Monday, June 28, 2010


Writing on a cruise can be expensive. Not the writing part, but the Internet connection. I needed to turn in an article this morning. It costs either $.75 a minute pay-as-you-go or $55 for 110 minutes plus a $3.95 first time connection fee. The wireless connection allows me to check my emails throughout the trip, write offline then log on and send whatever I need. Or, it allows my husband to check his hundreds of emails – mostly junk!

We’ve been on probably twelve cruises since my husband retired in 1996 and one before that time. We ran into Hurricane Gordon on that first cruise. Thank goodness I’d been forewarned to take Dramamine three days before we left. I didn’t feel great in those 48 foot swells but never got sick. Another time we hit the tail end of a typhoon on our way to Japan. Again, I didn’t get sick. However, on this trip to Alaska, I failed to follow the directions and am not feeling great. Once the Dramamine kicks in, I should be fine.

One thing about cruising – on a day at sea like today, I have no place to go and no distractions to keep me from writing. Actually, our 525 group of Dixieland Jazz enthusiasts follow three bands around the ship’s venues for most of the day and night. That means writing time is short or I miss music. Sometimes, a little music goes a long way and I need a break. There are other activities, but I choose to use the time writing.

Excursions offer plenty of fodder. Having taken this cruise before, I won’t need to repeat those excursions. I can write about what I saw on the last trip.

So, rather than spend writing time in a cabin, hotel or other get-away place, I’m looking out the window at sun shining on the ocean as we cruise to Glacier Bay, Alaska. I have two days at sea and plenty of writing time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

away from a computer

Since I haven't much access to a computer right now, I'll post on Monday. Sorry to have missed on Thursday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Publisher requests

I received two emails - one from the Pelican School Sales Manager and one from my editor.

First, they asked when and where I'd like to have my first book signing. Being that it is really early and I'm not even sure when the book will be out, it is hard to think about a first book signing. However, the Loveland Museum/Gallery, where I volunteer as a docent, suggested, when I told them about the sale, that they would definitely have a book signing. Friday I asked if that were still true. We are now planning a Saturday date in May before school is out. Not only will I sign books, but, I'll begin with a presentation on Charles M. Russell, the book's subject. A follow-up on the book signing will appear here closer to the launch date.

Where would you want a first signing? Why?

The other email stated two additional requirements. I must provide an Introduction page on how teachers can use the book and a timeline for the last page. The timeline was easy since one of my resource books has a rather short biography of the artist. I chose happenings that would appeal to children.

The Introduction can include the ways I've interacted with children for looking at art in museum settings and suggestions for incorporating the art into other curriculum areas. I just have to figure out how to make the page short! Introductions are not always required by publishers. Ask early.

I am still trying to get my website filled out and ready to go - another suggestion by publishers. I'm working on the bio. A friend sent an article from Lori Russell's blog which offers ideas for opening leads of a profile, very similar to a bio. Check it out at  Scroll down to the fourth post. In fact, you might want to read a few of her other posts on writing. They are old but pertinent.

I'm hoping to get the bio posted before I leave on a trip this coming Wednesday. Think about your bio. Besides a long version, consider including medium and short ones. If your book is non-fiction, think about an introduction. If a biography related subject, consider making a timeline.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writer's Market

I have a friend who reads the Writer's Market as if it were a novel. Before going to sleep, she picks up the book. I wish I were so dedicated. After receiving this week yet another rejection of a picture book I've submitted several places, I'm in the market for a new publisher.

The Institute of Children's Writers puts out a children's book market along with a magazine market. I prefer to read these as they are smaller. They also publish a Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers which includes adult markets. All are great guides. You can find them on their website at At one time, only previous students could purchase their materials but they've opened the bookstore to all writers.

The Institute also offers correspondence classes for writers. In fact, that was my first class on writing. The instructor encouraged and gently gave critiques - pages of notes. The course costs a bit but is well worth it.

If you Google "publishers" - magazine or book -  you will find so many websites to peruse that you'll hardly have time to write.

Last night at my writer's critique meeting we discussed writing for free. Many non-paying markets are listed in the books I've mentioned. I discussed this before. It is a good way to earn clips if you are a beginning writer. However, it is also a way to "tithe" your writing. In other words, just like you donate to organizations or churches from your income, you can donate to magazines. There comes a time in your career when you need to gain enough confidence to submit to paying markets. But giving away your writing is a "feel good" tithe once your career is established.

Every time I submit to the Lyons Recorder, a small town newspaper, I "feel good." I think I'm helping them build subscribers the paper lost before it was saved and purchased by a friend. I also donated a piece to the Fort Collins newspaper because I felt their paper should concentrate on locals rather than stories about people in other cities doing the same things Fort Collins residents do. Granted, my objective was a little suspect but, judging from comments I received from friends, it fulfilled my goal.

Be sure to check the non-paying markets rights request. Unless the story/article is something you feel only fits their publication and can't be sold anywhere else, don't give up all rights.

The moral of this post is for you to get busy marketing/submitting your articles, finding reputable markets and earning an income. There are many other writer's markets out there. Perhaps you have a favorite you'll share.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Web presence is a must

My friend Debbie Dadey, author of 140 children's books including the Bailey School Series and many others, sent me two websites she thought fit my blog. The first backs up my previous blogs Welcome Author - 6/7 and First Contract Tip - 5/3. Each covers how important a web presence is for an author.

The link above takes the information even farther. It lists free website building software, templates and the same kind of information for starting a blog. She includes if you want to hire a professional to do the work. Then explains what every author's website should have and why.
1. A biography repeated on several pages such as About Me and media pages as well as the home page.
2. A dedicated contact page so editors can reach you.
3. A photo isn't absolutely necessary but best to have.
4. A press or media page
5. Testimonials
6. Samples/clips
7. Buying 101 - where people can buy your books
8. You might include a personal page or information in your about me section.

I would add a page "For Kids" since my website addresses both children and adults. That way kids can find information relating to them and their interests.

The second link,, is an exerpt from The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing  called A Must-Have Online Marketing Plan.
1. Create a strong writer's website (mandatory) and a blog (optional)
2. Get involved with Social Networking
3. Create a video trailer
4. Do a blog tour
5. Get reviews of your book posted online
6. Podcast
7. Become a commenter

I'm not sure I'll do all of those since I haven't the know-how. Besides, most are already in place for me, just need to include them on my website.

Read the articles and start working or changing your web presence for more sales and exposure. Good luck.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sales Department/Fact Sheet

As a new author with the publishing house, I received more information on sales, promotion, appearances and who handles each. This publishing house has state representatives with whom I'll eventually work in several capacities. They request I keep them abreast of my personal travel schedule and any leads for book signings I might have.

As an author, I can order books at a discount and if I order 250 or more books, the discount increases. Course, I believe I lose royalties on discounted books. Any books sold below costs do not receive royalties. I'm wondering if that means those sold at say SAMS or COSTCO. I'll need to check that out.

Another sales incentive is for the author to make up teacher guides for using the book in the classroom. I could do that and will probably look into their process. This book is an interactive "looking" at art book. I've already worked on classroom presentations that take the looking farther than that in the book. I'll lead teachers in integrating the art into other parts of their curriculum.

The publisher will also set up a sales link for my website so books can be sold from it. I appreciate that idea. It isn't something to do now but to consider after the book comes out, or even just before.

Pelican provided more author information in a Fact Sheet. It helps answer any questions an author might be asked such as where can one buy the book. It also explains about the publishing house - which departments do which jobs. Again it emphasizes how important it is to keep them updated with personal travel plans, interviews, presentations, etc.

All in all, the house has answered most questions I might have. Granted, it is a lot of reading, but as a first time book author, I'm glad to have any and all information they offer.

Monday I'll pass on a couple of articles passed to me which cover web presence and some marketing information.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Welcome Author

The first attachment with the confirmation of a contract I received, welcomed me as an author for the publisher. Not only did it welcome but it listed more things I need to do.

TRAVEL. Am I taking any personal trips which could coordinate with book signings? They request my personal travel itineraries. The publisher won’t pay the expenses for my trip but will schedule events that coincide with my schedule. When the book first comes out, they arrange local events and possibly out-of-town visits. In that case, they pay expenses.

ESTABLISH AN ONLINE PRESENCE. Luckily I started my website shortly before receiving a contract. It isn’t up and running yet but will be soon. I initiated this blog a week before receiving my contract. Good timing for an online presence. They suggest joining social networks to which I already belong, although I’m not actively involved with them yet.

VIDEO OR AUDIO TAPES. Since no TV or radio shows are knocking on my door, I have no tapes to send. A local writer’s organization, Northern Colorado Writers, requested I serve on a panel of first time book authors. Perhaps I’ll commission someone to tape it.

WRITING ARTICLES. I write for several print publications, however, not necessarily about Russell. Guess I have a new goal – publishing articles on Russell and art appreciation. Now that I think about it, I've sold several of the same article on games to play in a museum setting.

REVIEWS. I’m asked to cut or copy any reviews of my book or other Pelican authors and send them to the publisher. And send the URL for any online reviews of which I become aware.

CONTACT. I’m to keep in contact by sending any of my promotion ideas. They request materials be received on time. Once the book launches, they want all materials on hand so promotion follows quickly.

Most of these requests require little work on my part. On Thursday I’ll cover “Welcome from the Sales Department.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

More publisher requests

I received email confirmation this week that my contract with Pelican Publishing has been executed and sent to accounts payable who will issue the first advance check. Now I wait for a certified letter with check. Yea!!

Of course, that means more work for me. I found five attachments on the email - Welcome Pelican Author, Promo Questionnaire Part II, Sales Material, Author Advance Book Order and Pelican Fact Sheet. Also they suggested I go on the website to find instructions for the procedure to send in a newly formatted copy of the manuscript on CD as well as two hard copies.

Although each attachment had something for me to do, I'll start with the Promo Questionnaire Part II. I received the first promo materials along with the unsigned contract. Some of what I've discussed in this blog pertains to those. I consider each question carefully to see how I might contribute to sales and promotion.

The General Questions were easy - my name, title of book, occupation, how often I check my email/voicemail and the best method of short-notice contact. The next question brought me up short: What would I like to be known as - the foremost authority on ____? Unfortunately, I'm not the "foremost authority" on anything including Charles Russell, the subject of my book approached from the art appreciation aspect. Granted, I probably know more than the average person about the artist and his works, but I can't claim that title.

Giving interactive art tours is my forte, but, I'm not the foremost authority there either. Since I've taught others to teach in a museum atmosphere, I finally listed "Art Appreciation Tour Trainer." If you have a better suggestion, please let me know.

Other General Questions included: What memorable nickname would I give myself? What qualifies you to talk about the subject?

Next came General Media Questions - Among all the people knowledgeable about the topic, how are you different? What are you willing or qualified to discuss that others are not? Why should people care what you have to say? The rest of the questions in this section really didn't apply to me or my topic. If you want to know what they are, make a comment.

Now we come to Broadcast Media Questions. Of the twelve, one posed the most problem. This could be important since I've already been asked by a large local writer's organization to appear on a panel of first book authors. "What do you think are the five most important or best questions the media could ask you during an interview?" I queried my writer's group with this one. Many of their suggestions apply to me. I divided the list into three focuses - writing, Charles Russell and art appreciation.

On writing - When did you begin writing? How did you learn to write? What other kinds of writing have you done? Why did you start later in life? What does it take to get something published - book or magazine?

On Russell – Why did you write about Charles Russell? Why is Charles Russell’s art important? Where can one find Russell’s works? What did he paint? What did he do besides paint?

On art appreciation – What experiences have you had in teaching art appreciation? Why is art appreciation important? How do you involve students in looking? What do you expect to accomplish with a book on art appreciation? For what ages is the book written? Is the book for children only?

I may reconsider some of the questions before I send in the questionnaire. Start thinking now about how you might help in the sales and promotion of your book.

Now that I have these questions, I better work on the answers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Non-fiction Requirements

OOPS! Where did the week go? The holiday messed up my schedule and I'm a couple of days late and dollars short. But, here goes on another requirement by publishers.

Little did I know when I wrote a non-fiction book that I might be required to pay for the museum permission to use art photographs. I discovered (for this publication) authors not only acquire and pay for permissions to use same, but, they also pay for the print run of said photos. It isn't horribly expensive but still a surprise.

I contacted the Amon Carter Museum about permission. However, being rather organized as I am, I found I jumped the gun. Amon Carter required the print run number and possible publication date. I emailed the editor. That's when she informed me to delay any museum contact until I received the returned, signed contract, even though the contract had a deadline and a request for permissions by that deadline. At least that is how I read it. I’d already received the museum contract but I tabled it until a later date. Signature and pre-payment were required.

In the meantime, Amon Carter explained that three of my painting requests were no longer their possessions. I knew about one after attending a retrospective of Russell's work at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). There was "The Hold Up" a major piece I used in my book. Credits claimed ownership by a local collector. I contacted a DAM docent friend from years past when I served as a DAM docent. She gave me the phone number of the collector because she knew his wife as an active member of the museum.

Imagine my excitement when he agreed to let me use the painting at no charge. He even sent me a print ready photo. In our discussion I named the other two paintings Amon Carter no longer owned. "I know the collector. I'll contact him." Now, a month later, I have print ready photos of all three paintings and permission to use at no charge from the generous collectors. Also permission to use one on the cover. Amon Carter charges an additional fee for cover usage.

I learned a lesson. I doubt there was any way to know my responsibilities in this situation beforehand. Perhaps, if I'd researched a little more, I might have discovered the expense. However, market guides don't include that information, a contract does. Next time I'll know what to expect and so will you!