Monday, August 20, 2007

WHAT DO WOMEN WANT - A MALE ROMANCE WRITER'S POINT OF VIEW by CJ Maxx

12:00 AM 0 Comments
Let’s start out with the biological stuff. Women want alpha males. This is true, of course, but happens much more in romance novels than in real life. There are only so many alpha males out there and some of them are jerks. There’s an unlimited amount available in the fertile minds of romance writers though and that allows many women to find the ideal male vicariously on the pages of any number of romance novels. And, you can find a man that will do just about anything you want him to do, and to you, metaphorically speaking, of course. This is one of the reasons, maybe the main reason for some, to read romance, fulfillment of fantasies, your fantasies.

But what do women want in real life? Oh, there’s a small percent that will land alpha males although they may not resemble those from the romance novels. So, when women look out there at the rest of us imperfect males, what are they hoping to land? Short answer—someone that will love them—as they are.

A woman wants to be the most important thing in her man’s life. Forget the old girlfriends; cut those apron strings; your drinking buddies just moved down about twelve spaces on your priority list; watching sports on television isn’t a beer-drinking Saturday and Sunday afternoon ritual any longer; in other words, pay attention to your wife.

A woman wants romance. A man wants sex. We’re talking apples and oranges here. Desire, arousal, climax isn’t the same for both. There are numerous things that will knock down desire in a woman. A man’s job is to keep those things from happening. An overtired, overstressed woman is not looking for sex. There’s nothing romantic from a man’s point of view in overcoming these factors but if you want great sex, instead of grudgingly slam-bam sex you need to step in and fix things. Coming home, opening a beer and kicking back in your recliner while she cleans up and cooks after a hard day at work isn’t doing it. A hard day at work plus cleaning and cooking at home equals no sex. That’s just one example. There are numerous things happening daily that interfere with what both want. Helping out around the house, bathing the kids, fixing things, running errands, all those things make life a bit easier on her will have an impact on your love life.

A woman wants to feel desirous and that means she needs to feel good about herself. The male needs to tell her how beautiful she is, how luscious she is, in other words, tell her what she wants to hear—and mean it. She wants to know that you want her, not just sex. Not only does she need to feel good about herself she needs to feel good about how she looks. Clothes make the woman isn’t just a saying. “I look hot in this!” “You sure do, honey.” That’s a conversation needs to take place occasionally. Let her spend the money.

There are times when a woman just wants to be ravaged and spontaneous sex does happen—and it’s great. But, most of time woman want to enjoy the romantic interlude and that means one thing: slow it down. Arousal is not instantaneous in woman. An aroused woman is what a man really wants and taking your time; learning what she likes and taking your cues from her will pay dividends. I can’t say enough about an aroused woman. If a man has this as his goal, bringing his woman to a high state of arousal, he’ll have a sex life that could not be better.

The final step is climax. For most men this is a one shot deal, pun intended. Most women can be multi-orgasmic, and, if this is so, that’s what should happen, every time. A woman who has four or five or even more orgasms is a woman who’s going to look forward to the next time. Trust me.

C.J. Maxx
Author of IN THE ARMS OF A WARRIOR
http://www.cjmaxx.net/


Monday, August 13, 2007

Author Strangefacts (Or How I Learned to Stop Stressing and Love the Chat) by PG Forte

7:22 AM 0 Comments
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m actually pretty shy. The kind of person who’d almost always rather do-it-myself than ask for help—no matter what ‘it’ is. Someone who once paid extra to spend two glorious days alone at a beautiful Caribbean Beach Resort...while it was closed. Introverted enough that the idea of ‘solitary confinement’ seems like it should one of the perks of prison life, rather than an additional punishment.

I know. Not quite what you’d expect of someone who writes erotic romance, is it? But it’s a character trait I think I share with a lot of other authors. Although, in my own case, I can attribute it to having Saturn seated square in my first house, practically conjunct with my ascendant (a random Astrological observation I toss into the mix just because I can).

Being shy made author days and online chats something to avoid at all costs. And then, as luck would have it, I won a coveted ‘Staff Pick’ spot at Romance Junkies. Three full days of online chat time.
Oh, boy. Can we say Time to Panic?

In the weeks leading up to the event I was convinced I’d have nothing to say; that readers would steer clear of the forum in droves, that I’d end up turning the forum into the virtual equivalent of a ghost town. So what if I had ten books to promote? I couldn’t just post an endless string of excerpts, review clips and promos could I? I was there to interact with potential readers, not scare them away.

But what the heck could I talk about?

I personally think non-fiction authors have an edge at this kind of event. They’re de facto experts on whatever subject they write about. They have a built-in soap box, an issue, a topic to expound upon. But what can we poor writers of romantic suspense and erotic romance claim to be experts on? Life? Romance? Sex?

Oh, yeah. Try and expound on that for three full days. Especially in a PG rated forum!

I don’t know when—or how—I first hit upon the idea of using some of the subjects I’d researched in the writing of my books as jumping off points for discussion, but the idea was a life saver. Because, in the course of writing ten books I’d learned an awful lot about an awful lot. I wasn’t any kind of expert but I could discourse knowledgeably on a wide variety of topics—from keeping bees to walking dogs. From Astrology to Yoga.

They were all topics I had a more than passing interest in. Better yet, they were all topics I was happy to learn more about. And, with a dozen or more readers participating at any one time, there was usually someone online who knew as much, if not more, than I did. We learned from each other in a surprisingly lively and reassuringly interactive chat. But, best of all, they were all topics that led naturally to the posting of relevant excerpts from my books.

Those three days passed more quickly than I would ever have believed possible and the whole event was a huge success. Not only did I sell more books in that one month than I had in the entire previous year; not only did I have a total blast, but I also overcame my fear of chatting.

All in all, an experience I’d do over again in a heartbeat. Introversion or no introversion.

###

PG Forte inhabits a world that’s only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true...it also bears an uncanny resemblance to Berkeley, California.

Happily married for a whole bunch of years, she and her husband currently share their home with only one teen (down from a previous high of three) a random assortment of pets and an unknown number of magickal slugs...oh, don't ask. You don't even want to know.

Dubbed an ‘author to watch’ by Euro-reviews, her critically acclaimed Oberon series was also named ‘personal favorite reads of 2005’ by reviewer Carrie White (of Book Worm Critics and Sexography).

Although her writing runs the gamut from dark-edged paranormal romantic-suspense to won’t-take-itself-at-all-seriously romantic-comedy , there’s one thing you can be sure of: It might not hit you right away but, sooner or later, there will be heat. 'Cause PG...it’s a name, not a rating!

You can visit her website at http://www.pgforte.com/!



Friday, August 10, 2007

The HIGH COST of Selling Your Book by Robin Jay

10:00 AM 0 Comments
Thank you for having me on “Be My Guest,” Dorothy. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some important information with you and your guests about a question to which I could not get a sufficient answer when I was contemplating selling my book. The question that stumps most authors is “Should I sell my book or self-publish?”

Most first-time authors dream of selling their book to a big publisher so they can continue to write one great book after another, do guest shots on the Today Show and live a celebrated life. While the occasional SUPER DEAL does happen for first-time authors, it’s not the norm. Whether you are working on fiction or non-fiction, the field of publishing is unlike any other.

My agent tried to explain it to me this way: “If you self-publish, you will earn more per book, but sell fewer books. If you sell your book, you’ll earn less per book, but your publisher will likely be able to sell MORE books than you would by yourself. So it’s a tough call,” he said. And although that was the best advice I was able to get, I’d like to share with your readers the REAL truth and numbers behind this statement.

There are many other reasons to sell or not to sell. One of the questions I heard frequently was, “Do you want to be a publisher…or a writer?” Never having been a publisher before, that was hard to answer. Even as a published author, I still do a lot of the work that a self-published author does. I ship books out (sometimes in bulk and sometimes just one-at-a-time). I have an entire closet devoted to shipping supplies and I’m fortunate enough to have a 3-car garage and one car, so storing 1,000 or more books is not a problem for me. Plus, living in the desert eliminates the threat of mold or mildew on my inventory of books. If you live in a one or two bedroom apartment, you may not have the necessary room to do your own book fulfillment and your climate should be a consideration. If you consider yourself a writer, then you need a publisher to do all this “dirty work.”

What is this dirty work, besides converting your home into a publishing warehouse? There is so much involved in self-publishing – from buying your ISBN codes, registering your book with the library of congress, typesetting and graphic design to selling, advertising and marketing. If you don’t want to do all this, then you definitely want a publisher. But keep in mind that you will still have to carry books, send them out, and market yourself and your book for as long as you want to see it sell.

With regard to the type of deal you will be able to get, keep in mind that as authors, we are not just in competition with other authors. We are in competition with Hollywood stars, pop culture icons, big business CEOs and established journalists. Who are YOU? You may have heard that you should work on your “platform;” who knows you, what ELSE do you do, why are YOU the one to write this book and why should we buy it! If you cured cancer, the world would beat a path to buy your book.

But what about someone like me? Well, I am the “Queen of the Business Lunch,” who had personally hosted more than 3,000 client lunches and I saw my sales increase by more than 2,000% because I knew how to treat people! WOW! That’s impressive. But not by the world’s standards! It was, however, enough to get me a relatively small, but standard, book deal with Career Press. In fact, I had three agents ready to sign me when I chose Al Zuckerman at Writers House. So much for coming close to Bill Clinton’s 2 Million dollar deal with Knopf! It just isn’t likely to happen to first-time authors.

I know of just two exceptions. A friend of mine, Steve Pavlina (www.StevePavlina.com) is one of the Top 100 Bloggers in the WORLD (not the country, mind you….the WORLD!). He recently received a relatively huge offer to write a book. See where a platform will get you? He’s the only one who has done what he has done and the world wants to know how he did this. His website offers what he terms, “Personal Development for Smart People.” (You should visit it; Steve is a genius and offers help on most personal development topics.)

The other example was from Mr. Zuckerman, who got one of his clients an $850,000 advance, the largest ever for a first-time novelist. By the way, he also represents Nora Roberts and Ken Follett. So, with regard to your platform, get out there and make a good, strong name for yourself. Every little bit helps. Do something positive and unique.

Now, back to the question of whether you should sell your manuscript or self-publish. I have done both. I originally self-published my book and managed to sell about 1,000 copies of that book, right here in Las Vegas, even before I had web support or any kind of internet marketing campaign. As a professional keynote speaker and corporate trainer, I was able to sell them in the back of the room whenever I did a presentation (http://www.robinjay.com/). This number may not seem very remarkable, but if you haven’t seen the statistics on book sales, you’ll eat this up!
According to an article by Chris Anderson in the July 17 issue of Publishers Weekly, in 2004:

• 950,000 titles out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies
• Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies
• Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies
• The average book in America sells about 500 copies
• Only 10 books sold more than a million copies
• Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000
• Nearly 200,000 new titles are published each year

If you aren’t a speaker and you aren’t writing non-fiction, then how are you going to sell your books? A website is a great start….but how are you going to promote it? Do you have a large advertising budget or an incredibly large network of friends who will each buy 1,000 copies? It’s possible that you could sell some books that way, but a great work of fiction needs a publisher.

As a non-fiction writer, I have actually been able to sell as many books as my publisher! Between us, I am in one of the top percentiles of books sold, according to these Nielsen numbers. I’m well past the 5,000 copy mark and a good deal short of the 100,000 copy mark. I must acknowledge that my publisher has sold the foreign publishing rights to my book in NINE languages so far – the most Career Press has ever sold on any of their titles! To do that yourself, you would have to travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair and hope to meet with the right people. The channels of negotiation that my publisher’s rep uses are well-established. Good luck getting in with the various publishing reps from all over the world. I know I could not have done this myself.

Now, let’s look at the dollar difference. This is the information that no one could give me when I was trying to decide if I should sell my book to a publisher. The standard deal is 14% of net. Plus, remember you won’t have the luxury of pricing your book; your publisher will decide what it should sell for. Amazon.com can sell your book for less than you can because they actually get a deeper discount than you will when you buy it from your publisher. My self-published book was $19.95. I paid about $3.00 each to print (which I now know is high – it should have been more like $2.00 a book.) I could discount my books by 15 or 20% and STILL make a nice profit per book. Pricing your book is not the end-all, but it’s important. When you sell to a publisher, deciding on the price will be out of your hands.

Say your publisher prices your book at $14.95. You get to buy them for 50% off. That’s $7.50 a book. You can hardly afford to discount them. After you pay for shipping, your net profit per book, (if you sell it directly), is about $6.99 each. And if someone buys your book at Barnes & Noble or other bookstore, you’ll get 14% of net, so that’s $1.05. But wait! Amazon qualifies as a deep discounter. They are able to buy your books for less than you are able to! They get 55-60% off – so they are paying just $6.00 a book. And because they are a deep discounter, you will only earn 7% on those sales! Are you with me so far? You might earn a whopping forty-two cents from any book sold on Amazon. This is crazy! But this is the case when a first-time author sells their book.

Here are the bottom-line numbers that will take your breath away:
Imagine you sell 5,000 copies of your book. The book is priced at $19.95 (let’s round it up to $20 each.) That is $100,000.00 in sales. Sounds GREAT – doesn’t it? We could all use $100,000.00!!!
• If you self-published, now subtract your printing, artwork and typesetting costs, along with a small PR/publicity launch budget…say $20,000.00 (though it may be a bit higher).
Your net profit on this book would be $80,000.00!

• You sell your manuscript to a publisher. THEY pay for the typesetting, artwork, and printing costs. THEY also pick up the small PR/publicity campaign.
Your net profit on this book would be $5,000.00 or LESS!

Agents, publishers and others who are in the know about publishing will tout the “cache” of being published vs. self-publishing. It’s true. As a speaker, it has helped me to be a “published” author. Now, thanks to self-publishing and POD opportunities, ANYONE can write a book (and they do!) There are a lot of lousy books out there now. Being published helps to distinguish your title as being good enough that a publisher felt it was worth buying and publishing. A self-published author may have a harder time getting interviews with reliable media sources. That’s not to say a creative writer couldn’t generate a lot of publicity.

There is one more catch that I need to share: your publisher may expect you to commit to buy a certain number of books. They may offer you a discount on your first order, but after that, you will probably be able to buy them at 50% off cover price. If you are in the position to commit to purchasing a large number of books, this can influence the deal.

If your book is priced at $20.00, and you commit to buy 5,000 copies at 50%, you are, in essence, covering their initial printing costs (and then some!) Let’s see….5,000 times $10 each….that’s $50,000 in committed sales – before they even have to print your book! If they print in China, paying about $1.50 a book, and pay $5,000 for a small PR launch, AND pay their typesetters, editors, sales teams and an artist, they will still net more than $25,000 from your book deal…before they’ve even sold ONE book! You don’t have to pay for your books until they are published, but knowing that you are going to can make a publisher breathe easy.

You might think you have to cater to them, but look again- you are practically THEIR client! Interesting perspective, isn’t it? Of course, if you only commit to buy 1,000 or 2,000 books, they still have a degree of risk.

When you consider the Neilsen numbers on book sales, you might wonder how acquisition editors manage to keep their jobs! If so few books ever sell more than 100,000 copies, then how are they choosing the books they want to publish? This is another reason why publishers LOVE celebs and CEOs! They are well-heeled and can guarantee a certain, large number of sales from the start. It’s a lot like a producer hiring Tom Hanks to star in his movie; Hanks practically guarantees your film will become a blockbuster.

Also, a CEO may commit to buy 25,000 copies of their memoirs, planning to distribute them to their shareholders. And pop culture icons (like Dr. Oz or anyone else that Oprah recommends) are also going to assure huge sales numbers. Bottom line? It’s a BUSINESS! You need to think like a business professional instead of like an author – at least while you are making this all-important decision!

If you still dream of selling your book, start by creating a book proposal. If no one is going to buy it, would you still want to write it? If you are writing it with the pure intention of selling it, then sell it first. There are several great books on writing proposals; choose your book proposal book based on your chosen genre. Then get an agent and sell it before you waste any time writing it. The average proposal requires about 100 pages of story, including a table of contents, a treatment (a summary of your story), marketing information (who is your audience and why are YOU the one to write this story), your platform, how do you intend to promote your book, and then a sample chapter or two.

If you are committed to writing your story, then forge on. Get it written, rewritten and self-publish it. If it’s a commercial success, you may eventually be able to sell it for a nice sum. Legends about books that sat on shelves for years before becoming a hit, like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” are far and few between. Some self-published authors ultimately hit it big because their books are innovative and they have their finger on the pulse of pop culture or business, as with Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” Remember though that you still want to create a larger than life platform. Publishers came to Kiyosaki AFTER he had made his book a huge success.

And finally, I’m sure you’ve heard that the promotion of a book is ultimately up to the author. I can’t emphasize the importance of this. I work full time on promoting my book and building my speaking career. You will probably also need help. If you have a loving spouse or can coerce your kids into helping you, you will have a better chance to succeed.

It helps so much to know where you are headed. Few aspiring authors can comprehend what it takes to become a successful author. Being a great writer helps a LOT. But becoming a successful author is so much more than sharing a story. Passion is vital, but we need to be aware of and remember that this is a BUSINESS! I wish that someone had shared the nuts-and-bolts numbers with me when I was contemplating the sale of my book. Knowing what I know now, I probably still would have decided to sell it for the reasons I listed earlier. Whichever path you choose to take, be fierce about your success. I hope this knowledge has helped you. I wish you the best.
Robin Jay
Author of THE ART OF THE BUSINESS LUNCH
*****


Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Importance of Setting by Marilyn Meredith

12:00 AM 0 Comments
When I was teaching for Writers Digest School many of my students were good at dialogue but often forgot to let the reader know and "see" where the conversations and action were taking place. Setting consists of the time, place and mood of a story and can help shape your story idea.

You always need to know where your story is taking place. Is it going to be in a real place? If so, it is important that you know everything about that place so a reader won’t be thrown out of the story by something being wrong. If the setting is fictional, will it be more vivid than an actual place? My Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is set in a place much like where I live.

However, I changed the name and moved the town of Bear Creek about 1000 feet higher in the mountains because I wanted better trees. At least that’s what I always say, but what I really wanted was to be able to move the geography around a bit and change some of the places that my characters frequent. (Judgment Fire and Calling the Dead.)

When making up a place, you definitely need enough details to be convincing. This is particularly true for science fiction and fantasy. The Harry Potter books are probably the best example of this.

Romances often are set in exotic or faraway places, large cities with mansions and expensive restaurants, in unusual and interesting businesses. Settings are extremely important to the plots.

Any historical novel or story should contain lots of period detail, what the houses and furniture are like, the food that’s eaten along with other details of daily living. What happens must be accurate for the time period.

When writing suspense or mysteries, the physical setting should somehow contribute to the suspense. It can darken the mood through the descriptions of the locations and the weather.

Science fiction might be a future far advanced from the present, but it must be believable. Often in science fiction the plot will develop from the setting.

Be careful not to put too much description of the setting in. You want just enough to convey the essence of the place. Years ago I edited a wonderfully written novel about a soldier’s experience in Vietnam during the war. The author wrote pages and pages of description of the jungle, leaf by leaf. It was wonderfully written, but there was just too much. The reader would have been able to "see" the scene with about 1/4 of what was written. Unfortunately, the author was too much in love with his words to get rid of any of them and a wonderful story never found a publisher.

Don’t forget to add weather, smells, and how things feel. Put color into your descriptions.

A writer who does an exceptional job describing Louisiana and other locations, using all the senses to do it, is James Lee Burke. Though his mysteries are dark and often brutal, the descriptions of the places are poetic and lyrical in flavor.

The setting should be the back-bone of your story. It can move a plot forward, create atmosphere or tension, and it also can affect a change in your character. If you think of your novel or story as a movie in your head, viewing the setting of each scene as your character acts and reacts, seeing and experiencing everything through your character’s eyes, that’s what you want to get down on paper in such a convincing manner that the reader will see the same movie.
--Marilyn Meredith
Author of JUDGMENT FIRE
http://www.fictionforyou.com/
http://www.marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

*****


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Inspiration Behind Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia

12:01 AM 3 Comments
The main inspiration behind writing Earrings of Ixtumea goes back to the first day of school in my bilingual classroom. I taught first graders and one of the assignments was for each child to draw a picture of himself. Imagine my surprise when I saw some of my students color themselves white, blonde, and blue eyed. I found out that my student’s idols included Britney Spears and Xuxa, a Brazilian children’s television host, who was blonde, blue eyed, and very fair. Also a number of the telenovelas actresses were blonde too.

But it wasn’t until I attended the bilingual/bicultural graduate program at Cal State Fullerton in the early 90’s that I learned more about the culture which I ended up finding was mine too.

My own grandfather was the child of an Italian immigrant and the daughter of Mexican migrants. My grandfather was ashamed of his background and refused to speak of it. After my great grandmother’s death a number of people even changed her maiden name thinking that would erase who she was.

I remember going to Olvera Street in Los Angles to find out more about my great grandmother. I found the reconstruction of the same church where they were married. And I even found their marriage written in Spanish verifying who she was and the names of her parents.

It was a long journey for me finding the truth about my Mexican background. No one wanted to admit it but I refused to give up. More than once I felt her spirit guide me to the truth.

In Earrings I wanted to have a teen find out about her rich culture and heritage. I also wanted her to see how beautiful her people were. I hope others see this in my story.

I feel that TV and the movies have made some progress in showing Latinos in a more positive light. I love America Ferrera. I pictured her as the original Lupe when I started writing this story. Also Salma Hayek has been great with her shows, one of which was Frida, one of my favorite Latina artists. I hope more will come out. Especially more on the history of Latinos in this county. For example the civil marches for migrant rights lead by Cesar Chavez. I was surprised how many people don’t know who he is.

If I do write a sequel to Earrings, it would first take place in our world as Lupe searches her cultural background and finds others who will share with her some of the history of Latinos in this country. Of course she'll have to go back to Ixtumea. With her handsome warrior, Teancum, by her side.

Kim Baccellia
Author of Earrings of Ixtumea
http://www.kim-baccellia.com/

*****


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