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.

serial

If You Don’t Write in a Serial Format, Good Luck With Amazon Classifications

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my grizzled, cynical old heart—adjusting to the nightmarish landscape of book classifications. Some writers have no problem with this stuff, and hey, more power to you. But as I wrote in What I’ve Learned In Six Years of...
Whizzers

The Glories of Language: Making Stuff Up and Other Fun Things I Do

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso   One thing I was never especially afraid of was breaking the rules. What I was afraid of was getting caught. When I was young, I got into a tiny bit of trouble, but not much....
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...
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...
political

Navigating the Murky Waters of Political Correctness

“If you don't have a sense of humor, it just isn't funny.”  —Wavy Gravy   When it comes to political correctness, I’m not convinced we should go back to the “good old days.” I mean, do we really want to go back to calling someone born to an unwed mother a...
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...
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...
cancel

Anyone Else Thinking about Canceling Cancel Culture?

Ordinarily, I’m on the side of the poor, the beaten-down, the marginalized. In short, the outsiders. But this week, what’s on my mind is something a little on the opposition side, or what I’d like to think of as the middle. Most everyone who knows me would describe me...
cover design

The Importance of Cover Design and Interior Design for Novels

I think I could be forgiven for not being an expert on either cover or interior design. After all, I studied neither in college. So I hope I'll be forgiven by anyone thinking I have expertise in these subjects. Still, in a world where employers regularly place ads...

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...

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.

racism

Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t. My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate;...
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...
biscuit

“What Do You Want for Nothing—A Rubber Biscuit?”

Readers who are old enough to remember the Blues Brothers’ cover version of The Chips’ Rubber Biscuit will no doubt understand the reference in today’s headline. For everyone else: just shorten it to “What do you want for nothing?” I guess that’s my way of saying,...

Cover Reveal: Rides From Strangers

Rides From Strangers is coming! Today’s post is a reminder about the upcoming publication of my new short story collection, which is indeed called Rides From Strangers, after the first story in the book. For those of you already on my email newsletter list, I will be...

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...
break

A Bit of a Blog Break

I've been busy scheduling my social media for the next few months, and came to a realization: I've got a ton of existing content, and no one has seen anywhere near all of it. As a result, I decided it's time for a little break. This realization did coincide with...
drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...

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...
ISBN

More Fun With the ISBN Number

I've grown so accustomed to cranking out my blog posts on Monday afternoons, I almost forgot to schedule one for today. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can write this in the morning and schedule it for the afternoon. By the time you're reading this, I'll be out on...
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...

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.

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...

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...
radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...

Taking a Page from the Dylan Playbook?

Although he doesn't use the term himself, recent Nobel winner Bob Dylan's relentless touring has been referred to as the Never-Ending Tour. Taking a page from the Dylan playbook might seem like a weird idea for an author, but recently I have thought about doing just...

What’s the Worst Thing About Social Media?

I’ve been known to refer to social media as antisocial media, so you might wonder what I think is the worst thing about it. Online bullying? The relentless self-promotion? (Buy my book! Buy my service!) People tagging you or adding you to lists without asking...
short blog long video

A Short Blog Post, But A Long Video Interview

Most of my Monday blog posts are a few hundred words long. Sometimes that's because I'm just plain long-winded (hey, I'm a novelist!), but usually it's for SEO purposes. The Google machine tells you that your "content" should always be at least 300 words long. In a...
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...
announcing

Announcing The Whizzers Launch Team!

This weekend, I got my edited copy of Whizzers back from editing and sent out my monthly newsletter announcing the formation of the Whizzers Launch Team. Stuff is a-happening! As Mike Ehrmantraut once said to Jessie Pinkman, "Big doings today." Of course, that...

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,...

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...

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.

Whizzers

New Year, New Projects

"A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napoleon HillI had this quote in my head today without actually remembering who said it. So I was a little surprised when I looked it up and found it attributed to Napoleon Hill. After all, I'm more likely to remember Charles...
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...
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...

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...
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...
Whizzers

Talking About A Metaphysical Work

On July 21st, I launched my fifth full-length work of fiction, Whizzers. I spent years working on about the first 30% of the novel, then burned through the remaining 70% from late 2018 through March 2019.So now it's the thing on the front burner. When I finished my...
racism

Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t. My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate;...

And So The Tour Ends

Well, it's finally over: the blog tour for the relaunch of Miles of Files ends today with a stop at Novelgossip, hosted by the fabulous Amy. I say fabulous because, man oh man, has she got a following! Not even four o'clock, and already 33 bloggers have liked the...
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...

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...

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

ledge

Nightmare On Acid Street

In my mind, I flash back to a time years ago, and the image strikes me with peculiar clarity—the dismal boarding house where I lived when I was newly sober, the shattering acid flashback with its neon cockroaches skittering across the dirty ceiling. Then, further back...

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...
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...
newsletter

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Quarterly Newsletter—And An Invitation

Okay, I'll admit right out of the gate that this isn't really a "sneak peek." My subscribers got it yesterday. Most of what I send them each quarter is content exclusive to subscribers, but every once in a while I'll share something here as well. The following is from...

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a...
marketing

Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book—Yet

​One of the biggest challenges indie authors face is that of marketing. We ask ourselves a million questions when putting together a marketing plan, often with answers that are hazy at best. Who is my audience? Where do they find books? What marketing services should...
excellence

Literary Excellence and Why Writers Need to Be Readers

Back when I first launched my company, I often used the phrase literary excellence as part of my branding. The idea was that Sahno Publishing evolved out of the notion that literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. The company entered the...

Vaccine Follies: How My Second Shot Got Delayed and Why I Freaked Out A Little

Most of my blog posts are related to books and marketing, as you probably know if you’re here. But periodically this blog serves the purpose of a journal, and I write about what’s on my mind—and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a lot. The virus, the...
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...

Lyrics: Why I Write Them, and Why I’ve Put Them Into My Novels

Today's post might look like a lazy man's blog, because I'm copying and pasting lyrics into it from other sources. But the fact is, lyrics have always played an important role not only in my life, but also in my novels. I never gave this much thought until recently,...