Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ask PZM: AudioBooks, Writers' Conferences, Screenwriting tips

Q: Do you recommend having audiobooks besides ebooks for self-published books?

This is an excellent question for which I do not have an answer as I personally have not yet tried creating audiobooks for any of my books or ebooks.

Yet I may be missing the boat.

In the Wall Street Journal print edition of July 22, 2016, the article “The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks” by Jennifer Maloney had the subhead: “Smartphones and multitasking have stoked an explosion in audiobooks. Publishers, spotting a juggernaut, are expanding their offerings and enlisting star narrators.”

The article begins:

“The digital revolution that flummoxed the music, movie and publishing industries has given rise to a surprising winner: the audiobook.

“Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment, whether walking to a meeting or sitting in a doctor’s office. For more multitasking book-lovers, audiobooks are the answer.”

What does this mean for self-publishing authors?

First, if star narrators are important to sales, can we afford to hire these narrators? Yes, there are freelance sites that have good rates for hiring audiobook narrators, but will these probably unknown narrators help us sell our audiobooks?

If we cannot afford star narrators, will we be able to get enough traction to make the effort of creating and promoting audiobooks worth our time and money?

And are audiobook sales up across all categories, or are there categories that do exceptionally well as audiobooks and categories that do exceptionally poorly as audiobooks?

Clearly each individual author needs to do specific research before making his or her own decisions about audiobooks, yet it is definitely an area on which we all should keep an eye.

If any of you reading this post have audiobooks for your own books, please share some of your experiences in the comments below.

Q. Is it important to attend writers’ conferences?

Another good question to which I do not have an answer now.

Years ago I attended several writers’ conferences, especially when I was the founding president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and these conferences can be very motivating. They can also be a good way to learn about the current publishing industry and to meet agents who are acquiring new clients.

Yet nowadays, with so many online ways to learn about the publishing industry as well as to “meet” agents, perhaps these conferences are not that necessary to a writing career.

Of course, it also depends on your time and money resources. If you have the time and money to attend writers’ conferences, do you research on which conferences would be the best for your genre(s) and goals, then pack your suitcase.

If, though, you feel you have better places to spend your writing resources (time and money), do not beat yourself up for not attending writers’ conferences. (Only beat yourself up if you’re a writer and you’re not writing!)

Q. Any new tips for screenwriters?

I have been experimenting with paying for the opportunity to pitch both feature film screenplays and TV pilot scripts through the site and I have been frustrated with the restrictions, including the two-page written pitch limit. (There is usually an oral pitch paid option besides the written pitch paid option.)

Now I have found a new site – – that has a unique option for paying for pitches (although there is still the two-page written pitch limitation).

Instead of paying one fee for one submitted pitch, you can pay one fee for up to three submitted pitches. You submit the loglines, pitches, and scripts of all three. Then the person to whom you are pitching chooses from the loglines as to which two-page pitch to read. Then he or she can move on to read that script if interested.

I have done two of these 3-for-1 pitches so far and have been surprised that both people chose the pitch for TV pilot SOLOMON’S JUSTICE rather than one of my other pitches. This unintended feedback can be very valuable even though both people passed on reading the TV pilot script.

Yes, it takes a commitment of time and money to test some of these options, and the results will vary. But you can try these at home!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at and her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at and her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at

Monday, August 8, 2016

News and Writing Tips

Phyllis Zimbler Miller will be guest hosting on August 10 on Ask PZM. Phyllis will discussing audiobooks, writers' conferences, and tips for screenwriters. Hope you can stop by. 

Today, I'm over at the IWSG blog with a small dose of encouragement. Love to see you there. 

I found the tips below among some of my old notes. Not sure where they came from, but they seemed worth mentioning. 

Stories are about a character wanting something because they've lost something. Loss lies behind most desires. Five questions to ask your protagonist:
  1. What have you lost?
  2. What have you gained?
  3. How has it changed you?
  4. How have you survived?
  5. What do you long for now?

I understand how busy you all are, so I've turned off comments. Next time...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

CLING TO GOD by Lynda R. Young

It's with great honour that I help fellow admin Lynda R. Young share the news of her daily devotional book CLING to GOD. 

Congratulations, Lynda!

Cling to God is a book of devotionals for every day of the year. The aim is to encourage Christians in their faith, to help them think about their beliefs and learn more about God. The devotions are short and inspirational so that people with busy lifestyles will still be able to spend time with the Lord each day. It will appeal to a wide Christian audience, to those new in their faith as well as those matured beyond milk and honey.

Author Bio: Lynda R. Young, a Christian first, writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Stressing

It’s time for another group posting of the IWSG: Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

IWSG is the brainchild of our noble Ninja Captain and leader Alex J. Cavanaugh

Our hashtag is @IWSG

The awesome co-hosts today are:

Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders! 

Please stop by and thank them for their time. 

August Question:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published? Add this question and your answer to your post.

As you may have heard, here at IWSG, one of our brilliant Admins came up with the idea of posting a specific question each month for those who were at a loss as to what to post about. I think this is a wonderful idea. However, this month I'm not participating because, if you've read my profile, you've already heard the answer. I began my first novel when I lost my dad in 1983 in hopes that I could write his story and keep him alive. Only problem was I didn't know his story other than as my dad. As you can imagine, the book lacked a certain appeal. But the seven years spent writing it left me hooked on the process.  

Instead of rehashing the same old woe is me I lost my dad, I would like to whine. 

Did I mention I don't enjoy whining? 

When I was growing up, whining was never considered an option. Nor was bragging; another reason why marketing is difficult for me.  My parents believed in hard work, eating humble pie, and always being ready to help someone; it's only a showoff who blows her own horn. 

Which is fine because I actually don't feel sorry for me, I'm just feeling stressed. If it weren't for prayer, meditation and Tai Chi, I'd be in trouble. On a scale of 1 to 10 stress-wise, I'm currently 5. I've been 1. I've also been 12. Five isn't a big deal. I'll get through this. There's so much to be grateful for: My life, my family, my friends, my publisher, my cats, my writing buddies, food, wine; not necessarily in that order. Everything always works out for me. 

But life is changing and I don't adapt well to change. I like structure, order, a little complacency. 

The home we built 24-years ago has been on the market for a total of four summers. (We took last summer off) The scary part... I don't think this is the year it will sell either. 

I'm not sleeping well. I'm behind on marketing, critiquing, blogging, editing, commenting, and all my other online duties. My computer is ready to croak. I'm either spending beautiful summer days inside cleaning a well lived in 2500 sq. ft house (3 floors) or trying to get my computer to unfreeze. 

Then there are the gardens, the lawns, the deck to tend to when it's not pouring out. How can two seasoned human beings, two senior cats and visiting family (active grandchildren) make such a mess? How would a faller feel if he fell 40 trees and returned the next day to find they'd all grown back? That's what it feels like to have your house on the market. 

Thanks for listening. I needed to get this off my chest. Doesn't fix the problem of me trying to get everything done that I need to do before Matowak's release on November 1, 2016--BUT--I can mark this post off my list! 

One down, 99 to go.

I'm off to meditate for a bit, then I'll meet you back at your blog. But before I go, last week I had a Rafflecopter for Matowak Playing Cards.  I'm thrilled to announce the winner is:


Juneta Key!

Next month's question: 

September - How do you find the time to write in your busy day?