Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 1 Pre-Release

One month to go. You are almost there with comprehensive pre-release strategy that will have your book come out of the proverbial gates a-swingin’! To date we have broken down what to do each month leading up to your book’s launch date, including media kits and contact procedures, arranging for public speaking events, internet presence with social media, organizational methods, graphic design and branding, and interpersonal relationships.

There is no easy way to say this, even with all the hard work you’ve put in so far, the months right before, during, and immediately after your launch are absolutely critical for your book success. History has shown in the traditional publishing industry that book sales are strongest in the first 90 days after release. It will be your measuring stick; and it has also proven to be the time when most books reach bestseller status. Even if that isn’t your goal, it certainly can’t hurt and, when dealing with traditional publishers, can show a strong presence enough to get your book on limited shelf space in stores.

In this section, to make sure you have as strong a start with your book release as possible, we will cover the following:

  • The media blitz
  • Tour scheduling
  • Street teams

The media blitz

You have a strong media list curated if you’ve followed Parts XXXXXXX on my blog. You have the press release polished and snazzy. You have your one-two punch media pitch. Now it’s time to put it all into action. Pitches and press releases should be sent out approximately four to six weeks before your launch date. While we know the world works in lightspeed paces, it takes real time for a reporter to cover a story, including working with their and your available schedules. If you start at the six week window, I recommend follow up reminders and additional releases weekly to keep on their radar.


Hosts often plan their guest appearances a few weeks in advance. This includes podcasts. They’re busy people, and they have their own marketing pre-release they have to account for. You will most likely need a combination effort with emails and phone calls to get a guest spot. I’ve found it often takes six or more contacts before you get the host’s attention without being too annoying.

The prep work for radio and podcasts is easy. Make sure your voice is well modulated; if you’re a heavy breather or throat-clearer, make sure to avoid doing so. It’s okay to have someone record you in advance like a mini-interview and then listen to yourself so you don’t sound awkward. Since I’m profoundly hearing impaired, I’ve had friends record me and listen to the recording on my behalf to make sure I don’t do things I might be missing. The same feedback can be helpful for normative hearing people too. Every little bit helps. The best audio tip to give about doing a radio/podcast interview is to remember to smile. It will make your host more comfortable with you (if you are in studio) and will make your voice sound open and friendly. The best preparation tip I can give is to have your top two or three points written down in front of you. Radio (and often podcasts) aren’t long, and they often have multiple guests. You may not get a lot of time to talk so make sure you get the most out of your time with the most important information.


Television can seem daunting. The camera is terrifying to many. Especially writers who are often introverted by nature. But you can use the fact that television is visual to your advantage, even if you don’t like the spotlight.

Find visuals that relate to your book. Depending on your book’s nature, you might be able to do some sort of “show and tell,” have photos or illustrations. For instance, if I was to write and promote a book around my blog posts 8 Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores and 5 More Tips for Shopping Thrift Stores, I could have models demonstrate the “do’s” and “don’ts” of thrift store-found fashion. Just ensure that you clear everything in advance with the production team and host who will need prep time to set the stage and react.

Even if you don’t have anything more to go along with your book, being an engaged and enthusiastic guest is good TV. Read a little on how best to dress for the program (or ask the stage manager), and then just do what you do – tell a story, only the story is how entertaining or impactful to others’ lives you and your work will be.

Tour scheduling

Again, you’ve done the work: media lists and scheduled interviews, set book signings, and planned for live events – now it’s time to promote them! Check with radio stations/podcasts about advance promotion of events; many will. Most bookstores promote who is going to be there well in advance with in-store signage; maybe you can even get them to put you on their marquee out front along the roadside. In addition, many bookstores air or publish their own press releases, send newsletters, and do special promotion to VIP members. Conferences and conventions always promote on their websites, even if you’re not a big name celebrity, in the program, and on advance PR.

Let’s face it, like authors, some venues promote better than others. Some do virtual zero promotion. You must remember to ask what promotion efforts they have planned. If they don’t have press releases planned, offer one you’ve written. Tell them they’re welcome to use it on their website and social media as well. Do you have a blog following? Promote there. Keep your signing and speaking schedule posted on your website’s homepage, put it on social media, send it to relevant websites before, during, and after your events. Get your street team (that we’ll be discussing shortly) to get involved however they can.

Keep media releases of different lengths. You want one that covers your whole engagement schedule. You also want short announcements for each event. The media isn’t likely to pick up every event, unless you’ve made some sort of impression on them, but overall odds are good that many releases will get some level of coverage.

Friends who blog? Ask them to mention your upcoming events if their readers are in your target audience. Keep the upcoming events in front of your own readers by making them part of your regular newsletter. Keep it relevant on social media by updating frequently. Post it at places like Shelfari and Goodreads on your profile. Certainly have it available on your Amazon or Barnes and Noble profiles.

At every interview, mention where you’re going to be next. I always mention my next event and the one following that, especially if the first date is close to the interview air date. That way people have two chances, and someone who goes “Darn. I’m not available on such short notice” will have a second option that is further down the road to attend. Keep those interviews linked on social media, website, and blog. Helping to drive continual traffic to the host’s or reporter’s site by posting your interview links is an easy and good way to thank them.

Remember to set up Google Alerts to let you know when your name and book title are posted anywhere on the web. It will be important to know how your information is getting out there and beneficial to see who is the most effective at distributing it. Doing so will allow you to streamline your communications going into the future. That’s not to say to cut out traffickers that weren’t the best, but you can reach out to them later and prioritize your go-to promoters first.

Street teams

This is an older term that stems from radio. Radio stations used to have interns flood the market with flyers and promotional items. Don’t we just wish we had that kind of manpower and budgeting? Well, in part, you do. At least the manpower.

Do you have a handful of good friends and supportive family members that can be counted on? Who had read your manuscript before it was published? Often times an author can count on their beta readers as the basis for their street team. From there, you can build outward. But first you have to take a little bit of time to train your street team on what it means and how they can help you.

Establish willingness

“You must always ask; never assume.” Just because a beta reader had time to read and critique your manuscript prior to publication doesn’t mean they will have time to join your street team. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. To incentivize street team members you can always offer something: a signed, advance-review copy of the book is often appreciated, a small gift that relates to your book, even tee shirts. Sometimes the team members just likes be the “first to know.” Every team is different.

Establish tasks

This is what you need. Typically, it’s best to ask street teams to complete easy, inexpensive tasks like:

  1. Ask local stores to carry your book and contact you for a signing;
  2. Request their local library branches purchase your book;
  3. Write early, positive reviews of your book on Amazon or favorite online seller, submit reviews to relevant blogs, and post to social media;
  4. Put up advanced flyers and posters about upcoming events at coffee shops, universities, or other popular hangout places;
  5. Attend your events, often acting as a “plant” to ask questions, start conversations;
  6. Invite people, especially their friends, to your events;
  7. Call in during radio or podcasts with questions;
  8. Suggest your book to local book clubs;
  9. Provide a gift of your book (maybe one that you provide to them) to influential people they know;
  10. Talk your book up with people they know!

Some people balk at the concept of “plants” in an event’s audience, but there is nothing unethical about having people who genuinely enjoyed your book in the audience at events. Thinking of it from the big marketing point of view. Companies give out free samples and trial sizes all the time in hopes people will talk up and also buy more of their product. That is all a good street team does in essence: they talk up your product and get people buying!


Okay. So we have covered what to do in the month prior to your book launch. If you’ve followed the steps each month then you should have a comprehensive book marketing strategy that will blow the roof off your book release.


BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.

Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Book Formatting

BC Brown Books Kindle Self Publishing Book Formatting

We’ve covered how to establish a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and how to set your product pricing and royalties in the Getting Started post and we’ve talked in more detail about the individual product details in the Book Basics post. With all that great information, you’re ready to go, right? Except…wait, what is your product?

If you’re reading this I’m to assume you’ve written a book.The question remains: have you formatted it for upload? Book formatting isn’t as simple as uploading a Word document. Don’t despair however. It isn’t hard either. With a few easy steps you can make sure your book is professional quality when your reader opens their Kindle and sees your work.

Preparation for publication

Many writers choose to write in chapters which affords editing ease and also reorganization. Like many other authors, I don’t write in a linear fashion, instead relying on a mixture of plotting and scene “stitching” that often has me jumping from place to place in a novel. Doing so would be impossible to keep in one text document, no matter the format, so I keep each scene or chapter in separate documents that can be readily accessed.

When it comes to prepping your novel formatting, you need to put your edited document in a single file from start to finish, front cover to back cover. A lot of writers find that the successful conversion format is a Word document that has been saved as an HTML document. You can do that using the “Save As” command in Word. Doing this will keep any embedded files in the document fixed in their proper spot. No one wants a weird chapter heading illustration jumping about in the final document upload. In this same regard considering any columns or tables in the document formatted as text or graphic images. (Be advised: if you are unfamiliar with graphics programs, stick with the text format or work with someone who has design knowledge.)

Kindle books following their own page formatting, especially as readers come in different shapes and sizes, so be sure to remove any page numbers or references to page numbers. Footnotes (if necessary) should be replaced with hyperlinks that navigate readers to another section of your document like an End Notes page. If writing non-fiction, hyperlinks embedded directly in your text is very useful since Kindle includes basic web function. If you use this feature however I’d warn readers somewhere at the book’s front matter that navigating away to the websites may slow their device.

Acceptable formats

KDP accepts the following file formats for upload:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • Adobe (.pdf)
  • HTML (.htm or .html)
  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Zipped HTML (.zip) – useful for HTML documents with images
  • Mobi (.mobi or .prc) – Mobipocket file

Word and Adobe seem to be the most commonly used file formats, although Mac Pages is up and coming. Plain text (.txt) once uploaded allows you to preview the document before saving. Amazon does recommend you upload the work in a single HTML file. If unfamiliar with that process, you can use the “Save As” function and choose the HTML format. When using Plain Text, remember that Kindle will automatically re-size and re-order the text. Amazon recommends using little formatting in text files and even using as few hard returns, or hard line breaks, as possible. In my experience, I shy away from using PDF. Amazon does not guarantee the conversion quality of PDFs.

Graphics and images

For most writers this will primarily concern cover art and back cover art. However there are a number of authors who choose to include graphics within the book itself. Fantasy is a prime example. Many authors will upload a chapter heading graphic, such as a House coat of arms or a themed graphic.

Kindle will allow the following graphic formats:

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group or JPEG
  • Bitmap or BMP
  • Graphic Interchange Format or GIF
  • Portable Networks Graphic or PNG

Cover images however can only be in TIFF or JPEG format.

Always remember rights when selecting art and illustrations for your book. Some authors will use images found on the internet, but I caution against that. Unless you have downloaded the content with a full rights release from a reliable source, stick to images you’ve created or purchased (again examining the usage rights you are entitled to). Remember that just because you’ve purchased artwork does not mean you have full use of it.

Basic image formatting guidelines
  • Imagines larger than 450 by 550 pixels will be resized
  • Image files must be 64kb or smaller with aspect ratio of 9 to 11
  • Increase an image’s sharpness slightly but not too much
  • For a full-page image on Kindle, resize it to 450px by 550px

Book covers

Well, what is there to say about this except…your book needs one. Unless you have some considerable skill in graphic design, you should hire a professional cover designer. I know many of you are thinking But I can’t afford that! No fear, there are dozens of professional cover art sites with stock cover arts you can use. I particularly enjoy SelfPub Book Covers. Inexpensive, a large portfolio you can select by genre or surf by artist, and they pull the cover art out of rotation once it is purchased, guaranteeing you a unique cover.

Upload and preview

With these few tips you are well on your way to formatting your book properly and uploading it into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). All that is left is to try the upload and preview the document, from start to finish, to make sure there aren’t any discernible issues. If there are, identify them and go back to your document to double check. Then simply repeat. Do this as many times as possible ensure your upload is a professional quality as possible. Keep in mind that people will not only judge you on your writing and marketing abilities, they will also judge your work on its quality of appearance.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                           

Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 2 Pre-Release

Photo: Notebook with checklist and hand checking off the list.

The countdown is getting close! Are you able to breathe? Hopefully with the homework we’ve laid out in Months 6, 5, 4, 3 of the pre-release plan, the only nervousness you feel is the excitement of your new book almost ready for a booming and successful start! This month is all about “priming the pump” so to speak for advance sales.

This month we’re going to concentrate on:

  • Article directories
  • Press Releases
  • “Push” pages

Article Directories

Remember that in order to catch peoples’ attention, you have to be visible. The best way for a writer to increase their visibility (not to mention increase inbound links to their website, therefore increasing search engine results) is to have name recognition everywhere. That means contributing articles online. You can easily capitalize on any membership sites you belong to. Doing so increases your membership’s community library and helps establish yourself as an expert. (Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be about writing or publishing. Any expertise can be linked back to your website, which will promote your book when it releases.)

There are also a number of articles directory sites. Articles directories are super easy ways for your articles to find their way into blogs, newsletters, and other sites. With these directories, you retain full attribution and gain links to your websites. Posting your articles for free is sometimes the quickest way to have people pick up on your material for redistribution among their blog, newsletter, or website. While the effort won’t be directly compensated, the exposure to different networks can be amazing. Most directories allow you to track your articles so you can ensure the poster does properly attribute you and provide a link to your information (like your website, book link on Amazon, etc). Sometimes your articles can even end up in publications around the world, increasing your visibility and establishing your expert status.

If you’re like me, the thought of writing “how-to” articles as a fiction writer was daunting. But, as you can see, as a writer, no matter that genre, you are an expert in writing, at the very least. From my own trials and errors (many, many errors!! Oy vey!) I learned how to market myself and my books better, and a lesson learned is something that can written and submitted!


Press Releases

All right, the time has come to put together your book’s press release. I recommend completing on main release, then all you need to do is tweak the first paragraph a bit here and there for other releases. The “tweaking” allows you to tailor it specifically for types of publications you want to target.

But I’m a fiction writer! you’re thinking. No worries. So am I, but a press release is easy. Think of it as backwards storytelling. In fiction we start with the broad and tailor down to the specifics. In press release writing, we start with the specifics and supply the filler information. So your “who, where, when, what, and why” information is at the top. Make sure to include a headline and lead sentence to “hook” the readers, just like you did when writing your back blurb. (Example: New Book Provides Step-By-Step Book Marketing to Authors). Don’t make the mistake of focusing on you as the author (example: BC Brown Launches New Marketing Book). The writer isn’t as important in the headline as catching the reader’s attention. The first sentence needs to hook the reader with what is new, original, or hmmm….weird about your book. Then hit ’em with the book title, release date, publisher, and author name. Head into the next paragraph with a one-line recap of the book’s content. The best is if you can focus on how to book solves a problem or introduces a useful process. If the book is fiction, then you need to highlight how your book is different or original from the others on the marketing, and your one-line recap should be a plot summary. Then add on your credentials.

You head into the next paragraph with any special launch events, media appearances, and book tour signings. Don’t forget to give accolades to your publisher or distributor (if you have one). I tend to give my editor a little shout out here also. Definitely include how your book is available – online, in bookstores, and/or through your website. If self published, it’s best to not mention that fact. It’s unfortunate and unfair but a lot of stigma is still tied to self publishing. Although many indie authors are making strides toward bettering the image in quality of work and expertise, it isn’t quite there yet.

Last paragraph should include your website information, push page (which we will discuss next), and contact information so interested stores or media outlets can follow up with you. Successful press releases are limited to around 200-300 words. Keep sentences short, use active verbs, and keep the focus on what the book delivers for the reader, not on the book itself. Your credentials should always show how your experiences is beneficial to the reader. Make sure to double-check for typos. You wouldn’t believe how many press releases have come across my desk with errors in the email or phone number for an author – yikes! (A useful hint is to read your press release backwards, starting at the bottom of the document and reading it one line at a time to the top. The break in continuity will keep your brain from “filling in the known gaps” and glaring errors should present clearer.)

Traditional media outlets are still sticklers for what they consider “professional submission guidelines.” And let’s face it, the traditional media outlets still dominate the landscape for news. Make sure you follow the traditional press release format. Here is the example I used for my novel, A Touch of Darkness:



CONTACT: Glorious Bastards Press 555-555-5555

A Touch of Darkness Revitalizes Gritty Noir with Dark Humor, Realistic Police Procedural, and Touching Humanity

     Mattoon, IL—A Touch of Darkness, An Abigail St Michael Novel, the newest title by fantasy author BC Brown, catapults into the modern-day, alternative reality of mysticism and madness with Abigail St Michael, former cop and psychic consultant.

A Touch of Darkness opens in the midnight world of psychics and serial killers with the death of a child, washed in the shadows of night and the alternating red and whites of police lights. Abbey St Michael is forced to confront an evil on her doorstep that may be closer than she ever realized. With her unique brand of dark humor and sarcastic wit, she struggles to catch a killer while not getting caught herself.

BC Brown’s first work, the dark fantasy Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows and published under the pen name BB Walter, burst onto the sci-fi/fantasy scene first as short fiction and then expanded by request of fans for a full-length printing. Sister Light then went on to repeated sold out signings while on book tour and earned high praise from reviewers and readers alike. In A Touch of Darkness, Brown has brought all the sweeping vision of epic fantasy to contemporary paranormal mystery with an added noir grittiness and realism evident in its market pre-sales.

A Touch of Darkness is published by Glorious Bastards Press, a new author collaborative imprint. The Abigail St Michael Novels are distributed in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster. Learn more at

When submitting your press release make sure to embed it in the body of your email. Do not attach it as a document. Understandably reporters are uneasy about opening attachments for fear of viruses. Many firewalls are built to keep out attachments for that reason. You should always include a personal note to the correspond in an effort to build personal relationships. Keep it brief however. I usually start with a line or two about one of their recent articles I’ve read. Just remember to be sincere, actually read the article. Then wrap it up with a polite note asking their consideration for your release.

Don’t forget about all the paid and free press release distribution services. The paid ones range in price. I’ve seen them go from inexpensive to costly, depending on their presence and distribution, plus bonuses that can be added. I’ve used PR Newswire in the past. Free sources I like to use are OpenPR and 24-7PressRelease. There are numerous others, and I suggest doing a little websurfing to see one that fits you best.

Why press releases? Every release that gets picked up online will drive traffic to your website and the push page we’re about to discuss. It also helps boost search engine results, creates buzz about your book, and builds visibility about you as an expert. Don’t forget to use your press release when emailing bookstores too. Their PR person will be able to use it in their marketing when setting you up for book signings and events. Always notify media personally of events when you’re going to be in the area as well. And don’t forget about capitalizing on the “homegrown” aspect – let local professional association publications, alumni magazines, community event publications – know about your book and who you are. You’re a celebrity now!

Push Pages

A push page is an industry term that allows for online pre-sales of your book. This can be done even if you are self publishing by creating a pre-order button on your website.

Most commonly used in non-fiction, push pages are becoming popular in genre fiction work as well. Typically push pages (for fiction) use pre-ordering by offering bonus materials, such as a short story in the same genre etc. It can be anything really (audio recordings, swag, etc) from the author. The point is an incentive to commit to and purchase the book prior to its launch. Another fun way to market (and grow your audience and author network) is to ask other authors to cross promote with you. You can ask them to offer an excerpt or downloadable chapter, article, discount (anything) to your launch. Just remember that you want similar content without competing messages. This can work especially well if you and an author friend have opposite publication schedules. Also, ensure you have a way to fulfill the cross-promoted material (or the material you are providing) so everyone gets what you’ve promised.

To recap: this month you should be working on article directories and submissions to them, press releases to be sent out, and push pages for pre-release sales. If you haven’t yet, you should make sure you have bookmarks, business cards, posters, and book “fliers” designed and ordered. Send out your press releases and review copies. Contact bookstores to schedule those important signings. Start scheduling conventions and conferences for speaking opportunities and signings.

During all of this, make sure you update your spreadsheet with notes as to who you’ve contacted, when, and responses received. This includes media, reviewers, and book stores. Make notes about personality, outcomes, and overall experience. You can work with those who are willing to work with you instead of against you by keeping accurate notes. And it will save you a lot of time in the future! I also consider what “swag” I will be giving away at future events. In the beginning, I suggest keeping it small: bookmark with some type of giveaway (I suggest a short story download), maybe pens or magnets, candy). Keep it simple and small at first. Find ways to tie it to you or your book when possible.

Okay, well that wraps up your 2 month pre-release. You are well on your way to a successful launch if you’ve followed the steps laid out. Remember, by following each of these little by little you save yourself a lot of last minute stressing and initials sales that may be discouraging, to say the least.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.

Free Book: Second Chance Love by Jennifer Labelle

Who Wants a FREE Book?
Have I got your attention yet? J
I’m please to let you all know that my novel, Second Chance Love, will be FREE on Amazon this Saturday May 17th and Sunday May 18thso please don’t be shy, SPREAD THE WORD.
 I’d like to thank everyone for joining me here, and I hope you enjoy it! *coughs* Don’t forget, I’m always up for some new reviews too. If you have the time that is, in the meantime please check out the blurb and excerpt below and get your very own copy today before time runs out! J
Book blurb:
Goody, goody Teegan Hallowell was tired of being teased for following the rules. So, when her brother’s sexy friend shows an interest, she rebels, and learns all about the good kind of bad.
Now ten years later, Teegan returns home to escape a horrible mistake, but wonders if she’s made an even bigger one by returning. There was a reason she left Digby, when her dreams shattered and the man she loved betrayed her. So when she realizes she’s still in love with him, matters become complicated when he reveals her reason for leaving him was all in vain.
Liam Bates has every intention of loving Teegan again, but she’s had it rough and he needs to rebuild her trust.  The spark is still there, and as they explore what once was, their love is tested when Teegan disappears, and Liam will stop at nothing until he finds her again. 
Jagged rocks aligned across the coastline. The moist salty air was refreshing, and the tide slowly rose against the Fundy Shore. It was good to be home again. Teegan sat on the fallen tree trunk, and tried to capture the beauty of the scenery with her sketch pad.
She hadn’t been there in years and the beauty of it still captivated her. This secluded patch of beach once belonged to Liam’s family and she wondered if it still did. Seeing Liam again brought so much back to her, that she just needed a place to unwind, and some of her most precious memories belonged right where she was.
Smiling, she turned up her iPod and sang along to the lyrics of Shinedown’s Breaking Inside, relating to the lyrics. Subconsciously, she ended up adding a boy and his father fishing right where she sat into the picture. Liam! Why can’t I seem to let you go?Sighing, she almost fell off the log and into the water. Her heart raced, and adrenaline pumped as she wondered who in the Lord’s name snuck up on her like that.
Large arms wrapped around her, pulling her close as his heat enveloped her senses. He was the one man in the entire world who could make her weak in the knees by just being in close proximity to her. The one man she was trying to avoid. Too afraid of her emotions. Oh Lord, he smells so good. Get it together, Teeg. You don’t even know him anymore.
“Liam?” She sounded breathless and winced turning away. She could not let him see how he affected her, could not risk losing her heart again. It hurt too much.
“Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to sneak up on someone like that? Geez, you just about gave me a heart attack not to mention an unwanted swim.” Placing a hand to her heart she turned to face him again only to have the urge to smother his smile with her lips. He was beautiful, and she missed the taste of him.
“It’s good to see you too.” He chuckled, “And there is no way I would have let you fall in. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that this is private property?”
She could tell by the glint in his eye he was only teasing, and she hated how easily he could make her smile. As if, she was eighteen all over again. “Ya, but you see, I used to know one of the owners of said property very well. I have many fond memories here, and I just had to see if it was as remarkable as I remembered it.”
“Well is it?” His face turned serious as he closed the distance between them.
With his closeness distracting her she whispered, “Is it what?”
Before she knew it his head was lowering and her breathing turned rapid. Be careful what you wish for. She could feel his breath against her and all she could think about was the taste of his lips on hers. Soft, plump, and delectable…
Author bio:
Author contact links:
Best wishes,
Jennifer Labelle

Research = Pound Head Here

There are few words despised by writers.  I mean, we make our stock and trade in words. So how can we possibly dislike any of them, right?  Wrong.  Words are powerful creatures that can often times when used properly strike more mortal fear into people than any action ever could.  Writers are no different.  While we generally pride ourselves on wielding those words against others, there are several words that cause us to shudder, cringe, and, down right, cower.  A shudder-worthy word: EDIT – it makes all our shoulders slump and a quiver of dread creep up our spines; a cringe-worthy word: RE-WRITES – it makes just about every writer’s hands tremble; and a truly heinous word that is cower-worthy: RESEARCH – this is a word we hear and want to run and hide beneath the covers on our beds, praying the big, bad monster waiting doesn’t gobble us down.

Research is one of the hardest jobs of being a writer.  Ideas we generally have loads of.  Whether or not those ideas are cohesive, interesting, or important is another matter.  But we have the ideas is the important part.  Writing the ideas isn’t even hard.  (I know, I know, we writers bitch and moan complain frequently about how our jobs and, yes, they are jobs to all you fuckheads out there who think that writing isn’t a job because it doesn’t support us on a full-time basis are not easy and that, if they were, everyone would come out with novels every year, thus making “writing” somewhat less of an art form.)  Editing, while a serious pain in the ass undertaking is difficult, it isn’t all that hard either.  But research is knowing who to trust your precious, thousands of man hours spent, delicate baby to hold, cherish, and nurture as their own as well as yours.

In this increasingly growing market of scam publishers, shady agents, and capitalistic editors, knowing who a writer can trust is something akin to navigating one’s way through a landmine field.  Doing your own research, knowing how and where to look for motherfucker bad publishers and agents, and putting all the pieces of the million-piece jigsaw puzzle together is almost an overwhelming task for writers.  I, personally, know six writers who have, at minimum, one manuscript completed apiece, but they have those locked away in drawers, too frightened to get caught up in a scam deal with a royality-clenching publisher or a fee-gouging editing house.  Having been caught in a scam deal myself, I can say that I don’t blame them for this attitude.  I know I had the same thing after my first fucking tragic bad publishing contract.

The good news, however, about being a writer in the 21st century is the wealth of information available to us.  As writers we don’t shy away from popping on the ol’ internet to reference a thesaurus because we’ve used the word “throb” too many times in a single sex scene, and we don’t hesitate to cross check our spelling on either.  So why is it that when it comes to researching potential publishers or agents for our work that we are suddenly at a loss for using our technology?  Come on, we have a sea of information beneath our fingertips or, at least, we do as long as the government stays out of our business and upholds our Constituational right to free speech but that’s another rant entirely ripe for the picking.  Instead most writers sit there staring their choosen browser screen with a vacant but seriously confused look of panic on their faces.

If you read my blog and my ego is big enough to believe that EVERYONE reads my blog, hahaha, as everyone should, I’m reminding writers that we make our livings well, some of us rom putting our fingers to keys and using words.  There is nothing keeping us from using the same motion, utlizing our creative with words themselves, to locate and research ALL potential publishers or agents who come across your desktop/attention.  There are   simple ways to do this:

  1. Check – this is a highly recommended site for getting agent and publisher information and checking their initial validity.
  2. Web search the name of the publisher or agent you’re looking at and then type words like: “lawsuits,” “issues,” “problems,” etc.  Come one, people, we know words! Think of some good ones to seek out and destroy those scammers with BEFORE you sign a contract with them. With my first contract, I sure wish I had!
  3. Find the authors of the publishing house or agent you’re looking at and ask.  Open your mouth and ask a question or twelve.  If the author is happy with who they’re working with, they’ll, more than likely, be happy to let you know what good people they are; if they aren’t…well, I’m sure they’ll be happy to let you know that, too.
  4. Follow book/publishing blogs.  There are a ton of these.  Most of them only offer reviews of books coming out, but some also feature “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” lists from time to time; or they give helpful insights and tips on how to find out more about a particular publisher/agent.

Now, I know there will be a lot of rumors circulating that, since I wrote this blog, I’m somehow dissatisfied with my current agent/editor/publisher.  I’ll state it plainly: I’m not.  I chose to write this article today because, in the last four months, I have been approached by eight writers all wearing the dumbfounded expression on their faces of “Where do I begin?”  I gave them these steps as I give them here to you. 

But the big thing I tell everyone who asks is this: Do you check up on a doctor, mechanic, hairstylist, dog groomer, etc. before you use them?  Then why aren’t you checking up on your publisher/agent?  The principle is just the same.  You care about your writing, don’t make the same mistake many of us do in the beginning get lax and entrust it to someone who is just out to make a quick buck.  Take care of your baby and, one day, maybe your baby will be taking care of you.

Keep reading; Keep dreaming. -b

B.C. Brown
A Touch of Madness (Spring 2012), A Touch of Darkness (Fall 2010), Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (Summer 2007), and contributing author, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (Fall 2011)

It’s the Final Countdown!!

Fuck me.  A deadline looms – omnipresent and depressing.  There is nothing quite like the act of completing a work in progress (hereby referred to as WIP).  Satiating, fulfilling, pretty much damn near orgasmic.  Then again, there is nothing else simultaneous to that fan-fucking-tastic sensation of completing the WIP like the soul-crushing oblivion that is THE DEADLINE.


Writers the world around, throughout time and space, face this daunting giant with every project.  Some face it in a matter of weeks, some in a matter of months, and others in a matter of years, but, regardless of rank, every writer runs across THE DEADLINE.

Help me!

There are two types of deadlines:

1) the typically considered, Publisher Deadline. – This deadline can be particularly stressful to the writer.  As authors we as in most of us, that is challenge ourselves to start, work, and complete a project by a certain date.  We have a “time frame” in mind for publication of the book.  Sometimes this time frame is verbalized to others; often times, we keep our big fat mouths shut because we don’t want to worry about disappointing future/existing fans.  The Publisher’s Deadline, however, is scary because, on top of the pressure to complete a project and get it out there, we now have a contractual legal obligation to put down the fucking telly remote and pick up a pen, under penalty of – gulp – lawyers.


2) the less often considered – Personal Deadline. – This is the shittiest deadline any author can face.  For a first time author, this deadline can be a “non” issue.  Friends and families (while they continually support fledgling writers – well,most of the time), I believe, don’t actually expect a writer to come up with a finished product for publication.  The notion of their lil cousin or lil niece being “a writer” is quaint and, possibly, mention-worthy.  But, in actuality, they don’t anticipate anything to come of it.  THEN the lil cousin or lil niece does finish; they even publish!  That’s a whole new ballpark for the (still) fledgling writer.  However, this fledgling writer now has a book credit to their name.  Ppl (publishers, editors, agents, family, friends, and – gulp – fans) have expectations to be met.  The self-imposed Personal Deadline for “the next” WIP can be the worst for writers.  I mean, it sucks to be sued.  But you don’t live with lawyers every day.  You see your family, your friends, your – gulp – fans in your daily life.  And they are watching, waiting.

So what does a writer do when faced with THE DEADLINE?  You do what you always do as a writer: shut your mouth, stick your nose in the WIP, and write, dammit.  When friends are partying, you write; when family go on vacation, you write; when Medusa Women from Mars collect taxes at your front door, you write!  This is what we do.  Many fledgling idealistic, moronic, dreamer writers think that creativity is spontaneous, an act of kindness.  <—rolls eyes.  When in reality it is an act of sheer force, of determination, will, and (most importantly) effort to create a work of art.  The true writer depends on inspiration and creativity less than 10% of their entire career (and, I would say, this inspiration is 8% coming up with the idea, 1% directed inspiration, and 1% other shit possible divine intervention).  90%, however, that is left is the author working the idea of, plotting the outline, figuring out correct POV, determining alliteration, feeding/weaving subplots, grammar checking, spell checking, punctuation nazi-ing…and the list goes on.

The question then becomes: Is writing worth the headache of THE DEADLINE?  If you have to ask that then you’ve never had a toe-curling, back-arching, hair-raising, completely-satisified-to-the-balls-of-your-feet orgasm, and it can’t be explained to you or answered for you.  You. Just. Don’t. Get. It.  And you probably never will.  Me, on the otherhand?  Well, THE DEADLINE approacheth for my latest WIP soon.  And that all-too familiar and awaited ache has taken up residence in my soul again.  Am I going to make THE DEADLINE?  For that soul-refreshing, reality-skewing, make-me-feel-like-I’m-ten-feet-tall-and-made-of-ooey-gooey-squishy-stuff feeling…You bet your sweet ass I am. 😉 b

B.C. Brown
Author of A Touch of Darkness (available now), contributor of Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction (available now) and author of Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (under pen name B.B. Walter and available now)

The Single Most Way Writers Sabotage Themselves

What do writers do? We write; we sculpt and mold words into breathtaking displays of art that will, hopefully, endear themselves to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world.

How do writers do this? We touch fingertips to keypads, or scratch and mar clean, white sheets of paper with ink or graphite sticks; we lay down line after line of scratchy, spidery letters or pound out digitally-formed words until letters transmogrify into ruthless villains, romantic love interests, or thrilling action sequences.

What keeps a writer from doing all this?  Our own Big. Fat. Mouths. 

Whaaat, B.C.?!

I’ve been in the writing game a lot of years (don’t let my youthful face fool you).  I was picking up a pencil to write before I even understood rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling properly. But those things, while important when being published, aren’t all that terribly important while writing. What is important are the stories – the words being put down on the paper.

A great thing happens to writers when they get a story idea. I’m not saying it’s the same for all of us, but I know quite a few writers, and they all agree, the initial reaction to a story is very similar: we wake up in the middle of the night/wake up in the middle of the day/wake up from our boring desk job/wake up from sitting in traffic with screaming kids in the back seat/wake up from whatever boring-ass instance is your regular life at that moment to a fantastic vision unfolding before your inner movie theater like a delicate flower opening for a spring shower. You fly/drive/walk/snatch at your notebook/netbook/desktop and write furiously, trying your best to describe the scene blooming before your mind’s eye as it whips by at lightning speed. Your brain’s synapses go off in one great firework show of electrical activity, and you feel you could solve the world’s problems in those moments, but all you care about is the scene and people in your imagination – nothing else exists. And then the world melts away and only your world remains. And, after the orgasmic surge of creativity, the scene before you begins to fade out, the pulse jumping in your neck slows, and the world returns to you in all it’s dull black-and-whiteness.  You’re left spent, exhausted, and euphoric.  And, like any other act that sends you spiraling to the heights of pleasure, you want it all back.

Sounds great, right?  It’s fan-fucking-tastic, let me tell you.  This initial response to writing is not what screws up writers, however. As you can see, it’s fairly primal – the urge overcomes us and takes over our lives for a short time.  What fucks over the average writer time and time again is what happens AFTER that initial surge tapers off.  

Enter our Big. Fat. Mouths.

It’s human nature to want to share with others anything that makes us giddy and euphoric, causes us enough intense satisfaction that we are bursting from the residual feeling of it.  This need to share with others is what starts writers on their road to ruin, as I like to call it.

Words are a writers stock and trade.  Specifically, putting words onto paper is our stock and trade.  When we open our mouths and start “talking” about our projects, we release beautiful words into the ether that we can’t get back.  Sometimes, these small releases are tiny, tiny leaks, barely noticeable.  They may be hints on Twitter or Facebook or any social network like “Researching…Anyone know about poisons?” or “What do you prefer for romances, 1st person or 3rd person POV?”  I call these small leaks “balloon squeaks.”  If you pull the lip of the balloon tight and let it slack for the smallest moment, the balloon makes the faintest of squeaks.  Not a lot of air lost, right? So no big deal.

The second time we open our big fat mouths is to simply mention, to a friend/colleague/whatever, what we’re working on.   This happens most often in social circles.  We go out to lunch with a fellow writer, or maybe just someone who takes an active interest in our writing (yes, those people DO exist fellow writers), and the conversation turns to what you’re doing at the moment.  “Oh well, I’m working on this new idea for a western romance.  It’s about the guy who…”  I call this leak “slow-steady-and-maintained.”  This is the type of leak that has a short term, finite lifespan; we’re only going to describe it, but not go into too many details.  Definitely more words lost here, but it’s only a book blurb so who cares?

The third time, and probably the near-death of the stories we write, is what happens when we need to “brain storm” an idea.  This is the hardest and trickiest time of writing, in this writer’s opinion.  This instance happens when we’ve been good little boys and girls, kept our mouths shut and our fingers to the keypad, and written our little hearts out.  BUT, for whatever reason, the story stagnates or we find ourselves written into a corner, and we reach out for moral support and/or guidance to help us re-achieve the fleeing euphoria we had in such abundance.  Because who doesn’t want to live life in an orgasmic state?!  

Talking about a story, brain storming it so to speak, can be exactly what the author needs to get their tale jump-started and back to full steam.  It can also be the devastating force that kills a story, and there is a fine line between the two.  Like with anything, a subject can be talked to death.  This is where an author overtalks and overthinks the story, trying to talk out every detail, iron out every wrinkle, before they begin writing or re-writing.  Talk about killing an idea.  I mean, why would you want to sit down to write it afterwards?  You’ve already written the story once, albeit it verbalized form, so why do it again; nobody likes to work twice as hard for one reward.  This type of leak is called the “dam breaker.”  The story floods out in a gush and gets soaked into the surrounding area instead of into the paper/screen where it needs to be.

By brain storming, however, verbally, an author can jump-start a derailed storyline because they gain valuable insight from others.  This is the old adage that nobody sees all of the angles, all of the time.  It’s very much true of writing.  We know our stories inside and out, know every crook and cranny, every ledge and crack….BUT we may have overlooked or missed something because we were too focused on the main storyline or the main characters.  This has personally happened to me; I spent so long focusing on the main character in my story, I’d overlooked a key support character who had an awesome opportunity to unlock the whole story and open a separate, rich storyline within the story, making it richer and better for it’s layers.  When a writer can use this brain storming effectively, it’s still a leak.  However, an object that becomes over-pressurized can often develop a useful leak, letting off just enough steam to make it “safe” again.  This kind of leak I like to call “the Regulator.”  It keeps the work in progress at an even keel.

What the author has to realize is happening, and know how to effectively control, is the level of leak they have.  A “balloon squeaker” isn’t harmful, can generate interest among fans, and can garner some much needed input (such as research information); the “slow-and-steady-and-maintained” is most often used to elicit stimulus of the fan-base, and can whip followers into a frenzy for an upcoming project (but be careful to use this type of leak effectively, don’t whip your fan base into a frenzy ten months before the project can even be completed).  Using “the Regulator” to keep a story rolling when it begins to feel flaccid is great, but know what this type of verbal brain storm is a slippery slope.  An author can and will find themselves the victims of a “dam breaker” in short time if they don’t learn to harness their Big. Fat. Mouth.

Happy writing!

B.C. Brown
published in Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction and author of A Touch of Darkness