Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Chanticleer Conference

The April 20-22 conference of Chanticleer authors in Bellingham, Washington, was an opportunity to meet writers from around the country. The mix of conference workshops and awards celebration made for a special weekend. I'm posting a few photos of those I learned from.

Sessions addressed writing and post-publication activities. Wendy Kendall gave an overview of social media marketing, while Janet Shawgo stayed in the real world.
Janet Shawgo
She has had great success working with wineries who cross-promote their products and her books. She also suggested authors look to grocery stores, noting that Kroger in Texas is especially hospitable to local authors.

Elizabeth Craig was among those who talked about the need for authors to use YouTube or other visual methods to get their message across.

Several others talked about using two programs -- Audacity and Animoto. Dawn Groves noted the average attention span is 30 seconds. That is a good amount of time for an author book trailer that uses images rather than videos. 

Still images can be made with PowerPoint, with Audacity providing the voice over. I have much to learn.
Ann Charles writes three mystery series, and talked about creating a world for each one. She also gave me a smile when she mentioned being cited twice as a USA Today best-selling author, and not realizing that she was one until she looked it up.  She is shown with one of the tri-folds that describe her series.

I enjoyed talking to Matthew D. Hunt, author of Solar Reboot. He produces short movies as well as writes, and his perspective was informative. I've also been reading the book and like it.

B.J. Craige, E. Orr, S. Tate
Though I was disappointed not to win a Murder and Mayhem award for Demise of a Devious Neighbor, I sat next to Betty Jean Craige when she won for Fairfield's Auction. Fun to watch her win, and to discuss writing with another author for whom it is a second career.

Back to writing. Demise of a Devious Suspect (River's Edge series) just went to its publisher, and Underground in Ocean Alley (Jolie Gentil series) is underway. 
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 Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her classes, or receive her newsletter.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

One Site for Multiple E-Readers

I often write about publishing books on multiple sites, but which site helps readers with multiple devices?

Because I publish books on all sites, I have a Kindle, Nook, Samsung device, and an Android phone. I also bought an older iphone so I could use its Internet capability to see ibooks. I'm an equal opportunity device reader, but I'm not about to buy multiple copies of a book if I can avoid it. 

Enter Smashwords.The site lets you purchase a book (generally by self-published authors) and download it in multiple formats. Books are also available as text and PDF, should you not own a reader and want to read on your computer.

Smashwords has a lot of fiction, but also a great deal of nonfiction, including literary criticism and how-to guidance. A number of books are free. I have a couple of free short stories on the site. However, I write for me and publish for income, so I'm not big on constant freebies. Many authors are.

Try a new author or search for new ones.

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 Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her classes, or receive her newsletter. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Finding Your Nonfiction Angle

When I'm stumped by a plot or character, my mind wanders. I might write a blog post or work on other nonfiction. I don't think of it as easier writing, it's simply what I did most of my life so it's sort of relaxing.

Everyone is an expert on something. But unless you are the first Martian to land on earth (that we know of) and want to talk about the reception you received, your nonfiction book or article will not cover new territory. That's okay. You'll have a different perspective or perhaps better way of presenting something.

Even before you begin to do background reading or jot ideas for an outline, think about why a reader would pick up your book. It’s the “who is your audience” point.
Everything from vocabulary to sentence length is determined by your reader base. Your vocabulary has to match the readers’ level of interest. A book on plumbing repair is very different if your audience is new homeowners or plumbers studying for a certification exam.

There may be one hundred recent books on how to travel on a budget. It’s okay to believe you can write a good one. If you want to sell that book, it’s essential that you let potential readers know why yours is better. It can be comprehensive, shorter, clearer, based on your trip in which you visited seven countries and spent only $2,000 – anything that makes you stand out. 

Once you have a potential topic, you want to see what else has been written. Keep in mind your writing can make a difference. If you don’t believe this, you’ll feel defeated as soon as you start seeing what else is already out there. 

I still have “why do I bother?” moments from time to time. Ironically, they are more likely to come about when I’m in an art museum than a library. 

How do you go about seeing what’s already in print or online? It might be tempting to start with a search on Amazon or BN, but I suggest you take a trip to your local library. A library’s digital catalog will often list a lot more books on a topic than an online retailer, which usually only lists what they sell. At the library you can also look at a book’s table of contents and peruse the chapters. 

What the online retailers have that libraries may not are self-published books. Since the Kindle became affordable in 2009/2010 (depending on your perspective of affordable), many of us have taken our fiction and nonfiction directly to readers. If you decide to self-publish, these may be your primary competitors – especially in terms of digital price. 

Finally, do an online search via Google or Bing, or any search site. This will turn up blog posts, possibly magazine and journal articles. 

I suggest that you make notes about what’s out there, but make no effort to read much of it. You’re in a discovery phase. You don’t want to become discouraged or tailor your topic to what someone else has said or not said.  

Your goal is to write your top-quality article or book. 

                                                                           *     *     *     *     *     *
 Check out Elaine's web page, sign up for her classes, or receive her newsletter.