self-publishing

#amwriting Three Simple Writing Tips

Writing tip #1:  Avoid verb forms of “to be,” if possible.  Am, is, are, was, and were –the most useless words in a writer’s toolbox. Why? Because 1) they usually aren’t necessary for conveying your message, and 2) removing them usually renders their accompanying qualifiers and modifiers unnecessary.  When you find these potential problem-words, try removing them and rewording the sentence.  You’ll often end up with a shorter, punchier sentence.  Say twice as much, but with fewer words.

Writing Tip #2:  To emphasize a word, place it at the beginning or end of a sentence.  That’s where words stand out the most. Words or phrases of little importance should be placed mid-sentence, if possible.  Also, place a paragraph’s most important sentence at the beginning or the end of the paragraph.  When writing, don’t forget about emphasis.

Writing Tip #3:  Go on a “which hunt.”  Read this sentence: “The car, which had big wheels and a loud, roaring  muffler, rolled past me.”  Horrible.  Now, let’s try this:  “The big-wheeled car roared past me.”  See there?  By removing that nasty “which,” and thinking creatively, I cut more than half the sentence–eight words–without distorting its meaning.  If you can remove “which” without distorting a sentence’s meaning, then remove it!  If outright removal won’t work, consider using “that” instead of “which.”  That uses fewer letters, and it rarely requires a preceding comma, unlike that nasty old which.

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An Excerpt From my Forthcoming Book #mustread #Book #amwriting

From Turkey Creek – A Memoir

Pat Fitzhugh

The Armand Press (2013 )

“Often hysterically funny, sometimes wrenching, Fitzhugh’s straight-shooting memoir is laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, and acute observations of life in rural Tennessee. He remembers vividly what it felt like to be a kid: the pleasure of being outdoors; the unquestioned bonds of a friendship; and the oddness of many of the things adults do.”

–Pre-publication Review, 2012

 

From Turkey Creek – A Memoir is scheduled for release in late 2013.  Below is the book’s introductory chapter:

I N T R O D U C T I O N

If you look at a map of Tennessee, there is, on Kentucky Lake’s east bank, north of Waverly and east of Big Sandy, a little bay called Turkey Creek. Don’t fret if you can’t find it; even some locals have trouble finding the place. Look for the little cove with a tiny island at its mouth. That’s Turkey Creek.

Originating in the hills of northwest Humphreys County, Turkey Creek snakes through eight miles of hickory forests, manure-laden pastures, and lowland thickets before widening and emptying into Kentucky Lake. At its mouth, Turkey Creek is nearly a half-mile wide.

The name “Turkey Creek” describes not only a rolling stream of minnows, crayfish, and cow poop, but also the countryside through which it flows—and any location within, say, eight miles of the creek. When someone says, “I live at Turkey Creek,” they could live anywhere in northwestern Humphreys County. People describe area roads in much the same way. Most are simply called, “Turkey Creek Road.”  It’s easier that way.

Up until the last decade, when a modern marina and scores of new cabins sprang up, Turkey Creek rarely changed. In 1950, a lonely dirt road led past a campground and a fishing resort, then around a sharp curve at the creek’s mouth, and to a handful of cabins fronting Kentucky Lake. In 1960, the same dirt road led past the same campground and fishing resort, around the same sharp curve, and to the same lakefront cabins, and in 1970, and 1980, and so on. The number of cabins near the lake remained constant for many years, but the structures changed often; old cabins fell down and new cabins took their places. What was constant was always changing.

I grew up in two of those cabins. Turkey Creek is where I shot my first fish, snagged my first possum, spewed my first obscenity, kissed my first girl, and savagely attacked a family of tame ducks. Along the way, I learned the difference between a largemouth bass and a buglemouth bass, a water snake and a water moccasin, a pint of whiskey and a pint of moonshine, deer hunting and dear hunting, and a knot and a concussion. This was from the late-1960s until 1980.

During that period, Turkey Creek was more than simply a place for wild-eyed young boys to grow up. Turkey Creek was a place where friendships were forged, enemies were forgiven, lessons were learned, and where amazing things unfolded just beneath the surface of everyday life. Turkey Creek will always be special to me; it was my life’s starting point and the source of my fondest memories.

There has never been an official source of information about Turkey Creek during that period, perhaps because so few people are left to tell about it; some have moved away, others have moved on. Moreover, no sane person would want to read about Turkey Creek, much less write about it. Until now.

The book that follows is the true story of a young boy growing up at Turkey Creek, written by that same boy, years later. It is a memoir, a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning.”  ♦

Free Publicity – Creating a Buzz

Free Publicity – Creating a Buzz.

This lady (see link, above) has got it right. Carefully estimate when your book will be released, create a professional press release, and let the buzz begin!

Thirty-plus years of writing and publishing has taught me a few things, the most important of which is: “Keep it simple.” Take the old-fashioned, tried-and-true, bread-and-butter approach to promoting yourself and your books. If you have a decent, timely book about something people are interested in and want to read about, a concise and carefully-worded press release will help you to get the word out quickly and effectively.

Over a short period, more people will hear about your book by reading newspapers, watching TV, and listening to their radios on the way to work than by surfing the internet and stumbling across your blog or Facebook. A book release, assuming that the book is timely and promises a good read, is newsworthy; hence, the media are likely to mention it.

After you create the first wave of your release buzz, send your forthcoming book’s description and, preferably, a couple sample chapters to your local bookstore’s small press or community events coordinator, asking for a signing at the store. Call or visit a few days later, to follow up. Do this with every bookstore in your area. You’ll most likely get two or three signings if you play your cards right. Once you’ve scheduled the signings, create and send a press release for each one.

The additional press releases and the signings themselves will create more buzz, and open doors for more promotion and bigger opportunities. Aside from the two hours you spend crafting a professional press release, the effort costs you nothing but leaves you with plenty to gain.

Book Review Bias: The Online Disconnect

#amreading #amwriting #books

The findings of some interesting studies about book-buyer behavior were released this past week. One study found that book-buyers “discover” books and authors most often through word of mouth. The study also found that most people go online to buy the books they discover through word of mouth. Let’s put these two findings together.

Sally will tell John, perhaps at dinner, “Hey, I just finished reading a GREAT new book by so-and-so!” And John will surf to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order a copy. Simple enough. Or is it? Let’s think about it. John listens to a verbal book review from someone he knows and trusts, and he goes online–where millions of book descriptions and reviews already exist–to purchase the book Sally had recommended at dinner.

John represents the many book-buyers who, according to the recent study, discover books and authors through friends rather than the internet–but then go online to buy the books. The internet boasts millions of books, each with an inviting description and a list of reviews. There are also author and publisher web sites and blogs, and thousands of daily tweets about every type of book imaginable. Why are people so reluctant to use the internet and its many book descriptions and reviews to learn of new authors and books?

Enticing book descriptions and over-the-top sales pitches fall flat without validation. Book hype comes from authors, publishers, and booksellers–those who cash in when a book sells. That’s why many book buyers turn to word of mouth and reviews for the lowdown. Enter authors, publishers, and booksellers–yes, again.

The lack of credible, unbiased reviews online has created a disconnect between discovery and purchase. Customers are left not knowing what to believe when they ponder a book purchase; making an informed decision becomes a game of roulette.

At one end of the review continuum are authors and publishers who, using fake names, litter competing books with vague, unfounded one-star reviews in hopes of redirecting would-be customers to their own books. Such literary smear campaigns cheat readers out of potentially good reads, and rob authors and publishers of potential sales. At the opposite end of the continuum are authors and publishers who, again, using fake names, shower their own books with glamorous five-star reviews in hopes of boosting sales. Such embellishment usually leads to buyer remorse, which, in turn, leads to bad reviews. Can you spell “Backfire?”

For a book review to be credible, it must be written by someone who has actually read the book and who doesn’t stand to gain financially from the book’s success or failure. Very simple. However, with the many profit-driven fake reviewers on the internet, and with all the one- and five-star reviews (but nothing in between) given to many single titles, it’s difficult for book-buyers to go online and make informed buying decisions based on reviews. It’s no wonder why people prefer to discover books and authors through word of mouth rather than through the internet. People are more inclined to believe people they know and trust.

Some online booksellers have taken measures to ensure review integrity, but none have succeeded. In fact, one retailer, who routinely deletes five-star reviews believed fake, but who doesn’t delete fake one-star reviews, openly states that people are not required to purchase or read a book in order to review it on their web site. Say what? Yes, it’s true. Quality and integrity controls for online reviews are needed across the board. Customers should be able to read genuine book reviews and make informed purchasing decisions without getting sucked into the invisible whirlwind we call bookbiz cut-throat drama.

Mark Coker’s 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions

Mark Coker’s 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions

I found Mark Coker’s predictions interesting, but not surprising.  I would encourage other writers–especially independents who produce eBooks–to read the article and take heed.  Mark’s predictions usually end up being right on the money.  Click the title of this post to read the article.