Guest Post (and Giveaway!): 3 Things New Authors Need to Know About Self-Publishing by Michael Phillip Cash

Today, I’m happy to welcome to our humble e-abode Michael Phillip Cash, multi-genre author, screenwriter, and all-around good egg (I assume). After some wise words about self-publishing (a topic he probably knows more than three things about), there’s a link to a giveaway. The giveaway prizes are a $25 Amazon gift card and the signed 4-book A Haunting on Long Island series. I haven’t read the series, but it looks like a pretty solid and intense time. Enjoy!

Michael Phillip Cash3 Things New Authors Need to Know About Self-Publishing

by Michael Phillip Cash

As the self-published author of more than ten novels, I can definitely say I know a bit about the process of self-publishing. I’ve been at it for years and I’ve accumulated a lot of information and I love passing it on to anyone looking to publish his or her own books. Below are just a few of the things I’ve learned along my self-publishing journey.

Get Your Name Out There
Publicity is everything. If you’re not making a brand for yourself, don’t bother writing. Your name should be known by as many people as possible. Get social on social media and do some genuine engaging. Join online writer’s groups and post often. Position yourself as the go-to guy or gal for self-publishing related info. People tend to be more inclined to return the favor when it comes time to share your book info.

Wait, Wait and Wait Some More
You’re going to spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for your book to be discovered. Waiting for your book to be read. Waiting for book reviews to be posted. Waiting for a mega movie deal.  Just waiting. Don’t let that discourage you. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

Keep Followers Informed
Tell people what’s happening via newsletters, social media posts and word of mouth. As you grow your list of followers and subscribers, you need to keep them up to date on your writing, publishing and marketing efforts.

Marketing, promoting, informing and waiting is all part of the self-publishing process. I won’t lie. Self-publishing can be difficult and time-consuming, but it is definitely incredibly fun and rewarding.

Michael Phillip Cash is the author of the four-book series A Haunting on Long Island. Readers can connect with Michael on his website and Facebook.

and now, as promised, the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Something had to give…

Yeah, nothing for a couple of days here — just how I want to follow-up one of the best weeks I’ve had traffic/share/etc.-wise. I’ve got a couple of posts ready to go for Friday, and I’ve finished 5 books already this week, so it’s not like I’m hurting for material. Just hurting on time and energy.

There’s a good reason for this — and I’ll talk about it sometime. In the meantime, come back Friday.

GUEST POST (and a little more): My Top Five Writing Tips for New Authors by Anita Dickason

Anita DickasonRetired Dallas police officer turned detective novelist, Anita Dickason, is sharing the good news about her debut detective novel series, featuring strong female lead characters.

To kick things off we’re highlighting Sentinels of the Night, which puts FBI Tracking Agent Cat Morgan on the trail of a brutal serial killer.

Cat teams up with town police chief Kevin Hunter to accomplish one crucial goal: catching the sadistic killer before he strikes again. Although Cat and Kevin soon recognize that the romantic tension between them is undeniable, both hard-working, dedicated professionals know that catching the killer comes before anything else. Cat and Kevin must set aside their personal feelings to put a final end to the killer’s reign of terror.
Sentinels of the Night
This week, Dickason is showing up around the Book Blogosphere with some guest posts. We’re happy to have her drop by this little patch of cyberspace with these writing tips and a giveaway. Click here to enter.

My Top Five Writing Tips for New Authors

I came across a website that ran a short story contest. The theme was based on a picture posted
on the site and was limited to 500 words. The image caught my attention. A tattered and broken
doll stood in a barren, run-down old room with spider webs and torn and stained wallpaper. I
later learned the doll did exist and was used in haunted houses. While it was designed to be eerie,
there was also a sense of tragedy.

I thought what the heck, its only 500 words. I wrote my first fictional story titled Not Dead, Not
Dead. To my utter amazement, I won third place. I was hooked. I now have two published
books, Sentinels of the Night, and Going Gone!, and am working on a third.

I have learned a lot about the craft of writing along the way and would offer these suggestions.

1) Write! Now that seems like a simplistic answer to a complicated question: how do I start?
However, it is so true. I enjoy talking to writing groups about writing and publishing.
Someone will always ask this question. Most everyone who has a yen to write has ideas
rolling in their head. Start putting them down on paper, just start writing.

2) Start with the challenge of a short story. It is a fun way to learn the dynamics of writing.
When limited to 500 or 1000 words, you cannot ramble. Once the story is complete,
submit it to a short story contest or magazine.

3) Don’t worry about perfection in the first draft. Get the ideas and flow of the plot down.
Trying to get a paragraph or dialogue 100% perfect will only slow down the creativity.
Write, get it all down, then go back and edit.

4) Keep a notepad by the keyboard. It helps to keep track of character names, dates, times
and other pesky details that can get lost. I use multiple changes in POV (point of view) as
I shift between agents and locations. The technique can get complicated, and I use the
notepad to keep track of who knew what and when.

5) Edit. There are software programs that can be invaluable. I use Grammarly and
ProWriting Aid. Each has several great features to catch not only errors in punctuation
but also sentence structure, overused words, etc.

For more information on Sentinels of the Night and the second Tracker novel, Going Gone!,
please see my website or the book trailers.

www.anitadickason.com
Sentinels of the Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m00v2W4K4o
Going Gone!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGI9MzkBkSE

WRITER’S WRITE PROGRAM

Inkitt launches a free program to help you turn your idea into a novel within 30 days.

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? There are millions of people in the world who have ideas floating around in their heads that they want to write down but never find the time.

Inkitt, the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, will be launching their first ‘Writers Write Program’  on November 1st to help you turn your idea into an original novel. The 30-day program is completely free and filled with special benefits such as:

  • Free, 30 min private sessions with professional writing coaches (including the editor of The Martian)
  • Events and tips with bestselling authors like Andy Weir, Lauren Kate, and Gayle Forman
  • A variety of community features such as the choice to get a writing buddy who you can exchange manuscript feedback with

“Our intention is to enlarge the writing community by encouraging more people to become writers,” said CEO of Inkitt, Ali Albazaz. “The program is completely free so for us this isn’t about making money; it’s about encouraging talented and committed writers to keep going and finish what they started.”

If you are serious about taking on the challenge or want to finish (or start!) a manuscript then make sure to get your spot in the program now. There is less than a week left before it starts.

LEARN MORE

Announcing A Writer’s Path Writers Club: Creating Benefits For Writers

Hello everyone! A fellow blogger of A Writer’s Path, Ryan Lanz, has announced the launch of his new initiative: A Writer’s Path Writers Club.

After looking at the writing market for years, he noticed a need for a Writers Club of this kind. Sure, there are Facebook groups, writers groups, etc., but there aren’t many associations that are more than just a gathering of writers.

He wanted to create a club where the sole purpose of it is to solve headaches for writers. Here are some of the headaches he’s looking to solve:

  • It’s hard to find reviewers for my book
  • Writing-related service providers (editors, book cover designers, etc.) are expensive
  • I don’t know if my writing is good enough and I need feedback
  • I need more promotion for my book
  • I don’t know if my blurb or summary is good enough
  • Not enough readers know my book exists
  • I don’t know enough about what other successful authors have done to be successful
  • I don’t know if my book cover encourages readers to purchase it

No time commitment. Maximum value.

And of course, there are fun stuff to be had too, such as giveaways and contests. Here’s the full list of benefits for the Writers Club:

      • Discounts from writer-related service providers, such as editors, book cover designers, proofreading services, ghostwriters, social media marketing, book advertising, template design, audio book narration, and more.
      • Contests and giveaways for free services and books.
      • free book promotion posts on A Writer’s Path blog every year(example here). Every post generates a social media shout-out of your book to my Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Google+ account (total of 12,900 followers). he’ll set reminders for himself to notify you when your next post is ready.
      • Exclusive articles not seen on the A Writer’s Path blog.
      • Access to free blurb coaching.
      • Book of the Month” lottery. Winner gets their book featured for a month on A Writer’s Path blog in a tab along the top of every page/post. Also included is a promotional post featuring their book, summary, cover, and purchase links to all 25,000+ subscribers. One drawing per month.
      • Help to find you reviewers and critique partners (optional).
      • A free copy of his eBook, The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas & Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. ($2.99 value)
      • Free critique of your book summaries and book covers (optional).
      • Insider tips from published authors in short, bite-sized articles.
      • Links to free books normally at full price.
      • Opportunities to show off your book to the other members.
      • Exclusive author interviews.

Feel free to check out A Writer’s Path Writers Club here.

Guest Post: The Delicacies of Writing Non-Fiction by Nathaniel Barber

The Delicacies of Writing Non-Fiction:
What to Leave In or Omit and Why Asking Permission Is the Greatest Hurdle to Telling a Great Story

Luck Favors The Prepared is a collection of nonfiction short stories. But, that ‘nonfiction’ part has been a tricky business. Nonfiction is rarely flattering. Seldom does its characters move about as gracefully or as tactfully as we believe we move about our own lives. Most people long for privacy—while the goal of nonfiction (as is the goal of any writing) is the opposite of privacy, to reach an audience. Additionally, the claim (and the sting) of nonfiction is that these are stories which have actually happened, concerning people who actually existed—people with feelings and, possibly, access to legal counsel.

What if I get it wrong? What if I muddy up the dates or fail to nail the dialogue verbatim? These, while valid points, were the least of my concerns. The ultimate hang-up was whether a person would be not flattered by the character I’d made of them.

The conclusion I always reached (which was no) held up the writing of these stories for many years, until, at long last, I was able to call a truce with my inhibitions and get to writing.

What explains the shift?

For starters, these are good stories so they were not easily dismissed. Given time and pressure, eventually their persistence forced me to reconcile this seeming insurmountable hurdle to nonfiction: the spectre of fairness.

Readers of Luck Favors The Prepared will notice I traffic in some incredibly unsavory characters. Was it fair of me to write them so? Probably not. People, however, have had more than enough time to get along without fairness. Indeed, we’ve lived in a dearth of fairness since time immemorial. It is audacious of my characters to demand fairness would make a historically rare visit just to save their hide.

The best we can do is be proactive, and behave ourselves. If you’re good, most assuredly, nobody will write about you.

We’ve developed many ways to live well, even in this absence of fairness. Chances are you’ve had a brush with Christianity, the founding tenets of which warn we should (to paraphrase a number more eloquent passages) watch our ass. If you feel exempt from the offerings of Christianity, the scientific community has an equally potent formula coined by Newton’s third law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There are some still who feel left behind by both Christianity and science, for them I can only hope they have a magnanimous sense of humor. After that, you’re S.O.L.

The idea is, in a world where what goes around, comes around—fairness is a red herring.

It took me longer than it should have to come to this conclusion. When I did, it was like a fresh breath of air. Which is why I am now gleefully submitting Luck Favors The Prepared for publication, just under the wire, during this lapse in the Universal Calendar when fairness seems to have checked-out.

If nothing is fair, what then, will keep the world from coming apart?

In this supreme absence of fairness, Christianity, science or humor implores us to act with kindness, beauty and grace. It is, you could say, a last-ditch stopgap to prevent everything from going to pot. This is an idea I can get behind in a major way. It has allowed me to finally locate my voice—and write nonfiction to my heart’s content. But to do so compassionately, in spite of appearances to the contrary.

In the spirit of kindness it is important to note: while I have not shied away from capturing a character at their very worst, that unfortunate snapshot is strictly happenstance. I am not aiming, specifically, to capture a character at their worst. Though, to be fair, I am not straining to capture a character at their finest either. One should not aim to catch a character behaving any which way. They should only aim to capture the story. Kindness should be, above all else, a commitment to the story.

While many of my characters found themselves illuminated in such a harsh light, kindness suggests that (hopefully) they were just going through a rough spot. Their only real crime (in the universal sense) was they experienced a fevered lapse of judgement in the company of someone with such an impeccable memory.

Kindness forces us to consider the angels of our better nature, that people are great, complex creatures. We are brimming with contradictions. Sometimes we are terrible and evil. Other times, we are beautiful and reaffirm all of the wonderful things.

How does one know when they’re writing from a place of kindness? Crap stories are usually unkind. We’ve all heard an embittered divorcee seethe about their poisonous ex-wife or husband. It’s nothing you would treat yourself to after a day’s work. That’s what red wine is for.

Nonfiction without kindness reads flat and vindictive. Any too-thin story is so obviously a sad revenge-vehicle to facilitate a tantrum. It is painfully uninteresting. Yes, sometimes unkind nonfiction is fun to read. But it’s a dirty, bitter pill and should be enjoyed sparingly.

Are the stories objective?

Just because I am the narrator, doesn’t mean I am exempt from the critique of these narratives. To lean faithfully on the story’s foundation means I should just as freely throw myself on the same pyre to which I’ve thrown these poor characters. Could I have been more critical of myself, the character? Maybe, but that’s above my paygrade.

Writing nonfiction is to shoulder into unfairness. So the very least a nonfiction author can do is make well and sure they’re writing from a place of kindness and objectivity. Or, at least, try real hard to do so. This is why I still write with boundaries. Very strict boundaries in fact. There’s much more I could write, but it’s a waste of time if there’s no redeeming story.

I am forty years old now. Does an inability to understand and reconcile the dueling perspectives of fairness and kindness explain why it’s taken me so dang long to offer Luck Favors The Prepared? Probably not. But lay off, I’m short on time. I suppose I could try harder, to completely throw myself at producing books, which is a lot like working a second job without pay. Try explaining that to a wife and a daughter.

Saturday Miscellany – 3/4/17

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    Didn’t see any New Releases this week that caught my eye — which gives us all a chance to get ready for next week that has at least 5 doozies.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and welcome to Reading is My Escapte and Portable Magic for following the Booklikes version of the blog this week.