To be honest, I’d never heard of a USP until the other day. I kind of thought maybe they were trying to say USB, as in a USB port in a computer. Such is life as a computer science student, I suppose. Anyway, a USP is actually a Unique Selling Proposition , and it’s basically the best and only way to a strong marketing plan. See the below article from the AuthorHouse author’s resource blog.
Defining and Delivering Your USP: A Crucial Step in Developing a Strong Marketing Strategy In a market where consumers have so many product choices, it can be difficult for a product to grab mind share when it doesn’t explicitly convey a unique selling proposition (USP) to the consumer. Think about your own personal shopping experiences. When there are 10 different products staring you down from the shelf in front of you and they all sell the same general idea/concept, how do you decide which product will meet your need? Taking the time to define your own unique selling proposition will help you target market and make your product stand out among the others jockeying for position in a consumer’s shopping cart.Read More →
Title: A Mankind Witch
Author: Dave Freer
Length: 352 pgs
Summary: Cair Aiden, one of the Redbeard Raider brothers, a pair of corsair seacaptains, has washed ashore in Norseland and made a thrall (slave) of the Telemark kingdom. This is a new phenomenon for him–Cair has always been master of his own fate, and just because he is now a thrall doesn’t make him believe differently. Studying his surroundings and the internal politics of this little kingdom of Telemark, set in the 16th Century, Cair manipulates his way into being the personal thrall of the Princess Signy, who is unknowingly at the center of an immense plot to throw the Christian oath-bearers out of the country and allow dark magics to reign supreme.
pg 216 – Cair swept aimlessly. His mind was a ferment. First, relief that she was, it appeared, both alive and unhurt. Secondly, at her reaction. Seeing her, smiling down at him, it had been a holiday with his wits. Cair was finally prepared to admit to himself that he–he of all people–was hopelessly in love with the girl-child*. And to her he was a loyal thrall, to be trusted enough to carry steel. Not even quite human. To be cherished, yes, as she did her horse. And yet, when he made her laugh in that dark place–it was all right. He would be her thrall, if he could make her happy.
pg 232 – Head bowed, trying to look even smaller and more unimportant than she felt, Signy walked out of the troll queen’s throne chamber and down into the troll hill. Here she was–“Signy you can’t do anything right,” “Signy you are so clumsy you can’t be trusted with anything”–with a skeleton key. His only key. A map which she couldn’t read. Intructions she was terrified of having to follow. And it wasn’t “Signy you can’t succeed at anything.” The thrall simply assumed that she would. It was a frightening and somehow uplifting belief. The little hard core of her honor that was the essence of Signy Siglunddottir was determined to do it. She kept a wary watch while he set the trap rope. At his gesture she moved past the door toward noisome cells, and waited, willing herself to be invisible.
*Worderella note: Signy the girl-child is 24 yrs old.
Why should you read this book?
It reads very much like Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. The beginning is slow, full of slight backstory so we are acquainted with the characters even while watching their present actions. There is a lot of political intrigue. Apparently, it’s also part of a three-part story, where two of the main characters are the only main characters in the other two books, or so the narrative in this book leads me to believe. I probably won’t be reading those, because I like how this one felt like a stand-alone. So, for you writers, read this book for an authentic feel for setting and history; especially in terms of all these Norse words that the characters use like it’s no big deal. It’s a big deal to me, I almost put the book down because I felt like I had to learn some other language to understand the story. Luckily, Freer told me what the words meant just as I was getting frustrated, and I read on.
Read this book for a well-planned romance that isn’t the main point of the story. Instead, I would say this story is about self-empowerment. For both men and women, really, because all the characters at one point completely believe they will fail. By the end of the book, Freer utilizes the same trick Maguire does, which is to make his chapters shorter, so you feel like you’re flying with the characters through this intense action. Overall, a good read. The characters are tangible and funny. The setting is believable and integral to the plot. The plot itself feels original to me, but that might be because I only have a moderate understanding of Norse mythology. I did recognize the villains from what I do know about Norse mythology, and yet, I was still interested. I still don’t quite know their motivation behind their actions, except that as dark creatures they want more power, but I suppose that’s just another reason to read this book and learn from Freer’s mistakes and successes. Give it a try, I’ve decided I liked this book.
I can’t remember if I mentioned this already (and I’m too lazy to look at the last couple entries to find out), so let me say this now: school is back in session. This surely explains the lack of posts and the reason why it is taking me three weeks to finish one book when normally, I finish three books in one week.
That aside, I am fighting for my right to write. I am taking six classes when the normal is three or four, I am working more hours than I have ever before, and I am the new editor-in-chief of my college’s magazine. Busy girl? That I am. Finding time to write? Surprisingly, I am. Because I’m so busy, I end up freaking out that I won’t be able to get everything done, so I start my homework and projects as soon as they are assigned, I end up getting them done a couple days ahead of time, and suddenly, my Friday morning shift at work is spent writing another chapter or so (in-between answering programming questions).
Life is hectic, but it’s good. Then again, life is always good when I find time to write and I feel like what I’m writing isn’t complete and utter dross*. Plus, the writing is easier this time around since I’ve put aside that first complete draft that I finished this past October. Following the sage advice of writers who have come before me, I’ve laid that draft to rest as utter trash and started anew with the same characters, now knowing what works and what doesn’t. I know now, that the phenomenon of the adult orphan will play a much bigger part. Yet, I don’t want the story to be bogged down with it, I want my characters to learn and grow. I know now not to force my characters, especially in terms of shoving the plot in one direction when the characters are plainly telling me to go the opposite way.
So tell me, how have your projects been going? The new draft is approximately 11,000 words, which I’m proud of. I gotta say, NaNoWriMo really loosened those fears that I have to write pretty the first time around.
* dross (n): worthless material that should be removed.
If you’re trying to make it big as a self-publisher, investing in your marketing is key. Don’t just slap a picture as your cover or use some template, hire a design team! Not only will they give you a great cover, they’ll also give you ideas about bookmarks and business cards (which you can leave in library books similar to your own book), posters, postcards, etc. Look at the following companies for a headstart to a great marketing plan.
Dunn+Associates Design: book cover design, speaker material. From start to finish, we design so that you SELL. You not only get a dynamic cover look, you walk away with a powerful set of marketing tools. It’s the way we design your cover and your self-publishing brand that gets readers, reviewers, distributors, bookstores, and more, to all say YES! You hit the streets running with proven tools for promoting your book straight to the top.
Hey, John Edwards went through them, why not you?
Book Cover Express: book cover designer, book cover artists. Book Cover Express offers a full range of services, including free Bookland EAN barcodes. We can create any size book cover and format it to your printer’s specifications. All this, with an author-friendly, work-for-hire contract.
Dan Poynter from ParaPublishing says this company should be “added to your production company,” and I must admit, the covers do look pretty nice.
Think your editor, or all editors, have it good because they get to sit around proofreading the next Great American Novel while drinking tea? I never really thought about it. Most the things I hear about are how difficult it is to be a writer, or an agent, or a publisher. But the editor? Well, I guess I figured they sat around reading already approved manuscripts and that there were enough of them to go around. According to Lucia Macro, that’s very untrue. Read below to find out just how a real editor spends her day:
What I Do When I’m At Work
by Lucia MarcoWhenever I tell people I’m an editor, I almost always get two responses. The first is, “Oh, so you must be a really good proofreader!” The other is, “Wow, I wish I sat around all day and got to read books.”
That’s when I get to tell them that while I do a little bit of proofreading, that I don’t spend my hours reading galleys, red pencil in hand. And one thing I seldom do at work is “sit around” all day reading books—or manuscripts. Their vision of me in a comfy chair, cup of tea in hand, happily reading the next Great Novel is a (lovely) fantasy while tweedy men and earnest women occasionally pop in for “a word” went the way of the two martini lunch…if it ever existed at all.Read More →
Top Ten Writing Tips to Help You Write More
– Angela Booth
Tip One: Pay attention to images
Your right brain thinks in images, and when you write, you translate images from your right brain into words. Usually this process happens so quickly that you’re unaware of it. If you can make this process conscious, you can goose up your own creativity. Stephen King calls this process “writing with the third eye — the eye of imagination and memory.”
Tip Two: Making mud/ laying track
Your first draft of any piece of work is “mud” — raw material. Julia Cameron refers to your first draft as “laying track”, another term I like. If the first draft’s awful, great! It’s meant to be. It’s only raw material. However, if you don’t create the first draft, or you wait until you have a really great idea that’s worth a first draft, you won’t write anything. Write. Make mud.
Tip Three: Just write — think on the page, or on the screen, NOT in your head
Thinking too much while you write is treacherous, because you can spend two hours “writing” and end up with half a page of work. Write-think. That is, think on the page, not in your head.
Tip Four: Grow your writing with lists
Listing is a form of brainstorming. It grows your writing, and it’s fun. Listing is an excellent technique to use when you get stuck in your writing, and it doesn’t matter what kind of writing you’re doing, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Listing also helps you in the revision process, to add texture to your work.
Tip Five: Use your magical thesaurus
Your most useful listing tool is —- a thesaurus. Keep one on your desk to kickstart your brain. Your thesaurus and dictionary are perfect kickstarters. They’re also vital tools whenever you’re revising.
Tip Six: Make writing the FIRST thing you do each day
If you write at least page, by hand, as soon as you get up, you’ll find that writing comes more easily to you for the rest of the day. You’re also more focused and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Tip Seven: Set WIG goals — the best goals are always unrealistic
Writer Martha Beck calls unrealistic goals WIGs: Wildly Improbable Goals. In the September 2002 issue of Oprah magazine she says: “… learning to invite and accept your own WIG can awaken you to a kind of ubiquitous, benevolent magic, a river of enchantment that perpetually flows to your destiny.” A WIG is exciting. Just thinking about a WIG will get your heart pounding. Working toward your WIG (writing a book, writing a screenplay, getting signed on as a contributor at a mass-market magazine) takes hard work. Lots of hard work. And at the end of that hard work, as Beck points out, you achieve your goal, but there’s a twist. You never achieve it exactly as you envisioned it – you achieve something even better, something you could never have imagined. I’m a great believer in writing ABOUT your goals. This is because when you write, you’re using both sides of your brain, and are accessing your unconscious mind as well. You live in your left brain, which you regard as “you”, but you have a silent partner, your right brain, which is also you, and which communicates via images and feelings.
Tip Eight: Separate writing and editing
Writing comes first, then editing. If you try to combine the two, you will block. Writing should come as easily to you as chatting to a friend. If it doesn’t, you’re trying to edit in your head before you get the words on paper, or on the computer screen. If you’re not aware of the danger of combining writing and editing, you’ll make writing hard for yourself, when it should be easy. If you don’t have trouble talking, how can you have trouble writing?
Tip Nine: It’s good to struggle with your writing
In his book The Breakout Principle, Dr Herbert Benson (who also wrote The Relaxation Response) describes a struggle/ release process that leads to a new level of awareness. When you struggle, and then completely give up the struggle — just give up — there’s a chance that you can achieve a peak experience which leads you to a new level of functioning. How does this work in your writing? Let’s say that you’re writing a novel. This work is hard for you. However, you keep at it faithfully, working on your novel each day. You struggle with it for weeks. Then you give up. Although you keep writing, you say to yourself: “I don’t care any more what garbage I write. I’m just going to do it. I’m just going to write.” This release leads to writing magic. Suddenly you’re inspired, and you finish the book in a rush. Although you will still occasionally struggle with your writing (because struggle is a part of life), you’ve broken through to a new level of functioning in your work. This new level would not, and could not, have happened without the struggle.
Tip Ten: Good writing = truthful writing
Writing truthfully can feel like undressing in public, so many beginning writers worry about sharing their writing. Be compassionate. Firstly, to yourself. Write. Write for yourself. All writing takes courage.
Happy New Year everyone! May your muse shine brightly this year.
Now to some business: for those of you who are interested in taking graduate-level courses, check out the following programs. Some of them are only a week long, but cram enough information to cover a year-long publishing internship/entry-level job. I suggest looking these over, especially if you’re thinking of self-publishing and doing it properly and well. Also, it looks great on your resume, and, I think, looks even better than saying you have a graduate degree in Creative Writing. The thing is, a creative writing degree is hard to sell unless you came from a prestigious school or had a well-known writer as your lecturer. Even so, having the degree only means you know the tricks–it says nothing about whether you can apply them or not. With a publishing degree, it shows you take the process of writing a book seriously. Your publishing house/agent/whomever knows that you understand the process and therefore know that even though they’re publishing the book, your marketing skills are absolutely key.
NYU Summer Publishing Institute: Provides lectures, workshops, simulations, site visits, special events, and career planning sessions to those interested in developing a publishing career. Explore key principles and practices in this thorough introduction to publishing, as well as the role of editing, marketing, design, new media, production, budgeting, advertising, circulation, publicity, and much more.
Columbia Publishing Course: Shortest graduate school in the country; would take you a year in an entry-level position in publishing to learn what you will learn in six-weeks here, and ten years to meet all the people you will meet. For almost sixty years, the course has been training young men and women for careers as editors, literary agents, publishers, designers, publicists, and more. Graduates can be found in every kind of job, at major magazines and publishing houses across the nation.
University of Denver Publishing Institute: An intensive, full-time, four-week, graduate-level course that devotes itself to all aspects of book publishing: editing, marketing, and production. During the final week, the Institute provides career counseling sessions to assist students in finding positions in publishing.
Emerson College MA in Publishing and Writing: Offers courses in book, magazine, and electronic publishing; in fiction and nonfiction writing; and in literature and criticism. Internship and apprenticeship opportunities are available, for credit, in Boston publishing and production firms and literary agencies.
Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing: Canada’s premier training ground for professional publishing, Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing (MPub) is a rigorous 16-month program of seminars, guest lectures, technology workshops and an internship.
Publishing Training: Learn publishing skills from the industry’s training provider. Classroom-based open courses cover everything from editorial skills to marketing and publicity. Can also study proofreading, editing, copywriting or picture research by distance learning.