Friday, February 28, 2014

How do you know when you're done editing?

If you're like most writers, you write a first draft, revise, edit, edit, edit ...

A recent discussion had me considering how I knew when I was done.
Because in one sense, I'm never done.I'm learning all the time, and nothing I write is perfect, or even close to it. But at some point, like any parent, I have to let go of my baby and send it out into the world. So how do I decide?

Well, there's the process: write, revise, edit. I write, set my work-in-progress aside for a couple of weeks or so, then revise it. A lot or a little, depending. I get a few trusted readers to read the result and I consider what they've said, then I most likely make more changes. Then I edit, check for wording etc. Get another reader or two to check it over.

I'm working on a novel right now that is getting close to completion, and I had a brainwave when reading over the latest version. I actually *like* it. I like my main character. I enjoy reading this draft. I couldn't say the same about the earlier versions.

And then it hit me. This is when I'm close to done with my novel. When I start to enjoy it. When I like what I read.

How about you all? When do you know you're done?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Look at Ebooks 2014 - Marketing Considerations

By: Stephanie Burkhart

Ebooks have been on the rise since 2007 when Amazon introduced the Kindle. Other retailers followed suit with the Nook, Sony's ereaders, Kobo, and the Ipad. With easy to use readers, the ebook market took off.

There are several advantages to ebooks. They save on shelf space and ebook readers are light and easy to carry around. Novels now have a worldwide reach and readers have access to older novels since ebooks don't go out of print.

As an author, it's important to consider taping into the ebook market. Kids these days have access to ebook readers and the bulk of the books they buy are on ereaders.

Ebooks have changed several fundamental ways books are made available to consumers including: distribution, marketing, pricing, and contracts.

Ebooks have opened new, broader channels of distribution. Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords have worldwide audiences. In 2013, Smashwords reported it earned 20 million in profits as a distributor. It's a big plus for an author to have their books available to the widest audience possible and an ebook gives them that.

Marketing is all about discovery. An author may have a wide distribution, but now the challenge is being 'discovered.' How do readers find 'your' title? Consider with ebooks: your novel/story goes to print right away. It's an opportunity to meet demand for a certain topic. As an author, you also have an opportunity for longer promotion through electronic media like blog tours, facebook, twitter, yahoo groups, and other social media.

Ebooks generally have lower costs to create. There's no ink, paper or binding. Lower overhead allows for ebooks to drop prices, allowing for competition. When you can drop a price, there's an opportunity to sell more books.

When working with publishers, traditional and small, authors need to consider their ebook contracts. Since ebooks are generating more sales than ever, royalty clauses in contracts need to be fair for authors and publishers. Pricing and contracts are new considerations due to the popularity of ebooks.

Question: As an author, what's your biggest consideration regarding ebooks? How do ebooks benefit you? Do you find marketing ebooks challenging? Why or why not?

Reference for this blog: "What Writer's Need to Know about the Ebook Market," by Jeremy Greenfield, Writer's Digest, FEB 2014, pages 21-25.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves chocolate, enjoys a good cup of coffee, and taking long walks. She's a cub scout den leader for her son's troop. Her books, "The Giving Meadow," and "First Flag of New Hampshire," are published with 4RV Publishing. Find her on the web at:







Sunday, February 16, 2014

By-Pass Marketing and Book Selling

By Karen Cioffi

According to a teleseminar, with featured speaker Jack Canfield, “Only one out of seven people in the United States go into book stores to buy a book.”

We know that books are still being sold, but where are they being sold if not primarily in book stores?

Through this teleseminar, I learned of the term “by-pass marketing.” What exactly does it mean?

By-pass marketing is selling in places you wouldn’t expect to see books for sale. Canfield mentioned venues I never even thought of. Putting on my thinking cap, I thought of a couple more.

Some By-pass Venues for Selling Books:

  • Bakeries
  • Nail salons
  • Gas stations
  • Beauty salons / barbershops
  • Spas
  • Cleaners
  • Tailors
  • Doctor offices
  • Chiropractic and Acupuncture offices
  • Radiology offices
  • Local restaurants

You get the idea; sell anywhere you can.

Think of establishments in your area where you have to wait for services, or ones that get a lot of traffic. Obviously, it will help if your book is somewhat related to the establishment, but even if it’s not, give it a try. Talk to management or the owner and offer a percentage of sales, or a set amount per book. This is a win-win situation for you and the establishment. They have absolutely no investment of money, time, or effort, therefore no risk. Yet, they have the opportunity to make money. This should be a no-brainer on their part. All you need to do is ask.

Remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Along with by-pass marketing, you need an optimized author online platform. If you'd like to learn how to create one or take an existing one up-a-notch, check out:  CREATE AND BUILD YOUR AUTHOR ONLINE PLATFORM - Website Creation to Beyond Book Sales.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Sound of Story

By Suzanne Y. Cordatos

The cool music director of my daughter’s 5th grade band goes for classic rock ‘n roll and traditional marches— the stuff that sounds good really loud. The young people haven't yet developed the ability to play a range of sounds through their shiny new instruments, so these pieces sound good the louder the better!

Does your work-in-progress sound too one-note?

  • Is your writing packed with lightning-paced action?
  •  Do you play tour guide for your readers, meandering through description (and avoiding nasty things like confronting your beloved character with bad guys and car chases?)
  • Is witty, contemporary dialogue your thing?
  • Do you stay in your comfort zone by relying heavily on one of these elements?

A radio hit tells us we’ll “miss the sun when it starts to snow” and we'll know you "love her when you let her go.” Without contrasts, it is difficult to recognize what is sometimes right in front of our noses. In a good book, readers are more compelled to turn pages when emotional highs and lows pull them along. Who doesn't like to cheer in the stands when a favorite character is the underdog?

Layer notes in your composition

  •          Make satisfying “ups” by writing worst-case “downs”
  •          If your story flies at a fast pace, how will the climax stand out?
  •          If the characters don’t slow down to offer their thoughts, when will the reader identify with a character and process what is happening?
  •     Talking-head characters need feet grounded in reminders of setting, so a reader can walk along. 

Musicians grow in talent when they add notes and technique to their repertoire. The conductor guides an ensemble through the score to convey the composer’s intended volume and feeling: soft pianissimo, loud forte, dramatic rhythm, or soothing flow. Music can play upon emotions like a dance, a falling in and out of love. My other talented daughter is singing this weekend in a production of Les Miserables with Colchester Community Theater. The music in Les Mis has the power to make one feel hope, anger, love, determination, longing and despair—and I’m probably missing another half dozen emotions in this list! Who doesn't love a good show (OR BOOK) that makes us laugh and cry, often at the same time?

Warning: One-note novels can be boring and exhausting to read.  
For a more interesting balance, alternate scenes with moments of contemplation—a quiet opportunity for your main character to reflect on what has gone down. More importantly, it will give your reader time to worry about what comes next. 

Have you enjoyed a book especially "musical" in its emotional complexity? When you read, do you like to feel you are in the competent hands of a good conductor? Share some titles!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Set Goals for Your Writing Career

     “Never quit dreaming.” That’s what my eighty-four year old mother-in-law told my husband. Even at her age, she dreams and works toward them. Good advice, and one we writers should take to heart in the new year. Dreams change but should never depart. Reaching our dreams requires planning.

     Here’s my suggestions for setting goals for your writing career.

1.     Is this really for you?

       What do you like to write? What do you read? What do you enjoy? Do have other obligations that come first? Can you balance them with writing? Are you willing to dedicate writing time every day? If you follow Christ, discern God’s will for you in this area. If or when you publish a book, are you willing to promote it?

      Think about these things. Don’t be caught unawares.

2.     Break it down into bite-sized pieces.

     When I started learning the craft of writing, I divided my goals for the long haul:

a.     6 month goal

b.     3 year goal

c.     Lifetime goal.
The point is to determine a plan that you will turn dreams into reality.

3. Mark it down, Baby.

     Each year, I use a wall calendar with big squares. I write my goal for that month at the top of the sheet. This could change later in the year, but the calendar shows me what I’m shooting to reach. Then, I break it down week by week on the calendar. 

     The point is to write down your goals. Don’t just keep them in your mind. Put them in tangible wording. Be realistic. Be fair. Be determined.

     Then at the end of the year, measure your success at meeting goals. Decide what you need to change or incorporate in the next year. Where have you failed or procrastinated? Do you maintain a strong desire and/or need to keep writing or has that changed?

4. Include a time for learning.

         Educate yourself in the craft. What do you need to study? How can you best train?

Here’s some suggestions:

a.     writing groups/loops

b.     online courses

c.     writing craft books

d.     critique groups

e.     In-person conferences and/or workshops

f.     Blogs that focus on writing

    Consider a combination of any and all these. How can you best spend your time and money? Most of us can’t do everything, but we must keep learning while we write.

5. Who influences you?

         Become accountable to a mentor or critique partner. Network with authors online and in person. Listen to them. "More writers become published through the recommendation of another author than by a pitch to an editor." (quote from award-winning, multi-published Christian author Lena Nelson Dooley). With certainty, we can learn from other's experiences.

     Learn from publishers, editors, and agents that have been there and understand the best ways. Become a valuable team member with your publisher.

     Don’t spend time with ones who say you can’t. Seek out people you say, “keep trying.” Associate with people who help you, build you up, encourage you.

6. How’s your energy level?

      Energize through leaving off sugars and fats that drain your vitality.
      Moving your body heightens creativity and invigorates you stamina.
      Love what you do.

7. Pray

     A Christian should never start a new year or make goals without consulting the Heavenly Father in the plans. Maintain contact with God regardless of where your career takes you.

8. Me? A Mentor?

      We’re all at different levels. Someone just beginning to write can learn from someone who’s studied for years.    

     An unpublished writer can gain valuable help from an author that’s published.

     If you’ve published one or two books, you learn from a multi-published author.

     Wherever you are on the path, you have learned lessons you can share. Consider being a mentor to someone else. Teaching will strengthen the lessons you’ve learned, and networking can broaden your base.

In summary,

     Survey your desires and accomplishments in the past year. Write your goals for the new year, for each month, for every week. Make it something you can control. Being published or contracting for more sales is technically out of our hands, but following these guidelines with persistence makes those things doable. So, survey, keep goals, and dream on, writers.

     Since this is near the beginning of the year, I'm on a goal-setting binge. If overeating is a problem, check out my post about setting goals for healthier eating this year. Find it at

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Do You Have an Online Marketing Focus?

By Karen Cioffi

Online marketing can be overwhelming. It can be time consuming, at times expensive, and at times complicated. Or, it can be more work than we can comfortable handle. This is where online marketing focus comes in.

But, what has focus to do with your online marketing strategy?


You must be aware of all the marketing courses, programs, ebooks, and numerous other learning tools that the heavy hitter marketers sent to your email box on a daily basis. Buy this now to make thousands selling your books – invest in this new course to get the best marketing program to date – get this ebook today and learn everything you need to know about creating ebooks and making money. The promotional emails go on and on.

If you’re like me, you’ve bought into a number of the new ‘flavor or the week’ marketing promotions. The goal for this year is to STOP. Don’t buy another product or service until you actually take advantage of (use) the ones you’ve already purchased.

You might be thinking that you don’t have the time to invest in the products you already bought and 'that new one' being promoted looks simple . . . and it doesn’t cost that much. Again, STOP. This is most likely what you thought about the other marketing products you bought. Make this year a year of accountability. If you bought it or buy it, use it.

Analyze and Take Action

Okay, so you have your marketing direction. Go over the marketing strategies you bought into and determine which are doable for you. This step is essential. If you take on a marketing strategy that you don’t have the skills to succeed at or is too time consuming, you’ll become discouraged and possibly waiver in your online marketing strides.

The best idea is to choose one or two strategies that you feel comfortable with. Maybe it’ll be using social networks more, maybe it’ll be posting regularly to your blog, maybe it’ll be guest blogging. Whatever it is, start working at it today and be consistent.

A key element to this marketing focus is to stay with these specific one or two strategies. Work them until you feel very comfortable with them and you begin to see results. Don’t add any other strategies until the ones you’re currently working on are on autopilot, or close to it.

This is online marketing focus.

The main idea behind it is to keep from grasping at shiny objects and wasting money. The next reason to use this strategy is to be focused. Focusing on one or two online strategies will enable you to stick with it and it gives you a clearer picture of what’s working for you.

Along with your one or two marketing strategies, add reviewing and tweaking your website to the mix. This action step should be done on a regular basis, maybe once a month or every other month. Make sure your website is current, focused, and has the needed elements to make it effective. This will help bring focused and targeted traffic to your site.

Need Help?

If you need help optimizing your author-writer platform, check out Create and Build Your Author Online Platform, my 6-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing. For details CLICK HERE.

Karen Cioffi