Saturday, March 29, 2014

LIKE PIRATES? This Young Reader series will grab your kids. The Andrew Chronicles is out in paperback.

The Andrew Chronicles: Book One, Andrew and the Pirate Cove, now available in paperback by R.D. Trimble A gripping young reader novel, first in a series of adventures based on the computer games by Scott Adams.

Say Yoho! Set sail for adventure in the exciting first book of The Andrew Chronicles!  Andrew is a seven year old in the second grade.  Suddenly and without explanation, he finds himself in a two story flat in 17th century London.  Join Andrew, his new animal companions, the bumbling pirate Red Eye, and a mysterious and magical book as they seek to find the hidden treasure of  Blackbeard in a race against the villainous buccaneer Jack Frost.  Based on the classic computer game Pirate Cove written in 1978 by legendary game designer and storyteller Scott Adams, this is a riveting adventure for readers of all ages!

As the father of an Autistic child, author Rusty Trimble pledges that 50% of profits from his books will be donated for causes that provide research and seek treatment for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.


The book is available at Amazon at http://amzn.to/1pp1Shx and the ebook versions will be out in 2 weeks. #‎BYCTPublishing
Order your paperback copy today from Amazon  http://amzn.to/1pp1Shx 
$11.99,  252 pages ISBN- 978-0991067428

Congratulations, Rusty! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

To use a comma or not to use a comma? An excellent video explaining the use of the comma

March 23, 2014

To use a comma or not to use a comma? An excellent video explaining the use of the comma


Did that answer your question?
~AG

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE PERFECT STORY,THE DREAM AND THE NOTEBOOK - A Lesson for writers everywhere.

March 18, 2014

THE PERFECT STORY,THE DREAM AND THE NOTEBOOK
A Lesson for writers everywhere.


Some years back I had the best dream a writer could wish for. 

I was sleeping soundly, vivid imagery forming into cohesive patterns and then into a novel, or perhaps a novel - words flowing in front of me - and  the imagery that went with them.

There was this beautiful young woman standing atop a cliff overlooking an expansive ocean. Close up in dream. Her hair, eyes, the play of the light off both. The slight breeze - try doing a close up of that - just enough to play across her skin.  The words in front of me, sliding past - amazing words, rich, poetic, perfect. 


[Image source Licensed by Misterwriter - ID 38196899 © Vladimir Surkov | Dreamstime.com]
The dream played on. She raised her arms, her spine in an arc as she gracefully sailed forward, in flight, in slow  motion, as her body shifted to bring her head down facing the ocean below. 

And I knew it was a dream, a perfect dream that every writer wishes for. The words were perfect, the imagery irreplaceable, and the words, already written, translucent against the background of the sky. 

The backstory filled in as she slowly slipped down the side, the conflict, the other characters in this amazing tapestry in which I felt so blessed to own in my head.

And then I remembered the notebook and pen kept by the side of my bed. I had started keeping one there to jot down those last minute thoughts that I had before I fell asleep.


The notebook

Scared now that I would jolt awake, still absorbed in the beauty unfolding before me, I considered my moves.

Write it down, I told myself, quickly, every word before it slipped away.

Time exists like a river, with no start and no end. You observe where you are and the day you learn to shift spots you will, in effect, time travel. Reality is the observance in action. Why am I telling you this? The dream was replaying perfectly, repeatedly, simultaneously, as though I was meant to capture it.

Don't open your eyes, I commanded myself. Do not disturb the flow of this. It was already slipping from me as my conscious thoughts interrupted everything.

Reach over, I self-instructed, pick up the pen and write with your eyes closed. See the words, write the words. 

Yes... I could see the words and could feel my hand moving across the paper. Oh, this would be so good, this will be the best seller for sure. 

It was fading, getting shorter in recurrences, the girl still perfect, the breeze still sliding across skin, the sky and colors, amazing to behold.

And she leapt out, like an ember from a raging fire, like a million images compressed into a single frame, like a girl reaching for the stars and falling short, the slight tear in her eye barely observable, drowned out by her movement across the ocean before gravity wrapped its hair around her.

Write, write... I got that part, I know I did, move on... I could feel my hand on the paper. Next page, who cares if you used it up, just capture it all, quickly...

And she fell ever so slowly, alone, and yet infused with the life of every living thing that ever walked the planet. She fell and she would die; but she was already long dead, and so very alive. Her heart beat was universal, her hair the river, the ocean beckoning. And then she was again at the top with the words of her life blending with the sky.

The dream was almost gone. There was just that part now, the part at the top of the cliff, the moment before she leaps and the moment you know that she will leap, worlds apart with a space of many lifetimes in between. It was the knowing, watching, waiting, having felt it a thousand times before, and yet new, like the thrill of a first kiss, wondering how those lips will feel, taste, warmth, falling into her... 

My hand is tired, the ache is waking me up. I try my best to hold on for another go round but it is too late and I allow my hand to fall to my side, the pen dropping to the floor, as the girl drops out of view and the blackness of my return to sleep consumes me.

As I rouse, later, my immediate thought is the delight of having captured all those words, something that I can certainly work with in completing, what I am certain, will be the greatest story ever written. 

I sit up, open my eyes, preparing to see again, that which I had experienced. I reach over for the notebook and read it.  Here it is... 

The greatest story ever written




Like a muse, the inspiration that comes upon writers does not conform to any rule. It does not belong to a time and a place anymore than it belongs to the writer. No matter your theology, like a river in which we flow, you can dance with the fancy and delight with the dreams, but the magic you have to make yourself in order for it to make sense.

All I recall is the girl atop the cliff. And perhaps that is all I need to remember. For even though I failed to capture those words, I know, from the experience, that I am a writer and the world I see through a writer's eyes. Each time my pen touches paper - yes I still use fountain pens and paper - I can feel the dream of the perfect story just waiting to emerge. 

Writers - never give up!

~Andre

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 QUESTIONS ABOUT BOOKS WITH BESTSELLING AUTHOR, MIKE WELLS

5 QUESTIONS ABOUT BOOKS WITH BESTSELLING AUTHOR, MIKE WELLS 

I am very pleased to post my 5 question interview with bestselling author, Mike Wells. Mike was kind enough to take the time to offer some solid insight into his process, as well as allow me to bird walk in my interview. 

I first learned of Mike some years ago while from a Twitter search. As an author, and publisher, I did a search for other authors, wanting to see what I would find, how authors worked with social media.  Mike's posting - one, of many, he frequently repeats, with obvious success - immediately caught my eye. 




And so I clicked the link and was immediately drawn into his story, a fascinating story at that.  You see, having printed all those copies, Mike discovered he had no outlet by which to sell them.  Click HERE to read the rest of his tale, then come back for the interview.

A quick look at his stats and you will find that Mike is not only prolific in his writing, but also in his marketing. On Twitter alone, he has 68,000 followers and, generously, he follows almost all of them back. Since he started tweeting, he has made over 42,000 Twitter posts alone. How did he do this, you ask?  


Mike offers Lust, Money and Murder, the first book in one of his series, as a FREE download. The book is an excellent example of how to setup and hook your reader from the start. 


Italy – Present Day 
The man picked her up in Vernazza, a picturesque village perched along the
rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. 
 
From his salt-and-pepper hair, and his lined face, Maria guessed he was in his
early 50s. He bought her a drink, then dinner, then a new dress and a pair of pumps 
and a few other things, spending lavishly on her in the quaint village shops.
There were no pretenses. They went to his plush villa, which afforded a
breathtaking view of the sea. When she asked his name, he looked at her with his brooding dark eyes and said, “Are names important, cara?”
 
All she knew was that he was a businessman from Rome. She supposed it
didn’t matter.
excerpt reprinted with permission 



As I read the first chapter, I knew that this was such a great learning tool for other writers. It is concise, grabbing you from the first line, and pulling you along to an exciting, and literal cliffhanger. I won't spoil it, for those of you who have yet to read it, especially since you can download it from the link above, and at the end of this posting. 



The first chapter speeds by - you are surprised when you reach the end. And you hope that the next page will continue... Mike has you hooked. He can now tell the story his way, knowing you will be along for the ride, through all the books in the series.  And then, because you have developed a trust-relationship with an author you now know delivers a solid story, you will begin buying his other books.

Enjoy the interview and let me know your thoughts. 
~Andre

Mike Wells
ME: "Lust, Money and Murder," Book 1, which you offer as a free download from your site, is an outstanding example of how to set up a novel, grab the reader from the first line, and swiftly move them through an action sequence, hooked all the way through the (literal) cliffhanger.  How do you develop your story sequences to make them so tightly written and how long do you spend getting it set up? 

MIKE WELLS: I spend huge amounts of time on the beginning of my books trying to make them hook the reader in as quickly and deeply as possible.  I have literally rewritten and changed the beginnings on some books 25-30 times.  This is probably a habit that grew out of the need to hook literary agents, back when I was involved in traditional publishing (I only self-publish now).  With most agents, you have about 60 seconds to get them interested or they chuck it.  But many readers are the same, and I'm one of them.  If I'm not firmly hooked within a couple of pages, it's my opinion that the author is not doing a very good job; his/her story needs honing.  That's not to say every book needs to start with an action scene or anything like that, but there must be something strongly compelling in the writing to hook you and make you want to read more.  


Despite what I've just said, I don't believe I work any harder on the opening of a book than I do on any other part of the book.  In today's market, your ENTIRE book had better achieve a super-high level of reader engagement, or you're in trouble.  The moment engagement drops, even a tiny bit--the moment the narrative tension grows a little slack--you run the risk of losing your reader to some other form of entertainment.  TV, movies, games, chatting, social networking--the list is endless and always growing, not to mention the massive number of OTHER books that the reader can turn to.  I believe the "unputdownable" quality of my books (something readers say about them, not my words) is the reason I have been as successful as I am, and I will always stay focused on that aspect of my storytelling.

ME: Do you plot out all aspects of your storyline ahead of time or do you have a general idea that you allow to develop as you write?

MIKE WELLS: The latter. That's a very clear and succinct way to describe it.  I start with a premise that I find intriguing.  A young woman begins to receive mysterious emails that accurately predict future events, and she places bets on them and starts making tons of money (Passion, Power & Sin).  A five month old baby starts talking, or so the father thinks, and he soon believes the baby is out to get him (Baby Talk).  A 14 year old boy's older, reckless friend begins to push him to take life-threatening risks to prove his manhood (The Wrong Side of the Tracks).

Once I have the premise, I often dive right in and start writing the opening scene, or various opening scenes, and go from there.  I might write 1/3 of the book before I actually zoom back out to the big picture and ask myself, "Where is this story going?  What will happen in the middle, and how will it all end?"  I will spend a day or two up at the outline level, working on the overall story structure, and then dive back into the details.  

Most of my writing process consists of exactly this - spending the majority of my time down at the detail level (writing or daydreaming actual scenes, dialogue, etc.) and then occasionally "climbing" back up to the outline.  This is what I think of as development.  It's very much the same process artists use when painting a picture.  First they make a rough pencil or charcoal sketch, then they dive into the details, and every now and then they step far back from the canvas to see how it all fits together.  

ME: "Wild Child," which has a whimsical, fantasy style about it, also pulls in the reader to want to know more. The search for answers appears prevalent in this story, as well as the relationship between characters. How do you decide a story is worthy of being written and do you start in any particular way? 

MIKE  WELLS: I think the answer to this question is evident in my last answer.  

For me, writing a successful novel is all about the premise of the story.  Period.  That's the kernel around which everything else is built.  If the premise is not intriguing enough for me, then I will never finish writing the book.  The telltale sign that I don't have an interesting enough premise (for me) is that I get a feeling of having to push myself too much to write the book, and it becomes heavy, like work.  It is no longer fun.  When I've got that great premise, I, as the author, want to know what happens next each and every step of the way--I want to see how it all plays out.  This inner desire to see how it all unfolds is what gets me through the arduous process of writing an entire book--it pulls me along, all the way through to the end.  I suppose this is what some people call inspiration.  Anyway, I have learned that if I am being steadily pulled forward by this magical force as I write the book, so will other people as they read it.

ME: You post on your site at http://www.mikewellsbooks.com how 3000 printed copies of "Wild Child" went from the trash can to the #1 Amazon spot. It is a very revealing look at how the publishing market has shifted toward e-books, I believe in a 70/30 ratio. When you write, do you do so with it planned as only being an e-book in your marketing focus, and is this a different frame of mind than you might have expecting it to be a print book? 

MIKE WELLS: I only publish ebooks now.  As far as I'm concerned, printed books are dead, except for certain kinds of books  - not most novels - and as collector's items.  As a professional writer, I can't work on inspiration alone - I make my living from my writing. This means that like it or not, I have to think about the practical side, too.  

I don't want to get into a discussion about the future of ebooks vs. paper books--I have my opinion on that, and I'm pretty sure I'm right.  But for me, it really wouldn't matter if the paper book market were holding steady or even growing relative to ebooks.  For me, paper books and ebooks are two different worlds.  Paper books represent the traditional publishing industry, a place that was not particularly friendly to me and one in which I was not very successful.  

Ebooks are the reason I'm a successful novelist, and the reason I'm sitting here giving this interview right now.  Despite all the hype that's out there, the paper book market is still controlled by the Big 5 publishers.  If you don't believe me, self-publish your book on paper and see how many copies you can get onto the physical shelves of a Barnes & Noble.  I'm not saying it's impossible, but with the massive effort it would require on my part to even get a few copies in a few physical bookstores, I could sell thousands and thousands more ebooks.  So what's the point?  I have to focus my energy on what works for me, not what doesn't work or feels like an uphill battle.  

There are some things I do to give me an advantage, and which would not work with paper books.  Your citing of "Wild Child" is a perfect example.  It's just too short for big publishers to make money on as a paperback book unless it takes off and becomes a worldwide bestseller, which rarely happens - a matter of luck in many ways.  Ebook readers don't care how long the stories are, so to speak.  An ebook is just a digital file, has no tangible form.  There are other things I do to take advantage, but the flexible length aspect is the main one.  And this works on both ends of the length spectrum.  For example, the full "Passion, Power & Sin" set (books 1-5) would be over 800 pages in a printed format (according to Apple), which would be very hard to publish on paper in a single volume.  I certainly wouldn't want to drag it around!

ME: You are a prolific writer with many books (many of which are part of a series.) You have also managed to pick up many thousands of Twitter followers (68K, I believe), essential to getting the word out about your writings. Your followers are such that whatever you write, you are guaranteed a buying audience. What advice can you give to writers trying to build on their social media follower base in order to expose more of their work, and how long did it take you to reach that number of followers?

MIKE WELLS: Every fiction writer I know who is successful does it a little differently - there is no one size fits all formula that works for selling books (or anything else, for that matter).  Depends a lot on what you're good at, your personality type.  

Some writers use Twitter, others prefer Facebook, still others use Goodreads, and some use no social networks at all and yet still sell thousands of copies just based on the genre, cover art, title and synopsis.  

Yes I do have a lot of followers on Twitter (took me almost 3 years to build that up, mostly by following other people first and offering them a free book).  But only a fraction of my readers are on Twitter (maybe 15%) - most find out about my books from a number other of different forums: my blog posts, browsing on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Goodreads, recommendations from friends, reviews on book blogs, Linkedin connections, interviews like this one, reviews in large publications such as The Evening Standard, an article in The Daily Mail (about "Wild Child")...they're pulled in from a very wide variety of sources.  

I would advise new authors to use a multi-pronged approach and try as many avenues as possible. I know one author who is very successful and yet uses nothing but Pinterest.  I find that very strange, but it works well for her because she's learned how to use it effectively.  

ME: Mike, my thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and permission to utilize the first chapter of "Lust, Money and Murder," Book 1, as a writing tool for other writers. I look forward to future conversations. 

MIKE WELLS: In closing, I'd like to say you asked some very good questions in this interview, and I've enjoyed answering them.  Thank you so much for the opportunity!

Download Lust, Money and Murder, the first book in one of his series, as a FREE download.  

Mike can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Audible (audio books), as well as on his website at http://www.mikewellsbooks.com







A RANT TO PUBLISHERS - WELL, MOST PUBLISHERS...BUT NOT US!

I came across this YouTube video and thought I would share.


The narrator brings up a lot of good points about the publishing world, when it comes to print books, and I found myself agreeing with many of them.  Do you? What are your thoughts?

~Andre

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The ONLY Secret to Good Writing is...Writing!

February 19, 2014:

There is no magic in writing. There is talent. There are great ideas. But the real magic of writing comes from just writing. Excellence is a habit that comes from repetition.

Writers write wherever they are. They write on napkins, paper bags, scraps of paper, receipts - anything that is handy when an idea pops up, or a thought develops. Why?  Because an idea not written down is one forgotten.

As for the business of writing - just write. Forget about editing and proofreading until after it is done. It is far better to see a novel through to the end and then go back and refine and revise it, than to keep stopping and second guessing yourself.

This is not to say that you should do no pre-writing work. You need to know plot points, structural elements, and where the story is going. Later, after it is done, you can adjust where scenes should have been placed, refine character points and fine tune dialog.

New writers often make the mistake of a slow and overly descriptive opening. While an established author can take a long time to pull the reader into the story, it is only because there is an established relationship already there. New writers must grab the reader from the first line. Offer your back story and background later, once the reader is hooked.

Start your story with action rather that description. Hook the reader by offering them something they cannot just figure out. You want the casual reader, looking at the sampler of your work, to smile and feel like they have discovered a gem they cannot wait to finish.

Example of a poor start:

The river flowed to the Pacific Ocean, a slow meandering line of blue that slipped in and out of thick foliage. The leaves were a crisp green after the rainstorm; the grit of the city behind it had been washed off. For thousands of years the river had been home to fish, many exotic species living out their lives in a small distance of their spawning ground.... 

Example of a good start:

The body floated face down, bobbing on the surface of the long river, on its way to the Pacific Ocean. It had been adrift for less than a day, the blood flow from the bullet holes, long stopped. It was a man's body, mid-twenties, too young to have died this way, and his last words had been a plea for a second chance. His executioner had declined. The coroner would later list his name as Rico Fuentes, taken from a fake, waterlogged driver's license in his trouser pocket. But his name was really Bobby Swift. 

Which of the two stories would you want to read more of?  

While descriptions are good, they should be used only where it is essential to the storyline, and not just to use up word count. The essence of a good story is one that moves the reader from scene to scene, with the reader edgy to move it along just a bit faster than you have it written. Then you have them hooked.

If you start writing and then stop, realizing that you were too descriptive, and attempt to revise it, you will slow yourself down. The story will not be told because you will be consumed with making it as good as it can be. It is always easier to see something as a whole and not as parts.

Write your novel without stopping. Don't look back except, perhaps, for reference points that you might need. Follow your plot outline. Get it done and then put it away for a few days, at least, before you look at it again.  Don't crow about it being completed.

The work is just beginning.

After a brief rest from it, you may look at it with fresher eyes. From start to finish you can reread it, scribble notes, changes, questions that come to mind. Note where things are too descriptive, where they are too sparse. Note where dialog needs to be changed. Look at the break points of scenes and whether you now need to mix them up, giving readers a change of pace rather than a long block of a story. Discover the places to break, keeping your reader on edge.

And then rewrite it, change it, edit it and proof it. After that, only if you feel you did a solid job revising, some other eyes should see your work, offer real criticism; not just platitudes. You want critics, not friends. Friends will not want to hurt your feelings.

There will be more writing, still. When you send it to me, you will get my input. Another editor will offer something different, a different viewpoint. Again you change it. But it is still not done. You will keep finding mistakes. Even after it gets sent for professional proofing, you will find mistakes. The goal is to reduce those as much as possible.

So what are you waiting for? You know the only secret to writing. Make it happen. I look forward to seeing what you create.

~Andre

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BOOK SALE...PRICES FOR THESE BOOKS THAT YOU WON'T FIND ELSEWHERE

Hop over to our website and see our sale prices. We've reduced our paperback prices, and offer ALL our e-books for $1 only!  And, if you buy a paperback, you get a FREE e-version of the book. www.BYCTPublishing.com.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A BRIEF INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR HAZEN WARDLE

A Brief Interview with Hazen Wardle, author of The Triumph Detective

You can buy The Triumph Detective at www.BYCTPublishing.com and www.TriumphDetective.com in both paperback and e-book formats. It is also available everywhere else!

The book is part of January's DO SOME GOOD, 2014 PROGRAM - Buy the paperback and get $1 OFF your purchase. BYCT Publishing will donate $2 to The Make-A-Wish Foundation. You also get the e-book version FREE with your purchase.

If you prefer e-books only, make your purchase before February 1 and we'll send you a code for $1 OFF your next e-book purchase with BYCT Publishing.


What inspired you to write your first book?
Just a story that had been running through my head for years. I finally started writing it. Haven’t published that one yet—it’s still being refined. My current published works are just wacky ideas I had.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Just my own. I tried mimicking Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy author) but that failed miserably. I have also tried to inject some of John Grisham’s styles but again, that doesn't really work too well, for me anyway. I read a lot and pay attention to how other authors write, but ultimately I just go with my own voice. My biggest advice is just to start writing the story and see where it goes. As you get into it you develop your own style. Just don’t try to be something or someone you are not.


How did you come up with your books' titles?
Depends on the book. Some of the books I had the title before I started writing, and others are yet to be titled, and some have temporary titles. Frequently a line or passage from the book will lend itself to being the title to the book. Don’t worry about the title while writing.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
Just enjoy my writing and the story for what it is. I rarely have hidden messages (though I have hidden gems, like a nod to Friar Tuck from Robin Hood). Sometimes I try and inject a political or moral to the story but they are usually a side note the reader may not even notice.


How much of your books are realistic?
I try to make them so you can visualize them in your mind easily, or possibly as if you are watching a movie, but I don’t base them on reality, per se. Depends on your view of ‘reality’. Super human teenagers and sparkly vampires? Not for me. Off the wall and quirky? Absolutely. Believable sci-fi? You betcha. The biggest thing is, if the reader believes it or at least is able to envision it, I have succeeded.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My main published story is about a goofy detective who hunts for Elvis and drives a Triumph GT6. I'm not a major Elvis fan myself, but I do have a GT6. I inject my own knowledge and experiences of that car into the story. My family claims I am the lead character though, so you do tend to put yourself into the story whether you intend to or not. Otherwise, all of his situations are made up - emotions and feelings, however, are based on my views of the world and personal experiences. But of course it is that way; you don’t really know anything else.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Simply because I have emailed him the most, Jerry Oltion (look him up). He told me, if nothing else, try and write 1000 words a day. I have yet to do that, but I try and keep it in mind.

What book are you reading now?
Currently in between professionally published books, although my boy downloaded Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory part 2,) so that will most likely be my next read. I am in the middle of proofreading a fellow indie author’s yet to be published book called Chadora, it’s about a mystical town in New England where folks age slowly and heal unnaturally fast.
I just finished reading my nephews in-the-works story, a futuristic military/alien invasion story.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Entity? You mean like a person? Various online forums were quite helpful and encouraging. A number of friends as well.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I write for myself. If anyone likes it, that’s a bonus. No need to change it if you already like it.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Not really. I think I had an idea for a story way back in 5th or 6th grade. I have an unfinished story based loosely on that idea.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Research, when needed.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Again, the above mentioned authors. Douglas Adams is quirky and funny. John Grisham is very down to earth and easy to understand, simple writer. Peter F Hamilton has some wonderful descriptions throughout his writing. Craig Thomas (writer of The Hunt for Red October-Sean Connery- and Firefox-Clint Eastwood) always kept me captivated with his international spy/espionage stories.

What was the hardest part of writing your books?
Getting over the ¾ of the way through writers block

Have you learned anything from your writing? If so, what?
Improved typing skills, as wells general communication via the written word. Important emails to co-workers, etc.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just start writing. Let the story out. Sometimes you will find the story takes on a life of its own and goes somewhere you had never intended. Correct grammar and punctuation are a major key in writing. Also, take all criticism as it is intended - to help you become a better writer. Don’t become discouraged because someone says they don’t like it. You can’t please everyone. That said, don’t write for anyone but yourself, especially if you are not under a contract to write a specific thing. If you don’t enjoy writing for the sake of writing, you’ll hate what you are writing if it is ultimately not for yourself.



You can buy The Triumph Detective at www.TriumphDetective.com in both paperback and e-book formats. It is also available everywhere else!

Friday, January 10, 2014

IS YOUR BOOK INVISIBLE? NOTES TO HELP THE SELF-PUBLISHED!

The thrill of publication is often tempered by the lack of visibility. It is akin to landing on a planet of authors, each with one or more books in hand, and trying to make yours stand out. 

Your options are seemingly limited. 

Perhaps you could push yourself to the front of the line, force others out of your way by brute force. Perhaps you could bribe your way to the front. Perhaps you could stand upon the shoulders of another author and scream out your name and title in the hopes that other heads will turn and look at you.

The simple fact is that you are one of many thousands upon thousands of authors who have published something. 

What happens next is what defines you.

This is not an essay on the differences between self-publishing and mainstream publishing. While there are obvious pitfalls to both - the former often results in the author's biased judgements inhibiting editing and proofing, while the latter can be an insurmountable obstacle.  

This essay is about how to have your book seen. You need eyeballs, and lots of them. Writing is a business more than an art form, unless you do not care about profits and plan to exist only on the stature of being a published author. 

And while social media has provided many excellent, affordable forums for writers (and others) to promote their wares, that media form is over-saturated and results in thousands of voices all drowned out.  You may certainly have boatloads of followers, but are they buying your book?  They are your endless "friends," but so few have seen what you write beyond the posts you make, or the free samples. 

One thousand free downloads and one sale. 

When a new author sees that result their response is often sadness. After all, writing is difficult. Sustaining characters through hundreds of pages of action, with words that inspire and incite your reader to turn the next page is, itself, an art form. You edited your book, had cousin Billy - who likes to draw cartoons while in church - design your cover, and used Create Space or Lulu to print it up because the process was simple and cost you nothing.

You built it and no one came. 

It is important for authors to recognize that marketing and promotions are equal in strength to the creation of the book itself. Without a strong plan for marketing, you are simply the author of a book. One book no one outside of your mother has heard of.

Several key elements need to be stressed here. Your book must be a solid read. Asking an audience to pay money and offering an incomplete or shoddy book insults them and destroys the trust they need to have to buy more books. 

With the decline of brick and mortar stores, many independent book stores are boycotting authors who publish through Amazon (Create Space imprints). In addition, Lulu.com, like Create Space, provides an opportunity to self-publish; but with that comes the stigma of not being a professional author. Both venues, while perfectly fine for printing books, detract, in my opinion, from the status of a published author.  It is difficult enough to gain respect as a self-published author (unless you have a mass of sales), and labeling yourself as an amateur does not help.

More so, both sites offer forums for members to chat, network, and the chatter becomes a matter of public record. These authors must ask themselves whether they want this association to be public. Reading self-published author comments on forums like these, demonstrates both their newness to the field, their insecurities, or both.  

So how do I find your book? The same way I would find your song, painting, resume, dating partner - anything that you do in life where you compete against the masses. You have to be different enough to stand out, persistent enough to be noticed, confident enough to revise your work to a higher standard, smart enough to know that one book will never permit you enough revenue to survive, and to associate with people who can help you - not people who are in the same pond!

An interesting book marketing note: Everyone knows J.K. Rowling from her Harry Potter series. Last year, she released a novel, "The Cuckoo's Calling" under the pen name, Robert Galbraith. The book received little interest. In fact, I would suggest that it was floundering, especially compared to sales of her other books. Looking at the size of the Harry Potter novels, no one would assert that J.K. Rowling could not write. And yet here was this new book, lost in the fray.

One day, however the media found out and announced that it was a J.K. Rowling book under an assumed name, and immediately the book became a best seller. 

So what can you learn from this? I know that the Harry Potter books are not the world's best literature. I know that she went from living on the state, as an article described, to being extremely wealthy, within a five year period of time. This from that Wikipedia citation: "In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on an old manual typewriter.[60] Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book's first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her quest for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript.[26] A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a publishing house in London.[26][61] The decision to publish Rowling's book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father and immediately demanded the next.[62] Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children's books.[63]"

Reading this, I see several events unfolding. A beta reader who liked it. Submitting the book, based upon that response, and then finding an agent. After enduring the 12 rejections she was finally accepted for publication on a small advance. In the end, her entire fortune that resulted, appears hinged upon the whim of the eight year old daughter of the publisher who finally accepted her. The girl liked the book. You cannot make that stuff up!   

Getting your work out there. Talking to people. Finding some one to read your book and offer a review. Getting passed the gatekeepers - perhaps having them read it and then recommend it to their bosses - until you finally find a publisher.  

All of that is a full time job.


Many new authors forget that they have no audience. Stephen King has the luxury of 50 pages to drag his audience in, because they know they are reading Stephen King.  You do not have that luxury.  You must grab your audience on the first line of the first page. Your readers must know what they are getting into immediately. No one has the patience to wade through pages of flowery, scene descriptions, to find the point of the story.I frequently talk with writers hung up on the words they write rather than the point of having written the book. Once you have a strong readership, you have more luxury in this way.

The buyer is fickle...

Skimming through a few dozen titles, either online or in a book store, the potential buyer's eyes settle on one book. The cover was catchy. The title was catchy. That was the first reason to look. They flip over the book to read the back cover blurb, or open the book and randomly pick a page. If what they see does not grab them, the book is closed and returned to the shelf.  There are many other books to look at. 

This works the same way online - but worse!

Amazon offers a "Look Inside" feature, offering a sampling of your book. Often, these limited pages include your copyright page, dedication page, and table of contents, leaving only a page or two for the reader to base their purchasing decision. After all, on Amazon they can be one-click away from spending money, and your book had better be good.

The potential buyer might read the reviews; but no one believes reviews anymore. It is too easy to get reviews. And since the average review is a short one liner, anyone can offer a review for you without even having read your book. 

How much does the book cost? The reader looks. 300 pages - way too long for me to spend on an unknown. Stephen King may offer up 1200 pages and have no problems with sales, but you are not Stephen King. $15.99 for the paperback - I wanted a fast read, not the price on an entree. What about the e-book? $6.99!  Too much money to take a chance. 

The 99-cent wonder

There was a time when free and 99 cent books were considered good ways to grab readers. The debate on that is still ongoing and appears that value is based on marketing plans rather than just exposure itself. 

The value of the work of the author is reflected in the price, don't you think? $1.99?  The reader is satisfied that your cover, your title, your blurb and your price have placed your book in the "I won't cry if it turns out to be garbage, because I did not spend a lot of money on it" category. Great criteria!

The long road to one book sale! 

The average self-published author, removing purchases by friends and kindly relatives, may find that they make no sales at all. No one knows they exist.

There are approximately 100,000 to 250,000 books published each year.  How many books did you read last year? If your book is one of the 250,000, how will anyone find you?

Now that I have disappointed you, let me assure you that you can succeed. You can succeed by yourself or with a publisher, or by clever marketing. There is no one way that works for all. No one book that can tell you how to do it the right way.

Exposure. Publicity. Time consuming, slow-progressing marketing will eventually make you known. However, if you stop at one book, you are hurting the opportunity for a career. 
Consider that when a reader looks you up online and sees you have only one book, it is a short leap to assume that the book was not good enough and that you gave up writing! If so, why should they buy your book. There are ways around this obstacle, as well.


Is this a shameless plug for BYCT Publishing? In part. We do tell you honestly that if you can get a big name, mainstream publisher interested in your book, you should jump on it. We also offer ourselves as your second choice - there are no charges of any kind in the preparation and production of your book with us. We only make money from sales and so we have a vested interest in your success. 

I invite you to look at www.BYCTPublishing.com and see what options we offer. We do have strict standards and will reject anything that does not meet them.  You might also consider signing up for our FREE e-Newsletter. Click HERE. We keep you updated on new releases, tips, and other items of interest. We will not sell your information.

No matter what, remember this: If you have chosen to be a writer then above all else, keep writing!

~AG

Monday, January 6, 2014

BLOOD, GUTS, SEX, VIOLENCE AND PROFANITY - IT IS NOT ABOUT MORALITY.

See free e-sampler below: a taste is all you need

Have you ever gone to one of those warehouse-style grocery places and had one of the samplers they hand out?  Yeah - that one!  You get this little plastic cup or a small piece of paper upon which your sample rests. Immediately you ram it in your mouth and pretty much swallow it whole, although the taste does get through to your brain. And you ponder it. "Hmmm, not bad," you say, wondering if you can con your kid into getting another one for you under the pretense of it being for him.  "You know what, son, tell them you need four - the whole family wants to try it!"


Communion, anyone?

Do you go to a church that offers communion/sacrament or something where the body of Christ is represented in the bread? It is but a small scrap of bread, but you notice the taste and the texture. And after it has dissolved, you still can taste it.  A sip of wine. The light scent of a fragrance rather than the overpowering chop of an Axe product.

My mother would meter out rich chocolates by the square - a square was a lot smaller back then. That little taste would saturate my mind and body. Sure, I wanted more. Yes - I could have eaten an entire family sized block in one sitting. "Just one," she said. "You'll appreciate it more." But then she would relent and offer one more small square. 


The dreaded 'f' word

People did not swear much when I was a boy. When they did it stood out! "Did he just say...the 'f' word," I might ask?  "Yes, he did." "Wow!"  In contrast, the youth of today inject 'f' into every third word, as though somehow it brings intelligence into what has been said.  I cannot hold a conversation with someone throwing it out there nonstop. 

I remember the first time I saw a dead body - the victim of a traffic accident. It was not overly gruesome, some blood from the corner of the victim's mouth and nose. But I felt a chill, a vice gripping me. I was shocked. That person was dead. It was stark.  Nowadays, an evening of television yields at least ten or so victims, more if you watch CSI. It seems like everyone is getting killed, and they are showing more and more detail - blood droplets sprayed as a fine mist as the camera does a slow motion rotation around the head of the guy that now features a large hole.  Video games have made killing so irrelevant to youth to such an extent that the military should consider it excellent training


Is it Violence and Sex or Sex and Violence?

The argument about violence and sex and profanity is often about morality; but I suggest it is more about insanity. Like gluttony, the need for more is addictive and irrational. It was the problem the Chinese faced as the English fueled their populace with Opium to trade for tea and silk that ultimately resulted in a war. 

You want more, bigger, better, faster until you hit that wall where it all blends out too much. What you have left are unemotional, detached people with different value systems. One has to only read the news headlines or walk down a busy street to wonder the end effect of this. Like alcoholics who do not notice the quality of what they drink after the first or second glass, sensory excess leaves us void of the ability to discern.

It takes discipline to recognize and accept that small doses makes for appreciation. What is not readily available has a higher value. What is considered rare is a treasure to have. It amplifies the significance of it, whereas excess relegates it to a base level.  Television viewing used to be limited. Stations actually went "off the air" overnight. Shows were focused on entertaining. Families were in mind and censors were in full force.  Now words that were once banned have bled into all shows. 


We are not prudes!!!

Books You Can Trust Publishing is not prudish in wanting clean stories to publish. Clean does not mean that there is no violence or sex. It means that the story offers you content that allows you to fill in the blanks. You do not need that 3-d camera move catching the blood droplets. Allowing your mind to fill in the information offers you a richer experience. Reading is meant to be a pleasurable art form that entertains you, and in which you are a participant. We certainly accept that violence is a part of the world and often a necessary plot device. It is the manner in which that violence is presented that becomes problematic.

We do not need the whole "f" word used. Like other words that are deemed unacceptable, it can be implied. He swore. He grunted. He cursed the harshest expletive he knew then walked off." I do not need to hear the word. I do not need to see your guts! 

The number one romance novel on Amazon has the first dozen or so pages devoted, in graphic detail, to a naked man getting out of the bed of his lover, in definitive anatomical minutiae, as she takes a shower. It covers the sexual activities they performed in as slippery a language as the author could devise to excite the reader into a frenzy of their own. It left nothing to the imagination. You knew who shaved, where they shaved, and why they did a bad job shaving.  Gripping stuff!

As a publisher, we have one of two choices. We can do what sells, what the addicted masses crave - give in and publish the excesses of the world and make a few bucks from it. Or we can take a more cautious road, filter down the insanity and try our best to provoke our readers into finding that place where they allow themselves to be pulled along by their own imagination, rather than telling them every last detail. We choose the latter.


Scream on! Maybe everyone will listen!

My son plays basketball. He tries hard. His team's coach offers great advice, gently encouraging, allowing them to use the advice on the court so that they learn. Sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. It is just a game. They are supposed to have fun. Like all kids, they take instruction and must decipher it. We call that learning.

The opposing team coach, on one game, directed every player, second by second, shouting out obnoxiously, and single handedly manipulating his players to act like robots in order to win the game. "Bobby move five feet to the left. No more. Yes, there! Bobbly throw Tommy the ball. Tommy grab the ball. Tommy run with it. Tommy pass it to Bobby NOW! Bobby take the shot NOW! Tommy go behind him, NOW, NOW, NOW!!!" 
The urge to surgically remove that man's vocal chords was overpowering.  And yet this coach represents how society and the media dictate our belief system and our entertainment. You no longer need your own imagination - it will be provided to you, and now in Real-3D.  Next up - implants so you can feel the fear, feel the bullet enter your body. You will feel it. You will have no choice but to live that man's last moments. You will like it!


Gripping stuff!

In a world where some of the latest kids books show things that poop - yes poop - I have to believe that clean has a place. With one third of the planet professing to Christian beliefs, I find it amazing that there is not more of a demand for those commandment value systems that were designed to maintain people of higher character. 

I'd like you to take a chance on our authors. They are not prudes. They write well, have action sequences, injuries, anger, violence, death, all within the confines of reasonable expectations, and a lack of extreme graphic imagery. You get to inject that yourself. 

Our authors have employed what all great authors employ, a skill with words to create a story that will make you want to turn the page. And as more readers buy these kinds of books, the message will spread to other writers and change will slowly take place. 


Try our free sample - just a taste!
I invite you to download a sample of Come What May by Tom Wick. This is an excellent book that will grab you from the start. 

Click HERE and choose your format. It is a big book, packed with story. I won't tell you what to think and would like you to tell me after you have seen it. 

If you read the sample and enjoy the book, I will give the full FREE E-version (format of your choice) to the first 20 people who ask me for it, with the hope that you will write a short review. Contact me with the form at the right of this page and I'll send the first 20 people the full novel link.

So which colored pill do you want? I hope you want the cleaner one!

Thanks for reading - do share your feedback. 

~AG