Friday, March 6, 2015

Publishing an E-book

By Terri Reid

I published my first e-book in 2010 and it was a great time to be an indie author. We were all so excited about the new possibilities of reaching people all over the worlds through the channels of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. Have things changed since then? 

Yes, they have.  When I first started there were less than a million e-books available on Amazon. I just quickly checked Amazon’s numbers (unscientifically) and there are over two million fiction books and there were 70,000 new releases in the past thirty days.  The dance floor is definitely more crowded!

So, how do you publish a successful e-book today?

Here’s some information that has helped me. I hope it will do the same for you.

When you start, learn from people who have already walked the path. Find forums where indie authors hang out and ask questions. That’s the best way to learn. One of the places I used when I started was –

Listen to the professionals. E-publishing is relatively new, but there are some folks out there who take the time to be “in the know” and, thankfully, they are willing to share what they learn. 

Two of the ones I enjoy are: - This is Joe Konrath's blog called a Newbie's Guide to e-publishing. There is a lot of great information there. - This is David Gaughran's blogsite - it is also filled with all kinds of great information.

What’s next? Marketing! From my experience, these are the most important things you can do to market your book:
1. Have a great book! (I know this seems like a "duh" comment - but so many people mistakenly think they can push out an “almost perfect” book - just as long as they get it out. WRONG! You only get one chance to make a first impression.) And consider writing a series, because you will have your readers coming back for the next installment.
2. Have an author's Facebook page. Call in some favors, have your friends and family “share” the link to your new book. Post about your book’s successes, but don’t be obnoxious about it.
3. See if you can get bloggers in your genre to read and review your book. This will give you more visibility.
4. A great cover design is CRUCIAL. Too many times a cover screams -"Look what I did with Word Art and Photoshop!" You are a professional author now; don't short-change your book to save money. In this case a book IS judged by its cover - NEVER forget that. 
5. A website is nice - I have one - but it has nowhere near the hits I have on Facebook. I would say if you can create your own, great! But, in my opinion, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest will give you a lot more bang for your buck. 
6. Pay some money for a marketing push at places like BookBub, Read Freely and others. Best of luck!!! I wish you so much success!

Best of luck!!! I wish you so much success!

Terri Reid is the author of the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries. An independent author, Reid uploaded her first book “Loose Ends – A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery” in August 2010. By the end of 2013, “Loose Ends” had sold over 200,000 copies and, has consistently ranked as one of the Top Ten books in Amazon’s ranking of Ghost Stories in the Book/Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction/Horror/Ghosts section and in the same area in the Kindle eBooks section. She has thirteen other books in the Mary O’Reilly Series and has enjoyed Top Rated and Hot New Release status for many of them in the Women Sleuths and Paranormal Romance category through Amazon US. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and German and are also now also available in print and audio versions. Reid has been quoted in a number of books about the self-publishing industry including “Let’s Get Digital” by David Gaughran and “Interviews with Indie Authors: Top Tips from Successful Self-Published Authors” by Claire and Tim Ridgway. She was also honored to have some of her works included in A. J. Abbiati’s book “The NORTAV Method for Writers – The Secrets to Constructing Prose Like the Pros.” Her social media links are: Facebook - website –  and Twitter - @terrireid10

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Color is the Dress and Your Book Cover

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Last week, Buzz-feed's website crashed after one woman posted a simple question: "What color is this dress?" Her boyfriend saw one color combination, and she saw another. Her question literally went viral around the world a couple of times.

Heads of state weighed in on the dress color. Congress members tweeted their responses now referred to as "dress gate," since they were unable to focus on the serious matters before Congress. The dress made the national and worldwide news. Debates ensued, dividing people's opinion on every social media outlet. It was soon being discussed everywhere.

Scientific explanation surfaces as to why some see colors differently, aligning it to "right brain thinking" or "left brain thinking" or how our brains interpret the light coming into our brains. Turns out we all see the same thing, but our tricky minds "read" the information in different...well, "light." All puns intended. Ophthalmologists suggested help in finding new vision treatments so people could see the different color combinations.

Then human nature struck, and people were over it. Who cares if you see white and gold or black and blue? "The dress" had become annoying and passé in less than 72 hours. People on social media were saying forget "the dress." Give us back the llamas that were running loose and had to be lassoed cowboy style in Sun City, Arizona. It was the lead story just days before "the dress" made the llamas story passe'.

What does this have to do with writing? Can you imagine if you created a book cover that swept through the world via all various media outlets going viral like "the $77 dress?" A book cover that created such a buzz that people bought your book for the cover.

The trick is to lasso people's attention so they will actually buy your book and read your carefully crafted words. Create a book cover that will cause people to talk about your book cover like "the dress." Can you imagine if heads of state and Congress members were tweeting about your book?

The goal is to capture a reader's attention to pick up your book or click on that ebook and buy your book. You certainly don't want your book to become passé in 72 hours. After all, cover art is how we interpret the data we see just like the colors of "the dress." It has to go a step further. It has to make you want to buy the book and create a tribe of readers. Have you created a "the dress" phenomenon type cover for your book? 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Visually Crafting a Story

By Betty Thomason Owens

For years, I worked as an office manager for an engineering firm. We helped land developers bring their dreams to reality. The first step toward creation involved physically visiting the proposed site where the engineers made notes, took photographs, and drew sketches. They sent a survey crew to the site. A draftsman took their measurements and drew up an exact replica of the site. Plans for the proposed structure were drawn up and set on top of the surveyors’ representation. At this point in a large project, the engineers may create a model of the proposed structure.

What does this have to do with writing?

I don’t usually outline a story before I begin. I may jot down an idea then fill in things as I go. This lack of structure sometimes creates more work in the end, especially if a synopsis is required. But in thinking about my latest work-in-progress (WIP) which required more research, I realized a firm foundation was vital. I layered facts and dates, gleaned from research with storylines from my original idea.

Gradually, because I’m a little slow on the uptake at times, it began to make sense to me. After working so many years in the engineering industry, perhaps this was my best way to “design” a story--not with a traditional outline--but by layering with ideas and pictures until I had created a world of landscape, structures, and characters. Often utilizing Pinterest, I keep a board for my story ideas and fill it with photographs. I spend time looking at these photographs, then go back in and layer my story with details. These include color, texture, architectural features, landscaping, plants, etc.

Get the picture? Exactly. I’ve built a very real world for my characters to live in. And speaking of characters, I’ve found pictures of real people from the era and pinned those to my boards also. I even found the perfect wedding dress for my heroine.

Here’s how it works: I’m a Scrivener user, by the way. From my idea, I rough out a very short summary. I decide on my main characters and set them up in Scrivener, along with my idea for a location/setting (this may change). I create a new board in Pinterest. Then I’m off to the web to look for locations and ideas.

When I have a good foundation, I begin my story, referring back to the pictures whenever necessary to refresh my ideas. Have you guessed yet, that I’m a visual learner? Yes, it all connects back to your early education styles. You can easily adapt this to any style of learning, even add it to your outlines.
This is also an excellent way to push yourself through writer’s block. I’m not usually blocked, I’m just stalled. I need something to refuel my excitement over the project. Pictures can do that.
I hope I’ve sparked some new ideas in your writer’s mind. If you’re struggling with technique, perhaps you need to consider your learning style and adapt it to your writing.
Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the soon-to-be launched online magazine, Imaginate. Her 20’s era romance, Amelia's Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequel, The Love Boat Bachelor, released January 26, 2015. She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM. Coming up next, a 1950’s historical novel based on the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Ruth Series (Write Integrity Press). You can connect with Betty on her personal webpage, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mouth to Mouth

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine

Word of mouth is always one of the best ways to gain fans.

Take the word –sell– out of your vocabulary for now, relax.

You’re not going to die tomorrow if you don’t sell a book today.

Focus on building your fan base.

How many times have we heard the phrase know your audience?

If you are like me, I hear it constantly, whether at a conference, in a workshop or in a meeting.
In theory, we all wish everyone was our audience, but in reality, we know that isn’t true. Example…I may like a red blouse and you like the blue blouse.

One of the things I like to do is ask some of my friends if they would read four or five pages of my first chapter. I tell them I would like their opinion on who they think would be interested in reading this type of book. Notice, I did not ask them if they would tell me if they liked it, nor did I ask if they would catch my errors, proof or anything else, I just wanted their opinion.

Why do I want their opinion? Because everyone has an opinion.  And, human nature, in each of us, likes to give our opinions. After they give me their opinion if they haven’t told me, I ask where they think some of these people could be found. Like particular groups on the Internet or organizations. By asking specific questions, my friends can give me valuable information that I can use to get my book in front of the right people. You see, normally, you will get several different answers from you friends…giving you many places to research for your book.

This works very well when you are in the process of writing. However, if you have already written your book and it is published, then print off those four or five pages from your finished manuscript and give to them. Don’t give them a book yet.  If they come back and tell you they loved what you wrote then sign your book, and give them a copy. Now, when you do this, tell them you would be interested, after they read the book, what their thoughts were, what questions they might have pertaining to the characters, settings, scenes, and plot. You want them to bond with you and your book. If they do, they are going to suggest this book to some of their family and friends. Because once they’ve read your book, and talked with you about their questions and you’ve answered them, then you can ask, “Would you send out an email to ten of your friends and tell them about the book, and what you thought about the characters. Would you mention to them some of the things that you feel would peak their interest in the book. Would you recommend it to them?

At this point, a friend is going to do this. They are in your corner.

After they tell ten friends, ask them if they would put a review on Amazon about the book.

If you are going to write another book and this is a series, what a wonderful opportunity to involve your friends.

People like to help other in general, and I friends
will always be willing to help us if they like what you wrote.

Monday, March 2, 2015

How Does One Become a Writer?

By Claire Fullerton

My mother was not a writer, but maybe she should have been. She was one of the most natural born story tellers I’ve ever had chance to come across, and she glowed under a willing audience, well aware when she had one in the palm of her hand. She was a product of what I now call the old south, raised in an era when ladies were cultured and charming.

Her name was Shirley, and never was a woman more appropriately named. To me, the name tinkles like Champagne in cut glass: captivating and celebratory in its effervescence, happened upon only on rare occasions. Never have I seen a woman occupy a chair quite like Shirley, who could be found at the cocktail hour holding court in the card room in the house I grew up in with one feminine leg tucked beneath her and the other dangling freely at her seductive crossed knee. This was how she observed the end of the day, for in her mind, there was much to discuss. She was fascinated in the players who populated her extravagant world and had an uncanny ability to dissect their character down to the last nuance.

I couldn’t say now if she was insightful or just plain observant, whether she was legitimately concerned or liked to gossip, but she had a way of telling a story that could turn a trip to the grocery store into the most enviable journey ever taken. I used to watch my mother—study her with adolescent awe, looking for clues on how to evolve from an inchoate girl into her replica. I could have come out and asked her, but I always knew she wasn’t the type to ever confess. She is nine long years in heaven now, but the reverberating shadow she cast keeps her never far from reach.

I was asked just the other day how I became a writer; whether I studied it in college or took some other road. It’d be so convenient to say I have an accredited piece of paper granting me permission, but the truth is I have much more than that: I grew up under the tutelage of a southern shanachie, who showed me the seemingly ordinary in life is actually extraordinary; it all depends on how the story is told.
Claire Fullerton is the author of A Portal in Time (Vinspire Publishing.)  Her second novel, "Dancing to an Irish Reel" will be published in early 2015. She is a three-time, award winning essayist, a contributor to numerous magazines, and a multiple contributor to the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. She had her own weekly column in the ”Malibu Surfside News," and is currently writing a Southern family saga based on her award winning narrative in the San Francisco Writers Conferences' 2013 contest.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Saying No to a Home Office

By Debby Mayne

My husband and I recently moved from Florida to South Carolina, and we downsized in the process. Our children are grown, and my husband officially retired from his position as a financial advisor. As we searched for the perfect "retirement home," my husband kept asking, "Are you sure you don't want an office?"

I've had offices in the past, and they served their purpose when I relied on my old desktop. But for the past four years I've had a laptop that can go anywhere, there was no point in paying more for a house just because it had an office. I thought I'd share my opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of a home office for a novelist or freelance writer.

Here are some advantages of having a home office:
      You can have all of your supplies at your fingertips.
      The familiarity of the same room, same chair, and other things same can be comforting to some people.
      You can announce that when the "office door" is closed, you're at work, and no one is allowed to bother you unless fire, blood or protruding bones are involved.
      The home office is a great tax write-off.

The disadvantages include:
      You're sitting in the same position all the time, looking out the same window, facing the same walls, etc.
      If you become too comfortable in sameness, you can lose your freshness and edge.
      Sitting in the same chair is hard on the back.
      People always know where they can find you.

Things I like about not having an office and being mobile with my laptop:
      When you have back issues or other health problems that are exacerbated by sitting for too long, you can move your laptop around to different chairs, your kitchen counter, the breakfast bar, or even a board balanced on your treadmill. 

      When the urge strikes to visit your grandchildren, it's easy to take the work with you and do it after they go to bed.
         You can check your email and do administrative tasks without isolating yourself from your spouse or family while they watch football games or other sporting events on TV. (Exactly what I'm doing right this minute.)
      Wherever you are becomes your office—from your La-Z-Boy recliner to a choice table at Starbucks.
      When the weather is nice, you can go outdoors and sit at the cute little patio table or kick back in the chaise lounge.
Debby Mayne has published more than 30 books and novellas, 400 print short stories and articles, more than 1,000 web articles, and a bunch of devotions for women. She has been a managing editor of a national health magazine, product information fashion writer for HSN, creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and etiquette expert for Most of her stories feature strong, southern women who overcome all sorts of obstacles. She is currently working on "Belles in the City," a 3-book series of Christian romances with southern heroines who move to New York City. She also writes southern-set, quirky, cozy mysteries under her maiden name Deborah Tisdale. Her social media links are Website: Blog:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Begin Again and Be Selective

Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

You have heard it said, “I’m spread too thin, I’m running on empty, I’m burning my candle at both ends and the harder I work the farther behind I get”. We all have at one time or another come to the realization we are not performing to the best of our abilities. What can you do about this when it happens to you?

I have a friend that is a psychologist and he is always asking “How’s your day going?” If I ever speak negatively of my day he will say, “You know you have the right to start your day over. Begin again.” Since he first spoke those words to me I have indeed started my day, many days, over. It seems to give you a new attitude and greater expectations for the remainder of the day.

The same is true for our lives. I recently had a friend faced with a terminal illness. He was given a short amount of time to live and immediately gave up on life. 3 days later he was on top of the world and optimistic about his future. The change came after he began again. He sought other opinions and made connections with the world’s finest doctors specializing in his disease. The big difference was his priorities had changed. His objectives were narrowed down to what really matters. The 101 things he had been trying to accomplish had fallen away and he now had only a few major objectives in his life.

I am familiar with this scenario. I and another family member experienced near death health issues. We came through not only healthy but focused on our priorities. Many things we were trying to do, people we were trying to please and objectives we were attempting to reach were no longer a priority. They have now been narrowed down to just a few.    

Author Richard Koch said, “Few people take objectives really seriously. They put average effort into too many things, rather than superior thought and effort into a few important things. People who achieve the most are selective as well as determined.”  As Koch stated a multitude of things can demand our best effort but with so many objectives only a few of us can do better than average. If we were to be more selective in our objectives and give them superior thought and effort we would achieve more.

I know we all have that mentality of wanting to do all and be all but we must consider, “Why not be more and do more with a few things?” It can be done as Koch says by being more selective and determined. If you seem frustrated or lacking in your results you may want to begin again and be more selective with your objectives. You have the right to start over and prioritize.