The Backspace Key and Selling Books

I’ve maintained for years that the greatest invention of the last forty years is not the internet but, rather, the backspace key. The backspace key is what enables tens-of-thousands of writers like me to churn out thousands of books every year that no one has ever heard of. All it takes to write a book now is perseverance and a dogged stubbornness in the beauty of the wonderful words you are typing.

Imagine what it was like to write a book before the invention of the backspace key and the ‘save’ button. There was white-out for typing mistakes and carbon paper for making duplicate pages on the typewriter. Oh, the horror! So far, in just these first two paragraphs, I have used the backspace key 17 times. I read once that in Jack London’s original manuscript for his amazing semi-autobiography ‘Martin Eden’ – hundreds of pages long – there were only a few cross-outs. He wrote the entire book with hardly a backward glance. He is my hero.

In any case, I’ve decided to throw my efforts into beefing up the sales of my existing books, i.e., EINSTEIN’S TRUNK and A THOUSAND SUNS. To that end, I will be spending more time on social media – this website and my Facebook page. I’m also soliciting ideas from any-and-all on how to market my book. My two books have been published by Cedar Fort, a very good publisher out of Utah, but due to the changing dynamics of the book market, authors must now do a lot of their own marketing.

Best regards,

Jim
Zurich

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Just Finished ‘Redfish’

I just finished writing the third book in the Rulon Hurt series. It’s titled ‘Redfish’. For those not familiar with Idaho, Redfish Lake is in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho. It is incredibly beautiful. Surrounded by jagged mountain peaks. An hour or so from Sun Valley. In the book ‘Redfish’, Rulon has an argument with Yohaba and insists on giving the codename ‘Redfish’ to the mission they are on. Naturally, I can’t say anymore without giving away the plot.

I actually kicked around another title for the book – ‘Rulon’s Ilk’. I thought that sounded very ‘John Le Carre-ish’, and seemed to fit the book, but ‘Redfish’ sounds more traditional, and, perhaps, therefore more acceptable to agents and publishers.

So now begins the work of finding an agent and a publisher for the book. It begins with crafting a Query letter and hoping to inflame the curiosity of some lucky agent. Wish me luck.

Best regards,

Jim

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A Tale of Two Cities

The old classics. Are they still worth reading? As an author and a reader, I consider myself a fairly well-read person, but came to the sad realization some months ago that I have neglected many of the classics. Further, a lot of my recent reading has been devoted to thrillers written by NYT bestselling authors that turned out to be very badly written. So, hungry for good writing after having been disappointed by a succession of bland and trite thrillers, I downloaded Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. What a treat! – though in the case of Dickens, a hard-earned one.

Published in 1859, A Tale of Two Cities is set in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution. It is the story about the brutality and injustice of life in those days – the brutality of the rich and aristocratic towards the poor and disadvantaged, and, in the case of Paris, how the ignorant downtrodden rose up with the guillotine and the smug fervor of Maoist peasants against their former royalist masters.

I’ll be honest: for the first two thirds of the book, I struggled. The archaic language and intricate sentence structure was too hard a nut to crack for my brain used to the pabulum I’d been reading lately. At one point, I even set the book down. But eventually I came back to it and found the reading much easier. And that is when I began to appreciate what a great writer Dickens was. The writing was ingenious. The sentiments sublime. The insights into those terrible times completely convincing. What a wonderful experience to read a book by a truly great writer. Here it is, 154 years since its first publication as 31 weekly installments in Dickens’s own literary periodical called All the Year Round, and I am still gripped by the nobleness of Charles Darnay and the Christ-like sacrifice of Sydney Carton. Further, the book appealed to my nobler instincts. I felt a better person for having read it.

Just for kicks, I went to Amazon and Goodreads to see how A Tale of Two Cities was rated by my fellow readers. On Amazon it was rated 4.2 and on Goodreads, the ratings for the various editions generally hovered below 4.0. I am embarrassed to note that my book, A Thousand Suns, was rated higher on both websites. Ha! Clearly, thriller writers are judged by a different standard. So, let me state this loud and clear: Thank you everyone who loved my book and rated it so highly, but please read A Tale of Two Cities. You won’t be disappointed.

Jim
Zurich – June 21, 2013

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Goodreads Giveaway Winners

The A Thousand Suns giveway has ended with almost 600 avid readers participating. The free copies of ATS have already been mailed to the lucky winners. Thanks all for taking part. Here are the winners:

Kim Mcalpine and Melitta Cross from Canada, and Becci Boersema, Molly Grosbauer, and Kylie Tagg from the U.S. Congratulations.

Jim

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‘A Thousand Suns’ Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Thousand Suns by Jim Haberkorn

A Thousand Suns

by Jim Haberkorn

Giveaway ends May 31, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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How One Popular Book Blogger Does Book Reviews

Shauna Wheelwright is the popular book reviewer blogging from: http://ilovetoreadandreviewbooks.blogspot.ch/ Over the next few days, she will be publishing a review of A Thousand Suns. I asked her about the process she goes through when reviewing books. Here is her reply.

From Shauna:
There is no right or wrong way to review a book…
Here is just what I do—
First, and foremost I must choose a book to review. I work in a bookstore and see what new books come in and choose a lot of those. I watch for “blog tours” and sign up for many of those. I also love it when authors contact me to review their books and I choose a lot of them that way—sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with request and have to say “not right now” along the way.

Second, I read the book. I choose to read every word often including the front and back of the book, the jacket flaps, the acknowledgments, the introduction, etc. I want to be able to stand by the book and not have any surprise words or scenes show up that I didn’t preview—this takes time.

Third, I have a high standard for what I read and for what I put on my blog. If I find the book has questionable material I will not post a review of it. That way you know that the books I post are safe to read…all of them!

Fourth, I write a positive review. If a book meets my standards it will be a good book and therefore it will be easy to find good things to say about it. Sometimes I will include a book description, a book excerpt, and/or quotes from other people and what they are saying about the book.

Fifth, I like to add a sidebar banner with a link to the review post. This gives the book more time on my main page in addition to the one time post. If a banner is not included, such as a blog tour banner, I create one myself.

Sixth, I try to find a blog or Facebook page that the author has and link it to their name on the blog post. This allows my readers to also find these author sites.

Seventh, I like to add author bios and pictures and sometimes I will add a “tens list” of some fun facts about the author.

Eighth, I am always open to book giveaways. I like to use the rafflecopter form and will include “likes” to author sites as entry requirements.

Finally, in addition to posting my review on my blog, I post reviews on Pinterest, GoodReads, LDSPublisher, DeseretBook, Amazon, Barnes&Nobel, The Book Depository, Twitter, and my Facebook page.
And that is the effort I put into each one of my reviews—
I am Shauna and I Love to Read and Review Books 🙂

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What I wished I’d known before my first book got published – by Stephanie Connelley Worlton

From Jim: Stephanie Connelly Worlton is the author of two excellent books, Hope’s Journey and Everything You Need to Know about Girls Camp: The Essential Planning Guide for Leaders – both available from Amazon and other book resellers. In the post below, Stephanie shares what she’s learned on her epic journey to become a published author. To get to know Stephanie better, check out her Kreating Krazy website at: http://stephanieworlton.blogspot.ch/

Now here’s Stephanie,
I’m going to admit a secret (and I suspect there are many new authors who share the same experience) – When I dove into the publishing business I was undoubtedly naïve. There it is, simple, yet so common. I suppose like many of my peers, I had this illusion of world tours, marketing stampedes, and huge royalty checks. I thought all I had to do was write my masterpiece, get a contract, and then everything else would fall into place. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood would be banging down my door for movie rights….

And then reality hit.

In all fairness, I know there are aspiring authors who’ve spent years researching the craft as well as the business and are in a much more informed place than I was when I sent off my first manuscript. In hindsight I probably should’ve done a little more homework. Nonetheless, most authors I meet seem to have been in my same boat, wishing they’d known just a few basic things before their first book came to life.

As they say, there is no better teacher than experience, and I hope that my experience will be a great teacher to someone. Here are the top five things I wished I’d known BEFORE my first book launched:

Writing is the easy part. – When you’re up to your eyeballs in developing characters, advancing your plot, and then editing and re-editing, it’s hard to believe that the real work hasn’t yet started. The biggest misconception I had as a newbie author was that my job was simply to write the book and the publisher’s job was to do everything else. Makes logical sense, right? A writer writes, a publisher publishes… but what about everything else? Lucky for me, my publishing company has a great editing staff and an amazing team of cover designers. Because of them, the final product comes out beautiful, with no stress on my part. But then the work starts. Marketing, networking, getting reviews, scheduling book signings, coordinating blog tours, interacting with fans (not really work, but it does take some time), and more marketing.

Marketing is mostly the responsibility of the author. – No, I’m not kidding. Doesn’t the publisher employ a publicist/marketing agent? Yes. Isn’t his/her job to market your book as their title implies? No. The job of a marketing agent is to help an author market their book, not do it for them. They support you and try to keep you on track, they encourage signings and help set them up with the book stores, but ultimately selling your book is your responsibility. There are many ways to market a book, but in today’s high-tech digital world, it shouldn’t be surprising that the most effective tools are internet based. Every author should have a website and/or blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. They should also take advantage of other networking tools like Google+, LinkedIn, and even Pintrist. They should make sure their author information is up to date on book sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and any other site that might carry or recommend your book.

Have a webpage/blog and a following BEFORE your book launches. ¬– Timing really is everything and it’s never too early to start building an audience and creating your brand. It takes months and sometimes even years for a book to grow from manuscript to finished project. Don’t sit idly by waiting for that surreal date when your book finally becomes real! In fact, you don’t really need to have a contract or even a finished manuscript before you start building your brand. If you’re serious about writing, start sharing your talents via a blog or other method. Don’t be shy about talking about what you are working on and occasionally share tidbits of your work(s) in progress. Start following other authors and book bloggers and develop a relationship with them.

Other authors are your best friends. – There’s a weird dynamic in the publishing world that seems almost contradictory in most business models: your competition isn’t really your competition. They are in fact, your biggest cheerleaders, marketing supporters, and promotional helps. Develop a network with other authors. Support them. Encourage them. Consider joining a writing group or an author’s guild. Interact with them online and, if geographically possible, attend writer’s conferences.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your book. – Seriously. Talk about your book. Not in that annoying, every word that comes out of your mouth is about your book kind of way, but in appropriate settings at appropriate times. You know your book and its contents better than anyone else, so when you stumble upon the opportunity to say something about it, do. Don’t be embarrassed or overly humble. Most people want to know… and many of them are so thrilled to be friends with a “pseudo-celebrity” that if you’re excited about your project, they will be too.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the amazing publishing community. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege to get to know many fabulous authors and I consider it an honor to be numbered amongst their friends. I’m so thankful for the help and advice they’ve shared with me and I hope as I tuck more titles and experience under my belt, that I can be an asset to others as they have been to me.

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