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.

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,...

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,...
phooey

Hong Kong Phooey and The Casual Racism of the 70s

As kids, my brother and I used to love The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, which ran from the late 50s to the early 70s. The cartoon featured Boris & Natasha, a.k.a., Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, as in “bad enough” and “femme fatale.” The former was a pun on the...
famous

Almost Famous—And That’ll Have To Be Enough

Last week I was on the phone with someone who asked me, "Are you the same Mike Sahno who wrote Whizzers?" I must admit, my initial reaction was not a confident, “I certainly am.” In the almost three years since its publication, no stranger has ever asked me that...
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...
kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my upcoming 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 Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

The following post has been pre-scheduled. I've never tried to pre-schedule a blog post before, so I had to look up how to do it. If you know me well, you won't be surprised by that. Hey, I'm on vacation while you read this. Modern technology! I find it interesting to...
running

Running & Writing: A Classic Combo

Writing and running. It’s one of the oldest and, to my way of thinking, weirdest connections in the world. I’ve been a writer, truly, since 1979. Over these past forty years, I’ve written hundreds of poems and songs, and a handful of publishable short stories. (I’ve...
reaper

COVID-19: The Reaper that Keeps on Reaping

Last week I wrote about the trials and tribulations of my immediate family. I’d love to brag about how much better things are this week, but…eh…not so much. While we were contending with my mother going from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility, we had some more...
election

Meet The New Year—Same As The Old Year?

Looking back at the blog over the past few months, I see a few obsessions emerging. Nothing surprising there—of course we’re all suffering from pandemic fatigue, and I’m not surprised to see my worries about the 2020 election as topics. In my October 26th post, If...

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.

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....
mother's

The Worst Mother’s Day Ever

Mother’s Day has always been kind of a tough holiday in my family. Mom’s got an early May birthday, so it seems like there’s virtually no breathing room between her birthday and Mother’s Day. It’s kind of like if your parent was born shortly before Christmas. You get...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...
door

The Open Door Of A New Year

Dawn another year, Open it aright; Thou shalt have no fear In its fading light. —Joseph Krauskopf   I read this quote in a meditation book a couple days ago and it kind of stuck with me. Not the exact wording, of course—I mean the overall spirit. After all, the...
creativity

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Have you written a book? If the answer to the first question is Yes, but the answer to the second question is No, there might be a few reasons for this. One reason I frequently hear from potential ghostwriting clients is,...
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...
storm

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm

A while back, I was having a very bad Monday, and wrote a blog post called Roll With The Punches, Baby! The idea was that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; sometimes life hands you a bouquet of flowers, other times, a punch in the mouth. On that particular...

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,...
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...
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...

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.

Why Are You Being So Rude?

​Hunter S. Thompson and Kurt Vonnegut were two of the people most responsible for me wanting to become a writer. I was a teenager, and couldn't believe you could actually get paid to be so rude, irreverent, and just plain weird. I used to love to turn people on to...
Cataloging-In-Publication

What’s the Risk to Not Having A Cataloging-In-Publication (CIP) Data Block?

Over the past few weeks, I've been writing about "book-building" for indie authors. By that I mean putting a book together from your perspective as an author. So I haven't covered topics like cover design or interior design - you may choose those, but you're probably...
Whizzers

Book Promotion Sites: Which Are The Best, and Are They Worth It?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert when it comes to book promotion sites. When I published my first three novels simultaneously on December 10th 2015—a day that will live infamy, and yes, I know now that it was a harebrained marketing scheme—I knew nothing...
artists

Calling All Artists

This week's blog post is going to be super short: if you've ever read the blog, you’ll know I'm posting often about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel in 2019, and I’m putting a lot of emphasis on finding artists first. I put out a call for graphic...
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...
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...
scam

Is the American Dream Just a Straight-Up Marketing Campaign?

Warning: profanity ahead. I should just start all my posts with that from now on: profanity ahead. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed recently when I saw someone had tweeted something like, What's the biggest scam of all time? Patriotic Americans might be shocked...
artificial

Proust in the Artificial Intelligence Era

Let's consider this week’s post as part two to last week’s part one, When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? I know I've been thinking, talking, and writing about this a lot lately. Today, though, I have a different spin—one which both surprised and amused me. Last...
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...
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...

Frustrated By the Publishing Process?

Beep. Beep. Beep. You wake up bright and early to the sound of the dreaded alarm clock. First thing, you brew some coffee and grab your computer. It’s a Thursday, so you have to go to work, but you feel compelled to start each day with a bit of writing. You also dutifully edit your manuscript briefly…though by now, you could probably recite it word for word.

One look at your watch and the numbers tell you it’s time to stop daydreaming and start getting ready for the job that actually pays your bills.

During lunch, your mind wanders to where your writing left off. If you could just get the wording right…but your half hour is up.

When the big hand on the clock rolls around to the five, you practically run out the door. You’ve had more than enough insurance talk for one day.

Stepping outside, you see that the clouds rolled in and the promise of rain hangs in the air. What a perfect evening to read a good book. But you just finished Great Expectations by Dickens and are in need of another hearty story.

You make a sharp left turn toward the bookstore, one of your favorite spots. You skim through the aisles. Who will it be tonight? Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Faulkner? Joyce it is, with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

On the way out, you can’t help being intrigued by the books so dominantly on display by the door. Just a quick peek…boring, not interested, is this a joke? A series of similar phrases rolls through your head as you quickly scan through these “New Must Reads.” Your manuscript is so much better.

When you arrive home you grab the mail. Bills, bills, and…a letter from that big publisher! Your heart races. This could be it! You must have queried a hundred companies, and finally a response. You tear the envelope in one quick swipe.

“Your manuscript does not fit our current plans.”

Normally, you settle in to read or write again after dinner, but the rejection letter leaves a bitter taste in your mouth that even your favorite meal can’t alleviate. You move your manuscript off the desktop on your computer into a folder titled Old Work, where it begins to collect digital dust.

This scenario is all too common for many writers. At Sahno Publishing, we don’t want that to happen to you. Our goal is to help great, unpublished authors find a wider audience. Learn more at msahno.com.

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...
break

Taking The Time to Tell You I’m Taking Some Time

Some writers plan out all their blog posts well in advance, creating a schedule of topics. The calendar might include a month’s worth or more of diverse subjects with which they can engage, inform, and entertain subscribers.  And then there’s me. I’m only...
collection

A Free Short Story Collection

Last week I wrote a bit about the upcoming Rides From Strangers short story collection, as I finally got the completed cover design. Today’s post is related, but with a little twist. As I mentioned a week ago, I’m offering this e-book free to anyone who joins the...
staycation

The Big July 4th Staycation

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” —Eugene Ionesco   I'll admit it: last week’s blog post was pretty much non-existent. All I posted was a flag picture and a headline, “Happy birthday,...
epic launch

An Epic Launch

Today, the SEO overlords may punish me for posting something overly short. But that's okay. Because I had an epic launch this weekend. "Epic launch" is a phrase I've had in my head for a few weeks now. You see, as the publication date for Whizzers drew closer and...
genre

Have You Ever Written In A New Genre?

When you don't normally write genre fiction, it can be difficult to talk to non-writer people about your work.I love the classics, and have always worked hard to create modern classics of my own. You could call them Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, or just...
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...
next book

Whizzers: The Next Novel

Recently I sent out a subscriber-only newsletter about my next book launch. My fourth novel, Whizzers, is my current Work-In-Progress, and I plan to launch it in 2019. I was pleased to get some email responses to my newsletter, as I am looking to build the largest...

How Authors Can Navigate Twitter

Way back in June 2016, I wrote a blog post about Facebook vs. Twitter. At the time, I had a whole six months of expertise as a guy running a business full-time, so no wonder I did such a great job! Well, okay, maybe I overstated my case. But the bottom line of that...

Radio, Radio

Last month, I had the pleasure of being the guest on a terrific radio show for authors: the Joy on Paper program hosted by PatZi Gil. PatZi was kind enough to invite me on the show to talk not only about my third novel Miles of Files, but also about my company, Sahno Publishing.

The conversation went well: we seemed to agree on everything, and PatZi even went so far as to emphasize the importance of the types of services I offer. It was the friendliest of interviews.

Afterwards, I began to reflect on it. I had to admit that the show brought up a few questions in my mind, and I wondered how I would answer some of these concerns. I’d talked about quality literature, my company slogan “Written to a Higher Standard,” and a bit about my challenges with editing and proofing 1,000 pages of my own material over the long, hot summer of 2015.

The questions that came up included the following:

• How do I recognize literary excellence?
• What happens during editing?
• What’s involved in formatting e-books, as opposed to paperbacks?
• What is an ISBN number, and why do I need it?
• How do I determine what is the best cover design for my book?

I’ve always trusted my own education and instincts to define literary excellence, but I had to admit, it was a little like Justice Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” Maybe there was room for a more concrete answer in future discussions.

Much the same process occurred to me when I reflected on the editing process. I’d already worked for almost 15 years as a professional copywriter, editor and proofreader when I went through final edits of my own work…after paying for professional editing. I was editing the editor, making grueling choices to accept or reject changes line by line. How would I define such a process?

“Well, you correct the errors, and then you replace the good stuff with better stuff.”

“Uh, you make things clearer and easier for the reader, whilst striving to maintain the power of your prose.” Again, I had to admit, this was not easy to articulate.

The ISBN conversation was a little simpler. Wikipedia was quick to remind me that ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and defined it nicely as “a unique numeric commercial book identifier.” It also differentiated between ISBNs for e-book, paperback and hardcover editions, a conversation I have had more times than I care to remember.

Thinking about these concerns really brought me back to the experience of publishing my first three novels simultaneously – a Herculean task, and either brave/inventive/a brilliant marketing scheme or insane/crazy/weird, depending upon whom you ask – and I remembered why I started this company. I want to help others who are thinking about putting themselves through even 1/3 of the work I put myself through in 2015.

PatZi and I touched on this briefly during that hour-long radio program, but it was mostly pleasantries…in stark contrast to that long, hot summer when I was going it alone with these massive projects. I’m looking forward to helping authors who feel like they, too, know all about literary excellence, because they have reached for it, and found it on the pages in front of them.

For more on Sahno Publishing, go here
For more on the Joy on Paper program, go here

presidents

Presidents’ Day: Crappy Holiday Or The Crappiest Holiday?

“The buck stops here.” —Harry S. Truman “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” —John F. Kennedy “I don’t take any responsibility at all.” —That guy   I’m old—so old I remember when we celebrated George Washington’s...
game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...
kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my upcoming 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...
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...
book-building

Book-Building 101

This week's post is called Book-Building 101 because I want to provide my fellow indie authors a little info on the mechanics of putting out a completed book. And I'm not talking about plot, structure, or basics like editing or proofreading. I'm talking about the...

Goin’ Home

About a million years ago, I read a Peanuts cartoon quoting Thomas Wolfe: "You can't go home again." Perhaps fifteen years later, I discovered Wolfe in a lit class, and read Look Homeward, Angel. Eventually, I also got through You Can't Go Home Again, along with a few...
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...
sanity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #10: Maintaining Some Semblance of Sanity

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. —Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"   Last October, I posted an article on pandemic fatigue, about how 2020 had been exhausting. Ha ha ha! The pandemic was only seven or eight months old by then! Who’da thunk it? I must be some...
Juneteenth

My Weird Juneteenth Reading Experience

Today is a federal holiday, the second year Juneteenth is officially recognized as such. I don’t have it off, and neither does my wife, but I respect the holiday and the need for it. In thinking about today’s blog, I wished I had something intelligent and insightful...