Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day: 2017

Today has been designated as Memorial Day, a time to honor those who have given their lives in the service of our country. When I was growing up, we were proud of the fact that our country had never begun a war, nor had we ever lost one. I'm not sure we can say that anymore. But whatever your views about the various police actions, interventions, and battles of the past half century, there can be no debate about one thing: courageous men and women have put themselves in harm's way to make our world and our nation safe from the incursion of forces attempting to take away the freedom we hold so dear. And for this, we can never fully thank them

I'm proud to have served my country. I salute my fellow comrades and honor those who gave the "last full measure of devotion" in that service. God bless America.

This will substitute for my usual Tuesday post. Come back on Friday, when we talk more about the writing life and "Fast, Cheap, Good--pick two.".

Friday, May 26, 2017

Writing: Royalties and Advances

Generally, those of us who write in the Christian genre don't do it for the money. If we did, there'd be a lot fewer of us. But royalties and "earning out" an advance are parts of our conversations among ourselves. And, as the picture to the left indicates, except for a minority of writers, the amount of money that comes to us isn't huge.

A contract (or its precursor, the "deal offer") includes an "advance against royalties." The first thing to realize is that this is exactly what the words imply--an advance. There's a specific royalty structure for every book, and in order to get more money the writer's book has to sell sufficient copies to "earn out"--that is, after applying the royalties for those copies to the advance, there is an overage. Only when that happens does the writer actually get a check from the publisher. Oh, and that statement comes at a particular interval (the contract spells it out), and payment usually runs behind. That's just the way it is.

How often do writers' work "earn out?" One agent says that only 25% of writers do this. Another agent says it's all a guess. Actually, no one knows.

Oh, and what about the writer who independently publishes his/her book? They have to put in money to have the book edited and a cover design made, so you can look on this as sort of a reverse advance. Once this amount has been returned via royalties, their book can be considered to have "earned out."

Does it matter to you, as a reader, how much the author makes on each book? When you see a chance to get a book you've wanted for a discounted price, do you take the offer? (I do--but then again, I'm a reader as well as a writer).

Tweet with a single click: When does a writer begin to get royalties from a book? Click here to tweet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where Would You Go?

Summer's upon us, and many of you are thinking of vacations. I've found that, the older I get, the less I look forward to travel. And since we have no idea where the next terrorist strike might be, some of us feel a bit uncertain about the place we choose.

As a physician, I was privileged to speak in many countries around the globe, as well as in North America. I've thought about returning to England, Germany, the Middle East--but would it be safe to go there?

With my second profession, that of an author, my speaking and teaching has thus far been confined to the US, but even that is narrowing.

A typical question used to be, "Where in the world would you go for a vacation?" Now most people ask the question, "Where would you feel safe going for relaxation?" What do you think? I'll be interested in reading your comments.

Tweet with a single click. "I you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you feel safest?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Writing: Profession or Hobby?

One of my favorite "writing" books is Lawrence Block's Telling Lies For Fun And Profit. It was one of the first such books I read from cover to cover, and I still go back to it from time to time. Block has written a number of such books, most of them based on his columns in Writers Digest, and they influenced my growth as a writer. In one of them, he talks about the "Sunday writer," and I long ago decided that's where I fit in. I didn't think I'd ever make a living at this writing game, and I was quite comfortable where I was. But that's changed over the years.

Block wrote and published a number of books, and I've read and re-read most of them. He also wrote (sometimes using various pseudonyms) some magazine articles and books that varied from the noir variety to what I would call "erotica." But the main thing is that he wrote a lot. And because of that, he was able to support himself through his writing.

I've noticed, especially since many writers are turning to self-publication (the "indie" publishing route), that writers are finding what Block (and some of his colleagues) said was true--the more books that are out there, the higher your income is likely to be. I say "likely" because readers are learning that not everything that's self-published is worth paying even a low amount for the e-book version. But for those who spend the time and money to have professional editing and memorable book covers done for their work, there's indeed a significant market out there.

What of the "Sunday writer?" I'm not certain that class exists anymore. Writers seem to be like cyclists going down a hill, needing to do more and more (while making less and less), until eventually they crash or slow down.

Am I still a "Sunday writer?" I guess I left that class when I was first published. Of course, since I'm retired I don't depend on a day job to meet expenses, but I'm hearing from fellow writers (and experiencing this myself) that it's becoming harder to generate a dependable income via writing.

Do you see changes in the publishing industry? Good or bad? Any suggestions? I look forward to reading them.

Tweet with a single click. "Is writing purely a profession, or are there still those who write as a hobby?" Click here to tweet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Country Boy In The Big City

This post appeared quite a while ago, but I thought it was worth bringing out of mothballs. The top picture is of the Waggoner mansion outside my home town.

The other day, I saw a commercial that had a city limit sign showing a population that was almost exactly the same as that of that town when I left there: 2578. And that started me thinking.

When I finished high school (BTW, we only had one of them, plus  one other for the lower grades) and left to enroll in college for my pre-med classes, I jumped to a city that was ten times as large. That wasn't too big an increase in size for a small-town boy, and I adapted. Then I went to Dallas for medical school, and the jump in the population of the city in which I lived represented a logarithmic increase from what I'd become accustomed to. But, again, I adapted.

Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to visit (either as a visiting professor or via a leisure trip) places like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and lots of other US cities. I've travelled and delivered medical talks in Canada, Mexico, and Central America. I've even been in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, The Netherlands, and several others. Quite a step up for a small town boy.

I guess it's possible to adapt to one's environment, no matter how large or small the city in which you live may be. But sometimes I wish I were back in that small town in North Texas where I knew everyone, could find my way around blindfolded, and we never locked our door. Then again, those days may be gone forever, even if I tried to go back. As Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again." And, if you do, you'll find it's changed...and so have you.

Do you sometimes find yourself wishing you could go back home? If you did, would things be the same? I'd like to know.

Click to tweet this question. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017


My mother has been gone for many years now. But I can think back and see how she instilled in me some of the characteristics I hope I passed on to my own children.

Whatever woman to whom you owe a debt of gratitude, whether they gave you life or helped shape your life and made it what it is now, thank them today.

And to all the mothers out there--Happy Mothers Day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Writing: How Do Authors Get Paid?

If you're like me, you receive a number of emails each day offering discounted or free e-books. I confess that I often take advantage of these, and sometimes (not as often as I'd wish) I find a new author so I end up buying more of their books. Of course, that's the whole idea behind these "loss leaders." It's the same reason grocery stores have sales and put a discounted item on an end-cap or other prominent place. They want customers to think, "For that price, I'll try it." And often (they hope) the customer comes back for more, even at full price.

Authors do this for the same reason. But I'm afraid our culture has reached the point of agreeing with Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku: "For free, take. For buy, waste time." On one of the author's loops of which I'm a member, an author recently said she was told, "I really like your books. When the new one's free, I'm going to get it."

The average author spends six months to a year writing each book. If they have a contract with a traditional publisher, they receive an advance against royalties, but not a cent more until the book(s) in question "earn out." Since many books never earn out their advances, the author doesn't get any more money. The publisher runs specials and puts them on sale at a discounted price, but it rarely lines the author's pocket.

If an author is one of the new breed of self-publishers, they've paid out to have cover art developed and the manuscript edited (if they want the book to be something that will bring readers back for more). Their royalty structure is better, but there's a certain amount of up-front cost to them.

What do you think? What's a fair return for the writer's efforts? Or should books be available for free, much like air for our tires at a 7-11 store? Oh, wait. Those compressors require payment now. What's next?

Tweet with a single click. "How do authors get paid for their efforts?" Click here to tweet.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Almost Forgot--Chatting Today on CAN Blog

Does your life ever get so busy you almost forget an important event? Well, mine does. I almost forgot that I was doing a chat on the Christian Authors Network blog today. I hope you'll click on over and read it. You can learn why author Kevin Thompson and I feel the way we do about the comparison between a cup of coffee at your favorite Starbucks and a novel written by an author.

And come back here Friday for my blog on how (and why) authors get paid for their efforts.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Does The Internet Make Us Cowards?

In a previous post, I talked about the "masks" we hide behind that allow some of us to say or do things we wouldn't if our identities were obvious. You might consider this an extension of that post.

This week I've started reading a book about entitlement. As I've said in a recent Facebook post, I started reading the book thinking like a parent and grandparent, but soon realized it also applied to me. And there was one chapter that really hit home.

I confess that I read things on Facebook--not everything, but probably more than I should--and I've found my blood pressure rising when I see some of the political posts. I can remember situations when, if we didn't get our way in an election, we might be steamed for a while--we tried to be what in Great Britain is sometimes called the "loyal opposition" But the posts and comments nowadays are sometimes more than I can take.

As a writer, I'm encouraged to maintain a social media presence. For a long time I accepted essentially all Facebook friend requests, except those that are from people obviously trolling for friends. But now when I see a comment that raises my hackles, I click on the name, and if I see that I've "friended" them I use the tab that "unfollows" (and sometimes "unfriends") them. And that brings me to what this book said. There are things that we'd hesitate to say face-to-face, but we feel free to say them via electronic media. The Internet has made cowards of many of us.

Do you agree? Are some of these people who think nothing of spewing their vitriol going to eventually regret it? Is there anything one can do besides "unfollowing" or "unfriending" them? What do you think?

Tweet with a single click: "Does the anonymity of the Internet make us cowards?" Click here to tweet.


Friday, May 05, 2017

Writing: A New Type of Multi-Author Book, with Angela Hunt

Although I don’t usually read stories with a supernatural element, I’ve recently finished Invitation, designated as “cycle one” of the Harbingers collection. I have to admit that the way it was put together fascinated me. In it, four authors—Bill Meyers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky—each have written stories in the voice of a different character. The stories are freestanding, but tied together by a common theme. (book cover pic)

I was told that one of the authors, Bill Meyers, had the idea for this one, and invited other authors to join him. It seems reasonable to put together a project such as this, since I have held for some time that in our TV and computer dominated society the attention span of the reader is getting shorter. But is this new type of book a fad, or one of which we’d see more? I decided to ask one of the authors of the work, Angela Hunt, for her comments.

What did you think when you were invited to participate in this project?

I was delighted. I don’t usually write supernatural suspense, but I’ve always said that a writer ought to be able to write anything, so I was tickled to have the opportunity. Plus, my schedule is usually full, but I knew I could easily squeeze in a 20,000-word novella. And the other writers are good friends—how can you turn down that kind of fun?

The idea of several authors writing stories that could be drawn together into a coherent book would seem to be an impossible task. How did you all handle this?

We created a series “bible,” in which we were supposed to note things that had happened in each installment, but then nobody wrote in it, so that idea fell by the wayside. We did, however, hold occasional Skype conferences where we talked about the overall story arc, and how we wanted our characters to act and react along the way. We also suggested adjustments when we thought “our” character wasn’t reacting in a way true to his/her personality—and I noticed that we all grew quite possessive of our assigned characters. As if they were real . . .

Do you foresee more books in this cycle?

I couldn’t have answered that a few months ago, but now I can. There will be five cycles, twenty novellas. We are about to release the final book, and Alton Gansky is hard at work on it as I’m typing.

What do you think about the current state of publishing? Do things need to change? And is this type of book one of the changes we’ll see in the future?

I think the state of publishing has adjusted to the ebook revolution and the recovering economy well. Prior to the economic crash of 2008, publishers were publishing so much there was almost a glut, and the lean times pared down the list. I know that’s not comforting news to new writers, but it means writers have to be more skilled and more persistent than ever before.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share with the readers of this blog?

Just this: for the writer, reading is more important than writing. And living is the most important of all. How else will you have anything to write about?

Tweet with a single click: "Author Angela Hunt answers questions about a new type of multi-author book." Click here to tweet.

Angela Hunt has published more than 130 books in fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults. You can visit her website at www.angelahuntbooks.com. 



Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Professional Burnout

Although I've been retired from medicine for more than a decade, I still read the literature of my specialty, including some very interesting thoughts published recently by a valued colleague writing on burn-out among physicians in training. It's interesting that this phenomenon is observed in medical students and practitioners alike. How often? Up to 50% across all stages of education and practice.

I still remember sitting at my desk in the medical school fraternity house at 2 AM, studying my gross anatomy book, trying (not very successfully) to commit some of the material to memory. Cat-a-corner from me, through the windows I saw Jerry doing the same thing. Soon I heard his book slam shut, his footsteps thump down the stairs, and the front door close (not very quietly). He was gone for two days, and when he came back he wore a Navy uniform. What he did is one example of what I and others in medical school faced and how some of them react.

What does this have to do with writing? I'm a member of several writers-only Facebook groups, and recently I read a post by a mid-list writer of Christian fiction who essentially said, "I give up." I have no idea of all that was in play here. He said the joy was gone, there was no impetus to write. Perhaps it was difficulties getting a publishing contract (eight or nine publishers have shut down their Christian fiction lines in the past year), perhaps the time and effort a writer has to spend on marketing and building their "platform," maybe other factors. Of course, the door is always open for a writer to "indie" publish their work, but this is unknown territory and many of us don't like to venture there.

I'm sure burn-out occurs in other professions and situations as well as the two I've noted. Perhaps it has to do with the reasons one has chosen a career path to begin with. Maybe things have changed since the person has started down that road. How would you suggest putting an end to the "drop-out due to burn-out" situation? I'd really like to hear what you have to say.

Tweet with a single click: "What do you think about burn-out in various professions? Solutions?" Click here to tweet.





Friday, April 28, 2017

Writing: Collections, with Deborah Raney

I recently became aware of a collection of three novellas, written by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, and Courtney Walsh, and published under the title, Right Where We Belong. The idea was interesting, so I decided to ask Deborah Raney about this trend…if, indeed, it is a trend.

Deb, who had the idea to publish these three novellas in one volume?

Courtney and Melissa came up with the idea of a collection of small-town fiction and invited me to play along. I was thrilled with the invitation and had a blast working with these two dynamos!

What do you think about freestanding novellas versus the grouping of several into one volume?

There are three best things about grouping the books into one volume:
1. You introduce each other to each others’ readers! Already, as the tweets and posts have been flying to promote our new book this month, I’ve seen several of each of our readers say that they haven’t read the other authors, but they’ll buy it because they are loyal to one or the other of us. That’s win/win!
2. By grouping our novellas together, we have enough pages to create a print book that, at 400+ pages feels like a full-length novel and can be sold for the price of one. Even though our strongest sales by far are e-book, we each love print and wanted to be sure we had the option to have print copies available for our local bookstores, family, and friends.
Usually when one novella makes it to print, it is as a gift book in hardcover. You don’t too often see a novella standalone in print, at least not in trade size.
3. Writing novellas (as individuals too) is a way to get a story out into the market quicker than you could get a full-length novel published. Because novellas tend to be a bit simpler, with fewer plot threads, every aspect of writing a novella is quicker. That’s not to say it’s easier. I actually find it almost more challenging to create characters and a setting that readers will care about with so few pages to accomplish that!
If you’re a slow writer like I am, it might take a full year to complete a full-length novel. Writing a novella while I wait for edits or in between books is a way to keep my name in front of readers while they wait for the next full-length book.
Another reason I know some authors are writing novellas is because their readers have fallen in love with the characters from a series or novel, and they are begging for more stories from that fictional family or setting. In the case of Right Where We Belong, all three of us used either a setting or characters from a previous series of full-length novels we’d written.
After working with Courtney and Melissa on this project, I’d add a fourth strong reason for doing a collection: it’s just flat-out fun! Not only did we exchange critiques and editing, but we really sparked each others’ creativity just talking about our stories and the themes that tie them together. It was truly iron sharpening iron. And in my case, it was wonderful to have some younger women to make sure my young characters didn’t speak like grandmas. ;)

And what about packaging several novels together as a bundle, the so-called “boxed set”? Is this giving way to more novellas and collections of stories?

I think you’re going to see more and more of these. For one thing, it’s a way to give readers more for their money. A lot of times, the books included in a boxed set are ones that have already had a good publishing run. The author has gotten rights back to the story and is willing to put it out there for a lower price than the original in order for faithful readers to be able to still have access to an out-of-print book. In the case of 99-cent books and free books, an author might gain thousands of new readers by offering a risk-free opportunity for readers to try his or her books.
As an author, I’m kind of reluctant to give my books away, lest that make books seem to have less value. But I can’t deny that every time I’ve done a free promotion, I find sales of my other books rising, new reviews popping up on Amazon, and reviewers noting that “this is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be the last.” Those are the best words an author could hope for!

Any comments you’d like to leave with readers?

Thanks so much for inviting me into the conversation! As an extrovert, I couldn’t do this gig if I didn’t get to talk shop around the virtual water cooler!

Tweet with a single click: "Author Deborah Raney talks about a collection of novellas in a single book." Click here to tweet.


DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. She has since written over 30 books, including novels for imprints of Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Harlequin. Deb is on the board of the 2600-member American Christian Fiction Writers, and teaches at writers conferences around the country. Deb and husband, Ken Raney, traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at www.deborahraney.com.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Forgot...

I forgot! I actually let it sneak up on me that this guest blog post was going to be on today. You may be interested in what I say about "When the words won't come." To read my thoughts and add your own, click here.

See you Friday, when author Deborah Raney visits to talk about the collection of novellas to which she contributed. Is this a preview of coming attractions in publishing?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Behind The Mask

The first time I recall seeing people wearing a Guy Fawkes mask was during the Occupy Wall Street movement. For those who don't know, Guy Fawkes was one of the leaders of the Gunpowder Plot, an effort to blow up the British House of Lords. The mask was popularized in the movie, V for Vendetta.

Over the past few years the stylized mask has evolved into a global symbol of dissent, employed by everyone from shadowy computer hackers to Turkish airline workers. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement fizzled out, I haven't seen much of people actually hiding behind a mask...until I started (against my better judgment) to read some of the comments posted on a few Internet sites and realized that the mask (that is, hiding one's identity) was alive and well.

Is it just because people can hide behind the "mask" of screen names that they feel free to post the vitriol I saw there? Or is that the state of our society now? I'd write more, but I'm afraid I'd descend to the depths of those people who currently cloak their identity with that mask.

On my own Facebook site, I see differing opinions, and I'm OK with that--to a point. Some of these people are friends, even relatives, and their civil disagreement with me is reasonable. But if you're using my Facebook page to spew trash, I'm going to "unfriend" you. I've already started...and, frankly, it feels good.

Tweet with a single click. "Is the Internet letting people say things they wouldn't say face-to-face?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing: Rules

We never went as far as the picture shows, but when I was practicing medicine I saw numerous signs to turn off cell phones before entering an area, seeing the doctor, etc. Although sometimes the reason given was they might interfere with electrical equipment in the area, most of the time it was actually so they wouldn't interrupt the activity going on there. The rule might be expressed in different ways, but the reason was there.

When I first started writing, one of the first rules I learned was to choose active verbs, rather than passive ones. The reason, I was told, was to take the action forward at a faster pace, and this made sense. Then I was told to use verbs in a special way in order to keep the reader's attention. I never fully got the reason behind this, but I saw examples like, "Her fingers fisted" and "the artery in her temple pulsed." These, unlike the others, didn't make as much sense to me. I preferred the more conventional, "She made a fist" and "the vessel throbbed."

There are lots of rules in writing--some make sense, others don't (to me, at least). I suppose that's why I like the work of the late Robert B. Parker. He wrote in simple declarative sentences, and I never had to employ a dictionary to translate the words. Nor did I have to stop and think about the writing. It was clear.

Do you ever encounter writing that makes you take a step back and ask yourself why the words were put together that way? What is your opinion of rules? I'd like to hear.

Tweet with a single click. "What are some writing rules that don't make sense to you?" Click here to tweet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring

Spring is here. I've never kept up with the differences between meteorological and calendar spring--I leave that to the weather persons. For me, I can tell it's spring when baseball season has started, we can take the freeze-proof covers off our outdoor faucets, the golf courses are more crowded, and kids start itching for school to be out.

What does spring mean to you? Let me know in the comments section.

And come back Friday to read my "writing" post.

Tweet with a single click: "What does spring mean to you?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Weekend


The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed...Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead'...."
(Matt 28:5-7a, The Message)

In the ancient world, the message was this: "Christos anesti; al├ęthos anesti."

In our modern language, the words are different, the message the same: "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!"

Have a blessed Easter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Only In Texas

We were playing golf recently and my partner (who has never met a stranger) was talking with a man he met on the first tee. "I was born in Memphis, Texas. That's near Turkey." Because I'd heard this before, I almost missed the man's response. "Yep. Home of Bob Wills." For those of you who aren't acquainted with Texas music, Bob Will and the Texas Playboys pioneered the type of music known as "Western Swing."

My own history goes back to Decatur, Texas--best known through the dice-rolling chant, "Eighter from Decatur." We had the Waggoner Mansion, the Chisolm Trail (which ran through the men's room at the Wise County Courthouse, leading to some jokes I won't repeat here), and several other things for which we were famous, but nothing topped "Eighter from Decatur."

What's your favorite town, and why? It doesn't even have to be in Texas. Leave a comment with your answer. (I'll be away from a computer today, so talk among yourselves--and play nicely).

Friday, April 07, 2017

Writing: Too Much Information?

Writers are encouraged to make use of social media to make a connection with readers. I'll have to admit that when I take off my "writer hat" and assume the role of "reader," I enjoy knowing more about some of the authors whose work I read. But, whether you realize it or not, those of us who use social media--and that number seems to grow exponentially each day--have to walk a fine line between making a connection and giving out too much information.

I notice that authors' social media posts fall into the usual categories: publishing information as these people sign new contracts, public appearances and signings, interspersed with recipes, travel, and snippets about everyday life. But, whether you think of it or not, there are some things about which we're warned, and the same would go (so far as I can see) for anyone, not just those of us who write.

What should we avoid? I've been told not to get too intense in posting about my political beliefs. Why? One reason is that some of my readers may not agree with me, but they still like my novels. In the recent presidential election, I've discovered that a number of my friends and acquaintances in the publishing industry don't share my political views. I still like to read their work, but I have to admit that I now look for their politics bleeding over into the writing. I've made my views known, but not to the extent of some people, who post some pretty combative stuff.

What about trips? We're all happy when we are about to go back home to visit or start a long-anticipated vacation. But, although we're anxious to share this information, realize that it might tip off the unscrupulous that you're not going to be home for a bit. We're careful to put a "hold" on our newspapers and make certain our mail doesn't pile up in the box, but why let the world know that our home is an inviting target for burglars?

There are other things those of us who participate in social media are advised to avoid. Do you think we share too much information? Too little? What do you see as the reason behind communication via social media? Let me hear from you. I'd like to know.

Tweet with a single click. "Do we share too much information via social media?" Click here to tweet.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

No Pain, No Gain

We've heard the phrase repeatedly. Athletes especially are encouraged to continue their work-outs, even when the activity hurts, because there's no improvement in strength without some discomfort.

I was having lunch late last week with someone in the publishing business who asked me, "How did you get started writing?" I'd told the story so many times, I thought it was familiar to everyone, but once more I related how Cynthia's death and my journaling afterward led me--slowly and painfully--into the writing and publication of The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, and subsequently into my second career, this one as an author.

That got me to thinking about why so many writers of my acquaintance have deep hurts and difficulties in their personal life. Most of us, because we're not privy to those lives, don't realize this is true, but it shows up in their writing--and it's the better for it. This, too, is a case of "no pain, no gain." As A. W. Tozer said, "Whom God would use greatly, He will hurt deeply." And I believe it.

How about you? Can you think of a situation in your life when you had pain, yet gain ultimately came from it? You may not wish to publicize it, but if you don't mind I think it would help us all to see it.

Tweet with a single click: "Does 'No pain, no gain' apply to life in general?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Writing: Guest Blog Posts and Interviews

For years authors have been admonished to establish a social media presence. This has included guest blog posts, interviews, and even a series of such appearances in the form of "blog tours." But when was the last time you saw an extensive physical author tour, with signings and readings? This virtual disappearance, in my opinion, is due to two things: lack of a return on investment for the publisher and a tightening of the purse strings of various publishing companies.

Since my recently released novella, Doctor's Dilemma, was self-published, it fell to me to arrange any publicity it received. I have appeared on various other blogs with interviews and guest posts, the most recent one yesterday on Reading Is My Superpower. In conjunction with most of those, I have offered a free copy of my novella. And the return has been good, in my opinion.

My question to you is whether you have ever participated in such an activity--as an author, a host, or by leaving a comment hoping you'd win the copy of the book being offered. I'd like to hear your experiences and motivations. And I promise not to tell anyone--it will be our secret.

Tweet with a single click. "What do you think of blog guest posts and interviews to promote book sales?" Click here to tweet.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Interviewed Today

Interviewed at "Reading Is My SuperPower" blog today. Read whether I like apples or oranges better (and maybe win a copy of my latest novella, Doctor's Dilemma). Come back here tomorrow to read about interviews and guest blog posts in the life of an author.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Two Hardest Miles

I am not a runner. To me, the only reason to run is if you're being chased. But there are runners who read this blog, even some of you who run the 26+ miles of a marathon. Power to you, but as for me, no thanks.

I'm rereading (for the umpteenth time) the books written by the late Robert B. Parker, and I came across this bit of dialogue that hit home. Spenser, the protagonist, is going for a run with his girl-friend, Susan, who only wants to do a couple of miles.

"You realize you're running the two hardest miles," he says, referring to the first and last mile of a run.

"Maybe," she replies. "But if I didn't run those, I probably wouldn't run any."

If you think about that, the same applies to a task we don't look forward to. The first mile corresponds to getting started, something we put off as long as possible. Then, when we get started, we always encounter other stuff we need to do along the way. I know both Kay and I have that feeling sometime. And that brings us to the last mile--completing the task we set for ourselves.

So, are we running the two hardest miles? I know I feel that way sometimes, and I suspect you do as well. Want to tell me about it? I'd like to hear.

Tweet with a single click. "Are you running the two hardest miles of your journey?" Click here to tweet.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing: Return On Investment

Before I got my first publishing contract, I figured that when that contract came it meant all I had to do was furnish a manuscript (12 point Times New Roman type, 1 inch margins, contractually specified word-length) and the publisher would do the rest. But I soon learned differently.

There were edits to respond to: a macro edit, a line edit, then proofread the galleys. I needed to give input to the artist who'd be putting together the cover. And finally I had to do what seemed like tons of blog interviews, guest posts, and other social media obligations. The good news about the latter, of course, was that my publisher would provide the books that have become an integral part of such a blog tour.

When I got serious about self-publishing, one of the facts that sort of hit me between the eyes (and this wasn't until I had two or three self-pubbed offerings under my belt) was that I had to purchase all those books. I had always done a lot of my own marketing (because, as I've said before, no one is more interested in the sale of your book than you are), but when I self-published I needed to do all of it. That included sending out copies of the book to selected reviewers. And it was then that I got serious about the initials I'd been hearing for a couple of years--ROI, or return on investment.

When you're a member of a "street team," or an "influencer" for a book, realize that the book you received was one paid for by the author. In return, there are a number of things you can do to help get the word out. (The list I send is one I adapted from the one from author Jody Hedlund). Not every influencer can do everything on the list, but the author will ultimately look at the ROI of those efforts. The same goes for blog interviews and guest blogs, with the book giveaway that goes with them. If only six people comment, that's a poor ROI--if three dozen do, it's a worthwhile ROI. See the picture?

Here's my question for you: Have you ever been an influencer or member of a street team? Have you ever been influenced to buy a book by word-of-mouth recommendation from another person? Do you think blog tours, endorsements, and other marketing tools make a difference? I'd like to know.

Tweet with a single click: "It's not mentioned a lot, but ROI figures into an author's activities." Click here to tweet.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Guest Post

I'll be posting today at the Suspense Sisters blog, where I talk about the question, Aren't All Published Writers Rich and Famous? All comments (that include their email address) will have a chance at an Amazon gift card.

Incidentally, this will be my last post there. It's been a great time with those authors, and I hope you'll continue checking out their blog (as well as this one).


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

I could have sworn I already posted this, but then again, maybe I just dreamed it. That's what happens when you're in the midst of launching a new book (well, a novella), going through the regular "stuff" of which life consists, and trying to make time for the important things in your life (like golf and such). Anyway, it's officially spring and I wanted to ask your opinion.

To me, spring means that flowers will soon appear. Baseball season is almost with us. Kay is bustling here and there with spring cleaning. And both kids and parents look ahead to the end of school (with differing emotions). So, to you, what does spring mean? Leave me a comment. I'd like to know.