A World of Silence: How ‘Deaf’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

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Photo is from The Princess Bride movie. The character is Inigo Montoya, a swarthy man of Spanish heritage with chin-length brown hair, brown eyes, and a brown mustache. The caption reads: You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

 

I am Deaf. But I can hear. At least, I can hear some frequencies, slightly muted, about 50% of the time with my Lyric implants (inner ear canal implants that are inserted by a doctor quarterly) and about 30% of the time, muted and choppy, without my implants.

Technically, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) I am profoundly hard of hearing. My condition is degenerative however, so in a few short years I will be legally deaf under the ADA definition.

Why am I telling you this? For understanding and to clear the air about a few common misconceptions as to what being deaf means – for realsies. ‘Deaf’ is a two-fold word implying both a state of different ability (like Michael Jordan is differently-abled than, say, your average high school basketballer) and a culture and community identification (think about nationality or ethnic heritage pride).

My differently-abled definition is profoundly hard of hearing, as I retain some hearing capacity. My culture and community identification is Deaf.

I interact with the speaking/hearing world a great deal of the time. It’s hard to lecture a room of speaking-inclined authors using only American Sign Language (ASL). Well, I could but what would be the point? Also I commute via bus and bicycle often. While hearing is not a requirement at all for doing that, it does make the commutes a smidgen easier (asking questions if you’re in an unfamiliar place and need directions for example) and safer (hearing a car horn blaring behind you because they’re about to careen into the bicycling lane for example).

Since I grew up speaking and hearing (my degenerative disorder didn’t start being noticeable until my teenage years), my speech is fine, I still enjoy music (based in large part more on my remembering what the music sounds like than what is being translated by my implants), and interacting frequently and largely with the speaking/hearing world. Living in both worlds doesn’t bother me. Until…someone makes one of the asinine comments that make me have to take two slow breaths and then launch into instruction mode.

 

You’re deaf? But you speak so well.

There is nothing a Deaf person can’t do that anyone else can do, except hear within “normative” ranges. Those of us who choose to interact with the speaking/hearing world and choose to speak take great pains to make sure we do effectively communication. In my case, I didn’t have to learn how to make recognizable sounds; I just have to maintain them. That means, like many Deaf people, speech lessons.

 

You’re deaf? You act like you can hear!

Can someone explain to me how a person acts like they can hear? Does my head perk up or my ears twitch like an animal? This one frustrates me quite a bit, but I try to remember that not everyone can tell when they’ve encountered a Deaf person. What I try to remind people is that I have implants that give me some range of hearing. Although in a few years I won’t even have that luxury. I try to remind them that being and identifying Deaf is not dependent on a total lack of sound.

 

You’re deaf? Can you teach me sign?

Yes but probably not. Do I teach my friends some ASL? Some of them. The ones who seem genuinely interested in communicating with me more effectively and who are compassionate enough to realize that sometimes hearing communication is hard on me. But they have to show a real commitment to it. I’m not a “cool new trick” or a free class at the Y. Sign is a very real part of my life, and like any language it (and those of us who use it) deserves to be respected.

 

Basically those are the top three statements that I find frustrating. I know it’s a simple matter of people not understanding or being aware of what it means to be Deaf. It’s a matter of limited perception. It doesn’t make it any less annoying, but it does cut down on the sarcastic or biting responses I give.

A woman with red hair styled into a sleeked back pompadour. She sits, leaning her face on her left hand near the temple. She is wearing a silver, antique choker chain with an antique locked of Celtic design. She has on a black and white Houndstooth vest. There is bright sunlight streaming in through a glass door behind her. She smiles faintly, and has green eyes.BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed A woman with red hair styled into a sleeked back pompadour. She sits, leaning her face on her left hand near the temple. She is wearing a silver, antique choker chain with an antique locked of Celtic design. She has on a black and white Houndstooth vest. There is bright sunlight streaming in through a glass door behind her. She smiles faintly, and has green eyes.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)
Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

Coming Soon: Karaoke Jane

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From The Writer’s Pack: Meet My Inspiration

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I am an animal lover. It’s true. The first “people” I meet when I visit someone’s house or go to a party are the animals. I spend a good deal of time with each, learning their names, greeting them slowly and gently. It actually distresses me when an animal doesn’t seem to like me, while I couldn’t care less when most humans don’t like me.

So, even though there is nothing “writerly educational” in this post, I want everyone to meet my constant inspirations: the Cat, the Old Lady, and the Shepherd, my writer’s pack.

Very dark grey cat with big, round green eyes. The cat is still young, a kitten, with medium long fur. It is crouched on a black table edge. The cat is looking up, as if hunting. It wears a bright purple harness. A tiny dog with reddish fur, a face full of white fur from years of age, and big brown eyes lays on a cool linoleum floor next to a black carpet. The dog's head is laid down with its chin on the floor. Although it appears drowsy, its ears are big and pointed straight up, like it hears everything. A German Shepherd mixed dog lays down on a cool lineolium floor. The animal is black and brown with a white neck and chest, belly and legs. Its head is held high, alert, with its ears perked, eyes scanning. It pants lightly, its tongue out.

 

My animals write with me, they hike with me, they are there for me every bit as much as the stories are there for me. When I don’t want to get out of bed and stare at the screen, my pack is there with gentle nudges, cold noses, and warm hearts (and sometimes a much-needed claw for added incentive).

So, like I said, nothing writerly or educational in this post. Just my sharing my animals with the world.

 

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed A woman with red hair styled into a sleeked back pompadour. She sits, leaning her face on her left hand near the temple. She is wearing a silver, antique choker chain with an antique locked of Celtic design. She has on a black and white Houndstooth vest. There is bright sunlight streaming in through a glass door behind her. She smiles faintly, and has green eyes.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)
Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

Coming Soon: Karaoke Jane

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

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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:

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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 www.bcbrownbooks.com.


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.
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Why I Help the Homeless

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I didn’t grow up in a family that had causes. I was taught from an early age that you took care of yourself first, and then you helped others when and where you could. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that helping others was taking care of myself.

#SandwichesInParks 
 
I work with several non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona that assist people experiencing homelessness. Many of those non-profits are a mixture of groups that provide services like meals on Sunday and a few nights a week or large outreach events once a month on Saturdays or Sundays.
 
One such group called Hope 4 Phoenix began providing meals for homeless individuals on Sundays and Wednesdays. Using leftovers from those meal, they started distributing sandwiches to people struggling with homelessness in downtown Phoenix popular areas for homeless to frequent. Phoenix homeless advocate Mike Atanasio saw the need to expand the meal service to a full 7 nights-a-week. He coordinated local food banks to provide ingredients for soup (in the winter) and items for sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly for the yummy win!).
 
Along Came BC
 
Mike handles several dozen outreach projects and events for the Arizona Friends of Homeless network. His advocacy is full time – morning, noon and night, including the middle of the night at times. When he decided to tackle the task of expanding the meal service to 7 nights-a-week, I asked to participate. And decided to make it a “thing.” Because someone in marketing doesn’t know how to do anything without first figuring out how to brand it, even a soft brand. #SandwichesInParks 
#SandwichesInParks
BC Brown and fellow author C.A. Wilke helps people experiencing homelessness in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
The program is intended to provide a basic meal (soup and a sandwich), perhaps a warm blanket during the cold season, to those in need on the streets and in the parks of downtown Phoenix. However as I went out each week, the overwhelming cry for more items, such as hygiene, towels, and socks, became louder and louder. I put out the call and people responded with an abundance of compassion and supplies.
 
Coordinating donation efforts from local, statewide and even multi-state resources, #SandwichesInParks has grown from providing a single cup of soup, a sandwich, and a blanket to providing a cup of soup with dipping bread; a full sack lunch with peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, a snack item, fruit, and a piece of candy; a beverage; and assorted hygiene and feminine hygiene products, as well as socks, shoes, clothing, and towels and washcloths (all as donated).
 
But what’s more are the changes in the faces of the people I see every week. Some few of them eyed me warily when I first started. Now I’m on a first name basis with many, chatting weekly about their lives. Instead of woes and sadness, these people tell me of prospects and hopes; they smile instead of grimacing.
 
I know what I do weekly isn’t a solution to homelessness. I know it isn’t sustainable in the long term and it is only one small local effort to help. But in a world where people often get too wrapped up in the big picture, it’s enough for me to take a closer, hands-on approach to dealing with a topic that is important to me. 1) it makes me feel good, and 2) it helps my community.
 
Who knows? In time my efforts might be duplicated in other areas. Or maybe someone will come up with a better idea of helping. In the mean time, I’ll keep driving my truck around and handing out #SandwichesInParks among other necessities.
 
 
@BCBrownBooksBC 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.
 
BooksA Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane                  

 
 
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Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 3 Pre-Release

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Let’s get ready to rumble!

Okay, we’ve covered what to do in months 6, 5, and 4 prior to book release. We’re halfway toward your release day. In this post you should start to see all the hard work you’ve put in so far pay off. This month, we’ll focus on: 

  • Website content creation
  • Blogging schedule
  • Utilizing social media for pre-launch excitement
  • Mailing out review copies

Content, baby!

All knowledge is worth having.” (Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey)

Knowledge is one of the most valuable resources in today’s world. As a writer, that is especially applicable to you. Every time you write, you turn what you know into content for others to consume. A good writer knows how to go one step beyond their book however. But don’t worry about having to do a ton more work. You can take what you already know – how to write – and repurpose it into content. For example, I’m using my own marketing fumbles, bumbles, and jumbles to help you take an easier path while on the road to book marketing. In the end, it’s

Author Book Marketing Plan, Month 3 by BC Brown @BCBrownBooks - Photo Credit: Eric Rothermel. Source: Unsplash

a win-win for us both. You get the benefit of my knowledge, and I get you reading my blog and learning a little bit more about me and my writing.

 
I’m bloggin’ it! Your website and subsequent blog are amazing opportunities for you. Combined with social media, you get to share your expertise with the world. Using your website and blog to put out valuable content is important. It’s makes you more than just a spammy spammer shouting “Buy my book!” at everyone. Think of it like this, your book is like your business card to the world. It tells people you’re here and you write. Your website and blog are your pitch, which you should remember from Month 4 Pre-Release. The media pitch is your chance to sell not only the story but yourself as an expert as well.
 
Your website is also a great place to offer readers a “sneak peek” at your book. Offer them a free chapter to get them hooked on your story. I mean, a little honey goes a long way. You can include interviews, a Q&A session for readers, and audio and video chats. You can tie in current events with your books. For instance, if you write a paranormal series about witches based around Salem, Massachusetts, even if it’s fiction, you could write historical tidbits about the Salem Witch Trials, or expand out a series of articles for the week leading up to Halloween or El Die de Los Muerto (The Day of the Dead). 
 
Feel free to invite other experts on your website too. Cross promotion between writers or other artists can only improve your traffic and broaden your reader base.
 
Be a social butterfly. Social media is a great opportunity to grow your network into a global audience. The trick is having interesting content to add to social media, keeping it updated, and participation, participation, participation!
 
Many writers make the mistake of only adding their website or book content to social media. It’s a big neon sign of “Look at me; look at me!” And then they vanish until, lo and behold, the next “Look at me!” moment gets posted. Social media takes a little time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort. It’s true that every time you post any content on social media, you make it easier for search engines to find you. Which, as an author, is important. You want those clever little searchbots seeking you out. What you want to avoid however is them only finding the same, boring things over and over. 
 
I spend a great deal of time on social media, surfing and chatting, sharing and liking information out there. Yes, a lot of content I share is writing-related, since that topic happens to interest me. But I also make sure that for every article I share I am careful to be conversational on my social media channels. I include content that isn’t just writing or book related. Essentially, you need to be a person – multifaceted like the characters in your books.
 
I can’t stress how important it is to have a regular presence on social media. Don’t set up profiles on a dozen sites, slap up some introductory promotion, and then abandon the sites until your next blog article hits and you want the promotion. Do you have to be on there every minute of every day? Certainly not. Not if you plan on putting in your due diligence writing your next book and promoting your current and upcoming ones. Then, of course, there’s always that whole family and friends thing you should put a little time in on. Oh, and a job if you have one of those. Keep your presence on social media active and load it more heavily with you as a person than you as an author. Just don’t forget some of the author gig too.
 
It’s time to fish. Now that you’ve got your media pitch and reviewer letter all squared and polished, it’s time to cast them out there, baby. This can get overwhelming quickly, especially if organization isn’t your forte. I recommend keeping this to a manageable amount each week. I tend to go with 3 media pitches and 3 reviewer letters per week. That gives me a dozen by the end of the month. Fairly respectable. Some times reviewers and media people will have comments or suggestions for reaching out to them or how to better pitch. Take the advice and adjust as needed. Continue doing this routine each month right up launch day and even after. 
 
So basically, what we’ve established this month is you getting social media accounts squared away. Do your research and find out where not only authors are but where readers seem to be. Get those accounts set up right away. Remember to keep it small at first. You can build your social media network gradually as you get more comfortable.
 
We’ve also talked about getting content going for your website. I recommend writing and having a minimum of two months worth of valuable content ready for your blog in the pipe at all times. For me, I come up with a list of topics I want to cover and then take one afternoon to get them all written and ready to post. Keep in mind that the key to being valuable to your reader is keeping your content high quality, interesting, and consistent.
 
And, lastly, it’s time to send out your media pitches and reviewer letters in small batches. You have 3 months left until your book launches. That’s a comfortable amount of time to get booked on a few radio, TV, or podcast spots, still toss in a few newspaper interviews or spotlights in the local “hometown news” sections, and get a review or two back from established reviewers. 
 
If you’ve been tackling each month as I’ve written about it then you are well on your way to a bombastic book launch.
 
Photo: Author BC Brown
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.



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5 Easy Ways to Support an Author

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You love to read? You have a favorite author you just can’t wait until they publish their next book? Show ’em some love.
5 Tips to Support Authors
5 Ways to Support an Author

  1. Write a review. This seems simple but the truth is few readers take the time to review a book once they have read it. Reviews don’t have to be difficult. Writing a simple line or two is easy: “I read a lot of…and I enjoyed this story. The story was exciting and kept me reading to the end.” Seems basic but will encourage your favorite author to keep writing. Not to mention, if on Amazon, will increase that author’s visibility to other readers, leading to more writing by your favorite author. Win-win!
  2. Tell your friends. Bookworms tend to know a lot of other readers. Tell your friends about your favorite author and their books. Nothing helps support your favorite author like readers buying their books. We are fond of eating. 
  3. Share with your friends. There is nothing like the gift of a book. Have you ever finished a book and thought “I wish there were someone I could talk to about this book!” There could be. Buy a copy for a friend you think would enjoy it. Even if you only decide to gift your copy of the book to a friend, it’s still beneficial. Your friend may fall in love with your favorite author and buy more of their books, write reviews, etc.
  4. Use the public library request system. All authors, no matter how popular, need exposure to readers. Nothing gets a writer more exposure than being available in public places where the demographic is perfect: all readers (well, mostly). Putting a Request to Stock into your local library may give your favorite author access to a town they haven’t yet been found by readers. (I should also point out that it isn’t misleading to put in a request to stock even if you own the book. Just remember to rent it at least once, maybe twice, to be fair to library resources.)
  5. Share your author on social media. Like the book? Tell the world! Literally. Social media connects many of us with hundreds of thousands, even the potential of millions, of people a day. When you have a favorite author, find them on social media; follow their sites; and share stuff you find interesting on their sites with your own friends. Two things happen by following an author’s social media a) you are telling your friends online how much you like an author and helping them reach new readers, and b) you’re front and center for sneak peeks, new contests and releases, and goodies your author is giving away. It’s win-win!
There are five easy tips to show your support for your favorite authors. How do you show your support? Are there more ways not listed?
 
@BCBrownBooksBC 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)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane       

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A.D.D. and Writing: 3 Tips to Using A.D.D. Toward Productivity

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It is estimated that nearly 11% of children between the ages of 4-17 years suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.). Approximately 4% of adults also suffer from a disorder that can cause impulsivity, distractibility, disorganization, restlessness, emotional outbursts.

Writing is a pursuit that requires a great deal of organization and focus. So juggling A.D.D. as a writer presents something of a challenge.

A.D.D. vs Writing

While children and adults with A.D.D. can often focus on activities they enjoy, despite it’s enjoyment many find the routine nature of writing difficult to maintain. Distractions come easily and often, interrupting the follow of creativity and productivity. A writer can go from writing to fidgeting and advance to not writing in a heart beat. Everything else becomes more important – read “easier” – than writing because focusing on the task of writing seems too difficult.

Finding a balance between your A.D.D. and your profession/passion for writing is possible. All it takes is adjustment.

  • Let your creative side flow. As writers, our stock and trade is usually in our creativity. Even non-fiction writers must find ways to creatively engage their readers to make content informational and catchy enough to read above all other possible sources. Writers with A.D.D. can use their creativity as an extra strength, falling back on it when the monotony of routine becomes overwhelming and brains start to jump around.
  • Write something creative. Even if it isn’t your planned writing for the day, doesn’t follow the outline, or isn’t even in same WIP (work in progress) you are writing. By temporarily – note: the ‘temporary’ – switching from tedious to fun, our A.D.D. minds have a chance to reboot and get back on track with the routine tasks. Just remember to keep these extraneous side missions short and sweet. Don’t let them go off on their own tangents. At least until later that is.
    • Schedule free writing time. Professional writers must maintain a schedule when it comes to completing their projects by deadlines. Sometimes that means we can schedule ourselves right into a problem with our A.D.D. – routine = death to productivity.

 

  • Schedule the unscheduled. This goes in part with letting your creative side flow. Professional writers struggling with A.D.D. can benefit by scheduling a block of time to free write, rather than focusing on one particular project. There’s nothing wrong with going into the free writing session with a pre-chosen topic but don’t limit yourself to sticking to that topic if your mind starts to wander. Just write whatever comes to mind. You’ll be surprised at the amount of workable material you’ll produce.
  • Use A.D.D. to drive your voice. There’s something to the old saying “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Overcoming A.D.D. is not easy. Even with years of therapy, conditioning, and even medication, some writers may never have control over their condition enough to not let it intrude on their professional careers. One way of getting around it is to hyperfocus the condition, capitalizing on its nature.
  • Write characters like you. Early in my career I had great difficulty in taming my A.D.D. thought patterns. I was half way through my second novel, the paranormal mystery A Touch of Darkness, when it occurred to me that I was having an easier time writing this book than my first fantasy novel, Sister Light (out of print). What was my secret? I wrote the book in first person from an A.D.D. character’s POV. Had I planned a character like myself? Yes. Did I know I could create a whole style of writing around the interruptus thought pattern that is my A.D.D.? Heck no, but it was cool. Instead of trying to tame my condition, I let it becomes its own strength in the writing process.
Attention Deficit Disorder, while difficult in life, does not have to equal a difficult time for a person to pursue the profession and passion of a writing career. By recognizing the needs of your A.D.D. you can easily turn its weaknesses into writing strengths.
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)
 

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane             

 

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The Writer’s Pack: Flagstaff Arizona

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Writing is…ruff.

And sometimes all a writer needs a little headspace adjustment to get over the obstacle that is “being a writer.” For me, nothing works better than pulling myself bodily up a mountainside with my canines: one plowing forward and blazing the trail, and the other nestled comfortably in her baby carrier modified sling. An old dog’s little bones just can’t do mountains anymore.

Recently, I headed north to the mountains of Flagstaff to a small camping area just on the outskirts of town limits. The day was a beautiful Arizona brisk with sunlight dappling through the canopy; the nights were a chill Arizona shock requiring three base layers and my winter bag for comfortable sleep. But the hike…oh, the hike!

The Shepherd, the Squeaker, and I decided to tackle a small section of the Arizona Trail that cuts past Flagstaff, directly through the campsite I’d picked. As we hadn’t been able to be out for a while, I decided to keep mine and the pack’s hike a little short, down to 10 miles, and it was good. Until the fickleness of nature reminded me that I was in Flagstaff, the snowy region of Arizona, and not Phoenix. 

The sleet and hail that hit was immediate. The pack and I were fortunate we were already on our way back at this point. While the Shepherd was starting to flag, I think, had the weather remained beautiful and brisk, she would have held up the last mile of the hike. However, with the freezing rain and the small but stinging hail against her backside, my normally robust and energetic hiker ended up being soothingly coaxed verbally up the last rise to our camp, her tail between her legs. In the meantime, the old lady that makes up the other half of my hiking buddies was chilled and being pelted and squeaking her indignation, trying to squirm from her carrier. 

My hiking pack cover suddenly became a blanket for the Shepherd, although it did nothing to abate the hail hitting her and her moans. And my jacket was turned around to cover the old dog riding angrily on my frontside, letting my back and pack get soaked through. After far too long to hike only one mile, the pack and I made it back to the campsite. But we weren’t given the opportunity to rest or change clothes as the Doctor (for those of you just tuning in, the Doctor is what I call my partner who resembles Doctor Who’s 11th Doctor, Matt Smith) took a tumble in a mountain bike ride and needed me to get the truck and fetch him.

After another 30 minutes spent shivering and wet (our truck has no heating system), we finally made it back to camp and into dry clothes, sleeping bags, and cups of hot tea. But I can’t complain too much. Among other reasons for retreating to the north of Arizona during the “winter,” I went to clear my head as a writer, to gain perspective on the latest fantasy I’ve been writing called Light Falls. All in all, if cold and wet and stung with hail, it worked, as time spent with my Writer’s Pack almost always works. I wrote this:

His boots squelched in the mud underfoot as his body weight drove him down into the soft ground. Clutching the wound at his side, the crimson of his blood dribbled down and mingled with the frigid rain puddling beneath his squat form. Breath plumed into the early evening air. The woodgrain of the shed’s planks scratched at his cheek and chin pressed against them. The beasts’ clicks echoed in the distance. But not distant enough. He needed to move, but where? He’d retreated as far back as he dared from the skirmish, but Kijack surrounded him. The wind had shifted and brought the flat odor of death on its wings. He supposed he should be thankful for the season. The cold offered him respite from the carrion stench of his fallen militia three days cut down in the field. It also spared him the putrefaction he knew must have set into his wound by now, the rusted metal of the beast’s makeshift lance still protruding from his gut. 
He was going to die out here. He knew it, and the crows who circled and stalked his movement, often giving away his position to the enemy, knew it. If the infection didn’t kill him, then the days without food or water or rest would do it. Or surely the cold, a chill that permeated his leathers and drilled into the marrows of his bones and triggered the rasp of his lungs.
A twig snapped on the other side of the shed. David tensed. Pain seared his side, spreading from his gut. Pain and numb were the only two sensations he had left, and the Duc of Mervar clung to them both knowing they still meant life. 
Knuckles screaming, he curled his knife around the dagger in his belt sheath. He might die out here, but he’d make the Enemy’s beasts take him instead of giving into the hurt and the cold. 
Ay Lady be it ever so cold though.

I think the Writer’s Pack was successful, no?

Photo: Author BC Brown
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

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

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Book creation is as easy at 1, 2, 3.

We talked about foundation of your Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) adventure in my previous post Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Getting StartedThis week, we’re talking about individual projects and the steps needed to getting a finalized product on the digital market. You’ll go through this process with each ebook you intend to upload, so we might as well get started.


Your Book. Ok, so the basics who who you are and how to pay you are out of the way. It’s time to start in on your actual book. Each New Item uploaded will require data input for the Product Description. Here are the basics:
  • ISBN: If you’ve purchased an ISBN, you can enter it here. However KDP will automatically generate an ISBN for your work if you have not taken that extra step. Personally, I let KDP generate my ISBNs. A friend of mine bought a lump of ISBNs for her work a few years ago. She uses them to organize her different series with similar ISBN numbers in both ebook and print. Just a small detail that helps keep her organized during inventory and accounting.
  • Title: Enter the whole title of your book.  You can and should utilize the subtitle category of this process if you can. We can go over that in more detail later however. If there is a volume number to your book, also put it in the Title Category. Anything and everything that is useful to a successful search option should be considered for the Title Category.
  • Description: Oh boy. Descriptions are hard. We’ve just written a book and blurbs are hard. I mean, if we could have wrapped up the whole story neatly in 300-500 words, we would have just written it that way, right? Here are a few things to remember when writing your description:
    • Professionally written. Don’t let an unprofessional description undo all the professional work you put into the book itself.
    • 70,000 foot view. Only include the highlights and most important details of the book.
    • Don’t over-exaggerate. Building up the reader’s hopes and not delivering on the expectations will get you nothing but negative reviews, which can hurt your sales.
    • Concise writing. This sort of goes back to the “professionally written” part previously stated. But I can’t stress enough the fact that the blurb is a teaser for your book. It has to be short and sweet to hook the reader’s information without giving away the plot. Also KDP limits you on the number of characters you can use in your Description.
    • Generalized comparisons. Many authors make the mistake of comparing their books directly to famous books currently on the market. I’m not saying you shouldn’t compare, but avoid things like “This book is the next Harry Potter,” unless specifically taken from a review. You can say something closer to Readers who lived and loved the magic of the Harry Potter series will enjoy XYZ Title.
  • Publisher: Author name or imprint name. And, again, I stress the importance of making sure
    Photo Credit: Alejandro Escamilla

    you don’t steal another imprint’s name. Google is easy, it’s fast, it’s free. Trust me, a lot of writers have been super clever before your clever need.

  • Language: Fairly easy. Select your native language. If you have had the book professionally (and I emphasize professionally) translated then you will need to create a separate New Item for each translation. If you publish in one language but want to point out the work is published in multiple languages, do that in the Description Category.
  • Publication Date: If this is the first edition of this book’s publication, enter the release date. If the item has appeared in another format somewhere, enter the first date it was published.
  • Categories: These help sort your books for readers searching Kindle. Remember, you are allowed a maximum of 5 categories. Take the time to read through the whole list; you might find a category you hadn’t considered. For example, in my paranormal mystery novel A Touch of Darkness once I started looking, I found there is a category specifically for ‘African-American Female Heroines.’ For my Abigail St. Michael Novels that category is perfect. Amazon searchbots are also incredibly clever to use the keywords within those Categories to optimize search results.
  • Author: Seems a duh moment to most authors, but you also have the chance in this area to add Co-Authors, editors, illustrators, narrators, photographers, fore words, introductions, prefaces, and translators. Doing so can link you with those individuals’ accounts (if they have them) and help you leverage their established networks. Plus, it’s just plain right to properly attribute anyone who helped work on your book that wants to be attributed (always ask first). And it’s just another way to get those clever searchbots in on suggesting your work to readers when they’re looking.
  • Keywords: Categories along are not enough to deliver your book into the search results of readers with their fingers at the keys. You need keywords. Typically 5-7 descriptive and relevant keywords is the preferred target range. Is it a rule? No. Sometimes it’s okay to have a few more to make sure your book’s topic/s gets covered properly. For example, for my paranormal mystery A Touch of Madness I used the following keywords: psychics, serial killers, magic, fantasy, dark humor, interracial romance, romance, and science fiction.
  • Product Image: There is nothing more frustrating than a pixelated or blurry Product Image when shopping on Amazon. It’s no exception with KDP. Images uploaded must be either JPEG (.jpg) or TIFF (.tif/.tiff) and 72 dpi to meet Amazon’s minimum threshold for thumbnail Product Images. When you purchase your cover art, ensure the artist/designer provides you with multiple DPI quality images to use on the print book, promotional material, and online.
  • Edition Number: When dealing with books that have been revised multiple times, it is important to include an Edition Number in each new upload. It does a number of things like tell the readers there is updated information or corrections in the book, as well as tell those clever Amazon searchbots to push out an updated version of your book to readers who have already purchased it. Some authors will go so far as to list each edition and when it was published.
  • Series Title: Readers like a series; authors love a series. When completing work in the same series, make sure to include your series title. For example, my paranormal mysteries A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness are both part of the An Abigail St. Michael Novels series.
  • Series Volume: Mostly this works for magazines, journals, or any title issued in a series. However there are instances where an author has chosen to put out a work in serialized form. Notable was Stephen King’s The Green Mile.
  • DRM: Stands for Digital Rights Management, and there are only two options 1) Enable DRM, or 2) Do not enable DRM. Personally, I always enable DRM. It’s an extra step to go through but it ensures that I have the opportunity to shift my uploaded document to match KDP’s format specs perfectly. It also gives me a preview of the document as it will be seen on ebook readers. This preview step can help save you from weird formatting and possible negative reviews from it. A lesson I learned from the first edition of my paranormal mystery A Touch of Darkness.
So there you have it. The basics leading up to uploading your book to Amazon Kindle for self publication. After this point, it’s only a few more quick steps to having your book self published on Amazon for millions to buy.
BC Brown
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                                                                   

 

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Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 4 Pre-Release

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T-minus 4 months until launch. 4…3…2…

So far we’ve broken down the book marketing process by Month 6 and Month 5 pre-release. In this post we’ll discuss what steps you should be taking toward in Month 4. We’ll be looking closely at:

  • Writing your media pitch, reviewer letter, and press kit; and
  • Setting up speaking engagements or book signings.
Pitch it good. A well written or scripted media pitch is what you offer to radio or podcast hosts, TV shows, and reporters or interviewers in order to book you as a guest on their show. A typical media pitch is approximately ten seconds and it has to reach out and grab the attention of a busy reporter or host. Make it interesting, use humor (although keep it light, many people are humorless), and focus on what you can do for their listeners/viewers. Do it right from the beginning with a catchy headline. (If you need examples, just take a listen to the nightly news or common radio programs and how they pitch their headlines to hook a listener/viewer.) When possible, try to tie your topic into current headlines. There is nothing like being relevant to a story a journalist is already working on. Shoot, anticipation of a few key questions with snappy answers are good to have on hand.
Just remember that hosts and reporters are busy. I mean, like above and beyond busy. A good host or reporter has to keep their fingers on the heartbeat of everything going on in the world because they never know when or where the next big story might come from. A friend of mine is the booking agent for a local A.M. television show and she said it takes (on average) 5 phone calls or emails to catch her attention. Persistence counts here, but remember to be polite at all times and give a sufficient amount of time between emails and phones and follow up emails and phone calls. No one wants to get a phone call about the email they just received two minutes before that.
A pre-release review is like a bird in the bush. Or something to that end. Seriously, having reviews of your book in anticipation of its launch is a feather in your cap. Ensure you have ARCs (Advanced Review Copy) of your book for those reviewers who prefer a print book, and specific ARCs of your ebook to send out to reviewers. But, before all of that, you need to write and perfect your reviewer letter.
  • Step 1: Personalization. Your letter should always been personalized to the reviewer and publication/site you are sending it to. Make sure in has your publication information (title, ISBN, publisher/imprint name, release date, and distribution), and includes a 75-100 word recap of the book. Make the fact you are submitting the book for review very clear; many writers use bold type. Personally, I include a brief 100-or less word bio and any details of upcoming book tours or media events. Do not include these last two items unless you actually have a tour and events booked. End the letter with a thank you, something personally and not generic. Offer to send cover art or any other information they might like to have. And make sure your contact information is easy to find and read if they have questions and need to reach you.
  • Step 2: Follow Up. Don’t be surprised if, with your first book, you don’t hear back. Consider a polite follow up phone call or email to ensure the book arrives. Keep a list of everyone you sent the ARCs to, dates you sent them, and (when you follow up) keep track of how you are received: excited, noncommittal, rude. Cross off the rude one.
  • Step 3: Due diligence. Most reviewers will not contact you when they review a book. It’s easy to set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever your name, book title, and/or company are mentioned anywhere online.
  • Step 4: Thank you notes. Not all reviewers are going to like your book. They may not write a positive review. Even those that do like your book will always point out a flaw or weakness in an effort to appear balanced. When you receive a positive review, send a polite and short thank you letter. When you receive a bad review Stop. Take a walk to vent. Do not contact the reviewer. If the review seems unusually harsh, make a note in your spreadsheet and don’t send that reviewer future books. I used to send a polite thank you note to even the reviewers who disliked my books. However I learned quickly that while your intent is to thank them for their time, politeness can be misconstrued for snarkiness or bitterness. It’s better to avoid that possible misperception.
Important people have press kits. And you are now important. Or at least you are on your way to being important, so you better have one ready. Press kits contain:
  • Author bio, in varying lengths
  • Book summary, in varying lengths
  • A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
  • Concise interview with you as an author
  • Short book review.
Step 1: Author Bio. Already covered in my Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 5 Pre-Release, so we will go straight to the book summaries.
Step 2: Book Summaries. Reporters live for things to be easy. The simpler you make it for them to describe your book by pre-writing a summary of it for them, the happier they will be. Typically, I include a page with a 1-sentence summary, a 50-word summary, and a 100-word summary. I know of authors who include a 200-word summary. The bonus is that, while these are great for media, they are super quick ways for you to grab a brief description for program books or enhancing your bio when needed.
Step 3: FAQs. Every wish an interviewer asked you a specific question? The FAQs gives you a chance to ask all the fun, interesting questions you wish people would ask about you or your book. Maybe you want to let people know what an expert you are at something, or why you decided to write about that topic. Maybe you just want someone to ask about your personal quirks like your unmatched sock collection or your collection of grotesque artwork in your home. Whatever it is, you can include it in the FAQs. Just make sure you can tie it back somehow to your work. You can even use this time to drop story ideas for future work. If you’re lucky, sowing those seeds early with lead the media to promoting future books by mentioning upcoming new titles. Again don’t mention anything that isn’t concrete. If you haven’t even written the future book, don’t mention it. If you’re in the editing phase, then it’s probably safe to mention.
Step 4: Self Interview. Yeah, it seems and feels weird. But a self interview can be a gold mine. Small town newspapers and magazines may pick up the article and print it word for word. Keep the interview limited to one page (500 words) and make sure to include all relevant data about the book including future books and any titles you have in your library.
Step 5: Book review. A ready-made book review can also be a big help to a reporter who is crunched for time. Focus on how original your story is and use positive (again don’t over exaggerate) language. Some authors feel the need to point out weaknesses in order to seem fair, but remember that not all reviewers do that so you don’t need to either. This is, after all, your book. You want to put all the good upfront to catch the reader and the reporter. Keep the reviews to one page (500 words).

Remember to include your press kit on your website, and always customize your pitches to individual reporters and reviewer letters to specific reviewers. 

Photo: Author BC Brown
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)

Coming soon: Karaoke Jane                                                                 

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