If you’re like most of us you have had children come to you and say, “Tell me a story.” That’s a lot like the position you’re in when you set out to write a family history. You need to tell your family’s story. That’s much different than simply recounting the information you’ve gathered about ancestors during years of careful research. You are the lens through which your reader will view your family. You need to reflect, evaluate, and make judgments about what you have discovered. What is important? What is not so important? What lessons are to be learned from the experiences of your ancestors? What might those experiences tell family members who are currently alive or in future generations about their own identities? Yours is the voice of the storyteller which draws meaning out of the experiences of those who have gone before.
Frustrated by the lack of opportunity to display and sell her children’s books, Patti Brassard Jefferson, an award-winning independent author and illustrator, decided to change the rules of the game. This summer she opened P.J. Boox, described by Publishers Weekly as the “first bookstore dedicated to self-published authors.” P.J. Boox only sells books published by independent and self-published authors.
Author newsletters are a great way to reach out to your readers on a regular basis and interact with them in various ways. Unlike social media, newsletters can be sent over e-mail and by adding a newsletter to your platform, you will not be dependent on another website for your contact list. If you really want to keep people familiar with what’s going on with your books, a newsletter is for you. Here's what you need to know about creating one.
We’re almost halfway through NaNoWriMo. How are you doing? Here are five great posts to help keep you on track and motivated as you press on to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge.
I don’t pay much attention to celebrity memoirs. They are usually ghost-written and convey little insight into their subject. But when Elvis Costello, a singer/songwriter I have enjoyed for years appeared at Washington D.C.'s Sixth & I to discuss his memoir Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, I went to hear what he had to say. Costello is somewhat unique among celebrities. He actually wrote his own memoir. I hoped he would talk about his writing process. I wasn’t disappointed.
Most people who read books have no idea of the lengthy discussions held about the tiniest little details. Do you capitalize the L for emphasis or will the reader think it’s a typo? That comma—is it in or out? Is it two sentences or one? Each of these questions can take several minutes to a good half hour to discuss, I kid you not. By the time the final edits are done, you are ready to scream and pull your hair out but you don’t because you care so deeply about your manuscript, instead, you take a deep breath, sit down with a bowl of ice cream (because by this point you need it), and take one more look before sending it to the printer. With all these tiny and seemingly miniscule edits one after another, how do you know when your book is done and ready to send? When do you leave well-enough alone and click the “submit” button?
My book is going to the printer’s this week. Along with editing the interior, I’ve been busy designing new bookmarks and business cards to go with the cover as well as completely revamping the websites for the independent publishing company I publish under and the website for myself as an author, spiritual director, and speaker. I’ve been typing in my name a lot and seeing it all over everything I create. It’s gotten to the point I feel uncomfortable about it, it’s like being caught in the center of a large spotlight and being expected to perform onstage. Even though I’ve been publishing for over thirteen years, most of my adult life, I am still getting used to being a name, a brand, as well as a person. When did my name become a product and what does that mean?
It’s nearing the end of the week and I haven’t taken any time for my own writing. Left to whatever spare time I never have, the days rush by filled with work, errands, appointments, and household chores. My heart craves to sit down and write out all those great ideas flowing through my mind but the to-do list never seems to get there. Sound familiar to you? With a new book coming out along with needing to redesign my websites though, I need fresh content to promote my work. My schedule hasn’t changed, it’s as busy as ever, but yet I have to find the time to work on all those great ideas. After talking with an author friend who has the same problem, these are six of the solutions we came up with to make more time for our writing.
A chance discovery of a piece of family ephemera accidentally hidden in a piece of furniture for almost 70 years opens up a series of insights into my grandmothers' life and times. The experience provides a good reminder to family historians that family stories aren't always where you might be looking for them. Think about what you might find among your own family's unexamined ephemera.
As authors, we typically prefer the writing aspect of our job over other areas such as marketing and selling. We love the creative process but aren’t big fans of selling the results. The ins and outs of taking payment can seem particularly hard to figure out. How do you take a credit card payment? What about keeping change? What do you do about making sure you have inventory around when you need it? There are some simple things you can do in your day-to-day life to help make selling your books easier.
When you’re getting ready to self-publish your first book, you have to decide whether to publish under your personal name or whether you want to create a publishing business. If you do create a business, do you choose to register it and go through the legal process of setting one up? Is that even necessary?
Beta readers are an invaluable part of the publishing process and one not to be skipped over. Though it’s tempting to publish your manuscript as soon as you’ve edited every line within an inch of its life, handing your work over to beta readers to hear what they think before going to print prepares you for a wider release in a way nothing else does. Here are some tips on how to use beta readers effectively.
If you want to write a family history that people will want to read, it’s a good idea to think about those potential readers before you begin. What interests and inspires them? Most genealogical researchers see their task as the pursuit of facts about their ancestors – births, deaths, marriages, children, death, occupations, and home places. Lists of facts seldom engage people. Think about history class in high school. What does engage people, even inspire them, is the drama of real people’s lives. Whether it’s portrayed in a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of historical biography like those written by David McCullough, in the avalanche of memoirs filling the New York Times Best Seller List, or less lofty prose like People Magazine or supermarket tabloids, real life drama fascinates readers. How can you capture the drama in your own family history and share it with your readers? If you set out to create compelling biographical sketches of your ancestors you’ll be sure to have the drama one doesn’t find in the facts of an ancestor’s pedigree chart.
Selling your books at a bazaar may not have occurred to you but let me suggest them as a great venue to share your writing. At any local bazaar, there usually aren’t many authors so your product will stand out as unique and if you can find the well-attended bazaars, there will be a lot of people looking for gifts to buy—people eager to support local artists and authors. Here are some tips on the best ways to have a successful bazaar.
Holding your manuscript in hand, you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re almost done and the words you’ve labored over for months or even years is almost a book. There are now only a few more decisions to make before your work is ready to be sold. One of these decisions is how much to charge for the book. What price do you choose? You want a price low enough to induce readers to buy the book yet high enough to cover your publishing costs and help with living expenses. Here are some factors to consider when pricing your book.