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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    So, my sys admin just got back from Community Leadership Summit West, a conference for online community managers. That’s what he does. He manages an online community. That’s actually what I do, too, except he gets paid.

    This is important to writers because of the way the publishing industry is morphing from a long-time traditional model—you give us your books, and we’ll edit, publish, sell, and promote them for the lion’s share of the profit—to a new, largely-undefined model—you do whatever the heck you want, working your butt off and spending your own money to do our job for us, and we’ll go spectacularly down the tubes, as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s parent company, EMPG, is doing this very minute.

    I’ve been talking to author Ania Vesenny about blogging as a writer’s promotional tool. Does it really work?

    Well, that’s hard to say, since the one overriding quality of the Internet is its extraordinary capacity to facilitate LYING. I just read a fascinating piece by Dilbert creator Scott Adams last night on whether or not online reviews should be made illegal.

    He uses as an example a book of his based on his blog posts, which some offended readers panned in revenge for him removing the posts and turning them into a book. That handful of people reviewed him over and over and over again to give him ratings of 1 so they could artificially drag his overall rating down and discourage potential buyers. Adams cites other instances in which fake reviewers are known to abuse the opportunity to review in order to market or reverse-market. He suggests that online reviewing is routinely abused now to the extent of making it meaningless.

    In the comments on Adams’ article, reader after reader says, “Yeah, I worked for a company that always asked the employees to vote for its products in order to artificially inflate the ratings.”

    What does this mean for the average blogging writer?

    Well, for one thing the chances are you’ll never tangle with the issue personally. In order for someone to want to discourage fans, you have to have fans to be discouraged, and as Copyblogger recently observed, “No One is Reading Your Blog.”

    So something online community managers are wrestling with, in this context, is numbers. For a long time it was all about numbers. How many thousands of hits does your site get? How many thousands are following you on Twitter? If you calculate commenters as 1% of your readership, how many comments does your site have to receive in order to imply the necessary thousands of readers it takes to attract advertisers or, on the other hand, book buyers and, by extension, a traditional publisher?

    Take note of that word “imply.” I was, needless to say, shocked when my sys admin remarked recently in a conversation about site hits, “People lie.”

    “What do you mean, lie? Aren’t there counters to prevent them from doing that?”

    “Counters can be tweaked.”

    “Are you kidding me? People lie about how many hits they get? Like, by the thousands?”

    “Sure. You can’t stop them. You say, ‘How many readers do you have?’ and they say, “Ten thousand,’ and there is no way on earth to verify or not verify that.”

    “Huh.” I was nonplussed. “So all those other sites out there—”

    Man, am I naive.

    And since the Internet makes it possible to lie about your hits, the only way to guess at a blogger’s real numbers is to look at their comments and extrapolate a formula. Which is still, actually, guessing. This is compounded by the fact that the Internet also makes it possible for you to lie about whether or not you are, in fact, your own commenters. There’s even a term—“sock puppet”—for faking your identity online. Lying about who you are.

    And the motivation to lie is proportionally increased based upon what you can gain by lying. People, for all their presumed savvy in this Digital Age, are still quite easily manipulated by the herd, even when it’s imaginary.

    It’s kind of touching, really.

    So someone came up with the term “kwanzas” to describe sites without the gargantuan numbers, sites where a small handful of people read, comment, shoot the breeze together. . .form human connections. This is now all the rage: focus not on numbers, but on participation. Quality, not quantity.

    Well, that’s nothing new. In fact, the dichotomy of quality over quantity has been an issue ever since the rise of advertising and its demon offspring marketing created the potential for false assumptions about quality based on quantity. We’re talking the entire twentieth century.

    So what IS the purpose of a blog? And how well does it fulfill it?

    For a writer promoting a book, the purpose is to bring in potential buyers. But given that the numbers you read about when you listen to social media ‘experts’ are simply not the numbers you, personally, experience, how does that affect what you hope to achieve with your blog?

    Back up.

    Because before you can determine what you want out of your blog, as a writer you must first determine what you want out of your book.

    And marketers and social media ‘experts’ aside, what you want does not entirely determine what you get.

    What is your purpose in being a writer? Are you writing because you love to write? Are you writing because you want to be read by other people (e.g. strangers)? Are you writing to get personal validation from agents and editors and publishers (“You’re better than those other losers who are always trying to get our attention”)? Are you writing to make money? Are you writing to make a mint?

    All of these things do not add up to the same thing.

    If your goal is to get personal validation from heavy-weights in the publishing industry, well, all I can say is good luck to you and about two hundred thousand others exactly like you. Blog to impress them that you’re willing to do your own promotion. They’ll look at your numbers.

    If your goal is to be read by others, hey, throw it out on Lulu and see what happens. Blog to attract the interest of folks out there who are also interested in your subject matter and/or writing style and/or attitude. (Do not underestimate attitude. Blogs that succeed wildly do so to a large extent on their attitude.)

    If your goal is to make money, you’re simply going to have to get a real job. But you would have had to do that, anyway.

    My goal has been since I was about 18 years old to play with words and language and storytelling and description and dialog and characters, plus fonts and page layout and books and more words. I wanted to open a book and see my own stuff looking exactly the way I designed it to look. And that’s what I’m working on now.

    It didn’t turn out right the first time around, with a traditional publisher.

    But now I’m spending my days editing and polishing essays on my all-time favorite subject matter, the craft of fiction. I’m writing new pieces to cover aspects I forgot to cover before, playing with typefaces, putting my stuff into Page Preview, and paging through it admiringly. I’m sitting around scratching my head over things like action scenes (how do you analyze them? dissect them? write them?) and word choice (to adverb or not to adverb?) and Bookman italic and bold and what less-technical terms I can use for section and subsection, since I don’t want my book to read like a technical manual.

    My book isn’t even published yet, and here I’ve already achieved my lifelong goal!

    Oh, BOY.

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    4 Comments

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    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    4 Comments

4 Responses to “Blogging to promote your book”

  1. I really enjoyed this, Victoria. It really does come down to what our goal is for writing. I’m thrilled that you’re achieving your lifelong goal. 😀

  2. Thanks, Michelle!

    Achieving a lifelong writing goal can take a lot of wrenching your supposed goals around to match your actual goals—our whole cultural picture of what it means to be an Author bears very little resemblance to either real authors or the real dreams of those trying to become them, particularly as marketers and writing ‘teachers’ and others-who-stand-to-gain-from-it, in increasing numbers, fan the flames of illusion.

    It’s all smoke and mirrors! How will the emerging publishing industry affect that? Honestly, I’m on the edge of my seat.

    Victoria

  3. I have to agree, this is a very well-written post and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. (I’m the sysadmin mentioned above)

    I really like the idea of soul-searching to determine the goal *before* doing all the work everyone says we are supposed to be doing. I have been struggling with these questions since I started blogging, in particular over the past year as I ponder whether I should write a (non-fiction) book, and why. My research shows that it can’t be for the money, so could it be for the notoriety alone? What would that get me in the long run? It must be something, else I wouldn’t keep wondering about it.

  4. Well, Jeff, one thing we’ve talked about regarding your possible non-fiction book is your reputation in your field. That’s an issue that can make a real difference to a professional.

    When you look at the authors of non-fiction books that do well, what you generally find is that the books grew out of the authors’ expertise, not the other way around. It seems terribly unfair if you’ve spent your life dreaming of being a publishing author to discover the people who have the best luck at it actually don’t really care about writing as much as they care about the topic they write about.

    That’s probably why non-fiction is so much wider of a field and sells so much better than fiction. In a highly literate society, literacy is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end.

    Victoria



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