May 24, 2019-On this week’s segment of Publisher’s Corner, I tackle a subject that is close to my heart. Let’s check it out!
Q: “Lacey, You say reading is important for writers, but I barely have time to breathe let alone read! How do you find time to read so many books?”
A: I love this question! In 2018 I read 60 books; to be clear, I should say that I completed 60 books because I used a variety of mediums to do so. Here’s what I recommend to help you reach your reading goals:
- Audiobooks– These are fantastic for people who are constantly on the go. I use audible.com and iTunes to download books on all topics and I love their portability. You can listen to them anywhere-I listen to them while I drive, while I’m waiting at the airport, on the beach, on planes, exercising, and while I’m doing household chores. You wouldn’t believe how many books you can get under your belt just by popping in a pair of earphones.
- E-books– Of course, I prefer paperbacks, but when in a crunch, I pull out my trusty e-reader. Again, the portability is great because you can download as many books as you want without taking up a bunch of room in your suitcase. You can whip out your phone and read a few pages of a book any time you have to wait somewhere!
- Read in-between time– During the day we find ourselves with a few minutes here and there. Sometimes we have time between meetings or half an hour before our kids get home from school and we end up playing on our phones or checking our email. I urge you to consciously look for the times-in-between and use them to get some reading done! Five minutes here and there add up over time and before you know it, you’ll be done a novel or two.
- Set a realistic goal– 60 books a year may not be realistic for you based on your lifestyle. Set a goal that you’ll be able to reach based on what you think you can achieve-don’t set a marker so high that it’s unattainable, but not so low that it’s unmotivating.
Reading is addictive and once you start, you may not be able to stop. Consider yourself warned:) X LLB
April 19, 2019– About a year ago I read this wonderful little book called F**k It, Do What You Love by John C. Parkin. The basic overview of this book is to take a risk, take a leap, do what you love, and it will all work out. There are some things that I really liked about this book and other things that I didn’t, just as in any other book I’ve ever read. Let’s focus on one really cool exercise that the book gives as homework.
Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers in a journal…ready?
- What do you love doing? (We aren’t just talking career here, we’re talking EVERYTHING you love to do)
- What did you used to love doing? (Childhood memories or anything in the past that pops into your mind)
- What can you imagine loving to do in the future? (Completely new stuff that you have yet to experience)
What do you notice about your answers? When I did this exercise I noticed that my answers to the first question came very quickly and the list was long! I also noticed that I get to do a lot of things that I love each and every day and for that, I am so grateful. The whole point of the above exercise is to figure out what you love doing and do more of it. For the author of the book, he quit his job, moved to a different country, wrote a book (this one), and started teaching. If we aren’t clear on what we want, how can we ever achieve it? There are many other exercises in this book and it’s definitely worth reading!
April 18, 2019– As writers, we often think this. It usually happens when we run out of coffee and are staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page while simultaneously banging our head against the desk. Let me be honest, there are a lot of writers out there who ARE better at writing than you. And they’re better than me too. Sometimes it comes down to basic things like sentence structure, plot lines, and good old-fashioned storytelling. Listen, we have to accept the fact that we aren’t as good as we could be and that there is always room for improvement. The point is, what are you going to do about it?
- Start reading more. I’m serious. If you’re not reading, you can’t possibly have the tools or the knowledge to be able to write like you should. Get your hands on anything and keep reading. We know this from literacy studies with kids; the studies show that kids who read more do better in writing and in school. Let’s take a page out of their book (pun totally intended) and read as much as possible.
- Find your weak spots. If you don’t know where your writing sucks, ask someone to tell you. Join a group of professionals or give your manuscript to someone who doesn’t like you. I’m not kidding, the problem with having our work critiqued by family and friends is that they love us and the last thing they want to do is hurt our feelings. Why do you think I’ll never send a manuscript to my mother? Because I could copy the phone book (do these still exist?) and she would say it’s the best thing she’s ever read. You need honest feedback if you want to become a better writer. Once you find your weak spots you can fix them. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.
- Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better. If you’re not writing something every single day, then you’re not serious about becoming a writer. You need to be constantly writing because it will help you refine your craft and find your voice. Practice writing introductions, practice writing characters and plot lines, practice writing endings if these are the points you’re lacking in. Like the post on Monday, it takes approximately 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert. How are you supposed to become an expert if you’re not practicing daily? Listen, you’re never going to be perfect and you’re going to have people who hate your work. But, if you’re willing to take it all in stride and continually improve then you will be successful. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea nor should you be. Your writing voice is as unique as your perspective of the world is. Keep going no matter what.
There are writers who are better than us and there always will be. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do with your life. X LLB
February 20, 2019– So, you’ve self-published a book, and now you want to pitch your book to a literary agent. This is a tougher road to submission versus the traditional route because publishing is all about sales figures. It can be confusing and frustrating so here’s how to do it right and get your query read!
- Sales. Yep, the almighty dollar. Publishing is a business and should be treated as such. How many copies has your book sold? This does NOT include FREE downloads. Please do not query an agent unless you’ve sold 2000-3000 print books or 10,000-20,000 ebooks. Agents look for books that encompass money and success, you must show that your work is above the millions of other books that are self-published each year and one way to do this is to put your money where your mouth is. Prove that your book is saleable with the cash it’s already raked in.
- Media attention. Amazon reviews don’t count so I’ll stop you right there. Query an agent only when your book has received reviews from mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, and tv shows. The bigger, the better!
- Bring on the accolades. Has a high profile author or celebrity said something nice about your book? Has an expert in the field you’ve written about endorsed your work? If not, don’t approach an agent until you’ve got some attention from notable names! A blurb or endorsement from a well-known person is an invaluable marketing tool that will better your chances of an agent wanting to represent you.
Eventually, we will delve into the how-to of getting a literary agent to represent your work, but that’s for another blog post down the road. Start with this and when you fulfill the above requirements, we’ll talk. Happy writing! X LLB
February 18, 2019– Today we’re talking about book reviews; wait a second, there is a format for writing a book review? Let’s get real, there are formats for every piece of writing that you could ever think of!
Book reviews offer you a chance to share your perception of a book’s good and bad parts and to share info with other readers that they may find useful. Of course, book reviews also allow others to decide whether they should read the book themselves.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of writing a book review:
- Do provide a general overview of the book. Include the author, title, publication info such as the publisher and year of publication, and genre. In a few sentences us a taste of the book and your overall opinion of it.
- Do say WHY you liked or disliked the book. Be specific! What did you love about it? What did you hate about it? What could have made it better?
- Do take a stand. The whole point of a book review is to make a recommendation to your reader. Remember that it is possible to like and dislike parts of the same book! Don’t be afraid to share your opinion!
- Don’t give too much away. If you’re reviewing fiction don’t give away key points of plot or the ending or twists that could ruin it for other readers.
- Don’t make your review too long. A paragraph or two will do. Pick the thing that interests you most and the thing that you think will most interest your readers.
- Don’t be a jerk. If you didn’t enjoy the book, that’s fine, but don’t be insulting. Let your reader know why you were disappointed in the book while still being calm and unemotional.
So there you have it! I look forward to reading your reviews online for some books I’m thinking of reading!
December 10, 2018- This is super fun! Each one of our books is very special in their own right. Check out the details below on what’s hiding in our books!
- Did you know that in Miranda the Very LOUD Mouse, there is a hidden piece of cheese on almost every page? Can you find them? Also, on the page where Miranda is at the museum, there are some pretty famous art pieces that include Michelangelo’s David statue, Starry Night painting by Van Gogh, The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, and of course, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
- The book Pants, by Tamara Botting, has different pieces of fabric that were digitally scanned in to get the colours and textures on the page. This book also contains colouring pages at the back for kids to design their very own pair of pants!
- Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog and Spiders Wearing Sweaters are both hand painted and then scanned in digitally to an illustration program! That’s why both books have such a unique look. Also, Spiders Wearing Sweaters can be ordered with or without the adorable plush spider that came in your kit!
- Sammy, the Singing Cat, features some very famous Jazz artists on the wall of one of the music schools; Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra make a cameo, but this time in animal form!
- The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail) has the titles of our books on the spine of the books that are featured in the treehouse! Plus, there’s a tribute to all of our animal friends that we have lost, on the wall of the same page. Also, Milan is a real golden retriever in the author’s life!
- Phillip Star has the best ending! You’ll have to read it😊
- Panda, the Very Bad Cat, is based on the author’s real cat named Panda and a smug shot of said cat is featured in the back of the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this title is donated to animal shelters to help animals in need.
- Deer Diary features a sneak peek on an overlapping character! There is a poster on the wall of the last page that features the character Frog from Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog.
All of the books by Lacey L. Bakker, feature a PANDA in one form or another as a hat’s off to the book that started this entire company and adventure which was Panda, the Very Bad Cat!
- Unfrogged, by Tamara Botting, features a princess named Meredith who is based entirely on the author and how clumsy she is. Tamara let this book sit for ten years before getting it published!
- The Old Farmer’s Treasure– is based on the author’s husband’s childhood in Northern Ontario. There is also a sequel to this book coming in 2019 where the boys are all grown up!
- Obsessed with Her– Was consulted on by the head of the Toronto Homicide Unit for not only credibility in some scenes, but also accuracy! This book is rated R and had to have a sticker put on the front of it because of the complaints that we were receiving. It has mature themes, language, and violence, and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. Also, the PREQUEL to Obsessed with Her, titled, Becoming James Cass, will be available for pre-order on our site in January 2019 and will be released in February 2019. This book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Good Reads. While the author was writing this book, her husband was away for five weeks, and she had to stop writing because she was scared to be alone! A lot of people think the author of this book is a man, but they are mistaken. And one more thing? The front cover gives away the ending:)
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.
October 26, 2018– Content is hard to come by, for me anyways. I often wonder how many other bloggers have this problem, especially those who write daily. I blog three times a week, or twelve times a month and let me tell you, it can become difficult. I know it’s hard to think, but sometimes it feels as though we’ve run out of things to talk about. The truth is, there’s always something to talk about, and there are still lots new ideas for content, we just aren’t being creative enough, and we aren’t thinking outside of the box.
I hate rehashing the same old stuff over and over, so that’s why I try my absolute hardest to come up with new and exciting tips and topics! Here are a few of my personal tips about where to get great ideas:
- Shower. A lot. Seriously, some of my best ideas come to me when I’m standing there in the shower with the water beating down on me. Apparently, this is a thing, and there’s even science to support it! Brains give us our best ideas when a lot of dopamine is released, and dopamine is released by, you guessed it, taking a shower! Dopamine equals happiness and the next great idea.
- Subconscious. This is a true story; when I was in college, I remember doing some crazy math problem and no matter which way I tried it, I couldn’t figure out the formula. I finally said screw it and went to bed. I swear to you that when I woke up, I had the answer and the formula was as clear as day in my mind. Yep, to this day, I never go to bed without asking my subconscious a question and rarely does it not answer or work out a solution. Try it, it works!
- Study. Read everything you can get your hands on. The newspaper, magazines, online, books, tutorials, instruction manuals, and so on. Why? Because this alone will trigger an idea to write about. You can write about the time you were so blocked in your writing that you became desperate and read the instruction manual to your vintage VCR. But seriously, read it all. Especially stuff that is regularly out of your genre. That’s where some of my greatest ideas have come from.
There it is, my ideas for creating content. And remember, when you’re stuck, get unstuck by following the above tips.
October 5, 2018– Ahhhhhh Fall; what a wonderful season! It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up and read. Check out the fall reading challenge below, but feel free to substitute where you need to. Happy fall and happy reading!