Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

When I was thinking of the title for this week’s post, I realized I really needed to look it up and confirm that the word is “peace” and not “piece.” Just in case.

I’d forgotten that that expression is commonly used in weddings…ironic, since my lovely wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary today. (Don’t worry, faithful reader: I’m not in the dog house yet, as my wife rarely has time to read my blog).

The reason I thought of speaking is simple – I had a speaking engagement just over a week ago, and, like most writers with the business model of Author/Speaker/Coach, I’m looking to do it again.

Not sure if I actually opened with a joke, but I did make mention early on in my talk of the fear of public speaking. The common statistic is that the #1 fear on people’s lists of worst fears is public speaking, followed by death at #2. Of course, it could actually be deathcaused by having to speak! That was the joke I made.

Except it’s not really a joke. Because most people find the prospect of speaking in front of a group so terrifying – even if they are well-prepared with notes and have spent time rehearsing – I thought it best to spend a little time on it.

Personally, I love being in front of a group, especially when there’s a podium like the one below. If I have a microphone, that’s fine, but if not…no problem. I can be loud.

So, why do I like this kind of event? Is it my natural writers’ inclination for attention? My love of the sound of my own voice?

No. Actually, I’m just as much an introvert as the next author. The reason I love it, the real reason, is because I know I can do it and feel that I’ve been reasonably successful. And that means preparation.

Sure, I had a year of Oral Interpretation in college, and have done some theatre. But the reason I can do this kind of thing well is the same reason I can write well, and it’s the punchline to the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice.

You see, I’ve been in front of many, many groups, speaking anywhere from 20 minutes up to a couple of hours. Among other things, I’ve taught college English, and run meetup groups. That means I can speak with notes, but I can also speak extemporaneously.

When you start to build your author platform, you need to spend time on social media, and on doing all sorts of online marketing activities. But not all your time. You want to make sure that if you’re going to be on TV, or on the radio (as I was in February and will be again in June), you aren’t petrified. You need coaching and you need some practice.

If I can help with that process, I’ll be happy to do so; if you’re an author, and need that marketing training, send me an email at info@msahno.com or give me a call at (813) 528-2622. I’m ready to help.

Whizzers

Authors’ Pandemic Sales and The Dubious Metric of “Necessities” Vs. “Luxuries”

​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...
optimism

Are We Ready to Make A Case For Optimism?

Most anyone who reads this blog probably knows I’m not what you call a Pollyanna type. Not that I’m a pessimist. Far from it. But as we’ve all endured the slings and arrows of the last four years—and especially the last year of Plague—I haven’t exactly been pumping...
run

The End of a Good Run

I’ve had a pretty good run the last five or six weeks: last week’s blog post, entitled What Books Cost Their Authors: A Tale of Blood, Sweat & Tears, had the best “headline quality score” I’ve ever attained (yes, I run my headlines through an analyzer for SEO, to...
attorney

The Power of an Attorney

Last week I missed the deadline to post my Monday blog, then missed any other opportunity through the rest of the week. The reason? I'm power of attorney for my mother, who took a fall and had to be hospitalized. Hence the headline for this week's post. Being power of...
catholic school

I Survived Catholic School

This post isn’t meant to be provocative, though I understand my readers who also happen to be good Catholics might see it that way. No, it’s something else altogether.Years ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone talking about how the nuns hit their knuckles with...

All the News

It's been crazy busy for me lately, and this blog got neglected because Monday - my normal blog post date - was the 4th of July holiday. I know, I should have worked anyway, right? Isn't that what everyone does these days? Work any day and every day? Well, the heck...
genre writer

The Challenge of Writing in a Different Genre for the First Time

I’ve never been what you’d call a genre writer. In fact, I’ve said this for years: “I’m not a genre writer.” Problem is, we live in an age where everything must be classified. It’s weird. I’m a guy who grew up listening to a lot of rock (the genre formerly known as...

Breaking Into the Top 100

Recently, I posted something on LinkedIn called Author, Entrepreneur, or Authorpreneur? My point was that, if you're interested in breaking into the top 100 in your Amazon category, you're probably going to have to spend some time acting like a businessperson when it...
Sahno

Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...
ebook

A Free Ebook From Sahno Publishing—And An Open Invitation For More

Regular readers of this blog might be surprised to see me write about giving an ebook away. In fact, I wrote a post a few months ago called Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea. So why the change of heart, you may ask? Actually, there's no change...

What If I Don’t Want to Sell?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of giving a talk called Marketing Your Novel that was hosted by the Orlando Public Library. A good twenty people or so were kind enough to show up on a blazing Florida Sunday afternoon to hear me speak.

The talk went well: I gave the group an overview of my experience both before publishing my novels and after, and tried to deliver as much value as I could in an hour. I talked quite a bit about building an author platform prior to publication, about social media options, and even included a little about my own company, Sahno Publishing. After all, what good is a talk on marketing if you don’t market yourself a bit?

Afterwards, a few people came up to talk to me, as I had books available for sale and was open for questions. I was a little surprised by what complete strangers admitted to me.

The questions that came up included the following:

• How can I view myself as a writer if I haven’t published yet? I feel like a fraud.
• How do I start a business Facebook page if I don’t have a personal Facebook page?
• What if I don’t want to sell? How can I find someone to do it for me?

The first question wasn’t that surprising; it’s so normal, it’s practically a cliché. What authordoesn’t feel like a fraud before they actually have a book they can hold in their hands? I totally empathize with the feeling, and had a good conversation with that writer. I hope it helped.

The question about Facebook is a curious one. I’ve had a personal Facebook page so long, I simply created a new one for my business while logged into the personal account. I could only advise the writer to check the internet for instructions, or try creating a business page on Facebook from square one. Anyone out there have ideas on this, feel free to add to the comments section.

The last question is the one I most want to address here: what if I just don’t want to sell my book?

This one kind of freaked me out. I mean, I had just gotten through telling a room full of people, “You’ve got to be the number one salesperson for your book,” and now a self-published author was asking for a different solution. I don’t know if she just didn’t want to put in the work, or was afraid to fail…maybe a little of both. Whatever the case, she didn’t want to sell.

I guess one solution is to pay someone else, but that wasn’t the answer she wanted. Another idea would be to give away the book, but she didn’t want to do that, either. If you’re with a major publisher, they’ll do a bit of the work for you, but self-published? No way.

I told her she might find a college student who would do it for free for a short time, just to get some job experience in sales. Other than that, I was at a loss.

Can you outsource one of your most important jobs as a self-published author? I wouldn’t, but what do you think? Leave a comment here, or email me at info@msahno.com.

For more on Sahno Publishing, go to msahno.com.

creativity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #5: Creativity vs. Money

One of the most daunting questions amateur writers face is whether they can make money following their most creative pursuits. Are they too non-commercial? Will an agent be interested? Will my work sell at all? The question of Creativity vs. Money isn’t relevant for...
family

Forget the Big “Family & Friends” Plan

About three months ago, I wrote a post entitled What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. My idea was to share six lessons from my publishing experience, one for each year in the biz. As time went on, my thinking evolved. I realized these six...
weird

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Now that I’ve reached the latter half of my sixth decade, I increasingly hear myself begin sentences “Back in the day…” or “I remember when….” It’s weird. In our eternally youth-obsessed culture, growing old itself is just plain weird.  And the current pandemic has...
travel

Travel Feeds the Soul

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu I wish I could say I've always loved to travel. Maybe I'm good at being in a different place; the getting there is sometimes a whole other story. Traveling to a foreign locale can be...
balance

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #7: The Elusive Search for Balance

It's Labor Day today, and what are my wife and I doing? You guessed it: laboring! I've just finished a massive job, editing a manuscript for a 90-something client. Hey, God bless him, right? And God bless me for having the intestinal fortitude to get through the most...
ebook

Another Monday Blog Post – And a Special Offer

One of the great things about WordPress websites is the ability to schedule blog posts. So Happy Monday to you, but you're probably reading this while I'm taking my wife to DisneyWorld! Last week was "Happy New Year" time, so now we're into good old regular blog...
book

Who Gives A Damn About Your Book?

Back in April, I wrote a blog post called What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. Since I have  those six years of experience, I figured I’d list six things I’d learned—not necessarily one per year, but one for each year. The response was...

Indie Authors & Literary Fiction

Back in July, I posted an interview with fellow indie author Jay Lemming.  Jay has a terrific ongoing project simply called “Survey: Indie Writers of Literary Fiction.” In his survey, he asks fellow lit fiction authors about one of their novels, and in particular,...
patchworks

Patchworks: A Book Review

Today I woke to the all-too-familiar tragic news of yet another mass shooting. Sadly, we all know what will happen next: politicians will sputter, talking heads will bloviate, and the next thing that gets done about gun control will be – absolutely nothing. Such is...
exhausted

“Broke Down And Busted In The Promised Land”

Man, are you exhausted or what? I know I am. We all are, right? In fact, I was thinking of titling today's blog post Exhausted, but then the phrase "broke down and busted" drifted into my mind. It comes from a song by a band called The Hilltops, which eventually...

A Little Pay Upfront…or A Lot More Pay Year After Year

So many writers think they should never pay for publishing. I don’t blame them for thinking that way, but here’s how it really plays out.

Authors are natural idealists, so of course we typically figure we can get a deal with a big publishing company, leading to smooth sailing and great success. But landing a deal with a publishing giant is easier said than done.

More often than not, a writer will never hear back from a publishing company. If you are fortunate enough to get a response, don’t be surprised to receive one that says “we cannot accept your manuscript at this time.” In other words, they don’t think they can make enough money off you.

The Big Five publishers – Penguin Random House, Hachette, McMillan, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins – operate out of a financial formula. That means a book by someone famous, a tell-all by someone once in the limelight, or a biography of a celebrity are sure to sell. There’s a guaranteed audience for those types of books. The great literary work of art you wrote…eh, who reads classics anymore?

Can you tweak your work to make it more marketable? Sure, but the big companies don’t give you any sufficient review or feedback either. How will you even know what to change?

Feel like you’re ready to give up? It happens. A lot. In the words of the late, great John Gardner, “Down goes another novelist.”

Getting from a manuscript to the final product has a lot of steps in between. Agent, editor, illustrator, publisher. Even if you do get that sought-after acceptance letter, the process can still be a nightmare.

Have an idea for the cover? You probably won’t get any say on how the book you labored over for years will look as a finished product. Don’t like the editor’s changes? Tough. Better make them all, or you’ll find yourself in breach of contract.

And as for the money…well, how do you think the Big 5 publishers have created such huge fortunes? Let’s just say your payout may not be quite what you expected. Your agent helped you get the deal, right? There goes 15% right off the top. And the publishing company themselves will gladly take more than their fair share of the pie.

So what do you get?

At $10/book, a large publisher would keep over 75% of each sale, paying the author as little as 8% for the first 150,000 books. Were you one of the fortunate few to get an advance? Well, before you even see that 8%, you have to pay back that advance. Let’s say it was $5,000. That means 6,250 book sales before you even start getting that big 80 cents per book royalty.

But not all experiences with publishing companies have to be this way. At Sahno Publishing, we think literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. Go to msahno.com for more information.

So I’ve been looking at some topics for blogs, and I find all kinds of great ideas.  One of the more amusing ones is posting about personal stuff or pet peeves, so your readers get to know you better. This idea can work, but it can also be a disaster. I’ve seen writers post all manner of personal stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t want to know. Worse, there’s no compelling reason to care. Does Glenda’s reader really need to know that she collects her own toenail clippings? Do my readers care that I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two weeks ago, but still remember the lyrics to every Frank Zappa song I learned when I was in high school?

I’m going to guess no. But pet peeves, well, that could be interesting…especially if they’re somehow relevant for writers, or just writing in general for civilians.

And then it hit me: with the continual (d)evolution of our language, there are some highly annoying phrases out there right now that make my skin crawl…that make me feel like that guy above. I’m sure I’m not the only one who majored in English who feels this way. Looking at articles online that address this topic-Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2016, etc. – I find that even the perennial offenders like “whatever” or “like” don’t bother me as much as some of the others.

So here we go with my current, latest, on-the-fly Top Ten Words or Phrases That Will Make You Cringe.

  1. Adulting – I thought it was bad when the word parenting became not only accepted, but common. Never did figure out what was wrong with just saying raising children (maybe it was George Carlin: “Don’t plant ’em too deep!”), but okay…whatever! And now we have devolved to adulting? What’s next? Childing? This one is so weird that my phone autocorrected it to faulting when I typed it. Makes sense to me.
  2. Having said that/That being said – This is the new “um.” A totally unnecessary placeholder phrase. What surprises me is how many professional speakers, who are excellent at what they do, stick this into a talk…multiple times! I just came from an event with people who are way better speakers than me, and yet, I caught a few of them doing this…a lot.
  3. Epic – Okay, you know this one is bad. Worse than awesome. Let’s face it, awesome has, to some degree, become synonymous with cool. But if you say everything is epic, well, guess what? Nothing will be epic.
  4. At the end of the day – Having said that, I’m now going to be businesslike and make sure you know that, when it comes right down to it, at the end of the day…ah, just forget it.
  5. “No words” – I believe this gets written more than said, mainly on social media. It expresses horror, shock, sadness, etc., I guess. Problem is, you just wrote two words to tell us you have no words. See the problem?
  6. Cray cray – Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this from a person I actually know. This is more an obnoxious TV personality thing. But it’s beyond annoying. This is getting into punishable offense material. Just say crazy, okay? Better yet, don’t. Maybe that person has a genuine mental health issue.
  7. Porn – What? Porn, you say? Well, I’m talking about people calling everything that’s not porn, porn. Food porn. Nature porn. I don’t know that it necessarily devalues or legitimates actual porn, but it’s stupid, and kind of weird. Besides, do you really want to have to explain to your three-year-old when they ask, “Mommy, what’s word porn?”
  8. Vajayjay – Urban Dictionary has a great definition for this: The most annoying word known to woman. Now, I don’t know who started the trend – and again, I’ve never heard a person I know use it – but it’s childish. I get that some people think the word vagina sounds, well, overwhelmingly medicinal, but come on. There has to be a better solution.

Okay, there’s my list. I know, I only went as far as eight, but honestly…don’t you feel bad enough just from those?

You’re welcome.

impostor

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #3: Impostor Syndrome, aka The Self-Confidence Deficit

“The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence—arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.”  —Hilary Mantel  ...
punches

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays. I got a letter from the IRS that said they "believe there's a miscalculation" in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don't owe them anything, and they're not auditing...

How Freelance Writers Can Ditch The Content Mills – And Get Paid What They’re Worth

So today turns out to be a great day for a guest post, since I've got a sprained wrist – time to rest my hands and arms. Without further ado, here's freelancer extraordinaire Tara Malone on how to ditch the content mills! You’re sick and tired of your day job and...
guilt

The Problem With Guilt-Inducing Advice

I frequently see tweets asking, “What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard?” I don’t know if I want to comment on that, exactly, but I do have something else in mind. Probably the biggest cliché writers will ever hear is some variation on the old saw, Write...

Breaking Into the Top 100

Recently, I posted something on LinkedIn called Author, Entrepreneur, or Authorpreneur? My point was that, if you're interested in breaking into the top 100 in your Amazon category, you're probably going to have to spend some time acting like a businessperson when it...
20/20

2020 Vs. 20/20: What We Saw Then, What We See Now

Grinding through the first few months of 2021, I presume nearly everyone wants to shut the door on 2020. After all, the tragic COVID-19 pandemic and—at least in the United States—chaotic election drama left millions exhausted, overwhelmed, and just plain traumatized....
interregnum

What To Expect From An Interregnum

I had a very strange, little-used word pop into my head the other day: interregnum.  Cambridge English defines interregnum as "a period when a country or organization does not have a leader." That certainly seems to apply at this moment. Merriam-Webster's definition:...
stars

Working on Novels

This week I’m back to blogging about the love of my life – no, not my lovely wife, Sunny, although I must admit she’s the true love of my life. I mean I’m blogging about my fiction again. People know me for a few different things: author, speaker, publisher. And since...
twitter

Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Recently I wrote a blog post about how many writers struggle to find interesting topics. It occurred to me that, for those of us who are writers and/or entrepreneurs, one good topic for this blog might be Best Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Of course, this is totally...
shoemaker

“Shoemaker, Stick to Thy Last!”

I always try to help my fellow indie authors by passing on my experiences. Among the most important, in my mind, is don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find your niche, and stick with it. This might not be the greatest advice if you’re already a...