Showing posts with label writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writers. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2019

3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher

3 Additional Newbie Self-Publisher Tips
From a Fellow Newbie's Experience
In the previous few articles, I reviewed my newbie experiences with self-publishing. Since I've published my third book, and still have some hair left, there's more to share.

Again, I'm not a publishing guru, I'm just sharing tips as I go through the process.

If you've published paperbacks, you understand that your book can then be uploaded in digital format as an eBook.

I started in reverse. My first book was an eBook. After publishing an eBook, I learned to publish paperbacks.

However, once I mastered (yeah right) the ability to publish a paperback, I changed the order I publish books in:

  •  My books are written for Paperback publishing first
  •  Then that same book is uploaded as an eBook

I prefer doing paperback books first. The physical copy is usually more detailed and takes a bit more care in its design.

When doing an eBook, you upload your completed book document to KindleCreate. Again, read this article for a little bit about KindleCreate and eBook preparation.

Three Tips to Pass Along: 

1. Kindle Create - What I learned the Hard Way with the Third Book

If your manuscript/book document has anything in List Format, as an example, 1, 2, 3, etc., when you upload it to KindleCreate, KindleCreate doesn't let you modify Lists. You have to have it exactly as you want it before uploading, or don't use a list format. 

My book had 160 items in List Format. To get around the lists for the eBook version, I typed the numbers in brackets and put them above the typed item. I didn't use the auto-format of 1.2.3. in the toolbar. However, beware; even if you type 1. versus using the word processing numbering format in the toolbar, you still won't be able to modify that list in KindleCreate.

Oh, and the same goes for Tables in KindleCreate: They can't be modified once uploaded to KindleCreate.

Maybe KindleCreate will change these restrictions down the road?

2. Get Your Amazon Author Page Completed

To get started, read the general instructions on the Amazon help page here. It's easy to understand.

I decided to wait until I had three books completed before doing my Author page. However, there's no need to wait. If you only have one book, go for it.

The Author page has five key elements:

  •  Upload your photo, or any photo(s) you prefer for the page
  •  Add your books to the page (easy, automatic process)|
  •  Write a Bio on yourself - Take some time to do this (see the tip below)
  •  Upload any videos you have that relate to you or your books
  •  Add an RSS feed from your blog, or Pinterest or another place that connects to your Business


Regarding the Amazon Bio, don't miss this article, it's filled with excellent tips. It provides guidance on how your Bio should sound, and what you should say. You can follow me on my newly created author page If you prefer a video tutorial on how to complete an Author Page, this one is helpful:




3. The Size of Your Book as it Relates to the Book's Spine

I haven't used a professional graphic artist yet to create covers. For now, Amazon's Cover Creator is still my go-to tool. What I learned with this third book is that size matters. If you would like your book to have written details on the Spine, you need to ensure it's approximately 100 pages. This last book was less, about 65 pages, and thus couldn't have the title on the Spine. 

To avoid this, I'll be keeping most of my books to at least 100 pages. You don't have to if you don't want to, it's up to you.

Here are my article tips to date:


Here's my completed third book, and yep, working on the fourth.

Note: I'm an Amazon Associate
But my Associate ID is not in the above Link





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, October 27, 2019

5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher

5 Helpful Tools Discovered by a Newbie Self-Publisher

In the past two weeks, I've talked about lessons learned as a newbie self-publisher. My first attempt was an eBook and the second a Paperback. Like I said in those articles, I'm not a guru! I'm learning the ropes and sharing the climb.

Was it easy, no way! I can honestly say I'm lacking sleep, and this so-called brain of mine has been reduced to mush. But I love the feeling: You know when you've overcome something and earned a sense of moving forward.

In this article, I'd like to share some of the convenient tools I've found online to help you with your own self-publishing journey. I spent a lot of time researching various aspects of the writing and publishing process and have saved my favorite tips and tools for future projects.

Here are five handy tools/tips I discovered along the way:

1. Choosing a Title for Your Books

I'll start by saying that my titles aren't genius. Lol, but as most of you know, a title is vital. My second book is all about fun, it's a party riddle gamebook. Yah, I know, who writes riddles, right? It's a crazy freaking knack that I have, go figure?

I wanted to create interest with my title and have the title say precisely what the book was about, and what the book could be used for.

I researched some of the most potent action words for marketing and tripped on several helpful articles. The article I ended up saving for future reference was "277 Action Words to Supercharge Your Writing."

2. Kindleprenuer - Be Sure to Check it Out

Kindleprenuer is filled with handy writing tidbits. It's written in a straightforward format, and the tips are easy to implement. They also suggest useful tools to help you along your learning process.

Don't miss their article on 'How to Title a Book,' it's worth your time!

3. Title Generators - These are Handy

A title generator auto-generates suggested title ideas based on your entry. I'll admit, the title for my latest book didn't come from a title generator; however, the title generator did inspire my final decision for the title.

This title generator is a ton of fun and a little addictive! Go ahead and put in the details and see the choices it spits out. It's also a recommended tool by Kindleprenuer.

Here's another helpful title generator. As I mentioned above, it did inspire the title creation process.

4. Setting Up Your Amazon Author Central Page

Since I only have two books published, I haven't set my page up yet. However, you guessed it, I've researched the topic already.

When you're ready, check out this article on how to set your Author Page up, it's helpful.

5. Choosing Your Subtitles - Bold, Clear, and Specific

No, I didn't come up with that criteria. It's part of the excellent advice you'll get from Kindleprenuer. I mentioned them above. They also offer a helpful article on 'how to select a subtitle that sells'.

______________________

Here were my challenges:
  •  It's a riddle book
  •  The book is designed and suggested as a fun game for parties
  •  The riddles are geared towards teens and adults (all clean of course)
  •  I needed a branded name to use on future riddle books
As I researched naming my book, I had quite the challenge trying to get these points established on the cover: A party game book, a riddle book, for teens and adults as well as finding space for an action word.

Here's what I decided:
  •  "A Party Game" stated at the top since that's the point of the book
  •  #Stumped is my branded name that will be on future riddle books
  •  'Instant Party Riddles for Teens and Adults" is the sub-title
  •  The word "Instant" is my action word
  •  The back of the book features an actual riddle 
I'm not saying my choices are the right ones, or that they can't be improved. In fact, I may change the cover down the road. What I learned is that the process for choosing a title, sub-title, and design is time-consuming and crucial to the overall final product.

That's enough for today on my journey into self-publishing, here's my second book. There's an eBook version as well, but it's in the approval stage. It should be showing in a day or so. 

Oh, and yes, I've started the third book: It's not poetry, it's not a riddle book, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?

Here's book number two. Available on Amazon.
Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, but the above link
does not have my Associate ID in it.




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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Shadows in the Sun Movie Review

Finding Love And More In Italy

A friend of mine, Joan, recently suggested that I watch the movie Shadows in the Sun. I took her suggestion and would like to review it for you today. 

shadows in the sun
A street in Italy
image courtesy of pixabay.com
First of all, I'll share that I loved this movie! I have always wanted to go to Italy so the setting where the story takes place appealed to me a great deal. The countryside and the small village are charming and very much somewhere I would like to visit in real life someday.

There is a reason, Joan recommended that I watch this movie. The general theme in the plot involves a relationship that develops between two writers. One is famous while the other is aspiring to write his first book. Since I write novels, myself, of course it grabbed my attention.

Synopsis of the movie Shadows in the Sun

Jeremy Taylor is a successful agent in a London publishing firm. He is sent to Tuscany by his boss to do what others have failed to do; sign a reclusive author to a contract for a new book. Weldon Parish, the author, hasn't written a book in a few decades. His past work was a huge success but he gave up writing after his wife died. 

It is a struggle for Jeremy to even find Weldon in the beginning but he perseveres; eventually meeting the eccentric and crabby older man. Their first meeting doesn't go well as Weldon makes it known that he hates publishers, editors and agents. 

As the plot unfolds, Weldon and Jeremy become friends. Jeremy is a huge fan of the books that the former author wrote years ago and he is struggling with his own writing. Weldon wants no part of writing another book but he does start to teach Jeremy ways that he might improve his own style. 

Jeremy learns to let go of his rigid restraint as Weldon drags him into a few wild adventures in the small village and surrounding area. He is also falling head over heels in love with Weldon's daughter. The growing feelings between Jeremy and Isabella are sweet and touching while the antics by Weldon are humorous.

I'm really glad that Joan suggested this movie to me. It isn't a new movie, it was first released in theaters in 2005 and in DVD in 2006. Jeremy is played by the actor Joshua Jackson from Cursed and Dawson's Creek. The character of Weldon Parish is played by Harvey Keitel who has been in many movies and television shows. 

If you like a romantic comedy, I think you will enjoy this movie. It can be viewed for free if you are a Prime member. You can rent it to stream or you can buy the DVD. 


Shadows in the Sun
 (paid link)



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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher

Confessions of a Newbie Self Publisher


To help you dreamers out, I'm writing this review about my experience of self-publishing my first paperback book through Amazon.

First off, I'm absolutely a newbie at this; the piles of pulled-out hair beside my desk rests as evidence. 

I'm going to go point-by-point with some of the major issues I faced during the learning process.

Again, this article isn't meant to come across as all-knowing, because I'm not all-knowing on this subject!

However, I did spend hours, and I do mean hours researching and learning and doing and swearing just to get that first paperback book up on Amazon. So from that perspective, I know a little bit more than I did a month ago.

What was most daunting was learning the technical aspects of getting that book up on Amazon.

You writers out there would probably agree that writing the book is the easy part! A few weeks back, I posted an article on getting a Kindle eBook up and running. You can read about that swearing event here. Again, I'm not a guru!! Just sharing my newbie nightmares.

So here we go, point by point on some of the things I learned about self-publishing a paperback book through Amazon:

1. You Need the Paperback Book Templates from Amazon

First, if you haven't already, sign up for KDP Self-Publishing.

Before you get started, go to the Amazon self-publishing help area to get those templates.

Download them, unzip them, then decide on the size you want your book to be. Choose the Template that reflects the size you want. You need the Template because it has all the borders and guidelines you have to follow when writing. While you're in that help area, watch their videos and read all their tips. Good stuff there.

Note: Standard size seems to be 6X9 - For my poetry book, I went with 7X10. There are a lot of sizes to choose from.

2. What Word Processing Program Should You Use to Write Your Book?

There's a loaded question. I must have landed on fifty different answers during those google searches from hell.

I don't have the full version of Microsoft Word on my computer, and I wasn't about to frigging buy it.

So I researched alternatives to Word. I found the common ones people use; one is a free download called OpenOffice.org, and the other freebie word processing download I found is LibreOffice.

I've used OpenOffice in business before but based on some of the comments I read from the LibreOffice users, I thought, what the heck, let's try that one.

So to answer the question, you can use Word, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice - maybe there's more? I dunno.

3. What About Writing and Preparing Your Book in Google Documents

That's the first thing I did before even starting the 'technical aspects of what to do after it's typed." I typed the book in Google Docs. At least I had it there for safekeeping until I knew what the heck to do next!

From what I've learned so far, you can type your book directly into your word processing program using the Template from Amazon KDP, of course! Can you skip the google docs part? Well, I still plan to write my books in google docs and then copy and paste them into the word processing program with the book Template.

4. LibreOffice - Using the Amazon Paperback Templates

I have no idea whether you can upload the Amazon paperback templates into Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. However, I'm going out on a limb and saying, yah, of course, you can.

With LibreOffice, the first thing I did was upload the Paperback Template I needed for the size of the book I wanted to do. At that point, it was a matter of learning the LibreOffice program. If you're familiar with word processing programs, you'll probably be able to muddle through. When in doubt, google those questions, that's what I did in spades.

Since my book was already written in Google Docs, I simply copy and pasted it section by section into the template.

LibreOffice: What I Like About it

When you open the program, your books are there, individually listed as nice sizeable Icons. It was fairly easy to learn, but I'm not a pro at it by any stretch of the imagination (yet).

LibreOffice: What I Don't Like About it

Holy Hannah, who designed the Footer Page Count area - YUK! Very difficult to use. Yes, my mouth needed to be washed out with soap a few times. Some of the comments I made (whilst hubby was laughing) "who designed this part of the program! Are they so self-absorbed with their intelligence that they had to make it complicated?."

Other word processing programs have easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy Footer Page Counts, but not LibreOffice! Yes, the table of contents auto-generates and the pages count properly, but it's the number system in the Footer and where the counts start that cause you to drink lots of wine!

Will I use LibreOffice again for my next book? Yep, I learned so much; I don't want to switch now. But I don't have that page count thing in the Footer sorted out yet! And yes, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on it - still not clear.

5. Prettying Up that Book as You're Putting it in the Template

I decided on font styles, headings, and font sizes. From what I read, consistency was important. However, my book is a Poetry Book, so it's different than a novel. A novel, I would imagine, is more straight forward.

I did quite a bit of research on what the best fonts are to use in books, particularly poetry books. After my research, I ended up choosing the Garamond font. I used that font throughout the whole book. I didn't choose it because it was the best for poetry. I preferred the look of it for easy reading on the page.

My paperback poetry book has chapters and sub-chapters, and also a few graphics throughout. So yah, more convoluted to lay it out.

6. How Should the Sections of Your Book Flow and in What Order?

I googled this over and over. You guessed it, different answers from different people. Being that I wrote a Poetry Book, I didn't follow the traditional page designations that a novel would. Here's how I laid out my poetry book:
  •  First Page inside the Book - Title Only

  •  Second Page inside the Book - Title, Sub Title, Author

  •  Third Page inside the Book - Copyright Page (I googled some content and modified it to suit my book). On the copyright page, you'll include your ISBN number - more about that below.

  •  Fourth Page - The Dedication

  •  Fifth Page - A Summary of the Books Contents (that's optional)

  •  Sixth Page - Acknowledgments

  •  Seventh to Eleventh Page - Auto-Generated Table of Contents (my table of contents ended up being 4 pages)

  •  Twelfth Page - A Chapter Page that summarizes the poetry content for Chapter One

  •  Thirteenth Page to page 136 - The content of the book with all chapters in there (I have six chapters)

  •  At the End: About the Author, with sections on 'Why I Decided to Write a Book of Poems' and 'What's Different About This Book of Poems'

  • My Personal Favorite poems are also listed at the end

  • "Thanks for Reading" was next. The gurus say to ask for a review - um, no I didn't do that

  • Closing Message to My Kids

7. Book is Done, Sitting in Your Word Processing Program - What the Heck is Next?

Logging into KDP Publishing is next. Start your engines. 

Select the type of book you're uploading (Kindle eBook or Paperback). 

Go through each of the areas to fill in the information they ask for (this is before any uploads). Honestly, I just watched a lot of tutorials and tips on how to fill everything in. 

Uploading Your Book:

If you're confident that your book is the way you want it, you can upload it. 

However, to upload your book it has to be in a format that's conducive to Amazon's format. LibreOffice extensions are not. After searching out how to do this, I discovered that you can upload the book to amazon in PDF format. (There are other acceptable formats as well). 

In LibreOffice, to get a pdf extension on your file, you simply go to - FILE - EXPORT AS - and CHOOSE PDF. Save it to your computer. Bingo, you're ready for uploading.

Don't worry if you upload the book and you need to change it for some reason - you can overwrite that upload easily if you're not live. Just don't approve it until you're sure. I ended up re-uploading mine a few times as I discovered some errors. I'm sure there are more I missed, being my first time and all.

Note: The Gurus strongly stress hiring a professional editor to check your book for errors. Yah, I didn't do that either. Are they right about that? YES. It's the smart thing to do. Hire a professional. But again, this is Newbie territory I'm in so of course, I'm not listening. Lol. Down the road, yes, that's something I will consider.

8. WAIT! You Need a Book Cover! OMG

Ok. The gurus say, 'get your cover professionally done.' They're right, did I do that, no. Why? Because it was my first book of poems and, well, I had to be the opposite. Plus, I wasn't ready to spend money on that until I felt more confident about what I was doing.

If you're a graphics guru, by using Amazon's KDP Cover Page Templates (you can download those - google search), you can make your own personally designed professional cover. 

There's no way on God's green earth I could possibly do this in a timely fashion. Yes, I tried. More booze. However, I am thinking of hiring a graphics professional down the road for other books I plan to write. 

Oh, I did create my own cover for the eBook version using the online program, Adobe Spark. But that's not useful for actual paperback books that need high-quality digital print.

Inside KDP, there's a Cover Creator Section.

The gurus say, don't use this! So I did the opposite, and for this book, I used it. It's better to hire someone, but I'm not there yet. Play with Cover Creator; you're not obligated to any design until you finally hit save. Even then, you can still change it if you want. You need a high-quality photo of yourself if you're putting it on the back of your book (at least 300 DPI - that was challenging!).

9. ISBN Numbers

Both eBooks and Paperbacks need them. They're different for each book, and every book. Yes, you can ask Amazon to generate one for you. 

The downside to having Amazon generate one for you is that you can only use that particular book with that particular ISBN number for Amazon. In other words, if you're going to offer your book elsewhere, you would have to get your own ISBN number for those.

So you're wondering, how do I get ISBN Numbers? Right?

Canadian ISBN Numbers:

If you're in Canada, you can go here, a Government of Canada page, and register to have the ability to generate ISBN numbers. It could take a few weeks before you're approved. I thought, what the heck, so I registered. 

I used my own self-generated Canadian ISBN number for my eBook Version. Easy. 

However, what I discovered with the Paperback Version is that along with the ISBN Number, the book needs a Digital Code thingy on the back, and I had no idea how to get one of those through my Canadian ISBN account. I'll learn later. 

So for the Paperback Version, I used Amazon's auto-generating ISBN number. Easy. Just be sure that when you get that number from your KDP Account, you put it inside your book on the Copyright page. Best to do that before you actually upload the book.

United States ISBN Numbers:

Since I'm Canadian, I didn't research this very much. However, from what I read, it seems Americans have to pay for those? Don't quote me on that though; I'm not sure. But, again, you can have Amazon auto-generate the numbers for you.

There's more, but that's enough for today.

In closing, my guiding principle while doing this was that famous quote, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." My goal was to get one done.

I'm already onto my next book (It's not poetry, it's not a novel, oh what could it be?) Just a tad addicting.

I hope this helps other newbies, because wow. :)

Here's what my newbie-book looks like - front and back covers.

Available on Amazon (Note: I'm an Amazon Associate, however
the link under this particular photo does not contain my AssociateID)




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Sunday, October 6, 2019

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Been Meaning to Do for Decades

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Always Wanted to Do

Have You Ever Wanted to Write an eBook But Didn’t Know Where to Start?  

That’s where I was. For decades I kept saying, "I want to do a book of my lifetime poems," and kept putting it off. Finally, I took the plunge and just recently completed the book. The poems were already written, and it took me about a month to learn the ropes and put the book together. It’s a book of personally written poems and lyrics from the age of 8 to 58, entitled "We Will Have Morning Smiles."

As a newbie self-publisher, I’d like to share a few of the tools I researched and used to get this first book on the market. These are just the basics, to learn from the guru’s you’ll have to Google and find the ones you like. I did watch multiple YouTube Videos from various people, and the advice I found most helpful was Self-Publishing with Dale. I tripped on his videos after endless Google research. Compared to some, his video presentations were the easiest to follow. 

My First eBook of Poems
The advice in his videos are helpful, but to be honest, I didn’t follow all of it. One bit of information was that you should use a professional to create the cover of your book (if you can). I didn’t do that; I created my own. However, I do agree that a professional is a better way to go. 

The other is that you should, if you can, hire a professional to ‘Format’ your book. Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t do that. I formatted my own. Formatting isn’t easy, especially with a poetry book, but you can do it if you’re willing to read and learn.

Here are Three Quick Points to Help You Get Started:

1. Create Your KDP Publisher Account on Amazon - This is Where You'll Upload Your Book for Publishing

That part is easy. However, when you start filling all the information in, you'll have a lot of questions. The good thing is, KDP has a terrific help section, and customer service answers questions very quickly.

2. Google Documents or Microsoft Word - Where You'll Write Your Book

I wasn’t sure how to get a book written, formatted, then uploaded to Amazon or any other sellers platform.

After reading multiple articles on how to get started, I was more confused. 

What I found was that most people use Microsoft Word to write their books. Since I don’t have the full paid version of Word on my Laptop, I decided to use Google Documents. However, you do have to save your work in .docx format to upload it to Kindle Create (see more about Kindle Create below). 

To save your google document to a .docx format:

  • Click ‘File’ in the top left
  • Scroll down to ‘Download’
  • Several file saving options will show, choose (.docx)
  • Save the file to your computer. Done.

Oh, and guess how much I knew about Google Documents? Yep. Nada. I never had a reason to use it. However, I should have been! It’s a terrific tool. I’m using it for a ton of things now. So easy. I’m currently helping a family member out with a project and have been sharing work via Google Documents. No wonder people like it!

Here’s another google docs tip for you: 

In google docs, you can auto-generate a Table of Contents. However, on the editing bar, look for the button that says, “Normal Text." There’s a dropdown menu there that lets you choose various Heading options. 

Your Heading choices are essential because they determine what goes in your table of contents, and where:
  • Heading 1 - Puts the title as a Chapter Heading in your Table of Contents
  • Heading 2 - Places it as a Sub-Chapter below a Chapter

With my poetry book, sub-chapters were important. The main chapters are the headings that describe the types of poems, and the sub-chapters are each poem by title below it.
This is the Back Cover
It appears at the end of
the eBook on the inside

3. Download Kindle Create - Kindle Create is Where You'll Format Your Book for Publishing

There are conflicting views on using this. I would guess very experienced self-publishers don't need it.

Since I’m a newbie and Kindle Create was easy to understand, it served my needs. I’ll be using it again, at least until I become some sort of a pro. 

Download Kindle Create to your computer directly from Amazon. Then watch the video tutorials and read the help section. They’re fabulous.

Upload your saved book (either from Word or Google Docs - if that’s what you used), into Kindle Create. 

The file that's created in Kindle Create is the file you'll eventually upload to your KDP Amazon Publisher Account.

A Few Tips to Share: 

  • Kindle create generates a Table of Contents for you
  • However, I still created a detailed Table of Contents in Google Docs
  • I included both Tables of Contents in my book - The detailed Table of Contents with Sub-Chapters is from Google Docs, the other from Kindle Create only features the main chapters (because I designed it that way). You don’t have to do this, but I wanted more of a break-down.
  • It appears you can't directly internally link on your document while inside of Kindle Create. 
  • Do all your internal linking in Word or Google Docs before you upload it to Kindle Create.

Remember, these are the basics for beginner self-publishers like me. I wanted to give you a way to get started on your own ebook because I know how daunting getting started can seem.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Gifts For Writers Reviewed

Ideas For The Writer On Your Gift List

writer gifts
Writing Gift suggestions image from Pixabay.com
With Christmas coming closer by the day, I thought I would review some ideas for gifts for writers today. You probably don't have many on your list but if you have just one you might not be sure what would be useful to give to them. 

Something that is relatively easy and won't hurt your wallet very much is to get a few notebooks; you know like the ones the kids use in school. Add some pens and pencils and wrap them up as a gift. Now, you might be thinking that this seems a little old school because they most likely use a keyboard to write their stories. Well, yes but those notebooks come in pretty darned handy. I can never have enough of them! I used them to jot down ideas but I also use them to start to define my characters. I will use a page to jot down the physical characteristics, personality traits and the name of the character. It makes it much easier to refer back to while I am writing. Jotting this all down in a notebook helps me to visualize the character and breaths life into their existence into my crowded and addled brain. Trust me, a writer will appreciate getting them.

Last Christmas one of my daughters gave me this book and I really loved it!

I admire Stephen King a great deal and my daughter knows that. Now, I don't read his horror books because quite frankly I am sure he would scare the daylights out of me. What I admire is his absolute genius with words. I digress. The reason I think this is a good gift for a writer is that Mr. King talks about his process and his history as a writer. He doesn't go into the real mechanics of writing in the book. It is like he says, there aren't really any classes or books that can teach you to write. You either have it in you or you don't. What he does share are the struggles of a writer, especially in the early years. He talks about the number of rejections he received in the beginning and how he didn't give up. Sure, in his early years of writing, he hoped to make money but as any writer will tell you, there is more to it than that. There are stories in you that you just have to get out and you just keep at it. Anyway, I truly think that any writer would both enjoy and benefit from reading this book.

Another gift idea for the writer is a whimsical mug that has some sort of saying about writing. I particularly like the one below for the authors of fiction:


I am quite sure that your writer will get a chuckle out of this one every time they pick it up to drink their coffee or tea while writing. Our characters are really no different than those imaginary friends that we had as children. You may not be able to hear them or see them but they are very real to us. It may sound strange to people who don't write fiction but to an author it makes total sense. In order for us to be able to make them come alive with our words; they have to exist in our psyche.

Another option for a mug for that writer on your list is this one:

This one really made me laugh! Authors have to do a lot of research when writing a book. Well, let's  say that they should do research. When I was writing my first book and wanted to use poison to kill someone; I did a lot of browsing on types of poisons. As I was talking my ideas over with my husband he made the comment, "Babe, you better hope that nothing suspicious ever happens to me and the cops start looking at your browsing history!" We both laughed, but he had a point. Seriously!

Something else that every writer should have is a Thesaurus. The writer on your gift list may already have one but a second one would be appreciated; I am sure. You can find one in a local book store or even in the school supply section of your favorite store. It might be something that you could add to those notebooks and writing utensils as a gift.

Of course, you could get books that have to do with the mechanics of writing. My guess is; they probably already know the mechanics, though. It is like Stephen King intimates; the ability to tell a story is inside you or it is not. A person can know all of the ins and outs of grammar and punctuation but if they don't have a story to tell; what good is it?

There are all sorts of little writing aides in the form of books and game like activities that are supposed to help with story ideas. I have a few that have been given to me as gifts. They are kind of fun to use. I find them helpful in just practicing writing. I guess I look at them as sort of an improv type of activity like a comedian might do on stage. They don't really help me come up with an idea for a book but they do help me use my imagination to just write something. I do keep them because you never know when you might read through what you have done and come up with a plot in the future.

Well, I hope I have sparked some ideas for you if you have a writer on your gift list this year. Let me know in the comments if you have some other ideas. 



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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Social Media For Writers Reviewed

Authors Need To Market Their Work

writers market
Writer Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
One of the gifts that I just received for Christmas was the book Social Media For Writers. My daughter thought it might be helpful for me to brush up on the skills needed to be successful with the use of Social Media in regards to my marketing strategy in order to sell my books. 

If you are a regular reader of Review This, you are probably aware that I published my first Cozy Mystery novel in October of 2017. Then in November I published my second book in the series. It isn't like in the past when if you were lucky enough to find a publisher for your books who offered you a contract. Back then if you were a writer with a large publishing firm, they did a lot of the marketing for you. A lot of us have gone the self-publishing route which means that all of the marketing is up to us, the author. Even if we had a big name publisher we would need to market our own work. Most publishing companies of today only spend their advertising money on well known authors (who kind of don't need it but that is another topic all together!). 

Those of you who know me probably think that I probably already understand how to use social media because this isn't my first rodeo with a writing gig. I might have published my first fictional work but I've been around the block several times when it comes to promoting my online writing ventures. I do understand the basics of social media and use it regularly but I will admit not to its fullest potential. The game is different for authors in particular and let's face it...the way to use these social networks changes on a regular basis. How many times have you reached a point where you feel that you have figured it all out, to have one or two of the popular sites change the playing field? I'm guessing a lot!

So, I really appreciate my daughter gifting me this book! I'm reminding myself of the basics while being able to come up with a strategy for my writing and promotions.

What I like about this book by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine is that it is written in an easy to understand format. As I said, I'm not new to social media but even if I were the content would be easy to understand. They do a really good job of explaining how each option works and best practices for a writer to use on each platform. They cover blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Do they recommend that you try to use all of them? Actually, no. They understand that if one were to try to have a solid presence on all of them; there would be no time for the actual writing of the books. They suggest that you pick the three that you are most comfortable with and go from there.

As I am studying this book, I feel confident with their advice. They are both authors in their own right and I can tell by the content that they actually use social media to promote not just this book but a series of books that they have co-authored together. I don't know about you but for me that is huge. I'm sure that you have experienced the same as I have over the years with getting advice from a so called expert who has less experience than you do when the dust all settles.

I really like that the authors break down the formats and give realistic time frames for using them. Having experience with most of these social media networks, I can tell that they are giving good information on the time that can be invested in working with the different options. They are even honest about having invested a lot of time on a few of them and figuring out that for their needs and their time constraints, it wasn't worth it. That doesn't mean that you will come to the same conclusion because we all have different styles and comfort levels. I do appreciate their honesty in the results for themselves!

Now, I realize that not all of you are planning to write a novel or a work of non-fiction; that being said I do know that many of you have a strong online presence either contributing here on Review This or your own sites. Perhaps you contribute on another multi-user site. My point is that much of the information will be beneficial for your online work as well.

I know in the past, I have tried to have a presence on all of the social media sites. It doesn't take long to get burnt out trying to keep up. Reading a book like Social Media For Writers is helpful in reminding us of what it is we want to accomplish and the audience we are trying to reach. This book gives some realistic advice on coming up with a strategy that is not overwhelming and that with the proper effort put forth should offer a successful result. It is not going to happen overnight but with dedication and a good plan, it can happen.

I am finding this book very helpful and I think that many of you will, also. I know I am changing my strategy after having read it. I am going to concentrate on three platforms and not worry about all of the others. How about you? If you were going to limit your marketing to three platforms, which would you be willing to invest your time in?



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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reviewing A Coffee Mug For Writers

Gift Idea For The Writer...

writers desk
Writing Center image courtesy of Pixabay.com
I have mentioned before that I like to drink my coffee in whimsical mugs. Recently I have been looking at gift ideas for the coming holidays and found one that is perfect for myself and really all of the contributors here on Review This. 

Most of my time of late has been spent working on my first novel. Over the years I have started several but I would give up; realizing that they just weren't ready to be written yet. Last month a thought popped into my addled brain, I let it sit there for a day or two. To be honest I was reluctant to do much with it because I wasn't sure that I was up to it. A bit of insecurity, perhaps; whispers from those unwritten ones taunting me that I wouldn't get far so just let it go. One would be surprised what goes on in a head filled with stories that refuse to come out! 

Without going into a lot of detail, the characters and the story just wouldn't go away. It was like this group was insisting to be set free. (They probably got tired of the crowded living conditions in my head!) So, I sat down and worked on an outline of the possible plot. The story has flowed...

So, what pray tell does this all have to do with a review on a coffee mug? It is just a little back story to explain why I was looking for gifts for writers. It also explains a little as to why this particular mug appealed to me.

When I first saw the saying on the mug, it made me giggle. The whimsical statement reminded me of another woman that I knew years ago who was an author. During a conversation that the two of us were having, I made a sarcastic remark about something. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Oh I love that! I'm going to use that in my next book!" She preceded to write my comment down. Being a "wanna be" author myself at the time, I was intrigued at her observations of every day life to incorporate into a story. What I have come to realize as I have worked on my book is that IS exactly what a writer does. We take past experiences and make them funny or mysterious or tragic. Our characters are combinations of people that we know. My main character looks like a female celebrity that I have always admired, her personality has a little bit of myself combined with other women I have known. She isn't a replica of any one of us but a melding of traits from several people.

Anyway, I've digressed a little here. I think that the coffee mug above would be a fun gift for anyone who writes. I know I would love to have it! I think that if you have a writer or even a budding writer on your gift list it might work for them, too.

On a side note: my book is finished and in the editing phase. My characters are so strong in my head that they still have more to do and say. I'm working now on the second book of what will be a series. I will accept no more taunting from those unfinished books in the peanut gallery of my brain....




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Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year's Countdown!

It's Official!  We are now on the Countdown to New Year's Eve!

2016 Happy New Year
By Viscious-Speed [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Christmas is officially over and all the wrappings, running around, visiting and partying with family and friends has come to a trickle, we can now gear it up again for the New Year.

Traditionally it's a time to reflect on the year that has passed and look to the future and what 2016 will bring our way.

Now without a crystal ball, it will be difficult to figure out exactly what will happen in the year ahead, but with some foresight, we can make sure that certain possibilities do happen.

What do I mean?  Well, let's just say that instead of trying to project what we hope will happen, how about we make sure by our actions, that changes we want see,  actually do happen.

I'm talking about making changes in our lives that will actually result in some of our expectations coming to fruition.

For a good many writers, that will mean something like:  making sure that you have your blogs in place for publishing when they are expected, especially if you belong to a group of writers!  If you are running your own website, it means learning the skills to make that website successful.  It will mean taking the time to learn and then put into practice those lessons that have been imparted to you.

It will also mean that you need to focus! Focus on what you wish to accomplish with your blog and/or your website.  There are people out there who are doing what you wish to be doing and to that end, they are sharing their expertise, so that you can do this as well.


From personal experience I can also tell you that there are two ladies out there who have had years of experience and are sharing their knowledge with many bloggers and website builders.  They have even shared how they earn make money, blogging and building their websites,  from home.  They offer courses in how to blog for money, build a website in a day, and how to learn to place affiliate links that will earn you an income, and all for reasonable investment.  They are the real thing, and I can tell you from personal experience, there are many more out there who just want to hook you in and then let you sink!  Not so with Pajama Affiliates!


Blogging Course : "Learn to Blog for Money"

Just as Review This is a site to find out all kinds of information, your website can be the place that people go to, when they are on the look out for the information, that you are sharing.

Learning how to rank your website and then properly doing the work to make sure that your website is optimized properly, will draw those people that are out there "searching" through the different search engines, like "google" or "yahoo", "ask" or "search".

Affiliate Marketing and Amazon Masterclass


Are you confused yet?  If so, the best place to start is with someone who can help you make your site the best and be totally committed to helping you learn the "right" way to make this possible.

I joined and I have not regretted this for one moment.  Lesley and Robin are there for you.  Once you join, if you need help, they are there to help you along.  Do you need more coaxing?

When you join the Pajama Affiliates group, not only do Lesley and Robin help you with any problems you might have, but the whole community of bloggers will help you with their knowledge as well.  That is just one of the many perks of belonging to this group.

Your New Year's hopes and aspirations are waiting for you to make the first move.  Get blogging and learn how to turn that into some extra income for you and your family.

Now I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy, Health and Prosperous New Year!

Let's meet back here and see how 2016 turned out!







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