Category Archives: Amazon

Author Finds Success through Ebooks: Royalties, Publishing Deal, Even a Movie

Today I heard a story on the radio that caught my attention. It began with a story not unlike my own. A writer discussed how she’d received complementary letters from publishers and editors in response to her manuscript submissions. Although they liked her work respondents didn’t think they’d be able to market it. As this was my experience, I wanted to hear what happened.

Also like me, Karen McQuestion had been a freelance writer, and had written on a regular basis for a local newspaper. Karen loved to write. Her heart’s desire was to write novels. Karen had written several and had even had an agent. Unfortunately, she was unable to sell her books.

A year ago McQuestion began to think she’d never be a success as a novelist. When her freelance work dried up, she realized it was time to take a serious look at her options. During this time Karen learned about a writer who published his novels as e-books.  After 7,000 download the author had earned a small royalty and a publishing deal.

Karen didn’t know the basics such as how to design a book cover or determine pricing, but decided publishing on the ‘Net was worth a try. McQuestion reasoned that if her books weren’t successful she’d have lost little, and in the best case she’d make enough money to continue writing. During the next six months she uploaded six books.

The end result?

Karen McQuestion wrote on her blog: “I’ve had (to me) unbelievable success. The first few months I was stunned that anyone was actually buying and reading my books. I’d wanted it for so long that I was afraid of it all going away. Some small part of me thought that my sales would peak and then taper off to nothing. But despite my worries, my sales numbers kept growing, partially because I was adding books and also because more people were buying e-book readers.

“The best part–I got emails and reviews and comments on the message boards from readers who liked my books and were recommending them to others! Without this word of mouth I never would have had the kind of numbers I had. Some of the posters are people I now consider to be Internet friends. My world became wider, and happier too, for that matter.”

Karen’s story doesn’t end there. She’s had one of her novels optioned for film. She also was contacted by an editor who wanted to publish her books.

Karen’s success didn’t come overnight. Her love of writing kept her going. Not every writer is likely to have Karen McQuestion’s success; however, if you love writing, the process is its own reward.

Patience is the hardest part of the writer’s journey. Karen McQuestion offers advice to writers who are yearning for validation of their work through publishing:

“To other writers I say–please, keep the faith. Keep writing and improving (that’s a given, I know) and keep up with the latest news and opportunities, because you never ever know.”

What keeps me going? A commitment to the women who contributed to my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories; the positive comments and support I’ve had since I released the book and it’s companion blog Living in the Heartland; and the faith that something good WILL happen.

To read stories of other extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

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Filed under Amazon, blog, book, dreams, editors, frustration, hopeful, income, indie writer, job, luck, on writing, Pamela Ferris-Olson, perseverance, publishing, royalty, success, writers, writing, writing block

One Writer Tells of Her Success on the Internet

Kathleen O'Keefe Kavanos, author and cancer survivor

Once again I wish to thank Nancy Burke Barr for her guest post on Facebook.  I respect both her wisdom and views on social media. Nancy has generally been patient with me, but my comments to her post resulted in a suggestion that I tone my skepticism done a notch.

I responded saying we are yin and yang on social media. Yin and yang are complementary opposites. They do not, however, represent good and evil. Yin is the shady side, and yang the sunny one. In Wikipedia the definition of the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang includes this description: “As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.”

Nancy stands in the light. She has faith in the power of social media. I stand in the shadows looking out at the social media wondering if the promise of  its  brilliance is real or perceived. I also ask whether there are more risks than benefit.  Nancy clearly lives in sunny Southern California, and I in a more pragmatic northern cline.

One area where Nancy and I occupy the same position on social media is in its networking potential. In the six months since I have began learning about social media I’ve met some good people. One of the most amazing is Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos. She is a two time cancer survivor. Kathy is also the author of a book designed to help cancer patients advocate for their successful recovery. This approachable, generous lady has achieved enormous success in only 8 months on the Internet. She has more than 5,000 followers on her FB page one and more than 3000 Twitter followers.

I present her story in two parts: the first is a discussion of the value of social media for writers, the second contains Kathy’s views on traditional vs. indie publishing.  Her posts are both encouraging and cautionary, but above all else Kathy is genuine.

Q. How long ago did you get involved in Social Media? Where did you start (eg. Twitter, FB, blogs)?  Why did you decide to use SM?

A. I got involved in Social Media after I signed a contract with my agent. He felt a social presence on the Internet was important for my book’s platform. He suggested that I set up a Web site, get on twitter, and Facebook. That was ten months ago. I now have 5,000 followers on FaceBook , over 3,000 on twitter,  and I share my blog http://survivingcancerland.blogspot.com on over 10 sites.

An author’s SM presence reflected in the book proposal’s platform is one of the most important areas at which a publishing house will look. It doesn’t matter if you have the best book in the world if you cannot tell others about it to sell it. Publishing companies are not in the publishing business to sell books. They are in it to make money. You, as an author, must show them that you have the contacts to do that.

Q. Did you find SM helpful from the start or did it take time?

A.I found it extremely helpful. I made many friends who were helpful in building contacts. I am followed on Twitter by many publishing houses. One of them contacted me to answer a questionnaire about the future of publishing. I was pleased, honored and shocked. Me, Miss Doesn’t-Know-How-To-Turn-On-A-Computer one year ago giving advice to publishing houses. I was rewarded by a free book of my choosing.

Q. What are your stats? Have they grown slowly, steadily or only recently jumped?

A. I found that they grew steadily and then started to snowball. My FB page became very lively with comments and sharing. Before I knew it I had 444 requests a day before I quickly hit my 5000 limit. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started off with a fan page and just let it “Rock ON!”

Q. How has SM helped as a writer? If you weren’t promoting the book, how has SM helped you?

A. I believe writing is a skill that improves with use.  Developing a “voice” takes time and patience. When I review old blogs I realize I may have stated things differently, although the main topics would have remained the same.

Q. How important do you view SM to the success of today’s writer?

Social Media is booming. It is easier now more than ever in the history of communication to contact and interact with people all over the world. Unless you are Dan Brown and already have a following, SM is very important.

To learn more about Kathleen O’Keefe Kavanos connect with her on Facebook Facebook PAGE II,
http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php?sk=contact#!/pages/SURVIVING-CANCERLAND-The-Psychic-Aspects-of-Healing/142803307934?ref=m. Follow her on Twitter @psychichealing.

Next time we’ll explore Kathy’s book and the publishing industry.

To read more stories of extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

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Filed under agents, Amazon, blog, book, editors, Facebook, frustration, good read, media, networking, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, social media, Twitter, voice

Pamela Ferris-Olson Takes Her New Book to Good Morning America

Pamela Ferris-Olson Discusses Her New Book with Robin Roberts on the Set of Good Morning America

Check out photos of me in NYC on set of Good Morning America on my blog Living in the Heartland.

Order a copy of this great book about contemporary American women at Amazon.com.

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Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

The time has come as with all things to move on. In this particular case I want to use the next few posts to examine the utility of Facebook for writers. To be honest I spend little time on Facebook. Instead, I am more occupied with Twitter and blogs. I feel certain that social media experts would tell me I am under utilizing a valuable tool. This is why I thought it appropriate to ask a knowledgeable social media person to start a discussion about Facebook. I naturally turned to someone I trust to write a guest post. I am extremely appreciative to Nancy Burke Barr, aka Mentor Mama. She agreed to share her some wisdom Nancy is both a professional and a sincere person. I know this because I relied on her mentoring during my first few, frustrating months of learning social media.  After reviewing her submission for this post I realized that I need to have missed Mentor Mama’s friendship and should make the time to get her help to step things up to the next level. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read Nancy’s post, Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

“You are all a lost generation.”

–Epigraph, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

In the years following World War I, the term, “the lost generation”, believed to have been coined in France, came to represent a generation of young writers and artists travelling abroad, connecting with other creative pioneers. Counted among these “lost” youth, were the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.

Like Jean Paul Sartre and the era of existentialists before them, these budding geniuses centered their activities around the excitement of Paris.  Writers, in particular, flocked to Paris for the intellectual interaction, the inexpensive cost of living and the ease of publication.  While Paris served as a muse for some, the decadent lifestyle of cafés and cabarets functioned as the undoing of others.

Throughout history, talented sorts have always loved to gather together to share ideas, to debate, to challenge each other, to collaborate, and to change the world.  Think of the distances that scholars traveled to work together at the ancient Library in Alexandria.  This is a vital part of the creative process.

With the amazing technology available today, it is no longer necessary to travel great distances to commune with other intellectuals. A modern day “Alexandria” or “Parisian café” is as close as your computer, where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people from around the world.

An important part of that paradigm is the social media platform, Facebook.  Facebook is, according to its own site, “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. . . . Facebook is a part of millions of people’s lives all around the world providing unparalleled distribution potential . . . and the opportunity to build a business that is highly relevant to people’s lives.”  (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet)  It is the hub of the online social scene, the “Paris”, if you will, for today’s creative elite, with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.

Not unlike the artists of the “lost generation”, your strategic use of this hub affords you the ability to interact with people who have a specific interest in the products or services that you offer.  Whether you are creating an online presence, offering consulting, or self-publishing a book, use of Facebook is a critical piece of your online strategy.

Used correctly, this platform establishes an opportunity for you to open a window into your life.  This glimpse behind the scenes affords a level of authenticity that was missing from commercial interactions in the decade preceding online social media.  During that time, TV and radio commercials essentially told the consumer what to do if they wanted to be smart, beautiful, healthy, or enlightened.

Despite its seeming anonymity, today’s strategy strives to return to the model where a buyer knew the vendor well, and could base his buying decisions on trust.  Using Facebook as a place to develop real relationships with people in your industry is a long, tedious process, much as it must have been in ancient Alexandria or early 20th century Paris.  The difference is that your social circle consists of 400 million active Facebook users. The potential is staggering.

Obviously, you cannot personally interact with 400 million users.  You can, however, develop serious friendships with hundreds of those people. Thousands of others can follow your Facebook group or community page and gage whether you are a person with whom they want to interact or do business.  You have the opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, offering them the kind of information, interaction, and support that builds lasting bonds.  Those bonds will encourage a person not only to buy your ”product”, but to follow your career, tell others about you, and to ultimately help you change the world.

Used indiscriminately, Facebook can be your undoing, as addictive as alcohol was for F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It can become an obsession, causing you to disengage with the real world and live in a Facebook fantasy.  If you are a writer or other artist, you must limit your Facebook time, ensuring that you spend adequate time pursuing your craft.  Facebook is, after all, only one online tool, not the product itself.

Many people worry about this online generation.  Will too much time online hinder their social abilities? Reduce their creativity?  Will they become another “génération perdue”?  If you use Facebook, will you become “perdu”?

This writer asserts that “the lost generation” was never really lost at all and neither is our generation of Facebook fanatics.  The early era produced great genius, as will our present era.  How and where these geniuses connect and share their brilliance simply changes with the times.  Until the birth of the Internet, it was impossible for many to afford the luxury of travelling to the great cultural centers.  Facebook now offers artists everywhere the opportunity to reach out and interface with the world.  If you are disciplined and diligent, this can only result in a generation that is universally connected and perhaps the very first “génération trouvée”.

PLEASE FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK!

http://www.facebook.com/nancy.burke.barr

Nancy Burke Barr

“Mentor Mama”

http://www.ishouldhavelistenedtomymother.com

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Filed under Amazon, blog, book, digital, Facebook, good read, media, networking, social media, Twitter, Uncategorized, writers

So What’s My Verdict on Twitter – Is It a Useful Tool for Writers?

My friend Leslie (moondustwriter.com) asked her readers earlier in May to write something in 160 characters. She challenged: “What can you do in 160 characters? A story surely not! I have titles longer than 160 characters for goodness sake.”

Leslie’s a poet, so I playfully sent her an email to ask if 160 characters had become a new form of Haiku. What writer can resist a challenge?  My response:

“Must say it 140 characters on Twitter. Leslie’s poet challenge 160. Ironic, no? Poets typically use fewer words 2 convey more meaning now want 20 more to do so!”

160 characters is a luxury one doesn’t have on Twitter. Although Twitter limits users to 140 characters, if someone wants their message retweeted (RT) they need to reduce their character limit further generally to less than 150 characters.

A good deal can be said within the confines of 140 characters. With the right message and what amounts to an Internet version of the kids’ game Telephone (where the first kid whispers a message into the ear of the kid next to him, who then whispers the message into the next kid’s ear, etc.) a writer has what appears to be a boundless audience. The caveat, as I have mentioned in my earlier posts, is that because of the massive amount of scam, spam, and garbage Tweets the likelihood that a tweet is read is small.

Assuming a tweet is read, how much value is it likely to produce for the writer? That depends on what you goal is. A writer who hopes Twitter will significantly increase sales is likely to be disappointed.  I can state unequivocally that in my first four months of using Twitter, it has resulted in an insignificant number of sales. However, some of the connections I’ve made have been worthwhile. There is a possibility down the road that some of these will become golden.

Early on, I was so focused on building my Twitter following that I had little time to attend to emails, phone calls and other, what I refer to as, old-fashioned networking. Sales plummeted. The lesson for me was that Twitter is a tool, but only ONE tool. Other tools I need to employ are Facebook, a variety of other social media platforms like Digg and Reddit, blogs, emails and more traditional means of getting the word out.

In my next post I will begin a discussion of Facebook. I have asked a SM coach to assist. However, before I end my thoughts about Twitter I want to make a disclaimer. My four posts on Twitter are based on my desire to promote a non-fiction book. I am looking for the best way to spread the word about my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. I am aiming at national distribution, and sales well beyond those commonly cited for an indie author and publisher.

I don’t think Twitter would affect sales much different if I were trying to market my book locally, I had written fiction, or the subject matter was about something other than women’s search for identity, self-esteem and happiness. What would change would be the mix of the social media and traditional tools I chose to use. Keep reading. I’ll cover these in future posts. In the meantime:

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Three Women Featured in Author’s New Book

Nancy, Ellyn, and Ife

DAYTON — Their backgrounds may be dramatically different, but it’s their similarities that are the focus of Pamela Ferris-Olson’s new book.

“Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories,” chronicles the lives of three Miami Valley women who represent different minorities.

The idea for her book, she explains in the introduction, originated on a humid summer evening as she sat waiting for New York’s Staten Island Ferry and observed the variety of languages that filled the room.

“The interconnectedness made possible by the Internet has resulted in a burgeoning exchange of information, goods, services and ideas,” she writes. “It has made commerce and ideas readily available, but has not, as yet, transformed attitudes sufficiently to create a world view in which all people are seen as belonging to a single global family.”

Ferris-Olson, who lives in Washington Twp., hopes her self-published book might help remedy that situation. She has been a freelance writer for the Dayton Daily News for the past 15 years.

“I wanted to begin a conversation among people about diversity,” she said. “As different as we may all look, women have similar experiences as wives, mothers and business women.” By sharing three stories of minority women and their struggles, she’s hoping readers will relate and be inspired.

To find subjects for her interviews, Ferris-Olson contacted women’s centers at Wright State University and the University of Dayton, asking them to put out a call for women willing to share their life stories. She chose Dayton, not only because she lives here, but because it’s the Midwest.

“Ohio has become a bellwether for the country since the onset of the 21st century,” she writes. The search eventually led her to Nancy, Ellyn and Ife:

• Nancy Scott, a single mother of three, grew up on a reservation and is a proud member of the Seneca Nation and the Navy. A survivor of mental and physical abuse, she has met President George W. Bush on two occasions, both as an emissary for higher education.

Said Nancy: “If I’ve learned anything, it’s to stay true to yourself. Embrace your culture, your faith, and your beliefs. I really believe that. I always look for the positive in any situation; otherwise life is just wasted space.”

• Ife Shafeek grew up in a housing project in Dayton with a mother who imposed rigid restrictions. At the age of 18, Ife thought marriage offered a way to be free of her mother’s control, but discovered that neither her husband nor her Muslim religion provided the security or peace of mind she’d expected. She has faced many challenges in the process of raising two sons on her own.

Said Ife: “I realize that nothing happens in this world without the hand of God. I think everyone should recognize a higher power and count their blessings when they receive them. I don’t believe my story would be any different had I been raised with a different religion.”

• Ellyn Miller, born in Korea, was put up for adoption by her biological parents who were unable to afford the medical treatment her cleft palate necessitated. Ellyn grew up in Oakwood surrounded by a large, loving religious family but always wondered what her life would be like had she remained in Korea. In 2009, she had the chance to spend several days with her biological family.

Said Ellyn: “I believe my path to fulfilling my destiny started the day I was born. Someday something like a light bulb will click on and then I’ll know what I’m supposed to do with my life. Until then I want to try anything and everything. I don’t have a master plan so until I discover my life’s purpose I’ll just take it one step at a time and see where I go.”

Though Ferris-Olson does not belong to a religious or ethnic minority, she observed intolerance first-hand when her father’s Japanese-Americans friends — who had served with him during the war — came to visit their home and her mother refused to come out of the bedroom to see them.

“I have had an increasing desire to be involved in the dialogue about intolerance,” she said, certain that her father’s stories and respect for those men lie at the heart of her book. “Our country is more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous time in its history,” she said. “American’s population continues to grow, and become increasingly multiracial and predominantly female.”

“Living in the Heartland,” she said, is a celebration of women and an appeal for Americans to embrace diversity.

By Meredith Moss, DailyNews.com. April 24, 2010

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success:<a href=”http://tinyurl.com/ybnk7ml”&gt; Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories</a> on Amazon.com.

Click to <a href=”http://http://tinyurl.com/ybargwg”>Living in the Heartland</a> video preview to see stories of inspirational women.

Click to subscribe to <a href=”http://tinyurl.com/yfcfjz7″>Living in the Heartland.com</a> blog.

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What’s Wrong with Book Stores?

Credit for this photo unknown.

Credit for this photo unknown as it was sent to me via email.

I had to take a diversion from my discussion of Twitter so I could share this photograph. It was emailed to me by a friend. I imagine there is a good chance  the picture has been Photoshopped, but whether it has or not I share it with no intention of making any negative commentary on the Chinese. Instead, I am commenting on what many writers and readers, I imagine too, have felt about book stores. In my case, as you will read in future posts, I’ve been frustrated in my attempts to get my indie published Living in the  Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories into book stores. When a writer can’t get her book into brick and mortar stores to share with readers across the country, and readers can’t find the books they want to read we ask ourselves” Am I in the ……?!”


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