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C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain, Happy Birthday!

November 30, 2018– C.S. Lewis’ birthday was technically yesterday (November 29) but Mark Twain’s is today! Let’s celebrate both authors right now by sharing some interesting facts about them and their works.  We’ll start with C.S. (the beloved author of Chronicles of Narnia)!

  1. C.S. stands for Clive Staples. He was known by his initials rather than his full name because, at the time, it was considered more formal and intellectual to be known professionally by initials rather than first name.
  2. He hated his first name. So much so that he nicknamed himself “Jacksie” after his childhood pet (a dog) that was struck and killed by a car. As an adult, he went by the name Jack.
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien was one of his BFF’s. Both met at Oxford University in England where they were professors. They were life-long friends even after some heated discussions and disagreements about each other’s work!

Let’s talk about Mark Twain, most famously known for writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (two of my most favourite books ever!)

  1. He wasn’t expected to live. Mark Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was very sickly as a baby and well into childhood to about the age of seven. Twain was born two months early and was the sixth of seven children. He was one of three to survive into adulthood.
  2. He almost drowned… nine times. Before the age of thirteen, Twain almost drowned a documented, nine times. I wonder how many times weren’t documented!
  3. He was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet. The comet crosses the Earth’s skies every 75 years. In 1909 Mark Twain predicted that he would die with Halley’s comet the next year. Just as Mark Twain predicted, he passed the night after the comet lit up the sky at the age of 75. It was the second death he predicted, the first being his brother’s.

I hope that you’ll take the time to celebrate both of these iconic authors by reading some of their works! Happy Birthday to C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain.
X LLB

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It’s Who You Know…

November 28, 2018– I know that authors are usually introverts who enjoy spending a lot of time alone. If we didn’t enjoy our alone time, we’d never get anything done. Spending time in solitude is essential when trying to finish your novel, but spending too much time by your lonesome is detrimental to your business and sales.

Networking is essential to your business of writing, whether you’re traditionally or self-published. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals allows you to connect and build relationships, and after all, isn’t that the point? Here are some tips below on how to get networking:

  1. Join a professional association. I am a member of three writing associations that make sense for what I write about.  I urge you to do the same. Do a quick Google search for writing associations that you can apply to. The first association I belong to is the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Canada, the second is The SOA (Society of Authors) in the United Kingdom, and the third is Sisters in Crime, the American National Chapter. All of these associations have publications that I subscribe to, and they offer networking opportunities around the world. For example, this coming February I will be attending a weekend conference in New York City with the SCBWI, where I am excited to meet my colleagues to build new and existing relationships. All of these have local chapters which I drop in on from time to time. Joining professional associations has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because not only does it help sell my books, it also allows me to keep on top of what is going on in the industry and has unlocked many new doors and opportunities. You never know who you’re going to meet that can change your life or who’s life YOU can change!
  2. Join your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI. BNI stands for Business Network International, and it’s a very valuable source of referrals for people. I just recently became a member, and after the first meeting, I had three people ask me about what services I offer and if they could get a price quote on some special projects. Your Chamber of Commerce is also a great place to network and meet new people who could be looking for your services as a writer, or even wanting to read your next book. Don’t forget, wanting referrals is great, but you MUST build meaningful relationships first. It’s not only about what other people can do for you, but it’s also what you can do for them too.
  3. Give back. Support a cause that you believe in. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we support a lot of causes that are close to our hearts; AAA minor hockey for a local team, Concussion, and Brain Injury clinics, kids derbies of all kinds, and of course, animal rescues and charities. Doing this fills our bucket, and we meet a ton of people along the way. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Talk to people, enjoy their company, and make a difference at the same time.

So go! Get out there and start connecting with people, you’ll be so glad that you did.

X LLB
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One Isn’t the Loneliest Number…(It’s the most dangerous!)

November 26, 2018– We’re talking about the business of writing again and this goes for authors too so listen up! One isn’t the loneliest number, it’s the most dangerous and here’s why; if you’re relying on one of anything, you’re about to have major problems.

The number one makes your business fragile, brittle, and wobbly. Here are some things that are bad when it comes to the number one:

  1. You only have one book.
  2. You only have one source of leads.
  3. You only have one major supplier.
  4. You only have one type of product.
  5. You only have one major customer.
  6. You only have one type of service.
  7. You only have one source of income.

Why is this so bad? Because having one of anything simply leads to ONE, SINGLE point of failure. This means that any small change in circumstances could devastate your business and your career. Don’t put yourself in this situation, start working on multiples. Multiple books, multiple income streams, multiple buyers and suppliers and products. This way, if one thing fails, you can pivot to the next thing. I run my business under the constant question of, “WHAT IF?” and this way of thinking has saved me more than once.

  • What if your largest customer leaves you for the competition or they don’t require your products/services anymore?
  • What if your main source of leads dries up?
  • What if your main marketing strategy stops working?
  • What if your supplier goes out of business?
  • What if you don’t have e-books and the bookstore you have your book in goes out of business?

What if, what if, what if? Some people may disagree with my way of thinking and say that I’m being pessimistic and looking at the glass as half empty. Think what you will but this strategy allows me to prepare for the worst and hope for the best; it also allows me to have a plan of action should the crap hit the fan. This way of thinking allows me to feel more in control and that I can handle anything that gets thrown my way because I constantly have a backup plan.

As an author and entrepreneur are you prepared for the worst? Things change constantly and change is the only constant. Be prepared and get to work with new books, new products, new strategies, and new contacts.

X LLB

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Quick! What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

November 23, 2018– I remember it like it was yesterday. I was having a lunch meeting with an up and coming author that I was about to sign on to my publishing house, when the waitress stopped by our table, “How is everything? What are you guys working on?”
I said, “We are discussing his book.” The waitress said, “Oh wow! Tell me about it!” That’s when things went to hell in a handbag.

The author then proceeded to tell the waitress almost every damn thing about his book from the complexity of the characters to the interwoven plot that had several twists and turns and was going to be a series. I watched politely as the waitress’ eyes glazed over and the potential author hammered the last nail into the coffin of his would be deal. He kept blabbing and going around in circles trying to prove to the waitress and perhaps to me that he was some kind of literary genius that was only resurrected once in a lifetime. It was way too much and the deal died that day on the spot. The meeting dragged on as he continued to talk about his work and I was grateful when it was finally over.

He was a good enough writer, but he definitely lacked the thing that most authors do…the conciseness of a perfectly perfected elevator pitch. After all, if this author said all this to a waitress, I was willing to bet the business that he would be even worse with prospective readers! Don’t make the same mistake that he did, when someone asks about your book, tell them about it in 1-2 sentences. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Don’t forget the hook.

That’s it. It’s that easy. No more and no less. If someone were to ask me about my middle-grade novel, The Old Farmer’s Treasure in the elevator up to the sixth floor of Tiffany’s here’s what I would say, ” Imagine that you’re thirteen years old and you’ve found a deadly secret that your family has been hiding for years. You can have riches beyond your wildest dreams; all you have to do is follow the clues in a  life-threatening race against time.” Short, sweet, and hooked. I guarantee if you follow those rules, that people will want to know more. That’s when you can expand on the information that you give them, not too much, but just enough.

Practice your elevator pitch for your book, you never know when you’ll be stuck inside with a reader or someone who can change your fate.
X LLB

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Surprise; You’ll Want In On This!

November 21, 2018– This was a really fun idea for us to come up with and I’m so excited to share it with you guys! Pandamonium Publishing House is offering you a chance to read what we’re reading each month with a surprise book, mailed right to your home. Currently, this option is for adults only, but I’m sure we’ll have something for kids in the works, soon!

We read a ton of books around here, last year the total was sixty! We read everything from non-fiction, self-help, business development, mystery, romance, thrillers, all types of fiction, and basically anything that we can get our hands on.

Our surprise book is shipped out every month on the 5th. Your book comes gift wrapped for an extra element of fun! Here’s how the program works:

  1. Go to SHOP at the top of this page
  2. Click on the MYSTERY BOOK OF THE MONTH option
  3. Enter your payment and shipping info
  4. Wait for your surprise book to come in the mail

That’s it! Pretty simple and there are no subscriptions required if you want to join one month but not the next, no problem, the choice is yours!

As an added bonus, there will be a list of questions emailed to you for discussion with us or your book club. We’ll review each book on our site as well. This makes a fabulous and unique gift for the hard to buy for person in your life…we all have one;)

Here’s to making reading exciting,

X LLB

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Freelance Writing for Money…

November 19, 2018– You read the headline correctly; you can make money by freelance writing…IF you do it correctly. Here’s what you need to know about starting your own writing business: (Also, I don’t think that I need to mention that you should be a writing professional in some capacity before starting your own writing for money business).

  1. Decide what you are going to offer. Are you going to start a resume writing service? Are you going to edit people’s manuscripts? Are you going to write copy for a business such as a real estate office or medical center? Are you going to edit e-books before publication? There are so many things to choose from. I recommend choosing something that you’re really familiar and comfortable with to start, as your skills continue to develop, you can expand into new territories.
  2. Set a price point. How much will you charge for your services? What is the timeline in which your work will be completed? Will you have a contract? Will you charge per word or per chapter or per project? Will you charge by the hour or a lump sum? I recommend having a clear idea of what your price includes and what it doesn’t and being straightforward with your clients so that there is no confusion and you aren’t spending hours working for free.
  3. Find clients and writing projects. Now that you know what you’re offering and how much it will cost, you have to find clients for your business. Start by putting an ad on sites like Kijiji and Craig’s list. Also, get business cards printed and leave them wherever you go, like when you’re going out to dinner, leave a stack at the library on the front desk, hand them out to friends and family and encourage them to spread the word. Use social media to your advantage, put up samples of your work and your contact information as well as pricing. Brainstorm a list of businesses that could use your services if you’re offering copywriting. If you’re offering resume writing services, approach colleges, and universities. Make a list of all the people you know who could use what you have to offer and talk to them!
  4. Ask for referrals. Once you’ve got your first client under your belt and they’re happy with your work, ask them if there’s anyone they know who could also benefit from your services. You can also ask them to post a review on social media with a link to your email or website; this will lend to your credibility and people tend to work with people that others have recommended and trust.

Remember, there are a lot of ways to get paid to write and we only touched on a couple of them in the above post; don’t forget that you can be paid by magazines and publications who are looking for submissions! Here’s to your success, happy writing!

X LLB

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November 18th is High-Five a Librarian Day!

November 16, 2018– This year, November 18 falls on a Sunday where most libraries are closed, but that’s no reason not to celebrate this super cool day a couple of days early.

Let’s face it, librarians are akin to superheroes…in my book anyway, no pun intended. The amount of help that they have provided me over the years is staggering; from finding reference books for research purposes, or recommending the next best thriller, to having me as a guest speaker at an event that they’ve organized, I take my hat off to them for all of their excellent service and knowledge. Thank you for everything.

It saddens me that where we are, librarians are being phased out in schools and there’s no such thing as a library anymore, it’s been replaced with something called a learning commons. I remember as a student relishing in the days that we got to go to the library to pick our books and the magic that the choosing entailed. Our librarian would read us a story before we chose our books and that was the best part of the day. It’s terrible that kids won’t experience this anymore as cutbacks and the bottom line seem to be the topic of conversation in the school system these days.

My elementary school librarian fostered my love of reading and perhaps subconsciously, she added to my desire to be an author and to be surrounded by books at all times.

So, today, tomorrow, and on Monday, be sure to high-five your favourite librarian! They deserve to be appreciated each day of the year, but especially today.

X LLB

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Recommended Reading…Make Your Bed

November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write.  We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.

Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.

I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)

X LLB

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Special Opportunity for Our Canadian Friends!

November 13, 2018– I’m very excited to tell you that my company is expanding by the day; I have a unique opportunity, dear fellow Canadians, that I think you could be interested in! This is perfect for those who want to earn some extra Christmas Cash.
We are looking for ambassadors to join our growing team! Pandamonium Publishing House is looking for moms and dads who love to read and who believe that literacy matters. Our home based business opportunity is as easy as 1, 2, 3, and you can work as much or as little as you want.

Here’s all you have to do:

1) Send us an email inquiring about this post to pandapublishing8@gmail.com
2) We explain what we do, how the business works, and what we need from you. No multi-level marketing and you work from the comfort of your own home.
3) You decide if you want to do it and if we are a good fit for you. That’s it!

Contact us today. Pandamonium Publishing House, where reading and writing is exciting!

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Let’s Set Some Guidelines…

November 12, 2018– As a traditional publisher, I get a lot of questions about guidelines when writing. Sometimes I’ll receive a manuscript submission that doesn’t have the appropriate amount of content, and unfortunately for that writer, it means that it’s a no from me for picking up their script.

I want to discuss some word count guidelines in this post, but please keep in mind if you are deciding to self-publish, you can bend these rules a little. What’s that old saying? You have to know what the rules are before you break them? Sounds about right!

  1. Children’s Picture Book The industry standard for children’s picture books are 28 pages of interior, illustrated pages. There are 32 pages in total, 4 of the pages are left for the first interior cover page, the copyright page, and two blank pages. The 28 page count is usually 13 double spreads (the same scene happening across 2 pages) and 2 single illustrations (where a different scene is happening on each of the two pages). 13×2=26+2=28+4 blank pages= 32. Average word length is 400-800 words and up to 1000 words maximum.
  2.  Middle-Grade- The industry standard for middle-grade novel word counts is from 20,000 – 55,000 words, depending on the age range and subject matter, however, the word count of these books has been trending up in recent years. When writing longer works that are aimed at 12-year-olds and could be considered “tween”, using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 40,000 – 55,000 words. These are books that are similar to young adult in subject matter and storytelling but still tend to stick to tame themes and avoid hot-button issues. With a simpler middle-grade idea rather than a complex one, aim lower- 20,000 to 35,000 words is acceptable.
  3. YA (Young Adult)- The industry standard for young adult novels is pretty flexible. 55,000-79,999 is a good range for word count. The books seem to be trending on the longer end currently which is to say that you could write well into the 85,000-word range and still be ok. Just know that you better have a good reason for going that high! Higher word counts tend to show publishers that the writer does not know how to edit their work or themselves. Don’t go lower than 47,000 words on the low end of things.
  4. SCI-FI and Fantasy– The industry standard for Sci-fi and fantasy are exceptions to word counts because the categories historically run long. It really has to do with the world building and descriptions used to set the scene. With both of these genres 100,000 – 115,000 words is a perfect range. On the low end, 90,000 to 99,000 is also acceptable with the ideal range being 100,000.
  5. Adult novels: Commercial & Literary– Here are some industry standards, again, we are talking about ranges so keep that in mind. Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is the range to aim for.  This word count is the perfect range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere. You can have as few as 71,000 words and as many as 109,000 words.

80,000 – 89,999:       Best
90,000 – 99,999:       Safe
70,000 – 79,999:       All right
100,000 – 109,999:   Okay
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long

6. Memoir The industry standard for Memoir writing word counts is the same as a novel which is between 80,000-89,999 words. Keep in mind that most people don’t know how to edit their work, and this is especially true for memoir writing. People tend to write down every little detail because after all, it did happen! On the low-end aim for 70,000-79,000 words. This shows that you know how to focus on the meat of your life and are only telling the most interesting parts!

There you have it! The more you know before submitting your work to a traditional publisher, the better your chances of getting a book deal. Here’s to your success!

X LLB

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