Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Baby Steps

 If you follow my blog or any of my social media, you know my very first book was published last month. And today, the ebook sequel is up on Amazon! These last weeks have been a whirlwind of promotions, emails flying in with congratulations, and local friends teasing me about how they personally know a real author.

Back in October when I signed a contract with Winged Publications, I floated on air for several weeks while adding finishing touches to edits. Then, it was time to “put it out there” for the whole world to see.

Elation turned into terror.






“But you said we’d wait until December 26th,” I babbled to my publisher. “I’ve only been preparing a launch team. We’re not launch-ready.” She’d pointed me to dozens of resources teaching authors how to spread the good news of their book babies’ births, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to study all of them.

“Relax,” she told me. “Learn one thing at a time and just keep doing it.”

I could do that. Inhale deeply. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. The threat of hyperventilation faded into the distance.

So, for the past month, I've done something marketing-related everyday except Sunday. Visited a bookstore, posted on social media, learned a marketing tip and planned when to implement it. The new discipline holds me steady. I am learning.

You don’t have to do it all at once.

I’m sure I’m not the first author who has panicked under the pressures of a thousand-item to-do list in order to successfully market a book. While all of those tasks are helpful, the pressure is not.

Once upon a time, each of us was a baby. As we observed the world around us, we wanted to walk. Did we get to our feet and run around the block on our first try? Of course, not! (Although my brother may have been an exception!) We took a first step. And fell. We tried again. And again. Giving up never occurred to us. 


We kept practicing until a second step plopped us on our diaper-protected fannies once again. Eventually, several wobbly steps brought us to a parent’s arms. But were we satisfied with the security of those arms? Absolutely not. We wanted to try again. We set a goal for the nearest chair, for the dog, for Mom's sparkly watch resting on the end table by the sofa. Today, unless our health has failed us, we don’t need to think about walking across the room or taking a three-mile stroll around the park. The skill was mastered long ago.

The marketing portion of the writer's life holds a similar set of baby steps. We observe what others have done, practice with someone guiding us, take our first solo forays into the public eye, and as time passes, we gain finesse.

I hope my most recent lesson in the writing life is helpful to you who are not yet published but hope to be. You’ll know not to panic when that wonderful notice arrives: We want to buy your book. And I hope my experiences over the past month have brought back good memories to those of you well ahead of me in the world of published authors.

Whether you have a book on the market or not, would you care to share any of the tips you’ve learned as you’ve dipped your toes into the rivers of the publishing industry?


Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She has completed a  middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister. Book One, Reaching Into Silence, was an ACFW Genesis Contest semi-finalist and a First Impressions Finalist.

Linda had always figured she’d teach teens and tweens until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair and rolled her out the door. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to becoming an author.

A wife, mother of three, and grandmother to eight, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!

Where Linda can be found on the web:











Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Branding Explained with James Rubart

Branding matters. Even my grandson, at the tender age of six, understood that.

One day while lunching at our favorite fast-food restaurant, a text alerted my lunch buddy and I that a package awaited at our house. My mind whirled, wondering what we’d ordered that now rested on the front steps. We picked up the pace to finish our lunch and refill our beverages that we might head home to rescue the package.

 As we pulled up in front of our house, my grandson pointed through the mini-van windows to the medium-sized box pushed up against the front door. “Look, it’s from Wal-mart.”

 By now I’d surmised the package might contain Pop’s new coffee maker, but I couldn’t remember from where he’d ordered the replacement for our decade-plus-a-few-years-old appliance. With the vehicle safely stopped and shifted into park, I squinted up the sidewalk.

Dylan's announcement jogged the pieces of the recent purchase into place. Pop had indeed ordered the brew machine from Wal-mart.

We hopped out and the youngster scampered ahead as I called after him, “How did you know that?”

“The logo, Gram. It’s the Wal-Mart logo.” The smart young lad tapped the box. “See, the Wal-Mart logo.” He scooped up the box and waited for me to open the door.

Somehow this grandson who sees few commercials as his family’s television viewing derives from online, commercial-free sources was familiar enough with the Wal-Mart logo that he correctly, and immediately, identified it from some thirty feet away. I’d say that’s an effective branding story.

Like retail department stores, car manufacturers, and eating establishments, authors need branding, too. While we might understand, mostly, the WHY of branding for authors, huge questions loom about the HOW and the WHEN and the WHERE and especially the HOW.

On January 28 via Zoom, James L. Rubart will present “Author Branding Explained.” This two-hour chapter meeting will give us the tools to tackle the sometimes daunting, often confusing world of branding. 

The best-selling, Christy Hall of Fame, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of ten novels loves to send readers on mind-bending spiritual journeys that they'll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the co-author of the time traveling detective series, The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone, as well as an audiobook narrator. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. Learn more about James on his website or connect with him on Facebook.

We'll see you on January 28. 








Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Benefits of a Writing Contest

My first published piece of fiction was written as a contest entry. In 1999, AOL invited members of its fiction writers’ group to submit a Western flash fiction story (no more than 1,000 words) on a weekend writing contest. A free year’s membership was the prize. I won first place with a story titled, “Riders of the Midnight Moon.” That early bit of encouragement kept me going.

Perhaps you’ve competed in NaNoWriMo or one of ACFW’s competitions. If you’re mulling over that idea, consider some benefits of participating in a fiction writers’ contest:

Firm Deadline. Authors have to maintain a consistent work schedule to meet their publisher’s schedule. A contest deadline imposes that kind of discipline before you sign a publishing contract.

Reader Awareness. Some authors believe they can write for their own satisfaction and disregard the needs of other readers. That belief soon fades when you’re writing for a contest. You become conscious of your story’s pacing, character arcs, and other factors that will capture and hold your readers’ interest.

Peer Review. Most contests involve several rounds of evaluation, so your book will be scrutinized by agents, editors, and publishers as well as established authors. In most cases, you’ll receive some feedback from them.

Marketing Leverage. If you do win a prize, it will open doors to agents and publishers who don’t yet recognize your name.  The same is true of the general reading public. Like an Oscar or Golden Globe draws attention to a rising cinema star, a book prize focuses the spotlight on a new author.

A writing contest requires discipline and hard work, like any other aspect of a professional author’s work. Why not enter a contest? It may help you begin writing like a pro.

Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth and daughter Heather.