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Editing: The Greatest Challenge to my Writing by guest blogger, Paul Moscarella

April 30, 2021-Today we wrap up our theme of Pushing the Envelope in our writing! Thank you to everyone who read our posts and special thanks to my authors for sharing their methods and ideas in how they push the envelope in their own books. Paul Moscarella, author of Machinia, is our guest blogger today.


​The writing process for me has always been a peculiar outlet that demands my obedience yet gives no instruction for compliance. This manifestation of my active imagination into words began when I was in grade 4. I had selected a book on the shelf of our art class, The War of the Worlds, because the cover art intrigued me. It was a difficult read, but the tale of the Martian invasion had me riveted. After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to share the things that I imagined into something others could experience. But right away I saw that there was a limit to what I could express, mostly because at age 9 emulating the classic writing style of H.G. Wells was beyond my ability! It was a challenge, but I gave every story I submitted in my English class that extra effort that went well beyond what was required. The endeavour paid off as my submissions were always given praise (and high marks). Those were the exciting days, when what was put to paper rarely saw revision greater than a few erased words. The written word was magic, and my pen was the sorcerer’s wand.

​Since that time, the greatest challenge to my writing has been the revision process. Imagination for me has always come easy. Shaping the rough draft into a cohesive well-written form takes continuous effort. Too little self-editing and the rough edges mar the prose. Too much, and the creative inspiration becomes a bland stream of clarified beige. And then, more challenging still, the editor’s feedback! I can get a sentence or paragraph rewritten to the point where I feel it is perfect only to get comments that ask for clarification or a slash through the writing with a simple “No!” So, following the advice I was given numerous times, I’ve learned not to fall in love with sentences, or paragraphs, perhaps even whole pages.

​When the first draft of Machinia was completed in 1992, I never dreamed that a novel of over two hundred thousand words would ultimately be subjected to a thirty-year editing cycle. It eventually emerged as a ninety-thousand-word triumph. It taught me that no piece of writing worth reading ever reaches the published page without the struggle and meticulous challenge of revision. In many ways writing is revision, and each reread gives clarity to what we truly wanted to say in the first place. And whether it takes hours, days, or decades, I’ve learned to treat the revision process as if seeing the prose for the first time.*

*author’s note: this submission was subject to several revisions and my wife’s editing notes.

Get your copy of Machinia here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop/Machinia

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Pushing the Envelope with (the one and only) Tim Ford

April 28, 2021-I am so excited to wrap up this month’s theme of pushing the envelope in your writing! I hope that you will enjoy our guest blogger Tim Ford, who is the author of the Mitch Strongbow series! If you haven’t read his work yet, you’re missing out on a brilliant mind and even more brilliant storyteller. Here what he has to say:

My name is Tim Ford, and I am a writer. Well, truth be told, I am a storyteller, the editor truly makes me a writer. For me, my whole writing career has been a challenge, a challenge that I met head on, no surrender. I never graduated high school; in fact, I don’t even have grade 10 English. But as I stated above, I am a storyteller, self-taught.
Approx. 14 years ago, I was working night shifts over the Xmas holidays. I truly felt pissed off leaving my family, and heading to work. Everyone was enjoying Christmas dinner, and for me, well mine was packed up and taking to work to be nuked.
I have always had this storyline, character in my head. From time to time, I would write some stuff out, put it away until I felt the need to write out more of the story. So, while working over Christmas, I could have sulked, felt sorry for myself and turn that 12-hour shift, into a shift that seemed to never end, or do something that truly made me happy, my joy to my world, my celebration. Pulled out my notes, brought up a Microsoft Word page, and started to bang away on the keyboards. The feeling was rather euphoric, I felt so alive. Time meant nothing, that crazy Irish imagination of mine was firing on all cylinders. And you know what, I couldn’t wait to my next shift. To bring more of Mitchell Strongbow to life.
Now confidence is either your best friend, or worst enemy. I thought I had a solid storyline, but I realized, my lack of education quickly rose to the surface, we are talking warp speed. The fear was real.
Luckily for me, several curious coworkers asked what all was I doing pecking away on the keyboard like a chicken. I explained my story. I could tell I intrigue them by my storyline. They would ask for me to send them some stuff. Nervously I did, and the feedback was outstanding.
Originally my storyline was just this 17-year-old asking out a classmate to a New Year’s Eve party. Now, heck, I am in book 17 of the series.

My new challenges are not repeating the same storylines. Remember who all the characters and plotlines are, and also for each contract kill Mitch performs, it has to be unique, not the same bang-bang their dead.
I have also recently retired. I preferred to work night shifts. I would say 80% of my writing would take place between 22:00 and 04:00. My thought process would peak during these hours. Now, no way can I stay up that late. So, I need a new peak writing time, that has been a bit of a challenge, discipline will be the key for me.
And also, the Covid world, it is truly a dark world, not much sunshine in the world these days. The Strongbow series gets very dark at times. It was hard going down the Strongbow rabbit hole as when I came back up, the world much like Mitch’s world, still surrounded by darkness.

Check out his collection here: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop

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Newsletter

March 30, 2021- Tomorrow is our last day of taking your questions! We’re sad, but at the same time very excited for Aprils theme which is Pushing the Envelope in Your Writing. Just because we’re done with the theme for March doesn’t mean that you can’t still email us your questions, send us an email  at pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Here is our question for the day:

Q: “You’ve said that there is value in sending out newsletters about upcoming book releases etc. As a self-publisher how do I collect email addresses from interested readers?”

A: Yes! You are correct; there is a ton of value in communicating directly with your readers and there are many ways to do this:

  • Subscribe button on website or blog. This is one of the easiest ways to get readers to subscribe to your content since they’re already coming to you and interested what you have to say. A pop up page can come in handy, just make sure it’s not obnoxious and popping up while readers are trying to view your articles.
  • In person events. This is the most fun way to gather email addresses! You get to directly interact with your readers and tell them about the valuable info that you provide in your newsletter and why they should subscribe. Tell them about upcoming releases, free classes or workshops, tidbits of interesting info, upcoming events, and whatever else you think they’ll be interested in! Have a sign-up sheet and make sure that you get their permission and consent to add them to your newsletter.
  • Post card and direct mail marketing with your sign-up information. Never disregard direct mail as a great way to communicate with your readers! If your readers purchase titles directly from you, this is a great opportunity to include marketing information such as a postcard, flyer, or last month’s newsletter. Your reader can find out how to subscribe to your newsletter on the marketing that you include with their purchase. Remember to include a call to action such as “Sign up today!”
  • Exclusive access. Giving your readers valuable content and knowledge is important and surprising them with a little something extra is always a great idea. You can say, “Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get free access to Ten Things You MUST Do to Write a Best-seller!” and then give them exclusive access to the article, course, or download.

Remember not to overdo it with your newsletter. At most it should be bi-weekly, but we prefer monthly; be consistent with when your newsletter is sent out. Pick the same date each month such as the first, fifteenth, or thirtieth to make it easy to remember and schedule.

If you’d like to subscribe to our newsletter, send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com and we’ll add you to our list. In the meantime, check out some of our books and services here: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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I’m All Out of Inspiration

March 25, 2021– Happy Thursday, Friends! We’ll be wrapping up our most asked questions in the next week, and we hope that you learned some new things. On April 1st, we’ll be starting a brand-new theme called, “How to push the envelope in your writing” and we certainly hope you’ll join us.  Let’s jump into today’s question.

Q: “Lately I’ve been feeling really uninspired in my writing. I want to write a children’s book, but I can’t seem to come up with any good ideas. You’ve written a lot of kid’s books, where do you get ideas from?”

A: Sometimes it’s hard to be inspired I agree, but if we look around, we can find plenty of ideas. A lot my children’s book subject matter comes from real life experience and people that I’m close to. My nephews and niece inspire me like crazy; they range in age from 17 years old to 3 months and the toddlers tend to have amazing ideas that make it onto my books. For example, most recently I wrote a book called Cakes for Snakes and it came about at my kitchen table in the Pandamonium Publishing House Tour Bus; my three-year-old nephew, Denver asked, “Auntie, who makes cakes for snakes?” I grabbed a pen and started taking notes. We’re formatting Cakes for Snakes in a whole new way as a full colour comic book for kids with the one and only Alex Goubar, stay tuned for more information on a release date! Check in with your friends and family (especially the kiddos) and think about changing your environment. You can head to the park, the outdoor bike/walking trails, the mall, and other places to find inspiration around every corner. Be sure to ask yourself questions. I wrote The Extreme! Supreme! Dogwalker, Darlene after walking my own pup, Luna. I thought to myself, what would make someone an ultimate dogwalker? What tools would they have to make their job easier? What would they do to keep the dogs occupied? Etc. Jot down every idea because you never know where it will lead. Keep in mind when writing for kids, the crazier the plot and the bigger and more exaggerated the story, the better. Another tip is to pick up books that inspired you as a child and read them once again; what did you love about them? What parts spoke to you the most? And so on.

If you need help with writing for kids, let me mentor you! Check out my masterclass here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

Remember, discipline beats motivation every single time. Even though you aren’t inspired it’s important to sit down and write. Put the words on the page. Happy Writing! X LLB

 

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Listen to This

March 23, 2021– Happy Tuesday, Friends! Today is supposed to be warm and sunny and I’m so excited to get outside. I hope that you are too. But first, let’s get down to business and answer today’s question from a reader in Florida.

Q: “I’m a new author and someone told me that audiobooks are taking over from print books. Is this true and do you have any information on this?”

A: Thanks for sending in your question; we received it last week and would like to thank Kinga Ulazka McDonald for her research on this topic, for providing the information below, and for interning at our company! Let’s dive in: How many people used audiobooks in 2020? What is the increase or decrease from the year before? Which genres were most listened to? What are the projections of potential listeners in 2021 and beyond?
According to Forbes:
• US publishers reported audiobook: 2018- totaled $940 million
• revenue-has increased 24.5% year to year since 2017
• U.K. – last year, 2020 audio books were up 43%
• 25% increase in the U.S in 2020
• according to Canada Statistics, in 2020 96% of people said they read a print book last year,
61% said they read an ebook, and 49% said they listened to an audiobook.
“66% of people said they prefer print books, 16% said they prefer ebooks, and 8% said they
prefer audiobooks”- USA
More than 50% of ebook and audiobook listeners still prefer print
• Ebook readers prefer ebooks and audiobooks over print
• audiobooks are becoming more popular among readers.
• Canadian Leisure & Reading Study 2020: 49% of respondents had listened to at least one
audiobook during 2019.
• 26% of people said they listen to audiobooks at least once a week; crime genre is the most popular
Due to the 2020 pandemic and online streaming services, reading has truly changed:
Apple TV sells audiobooks on their Books service, but during the pandemic, they have done something different. In the past few weeks they are experimenting with something new with spoken-word content. US listeners can stream
13 audiobooks based on books by musicians. They’re part of the main Apple Music service, and thus offered within their subscription system”( Audiobook Trends and Statistics for 2020 ).
• as the pandemic continues into 2021, many people continue working from home, and with nowhere to travel to or in many areas, with “stay at home “orders, thus giving them more time to read, in what ever form that looks like
• Next year’s report, 2022, should be interesting due to the ongoing global pandemic
• publishers release their sales figures, “expect audiobooks to grow by double digits and ebooks, instead of declining” (Audiobook Trends and Statistics for 2020).

From my own personal experience, I use audiobooks a lot. I travel quite frequently and I pop in my AirPods to listen to some great audiobooks while I wait for a flight or fly to a conference. I also listen to audiobooks on the road in my truck since I’m mobile, and of course, while in the tour bus. I think that they’re convenient and they allow me to multitask; I also listen while working out or walking Luna. I typically read at least 60 books a year and 40 of those are audiobooks. Audiobooks are great for people who are always on the go!

At Pandamonium Publishing House, we’re working on turning all of our books into audiobooks! Stay tuned for more details as they become available.  Again, I’d like to thank Kinga Ulazka McDonald for her research and for putting together the stats and figures. LLB

 

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This or That?

March 9, 2021– We’re continuing to answer your questions this month! All through March, we’ll explore the subjects you care about. To submit your question, send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Let’s dive in to today’s question!

Q: “I’m a novice writer and I’ve had a couple of pieces published in some magazines that I subscribe to. I’ve decided to take the leap and write a novel. I adore mysteries and romance, but I’m not sure which one to choose to write my novel about. Can you help me decide?”

A: First off, congratulations on being published! That’s fantastic and no small feat, you should be very proud of yourself. As for helping you decide what to write about, I’m afraid I won’t be of much use in helping you answer that question; writing is a very personal thing and only you can decide for yourself. I will tell you that your heart has to be in it and that if you aren’t authentic, it will not only disappoint your readers, but you’ll disappoint yourself with trying to force something that you’re just not that in to. But, what if you combine the two things that you love to read about, you’d have a sub genre of what we call cozy romance. Here is the definition of  a cozy romance according to the Huffington Post: Cozies are fun to read! Murderers in cozy mysteries are generally intelligent, rational, articulate people, and murders are pretty much bloodless and neat. Violence and sex are low-key and supporting background characters bring comic relief to the story. Plus there is/are romantic interest(s) and interlude(s) between characters. A lot of cozy romances are set during holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and so on. This sub genre is one of my most favourite to read when I need a break from my usual stuff that’s a bit heavier. Here are a few fun statistics for you about the cozy romance market share:
Cozy Romance Novel Sales in 2020
* $1.1 billion That’s roughly one-fifth of all adult-fiction sales.
* 46 percent of romance consumers read at least one book per week. In comparison, the typical American reads five books a year.
Cozy Romance Readers At A Glance:
*Age 30-54
*College/University-educated
*Average Income $55K
*Relationship Status 59 percent are coupled, 84 percent are women, 16 percent are men
*Romance readers are more likely than the general population to be currently married or living with a partner.

I know that perhaps all of this info didn’t really answer your question. The point is to write what you love! And as cliché as it sounds, write the book that you want to see on the shelf. If you want to take your writing to the next level, check out our classes here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House  Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Riddle Me This

March 1, 2021-It’s a brand new month and that means that we’ll be talking about a brand new subject! I’ve decided to focus on the most asked questions I get as a publisher from authors, writers, and writing entrepreneurs. Please remember to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube); we appreciate your readership!

Let’s dig into the questions that matter, asked by real authors:

Q: “I’ve been writing for about two years now and I’ve gotten nowhere. I’ve sent in multiple manuscripts to publishers, stuff to magazines, and even and editorial piece to an editor, but no one answers me back or I get rejected. What am I doing wrong and how long will it take to get published?”

A: Good for you for sticking with it for two years. It’s a long and tough road, but eventually things will happen for you! This is a bit of a lengthy answer so I’ll break it down into parts.

  1. I’ve sent multiple manuscripts to publishers, magazines, editors. Have you followed the submission guidelines as outlined? I know for a fact that if you don’t query properly or follow the guidelines to a T, your manuscript will end up being recycled or put into the slush pile meaning it will never see the light of day or cross a publisher’s desk.
  2. No one answers me back or I get rejected. Personally, we receive approximately 175 submissions per month and we are a boutique publishing house. The big 5 publishers probably receive that many per week or even by the day! Celebrate the fact that someone even had the courtesy to send you out a rejection letter (even if it’s a generic form letter) because now you’re not left wondering. Usually publishers won’t answer or provide feedback based solely upon the sheer volume of submissions. Rejection happens for a number of reasons here are the most common-we don’t have enough room in our roster, our slots are filled with new publications for the upcoming 2-3 years, it’s not a good fit for what we publish, the manuscript needs major work, or we have something too similar already.
  3. What am I doing wrong? Are you following the submission guidelines? Are you addressing the correct person and the correct publisher for your specific genre of writing? Is the publishing house open to submissions? Is your writing fantastic, interesting, fresh, and new? Are you following up? Is your writing up to par in terms of grammar, structure, and industry standards? There are a number of things that you could be doing wrong that would create a barrier to getting published. My advice is to have a beta group read your work or hire a professional publishing company(such as ours, Pandamonium Publishing House) to give you honest feedback on your work. Education can be the key to your success, so enroll in as many classes that you can to help tighten and perfect your writing. Sometimes we receive such poorly written manuscripts that no amount of editing can salvage them.
  4. How long will it take? Publishing is a process and can take years before you have success. There is no time limit and to put one on yourself is unnecessary and stressful. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep honing your skills, and educating yourself and it will happen! Success is not an overnight thing, keep working at it.

To get more info on what publishers want, check out my number 1, best selling book on Amazon here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

To send in your publishing/writing question, email pandapublishing8@gmail.com

 

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Tag (You’re It)

January 21, 2021-As we enter the final week of our Best Seller Bootcamp, here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/  we have a number of things to still cover! As an author with a platform . are you using your social media to connect ideas with readers? Did you know that there is a specific way to do that? With hashtags! Hashtags are still an effective way to get more people to see your posts when using platforms such as Instagram, and using relevant, targeted hashtags is one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences.

Hashtags # work by organizing and categorizing videos and photos. A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 13% more audience engagement than posts without a hashtag. If you add a hashtag to a post on your Instagram account, the post will be visible on the matching hashtag page that acts as a directory of all the photos and videos that were tagged with the same hashtag e.g., #writersofinstagram.  Hashtags are most effectively used on Instagram although we do see them on Facebook sometimes, but not as often because people are less likely to read/care about them. Quick tips:

  1. Use a minimum of 10 hashtags on your post. This will ensure that you cover your bases and include tags that are relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach. Use a mixture of very popular tags and less popular tags to make sure that your post gets traction e.g. #authorsofinstagram (4.7 million posts) and #authorscommunity (156,000 posts). You can use up to 30 hashtags on a regular post and 10 on your Instastory.
  2. Think outside the (hashtag) box. It’s important to use relevant tags, but most people don’t get overly thoughtful when hashtagging. They use the common, most popular tags, but they’re missing out on a potential segment that could see their post by not being creative. Let’s say that you wrote a science fiction novel, some of the less obvious hashtags could include #manvsmachine, #robothero, #riseofthemachines, #machinesvsman, #newrelease, #dystopianuniverse etc.
  3. Hashtag in the comments. Don’t put hashtags directly in your post, put them into the comments section of Instagram and be sure to include your company or book hashtag e.g. #pandamoniumpublishinghouse.

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to hashtags and using them most effectively to promote your work and your posts and to connect with your audience, so check out our Best Seller Bootcamp where we dive deeper into this subject: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/best-seller-bootcamp-january-4th-31st/ and more!

 

 

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Advice from a Publisher

December 10, 2020-Today I’ll be dishing out advice! I love getting questions from aspiring writers and here’s a great question from one of our readers. Pick up your copy of Advice from a Publisher (Insider tips for getting your work published) here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Q: “Lacey, I’ve written a book about the history of baseball and want to use photographs throughout my book, what do I need to know and is this possible?”
A: Great question! This whole copyrighting issue can get a bit messy at times, so let me explain how it works when wanting to use images that you don’t own. 

  1. Stock Images: You can use stock images that have no attribution required. There are multiple sites online that have stock images that you can use however you’d like. No attribution required means that you don’t have to give credit to the photographer or the owner of the image.
  2. Public Domain: Did you know that all images published before January 1, 1923, in the United States are now public domain? See if the images you’d like to use are in this category, because you may not need permission to use them.
  3. Buy Photos: You can always buy photos from the photographer on sites like istockphoto.com, Shutterstock, and Fotosearch.

For the rest of my answer and more insider tips, check out my book Advice from a Publisher here: https://www.amazon.ca/Advice-Publisher-Insider-Getting-Published/dp/1989506143/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1607423469&sr=8-1

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Advice from a Publisher

November 18, 2020– Let’s take a page out of my own book Advice from a Publisher (Insider tips for getting your work published!) available here: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/advice-from-a-publisher-insider-secrets-for-getting-your-work-published/

Q: I’m working on a couple of novels simultaneously, and I’m having a problem keeping things straight! I’ve mixed up my characters and plots in a few places during the story and am driving myself crazy! How do I fix this? 

A: Kudos to you for working on two novels! Don’t worry; it’s an easy fix.

  1. Sticky notes are your friend. Before sitting down to work on either one of your novels, take a sticky note and write the main character’s name in BOLD, BLACK marker. Stick it to the screen of your laptop. This is a visual reminder of what you’re working on and which character/book requires your attention.
  2. One thing per day. Section your week into specific days that you will work on each project. For example, I write Becoming James Cass on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I work on my other book, I am Jessica Westlake. It’s much easier to write on certain days rather than spend the morning of each day working on project one, and the afternoon working on project two. You’ll be less inclined to make a mistake…unless, of course, you’re like me and never know what day it is!

Please send me your questions! I love helping aspiring authors.  You can reach me at pandapublishing8@gmail.com.