September Writers' Forum


The 2018 September Writers' Forum --The Publishing News You Need to Know Log Line – Pitching your book in one sentence.

CreateSpace Update

Now in its second year, the Writers' Forum is a compilation of the month’s important publishing news and helpful writing information for authors, particularly those independently publishing their books. For readers, there are links to southern Wisconsin bookstores to preview their upcoming events. I’ve been an independently published author since 2014 and provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my indie pub journey. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press. I'd love to use my skills to guide you through the steps of independent publishing!

Get to your local bookstore. There are cool things happening there all through the month of October!

A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Books & Company, 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee

InkLink Books, 2890 East Main Street, East Troy

The Little Read Book, 1406 W. State Street, Wauwatosa 

Mystery to Me Bookstore, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison

Tribeca Gallery & Café, 1318 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee and 401 E. Main Street, Watertown


It’s book festival season . . . many great authors are coming to these festivals! See where you can hear from some of your favorites.

Wisconsin Book Festival, October 11 - 14 (Madison)

Fox Cities Book Festival, October 8 - 14

Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, November 2 - 3 (Waukesha)


The Log Line – Can you pitch your book in one sentence?

This past weekend I attended the Wisconsin Writers’ Association Fall Conference. Many authors were pitching their stories to the agents and publishers in attendance. It’s been a while since I pitched one of my books in this manner, but I was reminded of the importance of a log line – that one descriptive sentence that tells someone about your book. This is an intimidating process to be that succinct with a story that spans (potentially) hundreds of pages. Author Kristen Lamb does a good job of distilling this process in her recent log line “how to” article.

Switching to KDP from CreateSpace – UPDATE

As we discussed in the August Writers’ Forum, KDP Print is absorbing CreateSpace titles (eventually). I have yet to receive any communication from CreateSpace on this directly. Some authors have proactively moved their titles over and now (as I learned on one writing Facebook page), there appears to be a slight backlog to do this. So, I had meant to move my titles over during this past month and report back to you on how it went. Instead, I am waiting . . . I took the time to update my paperback bookcover (in the CreateSpace system that I am sure of.) And I ordered enough of my paperback copies to get me through the next few months of book events. Here’s what the KDP Help page is saying about this move. AND – there’s one thing that I didn’t even think about that was likely a mistake on my part. Since I just updated my paperback cover, I had forgotten that it takes WEEKS for this update to repopulate for extended distribution, which means currently the paperback book is not available if you were to go over to Barnes and Noble (for instance.) HOWEVER, it seems one of the good things about paperbacks moving over to KDP Print is that during updates your book is note removed from sales channels.  


How to Process and Filter Feedback

As writers we need the feedback from critique groups, editors, and beta readers. Sometimes, it is hard to process all of this information. Annie Neugbebauer writes a helpful post on how to both approach and incorporate this different feedback into your work-in-progress editing process. I like that she talks about gut instincts – sometimes knowing when to discard advice is as important as knowing when to keep it.

How to Process Book Edits and Critiques












Free Grammar Tools

Indies Unlimited has an entire section of free resources for authors on their webpage, but this specific article gives us a nice list of free grammar tools to help us with our writing.

How to Get Top Authors to Give Endorsements for Your Book

If you’ve ever wished that a well-known author’s endorsement graced your book cover, you’re not alone. I’ve never seen a step-by-step approach presented before, so the article from the Nonfiction Authors’ Association caught my eye. I think the best part of this advice is not to be shy. It doesn’t hurt to ask for this favor if you ask professionally and nicely.

Get your book into Barnes & Noble

Yes, you can get your books into Barnes & Noble!

When my first book came out in 2014, I approached the small press office at Barnes and Noble with my pitch (marketing proposal) and a copy of my book. (They rushed through a review of my information because I was set to do a book signing at the Appleton Barnes & Noble.) The good news was that if my book HADN’T been printed via CreateSpace (an Amazon company), they said they’d carry my book as my marketing plan was stellar and my book was of a good quality. (Now, I was lucky that for this particular event the store was willing to order a limited number of titles.) I don’t think the hurdle to get into Barnes and Noble is as steep as you might think initially, however, you need to use a non-Amazon company for the printer of at least some of your books. I know a lot of authors who have used CreateSpace/KDP Print for their Amazon paperbacks and use IngramSpark for their expanded distribution books. This is good advice. For great advice on navigating the application process to Barnes and Noble check out the article from Judith Briles at The Book Shepherd. 

Audiobooks: Company Comparisons & a Narrator’s Guide for Authors

Did you know there was a competitor to ACX? I did not. Here’s a comparison between Findaway Voices and ACX. And there’s a great article by CJ Critt on the Book Designer for authors who are considering narrating their own books and those of other authors. Can you do it? Check out CJ’s tips.  

Audiobooks - comparisons and how to be a narrator


KBoards – Terrifying Terms of Service

Like many authors – particularly indie authors – I have popped on and off Kboards for advice over the years. In August the site was sold to a company called VerticalScope. They changed the terms of service – SIGNIFICANTLY.  The article details their overreach of claiming that anything you post on the info board basically becomes the property of VerticalScope. It’s a little more complicated than that, but if you like to hang out over on Kboards, you need to know what’s going down.


UGH—Just when you thought you understood (sort of) everything about Kindle keywords, there’s more to know. David Kudler lets us know that our previous understanding of how Amazon uses keyword phrases may have changed. Previous advice was to always use natural sounding phrases as your keywords and that they were taken in their entirety for search purposes. New research shows that Amazon is using PORTIONS of these keyword phrases. This allows for longer keyword phrases. Definitely read the article on the research Kudler did to confirm this before making changes though. I am in the middle of a test on this on the first book in my series.


Getting Reviews – Voracious Readers – Part 2

In the May Writers’ Forum  I featured an article from Melissa Bowersock about her experience with the reviewer site “Voracious Readers Only” and her take away from this experiment. Here's part two of that analysis. Overall, she received enough reviews to make this a positive experience. Also Larry Froncek, the owner of the Voracious Readers Only website, was very transparent in the numbers of readers he has and their demographics. This may be a good fit for you to gain some reviews if what you write matches the most popular genres of their reviewers.

Fall Cleaning -- Author Platform Housekeeping












Fall Platform Inventory . . . a little housecleaning perhaps?

The Smart Marketing for Authors website is giving us a nice housekeeping list to make sure your platform components are up to date. This includes your website, email, and social media accounts. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to update one of these sites. I just presented a session on your online author image at the Wisconsin Writers’ Association Conference, and as I prepared my session, I realized how many updates I needed to make to my biography in different places I had forgotten about.

What is an Author Brand?

Does the idea of having an author brand confuse you?

The simple formula is YOU + YOUR BOOK(S) = YOUR AUTHOR BRAND

Dana Kaye talks through the concept of author brand on the BookBaby in advance o the 2018 Independent Authors Conference November 2 – 4 in Philadelphia. (There’s a registration link at the bottom of the BookBaby blog page if you’re interested.)

Book Promotions

What's Hot - What's Not -- Book MarketingWhat’s Hot – What’s Not

Sophie Masson writes a fun article for the Writer Unboxed website about what’s hot and what’s not in book promotion these days. See if you can use her advice to stay on trend with your latest book promo efforts.


Marketing Your Books – with David Gaughran

I refer to David Guaghran a lot – WHY?? Because he knows what he’s talking about and he can convey it in simple, easy-to-use instructions. His recent articles about book marketing and advertising are thorough and helpful.

Take time to read both of these (seriously!): 

Marketing Uncovered: How to Sell Books

How to Advertise and Sell More Books

David talks about BookBub advertising in these articles as well as other platforms. If you’ve never considered BookBub advertising, you might want to consider it. The site offers 10 Successful Advertisers’ Tips to get you started.

Forgotten Book Markets

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) features an article by Anne-Catherine De Fombella on forgotten book markets. This is an interesting article that targets everything from international to local sales. It’s worth a read.

How to Market Your Books with a Specialist Blog

Also from ALLi, Barry Faulkner walks us through creating a special topic book blog that is related (in some way) to a topic in our books. It’s an interesting way to gather unique fans—particularly if you have an interest in blogging on a specific topic. (He offers a lot of ideas for topics outside of his detective genre.)


Social Media Use Demographics 2018

As authors we rely a lot on social media promotion. Take a moment to see who is using which platforms with these updated social media stats from Pew Research.

What’s New on Pinterest for Writers

I haven’t spent much time talking about Pinterest for writers/authors. I love Pinterest and use it every week for fun and to promote my work—both as an author and as a public relations professional helping authors. I have boards for writing advice, book reviews, travel, each of my books, plus fun things like my writing office remodel and more. Check it out here. (For a quick look - the image below is a snapshot of my Pinterest page.)

Pinterest for Authors - You can do this right!










Frances Caballo gives us a Pinterest update on the website: Social Media Just for Writers. If you’re new to Pinterest and curious about it’s potential, there are a number of other articles to explore at the bottom of the page I’m linking to here

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  



Add new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Your email will not be displayed to the public.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.