Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

A Non-Fiction Self-Published Author Success Story with Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph, Bestselling Non-Fiction Author on Amazon

4 measly eBooks.

In 4 months.

I was floored.

After becoming overwhelmed with a sense of excitement about writing and self-publishing my first eBook, I failed miserably.

A good friend nudged me to write an eBook. I had resisted my own inner pull and advice from friends for years.

I bought a domain, churned out the eBook and sold 1 each month before I trashed my site and eBook in a fit of complete frustration, anger and anguish.

3 years later I have written and self-published 126 bite-sized non-fiction eBooks. A few of my eBooks became Amazon best sellers. I even ghost wrote an Amazon best selling ebook which netted tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

How did I make the transition from struggling self publisher to rocking self-publishing machine?

I followed a few basic steps to right myself.

1: I Got Clear on Why I Wrote and Self-Published eBooks

I honestly saw my first eBook launch for what it was: I primarily wanted to make quick money.

I did self-publish a helpful eBook. I also chose a relatively unknown platform through which I sold the eBook.

I was heavily focused on getting profits so I gave little thought to the eBook title, my marketing strategy and the problem I solved through the eBook.

Worst of all, I had no specific reader in mind before I brainstormed, outlined and wrote the eBook.

I learned my lesson for the Blogging From Paradise eBook series. I wrote these eBooks mainly because I enjoyed writing. I also visualized a specific reader in mind before contemplating eBook titles and outlines.

Get hyper clear on why you want to be a self-published author. Tie the reason to something fun and freeing. Get your energy right to build your self-publishing campaign on a solid foundation.




2: I Wrote What I Knew

I’ve had self-publishing success by writing 6,000 to 15,000 word, short and punchy reads on topics I know inside-out. I address specific problems suffered by my blog readers to match my passion and know-how with reader pain points.

Unless you are writing an in-depth, heavily researched eBook I suggest you cover familiar topics to confidently self-publish eBooks.

My creative process: I brainstorm eBook titles based on reader problems, create titles solutions to address those problems, outline eBooks and write the eBook chapter by chapter.

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3: I Became Comfortable Writing in My Distinct Voice

Purists may cringe after reading my blog posts and eBooks.

I am not a polished author.

But I also have circled the globe over the past 6 years as a world traveling blogger and Amazon bestselling author.

I feel comfortable writing how Ryan Biddulph writes. Even if this means turning off writing purists.

My eBook How to Find Your Writing Voice is the top ranked eBook from its category on all of Amazon.

All 49 customer reviews are 5 star reviews because I give readers permission to write best sellers on Amazon in their own unique, authentic voice, even if this writing style is unpolished.

Write 1000 words daily in a Word document for practice. Trash the document after you reach your daily word count. Feel comfortable with your writing style. Position yourself for a successful non-fiction self-publishing career.

4: I Found My Niche

My readers would become bored reading a 30,000 word eBook on blogging.

They prefer a 6,000 to 15,000 word pillar style blog post masquerading as a pillar style post.

My readers also enjoy shopping from a wide range of eBooks on a variety of blogging and travel-themed topics.

I wrote 126 eBooks to follow James Altucher’s advice: “The best way to promote your current book is to write your next eBook.”




5: I Built a Community

Struggling self-publishing authors tend to worry about how or where to find readers.

I decided to embody this quote well before I considered self-publishing.

“The wealthiest people on earth look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki

I patiently and persistently built a friend network of blogging tips and travel bloggers by promoting them, endorsing them and featuring them on my blog.

My patience paid off.

Since I looked for and built a friend network my blogging buddies help to build momentum behind my eBook promotional blitzes. Many of my blogging buddies purchase and review my eBooks too.

Build your readership by promoting top authors in your writing niche. If you are an author blogger, promote top bloggers in your niche. Co-promote one another to build large, loyal, supportive communities.

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6: I Built a Blog and Email List

I helped people with their blogging problems through my blog.

I built strong bonds with my readers through my email list.

My readers expect a helpful blogging eBook delivered to their email inbox every other Friday.

Start blogging through a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Grow your email list to stay in touch with your readers.

Use these 2 tools to help folks for free and to announce new eBook releases.

7: I Used Free Promotions to Boost Sales and Reviews

I sometimes use free promotions to increase eBook sales and reviews.

Giving eBooks away gratis is a generous way to increase your exposure.

Create a buzz around your eBooks by giving your creations away for free on the release date.

8: I Created Authentic, Rough and Ready eBook Covers

When I think of how much money I paid to design my eBook covers I have probably spent more than James Patterson, Lee Child and George R.R. Martin combined.

I personally photographed every one of my eBook cover backgrounds in exotic places like Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica. Add up my plane ticket costs and you quickly see what I mean.

I chose to be ruthlessly particular in all things branding. The Blogging From Paradise logo graces all of my eBook covers. Factor in my pictures from paradise and you have an authentic experience for any of my eBook readers.

These rough and ready, simple, clean covers deviate from normal eBook cover design but I always intended to differentiate myself and my brand from the average eBook author.

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My #1 Piece of Advice for Aspiring Self-Publishers

You need to love writing to get through the ups and downs of being a self-publishing author.

If you feel passionate about self-publishing an eBook write 1000 words or more daily for practice. Make writing as habitual to you as breathing.

Have fun writing. Even if you’re a non-fiction author let your imagination run wild. Develop a daily writing habit.

Hone your skills, enjoy the ride, build your reader base and you too can become a successful non-fiction writer.

Amazon eBook Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ryan-Biddulph/e/B00MWC59RS/

Website: https://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/

© Ryan Biddulph 2017

An Overview of Story Creation

Award-Winning Author Hank Quense

Let’s assume you are a new (or inexperienced) fiction writer.  You probably know that creating a story requires a great deal of work and thinking.  You may not know that the work involved is the same whether you are creating a short story, a novel, a play, a script or even a memoir.

“How can that be?” you ask.  Simply because a novel, a script, a memoir, a play, a short story are all stories.  And no matter what type of story you have in mind, each requires a number of common elements such as characters, plots, scenes, settings, character arcs and more.

The only difference between these types of stories is the output.  What the manuscript looks like, in other words.  The manuscripts for a novel and for a play will look very different, but the process of creating those manuscripts is exactly the same.

Let’s put that issue aside and discuss a different topic.  Stories are the result of three separate creative processes:

  • Ideas
  • Story design
  • Storytelling techniques

Let’s discuss each one of these processes.

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1. Ideas

A mistake many rookie writers make is to start writing a story when they have only a single idea.  While a single idea can be the genesis of a story, no story can be written from a single idea.  A short story needs perhaps a dozen ideas while a novel requires many more than a hundred ideas.  The writer needs ideas about the character development, plot events, the setting, the character arc and the scene designs.  To gather all these ideas requires time and a great deal of thinking.  This is where a notebook (a real one or a digital one) comes in handy.  You never know when a great idea when pop into your head.

2. Story Design

What is story design?  It’s the process of developing all the story elements such as characters, plot events and so forth.  To put it another way, story design is the where the writer incorporates all these ideas into the story.

I’m a planner (as opposed to a panster) so I spend a lot of time on story design before I attempt to write the first draft.  In most cases the story design process for a novel consumes three months or more.  A major portion of this time is spent on determining the scenes I need to get the characters from the start of the story to the climactic scenes at the end.

3. Storytelling

No matter how great your ideas are and no matter wonderful your story design is, if you don’t have the storytelling skills to hold the reader’s attention, your story is doomed.  Storytelling involves the use of a number of techniques that include point-of-view, foreshadowing, show-don’t-tell, stimulus & reaction, dialog vs exposition among other topics.




One storytelling skill that isn’t discussed much in writing books is the development of a writing voice.  Writers can’t tell a story by using their speaking voice: they have to develop a separate and distinct writing voice.  The reason for this is that our speaking voice tends to be boring.  Very boring.  Want proof?  Eavesdrop on the conversation between a few strangers.  I’ll bet you it won’t hold your interest for long.  So imagine trying to read a story written in a speaking voice.

I believe that once a writer understands the creative processes required to produce a story, the work can go forward more easily and more smoothly.

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

© Hank Quense 2017

Common Formatting Issues in Microsoft Word: Four Easy Tips for Authors

Lynette M. Smith

Basic formatting knowledge will serve you well throughout your writing career. If you perform some types of basic formatting on your manuscript, you’ll not only prevent distractions as you focus on quality writing, but you’ll likely save money too. Here’s why.

Formatting errors and inconsistencies that remain in your manuscript will distract your copyeditor from performing high quality work while reading. A smart copyeditor scrubs (basic-formats) the manuscript before starting to read, but you’re billed for that time. Even if you tell your copyeditor to disregard the formatting, your book-layout professional will have to resolve these problems later on, and you’ll still be billed for that time.

Figure 1

Here are four common manuscript-formatting issues and how you can address them.

1. First-Line Paragraph Indents

The wrong way: Use the tab key or type a series of blank spaces.

The right way to change only one paragraph indent: Go to the Paragraph window (see Figure 1), click the down arrow, and select First line from the resulting pull-down menu. Then use the vertical arrows to select your preferred amount of indent (either the 0.5” default or something smaller, such as 0.3”, or manually type in a more precise measurement, such as 0.25”).

Figure 2

The right way to change all paragraphs that use the Normal style: Click on the Home ribbon tab. Right-click the Normal style and select Modify to open the Modify Style window (see Figure 2). Here, you can customize the font and font size, and many other options.

When you click the Format button in the lower left corner of that window, you’ll see a pull-down menu with several options; left-click on Paragraph, and the familiar Paragraph window will appear; there you can select First line indent and the amount of indent, plus change other settings, like type of Justification (left vs. full), line spacing, points of extra space below each Normal paragraph, etc. When you finish customizing the settings in the Paragraph window, click OK to return to the Modify Style window.

Once back in the Modify Style window, make sure the radio-button “Only in this document” (located just above the Format button) is selected; then click OK to close the Modify Style window.

Note: In your document later on, you can override this indent for an individual paragraph, such as the first paragraph of a chapter or the first paragraph after a hiatus in a novel. Simply click once in that paragraph, access the regular Paragraph window, and change “First line” to “None.”

Figure 3

2. Spacing between Sentences and Words and after Colons

The wrong way: Type two spaces between sentences, after colons, or anywhere else.

The right way: When you finish your final draft, go to the far right-hand side of the Home ribbon tab and click Replace (within the Editing section) to open the Find and Replace window (see Figure 3). In the “Find what” box, type two spaces (press the space bar twice). In the “Replace with” box, type one space (press the space bar once). Then click Replace All, as circled in Figure 3. Repeat as needed until no occurrences of two spaces remain. (This process also corrects the accidental typing of two spaces between a pair of words.)

Figure 4

3. Horizontal Centering of Titles

The wrong way: Use a combination of spaces and tabs to horizontally center text.

The right way: Left-click once anywhere on the line or paragraph or graphic you wish to center. Then, on the Home ribbon tab, click the icon circled in Figure 4 to center what you’ve selected.

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4. Starting a New Page

The wrong way: Press the Enter key repeatedly until the desired text is forced to the top of the next page. The problem with this technique is that, if you later insert or delete text on an earlier page, then the line of text you intended for the top of the new page with will have moved either further down the page or to the bottom of the previous page, forcing you to spend extra time making adjustments—and you’ll likely have to adjust every subsequent chapter too!

The right way: Instead of inserting all those blank lines, insert a manual page break between chapters and/or sections. Here’s how: At the end of your chapter or other major section where you want to begin a new page, strike Control-Enter to insert the manual page break. Your cursor will then be at the top of the next page, where you can type your next chapter heading and content.

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When you follow these tips, your formatting will be clean and easy to work with, you can focus better on quality writing, and you can reduce your costs for copyediting and book layout.

________________________

Lynette M. Smith works with book authors on their manuscript copyediting and book-layout proofreading in her long-established business, All My Best Copyediting and Heartfelt Publishing (AllMyBest.com). She is also the published author of the popular 40-page handbook, 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors, as well as the award-winning comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special. Contact Lynette through her copyediting website, publishing website, or email , and follow her on LinkedIn and Facebook.

© Lynette M. Smith 2017



Ten Things I’ve Learned Writing Novels

Award-Winning Author Trace Conger

I published my first novel, The Shadow Broker, in October of 2014. It was a fascinating experience. Since then, I’ve published three additional novels and numerous short stories. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about the process of writing and marketing.

Your mileage may vary, but here are a few insights to noodle:

1. Writing a novel is only as intimidating as you make it. Starting a novel is like holding your newborn for the first time. You’re a bit freaked out thinking about your newfound responsibilities of raising a living, breathing human being. Taking on a novel can feel the same way, but it’s only as bad as you make it out to be. Take it one word or one page at a time, and one day you’ll wake up with an 80,000-word novel.

2. Outlines make the process easier. Other writers will debate this, but for me creating an outline kept me on track. I create a brief outline for each chapter, including no more detail than can fit on one side of an index card. After I have the story fleshed out, I sit down with my stack of cards and write each scene or chapter. Yes, the story changes. Yes, you’ll throw away some of your ideas or characters, but having a roadmap will help you get to your destination, even if you take a few detours along the way.

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3. It takes time. I’ve heard countless stories of indie authors pumping out three or more books each year. I don’t/can’t do that. While I’m not going to insinuate that these prolific authors are sacrificing quality for quantity, I will say that if you rush the product, your quality will suffer. Focus on creating a quality product. If you can write multiple quality books per year, fantastic, but if you can’t, then don’t.

4. Your worst critic is you. I can’t remember a time in my life when I experienced more self-doubt than when I was writing my first novel. Every author has that voice in their head that tells them they’re a hack, their work isn’t any good, they’ll fail miserably, or they’re wasting their time. I haven’t figured out a way to silence this inner critic, but I have learned to tell him to get lost.

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5. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s all bull. Writer’s block is an excuse authors tell themselves when they can’t produce. Maybe it’s a slow idea day, or the words aren’t coming as fast as they did yesterday. Doesn’t matter. Put your butt in the chair and write. Even if you feel like you’re walking through quicksand. Move forward, one step (or word) at a time, and you’ll make it to the other side. I promise.

6. Marketing is hard. You think writing a novel is hard? Wait until you have to market it. Even if you sign a big deal with a publisher, you’re going to have to promote your book. Get comfortable with the idea, even if you aren’t. Get comfortable talking about it, contacting the media, researching book blogs, responding to readers, hosting signings, doing interviews, and writing blog posts (like this one) to support your work.

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7. You’ll become obsessed with metrics. You’ll spend hours Googling yourself, watching your sales, scrutinizing your Amazon author ranking, and stalking your reviews. Then one day you’ll realize you’re wasting your time and you’ll get back to work.

8. Your friends won’t buy your book. Some of them will, but most won’t. Most of your friends don’t read. Maybe because they prefer to spend what little free time they have binging on Netflix. Or maybe you just have crappy friends. Either way, don’t expect them to buy your book but do expect them to lie and say they will.

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9. You have to field lots of questions. Once people discover you’ve written a novel, they’ll throw every question imaginable at you. Who’s your publisher? How did you get your agent? Did you get an advance? What’s your book about? How long did it take you to write it? Where can I buy it? Where do you get your ideas? Can I be a character in your next book? Listen to every question, even the stupid ones, and answer with a smile. Everyone is a potential customer.

10. Authors are an incredibly supportive bunch. Maybe it’s because they’ve been in your shoes or understand your struggle, but authors are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. Two huge authors, Joe R. Lansdale and Jonathan Maberry, gave me incredible advice (even if they don’t remember doing it). Don’t be afraid to reach out to authors you admire. Ask questions and listen to their advice. You’ll be surprised at how accessible and helpful they can be.

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Bonus insight: There is a ton of horrible advice out there. I stalk the popular forums from time to time and am always amazed at some of the horrible advice that I see. One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was to publish your first draft to “get it out there” and then use reader review comments to identify weaknesses and revise your next draft. Are you kidding me? Scrutinize all advice and carefully consider who is dishing it out. I’m not advocating only looking to best-selling authors for advice (there’s great advice out there from authors at all levels) just make sure it passes the sniff test before you stake your reputation on it.

Trace Conger is an award-winning author in the crime, thriller and suspense genres. His Mr. Finn series follows disgraced private investigator Finn Harding as he straddles the fine line between investigator and criminal. Find out more at www.traceconger.com.

© Trace Conger 2017



Finding Forrester

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

The existence of a movie — any movie — about the topic of writing is surprising enough. But for it to actually be a good movie? Wow.

I taught Advanced English Writing in several universities in China from 2002 through 2006. Showing this movie became an integral part of those classes, because so many of its themes are identical to what I was trying to teach. I was happy to watch it over a dozen times with my students, and lecture about it in a style more Robin Williams than F. Murray Abraham.

But all these years later, will I still think it’s a good movie? Let’s find out.

We begin by meeting Jamal, the student who hides his intelligence in order to fit in. Fair enough.

Jamal is also a writer who hides his writing. Do they still exist?

Sean Connery is William Forrester, the reclusive genius of a writer.

Jamal is writing all the time. By hand. He’s constantly practicing his basketball. He’s constantly practicing his writing. That’s how a person gets to be the best he’s able to be at either pursuit. Or any pursuit. So if you’re not writing every day, listen to Sean Connery and Rob Brown. Write every day. You’re never going to write like Shakespeare or shoot hoops like Michael Jordan, but if you write every day, you’ll get better at it than you are now. Unused potential is worse than lack of potential, because the former is a choice.

Jamal and Forrester are both obsessed with reading. As writers must be. Jamal snoops in Forrester’s shelves both to learn about him and for suggestions. I already know you’re reading every day. Aren’t you? How many times have I said it? If you don’t enjoy reading, you can’t write something that somebody else enjoys reading.

Jamal: “You read all these?” 
Forrester: “No, I keep them to impress all my visitors.”

Amusing because Forrester’s an agoraphobe whose only visitor is the guy bringing his royalty checks and his groceries. (Wouldn’t you love to be an author living well on royalty checks for something you wrote 30 years ago?) But also a chance for me to riff on people who keep all the books they’ve ever read shelved at home. You know how much I love the written word. But Goodreads tells me that in the past three years alone I’ve read over 1000 books. Why would I keep them? I’m not going to read them all again. (Just the five-star books.) I do love a library, but I choose not to own one. I know where they are.

Jamal gets his writing notebooks back from “Window,” that strange old dude who we don’t know is Sean Connery because we haven’t seen his picture on every movie poster ever made. And what has this man of mystery added to the notebooks? Honest feedback. It’s not all kind. Not even close, actually. Brutally honest. That’s what we all need. And if we’re mature, it’s also what we want, because this helps us improve. Jamal’s first reaction was negative, but the next day, he’s knocking on the door. He says: “I was wondering if I could bring you more of my stuff.”




Finally, Jamal reads a book by Forrester. When Forrester gets the book back, he says, “Christ, you’ve dog-eared one of them. Show a little respect for the author.” I say screw the author. Have a little respect for the next reader. Don’t vandalize your books.

In the film, Forrester wrote one book. It won a Pulitzer. He reacted to a mix of critical praise and personal tragedy by not publishing another one. I don’t think you have to be an author to enjoy the pot shots he takes at critics.

Forrester: “I know what it is. The last thing I need is another person telling me what they think it is.”

I know the feeling.

Forrester: “Critics spend a day destroying what they couldn’t create in a lifetime.”

True.

Jamal: “What’s it feel like?” 
Forrester: “What?” 
Jamal: “Writing something the way you did.” 
Forrester: “Perhaps you’ll find out.”

I like that little exchange because, while I remember what it felt like to write at my very best, I’ll be damned if I can explain it to you. Write your own books and you’ll find out for yourself.

Jamal: “Did you ever read your own writing?” 
Forrester: “In public? Hell no. I barely read it in private.”

I used to say things like that all the time. But I did finally reread all fourteen of my published books last year. In private. Not bad, Michael. Not bad at all. Oh, and they’re better “inside proper covers and everything,” just like the author’s wife noted in the second Robert Galbraith novel. Don’t act like she’s weird for waiting.

[It’s eighteen books now. When the hell did I write this movie review?]




Forrester: “A lot of writers know the rules about writing, but they don’t know how to write.”

We know it’s true. But let me add that the writers who don’t even know the rules are screwed. You need not obey the rules. But you do need to know them. I break writing rules all the time, but never out of simple ignorance.

Clever dialogue about starting a sentence with a conjunction. Who knew such things were possible?

Forrester just sits at a manual typewriter and immediately starts writing. Jamal likes to think first. So do I. Hell, I’ve even used an outline once or twice. Also, I start with pen and paper or (more often) computer keyboard. Not a typewriter.

Forrester: “No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

I’ve used freewriting in class and given it a spot in my textbook. It’s a good technique, and I’ve seen a lot of students surprise themselves with the results. But I’ve also never written anything publishable that way. Blogable, perhaps. I do agree with the heart/head thing, of course.

Using other authors for inspiration can be a complex issue. Plain old stealing is wrong, but even the most original thinkers seek inspiration. The movie finally moves its dramatic conflict into high gear by examining all that. It was probably a bit predictable the first time I watched it. It was certainly predictable the fifteenth or twentieth time I watched it. But it still works. It’s still powerful, moving, and five-star all the way.

Enjoy!

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

STORY: How to Weave the Thread of Theme Into Your Writing

Mel Menzies

Story has existed since the beginning of time.  It is endemic to human nature, and is evident in cave-art (yes, it may be painting or carving but it’s there to tell a story), legend, folklore and mythology, the Bible, fairy tales and biography, drama, newspaper reports and novels.  But I wonder whether those of us who seek to write either fiction or memoir, truly understand the importance of its effect on human behaviour?  Let me explain.

THE EFFECT OF STORY ON READERS

Shortly before starting my Evie Adams’ series of mystery novels, I woke one morning with the following statement ringing in my head: Entertain your readers so that they will absorb truths they might otherwise resist.

Think about it.  Morality and duty to society are stated as key themes of Jane Austen’s novels.  True to the era in which she lived, she could have written on these subjects in a didactic, non-fictional manner, with the aim of teaching her readers how they might better behave.   Had she done so, however, I somewhat doubt that her books would have survived the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.  Yet survive – no, thrive – they do.  Precisely because she chose to convey these themes through the actions, dialogue and inner stream of consciousness of her characters, in response to the circumstances they encountered.




THE NATURE OF THEME

So what, exactly, is theme?  And how do we go about choosing it?

  1. Theme is the one word, or sentence, which characterises the reason for the book having been written, and its narrative.
  2. Theme might thus be described as the motive for your book; the message you wish to convey to your readers.
  3. Theme, for example, may be expressed as: forgiveness; destruction wrought by ambition; unrequited love; repentance; turning a self-centred life into a life which serves others, and so on.

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Thus, the story of a marital breakdown might focus on forgiveness as its theme.  Husband shoves wife aside and marches from room.  She falls and is injured.  The physical and mental trauma she experiences in hospital would be portrayed as a battle of will and emotion, in which pain, bitterness and anger would, naturally, rise to the surface.  Compassion, understanding, and empathy for the protagonist would be the obvious response in readers, whether or not they have shared similar life events themselves.

Adding to the conflict of the events the victim has experienced, and the feelings they’ve aroused, her sister is insisting that she takes legal action against her husband.   But what if the wife then searches her inner self and realises that she had some part in provoking the argument?  What if she catches herself out by recalling a similar event in her childhood, when she was, in fact, the perpetrator?  How, she asks, can she live with herself, harbouring bitterness and hatred, when she knows herself to be fallible?

As she goes through the inner arguments, and conveys them to her sister through dialogue, so, too, does the reader.  The story and theme play out in his or her imagination.  Until a decision is reached.  The denouement – the wife’s forgiveness of her husband, plus his remorse – leads to reconciliation.  To mutual happiness.  And to hope for a better future.

STORIES THAT DO MORE THAN ENTERTAIN

Your reader finishes the book feeling more than entertained.  His or her future attitude and actions have been influenced by osmosis.  You will have aroused questions in his or her mind; stirred up memories of relevant past events; perhaps, even, a determination to right a wrong.  They will have no need to be instructed in morality or clemency.  They’ve seen it for themselves.  And hopefully, they will have taken it on board.

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The story you have written, whether biographical or fiction, will have left your readers with a lasting impact.  Lives, behaviour and attitudes will have been changed.  Just think!  You’ll be more than simply a writer or an author.  As a lady who read my novel, Time to Shine, said to me: ‘That was a life-changer.’

***

Twice a wife, three times a mum, and seven times a grandma, I’ve been a multi-published author (under several nom de plume) since the 1980’s, with a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller published by Hodder & Stoughton.  I’ve been a keynote speaker at conferences, led workshops, and taken part in radio and TV debates, panels and phone-ins.

My latest series of novels – family dramas with a page-turning mystery solved, not by a detective but by a counsellor – are set in Exeter and Dartmouth, and are available from Waterstones or any good bookshop, Amazon,  or at discount via PayPal, from my book page www.melmenzies.co.uk/books.  All proceeds are for charity.

‘This novel not only entertains, it inspires,’ says author, Pam Rhodes.

What I like about Mel’s writing,’ says Devon Life reviewer, Annette Shaw, ‘is that she explores issues and problems we all face.’


© Mel Menzies 2017

NEXT TIME: Story: Planning Your Plot



[R. A. Jordan] The Journey of The Unknown Author

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Hello: I’m Robert A Jordan, that would be R.A Jordan on Amazon/Kindle. I’m writing here today due to a chance encounter with Kim Staflund on Quora. Kim was looking for a guest blogger there, I was coming off of my last free day of an e-book give away I had done. I agreed to do a guest blog for Kim, as I was intrigued with having found someone on Quora kind of doing the same thing I was doing there. No matter what one may coin it, and although it was 2 separate entities, me with books, her with guest blogging, we were both marketing to some degree! I’m there marketing for a reason, I truly am the unknown author. Kim is there for another reason, she truly is the ass busting type of entrepreneur it seemingly takes in this digital age of book publishing, or, it least that’s my assessment of her. After a couple of Quora chats, I went and checked her out on her Polished Publishing Group site(PPG, from here out) and thought wow! It could be beneficial for me to do this guest blog for her, so with that being stated here I am.

As I stated above, I am at this point an unknown author. I did everything backward, and learned as I went. I might should’ve encountered PPG sooner, it does look like they offer a lot of services that would truly benefit one such as myself. Basically my journey began a while back, but as far as publishing, that started at the end of January. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I wanted to write books, it slowly evolved as a result of let downs and failures. I was a career construction guy, I now have a slight disability that hinders my ability to perform that kind of work. I’m an avid music person, I love music! I attempt to play guitar & piano, but what I think I have a knack for is telling musical tales. In a nutshell, I’m writing short stories in verse, that are written as songs, and without sounding biased, tell a pretty interesting story. This is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years, and I never thought much about it. I could tell you some funny stories, where this little ability of mine actually helped me get through more than one college class, and a lot more, but I’ll stick to the story at hand “The Journey of The Unknown Author”. I’m writing these songs, and approaching people to play them or help me arrange them. This piques some curiosity, but it never develops into anything meaningful. More or less the end result of my brush with the music folks, was a lack of interest (like they had better things to do). The thing was they wouldn’t say no, they would just string me out, and let me figure that part out. This is what led me to become the unknown author, not exactly a position in life one should aspire for, but for me it kind of happened.




Thus begins The Journey! I’m sitting on all these little tales I’ve written. I’m actually crazy enough to send them to the bigger wigs in the Music Industry, hence the title of one of my books is “Unsolicited”. Taylor Swift’s lawyer was kind enough to send me a rejection letter along the lines of unsolicited. Interesting term! if you’re a fledgling author, and you’re querying Literary Agents, you could be apt to becoming familiar with that term as well. I also received a very kind letter from National Geographic telling me that they keep tabs on Sharbat Gula, and are helping her out financially. I wrote a song about her and called it “ Afghan Cover Girl”, I was attempting to bring their attention to her situation by mailing a copy to them. Do you remember the little girl from Afghanistan who graced the cover of National Geographic back in “85”? and then went on to grace the covers 3 more times? That was Sharbut Gula, that’s a different story though. I wrote one about Paul Walker that I thought would blend in well with the next Fast & Furious movie, that one was sent to Vin Diesel’s lawyer, I never heard back on that one, the movie was released last month. Long story short, I’m getting nowhere doing this direct approach to people’s lawyer’s and agents. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’m becoming aware of how the publishing industry is going the way of the music industry. Here comes the birth of mistake # 1!

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I take 102 of those little stories, copyright them, and publish them with Kindle. The act of publishing isn’t the mistake, the mistake is publishing too many at one time, and there’s a couple in there I would like to have back. Out of 102, there’s probably 90 to 95, that are worthy, the other half dozen or so, could’ve used a little more attention(some strong language), hey, it was my first one, and it was unplanned! Or at least that’s my excuse. I say it was too long, because I’m guessing it probably gets redundant in the manner of being written in verse. What have I done? I thought I had something for the music world! In my mind, based on what I’m hearing played on the airwaves, I’ve got some good stuff that’s going to waste, if I don’t get it out there! That’s the thought process behind publishing songs in book form for me. I have no platform what so ever, and now the fun begins. I remember looking at numbers and stats and things of that nature, I’m thinking wow, there’s almost a billion English speaking folks in the world, I only need a small percentage of those to read or purchase my book. Needless to say I did not realize the vastness of the Kindle Sea. I changed the cover, I changed the price, I put it on Craig’s List a few times, and have given it away on 2 separate occasions. Then I wrote 2 more, and put them out there, and I’m currently working on the 4th, which I hope to have out in a couple of weeks. In between all this, I have these little e-books on places like Goodreads and Booksie, and I’m on Song Stuff as well. At the moment none of that is working out in regards to book sales, but I keep writing. My desk is littered with all these little 1 and 2 liners that cross my mind at random times. I look at it like this, as long as those little 1 and 2 liners keep crossing my mind, I’ll keep writing, as those are where my little stories are coming from. I’m pretty certain I have a couple of hits in the mix, it’s a matter of getting it to the right folks. I’m more than likely going to have to do a couple myself, to give someone an idea of what they’re supposed to sound like. In the meantime as stated, they make for amusing stories, and given their short nature, I would think they would adapt pretty well to Kindle and like devices.

In case someone’s not getting it, for me book sales have been very ugly, and I’ve elaborated a little, on some things I’ve tried, to boost my sales. It seems like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I have, and I do have to keep that in mind, I’ve only been On Kindle for a few months, and have no platform. Roughly between formatting to Kindle (Nick Caya at Word 2 Kindle) has been a good source for that, and copyrighting through The Library of Congress, I haven’t spent that much money. I’ve since spent a few bucks on a web/blog site, something I feel is needed to further push my little endeavor, I’m also getting ready to go YouTube with it.




Let me throw this out there, before I go any further, I’m a guy who really isn’t too adept with computers, I’m learning all this as I go. All this digital stuff I wasn’t too keen on just a year ago, but I see where things are going (even have a song about that as well) and definitely need to learn. I’m doing all this with no money, and my lack of sales probably reflect that. If you have a budget, I would talk to Kim at PPG and see if she can assist you. Kim didn’t know I was going to turn this into a plug for her and PPG. I did so because I’m thinking of how much easier, and how much more I could’ve written had I not been encumbered with the raw marketing aspect of this. I’m on 4 different book sites, and they all talk about how tough it is out there in the land of self publishing. What’s going to make your writing stand out from the rest? What makes it unique? How are you going to interest someone in picking your work out of the masses to get noticed to begin with? I’ve never worked with PPG in that manner, but having researched them a little, I would say that’s where Kim would be worth her weight in gold. In a way, I’m lucky, in the manner that I might could actually market my wares as songs or poems or short stories. I might could tap 3 different markets that way, but I might also anger someone in the process, so I describe them as what they are. If you’re writing SciFi or Romance novels what distinguishes yours from the rest in the vast sea? I think some of these are good questions to ask yourself, if you’re straddling the self publishing fence.

To anyone paying attention, you’ll notice I’ve not mentioned social media other than YouTube. I have nothing against them, I’m just not there yet. My take on social media is I’m not sure how I could use Facebook, I’m not that kind of person. LinkedIn I definitely could and will, then I have some strange ideas about putting Tweeter to work for me (I’ve never used Tweeter in my life), I call it fishing on the Tweeter Sea, and it involves my site being set up completely first. There’s so much more stuff out there, that I’m not even aware of, Welcome to the Digital Age, one of my books is more or less about that, only one song in that one.

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To sum this up “The Journey of The Unknown Author” is a little bit of an arduous journey, if one is looking for immediate monetary rewards, self publishing shouldn’t be at the top of the list. If one has a budget then if it were me, I would look at PPG to stomach the headache. I will restate what I stated in one of my books, this digital thing is here to stay and it’s changing the way business is done. What I’m doing right now, although it isn’t paying out immediately, is securing my future. I’m building a digital platform, that should be around for the long haul, I’ve got some more things to do, but I think the foundation is in place, and that gives me more to build upon. With that stated since you’re reading this on the PPG blog then I assume you know how to get in touch with Kim? If you think you might be interested in my writings, You can try StorySongTales.com the books are on the gallery page, You can go to Amazon/ Kindle and pull up “The Library Days: Suspended Sentence” by R.A Jordan and there should be 2 more right there with it “Hope For Felons: Sentence Complete” and “Unsolicited: A Straight Sentence”. I call them the Sentence series, it’s a play on words which is something I’m fond of. If someone checks them out maybe let me know if they can be pulled up as the Sentence Series. Also it would be nice if someone left me a review on my Author page(these for some reason are tough to get), and then spread the word if you found some enjoyable reading in them! I would like to thank Kim for letting me have this opportunity to share my experience as a fledgling author on her site. And I hope that someone among her subscribers might’ve gleaned something useful from this. Thank You! Robert A Jordan

Visit Robert’s website here.

Visit Robert’s Amazon page here.

© Robert A Jordan 2017

Guest Bloggers Welcome!

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Hello fellow writers, authors, bloggers, and Internet marketers!

I do my best to balance the many daily tasks involved in my full-time work with writing/posting at least two quality entries on my blog every week. I could sure use some help to keep the content fresh and entertaining for my growing list of subscribers, and I’m more than happy to return the favour. I’m looking for guest bloggers. And I can guest post on your blog, too, if you’d like.

A little more about me to help you decide whether we’re a good fit for each other…

The purpose of my blog is to provide free tips to help aspiring (and already-published) authors with every aspect of the book writing, publishing, sales, and marketing processes from conception to publication. Since I’m a TESOL-certified sales coach for authors, my blog already contains a lot of post-publication content regarding book sales and marketing. I welcome more of that kind of content from those of you who have advice and success stories to share. More pre-publication advice, specifically tailoured toward helping writers complete their manuscripts, is also welcome. (Click here to view some examples of past guest posts.)

Of course, I’m also more than happy to help out a budding author by posting an excerpt of your upcoming book so long as you also provide a front cover and/or author photo along with a link to your blog. Whichever publisher you used/plan to use to publish your book makes no matter to me. I will also ensure your copyright notice is listed at the bottom of your excerpt.

If you think this is a good fit, then please send me a message. I hope we can help each other out, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Recipe for a Bestselling Novel

This recipe for a bestselling novel has been generously donated to you from bestselling Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif…

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a recipe for making a bestselling novel and if all a writer had to do was gather the ingredients and mix them in, and voila!―a bestselling novel is created? The reality is there are combinations of ingredients that can either get your name on a bestseller’s list or fall flatter than an airless cheese soufflé. However, there are some common ingredients that have helped authors achieve bestseller status.

Common Ingredients for a Bestseller:

  • 1 cup of well written novel
  • 1 cup of professional editing
  • 1 cup of professional layout and interior design
  • 2 cups of professional book cover, including gripping back cover text
  • 1 cup of decent distribution via major online retailers
  • 2 cups of book launch, tours and other events, plus advertising
  • 3 cups of contests and giveaways by author, publisher or both
  • Countless hours of organization and time
  • Dash of excitement

Method:

Take the well written novel and beat in professional editing until light and readable. Add professional layout and interior design, then stir in professional cover art and back cover text until well combined. Sprinkle in decent distribution until coated and roll mixture out with book launch, tours and events. Top with contests and giveaways, and fold in countless hours of organization and time before adding the finishing touch―a huge dash of excitement. Share with everyone and enjoy!



Reality Check:

While the recipe above may seem kind of silly, these ingredients can lead to a bestselling novel. I know because I’ve used them all successfully. My three novels have made bestsellers lists multiple times on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Whale Song made both lists in a single day. I’ve also sold over 5000 copies of Whale Song, which in Canada makes it a national bestseller.

So how did I do it? I created an exciting day-long event―a “Bestseller Day”―that had enough goodies to draw people in. It was held on my 44th birthday and I gave away 44 prizes.

There are three main ways to get prizes to offer:

1.) Pay for them (I don’t recommend this.)

2.) Get others to donate them.

3.) Find someone to sponsor the event or the prizes. They pay for something you want to give away and get something in return, whether it’s free advertising, a mention in your next book, or some other benefit.

Becoming a bestselling author takes persistence, creativity and good organization. Follow this recipe for success and you’ll rise like a soufflé. Just don’t forget that last ingredient―excitement!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling Canadian author whose critically acclaimed, award-winning novels are being considered by film producers. She’s appeared on television and radio and in newspapers and magazines. Cheryl has also presented at writers’ conferences in Canada and the US, mainly on topics of marketing and promotion. She’s helped many authors achieve success and does so as a book marketing coach, with Bestseller Days, Virtual Book/Blog Tours and Sponsorships her top 3 most requested topics.

http://www.shamelessbookpromoter.com
http://www.cherylktardif.com

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



How to Start Your First Blog … The “Why” Will Follow Later

In the recent weeks, a few authors have contacted PPG to ask how and why they should start their own blogs in order to promote themselves and their books. They’ve also asked how YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Booktour ties into the success of their blogs … which can ultimately increase their book sales. This article will address the “how” part of this very valid question first. In subsequent blog entries, we’ll discuss various reasons why.

In order to answer this very important question, PPG sought out the expertise and guidance of one of our leading SEO (search engine optimization) writers, Rachaelle Lynn:

How to Start Your First Blog

Many people who know my writing and/or subscribe to one or more of my blogs have asked me how to start their own blog. I’m happy to help; googling “blogs” or “blogging” can make the process seem overwhelming. If you aren’t ready to start a freestanding blog, you might be interested in starting a blog or submitting articles on a website that has been developed for this purpose; I’ll cover some of those options in future articles. For now, here are some simple steps to starting a blog using blogger.com.

You need a Gmail account to start a blog on blogger.com, so if you don’t have one, sign up for one here first. Then go to www.blogger.com/start and follow the steps indicated there.




You will need to think of a name for your blog. If you have a theme for your blog, such as quilting, saltwater fishing, or stamp collecting, incorporate the theme into the name. The name of your blog will eventually be its web address, i.e. www.marthasquiltingtips.com; you can check to see whether or not your preferred web address is available at godaddy.com.

If you want to use your blog to market your business, choose a name that helps brand you (creates an identity for you). For example, a personal trainer might select www.robspersonaltraining.com as the name of his blog; the blog itself will link back to his business website (more on that in a future article). Don’t include the name of the business itself in your blog; that way you can transfer the blog if you change companies or the name of the company or want to use the blog for a variety of marketing avenues.

Don’t worry about making your blog perfect at first. Once you have the bare bones of the blog created, write an article. Otherwise, you could get bogged down in the minutiae of blog creation and neglect to enter content. Your first job is to get your writing out on the web, and the blog is a vehicle for doing that. Your readers will forgive a simple blog structure if you have interesting content, and you can expand the blog as you go along. Don’t forget though, that you will also want to make sure that your blog loads quickly (as this will keep your readers happy), so it might be worthwhile checking out these canadian web hosting reviews to give you a better idea of which company you should use.

If you know that you want to perfect your web design from the very start though, then you should just do that. Sometimes it is better to get the right look for your site as soon as you can. However, if you decide to wait then that is perfectly fine. Once you decide on the web design that you want, then you should consider using a Web Developer to help make sure that your site looks perfect. It’s important to make sure that your site does look good, otherwise, people might click elsewhere. People just your site within seconds, so it’s very important that the design is perfect. Otherwise, you might lose potential customers.

Your first article should be a simple treatment of your chosen topic. If your blog isn’t going to have a particular theme (I use mine to showcase the diversity of my writing projects), use an existing piece, which many aspiring writers have lying around, or simply introduce yourself and the purpose of your blog. (For an example of this, visit: Welcome To My Blog!)

If you are using your blog to market your business, it is best to start with basic topics in your field. This will help you use keywords that are best for search engine optimization (ranking higher in search engine results) without having to do much analysis. For example, the first few articles for robspersonaltraining.com might be:

• Achieving Your Fitness Goals with One-on-One Personal Training
• Achieving Your Fitness Goals with Group Personal Training
• How to Become a Personal Trainer
• Preventing Injuries while Achieving Your Fitness Goals

Each article should be between 400 and 600 words. Try to write two or three articles per week (if you want to optimize your site for search engines, hire a ghostwriter; two to three articles per week is the minimum for this type of marketing). As well as hiring a ghostwriter, there are many other things that you can do to ensure that your blog or your business website has the best search engine optimization that it can reach. Places like this SEO agency Los Angeles, as well as other SEO companies across the country, can give the relevant help and support in these areas so that you can focus on the aspects of your business or blog that you know more about. This will only help you to become more successful in the long run.

Three items to consider before publishing each article are:

• proofreading
• keyword optimization (making sure you have the right keywords, in the right places, to optimize your search engine rankings)
• two or three relevant links

Articles on the latter two items are coming soon!

The second part of blogging is publicizing each article, and it is just as important as creating quality content. There will be more on this in a future article, but to get started, set up profiles for yourself at:

• Twitter
• LinkedIn
• Facebook

Then send me [and PPG] a friend invite/invite to connect at each. This will allow you to piggyback off the SEO work I’ve done for myself and others and ensure that you don’t miss any of my blogging articles.

So that’s your first blogging lesson! There is quite a bit more, but this will be a great start. The most important thing to do is to do it. People put it off because they don’t see the value or due to simple procrastination, but once you get some momentum going, blogging will pay off in ways you can’t imagine right now.

Rachaelle Lynn
PPG’s SEO Writing Expert

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.