Category Archives: Book Printing

The Power of Prayer: Sonja Crockett

Sonja Michelle Crockett was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She attended the Academy of Performing Arts in Chicago, IL majoring in Theatre, and Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, IL. She interned at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. She earned a Bachelor’s in Speech and a Master’s in English from Chicago State University.

Sonja Crockett

RARA: Why did you decide to publish?

Sonja:  I decided to self-publish, because I was dealing with serious health issues, educated, and unable to work. Prior to becoming seriously ill, I wanted to write a children’s book after I lost my baby in 2003. I set the idea of writing a book to the side to fulfill other obligations, such as work and maintaining my household.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Sonja: Christianna, From Test to Testimony: My Memoir, Meriah Goes to Church

Meriah Goes to ChurchChristianna Test to Testimony

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Sonja: s Network (CBAN), book signings at various events, libraries, radio and internet interviews, and Facebook (www.facebook.com/sonjamcrockett.author).  I also have bookmarks I give away for all three of my books.

Additionally, my books may be purchased through many websites, including  www.amazon.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Sonja: I have found google to be the most useful.  There is a lot of information out there and it is important to educate yourself on the process of publishing.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Sonja: My greatest challenge in self-publishing was in the beginning when I was in the learning process and was looking for the right company to print copies of my first book entitled, Christianna. I discovered Mira Digital Publishing and they printed the first copies of my first book.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Sonja: The best advice I can give a new and aspiring author is do not give up on your dream of becoming an author. “Nothing beats a failure, but a try.” Do your research and ask the appropriate people, such as other authors questions. Join a group for authors, such as the Chicago Black Author’s Network (CBAN). Last, but not least, keep writing.

Thank you for taking the time and reading about one of my favorite authors, Sonja Crockett.

Crockett’s résumé includes being a full-time provisional teacher, associate editor, freelance writer, and case manager to name a few. She was also a volunteer for Chicago Commons AmeriCorps.

In February 2006, Crockett became paralyzed. Refusing to be confined to a wheelchair, she returned to walking three and a half months later.

In December 2006, Crockett became paralyzed again. This time, her speech and vision were impaired.

Crockett was diagnosed with a rare disease called Neuro Myelitis Optica (NMO), an auto immune disease likened to Multiple Sclerosis.

She credits GOD for allowing her to walk and talk again. She is still waiting for the full manifestation of her healing.

Her testimony is so that GOD may be glorified, that man may be exhorted and come to CHRIST, and to let people know that GOD still heals.

Meriah Goes to Church is Crockett’s third book. Her first book is a children’s book entitled, Christianna ©2010 and her second book is an adult, non-fiction book entitled, From Test to Testimony: My Memoir ©2011.

Currently, she lives in a south suburb of Chicago.

To read about more self-publishing authors, please check out my previous blogs.

 

 

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Reflections of Liberty: a Memoir by Barbara Post-Askin

Barbara Post-Askin was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She married the love of her life, David Askin, and their lasting love brought them three beautiful children, to carry on their legacy. After the birth of their children, Marc, Shelley and Lawrence, Barbara became an accomplished estate planner in the state of New York. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida.

Website: www.facebook.com/BarbaraPostAskin

author

RARA: Why did you decide to publish your book?

Barbara: I wanted to showcase the brave and resilient America our relatives immigrated and assimilated into. Their sacrifices and accomplishments became part of the dreams that served as a magnet for freedom seekers throughout the world. 

I recently retired at age of 82 years young and I have always wanted to write this book. While I still have my wits, my hope is that my story of growing up during the depression and World War II only one generation ago, will never be forgotten! 

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Barbara: This is the only self-published book I have written so far, “Reflections of Liberty” memoir by Barbara Post-Askin.

Reflections Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book?

Barbara: I have just started a Social Media campaign by partnering with Bluehost, Social Media Guys for my Facebook and Twitter. My EBook distribution is through Book Baby and my outlets are in Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple iBook, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, ESentral, Scrbd, Page Pusher

Print platform is with Mira digital Publishing.  I will be on many social bookmark sites to cross promote Reflections of Liberty. In addition, PR Web will be useful for my media distribution.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Barbara: The most useful, was my education and life experiences in the course of my 82 years.

The internet allowed me to verify my sources and provide me with a great sense of…. I’m not so old after all! This confirmed that my memory IS a computer chip!

The world of tech has offered an outreach like no other. This IS the only thing I like in the tech world! Where one voice can make a difference –just in the click of a button! Most useful: Facebook, Twitter and most social media platforms.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self-publishing?

Barbara: Not knowing the industry and how much it has changed, was my greatest challenge. Because the author doesn’t have to sign up with a big publishing company to self- publish, a whole new world opens up for the reader and the writer. The ability to share your voice couldn’t be easier, but its also harder because you have to stand out from others and the content must drive the audiences desire to listen.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Never say: “I wish I could’a, should‘a would’a”…. just do It!!!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read about one of our new authors.  If you would like to be included in our author interview series, please email me at jill@mirabooksmart.com

 

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A Young Inspirational Writer: Vincent Wolf

Following his previous inspirational children’s book, Do Your Best and Forget the Rest, Vincent Wolf has created The Boy with Hearts for Hair. His work is largely inspired by his love for comic books and his appreciation for philosophy. Wolf is a rising motivational artist who enjoys practicing Tai Chi and traveling. He is available for speaking engagements, book exhibitions and other opportunities. To find out what Wolf is up to now, visit www.llagetsdrawings.com.

Vincent Wolf image

RARA: Why did you decide to publish?

Vincent: I decided to publish because I wanted to help inspire children’s creativity.  I’ve always loved drawing and art growing up.  Now that I’m a little bit older, I have tons of stories I want to share via my artwork and imagination.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Vincent: Two motivational children’s books: Do Your Best and Forget the Rest (2012) and The Boy with Hearts for Hair (2013).

Vincent Wolf Cover 1Vincent Wolf Cover 2

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Vincent: To be honest, I’m still working on marketing strategies.  I attend different events in Georgia and draw caricatures as a professional artist so I’m able to put my books on display and sell a few copies at each event.  School events and book festivals have given me the best results.  I’m currently in the process of throwing a book launch and I’m looking at different news outlets to get the word out.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Vincent: Yeah.  I use to read a bunch of different blogs and websites, but when it came to being practical and useful, I relied on a certain interesting blogger/author.  His name is Chris Guillebeau and his book is called The $100 Start Up.  It’s primarily focused on business in general but there’s a lot great information an independent author can take away from it.  His website is: www.chrisguillebeau.com

(And I’m assuming you already know my other resource if you’re reading this on www.realanswersrealauthors.com)

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Vincent: Marketing and getting myself out there – hands down.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Vincent: For aspiring authors: WRITE THE BOOK!  I meet an aspiring author at every event I go to and they all have had a “book” in their head for some time.  The thing is that, it’s not really a book until it is out of your head.  Just write the book.  Again, just write the book.  After that, Jill got you covered. 😉

For new authors: Congratulations, on your new book!  Now let people know about it and try to have fun with the marketing side of things.  I find that having fun with it all makes it a lot easier.  I wish you all the best! 

Thank you for taking the time and reading about one of my favorite authors, Vincent Wolf.   You can contact Vincent through his site, Facebook and Twitter.

Website: http://llagetsdrawings.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/llagetsdrawings

Twitter: @LlagetsDrawings

 

 

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Win Charles: Author uses Art to cope with Cerebral Palsy

My name is Win Charles. In 1987 I was born in Aspen, CO where I continue to live. I am a self-taught artist and became interested in doing artwork as a way to cope with having cerebral palsy. My inspiration for my artwork is life in general as well as roses, orchids and the flora and fauna of the Bahamas.

At age 24 I decided to tell my story. Writing this autobiography gave me the opportunity to pay tribute to my family members who are passionate about life and have instilled this passion in me. My parents’ extraordinary support, encouragment, and pure love were my foundation as I navigated life, overcame obstacles, and achieved successes as a young woman with cerebral palsy. I have to pay full tribute to my mother, who died in August 2010. From her I learned to listen to my own voice as a guide to making life choices. She taught me to always expect the best from myself.

My hope is that this book will provide insight into the extraordinary
possibilities that those who live with disabilities have. I also hope that
those without disabilities– rather than putting a focus on our differences –
will come to understand what we all have in common. This book is for my mom, with love.

Win Charles photo

Win: I did my first book after losing my mom but the concept of that book came to me at age 18.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Win: ‘I, Win. The View From my Heels’ coming out in April.

Win Charles cover

RARA:  How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Win: Facebook and Google plus Twitter all social media Facebook has really helped me.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Win: Joanna Penn website the CreativePenn.com

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Win: My greatest challenge wasn’t actually self-publishing my but it was writing a full manuscript due to my disability. I had to use Apple’s silly speech dictation to write.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Win: Interact with your fans every day

 

 

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Interview with Library Buyer

I had the opportunity to participate in an author event in my hometown of Effingham, IL.  I thought this was a great time to do an interview with the buyer and get some feedback for my authors.  I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to get into the library system.

Q: I understand that there are different size library systems.    How do you adjust your approach for each one?

A: Since my experience within libraries has been with small and medium sized libraries, I will respond from that perspective.  Most of the buyers within these libraries are easy to locate and chat with.  A phone call and brief introduction (always respectful of the librarian’s time) may seem like a long shot, but when followed by an email linked to a way to purchase the book most people will take the time to at least check out the item.

Q: What is the best way to approach a library: personal contact, email,  letter, sample book in mail?

A: Personally, I’ve never turned away an author.  I have had some that were much too pushy, and I’ve made it a point not to purchase their titles.  I appreciate when an author takes the time to stop at the library and show me a copy of his/her work.  Email is welcome, but without a phone call or letter – I usually don’t follow up.  There simply isn’t enough time in my day.  I don’t know that I would invest in sending a sample book in the mail.  The expense of mailing would deplete any profits.

Q: What do libraries look for in a book before they accept into their system?

A: For our library, I look for books that reflect our community’s interests.   I also look for books that have been vetted by someone – whether it is a professional journal like Library Journal or Publishers Weekly or another author.  I also read reviews posted by readers at Amazon.com and GoodReads.

Q: Is there a more efficient way to have a larger reach in the system or is it best to approach one library at a time?  Authors might consider contacting Illinois Library Association or ILA to ask about being one of the Illinois Authors featured at the ILA conference.  There are also two library systems within Illinois.  SHARE and RAILS – both of these systems have annual conferences for their members and with the right connections and planning, an author might be able to be part of these events too.

Q: Is it best to donate to a library or is it okay to expect them to purchase a copy?

A: Personally, I like to purchase copies from authors, but I understand that some authors really want their work to be “in” a particular library – and there is the argument that unless a book is in the library, people won’t find it.  So I would be comfortable with either option.

Q: Do libraries always welcome book signings or not so much?

A: Our library welcomes book signings, but we sometimes struggle to get a good turnout for the author, and that can make for an uncomfortable feeling.  I really appreciate it when the author does as much as he/she can to help promote the event, too.  Using social media as well as putting out your own press release can go a long way in making sure people know the event is happening.  I always ask authors if they are comfortable presenting or teaching others to write or publish.  Not everyone is comfortable in this role, but being able to offer this additional program to the library may help sell your book signing.

Q: With the amount of books published each year, libraries have to be choosy.  I understand that a review from a journal would help get in the door.  What journals do libraries typically read and rate as a good source?

A: Library Journal, Publisher Weekly are both the gold standard.  Other resources that are good include:  GoodReads, Amazon.com, People Magazine

Q: How do libraries view self-published books vs books that are traditionally published?

A: With the tremendous variety of publishers and platforms available to authors, I know librarians are looking at all formats.  Self published books can raise “red flags”, but when the title is relevant to your community’s interests and well-edited, it can be a welcome addition to your collection.

Helen Matthes Library

http://www.effinghamlibrary.org/

Thanks for taking the time to read my interview with Johnna Schultz with the Helen Matthes Library.  Please follow my blog to receive more information on self-publishing and author interviews.

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Children Are Precious – Angel Violet to the Rescue

I am pleased to introduce Bonnie Snyder to our group of authors.  Bonnie has a background in counseling and coaching. Currently she is a life coach who, through her business, Diamond Pathways, helps people develop the tools to create a more balanced lifestyle. She often works with women striving to manage family, work and personal issues. In her book, Angel Violet’s Magic Wings, Bonnie has created a safe place where children and their caregivers can identify the patterns and beliefs that keep them stuck in unhappy, unhealthy situations; tap into their self-healing abilities; and move forward. Bonnie is based in Tampa, Florida.

With the New year upon us, this is the perfect time to create the space and energy for your heart’s desires. Step into “dreaming your dreams and bridging the gap” to live your dreams by drawing on your heart and Soul’s guidance: Trusting Your Dreams into Reality (telegathering) 

Contact Bonnie Snyder at www.AngelVioletsMagicWings.com.

Her book is available on Amazon: Tinyurl.com/AmazonAngelViolet

Bonnie Snyder

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Bonnie: I believe our Children Are Our Legacy for a Different and Better Planet. I had a deep desire to use my gifts in a way that allowed parents and children to cope in an often stressful and scary world.  I created a children’s book and parent guide to support both children and parents in being able to communicate their feelings while respecting others and yet preserving their own “sparkles” (gifts and strengths) in the process.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Bonnie: This is the first book I have written as a solo author and my first children’s book. I am a contributing author in an anthology titled Live Every Day Motivated, Successful and Happy.

Bonnie Snyder Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Bonnie: I am just beginning to market but the best results have come from using social media and my network. I reached out to everyone I know telling them about the book while it was in development and now since it has been published. I had “tester” families read the book and give me feedback. These were not all people I knew, so the families became ambassadors for the book.  Those families have shared the book with the schools their children attend thus expanding my circle of influence.  I am also connecting with blogs and organizations that are my target audience asking them to review the book or if I can be a guest author on a blog.  I have set up a small advisory board of my target market parents on a private Facebook group.  These women make suggestions of sites and organizations that they believe would be interested in the book. This is a win/win as the resources are also beneficial to them.  I talk to everyone about my book because you never know who may be interested or could connect me to group that might find my book beneficial.  Interest may be sparked when I least expect it.  I am connecting with other authors of children’s books and we are sharing and promoting the others’ books, as well.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Bonnie:  Yes, one of the most helpful books is Real Authors, Real Answers by Jill Mettendorf because the authors have tried the strategies they share.  I also like BookBaby.com, MIRA Digital Publishing, and Ebookhttp://ebookarchitects.com.  I found everyone to be very helpful at these three sites.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Bonnie: The digital part was the most challenging because the book is a fully illustrated color children’s book.  I wish I had known previously the process of what happens to the images when converted to digital and the nuances required for the different digital readers.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Bonnie:  It is important to understand the digital formats if you are publishing in that realm. Children’s books or books with a lot of illustrations are going to look different on each reader.  I found the best way for my digital products to show up the way they were designed was using ebooksarchitects.com so they could individualize the book to fit the Kindle and MOBI files as well as do a fixed layout for iBook. Trust your heart that what you are doing is important if you love doing it then share it.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Word on the Street with Gabriela Jurick

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Gabriela Jurick:

me7913a

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Gabriela:  I decided to publish my own story, because I have been through some bizarre situations.  Every so often someone would say to me “you should write a book”.  I’m happy to say that even though the obstacles that I’ve been through were not positive, the book shows that I still had faith and knew things could only get better.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Gabriela:  My first book is entitled “I’m Still Standing”.  Soon, I will have self-published “Deep in Thought”.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Gabriela:  I’ve ordered some extra books and left them at some restaurants and doctors’ offices just to get my name around.  I decided to get the first book published; the publisher is supposed to set up book signings, etc.  I’m supposed to do the rest.  However, the books sold in bookstores don’t leave much of a profit margin.  I changed my business cards to show that besides an author, I’m a motivational speaker.  I’ve contacted three places to hear my speech “Recovery from Depression”; to no avail.  They did not respond.  So far, the best seller is using friends you have on Facebook to get the word out.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Gabriela: Truly, I’ve followed Jill Mettendorf on her journey through publishing a book.  That was positively the most useful information I had gleaned.  It was actually like Jill did the work, and I tried to follow her footsteps.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Gabriela:  I thought it would be a difficult sell to self-publish; and it was.  Now that I know mirabooksmart.com can actually sell my book online, all I have to do is give out the link…it couldn’t be easier now.   

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Gabriela:   I would tell an aspiring author to constantly read your own work over and over again.  But not day after day.  Sometimes you need a break from reading the same thing over and over.  I’ve changed my words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, etc. many, many times.  Have someone else look at it when you’re almost done.  That person should be able to tell you if the story flows properly, or give you some ideas on what might need be changed.

AUTHOR BIO

Gabriela was born in New Jersey where she and her husband, George, raised three children.  Gabriela is a secretary for a community college in the health, physical education and dance department as well as the athletics department.  She, along with her family, continues to encourage others, explaining through their own experiences that when one is down, the only way to go is up.

BOOK AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore

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Word on the Street with Bob Megantz

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Bob Megantz:

IMG_0248

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Bob: I am a musician and audio engineer, and I have a great interest in tube guitar amplifiers.  I found no reliable, accurate information in published books or magazines on the topic.  In fact, I found lots of misinformation, so I wanted to produce a clear, correct, and concise resource for interested musicians and equipment designers.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Bob: Designing and Constructing Guitar Amplifiers. This is the only self-published book I have written.  Two other books I wrote (How to License Technology and Technology Management: Designing and Implementing Effective Licensing Programs) were published by Wiley.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Bob:  I currently sell directly from my Web site and through Ebay, and indirectly through several vendors and through the Amazon Advantage program.  Most of my books are sold through Amazon.  I advertise in two guitar-related magazines (Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar), and participate in several related forums.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Bob:  Several useful related resources are listed in the bibliography.  There is a great deal of useful information on this topic available on the Web.  If you are referring to resources useful in marketing my book, Amazon has been the most useful (and also takes the biggest cut).

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Bob:  Fulfillment.  While fulfillment services are available, they are expensive (and labor-intensive), so I have been handling fulfillment myself.  I make many trips to the PO.

 RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Bob:  Write about what you love.  Don’t worry about commerciality while writing.  I say this because writers will in all likelihood gain modest (at best) financial rewards.   Figure out for whom you are writing, and ways to contact those people.  If you want to sell books, promote and advertise. The world will not beat a path to your door.

AUTHOR BIO

I’ve been involved in music and electronics since the 60’s, when I electrified my ukulele.  My parents had a Magnavox record player, whose ceramic cartridge plugged into the amplifier via a RCA jack.  I bought a contact microphone from the local electronics store, attached it to my ax, plugged in to the Magnavox, and counted off “Memphis.”

That seemed to get my parents’ attention, so they bought me a Heathkit shortwave radio kit for Christmas, along with a Weller “pistol-grip” soldering iron.  I assembled the radio, attached the antenna, turned it on, and it started howling.  I couldn’t get it to work right until I resoldered every joint in the radio.

By this time we’d moved to Jersey, and I started buying my own equipment.  First up was a Lafayette amplifier, which, if I recall correctly, used two 6BQ5’s in its push-pull output stage.  I connected the amplifier to the 12” speaker in the console TV in my bedroom, and plugged my uke into the phono input.  I had no idea why it sounded so bassy…

I upgraded to electric guitar in ’67, when my folks bought me a used Fender Jazzmaster.  I joined a band with my friends, but I needed an amp, so I emptied my savings account and bought an Ampeg Gemini II at the local music store.  Luckily, it included the dolly, since I had to push it all the way home.

I took that rig to Cornell University, where I studied Electrical Engineering, including a couple of courses on electronic music taught by Robert Moog.  I also took every music class I could, and worked part time as an electronics technician at the Cornell Synchrotron.   My guitar never sounded quite right to me, so I started by changing the speaker in the amp, and then, in ’70, I sold the Jazzmaster and bought a Gibson ES-335, which I still play today.   The Ampeg went next, first for a Marshall Major, then a long string of other amps.

After graduation I headed out to Santa Barbara, where I worked for a couple of years testing integrated circuits for Burroughs.  I was still playing in bands, and I started building my own equipment, both amps and speaker systems.   I then moved to San Francisco, where I eventually ended up working at Dolby Laboratories as an audio engineer.   I learned much of what you will read in Chapter 1 at Dolby.

In the last decade or so I have been taking a more orderly and comprehensive approach to amplifier design.  I began, like most designers, by repairing and modifying various Fender, Ampeg, Marshall, and other designs.  Later, I began constructing new amplifiers, first using existing units, such as Fender Bassmen, as platforms, and then designing and constructing all electrical and mechanical parts of the amplifier.  Each amplifier was used in performances with various guitars, speakers, and effects systems.

This experience has provided the basis for the book you are about to read.

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

www.amazon.com

www.tactec.biz

 

 

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Word on the Street with PJ Cowan

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

My first author is PJ Cowan.   I chose PJ first for many reasons.   She is one of my longest standing clients to date.   An amazing Grandma who has made all her stories come to life for her grandchildren and great-grand children.  PJ has 33 titles published with us.  She also pays for these books to be printed and then gives them away to shelters so the children there can have something special to read and share.  That’s pretty cool!

Here we go.  Come on down, PJ.

PJ Cowan

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

PJ: I love writing; I have great-grandchildren I had never met, so I decided to write for them.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

PJ: PJ’s Bedtime stories, Corner Cupboard, The Giant Question, Giggle-Grump-Gurgle, I am-It,  What do you Feed an Imaginary Dragon, Michael O’Brien and The Magic Hat, The Adventures of Neddy and Teddy Fairy, Penelope Pilkington Had a Dream, Popcorn and Wild Nightmares…there are actually 23 more titles but for the sake of space…

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

PJ: I market through my web site which is directly connected to www.mirasmartshop.com.  My books are also listed for sale on Amazon.  My best results for sales has been getting out there, arranging book signings and meeting the folks who may be interested buying my books.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

PJ: “How To” books were pretty scarce back then. I got advice through a successful fellow author.  I started with www.mikemotz.com while looking for illustrators and found Mira Digital Publishing when I was ready to go to print

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

PJ: Finding a decent site.  When I first started out, the only self publishing sites were Vanity press and sites like Lulu.  Vanity press was a joke.  They wanted $10,000 to publish one book, and they retained the copyrights.  Lulu was better, but the printing was expensive and they retained the rights for a period of time.  Then, one day I answered a mailer from Mira Digital Publishing, and was, and five years later still am, thrilled with the results.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

PJ: That is no brainer. Find an up to date “How To” book and a reputable  self-publishing site.  One that will charge you a fair price for their services, advise and guide you through the process. One that will help protect your copyright, and give you a product you can be proud of.

Author Bio:   My writing is inspired by two things, Family and experience. My mother wrote poetry. After she died, a collection of poetry and two short stories were found in a notebook. I thought at the time it was a shame she had never been published.

I made up stories for my kids when they were little and my oldest son Mike encouraged me to write them down. After mom died, I decided that now was the time to do that.

I had great grandchildren whom I had not met, and decided to write for them. Thus, Pricilla Jean, PJ to my friends, began “writing them down.

Books available at: www.mirasmartshop.com and www.amazon.com.  Just a glimpse of some of the books available…

Backward-Billy-CoverBe-My-Friend-CoverOgres,-Fairies,-and-Butterfly-Wings-CoverGrandma's-Garden-Cover

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The Nitty Gritty on Press Releases

So now that my book will be launching very soon (August 1), I need to let everyone know about it.  How do I write the release?  Who is going to care about my little book?  Where do I send it?   Well, as it turns out – there are tons of places to send it…and for FREE!   Did I mention FREE!?!  I don’t know about you but that makes me happy.  I always stick to doing free first.  Make a few bucks and then look at investing it back into your business (your book).  I did quite a bit of research on press releases and found some good info and templates to help guide me.

WHAT?  A press release is an official statement of a news story intended for newspapers, journalists and other media.  The media uses this release and makes it known to the public.

WHO?  You – yes, you the author must do a press release.  You can also hire someone to do it and the cost could range from $100-500.  I think it is a good idea to have a professional review this for you.  Journalists will be turned off immediately if there are misspellings, etc. and it appears unprofessional.  At least have a professional editor take a glance.  Your printer usually has someone on staff or go to a local writing chapter.  There are ALWAYS editors there.

WHEN? It is best to distribute the release when the book is ready to launch and then periodically after that for more exposure.  Maybe re-write and try it again 2 months later.  Some would argue there is no good time of day but most of the research says that early in the week and early in the day. Don’t send at 8 am on weekdays – make it more like 9-10 am.  Your release will get lost in the email abyss if it is sent too early.   Don’t send over the weekend for obvious reasons.

HOW?  I discovered quite a few good samples and templates online.  There are 4 major parts of a release: 1) Headline, 2) Summary Statement, 3) Main Body, 4) Biographical Info.  I liked the simple layout of this template: Press-Release-Template.  Also search online for sample book press releases if you need to brainstorm and get ideas or motivation.

WHERE? Again, always start with free first but don’t think that quantity is better than quality.  No one wants to be a habitual spammer of releases.  Personally, I will send to all the free sites but then dig into local media and send to appropriate
sources and get the quality too.  This will take time and effort but will be worthwhile.  Tweak the release to fit the personality of different journalists, maybe a personal note as well wouldn’t hurt.   Let them know why the release is important to them – but only in 2-3 sentences (not paragraphs).  Plan to email this and put the release in the body.  Don’t attach a pdf.  Journalists will not open because of time and fear of a virus.  If you plan on faxing it then you need to put your floppy discs and Jane Fonda VHS tapes in the trash and join us in 2013.

Here is a list of places to start:

  1. Your website – FREE
  2. Local Newspapers/Radio channels – FREE
  3. PRLog.com – FREE
  4. Link to 50 other places to distribute release – FREE http://www.avangate.com/community/resources/article/press-release-distribution.htm
  5. PRWeb.com – NOT FREE (I did start an account to inquire and they have contacted me by phone and email since – good follow up.  Also heard they are good to work with)
  6. Mass Media Distribution – NOT FREE
  7. 24-7 Press Release – NOT FREE

WHY? Uh, so people know about your book and you sell more copies.  That’s pretty much it.

So in a nutshell….

DO’S

  1. Do have it edited or a professional help you.
  2. Do make it newsy – bring out the expert in you and be the source they need to talk to.
  3. Do send it out amongst all free release sites.  Also be specific and target certain journalists that will be prone to writing about your topic.  Tweak your press release to fit that journalist or publication.
  4. Do seek out newspaper/radio media – start with local media first.
  5. Do get to the point.  Keep the release brief and no longer than one page.
  6. Do follow a template to make sure your release is done correctly and you provide proper info.
  7. Do keep it in the 3rd person.
  8. Do try and try again.  Sending out releases is like going fishing – sometimes they bite and sometimes they don’t.

DON’T’S

  1. Don’t use crazy fonts.
  2. Don’t start release with headline in all caps/bold/underlined.  Capitalize the heading like you would a title for a book.
  3. Don’t send pdf attachment of the release.
  4. Don’t just send the release to any person you know with an email.

I hope that helps everyone with press releases.  It is not something you have to hire a big expensive PR firm to do.  It can easily be put together and be cost efficient.  It is an important step in self publishing your book and letting the public know.

Check out my previous blogs on prelaunch marketing, cover/manuscript setup and working with a printer.  If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

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