Thursday, August 17, 2017

Promote Yourself First

         Before writers have books to promote, they need to build an interest in themselves, according to Joan Steward, The Publicity Hound [blog and various email Tips of the Week]; Brian Feinblum [The Writer, September 2017, page 16-19, “Promotional Pitfalls”]; Kirkus Reviews []; Author Unlimited []; and Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining.
         Allow me to share some of the tips the sources above have given, mixed with a few ideas and thoughts of my own.

Promote Your Book Yourself

         Before authors promote a book, they should promote themselves. Of course, if a writer hasn't promoted herself yet, doing so can occur after the book, but promotion should first be about the author.

         Often writers wait too late to promote themselves. Joan Steward says authors should become "experts" and build a personal base before promoting a book. Nonfiction writers have a built-in topic about which to write articles or present workshops: the theme or sub-themes of the future nonfiction book. However, fiction writers can also be experts, if they have researched information for their books correctly. For example, research for a book dealing with kidnapped children can create an author who is an expert on the aftereffects of being kidnapped on the children and families; what steps to take to find kidnapped children; or how to survive being kidnapped or having a child kidnapped.

         Authors who have studied and developed their own writing expertise can share their knowledge of writing and become an expert on writing. But, that expert level should probably come after proving through being published that they know the subject. To gain more knowledge about writing, a person can attend classes, workshops, and conferences about writing. He/she can read articles and books about writing, keeping the knowledge that usable and deleting the rest.

         Another way authors can promote themselves and create themselves as experts is to create cheat sheets and checklists. Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, states the following: "Readers love chunks of information they can digest easily in just a minute or two. That's why they're wild about cheat sheets and checklists. These powerful one-page PDFs are like digital crow bars that can pry an email address out of a website visitor faster than any other lead magnet you might offer." She goes on to say:

                   Checklist/cheat sheets can be released before the book for promotion or used in a the appendix of a book or both. These lists don’t have to be about serious topics. Be helpful and have fun.

Five examples:
                   1. Create a checklist of advice from your main character on how to overcome a challenge or solve a problem mentioned in the book.
                   2. Offer a cheat sheet for tourists who want to visit the city, state, region or country where your novel takes place. If your book is about Venice, your cheat sheet could be titled, “Favorite Foodie Hideaways to Explore in Venice.”
                   3. Do your sci-fi characters have their own language? Create a cheat sheet of words and their definitions.
                   4. Create a checklist of “7 Most Romantic Places to Propose” that ties into your romance novel.
                   5. Does your children’s book include a fairy as one of the main characters? Create a cheat sheet of “What the 5 Most Famous Fairies Can Teach Your Child.” (The Tooth Fairy, Tinkerbell, etc.)

         Include a short blurb about your book at the end, with a link to the sales page.

         Writers need to become familiar names on social media, familiar in a good way. They can post encouraging comments on other people's blogs, social media posts, etc. They can post reviews of other authors' books on their blogs and the other authors' blogs. Posting bits of information on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and other media helps to build interest in the writer and in his/her topic. The more readers are interested in a writer as a person, the more they will be interested in reading the writer's book.

         I hope to share more tips about promoting and marketing in the future.

Friday, July 24, 2015

4RV Glossary - the need for stable definitions

     As I read articles about writing and publishing and attend sessions, workshops, and conferences about writing and publishing, I find confusing use of terms. For example, blurb and synopsis are sometimes used to mean the same thing. Now self-publishing and subsidy publishing are called by different names. Point of view suddenly switches from the three and subtext of one to the point of view of every character in a story. Other terms are interchanged at the whim or lack of knowledge of people. Therefore, I decided to put together a glossary of terms as accepted by 4RV Publishing.

Writing/Publishing Terms According to 4RV – Glossary

A-format Standard book format (TPS = 178 × 111mm), typically used for most mass market paperbacks; (US: equivalent typical mass market size is called rack size).
Acquisition Beginning of the publishing process – agreeing the contract and purchasing the rights to publish a work. An acquisition editor is the first to evaluate a submission.
Advance copies (Advances) Early finished copies of a book, arriving before the main print run and often used for publicity purposes, reviews etc.
Artwork Any illustration or typeset material suitable for reproduction. Often abbreviated to a/w. Generally applies to physical material rather than computer files.
Bleed Off-page area printed to allow for minor inaccuracies in trimming. Generally anything intended to print right up to the edge of the page is extended, and bleeds about 3mm beyond the intended edge of the trimmed page area.
Blurb A short quote or text used to promote a book, can be on the fly sheet or back cover, usually 1 – 2 paragraphs, doesn’t mean a summary of the book, nor does it give the ending of the story.
Chapbook Also Chapter book. short booklet, often a children’s book or book of poetry. Originally a small book or pamphlet of popular, sensational, juvenile, moral or educational content sold by street merchants, known as ‘chapmen’.
Copyright The right to perform, reproduce, display, sell, transform into anoter medium or otherwise use original work or other intellectual property that is expressed in text, images, sound – a right enshrined in the Universal Copyright Convention (the ‘Berne Convention’, originally agreed in 1886 and subsequently revised by the United Nations in Berlin in 1952 and in Paris in 1971). The copyright in a work is held by the author or creator, and can subsequently be passed on (eg to the author’s estate), or licensed or assigned to publishers (and others) in a contract. Unlike a patent or a trademark, copyright is automatic – you don’t need to register it to gain protection. Copyright in a work persists for up to 70 years after the death of the original creator, and prevents exploitation of the work by those other than the copyright holder or a licensee. Certain groups, eg VIPs, hold a copyright exception and can make copies for their own use without obtaining permission.
Copyright notice Every book should contain a copyright notice, usually on the title verso, consisting of the copyright symbol ©, the date of publication and the copyright owner. However, as copyright is automatic, this isn't a necessity for any legal reason – it’s largely convention, and a courtesy to those seeking permissions.
Cover letter  (see Query, understand difference)  A cover letter is one page. It is what you attach to your email when submitting a book to agents or publishers. It is included as a teaser only, introducing the title and concept of your book, who you are, and why you are sending it to this particular agent or editor (see what publisher requires in a cover letter).
E-book A book that is available in electronic format for distribution over the internet and for reading on screen (of a laptop, desktop computer, PDA, or a dedicated e-book reading device). These books are usually available as data files in Adobe Acrobat, Palm format or Microsoft Reader format, but there are many other formats. All include DRM encryption to stop them from being copied and pirated.
Entrepenurial publishing  Another term for self-publishing or Indie pubishing.
House style 1) A guide for spelling, punctuation, grammatical style and usage produced by a publisher to help maintain consistency in copy-editing and proof-reading; 2) A standard text or cover design.  4RV style is found on
Independent or Indie Publishing  An author or group of authors create their own small press company to publish books from authors who are included in the company. The members of group usually pay his/her own expenses.
Lead editor  The main editor assigned to work with an author to fine tune and edit a manuscript. The goal is to prepare the manuscript for publication.
Manuscript  The text of a complete book submitted for acquisition.
Pitch or pitch tag    A pitch is a scheduled face to face opportunity with agents, editors, or publishers for an author to create interest in his/her book. A pitch tag is the term sometimes used for the sentence or two used to “hook” the agent, editor, or publisher.
Point of view   First-person point of view is in use when a character narrates the story with I-me-my-mine in his or her speech. The advantage of this point of view is that readers get to hear the thoughts of the narrator and see the world depicted in the story through his or her eyes, and only what the narrator sees, thinks, and hears. The narrator is a character in the story. Second-person point of view, in which the author uses you and your, is rare; authors seldom speak directly to the reader. Second-person is generally used for directions and instructions. Third-person point of view is that of an outsider looking at the action. The writer may choose third-person omniscient, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader, or third-person limited, in which the reader enters only one character's mind, either throughout the entire work or in a specific section. Third-person limited differs from first-person because the author's voice, not the character's voice, is what you hear in the descriptive passages: The narrator is not one of the characters in third-person.
Proof  Proofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and proofreaders, who end needed corrections to the formatter.
Query   A query is used to present a proposal for possible submission. A query is usually sent for nonfiction possibilities, to discover if an agent or publisher is interested in the author’s idea.
Rack size US equivalent of A-format, used for mass market paperbacks. Usually 63/4 × 43/16ths inches.
Self-publishing (also known as entrepenurial publishing)
Subsidy Publishing   Authors pay a subsidy publisher to provide editing, art work, formatting, and printing.
Submission  The attachments sent to an agent or publisher as requested in their guidelines to be evaluated for a possible contract for publication
Synopsis  For fiction, a synopsis is a page to two-page summary of a story, including the ending (some agents, editors, or publishers will allow more than two pages).  For nonfiction, the synopsis may be an outline.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Post Script 1: Dealing with Grief and Sorrow

     I'm involved in a grief recovery program sponsored by Crossroads Hospice, the people who cared for Robert. I'll share what I learned when I finish and am able. Much of what I've learned so far is different from current thinking about grief and reovery.

     One thing I decided on my own is to find a notebook/journal to use for writing my memories of Robert. I'll not worry about writing those memories in a chronological order. I will just write them as they pop into my memory. I may share some; I might not. I simply feel I must make note of memories before they disappear. I have so many. 

     I would like for others to share their memories of him with me, too. I have some that were read during the funeral, memories from a few friends and several relatives.  Adding to the list of memories from others would be interesting and help keep Robert "alive."

     In time, I'll return to blogging about other topics. In fact I'll cover some bits and pieces with my next post.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dealing with Grief and Sorrow Part 7

          Bit by bit as we grieve, we also begin healing. Some of us take longer than others. Some of us go forward and then slide backwards, which is normal. However, the day comes when we realize our grief and sorrow has become more bearable, not gone but at least more manageable most of the time. Even if no time limit exists for grief, part of the process is to climb from the hopeless pit of sorrow to a better place. Life will never be as before our loss, but we must discover a new life, a new normal. But, how can we rebuild our lives and recuperate from severe grief?
          I have had brief spells of normalcy since I loss Robert. The first few weeks, those ordinary experiences were short lived, but they occurred often. The sorrow hit more often and lasted longer. I wanted to find a hole, climb into it, and pull the top to cover me. I began to want to peek out more and more regularly. Today I actually want to live and go forward, without any pretense. I realize I may, and probably will have, bad times and low days ahead, but I know I will progress toward my new normal.
          I also realize it is my responsibility to make myself climb from the hole every time I drop into it. Yes, calls and visits from friends and family help and are a necessity for my mental and emotional health, but I can’t hide from life. I can’t expect someone else to “make” me happy.
          Will everything be smooth and easy from now on? Of course not. I would be delusional to believe grief is gone, because it is not. A poem can bring pain. Seeing his picture causes my heart to give pause. However, I know that I will survive. I will always miss Robert. I will always love him, but he would want me to continue and enjoy the remainder of my life. I have the hope that we will be together again someday. Therefore, how can I ensure that my recovery will continue?
          According to, ten steps help in recovering from grief:
  1. Remember there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Some people are outward expressive of grief, others are private. Some people want a lot of support and comfort while others need to grieve alone.
  2. Grief takes as long as it takes. There are no time limits on how long one “should” grieve. Each person’s sadness and redefining life after a significant loss, is different. No one should tell someone else, “Get over it, you have been sad long enough”.
  3. Grief “comes in waves and hides in pockets”. What this means is that one day a person may feel fine and happy, and the next day overwhelmed by sadness and frustration at their loss. “Out of the blue” waves of distress may be confusing to those around a person grieving. They may “start crying for no apparent reason”. This is a normal part of the grieving process. The waves of sadness do get further apart and less intense over time, but for a long while they may seem to, “just appear”.
  4. The shortest way to the “other side” of grief is, “through”. A person who tries to suppress their sadness about a loss will eventually have to deal with the anger, sadness and unfairness of the loss. The more unresolved and suppressed grief, the more a person’s life will be emotionally restricted and their grief will come out in “unconscious” ways at those around them. It is important to honor and acknowledge grief and loss and the accompanying feelings, so these feelings are not slipping out at unwanted times at other people or being turned inward and causing physical illness.
  5. Grief has five stages. Denial (“it can’t really be happening.”) Bargaining (“If only I had…” “If only he/she had…”) Anger (At the one lost, at caregivers of the one lost, at oneself, etc.) Sadness (depression, tears, discouragement, feelings of unfairness, etc.) and Resolution (Finally understanding the loss was not about you and that you will survive and possibly help other people out of that loss).
  6. Create an outward expression of what you are feeling inside. This is also called “ritual”. When we ritualize a significant emotional event it helps our mind find resolution. Writing a poem, taking flowers, creating a memorial or something in honor of the person or your time together can help in emotional healing.
  7. Write. Journaling and putting your thoughts and feelings on paper are very useful in going through the grieving process. Part of this is a way to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, but also it helps process emotions in a different way in the brain by putting words to them.
  8. Spend time with long-term friends and caring relatives. Having some continuity in life is important. Being able to relive memories, reconnect with the past and have a sense that you are not all alone is important.
  9. Do new things. Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. Find out about talent you never knew you had. Meet new people. Join a grief support group or a new class. Add new dimensions into your life.
  10. Reconnect with your spiritual side. Whatever you do to remember that you are not alone and the world is not random are good things to participate in. Reading inspirational materials, listening to CDs or tapes of inspirational speakers. Attending church, temple, 12-step meetings, and support groups, being in nature, or any place where you feel connected to a “bigger picture”.
Many of the preceding steps have been mentioned before about the stages of grief. offers the following Grief Recovery Method:
  1. Recovery from loss is achieved by a series of small and correct choices made by the Griever. 
  2. Recovery means feeling better.
  3. Recovery is finding new meaning for living, without the fear of being hurt again.
  4. Recovery is being able to enjoy fond memories without having them turn painful.
  5. Recovery is acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react.
  6. Most importantly, recovery means acquiring the skills we should have been taught as a child. These skills allow us to deal with loss directly.
Recovery from grief and sorrow is not quick nor easy. At times we may take two steps forward and three back. One day our emotional sun may shine, and the next the storms may wreak our serenity. Only by persisting in finding our way out of the deep hole of grief can we recover.
Do I have all the answers? No. Have I recovered from the stages of grief and the emotional pain of losing my husband? No. Am I recovering bit by bit? Yes. I know that in time, I will face each new day with a desire to make the most of it. I’ll always remember, but in time, the memories won’t hurt as much, may even become a comfort. Some day I will rejoice again, but not yet.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dealing with Grief and Sorrow Part 6

          One stage of grief not listed, except as a sub-effect on the seven stages list, is loneliness. Since that is one of the most engulfing and long lasting effects of the loss of spouse, I’m adding loneliness as one of the major stages of grief and sorrow. Loneliness becomes a major portion of each and every stage of grief. The empty feeling of needing someone to share our thoughts, our lives, our needs, and our victories describes loneliness caused by the death of our loved one.

         Loneliness and solitude are not synonymous. One chooses solitude, but loneliness invades us through an overwhelming sense of our loss. No, unless we become so lost in our loneliness that we need professional help, the isolation doesn’t surround us all the time, but we never know when it will hit or where.

        Most people do not know how to deal with the grief someone else feels. Our society tends to be uncomfortable around people who grieve. We are expected to grieve alone, behind closed doors as others go back to their lives. People may have good intentions, but they forget to call or visit. Many, because they don’t know what to say or do, hope someone else will help. 

        Understanding friends and family members can make a big difference with just a bit of effort. I have one friend who calls or texts me two three times a week. She comes by once or twice a week for short visits. No, one person can’t fill all the empty spots, but she helps so much. Another, newer friend, is alone, too, and she and I have developed a closeness that helps both of us. The phone call and texts from one of my great-granddaughters to check on me gladdened my heart and brightened my days. 

         One of my former students has been so kind about helping. When I wanted to purchase eggs from one of his children, he said that they would give me eggs, that his children needed to learn compassion, and that the Bible says we are to care for orphans and widows. He lost his mother, one of my closest friends, years ago, and he understands. I wonder if parents are failing to teach their children compassion. Are we so uncomfortable about death and grief that we “protect” our children from understanding?

       I have a strong faith, which gives me a strength that allows me to survive most of the overwhelming, crushing loneliness. However, sometimes I don’t know if I can endure being alone. An example, I won two awards in the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) writing contest. Some friends and family told me how glad they were I won, but I couldn’t really share what winning meant to me. Robert would have been proud of me, as he so often was. I could have shared with him, more than once, how I felt. Of course, he would have bragged at dialysis. I miss having someone who cares so much about me

       In our “fast” society, the prevailing attitude is, “get over it,” “get on with your life,” “haven’t you taken long enough?” Only those who have lost their spouse or another loved one understand that no time limit exists for grief, especially for the loneliness caused by grief. We must overcome our lives being torn to pieces, put the pieces together for a “new normal,” knowing that a major portion of our lives is gone. 

      Allow me to share some suggestions for coping with loneliness found on
·  Think about who is supportive to you in your environment and what gives your life purpose and direction (family members, pets, relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, colleagues, clubs, athletic activities, groups, church groups, support groups, bereavement counselor). With whom are you most comfortable, and who is the most comfortable (accepting and caring) with your grief? Look for those who will listen without judging you, or for those who have suffered a similar loss.

·  Find time with others to talk, to touch, to receive support. Be honest with others about what you’re feeling. Allow yourself to express your sadness rather than masking it.

·  Don’t expect others to guess what you need. When you want to be touched, held, hugged, listened to or pampered, say so. (A suggestion from me to those who want to help: call, don’t wait to be called.)

·  If all you want from others is help with simple errands, tasks, and repairs, say so.

·  Let others (especially children) know if and when you need to be alone, so they won’t feel rejected.

·  Go somewhere and have a good, long cry— and do it as often as you wish. You have every right to miss the person who has died. Accept your feelings as normal.

·  Find time alone to process what’s happened: to remember, to dream, and to think.

·  Identify your loneliest times, and think of how you can alter your routines and environment (for example, rearrange the furniture in a room; plan your weekends ahead of time; use your microwave for quick, easy meals).

·  While some folks really are thoughtless and don’t think before they speak, bear in mind that many well meaning individuals have yet to experience a significant loss, so they really don’t know what grief feels like, or how to respond, or what to say. They aren’t deliberately trying to hurt you. You can choose to bear with such people, you can enlighten them about what you know of grief, or you can look to others who are more understanding to find the support you need.

·  Realize that no one can totally understand the relationship you had with your loved one.

·  Ask people to remember, talk about and share stories about your loved one with you.

·  Become more aware of how your own usage of words affects other people. Rather than saying something hurtful, admit that you don’t know what to say.

·  Consider getting a companion animal (which can be a wonderful source of unconditional love), but only after you’ve investigated what kind of pet would suit you and your lifestyle. (Note from me: I already have one, a seven-month-old cat named Panther, who still searches the garage trying to find Robert.)

    Loneliness is a normal part of grief and sorrow. However, if that feeling of isolation completely overtakes our lives, we need to seek professional help. Even if we believe we are coping, sometimes joining a group can help. I plan on joining a grief recovery program this week, where attendees don’t sit around sharing sorrow and becoming even sadder, but where we can learn ways to help us rebuild our lives. I know a part of me is missing, and I know I will always have some loneliness. However, with God’s help and the help of people who care, I will put the pieces back together and have a new normal.