Friday, June 29, 2012

Promotion for new YA Novel - Victoria and the Ghost


posted by Vivian Zabel

     Struggling and working all hours of the day and night for two weeks, Victoria and the Ghost left for the printer last night just a few minutes before midnight. The cover, another Aidana WillowRaven creation, shows a favorite scene from the book. Written by Janet K. Brown with readers 15 - 18 in mind, I found the book enjoyable. Of course I'm well above 18, well, at least a few years above.

     From the back cover of the novel: At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl. loses her mother's love and tries to cope with country isolation, no friends, and no one who cares, until she meets a ghost.

     Victoria and the Ghost is the premiere novel from Janet K. Brown, who lives in Wichita Falls, Texas. The book may be pre-ordered from the 4RV Bookstore now. It should be available through brick 'n mortar bookstores and online within three weeks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Start It With A Bang

It is a fact that the first readers of the work you’re seeking to publish will be the hardest on you: the agents and editors whose help you need in getting your work published and into the hands of the reading public. It is also a fact that if your work doesn’t start off with a bang...and I mean will more than likely never get published.

Let’s face it: agents and editors are notoriously busy, and most don’t care that you’ve slaved away on your manuscript for 25 years, laboriously honing and rehoning your baby until every word is perfect. At least, you hope so. What matters first to these readers is your beginning, and what you’ve done with it.

As an editor myself, I know that I initially look at the first few pages of the submission. If I am intrigued, I’ll look into the middle, check out a few more pages, flip through, and finally, head to the end. However, if the manuscript does not garner my attention right away, then I usually close out the document and head to the next submission.

What am I looking for? In a word, something that is compelling. Forceful. Demanding attention. Convincing. Effective. Persuasive. All of these words encompass what an agent or editor looks for when first beginning to read your submission.

What that could be might be a thought or two by the main character, an action, a piece of can really be anything, as long as that anything is written right. Here’s an example:

Mary headed to the back yard where she was going to pick up some sticks for the fire she and her friends were going to start so they could roast marshmallows.

Blah. We could all write that, and none of us would read beyond the first sentence. After we reread it a couple times to figure out what it said. Or...

Mary shivered. What was it about the blackness of this witching hour that brought to her mind the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the headless horseman on his nighttime ride?

Which is more compelling? Obviously, the second. We’re drawn in. We want to know why Mary is shivering, what is hiding in the night, and just why it is that she is thinking about a headless horseman. And why does she call it the witching hour? Is it Halloween? Is there a coven of witches in the area? Have paranormal events been occurring?

All of these questions generate interest, and interest draws the reader into reading the next sentence, paragraph, page, and eventually, the whole book. Of course, there are authors who have spent their 25 years of writing on their first five pages. Which is why when evaluating manuscripts, an experienced agent or editor, once enticed by good writing, flips through the book to read parts in the middle, and the end, to see if that writing is carried through the entire work.

So take time with your story. Be careful with your beginning. Ask yourself: Have I done everything I can to draw my reader in, to make them interested, to demand their attention, and to convince them to read further? If you’re not sure, then you’ve got more work ahead of you. But, if you have, you’re well on your way to your goal: getting your book published.

Katie Hines is an editor, and author of "Guardian," a middle grade urban fantasy published by 4RV Publishing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to push your book designer over the edge

by Vivian Zabel 

        Your book is edited; you and the editor think it is finished; the department head proofed it and sent it to the designer for formatting; the designer, who is not an editor but has formatted and helped copy edit enough manuscripts to recognize some common problems recognizes that more work is needed, or not. She formats and sends a PDF proof to the author, the proof reader, the editor, and the person who pays the bills. She asks everyone to go over the proof carefully and thoroughly. She gives directions as to how she wants each person to send his/her comments, changes, and solutions to problem areas each finds. One, yes, just one, person followed her request. She ends up with four documents, all "organized" or "disorganized" differently and hard to follow. She wants each change/suggestion/comment in order from front of the manuscript to the end, not jumping from one section to the other, but most don't list the problems areas in order.

        That problem is enough to push the designer over the edge, but then she looks at one of the documents. The person who sent the document doesn't understand some of the more elementary grammar or writing necessities. When a designer, who is NOT an editor, recognizes the problems, maybe it's time authors and editors do, too.

        Here are a few examples of what should already be known by writers and by editors:

1.  Dad, Mom, Sis, Grandpa, and other nouns are not capitalized IF an adjective is before it. For example, your mom, not your Mom; my grandpa, not my Grandpa.

2.  A character's thoughts are italicized and the words I, my, mine, or any other first person pronoun doesn't have to be included in the wording to make thoughts. They are words that the narrator wouldn't/shouldn't use as part of the narration -- unless the manuscript is written in first person.
      For example: Mary walked toward the door. Why shouldn't the world stop spinning for her. No, she gets everything she wants. The italicized words are not something the narrator should be writing, but something Mary thinks.

3.  Thoughts, which are italicized, must make sense as thoughts. Words spoken should not be confused with words thought by a character.

4.  Editors or authors who are not sure about something should get help from someone who does know before telling the designer to do something wrong.

5.  If each person involved in the copy edit sends in his/her revisions, sending in contradictory revisions for the same exact problems, the designer is forced  to make a judgement call or pester the boss. Each successive person should read the preceding person's edits. The designer follows the following chain of command: The author is outranked by the the editor; the editor is outranked by the department head, who is outranked by the company head. Everyone usually finishes proofing a proof at different times; therefore, seeing what others said first would help a person see if he or she agrees or not. A quick email would help each person better understand why or why not.

6.  Follow the style manual of the publishing house that is doing your book. Read it, refer to it, refer to it again, read it, follow it.

        I'm sure other things make a book designer want to snatch him or herself bald, but those are a few that can be easily fixed, if a person really wants to be a better writer or better editor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marketing Strategies: Pinterest by Stephanie Burkhart

There's a lot of free or inexpensive social media and marketing tools available for authors to work into their marketing plans. One such site that's generating a lot of interest is Pinterest.

I'm new to Pinterest myself, still learning my way around, but I have to admit, its fun. I like looking at the different pictures as they inspire ideas and stories. I like the idea of sharing my likes with other authors and readers. I also find that its a great way to connect with others. Pinterest drives traffic as well, not only to your Pinterest account but to other sites, your website, Faceback, Linkedin and other places you're on.

And, ultimately, isn't that what social media is about – making connections? As an author, Pinterest is another tool to connect with others.

Just a little about Pinterest: the site launched in March 2010 in a closed format. After 9 months it had 10,000 users. Pinterest went viral in 2011, but the way to join is to receive an invitation from a friend who is already registered. You can also create an account by liking it to your Facebook or Twitter.

The goal of Pinterest is to connect people through "things" they find interesting. They do this by "pinning" pictures. You upload a pin (picture) or you can use a "pin it" button added to your bookmark bar or your web browser. I don't quite understand how to do that yet, so if anyone can explain it, I'd appreciate that. I just upload my pictures.

Once you pin a picture, people can either 're-pin it,' 'like it,' or 'comment' on it. Therein lies the fun. And the more you do, the more others will do it to you, thus driving the traffic to your site. I've had a good response to my Pinterest board and I haven't been on the site long, maybe about 2 months. My goal is to spend about 5-10 minutes a day on Pinterest. I figure a little goes a long way.

Interesting Notes about Pinterest:
There's also an app! You can find a Pinterest app for the Iphone.

Who's got a Pinboard? Ann Romney and Michelle Obama!

83% of users in the US are women.

In Feb 2012, Pinterest reported 11.7 million users.

Anyone else have a Pinterest board? What do you like about it? Dislike? Do you think it's a unique social network? If you have a board, leave your name or your link and I'll follow you! Feel free to follow me on Pinterest as well.

Love to hear your thoughts, comments, and feedback about Pinterest.

Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. She spent 11 years in the US Army as an MP and now works for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. Her 4RV Books include "The Giving Meadow" and "First Flag of New Hampshire." Her son, Joe's, favorite 4RV Books include: "Spider in my Mailbox," "Angeline Jellybean." Her son, Andrew's, favorite 4RV Books include: "Angeline Jellybean," and "The Marshmallow Man."







Friday, June 22, 2012

Numbers, Numbers, and More Numbers

by Vivian Zabel 

        Today is bright and a bit cool, so why does it cause me to think of numbers? Maybe looking at the temperature; maybe the fact I've been editing again and saw a problem; maybe my brain just glitched. Whatever the reason, I decided to share what I know and expect from writers who use numbers in their writings.

         When I taught English and composition and newspaper, yearbook, and literary magazine, I had to be aware of which hat I was wearing in which class. The rules for writing agreed in most instances, but a few were different, such as when to write numbers in figures and when to spell them out in words.

         Generally, in literary writing, numbers under 100 were spelled-out, and in journalistic writing, numbers under 10 were. Now, though, I’m seeing numbers presented in all kinds of ways. Therefore, I decided to see if “rules” had been changed. In the August, 2005 issue of The Writer magazine, I found a whole article on numerals titled “Number know-how.”

         ”But what difference does it make how numbers are presented?” I can hear someone asking.

          The answer is professionalism. We need our writings to appear as professional as possible if we want editors to consider our written words seriously.

         Arthur Plotnik states, in the issue of The Writer, “Most style conventions serve economy, emphasis and clarity (through consistency). That, in turn, serves readers,” when speaking of the syntax of writing numbers. He gives points in the article addressing when to use figures and when to spell-out numbers, to which I added my thoughts and notes about what I learned over the years and through teaching:

1. Focus on your genre. The main points are found in the style manual a publisher follows. Therefore we need to be familiar with the publisher we want our work to impress. (4RV Publishing has a style book entitled: How We Do It.)

2. Use common sense. Wow! Now that’s an unusual concept. Figures are easier to follow in statistics, measurements, and paragraphs filled with numbers. Spelled-out numbers give “texture to literary passages, including dialogue.” However, if spelled-out numbers become awkward, reverting to figures is a matter of common sense. For example, 160,00 is easier on the reader than one hundred sixty-thousand.

3. Leave the finest points to editors. Just be consistent in your usage.

4. Get a feel for the literary style. Generally, numbers that can be expressed in one or two words should be spelled out: five hundred, twenty-six. Many literary publishers put numbers over 100 in figures, but they also have many exceptions.

          If in a series of numbers, some need to be in figures, then all should be in figures: 16,000 reporters, 99 authors, and 16 editors.

          When spelled-out numbers are one after the other, the first word or the longest should be replaced with figures: ten 220-paged books or two hundred 15-paged copies.

         Fractions more or less follow the spelled-out rule unless doing so would be unwieldy. The author gave two examples in the article: thirty-three-hundredths complete; a 3 3/4-inch-thick manuscript.

          Exceptions to the literary style include percentages and time, such as 2 percent, 2.5 percent, 7:30 a.m. (exception to time: half past five in the evening, a quarter after one, six o’clock), July 28, 1943 (but July twenty-eighth in dialogue). However, often in narrative, two percent is preferable to 2%.

5. Know the 10-and-above journalistic rule. Usually 10 and above are in figures in journalistic items. For millions and above, though, figures and words are mixed: 10 million; $5 million.

          Numbers that begin a sentence (except a year date) are spelled out. However, usually, sentences should be reworded to avoid starting with a number in figures,
unless part of a name, example 4RV Publishing.

         Don’t use and or commas in spelled-out numbers: One hundred ninety-six couples renewed their vows last year.

6. Heed a few matters of form. The two-word numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine are always hyphenated.

          Plural figures and spelled-out numbers rarely have an apostrophe before the s.

          Editors will often boil when reading “from 1941-1945,” since the word “to” should be used with “from,” or the dates and a hyphen should be used alone: He lived from 1919 to 1989; he lived 1919-1989.

A final grammar note for writers

          If a writer does not first master the rules of grammar, he won’t get very far as a writer. A book that all grammar-deprived people should buy is How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar by William Safire, published by W.W. Norton & Co.

4RV Bookstore  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?"

When I was a little girl, we played 20 questions. Sometimes I needed to play 50 questions because it took me so long to guess. The first questions I would ask were: Is it an animal? Is it a vegetable? Is it a mineral? Many times after 20 questions, if I hadn't guessed, I'd say, "I give up." The leader of the game told me the answer and took another turn. Each time, I thought that I should have guessed it.

In writing a story, you want to pose questions to the readers. You are the leader of this "story" game. The answers must be shown to the readers before the end of the book. They can't be left in the dark. The reader must be able to figure out the answers to all the questions you the author chooses to pose by our statements, situations, and actions presented in it.

Delila searched her cabin for _______.

Steven always wanted a _______.

_____________ stared Linette in the face.

You can learn things about writing and about survival by studying different animals, plants, and minerals. Native Indians studied different animals to learn ways to survive. These lessons are called "medicine." Medicine in the Native American tradition is "anything that brings personal power, strength, and understanding." Sometimes you can choose an animal; other times an animal chooses you.

Lessons I've learned from:

Three animals:

· Turtles - It's hard to hurt their feelings because of their strong outer shell.

· Deer - They are fearless. Even though they are afraid, they stay calm.

· Butterflies - They relax and enjoy the stage of life they're in.

What about you? What animals can you learn a lesson from?

Three plants:

· Peace Lily - It blossoms in the middle of a crowd. (It won't bloom if it has too much room in the pot.)

· Kudzu vine - It's good to be able to thrive in many environments. Be flexible. But don't make a nuisance out of yourself.

· Poinsettia - It's important not to have too much light for a Poinsettia to bloom. In Charlotte, NC a nursery that depended upon selling hundreds of poinsettia plants had a problem. It was the second week in December and none of them were blooming. One of the workers noticed that Duke Power had installed a new street light next door. It never did get dark. Poinsettias bloom when there are more hours of darkness than light. The owner called Duke Power and asked them to turn off the street light. Have you guessed what happened? You are right. The poinsettia plants bloomed. The owner sold them to happy customers. And all ended on a happy note.

Three minerals:

· Clay - white clay from North Carolina is used to mold into wonderful useful and beautiful ceramic items.

· Stones - My favorites are small polished stones that are smooth to touch and fun to collect. I love that a man chose a rock to remind him to be grateful for all that he has. He called it a "Gratitude Rock." These small polished stones make a great "Gratitude Rock" to carry with you every day.

· Sea shells - They are beautiful shapes, colors, and sizes. Interesting animals live inside them in the ocean.

When you're writing include an animal, vegetable, or mineral that has special significance to you. It'll bring life to a character and add emotion to your story. They may pose a way for you to put a few questions in your story.

Thanks for reading my blog post. I love having you here with me. Please write and tell me about your favorite animals, vegetables, or minerals and the story to go along with them.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Makes a Good Fiction Story - Plot Driven or Character Drive?

Stories can be plot driven or character driven, so which is the best formula to use when writing a story? Knowing a little about both methods should help in making a decision.

Plot Driven Story

A story’s plot moves the story forward, from point A to point B. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a straight line; in fact a course that twists and turns is much better. This type of plot creates movement and interest. It’s the twists and turns that will keep the forward momentum fresh, as well as creates anticipation. Anticipation will hold a reader’s attention.

 The plot also provides reasons and explanations for the occurrences in the story, as well as offers conflict and obstacles that the protagonist must overcome to hopefully create growth. These elements create a connection with the reader. It entices the reader to keep turning the pages. Without a plot it is difficult to create growth and movement for the protagonist. It might be comparable to looking at a still photo. It might be a beautiful photo and may even conjure up emotions in the viewer, but how long do you think it would hold a reader’s attention?

Along with this, the plot molds the protagonist. It causes growth and movement in the character. Assume you have a timid woman who through circumstances, the plot, transforms into a brave, strong, forceful hero. Where would the story be without the events that lead this timid woman to move past herself and into a new existence?

Character Driven Story
On the other hand, a character driven story creates a bond between the protagonist and reader. It is the development and growth of the character, the character’s personal journey, which motivates the reader to connect. There doesn’t need to be twists and turns, or fire works. The reader becomes involved with the character and this is all the enticement the reader needs to keep reading.

In addition to this, the character works hand in hand with the plot to move the story forward. As the character begins her transformation the plot moves in the same direction.

In some instances, such as short stories, a character driven story can work amazingly well, such as in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. In cases such as this, the connection developed between the character and the reader can be more than enough to satisfy the reader. But, all in all, it seems to be the combined efforts of a well plotted and character driven story that works the best.

The Best of Both Worlds

According to science fiction and fantasy writer, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., “The best fiction should be an intertwined blend of character, plot, setting, and style.”

I agree; all elements of a story working together create stories that will be remembered.

All the aspects of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward to a satisfying conclusion, and should draw the reader in. If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short.

As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

Ignite your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi and A Writer’s World ezine. Get weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars, and TWO FREE ebooks! Sign-up today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What length is which writings?

by Vivian Zabel  

      Amazingly, many writers have no idea how long what they are writing should be -- a picture book, a chapter book, a young adult, a short story, a novelette, a novel --- no idea what.

      Let's look at some information involving the length of writing, starting with children's books and lengths.

Picture books:Traditionally, picture books (also called "picture story books") are 24 - 34-page books for ages 4-8 (this age may vary slightly by publisher). Manuscripts are up to 1500 words, with 1000 words being the average length. Plots are simple (no sub-plots or complicated twists) with one main character who embodies the child's emotions and concerns, written from a child's perspective/viewpoint. The illustrations (on every page or every other page) play as great a role as the text in telling the story. Occasionally a picture book will exceed 1500 words; this is usually geared toward the upper end of the age spectrum. Nonfiction in the picture book format can go up to age 10, 48 pages in length, or up to about 2000 words of text.

Early picture books: A term for picture books geared toward the lower end of the 4-8 age range.

Easy readers: Also called "easy-to-read", these books are for children starting to read on their own (age 6-8). They have color illustrations, sometimes black and white illustrations, on every page like a picture book, but the format is more "grown-up" -- smaller trim size, sometimes broken into short chapters. The length varies greatly by publisher; the books can be 32-64 pages long, with 200-1500 words of text, occasionally going up to 2000 words. The stories are told mainly through action and dialogue, in grammatically simple sentences (one idea per sentence). Books average 2-5 sentences per page.

Transition books: Sometimes called "early chapter books" for ages 6-9, they bridge the gap between easy readers and chapter books. Written like easy readers in style, transition books are longer (manuscripts are about 30 - 45 pages long, broken into 2-3 page chapters), books have a smaller trim size with black-and-white illustrations every few pages.

Chapter books: For ages 7-10, these books are 45-60 manuscript pages long, broken into 3-4 page chapters. Stories are meatier than transition books, though still contain a lot of action. The sentences can be a bit more complex, but paragraphs are still short (2-4 sentences is average). Chapters often end in the middle of a scene to keep the reader turning the pages.

Middle grade: This is the golden age of reading for many children, ages 8-12. Manuscripts suddenly get longer (100-150 pages), stories more complex (sub-plots involving secondary characters are woven through the story) and themes more sophisticated. Kids get hooked on characters at this age, which explains the popularity of series with 20 or more books involving the same cast. Fiction genres range from contemporary to historical to science fiction/fantasy; nonfiction includes biographies, science, history and multicultural topics.

Young adult: For ages 12 and up, these manuscripts are 130 to about 200 pages long. Plots can be complex with several major characters, though one character should emerge as the focus of the book. Themes should be relevant to the problems and struggles of today's teenagers, regardless of the genre. A new age category (10-14 often called Tween Books) is emerging, especially with young adult nonfiction. These books are slightly shorter than the 12 and up category, and topics (both fiction and nonfiction) are appropriate for children who have outgrown middle grade but aren't yet ready for the themes (fiction) or who aren't studying the subjects (nonfiction) of high school readers. 

         Now, let's look at longer writings, for perhaps older readers:

         Often the question is asked, "How long should a novel be?" Also people want to know how many words or pages a novella should be, how many a novelette is, how many for a short story. I found varying lengths advised, but the main number of words are listed below, and a page contains approximately 250 words.

         Let's start with the shorter writing, the short story, which can be up to 20,000 words in length according to Dictionary of LaborLawTalk. The article also broke the figures down by three countries: in the U.S. up to 10,000 words; in the U.K. up to 5,000; and in Australia up to 3,500. All sources agree that a short story should be at least 1,000 words.

         A novelette, has 7,500 to 17,500 words, but that writing form isn't mentioned much. It often is considered a "long" short story.

         According to Wikpedia, an online encyclopedia, a novella contains 20,000 to 40,000 words. The dictionary cited above states that novellas are 17,500 to 40,000 words.

         Novels, therefore, are writings above 40,000 words. In the past, novels were much longer than that, averaging 150,000 to 200,000 words. Now, they average around 100,000 words.

         The best way to know how long to make a work is to write until it is finished, then delete redundancies and padding. If you, as a writer, know where you want to be published, check the guidelines for that publisher for the length desired. If you are entering a contest, abide by the guidelines for that contest.

4RV Website:  
4RV Bookstore:     

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writer, Can You Spare a Dime?

Writer, Can you Spare a Dime?

By Suzanne Cordatos

Are some of your characters standing on street corners with their hands out? Do you have jobs for everybody in town? Are they puppets, simply cardboard cut-outs holding a sign? Convenient buggers, aren’t they? Need a taxi driver? Here you are. Teacher. Kid on bike. Red Herring. Our characters get a literal “job”— but is it meaty enough? Will it satisfy?

Writer, you are CEO and chief employer of the fictional world you’ve created. How do you divvy out character roles? Do the best jobs go always to the protagonist and villain? Any spare change left for the unemployed but ever-present sidekick?

Don’t get mugged!  

It is loads of fun plotting and putting together a novel with as many pieces as a jigsaw puzzle. The more complicated the plot, however, the darker the alley of keeping every character’s job in mind. I got “mugged” recently by my cousin’s daughter, Ann. At ten, is the first official kid to read my work-in-progress manuscript. I sent her a hundred pages; she recorded it on her school reading log, and I resisted the urge to ask every ten minutes what she thinks. Two weeks later, I got an email with three magical words: “What happens next?” She wants MORE!

Ann’s email was a loaded gun, pointed at me and filled with questions. Questions that caught me unguarded in this dark alley of who-does-what. The most painful: OOH, I  can’t wait to see if [minor sidekick character] gets to do something special later on!


In importance to the story, this cutie-pie sidekick character she’s referring to doesn’t rank in the top ten. Remember, if we’re doing our job, readers care about the characters. It keeps them turning pages. This sidekick’s puppy had a job. A good one. A fun-to-read, momentous-moment kind of job that only the puppy could do. The puppy’s little master, however, did not. How can she help the plot move forward? I had to think quickly to save myself, before disappointing 100% of my readership—the one kid in the world who had entered my newly-minted world!

In the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling developed several minor characters. They were fleshed-out  with strengths and flaws; virtually none were just filling the hallways of Hogwarts. The author NEEDED those characters to pick up the ball and run with it in the final novel, Deathly Hallows, while the hero, Harry, was preoccupied in the Forbidden Forest with the villain Voldemort.  If JK Rowling had not taken the time to lovingly develop her minor characters into fully-formed beings, Harry’s fate might have been different.

Writer-boss, don’t let crimes of character happen on your watch. To prevent slips, try a Cluster Diagram.

Cluster Diagrams Show Poor Spots

If you are not familiar with a Cluster Diagram, do a quick Google search of Cluster Diagram images. Essentially, draw a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. I wrote a quick summary of the climax scene in the center: Summer Festival. Draw lines extending out like rays of the sun and attach each line to a character name. Circle the name and add a couple lines indicating that character’s main job in the scene. Don’t leave anybody out.

Ask yourself: Who isn’t busy enough? Is that character a place holder? If they don't have a meaningful job, add one or fire them from your book. Take them out. Your writing will be tighter and your characters more memorable as a result.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Announcement: 4RV now has domain

by Vivian Zabel   

     After nearly five years, yes, five, we finally have the right to the domain I don't know how long I'll need to get the company website moved over, organized, and improved -- I'm still a bit technologically challenged. In time, though, we'll have even a better website. Any suggestions?

     IF authors, illustrators, editors, and other staff members will help, we will have sections in the new web site to highlight everyone. IF. I know I can't do it all by myself. Hopefully people will send me nice layouts with photos I can copy and paste. (hint, hint, hint)

     Also, any suggestions as to how we can keep from losing the people who keep looking for after we're open for business on the new website?

     The new website will be through Yola, not Yahoo. I think the change will be for the better --- hope, hope, hope.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What readers want from authors

As readers move from traditional hardbound books to digital books for the various e-readers available now and in the future, one thing hasn’t changed over the years, the reader’s expectations. They expect a level of quality when they spend their money to purchase a hard copy, or time downloading a digital book.

What readers expect:

  • Readability
  • Believability
  • Characters they can empathize with
  • Believable Dialogue
  • Descriptive
  • Good editing
  • Deep POV
  • Tight writing
  • Consistency
  • Good word choice
  • Proper use of nouns, verbs, and adjectives
  • Proper grammar
  • Proper punctuation
  • Proper spelling
  • Words that don’t send the reader to the dictionary
  • A book that doesn’t bore the reader

This is only a short list, but you get the idea. Readers are author’s best friend or their worst enemy, the author makes the difference by the words in their story, how well the edited the manuscript is, and the author proofreads it before it reaches the reader.

Some may think this is a lot to ask, but consider the fact, the author’s reputation is on the line with every piece of writing they prepare for consumption by readers. This could be a blog about the book, a viral book tour, an author’s web site, a press release about their book or any piece of copy.

Authors need to take readers seriously. Word of mouth advertising is still the best form of advertising. How will the reader talk about your books, authors? Will they give it thumbs up or thumbs down because there are errors? It’s your choice authors.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer, Blogger, Editor, Reviewer

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Aim for Writing Success

Aim for Writing Success

by Karen Cioffi

Writing success can mean different things to different writers. Some writers may simply want to get a book or article published; others may want to be on the New York Times Best Sellers List; still others may want to make a living writing; and there are those who may be seeking wealth and fame. The key here is to dig down and really know what your perception of writing success is.

Once you are certain what you are aiming for, take the necessary steps to become the writing success you dream of. Sounds easy, right? Well, we all know it’s not, if it were, there would be no struggling writers.

The first problem we seem to run into is actually realizing how we perceive success, or what we want from our writing efforts. According to Jack Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, the number one reason for being stuck and not realizing your potential or goals is the lack of clarity.

Step One: You Must Define Your Goals and Your Perception of Success

It’s not sufficient to state you want to be a published writer; you need to proclaim the specifics. You want to be a self-help nonfiction author of published books and magazine articles earning an income of $100,000 per year. You can even get much more specific than that—the more specific your goals and intentions are the more likely you will attain them.

Step Two: Prepare a Plan

When you finally have a break through and know exactly what you want from your writing efforts, you need to prepare a detailed plan. Your plan, just like your goals, needs to be very specific. Think of a recipe: You plan on baking a cake, but you’ll need more than just the ingredients, you’ll need the exact amount of each ingredient, the proper procedure for mixing them together, the baking temperature, how long to bake it, how long to cool it before removing it from the pan . . . you get the idea.

Now you’re on your way . . . you have specific goals . . . a detailed plan . . . but . . . you’re still not achieving success.

Step Three: Take Action

Think of the first two steps as the foundation of your house. To move forward toward success, you need to build the house. This takes action; it actually takes more than just action, it takes ongoing action and perseverance to carry you through to completion.

Step Four: Projection

You have the other steps down pat, now picture yourself attaining your goals. According to motivational speakers, you will have a much greater chance of making it happen by projecting success. This step encompasses a number of strategies such as envisioning, projection, projection boards, and affirmations.

Take aim . . . shoot.

Ignite your writing and marketing efforts with Karen Cioffi and A Writer’s World ezine. Get weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars, and TWO FREE ebooks! Sign-up today.