Author Archives: Kim Staflund

About Kim Staflund

As a book publisher, Kim Staflund works with businesses and individuals around the world to produce superior quality ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. As the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG), she has extensive experience with the traditional (trade), vanity, and supported self-publishing business models as both a service provider and an author. Kim built her company from the perspective of the author—taking the best practices from each business model to create a company that puts its authors first, while ensuring a professional, saleable result. Think of PPG as a skilled project manager for self-publishing authors. Using the supported self-publishing business model, the company assists authors in producing truly professional books by guiding them through the entire process from conception to publication. PPG helps both individuals and businesses to publish quality books and provides them with online distribution opportunities throughout the world. In addition to her writing and book publishing background, Kim has a substantial sales and sales management history that includes new business development, both inside and outside account management of all types and sizes of companies, and personnel management and leadership experience within unionized and non-unionized environments. Add her firsthand knowledge of records management, process management, and project management into the mix and you have everything that is required in a professional book publisher to help authors everywhere succeed. Kim’s number one priority in each of these roles has always been, and will always be, to earn (and keep) the trust of each of her clients by providing honest, ethical, and thoughtful customer service that meets or exceeds their expectations.

The Science of Revision: Words Are All We Have

Jack Strandburg, Freelance Editor at J. S. Editing Services

Revising fiction, whether in the form of a short story, novella, or novel, is more than spell and grammar check; every fiction writer knows that; otherwise there would be no need for editors, and having recently started a freelance editing business, I’m thankful for that fact.

I have edited more than thirty-five novels in various genres, and although different genres offer different challenges, and “what to look for,” the common goal among the genres is to capture the reader and throw him or her into your world.

A work of fiction, if written well, consists of three major components – Character, Plot, and Setting. The argument of whether one is more important than the other two can, and is, discussed in books and articles ad nauseam, and for that reason, is beyond the scope of this blog.

My intent is to provide a set of guidelines on how to approach editing in all three components to produce the best possible story.

You probably got enough sleep last night, so I won’t bore you with a lot of narrative; instead I’ll stick with examples, which I believe does a much better job emphasizing my point . . . you know –show v. tell.

I will spend a little time on the three major components, but want to focus more on a topic, that perhaps does not command as much attention, yet, in my mind, is as equally important as “the Big Three.”

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Character:

We want the reader to “see” our characters, so we strive to provide as vivid a physical description as possible. We accomplish this by using similes and comparisons.

“In the eyes, round beneath soft brows, the slender, finely shaped nose, and full lips, I saw both sensuousness and refinement.”

“His measured walk resembled a skilled countryman as distinct from the shamble of the general laborer.”

“Joe left Arizona to attend college in California,” tells the reader little about Joe, but “Joe said goodbye to his parents, left his rural home in Phoenix, and drove to California to study engineering in UCLA,” not only reveals much more about Joe, but perhaps raises the question, why did Joe drive rather than fly?’

Plot:

Ensure there is conflict and obstacles for the protagonist, the antagonist presents a challenge, and the flow of events is seamless.

Ensure the accuracy of factual information. For example, if a character travels from New York to Spain, he or she should not complain about the rental car’s lousy gas mileage.

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Setting:

Show v. tell when describing a place in your story, with heavy and frequent references to the five senses.

Word Power

When I edit, either for myself or for a client, I spend at least as much time, if not more, on word power. The goal should be to write each sentence in the least number of words as possible, provided, of course, it does not change the meaning or sacrifice what the writer wants to say.

Most writers know to avoid adverbs by either eliminating them, or substitute more powerful verbs.

Weak words and phrases, such as “that, had, have, would have been,” (the list is far too long for this blog) are, in the majority of cases, are unnecessary. They function only as a distraction to the reader. The same applies to overused words and phrases, such as, “the fact that, all of a sudden, at the very least, in spite of, and if nothing else.”

I see a lot of unnecessary words and phrases, and although not necessarily considered “bad writing,” and usually skipped over while reading, when such words and phrases are eliminated, their distraction is obvious.

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“He thought to himself to “he thought.” (who else would he think to?)

He nodded his head” to “he nodded.” (as opposed to nodding his shoulder?)

“He shook his head to indicate no.” to “he shook his head.” (Granted, he might shake his head for another reason, but the context would indicate whether he was responding to a question).

“He got up out of bed.” to “He got out of bed,” or even better, “he climbed out of bed,” which eliminates the unnecessary “up,” and also substitutes a more powerful verb.

Of course, we have the ever-popular phrase I read in books, newspapers, and hear in movies and TV shows.

“Past history or past experience.” All history and experience is “past.”

A number of verbs used to link a second verb are prevalent in fiction writing, most notably “take and took,” “made and “make.”

“He made a move,” to “he moved.”

“He took a shot,” to “he shot or he tried, or he attempted.”

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During the first revision of my first commercially published novel, the editor cited the elimination of two unnecessary words – that and had.

Of course, has and have can be included by default.

That can be eliminated in most (not all) cases unless the writer was referring to a specific person, place or thing. (that man, that chair, that city).

Before: “By the way, I just wondered if you think that this dress looks good on me.”

After: “Does this dress look good one me?”

Before: “Suddenly, I thought that perhaps she should go back over there and sit down on top of the fence.”

After: “She should go sit on the fence.”

Eliminate or substitute all forms of “some.” (someone, somebody, sometime, somewhere), by instead being specific in identifying the person, time frame, or place.

Minimize the occurrences of pronouns within the same sentence or paragraph.

Before: He got out of bed. He went to the bathroom. He washed his face and shaved. He took a shower. He dressed and went to the kitchen. He made breakfast. (6 sentences, 6 occurrences of “he”)

After: He climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom. After a shave and a shower, he dressed and went to the kitchen to make breakfast. (2 sentences, 2 occurrences of “he”)

By applying these concepts during your revisions, you will produce a much tighter,  much cleaner, and easier to read story.

© Jack Strandburg

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Coming soon! Watch for it in the fall of 2017.

T-Shaped Marketing for Authors. The New Way to Sell Books.

Online marketing provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were pretty much limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to be Internet savvy to a degree. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

Co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin (2013), provides this succinct description of T-shaped marketing on his company’s blog:

“T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad
array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).”

In other words, your deep knowledge/ability—the stem of the T—is the content you’ve written about in your book(s). The flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).

Some of today’s most recognized companies used their own unique T-shaped marketing strategies (also referred to as “growth hacking”) to build their businesses quickly when little or no venture capital was available to them: Airbnb used some shrewd background coding to hack the Craigslist platform to boost its own site’s user experience; PayPal grew quickly by paying early users for referrals; and Dropbox used a strategy similar to PayPal’s by giving early users extra storage for referrals. These tactics piggybacked their other online efforts (e.g., SEO, PPC) to supercharge each company’s scalability, hence the term “growth hacking.”

Authors can do the same. They can use T-shaped marketing to their advantage, and many of today’s most successful online authors already do. Each ebook in this series will focus on one particular T-shaped marketing avenue so authors can learn to utilize several customized strategies:

* Online (paid) and Offline (unpaid) Book Reviews | Advertising vs. Publicity
* Email Marketing
* Advertorials and Blogging
* Content Syndication and Guest blogging
* HTML Coding for Beginners
* Mobile Marketing
* Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising
* Search engine optimization SEO
* Social Marketing
* Video Marketing
* And the list goes on!

Authors are entrepreneurs, and T-shaped marketing is every entrepreneur’s friend. The top authors move more books by getting in front of their customers and communicating with them in a clear and consistent manner; and they do this by virtue of social media marketing, blogging, book reviews, email marketing, publicity/media tours, and all the other T-shaped marketing strategies we’ll be discussing. They do what’s necessary to make themselves stand out among all the rest for their particular genres, just as business people do with traditional companies.

The good news is it’s possible! There are examples right before your eyes—right inside these mini ebooks—of successful authors who have used T-shaped marketing to sell THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of books. You can use T-shaped marketing like a pro, too. I’ll show you how.

WEEK FIVE: REFINE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the Third Installment Today!

WEEK FIVE: REFINE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE OCTOBER 24, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.

Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

WEEKS TWO TO FOUR: WRITE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the Second Installment Today!

WEEKS TWO TO FOUR: WRITE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.

Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

WEEK ONE: OUTLINE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the First Installment Today!

WEEK ONE: OUTLINE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE AUGUST 1, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.

Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

Adaptation: From Novel to Screenplay to Film

Judy Sandra – Writer, Director, Producer

These days it’s almost a given that a film will be based on a novel or book of non-fiction.  While I also write original screenplays, I decided to adapt a novel I wrote into a screenplay for a film that I will also direct. The following thoughts on adaptation come from my personal experience of adapting the novel The Metal Girl into the film project “Metal Girl.”

From Novel to Screenplay to Film

Novels and films are such different species that it can feel unnatural to marry them.  After the adaptation, the only thing they will share will be a story, the setting, and the characters. A novel is a completed art form.   One author writes the book, and one reader reads the book one at a time.  If it’s a successful book, many people, even millions of people will read that same book. While each reader will see the story through their own imagination and personal interpretation, the printed words will never change.

A screenplay is the blueprint for a film.  Very few people will ever read the original screenplay.  From the screenplay, the film will be created through the collaborative efforts of the director, cinematographer, actors, and all the creative professionals that contribute to the making of the movie.

The screenplay will evolve over the duration of the actual shooting of the film, with input and collaborations between the director and actors, and it will continue to evolve during the post-production process of the film—through the editing and finishing processes. The screenplay is a fluid and ever changing document.

I emphasize this to call attention to the fact that a screenplay is not a work of art. The film is the work. The screenplay is part of the work, a very significant part, but one that remains mostly invisible. The screenplay is the beginning of a process of the making of a film.

While this may seem an obvious point, it becomes a very important one when thinking about adapting a novel to the screen.  To me the screenwriter, the novel I have in front of me is a piece of writing that I am now going to bend to the medium of film.  The first thing to consider is adapting prose to dramatic writing and the limitations of the screenplay format.

From prose to screenplay format

To adapt the prose into a screenplay, I have to think about the story differently, as a series of scenes in three dimensions.  Also, to accommodate the average length of a film–one hour and forty-five minutes–most working screenplays are between approximately 90 and 105 pages. The narrative of an average 300-500 page novel simply won’t fit. Something—a lot—has to go.

How does one tell a novel length story in a 105 page script?

Efficiently, using the language of film.

What actually happens in an adaptation is that the story of the book gets retold in the language of film. In essence, you will be writing the original story again, but this time, it’s going to be a movie. That’s how it felt when I adapted The Metal Girl.  I was re-writing the novel, telling the same story in the same situations, but this time I was telling it using pictures, music, sound, and color. How would I tell that story, what would it look like, and how would those characters come to life on the screen?

Planning the adaptation: Structure

What elements of the story would stay and which could I cut out? Which characters, events, locations? What parts could I eliminate and what parts did I have to keep to portray the theme of the story and the main character’s journey?

What would change, and what would stay the same? This is not always evident at first. Through all the versions of the script, some events, situations, characters in the novel will be lost, but at the same time, other elements that were not in the original story might be added for dramatic effect. Further changes will occur over the course of the shooting and editing of the film.

The old adage of filmmaking is true: “There is the film you write, the film you shoot, and the film you edit”.  A film is an evolving creative process, but that’s one of the things that for me makes filmmaking so exciting: you never really know what a film will be or look like until the end.

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Beginning, Middle, End

The first consideration is the structure of the film story, which may have to differ from the structure of the novel. Deciding on the best timeline for the events of the story in the film is the first thing to adapt. In film one wants to build the narrative and keep the audience guessing. Surprise is an important element of screenwriting—the twists and turns of the plot—and one of the devices that holds the attention of the viewer.

A novel also has to move forward, but doesn’t have to build on emotion in the same way as a film.  A film takes the audience on an emotional journey. The film must hold you in your seat in rapt attention for one sitting of 90 to 105 minutes. So the screenplay must be structured in such a way as to build towards a dramatic, emotional climax that is resolved by the end. The words on the page don’t need to do that. The book can be of interest and engaging but we can put it down and come back to it later.

For example, in The Metal Girl, one very important event in the development of the main character Charlotte happened in the early part of the novel. But in the screenplay “Metal Girl”, for dramatic purposes, I put off that moment, building up to that point later in the story. When the moment occurs in the film, the audience is ready for Charlotte’s emotional response, and it becomes a turning point for the development of her character and the arc of the story.

Characters—Subtracting and Adding

In the same way that the narrative structure may have to change, in the screenplay you may have to make changes with characters in the story, especially if there are a lot or there are many incidental characters.  For the reasons of character development, the story arc, and the time constraints of a film, incidental characters need to be kept to a minimum.  Some characters in the novel fell away because I didn’t need them as they weren’t a crucial part of the story.  In the novel they may have added another color in the development of the main character or to the texture of the story, but in the film they were unnecessary extra details.

One reason that some new characters may appear in the script is to move the narrative forward, as the film will have a different story arc than the novel. Also, one might add characters and scenes that don’t appear in the novel in order to translate internal thoughts into dialogue. For example, the novel The Metal Girl is written in the first person.  In fact, in the novel, the narrator doesn’t even have a name. Because the entire story is coming from her mind and also describes her feelings about situations that occur, I sometimes chose to create a character that didn’t exist in the book for her to interact with in order to turn her thoughts into dialogue and her internal emotional state into her responses to other people.

Keeping what works 

In spite of what I said above, sometimes what is written in the novel works perfectly well on screen. After all the film is based on the novel and you want to keep as much of the flavor of the original story as possible. In “Metal Girl” some of the dialogue in the screenplay comes directly from the  novel. Parts of the first person narrative in the book were used as voiceover in the screenplay. In the beginning of the film, we hear the main character Charlotte telling us about what we are seeing on screen as we watch the opening scenes unfold before she actually speaks in the film. Other scenes in the film were lifted directly as they were written in the novel. If it works, use it.

The End

The process of making a film, from pre- to post-production, typically takes one to two years. During that time the story has been guided by the director, writer, and producer with the collaborative efforts of the cinematographer and the entire creative team. Shooting every day is magical: how things come together on camera, what the performances will be. Putting the film together in post production—the editing and finishing process—is the final adventure.

Filmmaking is an unpredictable controlled chaos of creativity. At the end of this exciting, creative, and arduous process, you will have a film. The adapted screenplay will not be a replica of the novel, but hopefully will become a  film that is as special as the novel that inspired it.

Judy Sandra – Bio:

Judy Sandra is a director, writer, producer, and author. The screenplay “Metal Girl” is an adaptation of her coming-of-age novel The Metal Girl.  Judy has received four best screenplay award nominations for “Metal Girl”, including being honored as one of the three screenwriting finalists at the 2016 Nottingham International Film Festival, Nottingham, UK.

In 2016, she made her directorial debut with the comedy/fantasy short film  ”Angelito in Your Eye”.  Judy has received six international film award nominations for the short from international awards festivals, including for Best Comedy Short Film, Best Genre Film, and Best Actor.

LINKS:

Judy Sandra – Writer, Director, Producer
website: http://judysandra.com

The Metal Girl on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Metal-Girl-Judy-Sandra/dp/0578038781/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264541453&sr=1-5

Follow Judy and on Social Media:

Facebook:
Judy Sandra Director: https://www.facebook.com/JudySandraDirector
Metal Girl – Movie: https://www.facebook.com/MetalGirlMovie
The Metal Girl – Novel: https://www.facebook.com/TheMetalGirl

Twitter:
@judy_sandra

Instagram:
@judysandra7

 

© Judy Sandra 2017

New Book Series Coming Soon! Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.

Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

Creating Stories: The Uses Of Setting

Award-Winning Author Hank Quense

The story’s setting gives the readers a sense of time and location. This allows the readers to begin building images in their minds. The scene settings (which are subsets of the story setting) give additional image building information to the readers. But setting does much more than provide image building clues.
These uses are listed below.

1. The setting of the story should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter and this should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better. Ideally, this should be the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work. Is it a mystery set in Victorian London? Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq? Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth? The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible. Don’t disappoint the readers. They may put the book down and never open it again.

2. There are two types of setting in a story. First, there is the overall story setting and second there is the settings used in scenes. The scene settings are subsets of the story setting. For instance, if the story setting is the Sahara Desert, then scenes can be set on sand dunes, at an oasis, in a sand storm or at a deserted fort.

3. Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage. Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels. The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn’t have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.

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4. The setting used in your story has to be accurate. Don’t try to set a story in Manhattan’s Central Park if you haven’t been there. Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn’t be used by anyone who hasn’t walked the narrow streets.

5. On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can describe the area any way you want. If you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you’ll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can’t use St. Paul’s Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England. St Paul’s wasn’t built yet.

6. An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters. For the author, a space ship means he shouldn’t have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras. Your characters are also limited. A character in the Old West can’t have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he’s a time-traveler.

As you can see, the setting can have a major impact on the reader, especially if it isn’t handled correctly.

This article is based on material in my book Creating Stories.

© Hank Quense 2017

[NEW BOOK] Puppies: Surviving the First Six Months

Larry Neilson of Konfident Kanines Inc.

NEW BOOK coming soon to PPG from Larry Neilson of Konfident Kanines Inc. … Puppies: Surviving the First Six Months. Watch for details here.

Excerpt from the website http://www.konfidentkanines.com/:

Konfident Kanines does not dominate – We educate
 
Konfident Kanines adheres to a balanced training approach focused on establishing a reliable partnership between you and your dog that is founded on the building blocks of trust, respect confidence and loyalty.
 
KKI will guide you skillfully along a path that will lead to a lifelong partnership between you and your dog.
 
In order to coach you effectively we recognize that a large part of our responsibility is to direct you towards a better understanding of how dogs think and learn. At KKI we pride ourselves in our ability to teach others to communicate with their dog in a manner that makes sense not only to you, but to your dog as well.
 
KKI’s proven methodology will open the doorway to a whole new learning experience while you gain a new appreciation of why dogs behave in certain ways and more importantly, what role you may be playing in contributing to your dogs behaviour.
 
Our philosophy is deeply rooted in the belief that kindness is powerful and never weak. An effective balance of kindness, skill, and years of experience equates to a balanced and structured training philosophy geared towards uniting a dog and his handler.
 

How to Be Your Own Best Writer You Can Be

James Sale

When Kim Staflund, whose ‘How to Publish a Bestselling Book’ is a mini-masterpiece of useful information on the topic, invites you to do a blog for her pages, then you know you have a problem: what could you possibly write that could add to her readers’ knowledge or skill-set that is not already contained in her volume? There is so much she has done already; so perhaps my first piece of advice would be to go back and read her book! But the initial panic subsides when one realises that one isn’t trying to be Kim Staflund; on the contrary, everyone can become truly helpful to others when we just simply become authentic. What does that mean? It means in the first instance we need to address our own experience, and not try to come up with all the regular solutions that everyone else does. On that basis, then, I’d like to share with you some of my publishing experiences over a 35-year period, and to see whether this of use to you, dear reader.

First, so what are my publishing credentials for speaking at all on this matter? I am pleased to tell you that I have been both self-published, and also published by minor and major publishing houses. All my poetry collections (as opposed to individual poems, which have appeared in many magazines in the UK and the USA) have been self-published (check my The Lyre Speaks True: http://amzn.to/2t5L7iy), as have some management booklets, which have been done for marketing purposes within my core consultancy business (www.motivationalmaps.com). But alongside these, going back to 1984 when a 3-volume educational series of books were published by Macmillans, I have had over 30 books published by the likes of Nelson, Hodder and Stoughton, Longmans Folens, Stanley Thornes, Pearson, Courseware Publications, Gower and most latterly, Routledge. My book, York Notes: Macbeth (Pearson: http://amzn.to/2sdZQvu ) has been (and still is, though currently when I looked, ranked #2) an ongoing bestseller, and I have written 4 versions of the book over a 20-year span. Currently, following the sales success of my Mapping Motivation book for Gower (http://amzn.to/2s7iL6H ), I am under contract to Routledge to write 6 more book on aspects of motivation. So it is true to say that, whilst I am not a full-time professional writer, like many readers here perhaps aspire to be, I am a serious writer with a track record to match.

So what can I advise people? How can I help you become a better, more effective writer? I think the first thing I would say, and which is counter-intuitive to what many readers want, and even reasons for reading Kim’s magisterial work, is this: be really clear about why you are writing! This may sound obvious, but in my experience it is not. The trouble is, I think, that people see writing as an easy way to make money, or worse: simply they do it for money. And that – with many honourable exceptions – leads to dire writing; disposable writing; writing that is here today and gone tomorrow, even when it succeeds in its objective of making money.

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You see, once you get on the treadmill of I need to make money writing, then the marketing takes over the writing process; the writing for the market becomes more important than discovering yourself; the ‘it’s good enough’ attitude supplants the desire to – in that wonderful Eagles’ phrase – ‘take it to the limit’. What I am saying is, of course, very difficult in today’s world where the market dominates everything. But for me, writing is a special calling, and in two special ways.

The first is that writing is a process of discovery, self-discovery. We may intend to write a book about a particular topic, but true writing always reveals more than we thought we knew. In fact, it could truly be said that we don’t know what we think until we come to write it down. Second, the content and the writing itself are both forms of expertise – and becoming expert in both is what is critical. In this expertise there is a deep joy – one, in the element of words, is like a prime dolphin in the element of water, how wonderful to experience that mastery!

And here – as a seasoned consultant and business person – I can bring in my first true marketing point to help you. Namely, what the great American marketer Jay Abraham called the principle of ‘Pre-eminence’. I don’t write to make money; I write to become pre-eminent in the disciplines that I know and exercise. I want to be in the top 4% of poets, in the top 4% of management and motivation writers; these are my playing fields, and these are my objectives. So to establish this is not about simply how many copies of a book can I sell, and what percentage of the turnover do I keep (typically 100% in self-publication and 10% with major publishers); it is much more about my reputation and the collateral benefits that book writing provides. These collateral benefits are considerable; and have always been there in my life: ranging from giving me the edge in job interviews (in ye olden days before self-employment), attracting invitations to speak as prestigious events, facilitating consultancy assignments and etc. To give an example, only last week I was at Regents University in London at a conference called ‘5 Great Minds’, organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing; it was a day conference (https://www.cim.co.uk/event/83890/ ) with – guess what? – 5 speakers, all ‘great minds’ speaking, and I was one of them. Hype aside, that – THAT – is what is so valuable to my business and career, and writing enables it. And to be clear, I am all for making money – it’s just that writing books can lead to it indirectly (as well as directly), which is why clarity of purpose is so important.

Thus, given the above context, what do I recommend you do to develop your own writing business? What things have I done that have helped boost my reputation as a writer?

First, let’s deal with getting a publishing deal with a major publisher. What is my number one piece of advice? You need to go and find a way to meet the editor personally. That’s it. Like you, I have had hundreds of rejections from submitted manuscripts and proposals. But I have found that when I get out and go for it, and meet the relevant person at some event, and I don’t try to ‘sell’, but simply have a great chat and find out their interests and what they are doing, then – THEN – there is every chance the magic sentence can almost casually come out: “You know, I think I have something you might like’.  Boom! And they say, “Send me it – I can’t promise, but –”

Can you do that? Can you get out and meet that someone? And keep in mind, when you meet them, meeting per se is not enough. For the transaction to take place they need to: know you (hence you turn up), like you (are they going to, or are you going to be a pain?), and trust you (do you listen to them carefully, and are you going to follow through and do what you say?). My key books with Macmillan, Pearson, Gower and Routledge all occurred because I went out to meet the key decision maker, enjoyed their company, and as they liked me, so good books were born.

The question you might ask is: well, how do I meet them? Where will they be? The answer to that question is not as opaque as it might seem. In ye olden days of the ‘80s, things were trickier, but now you find on Twitter especially, but also Facebook and Linkedin, editors going on about conferences, book signings, writers events that they are going to attend all the time. They, too, remember, are in the market.

This leads on to my third point: developing expertise. In Kim’s wonderful book she has a great tip on overcoming writer’s block, but actually the tip is much more important than just writer’s block. She says, “The writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another author’s work often find they are more creative …” Yes, and often more expert too. We need to find not only authors who inspire us, but also what I call ‘home-bases’ – people or sites who share your values, who are aligned with what you do (Kim’s website is just such a place for writers generally) at the ‘field’ level. Learning and expertise through this can become so much deeper.

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What does this mean? It means that being a writer can be a lonely business and we need deep encouragement from others, and others who can support us on the way. Take my own ‘field’ of poetry for example. This is an extremely fragmented and disputatious field. One could never get published if one kept sending one’s work to ideologically-opposed magazine editors. So I identify ‘home bases’ where people are in sync with me, where I share values, and this is like a watering hole (one brilliant home for me is The Society of Classical Poets: http://classicalpoets.org. This is a place that values, especially, form and beauty; it doesn’t want poetry that says the world is a hellhole, there’s no hope, no form, and – hey, subtext coming up – aren’t I a clever little monster for observing all this rubbish; where’s my Pulizter?) So the question for you becomes: where are the value-friendly and vision-aligned publications where you can expect – if they know, like and trust you – to find a receptive audience? Go to work and project there!

My fourth point would be the importance of those two twins: reviewing and blogging. In between writing your actual books, and sometimes mining them for articles as ‘sneak peaks’ or ‘tasty teaser’ copy, there is the importance of contributing back. I really cannot emphasise this enough. Indeed, a subsidiary point arises: namely, it is better to engage in 2 or 3 marketing activities that you really understand and enjoy and ‘work’, rather than trying to deploy 25 techniques and tools from a dozen different marketing experts promising outstanding success if you just only do this … No, really getting behind one or two great ideas is where the meat is; or is the 80/20 Rule in action.

Reviewing is so important because you learn from the books you review, you alert others to them, and critically you demonstrate your expertise. Finally, reviewing can also lead to your making invaluable and prestigious contacts. This is so important. I myself through this process have only just this week been contacted by a leading academic at a top-notch New York university about a project. This is someone I could not have accessed, probably, through any other mechanism, but now it’s happening. And remember, when you support others, they are much more likely to support you; and if they don’t, no matter, move on, and be a moving target. So where are you reviewing? And there’s the thing; it’s rather like publication – think of the self-publication where anyone can start, and also think of the more prestigious magazines where one might gain a foothold. So, to use myself as an example, I regularly review on spiritual and healing matters for the Quaker print magazine, Towards Wholeness (http://bit.ly/2t6busx) and also have now become an official poetry reviewer for The Society of Classical Poets. On top of this I am an active re-purposer! My management blogs I present first on my Linkedin page (http://bit.ly/2t6busx) but then I re-use them on my personal blogging site on Typepad (http://bit.ly/2t6jGZA), so that they can appear fresh a week or a month later; also, I have spent a long time building up credibility on ezine.com, so that now I am a ‘Diamond’ author for them and get top priority with my posts (http://bit.ly/2s6vBC4). There are so many outlets out there, and here’s the thing; they really are desperate for high quality content because – why? – there is so much low quality content around! This is either because the writer cannot really write, or because they are simply peddling clichés and jargon, the sort of stuff you can find anywhere. But if you are a real writer, if you have followed Kim Staflund’s advice, if you are adopting the strategy of ‘pre-eminence’ as I mentioned earlier, then you are exactly the kind of person that editors are looking for: your writing can be a game changer for so many other people, and in the end quality counts. So to return to my earlier point, it’s counting the quality first, and then the money follows, rather than trying to count the money, never mind the quality.

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So what is true of reviews is true of blog and blogging: you demonstrate what you know. And here again is another important principle in action that needs to be fully grasped, embraced even. Namely, the key point of blogging is to give away free and significant information – note, to give away. This means, then, what not to do: not to act like some consultant who has key information regarding a solution to a pressing problem, but only hints that they have the solution, and that you will have to contact them – and pay – to get the full works. People hate this niggardly sort of transaction; and not only that it always reveals, in my view, that the author has a very limited set of ideas, which is why they are so parsimoniously doling them out. When you are a deep-knowledge worker/writer you can give away a 100, a 1000 ideas for free, why? Because you really do have the abundance mentality; you understand that in the world of ideas, everything is limitless – there are 10,000 more and that the human mind the more expert it becomes, the more it realises the more there is to comprehend, and the more driven it is to encompass just such further knowledge. Thus, there will always be more! As the Dalai Lama said: “Generosity gives rise to a creative mind”. You are fueling yourself when you give to others: awesome or what?

These, then, are some core ideas that have emerged for me as I have pursued my writing career and am now a senior in the digital age! But I don’t yearn for the good old days. Yes, they were good, but I think things are even better now precisely because of the ability of writers to determine more of their own destinies; we can produce, we can distribute, we can market, much more easily; and we can keep the rewards of our labours. But that doesn’t mean self-publication is the only choice. As I said at the beginning, be clear about what you want to achieve from your writing. Be open, then, and be flexible; look for opportunities, especially in the form of good contacts. Give to others and commit to the work. There is a deep joy and calling in being a writer, so now seize that moment and get your stuff out there! I hope some of you may let me know how successful you have been following some of these ideas.

MAPPING MOTIVATION  by James Sale for Routledge on Amazon

The Lyre Speaks True by James Sale

www.jamessale.co.uk

www.motivationalmaps.com

James Sale on Linkedin

© James Sale 2017