Welcome to Our World-Building blog

Welcome! We weave dreams, some dark, some not, but all fantastic.

We are authors of Fantasy, Romance, and much more. Enter our infinite worlds....

On this blog, our visitors will find advice and opinion from published authors on much more than just world-building. We'll tell you in Craft and Opinion posts what we do, how we do it, and what we think works for us.

Authors with A-names post on the 1st of each month, B-names post on the 2nd, C-names on the 3rd etc.
The 29th, 30th, and 31st are free-for-all days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do you know a teen writer who wants to hang out with the pros?

EPIC’s 5th annual New Voices contest opens, and plans are unveiled for this year’s youth writing track at the annual convention

It’s August, and that means big changes for your average middle or high school student: new teachers, new class schedules, sometimes new schools… It also means the opening of the 5th annual New Voices contest, e-publishing’s premiere youth writing contest.

What makes the New Voices contest different than other writing contests? Several things.

New Voices is a worldwide contest, just for middle school and high school students (or the country of origin’s variation thereof). The contest is intended for students aged 11-18 years old, writing in the English language. In previous years, students from as many as sixteen US states, four Canadian provinces, and several foreign countries have won places in the contest.

The contest is split into middle school and high school divisions, then further split into poetry, essay/non-fiction, and fiction short story categories in each division. Contestants may enter one piece of work in each of their division categories.

There’s no entry fee for the contest. At the same time, sponsors and EPIC (The Electronically Published Internet Connection) underwrite the contest to provide prizes for entrants. Prizes range from gift certificates and cash to PDAs and/or e-book readers. And all winners are included in the yearly New Voices anthology.

Entrants never need to pay a dime. Unlimited copies of the e-book anthology are provided to winners. A CD copy and a print copy are provided to each of the winners and their schools. Additional print copies may be purchased at cost, but no one is required to purchase anything.

This contest is ideal for students with an interest in writing. All entrants, win or lose, receive feedback from published authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals.

For those with a serious interest in publishing, EPIC provides a youth writer’s track at the yearly convention, EPICon. This year’s convention will be held at the Sheraton (New Orleans, LA) from March 4-7, 2010. The youth track is scheduled for Saturday, March 6th. The youth track costs $40 and includes lunch, where contest winners in attendance will receive their awards. Non-attendee winners will receive their awards by mail. For an additional $27, youth track attendees can have breakfast while several established independent press publishers answer questions about their businesses and submissions.

But time stands still for no young writer. Anyone with an interest in entering the contest has until midnight October 20, 2009 to get an entry in. Anyone with an interest in attending the youth writing track at EPICon has until February 5, 2010 to register.

Any questions about the contest can be addressed to the New Voices chairs at newvoices.competition(at)gmail(dot)com. Any questions about the convention can be addressed to the EPICon chair at cjparker1(at)att(dot)net For more information on them, please visit http://www.newvoicesyoungwriters.com/index.html or http://www.epic-conference.com

Feel free to pass along!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

10 Mistakes Authors Make

This is an excerpt, posted with permission and attribution, from Penny Sansevieri's newsletter. All pronouns are as written by Penny.

Featured Article - 10 Mistakes Authors Make That Can Cost Them a Fortune (and How to Avoid Them)
When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And while I can't address each of these in minutia, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a book's success (or lack thereof). Here are ten for you to consider:

1) Not understanding the importance of a book cover
I always find it interesting that an author will sometimes spend years writing their book and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn't a designer, or doesn't have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or, worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research. Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend an average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75% of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles to stores. And finally, please don't attempt to design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair, this is never a good idea.

2) Trusting someone who has limited or no track record
When you hire a team, make sure you ask the service provider for their track record. Often I see an author who successfully marketed their single title now feel they have all the marketing knowledge they need to help you market yours. Unless you are in similar markets, I would avoid this at all costs. You want people who have worked in the industry and know the needs of the market beyond just one title. You also want someone who has some history. Ask for referrals, and success stories. I give references all the time to potential new clients, but when I am the one interviewing a new service provider I will ask for them but never call them. I mean who's going to give you a bad referral? I want to see that they have some names they can give me, then I'll go online and Google them to gain some insight into their history and online reputation.

3) Listening to people who aren't experts
When you ask someone's opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don't give it to your co-workers to read and get feedback (yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal, but this is different). If you've written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. Same is true for self-help, diet, romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader, in the end that's all that matters.

4) Trusting Oprah to solve all your problems
Getting on Oprah is an article in and of itself, but let me say this: the quickest way to turn off a publicist is to use the "O" word. Why? Because anyone worth their salt knows how tough a road the Oprah pitch can be. Not just that, but sometimes authors will become so myopic and obsessed about this show that they lose sight of other, maybe better opportunities. And trust me on another point: someone (friend, co-worker, family, spouse), somewhere will tell you, "You should go on Oprah," and while you might be 100% perfect Oprah material the only people who can determine if you should be on her show are her producers. Shoot for the stars, dream big, but be realistic about your campaign, otherwise you'll spend a lot of time and a lot of money chasing a potentially elusive target.

5) Planning for the short-term only
There's a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it's this: "instant bestseller." Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as "instant," and certainly the words "overnight success" are generally not reserved for books. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. Meaning that you should plan for the long term. Don't spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign. We find this especially true for self-published titles that need a little more TLC than their traditionally published counterparts. We offer campaigns that last 90-days, but that's not because we think 90 days is all it will take to make your book a success, it's because we find it's a reasonable time to get started, get a foothold and start your progress down the runway of success.

6) Not understanding timing
Timing is a funny issue. First, there's the timing that books follow to get reviewed, lead times as it were. Then there's production timing, and if you're lucky enough to get a distributor there's the time it will take for a distributor to get your book into the proper channels. A book launch should be planned carefully and then leave wiggle room for slipped dates and late deliveries (which will happen). I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.

7) Hiring people who aren't in the book industry
Let's face it, even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn't always make sense. So hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn't just a mistake, it could be a costly one. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can't, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, you've likely spent years putting together this project, make sure you make choices based on what's right and not what's cheapest. If you shop right you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget. There's an old saying that goes: You can find a good lawyer, and you can find a cheap lawyer, but it's hard or near impossible to find a good, cheap lawyer. The same applies in the book world.

8) Designing your own website
You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. But ok, let me elaborate. Let's say you designed your own site and saved a few thousand dollars instead of paying a web designer. Now you're off promoting your book and suddenly you're getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into sales. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn't it?

9) Becoming a media diva
Let's face it, you need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it's the unfortunate truth. So here's the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow-up thank you note after the interview. Don't expect the interviewer to read your book and don't get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally correct them in such a way that they don't look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be done over. Most media people don't have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy and he decided he didn't like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M's, don't even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.

10) Hiring the best and then not trusting their advice.
Here's the thing that's always confused me. You hire me, then don't listen to my advice. And it's not just me, I hear this all the time from other industry professionals. Look, it's not an ego thing, it really isn't. It's just this: if you're paying good money to your vendors, asking them for advice and then not taking it, you might have a disconnect. Perhaps a breakdown in communication, maybe you don't trust the person you hired. If you don't trust them, then you should part ways and find someone you have some chemistry with. Otherwise what's the point? Build your team with people you enjoy working with and respect. Then when they try and guide you or save you some money, take the time to listen.

Reprint permission
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~
You are welcome to reprint any items from "The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter." However, please credit us as a source with the following paragraph:

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Contact Information
email: penny@amarketingexpert.com
web: http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fantasy Fans on Facebook (it's all about the F's)

On Facebook, the N3F group is without many fans (could be because of their fiendishly clever and geeky name) but are apparently very receptive to Fantasy lovers....as fans.

The url is http://www.facebook.com/pages/N3F/89128934330

It's not my group (btw) I'm merely a fan, but one of the admins asked me to spread the word.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry
Please vote for my cover/title/blurb in a social networking contest for authors

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How To Make The Most Of Being On A Radio Show

I spend a lot of time setting someone (maybe three someones) straight on GoodReads about being on internet radio.

A little background.

PIVTR has only been going for three years, and it is not a full time station. It does not do business commercials, and it is heard all over the world where ever people have computers... from grandmothers on tiny British islands (a friend of my mother's heard my show without even knowing I was a talk show host, and emailed me) to truckers crossing continents to publishers and... who knows, TV scouts, as well as the colleges and universities you mention.

We support three charities by sending them the hosts' theoretical royalties from mp3 downloads (which cost around $2.60 last time I asked).

A royalty on $2.60 isn't much, but yesterday I forwarded a check for $25.00 to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit.

Hey! If only Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh would donate their entire host's proceeds for their shows to the hungry and the homeless, and help former incarcerees who've served their debt to society to learn a useful skill (baking bread or organic gardening).

A good show can turn into sales. It's not guaranteed, of course. For a start, the interviewee has to be prepared, has to be absolutely fascinating as an authority on some subject, has to speak clearly (on a land line), has to entertain, and has to be likeable.

Above all else, be likeable. The hard sell doesn't work. Authors who unintentionally project a sense of entitlement don't do so well. Listeners aren't going to buy a book just because someone has written one and mumbles a title and a url repeatedly on the radio.

(I should take my own advice, eh?)

Also, an interview on a show is not the end in and of itself. Authors need to understand that. Before the interview, it is a (flimsy) news item... something to post as news to all your sites and groups and to Tweet and Smak, and post on all your Updates. But, you really need to have a decent hook: an elevator pitch to make people want to tune in.

You also ought to have a Google Alert. You can Tweet that. Afterwards, you can blog about your experience, especially mentioning what you did wrong because people love to read about pratfalls. You can purchase the mp3 from Lillian, and post it on your MySpace page etc etc (I don't need to tell you!) and everywhere that allows you to upload a podcast.

It's not the show that will sell books. It's what you do on the show and with the show. Unless, of course, Oprah was listening.

On my next show, Crazy Tuesday, September 1st, I shall be interviewing USA Today best selling author Jade Lee, and international best selling author Susan Kearney. We'll be talking about Dragons.

Rowena Cherry

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Copyright attorney's blog

I've just added a new, useful link to the sidebar. Ben is a copyright attorney with lots of helpful and interesting links in his sidebar. The post I've linked to is an interview with an unrepentent pirate.

I think you should read it if your blood pressure is low, or your metabolism needs stirring up.

Rowena Cherry