Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Motivation... whatever it takes

I'm delighted to have the pleasure of reviewing Maeve Binchy's newest book. It won't be out until March 2010 but you're sure to like it. The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club is a sweet series of weekly letters to the reader from Maeve. Along the way, she invites successful friends to share their point of view on some of the issues that are puzzling to all authors. Not surprisingly, her friends themselves are skilled writers, editors and publishers.

I thought you might enjoy a peek into her letter from Week 6, in which the author bribes herself to keep writing:

"If I get the first four pages of chapter seven done today, I will have a huge glass of Chardonnay...

...If I don't get four pages done, I will sit down and make three telephone calls I have been putting off for weeks."

She ends by saying "... We must remember this is where the losers give up. We will not be among them."

Hope this helps you whether you're slogging through the final hours of NANOWRIMO, writing in your journal, creating a blog post, or the next best-seller. Write on, friends.

Helen Gallagher
(excerpts from Advanced Reader Copy subject to change on publication March 2010.)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Gosh, the month of activity for National Novel Writing Month is winding down and there's a big, fat holiday this week, so don't lose focus.

The Chicago NANOWRIMO group has put together some spectacular free writing events all over the city and suburbs this week. You have NO excuses.... there is even an invitation to a Thanksgiving potluck and major writing day at someone's home. email me if you want the contact info.

Full details of the weeks events in cafes, shops, libraries and other parties can be found at my author marketing blog: Jump over and find an event where you can write and writhe with NANOWRIMO this week!

Friday, November 20, 2009

BookSurge either shrinks or expands

Amazon, owner of the BookSurge print-on-demand company, is merging Book Surge with CreateSpace, its Lulu-like publishing option.

Amazon doesn't make many visible mistakes but this seems like a big one. BookSurge has, to the public, a very good reputation as a high-end POD firm. CreateSpace is, well... a lot like Lulu. I think they could get the same resulting cost savings, synergy, unified brand, if they went with the Book Surge name, but we'll see how well they do.

For now, will BookSurge shrink into the lower-level product or expand into more products, more avenues, more market share. POD is a thriving, dynamic business, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And baby makes three

I've written elsewhere about the ease of developing a blog, and letting it morph into whatever you and your readers seem to respond to. But bloggers never need to feel penned in (pun intended) by having a single blog. Branch out if your interests or your audience grows in a new direction.

In addition to this blog, I started Pajama Marketing as a blog in June, with specific aspects of author marketing tips and strategies. There is a new post each Saturday morning, so you can work in your P.J.'s and still do something productive to move your work and your visibility along.

And now... baby makes three: I'm growing the Pajama Marketing blog into a web site as well. will now share marketing strategies, as well as links to resources, info on upcoming seminars, observations and interviews with other authors. And, you'll still be able to concentrate on your weekly marketing mojo at the blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ebooks, as discussed in Manzanita, Oregon

Last weekend's Dark & Stormy writing workshop in Manzanita, Oregon lived up to its name. Despite the temporary wet weather, the event was filled with terrific energy. The audience especially came alive discussing ebooks and their multi-faceted role in publishing:

1. augmenting print sales of your book.
2. creating visibility for your work in multiple online retail channels.
3. converting your book to Kindle, Nook and Sony formats, and uploading to, where you can earn 85 percent of the ebook price on each sale.
4. providing a way to print excerpts, chapters, small books for a limited audience.
5. using the free digital printing services such as and to print one or two copies of your book to see how it will look when published in softcover.

The great energy over potential of ebooks shows the vast potential of this untapped publishing outlet. Here's an excerpt written by Adam Hanft on Huffington Post on exactly this topic:
(you can read full article here:

"Beyond the publishers, this is a great forward step for consumers, too. Being able to quickly and cheaply download a range of book chapters will expose readers to the potential of more great books, give them the chance to discover new writers, themes and subjects, on an affordable, low-dose, chapter-by-chapter basis. It's the highest and best use of impulse selling.

Writers win, too. Big time. Because more authors will get the chance to get introduced to new readers, and open up new markets - which they desperately need. At it's most basic, it's sampling, like Whole Foods Market giving away tasting cubes of aged gouda. And it works.

So if the idea of a book being sold as piece-goods upsets you - remember that it didn't trouble Charles Dickens, who serialized his novels in newspapers.

In fact, all in all, this is one time where the much-abused cliché "a new chapter in publishing" may turn out to be just that."

No Women In Top Ten List?

With hundreds of great books opting for the coveted "Top Ten" spot on any book list, chance are something will be neglected, and not make the list. When Publishers Weekly released their Best Books for 2009, though, they may have stopped too soon. There are no winning books by female authors. Ten top books of the year, all written by men...?

In their selection criteria, Publishers Weekly's 11/02/09 news item states: "We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the “big” books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male."

Let's make it a point to buy the books further down the list written by women, like those who almost made the list:

Dark Places
Gillian Flynn (Crown/Shaye Areheart)

The Man in the Wooden Hat
Jane Gardam (Europa)

The Believers
Zoë Heller (Harper)

and in non-fiction:
Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan)

Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape
Edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti (Seal)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NANOWRIMO: Don't worry about getting it right, just get to it.

Keep going with National Novel Writing month. If nothing else, it reminds you that you CAN find time to write every day. But don't worry about being perfect:

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile."
Robert Cormier

Quote freshly pilfered from WorldwideFreelanceWriter,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A novel approach to visibility and pitching an agent

Carolyn Howard is a well-known non-fiction writer. She has partnered with another author to do advance marketing for their upcoming book by creating a site for their book proposal here.

It includes their excellent agent query letter here. Their Fiction Marketing site also promotes Carolyn's ebook on making a good first impression. They also include a sample of their blogging chapter, which builds interest for the book, draws visitors to the site, and increases their chances of attracting serious inquiries from agents.

Take a look at it and consider this unusual method of making your work more visible, and showing both your readers and potential agents that you can deliver an unusual approach to marketing today.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Manzanita Rocks

These folks really know how to write. This is a demo blog post done live in our workshop. It is a great weekend to learn about writing projects on genealogy, memoir, medical issues and history, fiction and travel.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How's NANOWRIMO going for you?

Hand cramp or burgeoning book file on your computer? If you're writing well for NANOWRIMO, you've got 4,000 or 6,000 words done by now - over ten percent of your goal. Write extra each day to ease the pace when you have a day where you run out of time.

Reading a HuffPost blog by Steve Ross, former president, Collins Division at HarperCollins and Sr. VP, Crown Division at Random House I found this, which I hope inspires you to find the time, find the time, find the time, find the time each day for your writing.

"Between midnight and 3:00 am each day--after his Senate and family obligations were put to bed--Barack would write, then send his work to his editor for her comments. As the deadlines grew tighter, she would give us regular updates about the progress of the manuscript and sometimes share drafts of chapters for a few of us to read. It was a rare pleasure to watch as the distillation of his message and his vision took shape on paper. Even as a senator Barack continued to care about his work as a writer."

You can read the full article at -- but not til you're done writing for today!

Helen Gallagher

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wake up: Daylight Savings and NANOWRIMO today

Good morning,

Today gives you an extra hour to write, and it is Day One of National Novel Writing Month.

If you need motivation to write every day - this is the month to do it. Read more about it at my marketing blog: