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Writing a book and earning royalties isn’t the only way you can make money from your book and it’s certainly not the fastest way. Even before your book hits the shelves, you can be making money from your research by creating articles related to your book topics. Not only will you create an additional revenue stream for yourself, you will help create interest in your book when it is released.

When you wrote your book, whether it was fiction or non-fiction, you most likely did research to make it authentic. That knowledge you now have can be turned into a number of different articles, each of which will earn you additional income, increase exposure of you as an expert on a subject that book explores and increase exposure of your book.

By using your research to create articles to help market your book, you’ll help increase your sales so that when those royalties come in, they will be larger than they otherwise might have been. The other way articles will help increase your sales is that they will increase your reputation as an author of topics in whatever field you write about.

For example, if you write a historical novel set during the Civil War, you can sell articles about the Civil War based on your research to regional and history magazines. Those readers will become familiar with your name and your writing style and be more likely to buy your books.

How Do You Do It?

The big question is how do you take a 100,000-word book and turn it into a 1,000-word article?

Serialize: The most-obvious answer is if your book is fiction, you can serialize it. You don’t see a lot of magazines serializing novels anymore and the serialization rights are usually part of your book contract so if you haven’t sold the book yet, you might be giving something away that could be valuable.

If you do serialize your novel, you can turn each chapter of your book into an article. Just imagine the extra revenue that could mean for you. Even if you run the article for free, you will still benefit consistent, regular and large exposure for your book. You probably couldn’t afford that much advertising.

A variation on this that has started gaining some popularity is serialization on the Internet, either through your own web site or an e-zine. Horror writer Doug Clegg serialized his novel Nightmare House on the Internet and by the time the serialization ended, Cemetery Dance Books had given him a five-figure advance.

Summarize: For non-fiction books, the most-obvious answer for creating articles from your book is to write articles based on one of the concepts in your book. It can be as easy as taking a chapter from the book, reworking it so it has a beginning and end and selling a stand-alone article. For books that don’t easily breakdown to one idea per chapter, you can summarize a concept or idea into an article. Jeff Guinn did this with an article he wrote about Bonnie and Clyde in Smithsonian Magazine that was based on his book Go Down Together. For someone interested in the article, he or she would also be interested in the book.

New Ideas: This method requires more work, but it can be more rewarding. Not all of your research on a topic makes it into a book, but it can be used to write articles. The article will still be about a topic found in your book. It just won’t be as directly connected to your book.       When doing this type of article, consider your research, not necessarily your book. What ideas did you have when you were reading up on different subjects? Chances are someone else could find it interesting, too.

Localize: Localizing your research is a technique that local news media teach for how to handle national topics. You find a local connection to a national topic. It requires additional research, but you already know the basics of the topic from your initial research. With a localized topic, you can market articles to every regional magazine in the country. There are two big advantages with this technique. 1) Even though your book may not be about the local area, it can create interest with local readers for your book by making a local connection. 2) It’s easier to create interest when you’re writing about something closer to the readers.

You Already Laid the Groundwork

The thing about using your book to develop articles is that it should be easier than coming up with a completely original idea. After all, you are familiar with the subject and enjoy it enough to have written a book around it. Because you are familiar with the subject, it should be easier for you develop the query letter and write the article.

Your article will probably be around 800 words, though the magazine editor will give you the word count that he or she needs.

  • Just like a short story needs to hook a reader early on, so does your article. Have an interesting fact or story that you can use to catch a reader’s attention.
  • Move into the main point you want to make and then move onto the lesser points.
  • Don’t make the article about you or your book, and don’t write in the first person.
  • Use subheads, bullets, numbered lists, etc. These things break up the copy and make it easy to follow.
  • Make sure to include your website at the end of the article.

 Reference Your Book

Though your article shouldn’t necessarily be about your book, you should make sure to get a reference it and/or your e-mail address into the article. This usually comes as an author blurb at the end of the article so that you can tie it back to your book or web site. John Kremer, 1001 ways to market your book noted that Tom and Marilyn Ross have sold articles based on their books and “In each case, they insisted that the magazine include an endnote telling readers where they could order the book.”

Within the blurb, ask the reader to visit your web site. In an ad, that would be a call to action. This call to visit your web site should be the only place in your article where you promote yourself.

Don’t Forget the Internet

Don’t overlook web sites as a location to publish your articles. If you can generate visitors to your web site, it can make a great place to serialize your novel. On the Internet, your author blurb will become an active link to take the reader right to your web site. You can also write articles as free content for other web sites to attract readers to your web site where you can hopefully entice them to buy your book and turn it into a bestseller.

In today’s marketplace where catching a reader’s attention can take some creative marketing, using your book to create articles will bring readers interested in your topic right to your doorstep. It will build your credibility in your field and increase your contacts with editors who might be willing to review or promote your books in other ways. Besides, how often do you get paid to market yourself and your books? Don’t miss out on this chance.

 

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BooksAlive-LinkedInI attended the Books Alive! Washington Writers Conference the other week as a panelist, but I also listened to different panels and picked up some good information. The panel that I enjoyed the most was the agents panel. Three agents spoke about what they want to see in a submission or hear in a pitch that can be made in about five minutes. Here are some of the things that I gleaned.

  • Start you pitch with a hook. Give them one or two sentences that will entice the agent to want to know more about the project (this works equally well for articles and books).
  • Move into a short description of the project. Again, keep it short. Imagine you are writing the jacket copy for your book.
  • A short bio about yourself. Why are you the person who should be writing this?
  • What’s your platform? Do you use Twitter and Facebook? Do you have a web site? Maybe you are a columnist or magazine editor who has a following? What are the ways that your name is already getting out to the public.
  • Where does your book fit into the market and how large is the market? What shelf in a bookstore would someone find your book?
  • What’s your next project? You can’t rest on your laurels. Build on the success of your previous projects.
  • What are some comparable titles to your book? Be realistic here. Don’t just go for the big name books. List books that have similar content and scope. If you try to pass yourself off as the next J. K. Rowling or James Patterson, it will come across as hype.

So that’s what I took away from that panel. Someone else might have gotten something different from it. I’ve heard a lot of these things before so it is a pretty good bet that it’s what most agents want to see, but you should always check the agent’s web site just to be sure that you are sending what that person wants.

Here I am at The Book Center in Cumberland, MD, on Nov. 19. I'm the one on the left, in case you couldn't tell.

Is it so misguided to want to write a book because you are in love with the story? That’s how I have always chosen the book projects I’ve done. Yet, as I read some books about marketing your work, it seems like it doesn’t matter too much what you write about or how well you write it.

I’ve read more than one marketing book over the past few years where the author actually brags about the fact that he or she doesn’t like to read or isn’t a good writer, yet has written bestsellers. True, they haven’t been New York Times bestsellers, but they have sold tens of thousands of copies.

Meanwhile, I work to shape an interesting book that’s well written that doesn’t do nearly as well.

And then there’s the celebrity books. The publisher pays a huge advance to a celebrity or political figure for a book that doesn’t even earn the advance back.

What am I missing?

Aren’t books written anymore because of the love of the story and not how well it can be marketed?

It’s even infected me to a point. I found myself the other day telling a writer who was passionate about a non-fiction story that he researched that he needed to find a way to make it interesting to the reader. He wanted to find ways to improve the writing for a general audience, and I told him that, as described, I didn’t think it would appeal to a general audience. I didn’t tell him not to write the book. In fact, I told him to press forward, just that he needed to find a way to make it more interesting.

In other words, more marketable.

Unless you’re writing something simply for yourself or to be used as a reference, I know it doesn’t make much sense to write a book that won’t interest readers. Books need to sell. That means they are getting into the hands of readers and that’s good.

But so much of what is being put into the hands of readers nowadays wasn’t written to tell a story. It was written to be marketed.

So where does the line get crossed? I’m not sure. So far, it’s a matter of “I know it when I see it.”

I love to write. I have enjoyed telling stories since I was a kid. So if I had no story to tell, why would I want to write? Just to make money? It doesn’t make sense to me.

1326221518292791933Confused Squirrel.svg.hiDoes anyone else get confused when working on multiple projects? I usually don’t, but lately I find myself having trouble jumping between projects, particularly book projects. Or is this just a sign that I’ve about stretched myself to my limit.

I spent years as a newspaper reporter so I’m used to juggling multiple stories. In any given month, I write, I write about 15 newspaper and magazine articles.

I’m even familiar with multiple book projects. I tend to have a project in edits, one that I’m writing, and one that I’m researching/outlining. Of course, right now I’ve got six book projects that all have various reasons why I need to be giving them priority. Two are being edited and four are being written.

A couple of the projects are set in the same era. I would think this would make it easy to switch from project to project, but I find that when I am working on one book, something will crop up that will send me off on a thought tangent about the other book. My writing grinds to a halt while I make some notes that I can come back to, and then I have to take time to try and get back to that “writing zone” again.

I’ve have been trying to write a couple thousand words for each project a week, but I feel like I’m not making much progress on them. However, if I try to focus all of my efforts on one, then the others might slip too much that I will have trouble getting them finished on time.

That doesn’t even take into consideration what happens when some of these books come out close to each other. Will my marketing efforts wind up being split, giving one or more of the books short shift?

I love all of the projects and want to see them written. I just don’t want to find out when I think I’m writing about the Civil War, I open the document the next day and find out that I’ve been writing my fantasy novel!

f2632c43ce8bb590d6a191dc6e010b66I just finished reading The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell and found it very useful. How do I know? I made a lot of notes to follow up on.

This is a book for magazine writers, which I don’t come across too often. It takes you through the entire gamut of the magazine writing business from breaking in to collecting on unpaid invoices. It is also easy to understand, which allows you to get more from the book.

The format of the book was very easy to follow. You have chapters that group “rules” by subject. I guess the rules could be classified as the consensus thinking. I think if I had to define it idea behind the book is that there’s no one right way to do things. The authors list each rule that should be broken and why it can be broken. They also include plenty of anecdotal stories to illustrate their points, too.

I found that even when I didn’t agree with breaking the rule, the explanation often had me seeing how breaking the rule could be useful. Sometimes, I even changed my mind about breaking the rule.

In between each chapter, there’s a profile on a renegade writer. I didn’t find these particularly interesting, but I can see how some writers might find it useful. You can look at these profiles as rule breaking in action.

As I said, I bookmarked quite a few rules to follow up on and decide if I wanted to try breaking them. I may be too set in my ways to change on some things and other things are working fine for me without breaking the rule.

What I found amusing when I read is how many rules I am apparently already breaking in my magazine writing work. I didn’t think about these things being rules when I started freelancing. They were simply changes I made because they worked.

That’s what this book does well. It causes the writer to think about why they are doing something. If you can defend why you are doing with something other than that’s the way it’s done, then it is probably a rule you shouldn’t break. If you are only conducting your freelancing in a certain way because that’s what you were taught, then maybe you should try breaking a rule or two to see if it jumpstarts your business.

 

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Besides being a veteran, the subject of my new book is an artist and sculptor. This is a panel from his illustrated diary of his time at Guadalcanal.

I am still trying to get my head around an interview I conducted this afternoon. It was the first of what will probably be many as I start working on a biography of a WWII veteran. There’s so much information to take in and digest that it’s overwhelming me at the moment. I need to digest what he told me and start to shape how I want to present his story. I’m looking at a few different directions that don’t seem like they would connect—World War II, Civil War, Art. Yet, they all do connect with this man.

I want to do this man’s story justice. I think it is pretty interesting. This is the first time that I’ve worked on a true biography. Saving Shallmar was sort of a biography about a coal town. This book will be a biography about a living WWII veteran. There’s fewer and fewer of them left, and I want to be able to tell his story so that others will know what he did long after he is gone.

Right now, if I’m honest, I’m a bit intimidated by task I’ve set for myself. I’m at the bottom of a very tall mountain looking up and hoping I can find the trail that gets me to the peak.

Lock Ready Cover ShotHere’s the cover art for my new historical novel that coming out next month. Lock Ready is my first historical novel in seven years. It’s also been 10 years since I wrote my last Canawlers novel.

Lock Ready once again return to the Civil War and the Fitzgerald Family. The war has split them up. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md.

Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband.

 

Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.

 

I’ve had fun writing about the Fitzgeralds over the years, but at this point, I see this as my last Canawlers novel. I do have an idea for a non-fiction C&O Canal book, but it will still be years before it comes out. Until then, I hope you enjoy my three Canawlers novels and one novella. The best order to read them in is: Canawlers, Between Rail and River, Lock Ready and The Race.

The Rain Man CoverTo celebrate the release of the Kindle edition of The Rain Man, I am giving away 10 autographed copies of the paperback edition. It’s free to enter. Just visit this link and click to enter.

Here’s the story:

Raymond Twigg hates the rain because it gives the Rain Man power. It is a power to bring Raymond to his knees or drive him to deadly action.

As the March 1936 rains bring the St. Patrick’s Day Flood, the worst flood ever seen in Cumberland, Maryland, it also unleashes the power of the Rain Man on the citizens of the city.

While most of the police force is diverted trying to deal with the flooding in the city and the problems it is causing, Sergeant Jake Fairgrieve is called out to investigate a murder. Murders are unusual in Cumberland, but this one is more unusual than most. The dead man’s head has been crushed on the left side with no apparent weapon and the body is laid out on the street as if it was in a casket.

Jake throws himself into tracking this murder with no motive. The search keeps him from having to deal with his own fears about the approaching flood until he comes face to face with the Rain Man.

With the Jake trailing him, the Rain Man turns from hunted to hunter. He kidnaps Jake’s girlfriend, Dr. Chris Evans. In order to save Chris, Jake will have to face his own fears and the Rain Man in the flooded streets of Cumberland where the Rain Man is at his most powerful.

Good luck! I hope you win!

thU0YI907XI’m a fan of Harlan Coben. I’ve read all his books and I would rank Six Years in the top 5, maybe even the top 3. One reason it won’t make my list as his best work is that it reminded my a lot of “Tell No One,” which I think is his no. 1 book. Both books begin with the heroes suffering from a tragic loss. After a large span of time (Guess how long it is in this book…), the heroes have recovered a bit and moved on. Then something happens that makes them believe their lost loved one is still alive. Then begins a series clues that are investigated and found with unsatisfying answers that lead to more questions and danger. The main difference that puts “Tell No One” at the top for me is that while both books are excited and keep you guessing, “Tell No One” has a last page twist that caught me off guard.

In “Six Years,” Jake Fisher learns that the man he watched the love of his life, Natalie, marry six years earlier has been murdered. He decided to pay his respect at the funeral, only to learn that the widow, who was married to murdered man for far more than six years, is not Natalie. In fact, no one knows Natalie. As Jake tries to understand what has happened and where Natalie is, he finds the past that he knew with Natalie unraveling.

It’s one of those books that you just have to keep reading because you want to find out what happens next. It’s one of Coben’s best.

With the New Year nearly here, I’ve been laying out plans for 2014.

I’ve got a pretty aggressive publishing plan for the year between regular books and e-books. I want to publish three books and three e-books. In the past, my publishing has been a little haphazard. For 2014, I’ve laid out when I want the books to come out so that they are spaced out. I also worked back from the publishing dates to see when I needed to have other things completed like covers, promos and sending a draft to the editor. By knowing when the book release dates are, I can spread out those other deadlines so I’m not pulling my hair out some months and then having nothing to do the next month.

It’s also aggressive because I’m spreading into some new genres. I have typically written history and historical fiction in the past, but I’m going to release young-adult and other non-fiction titles next year. Having a plan allows me to figure out what I need to do to break into the new genres.

The benefit of laying out this plan is that when I did see times when my workload would be lighter, I could plan for other promotions for existing books. I can also plan on using those lighter work times to research new books and write drafts.

Another benefit is that since I’m not a natural marketer and an introvert by nature, this plan will help keep me on track and focused on the job at hand.

The result, if things work out according to the plan, is that I’ll have a steady presence of my books and promotions.

So now, I’ll take a deep breath and ready myself for a busy 2014. I hope you all will come along for the journey.

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