Posts tagged ‘books’

June 17, 2016

Big World Network: Quan and Thompson work to save it, offer hope to ‘People and Dreams’

Meeting Jared Quan and James Thompson for the first time was a quietly impressive experience. Both are soft-spoken, and it wasn’t until five minutes into my conversations with them that I realized they are some of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met.

Besides being a successful marketer, Quan serves on several community boards, building partnerships between local cities and the League of Utah Writers. As president-elect of the League, he planned and facilitated this year’s spring conference. The partnerships he brought to the table resulted in one of the best spring conferences the League has seen.

That’s where I met Thompson. I was looking for a stylus, and he had one.

Several, in fact. As we sat behind the registration table, he told me the styluses he brought were part of his marketing plan, advertising his book. I learned he helped other authors with a company called Big World Network learn how to market their books. I learned that Big World Network published serialized books, and that both he and Quan had published with this company.

“Big World Network is unique,” Quan said later. “It’s serialized, so your content is available immediately to the public. I’ve always loved that. Since it’s a serial, it runs like a television series. You’ve got ‘seasons’ dividing up the book, and your chapters are called episodes.”

The conference itself was wonderful, but of everything I learned that day, I was most impressed with Big World Network and the friends who published there. In my mind, they found a solution that most indie authors seek: an interesting way to release their books, a close-knit community of other authors who helped promote each other, and the potential to sell their work through a publishing house.

It seemed like a buffet of hope.

A few days after the conference, I e-mailed Amanda Meuwissen, a media contact at Big World Network. She answered some of my questions, but said the company was undergoing some changes. I worried that the company was shutting down, and I mourned the loss of such a remarkable idea.

Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, I learned that Quan and Thompson were trying to help the company transition to a non-profit group. The end goal is the same: to help authors reach their publishing goals.

“What makes me truly passionate about Big World Network is the people who I get to work with,” Thompson said. “Truly a talented bunch! My editors are amazing. Amanda Meuwissen and Willow Wood have been the best at keeping me grounded, pointing out where I’ve gotten off track, and letting me know what does and doesn’t work. My narrators have been excellent. Matt Bowerman, Heather Johns and Charles Eades are amazing vocalists who have kept up with the French, Japanese, Gaelic and smatterings of other languages I’ve thrown at them. Our layout and graphic artist, Mario Hernandez, designed my magnificent cover and did a great job laying out my book and ebook.”

As part of the the transition process, Quan and Thompson set up a GoFundMe account to help finance legal, licensing, accounting and server fees. It’s expensive. The two friends say it’s worth the time and effort they’re putting into it.

“The problem for-profit companies have is they have to be particular,” Quan said. “ You can present traditional publishers with the best written story, but if it isn’t in their genre or isn’t trendy, they have to figure out what will make them money, and there is a chance they will turn it away. A non-profit company can look past the dollar signs, see the potential and make judgment calls on the merit of the work in front of them. I have met so many authors who have amazing stories that are so well written who are frustrated because no one is picking them up. Self-publishing is a respectable option, but we want to offer something else.”

“We do have an immediate business plan and a five year plan that we are working on finalizing,” Thompson said. “I can’t say too much about either yet. I can tell you that Big World Network relied upon quality writing from writer all over the world, and we plan on continuing in that vein.”

Thompson said over 60 authors have published with Big World Network, some from as far away as Romania. Most authors wrote science fiction or fantasy, but other genres were well represented.

“Our best sellers are definitely clean romance, and our sci-fi/fantasy, as well as young adult, though we don’t specifically request any genre,” Meuwissen wrote when answering my questions. “We have published even non-fiction.”

So far, feedback has been positive.

“My favorite feedback comes in the form of questions,” Quan said, “Like, how does that work?”

Another of his favorite questions: What will keep the lights on?

“We will look to be as author-friendly as we can when it comes to contracts, and make a little on those, but the bulk of our income will be grants, sponsorships and donations,” he said.

And one more: What will your focus be?

“People and dreams,” Quan said. “We want to help you achieve your dreams.”

That’s the reason the company started in the first place. Thompson said Big World Network was founded by Jim McGovern in 2011.

“Jim loved the idea of a ‘Netflix for books’ where the author could have more say, where readers could communicate with the writers about the story, and where readers could have a preference for their format, including paperback, e-book and audio,” Thompson said.

Meuwissen said even as a for-profit company, there were no paid positions. Volunteers for marketing and publicity, editors, narrators for audio books and cover design were always welcome.

“Everything is done pro-bono currently, as volunteers, but again, we are always looking for additional help,” she said.

The company had options for revamping previously published work and had even published a few novels from minors.

As Big World Network shifts from a for-profit company to a non-profit entity, it still seems to be about hope. It’s a shared vision for authors who like the idea of serializing their work, of having another publishing option, and of a built-in marketing support from everyone involved.

“I am very passionate about Big World Network because it gave me my first real shot and entrance into the industry,” Quan said. “I am really blessed, and I want the opportunity to help people succeed and reach their dreams.”

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June 9, 2016

Something Big Is Coming

Something Big is Coming--be a part of it!

Something Big is Coming–be a part of it!

I’m intrigued by the idea of serialized publishing.

Two men are trying to rescue Big World Network, an indie serialized publishing business, by turning it into a non-profit organization, and I’m just as intrigued by that.

They’ve agreed to allow me to write a post about them and what they’re doing. Be on the lookout for it sometime this weekend or early next week–and if you like the idea of keeping Big World Network alive, please take a look at their GoFundMe account: https://www.gofundme.com/27dxeth7

 

 

October 3, 2014

Burgers and books #free #giftcard #giveaway #promo

October is here! Celebrate with me!

October is here! Celebrate with me!

I had so much fun with last month’s giveaway that I decided not to wait to November for the next one, so I’m celebrating October with a gift card promo of a different kind!

My family and I love reading parties (in fact, we’re planning one for this Saturday evening). These are simple to plan and lots of fun. All you do is 1) stock up on good books, 2) stock up on yummy foods, and 3) sit in the same room together, reading and munching to your heart’s content.

Since I wanted to promote the idea of family reading parties, I settled on the following idea:

Each week in October, I’ll  give away a free book to whoever wins the drawing for that week. For this promo, I’m focusing on the Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. I’ll draw a name for electronic versions of book one on October 10, book 2 on October 17, book three on October 24, and book 4 on October 31. If you already have these books and you win, let me know–I’ll gift the book you won to a friend of your choice and send you an electronic version of Trusted, by Krista Wayment or Dark Birth by Scott Bryan instead.

Also on Halloween day, everyone who has entered during the month of October will have a chance in a drawing for a $15 Burger King gift card. Food for your personal reading party!!!

Sound fun? Here’s how to enter:

OPTION ONE:

On your blog, post a story, poem or opinion on this prompt: What makes a good fantasy character? Ping back to this article so I know you’ve entered.

OPTION TWO:

If you don’t have a blog, you can like my author page on Facebook and respond to the status with the same prompt. What makes a good fantasy character? Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGwenBristol.

Wishing everyone a Happy October, Happy Reading and a truly happy day!

 

 

July 30, 2014

Marketing From a Village

Hinterstein Germany Village Buildings Mountains (from pixabay.com)

This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.

For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.

No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.

Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.

Here’s why:

As a united entity, we authors vivaciously reached out to the public.

To my knowledge, this is the first time our little group has ever done this.

It takes guts to welcome new people to come see what we’re up to. It takes courage to put on a professional image, especially when, for most of us, our fledgling works have been self-published and all the marketing efforts are up to us.

For some of us, it takes everything we have to overcome Imposter Syndrome enough that our neighbors, relatives and other people we meet in settings like this will take us seriously. We hope they will at least notice that we take ourselves seriously. (That in itself is a great leap forward.)

I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”

That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:

To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.

We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.

In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.

We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.

That means creating our own wave of enthusiasm, relying on each other to help spread the word, and forming our own movement that can eventually pick up momentum in our own towns and cities and spread to the larger world.

We create online villages by blogging, commenting on each other’s blogs, participating in blog hopping and blog tours, attending virtual book launches and creating author pages on Amazon and Facebook. These are helpful (and so fun they’re sometimes addicting). Wherever we go, we try to seek out our target audiences, hoping they’ll become part of our online villages.

I wonder, though, if they’ll ever really replace people we can get to know.

It takes a lot more courage to reach out to people you can see and touch than it does to reach out to people you might never meet in person. This is one reason why I admire writers who sell their books at trade fairs and arrange for book signings in libraries and bookstores.

Perhaps this is also why I value my writer’s group so much. This last month, at least, these other authors were my village. Even though I didn’t bring any bookmarks to pass out or books to sell, I felt their combined energy swelling up and spilling over into the concert at the park. Since then, two books from one local author have made the bestsellers list on Amazon.

I can’t help but see a connection here.

Her village is thriving.

 

 

March 6, 2014

Why all authors should join a book club

"Epic," by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. :) Take a closer look at the book  on Amazon.com.

“Epic,” by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. 🙂 Take a closer look at the book on Amazon.com.

In November, a neighborhood friend invited me to a book club. I went, although I felt a bit nervous…I had never been to a book club before.

The winter holidays and planning for 2014 meant no real book club meetings again until the second week of February. I attended again, and solidified my opinion on book clubs: All authors should join one.

Here’s why:

  1. Book clubs are a great way to get a feel for what readers love to read. This doesn’t apply just to the books that the club chooses, but also to the way a book is written–the prose, the structure, the characters. It’s just a good way to learn about the elements of a well-written book (and, in some cases, it’s a good way to learn what not to do).
  2. Book clubs are a great way to get your name out in the local community. I’m an open book online (pardon the pun), but in real-life situations I’m generally shy when it comes to talking about writing. I usually won’t even mention it unless someone else brings it up, but in January I took a risk and let the book club members know I love writing. They’ve become a great new support group for me.
  3. Even better, five die-hard fantasy fans from this book club have agreed to beta-read for me. Finding solid beta readers who will follow through in a timely manner can be difficult, so I’m excited to give them a try! (If all goes well, they’ll be reading for me sometime early this spring.)

This month, we’re reading and discussing Epic, by Conor Kostick. I’m about three quarters of the way through and I love it so far. It’s one that’s going to make it onto my Great Worlds list.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

August 25, 2013

Bruschetta for writers

Homemade Bruschetta and string cheese

Homemade Bruschetta and string cheese

I have wonderful memories of cold winter days made warm by the company of good friends.

Once a week, we met together to talk, work on projects, watch chick flics and allow our young children to run around in the immense back yard of one particularly wonderful lady.  While they wore themselves out in the snow, we rejuvenated our minds and hearts.

Here I found willing readers for my first attempts at fiction, encouragement when I accepted challenging nonfiction assignments and dedicated discussions about books. We talked about books we were reading, books we loved, books we hated, plot lines and characters and what made certain books original. I found several new favorite authors this way.

A larger group of us met once a month for lunch. In the summer, we often picnicked at parks in and around the Bismarck area. During cold weather, we met at restaurants.

One February day, we met at Olive Garden, where one of my dearest friends introduced me to Bruschetta.

I’m busy chopping fresh garden tomatoes today, content with the idea of Bruschetta for dinner.  It’s like dining with a friend.

I’m inclined to believe that all writers need friends.

Author Janet Sketchley recently put it this way:

We may do the actual writing alone, even if we do it best amid the background chatter of the local coffee hangout, but it’s the writing community that lets us thrive.

I’m nodding my head here. Writers need a strong network, for emotional health if for nothing else.

I haven’t been able to attend a slightly geographically-distant critique group for months now, but the few times I was able to attend saved my sanity during some rough times.  I’m hoping to get back to it this fall. I loved it.

Likewise, I love the local writing group that I attend more regularly. I love chatting with my daughters about their own works-in-progress, and I love that some of my writing friends I’ve left behind will call me two or three times a week just to talk writing with me.

I do, however, think that writer’s friends can—and should—extend beyond other writers.

Like my Bruschetta friend from North Dakota, and my daycare-crib-keeper friend, my German party friends, my do-it-yourself home decorator friend, my librarian friend, my running friends.

Those friends are now joined by my dessert club friends near my non-North Dakota home—the one who takes in pets for the animal shelter, the one who creates beautiful beaded hair  clips, the one who knows how to make gum paste flowers for wedding cakes and the one who enjoys Dr. Who and Monarch of the Glen.

Every person is amazingly unique, and yet it seems like any time I get together with friends, we talk about stories of some kind. I learn something from each interaction with them. Usually, I learn something about myself.

I believe that transfers directly to my writing. It makes me both a better person and a better writer.

These moments with friends are like the basil in my Bruschetta—they make something ordinary like garden tomatoes into something completely wonderful, something worth savoring and worth sharing.

June 12, 2013

Indie Recon marketing thing is going on this week, and other things

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. :)

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. 🙂

It’s Marketing Mania Week over at Indie Recon.

Yesterday’s post by CJ Lyons was all about branding, which is something I keep thinking I need to think more about. The truth is,  I love variety and don’t like the thought of getting stuck writing just one genre. This post made me feel like I could actually create a brand for myself and still maintain my writing freedom. It was heartening.

There’s a great post today on marketing in general (and to young adult target audiences in particular). Wednesday will cover Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes, Thursday will focus on marketing advice from bestselling Indie authors, and Friday there will be a secret giveaway. Fun for everyone!

Other things on my mind:

  • The more I read, the more I want to write. I see a plot or a style I like, and I think “I have to try this out sometime and see if I can do something like it.” The same thing happens when I watch a good movie (although I want to write stories, not make movies). I want to do it my own way, of course, but the draw is there with every good book I pick up. Does anyone else experience this? Is this what inspires people to write fan fiction?
  • I’ve decided I really, really love ebook Habits and Free Book Dude. I keep adding stories to my Kindle, which I’ll read someday when life slows down.  These sites list books that can be downloaded for free. Browsing through their lists has become part of my daily e-mail ritual.
  • The beans are up! And some of the kale I planted earlier this spring is ready to harvest. Hurrah for fresh kale at lunch! 🙂
May 25, 2013

Star Trekkin’ to deadline, and worlds we love

Star Trek on my television screen :)

Star Trek on my television screen 🙂

I now have less than a week to my next deadline. This assignment has been challenging, both because of the topic and scope and because I used most of my time working on family-related projects.  Somehow I’ve gathered enough information for eight solid drafts.

I hoped to finish a more polished draft yesterday afternoon. Instead, I ate pizza and fun-size Snickers and drank raspberry soda (Friday is my eat-anything day), and then I watched the newest Star Trek movie with my sweetheart. We’re tentatively planning a trip to the cinema latter today to see the even-newer one.

A small part of me wonders whether I should take the time to go, but that’s just a very small part of me, easily silenced by the promise of entertainment. The thing is, even if I stayed at home and chained myself to my desk, I couldn’t do much more than I’ve already done until the people I need to check facts with are back at work.

That leave me until Tuesday morning to enjoy the Star Trek world.

As I listed my priorities for this weekend and for early next week, I realized that losing myself in make-believe worlds is completely therapeutic for me. I found myself mentally counting worlds I’ve enjoyed losing myself in–C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Harry Potter, both Star Wars and Star Trek, Jane Austen’s writings and even occasionally Little House on the Prairie–and the list goes on.

I think it’s partly why I like to write. Authors are world-creators. They spark imaginations, provide a safe escape from reality and allow us the chance to experience something we could never find ourselves doing otherwise.

I fall for great settings, mapped out through action and sensory-experiences: colors and shapes, sounds, smells and the way something feels under fingertips. Even the history of a place, if written well enough, wraps itself around me, and I find myself digging deeper into the story. If these experiences are new, I become an explorer, hiking to the top of the next ridge to see what’s beyond it. I have always loved exploring.

When an author creates a world this alluring, I come back to visit as often as I can. These world-immersions have become a family tradition: Harry Potter in the basement on hot summer days, Lord of the Rings on the family room floor at Thanksgiving.

Today, it’s Star Trek. In the cinema. And I am happy.

 

May 12, 2013

Ten wonderful quotations about success

DCF 1.0

Yesterday I relaxed with SUCCEED—Inspirational and Motivating Quotations About Success, compiled by Peter Begley. It was one of those experiences that made me feel like I was adrift on a floating chair in the middle of a beautiful lake. My soul went Ahhhh.

And so I’m sharing the Ahhh—someness of it here, with my top ten favorite quotes from this book (not necessarily in any order):

  1. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.~Walt Disney
  2. I criticize by creation–not by finding fault.~Cicero
  3. Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.~Alfred A. Montepert
  4. Remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.~Epicurus
  5. Wise men make more opportunities than they find.~Francis Bacon
  6. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.~Thomas A. Edison
  7. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.~Mahatma Gandhi
  8. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.~Howard Aiken
  9. Find a job you like and you will add five days to every week.~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  10. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not the desire to beat others.~Ayn Rand

And in light of my last post, this one is just for me, I think:

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.~Bill Cosby

That’s why, as a writer, I have to think about my target audience; as a marketer, I have to think about branding; and as an individual, I have to strive for a balanced life.

April 18, 2013

An update on Author Darrell Pitt

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

A little more than a month ago, I interviewed Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero and The Steampunk Detective Series. One of the things we discussed briefly was that he was signing an eight-book contract with a publisher that he couldn’t name at the time.

The details are finally available. Earlier this week, a press release was sent from the University he attends. I’ve included most of the text here:

RMIT University student and self-published speculative fiction author Darrell Pitt
has signed an unprecedented eight-book deal with Text Publishing.

The third-year Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) student and Brunswick West
resident has written two series and a stand-alone novel.

Text Publishing will re-edit his self-published e-books and release them in
bookshops from 2014, as well as releasing new books from the two series.

The three-book Steampunk Detective series tells the story of Jack Mason, a young
orphan who is apprenticed to Ignatius Doyle, the world’s most famous consulting
detective.

The second series of four books, Diary of a Teenage Superhero, is about a
teenager who discovers he has superpowers.

Mr Pitt’s eighth book, A Toaster on Mars, is a science fiction humour work in the
vein of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

He attributes his success to his love of comic books and his mentor and RMIT
teacher Toni Jordan, an award-winning novelist and lecturer in the creative writing
program in the School of Media and Communication.

Mr Pitt said he only became serious about his writing after starting as a mature age
student at RMIT in 2012, when he also started to make use of self-publishing
technology to put out his work as digital e-books.

“I’ve long been a fan of speculative fiction and comic books – I suppose I’m a geek
at heart!” he said.

“I had the good fortune to have Toni Jordan as a teacher in the first semester and
she offered to look at one of my unpublished manuscripts. It was her suggestion
that I submit the manuscript to Text Publishing.

“This whole experience has been amazing. I can’t emphasise how important it is to
have a mentor. Not only is Toni Jordan a wonderful writer, but she’s a fantastic
writing teacher – I think that’s a rare package.”

Ms Jordan said: “One of the best things about our course is the way our students
can connect with publishing professionals, other writers, and most importantly,
readers.

“Darrell is wonderfully talented and dedicated and I can’t wait to see his books in
print. There’s never been a more exciting time to be an emerging writer.”

This is something worth celebrating! 🙂

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