Monday, October 22, 2018

Coming Soon -- My First Audiobook

Mike Serres prepares for the reading. Photo by Gayle Martin.
Technology seems to be changing faster than any of us can keep up with it, and audiobooks have become quite popular. So, I'm in the process of producing my first audiobook, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone. This novella for young readers was my first published fiction book, which makes it the perfect choice for my first audiobook. 

Two good friends, Mike Serres and Joe Murphy, are the readers. Well known in the Tucson, Arizona music scene for their bands, Five Way Street, The CS&M Trio, and The Tributaries, Mike and Joe also have experience in broadcast radio. Mike is doing the narration, while Joe provides the voices for all the characters. It is, after all, a children's book, so the audio version should be fun and entertaining for the listener.

We've completed the recording and the project has gone into post production. Since this is still uncharted waters it may be awhile before the book is available, and once it is, you'll be the first to know. In the meantime, stay tuned.

GM



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Is Writing a Memoir a Good Idea?


Writing memoirs has become a popular trend. Back when I was publishing books for other authors it seemed like most of my inquiries came from people wanting to write their memoirs. My advice today is the same as what I gave back then. Ask yourself what is it about your life story that's so compelling that other people would be interested in reading it? It's a question you need to answer honestly before proceeding any further.

Our life's journey is certainly interesting to us. After all, we're the star of our own show, but I want to be brutally honest here. No one, other than your immediate family, and perhaps your closest friends, really cares about how wonderful your spouse is or how smart your kids are. Nor does anyone care about the details of everything you did on that uneventful cruise to Hawaii. So, the first thing you need to do is to check your ego at the door.

Have you overcome an obstacle that's beyond the ordinary? For instance, have you survived a violent crime? Did you survive an accident or horrible disease that would have been fatal to most people? Have you traveled to some faraway, exotic destination, such as Antarctica, that few will ever see? Were you ever a first responder? Were you ever in showbiz? Have you had some other extraordinary life experience that few people ever will? Most importantly, would your story be an inspiration to others? If your answer to any of these questions is, "yes," then perhaps you should give some serious thought to writing a memoir.

People read books because they want to be entertained, inspired, or because they want to learn something new. In other words, your memoir has to include something out of the ordinary, and there has to be something in it for the reader. Ideally, it should be a story that inspires others, and perhaps changes people's lives for the better.


GM

Monday, September 24, 2018

It's Time to Go Without a Net

© Can Stock Photo / airn
Once upon a time I used to advise other writers that if the .com name they wanted wasn't available to the get the .net extension instead. At the time .net websites were fairly common, and whenever I registered a new domain, I would, as a precaution, get both .com and .net versions to prevent someone else with the same, or similar, name as mine from getting the .net and creating confusion.

The Internet, however, is an ever changing landscape. What may have worked five years ago, or even last year, may not apply today, and such is the case with the .net extension. Over time we've learned that people will automatically go to .com out of habit, even when .net was clearly posted. It's sort of like my name, Gayle. Not a bad name, I suppose, but it has the less common spelling, and no matter how many times I spell it out for people, they still give me the more common, "Gail," rather than the correct spelling of "Gayle."

So, with that in mind, please disregard my earlier advice. From what I'm seeing, the .net extension is rapidly becoming extinct, and you certainly don't want to make yourself look dated. If the .com isn't available, you'll have to come up with a different variation. If you're an author, try adding, "author" "writer," or "books" to you name. And even if the .com version of your name is available, I'd still recommend getting authoryourname.com or yournamebooks.com with it, just in case. Domain names usually aren't that expensive, but they are crucial for building your brand and promoting your book, so it doesn't hurt to grab as much Internet real estate as you possibly can. 

GM

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Is Entering Your Book in an Awards Competition a Good Idea?

From time to time my email box fills up with calls to enter various book awards, and I'll admit to having mixed feelings about entering. So, here's my list of pros and cons about book awards.

Pros

I've entered competitions in the past and my books have won awards. And I'm not going to lie to you. There's nothing quite like the euphoria of knowing that your book beat out dozens, if not hundreds, of other entries. Awards are also a nice marking tool. There's nothing like having that award sticker proudly displayed on your book cover. In fact, I've included one of mine. Not to brag, but to point out that there is a downside to winning a book award.

Cons

I won the award in 2007, but by 2010 it was making my book look dated, and I've since dropped the award from my cover.

The other big con is the cost. The last time I tried to enter a book award competition the early bird entry fee was $90. They also wanted four printed copies of the book, so by the time I added in the cost of the books, and my best guestimate for the postage, I realized I'd be spending at least $120, if not more. Just to enter one title, in one category. Competitions aren't without risk, and as I thought it over again I realized I'd be better off spending that $120 dollars on advertising my book. 

So, is entering a book award competition a good idea? It's up to you to decide. If you have the inclination, and the budget, then by all means go for it. Who knows? Your book could be a winner. But if you're not sure, or if you don't have the money, then don't. While it's nice to win an award, it's no guarantee that you'll sell more books. 

GM

Monday, July 16, 2018

My New Website and Why You Should Have One As Well

Along with my blogs, I have a website which, from time to time, needs updating, and this time around it was a real doozy as I migrated it to a new, and much better, platform. 

Some of you may be wondering why an author needs both a website and a blog. It's because each serves a different purpose. As someone once explained to me, a website is like wearing formal business attire, while a blog is more like a pair of blue jeans. In other words, your website is more professional and, in my opinion, the best place for prospective readers to find out more about your books, quickly and easily. My website address is printed on the back of all my book covers and a link is included in my ebook editions. I can also control the SEO much easier with my website than I can with my blogs. 

My blogs are where I talk in detail about my writing and my books, and where I can engage more one-on-one with readers. Links to my blogs are included on my website, and I post links to my blog posts on social media. And while blogs are more personal, someone who's simply looking for more information about me, or my books, may find blogs problematic as they may think they have to weed through dozens of articles to find what they're looking for. This is why I have both a website, and a blog.

My website is goodoakpress.com, and I hope you'll stop by and take a look.

GM








Sunday, July 8, 2018

Knowing When to Quit, Part Two

Photo by CanStockPhoto
In my earlier post, Knowing When to Quit, Part One, I talked about redundancy. This time I'll discuss another way to overwork a story -- creating over the top scenarios or plot lines, which don't connect well with the earlier story. This can be especially problematic when you're writing a series. There simply comes a point when your story, even if it's a series, has to end. Otherwise it may become absurd or even bizarre.

A good example is a story familiar to most of us. Star Trek.

I grew up watching the original Star Trek. The characters, human and alien, were interesting and believable; so much so that they've became iconic. However, by the third season, the writers seemed to be running out of ideas, and the ridiculous storylines in some of the episodes hurt the integrity of the series. NBC cancelled the show. It then went into syndication where its following grew. The movies started about ten years later. The original characters were back, but they were older and had changed over time, which kept them interesting. The final original cast film, The Undiscovered Country, completed their storyline with a well thought out ending. In the meantime, three new television series, Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, created a plethora of interesting new characters with plenty of potential for exciting new stories. They were followed by a series of movies featuring the Next Generation cast.

Sadly, it was all lost, at least for me, with Star Trek Enterprise, and the current movie series. Enterprise, the fifth TV serieswas a prequel, and prequels, regardless of the genre, can be problematic. To me, it was lackluster, and I soon lost interest. The new movies, also prequels, featured younger versions of the original characters. They too were disappointing. The stories take place in a "parallel universe," so all of the interesting back-story established in the original series is gone. I found it too confusing, and certainly not the Star Trek I'd known and loved for decades. 

This is what happens when you run out of ideas. You lose the integrity of your story, and you risk losing your following. As storytellers, the two hardest words for us to write  are, "The End," but write them we must, as all stories must end. Otherwise, in the words on my college painting professor, you really can turn your work into mud.

GM




Sunday, July 1, 2018

So Who's Responsible for Marketing Your Book?

From time to time I get into rather interesting conversations with authors lamenting the fact that their book simply isn't selling they way they'd expected. My response is to ask them what they'd done to market their book. Oftentimes their response was that they hadn't done anything. Many authors, especially newbies, honestly believe that all they have to do was list their book on Amazon, and people would come along to buy it.

"Build it and they will come," may have worked in the movie Field of Dreams, but that mindset simply doesn't apply in the business of selling books. Nor is it up to your publisher to go out and sell your book for you. They can distribute it, but unless you, the author, go out and do some marketing, your book won't sell. Fortunately there are many things that you, the author, can and should be doing to help promote your book. 

  • Have a website or a blog, or both, about your book.
  • Promote your book on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.
  • Listing your book on other websites such as Goodreads.
  • Book signings.
  • Contests and giveaways.
  • Book Trailers.
  • Advertising.

If you only do one item on this list, make it a website. Depending on your budget, you can do a simple, do it yourself blog website on WordPress.org or Blogger.com, virtually for free, or you can hire a webmaster and have a state of the art website will all the bells and whistles. 

Social media is an absolute must as well. It costs nothing to open account on Facebook and Twitter, and Facebook author pages are free as well. Keep in mind, however, it takes time to build a following on social media, so don't expect instant results. I have, however found Facebook advertising to be very affordable and a nice tool for building my brand. I've also found contests and giveaways to be a nice marketing tool as well. From time to time I do giveaways on Amazon, and it typically results in more book sales.

If you have the means you can certainly hire a publicist, but be sure that he or she has experience in book promotion, as book promotion is different from other kinds of public relations. Also be sure to talk to them about the cost. Some firms may charge as much as $3000 a month for their services. Others charge much less, and may do just as good of a job as the higher-priced publicists.

No one ever said marketing a book would be easy, especially in a time when anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can upload a Word file onto Amazon Kindle and call him or herself an author. However, unless your name is Stephen King, James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, don't expect people bust down the doors to buy your book just because you've listed it on Amazon. You really do have to get off your fanny and do some work.


GM