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Thursday
Jul172014

How to choose Book Contests? 

Guest Post by Susan Violante

Authors may feel overwhelmed by all the different contests out there. Here are a few tips on how to decide which ones to enter.

The first thing authors should ask themselves is what they are hoping to gain by winning the contest they are entering. Is it to bring credibility to their work? Maybe they are after the cash and other prices offered? Or do they just want exposure to increase sales? Some book contests are notable enough that an award will increase book sales. Other contests charge high fees and receive little attention but the prizes are worth it. A few guidelines for choosing a contest are:

  • If there is no entry fee, there is nothing to lose except the postage and book cost, and entering will almost always generate a book review, and some exposure. It is a no brainer.
  • If looking into a National contest, do not be intimidated. It is true that they are very competitive, but the greater the competition, the greater credibility to gain if scoring. When budgets permits, it is always best to enter.
  • Local contests provide greater chances of winning as the number of entries is smaller making an easier competition. The entry fees are also lower. These are great to help authors establish themselves locally, which is always a great first step, they should always be considered by new and upcoming authors.
  • Independent: For self-published authors, these are the best place to start as they can get book notoriety by the Media and create online buzz.

Once an author wins or becomes a finalist, announcements should follow. Letting the media know though press releases is not just wise but also necessary if an author wishes to put themselves available as experts in their book’s topic and be considered for commentary or interviews. Although no one can successfully measure how well book awards sell, contests do get attention for your books and help authors to establish themselves as credible experts. This is actually the best prize contests offer. After all, readers tend to buy books from their favorite authors and check out books from other authors they have heard of somewhere. So what are you waiting for! For more information on the Reader Views Literary Awards click here.

Susan Violante is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Wednesday
Jul162014

What Authors need to Remember When Writing a Children’s Book 

Guest Post by Susan Violante

As a reviewer and a children’s book writer (soon to be out “Tuma, The Tribe’s Little Princess” – Book One of my series), I have been on both sides of the book’s coin. On one side I wrote and illustrated my children’s book. On the other side I manage Reader Views Kids, our website where all the reviewers are kids. During the time spent in these two roles, I became aware of few things about children’s books and about kids as an audience, that I didn’t really realize before, which have come in very handy while writing and publishing “Tuma.”

  • Writing kid’s books should not be done in isolation. I always become a hermit when I am working on a book. First I put the story down and then I begin the critiquing and rewriting process.  This did not work with my picture book. There are so many factors to consider for this audience, that it becomes imperative for the author to tune up with what is current with them.
  • Not only does the vocabulary have to be age appropriate, but the story must also be age appropriate, in order to spark interest as well as gain parental approval. So, just because I believe I have a story that kids would love, doesn’t mean they will.  It needs to be tested.
  • Kids are brutal reviewers! Yes, they have no filter, so they will be as honest and as raw as it gets. This is why it is best to test your manuscript before investing in the publishing. It is not about the story and message you want to share; being current is about how you deliver the story and message to your audience.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from writing and publishing their children’s book idea. I am just pointing out that the audience needs to be included in the process. This will definitely give the book the best chance in the market, as the result will be in sync with what kids are currently into and not what we remember from our own childhood.

Susan Violante is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Tuesday
Jul152014

How Much Time Do You Need to Write? 

Guest post by Susan Violante

Many people have great ideas for books. But most people never actually write their books. The most common reason people use as their inability to write is time. But it’s not the lack of time that holds people back from writing; it is their idea of time. 

“I will write a book when I retire” 

How often have we heard that, or even said it ourselves? The truth is that writing is extremely isolating and time-consuming. Beyond just getting words down on paper, we have to revise and polish our work.  The time and effort involved can seem so overwhelming that we might think we can’t do it unless we are retired. I don’t know about you, but my idea of retirement includes traveling, going out with friends, meeting new people, join a knitting club, reading all the books I can never get to, spending time with my family…etc., so the reality is that I will probably have time issues as well after I retire! 

First of all, most of us don’t have a lot of free time. Secondly, not having “enough” time is a complete myth. We all have enough time to write a book. It’s not so much about time as it is about discipline, and discipline doesn’t mean chaining yourself to the computer seven nights a week. It means seizing the opportunities when they present themselves. So here are some tips on how to write a book while living your life. 

  • Determine how much time you spend doing things that don’t really matter in terms of the big picture? I’m not talking about things you have to do like the dishes, working at your job, or taking care of your children. I mean things like watching TV. At the end of your life would you rather be able to say “I’ve seen every episode of Bones or CSI three times,” or “I wrote and published a book?” Granted, some TV shows are great, but how about when they are in rerun—do you watch them anyway? Or even if you want to watch your TV shows, do you really need to watch the commercials? Every hour of TV has about fifteen minutes of commercials.

 

  • Writing does not require a disciplined schedule. It doesn’t require the latest, finest computer on the planet. It doesn’t even require a fancy pen. Writing just requires a few minutes of thought here and there, and then later tying those thoughts together. Get a pen or pencil and some paper, or a laptop—whatever is comfortable for you. Go ahead and sit down in front of the TV, and when the commercials comes on - write. I actually do this for real!

 

  • The point is to break the big things down into small tasks. Rather than chaining yourself to a desk for three hours give yourself three-minute writing spurts. Challenge yourself not to fill several pages, but just a small piece of paper. If you’re using the computer, it’s great if you can turn on the word count so you can watch it increase. Write 100 words. Then 500 or 1,000 words. Each evening, try to break the previous day’s record. Make it into a game and be persistent. If you are consistent, the words and the pages will add up. Do the numbers, 100 words a day equals 700 hundred words a week, and so on. As you get used to writing, and the number of words you put down increase, you will be closer and closer to finishing your first draft. But if you look at the total words your novel should be, compared to how many you actually have at the time, you will be discouraged and stop all together. Enjoy the writing process and see your work grow.

 

  • Don’t edit yourself while you write. Just focus on putting the story down on paper and completing the number of words you set as your goal for the day. No book was ever written in a day—not one worth reading at least. Patience and determination will get the book done. If your goal is to write 500 words a day and those 500 words are poorly written, at least you got them on paper. You can always fix them later. The main thing is to write them so they can be fixed. Ernest Hemingway said he wrote one good page for every one hundred bad pages. Bad writing is no big deal if you fix it before publishing. Not writing is a big deal.

 

  • Time exists all around us if we just take advantage of the moments as they come up. I truly believe anyone who puts his or her mind to it can write a book. It just takes discipline—fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Whether you use them during lunch in your office, when you wake up in the morning, right before you go to sleep, when you are riding the bus or in front of the TV, pick up that pen!

 

Susan Violante is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Sunday
Jul132014

Raising the Sales Bar for Your Book 

Guest post by Susan Violante

Having low expectations results in low book sales, while raising the bar for your book can mean the sky is the limit. 

Maybe you have heard the statistics that most books sell less than 500 copies. Does this means that your book has to be one of them? Who cares what the statistics are? What do they really have to do with your book? Is your book really competing with the plus million books published? Let’s say you write a self-help book—maybe only 30,000 were published this year—that’s still big competition, but it’s smaller than a million, and if yours is a self-help book about succeeding in business, maybe only 3,000 were published on that topic. Plus, many readers will typically read more than one book on any given subject. 

Why do most books sell less than 500 copies?  The quality of the book could be the cause, but I must say that I’ve seen some really badly written books become bestsellers. So although important, many readers will forgive the quality of the production if hooked to the story or topic. In my opinion, sales are all about promotion. The bottom line is that most books don’t sell many copies because most authors give up after giving little or no effort to promoting their books. If people don’t know your book exists, how can you expect to sell it? And if you publish it without caring if you sell it or not, why publish it? 

Being a promoter is not an easy thing, especially after spending day after day writing in isolation! However, it is something that must be done to make all of the effort and time spent on writing and publishing our words worthwhile. After all, it is by sharing our writing that our words come alive. Below are some ways to prepare us for our new promotion persona.

 

Get Feedback

Many authors are shy and afraid to let people read their work. But the more people read your book the more feedback you receive. How can we be confident of our work if we have not tested it before publication?  Having it professionally edited and proofread will still be necessary, but getting a reaction from readers and editing before publication will certainly enhance your book’s possibilities once published. If the book’s feedback is really bad, you at least will have saved a great deal of embarrassment and money by not publishing it, based on the feedback you receive. Feedback also gives you the opportunity to improve your book as you see it through the eyes of other people. Furthermore, when people tell you they like the book, you will feel good about it. You will build your confidence and that will make you enjoy promoting your book.

 

Day Dream about your Book

Okay, I admit that the chances of getting to promote your book on the Oprah Winfrey Show are small, but if you do not dream about doing so, the opportunity becomes not just unlikely, but impossible. Push aside all the “it will never happen” thoughts and for just a few minutes, close your eyes and imagine it happening.

Day dreaming allows us to envision what we wish for again and again, whether it’s being on a radio show, at a book festival, or at a local book signing. Hold those visions. Day dreaming allows us to ask ourselves “What If?” about every possibility and to imagine, and then envision those possibilities happening. It is by envisioning things that we get the desire and the drive to make things happen.

 

Sketch Your Dream

Make a plan by setting your goals first. Start with small goals and increase them as you get further along in your plan. Let’s say your goal is to become a nationally known author. Begin by becoming a well-known author in your own community.  From there move on to the neighboring communities, region, state…you get the picture! You can take this strategy and adapt it to your personal goals. For example let’s say your book is about WWII, you can begin by becoming a WWII expert in the local Veteran organizations, or WWII museums, and move up to the History Channel! By taking baby steps to inform people what you are about, people will better relate to you, and check out your book. Your plan may include visiting organizations and clubs relating to the topic of your book.  The people involved with those organizations and clubs will be more likely to have an interest in reading your book, as they are already interested in the topic!

The point is to connect the dots.  Figure out how you can get your book noticed by using your goals and then follow the dots forwards and backwards until you get them all to connect to achieve your dream!

Susan Violante is the author of Innocent War: Behind an Immigrant's Past, speaker, Blogger, Host of her online radio show I Have Something to Say Live, and Managing Editor for Reader Views and First Chapter Plus. For more information about Susan visit www.susanviolante.com