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.

litfic

Leaving the Litfic Category Behind?

Today’s blog is NOT an advertisement for products or services I offer. However, I do want to extend an invitation to join my email newsletter list to get content that’s (mostly) not available elsewhere.One thing about the author life that never fails to entertain is...
procrastination

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #2: Procrastination

Last week I started a new series here on the blog, “Writer Problems.” Naturally the idea is to offer solutions, but I’m always happy to get suggestions. Feel free to reply in the comments below. Whereas last week’s blog was a lengthy meditation on insomnia, today I...
dementia

There’s Not Much Funny About Dementia

I must admit, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post on a topic like “how maintaining my sense of humor helped me deal with my mother’s dementia.”  Not that I was oblivious to the possibility. My grandmother on my mother’s side developed dementia in her early 80s,...

Strictly Business

So lately I've been looking a little bit like this guy - although this dude is younger, and probably better-looking, than me.  I mean I've been hunched over an iMac or MacBook quite a bit, working furiously on building my business. Now, I know that the people who...
editor

Need A Writer? An Editor? A Proofreader? How About All Of The Above?

Late last week I got a call from a husband and wife asking about vanity publishers. Yes, such predatory companies are still out there, preying on the hopeful. These nice folks asked me if it sounded legit when a "publisher" offered to put the wife's book out for a...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
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...
anti-vaxxer

Anti-Vaxxer Hysteria and the Mo-ron Contingent

I can’t help but wonder: what kind of idiot do you have to be to believe that Bill Gates has nothing better to do than follow you around while you schlep to Wal-Mart, pick up your dry cleaning, and eat the free breadsticks at Olive Garden? I've always got my cell...
syzygy

From The Shadow Side to the Syzygy

Anima rising, Queen of queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me - Joni Mitchell, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow   I’ve always enjoyed learning new words—or, as is more likely at my age, relearning words I’ve forgotten—so I was pleased to put syzygy in the...

More on Literary Fiction

While I'm recovering from some oral surgery I had last Friday, I'm inclined to just rest and update my blog another time. But I'll be on vacation soon, so I'd rather post something than nothing. With that, I recommend blog readers check out my fellow literary author,...

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.

author

Are Authors Typically Obsessive-Compulsive?

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in author blogs toward the confessional. After all, no one wants to read about your characters all the time, and God knows that readers don’t want to read about marketing. They want to know something about you. Happy to oblige. Although...
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...
networking

Networking Tips for People Over 60

It’s easy to understand why seniors are reluctant to network – especially when it means meeting strangers who happen to be younger. After all, some seniors may ask themselves how they can benefit from a relationship with a younger person in their field, believing they...
rewriting

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #6: How Much Rewriting is Too Much?

Today's blog post was supposed to be an expansive one, delving in the subject of rewriting. In my own case, I spent years obsessively returning to manuscripts, revising them again and again until they were—as far as I could tell—perfect. As perfect as I could make...
technophobe

The Technophobe Part 2: Why I Wish I Was Better At Some Of This Stuff

The last few weeks have been all about pros and cons. In June, I wrote several blog posts about my biggest strengths, and now I’m writing about some of my greatest challenges. So the two categories are, roughly, “Stuff I’m Good At” and “Stuff I Wish I Was Better At.”...

What a Character

I was recently reading another author's blog, and saw a post about the writing process, and in particular the naming of characters. I wondered, Are people really interested in reading about this? I couldn't help thinking that only writers are so interested in other...
healthcare

Feeling Wiped Out? Get Up and Out!

I don’t really think of myself as a healthcare writer, although I did earn a living for many years by marketing a variety of healthcare services—from traditional to alternative medicine. These days, I’m more in the Author-Speaker-Publisher mode, writing books and...

Book Fair Time Coming September 17th

Most of my blog posts are related in one way or another to the business of being an author - expanding your author platform, improving your book marketing, and so on - and not strictly self-promotional. However, every once in a while, I've got a radio interview or...

Short Story Contest

As we head into September, I'm struck by how quickly this year has flown by. I have a radio interview in two days and a book fair next month, and I'm sure there will be much more happening as I go full bore with marketing campaigns for Miles of Files, Jana, and...
kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my latest novel, I didn't have an agenda or even a plan. The story of Whizzers came about very organically, though it has roots in my own life from many years ago. To understand how I evolved as a writer, you almost have to understand how I...

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.

newsletter

Got Those Old Indie Author Newsletter Blues

It’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for my weekly blog post. Today I’m going to talk a bit about newsletters—more specifically, the kind of newsletter an indie author like myself sends to his readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, an...

But What If I’m Sick?

Last month my wife and I went to Thailand for a two-week vacation. This was my first real vacation in over two years, and my wife Sunny’s first visit back to her family in her country of origin in even longer. So we really needed and, I think, deserved it. And...
software

How Hard Is Software Supposed to Be?

So last week I took the Memorial Day holiday off from everything: no blog, no book project...nothing. Just me and my wife enjoying the day off from work. We don't get that many of those together, so it was nice to just hang out, sleep late, and watch mindless TV shows...
speaking

On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

A few months ago, I wrote a post about annoying current expressions like having said that and at the end of the day. That post came up in conversation this past weekend on a long, long trek to Miami and back. You see, when you spend nine or ten hours in a car with...
slow

How Fast Is Too Fast? And How Slow Is Too Slow?

Do you crank out copy at a fast and furious rate? Or are you “the slow one,” the writer who labors over every word, phrase, or even punctuation mark? Or, even more weirdly, are you one of those writers who strikes a happy medium between racing and plodding? I must...
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...

Coming Soon: Rides From Strangers

I don't typically recommend blatant self-promotion in blog posts, though I do have a post here somewhere entitled Blatant Self-Promotion...ha! This week, however, I'm getting excited about my upcoming release, and decided it's time to talk about it again. I thought...
followers

From The Archives: Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post from the archives was an exception. Back in 2018, social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest post. Here's a link to the the original post, but you can read her...
coronavirus

Racism In The Time Of Corona

Yesterday I was going to write my usual Monday blog post, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the fact that I’m just getting over a sinus infection, and much-needed appointments with my CPA and chiropractor before we all have to “shelter in place,” I simply didn’t have...
meditation

Which Is Better For Writers – Meditation or Exercise?

A while back, I did an interview about creativity, and I talked about meditation and exercise. I also talked about a few other things like journaling, play, and being disciplined about a schedule.For writers, you might think meditation is going to be the number one...

Self-Publishing: The Trouble with Going It Alone

Indie publishing is on the rise but tread carefully. Self-publishing is exactly how it sounds:everything depends on you and you alone.

Sure, you get to make all of the decisions, but that also means you have to make all of the decisions. Editing, proofreading, formatting, interior design, cover art, marketing. Self-publishing is a full-time job. And boy, is it tedious.

How do you find an editor? How do you know if they are a good editor? Do you need a proofreader? Are there any errors? Does the book itself look professional? Do you even get a hard copy or is it simply published electronically? Who is going to buy the book? How are you going to get the word out?

All these concerns and more will flood your mind if you choose to go it alone and indie publish.

Self-publishing is certainly not a goldmine, either. The money won’t just come rolling in with the click of a button and the completion of the finished product. Many people even price their books at 99 cents online just to try and get some sales. Isn’t your work worth more than a dollar?

And because anyone can self-publish, the quality of the finished product comes into question. Many people have published mediocre work, degrading the overall quality of today’s literature. Because of this flooding the market with lower quality books, indie publishing comes with the stigma that the work may not be of the highest standards.

Of course, some people have been successful…but not without a whole lot of work beyond the actual completion of the manuscript.

For first-time authors, self-publishing can be quite daunting. Sahno Publishing wants to help new authors through the scary publishing world. We take care of the tedious work so you don’t have to. Get in-depth training on marketing your novel from start-to-finish, or go beyond just a book and learn how to build a business. Visit msahno.com to find out more.

scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...

How Do You Write About Sex—Seriously, Irreverently, or Not At All?

“Writing about sex is like engaging in sex: it’s hard. Or, it should be.” —Sean Murphy   Today I want to talk about fictional scenes where characters either discuss sex or engage in sexual activity. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, because I’m working...
Biden

If There Ever Was a Time to be Apolitical, This Isn’t It

Anyone who has read a handful of my blog posts, or better yet, my fiction, probably has a pretty good handle on where I stand politically. I’ve been known to rail against the orange monster in the Oval Office from time to time. In fact, I wrote back in 1994 that...
spiritual

Do You Have An Interest in the Spiritual?

Today’s post is the second of a three-part series I’m creating on some of my personal interests. Last week, I wrote about metaphysics; this week, I’m writing about spirituality; and next week, I’ll be writing about music.Of course, the metaphysical and spiritual are...

“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn't familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to...
perils

Instafreebie and The Perils of Evil

Most of you who read this blog know that I'm not a big one on writing about the perils of evil...at least not at the same level as the serial killers or the kings of genocide. Sure, I've got some pretty bad people in my books: Johnny, the doper and rapist in Brothers'...
arrows

Slings and Arrows, Arrows and Slings

Almost two years ago, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a blog post called Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm. The idea was that, hey, everyone is having a rough time right now, and we’ll likely see more rough times ahead. Knowing that life...
market

How Do You Sell A Book in the Digital Age? Market, Market, Market

"I need a steam shovel, mama, to keep away the dead / I need a dump truck, baby, to unload my head." —Bob Dylan   Sometimes these days we all feel like the guy in today's photo, right? A head full of books—both paper and electronic—and a million tasks that need...
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...
book launch

Book Launch Time: The Biggest Day In A Writer’s Life

Over the past few weeks, I've been posting ideas with the intention of providing a service to my fellow authors—in particular, those new to the publishing game. Anyone familiar with my work most likely knows about my most recent novel, Whizzers, and for a couple...