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Silver Spring, MD
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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

How to Create an Author Newsletter

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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A Lesson for Memoir Writers from Elvis Costello

Biff Barnes

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.
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Planning to Self-Publish? When Is Your Book Done?

Sarah Hoggatt

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?
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6 Tips on Finding Time to Write

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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Finding Family History in Strange and Surprising Places

Biff Barnes

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.
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Tips on Taking Payments for Your Self-Published Book

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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Beta Readers Help Fine Tune Your Self-Published Book

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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Using Biographical Sketches to Engage Family History Readers

Biff Barnes

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.
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Selling Books at a Christmas Bazaar

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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Choosing a Price for Your Book

Sarah Hoggatt

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.
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When Revising Your Book's Draft Less is More

Biff Barnes

The great architect Mies van der Rohe once observed that in designing buildings, “Less is more.” It is just as true when writing a book. One of the best ways to improve the draft of a manuscript is to make some judicious cuts. Stephen King recalls in On Writing how he learned that lesson. "I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: ‘Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.’" Here are some ideas on where you might find that 10%.
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Getting Reviews for Your Indie Book - As Easy As 1-2-3

Biff Barnes

Any savvy author knows that Dana Lynn Smith was absolutely correct in her post Seven Reasons Why Reviews Sell Books on the Book Buzzr Blog when she said, Book reviews are a powerful marketing tool for books of all types. Not only do they bring books to the attention of people who might never have heard of them otherwise, but they provide “social proof” that the book is valuable, and help the reader determine if the book is a good fit for them. The question is, how do you get good reviews on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, and influential blogs? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.Here's how to do it.
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The Key to Engaging Readers: Scene Not Summary

Biff Barnes

Over reliance on narrative summary is one of the surest signs that a story, whether fiction or nonfiction, is written by a novice writer. The author, often because he is concerned with making all of his plot points, sounds like a school child giving a book report. This happened, then that happened, next another thing happened, the writer tells his reader. There is not much detail in his account of the story. The author / narrator distances his reader from the events he recounts because he tells the audience what happened rather than making his readers front row spectators as drama unfolds on the page. Narrative summary is often written in the past tense, while a story that engages its readers relies on the immediacy of present tense. Avoiding over reliance on narrative summary is relatively easy if you rely on a piece of advice from Mark Twain. “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
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