Friday, September 30, 2011

ACCEPTING THE JOURNEY pt. 2

Part of accepting the journey to publication is acknowledging what that entailed. As mentioned in my earlier post, I began Always Father’s Child to keep my dad’s memory alive. Seven years later, I had one badly written novel, but I was hooked on the process. Someone asked the other day whatever happened to AFC.

It's hiding in a box in the basement.

Armed with enough rejection letters to wallpaper our en suite, I began Dead Witness in the summer of 1991. The idea for the book came to me during a visit from my brother who has his own security company in Whitehorse. He was on the phone with one of his employees when a question popped into my mind. If I disappeared without a trace, would he have the resources to find me?

But then on October 12, 1991, our eldest son Jack died in a car accident. He was 23.

I had no intention of ever writing again. Six months later, I couldn't get the image of Jack's name on my Dedication page out of my mind. I returned to Dead Witness and finished the book three months later. I spent the next two years reading every How to book at the library I could find. Books like Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and Writing and Selling Your Novel by Jack M. Bickham. As luck would have it, in 1994 the internet finally came to Cluculz Lake. We had internet on dialup. Can you imagine!

I was new to surfing, so it took a few months to find a compatible writers group online, plus we were on dialup! I finally joined Novels-L in 1993. I was so excited to be there that I often did 100+ critiques a month, when only two were required. I'd discovered early on that the fastest way to learn how to create beautiful words was to critique someone else's.

Novels-L is where I met and worked with Meg Westley, Bob Zumwalt, Jennifer Chiaverini, Rebecca Coleman, Jayne Pupek, to name a few.

Eighteen months passed and I realized I needed more than Novels-L could offer, so I began searching for a writers group where I could have my full ms critiqued. In 1995, I joined J.R.Lankford’s Noveldoc, later renamed NovelPro.

You can’t see my face, but I’m smiling because my very first critique partner was the late Jan Holloway, author of White Witch Blue Lady. You never forget your first. Lucky for me, Jan, bless her heart, was unmerciful. While critiquing my ms, Jan reported that if she’d bought the book, she would have flung it against the wall, then demanded her money back. (Ouch) But her comment made me more determined than ever to write the best book I could possibly write.

I stayed with Novelpro until 2005. It was there I met my dear friend Keith Pyeatt, who to this day is always the first to critique my WIP. It’s also where I met authors JoAnn Hernandez, Derek Armstrong, Pat Brown, Art Tirrell, Alan Jackson, and my good friend Christopher Hoare. Novelpro was akin to boot camp. I swear I’m the writer I am today because of admin J.R. Lankford (Jamie) and the Novelpro members.

After leaving Novelpro in 2005, I joined Derek Armstrong’s DeadlyProse. I also joined a Canadian writer’s group outside of Calgary led by my dear friend Chris Hoare. I’m with both groups today. I’ve worked with such outstanding writers as Vicki L. Smith and Martha Engber, again to name a few.

We all understand the solitary life of a writer. That's why I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to have critique partners you can trust. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said I wrote probably 22 drafts of Dead Witness, not counting the eight more I did for the paperback and e-book editors.

Now would be a good time to mention that while I respectfully considered every critique comment/suggestion I receive, the final decision was and always will be mine. 

And yes, while searching for a publisher for 24 years, I hit bottom a few times. But every time I did, every time I was certain I would never find a publisher, one image kept me going. That was Jack’s name on the dedication page. If you have a copy of my book, you’ve seen his name there. In fact, the page facing Chapter One shows:

In memory of Jack and Jody.



Jack and Jody were twins. December 30, 2006, 15 years after Jack passed, Jody had a massive heart attack and died.

The year following Jody's death is a blur. I know I quit writing, but I can’t remember for how long. I don't know why it took me another year to join a grief support group. I do remember that almost every time I went to Prince George to a meeting I’d lock my keys in the car and would have to pay $40 to get a tow driver to open my door for me. Eight out of 10 times! It felt like God was trying to tell me something.

One of these days I should read my 2008 journal and find out when I started writing again. Because obviously I did. How else could what began in 1984, as a sentimental notion, end as me being published in 2008.


Right about now I'm like to tell you how sweet and dear Jack and Jody were, how interesting it was to raise twins, how much I loved to hear Jody giggle, see Jack's grin when he knew I knew he was up to something. But that's not what this is about. Besides, I made a promise to keep my blogs under 800 words, and I've already broken that promise. Today's post is closer to 900.

This is my journey, good and bad. 

Next time I'd very much like to share how Dead Witness came to be my first published novel.

Thanks for listening.
--
joylene

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MuseItUp Publishing: Come celebrate our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!



MuseItUp Publishing: Come celebrate our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!: Come celebrate with us on Saturday, October 1st, from 8-10p.m. EST when MuseItUp Publishing officially turns ONE YEAR OLD! We're the baby in the epublishing world but we know how to rock 'n roll.

Tons of doorprizes to be offered that night, so don't miss the party.

Our celebration will be held in the chat room at: CHAT ROOM If it's the first time you're joining us in the chat room you'll first need to set up a FREE account by registering. Come and meet the authors, staff, and publishers of
MuseItUp Publishing and find out what makes us tick.

See you Saturday night! Lots of yummy cyber food and drinks will be served.


As many of you know, a while back Christopher Hoare, my good friend and critiquing partner, author of the Iskander Series, introduced me to Lea Schizas, publisher at MuseItUp Publishing. I'd already attended several of the free Muse Online Writers Conferences, which reminds me:

I'm not going to embarrass Chris further by saying what a great guy he is, just to add that because of his generosity, MuseItUP Publishing is about to release the e-book version of my suspense thriller Dead Witness in the next few weeks. Could even be November; I'm not sure.


I hope you can attend Muse Online conference and their First Anniversary party. We're going to have a blast. I love doorprizes, don't you?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

ACCEPTING THE JOURNEY

Writing excites me. Always has. But it wasn't until my first heartbreak at seventeen when I realized how much writing impacted my life. How crucial it was to my well being. I filled ten pages with wrenching emotions when I was seventeen, positive I'd never recover. Yet, even then, having already filled nine diaries, I knew my connection to writing ran deeper.

Honestly, what does a seventeen-year-old know about suffering anyway?

Hormones aside, drama aside, at seventeen when I hurt, I wrote. When I didn't understand life, I wrote. When people confused me, I wrote. When I had tons of stuff to do, I wrote.

There were no computers, and the only place you could find a typewriter was in an office or a typing class at school. All I had was paper, pen, and Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl playing on the radio.


Hey where did we go,
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow,
Playin' a new game,
Laughing and a running hey, hey
Skipping and a jumping
In the misty morning fog with
Our hearts a thumpin' and you
My brown eyed girl,
You my brown eyed girl.



Other times it may have been the Zombies's She's Not There.



I can't tell you how many times I agonized on the written word while listening to Roy Orbison's Crying. The version with kd lang is even more beautiful and still gives me goosebumps.





When I'm writing a difficult and painful scene today, Crying can still be heard. Or maybe something from Jann Arden, Sade, Dire Straits, Etta James ....

At seventeen I switched from a diary to a journal because I needed more space to express myself. Then in 1983, I lost my dad, he was only 56. A stack of journals nestled under my bed, I started my first novel. I thought I could write my dad's story so he would live forever.



It's interesting that at thirty I assumed I knew enough of him to do that. I didn't. But being stubborn and bullheaded, I wasn't about to quit. I wrote a fictional account of our relationship on an IBM typewriter, titled it Always Father's Child, and in 1987 bought my first computer.



Seven years later, when I was finished what turned out to be a coming-of-age story, I queried publishing houses and agents across North America. In 1991, in a hand-written response from a renown Canadian publisher, he advised me to keep writing. Even though the book was badly written, he got that I was hooked on the process.

I started writing because the pain of losing my dad was so great I had no recourse but to write. When I realized the book sucked, I did the next logical thing and began work on Dead Witness. Three months later, our eldest son Jack was killed in a car accident. I stopped writing

Months passed. Time blurred. So sure I'd never write again, I think I sat down at the computer one day in hopes that writing would drown out the noise in my head. I needed to preoccupy my brain. Dead Witness, the story I'd begun before Jack's death took on new meaning. I transposed my grief onto Valerie McCormick.

Nothing new in that; writers have been doing it for centuries. But one constant image kept running through my mind during the three years composing and the thirteen years waiting for Dead Witness to be publish. I saw Jack's name centered on the Dedication Page.




Blogging about this sweet soul is a huge step in my life. Until now, I couldn't blog about him because it hurt. And because the thought of his death mentioned or discussed online felt wrong. It still makes me uneasy. I'm not doing this for sympathy or discussion, but because I suspect I'm not alone. I know there are other writers who have suffered a great loss. And we struggle every day to come to grips with it.

As I continue in future posts to discuss my road to publication, I may mention Jack not because I need you to feel bad for us. I'm doing it because this is the story of my road to publication. It's not everybody's story. But perhaps it is for some.

What I hope is that this post brings back memories of the moment you knew you were destined to write. I hope it reminds you to accept who you are.

For me, I think of it as a new beginning. I am a published author who by sharing my past won't diminish the good or the bad, but accept it simply as part of the journey.

--
joylene

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Commonly Confused Words

© 2011 Katherine Swarts

 Katherine Swarts is a poet and inspirational writer from Houston, Texas. Her self-published poetry book Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts (the first volume in a planned series) was “written for naturally gloomy types like myself who are tired of ‘cheer up’ talk and need the comfort of ‘God does love you’ encouragement.” The poems in the book come from Katherine’s blog at http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com; contact Katherine at katherine@spreadthewordcommercialwriting.com for ordering information.
Commonly Confused Words

“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so.”

That old quote proved itself when I tried to confirm exactly who said it. A dozen famous characters are credited with originating the phrase—and each has advocates who “know this for a fact” and are ready to tear into anyone who disagrees. I’m sure I’ll hear from some of these if I personally credit anyone besides their top candidates; so I’m going to take the coward’s way out and avoid even mentioning any of the possibilities.

 
Some “things we know that ain’t so” have uglier consequences than heated arguments. Ask anyone who has mistaken the accelerator for the brake, or spoken condescendingly to a “receptionist” who turned out to be the company president. And though few people have been sued for confusing “principal” and “principle,” avoiding vocabulary mistakes is crucial to projecting a conscientious, intelligent professional image.


Last week’s post talked about commonly misspelled words. Today, we go on to commonly confused words. Here are ten pairs for starters:
1. Accept/Except: “Accept” means “to receive”; “except” means “excluding.”

2. Benefactor/Beneficiary: The benefactor does the giving, the beneficiary the receiving.

3. Complement/Compliment: “Complement” means “a necessary part of” or “to supplement something”; “compliment” means “a flattering statement.” (And the word that refers to free gifts is complimentary—like gift, it has an i in it.)


4. Continual/Continuous: “Continual” means “regularly recurring”; “continuous” means “uninterrupted.”

5. Disinterested/Uninterested: “Disinterested” means “objective” and may refer to someone, such as an arbitrator, who is very much involved in a situation. “Uninterested” means that someone is totally uninvolved and couldn’t care less.

6. E.g./I.e.: “E.g.” means “for example”; “i.e.” means “in other words.”

7. Farther/Further: Generally, “farther” refers to material, physical distance and “further” to less measurable quantities. Hence, “three miles farther” but “for further consideration.”


8. It’s/Its: “It’s” means “it is” or “it has”; “its” is the possessive form of “it.” One sentence demonstrating the difference: “It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.”

9. Mean/Median: Both are mathematical terms roughly meaning “average,” but they are calculated in different ways. When a sum is divided by the number of calculations that went into it (as in [3+9+12]/3=8), the result is the mean. A median is the midpoint of a list of numbers that is arranged from lowest to highest.

10. Principal/Principle: “Principal” means “first in rank” or “the person first in rank.” (The head of a public school is the principal. The amount of a loan before interest is the principal. The central issue in a situation is the principal issue.) “Principle” means “a basic standard or truth.”
Dozens more “Common Errors in English” are posted at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors. You may be surprised to learn what you’ve been getting wrong!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

BOOK MARKETING ROCKS

By our very nature, writers (people who spend ninety percent of their time alone) find marketing a daunting task. There are exceptions, but most of the authors I know admit that signings, readings, and interviews create anxiety not joy and they only market because they have to.

Even unpublished writers say they aren't looking forward to that part of their job and if given the choice will prefer to be left alone to write.

During a recent visit to Lauren F. Boyd's: My Path To Publication blog, in her post on Marketing Your Book - Offline she wrote "I don't know much about marketing. [...] Don't see a lot of blogs focusing on how to do it..."

I read that and realized I've contributed to this problem by keeping silent. Why? Two reasons. I don't feel qualified and I didn't want to bore you.


Yet, I've been marketing since I first published Dead Witness in July 2008. You'd think I'd have learned a thing or two?

Actually I have, and still am.


Because I was brought up to not toot my own horn, at signings you'll find me next to my bowl of candies, smiling and approachable. But not aggressive. I've bought too many useless gadgets from door-to-door salesmen to entice readers with a hard sell.

Instead you'll first see a huge poster warning that I'm the visiting author. Next to me will be stacks of my novels to prove it. I'll also have free bookmarks and candies (wrapped) on hand.



If you're brave enough to approach, after our initial greeting, you'll note I'm passionate about writing. During a brief but exciting synopsis of my books, you might even notice my eyes sparkle when I speak of my protagonists: Valerie McCormick (Dead Witness) and Brendell Kisepisim Meshango (Broken but not Dead).

Before you take a copy to the till, I'll autograph it. Then I'll show you where you can find my email address inside and say that I'd love to hear from you when you're finished. (News Flash: It just occurs to me that everyone who has ever approached ends up buying a copy!)

No, this isn't me. I took the photo.
I self-published my first novel, and in a future post I'll explain how and why. But for now, I want to mention that I spend days on the phone preparing for these book signings. I contact the vendors and request a date at their convenience. For Dead Witness I then contact my distributor and ask them to ship books to the store. For Broken but not Dead, I contact my publisher.

Announcements are emailed to newspapers, radio stations and news wires. I've got the standard formats already made up. Since starting marketing in 2008 I now have a list of contacts I notify personally. Posters, supplied by my publishers, are stuck up everywhere.



At this point you're may be wondering: If authors dislike book signings so much, why do them? Do they create sales?

Yes.

No matter how uneventful, signings create a buzz. I once had a bookstore manager tell me that although I sold no books during my visit, they sold 5 after I left.

And that brings me to my next question.

What is an acceptable sale?

I was brought up to never ask, but I think the reason authors hesitate to say is because they don't want to be compared. Which is sad and unfair. Weather, location, season, and day-of-week leave their mark. I've stayed at a bookstore for 4 hours and sold nothing. Somewhere else I've stayed 2 hours and sold 19.

Generally, I sell 3 to 5 books an hour. Not a huge amount, but a number I'm happy with. I once sold 10 books to the same customer. On the launch of Broken but not Dead, I autographed 30. The store has since sold 10 more.

The secret to marketing is to find your comfort zone, push at it gently and learn from the experience. Start by writing the very best book you can possibly write. Study, research, grow. Then employ every single opportunity available to present your book to the world. For instance, while we're visiting our newest grand-baby in New Brunswick next month, I'm doing a reading one evening at the Oromocto Public Library.

This past Thursday evening I did a reading at the Vanderhoof Public Library in Vanderhoof, B.C., I spoke for two hours about my path to publication, my love of writing. But more on that in a future blog. I've already reached my quota of words for today.


How about you? Have you grown to love book signings yet? Or are you like me and still learning to appreciate them?

--Happy Signing,
joylene

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Host: Vanderhoof Public Library

I'll be at the Vanderhoof Public Library tonight at 7 PM (Sept 15) reading from my novels Dead Witness, Broken but not Dead and my current WIP Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries. If you're in the area, do stop in. Did I mention I baked chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisins cookies?


 Meanwhile back at the lake:

A beautiful day and Fluffy took the opportunity to rest under the shade of a birch tree.


In the skies above, a lone jet headed to Vancouver.



Then the sun set...


and...

across the country, Blake slept peacefully.


Happy Reading. How was your evening?
--
joylene


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 7X7 Link Award

They say writers by their very nature are sensitive beings. I'm a writer, and yes I'm sensitive. A little too sensitive most days. Why else would I feel so bad that I lost a few followers and I don't know why. I also received a bad review for Dead Witness and couldn't even mention it until now. 

By our very nature to write we must be thin-skinned, fragile, softies--okay, that's pushing things, but it does bring me to my point. Receiving awards is a glorious thing. Yes, it most certainly takes time away from blogging, writing, housework, dirty stinky laundry and let's not forget: cleaning toilets. Let's hear a resounding YAY for awards.


Awards announce loudly that as bloggers we're appreciated.


Nancy S. Thompson: A writer's hopeful journey into the world of publishing has made my day by bestowing the 7 X 7 Link Award upon me. Thank you, Nancy! It's an award I will cherish.

As the name implies, I'm to list 7 of my previous blog posts that I believe represent: Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, Most Prideworthy. Not an easy task with 448 posts to pick from, but I'm up to. I'm to then pass this along to other recipients.

In no particular order:

1. Most Prideworthy - This may be cheating, but it would have to be the post announcing the birth of our 9th grandchild Blake. "It's a Boy!" I feel a certain sense of pride because I gave birth to Blake's wonderful daddy Cory. And without me there would have been no Cory and no Cory means... well, you get the idea.Yes, of course a huge applause goes to Blake's mummy Shannon.



2. Most Popular: "Ramona Moreno Winner, Author of the Wooden Bowl", the delightful children's story that just happens to also be bilingual.



3. Most Helpful: "Guaranteed Cure For Writer's Block", a tongue-in-cheek approach to igniting your creativity.



4. Most Controversial: "Self-Publishing, You Say?" The title speaks for itself, I think. You either believe in it or you don't.



5. Most Surprisingly Successful:  Will The Lake Freeze Over? I love this place I call home, so when so many of you left a comment, I was pleased.



6. Most Underrated"Probing For Answers in 2009." It was a post I wrote quite early on about the war in Afghanistan. I was surprised it didn't warrant a look. But as I said, it was early on.




7. Most Beautiful: Gail Bowen's and Martha Cheves Reviews of Broken but not Dead. I'm actually surprised I'm picking this one, but honestly, I am after all an author. These first two reviews quashed any fears I had over reader reaction to Broken but not Dead, which turned out to be beautiful thing.


Now to 7 bloggers: (if for whatever reason you decline the award, that's entirely okay)

1. Rainy Days and Mondays, Laurel-Rain Snow, because her blog is a wonderful place to be.

2. klahanie, A Man Challenging His "Inner Critic" because Gary's wisdom and knowledge is profound and deeply moving.

3. To Write, To Breathe, To Live, To Dance. Carol makes me smile every single time.

4. the Pastor's Wife Speaks is a safe a place to be.

5. So, You're a Writer... because Carrie Butler is full of inspiring thoughts and deeds.

6. One Writer's Journey, Penny Ehrenkranz is a writer's BF.

7. Trailowner, Christopher Hoare writes wonderful prose that always take me on an exciting journey.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

HOW TO WRITE Really Bad Fiction and Enjoy the Benefits

...of Rapid Rejection

 (Please give a warm welcome to my returning guest Hank Quense)

By Hank Quense
© 2011
Originally published by Writing-World.com March 2011

I'm an author of five books and over forty short stories along with a number of fiction writing articles. From my experience, I've learned a number important lessons and I want to pass them onto others. One important lesson involves getting a book published; it changes your life. No longer can you sit in your office and spend your time writing more fiction. Once you become a published author, you also become the book's marketing manager and its sales manager, a terrifying situation if you're not prepared for it.

To protect others from the trauma of this situation, I've put together a list of fiction writing techniques that will guarantee non-publication. Following them will ensure a rapid reply from editors who will use a preprinted form or a terse email. This rapid reply will allow you to maximize the rejections you receive in a given period of time.

Here is the list in no particular order:

• Always use adverbs! Lots and lots of adverbs. One of your writing objectives should be to use an adverb to modify at least fifty percent of your verbs. And don't forget about using them in dialog tags. Why show the reader a woman shredding a paper tissue? Make it easy on the poor readers. Tell them the woman is nervous. Thus, "He's making me so fidgety," she said nervously.

• A naked noun is evil! Adjectives exist to be used. Their primary purpose is to modify a noun, so make use of this most excellent writing technique. Load up your nouns with modifiers so the reader will have no doubts about the noun. "The skinny, ugly guy wore a hideous, ripped t-shirt, dirty, baggy pants and shredded sneakers." Here's an even better example of clever adjective usage: "The scrawny boy used his undersized biceps to try to pick up the clumsy weight and place it in the old-fashioned truck before the foul-mouthed old man became aware of his clever trickery." Get the idea? Remember, a naked noun is e-v-i-l!

• Use conversation. Don't limit yourself to dialog. Conversation is the stuff of life. Don't allow your characters to be stuck inside the story by restricting them to dialog that moves the story forward. Make your characters more life-like by letting them engage in idle conversation just like real people do.
" How you doing?"
"I'm cool. What's up?"
"I'm good. Couldn't be better. Watching the Yankees tonight?
"Who they playing? . . . Yada, yada, yada.
This stuff doesn't move the story along like dialog does, but it shows the characters are just as boring as real folk.

• Motivation is overdone. To properly show motivation requires a lot of creativity, time and words. It is much better to skip over that part and get right into the action. So what if the guy disarming the ticking bomb is only doing it because his shift doesn't end for two hours and he doesn't have anything better to do. The character doesn't have any motivation, but who cares; it keeps the story moving and doesn't slow it down with a lot of words explaining the motivation.

• Don't worry about Point of View rules. POV is perhaps the most technical of all aspects of writing and handling it correctly is time-consuming and requires advanced planning. Who needs all that extra work when there is another scene to write or another crisis to defuse. Most of the readers will figure it out and sort of follow the story.

• It's wise to develop writing habits such as peppering the page with -ing words. This technique will give your writing a pleasing sing-song effect. "Opening the door and running down the corridor while waving her hand, she tried shouting, calling attention to her life-threatening situation." Doesn't that sentence make you want to hum along from all the -ing words?

• Use empty words. Very, really, ever, still, just and others are words with no meaning but they do fill up sentences and make them look more impressive. Fiction writing is filled with opportunities to use these words and titillate the readers. With a bit of imagination, you can also use these words to punctuate the sentence.

• Why bother with multiple-dimensional characters? Flat characters work just as well. Flat characters can fight, love and die just as well as the more complicated ones, but take considerably less work. The simple approach gives you more time to write still more stories.

• Character Voice. This attribute allows the reader to identify the characters from their dialog "voices." What nonsense. That's what names are for. Just use the names in all the lines of dialog and the readers will be able to keep the characters straight.

Keep this list near your keyboard and refer to it frequently. Within a short time, your friends and family will be impressed by the huge stack of rejection notices you've accumulated. A side benefit is that your family will know you're really doing something in your office. Right now, they probably think you're goofing off and playing computer games.

If you chose to ignore this excellent advice, there are alternatives listed in my book, Build a Better Story. Note that following the advice in Build a Better Story can significantly increase the response time from editors. 





Hank's latest project is Zaftan Miscreants: Book 2 of the Zaftan Trilogy.  It will become available on October 15, 2011.  He assures me he didn't use any of these techniques in the process of writing the novel.

He started a new website to handle the growing number of stories set in Gundarland and Zaftan 31B: http://strangeworldsonline.com


Thanks so much, Hank. Please come back soon! 




Other quest spots by Hank: 
http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/2011/06/daytime-tv-valuable-addition-to-your.html
http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/2010/08/interview-with-author-and-funny-man.html

Monday, September 5, 2011

ASK PZM - Sept 2011: blurbs

What tools do you use when writing blurbs for your book clients?

First, a disclaimer: While I’m a good writer and spend a lot of time thinking about blurbs, loglines and taglines, I’m not a copywriter, which is a specialized writing skill. (Cathy Goodwin of www.goodcatmarketing.com/ is a copywriter I highly recommend.)

Second, I don’t think of tools so much as questions to ask before writing. This is akin to tossing a stone into water and watching the concentric circles expand out from the stone.

Who are the most likely readers for a book? What do they need to know about the book to realize this book is for them?

Who are the second most likely readers for a book? What does this second group of readers need to know about the book to be motivated to take an interest?

One way to think about how to write blurbs, logline and taglines for your book is to study the loglines for television shows. How are specific target audiences appealed to?

But there are often limitations on effectively reaching your book’s ideal target audiences no matter how good your blurb is.

Let me give you an example:

As a former Mrs. Lieutenant (the wife of a U.S. Army lieutenant), I know that the number one target audience for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” are current and former wives of low-ranking Army officers. And in my experience these women buy at the Army P.X. But I can’t get my self-published novel into the PX system because the books aren’t returnable.

When the novel came out in April 2008 I didn’t yet know about the numerous online military spouse communities. Plus the cost of the novel, set by Amazon’s BookSurge (now merged into Amazon’s CreateSpace), was too high for an unknown novelist’s book.

Today the publishing landscape has drastically changed, and I could focus on getting out the word to these online communities, especially with the price of the novel lower (thanks to CreateSpace’s pricing options) and the $2.99 price of the eBook versions.


You should accept that, even if you know the best target audience for your fiction or nonfiction book, you may not be able to reach that audience as effectively as you would like.

In a perfect world, though, we’ll assume that we can effectively reach our best target audiences. And if we can do this, then we have to figure out what resonates with these audiences.

Many years ago I worked for a product placement agency (putting products in movies). I taught younger agency staff how to write persuasive “pitches” to companies who might want to participate in a specific movie.

I said that we didn’t write what we thought was exciting about the movie’s opportunities, but what the company’s representative had to hear to understand that the movie was a good opportunity for his/her company. In other words, we had to switch our POV from our own to that of the potential company participant.


And this same POV (something we writers often struggle with in writing novels) is what we need to consider when writing blurbs, loglines and taglines: Not what we want to say about our book but what the potential target reader needs to hear to be motivated to be interested in our book.

While this sounds easy to do, it often isn’t. Thus I urge you not to feel “stupid” when trying to do this.


P.S. I’d like to add something else. If your Kindle version was priced several years ago, revisit the price now to see if it is in line with current eBook prices. Now that Kindle has lots of eBook competition, eBook prices are often lower. (I just ordered a book from Amazon and the paperback version was cheaper than the Kindle version.)

The August 29th Wall Street Journal article “New Economics Rewrite Book Business” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg began: “The economics of the book business are changing so rapidly the industry barely looks like it did just six months ago.”

The article goes on to mention that, due to “publishers bridging two worlds” (physical and digital), advances and print runs are being reduced.

In conclusion, while blurbs, logline and taglines will continue to be very important, if your book or eBook is not priced strategically in line with the changes in the book industry, you may be shooting yourself in the foot without realizing it.

Thus it’s important to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the publishing industry that can affect your book promotion decisions. And when you read a book blurb that you think is really good, consider how you can adapt your own blurbs to emulate that blurb!


(Special request: I’m looking for people who might like to read my new eBook-only novel “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” for a possible Amazon review. I can email review volunteers an ePub version to be read on a computer with the free software from www.calibre-ebook.com. But I know this novel is not for everyone; you have to like this kind of story. First see www.MollieSanders.com and then email me at pzmiller@millermosaicllc.com if you’d like a review copy.)

© 2011 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company http://www.MillerMosaicLLC.com. You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at her Amazon author page at http://budurl.com/PZMAmazonpage.



The Pampered Book Club (@pamperedbook on Twitter) will be discussing Phyllis's eBook LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS at a simultaneous tweetchat on Twitter and Facebook chat via the group's Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThePamperedBookClub/) on Thursday, September 8, at 7:30 p.m. EASTERN.  This is the first-time the group has tried a simultaneous chat.  You're all welcome to join in and see how this goes.