Sunday, October 21, 2012

On Heroes


When writing my stories for High School Heroes, I delved deeply into the world of heroes. But what is a hero, what do they do that makes them who they are? Why are we drawn to heroes?

And most importantly of all, how do we, as writers, create a hero that is believable?

I think back to the ancient heroes when I think of a hero. There is Beowulf, Odysseus, Achilles, Jason, King Arthur, among others. If you look at many of these heroes, they are perfect in every way except for having a tragic flaw. Beowulf had his pride, while Achilles had his rage. These things lead to their downfall.

This same concept can be applied to more modern day heroes as well. Superman has his Kryptonite, Hulk has in uncontrollable rage, etc. But are these the things that make them heroic?


A hero is defined by their actions. A hero must do what is necessary in any situation. The hero must help someone or right the wrongs of someone or help topple an evil-someone to be the hero they must be.

The problem is, when writing a hero, many writers make them too perfect. After all, the hero needs to be a likable character, doesn't he or she? So, we shouldn't have them do anything unlikable, should we? The answer to this question is a resounding NO!

Like the heroes of old, our heroes we write should have some kind of flaw. Our heroes we write need to make mistakes. Our heroes need to be... HUMAN. No one wants to read about a hero that is too perfect. It is too unreal and frankly boring. A hero needs to grow. A hero needs to have real world problems just like the rest of us.

For Christine, the main character in High School Heroes, one of her biggest problems is dealing with the fact that she is a social outcast. It makes her more relatable than if I just made her go in and save the day. Through the story she makes friends, and loses them, all the while struggling with the question of whether she should use her newfound powers for herself or for others.

That is a hero.

So, if you're just starting out a story, or even if you're well within writing it. I suggest doing an outline, but not of the story, an outline of your hero. Talk about what makes them great, but give them an inner conflict - something that makes them worth reading about. You need to make your hero something that someone wants to succeed despite their flaws.

Just remember, as you write your hero, no matter if you want him/her to be larger-than-life like the heroes of old, or you want him/her to be a simple schoolteacher or taxi-cab driver, make them great, but don't make them perfect.

Now go and write!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch can be summed up in a sentence, which is kind of funny, when you consider that's exactly what an elevator pitch is. It is a one or two sentence summary of your book that is meant to entice someone to learn more about it.

It seems like such a simple thing, and while it isn't all that complicated, it can be very easy to mess up. Either people make them too short with not enough exciting details, or they cannot think of how to condense a 300 page novel into a sentence and make the pitch too long.

The attention span of most adults is eight (8) seconds. So, you have that long (if even that) to grab their attention. Essentially, what I'm saying is that by this paragraph, if I haven't hooked you already, I'm never going to.

Conventionally, the target of the elevator pitch is usually an agent or an editor. Many writing conventions and conferences actually have special times set up for just such pitching sessions. They usually will give you a few minutes to present your work to agent or editor in hopes that they will say, "Sure, I'll take you on." But what about for those of us who are already published?

While I did many an elevator pitch before I had my novel, High School Heroes, published, I have made the pitch many, many more times since. I have actually said my elevator pitch so many times, that I have it memorized.

"High School Heroes is about a group of teenagers who desperately want to become superheroes but high school keeps getting in the way."

It's simple, to the point, and it always illicits a reaction--usually a chuckle and a comment. Now, this is the same pitch I used when I was looking for agents and publishers. This line was the first line of my query letter. This line I also use when I attend shows where I am sitting at a table and trying to get people to come over to my booth.

Depending on the show I'm at, I have seen as much as 50% of the people I say this line to actually come over to my table and pick up a book. Now, does that always turn into a sale--absolutely not. However, what my short and sweet pitch does, is entices a person to want to learn more. Now of those 50% that actually come to look at the book, somwhere between 5 and 10% buy it. While this sounds low, if you think about it, if I make the pitch 200 times, and I have 100 people actually come over to look at the book, I am going to sell between 5 and 10 of them. Generally, during a 6 hour show, I will make the pitch anywhere from 300 - 400 times. I'll allow you to do the math.

Now that I have explained the benefits of using an elevator pitch for something other than trying to get your book published, we can get into how to create one. There are a few criteria that every elevator pitch should have.

1. Keep it Short
Nothing will throw someone off more than having someone talk their ear off. Remember you have only eight (8) seconds (if that long) before someone tunes you out and moves on. Your pitch should ideally be one (1) sentence, but definitely no more than two (2). Look back at my pitch, it's only one sentence, but it captures the essence of my entire novel. Think about your novel and try to sum it up in a sentence.

2. Hook Your Audience
Just like your novel has to hook your audience on the first page (the first couple paragraphs really) you need to hook your potential editor, agent or customer with your elevator pitch. In other words, you can't just stick with your summary--it has to pop in some fashion. Again, I'll direct you back to my pitch:

"High School Heroes is about a group of teenagers who desperately want to become superheroes but high school keeps getting in the way."

That underlined part is the hook. No matter if they're 15 or 50, everyone remembers their high school days, whether good or bad. They remember how high school gets in the way of what a teenager wants to do. Like I said earlier, I usually get a chuckle when I say my pitch at shows, which is usually followed by a comment like, "Doesn't it always?" or "Yes it does." They want to find out how high school gets in the way, so the person comes over and looks at the book, which is our goal.

3. Tell The Genre
This is a tricky one, because you want to tell the genre of your novel without actually saying what it is. I could easily say, "High School Heroes is a young adult fantasy novel about..." But I don't. It isn't necessary. The simple fact that I have the words "teenagers" and "high school," tell me that this book is probably young adult, and the word "superheroes" tells me this is a fantasy. Saying that it is a young adult fantasy is adding extra words that is cutting into my few seconds of attention.

Now, what might happen is that your pitch will draw them in, and then they might ask for clarification of the genre. When this happens, I will quickly say, "It's a young adult fantasy." There's no problem there, because now the person I'm pitching to has engaged me and hasn't simply walked off, and I have a chance to continue the conversation.

On the flip-side, if I hear a pitch that talks about a "series of murders" I know that we're looking at a mystery, possibly a horror. If I hear the words, "space" or "starship" I know we're looking at a science-fiction. Think about the genre and what you can include in your pitch that will let someone know what it is.

4. Be Prepared to Talk Further
Once you have your person hooked, you need to give them something more. Usually, like above, the person will ask a question, and you need to have an answer for it. What I will normally do, is then direct the person I'm pitching to to look at something on the table--the back cover of my book, for example. The back cover has a lot more information about the book. However, if you don't have a book yet, you can always have this same description written down somewhere. While they are looking at it though, don't forget to add another little tidbit of information.

"The novel has gotten great reviews on Book Blogs and GoodReads."

Just one small thing to keep the person engaged and talking about... well, you and your book. And as always, have answers to some typical questions. For instance, the questions I always get asked is, "Who's the girl on the cover?" and "What are the kids' superpowers?" I can answer these questions quickly without even thinking about it.

The key is, keep them engaged as long as possible, because the longer they're engaged, the longer they are considering picking your story up.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Edit
Sometimes, even a well thought out pitch doesn't work. To be honest, I had three (3) other pitches before the current one. They didn't work, or at least, they didn't work as well as the one I have talked about through much of this blog.

The point is, we as writers can be stubborn. I definitely fit into that category. However, sometimes you have to evaluate what works and what doesn't. So, if your elevator pitch doesn't work, then you need to make some changes. Try it out a few times, and if you don't get a warm response, then go home and think of how else you can possibly say it. Think about where you can add some more active, exciting words. Think about where you are going wrong with your hook. Then change the pitch accordingly.

That's all the advice I can give, other than to just keep pitching and don't be discouraged when people still "walk on by". Remember, that no matter how well written your story is. No matter how many people you think will like your book, remember that it isn't for everyone and there will ALWAYS be people that will pass on it.

With that being said, I'm going to give you two other examples of good pitches for you to look at. Good luck writing your elevator pitch.

Harry Potter
Harry discovers that he has magical powers when he's invited to attend Hogwarts school for wizards, but the evil wizard who killed his parents is hiding at Hogwarts, waiting to finish the job.
A girl falls for a sexy vampire--but the boy who falls for her is part of a werewolf tribe committed to defeating the vampires.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How To Create a Book Trailer

An effective tool when trying to create some buzz for your book is what is known as a book trailer. Thee are fairly new things, having only popped up in the last couple of years or so, but they are steadily gaining in popularity. So, if you haven't heard of them yet, you soon will. When designing a book trailer, you should consider the following:

Don't Tell Everything
Think of a movie trailer. Does it show the whole movie? No, it doesn't. Instead, it show tiny snippets of the story, making the viewer want to see more. The key is to only show the viewer just enough to make them feel the need to discover more. This will lead them to your website, which, in turn, will get them a step closer to buying your book.

Limit the Time
Like not showing everything, you need to find a balance in time. Too short, and your viewer will be confused and not want to look at what it's all about. Too long, and the viewer will grow bored, and not get to the end of your trailer, and then will not bother to find out more. The trailer has to be the perfect length. Ideally, 1 to 2 minutes is an excellent length for a book trailer, but anywhere up to 2 would still be acceptable. At this length, you can't give away too much and your audience won't grow bored.

Fit the Mood
This is crucial. The mood of your book, should be reflected in the trailer. You can't have a trailer for Angela's Ashes using a lot of brightly colored scenes with AC/DC's Shook Me All Night Long playing in the background. Just like you don't want to use hardcore rap in a trailer for the Harry Potter books. The point is, if your book is sad, have images and sound that will go along with it. If your story has a lot of action and suspense, that should be reflected as well.

You may have noticed, how to make a book trailer hasn't actually been discussed yet. That is because there really is no set way to do one. Each trailer out there is unique in its own way, and creating such a trailer is truly up to the artist or, in this case, the writer. Telling you how to make a book trailer would be like me telling you how to write your book. While there are certain conventions every book must have, there truly is no one correct way to write one.However, there are a few popular techniques people use in order to create a trailer. If you have no idea how to start, hopefully these models will be a help.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

This can almost be considered the "traditional" way of making a book trailer. It is also the easiest, which is probably why it is the most popular. For this method, you are going to gather some pictures,   either ones you have taken personally, or by going to one of the royalty free photo websites, such as, or

On these sites, you can purchase photos for a small fee (usually less than $1 a photo), and use these photos any way you see fit. The photos you pick for you trailer should be representative of your book and the characters within. Using a tool such as Microsoft Movie Maker, you put these photos into a video and add some music to them.

Anatomy of a Scene

This could possibly be the most effective, and also the most fun to do. What it requires, is for you to turn a short scene from your book into a short script (remember it should fit into the time constraints mentioned earlier), and then shooting the scene using live actors (or friends). This is also great for you to see your scenes come to life. There are a few books, this technique might not work for, especially if you don't have the ability to construct elaborate sets. However, if you have a "real world" story, where you can shoot a scene in your living room, or at your local park, then this is perfect. If you also happen to be a talented artist, you can also animate the scene. Either way, by the time you're done, you'll have a trailer suitable to drive attention toward your book.

Going to the Movies
 Think of this one as looking like your typical movie trailer. It will have a bunch of short clips, encompassing the entire book. But as stated before, you don't want to give away too much - just enough to entice the viewer. Like the previous idea, this will require getting some actors and shooting several of the scenes from your book. And like the previous idea, if you happen to be a talented artist, go for animating it, this way you are not limited in your vision. Put these scenes to some appropriate music and you've got yourself a movie style book trailer.

No matter what you do when making a book trailer, make sure you get it up on YouTube and onto your Facebook page. These are going to be the places where your trailer is going to get the most visibility.

And of course, have fun making it. Like writing, if you're not having fun, why are you doing it?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Case for Book Festivals

You know, you would think that it being summer that there would be a plethora of events where one could sell their book. However, sadly, at least in the Northeast, that doesn't seem to be the case. I haven't had any significant events since May. While I love the opportunity to get out there and promoting my work, this downtime is the perfect time to write. No school, so I'm not busy teaching all day, and no festivals or fairs where I would be welcome as a vendor or an author, so I have been pounding away at the keyboard, finishing the first draft what will eventually become the fourth novel in my High School Heroes series. For you writers out there, you know how it feels to be able to sit down at your computer uninterrupted for a few hours and come out of it with an additional 4,000 - 5,000 words into your manuscript.

That being said, I'm gearing up for the fall where I will have several events, and the launch of the third book in my High School Heroes series, not to mention the birth of my son, which should happen somewhere around Thanksgiving. So, a busy fall lays ahead.

So, besides online, there are plenty of places where an author can sell his or her book in the fall, which seems to be (at least for me) the busiest season for book promotion.

There are a plethora of Book Fairs and Festivals that an author can attend, either as a vendor (which is what they call you if you pay for a table) or as a featured author. The featured author spots can be tough to get at some of these shows, because as you can well imagine, they only have a certain amount of spots and a lot of competition to fill them. What I will usually do is apply to get a featured author position (of which I have only gotten at 2 festivals thus far) and then as soon as I find out if I got the spot or not, I will grab a vendor table.

Now, not all book festivals are created equally. I have quite literally been to some book festivals where I could count on my fingers the amount of people who stopped by my table. On that same note, I have also been to book festivals where it was so busy that I couldn't sit in my seat I had so many people coming to my table. Needless to say, the very low attending ones, I have not returned to. But the point is, what you need to do is research.

Before you book an event (especially if you are going to have to do some traveling for that event) find out what the projected at the festival. I have found that the people who run the festival will be more than happy to give you all the details you ask for.

Once you find out whether the attendance at the festival is worth your time, then you have to figure out whether or not the cost is worth it. You have to take into account travel expenses, as well as the potential cost of the table. For example, the Collingswood Book Festival is held in Collingswood, NJ, about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive from my home in Maryland. It makes a very nice day trip for my wife and I since it is only a 1 day festival. Plus the table at this book festival is also only $25 (they don't have featured authors at this particular festival). So, because it is relatively near my home, and because the table is cheap, I have a good chance of at least making my money back, which I have in the two years I have gone so far. On the flip side, there is the South Carolina Book Festival, which the last time I looked cost $300+ for the table (if you are not selected as a featured author). Plus that would be a 7 - 8 hour drive, plus it is a multi-day festival, so I would need to get a hotel as well for at least 1 night. Add all that up and there is very little chance of me making my money back.

And that leads me to another point. Now, the Collingwood Book Festival boasts that they have approximately 6,000 people walk through the festival each year, so assuming that every one of them walks passed your table, that means you have 6,000 potential customers. However, the South Carolina Book Festival also says they have 6,000 people attending their festival. So, the question is now, why would I pay all that money to get my book in front of the same amount of people. However, there are festivals that can get as many as 10,000 people, so getting my work out in front of about 60% more people might be worth the extra expense.

Lastly, you have to consider your reason for going to these festivals. I will admit that for some of them, I am there to make money, which is ultimately our goal in this business. However, for others, especially those that I know I have no chance of reclaiming the funds to which I have spent, I am simply there to promote. I have found that though I cannot sell my ebooks at these festivals (at least, I haven't figured out a logical way yet) after I attend one of these festivals and get my book in some people's faces, my sales go up about 10%. This isn't a very big amount, however anything that can my book in more people's hands is a worthwhile endeavor. So, as I said, consider what your goal is at the festivals.

Below you will find a link for a list of good book festivals compiled by This is a list of reputable book festivals. The list (as of the time I am writing this) has only about a dozen festivals on it. The list will update again as the Spring 2013 Book Festivals dates are set. Take a look at some of them, and if you're not ready to go as an author, check out one in your area and see what they're all about.

The one thing I can promise is that you will have a lot of fun, especially when that first customer comes and starts asking you intelligent questions about your book. - List of Book Festivals


Monday, July 9, 2012

Ebook Publishing - Top Publishing Sites

So, in my last post I wrote about the benefits of ebook publishing. In this post, I'm going to tell you about some of the sites in which you can publish your materials. Three of the sites I am going to mention are the three sites I personally use to publish all of my material.

Now, before I begin, I just want to remind you not to expect immediate results. As I stated in the previous posts, my first months on these sites I only sold a few books each month. As my following started to grow however, and I published more books, my sales skyrocketed. So, don't be discouraged when you see your first month's sales as only 10 books.

So, without further ado, here are the sites:

Kindle Direct Publishing - Web Address
With being one of the top ebook sellers, it would be foolish not to have your books prominently displayed on their website. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is run by and if you publish here your book will be published on Amazon's website.

The upside to publishing with KDP is that it is very easy to get it published here. There isn't a particular format you need to adhere to (although I suggest having your book formatted so that it reads like an actual book) and you can upload a DOC or PDF file of your book (I suggest DOC, because Kindle seems to have an easier time converting this for the device). Once you publish, and assuming that there is nothing in your book Amazon considers offensive (which I will cover in a moment), your book will be made available within 24 - 48 hours. In the last couple of months, KDP has become even faster and several of my books have been made available within 12 hours of my uploading them to the site.

You can also set your price, starting at 99cents and you can also set prices for sites around the world (just in case you happen to want to make the book more expensive in England or France). The problem with the 99cent books is that you only receive 35% of the price as a royalty (which translates to 35cents per sale). If, however, you set your price at $2.99, you will receive 70% per sale (or about $2.) Royalties are also paid each month, though you have to wait 2 months after the end of each month for the royalties. 

As far as the "offensive" items, from speaking to other authors, the only things that I have found that KDP won't publish are extreme sex acts such as rape, beastiality, violent acts. Other than that, unless you have stolen a work from someone else, there should be no problem.

Now, the down side with KDP is that if you do have a problem of any kind, you are pretty much on your own. Any question I have posed to KDP's help line has not only take several days to be answered (if at all) but the responses are not helpful at all. They will usually say something like, "I'm sorry you are having trouble, but there is nothing we can do about it on our end." So, if you require help with anything, I suggest trying to find it from anywhere but KDP.

Pubit at Barnes & Noble - Web Address
Like KDP, Pubit is exclusive to Barnes & Noble, so if you publish here, your book will become available on B& Like Amazon, B&N is a top ebook seller. These two sites account for more than half of the ebook sales in the United States and possibly the world. These are the two sites I started on before I expanded.

Like KDP, Pubit is very easy to use and is very easy going on the formatting. Pubit, however, is a little more strict about the cover images (mostly the size of the image), but as long as your book cover fits within the size range, you should have no problems.

Pubit has a flat rate for royalties, so no matter what you charge for your book you will receive the same amount, which at this time is 40% of the price. Now, while you will lose some money on the higher priced books, you will be getting more for those 99cent ebooks. So, it does balance out with Amazon's royalties. Pubit's royalties are also sent out each month.

While Pubit has guidelines for the content of your book, much like KDP does, from my conversations with authors, there isn't anything they won't publish (unless it is stolen). Like KDP, once you upload a book for publishing, you can expect to see it on their site within 24 - 48 hours.

As far as their customer service, Pubit has a much better one, though it can also take a couple of days to hear back from them, which can be frustrating. At least when they do respond, their advice is helpful and useful to you.

Smashwords - Web Address

When compared to other publishers, this site is a baby. But don't let it's age fool you, means business and they are an excellent place to publish your book for several reasons. First, they distribute to ALL the major publishers including iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Deisel, and B&N (They claim to distribute to Amazon as well, but as of right now they are still not sending anything over to them). Second, by publishing through this website, you can get a free ISBN number for your book, which anywhere else can cost $100 or more (The ISBN is very important, because without it, you can't publish on sites such as iTunes and Sony).

So, why even mention KDP and Pubit, if this site will distribute to those sites as well? Well, Smashwords royalties are paid quarterly, so if you want that monthly check, you can forget it. It is also much, much more strict on it's formatting guidelines. As a matter of fact, Smashwords has a free downloadable book which is more than 100 pages long, which goes through step by step, how to format your ebook. Once you get the hang of it, you can format an ebook in 20 - 30 minutes, however, getting started, especially those without good computer skills, it can be a very daunting task.

However, Smashwords does offer a list of people who will help you formatting the book (for a fee). But upon emailing some of the people on the list, I have found their prices reasonable and they have a turnaround time of a couple of days (depending on the length of the ebook).

The length of time it takes to publish on Smashwords is a little long as well. While your book is placed on immediately for sale, it can take upwards of 6 weeks (or more in some cases) to see your book appear on some of the other sites. When you consider the speed of KDP and Pubit, this is an eternity. 

I know I seem to be complaining more about Smashwords than the other sites, but I still highly recommend it. I tried putting my ebooks up on iTunes, and they make it nearly impossible for many people to get their work up there. First of all, as I stated earlier, you can't publish on iTunes without your book having an ISBN number, and those are very expensive, unless you get a free one from Smashwords. Also, I am a proud PC user, but in order to publish on iTunes, you must download a special program that is ONLY compatible with Mac computers. So, that's two dead ends.

It is similarly difficult to publish on Sony, and Deisel. As a matter of fact, when looking at the publishing guidelines on their websites, they refer you to So, if you want to have your books available on these websites (and you do if you want to make some good sales), Smashwords is the easiest and most convenient way to accomplish this. After you upload the book to them, they pretty much do the rest for you (though, as I stated earlier, it can take some time).

The choice is yours. But these are the top three sites for publishing your ebooks. So, get out there and get those books published!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ebook Publishing

Before I write this post, I have to admit that at first, I was wary of ebook publishing from the start. I had questions like: How do I stop people from pirating my work? Is someone really going to pay for essentially nothing? How can I control my work?

To me, an ebook was an impractical thing, because essentially, in my mind, the only way worth reading a book was if the book was on paper in some kind of binding. That is a mindset, admittedly, that many people still have, but which is slowly growing more and more obsolete. This is proven by the massive amounts of ebooks being sold on the market each and everyday.

So, about a year ago, I decided to give ebook self-publishing a shot. I started with one of my short stories, The Collector, which I put up on using Kindle Direct Publishing. It didn't cost anything (other than the cost of some stock images to create the cover), and in that first month I sold a couple copies of the book. So, I decided to try another, this time I went with my story City of Darkness. Again, I sold a few copies, but what I found was that most people who bought one of my stories, also bought the other. So, I put another and another up, expanding also to Barnes and Noble's Pubit program, and now, a year later, I'm selling a couple hundred books a day.

Now, I'm truly kicking myself for not getting a start on this sooner.

I'm not saying you're going to strike it rich by doing ebooks. What I'm saying is, don't be afraid to try. The cost of self-publishing an ebook is miniscule when compared to printing. I pay for a photo for my cover between $3 - $6. With a little manipulating in Photoshop, I have an excellent cover. Compare that to paying a minimum of $5 per book for a novel to print it, and you're looking at practically no start-up cost.

Now, I've also played around with prices for a while, and I've noticed that any ebook over $2.99, unless you happen to be a New York Times best-selling author, isn't going to sell. I also found that the best price for any ebook is .99cents Many people are willing to take a chance on your work for only $1, and while you are only going to see about 1/2 of that price in royalties, consider what I said earlier - people that bought my first story, also bought my second, and my third and so on. So, while you're making only a tiny profit per ebook, when you consider that people are likely going to purchase more than one, you are actually going to be doing quite well.

My next post will have a breakdown of the best sites to publish your work on. Check back soon for that posting.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dig Up Those Old Stories

I don't know about you, but I find that I have a lot of old stories that I wrote as far back as high school that I have saved. These stories, though something I would never think of publishing in their current state, are just sitting around collecting dust.

There really is no reason why these old stories need to lay dormant. As an author, I know that I have the ability to breathe new life into them.

I have actually dug up some of these old stories (mainly some sci-fi stories I wrote in college that no one in their right mind would ever try and publish) and at first I was disgusted with them. I think that many writers have this exact same impulse when they first look at their writing that is more than a couple of years old. The reason is that we grow as writers. Our styles change and we actually get better at writing the more we write. These stories I am speaking of now, were riddled with grammatical errors (which I mistakenly thought at the time my editor would fix for me), sentence fragments and a slew of other mistakes that I don't care to mention. As I said, my first impulse was disgust, and my second was to close the file and never look at it again.

However, the story of this first writing I looked at was pretty good, and I thought I could do something with it. The plot of the story was actually pretty simple: a young boy witnesses the last stand of his race against an alien invasion. So, I decided that I was going to attempt giving this a try.

As I read through the story (trying my best to ignore the plethora of grammar errors and whatnot) I noticed too, that I had never put any meat into the story. I noticed that the characters I created were as simple as the plot. I never mention who the boy really was, other than the fact that his parents were on the front line. I never gave a hint as to the culture of these people (were they humans in the future, or were they another alien race on some distant planet?). I found that in rewriting the story, I would have to do a great deal of new writing.

And so I have.

I will admit that it is a challenge and I have essentially had to start near the beginning and build this story from the ground up, however, what I have come up with on this story so far, I am very satisfied with. I have begun to turn a story that a week ago repulsed me and have turned it into a story I can be proud of.

I suggest you do the same. Dig out those old stories. Rewrite them and make them into something you can be proud of and try to get them published somewhere. Even if you don't try to reconstruct the story from the ground up like I did, going through your old writings might spark something in your mind and you can create a whole new story. Don't just let these old stories sit dead in a drawer (or in most cases on an old CD) collecting dust never to see the light of day again. Dust them off and make them into something new.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Setting Up a Book Signing



Setting up a book signing is not an easy task by any means. Many larger bookstores won't waste their time on an author they've never heard of, and many of the smaller, independent bookstores are unwilling to risk buying books if they cannot guarantee sales from them. Some of these indy stores have even instituted a method to soften the blow of non-selling authors at book signings - and that's by charging authors to have a signing along with displaying their books.

There are ways to get yourself into these stores - even the big chains like Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million - without paying an arm and a leg for it. It will require an awful lot of legwork on your part though, and a good deal of networking.

1. Visit Local Bookstores as Often as Possible -
You want to visit as many bookstores in your area as possible. A good distance is any store you can drive to within an hour. This includes the small and large bookstores alike. Don't just go in and demand a book signing, however. An author needs to be much more subtle when dealing with things like these.

2. Get to Know the Manager -
You want to be seen in the store, let some of the staff get to know you. Introduce yourself to the manager, and give him your business card. Tell him or her that you have a book coming out soon, and say a little something about it. Again, do not ask for a book signing straight away. It will likely only serve to anger the manager and make it impossible to get yourself into his or her store.

3. Patience is a Virtue -
Instead, wait a couple of visits, remind the manager each time about your book. Build a relationship, although a weak one, with the manager. On your third or fourth visit, then make a mention of a book signing - but again, ask, do not demand. And bring it up as a matter of conversation instead of just blurting it out. If you're in Barnes and Noble, just ask the manager, "What might an author need to do in order to have a book signing here?"

4. Money is Key -
Once you've gotten it across that you'd like to have a signing, and the manager isn't totally turned off by the idea, you're halfway there. Remember though, all bookstores are open for one purpose and one purpose only: to make money. You need to assure the manager that by hosting your book signing, the store isn't going to lose money on it on the books it is going to buy. The biggest issue here is: what is the store going to do with the books you don't sell? Most managers would prefer not to have twenty copies of your book sitting on their shelves for two years, useless and doing nothing. So, explain that your publisher will buy back all books that haven't sold after three months (or whatever your publisher's policy is). If you are self-published or your publisher has no such policy, then offer to buy back the books yourself if they don't sell.

5. Keep in Contact -
Even though I have gotten some stores to agree to let me do a book signings, they will never happen if I simply disappear until my book comes out. The key is keeping the relationship alive. Visit the store every week, or every other week. Say hello to the manager, at this point, you shouldn't need to mention the book, he or she should remember who you are. Keep doing this up until you're ready for your book signing.

With it all mapped out, it can seem rather easy, and though it is, this is a time consuming task, but one that can reap many rewards. Do not underestimate the power of a face to face meeting, and remember that social networking is even more effective when done in person.