Love is in the air!

Summer days! Short shorts, tank tops, iced lemonade, and books! Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Present Your Book in the Marketplace

Last night I had a long conversation with my ex-stepdaughter. Last year she moved to another state and her life there is good, but her business has been hurt by the move. She told me she wishes I lived nearby to help her promote her business.

It's the kind of business that needs personal face-to-face endorsements. Emails just won't cut it.

There are many small businesses that need that kind of personal touch. It would be nice if we could go to each book store and explain to the owners, over tea, what a wonderful product we have and why they should provide our babies shelf  space, but it's not going to happen that way. 

Many Independent and/or Hybrid authors are learning the ropes of being small business owners and the challenges of how to introduce their products into the marketplace in a way that will intrigue the potential customer.

The first order of business is to present as flawless a product as you possibly can. That means you must write and rewrite, no matter how long it takes or how many times you have to rewrite, until the story line and the grammar are as close to perfect as you can make them. Don't expect your beta readers to do this for you. Most beta readers are honored to be asked to read and are not fellow writers. They may see problems, but may not be able to pinpoint what they are and many beta readers don't want to hurt your feelings by telling you there is something intrinsically wrong with your manuscript.

Once you have your manuscript as close to perfect as you can make it you can move on to the next step.

What is the next step? No. It is not putting your book up on Amazon.

The next step is to find an editor who knows what she is doing. In a perfect world you would have both a copy editor and a content editor. One polices your grammar while the other looks for the inconsistencies and flaws in your story that would have a reader pelting the wall with your book. A good editor is worth her weight in gold, so don't try to cut corners and use someone just because they are cheap.

You must send the editor your best work and not expect her to be a miner. It is not her job to dig through the sludge heaps to find the nuggets of gold. It is not her job to rewrite and polish the story for you. That is your job. It is her job to find the problems that you are too close to see.

Then you have to do the edits that are suggested. If you have done your due diligence this step should not take too long. If you didn't do a proper rewrite, you will find you have a lot of work to do.

Now it is time to put the perfect face onto your product. The packaging is the first thing anyone will see of your book. Before they see the title, or your name, your blurb, or even an excerpt, they are going to see the cover in all its glory or all its flaws. People do judge the book by its cover, before they buy it. Before they even look to see who wrote it. You must find a cover artist who you can work with. 

(Time for an important note!!! If you are writing a sweet romance or an inspirational novel, do not put a naked body on your cover. The naked body may sell more books, but it is false advertising and the reader will never, ever, ever forgive you for not delivering on the promise your cover makes! Likewise, if your book is riddled with sex, do not put a picture of a white church in the middle of the town square on the cover. Inspirationals may be an up and coming market, but they are not your market. No matter how wonderful you may think your characters are or how uplifting the story, not everyone is going to love them, and the readers will not love them if you sold them sweetness and innocence and gave them hard core sexual situations.) 

A good cover artist will tell you when the cover you want does not go with the story you are selling.

Once you have the best product you can devise, then it is time to put it up for sale on the platforms you have chosen. And marketing begins. But that is a story for another day. 

Just remember, people will forgive many things, but they will not forgive you if you tell them you are selling them a Shetland pony and they get it home only to discover it is a Saint Bernard with gas problems. Be honest in your packaging and your labeling. 

And sell them the best damn book you can!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring is Here!

Spring is here in all her glory. Almost overnight the flowers were gone from the trees and leaves unfurled to their beautiful green glory. The tulips and the lilacs are now past, but the pansies and petunias are blooming away.

One of the strawberries on my hanging strawberry plant is already beginning to go from green to red.

Yes, spring is here. Along with high pollen counts, cars racing by with the bass vibrating the entire neighborhood, and motorcycles that roar in the night.

In the United States this is Memorial Day weekend. My little guys and I will be marching in the parade with the librarian and other children dressed in storybook character outfits. One of my boys is going to be Peter Pan and the other Tinkerbell. I think I am going to be Mother Goose. (I still have to make the costumes.)

This weekend is the time when it is supposed to be safe (in my region) to plant your garden. It is also the time to decorate the final resting place of our loved ones. It is the beginning of the summer season. 

Our lives are always filled with new beginnings. Some are obvious, like the first day of school and a new baby, some are more obscure and harder to understand, like a divorce or a dreaded move.

But it is summertime folks! "Summertime, when the living is easy . . ." or at least you have a chance to get out and imbibe some vitamin D. But remember the sunscreen!

Summer is also a great time to grab a book and a shady spot and enjoy a refreshing breeze.

In honor of Memorial Day I am serving my guests something red, white, and blue. I hope you will enjoy the Strawberry Punch and Blueberry Turnovers with vanilla ice cream.

Have a safe and happy weekend.


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Strawberry Punch Recipe


Directions

In a punch bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Add ice cream; stir gently. Add ginger ale; stir gently. Serve immediately. Makes: 6 quarts.



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Blueberry Turnovers

Ingredients

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon peel. Mash well. Bring to a boil over low heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in butter and remaining blueberries.

Unfold puff pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each pastry sheet into a 12-in. square. Cut each into four squares. Spoon 3 tablespoons of filling into the center of each square; fold diagonally in half and press edges to seal.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Beat egg and water; brush over pastry.

Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Combine confectioners' sugar and milk; drizzle over turnovers. Or you can replace the drizzle with vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or whipped cream. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.