Tag Archives: publishing

Gearing Up For the 2017 #RRBC Writers’ Conference and Book Expo!

2017 WC&BE

Once again, Rave Reviews Book Club is taking the lead on cutting edge ideas for promoting indie authors. Picking up where we left off last year, this year’s Writers’ Conference & Book Expo promises to be bigger and better! If you are an indie author and you’re still figuring out the marketing landscape, then this event is one you don’t want to miss.

Simply follow the links below for all the latest information you’ll need to know to be involved.

 
This is the year for bigger and better here at RRBC. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to reach a new audience while gaining new skill sets designed to help indie authors succeed.

 

 

 

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5 Things I Learned About Marketing my First Book

Interesting points for indie authors.

Nicholas C. Rossis

HomeWorking Club | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThis is a guest post from Ben Taylor, a British freelance writer who spent several years living in Portugal and wrote a book about the experience. He now lives back in the UK, where he founded Home Working Club, a site dedicated to helping people explore freelance opportunities – in writing and various other fields.

5 Things I Learned About Marketing my First Book

Moving To Portugal | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Read on Amazon

I never intended to write a book.

It came about by accident, after I started a blog about moving to Portugal from the UK. While I won’t pretend that I didn’t hope people would read and enjoy the blog, I never had particularly big plans for it. I figured that, if nothing else, it was a good way to keep a journal of the experience.

However, after I’d been going for a year or so, the site got rather popular. It…

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Author Tia Shurina Pays Us A Visit!

Time to introduce you to another talented indie author. Today, fresh on her global blog tour, is Tia Shurina, author of the memoir Everything and a Happy Ending. Take it away, Tia…

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DAY 2

A blessed begin in gratitude to Beem Weeks for sharing your sacred spotlight… your blog space with me & to the Rave Reviews Book Club members who organized this tour.

From the moment I closed the cover of EAT PRAY LOVE, I somehow sensed it would be made into a movie… so important was its message about staying true to self I felt.  That book ending was also a beginning for me, of a challenging time, as I faced myself in my mirror everyday day, moved in a very sad way, by my cowardice & lack of courage to be true to my own self.   Who knew where the start of that particular reflection would ultimately lead & how the Universe would guide that cowardice inside…who knew?!   I not only didn’t, but detoured, delayed & deterred that journey for a great deal of time.

Years passed, & gratefully, my reflection slowly passed some important seasons as well.

Quite a bit of time later, an old friend & I re-connected.  As Ray & I began to round an old sacred circle of friendship that birthed something new & beautiful together, we both also moved through our own challenging times separately.  Our new story, already a bit complex in its roots, grew more complicated as our circle rolled ‘round.   I had already been trying to release the last little grip I was hanging onto in a relationship that was ready to die, so that I could finally, fully, honor my own self above all else.  As I struggled to let go, my husband struggled to hang on to our marriage, with all his might.   Ray’s wife was sick with cancer.  Who he was, & what his celebrity symbolizes in the world, called for a hyper-sensitivity on our part to those around us as we tried to stay sensitive to our own wants, needs & desires at same time.  That very important career, & who he is, along with our holy honoring of those other important people, also “set the stage” tho, for a fantastical love story, fueled by a most unique way to be able to communicate.  It is an extraordinary, beautiful story, yet, balanced by an ordinary, bittersweet sadness.

Since I feel so strongly that the struggle to honor our own selves is so hard for so many of us, for so many reasons, &, as a longtime lover of movies, feeling equally as passionate about the power of Hollywood to inspire & influence so positively, I was especially thrilled to be invited recently to a Q&A with Matthew Welsh of SpiritualMediaBlog.com, a site devoted to spirituality in entertainment in Hollywood.  I’m honored to share it with you here.

1.What is your book about & why did you write it?

My book, Everything and a Happy Ending, is a memoir that shares my journey with 3 separate, different, yet similar & very interconnected relationships & love stories with the 3 most important men in my life. I share a very full circle journey with each man which details that connectedness & sheds light on how each impacted me & has helped move me around my circle of life.

I wrote the book, & published the book for 2 different reasons. I wrote it to be another tool for one of the men, the 3rd of the special trio, that had been using my writing for quite time some very privately, with a beautiful, almost heavenly, holy, success. He’d been struggling to shed the persona he had created for himself & our relationship was the key he needed to unlock the hold from a role everybody loves for himself. The 3rd part of the trifecta is an extraordinary spectacular love story along the lines of the Oscar winning movie, Marty. He’s a writer himself & was wanting to do the re-make but still needed a little more help from me at that point, so I decided to ghostwrite it. I still felt strongly it was his story, & his desire, to tell, along with his own equally moving story about his relationship with his own dad. He’s the writer & the one I felt most would want to hear it from. At a certain point, though, I started to gain clarity & accept the possibility that maybe the story was meant for me to tell, from my perspective. I began to realize it might be “meant to be”, for me, to be the one to share it & communicate it in order for it to have the impact it’s meant to have & to be seen in a different light than if he was the one to write it. I began to understand that him telling it actually held potential to do a dis-service to our story, simply because of his name…. who he is might taint the story for many, before it could be told through in its entirety. I felt many would judge it, criticize it & label it for no other reason than his identity. I also realized as a young woman petrified of ever being looked at or stared it, for fear I was surely being judged, it might be an important opportunity that was being gifted to me to step outside my comfort zones that I had realized along my way I was desperate to do in my life.

I decided, eventually, to publish the book as a way to help me regain the financial security I gifted to him along our journey together. It was an incredible gift of trust that I’d never been able to give in my life before that I felt strongly I not only wanted to give another, but finally felt the confidence in myself & had the tools, the faith, & the strength, thanks to my father, who is one of the men I share about, to give another. In giving him “everything”, I showed him, the Universe, & most importantly, myself, I was capable of giving the exact kind of love I wanted to allow myself to receive in my life. To experience a mature, healthy, adult, romantic relationship with a beautiful balance rooted in a true love, not in guilt or entitlement or fear or obligation…just pure desire & free choice to be in the relationship. And with that, I handed him my heart, my soul, & my wallet too …I offered up my mental, emotional, spiritual & physical well-being as I risked “everything”, in an “All-in” act of complete & total trust. Our re-connection, & my influence, moved him powerfully, & I ultimately decided it was powerful enough to move another, if one was wanting to move themself, to a metamorphosis & transformation like I had helped my dad with, then he helped me with as I moved myself through one & then held the 3rd man’s hand through his own after his own dad passed.

When I ended my 20-year marriage, a 25-year union with a very important man I loved very much but was not “in love” with, on the heels of my dad’s death, I was ready to move on to a new start & a new “mini life” as my old boss used to say. I put that new start on hold to help an old special friend. I am thrilled for him for where he is at this point in his life. His happiness is very, very important to me. But, so is my own, & I would like the same for myself & I’d like to re-turn to the new start I had taken a big step towards but then stuck myself in a standstill of stagnation after re-connecting with him & committing myself very privately to him. Stillness & stagnation are two very different things & I allowed myself to blur some lines while I waited which was a very unhealthy thing for me to do. Publishing my writing, my story, was a firm faithful step towards moving in stillness again, allowing myself to be led out of an unhealthy standstill as I re-committed to myself, 1st & foremost, & going with the flow of my life instead of trying to push against it in fear.

 

  1. You have written your journey almost destroyed you. How did your journey almost destroy you?

When I ended my long marriage, it was a complete flip of almost everything that had been put in place in my life up to that point. I had chosen, when I was much younger, a very safe life because I was scared of so much. I was afraid as a child & I grew into an afraid adult. Ending my marriage was part of a process of reversing a lot of choices I had made as a younger woman, of my own free will, but wound up in my life, as a woman of a certain age, with a lot of dissatisfaction & sadness. The life of security & protection I had chosen as a younger woman, I realized along my way, may have protected me from SOME certain things that I felt strongly at the time I wanted & needed protection from, brought a whole different set of worries, pains, & insecurities that I had not had the maturity nor the health of body mind & spirit to help me understand would be waiting down the line for me as my choices caught up with me. When I made the flip, I turned everything on a dime as I rounded a soulful circle & in order to balance out a life of safety I had lived up to that point, I wound up out on an incredibly lovely, but very scary, unsafe limb. It would have been challenging enough, given my age, & statistics that surround long term committed couples splitting, & society’s view of divorce equaling failure for the most part…but, the story took an incredible turn that upped those stakes with risks worthy of a Las Vegas casino & craps table when I crossed paths with an old special friend at the exact precise special moment I embarked on that change for myself. The story, & our journey is detailed in the book, but I’ll share here that at a certain point along the way, a very private, very personal, very intimate prayer for him was shared with God, & with him, & what unfolded, as the Universe answered my prayer is our extraordinary story. That it came on the heels of his own prayer, a very public, very specific prayer, shared with his fans &, of course with God, makes our story that much more spectacular. Our journey together “almost” destroyed me, as I gave every single sacred spec of trust I finally felt safe enough & intimate enough with another to give & made the choice to leave myself totally, completely vulnerable, for the 1st time in my life, at an age when many are deepening their footholds on security & safety. The shit really hit the fan for me & my life as I went All-In, and stayed all-in instead of folding, but I kept my faith, thanks in good part to my dad, a real & true gambler, & my story wound up my saving me, not destroying me.

 

  1. What did you do that helped you through your journey and make it so your journey did not destroy you.

I leaned on my dear, but very dead dad, in the same way I had finally allowed myself to lean on him as an adult in the few years before he passed as our relationship changed. And I prayed, with the same faith, to the same Universe & life force that I had prayed along my way in my story…the perfect power that my dad was now a part of. The unbreakable bond of love reached through time & space & would not let me give up. I gave up so easily as a young woman. My dad came to know this, as well as the why’s that was as we forged a new relationship later in our lives & I opened my soul to him. And he truly reached from heaven I feel, to hold my hand through a very challenging transition & metamorphosis long in the making for me. The power that our transformed relationship held, changed my life, my “story” & then that same unbreakable bond of love changed another’s.

 

  1. What is your—or the book’s—connection to Ray Romano? How does he tie in to the journey or the book?

Ray is the 3rd man in the trio. He is called by another name, Emilio, a private nickname between he & I that he gave himself many years ago, when we were much younger. An amazing faithful foresight the divine gifted our story at that perfect time as a special seed was planted given who he would eventually become & the need for such privacy many, many years later. I lived a few years with his need for complete & total privacy and discretion at the very top of my list. Unfortunately, it came at the exact time I had finally felt ready to put myself 1st & foremost in my life. And there was a clash as I tried to do what I felt was best for myself, for my ex & for my old special friend at the same time. And, that clash came with incredible consequences to me. Trying to juggle all 3 wants & desires exhausted me. I used his nickname as I wrote as a way to stay in the authenticity of the way I had lived my life for those few years, & stay true to the spirit of the life I had been living …. very privately, very much committed to keeping the identity of the very special man in my life private, at all costs.

 

  1. What advice would you give to other people who are trying to love themselves but are often too hard on themselves?

I will share my athlete dad’s most profound advice to his children as we were growing up, “hold your form”, as I offer up that in my case, the gift of patience & fortitude I finally gave myself made a huge difference. When I finally started to be gentler with myself & take the time to “just breathe” through some certain difficult times instead of feeling a failure because I had allowed them in the 1st place, it was then that “everything” started to change for me. I baby-stepped through a complete & total transformation, with a few faithful fantastical leaps thrown at the right & perfect time to balance those baby steps, but, for the most part…I moved slowly, & thoughtfully & instead of losing patience & scolding myself for all the things we can usually find to berate & betray our own selves, I decided to keep the faith. Whether it’s a new weight, a new job, a new relationship, or a whole new life one is wanting for themselves… it can be daunting & overwhelming & certainly discouraging when only focused on the end result. Holding your vision is so important, yet, holding your form the best you can through each & every day is what moves you to that vision & often, just zeroing in on the baby steps necessary to make it through one beautiful but brutally challenging day is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. If anyone had told me after my dad passed how long, how challenging, & how much heartbreak & sadness I was going to have to move through to make it through to the other side I feel quite certain I would have turned around & ran the other way, as I did for much of my life. Suffering is different than sadness though, & when I began to give myself some patience as I committed to “holding my form”, I began to see the difference & was able to start inching through the sadness as I released my grip & my choice to stay & suffer by shutting the uncomfortable down or ignoring it or trying to move through it quickly as if it didn’t exist.

 

  1. Anything else?

As a piggyback & a p.s. to #6, I’d like to share the importance of gratitude. It is so challenging sometimes when we are faced in real life with the pains & struggles & sufferings we are witness to as well as have to move through ourselves in our human life. But, in my own story, when I began to search for the blessing, & the meaning that might be held for me through any given experience, especially the hard & painful ones, instead of allowing myself to play the victim as I asked “why me” as I had done often in my younger years, it was a powerful gift & shift that helped me immensely as I embarked on the journey to change the ending for my story.

 

Everything and a Happy Ending, an award-winning memoir published by Mascot Books, details the soulful shift of a story as Tia shares her holy grail & trail she took to transform her life.  After moving through her own metamorphosis, she then helped an old friend, Ray Romano, move through his own transition, going with the flow very privately, but most profoundly.

“My journey almost destroyed me.”  Almost.  Boy, have I come to like that word.  What a pleasurable word “almost” can be.  You may almost be ready to buy my book.  You may almost be ready to begin an exciting new journey of your own.  You may almost be over that rainbow Judy Garland sings about.  What great potential “almost” can hold if you can flip your way of thinking.  Just imagine, controlled pessimism, doubt & fear flipped into blind optimism, faith & love.

That flip helped Tia move to a place where heaven meets earth…the pearly gates of her own happy ending.  Changing the ending for her story brought a pure, precious peace of heart, but kicked her butt a bit as she made her way… committed to keeping her faith. The book was a plan C, maybe even D, but Tia was determined, after a dedicated intention & divine decision to start swimming more with the current of her life, instead of bucking that flow.  Her ordinary, relatable story took an extraordinary, fantastical turn when she showed the Universe she was committed to her intention & her desire to be given an opportunity to make some new, different choices for herself.  EAAHE is a memoir that shares the “how’d that happen?” & the “how’d she do that?” in a holy hope of helping others to see life in a new way.

EAAHE recounts 3 interconnected relationships & stories that enable Tia to love truly, deeply, & most of all, love herself.  Three special circles she rounded with Ray, her dad, & her ex-husband.  A woman’s full circle journey to learn how to really trust, how to “thine own self be true,” & then, the “real & true” love it led her ‘round back to.  It shares how the power of love & a journey to intimacy helped her make a faithful flip which began a sacred circle and new chapter… one that would allow a different ending for a story she had begun writing for herself when she was much younger.  One that Tia feels strongly will inspire other women of a certain age keep faith that it’s not too late to write a new ending for their own, as they embrace their history, not try to re-write it.

Tia is, most days, filled with joy.  She is, every day, filled with peace.  She looks forward to a happy ending each new day now, however it unfolds, whomever it holds, & whatever way the Universe molds, as she continues to create a new “happily ever after”, staying committed to rising above her fears, moving out of her comfort zones, & going with the flow of her life.

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http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/will-tia-shurina-give-ray-romano-a-happy-ending-new-memoir-reveals-relationship-and-unveils-transformation-300212049.html

http://everythingandahappyending.com/

Here are what some customers are saying on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015I13RDC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#customerReviews

“The tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.”

Peggy Hattendorf: Author & RWISA Member!

Greetings and welcome to The Indie Spot. It is my privilege and honor to introduce to you author and RWISA member Peggy Hattendorf — in her own words! Take it away, Peggy…

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The Interview

1) How long have you been writing?

My professional writing started in the mid-1970’s, when I created volunteer and staff handbooks for a number of agencies in the non-profit field.

I entertained the idea of writing a novel about 10 years ago but purposely shelved the plan for nearly two years due to other commitments. The notion of writing fiction still gnawed at me and I would jot down potential characters, ideas and storylines during this hiatus. When I finally dusted off my old notes, scribbles and research and read over the material, I realized I had the makings for a good story. With new found enthusiasm, I set about writing my first novel. My background with upscale and luxury travel products served a cornerstones in the character development and storyline.

2) How many books have you authored?
At present, I have one novel Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.

3) Do you have a writing schedule?

Yes. Currently I am working on my second book in the family dynasty series. This one still focuses on the wealthy Barrington family, and I utilize some of my travel destination research for the magazine to add new locations and settings for the book.

4) You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was honored and humbled to have been selected by personal invitation from Nonnie as one of the first 10 people to join RWISA. I believe I was invited into this organization because I am a strong and focused writer with a distinct voice and style. I take writing very seriously and continue to strive to be the best in all I produce. With my debut novel, I’ve been able to create a captivating story with well defined characters in exquisite settings and locations; appropriately interrupting the narrative with savvy and funny dialogue while maintaining suspense with plot twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the very end.

5) Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

I am a serious writer who continues to advance my professional endeavors, hone my skills and strive for excellence. I write with passion and want to translate that deep purpose to the reader. As a character driven writer, I use that passion to create a compelling and richly developed cast. I write in my head and start assembling this small grouping around a central theme and the storyline develops. I use logic, structure and organization in developing clear ideas and how to express them in a solid story. I’m grounded in data, research and fact-checking for credibility and authenticity. For example, in certain instances, it’s more appropriate for character and life-style to use more formal language in dialogue. I deliver a readable story with good content, a strong storyline, an intriguing plot, crackling dialogue from well crafted characters presented in elegant settings around the world.

6) If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

I was fortunate years ago to have had this experience. My husband and I had dinner with the late Allen Reed Folsom and his wife Karen at their home in Malibu. He was a screenwriter for years but his big break came with his thriller, The Day After Tomorrow, about a Neo-Nazi cult. We were with them shortly after he sold this debut novel in 1993 for $2 million dollars, a record at that time. As elated as he was to have sold his novel, he said it took him decades to get to that point. He was diligently working on his second book at the time of our visit. Had I known then, I would someday venture into this whelm, I would have been armed with a list of questions to ask him over dinner.

There is another author, Patricia Cornwall that I would find most interesting to involve in conversation. She is a seasoned serial writer and I am writing my second book in my family dynasty series. Her Scarpetta Series is one of my favorites as she uses a strong female lead, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner by training. I too have a strong female lead, also a career woman, Christiana Lynn Barrington. If I could “pick” Ms. Cornwall’s brain, I would inquire as to how she keeps a series “fresh” and interesting writing a total of 35 books in 27 years. As she also writes children’s books and cookbooks, I would be curious as to what prompted her move into other genres. In addition, I would ask if she found her work as a journalist an asset in writing fiction.

7) Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I do love being an INDIE writer and am not looking for outside representation. But with that said, if I was offered a publishing contract today, from a recognized publishing house, it would warrant my time and attention to understand the facts and terms of the contract. My desire is to have Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty adapted into a television movie or mini-series and that might be one of the major advantages of having an agent.

8) As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to have the third and final book in my family dynasty series complete. In so doing, this will require more travel for my inspirations, settings and research.

9) What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

I joined a very supportive network – Rave Reviews Book Club. I would tell any new author to commence the overall marketing process well before completion of the book and go online and immediately join Rave Reviews Book Club.

10) Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I would suggest Rebecca Reilly. I believe she is a gifted writer as demonstrated in her book Haunting Megan.

11) What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Enjoy each and every step of this “creative journey” and don’t be in a rush to publish.

12) Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

There are certainly a number of prominent authors who publish several books per year to satisfy contractual terms of their publishers and keep their readership engaged through new releases. Some writers are co-authoring books possibly to keep ahead of the competition. It is hard to place a chronological time period on quality work. I believe each body of work should be judged on the quality alone without regard to the amount of time it took to produce the manuscript.

13) If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I would absolutely halt the release date if the book was not deemed ready for publication. At the same time, I would issue a statement that the release date had to be pushed back and add the new publication date to keep up the interest from my fan and readership base. In the interim, I would continue to have contact with my readership via blogs etc.

14) In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

In my opinion, a “great book” is based on a number of key elements and I use the broad categories of fiction and non-fiction works. For a fiction book, I look for the following: *interesting storyline, * intriguing plot, * proper pace and flow, * well-defined characters, *crisp dialogue and * above all it must be a readable story! In a non-fiction book you also need an interesting storyline and proper pace and flow. Moreover, a non-fiction book must: * present an engaging topic, subject or person, * deliver insight or knowledge – possibly not known prior to reading the book and * be well researched with verifiable data and first-hand documentation, if possible. No matter the type of book or genre, it must be well written and hold the reader’s attention.

15) If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I take my writing career very seriously and strive to deliver quality and excellence in all my work. Unfortunately, some editing issues have been brought to my attention and I have engaged Nonnie Jules and her team at 4Wills Publishing to address the items not identified and corrected by the former contracted editors.

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The Importance of your Author Brand and Reputation

By Peggy Hattendorf

Improper branding or a tarnished reputation can sink your career.

Proper messaging and a solid reputation, on the other hand, add both tangible and intangible benefits. A recognized brand is a strategic tool and important business asset which can determine your success as an author – as much as quality or price. Branding is imperative to commercializing your business, advancing product exposure and leading to increased demand for your books and products.

The American Marketing Association defines brand as, “a name, term, sign, symbol or combination of these, intended to identify the goods and services of the seller and to differentiate it from competitors.”  Branding is all activities that raise awareness for your business and helps shape consumers’ perceptions, awareness, associations and loyalty.

Professional reputation is defined as the “public” opinion about your business determined in part by the image and quality of products and services and further conditioned by consumer understanding, knowledge and intuition.  A “good” reputation helps build brand loyalty. The terms brand and reputation are interrelated and sometimes a strong brand image can combat some reputation issues.

Branding:

  • Improves recognition.
  • Assists in promotion of products/books/services.
  • Attributes quality, value and reliability.
  • Associates an image – “luxury” or “mass-market” as examples.
  • Creates trust, credibility, legitimacy and loyalty.
  • Supports advertising.
  • Differentiates from the competition.
  • Generates customer sales.
  • Builds financial value and resources.

Reputation:

  • Defines public beliefs or opinions generally held about a person or business.
  • Harder to build than to destroy.
  • Requires effort, patience and time to build.
  • Needs consistency and constant attention.
  • Represents your value in the marketplace.

The establishment of a solid brand, positive image and a good reputation are key elements for creating success in the literary world.

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Social Media

Twitter handler – @peggyhattendorf

Facebook – www.facebook.com/peggy.hattendorf

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Web Site/Blog

Website/blog – www.peggyhattendorf.com

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Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub.

 

Writing the (Almost) Perfect Book Review

Today we will take a look at what goes into writing the (almost) perfect book review. Nothing is ever really perfect, but those imperfections should never be an excuse for being unprofessional or rude.

Okay, so you’re new to the fine art of writing book reviews. Maybe you’re not quite sure how to go about sharing that incredible (or terrible) story you just finished reading (or couldn’t force yourself to read the entire thing). The hope here is that perhaps we can shed some light on approaching the task—regardless of your feelings toward the book in question.

Book reviews are opinions and nothing else. But these are valued opinions (when done correctly) that can guide readers to—or away from—an author’s hard work. Opinions will always vary when it comes to books, movies, restaurants, or anything else that is often the target of reviews. I may not have enjoyed the mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel, but those same spuds may stir recollections of Granny’s home-cooked Sunday dinners from way back in another patron. So does that make my opinion any greater than another’s? Not a chance. My opinion is just an option for those reading reviews of dinner choices at the local Cracker Barrel.

But this presentation isn’t about culinary creativity. We’re here to discuss books and the reviews we seek to write. I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and dozens of concert and record album reviews. Book reviews (and movie reviews) are a different breed from other write-ups in that there are certain things of which you need to be aware when sharing your thoughts on the latest novel you’ve read.

The first (and most important) item to remember is: NO SPOILERS! Not even with a “spoiler alert” attached to the front end of your review. If there’s a twist at the end of the story that really blew your mind, then please allow the next mind to be equally blown. I hate it when such things are divulged—even with a warning. I may choose to not read beyond the warning, but that doesn’t mean a friend will stop at that point. This friend then decides to bring up the twist as I’m mentioning the new book I just added to my Kindle.

I call to mind the first time I saw the movie The Others. I hadn’t even heard of this film prior to my viewing it one lazy afternoon. I remember thinking that the film trotted along at a rather slow pace—so much so that I nearly turned the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. As the film progressed, I became even more invested. And as it reached its conclusion, POW! I honestly did not see that twist coming. And thankfully, I was able to be floored by the brilliance of the writing and the acting because nobody spoiled it for me.

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I’ve read the novel Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. This wonderful story contains a twist at the end that spins the entire story into a whole new perspective from the one through which I’d viewed it right up to the final two chapters. Good writers will do these things. Good reviewers will leave those things hidden, allowing the next readers to discover those gems for themselves. So please leave the spoiler alerts out of your reviews.

The next thing to keep in mind is: DITCH THE PLAY-BY-PLAY! A review is never meant to be an outline spilling plot details. Neither is it supposed to be a road map through the story. If I can gather most of what’s going on between those book covers from your review, what reason do I have in investing money and time in reading it for myself? This only serves to cheat the reader out of a good read, and it snuffs out a sale for the author.

A well-written review will give us just a taste of the plot, a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and offer opinions on whether or not the author has what it takes to tell a fine story. It should be a critique of story and style.

This leads us to another very important point: ATTACKING CONTENT MISSES THE MARK! Okay, so what exactly am I talking about? Saying you didn’t like the story in question because the girl was raped or a child died says more about the reviewer than it says about the book. If we’re voracious readers, we’ll eventually run into a story that may, at points, make us feel uncomfortable. My skin was crawling at times while reading The End of Alice by A. M. Homes. It’s a dark read, this story. But Miss Homes is one of my favorite writers. Her stories are vivid with living characters. She, as a writer, is skilled at yanking the reader from his or her comfort zone. The best writers are able to do these things without a second thought.

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The End of Alice is a bestseller. I mention this only because, as such, there are quite a few reviews for this work. The titles of some of those reviews posted on Amazon are rather telling. Beautifully Disturbing; Disgusting, But Impossible to Forget; Fascinating, Frustrating and Disappointing—but Unforgettable. Most opinions of this book award four and five stars—even though many of these reviewers found the story quite disturbing. Then there are those who simply attack the content and do all they can to steer potential readers away from this work.

Did the writing captivate you? Are the characters believable? What sort of emotions did you experience while reading? Did the author pull you out of your comfort zone? Is it a well-written story without punctuation or spelling errors? Did you care about the characters or were they worthy of being hated? These are the sorts of questions we should ponder while determining our opinions of the works of others.

Not all reviews warrant four and five stars. But that’s not license to attack an author’s work either. An honest review should be constructive in its criticism, not destructive. Social media is rife with mean and nasty comments that are designed to tear down rather than build up. Take into consideration the author may learn something from your review, and thus become a better writer because of you! Be honest, be tactful, be kind—even if it’s a 1, 2, or 3 star review. If you don’t like a particular story, explain the reasons behind your opinion.

As reviews coordinator for RRBC, I’ve heard from members who found issues with books they’ve read. They tell me they feel guilty writing a one or two star review. Well, if that’s their honest opinion, then that’s what they should award. I challenge them to offer the author—as well as potential future readers—an explanation on why they arrived at this rating. Are there punctuation problems? Plot holes? Is the story just too unbelievable? Share these details—but do so in a way that teaches. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.

And finally, when posting your reviews, be sure to proofread before sharing with the world via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Nothing is quite as ridiculous as a critique of another’s work in a review filled with misspellings, missing or poor punctuation, and sentences that make little or no sense at all. If need be, allow another pair of eyes to do the proofreading for you—before you hit the post button. Your words represent you as a writer—whether they’re reviews, blog articles, essays, or novels. Always strive to make a strong impression. And remember, writing reviews is another way to make connections in the indie author world. If you’re needlessly harsh in your criticisms, that’s a reflection on you.

 

Discussing Book Trailers!

Once upon a time, authors, no matter the talent level, needed a big machine known as the publishing house, to get their work into the hands of readers across the globe. Publishing houses offered cash advances, secured shelf space in all the leading retail shops, and made sure the media received advance copies for the purpose of writing reviews of the project at hand.

Unfortunately, getting published by the big machine proved limited in potential for most writers. Your work wouldn’t even find its way to a publisher without first getting discovered by an agent. And even if you did manage to catch the eye of one of these middlemen, you still weren’t guaranteed that big advance, the prime spot on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, or the five star review from the New York Times. In fact, writing for 95% of those who fancied themselves authors was little more than a wishful fantasy.

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But we are no longer living under the shadow of the big machine. If we want to write and be published, it’s an easy task. And that may not always be such a great thing. See, here’s the problem: Everybody is a writer today. That means the novel you spent months (or even years) writing is now in direct competition with two million other titles, all seeking the same readers.

While great opportunities are now within reach, the deep pockets of those large publishing houses are not. That means there likely won’t be a marketing team to plot our campaign for world domination. So we learn from one another. We find those things that work for us and mingle them with new ideas that may have worked for others. It’s the indie way.

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One of the tools within our reach is the book trailer. Sure, YouTube seems flooded with videos touting this story or that one. But these sneak peeks work quite well for the movie industry. In fact, most of us determine the films we’ll pay to see based almost entirely on the trailers we watch. If done right, there is no reason book trailers can’t accomplish the very same results.

And how do we do it the right way? By making ours stand out from the million or so other clips already on social media. Offer the viewer something that’s visually appealing, that snags the attention and holds it until the very last frame. Even the music must be compelling, telling the story as much as the images do. But don’t just rely on simple music and still photos with blurbs splashed across them. Seek out that which is different.

Fresh Ink Group

Fresh Ink Group offers that which is different! We utilize video, animation, music, voice-overs, still photos, graphics unique to the project, and a large array of sound effects. If you want something more in your trailer, consider taking a look at Fresh Ink Group.

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Visit Fresh Ink Group: Click Here!

Reading, Writing, and Responsibility!

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Do writers have responsibilities? If so, what are they? Do these differ from the responsibilities of, say, sculptors, painters, or photographers? And is there a different set of rules for those who write poetry versus those who write fiction?

Though I write in various forums, I’ll speak on fiction for this article. As an author, I do indeed have responsibilities. My first—and most important—responsibility is to know how to construct a sentence. This includes knowing proper punctuation, what and when to capitalize, and correct spelling. If the story in question begins with massive amounts of misplaced commas, run-on sentences, and poor spelling, I’m not likely to find an audience for my work.

Equally important is the need to tell a compelling tale. Nobody wants to read entire chapters with the main character searching for his car keys, getting coffee at Starbucks, or filling his tank with premium gasoline because that Porsche 911 is his baby. By compelling, I mean interesting; the sort of story that lures you in like a carnival barker just daring you to part with that dime, to look inside the tent, to glimpse the man with lizard skin covering his body.

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I try to write reality. If a scene is meant to be dark and raw, I intend to make the reader feel somewhat uncomfortable, even voyeuristic. In one particular review of Jazz Baby, the reviewer mentioned feeling a need for a shower upon finishing the story. I don’t take offense at this notion, I revel in it.

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Are your characters real? Are they fully developed and breathing on the pages? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Weak characters make for a weak story. I’ve read books that were thin on plot but still managed to keep me interested by presenting amazing characters. We won’t find fully formed characters in lengthy physical descriptions, either. We find them in personality traits, quirks, nervous habits, and in the things that make them happy or angry.

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We also have the responsibility to get it right. Get what right? I’m glad you asked. If you’re writing a story set in the mid-1970s, would you insert a character discussing the pros and cons of using Google Chrome on your laptop? What about a story where Grandma speaks of meeting Grandpa on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in the spring of 1921? Maybe Cousin Lexie, in a poignant scene, reminisces about watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory under the stars, at a drive-in movie, back during the summer of 1956. None of these events could happen in real life. Google Chrome and laptops didn’t exist in the 1970s. Construction on the Empire State Building didn’t begin until early 1930. The Gene Wilder classic film saw release in 1971, not 1956. Don’t put your lead character in a 1990 Ford Pinto. Do your research, get the facts straight.

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The biggest responsibility we carry as writers is to entertain those who would spend hard earned money and valuable time in reading what we’ve created. Just because I think my story is interesting doesn’t mean others will.

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We are indie authors. Indie is short for independent. Our souls aren’t contractually bound to some monster corporation that basically owns what we’ve worked long and hard to create. But neither do we have access to said monster’s deep pockets for advertising, public relations, and connections to people like Oprah Winfrey, The Ellen Show, or any of the late night gabbers. We’re not likely to find our work climbing the New York Times bestseller list. We must seek out those tools for ourselves—and usually with limited budgets.

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Thankfully, we have the internet. This amazing invention literally brings the entire world to our very fingertips. There isn’t a nation or continent we cannot reach—unless we’re talking about, say, North Korea. Does anybody really want to be Dear Leader’s favorite writer? It’s mind-blowing to hear from somebody on the other side of the planet sharing their thoughts about something I wrote. This is the real reward for the author—in my humble opinion.

But let’s face facts: Just having a Twitter account or a Facebook page won’t make us internationally-known authors. Sure, social media does help. We establish our own little corner of the web through the bread crumbs we sprinkle using tweets and likes. However, we are competing with 100 million other writers scattered across the globe.

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There is another tool, though. This tool is the wave of the future. And it grows bigger by the day. I’m talking about Rave Reviews Book Club. Why a book club? I’m glad you asked. RRBC isn’t just your average ordinary book club. It is an online worldwide community for supporters of the growing indie movement. This is the place to find readers for your work. It is also the place to find great novels, memoirs, and books of poetry—at reasonable prices. That’s right, it offers something for readers and writers alike.

How far you go is entirely up to you. If you support many, many will support you right back. Those who join looking to get support without giving it will find a stocking full of nothing come Christmas morning.

Rave Reviews Book Club is the brainchild of Founder/President Nonnie Jules, an indie author herself. RRBC is designed to grow the author’s name and presence on the internet. The club offers all sorts of amazing tools to help indies succeed. What are those tools? Well, writers get their books (linked to Amazon) added to the club’s online catalog. Supportive members find themselves sitting in any one of the amazing seats of honor up for grabs each month. We’re talking about three slots for Books of the Month, Member of the Month, Member of the Week, PUSHTUESDAY winners, and, of course, the many Rave Waves BlogTalkRadio programs the club produces each and every month. Imagine being interviewed live, speaking to a worldwide audience, while discussing your latest book for a full thirty minutes!

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It’s simple: Club members buy, read, and review fellow members’ books. They tweet links to those stories they’ve enjoyed. And just maybe, if you’re super supportive, you’ll find yourself being hosted by fellow members on their blogs.

Listen, most of us indie authors aren’t indie by choice. Without an agent, the monster corporations can’t be bothered with what we’ve created. They often view us as inferior to the mainstream. That’s where responsibility comes into play. Write it well, get it right, and entertain your readers. It’s really that simple. The work will sell the author.