Author, Jeanette Hanscome

Happy Monday from Jeanette. Today I walked into one of the 2nd grade classrooms at my youngest son’s school and handed the teacher a stack of books that I’d just finished spiral-binding.

“I’ll let you make the announcement,” Miss Anne whispered. She got her class’s attention.

Before I could say a word a little girl named Myra squealed, “Our books!”

“That’s right. You’re authors!”

The King’s Academy 2nd graders had worked hard for weeks on stories about a dog named Ace (inspired by Miss Anne’s dog who gained fame when he had to have his tail amputated—long story), based on what they learned when I taught a writing workshop. We’d promised to collect their stories and bind them in a book. And now the day had arrived. Their books were ready, hot off the copied-and-bound-in-the-church-office press! I don’t know who was more excited, the kids or me.

I watched Miss Anne pass the books around, eager hands reaching out. As each child received a copy of The Adventures of Ace they flipped through to find their page. What a moment! If I hadn’t been field day I would have suggested a lunchtime book signing!

An hour or so later I had another cool moment that only a writer could appreciate when I watched my oldest son sign his first contract for an article that he wrote and had accepted—his first submission and his first acceptance. He acted so unaffected as he filled in his SS#, name, date, and signature and slipped it into the envelope. Of course I stood back beaming but trying to hide it, knowing that if I made too big a deal he would say something like, “Mom, if you’re going to act this way every time I get something accepted, I’m never writing again.” But deep down I wanted to hug him and cry and jump up and down and make a total idiot of myself. His first contract was headed to the mailbox! I know he was equally as pumped; my son is just too laid back to show it.

Both of these experiences reminded me how fun it is to encourage the next generation of writers. After all, as much as we hate to think about it, we won’t always be around. Someday, instead of our books and articles, readers will pick up someone else’s . . . perhaps my son’s or stories written by one of the 2nd graders from King’s Academy. What a privilege it is to share the thrills, not knowing where God will take those little ones who contributed to The Adventures of Ace.

Who knows, one or two of them could be a future CAN member!

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P6040570
I love being a writer, but lately I’d been
feeling stressed-out, burned-out, just plain bummed-out. So I did the only
thing I knew to do: I asked God to renew my passion for my calling and for my
current WIP. He answered my prayer, but in an interesting way….

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Tracy Higley

Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1-#9 here.

 

So, on to Principle #10… Give yourself a reality check.

 

Writing is hard. Making money at writing is even harder. There is considerable discussion and debate these days about what it takes to grow your readership, whether social networking efforts translate into book sales, etc. It’s not my intent to weigh in on that issue in this post, but to give you some real numbers to think through, that may help you as you make your own decisions.

The #1 problem in making money writing books is this: you have an extremely limited product line, with new products being released very infrequently. One book per year is probably average. Think about this. One low-profit product, released once per year.

Stick with me here, as we dive into some realistic numbers.

In my online retail business selling craft supplies, the average order is about $45.  And about 20% of my customers purchase from me repeatedly in a year. My bottom-line profit on each order (after purchasing the wholesale products and paying for overhead) is probably about the same as a book royalty. But my average order is much higher than a book price, and I get more repeat business. By my calculations, one of my retail customers is worth about 8 times more than one book-buying reader. This means I need to sell books to 8 times more readers.

 

Let’s look at it another way. What is the annual salary you would be satisfied to take as a full-time writer? Figure about $1 in royalty/advance for every book-buying reader per year. In other words, an annual salary of $50,000 would require 50,000 book sales per year.

How many authors come anywhere close to this number? Not very many. Depressing? But reality.

You have three options, as I see it.

1.   Do what it takes to build your readership to the point that you have as many book-buying readers as dollars you’d like to make. Only you can answer what it takes.

2.   Develop multiple streams of writing-related income. In other words, get yourself more than one “product” to sell. This can take many forms – article-writing, writing and selling e-books, editing, book-doctoring, developing a successful blog that sells ad space, and a host of other options. Some of these can even build passive income.

3.   Have another stream of income that is not writing-related, and do not expect to make a full-time salary with your writing.

 

Remember, there is nothing wrong with any of these options!

Perhaps you are willing to put your heart into #1 – developing a broad reader base. I’d suggest implementing the second or third option while you do. Expect to be busy for awhile. Realize it’s a difficult task. But then go for it.

If #2 seems attractive to you, there are so many options, and you can find lots of great information online to generate ideas and get started.

If you choose #3, then do the things that make sense to build your readership, but release yourself from frantic, burdensome marketing efforts driven by a desperation to make enough money.  Yes, there are many things you can do to increase your success. Choose them wisely, as your time may be limited. Be realistic in your expectations.

 

Hopefully I have not discouraged you. As a novelist myself, I’m taking my medicine here this month, too. But marketing that is not based on realism will lead you to wasted efforts and even more discouragement.

Take an honest inventory of your desires, goals, and current situation this month. A reality check is a wise marketing principle.

 

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BioPicBlues Hey, writers! Jan here, writing once again with a focus on nonfiction–though the topic today could apply to fiction writers as well.

Last month I offered In the Trenches, Part 1, where we looked at how crucial it is to get into our reader’s skin and keep them in mind while we write. We looked at ways we can get closer to our reader—intentional about knowing who they are from multiple angles, including through real conversations.

We’re going to take that deeper in this post.

Begin by imagining being trapped in a room . . .

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Gail Gaymer Martin Good morning from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com.  

I sort of chuckled when I realized last time I wrote here, I was supposed to be blogging on Love Inspired Authors Blog so you received a blog from me on traveling and how it affects me life. I guess that has to do with writing also, but I wanted to finish my three blogs related to Description. So here you are – Part III Presenting Action.

Describing action brings a story to life, but the amount of description is regulated by the kind of action. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: How significant the action is to the plot? Does the action move the story forward and make a difference? Does the action create tension and deepen conflict? These are some of the questions an author must ask before detailing action in a scene. If the answer is yes to the above, describing the action works. If the activity is mundane , the often less is best. With those thoughts in mind, take a look at these scenarios.

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