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Throwback Thursday: Fear of Formatting

Tricia Drammeh

It’s Throwback Thursday again, and today’s recycled post goes back to May 2013. As I endeavor to format and publish a new book (wish me luck), I’ve been thinking about those self-publishing fears that prevent some of us authors from going it alone. Don’t let your fear of formatting keep you from achieving your dreams. If you choose to sign on with a traditional publisher or small press, more power to you. But don’t make any publishing decisions out of fear. Every aspect of self-publishing is do-able. If you’re a technophobe, it might not be easy, but I promise you can do it. Take your time. Do your research. And find people who will help you.

Read on…

Fear of Formatting

babe ruth“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” ~ Babe Ruth

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve read this quote. If you’ve ever seen A…

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The Best Query Letter Ever Written

Ask the Agent

tolstoyRecently I attended the Taos Summer Writers Conference.  It was fabulous and I urge everyone to check it out.   I taught a class  in which the participants workshopped their query letters. Most of the queries were too long. The writers tended to delve into too much detail in the plot summaries. A number of people also wasted precious space – in the words of one of the students – “sucking up to the agent.”

A query letter is typically in three parts. The first paragraph should state the name of the book, the number of words, and the genre. You should try to use terms of art that are common in book publishing. It sends a message that you are serious and know the territory. In particular, avoid characterizing your book as “a fiction novel” and, for pete’s sake, don’t characterize it as “a non-fiction novel.”

The second part of the query…

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Four Questions Every Novelist Needs to Ask Himself

Words of Margaux

Everyone wants to write a book. Everybody has thought about it at one time or the other. People have different motives for doing it (fame, telling a story, money…). The truth is, however, few succeed. The number of people who manage to write a novel is scarce, much less is the number of those who publish one. Therefore, before writing any book, a novelist needs to ask himself several questions.

Creative business

1. Why Do I Want to Write this Book?

“Why?” is one of the most important question a person can ask himself prior to doing anything at all. In this case, knowing why you want to write a novel puts things in perspective. Are you in it for the money? Fame? Love of the written word? Or are you trying to prove something to yourself?

Knowing why you want to do something helps keep you motivated all the way till…

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The birth of a book cover

I thought that through my experience of doing promotions and public relations for authors I learned lots of things and I can share them with writers who want to make their books successful. So, I told to myself “Why don’t you write a book, a booklet, share there your experience and your findings about new ways to advertise a book, gain more exposure and increase sales?” .

Right, I can do it. How to Promote and Market Your Book I will call it and it will be a practical guide, a self-help book.Uh, that sound easy but how I can do it?I have no experience with writing, I just put a few blog posts together, I even don’t speak very well English.Hmmm, let’s try Madi and see what you come up with!

OK, research, make notes, create strategies, samples of marketing plans, info-graphics…and write,write,write.Ah,did you say graphics? Why you don’t try to make a cover for your book.And that was the first try:MY COVER-page-001

Take  the risk Madi, post it everywhere and ask for feedback. I’ll tell you something, that was painful, really painful. Too busy, clumsy,confusing, not a single like. Well, start again then, don’t give up before you start it.

How to make it then, what wasn’t fine, not constructive criticism and no ideas about what to do.And then I came up with this one:

COVER 2 FINAL-page-001






More or less the same, too busy ,ABC doesn’t fit, not professional, you should find a designer, still too busy, maybe you should wait until you can afford a good cover designer…blah,blah,blah,blah. At this point I was almost in tears and didn’t know what to do.


Don’t give up Madi, please don’t do it. Well they said too busy,make a very simple one.

MY COVER 3-page-001

Feedback for this one:Yes more tidy but still not there.

Well if you first don’t succeed then try,try and try again. Come on, do it. And finally my muse inspired me. I told to myself “This is the one” and you are not going to change it anymore.

So here is the last cover art for How To Promote and Market Your Book by Madi Preda


And guess what? Not feedback at all, good or bad but because someone was asking me to explain my cover I will do it here.

I will explain you what I had in mind.Finishing to write a book is just the beginning and marketing is like a puzzle.You keep trying to find what it works best for you and look for the best pieces to fit.

In the right corner is the puzzle with a piece missing and on the lower level the man who push a puzzle piece.He’s got the answer and that is what my book is all about: key materials,innovative and creative ideas about how to promote a book.

Now, you know the story of the birth of my book cover and I want to say a big thank you to people who comment because without their criticism I wouldn’t end up with this book cover which I really like.I mean, I really do and I hope you too. Ha,ha, a  maybe next is some poetry? Who knows.

At the moment I am still working at my manuscript, the case study is not ready and hope soon to be published.Until then here is the fan page where you can see more about it.

See you there




Books Will Never Die

Wandering Bark Books

Last week, Mireille Silcoff wrote an article for The New York Times: On Their Death Bed, Books Have Finally Become Sexy.

Given that I recently published a blog post, “Sexiest Book Alive,” I took issue with the idea that physical books have ever NOT been sexy. Then I read the piece, and I took serious issue with some other things, indeed.

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How to be Succesful Whith a Book Proposal

A few major steps you should follow when you sent out your book proposal to an agent or publisher

What is the book about?

Give a clear idea about the book in the very beginning if you want your proposal to be read.You need to present what is most catching about your book in a couple of sentences.

Who do you address?

Who is your target audience,what will you give them that is interesting and new.You can compare your book with others in the same genre and mention what are the new approaches of the subject, a few conclusions and how the story will influence the target readers.

Craft yourself a good biography

A biography should be included in your submission but do yourself a favor and don’t start telling them about cats and dogs and how much you love your family or how many children do you have.

Agents, publishers and media outlets want to hear about you as a writer, have you been published, where and when, do you won any awards, do you have a strong relationship with some radio or TV Shows,are you a contributor to some literary publications, magazines or newspapers?

What experience gave you credit to write about this particular subject and anything else you can think of which will recommend you as the right author for such a book, subject and genre.

What is your marketing plan?

This should be realistic and specific,You may know specialized publications that might be interested to put on an article or some radio shows which you’ve been in contact with in the past.

How do you see cross promotion in accordance with your subject and what are you going to do in terms of pre-pub promotion, before your book is out on the market (blog tour for cover reveal, free chapters uploaded on specialized sites, building or developing your author platform, website, blog, social media accounts).

Express your intention of setting – up a pre-order campaign and giveaway, and mention a few major reviewers where do you intend to send galleys or ARC .

Publicity after the release of your book

You still have to work hard after the book is released and this is exactly what you should do and what a publisher wants to hear.Tell them about asking for reviews, fan pages created, speaking engagement in your local libraries, launch parties if you are going to do such a thing.

You can organize a virtual tour in advance for the release day and tell them how many sign – ups do you have or if you have the intention to find a publicist to do all of this for you. If so say a few words about the publicist, a few authors who were promoted by him/her, mention a book which is succesful because this publicist efforts.


Merrimack Media – Publishing and Marketing Agency


Merrimack Media is  a company where the flow of quality books, websites, and graphics, are all delivered with exceptional customer service. Our one-stop shop gets your book into print, distributed to a world-wide audience and promoted. Merrimack Media exists to help you publish painlessly, offering you information, self-publishing, promotion and sales services at a reasonable price. At the end of this I want to introduce you to Jenny Hudson, founder of Merrimack Media – publishing and marketing agency.

Hello Jenny and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell me when did you start Merrimack and from where you get this idea, what motivated you?What kind of services do you offer at Merrimack and what is that its make Merrimack Media special?

 There are lots of places that authors can go to self-publish, but we handle it all…book interior and cover design, ISBN,  publishing, world-wide distribution and help with promotion, including website and social media design and setup.  We interview our authors on the Author Connection radio show and give them some initial publicity as well.  We are a Lightning Source approved, preferred publisher.

 Writing and publishing a book is a dream of so many people. Some aspiring writers seek put agents or traditional publishers while others look for self publishing. What are the pros and cons of each?

It comes down to control, time and money.  In self-publishing the author has the final say and can make upwards of $10 a book if he sells it himself.  The time from completing a manuscript to being on Amazon is about 4 weeks. In traditional publishing, the publisher has the final say on editing and cover design, the author makes about 75 cents a book, and it can take about a year and a half.  Both methods require author marketing.

There are so many self publishing choices and new companies emerging the market continuously. What are the major aspects that a writer must consider when looking for a self-publisher?

 Experience, customer service, knowledge, and talent.  There are lots of companies out there who produce a book that looks “self-published”.

 Every writer wants the joy of seeing their books in print so there is a point where the publishing decision is driven by emotion, not seeing  the facts. What is your advice for the writers, what they should be aware of and what would you walk away from in a contract?

 Check the publisher commission.  We take 10% for administration from online book sales.  Other companies I know of take 15 and 20%.

 Please give me an example of Merrimack Media Contract where everybody win, The publisher and the writer (shares, profits, subsidiary rights, etc)

 The author retains all rights.  We take 10% of online sales and the author gets the rest after subtracting book printing costs and Amazon’s wholesale discount.

 The big  issue about a book is not just publishing but distribution as well. What Merrimack Media does about marketing and distribution.

 We distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, the Ingram List, Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords., which gets you on ipad.  We also handle fee-based author promotion.

 What is the most exciting thing for you in this profession? 

I love seeing authors’ lives change when they get their books and run with it, taking them in an entirely different direction.

 Tell us  about the wonderful people working for you and helping  you to achieve your goals.

We have great editors, book designers, and cover designers, a social media person, and a project manager.

 I was pleased to have Jenny Hudson here today explaining a few things about publishing business. If  you want to find out more visit her website where you will see Merrimack packages, resources and other useful information.

Thanks again Jenny Hudson and good luck with all your endeavors.


Publishing Your Book by Linda Austin/Moonbridge Publication

Publishing Your Book

Publishing Your Book

By Linda Austin/Moonbridge Publications

The publishing world is changing very rapidly these days, especially with the advent of Amazon’s CreateSpace and the takeoff of e-books. Authors need to keep up with the news to make the best decisions for themselves and their books.

Traditional Large Publishers

(ex., Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Scholastic)

The big publishing houses have imprints (branch companies) handling different genres.  They print large quantities of books via offset printing methods.

Pros: offer an advance, will handle all production aspects of the book, will do basic marketing (send out media releases, offer galleys or ARCs to major reviewers), will handle all distribution, will handle all finances and send royalty checks

Cons: an agent is required to approach them (may take years to get one), they are picky and prefer writers with platform and commercial appeal, will handle all production usually without much author input, it takes about two years to produce a book, marketing is basic unless the author is famous, if the book doesn’t sell well within the first few months it may go out of print, author royalties are small, the publisher owns the book (not the copyright)

Larger Independent Traditional Publishers:

(ex. Charlesbridge, Sourcebooks, Chelsea Green, Haymarket, Avalon, some university presses)

These may use digital printing (print on demand) as well as offset. Some are specialized by genre or have imprints.

Pros:  more willing to risk unknown authors, often no agent is required, offer an advance, handle all production and may allow author input, provide basic marketing, provide distribution, books are usually available for longer than three months even if sales are slow

Cons: advances are smaller, marketing budget is smaller, the publisher owns the book (but not the copyright)

Small Independent Traditional Publishers:

(many university presses, Zumaya, Akashic, and many micro-presses)

These use mostly digital printing and may be very specialized in genre and/or not accept many manuscripts per year

Pros:  more willing to risk unknown authors, no agent is required, might offer a small advance, handle all production and may allow author input, should do basic marketing and provide distribution, books can usually be produced within a year and are usually available for a long time

Cons: may offer no advance, may provide little marketing, may not provide distribution, company owns the book (not the copyright), editing and formatting skills may be questionable or even nonexistent (Note: be sure to examine other books a company has produced to verify quality, especially with very small or newer presses)

See Poets & Writers for a list of small presses

Publishing Services Companies

(ex. Lulu, Amazon CreateSpace, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Bookmasters, Outskirts Press, and a number of companies associated with large traditional publishers, such as Book Country of Penguin, Westbow Press of Thomas Nelson, Dellarte of Harlequin)

Most of these companies will take any manuscript (no vetting) and charge authors to produce their books for them. Authors can choose which additional services they want (cover, editing, formatting, sometimes distribution channels). Amazon’s CreateSpace is perhaps the most cost-efficient option (see my article on CreateSpace).

Pros:  handle production and services with author input, production of the book is quick, usually a distribution system is provided or offered for a fee; author can set the book price, author is usually able to purchase copies of his own book at some discount

Cons:  Services often cost more money than if the author had hired his own independent providers and may be of questionable quality, company usually keeps a high percentage of the book’s retail price, higher production costs and sales fees will mean books must be sold at above-market cost to make a profit for the author, distribution avenue may be at extra cost or not be cost-efficient or convenient for buyers, marketing is often nonexistent or at high price with little real value, the company usually owns the book produced (not the copyright) often including the cover and any illustrations created by company service providers, author should understand the publishing business and read the contract carefully to avoid making costly business errors, contract may be difficult to get out of if dissatisfied, author should know basic accounting and track income and expenses

See Preditors & Editors for reviews of publishers and other publishing service providers

Independent Publishing

The author takes charge of the entire process of creating a book by hiring professionals, arranging distribution and marketing

Pros:  The author is in charge and makes all decisions, a book can be produced from a completed manuscript in only a few months, all profit belongs to the author, author owns his/her book and can keep it in production as long as he/she wants

Cons:  The author is in charge and makes all decisions and so should understand all aspects of the publishing business to avoid costly errors, author is responsible for all costs, author must do all marketing, author must know basic accounting and track income and expenses. (Note:  skimping on editing, cover design, etc., will result in a poor-quality book, and skimping on marketing will result in few book sales)

E-book Publishing

Larger publishers usually keep e-book publishing rights. The author may be able to negotiate rights with smaller companies, and should check whether they will even produce an e-book version.

Many companies or services exist to offer low-cost production of electronic books for various types of e-readers. Examples include Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Barnes & Noble Nook Press, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and BookBaby.

Pros of independent e-publishing:  Lower production cost than print books, most companies provide some form of distribution

Cons of independent publishing:  Many authors find it difficult to format a manuscript themselves to upload to a self-directed e-publishing program (ex. Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords) and will need to pay to have it done, books with heavy formatting or many photos or illustrations are not good candidates for e-book creation, color interior may not be an option, authors must be aware of the distribution method to ensure convenience and cost-effectiveness for themselves and buyers, authors must do all marketing and do basic accounting of income and expenses

Download pdf version of Methods of Publishing

20 Steps For Book Marketing


20 Steps to gain exposure for your bookLiterary Lounge logo

1.Overview – What is the marketing plan for you?

You promote your last book,you promote all books of yours,you promote your website or you promote a book which is  free for a certain period of time.

2.Timing – For how long you are ready to run this campaign?

Only for launching,a certain period of time,seasonal(Christmas,Easter,summer holiday).

3.Budget and costs

– What budget do you have for paid advertising/PR/Marketing

-Can you support other costs:printing promotional materials,launching parties,travelling…

4.Publicity and PR

Set up a press kit with audio and video links, including press clippings and articles,have teasers that catches the attention.

5.Contact Local Media

Play the ”local writer” and contact local newspapers,magazines and radio local stations.

6.Contact National Media

Send press releases targeting cities and subject related magazines.

7.Book Reviewers

– send reviews copies for reviewers in various publications

-send reviews copies to book clubs and community groups targeting your genre


Write and submit articles to the print media: about the book, about the subject, about you as a writer and other hobbies, about writing process.

9.Speaking engagements

Make an offer for speaking at your local library, schools and organization and association if your book have a social impact.You can visit senior groups and senior homes for storytelling, children’s home care for children’s books.


Join a few social media channels and try to be active as much as you can.This is the way to build your brand and reputation online as an author.

11.Launch your book in local bookstores 

-Send press releases for the event to the local media, reading groups ,local librarians and invitations to friends.

-Send a thank you note to every single person who joined the event

-Donate a few books to your local library

12.Promotional materials

-have business cards and bookmarks with the cover, your website,your free ebook,your  x for the price of y if you have some other books

-spread the business cards out(offer them to libraries,bookstores,office supplier shops,hotels, the local supermarket

13.Word of mouth – It works the best.(family,friends, colleagues, neighbors)

Be sure you have a share with friend button on your website


Do it by target:

-by location(place of birth,place of living,where the action in your book take place)

– by subject and social issues if the book has such subplots in it

– by genre and interests

15.Co – Promotion

Target authors of the same genre for reviews,guest blogging and co-promotion

16.Cross Promotion

-A  book about meditation in the nature or healthy lifestyle can be sold in camp site’s little shops.

-A book on history of(a country) may be proposed for university studies in history of this country.

-A diet book can be promoted at your local gym or fitness club.


Only a small percent of yours sales can make a huge difference in people’s lives.Your book gains exposure and you will be proud to do a kind act(only if you are that kind of person who cares)

18.Short Stories Anthology

Contribute with a short story to an anthology related to the subject in your book  and you will be mentioned with your book in the resource box.

19.Blogs and Bloggers

-Be in touch with bloggers who review books, for interviews , for guest posts

– Organize a blog tour for yourself or ask a blogger who does that to do it for you

-Ask for a cover reveal

-Ask for a promotional spot for your launching event, your book or a public appearance

20.If all of the above seems too much or too hard for you this problem can be solved very easy: FIND A PUBLICIST 🙂





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