand dreaming… our inner universe.”
Below, she shares her process of writing her book, now available in 10 languages, and which continues to garner significant media interest with major news outlets such as Dr. Oz, Anderson Cooper 360, The View, Good Morning America and The Today Show.

 

Q. What was the most memorable dream you ever had?

Lauri: There’s two. One propelled me into studying dream analysis and psychology because I wanted to know why. About two weeks after my grandfather died, I dreamed of him and in the dream I knew he was dead. I asked him, “What’s it like where you are?” He said, “I can’t tell you. All I can say is it is secure.” Then he hugged and went up the staircase and I woke up. I could still smell his Old Spice. It was such more than a dream – what was that?

The other dream was a lucid dream, which is where you are in the dream and you know it’s a dream. This one was after my second miscarriage and I was deep in a depression. I tell people when you become lucid in a dream to ask someone a question and see what answer you get. In this dream, there is no one in the dream. It’s just me standing in my son’s bedroom. I wanted to know so I just asked the dream itself, “Is there anything I need to know?” I felt this giant warm hand lift me up and say, “Everything is okay.” I woke up from that dream and I really think it helped in the depth of depression I was in.

One of the reasons dreams are so profound and meaningful and helpful is because your eyes are shut, the lights are out, the TV is off. You’ve turned out the outside world and as you sleep that stream of consciousness you’ve had with yourself all day goes deeper and deeper into yourself so when you are in the dream state, you are thinking in metaphors and symbols instead linear with words, so you don’t have distractions – you don’t have the phone ringing, or this talk you have to have with yourself. It’s your brutally honest core – a lot of people think dreams are the language of the soul. That’s a great expression.

Q. What made you decide to write this book?

Lauri: I had self-published two books before this one. I had been doing radio to promote my dream interpretation services for about 10 years and everyone would ask me, “Do you have a book?”

My first two were self-published and then a literary agent came to me and said, “I would like to get you published-published. “ Literally a month after she came to me we got a deal with St. Martin’s Press. I was out there a lot in radio and print so she thought I would be a good author for the book.

Q. What do you want people to get out of Dream on It?

Lauri: A couple of things – one, I want them after reading the book to have no doubt whatsoever that dreams have meaning. I want them to start paying attention to their dreams. Dreaming is a natural function of the brain.  It’s your core authentic self. Your dreams are there to guide you through every single step of your life. Every little detail in your dream relates to your waking life. So if you pay attention to them, you will get a huge edge in life; you will live the life you were meant to have. Don’t ever disregard any dream you ever have.

The more horrible the dream, the more important it is. I have a very big chapter on nightmares because the nightmare is connected to our most difficult issues – the issues we mishandle and the issues we ignore. That’s the thing about dreams – you can turn a blind eye and pretend something is not going on all day, but when you go to sleep you are forced to face it and work it out.

Q. How has the field of dream psychology changed since you began doing this almost two decades ago?
Lauri: In the beginning I would get a lot of pushback from some people. One sect would say, “Only Jesus can interpret your dreams.” Another sect would say, “It’s only random misfiring’s of your brain. People have been so closed off to the possibilities that there is something to dreaming but in the last decade, it has Lauri Loewenbergchanged dramatically –way more people are open to their dreams having meaning than they used to be.

Q. What’s been the most surprising aspect of all your research for Dream on It?

Lauri: I hear the craziest stuff as you can imagine. The most surprising thing to me is how our dreams are such a renewable resource of wild and crazy imagery. The dreaming mind is so deep and creative, and it’s always coming up with something new. Even with all the thousands of people I’ve worked with over the last couple of decades, there’s always something original that I never heard before in a dream. It’s just amazing how deep the mind can go.

 

Q. What was your writing process like?

Lauri: It was a nine-month deadline, and they gave me free reign in terms of how I wanted to put it together. What I wanted to do differently with this book than the first two books was to do the chapters in categories – how different types of dreams are connected to a different part of your life.

  • The animal chapter dream is all about how the different animals in your dreams are connected to your different behaviors.
  • The people chapter dream is all about how the different people in your dreams symbolize different roles you play in life.
  • The house and home chapter dream is all about your state of mind and your self-image. So each category of dream can be connected to a different part of the self.

Q. Is there one category that is more dominant? What do people most commonly dream about?

Lauri. I would say people are the most popular themes in dreams. It can be anything from a celebrity to a classmate you haven’t seen in 20 years, so this chapter teaches you how you can find out what part of your personality that person is symbolizing.

Q. How important is storytelling to getting points across in your book?

Lauri: I think it’s really important because there’s two layers of storytelling the book. One is the dream itself is a story. The dreams I feature in the book have a storyline, a main character, a conflict; they don’t always have a solution, but they have a timeline. The other layer of storytelling is telling the story of how the dream reflects the person’s personal story right now – where they are in their life; what’s going on in their life, so you kind of get two stories in one with each dream I cover.

 

Q. Why do some people never remember their dreams?

Lauri: They don’t give themselves time to remember. Creative people – the writers, the musicians, the artists – have great regard for their dreams – they’re going to remember them more. Your left-brain people – your investment banker, don’t remember their dreams as much. That’s not to say they can’t start remembering — you just have to give them time in the morning when you wake up.

Before you even roll out of bed, you want to stay in the same position. Don’t move; give yourself three to five minutes still time. Don’t think about anything. Stay quiet and the dream will come back to you. Make this part of your morning routine and you’ll start remembering all your dreams.

Q. How do you handle the science of your discipline – explaining it to people in a way where you won’t lose them?
Lauri: I only touch on briefly in the introduction of what’s going on in the dream physiologically just to give it a foundation. Dreaming is a very complicated process – the falling asleep and waking-up process is also very complicated – turning off certain parts of the brain and waking up others. I briefly talked about how different parts of the brain are active during the dream state so you can better understand why dreams are the way they are.

One of the questions I’m asked all the time is, “If dreams really had meaning, why don’t they say what they mean?” Here’s why: your brain is working differently when you are in REM than when you are awake. Your rational linear thought, which is controlled by the frontal cortex of the brain is dormant, which is why dreams don’t always seem in a straight line. The medulla, the emotional center of the brain, is hyperactive – that’s why dreams can be so vivid.

Q. You’ve been very successful marketing your book. Any tips on how authors can get media exposure?

Lauri: I started in radio. That’s a great start. You’ve got to be media savvy and not just talk about your book. With a non-fiction book, you have to make it engaging between you and your interviewer. You want to make it relatable to viewers and listeners. The good thing about my book is people do dream and wonder – I had that built-in going for me.

I wrote this book back in 2011, but I can still use it to get on interviews but I can tie in to what is going on in the news such as when Robin Williams died. I let media outlets know I could talk about the warning signs that dreams give you that you are heading into a depression. For example, we all dream in colors. But, if you are going through a very depressing time, the dream will be in black and white or the colors will be muted. You’ll dream of rain; you’ll dream of storms; you’ll have a lot of the color blue, because that is symbolic of the blues. Someone in your dream (or you) will be crying.

You also need to ask yourself, “Can I be a good call-in guest?” Radio stations love that. It’s not as popular on TV. Some TV shows will do viewer dreams, but usually TV is just you and the host talking back and forth. Radio loves it when you can be a guest who can drive calls. What I’ve been doing this for 15 years is that format of radio interview. People call in and tell me their dreams and I interpret them live on the spot.

Look for how to make yourself  the perfect guest for call-ins. For example, if you are a Feng shui expert, have people call in with their design problems or even their personal life problems and you can tell them how to re-arrange their room to fix their love life or bring in more money, etc.

Q. Is radio really the way to drive book sales rather than doing in-person appearances on TV or book signings?

Lauri: For me radio has been fantastic. National TV, not soRadio-Talk-Show much. I can get more book sales from one decent market like Dallas or Chicago than I could doing a segment on Dr. Oz.

Q. Social media is very important for every author. Has it played into your strategy?

Lauri: Yes, and thank God for Facebook because it actually helped me write my book. I’ve been doing this for so long so I have hundreds of dreams on file. When I started writing and dividing my manuscript up into topics, instead of going through all my files, I just threw a question on Facebook. I asked, “If you had a nightmare about a murderer or a demon, I want to hear from you.” And people lined up with their dreams. It made it so much faster. I have 48,000 fans on Facebook. I used both my fan page and my personal Facebook page for research.

Q. Which social media platforms are your preferred channels?

Lauri: For me, Facebook is fantastic – it helps me even in my pin-up portrait painting business. I got 100% of my pin-up portrait clients through Facebook. I paint women as a pin-up model, vintage style or modern.

# # #

About the Author

LauriLauri Quinn Loewenberg is a Certified Dream Analyst, syndicated columnist, author, popular radio personality, speaker and member of IASD, the International Association for the Study of Dreams, an international organization whose purpose, is to conduct and encourage research into the nature, function, and significance of dreaming.

She spent much of her childhood keeping a dream journal in order to capture all those wonderfully strange adventures she experienced every night.  One night, after she had a dream where her deceased grandfather visited her and gave her a life-changing message, she decided to dedicate herself to finding the answers we all seek within our dreams.

Lauri studied Dream Psychology and became certified as a Dream Analyst under the tutelage of Katia Romanoff, Ph.D. in 1996.  She has since analyzed and researched over 75,000 dreams from people of all walks of life from all over this planet.

An avid artist, Lauri resides in Tampa, Florida, with her “strikingly handsome husband and very loud son.” She holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do in order to keep them both in line.   Read more about Lauri at: www.lauriloewenberg.com.

dream-life-

 What do People Dream About?

 Below, Lauri Interprets Common Dream Experiences & their Metaphors for Real Life:

  • Falling down — usually connected to some letdown in real life; something you were
    looking forward to fall through, or perhaps when someone let you down. It can also be a heads-up of depression.
  • Flying — it’s a great dream – the most common childhood dream; it tapers off as we get older and life gets harder. We lose that happy-go-lucky, carefree childlike side of ourselves. As an adult you’ll have this dream when you’ve accomplished something and feel you’ve reached a high, or when you have freed yourself from something that’s weighed you down. Really successful people get this dream a lot because they are always trying to get higher and higher.
  • Seeing someone you’ve lost — psychologically speaking when you dream of someone right after their death, it’s part of the grief process. When it’s years down the road, they could symbolize a part of you. Dreaming about the mother you lost could symbolize how you feel about being a mother. Dreaming that she is dying or you can’t get to her could symbolize like your losing touch with your maternal instincts. If she’s helpful, you could be doing a really good job with your child.
  • Teeth falling out of mouth  — it’s a common recurring dream and it relates to communication.  The most common one is teeth are falling out and you’re trying to hold them in. That’s usually connected to saying something you wish you hadn’t and wanting to put it back, whereas the crumbling, crackling, breaking teeth is connected to weak speech – maybe you didn’t stand your ground well in an argument or get your point across; you didn’t say what you wanted to say well enough.

 

Crime Thriller Writer Shares his Process in Time for July 15 Writing Workshop

  

LeeGimenez_Picture

The inspiration for Lee Gimenez’s first novel, Azul 7, was a SciFi short story that he first got published in Nature magazine.

“I was writing sequels to my short stories,” recalls Lee, a retired technology marketing executive and military veteran. Lee says he always wanted to write books and began pursuing his craft in earnest back in 2006. He has published 11 novels over the last decade — the first five were Sci-Fi-based and the more recent ones fall under the genre of present-day mystery thrillers.

“I got to the point where I like writing about things happening now – real places,” says Lee, who strives to publish one book a year.

His 2014 novel, Killing West, is about a CIA operative named Rachel West. “It was the first time I had a woman in the lead,” he says.  “The reason I wrote it is that a lot of my readers are women – in fact, 75% of all fiction books are bought by women.”

Common elements to all his books, which have a following in the US and internationally, are “a nice cover, snappy title and compelling characters.”

One of his more popular characters is J.T. Ryan, an Atlanta PI, who does contract work for the FBI.

“I always begin with a ‘What if’ [scenario],” he says.  With Killing West, the ‘what-if’ question is: “What if a person controlled the internet?”

With his 2015 thriller, Skyflash, Lee poses the question, “What if there was a perfect wonder Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]drug that could cure disease, old age — everything that ails humans?” Of course, there are some side effects with it, Lee adds with a chuckle.   “I try to have conflict at the end of each chapter and to cliff hang my readers at the end of each book (to set up the next novel).”
After crafting the what-if question, Lee writes a succinct synopsis of his novel.  “If you can capture your story in one or two paragraphs, you are a third of a way done,” he says.

He’s a big advocate of GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict book by established publisher and author  Debra Dixon, co-founder of BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books.  Lee says he sets up his story on page 1 – often in the first line.

An MBA grad with a career doing marketing for companies like Verizon, Lee knows how important book marketing and promotion are – he’s savvy and successful at garnering social media fans, recently crossing over the 47,000 threshold of Twitter followers.

“I attribute it to following other writers,” says Lee, who has to limit his time on Twitter to a half hour a day if he wants to meet his writing deadlines. He advises writers to make good use of hashtags such as #books, #bookbloggers, #bookclub, #amwriting to get their tweets found by other authors, readers and book reviewers.  He’s even created hashags for some of his more popular characters (#JTRyan).

“Marketing is one of the most important things you can do as a writer,” he says. Lee is constantly thinking about his readers when considering the cover design and the titles of his books – he opts for shorter titles and one simple, dominant image on his book covers rather than elaborate scenes because people who are perusing books on Amazon will only see a thumbnail image of the book.  “You have to start talking about your book before it’s out but that’s a two-edged sword – pre-promotion to get people excited about your book, but it’s important not to reveal too much or you risk someone stealing your idea.”

He uses his own travels and experiences in technology to bring realism to his stories.  In SkyFlash, several scenes take place in Juneau, Alaska, as well as Colombia, places he’s visited.   In contrast, Killing West takes place in Helsinki.  Lee says he enjoyed walking around the city and talking to lot of people to get ideas for his story – noting that it was easy to do so since a lot of people speak English.  Another city that factored into his writing was St. Petersburg, Russia, which he visited four years ago.   “When I write a scene about a place, I look at street maps and the intersections – I give it a page or a half page of description. It really helps add color and mood to my writing.”

Lee is also a big believer in using all five senses in his novels – and he deftly integrates his characters’ experiences through sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing into every chapter.

His final advice to aspiring writers? “Never give up. Even when things are not going the way you hoped. I had to send 86 query letters before my first book was picked up.”

________________________

About the Author

LeeGimenez

Lee Gimenez is the author of 11 novels. His latest thriller, SKYFLASH, was published in 2015 and is a new J.T. Ryan novel. Several of his books became bestsellers, including The WASHINGTON ULTIMATUM and BLACKSNOW ZERO. His thriller KILLING WEST was a featured novel of the International Thriller Writers Association. His books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple Store, Books-A-Million, Books In Motion, and many other retailers in the U.S. and internationally. Lee is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech University and a Masters degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. After college, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army. During his business management career, he worked for three Fortune 500 companies: Verizon, Tech Data, and M&M Mars. For more information about him, please visit his website at: www.LeeGimenez.com. You can also join him on Twitter (@LeeGimenez), Facebook, and other social media sites. Lee lives with his wife in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Lee will be at this year’s Decatur Book Festival being held in Atlanta Sept. 4-6, 2015, as a panelist on the Mystery Thrillers Panel.

Atlanta area writers can also sign up for his upcoming writing class, “Ten Steps to Writing a Successful Novel.” The class will be held at the Jera Publishing office in Roswell, Georgia, on July 15th at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $10, and will feature tips and illustrated with writing examples from his own eleven novels and from bestselling authors such as Steve Berry, James Patterson, and David Baldacci.   For more information or to register, visit:  http://www.self-pub.net/blog/event/ten-steps-to-writing-a-successful-novel/.

Irish Indie Author: Making Your Online Presence Your Own

One of Ireland’s most successful self-published authors, Catherine Ryan Howard, recently sat down with The Writing Well to talk about book promotion and social media.  She self-published her first book, a travel memoir called Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida, in March 2010 after failing to find a publisher for her tales of Space Shuttle launches, humidity-challenged hair, Bruce Willis, the Ebola virus and being an Irish girl working in Walt Disney World.  Starting from scratch and using only social media to promote the book, Catherine has sold more than 12,000 copies to date and has since released two other full-length books, Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America and Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.
 
Below, she shares which social media platform she can’t live without, the three questions every independent author should ask before creating an online platform and the author she most admires for her social media moxy.
 
 

 

Why do indie authors in particular need to connect online with their target audience?
Catherine: Because in most cases, that’s their only opportunity to connect with their audience at all. The first step to selling a copy of your book is to let a potential reader know that it exists. If you’re traditionally published, generally-speaking, there are plenty of opportunities for this to occur without your direct involvement: the efforts of your publisher’s marketing department, a reader happening upon your book on a bookstore shelf, a mention of it in the media. But it’s rare that a self-published book will be “happened upon” in the same way. Therefore it’s vital that the author makes an effort to assemble a band of supporters — or at the very least, mildly interested blog readers or Twitter followers — who will help them launch their book just by spreading the word about it. Personally, I don’t know why a self-publisher wouldn’t do this, as it’s (a) free, (b) fun and (c) extremely rewarding to connect directly with your readers.
In your experience, what is the hardest part of book marketing for indie authors?
Catherine: Self-publishers are at a bit of a disadvantage because since we haven’t been vetted by an established publishing house, we have no credibility. We have to prove to the potential reader that — to put it bluntly — we’re not crap. There’s a number of easy ways to do this, though. Start by not being crap: write a good book, make sure it’s good by getting qualified feedback (i.e. not your mother) and then enlist the services of professionals (editors, proofreaders, cover designers) to help you self-publish it. Then assemble as much of evidence of your not-crapness as you possibly can: send complimentary copies out to book bloggers, do a Goodreads giveaway to encourage reviews there, write a killer author bio that tells us all about your writing history, your achievements and why we’re likely to enjoy your book if we buy it. Then add all this to your Amazon listing, and model it on the listings of bestselling books. Every single thing about you — your book’s cover, your website, your Twitter bio, your e-mail address, even your business cards — should help convince me that you’re a professional writer who’s serious about writing as a career and that chances are, the book you’ve written is good.

What three questions should authors always ask themselves before they create an online platform?


Catherine: 1. Do I really WANT to do this? There’s nothing more obvious than the tweeter who’s only there because someone told them Twitter was good for book promotion, or the blogger who started posting weekly with a book-shaped gun to their head. There is absolutely no point doing this if you don’t genuinely enjoy Blogger, Twitter and Facebook. It won’t work unless it doesn’t feel like work to you.
2. Would a professional author do this? As I said above, you must be professional in every single thing you do. Think of a mega-selling, traditionally published author and go look at their website. Do they have a series of amateur-made trinkets flashing on and off in their sidebar, things that proclaim them to have been awarded “The Loveliest Blogger Award” and the like, just for instance? Do they talk about how annoying their boyfriend is on their Facebook page? Do they tweet people pleas like “PLEASE review my book. I’ll review yours!”? Of course they don’t and so, neither should you.
3. Does my blog look like the example on WordPress/Blogger.com? Blogs aren’t just substance, they’re style too. So if you have a website that doesn’t look much different than it did immediately after you picked your theme from WP or Blogger, then you haven’t made it your own yet — and you should.
 
What are your favorite social media channels for communicating with your audience?

Catherine:  Twitter always wins hands down for me. It’s the single thing that’s made the biggest difference to my writing career and not just in terms of book sales, but when it comes to getting speaking engagements and media coverage too. I also love using Buffer App to make it manageable.

Is there an author you admire for their ability to leverage social platforms? Who really gets this?

Joanna Penn

 
Catherine:  I really admire (British author, digital publishing speaker and entrepreneur) Joanna Penn who was leveraging social media platforms before most of us even knew what that was! I think she’s a great example of the key being in the content; she is absolutely committed to providing her fellow writers with insights into her success. I’m an avid reader of her blog, The Creative Penn
 
(I, too, am a fan of Jonanna’s blog, voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, and one of the Top 10 Blogs for Self-Publishers 2012. She also hosts a podcast every two weeks featuring many author interviews.)

Q&A with Book PR Guru Sandra Beckwith

Today, The Writing Well is delighted to feature Sandra Beckwith, a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to be their own book publicists. Sandra combines her publicity experience and skills with her love of books and the talented people who write them.She works as a book marketing coach, publishes the free Build Book Buzz e-zine, teaches an e-course on book publicity and promotion, and offers educational products that help authors become more successful. 
Q. What drew you into the book publicity business?
I’ve been a publicist my entire career (my degree is in journalism and public relations) until a few years ago, when I stopped taking on publicity clients so I could focus on both writing articles and books and teaching authors how to be their own book publicists. I had many authors as clients, and was my own client when I wrote three nonfiction books for traditional publishers. I love working with authors.
Q. What is unique about what you offer?
Those who subscribe to my free Build Book Buzz newsletter and follow my blog know that I cut out all of the “fluff” and zero in on exactly what they need to know to accomplish a goal or execute a book marketing related task. The information I share, whether it’s in my “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz” e-course, the newsletter, or my blog, is very detailed oriented. After working with authors for so many years, I know what questions they will ask before they ask them, and I provide the answers in a way that’s easy to understand and follow.
Q. With the explosion in self-publishing and the massive growth in social media channels, has it gotten a lot “noisier” out there to get your book in front of influencers and the public? How do you cut through all that clutter?
Great question! You cut through it by knowing as much as possible about the people who are most likely to buy your book (and sometimes that’s not who you think it is), then getting your book title in front of them. When you know your book’s target audience well, you know whether they listen to the radio or use Pinterest, whether you’ll reach them through podcasts or in the business section of daily newspapers.
Q. What is the biggest mistake first-time authors make when it comes to publicizing their book?
They put all of their energy and money into getting reviews. Reviews are important, but securing them should be just one of the many things you do to publicize and promote your book.
Q. Is there a magic formula to determining which social channel is best? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Blog?
There isn’t, and most authors will want to use at least two. It depends on your target audience — you go where they are. For example, if you’ve written a business book,learning how to use LinkedIn should be part of your strategy. I almost always recommend having a blog on your website (not on blogspot.com or blogger.com) for search engine optimization (SEO) reasons. A blog will generate the relevant keywords that will help your target audience find you in an online search, so it’s a solid tactic for most authors.
We can find a justification for most social media channels, but it’s hard to find the time to use all of them efficiently and effectively, so I recommend identifying one or two that are a good fit, and using them wisely. 
Q. What are the top 3 strategies that any successful author MUST DO to maximize his or her visibility?
  1. Create a quality website with an appropriate domain name (URL) and load it with great content. Quality is important because if it looks amateurish, we’ll think your book is amateurish, too.
  2. Learn as much as you can about your book’s target audience. Who are they? What do they read, watch, listen to? What social networks do they use?
  3. Learn as much as you can about book publicity, promotion, and marketing. Learn enough to know which tactics will get you in front of your audience.
Q. How important is it to target your audience or niche? Do authors you work with often not realize that there is a particular demographic group that they should be marketing to?
It’s critical — as you’ve seen from my comments already. Many authors come into my Book Publicity 101 e-course thinking that their target audience is very broad — “all women,” for example — when in reality, their target audience might be “married Jewish women who live in suburbs and have children under the age of 5.”
The other thing I’ve noticed is that fiction authors, in particular, overlook the niche audiences that they can target because of their book’s content.
Q. Are traditional PR tools like a book launch press release obsolete? Do they need to be retooled to be relevant?
OK, this question made me laugh because I just released an e-book titled, Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book. No, they aren’t obsolete. They’re still absolutely essential. You might deliver them differently than we did when I started my career — now it’s e-mail instead of snail mail — but those time-tested tools are still powerful. Journalists recognize and expect them because when done properly, they help make their jobs easier.
Q. What authors do you admire most for being PR savvy?
One in particular who stands out is Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, not just because of the amazing story behind her book tour, but because she’s an excellent journalist who uncovered a great story and told it very, very well. Combined, they made that book a bestseller. 

Trailers for Books — One Agency’s Unfettered Approach

 

Todd Dombrowski, CEO of Book Candy Studios, is sympathetic to the many hats authors have to wear these days given that he’s married to aUSA Today bestselling author. 

“Ten years ago, all you needed was a website. Now, it’s social media, book blog tours, book signings, pr, street teams, prizes and web chats, just to name a few!” 


A Creative Studio is Born 

His path helping authors tell their story in one to two-minute video snippets began by accident. “I remember walking into my wife’s office on her birthday back in 2007. She said she wished she had a trailer for her new novel.”

Dombrowski at the time ran his own sales and marketing consulting firm working with technology start-up companies. He dove in and helped produce his first trailer for her book. Similar to a movie trailer, a book promo presents just enough of the story visually to entice a reader to want to buy the book, or as his company’s tagline reads, “give readers a taste for more.” 

Over the last five years, Book Candy Studios has evolved its voice and style much like authors do in the course of their writing careers.

“Our magic ingredient is we have an unfettered creative process,” says Dombrowski, who takes pride in the collaborative spirit that he believes sets Book Candy Studios apart from other literary video-production houses.

“We don’t charge per edit round and we don’t micro-manage or cap how many images, video clips, or effects go into the production of the trailer. This frees us and the author to work together to find the emotional voice of the piece that represents the author’s vision and speaks to readers. Oh, and have some fun, too!”

The process of creating a digital pallet or lightbox is time consuming, especially if you are sifting through thousands of images to find that ‘diamond in the rough’ that fits the trailer perfectly. “Authors need to be writing, not searching for photos for their trailer,” he says, adding that more time is spent scouring for music than images. “I’m a big believer that music is more important in trailers because it speaks emotionally to the viewer.”
Promotion Advice to Authors

So, what is Dombrowski’s advice to anyone seeking to get their book exposed to the mass market? “Always align your book promotion to consumer behavior,” he says. 

That means don’t rely on your author website as your main portal for selling books (it’s more of a post-sales tool to interact and connect with your readers); rather, focus on sites that book lovers troll like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Book, and Goodreads for reviews.

“Getting a book sold is 85 percent word of mouth,” says Dombrowski. He believes reviews from real readers also spur sales.

These days, Dombrowski is turning his attention to the escalating issue of book piracy. He considers this a property rights issue for writers, and observes that the worst instances of this outlaw practice originate in China, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia. He hopes this year to educate 500 authors through an author self-defense class on how to fight back. 

 
He also helps authors publicize their works on his company’s Facebook page by hosting “Open Book Fridays” where authors can post a short blurb about their book.

I’m impressed with the quality of the trailers I’ve seen from this Georgia-based creative start-up. I like the fact that the last thing you see on Book Candy trailers is the author’s name, not the company that produced the piece. 

Book Candy Studios also is the only creative agency I know of that offers a one-year window to do two free upgrades. That means authors can make two updates to their trailer at no charge — pretty compelling since it significantly adds to the shelf life of the video if you can add a blurb that your book is on a bestseller list or has made “Pick of the Week” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Check out these Book Candy trailers, and judge for yourself if they make you want to add these titles to your cart on Amazon.


Jeaniene Frost – Urban Fantasy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxiDLcSCP9g

Alexandra Hawkins – Historical Romance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c8VLqWEqEU

Richard Bard – Mystery Suspense
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qXNle1KsZM

E.G. Foley – Children’s/YA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USeQxDTSEdk

Bri Clark – Paranormal Romance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBR-psxETX8

5 Things to Remember Before You Self-Publish

In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76% of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced the number of books they produced.

Technological advances have enabled this growth – from print-on-demand technology, to online retailing and technological advances such as e-book readers and tablet computers.

And, many best-selling authors are now choosing to self-publish their work.  J.K. Rowling sells the e-book versions of the Harry Potter series directly from Pottermore, her website dedicated to the magical world of Harry Potter. The estates of Ian Fleming, Barbara Cartland and Catherine Cookson are also publishing their authors’ printed work as e-books and selling directly to the public. 

 
“Whatever stigma vanity publishing may have had has diminished substantially for both readers and authors,” commented Russ Grandinetti, VP of Kindle Content, in a December 2010 interview in Publisher’s Weekly (PW)Select

 

The lure of self-publishing is the fact that you – the author – have complete control.

 

 

“The book is yours – it’s your ideas and your vision from start to finish,” says Angela DeCaires, marketing communications manager for BookLogix Publishing Services.

The Alpharetta, Georgia,-based company publishes approximately 75 titles per year. BookLogix offers authors the full range of publishing services, from editing to selling, as well as offering free webinars for authors on topics such as “Using Skillful Communication to Improve Your Marketing,” “Self-Publishing 101,” “Building Your Publishing Empire” and “Finding and Filling Your Niche as a Non-fiction Writer.”

DeCaries, today’s featured expert on The Writing Well, shares five areas authors should consider before they embark on self-publishing their book:

  1. Financial Ability – “A lot of writers are thinking about the physical production of the book; they are not thinking about all the other costs that are going to go into it such as marketing —whether it’s hiring a PR person or having a video book trailer made or printing up promotional materials or having the funding to set up a website. We encourage everyone to do their homework and get a sense of what the costs could be, and to not get started until you have that base budget ready.”
  1. Commitment– “When you are writing a book it’s like having a baby, you have to be committed to the book and being a salesperson and keeping up on your marketing methods, such as social media and blogging. To make the book successful, it is a long process that requires your full involvement. You should always be thinking ‘What else can I be doing to promote my book?'”
  1. Marketing – “While first-time authors think the writing is the hardest and most important part, we’d like to say writing is 10% and the marketing is 90% of the work and effort you need to put in. Obviously there is no book if you don’t write it, but no one will buy your book if you don’t do marketing because they won’t know it’s out there. The beauty now with self publishing in the digital era is there are unlimited ways you can market your book. It’s about understanding your audience and knowing what marketing method you should use to reach that audience. Our marketing folks can work with an author to suggest some methods that we believe are best based on their book and goals for the book. Ultimately, it’s important to do your research up front.” 
  1. Understanding Your Readers – “Writers should ask themselves even before they start their book: ‘Who is my ideal reader?’ ‘Who am I trying to reach?’” Every decision they make in the writing, publishing, and marketing, should then be based on reaching that reader.
 
  1. Selecting the Right Self-publishing Support Company – “This could be the hardest one for folks. You have to find the right company for you. There are tons of companies out there and each has something that’s great. Do they offer what you are looking for? What are the contracts these different companies are offering? Do they have terms in there that you are comfortable or uncomfortable with? Do they care about the success of your book? Do your homework on what they offer and what kind of support system they have for you, and if they have the customer service behind it.”

“The number one thing authors need to do that covers all of these points is education. It’s crucial that they educate themselves as much as they can about the publishing business,” DeCaires says.

 
Want to learn more? Visit BookLogix on Facebook and follow the company on Twitter @booklogix.For a listing of free webinars, visit:https://www.booklogix.com/Webinars.html

Advice from the Experts: Susan Harrow, Anne Lamott, Stephen King and More

Every Thursday this month I will feature experts who have sage advice to help writers succeed as storytellers. My sources will include publishing experts, marketing gurus and established writers and editors.
 
Susan Harrow
I had the opportunity last Friday to spend 15 minutes on the phone with media coach, marketing strategist and author Susan Harrow as part of her complimentary laser-consulting session offered to her LinkedIn network (a great marketing tactic, I might add).
 
 
I first met Susan at a workshop during my PR days when I was seeking strategies to position a couple of my clients for the holy grail of publicity – an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She is the author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul: A Woman’s Guide to Promoting Herself, Her Business, Her Product or Her Cause with Integrity and Spirit.
 
I asked her advice on finding time to write while balancing a demanding day job and a young family.  She told me about techniques used by Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones to keep your pen on the page writing and not to stop to edit your words. The idea being that if you continually self-edit, you’ll never get your story down.
 
She told me about Anne Lamott, who said that you must give yourself permission “To write the worst sh_t in America.”
 
She added that when Stephen King begins his writing day, he always copies the last paragraph of what he wrote the day before so he is never confronted with a blank page.
 
“Set an intention and revisit that intention every day,” Susan said. That can include keeping a journal by the bed (or the tub if you like to soak).  “Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard ask yourself what do my readers want to know now? This works for both fiction and non-fiction. For fiction it furthers the plot. For non-fiction you want to write for what people need now or are deeply longing for. Think of yourself as a wish-fulfilling jewel.” 
 
Her biggest piece of advice for writers centers on that intention:  “Put butt in seat every day to write. Treat your book like a business. “When you see your book as a business, you can then develop sound bites that will bring in the business, sales, partnerships, and experiences you desire. You (also) can also monetize your book by creating ancillary products, courses, and speaking engagements. This is more true for non-fiction, but it’s true for fiction as well.”
 
“Authors often neglect to prepare their sound bites, which is crucial to getting an agent, connecting to your audience, being a great guest during media appearances and selling your book. Publishers care about one thing and one thing only: How many books can you sell,” says Susan. 
 
 
 

Several self-published and authors represented by major publishing houses have taken Susan’s sound bite course.

Here’s a few of Susan’s favorite reads to get your writing jumpstarted: