Thursday, February 28, 2013

Business Card Budget

A “must have” for every professional author is a business card with contact information. No one should ever wonder who you are or how to get in touch with you!

Minimal information on your business card includes:
  • Your name
  • Book title
  • Email address
  • Web page

Additionally, you may include the ISBN, a post office box, or FAX number for direct book sales. To avoid unexpected company, do not use your physical address on your business card.

    The reverse side of your business card can be used for promotional ideas and other information. There is space for:
  • Your photo
  • Book cover
  • Your 25 word pitch
  • A tag line from your book
  • List of your other books
  • Social media links, ie, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,
  • Code number for a discount if ordered directly from you

A low-budget idea is to rubber stamp a small picture that coincides with your story or your name on your card. Craft shops have hundreds of unique stamps with letters, numbers, symbols, plants, animals, smiley faces, etc.

Business cards will likely be the least expensive item in your marketing plan, but the most versatile. Keep them in your car, wallet, purse, briefcase, home, and office. Use several of them as bookmarks in each of your books.

Excerpted from: Publish, Write, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged 2nd Edition by Valerie Allen

~ Valerie Allen ~                                
 Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony
Write Publish Sell!
Summer School for Smarties
Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends
Sins of the Father
Suffer the Little Children

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Censoring Your Characters

I have received a review on Amazon for I Stopped Time which I am not sure I quite deserve: “What I like about her (Jane’s) books is that there is no bad or offensive language - something that you cannot say about a lot of books these days.”
This raises an uncomfortable question: should writers allow their characters to swear? My answer would quite simply be, yes - in fact they must, if their writing is to be honest and authentic. As a fellow writer recently blogged: “I work in a factory, and if I was going to depict life in the factory, I couldn't do it without throwing in some foul language. In all honesty, it actually makes me a bit uncomfortable to hear how some of the guys talk sometimes - but my views of decency and propriety don't change the way the world actually is.”
To some, to permanency of the written word means that swearing in print has higher shock value than the spoken word. In 1951, J D Salinger was the first author to use the F-word in The Catcher in the Rye. Over sixty years later, it remains one of America’s most banned books.
We are more familiar with sound of the F-Word. In 1963, Kenneth Peacock Tynan, literary manager for the National Theatre Company briefly became the most notorious man in the country by becoming the first to use it on British television, a move later referred to as a ‘masterpiece of calculated self-publicity.’ Mary Whitehouse only added to the equation when she wrote to the Queen demanding he should be reprimanded by ‘having his bottom spanked.’ How times have changed, Gordon Ramsey (And you, a father of four). This anomaly appears to remain. The opening scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which consists almost entirely of the F-Word, manages to remain inoffensive, but it is necessary to be in the right frame of mind to stomach Vernon God Little.
And yet there are alternatives. Ronnie Barker sought authenticity for his 1973 prison-based comedy-drama, Porridge. By introducing the word, ‘Nark’, to the English language he avoided causing offence and gained an enviable family-based audience of 15 million.
I believe that over-use sorely diminishes the impact of good old Anglo Saxon language. I am currently reading Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, in which the first swear word appears on page 148. It is so shocking in context, coming from Harold’s imagination as it does, and a damning self-assessment of his failings as a father, that it triggered a real emotional response in me. Joyce follows this up by introducing a truly good character called Martina whose language, in my mother’s often-used phrase, ‘leaves much to be desired’. But not knowing this to begin with, the reader may start to judge the character. Because there is kindness in Martina’s intentions, once we get to know her, just as it is in life, her choice of words ceases to be offensive.
Not all readers, it seems, can distinguish, between the views of the writer and the views of their characters. Stephen King offers this comfort: “Not a week goes by that I don’t receive at least one pissed-off letter (most weeks there are more) accusing me of being foul-mouthed, bigoted, homophobic, murderous, frivolous, or down-right psychopathic.”
And so I continue to allow my characters to swear, when the situation demands it. But not Sir James Hastings who will always, for me, remain an English gentleman. But nineteen-year old Jenny Jones? I allow her to swear once - to really grab his attention.
Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. Her first novel, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award and was described by Joanne Harris as ‘A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.’


Sunday, February 24, 2013

What’s Not Up!

Like many authors, we recently reduced our eBook price for the holidays. Our price was 99 cents* until the end of January 2013 or so we thought. It turned out that even after our new price of $2.99 went live on Amazon; the Kindle price remained 99 cents. At first we attributed it to being the weekend, yet it continued. So I asked Amazon why this was happening.
The answer came back that Amazon consulted eBooks connect website and it showed that the Sony version of our book was still at 99 cents. So I checked, sure enough it was at that time. As of the time of this writing, the Sony price is now correct but Amazon still lists it at 99 cents. I suspect that by the time you read this the price will be corrected on Amazon.
What did I learn? First don’t say prices are going to be a certain amount until Amazon updates them on the product page. Second, allow 2 weeks for Sony to process when updating prices through Smashwords. Third, remember lesson for next time we have a Holiday sale and adjust accordingly.
Hope this has been informative to my fellow authors; it certainly was an eye-opener for me.

Lynn Hallbrooks

*All prices quoted are in United States currency.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Believe in the Magic

My Mom, Mattie Pearl Fisher, always told me to believe in the magic. The magic meant miracles. These miracles of life can be big, small and everything in between.  

This book is a journey through the events in her life. There are also the life lessons gained from those events.

 My Mom was born at a time in history when being Black and female was a double curse. You had to look very hard to find any human or legal rights.  Mom stood her ground.  She was confident and fierce, always pushing forward, striving to do things she wanted to do. Mom turned a deaf ear to those who thought they could dictate her life.

 My Mom’s story is very powerful and inspirational; her spirit tenacious and infectious.  Mom encouraged all women she met to never settle for less than they deserved.

Let the tenacity of one woman inspire you to the greatness you were created for.
Excerpts From Believe in the Magic
Mattie was born a Caulbearer.  The Caul or Face Veil is a thin, filmy membrane, the remnants of the amniotic sac that covers or partially covers a newborn’s face immediately after birth. Some believe "caul children” have the ability to see behind the veil of life and death. It’s thought they can communicate with the dead and intuitively “know.” This was true for my Mother.  From Supernatural and Unexplained chapter.
Mattie’s mother and stepfather were cotton sharecroppers. They raised cotton on the plantation of white landowners back in the 1920’s. The sharecropping system was a financially oppressive one. The landowner assumed chief supervision of the farming operations and also retained legal rights to all the crops. Sharecroppers brought only their labor to the bargaining table to create income. The family often asked the landowner for credit keeping them bound financially. Mattie’s family seemed to be in a perpetual cycle of debt.

Even as a child Mattie knew this system was not right.  She would rebel against picking the cotton. One day when she was only 12 years old, her anger at her stepfather and the unfair system finally all came to a head. From Ahead of her Time chapter

This was hardest thing I ever had to do. Holding her hand, I took a deep breath and asked, “Mom are you fighting because you’re a fighter? Or, are you fighting for Crystal and me? I know you’re tired.” I paused, took another deep breath, and dug deep down in my soul. “Mom if you’re tired and you want to go, it’s okay. I’m strong like you. Crystal and I will miss you forever but we will be okay. Do what’s best for you.”
Mom, it hurts so much to see you like this. I don’t know what else to do.” Then a Bible verse came to mind. It was the first Bible verse she taught me when I was a little girl. Holding her hand again, I closed my eye and began to recite the 23rd Psalm aloud. From Sunset chapter