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Posts Tagged ‘achieving your goals’

First …

Please forgive the distance between this post and my last one. I have been popping in through comments and tag surfing. But otherwise I’ve been so consumed with everything that’s going on, and with everything I’ve been learning, that the time hasn’t been available until this Saturday morning to sit down and write a post about what’s been going on and what I’ve been learning. I’m uncomfortable with this much space in between posts, and I’ll do my best not to go this long in the future.

So …

What’s Been Going on with Separation of Faith?

We’re still in the final proofing/revision stage, which is where we’ve been for about a month and a half now. The other editing stages moved along at a nice clip, but things have really slowed down to a frustrating pace at the moment. The change in momentum started when the proofreader at the publisher took a month instead of the quoted 2-3 weeks. I then had to review the proofreader’s recommendations and then accept or decline each one. In a book that will print at 300 pages, there were only 39 notations, almost half of which were formatting errors that happened when the manuscript was changed from a Word document into the publishing design. I declined five of the remaining issues, which were all semi-colon situations.

After completing that process, I had to go through the entire manuscript again because I was allowed up to 50 additional revisions/corrections, which could be as small as a punctuation mark or as large as adding a paragraph. I ended up with 48 changes, 99% of which were tiny-to-small issues, and there was only one big change where I added a paragraph to the Acknowledgments. In three cases, I added clarifying words to a sentence or reworked the wording. That entire process ate up several days.

Then I returned to the publisher the proofreader’s changes, my changes, and the required changes to the cover all in one email on June 28. The cover changes were done almost immediately, except for one error that’s currently being fixed. Yesterday (July 9, almost two weeks later) I was notified that the proofreader’s revisions had been implemented. But my 48 changes haven’t even been started yet.

There’s a big promotion through the publisher that lasts until July 30, which will enable me to purchase a large supply of my books (for submission to reviewers, contests, etc) with free shipping, a free extra 10% copies, plus substantial author discounts. But in order to take advantage of that promotion, Separation of Faith has to be live.

The editorial staff and everyone else at iUniverse as well has been unbelievably fabulous to this point, and I have every expectation that this little log jam will be unplugged come Monday. But I do admit to some frustration. This is amplified, I’m sure, by the fact that I’m going through breast reconstruction at the same time, so my patience is somewhat altered by the cement bowling balls currently attached to my chest wall … 🙂 … At least I’m getting a shape back, though. The only problem at the moment is that “they” don’t move, and if someone hugs me too hard, they get broken ribs. This situation will be rectified by my next surgery, hopefully in early September.

This sort of production issue (I’m referring to the novel again now … 🙂 …) happens all the time when a book is coming out, regardless of the publishing method. So no matter which path you’re considering (or that you’ve already selected) for your own publishing Journey, be prepared to be patient. Setting expectations levels in advance for a long gestation period is a good idea.

That said, my cover is absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait for you to see the gem. And reading through the beautiful proofed PDF, which is already in the book design format, does turn on the light at the end of the tunnel, even if the train has temporarily slowed to a crawl.

If all goes well this coming Monday and things get back on track, I could be holding my first copies of Separation of Faith in my hands by the end of this month. Considering how long we’ve been talking about that event in this blog, that is going to be one heck of a day! I will take pictures and post them here. 🙂

Once Again, Let Me Emphasize the Importance of Editing!

This sounds like a broken record, I know, but seeing the quality of my novel now, as compared to six months ago, I can’t believe I even entertained the idea that I was good enough to edit the book myself (or that any of my relatives were good enough). Professional editing makes more difference than you can imagine!

Separation of Faith has been through two editorial reviews, a copyedit, and a proofreading, each of those followed by at least one and usually two revisions cycles in which I incorporated recommendations from those edits. Yes, the steps have added months to the publishing process. And yes there was a financial investment involved along with the additional time. But when the novel is released, I will challenge any person in the traditional publishing world to tell me that this book would have been more beautifully edited coming out of a traditional house.

And because the do-it-yourself/self-publishing/print-on-demand world is so flooded with every level of book imaginable, a major key to rising about the pack and having a shot at getting noticed resides in the quality of both the writing and the editing. And some will say that the latter is more critical than the former. So even if you’re still pursuing the traditional route on your Journey, invest in having your manuscript edited before you ever start querying. The odds of getting anyone’s serious attention become slimmer by the minute without that investment.  

The Video Book Trailer for Separation of Faith

The more I study the importance of video book trailers, the more I wonder how anyone could consider publishing a book these days without a video as part of the promotion. If you’re at the stage where you’re trying to decide if one is necessary, the answer is yes. Again, this business is so competitive that trying to get attention for the book you’ve slaved over for months/years/decades is a batlle under the best of circumstances. So we all need to be automatically adding a video book trailer to our plans.

The video for Separation of Faith is about half finished. The fellow who’s helping me is a technical/video genius–but he also has a real job plus a wife and three children (ages 5, 3, and six months). So even though the video is only going to be 60-90 seconds long, we’re still only halfway there after three multiple hour sessions together and I-have-no-idea-how-many hours of individual time for both of us. I know I spent about six hours hunting down appropriate royalty free pictures to use along with others I’d already taken and collected during my initial research for the book.

The music on my video will be an original song by my tech genius, and the “script” (words across the screen) is something we’ve designed together (and is very much a work in progress still). But as this thing comes together, I literally get goosebumps on my arms thinking about this film promoting Separation of Faith being on YouTube and every other conceivable site.

There is a ton of information online to help you if you’re at the point where you need to start thinking about a video book trailer. Everyone seems to have a different formula, and the best one for you will undoubtedly be a combination of what you read, who you know, and what you can contribute yourself. But here are a few links to get you going:

Yes, there’s a lot of work involved–but boy is this part fun!

The Press Release Preparation

The actual publishing date of Separation of Faith will be the day my author copies are ready to send to me. But I will need to wait several weeks after that before officially launching my promotional campaign. That’s because of the time required for the novel to go live on all the online and traditional distribution sites.

Sending out press releases to get people excited about the book would not be a good idea if the book isn’t yet available for ordering everywhere. Even though this novel won’t actually be stocked on the shelves of book stores yet, once the title is live you’ll be able to go into any Barnes & Noble, and any other brick-and-mortar bookseller, and order a copy. And, of course, the title will be available on the major as well as minor online sites as well (not to mention my own book store on my Web site: www.SeparationOfFaith.com).

So I have some time to get all of my ducks in a row. And I’ve been studying up on press releases. Over and over again I’ve been reading that sending out a blanket press release–something identical that goes to bazillions of people–is a bad idea. Press releases need to be tailored and individualized. And since I do have a lot of categories of people/organizations to contact (see my blog post on June 18 https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/48-journey-update-whew/), I’ve begun the process of creating different versions. There are core pieces that will remain the same from one to another, but I really do see the importance of tailoring.

The press release that will go to my little local county newspapers, where I can be billed as a “local author” and already have some publicity history through my community service work, will be vastly different from a press release I’ll send to a potential reviewer. I’m not sure how many versions I’ll end up with. As many as it takes, I suppose.

Update on the Rising Star Application (also discussed in my June 18 post: https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/48-journey-update-whew/)

When I launched this blog last November 4, I promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly involved with this Journey. Well, I was not accepted into the Rising Star Program–yet. I’ve asked for more detail regarding what was missing from my marketing and promotion plans, and hopefully that information will be forthcoming. But the important point to note is that I will automatically be reconsidered for the program as soon as 250 retail copies of Separation of Faith have been sold.

I know that doesn’t sound like very many copies, if you haven’t been “out there” trying to sell your book yet. But keep this statistic in mind: More than 90% of all books published (whether they’re published via traditional or alternate paths) sell fewer than 1000 copies total throughout the life of the book!

So, as we all hear all the time, if we’re writing because we want to make money, we’re probably in the wrong business. A tiny group of us amidst the tens of millions reaching for the dream will end up earning a few dollars–and a handful of those will eventually earn enough to make a modest living–and a handful of those will do very well–and a couple of those will become celebrities.

Now, as I say to myself almost every day, after hours of all the stuff I’m summarizing in this post, I absolutely cannot believe I’m doing this voluntarily!

At any rate, once I sell 250 copies of the new novel through retail outlets, the Rising Star option will again become available. Getting into that group would raise the realm of possibilities up a bit within the tens of millions of other dreamers on the Journey.

What’s Been Going on with the Reduction Edit for The Truth About Cinnamon?

Substantial progress is finally being made on this element of the Journey’s Plan. For those who are here for the first time, The Truth About Cinnamon was my first novel. And in preparation for the release of Separation of Faith, I’m re-editing Cinnamon, cleaning things up a bit (because I didn’t have someone hammering the editing advice into my head seven years ago) and shortening the length (all without my many Cinnamon fans knowing that anything is missiing … 🙂 …).

But this is a long novel (as first novels often are), and the effort has been huge. Plus, this part of the Plan has been secondary to getting Separation of Faith as perfect as possible. (And things were set back even further through April and May after my breast cancer diagnosis … I’m doing great, by the way). However, I’m now in the midst of a hard copy edit, and as soon as I’m finished with that effort, I’ll key in the changes, do another proofreading, and then I’ll be finished at last! Yay!

The hope is that the 2nd Edition printing of Cinnamon will somewhat coiincide with the launch of Separation of Faith’s promotion.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to check out a free serialization of Cinnamon‘s original (1st Edition) ten chapters, you’ll find them at: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/

What’s Been Going on with My Other Writing (Articles, Short Stories …)

A new book is taking shape that chronicles my surgery and reconstruction. Obviously, until the physical process is complete, the book won’t be either. But I think this one might be a new slant on what’s become an epidemic event among women in this country. I’ll keep you posted.

If you’d like to check out the free reads on my other stuff, I recommend that you start with the short story Life at Bat, which is hundreds of times more popular than any of the other pieces, for some reason. You’ll find the story and all my other offerings at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/32280899/Life-at-Bat.

Interesting Reading Links that I’ve Been Collecting to Share with You

Stats

  • This blog: 2809 (last posting 2669)
  • My Web site (www.cherilaser.com): 38,515 (last posting 38,017
  • Scribd: 1291 (This is the first time I’ve posted this stat, but it’s been a lot of fun to watch, so I’ll start tracking it here now.) Click on this link to get to my page–http://www.scribd.com/claser–and then click on Documents up at the top.)

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I’ll look forward to hearing from you, as always.

All the best–Cheri

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A Huge Exciting Discovery for Self-Promoters!

Hi and good morning! One of the key blogs that I follow is by Jane Friedman, strategic director of Writer’s Digest (http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/). She published a post this morning about a site called Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com), where anyone–writers, artists, you-name-it–can try to get backing on a project they’ve developed/are developing/are thinking about developing.

People pledge money (doesn’t have to be much) to back a project, but no one actually pays unless the project reaches its pledge goal within the prescribed time frame. Project creators seem to offer give-aways for backers that are appropriate/relevant to the project, and you can see how the pledges are doing and how much time is left. The whole thing is really fascinating and really caught my attention.

And this isn’t just for writers but for anyone who’s trying to get a dream off the ground.

Perhaps this will be another avenue of promotion for Separation of Faith …?

I did pledge to back one project–a woman in Boston who’s trying to start her own publishing business (http://kck.st/9NwlvH). We’ll see if she meets her goal.

Just thought some of you out there might find this of as much interest as I did.

Later …

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Journey Update–Production Just Around the Corner for Separation of Faith

Considering the length of the road traveled since this blog was launched last November 4 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/), not to mention all the curves navigated in the process, this is a very exciting point! The proofreader at the publisher has completed his/her task, and the list (not very long) of recommended changes has been returned to me. My job now is to review those recommendations and either accept or reject them. They’re all pretty minor issues (a punctuation mark missing, or one on the wrong side of a parenthesis or quotation mark, etc.). I’ve already been through the list and accepted all but five. Each of those five addressed sentences with semi-colons–and I went with my interpretation rather than the recommendation.

Some of the issues highlighted by the proofreader were created by the design process itself, wherein the transfer of the manuscript into the publishing world’s book format resulted in some weird symbol showing up or some weird line spacing. But I have to tell you that there were several places where inadvertent errors were found that would have absolutely driven me nuts if they had ended up in the printed book. For example, in one of the revision cycles I changed a sentence, and somehow an extra verb was inserted:

  • The way the sentence is supposed to read–“I waited a long time before taking the plunge, until I was almost forty-four …”
  • The way the sentence appeared to the proofreader–“I waited a long time before taking the plunge, until I was almost was forty-four …”

Throughout the dozens of times I read the manuscript, my eyes went right over the extra “was.” And there were several other situations like this one that the proofreader found. So I cannot stress enough (as I’ve done so often before) the importance of submitting our manuscripts to rigorous, professional editing. After working as hard as we do to create these books, we need to ensure that what we’re putting out there is absolutely the highest quality possible. I know the precise “Oh $&$#!” reaction I would have had if those errors would have shown up in the printed book.

Even with all of this editorial diligence, though, I’m sure there will still be something that slips through, as we’ve all seen in books by even the most famous, prolific mainstream authors. But I’m now confident that the editorial quality of my novel will be on par with the best coming out of mainstream houses–and, for me, that sure beats the option of reading through my long-awaited book and finding errors that would have easily been caught by another pair of trained eyes.

In today’s ever-changing publishing climate, the editorial quality of a book can be as important, if not more so, than the writing. So please don’t shortcut (or overlook) the editorial process for your own creations, after you’ve already invested so much of your time and sweat equity.

Now that the proofreading is complete, I have one more opportunity to go through the manuscript and make any last-minute changes. That process should be wrapped up by the end of the week (and so far there aren’t many new things I want to add/change). Once I return everything to the publisher, signaling the end of this round, the proofed changes and any new things I add will be implemented, and I will then have a last sign-off review. Hopefully that turnaround won’t take more than a week. And then–at long last–the book will go into production. That means I’ll have my first copies of Separation of Faith in hand by the middle of July.

At that point, I’ll need to wait until the title has gone live on Amazon and all the other online retailers (a week or ten days after I receive my copies) before I start sending out the press release, posting the video book trailer, and othewise launching the promotional plan. But I can now see that launch point from where I’m standing, and the view is spectacular!

Domain Connections

This is a part of the Plan that I mentioned in an earlier post, but it’s one that will ultimately prove to be very important. I’m talking about domain names. You can secure domains very inexpensively now (like under $20 a year!), and you don’t need to have a product or a Web site in order to get a domain name. So I encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to get the domain for your own name (and/or your pen name), and for the title of your book(s), no matter what stage of your writing you’re in. (I’m using www.GoDaddy.com as my domain registry.)

And you don’t need to create a separate Web site for each domain name. You can link the domains to any existing site (Web site, blog, etc.) that you already have out there. Social media Neanderthal that I was until last fall, I created a separate Web site for www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com. But now that I know what I’m doing (sort of), I’m going to let the separate Cinnamon Web site expire and then link the domain to my primary site. That’s what I’ve done with the following domains, connecting them to the appropriate pages of my primary Web site (www.eWritersRUs.com).

I did have to ask the fellow who’s doing my video book trailer to show me how to do the linking–and it’s so easy that I did all the rest on my own. (I felt sort of stupid for asking, actually, once he showed me.) If you click on these links, you’ll see what I mean:

The minimal expense for domains is deductible, if you’re making your book(s) a business enterprise (which is what our books do become, if we want anyone to actually buy them … 🙂 …)

Life at Bat

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, part of the Plan/Journey involves publishing other examples of my writing online (free publishing/free downloads). Several of my short stories and articles are currently available at www.FiledBy.com, www.Scribd.com, and www.RedRoom.com. But universally, the short story titled “Life at Bat” ( http://www.scribd.com/doc/32280899/Life-at-Bat) has been getting the most traffic, which has been extremely interesting for me to observe.

The story is a humorous approach to a life message, and is universally applicable. But if you’re someone who attended Catholic school in the 1950’s and ’60’s, you might find an extra level of enjoyment through reading this story–in case you find yourself with a few free minutes where you have nothing else to do.

Stats

  • This blog–2669 (last update–2591)
  • Web site–38,017 (last update–37,689)

Speaking of www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com (which I was doing earlier), the stats at that Web site this morning show 3511. I haven’t really been focusing on that one, but the number is up by a couple of thousand since I last looked. So something is going on there.

Maybe people are checking in to see how the seemingly never-ending reduction edit for the 2nd Edition is coming along … 🙂 …  Answer: I’m finally making great progress. “This summer” is what I’m thinking now for the re-release. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks, as always, for checking in and for following along with this Journey. I love hearing and learning from you! 

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Video Book Trailer

After finishing a draft of this post, I decided to put this part first because it’s so much fun!

This past Tuesday evening, I had my first meeting with the fellow who’s going to be developing my video book trailer for me. He’s incredibly talented–not only a computer whiz but also an accomplished musician/singer/songwriter. So, in addition to his skill with assembling the graphics, photos, etc., for the one-minute film, one of his original songs (which is absolutely amazing) will become the soundtrack. And I can’t wait for you to hear it!

That video will, of course, be a huge part of the book’s promotion, and I’ll post the trailer on this blog first (right before YouTube … 🙂 …) As we make progress with the production, I’ll keep you posted.

I think I’m more excited about this part of the plan than anything else except the book itself.

Rising Star Application

Earlier this afternoon, I emailed (finally) the completed Rising Star application that I’ve been working on for the past several weeks. As a refresher regarding what that’s all about: Because Separation of Faith earned the Editor’s Choice designation, I became eligible for the Rising Star program. Reaching that level would be incredibly important since, among other things, a commissioned sales force would then begin presenting my novel to booksellers through privileged publishing avenues that writers (especially unknown writers) can’t get to.

This is the type of support that mainstream authors receive from traditional publishing houses. But such assistance in the self-publishing world is difficult, if not impossible, to find. I’m not sure what other POD (print on demand) organizations offer, but iUniverse has varying levels of marketing assistance available for books that have met their quality criteria (writing as well as editing) and that have been written by authors who are already motivated and organized with a marketing and promotion plan.

Well … the novel did earn Editor’s Choice … and I’m certainly motivated. Also, as I’ve indicated in previous posts, I’ve had plenty of marketing and promotion ideas and directions in mind for a long time. But I hadn’t pulled everything into one place, which is what the Rising Star application forced me to do.

Then, once I was immersed in the process, I started to get a little overwhelmed. The undertaking that will begin in a few weeks when the novel comes out is hugeand as I’ve said to a few friends recently, I must be nuts to be doing this voluntarily. But onward we march.

In an earlier post, I shared a few of the questions in the application, the majority of which required narrative answers. Here are a few more of those:

  • While marketing your book, what will be the challenging areas where you might want to seek professonal help?
  • What kind of research did you conduct when writing your book?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Specifically, how do you plan to market to your target audience?
  • What is the one unique thing about your book?
  • Who are you planning to approach for endorsement quotes, a foreword, or other testimonials?

Sort of thought-provoking, right? How about this one: What things do you not want to do while marketing your book?

I answered, “Other than dancing with a stripper pole, I’m guessing not much.” 🙂

But here’s where the answers started to become overwhelming when all of things I want to do were pulled into a single place:

Question–What publicity do you have planned?

Answer:

1. Publish electronic press release, with testimonials and link to video book trailer to all of my social media sites:

2. Send electronic press release, with testimonials and link to video book trailer to:

  • My email list (1000)
  • Distribution lists of three of my contacts (another 2500-3000)
  • Rotary District Newsletter
  • Hackensack Rotary Club
  • Felician College “Older Is Better” Group (where I’ve been a speaker)
  • Cresskill-Demarest Rotary Club (where I’ve been a speaker)
  • New Jersey state and regional newspapers and magazines (where I’ve lived for ten years): The Record, The Chronicle, The County Seat, 201 Magazine—Northern New Jersey, two regional newspapers
  • Newspapers in areas germane to Separation of Faith and places where I lived for extended periods of time: Kettle Falls Focus (Kettle Falls, WA), The Statesman-Examiner (Colville, WA), The Seattle Times, Bellevue Reporter (Bellevue, WA where I graduated from high school), San Francisco Chronicle (I lived and worked in the Bay Area for 14 years), San Mateo County Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution (I lived and worked in the Atlanta area for 18 years), Cartersville Daily Tribune (Cartersville, GA), Bartow Neighbor (Cartersville, GA)
  • Chambers of Commerce: Kettle Falls, WA, Bellevue, WA, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, San Mateo, CA, Charlotte, NC—All locations are significant to the novel.
  • Libraries: Alpine, NJ (where I live), Bogota, NJ (where I used to live and where there are six copies of my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon), Cresskill, NJ (my local area), Hackensack, NJ (where I used to live and where there are three copies of my first novel, The Truth About Cinnamon), Teaneck, NJ (local area). Personal calls will also be made at each library, with particular emphasis on those where I have contacts on their boards of trustees.

3. Upload Video Book Trailer to:

And then …

Question–Please include any marketing plans, suggestions, ideas that you would like to use to market/sell your book:

Answer:

In addition to everything listed in both this document as well as the Title Information Sheet:

a)      Every element of the marketing process will be tracked and discussed through my blog: A Real Journey from Publishing Obscurity to Somewhere Else (www.cherilaser.wordpress.com). The mission of the blog, launched in the fall of 2009, is to share the entire process surrounding Separation of Faith (writing, editing, revising, publishing, marketing) with other writers. Also included are postings of information and links to lots of writing/publishing-related issues, so any writers following me can learn along with me. The launch of this novel will be a very big deal on this blog and one that a lot of people will be anticipating.

b)      I will enter Separation of Faith in the following contests, all of which are distinctly open to self-published books:

  1. Readers Favorite Award–June 30, 2010 (Doubt I’ll make this deadline now.)
  2. ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year–Opens Summer 2010
  3. 7th Annual National Best Book Awards–September 30, 2010
  4. The Eric Hoffer Award–January 2011
  5. DIY Book Festival–January 25, 2011
  6. The IPPY Awards (Indep. Publ. Book Awards)–March 2011
  7. 2011 Writers-Editors Int’l Writing Competition–March 15, 2011
  8. National Indie Excellence Awards–March 31, 2011
  9. Writer’s Digest Self-Published Competition–May 2011
  10. 2011 Hollywood Book Festival (just missed 2010)–June 2011
  11. The Independent Novel Award (by Podler)–Chosen from books reviewed

 c)      I will seek reviews from the following:

  • ForeWord Clarion Book Reviews
  • Twitter Reviewers
  • The New Podler Review
  • Readers Favorite Reviews
  • Top Reviewers at Amazon
  • Kirkus Discoveries
  • Publisher’s Weekly
  • Library Journal
  • Booklist

d)     I will promote Separation of Faith on Kindle, Sony Reader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

e)      Once my marketing plans develop legs, I will pursue guest posts on strategic blogs, beginning with “There Are No Rules,” the blog of Jane Friedman, strategic director of Writer’s Digest.

f)       I’m going to create and distribute a podcast of Separation of Faith. (Will attend a webinar on June 24 to learn the specifics of how best to accomplish this line item.)

g)      Using the results from the first six months of marketing and promotional activity, I will approach the following sites for coverage, which are not typically receptive to self-published books unless there’s some sort of buzz:

  • Bookslut
  • Beatrice.com
  • Chicklit.com
  • Bookreporter.com
  • Curledup.com

Stop. Breathe.

I also had to list all of the specific events I plan to hold. Of course, since I don’t know yet the precise date when the book will be live on Amazon and all the other online bookseller sites, I couldn’t list the event dates. (Mid-July is looking possible.) But I do have commitments from the different venues–and there will be twelve events in the first 6-8 weeks, the largest of which will be the Book Launch Party, which I’ll be holding at the Hilton in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, where my Rotary club meets every week.

The answers I’ve shared with you in this post represent three of the thirty questions asked in this application. And even though I’ve been grumbling a lot as I put the thing together, the end product has actually given me a very well organized plan to follow. So, even though I’m praying that I’ll be accepted into the Rising Star program, I’ll be very clearly directed if I’m not.

And reminding myself about the mission of this blog (see Blog Launch Posting on November 4, 2009), I should have a shot of getting there on my own with this new, comprehensive map I’ve managed to develop as a result of the application process.

Guess we’ll start finding out soon enough.

Quotes and Testimonials

This is a really important part of credible promotional materials. I’ve approached several people who I admire very much and who are respected in the world of publishing/journalism/entertainment. Four have said they’d be willing to read the book, and three of those are already doing so. Of course, there’s always the chance that one/some/all of those folks won’t like what I’ve written. (Yikes!)

But that’s a chance we have to take, if we want to get some of those great quotes we see on other authors’ books. Right? Right. Scary, though, to be sure!

As soon as I actually have the/any/some quotes/testimonials in hand, I’ll let you know who’s given them to me and what they’ve written. (Did I say yikes yet?)

Authors as Entrepreneurs–Interview

Regardless of whether you’re a writer determined to exclusively pursue the traditional Journey to publishing, or an author who’s looking at the different (and viable) options now available to us, I strongly recommend your taking a look at this seven-part interview: http://www.sramanamitra.com/2008/07/10/opportunity-within-the-long-tail-of-book-authors-iuniverse-ceo-kevin-weiss-part-1/. Kevin Weiss is the CEO of iUniverse, and even though the interview was done two years ago, his comments are still hugely relevant today (a good indication of his insight).

Hopefully, you’ll find something enlightening (or at least somewhat interesting) in what he contributes to the conversation.

Time for a Nap

Don’t I wish. Now that the Rising Star application is finished, I need to focus (again … more … still …) on the reduction edit of The Truth about Cinnamon. Who knew six or seven months ago that all this other stuff was going to take so long. (Of course, my surgery thing got in the way a little. But I’m really doing well now, thank heavens.) At any rate, I need to get that edit finished pronto, because the 2nd Edition of Cinnamon is very important to the Journey in the long run.

Short Stories and Essays/Articles

If you’d like to check out a little free reading, I’m mentioning again that I’ve published several of my short stories and essays/articles on the following Web sites. The free serialization of Cinnamon can also be found at the FiledBy and Scribd links.)

Thanks So Much for Stopping By. Please Let Me Hear from You! And I hope Everyone Has an Absolutely Fabulous Weekend as Summer Officially Rolls In!

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The Shift from Writing/Editing to Marketing/Promotion is a Challenge

Looking back periodically on the launch post for this blog last November 4 is healthy. There’s no better way to remind myself how much ground has been covered. But, frankly, the place I’m in right now feels a bit strange.

Separation of Faith is going through the proofreading cycle at the publisher, so there isn’t anything for me to do with the manuscript until they send me the galley for my review. (I’m expecting that to happen sometime this week.) And although my third novel has taken an early shape, I’m not yet doing any research or even outlining yet. So I’m in this strange sort of limbo where my writing–the reason I’m on this crazy path in the first place–has taken a backseat to the marketing and promotional elements of the Journey/Plan.

Although I’m maintaining a writing presence through this blog and other social media outlets, there’s a big difference between this kind of writing and the kind that is my passion: the development of characters woven into a storyline pulled from my imagination. And I have to tell you that the focus on my third novel will increase shortly (somehow I need to find the time) because my jam-packed days seem a bit empty without my passion being fed (for at least an hour a day–a new goal).

Meanwhile, if I’m not writing my third book, what the heck am I doing? Well …

Getting Ready for the Book Launch

As we’ve discussed many times over the last seven months, creating a quality book ends up being the easy part, if our goal is to have some measure of success with that book (where at least several people actually buy the book). And believe me, all the publishing professionals who repeatedly make that point really know what they’re talking about.

For example, here are a few of the things I’ll be working on today:

  • Expanding my social media presence (an ongoing, never-ending process). By the way, I published three short stories and four articles yesterday on my Red Room site (www.redroom.com, search on Cheri Laser). Those seven pieces are also available on Scribd.com where I published the free serialization of The Truth About Cinnamon. (This link will take you to one of the stories http://www.scribd.com/doc/32280899/Life-at-Bat. You can get to the rest on that same page.)
  • Completing the Rising Star application for iUniverse. Because Separation of Faith earned the Editor’s Choice designation, I’m eligible for this additional recognition, which would give me a commissioned sales force that would present the novel to booksellers. This application requires me to outline my entire marketing and promotion plan for the first several months after the book’s release. (I listed a number of the questions on the application in my post #44 on May 28.)
  • Writing to every person I know, who’s somehow connected to the publishing industry, asking if they’d be willing to take their time to read the copyedited manuscript for a potential endorsement/testimonial. This was already a line item on my marketing plan, but the Rising Star application forced the to-do into action.
  • Studying the rudiments of how to create a video book trailer (which will be uploaded to YouTube, my blog, my Web site, Facebook, and every other place I can think of). I have a great guy who’s going to help me with this incredibly important element of the promotional plan, but my input about the organization and content of the video will be crucial. And because the video will be short (2-3 minutes), every second is important. There needs to be a script and some combination of moving video, stills, narrative voiceovers, testimonials, comments from readers, a comment from me(?), all set to carefully chosen background music. When I meet with my video guru, I need to at least look like I know what I’m talking about. Here are three links, in case you’re interesting in exploring the subject yourself: 

So, that’s what’s on tap for today (yikes!). Other things on the list for the next couple of weeks include:

  • Gaining agreement from as many people as possible who will help distribute the press release to their contact bases.
  • Figuring out how to link my new domain names (SeparationOfFaith.com, CheriLaser.com, ReinventingYourPossibilities.com, and MakingYourWordsWork.com) to my existing Web site so I don’t have create separate sites for each one. I think the fellow who’s helping me with the video will be able to help me with this as well. My instincts tell me this shouldn’t be very difficult, but that’s the extent of what I know at this point.
  • Consolidating every contact/email address in my world into a single group for distribution of the press release and other promotional communications.
  • Lining up all of the promotional events for the first three months after release, starting with the book launch party, and continuing with book readings and signings, and speeches.
  • Lining up all of the media for publicity (local newspapers, magazines, TV and radio shows). After Cinnamon was released, I was interviewed for a TV show called “The Book Authority,” which airs in Connecticut. I’ll be approaching the host of that show to see if he’d be willing to interview me again for Separation of Faith. Securing that interview will give me a reference to help get additional interviews that are more local to my area.

I know there are other to-do’s that I haven’t listed, but I’m exhausted just looking at what I’ve already written here. And I guess I’d better wrap this up and start moving!

But First … Update on Cinnamon Edit 

An element of the Plan launched last November (and nearly forgotten with my surgery and all) is the edit of The Truth About Cinnamon so we can print a slightly more streamlined second edition. I am finally focusing on that task, and I must tell you that moving off the above list for a few hours each day to edit that story feels almost like a vacation! The new goal is to have the edit completed by June 18. I’ll post a big Yay! once that goal is reached.

Stats

These haven’t been updated for awhile:

  • This blog: 2591 (last update: 2327)
  • My Web site: 37,689 (last update: 36,150)

Hope You’re Having a Great Week!

 

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Book Expo America

In June 2004, a few months after my first novel (www.TheTruthAboutCinnamon.com) was released, I attended my first Book Expo America (BEA), which was held in Chicago that year from June 3-6. BEA is the book publishing industry’s annual trade show, and I remember the 2004 event distinctly for many reasons. One of those was the fact that the four days left me like the cliched deer-in-headlights with respect to the size, scope, and complexity of the industry in which so many of us have decided we want to play.

But I also remember the Saturday of that trip (June 5, 2004), which happened to be the day of the Belmont Stakes–the third leg of horse racing’s triple crown. And that year was the first possibility of a triple crown winner in a quarter century, with a horse named Smarty Jones having won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The story of that horse was both heart warming and heart-rending and had captured the attention as well as the emotions of the entire country.

I remember standing in the lobby bar of my Chicago hotel shortly before 6:30 pm (after a whole day of being at the convention) as the race got underway. There must have been 200 people in there, all watching the multiple television screens, screaming and yelling for Smarty Jones to win.

And we all thought that’s what was going to happen–until the last few seconds of the race when an upstart horse named Birdstone barely snuck by Smarty Jones to win the race and steal the triple crown from nation’s soul. You would have thought that someone had died in that hotel bar.

And I was so moved that I wrote an article about the whole thing (see topic of Scribd.com publishing later on this post). At any rate, that was the last time since then that there’s been a possibility of a triple crown. But there’s always hope, right? Because the races are run again every year. But I can’t imagine another triple crown season like 2004.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Smarty Jones story, I recommend your Googling him. You’ll have a real treat ahead of you.

But back to Book Expo America … I attended the annual convention every year after that, except for one–and except for this year. Most of the time the event is held in New York City, but there was one in Washington, D.C. in 2006, I think. This year’s event was in NYC, and I was all set to go until the breast cancer thing came up. (Hope my refund gets processed as promised … 🙂 …)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, though, on the different seminars, panels, and workshops that took place at this year’s BEA–and clearly one of the headliners was the whole subject of e-books. As I’m sure you know from your own reading, that seems to be the biggest hot topic in the industry. In case you’ve missed these articles/posts, here are a few that might be of interest to you as you plot your own direction toward the Dream:

Clearly, whether we’re pursuing the Dream via a traditional route or some version of Do It Yourself, the e-book factor is not going to be optional for any of us who are looking for even a small measure of success. My first novel (The Truth About Cinnamon) is now available on both Kindle and Sony Reader, and the new novel (Separation of Faith) will be as well. Last week I received a note from a fellow whose novel (The Aquarians by Eric Rankin) is one that I edited and that he published using iUniverse. He’s doing extremely well with his sales, and he recently received an e-book royalty check that, as he put it, was “not too shabby.” I’ve spoken with other authors who tell me that their e-book royalties are far exceeding those of their hard covers and paperbacks. Why? Well, the royalty percentages are higher, for starters. So even on a less expensive book ($9.95 for a Kindle title), 50% royalty is higher than a 10 or 20 percent royalty on a $20 hard or soft cover.

No matter which approach you’re taking toward the publishing of your work, please take time to educate yourselves on all the elements of the e-book revolution.

And I highly recommend attending the 2011 Book Expo America, which will be held in New York City again in May. Especially if you’ve never been before, the event will be unbelievable for you. And the day before the convention opens, there will be a DIY Authors Conference. You can find out more by going to the Book Expo site–http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/Press-Information/Press-Releases/BEA-Moves-To-NYC/–and you can be sure that I’ll be there in 2011!

Scribd.com

This free publishing site (www.Scribd.com), which is available to all of us, is where I published the serialization of The Truth About Cinnamon‘s first ten chapters. And this weekend I’m going to publish a number of articles and short stories there as well–things I’ve been keeping to myself, for some reason. One of the articles was mentioned above in the Smarty Jones scenario. I wrote the piece on the train home to New Jersey from Chicago, still emotionally drained from the devastating race the night before.

I’ll do a quick post with the link to all that stuff as soon as everything has been uploaded. Meanwhile, I highly recommend your checking the site out yourselves, if you haven’t already.

Update on the Journey

Separation of Faith is now in the hands of a professional proofreader at the publisher. This is all part of the mandatory element of this Journey that requires a quality book at all levels (development, writing, and editing) in order for the mission of this blog (see November 4 Blog Launch Posting) to stand a prayer of succeeding.

Once the proofreading is complete, I’ll receive what’s called the “galley” and will have one more opportunity to put in my two cent’s worth/make any last minute changes.

The initial cover design is complete, and seeing that art work was incredibly exciting. The fact that this is actually going to be a book soon really starts hitting home when you see the cover. The first draft (not the official term, I’m sure) of the cover needs to have some changes made, but we won’t get to that part until the proofreader has finished. Everything happens through a fixed structure in the design process.

Concurrent with all of this, I’m working on my Rising Star application, which is a program I’m eligible for because Separation of Faith has earned the Editor’s Choice designation. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if I’m accepted into the Rising Star program, I will receive assistance with the book’s marketing and promotion. But in order to be accepted, I have to be extremely clear and detailed regarding the marketing and promotion plans I’m already envisioning/setting up.

In addition to all the standard tag lines, descriptions, bio, etc., here are some of the questions on the Rising Star application:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Specifically, how do you plan to market to your target audience?
  • Is there a local angle to your book? If yes, please explain.
  • What is the one unique thing about your book?
  • How many hours a week do you plan to spend marketing your book?
  • Name three other books that are comparable to your book.
  • What kind of research did you conduct when writing your book?
  • List the professional associations, writers groups, book clubs, fraternities/sororities, churches and/or community groups you are a member of:
  • How many people can you list on your personal contact mailing/email list?
  • Who are you approaching for endorsement quotes, a foreword or other testimonials?
  • List your media contacts (reporters and editors, radio/tv hosts, bloggers, Web site editors, etc.).
  • How many units of your book would you realistically like to sell based on your marketing plan?
  • List the dates and locations of all the promotional events you have scheduled.
  • List all of the outlets (media and otherwise) that you plan to pursue for publicity.

This represents about two thirds of the questions on the application. Fortunately, I’ve been given a deadline extension to June 11 due to my surgery, and I’ve been working each day to fill in all the blanks.

These are questions you might want to keep in mind with respect to your own Journey as well. As we’ve discussed in earlier posts and comments, traditional publishing houses no longer have budgets for marketing and promotion unless you’re a celebrity author. That leaves the majority of us carrying the marketing and promotional ball, even if we manage to find our way to a published book through the traditional path.

I will, of course, keep you updated on the progress of this application as well as the ultimate decision about whether or not I’m accepted. Everything I’m scheduling/planning/explaining will have to be done anyway, whether I’m accepted or not. But I sure would appreciate having a commissioned sales force helping me out by presenting Separation of Faith to elements of the industry that I don’t know how to reach–and that’s what the Rising Star program would do for me.

Social Media Integration: One thing that is already going to happen is that I’ll receive assistance integrating the release of Separation of Faith into all of the social media outlets in which I have a presence. I have a rudimentary idea of how to do this, but I will be happy to have folks who do that sort of thing all day lending their expertise.

There are so many pieces involved with a successful book launch that I’m exhausted after covering just these few. Certainly one of the keys is to focus only on what can be managed in a given day. If too much time is spent looking at the whole process at once, I’m guessing that “frozen in place” might become a possibility.

Sometimes, if I think too hard, I long for those days when I was simply mired in my tenth editing cycle … 🙂 … And I’m already fantasizing about those wonderful hours/weeks/months I’ll be spending in the research and writing of my third novel.

Honestly, we all must be totally insane to do this voluntarily …

One More Link for You

In the May/June 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest, there’s a big section on “101 Best Websites for Writers”–http://www.writersdigest.com/article/101-websites-2009. This is definitely one to keep close at hand, no matter what your goals are for the Journey or how far along you are.

Have a Wonderful Memorial Day Weekend

Hopefully, we’ll all take at least a moment to remember why we have this holiday, thanking and honoring those who have given their lives so we can live freely in this wonderful country, pursuing our dreams in a place where anything is possible.

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A New Plan within the Journey

The other day, I received a suggestion from http://worddreams.wordpress.com/ (a blogger buddy) who is also preparing to promote her books while she’s working on a new one. She’s a teacher and has proposed a shared-goal summer once she’s through with this school year. What a great idea, right? This sort of takes the learning-as-we-go premise to an entirely new level.

Copied here to officially get this thing going are the comments we’ve shared back and forth over the last few days:

April 27 by Cheri

Hi! You might have already seen the April 26 article in The New Yorker–Publish or Perish by Ken Auletta. But if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_auletta.

It’s long and makes for good reading over lunch or coffee or a glass of wine. But the insights presented about the digital era of publishing are amazing.

Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’m really impressed with your sales progress thus far, and I hope to be following in your footsteps beginning in June.

April 28 by WordDreams:

Fascinating article. I’ve been following Amazon and their efforts to keep ebooks below $10. Seems they’ll lose, but it’s early in the game. The biggest news is that ebooks open the door to many non-traditionally published books. Mine, unfortunately, have too many tables and pictures for most ebook platforms. Yours though, won’t have that problem. I’m sure you’re looking into it.

Let’s set up a plan in June–inspire each other to make some goals and meet them. I’m done teaching so I’ll have the time. Until then, I’ll be checking your progress on your book!

April 29 by Cheri:

I’d love to set up an inspirational plan with you! Separation of Faith will be coming out in June (not sure of the date yet), and unbelievably, I need to get started on my next novel. Somebody is bound to ask me what’s in the queue while I’m promoting the new novel, and I need to have an answer. So having an inspirational plan that helps both of us sounds like a terrific idea!

April 30 by WordDreams:

I’m with you on both. I have to promote my current books while writing my next. Let’s set some goals, share them with our readers and each other, chat about our progress, see where it goes.

What kinds of goals? Words toward our book, marketing outreaches, what are you thinking? (This sounds fun!)

OK. Back to my novel…

April 30 by Cheri:

This does sound like fun! Thanks for coming up with the idea!

One of my major goals is to sell 5000 copies of Separation of Faith before the end of the year (in the first six months after release). I know that probably doesn’t sound like many copies when compared against the mega-sellers. But 2500-5000 is actually quite huge for the average book, especially for a relatively unknown novelist.

That target sales range is the one that indicates to the publishing world that there’s some sort of buzz circulating around a book–and that will attract the attention I’m seeking (as presented in my blog’s mission in the launch posting on November 4).

That’s why securing the Editor’s Choice designation was so important during the editing process I blogged about during the first few months of this year. I need to be able to present with confidence the fact that Separation of Faith is every bit the quality book coming out of a mainstream publishing house–and now I’m able to do that.

Of course, reaching that goal will reguire a huge amount of legwork to promote the book in my local area (tri-state New York City area–New Jersey, New York, Connecticut), as well as a comprehensive management of social media. The scope is so enormous that I need to take the list and break each item down into small pieces that can be realistically handled in a day. If I look at the whole list at once, I get sort of weak.

My second goal is to have my third novel ready to pitch by the next Writer’s Digest conference in January 2011. That doesn’t mean that even the first draft of the novel will be finished. For me that means the story will be fully outlined; the characters will be developed; and the bulk of my research will be complete.

That three-part effort is a tall drink of water running in tandem with the Separation of Faith goals. But that’s what I’m going to shoot for, and then we’ll see what happens.

Knowing that all of this is on my plate will, I’m hoping, help me move quickly through my surgery next week and the recovery. I’ll need two more surgeries over the next five months, but those will both be outpatient. And barring any complications from this first (and biggest) one, I’m told that I should be feeling well enough to give my next speech on May 18. (Pretty unbelievable, right?) So I’ve left the commitment on my calendar–sitting out there as a magnet to help pull me forward.

All the little goals feeding the big ones will be what’s fun to follow during this intra-blog inspirational publishing duet!

Now I’m excited to hear about what you have in mind on your end. Would you like to stay within the 6-7 month timeframe for this inspirational plan? Or would you prefer to stay within the summer months? I’m good either way since I can figure out where I’d need to be by September in order to be on track for my end-of-year objectives.

Hopefully we’ll get some input from our readers on this too. And I think this endeavor will help me more effectively target my blogging efforts and more efficiently use my social media time. Of course, I will continue to learn as I go, testing the waters to see what works.

Great idea again! I’m going to copy and paste these initial comments of ours into a blog post to officially announce what we’re doing. Can’t wait to get started with you!

Hope you’re having a terrific week!

*******************************

LET THE GAMES BEGIN! 🙂

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