Monday, November 26, 2007

E. L. Doctorow

In one brief phrase, E.L. Doctorow says all we need to know to finish writing a book:

"... there is no way out except through that last sentence."

source: Creationists, E.L. Doctorow, Random House

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tech Toys for Writers

Over at the Writer's Digest Writer's Perspective blog, there is interest in holiday gift ideas for writers. Here's a list of more tech gifts for writers adapted from a recent presentation I gave in Spokane.

I'm about to post an entry today about Amazon's Kindle E-Book reader today, so check back here later today for that too.

Helen Gallagher

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Author, Author, where is your web site?

If you are working on a book, don't wait until its finished to build your web site. Once your book launches, you'll find yourself busy with hundreds of other things, and a publicity campaign is much easier if the web site is already in place.

As I've helped people with this task, I've noticed they gain clarity about the book, and about how to focus or pitch the book by having a web site. It forces you to make a nice, concise statement about the book, to capture attention. And that will later become the theme for your entire book campaign.

So don't wait - choose a domain name for yourself or the book's title, as I did with Release Your Writing ( and begin letting your site reveal the focus of your book. You'll also have a place there to list upcoming events and let people know how to purchase, but you might enjoy it as a visual representation of what you know is soon to come: your book.

Helen Gallagher

Friday, November 9, 2007

Book store loyalty works both ways

During a book signing event Monday, the store owner was pleased to hear me speak about book store loyalty.
We can't just ask a store to carry our books. We also have to support the store. They are a presence in our communities, they foster literacy, provide jobs, pay taxes, and we need to be there for them.

So, attend events at local book shops, buy from independent stores more than you do online retailers, bring them fresh ideas for book signing events and partnerships with other local organizations.

My sister has a small book shop on the Oregon coast. She recently had a customer in the shop from Minnesota, attending a 2-day workshop on book collecting. He spotted one of her beautiful art books, Splendid Pages, price $65.

As she relates the story, "He had his back to me then I noticed him with pen in hand but decided not to get upset about that, though it is becoming a pet peeve when people reference buying books elsewhere to save money. So he hands me $2 and says nicely that he knows it's hard to be an independent bookseller and the $2 is a 'discovery fee' and that he had a shop in St. Paul that he uses. I said I would accept and am glad he understands the challenges to booksellers, etc. I also said that's why I ship books all over the country at no charge. He paused and said "...oh you ship for free?....well then I'll take it".

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Say "No" and walk away

Every writer wants to gain exposure and selling articles is a great way to validate our work. But don't sell out, and don't agree to post your work on web sites without retaining your rights.

Here's a brief excerpt of the actual contract underlying one of the many 'content sites' that urge writers to submit article for distribution on the web. This example is a company that pays you money! Yes, folks, that's right! They will pay you for your article, but .... they pay $1.50 for every one thousand page views, or clicks on your article. Not even enough to buy a magazine!

What's worse, the firm's contract states:

"Content Producer hereby irrevocably (i) grants to Company a worldwide, perpetual, fully-paid up, royalty-free, transferable right and license, with right to sublicense, to reproduce, publicly display, distribute, and perform, transmit, edit, modify, create derivatives works of, publish, sell, exploit, use, and dispose of such Work for any purpose and in all forms and all media whether now known or to become known in the future, the right to retain all revenue and income derived therefrom, and any and all other related rights of whatever kind or nature --- "

I think I've made my point. Contact me if you have any questions.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Guess the profession...

From this description, try to guess the person's profession:

"... [His] ideas come from everywhere. He keeps a file bulging with magazine and newspaper clippings, takes research trips abroad, and never travels without a pencil and notebook."

Did you guess "Writer?"

I sure did. My first thought was someone immersed in the lovely art of research, or perhaps a travel writer.

Well, just to show you that inspiration comes from everywhere, and we should always be on the alert for new ideas, it turns out the quote, in Saveur Magazine, refers to Chicago restaurateur Rich Melman, head of the Lettuce Entertain You enterprise.