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.

metaphysics

Psychology Is Sort of a Hobby of Mine, or Why I’ve Always Been So Interested In Metaphysics

I chose the image above for today's blog post for a couple reasons: first, it's cool, but second, it's also kind of all over the place. And isn't that what metaphysics are all about?A quick Google search shows the definition of metaphysics as "a field of philosophy...
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...
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...
MLK

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....
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...
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....
Twitter

6 Twitter Tips for Authors

Those of you who follow my blog probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. Now that I’m closing in on 25K followers, I feel like I’ve got a little experience I can share that will be helpful. And with that, here comes today’s blog...
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...
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...
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...

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.

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...
healthcare

Our Broken Healthcare System Vs. The Decent, Affordable Healthcare of a Developing Nation

​Is your country’s health care system an egregious scam that bilks patients out of their money? Mine is. I didn’t have a blog post topic planned for today, but a bill that showed up in my mailbox changed that in a hurry. I’ve been talking about this anecdotally to...
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...
ebook

Author Newsletters

I'll be the first to admit I am not an expert on author email newsletters. However, I believe they're important, and I try to be on top of mine every month. Today's blog post is about that. Normally I send out a newsletter to my email list each month on the 6th. Not...
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...
no more for the road

No More For The Road

I took my last drink 32 years ago. Hard to believe I’ve reached that many years of continuous sobriety. If you’d asked me the day before I stopped drinking whether I had an alcohol problem, I would have said No. Mainly because I didn’t think I did. What I had was an...
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...
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...
endemic

From Pandemic to Endemic to…?

It’s funny how a blog like this can serve as sort of a substitute for a journal. Not “ha ha” funny, mind you. But “strange” funny for sure. All the way back in December 2021, I wrote a post called The Scary Weekend I Thought I Had COVID. I’d met up with a friend and...
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...

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.

fumes

Running On Fumes: Pandemic Fatigue

Let’s face: the past four years have been exhausting. But 2020 is a whole other level of exhausting. If you’re running on fumes right now—and I’ll be the first to admit that’s the case for me—who can blame you? Ordinarily, I have a schedule for these blog posts, and...
trigger

Why Trigger Warnings are Bad for Everybody

Recently I almost got into a Twitter skirmish about trigger warnings, or TWs, as they say in the trade. One of my followers asked the Twitterverse their opinion on them, and I gave mine. In essence, I said I don’t believe in them. While trigger warnings originally...

Who Are Your Greatest Connections?

When it comes to networking, making connections with people who have a greater influence in your industry can be beneficial in ways that go on and on. This has proven true for many people, I'm sure, and I know I've seen it in my own experience. Two recent examples...
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...
characters

It All Starts With Character

“Sahno offers a compelling vision of a community whose need for companionship and support in the face of life's struggles is stirring.” “The characters are deep, well thought out…” “I read this novel in a few short days, drawn in by a believable plot and characters...
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...
black friday

From Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday: A Reflection

​Not so long ago, it was easy to think of the week of Thanksgiving as “Gratitude Week.” In fact, I actually did that: back in 2016, Facebook reminds me, I posted an entire week’s worth of “Things I’m Grateful For” to my timeline. It was fun, and certainly provided...
post

Why Subscribe To A Blog?

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I post something new on my blog most Mondays. Or maybe you don’t know that at all. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly the greatest promoter of my own blog. When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, I'm...

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...
authenticity

Putting Yourself Out There

I see a lot of social media posts these days about "authenticity." The idea is that clients and customers, and potential clients and customers, really appreciate your authenticity—mainly because so many fake people have tried to sell them something they didn't want to...

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.

deferred

21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

"There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait." - Louis Leung I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: "do what you said you...
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...
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...
self-marketers

Authors As Self-Marketers

A couple years back, in an article about self-publishing, I wrote the following: If you’re an author with a traditional publishing contract, you don’t really have to be an entrepreneur as such; the publishing company does the marketing and PR for you, though you have...
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...
fictional world

Creating a Believable Fictional World

When it comes to writing fiction, many authors sweat the small stuff. "Do I have what it takes to write realistic dialogue?" they wonder. "Am I creating a believable fictional world?" Or, most dire of all, "Will anyone care about my books?" These concerns are all...
humor

When Your Sense of Humor Is One Part Vonnegut, Two Parts Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes you have to really switch things up. Even shake them up. Such is the case with artists of all types, and I’m the kind of novelist who needs to shake things up from book to book. I've never written a series, and I don't think I could unless my life depended...
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...
break

You Deserve A Break Today

The last few weeks’ worth of blog posts have been downers, and I appreciate everyone who has read them, sent me messages, and in general been encouraging. This week needs to be lighter. A lot lighter. So I’m going back to one of my favorite topics: writing. I’m on a...
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:...

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

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...
proofreading

The Improtance Of Poorfreading

So right up front, I know I'm taking a gamble with today's headline. I only hope most readers of this blog will be able to translate Improtance into Importance, and Poorfreading into Proofreading. Goodness knows Spellcheck tried to change them on me. The reason for...
fictional world

Creating a Believable Fictional World

When it comes to writing fiction, many authors sweat the small stuff. "Do I have what it takes to write realistic dialogue?" they wonder. "Am I creating a believable fictional world?" Or, most dire of all, "Will anyone care about my books?" These concerns are all...
copyright

Does Copyright Still Matter in the Digital Age?

One thing about working as a full-time freelance writer: it’s usually feast or famine. That means exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes you’re so busy that you almost forget to market your business, and other times, you’re looking for more projects. This month is one...
deferred

21st Century Etiquette (Or the Lack Thereof)

"There are so many unreliable people now that being reliable in and of itself is a valuable rare trait." - Louis Leung I have always thought that certain bare minimum requirements for etiquette are particularly important in business. For example: "do what you said you...
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...
Amazon

How Amazon Killed the Book Business

Okay, it’s Monday, and it’s Presidents’ Day, which really means it’s Washington’s birthday. Actually, he was born on February 22nd, but whatever. Last week was too busy to attend to this blog, and so is this week, holiday notwithstanding. So I'll be the first to admit...
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...
7 Things to Check Before You Publish That Book

7 Things to Check Before You Publish That Book

This year, I'm pleased to announce I'm going to be publishing my fifth work of fiction, Whizzers. Hard to believe, because it seems like just yesterday when I launched my first novel, Brothers' Hand, into an unsuspecting world. I still remember some of the reactions...
break

You Deserve A Break Today

The last few weeks’ worth of blog posts have been downers, and I appreciate everyone who has read them, sent me messages, and in general been encouraging. This week needs to be lighter. A lot lighter. So I’m going back to one of my favorite topics: writing. I’m on a...