Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Six: What Comes Next?


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You worked hard on your manuscript. It has been submitted to the publisher. If you are self-publishing, it generally takes two to three weeks to publish. Your book is first submitted to a check-in book coordinator. Once the content of your manuscript is approved (usually 24 to 48 hours), it goes into the design stage. This is when your front and back covers are designed and the interior text as well. This stage can last up until you finish all corrections or revisions of your final manuscript. Once you have made corrections and revisions (if any), you will approve the final layouts of the covers and text. Your book then goes into the production stage, whereby it is ready for the printers. This stage takes anywhere from a week to two weeks usually. Once completed, you will be sent a complimentary copy or copies of your newly published book. This is your time to start promoting your book. We have covered many of the marketing strategies in the previous week. There are some suggestions that you might find effective doing this time:

  1. Promote your new book through word of mouth to acquaintance, friends and family members. They are most familiar with your written work and writing skills.
  2. Network an interest to readers through your blog, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc) or email.
  3. Set up a time at a local book store to introduce yourself as a new author. You can usually email to set up a time and date.
  4. Book signings are important as it introduces you as a new writer/author to the community. Set up a time and date through advertising and/or a local newspaper – it will also promote book sales.
  5. Advertise your new book in the local newspaper. You can contact the newspaper for costs. Usually, week-long ads will be more costly. It may be more cost-effective to set up once monthly or weekends only.
  6. Send an article about yourself and writing experience with a photo to the local newspaper. This could be less costly than advertising your book.
  7. Look at local organizations and clubs for times to speak about your book. This gives an outlet to be recognized in your community as a new writer/author.
  8. Explore radio stations to set up an interview talking about your book. Be adamant and set up a time and date.
  9. Set up an author’s website with your new book. You can add additional books as well. Ask the publisher if they have this marketing service.
  10. Marketing is costly, but you may want to ask the publisher about online campaign ads.
  11. Find other local writers and authors in the area by joining a writers’ club. They meet monthly and offer advice to new writers and authors. In addition, you get to meet others that share your same passion of writing.
  12. If you received a marketing kit from the publisher, send out postcards to persons that might be interested in your new book.

As always, do your homework beforehand. I like to research online before starting a project. Next week, I will be discussing some differences between independent publishing and traditional publishing. Seems like a broken record, but it is valuable to you as a new writer and author.

No One Said Life Was Easy


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I’m sitting at the computer and not sure what to write. It has been an eventful week already. I got a good report from my neurologist on Tuesday.  The shakiness and weakness I’ve been feeling was not due to my new rituxan infusions; it was more viral in nature, according to my doctor. Rituxan is used to treat certain chronic auto immune disorders and blood disorders/cancers, like leukemia and Non-Hodkins Lymphoma.

I have been falling lately (knees buckle) and getting dizzy while standing up for the past few weeks. I’ve also been bedridden this past week. I thought it was a reaction to my previous infusion in May, but the doctor had a difference in opinion. Although my neurologist is a very good doctor and now Director of Neurology, I still feel some of this illness was caused by the new infusions. There could have been a virus ‘bug’ as well.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that one has to be their best advocate. The individual knows his or her body best. I knew that I felt different after infusions. The doctor advised I was getting standard medication in appropriate increments, both in quantity and frequency. Yet, it is unlikely I will be going off rituxan anytime soon or in the near future.

“No one said life was easy.” This is a true statement. Life gets tough sometimes; we just need to roll with the punches. At times, there is discouragement; even I get discouraged, but find myself bouncing back. I’m not ready to leave this earth yet. I’m still believing that one day there will be a possible cure for my autoimmune disease and cancer. You have to believe in yourself with God’s help and wisdom to get through the tough times.

The other thing I realize is that one has to stop playing the victim role. A perfect example is myself. I don’t want to identify with my disease, rather it is something I can overcome someday. The important concept is to simply enjoy life – even as it comes. There will be rocky roads and bumps along the way with twists and turns. However, one can overcome them with determination.

The mind is a powerful weapon. I have learned the brain and the mind are two different things (Dr. Caroline Leaf). The brain is a physical vortex, which coordinates speech, mobility, language and other various functions within our body, whereas the mind is what one perceives. Physical and emotional healing can come through the mind. I see myself walking normally one day without assistance or support, strength in my muscles and nerves are healed.

The most important thing is to not get down when life doesn’t always go your way. God is in control. He will lead us out of this ‘valley’ of discouragement and conflict. Don’t listen to others that criticize or belittle you. Always follow your heart and don’t give up your dreams for anyone or anything. Take a breather and do something for yourself today – take a walk in a pretty setting, go to the park, watch a new movie at the theater, get a haircut or new hairstyle or enjoy watching the sunset. In summary, be well and happy, my friends.





Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Five: Marketing Strategies


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Whether it took weeks, months or even years to publish that long-awaited book, you spent long hours writing at the computer and sleepless nights to finish your book. Your days and time were filled with writing, proofreading, revising and correcting the final manuscript before submission to the publisher. What comes next? It usually takes two to three weeks to publish, depending on the publisher. This is a good time for you to look at marketing strategies to advertise your book(s). If you are well ahead of the game, you may have already planned a marketing strategy or a few before your book is published. If you are a sharp-shooter, you know the complexity of marketing strategies and planning beforehand.

Social media and online websites help, but more is needed. Blogging is also an excellent way to network and connect to the outside world. A good place to start is by word of mouth. Family members and friends will be interested, simply as they are connected to you. It is a good idea to give a few books away as gifts. This gives others an incentive to find interest in your book(s); it gives them a free invitation. If you are new to the publishing world and unfamiliar with marketing strategies, there are a variety of routes you can take. My suggestion is to ask the publisher if they offer a marketing service. If they do, they can advise which package best fits your needs. There are some other suggestions:

  1. There is great importance in connecting to the community and local residents. Advertising through book signings and sales at local book stores. This can include speaking at groups or organizations about your book(s). The more you get out in your community, the more you are recognized. Hence, the more readers you attain to increase book sales, your main focus at this point.
  2. Speaking at radio stations about your book(s). A drawback is that some people feel uncomfortable speaking publicly. A confident speaker will sell more than the shy speaker lacking in enthusiasm and articulation.
  3. Look at online campaign ads. Amazon and Ingram offer website ads. Ask your publisher if they have that particular marketing service. They are familiar with the marketing procedures of contacting various websites, not known to the general public.
  4. Place an ad in a local flyer or newspaper. The cost will depend on how much space you want. Ask for weekly or monthly discounts. Photos of the writer/author and book(s) are recommended.
  5. Send an article to the local newspaper about yourself, your writing experience and publications. Send a photo of yourself with the article. This can be done inexpensively.
  6. Look at magazine ads to advertise your book(s). You can buy space in a Writers’ Magazine. The cost usually depends on whether you select a full page or half a page. This includes the writer’s biography and publications.
  7. There are annual book fairs. Ask your publisher if they have a list of book fairs around the country. The Miami Book Fair in the springtime offers an opportunity for new or unknown writers/authors to display their books on their racks.
  8. There are social media packages available; however, you can advertise for free on most social media websites, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  9. If you already have an author’s website, you can connect your blog to the website. Also included is information about the author, excerpts from the book(s) and price of each book. Ask your publisher if they can assist you with this marketing service.
  10. Some publishers may offer an international package, whereby your book is placed on their racks during their annual book fairs. There are drawbacks, however. If you are unable to travel, you have no way to monitor sales unless your book consultant monitors it for you. In addition, it is quite costly to advertise internationally.
  11. There are online videos of authors talking about their book(s). This gives the author a chance to market and advertise. Ask your publisher if they offer this marketing service.
  12. Media, meaning public television. This is very expensive and above most of writers/authors’ salaries. Unless you are a well-established or famous writer, this is probably the last alternative. Most media advertising starts at several thousand up and based on time (minutes or seconds).

Five years ago, I had no idea of marketing strategies, other than advertising online. I admit that writing was an easy process for me; yet, marketing was another thing. I had no concept of a marketing strategy to advertise my books. As I became more familiar with the publishing world, I gathered information on different marketing strategies and advertising. I can’t say one is better over the other. They are all good avenues to pursue. You may explore some marketing strategies before exploring others.

An important concept is to be recognized as an accomplished writer in your community. Book sales will increase as you gather more experience and knowledge. The old saying, “it is not what you know, but who you know” has some truth to it. You not only learn a valuable skill, you might find writing as a successful career. There are different fields of writing: screenwriting, free-lance, creative, poetic, literature, educational, self-help, general and research. The list goes on and on. The most important concept is to enjoy the writing process along the way and be happy of your accomplishments.


Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Four: Finalizing Your Draft


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This is one of the most important steps in the writing process. This  is your final draft of the manuscript. During this step, the second or third pair of eyes become essential. If self-publishing, you want a squeaky clean manuscript, free of errors. Once finalized, it will not be corrected without costs. Note – some publishers will allow up to 25 to 50 free corrections before publishing. However, this doesn’t include publisher errors (e.g., printing). Please see the publisher’s guidelines for submission of your final draft.

Before you submit your manuscript to the publisher, you will select what type package you want (hardcover, softcover or both, e-book, etc). Hardcover includes the bound cover with dust jackets, whereas softcover is the paperback. E-books are available online to be downloaded. If you have written a book before and using the same publisher, ask about discounts. Some publishers will allow up to half off for a second book or additional books. The check-in coordinator will discuss with you about any questions you might have. In this stage, you will select what type genre, age range (audience) or package (condensed or dust jackets, also called flaps for hardcover).

Publishing multiple books in a five-year period, I find there are some helpful hints not necessarily known to the general public:

  1. Once the draft is finished, thoroughly review your draft before submission. This includes any typos, spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Remember, Spellcheck and other software programs will not catch 100% of the errors.
  2. I suggest having at least one reader read your final draft before submission. I found in my last book, out of 424 pages, I still had three errors when published. A second or third person can catch errors that the writer doesn’t catch.
  3. If self-editing, read through the manuscript yourself and correct errors. You may need to revise or even rewrite some parts that don’t flow well within the manuscript.
  4. If professionally editing, then allow up to two months to receive final draft back. There will be suggestions and/or corrections to make. Note – editing is not free nor cheap and is based on how many pages (or words) the manuscript contains.
  5. Once you make corrections and satisfied with the final draft, combine chapters into one document. Note – most publishers will not accept separate chapters. Rather, they want the total manuscript. Even if they do allow, I find it causes more confusion and more work to go back to correct.
  6. If self-publishing, the writer will be given one chance to look over the final draft from the publisher before approval. Once approved by you, the final draft is submitted for publication. Note – once you send the final approval, the manuscript goes into the publishing stage. No changes can be made afterwards, unless you are willing to pay for corrections.
  7. Most publishers prefer that the writer submit the manuscript by email. In some cases, it can be mailed or faxed, but that is difficult, especially with a lengthy manuscript. Please see the publisher’s guidelines for submission of your manuscript.
  8. It usually takes up to two or three weeks to publish. The writer will receive a free complimentary copy of the book. If you selected both hardcover and softcover, you will receive a copy of both. Please look over the book and make sure no publisher errors were made (misprints, blurring or spacing errors, etc). It is best to correct when the printing is fresh rather than go back later.
  9. The writer will be given a chance to order a maximum number of free copies once published; only shipping charges are applied. My publisher allows 5 hardcover and 10 softcover books. Publishers may vary in the number of free copies allowed; please check with your publisher for details.

Once your book is published, congratulations, you have now become a new author. Enjoy the accomplishment of a finished product. More importantly, enjoy the writing process. Writing was an adventure that started out as self-therapy for closure to painful events in my past. The first time I published, I was fearful, but over the years, I became more confident in my writing. Now, I love the writing process in publishing books for readers to enjoy.

Next week, I will discuss marketing strategies. Going into publishing five years ago, I was blind about marketing. I struggled as an unknown author. It is just as important to have a marketing strategy and a plan to advertise your book(s). Marketing is expensive and there are some ways to advertise your book(s) without costing an arm and a leg. I find social media and networking works some, but it takes more effort. The writer has to get out there to the public to be recognized.

Tune in to my blog weekly. If you are a new writer and/or author yourself or know someone who is, please refer them to my blog. In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day to all veterans and everyone.









Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Three: Preparation of the Initial Draft of Your Manuscript


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I stand in correction about copyright law (thanks Ray) from the discussion last week. Even though traditional publishers do take some control of your book, they do not take over copyrights. Rather, it is the creation itself. For example, if you post online on your blog, it is considered published. It should not be reproduced (copied) unless given permission by the writer. A similar concept with a published written work or a book. Once published, it is considered copyrights of the writer/author and can not be reproduced. It is the monetary gains in courtrooms that intensify the legal battles of what is considered “copyrights” or not.

I will discuss traditional vs. independent publishing in oncoming weeks. Frankly, I feel there are pros and cons of each one. My personal preference is self-publishing; however, I do not advocate one over the other. For now, I will stick to what I know firsthand: the process of writing and getting your book published.

We have discussed naming your book and creating the plot (storyline) in prior weeks. However, there are certain things to determine before writing the manuscript. There are two parts of writing your manuscript: the initial draft and the final draft. Most publishers will send guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript. If you have questions, please contact the publishing consultant assigned to your book. There are some guidelines I feel may be helpful in preparing your manuscript:

  1. The first thing is to consider what type genre (history, self-help, inspirational, religious, poetry or general, etc) your book is about. Is it fictional (story, novel) or nonfictional (autobiography, true facts or true story)? Who will be your audience and what age range do you want to reach?
  2. Consider the font style and pica format. Some publishers prefer the standard New Times script and 12 pica in Word Document. These should be included in their general guidelines.
  3. Indentations are determined whether you want the standard 5 or 3-tab indentation. Also, if single or double-spaced between lines and paragraphs. You may also do 1.5 spacing. Again, that will depend on the type of book you are writing. Poetry, for example, will have a different format and/or sequence of writing.
  4. I find writing chapters individually before combining chapters is easier to go back to correct and revise. There may be portions of your manuscript you may want to rewrite. Always read through each chapter to check if script sounds smooth and flowing. If not, you may have to revise or rewrite.
  5. Do not number your pages beforehand. The publisher will number as the length of the book will be longer with additional appendages. This includes the Table of Contents Page also – do not number pages before submitting.
  6. The very first page should include the Title Page, which includes the title of the book and the name of the author or pen name. You want to write Acknowledgments to give credit to those who helped in publication of your book. Dedications are optional, but may be included.
  7. Formats may vary with each writer, but I find an Introduction or Prologue useful. The Introduction can be short, but enough detail about the book. The Prologue or Chapter One should be more descriptive and give explicit details.
  8. Forewords usually go along well with proven writers/authors. Yet, someone who is familiar with your written work may write a Foreword or a Blurb for your book. I submit a Blurb on the back cover for this purpose. Adding an author’s photograph is nice too, where readers will recognize you.
  9. Always reference where you are getting information for your book. These can include References, Notes or Bibliography at the back of your book.
  10. End with an Epilogue explaining the conclusion or related to your book. For example, if writing a historical novel, write something concerning that era or the story you have written.
  11. At the very back of the book, you many want to include an About The Author page. This will include your biography, your writing experience and other publications (if applicable).
  12. If nothing else, always go through the initial draft with a fine-tooth comb. Some spell-checkers will not correct all spelling or punctuation errors. This includes grammar errors too. Please note that if you are self-publishing, the publisher is not interested in correcting your manuscript, unless you have paid for professional editing.

Next week, I will finish with submitting your final draft to the publisher. This is an important step, as once you approve and submit your final draft, no more changes can be made without a charge.

Please respond with any comments or feedback. Remember, any opinions or statements posted, are just opinions. I do not feel that any responses are wrong, just different in thought or opinion.

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Two: Creating a Plot (Storyline)


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Last week, we looked at naming your book. The title is an important part in marketing and advertising your book. In addition, to promoting your book over the network. Each part is one step closer to creating your book and producing a finished product. This week, we will start by creating your plot, also called a storyline. A plot is simply the series of main events or sequence of events in the story. I believe there are two major issues defined: what you want to happen in the story and what you want to get across to readers. More so, it is the actual experience of writing that gives knowledge and better writing with each additional book written. I start out each story with two main questions: what do I want the reader to see (messages written between the lines) and how do I carry over the plot to present the characters in the story? While there are no definite guidelines written in concrete, it is wise to be prepared. I have added some suggestions in which to start your plot:

  1. It is important to start out describing to readers basic descriptions, such as events, location, surroundings or time period. You don’t need to be too wordy or obsessive with words; however, be rather explicit.
  2. Begin with either an Introduction or a Prologue describing where the story is taking place, main character(s), dates or time period, etc. This will initially describe what you are conveying to your readers. What are you trying to tell them? For example, if writing a historical novel, you may want to include some historical events as well.
  3. The Prologue or Chapter One can lead the storyline into the book. The emphasis here is on guiding the plot into an easier written manuscript. Often, that starts the rest of the story and makes the manuscript flow easier. The manuscript is the initial script you are writing for your book or novel. I will be discussing finalizing your manuscript in later weeks.
  4. Write down important dates, locations, events or names in the story to refer back to. If you have a photographic memory, you may be okay in this area.
  5. There are times you may want to use what I call fillers. These are parts of a script or a chapter that aren’t in sequence, but are used later on in the manuscript. For example, if using a trial scene in your book, you may want to write the scene beforehand and go back later to add it to a chapter.
  6. Sometimes, I find writing the ending or conclusion first is easier, then going back afterward to write the rest of the manuscript. It is a guideline to what I want to say and where I want the plot to go. There are exceptions to this. If you are a very organized person, you probably can write from beginning to ending in sequence with no trouble.
  7. Write the story with little or no other distractions. If you are prone to distractions, write at a time that best suits you. If you are a morning person, write solely in the morning. If you are an afternoon or evening person, adjust your time accordingly to write. Turn the apps, radio, stereo, dvd player, headphones and television off. There shouldn’t be any other noise in the room, except your fingers working at the keyboard.
  8. Allow yourself time to finish the story. As I mentioned last week, there is no maximum time to complete your book. I would say three to six months is a reasonable time to complete it. Allow more time if having professional editing done or an illustrator for children’s books. If you are good with the English language and proficient in writing, you are probably okay with self-editing instead.

Next week, I will be discussing general guidelines used by the publisher. I can only go by independent publishing. Traditional publishing would be a different ballgame. It is time-consuming and you do sign over copyrights of your written work(s). Self-publishing allows more control of your book.

I love the responses and feedback I have received so far. Please keep the posts coming. That is the difference between an average and a good writer. A great writer will share her/his experiences with others in order for them to learn. These were things I learned along the way – thus, no one taught me these or no course was sought on writing. It took five years and will probably take several more years to learn everything in the writing process. Hopefully, these tips will make it a little easier for new authors and writers.


Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week One: What’s In a Name?


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So you have an idea and want to put it into words. If you are considering writing a new book, everyone has to start somewhere. There is one problem. You haven’t decided on what you will call your new book. The title of your book should reflect what it is about. For example, if you are writing a book of poetry, present a title that reflects the emphasis of the poems written. If you are writing a novel, consider several facets of the book: main character(s), plot, time element (or era), location or an event. If writing an self-help book, select a title that features the main topic. The same concept goes for historical books; choose a time element (or era) or topic the readers will want to read. Even well-established authors have problems putting a name to their new written work. Some writers struggle with this process; however, there are some points to remember:

  1. If writing a sequel, follow the pattern. Relate your sequel to your first publication in sequence. I find it easier to focus the title on main characters, events, plots, locations or periods of time. Pick a title that will be catchy to the readers’ eyes and easy to interpret throughout your book. You want an attention grabber. For example, if writing a series of novels on the American Revolution, give titles of the colonial themes in that particular era.
  2. Don’t get caught up on selecting multiple titles. That only causes frustration and delays. Try to limit to two or three titles and decide which one would best fit your book. I find that usually my first choice (not always) is the best.
  3. Be confident in your choice of titles. Even accomplished writers sometimes dislike the title(s) of previous books. I found this to be true in one of my books. Remember, once published, it is very difficult and often impossible to go back and change the title without spending a bunch of money. In addition, to make any changes to a published work, printing is stopped temporarily until all of the changes are made. This means you will lose money on book sales during that time.
  4. Enjoy the writing process. Once you name your book, stick with it and write your manuscript. Usually, three months is a reasonable time. Sometimes there are exceptions. If there are interruptions, like personal illness, health issues, family matters or such, it make take longer. There is no maximum length of time to finish your manuscript, no matter what the publisher tells you.
  5. Avoid super long titles, if at all possible. I’ve seen some books with up to ten words, while others have one word as titles. If you find it difficult to name your book, try splitting it up into a main title and a subtitle. Readers look at very long titles as too complicated to read. They may avoid buying the book and bypass it online or at the bookstore. You need an eye catcher, but not a long pending title.
  6. The most important point is to not select a title that has already been published by another writer or author. If you find a similar title, change the wording a bit. A good way is to search online websites. Amazon is a good place to start. There are others, such as Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, Ingram and Smashwords (an online website for English-speaking writers and authors).

I’m sure I’ve missed a few points along the way. Please add your comments or feedback. I would love to hear from you all.

Weekly Focus – Tips for New Writers and Authors

I’m getting comments from new writers and from those thinking about writing a new book. I spent five years gathering knowledge and information about the writing process. No one taught me these things. Rather, it is a step-by-step process, triggered by my own interest in writing and communicating with others. It was indeed a learning process. It takes years to learn the rules and even then, there is always more to learn. Actually, you never learn “all of the rules.” More importantly, is there any one right way to rules in writing?

I want to explore the writing process. My intent is to give advice to new writers and authors. Fueled by my own challenges, I am physically disabled due to a health/medical condition. As I read Stephen King’s On Writing, I am impressed that he is nearly legally blind, yet he writes consistently. He creates and produces movies; he has been a screenwriter for many years. His plot is death, horror and suspense. Although some of his movies reach a terror stage, he is consistent in what he writes. That is the aim, to be consistent in what you write and bring to the table.

Next week, I will be advising on naming your creation. You have an idea and want to put it into words. What do you title it? I have personally struggled with choosing a good name for a few of my past books; however, there are some suggestions I can make. It all starts with an idea. Remember, there is nothing as a stupid idea. Some of the most bizarre creations, started from an idea a writer once had in the back of his or her mind. Now they are multi-million dollar movies or adventures. In addition, you as the reader will be able to make comments and feedback to other writers and authors on this blog. All correspondences are welcomed, negative or positive. What better way to communicate and learn?


Urgent – Prayers Needed!


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Lots of prayers are needed right now. My secondary insurance has denied coverage (20%) for my new Rituxan infusions. They complied that it is an experimental drug. If I don’t get approval quickly, I will have to go back to Gammagard – IVGs or start taking steroids, which I don’t want to do. Initially, I did get approval in January for the new infusions and had two initial treatments then. I can’t understand why they are denying them now. Please pray that this will be resolved quickly and that financial assistance will be rewarded through another foundation. I contacted the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD) today. They seem willing to help if the Cancer Center will accept the program.

I can’t help being scared and upset. I have a very rare autoimmune disorder, called Lambert-Eaton Mysathenic Syndrome (LEMS). It was developed through breast cancer over seven years ago. It affects the neuro-muscular functions of the body, causing extreme weakness in nerves and muscles. Treatments are necessary to maintain health and from detoriating from the progressive disease.