It’s Not Snake Oil, Really!

Promoting your writing can sometimes feel like you’re waving a flag in a crowd of deaf and blind people with better things to do.

crowded street

Really.

It feels like that.

It also feels like the physics homework I had back in eleventh grade where I regurgitated all the stuff the teacher told me but I never understood.

physics problem

I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do and ever hopeful that this will bring about the desired result. And yet, Continue reading “It’s Not Snake Oil, Really!”

Advertisements

YOU Can Have Perfect Grammar Too!

Grammar has never been my thing.

I loved diagramming sentences in middle school, but the finer details have always escaped me.

I suppose that’s par for the course as I also have a tendency to skip directions, skim long descriptions in novels, and not put the last book/cup/stray sock in its place. When I weed a garden, a bucketful of weeds usually linger beside the garden long enough to kill the grass beneath it.

I’m an idea person.

idea

So, the bigger grammatical elements I can handle; it’s the nitpicky stuff that trips me up.

Which is why my favorite person in the publishing process is the copy editor. The copy editor keeps me from sounding like I barely passed sixth grade English.

I recently received the proof for my book that’s coming out in August and there were over 400 marks on it. (YES, that’s a lot, even for me.)

And yes, the book had already been copyedited. The proofreader, though, seems to be a zealous person. A nit-picker of nit-pickers, which, I suppose you want in a proofreader.

Many of the nits she was picking pertained to my voice, so my editor and I decided we’d stet most of her marks, which is a fancy way of saying we’d ignore them. (stet= Latin for ‘let it stand’)

Many more of the marks were additional commas she’d added to make my overly long sentences clearer. Okay, maybe.

I’ve spent the better part of my week considering those commas. I’m only more confused, but at least Frankie has finally realized I’m not talking to him as I read sentence after sentence out loud with and without a comma. He no longer jumps off the futon in hopes of a treat each time he hears my voice.

IMG_4338

The marks that pushed me over the edge, though, are the commas placed before the word ‘too.’

Everywhere the word appeared, the proofreader had inserted a comma preceding it.

For example-

I spent the entire day learning about commas, too.

Until a month ago, I had always put a comma before the word too, too.

But during the copy editing process, the copy editor had removed all my commas proceeding the word too at the end of a sentence. When I saw that, I thought—wait, wait, I don’t know much about grammar, but I KNOW there should be a comma before the word too!

A little research turned up the cold, hard, truth – my middle school English teacher was wrong.

That. Rocked. My. World.

Do you know how many times I’ve written a comma before the word too incorrectly? Do you know how many times that incorrect comma has been published?

Now, here was this proofreader reinserting every comma the copy editor had removed.

AGH! Who to trust? I posed the question to my editor and she said, The copy editor.

To prevent you from ever losing sleep over the use of a comma before the word too, let me set the record straight:

From no less than Grammarly, my go-to and permanently installed editor (which is a FREE Chrome extension- YOU should download it now!):

When using the word too, you only need to use a comma before it for emphasis. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, a comma before too should be used only to note an abrupt shift in thought. When too comes in the middle of a sentence, emphasis is almost always intended since it interrupts the natural flow of the sentence.

I, too, like bananas.

When a too comes at the end of a sentence, however, a comma is almost never needed.

I like bananas too.

So, now you know.

Always trust the copyeditor.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

COMING AUGUST 2018 FROM Pegasus Books (available for preorder now):

Add subheading

 

I know that place, I’ve been there too

For whatever reason, I’ve been running into a lot of frustration lately.

I’m not the frustrated one, nope, I’m in a good place (for now). But a lot of the writers I know have recently shared their own head-banging-the-wall moments.

I know that place; I’ve been there. It’s part and parcel of being a writer, heck with being a person, really.

There are days, hours, okay maybe even weeks and months, but hopefully not years, when you feel as though all this slogging through the mud is getting you nowhere. No one, not even the dog, seems to appreciate your efforts. And let’s face it, basically, you suck at this. Continue reading “I know that place, I’ve been there too”

Changing the World Over Donuts

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of speaking to 4th and 5th graders at an Elementary School in Maryland.

It was crazy fun and went by in a flash. I met with ten different small groups for only ten minutes each session, which was never enough time. I wasn’t quite sure I had something to say, but those kids sure had plenty. I loved hearing what they are reading and writing and I enjoyed answering their excellent questions.

I tried very hard to leave them with the message that words are powerful. Their words can change minds and hearts and they are here long after we are gone.

I went home with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I wish I could visit with elementary age kids more often; they are certainly good for the soul.

Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to meet with another local group. This time it’s the Rotary Club.

I wasn’t too worried about it until I looked up what the Rotary Club is. For some reason, I thought they were the old guys who zoom around on their scooters in the Mummers parade.

bikes in parades

Turns out, they’re not. They’re actually a group of business and professional men and women who to meet to talk about how they can help this world. They’re a service organization.

So now I’m pretty intimidated. I’m not sure I have anything to offer them beyond my story. Which isn’t really helping the world. At least not directly. Hopefully, my stories help entertain and maybe even inspire, but world changing? Probably not.

Like the elementary school kids, these folks are busy, so the meeting is brief. It starts long before those elementary kids are even on their buses, includes breakfast, and finishes up in a neat hour. The friend who invited me to come speak said they’d just like to hear my publishing story. That story is a long and winding road that changes every time I tell it.

long and winding road

It’s not that I’m embellishing with the glint of history, it’s just that I always try to condense it and I’m never quite sure if I get my cliff notes right.

What to include, what not to include? There have been so many false starts and pointless tangents. Because how do we know what really influences our journeys? Was it the word of a wise editor or the nudge of a trusted friend? Maybe it was a comment from a stranger or the doubt of a family member.

I freely admit, I did not always make the wisest choices as I followed my heart to where I am now, but I think it’s mightily better to follow your heart than the crowd.

Reflecting on the influences upon my own story, I can’t help but picture the eager faces I encountered last Friday. I hope that the words I said and the answers I gave are little seeds planted in those kiddos that will someday help them know the power of their own voices.

And tomorrow?

I don’t know what I’ll say, or if any of it will be of consequence, but I’ll offer it up straight from my heart and hope it helps make the world a little better.

Or at least entertains some mighty impressive people over donuts.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

1,000 True Fans: Myth or Legend?

If you’re an artist or entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard Kevin Kelly’s famous assertion:

To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only one thousand true fans. (Kevin Kelly)

I went back and read his original blog post from 2008 this morning. While his words make complete sense, as a traditionally published author, I think I’d need more like 100,000 true fans.

Here’s my math logic: Continue reading “1,000 True Fans: Myth or Legend?”

I Told You So….

I’m generally not one to say, I told you so.

But, I told you so.

I knew when Amazon bought Goodreads they would ruin it.

amazon logo (2)

PLUS

goodreads

EQUALS

trainwreck

I’ve always loved goodreads because it was a place to talk books, meet readers, access authors I admire, discover books I loved, and keep track of what I’ve read and want to read.

Slowly, Amazon has been sinking their money-lovin’ fingers deeper and deeper. Pop-up ads funded by the big publishers pushing the same authors and their same books have steadily increased. Buy links to purchase from Amazon are in every comment and recommendation, attached to every picture, and slathered up and down the side bars. And paid goodreads campaigns arrive in my email box for one NYT best-selling book after another.

Fine. It’s fine.

I know that the people with the money control everything, story of my life.

As a reader, I can generally look the other way, but as an author, I’ve had entirely enough.

I tried to believe that, although the game is truly rigged for the writers with the big publishers and the big bucks, I could still utilize goodreads to promote my books and connect with readers.

One feature of goodreads I especially love is the giveaways.

I’ve noted in a previous post, I have NEVER, EVER, NOT-ONCE won a giveaway, despite the hundreds I have entered. As I watch a good friend win copy after copy, I’ve scratched my head, but accepted that playing the lottery will never be a money-making proposition for me and when something says ‘odds are one in a hundred that this will happen,’ it’s more like ‘odds are one in a wando-mega-gazilllion to one that this will happen’ for me.

[And no, this is not another post speculating on how goodreads giveaways could possibly be rigged.]

No, this is a post reacting to the recent email I received from goodreads about their all-new, even better giveaway program for authors.

It may be new, but it is decidedly not better.

For example, one new feature works like this: Instead of giving readers the choice of entering your giveaway AND adding your book to their TO READ list, it automatically adds your book to an entrant’s TO READ list, whenever he or she enters your giveaway. This, they proclaim, will help generate buzz alerting the entrant’s friends and followers that they have added your book to their shelves.

Great, right?

No. I don’t want someone to be forced to add my book to their shelf. Maybe I’m overly sensitive because I’m one of those people who opposes being forced to do anything. (Same reason I still don’t like veal or eggplant, and I never follow-thru on chain emails or FB message forwards.)

Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I am thrilled when someone adds my book to their TO READ shelf, and yet I hate the idea of goodreads doing it for them. And I hate the idea of someone adding my book to their TO READ shelf only so they can be entered to win a copy.

Is it crazy to want readers to add my books to their shelves because they want to read my books?

Okay, enough whining. That’s not the big reason I’m angry about the new program.

Here’s the real reason—goodreads is now charging authors to giveaway their books. So not only am I (or my publisher) fronting the cost of the book and the mailing, but now I (or my publisher) will have to pay goodreads for the privilege of giving away my books!

And it’s not cheap. There are, of course, different packages, one more expensive than the other (they start at $159 a year).

So here’s one more way that authors and publishers are losing money to Amazon. And here’s one more way for books with big publishers and big budgets to get an advantage.

Enough!

I’m done.

I have no idea if either of my publishers will play the game and buy a giveaway package, but I’ve listed my last author-sponsored giveaway on goodreads before the policy changes with the new year.

After that, I’m gonna do this crazy thing and give away my books without the help of goodreads.

So, here we go.

How’d you like to win a signed copy of one of my books?

All you have to do is make a comment on this post right here on the blog or on Facebook, and you’re entered to win a signed copy of any of my books (you choose). I’ll even toss in a couple swag items with the book!

And starting twelve days before Christmas (do the math), I’ll be giving away one book EVERY DAY to a person randomly selected from my newsletter list (if you aren’t on it, sign up here) for the twelve days of Christmas!

Yes, I am more than aware that goodreads will not even register my little dissent and protest.

Which is fine.

I’d consider it an act of solidarity if you now went to your own goodreads dashboard and added my books to your TO READ list (but only if you want to read them.).

Take that, Amazon!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, please visit CaraWrites.com, or connect with me on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. You can win great stuff, get book recommendations & a monthly most awesome recipe, be bombarded with puppy pictures, and keep up with all my adventures, by signing up for my newsletter.

Best,

Cara

p.s. I LOVE to hear from readers (and writers), feel free to email me CaraSueAchterberg@gmail.com

 

 

Hometown prophets

They say a prophet is never welcome in his hometown.

Okay, I’m not Jesus.

But the book festival I attended last month was in my hometown. That’s the main reason I went.

That, and the fact that I’m a fan of the woman who organized the York Book Expo. For all the times that Demi has lifted up me and my writing, I couldn’t not go the Book Expo.

As an author, promotion is unavoidable. But there is a cost not only to your pocketbook, but to your time and family and happiness. I’m still figuring out which events are a good investment, which are necessary evils, and which waste my resources and time. I do think it’s important to evaluate your promotional efforts and learn from them. Hence, these posts I’m foisting upon you, hoping you’re learning from my experiences.

This was the third time I’ve attended The York Book Expo, which is well-organized and professionally run. The past two years it has felt very worth my while. It’s been fun to talk to other writers, put faces to names from Facebook, and I’ve even sold enough books to ‘make my table’ even if I didn’t make any real profit.

This year was different, though. Continue reading “Hometown prophets”