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December 20, 2012

2:01 PM

Writing a children's book

 10 Tips on How to Write a Children’s Book

1. Keep the book between 28 and 32 pages.

2. The text should be between 800 and 1,000 words.

3. Keep your readability consistent and your characters relatable.

4. Hook the young reader in the first paragraph or page.

5. Make your story a page turner.

6. Illustrations complement and enhance the story.

7. Allow the reader to anticipate what is going to happen.

8. Develop meaningful, imaginative, and creative content.

9. Stimulate communication and socialization via your book.

10. Never talk down to a child, especially in the written word.

Courtesy of Alva Sachs, author of Circus Fever (http://www.alvasachs.com).


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December 20, 2012

1:52 PM

Here's an idea


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November 23, 2012

4:07 PM

How to Prepare for Christmas Spending


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies advises you to plan carefully for holiday expenses to avoid a Red Tuesday™ caused by using credit to finance Santa.

       In answer to a recent survey, about being prepared financially for the holidays, only 20 percent of responders said they were “prepared” or at least somewhat prepared.” The unprepared 80 percent need to plan now. Those who can stick to a plan will be better off when the bills come in.

To help you stay within your means this holiday season, follow these five tips for a holiday costing less:

    1. Draw names from a hat (one you already own). If you buy for a large circle of people who are all connected (families, co-workers) this is a way to reduce the number of gifts on your list, which will reduce the amount of money you spend. Even if everyone does not want to participate, you can eliminate a few gifts among the ones who do want to draw names.

    2. Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Whether you draw names or not, make a list of every person you will buy for. Assign a dollar amount to each name. As you buy gifts, mark them off the list and note the amount spent. If you cannot resist going over budget on a gift, you’ll need to make up the difference from someone else’s gift.

    3. Demonstrate the true spirit of giving. A charitable donation is a perfect gift for those hard to buy for on your list and you may be able to take a tax deduction for the year. Parents with children who are having a hard time understanding that it is better to give than to receive will find that a gift donation is a wonderful way to illustrate that point. Research the charity and share some of the stories with your children and encourage them to share them in turn with the person the donation was made for.

    4. Give gifts with a personal touch. Making something special for someone, whether it’s a hand-knitted sweater or a tin of homemade cookies, or bookends you’ve made, shows you care enough to spend not just money, but time on them. Many unique, one-of-a-kind items can only be bought secondhand. Again, spending your time to research gift ideas tailored to specific people on your list makes your gift extra-special without breaking the budget. Used bookstores, garage and estate sales and secondhand stores should not be overlooked and can yield great bargains.

    5. Go retro with old-fashioned entertaining, decorating, and gift-wrapping ideas. Potluck suppers will allow everyone to contribute to your holiday dinner. Stringing popcorn and cranberry chains for decorating while watching a holiday movie might become your favorite family activity this year. The Sunday comics make wonderful gift-wrap and are a fun way to recycle.

    Make all purchases using cash, check, or debit card. When shopping, leave your credit cards at home so you won’t be tempted to buy something that was not planned and you won’t have to worry about a Red Tuesday when the bills arrive in 2013.


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September 13, 2012

5:26 PM

Marketing: Measuring Your Marketing

Marketing your work is crucial in today's publishing
environment. If you aren't out there marketing
yourself, then your publisher probably won't be either.

You might take a cynical attitude and decide to do a
lousy job marketing, just to get your publisher to do

Or you might take a naive attitude and blindly throw
yourself into marketing without asking whether what
you're doing actually works.

But I believe that if you're going to market yourself,
you should do your best to do it well.

That means that you need to measure what you're doing.
If you don't measure anything, then you have no way of
knowing whether you're doing a good job or a bad one.

How do you measure your marketing?

Marketing has three major steps:
* Attract
* Engage
* Convert

I owe these terms to Michael Alvear's recent book MAKE
A KILLING ON KINDLE. However, he uses these words in a
slightly different way than I do.

Michael is talking in his book about short-term
marketing. This is marketing where the attraction,
engagement, and conversion phases all happen on the
same day. Somebody is attracted to your Amazon page, is
engaged by your product description, and buys the book.
This typically happens in a few minutes.

Short-term marketing is fine, but I believe that
long-term marketing earns you more money in the long
run. Long-term marketing for an author means that you
attract new potential readers, engage them in a
long-term relationship, and then sell them every book
that you ever publish during your long career. It may
take months or years from the time you attract your
audience to the day they finally buy a book.

Here is how I define these terms for long-term

"Attract" means that you somehow get the attention of
your target audience, at least for an instant.

"Engage" means that you actually interest your target
audience in what you have to say, enough so that they
give you permission to continue the conversation.

"Convert" means that you make a sale to your target

You must attract before you can engage. You must engage
before you convert.

Let's look at a few examples of each of these steps and
see which of them we can measure and which we can't.

Some examples of the attraction phase:

* Somebody visits your web site. You can measure this
by looking at your web site statistics. The numbers to
look at are the "page views" and the "visitors". (Only
amateurs look at "hits", which are not a meaningful

* Somebody visits an entry in your blog. You can
measure this by looking at your blog statistics. Again,
you care about page views and visitors.

* Somebody receives a forwarded copy of your email
newsletter. I don't know of any way to measure this.

* Somebody views your Facebook fan page. You can
measure this using Facebook Insights. The number to
look at is the Total Tab Views.

* Somebody sees a retweet of something you posted on
Twitter or hears about your Twitter name in some other
way. I don't know how to measure this.

In each of these examples, somehow or other, a member
of your target audience was exposed to your ideas. It
may have lasted a few seconds. It may have lasted
hours. Many of those exposures had no result.

The ones you care about are those that led to
engagement and eventually to conversion.

As I noted earlier, you can either think short-term or
long-term. In short-term marketing, the engagement and
conversion either happen right away or they don't
happen at all. Let's look at some examples of that
first, and then we'll look at some examples of
long-term engagement and conversion.

Some examples of short-term engagement/conversion:

* Somebody who has never heard of you reads an article
on your web site or blog and finds it so interesting
and useful that they get interested in you and your
writing. They notice an ad for your books on your page,
click through to the product description, and buy a

* Somebody who has never heard of you sees a post on
Facebook or Twitter about your book, clicks the link to
the product description, and buys the book.

In either of these cases, if you want to measure the
process, you need to be able to measure clicks to the
product description and then measure sales.

You can measure clicks by using link-shortener tools
that include statistics. For example, bit.ly or is.gd.
Then you can look at the statistics to see how many
people actually clicked the link and when.

You can measure sales by signing up as an affiliate for
the various online retailers. Then your link to their
sales pages can include your affiliate code. You'll get
a report of all sales made, so you'll know if all those
clicks are actually selling anything. As a bonus,
you'll earn money for each sale.

There is nothing wrong with short-term marketing, but
it's basically a one-shot deal. You either make the
sale or you don't. Making the sale has a low
probability. If you don't, you've lost the potential
customer and may never make a sale to her.

This is why long-term marketing is important. It gives
you more time to engage your target audience and build
a relationship before making a sale.

Some examples of the engagement phase in long-term

* Somebody reads an article on your web site and finds
it so useful and interesting that they subscribe to
your email newsletter. You can measure this by looking
at your new email subscriptions.

* Somebody reads an article on your blog and finds it
so useful and interesting that they subscribe to the
RSS feed on your blog. You can measure this by looking
at your new blog subscriptions.

* Somebody reads a forwarded copy of your email
newsletter and comes to your web site. I don't know of
any way to measure this.

* Somebody Likes your Facebook fan page. You can
measure this by looking at your new Likes.

* Somebody finds your Twitter feed interesting enough
that they follow you on Twitter. You can measure this
by looking at your new Twitter followers.

Some examples of the conversion phase in long-term

* A potential customer has been following you for some
time. They may have been subscribing to your email
newsletter, reading your blog, following you on
Facebook or Twitter. One day, you mention one of your
books and this person decides to check it out. They
click through the link to your product description and
buy the book.

* A potential customer has been following you for some
time. You have a new book that is launching and you've
created a number of incentives for anyone who buys
during your launch period. You send out a notification
via email, your blog, your Facebook fan page, or
Twitter. Your potential customers know you, know that
they want your book, and want the incentives, so they
click through to the sales page and buy it.

You can measure the clicks and the sales exactly as I
described above for short-term marketing.

Notice that with long-term marketing, you have many
chances to make a sale. For as long as your potential
customer stays engaged with you, you have an
opportunity to keep selling. You should not abuse this
by being a pest, nor should you waste the opportunity
completely. Find the right balance.

Why should you measure your marketing efforts?

Because when you measure your marketing, you know if
it's working. And when you make a change, you can tell
if you've improved things or disimproved them.

If you don't measure your marketing, then you're flying

Knowledge is power. Marketing measurements give you
marketing power. You know the drill -- with great power
comes great responsibility, so be a good citizen.

This E-zine is free, and I personally guarantee it's
worth at least 76 times the price. I invite you to
"steal" it, but only if you do it nicely . . .

Distasteful legal babble: This E-zine is copyright
Randall Ingermanson, 2012.

Extremely tasteful postscript: I encourage you to
e-mail this E-zine to any fiction writer friends of
yours who might benefit from it. I only ask that you
e-mail the whole thing, not bits and pieces. Otherwise,
you'll be getting desperate calls at midnight from your
friends asking where they can get their own free

Of course you should not forward this e-mail to people
who don't write fiction. They won't care about it.

At the moment, there is one place to subscribe:


Reprint Rights

Permission is granted to use any of the articles in
this e-zine in your own e-zine or web site, as long as
you include the following 3-paragraph blurb with it:

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced
Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 32,000 readers.
If you want to learn the craft and marketing of
fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to
editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.


Randy Ingermanson
Publisher, Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine
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September 5, 2012

11:45 AM

Rules for Writing

 “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

- W. Somerset Maugham


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August 30, 2012

11:54 AM

How to Be a Writer

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don't care whether they're 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can't be a writer if you're not a reader. It's the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it's for only half an hour — write, write, write.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle
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August 22, 2012

8:03 PM


"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

-- C. S. Lewis

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August 17, 2012

1:06 PM

A Cautionary Tale

The father was doubtful of his son's sudden interest to become Charles Atlas. Nevertheless, he went with the teenager to the sporting goods store to look at weight lifting equipment.

"Please, Dad," begged the boy. "I promise I'll use them every day...."

"I'm not so sure, Danny. You may lose interest before long," his father was quick to point out.

"Ahhhhh...please, Dad?"

"Besides, it's quit
e an expense," the father added.

"I promise, Dad, I'll use them..."

Danny finally won, and his dad paid for the equipment. As the father was leaving the store, he heard his son call out...

"What? You mean I have to carry this stuff to the car?"

This little cautionary tale is from the Aug. 16 issue of "Sales & Motivation: the Ziglar Newsletter."
It points up a problem we humans experience. Whether it involves writing a book, committing heart and soul to our faith, carrying through with a task we've accepted...or whatever, we often fail to count the cost of what we said we would do. And then we let the obligation fade away, uncompleted. Then maybe it's time to redouble and renew our efforts. As Paul the apostle said, "This one thing I do...." It's an idea worth considering.
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August 9, 2012

4:42 PM

New Limited Edition Book on the Texas Navy

If you're a Texas history buff, chances are that you know little of the Texas Navy. A new limited edition book from Copano Bay Press can change that. Title: "God Favors the Bold--Voices of the Texas Navy - 1836-1845."

     The Navy was never more than seven ships, always underfunded and sometimes not funded at all...but it took the battle to the enemy and effectively turned the Gulf of Mexico into the Gulf of Texas. Without her navy, Texas might never have won her independence, and certainly wouldn't have been able to keep it. 

    Yet most Texans know little or nothing about the Texas Navy. If you fall into that group, don’t feel too bad. For some reason, Texas historians have rarely ventured out to sea either.

    So Capano Bay Press decided it was time that the men of the
Texas Navy were allowed to raise their voices and tell their stories...in their own words. They gathered every available first-hand account by the men of the Texas Navy and put them into a single volume. There has never been a book like this. Battles and wrecks. Mutineers and profiteers. Grogging and flogging. Raiding the Mexican coast and capturing prizes. The vain, mundane, and profane. Bravery, duty and above all, honor.

For more info on the limited edition (254 copies), check this link:



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August 7, 2012

4:59 PM

What Makes a Real Writer?

 “Constant work, constant writing and constant revision. The real writer learns nothing from life. He is more like an oyster or a sponge. What he takes in he takes in normally the way any person takes in experience. But it is what is done with it in his mind, if he is a real writer, that makes his art.”

                                              -- Gore Vidal



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