I share this with you as it is an interesting article on Bookbaby.
Your author website is a reflection of you as a writer and of your book as a work of art. It pays to make sure it is as enticing as the story you’ve spent months (or years) laboring over. Here are six ways to improve your author website.
Every author — independent, traditionally published, or otherwise — needs a website. A Facebook page doesn’t count, nor does a Twitter or LinkedIn profile. In today’s dynamic and competitive book market, you need a space that provides a complete picture of what you’re offering. That space needs to feature your writing, your various channels of engagement, and all the intangibles that set you apart. It’s a critical component of your brand. And while it’s necessary for all authors to have a website, it’s even more important for self-published authors.
© STEVEN SPATZ
Shake and Bake and Double-O Buckshot
By Wayne Zurl
This story was fabricated from an outtake which originally appeared in the Sam Jenkins novel, A NEW PROSPECT. I reworked it to create a stand-alone story. The scene was deleted prior to publication because it didn’t provide ancillary support to the basic storyline. It’s based on two actual incidents which took place in New York in the 1970s.
Are you looking for an easy way to create graphic designs? Several years ago I was introduced to Canva, an online graphic design program. You can use this program to make just about anything you need. Such as Social media posts, posters, business cards, book covers, and ads. I have used this online program to make posters for Facebook, thumbnails for some of the articles on my website and I even made a business card. Oh yes, I also used it to make my banner for the AGT website. I even plan to make a bookmark for my book to give to people. Another cool thing about this program is that if you want someone to work on the design with you they can, all you need to do is send it to their email address however they must have a Canva account.
Best selling writer Jerry B. Jenkins (no relation to my recurring main charaster, Sam Jenkins, or to my maternal side of the family) has asked me to post a link to his new guide on how to write a book in 20 steps from beginning to end on my personal website. After doing that, I thought the AGT members might be interested in obtaining a copy. Here's the link to Jerry's site. https://www.jerryjenkins.com/how-to-write-a-book/
How I Used Author Reach to Increase My List of eMail Subscribers
Many of us met Josh Wiley when he spoke at an AGT monthly meeting about his company Author Reach and how they could help a writer manage and build their email lists to reach more potential book buyers. I’ve been using them since their “Beta” days and continue to use them while marketing my books via mass emails.
But the story goes back further than that AGT meeting in Farragut. I received a tip from another writer who had extraordinary success with this method of book marketing. Here’s that story:
I met Micheal Maxwell at an on-line writer’s workshop more than ten years ago. He wrote mysteries. I wrote mysteries. We critiqued each other’s work, watched each other progress in the publishing world, and kept in contact. Now, with many published novels and stories under our belts, we’re again working together to meet new readers and market our books in a new and less traditional way.
Micheal called me to talk about Author Reach. He briefed me on the concept of building a list of subscribers so we would not only sell a book or two to mystery fans the conventional way, but build lasting relationships with readers who liked the characters in our series.
Micheal started the ball rolling by sending a mass email via Author Reach announcing the release of his new book. He got great results. We spoke again and he emphasized how I NEEDED to get logged in with Author Reach.
So, I put myself in gear and did so. Then we arranged for a cross promotion. We added all my email followers to his more extensive list and sent out an email blast or as it’s called at Author Reach, an eBlast. In a week, I gained 766 new subscribers and had as many downloads for my book, A NEW PROSPECT. I was more than pleased with the results. As writers, we’re not in competition; we’re acting as partners by sharing potential fans. The subscribers decide whether they wish to take advantage of what we’re offering—no high pressure, no hassles. Several months and several promotions later, I now have over 1,400 new subscribers, all buying books.
I’m told this concept of subscriber list sharing will soon become a standard feature on Author Reach, called “Author Connect,” where authors not acquainted, but who write in like genres can meet and promote their books together.
Something potential Author Reach members need to know: When it comes to computers, I’m barely a step above clueless. “Don’t worry,” Micheal said. “The guys at Author Reach will help you with all the technical work.” “Yeah,” said I. “I’ve heard that before.”
How did Wayne make out, you ask? Take a look at the profile page I created…with help from Corey Alderin, co-owner of Author Reach and their technical support man. https://waynezurl.authorreach.com/
I have what’s called a “lead generation page” currently offering my first book, A NEW PROSPECT, for free. You want a free award-winning book? All you have to do is give me your email address (so I can send it) and agree to put your address on my list of subscribers. Easy. The reader wins. And the writer wins. Also shown are my biography and all the books in the Sam Jenkins police mystery series with links to summaries and purchase places. Not bad for a computer dummy. You can’t argue with success.
Only have one book? Don’t want to give away your “Great American Novel” for free? No problem. You must have another story in you, or even better a novelette. That’s something with a 7,500 to 17,500 word count and a perfect thing to give away to people with little time to read those 500 page epics. Write and publish the novelette. Get yourself a snazzy cover that will inspire people to want to read your story. Then create a lead generation page and offer that free eBook in exchange for their email address and agreement to become one of your subscribers. Not sure how to do all that. Visit http://www.authorreach.com/page/features for a video demonstration or ask Josh or Corey how you can best market your books. They’ll give you personalized service.
What’s In a Name?
By Wayne Zurl
A simple and common question, but the correct answer can make your story or novel jump from forgettable to memorable.
I named my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, after my maternal grandfather. But beyond the familial connection, I thought it sounded right for an ex-New York detective who retired and found himself a job as police chief in a small Tennessee town. Jenkins is a good working-class Scottish or Welsh family name and Sam conjures up thoughts of the famous gumshoe, Sam Spade.
Sound is important in writing. Everything verbal needs rhythm. I always read my stories aloud. If they don’t flow and sound good, I change the text or dialogue—something like a songwriter. You need a smooth transition from sentence to sentence, not bumps. The sound of a name is just as important. Call your heroine Betty Boop not Sally Valli.
Image is also important. What or who do you envision when you hear a name? Who would call the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club Casper Milquetoast?
Everything I write takes place in rural Appalachia. The Smoky Mountain region has its own crop of unique family and given names. So, I couldn’t get away with naming a lifelong resident of Prospect Anton Jablonowski. Billy Don Loveday works better.
Everyone’s stories take place somewhere and that somewhere has its own colloquial names. When I lived in New York, I knew people like Vito Cavettelli, Rosa Gemmelli, Stanley Kapusta, et al. They won’t work in Tennessee or even during my character’s occasional forays into southern Kentucky.
Here’s how I find memorable names for my characters:
My wife and I travel a lot. After we settle into a motel room, mix a cocktail, and turn on a rerun of NCIS, one of us grabs a telephone book and looks for typically regional names. We make two columns—one for first names and one for surnames. When I need something for an important character, I mix and match by sound and what fits the personality.
Steal names from billboards or occasionally, highway exit signs. In Georgia, I used two towns to make one character—Varnell Watkins. Political campaign posters are great sources, too. When I needed a handle for a totally repulsive-looking and despicable antagonist featured in the novel A CAN OF WORMS, two candidates unwittingly donated their names. Someone running for office in a neighboring county had the family name Bone. A real keeper. Another candidate was called Telford Something. Voila, Telford Bone surfaced and became a character I hope no one forgets.
Remember the basics. Guys like Luke Skywalker don’t live in Brattleboro, Vermont. Hopalong Cassidy is probably from Wyoming or thereabouts. Chip Cooper might be found cruising Sunset Strip, while Jamal Willie Walker is bopping down Stuyvesant Avenue in Brooklyn. Larry Finklestein works as a podiatrist in Roslyn on Long Island.
I listened to a Webinar last night given by "Story Merchant" Ken Atchity. I've summarized his 8 steps to sell your story to Hollywood:
1. Write a "Log-Line" which is a one or two-sentence pitch to capture the essence of your story. Ex.: "He was left behind. On Mars." for the movie The Martian with Matt Damon. This will be used in advertising to attact an audience.
2. Write up a one-page pitch that includes a description of a strong protagonist and his mission as well as your antagonist. Hollywood likes a story that is American-related, has 3 acts that are clearly defined to form a story arc, and has a strong theme.
3. Prepare a Treatment which is a short, written pitch that includes an emotional reaction to the story. Think of it as a letter to a friend describing your most exciting adventure -- written in present tense. Write only "obligatory" action, not any side activity.
4. Register your Treatment with Writers Guild of America at www.wgaregistry.org/registration. (Costs about $35)
5. Find agents and producers. Check out the Creative Directory (on the Internet). You may want to hire an entertainment attorney who can connect you with the right people. Attend conferences where you can meet Hollywood people looking for stories.
6. Market your Log-Line by emailing one of the agents/producers. If they like it, they'll ask for your Treatment.
7. If successful to this point, don't attempt to write a Screen-play unless you've thoroughly studied the art form which is much different from writing a manuscript.
8. If serious about your project, raise funding for Development.
Mr Atchey's final word was to be positive and not to be discouraged by the low percentage of success of books being made into movies. (Ex. "Blair Witch Project" that was a student film on YouTube.)
Some time back I recieved an invitation to join this WordTips service for free and accepted. Since then, I have found it very useful and am recommending it to anyone who uses Word in their writing. It's a weekly brief newsletter regarding capabilities of Word that aren't well known. Subscribers write in their questions that are answered with a full, clear explanation with the Word task bar and windows on display to follow.
They're always great tips to simplify formatting and word processing (ie. typing with smart quotes instead of straight quotes).
There's no charge for this service and you can discontinue it at any time. You can also ask your own questions that will be addressed . If you'd like to try it, go to tips.net/subservices.html and sign up with your email address.
Perfect is Boring
When I began writing police mysteries I said to myself, “Aha! This is fiction, not a documentary. I have the opportunity to make everything come out perfectly.”
I thought it would be cool to chronicle my old cases and correct any mistakes or ask the questions that never came to mind or make the clever comments I only thought of the day after. It looked like an “if only” moment—a chance for perfection.
Yesterday I posted the late Elmore Leonard’s best advice for good writing. Not everyone agreed with the old boy. Neither did I. Well, I liked 3 or 4 of his rules, but didn’t exactly agree with the rest. But those were his ideas and he has been successful.
Today I’ll try to get back into everyone’s good graces with my own advice. This is one I believe in—100%.
For many of us writing is fun. It’s what comes afterward, the promotions and marketing, that’s too much like work. But that’s life, and something authors must do.
All members receive, or should receive, a report on your page(s) on the AGT site. If you want to know a little bit more about terminology used on the report, I invite you to read attached document. One may also be interested to do some training to get even more familiar. I hope you get something meaningful out of this.
THE LENGTH OF WHAT YOU WROTE AND OTHER THINGS THAT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY
By Wayne Zurl
My problem isn’t unique to writers. If your personality demands that you and other people get the facts straight, you might cringe when you hear blatantly incorrect statements.
As a cop, I hated to hear crimes mislabeled. Most often, I encountered misuse of the term robbery. People would greet me at the door and say, “My house was robbed.” I got tired of saying, “Sorry, ma’am, only a person can be robbed. You weren’t home when someone broke in. It’s a burglary.” They’d look at me like I just said Santa Claus was a pedophile.
I post about taxes yearly since there always seem to be writers whose accountants have steered them wrong, saying that they can't take tax deductions unless they're making money. Not true! The IRS hobby rule doesn't have to apply to writers if you're serious about your writing. All of you need to know that you CAN deduct expenses--and for many, many years. Below is my standard post and at the bottom is a link to changes for this year.
In today's world of hacking, spamming, phishing & all kinds of other threats, that makes life using internet via all kinds of devices more and more cumbersome, for the every day user - we need to protect ourselves and become more aware of these threats.
Even high-raking politicians apparently are not as aware as they ought to be. A small reminder is the current election in the USA. However it is also ones reponsibility in todays age to become more aware and learn what to do to stay protected. The blog is specifically about Ransomware and how to be more proteced against it. You do no want to pay people who have succesfully taken over access to your computer and information on it.
Ransomware threats like Cryptowall, TeslaCrypt, and Locky are on the rise, targeting organizations of all sizes. This paper explains how these attacks work, and why a large number of new infections continue to surface despite existing protective measures. It also provides practical short- and long-term steps that organizations should take to protect against them.
This documentent may be a bit technical, but surely one can get some great advise from it, as to what to do and what NOT to do.
I read in one of my writing magazines about attending a farmer's market. Yesterday I attended the farmer's market in Tellico Village at the Yacht Club. It took me 15 minutes to set up. I had a folding table, folding chair, metal rack, and books. I could park either in my designated spot or close by.
It is open each Wednesday in the summer from 9 to noon. In that time, I sold 11 books, was asked to speak at two book clubs, and had three future buyers.
There is NO COST and you can cancel at any time according to your schedule or weather. You just show up and start selling. The earlier you go, the better spot you'll have. I arrived at 8 am with a cup of coffee and a breakfast bar.
Is there anyone who would like join me for next week, Wednesday, June 22nd? Let me know.
Check out your own town's market. Some charge a yearly fee, some charge per time, and some are free. Let AGT know what you found out so we can participate if we want to.
I was very pleasantly surprised at my response.
The book racks sell at Displays2go.com and are a great source for relatively inexpensive type of display.
At Walmart they have the folding tables and a tent. The tent was only $50 but I had a space in the shade of a large tree.