WANTED – Authors for Featured Author Spot

wantedNOW Looking for August, September & October! 

Are you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published. In the past 5 years, I have hosted 288 authors on my site!

The Featured Author post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

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Today’s Featured Author – Michelle Stimpson

Please welcome author Michelle Stimpson to my blog. Michelle currently is on a virtual book tour for her short story, Who Killed My Husband?, which was released in June.

Guest Post – Advice for first time authors

The publishing industry has changed tremendously since I first became an author in 2004. In fact, I would say that anything written about publishing/marketing books before 2012 is pretty close to obsolete.  Here’s what I would tell first-time authors who are entering the market in this digital age.

  • If you’re writing non-fiction, know the purpose of the book before you publish. Did you write this book to get clients? To establish yourself as a fresh, innovative voice in your field? If your goal is to use this book to validate your expertise, use it that way—not necessarily as a money-making tool. You might end up giving away more copies to secure radio/TV appearances than actually selling them online to the general public.
  • If your goal is to become a full-time writer, realize that also means become a full-time marketer. This doesn’t mean you have to become a sales person, per se, it just means you have to be serious and deliberate about reaching your market with your message. Be prepared to pay money in order to get in people’s faces on social media and Amazon. Free advertising is just about over these days. Can you post stuff on your page? Yes. Can you make and share memes? Yes. But the question is: How many people will get to see them? These days, not many unless you pay for the exposure. Don’t be afraid of this. You can start small ($2-5 a day for 7 days), then gauge your success. If it’s not working, quit and try something else. When it does work, scale up to $10 and more a day for as long as it works. You’ve got to think of this like: Somebody’s selling 20-dollar-bills for $10. The only catch is you have to wait 60 days to get the $20. If you’re in it for the long haul, this is not a problem.
  • If you really don’t have a goal for your book, that’s okay, too. Whatever happens happens. It’s all good. Write because you want to have fun with it. If your book helps just one person, you’ve succeeded in your own way. This is what matters most. You won’t have to live with regrets your whole life about not ever writing the book that’s been sitting on your heart.

Book Blurb

Ashley Crandall finally convinced her husband, Allan, to attend the Christian men’s retreat…but he ends up dead there. What happened to him on the campgrounds? Who would want to kill Allan? And why are the detectives pointing fingers at Ashley? In her quest to solve the mystery and clear her name, Ashley will learn something about her husband that she didn’t want to know and something about her Christian faith that shifts her life.

About the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults. In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at http://www.wegottaread.com. Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, TX. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations, and she has taught writing classes at the University of Texas at Arlington. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

You can find out more about Michelle on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Who Killed My Husband? on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Google.

Today’s Featured Author – Pat Simmons

Today, please welcome author Pat Simmons. Her latest book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. She is currently finishing up her novella, Late Summer Love, which should be out by the end of summer.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My Name is Pat Simmons. I’ve been a wife for 34 years and a mother of a son and daughter. I graduated from a great college in Boston, and eventually worked in my field of broadcast journalism for over twenty years. I started in radio and was truly blessed with an opportunity to transition into television news for ten years. Because of my media experience, I head the publicity team for the RT Booklovers Conventions. In my free time, when I’m not writing, which seems like all the time, I enjoy sewing, tracing my family roots, reading, and watching romance movies.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

It was my play mother, the late Lorna Robnett. She had faith in me that I could do anything, especially after she heard me weave a story to a houseful of guests.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received an email from a reader about my first book. That’s when it kicked in that I really was an author. That was 10 years ago.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I think each story has a little bit of Pat Simmons’ personality in them, or my alter ego, like Grandma BB or Sandra Nicholson in the Jamieson Legacy series. Grandma BB is the seventy something smart talking childless widow who says what she wants, when she wants. On the other end is sweet and sanctified Sandra Nicholson, who finally found love in her early sixties and married him. She was the epitome of an uncompromised Christian woman. The Confession won the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance in 2016, so I was happy readers fell in love with Sandra and Raimond’s story. My news background has sparked many a plots in my stories. It’s my curiosity about a subject that has created great storylines, like Guilty by Association. Kidd Jamieson wasn’t fond of carrying his absentee father’s last night, but thanks to my genealogy search, I was able to write his story when I uncovered documents that showed pages of enslaved African Americans who were buried without last names.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Actually, I’m sitting on the second edits of a completed novel, Mystery of Love, because I’m trying to finish Late Summer Love before summer is over. I’ll close out the year with my annual Christmas novellas, Prayers Answered by Christmas, which is a sequel to Couple by Christmas. I’m looking forward to writing it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Yes, I’ve been writing full-time for about nine years. When I run short on cash, I’ll work a temp assignment, but my steady income is from my monthly royalties, mainly from eBooks. Since I’m a Christian author, I begin my day with prayer time, I study my Bible, hoping God will give me a message to incorporate in a scene, or a personal word of encouragement for me. After that, I try to start writing my ten a.m., and many times will write until midnight. I do take breaks for chores, eating, and a movie with my husband, but I spend a lot of my time doing administrative tasks: reading and sending emails, looking for blog content, newsletter content, monitoring my social media accounts, looking for stock photos for book covers, and most importantly, staying on my writing schedule to meet my releases. I think every author is always in search of promotional opportunities, me included.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

I want to say I’m in control of my income, but it’s God who supplies my needs, especially when I’m on the road and can’t write, or my funds get low. The worst? People don’t think I work—that writing isn’t a job, and therefore, I have to tell me people I’ll call them back or let it go to voicemail, then I forget to check voicemail. The other thing is some people think I can write a book in a month or less—I wish.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Since I release three to four books a year, I appreciate outlining them. I didn’t at first. When I did, I would go off the outline anyway, usually by chapter 7. But even now, God gives me fresh scenes every morning and I say, “Thank you, Lord that is a good one.”

Please tell us about your current release.

My recent book, Love by Delivery, was released in February. Since then, I’ve completed a full length novel entitled Mystery of Love that is waiting for me to do the second round of edits until I finished Late Summer Love.

What inspired you to write Late Summer Love?

It’s a sequel. Readers wanted Paige Blake to find happiness.

How did you come up with the title?

I got the idea last year while I attended my husband’s family reunion. The plot was perfect for Paige’s story, so I had planned to name it Summer Reunion, but a fellow friend had a release called Winter Reunion, so I changed it to Summer Love, but when my first round of re-writes for Mystery of Love worked me over, I knew my novella wasn’t going to hit a May or June release. I told my husband the story had to come out before the end of summer because it was called Summer Love. He joked, “It’s going to be a late summer love.” I thought about it, and tweaked the title and gave him the credit.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Of course. They are a mixture of physical characteristics, personalities and mannerisms. My best friend says she can hear our voices in my characters’ conversations.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

My hero: Blake Cross. It’s easy on the eyes and has a good heart.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This is book 2 of the Perfect Chance at Love series. I have to come up with another scenario for my main character’s cousin. I don’t have anything yet. I’m sure it will come to me.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

All my characters have too many issues for me to jump into their shoes. LOL. They all have happy endings, but their journeys aren’t easy. I’ll pass.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I have a home office that faces the front. I can write and be nosy—a great combination for an author.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

That I read—The Warmth of the Other Sun; That I’ve written—Crowning Glory.What book are you reading right now? I won’t read until I finish a project, then I’ll read three and four books to detach from my characters. I have a TBR pile.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

I’m around a lot of authors—indie and New York Times bestselling authors like Sylvia Day, Charlene Harris, Brenda Jackson, and Francine Rivers. So I count it a privilege to mingle with these ladies and others at the yearly RT Booklovers Convention

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I do have bouts of shyness, but nobody believes it—seriously!

Book Blurb

Could a chance meeting during two family reunions be God playing matchmaker? Paige Blake recently witnessed her best friend marry. Now, Paige is struggling to tame the pity party stirring within her heart, questioning whether God had forgotten about a husband for her. After twelve years of serving his country, Blake Cross is ready for civilian life. He soon learns there is another battle he must fight. When he meets Paige on an elevator, he’s drawn to her. There’s one slight complication to win her heart. Blake has to surrender to the Lord’s will in his life first.

About the Author

Pat is the multi-published author of more than thirty titles, and is a three-time recipient of Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, Pat is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Currently, overseeing the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions, Pat has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and her administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.

You can find out more about Pat and her books on her website.

You can sign up on a wait list for Late Summer Love here or check out the rest of Pat’s books on Amazon.

Authors WANTED – Friday Featured #Author Spot

wantedAre you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published.

The post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

WhiteSmoke down 3 weeks, almost had to find a new grammar program

I have written a few times on my blog about using Grammar-checking software. Back in 2012, I found the program WhiteSmoke. It is a cloud-based program that has done a good job of checking grammar for my blog and novels.

At the end of October, I received a notice that my license expired, which is odd since I upgraded two years to a license that doesn’t expire. I tried contacting the company through their support page. No response. I tried e-mail. No response. I called and the phone just rang and rang.

I went to the company’s Facebook page and found out that I was not the only one with this problem. Many customers on their Facebook page reported the same thing. Their life-time license wasn’t working, and they can’t get a hold of anyone in the company by phone, email, Facebook or through the support system.

This went on for almost a month, so I decide the company must no longer exist and began looking for a new grammar-checking program.

Now I know that grammar-checking software is not fool-proof. There is no software out there that will catch every error. Even WhiteSmoke sometimes would suggest things that weren’t correct or at least made no sense. These were typically word choices and not punctuation situations. You do have to review each suggestion to make sure it is correct for what you are writing.

Beyond WhiteSmoke (which was at top pick in 2016 by TopTenReviews.com), the next two most popular programs seem to be Grammerly (number 2 on TopTenReviews) and Ginger (not rated on TopTenReviews). Another site ranks Grammarly as number one – followed by Ginger and WhiteSmoke.

Here is a quick look at the other two.

Grammarly (website

  • It offers a free version but will only give writing suggestions on the paid version.
  • Paid version checks for more errors than free version.
  • More Expensive than WhiteSmoke and Ginger at $139.95 for a year subscription
  • It includes a Plagiarism checker on premium version.
  • No free trial of premium version

Ginger Software (website

  • Works on multiple platforms
  • Free version only analyzes a limited number of words per check and not the whole text.
  • No plagiarism tool
  • Offers two paid versions – basic and premium – The basic version is $61.20 per year.
  • It includes dictionary and translation tools which Grammarly doesn’t.
  • The software will actually read your sentences or the words it suggests be replaced.
  • I found it hard to find anything on the site other than the free version. I figure after you download it, they might “suggest” the upgrade.

Both look like good options, and I was trying to make my decision on which one to go with when all of a sudden I received an email from WhiteSmoke. They reported that their servers had experienced technical difficulties, and they had been working non-stop to fix them. I guess that means they were too busy to update their website (that was still taking orders) or post on their Facebook page or at least have a message on their phone for all of those of us panicking that our program no longer worked.

So as of today, their program is back to working. Now with this last bit of poor customer service, I am not sure I want to recommend them to others, but I am going to continue to use them since I have already bought the non-expiring, free upgrades license from two years ago. But at least now if something does really happen to them, I know I have two other good programs to choose between.

Take the time to proofread everything you write

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post on the need for people to be able to write a professional e-mail. Soon after that, the principal of my kids’ school sent out a long email riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors. Many of the teachers seemed quite embarrassed by it.

When we as authors get ready to submit or publish our book, we usually take great pains to proofread the text, whether we do it ourselves or hire someone else to do it. Even then mistakes slip through the cracks. But beyond your book, do you proofread everything you send? Or are you like the principal and just send something out without a second glance?

proofI have to say that I spend probably way too much time crafting my emails. I almost never jot off a quick message. I read and re-read it to make sure it says what I want it to say clearly. This actually is considered editing. It is the looking for grammatical and typographical errors that are considered proofreading. I typically give my email a once over for punctuation before sending it.

Now I can say for a fact that not all authors do the same. I get email correspondence all the time from authors for my Friday Featured Author spot. And then there are the submissions – especially the author interviews and author bios. Many times I see grammar, punctuation and style errors in these documents.

Now sometimes, I may make the correction such as italicizing the book titles, but often I don’t have the time to correct someone else’s work. I did put in paragraph breaks for the one author, who didn’t seem to think he needed any. This was on an excerpt, and I don’t know how he thought anyone would want to read this long block of text.

Both the emails and the submissions for my blog, in my opinion, should be proofread before submitting. These authors are putting their work out there for others to see. If I was a reader and I saw an interview riddled with mistakes in grammar and punctuation, I might wonder about whether the author’s books are this way too. (Of course, course I guess it could be reflecting poorly on me since it is my blog. I hadn’t think about that until just now.)

So my suggestion for authors is to proofread everything you write – from a quick email, to your interview questions, to your post on your own blog and of course your novel.

Some tips for proofreading:

  • Take a break between writing and proofing
  • Read the text aloud
  • Read it backwards
  • Use a grammar-checker – but don’t rely solely on grammar or spell check.
  • Print out your text and proof it on paper versus the screen.
  • Have someone else read it

As an author, you want to have the best image possible. To ensure that comes across to your associates and potential readers, please make sure you proofread all of your correspondence and anything meant for posting online.

Pricing your e-book – revisited

When I began this blog, I wrote about pricing your e-book. This was three and a half years ago, and I was new to the industry. Today, many authors still struggle with how to price their e-books.

You worked hard – spending months, even years – on this book. You think it is worth as much as any New York best-seller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognize your name.

Now while e-book versions of New York bestsellers sell from $6.99 to $14.99 (based on my quick glances of prices from three well-known authors), should you expect the same price for your book?

In my opinion, no. You may have a well-written novel but people don’t know you, and many will not be willing to shell out that type of money for an unknown.

There are readers out there who only want discount books. Some will pay 99 cents while others think they can find enough good “free” books. And then there are those readers who are suspicious of a cheaply priced book and consider those not worth their time.

You have to decide what the readers of your genre will pay. And you have to decide what you feel comfortable pricing your book. Sure you want to make money but if no one buys your book because it is priced too high, then even if it is a quality read it won’t sell.

pricingI am among the readers who will not pay high prices for books, whether they are from famous, well-known names or unknowns. I buy books anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99 from an unknown author. And I don’t go much higher for those well-known authors like Nora Roberts. I wait until I see the book on sale (usually in paperback) and buy it then.  I don’t think I have every paid over $7 for a fiction e-book.

How you determine your e-book price is totally up to you. You can price it high because you think it is worth that, or because you know how much work went into writing, editing and publishing your work. But readers typically don’t care much about what goes into writing a book. They only care about the end result. They want to know what is in it for them.

Assumingly that is hours of enjoying a good book. It can also take them to exotic destinations or even to other worlds. It can introduce them to interesting characters. It can provide them an escape from daily life. Your book may be able to offer them all this and more.

But just because you offer all this to your reader doesn’t mean you can automatically price your book at a higher price. Many readers will still not take a chance at a new author with books priced too high. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore your books value to the reader. It just means you need to price it low enough to entice readers to give it a try.

As with anything, there is always an exception to any “rule.” There is nothing wrong with offering a short story or the first book in the series at a really low price to entice a reader to give your work a try. My short story, The Search, is free everywhere but Amazon (where it is just 99 cents). I wrote this short prequel to my The Elemental trilogy to be a loss-leader. I am hoping people will download (or buy it) and enjoy it so much that they will want to buy the next three books (and then my stand-alone book, The Heir to Alexandria). I know many authors that have the first book in their series either perma-free or priced at 99 cents for the same reason.

So bottom line…consider carefully what price you give your e-book. A lot of authors, including myself, price their books at the $2.99 mark since this allows the higher royalty rate on Amazon but is still low enough to entice readers to give an unknown author a try. Is this rate right for you? Only you – and the e-book market – can decide.