Tag Archives: canadian self-publisher

Author of the Month

From historical research to staff-picked, award-winning novel – Renée Veillet shares of her accomplishments as an indie author

img_0002-180x300What started as research into her own family’s history during the settling of Western Canada in the 1900s, transitioned to an award-winning historical fiction novel and a long-term career as a writer and published author for Renée Veillet.

Inspired by the stories she learned of her ancestors, the Calgary-based author sought out to honour Canadian history in a medium that might be more entertaining and enjoyable for young adults.

“My ancestors endured hardships that were unimaginable; my great grandfather was forced to leave his family behind in order to seek work in Canada. The first family member he could afford to bring over travelled in steerage class on the Titanic and did not survive,” explains Veillet. “I feel a debt of gratitude towards my ancestors and want to honour them by sharing their stories with my children and the generations to come.”

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By the fall of 2017, Veillet was a published author and Rings of Time quickly began to receive high praise. The book, which has been compared to the popular TV series Outlander, has been described by Goodreads readers as “[p]erfectly paced and beautifully descriptive” and “an entertaining escape into another time.”

Local bookstores have also expressed interest in the book, and it was even featured as a Staff Pick at the Crowfoot Chapters in December 2017.

“As a first-time author, having my book on the shelf of the local bookstore was a huge milestone,” says Veillet. “Having it chosen as a staff pick was an unexpected surprise.”

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Meet the Team

Meet Tellwell Designer Bonnie Mitchell

am_velocefondo20170709_01If your role at Tellwell were to be summarized into a book title, what would it be?

Word InDesigns Out: Translating Word files to InDesign files.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

When I’ve created a cover and book block that represent the book perfectly and the author is ecstatic with the results.

What do you think is the most important aspect of an author’s cover design?

Balancing text and imagery to capture the story or the essence of the book. This creates a powerful emotional reaction inviting the reader to take a closer look.

What is your favourite type of book to design and why?

Fiction. Yes, it is as broad a genre as it is open to the imagination. With a good book synopsis the cover has so many design possibilities. There are certain design principles that make the interior of the book readable, however, there is no limit to how the title pages, headers, footers, chapter starts and sections can be styled. I find it the best genre for pushing the limits of design and doing something unique.

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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Kristin Pierce ignites self-discovery in children through Inner Compass Books

Soul-searching, finding yourself and self-empowerment are often facets of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but Tellwell author Kristin Pierce wanted to spark the journey of self-discovery earlier on.

As a mother of two, she sought out to find picture books with empowering messages to share with her children. But the nature of the subject matter left her with few options. Drawing from her personal journey of self-discovery, Pierce transformed some strong, thought-provoking life lessons into a beautifully illustrated children’s book titled Your Inner Compass That Could.

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“As a mother, I thought that if I was craving books with deeper learning messages for my kids, maybe there were other parents out there wanting that too,” she explains. Her goal in creating the story was to use the book to bring empowering messages to the world in an inspirational, understandable and relatable way.

The messages conveyed are concepts that Pierce began unraveling when faced with ovarian cancer at age 21. Self-reflection and inner confidence were pivotal throughout her experience, and are topics that she felt when described appropriately, could resonate just as strongly with children.

“What I uncovered along the way is that we all have this inner wisdom that we can use to help us navigate life from a place of alignment and truth. I realized that this was something I had been ignoring in myself for so long that I felt very disconnected from my truth and who I really was. In the process of getting to know myself better, I knew I was not the only one who felt disconnected or lost along the way,” she says.

To adapt these seemingly abstract concepts into a children-friendly story, Pierce knew the illustrations would carry a significant amount of the messaging.

“I had to dig deep into my creative depths to bring my illustration vision to the surface for Your Inner Compass That Could,” she explains. “The illustrations are infused with symbolism and meaning, and that process required a lot of reflecting, but it was so worth it in the end!”

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Tips & Tricks

Pave the way to literary success with a pre-marketing strategy

Your phone rings; your best friend is calling. You answer and the congratulations and celebratory cheers pour in. The day has come, the daydreams have become reality. You’ve made the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list! The book you spent months crafting has gone viral and new readers are multiplying by the second! You’ve reached celebrity author status.

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It may seem far-fetched, but it’s certainly possible. The question is: how did you get to that unforgettable milestone?

As an author, whether you’re self-published or not, one of the most important things you’ll need to do to work towards that bestseller status is build an audience of readers who would be most interested in your book. But, growing a target market is no easy feat, and it definitely takes time and committed engagement.

And, if you want to hit the ground running when your book is launched, you’re going to need to get started sooner rather than later. Enter pre-marketing.

Having and executing a pre-marketing strategy is extremely important to build initial momentum – whether it’s your first book, or your sixth. Here are Tellwell’s top ten tips to consider when putting together your pre-marketing strategy:

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Author of the Month

YA author Rachael Bell-Irving uses pre-marketing to grow following, knowledge and experience for launch

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We’ve all heard the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ at one time or another, and book marketing is no exception. So when Tellwell author Rachael Bell-Irving decided she was going to publish her first book – Demons at the Doorstep, she immediately began exploring and experimenting with marketing in preparation for her book’s release.

First, she embellished her online author presence with a Facebook Page and website, and began to establish a voice through social media and a blog. While she knew it was important to be on multiple online platforms, Bell-Irving decided to focus on the tool she felt most comfortable with: Instagram.

She did her due-diligence researching effective hashtags and exploring community spaces like “Bookstagram.” As she began to post content, she started to pick up on some of the nuances. Beyond the importance of imagery, Bell-Irving discovered the value of allowing your personality to come through.

insta-post-4-personal“People like to know who you are behind the scenes and behind the screen,” she says.

Some of her most well-received content on Instagram has been posts of herself – whether they were related to the writing process or not. Even online, the reading community seems to appreciate a personable, humanistic approach to brand awareness.

Another advantage of the pre-marketing process for Bell-Irving was getting a better sense of her genre and her target audience. Prior to exploring the literary community on social media, she didn’t realize her writing is tailored to young adult readers.

Having learned that, she found her approach online shifted to accommodate the interests and habits of YA readers specifically. The most prominent thing she discovered was the strength of the community she had become a part of through her writing. Not only are YA readers and writers extremely interactive with one another, but being genuinely invested is quintessential to building support within the community.

The concept of “being a reader as much as a writer” goes a long way, Bell-Irving explains. So, she started to get back into reading again to really immerse herself with her audience.

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Tips & Tricks

Three tips to increase book sales for first-time authors

As a first time author it can be daunting stepping out with your story and trying to successfully earn money selling your book. Here are three tips to help increase book sales before your book hits the stands.

Always check your blind spots

Authors, who have spent so much time in the process of writing their books often are so intricately connected with the content and structure of their book that they can miss blind spots that a trained eye would catch.  Whether you have someone who is trained to look for blind spots review, or have some peers review your content before publishing, don’t rely on just yourself to catch everything.

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Tellwell News

Tellwell authors get creative in March with events and speaking opportunities

March was a busy month for Tellwell authors holding events and signings! Here’s a glance at some of the unique events held throughout March:

dscn1830Comedian and Tellwell Author, Ally Lane launched her book The Chem-Ho, at the Vin Gogh Art Studio in Calgary on March 8th. Lane served up quite the entertaining evening, including a colourful reading on her journey through breast cancer, appetizer’s and complimentary “chemo”-politans administered by Hot Doctors. Stay tuned for more of her events by visiting: www.allylane.com.

 

art-mindfulnessOn March 19th, Jason Lee was the Keynote Speaker at the Art and Mindfulness Event hosted by Moving Forward Family Services at SFU. His presentation, on “Anger and Your Mental Health,” discussed the barriers certain cultures have on talking openly about mental health. Lee has spoken at several Mental Health conferences across Canada, including the Strength in Unity Summit held last year in Ottawa. For more on the author, or to learn more about his book – Living with the Dragon – Healing 15 000 Days of Abuse and Shame, visit www.solaceinnerhealth.com.

 

In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day and in memory of her brother, Ken, Diana Frizell kicked off her book tour in Richmond on March 21st. The tour included a wine and cheese evening, and signings at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and the IndigoSpirit bookstore in Richmond Centre Mall. Frizell aims to raise awareness and support for aging adults with Down Syndrome, based on her family’s experience. Visit www.kensplace.ca for more event details – including future stops on Vancouver Island.

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Author of the Month

Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs shares of caregiving to mental illness

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In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.

She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.

 

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Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.

“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.

But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.

“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”

While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.

Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.

“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”

Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.

Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.

Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.

“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.

And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.

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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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