Dramaquill's All Things Writing

October 12, 2011

Getting ebook reviews

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Every author wants feedback, but getting book reviews can be time consuming and challenging. 

Here’s where I think that having an ebook provides a real advantage.

According to statistics, over two billion people use the internet on a regular basis.  That’s two billion potential customers for your ebook and the potential for tons of feedback.

So how do you go about getting the word out to reviewers?

Well, in my case, I submitted my book to an actual publisher (not a vanity press) so that I’d have the clout of my publishing company to help publicize my book.  My publisher submits all their books to many different review sites so they’ve already done a big chunk of the work for me.

But don’t despair if you did decide to self publish.  You can google “ebook reviewers” and get lots of results from blogs (where the owner has already compiled lists for you) to other sites that list ebook review sites.  Here are a few to get you started:

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/ebook-reviewers.html

http://www.tinahunter.ca/links/ebook-reviewers/

http://www.twilighttimes.com/practical_tips4.html  (scroll down the page to find reviewers)

Getting reviews not only hooks potential new customers into buying your ebook but having numerous reviews also means that your ebook’s title will show up with more results with search engines. 

My suspense novel has been reviewed on amazon.com, the Pen and Muse, Coffee Time Romance and most recently on Pulist http://www.pulist.net/when-love-wont-die.html

It may take some time but keep contacting reviewers online.  All it costs is a free download of your ebook.  And don’t forget to encourage everyone who’s read your book to go and post a review wherever it’s available.

Don’t be discouraged if you submit to review sites and don’t get a review.  Just make sure you submit.

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September 20, 2011

You’ve written a play…now what?

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I love my job!  One of my responsibilities is to provide my studio’s drama department with original play scripts for each class. 

For some folks that sounds like a daunting task but I love it!

This semester I’m working on a circus mini musical for the 6-9 yr. olds, a modern day Ms. Scrooge play for the 10-16 yr. olds and a full-length pirate musical, complete with songs and choreography for the 9-18 yr. old class.

I’m lucky!  I know exactly what’s going to happen once I finish my plays.

Each class will begin to work on becoming their characters, blocking and physical movement, memorizing lines, learning songs and choreography and working together on the project. 

I said I was lucky.  Why?  Because I get to be there to watch it all unfold.  I can see how things work that I’ve written and tweak anything that doesn’t seem to be working. 

My writing will come to life right before my very eyes.

Now I realize that I’m very lucky to have access to these groups of kids and teens who are more than willing to act out whatever scripts I bring to class.

Many (or maybe even most) playwrights don’t have instant access to a production like I do, but there are ways to get productions of your scripts.

* Contact local amateur theatre groups/troupes and ask if they are willing to read your script

* Enter contests where the prize is a staged reading or a production (beware: some contests  
   have entry fees.  You have to decide if the fee is worth it for the potential prize)

* Find a local writing group and/or make other connections that may lead to a production

* Contact schools, drama clubs or other groups that may entertain the idea of putting on a
   show

* Organize your own production (more on that later).

For me, getting my plays published means I can reach a wider audience and perhaps won’t have to do ALL of the marketing myself to get my plays out there..but…productions, whether amateur or professional are what it’s all about in the end.

“The Play’s the Thing” 
       Shakespeare

September 14, 2011

Download-file.net SCAM SITE update

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Just an update to my previous post on this site that appears to be illegally offering content for free download.

Several writers have gone to the site and found that their books were indeed posted without their permission.  Many contacted their publishers and also contacted the site.

Some members of my critique group and also some from my publisher decided to search everything from big name authors to complete jibberish and guess what?  Yep – everything and anything searched came back with results.

So fear not, fellow writers.  Although the site makes it appear that your books have been stolen, it’s unlikely that the site has any legitimate content whatsoever.

But here’s the real warning…

In order to download content, one must join the site and pay the introductory trial fee of $4.99.  That means divulging credit card info. 

DON’T DO IT!

I contacted Angela Hoy of writersweekly.com earlier this week and her thoughts were that perhaps the download links are viruses.  So, if you pay to join the trial membership and then click on one of the downloads to see if it’s really your book, you could end up inviting a virus into your computer.

The beauty of the internet is that we are all connected and getting information out is relatively easy and extremely quick.

As far as download-file.net is concerned…DANGER WIL ROBINSON!

September 9, 2011

Writers Beware: Someone may be stealing your book right now!

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I’ve made it a habit to google myself and my book title monthly.  Usually I’m pleasantly surprised at the new sites that have picked up my book and offered it for sale in their online stores or new reviews from new readers. 

That wasn’t the case this month.

In fact, I found illegal copies of my book in numerous digital formats all offered for download at the following site:

http://download-file.net

They DO NOT have permission to offer my book for download, free or otherwise.

They DID NOT contact my publisher or myself.

They ARE STEALING from me and from my publisher.

My editor contacted them and so did I.  I got back a bogus link to click that apparently was the tracking page to this incident.  It was given a fancy incident number and everything.  But the page doesn’t exist.

I found someone else who’s had the same problem.  They also have tried numerous ways to contact the site owners but never get any response.

Isn’t it difficult enough for new writers to make it in this biz without the unscrupulous thieves who choose to steal from someone else in order to make money.

How do they make money?

If you want to download anything from their site, you pay $4.99 for a one month trial membership.  Otherwise, if you’re a non-paid member, you can’t download anything.

Writers Beward:  Download-file.net may be stealing a copy of your book right now!

August 7, 2011

Great blogs for writers of Suspense

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Well, it’s now August and officially, my holiday time is over.  I vowed that I would not engage in any work-related activities in July, which included checking work email accounts, blogging and, GASP, working on my next two books.

But I had to do it!

My creative side got more than its share of time this past few months.  I wrote three new kids’ plays (and watched them morph into productions), researched and wrote material for both of my new books and did a lot of work marketing myself and my first novel.

I was tapped out creatively.

Now that I’m re-energized and ready to get back on the creative band wagon again, I decided that my first post back would be to share some blog links for those of you who also write (and read) suspense.  It’s always a great idea to check out what other writers blog about, especially those in your genre.

So here goes…

http://vanessa-morgan.blogspot.com/

http://suspensebyanne.blogspot.com/

http://keepmeinsuspense.blogspot.com/

http://www.womenofmystery.net/2011/07/top-suspense-group-blog.html

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/top-suspense/

http://harlequinblog.com/2011/05/tips-and-tricks-for-writing-romantic-suspense/

http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/blog-interview-no-54-with-suspense-author-marla-madison/

http://www.danamarton.com/

http://community.eharlequin.com/content/harlequin-romantic-suspense-author-blog

http://jarekkubicki.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/suspense-magazine/

and finally, here’s a HUGE list of suspense blogs from Networkedblogs.com…

http://www.networkedblogs.com/topic/Suspense/

Enjoy

June 14, 2011

Inspiration can come from anywhere

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My mind is always going at warp speed.  I can be working on one project and suddenly, bam, another idea pops into my head.  I’ve never been one of those writers who struggle to come up with the next idea.

I’m lucky – and I’m probably in the minority.  But, it got me to thinking one day.  Why is it so easy for some writers to become inspired with a new project and so difficult for others?

I don’t know about other writers but I think, for me, it’s being aware of the details of my surroundings.  I’ll give you some examples…

I have pets – dogs.  I’ve used their antics to craft children’s poetry, stories and plays. 

I own a performing arts studio where I’m surrounded by students from age 3 to senior citizens. Working with such a diverse group of individuals really gives me insight into what interests and entertains the different age groups as well as great fodder for traits for my characters.

I live in a city of approximately 110,000.  There are so many wonderful places to just go and people watch.  My handy notebooks are filled with physical descriptions, mannerisms, and expressions.  It’s also very picturesque in my corner of the world and on the advice of a mentor, I decided to set my suspense novels in different locations near where I live.

Do you have kids?  Watch what makes them laugh…cry…angry.  What keeps them interested? 

Many writers get inspiration from the daily news headlines.  Current issues can provide inspiration for articles and different slants on hot topics.  Crime stories can jump start a mystery or thriller.

We all have a myriad of people pass through our lives on a regular basis.  They all have a lot to offer us if we take the time to look for something about them, or in their lives, that can jumpstart an idea.

Many writers enjoy online ezines, blogs and newsletters.  Often, ezines and newsletters will send a writing prompt.  Try freewriting the next time you read one and see where it takes you.

An online friend of mine exhibited a really unique way of showing inspiration can come from anywhere.  Recently, her neighborhood was hit with a tornado.  She not only used her experiences, and the experiences of those around her, as great material for her blog, but also to inspire her creative writing.  Now that’s someone definitely making lemonade, or in this case inspiration, out of a terrible situation.

Look around! 

Observe!

Record!

Inspiration truly can come from anywhere, anytime and from anyone.  Be open to inspiration.

June 7, 2011

E-book format: Does this mean self-published? NO!

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I’ve had this topic on my mind for a while now as I continue to see and hear comments that if it’s an e-book, it was self-published.

The e-book format does lend itself to self-publishing, for obvious reasons:

  • cheaper to reproduce than print books
  • quicker turnaround time
  • digital books are becoming more popular
  • invention of the e-reader
  • portability (can carry an entire library of books with you in one small device)

But I’m frustrated that the general assumption is that if one has published an e-book, then it must be self-published.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

More and more new publishers (as well as some of the big houses) are developing and offering e-books.  For first-time authors trying to break into the business, this is great news.  Because an e-book doesn’t cost as much to reproduce as a print book, e-publishers may be more willing to contract a new writer who doesn’t yet have agent representation.  That doesn’t mean your manuscript can be less than amazing.  E-publishers offering contracts are going to be just as diligent about publishing books that have engaging characters, page-turning plots and brilliant writing.  Many e-publishers also do publish books that have generated a decent amount of sales into print versions.

Here are some e-pubs who offer contracts, editing, cover designs, ISBNs, royalties and the chance to be seen and read by the millions of people already enjoying downloading books onto their Kindle or iPad rather than lugging around yet another paperback in their purse or backpack…

http://www.redrosepublishing.com

http://www.echelonpress.com/

http://www.literaryroad.com/index.php

http://museituppublishing.com/

http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/about.html

http://www.synergebooks.com/aboutus.html

http://whiskeycreekpress.com/submissions.shtml

http://lionhearted.com/index.html

This list is just a sampling of the different e-book publishers actively pursuing manuscripts at the current time. 

As with any submission, make sure to do your research on any publisher you choose to target before sending off your query and your manuscript.  Follow any submission guidelines to the letter.  Check out the types of books published to see if what you have written fits into the publisher’s catalogue and style.

E-books are gaining popularity and e-publishers are an excellent way to break into the traditional publishing business.

May 31, 2011

Bookdaily.com

Arts Blogs - Blog Top Sites Bookmark and Share BookDaily.com is pleased to announce that Jacqueline McMahon will be featured on the popular book sampling site – joining the ranks of the most famous authors in the world. As a featured author, the first chapters of McMahon’s books are now available to thousands of readers to sample – free of charge. At BookDaily, book fans can browse, search and read first chapters from a selection of more than 80,000 titles. McMahon is currently promoting When Love Won’t Die, a suspense novel about what can happen when your past catches up with you.Visit McMahon’s  website at https://dramaquill.wordpress.com and their BookDaily page as well http://www.bookdaily.com/userprofile/authorprofile Like many other authors, McMahon is making use of the quick and easy tools BookDaily offers for writers to market their books. Launched in May 2009, BookDaily has rapidly become the leading source of book samples by email. More than 10 million sample chapters have been distributed through BookDaily.com and through the site’s email subscriptions.  The site is a division of ArcaMax Publishing, the leader in consumer news and entertainment by email. Jacqueline McMahon  jacqueline@tbaytel.net

May 30, 2011

How do you handle negative feedback?

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I’ve always been a firm believer in getting constructive criticism on my work. I belong to a critique group and have nothing but the utmost respect for the other members. I know that they spend a great deal of time reading what I submit for critique. They see things not only through the eyes of other writers but as readers as well.

As a writer, I need to write what I’m passionate about but I also need to write for my readers. If nobody enjoys reading my work, then I’m no longer effective as a writer. I don’t want my writing to be self-indulgent.

But the very nature of asking for feedback means that people are going to tell me what they think. That’s right – what THEY think. Not what I want them to think. Sometimes, they don’t like what they read.

So how do I handle negative criticisms?

First of all, they have to be constructive. A comment like “This chapter sucks” is neither constructive nor helpful. But comment like “This chapter had a lot of description and not much action and I found that it didn’t hold my interest” give me something to think about.

When I get negative feedback, I have a three-fold plan for how I deal with it:

DIGEST

SIMMER

DECIDE

Upon initial reading, it’s often hard to see past the criticism. Instead of having an immediate reaction, I try to just read through everything to get an idea of what the reader thought. Then, I put the critique away so that I can digest everything that’s been said.

Next, I leave the writing to simmer for a few days. Usually, I get antsy to get working on it again and that’s my meter for how long to let it simmer.

Finally, I go back and read every comment, one at a time, and decide whether or not I agree with what has been said. If I do feel inclined to try the critiquer’s suggestion, then I do some rewriting and see what happens. If the changes truly do make it read better, then I’m grateful for the suggestion. If not, sometimes I let it simmer some more. If I strongly disagree and don’t feel that the comment warrants any rewriting, then I leave my original words.

It’s difficult to receive feedback, especially when it’s not positive but if it’s constructive, then it warrants my attention.

I have had what I’ll refer to as “mean” critiques (not from my current group who I’ve been with for many years now). It’s hard not to let those comments bring you down and question your writing but I’ve come to the conclusion that when someone just rips your work apart without a valid reason or explanation, then I need to just toss that aside and instead, rely on the comments that can and do make my writing better.

How do you handle negative criticisms?

May 26, 2011

When Love Won’t Die

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Just found a new site that’s selling my ebook.  Thanks for Red Rose Publishing for continuing to help promote their authors and books online. 

When Love Won’t Die.

May 16, 2011

What is it that makes a really great writer great?

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Ever since I embarked on my writing  journey, I’ve read everything I could get my hands on where writing is concerned.

  •  Articles on show, don’t tell. 
  • Interviews with agents and editors on what works when submitting and what turns them off immediately. 
  • Discussions on POV

I’ve also been an active participant in two online critique groups, as well as joining writers’ organizations and attending writing conferences.

But I still have to wonder:  What is it that makes a really great writer great?

Here are a few things I think help contribute to a writer’s greatness:

  • unique voice
  • consistency in the writing
  • strong, solid plots
  • characters that behave like real people (readers can relate to them)
  • stories that surprise and entertain us
  • descriptive writing that immediately paints a vivid visual

Above all, however, I think it goes deeper than the ability to craft an amazing story. 

To me, a great writer is passionate about the entire process.  These aren’t just words on a page.  It’s time invested in painstakingly scupting every detail until it’s the absolute best writing it can be.  A great writer writes what stirs them up – stories they have to tell.

Don’t write to market trends.

Don’t settle for anything less than your best writing…ever.

Don’t sub pieces out without doing your homework on the publishers you’ve chosen.

But what is the biggest thing that makes a really great writer great?

NEVER GIVE UP!

May 10, 2011

E-books vs. Print – the debate continues

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The world of modern technology moves faster and faster with each passing day.  We already know that whatever new gadget or program we purchase, it’ll probably be obsolete by the time we get it home as developers work on the next generation.  There’s always something faster and better just around the corner.

As writers, we are faced with new technology when seeking publication of our manuscripts.  There’s the traditional print book, the POD (print on demand), books on CD Rom and e-books. 

Many see the surge of popularity toward the e-book as the downfall of the printed hard copy, but as an author whose first novel has come out in e-book format, to be followed by print, I can attest that a large majority of followers still prefer having an actual book in their hand, something they can display on their bookshelves.

E-books have been around a lot longer than one might think.  According to Wikipedia, the earliest e-book, developed for just a select few, was in 1971.  The nineties saw the addition of books on floppy disk and CD Rom.  By the mid ninetees, ebooks appeared online and at the turn of the century, large publishers, like Random House, began selling this digital version as well.

So are e-books going to replace the paper version anytime soon?  This author doesn’t think so.

What are the advantages of buying e-books?

  • often cheaper
  • an e-book reader can hold an entire library
  • one can carry their library with them, all inside a device smaller than many print books
  • books can be downloaded and read instantly (no waiting to order)
  • e-books can be downloaded and read on your computer (no need to buy a device)

The e-book reader and this digital technology hasn’t been embraced by everyone.  It’s not likely that schools will be able to afford to order e-book readers for all kids enrolled, so the paper version of books will likely line library shelves for quite some time.

Many individuals do not want to have yet another gadget, or are not willing to learn new technology and feel that print books are a simpler way to get their reading done.  Many say that holding a book in their hand is still a feeling they enjoy.

But for authors trying to break into the publishing world, there are many e-publishers offering traditional contracts who might just be a little more willing to take a chance on a new author because creating an e-book doesn’t cost as much as a print run.

Does this mean your writing doesn’t have to live up to its highest standards?

Absolutely not!

Are e-books all self published?

NO – this is a myth that many less informed individuals subscribe to, thus impeding their switch to the digital format.

If you do decide to purchase an e-reading device, there are several out there to choose from including Amazon’s Kindle, the Kobo, the Sony e-reader and my favorite, the iPad, which is a tablet computer, not just an e-reader.

http://www.amazon.com/Kindle

http://www.kobobooks.com

http://ebookstore.sony.com/reader/

http://www.apple.com/iPad

March 22, 2011

Finding your author’s voice

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I belong to a wonderful online critique group.  From time to time, our group engages in workshops as a way to share information, ask and answer questions, and apply what we’ve learned to our writing.

Recently, thanks to one member’s suggestion, we decided to embark on a week-long discovery of author’s voice.  What is it?  How do you find it?

At first, because none of us felt that we were experts on this subject, we wondered if we would be able to teach ourselves anything of value.  As it turned out, we all discovered ways to find our unique voice and make our writing stand out as our own.

What is your voice?

The easiest way for me to explain it is this:  you write like you speak.

If I call someone I know on the phone and start talking to them, they immediately know it’s me.  If I’m having lunch with friends, I’m certain that if you asked them, they would be able to tell you things about the way I communicate that makes me different from each of them.

We all have our own unique personality and if we can find a way to bring that out in everything we write, then we are well on our way to constructing our own unique voice.

In our workshop, we first gathered bits of writing from different authors and discussed what made each example’s own voice unqiue.  For some, it was the way the author used description.  For others, it was the way the POV shaped characters that jumped off the page as real, three dimensional beings. 

We also discovered that finding the right genre definitely contributed to stronger voice.  If you’re not comfortable writing YA romance novels, perhaps it’s because your unique voice isn’t a good match to that genre.  Maybe you’re more suited to adult suspense or MG adventure.

So how do you know which genre(s) to try?

Read…read…read.

Read authors you love but also try new ones.  Try genres you haven’t read before.  You need to find a real connection to what excites you as a reader so that you can translate that into your author’s voice as a writer.

With so much competition to find a publisher and/or a literary agent, writers must present their absolute best writing every time they submit.  If you feel you’ve done that and you’re still getting rejection after rejection, perhaps you haven’t quite nailed your author’s voice yet.  Many blogs and online articles say that a great portion of their rejections do in fact stem from writing that just doesn’t have a stand-out voice.

Once we had discussed the examples of other writers, members of our group look at their own writing, picking something that they felt lacked that “unique” quality and rewriting it with voice in mind.  In was amazing to see the new results.  Writing that was fine became writing that jumped off the page.  Characters that were bland embodied new life.  Everyone’s writing definitely improved.

We also made some self-discoveries along the way.  Some of us really figured out our ideal genre.  Others unveiled new ways to use POV as a way to develop a more unique voice.   We also found situations where expanding the original brought more voice into it and other situations where cutting certain words and phrases actually brought the voice out better.

We all learned how to make our characters’ voices better and get “inside their heads” on a deeper level.

No one can give you a list of magic steps that will result in finding your own author’s voice but through reading, writing, comparing and learning from others, you will become more aware of how and what you write.

March 16, 2011

Author interviews & online press releases

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Another great way to promote your book is to promote yourself as an author.  There are always ezines and websites looking to interview new authors.  Link these pages to your Facebook page or your website to actively drive more possible readers in the direction of your book(s).

Also, take advantage of FREE press releases online to announce your new book(s) or any events, like speaking engagements, booksignings etc.

http://www.sellingbooks.com/jacqueline-mcmahon-when-love-wont-die
by Cathy B. Stucker

http://www.writersmanual.com/show.php?id=2&uid=1018
sister site to Writers Gazette and eBooksCafe

http://www.wireservice.ca/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=3871

http://yewalus.blogspot.com/2011/02/books-that-are-out-there-romantic.html

Are you doing everything you can to promote yourself and your books?

March 14, 2011

Marketing and Promoting Your Book

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Today’s first-time authors may be in for quite a shock when they have to face the reality that much of the marketing and promoting of their first book is their responsibility.  With small and medium publishing houses, there just isn’t the money or the time for the publisher to do a big campaign to promote every new author.  Time and resources just won’t allow it.  Even authors published with big houses can no longer rely on the publisher to do all the promoting.  Much of it is left up to the author.  And if you think that means just new authors, think again.  Mary Higgins Clark uses online resources for contests and promotion, as do most of the other big literary players.

Developing a web presence is definitely key.  Join social networks – at least Facebook and Twitter.  Follow other writers and genre groups.  Have a page for your book and a separate page for yourself. 

Look for websites, ezines and magazines that are looking to inverview authors and contact them.

Develop your own ezine, where you can provide useful content and in exchange, receive a group of subscribers who are not only interested in your content but also, your books.

Make sure your books are in brick and mortar stores as well as all the big sites online.

Contact book stores locally, and within a reasonable distance from where you live, and offer to do readings, signings, or speak to writing groups about your experiences.

Contact your local colleges, high schools and universities and offer to do a guest lecture.

Join local writers’ groups and make local contacts.

Join local business networks – your writing business definitely qualifies you as an entrepreneur.

Find activities within your community and join something.  Not only will you have fun doing this activity, but you’ll be making contacts who may be interested in reading your book.

Use any and all means of FREE promotion online and off.

Hold a contest – be creative.  Give away copies of your book.

Look outside the box for other creative ways to entice potential readers/buyers.

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