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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

 

So Authors Are Actually Making Money Self-Publishing...

I just got back from 20Books to 50K, an indie publishing conference held in Las Vegas with 1000 authors interested in learning about indie publishing. Some were beginners like me (in the self-publishing world), and some are making between six and seven figures a year on their books. Yes, you read that right. There are self-published authors who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars on their books each year. Mark Dawson, the keynote speaker and co-host of The Self-Publishing Show podcast, is now a millionaire and just signed a traditional print deal and will soon have his once only self-published books as hardbacks in bookstores in the UK.

Over the next month (at least), I plan to share with you, WOW! readers, some of the most inspirational and motivational things I learned at this conference. But let me tell you another secret, most of the workshops and talks I went to were recorded and are loaded on YOU TUBE for YOU TO WATCH FOR FREE! (Go to YouTube.com and Google 20Books to 50K) Start with Mark Dawson's keynote here. It gave me chills, and I had tears in my eyes. When I came home from this conference, I felt empowered. I set a new word count goal of at least 1000 words a day on a NEW WORK. And this does not include revising, editing, or marketing. So far, I have a streak of four days and have written over 1000 words each day. I'm so excited writing this blog post for you that I know I'm all over the place and rambling. I can't help it. I am that excited.

Here are some of the takeaways from Dawson's talk:

  • He has made so much more money as an indie author than he did with a traditional publishing contract. He does the math for you in the You Tube video. It's amazing.
  • Don't compare yourself to other writers and their success. Be motivated by them. Study them and then do the same things in your career.
  • Don't take bad reviews personally (FYI: some of the funniest moments here in the video). 
  • Respect your readers' time. Answer all emails, Facebook comments, and tweets.
  • Advertising on Facebook and Amazon (or Bookbub or countless other places) is no longer a luxury. If you want to be found and read, you need to spend some dollars advertising. 
Mark Dawson is a hard worker. He has built his business from the ground up. But he still loves writing. He still writes. And he is generous with his information and wants to help other writers. He is living the life so many of us dream of, and he is willing to show you how to achieve it if you want to work hard and pay attention to how the business is changing.

What I realized the most during this conference is that the publishing business is changing. At 20Books to 50K (the story of this name and founder will come next time), I sat there thinking about my three traditionally published books and all the mistakes I've made. And then I told myself: Stop it. You did what you did because that's how things were done then. And you have good books you can be proud of.

But now the climate is changing, and like all companies (BIG COMPANIES: Pepsi, Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc) that now have social media departments and spend money on content advertising, we, as writers and businesswomen, have to change with the publishing times. I urge you to at least get educated. You can still long for an agent. You can still turn your nose up at self-published authors, but you also need to understand that these hard-working and successful authors will be your biggest competition and just may be laughing all the way to the bank while they are enjoying being a writer as their full-time jobs. 

My writing group, the Lit Ladies, at 20Books. I'm in the glasses!

Margo L. Dill
is a children's and YA author in St. Louis, MO. She is WOW!'s managing editor and teaches novel writing and middle-grade and young adult writing for WOW! You can find her upcoming classes (novel writing starts on December 6) here. 

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Monday, November 18, 2019

 

Promote Yourself - Toot That Horn!

Greetings from Wisconsin where one day it's snowing and the next we are wearing short sleeves (and my children no longer enjoy having their photo taken...case in point here on the left)! I want to talk about promoting your work as an author. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I've been a Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing for several years now and I'd like to share some advice about promoting your work and branding yourself. The books I have had the most success promoting have been for those authors who have set some serious ground-work. Authors who have the following:

An Author Page on Facebook
A LinkedIn Account
An Instagram Account
A Twitter Account
A Blog or Website
A Goodreads Author Account
A Goodreads listing of their Book
An Author Profile on Amazon

When an author hires WOW! for a Book Blog Tour, we do quite a bit of behind the scenes work spreading the word about their book. We ask readers to post reviews on blogs, social media, Goodreads, and anywhere they can. We want to shout from the mountain top - we want the world to know about the fabulous book we've had the pleasure of reading. In doing this, we also want to TAG the author on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc... if you aren't there, we can't tag you. This also means readers may not find you. The more places you put yourself and the more ways you promote yourself, the broader your audience will be.

It's not impossible to promote a book for an author who is not on social media, but our promotion isn't as far-reaching. I'd strongly suggest either getting yourself out there or hiring someone to do it for you - BEFORE your book is published. You have nothing to lose if you are out there months (or years) before your book is published, but if you wait until people are trying to find you and CAN'T - then there's definitely a potential for lost readers/followers/reviews.

On a related subject - you can promote yourself without saying "read my book". As a reader and reviewer, nothing is more disheartening than taking time to write a review or a blog post about a book and hearing NOTHING from the author. A brief comment is so encouraging and makes me want to write more reviews. A comment on a review is like a little thank you note - and Gramma said you can never go wrong with a thank you note. An author recently offered to send my daughter's school a copy of his book because my daughter left such a kind review. Now all the students in her school have the opportunity to read his book. He also engaged her in conversation through blog comments and she's excited about the next book in his series. It took a few minutes for them to connect and his readership has expanded greatly because of the interaction.

As Thanksgiving approaches here at our house, I want to say:

Thank you to all the authors, bloggers, readers, and reviewers who place their trust in WOW! - you are all such a joy!

Hugs,
~Crystal


Crystal is a secretary, council secretary, financial secretary, and musician at her church, birth mother, Auntie, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children, two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, horses Darlin' and Joker, and over 250 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal milking cows and riding unicorns (not at the same time), taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books here, and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

 

Interview with Rachelle Allen: Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction Contest Third-Place Winner

Rachelle’s Bio:

Rachelle Allen has a life filled with the two best commodities on the planet: music and children. She teaches private voice, flute, and piano lessons to seventy-four students in their homes each week and, twenty-eight years later, still loves every minute of it.

When not teaching, she indulges in the third best commodity on earth: writing. Currently, she is shopping her memoir, Lessons in the Key of Life, vignettes about the lessons she’s learned from the lessons she's taught, to agents and publishers.

On the international writing site, FanStory, Rachelle ranked fifth this year in Novel-writing and seventh for Short Stories and won Book of the Month twice and Story of the Month twice. She also placed first in twenty-five site contests between March and June. In 2012, her story, “A Second Chance With Randall,” was published in The Storyteller magazine, and she placed in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition that year, as well. In June of 2018, her story, “Leopard,” was among the top ten winners in a WOW contest.

Rachelle is living happily ever after in East Rochester, New York, with Bobby Allen, her husband of fifteen years.

If you haven't done so already, check out Rachelle's award-winning story "Knowing When It's Right" and the return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing this piece and how did it and your writing evolve as you wrote?

Rachelle: It really did present itself at the salon as I considered the irony of how this woman seemed to have it all, and yet, there she was with the most fundamental of questions about her life and her happiness. This piece is pretty much a transcript of that day's on-the-spot/not-a-lot-of-deep-thinking response. I do remember having prefaced it to her, though, with, "I'm imagining that none of what I'm about to say will be news to you, but it's my birthright as a Jewish Mommie to tell people things they already know."

WOW: The power of observation coupled with a creative design! What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay?

Rachelle: What I learned about myself was that I have come SUCH a long way from my early days of relationships. I made so many mistakes—allowing myself to be constantly disrespected, pretending I didn't suspect infidelity, kowtowing to my then-husband's every whim, choosing to be unhappy rather than divorced. For all I was giving, all I was getting was old! But after I finished writing this article, I realized that those years weren't in vain because they schooled me in the BEST possible way. Thanks to all that turmoil, now I'm able to do a daily victory dance. It taught me that I could learn as much from a bad situation as I could a good one—i.e. that I could BE down, but I didn't have to stay there and that I could always choose to be better.

WOW: Thank you for sharing that with us. It sounds like writing this was a powerfully positive experience. Please tell us more about the role of music in your life. Has it inspired your writing?

Rachelle: I've been told by several editors that there is a natural rhythmic flow and cadence to my "voice," and that, I feel, is the result of my lifetime as a musician. But music, like writing, is also therapeutic for me. I never quite realized to what degree that was the case until the night I overhead my daughter, then sixteen, on the phone with her friend. We'd just returned from being out driving together, and she said, "I can always tell how well or how poorly I've ever done on any given night of driving by how long my mom has to sit and play the piano when we get home." (True. SO very true!) She added, "And if I ever hear Tchaikovsky, I know I've been ESPECIALLY bad that night." (Equally true because he requires such a vast amount of visceral 'expression,' if you will...) I went at once to my daily "Fly On The Wall" Journal, and turned that into an essay. (Isn't it great that there can be such a rewarding overlap in the creative and performing arts?)

WOW: Yes! Thank you for sharing how it overlaps in your life. And it sounds like your daughter has good observation skills, too! Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have most influenced you, and in what ways?

Rachelle: When I was growing up, I read Erma Bombeck's daily column in the newspaper. I loved the way she could take the most mundane parts of life and make them entertaining to read. I also cannot get enough of Anne Lamott and her knack for combining wisdom with a wry, almost cryptic sense of humor. And finally, Torey Hayden changed my life with her book, One Child. I have read everything she's written, as I have Ann Lamott, because both authors provide such depth and understanding of human nature through common sense. They pull at my heartstrings and make me dig way deep into myself for answers to questions I didn't even realize I had.

WOW: Lovely description of their writing and its effect on you. That makes me want to read some of their writing right now. If you could tell your younger-writing-self anything, what would it be?

Rachelle: I would tell my younger-writing-self that there are universal truths to be had every moment of the day. Always have your writer's eye and wits about you, and have a pen and pad on hand at all times. Write these gems down the moment you hear them because, otherwise, you WILL forget them. My husband is hilariously philosophical—especially at night when we're schmoozing before we fall asleep, it seems. So, I keep a notebook and pen in the nightstand on my side of the bed for his treasures. Ditto for my students during our lessons because their assessments of life are SO completely spot on. For example, this is from a six-year-old: Know what I've noticed? As people get taller, their sense of humor gets shorter. If that's not fodder for an essay, what is?!

WOW: What a great example! That is a gem! Anything else you’d like to add?

Rachelle: For the longest time, I was reticent to write essays because I felt "Who am I to be giving advice or making assessments?" But then it finally dawned on me that perhaps the reason I was put into various situations was exactly for that purpose: to share! (To my credit, I was kind enough when that epiphany hit not to add, "DUH!")

WOW: Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses and for sharing your advice and assessments with us through your writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019

 

3 Ways to Sneak in Writing During the Holidays


Whoever thought NaNoWriMo should be in the heart of the holiday season must have been out of their mind. With that said, here we are, in the heart of NaNoWriMo, and online is buzzing with discussions about Thanksgiving. Instead of researching recipes, many of us writers are frantically trying to write our way out of a plot ditch we've fallen into. While gift lists and Christmas plans are arranged, we're trying to remember where we put that outline we wrote out on a piece of notebook paper that we've now lost.

If the idea of writing in the midst of Turkey sounds awful, I have for you a few ways to sneak in some writing time in the midst of the holiday season.

1) Tell everyone you are going "shopping."

Hey, shopping takes time. I mean, it isn't just going once to the mall for an hour. It can often mean several stores, several trips, and many hours of long contemplation. At least, that can be your excuse. So while looking for scented candles to purchase for your holiday party, take an hour break at a local coffee shop and squeeze in some writing time. And if anyone asks, you no longer like to shop online.

2) Take your time wrapping presents.

One of my favorite things to do is wrap presents. However, just like shopping, it can also take a lot of time. I mean taping, cutting, wrapping the paper, and everything else takes time and consideration. Never mind having to do your own bows and ribbon! So, in the midst of wrapping paper, especially since you are likely doing this in private time, squeeze in some extra minutes working on that piece of writing.

3) Let someone else drive. 

If you tend to be the driver, make sure someone else drives during this time of year. Or take advantage of a rideshare app or opt for carpool. Why? Well, take the laptop or your notebook, and make sure you sneak in writing time while on the road!

How do you sneak in writing time during this time of year?



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Thursday, November 14, 2019

 

Interview with Kathy Pooler, memoirist of Just the Way He Walked: A Mother’s Story of Healing and Hope

Interview by Dorit Sasson


A faithful partner for WOW! Blog Tours, Kathy Pooler is a retired family nurse practitioner. Her mission is to give hope to parents and caregivers struggling with an addicted child.

She blogs weekly at Memoir Writer’s Journey. She already published one moving memoir and if you haven’t done so already, check out her second soon-to-be released memoir Just the Way He Walked in our chat below about her journey parenting an addicted child.

***

WOW: What was the biggest takeaway from writing your memoir about parenting an alcoholic son?

Kathy: Because this was a very painful story, I had to take frequent breaks to write the most truthful memoir. It was not a story I could stick with consistently. Earlier versions started with vignettes of different moments and scenarios and I decided to share them with my son, Brian.

In this sharing I found the courage to keep going and discovered the gift of healing. As hard as it was to face those difficult memories, I was heartened by Brian’s responses to my storytelling version. His response was affirming and deeply healing.

It would take many more years for him to accept his story in published book form. He would grapple with that and I grappled with that too because I did not want to jeopardize the relationship with my son. But I also didn’t want to give up on this important story the world needed to hear.

The biggest takeaway was that I never stopped loving and believing in Brian. No matter how far down in the abyss we had gone, I clung to hope through my faith that things would be better—that he would one day, find sobriety and I would find peace of mind.

WOW: Your insights into your mother-son journey are profound and powerful. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while writing a memoir?

Kathy: I got in touch with my tenacity and learned to use it to my advantage. I was determined to survive and thrive as a mother to an addicted child. I didn’t know how. During my son’s twenty-four years of active addiction, my biggest mistake was being in a state of denial which delayed my ability to educate myself about how to rise above the disease of addiction.

Education and support groups are critical. In my writing, I’ve challenged myself to dig deeper to face the hard truths and I found the courage to face recovery.

WOW: What a gift the writing process was for you both. How did you manage to stay the course of memoir writing once you started experiencing self-doubt especially in light of the painful and difficult memories?

Kathy: As I’ve mentioned, I had many starts and stops along the way of writing this memoir. I decided to take as long as Brian and I needed to get the memoir ready for publication.

It would take many years to discover my compelling story. But for that to happen, I had to let the story evolve naturally. How does a single mother cope with seeing her son spiral downward from addiction? When I experienced self-doubt, I tried refocusing on my purpose for writing the story—to share the hope with other parents of addicted children. Being fueled by the hope, became my “WHY” for pushing through with the writing. I had also set the condition that Brian had to be totally on board with me publishing my story.

When I was in the throes of Brian’s active drinking, I felt isolated and alone. Now I know there’s a better way through community resources and support groups.

WOW: It just goes to show you how much we can accomplish when we get out of our way and rally the right support—makes a huge difference. Curious to know how your background and career in nursing helped you cope with your son's alcohol abuse and recovery.

Kathy: Interesting question as one would assume that my master’s prepared nursing background would guide me through this. But in my case, I was so overwhelmed by the circumstances of being a single parent and having an addicted son that I lost all objectivity.

Despite overwhelm, I eventually learned to reach out and take advantage of available resources. There was so much more I needed to learn so I could cope in a healthier way.


"This memoir started with writing vignettes in 1999—twenty years ago ... each revision forced me to dig deeper into the heart of the story."


WOW: Good for you for recognizing your need for support! What was the revision process like and how did it differ from your first memoir? Were you drawn to reading other memoirs on alcoholism?

Kathy: Unlike my first memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead, this memoir went through many revisions. And while this memoir was difficult to write, in many ways it was easier because it was just about me.

I did fear repercussions from my ex-husband and his wife but that never materialized. He died of cirrhosis two months after my first memoir was published in 2014. The sensitivities related to my son and his acceptance of the story delayed the writing process with the second memoir.

Brian wanted to be helpful, but he also had to face his truth to the story. Up until just four months ago, I honestly did not even know whether we’d be able to move forward with publication. We spent endless hours on the phone poring over sections he had issues with. In many cases, it was a word or description that stymied him. It was a fine line for me as I wanted to be open to his suggestions without losing the intent of the story. Together, we negotiated and even compromised. In some cases, I removed or changed the wording or a sentence. I wanted him to feel his input was valued but in the end, he proclaimed, “I see that this is your story, Mom. I’ve been so caught up with my own issues that I didn’t see it. Now I do. Go for it!”

What a relief, well-worth the long wait. (This memoir started with writing vignettes in 1999—twenty years ago.) I will add that each revision forced me to dig deeper into the heart of the story.

WOW: Twenty years is a long time to wait, wow. What advice would you offer writers who are drawn to the genre of memoir yet experience difficulties when it comes to telling their painful yet important stories?

Kathy: Probably the single most important factor in being able to plow through the pain of telling a difficult story is to be clear on your purpose for writing it—this will provide the fuel for the long journey. My “why” for writing this memoir constantly surfaced and evolved.

Here are some suggestions:
  • Self-care – a necessary essential for the long haul. This includes breaks including counseling, or even permission to work on another project in the interim.
  • Courage to expose your vulnerabilities. Authentic sharing of your vulnerabilities will align your truths with the right reader.
  • Professional development including a memoir writing class. There are many opportunities online. Join a critique group in your area or online to receive feedback on your writing.

Writing a memoir is hard work. Knowing that information upfront will help set expectations. Take the necessary time to set yourself up for success from the start.


"Authentic sharing of your vulnerabilities will align your truths with the right reader."


Find out more about Kathy by visiting her website at krpooler.com.

***

Dorit Sasson is an award-winning author of the memoir Accidental Soldier and the upcoming Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home. As a book marketing and writing coach specializing in nonfiction, she helps authors use SEO more effectively to get the word out about their books and build their platforms effectively. She hails from Pittsburgh. Email her at sassondorit[at]gmail[dot]com.

Dorit also teaches for WOW! Women on Writing. Check out her upcoming class, Polish Your Memoir in 5 Weeks.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

 

NaNoWriMo: Are We Done Yet?

So we’re close to the midpoint of November and that means—for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo—that you’re about halfway along in your journey, assuming you haven’t pulled out your hair and run screaming from your laptops. But I feel like I need to lay a little truth on you: if you’re reading this, I suspect you might already be in the weeds.




Because the diligent-and-on-track NaNoWriMo participant doesn’t have time for reading blog posts or much of any other shenanigans…like eating or sleeping. The writer who’s got around 25,000 words is rather smugly humming along and we kind of despise her (or him).

But it’s not too late for you to become smug and detestable yourself. I’ve got a few tips to get you back on track and though you may not finish with the Great American Novel ready for submission, you WILL finish with…well, something. (Your lost hair is on you.)

Tip One: Make a Plan

Yes, I know, you’re a pantser. You don’t plan, you just write, write, write and it’s all whiskers on kittens and kisses on mittens or whatever. Until it’s mid-November and suddenly it’s Nightmare on NaNo Street because you have pantsed your way to 5,347 words.

Uh-oh. MAKE A PLAN. Take a look at the number of days you have left (18) and consider realistically the number of days you will write. That means, friends, that if you haven’t written on Saturday yet, don’t count Saturdays, okay? Next, assign a goal to each day you will write. But you cannot give yourself two days off in a row. And that’s not because I’m being a meany-pants; I have a very good reason for this part of the plan.

I know this requires a bit of math and figuring so I’ll give you a few minutes to make a plan. And no, you cannot wait till tomorrow.

Tip Two: Do Not Backtrack

When I am working on a manuscript, even a first draft, I will write, write, write. And then the next time that I go to the manuscript, I will go back and read what I wrote, wrote, wrote. Sometimes, I’ll dump it all and start fresh. Sometimes, I should have dumped it all but I edit, trying to make it nice. The point is, I edit as I go.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, going back over what you’ve written is the kiss of manuscript death. There is no time for editing or finding your voice; there’s not even time to fix some egregious grammar mistake (and seriously, I shuddered just writing that last bit). Just plow ahead with writing no matter what. But—and here’s a big but—that’s easier to do if you write every day.

Writing every day, even if it’s just 500 words, keeps your mind entrenched in the manuscript as well as your butt in the chair. And once there, you’ll probably write more because you’re doing off-to-the-races writing! So if you want to revise that plan you made (the one where you skipped writing on Saturdays), I’ll wait.

Tip Three: Accept Imperfection

Now you have a plan that may or may not mean you have to write 2, 471 words per day for the next 18 days. You have vowed that when you sit down to write, you will not, under penalty of manuscript death, look at any words you have written before but will have at it, mid-sentence if need be. But come November 30th, you must face that what you have written—and really, with no editing what can you expect?--could be a pile of steaming word mush (to put it politely). But that’s okay. Because you’ll be done with NaNoWriMo and you’ll have a 50,000-ish word manuscript-ish.

We shall talk about revision tips on January 1st.

~Cathy C. Hall

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

 

Three Tips on How to Bring Your Memoir Together

Since I started working on a memoir, it seems like everywhere I turn is another memoir being pimped . . . I mean promoted . . . or another post on how to make your memoir sing. I’ll admit, I’m a more avid reader of the how-to pieces than I am of the actual memoirs. What can I say? Maybe I’m ridiculously picky or memoir is just hard to do well.

Here are three tips on how to bring your own memoir together.

Pick a narrative line. One. Not three. Because memoir is memoir and not autobiography, you need to decide which story you are telling. Is this your rise from abused child and then wife to woman standing on her own two feet? Or perhaps you are telling how you recovered from the injuries you received at the hands of a butcher of a surgeon. Once you decide which story you are telling, you have chosen a path. Don’t try to jump to another one mid-memoir. In autobiography, you get to tell every story. In memoir, you get to tell one.

Think plot. In the blog post “How to Write Your Memoir Like a Novel,” Joe Bunting talks about how he rewrote his memoir manuscript with the three act structure in mind. He looked for rising tension. He cut backstory. As he rewrote, he built scenes looking for ways to increase suspense. As a result, he pulled together a memoir that readers say is a page turner just like a well-written novel.

Remember, memoir is not genealogy. Because a memoir is your story, it is also your family’s story. But it is also important to note that it is not a family history. If you write it that way, the only people who want to read it will be your family. Maybe. To create something that will appeal to a larger body of readers, your focus has to go beyond your family story to the larger story. You are writing about more than the Benedicts. You are writing about how losing the Benedict family business impacted your life.

It all seems intimidating, doesn’t it? I suspect that if you try to keep all of this in mind as you write your rough draft you will never get your story down. The key to success can be found in Bunting’s approach. Rough your memoir, then, during the rewrite process, hone it into a well-crafted piece of literature.

The key to great writing, after all, is the rewrite process.

--SueBE

To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins November 18th, 2019.

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