Tag Archives: Writing

Snacks for Every Writing Project: Plotting Polenta Diamonds


Woo hoo, life is grand! My plan was to do comfort food recipes to help survive those rejection letters but I’m in too good a mood today!

Last week I finished a heavy duty Paranormal Romance rewrite. Of course, this doesn’t mean things are quiet and calm, not by a long shot. This week I’ve begun a number of new projects. I’m querying the finished book and researching a series of non-fiction books while plotting a new Woman’s Literature novel I’ve been antsy to write. This can make a girl exhausted and I need to keep up my strength, right?

I love wonderful homemade things that I can just pop in my mouth while working at the computer. Yes, cookies and candies are easy but sometimes I just want something savory.

This is a recipe I developed when I was a chef in a country club back east. We were looking for a substitute for fresh made crackers or bread to accompany some of our signature luncheon salads and I remembered my mom always pushing polenta on us. My siblings and I hated the stuff, we called it “mush”, but it had the starchy qualities I needed to fill the bill. Polenta is like a blank canvas too, it lends itself to any flavor profile I needed so I started making savory Polenta Diamonds and they were a hit.

Of course now that I’m no longer slaving in a hot professional kitchen and get to sit at this keyboard to create, problem solve and write all day, I like to call these my Plotting Polenta Diamonds. I make them when I’m beginning the plotting process, season them to match the genre I’m working on, and like comfort food, they instantly put me in the mood to rock and roll with a plot to die for! Hope they do the same for you!

Savory “Plotting” Polenta Diamonds

2 C Milk

1 C Water

1 ½ C Yellow Cornmeal

½ tsp Salt

½ C Parmesan Cheese

¼ tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Minced Fresh Rosemary

¼ C Olive Oil

Bring milk and water just to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring constantly. Add salt and lower heat. Continue stirring until polenta thickens, (this is kinda like roasting a turkey, it can be done quickly, or take a while). Stir in the parmesan cheese, garlic powder and rosemary.  Remove from heat.

Cool for a few moments then spread mixture ½ inch thick into a baking tray with a spatula and your fingers. Chill overnight. Slice into diamonds about 1 ½ ” wide by 2 ½” long.  Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, turning the diamonds over halfway through. YUM!

Variations

For plotting a YA adventure, Lemon Garlic Plotting Polenta Diamondssubstitute ½ tsp lemon zest for rosemary.

For plotting a Spicy Romance, Caliente Plotting Polenta Diamondssubstitute ½ tsp chili powder for the rosemary and dip the Diamonds in picante sauce.

For plotting a Romantic Comedy, Counterpoint Plotting Polenta Diamondseliminate the Parmesan and substitute ½ tsp dried tarragon for rosemary.

For plotting a Historic Romance, Mama Mia Plotting Polenta Diamondseliminate the rosemary, and add 1 minced roasted red pepper plus an additional ¼ C parmesan cheese.

For plotting a Murder Mystery, Red Herring Plotting Polenta Diamondssubstitute Old Bay Seasoning for the rosemary and sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top before baking.

Enjoy! Next week: Comfort food snacks to survive the rejections … maybe … if I’m in the mood.


Snacks for Every Writing Project: “Sweet Success” Balls!

The trials and tribulations of going from visionary to writer to author are daunting at best but along the way, there are oh-so-many reasons to celebrate. Small successes lead to big ones and taking a moment to recognize and shout out a success, even just to yourself and the computer monitor, is very important.

You must celebrate the successes that mark your journey!

  • Realizing that you have developed a unique approach for a unique story
  • Creating a wonderful plot outline
  • Finishing your first draft
  • The ah-hah moment that comes during the critique
  • Starting your rewrite with enthusiasm and promise
  • Getting half way through the hated rewrite
  • Finishing your WIP
  • Writing the perfect query letter
  • Getting your first request for more
  • Signing with an agent
  • Signing with the perfect publisher
  • Getting your book deal
  • Selling your first international rights
  • Realizing that you’ve just developed a unique approach for a story
  • And so it goes …

There are a thousand reasons to celebrate this blessed life of a writer! And I suggest you enjoy them with a tiny sweet taste of “Sweet Success” balls! Quick and easy to make, no baking and they last as long as you can keep from scarfing them all down. Don’t miss the variations on this recipe. Oh, and don’t get drunk. It may hinder the road to your next success, LOL.

“Sweet Success” Balls (Amaretto Version)

1# Vanilla Wafers ( most boxes hold 12 oz. so you may need 2 boxes)

1 C Fine Chopped Walnuts

3 tsp Cocoa

½ C Lt Corn Syrup

¼ C Amaretto

1 C Powdered Sugar

Using a food processor, fine chop the Vanilla Wafers and pour into large bowl. Fine chop the walnuts, then add to the same bowl with the Cocoa, Corn Syrup and Amaretto. Mix by hand until completely blended and tight enough to roll into a 1” ball (if not wet enough, add a little corn syrup and/or amaretto at a time until nice balls will form. Roll each ball in powder sugar and place them into a container that seals tightly.

The “Sweet Success” balls are delicious right away but oh-so-much better if left to sit, sealed in the container for a day or two.

Variations

“Sweet Success” Rum Balls – substitute dark, Spiced Rum for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Orange Balls – substitute Grand Marnier for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Mint Balls – substitute Crème de Mint for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Hazelnut Balls – substitute Frangelico for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Mexican Balls – substitute Kahlua for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Peanut Butter Balls – substitute Peanut Butter for amaretto

“Sweet Success” Raspberry Balls – substitute Raspberry Jam for amaretto

Enjoy! Next week: Comfort food snacks to survive the rejections.


Snacks for Every Writing Project: “Rewriting” Balls

I’ve just gone through a serious rewrite, a rewrite that taught me more about writing than any brand-new-original project or how-to book ever has. It started with a mentor (wait, let me adjust that, I started with AN AMAZING MENTOR), several honest, outspoken readers and a crapload of determination. It ended in a four month struggle to open my eyes. It seemed hopeless and more than once I thought about just giving up on the book. Then suddenly, like pixie dust had sprinkled from the heavens onto my thick head … it all clicked … leading me into a frenzied re-rewrite that has truly helped this writer turn the corner. My novel now has powerful plot and character development, several twists, and a writer who actually feels completely great about it.

And if you’re a writer, you know exactly what I mean by that. We’ve all felt good about a piece of writing, we’ve even felt real good about it, but how often can you honestly say you felt completely great about it? Completely great doesn’t mean I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I’ll be discovered, fought over by several agents and catapulted into the upper echelon of successful authors. I mean, sure, it could happen, but when I say I feel completely great about this final rewrite, I mean that my personal best has jumped the wire, and that wire was set higher then ever before. I succeeded and know that this book, or the next (which by the way, I’ve already excitedly begun), or the one after that has a much higher chance of success.

The next steps? “Cold in California” will be entered into the 2010 ABNA competition next Monday, and I will be querying the novel and series over the next few weeks. Scary stuff but you know what? I really do feel completely great about it.

YAY FOR ME! I had the balls to face my writing, plotting and character development demons and during it all, I did what all writers do when they write. I ate to keep up my strength.

This blog is about snacks for every writing project, so today’s recipe is savory, to reflect the aromatic experience facing the rewrite dragons in your closet. Time to bring the tropics to your desk!

Caribbean Langostino Balls

1 lb. Cooked, Cleaned Langostinos (at the grocery store, frozen case or seafood counter)

½ C Red Peppers, small diced

1 T Scallions, thin sliced

¼ C Mayonnaise

½ tsp Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (more if you like spicy/sweet)

S&P to taste

2 Eggs, whisked with 1 T water

1 C Breadcrumbs, dry, unseasoned

Preeheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop langostinos and combine with diced red peppers, sliced scallions, mayo and Jerk seasoning. Mixture should be tight enough to form into small (1”) balls. If not, add a little dried unseasoned breadcrumbs to tighten – if mixture is not wet enough, add a little mayo. Roll balls in breadcrumbs, then egg mixture and then breadcrumbs again until well coated. Set balls on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Langostino balls can be refrigerated and reheated for munching later. Yummy hot or cold.

Pirate Trunk Dipping Sauce

½ C Apricot Preserves

1 T Dark Rum

¼ tsp Dry Mustard

Mix and heat

Variations:

Substitute lump crab meat for langostinos.

Substitute ¼ t dried mustard, ¼ t Old Bay seasoning and a dash of cayenne pepper for Jerk Seasoning.

For even more spicy Caribbean Langostino Balls, add another ½ t jerk seasoning to the breadcrumbs for coating.

A variation on the dipping sauce is to mix equal parts Raspberry Jam with Dijon Mustard.

Enjoy! Next week: Sweet balls, for that sweet feeling of success after reaching your writing goals. After all, it’s common knowledge that it takes a lot of balls to do the job well.


Snacks for Every Writing Project: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut …

Over the past few days, as I chatted in my favorite distraction place on earth, Twitter, I noticed a trend among January writers, editors and authors. This may be something that happens all year round, but after the Holidays it seems a little more prevalent. After all, snacks have been readily available, from Christmas cookies to candy and cheese balls with crackers, so having a bowl of munchies on your desk as you work is a natural. In fact, even without the festive goodies, I’m thinking it’s probably a really good idea to keep nutrition close at hand during long writing projects. One must keep up ones strength, right? Serving our “hunter and gatherer” nature, I’ve seen people tweet about potato chips and cold pizza, cheese cake and tim tams … and the desperate need to run out and get some if the cupboard is bare of such delicacies. They chatter about the aroma of dinner cooking in the crock pot and the excitement of grilling steaks outside in the snow. There’s no escaping it and I’m certainly one of the biggest culprits.

No, this isn’t a blog about gaining weight (I say as I look over my shoulder at my widening behind). This is a blog about staying sharp and alert while coping with that major rewrite, edit, new novel plotting, or non-fic computer research ahead. Euell Gibbons was right about one thing, it’s natural and important for humans to snack regularly, but what Euell Gibbons used to eat, I hardly recognize as food.

Writing is a creative process, so I propose we feed our bodies and minds with creative food … snacks that are easy to prepare ahead of time and perfect for refueling the mental and physical machine … refreshments that won’t make the keyboard sticky or require assembly attention. Simple, yummy, energy designed tidbits to keep your momentum high and reach your deadlines!

So, I’ve decided to do a Thursday blog to address this issue of “Writer’s Munchie Mania” and share a few of my culinary skills along the way. I promise the recipes will take little time to prepare and be ubber satisfying too. Here goes!

I thought we’d start with Caramel Coffee Nuts, as most of us are still suffering the Holiday Saber Sweet Tooth. What else does a writer need? Caramel because it’s luscious, coffee because it’s vital, and nuts because … well, just because. I see these nuts as a delicious way to remind us to put a little sweetness and humor into those antagonists, keep the bad guy interesting and then, of course, be creative. At the end of every recipe will be suggestions on how to pump it up and make it a little different.

Caramel Coffee Walnuts

1 C Brown Sugar

½ C White Sugar

½ C Sour Cream

1 T Instant Coffee

Combine and cook all above ingredients to 260 degrees or until a drop of mixture, dripped into a glass of cold water, creates a soft ball.

Remove mixture from heat and add 1 tsp. Vanilla

Fold 2 ½ C Whole Walnuts into hot mixture then distribute individual coated nuts on wax paper. Let dry for 24 hours. Store in sealed container. Caramel Coffee Walnuts will last as long as your willpower to avoid them lasts and not a minute longer.

Variations:

For Spicy version, add ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes before cooking mixture

For Apple Pie version, add ¼ tsp. Cinnamon before cooking mixture

For Tea version, substitute Powdered Chai Mix for the instant coffee

For texture variations, use mixed nuts or your favorite nuts. Note: cashews create a unique flavor profile and pecans add even more sweetness.

Enjoy!

Next week: balls, a yummy variety of finger food for facing the dreaded rewriting projects. After all, it’s common knowledge that it takes a lot of balls to do the job well.

In the meantime, if you have a great recipe or favorite snack that gets you through a long day at the keyboard, please share. We’re all starving to hear about it!


The Right Ways to WRITE SEX

Interview with Sascha Illyvich, member of the all new WriteSex blog.

Are you one of those wonderful writers who can pen a fantastic saga, create fantasy worlds and pull emotion from every corner of a character … but you somehow get stopped dead in your tracks when it comes to writing a fabulous sex scene? Does finding the words and the perfect place in the manuscript for physical love scenes baffle and befuddle you? Or, do you write great love scenes but just know you can write, build and climax them better if you just knew the tricks?

Erotica has been around since the Egyptian masons carved joking sex scenes in stone showing a worker being screwed by his boss. The first romantic verse that can be described as purely erotic and explains the sensations of climax is recorded in an ancient Mesopotamian poem. Writing and communicating strong erotica has been around a long time and like all skills, there are a few wizards out there who are willing to teach us all how to be better at it.

On Thursday, January 7, 2010 a new weekly blog will hit the cyberspace that is sure to improve your writing skills where erotica is concerned. I had the opportunity to talk with Sasha Illyvich, member of the WriteSex team, about exactly what we can expect.

Riley: Sascha, can you tell us who else is in this specialized group of Erotica Writers?

Sascha: Certainly.  The ever talented erotica author M. Christian, lusty and gorgeous Oceania who is the voice of erotica.  We have Jean Marie Stine, owner of Renaissance E-books signed onboard.  Bestselling author of Gay erotic romance, Em Lynley joins us along with Dark Erotic author Thomas Roche.  Rounding out the panel is Dr. Nicole Peeler.

Riley: What made you and these other professional authors decide to share your expertise?

Sascha: Simply put, we have something of value for the writing community.  Many authors have desire to add erotic elements to their stories or just want to learn to write blue novels.  Our panel has done everything in between and can guide writers in any stage of their career.  I purposely chose Em Lynley and Dr. Nicole Peeler as the “youngest” in published fiction writing because the rest of us haven’t been in their shoes as new authors in many years.

Riley: How many different kinds of erotica are there? Are they really written differently?

Sascha: Many.  Styles, variations on themes, where the plot lies, make a difference in what you call you erotica.  Yes and no.

Riley: Is there really a ‘selling’ market for erotica?

Sascha: Definitely.  Outside of the Bible and Porn, erotica is in the top 5 of what’s selling.

Riley: What can writers expect to learn from your weekly WriteSex blogs?

Sascha: Everything they’ll ever want to know about writing smut or adding spice to your stories, we’ll teach.  We’ll cover marketing basics as well as how to approach publishers.  We’ll cover the hows and whys of erotica from what it is to what it’s not, how to deal with backlash from friends and how to make industry contacts that matter. Technique and structure of stories will be discussed along with how to be versatile in any market.  How to approach publishers will be covered along with the darker erotic markets and some website SEO stuff by a guest blogger.  We’ll cover e-book and print basics also.

There you have it, another opportunity to expand your writing skills, get your readers to do a little squirming while they read your work, and an uncovered market for selling it. The WriteSex Blog will go live on Thursday, January 7th and I’ll do an announcement right here. I’m thinking this is something no writer will want to miss!


The Holidays Bit my Blog!

Opps! I almost completely forgot to blog! It’s Thursday, right? Who else is twisted with holiday responsibilities and trying to keep some semblance of a rational schedule? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

It’s suddenly gotten nuts around here. When did it get to be December 10th? This is all California’s fault. Even though this fine December, the weather has given me a cold blast (nothing by Pittsburgh PA’s standards but hey, my blood has thinned over the past three years), I’m still always confused about the seasons. If it wasn’t for the malls and those goofy, blow-up lawn decorations, I might miss Christmas all together.

One year, I had put up the tree and never got around to decorating it. Seriously. On Christmas Eve I took it down, too embarrassed for company to arrive and see a naked artificial blue spruce (the poor thing wasn’t even sporting a skirt). It was easier to explain I just didn’t want to put it up than tell them how disappointed I was that I didn’t have time to decorate it.

Over all the years of my adult life, the Holidays have been a touchstone that has kept me sane in a vibrating, insane sort of way. It’s like those moments right before the batteries run out (you think what you want) and you know you’ve gotta finish what you’re doing before it happens. Ten years ago I vowed to change it, to downsize the frenzy and find real peace in the Season. Now I’m afraid it’s gotten a little out of hand. Why else would I forget to enjoy the Holidays?

I suppose I’m obsessive compulsive. If I write, that’s all I do. When I find a favorite movie, I watch it again and again. If I’m in a Rusted Root or Counting Crows mood, it’s all I listen too. If I diet, I never eat enough. When I smoke, I smoke too much. If I decide to clean … well, you get the point.

I think it’s time for a little balance, so I’ve made a conscious decision to permit some of the Holiday craziness back into my life this year. I never expected it to take over but it’s my decision and I’m sticking to it. Now, let’s see, I must …

  1. Bake cookies
  2. Make wonderful food gifts
  3. Go shopping and actually read through the lists of what people want
  4. Clean the house
  5. Put up the tree AND decorate it
  6. Plan a Christmas brunch for the family
  7. Wrap all the gifts I make or buy
  8. Smile at everyone
  9. Restrain from hating those goofy inflatable lawn decorations people have
  10. Lose 10 pounds


Okay, what did I forget? Oh yeah, BALANCE. Now, let’s see, I must …

  1. Bake healthy cookies … and write between batches (yes, that sounds good)
  2. Make food gifts but maybe write a few gifts too, recipes are nice (now I’m cooking!)
  3. Go shopping, but after I’ve written and handled my publicity clients needs (must pay the bills)
  4. Clean the house, in spurts, between editing chapters or doing research (that feels possible)
  5. Put up the tree AND decorate it … AND be inspired by it to … write (right?)
  6. Plan Christmas brunch, but keep it simple (so I have time and energy to do what I really want to do … write)
  7. Wrap all the gifts in those pretty gift bags. (Someone give the inventor of gift bags the Nobel Peace Prize, please.)
  8. 8)      Smile at everyone. Easy, I’ll stay home most of the season, so I won’t see too many people. (I’d rather smile while I write anyway.)
  9. Restrain from hating those goofy inflatable lawn decorations – okay, I draw the line here. The best I can do is write an article about how much I HATE those things! Some of them even play Christmas Music! Can you believe it? And of course, the music is OFF KEY.
  10. Lose 10 pounds … okay … forget it.

All right, so maybe balance is more about doing what you really love to do while dealing with what you’d rather not do. If I play my cards right, I will enjoy this Holiday Season and still retain my time to write, cook, smile and HATE THOSE BLOW UP LAWN DECORATIONS.

See, told ya. Obsessive. And by the way, if all the fat air-filled Santa’s in Los Angeles are flat as a pancake on Christmas morning, I’m innocent. I don’t even own a penknife. Honest.


Promotions: The Difference between “Free” and “Cheap”

I’ve never known a writer who wasn’t starving for something. Some want more time, some need ideas, most desire a champion to fight for them, and in this time of shifting publishing industry paradigm, all of them need to promote. The problem is, first-time authors just don’t have the money to do it right. Enter – the internet and every crazy “free” or “no charge” scam imaginable. It’s just the tip of the iceberg and very little of it is designed for long term results. Many are design to feed our egos, and most take advantage of ignorance about the publicity, marketing or promotions process. Always remember what your mom said, “You get what you pay for”. 

Today I’d like to explore a few specific tags authors on a tight budget seem to hone in on. Free, Cheap, Inexpensive, Reasonable, and Value/Value Added

FREE 

This is easily the most powerful word in the English language, maybe even more effective than “Fire!” Free falls into the bin with Easy, Stress Free and Child’s Play. Come now, you’re a writer. Has anything in this process been easy, stress free or child’s play? What makes you think promoting your book will go any smoother than writing it? Free is where the phrase Bait and Switch comes in to play. Let’s take an example: press release services. 

You’ve just written a sterling press release announcing the release of your book (or where you’ll be doing a book event, or when you’ll be interviewed on a radio show). Now you need to create a list for where to send it. But it’s more complicated than that, you must specify who will receive it at each target media. There are options here. You could painstakingly create a killer media press release list of your own by doing research and compiling everything yourself. Oh, that may be free but is sure isn’t easy. Or, you can seek out an already developed list, so you troll the web and low and behold, you find not one but several Press Release List services that boast the word FREE! You’re in like Flint, right? Wrong. Take a closer look. 

Yes, for free you will have your press release go out, but you won’t know to whom, nor can you specify an industry or subject in which the release should be categorized. You need two days lag time for the company to screen your press release and deem it inoffensive before it’s actually sent out. Seems reasonable, in fact, even paid press release email services take the time to look over your submission. Here’s the catch. For Free, you don’t get to add any attachments (i.e. your book cover or photo), you don’t know where the release is going, you don’t know if it was ever received so you have no idea how or with whom you should follow up, AND, you don’t even have proof it went out. 

I’m not condemning free press release email services. I’m only pointing out that such services make it extremely difficult to gauge the success of your press releases. 

If you go back to the main page of that press release mailing service site, you will see a chart. THE chart. The one that shows you what you get if you pay for it. Online email press release services range from free to hundreds of dollars per release. The super expensive services are not a scam; they include AP wire service, international targets and client specification down to the smallest detail. Those are the services that provide reports that gauge success. 

Nothing is free, at least nothing that works. Sorry. 

CHEAP 

Okay, time to look at Cheap. You need to self promote, there are no two ways about it. Without tooting your own horn, you will be lost in the tall weeds. Cheap directions can include a few free things, but in this category, everything requires your careful watchful eye and diligence. Websites can be created cheaply, but they don’t need to look cheap, so it may be beneficial to get some help in that area. If money is too tight, think about trading services instead of cash. For example, a friend who builds beautiful websites may occasionally need a writer to pen the blurbs for his/her clients. 

Blogging is cheap. Well, in most cases it’s free, but your time isn’t, so budget your time carefully to assure that your blog is updated and promoted regularly. Same with Twitter, FaceBook and all the other online exposure venues you are using. Saying you’re on Twitter and actually tweeting regularly are two different things. I have to laugh when clients tell me Twitter does nothing for them. A little exploration explains how they’ve done nothing to make Twitter a viable tool. Things like having a website, a blog and social marketing are the life blood of making yourself and your book known. Yes they’re cheap, but they can really score big if handled correctly. It’s a strategic investment of time and energy. 

INEXPENSIVE 

It’s a relative concept and depends on how empty your pockets really are. The best way to seek and utilize the illusive inexpensive strategies is to create them. Think outside the box. Maybe you can’t get on Oprah but why aren’t you trying to get on your local public television shows? Maybe speaking at the biggest bookstore chain isn’t possible due to scheduling, but look around, aren’t there fifteen small independent book stores and libraries nearby? Maybe you can’t purchase a quarter-page ad in the newspaper, but printing out flyers and posting them at your local market, beauty salon, your pet’s vet, your dentist’s office or any business related to your book subject just may be extremely effective. 

The difference between expensive and inexpensive is elbow grease. Trust me, you can work around anything and get astounding results if you just think creatively and work it to the bone. Lots of small efforts lead to big exposure that just may put you on the map sooner than you think. 

REASONABLE 

What’s reasonable for you? It depends on your goals. If you’ve self published, printed only a thousand books and have put no efforts in creating your platform, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be a New York Times best selling author by Christmas. Finding reasonable solutions to building success often takes an author back to the original question: Why did they want to write a book in the first place? Make a pot of coffee, grab a note pad, refresh the answer to that question and start getting reasonable. 

Writing is a career, not a pastime, not a fun thing we like to do … it’s a business. If you opened a corner coffee shop (self published), you’d be taking on an inventory based business with built-in competition. You’d do whatever you had to do to bring people off the sidewalk and into your doors. You’d create specials and maybe buy 5 get the 6 cup ‘o coffee free cards. You know why you’d work this hard? Simple. You’d do it because your failure would be painfully obvious when the “Out of Business” sign goes up in the window. When you’re on your own, it’s tougher. 

Now, let’s imagine that instead of being independent, you buy a Starbuck’s franchise (traditionally published). You’ve got guidelines, you’ve got training, specific products, national advertising and an already established following. Cool huh? But guess what, you still have to be there to open the doors, hire the employees, stock the shelves, make acceptable vanilla lattes and meet expectations. You have a lot of help but failure is still a looming possibility. 

Everyone has to work at it, and in the case of authors, reasonable is all about knowing your limitations and needs. It’s about understanding the professionals you need, choosing them carefully and working with them to get the success you want. Whether you opened an indi coffee shop or a shiny new Starbucks, you still have the same goals. Good professionals know how to help you reach them. Don’t randomly hire marketing experts, publicists, advertising agencies or even personal assistants. Make sure the relationship is reasonable for you, your wallet and your target goals. 

Oh, and just like owning that coffee shop, with hiring comes possible dismissal. Know how to say, “enough, it’s not working” and move on.

VALUE/VALUE ADDED

Promotional Marketing is about glitz and glamour, it’s about loud bongs and flashy lights and gaining awareness that results in sales. 

The problem is, as the creator of the product, we tend to get mesmerized by all that sparkle. Like a dog that suddenly stops mid-stride because he noticed a squirrel, we have a habit of falling head over heels in love with the ego-feeding super promotions. 

Please note, that doesn’t mean that those particular promotions are bad or ineffective or even ill advised. They may be perfect for your book, but the author’s responsibility is to stop drooling, take a deeper look and decide intelligently. Explore the value of the promotion … and seek out the added value, because therein lies the power. 

For example, who doesn’t get excited about things like book videos, high profile ads, audio books voiced by famous actors, a possible movie deal or international interest for translated publication of their book? It’s so heart-pounding it makes the head spin. There are three things you must think about before you swoon with visions of expectant riches. 

1)      Cool as it may be, does the promotion really serve to reach your reader target? Many promos blast off about reaching a million viewers, but honestly, if you’ve written a dark literary novel about the history of the Druids, and a large portion of the viewers boasted happen to be YA readers who prefer sparkly vampires, this may not be the promotion for you. How will you know if you don’t demand proof of the demographic receiving the promo info? And oh hell yes, you certainly can demand, after all, you are paying for this, right?

2)      Is it necessary? Really, it makes perfect sense to do an audio book version of your amazing Druid novel … but is it really necessary to get Russell Crowe to do the recorded read? Isn’t it the story that’s important? Wouldn’t an unknown with the perfect voice do just as well and cost … oh … less than your mortgage and/or first born male child?

3)      Where’s the added value? Some of these services have taken things several steps further to help assure success for not only their product, but their client’s promotion. For example, never, ever even consider having a book video produced unless the company offers a strong marketing package to make it all work. Yes, it’ll cost a bit more, but what good is having a cool book video if no one sees it? Ask for the added value packages, look them over carefully and choose the one most likely to create the success you want. 

So, there you go, the difference between Free, Cheap, Inexpensive, Reasonable and Value/Value Added. Any questions or comments? I’d love to hear your input.