Peer Promotion: How to Promote a Book in 7 Steps

Excitement is growing at Inspire. Several of our members have books coming out this month and many more books will be released over the next few months.

13208387_sWe are having fun with launch parties, book signings and celebrating the successes. One of the questions I hear among our writers is “How can I help get the word out?”

In response I am listing seven things we can do to promote our friends’ books:

1. Pray for the ministry of the book. We write with a purpose of touching hearts and changing lives, which can only happen when the message is read. Inspire writers pray for each other’s projects, asking God to put them in the hands of readers who can benefit from the messages or stories being published.

2. Post book reviews. After reading your friend’s book, consider what you liked best about the content, style, and message, and write a brief review. Then post the review on Amazon.com, GoodReads.com,  Christianbook.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Readers rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions. Your honest review will have a positive impact on the sales of the book.

3. Blog to promote the book. By posting a well-written interview and/or book review on your blog, you can help generate interest in your friend’s book. Include a book trailer if possible.  You can increase interest by offering a free copy of the book. Don’t forget to mention the book in comments you leave on other blogs as well.

4. Tweet to get the word out. Twitter provides a great forum for peer promotion, allowing you to post brief, pointed tweets about the book or re-tweeting what others say about it. You can also re-tweet posts from the book’s author. If the book is mentioned in an article or review, you can tweet it out to the world. Tweet quotes from the book to whet the appetites of your followers. Then be sure to invite them to book signings.

5. Create a buzz on Facebook. Update your status with a positive comment about the book and “Like” the author’s page. Post quotes from the book. Invite your Facebook friends to a book signing. You can also give away a copy of the book on your Facebook page. Your small efforts help build a big buzz.

6. Distribute marketing pieces. Carry promotional postcards or bookmarks with you. Pass them out whenever the opportunity presents itself. Give them to your local bookstore manager and church librarian. Ask them to carry the book. Distribute a speaker packet to a church leader, ministry director, pastor—whoever makes decisions about speakers. Present bookmarks to your book club and encourage them to read the book. Personally recommend the book to a friend (or lots of friends!)

7. Help with the Book Launch Party or Book Signing event. I recently attended a book launch that was hosted by a dear friend of the author. The party was a huge success! The friend put the same care into the party as she would a baby or bridal shower. Every detail was perfect–and the author was relaxed and enjoyed her guests. Maybe you don’t have time to throw an entire launch party, but there are many things you can do: Invite friends to attend book-signing/book launch with you. Provide refreshments for the event. Offer to help with book sales at book-signing. Create a gift basket for a door-prize drawing. You can also host an intimate gathering in your home for a meet & greet with the author.

Your enthusiasm about your friend’s book can make a difference in getting the word out. Employing these seven steps will make your peer promotion efforts more effective.

Here’s a question for you: What steps are you taking help promote your friend’s books?

_____

beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike.

 

Become a Writer In Residence

Do you dream of uninterrupted writing time, surrounded by nature’s beauty? Would you benefit from living and writing for several weeks among a community of artists?

Campus-header_Glen-Graves

Why not apply for an Artist In Residence Program?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Artist in Residence Programs at the Headlands Marine Mammal and Nature Conservation Center in San Francisco. If chosen, you will be awarded a residency of four to ten weeks to devote to your craft. Residencies include housing, studio space, chef-prepared meals and much more.

Are you ready to learn more? You can visit the Headlands website for details about the AIR Programs and application process. If you’re interested, be sure to apply before the June 15 deadline. There is a $45 application processing fee.

___

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a Writer in Residence program? Do you plan to apply? Why or why not? 

Putting Pen to Paper with Judi Braddy

Judi Hi Def Pic_edited

Judi Braddy, Presenter

Surely everyone’s mother said it: “Whatever’s worth doing is worth doing well.” This is especially true regarding the ministry of Christian writing. Since every biblical truth carries the weight of eternity, it is imperative that we make certain it is communicated accurately, clearly and with excellence.

Fact is, words put on paper—or computer—live longer than those simply spoken. (Some say internet postings may never be retracted—yikes!). Understanding the quality and far-reaching influence of our work, it’s apparent why sloppy, sappy writing should no longer be accepted just because it’s “Christian.”

The good news is that more care can be taken clarifying written words than spoken ones. One author defined writing as “refined thinking.” Indeed, if words are to be taken seriously and shared liberally, they must be crafted carefully.

Applying a few of Paul’s spiritually-specific admonitions to Timothy, this workshop will attempt to educate by sharing some basic tips and techniques to help Christian writers answer the following questions:

  • How Do I Know If I Have A Gift/Talent For Writing?
  • How Do I Develop That Talent?
  • What Are Some Basic “Nuts & Bolts”?
  • Where Do I Find Ideas For Stories?
  • How Hard Do I Really Want To Work At This?

Join us for Putting Pen to Paper

Saturday, May 16th, 9:30am to noon

At Oasis Christian Mission Center, 10255 Old Placerville Rd #1, Sacramento, CA 95827

This Get Inspired! Workshop is free for all Inspire members and only $15 for non-members!

Judi Braddy is an author, motivational speaker, licensed minister, wife, mom and (very young) grandma. The author of six books–Prodigal in the Parsonage; It All Comes Out in the Wash; True North;  Camp Gramma; Everyday Sabbath;  and, Simple Seasons–Judi has lived through scads of seasons and turned over a number of new leaves.  Basically she and King Solomon have come to the same conclusion—there is a time and season for everything.

She and husband, Jim, live in Elk Grove, California where he serves as a denominational executive. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit her witty website at www.judibraddy.com or email her at judibraddy@aol.com.

 

Becoming Known Part 3: Reciprocal Book Reviews

bookstore_bannerReaders have a million choices when it comes to what book to read—especially when they are shopping online. Honest book reviews are often what sells a book to a reader even more than the book’s description. Even if a book has been recommended to a reader, before they click the “buy” button, most readers still check the reviews to see what others have to say. But it’s hard to get people to review your book.

Other writers are in the same boat. They too need book reviews. If I knew a writing colleague would be posting an honest book review on my book, I am happy to post one for them. It takes a bit of time to read the book and a bit of effort to create a review that is helpful and honest, but the results are worth it: a review for your book and knowing that you’ve encouraged someone else.

Last month we chatted about how to use the technology on Amazon.com to post a book review. Beth Thompson also wrote a terrific article last month on how to create an effective review. You can refer to both articles to help your readers post reviews of your books. You can also refer to the articles when suggesting reciprocal book reviews to your writing colleagues.

One of the things I love about reciprocal book reviews is that it is one of those practical ways to follow the teachings of Jesus. He said:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12; see also Luke 6:31)

Even secular society quotes this maxim, calling it “The Golden Rule.” It’s golden because it is wisdom that is precious; how we should live our lives each day. Love your neighbor writer as yourself.

So if you want other writers to provide you with book reviews, offer book reviews to them. You both profit from doing so.

There’s an added benefit to this. When you post a review of someone else’s book and sign it with your writing name, you get your name in front of readers—perhaps even people who will one day be reading your books.

Send out review copies. Request reviews when the book is launched. If it is already launched, it’s still not too late. Reviews are always helpful.

Seek out writing colleagues. Maybe they have a book out. Maybe they’re still writing their first. But suggest a reciprocal book review. Ask for one from them and promise one to them.

Do unto others.

Do you write book reviews for fellow writers? If so, we’d love to see them! Post a link to a recent review in the comments. 

 carol_petersonCarol Peterson is a Christian woman who can’t stop writing about God, His great big, beautiful world and our place in it. Carol writes for women and children and blogs at: http://carolpetersonauthor.com

She writes to educate, entertain and inspire–children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres.

 

Inspire Authors to Launch 4 Books on Saturday April 25

This Saturday, April 25 we have three (three!!) Inspire authors launching four (four!!) new books in the Greater Sacramento Area. What a day of celebration it will be! I hope you’ll join us for the launches, which take place in two locations:

BecauseofGraceCryingintheMorgueFirst, we’ll celebrate the launch of Jane Daly’s Because of Grace and Mary A. Allen’s Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.

Because of Grace: A Mother’s Journey from Grief to Hope

Every mother fears losing her child. When that horror became a devastating reality for author Jane Daly, everything she believed in became distorted. As she tried to come to grips with a life that would never be normal again, Jane found God’s presence leading her from the pain of loss to the peace that passes all understanding. Take a walk with Jane Daly through this story of sorrow and healing, and experience the touch of God that ultimately carried her from grief to hope.

Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark

Based on an inspiring true story, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark is filled with deep emotional truths that speak to the heart of women. With real and sympathetic characters, the story weaves a picture of God’s tenacious love and the joy that could not be contained in his precious daughter.  Both titles will be launched at the Edgewood Clubhouse, 5700 Spyglass Lane, Citrus Heights CA. 

Stop by between 1-3pm to purchase signed books (or get your copies signed), visit with Jane Daly and Mary Allen and enjoy refreshments and giveaways.

Next we’ll gather at Face in a Book for the double-launch of Lara Van Hulzen’s new “Romances with a Twist of Faith.”

RememberMe gettome3Remember Me

Detective Ben Russo is in trouble. He just can’t remember why. When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger. After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancé, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own. Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love?

Get to Me

Aimee can identify a killer. Dane can keep her safe. But is he willing to face his past to do it? When Aimee Jansenn stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad she comes face to face with a killer. As the only witness to a crime, she falls into a deadly situation and is in need of police protection. Dane Scott has sworn off women. Until a fireball named Aimee enters his world. Telling himself they’re just friends, he vows to protect her. Can his heart follow suit or will she change his mind about love for good?

Lara’s launch will be at Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd., #113, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762 from 4 to 6pm. 

Lara will have a drawing for a special gift basket with copies of both books and some other fun goodies!

Forgiveness: What’s Your Story?

What emotion does the word forgiveness evoke in you?

forgiveness2

It’s not a neutral word, though we toss it about like a badminton birdie. It flits through our conversation without carrying much weight until that moment when we’ve said or done something hurtful. All of a sudden a gorge opens up between us and someone dear to us. This formidable canyon severs our connection and distorts or destroys communication.

Forgiveness is taking the bricks of offense and using them to build a bridge between two hearts.

Like me, you’ve been on both sides of the gorge. You’ve sinned and desperately needed someone to forgive you. And you’ve been hurt by someone you love. Trust and communication were destroyed. And then the grace of forgiveness brought renewed relationship, restored friendship, hope and trust for a better future.

What’s your forgiveness story?

Are you willing to share your story in order to inspire forgiveness in others?

Inspire Christian Writers is accepting submissions for our 2015 anthology, Inspire Forgiveness. We are looking for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, devotionals, and more on the topic of forgiveness. If you’re an Inspire member, you can submit your piece today. If you haven’t yet joined, you can join today for only $50 per year.

Submissions need to be fewer than 1,500 words, clearly relate to the theme, and follow the Inspire style formatting. Start preparing today. We can’t wait to see how God will bless our readers through your stories on this important topic.

We’re accepting submissions between March 1st and June 1st, 2015.

beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Connect with Elizabeth on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She loves to connect with other writers!

Self-Publish Like a Pro with Lara Van Hulzen

Most of us want to write books that makes a positive impression on our readers–maybe even a life-changing impression. In order to accomplish that, we need to ensure the books we write are published professionally, whether we publish through a traditional publisher or choose to self-publish. If you’ve ever considered self-publishing, you’ll want to learn how to self-publish like a pro.

I’m impressed with the way Inspire writer Lara Van Hulzen approaches self-publishing. Her books look and read like they’re traditionally published. So, I interviewed her about her self-publishing process to find out what she does. Here are the questions I asked her.

About Self-Publishing:

  • With so many publishing options, why did you choose the indie publishing route?
  • When did you decide to self-publish?
  • What was your first step?
  • Your book is very polished. Tell us about your editing process.
  • Did you do the formatting yourself or did you hire someone for that?
  • Your covers are gorgeous! How important is it to have a professionally-designed cover?
  • How did you find a great cover artist?
  • Your second book, Get to Me just released. What did you do differently with it?

About Marketing:

  • What steps are you taking to market your books? Are you working with a publicist or a launch team?
  • What have you learned about marketing since you started this publication journey?
  • You’ve received some great reviews on Amazon and other sites. What advice can you give writers seeking reviews of their self-published titles?
  • What has surprised you the most so far in your publishing journey?
  • Any last words of advice for writers who plan to self-publish?

RememberMegettome3If you’re in the Greater Sacramento area, be sure to stop by Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills on Saturday, April 25 from 4-6pm for a book launch and signing party.

You can find Lara at LaraMVanHulzen.com and sign up for her newsletter.

—–

What questions do you have for Lara? Leave them in the comments for a chance to win a copy of either Remember Me or Get to Me. We’ll draw a winner on Friday, April 24th.

Go Write Your Small Story

9961207_sIt Takes a Small Story to Make a Big Story Our Story

I grew up in a world of big stories. I am a granddaughter of “the greatest generation”—a generation that lived through the Great Depression and served in the Great War. Most of what I knew about my grandparents’ experiences, I learned in World History classes. I learned about the Holocaust and the atrocities the Nazi war machine wrought against Jewish people and against all of civilization as it marched in perfect formation across Europe. It was taught clinically, so matter-of-fact. I received the information that way too. The people who lost their lives, livelihood, family members—they were far away people. Another land at another time. Far removed from me and honestly, their collective story was not particularly relevant to my young life.

I memorized the dates and related statistics of events, and the names of the world leaders involved. I listened to my teachers and parroted back what I was taught—acing my exams, but missing the point entirely!

It was Joseph Stalin who said, “The death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of millions is a statistic.” He was, sadly, right.

The collective nature of the big-picture story makes it meaningless. It sure did for me. But the small personal story, the one tucked deep into the larger story–that I can relate too. That I can internalize and learn from. That circumnavigates the wrinkly crevasses of my brain and touches a much deeper place. It touches the place where my humanity lives, where empathy rules and compassion overflows. Where the story and I merge in our vulnerability and weakness, in our determination and victory. It touches my soul, which clings to the values of right and wrong like a rock climber clings to the face of a cliff. Where fear and faith cohabitate, always wrestling for dominance.

The story of Maria Altmann is just such a story. Much like the story of Anne Frank or Corrie Ten Boom, Maria’s story, for me, is the personalization of a much bigger story, the meta-narrative of World War II. This weekend, I was completely captivated as I watched the BBC movie, Woman in Gold with my family. The little story inside the big story, made the big story more real. Personal. Meaningful. Relevant to my life.

Woman in Gold is the story of a woman whose family was torn from her during WWII and in that tearing she was stripped of several very important pieces of her family’s artwork. Most valuable to Maria was a painting of her beloved aunt Adele, that had become the centerpiece of the Austrian art gallery where it hung for over fifty years. In the movie, Maria fights for her rights to the artwork, a struggle about more than the restoration of the stolen heirlooms. She wanted the Austrian government to admit to their wrong-doing. They were culpable in the theft and she needed with every fiber in her being to hear them admit it. She needed someone to stand up and say, “Yes. We did this horrible thing to you. We’re sorry for our part in this ordeal and we’ll restore everything that was taken from you.” She needed the Austrian government to make it right, emotionally as well as physically.

And that’s where her story became my story. I have been in Maria’s situation. Our circumstances of course are vastly different. I wasn’t even born when evil was perpetrated against her family. But I’ve been treated horribly too. And I’ve wanted someone to stand up and say, “Yes. I did this horrible thing to you. I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. Let me restore everything lost because of this situation.”

If you’ve lived a few years on Planet Earth, you’ve been hurt like that too. Hurt beyond the ability for another human being to make it right. We all have. That’s what makes Maria’s story our story. The universal emotions that come with injustice and the universal need to be vindicated.

When we write our vulnerable little story inside the meta-narrative of God’s story, we can shake our readers from complacency. We can disrupt their apathy and make them care about the bigger story—God’s story—the one they know about clinically, but haven’t experienced personally, until they found themselves in the words of our story.

In his book Telling Secrets, Frederick Buechner says, “My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity…that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.“

Your story is important too. Now go and write it!

___

beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike.

Sharing Your Painful Past with a Universal Audience

Many people have experienced God’s power, mercy, and redeeming grace in amazing ways. The Lord transforms lives as His people courageously testify about the things He’s done in and through their circumstances.

Sometimes, our sharing is done in an intimate setting. Sometimes, writers pour out their hearts in a book.

JaneThe Lord prepared Jane S. Daly to write Because of Grace from the moment doctors diagnosed her son with cancer, through the grieving process following his death, and in the refuge of His peace from which she shares her journey with others.

Please join me in welcoming Jane as she reminds writers that, no matter how large the audience, a personal testimony is a gift that can be life-changing when placed into the hands of our Almighty God.

Xochi: Thank you for sharing your testimony in your debut book, Because of Grace. Please share the keys to making a personal story relevant to universal audience.

Jane: There’s a saying, “No tears from the writer, no tears from the reader.” Being vulnerable is the most important part of telling your story. People want to know how you dealt with the bad stuff, and receive encouragement from you. Otherwise, it’s just preaching.

Xochi: What was the most challenging part of writing your personal story in a way that would be relevant to a universal audience?

Jane: The most challenging part, period, was reliving all those emotions. Anger, grief, denial, bitterness. Everyone experiences pain, and exposing that pain is where others can relate to your story.

BecauseofGraceXochi: How did you determine if your testimony should be shared through an article or blog post, a series of articles or blog posts, or a nonfiction book?

Jane: I began blogging when Bobby was first diagnosed. I wrote a couple of articles which I submitted for publication. An editor suggested I write a book about my journey, so I pulled much of the content from my journal, blog, and articles.

Xochi: Why is it important for writers to be emotionally and spiritually ready to share their painful past in such a permanent public form?

Jane: We need to know that our fellow Christians don’t have it all together. So often we put on our Sunday faces, and never let people know the painful things we’re going through. It’s encouraging when we find out how God is helping others who are suffering, too. For instance, I was asked to write an article about a woman who was kidnapped and raped. She appeared very together at church, and no one would have ever known about her ordeal. Because she chose to reveal it, other women were emboldened to come forward and receive healing.

Xochi: How can a writer tell if they’re ready to publish their story for a universal audience?

Jane: Critique groups, such as Inspire Christian Writers offers, are invaluable. We write in a vacuum, so having others read our work helps keep things in perspective. They catch grammar problems, continuity, and universal appeal. I LOVE my critique group ladies.

Xochi: If a writer feels ready to share their testimony in a book, what can they do to be better prepared for the process?

Jane: Know that it won’t be easy. Be prepared for tears. Be prepared to want to abandon the project. Be prepared for God to bring things up that you didn’t realize you still needed to deal with.

Xochi: Please share a final word of encouragement for writers who think they might be ready to share their painful past with a universal audience.

Jane: If you think you’re ready to write your story, gather a couple of people around you and ask for their prayers. Ask them if you can rely on them for encouragement when you want to give up. I started a Facebook group called “Fire Pit People.” We share our ups and downs, frustrations and temptations. We support each other, and occasionally virtually slap each other upside the head.

Xochi: Thank you for inspiring us to write with courage and transparency, Jane.

—–

Celebrate the release of Because of Grace on Saturday, April 25th from 1-4pm at the Edgwood Clubhouse, 5700 Spyglass Lane, Citrus Heights. Come and get your signed copy, visit with the author and enjoy refreshments!

To connect with Jane, please visit her website, subscribe to her blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Please also take a moment to pray readers will experience hope and healing, like Jane, Because of Grace.

—–

Xochi DixonWith a heart for loving God, loving people, and nurturing spiritual growth, Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to experience the fragrance of God’s presence through prayerful study and application of His Holy Word at www.xedixon.com.

 

Get Inspired! Workshop: Tips & Tricks with Word, Scrivener Basics and How to Submit to Inspire Forgiveness

get_inspired_banner

Join us Saturday, April 18 for a power-packed training workshop!

Michelle Murray and Lori Sinclair will present:

  • Tips & Tricks for Word Documents
  • How to Prepare Your Submission for Inspire Forgiveness
  • And Scrivener Basics for Writers

Word Documents

Most writers use Word to create their manuscripts and many of us have no idea how to properly format a Word document to improve it’s content, appearance and likelihood of publication. Michelle and Lori will teach us all we need to know in this hands-on workshop. Be sure to bring your laptop or tablet.

Inspire Forgiveness

Once they’ve formed a foundation of formatting fundamentals, Lori and Michelle will focus on the specifics of formatting and preparing your submission for the 2015 Inspire Forgiveness anthology. Our popular anthologies are written exclusively by Inspire members. To eliminate many common reasons for rejection, come and learn how to meet the editors’ expectations. (Hint: Michelle Murray is the Anthology Coordinator and oversees the anthology editorial team.)

Scrivener

Have you discovered Scrivener? It’s a powerful tool to help writers create and organize their work. It’s especially designed for use with novels and screenplays, but can also help you organize a nonfiction book. Our speakers will give you an overview of Scrivener and enough information to help you get started using it. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can download a free trial of Scrivener here.

Here’s what you need to know to get to the Get Inspired! Workshop:

Date: Saturday, April 18

Time: 9:30 am to noon

Location: Oasis Christian Mission Center, 10255 Old Placerville Rd #1, Sacramento, CA 95827

Bring: laptop or tablet

Cost: Free for all Inspire members, non-members pay only $15 at the door.

Our Speakers: 

michelle_murray

Michelle Murray  writes Christian Fantasy and Bible curriculum for students and adults. She teaches Middle School and leads a thriving Inspire Christian Writers critique group. She’s passionate about the Word of God and medieval history. In the summer of 2014 she founded Strong Tower Press to publish her own works with the first novella coming soon!

Michelle also serves as the Inspire Anthology Coordinator and oversees the selection, editing and distribution of our annual anthologies.

Here’s Michelle’s website.

 

Lori Sinclair_editedLori Sinclair works as a mild-mannered business woman by day and creates allegorical works of fantasy by night. She’s published several popular books on medical billing, one of her areas of expertise.

Lori is also the author of over 60 original church skits and stage productions, as well as numerous short stories and a little poetry. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog.