Saturday, November 17, 2018

Pitfalls of Self-Publishing and How to Avoid Them

Because self-publishing is now accepted as a reputable method of getting a book out to the public, inexperienced writers must be on their guard to keep from being defrauded of their money. 

Companies like Xlibris, Author Solution and others are accused of manipulating writers into paying big bucks for the company to print the book, and then coming back with outrageous prices to market it. Law suits are ongoing against these companies. One woman was offered a book trailer and offers to send her manuscript to movie connections in Hollywood "because the book is perfect for a movie script." No one has sympathy for those who fall for these scams. Some say, "author beware." But I know it is easy to fall for something that we see online or see in an ad and before we know it, we have fallen for a fraud that costs us much money.  Read this article to learn more about scams in publishing. 

The author is asked by Xlibris to pay tens of thousands of dollars for extra services which are useless or are never given. I will never forget the woman author who came to me fifteen years ago with a poorly written book that she said she had paid a company $20,000 to publish for her. The trunk of her car was filled with boxes of the books which she had not sold. She asked for my help in selling this book.

I had to tell her straight. Her ears had been filled with enough bull manure already, and she needed some honesty. 

First, I told her to take writing lessons and learn to be the best writer she could be. 
Second, I told her to forget the first book and chalk it up to a very bad investment. I urged her to join a writing critique group. After much editing by herself and other writers, send her next book to a professional editor before submitting to anyone.
Third, I told her she should research legitimate publishers, small presses or large, and submit her work to them first.
Fourth, be open to the publishers' edits and any changes they think are needed.
Fifth, be prepared to do her own marketing and have a plan in place as to how she will find and reach her readers, no matter how the book is published.

Today I would add more to my advice for her or anyone:
Begin to build an online presence through Facebook or blogging years before your book is to be published. Grow your email list. Prepare a mailing list of everyone you know. You will send these people postcards with your book cover on the front.

If you want control over your book, how it looks, what is inside, you might want to self-publish. Just remember, self-publishing also means marketing your own book. No self-publishing company will spend thousands of dollars to market your book, not unless you pay them thousands of dollars to do so. 

My most recent book, co-authored with Estelle Rice, was not published by a traditional publishing company. We hired Old Mountain Press whose owner/publisher is Tom Davis, to format the book for printing, create the cover with my help, and then we sent the manuscript to a printing company he recommends. We signed the contract with them and in a couple of weeks several boxes of books arrived at my door. Most of them are gone now into the hands of eager readers. The cost of printing the book is paid. So, we will order more books delivered to us.

Most of our books are sold face to face and we want to reach out to as many people as we can before going to Amazon.  At the present time, City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC is the only store where our books can be found on the shelves. I would like for readers to order from them online,, if not ordering from us at Blue Heaven Press.

Authors should be aware that when a book is sold by a bookstore, the store gets a percentage of the retail price. Amazon takes much of the profit on a book, so authors need to sell lots and lots of books on Amazon to make anything. (Light bulb moment?) That might be why most writers don't get rich. That is why self-publishing is popular - the author actually makes a little money on her book.

The business of writing is not what we writers enjoy. We like to write, but we don't like promoting our own books or selling our books. If we don't promote our books, who will? Not the publishers and not the booksellers. Tell people where they can buy your books, tell people why they should buy your books, and tell people how much you appreciate their buying your books. 
But don't tell people: "Buy my book."
The readers of books want to know what your book is going to do for them. Why would they like your book? Why should they purchase your book? What was your purpose in writing your book? Do you know the answers to these questions?

If so, you should be able to promote your book and sell it. 

Most writers don't think about marketing a book until it is in their hands. Too late. Be careful of the predators in publishing. Don't be scammed out of thousands of dollars when it is not necessary to publish a book and sell it. Join a legitimate literary organization like NC Writers' Network and get to know writers who are happy to help you and give you good advice. Find a writing group or create your own. In Western NC we have writing groups in almost every county south of Asheville. Visit or to learn more. 

More on self-publishing:

Friday, November 16, 2018

Finding a Safe Vacation House is not Easy

I am down to the last two days of a vacation - a quiet one with only my sister and brother-in-law with me. Well, I did take Lexie with me. She loves to travel in a car. 

I have to face facts -- taking a trip today is much harder than when I was younger. I had more physical strength and less need for medications and other things that help me sleep, help we walk, help me ride long distances in a car. 

On this trip, I missed Barry. He would have had me laughing more, relaxed more, and we all would have had more fun. I realize that I cannot capture what we had, the four of us, and trips long or short are never going to be the same. Now Gay and Stu help me with luggage and then handle their own. Gay is protective of me. "Don't go up and down those stairs so much," she said. "I'll take these things." The steps were wet and with my bad knee, it was difficult to manage them. 

But we still enjoyed being together. They brought their dogs along so we had lots of dog-walking time. 

The rental house had no Internet service so Stu and I had to go into town a few times to get our email. We found that McDonald's was our best bet until we found a small coffee house with free WiFi. The daily rain altered some of our plans, but we did take a walk on the road to nowhere. Gay and Stu took several walks with their dogs. 
I slept really well in the rental house even though my room was too warm. I opened almost every window in the place because housekeeping didn't honor my request to have a clean place with no sprays or chemicals that would trigger my MCS. When in the house, I felt awful, but if I went outside or stayed in a room with all windows open I felt much better.
We were awakened each morning by wild turkeys grazing on the lawn. They were perfectly silent, but Lexie knew they were there, and she woke me with her growling. The setting for our  vacation was in the midst of farm land. Horses were pastured on one side and cows on another. It was quite pretty around us. If only the housekeeper had done what I asked, I would have really liked this farm house with three bedrooms. But, the house is toxic to me. As days passed, I grew worse until we decided we must leave and find another safer house for me. I can't live all the time with a charcoal lined mask over my face

We hope to fill the next two days having a good time even though rain is likely to try to spoil our fun. I enjoy my sister and brother-in-law so much, it doesn't bother me if it rains. I feel such contentment today, relaxed, and happy.

We are taking book orders for Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins. This book is a great Christmas gift.
Visit for more information.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2019 Memoir Class

I am always pleased when former students ask when I will be teaching again.

I will be teaching in 2019, in late spring, at Writers Circle around the Studio.
I have no dates set yet, but when I do they will be posted on this site and under the page for studio classes. 

I will teach memoir writing because that is my favorite subject, and when a writer learns to write true stories, he/she can learn to write fiction as well.

The stories I hear and read in my classes are often more unique or interesting than profiles of presidents or other famous people. If you have ever thought of writing about your life, plan to do that in 2019. We usually meet once a week for two or three hours on a Tuesday afternoon. We will help those who say they don't know where to start, and we will work with those who have begun a memoir to write about the important parts of their lives, not the mundane.

If you are not on my Email list, contact me and give me your Email address. When the class is listed, I will let you know.

Students and Glenda Beall - Publishing and Marketing class

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Story About a Dog

Today I will share an excerpt from Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins; Family Pets and God's Other Creatures by Estelle Rice and Glenda Beall

I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.   ---Doris Day

Rescued by Love
Glenda Beall

Bundled against February’s cold, my husband Barry and I walked along the road near the Hiawassee River, making our way up to Chatuge Dam where we would find a flat trail for our morning walk. At the corner of the main road and the road to the weir, a puppy lay under a bare limbed tree. Stretched out on his belly, head up and ears alert, he watched the road before him as though he expected someone to appear at any minute.
Barry talked to him as we approached. “Hey, Bud, what are you doing here?”
When we came closer, the dog moved away from us and growled low in his throat. Obviously, he was frightened.
“I hope he doesn’t get hit by a car. I think he’s been dumped out here. He’s not very old.” Barry loved animals. It angered him to see them abused. “How could anybody throw away this puppy, and on a cold day like this?”
A dog’s tail can show his attitude, angry, cowed or happy, but this dog’s tail had been bobbed to a short little nubbin.
“He has the coloring of a Doberman or Rottweiler,” I said as we continued to walk past. I hoped he would be safe. He was close to a fairly busy road.
Later, on the way back to our car, we saw the dog again, and this time he ran when we approached.
Back home after lunch, I read a book while Barry napped. Around 2:00 p.m., after he awakened and watched some golf on TV, Barry said to me, “I’m going to take that dog something to eat if he is still there. I imagine he’s been picked up by now, but I hate to leave him with nothing to eat.”
He pulled a couple of cans of dog food off the shelf in the pantry. As he left, I thought about Kodi, our lovely and sweet Samoyed who stayed on my mind most of the time. We had to put him to sleep on Christmas day. That had been only a couple of months before. Kodi was thirteen years old, snowy white with fur as soft as down. His black eyes had become a milky blue, but his smile was the same. I never looked at my loving white sled dog that I didn’t smile back at him. The last four years of his life had been tough for him and for us. He had developed corneal ulcers on both eyes. We’d taken him to specialists and finally cured that problem, but his hips began to fail. Getting to his feet became a struggle, and often I had to lift him up off the floor so he could get his footing. But he continued to steal my heart with his gentle way of leaning against me and laying his muzzle across my knee while I stroked his head.
Everything in our house reminded me of my beloved pet: his food bowl, his pink toy with chewed ears and even the recliner where I sat. I still checked under the foot rest before letting it down to be sure Kodi was not lying there, right under my feet, as he had done for all those years.
A friend, a few weeks after Kodi died, told me we should get another dog right away. “No,” I said. “I don’t want another dog. I can’t stand losing another.” The only dog I wanted was gone.
When Barry said he would like another dog, I said, “I don’t want a dog now. If I ever do get another dog, I want a small lap dog.”
I knew Barry did not want a small dog, and I wanted no dog at all. Nothing was fun anymore. And only my dearest friends and my sister knew how devastated I really was over the death of Kodi. 
That Saturday afternoon in February, as I sat warm and cozy reading, Barry knelt on the ground near the black and tan pup, coaxing him to come eat from the can in his hand.
Two hours after he left, I heard my husband’s happy voice calling from downstairs in the basement. “Come down here and see what I have. I brought this puppy home with me.”
I heaved a large sigh. I didn’t want a mutt found beside the road. Who knew what kind of health problems he had? And I didn’t think he was handsome. He was just a mixed breed puppy with no tail.
“We’ll have to find his owner or find a home for him,” I said. I made sure Barry knew there was no way I was going to keep this thrown-away dog. He agreed that we would use every means to find the owner, and if we couldn’t, we would find a good home for him.

This is part of a story you will find in the book and there are many more. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find Your Audience - They Will Want Your Book

When we know who our books appeal to, it is easier to sell our books. Recently some family members held a book party for me in their home. They invited their friends who owned or liked animals. They knew their friends would be interested in  Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins; Family Pets and God's Other Creatures, which is all about animals and the people who love them. 

The party was fun with good food, wine and nice people. For the first 45 minutes, we all got to know each other. We chatted, talked about pets, about my sister Gay's sculpture and drawings and about my paintings hanging on her walls. I remembered names of the people who were close friends of my sister and brother-in-law. That helped with conversation.

When it was time for me to share some of the stories and poems in the book co-authored with my dear friend, Estelle Rice, Gay's husband, Stu gave me the most wonderful introduction. He is a very generous person and a kind person as well.

I stood and read for a half hour, more than I had planned, but the group seemed to be enjoying it so much. When I was done, Stu steered the audience over to the table where a couple of books were wrapped in Christmas bows. I encouraged the purchase of extra copies for Christmas presents and gifts for friends in the hospital. The short pieces are great for times when the reader might not want to get involved in a novel. 

Book signing at the Moring house

The men and women at the party overwhelmed me with compliments on my reading and with their interest in the book. My niece, Lee, sat beside me to help with making change. I was so glad to have her there.

It was the best experience I've had signing books since 2009 when Gay invited her friends to her house for lunch and a reading by me. My poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then,  had been published and I read some poems from it. Although that group was not particularly into poetry, almost all of them bought a book. 

I find that writers have a bit of a mystique with those who do not write. We can answer questions they have always wanted to know or wondered about. 

On Friday of this week, Estelle and I will sign books at the Valley River Humane Society Thrift Store in Murphy, NC. We will be there from 11:30 AM until 3:30 PM. We will donate part of our sales to the animal shelter. We expect to meet animal lovers and others who just come to shop for a bargain. 

Do you have any hints for marketing a book? 

Tips from a publisher: