Friday, October 30, 2009

Tips for Authors - 200 or 400 pages?

Back in 2000 when I was thinking about publishing my first book, I had the opportunity to send the manuscript to a friend's book agent. My friend had used his connections to get my book looked at and I was thrilled. The agent told me up front that he didn't work with book's in my genre (pre-teen) but he'd be happy to read/comment on it. A month later, I received a call from the agent. He was very nice, gave me lots of compliments, but said that my book was too long. "Too long," I asked. "Yes, you need to cut it by about half." How was I going to do that? But after getting over my disappointment, I set to work on my manuscript and realized the agent was correct. I'd put in too much information. It all seemed important when I wrote it, but going back through the text, I realized much of it had to go. And go it did. I worked (chopped, really) on that manuscript for another several months. Eventually, my book was published and the story had a happy ending (20,000 sold of that one title and winner of The International Reading Associations 'Children's Choices').

We get a lot of books in for review that are just too long. This doesn't mean that it takes the reviewer too long to read, that we'd rather have a shorter book. Instead, it means that the author, like I did back in 2000, put too much into his/her book. After you've got a first draft, go back through and see if you've included too much extraneous information. For example, if you're describing a minor character, unless it plays an important function in the plot, does the reader need 5 pages of background history on that character? You might feel it is important but your reader(s) may feel a big yawn coming on and put the book down. Keep the writing crisp and keep your reader turning the pages.

Price wars again

Wal-Mart, Amazon Limiting Discounted Purchases

Reprinted with permission of
Publishers Weekly

Plans by independent booksellers to buy the 10 November titles being offered at steep discounts by Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon have been foiled by the big box retailers who are limiting the number of books one customer can buy. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart is limiting purchases to two copies per customer, Amazon has a three-copy limit and Target five. There has been lots of discussion in bookseller forums about buying quantities of titles at the big box retailers as a protest to the discounting policies, but also as way to get a better margin since the 10 books would be cheaper to buy from the stores than from the publishers.

Guest marketing posts coming

Stay tuned next week for some guest posts from Joel Orr on how to use a book in your information business effectively. From Joel's site, Joel Orr Coaching, "Dr. Joel N. Orr is a futurist, speaker, and writer, who became a book coach, who helps people produce and publish their books. "You have a book inside you, and it wants to come out!" says Orr. "I want to help you set it free!" ... Joel established himself as a world-renowned expert in engineering automation and computer technologies. He helped found Cyon Research Corporation, a publishing and consulting firm.

Much in demand as a keynote speaker, Joel has addressed conferences, companies, and associations around the world, often sharing the platform with speakers such as Tom Peters, George Gilder, Jack Kemp, and others. Orr was also co-founder and president of the NCGA (National Computer Graphics Association) and president of the Virtual Worlds Society. Autodesk Corporation named Orr a “Distinguished Fellow” for a three-year period that ended in 1993. From 1997 to 2001, Bentley Systems, Inc. designated him their “Engineering Laureate.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today's Author Magazine

Here's a great promo opportunity for all authors. Today's Author is an internet radio show run by David Ewen. He's now got an up-dated website where you can view the various shows. Check it out and see about getting yourself on the show! Tell him Ellen Feld sent you....

Here's the information sent out about the magazine: The latest edition of TAN Magazine has been released. Today’s Author News Magazine is the magazine for publishing professionals. You’ll get editorials, interviews and publishing updates. All editions can be found at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ripple Gets Ready to Launch

Please join Jaye Kephart and the
Ripple team as we celebrate the
launch of
Thursday, October 29, 2009 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Ripple, Inc.
2630 W. Belleview Ave., Suite 200, Littleton CO, 80123
(enter on the south side of the building)


Live product demonstrations.
FREE Ripple recording giveaways.
Autographed children's book raffles.
Name a new Ripple character
contest for the kids.
Meet children's book authors,
including Kerry Lee MacLean, author of
Ripple's first book,
Sophie's Not Afraid.
Grandparents, parents and kids welcome.

FREE Book Contest - Time Running Out!

October's book giveaway contest is quickly coming to an end. This month's offering is Golden's Rule, a teen novel that received a 5-star review from Feathered Quill. There's still time to enter so if you, or somebody you know, would enjoy this book, enter the contest. Not sure? Then check out the review first. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Marketing 101 - Blogging

If you're an author, you've likely heard over and over, "you need a blog." Do you really need a blog? The ultimate question is, will having a blog help sell books? The answer is, it depends (there's never an easy answer!).

Blogs are all the rage, and everybody seems to have one. Your sister has one, your best friend has one, and even your child's school has one. But the important question is, who is reading them? A blog is only useful if it succeeds in attracting a significant number of visitors who faithfully read the various posts. Hopefully, a number of those visitors will turn into buyers of your book.

So, the next question is, how do you attract visitors and how do you keep them reading your blog? First, just like a website, you need to advertise your blog by getting other sites/blogs to link to it. Use the address in your name signature for your email lists, etc. Basically, do what you do to advertise your website. Next, you MUST have something to offer your readers. Commenting day to day on insignificant (to them) events related to your book (hey, I just got a review!) will lose readers quicker than you can say "read my blog!" Offer articles related to your book's topic (after all, that's the topic that readers have come to your blog to learn about). Comment on current events related to your topic/genre. Perhaps an occasional post linking to other sites that have something interesting to say on the topic. Finally, you must post frequently. The whole point of a blog is to offer up-to-the-minute information. Posting once or twice a month is useless.

If you honestly don't have a lot to offer on your book's topic (and it is harder than it might seem) to continually post to a blog, then you might be better off spending your limited time on other apsects of marketing. Having a half-hearted blog that few readers subscribe to will not help your image, nor will it sell books.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tips for Authors - Marking books "for review"

This question comes up frequently - should you mark your review books "Review Copy - Not for Sale"? Some marketing sites say absolutely not, reviewers want a pristine copy to add to their collection. If it's marked as a review copy, they won't accept it. Here at Feathered Quill Book Reviews, our response to that question is, "sure, why not?"

There is a lot of suspicion of some sites selling their review copies - and this is a heated topic - so we want to assure our authors that the review copies they send to Feathered Quill WILL NOT wind up on Amazon or other sites. We don't mind our copies being marked for review. In fact, you could argue that such a mark makes the book unique. If you are submitting to a site that specifically requires unmarked books, then use your own judgement. If you believe that a review from that site is important, then it might be worth having a few copies possibly getting sold.

When submitting books, whether or not you mark them for review, it is a nice touch to sign the book. Again, if you're concerned, this time about a signed book getting sold, you can always add "To Feathered Quill (or whatever the site's name is), thanks for reviewing my book." It's a nice keepsake for the reviewer and lessens the chance of resale.

Amazon to Release Kindle for PC Application

Reprinted with permission of Pubisher's Weekly.

By Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 10/22/2009 1:49:00 PM

Beginning in November, Amazon will begin offering free downloads of Kindle for PC, an e-reading application that will allow consumers to download Kindle edition e-books to any PC running Windows 7, Windows XP or Windows Vista and read them on the PC. While the new application will allow Kindle owners to read their previously purchased Kindle titles on their PCs, it will also allow anyone with a PC to buy and download Kindle e-books directly to their PCs.
The Kindle for PC application follows Barnes & Noble’s launch of its digital reading device, called the Nook, a wireless-enabled reading device that will allow its owners to read their e-books on different devices and even to share them with other consumers. In fact, as the e-book market moves toward open platforms and away from proprietary formats, Amazon has stepped up its efforts to allow Kindle owners more flexibility to read their e-books (Kindle is a proprietary format) on other devices. First, Amazon developed the popular Kindle on iPhone/iPod Touch, and now this PC application. No word yet on a Kindle for Mac app.

The Kindle for PC software will also synchronize bookmarks and the last page read between the Kindle and the PC. PCs with Windows 7 will allow the user to use a finger-pinch to scale the text up or down and to turn pages with a finger swipe. The online retailer says it offers more than 360,000 Kindle format e-books for sale through the Kindle and the Kindle Web site on Amazon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ABA Asks for Government Investigation of Price Wars

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 10/22/2009

In a letter sent to the antitrust division of the Department of Justice Thursday, the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association requested that the government begin an investigation into what the organization believes is the illegal predatory pricing policies being carried out by Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target in selling 10 hardcover titles for as low as $8.98. The ABA requested a meeting with officials as soon as possible, arguing that left unchecked, the predatory pricing policies “will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to remain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public.”

The letter charged that the big box retailers are using predatory pricing practices to “attempt to win control of the market for hardcover bestsellers.” By selling books below cost, Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target “are devaluing the very concept of the book. Authors and publishers, and ultimately consumers, stand to lose a great deal if this practice continues and/or grows,” the letter stated. Furthermore, the letter noted, the companies involved in the price war are not engaged primarily in selling books, yet their fight could result in the entire book industry becoming collateral damage.

The letter added that the price war over hardcovers was precipitated by Amazon’s decision to price e-books at $9.99. “We believe the loss-leader pricing of digital content also bears scrutiny,” the letter stated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Barnes and Noble Digital Reader

Re-printed with permission from Publishers Weekly.

By Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 10/20/2009

Turns out that the mysterious photos released last week of a rumored Barnes & Noble-sponsored digital reader were the real deal. B&N CEO Steve Riggio along with B& president William Lynch were on hand to show off the new device—called the nook—at a packed press conference on the west side of Manhattan Tuesday afternoon. The nook is an unusual dual screen digital reader—it has 6” grayscale e-ink display screen with a full color backlit touch control screen situated just below—that raises the ante on E-Ink devices. The nook offers a virtual keyboard, 2 GB of internal memory with expandable (16 gig) SD card and 5 different fonts.

The device will go on sale exclusively in B&N stores and through B& at the end of November, and the site has already gone live. Priced, unsurprisingly, at $259, the same price as the Amazon Kindle 2, the nook not only offers wireless connectivity over a 3G network (AT&T) but also limited wi-fi connectivity as well. Nook owners can also wirelessly lend/transmit titles for up to 14 days (although once lent, the book’s owner cannot access it) to anyone else with a nook, iPhone or other selected smartphone OS that has the B&N eReader software installed.

The device supports ePub and PDF as well as the Fictionwise eReader format (the e-tailer was acquired by B&N last year) and consumers can purchase titles directly through the machine. Indeed, B&N is going all out to highlight its e-book flexibility—nook owners will be able to move their e-books around from device to device and read their B&N e-books on their iPhone, Blackberry or what have you. Lynch claimed the nook will synch with more than 100 mobile devices. In addition to the LendMe function, B&N plans to step up its in-store wi-fi broadcasting to allow nook owners to browse freely through any e-book they have for sale, while in the store—no downloading; content will be streamed. president Bill Lynch (l.) and the nook design team at the press conferenceIn fact, the nook’s wi-fi will initially be limited to in-store access and Lynch said B&N plans to offer all manner of exclusive wireless content—including free e-book downloads—only in its stores. To promote the device the first 10,000 customers to buy a nook will get a free copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point—and to prove it, Gladwell was on hand at the press conference and walked across the stage, Nook in hand, reading from his book.

Looking to leverage its bookstore network, B&N will roll out a specially designed in-store nook, well, display nook for the device. Yes, there’s more. Lynch expects to offer nook apps, although he declined to specify whether the apps would be B&N developed or if third party software developers would be invited. Oh, no web browsing, “web browsing is clumsy on e-ink devices,” he said. Lynch also said to look for bundling of e-books and print books; perhaps a larger format nook for the educational market and maybe library sales. Asked about exclusive releases through the nook—in other words, original e-publishing—Lynch gave a kind of non-affirmative affirmation along the lines of “we’re working with our publishing partners.” Of course Amazon is publishing exclusively to the Kindle right now and no doubt B&N will as well. The reader is launching with over 1 million books available for download, a figure that includes over 500,000 public domain titles. Price for bestsellers is $9.99 and Lynch said B&N will remain competitive on price--no matter what the eventual price points turn out to be.

The nook is certainly another step forward in the evolution of E-Ink digital reading devices. While B&N will continue to sell e-books with DRM, they are offering consumers a much more open and flexible digital reading system than the Kindle or even the now-open Sony Reader. The nook’s price is attractive and while the color touchscreen controls seem more about being cool than being necessary, the LendMe function, the synching with other mobile devices and B&N’s planned in-store wireless broadcasting/promotions have a very good chance of offering Amazon and the Kindle 2 some very stiff competition over the holiday sales season.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marketing 101 - Publication Dates

We've been running a weekly column every Monday on marketing, written by Sara Dobie of Sylvan Dell Publishing. As that column has come to an end, we decided there were still plenty of marketing suggestions for our readers so.... introducing Marketing 101. Every Monday we'll offer suggestions to help your book reach its target audience.

As the year nears an end, we've received several books in for review that have a December publication date. We have to ask - why? Why choose December for your book's publication? Is it to get the holiday sales? If so, you're several months too late. Is it simply a matter of "that's when the book will be ready"??? Please consider changing the date to early 2010. December is probably the worst month to release a book. Did you know that bookstores will consider a book with a December 2009 publication date as last year's book? To them, current, immediate, just published is what they want. Unfortunately, most won't look beyond the 2009 date. In January, 2010, just a month after release, your book is viewed as old by so many. Getting attention in the over-crowded book world is hard enough. Don't make it harder by making your book old before its time. Move the publication date to January, or even better, February of 2010. January sales tend to be a bit light because shoppers' wallets are still recovering from the holiday season.

Friday, October 16, 2009

FREE Book Contest for October!

Time is running out to register for your chance to win this month's free book. We're proud to offer a copy of Golden's Rule, a great teen book that received a 5-star review from Feathered Quill Book Reviews. Check out the review here and then register for your chance to win the book here. Good luck!

Tips for Authors - Margins, Margins, Margins!

One of the easiest ways to spot a self-published book instantly is to look at the interior margins. Not the top and bottom margins, they typically seem to be okay. But the margins on the left and right hand sides of each page. Again and again we see books with tiny, tiny margins. Perhaps the author/self-publisher is trying to squeeze as much text as possible on each page to lower the page count to then lower the printing bill. Or perhaps the self-publisher is simply not aware of the importance of margins. Remember, it may look great coming out of your home printer but that's not necessarily how it will look once it is bound into a book.

So, you ask, just what should my margins be? The minimum width is 1/2" but we'd suggest a larger margin, up to 3/4". Better yet, take a trip to the local book store and check out the margins in some of the books in your genre. Even better, hire a designer who will give your book a professional look and get those margins correct!

Try this book margin calculator. It's fun to play with and will give you a start on correctly setting your margins.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Author Interview with Sean Patrick Little

Our interview today is with Sean Patrick Little, author of The Seven.

FQ: Most superhuman/hero stories show the lead character getting his/her powers quickly and then experimenting with them. But in The Seven, you show a different angle, as the powers take years to develop and then many of them cause pain/discomfort as they surface. Why?

I needed the powers to not just be instant. In comic books, you often see characters able to do amazing things without consequence. Superman gets shot at and the bullets bounce off without him even feeling it…how would you stop something like that? The characters I like most have to deal with good and bad. We’d all like telekinesis like Indigo, I’m sure—but would it be so much fun if there was a consequence to each action? It would be fun to be strong like Andy, but would it be so great if we couldn’t wear normal clothes and we looked like some sort of freaky cartoon? There had to be give and take to their abilities because that’s how the world works. You don’t get to eat cake without dealing with tooth decay and calories. It’s the same thing with the seven kids—they get phenomenal powers…but they have to endure losing their families, surgeries, tests, and limitations to those powers.

FQ: Although endowed with superhuman powers, the teens in your book struggle with the same problems as most teens - I'm ugly, nobody likes me, etc. Was this an important theme for you to write about?

Very much so. When you write, you have to make your characters believable or people won’t want to read about them. When writing about teenagers, you need them to deal with the same things teenagers have to contend. At heart, I think the problems we all face as teenagers taint us for the rest of our lives. When you read about a character struggling with an issue you have dealt with yourself, your heart goes out to them a little and makes the character more important to you. It makes you want to see them succeed and overcome those problems.

FQ: Dr. Cormair is initially seen as a one-sided character who seems to care little for the teens. He is doing everything for the advancement of science. But as the story progresses, we see a very human side of the doctor as he realizes what he has done, particularly in the hospital scene with Sarah. How do you see Dr. Cormair evolving through the story?

Dr. Cormair’s evolution as a character was a surprise, even to me! As the story progressed, I began to think about what a man would think about on his death bed, as he looked back over a lifetime devoted to a singular passion—what would he think about: The successes or the missed opportunities? As humans, I tend to think we always focus on the negative and ignore the positives. That’s a very human characteristic. Dr. Cormair begins the story almost like a robot—cold and unfeeling. As the story progresses, particularly when he’s forced to watch the army fight Andy from his hospital bed, he sees that his devotion to his work was wrong. I like to think he realizes that he missed too much of his own life, missed too much of the lives of the seven kids. He sees the negative side of his life and misses the positive. Or perhaps he realizes that the successes he generated in science were nothing compared to the joy of life. I think parents have to deal with that trade-off. We’d all like to be there for our kids, but work and other duties get in the way and we’re bound to miss things. That’s a sad truth to life. We can only hope we don’t miss too much.

FQ: You created some neat new technologies for The Seven, from the hyper-womb to the freezing gel. Was it fun to think up, and then write about, these creations?

It’s always fun to create your own worlds. In comic book-style stories, that’s one of the most liberating features. When you need new tech, you can create new tech. I was able to borrow little scenes from movies and other books and create things out of my own mind to blend them all together to one purpose. A lot of times, the tech can feel like deus ex machina, but at the same time, it’s all science fiction! That’s why the genre was created.

FQ: Seven teens - seven superpowers. Were there other superppowers that you thought up but decided not to use? If so, would you tell us about them?

The superpowers the characters received had to be fathomable in loose scientific terms. I also didn’t want anyone to get overpowered, like Superman. I didn’t want anyone getting shape-shifting abilities, or powers that seemed to come out of nowhere, like shooting lasers from their eyes. I do have other superpowered teenagers coming up in the intended sequel, so I don’t want to give too much away.

FQ: The "Trust" plays an important role in The Seven and yet, we don't really know a lot about it. Why did you decide to keep the organization a bit of a mystery?

The story of the Trust is not fully told…yet. About halfway through the writing of the first book, I had so many ideas and thoughts, that I started plotting a sequel in my head. The Trust will be explained further in later stories. The Trust emerges as a sort of boogeyman in this first book because I didn’t want to focus too heavily on their organization and plans. The first book was about the seven kids and breaking free of the Trust.

FQ: Without giving the ending away, it was very cool. Do you see the way you ended the story as a possible lead-in to a sequel?

Definitely. As I just said, about halfway through the story, I knew there would be a sequel. I had too many loose ends and ideas to not keep writing about this team of kids. Besides, I genuinely liked those kids. It’s more than a creator’s love for them, I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to see more about their lives and how they would function once they were free of the Home. I wanted to see how their relationships and powers would play in the “real” world. I am currently at work on a sequel tentatively entitled, The Seven: Phase Two. Right now, marketing for The Seven is taking up most of my free time, but I am hoping that once snow flies, I’ll be ready to sit down and work for some extended chunks of time. Right now, I’ve perhaps got about 50 to 70 pages written for the sequel and I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface. There will be a lot of characters to cover: Major Krantz, Senator Uriah, the subjects in the Phase Two program, and of course, the seven lovable goofballs that are the heart of the first novel. I try to update my blog at routinely, so readers can follow the progress on the second book.

To learn more about The Seven, please read the review at:
Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Need a good laugh???

For those who have ever had a blog, here's a great article from The New Yorker that is sure to give you a laugh:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Self-Promotion or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Prioritize. In the past, I’ve told you to do your homework. Know your market. Know your audience. Know thyself, in effect. There are so many avenues out there for self-promotion. There are a million websites and blogs. There are regional and local publications. There are trade shows and conferences. In order to be most effective, however, you must prioritize. Otherwise, you are spreading yourself too thin, and you are losing your efficacy. Therefore, do your homework in the proper way and pick media outlets, contacts, and events that will truly give your book sales a boost. Do not spread yourself so thin that you become transparent. You need to be seen. You need to be passionate about what you do. But if you try to do EVERYTHING, you will mess up and fall flat on your face. PRIORITIZE. So that being said, it’s time for me to say farewell. It’s time for me to prioritize and become the most focused, effective person I can be. I hope you’ve enjoyed my Self-Promotion or Death Tips. I hope you’ve learned a few things. I wish you all the best! Keep working hard out there! Keep selling your books! And never give up! To Ellen: thank you so much for this opportunity, and I wish you and Feathered Quill all the best!

For more info about Sara Dobie, visit her blog: For more about her company, check out their blog: Sara’s on Twitter, too: (AND

Friday, October 9, 2009

Going from traditional to self-publishing

Reprinted with permission of the author - originally posted to the self-publishing list on Yahoolists.

With all the discussion lately on going from self-published to traditionally-published, I think some of you may be interested in how it played out for me taking the opposite path. My first book was published by one of the major technical book publishers, and it was a disaster. From ridiculous production delays to leaving out a prestigious foreword, this company made a mess of everything and refused to take my suggestions on many aspects of the book. I was so disappointed at their performance I made it my mission to get my rights back, and luckily I did. (long story)

Less than two years later I published an updated version packaged the way I thought it should be presented and without production delays. My self-published version went into a second edition and sold four times as many copies at 50% higher price even without the advantage of having an established book distribution network. Of course it did help that I had an established business, so I was able to change my business model to incorporate publishing, but the point is that you don't have to be big, to sell big. You do have to produce a quality product with compelling content and you must be committed to running a business!

My self-published version put a lot more in my pocket than the small amount of royalties I received beyond the 9K advance from the traditional publisher. Unless you've got the next blockbuster in your hands, or you're unwilling to approach your book as a business, working with a traditional publisher may not be the panacea you imagine.

Gary L. Chefetz

Tips for Authors - Book Contests

This week we thought we'd do something a little different for this column. We're excited to welcome Irene Watson of ReaderViews as our guest blogger. Irene has some great pointers about entering book award contests. Enjoy!

Do Book Contests Help Sell Books?

Some book contests are notable enough that an award will increase book sales. Other contests charge exorbitant fees and winners receive little attention. Authors may feel overwhelmed by today’s plethora of book contests. Here are a few tips on which ones to enter and how to spot contests to avoid.

What to Consider When Choosing a Contest:

Entry Fees: If there is no entry fee, you have nothing to lose except the postage and book cost. Enter the contest. That said, most legitimate contests do charge fees, and the fees are small recompense for the hours the judges put into the contest. If it’s in your budget, enter contests you can afford that appear legitimate and you feel you have a likelihood of winning.
National: National contests are stiff competition, but the greater the competition, the more important the award. If your budget permits, give the contest a try.
Regional: Local contests provide greater chances of winning and some have funding so entry fees are minimal. For example, the Library of Michigan has no entry fee for its annual Michigan Notable Books Awards, given to twenty books that highlight Michigan People, Places, and Events. Beyond the award, the Library of Michigan actively promotes the books throughout state libraries. Another well-known regional contest is the Midwest Independent Publishers Association Awards. Many local writer and publisher organizations also hold awards for their members such as the Society of Midland Authors.
Independent: For self-published authors, these contests are the best place to start getting notoriety for your book. Good choices include the IPPY (Independent Publishers Association Awards) and Reader Views Literary Awards.

How to Spot Non-Legitimate Contests:

A contest that is not legitimate does not mean it fails to give out awards, but it might mean that everyone receives an award, in which case, sadly the awards are of no real value. Contests of this nature often tend to give out so many awards simply to sell award-stickers so they can make a profit off the authors, not to mention off the entry fees. And worse—they may not even read those multiple copies you submitted for review, and yes, worse still—they might sell your books online and make a profit off them.

One of the best ways to spot a legitimate contest is to see whether on the awards contest’s website there are details provided about how the awards are judged. There should be at least a couple of tiers of judging to determine the winners. For example, Reader Views will announce its three finalists in each category, based on its readers filling out award score sheets. It will then submit those three finalists to a new group of judges to determine, first, second, and honorable mention prizes per category. As well, reviews are provided of all books submitted for the awards program. Contests should provide all this judging information on their websites and in their calls for entries. Another example is Nautilus Book Awards, which describes in detail its three-tier judging process on its “How Winners Are Selected” page.

If you really want to enter a contest and believe it is legitimate but do not see details on how the awards are determined, feel free to email the contact person with your questions. If you don’t get a timely response, move on to looking for a different contest.

What to Do When You Win:

Once you win or become a finalist, send out press releases. Few people are going to know about the award if you don’t tell them—contact especially any writer or publisher groups to which you belong, and local media—newspapers, television, radio—and let your email newsletter subscribers know as well.

Many contests will give you a small number of free stickers to put on your books and most will sell you stickers—buy them to impress readers and sell books. You might even get an imprint of the award sticker to put on the cover for future printings to save on buying stickers. Make sure you let the local bookstores also know about your award and give them copies with award stickers so they can prominently display your award-winning book.

No one can successfully measure how well book awards sell books—but the more willing authors are to spread awareness that they have won awards, the more likely the books will get more attention, sell more copies, and stand out on bookstore shelves.

Recommended Book Contests:

The following list is short and only the beginning. Be sure to search online and in magazines like “Poets & Writers” for dozens of more opportunities.

Ben Franklin
Foreword Magazine
Nautilus Book Awards
Reader Views
Written Art Awards
Writer's Digest

Good Luck!

Irene Watson is the author of the award-winning “The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference.” She is the managing editor of Reader Views, one of the most respected and fastest growing online book review and author publicity services today. For more information visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Author Interview with Jeremy R. Lent

Our interview today is with Jeremy R. Lent, author of Requiem of the Human Soul

FQ: - Eusebio is at first a naive, ill-informed and even somewhat meek character. But he changes/grows through the book. How/why did Eusebio change so much?

Yes, it’s completely true that Eusebio, at the beginning of the book, is naïve and ill-informed. But that’s not really his fault. It’s because he grew up in the sheltered Humanist community of Tuckers Corner, completely cut off from the world of the 22nd century. So, Eusebio’s finding out about his world along with the reader. And as the terrible ethical issues arise in the novel, both the reader and Eusebio are forced to grapple with them together. Eusebio is an everyman: in the words of his daughter, Sally, “he seems so normal, so regular. And yet, he’s really special.” Eusebio’s specialness resides in his humanity, and as he reacts in an increasingly angry and alienated way to the world of the d-humans, I hope the reader feels in touch with his spirit and internalizes his emotions and spiritual struggles.

FQ: The bio-ethical issues brought up in Requiem of the Human Soul are many. Would you discuss some of these issues and how they might actually impact our society in the not-too-distant future?

Our advances in cracking the secrets of the human genome may have an even greater effect on humanity than all the scientific discoveries and technological transformations of the past few hundred years. Until now, we’ve been developing ever-increasing powers to shape the external natural world to our will. In the future, we’ll be able to apply that power to ourselves, to what makes us human.

This will present almost unfathomable opportunities and risks to our society, and force us to question the very nature of our humanity. And, as I’ve tried to show in the novel, this is not a theoretical issue for future generations to consider long after we’re all dead. We’re beginning to shape the debate over these issues right now, in our current generation, in areas like the ethics of cloning, designer babies, brain/computer interfaces.

One of the ways I tried to show this in the novel was with the four interludes – future newspaper and magazine articles spread about a generation apart from each other over the next hundred or so years. What I hope readers take away from these articles is how what is unthinkable to one generation can become avant-garde to the following generation… and commonplace to the generation after that.

Readers interested in the current debate over these issues can find out more on the novel’s website,, which explores what’s going on right now in the area of human genetic engineering, and looks at the slippery slope from the present day to a world of d-humans a hundred and fifty years from now.

FQ: Would you tell us a little about where the idea for "virtual field trips" came from? It's a great concept and added much to Harry Shields’ arguments for the Primals' destruction.

Yes, the virtual field trips certainly add another dimension to the book. Eusebio, Harry and Naomi go to the farthest reaches of the earth: to a decrepit Primal village in India, to a regenerated Safari park in Africa, and to a frontline in the battle against the Rejectionists in Pakistan – without ever leaving the United Nation building in New York. I came up with these virtual field trips as a solution to a major conundrum with my novel: how do you make a philosophical book exciting and dramatic?

In many ways, this was the fundamental challenge I had in writing the novel. I wanted to make readers think about issues like the devastation we’ve brought on the world, and what that means about our species, but I also wanted to make the book exciting and fun to read. Robert Pirsig showed the way when he wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book about philosophy but one which attracted readers through the characters and relationships. In my case, I had the freedom to use the cool technologies of the 22nd century to get the action going in the book.

FQ: The idea that the soul can be seen, via "Schumacher's Smudge" was quite intriguing. Where did this idea originate?

Well, I just came up with it myself as I followed through on the idea of the soul as a kind of background radiation of our DNA. But since then, I’ve researched a fair amount on views held by other societies about the human soul, and it turns out my idea isn’t as radical as it sounds at first.

We’re used to thinking about the soul as something abstract and eternal, something that exists in a dimension completely separate from our physical lives. In fact, that’s a view that’s rooted in the dualism of Plato, and got incorporated into the Christian view of the soul by the early Church fathers in the first few centuries of our common era.

Most other cultures in the world have viewed the soul as something tangible, just more ethereal and finer in substance than our flesh and blood. And it turns out that even Aristotle had a view of the soul that’s consistent with “Schumacher’s Smudge”, as an emergent phenomenon arising from the body’s existence, a property the body possesses as a living thing. So, if you take a longer perspective of human culture, maybe what’s more unusual is the current idea of the soul as something totally abstract and separate from the body!

FQ: D-humans seem to be the ultimate DNA manipulated humans. That is, until we read about d-3 Humans. Was this a statement on the "always something bigger/better" in the near future, that we'll never stop trying to improve upon ourselves, and eventually, perhaps, destroy ourselves?

Yes – that’s a major theme running through the book: the unstoppable acceleration in the rate at which mankind is changing the natural world – including ourselves. I sometimes think of the rise in our powers of technology like a satellite launched into space. If it keeps accelerating out of control, the satellite breaks orbit and shoots off into space, leaving the Earth behind. There’s a danger that our technology may go the same way, leaving us humans behind. For a satellite to be useful, its acceleration has to be managed, so it reaches a stable orbit. The question is: can we manage our technology the same way, to avoid it accelerating into outer space on the one hand, or come crashing down in a fiery ball on the other hand? Quite honestly, I’m not sure if we can, and one of the goals in writing the book was to raise this question.

FQ: Eusebio is a morally good person so I was intrigued to see how/if Yusef would be able to convince him to kill for the sake of saving the human race. Were the conversations between the two characters difficult to write?

They were challenging to write and intellectually stimulating. Like most of us, I find the idea of killing anyone for any reason appalling, and so it was easy to take Eusebio’s point of view. The more challenging part was to make Yusef’s arguments strong enough that the reader has to take them seriously. And in fact, when you think through the issues, Yusef has some very good points. I’m certain that if I were transported back seventy years and had the opportunity to kill Adolf Hitler, I’d have done so in a flash. So, as Yusef points out to Eusebio, there’s no black and white answer to the issue: it’s a matter of making agonizing trade-offs among shades of gray.

FQ: There is a lot of interesting talk in your book about spirituality and native peoples/traditions. Is this a topic that has always intrigued you?

When I was in my early twenties, I spent some time with the indigenous people in the highlands of Guatemala, who still wear their traditional clothes and speak Mayan dialects. I had two profound reactions to this experience that have remained with me ever since. One the one hand, I felt awe and love for their traditional ways of living and for the depth of humanity I saw in their faces. On the other hand, I felt horror at how their cultures have been systematically devastated by Western civilization.

Most of us barely give a moment’s thought to the fact that modern civilization has been built on foundations of brutal genocide. We joyfully celebrate Columbus Day, without a passing thought to the horrors caused to the indigenous people of the Americas since that day in 1492.

At the same time, many people who feel a lack of spiritual fulfillment in traditional monotheistic religions look to the ancient wisdom of indigenous cultures to try to find some meaning there. But what’s left is in such tatters that it’s hard to pick up much that pierces through the shell of our Western culture.

So a large motivation in writing the book was to honor the beautiful, vanishing cultures of the past and to raise people’s awareness about some of the crimes perpetrated in the name of our society against the indigenous people of those cultures.

To learn more about Requiem of the Human Soul, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Amended Google Deal

Reprinted with permission from Publisher's Weekly.

Amended Google Deal Targeted for November 9

By Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly

At a status conference held in a crowded New York courtroom this morning, lawyers representing the AAP and Authors Guild told judge Denny Chin they will file an amended agreement with the court by November 9 to address the many concerns raised by the original Google Book Search Settlement.

The new agreement will include specific amendments designed to answer the objections raised to the deal by the Department of Justice and dozens of other parties and individuals who objected to the original settlement. The lawyers also asked for a limited time to file objections to the amended deal, and asked that new objections be limited to the new amendments. Judge Chin agreed with the timetable, and parties hope to have a final hearing in early January.

Tales from the Editor's Desk - Use the right words

Sometimes we forget we’re writing to read people who will be reading our books. We start writing writing. We dig into the thesaurus for synonyms. We stick in big words because they seem impressive.

Back when I was in high school—I used to tell my students that Shakespeare was still writing when I was in college (but some of them started believing me)—I belonged to the creative writing club. I was the only member who had a new story or essay for every single meeting. One of my sophomoric inspirations was to write a story about a woman living up in, say, Alaska who was all alone in her house. And there were prowlers outside. Trying to get in. They tell us to write what we know. I was a St. Louis girl; what did I know from women alone in houses in Alaska? Well, I had a good imagination, so I went for it. Most of the story was interior monologue, so I also went for the thesaurus. The woman narrating the story wasn’t speaking aloud; she was thinking, reflecting, cogitating, contemplating, pondering, puzzling over, musing, ruminating … well, you get it.

And to this day, I can still hear the voice of one of my friends as I came to the end of the story. “OPINE??? What does opine mean?”

That was a lesson I’ve never forgotten. As far as I can tell—and what I tell the authors whose books I’m editing—only judges opine. We ordinary folks can have and give opinions, but we don’t opine. Stay away from big words, I tell my authors. They’ll tip whatever you’re writing right over into unintended humor.

This could have happened to one of my authors, a young woman I’m very fond of. She’s writing a series of novels that are partly set in an archaeological dig in Turkey. Early in her first novel, the characters come upon a house built of troglodyte.

I nearly fell off my chair. As I explained to my author, a troglodyte is a prehistoric cave dweller. The clichéd cave man. When I looked it up, I learned that the word comes from Trōglodutai, which is the name of an Ethiopian people once considered to be very primitive. My author obviously thought the word was the name of a kind of rock—maybe like dolomite or igneous or gneiss. We find words that sound good, but we somehow neglect to look them up. So we get a house built of troglodyte.

I fixed it for her, of course, by finding out what kind of rock was common in Turkey. (No, I don’t remember anymore.) Then I went on to edit the rest of her novel, which she has submitted to literary agents and publishers. I wish her luck.

And I’m glad that once upon a time I used “opine” in a story and learned that lesson for myself. It’s lessons like this I can pass along to the authors whose books I edit: If you’re new to writing, be careful with vocabulary. Don’t use big, unfamiliar words until after you’ve looked them up and know what they mean.

To learn more about the editing services Dr. Barbara Ardinger offers, please visit her web site at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Author Interview with Suzy Martyn

Our interview today is with Suzy Martyn, author of Enjoy the Ride: Tools, Tips, and Inspiration for the Most Common Parenting Challenges

FQ: When my first child was born, a grandmother promoted kissing the baby on his sweet-smelling head when I was feeling overwhelmed. Surprisingly, that little tip really helped diffuse the tension. What is the one best piece of parenting advice that helped you get through some tough spots when the girls were little?

RELAX! Especially with my first daughter, I was so nervous, so worried all the time...what if she doesn't ever learn to walk? What if I forget to teach her something and then she fails out of college because of me, on and on. Sounds silly but parents really do worry so much and sometimes take too much of the burden (and credit) when it's more about the kids and their lives/success/accomplishments/calling in life, etc. It's not so much about the parents but many times it's hard to believe or live like that is true. Only when you relax and keep things in perspective can you fully soak in the joys of all parenting was meant to be.

FQ: The wide range of topics in this book is impressive in its diversity! Were there topics that you wish you had included in Enjoy the Ride, but felt you had to leave out due to space issues?

I do have some things that I wish I had time and space to add but I will be adding them in new editions. Some of the topics requested by readers and those in my listening audience are:
-How to plan and enjoy family vacations
-How to motivate your children, give them a vision, and make use of teachable moments
-How to organize your and your children's life
-More detailed discussions on family life including scheduling, balance, and how to promote healthy relationships amongst all members of the family, including in-laws and extended family

FQ: Parenting can be unexpectedly challenging, as you point out in Enjoy the Ride. What challenges did you encounter that surprised you in their complexity?

I always thought parenting would be a breeze-that I'd never raise my voice, that I'd always have a happy household and that I would have all the answers. Although the overall tone and mood can be joyful, there are many really tough moments of parenting. Your children test your limits over and over and over again. And, you find you cannot be patient all of the time. Things don't go as you expect-sometimes better, other times worse, and yet other times, there is a total twist. But, through it all, wonderful plans unfold for each member of the family and what a privilege to get to be a part of this wonderful journey.

FQ: I feel like I got to know your daughters a little in reading this book! How are Grace, Faith and Hope these days? What parenting challenges are you coping with at this stage in their lives?

They are thriving and we are enjoying! Thanks for asking. I'm so glad you felt you got to know them a bit because the joy I have in parenting them is something I want to really convey. Faith is turning 13 next month but we actually just got done doing an early celebration for her, including totally re-decorating her room. Extreme makeover! Her nature theme with butterflies galore is "Spread Your Wings and Fly!" She has such a wonderful life ahead. I can't wait to see it unfold more and more. Ever year that I get to witness the growth and life of these precious children that I have such a short time to really have under my roof, the more I savor each moment. Even the most challenging times are part of the memory and will be treasured.

FQ: Have you considered writing another book on the challenges of the teen years as your children get older? Or do you have other child-rearing books in the works?

I am jotting things down for that teenager book, yes! I am currently also the guardian to a Korean 13-year-old girl and so I am fast experiencing parenting two teenagers! It somehow reminds me a bit of training my girls when they were going through the "terrible twos" except that their bodies are a lot bigger! (side note: Actually, now I have to wear heels next to Faith so I can avoid having to look "UP" at her!)

I also have a book devoted to sleep that is due to be released in February of 2010. In Sleep Tight, parents can have access to my proven, easy-to-apply plan for teaching your child to sleep peacefully on their own within three days. Within the pages, I share my solid plan in a very easy-to-read format with Q & A, case studies, and specific plans for every age ranging from birth to 4 years.

In the works are also a multitude of books on topics such as discipline, responsibility, and nutrition. Also, I am working on a children's book series as a companion to my first book, Enjoy the Ride.

FQ: Can you tell our readers about your online resources for parents, so they can continue to turn to you for updated advice?

Of course! Come to for a wealth of resources. Here is a list of treasures you will find there:
-free signups for monthly email newsletters
-direct email to Suzy
-testimonials for books, consulting, speaking
-news about appearances across the country through radio, tv, and live
-links to blogs
-charts, forms, and checklists for organization
-new elements always being added-come visit to find out the latest!!

To learn more about Enjoy the Ride , please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Self-Promotion or Death: PR Tips from Sara Dobie

Submit your book for awards. The RIGHT awards. By “right,” I do not necessarily mean the ones that cost a fortune. I mean the ones that your book might actually win. I know I always talk about doing your homework, and I know you get sick of hearing it. However, homework is the key to award submissions. There are so many awards out there. You need to make sure that your book has a shot in the contests you enter. So check ‘em out. There are listings in the Writers’ Market. But you can also just search the internet. Try to find the awards that are FREE. Many of them cost money, and as an independent author, you may not be able to afford submission. So again, find the awards that are FREE. And submit away. Send something akin to a promotional package with your award submission, complete with cover letter, promotional materials about you/your book, and of course, your book itself. Awards function as publicity tools. If you win awards, people will be more attentive to you and your writing. They will be more likely to purchase your book, so go after those awards! So simple and so easy to forget!

For more info about Sara Dobie, visit her blog: For more about her company, check out their blog: Sara’s on Twitter, too: (AND

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tips for Authors - Radio Interviews


Today, we're excited to welcome Valerie Connelly, Radio Talk Show Host since 2005, and Publisher and founder of Nightengale Press as our guest blogger. Check the links at the end of Valerie's column to get more information about Valerie and the services Nightengale Press offers.

Internet talk radio is a growing entity, which provides low-cost, high-value opportunities for anyone who needs to promote themselves, a product or a business. Giving interviews helps to establish you as an expert in your area of interest. Authors and people in the book industry are wise to participate as often as possible.

As a radio talk show host, I have the opportunity to interview authors and business people who work in the publishing industry every week on CALLING ALL AUTHORS ( . Personalities appear with me on the show each week, and for each program, we have a routine that works well for us and for our guests. Here are some tips and details of etiquette that apply to any interview with the media, including newspapers, television interviews and radio interviews.

* Be prepared. Provide your host with six to ten talking points you'd like to discuss at least a week before the interview. Organize these points in a logical order and actually use them when you are on the air.

* Keep the appointment and be on time. There is nothing more impolite than to not show up, or to show up late for an interview. Unless you've had a serious calamity in your life, call in at the appointed time. Make it a priority to participate. If you can't make the interview, call or email the host at least day ahead. Please, do not just "not show up." You will not be invited back---ever.

* Speak clearly. Remember that you are talking to promote yourself, your book or your business. Slow down if you usually talk too fast, speed up if you usually talk too slowly, and speak loudly enough to be heard. It is amazing how often people mumble into the phone. And, don't breathe heavily into the phone, the air muffles the conversation.

* No multi-tasking. Turn off your computer and your cell phone so you are not tempted to multi-task. Close the door to the room and ask your family to stay away till you come out after your interview. Please, don't do the dishes or tidy up your office while you are talking.

* Be polite and cheerful. It is okay to be happy on the program. Even if your topic is serious, an occasional, appropriately light-hearted comment is a good thing. Remember, you are showing who you are, so a cheerful demeanor goes a long way help listeners hear what you are saying. Also, smile as you talk. The smile will come through in your tone of voice. Have fun and it will show!

* Give the host a chance to interact with you. Be complete in your answers to all questions, but don't run on for several minutes without pausing. The host may have a question your listeners are thinking too, and if he/she can ask the question, your interview is even more valuable to you.

* Use an outline for your responses. All too often guests read from a written text. At the most, have your talking points list and a few short comments for each so you remember what you want to say about each item. But, do not write out a long answer. The temptation is to read it, as this kills the conversational style of an interview.

* Be sure to give your website URL. Your host will ask you to say what your website or email address is so listeners can contact you. Work it out ahead of time how to most easily give this information. Most people know you need the www. Ahead of the website, so you don't really have to say that part anymore. Point out anything unusual about the address --- perhaps a number or a strange spelling is part of your URL. Make sure to clarify that as you give the information.

After the interview is over, write a quick thank you email to your host. This goes a long way to getting yourself invited back on the show. Keep in touch with the show host for future events you'd like to publicize. Being on talk shows is a very valuable form of exposure, and the more of them you can do, the better. And, if there is a way to advertise on the show's home page, for a reasonable cost, jump in. There are plenty of other people who come to the show's archives, and will see your display ad. It may encourage them to listen to your interview as well, and if you are running a commercial, everyone who hears it will connect with you long after your show airs.

For more information on Valerie and the services offered by Nightengale Press, please visit

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Book Contest Continues!

Our monthly book giveaway contest continues to grow in popularity. Each month we have more and more readers enter the contest so we know people are coming to Feathered Quill Book Reviews to find their next great read.

This month, we're very happy to offer a SIGNED copy of Golden's Rule by C.E. Edmonson. This teen novel received a five-star review from our reviewer! Check out the review and then simply fill out the quick, easy on-line submission form for your chance to win.

Judge Okays Google Adjournment, But Moves Up Status Conference

Judge Okays Google Adjournment, But Moves Up Status Conference

By Jim Milliot --
Publishers Weekly (reprinted with permission)

As expected, judge Denny Chin has approved a motion filed by the AAP and the Authors Guild to adjourn the fairness hearing set for October 7 as part of the Google Book Search Settlement agreement. The judge threw a bit of a curve into the proceedings, however, when he ordered that instead of a fairness hearing he will conduct a status conference on that date. The AAP and Authors Guild had asked that a status conference be held November 6. In his order, Judge Chin said he wants to hold the hearing “to determine how to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible, as this case has now been pending for four years.” Chin said parties that had filed requests to be heard at the original fairness hearing may still attend the October 7 hearing, but added that he will not hear arguments from them.

Chin concurred with the AAP and Guild argument that “it makes no sense to conduct a hearing…as it does not appear that the current settlement will be the operative one.” He noted that the original agreement raised “significant issues, demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, nonprofit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors.” But he further noted that the proposed settlement would offer many benefits to society and that “if a fair and reasonable settlement can be struck, the public would benefit.”

In an e-mail to its members alerting them to the judge's order, the Authors Guild noted that "we'll continue to work on amending the settlement to address the Justice Department's concerns."

Author Interview with George Beck

Our interview today is with George Beck, author of Trounce

FQ: Trounce is an intriguing name for this book. Why did you choose it?

When I wrote this book, my objective was to weave a story about a man overcoming his own demons, advancing in life. To trounce is to defeat decisively.

FQ: Emilio is an illegal immigrant, as is Pedro, yet you avoid any political commentary on the hot issue of immigration, which is refreshing. Why use characters crossing the border rather than, say, an unemployed nice guy from the next town?

Trounce is a story primarily about love and courage and a plot heavier in politics would take away from the genuine naturalness and humanistic quality of the characters and their lives.

FQ: Pedro is a very upbeat person although he’s endured so much hardship. Is he based on anybody in your own life?

When I created Pedro's character, I was reminded of a migrant worker I met. This man told me about the tragedy of his life and how quickly things went bad for him. What stuck with me was his upbeat outlook on life, despite everything he has had to endure. And that's the personality I chose for Pedro.

FQ: The relationship between Emilio and Sara changes repeatedly throughout the story. Was it fun creating a pair who were so in love yet so distrusting of each other?

Yes, it was a lot of fun. And that's just the way life is. Relationships go through many stages, especially in the beginning. Each of us at some time or another will or will have already gone through this.

FQ: We read a lot about terrorists from the Middle East but rarely hear about those from south of the US border. Do you see the plot of Trounce as something that could happen in the US in the near future?

I see our vulnerability. Many undocumented people cross our border daily. We've seen a surge in violence south of the border and it is possible. Not every terrorist needs to board a boat or a plane to harm us. They can easily slip through the border, set up residences, and go about undetected.

FQ: Courage plays a big role in Trounce. Indeed, Emilio is convinced he’s a coward until he is forced to prove himself near the end of the book. And yet, he is more interested in analyzing Sara’s courage. Why?

Well this is a great question. Thank you for asking. Emilio learns and develops through his interactions with the strong and courageous Sara. Could a woman be more courageous than a man? Yes of course and Emilio confronts this reality and finds inspiration through her. Emilio's tangled with feelings of love for Sara and questions whether he could love somebody like her. As we all know, love is a powerful thing and it overlooks what it wants to.

To learn more about Trounce, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.