Need a beta reader? Here’s a proven resource from Oz.

Beta readers are especially valuable for for indie authors, as they provide input on story line, content, and characters—often during a book’s drafting process. My brilliant author friend Karen Mueller Bryson shared information about such a service: Hot Tree Editing. Founders of the ten-year-old Queensland, Australia-based firm pride themselves on “approachable, friendly and cost-effective editing service.”

Critique image

A beta reader will provide comments like these (in red) from a critique partner on my Beat of the Pakiri manuscript-in-progress.

 

Hot Tree offers a relatively inexpensive pre-edit beta reading, for approximately $35 per avid, BA-degreed, and experienced reader. You’ll receive an annotated script and a Hot Tree Editing beta report covering character and plot development, discrepancies, and overall readability.

They charge for other literary services, too, like proofreading and line and content edits, but offer their “post-edit beta reading service for FREE, alongside a line and content edit.” The beta readers’ payment includes the read of your manuscript, your gratitude, and some small recognition.

The service is available upon request only, so plan extra time in your schedule to take advantage of it. Learn more by contacting Hot Tree email.

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Indie publishing • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

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Absolutely Wild! coming soon

My long-time creative friend, Cherie Scott and I are creating a line of customized faerie doors and tales: Absolutely Wild! Enchanted Faerie Portals & Other Whimsy.
After you fill out one of our questionnaires asking about a few of your favorite things, Cherie crafts a faerie door incorporating those details, and I write a short story about your portal. One line of doors and tales will tie in with my Delfaerune Rhapsody novel series, which served as Cherie’s inspiration for this idea in the first place.
Here’s the first one she created, with an excerpt from the story I wrote about it.
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Fidget’s Visitor

(Excerpt)
The fluffy cinnamon-spotted dog sniffed at the wee wooden door. His yips made the spindly mushrooms lining the front walk vibrate in time with the fairy’s gossamer wings.

The tiny creature inside the door risked a peep through a thin crack in the wood, and trembled when a giant brown eye moved closer. It blinked, and she whipped back against the stone wall of her kitchen, throwing her hands over her eyes.

What could he want? Did he smell the ChocoLavendar cookies baking in her wood stove?

She found her courage and turned to peer through the crevice again. The dog cocked his head and one ear flopped into the crackling leaves blown against the door from her garden. He gently nipped a small Aspen-illustrated card from a basket hanging around his neck, and nudged it under her door with his nose.

The fairy jumped. Her arms flailed and, on tippity-toes, beat a quick retreat.

Mustn’t come in contact with the paper! It could be laced with poison! Or, at the very least, contain a highly threatening message.

Careful not to move too close, she used a sprinkle of fairy dust to open the card, and gingerly leaned forward to read the large scribbles…

 


Want to help us make Absolutely Wild! the most whimsical faerie doors ever? Give us some ideas and we’ll give you credit in our marketing. (Jot your comment below.)

Solid reasons behind rapid publishing, a la Hugh Howey and Liliana Hart

KevinHearneBookshelf.gif

Traditionally-published author Kevin Hearne—whose books line my bookshelf in this snapshot—reached NY Times Bestseller status within a year by launching the first three books in his Iron Druid Chronicles series over three months. Coincidence or strategic?

Would you like to know how wildly successful self-publisher Hugh Howey earned 1,200 reader reviews on Amazon? He danced as a reward for milestone numbers of reviews. Really. Check out the video.

Howey, known for Wool, sold more than two million copies of his dystopian “Silo Series” worldwide. He’s writing his Beacon 23 series of short stories in stand-alone story arcs, which he relates to a season of TV with each episode telling a story. He’s quoted in The Writer Files blog as saying, “People are eating them up at 99 cents each.”

This process for his short stories may have a foundation in his belief in the Liliana Hart method of marketing a book series. The best-selling author of mystery and romance uses a process that boils down to writing five books before releasing one of them a month. Howey’s The Wayfinder blog post describes why he thinks she may be genius.

He also points to another author’s take on the Liliana method, in which Rosalind James uses Kindle Select and Kindle Countdown marketing programs as the focus of her “Rolling Countdown” book launch campaign. A very interesting read.

Have Howey and Hart  found the “silver bullet” of successful self-publishing? What do you think?

P.S. Learn more about how Howey achieved his writing success on The Writer’s Dig blog.

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Indie publishing • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

 

Reveals behind the music: Imagine Dragons

Axyl Thorne illustration

My character, Axyl Thorne, is a famous rock star  in the Fae realm of Delfaerune… easily as famous as Imagine Dragons in our human world. 😀 Art by Stacy Lefevre

While conducting research on some of my favorite bands, I found out some fascinating trivia about the musicians behind the music, and thought you might get a kick out of it, too.

Let’s start with Imagine Dragons, a four-member alternative/pop/indie rock band based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Did you know…

  • Three of the four members in the band share the first name “Daniel:”
    • Dan Reynolds (lead singer)
    • Daniel Wayne Sermon (guitar)
    • Daniel Platzman (drums)
    • Ben McKee (bass)
  • Reynolds, child #7 in a family with 9 children, earned Eagle Scout status. He also stands 6’4″ tall.
  • Sermon is one of five children.
  • All the members of the band except Reynolds, attended the Berklee School of Music in California.
  • Platzman received his degree in film scoring, and has received the Vic Firth Award for Outstanding Musicianship and the Michael Rendish Award in Film Scoring.
  • Two of the Dans—Reynolds and Sermon—are Mormon, and married, girls. Sorry.
  • Reynolds’ wife Aja Volkman is an American musician, best known as the front woman for the indie rock band Nico Vega.
  • Sermon married ballerina/writer/photographer Alexandra Hill.
  • McKee was arrested on the Las Vegas Strip for public nudity. He later stated in a Billboard interview, “There were some bad choices being made. Vegas is a crazy place.”

What other trivia do you know about Imagine Dragons?

 

 

 

My Mom, a Mary Poppins doppleganger, inspires increased book sales using a unique personal trait

A word-of-mouth marketing example from the lens of Ann Narcisian Videan
to inspire your book “village.”
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A vintage Rocky Mountain Post article about my mom, who entertained at parties as Mary Poppins. Do you have a unique trait you can leverage to market yourself or your book?

I’m counting on this post to inspire you to find your own special talents, traits, experiences, or even your looks—like my mother did—to entice your audience to talk about you. Find something unique that also pertains to your book and, víola!, instant word-of-mouth book book marketing.

I hear you thinking, “What?!”

Think for a second. Say you looked like Mary Poppins, and wrote a book about professional organizing. You could relate the movie theme to your book marketing. “Spit, spot!” Organizing made easy! Everyone  who wants a magically clean room/home can relate to the scene of the Banks’ children putting away their toys while their nanny sings, right? A unique, fun, emotional mental image. Exactly the techniques to compel readers into talking about you.

Or, maybe you’re a musician. How can you use that to tie into your books? I wrote a “soundtrack” to complement my first book, Rhythms & Muse. That became a Wow! moment for my readers. My next chat-worthy project will use my art skills. I’m creating customized faerie doors and short stories, as well as a faerie door coloring book, to complement my book Song of the Ocarina. (It’s book 1 in my Delfaerune Rhapsody series about New Zealand Fae who use Earth energy and music to make magic.)

Think now, what about you or your book would inspire someone to say, “Wow, that’s cool!” or to write a newspaper article about you? I encourage you to put some thought into this and come up with something outrageous to drive word-of-mouth marketing.

What do you do, or what’s in your book, that would entice readers to talk about you?

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Secret orange-roll powers revealed

Thanksgiving tradition... spend all day Wednesday making orange rolls, and spend all day Thursday eating as many as you can.

Thanksgiving tradition… spend all day Wednesday making orange rolls, and spend all day Thursday eating as many as you can.

If food could embody a superpower, these rolls would be Magneto, using culinary entrapment to lure friends and family from all points of the universe to your table.

As it is, not too many people appear to know about the super secret powers of these rolls. Their popularity may wane because preparing and baking them requires at least six hours. I’m telling you, though… Worth. The. Wait.

Everyone who tastes these raves and raves, and then raves some more. Sweet, tangy, light and soft… they melt in your mouth. Ahhh! It’s one of the main reasons I look forward to Thanksgiving every year, since it’s the only time we make them.

Ready to be drawn into our secret world of deliciousness?

You’re welcome.

Orange Rolls

Ann Videan, via Madge Narcisian, via Dee Alnutt

1 c. milk
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. salt
2 cakes yeast
5c. flour

Scald milk, pour over shortening & sugar. Cool.
Add eggs, yeast, flour, salt, and mix well.
Let rise about 3 hrs.

1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. sugar
rind from 1 orange, grated (we like more, but not too much more )

Prepare butter and set aside.
Mix together sugar and orange zest.
Roll dough flat into a rectangle and spread on butter, then sugar mixture.
Roll up like a jelly roll. Cut to about 1.5″ wide.
Place in buttered muffin tins.

Let rise 1 hr.

Bake 375˚ just until light brown (less than 10 min.).

 

So, I’ve shared. Now, tell us about your most super-powered recipe… Pretty please, with sugar and orange zest on top?

 

Key book-organization tools: Secret Writers’ Society (ALWAYS)

We look a lot more vibrant than this in person! Wendy, Patricia, Ann, Mallary, Marsha, Karen, and Alana.

We look a lot more vibrant than this in person!
Wendy, Patricia, Ann, Mallary, Marsha, Karen, and Alana

The Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) —  a tribe of established, Phoenix-area writers — gather once a month for lunch and a chat about writing. It’s rather like a Secret Writer’s Society, except the tips we share are not so secret, since we share them with you. 🙂


Key Book-Organization Tools

Many authors I’ve encountered in the past several weeks brought up the topic of how to organize a book. ALWAYS members shared a handful of fun and worthwhile suggestions:

1. Use a large sketch pad for writing notes; and to draw, map, or paste visual ideas that pertain to the story. You can also use it to develop a portable storyboard for your plot.

2. Write character notes or actions, important plot point, or scene ideas on colored 3×5 cards. Use a different color for characters, plot points, etc.

3. Post a visual timeline or cards or Post-It notes on a cork board in the room where you write.

4. Use software to help organize all your thoughts and ideas:

What other ideas can you share?

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com