Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Writers Write . . . period!

What does it take to be a writer? Apply the lower portion of our anatomy to a chair and start producing words. That's it. A writer is someone that is committed to writing, and actively doing it.

What does it take to be a published writer? Get our words out into the marketplace where they are readily available to the reading public. The "readily available" is the key, the more places it is available the better.

What does it take to be a significantly published author? Our words in the hands of the reading public in quantities that would be considered credible by publishing industry professionals. How is this measured? In sales, or in shorter work in publications that have circulation that would be considered credible by publishing industry professionals.

There's nothing subjective about this, it's quantifiable. It's quantifiable not by how the book was published or by who, not by how we think it is being received, but how we realistically answer these questions. Hard, solid numbers.

I'm lucky to be working with a terrific group of writers. I sent out an update today of what everybody is doing, and no surprise here, they're all working on new project, cranking out new words, or actively revising work that is out making the rounds taking advantage of feedback we're getting back. They're reading and when they find something that is a comparable for their work, they share that info with me. We're a team, not just one on one, but as a group.

What does it take to move from just being a writer and becoming a significantly published writer? Talent, for sure, but a lot of talented people don't make the cut. Patience and persistence is what makes it happen, learning and growing in our craft, understanding that at any point in time there may be only one 'right' place for our work and doing what is necessary to make that connection.

So bottom line, what do writers do? They write.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Television VS Reading by Max Elliott Anderson

Recently I heard a speaker who talked about the negative effects of television viewing on our children. My father used to call it the idiot box, but this speaker went a step further by calling it hellevision.

Here's why.

He said that the average child in America today, watches between 5 and 7 hours of TV every...single... day!

If you tried to do that, just for a couple of days, you'd be shocked at the content. And when you realized what your children were watching, hour after hour, you’d do something about it. These same children spend only minutes a day interacting with their parents. The balance of their time is spent on video games, computers, cell phones, homework, and if they have to...reading.

Coming This Fall
I’ve set out to try to change that, by writing the kinds of action-adventures and mysteries that readers, 8 and up, would enjoy. Even though I speak of them as books for boys, they are still equally enjoyed by girls. Many report that reading one of my books is like
being in an exciting or scary movie.

Released August 1
If you doubt the positive effects you will see, in your own home, by turning off the TV and giving your children exciting books to read, let me relate a true story in an attempt to change your mind. And if there is a TV in your child’s bedroom today, I hope you’ll be encouraged to remove it.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of children in the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago. These kids need all the help they can get, in order to break out of the cycle of poverty all around. I told them about this same true story.

GIFTED HANDS: This is a true story of a child who felt he was the dumbest student in his fifth grade class. Through the demands of his single, working mother, who didn’t know how to read, he learned the value of the public library and learned to read. He discovered that he enjoyed learning.

Benjamin Carson, M.D started out on the mean Detroit streets. His mother knew he had it in him to get out of the Detroit ghetto where they lived. She believed he could make something of himself. His mother demanded that Ben, and his older brother, turn off the TV and begin bringing home books from the library. Their TV viewing was cut to one hour per week. Can you imagine? Even though she could not read herself, Ben’s mother required her sons to read their books and write book reports which they had to read to her out loud.

But Ben's beginnings were certainly not easy. Signs of determination showed as young as the age of 10. He started out as the "class dummy" in school, frequently getting every single question on his math tests wrong. But then, through hard work and a lot of reading from the local library, he expanded his knowledge in every subject. Soon, "good" wasn't good enough. Ben was driven to be the best. In fact, he was so driven that he won a full scholarship to Yale University.

Ben Carson ought to be regarded as a role model for today. Those not on the right path to a successful future could especially benefit; as a story like this could assist in a serious straightening out of priorities.

He is an inspiration to all because the life he began with wasn't as easy as many other families who have attended good colleges for generations. Ben, and his older brother Curtis, were the first in the family to ever attend college. Curtis went to the University of Michigan, and Ben enrolled at Yale University.

In the last chapter, Carson gives recommendations to students on ways to live and to achieve.

* You can also look for the feature film on DVD wherever you get your videos. I would encourage you to rent it, sit down with your children, and watch it together. You might even go a step further by watching it yourself first. Then write out a few questions. Turning off the TV in your own home, and requiring more reading, could be the difference in your child’s success or failure in the future.

Expect a lot of yelling at first. But in the long run, it'll be worth the struggle.

Next time, turn it off...and turn your kids on to reading!

Send this link on to other parents and grandparents who you think should see it. http://booksandboys.blogspot.com/

Author Web Site http://www.maxbooks.9k.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is Print On Demand (POD)?

When the technology first came out it simply meant a machine that could produce as few as one single book at a time. It has come to mean something else. People have begun to think it is synonymous with self-publishing or vanity presses. It has acquired some sort of a stigma that is absolutely false. This confusion over the term is clouding the issue on the discussion on e-books and e-readers that seems to be going on all over the industry right now.

It's simple, Print On Demand (POD) is a method of printing. Period. Exclamation mark!

It is indeed what it started out to be, a method by which a book can be printed one at a time or in significantly larger orders. What is important is how that book is used once it has been produced in this manner. For most POD places the quality is as good as the products produced by other methods, better than some. And if there is a problem with a book, all the POD houses that I know of stand behind them and will replace immediately.

There are respected small and medium houses that use this technology to cut down on warehousing and often even have orders of size sent directly to customers which impacts shipping costs. Right now, as we speak, there are some large houses starting to utilize the technology as well. Many houses using the technology have significant distribution and marketing and take returns allowing the product to go to bookstores and into their usual distribution channels. Some that are going to traditionally print a product even use POD to produce early copies or review copies or maybe to extend a title at the end of a big press run. Chances are if the book has a known imprint on it identifying it as a product of a house people recognize they do not even know or care how the book was printed.

The Authors Guild has a "Back in Print" program for its members. The AG makes sure an author owns the rights to his or her book and then the author sends two copies to iUniverse and it is placed on their AG Back in print section. It costs the AG member nothing and the AG author gets one sample copy. Other authors are using POD through various avenues to keep books available after they have gone out of print.

As the quantum leap is occurring with e-books and e-readers POD will become even more significant as authors and readers continue to want a print alternative to these products. We can’t forget with the double digit gains that the e-book industry is making that the majority of books sold are still print copies. While we MUST get on line with the e-book surge and maximize our return from that growing market we have to be cognizant of the old phrase “always dance with the one that brung ya!”

Print books have always been the backbone of the industry and will continue to be for many years to come. But the method of printing those books? More and more are going to utilize this technology. To fully understand what is happening we have to separate the terms in our head. POD does not define the publishing house, it is simply the method they are using to produce their books.

It does tell us one thing about the publisher, however. It is not economical to produce a large quantity by POD. They are by necessity more expensive to produce and necessitate a higher retail price. A major publisher looking for a book to do very well will take the economy of scale and have it produced in a large run on the big presses. But maybe not in the United States.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Congratulations to Bonnie Calhoun

Our congratulations to Bonnie S. Calhoun for being named "Writer of the Year" at the Greater Philadelphia Writer's Conference for the second consecutive year. That's terrific!

Bonnie is a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world with the many hats that she wears. As the Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, she leads a contingency of 200+ book reviewers that do bi-weekly blog tours for the latest in Christian fiction.

She is the Owner/Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine which posts a monthly issue of 35+ columnists by the best and brightest authors, publishers, and agents in Christian fiction.

The American Christian Fiction Writers have designated her as the Northeast Zone Director, where she leads the membership loop for New York, New Jersey, and the New England states.

She is on faculty at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, teaching workshops on Blogging and writing mechanics as well as on faculty at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. She is an Author member of International Thriller Writers.

As an expert "Blog*Star", certified by Google, she dispenses problem resolution advice on the Blogger Help Forum for those using the Blogger platform and runs a blog specifically addressing blogging problems at "How Can I Do That?"

In her home-every day life, she is a Bible Study teacher and Teen Sunday School teacher at her church and serves as the webmaster for her church's website.

She runs her own business as a seamstress and clothing designer. She and her husband Bob live in a log home on 15 acres with a pond, an old apple orchard, and a dog and persnickety cat who she says "are pretty sure that we are wait-staff and they run the show!"

In her spare time Bonnie . . . hmmmm . . . what spare time?

Bonnie's first book will be Deadly Accord from Abingdon Press in February of 2011. The second will be Deadly Inheritance in September of 2011.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

When we have doubts

Why would writers have doubts? Just because most of our feedback comes from form letters that do little to inspire us, maybe cause us to wonder if our words are really good enough?

Perhaps because we tend to work alone with little feedback, sometimes little support from family or loved ones? I'm lucky to have tremendous support at home but I know a lot complain that isn't true for them. Maybe we feel if our words were what God
wanted us to do that he would cause them to get out more effectively? There is no shortage of such questions.

It's a recurring problem. We publish and start feeling better about things, then time goes by, more rejection letters come in, and the doubts begin to creep back in. There is an immediate round instantly after I finish a work, "What if this is the last one, what if I'm out of ideas?" Then a new idea pops into my head and I'm off again.

Satan is good at planting seeds of doubts, it's one of his specialties. Because writing is something we have to do alone, our minds are fertile grounds for it. But Satan doesn't bother to chastise anyone who isn't a threat to him, so if he isn't after us we must not be doing what we're supposed to be doing.

The best cure for doubt is fellowship with others who understand writing and writers, that's why I'm in several writers groups and share my concerns with those at church who understand. Getting to conferences such as the upcoming conference of the American Christian Fiction Writers in Indianapolis is a great fure for this.

The second thing is to understand that publishing will happen in God's time and even though we may not have the required patience (not my strong suite) His timing is always perfect.

The third is to realize when we get these little barbs from editors and agents that they don't know us well enough for it to be personal, it's just business. We're either a fit for them or we aren't.

The main thing is to keep writing, keep perfecting our craft., and keep interfacing with our support group. Then comes the biggest support mechanism of all, a letter from someone who loved our work and said it touched their life. It doesn't take many of them to make us feel good about what were doing, to offset all of the negative correspondence that is so much a part of this crazy business, and to make us feel like our words are making a difference after all.

I can run for months on just a single letter.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why do you write?

The market for westerns is soft. That means editors aren't buying many. A group of western writers I interface with have been talking about this with several saying they weren't sure they wanted to try to write them any more. Keep in mind this group has bibliographies up well in the hundreds. The discussion has been enlightening. One writer summed up the thoughts of many when he said:

"Now I don't know about the rest of this crowd, but I for one write for the love of writing. And I write westerns for the love of the American west. I write for the love of Bob Steele and Hoot Gibson and Randolph Scott and John Wayne, those people who birthed my imagination back when a bent stick could be a blazing six-gun and my old dog a faithful steed. I write, I suppose, because I've never really grown up."

I love westerns too, always have. I haven't tried to write traditional westerns because I came to the party late and I knew it. I've had some small success in writing some in the time period for the Christian market, and I'm trying to reach out to some new readers of the old west with a YA series. That's a tough sell too.

But is that why I write? No, that's why I have written in that time period, for the love of it. The long answer of why I write is on my website, under the writing testimony link. The short answer to why I do what writing I still do, and my efforts to help other writers get their words out is very simple. After much soul-searching and foot-dragging, I believe God has asked me to do it, and until I am relieved from one or both tasks I'll continue to do it.

Some write to achieve recognition, some for financial gain, some because they have words on their heart and nothing will do but to get them out. A secular writer who doesn't sell books well up in the five figures does not impress the mainstream publishing industry. A Christian writer who makes only a single sale but that sale changes someone's life would be considered a success. Having said that, I don't know a single Christian writer (including myself) who only wants a single sale. We all want to get our words in as many hands as possible, and sales is how we measure how well we are doing that. I write out of love and obedience . . .

. . . why do you write?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Transition time

With all the recent drama in my life maybe I needed a little transition time, a chance to decompress, relieve the stress, and get back to work. The Oregon Writers conference here outside of Portland Oregon is just the thing. I came in on Sunday, spent time with other faculty, went to bed early and took a nice walk this morning before breakfast. I love this leisurely start for faculty. We have a faculty meeting at eleven, then the conference starts this afternoon.

I think it is just what I needed. The setting with all of these huge trees and campground type campus is just beautiful. I was here once before a couple of years ago and I know it will get hot before the day is over but it is just great.

I'm going to be teaching "Survive your way to publication" as a seven hour continuing education course with a lot of hands on work. I'm looking forward to it. I love to teach and really get into it. I went through an exercise many years ago about how to use my spiritual gifts and one of the gifts the exercise identified was the gift of encouragement.

I do look for good clients at a conference but my primary goal is to interface with and encourage writers, particularly Christian writers, and teaching is a part of my wanting to use that gift. I do look forward to the week and will try to update periodically.