What’s a platform anyway?

A few weeks ago I was a panel member at a writer’s conference workshop. The subject was building a platform. Today, I’d like to share a few points that we made at the workshop. But first, here’s my go-to person for all things writer-ly, Jane Friedman, who tells us what platforms are and are not: "What editors and agents typically mean by platform They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience. Let’s break this down further. Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves? Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.) Prov … [Read more...]

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The importance of book reviews

I'm a firm believer that book reviews are important to authors and readers alike. Since writing and publishing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, I'm forever asking my readers to please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Here's the link to the post I wrote about reviews last January. Sydney Avey, my guest today, writes why she thinks book reviews are important, and generously gives a few pointers to those of you who have never written a review before. Sydney is the author of the just released literary fiction book, The Lyre and the Lambs. I thank her so much for stopping by Choices on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour. The Importance of Book Reviews By Sydney Avey The Third Tuesday at Three Book Club in Angels Camp, California invited me to attend their September discussion of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. We traded thoughts on the reader and the author experience, and I shared my feeling that a book is a collaborative effort between writer and reader. Boo … [Read more...]

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Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? by Kristen Lamb

Reviews have been on my mind again lately - especially bad ones, especially those written by people who don't appear to have read the book. I took special notice of Pamela Paul's words in an interview in this month's Poets and Writers, which I think all reviewers should take to heart, Paul is the new editor of the New York Times Book Review section. “Nearly every writer writes a book with a great amount of attention and intention and hopes and dreams. And it's important to take that effort seriously and to recognize that a book may have taken ten years of a writer's life, that the writer has put heart and soul into it. And it behooves us, as book-review-editors, to treat those books with the care and attention they deserve, and to give the writer that respect." Then I found this wonderful post on Kristen Lamb's Blog on the same subject. I personally will not write a bad review because I know from my own experience that they hurt. Please let me know what your think. Here is K … [Read more...]

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Late breaking book news

It’s time to bring you up to date with book news. It seems like things are moving so fast, I barely have time to do my novel and article writing. But it’s all good. Books for Sale As of yesterday the Kindle version of Leaving the Hall Light On is for sale. The paperback has been available for the last month or so. And in case you still like hardback books as I do, I have them for sale at my Amazon storefront at a reduced price of $21.50. Marketing Events Book giveaway at Goodreads. Hurry over there. It ends on August 28. Google + Hangouts with Jason Matthews: Indie Authors #21 on Memoir Writing and Indie Authors # 24 on Writing as Therapy. I’ll participate in another hangout next Monday, August 27. A September 13 roundtable with Linda Joy Myers of the National Association of Memoir Writers and Mike O’Mary of Dream of Things to talk about how I was able to contract with Dream of Things after my former publisher went out of business. Readings at the Essay Fiesta and W … [Read more...]

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Goodreads giveaway and launch press release

My publisher, Dream of Things, has officially launched the paperback edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, with a Goodsreads giveaway. Please enter to win one of five copies and tell your friends. The giveaway opportunity ends on August 28, 2012. Mike O'Mary, owner and publisher says: This week is the official launch of the trade paperback edition of Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples. Previously available only in hardcover, this is a powerful book that aligns perfectly with the Dream of Things goal to bring you "distinctive voices, meaningful books." Read on for more details -- and get 20% off the cover price of Leaving the Hall Light On at the Dream of Things website <http://dreamofthings.com/ hall-light>when you use coupon code "Light" at checkout. Also, if you are a member of Goodreads.com, be sure to enter the Goodreads Book Giveaway to be eligible to win a free copy of Leaving the Hall Light On. Goodreads <ht … [Read more...]

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Another book launch – oh my!

I now have a paperback edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, in my hands. It just arrived. Getting it to this point has taken just short of three months, but well worth the time and effort. The edition looks great. I decided to keep the same cover design because it has been my brand for the last year. I felt changing it could be confusing to my followers and even to me. Plus I love the front cover photo, taken by my young girl friend, Madison Poulter, whom I’ve known since she was eighteen months old. Can’t believe she’s off to Lewis and Clark College in the fall. So both my publisher, Mike O’Mary at Dream of Things and I have been doing a lot of planning to get ready for the launch. Mike made an excel spreadsheet with activities to accomplish between now and January. Here are some of the things we’re doing right now: I’ve communicated with friends and family about the launch and asked them to write a review and post it on Amazon if they’ve already read the … [Read more...]

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Enter to win the new anthology – Poetry Pact 2011

I’m so pleased to be a part of a Facebook poetry group called Poetry Pact. Started 18 months ago by my author colleague Jessica Bell, her goal was for us to write and post a poem a day for a year. When I joined the group I did not commit to either a poem a day or even a poem a week, but I did post over 30 poems onto the site in 2011. And I’m proud to say, several of them were chosen for our first (I hope annual) anthology, Poetry Pact 2011, Volume 1, edited by two of our group poets: Angela Felsted and Richard Merrill. (Angela became our Poetry Pact leader in 2012.) I can’t tell you enough what a supportive group this is. The membership is small – we keep it a secret – so that we can all get a chance to Like, comment, and critique each other’s work. I have received so many good suggestions on how to improve my poems from this group. The critiques are always given with complete professionalism and care, never making me feel put down or discouraged as a result. It is wonderful to b … [Read more...]

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The Independent Author Network

I recently joined The Independent Authors Network and I think it is paying off already in turns of book sales and reach. I recommend it to my author friends out there who have stagnating sales rankings, and who don’t get a lot of marketing coverage. Now I think tweeting about my IAN involvement is a necessary part of my marketing work. Here are few bits of information about the network. But I suggest you click here to find out more and to determine whether it’s something you’d like to do. And if you decide to join, click here. In the words of The Independent Author Network: Q. What is The Independent Author Network? A. The Independent Author Network is a group of like minded authors who are self published or published by a small indie press. The group is open to authors who are active social networkers at sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. The group works together to support and promote each other online. Q. How does I.A.N. work? A. Members are asked to T … [Read more...]

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Social network and novel work updates

Social Network Update I’ve now joined BranchOut and Pinterest – as if I needed more social network connections than I already have, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads. I really don’t know what BranchOut is all about and Pinterest is even more of a riddle. A recent pin on my Pinterest for the home board According to their websites: BranchOut makes it easy to search for jobs and see inside connections in your network. Our quick tour will help you discover BranchOut's powerful features. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. I haven’t really worked with BranchOut yet because I haven’t been actively looking for a job – but of course one never knows. … [Read more...]

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Blatant bragging

This book is getting lots of kudos As of today my memoir has twenty-two reviews up on Amazon. Twenty are five-star, and even though they wrote terrific reviews, two people gave the book only four-stars. Really what’s up with that? But rather than complaining I’m just going to shout out Hip, Hip Hooray. I am just so thrilled with the response and with people’s reaction to the story and the writing in my book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think people would react so well to my words. A friend told me last night that she was just going to read my book to support me, and she found once she opened it she couldn’t put it down. She kept raving about it. Now I couldn’t ask for more than that. Plus, when I asked her to post a review, she posted almost immediately. That’s a true friend. I thank her so much. So, if you’re reading this and you’ve read my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, please post a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or … [Read more...]

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String Bridge by Jessica Bell – a sneak peek

Tomorrow I'll be interviewing Jessica Bell about her debut novel, String Bridge, and I'll post my review of it. But I wanted to give you a sneak peek today because I am so in awe of this author. Not only is she a marvelous writer and poet - I also reviewed her poetry book, Twisted Velvet Chain, a few months ago, but so astute at marketing. Her goal was to be number one on Amazon on November 11, and she got pretty darn close. She asked all her friends and writing colleagues to post information about String Bridge on their blogs that day and also got them to post a link to Amazon from their Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook accounts, inundating everyone - in my mind a totally brilliant move. She also created a twenty-day blog tour that started on November 1, the day Lucky Press (my publisher too) released her book. Many, many people were very happy to participate - including me. You can bet that I've learned a huge lesson from Jessica. I already knew it takes a lot of work to … [Read more...]

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Pirates and book sales – any connection?

October started out with a bang and a trip via the Catalina Express to Two Harbors for Lisa Smyth’s pirate birthday party. This was Buccaneer Days on the island and everyone came in costume. Lisa won the prize with seven costume changes. Bob and I bought pirate hats and he got a swashbuckler’s black velvet coat with brass buttons, while I mostly commandeered stuff hanging in my closet to bring for the festivities. Needless to say many people we met enjoyed themselves with their brains thoroughly adjusted by pirate’s rum. I stuck with my usual red wine. The Birthday Wench  As you can see the Two Harbors (formerly called Isthmus) village of Catalina is almost barren – one hotel, one restaurant and bar, lots of camp grounds, boating and other water activities, about 300 locals, and lots of buffalos left over from an old Tom Mix movie. It was absolutely beautiful this past weekend. Gorgeous Harbor   And now that that not-to-be-missed experience is over it’s back to work and … [Read more...]

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My writer’s life – lots of action these days

Here’s a little run-down of what’s been happening in my life as a writer in the last few weeks. My second piece for Naturally Savvy went live this week, http://www.naturallysavvy.com/inspiration-and-motivation/fitness-over-60-and-counting, an interview about a woman I’ve known for lots of years, Becky Neumann. I wanted to profile her because as an over sixty personal trainer and fitness instructor, she’s so fit and so inspiring to people over sixty and way beyond. Becky - Sixty-three and Counting I was asked and so I wrote another column for Huffington Post’s subvertical, Aging Gracefully, but I haven’t heard back yet from my contact there. My last piece for Huffington Post was for the That’s Fit subvertical – that turned out to be quite well received. So even though I’m a little nervous about not hearing I’ll be positive based on the response I got about the That’s Fit piece I did for them. I’d very much like to keep up my relationship with Huff Post. And as a result of my W … [Read more...]

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