Monday, August 30, 2010

eReaders: The Demise of the Printed Book?

For many years people have been predicting that eBooks would one day be the demise of the printed book.  Naysayers pointed to the dismal percentage of the book market eBooks represent.  Amazon recently announced sales of books for the Kindle outnumbered sales of hardcover books. The catalyst of the surge in eBook popularity is the dissemination of the eReader.  The last three years have brought us the Kindle, iPhone, Nook, Sony Reader, and iPad, just to name the top eReaders.  Digitimes estimates 7.3 million eReaders have been sold as of Quarter 2 of 2010.  Heretofore, the eBook could only be read on a cumbersome laptop or desktop computer.

The demographics of eBook buyers tell us about the future of the printed book.  According to BISG, eBook buyers are 51% men (compared to 58% women for paper books).  eBook buyers have higher income that paper book buyers.  Among eBook buyers, 11% no longer buy any paper books. 8% buy mostly eBooks, and about 30% prefer to buy eBooks.  This tells me we are far away from the printed book ceasing to exist.  Based on the demographics, as long as we have women and the poor, we will have printed books.

I believe we will continue to see eBooks gain market share.  As more people obtain cell phones with eReader applications, and eReaders become more affordable, eBooks will surpass printed books in the number of units purchased.  According to Wikipedia, the US has 285 million cell phones in use as of December 2009.  My wife recently started reading books on her iPhone and said she doesn’t see why she would ever buy a printed book again.  I believe people who were born digital will migrate toward the surcease of all printed things.  The Baby Boomers will most likely cling to the printed form as a whole.

The role of printed books may change over time.  Instead of being what the majority of book buyers purchase for personal consumption, they may become collectibles to be primarily given as gifts.  In the same way that a collection of the Beatles’ greatest hits is purchased as a keepsake, special edition printed books may become the only printed form necessary.  Time will tell.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Read Books to Children

When I have a moment to relax, I usually want to use that time to read books. This is rare though, but I do make a point to read books to my son no matter how busy I may be. It is a part of his nighttime ritual, and he won't go to sleep without one. One of the most important things I feel I can give him is a love of reading. When you read books you are learning something new. Books are great for the imagination, and often help us expand our minds and our horizons. If you don't read books to your kids, you should really think about starting.

If you don't have a lot of money, you can find books that will fit any budget. Sometimes it is hard to drop ten dollars on a book, and that becomes expensive if you want to buy a lot of books. If you read books every day, you are going to want some variety. Look in discount stores for books, as there are plenty there from which to choose. You may also want to join a book club, start a book swap with some of the parents in your neighborhood, or with family members who have children near the same age as yours.

You can also read books that you download onto your computer and print out. Some will have a fee, but there are some that are geared towards children that are free. If you don't want to print out a lot of books, you can always read books straight off of your computer monitor while your child sits on your lap. This can be a great learning activity if you go online after you have read books to look up some of the things in the story. If the story was about elephants, you can do an image search and find photos of elephants to show your child.

Don't forget about your local library. They have thousands of books and they are all free for you to use. Just make sure you return them when time is up. You can read books right there in the library, and some libraries have book readings for children. This is a great place to instill a love of reading books, and will be something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. The more they love to read books, the better they will do in school.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You Can Write

By Mark David Gerson

Close your eyes and remember.
Remember the stories you invented...
Remember wonder and imagination...
Remember make-believe...

You can write.

If you can read these words, you can write.

You're saying "I'm not creative" or "I can't make up stories" or "I don't know how."

Well, you are, you can and you do. And you can do it without struggle.

Whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever your education, you can write -- in ways that bring meaning to your life, in ways that touch others.

The ability exists in all of us. We were born with it, with a unique voice, a unique way of seeing and describing the world, a unique palette of textures, images and hues with which to express what we feel, what we see, who we are.

As children we concocted imaginary places and playmates, soared with seagulls, raced with tigers. Close your eyes and remember. Remember the stories you invented. Remember wonder and imagination. Remember make-believe.

Watch your children, or your neighbor's children. Listen to the timeless stories they weave. We all crafted similar riches as children but, somehow, life got in the way. We grew more self-conscious. We were told not to make up stories. We feared being different. We were taught to write a certain way. We grew older, busier, more cautious. Slowly and without our being aware of it, the door to our creativity edged shut.

Now we wonder whether the key is lost for all time. It's not. That key remains within your grasp, always. It's your birthright. It's your story, your voice. And it has value.

There are many ways to unlock that door...

o Start by letting the child you were back into your life -- not to displace the adult you've become, but to enrich it.

o Start asking how and why again.

o Slow down.

o Run your hand over a tree trunk.

o Inhale the perfume of an autumn evening.

o Get up early and watch the sun rise.

o Study people. See how they walk. Hear how they talk. Make up stories about them.

o Pretend you're on vacation and start a journal, recording your impressions of people and places as though seeing them for the first time.

Try writing for 15 minutes without stopping, without thinking, without editing. You'll be amazed at how much you can write in such a short time. You'll be amazed at how good it is.

Don't censor yourself. Give yourself permission to write nonsense. Give yourself permission to begin without knowing where you're going. Writing is a voyage of discovery. Be open to the journey.

Look for books and groups that support your creativity, that let you tap into the writer you are. Find a quiet place and quiet time where you can write regularly. Find a quiet place within yourself.


The stories are there.

Mark David Gerson has taught writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for more than 15 years in the U.S. and Canada. Author of the The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (from which this article is adapted) and the award-winning novel, The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy, Mark David has also created The Voice of the Muse Companion, a 2-CD set of guided meditations for writers. For more information on Mark David or to subscribe to his free newsletter, visit  For additional writing tools, tips and inspiration, visit his blog:

(c) Copyright - Mark David Gerson. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Human Mind & Written Words

Guest post by Tom Garth

The brain is an amazing tool that is intensely complex. While reading is only one of the tremendous amounts of uses we have for the brain, it is a very important process, and the one we will be talking about in this article.

When we see and read text on a page, the information is comprehended by an area in the brain known as the Wernicke's Area is where the information is collected and translated into usable information. This area of the brain takes the information gathered from written or spoken language and passes the information along to other systems which then translate into motor actions.

This is very interesting because it is unsure how words can be stored as ideas and concepts. Most likely things are related to each other in the memories, therefore you can remember that a cat is a cat because of the combination of its looks, texture, color smell and other senses. These concepts can be amazingly confusing, but the human brain works very well to comprehend all of these systems quite smoothly.

There was a study done by Cambridge University that discovered that the human brain can comprehend words based on the location of the first and last letters while the center characters can be presented in a randomly mixed fashion. An example is as follows:

eevn toghuh tihs text cemos aocsrs as jmlbeud at a first gnalce it is acalutly quite easy to read, vrey aaznimg if I do say so melsyf.

This is possible because the human mind interprets words as a whole, not by each individual letter.

For an online converter to make your own scrambled, readable blocks of text, visit: Aoccdrnig rscheearch Converter

Monday, August 16, 2010

Publicizing Your Book: 13 Rules For Getting the Most Out of Your Marketing

 Guest post by Mark David Gerson

Whether you've published your book yourself or have an outside publisher, you're the one who will have to market it. If you want people to know about your book, it's up to you to tell them. Here are 13 rules to help you do it effectively.

1) There are no rules.

What worked for your last book may not work on this. What worked for your friend's book may not work for yours. Publicity is an art not a science. Feel out what works and go with it. If something doesn't seem to be working, let it go.

2) Your publisher won't do it for you.

With few exceptions, your publisher (unless you're the publisher) won't provide a lot of marketing support -- unless you're famous enough not to need marketing support. So if you want people to know about your book, it's up to you to tell them.

3) If you're self-publishing, don't skimp on your book cover.

Your book cover is your most important promotional tool. Unless you have experience in the field, don't design it yourself. Have it designed by a professional book-cover designer (not by a graphic artist with no cover-design experience) and put the image on all your promotional material.

3a) Everyone has a fridge.

Fridge magnets that show off your book cover are great promotional tools. They're even better than bookmarks because everyone in the household gets to see them. They're available inexpensively online from

3b) You have to wear something...

...So you might as well be a walking billboard and wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt that shows off your book cover. For t-shirts, go to; for sweatshirts,

4) Abandon all expectations.

Sometimes your efforts will produce the desired results. Sometimes, they won't. Don't stress about it or beat yourself up. Just move on to your next idea.

5) Everyone loves an author.

A recent survey says that 82% of Americans want to write a book someday. The fact that you have -- and that you have a book with your name on the cover -- buys you a lot of credibility with a lot of people, some of who will buy your book simply because they've met the author.

5a) Your town or region probably loves its authors.

Many regional bookstores are eager to support regional writers and are happy to set up signings and events for you. Don't be shy about approaching a store's manager. Remember, though, that you still have to promote your book and your event. Just because your book is on the shelf doesn't mean it will sell. Just because you have an event doesn't mean people will show up.

6) Having a book-signing or participating in a book fair? Be focused and approachable.

Just because you're sitting at a book-signing table doesn't mean people will come up to talk to you...or buy your book. Don't read or do other work at your table. Discourage friends and family from hanging around your table. Don't gossip with your fellow authors if you're doing a group signing or book festival or fair. You're there to engage readers and sell books. Be friendly. Be focused. Be engaging. Be approachable. If someone doesn't buy a book, have a card or flyer for them to take away with them.

7) Don't be shy.

Let anyone and everyone know that you've written a book. Share your passion for your subject. Sell yourself and your book to anyone who will listen. But don't be obnoxious about it. Always carry promotional material -- business cards, fridge magnets, postcards, flyers -- and hand it out liberally. Always have copies with you to sell...and sell them.

8) Everybody loves a winner.

If writing a book buys you credibility, writing an award-winning book buys you even more. Enter contests and competitions. When you win or place, let everyone know and be sure to issue a press release.

9) Get testimonials.

Encourage everyone who reads your book to send you their comments and to post reviews on Amazon and other on-line book-retailing sites. Even if you can't get reviews in the media, comments from satisfied readers can go on flyers and on your web site.

10) Don't forget the internet.

Get a web site. Start a blog. Join social networks like MySpace and Facebook. Microblog with Twitter. Let the world know you're an author. Particularly on social networks, let people get to know you first as a person. They're more likely to buy your book if they like you. They're more likely to ignore you if they think you're just connecting with them to hustle your book. There is also an increasing number social networks geared specifically to authors and book marketing. They're great for ideas, less so for selling books.

11) Stay in touch with your readers.

Collect e-mail addresses from your readers and stay connected with a newsletter that offers them real value, one they'll want to forward to friends and family. You can also use a blog for this purpose.

12) Publicity is about freebies.

There are many ways to get into the media that won't cost you a dime. Events listings is the most obvious. Book excerpts is another (you might even get paid for these!) When you write book reviews or articles for newsletters, trade magazines and web sites like this one, you'll get a short bio where you can include information about your book. If you're a college graduate, contact your alumni magazine. Mine has a regular spread that features new books and CDs by graduates. Contact your hometown paper. It may be thrilled to feature a story about a now-published native son or daughter.

12a) A publicist could be your best friend.

Just because you can write doesn't mean you can write a press release. Just because there are 1001 ways to market your book doesn't mean you have the time or expertise to do them all. Even though I have a p.r. background, I chose to work with a publicist.

13) There are no rules.

Read these ideas as well as those in books like Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, then find your own way, your own rhythm. Hone your intuitive senses to know what feels right and what doesn't, what will likely bear fruit and what won't. And then get out there and let the world know you've got the book it's been waiting for!

Mark David Gerson has taught writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for nearly than 20 years in the U.S. and Canada. Author of two award-winning books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy, Mark David has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers, on CD. For more information on Mark David or to subscribe to his free newsletter, visit

A writing/creativity coach, editor, project consultant and script analyst, Mark David is also a popular speaker on topics related to creativity and spirituality and is host of The Muse & You, radio show on writing and creativity. He's currently working on a memoir and a sequel to The MoonQuest.

For additional writing tools, tips and inspiration, visit his blog: 

(c) Copyright - Mark David Gerson. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using Strong Verbs for Strong Writing

Guest post by Jose M. Blanco

The Problem

Some of our writing becomes weak when we use verbs like "to be" and "to have." These verbs add little to our prose; instead, they inflate our writing and make us sound verbose. Add power to your writing by using strong verbs. The sentence, "The bridegroom walked proudly across the dance floor" sounds so much more compelling if you write, "The bridegroom strutted across the dance floor." In this case we converted a weak verb + adverb combination (walked proudly) to a strong verb (strutted). Although weak verbs serve a useful role as helpers, to improve your writing style, let the majority of your verbs express strength. The Solution Although readers may not notice the problem because there is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentences, it still affects how they perceive your writing. Examine the following sentences:

Weaker: The cabinet minister is careful to visit only organizations that have a socially-conscious agenda.

 Stronger: The cabinet minister visits only organizations with a socially-conscious agenda.

Are the sentences identical? No, but the subtle difference in the care with which the minister selects organizations to visit may not warrant the extra four words and the soft "is careful" construction. Unless you mean to emphasize this care, the second sentence conveys the message more strongly than the first. The second sentence is also shorter by four words. Shorter is usually better. Length matters sometimes, but sometimes it doesn't.

Weaker: Marjorie is always early to class.

 Stronger: Marjorie always arrives early to class.

These two sentences use the same number of words, six. However, note how the verb in the second sentence, arrives, sounds more vigorous, describes the act of arriving early, more vigorously than the verb in the first, is, which merely describes a state of being. Beware of the verbs "to be" and "to have." These verbs may hide in the forms listed here. Any time you use one of these verbs (Be, Is, Are, Was, Been, Being, Were, Has, Have, Having, Had) ask yourself if the sentence should be rewritten. To rewrite sentences using strong verbs:

Underline any use of Be, Is, Are, Was, Been, Being, Were, Has, Have, Having, Had. John is the manager of the produce department.

 Look for a noun or adjective that you can convert to a strong verb. John is the manager of the produce department. ("manager," noun - predicate nominative)

 Rewrite the sentence using that strong verb.  John manages the produce department.

Always use good grammar in English when you write, but do not neglect using strong verbs for strong writing and a more robust writing style.

You may have additional questions about using correct English. If you do, please contact me. My name is Jose M. Blanco. I teach English composition, and I have developed worksheets to help students and teachers alike. Please visit my website, for additional resources and contact information.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Royalty-Free Book Cover Photo From the Internet

Guest post by Harriet Hodgson

There are dozens of royalty-free websites on the Internet. Some specialize in certain types of photos, but most seem to be general. Before I chose a cover for my latest book, I looked at more than 2,000 photos.

What a job! After weeks of searching I finally found a photo that matched the picture in my mind.

Your book will look the way you see it in your mind if you provide input on the cover photo. It is easy to get distracted when you are looking at photos, so you need to remind yourself to stay on task. What should you look for?

Symbolism is at the top of my list. My recent work focuses on grief and there are many hackneyed symbols for it, things like lilies, swans and candles -- images I avoided. Instead, I looked for a calm photo that gave the reader hope. The choice I finally made was a photo of a battered aluminum rowboat on still water.

The boat is a teal-colored and has visible dents and scrapes on the side. I think the rowboat symbolizes a grief journey and the dents and scrapes symbolize the challenges we all face. But symbolism that is too obtuse does not promote book sales. If the reader has to go through several thought processes to understand the relationship of the cover photo to your book, then you have made a poor choice.

Color is another criteria and must be used wisely. The psychology of color is a complex topic. If you know a little about it, however, you can use it to your advantage. Red is a good example. Though red attracts attention, it also represents royalty, blood, and in some instances, horror. This is why I avoided the color red when I was looking for potential cover photos.

The teal color of the rowboat is a calming and the water is calm as well. Interestingly, the graphic designer continued the water image and blue on the back cover of the book.

You also need to take the basic shape of the photo -- horizontal or vertical -- into account. A horizontal photo may work for your cover, but getting it cropped costs extra money. Reducing and enlarging a photo also costs extra, an important point it if is your money or the publisher's money.

The clarity of the photo is extremely important. A photo that is out of focus can turn off potential buyers and a clear photo can attract them. Sometimes a graphic designer will choose a blurry photo to make a point. This is okay as long as potential buyers understand this. Your publisher can provide you with more information about photo requirements.

Finally, you need to be on the lookout for title space. A long title and subtitle will not show well against a busy background. I chose the rowboat photo because there was plenty of room on the bottom for my title. I also chose it because the downward reflection of reeds on the water leads the customer's eyes directly to this title.

Cost is the final, and perhaps most important, criteria. Spending a little more for a photo may pay off in the long run. Some photographers submit a series of photos. Click on the photo you like and then look below for others in the series, which may be less expensive.

Cost, title space, clarity, shape, color, and symbolism all influence your photo choice. The right photo can make your book a winner. Here's to super sales and more books!

Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson 

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30+ years. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors,

Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, "Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life" and a companion journal with 100 writing jump-starts. Hodgson is a monthly columnist for "Caregiving in America" magazine and a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation website. Please visit Harriet's website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Four Ways to Personalize Your Content and Capture the Reader's Attention

Your writing success has a lot to do with how people react to content that you produce.  People like to read what speaks to them directly because it's the kind of writing they can relate to. This is why many writers take great pains to ensure that their content is personalized so that readers will feel that it was written with their interests and needs specifically in mind.

Being able to personalize your content means that what you will produce is unique – a testament to your skills and talent. If you want to personalize your content, here are 4 ways you can use your one-of-a-kind style to write content that truly stands out:

Know who you are

Psychologists, writers and marketers from Hippocrates to Brian Tracy have created labels to categorize each person's personality. That's why you get words such as Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic and the more recent Driver, Analytical, Amiable and Expressive. What about you? Are you upbeat? Assertive? Aggressive? Optimistic? Laid Back?

Find out which personality type you are if it's still unclear to you. Taking tests or asking close friends for their opinions will help. You could also check your writings in the past so you can compare how you have progressed over time.

Be who you are

One common mistake among writers is that they try to be something they are not, thinking that readers will appreciate the effort. Wrong. Readers can be quite clever at spotting fakes so the tone and manner of your writing will tell them whether you're bluffing or not.

Instead of pretending to be someone else, use your own quirks and personal ways of expression to write your content. You'll find that it will be easier to write and the flow of the content will be looser and more effortless.

Speak to your readers through your writing

Writing is a means of expression, so it has the same function as speech – to communicate and reach out. Instead of agonizing over how to personalize your content, try to speak to your readers through your writing but use the tone and style that you would use if you were speaking. 

Try using the first and second person when writing. If you want to personalize your content when writing about organic vegetable planting, for example, avoid using third person nouns such as 'the gardener', 'they' or 'them'.  Use 'I', 'my', 'you' or 'your' to make it sound as if you're talking directly to the person.

Imagine that you and your reader are engaged in a real discussion. How would you talk? How would you present your ideas? What words would you use?  By writing an article that sounds as if you were speaking to the reader directly, you will be able to produce a highly personalized content. The flow of ideas will be much more natural and easy to relate to.

Personalize your content but be useful

There is a point in a writer's work where he or she must compromise. After all, the end user of a work is not the writer but his readers. If your readers cannot relate to or understand what you have to say, then all your efforts would be in vain.

Try to write content that your readers will find interesting and useful, something that will allow your personality to shine through at the same time. Personalize your content by making sure that readers equate you to quality works and information that they can truly make use of and value.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Right Write Idea

Guest post by Mark David Gerson

There are lots of good ideas out there in the world -- ideas for books and screenplays, ideas for songs, articles and poems. Your friends will suggest them. Your spouse or partner will suggest them. Your logical mind will suggest them.

You'll see something on the street, read something in the newspaper or hear about something and you'll think, "Wow! Wouldn't that make a great story?" Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe it's yours to write. Maybe it's not.

There's often a difference between a good idea and the right idea, between an idea that is anyone's for the taking and one that is uniquely yours, one that's right for you, right now.

Before you launch into a frenzy of research and writing, ask yourself: Is this what I'm called to write? Is this the call of my Muse, the story only I can tell? Or is this anyone's? Is this another good idea or is this the right idea for me?

Anyone can take a good idea and give it shape and substance. Some can do it better than you, some not as well.

Nobody can take the idea that sings to your soul and perform the kind of alchemy on it that you can. Only you can transform that idea into the one-of-a-kind gem it longs to be. That is why it, through your Muse, called to you...chose you.

Accept that you were chosen. Perform your magic. Let the right idea be the idea you write.

Right now.

Mark David Gerson focuses all his work on inspiring you to unleash the power of your creative potential -- whatever your writing genre or experience. A teacher, speaker, mentor and coach, Mark David is author of the award-winning visionary fantasy, The MoonQuest, and of a critically acclaimed book of tools, tips and inspiration for writers, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, from which this article is adapted. Listen to five of Mark David's "13 Rules for Writing" -- from his 2-CD set The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers -- at - Get more free writing guidance from Mark David at

(c) Copyright - Mark David Gerson. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Your Author Photo – How to Project the Right Image

Guest post by Dana Lynn Smith

Some authors write for personal fulfillment or to share with friends and family, but if you want to make money from your book you need to treat it like a business. That means (among other things) that you need to project a professional image.

Your author photo is part of your image and brand. A fuzzy shot of you cropped out of a group photo, with someone's arm draped over your shoulder, just isn't the right image if you want people to take you seriously as a professional author.

An author photo doesn't necessarily have to be shot by a professional photographer in a studio. In fact, some studio portraits tend to look overly formal. In deciding on the setting, pose and clothing for your author photo, think about your personality, the type of books you write, and the brand or image that you're trying to project.

If you write gardening books, an outdoor shot with plants in the background is appropriate. If you write about business topics, you might want a studio portrait in business attire. Some authors take a photo in front of a bookshelf or holding their book, while others just use a plain white background. You can get ideas by looking at photos on author websites or on book covers in the bookstore. See what others who write the same type of books you write are doing.

If you hire a photographer, explain that you are using the photos for business and you will need to receive digital files. If you would rather do it yourself, find a good location and ask a friend to shoot photos with a digital camera. Take lots of shots so you can choose the best one. Just make sure the photo is in focus and free of distracting things in the background. Solid colored clothing usually looks best.

You will need several versions of your photo for promotional purposes. For printed materials like book covers, sell sheets, and magazine features, you need a high-resolution image (300dpi). For online use, it's best to use a low-resolution image (usually 72dpi). Low resolution files are much smaller, so they are faster to upload, open faster as pages load, and take up less space on servers. In your online media room, I recommend offering both high-res and low-res versions of your photo and your book cover.

It's a good idea to use the same photo everywhere – people will begin to recognize you. You may need to experiment a bit to get the best version of your photo for use on social networks. For example, on Twitter it's best to upload a square headshot, cropped fairly tightly around your face. On Facebook, you want to upload a photo that's not cropped so tightly. Facebook will display your original photo on your profile, but reduce it to a square thumbnail to display in other places on the site. See this example:

Most computers come with simple photo editing software. To crop a photo in Windows, open your standard author photo with Windows Photo Viewer, then open Microsoft Office Picture Manager, click on Edit Pictures, click on the Crop tool, then drag the black lines inward until you've captured the portion of the photo you want. Try the Auto Correct button to improve the color and lighting. Click on the Compress tool to create a low-resolution file for use online. Be sure to save each version with a new file name.

Some authors use their book cover or logo as their image on social networks, but people are there to network with people, not with a book. I recommend using your author photo most of the time, but you might want to use your book cover on certain occasions, such as during your book launch. Take a look at the author photo at the top of this blog post -- notice how Scott Butcher combines his image and his books to create an author photo that clearly identifies him as an author on his social networks.

You may want to update your look every couple of years to keep it fresh. I introduced a new photo in January with the redesign of my website, and it took me several hours to change out the photo on every website where I'm listed online! My photographer took several studio poses, but I liked the outdoor shots better because they were less formal and more colorful. I even wore a blue blouse to coordinate with the blue on my website.

Whatever setting or look you choose, just make sure it projects the right image of you as a professional author.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more book marketing tips, follow BookMarketer on Twitter and get Dana's free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you visit her book marketing blog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Editor Before the Editor

Book Sculptures by Mike Stilkey

Guest post by Sheri Hunter

That first novel needs to be treated like a patient where the respiratory, pulmonary, and circulatory systems are compromised.

Depending on writing ability, the novel may need resuscitation, a defibrillator with paddles pumping, or something less dramatic and simple like an injection of vitamin A.  With the right editor before you land the deal  you can bring your book back from a death grip.  With my novel, I am working with a professional editor prior to putting it out to the world of agents. The thought is to get assistance to help figure out what the fatal flaws and trouble spots are before an agent reads and kills my dream of publication. This preliminary help is quite fruitful and gives the added insight to make the novel sing. Editors help point out grammatical errors, rambling plot points and any other glaring issues that will automatically eliminate a novel from the pile sitting on an agent’s desk.  Hiring an editor can be a costly pursuit as some charge upwards of three-thousand dollars for a complete manuscript read, line-edit, and overall critique.  

Some argue writing critique groups are the way to go because they are, for the most part, free or lower in cost, provide multiple points of view from contributing writers, and the group consists of fellow writers who are newbies and not nearly as harsh.

The advantage of working with an editor prior to getting the book deal is they know how to resuscitate work on life support. With a true professional preferably one who has written a novel or two, one who critiques for a living, and (this the cherry on the top), one who has a PhD in Literature your novel can get the one-on-one attention that will help you address burgeoning issues, that left unchecked, will be fatal.  In the end, the editor, you work with before you get the deal, needs to be familiar with the various genres of writing, and the key elements of every novel: theme, character, point of view, and plot, as well have an ear for what is in demand by agents and editors in publishing houses.

In some of the weaker writing critique groups, they are anemic on all these points, they don’t know a semicolon from an apostrophe and worse, they have no idea if a  manuscript is salable. When it comes to landing the deal, whom would you want? Someone who has been in the trenches, a professional writer/editor, who has agonized over the hook, plot and actually worked through their angst, and completed a book, or folks like yourself, who are wringing their hands hoping to get it right, but not sure.

Mind you, an editor can only do so much. They cannot take a flagging story, with tired one-dimensional characters and a plot that winds in circles, and develop a Pulitzer Prize contender. Strong writing chops are still a prerequisite. Working with the right editor is the difference between your novel living, with possible inclusion on the NY Times Bestsellers list or dying in the heap with the rest of the lightweights. It takes luck to reach the majors…a tip-top editor, before you get the deal, will help give you the edge.

About the Author

Sheri Hunter is a journalist and writes for a daily newspaper in Michigan. Sheri has worked in TV news as a writer/producer for CBS and NBC affiliates in the Saginaw and Detroit markets. Follow her on Twitter @SheriHunter.
Who links to my website?