Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's Your Dream?

At the beginning of the movie "Pretty Woman," a street hawker yells out to passersby, “Welcome to Hollywood. Everybody comes to Hollywood got a dream. What’s your dream?” as if he’s awakening slumbering souls who aren’t paying attention. My point isn’t about bad grammar. It’s about you paying attention. Do you have a dream you haven’t realized?

By Hurry from
My writing career began in 1994 with divine inspiration – yes, a voice told me to write – and the sketchy attempts at a romance novel. I loved romances and thought that since I’d read hundreds of them, it would be easy to write one. I was a college graduate. I knew how to construct sentences. I had the gift of beautiful description.

I was wrong.

It takes more than beautiful description and well-constructed sentences. You need strong characters, a good plot, and a little bit of magic. Several novels later I was still struggling with those elements. Thank the powers that be I discovered WriterUniv.Com, an online site that delivers practical and affordable writing classes to the needy.

Help me, I cried, and it did. I slaved over Plotting, Pacing, and Conflict. I delved into World Building, Turning Points, and Themes. I role-played with Archetypes. I dabbled in Body Language. In short, dear friends, I honed my skills. And from the ashes of my previous rubble soared the phoenix of new ideas. A trilogy of love stories about jealousy and betrayal and unrequited desire.

The new subject took a little getting used to – two years J – but I finally found my way and the first book is ready to go. Perseverance, dedication, determination, all those drove me along the way.

By Nikolai Sorokin,
Is your dream a murder mystery in an ancient castle? A romantic escape through fields of tulips? A die-hard thriller? Maybe you want to win the Pulitzer. Or see your book made into a movie. Or maybe you just want to be published. No dream is too big or too small. But how much time are you giving it? Do you persevere or do you let your inner critic tell you it can’t be done? Are you dedicated or do you procrastinate? Do you have determination or have you let your dream die?

“To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.” The quote by Anatole France sums up the writer’s conundrum. It’s not enough to have an idea. It’s not enough to want to tell a story. You have to take action. Put the idea on paper. Flesh it out. Play with it. If you don’t write it down and share it, then your dream stays safely hidden in its cocoon, available only in your imagination. But to breathe it into life . . . Well, then. You’ve created a miracle.

Today, promise yourself that you will foster your dream. Today, you will nudge it along. Today, you will write some piece of it. Then do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Soon your dream will be alive and well, not just in the recesses of your brain, but in the hands of your readers.

Someday I’ll write a successful romance. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe after I finish my trilogy. I’m not letting that dream die. So I ask you, what’s your dream?


Nanette Littlestone is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author who has worked with both fiction and nonfiction for 20 years. She specializes in helping authors to use their passion to achieve their own unique voice and message. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Your Way to Self-Publishing Success

You’re still not convinced that you need to be blogging, especially seeing that you’re in the midst of finishing the book that your coach keeps nagging you about (that would be me, and I’m not letting up!). Okay, so you’ve been told you should blog, but you still don’t get the whole blogging thing. I bet you’re asking yourself one or several of these questions:

  1. What’s the point of blogging?
  2. What can I possibly blog about in itty-bitty blurbs?
  3. Who the heck would read my blog anyway?
  4. When will I find the time to blog?
  5. How do I get started?

Okay, now that we have all of the obvious questions out of the way, let’s get to some answers: 
  1. Blogging helps you practice writing regularly; it helps your peeps keep up with what you’re doing; it helps position you as the expert or authority on your subject matter.
  2. You should blog about your journey of producing the fabulous book you’re writing; tease blog readers with excerpts from your book; introduce readers to the characters in your book; make them hungry for your bestseller before it’s finished. You can even blog about your frustrations with writer’s block, your success finding the right production team and your relief at finally finishing chapter 12.
  3. Readers of your blog will first be people who know and like you. Take them on this marvelous journey with you. You’re the brave heart who is actually doing what everyone else secretly wants to do: write a book. Ask your friends and family to follow your blog and ask them to encourage their friends to follow you and to post comments. Soon, you’ll find that other authors, writers, professionals and entrepreneurs are following your blog (how cool is that!).
  4. There you go again with the time thing. It’s only an excuse. You’ll find time to blog, trust me. Oh sure, you won’t have time every day, but that’s okay. When you have a thought or a rant you’d like to share, jot it down. Keep that all important note pad or voice recorder handy to capture random thoughts that will eventually become blog posts. Jot down what’s on your mind at the end of each writing session; that should make for some cool blog material.
  5. Get started by signing up for either or I’m sure there are others; just Google "How to set up a blog." Expect to spend about an hour on the front end setting up your blog. Don’t stress about the design at first; just set up the thing and perfect it later. No one is going to blast you because you change the design two weeks after you’ve started it.  
Okay, no more excuses. Start blogging now!

Still have questions about blogging as an author? Ask me below (I’m sure other inquiring minds want to know). 


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Momentum of Multiple Books

One of the best ways to promote your current book is to write another book. Can that really be true?
I interviewed Jon Gordon, bestselling author of 7 business books, and he said that has been true for him. One of his early books, The Energy Bus, was published in 2007, but in May 2012 was #7 on the Wall Street Journal list and #6 on the USA Today bestseller list. Jon’s newest book, The Positive Dog, was released in May around that same time. Jon says, “The Positive Dog launch was helped by all the other books I’ve published. This book launched the strongest of any of my books.”

Jon also commented that his previous books are listed on the dust jacket, instead of his bio, to cross market his other books. When people purchase The Positive Dog, they can easily see the other books Jon has written. He went on to say, “When you see an author you enjoy has written other books, you start reading all their books. I notice that’s what is happening to me now. People read The Energy Bus or Training Camp and now they’re reading my other books.”

Other authors have also found they gain traction with additional books because of wider exposure. Jeff Bennington, author of Reunion, an Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller has published 6 novels, as well as a how-to guide for independent authors titled, The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. In it he notes, “the more books you have on the digital bookshelf, the more visible you will become.” The Indie Author’s Guide includes comments from many bestselling indie authors including Dean Wesley Smith. Dean says if he wants to write full-time, he’ll need at least 15 books published.

The energy you generate through writing can be powerful. The Law of Attraction states that what you energetically send out comes back to you. Most authors in the midst of writing are in a zone of creative energy. The marketing activities to promote their book are necessary, but often less enjoyable. So, dedicating time in your schedule to write and bask in the creative zone can bleed over into your marketing activities, making those activities more enjoyable and filled with ease. As Jeff Bennington comments, “Start writing your next book. You can market and seek reviews when you need a break.”

From a mastery perspective, the more you learn, the more ideas you explore, the more things you try and the more you write, the better you become. The journey of being a better writer and more successful marketer happens with every book you publish. Let it be fun and try something new… maybe a book blog tour, a giveaway on Goodreads or a discussion guide for book clubs. Track what works best with your target readers and then try that again with a twist.


Vanessa Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to support book authors who are self publishing.
Twitter @vanessalowry

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Study Your Readers to Improve Sales

For many authors, the "Sell" is the brass ring of success. Selling a million books is the end-all and the be-all for many authors. They strive singularly to sell, sell, sell as many books as possible ... and as a result, to make as much money as possible, to gain as much visibility as possible and to build as large a following as possible. But to what ultimate end?

For strategic authors, identifying an ideal reader – a target audience, as it's called in marketing – is an unvoidable and absolutely necessary first step in creating a book that will appeal to a niche market. For authors who do so, gaining a dedicated fan base can be easier than for those who don't take the time to determine for whom their book will have the greatest allure. But once the target audience is found and the book sold, how much do authors really know about how their readers interacted with the book?

The ever-transforming e-book industry is developing new metrix for authors – and the marketing minds behind e-readers – to know more than ever before about the behaviors of book readers. A recent Wall Street Journal article exposed the behind-the-read data that is being captured by makers of tablets and e-readers to determine how readers interact with the books they purchase.

According to the article: Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier. Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start. Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend to skip around between books.

With all of this knowledge accessible through the much-loved features of e-readers – highlighting, page marking, chapter browsing and more – authors, distributors and marketers can gather a wealth of information about the tendencies of readers, but at what cost? For many, reading is a private adventure, not one to be analyzed for profit. But why should the book publishing industry be so different from any other? Some authors argue that they would much rather know how their readers approach reading, how long it takes to complete a book, which phrases are most appealing, and whether the book is ever completed, among other behaviors. This data has enormous potential for e-publishing and the book industry as a whole.

As the article notes: There are some 40 million e-readers and 65 million tablets in use in the U.S., according to analysts at Forrester Research. In the first quarter of 2012, e-books generated $282 million in sales, compared to $230 million for print, the Association of American Publishers recently found.

Read the full article here, and then let me know: How do you think tracking reader behavior, trends and preferences could help authors?