Friday, November 30, 2012

Industry News and Friday Inspirational Photo

Some interesting things in the news this week:

According to Tech Crunch, $1.456 billion was spent on Cyber Monday, the biggest day ever. Digital content sales grew 28% from last year.

"Barnes & Noble Decides That Purchased Ebooks Are Only Yours Until Your Credit Card Expires." (Nice, huh?) Read the full article, which also covers DRM, at Tech Dirt

Publishing Executive posted this article - 1 in 5 Adults to Own an iPad in 2013
The Simba Information Report reveals:
“After tracking U.S. iPad ownership trends since the tablet's birth in 2010, Simba estimates that within a few short weeks, one in every five adults in the U.S. will own at least one iPad.
“Additionally, the report projects that within five years, there will be more adults in the U.S. who own an iPad or other tablet than those who purchase print books -- and it is up to publishers and authors to decide how to approach this.”

Publishers Weekly noted that mass market paperbacks had fallen 23% this year, with hardcover and trade paperbacks falling 7% and 10% respectively.

What do you think of this week’s news?

And your Friday inspirational photo:

Feeling chilly?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reasons for a Query Letter Rejection

Before you start sending out query letters, it helps to know some of the main reasons why you might receive a rejection.

(Taken from my upcoming How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now!)

A proper query letter is critical. It’s usually an editor’s first impression of a new writer. That letter reveals so much about a person. It’s the first test a writer must pass in the submission process.

How might your query fail the test? Here are some reasons for rejections:

1. Improper formatting/poor grammar.
2. Addressed to the wrong person or to “Whom It May Concern.”
3. Omission of key requested information.
4. Poor attitude—writer comes off as cocky, overbearing, insolent, or just a jerk.
5. Querying a genre they don’t accept.
6. Author isn’t marketable.
7. Synopsis doesn’t intrigue or grab the editor/reader.
8. Editor was having a bad day.
9. A similar book is already in production.
10. Manuscript isn’t marketable or it doesn’t fit their current needs.
11. Unstable market causes problems that result in sudden submission closings or worse.

The first five reasons demonstrate the writer either can’t follow directions or will be difficult to work with. It often means instant elimination no matter how good the writing. These mistakes can (and should) be avoided. The second two you can work on to improve. The others are simply factors that are outside of your control.

What other reasons can you think of for a rejection?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Remember to be Humble: You’re Not All That and a Bag of Chips

Achievement is good. Meeting goals feeds our ego and boosts our self-image. Success gives us the confidence to keep moving forward even when times are tough.

But when we think we’ve finally arrived, we’re actually going backwards at a frightening rate.

A boastful comment on someone’s recent blog post reminded me of an old but true saying - “Pride comes before a fall.

Humility is a virtue. It is remembering that we didn’t get here on our own. It’s not boasting or bragging. It’s the willingness to help others achieve their dreams. It’s acknowledging that sometimes we are wrong. It’s the ability to put the spotlight on others.

As my husband likes to say, it’s admitting we are not all that and a bag of chips.

Am I the best speaker in the world? Far from it. Am I a great writer? I already know I’m not. Do I know everything about publishing and promoting? Not a chance!

But what I do know in these areas I am more than willing to pass on to others. (Because really, you don’t want to make all the mistakes I’ve made along the way!) And I’m willing to continue to improve and learn more.

As writers and authors, as human beings, we need to maintain a humble spirit. The genuine, giving person will be remembered. The arrogant jerk will not. (At least, not in a good way!)

Do you try to remain humble? Do you catch yourself acting with false humility now and then? And can you recognize true humility when you see it?

Remember, if you do think you are all that and a bag of chips, you’re really just a couple fries short of a Happy Meal!

And since I forgot a photo on Friday:


Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Miss You Blogfest

Today it the I Miss You Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matthew MacNish, and Andrew Leon.

List a blogger you miss and one you would miss.

The blogger I miss the most is Eric W. Trant at Digging With the Worms

Eric is a published author whose work includes light fantasy, science fiction, and literary pieces:

Out of the Great Black Nothing: Novel 2011
Short stories in several volumes of An Honest Lie

On May 21 of this year, Eric’s 18 month-old son died, and he’s not been online as much. He always had such thought-provoking posts and I really miss those.

Eric, when you are ready, we hope you rejoin us.

The blogger I would miss the most is Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder

Elizabeth is the author of many cozy mysteries. The next one, Knot What it Seems, comes out on February 5, 2013. (The same day as my next book - we’ll have to celebrate!)

She founded the Writer’s Knowledge Base and features an Ebook Services Directory on her site.

Elizabeth’s posts are so informative and she really knows how to relate writing, publishing, and promoting to real life.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting her in person, and she is just a delight!

I’ve followed her blog for years now and would really miss her!

I’d also like to thank everyone who offered either a tour spot or assistance with the release of my next book. Most of my dates are now full and next month I will have a sign up with a giveaway for anyone who wants to help announce its release on February 5th.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear Celebration

M. Pax has a special celebration planned for her new release!

The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear

A New Adult Urban Fantasy, The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is the first book in a new series. And it’s now out! The main character, Hetty, is a twenty-two-year-old, stumbling about in an effort to become a full-fledged adult. She struggles with self-esteem, weight, relationships, and making the transition between college and the real world.

Graduation from community college isn’t the magic elixir Hetty Locklear counts on for becoming an adult. Her parents, who work the Renaissance fair circuit, insist she spend part of the summer with them. Hetty doubts pretending to live in the Middle Ages will help her find her way.

To make it worse, an entity haunts her at her dead-end job, warning her of a dangerous man she doesn’t know. The ghost leads her to a lover who has a lot of secrets. He pulls her farther into peril and into a strange, hidden world of genetic experimentation.

New Adult Urban Fantasy with a contemporary sci-fi twist. Mature content.

Available as an ebook at Amazon Amazon UK Smashwords iTunes Kobo
Visit M. Pax’s site for more links.

M. Pax is celebrating her latest release with a jousting tournament and contest at her website. Cheer for the knights to help them win the grand prize, and you’ll be put in a drawing to win an ebook copy of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. Five will be given away. Huzzah!

Please go cheer on the knights!

I am also setting up a small blog tour for the release of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! I’m looking for host sites that appeal to writers for these dates: February 7, 15, and 18. Thanks!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Industry News, Friday Inspirational Photo, and Special Bonus Photos!

From CNET News - Amazon Wine now open for business!

“Customers order directly from a winery, via Amazon, of course, and are able to ship up to six bottles for $9.99. Looks like Amazon Prime's free, fast shipping doesn't work for this service, and the site notes each winery operates under its own permits and determines which states it can ship to.

“So far, the list of eligible states is pretty limited. It includes California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. However, Amazon said more will be coming soon.”

Makes you wonder what they will sell next!

From Publishing Executive - 25% of all Android apps pose a security risk.

“Security research firm Bit9 today released a new research report showing that more than 100,000 Android applications in the Google Play store—25 percent—pose a security risk to mobile device users and the enterprise networks to which they connect.

“In its examination of the more than 400,000 Android apps, Bit9 found that 72 percent use at least one high-risk permission. In addition, the company found that:
42 percent of applications access GPS location data, and these include wallpapers, games and utilities
31 percent access phone calls or phone numbers
26 percent access personal data, such as contacts and email
9 percent use permissions that can cost the user money”

Scary, huh?

A couple photos for you today.

I appreciate everyone’s sweet comments and praise regarding my photos. Ironically, when I took photography in high school for three semesters, I got two B’s and one C! But the teacher did tell me that if I ever slowed down, I’ve be a great photographer. (Did I mention I am Hammy the Squirrel? I can only go so slow!)

Today’s Friday Inspirational Photo:


I got a review copy of How to Publish and Promote your Book Now!

(Yes, that is a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket holding up the book. Purchased him during one of my signings at the Barnes & Noble outside of GT. Extra special as that is one of the settings in my YA series, The Circle of Friends.)

Right now, I am a happy Hammy!!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Thankful for my Readers Bloghop

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m combining this with Tara and Vicki’s I’m Thankful for my Readers Bloghop.

My seventh book will be out next February. It’s the third genre I’ve tackled and it probably won’t be the last. (Remember, Hammy the Squirrel is all over the map!)

I look back at my journey as a writer and author and can’t believe the passage of time. I started writing Book I of my series in 2002, over ten years ago. I’ve grown so much as a writer since that time, taking on so many other duties including professional speaker.

I’m grateful for the readers who have enjoyed my books: the people who’ve found inspiration and motivation in my self-help book, the ones who’ve fallen in love with The Circle of Friends characters; and everyone who’s been motivated to pursue their dreams by the words I’ve written. The latter is why I started writing in the first place.

The insecure part today also comes from that journey. I’ve improved since that very first book. My writing is better. My word count is less! (The original version of Book II had 205,000 words - holy cow! Much less now.) Will those who picked up one of my earliest books know that though? Will they trust my growth as a writer?

I really hope so, or I’ll be one unhappy Hammy.

Monday, November 05, 2012

How to Unfollow a Blog

Unfollow? That sounds so cruel! Why would you want to unfollow another blogger? There are many reasons:

  • The blogger unfollowed you. Maybe they lost interest or they were just phishing for followers.
  • The blogger never returned your follow or comments on his or her blog.
  • Blog posts become offensive. Or the blog changes topics. Or you discover you’re just not following a nice person. (The green trolls are out there…)
  • The blog shuts down or goes inactive for a very long time.
  • An abandoned blog is taken over by someone else. (Always by a company that blasts out advertising posts - so annoying!)

How do you escape? If the blog in question is on a platform other than Google’s Blogger, or it was followed via RSS, it’s only a matter of unsubscribing. In Google Reader, just click on the little arrow by the name and unsubscribe:

However, if you originally followed through Google Friends Connect, unsubscribing in Google Reader won’t hack it. Like a stray cat, the blog’s feed just keeps coming back. And you are still listed as one of that blog’s followers. There are two options here.

On the main dashboard of your blog, look to the far right and you will see this:

Click on the little symbol, and it will bring up a list of the blogs you follow. You can unfollow them from here. If the blogger has removed the Google Friends Connect widget (which is what some do when they take over an abandoned blog - evil!) unsubscribing here is your only option. After that, you can unsubscribe in your Google Reader and the blog will forever vanish.

The other option is to unfollow at the source. Go to that blog and find the Google Friends Connect widget. Often it will look like this:

If you know you’re already following, hit the button to join - you will be prompted to sign in:

(And if you asks you if you want to Join this site, run away - you're really not following that blog through GFC!)

After that, the GFC widget looks like this:

Click on Options and then Site settings:

Another box will pop up - click on Stop following this site on the far right:

Now you have officially unfollowed and only have to remove them from your Google Reader if you use that feature. You are free at last from this blog. And in the case of annoying ads or negative green trolls, you are happy to be free!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Hammy the Squirrel

Something a little different today.

Recently Hart Johnson had a post, Nakedness Disrobed, where she talked about her image online and being true to herself. I left a comment and it got me to thinking.

Online, I wear many hats. Part of me is an author of both YA fiction and non-fiction. Part of me is a professional speaker. Part of me offers services to writers such as publishing consultation and book formatting. And of course, this blog is geared toward publishing and promoting tips. So I try to maintain a certain level of professionalism.

The real me? I’m Hammy the Squirrel.

For those of you who haven’t seen the animated film, Over the Hedge, Hammy is a very energetic, hyperactive, happy-go-lucky squirrel. He’s so hyper, he’s not allowed energy drinks. (Until the end when his maniacal energy saves the day.)

In real life, that’s me. My husband says I am the Energizer Bunny. I am a bundle of nervous energy with only two settings - full stop and warp 9. On top of it, I’m Type A and always have to be doing something productive. (I am allowed energy drinks though.)

That comes through in my speaking. I’m not a detail guru nor am I really funny. I can make people laugh, but I’m not one of those speakers who has people rolling in the aisle. But the one thing I can do well is bring a lot of energy to my talks. I didn’t gain the nickname Spunk on a Stick for nothing!

Unfortunately, I don’t think it comes through very well in my writing. I have improved - since my upcoming book, How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now, is based on two seminars I teach, I was able to infuse some of my energy and enthusiasm into the pages. But online, I don’t think that part of my personality comes through very strong.

What I’d like to do is start dumping more of ME online I’d like to see if I can still maintain professionalism while letting more of my personality shine through.

So thus begins the great Hammy experiment.

I hope you are all ready for the ride!