April Writers' Forum

In my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward.

Book News & Events

Indie Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 29! Plan to support your local indie bookstore this Saturday!!

Indie Bookstore Day in South Central Wisconsin April 29, 2017

Why is this important? Even though I buy a lot of books via Barnes and Noble and Amazon (like many readers and writers), I am indebted to the indie bookstores in southern Wisconsin. They are supportive of local authors (like myself) by carrying our books and being accessible for events. They are true partners with authors who publish independently or through smaller presses.

Here’s my honor roll of indie bookstores in Wisconsin that you should check out (not just this weekend, but whenever you can.) I know there are many more . . . feel free to add your favorites in the comment section below.

Mystery to Me Bookstore: 1863 Monroe Street, Madison (across from Trader Joe’s)

A Room of Ones Own Bookstore: 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Books & Company: 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Tribeca Gallery Café & Books: 401 E. Main Street, Watertown

Boswell Books: 2559 Downer Avenue, Milwaukee

The Little Read Book: 7602 W. State Street, Wauwatosa


Literary Festivals & Writing Conferences

April 28-30, 2017:  Green Bay “UntitledTown” Book and Author Festival. This will be Green Bay’s first-ever Book Festival, with readings, panels, craft lectures, and live storytelling. The majority of the conference is free. Ticketed events for special guest speakers: best-selling authors Margaret Atwood and Sherman Alexie.

May 12-13 -- The Lakefly Writers Conference, Oshkosh, WI. Learn more.  Oshkosh Wisconsin Writers' Conference


May 20 – Book Not Published Party on Facebook 10 am – 6 pm

A variety of authors will be offering their advice in a Facebook event on May 20 from 10 am – 6 pm. Each half-hour segment offers a new topic that will be helpful to all authors – published and unpublished! Best of all . . . it’s free. Pop in and out as your schedule allows.

Goodreads: What is it and why authors should use it.Featured Article

Goodreads: What is it and why you should use it (as both a reader and author.)

Goodreads Mission Statement: “To help people find and share the books they love . . . [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.”

Goodreads is a free book website that allows readers to catalog what they’ve read, rate/review books, search for new books, and interact with authors. Authors have pages that feature their books, biography, links to their blog, website, social media, and ways to interact with readers via forums and questions. The site was founded in December of 2006 and has grown to more than 50 million members. Amazon acquired the site in March of 2013.

Long before I became a published author, I was using the Goodreads site to catalog the books I read and search for new stories that were similar to my interests. I think the platform is straightforward and easy to use.

As an author, setting up my goodreads author page was also relatively straightforward. Trust me, it’s worth the time to have access to this large audience. Take the time to read, social media expert Barb Drozdowich’s “6 Ways for Indie Authors to Use Goodreads to Network”. She explains shelves, friends/followers, groups, event announcements and touches on giveaways. For a more thorough explanation of Goodreads’ book giveaways, Catherine Ryan Howard’s article is also a must read. She delves into the how-to and what to expect. The comments from other authors (including frustrations) add (I hope) a layer of helpfulness as you navigate your first giveaway.

And if you’ve gotten this far, you might enjoy the article from Writer Unboxed by Sonja Yoerg: Repeat After Me: “Goodreads is My Friend”. She acknowledges that many authors have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads but goes on to explain that as authors we can’t afford to ignore this important site. Her main criticism that reviews are much harsher on Goodreads than on Amazon, is true. I’ve experienced this personally. (More on reviews later in the Forum.) Check out her tips for making Goodreads a ‘good’ experience for you.

Pre-Publication Information

Editing Your Work

Whole Manuscript Step-by-Step Editing TipsThe main reason I actually like to edit my work isn’t about editing at all. It’s the fact that I’m happy I have a completed rough (probably very rough) draft and that is a victory worth celebrating. So, I typically begin the editing process with less trepidation that most authors I know. (Although, if you are one of those folks who feels the same way, I’d love to hear from you below in the comment section.)

Through the years, I have pieced together editing advice from different sources and created a check-list that helps guide me through the editing process. (You can view it here.)

Recently, I found some excellent editing steps from Lisa Tener/Book Writing Coach. Her article “Editing Tips: 7 Smart Ways to Tighten Your Writing” is just that – SMART! At the end of the article, she asks readers for suggestions on how she could have tightened her own post. The edits are incorporated into the text of her blog in red with a strikeout. What a fun way to demonstrate what she’s teaching. 

Writers' Resources

Staying in the know is important. The Social Media Just for Writers website has a list of recommended blogs and podcasts you can access here


Why Authors Shouldn’t Obsess Over One-Star Reviews

I had to laugh when I read that blog title on the Build Book Buzz website, because while that is good advice, it is easier said than done. I readily admit how I obsessed over one review in particular in my article “How to Respond to Negative Book Reviews” on the Indie B.R.A.G. website. 

But I think that it is a good reminder to authors to take a deep breath and embrace the three reasons to embrace one-star reviews as described in this article:

1. Readers aren’t stupid. (Meaning, the can usually see beyond the absurd and mean reviews.)

2. One-star reviews make four- and five-star reviews believable.

3. They can provide feedback that helps you improve the book or its description.

Take the time to read the whole article here.

The Audiobook Boom

I have never, ever listened to an audio book. (GASP!) I probably should have given the number of hours I’ve spent in the car, but for some reason I’ve never gravitated to this form of book consumption. I have noticed, however, the obvious uptick in the enjoyment of audiobooks. Do you like listening to books? I’d love to hear why or why not in the comments section below.

Digital Book World examines this growing trend and cites the latest stats from 2015 of $1.77 billion in sales was a 20% increase from the previous year and that The Wall Street Journal called audiobooks. “The fastest growing format in publishing.” 

The entire article is interesting, but what I found most applicable to my work as an author is the section which examines the options for authors to produce audiobooks. Previously, this was an expensive endeavor for the independent author, but that has changed considerably in recent years with new companies offering reasonably priced services to produce audiobooks.

Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  

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