"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner

Recent Posts

Why I'm Being an Absolute Sloth!
Lessons We Learn Too Late
Christmas Without . . .
Another Thankful Morning--This Time for Alert Cats.


A new contest
academic myopia
Almost Free
Applications and software
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
Battle of Port Royal
blind artists
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
Business plan
Career choices
cemetery research
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas Past
Civil War
Computer Hacks
constitutional amendments
Contract labor
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
Deal of the Day
e-book pricing
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
English class
fact and fiction
fame and fortune
family affairs
Fear of Failure
flood waters
food delights
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
Getting organized
ghost stories
good business
good news
grammar cops
gray horses
grocery shopping
guest blogs
hardbound books
Harriet Tubman
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
identifying your audience
indie authors
internet history
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
launch dates
Laura Towne
legal matters
lending library
Lessons Learned
lessons unlearned
literary genres
local news
love story
making choices
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
military matters
Monthly Musings
name recognition
Nellie Chase
Nellie M. Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
odds and ends
opening lines
Penn Center
picture book
Pinterest and copyrights
planning ahead
point of view
polite society
powerful women
press release
Progress Report
pros and cons
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
random thoughts
read an ebook
Reading Enhancement
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
Scoop It
second edition
Second Mouse
Short Stories
small world
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software disasters
South Carolina
story arc
Taking a Break
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Trivia, Nostalgia
Upcoming Events
using commas
vacation photos
weather trauma
word counts
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process


March 2019
February 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"


Second Mouse -- A Few Writing Tips

Along with the technical publishing stuff, you'll find sections of this book that are designed to improve your writing.  Here are just a few of them.

1. Before you fall in love with an idea for your next book, be sure you know where it's headed. You may have to kill off your favorite parts for the sake of the book as a whole. As we discussed last week, it often becomes necessary to "kill your darlings" by removing them from the story line to clear the way for topics that are more important.  The danger of that is greater for pantsers--those who just sit down and write by the seat of their pants, not knowing where the story is going until it gets there. Planners--those who work out all the stages of a plot -- are more successful in ending up with a story that works. So keep asking yourself who the hero is -- what his goal is -- what or who is keeping him from reaching the goal -- and how he will resolve the problem. And there you have it--a basic plot.

2. Don't forget to do your homework. Besides, research is fun. You never know what you are going to find. If you want to create realistic characters, try exploring genealogy. Nothing is too bizarre to appear somewhere in a family history. I've come up with some great story lines by poking around in old cemeteries.  I still don't know, for example, why two of my husband's ancestors were buried in the same plot, one obove the other. But what a story that would make!

3.Know the difference between fact and fiction. You may have a lot of facts at your disposal, but if you include all of them in your novel, the reader may end up with a stomach ache.  Writers of historical fiction are especially prone to overdoing the factual, even when it gets in the way of the story.  You have to know what happened, of course, and you need to check dates carefully so that you don't have a character driving a Model T before the invention of the automobile. But resist the temptation to show off everything you know. Bigger isn't always better, and word counts don't matter. Tell your story without padding. Quality is more important than quantity.  

4. One final consideration. Once you've written a book, you have to sell it, so never think you are finished just because the book is in print.  A book is still a book, but an author also needs an online profile. Don't ignore the power of imagery, movie trailers, and music to enhance your words. That's where Pinterest can become really useful. If the characters eat something interesting, provide the recipe--not in the book itself, but on a Pinterest board or a blog post. If you know someone who can create a short video, uses it as a trailer, a "Coming Attractions" announcement. If you can find an audio clip (not pirated but something out of copyright), use it on your website. 

Friday is the last day to get your free copy of "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese." Don't miss out.


Amazon Loves Me This Morning!

Did anyone else receive this promotional bit ?  Or did they just send it to me to keep my spirits up this morning?  Here's the screen shot:

Every Self-Publisher Needs To Be a Marketing Expert

Here's the final section of the article on 21 things a self-publisher needs to know.  And once again, I want to thank the source of these suggestions:

About the Author:
James Altucher can be found at jamesaltucher.com and @jaltucher, where he spills his guts and talks about failure, success, more failure, a little bit of death, and hopefully some life. And his latest book, "Choose Yourself!" (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter) comes out this week..

21. Marketing 201
I almost hate the word “marketing.”
It feels to me like, “what gimmicks can I do that will get people to talk about my book and then buy it.”
I wanted to make sure any marketing I did was integrated with the actual message of the book, which is that in order for people to succeed, they need to “choose themselves.”
This is not only a choice they need to make economically, but a choice they make internally, with their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
And the actual message of the book has some marketing possibilities …
The middle class is dead, every major corporation is systematically firing all of their employees, and we all are going to have the choice of whether or not we want to be artist/entrepreneurs or temp staffers.
So on some of the blogs and sites I guest post on, I will be writing up that story.
I’m a big believer in the message. I  give techniques for how I think people can be happier given that the economic landscape has turned upside down. We are all struggling with money, with happiness, with loneliness. Choose Yourself! tells my story of how I failed, got up again, failed, got up again, and then stayed up.
And I wanted to spread that message to others.

I found a post by Kevin Kelly that suggested a marketing idea of paying people back who read your book. Kevin got a bit technical in terms of figuring out if the person actually read the book or not. He wanted an ereader that could figure that out.
I decided to trust the actual reader. So, I put together an offer that would pay people back, those who could prove to me that they read the book. How they proved it to me was up to them, rather than resorting to technical means on my part.
Why not just give the book away for free? And why not just rebate if they bought the book?

  • People — in general — do not value things they get for free. I wanted people to put the money out, read the book, and only then would I pay them back.
  • Most people buy books, but do not read them. This was an incentive to actually read the book.

I don’t care if I make any money on the book.
The message is very important to me. That’s why I’m willing to pay people back … if they can prove to me they read the book.
So this was marketing that wasn’t just a gimmick but woven into the fabric of what the book meant to me. But I still needed a way to get the message out if I was going to do this marketing.

I called Ryan Holiday, who’d marketed the books of Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power), Tucker Max, John Romaniello, all of whom had hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. He literally had 100 ideas for marketing the book. First we came up with several ideas like the one I just laid out above.
One idea that popped up was that I would become the first author ever to  pre-release a book for bitcoin buyers only. We did this, and it was covered by SF Gate, Media Bistro, CNBC, Business Insider, and other places.
Why bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a “choose yourself” currency. It’s not dependent on a government, a person, a country, etc. and its use is getting more and more widespread. The week I released the book on bitcoin, my pre-orders on Amazon spiked so much I became the #1 kindle book for Entrepeneurship, a full month before release.

Prereleasing on bitcoin also means that I now have several hundred people who have (hopefully) read the book, and many of them have already told me they will be reviewing the book on Amazon. Having many reviews on Amazon straight out of the gate helps Amazon know that your book is one they should feature.
In two days I’m going to announce another adventure that is tightly integrated with the message of the book that I think will also generate interest.
Ryan also suggested various joint content plays (a podcast, for instance) I should do with various bloggers who had large email lists.
This is all still in process (the book is coming out today) but compared with my last book, this book will probably be seen by an extra million (or more) people over the next week.

The first step in marketing is what I described above: build your audience. The second step is a cliché but you have to do it: write a good book.
But for a specific book, come up with ten firsts based on the content of your book that nobody has ever done before. And then make sure the media becomes aware of it.
Hiring a marketing expert allowed me to continue focusing on what was important to me — the writing and the message — while he coordinated more than 100 media sources for the various messages I was putting out about the book.

Why are you self-publishing a book?

Because you are an addict. Like me. But there are some other reasons.
Take pride in yourself and in your work. You are all talented and smart people, else you wouldn’t be reading Copyblogger and working on your own art and creativity.
Some of the things I describe above cost money, some don’t, and some can be done super cheap.
Take your work very seriously.
This is your child you’re letting go out into the world. You want to do it right. Enlist the help of a team. Make it team-publishing instead of self-publishing.
Your book will, of course, stand on its own merit. The only way to have a truly successful book is to have a well-written, unique message that stands out among the cacophony of noise.
But everything I describe above will lend credibility, authenticity, and ultimately audience to the effort:

  • Building the platform and trust with your audience way in advance.
  • Writing a strong story while at the same time delivering value.
  • Connecting  all the dots on editing, design, title, print version, audio version.
  • Having many strong  marketing messages and a way of delivering those messages. Making sure the messages aren’t gimmicks, but real ways that show you are living the message you write about.
  • Infusing professionalism into every aspect of the process. The goal here is not to publish as easily as possible. The goal is to publish professionally in a way that leaves the traditional publishers in the dust.

You are your own publisher.
You are the one who believes in the message and your art and now want to share it with others and ultimately it is you who is choosing yourself to deliver that message. A message that, when properly packaged, will be a delight to the reader to receive.

Second Thoughts on Marketing

We've already talked about book marketing as part of the preparation for writing  your book. Now that the book is ready to meet its public, the same social media sites will be even more important to your efforts. If  you've followed this plan, you've already started to build a platform of followers and readers. Now it's time to expand your efforts.

Once you've created a publishing company and have the books ready for purchase, a website is a prime requirement.  It should serve many functions -- introducing your area of expertise, talking about your book, providing a detailed biography so that readers feel they really know you, allowing readers to contact you, and making book ordering easy.  Articles on how to build your website are found elsewhere.  Just be sure you do it.

A word of caution about the usual social media sites may be necessary here.  Readers turn to Twitter for pithy sayings, not to be told to "Go buy my book." Facebook provides enough ads as it is.  Don't make it worse by using your status updates as just another ad. Your readers are probably interested in your signings, your awards, your public speeches -- but don't beat them over the head with flat demands for their money.
YouTube videos can reach huge audiences, but don't post something unless it makes  you look like a professional, not a silly amateur turned loose for the first time with a cellphone. And LinkedIn audiences are even tougher.  The participants there are usually serious business people.  Give them information they can use, not blatant self-promotion.

A Virtual Book Tour is a wonderful device for building your following.  Every time you visit the blog of someone new and post an interesting article, you get a chance to add that person's followers to your own. So look for people with interests similar to your own, read their blogs until you are sure you like them (and their audiences), and then ask politely if you can do a guest post for them.  If  you offer their readers some information of value. you may create a long-term relationship that works for both of  you.  As an example, just last week I made my second appearance on a blog managed by a woman who wrote an article for my own book launch. Our interests jibe, and we easily fill in for one another when we need a fresh voice.

The final item on this chart talks about press releases -- which sound serious and mysterious but are easy to do because there is a standard format. Everything must fit on a single page.  Forget about fancy fonts, pictures, clever little sketches -- just get the facts out there, with no grammatical errors or typos.

Start with the words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"
Follow that with your contact information.
Write a short catchy headline.  Look at your local newspaper for examples.
Write a two-sentence description of your book.
Provide a synopsis, similar to the one on the back of the book jacket.
Include a brief biography, with pertinent qualifications, other publications, and any awards.
Add a quote or two from any reviews you may have
Provide book details -- ISBN, publisher, ordering information
Repeat author contact information
Finish with that useful printers mark --  ###

Once you have a good press release, you can send it to local news media, give it to people who will be hosting  your book signings, and use it to introduce yourself to potential customers.  Consider it your own personal Town Crier, going out ahead of you to announce your presence.

Finally, let's add one more item: PERSEVERANCE.  Success in the book publishing world does not come easily or quickly .  It just seems that way when you look at it from the outside, because readers don't see the agent turndowns, the rejections from publishing houses, the low sales figures, the negative balance in your business ledger.  Your book will not be an overnight phenomenon.  Accept that, and keep marketing, keep talking about your interests, and keep writing.  Really, which would you rather have -- a one-night stand with an Amazon "best-seller of the day" or a steady, growing relationship with your readership?

How To Get People Talking about You.

A lot of writers recently seem to be worrying about getting reviews and other kinds of publicity for their new books.  Since the revelations about paid reviews and Amazon’s over-the-top reaction of taking down reviews written by “competing” authors, not many writers I know are willing to pay a professional review-writing fee.  Others are similarly suspicious of  those sites that offer little revolving ads on Facebook, or Yahoo, or other frequently-visited pages.
So what’s a writer to do? We know that books don’t sell themselves.  Thousands of new books appear every day, and it’s all too easy to get lost in the thickets. A book that appears on Amazon does not automatically generate talk, book sales, and raving reviews.  The pundits tell us that “word-of-mouth” generates the most interest.  But how do we start people talking?  How do we help a new book  catch the attention of readers, if not with ads or reviews?
One solution?  Start locally and hope the ripples spread.  Ah, but starting at the local level is not as easy as it sounds, is it? Living in a small town might help. If you’re the only author in town, your neighbors may get excited about your new book.  But in a big city?  Not so much!  I’ve had no luck getting local signings or book talks in Memphis, outside of my own college campus.  There are just too many writers here.  After all, the city that was home to Shelby Foote just aren’t much interested in some unknown writing about the Civil War.
What to do? If I had the definitive answer to those questions, I’d be wealthy – and obviously I’m not.  But I have learned to value one small avenue to “getting the word out” without paying for a review or paying for advertising.  Find a small audience and let them do the word-of-mouth for you.  Start by offering to do a talk to an open-ended group of people  who have a reason to be interested in your book.  Check with the local library to see if they happen to be celebrating some holiday that can be tied to your book.  Do they have a writing group who might be interested in your route to publication? Do they provide meeting space for a book club to whom you could talk about how to review a book?
Then, it is reasonable – and valuable – to make sure that any venue where you are going to speak makes an effort to publicize your appearance – and the earlier the better. Here’s my most recent example.  Women’s History Month is coming up in March, and many libraries will be celebrating it.  Since I tend to write about unknown but extraordinary women, I arranged to be in Hilton Head, SC, for a week during March, and I let the local librarians know last fall that I would be available to talk about my most recent heroine, who just happened to be from their local area.  Within a couple of weeks I had scheduled a book talk on St. Helena Island, where Laura Towne lived and established her school for former slaves. And from there, I simply sat back and let their publicity people do the rest.
Yesterday I received a copy of the Beaufort County Library’s January Newsletter, and there, featured prominently, was this announcement:
Author Talk: “The Road to Frogmore”
St. Helena Branch
Professor Carolyn Schriber will speak on her recent novel, “The Road to Frogmore:
Turning Slaves into Citizens,” which tells the story of Laura Towne and the founding of Penn School.
Books will be available for purchase after the talk.
Tuesday, March 19 at 12:30 pm
Look at the advantages here.  The announcement lets people know that they will be able to buy the book, but it doesn’t shout “Buy Me!” The emphasis is on the talk – what people can gain by coming, not what it’s going to cost them. Further it targets a large and an ideal audience – everyone in Beaufort County who has a library card.  They are the readers in the area, and it’s a book about their own area. Notice that it’s an early announcement.  There will be two more newsletters coming out before my talk – one on February and another in March.  Repetition helps. And finally,  it comes from a third party, not from me.  That’s word-of-mouth in action.