Monday, March 29, 2010

The ePublishing Road, Part Two

Wow! Where did that week go? The appearance of blossoms on the redbud and dogwood trees, the explosion of azalea blooms, and the blizzard of dead leaves from the live oak trees have bemused me. If you're seeing crocuses in the snow, brightly colored tulips and pussy willow buds, then I'm sure you feel the same way. Even with the Easter cold snap looming, I've put away the heavy coats.

The arrival of spring is not the only source of my bemusement. Publishing options have me looking slightly glassy-eyed. Like the sudden switch from winter to spring, the explosion of ways to turn my manuscript into a book seemed to go – overnight – from only a traditionally published ink-and-paper book to a number of open-ended options with multiple solutions.

In order to begin getting a grip on this transition, I asked Mr. David Nicholls to share his story with us. Last time, David explained how the reality check he experienced when he attempted to publish his manuscript led him to start the Aspiring Writers' group on LinkedIn. The explosion of the group (It's closing in on 1300 members.) encouraged him to take another step. I'll let him tell the story.

"With the growth of the Aspiring Writers group on LinkedIn, it occurred to me that, with the emergence of online publishing, I was looking at an opportunity to empower authors to take charge of their own careers. So many writers, worldwide, want to get their work published, but the traditional publishing industry treats aspiring writers as second-class citizens. Unless an aspiring writer is a celebrity chef or has appeared in a soap, traditional publishers rarely take a chance on a new writer.

With these thoughts and a growing group of writers passionate about wanting to get their work published, I came up with the idea of developing an online portal for aspiring writers. Unique? Certainly not. What is unique these days? But learning from the sites that had already been developed, I set about turning my ideas into reality. I wanted to give these passionate writers the opportunity to publish their work, earning money for the time and work they had already invested.

They say that naivet̩ can be a good thing and in this case, I would certainly go along with that sentiment. I consider myself an entrepreneur not a 'techie' so I started to look for people who could share my vision. With a small team that included a web developer and a creative director, we put together We put out initial feelers and the feedback was very good. In February, it was launched Рand we held our breath. Within a very short time, we hit our first target of twenty books on the site, with sales of these books already starting. We even attracted a US Ambassador who put his work on the site. Although these are early days, the signs are very promising. We have plans to develop the site with the ability to download on e-readers, including mobile phone Apps.

Some people have said that online publishing is only a temporary success, but I remember someone saying that about the Internet! So if you feel you want to be part of this exciting revolution – then have a look at – you'll be more than welcome."

In preparation for today's post, I popped over to It now has twenty-eight registered authors with thirty-five books for sale. Though the site is in Great Britain, the transactions use US dollars. Authors can sign up for one of two publishing packages. The basic package is free, with books sold for $2 or $4. The link to the "Author Terms and Conditions" can be found at the bottom of every page. If you have used, please leave your thoughts about the site in our comments.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The ePublishing Road: Part One

Hello, friends. Daylight savings time has arrived. If you’re like me, having that extra daylight means you can spend more time writing in the evening – or coming here to visit. I’m glad that you chose to spend some of your time at our table in the coffee shop.

A week or so ago, David Nicholls left a comment. He had some interesting things to say, so I asked him to be a guest blogger. I wanted everyone to have a chance to read what he shared. Mr. Nicholls comes from the U.K., which should be obvious from some of the British terms he uses.

Before I let David Nicholls take the stage, I want to announce that Marsha Moore, our resident travel book writer – who also lives in the U.K. – graciously offered a copy of her book 24 Hours London for the winner of our next drawing. Everyone who follows Calling All Aspiring Writers of Nonfiction Books by March 31 is eligible for the drawing. (The exception is Jennifer Ortolano, who won the drawing last month.)

Now let’s find out how Mr. Nicholls got into ePublishing.

“I’ve never considered myself a “career writer.” In fact, up until 9 months ago, I never considered myself a writer at all. Having been in the advertising and marketing industry for more years than I can remember, I became one of the many to fall victim of the economic climate. If the truth were known, my first reaction after getting over the initial trauma of being made redundant was a feeling of relief. A strange reaction I know, but being “pushed off the merry go round that you hated being on, but were too scared to step off of” makes you feel like someone who’s just been released from a long spell in prison. You know you have to face reality eventually, but you do enjoy that euphoria of freedom.

Apart from being tied into a contractual “garden leave” arrangement for a month and knowing I wouldn’t be able to pick up employment immediately, I set about putting down that story we all promise ourselves to write. I knew I had a vivid imagination, but my planning is appalling, so I sat at the computer and let it flow out of me. I realised it would never win a Booker Prize but felt I could tell a good story.

Feeling very proud of myself, I started to research the process of getting my hard work published. I put my head on the pillow at night seeing my book in shop windows and discussing the film rights. However, I soon found out the reality of being a writer. First get an agent, and then get a publisher. We all know how difficult a process this is and for most, impossible. Apart from getting the standard response from agents, the reality is that traditional publishing has been and certainly is now, playing safe. If you’ve been on a reality show, you stand more of a chance of getting work published, even if it’s by a ghost writer, than if you are an extremely talented writer. Of course, people do get their work published, but they are rare.

In a moment of sheer frustration, I started a writers group called Aspiring Writers on LinkedIn, which if you didn’t know, is the leading professional social networking site. My thoughts at the time were to attract a few fellow Brits to the site so we could have a good moan about the state of publishing. To my astonishment within five months, we attracted 1,200 members. The vast majority of the members come from North America, but the group is truly international. The group has attracted a vast array of talent, including professional authors, agents, publishers and of course aspiring writers, all who have the aim of helping and encouraging each other within this very competitive market place.

Am I still cynical about the publishing industry? The simple answer is yes, but the passion that most writers have about their craft doesn’t diminish and I am now flying the flag for online publishing which empowers any aspiring writer in a way that was historically never possible.”

Next time, Mr. Nicholls will explain how he went from LinkedIn to ePublishing. Come back to hear more of his story.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Community Spotlight 4

Wow. Would you look at all the aspiring writers who have joined us lately? We've added so many new faces to our community that one table is no longer enough. Let's rearrange the tables and chairs so that we can all be together. Today, I want to introduce you to our new members.

Let me introduce you to Inside the Shrink, Dr. Bobbi Craigmyle. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Missouri who writes three blogs. Psychobabble covers topics related to mental health and to the brain. Her most recent article is about psychopathic personalities. Dr. Bobbi also blogs at Inside the Shrink where she talks about issues affecting her own life. Link to her latest post to read how she overcomes adversity. The third blog is Daily Grace, a short devotional thought for the day. Check out her blogs. One of them might spark an idea for an article.

My introduction to Steve Player will be much less informative, since his name is all I know. Leave a comment, Steve, and tell us more about yourself – and welcome!

Rebecca Ford joins us from La Vergne, Tennesse. Besides nonfiction writing, Rebecca is interested in the future of the publishing business. (Aren't we all?) If you have any opinions on what's going on in the publishing world, Rebecca, please leave a comment and we'll plan on a guest spot for you.

Please greet Lynette Benton. Lynette is a published author who holds a Master's degree in Communications Management. She also teaches classes on writing in Arlington, MA. We'd be interested in hearing what you have to say, too.

Misti is another community member I can only introduce by name. Misti, it appears that you may be new to the blogosphere. We're glad that you chose to join us in the coffee shop. We'd like to know more about you, so please leave a comment.

Please welcome, Mickmas. Mick blogs at – are you ready? – at Mick Blogs. What the name of his blog lacks in imagination, the work on his blog completely makes up. Mick hails from the UK where he takes the most amazing photographs and shares them on his blog. If his photographs don't inspire you, nothing will. Oh, yeah, Mick REALLY likes music, too.

My final introduction of the day is queeninme80. Ms. Queen doesn't blog, but I have a feeling that she has a story to tell. I trust that by joining us at the table, she'll someday find the words to tell it.

I have one last subject for the spotlight, today. If you scroll down the page and look in the right-hand column just above my picture, you'll see a new gadget/link for BookSneeze. Some of the books I discuss on this blog will come from Thomas Nelson who owns BookSneeze. (In the set of articles about memoirs, I received a free copy of Thin Places as part of a blog tour for Mary DeMuth, I bought copies of By Searching and Writing for the Soul, I borrowed Plenty, and Thomas Nelson gave me a free copy of A Century Turns.) If you blog and are interested in reviewing books for Thomas Nelson, you can link through the icon. (No, it is not an affiliate link.)

It's been a pleasure getting to know all the new members of our community. We hope that you will feel comfortable enough to stop in often. We enjoy getting together and there's always room for one more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Memoir Month #4

Welcome! It's time for some good news. I have the winner of the drawing for a copy of Mary DeMuth's book,
Thin Places.

Jennifer Ortolano, you are the winner. Congratulations! Please contact me at lynndaell [at] live [dot] com so that I can send it to you.

We've viewed memoir writing from several perspectives. Mary DeMuth gave us information about writing memoirs in general and followed up with the personal issues she faced. Last time, we looked at memoir writing from an agent's prospective via Laney Katz Becker's interview.

Today, I have another blog excerpt. Rachelle Gardner blogged about writing memoirs. Link here to read the whole letter. I want to focus on a few lines:

"Memoir is a demanding genre; it will only sell if the writing is stellar, and the story is crafted in way that is very compelling. It usually needs a unique hook or a fresh spin on a common topic… Selling a memoir is not just about your story. It's about how that story is written. Lots of people have a story similar to yours; only a few will be able to write it in such a way that it could become a bestselling memoir."

Rachelle uses strong words: demanding, stellar, compelling, and unique. She also talks about the agent's perspective of having a best seller: "only a few will be able to write it."

So what's a writer to do?

What else? Write a book!

Write a memoir. Just don't call it a memoir.

No, I'm not talking about some magician's razzle-dazzle. I am asking you to rethink your book. Think about a memoir as a guided trip into someone else's world. How deeply we delve into the author's life determines what type of memoir it is.

When, by opening the book, we read the answer to the question, "Hello, how are you?" the book is primarily about the author's past. Memoirs like,
Thin Places
and Isobel Kuhn's book By Searching answer that question by inviting us into the deepest places in their lives and souls. They share memories and experiences that may be painful, but their answers help others who hurt.

Sometimes, the book answers the question, "What do you do?" I've recently read two great examples of this type of memoir. Plenty is an example of the memoir style "A year in the life of…" It's about how a couple lives out the goal of securing locally grown food. It contains strong personal and emotional elements of the couple who wrote it. It makes compelling reading.

Jerry Jenkins' book Writing for the Soul skillfully weaves his personal life into information on how he writes. Because his writing style reflects his lifestyle, the account of his writing life would be hollow without the personal life that sustains it. As co-author of the Left Behind series, Mr. Jenkins has a unique hook.

Another question a memoir can answer is, "So what happened?" Of the three types of memoir, this type is the most objective. I recently read A Century Turns by William J. Bennett. In it, Mr. Bennett wrote about the twenty years of American history beginning in 1988 and skillfully constructed a stained-glass window of national life. Because he was involved in much of the political activity during those twenty years, he adds a personal touch to the account. Much as the thin strips of lead hold a stained-glass window together, his touches of memoir become the slivers of light that give definition and cohesion to the picture he creates.

As you look at your story, think about it in relation to the food you eat or the work you do or the people you know. You will still need all your writing skills. It's just that by turning outward, you might find a larger audience for your story and make your memoir a best-seller.