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Blog Tours and How They Can Work For You

Blog Tours and How They Can Work For You

If you’re here to learn about blog tours, then you’ve likely already got a book cooling on the rack and ready for release soon. Congratulations! Many aspiring writers don’t make it this far. Take a moment to bask in your success before you go back to agonizing over details and stressing out about promotional events. If this describes you, you’ve also come to the right place. Blog tours are an excellent way to plug your new novel while avoiding the constant rush and physical stress of an all-out book tour.

What Exactly Is a Blog Tour?

Blog tour refers to a series of promotional posts and other original content across blogs in support of your new novel. It is organized in advance with content and posting dates agreed upon beforehand. The posts are also toggled, meaning they won’t all go up at once. The goal of the blog tour is to generate buzz around the release date of your novel, encouraging interested readers to go out and buy a copy.

Should I Do a Blog Tour?

Are you busy and stressed? Do you want to promote your novel without having to leave your two-year-old and spouse at home for days at a time? Then consider a blog tour. In fact, a blog tour might actually be preferable if you’re a YA writer or work within a genre. These readers are very active in the online community. Of course, these days, most consumers are active online, making blog tours excellent for reaching a wide audience.

How Will It Work?

First, you need to find your bloggers. Research blogs and choose ones with similar audiences as your own. Also, consider blogs that have done this sort of book promotion before. Reach out to them six to eight weeks before your publication date. You’ll need time to get all your ducks in a row.

Next, you’ll need to convince them. Not every blogger is going to be chomping at the bit to promote you. It helps to build a rapport first. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being used. Be friendly and interested in their blog before you ask them to be part of the tour.

You can also entice them with exclusive content and giveaways. Bloggers love this stuff because their readers love it. Exclusive content could come in the form of an interview with you, the author, a guest post written by you, or exclusive excerpts or information. Basically, give them something unique that will set their post apart from the other posts on the blog tour.

When you have your bloggers lined up, be sure to give them everything they need to be a successful part of the tour. Provide them with copies of the work well in advance so that they’ll have time to explore it. Also be sure to give them branded content, links for purchasing the work, and biographical information about you.

Finally, stay vigilant. Keep a schedule of when posts are supposed to go up and share them across your social media accounts to promote visibility. The more active you are in the process, the more people will feel like they are interacting with you.

Writing Tips for First Time Authors: Common Mistakes

Writing Tips for First Time Authors: Common Mistakes

Anyone can write a novel.

This is technically true. You don’t need a degree in English Literature or five years of experience blogging on your favorite fiction site to open a word document and start typing. However, fiction requires practice and skill. Don’t assume that because you can write the next great American masterpiece that you’re going to without putting in the time to really learn the narrative craft. Allow us to help you on your way to fame and fortune by alerting you to some common beginning writer mistakes.

Sentence Structure

Let’s start with the building blocks of the novel: sentences. A simple sentence is easy to write, but writers want to craft evocative imagery and generate suspense. That requires more than just a string of simple sentences. Unfortunately, it’s also where new writers can go off the rails.

  • Sentence variety – A narrative comprised of similar sentences will be boring or daunting to read. This also applies to starting contiguous sentences the same way.
  • Repetition – This literary device can be put to good use. However, if used improperly or too frequently, it can bog down the reader.
  • Sentence complexity – Sometimes, in their effort to avoid simple sentences, writers try to craft the most complex sentences they can. This can make the narrative confusing and hard to read.

Grammar

Some, but not all, grammar rules can be broken in creative writing. Many grammar rules are essential for cueing the reader into the meaning of a sentence. Others are a little more fluid. Know which rules you can break and which you can’t.

  • What you can do:
    • Sentence fragments – These can help with characterization and pacing. They can also be great for setting a mood.
    • Incorrect punctuation – Sometimes punctuation can be used creatively in writing, like when you want to emphasize Every. Single. Word.
    • Run-on sentences – These can also help characterize and set moods. Like sentence fragments, they can have a poetic effect.
  • Rules you can’t break:
    • Modifiers – Make sure modifying clauses are modifying the right thing.
    • Subject – verb agreement – Technically, this is ok for dialogue or a narrative voice with an affect. But it’s not ok for standard narration.
    • Pronoun-antecedent agreement – Again, this is ok in dialogue but avoid it in standard narration.

Basically, you want to ask yourself two questions: Is there a narrative purpose for breaking this grammar rule? If so, does it inhibit the reader’s understanding? If it passes both tests, then knock yourself out.

Narrative Choices

Let’s move away from the nuts and bolts and focus on style. Narration has a low floor and a high ceiling. In short, it’s easy to tell a story but difficult to tell it well. The following are common pitfalls for new writers when working with descriptions and characters.

  • All of their characters are them. They say “write what you know,” but it helps to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  • Too many points of view. We can’t all be George R. R. Martin right out of the gate. It’s hard enough developing one voice when you’re a fledgling writer, you don’t want to worry about five or more.
  • Too much front-loading of descriptions. We don’t need to know everything about a character’s looks and demeanor when we first meet them. Give us just enough to have a vague picture or impression and allow the rest to flow through dialogue, action, and intermediary descriptions.
  • Falling back on favorite similes or repeating descriptions. If you’ve referred to a character as raven-haired, it won’t do to call her raven-haired a dozen more times.

Big Picture

Finally, don’t forget the overarching point of your story (yes, your story needs a point). Have themes and a target audience in mind. Knowing these before you get started will make marketing the book much easier.

Beta-Readers: What They Are and Why You Need One

Beta-Readers: What They Are and Why You Need One

When you write something you’re truly passionate about, it can be difficult to go back through and look at it critically. Even those who are skilled at putting aside their emotions as they peruse their own work may miss plot holes or character inconsistencies. After all, it’s easy to miss the confusion that readers might experience when you already know what you meant by a description or piece of dialogue.

Unfortunately, you’re but a starving writer and can’t afford to pay an experienced editor $30-$50 an hour to look over your manuscript. Thankfully, you don’t have to. There is a happy medium between critiquing your own work and hiring a full-on editor to give it a thorough rework. That happy medium is known as the beta-reader.

What is a Beta-Reader?

Ever heard of a beta-tester? The word “beta” is often used in the gaming industry to denote that something is being tested. A beta-tester might practice playing a game, intentionally scouring it for bugs and imbalances. The beta-reader is the beta-tester for the writing community. They are not there to publish a book or offer a review. They are there to act as a practice reader and to give you valuable feedback on the reader experience.

Beta-readers can be more or less professional. They may be paid. They may volunteer their services. They might only offer an overall impression after reading a book, or they might give you a thorough line by line critique of grammar, style, and plot. In this way, they are not strictly editors or proofreaders. However, they could act as either depending on the reader and your needs.

What do Beta-Readers Look For?

Well, as we mentioned above, that’s a hard question to answer. Typically, beta-readers will look for any of the following:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Some style (particularly where it causes confusion)
  • Inconsistencies in plot, characters, tone, etc
  • Other character or plot holes

In general, beta-readers are there to represent readers and develop a broad impression while also offering guidance and pointing out problems as they read. They do not conduct full-rewrites of a manuscript.

Who Needs a Beta-Reader?

You do if you have a manuscript that you want to make reader friendly. Of course, if you’re publishing through a large or small press, you’ll almost certainly be given a beta-reader and or editor to help with your manuscript. However, if you’re going through a vanity press or self-publishing, you’ll need to find someone on your own.

Where Can I Find a Beta-Reader?

That entirely depends on the level of expertise and involvement that you’re looking for. If you want someone who can provide thorough and informed guidance, check out freelancing forums like Upwork or Freelancer for writers who can act as beta-readers. However, if you just want someone to read it and give you a general impression or more rudimentary critiques, look around you. Friends, family, and colleagues can all be beta-readers. Choose someone who reads and, even more importantly, someone you trust to be honest with you.

 

Hiring a Ghostwriter from Planning to Product

Hiring a Ghostwriter from Planning to Product

Although it is an odd profession, ghostwriting has a storied history. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ghost-composed pieces for wealthy patrons who wanted composing credits of their own. Ghostwriters have had a hand in writing famous memoirs, novels, and cookbooks. Even the Nancy Drew mystery series is really a collection of ghostwriters hired to write under the pseudonym Carolyne Keene.

What makes them ghostwriters?

The operative term is “ghost.” Ghostwriters are hired to write a piece that is officially credited to someone else. If you hire a ghostwriter for a book, it is with the understanding that, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, you wrote it.

Who uses ghostwriters?

Ghostwriters have famously been used to write memoirs for celebrities, politicians, and other high profile individuals. However, they can tackle just about any genre. Anyone with a vision or story but without the time, interest, or ability to bring it to life can hire a ghostwriter to do it for them.

Where can I find ghostwriters?

Look for freelancers where they live. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer allow people to post ghostwriting jobs and search for applicants. However, many of these sites come with fees that could drive up the price of the project. You can also try finding writers through LinkedIn or other forms of social media. Finally, check out writing blogs and reach out to writers whose work you admire.

How do I find the right ghostwriter?

Before you search for a ghostwriter, ask yourself the following questions to help you narrow down the right fit.

  • What kind/style of writer am I looking for?
  • How long do I want the piece to be?
  • When do I want it completed by?
  • How important is quality to me?
  • How much can I afford?

How much do I pay my ghostwriter?

This is a tricky question. Ghostwriters can get paid in numerous ways.

  • By the hour
  • Flat fee
  • Percentage of royalties
  • Some combination of the above

However, ghostwriter fees are highly variable. Small time eBook publishers sometimes offer $10 per 1k words. While affordable, this is not likely to inspire quality work. On the other end of the spectrum, celebrity memoirs often rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re needs are somewhere in the middle, you may be looking at $5k – $20k for an 80k word book (roughly 200-250 print pages). However, even these ranges fluctuate dramatically and depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of research and editing involved or the author’s personal interest in the project.

If you’re concerned about cost, consider a co-authorship. This is when the ghostwriter still writes the book, but both of your names appear on the cover, implying that you wrote it as a team. Offering a co-authorship can sometimes bring down the cost of the writer.

Can the ghostwriter claim authorship of my book?

All ghostwriting projects should include a contract with a confidentiality clause. This removes any right on the part of the ghostwriter to lay claim to the work. Of course, it can’t physically stop them from claiming credit anyway, but it does give you legal grounds to sue if they do, which acts as a pretty effective deterrent.

Understand Your Publishing Options: Vanity, Small, and Big Publishers

Understand Your Publishing Options: Vanity, Small, and Big Publishers

Once upon a time, authors would mail their manuscripts to publisher after publisher, hoping for someone to give them the opportunity to see their name on a glossy hardcover. Today’s publishing world is somehow both more and less forgiving. Authors have many more options for getting their work published. However, the competition remains stiff and, if they want to bag a big-name publisher, then they may find their chances even poorer now than they would have been twenty years ago.

If you’ve recently completed a manuscript, you may be overwhelmed at the publishing options available to you. Allow us to unpack some of these options and help you understand which path is your best fit.

Vanity Press

Also known as a vanity publisher or subsidy publisher, the vanity press publishes any work for a price. Traditional publishers invest in a piece of writing and take the cost risk of publishing a work with the expectation that it will sell. Vanity presses take no risk whatsoever. The author pays them to publish a book and so they do.

Because the vanity press takes no risk, it tends to have little to no criteria for what it publishes. What’s more, it invests very little in cover design, editing, marketing, or anything else that helps polish a book and make it sell.

Vanity presses will make a published work available through major distribution channels. This is attractive for authors that are having trouble getting a traditional publisher to bite. However, they often retain the rights to the author’s work and usually have full control over the sale price.

Don’t go through a vanity press if you want to make money. These organizations are better suited to authors who want to make a polished book, order a handful of copies, and share them with family and friends.

Big Publisher

Big publishers invest in good writing. They tend to pay un upfront cost to the author as well as a percentage of the sales profits (royalties). For this reason, they invest much more in art, editing, and marketing. It is, after all, in their best interest to make the book sell. Otherwise, they are the ones who lose money. Because they are so large, they have extensive resources for accomplishing this and tend to make highly polished works.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to attract big publishers. They often don’t accept unsolicited submissions and require those who submit to be working with literary agents. If you are one of the lucky few who gets published through a big publisher, you’re looking at a decent chunk of change in advances and royalties.

Small Press

Like big publishers, small presses (also called indie publishers) are looking for good writing that will sell. They take all the risk of publishing and work hard to promote material. However, they are much smaller, hence the name, and that comes with some strengths and weaknesses.

Small presses often have fewer resources than big publishers when it comes to marketing, editing, and art. They also lack the funds to compete with some of the royalty and advance payments that big publishers can afford. However, they are committed to making books sell.

On the up side, small presses are usually open to unsolicited submissions and they don’t require authors to work through literary agents, making them especially suited to first time writers. Being small, they tend to have a more intimate working relationship with authors and will give you a fair amount of individual attention.

Know Your Needs

Think about what you want to get out of publishing a book. This will help guide you toward the best fit. If you decide to go through a traditional publisher, research the publishers for books with a similar tone and audience to your own. Many publishers, especially small presses, specialize in certain genres. Targeting the right business will land you that coveted yes.

Betwixters Receives Rave Reviews!

Betwixters Receives Rave Reviews!

The reviews are coming in and we couldn’t be more pleased!

Check them out below:

 

Betwixters is a poetic and magical journey that leaves you mesmerized in the imagery.

Vanity Fair, France

Laura C. Cantu’s new Betwixters middle-grade series is a series to watch…Book One, Once Upon A Time had me excited for the next in the series.

Blogs New York Times

I just finished Betwixters. It was really fun! I Loved it! Can’t wait for the sequels. I’ve always loved faeries and fantasy stories. I’m a big fan of Piers Anthony. I just loved it! Great characters, and of course, I loved Madison and the way Cantu described her. Dogs truly are pure hearts.

Terry Fator

Winner of America's Got Talent 2007 and Headliner at the Mirage in Las Vegas

This is better than the Anne Rice books I usually read!

iHeart Radio

I can’t put it down!

Studio 3 on RoKu TV

Warning to parents: Once your kids start reading this book, they won’t want to put it down!  You may catch them with a flashlight reading after bedtime! This is a wonderfully enchanting tale of three 12-year-old friends that encounter a faerie in the dark woods near their school, and their lives are changed forever. The author weaves her story with such beautiful prose and descriptions of the characters that make you feel as if you know them and can see everything happening in your mind’s eye.

This is more than a story about faeries, though. It is a story about kids who suffer at the hands of bullies, a story about the difficulties kids encounter from parents and school teachers, and about the power of friendship. It describes characters who display incredible loyalty even in the face of great danger. They work together to save the life of a tiny, magical creature who has lost her way, having slipped through a portal from her world into the realm of human beings. In the meantime, there is an exchange between the characters that allows the reader to enter a world where there is magic in the trees, in our pets and in our hearts.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, I hated for it to end. I look forward to the sequel!

Diana Reed MD

This story is a great read for middle schoolers and even upper primary school advanced readers. The book has three twelve year old protagonists that are best friends, one girl and two boys. They are challenged by bullying, how far you will go for friendship, and facing their fears of letting their parents down. There is fantasy and intrigue tied up in the story, with a generous dose of mystery!
This is the first book in the series and I am anxious to read the next installment. The author does an excellent job of writing to the reading level in that it is easy for middle schoolers but not overly simple for adults. I highly recommend this book for both girls or boys, especially those who face or have faced adversity in school.

Judy Long

As soon as I started reading this book, it instantly reminded me of The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi. I read and re-read those books when I was younger; I absolutely loved them. Once Upon a Time had a very similar feel to it with the different magical realms that belonged to humans, faeries, gnomes… In the opening chapter, we see the faerie Neevya and how she lives in her faerie world, and then we see her fly through a portal into the human world.

Even though this book is a middle-grade novel, it didn’t feel like that. The language wasn’t too simplistic, the plot wasn’t boring; everything had a nice balance, and there was also diversity among our three protagonists! Skye is a young, black girl who dreams of being a dancer, Noah is a half-Chinese boy who is fascinated by science, and Ethan is a white, smart and funny boy who loves to tease his friends, but will also do anything for them. I absolutely loved all of the characters, and I felt like each person brought something to the book that kept on making it better. I do think that the secondary characters such as Olivia, Grucker and Scaretaker could have been developed more and I just hope that there is a book two so that this can happen. I would also love to see a novel/novella from Olivia’s point of view as I think that would be so fascinating to see what she dreams, and more importantly, how she copes with them at such a young age.

“He rubbed his eyes, not because he was tired, but because he had been staring at his computer screen for over four hours while playing his new game.”  – Laura C. Cantu, Betwixters: Once Upon a Time

The three children go on such an incredible journey, as individuals and as a team. We see them go from being scared of the school bully: Grucker, to finally having enough of keep having to watch their back and standing up to him. There was one moment in this book that really really got to me, and that was when Ethan’s parents went to his school and told the headteacher about the bullying that was going on at her school. And instead of her saying that she didn’t know but she would check it out, she just turned her nose up at the parents and told them not to tell her how to run her school. I thought that this was just so horrible to hear because unfortunately, sometimes it can be the case with some schools; they just don’t want to accept that they don’t have a handle on things. Luckily, Ethan’s parents stuck up for him and shouted at the headteacher which I thought was awesome! The form of ‘the bully’ takes on many forms throughout Once Upon a Time, and I loved reading about how the friends came together to tackle each and every one of them.

I also adored the magical elements of the book. I thought Neevya was such an amazing faerie with a fantastic personality, and I also loved the idea of the chondoras, trolls and demons that plagued the Dern. As I said before, I really really hope that there is a second book, because I need to see what else these kids get up to and I want to find out more about Scaretaker and Olivia.

Betwixters: Once Upon a Time is a brilliant middle-grade novel that is perfect for children from ages eight upwards, and I think it would be a brilliant book to have in school libraries, as it would draw children into the world full of magic and friendship, but also convey brilliant family dynamics that are full of support and love.

Side note: I also LOVED how the book was set in England. It just felt like a breath of fresh air because all of the books that I read are set in America!

Kirsty Hanson

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