Books, Publishing, and the Creative Life

Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Grace Revealed: A Powerful, Haunting Memoir

Grace Revealed

by , author of FOR I HAVE SINNED A Cate Harlow Private Investigation    

Published in The Huffington Post, 1/13/15

Grace Revealed FrontCvr FINALThere is something in the human heart that has an unconscious yearning to know about the past, most specifically our own family’s past. Who hasn’t looked at old, faded pictures of relatives long gone and wondered about their lives? Who were these people? What were their lives like? What were the joys and sorrows of those lives? The need to know is palpable.

It is also a matter of curiosity. It is part of our heritage, and part of who we are.

We have all heard childhood stories about our parents and grandparents. Greg Archer was a child of 5 when he first heard stories of how his mother, her sisters, and three of her brothers had endured some type of “adventure” when they were children. But the adventures of our parents and grandparents seem so distant; hearing about them is similar to hearing fairy tales that begin, “Long, long ago….”

Even when we become adults, the fairy-tale guise of what happened to the past generation keeps us safe from reality. Archer so perfectly captures this feeling: He says that when he received a floppy disc from his mother’s brother detailing an account of the “adventure,” “it smacked of an ethereal fairy-tale filled with a mythic villain in dark corners of the universe. It had been comfortably out of reach, a safe distance away from me.”

Still, impressive and exotic-sounding words like “Siberia,” “Uzbekistan,” and “Tanganyika” piqued his interest and settled in his subconscious. The subconscious has a way of remembering for us and retrieves what we once heard or saw at some future given time.

In Grace Revealed: A Memoir, Archer first takes us on his own prolific journey of self-discovery as a journalist, an adventure that all writers seem to take at one time or another. From his Polish-American roots in Chicago to California to Hawaii and back, he experiences an interesting, eclectic mix of life and people. It is perhaps this journey of self that eventually leads him to another journey, a very human one to discover the reality of his family’s strength and endurance under harsh and extreme circumstances.

Archer, author and award-winning journalist, has brought to bear all his remarkable journalistic skills to tell the story of the haunting and heart-wrenching journey he undertook to discover his Polish family’s past during the terror-filled time of Stalin and the Russian ruler’s ruthless actions across Eastern Europe. Stalin was a monster whose actions were soul-destroying and dignity-shredding. Those who survived were forever scarred, emotionally and physically.

greg-archer 2Whatever journey we undertake usually begins with some small detail. The first step of Archer’s journey began with a broken picture frame that held pictures of his grandmother, his mother, and his aunts. Broken glass, possibly symbolic of freeing those held within the frame, the author muses. A spark has been lit, and the need to know more about these relatives and what they experienced grows. Is the broken frame a sign from the divine, gently pushing him to research his family? A sure sign from the universe? Possibly so. And so the story begins, and it is a memorable one.

Archer’s family in Poland lived through the horror of Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of nearly 2 million Polish citizens to the Siberian gulags, and from there to the Middle East and Eastern Africa. Stalin’s reign of terror is an incredibly under-reported atrocity of the 1940s, a time when most of the world was preoccupied with World War II. As Archer’s Uncle John often told him, “Most of the world knows what Hitler did to the Jews, but hardly anybody knows what Stalin did to our people.”

The author admirably bridges the present and the past as he undertakes an overseas trek to the ancestral country hoping that he himself can become a saving grace to the past generation and hoping that, by telling their story, he might bring them some type of peace.

Greg Archer does bring a healing to his family and others like them by writing the story, because, like all stories of life, no matter how cruel and heartbreaking the adventure may be, there are always some parts of it that hold hope and even laughter. The author asks only that we not forget the truth of the past. He says:

“I think in this current era in which we live, especially in America, we all seem to be so busy and so wrapped up in social media and technology. I think it’s vital we continue to share stories of historical significance and nuance that illuminate the power of the human spirit and what it is capable of, that pure radiance within us that can overcome and face anything, no matter what.”

Out of the ashes of despair and heartache, the author creates a must-read story of the indomitable spirit of humanity that he finds in abundance in his own family.

Purchase Grace Revealed    Learn more about the book:    Learn more about the author:  

Copyright 2015 Kristen Houghton

Read Kristen’s award-winning new thriller For I Have Sinned (A Cate Harlow Private Investigation), available now.

Are You Ready to Publish?

If only it was this easy!

If only it was this easy!

If you’re an author who wants to publish soon, don’t let all the free, helpful advice from writers, publishers, and vendors persuade you to launch a book without taking the proper steps. Many published authors wish theycould take back ugly book covers, unedited stories, and cheesy book titles.  Even worse, many other published authors don’t even KNOW how horrible their books are.

If you’re getting close to publication, consider these eleven points:

EDITING: Has your manuscript been edited by a professional? This is a vital step for all writers, and even more important if you plan to self-publish. Your cousin who’s an English teacher and works cheap does not count as a professional editor.  A professional editor will go beyond finding typos and provide critical feedback you won’t get from friends and relatives.

INDUSTRY RESEARCH: Stay abreast of trends and changes inside the publishing industry by following news reports, blogs, and your favorite publishers’ web sites.

KNOW YOUR GENRE: What authors are hot in your genre? Why are they doing so well?  Who’s reading their books? Study these writers and learn why they’re successful. If your book doesn’t fit a specific genre, that’s a problem. A book without a genre is handicapped from the start.

ARE YOU MARKETING NOW?  You should already be marketing by networking, building a fan base, and making contacts. I know this is a challenge  for introverted writers—Self publishing 1but that’s another good reason to start early. Even as you write the book, begin reaching out to other writers and fans in your genre.  With over 300,000 books published every year, you can’t depend on good luck to sell a new title. If you hire a publicist, you’ll still need to carry on by yourself once the initial marketing push is over.

WRITE A PROPOSAL WITH A MARKETING PLAN: Even if you plan to self-publish, you should create a traditional book proposal for your own use.  The proposal should include a one-page summary of your book, a comparison to other books, a marketing plan, an author biography, and broad chapter outlines.  Are you writing a novel or memoir? Do a proposal anyway.  You’ll be glad you did. (You can find half a dozen excellent books on writing the perfect proposal).

SET MODEST GOALS: Many authors fall into despair and stop marketing when don’t sell a thousand books the first month or make the Amazon bestseller list. Be happy with local book signings, reviews, and accolades.  Keep reaching for the stars, but remember you first have to launch something. Book sales are never guaranteed and no one (not even the big publishers) can predict what will happen with a book. Fame is almost always created by hard work and perseverance. Follow the blogs of successful authors like Hugh Howey and J.A. Konrath, who clawed their way to top and now help other writers.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Is book publishing just a check mark on your bucket list? If so, then finish your book, give it away to family and friends, sell a few copies, and move on. But if you’re passionately committed to writing and publishing—if you were born with a writing gene—then settle in for a long trip. Learn the craft, study the markets, join groups, and cultivate patience.

self publishing 3 BE PATIENT: Did I mention this before? Impatience can damage the relationship with your publisher and (if you’re self-publishing) cause you to turn out a shoddy product because you don’t wait to get things right. Everything in book publishing and marketing takes a while. Getting a book into print can be tedious and exacting. And then, when the initial excitement wears off, you wonder why the book isn’t selling the way you expected. You’re embarrassed and discouraged—tempted to give up. Publishers know it can take years to make back the money we invest in a book. If you stop marketing, you may never show a profit. Some books are slow starters, build momentum, and eventually begin selling. Other books catch on when a news story makes them timely.  Still other books begin selling when the author’s next book attracts new fans.

COVER DESIGN: Don’t go cheap, and don’t do it yourself.  Enough said.

BE SAVVY: Self-published authors support an industry of  printers, designers, editors, publicists, and firms that want to do everything for you. Amazon, Ingram, Author self publishing 5House, Writers Digest—the list is almost endless. Remember, the products they produce are only as good as the material you give them. Make sure you know what you’re paying for and check the competition before you invest.

YOUR NEXT BOOK: Plan on releasing another book within six months to a year. This will help you stop obsessing about book sales and give you something to talk about online.


As a publisher who loves books, I beg you to perform due diligence with your work, especially if you’re an author-publisher.  As Chuck Wendig says in a blog rant:

Publishing isn’t an art — publishing is a business. A creative business, a weird business, but a business just the same, and so it behooves you to treat this like a business and to put out the best work you can. The overall property values of a neighborhood go up when you tend to your own yard — the more author-publishers who commit to doing their best and not just regurgitating warm story-barf into every conceivable nook and cranny of the Internet are going to contribute to an overall improvement. If you want the stink out of the air, spray a little perfume, you know? In short: we can all do better, so do better.”

attitude-affects-workSammie Justesen is a publisher with NorLightsPress and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014. She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A great investment for writers


Author Collaboration, For Better or Worse

Author collaboration 2NorLightsPress has published several books as collaborations between two authors and/or artists. In most cases this is a win-win-win situation, but not always. A few of our authors have ended up hating each other. A book partnership can quickly turn dysfunctional when the partners fail to work out certain things in advance.  Then they find themselves squabbling over a book that binds them together, for better or worse. Consider these possible scenarios:

You write the entire book and then your partner decides it shouldn’t be published, for whatever reason.

Your partner decides she wants cash up front from you (a buyout) instead of half the royalties.

Your partner doesn’t meet deadlines and you end up doing most of the work, yet she still wants her name on the book and half the royalties.

You and your partner can’t agree whether to self- publish or seek a traditional publisher.

Your partner is obsessive about details and you’re the opposite. You drive each other nuts.

Your partner turns out to be crazy. (This happens more often than you’d believe).

At NorLightsPress, we suffer along with the authors when personal feuds erupt. If a publisher senses there will be legal issues over royalties, negative comments in social media, and overall bad feelings about a book—they will cancel your book contract in a heartbeat.

How can authors avoid collaboration hell? The post below from Helen Sedwick is the best advice I’ve seen for working with other writers, artists, and editors.

21 Tips for Creating a Successful Writing Collaboration

Author collaboration 1 By Helen Sedwick for (Joel Friedlander’s excellent web page)

When a writing collaboration works, partners inspire and complement one other. The creative process is less lonely. But when collaborations fail, the drama may be as ugly as a Hollywood divorce.

For every successful writing partnership, there are dozens of failed ones despite the best of intentions. Not everyone is a team player, and not every team is a winner.

To improve the odds of a successful writing partnership take the time to put the collaboration agreement in writing. Most people resist this idea. Like a prenuptial agreement, it kills the romance. They don’t realize the process of preparing an agreement may be more valuable than the result. If writers do a good job discussing issues at the start, they are less likely to have misunderstandings later.

Making Decisions

So before you jump into a co-writing project, discuss and write out the following:

  1. Describe the Project
    Fiction, nonfiction, memoir? Try to craft your elevator speech. Even better, create an outline.
  2. Draw a Creations Box
    I mean this literally. Draw a box and write down what creations are inside the box (and project) and what creations are outside the box and may be used by the partners separately. Sequels, prequels, and competitive works? What about rejected ideas, characters, and scenes?
  3. Discuss Personal Goals
    The most successful partners share common goals. If one partner’s objective is to make money with a genre piece and the other dreams of creating literature, expect friction. I suppose the partners might agree that their diverging goals will be complementary, but head-butting may be unavoidable.
  4. Describe the Writing Process
    Will one partner write out the story in narrative form, and the other flesh out scenes and dialogue? Will you draft chapters and trade them for comments? Some writers work well brainstorming together; others prefer a silent room. How often and how will you meet?
  5. Set Ground Rules for Critiques
    How will you give and receive criticism and comments? Some partners handle bluntness and sarcasm without missing a beat, but most require a gentler touch. The longer you work together, the easier it gets. Remember your partner’s criticism may be a gift; she cares enough to help make the work better.
  6. Set Realistic Deadlines
    Expect the project to take at least twice as long as planned.
  7. Specify Ownership
    Unless you agree otherwise, all partners own equal shares in jointly-created work. Plus each partner has the power to sell or license the work without the other partner’s consent (although income must be shared). Yes, a partner who contributes 5% gets an equal share UNLESS you agree otherwise. Put your ownership percentages in writing. Agree that no partner may sell, license, or transfer any interest in the project without the consent of the other partner. Register the copyright under all names, or the pen name, or all of the above.
  8. Allocate Income
    I recommend the partner who had the original idea own the majority interest, even if it is a token amount (51%/49% split). That little bit saves resentment later. If one partner handles readings and conferences that partner should keep a larger portion of sales made at the events.
  9. Decide on Credits
    Will both names appear on the work and in what order? Will credits be listed as A and B, A with B, or A as told to B? Will you use a pen name?
  10. Deal With Expenses
    If one partner pays for research, editing, design, and marketing, does that partner recoup expenses before income is shared? If income never covers expenses, does the other partner kick in his share?
  11. Assign Non-Writing Tasks
    Who will engage editors and designers, negotiate contracts, handle interviews, and manage social media? Assign tasks. Don’t take the shortcut of saying responsibilities will be shared equally. It never happens. People gravitate to the tasks they do better, and unpleasant work will be left undone.
  12. Plan for Conflict
    You will have disagreements. View them as a sign that something is not working in the manuscript. Listen to each other. Let go of your ego, and look at the problem a new way, your partner’s way. If you cannot agree, decide up front who gets the final say. If the project was one partner’s idea, typically that partner decides. Or pick a third party trusted by both sides.
  13. No Door Slamming
    Agree that neither of you will quit without giving the other party notice of what’s not working and a chance to fix it. Respect requests for cooling-off periods.
  14. Address Legal Responsibilities
    Each partner should promise that all work contributed will be original, will not be defamatory or infringing, and will not invade privacy or other rights. If the partner breaches, that partner should cover costs and liabilities. Don’t be foolish about this. If your partner introduces material you suspect is problematic, rewrite it or reject it. No matter what your agreement says, both of you may be responsible to third parties.
  15. Call it a Collaboration
    Although I have referred to writing partners, the agreement should state that the parties are collaborating for a specified project and are not creating a general partnership.
  16. Face Death or Disability
    What if one of you gets hit by the proverbial bus? Does the other have the right to finish the project with an equitable adjustment in ownership and income? Does all decision-making authority transfer to the surviving partner, or will the heirs or representatives of the deceased or disabled partner have a say?
  17. Deal with Termination
    If the partnership terminates, who owns the work? Who has the right to complete the project? There are no right answers here. The partners need to talk this out.

Respect and Communicationauthor collaboration 3

A writing partnership is like any other relationship; it thrives on respect and communication. As you work on the project, keep the following in mind:

  1. Nip Resentment in the Bud
    If you are feeling unfairly burdened, take the chance of bringing it up. The sooner the better.
  2. Let the little stuff slide
    Entering into a collaboration involves giving up some control. Your partner may have a different approach to a scene, character, or problem. Consider that a good thing. This is why you are working as a team. Laugh together, especially when everything is going wrong.
  3. Reward Yourselves
    When you finish each chapter, share a bottle of champagne. When you complete the first draft, take yourselves out to dinner.
  4. Keep Communicating
    Years ago, a friend told me the motto of a happy marriage: “I can’t read your f**king mind!” The same is true in writing collaborations.

Sammie Justesen is a publisher with NorLightsPress and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014. She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

New review of Dialogue for Writers

This is a wonderful little book. I’ve published five books — three medical books and two literary books — and I thought I had figured it all out,until I ran into this little treasure titled: Dialogue For Writers. Like Justesen, I too learned that clumsy substitutes for the verb “said” interrupt the flow, but that became even more clear when I read this comprehensive book — an absolutely must-have tool for every would-be author. This book can transform a writer into an author, so every writer must have this precious book on their desk. The book reminded me of another essential book every author must have: Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style– yes, that’s where this book fits in terms of utility.

I was surprised at the fluidity of this how-to book.  That’s because Justesen sounds like an admonishing, warm teacher; as if she is talking to you, saying “Oh,c’mon! you can do better than that !” No I’ll always remember that my character’s words are the most important elements of their personalities–without lengthy taglines or repetitive adverbs.

Justesen makes convincing arguments and cites apropos examples to convince readers about following book-saving, story-salvaging points:

1.First person lends itself well to internal monologue, but don’t fall in love with the character’s lengthy internal thoughts.
2.Use Silence. Sometime it reveals more than what could be said by a plethora of words (What? this comes from an author of the book on dialogue? Correct! It shows Sammie’s honesty and forthrightness).
3.It’s okay to use disjointed, broken sentences because that’s how people normally talk.
4.Make sure character’s speech sounds natural and reflects his/her personality, background and circumstances.
5. And finally, use dialects and slang sparingly, because alittle goes a long way.

Reading this book was a delight. It does not have the plot of a thriller or mystery but it is so funny, so convincing and at the same time so educating. It was an enjoyable, rewarding experience. I recommend this book to writers as well as non-writers, or to anyone who wants to effectively communicate by using just the right word at the right time with just the right emphasis.

Kudos to Sanmie Justesen.     –Sattar Memon, M.D.

Do REAL Publishers Sell Books to Authors?


Do REAL publishers sell books to authors?

The answer is “YES, of course we do.”

I thought this was a no-brainer until I read a recent Internet post by a yet-to-be-published writer. In a diatribe against publishers, he said, “A legitimate publisher would never sell books to their authors.”

Maria Ross (Branding Basics for Small Business) uses her book to gain clients

Maria Ross (Branding Basics for Small Business) uses her book to gain clients

That’s totally false.

Like every other “real” publisher, we happily sell books to our authors at the same discount we give bookstores. The writers are free to either sell the books for profit at special events, or give them away. These are examples of how our authors take advantage of this opportunity:

  1. A business author purchased 3,000 copies of his book as gifts for students at his alma mater.
  2. Another author purchased 50 books to give away to friends and family who helped on his journey to becoming a writer.
  3. A scholastic author purchases books to sell at the back of the room after her lectures.
  4. Parenting authors purchase books to sell (or include in a packet) at their parenting workshops.
  5. Two of our fitness authors sell books at their studio.
  6. One author owns a bookstore. Naturally, he buys books for the store.
  7. A business professional gives books to prospective clients.
  8. One author gives away books on her radio show.
  9.  We drop ship boxes of books to convention halls where one of our authors sells them after her speeches.

We can’t afford to give away hundreds of books for our authors, but we understand their desire to have books on hand, to make extra profit beyond royalties, to sell books at special events, and to give away books as they see fit.

A publisher who sells books to authors at a discount is not the same as self- publishing, where the author pays for editing, formatting, cover design, and the publisher’s time. So don’t be alarmed if your publishing contract mentions author book sales.  Be happy!  It’s a great way for you to make even more money than your royalties will provide.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.


Branding Tips for Writers

A bullhorn or Megaphone trumpeting a product's or comapny's branBranding is not just for huge business firms like Pepsi and Coke. If you truly want to succeed in the world of publishing it’s  never too early to think about branding yourself. As Seth Godin points out, “your brand is the promise, the experience, the interactions, and the expectation people have for you.”

A brand is how you differentiate yourself from other authors in the same genres. Stephen King has a brand. Seth Godin has a brand. The Harry Potter series is a brand.YOU can have one too. And that means you should think about branding the moment you begin writing. You will want to write a book proposal for your work (even if it’s fiction), and let that become your business plan–a preview of who you are and how you want to be known.

Six Branding Tips

These tips are from Nina Amir, a contributing writer for She is also the author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, which help transform writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs.  You can learn more about Nina here.

  1. Here’s how you start: Think about how you want to be known as a writer. To determine this, consider:
    • the types of writing you want to do
    • the subjects about which you want to write
    • the types of stories you want to tell
    • themes you want to cover in your work
    • ways in which you want to serve you readers
    • the clients or customers you want to attract
    • the spin-off books (sequels or series) you would like to publish
    • your values
    • your interests
    • your passion
    • your purpose

Does something stand out? Is there one quality, topic or aspect you’d like to highlight so you become known for it? If so, this is a good place to start. You then can create logos, taglines and websites that feature and Isa_Adney_on_Personal_Brandinghighlight this concept so you become known for it. This becomes your brand. Or try to answer this question: “How would I like to be known?” Do you want to be “The ___ Coach,” “The ___ Writer” or “The ___ Expert,” for example? Or will you brand around your name alone?

  1. Decide what books you’ll write.

Another way to brand yourself is by writing more than one book about a certain topic or theme. Your sequels or series will highlight who you are and what you write about.  To brand yourself in this manner, brainstorm all the different books you might possibly write. Then take a “big picture” view of this material:

    • How do these books fit together? By a theme or a subject?
    • Can you group any of them together?
    • Can you find one overriding thread that holds them together?
    • Can you describe that thread (or theme) in one sentence or in a phrase?
    • Can this become your “branding statement”?

Here again, you could become known as “The ___ Writer.” Think of the knitting writers and the Amish romance writers, for example.

3. Create a website or blog that helps build or strengthen your brand. A blog works as a website, and every author needs an author website. Purchase a URL with your name so readers and the media easily can find you. However, if you also are branding with a tag line or some sort of expert status, you may want to purchase that URL and redirect it. Then design your site with colors, words, phrases, and images that make it easy for someone to know what you’re about. Your site’s title and tagline should make this clear as well. For example, Michael Hyatt’s tagline is “Helping leaders leverage influence.” That’s pretty clear branding. Additionally, write posts on topics or themes related to your brand to help strengthen it and make your site more discoverable by readers doing searches. Again, Hyatt’s site is a good example of this. People who visit your site should immediately “get it.” They should understand what you stand for, what you write about, and any other messages you want to get across. Here are a few sites to check out:

    • R.L. Stine. He’s done a fabulous job of branding himself with a website. He’s even used music!
    • Cindy Woodsmall’s website. No question what she writes about.
    • Jack Canfield’s message is enormously clear right from his banner and throughout all his content and products and services.
  1. Use your brand statement across all your social networks. Use the same title, tag line, photo and colors, etc., across all your social networks, as well as in articles, videos, and guest post, and always provide a link “home.” This helps you get you known quickly and easily and is another way to strengthen your brand once you’ve developed it. And tie everything you do back to your author website.

Carla King has used her “adventuring” brand across all her social networks as MissAdventuring. Her books and websites help her strengthen her brand as well.

  1. Ask others for help. If you have difficulty creating a brand for yourself, ask those who know you best for help. Ask readers, clients, customers, and friends the following:
    1. What do you perceive as my values?
    2. What are my strong points?
    3. What do I do for you?
    4. What benefit do you get from my books, work, courses, products, or services?
    5. How would you describe me?

Take this information—if you like what you hear and it works for you—and craft it into a brand. If you don’t like what you hear, it’s time to think about how to create a different perception than you haphazardly have done in the past. 

brand umbrella6. Create an umbrella for all you do—even if you do a lot. It can be easier for nonfiction writers than fiction writers to develop brands. Yet, many nonfiction writers choose to write about a variety of topics, and this can make it difficult for them to brand themselves as well. Fiction writers who publish across genres may find themselves in the same quandary. However, it’s still possible to find an “umbrella theme” to tie everything together into a brand even if you write about two or three subjects, write fiction or write across genres.

  • As a novelist, you might write novels that appear to be unrelated. You could weave similar themes, topics, issues, or locations into them. For example, think about weaving your love of orchids into both your momlit and your thrillers. Could that brand you?
  • Your momlit could have a main character who runs an orchid shop.
  • Your thrillers could have a main character who leaves orchid blooms at the scene of the crime.
  • You could cross over into nonfiction by writing a nonfiction book how to care for orchids.
  • Or all your books could take place in England; or could discuss family values or politics. You could draw on your law degree or your former life as a nurse. If you write nonfiction about organic gardening, travel and business, you might be able to write books that:
    1. Eating organic in foreign countries
    2. Organic business practices
    3. New organic gardening techniques

Of course, the more books you write with these themes or elements in place, the stronger your brand becomes. By choosing something—like the orchid or organics—to run through all your books, you strengthen your brand with every title you release. And don’t forget to place a picture of an orchid or an organic garden on your website and use that word in your tag line. Write blog posts about orchids and organics. Before long, everyone will know you as the Orchid Author or the Organic Author. That’s branding. Brand 2

Sell More Books with a Brand Why bother branding? For the same reasons big box and small box companies bother: It helps sell products. A brand helps potential readers know, like, and trust you. And remember: Your brand is you. It’s a way to help readers know you—authentically. You aren’t creating some fake ad or new persona. Your Brand helps readers understand who you are and what you and your books stand for—and what type of books you write. That makes it easier for them to decide to purchase those books. That means your books will get read. And that’s the ultimate goal.


Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers


She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.


The Publishing Process

Publishing is a big step

Publishing is a big step


Last night we met with a local group of writers and spent an hour answering their questions. We love meeting authors and hearing their concerns.  To our surprise, much of what they wanted to know concerned the basic publishing process and how things work. By what magic do publishers turn manuscripts into books? There must be other aspiring authors who have the same questions, so here’s the publishing process in a nutshell:

  • First, the publisher receives either a manuscript or a book proposal.  What is a book proposal, you ask?  In many cases, you don’t have to actually write the book up front—you send publishers a proposal for the book.  This is a win/win situation.  While writing the proposal you focus on creating an overview of the book, how you’ll sell it, who will buy it, and how your
    Our favorite how-to on book proposals by Michael Larsen

    Our favorite how-to on book proposals by Michael Larsen

    book will measure up against the competition.

  • If the publisher likes your work, a publishing contract is signed. The publisher may sign a contract with you based on a proposal or a finished manuscript. This contract will contain a due date for your work.
  • Once a publisher receives your manuscript, their work begins. Editing is the first step. For large publishers this process can take months because your work will be in line with many others.  For smaller publishers like NorLightsPress, editing takes from three to six weeks.  You and the editor will go back and forth over the text, but the publisher has the final word on how things will be.
  •  Meanwhile, you and the publisher will be working on cover design. You will have input, but not every publisher has time to work with your ideas. Some do; some don’t.
  • If your book contains photographs the publisher will need high resolution images for the printer. You’ll be expected to provide these. You may use stock photos.
  • After editing, the book is  formatted into a PDF file. This is the pre-printing stage and you’ll have a chance to read through the manuscript again. Now you’ll see the pages as they will appear in the book.
  • When last minute changes are completed, the publisher submits a PDF file to the printer to generate proof copies. You and the publisher review the proof copy for errors.
  • At last! The proof copy is approved and the publisher can order books. Soon your book goes “live” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sellers.
  • Your book file is formatted for eBooks and submitted to those sites for sale.
  • Are you marketing?  Hopefully you stayed busy creating a marketing platform and sending out feelers.

    This is just the beginning!

    This is just the beginning!

NOW, you can start book signings, interviews, blogs, and conference speeches. Never leave home without books! This is when your work truly begins. Holding your first book is an amazing thing.  Sharing it with the world can be daunting. Have a plan, and work your plan!

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers


About Sammie Justesen

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A recent review of Dialogue for Writers

What I left with after reading Sammie’s book is a brain swimming with ideas she has generously shared based on her years of experience in all aspects of the industry. She shows us, not just tells us, with style, humor and an easy, comfortable voice. Her examples bring the points to life. Sammie indeed practices what she preaches, and shares with us as reader and writer a fun to read and handy compilation based on experience and insight.   –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild andThe Last of the Living Blue


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