3 P’s of Internet Marketing

1 comment:
Promotion. Publicity. Public Relations.

Those three P's are sometimes used interchangeably, but promotion is really the construction, or the building, built on the foundation of the other two. Do you know the difference between publicity and public relations?

If you have an Internet business, (And if you're a writer, you do!)then you darn well need to know the difference because then you’ll know how to drive traffic to your website. Traffic is what you want because the bigger the traffic, as in number of visitors, the better your chance for Internet success.

Publicity

Publicity means free advertising. Publicity is gaining free exposure by using the services of others. For example, those who write articles for article content sites do so because they get a byline and have the opportunity to include their own URL in the article. They may be writing for free, but they hope to gain exposure for their own website and their name (their brand) in the byline. They also get a chance to post a bio which will increase the name recognition factor.

Public Relations

Public relations is promoting a product, i.e. your Internet business, your name, your book, or your brand in order to create favorable reactions or positive impressions on the minds of the public. You do this with an effective website. An effective website is one that pulls in visitors. You can ask any online marketing pro, and they’ll all tell you that the answer to pulling in visitors is content. You must have something interesting on your website that visitors need to know or want to read.

Help For Non-Writers

If you’re not a professional writer, you can have decent content anyway by purchasing articles written by good writers. Article packages are affordable, and they come in every category from Arts and Entertainment to Writing and Speaking. Chances are they have articles in categories relevant to your website. If they don’t, you can contract for specific articles to be written. You can populate the content of your website easily and within your Public Relations budget.

If you don't have a budget at all, then learn how to write concise, clean articles on subjects about which your target audience wants information. These articles or blog posts don't have to be long, but they do have to be grammatically correct, interesting, and represent good research.

Good writing is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. The more visitors; the more visibility, and visibility means more public awareness. That will increase the positive effects of your other advertising and marketing efforts.

Takeaway Truth

Always think momentum. Anything you can do to increase your momentum is time, energy, and money well spent.

Review: Calculated Risk

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Calculated Risk is a warm, loving romance with plenty of heat--the perfect summer read. Elaine Raco Chase, pictured at left, is an author with a witty touch and an ear for dialogue.

Product Details

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 247 KB
Publisher: Elaine Raco Chase (June 13, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0055PQ4BO
Lending: Enabled

This book is also available on all the popular digital publishing platforms.

Product Description

"Lady, I want you to stop seducing my son! Hell, what are you, thirty-two, thirty-four, Rob is seventeen..there's room for a whole other person! If you don't stop I'll have you arrested for moral turpitude!"

Thus in one of Nashville's poshest restaurants began a stream of threats against Stephanie Brandt along with a heavy hand 'mangling' her shoulder, followed by a bill shoved into the middle of her quiche by a big man wearing work boots, denim and a T-shirt with an obscene foreign word printed on it.

Until Quintin Ward stormed into her life with his threats and accusations, Stevie had not known his son Rob even existed, let alone was her mail room clerk. She definitely was not interested in a seventeen-year-old kid, but as Quintin stalked out of the restaurant she remembered thinking: "Now there's a man whose ass could sell a million pairs of jeans!"

Updated with new scenes from previously-printed Silhouette Desire novel.

My Thoughts

Stevie Brandt is the typical Elaine Raco Chase heroine: smart, savvy, good-natured, and a consummate businesswoman. In other words, she's like most of us modern women. Let's not forget she's attractive, well-dressed, and has perfectly manicured nails--unlike most of us modern women. If only we had it all together like Stevie. But wait. Stevie, like any good romance novel heroine, isn't perfect. There's one thing she doesn't have, and that's a man in her life.

When she finally meets a man who's appealing, he's accusing her of seducing his teenage son! That's the kind of trouble no woman wants, and Stevie is no exception. When she tries to correct the son's misinterpretation of her kindness, she just lands herself in more hot water. In the end, the irate father and she end up plotting together to show the son how boring older women can be.

What follows could easily be the plot of a Hollywood romantic comedy. With dialogue that zings, this sensual contemporary romance rates high on the heat meter. Throw in an absolutely adorable teenage son, and you've got the makings of a book that screams for a sequel to tell the son's story--after he's grown of course.

Takeaway Truth

A good book is a little vacation from the ordinary.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

2 comments:
Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success.

No, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success with my ebooks. Because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer, I'm passing on what I have learned as well as how I have put that knowledge to work for me.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. Maybe you can achieve your own brand of success in a shorter period of time.

So far, I've discussed:

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

As I've stated, my daughter Adina Reeves is my resident graphic artist. She was a graphic artist for the Houston Chronicle before deciding to teach art in high school. She's done a lot of freelance graphic design work for authors and other clients over the years.

I asked her to help me compose a list of characteristics of a good graphic design. Together, we came up with this list of what makes a good book cover design.

1. An image that evokes an emotional response in the reader.

You want your reader to laugh or cry or get cold chills. Evoking an immediate response makes the reader want the book.

2. A color palette that reaches out, in a good way, to readers.

Professional art departments at publishing houses have guidelines they follow when designing book covers. About 10 years ago, a yellow book cover appeared and sold extremely well. Before that, yellow was considered an unsuccessful color to place on a book. Within a year, there were dozens of yellow covers. Same thing with the “cartoon” covers of chick lit. When they first appeared and drew attention, other publishers followed suit. Pretty soon, you knew if you saw a cartoon cover, that the book was chick lit or romantic comedy.

Covers that reach readers draw attention to the book, and that's what you want. Colors go in and out of fashion. Check out what’s hot at the Color Institute.

3. Fonts that are easily readable but also striking.

Have you ever seen a font you just can’t decipher? I have. Old English-type fonts and some script fonts just defeat me. Have you ever seen a font on a book cover that makes you think of the font used in emails? Would that affect your opinion of the value of the book or your opinion regarding who designed the cover? Professional artist or author posing as artist?

4. A composed image that’s “balanced” and accurately represents the emotional tone of the book.

Artists work with the Rule of Thirds. At least that’s what I call it. An image is more interesting if it’s in a third of the page than in dead center. Look at a bunch of book covers that you like, and some you don’t like, and see if you can list some reasons that they either work for you or don’t. Get used to composing photographs you take with this "thirds" style.

5. A cover that hints at the characters involved, but does not show their faces, makes the reader pick up the book.

Covers that artistically show “body parts” are more enticing than those that show real faces. At least I think they are and so do most artists. Readers have prejudices about what they think is appealing in men and women. When a reader is involved in a book, he or she knows what the character looks like because their imagination tells them.

When a cover illustration goes against their imagination’s offering, they don’t like it. When a cover shows a face that looks like Angelina Jolie or Vince Vaughn, and a reader doesn’t like either of these actors, then the reader may not buy the book just because of that.

Believe it or not, I still have more to say about this subject. Drop by next week for Cover Art, Part 3.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Video Promotion Basics

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A lot of authors and regular business people are using videos to promote a name, product, or company. If you're doing this, you've probably already uploaded a video to YouTube and other public websites that host video clips.

My daughter has made a few videos, and I've asked her to help me produce one. Since I will eventually do this, I researched ways to expose one's video to the world. Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Spread Link Around

1. Place a link or clip on your personal social networking page.

2. Place a link or clip on your website and your blog.

3. Place a link in your signature file for emails.

4. Place a link in your signature for groups and forums to which you belong.

Send CD/DVD

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth? If you’ve made hard copies of your video, don’t hesitate to pass them out. A jewel case of blanks is cheap. Here are some places to send the DVD/CD.

1. Include a disc in your press kit.

2. If you’re donating items to a conference, include discs of your video.

3. If you’re pitching yourself as a speaker, include a disc to the person who books engagements.

4. If you’re doing a personal appearance (speech, workshop, book signing, etc.) bring some discs to pass out.

Takeaway Truth

Try these new promotional tools and see if they work for you.

Pure Inspiration

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Though I talk a lot about how professional writers produce copy on schedule, not upon inspiration, there are times when the white heat of inspiration strikes all authors. They must get the idea or the phrase or the words down immediately lest they lose them forever.

Long ago, the great American writer Henry David Thoreau wrote: "Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with."

Be Prepared

Get a journal, a voice recorder, or something that will enable you to get the words from your brain to the page. There are moments when every writer has flashes of genius. Keep a notepad on your nightstand. I don't know how many times I've awakened from a dream with a sentence or an idea that I wish to remember.

If you're driving and this happens, phone your home and leave a message on your answering system that records your brilliant idea. Or set up an account with a voice-to-text service. Many are free, or, like Dial2Do, charge only a small amount each month.

Takeaway Truth

Find a way to capture moments of pure inspiration because they're a gift.

Using Slang

2 comments:
Let's talk about writing using contemporary slang.

I often include current slang words and/or phrases in my freelance writing because they give a certain immediacy and conversational tone that make the content accessible to a wide audience.

Not only do kids and those who strive to be ultra-cool talk in the latest slang, but also the slang is understood by the general audience too, thanks to movies and TV.

In books, it’s harder to know which slang word or phrase to use because the lag time between conception and publication is rather large, especially in the printed book world. What’s hip today may not be hip tomorrow, or, worse, may mean the opposite in a year or more which is how long it usually takes legacy published books to hit the shelves.

Ebook writers have it easier since we can edit content fairly quickly and easily. Still, we don't want to constantly be tinkering with a book's text file.

What’s A Writer To Do

1. Choose judiciously. Some words that were cool a generation ago are still cool, i.e., the word cool. Sure, sick may be the word of choice today, but it may be passe next year whereas the word cool has been around a few decades and is still useful.

2. Don’t inundate your writing with slang. Use it carefully to depict only a few characters rather than all of them. If you’re writing juvenile fiction, you may try to write all characters rapping back and forth in their own slang language, but if you eavesdrop on kids, you’ll find that in general conversation, most of them talk like the rest of us with an occasional slang word thrown in for effect.

3. Consult any of the print or online slang dictionaries. There are a bunch of them. If you haven’t done this before, just Google that search phrase. Many of these are updated often from once a day to multiple times a day. If you haven’t consulted a slang dictionary before, try not to be offended by some of the words and definitions.

Takeaway Truth

Writers must write for the audience that exists today, not twenty years ago, yet the writing should be as clear in meaning today as in twenty years from now.

Review: On Any Given Sundae by Marilyn Brant

4 comments:
This week, I read On Any Given Sundae by Marilyn Brant.

Though I read this romance novel on my Kindle, it's available on other ebook platforms so visit your favorite ebook retailer to pick it up.

Book Details

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 405 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Marilyn Brant (May 31, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0053QI4I6
Lending: Enabled

Product Description

Nothing tops the sweetness of an unexpected love...

When Elizabeth's uncle Siegfried and Rob's uncle Pauly rush off to Europe for a month, they temporarily relinquish the reins of their ice cream shop to their respective niece and nephew -- two people who may have grown up practically next door to each other but who have next to nothing in common.

Elizabeth "Please Don't Call Me Lizzy" Daniels is a small-town Wisconsin girl at heart. Shy and inexperienced at love, the frizzy-haired dessert cookbook writer still resides in her quaint hometown of Wilmington Bay, stutters painfully when nervous and is only comfortable with her laptop and her tiny circle of cooking pals. She must come out of hiding over the summer to help her uncle, but she's convinced her childhood crush, Rob, barely knows she exists.

Roberto "You'd Better Call Me Rob, or Else" Gabinarri is the town's golden boy and former football star who left home after high school, made a splash in the big city and never looked back. He has to return to Wilmington Bay to uphold a promise to his uncle, but he's counting the minutes until he can escape to the relative anonymity of his fast-paced, commitment-free city life and the sports-themed restaurant he owns in Chicago. Despite his chattiness and charm, Rob was always intimidated by quiet, brainy girls like "Frizzy Lizzy," and he isn't pleased to be back in the place where people like her still see him as that popular but dumb jock -- an image he worked for almost a decade to shed.

The unlikely pair tries to make the best of being stuck together, but Elizabeth has a pressing publication deadline, and Rob has an Italian mother bent on lining up potential hometown brides for him. Rob comes up with an idea -- something that might help them both -- but it involves just a bit of family deception. With time running out to finish her cookbook and her friends already stretched to the max trying to assist them, Elizabeth reluctantly agrees.

Neither Rob nor Elizabeth are used to playing games of pretense, but can love, hot summer nights and, maybe, some chocolate sauce, caramel and whipped cream...turn their farce into reality?

My Opinion

First, let me give you fair warning: do not start a diet while reading this book!

The desserts mentioned will have you salivating. This is like the novel version of one of those Food Network dessert shows. Everything is described in mouth-watering detail, and all the luscious sweets sound almost as mouth-watering as the book's hero Rob, once a high school football star and now a successful restaurateur.

Of course, every high school hero has a girl who carried a torch for him, and Rob has Lizzy, once a frizzy-haired, awkward teen, but now, a lovely young woman who's made peace with her liabilities and capitalized on her assets. Until Rob comes back to town.

On Any Given Sundae is a delightful concoction containing the elements I love and often write in my own romance novels: small towns; a handsome hero who wants to be loved for himself and his brain, not just for his awesome body; a heroine who's loving and giving and who now has a lovely exterior that matches her interior; and a secondary cast of characters (including an Italian mom) to help spread the love and humor around.

Takeaway Truth

Everyone knows that romance novels have happy endings, but the journey to that happy ending is why we read romance novels. Rob and Lizzy will delight you in this gentle, sweet love story as they take that journey.

Dos Mojito, Bruce Campbell

7 comments:
The new season of Burn Notice, one of my favorite TV series, begins tonight. I love the show and its characters, especially Bruce Campbell, the rangy actor who stars as Sam Axe. Bruce is perfect in the role. Let me tell you why.

(You'll pardon me, Mr. Campbell, if I call you Bruce. Your persona is way too informal for me to address you so formally.)

When Burn Notice debuted, I loved it from the first scene. In fact, I fell in love with the personality of the show and with Sam Axe when Bruce, as the ex-Seal Sam, leaned back in his chair and told Michael Westen: "You know spies. Bunch of bitchy little girls."

That's still the best line in a series where every episode has great lines. Kudos to you writers. You know what you're doing.

No Second Bananas

What makes Burn Notice so intensely enjoyable isn't just Jeffrey Donovan who is Michael Westen, burned spy. I've liked him since he was the younger brother in The Pretender. I can't imagine anyone else playing the Westen role. The secondary characters and what they bring to the party is that same element of being the only ones who could play their respective roles.

Gabrielle Anwar is Fiona, sometimes gunrunner, and Bruce is Sam Axe. (Sharon Gless is superb also but needs to be used more. I'm waiting for a character arc where she tries to quit smoking. She would be one mean bitch, and that makes the comedy quotient high.)

Bruce Campbell Has Charisma

What I find so interesting is the considerable charm and charisma Bruce exudes. I'm often puzzled when I find myself watching one of his B films i.e. Terminal Invasion which was on a while back. No matter how campy or cheap the film, there's something about him that makes you watch.

I'd love to see him win Best Supporting Emmy for Burn Notice along with the show sweeping the awards. It deserves them all. But it seems to be a rule of thumb that the things I like best never get the awards.

Takeaway Truth

Great TV is rare. Burn Notice is great TV. Don't call me tonight. I'll be in front of the television, absorbed in the world of burned spy Michael Westen and his buddies. I plan to have a pitcher of mojitos available too.

What Authors Earn

3 comments:
My friend Brenda Hiatt publishes Show Me The Money, an annual report on how much authors are actually getting from publishers for novels.

She just updated the information in March. If you’ve ever wondered what Bantam or Harlequin or St. Martin’s Press or any of the other publishers pay in advances and royalties, as well as how much the average earnings are, now is your chance to find out.

Since publishers jealousy guard print run stats, sometimes from even their authors, it's exciting to see real facts and figures.

Things are so different with indie publishing. An author can look at her sales report any minute of any day and know exactly what she's selling and earning. Not so with traditional publishing when royalty statements are sent twice a year, and it takes an expert to interpret the reports.

For real numbers, check out Brenda’s Show Me The Money.

Takeaway Truth

If you want to be a professional writer, you must tend to the business end of writing as well as to the creative.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

2 comments:
Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success.

No, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success with my ebooks. Because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer, I'm passing on what I have learned as well as how I have put that knowledge to work for me.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. Maybe you can achieve your own brand of success in a shorter period of time.

So far, I've discussed my first rule, Ebook Success: Get Educated and Ebook Success: Write Business Plan.

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Your ebook must have a great cover. In fact, I believe the cover art that appears in the online book catalog or listing is even more important for an ebook than for a print book. Maybe that's because if you walk into your local bookstore, you can pick up the book, smell that new book smell, study the cover art intently, see its vivid colors, flip through the pages, and all the other little things one does when selecting a book.

With an ebook, you don't get any of those other sensory impressions. The only one you get is a visual sensation so that visual clue must absolutely knock your socks off. It has to be so good that it immediately makes you want to read the Product Description or blurb.

What Constitutes A Kick Ass Cover

In my opinion, a KAC is one that makes someone want to buy the book without reading the blurb or anything. See KAC; click Buy. Of course, when this happens, you get people buying your book who ordinarily would never buy a romantic comedy or science fiction or whatever, but that's a minor point.

Let me make the disclaimer here that my daughter Adina Reeves, who is a graphic artist, creates my covers. I know what I want, and I make a mock-up to show her. We discuss the cover design, and she tells me how it can be better. *g* Then she creates the cover art.

She produces art files in a size specific for Amazon Kindle (screenshot and "catalog") and Smashwords. Those two actually require 2 different pixel size images. Nook, XinXii, and others can use one of these two sizes. Then she creates a grayscale of the image for the Kindle screenshot that appears on the Kindle itself. So when I say I do such and such, I mean I design the design and my artist makes it happen.

Yes, she does freelance work for other authors. She'll be listed on the Resource Directory I'll publish when I conclude the various parts of the Cover Art presentation.

Hallmarks of a KAC

1. Cover conveys not just the genre but the tone, style, reader experience, and story itself.

I'm going to use my books as examples because those are the ones I'm most familiar with. My first ebook Just One Look alone has sold more than 20,000 copies in less than 3 months. I think it's because the cover says:

Genre: romance
Tone: sexy
Style: informal
Reader experience: fun
Story itself: sexy, romantic comedy that maybe has a scene involving black, thigh-high stockings

All those things are true. Now, this next sentence is very important. The cover denotes that not just with the graphic image, but also with the title font used and the pale, pink-skin tone color selection.

I wanted a graphic image that was sexy, and even pretty, but not sleazy. Of course, you have to realize that sexy and sleazy are in the eye of the beholder. However, I've had tons of comments about the covers, and only a couple of people thought they were over-sexed or represented erotica, which they do not.

As a side note, only one person thought the cover was trashy. Oddly enough, that person was another author who writes extremely explicit erotica and BGL fiction. I thought her negative comment was rather odd.

2. Sex sells. There's no denying that a sexy cover attracts more attention than a non-sexy, but a KAC shouldn't be sexy unless the story is sexy because readers who buy based on the sexy cover will castigate you roundly should the cover not deliver on their expectations.

3. Among print publishers, the general opinion is that a sexy man on a romance novel sells better than a woman on the cover. With ebooks, in my experience, this isn't true. Most of my backlist that I'm publishing as ebooks will have covers as part of my Lingerie Series because I think women, the bulk of romance readers, respond well to pretty lingerie. Most women I know love beautiful lingerie so I thought that was an easy way to attract reader attention. So give a lot of thought into the image you select.

My third ebook Still The One continued The Lingerie Covers with a black corset. Again, same title font, but I used black for the font color since it was being placed on top of skin which I filtered to make it a bit more pink. This is a relatively tame cover that's pretty but not as sexy as the first book nor the fourth book. Though it's also on the Kindle Contemporary Romance Bestseller List, it has not taken off like a speeding bullet.

The second speeding bullet I have is my fourth ebook JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES in The Lingerie Covers has a black lacy cami--same pale-pink color and title font and same pink-filter wash over the image. Much sexier image, and it's selling like ice after a hurricane.

Jane, as I familiarly call my book, has been out less than a month and has already sold more than 3,000 copies. That's out-performing my first ebook JOL which is back on the Top 100 Paid list.

So is it the sexier cover contributing to the fast sales? Perhaps so.

4. The cover image you select should display well on the online book page and also should translate well to grayscale (what you probably call black and white--the cover image displayed on the Kindle if the author has formatted the book correctly) and to thumbnail size.

This is crucial. Don't use a lot of fine detail because it will get lost when it's reduced to a thumbnail. Don't use "muddy" colors or dark images. My second ebook The Trouble With Love (Book 1: Texas One Night Stands) needs to be re-designed.

It shows everything it needs to show:

Genre: contemporary romance
Tone: sexy (low-slung genes on a bad-boy and wrist restraints)
Style: informal (the font is derivative of the one used on my Lingerie Covers)
Reader experience: fun (kind of wacky font, again, the wrist restraints)
Story itself: very sexy--maybe has a scene involving the hero in wrist restraints (true because the heroine is a deputy sheriff).

The cover image even hints at setting: Texas Longhorn on the silver jeans button.

But, the cover image is too dark. The grunge filter used to wash over the image to make it edgier makes the image not show well in the online catalog.

This book started very slow due to my own denseness. I went against my written Business Plan. More on that when I discuss Pricing. Still, I think the cover image has something to do with slow sales. When I repriced it, it started selling. It's been live for 2 months and has sold over 7,000 copies. It's a wonderful story, very sexy with some home truths, and I think it would sell more if the cover was changed, but I simply haven't had time to do that.

Suggestions

I've looked at countless numbers of covers. With romance, sexy is good. John Locke who has sold a million Kindle books uses sexy females on his covers, and he doesn't write romance! Far from it.

Humor is good also. For a period book, something that looks like a painting of a beautiful woman in a low-cut gown--evocative, beautiful and sexy--seems to do well. However, if you write historical romance and you use classic paintings, your books may seem more pure historical than historical romance.

Always make sure the image denotes the kind of story.

If you write a series, find a way to visually connect the books. Even if your books are stand-alones, I think it makes sense to have some kind of continuity in book after book, i.e. the same fonts for title and/or author name--perhaps some design element that is repeated with each book cover.

I use the same font and name style (just look at the cover of any of my books and you'll see what I mean by style) for my name on each of my books regardless of the book.

Don't

The biggest don't I can think of is using cover art that looks "homemade." I know you've had the experience of looking at ebooks and laughing at some covers. What made you laugh? Probably the fact that it looked as if someone cut and pasted it together using the simplest graphic image program available. It looked homemade. What makes a cover look homemade?

1. Using the standard Windows fonts that come with all computers.

2. Using too many fonts.

3. Using too many colors in the fonts.

4. Using graphic images that look like cheap clip art.

5. Designing covers that have no sense of design. If you're not an artist, hire one. Many are very reasonable.

Believe it or not, I have even more to say about this subject. Drop by next week for Cover Art, Part 2.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Temporary Internet Files

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Here's a reminder about something basic that you should do as routine maintenance. You see the phrase Temporary Internet Files often if you have a computer. Do you know what they are and why it's good to delete them occasionally?

Defined

When you visit a website, certain files associated with the webpage, for example, html, audio, video, and graphic files, are automatically stored on your hard drive in a folder called Temporary Internet Files.

This storage is temporary in that you can delete them at any time without any harm resulting from your hard drive because they do not change the registry or initialization files of your computer. They’re simply a cache of the webpage’s display files stored on the user’s computer. The purpose for this is to allow the webpage to load much quicker the next time you visit.

Regain Space

Those files remain stored in that folder on your computer until you clear the cache by deleting them. They are considered a security and privacy issue only because someone with access to your computer can view that cache at any time and see where you’ve been surfing.

If you empty that folder, you regain space on your hard drive which will promptly be filled the next time you visit a webpage.

Takeaway Truth

Keep them or delete them. It’s up to you and your need for privacy.

Fathers Also Nurture

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Let's hear it for Susan B. Anthony, the premier champion of women's rights.

Susan Brownell Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) learned to read and write by the age of three. No doubt her fervor for gender equality was fostered when she was six years old.

The family had moved from Massachusetts to Battenville, New York, and Susan was enrolled in a local district school. Her teacher refused to teach her long division because she was female.

There's no doubt in my mind that her courage and inspiration to challenge gender discrimination came from her father in part. When he learned of the inferior education she was receiving based on her gender, he promptly removed her from that school and placed her in a group home school and proceeded to teach his daughter himself.

This is a good lesson for everyone in case there is any doubt in your mind: fathers are important to a child's growth and self-esteem.

One of my favorite quotations by Susan B. Anthony is great advice for anyone -- man or woman: "Forget conventionalisms, forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval."

Takeaway Truth

Hang onto that advice. It can help you weather many a tough situation.

Beguiled Writers

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Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors. I'm a huge fan of his Myron Bolitar series. In an old Authors Guild Bulletin, I found an interview with Mr. Coben whose book list includes 10 mysteries featuring Myron Bolitar as protagonist. I'd read this before so I took the time to read it again, and it struck me again with its insight.

In this interview, Mr. Coben told what he thinks is needed to make a person a writer. According to him, there are 3 things that make a person a writer: inspiration, perspiration and desperation.

He went on to say, "I’m on page 40 of the next book; Myron hasn’t shown up yet. But you never know. That’s the beauty of getting paid to make stuff up for a living."

Was he sweating because his hero hadn't yet surfaced in what he was writing? Maybe a little, but, after writing so many books, he knows that a story has its own way of unfolding. That is one of the enchantments of creating fiction.

Even when you know what the story is, even when you know how it begins and how it will probably end, you should be surprised on the path from beginning to end. Surprises should lurk around each corner even for the author.

This is why so many authors hate to write detailed outlines. They want to be surprised. They know the major points, but they want to be beguiled because that keeps them coming back to the manuscript day after day.

Once they know the story, with every twist and turn and all the subtle points, then they're ready to end it, refine it, and put it out for the world to read.

Takeaway Truth

All of us who write for a living, and the smaller group of writers who can make a living by making stuff up, will attest to the fact that this is one of the reasons writing is the best job in the whole world.

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

1 comment:
Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success. No, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some initial success with my ebooks. Because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer, I'm passing on what I have learned and how I put that knowledge to work for me.

I hope maybe this will help shortcut the process for you. Maybe you can achieve your own brand of success in a shorter period of time. Monday, I discussed ,my first rule, Ebook Success: Get Educated.

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules -- called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Golden Rule #2: Write A Business Plan

Now, take a deep breath. Don't get freaked out because this sounds suspiciously like a left-brain idea and function. For us right-brain creative types, the idea of a business plan has about the same effect on us as saying, "Solve this. A train leaves from New York at 10 AM, traveling 50 mph. Another train leaves the same station at noon, traveling 70 mph...."

Doesn't that make you want to tear your hair and scream, "Algebra! No!" Trust me, I could write an ebook and put it up for sale faster than I could solve that.

But, a writer must also be a business person. Fortunately, writing your own business plan is easier than you may think -- if you have done the proper research. Yep, all that research I explained in Rule #1: Get Educated. It had a purpose beyond understanding the writing and publishing of ebooks, and that purpose is the utilization of the knowledge you gained.

Biz Plan Defined

Creating a Business Plan is creating a way to achieve what you want. The contents of your biz plan should reflect your goals. It's a way to look to the future -- short-term and long-term -- and to allocate your resources and your assets and to prepare for problems and opportunities that may come your way.

It's a road map to success that helps you keep an eye on where you are, where you want to be, and the milestones in between those two points.

A good plan includes your mission statement, which I prefer to call a vision statement, a list of your assets, an analysis of your market, a summary of your start-up expenses, and a time line for your projects. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. I suppose you could left-brain this and get software with charts and such, but you have to be careful that you're not just indulging in another form of procrastination.

My Plan: Vision Statement

Here's how I did it the low-tech way. I got a bound notebook. You know, one of those black ones without a spiral? On the first page, I wrote my Vision Statement: Write and publish ebooks that will provide fun and entertainment for huge numbers of romance readers, and, in doing so, the sales of those ebooks will provide me with a living wage and an audience for my work.

My Plan: Assets

1. My backlist to which I owned all rights.

This probably gives me an edge because I have manuscripts that were print published and were well-received when they appeared. However, this is just a matter of having several books ready to go. If you've been writing for years, you probably have inventory too even though it may not have been published.

2. Original fiction that had received great feedback (but no sales) from agents and editors in New York.

All of the gatekeepers who saw my work said I didn't have strong marketing hooks. What's a marketing hook? It's being able to say: "This is a secret baby story or marriage of convenience or vampire," or any of the other standard story lines that you see on the racks, over and over and over. A book must be what they view as hot, not something different. They don't want something different. They want something original, but the same. Whatever the current buzz word in books is a marketing hook.

3. Partial manuscripts that represent my persistence in continuing to outline, write, and hold onto my dream because I believed in my writing even when others did not.

Now I have inventory that I can complete as needed. You see writers write. Even when they're not selling. If you're a writer, you've kept writing and have inventory too.

4. Imagination that generates more than enough ideas as shown by a 3-inch binder in which I record the ideas and keep notes for them.

5. Narrative skills that enable me to write successfully.

This is paramount. If you think you don't possess the necessary skills, take classes. Study any of the hundreds of books on the subject. Study the material online. Don't assume you know enough just because you can fill a couple of hundred pages with words.

There's a difference between typing and writing. Get unbiased people to read your work. It's important to get an objective opinion of your writing.

Never believe what your spouse, best friend, children, parents, siblings, or employees say about your writing. Don't even ask them. Join a writer's organization. Start a critique group. Do whatever you must do to get an objective opinion. Otherwise, you're just kidding yourself.

6. Work ethic second to none.

You must be willing to write. You must be willing to revise more times than you can imagine. You must be willing to carve out time from your busy life to create time for your priority. Often this means you must give up something in order to achieve success. So what are you going to eliminate if you need more time?

You must write even when you don't feel like it. Professional writers write on schedule, not when the muse strikes them. I'm always, well, amused, when someone talks about being inspired so they wrote a whole chapter one night. The trick is to write a whole chapter when you're not inspired. That's what "real" writers do.

If you say your writing time is 7 PM to 10 PM, then your butt is in that chair for those three hours, and you're writing on your work in progress. You're not playing freecell, doing email, checking eBay, or whatever. You're not sitting there, killing time, because the muse stood you up. You're chiseling words out of the stone of your brain because sometimes that's what it takes.

7. Organizational ability that allows me to schedule work and complete it upon schedule even when I am the one imposing the deadline.

I have all my books listed on an editorial calendar. I knew that two weeks after the first one went live, I'd have the second ebook, Still The One, ready to upload.

You must have a deadline. A book will fill the time allotted for writing it -- for getting it ready. If you don't have a deadline, then the book will fill weeks, months, years of your life. I'm always slightly amazed when I hear writers say it took 3 years to write a book. Three years? I know published authors who can write 12 books in 3 years! Why? Because they're under contract with deadlines. They work as professionals, not as dabblers waiting for a date with the muse.

That's the kind of work discipline you must bring to this. Do you even know how long it takes to write a book? Trust me, if it takes 3 years, then this isn't the business for you. Ebook success is built, in part, on having more than 1 book out. In fact, the more books you have available, the greater your chances for success. That's a fact I discovered during my research.

If you write 4 pages a day, in 3 months, you have a book. How many pages a day can you write? Have you written enough that you can answer that question?

8. Communication with readers from my years of writing and publishing and maintaining an online presence.

I'm not a social butterfly at FB, Twitter, etc. I maintain communication with readers who have emailed me about my online serial romance novels which were hugely popular. If anyone emails me, I take the time to answer. If someone comments on my blog, I answer. The more people online that you know, the better for you because people like to buy books from people they know.

9. SlingWords, my blog, that I've kept faithfully since 2005.

This blog is my main corridor into the online world. I work hard at it because I like to give good content to readers. It's got a great Google PR, and it's respected. I hope it entertains and educates. In the process of maintaining high standards for it, I've developed a modest following that's actually not represented by the Followers listed. I get a lot of readers from my other, now-defunct commercial blog. So it builds. I always advise writers to have a blog, more so than a website.

10. Willingness to continue learning.

If there are instructions, I can learn it, from software to concepts. I'm game to take on just about anything. I like the challenge, and I like adding to my skill sets. So when it came time to learn how to format for Kindle, Smashwords, Nook, I wasn't intimidated. Sure, it's a bit frustrating because there are so many people out there telling you to do it this way, no, do it that way, etc.

I'll point you toward the resources I used to learn how to format for the respective ebook platforms. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's not the hardest either. If I can do it, you can too.

My Plan: Market Analysis

My market is romance fiction, specifically romantic comedy. I analyzed the authors who were selling big in that arena. I read their books. I saw that mine fit the niche well. I made notes about who was on the bestseller list, what the cover art looked like, what the price point was, etc. All that Get Educated stuff.

I decided that I would price my books at $.99 as an introductory price. I'm going to discuss pricing all by itself later. Suffice it to say at this point that my price point was deliberately chosen, with great aforethought.

My Plan: Start-up Expenses

My start-up expenses were negligible because I had already published these books. They'd been copy edited. The cover art was created by my daughter and me. I knew exactly what I wanted based on my research. My daughter is a graphic artist who knew how to translate my idea into reality.

For you, this category will represent what you must pay for good cover art, a good copy editor, and anything else you need to get you going.

There are a lot of you who aren't writers, yet, you're interested in publishing ebooks too. You may be thinking mostly of nonfiction and may buy reports or books from those who market Private Label Rights (PLR).

Some of you who want to call yourselves novelists have contracted with freelance writers to produce a manuscript based on an idea you had. I've seen the job listings on freelance writers' boards so I know there are a lot of you who are attempting this. I will not call you a writer. You're a business person trying to cash in with an ebook product.

Whatever your projected expenses may be, you must know in advance what you're getting into. Don't scrimp on the important elements of copy editing and cover art.

My Plan: Time Line

Timing is everything whether you're discussing comedy or making love. Get a calendar. Estimate time on it. Write down the date you expect to have a completed manuscript. Then how long it will take to revise and refine that manuscript. Here are some more questions for which you need answers.

1. How long will it take you to write a book? A second book?

2. How long will it take you to bring a book to market? How many books in a year can you produce and market?

3. How long will it take you to learn how to properly format a book and upload it?

4. How long will it take to get good cover art? To get a copy edited manuscript back from the editor?

5. How long before you make significant sales?

6. How long are you prepared to promote a title? What will it take to promote more than one title?

7. How long before you reach a break even point between expenses and revenue?

Today, get a notebook or open a computer file, and start thinking and writing your own business plan. What kind of ebooks will you sell? What is your price point? What will it cost you to get started? On and on, answer the questions, think of all the issues, and write a plan that takes into account everything that affects the success of this venture. Get started.

Takeaway Truth

Plan your work; work your plan. I wish you magnificent ebook sales.

3 Tips About Notes

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I have a little app on my desktop that enables me to make notes instantly or to allow insertion of readily-available information like the keywords I usually use or short blurbs of my books.

All this info is where I can grab it, copy it, and paste into emails or forms without having to open some word processing software.

That's what today's Thursday3Some is about: useful little apps to help you deal with notes. These are for Windows. Read the documentation to see if they run on Mac.

They are free and, once downloaded, they just require a click of an icon in your tray or desktop, and they're ready to go. Here are 3 I use that I've tried. I use the first one mostly. I think it's great.

Flashnote

Flashnote is a quick notes manager that's small, user-friendly and convenient. Just click the icon, it pops open. Make a note, and it's saved automatically so you can close it when you're finished. You can organize notes. I have a Note for each of my ebook titles with pertinent info always available. Press the shortcut-key combination and a rough copy is on the screen in a flash of a second. Press ESC and the program hides. It's that simple, and it's free.

ClipDiary

This makes the best possible use of your clipboard history? With this app, you can easily get back anything that was once in the clipboard. Whenever you want, retrieve any data you once copied which means you can restore information that otherwise might be lost forever.

ClipDiary launches automatically at Windows startup and then stores in its database every piece of data that goes to the clipboard. It can log clipboard history and store data in various formats: plain text, RTF, HTML, images (BMP), etc. You can even make screenshots, and the app will save them. Free and easy to use.

Stickies

These are digital versions of the old yellow sticky notes. This PC utility is small and simple. It won't mess with your system files, or write to the registry. Stickies stores information in a single text-based ini file. They are yellow rectangular windows onto which you can put some text notes. Once created, they will stay on screen until you take them away. Just like a real sticky piece of paper.

Takeaway Truth

A little app can make a big difference in your effectiveness.

Review: Moon Dance by J. R. Rain

No comments:
Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1) by J. R. Rain is excellent.

Details

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 313 KB
Print Length: 288 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0557175216
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B002Q0Y27Y
Lending: Enabled

Disclaimer

Normally, I always give what I call my Danielle Steel disclaimer. However, with Moon Dance that's not necessary because there's very little wrong with this book.

Product Description

Mother, wife, private investigator...vampire. Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack that changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire. Now the world at large thinks Samantha has developed a rare skin disease, a disease which forces her to quit her day job and stay out of the light of the sun. Now working the night shift as a private investigator, Samantha is hired by Kingsley Fulcrum to investigate the murder attempt on his life, a horrific scene captured on TV and seen around the country. But as the case unfolds, Samantha discovers Kingsley isn't exactly what he appears to be; after all, there is a reason why he survived five shots to the head.

Praise

What I admire most about this book is how it presents a different view of a vampire. This book is about a woman trying to live a normal life in abnormal circumstances. Samantha was a successful career woman and a wife and a mother. Devoted to her children, she's trying to live as if nothing has changed when, in fact, everything has changed. She's different. Her marriage is over, and her custody of her children is threatened.

Once a respected federal agent, Samantha is now a private investigator who meets clients at night. Only her sister, and her estranged husband, know her secret. In other words, Samantha is alone and fighting to maintain a tenuous link to her humanity.

Taking on a new client begins a chain of events that lead her to discoveries about the world and about herself. What she discovers forces her to face unpalatable truths and to make compromises with her lot in life.

The pacing and characterization are terrific. In fact, Samantha Moon is one of the best-drawn characters I've read in a long time. As soon as you finish, you'll immediately click on the Kindle Shop to get book two in the series.

Room For Improvement

My only quibble with the story is the romantic subplot and with the proffered resolution. In my writer's opinion, it simply didn't ring true. However, that's a minor point because this is not a romance novel. Take away the vampire, and you've got a solid PI mystery. Take away the PI mystery, and you have a solid vampire story.

Bottom Line

I recommend this book. It's a good read and stays on my Kindle Keeper Shelf.

Want your own Kindle? Just click here.

Takeaway Truth

A good book is a little vacation from the cares of life.

Writers Choose Wisely

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A couple of months ago, I received 4 emails from aspiring writers who wanted to know how to make a living as a freelance writer. I answered them individually, but I thought what I had to say might be of interest to others too.

I'm presenting it here, combined with a post I published last year on my "commercial" blog which has a different reading audience than SlingWords.

The Trick Is To Get Paid

Most of the so-called freelance writing jobs advertised online are for what are called content mills. There are real freelance jobs posted, but you have to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The never ending controversy over the pay offered to freelance writers is often played out in forums and on subscription based writers' email lists. I've been in the writing business a long time, and the one unchanging trend I've noticed is that writers' compensation has steadily decreased in the last 20 years.

This is true for book-length work from royalty-paying publishers to freelance writing for print and electronic media and to the prices for popular ebooks. The only saving grace with ebooks is that volume selling can actually generate a living wage.

Be Forewarned


This blog post is aimed at those who aspire to be professional writers, not at someone who has a full-time job and dabbles in writing as a way to earn a few extra bucks. There's a vast difference between the expectations of a professional and an amateur.

I think a rift has arisen because many who started out as dabblers now consider themselves professional, but they don't have the same professional expectations of writers who have been in the trenches for years. This may be one reason people write for writer mills and are happy to receive the small fees paid.

Old School

For those of us who have been around a long time, we feel forced to tilt at the windmill of better pay for writers. As professionals, we know how hard it is to craft an educational and entertaining article and present it articulately and compellingly to an audience whose attention is sought by Internet, TV, video games, books, periodicals, and more.

We know that if we sell an article that it may well be viewed millions of times. Why should we accept a hundred bucks for a well-researched article that will be published on a website and might well be read until long past our deaths?

Professional writers believe they should receive proper compensation that takes those facts into consideration. They believe their time in research, in writing, and their honed skills should be respected and remunerated. The problem is that in today's world the skill of writing isn't respected. Every blog owner considers himself a writer now. Too many people think a monkey could do what we pro writers do.

The Situation

Virtually no entertainment, from greeting cards to movies to websites to video games, would exist without writers yet we are the ones who end up with the smallest piece of the pie. Witness the Hollywood writers' strike a couple of years ago. It was all about writers trying to get compensation for new media rights. What they wanted amounted to about a nickel from a DVD sale. A lousy nickel.

Be Wary

For all of you who are trying to carve out a niche as a freelance writer, here's a little advice that might help you understand the rift between freelance writers and companies who chew up hundreds of writers and then leave those writers poorer for the experience and usually with no "clips" to show for their labor.

Writers like Angela Hoy of Booklocker and many others have done exposes about these content mills as they're called. Don't take my word for it. Do your own research which is easy with Google.

1. Don't kill the messenger.

When someone critiques a company such as Demand or any of the other content mills, don't feel compelled to launch an offensive on the person making the report.

2. Do feel compelled to read and analyze.

If your own experience is dissimilar, do your own fact checking to see if your experience is unique or the report is false. This is easy to do by creating a keyword phrase like "complaints about XYZ" and entering it in the search engine of your choice. It's easy to find information if you truly want to discover the truth or falseness of a claim.

3. Don't fail to read the Terms of Service.

No exceptions. For any business for whom you intend to write, know exactly to what you are agreeing, how it will be used, how and when you will be compensated, what rights you are selling, and how your private information will be used.

4. Do know what remedies are available to you if things go badly and always have a plan B.

5. Don't accept rudeness from anyone.

Rudeness should not be tolerated, on either side, in professional writing relationships. A true professional knows how to critique in a way that helps the writer produce better copy. A pro editor wants to build a solid relationship with writers where respect is given on both sides of the desk. No editor should insult a writer for any reason.

6. Do meet rudeness, if you get it, with calm professionalism.

Every person, even freelance copy editors, have someone to whom they answer. Find out who that someone is and file a complaint about the person if they are treating you badly, but be sure you can back up your complaint with evidence other than hearsay. Keep a paper trail of correspondence and be ready to produce it.

7. Don't let others make your decisions.

Read, research, and reflect. Draw your own conclusions. If Ima Writer says the company you write for sucks, don't feel bad even if you personally agree. You have your own reasons for staying with them. If Ima Writer says they're wonderful, but you don't think so, don't feel as if you have to persuade her to avoid them. She probably has her reasons too.

8. Do make conscious choices about the clients for whom you'll write.

If you choose to write for low pay, then acknowledge that it's low pay and that you have valid reasons for doing it, but don't try to convince others that it's not low pay. Don't deny the facts of the situation. Suck it up, do the best work you can, and look for better jobs.

Occasionally, there are times when all writers knowingly write for less than they should. They do this for many reasons from economic necessity to hoping it paves the way to a bigger job.

If your spouse is out of work, and you're scrambling to just create some income, then you may take any job that comes along. Why? Because earning bucks is the priority, not receiving proper compensation for your time and skills.

You may write for low pay because the client promises you a brass ring if you do X number of jobs at a low rate. Of course, we all know from experience that sometimes the client makes good on his promise, but sometimes he doesn't. It's a crap shoot. I know a lot of writers who have been disappointed with this scenario.

9. Don't take it personally.

Life is too short to get bent out of shape over what other people say. Sticks and stones. When you read something that questions the integrity of a website or client for whom you're writing, don't take it as a personal insult to you and your decision to write for them. Again, your decisions are your own. The writing business is hard and competitive, and it can grind your soul to dust if you let it. Don't let it.

10. Do learn how to write excellently.

On the Internet, writers in North America compete with writers from India and the Philippines where a buck an article for 100 articles is considered good pay. That writing though is sometimes not very good because idiomatic English is a skill not usually possessed by those who learn English as a second language.

For us in the U. S., compensation like that is not something we can live on, and I don't truly believe anyone can turn out 100 well-written, researched articles in a week or less. You have to know from the get-go that you're going to lose a lot of jobs to writers whose first language is not English because they'll work for pennies an hour.

The answer is not for you to revile those working for such low pay nor is it for you to attempt to do the same. Instead, polish your skills and become a consummate professional. You'll get the higher paying jobs from clients who want excellent writing and who will respect your ability.

If you want to call yourself a professional writer, use every writing job as a stepping stone to something better. To do this, you must be able to claim your writing. That means you need a byline on everything you write that's published. In print writing, samples of work are "clips." Use your clips or published work to create a portfolio to show prospective clients in order to get better jobs.

Takeaway Truth

Always remember that you deserve adequate compensation and make everything you do a step in that direction.

Ebook Success: Get Educated

2 comments:
Welcome to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success. I say that entirely with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I'm grinning too because I'm no expert. I only know what I have learned and how put that knowledge to work for me. I hope by offering this that you can take the same steps, learn the same things, and achieve the success you want.

As a reminder, here are my so-called golden rules. Maybe they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales too.

So-called Golden Rules

1. Get educated.
2. Write a business plan.
3. Choose cover art wisely.
4. Write professional ad copy.
5. Choose price wisely.
6. Give a smart sample.
7. Write a good book.
8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Golden Rule #1: Get Educated

Let's tackle the first element crucial for ebook sales success: education. Here's the process I went through in 2010 to educate myself about the ebook business.

I went to the major digital publishing platforms: Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble's PubIt for Nook, and Smashwords, which converts and offers many different formats and distribution outlets.

Each of these websites offers format instructions, FAQ, and Community Forums. Smashwords probably has the most comprehensive publishing guides along with other guides that address many issues of book publishing with which you may be unfamiliar, i.e., ISBN.

Study The Platforms

One by one, I studied each platform. I printed each format guide and bound each in book form so I could drag them around with me wherever I went. I read, highlighted, and studied until I felt familiar with the various processes. Each has its own idiosyncrasies. By the way, even when you follow the directions, you may come across some problems due to using slightly different software versions for one thing.

Study The Books

When I was studying each publishing platform, my next step in the education process was to do a study of the top 100 books. I made notes. Which genres appeared in the top 100? How many in each genre were represented? What did the book cover art look like? How did the Product Description read? How did the Author Description read? What keywords were used? How many other books did the authors on that list have published? I made notes in all these areas.

I narrowed down the samples to books like the kind I write. I took free samples from scores of books. Every time any ebook appeared free, (found those mostly from Michael Gallagher's Free Kindle Books and Tips) I grabbed it. Still, I bought more books than I should, but I delighted in the resulting reading orgy.

I read reviews, but I quickly learned that reader reviews are not meaningful. You see, they're not really reviews. They're biased opinions, but I won't get into that now. That's a blog for another day.

Study The Authors

I worked my way through each digital platform. As I read, when I came across a particularly striking book - either because it was so poorly packaged and/or written or because it was simply brilliant - I made notes about the authors. I looked up their other works. I visited their blogs and websites.

I researched their careers. Had they been published before? If so, in what medium? Were they indie authors or were they authors whose print publisher was marketing their ebooks? Did they do all the format, conversion, etc. themselves or were they contracting it out?

I studied pricing and read everything I could find on why an author priced a book at a certain price point. This is a huge issue which I will cover in detail later. Of course, I studied the royalty structure of each platform.

I tried to find the common denominator in their successes and, in the cases of authors I knew who were selling poorly, in their failures.

Dive Into Indie Culture

I'd been reading Joe Konrath for years, since he had been published by Hyperion. Now, I made a point to read the comments. When I found an articulate comment by someone else who was in the trenches, I followed them back to their blogs. My circle of learning enlarged each time. I subscribed to more RSS feeds than you can imagine. Of all of those, I still read Joe faithfully, as well as Dean Wesley Smith, Robin Sullivan, and The Book Designer just to name a few.

Use Google

I set up Google alerts to find news about ebook success stories. I picked the brains of authors who were self-publishing their backlists to see what they were doing and how. In short, I made it my mission in life to learn everything I could about this ebook revolution. In the end, I think I had a pretty good idea about why some books sold well and some didn't.

I then randomly clicked on Amazon book pages and skimmed the page. Within a few seconds, I could form an opinion about where that book was in the pecking order of sales rank. When I scrolled down, I always found that my educated guess was spot on. With so many, I could see what was wrong with their marketing process.

I wrote an entire series on my commercial blog (which I've since closed) about my findings. Part of what you'll read in the coming weeks on this blog are some of those posts. In fact, when I get all this posted on the blog, I plan to compile it and ebook it.

Just Do It

Ah, research! I'm just a research junkie. I'd passed the point where I needed knowledge. When January ended, I realized I was just procrastinating. I knew enough. It was time to adopt Nike's motto: "Just do it."

I grabbed my first category romance to which I had managed to get rights reversion and started. In late March, I was ready to go. Even with everything I knew, I still managed to shoot myself in the foot with a careless error. More on that later. The important thing to remember though is, that even with a dumb mistake, my first ebook Just One Look was packaged so well, in accordance with what I had learned, that it started selling immediately.

This short, pure escapist romance novel is the little book that could. It's chugged its way up a mountain of competition and has spent 27 days in the Top 100 Paid list. In fact, by the time you read this, it may have achieved 20,000 sales all by its simple little self.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales.

Readers Change

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I read this wonderful quotation attributed to the late William Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most popular authors. Mr. Davies wrote novels and plays as well as dramatic criticism. He was also a journalist and a professor.

For all of you who have books on your keeper shelves that you re-read every so often, Mr. Davies explained this compulsion that many others don’t understand.

He wrote: "The great sin is to assume that something that has been read once has been read forever."

Ah, we keepers of favorite books can attest to that. We turn to some books again and again, and each time we discover something different in those well-read words. For my daughter, the book she reads every year is Dune. For me, it varies. My keeper shelf is more like a keeper room, and the books are a motley bunch indeed with samples from every genre.

There’s The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Watchers and Lightning by Dean Koontz, A Rose In Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Ninja by Eric Von Lustbader, O. Henry Short Stories -- even my 12th grade English Lit book! Then there's Jane Austen and so many more favorite authors and books.

Mr. Davies uses the example of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. The book is usually required reading in college, but the book you read at 18 is different, you’ll discover, when you read it 20 years later. The older you get, the more your vision of a book changes. The words haven’t changed, but the experience you’ve incurred with every year changes you so what you get from the book will be different each time.

Takeaway Truth

Reading a book again is like meeting an old friend after a long absence and being amazed at how your friend has changed.

Stress Management For Writers

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I've noticed that my children's generation likes to use the phrase: "I'm so stressed out." As if the rest of us aren't!

Stress is a result of that fight or flight reaction run amuck in our poor little human bodies. You get yelled at by your boss. You can't flee, and you can't fight. Not if you want to keep your job.

You get a nasty book review that's totally unwarranted. You want to engage in a dialogue with the reviewer, but you know that's a scenario for disaster. Keeping your fingers off that keyboard and your mouth shut is the wise answer. But, oh, how that makes you stew!

So what do you do? You stuff all those bad emotions down. Next thing you know, you feel anxious, depressed, and angry. Stress has jumped on you like stink on you-know-what. Now you have two choices: ignore it or deal with it.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Ignoring your feelings and pretending the events that caused the feelings don't affect you never, ever, works. You just end up angrier and more depressed. Or, you stuff your feelings down in an attempt to forget them. People use food to stuff down feelings -- also drugs, alcohol, or any number of other things that aren't especially good.

I'm an upfront kind of girl so I believe in always confronting an issue. Deal with it. Find ways to relieve the emotional stress and that will relieve the physical stress in no time. Deal with it physically and mentally.

Deal Like You're Secure, Even If You Aren't

1. Exercise

Go for a walk. Lift weights. Use exercise equipment. Do something physical when you feel like choking the living you-know-what out of someone who richly deserves it. I highly recommend a body bag to hang from the garage rafters. Great for practicing karate roundhouse kicks and for punching it rather than a person. Great exercise; great physical conditioning; great mental conditioning. You'll feel much better afterward.

2. Stretch

Learn to stretch every muscle group in your body. Stretching is kind of like exercise, you know, but not nearly as demanding. You feel good after stretching, not tired.

3. Journalize

Keep a journal into which you dump all those bad feelings. Let it spill at the end of the day, and you'll sleep a lot better at night. Even better, divide a journal into 2 parts. Make one part the landfill where negative emotions go to rot. Make the other part a journal of thanksgiving and list something every day for which you are truly thankful.

4. Meditate

Some people just don’t know how to relax. They live in a constant state of anxiety and negative energy. Does this describe you? Learn how to relax. Learn to meditate. Start with a 5-minute do nothing break.

Sit with your eyes closed and your hands resting comfortably. Don't purposely try to think of anything. Just be. If thoughts come, breathe deeply and let them go. If you fall asleep, then that's okay too. You probably needed a nap.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes, you just need to take a good look at your life and realize that you need to make changes if you are to enjoy your life. That’s the beginning of successful stress management.

Link Love

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Marie Force wrote an excellent blog on format for ebooks. If you've been confused, this will help. If you still have questions, feel free to post them here or ask Marie. She's very generous with her time.

Michael Gallagher has links to 21 free golf books today on his blog Free Kindle Books & Tips that I read religiously every morning. My husband is going to be so happy with me for downloading them to my Kindle. (No matter how hard I try, I can't get him to activate the Kindle app on his Droid. I guess he knows I'll snag those golf books for him. Good thing a Kindle holds more than 1,000.)

My friend Anne-Marie Novark has a step-by-step format process on her blog.

My resident Google expert Jason Matthews has another book you might be interested in if you're just starting down the indie path: How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks - All for Free.

My friend Suzan Harden is a guest star on a mutual friend's blog. Check out what Suzan has to say at Melissa Ohnoutka's blog Where Love and Danger Collide

Takeaway Truth

That should keep you busy with some good reading today!