Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Industry News and October Book Sales Figures

A little industry news to wrap up the year...

From All Things D -Apple launched its Newsstand feature this past fall, giving newspapers and magazines their own dedicated shelf space, in hopes of boosting sales. According to Apple, it has, and it’s also boosted the sales of magazines. Popular Science reported a large increase in subscriptions when the Newsstand feature launched. As always, there are lovers and haters on both sides. Either way, more media are moving towards paperless.
How do you feel about reading a magazine on a tablet?

Want to find a bookstore in North America? Publisher’s Weekly has an interactive MAP that also shows where Borders used to reside, as Books-A-Million is now moving into some of those sites.
Since bookstores are slowly dying, I do have to wonder if that’s a smart move on BAM’s part. I’m not a fan of BAM (most disorganized bookstore I’ve ever seen) but will you shop at a former Borders turned BAM?

And the downward spiral continues...
According to Publisher’s Weekly, Ebook sales rose 81% in October while sales of physical books were down except for Religious titles, which saw an increase of 12.4%. Mass markets took the biggest hit - sales were down 37.6%.
Are you buying more Ebooks and less paperbacks?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Industry News About EBooks and Christmas Giveaway Winners

CBS News posted an article - Will Publishers Kill Amazon’s Golden Goose?

Big publishers are starting to push the price of their ebooks up again. Since ereaders such as the Kindle require an investment to begin with, this could hurt sale. Who will get hurt more - publishers, Amazon, or both?

The New York Times featured an article - Pulp Fiction: The Kindle Debate

It’s in response to an earlier article concerning the dissatisfaction of Kindle Fire owners. It does end with a note that Amazon does have the advantage, even though the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet is better and the Apple Ipad years ahead of either device.

Anyone care to share your thoughts?

And the winners of the Christmas Giveaway-

One print copy-  
A Southpaw’s POV - Holly
Cruising Altitude - DL
Ciara Knight

One ebook copy -
Sia McKye
Visiting Reality - Linda
Nancy Williams

Congrats, everyone! Send me an email and let me know what book you want.(The Circle of Friends Books I-V or Overcoming Obstacles.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Déjà vu Blogfest

Hosted by DL at Cruising Altitude
On December 16th all of those taking part will re-post their favorite blog offering, or one that never received the exposure it should have.

This post originally appeared May of this year, but as I continue to get hits and comments, I thought repeating it would be good.

Writing From a Male POV  

Writing from the point of view of the opposite sex can be challenging. Viewing the world from another perspective requires that we abandon our natural instincts. Since the books in my series, The Circle of Friends, featured a male lead, I had to understand the differences.

I read dozens of relationship books, seeking to comprehend the distinct qualities of the male gender. The books that provided me with the most insight were Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus and the Connecting With Your Husband/Wife series. Men and women really do view the world through different eyes!

- Men are not detail-oriented, at least not in the area of observation. They are focused on the big picture. When a man walks into a room, it’s doubtful he will notice the pattern on the couch or the smell of flowers by the window.

- Men tend to process information internally. While a woman will discuss her situation with friends, a man will privately think through his problems. Men tend to internalize rather than verbalize when seeking an answer. If he does discuss the situation, he wants answers not support.

- Because men normally do not discuss their problems, they use fewer words than women – by half! They tend to verbalize facts and opinions rather than feelings, too.

- Men focus better than women, who rely more on ‘diffused awareness.’ Once a man selects a course of action, little can distract him. While women multi-task with ease, men tend to focus on one thing at a time.

- Due to the amount of testosterone a man’s brain receives before he is born, he cannot think both logically and emotionally at the same time. Thus, when a man offers a logical explanation, a woman’s emotional reasoning simply doesn’t compute. And when a man grows angry, rationalizing with him is difficult as logic has gone out the window at that point.

- Men are not as emotionally expressive as their female counterparts. They are simply not wired in that manner.

- Last but not least, women seek to connect emotionally while men seek to connect… physically. The stirrings of love in a man come from physical attraction and contact first, emotional attachment second.

While all of that may appear to be stereotyping, it does provide a fundamental base for the male POV. Environment, background, and basic personality type also factor into the equation.

Armed with this knowledge, I found writing from a male perspective much easier. It was refreshing to discard my women intuitions and interpretations and just deal with the basics. I’d say it was almost liberating!

Are you comfortable writing from the opposite sex's POV?

Today is the last day for the Christmas Special Giveaway!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Amazon's KDP Select - Author Beware

Last week Amazon’s KDP Select program was announced to authors and small publishers:

"Here's how KDP Select works:

When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund. The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012. If you haven't checked it out already, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates.

You'll also now have access to a new set of promotional tools, starting with the option to promote your KDP Select-enrolled titles for FREE for up to 5 days every 90 days."

Sounds like a good deal, right?

Ah, but there’s always a downside and authors need to be aware they are giving up their rights to distribute their books elsewhere.

The Writers Beware Blog had this to say:

"Also important to consider, if you're thinking of participating: you must be willing to distribute your work exclusively on the Kindle. Here is the relevant language:
1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.
This is a grant of rights and a non-competition clause all in one, and authors need to think carefully before agreeing to it."

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, had this to say on the Smashwords blog:

When authors enroll a title in the program, they're contractually obligated to remove their books from all other distribution channels.

Wow. Most indie authors appreciate their independence. This rule is quite restrictive.

Impact on authors:
* Forces the author to remove the book from sale from the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Smashwords and others, thereby causing the author to lose out on sales from competing retailers.
* By unpublishing a title from any retailer, the author destroys any accrued sales rank, making their book less visible and less discoverable when and if they reactivate distribution to competing retailers.
* Makes the author more dependent upon Amazon for sales. Do you want to become a tenant farmer, 100% dependent upon a single retailer?

Yes, Amazon is the largest online retailer and the Kindle the #1 selling ereader. But B&N’s Nook is tied for second. Apple’s devices are also right behind Amazon’s Kindle. And the Apple IPad accounts for 88% of all tablet sales. 88%!!! Add in the Kobo and all of the other ereaders, and that’s a large slice of the pie you are losing.

Amazon wants to do it all - publish and distribute - and in the end, control. And when one company has total control, it’s not good for consumers, retailers, or the economy.

Authors beware…

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Snutt the Ift - Finding a Gem at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

When Rana DiOrio visits the Bologna Children’s Book Fair each spring in Italy, it isn’t just to market her own titles for Little Pickle Press, the publishing company she formed several years ago. She is also looking for foreign rights acquisitions, particularly picture books with stunning artwork and stories that fit her award-winning collection. At the last show, she acquired a title by popular UK artist and illustrator, Helen Ward, a reclusive artist represented by Templar Publishing since her graduation from art school. For some of us, obtaining foreign rights to a book might sound daunting, but Rana DiOrio has a former life as an attorney, so when asked how the entire process transpired, here is what she had to say:

I found the book myself in the Templar booth. I quickly brought our Foreign Rights Agent, Sylvia Hayse, over with me to see if she liked it as much as I did. She did. 

We subsequently set up a meeting with David McMillan, Templar’s U.S. sales manager. Sylvia continued her dialogue with David after the Fair. We inked our deal on July 25, 2011. As part of the agreement, Templar and Helen agreed to let us change the title, subject to Helen's final approval. The pub date was September 2011. 

That is lightening-fast timing! 

An important consideration in the contract is one that every agent and publisher is negotiating these days, and that’s the issue of digital and other rights. Because Little Pickle Press is a B Corporation and has a strong environmental focus, all the books are printed in North America with recycled papers using soy inks. But another major part of their production model involves digital, product, and performance assets for all their titles. So the negotiations with Templar Publishing included rights to create e-books, enhanced iBooks, posters, apps, and even original music for the North American market.

The book was first published as Wonderful Life in England, but that title was entirely too reminiscent of the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. So the title was changed to Snutt the Ift, after the main character, and was thus re-born in North America.

What is the book about? Please take a peek at the content by watching the lovely book trailer:

The story, about two explorers from different species and different worlds, who nevertheless discover common ground, will strike a warm and resonant note with anyone who has ever felt homesick or lonely or lost. It’s a children’s picture book, yes, but the message, like most classic children’s literature, will also resonate with adults. Consider giving it to your best friend. BUY HERE

Readers, if you have questions for Ms. DiOrio, please leave them in the comments. Also, there is a grand prize driving for nine award-winning Little Pickle Press books if you sign up for their monthly newsletter at their website or blog. May the best fan win!

A little about the author: 
Helen Ward has written and illustrated children’s books for over twenty years. She trained at the Brighton School of Art under such well-known illustrators as Raymond Briggs, Justin Todd, and John Vernon Lord and has accrued numerous awards and accolades for her work, including twice winning the prestigious National Art Library Illustration Award. 
Helen’s illustrations are renowned for their vitality and painstaking attention to detail, and this is never more in evidence than in the fantastical, imaginative world she has created in Snutt the Ift, a Small But Significant Chapter in the Life of the Universe. Originally published in the United Kingdom as Wonderful Life by Templar Publishing, the poignant story speaks to all who have discovered the elevated beauty of a world shared with kindred spirits. The message will resonate with those who understand, value, and seek true friendship. A children’s picture book, this book speaks to adults as well, and makes a lovely gift for all ages especially during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group Post

Today’s post is for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

A recent post by Elizabeth Craig asked the question - what are your writer goals?

I realized, I didn’t have any.

Not that I don’t have goals. I’m big on goal-setting. It’s just that my goals don’t include writing anymore.

After an incredibly busy fall and the events of last month, my perspective has changed a bit. As I stated last month, I am juggling many things. Too many things. I am ready to cut back and focus on what I enjoy.

I’ll be setting my goals for next year and making some changes soon.

Anyone else in need of a little change?

And if you missed it, I am holding a Christmas Special Giveaway.


Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Giveaway Special!

As a thank you to all of my blogger friends and faithful fans, I have a special giveaway for you.

There are two parts to the giveaway:

1 - Comment to win a free book -
Must be a follower & comment - 2 points
Tweet this giveaway #SpunkyChristmas - 5 points
Post giveaway with button in sidebar of blog - 5 points
Post giveaway on Facebook - 5 points
Blog post about giveaway - 10 points

Three physical books and three ebooks will be given out to six random winners - the more points, the more times you are entered! Book is winner’s choice.

Contest runs until December 16, 2011 - winners announced on December 19, 2011

2 - Purchase a book to receive free book -

Buy any book from the list below and receive free books!

Purchase a print copy and receive ONE free, autographed copy of your choice.
Purchase an ebook copy and receive TWO free ebooks of your choice.

Books must be purchased between December 1 -16, 2011. Send copy of receipt from any retailer to wolferock@earthlink.net and let me know which book(s) you want. Don’t forget a snail mail address for print books!

Qualifying books:

Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting
Non-fiction - self-help/inspiration
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-2-9  $13.95
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-2-1  $1.99

The Circle of Friends series -Fiction - YA:
Book I…Lori
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-0-5  $20.95
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9816210-8-1  $1.99

Book II…Sarah
ISBN 978-0-9816210-1-2  $20.95
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9816210-9-8  $2.99

Book III…James
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-3-6  $19.95
Ebook ISBN 978-09827139-0-7  $2.99

Book IV…Mike
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-4-3  $19.95
Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-1-4  $2.99

Book V…Heather
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-5-0  $19.95
Ebook ISBN978-0-9816210-7-4  $2.99

Books available retail and online and in all ebook formats.
For a full description to all books, click the tab above marked ‘Books’

You have until December 16 - now go!

And Merry Christmas! (Doesn't Spunky look festive and happy?)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Promotions That Don't Break The Bank

Promotion special today as I welcome Bob Sanchez to share some ideas with you. Book promotion takes time, effort, and money - but it shouldn’t take A LOT of money. Bob has some great ideas for you. 

Thanks for inviting me to guest post, Diane.

I thought I’d share some promoting ideas that work and some that don’t. The past couple of years have given me a different perspective on promotions. I spent $150 on a mass mailing to a half million addresses of book buyers and experienced a tiny blip in my book’s Amazon rankings. A friend reported a similar experience, having shelled out more money for a larger mailing.

Someone made money, but not the writers. There is a whole industry profiting from writers’ hopes, with publicity campaigns that include press releases, interviews, and shilling your wares to Hollywood. All of that is money out of your pocket, with no guarantee and little likelihood of getting your investment back. The result is that I, who am normally an affable fellow, am fast becoming a curmudgeon on this topic.

My attitude has become this: Spend little to no money, and do as much as you can on the Internet. Here are a few things you can to increase your book’s exposure:

1. Set up a web site or blog that features your work. You can get a free blog through Blogger and other places. You could hire a web designer, but try doing it yourself with free templates. It’s easier than you might think.

2. Visit other writers’ blogs regularly and leave comments. Often those people will visit your blog in return, and you’ll see what their posts are like.

3. Be sure to get your book reviewed at Midwest Book Review which reviews self-published and small-press books. Your only cost is mailing them a couple of copies, and your chances of getting reviewed there are high.

4. Offer to post reviews of other writers’ books on Amazon in exchange for their reviewing your book. In fact, you can start with me (desertwriter1@gmail.com).

5. When you get a nice review, tell people about it. That applies to Midwest Book Review as well. Most of the world doesn’t read book reviews without a little prompting. Where to brag? Your own blog, Twitter, Facebook, and any writing or book discussion groups you might use.

6. Is your novel available as an ebook? If so, then see if your potential reader would accept an e-copy. That will save you time and money.

7 .If your novel is available on Amazon, let people know, and remind them with a link in your email signature. My own signature, for example, reads:
Bob Sanchez
http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com (links to my blog)
http://tinyurl.com/bobsanchezauthor (links to my Amazon page)

These are just a few ways to build up your Internet presence as an author. Do you have more ideas? Please share them here, and we can all benefit in 2012.

P. S. My latest novel is Little Mountain, and I will be glad to trade Amazon reviews with you.

Thanks for sharing those ideas today, Bob!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Refreshed and Ready to Move Forward

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post. Our trip to see my husband's parents was wonderful and I enjoyed ten days away from home. And the Internet. I think I checked my email twice and that was it.

But it was wonderful to share it with my husband's parents, who were thrilled with our visit:

We didn't do much, but that was fine with me. Went out to eat, went to downtown Little Rock and rode the Trolley, went for some walks, went to a movie. And, we went to see the Big Dam Bridge:

It's one of the largest footbridges in America and it goes across the Big Dam - thus, the name! And we did walk all the way across and back.

And no road trip that passes through Memphis would be complete without a shot of the defunct Pyramid, a really bad idea for an arena. (Too small to be of any use - what was the owner thinking?) I remember a weekend trip to Memphis over twenty years ago and seeing it in the process of being built...

All in all, it was a wonderful time. I so appreciate my husband's parents. Now that my mother is gone, they are my only family. The trip put some things in perspective, too. Going to make some changes next month and make 2012 a better and less jam-packed year.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and didn't lose an eyebrow during the Black Friday sales. I have a special guest this Thursday and then the Weekend Sillies return!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finding Your Own Publishing Path

Today Stephen Tremp talks about publishing and why he chose his current path.

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by. And thanks Diane for hosting me! Today I’m discussing why I’ve gone the self-published road rather than hooking on with a publisher.

Of course, I want one of the New York Big Six (Hatchette Book Groups, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin Group, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) to publish my books, or at least one of their subsidiaries.

But I feel that with publishing, it’s all or nothing. Perhaps I’m missing the point. But I’m not sure what a mid-level publisher can do for me. After querying hundreds of agents and publishers for my novel BREAKTHROUGH, I received interest from a number of mid-level publishers. At first, I was very excited. However, after listening to their pitch, I realized signing on would not be a win-win situation.

Example: First, I would have to do most if not all the marketing and promoting. Isn’t that what self-published authors do? Second, I would have to sign on with them for three to five years (depending on the mid-level publisher). I don’t want to give up that control, unless it’s with one of the New York Big Six. Third, why give someone else a chunk of my money when I’m doing all the work?

I admit I made the terrible, horrendous, bone-headed mistake of originally paying over a thousand dollars to have iUniverse publish BREAKTHROUGH. The problem here is iUniverse makes their money by selling services rather than selling books, and selling books is the name f the game. And their services, from the initial sign-on, to editing packages, to marketing packages (that can cost $7,000 to place your book on a shelf with hundreds of other books at a book fair) are an outrageous rip-off.

I finally woke up and smelled the coffee and left iUniverse for CreateSpace, which was free and gives me a far larger profit than iUniverse could ever do for me. I’m too embarrassed to state what I made off each sale with iUniverse. Needless to say, my commission is far higher with CreateSpace.

Okay, so I’m still querying agents and subsidiaries of the Big Six in hopes someone will pick up OPENING. But I’m under no false illusions. I’m doing just fine self-publishing with CreateSpace, thank you very much. The market has shifted so much the past few years. Little guppies like me swimming in a vast ocean of published and self-published books and ebooks can actually be somewhat successful.

Example: I can buy books directly from CreateSpace for less than $6.00 (including shipping) and sell them for $10.00 - $12.95.  Out of the back of my SUV, to local books stores, and through family and friends across the country and around the world. I’m even working with scores of hotels up and down the southern California coast to carry my book on consignment. And I’m working with the vendors who place books in grocery stores, airports, and pharmacies like Ralph’s (Krogers) and Walgreens. So there is a lot I can do on my own to sell my books at a very mice profit.

How about you. Are you with one of the New York Big Six or their subsidiaries? How about a mid-level publisher? Or are you self-published? I’d like to hear your story and how you got to that place. Again, thanks for stopping by!

Thanks, Stephen! I learned the hard way about subsidy presses such as iUniverse, too. We learn and move on!

Visit him at his blog, Facebook, and Twitter Purchase Breakthrough at Amazon and Smashwords

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seizing Opportunities!

My very special guest today is fellow Dancing Lemur Press author, Charlette Denise Sutton. I’ve known Denise for many years and she’s an accomplished author and songwriter. Her Ebook, Seizing Opportunities That Propel You Forward, officially comes out Tuesday. I asked Denise what led to the creation of this book. (And it’s a wonderful read if you’re in need of some inspiration!)

My first love has always been poetry because I have always believed that something introduced in rhyme is more memorable.  However, after publishing two books of poetry and going to workshops and book signings with other writers, I found that I was the only one that wrote just poetry. I soon found that most writers concentrate on different genres of writing to increase their exposure.  So I decided to expand the type of writing that I would promote in order to reach a larger audience. I briefly considered fiction but soon found out that coming up with plots and endings did not interest me. I did remember, though, that I had a great love for empowering and motivating others and thus came up with the ideas behind Seizing Opportunities That Propel You Forward.

Every day, I meet people who seem to be frustrated because they do not know what their talent or "calling" is, or in other scenarios, know what their talent is, but don't know how to use it to get the most potential out of it.  That is when I decided to write a book to encourage people to stop just looking for big events that may take years to occur and search for small things that could make their dreams explode into reality over time. As I began gathering material, I became more aware of how often even I have passed up small opportunities that could have been a large breakthrough in disguise.  I often remember the words of wisdom that tell us to not look down on humble beginnings, for they often lead to great things. Constantly putting in place the principles that I teach has led me to "think outside of the box" and grow in my own creativity and I feel that it could do the same for others.  Sharing this knowledge is truly an exciting  and rewarding experience.

About Denise:
Author, Speaker, Songwriter
Writing poetry since grade school, she discovered at an early age how comforting words can be in lifting people out of despair and pushing them towards achievement. Each word she writes is carefully chosen to bring meaning and relevance to others. Denise often compares herself to the greeting card magnate, Helen Steiner Rice, as she strives to capture the feeling one gets when they find the right phrase for the right occasion! She has published two books of inspirational poetry, My Words and Me and Do You Know Him? and one motivational book, Seizing Opportunities That Propel You Forward. She has also co-produced several CD's, one titled "Words Can't Tell." She loves to share her words of inspiration and prides herself in being a musician, songwriter, and inspirational speaker.

And Blogger is being fussy, so could not insert hyperlinks to her sites, but they are:

Seizing Opportunities That Propel You Forward
By Charlette Denise Sutton
Self-help/inspirational (SEL021000)
$2.99 eBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-7-6
Available in all eBook formats on November 15, 2011

Seizing Opportunities That Propel You Forward, stresses the importance of finding powerful opportunities to make a difference in everyday living.  Instead of becoming discouraged from not encountering those envisioned "big breaks", readers are encouraged to watch for those "little instances" that could profoundly affect their lives and forever change their destiny. Many people overlook the challenge of finding creative and almost hidden ways to make their skills, knowledge, and connections work for them. This book focuses on preparing yourself daily to take full advantage of every situation that comes your way! One of her favorite excerpts from the book include:

“Looking high, looking low…
How much farther do I need to go?
It took a while, but now I understand
The ‘opportunity’ I was searching for was right in my hand!”

Available now at Amazon, Smashwords, and Dancing Lemur Press. Ready for some inspiration?

What led you on your chosen writing path?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Create Visibility Before Getting Published

I'd like to welcome Karen Cioffi today with some marketing tips!

Create Visibility Before Getting Published: Basic Platform Building

The road to publication can be long and winding ... and filled with rejection. So, what do you do while you’re submitting your manuscript and waiting patiently? Okay, maybe not patiently, but waiting nonetheless.

That’s easy. And, it’s very important: create visibility. I don’t mean standing on the street corner singing at the top of your lungs, I mean creating an online presence that depicts who and what you are. In other words, you need to create your platform.

There are a number of writers who are reluctant to begin promoting themselves because they haven’t landed a publisher yet. Or, they’re still learning the craft. This mentality won’t cut it today. You need to begin that visibility.

First step in your platform journey is to create a blog using a blog site such as Blogger, or a website; either one is relatively simple to create, and can be free. Obviously, you will want to create your platform right from the beginning by posting to your blog with content that is in the genre you are writing.

Important Tip: Make the name of your site something that will grow with you, and your name should be part of the site name.

But wait a minute, let me backtrack. For those of you who aren’t sure what a platform is, it is a means to let readers know what your area of expertise is. You need to let your target market know who you are, what you have to offer, why you’re qualified to offer it, and where they can find you.

Yes, I know, you might be shaking your head and thinking that you don’t have an area of expertise, but this is how you create it.

The next step in your journey is to create visibility and build your platform. Learn your craft and as you’re learning, write about what you learn. In other words, if your book is about cooking, blog about cooking—you will be creating your area of expertise.

Once you feel comfortable adding content to your blog, start writing articles and submitting them to article directories. Again, keep them focused on the area of expertise you are trying to create. You may not get paid for them, but they will establish an online presence. And, if your articles are beneficial or interesting to others, it will bring traffic to your site, and go viral.

The publishing and marketing industry has changed. In today’s writing market publishing houses, big and small, expect you to:

  1. Have and online presence (website or blog)
  2. Have a platform
  3. Have a following
  4. Have the potential to increase that following
  5. Have a marketing strategy
  6. Have a saleable book

Selling books is now a joint effort between the publishing house and the author. And, if you’re venturing into the self-publishing arena, promoting yourself is even more important. Don’t procrastinate. Start creating your online presence and platform today.

For more on writing and marketing visit Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing and sign up for her FREE newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get TWO free e-books on writing and marketing in the process, and two more free e-books just for stopping by.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


I will be offline for the next week. My mother passed away Thursday morning and I've a lot to deal with right now.. I had a special Weekend Sillies planned but have postponed it until the 12th. I hope to be back online soon and have a guest, Karen Cioffi, visiting on the 10th.

Thanks everyone for understanding. I will be checking email and responding when necessary.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

I am posting for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

My insecurity today might be all over the map, but I’ll try to focus.

Sometimes I think I’ve diversified myself too much. I’ve got so many projects in the works and going a million miles an hour with speaking and book formatting and consulting and numerous other ventures. Does anyone still remember that I am an author, too?

I see others continue to put out books. (I do have one in the works for next year.) I see authors networking and still marketing themselves and their older books. I see authors having great success with ebooks. And I wonder, did I miss the boat somehow? Did all of these other ventures drop me off the author radar completely?

Does anyone still remember a series called The Circle of Friends? Or my book based on two seminars I teach, Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK? Will people continue to find these books and enjoy them?

Or is Spunky just the crazy redhead who posts LOL Cats every weekend?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Publishing World is Changing Fast

During the annual conference of Novelists, Inc., Smashwords founder and CEO, Mark Coker, was interviewed by Chris Kenneally of Copyright Clearance Center. THIS interview was done between Mark’s appearance on a panel and his keynote address at the conference.

Mark discussed many aspects, and while none of his observations should come as a surprise, they should definitely be an eye-opener for all writers, authors, and publishers. He noted the change ebooks have brought to authors:

“They can publish to a worldwide audience immediately, they can publish faster, they can publish today, not a year and a half from today. And then they can publish their books – they can price their books at a much lower cost than publishers. To create some perspective here, a self-published author can earn more selling a 99-cent e-book than they can an $8 mass-market paperback.”

He said he has nothing but respect for the big publishers and the publishing industry, but there is tension:

“…big publishing, as an industry, has become so consolidated, so calcified, so hampered and hamstrung by legacy business practices, print business practices, and these high expense structures, that they’re having great difficulty making this transition to this new world. 
“In this new world of publishing, over the next few years, cost and cost containment will be the code words of the day. And they need to get their costs down. Customers demand lower-priced books. Customers don’t want to pay $12, $13, $14 for an e-book.”

Mark also talked about his concerns over a growing power - Amazon - and authors who depend wholly on Amazon:

“I think there’s a concern that among the authors who recognize this, that they could become tenant farmers to Amazon. And so completely dependent upon them that they lose choice and lose freedom. I think it’s in everyone’s best interests – authors, publishers, readers – that we have a vibrant, competitive ecosystem for publishing.”

The whole transcript is available HERE as a downloadable pdf file. I encourage everyone to go read it. 

Nine months ago, it was thought that 80% of the print business would be dead in ten years. Now they are saying it will happen in three to five. Are you ready? Have you put yourself in a position to be ready?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Looking for Guests

The focus of this blog is publishing and promoting tips. Since I teach seminars on those subjects and I'm the author of six books, I've had plenty of material from which to draw.

However, there is only so much I know and so much I can tell you!

Since the blogging world is full of experienced authors and publishers, I'm opening this blog to some fresh ideas!

If you would like to do a guest post and share some of your tricks of the trade, leave a comment and a way for me to reach you. (You can comment even if you're not offering! LOL)

What has worked for you? What publishing path did you chose and why? And social networking tips? Anything wacky you've tried that actually worked?

Bring it on!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Every Writer Does It...

What does every writer do?

No matter how talented, how precise, how good?

Every writer will at some point type a blank space at the end of a paragraph.

Most writers do it multiple times. Some add more than one space, too!

The habit of hitting that space bar after finishing a sentence is so strong, we do it without thinking, even when we're completing a paragraph and don't need to hit it.

And when it comes time to format, we have a million of these:

See that dot before the paragraph mark? That is an extra space! (The line below without one is correct.)

Now that I've been formatting a lot of books for other authors, I realize how common this is among writers. We all do it. (Yes, I do it, too!)

The moral? The next time you are feeling inferior, just remember - when it comes to spaces at the end of a paragraph, every writer does it.

Just please try to catch all of them before sending me a book to format!

Do you sometimes hit the space bar before hitting return? You might want to check...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Visual Inspiration

Thought we'd go for a little visual inspiration today! I haven't done that in a while and I have some new images to share.

Perhaps you'd like to head out to the fair?

Maybe your story needs a hurricane? (Yes, that was the view out our window for Irene.)

Maybe you need some hungry creepy-crawlies?

Maybe you're feeling a little pyro? (Quick story - I started building a multi-layer castle back in Albuquerque, but never got more than two layers of dungeon and the main floor completed. My husband got tired of it in the garage and offered to tape it and put it on YouTube if I'd let him burn it. Video will be up someday, but at least I took pictures of the event! It was strangely satisfying...)

Perhaps a more eerie setting...?

Or maybe you are just inspired by psychotic cats?

Have a great day!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I’m not sure when nicknames became popular, but it’s a rare person who doesn’t have one.

Goodness, our cats have so many, it’s no wonder they don’t answer to anything!

Nicknames can be a variation of a person’s actual name or something entirely new. When I was younger, the title ‘Lady Di’ was bestowed upon me. (Although I am NOT a Diana.) I also gained the nickname of ‘Spunky,’ which eventually led to my speaker name, ‘Spunk on a Stick.’ For the most part, only people I meet in real life call me Spunky though.

Sometimes nicknames become like pet names. My husband knows if he hears ‘Baby…’ it will be followed by a request for something. (I know, I’m terrible!)

Sometimes nicknames go the cutesy route. Although too much and it sounds childish and gay. (Marvin Wilson is the only one allowed to call me the Spunkster)

Regardless of how we feel about nicknames, people use them. And depending on the setting of your novel, a couple of your characters might use them, too.

Consider the friendships in your manuscript and the resulting nicknames. (Which could sound insulting even though spoken out of friendship.) Think about the couples in your story. They might have affectionate, even secret pet names for one another.

Do your characters have nicknames? Do you have a nickname?

And if I see anything other than Diane or Spunky in the comments, you’re in trouble!