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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My book is published, what do I do now?

Recently I received an email that asked, "How can I promote my book?" 

New writers often think if they write a book, the readers will appear and it will sell like the proverbial hot cake. Once the book is written, edited and published, the author is not done. He must work at promoting his book. If he publishes with a small press instead of a NYC publisher, he will probably find the following to be true.

Publisher of Main Street Rag, Scott Douglas says, "Marketing requires manpower. In the small press arena (where Main Street Rag lives) that generally means the author. We give them the tools, directions, and support. Those who take advantage of these do well. Those who do NOT, tend to sit back and blame the publisher for not believing in the book enough or working hard enough to make it a success. The truth is: it’s a matter of manpower and expectations.

Some authors expect the publisher to do all the work after the book has been written and edited. That may work well if they were working with a high-profile publisher, but most of us (small press publishers) do not fall into that category and if an author wants a book to be a success, he/she needs to be proactive."

Kevin Watson of Press 53 also said that the author has to be willing and able to promote and sell his book.
I asked, " Will the publisher help promote the book or offer guidance to the writer as to how to do that?"

Kevin replied. "One reason we work with authors who are widely published is for this reason. Being a small press, we do not have the time, manpower, or finances to also provide marketing. A widely published author typically has connections for book reviews from the magazines and journals where their work has appeared; they also have experience  setting up readings, leading workshops, and being featured on panels at conferences and literary festivals.
In the small press world, the author must get out and give readings and meet their readers. The promotion we do is making sure the book is available from all the major online booksellers, mail out review copies to reviewers with whom we have an established relationship, provide a book page on our own website for the book and author, and send emails to our list of subscribers. If an author today is with a small press or, in a lot of cases, even a larger press, the majority of the marketing (scheduling events, etc.) is left up to the author."

I learned from Kevin that widely published means having a goodly number of stories, essays or poems published in well-read magazines or publications that are well known. So, new writers get busy and submit your work. If you receive a rejection, don't give up. Send out the same manuscript to another publication the same day. Don't let it hang around. Keep a list of places where your work is likely to fit. Always have a place to submit if your work is turned down. If it receives many rejections, then take it to your critique group or good writers you know who will tell you the truth about your writing. 
That is why I think belonging to a writing community where you receive good and honest feedback is extremely important. That is why I have been a member of NCWN-West for over twenty years. Our groups, prose and poetry, have professional people attending who help me see where I need to make changes.  A well-seasoned group understands those who come regularly and wants to help them improve and be the best possible writers.
If you don't have a writing group, start your own as my friend, Karen Holmes, did. She discovered our NCWN-West group here in the mountains and when she went back to Atlanta, she organized one of her own. You will meet others who have similar interests to yours and make long lasting friendships. 
The important thing is, don't try to publish a book until you have built a name for yourself as a writer. Don't get the cart before the horse. Many self-published writers get in a big hurry, publish a book that is not yet ready and then are stymied when it comes to selling the book. 
The market is flooded with self-published books today and many of the authors probably should have waited until they had taken writing classes and submitted to journals or magazines. In my classes, I tell my students when I think their work is ready to submit. One of my students had her first story published recently in an anthology with 49 other western North Carolina women writers. 
Writing is a craft that must be learned and practiced daily or at least often. If the writer expects to build a community of readers, it is never too early to start. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Advice for Using Social Media to Promote Yourself and Your Books

Recently Writers Circle hosted Tara Lynne Groth who taught a three hour course in Hayesville, NC on marketing and publishing.

Some of those present were lost in the social media language,  and I realized how many of our mature writers in our area who have written good books that are available for purchase are stymied because of their lack of Internet skills and, especially, social media skills. 

Below is a short article from by Penny Sansevieri who has a background in marketing and writing books on this subject.

I am happy to see that she doesn't recommend you try to be on all the Social Media that is available now.

"First off, authors should view the Internet as one big networking party and much like a networking event you want to seek out people who you have a common interest with and who will be interested in your work. 

When it comes to social networking sites my suggestion always is: less is more. A lot of authors want to do all of it--by "all" I mean a lot of social networking sites, etc. Really overextending themselves. I don't recommend this.

Once you are on these sites stay active, you don't want to look like you've abandoned the site or your work and it's easier to stay active if you're not on 35 different sites."

Tara Lynn Groth caught my attention when she said, "If you have an account and you never go there, people will think you died or quit writing."

Penny says, "Next, lead with helpful information. You should never start your Internet marketing campaign saying: please buy my book. But you should start it by saying "how can I help you" this will get you much further online. 

Engage, network, entertain, enlighten and always, always, stay active and be helpful."

This is the same advice I give to those who ask me, "How can I get people to buy my book?"

First, the reader needs to have a good reason to buy your book. If he knows nothing about you as a writer or a person, why should he fork over his money for your book? That helps you, but what does it do for him?

C. Hope Clark says the author needs to build a fan base. Like a TV celebrity or movie actor, the author should work on building a group of people who like her, who like her books and will recommend them to others. She also says an author needs a website. The first thing people do when they want to know who you are is google your name.

The Internet is a great tool if used properly. But writers must be careful they don't come across in a way that alienates the very people they hope will read their books. I get turned off if an author is extremely political on Facebook, especially if I disagree with their politics. Why post all the wild and crazy political verbiage you find online? Talk about yourself, your likes and what makes you unhappy. Talk about your writing schedule, where you like to write and what time of day. Discuss your travels and research as author Deanna Klingel does.

Be aware that whatever you post on FB or Twitter is the same as writing a letter to the people you want to read your books. Tell them what you want to say and do so in a way that makes them come back to hear what you will say next. 

I find that I have the greatest number of comments when I write about my dog, post a photo of her and me. Those people relate to me because I love dogs and so do they. 

My blog, Writing Life Stories, is popular with people who have families and want to write about them whether as genealogists or the desire to leave a written legacy. I share my personal life, my family stories, and family history on this blog, and then I share it with Face Book. I have some readers who say when they see my blog post in their Inbox, that is the first thing they open. 

Show your generous side. Give and share information that helps others, things you have learned along the way. As you share with the world, they will like you as a person or they will not. Don't be afraid to praise other writers, help them promote their books by giving them a lift on your page. They will, in turn, do the same for you. But, if they don't, your readers will be impressed that you are generous and helpful to others. Your readers want to know what kind of person you really are.

Penny Sansevieri has taught extensively on publishing and book marketing.  As CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts (, Penny’s been in business for over 10 years and her firm specializes in organic Internet marketing.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mini-Writers Retreat

Today is Sunday, and I am looking at the most beautiful mountain scene, golden and orange leaves on big trees guide my eyes out to Grandfather Mountain miles away. Fog has wrapped us all morning in its haunting stillness, but now the distant sky pales with wisps of clouds skimming the ridge. 

We three are not here to hike or tour the region. We have come to write, to share writing ideas, to submerge ourselves in all things “writing.” We stopped for church, for me to go to the grocery store and to the pet shop. I purchased a sweater for my puppy, Lexie. She is not a cold weather dog. The pink sweater in extra, extra small fits her and she is like a kid at Christmas. Nothing could have made this little dog happier than to put on her a warm sweater.

My good friends, authors, Deanna Klingel and Miriam Jones Bradley, joined me this weekend for time away from home and a mini-writing retreat. I always learn so much from these two women of widely varied ages and I hope they learn something from me.

Deanna Klingel

Deanna astounds me with her in-depth research for each of her novels. The next book will be a fictional history of Chief McIntosh of the Creek Indian tribe. She was asked to write this book by a historical society so that children could learn about this fascinating man of the 19th Century.

Deanna has a way of writing about youngsters that made me ask, “How do you get into a fourteen year old boy’s head like that?”
She responded, “I raised four sons.”  I then learned she also raised two more boys who were not her biological sons, along with three girls.

Deanna’s award winning Avery series, Avery’s Battlefield and Avery’s Crossroad, about a boy who lived during the Civil War have been quite popular with middle grade kids.

I read her novel, Cracks in the Ice, a wonderfully told tale of a young girl who hopes to become a professional skater. Once again, Deanna Klingel delved into all things related to the life of this character, including uncovering what life as the niece of a mobster would be like. Yes, the heroine grows up with body guards driving her to school.  

Some more of Deanna’s books are: Bread Upon the Water, Rock and a Hard Place; a Lithuanian Love Story, The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, the Little Beth Series: Beth’s Birds, Beth’s Backyard friends, Amanda and the Lazy Garden Fairy. Coming soon are Walker Hound of  Park Avenue and Blue-Eyed Doll. Visit her website to order these books.

Miriam Jones Bradley

Miriam Jones Bradley, is author of children’s books as well as a collection of her columns published in the Newberry Observer titled, You Ain’t From Here, Are You?. This book is a gentle but humorous observation of what a new person in the community sees and hears from the good people who greet her. Miriam writes for young adults as well as for older adults who want to leave a legacy. Check out her website to order her books.

She is also author of a mystery series, The Double Cousins Mysteries, for 7 – 13 year old readers. I picked her mind as to how she comes up with a mystery. She takes tidbits of fact and weaves that into a plot that moves along taking the reader with it.

Miriam and Deanna don’t stand still. Miriam wonders how she is going to continue to manage her school presentations, book signings, blogging and writing another book this year as well as working as a nurse two days a week. Both women travel all over the country speaking and signing their books.

Miriam is originally from the western plains and Deanna lived longest in Atlanta where she and her husband raised their children. Now she lives in Sapphire, NC. Miriam lives in Hendersonville.

 Both busy writers are dedicated to their craft and both have active writing businesses. Both have husbands who are supportive and helpful behind the scenes. I heard high praise for both David and Bruce this weekend. 

We look forward to doing this again and hope others will join us either in the mountains or at the beach. Having time to share ideas, ask questions, and discuss publishing and online media is not a luxury but a necessity for those of us who are serious about publishing our work.

My readers, have you ever attended a writers' retreat? How many people were present? Did you enjoy it?

 Other posts on this blog you might enjoy:
Coffee with the Poets and Writers

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Poetry Class deadline looming. Don't wait.


Read more about class and instructor HERE

Visit Schedule page at link below.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Writing and Writers

Back row: Roger Carlson and MC Brooks
Front row: Dottie Wershing, Carol Gladders and Brenda Kay Ledford

In the photo above you see five of the eight students who were enrolled in my memoir writing class this fall at Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC

Four of these students have taken my classes several times. It is inspiring to see the improvement each has made since that first class. Two of them published this summer. Roger submitted an op-ed piece to his local newspaper and it was accepted. MC Brooks submitted one of her family stories to an anthology, It's All Relative, Tales from the Tree, edited by Celia Miles and Nancy Dillingham. You can find MC's personal narrative on page 29. 

In this class all students were intermediate or advanced. When students come back again and again to take my classes, I consider it a great compliment to my skills and my ability to help them enjoy learning. I was once told that one of my greatest talents was creating an environment of safety and comfort that enabled new writers to share their poems or stories without fear. 

I know that is important because I have been that new writer, that new poet, who felt terrified when asked to read my work out loud to a group. I have been that person who was not sure if my writing had any promise. Sharing writing is a bit like handing off your first-born to a stranger and hoping he will handle her with love and care. 

I also know that even the most experienced, published writer still sweats out each new submission whether it is a short story or a manuscript for a book. No one wants to face rejection. Once I learned that, I became much stronger when faced with rejection of my work. We have to know that an editor's rejection is not personal and we must not have our feelings hurt. The rejection is probably because the work doesn't fit the editor or publisher's needs at the time. 

A beginning writer faces the challenge of submitting work with no previous publications on his resume'. He hopes an editor will read his story or essay and like  it enough to give him a chance. Today we hear that editors Google a writer's name first to  see if he has anything online that shows the editor that he will bring readers to the publication. That seems unfair. 

Some publishers, however, say they don't want to know what you have published, they want your writing to impress them and if it does,  it will be accepted. I wonder if that is the exception.

We write because we love it and sometimes because we can't not write. I know excellent writers and poets who don't care about seeing their work in a book other than for their family. Whether we publish our work or write for our own satisfaction, we write. But to have our work read and appreciated by other people is the goal of most writers. I hope to communicate with readers whether in my family essays, short stories, poetry or on this blog. 

I appreciate your reading my posts. I hope you enjoy them and I love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment or send an email.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Writers' Night Out in Blairsville GA sponsored by NCWN West

Tomorrow night in Blairsville, GA at the Union County Community Building, Steven Harvey, author of the Book of Knowledge and Wonder, a memoir I recommend to anyone who likes to read about interesting people and their true stories, will be featured at Writers' Night Out.

Steve takes us on a search with him as he looks for and discovers the young mother who took her life when the author was only 11 years old. As he says, this is not a sad book, but is a book of wonder as he learns who this lovely woman was. He celebrates her in his book and we see how devastating mental illness can be, not just to the individual, but to those who love the afflicted person. 

The book is filled with photos that bring the reader right into the story.
Come early, at least by 6:00 p.m. if you plan to eat at the grill before the reading. And, remember, we have open mic. You can read for three minutes. Sign up at the door.
I hope to see you there!!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Borrowing from your Favorite Poet with Karen Holmes

Karen is one of my favorite people. I took a course from her at the Folk School just this past spring and know she will do a good job for your group.  Bob Grove, author

Karen Holmes
November 7, 2015
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Fee: 30.00  (You can pay with PayPal. See sidebar)
Borrowing from Your Favorite Poet

Bring a poem that was inspired by a favorite poem. Your poem should use a favorite line from the other poem as your title, as an epigraph, or as a line within your poem. Allow your poem to take on its own life -- it does not need to be about the same subject as the original. We’ll read the inspirational poems and workshop the one you wrote. You’ll also receive some prompts inspired by other great poets, so you can go home and write even more great poems of your own. 

Karen Paul Holmes of Atlanta and Hiawassee, Georgia has taught writing at national conferences and at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Her full-length poetry collection, Untying The Knot, was published by Kelsay Books (August 2014) and recently received an Elizabeth George Foundation grant for poetry. Publishing credits include Poetry East, Atlanta Review, POEM, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press).

To support fellow writers, Holmes, a Georgia representative for North  Carolina  Writers' Network originated and hosts a critique group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in Blairsville, GA. A former VP of Communication at ING, a global financial services company, she now leads “a kinder, gentler life” as a freelance writer, poet and teacher.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

No Such Thing as a Bad Day: A Memoir - a book I highly recommend

Jordon and President Carter
When I travel in my car, I often listen to audio books. Recently I listened to a memoir, my favorite genre lately, No Such Thing as a Bad Day: A Memoir by Hamilton Jordon. For those who might not remember, Jordon was Chief of Staff for President Jimmy Carter’s administration. He worked with Carter when he was governor of Georgia. Jordon graduated from Albany High School which I attended, but I never knew him personally. Evidently he developed interest in politics early on as he mentions that he was an intern in Washington DC for Senator RichardRussel of Georgia.
But this book is not all about politics, although I did get a kick out of Jordon’s early opinion of Bill Clinton before most of us had ever heard of him. I was not surprised to learn that Clinton set out to charm Carter and his people when Jimmy was on the verge of becoming president, wooing his favor. 

Hamilton Jordon said he was more impressed by Hilary Rodham in her thick glasses and nondescript dress who criticized Governor Carter for not doing more to improve the lot of women in Georgia when he had 

The major impact of this book for me, having watched two loved ones die of cancer, had to be the detailed and touching manner Jordon discussed his three bouts with cancer; Lymphoma, melanoma and prostate cancer plagued him throughout his adult life after being exposed to Agent Orange in Viet Nam. My friend’s husband fought cancer brought on by Agent Orange which was sprayed on everything over there and exposed our military as well as non-military to this devastating chemical.

Jordon was advised early on to take charge of his health as he fought these battles. I found that to be true as well. A patient must learn all they possibly can about their illness and the possibilities out in the world of a cure or the best treatment available. When he was told he had lymphoma, he didn’t follow blindly the words of his doctor who didn’t give him a very favorable outcome. Jordon researched hospitals, talked to people and finally decided to leave Atlanta and the doctors there to go to Maryland where new treatments were becoming known.

I fought tears when I heard him tell about his fear of not seeing his little boy grow up and how he held him and cried. I know my husband had fears that he would not talk about. Most men don’t want to show weakness to their family, their wives. But, these kinds of tears are healing and we should not mind shedding them. Hearing Jordon reflect on his thoughts as he waited for a doctor’s report, watched his wife as she waited, and one time hearing on television, a false diagnosis of himself as he lay in a hospital bed – a terrible report of his health. He had not heard anything yet from his medical team, and was happy when they came in soon after to give him a more positive diagnosis.

I found a new respect for people in the public eye after Jordon told of the lies spread about him and Jody Powell, another man in the Carter administration. How do you fight outright lies that are spread all over the world by the media? Even in the NY Times article about his death, they made it sound as if those lies were true before saying differently. 

it was almost a year later that he and Powell were completely exonerated. No one paid much attention to that news. 

Coincidentally, I saw in my hometown newspaper yesterday that Jordon's three children had come to Albany to visit the family home where their father grew up. He reared his family in Atlanta. I learned that Jordon fought three more bouts of cancer in his life before he succumbed in 2008, the year before my husband died of lymphoma. Hamilton Jordon worked for cancer research, and I hope his efforts and those of others will some day bring about a cure.

Image result for Hamilton Jordan

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book even though the author was the reader. Sometimes I am not fond of an author's reading.
If any of you have read this book, let me know what you think about it. I plan to read or listen to the new book which his daughter edited after his death. It will be out soon.