Friday, November 30, 2018

Get Connected to Publishing People



By W. Terry Whalin


Within the publishing community, who you know is almost as important as what you know. Yes, it is important to pitch an excellent book proposal or manuscript to the right publisher. As an editor and an author, I also understand people buy (books or manuscripts) from people they know, like and trust. How can you know more publishing people? From my years in publishing, one of the challenges is keeping track of the moving people.

Years ago, one of my six-figure book deals was cancelled because my New York editor had changed companies. My book was orphaned or without an editor directly responsible for my project. It taught me the importance of having a champion within the publishing house for each book.           

How does a new author with no connections, begin to get connected to publishing people? Everyone can use a social network which has over 562 million users: LinkedIn. This network is primarily business related and publishing is a business. To get connected, you need to take several actions:
1.      Rework your LinkedIn profile to show your activity in publishing. Do you write for magazines? Have you published books? Or possibly you have some other explicit publishing role such as leading a local writer’s group. If you have these types of qualifications, then add them to your LinkedIn profile.
2.      Begin to send connection requests to different people in publishing. These people could be book editors, literary agents, magazine editors, authors and many other roles. In some cases you will want to send them a little personalized message with your invitation. In other cases, you simply send out the generic invitation that you want to connect with the person.

For many years, I received LinkedIn invitations and ignored them. I had very few connections on LinkedIn and was not connected. Then I began to look at the background of the person and for most people, I accepted their invitation to connect. My number of connections increased and my public profile says the common “over 500 connections.” The real number of my LinkedIn connections, as of this writing, is over 6,700. These connections are varied with many different roles (mostly within publishing) Here’s the critical reason you want to be connected: when I need to reach someone that I’ve not emailed or called in a long-time, I check their LinkedIn contact information.

While there is a lot of movement within the publishing community, when they change positions or companies or physical location, everyone takes their LinkedIn account with them. This account belongs to the individual and is a way to consistently keep up and reach them.

LinkedIn has a lot of other functions as well but being connected and maintaining those connections is one of the basics and best reasons to consistently use this network.      
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W.Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Straight Talk From the Editor. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

When Vagueness Works




By Chris PeppleWriter-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine     


Don’t worry…I haven’t gone crazy. Yes, I know that I spend a lot of time reminding writers to give plenty of details about their characters. We do this, so your readers can feel immersed in your story and connected to the people in it. Details bring characters to life.

Here’s the twist for now, though. Sometimes being vague can be powerful. You can write an entire story and leave the details up to the imagination of the reader. It’s true. Your vagueness can open the minds of the readers and allow them to give the characters traits that they most prefer or can relate to.

Honestly, I don’t recommend this often. It’s hard to pull off successfully. Let me give you can example to help you see when vagueness can be a powerful tool in writing. I wrote a short story about 20 years ago and created a woman named Maggie as the main character. In the short story, Maggie faces challenges in her community while trying to protect children in her community. (Spoiler alert: Maggie dies at the end.)

I gave no specific race or age for Maggie, though I do call her an older woman. I don’t give any clues as to where the setting is…no hometown or nationality given for her at all. She prays in the story, but I don’t tell you anything more about her specific faith or denomination. I do build in conversations, so readers know that Maggie is kind, loving, and well-respected in her community. The readers need enough information to see her as good. But that’s all I give them. The readers have to imagine who Maggie is.

Twenty years later, I still get comments about this story. Readers tell me that they are sure Maggie lived during the time of the conflicts in Northern Ireland. Others are sure that Maggie lived through the Civil Rights Movement. Some readers don’t know the original publication date and place Maggie in various cities around the world today. The readers are connecting to Maggie based on their own life experiences or areas of interest. The truth is that Maggie is all of these women. I didn’t create her to be tied to a particular time, race or region. I was vague, so Maggie could transform into someone new with each reader.

Give vagueness a try. It’s definitely not a writing approach that will work for every book or short story, though, so be sure to seek feedback to see if you have been successful.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Scene Building



By Lynette Eason


I’ve been writing for about twenty years now. It took me eight years to catch an editor’s eyes with a cold submission. That first year, I sold three books. Then a year later, sold five more. When I first started writing, I wrote off the top of my head—or by the seat of my pants. Now, my brain is much older! LOL. I need to do a little more planning to work my way through a book and have it actually make sense. One thing I was working on the other day was content for a workshop that’s coming up. I started looking at how to teach someone how to craft a scene.

I came to the conclusion that scenes were mini stories. They all need a beginning, middle and end, just like the full novel. Someone else may have already pointed this out somewhere, but it’s the first time it occurred to me.  You see, I write mostly from instinct. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve studied the craft, I’ve attended the conferences and the classes and even had one of the best mentors a writer could have.

But because I write instinctively, it can be harder for me to put into words exactly how to convey a topic about writing to an audience. I have to look at exactly how I craft something and then put it into words other writers can understand. Yesterday, I was working on Scene Building and trying to put a name to the elements that every scene needs.

I finally narrowed it down to these things:

1.      Purpose or motivation: This is the scene’s reason for being. Why are you including this scene in the story? How is this scene going to move the story forward? What are you trying to accomplish with this scene?

2.      Suspense – It doesn’t matter if you’re writing comic relief, a thriller, an historical or a women’s contemporary novel. Every book needs suspense and intrigue. This creates tension and causes the reader to ask questions and desire to know more. It’s really what keeps the readers flipping the pages to see what happens next.

3.      Fluidity – The scene has to make sense. It has to flow and not jar the reader out of the story. This is where a lot of writers make their biggest mistake and the scene doesn’t flow or there’s something illogical about it, then the reader gets frustrated at constantly being jarred out of the story.

4.      Relevance of content – This is a bit different than the purpose of the scene. You can have a scene with a great purpose, but the content of the scene needs be there for a reason. If it’s not important to the scene leave it out. Start your scene in the middle of the action. Leave out the nonessential stuff and boring narrative that the reader doesn’t need. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t want your scene rich with details that give the reader a sense of time, place and being right there in the story. It’s all about balance.

5.      Transition – The end of every scene must lead the reader into the next using some of that fluidity I just mentioned. Yes, you need fluidity inside your scenes, but also at the end of every scene. The transition must seem like a natural, chronological segue into the next scene or chapter. This is another even bigger mistake some writers make. When there’s no transition, then we get what editors call episodic writing. Meaning, you may have some great ideas for scenes, but that’s all they are—separate scenes that don’t seem to have any kind of connection.

6.      Hook or cliffhanger – Be sure to have one of these at the end of the scene. This is what’s going to keep the reader coming back—and is also part of that whole suspense thing.

I hope you found this helpful! Good luck with all of your writing projects. Now go craft the most amazing scenes ever!
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Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Oath of Honor, as well as the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, the Hidden Identity series, and the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Beach Writing in the Winter



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


Many authors have been known to do their writing near the water. Whether it be a lake, stream or ocean it seems that being near the water gives you a tranquility and a better focus on your writing. I have always imagined there were two places that seemed to cleanse my soul. A cool clear trout stream and the sound of the waves on a beach. Scientist tell us there may be more to this feeling than our imaginations.
·         Scientist studied the benefits of beach going and have found it does promote our health. Some of the benefits are from the minerals in the seawater itself. Potassium and magnesium help the immune system while breathing in the salty air has respiratory benefits that promote a better night’s sleep.
·         If you experience a calm and relaxation feeling from sitting on the beach looking at the blue of the water and sky and experiencing the sounds of the waves there is a reason. The nervous system is slowed down and the brain is going through a de-stimulating process. It’s a combination of the Vitamin D intake and the meditative surroundings of the beach.
·         The combination of the beach experience can change the frequency of our brain waves. The meditative feelings promote increased focus, awareness and a clearer head. It is said this can last long after you leave the beach.
·         Negative ions fill the salty sea air. When you breathe them in, they help balance out the chemicals in our brain. Thus, we feel more relaxed, happier and less stressed.

Being a part of a beach going family, three to five weeks a year, it’s good to know scientifically of these benefits for myself and my family. Not that we need an excuse but this is a good one and it is scientifically proven, and I will use it. Any time of the year is good for beach writing but the winter beach is my favorite for several reasons. Besides the scientific benefits we just covered the winter beach has many others.
·         The crowds are not there. September thru March you have very few people to compete with for beach space, parking space, restaurants and the like. This avoids the tourist stress if that tends to bother you.
·         September to March there is a different crowd from the Summer and Spring Break crowd. It’s the older crowd. Many retirees which are laid back and relaxed. There are few if any children. The crowd that is there are not the people that would normally tend to distract you from your relaxation and focus.
·         Sunsets are beautiful. Remembering nature has four seasons may be difficult to do in the tropical locations but it remains, each season is different even in the tropics. One giveaway is the sunsets. East is east and west is west and the sunset moves. Sunsets tend to be more over the water in the fall. In the summer months they are further to the west.
·         Perfect weather. Beaches are warm but not hot. There are times the water is warmer in September, October and November than it is in March. Even if the air is cool and crisp it has all the benefits of summer beach air without the heat.
·         And just as important if you are renting, prices are great so you may have an opportunity to stay longer.

The winter beach has been a great place to slow down and meet people as well. We have made friends there that we look forward to seeing each visit.

Now that you know of all the benefits, what are you waiting for? Good writing and  I’ll see you at the beach!

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Importance of Research



By Stephenia H. McGee


Has it ever happened to you? You write a fabulous story, it goes out into the world, and then…you get the email. The one that informs you that you used the wrong name for a chandelier or had a character see a play two months before it came out? Or worse, you see a review that says women of that time would have never done such and such? Rest assured, if you write historical fiction, then there will be readers who either know the era better than you do or will look things up just to check your facts. Impress them with your attention to detail by being thorough in your research beyond mere textbook knowledge.

Research goes beyond just finding the who, what and when of your era. It can also add depth to the story by giving you a feel for the ways of speaking, mannerisms, and thoughts of people in that time. The way a Victorian woman thought is drastically different than the thoughts of a modern woman. One of the best ways for getting inside the head of historical figures is to read primary sources.

For my latest book, I dove into several firsthand accounts not only to get the actual historical facts right, but to really understand the inner thoughts and feelings of people living through the time period. For Eternity Between Us, a lot of my characters’ adventures are based on the first-hand accounts of historical women Belle Boyd and Rose Greenhow, and the characters’ thoughts on how and why the war started are taken from the contemporary letters and documents of an array of Southerners at that time.

In her book Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison, Belle gives a detailed account of her personal adventures, some of which I used in the story, as well as Belle’s thoughts on the Civil War. This primary source, though historians believe Belle’s accounts may have been exaggerated, made for excellent research material and gave authenticity to the characters.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow, renowned Confederate spy in Washington, recounts the search of her home and a detailed account of her time in the Old Capitol prison in her book, My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington. Those were all real events that I wove into the book. Sometime history is more unbelievable than fiction! I even used several of Rose’s personal opinions as dialogue for my character.

By engrossing myself in the contemporary writings of the time, I was able to add historical authenticity to my characters by mirroring the thoughts and opinions of people who lived through a time with a culture very different from our own. Without the depth of this kind of research, my facts may have been correct, but I might have lacked the depth historical readers appreciate. 

The national archives are full of digital forms of newspapers, books, and letters from an array of American writers. Take the time to learn to think like they did, and your historical fiction will sing with authenticity.
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Stephenia H. McGee is the bestselling author of six historical novels. Her newest title, Eternity Between Us, releases October 9th. For more about Stephenia and her work, visit www.StepheniaMcGee.com

Friday, November 23, 2018

What’s The Point?



By Tonya Calvert


What is the point of it all? How do I find my purpose? These deep thoughts came from a dear author friend. Write, submit, receive rejection, repeat. The routine had burned her out and left her wondering if she was wasting her time.

I pondered the obvious answers of purpose in life — love God, love your family, somehow do your little part to save the world, but what about the writing part? The part that had left her tired of running in the wheel of write, submit, receive rejection, repeat. That part seemed more manageable, so I thought about why I write.

I write because I see stories that need to be told. I write because I believe it’s what I’m created to do. I write because I believe it’s important.

As writers, I think we see the world differently, in a more observant way. We don’t just see people. We see characters and stories. I wrote my children’s picture book, Saylor on the Seashore, because I was inspired by the “characters” I met at the beach. My family and I watched a blue heron with a hook stuck through his beak. This fearless bird was stealing bait from the fishermen on the beach. I wrote about the bird in my journal and created a character, Big Blue Heron, who became part of the story. The character, Saylor, was also inspired by true events. A young seagull was caught in a fisherman’s net and as the fisherman struggled to free the bird, a story formed in my mind. If I did not tell their story, who would?

Maybe in the bigger meaning of life, telling one small story doesn’t seem significant, but for me there is a peace in knowing I am doing what God created me to do. Winston Churchill said it best, “Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.” Surely, this applies to writers as well. Writing feeds my soul.

Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Today’s world is a pretty “dusty” place. I especially like writing for children because they are growing up in a harsh world and they deserve a little softness.

Thankfully, I don’t have to figure out the meaning of life or how to save the world. As Tolkien said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.” So, what will you write with the time given to you? The world is waiting to hear your story.
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Tonya Calvert finds inspiration all around her, especially on nature walks and at the Florida coast. She has a BS from Columbus State University and a JD from Atlanta's John Marshall Law School. Saylor on the Seashore (Clearfork Publishing 2017) is her first book. Her second children’s book, The Origami Elephant (Clearfork Publishing) will be released fall of 2018. She is married to her high school sweetheart. They live a blessed life in the Deep South with their three boys.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful for Stan Lee a True Superhero, a Creative Writer


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


I heard of Stan Lee’s death from my daughter-in-law via text. She was understandably upset. She is the Marvel Superhero expert in our family. She participates in and attends Comic Con International conventions. She has expanded my limited knowledge in the field. It’s a joy to watch her talk about the experiences. To quote her, “He (Stan Lee) either created or co-created almost all of my favorite Marvel heroes.”

I’m in awe of the creativity of the mind of Stan Lee. Something I did not know was that Stan Lee “took over as Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics in 1941 at age 19.” Can you imagine? His rise to editor was a combination of talent but mainly due to historical events. At age 19, Lee worked in the mail room of Marvel Comics when most of the senior Marvel writers were going off to WWII. His appointment as editor forever shaped Marvel Comics future. He was a writer with an unlimited imagination.

Actor “Hugh Jackman, who benefited from Stan Lee’s writing, paid tribute to a man who had a massive impact on his career: Stan Lee. The actor and Late Show host Stephen Colbert shared kind words and memories of the Marvel Comics creator, who died at the age of 95 this week. ‘To the family and to the legions of fans, I remember Stan as a true gentleman who had this glint in his eye,’ Jackman said. ‘He’s a creative genius, he thought outside the box, he created a whole universe, he changed the lives of many people, mine included.’”



“Jackman recalled, ‘If you ever want to get a clear understanding of where you are in the world, and you think, ‘I’m Wolverine, I’m walking into Comic Con, this is my spot, right? This is a good day for me,’ I was on a red carpet and I was the only one on there and no one was taking my photo because at the other end was Stan Lee.’”

A recent article in Business Insider shows how world events contributed to Stan Lee’s creativity that equated to success for Marvel Comics. “Lee's time in the Army came just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Army installed the young Stanley Martin Lieber (Lee's birth name, he changed it to his pen name later) as a telephone pole lineman. After realizing it made a mistake, he was moved to the training film division to create posters and worked as a writer of films, shorts, and comics for the duration of the war. Throughout his life, Lee would use his experiences to influence his characters and his later works — and the Army was a small but significant part of it.”

Clearly, Stan Lee’s fans are everywhere. Another fan was my local barista. The day after Stan Lee’s death, I placed an order in the drive through of my local coffee shop. After taking my order, the barista repeated my order and then said, “You’re a superhero.” I smiled and said “Stan Lee fan?” The barista replied, “Absolutely.” This random exchange makes me smile. It makes me want to explore the world of Stan Lee’s creation. What an author of immense creativity, who created worlds for us all to enjoy. Can you imagine a world without the stories of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor and the X-Men? 

Thank you, Stan Lee. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!






Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Is it Okay to Write Rhyming Poetry?



By Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt


I can’t recall the first poem I ever wrote, but I’m sure it rhymed. Packed in a cumbersome, gray plastic suitcase circa 1950, faded ink and pencil on yellowing notebook paper evidence my adolescent love affair with rhyming. I can only assume that as an even younger child, I aspired to be the next Dr. Seuss. But now, while I have a children’s rhyming epic poem available on Amazon, I don’t try to use rhyme as much more than a soothing sounding reminder that happiness thrives on equilibrium.  

Allow me to explain.

In the U.S. school system, learning to write poetry often means practicing rhyming poetry or Haiku. Haiku is exotic and fun. But rhyme fits nicely with the way we’re taught to read and mimics many a song we sing, from Twinkle, Twinkle to Row, Row to ABCDEFG. The bards of old were largely rhymers. We learn that, too. And then, God help us, there’s Hallmark.

It was in college that I learned to become cynical of rhyme. Contemporary poets and peers who sought security in even the less obvious internal rhyme of words like “though” and “towing” or visual rhyme like “gain” and “again” were not to be trusted. They might be writing greeting card verse under pen names, whispered the literary conspiracy theorists among the student body. Better play it safe and not invite them to read at the coffeehouse.

All those poor, would-be writers who submitted poems to the college anthology – rhyme landed their work into the overflowing circular file. We were ruthless snobs still trying to uncover latent greatness in ourselves and could only think to do so by denigrating others, based on rhyme.

So now when young writers ask me, “Is it okay to write rhyming poetry?” my answer is inevitably, 

“Anything is okay. But what do you want to do with your poetry?”

If you aren’t writing for anyone but yourself, go ahead and rhyme as much as you like.

If you are writing for Hallmark, rhyme as much as they like and as much as they assume the audience likes.

If you are writing for editors who don’t know rhyme from rhythm and parrot whatever trend they are encouraged to latch on to, avoid rhyme.

But if you want to use the inherent music of same-sounding words in tasteful combinations that enhance readers’ and listeners’ experience, then have at it. Just work at it.

I won’t tell you I always use rhyme in pleasing ways, and I probably don’t use it in academically acceptable ways, either. I’ve never been a trendy poet (if poets can be trendy). I probably fall somewhere between those who write for themselves and those who seek tasteful combinations of same-sounding words. And for me, that’s okay. My poetry is published. Some like it. Some don’t. But when I hear my work in my head, the cadence of common sense and balance makes me exceedingly happy. And that’s where I want to be.
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Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, M.Ed. writes poetry and prose from her basement office, dubbed the #PurplePalace, where her large-ish dogs lounge on purple mandala pillows and violet froufrou abounds. Besides being featured in dozens of journals and magazines, she has published three collections of poetry and a children’s illustrated epic poem. Katherine is a founding member and current VP of Write by the Rails, the Prince William chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, and VP of Content Marketing for Prince William Living magazine. Learn more about her at www.KatherineGotthardt.com.



Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Question Most Asked of Authors?


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



When asked where author’s get their stories, I look around me. After all we only need to look around to see all sorts of ideas. Then it is a matter of choosing an idea and turning our imaginations loose. Before we know it, we have a story started. Then comes the fun, fleshing it out.

As children we had great imaginations. I remember my sister and I had lots of paper dolls. We would always use the bed, it had the most space, and make great houses for them. We entertained ourselves many afternoons just making up stories as we played with those paper dolls.

At birthday parties, we would sit in a circle, boys and girls, and the birthday girl/boy got to choose the first sentence. Then we would go around to each person, and they would add a sentence to the story, until the very last person, which had to use a sentence to end the story.  It was so much fun.
Children have a freedom that allows their imaginations to soar as they make up all sorts of tales. As we become adults, we seem to lose some of that freedom that allows our imaginations to take flight.

Everywhere we go, we can find people, settings, and if we are close enough sometimes, we can hear conversations. Even at our own dining room tables with families gathered we may hear a few nuggets to mine for story ideas. Just don’t use their names. 

In current events you find suspense, mysteries, thrillers and sweet romance. Just look, listen and let your imagination do the work.

If you write historical fiction, then you will find the past is a gold mine just waiting for you. My goodness, you have a plethora of information to choose from––in any era. And if you like research, this is a dream come true.

One writer I know loves to go to the mall and walk around, visit the shops. She jots down all sorts of words from conversations. She may only get four or five words, but she can take those words and make a few pages out of them. Her imagination is great.

Another friend takes a note pad to the mall and jots down expressions on the faces she encounters. Listing hair colors and shapes, unusual clothing and how people walk.  She says it helps her in developing her characters.


When I was in the hospital a few weeks back, I started paying close attention to things going on around me; the people, the doctors, nurses, and the situations occurring. One night I woke up and they were announcing over their intercom system a “code blue” where they were doing a heart cath. Later that night they announced a “code yellow” describing the person and what they were wearing. This meant a patient was missing. Hospitals have great ideas for stories. I would suggest however you not go as a patient to gather this material but perhaps visit.




Monday, November 19, 2018

Qualified or Not, Here I Come


By Debora M. Coty


Shortly after my first three national magazine articles were published, a conversation with an acquaintance stopped me cold.  

“Excuse me, did I hear that you’ve been published?” the wannabe writer asked, drawing her tall frame close to peer down at my short, stubby self.

“Why, yes,” I naively replied, smiling in anticipation of the accolade sure to follow.

“And what exactly qualifies you to be a writer?” (She knew I was a career occupational therapist.) “Did you take journalism classes in college?”

“Well, no …”

“Are you an English major?” she asked in an impeccably crisp tone. “Or Literature, perhaps?”

“Not exactly.” Had someone suddenly cranked up the furnace?

“Then how, may I ask, are you qualified to be a writer?” She stood glaring, arms crossed, and lips pursed.

For once in my life, I was speechless. Struck by a bolt of divine inspiration, I slowly shook my head. “I guess I’m not. You’re absolutely right. I’m not qualified to be a writer. But let me tell you something really funny – there are three editors out there who think I am.”

Yep, feeling qualified to write can be a real toe-stomper. Many aspiring writers start out enthusiastically pursuing their calling but begin to feel decidedly uncalled when they hit typical roadblocks: tenth draft depression, writers block, manuscript purgatory, writer envy, missed deadlines, critic crud, enough rejections to paper-mache a rhinoceros …

All writers – regardless of how “qualified” they are – encounter obstacles on their respective writing journeys. But the successful ones are the ones that persevere through the poo.

Hey, manure is just an occupational hazard of the profession. Writers, like jockeys, must simply wipe the poo off their boots, step over the piles and keep moving forward.

I was not only unqualified, I was a late bloomer, beginning my writing career at age 45 when my youngest chick flew the coop. Prior to that, I’d been an orthopedic hand therapist and piano teacher for 25 years, not exactly comprehensive training for a writer. But I was too stubborn (or stupid) to realize what I was attempting couldn’t be done. 

Progressing from magazine articles to newspaper columns to books, I didn’t see a penny of profit the first five years. I was counseled countless times to give up; let the real writers write. 

But after 10 years, 200+ articles, and 40 books, I began to see five-digit royalty checks. I was blessed with literary awards, numerous speaking engagements and the respect of the inspirational writing community.

Funny; no one calls me unqualified anymore.

So, I challenge you, my fellow sojourner, whatever pile of poo you’re currently struggling with in your writing journey, don’t let it suck you down. Keep high-stepping through the muck, remind yourself every day that you create your own qualifications and continue moving forward. No matter what.  
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Debora M. Coty is a popular speaker, columnist and award-winning author of over 40 books, including the newest release in her bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Deb lives, loves and laughs half the year in wicked-hot Florida and half in the cool North Carolina mountains. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at DeboraCoty.com.   


Friday, November 16, 2018

REACH YOUR TARGET MARKET or PERISH



By Steve Bradshaw


Global book publishing is a robust $112 billion industry. To put that into some perspective, the global recorded music industry is a mere $16 billion. Although these numbers present an enormous opportunity, authors seeking success today face a very different world than the greats of the 20th century.

Earnest Hemmingway, J.D. Salinger and John Steinbeck wrote their ground-breaking novels more than fifty years ago. In the 1950s, when Hemmingway stood at his chest-of-drawers and pounded out For Whom the Bell Tolls on his Royal Deluxe typewriter, I suspect the most influential author of the day spent little time thinking about his target markets or his productivity goals. Hemmingway and the other greats of that day lived in a world very different. They had half the population, a sliver of the competition, and minimal competing technologies. The Hemmingways of the world could focus on the creation of their masterpieces. Most authors today do not have that luxury.

Unlike Agatha Christie (85 books) and Dean Koontz (91 books) and many more of the most successful, modern-day authors, Hemmingway achieved his greatness with just seven books published, three more posthumously. The Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Peace Prize recipient created exceptional literary works and set the bar high. Today an author must deliver a quality product or perish. However unlike the 20th century the great authors of this day can be swept away in the tsunami of titles that flow into the world each year regardless of the quality of their work.

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) reports 2,233,893 new books published worldwide last year. Amazon adds ~1,000,000 new titles each year. The Pew Research Center recently reported 65% of Americans read at least one printed book a year. The average is twelve printed books a year (the median four). They also reported 28% of Americans read at least one eBook, and 14% listen to at least one audiobook.  Based on the current U.S. population, Pew’s findings translate into 214,000,000 printed books, 92,000,000 eBooks, and 46,000,000 audiobooks sold in a year. How many of the combined 352,000,000 books sold in America were yours?

Regardless of the decade or century it is safe to say all writers like to write. It is also safe to say all writers want to be read. Unlike the Hemmingway days the writing talent in the world is a hundred-fold greater in numbers, more educated, and more equipped to produce high-quality literary products. As reported by UNESCO, a morass of new titles pours into the world every year now. Would the J.D. Salingers and Ralph Ellisons and Harper Lees and Truman Capotes be found today? Probably not! Are there undiscovered greats walking among us? Yes! Why those answers? And what can we do about it?

Most writers today do not have the luxury of just focusing on the creative process and the quality of their product (book). Most must also identify and aggressively pursue their piece of their target market. More than ever before a writer must understand their market, the segments, trends, and market expectations. Doing the marketing research today (or paying for it) allows you to shape your unique promotional strategy that increases your chances for discovery and success.

Do you know who reads your books—age, gender, education, social media practices, entertainment preferences, and the like? Do you know how your target market finds the books they read? Do you know how they like to experience a book—printed, digital, audio, at launch, on sale, etc.? Did you know printed books are most preferred today, and sales are increasing? Did you know eBook sales are flat, and more people are moving away from eBook readers to tablets and smartphones? Did you know audiobooks are peaking at 14% of the market? If you did not know these basics, I suggest you start doing your research.

Do you believe you write as good as some of the bestselling authors? I would bet writers with five or more published books in the world know their work is good. I also suspect they are focused on writing their next novel and implementing their marketing plan. Do not accept low and slow sales. 

Do not be patient. And do not stop writing. Just market your babies with the same intensity that created them. Unless you are a New York Times bestseller with one of the big five publishers, your great works may never be discovered unless you do your research and implement a sensible market plan.

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Steve Bradshaw writes international mystery/thrillers. He draws upon his experience as a forensic investigator and the founder, President/CEO of an innovative biomedical venture. Steve writes lightning-paced forensic thrillers and speaks at companies and organizations about fascinating worlds of forensic investigation, fringe science, and pursuit of new ventures. Steve has six published novels in softcover and eBooks. His audiobook collection releases the end of 2018. Excerpts of all books can be viewed on his website, stevebradshaw.org. To schedule Steve for speaking and book signing events call (901) 230-7343.