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Self-Publishing Mastery is proud to announce the Brown Cup Expression Sessions, Vol.1, the first one in a new series of live author events that give writers an additional opportunity to connect with their readers and network with their peers. Designed and hosted by Robert Yehling, award-winning author and book editor and also creative director of Self-Publishing Mastery, the happening will take place on June 112th, at the Brown Cup Caffee in Oceanside, Southern  California.

Brown Cup Expression Sessions is a monthly event that will occur the second Tuesday of every month. We will feature authors, poets and musicians, against a backdrop of art, music — and Brown Cup’s great coffee and tea beverages and food! Every session includes Open Mic readings – so bring your work!

The June event lines up  Robert Yehling – author of Voices & Just Add Water, Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award and  Eric Munoz – author of Caulerpa Conquest, a#1 Amazon Environmental Biography and Winner of the 2017-18 Green Book Award.  Greg Gutierrezartist and author of Zen in the Art of Surfing  and Mammoth Mountain, will make a special guest appearance. The participants are in for an evening of reads and talks about surfing, ocean, and environment.

Doors open at 6.30 pm. For more info about the event, click here.

Co-producer: Word Journeys.

Featured picture by Scott Webb.

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We want them. We need them. We even enroll in KDP Select and offer our book for free to get as many as possible. Bottom line, we all  hope and pray for book reviews same way people in Southern California do for a crash-free 405 freeway at rush hour. In this interview, Sherry Terry, romance author, editor, and book reviewer takes you on a tour behind the scenes of the popular blogs Very Sherry Terry and The Naked Reviewers.

You are an author and book critic. What prompted you to start a book blog?

I have two book blogs. The first one I created about three years ago is Very Sherry Terry.  I actually started it because I had gotten into a debate about overusing certain words in fiction writing. I wanted a place to safely talk about my theory on weak word choices and how they affect the entire story. I started the blog with one article, Strong Writing Made Easier, and it went from there. My goal with the blog is to help writers be successful. I have great research links on just about every topic imaginable with how-to articles on author branding, marketing, and publishing.

My second blog that is less than a year-old is a book reviewing site. I have a small group of friends who have joined me, and we do free book reviews. All genres are welcome, and we vet every book, so our followers are only shown the best. This one is called, The Naked Reviewers.

Let’s talk about The Naked Reviewers. That’s a bold name. How did you come up with it?

Oh, wow. Thank you. I cannot tell a lie. For The Naked Reviewers, a friend, Alex Maher was helping me with some marketing promotions for me to do some book reviews, and he threw down, The Naked Reviewers – where authors expose themselves to book reviews. I cradled that in my arms and ran all the way home with it.

You mention you will review anything well-written. What are the critical elements of a well-written book?

I hate to keep harping on my “weaker word” war, but I honestly believe that getting rid of as many weaker words as you can, forces you to be more creative, which makes the whole story more creative; thus the story is stronger. In my world, this one thing helps fix all the problems with most books except the plot. When you write stronger sentences, without passive, filtering, redundant words – the story will sell better and be remembered. This also forces the writer to better flesh out their characters, setting, and dialog.

So basically, if I see a lot of weak wording on the first page, I’m pretty much moving to the next book. It’s hard to explain my theory here, it’s too long. Instead, I would love to share the article link.

Why do you accept only books you feel you can give at least four stars?

Thank you for asking this question. I feel it’s so important to answer. There are a couple of reasons we only take books we think we can give at least 4-stars. We do not guarantee any author will get 4-stars. I’ve been editing and helping authors for over 10 years, and I know from first-hand experience that there are a lot of authors who will just get the first three or four chapters and their blurb edited professionally, and the book falls apart to turn into a 1-star story.

The biggest reason we only take 4-star books is that we do not need the backlash that giving someone a 2-star review can bring down upon us. We all feel our books are our babies. Most authors want to learn and become better when given a chance, but some cannot handle criticism of any kind. Cyberstalking and trolling are real, and I need to protect my reviewers.

The second reason we do this is to showcase the great indie authors and self-published books. Self-publishing gets a bad wrap because there is so much crap out there. We want to showcase the best so the book will rise to the top where it belongs.

What do you enjoy most in the process of reviewing a book?

Helping an author rise in the ranks so their work will get more attention.

How do you pick “The Book of the Month”?

We vote. We take the books that get the most attention, be it likes, reviews in the comments, shares, traffic, and clicks on Amazon. And we talk about what we liked about the book. Even when it looks like a book only got two reviews, it might be getting a lot of behind the scenes action.

Article featured image by Jamie Howard Taylor

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One of the significant perks of attending writers’ conferences and events is that you get to meet people you wouldn’t usually bump into in the street. Although, with Robert Yehling, award-winning author, journalist, poet, and book editor, the odds would be higher at a marathon, or Carlsbad High in Southern California, where he coaches track and cross-country, or the ocean surf.

A sizzling passion for life and love for people turn everything Robert Yehling does into a life-changing experience. As a mentor and educator of writers looking for knowledge and success, an experienced editor capable of polishing a final draft into a diamond sought-after by traditional publishers, a brilliant writer who touches hearts with his poetry, essays, and novels, he inspires, guides, and forges new paths for us to follow.

Another aspect that makes Robert Yehling so unique is his full commitment to supporting other authors achieve success. Through live workshops, seminars, presentations, and books, he’s helping authors reach a whole new level in their careers. He also develops marketing and promotions programs that sell their work.

His books, Writes of Life, distinguished with the Independent Publishers Book Award, and The Write Time are a must-read for any aspiring or active author and on top of our list of the best books on writing of all times.

We are proud to announce that, starting May 4th, 2018, Robert Yehling will mentor and support authors through Self-Publishing Mastery as well, as Creative Director and Managing Partner.

In this interview, Robert Yehling talks about his writing and mentoring journey and shares relevant insights on one of the hot topics of the day for authors: self-publishing. You will also learn what kind of a book you need to write to get a traditional publishing deal in 2018.

Award-winning author Robert Yehling

SPM:  You started your career as a journalist. How did this experience shape your work as a writer and editor?

Robert Yehling:  I started as a newspaper writer quite young (16), so it shaped my writing discipline for life. First, I learned how to write quickly, under deadline – we were a daily newspaper. Now, I can flip that switch when on a book deadline, and get done on time, no matter the deadline, and without getting writer’s block. I was reminded of this training when I ghostwrote most of a 975-page book, Blockbusting, for filmmaking icon George Lucas.

Every day felt like deadline writing – for 18 months! Also, at 19, I became an assistant sports editor. This began a second writing career track. Finally, since I was so young and versatile, my editors allowed me to write concert reviews, album reviews, business and news stories, lifestyle features, and human interest profiles, in addition to sports. These areas form the subjects of most of my books today.

 SPM:  How did you know that being a writer is your calling?

RY:  I just started reading very young (about 4), and then writing stories by the time I was 7 or 8. I loved how I felt when writing, and how a story could be written about anything. It was very liberating, feeding my imagination – something that made me fall in love with writing.

SPM: Part of your work is also to help authors polish their books, find agents and publishers, and develop marketing and promotion programs that sell their books. How do you decide to embark on this journey? Why is it important to you to help other authors?

RY:  I’ve been into mentoring since I was a teenager, working with much older journalists in my capacity as assistant sports editor. When I set up Word Journeys in 1996, I always intended it to be a mixture of providing services, and teaching and mentoring. I derive almost as much joy from guiding a client to the promised land of a book deal, or successful self-published book, as I do from my own successes.

Teaching is in my DNA; my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter, aunt and cousin are (or were) teachers. To me, it’s an intrinsic part of who I am, so when I provide services, I mentor as much as do the work. In the end, I want every writer to be so empowered that they can give the world their very best voice, vision, and stories — that desire impassions me daily.

SPM:  A large percentage of your clients have landed publishing contracts. What are the (secret) ingredients that make a book desirable in the eyes of a publisher, in 2018?

RY:  First, it has to be a fantastic story, unique in some way, written at a high level with a clear and distinct voice.

Second, it has to connect with the market, with readers. The publisher has to see that possibility in order to acquire your book.

Third, you need to have a solid platform — a public presence of some kind, strong social media following, and a plan to engage with and assist the publisher with marketing and promotions. Finally, you need to fit into the publisher’s list, giving them a title they feel confident selling. It’s a very tall order, but for those who want to receive an outside publishing contract, certainly doable — if you work harder than ever and mind every detail.

Self-published authors can and do succeed wildly

SPM:  Let’s talk about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. What are the challenges and opportunities for each route, in your opinion?

RY: Self-publishing makes it possible for us to publish our stories without going through the traditional publishing process. It is a highly respectable choice, bolstered by the fact most book buyers purchase online. In 2017, an estimated 900,000 titles were self-published. For those with good marketing or promotional skills, the willingness to learn on the go, or the funds to hire publicists or marketing experts, self-publishing is a great way. You keep all (or most) of your revenues, rather than the typical 10% to 15% royalties publishers pay.

The biggest challenge is being willing to invest to do it right, and having the determination and stamina to work on promoting and marketing constantly. That’s about 80% of the job.

Traditional publishing’s opportunities have dwindled in the past 15 to 20 years, due to the consolidation of the industry and loss of many venues. Still, if you have a strong commercial story and the chops to write it, you can earn advances and royalties. Furthermore, a traditional contract typically gets you access to international markets, as publishers try to sell overseas rights (for which you receive royalties as well).

The greatest advantages of traditional publishing over self-publishing are DISTRIBUTION, PRODUCTION, and PRINTING. All three are covered by traditional publishers; you handle these on your own as a self-published author.

If you self-publish, you’re running your own brand, your own mini-business.

Robert Yehling, established mentor and educator

Self-published authors can and do succeed wildly — like Amazon bestselling children’s book author Sherri Fink, who has self-published a half-dozen #1 bestsellers. However, we need to open to finding experts and solutions to these tricky distribution, marketing, production and promotion matters. Which is where SelfPublishingMastery.com comes in.

SPM:  From your experience, what would be the top three DOs and DONT’s when it comes to self-publishing?

RY: DOs

  1. Realize you will be working all day, every day, to produce, promote and market your book. In many ways, your work BEGINS when the manuscript is finished.
  2. Seek out experts in the field, and a platform like SelfPublishingMastery.com, to save yourself hundreds of hours of “learning the hard way.” Trust me, it is a hard way if you don’t take advantage of the helpful resources. Also, educate yourself in marketing and promotions. Read articles. Ask experts. Ask again. Keep asking.
  3. Have money in the bank before you start. Self-publishing is not free. It typically costs $10,000 to $20,000, once you add up editing, production, website, marketing, promotion, print costs and driving around to your signings.

DONTs

  1. Don’t choose self-publishing purely to “throw something up there and make money”. You might get away with it on the first book, but your audience will not come back if your book is poorly written, filled with mistakes, or obviously produced quickly.
  2. Don’t assume your book, no matter how great, will be sitting on Barnes & Noble shelves worldwide, or other bookstores. As a self-published author, you need to work for every store pick-up – and learn the many other ways of distribution as well.
  3. Don’t enter into self-publishing if you’re quick to give up. If nothing else, self-publishing is about perseverance, patience, and an iron-tough belief in yourself and your work. Your confidence will sell the book as much as the content will.

SPM:  What do you think self-publishing has in store for authors in the near future?

RY: I think self-publishing will continue to blossom, while traditional publishing continues to dwindle. Self-publishing enables authors to create their own little publishing “empires”, and online tools have become so intuitive and easy to work with that, with a good cover designer, editor, layout person and publicity plan, you can succeed wildly. Self-publishing will also blossom because of the ways you can publish now — books, ebooks, audio books, online reading platforms (like Scribd.com), Wattpad, through apps, Flipsnack, teasing your reads through Twitter or Instagram … we have all of this power in our hands.

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366  EXERCISES TO FULFILL YOUR DAILY WRITING LIFE

 

In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about her passion and dedication to being a writer, and how setting aside daily time for polishing her craft helped her become a wizard of words. Even when you are not working on your next novel and especially when you hear writer’s block knocking on the door, don’t let a day go by without touching that computer keyboard. The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Daily Writing Life will give you the right tools.

Writers and Educators: Welcome to The Write Time. Take the year-long, 366-exercise journey plotted in these pages, give yourself over to its process, and behold the inevitable transformation. The Write Time features a wide variety of exercises that serve every genre, and every level of writer — from novice to well-published author. They build your skills and diversify the subjects to write about, refining both fiction and non-fiction skills. Also features daily quotes from authors and motivators, historical literary moments, author birthdays, and much more.

‘The knowledge gleaned from a prolific writing and teaching career has been expertly translated into this entertaining, informative and practical tool.”
— Lynne Martin, Author, Home Sweet Anywhere, 2014New York Times bestseller

‘An invocation to sit at the shore of new creativity, take up your ink-cup, drink plentifully, and be refreshed by the waters of a new day, all intentionallyassembled by a fellow writer, reader and lover of literature.’
— Andres Torres, AP English director, Minooka (IL) Community High School

‘Whether you are a professional writer, a student, or simply love to journal, you must read and utilize this work of art in your daily contemplations.’
– Cleveland Book Review

Get your copy here.

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366  EXERCISES TO FULFILL YOUR DAILY WRITING LIFE

 

In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about her passion and dedication to being a writer, and how setting aside daily time for polishing her craft helped her become a wizard of words. Even when you are not working on your next novel and especially when you hear writer’s block knocking on the door, don’t let a day go by without touching that computer keyboard. The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Daily Writing Life will give you the right tools.

Writers and Educators: Welcome to The Write Time. Take the year-long, 366-exercise journey plotted in these pages, give yourself over to its process, and behold the inevitable transformation. The Write Time features a wide variety of exercises that serve every genre, and every level of writer — from novice to well-published author. They build your skills and diversify the subjects to write about, refining both fiction and non-fiction skills. Also features daily quotes from authors and motivators, historical literary moments, author birthdays, and much more.

‘The knowledge gleaned from a prolific writing and teaching career has been expertly translated into this entertaining, informative and practical tool.”
— Lynne Martin, Author, Home Sweet Anywhere, 2014New York Times bestseller

‘An invocation to sit at the shore of new creativity, take up your ink-cup, drink plentifully, and be refreshed by the waters of a new day, all intentionallyassembled by a fellow writer, reader and lover of literature.’
— Andres Torres, AP English director, Minooka (IL) Community High School

‘Whether you are a professional writer, a student, or simply love to journal, you must read and utilize this work of art in your daily contemplations.’
– Cleveland Book Review

Get your copy here.

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Robert Yehling’s Writes of Life, a winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award, is one of the top books on creative writing of all times. If you are an aspiring author, it will help you start your writing journey on the right foot. If you are already active, it will give a fresh  outlook on the writing craft. Writers at all levels will have AHA moments, and, by applying themselves to doing the exercises listed at the end of each chapter will step up their game.

Twelve Senses. Dreams. Travels. Relationships. Actions. Spirit. Achievements. Your Life. Writes of Life begins where your personal experiences and pen intersect—the starting point for great stories that touch others. This compact book helps you turn your experiences into compelling memoirs, short stories, essays, lyrics, poems, fiction, journaling, and articles of all types.

Drawn from 20 years of teaching workshops,Writes of Lifefeatures more than 50 exercises, input from noted authors, and many ways to turn life’s moments into written nuggets.

“I can’t put it down. Your book is so rich with advice and insight, I feel that I could spend hours just reflecting on single paragraphs.”
—Sharline Chiang, editor, Brown is the New White, 2016 New York Times bestseller

“I’ve been having problems opening myself up creatively to tell my life stories with full aplomb. Until now. I will remember this as being the day I truly became a writer after years of having written.”
—C.G., Tampa, FL

Get your copy here.

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Despite the popularity of social media, old school traditional media continues to have a massive impact on people’s lives and be a must-have in your book publicity campaign. Although you may not be a PR expert (yet!), you will eventually learn how to write a press release, pitch a story to the media, and create long-lasting relationships with journalists. Perhaps one of the most important ideas to bear in mind when you approach them is to make it all about how you are serving them and their readers – the value you are bringing to the table and not about your needs. Elira Bregu, writer, journalist and blogger at elirabregu.com gives insider information on what you need to do to win the traditional media game and get traditional media exposure for your books.

What makes you tick, as a journalist?
I am a storyteller. I love stories that make me feel alive. The way someone solves a particular situation in life motivates me to keep walking through my daily struggles. Your accomplishments keep worries at the door when somebody hurts me. Your failures are lessons I use for my evolution. Your love story reminds me that love is the Power that boosts my creativity. The stories of patients who had managed to defeat cancer were the only consolation I had when my father was battling this deadly disease.

The stories of the winners strengthen my belief that I can overcome all obstacles and win my daily battles.
It’s funny, but my daily journal’s name is “the lesson of the day,” and is based on what has happened around the world or into my friends and readers’ lives. Reuters, NBC, or Times are my information source about what’s happening worldwide. The ability to choose allows me to read only the news that bear the lesson I need and which I share with the readers of the EB Daily News website.

Elira Bregu

In your opinion, what is the definition of a good story?
Solving a strong inner conflict and overcoming obstacles is a popular theme nowadays. You also need to use the right point of view and words and create an original plot to make it memorable.

What are the most common mistakes people make when they pitch you their stories or press releases?
They talk too much because they have no clue about how they should tell their story. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” People want to share their struggles, which changed their perception of life. It is a matter of pride and is nothing wrong with that. However, to bake a cake first, you need to know the recipe, gather the ingredients, then put in your time and effort.

What are the three essential features of a successful media pitch?
Know what the journalist is looking for. Do your research. Keep it simple. Be concise and effective. Journalists love to work with well-prepared and talented people.

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No one can ever really know the secrets behind the literary genius of some of the most famous writers. Not even people who write books themselves. The reason is that each and every person has their own unique approach and method of creating something new. And what works for one person may be completely useless for another.

Or even downright strange.

Yes, sometimes in the pursuit of catching inspiration to create a masterpiece, writers turn to quite peculiar rituals and routines that they think help them to write better. And pretty often, these authors end up with that ritual evolving into a full-fledged habit, an action they keep doing over and over. Most of the time, such habits turn out to be not of the most common kind. In fact, they may seem rather odd to other people.

It’s hard to deny that all famous authors have one thing in common: their strong passion and unquestionable eagerness about what they do. After all, that’s the reason they became so famous in the first place, making people talk about them and their masterpieces. And the fact that some of these authors are ready to go so far as developing habits that the majority of people will consider weird only strikes the imagination even more.

That is, of course, if all the known writers’ quirks are true. But even if some of them are just another piece of fiction, that doesn’t make them any less fascinating. That only proves once again the true genius behind it all, that the writer could make people believe in something that wasn’t real.

Today you have a chance to look at some weird habits of famous writers and decide for yourself whether or not they were real. The infographic includes 20 authors with truly curious quirks. Some of the described habits are closely connected to the author’s craft, while others are just things that they loved doing repeatedly, regardless of the situation.

Apart from that, you’ll also find a couple of quick facts telling how exactly these quirks influenced the creative process of the writers’ works, as well as the effects of these habits on their lives in general.

So why don’t you go ahead and check out the infographic right away?

About the author: Jack Milgram  is a freelance writer and traveler from New Jersey, USA.

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Registration for ALLi’s Free Online 24-Hour Self-publishing Advice Conference (formerly known as ALLi’s Indie Author Fringe) is now open. This free, must-attend online event is scheduled for April 14th, in conjunction with The London Book Fair, the most author-friendly of the big international fairs by far.

 

Alexa Bigwarfe @ALLi

The conference is a marathon of incredible speakers and content to arm you with the tools you need for successful self-publishing is less than a month away. This year, the theme is: Self-Publish for Pleasure and Profit.

The event also has a new coordinator, Alexa Bigwarfe. She is an eight-time self-published author, host of the Women in Publishing Summit online, author coach, publisher and a long-time partner member of ALLi. The event schedule is still a work in progress.

The event is also a great opportunity for you to give back to the indie community and build your author brand by becoming a speaker. Although a line-up of speakers-that boasts names like Jay Artale, Mark Dawson, Orna Ross, Porter Anderson, has already been established, there is still room for you if you have something valuable to share with your fellow authors regarding writing, marketing, promotion, publishing industry. You can find the full list of topics and fill in the speaking application here.  

Or if you are interested only in attending,  you can register here.

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