Where’s Your Writers’ Pain?

January 29th, 2016

Where is Your Writers Pain?

If you’ve spent as much time writing over the years as I have, you are probably experiencing at least occasional pain of the repetitious sort. This is especially true if you sit at the computer for as many hours per day as I do.

So where is your pain? In the wrists? Neck? Back? Knees? Hands? What’s your remedy? Do you actually give your joints and muscles a break at regular intervals like you should? Do you exercise every day? Have you found new positions that help relieve the pain? New equipment that helps? Or do you self-medicate?

We had a chiropractor speak to our writers group years ago and he told us horror stories from the corporate world where typists were required to sit sideways with their typewriter or keyboard on a filing cabinet all day typing. He taught us the importance of ones posture while typing and the value of placing the monitor at the proper eye-level so you’re not stressing your neck.

We’ve all known people who’ve needed surgery for various injuries or stress due to repetitive motion in their jobs. And many writers—if not most—have a favorite chiropractor or massage therapist or have learned to compensate in some way to relieve areas of pain.

I was having wrist pain until I began using an ergonomic keyboard. What a huge difference. I know people who balance on a large ball while typing in order to strengthen their back muscles. One woman I know stands at her computer all day long. She loves the results.

I once saw an ergonomic chair demonstrated. That seemed like a good idea—rather like one of those electric beds you see advertised as there are adjustments for every part of your body.

My chiropractor says I should get up from my computer every hour and move around. My doctor maintains the value of daily exercise—walk, ride a bike, garden, etc. And I try to do it all. I don’t want to lose any muscle or joint function that would prevent me from writing. Although, I know that you can write from other positions. I wrote my first book from my bed while recovering from a back injury. I’d hand-write a chapter, then and type that up on a portable typewriter–yes, in the bed. Of course, now we have the laptop and the iPad, making it quite easy to write in any position and from any location.

As you work on that next bestseller, you must realize that bodies don’t last forever and repetitive motion, particularly if it goes against the normal and healthy movement of our joints and muscles, can and will eventually protest. And what aboutyour eyes—can they take the constant strain we put on them to stare into the screen and focus on the small characters that appear? I think where I notice the most stress is when I overwork my brain. So what are you doing to protect your body? Are you being kind to yourself as you scramble to finish writing a book or to add another book to your series? I believe that a huge part of taking care of ourselves is to listen carefully to our body. Pay attention and you’ll know when it is time to take a break, change position, bring in a piece of ergonomic equipment, quit for the day, or take a few days off. Yeah, yeah, you may know at an intellectual level that it’s time to quit or make a change, but do you do it? Or do you continue stressing your body or your brain trying to work through it? You know that your work is better when you’re fresh and pain-free.

Sites you might want to visit for additional information: https://tobiasmastgrave.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/writers-take-care-of-your-body/


The Changing Face of Book Promotion

January 21st, 2016

I’ve been silent for too long. Been writing and also promoting my fiction. Today I’m in promotion mode. Some things have come to my attention and I think they might be of interest to you.

First, I’ve said this before—as an author, you should be subscribing to and READING appropriate newsletters (which are mainly enewsletters today). Most are FREE. If you’re an author, you’ll want to subscribe to newsletters related to the topic and genre of your book as well as anything even remotely linked to the process and mindset of book promotion. Now, not every issue of every newsletter will include information you can use. But I’m pretty sure that there are relevant and even money-making/book-selling items in some of the newsletters you subscribe to that you’ve missed. You’ve missed some because you didn’t bother to read the newsletter at all. Others you’ve missed because you thought the idea was too difficult, time-consuming, stupid, or not germane to your project. Sure, you’re probably right in some cases, but not all. I would venture to guess that most of you miss out on some great opportunities because you’re just not paying attention or you’re not willing to meet a challenge.

No one said being an author would be easy. In fact, the crux of most books on publishing is that authorship is darn hard work. And most of the work comes after publication.

The second thing I want to bring up today is the book review. I’ve had hundreds of reviews for my 56 books—some are wonderful, flattering, validating and others, well, not so much. It happens. Not every reviewer or reader will love your book. But that’s no reason not to scramble for reviews. There are dozens of methods of getting book reviews. I talk about them in my books, “Publish Your Book,” and “Promote Your Book,” and even in “Propose Your Book.” It might be helpful if I put together a list of methods for locating reviewers and attracting reviews. Let me know if you’re interested. If not, I certainly have plenty of other things to keep me busy. PLFry620@yahoo.com. (Don’t leave a comment here, I get hundreds of spam comments every week and, I’m afraid I don’t go through them very carefully as I toss them by the dozens into the trash.)

I’ve spent hours and hours as well as $$$ locating and contacting book reviewers over the years—most recently for my Klepto Cat Mysteries. I’ve purchased books of reviewers, I’ve done individual Internet searches, I’ve visited numerous blog sites and reviewer sites, tapped into their list of favorite bloggers and reviewers and contacted them, I’ve attempted to contact reviewers for other books similar to mine. And over these past two days, I spent hours—probably 10 hours in total—chasing down and following up with new book reviewers I’ve found and bloggers who interview authors. I was rather surprised at what I discovered.

I learned how important it is to be well-connected at prestigious/well-known book sites, such as GoodReads. So I spent additional time this week putting my ducks in a row at some of these sites, with a list of sites still to contact. You want to make sure your book is listed at these key sites (including Amazon), post your author profile, and find ways to connect with your particular audience. I’ll be able to tell you more about this once I’ve spent more time pursuing it for my own purposes.

Here’s a tip. Just before Christmas, I sent review copies to a list of 30 reviewers who had requested my Christmas story—“A Picture-Purrfect Christmas.” I received this list from a publicist I was working with. These were reviewers I’d never considered approaching, because I was focusing on those who review Cozy Mysteries and books involving cats and other animals. However, all 30 of these reviewers asked to see “A Picture-Purrfect Christmas” and most of them reviewed it. So I contacted each of them today asking if they’d like to receive my latest book, “Meow for the Money” to review. Those for whom I did not have an email address (they asked to receive a print copy), I sent letters—yes, through the mail—using the note cards I had made featuring some of the covers from my Klepto Cat Mystery books.

I’ll let you know the results.

You can read some of the reviews here, if you want: http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Purrfect-Christmas-Klepto-Cat-Mystery/dp/0996673202/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453329190&sr=1-3&keywords=klepto+cat+mysteries

I’d say that around 17 or 18 of these reviews are from this list of 30. As you may know, some reviewers take a long time to respond. And that’s okay. A good review is important no matter when it comes in.

I’ve been blogging and writing about book promotion for years. I often write about my experiences as well as the experiences of others and what I learn through research. Remember, I used to compile the “Market Update” for SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network), so I had many concepts and resources to share with my readers. But believe me, the playing field keeps changing and so do the players, so this is a constant study. Now that I’m writing and promoting fiction, it’s a whole new game in some ways. Stay tuned and I’ll do my best to keep you up on the rules and maybe you, too, will score in the crazy world of authorship.

Contact me here: PLFry620@yahoo.com

Visit my Catscapades blog: http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades




Print Books Are Selling

January 5th, 2016

Did you see the news in Publishers Weekly this week? Print sales are up—yes, again. Those of you who prefer the ease and thrift of publishing only ebooks, take note. Those who stubbornly produce print as well, rejoice. The print book is not dead. According to Nielsen BookScan, sales were up 2.8% in 2015. Sales rose 2.4% in 2014. Trade paperback, including adult coloring books, increased 5%

See the interesting breakdown and the full story here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/65172-print-is-back.html

Blogs and Blogging for Authors

January 2nd, 2016

Is blogging passé? Should authors sign up for a facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so forth? YES, but not to the exclusion of a website and a blog (or 2 or 3).

I know, I know, it’s darn hard to do it all. But if you’re responsible for a household and a family, you’ve been doing it all, anyway. If you’re a business owner, you’ve learned to handle many fires and stir numerous pots at the same a time. When you enter into the world of authorship, you should know that it will require your full attention and many of the skills you use in running a household and/or a business.

A successful author will provide numerous outlets for gaining more exposure. He will constantly reach out to his audience in every way available—through one or more websites and blog sites, social media, personal communication, personal appearances and even other people’s blog sites. You will provide information and material of keen interest to your audience, and do every promotion you can think of to attract them to these sites.

You probably already know that your basic promotion should answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Potential readers need to know that what you offer is something they actually want, and your blog posts should follow that guideline, as well.

Post with your target reader in mind. What information do they want? What will attract them, intrigue them, entertain them? If you come up with absolutely nothing—you’d better get immediate help or rethink your book project.


The Proof is in the Pudding—Another Client Lands a Publisher!!!

December 24th, 2015

When we write a nonfiction book designed to help, teach, or guide others, it’s the results that matter. I love hearing from author readers or clients who have achieved the success they’re after. Just last night, I received an email from one of my clients telling me that Houghton Mifflin has expressed an interest in her book based on the book proposal I helped her devise. This is the second book proposal I’ve helped with that has piqued the interest of Houghton Mifflin. With the first one, they issued a contract over the phone within 24 hours of receiving the proposal and they’ve published several other books by this author since.

As some of you know, I’ve written many articles and two books on how to write a book proposal. I taught a book proposal course for many years and I’ve traveled the US speaking to authors about writing a book proposal. What some of you don’t know is that I also work with authors on their book proposals and some of them experience success.

The most recent book I wrote is unique in many ways as it responds to your particular proposal whether it is for a memoir, children’s book, travel book, how-to, novel, etc.

If you want expert assistance with your nonfiction or fiction book proposal, order my book now: Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Book Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books (Allworth Press) http://www.amazon.com/Propose-Your-Book-Persuasive-Nonfiction/dp/1621534677/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450960936&sr=8-1&keywords=propose+your+book+fry

Or order it from the author here: http://www.matilijapress.com/ProposeYourBook.html

Yes, there are sample proposals in the book. Yes, I’m available to respond to your questions after you study the book and, in fact, to walk you through your own proposal. PLFry620@yahoo.com


Authors Hate Silence

December 23rd, 2015

Are you like me? When you come out with a new book, are you eager for feedback? Do you wait rather impatiently hoping to hear from a reader or see a review posted to your Amazon page? All you want is a little validation that the book you worked so hard to produce has struck a chord, caused someone to think or contemplate, made a reader smile, gave them an ah-ha moment, taught them something, or just provided hours or a moment of entertainment.

Amazon certainly tries to encourage feedback. They know who bought what books and when, and they nudge those customers to post reviews. Authors go out of their way to request feedback through their blogs, facebook pages, etc. We contact known reviewers of books similar to ours in hopes that they will like our book and give it a positive review.

I guess some authors would rather not solicit reviews. They fear what reviewers might say. They don’t want to know whether people like their book, approve of it or not. I know authors who do not read their book reviews. But these are generally one-shot authors. They don’t want or need the feedback because they don’t plan additional books. They didn’t produce a book in order to be popular or to receive compliments. Some authors have a beef or and ax to grind. They want to make a statement—maybe share an opinion through their books. And sometimes it’s not a popular one.

I think those of you reading this post today will agree that book reviews are important. Most authors want them and learn from them. We use them in their promotion. We are encouraged by them to keep writing. We value them.

So, as authors as well as readers, we should be generous with our reviews and our feedback. When Amazon contacts you for a review, and you feel you have something of value to contribute, post one.

At this time, I’d like to ask those of you who have read or are studying my latest book, “Propose Your Book,” please take the time to provide some feedback. There are no stars at the Amazon page, yet. http://www.amazon.com/Propose-Your-Book-Persuasive-Nonfiction/dp/1621534677/ref=sr_1_19?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450875417&sr=1-19&keywords=patricia+fry And I have not heard a word from customers. PLFry620@yahoo.com


“Why Isn’t My Book Selling?”

December 16th, 2015

I’m often asked by authors who are keenly aware of their audience and how to reach them, “What more I can do to promote to this audience?” The author might list the activities they’ve engaged in and even admit that they were mildly successful. “When I do this, I sell books. But I want to sell more books, what do you suggest?”

What do I suggest? Do more of what you’re doing. Solicit more reviews, be guest blogger at more sites that are relevant, go out and speak more often to your readers, ramp up your use of social media—including your blog… If sales increase after you’ve done a promotion, do more promotions. If books fly off the shelves at the local museum gift shop when you offer a discount or book sales increase when you appear at a school, for example, definitely do more of this.

But add to your repertoire, as well. Seek out new potential audiences. Try getting your book in a appropriate catalogs or featured at new sites. Create other items related to the theme of your book and use them to generate sales—an adult color book, note cards, tee-shirts, calendars, etc. Entice people to your website for puzzle challenges, freebies, a hint or quote of the day, etc. in order to attract more potential readers.

When I published my first book, back in 1978, just half of this effort would result in an abundance of sales, however we didn’t have the Internet in those days, so promotion was all done in person or via snail mail—remember press releases and promotional mailings? For authors today, the competition is fierce. You probably didn’t realize this when you decided to enter into the world of publishing. You saw other people producing books in your genre or on your topic and thought it seemed like a good idea. If you’d taken the time to study the industry before getting involved (which virtually no one does, yet definitely should!!!), you’d realize how much time, effort, creativity, and work it takes in order to garner a piece of the pie—sell an abundance of your book.

If your sales have dwindled or they never came about in the first place, it’s probably because you haven’t been asking for sales, pushing for them, striving to get them. You’ve done nothing or just the minimum to get your book noticed.

Tomorrow, I’ll offer additional ideas for promoting your book. In the meantime, be sure to check out my books for authors. Allworth Press has produced four of them—Publish Your Book, Promote Your Book, Talk Up Your Book, and the latest, Propose Your Book. These books are in print, e-book, and audio form at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=patricia+l+fry+allworth I’ve also created a series of “50-Ways” e-booklets for $1.99 each. They include, “50 Ways to Promote your Novel,” “50 Reasons Why You Should Write That Book,” “50 Ways to Promote Your Ebook” and so forth. http://www.matilijapress.com.


Are You Writing for Young Adults?

December 10th, 2015

Excerpted from Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books.

The young adult book category has been popular for several years and continues to expand. While it seems like a fairly new genre, it is actually just coming of age. The first distinction between children’s books and books for adolescents was made in the early 1800s when the division was called “books for young persons” and encompassed youths in the fourteen to twenty-one year old bracket. But librarians didn’t create a young adult section in libraries until the 1970s and ’80s.

Now young adult (or YA) is more of a category rather than a genre because it includes genres of its own. In fact, more genres are added each year. Probably the most popular genres in the YA category are fantasy and romance, however, young people enjoy a good adventure and mystery, as well. Recent additions are graphic novels and Christian fiction. There’s also young adult nonfiction.

So what does the young adult category encompass? YA fiction features young adult or adolescent lead characters and explores themes that are important to young adults—adolescent relationships, peer pressure, heroes in action…and the heroes in these books can take some unusual/otherworldly forms.

Young adult stories typically cover issues that young adults can identify with and very often involve conflict and tension and/or humor. Adolescents, like their adult counterparts, appreciate and are drawn to stories with memorable characters and authentic dialog.

Amidst the young adult book craze, which tends to attract readers in middle school on up into the early twenties, there’s a new category emerging. They’re calling it new adult fiction. This category of books, created for eighteen to thirty year old readers, are designed to bridge the gap between young adult and adult genres. While young adult books certainly contain a heightened measure of tension—with very adult issues coming into play—new adult fiction will take these a step or two further for this more mature audience.

If you want to write in the YA or NAF (new adult fiction) categories, read many popular books for these age groups. Study the language, vocabulary, the characters, the way other authors handle sensitive issues, the level of conflict and tension, and notice some of the topics that are covered. This is not an invitation to copy other authors. That would not be cool. However, it’s important that you understand what’s acceptable for and by this segment of readers before attempting to write in this category.

If you are writing for the young adult and you may need a book proposal to guide you in writing the book and maybe even to help sell your book to a publisher. If so, be sure to add my book, Propose Your Book, to your must-read study list. It’s available at Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/Propose-Your-Book-Persuasive-Nonfiction-ebook/dp/B0140EFHJK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449747968&sr=1-1&keywords=propose+your+book Allworth Press, and Matilija Press. http://www.matilijapress.com/ProposeYourBook.html

What’s the Most Important Part of a Book Proposal?

December 8th, 2015

Most authors, as they strain and stress through the development of their book proposal, will wonder, Where should I put the most effort? What is the most important part of this darn thing? What aspect of it will impress a publisher most? These are valid questions and concerns. But you should also be asking, What do I need to know in order to produce a successful book?

As I wrote my second major book on how to write a successful book proposal, these questions were foremost on my mind, because I know they are (or should be) foremost on yours. But the answer isn’t all that straightforward. Just as there is no simple response to the question, “What’s the best way to publish a book?” or “What’s the best way to promote a book?” the answer depends on the project and the author.

Yes, it’s all on you. I stress that you—the author—must consider yourself the CEO of your book from start to finish and beyond. Sure there’s help, but it’s still up to you to find it, digest it, and make decisions based on what’s right for you and for your project.

So what is the most important part of a book proposal? Which section is most instrumental in swaying an agent or publisher? Which aspect of the book proposal will help the author experience publishing success? It depends. Not the answer you wanted, is it? But if you hang with me, you might discover the keys to your particular, specific, and personal publishing success.

First, the fact that you’re interested in writing a book proposal is an excellent step in the right direction. The book proposal is to an author what a business plan is to an entrepreneur. And it’s just as important. But you already know that. And there may be a section in your book proposal that is more critical or significant than the others, but it may not be the same for all authors and it might not even be what you think it is. Here’s a concept I want you to embrace.

If you are developing a book proposal for a publisher, keep in mind that he is most interested in his bottom line.

He wants you to demonstrate, through your proposal, the elements that might ensure the success of your book. He wants you to show him the money—or to show him where it’s going to come from. What makes your book a potential success? And don’t waste his time with your wishful thinking and guesstimations. This is where your power as the CEO of your book should be evident through stringent research, accurate statistics, and smart decisions. You need to make a case for your book in a way that will be meaningful to that particular publisher.

For example, if this is the first book of its kind and you can prove that it is wanted/needed by a specific group of people, you may get his attention through the market analysis section of your book proposal. That might be the strongest section of your proposal.

Perhaps you are a professional in the topic of your book—you have a huge following both through social media and personally throughout the US (or world). Then your platform will be the standout in your book proposal. Just be sure to embellish it with a concrete promotional plan—don’t leave anything to the publisher’s imagination.

If you’re a first-time novelist, the focus may be in the storyline. You need to strut your stuff in the synopsis, but I’d urge you to also do a whole lot of homework when it comes to marketing. Since you don’t have a built-in audience who knows you as an author, it’s important that you wow the publisher with your knowledge of the publishing industry and what it takes to market a book. Again, be specific—no rambling about promotional possibilities. Research the best way to market a book in your genre, hone your skills in these areas, even practice these skills before completing your book proposal and bring the results to the table when you approach the publisher.

I always recommend that an author write a book proposal before writing the book. If you don’t plan to approach a publisher, that’s even more reason to devise a book proposal. Remember, you are the CEO of your book. The book proposal will help you to determine if you have a book at all, who the primary and secondary audiences are, the best way to market a book of this type and some of the things you need to do to prepare. And it will help you to write the right book for the right audience.

Do you want your book to go viral in the world of publishing? Then take charge. You are the only one who can make it happen.

Patricia Fry is the author of 53 books, several of them are for authors. Her latest book, touted as “valuable,” “a must read,” and “substantial,” is Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books (Allworth Press). This book features chapters specifically for memoirists, novelists and authors of self-help, travel, cookbooks, how-tos and more.


Learn more about Patricia here: www.matilijapress.com and www.patriciafry.com.

Writing Fiction/Story and Character Development

November 27th, 2015

Yesterday I promised I’d talk about how I come up with the plots and characters for my Klepto Cat Mysteries. I was asked just recently if I plan the story and the ending before I start writing it.

For the most part, I have a place setting and possibly the outline of a theme in my head when I start jotting down ideas. I might write two pages of basic scenarios and then pick one to use as the beginning of my story. From there I start writing and the story develops as I move from scene to scene and page to page. Several of my stories start with a shocker—a frightening, stressful, questionable, precarious, tantalizing stunner designed to make the reader keep reading, eager to discover how the main characters found themselves in this dilemma and how they escaped it.

From there, for me, the story just evolves as if by magic as I write it chronologically. When I introduce a new character, there are typically no storyboards or character logs. I simply develop the character as I create the story—the character develops along with the storyline.

Sometimes it’s as if I have a room full of story-writers in my head collaborating to bring a scene or a character to life.

Once the story is pretty well set, I begin the process of fact-checking, reviewing the time-line so it works, making sure the story rings true, and so forth. This is the longest and most tedious part of the process for me, but I enjoy it. I spend a lot of time checking to make sure I introduced the character properly and at the right point in the story—you don’t want to all of a sudden mention a character who hasn’t been properly introduced. It doesn’t matter that he is familiar in the other books in the series. Someone’s apt to be reading book 10 before reading the others. So it’s important to make your stories stand alone, which means you need to reintroduce characters in each book. But that doesn’t mean you must bore those who have read books 1 through 9 by giving the character’s complete history. It takes some finesse to bring old (and new) characters into a story or a scene so that the story flows for any reader.

As for the ending—that’s up for grabs. Rarely, when I start writing a new story do I know how it will end. Sometimes it becomes obvious as the story winds down. Other times I struggle to bring the story to a close and to end it with the reader feeling satisfied, but still wanting more.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the author of the Klepto Cat Mystery series—cozy mysteries with cats. The main cat character is Rags, an ordinary cat with some extraordinary habits. Rags has entertained readers through 13 books so far, and counting. The latest book is “A Picture-Purrfect Christmas.” The Kindle and print versions available here: http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Purrfect-Christmas-Klepto-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B016BBY2GY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448629276&sr=1-1&keywords=a+picture-purrfect+christmas Or order it from me and receive an autographed copy AND a bookmark. http://www.matilijapress.com/Klepto-Cat-Mysteries/Picture-Purrfect-Christmas.html

Please, if you’d like more detail about my techniques or you have a comment, send it to PLFry620@yahoo.com.