Author Archives: Hillary Nguyen-Don

Tips & Tricks

The Art of the ARC – How advanced reader copies can add buzz, publicity and reviews to your book before the official release

There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly cracked book spine – unless of course, that book is an advance reader copy (ARC). ARC’s are copies of a book that are given to certain people who are permitted to read it before its scheduled release date.  They are typically given to bloggers, critics, and other online influencers to review and promote the work to a wider audience.  For authors, sending out an ARC is a great way to gain buzz and publicity before the big release.  Although this may open the door to potential negative criticism, this also gives authors the chance to make last-minute changes before releasing their book to the world. So how do you create an ARC for reviewers?

 

Making an ARC

An ARC does not need to be fancy, however, there are additional elements that need to be considered:

  • Disclaimer – A complete cover is not necessary, but there should be a disclaimer stating that this copy of the book is an advance reader copy that is not for resale.
  • Quick facts – Include a list that has information like: number of pages, price, release date, ISBN etc.
  • Formatting – While this may not be your final copy of your book, you should still make sure it appears clean and professional. Reviewers may have several ARCs to review, and an aesthetically appealing file could boost your chances of getting read first.

When it comes to distribution, you can choose an electronic copy, such as a PDF, or a print copy. Digital distribution is inexpensive and easy to deliver, however, this also makes it easier to leak. Print is the traditional route, but it does take more effort and time to produce.

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Author of the Month

Winston Schroeder combines Santa and social issues in his satirical graphic novel, Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village

Know someone who is a fan of Christmas and politics? Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village is a graphic novel where the two subjects merge into one hilariously dark story. The novel was written by Tellwell author Winston Schroeder and illustrated by Logan Miller.

The 31-year-old writer grew up in Saskatchewan but has been living in Vancouver for the past 10 years. In 2015, he graduated from the Langara College Film Arts program where he studied screenwriting. While working odd jobs on the West Coast, Schroeder says he has dedicated some of his time attending L.A. pitch fests trying to pitch his screenplays. Although there was some interest in his work, it would ultimately fizzle out. Instead of waiting for others to collaborate with his content, Schroeder teamed up with one of his childhood friends and started their first project together.

“I’ve known [Miller] since the first grade. He’s always been a great artist and he pursued his passion and I kind of pursued my writing,” says Schroeder. “We lost touch for several years honestly but we always knew each other. And then we came back years later and decided to work on a project together.”

elfwars

Although the political undertone of the graphic novel may reference the current political environment in the United States, Schroeder says he began the writing process during the Obama era but later revised his work to parody current events. “I was pretty influenced by the American political climate and how publicly tumultuous it is,” he says. “Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer from the 1960s. It’s one of my favourite holiday stories and I thought that if I could fuse real world politics with a fantasy world, that would be fun and interesting.”

elfwarsspread

With the first one published just in time for Christmas, Schroeder says he has already completed the sequel. Although it is not a continuation of the first graphic novel, it continues to highlight American issues using the same characters and festive holiday setting. In addition, readers will be exposed to a new villain and a new obstacle. “I kind of like to do parodies of social issues in America,” he says. “This one deals with a lot of police brutality in America and terrorism but done in a satirical, comedic way. It’s underlining social issues but done in a ridiculous way with Christmas elves and snowmen.” The second installment is titled Elf Wars 2: White Powder, and the author hopes to have it available for comic book lovers by Christmas 2018.

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Tips & Tricks

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

1. Write every day

A study conducted by University College London claims that there is no definitive amount of days required for a habit to stick; it varies depending on the activity. However, most habits will become a part of your daily routine after several weeks. Once you have your flow going, it is easy to produce dozens of pages in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, the hardest part is getting started. Depending on your writing objective, your quota can be something like a blog post, diary entry, or a page towards your novel. What you write does not have to be Shakespearean quality. In fact, this resolution focuses more on the process of writing by encouraging you to incorporate this activity into your everyday routine. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this goal:

  • Schedule in time – Commit time in your agenda that is strictly dedicated to freewriting
  • Start small – Spend 10 minutes per day on writing for the first week but gradually add more time as this becomes a regular activity
  • Create projects – It might be difficult to write something if there is no purpose for the work. Write for a reason. Submit your pieces to a writing contest, start a blog, or send reviews to a media publication.

 

2. Read every day

Reading is just as important as writing when you are trying to perfect your craft. Similar to the tips mentioned in resolution one (see above), you are going to need to dedicate a bit of time out of your day to reading. Most people will choose to read for 15 minutes before hitting the hay to calm themselves before bed. Reading on a regular basis can help make you a better writer, since it will expose you to new words, writing styles, and perspectives. Additionally, reading makes you more intelligent, empathetic, and relaxed.

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Author of the Month

Sally Walls shares her ‘nightfall to daybreak’ in emotionally raw book on losing her son

sally-birthday_1-copyPrior to becoming a published author, Walls admits that she was always in love with writing. “I’ve grown up always being a writer of some sort,” she says. “I like people. And therefore, when you put the two together I like storytelling because they kind of go together. I like to write about people, what I hear, and what I see.”

Although Walls had written two manuscripts about the tragic event, she never felt that it was the right time to publish her work. About five years ago, Walls attended a writer’s conference in New Mexico and had her work critiqued.

“I met some American publishing groups and they were all sort of giving me the green light, ‘Go ahead. This is good,’” she explains. “And yet I came back and really felt I had to sit on it. I really felt like it was not my time to tell the story yet.” With 2017 marking the 10-year anniversary of her son’s death, the author admits she “found her voice” and felt that it was ultimately time to share her experience.

After her other son left for Berlin following New Year’s Day, Walls immersed herself in writing this book. From January to May, the difficult writing process forced her to recall the heartbreaking memories.

“I didn’t think it was possible to have so many tears,” she says. “After ten years of letting go of my son, I was actually amazed at how much emotion it evoked. There would be some days that I would be going deep into my memories to craft a story because I had written the book in a series of snapshot stories to tell his life. There were days where I would really have to lay my head on my desk and just sob until I let go of some of that pain that had found me.”

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Tips & Tricks

How to run an online book giveaway

How do you get people to buy your book? You give it to them for free. Hosting an online giveaway is one tactic that will provide a bit of extra publicity for your book. Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon have functions on their sites that give writers the opportunity to organize their very own book giveaways. The question is: which platform is best for you?

Facebook

Fortunately, running a Facebook giveaway is as easy as writing a Facebook status! However, once your contest is up and running that doesn’t necessarily mean people will be willing to participate. These steps will help ensure that your giveaway runs as smoothly as possible.

1) Determine how you want participants to enter your contest

On Facebook, there are several different ways participants can enter an online giveaway. You can ask users to tag a friend, like a post, like your Facebook page, share a post, or fill out an online form. It is best to choose a method that helps promote your page while also being easy to enter. Contests that require too much work from participants may discourage users from participating.

2) Create the online book giveaway post

Review Facebook’s rules for online contests before you create your giveaway post. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, create your post! Be sure to include some sort of attention-grabbing photo that also contains relevant information regarding the contest. It is also a good idea to pin the post to the top of your page during the duration of the giveaway. This will ensure that all visitors will see it.

3) Promote, promote, promote!

To help the contest gain traction, share it across social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and your own personal website. Having contestants tag their friends in the post will allow the post to appear in more newsfeeds. You can also use a custom hashtag to encourage online engagement for your book.

4) Choose a winner

Once the giveaway comes to an end, it is time to choose a winner. The Good Luck Fairy tool is possibly one of the most efficient way to choose a random winner for Facebook competitions. In fact, the tool can give you several winners based on different criteria such as identifying winners who liked, commented, and/or shared a post.

5) Follow up

Reach out to the winner immediately. Tag the lucky reader in a congratulatory post so that others are aware that the giveaway has come to an end. Then, communicate with the winner privately and ship them their prize. There have been times where people have left negative reviews on products and company pages because shipping took way too long. To prevent this from happening to you, ship the book in a timely manner and provide the winner with a tentative arrival date.

 

Before you get started on your Facebook contest, don’t forget to read through Facebook’s guidelines regarding contests.

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