Do You Know What the Forgotten Media Is?


The clue is: listen.

Image courtesy of sippakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of sippakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I listened to a great webinar this week hosted by Steve Harrison about selling books on the…not internet, not Facebook, not Twitter, not in a store, not even on television (I feel like Dr. Seuss and Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham)…but, are you ready for this?

Radio.

Yep. You read that right. The forgotten media of radio. Some of you (though I doubt it) may remember an era before internet and even before television when people used to listen to radio as their sole source of information and entertainment. “My, my…” (as my grandmother often said) isn’t that unbelievable?

Yet radio is still alive and well. My guess is you may still listen to radio in your car on the way to work and the way home. Unless you are playing your song list through your phone or on Spotify. So why, with a captive audience of hundreds of thousands of people do we not think to market our books on radio?

Perhaps you are. Maybe you do.

I confess I didn’t give it much thought until an author friend, Sherry Kyle, mentioned she was doing a radio interview for her latest book, Watercolor Dreams, released just last month.

Say what??

Then came the webinar with Alex Carroll who has made a lifestyle from talking about his book on the radio. (I don’t advocate his book, but I was impressed with his plan, his persistence and all the free information he shared with his listeners. It made a lot of sense.

I wish I could share it all here.

Next week, I’ll give some of the highlights. But if you are interested to find out more or to purchase Alex’s complete package, you can check out http://www.radiopublicity.com/ (I don’t make anything from this. I just thought it was some great information.)

What’s your experience with radio publicity?

 

 

 

Does This Mean War?


My daughter is studying the Civil War for history.Kookaburras at Australia Zoo

As I’ve prepared her lessons, read books, directed her projects and watched Gone with the Wind and Shenandoah, I’ve been struck by the analogy to the current trend in publishing. Not to make light of the tragedy of our American Civil War, nor to imply that the publishing world holds the same weight as the potential division of a nation and the issue of slavery. Nonetheless, I find some similarities between the two.

Traditionalists fight for a publishing norm and standard. Publishing has been handled a particular way for centuries. Authors submit their labored words in hope they will capture the attention of those in charge of determining who is worthy of publication. If so deemed, contracts are made in which, ideally, both the publisher and the author will be satisfied with, well, let’s be honest, sales. As we’ve been reminded, even in Christian circles, publishing is a business, after all.

Indies (self-publishers) desire freedom on various levels. Freedom to write and publish whatever moves them. Freedom to retain more of the income from their hard work. The ability to write and publish when they wish rather than waiting for the long process of submitting, waiting for acceptance (am I good enough?) and finally the time allotment for release date and length of time on the shelves. They may not be convinced the publishers actually have their best interests in mind.

Compelling arguments exist on both sides.

My traditionally published author friend, Sherry Kyle, (Delivered with Love, The Heart Stone, The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style and The Girl’s Guide to Your Dream Room) made some valid points in a conversation yesterday.

  1. Publishers have access to retail connections. Her upcoming book (Watercolor Dreams October 2014) is already listed on Amazon for pre-order and in catalogues.
  2. An agent deals with all the financial aspects and details of finding avenues for publishing. I thought about the difference between having a real estate agent and selling your home yourself—having been an agent once, I would never sell my house without one. The business, legal and financial dealings are too complicated without the trained knowledge an agent provides.
  3. While traditional publishers are paying less and expecting more from their authors in the realm of marketing, they at least have marketing plans and connections already set in place.
  4. In addition, a publisher edits (invaluable) and creates a cover design. Two crucial aspects.

Self-publishing offers advantages as well. Since I’ve recently released my first book (The Miracle of Us: Confessions on an Online Dater) which I self-published through CreateSpace, I’ve learned a little about that option. These are the benefits I see:

  1. Self-publishers earn more in royalties.  Thirty to fifty percent versus five to twenty percent. And we know exactly how many copies have sold every day. No guessing or waiting for statements.
  2. An author can publish as many books as fast as he/she can write, edit and format them. No limit, no waiting. That builds a momentum of keeping readers reading. How many times have you finished a book by an author you loved only to find you had to wait a year until the next book was available? I know enough authors to know this isn’t always because they aren’t writing books fast enough. I can think of two series I quit reading because I lost interest waiting and went on to find another book to read.
  3. Readers set the standard of what they will read rather than a publisher choosing what they think will sell.
  4. Self-published authors are not limited to a brand created for them by a publisher. A couple of articles convinced me of this situation. Both told of well-known authors who sold numerous traditionally published books in particular genres. When they wrote outside that genre, publishers, even though they loved their work, refused to publish their new projects because it didn’t fit their brand.  Publishers and agents will say “choose one type of writing and stick with it.” That may make sense from a business perspective, but what if an author feels like writing something else? What if I feel God leading me to delve into fiction, but I’ve been branded as a non-fiction author? Self-publishing allows for variety.

I haven’t decided what I’d like to do with my next, nearly completely book. I always thought I’d submit to an agent and go the traditional route. I’ve spent a few years honing my craft and building a network for that very reason. But, I’m also tempted by these new benefits. I’ve heard great persuasions from both sides. Some authors do both successfully.

In the Civil War, the Union won, keeping the nation together and abolishing slavery.

Although, that victory didn’t necessarily change the hearts of all people. I’d like to think that in the battle of the book, both sides will bring good to the table. In the end, millions of readers have a smorgasbord of brilliant (and sometimes not so brilliant) writing to choose from whether from traditionally published or self-published authors.

What do you think? Traditionalist or Indie? Or…both?

What Does the Reader Want?


Who do I write for?

An agent, publisher, myself, my reader? The general masses or a specific few? Maybe we write for profit, maybe we write for fun, or perhaps to heal by telling our story. Yet again.

It could be, the telling encourages others, or lifts our spirits and soothes our souls. It may challenge, instruct, or offer experiential advice. Sometimes, it simply entertains.

It’s a dilemma for most writers.

We long to write. Stories or non-fiction pours out of our brains and into our fingers through our keyboard and onto the page. Creativity expressed without much initial thought as to whether I’m writing for a niche or my Aunt Matilda’s reading group.

But what do we do when people, agents, publishers start telling us what to write? I’m not talking about writing advice, I’m talking about career advice and life direction. I’ve been struggling with this question.

I’m not sure what the average reader wants. IMG_4535

Thousands of authors turn out new works every day. There are more Amish books out there right now than I can ever imagine reading, yet I’ve read my share. My reading habits are varied and not the same as anyone else. I’m currently reading Sherry Kyle (romance), John Grisham(legal thrillers), a book about Rabbi Jesus (Lois Tverberg) and books for my eighth graders literature/history classes. And, my Bible.

This is my conclusion.

Maybe what readers need is a better point. And I don’t know that either. But God knows. He knows who will be inspired, touched, challenged, entertained or advised through whatever I write. So I’ve decided to write whatever God gives me to write at any given time. Sometimes it’s just plain fun. Most of the time it blows me away. Always, I’m amazed at how it seems to help someone in some way.

So I guess only God knows what a reader wants or needs. If I write for him, he’ll make it be for others. He’ll put it into the right hands at the right time.

What do you write or read?

 

 

Time for a Makeover


Yes, I’m in the middle of a rewrite. Again.

But that’s not the makeover I’m talking about. The makeover to which I refer is the one the girls in your life can experience upon reading Sherry Kyle’s new book, The Girl’s Guide to your Dream Room.

A timeless treasure chest of stories, ideas, quizzes, and practical advice, The Girl’s Guide to your Dream Room, opens a new world of design for young ladies. In addition, it leads them through short Bible applications that tie in with each chapter’s theme. Your girls will enjoy the Interior Design 101 sections which offer lessons in art, decor, furnishings and more. This fun filled, DIY guide also offers Tiny Tips for room decorating and organization.

The easy to read layout made it fun to explore.   DSC_0047 (2)

My 13 year old daughter, Bella, has enjoyed taking the quizzes and filling out brief questionnaires to discover the styles and colors that best suit her. After reading and doing the activities in the first chapter, she came to find me, full of excitement and room design ideas she wants to implement as soon as she can!  Needless to say, she loves the book. We are even using it for her home schooling art classes since it has so much incredible information and project ideas.

And the book came with a key chain!

That, of course, made it an instant hit with Bella.

Highly recommended, a lot of fun, packed with great info – a great Christmas gift idea.

Go to Sherry’s website to order or for more of her fabulous books.

Ready for an Enjoyable Read?


Newest Release

Author, Sherry Kyle, has written a delightful novel that weaves a thread of forgiveness and redemption throughout the lives of four very real and loveable characters.

“When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappers in their lives, Jessica and her son go to her Uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?”

The Heart Stone was hard to put down.

The romantic possibility and tension as well as intriguing suspense kept me engaged and guessing. Jacob, the 6 year old son, had me smiling and even brought an outright laugh. By the end, I felt as if these characters were my friends who had overcome obstacles and grown emotionally and spiritually. I wished the book didn’t have to end.

Sherry Kyle’s gift as a connector of people shines in her novels which rekindle and reconcile relationships. I believe Sherry’s ability as a writer grows with each new release. I can’t wait for the next one.

Well done, Sherry.

The Heart Stone, Published by Abingdon Press released on April 1, 2013 and is available from these retailers:

Cokesbury

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

What are books you’ve enjoyed reading lately?

Are You Ready?


It’s almost here.

The best of the best Christian writing conferences will educate and encourage writers in only two weeks; and it’s practically in my backyard!

There’s still time to register for Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, but you have to act now.

Watch the video and you’ll see what writers are saying about this amazing conference. (And you can see two seconds – 1:13-1:14 of me attentively listening to a panel of agents.)

I can’t say enough about the wonderful people I’ve met at the conference. I’ve made friends and acquaintances and received some of the best writing advice in the industry.  Authors such as Sherry Kyle, Cheryl Ricker, Karen O’Connor, Kay Strom, Mary DeMuth, Lauraine Snelling, Karen Ball, James Scott Bell, just to name a few! (You don’t mind if I drop a few names…)

New writers, such as my friend and roommate from last year, Miriam Sarzotti, as well a seasoned authors, like Brandilyn Collins, who will be my writing mentor this year, mingle together in class, in worship and over delicious meals.

One of the best values of the conference is the opportunity to submit TWO manuscripts for critique or editor/agent review without additional cost. I’ve gained such valuable input from having my writing critiqued by well-known authors. And even if you don’t get your manuscript in before the conference (which I highly recommend), there are authors/editors available for critiques and questions during the afternoons.

In the evenings, a key-note speaker (this year: McNair Wilson) delivers an inspirational message that encourages you not only in your writing, but also in your every-day life. It amazes me each year how God speaks to every area of my life and ties it all together.

Everyone at the conference believes in you and considers it their privilege to encourage and uplift you. They will tell you the truth about your ability and help you find the right avenue for your particular writing goals.

Whether you consider yourself an amateur writer or a professional, there’s a place for you at Mt. Hermon. I’m thrilled to be able to attend again this year. I hope to see you there!

What’s your experience? Have you attended Mt. Hermon or any other conferences you’ve found particularly helpful?

How to Make Your Writing Goals SMART


Last year one of my goals was to open a Twitter account.  IMG_4050

On December 31, 2011 I posted my first tweet. I don’t think I would have done that if I had only thought or even said to myself that I should start tweeting. I knew it was something that would help my writing career; social networking builds platform, right? But without a clear, specific, measurable goal, I would have gone on thinking about something I should do, but probably wouldn’t have done it or at least not for a long time.

This week I met another goal!

I submitted my first proposal to an agency. Again, while I knew it was the next step, and headed in that direction, it took a specific, measurable goal to accomplish it. My writer friend encouraged me to submit it within a few days of us talking or wait until after the holidays. That specific deadline challenged me in the best way to take care of something on my writing list in a timely matter. Without a measurable goal, you know the story…I’d probably be sitting here working in short bursts of “shoulds”. Instead, I have a proposal sitting in an agent’s office. (Thank you Sherry!)

But how do I make my goals S.M.A.R.T?

Most of us self-motivators have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, introduced by Paul J. Meyer in Attitude is Everything.  These goals are: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.  Let’s see how we can convert some “shoulds” into SMART goals.

Instead try: By the end of this year, I will open a Twitter account and post my first tweet.

This is a specific, measurable and time-bound goal because I listed a particular action to be accomplished within a set time period.  At first, a Twitter account didn’t seem attainable because I’m not very accomplished with technology, but as it didn’t require a degree or special class, I could attain it by simply checking into it. The goal became more relevant as I blogged and wrote more to build a platform.

  • I should learn my craft.

Instead try: I will attend at least one writing conference this year and practice writing by turning out 1,000 words per day. Or I will subscribe to Writer’s Digest and read each issue to learn my craft; and I will practice by writing 500 words per day.

You can see that naming an action like attending a course or subscribing to and reading a magazine and actually writing a specified number of words each day is specific, measurable, relevant and time-bound. Attainable may depend on your finances or time so adjust as your resources allow. If you need to work an extra three hours per month to save money for a conference, that can be an additional goal.

  • I should work on my novel.

Instead try: On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I will spend two hours writing my novel. Or, I will edit my novel from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. every morning until its finished.

  • I should look for an agent.

Instead try: By (fill in date), I will choose five agents from the list on Michael Hyatt’s website.

  • I should submit a proposal to said agent.

Instead try: By Friday of this week I will submit my proposal to the first agent of five on my list. After three weeks, if I have not heard anything, I will submit to the next agent. (Make sure these agents accept simultaneous submissions.)

 

I think you get the idea. Make it specific, doable and with a deadline.

Happy writing!

What ways have you made goal setting work for you? Has this post been helpful? I’d love to hear from you!

Writing a Novel


I wrote my first novel in high school.

DSC_0026

Well, okay, so I didn’t exactly write an entire novel; it was more like twenty pages and a little character development. The idea, birthed from my addiction to romantic fiction, sprang from my pencil (yes, pencil) onto the lined pages of my spiral bound notebook (my writing tool of choice). Give me a break. That was in 1975! Who knew one day we’d have laptops and iPads??

I didn’t know anything about writing a novel except from what I’d read. I knew I longed to grace a page with words that would thrill, inspire and change lives. But what began with lofty dreams ended the moment I became stuck with technicalities. How could I create a scene to scene plot that made sense and moved the reader into the story and through an adventure? Even as I learned about rising action, climax and resolution, I had no clue how to make it work in the context of an actual manuscript. My creative beginnings ended as abruptly as they commenced.

Sometimes I feel as lost now as I did then.

I’ve attended novel writing classes at Mt. Hermon (thank you James Scott Bell!) and studied my notes from numerous workshops. CD’s have poured forth wise words of writing technique while I’ve driven to various meetings with fellow writers. My eyes and ears remain open and attentive as I listen to authors share their secrets of hard work (thank you Sherry Kyle, Karen O’Connor and Susanne Larkin). I peruse author sites and read the Writer’s Guide. But sometimes, I feel like such an amateur still. I guess I still am.

I want to write a really good novel.

I always said I’d never write a novel until I could write as well as my favorite author, Francine Rivers. Her books change your life. I’ve never read one that didn’t bring me to tears of revelation, healing and joy. In a novel! To write like that takes dedication, hard work and the hand of God. But I guess every author has to start somewhere.

So I’m writing a practice novel.

Since the only way to learn to write is to actually put the words out there, I decided to try. The plot overall is easy enough to create, but I get hung up with the scenes. I tend to tell too much, I think, instead of letting time pass and jumping into the story like one might have leapt onto a slow moving train in days past. Sometimes the characters run away with the story and do things I’m not ready for which leaves me questioning whether I know what I’m doing at all.

I guess the point is that being a writer means writing. Yes, learning all I can is helpful, but unless I put into practice that which I’ve learned the learning will be pointless. I love to hear the stories of other writers’ struggles. It makes me feel less an amateur. Care to share?

What are your novel writing experiences? What inspires you or discourages you?