Once Bitten . . . You Stop Sticking Your Hand in the Cage

pet the catIn her blog today author Lia London tells a harrowing tale of lies, betrayal, fraud — that wasn’t her latest book, it was her previous publishing efforts.

In a Facebook group I’m part of, someone asked for recommendations for a web designer. I dropped my name on the list, already 100 posts long.

The “where should I host my site?” question is asked often, garnering the same list of responses each time: “GoDaddy!” “Anywhere but GoDaddy!” “HostThingy” “ThingHost” “HostHost” “Hostess Cupcakes” “Charlottezweb” (because I’ll never skip an opportunity to promote Jason’s marvelous hosting, even if it gets lost in the crowd.)

We’re re-watching Longmire from the beginning, hoping the long-awaited 4th season will start the night after we finish the cliffhanger of season 3. In last night’s episode Walt tells Henry the reason he’s pulling fingerprints from a car’s steering wheel instead of having one of his deputies do it: “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”

Rather than debate the debatable truth of the statement, let’s talk about why we believe that.

… more … “Once Bitten . . . You Stop Sticking Your Hand in the Cage”

Listening to Writing Advice. Or Not.

I think it's a diving boardHow do you know when to reject well-meaning but misguided writing advice, and when to gnaw your knuckles and knuckle under because someone else was given a brief clear glimpse of something you missed in your own work?

I’ve learned the answer to that the long hard way. It’s still more art than science.

Begin by asking yourself a few questions.

… more … “Listening to Writing Advice. Or Not.”

Self-Publishing 101: Q & A with a Ship’s Master

Beginners ask about things some of us take for granted. It’s useful to review the questions and answers to be sure we haven’t missed something which seems self-evident to others.

Sergiy KalyuzhnyI had a long online chat with Sergiy Kalyuzhny, Master at Marlow Navigation, Ukraine. He’s writing a non-fiction account of an event we haven’t fully discussed yet (though I sure hope Sergiy lets me help with the book so I can read about it.)

Since I’m posting late today, as penance, I’ll share the whole thing instead of splitting it into a half-dozen posts.

… more … “Self-Publishing 101: Q & A with a Ship’s Master”

Is Theory Enough?

I’ve studied humanistic marketing methods extensively during the past decade. What I’ve learned changed my life, not just my business.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1024629 by Mikhail Lavrenov http://www.sxc.hu/profile/MikLav

In 2006 the company I worked for shut down, just as my Best Beloved came home from 4 months in the hospital after a near-death experience. After struggling for 4 years we gave up the home we were renting in order to house-sit, in part because we could no longer afford to pay rent and utilities. From that poverty, we’ve come to making a decent living in 2013. I’ll define “decent living” — we pay all our bills on time these days, we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary with a loooong weekend in a bed and breakfast on the coast of Lake Michigan, and we’re planning a 3-month trip to Ireland some time in the next 18 months.

We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but we’re no longer poor, even by my humble standards.

Here’s what I haven’t done yet: applied that marketing expertise to selling my own books.

… more … “Is Theory Enough?”

Year-Long Workshop: Get Your Book Out of the Someday Box in 2014

was this place new when you started your novel?What if I could lead you by the hand and promise that in 2014 you’d finally finish that novel?

What’s more, what if I gave you greatly increased chances that it would be good?

Is that worth paying for?

Details to come.

Authors Dare Greatly

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/860593 by Sebastian Wendowski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/seebitsI want you to write your book. Not the vague generic “you” of the unnamed faces of possible readers of my blog.

I mean you, the specific person reading this right now.

I want you to be a hero.

Have you ever seen a little kid stand up to a bully? Everyone else meekly stands by, angry, but too scared to speak up.

There are bullies who want to frighten you into submission. To prevent you from writing your book. They don’t want to hear what you have to say because they don’t care what you have to say.

Stand up to the bullies. Speak out.

Write your book.

What if you fail? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t die. Your loved ones won’t die.

Trust me, the worst thing that can happen is that your book will writhe in anguished silence on a lonely shelf.

But you won’t die.

Consider the opposite: what if you succeed? What if even one solitary stranger buys your book, trusts your description of it and the cover and the excerpts and all that, and shells out their hard-earned money for your book?

There are few greater glories.

But that’s not the opposite of failing. Whether your book dies on a shelf or gloriously enlivens another human being, there’s something far worse.

What happens if you don’t write your book?

Not “what happens to your book?” because there is no book.

What happens to you?

What happens if you let the bullies out there, or the toughest bully, the one inside your head, intimidate you out of your art?

What happens if you go to your grave with this book unborn?

A miscarriage is a tragic event in part because it’s invisible. We have endured such things, my Best Beloved and I, and it’s not possible to convey the level of hurt to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

If your book is never written, we might never miss the book.

But we’ll see it in your eyes. We’ll hear it in your voice. That dead, flat spot in your soul, where you’d have contentment and peace and a certain amount of joy, if only you’d write that book.

Every time you hear about a new book, every time a friend or distant acquaintance says hey, I wrote a book, every time you look in the mirror, you’ll know:

I have a book dead inside me.

Resurrection. Birth. These are eternal themes in literature for a reason: the acts of creation are Divine gifts that make us human, make us more than animal, only slightly less than gods.

Every single person who has ever written a book has dared greatly, no matter what the proportion of perceived success accrued to them.

Authors dare greatly.

Every author dares greatly.

Dare greatly.

Please.

Would You Like Someone to Sell Your Books for You?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/782870 by Carla Peroni http://www.sxc.hu/profile/CPERONIA new question is coming up with some regularity.

“Why wouldn’t a confident marketing expert promote my book for a portion of the profit instead of charging me up front?”

Here’s why.
… more … “Would You Like Someone to Sell Your Books for You?”

Why Authors Must Have a Blog

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1413339 by Melissa Anthony http://pixelcookies.is-great.net/I’ve been a web developer for over 15 years, so this is not simply from the perspective of an author, though I have published 10 books so far and show no signs of stopping.

An author without a website and blog is like any other business without a website.

The first place people go for information these days is the web. If you’re considering a new mechanic, and this one has a good website and the other has nothing, don’t you lean toward the one you can find out about online?
… more … “Why Authors Must Have a Blog”

Free: It’s Not a Price, It’s a Strategy

Some insist that you have to give your first book away. Others claim that free means “worthless” and they won’t do it.

Free is good. If I’m talking to a prospective client, and I can impress them with my expertise and enthusiasm by mailing them a copy of one of my books that’s pertinent to our conversation, I’ve spent $7 on marketing to get what could be a $2,000 client. If I email them the Kindle version, I’ve spent zero.

What’s important to remember is that free isn’t a price. It’s a strategy.

Just posting a copy online with a price of zero is not strategic.

images http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1120086 by Laura Morariu http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lauralucia
… more … “Free: It’s Not a Price, It’s a Strategy”