Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poetry and Prose Corner April 2014

Opening Night

Places! Places!
Dim the lights!
Tempo. Timing.
Make it right.
Attack the stage.
Forget the fright.
Finally it’s
Opening night.

Grueling weeks of
Late night trends,
Burning candles
At both ends.
Do it over
And again
Until we get it all
Just right.

Love the crowd.
Forget the crowd.
Stand up proud
And shout out loud.
Overture,
Curtain, lights.
Bring the house down
Opening night.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/


Let’s Get Together

Enough is enough
-Is enough –
Is too much.
Patience and common sense
Running amuck.
Lit up in firefight,
Caught in the crush
By her saber –
Cut to the bone.

Sudden explosion
Trembles the ground
Mocking the silence –
World upside down til
Cymbals crescendo
And I look around
To find myself
Lost and alone.

One might imagine
A world without hate
Where patience evolves
And all celebrate
Diversity’s beauty.

It’s not too late.
Let’s get together.
Let’s get it done.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WITS Book Reviews April 2014

Book Title: Letting Go
Author: Belinda Tors
ASIN: B00GHTT9RI
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Genre: literature, fiction
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Book Length in Pages: 236
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

It is not easy to write a novel about domestic abuse; in fact, it may be one of the hardest topics to write about. Imagine juggling an author’s desire for a happy ending with the all too common tragedy that befalls women in this situation. The author wants the victim to be a victor, without seeming like a parody of a superhero. Belinda Tors skillfully achieves that balance in her novel, Letting Go.

The story shifts back and forth in time, from when Margery Arturo is desperate to leave her violent husband but cannot see a way out, to when she is counseling other abused women. Her first attempts to leave Tony ended in failure, after Margery realized that she would get no help from her parents or from the shelter system she once contributed to. She returns home, but this time, she has an escape plan that includes getting therapy and an education to increase her earning potential. However, when she puts that plan into action, she learns it is only the beginning of her struggle. Like so many other abusive husbands, Tony is not going to let her, or his children, go so easily.

Domestic violence is an epidemic, and one often discussed, but Letting Go tackles it in a very unique way. She tells the story of what happens after a woman leaves-- and the very real problems she faces, even beyond being stalked by the abuser. It explores not only the lack of funding for domestic shelters, but the divide between abused women of different socioeconomic groups and how any one of them can slip through the cracks.

Compelling, raw and brutally honest, the power of Letting Go lies in Tors’ ability to convey realism, strength, and best of all, hope.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Week's Podcast Guest: Belinda Tors


I was not sure what to expect when I cracked open Belinda Tors' new book, Letting Go. After all, there aren't many novels that tackle the topic of domestic violence head-on, and as someone who used to work for an anti-violence organization, I was curious to see how it would be depicted. I found Letting Go to be powerful, moving and, best of all, realistic - probably because it addresses the struggles a woman has even after she has left the abusive relationship.

This was just one of the topics of Belinda's fascinating interview on the WITS podcast. She also discussed her other books, including a collection of poems, and her work counseling abuse victims. 

To listen to the podcast, click here. To learn more about Belinda Tors or to purchase her books, visit her website or Amazon Author Page.

8-Step Plan for Landing Endorsements to Promote Your Books

by Dana Lynn Smith

Endorsements are recommendations from authors, experts or celebrities—people whose opinion can influence sales of your book. These are the quotes (or “blurbs”) you typically see printed on the covers and inside of books.

Having a well-known person endorse your book lends credibility and can really impact sales, so it's worth the time and effort required to land important endorsements.

But why would a high-profile individual do you the favor of giving you an endorsement? In a word: publicity. The person giving the endorsement gains exposure from endorsing quality products. And, of course, many people (especially other authors) are happy to help out an author who has written a good book.

Here are some steps for landing powerful endorsements:

1. Schedule well in advance.
If you want to print your most important endorsements on your book cover or inside the book, you'll need to build time into your production schedule. It can be time-consuming to track down well-known people and get their endorsement, so start at least 60 to 90 days before you need the text.

2. Go for the gold!
The next step is to make a list of potential endorsers who are a good fit for the topic or genre of your book. Do not be afraid to aim high! You have nothing to lose but a little time and perhaps the cost of mailing a book. And the rewards of scoring an endorsement from a highly influential person can be great.

3. Locate prospects.
It can be a challenge to track down an email or mailing address for top experts and celebrities. The first place to look is on the person's website. You might also try searching for their profile on Facebook or LinkedIn. For authors, check their personal or author profile on Amazon.com and the publisher's website. You might also find contact information printed in the front or back of their books. Also considering using your personal connections, if you know someone who knows someone.

4. Prepare your materials.
If your book is not yet finished, prepare a synopsis, outline and a couple of sample chapters, along with a killer cover letter. If the manuscript is complete, you may still want to send a specific chapter that's relevant to the person you're asking for an endorsement, and offer to send the entire manuscript upon request.

It's a good idea to include some sample endorsements in the material you send. This is not as presumptuous as it might sound. Keep in mind that the people you are contacting are very busy and you are asking them for a favor. It takes some thought to write a good quotable endorsement and you can save the endorser's time by making a few suggestions. Spend time drafting two or three endorsements that fit each individual, and of course make it clear that these are only suggestions and they are welcome to modify or write something original.

5. Consider Peer Reviews.
Peer reviews can be useful for getting feedback on your book and also generating endorsements. Nonfiction authors can send portions of their book to other experts in their field asking for professional feedback, and then send the completed manuscript later requesting an endorsement. Novelists can request peer reviews from authors in their genre.

6. Make contact.
The next step is to prioritize your list of potential endorsers and start making contact. You may have to go through assistants or agents, so be prepared to explain what you need. It is easiest to email a PDF document containing your manuscript or sample materials, but it’s a good idea to include a note offering to send hard copies if they prefer.

7. Follow up and confirm.
If someone has not responded to your query or has promised an endorsement but hasn't delivered, you may need to follow up with a gentle reminder. If the prospect asks for a full manuscript or more information, send it immediately. Once someone has given you an endorsement, be sure to get their written permission to use it.

8. Show your appreciation.
Follow up promptly with a handwritten thank you note, and be sure to send the endorser an autographed copy of the book upon publication.

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of How to Get Your Book Reviewed.
 
Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer, teaches authors how to sell more books through her blog, newsletters, guidebooks, and author training programs. Get book marketing tips at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com and download her free report, Create a Book Marketing Plan That Sells Books, at www.CreateYourBookMarketingPlan.com.   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WITS Announcements April 2014

As a subscriber to Writers in the Sky Newsletter, you are entitled to share your announcements with our readers. See guidelines at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com/p/submit-your-material.html and send your material to us before the 24th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Anything posted in the WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Former WITS owner Yvonne Perry has a new book out this month! Light Language Emerging ~ Activating Codes and Integrating Body, Soul, and Spirit is the book so many Facebook friends have been talking about. The link to the Kindle version is http://tinyurl.com/LLKindle. The paperback is available at http://tinyurl.com/LL-Paper.

Here is a description of the book:

For eons, humans have been locked in a shallow understanding of who we are as spirit beings. While our linear thinking may help us feel safe, it can also limit us from communicating on a deep soul level with our Creator. It is when we bypass human reasoning, if only for a brief moment, that we tap into a realm where we join with something so pure and wonderful that it defies logical explanation. It is these moments that allow us to know that our experiences in those dimensions are more real than our daily lives that greatly ignore the divine aspect of who we are.

Light is the language of the soul, which allows us to communicate directly with Source without the interference of the mind, while activating codes to assist with healing and restoration on all levels. Discover the sacred artistic tools of light language for opening DNA strands required for bodily ascension. Learn how to move in sync with Spirit to bring restoration to all creation as you integrate aspects of your multidimensional soul for a unified expression of your highest self.

Jamye Price, light language channel, healer, and teacher says this about the book:

Light Language Emerging helps to bring understanding to a vast, new, and unusual subject: the language of light. When it spontaneously started happening to me many years ago, I had no exposure to it, no one to turn to and no immediate answers. A book like this is not only a catalyst for opening, but it becomes a life line for those having unique experiences as their telepathic communications begin to activate. With Yvonne’s book, readers will come to understand their own multi-dimensional nature, their cosmic connection to their galactic family, and their ability to expand beyond limiting perceptions of self and life.

Purchase on Amazon.com or Yvonne’s website: http://weare1inspirit.com/light-language/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you have a great idea for a book but don't have the time or skills needed to complete the project? Our team will use your notes or rough draft, conduct author interviews, and/or transcribe your audio files to write your book. And the best part is, your name will be on the cover! Learn more: http://tinyurl.com/4dygat
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long MP3 audio book of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife for only $7.00. http://tinyurl.com/bd7qhy8
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Writers in the Sky offers three different levels of editing--developmental, copy editing, and proofreading for books, articles, and other documents. WITS has edited many books for publishers, several of which became bestsellers in their category. We offer full or partial edits, as well as the opportunity to work with an editor as much or as little as you like. http://bit.ly/1pS092G
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on life skills such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance. http://TheSidSeries.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You've poured your blood, sweat and tears into your book, and now, after countless rounds of writing, rewriting and editing, it is finally ready for market. Think your work is over? Think again. These days, whether you are a self-published or traditionally published author, you are responsible for the lion's share of the marketing. That's why Writers in the Sky offers a full menu of services to assist you in promoting your book. Visit our website for more information! http://bit.ly/1jZWTVI
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You is a guidebook for empathic people who have been unknowingly carrying energetic burdens that belong to someone else. See all purchasing options at http://whosestuffisthis.blogspot.com/p/purchase-book.html.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
State of Appreciation is a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical and spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. This publication offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you are looking for someone to create an original piece for your book cover, you might want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1dSoncR
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience is about how to embrace multidimensional frequencies, lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension, and offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker. http://shiftingintopurerconsciousness.com.
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Join Us for a Conversation with Novelist Belinda Tors

Some of the best books tackle the toughest topics. In the case of Belinda Tors' new novel, Letting Go, it is the scourge of domestic violence. Letting Go is a moving and realistic account of what a woman goes through, not only during an abusive marriage, but after she leaves.  

Belinda Tors is a retired social worker and journalist who has published widely in newspapers and literary journals. Under the name Barbara Fifield, she is the author of two women’s novels, Photographs and Memories and Lucifer Rising, and a self-illustrated book of poetry, Passion’s Evidence. She is a member of several writing groups, including the Florida Writers’ Association, the Tomoka Poets, and the Ormond Beach Writers’ League. She resides in Port Orange, Florida. 

Tune into the WITS podcast this Friday to hear Belinda discuss her passion for writing, her creative process, and her own struggle to rebuild her life after leaving a violent relationship. 

Click here to read my review of Letting Go. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Editor's Corner April 2014

I have always been inspired by writers, not just because of their talent and imagination, but also by their willingness to expose their private worlds for others to see. From the children’s books my mother read to me, to the classics I was “forced” to read in high school—even the occasional smutty romance—all impressed upon me how writers truly enrich our lives.
 
This has been doubly so of the people I’ve worked with—the clients who have revealed their deepest secrets and darkest moments, often for the purpose of helping others. People like Gwen McNutt, who after losing four sons to a rare blood disorder, wrote Angels Never Die to help people understand what the power of faith can do. Or Yvonne Perry, whose new book, Light Language Emerging ~ Activating Codes and Integrating Body, Soul, and Spirit, helps seekers take their spiritual journey to the next level.

As we writers tends to live in our own heads (hence the rumors that we’re all crazy!), it’s sometimes hard to remember the world of inspiration outside. This month, I suggest that everyone, particularly those of you who are feeling “stuck”, takes some time to read a few of the books on their wish list.  Or, choose some that you find inspiring, even if they are outside your usual genre(s). Whether you enjoy these books or not, I guarantee that you will learn something from them. It will make you a happier person, and a better writer.

Happy reading, and as always, happy writing!

Dana Micheli
Writer and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services
http://writersinthesky.com
Facebook
LinkedIn

Writers in the Sky is a team of ghostwriters, editors, and book marketing specialists committed to the craft and business of writing. We work with our clients on all levels of the publishing process from editing and manuscript assessments to book formatting and marketing. So whether you are a first-time author or a veteran of the craft, let Writers in the Sky help you get your book out into the world. We also provide assistance with résumés, business documents, and academic essays. For more information, visit www.writersinthesky.com.
 

Friday, April 4, 2014

WAO and WITS Podcast Schedules April 2014

WAO Podcast

We Are One in Spirit Podcast allows for people from all walks of life to discuss their spiritual journey and life—transforming experiences that remind us that we are all one in spirit. Uplifting, enlightening, and insightful topics include healing, empathy, intuition, spiritual/psychic gifts, metaphysics, soul development, afterlife, spirit communication, and more. The metaphysical shows are archived at feed://nashvillewriter.audioacrobat.com. You will also find us on iTunes. Please subscribe to the We Are One in Spirit mailing list to receive the call log-in information: http://weare1inspirit.com/blog/

This month’s interactive calls include group coaching for empaths on April 8th and for walk-ins on April 24th. Both webinar conference calls are at 2 p.m., central time.

Learn more about the group coaching calls at http://weare1inspirit.com/wao-podcast/

WITS Podcast

Writers in the Sky Podcast is a Nashville-based talk show about writing, publishing, and book marketing. An educational tool for people who want to learn more about the craft and business of writing, this show offers interviews with authors and writers, as well as the latest news about books currently on the market. You will also learn about publishing methods and marketing techniques as we interview publishers and publicists. Listen to archived shows via RSS Feed. Download WITS Podcast on iTunes for your iPod or iPad.

Tune in on April 11 when author Belinda Tors discusses her powerful new novel, Letting Go. It is the story of a woman's struggle to rebuild her life after leaving an abusive marriage.
 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Angels Never Die Launches in Las Vegas, April 9-14

If you plan on being in the Las Vegas area next week, take a break from the slots and check out the book launching events for Gwendolyn McNutt's Angels Never Die, A True Story of Love, Loss & Faith.  

Gwen and her husband Henry always believed that God's greatest blessing was their six children. But when they lose all four sons to a rare blood disorder, their faith is put to the most agonizing test a parent can imagine. Angels Never Die is their journey of pain, hope and survival in the face of tragedy. It is also a powerful testament to the strength and bravery of their boys.     

If you're not going to be in Vegas, be sure to tune into the radio interviews!  



Tuscany Hotel
Book Launching and Signing / Dinner with the Author
255 E. Flamingo
Las Vegas
Wednesday, April 9th
3:00 PM - 5 PM - West Coast Book launching and signing
5 PM - 7 PM - Dinner with the Author

Radio Interview
Aspects of Writing with James Kelly
Live on VANR (VegasAllNetRadio.com)
Thursday, April 10th - 4:00 PM
This show will rebroadcast on KLAV April 22 nd at 2:00 PM (PST)

The Book Boutique
19 W. Pacific Ave.
Henderson, Nevada
Friday, April 11th
12 PM - 2 PM

Barnes and Noble
Henderson, Nevada
Stephanie and Sunset
Saturday, April 12, 2014
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Radio Interview
Community Angels with Josie Harrison
Sunday 5 PM - 6 PM (PST)
KLAV - 12.30 on the dail or KLAV1230am.com

The Coffee House on Water Street
117 S. Water Street
Henderson, Nevada
Monday, April 14, 2014
11:00 PM - 2:00 PM
 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finding the Answer to, "Do You Love Me?"

By Deborah Wilbrink

Love takes many forms.  

“My book has turned into a mission,” Gigi calmly states.  “It is finding its way into the right hands, and I am being asked to speak at churches and women’s groups. They listen and their hearts are touched. This feels right.” If you hear Barbara “Gigi” Goodall speak, you’ll meet a self-assured, tall woman in her seventies, accompanied by her amiable husband, Newell. She radiates peace. It comes with telling her heartrending true story.

 “This is a true story of four adults who abandoned me, twice. Once as a five year-old to the state’s foster care system; and then again when a teenager, as I was left with strangers or even to fend on my own. I was born in 1940 and my memories begin at five years of age. . . My parents and grandparents, a couple of four, were always together – but there was no room for me.”

The “couple of four” once left their child alone on a sidewalk, and drove away “to see my reaction.” Later, they repeatedly placed the young teen in boarding situations where she lived without family or friends while her family, unbeknownst to her, collected her wages. It was only when she became seventeen and married that the young woman escaped emotional abuse and opportunism, and began to experience love.

A natural writer, Gigi laments the lack of books, reading aloud, and story-telling in her childhood. Perhaps it was the great stories within the Bible, her one readily available book, which instilled her skills with prose. Maybe it was the guardian angel she believes guided her life.

Gigi began with the intent of saving her story for her four children and their children. Her daughter, Tami, knew about Writers in the Sky and put her mother in touch with an editor there, starting with a gift certificate. It quickly became evident her story was an inspirational memoir that many would enjoy. Her message of love is especially motivating for foster children and foster alumni, restoring faith in their own abilities to succeed. 

Gigi Goodall completed high school when she was thirty-two, successfully raised four children, and provided a temporary home for twenty-five foster kids. She played a leadership role assisting the poor on both an administrative and highly personal level for her Tennessee county. Gigi’s answer to her own question, Do You Love Me? is simple. It’s never too late for love to change lives. The book sold well at Gigi’s book signing, and is available on Amazon.com.

Deborah Wilbrink is a personal historian, editor, and proprietor of PerfectMemoirs.com and is also affiliated with Writers in the Sky. Reprinted with permission from Mature Lifestyles of Tennessee magazine. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Making the Sale: How to Sell More on Your Website

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of marketing, it’s that no matter how much authors love what Amazon can do for them, they’d rather sell books on their own site than share a cut with the giant online e-tailer. Doing this, however, can be tricky.

It seems that every time we turn around, some big chain is admitting that they were hacked. If you were one of the millions who shopped there, your information could be in the hands of God-knows-who. With so much attention on shopper security, it’s leaving a lot of shoppers even more hesitant to shop online.

Last year, Baymard Institute released a staggering statistic: 67.89% of shoppers abandon their carts before completing the purchase. That translates to around $1.79 trillion dollars in product or services purchased online. Why does this happen? Well, there are a lot of theories on this. According to Shopify, this is a list of some of the top reasons that people abandon their purchase with you:

Presented with unexpected costs
Just browsing
Found a better price elsewhere
Overall price too expensive
Decided against buying
Website navigation too complicated
Website crashed

Though I don’t disagree with this per se, I would take this a step further, because not only are security concerns at an all-time high, there are a variety of additional reasons you may be losing people. Also, how to get shoppers and keep them varies by industry so let’s look at the ones that will matter to authors and publishers:

1) Overall Look of Site: There’s a high trust factor with a site that looks professional. I don’t want to buy from a site that looks sketchy. Would you? If you want to sell from your site, you’ll need to have one that’s professionally designed. I would say that this goes even before we start the shopping cart discussion because you won’t get anyone to even entertain buying off of your site if it doesn’t look like a place they’d want to shop.

2) Checkout Process: I see a lot of authors (and even business owners) who make the shopping process difficult. I’m not sure why they do this or why their web designers recommend this. Every click you make someone do can cost you 5% of your traffic, meaning that if you require customers to make several clicks just to get an item into their shopping cart, you’ve now lost 20% of your traffic. Make the buying process easy. Put “Shop” or “Store” or (if you have one product) “Buy Now” on the home page so folks immediately know where to click. Visitors won’t take the time to figure it out. If they can’t find it on your site, they’ll go elsewhere and in the age of Amazon they’re likely to just default back there.

3) Site security: Show shoppers that their purchase is secure - this is also very important. Buyers want to know you’re taking care of their personal details so showing security messages – even things like “Secure checkout” make all the difference. In fact, according to a recent Entrepreneur Magazine article, adding security messages can increase a buy by 16%.

4) Sign in/Sign up: I don’t know about you, but the minute someone wants me to create an account before buying an item, I’m usually gone. If you want folks to sign up on your site, have them do it after they’ve made a purchase. Studies show that conversion rates can increase by 45% if you allow buyers to shop as “guests” throughout their visit.

5) Unexpected Costs: We all know that Amazon has pretty much ruined us for shipping costs. Thanks to things like Amazon Prime, and other free shipping opportunities, most of us abhor these added costs. If you feel charging for shipping is something you have to do, consider offering free shipping as an incentive instead of a guarantee. Staples, for instance, offers free shipping when you buy a certain dollar amount. Other e-tailers have free shipping days, or, if you want to further incentivize site sign-up, you could offer free shipping to members only which would encourage them to join your site so you could remarket to them later.

6) Cart abandonment: Window shopping happens, even online. SeeWhy did a study last year and found that 99% of people won’t buy on their first visit to your website. This is why having an email newsletter, or some other benefit-driven giveaway, is not only important, but mandatory if you want to make the sale. Email newsletters allow you to remarket to your visitor. No, they may not buy on the first try, but a helpful, content-rich newsletter will remind them who you are and encourage a buy for later. It is a lot of work, yes, but so is building a store on your site that no one buys from. Alternatively, you could also consider pop-ups or sidebar messages that show up during the purchase process, offering customers 5% off.

7) eCommerce options: I know many folks who have extensive eCommerce options which are great but also costly. Being able to take credit cards, especially if you are small, is an added cost you may want to incur but, you may not need to. When we switched from our extensive pay system to just offering PayPal, we found that our shopper conversion almost doubled. Also, PayPal no longer requires users to register with their system so you can give your shoppers the peace of mind of using a secure system, without having to register.

8) Love the Love: People like what other people like, which is why for most (if not all) retailers, you’ll see reviews and customer feedback right on the page. Most authors don’t have the bandwidth, time, or money to create a sales system that’s quite that elaborate, so adding reviews to the sales pages is very helpful. Adding reviews with a picture adds even more credibility to the page. Remember that your customer can, with one click, meander over to Amazon and buy the book there so give them a reason to stay.

9) Pricing: If you’re going to keep shoppers on your site, you’d better up the ante on your pricing. We already know you need to ship for free (at least on certain days or with minimum orders) now let’s consider your “offer.” Maybe you just wanted to offer the book. Sure, that’s fine, albeit a tad boring. Sorry, but they can get the book on Amazon, too. If you really want to lure folks to your site and make the sale, you’ll need to give them a slam-dunk deal they can’t resist. As an example, when we changed the offer on our store page from 3 books for $20 to four, sales doubled.

Keep in mind that there is only one print book that’s mailed, the rest are digital and delivered as soon as payment is taken so there’s nothing else for me to do. Digital product is easy to add on because there are no hard costs with it, beyond the initial creation of the product. So what else can you add on to your book to help entice shoppers? What about offering the eBook with the print book so they can have one for their Kindle and a print book in hand (something a lot of readers still enjoy)? Maybe you could pair your book with someone else’s e-product. When you take some time to brainstorm, the possibilities are endless.

In the end, what you really need to do is think of your website as a brick and mortar store. If you created any of these roadblocks at Macy’s, or a Barnes & Noble, you’d really hurt your sales process. Authors often assume that a website store is different. It’s not. We want easy, we want fast, and we want the best price. If you can bring all of these elements into your website store, you’ll increase sales considerably.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com
 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yvonne Perry's New Direction

Hello, Writers in the Sky subscribers,

It’s been a wonderful first month of full-time plerking (play + work) in my role as a spiritual coach. I’ve seen many people activated and make huge leaps forward on their path toward recognizing their oneness with God/Goddess. Opportunities have opened up and I’m looking at all kinds of possibilities for expanding my ability to assist people who are seeking higher guidance. Learn about my galactic light language readings, free group coaching calls, and personalized one-on-one coaching services at http://weare1inspirit.com/services.

What I have to share with you from this point forward is not exclusively related to the writing industry other than in regards to my authoring of books. Out of respect to why you signed up for Writers in the Sky (WITS) Newsletter, I will not continue to use Writers in the Sky mailing list for sharing information about my spiritual progress.

So, if you would like to continue getting updates from me, please sign up for We Are One in Spirit Newsletter at http://weare1inspirit.com/subscribe-to-we-are-one-in-spirit/ or connect with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreOneinSpirit.

Before I go, I will let you know that I am about to release a book about light language (http://weare1inspirit.com/light-language) that I think some of you may enjoy. I’ll let WITS’ new owner, Dana Micheli, tell you more about Light Language Emerging in the next Writers in the Sky Newsletter.

Yvonne Perry,
Former owner of WITS

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WITS Book Reviews March 2014

Title: Six Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village
Author: Mary L. Johnson
Publisher: iUniverse
Publication Date: October 12, 2013
ASIN: B00FUZ8Q8S
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Like most people, I love the movies. But a book about the movies? I thought it might be well…dull! Mary L. Johnson’s 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village disabused me of that notion on the very first page. Her book is not only chock full of facts, it’s also a fast, fascinating read about the level of artistic talent, business acumen, and collaboration that goes into creating our favorite films.

6 Degrees discusses the development of film through the decades—in terms of cinematography, writing, directing and acting. It also traces the rise of the big studios and the men--the Mayers, the Goldwyns, and the Selznicks—who used blood, sweat and tears (their own and others!) to build them. The movies they produce, from Casablanca to Con Air and Blazing Saddles to Blood Diamond, all have their own stories that are unique to the time and circumstances under which they were created.

What I found particularly interesting, though, was Johnson’s exploration of the role that films—good and bad—have in defining our social norms, and even our politics. Films play on our emotions—they make us feel sad and they make us laugh; they bring our attention to a little known social issue or the good deeds of a forgotten hero. They cheered our grandparents up during The Great Depression and galvanized a reluctant America to move against the Nazis. Of course, most of us go to the movies to escape our lives for a few hours, but it’s nice that someone is there to remind us of the deeper contribution. Johnson’s book reminds us that when we learn about film, we learn about ourselves.
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Poetry and Prose Corner March 2014

Winds of Change

Seasons come,
Seasons leave,
Rides the cresting winds of change,
Carries proud her sweet bouquet,
Feasts on a chameleon moon.

She speaks with fervor,
Flaunting favor,
Dives and drives the heart to fever
Til the rushed and flushed
Believe her maddening crush of platitudes.
Banking off her promised boon,
The soft caress of her sweet tune,
The mesmerizing mantra swoons
A ripening of attitudes.

But time keeps marching,
Never still.
Seasons shift and rearrange,
And Mother Earth, her architect,
Breathes life into the winds of change.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/


Tear drops

By Brenda McBride

Let your tear drops flow, one by one as you release your sadness from deep inside.....
Your tear drops will cleanse you from within, from the sorrow and pain that you hide.....
Let each tear dissolve your hurt, like a snowflake that melts
quickly from the warmth of the sun.....
Getting rid of pent up emotion is essential for healing, so don't
hold back, better days have just begun.....
I've cried an ocean full of tears from grief that took a hold of me and didn't want to let go.....
My tear drops flowed frequently as the days and months went by, into the years......
My pain was still harbored inside as the days turned into nights of sorrow beyond belief.....
I cried enough tears of a lifetime, and still cried some more, without stopping, hoping for relief.....
Until, I finally realized, I may cry til the end of time, if that helps release my sorrow of my dad’s passing, which still
haunts me even today.....
Then so be it, I'll let the tears flow some more, until my heart stops hurting, on one fine day.

Brenda McBride lives in Temecula, California with her two teenage girls and is a substitute teacher working with Special Education students. Several of her articles and poems have been published in various magazines throughout the last several years. When her father passed away in 2011, her grief became so unbearable that she began writing to release deep emotions. There's not a day that goes by without the thought and beautiful memories shared with her wonderful dad.


American Made

Hong Kong, Taiwan,
India, Japan,
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,
Paris, Pakistan.
Leaps and bounds the trend resounds,
Increases every day.
Wondering why products don’t say
Made in U S A.

Bedfellows in politics or
Just good business sense.
Doesn’t seem to be a way to
Build a strong defense.
Shouldn’t be this difficult to
Find a place to trade
Where the label proudly indicates
“American made.”

Sure, it’s cheaper,
That’s no sleeper.
Can’t compete with that.
But the secret, hidden deep,
Comes slinking like a cat.
Tucked inside the silent storm
A deeper price is paid.
Shelter dwells inside these words –
American made.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thinking of Revising Your Self-Published Book? Read This First!


It’s no secret that first-time authors have an incredible learning curve, and that curve gets a lot steeper when they choose to self-publish.  After pouring their blood, sweat and tears into their book, they realize that all that effort was just the beginning. They now have to be willing to tirelessly promote their work and carve a presence for themselves in the endless sea of books flooding the market today. While self-publishing has done much to equalize the playing field, it has also placed a tremendous responsibility squarely on the author’s shoulders. Authors can publish their book without having to jump through hoops for agents and publishers; they also retain complete control over the finished product. However this control means that the author is accountable for errors in grammar, character development and storyline.  Like anything else in life, this process gets easier with experience, but there is one thing about that first book that may come back to haunt you.  

Let’s say that a few years ago you wrote your first book and “threw it up” on Amazon.  Perhaps you did not have it edited, or you didn’t know how to properly market it. In any case, it didn’t do much in the way of sales.  But undeterred, you stuck with your writing, and now you have improved your skills, you’ve found an editor that you work well with, and you have become a self-promotion expert.   Armed with this knowledge and perhaps a few books under your belt, you decide to go back and revise that first book—your baby.  When you’re done, you have a masterpiece! Beaming with pride, you make it available for sale, only to receive a slew of negative reviews, citing all its errors.  WHAAAT?! After careful investigation, you learn that the original version of your book is still available online, and that’s what readers and reviewers are getting their hands on.  

This is an all too common problem, and one of the topics on last week’s Aspects of Writing Radio Show. I spoke with James Kelly, the show's host and a published novelist; Janet Coursey, author of The Secrets of Time, and PR guru Travis Shortt about what authors can do to remedy this issue.  Here are a few takeaways from that discussion:

  • If you are in the process of readying an original manuscript for self-publishing, the answer is obvious: don’t rush to publish! Get that editor, make sure your book is properly formatted, and have a marketing plan ready.
  • If you have already published a first edition and are writing a revision, contact the publisher and tell them you would like them to take down that original version. Be persistent; email and/or call them and try to get a definitive answer as to when it will come down.
  • Then, before publishing the revision, do an Internet search to find out if the original book is still available anywhere else.  Please note that it is not always possible to remove old versions. If this is the case, you must make it clear to your potential readers that there is a new version available.  Provide identifying information--such as a new cover, ISBN number, publisher, publication date, etc.—in all of your marketing materials.    
To hear a replay of that show, click here. For more advice on writing, publishing and book marketing, tune into Aspects of Writing every other Tuesday on KLAV radio. The next live show is Tuesday, March 25 at 2pm Pacific/ 3pm Central / 5pm Eastern.






Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Editor's Corner March 2014

Welcome to the March 2014 edition of the Writers in the Sky Newsletter!

Despite the temperatures outside, spring really is just around the corner. It therefore seems a fitting time to announce a “new season” at WITS.

As many of you know, Writers in the Sky began in 2003, when author, metaphysical coach, and Nashville resident Yvonne Perry decided to leave the corporate world and follow her passion for writing. Over the years, she built WITS into a network of professional writers, editors and marketing experts who shared her dedication to helping clients create and promote their books, get their dream jobs, and streamline their businesses.

I met Yvonne a little over three years ago, after reading one of her wonderful books. Since then I have had the pleasure to be part of the Writers in the Sky team, which, thanks to modern technology, was possible despite the fact that I live and work several states away! I have had the incredible opportunity to work with WITS clients from across the country and around the globe, and I can honestly say that the experience has changed my life, both professionally and personally.

Now Yvonne has decided to leave WITS in order to focus on her spiritual work, and I am very excited to announce that she has passed it on to me. Please join me in thanking Yvonne for all the incredible work she has done, and in wishing her every blessing in the future. As for WITS, I and the rest of the team look forward to continue serving authors in Nashville, New York and everywhere else!

Happy writing, everyone!

Dana Micheli
Writer and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services
http://writersinthesky.com
Facebook
LinkedIn

Writers in the Sky is a team of ghostwriters, editors, and book marketing specialists committed to the craft and business of writing. We work with our clients on all levels of the publishing process, from editing and manuscript assessments to book formatting and marketing. So whether you are a first-time author or a veteran of the craft, let Writers in the Sky help you get your book out into the world. We also provide assistance with résumés, business documents, and academic essays. For more information, visit www.writersinthesky.com.
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Photographic Illustration, Part 2: Inspiration!

by Deborah Wilbrink

Photos can inspire your writing. And then you have a bonus when it’s time to publish. Illustrate the writing with the photo that inspired it. It’s a win-win circle, especially if it’s an original photo like your original text.


We work on whimsical at Cloud 9, our home. So I cooked this happy face breakfast and enjoyed it enough to take a photo. It could easily generate a blog, poem, cookbook, or story. When in Rome . . . this ancient statuary gleamed in the dusk. Sobering thoughts of justice, war, and peace arise when I view it. It stands alone, or with photo-shop effects you can take it many directions.

For a fun Creative Writing exercise, spread out your photos, an art gallery view, or magazine clippings. Choose one. Use it to create a story as an imaginative exercise. Describe it using words that evoke the senses for another activity. Use an image with people to imagine back-story for characters: what happened before this shot? Add depth to your writing and predict with your photo, foreshadowing: what happens after this shot? Are there symbols in it that predict a future event or conflict?

How about this shot of a man biking past an alluring window dressing? It reminds me that taboos create reactions; while airing one’s lingerie just makes it normal. How does it speak to you?

Pay attention this week to the images that are normal – frame them in your mind, shoot them and be inspired. Your illustrations can be integral to your finished book, not just an enhancement. See last months’ issue for Part 1 on how to illustrate cheaply, easily and legally.

c. 2014 DW text and photos, all rights reserved

If you liked this, subscribe to the Point of View blog http://www.perfectmemoirs.com/point-of-view-blogpage/ for tips about writing. Deborah Wilbrink is an editor, ghostwriter and formatter for Writers in the Sky. Deborah specializes in personal history with her business Perfect Memoirs. Reach Deborah at 615-417-8424, mailto:deb@perfectmemoirs.com . Be sure to mention Writers in the Sky!

 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

We Are One in Spirit Coaching Podcast Schedule for March

We Are One in Spirit Podcast allows for people from all walks of life to discuss their spiritual journey and life—transforming experiences that remind us that we are all one in spirit. Uplifting, enlightening, and insightful topics include healing, empathy, intuition, spiritual/psychic gifts, metaphysics, soul development, afterlife, spirit communication, and more. The metaphysical shows are archived at feed://nashvillewriter.audioacrobat.com. You will also find us on iTunes. 

Please subscribe to the We Are One in Spirit mailing list to receive the call log-in information: http://weare1inspirit.com/blog/

This month’s interactive calls include group coaching for empaths on March 11th and for walk-ins on March 27th. Both webinar conference calls are at 2 p.m., central time.

Learn more about the group coaching calls at http://weare1inspirit.com/wao-podcast/





Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Writers in the Sky Announcements March 2014

As a subscriber to Writers in the Sky Newsletter, you are entitled to share your announcements with our readers. See guidelines at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com/p/submit-your-material.html and send your material to us before the 24th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Anything posted in the WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at http://writersinthesky.blogspot.com.

A Message from Yvonne Perry

There comes a time when we must let go of the past in order to move toward to our future. Sometimes that means letting go of good things in order to make room and time in our schedule for things that are even more fulfilling. I started Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services in October 2003. It was successful from the start and for that I am very thankful.

Over the years I have seen writers and editors come and go on our team. One special person stands out with her many abilities as both a writer and editor as well as a book marketer and publishing consultant. Dana Micheli has been with Writers in the Sky since 2010 when she edited my book for empaths, Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You. In addition to helping clients with a variety of book projects, she has also taken the role as the editor for the newsletter while l was on sabbatical and writing my own books in the spiritual, paranormal, and self-help genres. I find it only fitting for Dana to take ownership of WITS as I make my entrance into full-time ministry.

I will continue to write books, serve as a coach to those on a spiritual path, provide galactic light language readings, offer healing sessions, teach seminars, and conduct conference calls with empaths and walk-ins. See the list and descriptions of services at http://weare1inspirit.com/services/ . Check out the book I am currently writing about light language http://weare1inspirit.com/light–language.

It is my prayer that you will continue to be part of the WITS community under Dana's leadership and encourage her as you have me with your loving comments. I wish her much success in her new role and I look forward to seeing the writing you all bring forth and share with the world. I'm only an email away: writer@YvonnePerry.net so feel free to keep in touch.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CALL FOR ENTRIES!

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful art of poetry or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Write a poem or a short story for a chance to win cash prizes! All works must be original. Postmark deadline: July 31, 2014. Visit our website for details on how to enter: http://www.dreamquestone.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long MP3 audio book of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife for only $7.00. http://tinyurl.com/bd7qhy8
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First Hand Account of Heaven Makes the News!

The Tennessean daily newspaper recently featured author Joe Laws. “Fall survivor believes he was is God’s hands” read the headline. Reporter Tom Wilemon’s story included science as well as an interview with the confident, cheery miracle man, Joe Laws. Joe had a traumatic accident, died, and went to heaven. His heaven contained elements both familiar and strange. Joe brought his experience back, but it took a year from his miraculous recovery before he could overcome his fear of sharing it. Then he began to write. Held by the Hand of God is available at Barnes and Noble and Parnassus Books in Nashville, and on Amazon.com. Visit the author’s website, heldbythehandofgod.com to find out more. Congratulations to Joe Laws and to Tom Wilemon for producing an accurate, riveting story for the readers of The Tennessean!

Submitted by Deborah Wilbrink
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on life skills such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance. http://TheSidSeries.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You is a guidebook for empathic people who have been unknowingly carrying energetic burdens that belong to someone else. See all purchasing options at http://whosestuffisthis.blogspot.com/p/purchase-book.html.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
State of Appreciation is a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical and spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. This publication offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you are looking for someone to create an original piece of artwork for your book cover, you might want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Diane-Daversa-Fine-Art/109782219119036.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience is about how to embrace multidimensional frequencies, lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension, and offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker. http://shiftingintopurerconsciousness.com.
 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sell More Books with a Virtual Book Tour

by Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer

Virtual book tours (also called blog tours) typically involve making guest appearances on book review sites or on blogs, websites, and/or forums that are related to your topic or audience. You can even do teleseminars, podcasts, or live interviews on Blog Talk Radio as part of your tour.

Virtual tours have several advantages over the traditional in-person book tour:

• It's free (unless you hire someone to organize the tour) and there's no time or money spent on travel.
• You can generally reach far more people and reach a more targeted audience.
• A virtual tour provides quality, lasting links to your own author website.

Look for tour hosts that are a good fit for your book and provide unique content to each host. Here are some suggestions for content:

• virtual interviews, where your host asks questions and you respond
• how-to articles in your area of expertise
• excerpts from your book
• articles about how you developed the plot or characters for a novel
• book reviews written by the tour host
• podcasts or teleseminars
• video or blog radio interviews with you
• book promotion videos
• articles about how you published the book or what you're doing to market it

Make the tour more interactive by encouraging readers to make comments or ask questions. Sometimes the host will ask readers for questions in advance.

You can create buzz by giving away a free copy of your book or a related item at some of the tour stops. For example, invite people to make a comment on your guest blog post, then hold a drawing to give away a free copy of your book to someone randomly selected from those who left comments. But the downside of giving away your book during the tour is that some people might wait to see if they win, instead of ordering the book. Instead, you might give away a copy of one of your other books or offer a free e-book to everyone.

Virtual book tours are ideal for launching a new book, but even if your book has been out for a while, a virtual tour can book create buzz and bring in sales.

Tours typically last 5 to 20 consecutive days, with a different tour stop each day or every other day. If you want to do a long tour, you might schedule a 10-day tour and then do a second tour a month or two later. It's never too late to promote your book with a virtual book tour!

About Dana Lynn Smith

Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Get her free Top Book Marketing Tips e-books at www.BookMarketingNewsletter.com, visit her blog at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, and connect on Face-book at www.face-book.com/SavvyBookMarketer.

 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

This Week's Podcast Guest: Mary L. Johnson

This Sunday, millions of people around the world will be glued to their TVs as Hollywood presents its highest honor. Some will watch the Oscars to see who's wearing what on the Red Carpet,  while others will be rooting for their favorite film or actor. I will be watching for both reasons, which is why it was such great fun to interview film aficionado Mary L. Johnson about her book, 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village.

6 Degrees of Film is a fascinating discussion of film making through the decades—including the cinematography, writing, directing and acting. It also traces the rise of the big studios and the men--the Mayers, the Goldwyns, and the Selznicks--who built these studios. Each anecdote is an incredible snapshot of critical points in American history, and explores the connection between Hollywood and social / political issues. 

Click here to listen to my interview with Mary L Johnson.
Mary's writing career extends far beyond film; in fact, she is one of the most prolific writers I have ever met. In addition to 6 Degrees of Film, she also maintains several blogs on topics ranging from politics to gluten-free eating. All of them offer powerful insight into issues that matter; for example, Thezenchrist.blogspot.com explores fundamental challenges that Christians find in the parables of Jesus; and Thefloridacracker.wordpress.com chronicles life as a Florida native.

To learn more about Mary's work, visit the 6 Degrees of Film blog. To buy the book, visit
Amazon.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WITS Book Reviews February 2014

Book Title: Fiat
Author: Jeff Schlaman
ISBN 13: 978-1493560936
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: Suspense Novel
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Book Length in Pages: 308
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Set in an all too possible world a few years in the future, Jeff Schlaman's Fiat has the feel of a post-apocalyptic horror story; but instead of zombies or thugs brandishing weapons on a bloody field, the perpetrators are in the back rooms of Wall Street and Washington D.C. Their years of fiscal irresponsibility, coupled with a series of devastating super storms, has brought the country to its knees. As a result, America's political enemies have preyed upon it weakness, even placing bids to buy destitute cities.

Schlaman has created a terrifying page-turner that is all the more frightening because, in light of the Great Recession, no longer seems implausible. He captures the narcissism and all encompassing power of the few who hold the strings, usually while the rest of us live in ignorance of what is going on. At the same time, Fiat is a commentary on the runaway materialism that has taken hold of our society; while we may not be the architects of our financial ruin, we are complicit by virtue of our refusal to see the truth. We have come to expect the big houses, gas-guzzlers, and expensive electronics, without any thought to whether we can really afford them.

What made this book so hard for me to put down was the personal stories of people from all walks of life, in different parts of the country. That, along with the political subplots, made this one of the most suspenseful books I've read in quite some time.



Book Title: American Sycamore
Author: Karen Fielding
ISBN 13: 978-1781721179
Publisher: Seren
Genre: Narrative Novel
Publication Date: March 15, 2014
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

It is a rare pleasure to be completely immersed in a book--when a writer is able to engage all five senses so the reader feels like they are truly there. That's what Karen Fielding did when she created the beautiful, tragic world of American Sycamore. It is the story of Alice Sycamore, a young girl coming of age in the rural Pennsylvania of the 1970s, as well as the turmoil of dealing with her mentally ill brother.

Fielding's prose is achingly beautiful, with descriptions of nature so vivid it reminded me of Alice Hoffman. With every page of American Sycamore, I could smell the brackish odor of the Susquehanna River, feel the desolation of walking along it on an icy winter day, and the insects landing on my skin during a hot, sticky summer.

But what I loved most about Fielding's writing is its subtlety. Humor in the face of emotional agony must be used by only the most skilled writers, and even then very carefully, lest it downplays the drama of the story. In Fielding's hands, it gives this drama yet another layer of realism. We see the ignorance of these times through the eyes (and funny, cryptic statements) of Joseph Lightfoot, a Native American who is trivialized by white society but gains wisdom from the ghosts of his ancestors. This also serves as a bit of irony, for Alice's brother, Billy-a manic depressive- also sees things that others cannot. Is Billy completely crazy, or does he also possess a particular brand of supernatural wisdom? While it is most likely the former, it did give me pause. I would be hard-pressed to name many authors--Joyce Carol Oates being one of them--that conveys human emotions and family dysfunctions so simply and so honestly.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photographic Illustration, Part 1

by Deborah Wilbrink

Stumped for illustrations and book covers? Take your own photographs and use them. You’ll have the copyright, so no problem there. And photographs are the first reality graphics! The impact of a sharp and creative photograph cannot be overestimated.

When I studied photography at the Polytechnic Institute of London in 1975, there were no digital cameras; no personal computers. We shot in joy and trepidation, developed our own prints, and used staging, composition, and pure light for special effects. Everything I know about digital photography I have taught myself, mostly in the past two years. My first color book interior is the result of comparing printed scans at different settings, in my home office, as well as reading feverishly online. I still have much to learn, but these tips will give you a HUGE head start on illustrating your published works.

Start with the best shot possible. Your text isn’t amateurish; your photos should also look

professional. That means framing or composing the best shot, and shooting in the best light. A shot of a tree can show the tree; or, it can be framed so that contrasting words will show against the dark background. That’s for posed or still subjects. If you are shooting action, you can still manipulate the environment for the best shot – try moving yourself and not the subject! Simple software can do wonders, and professional software like Adobe Photoshop can do even more. But starting with a great shot leaves more time for you to write and market.

Create and Inspire. Now your illustrations have a chance for complete originality. Shoot and shoot till you get something that will inspire your reader. It can be literal – a view from your childhood home; or it can be metaphorical – a cubby of ropes signifying neatening up your life! Your original shot can be a design element for your new book’s Face-book page or an illustration for your weekly blog. Lisa Ernst takes her own shots for the blog, http://thelotusbloomsinthemud.com/ and they illustrate her text. Do NOT take a shot of someone else’s artwork, even if you own it, and consider that yours. You will need to get the proper permissions and write the proper credits and copyrights or disclaimers into your publication.

Use higher resolution images. Resolution simply means that your shot resolves into a sharp image at the size you want to see it. That could be anything from a large book cover to a small illustration. How about using a half-inch square as a high contrast graphic design element for chapter headings? Most online publishing sites require at least a 300 dpi, or dots per inch, resolution.

Use the settings for resolution. Some cameras offer a high resolution setting for shooting. Use that. If you are scanning original drawings or hard copy photographs and documents, and you intend to use them in print media, set your resolution to at least 300 dpi. The larger the original image, the better it will reproduce when small. If you scan a 4x6 photo and then want it for an 8.5 x 11”cover, you may have problems, depending on the dpi of the scan. Another measurement you may see is pixels, which measure the size of the original image. There are formulas, sometimes built into software, which will tell you just how sharply your image will print at different sizes. Start with at least 300dpi and you won’t have to worry about this. Not just the camera, but the scanner has resolution settings. Be sure to set them at 300 dpi or higher when scanning personal photos.

Check your image information. A right click on the digital photo will give you menus. [Yes, I’m a PC user! Apple products, specializing in intuitive graphics, may have different ways to do this.] Properties or general details will yield pixel and or dpi scan information. I can testify that getting some shots from church historian XX that proved to be 600 dpi delighted both of us! On the other hand, shots that were emailed at 60 dpi from another writer was the start of hours of backtracking and image manipulation for both of us in order to successfully use those illustrations. The common web image resolution, 60 dpi, may look sharp on your computer screen, but not when printed! Knowing about resolution before your shoot and scans will save you time.

Use all the other features of your scanner. Your scanner is your best friend for capturing existing photographs. Not only resolution, but scanning in batches, cropping while in the scanner, saving into files or by dates, are all possibilities. You can also set to scan documents, photos, black and white, or color; magazine and newspaper articles have settings for getting rid of text that may bleed through. Read your scanner manual and set aside time to experiment. I like to scan old black & white or sepia photographs in color, not black and white, for a warmer finish if the final product will be in color.

If possible remove the photos from under glass or plastic. If you have lots of these and they may get sticky, a Flip- Pal mobile scanner will allow you to leave them in place; a camera will give you fits with glare and reflection, but taking a shot can be done.

Use existing photographs at your own risk! Whenever possible, illustrate with original shots. There are times however, when an existing shot, a historic photo, a portrait, etc. – all be someone else or the terrible-to-track Anonymous seems to be the best and only choice. Be careful with this. You will need legal permission from the copyright holder; buy the rights from a stock image company, or use photographs that are legally in the public domain and note that they are so. I am always looking to learn more about this, and if you know all about it, please get in touch or submit a specific article. Otherwise, you may find these websites a place to start:
http://www.amdlawgroup.com/how-to-use-photos-without-violating-copyright-laws/
http://www.copyrightlaws.com/us/legally-using-images/

You’ll enjoy capturing your illustrations with a camera, a scanner, or working with a photographer whom you know and trust. Enjoy it even more now that you are confident you will get a legal, usable, and communicative photo to publish! Next month Part 2 will address how photos can be used to inspire your writing, and then be integrated for a stronger package.
c. 2014 DW text and photos, all rights reserved

If you liked this, subscribe to the Point of View blog http://www.perfectmemoirs.com/point-of-view-blogpage/ for tips about writing. Deborah Wilbrink is an editor, ghostwriter and formatter for Writers in the Sky. Deborah specializes in personal history with her business Perfect Memoirs. Reach Deborah at 615-417-8424, mailto:deb@perfectmemoirs.com. Be sure to mention Writers in the Sky!
 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Poetry and Prose Corner February 2014

Don’t Be Afraid

The winds of chance fly swift beyond the clouds
To carry seeds of challenges ahead,
Til buried deep in furrows plainly plowed
They languish in uncertainty and dread.
And every whisper falling on their ear
Lends warning of the dangers yet to come.
Foreboding foils of feckless, freakish fears
Are birth to caution, leaving reason numb.
As aimless arrows all around ascend,
Like willow branches bending without harm,
Fair truth becomes a melancholy friend
To battle with the liars of alarm
Epiphany – at last fair ransom paid –
Speaks softly in my ear, “Don’t be afraid.”

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/


Footprints

By Brenda McBride

As we travel down the road of life, we face challenges and triumps that
present themelves along the way......
We encounter so many people in our journey, some of which take hold of our
hearts and show us Blessings with much to say......
These special people bring us wisdom, guidance and fellowship to lead us
in the right direction where everlasting joy and peace lie ahead......
THey provide us with scriptures that can open up our lives to see the truth
in what God had instore, taking away our tears and replacing it with blessings instead......

The gifts they bring to us are undless, with wisdom, truth and the love
that can be shared through a spiritual bond that's fruitful and real.....
Gifts from the heart last forever in their connection, out of praise and glory from God that can never be broken, can bring comfort to heal......
We will know when we've met these beautiful people of God, they stand out
in a crowd like a shining diamond that sparkles in the night......
They leave their footprints with us wherever we go, feeling so loved and
knowing everything's alright!

Brenda McBride lives in Temecula, California with her two teenage girls and is a substitute teacher working with Special Education students. Several of her articles and poems have been published in various magazines throughout the last several years. When her father passed away in 2011, her grief became so unbearable that she began writing to release deep emotions. There's not a day that goes by without the thought and beautiful memories shared with her wonderful dad.


And Well They Served

To stand on unfamiliar soil,
Stranger to the local custom,
Sent in blindness void of reason,
Purposed only to defend,

Cautioned not to question orders,
You are but a puzzle piece.
Higher forces guide decisions.
“You will thank us in the end.”

Settling into your mission,
Studying a hated foe,
Never knowing what may happen
When and if the mortars fly.

Stealthily behind your weapon,
Senses climbing to a peak,
Ready to defend your comrades,
Question not the reason why.

Grateful when the fray is over,
Though you’re weary to the bone.
A needful nation sent you there.
A thankful throng welcomes you home.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront: http://www.lulu.com/dsmartin
Plays: http://sites.google.com/site/playsbydennissmartin/ 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fifty Things Under $50 Bucks to Promote Your Book

These days it seems like everyone's book marketing budget is a little tighter. If you're feeling the pinch, or if you're just looking for some great free stuff to do on your own, here are some tips that can help keep you on track.

1) Buy your domain name as soon as you have a title for your book. You can get domain names for as little as $12.95. Tip: When buying a domain always try to get a .com and stay away from hyphens, i.e. penny-sansevieri.com - surfers rarely remember to insert hyphens. You should also consider using your keywords in your domain because it’ll help you rank better. Social media is great, but don’t use your Face-book or Twitter pages as your “website” – you should own your domain and have a site. Period. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/how-to-build-the-perfect-_b_1932184.html

2) Head on over to Wordpress.com and start your very own blog (you can add it to your website later): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/ten-reasons-why-you-shoul_b_839231.html

3) Set up an event at your neighborhood bookstore. Do an event and not a signing, book signings are boring!

4) It’s all about content these days so why not create a calendar for content? Often if you aren't sure what to write, or when, a content calendar will keep you on track. You can plan the calendar around your free time (though you should blog weekly) and around holidays or events that may tie into your book.

5) Then, while you’re at it: brainstorm content ideas and start a content folder you can always refer back to when you aren't feeling “inspired” to write anything.

6) Check out other, similar authors online and see if you can do some networking.

7) Do some radio research and pitch yourself to at least five new stations this week. Here’s a great place to find radio stations! http://www.radio-locator.com/

8) Ready to get some business cards? Head on over to Vistaprint.com. The cards are free if you let them put their logo on the back; if you don't they're still really inexpensive.

9) Put together your marketing plan. Seriously, do this. If you don't know where you're going, any destination will do. If you don’t feel like doing an entire “plan” then pick ten things you want to do this month to promote your book.

10) Plan a contest or giveaway. Contests are a great way to promote your book. Make sure to mention the contest on Face-book!

11) Time to get yourself onto Wattpad. Never heard of Wattpad? It’s a place where you can run your content, chapters, short stories, whatever you want, and it’s a fantastic way to build fans and get feedback on your work!

12) Send thank-you notes to people who have been helpful to you.

13) Send your book out to at least ten book reviewers this week.

14) Do a quick Internet search for local writers’ conferences or book festivals you can attend: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/eight-tips-to-make-your-n_b_850665.html

15) Create an email signature for every email you send; email signatures are a great way to promote your book and message.

16) Ready to pitch bloggers? Excellent, then start by doing a search for the right ones on Google. You can also head over here and plug in your search term to find the top blogs in your market: http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/

17) Enhance your Amazon Author Central Page by linking to your blog, Twitter feed or adding a video if you have one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/sell-more-on-amazoncom-un_b_3670424.html

18) Plan your free e-book promotion. If you’re on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) drop your price to zero for one day or three days. You’ll want to schedule this a week or so out, then head on over to sites where you can list your freebie. There are tons of them but here are two to get you started: http://www.igniteyourbook.com and http://www.pixelofink.com/

19) Write your bio and have someone who can be objective critique it; you’ll need it when you start pitching yourself to the media.

20) Schedule your first book event!

21) Start your own email newsletter; it’s a great way to keep readers, friends and family updated and informed on your success.

22) Start a Twitter account and begin tweeting. If you don't think Twitter is significant, think again; it's been a major part of our marketing strategy for over 2 years now (before anyone even knew what Twitter was).

23) Develop a set of questions or discussion topics that book clubs or online book clubs can use for your book, and post them on your website for handy downloads.

24) Start a Face-book Fan page. Fan Pages are much better than a personal profile for marketing because they're searchable in Google.

25) See if you can get your friends to host a “book party” in their home. You come in and discuss your book and voila, a captive audience!

26) Find some catalogs you think your book would be perfect for and then submit your packet to them for consideration. If you're unsure of what catalogs might work for you, head on over to http://www.catalogs.com/ and peruse their list.

27) Go around to your local retailers and see if they’ll carry your book; even if it’s on consignment, it might be worth it! Don’t just offer this at bookstores either, see if your local dry cleaner, gift shops, and restaurants will take it. Often local establishments are very supportive of their local authors!

28) Visual is so important these days, how about getting an account on Vine or Instagram and doing short videos and pictures about your book or topic? Visuals are a great way to sell a book!

29) Write a review for someone else’s book that’s similar to yours. Not sure how this relates to your promotion? Well it’s called networking and it’s just a great idea to always do outreach.

30) Get yourself on Library Thing or Goodreads and start gathering friends and building your profile there: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/how-to-become-a-goodreads_b_3719161.html

31) Make sure your blog is connected to Amazon via their Amazon connect program (yes, it's free). (You can do this through your Author Central Page)

32) Ask friends and family to email five people they know and tell them about your book.

33) Leave your business card, bookmark, or book flyer wherever you go.

34) Subscribe to Talkwalker.com or Mention.net and make sure that you are getting alerts under your name as well as your book title(s), brand, and keywords.

35) Pitch yourself to your local television stations.

36) Pitch yourself to your local print media.

37) Work on the Q&A for your press kit. You’ll need it when you start booking media interviews!

38) Schedule a book giveaway on Library Thing or Goodreads. It’s a fantastic way to drive new interest for your book! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/the-power-of-the-goodread_b_3736965.html

39) Is the topic of your book in the news? Check your local paper, and write a letter to the editor to share your expertise (and promote your book!).

40) Stop by your local library and see if you can set up an event. They love local authors.

41) Do you want to get your book into your local library system? Try dropping off a copy to your main library; if they stock it chances are the other branches will too.

42) Go to Chase’s Calendar of Events (www.Chases.com) and find out how to create your own holiday!

43) Going on vacation? Use your away-from-home time to schedule a book event or two.

44) If your book is appropriate, go to local schools to see if you can do a reading.

45) Got a book that could be sold in bulk? Start with your local companies first and see if they’re interested in buying some promotional copies to give away at company events.

46) Don’t forget to add reviews to your website. Remember that what someone else has to say is one thousand times more effective than anything you could say!

47) Trying to meet the press? Search for Press Clubs in your area, they meet once a month and are a great place to meet the media.

48) Want a celebrity endorsement? Find celebs in your market with an interest in your topic and then go for it. Remember all they can say is no. Check out the Actors Guild for a list of celeb representatives.

49) Ready to get some magazine exposure? Why not pitch some regional and national magazines with your topic or submit a freelance article for reprint consideration?

50) Work on your next book or work on writing mini-books. Sometimes the best way to sell your first book is by promoting your second, but also many authors are writing and promoting mini-books to keep readers engaged while they wait for their next book to come out. How long do mini-books need to be? 50-75 pages. That’s it!

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com