Saturday, November 20, 2010

Author Interrogated (extended)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Marketing Minute- Activity #2

I'm back!

You knew I would be.

So, the last time I posted, I indicated that I was doing research on blogs who review novels in my genre so that I could set up reviews and possibly interviews and blog tour stops. Well, I sent out 10 e-mails yesterday. I got three responses and all were positive for reviewing and hosting interviews. Yep, I've got a long way to go, but it's a start. I'll send out five e-mails every day from this point forward until I've exhausted my list. Then I'll compile some more.

How many should you sign up for? As many as you can. Remember, how blogs work. For example, Becky sets up a blog and has 50 followers. Her information appears on their blogs. Among her 50 followers are ten people who have 1000 followers. So, your information not only appears on their blogs, but also their followers blogs. This is how your book goes viral and you start to build the ever important "buzz." You can never sign up with too many. So, find as many as you can and make it a constant process.

A few pointers for crafting your letters:
Numbered List
  • First, make sure that you at least TRY to personalize each letter to the extent that you can. Take the time to find out the name of the person who runs the blog. This will go a long way toward building goodwill. On some blogs the information isn't always apparent or easy to find, but most blogs who regularly review books have a book review policy page and provide their contact information there.
  • Include your book's information: Title, name of publisher (your imprint name or your name), ISBN number, format (tradepaper, hardcover), number of pages, back cover copy, and jpeg of your cover file.
  • Be careful of what you post online--anywhere. This not only applies to reaching out to bloggers but your career as an author. Like it or not, people will do research on you as bloggers, potential publishers, readers, etc. are bound to do. Be careful of what you post and what you say. Avoid negative interaction because it may affect whether people want to work with you. I say this because one blogger agreed to host my book and host me on a blog tour partly because I had a positive interaction with a reviewer who gave me a negative review. You never know how that stuff will play into the future, so just avoid the negative stuff altogether if you can.
Activity #2

For today's activity, I'm going to try and compile a list of book festivals and fairs that I can or will try attend next year to begin setting up my schedule. Now, of course, festivals and fairs are tricky because you have to pay to participate. That means, you need to know if you're gonna have the budget. Even though I'm with a traditional publisher, I doubt very seriously they're gonna pay because I'm not a money-maker yet. But the point of this exercise is finding what you can and listing them on a schedule so that if your budget does allow you to attend in a particular timeframe, you will already have the information compiled if your schedule and budget should allow.

How am I going to go about compiling my list? By leaning on an author's best friend--Google. I will Google "book fair", "book festival", "author pavilion", "book fest" along with my geographic area and see what I come up with. I'll list out fees, application deadlines, and website addresses so I can go back and find the information later. Some time down the road, I'll list the ones I can potentially attend on my website schedule.

Be selective and don't try to book everything because you need to leave room for bookstore signings on your schedule too. This activity shouldn't take too long--maybe an hour or so. Best thing is, you only need to do it once a year if you do a thorough job the first time. And if you retain the information from year to year, then you only need to update it with new events as they are available. This is a good time of year to compile the list because the festival schedules usually start in February and run through November.

So, what are you waiting for? Let's get to it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Bum Magnet - Goodreads Book Giveaway


If you're interested in entering to win a free copy of THE BUM MAGNET, check out my giveaway @ Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bum Magnet (Mass Market Paperback) by K.L. Brady

The Bum Magnet

by K.L. Brady

Giveaway ends March 29, 2011.

See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Implementing Your Marketing Plan!

Hey Peops! I've been out of pocket writing the sequel to my novel and a YA novel. Now that I'm wrapping up work on both I can get back to blogging more regularly.

Whether you're an indie author or affiliated with an indie or big six publisher, one thing all we authors will have to do is market our books in some way or another. Even though my book has been picked up by a big six publisher, I don't have intention of reducing the level of marketing I engage in with the re-release of my novel. As a matter of fact, I really need to do equal or better because now my sales really count. The sales figures can impact my ability to get my books sold to publishers in the future. So, it's time to get on the ball.

I haven't done much marketing up to this point because it's very difficult to really market without a book cover, and I didn't get my book cover until yesterday. With THE BUM MAGNET release scheduled for March 29, 2011, time's ticking away and I've got a lot to do--from scheduling book signings, to setting up blog tours, to finding reviewers among bloggers and book clubs.

So, every day starting tomorrow until the release of my book in March 2011, I'll be engaging in one or two marketing activities per day and I'll be sharing them with you to give you ideas about how to go about conducting your own marketing. Now, I'm not going to give you very specific details because the key is for you to take the general idea, conduct your own research, and then do the marketing activity yourself. But hopefully, I can give you some direction and help you get your plan rolling.

Activity #1.

My first goal for tomorrow is to do some research to identify blogs that read and review books like mine. I'll make a list of those blogs and email them to ask if they will review my book, and/or host me on a tour, and/or allow me to post an author interview. As long as they agree to post some information (any information) about me as an author or my book, it will go a long way to getting the viral marketing started.

So where am I going to look for blogs? One of my favorite sources is You go there, put in some search terms, and then find blogs that deal with subject matter similar to your book. It also allows you to see the blog rankings to identify which ones are considered more of an authority than others.

So, hop to it people! Let's find some blogs. If you're successful, please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest Post: Debbi Mack's 20 Questions Blog Tour

Please welcome my very first guest author, Debbi Mack. Indie Publishing on the Cheap is today's stop on her blog tour. (If anyone else is interested, please email me. I'd be happy to host you as I finish up my works in progress.)

Debbi Mack's 20 Questions Blog Tour

Question 8: Where do you get your ideas?

Thank you, Karla, for hosting me on your blog, Cheap Indie Author. It's a pleasure to be hosted by someone who's made such a success by taking the indie route.

As to your question, it's a perennial favorite. It's that question that writers so often dread answering. It's one that authors tend to poke fun at. However, I will try to field it as best I can.

The simple answer is, ideas can come from just about anywhere. Ideas seem to crawl out of the woodwork like bugs.

Wow, that was quite the icky analogy. Let's try this instead. Ideas are caused when you see a situation and inspiration jolts your brain like electricity.

So often, an idea is based on a "what if" scenario. I'll be reading the paper (or a magazine or just about anything) and I'll think "what if this happened to someone and it led to murderous impulses?"

As a crime fiction writer, I seem capable of finding the potential for murder in almost any scenario.

If it sounds a bit scary, well, it's just my imagination. It's not real. (Is it? LOL)

Another aspect of getting ideas for stories is being able to spot the potential for conflict in a situation. Because conflict is the essence of good storytelling.

Who wants to read about a perfectly happy person going about an ordinary day in which nothing untoward happens? I'll tell you who. Nobody.

So, coming up with ideas means finding the conflict in situations. Along with being able to string out a plot that will support a whole novel.

This means that simply getting an idea isn't enough. What makes the idea work is not so much the idea as the execution. You see, they say that all the ideas have been "done" at this point. Perhaps it's true. But it's not just ideas that make a good story, it's also execution of the plot. And this is where all the hard work comes in.

Coming up with ideas is no great trick. Following through and creating a great story based upon them is the hard part.

At this point, I have SO many ideas for stories. They're all sitting patiently in my brain, like planes on a runway waiting for takeoff. I don't even know if I can possibly get to them all, given the time I put toward marketing and promoting, in addition to writing books (not to mention short stories, screenplays and whatever else I choose to work on).

So, when people ask me, "Where do you get your ideas?" my impulse is to say, "Where don't I get them?"

* * * * *

Thanks for reading, everyone! Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address if you'd like to enter the drawing for the 10 autographed copies of IDENTITY CRISIS I'm giving away. (One entry per person, but comment as often as you like.)

The drawing will be held on my blog My Life on the Mid-List after the tour is finished. Check my blog for the entire tour schedule.

And please join me at my next stop tomorrow: Weblog of Zoe Winters

* * * * *

Debbi Mack is the author of IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery and the first in a series featuring lawyer Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae. She's also a short story writer whose ebook anthology, FIVE UNEASY PIECES, includes the Derringer-nominated "The Right to Remain Silent," originally published in The Back Alley Webzine. Debbi's work has also appeared in two of the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES anthologies.

Be on the lookout for her next Sam McRae novel, LEAST WANTED, which will be published soon (in print and ebook versions).

Debbi practiced law for nine years before becoming a freelance writer/researcher and fiction author. She's also worked as a news wire reporter covering the legal beat in Washington, D.C. and as a reference librarian at the Federal Trade Commission. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three cats.

You can find out more about Debbi on her Web site and her blog My Life on the Mid-List. Her books are available on Amazon,,, Smashwords and other sites around the Web, and by order at stores. You can also buy autographed copies of her novel from her Web site at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Self Publishing Expo

This is from the peops at I actually had planned to attend this last year but my schedule and budget didn't allow. They are featuring a manuscript critique which I think is great for self published authors. The cost is $125 to attend the seminars and panels, and $350 if you want go as an exhibitor and sell your books. It looks like they've got some great sponsors this year, and with shift in attitudes about self-publishing, I'd be surprised if there weren't an editor or agent or two attending to find some new talent. Might be worth a trip!

Self-Publishing Book Expo Will Feature On-Site Manuscript Critique
By Maryann Yin on Sep 16, 2010 08:23 AM

The Self-Publishing Expo will take place on October 2nd in New York City. The Expo will feature a random drawing, awarding one lucky reader a free self-publishing package from CreateSpace worth $1,798.

Scheduled panels include "Do I Need an Agent?", "Working with Your Local Bookstore", and "Design & Illustration, How Your Cover Can Sell Covers." Industry speakers who will participate include Andy Carpenter (Principle ACD & Co.), Jeff Reich (The Writer Magazine) and Liz Perl (Simon & Schuster).

Besides a packed schedule of panels and speakers, attendees can look forward to "a special one-on-one editorial manuscript evaluation. Participants are asked to submit a 1-2 page synopsis and a 5-page sample in advance of the show. Each submission will be evaluated by a member of the Consulting Editors Alliance and each participant will get a one-on-one feedback session at the Expo."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Self Publishing is...IN?

A lot has changed in the year since I self published my debut novel, The Bum Magnet in October 2009. And I do mean a lot. When I first considered putting my book out myself, just after the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Contest had dashed my hopes for an “easy” road to a publishing contract, self published authors were still the scourge of the publishing world. You could hardly speak the word “self-publish” without watching someone’s face curl in disgust. Why in the world could you possibly want to put your book out there yourself when there’s all these publishing houses and big advances to be had in the traditional route? Or…if you can’t find a traditional house, then your work must really suck, so why would you want to embarrass yourself. Or…self published authors, on average, only sell 50-100 books (a few more if you have a larger social network), so why waste your time?

As a matter of fact, the only segments of the publishing industry who didn’t shun self published authors were the authors themselves or the range author support business who wanted to exploit them for the thousands of dollars many were willing to invest to get their masterpieces in book form.

My, my, my how times change. One year later and now even reputable major news papers like the New York Times are touting self publishing as a viable option. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself here, here, here, and here. It’s amazing to me how quickly perceptions about self publishing are shifting. Amazing. As more authors come into the fray and find success, industry perceptions shift. Self publishing isn’t a dirty word anymore. As a matter of fact, some authors like J.A. Konrath are making a good living from his titles listed on Amazon’s Kindle book store.

In a time not too long ago, literary agents and industry experts would tell authors that if they self-publish their book, they would NEVER be considered by traditional publishers. Such advice was prevalent…all the way up until traditional publishers started plucking authors from the ranks of the self published, like Lisa Genova, Boyd Morrison Zane, Mary B. Morrison, E. Lynn Harris, and the list goes on and on, giving them advances and turning some into instant best sellers. I know of several deals in the last year where self published authors with Kindle e-book best sellers were offered book deals by big six publishers. Now? Publishers, like Louise Burke at my own pocket books, say that they trawl the Internet looking for self published books that are generating great buzz and reviews so they can snap them up. It’s a win-win situation for them so why not? Self published authors are coming to houses big and small with market-tested material, minimizing the financial gamble that publishers have to take, particularly in today’s sluggish economic climate. As time goes on, I believe self publishing could become the new slush pile.

What’s more? Publishers Weekly, which used to fall in stark opposition to self published authors within industry debates, has recently changed its tune. Not only do they say self publishing is “getting respect,” they are launching a service geared toward self published authors, including a supplement to their magazine that features self published works and a slim chance at getting a their book reviewed…for a “small” fee of course. While many argue that their service should be free to authors, the point is that even PW had to face the hard truth—self publishing not only isn’t going away, it is growing and becoming more legitimate in the eyes of the general public everyday.

So, what’s my point you ask?

My point is simply this…if the so-called stigma of self publishing is one of the reasons (excuses) you’ve used not to put your book out there yourself, scratch that one off the list. If cost is an issue, you’re on the cheap indie author’s blog—use the vast information I’ve provided to help you publish on the cheap. Don’t let your work collect dust in a drawer. Dig it out, polish it up, and publish it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An Old Funny - Dating in DC

Okay, I'm trying to design a new, slightly more fancy website so I'm going through my old one to see what I will carry over. As I explore some links to old interviews and stuff to see if they still work, I came across this blog that I wrote last year just after I released my book. I thought since I have a blog that people actually read every now and again, I'd share this with you. I hope you enjoy. It gave me a chuckle (sometimes I don't know where I come up with this stuff. lol)

A Maryland Chick-lit Writer’s Inspiration by K.L. Brady, Author of The Bum Magnet

by Serena on November 25, 2009

Michelle at GalleySmith started this great blog craze about highlighting local authors on The Literary Road Trip. I’ve been a bit lax in participating, but I do have some of these great local authors lined up with guest posts and interviews. I’ve just been slow to post them.

K.L. Brady, author of The Bum Magnet and a local Maryland author; you can check out a list of her appearances or read her latest blog posts. Today, she’s here to share her inspiration, with some local flare. Give her a warm welcome.

As a “chick lit” author—which by my definition means I write about female characters and their relationships using heavy doses of humor—my experiences while residing in Maryland and D.C. have certainly inspired my writing. I lived here during my childhood and for most of my adult life. From Hillcrest Heights in Southeast D.C. to Forestville, Fort Washington, and Cheltenham, Maryland (which is Upper Marlboro with higher real estate taxes). I’ve seen this area through the 1970s gas crunch, a major hurricane, mayoral sting operations, planet-sized potholes, two recessions, political turmoil, a terrorist attack, and the first African-American president. And through it all, one thing has remained constant: women still outnumber men. This condition makes for a, shall we say, “unique” dating experience for the women in the area and provides me with more writing material than I can feasibly use in one lifetime.

If we want to be modern women, we eventually have to adapt to the new times–but I refuse. Unfortunately, I’m a child of D.C’s 60s and still have old-school leanings when it comes to love and dating. I believe men are supposed to call first – and no, a text message that reads “whatchu doin 2nite?” does not constitute invitation. I believe men should ask you “out” on real dates. “Out” means not “in” the house – microwave popcorn and a DVD do not a date make. And no, dinner does not guarantee that you will get “dessert.” When women like me stay committed to our rules, the selection of women is so plentiful that men can quickly and easily move on to the next target, many of whom don’t impose any rules. So, for men in the Maryland-DC area, dating is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. For women, it’s more like a rice cake—dry and unsatisfying.

People often ask me where my sense of humor comes from and why I incorporate so much into my writing. The answer is simple: I laugh to keep from crying. When you haven’t had a decent date since Jesus was a carpenter, you have to laugh to keep from crying. When you’ve reached level of financial success such that your blip on a man’s dating radar reads “sugar mama,” you have to laugh to keep from crying. When your heart’s been stepped on so many times that it can double as a Dance Dance Revolution Mat, you have to laugh to keep from crying. Some might consider such a dating life depressing, sad, or lonely. For me, it’s entertaining and replete with writing material. Without experiencing another relationship, I could write for eternity based on the life I’ve lived until today. And I view that as an enormous blessing–because if I write a hundred books one of them is bound to be a bestseller.

Ahhh, but fret not single ladies in the metropolitan area, there is a small glimmer of hope at the end of the grim, dark tunnel of DC dating. It’s called “relocation.” However, until your big moving day comes, stick to your rules, persevere…and laugh through your tears.

Thanks again K.L. Brady for a great guest post. If you have enjoyed this guest post, stay tuned for my review of The Bum Magnet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm On the Other Side

Okay... so today I had my first in depth discussion with my editor, so it was really my first chance to get a taste of life on the traditional publishing side. I thought I'd share some of the experience with you.

So, the first thing we talked about was the cover. As a self-publisher you get full control of your cover design. I actually consider that a perk. Right now, I sit here on pins and needles waiting anxiously to see Simon & Schuster's concept of the cover. She kind of eased me into the idea that it's a "romance"- like cover. When you say "romance cover" to me, I picture a half naked woman draped in some kind of scarfy thing, wind-blown hair, and some muscular mandingo type hovering nearby. I don't know if that's what my cover will actually look like, but whatever the outcome, it HAS to be better than what my imagination has conjured up.

Next, she asked me if I had a list of people that I wanted to send the book up. I was like, hold up. Wait! I don't have to send the books out myself? I thought those might come from my author copies. Au contraire mon frere-ette. I will have a publicist that will be assigned to the book who will handle publicity. More than that. They will send out review copies on my behalf and print up galleys. That's a whole lot of different from self-publishing where I would bear the cost of all that stuff myself. And the publicist will actually set up a blog tour near publication time. I had to do that myself as a self-publisher (and I don't think I did it as well as it could've been done).

Soon I will get a log-on for the Simon and Schuster website so that I can set up a webpage on their site...more great PR. They also allow you to use their studios to produce a video which I hope to do as well. It would cost me a pretty penny to do that professionally and the service through the publisher is free to authors (and will ensure I have yet another great reason to roll up to New York!).

The best part about all of this is that it's happening while I'm diligently working on my next novel. Definitely wouldn't have happened as a self-publisher.

So...we'll see how things go on the cover front.

Stay tuned for my next report from the other side where I will discuss...the cover!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Finding Your Voice

When I was in that frustrated stage of publishing where I was getting rejections from literary agents and deciding whether to self-publish, one realization hit me which really led me to put my book out myself.

I had a voice.

Now, don’t ask me to define exactly what that is because I can’t tell you. But with every rejection I got, all the agents kept telling me that I had great voice and the word “voice” connected with me because I’d heard it before…about 20 years ago.

For those writers who think you must have formal English training, an MFA or the like, to write novels. Let me tell you that I don’t. I’ve written in journals all my life, was pretty much a straight-A student nerd, and did pretty well in English classes throughout school. But one day changed my perspective on my writing.

My English 101 professor, Francis O’Leary (of Irish descent and knew more about African American literature than anyone I’ve met to date—I’ll never forget him) gave the class an assignment. The details are foggy but we had a list of short stories and we were supposed to select two of the stories and do a contrast and comparison—3 pages long. I looked at the list and was completely lost. On the surface, those stories couldn’t have less in common than a chicken and a yo-yo. I mean nothing. We had two days to get the assignment done and I stewed for two days and couldn’t think of a single angle. Talk about frustrated.

Finally, about 2 hours before class on the day I was supposed to turn the assignment in an idea just hit me. I remember selecting The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe. In each story, the protagonist kind of took a morbid laissez faire attitude about other people’s pain…until the pain became their own. Anyway, so I start writing this 3-page piece of fluff crap, pulling words completely out of my butt, talking about some saying that my grandma said, knowing darn well she’d never said it, and just pulling ideas out of thin air…or so it seemed to me at the time. The words flowed like the River Jordan. I couldn’t stop them until I got to 2 and a half pages (not 3 pages as assigned) and then it ended. When there was nothing left to say, I just couldn’t write anymore. No matter how hard I tried to fill in that last half page.

The whole comparison was entertaining but filled with crap that I’d made up. I didn’t care. It was done and I was going to turn the stupid thing in no matter what the consequences were. For some reason, I was most scared because I didn’t write the entire three pages, just 2 and a half. Hand shaking, I passed the last minute job to Professor O’Leary and I prayed and sweated and hoped that I would just pass the dang assignment. I just didn’t want an “F.”

The next day we were in the middle of an in-class writing assignment and Professor O’Leary calls me to the front of the class. I thought, “Oh hell, he’s gonna let me have it in front of everyone.” My stomach dropped through the floor and I was trembling. Keep in mind that as a nerd, grades were my life…especially A’s. So, I get to the front of the class and he pulls out my paper. At the top of it, an enormous “A” circled in red ink. He hands it to me and whispers, “I’d like to read this in front of the class tomorrow if you don’t mind. This was excellent. You have a great voice! Keep writing!”


What the hell’s “voice”?

I didn’t know, but I agreed to let him read it. A shy writer (to this day), I showed up 20 minutes late just so I wouldn’t have to suffer through him reading my work to the whole class. I walked in just in time for the light applause.

When I thought about my process later on, I remembered the place I was in, where the words just flowed. I heard voices speak to me and I transcribed. I was a vessel for some imaginary person in my head that had something to say, and I wrote the words the way they told me to write them.

To this day, that’s where my words and my characters come from. That place where the characters speak and I listen and then write.

There is where I found my voice, that ingredient in writing that makes your characters come alive. And they refused to let me put their words in one of my journals. They wanted a book and they wanted it published. And wouldn’t let me stop until I did.

I self-published…and the rest as they say is history.

So fellow writers, when you’re wondering why you’re doing what you persist in this writing “thing,” remember those voices and let their stories be heard.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Question From a Follower

Hello Everyone,

I know I've been out of pocket quite a bit lately but I'm busy writing. I've finished a YA novel which I think has some great potential. I also have begun the sequel to The Bum Magnet which is really shaping up to be a lot of fun to write.

Not much has been going on in terms of the book deal. The contract has been signed and I'm waiting...waiting...waiting for the next stage. Based on the contract, I don't think anything will really get in gear until late August, early September. I will share as much about the process as I can.

I have a question from a follower that I'd like to address for all involved. Although I've covered similar material earlier in the blog, I think this is an issue that bears repeating again and again.

Great information. My first book was published in 2001 by a company that's no longer in business. My second will be ready for printing within a couple of weeks. I'm looking at both Lightning and CreateSpace but have also had Balboa Press recommended, an arm of Hay House. Do you have any thoughts on them? Thanks!Judith

I checked out the Balboa Press website and their packages and what I can say is that I would not use them, nor would I encourage anyone who asks for my advice to use their services. The cheapest package is $999 and if you've read anything about my blog, you know that you can use Createspace and Lightning Source to produce your book for a whole lot cheaper if you're willing to do some of the grunt work yourself. Some of the package prices are downright predatory as far as I'm concerned.

What their CHEAPEST package offers, you can do for yourself, through Createspace and Lightning Source for less than $500-- and really it's less than that. It can probably be done for about $300-$350.

Two things they don't mention on the site are "Returnability" (whether they accept returns) and "Wholesale" discount, how much of a discount they offer. If they don't offer returnability or at least a 40% wholesale discount (really needs to be 50-55%), then your book won't likely get into major retailers. Plus, what are your printing costs? They say they offer a discount for author copies but they don't say how much that discount is.

My advice is to just say no! Do it yourself. It will take a little more work on your part on the front end, but you'll save money on the backend AND you'll put your book in a position to get out to retailers. I can almost promise you it will be very difficult though Balboa press and the like. If you look at the past blogs, you will see many of the reasons I state for maintaining maximum control of your book, ensuring returnability, and having the ability to set your own wholesale rate. These are key issues to self publishing profitably and cheaply.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

For Writers: What to Read and Where to Go...

Here are two articles I found very useful. I hope you do too.

I have 8 books from this list...and counting.

75 Books Every Writer Should Read
January 7th, 2010
Whether you want to make writing your career or just want to know how to improve your writing so that you can pass your college courses, there is plenty of reading material out there to help you get inspired and hone your skills. Here’s a collection of titles that will instruct you on just about every aspect of writing, from the basics of grammar to marketing your completed novel, with some incredibly helpful tips from well-known writers themselves as well.
Writing Basics
These books address things like structure, plot, descriptions and other basic elements of any story.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers: You can improve the quality of your writing by adding a mythical quality to them with advice and insight from this book.
Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler: Whether you agree with the ideas in this book or not, you’ll find it a useful and informative read for writing.
Word Painting: A Guide to Write More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan: Get some pointers that will help you make your settings and characters come alive from this book.
Simple & Direct by Jacques Barzun: Barzun says that his purpose in writing this book was to "resensitize the mind to words" and he does this through a variety of helpful lessons on grammar, word usage and writing that are sure to make your writing better, or at least more thoughtful.
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell: This book will help you create plots that will draw readers in and make your work more powerful.
Elements of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card: Check out this engaging book for a little guidance on creating more believable and fully developed characters.
Between the Lines by Jessica Morrell: In this book you’ll learn how to craft a cohesive and layered story through the use of suspense, transitions and more.
Advice from Authors
Who better to give advice on writing than those who have made a name for themselves doing it? These books offer some insights on the craft from those who know it best.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King: This is widely regarded as one of the best books for any aspiring author to read. Why? King’s book divides it’s time between being an instructional manual for writers and a richly engaging memoir that serves as a great example of how to write and write well.
Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa: Readers will not find a true instructional manual on writing in this book, but instead a thoughtful exploration on the the way writing itself works and how it can change or enrich a life.
Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You by Ray Bradbury: Many are familiar with sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. In this book of essays he gives his thoughts on the literary and commercial aspects of writing as well as providing motivation for the aspiring writer out there.
Ron Carlson Writes a Story by Ron Carlson: Ron Carlson is often called the "master of the short story," and in this book he shares his process for creating one of these short masterpieces.
The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates: Containing twelve essays and an interview, this book delves into the deeper issues of writing, like inspiration, faith, and failure.
On Being a Writer by Bill Strickland: This book is a collection of thirty-one interviews from Writer’s Digest exploring the work and process of literary greats like Hemingway and Faulkner.
The Best Writing on Writing by Jack Heffron: Check out this multi-volume series to hear advice, recollections and stories from authors both famous and more obscure.
On Writers and Writing by John Gardner: In his time, Gardner was considered one of the best teachers of writing. In this book you’ll be able to read some of his best essays and reviews.
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery by Jeanette Winterson: This collection of essays touches on everything from how to look at a painting to how to keep personal and professional lives separate.
Everything I Know About Writing by John Marsden: Writer John Marsden shares his experience and expertise on writing in this book.
Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft by David Morrell: Morrell wrote the book that inspired the film Rambo, but he is just as well-versed in classic lit as popular fiction. In this book he’ll explain how to navigate some of the basic elements of writing a great book.
The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers by Vendela Vida: This book is a collection of conversations between writers and their mentors, offering insights into their processes and a whole lot more.
How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovitch: Get a behind-the-scenes look at how this author constructs her novels about the intrepid bounty hunter Stephanie Plum in this book.
Improving Your Writing
Use the information in these books to hone your writing skills.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg: This easy-to-read book will offer you some tips on writing as well as often entertaining comparisons and insights on the craft.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott: Check out this instructional book to get help creating your work from the first drafts to the final publication.
The 10% Solution by Ken Rand: This book helps guide writers through many of the areas of writing that cause them trouble and keep them frustrated.
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Ned Stuckey-French: Burroway’s book is one of the most widely read and respected books on writing fiction, and in it writers will find tips on everything from creativity to tone.
The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell: There are few things more helpful to improving writing than good editing, and this book is full of tips to help you tackle scaling back and refining your own work.
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine: Are your stories lacking that certain something? Get some tips on finding the missing ingredient from this book.
Edit Yourself : A Manual for Everyone Who Works With Words by Bruce Clifford Ross-Larson: No matter what kind of writing you do, you’ll find tips on trimming the fat in this book.
Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers: This basic guide will help you improve all aspects of your writing with lessons writers at any level can use.
The Classic Guide to Better Writing: Step-by-Step Techniques and Exercises to Write Simply, Clearly and Correctly by Rudolf Franz Flesch: This guidebook will help you work on organization, grammar, spelling, voice and more.
Whether you struggle with grammar or just want to learn to master it better, these books are great reads and reference tools.
Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’ Conner: O’ Conner is an editor at the New York Times Book Review and gives a witty and fun take on the often boring subject of grammar in this book.
A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman: If you struggle to know when to use a semicolon or a colon, this book can help you conquer any form of punctuation.
Punctuation for Writers: A Thorough Primer For Writers Of Fiction And Essays by Harvey Stanbrough: Make sure your work is free from any major punctuation errors by referencing and reading this text.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss: Where you choose to place a comma can make a big difference in the meaning of a phrase, as this fun grammar and punctuation manual will show.
Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman: This book will help you resolve some of the most common issues with grammar, spelling and punctuation.
The Grouchy Grammarian: A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better by Thomas Parrish: If you stink at using grammar correctly, then you’re not alone. This book shows you how to avoid making these common mistakes so you can sound smarter and write better.
The Pen Commandments by Steven Frank: This book will make learning the rules of the English language fun, interesting and maybe even funny.
Reference Books
Keep these books on hand to ensure your writing is mastering the basics like spelling, formatting, word use and more.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B.White: This book is a must-have for anyone who writes, as it has been the standard model for proper English style for decades.
Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John Trimble: Here you’ll find many of the same writing tips contained in The Elements of Style but in a more accessible and lively format.
Writing Fiction: A Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School by Brett Norris: This guide will help you go from idea to finished product with lessons that writers at any stage can employ.
How Not To Say What You Mean: A Dictionary of Euphemisms by R. W. Holder: Whether you’re trying to dodge using less attractive terms or just want to get creative with the English language, this book can help.
1000 Most Important Words by Norman W. Schur: Improve your vocabulary with this collection of great words and intriguing dictionary definitions.
Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the 20th Century by Rosemarie Ostler: Those who like to set their stories in times past can get a quick reference for older slang and now defunct English words in this book.
The Writer’s Art by James J. Kilpatrick: Check out this book for some pretty essential tips on using the English language wisely.
Writing as a Career
If you’re looking to make a career out of writing, these books can be a big help in getting you there.
Telling Lies for Fun & Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers by Lawrence Block: This book offers plenty of advice for those who want to write better and get their work published.
Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See: Read this book to learn how to look at writing not only as a job, but as a lifestyle.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass: Get some advice from this literary agent on how to create a novel that will help you stand out from the crowd.
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner: Learn what editors are looking for when it comes to actually getting your work read and possibly even published from this book.
The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman: Thousands of novels are submitted to publishers each year, but the vast majority of these will not be published. Learn how you can tweak your writing to give it a fighting chance in this book from literary agent Noah Lukeman.
The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass: Learn what makes published authors’ stories so "hot" and what you may be doing that’s making yours, well, not.
Dare to be a Great Writer: 329 Keys to Powerful Fiction by Leonard Bishop: This book will teach you to write fiction that’s not just good but also sellable.
Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks: Check out this book from author Terry Brooks to get insight into the publishing industry and the process of writing.
The Marshall Plan Workbook: Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish by Evan Marshall: If you need a little push to get yourself into the swing of writing your novel, then this workbook could be a great motivational tool.
How To Grow A Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them by Sol Stein: This book will guide you through the process and the necessary elements of creating an engaging novel.
How To Be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis: If you’re not quite ready to make the commitment to a literary agent, you can still ensure you don’t get swindled by reading this book.
The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman: Those hoping to work as freelancers can get advice on finding work and making freelancing a steady paying gig in this book.
Genre or Format Specific
These books focus on particular genres like science fiction or mystery or specific types of writing like poetry and nonfiction.
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card: This Hugo Award winning book will guide you through the ins and outs of creating compelling and believable sci-fi stories.
Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America by Jan Burke: If mysteries are more your thing, you can learn how to construct plots, characters and build suspense in this book.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William K. Zinsser: Those who prefer writing and reading non-fiction will find a wealth of helpful information in this guidebook.
The Poet and the Poem by Judson Jerome: This book will teach you the basics of poetry from diction to verse forms.
The Language of Life by Bill Moyers: This book offers a series of discussions with thirty-four American poets, offering inspiration and insight into what makes poetry great.
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Philip Lopate: This book contains seventy-five personal essays from an incredibly diverse spectrum of writers. It can be a great way to learn about the changes in the medium and how to develop your own essay style.
These classic books on writing, writers and creativity will get you inspired to write more.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: Published posthumously, this book details the time Hemingway spent in Paris along with other literary greats, like Fitzgerald, as well as insights into the psyche of the artist himself.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: This fictional account of the life of Joyce is not only a good read but an interesting insight into the events that shaped the life of one of the world’s most acclaimed authors.
Poetics by Aristotle: This ancient Greek text is all about constructing the perfect tragic drama, but offers invaluable insights into the essentials of any genre of writing.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau: Check out this book to learn what it means to disconnect from society and focus on nature. Thoreau’s lessons on simplicity can be applied to the art of writing as well, where less can often say more.
Creativity and Motivation
Get some tips and advice on finding your creative spark and getting motivated to finally write your own book, essay, or short story.
The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron: If you’re struggling with writer’s block, give this inspirational and educational book a read to get some ideas on how to move forward.
Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process by Peter Elbow: No matter how you like to write, this book contains a guide to help you get motivated and move through the process from beginning to end.
How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael Gelb: The aim of this book is to help you reach into your brain and find untapped reserves of intelligence, creativity and ability so you can unlock your own inner genius.
The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life by Robert Yehling: In this book you’ll find writing exercises, motivational quotes and loads of resources to help you get writing.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield: Novelist Steven Pressfield offers his advice to help writers (or other creative types) break through their creative barriers and get inspired.
Keeping a Journal You Love by Sheila Bender: In this book you’ll find journal entries from 15 poets and writers as well as their own explanations of these entries. Aspiring writers can use the book as a guide to creating a useful and productive journal of their own.
The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron: The essays contained in this book detail the drive to create and the many tasks of everyday life that often stand in the way as well as pointers on getting yourself to work in spite of them.
Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg: Each of the writing lessons in this manual are a page long, offering you numerous but succinct opportunities to kick your writing up a notch.
Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process by Naomi Epel: Read this book to hear well-known authors talk about the role dreams play in their work and how they inspire their creativity.
Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice by Laraine Herring: Learn how to connect with your inner voice and become a more fully-realized creative person through the lessons in this book.


The Top 25 Book Fairs and Book Festivals Authors Should Attend

Are book fairs an effective way to promote books? As a book publicist and book marketing specialist, I am the first to impress on authors the new and powerful marketing avenues open to all authors on the Internet - from book websites to book trailers to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. While these are fantastic tools when used properly, authors should never overlook opportunities to meet the reading public face-to-face where they can easily be found - at book fairs, book festivals, trade shows, book conferences and conventions.
Any book event, regardless of size and name recognition, is worth attending by an author who is serious about promoting their book. This requires personal effort and time by the author in person. People don't want to meet the author's assistant or friend; no they want to talk to the author.
Book fairs provide an excellent chance to learn more about the publishing industry, about booksellers, publishers, distributors and marketers. The attending author will also learn a great deal about what readers want and how to reach readers. And while acquiring a vast amount of knowledge about the book industry, the author can also take advantage of the chance to expose their book and name to a new audience - leaders in the book industry who are interested in meeting new authors. While you may not walk away with a book deal you'll make yourself known to the movers and shakers and that has long-lasting benefits. Remember, word of mouth is one of the strongest promotional tools available and authors need to be where the mouths are - the mouths of book publishers, distributors, promoters, agents and readers - at book fairs, conventions and conferences.
Book fairs provide an excellent opportunity to encounter media reps in search of a story. Producers of TV and radio programs, editors of newspapers, magazines, book reviewers and online media outlets attend these events in search of stories that otherwise would be under their radar. Never, never pass up on the opportunity to meet the media. Keep an eye out for small I-phone sized video cameras too as they shoot broadcast quality footage in natural light. If you see somebody using one, invite them over and give them a pitch. They could be shooting for C-SPAN, CNN, a book review blog or the local cable show; you won't know unless you ask.
The major book conferences and conventions involve travel expenses such as airlines and hotel lodging, and a week's investment of your time. But book fairs can be found close to home, easily accessed by car and often are only one or two days. A typical regional book fair will have 1,000 or more attendees and 100 or more exhibitors, providing a realistic exposure of 300 visitors a day. Why would an author not want to spend a Saturday and a Sunday within 100 miles of home to meet 600 readers or a reporter, editor or book reviewer?
At a book fair, just as at a book signing event, the author will want to bring promotional literature to pass out. Passing out promotional bookmarks or book covers is a great way to generate future sales for months and months after the book fair ends. The give-away should contain the author's contact information, the book's name, the front cover artwork, author's website address, and where the book can be purchased online.
I also remind my author clients that book fairs often need speakers. By volunteering to speak, the author not only gains great exposure but can also add that appearance to their resume and press releases. But plan ahead; dates for panel participants, speakers and autograph sessions are arranged months in advance.
Book fairs are often attended by best-selling authors who will be willing to spend time with you sharing tips on writing, on how to be successful, and advice on where to find the help you need.
In summary, book fairs are wonderful places to interact with fellow authors, publishers, network with book industry leaders, locate the help you need such as a publicist or book editor, and learn what's new in the marketplace.
Here is a list of 25 book fairs and events that are worthy of your attendance (courtesy of Noel Griese, Editor of Southern Review of Books,
1. Litquake, San Francisco's Literary Festival
2. Frankfurt Book Fair, biggest book show in the world, October 6-10, 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany
3. Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge,
4. Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a big festival attracting 150,000 readers, April 24-25, 2010
5. BookExpo America, May 25-27, 2010, Jacob Javits Center, NYC, the premier North American publishing event of the year
6. Ann Arbor Book Festival, Ann Arbor MI
7. National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress on the Mall in Washington, DC,
8. Self-Publishing Book Expo,
9. Miami Book Fair International, draws hundreds of thousands of people, conducted by the Congress of Writers
10. Vegas Valley Book Festival, Las Vegas
11. London Book Fair, April 19-21, 2010, global marketplace for sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels
12. American Library Association Annual Conference, June 24-29, 2010, Washington, DC, some 2,000 seminars and events plus a huge trade show
13. International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) Considered the best show for Christian authors according to Sara Bolme author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace
14. CAMEX/National Association of College Stores, attracts more than 7,000 people, including booksellers from more than 1,000 stores
15. Philadelphia Book Festival, attended by 35,000 and more than 50 authors, performers. Third weekend in April 2010
16. Printers Row Book Fair, a large book fair attended by more than 100,000 book lovers in 2009
17. Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word, Nashville, TN, attracts more than 200 authors from throughout the U.S. Second full weekend in October, 2010
18. Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort Convention Center, attended by up to 5,000 people including 150 authors
19. Texas Book Fair, established in 1995 by First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, more than 45,000 attend
20. Delaware Book Fair & Authors Day
21. Baltimore Book Festival, attracts more than 100 authors, Sept. 24-26, 2010
22. Book Island Festival, Feb. 12-13, 2010
23. Harlem Book Festival, May 6-9, 2010, Bermuda
24. Spring Book Show, more than 50,000 book titles offered by vendors, Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA, March 26-28, 2010
25. South Carolina Book Festival, Feb. 26-28, 2010, Metropolitan Convention Center, Columbia, SC, more than 6000 attend 3-day festival
The bottom line: Make it a point to include book fairs into your book marketing campaign, you'll be glad you did!
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that specializes in book marketing and author publicity. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few. To discuss how Westwind Communications helps authors get all the publicity they deserve and more call 734-667-2090. For more information visit
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