Category Archives: Books

3 Things I Wish I’d Said at the Book Festival

Cindy Thomson and Karen Harper

With author Karen Harper at Ohioana 2017

Yesterday I enjoyed appearing at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio, a festival I’ve appeared at for several years now. It’s a great time to meet new readers, reconnect with those who have read my books, and mingle with other authors, bookstore owners, librarians, and book lovers. This year I was asked to be on a panel with other authors who have published both traditionally and independently. There was a lot of discussion, but there were a few things that didn’t get said.

 

If you are AN AUTHOR WHO WANTS SOME ADVICE ABOUT THE PROCESS, this post is for you!

What I Wish I'd Said about Self-publishing at the book festival panel. #indiepublishing… Click To Tweet

1. Don’t Rush to Publication

flickr by Ann Arbor District Library

I get it. It’s discouraging when you learn how long a publisher takes to get a book out. You just want your book to be launched to the world, and you don’t want it to take sooooo loooong! While doing it yourself will most likely get your book to the marketplace quicker than a traditional publisher would, don’t rush the process. Take the time needed to polish your book, to send it to critique partners and early readers, to get it to an editor, to make changes, to perfect the book cover and title, to get some reviews and endorsements prior to publishing, and to create some pre-publication buzz. You will also need time to review proof copies, make any necessary changes, and wait for the first copies to be printed and shipped to you.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a self-published author say something like, “I need to get my next book out by September and it’s already July and I only have half of it written.” No, no, no! Stop it! That’s just not enough time to do all the things I’ve listed above. Remember, you are in charge. Not having a deadline forced on you is one of the advantages of doing it yourself. No one is insisting you have your book out by a certain date. You may be shooting for something like launching it at a book festival or getting it out before you have knee surgery, but plan for that way in advance. Rushing never produces anything good. I’m sure your parents told you that when you were younger. That advice never goes out of style.

2. Carefully Consider the Title and Cover

flickr by Karen

Get second opinions, lots of them. I have seen (I’m sure you have too) many terrible covers done by indie authors on their own computers. The fact is, we do judge books by their covers. If you are not an accomplished artist, don’t do it. You don’t want to risk having your cover show up on one of these sites. There are stock images sites, and photo sharing sites where you can get images for low cost or for free that are high resolution. For print books your image must be high resolution. But even if you use a quality image, choosing the best font type, size, and color requires a practiced eye. You may think you know what looks good, but obviously many people are getting it wrong. You will also need to consider how it will look online as a thumbnail and how the spine will look. The genre of your book should be considered. Look at others that sell well and study them.

I worked with an artist and saved money by bartering some writing services. I have gotten many compliments on my covers. Most people don’t realize that this cover:

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Book Three, Ellis Island Series

was not created by the publisher who did these two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most important thing I wish I’d had time to talk about….

3. Get a Professional Editor

During the panel discussion it was mentioned that you’d need to either hire someone or get friends who are really good at it to edit your manuscript. No, no, no! Stop it! Please don’t think your friends, even avid readers and college professors, can edit your books. They may make it better and serve a valuable role in the process, but you need to finish with a pro in order to produce a professional product, one in which the reader doesn’t even notice the editing. Yes, that costs money. Again, planning ahead is critical. Having had some wonderful editors with my traditional books, I knew how valuable that process is. You do need to pay people for the work they do for you. Save your money. Do some freelance magazine writing, take on an extra job, Some people are using crowd funding. I did a little of that with Sofia’s Tune (thank you, contributors!) For my next book I won a grant I applied for to pay for one of the best editors out there.

Flickr by Seth Sawyers

Anything less than a professional editor will result in a book that is less than it could have been. Who wants that? Even if your book is free from typos and grammatical errors, an editor will have feedback about flow, about the organization, clarity, and word choice. Once you’ve worked with a professional editor, you will understand that a good editor will make you look smarter, and just generally help you be a better writer than you ever thought you could be. Don’t skip it. Don’t skimp. Just don’t.

But here’s an advantage you will have by publishing on your own. You will most likely use a publishing platform like Create Space. Your print books will be print on demand. If you find a mistake you can temporary take that title down, fix the mistakes, and re-post it. Your changes can also be made to your ebooks. By not having thousands printed like a traditional publisher would do, you will not have thousands of books with your name out there with errors.

I should say a word here about copy editors. If you don’t know the difference between a copy editor and a substantive editor, that’s enough to tell you you need a pro. I had a great edit for Sofia’s Tune. I put the book out there. And then I kept finding typos and misspellings that we’d both missed. Not the editor’s fault. She was not doing a copy edit. I happen to have a friend named John who is great at finding those things. He even found mistakes when I was re-publishing a traditionally published book that went out of print that the original editors had not caught. John now goes over all my self-published books at the very end, right before I send them to a formatter (which is another service I hired out. Not expensive and so worth it since ebooks and print books have to be formatted differently.) Try as you might, you WILL miss things in your manuscript. So will your mother and best friend (unless John is your best friend.) Trust me on this.

So Now I Said It

Those are the things I wish I’d said to the room full of writers who came to the panel. They might not read it here, but just in case, I wanted to try. And I hope others stop by to learn a little of what I’ve learned along the way. (And I’m still learning!) Let me know if you have any questions!

 

Update on My One Word

My One Word for 2017

I thought I’d give you an update since my post on My One Word. I have had some confirmation that I wanted to show you. First, if you didn’t read that other post (that’s okay, I won’t make you!) the word I chose, or the word I felt compelled to choose, is BELOVED. I don’t know if that sounds a little self-absorbed, so let me explain. I need to be reminded that God loves me. If I can keep that in the front of my mind as I go about my daily life, I should be able to feel less sorry for myself, less like a failure, and impose less negative self-talk. As I said in that linked post, on the show Touched By An Angel, the angels always proclaimed to the humans: God loves you.

It’s powerful to think about.

Beloved

I made my own “One Word” jewelry this year. But there are lots of good options on Etsy.

Little Hints

There have been some confirmations that I have the right word. The book pictured below was a Christmas gift from a friend. And see that little sticker? At church last Sunday a cute little girl named Bailey stuck it on my back. I didn’t know at the time why she was patting me on the back, but when I saw other random people with them, I started to figure it out. (Must have been a Sunday school project.) My son’s mother-in-law discovered it on my back when we went up for communion. Not everyone had one, mind you. A sign! So I stuck it on my book. I was not about to part with it!

66 Ways God Loves You

Why I Chose My Word

A big part of why I chose Beloved was a book I read. (No surprise if you know anything about me!) Let me know what words are inspiring you in 2017!

Deeply Loved

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2iXzDfA

99 Cent Books to Start the New Year!

Great Savings on Ebooks!

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

Book One, Ellis Island Series

What better way to start 2017 than with a great deal on some ebooks? My publisher has Grace’s Pictures on sale all month, along with some other great reads. Only 99 cents in January! Click here for the deal.

Grace’s Pictures is the first book of the Ellis Island series, so if you haven’t gotten started, now’s a great time.

But Wait, There’s More!

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Book Three, Ellis Island Series

There is also a sale on Sofia’s Tune (book 3 in the Ellis Island series.) But you have to hurry with this one. The price is 99 cents for a couple of days, then goes up to 1.99 for a few days, and then back to its regular price of 2.99, which seriously is still a good deal.

Sofia’s Tune (Ellis Island Book 3) <<<Click this link for the deal.

 

That’s Not All!

a-house-for-agnes-cover-free-tag-picDid you know there is a sequel to the series? It’s short, but helps to explain how Mrs. Hawkins came to open Hawkins House, the setting of all three novels. And it’s FREE! You can’t do better than free. All you need to do is sign up for newsletter. You probably saw a pop-up, but if not, click here.

Happy Reading!

photo by Paul Bence

photo by Paul Bence

Better Than a New Year’s Resolution

2017My New Year’s Tradition

I’ve been picking a word each year, something that I think I’m supposed to learn. Usually, it means something different than I thought it would. Last year’s word, meant to me that I should do more of it: “Create” but it also meant I needed some re-creating of my heart and mind. There were so many ups and downs in 2016, that I had to be flexible and look at things differently sometimes.

My One Word

This year I have been hearing the message, a very good message, that God loves me. It’s an important message that I think I and many other people tend to forget. It’s way too easy to have a pity party. I don’t need to do that to myself. I feel more blessed with how my life is than perhaps any other time in my life. But still…we always want more, don’t we? And when we think our prayers are going unheard, especially when those prayers are for others, not ourselves…well, it’s easy to forget who loves us. So, #myoneword for 2017 is BELOVED.

I hope it reminds me daily that God loves me. Remember the popular TV show, Touched by An Angel? The characters were angels with orders to do things on earth to help people. And when they revealed themselves they announced, “God loves you.”

Chose #myoneword for 2017. Find out what my word is. Click To Tweet

A Good Book

I’ve mentioned this in past years, but just in case you’re interested in picking a word and want to know more about it, pick up this book. And if you’ve chose a word, let me know in the comments.

My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word

 

My One Word

The Pursuit

The Journey of a Book

4222f-img_0583Writing is a definitely a creative pursuit, but it’s not all about creating an entertaining read, although it is that. It’s about a journey, a process, a growing and ever-changing trek through the publishing wilderness. And believe me, it is wild out there. I have talked before about my seven years in the writing desert. During that time I thought I was wandering hopelessly about, but in fact there was a plan and Brigid of Ireland would not be my only novel. It’s that uncertainty that makes a writer’s life a journey.

 

 

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

When my advanced copies of Grace’s Pictures arrived, I thought my wandering in the writing desert was over.

The Detours

The thing about journeys is they are usually unpredictable. As soon as you decide you know how things will be, they change. This can be upsetting. People don’t like change, not much anyway. This perspective is sometimes altered by taking a trip. Take for instance these photographs below from my 2013 trip to Ireland. We were visiting St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Clonfert. We went looking for that because I’ve been intrigued by St. Brendan’s journey for some time. I’d seen photographs of this lovely building, and it was a wonder to see up close.

IMG_1132 IMG_1133

But then, just a few steps away, I spotted this.

IMG_1149

We went inside after those ladies there were finished and followed the path. It wove around in the woods and past a few spots where children had left toys. A sort of secret garden? And then…IMG_1152

It led to this view. Something we would have missed had we not stopped off on this detour.

IMG_1153

This is only one example. The BEST experiences in Ireland (and probably in many other places) is taking wrong turns and even getting lost because there is so much beauty around every corner.

The best experiences in the life of a #writer are the detours. Click To Tweet

We Are Never Truly Lost

Not if we keep looking up! A wise writer friend with tons more publishing experience than I have once told me how excited she was to find out what God had for her next. And she was sincere. I thought I’d never get to that place, but today (and it is one day at a time) I’m moving in that direction. It’s very much like life. We can plan, but we don’t have control over everything. And often, the best things are experiences and circumstances and meeting new people that we would never have imagined.

What’s your journey been like thus far? What are you looking forward to?

Win a Free Book!

I recently posted this on my Facebook page:

NEW: Enter to win your choice of one of my ‪#‎books‬. Leave a review (of any one of my books) on Amazon.com between now and May 31 and send me the link. Must send link to be entered. Facebook is not afflilated with this giveaway. Drawing will be held June 1 and winner must respond to message by June 8, 2016. US RESIDENTS ONLY. Please share. TY!

Make An Author Happy

Why I’m Asking Pretty Please

Reviews help readers find books, and mine are off the radar and could use some attention, especially my newest books. If you could help by posting a review on Amazon I would appreciate it so very much. And, you can do more by just copying your review and pasting it on other retail sites such as Barnes and Noble. Goodreads is another excellent site for readers where you can post a review.

photo: Enokson

photo: Enokson

I’m Making it Easy to Post Reviews!

And to make it super easy for you, here are some links:

My Books on Amazon

My Books on B&N

My Books on Goodreads

My Books on Fiction Finder (an excellence service by ACFW that helps readers find books where my books have almost no reviews at all!)

Post a selfie like Jaime to let others know what you're reading.

Post a selfie like Jaime did to let others know what you’re reading.

Shout It Out!

And finally, let others know about my giveaway. If you are on Twitter, click below. If you are on Facebook, share this post.

Post a review for a chance to win your choice of these books! http://bit.ly/1NTnMaN Click To Tweet

Thank you!!

Coming Soon: New Books!

Here’s what is coming soon from me:

Celtic Cross photo by Cindy ThomsonIn a few short weeks I will have the reprinted, revised, updated non-fiction book titled The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning From Ancient Voices. It’s a newer version of my book Celtic Wisdom, but in paperback with some new material and new black and white photographs. I think you’re going to love it! Subscribers to my newsletter (see link above or click here) will see the cover first and learn when the release date will be. Here’s a synopsis:

This collection of classic Irish wisdom in the form of stories, prayers, and proverbs, reveals the Creator in the natural world and highlights the importance of the Celtic spiritual heritage. Along with historical background on St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Columcille, and the Twelve Apostles of Erin, Cindy Thomson leads the reader on an enriching journey through Celtic learning and prayer.

Coming Later This Summer:

My novel, the sequel to Brigid of Ireland: Pages of Ireland. More on this to come.

Do You Love All Things Irish?

Tell me why…

About Those Book Reviews

More of What Readers Need to Know

Reader

via Flickr Laury Rouzé

I posted about this before, but today I read an article in the ACFW newsletter that I think might  best help explain to readers why posting book reviews is critical to authors. I’m reposting here with permission. If you, too, think it’s helpful, please share.

Reader’s review provides at least 4 key benefits for a book and its author via @acfw & @cynthiaruchti Click To Tweet

ACFW Tidbits

by Cynthia Ruchti 

Do you write book reviews? Some say a reader’s review provides at least four key benefits for a book and its author:

1.     Credibility. When publishers, retailers, libraries, and prospective readers see a large number of reviews for a book, they know the book has drawn a measure of attention.

2.     Visibility. Algorithms of online retailers like cbd.combn.com, and amazon.com dictate that books with large numbers of positive reviews will obtain a more prominent visual presence on their sites.
3.     Quote resource. Many authors share snippets of a positive review to help others get a feel for the book’s tone, theme, or impact.
4.     Persuasiveness. Reviews can entice prospective readers, retailers, and libraries to purchase books they might have bypassed without the review.

via Flickr GotCredit

via Flickr GotCredit

If you’re a published author, you’ve no doubt seen both beneficial and what might be construed as harmful reviews. You may have asked others to post a review for your book. Have you also provided a guideline for the kind of review that would be most helpful? Consider using these tips when writing reviews or when inviting others to review a book for you:

·      For a blog or online retail review, if the teaser for the book or the book’s back cover copy is already part of the blog or book information visible to those who will read your review, there’s no need to repeat that information. An online review is not a book report. It’s a reaction to the story and its impact.

·      Resist the temptation to reveal any element about the plot or characters that will spoil the book for other readers. Few things make an author cringe more than having a reviewer give away an important plot point that took two-thirds of the book to set up.
·      Keep it as short as you can and still communicate what you need to or are compelled to say.
·      Don’t change your review in response to what others have said about the book. Be genuine. But do skim other posted reviews to ensure you’re not merely repeating what has already been said. Your review will be most meaningful if it adds another dimension to the reviews’ “discussion” about the book’s merits.
photo by denise carbonell

photo by denise carbonell

·      Limit your comments about the story to the story. If your book was damaged in shipping, or you never have liked that genre (and still don’t), or if page 211 was missing in your copy, or the margins on the Kindle version were messed up, that’s not a review of the book. Those comments need to be directed elsewhere.

·      Watch carefully for what the stars mean. Don’t inadvertently give a book a one-star rating because you think that means it’s a top-notch book, first place on your bookshelf. Take time to make sure you’re communicating accurately.
·      Don’t forget to include a review on Goodreads.comand FictionFinder.com.
Thanks to Cynthia Ruchti acfwrelations@acfw.com for allowing me to reprint this.