Tag Archives: author tips

Guest Post

Romance Writing 101 – Tips from Tellwell Author Victoria Grant

February.  Valentine’s Day.  Romance.  What images do these words conjure up for you?  If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably imagine a scene with two frosty champagne glasses sitting on a table in front of a roaring fire. Maybe a small silver tray of chocolate covered strawberries beside them. And a couple kissing on the bear skin rug in front of that blazing fire while the snow softly falls outside the panoramic window. (“Oh, Pamela, my darling, what did I ever do without you?”)  Ah, can’t you just feel the love?

image-for-back-coverBrutal snowstorm. Freezing cold. Romance author. What images do these phrases conjure up for you? Yeah, if you’re being honest, you haven’t bothered to give the lowly romance author a second thought, have you? Right now, as you read this, some of them are shivering to death wrapped tightly in a ratty old crocheted afghan, drinking a steaming mug of (insert favourite beverage here), huddled over a laptop, cursing the characters they’ve created because they just won’t cooperate. (Stop talking, get in that cab right now and follow her, you idiot!) Well, that’s me, anyway.

My vision of a romance novel, long before I took the plunge into writing one, was pretty much the scenario with the champagne, chocolates and lovers. And as I adore champagne and chocolates, I thought writing one would be such fun!  And what could be easier? All I had to do was create main characters who are forced to be together and hate each other on sight (or another well-loved trope that romance readers never seem to tire of), and then put them into unusual or unexpected situations where they have no choice but to work together. (“I will be yours for eternity, Humphrey, just as soon as we scale this jagged cliff and free dearest Aunt Letitia from the impenetrable fortress.”). They realize during their thrilling adventures that they’ve fallen totally in love with each other, the end. Simple, right?

Not quite. Just for a minute, think about all the major elements the romance author must include. The heroine must be flawed and vulnerable yet plucky and gorgeous and worthy of her hero, who is tenacious and virile, but ready to change his ways to have this amazing woman in his arms (“I shall give up my life as a frozen pea inspector to be with you, Edwina.”).  The story should be either adventurous or exotic or bodice-ripping or crazy fun, and include a considerable quantity of red hot, searing kisses that instantly liquify the main characters. (“Oh, Bernard, I’m all aflutter!”) And as the story unfolds, it has to sparkle with sensitivity, sizzle with steamy love scenes, and be witty and playful in all the right spots. And let’s not forget the must-have happily ever after ending (“As we all knew this would happen back on page three, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the union of Beauregard and Tamsin…”), or at the very least, a happy-for-now ending (“I love you, Gretchen, so I’ll overlook the fact that you just asked me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.”).

As I wrote my first romance novel, I realized there was a whole heck of a lot more to it than just dropping the two main characters into a situation and hoping they’ll do all the work. (“Um, how do we get out of this hot air balloon, Mortimer?”) I discovered that while I have to include some level of action and/or adventure in my novels, to make them work my main focus must be on the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. This makes it easy for the readers to dive into the book and become that character. Even if the reader has been happily married for a decade or three, I want them to experience the excitement of that first look (“Dexter, who is that stunning, misty-eyed, raven-haired temptress with the heaving bosom staring at me from across this crowded room?”), the goose bumps from their first meeting, and all the blistering and passionate sensations from their first kiss. (“I’ll never wash these lips again.”)

And those five senses we take for granted are paramount when writing a romance novel. The touches, tastes, sounds, sights and scents (“What was that rumble?” Desmond asked, frowning. Yvette turned a sickly shade of chartreuse. “Forgive me, I had beans for lunch.”) – yes, all of them, granted some more than others, play a huge role in falling in love. Without them, a romance novel is just a travel brochure or a ladies shoe catalogue. The first love scene I ever wrote read like a WWE wrestling match. So not good! Why? Because I was focused more on body parts than on the main character’s feelings and sensations. (“That is your arm, isn’t it, Prudence?” “I thought it was your foot, Monty.”)  Yikes!

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Author of the Month Guest Post

“The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable” – Kimberley Parkinson shares her publishing journey

Like many Tellwell authors, Kimberley Parkinson took a huge step outside of her comfort zone when she decided to publish her first book. When her children’s book What Can You Do? was publishedParkinson realized it was time to get the word out about her book, and that she was going to be the driving force behind that. While marketing seemed daunting initially, her efforts were greeted with success and gratification. Now, she shares some of her early marketing experiences to encourage other authors to push themselves when they take the leap, and publish their writing.

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Kimberley Parkinson’s take on book marketing:

A smile appears upon your face. There it is, nestled proudly within your hands, the first copy of your published book. You take a moment to reflect on all the hours spent from the initial thought to the finished product. You have worked so hard and deserve to relish in satisfaction.

Then the next part of your journey beckons…marketing! A mix of excitement and nervousness takes over. What is the best route to take first? Who should I contact, what should I do, where should I go? This is when you take the time to address your strengths and weaknesses. I know with myself, I would rather sit back quietly and let the book sell itself as I am quite shy with this sort of thing. I am not a fan of social media outlets and the thought of trying to sell my book in person to stores or reading my book in front of others at events made me want to throw up! My comfort zone was very comfy, and it didn’t like to feel threatened. However, I knew that for my own growth I had to push myself beyond those comfortable limitations.

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I appreciated the knowledgeable advice and strategic outline that was given to me through Tellwell and needed to implement some of their suggestions. I had to at least try because I have always believed that there is no failure if I try. I wasn’t ready to do the social media thing yet, so I decided to go the good old-fashioned way. I travelled to locations that were within a reasonable distance and made sure to have copies of my book with me, along with props such as bookmarks, posters, etc. It was also important to have all my contact and book details ready as you don’t want to be fumbling around when asked.

Do your homework. Find out who the manager is, contact them directly, and most importantly, mind your manners. Be polite, be gracious for any opportunities that present themselves and be respectful to the ones that don’t. Unknown self-published authors tend to make some store owners apprehensive to take a chance on you and that is okay. Thank them for their time and walk out with your head held high. There will inevitably be some doors that close but if you believe in your book and most importantly yourself, you will start to see doors open. Patience and persistence is key.

Get your feet wet with smaller events at first if needed. I started with an intimate book signing/reading at my local library. It was a comfortable setting that helped me get over my nervousness. Have friends and family there for support. I felt much more at ease with their smiling faces around me.  Advertise your book in local papers, make calls, get your name out there. After you have experienced one event, the next ones won’t seem so daunting. This is all still very new to me too, and I am learning as I go.

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Tips & Tricks

To Blog or Not to Blog

Once you’ve created an author website, you may be wondering what content to include and how to use it to gain more online traction. One of the best ways to do this is by starting your very own blog! A blog is a web page that is regularly updated with informally written articles, usually centered around a broad theme. Tellwell’s blog for example covers the publishing industry, with specific focus on self-publishing. Many blogs are in first-person and seem conversational.

You may be wondering how a blog will help to increase your book sales. Blogs are known to be one of the best tools to increase reader engagement and give readers a continuous reason to come revisit your site. Your blog is a preview of your writing style, so if readers enjoy the content you post online, they’re more likely to invest in your book. As with most online tools, blogs do have their own set of pros and cons. Keep reading to find out if blogging is a good option for you!

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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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Tips & Tricks

Editing Process: Traditional vs. Assisted Self-Publishing

Completing the writing process of your book is a huge and exciting feat! Now you can carry on to the editing stage, which is extremely important as you will receive valuable insight from an unbiased professional. Some writers may feel like they want to opt out of editing; however, we highly recommend that everyone invest in the editing process. This process is crucial, as it can turn a good book into a GREAT book! Having someone else’s eyes on your writing allows you to receive feedback that you may have overlooked.

As a self-published author, when considering editing services it is important to understand the differences in the process between traditional and assisted self-publishing.

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Tips & Tricks

How to use Christmas to bring your book sales back to life!

It’s that time of year again where Christmas decorations are going up and people are getting in the holiday spirit. Malls are packed as people are shopping for their loved ones. As an author, you may think that this will be a profitable time for book sales, however, it can be challenging.

There are so many promotions on various items and books that are being marketed, therefore, your book may go unnoticed in the storm. Although difficult, there is the potential to make the most of the Christmas season and be extremely successful. You could even bring your book sales back to life! You may find the perfect holiday niche market, network, and/or promoting outlet that becomes a great source to boost your book. You know that it would make an amazing gift, so why not persuade others of that too!

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Use these tips to crush your Christmas sales:

  • Use your network to push your book sales. Your friends and family are your biggest supporting base, therefore, why not get them to help you? If your friends have events that they are going to ask if you can attend to promote your book. If silent auctions are going on, ask to place your book in it. Of course, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or be that person that “only talks about their book.”
  • Offer holiday promotions to increase sales traction. Take a look at these tips to see how to effectively launch an online book giveaway. Consider investing in some online advertising as well, to increase your book’s visibility as people are shopping for gifts. For more on advertising options, check out these Tellwell tips.
  • Social media is your friend! Use it as much as you can to get your book out there. Find hashtags that gain followers and likes. Once you have found these, keep using them on every post. It also helps to tie your book into the Christmas season, by posting about how it makes a great holiday read, or adding visuals that tie your book into a Christmas setting.
  • Take advantage of events! Christmas is a time where people are constantly socializing and going to events. Try to go to as many events as you can to increase your networking opportunities. You never know who you are going to meet. Consider craft fairs and other community-related opportunities to optimize in-person sales.
  • Start early! Don’t wait until mid-December to promote your book. Start as early as you can. Keep in mind, bookstores finalize their events and inventory as early as September, so while it may seem ridiculous, consider developing an initial plan late summer, and begin liaising with literary contacts early fall. Proper planning will help you execute great promotion and marketing tactics.
  • Be easy on yourself! If you don’t reach your goals for Christmas sales, just remember that it is a really tough time and competition is high. Everything will settle down in the New Year and you will be able to get back to longer term marketing strategies.

Christmas is a wonderful season to reconnect with old friends and family, therefore, you may find the holiday season to be a better time to revise your plans, focus on writing, and get ready to pursue more marketing tactics in January. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your holidays and take some time to revitalize and cultivate new relationships that can carry forward into the new year.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Tellwell!

 

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Guest Post

Getting your novel on Amazon is just the beginning by Philip Wilson

Guest post – by Tellwell author Philip Wilson

I had The Librarian on my hard drive for many years, and never got around to doing anything with it. Although I learned you can self-publish directly on Amazon, it seemed to require a fair amount of effort – special formatting, cover design, etc., that I wasn’t inclined to do. Then I discovered Tellwell. Their website said they’d handle all of the detail required to make The Librarian available on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes & Noble – both in hardcopy and e-book version for a set fee – and I’d keep 100% of the royalties. (I didn’t expect the royalties to amount to much – but I liked the gesture.)

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The fact that Tellwell was a small start-up company based in Victoria, BC, caused me some concern, but I decided to give them a shot; and they’ve been absolutely fantastic. The Librarian is now available on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes & Noble. Not only did Tellwell make the process easy, they actually made it fun. They’ve got great people and really took an interest. Like all first time self-publishing authors I’m sure, I had a lot of questions, but they patiently walked me through the process.

When I started out, I assumed that once the novel was available on Amazon, I was finished. With the millions of people on the site everyday, I assumed at least a small percentage would see it, like the plot and decide to spend at least a buck for the e-version. All wrong. Initial sales were negligible. I’ve now learned that if you really want people to buy your book, getting it on Amazon is just the first step. You have to market it, which means getting reviews, doing giveaways, getting into bookstores and so on. I’ve now been working with Tellwell on marketing for eight months since my novel was first on Amazon. Sales figures are starting to show some growth, but more importantly the entire process has been fun, educational and rewarding.

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I don’t look at marketing as an investment for a single book but rather an investment in writing. Writing is completely different than the career I had (finance and math) but I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’d like to sell more books, but as long as I’m enjoying it – both the writing itself and the marketing process – I intend to keep at it.  I’ve now written a second novel, Songs for Lucy, and I believe that the more sales momentum and recognition I can win for The Librarian, the easier it will be to launch Songs for Lucy.

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Tellwell News

IngramSpark Welcomes Landscape Print Option!

We are very excited to announce that our print-on-demand partner IngramSpark has just introduced their first ever Landscape print option! This is very exciting for us as it opens up a new option for books like photo books, children’s books, and the like. The newly introduced print option is 11×8.5. It is available in premium colour, and comes in both paperback (Perfect Bound) and hardcover (Case Laminate) options.

Ingram Spark is one of the world’s largest print and distribution networks with Print-On-Demand (POD) printers located in 4 countries around the world and distribution to over 39,000 retailers. For more information, visit their website: http://www.ingramspark.com.

 

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Guest Post Meet the Team

Guest Post: Publishing Consultant Mitchel Anderson celebrates two years at Tellwell

img-20171024-wa0006What brought me to Tellwell at first was my determination to have a career in books and literature. As soon as I could reliably make my way through a novel at a young age, I would be asking for a new book every week until I had amassed what is a small library. The value of a good book was never lost on me which can be heard in stories my family would tell about how particular I was about the condition of my books. This carried me through my English Literature degree from York University in Toronto where I had the pleasure of arguing about the meaning of books with people much smarter than myself.

What drew me to Tellwell specifically was the different perspective we take to publishing in general. While authors I have known would lament about the difficulties of finding a publisher I would always ask why they didn’t self-publish, but the logistics never seemed to make sense for them. When I first arrived here at Tellwell and spoke to our founder Tim Lindsay, I realized the rare opportunity we had to put the freedom and control back in an author’s hands and help contribute to the global body of literature.

Coming in at the ground floor I had rare opportunities to be heard in the development of our company and I have always made it my responsibility to listen to the feedback we receive from our authors about their experiences here and elsewhere and use that to help shape our direction going forward. My favourite parts of my job are listening to our authors discuss their projects and being able to step in with my expertise to show them that what was previously an intimidating venture is actually very approachable as long as you have clear information and the right team.

At the end of the day, I firmly believe that creator-owned fiction and nonfiction is the only way to guarantee a diverse and lively discussion in literature. If every author listened to rejection and never took a chance on their vision, we would never have seen the likes of Dr. Seuss nor would we have the influential The Joy of Cooking, which was originally self-published during the Depression and used as a proof of concept for further consideration with traditional publishers. This is a route many of our authors take here at Tellwell and we do everything in our power to make sure they are situated in the best possible way to do so.

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Tips & Tricks

10 Steps to Write an Effective Author Bio

Writing your biography can be an intimidating task. Sometimes, it may seem even more daunting than writing your book! However, it is a crucial part of your book that can engage readers and increase sales. This being said, many author bios are too long as they provide extensive and unimportant information which loses the reader’s interest. Use these 10 quick tips to help write your author bio or edit your current one.

  1.  Write in third person. To avoid constantly using pronouns, use your name interchangeably.
  2.  Only include pertinent information that the reader will actually find interesting. It may seem easy to write about all your achievements and experiences however, others may find this dull.
  3.  Include relevant credentials such as previous published pieces, degrees, and awards.
  4.  Keep the writing as concise as possible. Remember, less is more!
  5.  Try to have multiple versions of biographies that are different lengths and geared towards different platforms. For example, an author bio you might send to a bookstore to arrange an event might be longer and more detailed than the author bio found on the back cover of your book.
  6.  Update your bio frequently, especially when you have newly published books and/or awards.
  7.  Try to write for a target audience. Remember, this is a marketing component that will contribute to target readers deciding whether or not to buy your book. Keep them in mind, and think about what they would want to know about you.
  8.  Read your bio out loud. This will help gauge if there is flow and if the information is succinct.
  9.   Have a professional headshot taken to include with your bio. For more tips on the author headshot, check out these tips.
  10.  Have someone else look over your final bio. Feedback will go a long way to create your ideal piece!

Have fun writing your bio! Writing in third person might feel strange at the beginning, and it may feel like bragging, but that’s okay! Someone is reading it because they are interested in your writing, so give them something worth reading!

 

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