Pose for the paparazzi. Autograph your books.
Write like a dream, promote like a rock star.
Fame and fortune are yours!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hello stars! I'll be back in the new year with more information and inspiration to make your publishing dreams come true.

Until then, may your self-published books be finally written in 2011, and may they all be wildly successful best sellers!

Donna Marie

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tim Ferriss' amazing new book trailer (pt 2)

Tim Ferriss doesn't know it, but he's become a mentor to me. During a 4-hour road trip this week, I listened to The 4-Hour Workweek and became an instant convert. He describes a life of freedom and discovery that I've always wanted to live. The nest is finally empty, and the little birdies have flown the coop. Now's a perfect time for me to redesign my life and have a little fun for goodness sake!

When I reviewed the video book trailer for Ferriss' new book, The 4-Hour Body (read here), I was so smitten that I decided then and there to buy the book. Well I bought it as a Christmas present for myself. It's big (592 pages), so I doubt if I'll read it from beginning to end. I'll probably jump around a lot to chapters that pertain to my situation (read here).

Ferriss is a marketing machine, and his Amazon stats tell the story: Body is #4; Workweek is #51. His blog was already attracting more than a million visits per month (an author platform that would make any publisher drool), but the video book trailers sent him into the stratosphere.

Here's another trailer promoting Body:

Why am I promoting Ferriss' books? I've always loved the idea of setting "impossible" goals, but that's not why I've devoted now 2 articles to Tim Ferriss. His marketing is a thing of beauty. He understands what we authors must do to market and sell our books. He really gets the mindset we need to have to be successful. Now Ferriss is published by Crown, but the principles still apply to self-publishers -- more so given that we have to do it all ourselves.

Here are some words of wisdom from his HuffPost article:

Authors need to come to terms with a sobering reality: no one is going to care about your book as much as you do...

You are responsible for shepherding your book onto the bestseller list and into the hands of millions. From the idea to finished product, from the marketing plan to windowing, you need to be informed and act as a driving creative force...

Fight for what you believe, using data and compelling arguments. Beyond the satisfaction of a book you've produced with blood, sweat, and tears, there is a science to the bestseller.

Source: The Huffington Post

Donna Marie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Food recipe ghostwriter reveals all

I had no idea that celebrity chefs use ghostwriters to write their recipes, but really, why am I surprised? Denise Vivaldo, seasoned food professional :), makes a full disclosure about writing the "Infamous Kwanzaa Cake" recipe for Sandra Lee (Semi-Home Made, Food Network) in this Huffington Post article.

Now I believe that ghostwriters should stay behind the scenes, but in this case I make an exception.

A Kwanzaa cake? Really?

Here's the controversial video that started it all.

Was Sandra's use of brown frosting strategic? Maybe she was trying to get the African American vote for her significant other, Governor Andrew Cuomo!

Source: The Huffington Post

Donna Marie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jumpstart Monday // managing emotions, dealing with writer's depression

Probably the greatest obstacle to writers' success is lodged like a ticking time bomb in our souls. Triggered by setbacks, mistakes, failures, wrong turns, and disappointments, depression and frustration explode when things don't go our way.

You wonder, "I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Why isn't it paying off?" or "What the heck am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?"

Health.com's article, "10 Careers With High Rates of Depression," was a revelation -- not because writing is #6 on the list, but because it was actually acknowledged that writers suffer from depression. 

I'm not a psychologist, but I know that if you don't manage your emotions, if you succumb to depression, writer's block and writer's procrastination are sure to follow. Not a good thing when you're on a deadline. For many, Monday morning is a trigger for depression, and it often begins with feelings of dread Sunday night. 

I subscribe to the simple but brilliant notion that our emotions are indicators of whether or not we're in alignment with God within us. If we're unhappy or fearful (about money, for example), we're out of alignment with that high vibrational state that expresses as Love, Peace, Joy.

When we are feeling loving, peaceful, and joyful, we're in a more receptive frame of mind to see the opportunities that are scattered, like diamonds, all around us, all the time.

So how can you start feeling better right now?

It's unreasonable to expect that positive thinking alone is going to make you feel better. Here's what you can do right now...

1. Acknowledge the feeling. It's telling you something. Listen.

2. It may take a lot of effort, but look for one small thing in your life that makes you happy. Meditate on that. Now think of something else. This is just enough to take some of the edge off, but that's enough to get the happy productivity snowball rolling. 

It seems like a little thing to do, but I guarantee, you're going to feel better.

Remember, the Monday blues is a mindset. Just as easily we can make Monday the best day of the week!

Donna Marie

Friday, December 10, 2010

How a once broke single dad is self-publishing his way to success

J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was once a single mother on welfare. Now she's a zillionaire. Her widely reported rags to riches story is the stuff of publishing legend.

Today I read another inspirational story, but what makes this one even sweeter is that the writer is self-publishing his way to success via Smashbooks, "an e-book publishing and distribution platform for ebook authors, publishers and readers." Brian S. Pratt, writer of fantasy novels and single father of 3, is, as Smashwords founder Mark Coker put it, "the future of publishing."

Can I tell you that reading this article gave me goosebumps? It made me give thanks to God. I'm telling you, writing stars, the power to publish is in our hands, and it's getting cheaper to do so every day. 

Don't let the bad news media make you succumb to all the financial gloom and doom. Yes, we're in a recession, and unemployment is unacceptably high. You may be so depressed you can't get out of bed. But like He said, "Take up your bed and walk." 

In other words, get up, wipe your eyes, sit at your computer, and get to writing. 

According to Coker, 
"Last quarter, [Pratt] earned over $18,000 from sales across the Smashwords retail distribution network. This quarter, with three weeks to go, he's on track to break $25,000. He's on track to earn over $100,000 in 2011 at Smashwords, and up to $200,000 total when he includes his projected Amazon sales."
Visit Smashwords hereRead Coker's interview with Pratt here. Pay special attention to his marketing approach. Do you know how hard it is to market fantasy fiction? Yet he's doing it. 

I haven't used Smashwords (yet), but as soon as I go through the publishing process, I'll give you my report. In the meantime, if you or someone you know has experience publishing with Smashbooks or any other ebook publisher, please share! 

Donna Marie

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where to Find Labor for $5

Thanks to Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, for the heads up about how to hire services for $5! There are some great online resources on the web, but Fiverr.com is now one of my favorites!

Need a snappy headline for your press release?

What about a logo for your business? Or a cartoon for a special report you're publishing?

Need help installing a WordPress blog? Or creating a Twitter account?

Head on over to Fiverr.com where thousands of people have posted little ads about what they're willing to do for $5.

Daniel Hall mentioned this site last week when he was my guest during the webinar on how to create an ebook for the Kindle (see next item below). He suggested it as a place to find a dirt-cheap artist who can create an ebook cover, or a proofreader who can make sure your ebook is error-free.

When I shared the Fiverr link on Friday, during my presentation on blogging for the Wisconsin Business Owners Association, several people in the audience raved about the site. One guy said he paid $5 to have someone install his WordPress blog.

Fiverr.com can be a thrifty alternative to sites like Elance.com, ODesk.com and Vworker.com, particularly if you have a small project and you're in a hurry. 

Reprinted from "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," an ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity. Subscribe at http://www.publicityhound.com/ and receive by email the handy cheat sheet "89 Reasons to Send a Press Release."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For your viewing pleasure... SugarStrings

This is off our usual topics, but when kids do good things, you've got to let the world know. SugarStrings is a wonderful trio of young female string musicians -- ages 13, 13, and 18 -- who are doing great things with their music. They were featured last night on Brian Williams' news program (NBC). Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jumpstart Monday // whip words to SUBDUE writer's block

It happens to even the most experienced writers. You get stuck on a passage. You just don't know what your next article or book will be about. You fear the fountain of creative ideas has run dry.

Well, has a song ever run on a loop in your head?

Have no fear! As long as you have a mind, you'll have creativity. One way to stimulate new ideas is to whip trigger words back and forth through word games -- and like Devo says, whip them good.

We're in the Information/Digital Age. Words are all around us, but here are 3 sources of words to get you started:

1. Urban Dictionary. Regular folks send in their own definitions of slang words, which can be both hilarious and disturbing. For example, check here for the many and varied definitions of "snitch."

2. Google Keywords. This is my favorite keyword search tool. It's free, and if you use Google to search online, this is the tool to use. Using this tool can serve 2 purposes: it can jumpstart creativity, and it will show you how often words and terms are searched on Google. This is wonderful intelligence to have at your fingertips when doing any online writing, researching, or marketing.

3. Merriam-Webster Word of the Day. Sign up here to have the word of the day sent to you via email. Honestly I've been disappointed at the level of difficulty of the words. They are way too easy. However, they can be used to jumpstart creativity. Today's word is "ear candy: music that is pleasing to listen to but lacks depth." Sentence: It could be argued that the above 2 songs are mere ear candy.

Whip them good
Search these tools to see what words jump out at you. Then take the words and play around with them.

One of my favorite word games as a child was to see how many words I could get out of a long word or phrase.

I have friends who LOVE to acronym words. Example: W.O.R.D. = Writing Or Researching Deadlines. This can get irritating in books and presentations if overdone, but you might find that it's great at unlocking writer's block.

Word mapping is another fun creative word game. Write a word in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Draw lines like spokes from the word and write down whatever associations and creative ideas spring to mind. This game is effective at turning on the fountain. Ideas stimulate new ideas and then the next thing you know, you're writing! I find brainstorming is more relaxing than actually writing sometimes, so I use this game to help me ease into the writing project.

Don't give into the Monday blues. Let Monday be your most creative day of the week.

By the way, do you have tricks and tips for dealing with writer's block? Please share!

Donna Marie

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Sarah Palin dream: how to ghostwrite for celebrities

Sarah Palin doesn't speak to me, even though I have been hired to write her next book. Without communication, the project fails. She must know this, but she just stares warily at me and makes sure I don't hear her secret discussions with others.
Yes, this was a dream, but it made me recall a ghostwriting experience I had years ago. I was hired by a PTB publisher to ghostwrite the autobiography of a famous celebrity. In accordance with the ghostwriter's code, I won't mention names.

Now I've been able to forgive low down dirty men who hurt me, but not this celebrity. The thought of what I went through still pisses me off. Get over it? Maybe writing about my horror story of a ghostwriting job will prove a cautionary tale for writers who are interested in this line of work -- and help me send this ghost into the Light.

This celebrity has a life people gossip about, but what excited the PTB publisher was this person's awesome brand and marketing platform. In addition to an outline, my proposal for the book included a scheme of metaphors and symbols that would play off the celebrity's brand. (See, I was thinking about branding even before I knew what it was!) I got the job.

I flew to Los Angeles to meet and interview this star. Contractually we were obligated to meet 10 times. I'd call the assistant every morning to try and get on the celebrity's calendar, but every time there was an excuse. Ultimately we met 2 or 3 times in all. So instead of interviewing this person, I went shopping, hung out with my cousin, and drove to Mexico. At every stage I let my agent and publisher know what was going on. 

At the end of the 3 weeks all I had to show was a bad case of food poisoning and a lot of miles on my rental car.

I was mad. The publisher was mad. My agent was mad. With no access to the celebrity, there was no communication. With no communication, there was no information. With no information, there was no book -- at least not by me.

The book was eventually written by someone who had access, someone in the celebrity's inner circle. I went on to ghostwrite several books for stars you may never have heard about but who are respected in their fields.

Ghostwriting can be a lucrative way to earn a living, and good writers are always in demand. Self-publishing and the public's fascination with celebrities have opened up many opportunities for writers. If you're interested in this line of work, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Don't be star struck. Celebrities are people too. If you go into a project goo goo eyed, you lose respect. Come to the project as a peer, an equal. 

2. Expect ego explosions. 

3. Make your ego invisible.

4. Respect the client's creative input. You're the expert, but still, clients will have ideas, and rightfully so. It's their book. Your job is to shape their ideas if good. If the ideas are not workable, you'll have to be straight with them, but be respectful. Ultimately however, if they insist, you'll have to make it work.

5. Insist on open, honest, and ongoing communication. If information is not forthcoming, consider exiting the project. It's your reputation on the line.

6. Creatively incorporate the client's brand into the book.

7. Keep secrets, and honor the celebrity's privacy.

UPDATE: I'm happy to report that I've finally sent this ghost into the Light. In writing this post I realized I learned what I needed to learn from the experience. R.I.P.!

Donna Marie

Friday, December 3, 2010

A writer's quest for balance

Nonwriters may think the writer's life is dull, with all its reading and writing, but never judge a profession by how it looks.  We writers are always chasing ideas and dreams. We're always rushing to capture thoughts into books and articles. We live and breathe by our deadlines. 

In fact, the writing profession is a stressful one. Now stress is not all bad. It can make a positive contribution to our creative output, but to live on the edge all the time? Not so good.

Yesterday was a travel day for me. I promised my cousin, who recently adopted a baby boy, that I would come and help out. While here in lovely California I hope to meet a potential client as well, but the main purpose for my visit is to help a little boy adjust to his new life.

Flying to my final destination, I had a lot of time to obsess about my projects and commitment to this blog. In the midst of all this obsessing about things I couldn't control, something strange caught my attention. Babies and toddlers, they were everywhere! That's odd, I thought. Where the heck did all these babies come from? They were laughing, babbling, bawling, and playing up and down the aisles. Oddly I wasn't bothered by any of it. It was if a mysterious force was preparing me for my imminent visit with my new cousin -- or distracting me from my work obsessions.

Kids always have something better to do!
Babies are so demanding. It's hard to write at home and care for one properly. I had to train mine when they were young because if I didn't write, they wouldn't eat. We established a rhythm. My son would read or do homework in my bedroom office while I wrote. His younger sister would sometimes curl up like a kitten on my lap or under my desk. They forced balance into my life.

Now that the nest is empty and the little birdies have flown away, I've been working without distraction -- until now.

Tired of being tired?
The quest for balance also shows up when we're overstressed and tired. Sometimes you need to take a break from the hustle and grind. Or like my mother the English teacher says, "You need to get some rest."

My mother is a big fan of rest. Her ongoing narratives extolling the wonders of her own rest periods are the stuff of legend in our family. Comments such as "I'm going to bed" and "Boy, I was really sleeping" and "That was some hard sleeping I was doing" and "Was I snoring?" make us roll our eyes -- but she has a point.

Researchers recently found that a lack of rest can lead to obesity. Maybe that's why my weight is too damn high. Not enough rest. 

I get up early and go to bed late whenever I'm working on a project. How can you expect to feel good or be at your best creatively when you're burning the candle at both ends?

Imbalance occurs when we neglect some sort of a spiritual practice that steers attention within, that calms thoughts down, that reconnects us to God.

So I must thank my new baby cousin for forcing me to slow down and think about something else. Work is important, but so are other things that bring joy, love, and fun.

Take time today to attend to those other things you've been neglecting, and if you have a unique way of dealing with stress and imbalance in your writer's life, we need to know right now!

Donna Marie

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tim Ferriss' amazing new book trailer

If you've been following The Celebrity Editor, you know that I tend to go on and on about boring book promotions. See here and here

Well, what do you think about this book trailer promoting Tim Ferriss' new book, The 4-Hour Body? 

I love a good book trailer, but how can the book ever live up to this hype? 

If I took a flying leap like the last guy, I'd end up in at least 2 or 3 pieces. But I have to admit, watching it made me feel good, like I could do something amazing with this middle-aged body.

The trailer sold me. I'm going to buy!

Ferriss has a strong brand, which was launched with his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek. Folks who loved that book will definitely buy his second. Body hasn't even been released yet, but it's already #78 on Amazon.

The important question for self-publishers is, How can we produce exciting book trailers like Ferriss' on a budget? Here's one idea, but obviously this doesn't come close to Ferriss' masterpiece. On the other hand, like my mother the English teacher says, "Do what you can" (which is why we always had mismatched furniture in the living room).

Any ideas? Please share with the Celebrity community!

Donna Marie