Most authors have little concept of product development and limited marketing skills. They are writers and were taught to create literary art, not sell. Writers conferences do a great job of helping aspiring authors to write better prose and poetry, but fall short on marketing books in this new age of book publication and distribution.
Craftsmen of the written word, like all producers of consumable products, should sample their writing as the pot boils. A writers group is a good place to do that. I try to spend an hour each week with another author discussing the other’s works in progress.
At book signings, I meet readers from all walks of life. I ask them if they would like to be advance readers; not named for their reading skills, but experts in certain facets of my story. Children of the Revolution, ca 1796-1815, had several scenes aboard a ship. Fortunately, I knew someone who was an authority on nautical terms during that time period.
Authors can’t be an authority on every subject. Whatever the subject, there are always experts available provided you reach out to them. Describing a river flowing the wrong way can ruin the scene for a book buyer that knows otherwise. I would never have known Roanoke was called Big Lick during the era of my story. Use all resources available to ensure the details are correct. Share your work as you write the manuscript and once it is complete, ask your experts if they would read the first draft.
I acknowledged the editors, Lillie Ammann and Jan McClintock, in the short space dedicated to such things in my book Children of the Revolution. Editors do the work of a word smith, sentence structure, punctuation, etc. The Advanced Readers read the manuscript for content – the meat of the story.
The readers for Children of the Revolution were selected for their reading expertise and knowledge of information pertinent to the work. My editor suggests never using anyone that loves you. Remember, the oft told joke “Do I look fat in this dress?” The Advanced Readers that helped bring this book to life are listed below.
Sue Carter is a descendent of William G. Butler, a famous South Texas rancher. Sue is President of the Karnes County Historical Society. She was chosen for her knowledge of history and being a rancher, her feel for the earth. Paul Ruckman, also a rancher, historian and avid reader has contributed towards each book in the Westward Sagas series. Ann Winkler Hinrichs, Mitchell Family Genealogist, provided much research and advice. Bill Willis is the best copy editor, I know, and co-founder of our small critique group. Bonnie Disney, a well-qualified advanced reader, educator for forty years having taught English, is now on the South Carolina State Board of Education. Carole Cordova, a stickler for details, knows my characters well and will let me know when one is out of character. Katherine Goodloe, also an English teacher with wonderful input and suggestions. Dorothy Breezee provided the editors with a well-written list of suggestions, many you will see in the book. Betty Jane Hylton, President of the Washington County Historical Society, whose vast knowledge of the geography of Eastern Tennessee and events kept the story accurate. Cousin Lester Bowles and his wife Barbara have also contributed to making the Westward Sagas series a reality.
Watch my blog for more information about Advanced Readers.
THE END, the most difficult two words I ever typed; struggling for the last year to bring The Children of the Revolution, an epic tale of the Adam Mitchell family to a conclusion. Thirty years of research now printed on a 394 page manuscript; if this story was fiction, and characters not my ancestors, the task might have been easier.
Brothers; Robert, William, John, their sisters Peggy and Ibby were truly the children of the American Revolution. The youngsters hid in the spring house with their Mother Elizabeth and Grandmother Margaret, as their father fought the British during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. British General Cornwallis said of the battle “I never saw such fighting since God made me.”
The battle started on the Hoskins land that adjoined the farm of Adam Mitchell and ended near the Mitchell home next to the original Guilford County Courthouse. At the time, the community was simply called Guilford Courthouse, now Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Westward Sagas series is not about the fighting. Only one chapter in Book One, Spring House, describes the battle. Book Two, Adam’s Daughters, and Book Three, The Children of the Revolution, are about how witnessing this bloody battle affected the children, who all survived to become first generation Americans. Future books will continue as they migrate westward to Texas.
The manuscript of book three is in my editor’s hands and advanced readers have been sent out. Hopefully soon, we will be ready to publish. To my loyal readers, THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
After the Battle
One of the joys of RVing is the interesting people I meet in my travels. At the K.O.A. RV Resort at Apache Canyon, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, I met fellow author Rainer M. Schröder and his wife, Helga. Rainer writes adventure novels in German.
Despite both of our native accents, Texan and German; we had a great conversation one evening about the book business. We agreed on many things about writing and I learned much from Rainer and Helga. I noticed Helga has a keen sense of marketing books; they have been married many years and make a great team.
Rainer is a well known author in his native Germany, having won numerous literary awards for his historical novels. We both write stories about events that actually happened; researching them thoroughly, creating fictional characters and scenes to bring history to life.
He has over twenty books listed on his FB page, none have yet been translated. I invite my German speaking friends to read his works. Hopefully, someday they will be translated and I too can enjoy them.
Rainer M. Schröder
After listening to me drop hints for the past year, my children gave me a Kindle 3G Reading Device for my birthday last month. I mentioned receiving the Kindle at my writers group and on my personal Facebook page (I also have an author/speaker page on Facebook), and many asked what I thought of it. The following is a review of the Kindle and Amazon.com from both a reader’s and an author’s point of view.
Three years ago I asked my Monday night writers group about the Kindle, and no one had any idea what I was talking about. I knew about the Kindle as my editor had suggested we make my books available for this new electronic device that Amazon.com was introducing. The first two books in the Westward Sagas Series—Spring House and Adam’s Daughters—were formatted from the start to be sold as eBooks as well as traditional paperbacks.
Being Scots-Irish and a bit old-fashioned, I have learned not to be the first to address new-fangled technology, so I held off on buying the Kindle. I continued to hear good things about the Kindle, and finally decided that I wanted one. After my children took the hints and FedEx delivered it from Amazon to my door, I knew why Amazon.com had, in a few short years, become the world’s largest retailer without having a store.
My gift was neatly wrapped with a gift card and the postage paid. In addition to a tutorial on the machine, a handy instruction card was enclosed. Within minutes I had downloaded my books and my hometown paper, the Austin American Statesman, which I used to deliver during my middle school years. My local paper, the San Antonio Express News, is not yet available on Kindle, but that is okay. If I subscribed to it electronically, my yellow lab Daisy would not have fetching the paper from the driveway to look forward to in the morning.
The device is everything it is advertised to be. I will not repeat what has already been said in the eight thousand reviews already on Amazon’s site as well as reviews from New York Times, Fast Company, Wired, and PC World. One big plus for me is that when Daisy, Lulubelle, and I load up the RV next year for our annual hiatus to Montana out of the Texas heat, I won’t have to carry the 300 pounds of research books that I use to write the Westward Sagas.
If Santa brings you a Kindle this Christmas, I hope you’ll download Spring House and Adam’s Daughters and read them on your new reading device.