Friday, June 1, 2018

Sage Advice from a Teen Author!

- Katelynn Renteria

As a teen author, I would like to share some advice I have learned that has helped me keep the elusive calm in the constant chaos of publishing a book. I wrote my first novel at age 14, and was published at age 16. I am now a self-published author and often still think to myself, what have I learned throughout this process?

1. Fall off the bandwagon! Be yourself. Be bold, daring, and show your audience who you really are. From the pictures that you post on social media to the marketing and promotion of your book, make sure your audience sees what’s in your heart so they can read what’s on your mind.

2. Audience building is key. You could have written the best book on the shelf, but if you don’t build your audience, then you have missed your target. Use social media such as Facebook pages and Twitter to show your friends and people who follow you that you have a lot to say.

3. Make positive connections. Networking with other authors and meeting new people to add to your following is a must to have your social media thrive. By growing your presence and promote other authors as well as yourself, you are able to grow your audience and reach your target. Marketing and book promotion is easier when you connect with friends that already have a large audience halfway around the world.

4. Write your heart out. Critics exist because of the great works in this world. Do not be afraid to write what’s really on your mind instead of wondering if someone will like your story. It’s your story. Make it count.

5. Make sure you fall in love with your characters first. They are the reason people will buy your book. Talk about your characters as if they were in the room. After all, you want your audience to go home with them.

Katelynn Renteria is a teen author from South Texas. She is a 2017 Recipient of the Literary Classics Silver Book Award in the middle school division for her YA fiction novel, The Other Side of the Law. Katelynn advocates literacy in the Rio Grande Valley by visiting South Texas communities and promoting the importance of reading and writing to children and teens. The sequel to her award-winning novel is near completion.  Links:

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How to Make the Most of a Good Review of Your Book

So your book just got an excellent review . . . Congratulations! Good reviews are like gold. If you're fortunate enough to get one, you'll want to make sure you do everything possible to put that endorsement to work for you to help sell more books. So where do you start?  Here are a few tips for ways to help spread the word about recommendations for your book . . .

Press Releases
Submit your book review as a press release to all your local media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television news, etc.)   If your book appeals to a specific niche, make sure you submit your press release to any publications online, or otherwise, which cater to the demographic of your readership.  Don't forget to use online free press release services to help spread the word. 
Back Cover
If you've received a positive review from a reputable review agency, make sure you put it out there where potential buyers can see it. Use a quote, or an excerpt of a quote for any future print runs of your book.  Don't forget to credit the source of the reviewer; if you've received a great review from the New York Times, then you want to make sure everyone knows about it!
Banners & Signage
If you're attending book-signings at festivals or other venues, you'll want to create professional looking signage.  Banners and signs are a great place to promote positive reviews of your book.  Take the time to do this well.  Professional looking banners with sturdy banner-stands are eye-catching and can do wonders to create a professional image for you and your book.  If a banner is impractical, or out of the budget, you can also print professional looking signs to place inside plexiglass frames.  
Social Media
Do you have a blog?  Great!  Post your review there.  Don't forget to share your review on your Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn pages. Make sure to use #hashtags to increase your post's visibility.  Go ahead, be shameless, and ask your friends and family to like and share your posts.  
Amazon's Editorial Reviews
The Editorial Review Section on your Amazon Author Central profile was created to help you bring attention to your professional reviews and literary achievements. This is a great place for sharing your success as an author!
GoodReads Profile
Post your reviews in your GoodReads profile (go to your dashboard to do this).  Also, don't forget to blog the review in GoodRead's blog section.
Your Barnes and Noble Profile
Post your review in the section entitled: More About This Book.  Take the time to get this right the first time though, because Barnes and Noble does not make it easy to edit your posts here.  
Your Website
Post all, or a portion of your all your positive reviews on your website.  Don't forget to include images and logos (with permission) to help bring attention to those reviews which have been provided from reputable and well-recognized agencies. If you have a media page include a PDF of your review which can be downloaded directly from your site.  
Your Sell-Sheet
Your sell-sheet is the perfect place to include reviews of your book. A sell-sheet should include pertinent information for bookstores, libraries, and buyers to tell them why and how to purchase your book.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thoughts on Bublish

by Patricia Reding
An author’s being active on social media is necessary these days. It is a way to get one’s name out and to help to build a following. But it takes precious time from the writer’s craft and we writers are often left wondering if it’s all worth it. Then, along came Bublish (at  Without a doubt, I’ve come to love this tool.

These days, it is fairly easy to discover what readers think of works. They tell us, most notably, through their posted reviews. There are also outlets like Wattpad that give them the opportunity to comment on bits and pieces of an overall work and even to engage in discussions with the author. But Bublish is different because its focus is for an author to share with readers the back story behind her creations.

The concept of Bublish is that the author takes portions of her work and then shares them with readers, adding comments about those excerpts. The author might explain how those portions of the story came to be, or how real-life events brought the portions about or influenced them in some manner. For example, I’ve written “Book Bubbles” about such things as:

How I struggled with the idea of whether or not to include an introduction/preface to my tale:;

What words and concepts I used in the opening scene to create suspense:

The significance of smell/scent (an oft-forgotten sense) in my stories:;

How I research for information while writing:; and

How I use “doorways” and similar devices to urge readers to continue reading:

And take a look at the “look” of Bublish. It is quite handsome, don’t you agree?

Once a BookBubble is created and posted, the author may share it on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Then the magic of Bublish really begins, as the author can follow her metrics to discover how many views there have been of the Bubble and on what outlets, the number of times it was shared by email or re-posted on Twitter or Facebook, the number of viewers who checked out the author’s profile on Bublish or elsewhere, and so on. What’s more, the author can see what retailers those who saw a BookBubble went to so as to check out the work. But Bublish does not stop there. It also allows readers to “follow” the author so as to receive notice every time the author posts a new BookBubble, keeping the author’s name and works in the reader’s sights.

I would love for you to follow me on Bublish. Just click the “Follow on Bublish” button at and join me for the background to my creating the Oathtaker journey!
Multi-award-winning author Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and youngest daughter (her son and oldest daughter having already flown the nest), and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever). From there she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She started writing The Oathtaker Series as a challenge, and re-discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Power of Visualizing the Story

by K.B. Hoyle

I love to draw. I'm not terrible at drawing, but I'm also not very good. Like most of the creative arts, I have a natural knack for it, and if I had ever received good instruction, I probably could have become quite proficient, but alas and alack for time and energy and life. When I was a child and had more of all three, I used to keep sketchbooks for all my stories, and those sketchbooks were like gold to me. You see, I'm an incredibly visual person, and as such, my stories live first in my head--in full, vivid, sharp detail--and it's always been the case for me that the itch to get the images down on paper has overwhelmed, at times, my better sense that tells me I'm not a good enough artist to do the images justice. (Someday I'm convinced I WILL make movies, but there's so much that has to happen first.)

When you're writing a story, however, getting the images just right IS important, and that's one reason why my bumbling attempts to draw what is inside my head has always frustrated me. Yes, I realize it's my job to paint pictures with my words, but when creating worlds that don't exist, the longing to see those worlds is sometimes overwhelmingly powerful. And I'm not one to believe we ever create ex nihilo, so sometimes having the images to view as we create is also, in and of itself, a form of inspiration.

So allow me to let you all in on a little secret of mine... Now, instead of sketching out my characters or settings, I collect images on Pinterest. I've had an author account on Pinterest for years, but I kind of just picked at it, never really realizing its full potential until recently when I downloaded the app. And Pinterest is so vast, I can usually find just what I have in my mind, or close enough, or sometimes (even better) what I never knew I wanted but come to realize is related to my idea through the Pinterest search engines. Eureka! Now I scroll through it while cooking dinner and doing other menial tasks, and I collect images to people and inspire my worlds. Some of my boards (like my Girl in the Sea board) are public, but I keep several private boards full of images for future projects I'll someday release to be viewed by all--once the books are written. I can't tell you how helpful Pinterest has been for me as a working mother who also--oh yeah--writes books, public speaks, and manages all my own marketing and social media on the side! I no longer have time to sketch, but I do have time to Pinterest, and that means I can still visualize my stories. And if I can visualize my stories, I can better bring them to life through words, and that benefits my readers.

Check out my Pinterest boards HERE! I hope you will be encouraged to start your own writing inspiration boards, too.

K. B. Hoyle is a multiple award-winning author, a public speaker, and a creative writing instructor. She and her husband have four sons who test their sanity on a daily basis. Learn more about her and her books at

Thursday, January 19, 2017


This conversation has happened at every agency in the world (particularly in the kids and teen department).
Agent 1: I’ve got a new project.
Agent 2: Yeah? How good is it?
Agent 1: It’s good.
Agent 2: Good?
Agent 1: Yeah, good.
Agent 2: Oh…Damn.
Agent 1: Yeah.
Agent 2: *Sips martini* That’s too bad.
imgres.jpgAgents, editors, and maybe you, the author, know the curse of the “good” book. The book that’s perfectly fine, that works, that tells an interesting story, and that is, sad to say, darn near unsellable. The rejections often contain phrases like “didn’t fall in love,” or “just didn’t feel strongly enough,” leavened with genuine compliments about the writing or characterization. After years of learning the craft of story and voice, you’ve finally created a nearly flawless novelone you know is as good (heck, better!) than a lot of stuff on the shelf. And it just…doesn’t…sell.
What’s going on here? Are publishers just crass, cowardly, visionless hacks who take pleasure in crushing the dreams of talented writers, refusing to give even promising careers a chance to get started?
The answer, of course, is no. Nobody is more motivated (apart from the author) to see a book succeed with flying colors than publishers. Believe me when I say us soulless agents and our human counterparts- editors- are wishing and dreaming as hard as you for that Newbery Medal, the debut on the New York Times Best Sellers list, the book signing line that wraps around the block.
It pains me to say it- and it pains all of us in publishing, I promise you- but there typically just isn’t room for “good” books. Publishing is an increasingly competitive space. More and more people want to be published, and the standard for what constitutes a “success” gets higher every day. Publishers have limited space on their lists, and so each novel has to be more than good. It has to be something special.
Of course there are many kinds of special. Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star, Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s LibraryVictoria Aveyard’s Red Queen– four completely different novels, with pretty different audiences, and they all have something in common. These are novels that demand you sit up and take notice. They are more than just functioning stories. They refuse to be ignored.
images.jpgWhen I say publishers don’t want good books, I don’t mean they’re after bad ones either. Nobody is more passionate about compelling fiction than your friendly neighborhood editor, whether the novel in question is a beautiful, heart-breaking, cry-on-the-subway coming of age, or a heart-pounding, unforgettable, so-damn-sexy-you-need-a-time-out fantasy, romance, or action/adventure. Though you may have found writing on the shelf at Barnes & Noble that makes your skin crawl (in the bad way), fiction is a subjective business, and I guarantee that even if it isn’t your brand of beer, every novel published made someone, somewhere, feel something profound- whether it was excitement, intrigue, or love.
Awesome, thanks for that John. Of course I want to be better than good. I want to be special, too. So what do I do?
My advice to my clients, to all novelists (and to myself), is always the same: push yourself. Don’t settle for your first idea, or even your second. Don’t stick with a project simply because it’s written, when you know rewriting or moving on to the next thing will be even better. Can you tell a story? Great. Now ask yourself, why does my story need to be told? What about it is new, what about it pushes boundaries? What about it has, at least, the potential to change a person’s life?
Teens need you. Teens need writers. I know I did. Novels saved my life, and I am one of thousands in that club. So be fearless. When you tell someone what your story is about, what’s their reaction? You want “Wow,” you want, “Oh my goodness, really?” You even want, “You can’t write a book about that!”
We’re all striving to do something great, and most of us ultimately land somewhere between where we started and the stars. If you want to be a novelist, you have to want to be the best novelist, or you’ll never get off the ground. As maddening as it can be, I’m glad the publishing biz is so competitive. It pushes us to be more.
So get good, write a good novel, hone your craft until you are a master of structure.
Then start again.
John M. Cusick is an agent with Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management, representing picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

17 New Years Tips for authors - Gain greater recognition for your book in 2017

No matter how good your book may be, if you're not getting the recognition you deserve, your potential sales may end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  To follow are 17 tips for gaining the recognition you deserve to help generate activity and greater sales for your book.  Take every opportunity to claim your title as an expert in your field and 2017 may just be a banner year for you and your book!  

1) Brand your Facebook cover photo.  Include images of any awards you may have won.  According to BookBub 69% of readers use Facebook to find information about their favorite author and 88% follow their favorite author on Facebook.

2) Create a discussion on Quora. Get involved.  Ask questions, engage users, don’t make it all about pitching your book. Use keywords in your post title and content to increase promotional returns.

3) Have experience with public speaking?  Give a talk at an event. Pitch your subject to a writers’ conference, such as The Great American Book Festival.

4) Start a podcast or reach out to see if you can participate on someone else’s podcast.  The more exposure the better.  Take every opportunity to reach out to others who may benefit from your expertise.

5) Submit your book as an award contender.  According to BookBub, including an author’s awards in their blurbs increases clicks an average of 6.7%.  Try for established and reputable award programs such as Literary Classics book Awards or the CLC Top Honors Awards

6) Comment on relevant threads in Facebook groups or on other people’s threads to help build your reputation as an expert.

7) Write an in-depth blog post on a topic related to or covered in your book, then reference and link to your book within the post as well as at the end as part of your bio.

8) Contribute advice and ideas to a LinkedIn group.  Make sure your profile includes a link where people can purchase your book.

9) Write a press release for PRWeb. It’s a great way to get some backlinks to your site and maybe even some press interest!

10) Use discussion forums on your topic including places like yahoo answers, to get in front of people who want to know what you know. Make sure you provide a link to your author page.

11) Sign up as a HARO source (HARO: Help a Reporter Out) and be seen as an expert in your field.

12) Become active on HubPages, and publish valuable content that will establish you as an expert while providing greater exposure for you and your book.  Be sure to include a link to your site.

13) Post free content or excerpts from your book on Scribd. (You may also sell your book on this site.)

14) Create short presentations about topics related to your book and put them on SlideShare.

15) Share your knowledge.  Have you learned a special technique for promoting your book?  Offer an article for submission with Author.Pub

16) Offer speaking topics at local schools which the schools will find beneficial for their students. If possible, tie this in to the subject or theme of your book.

17) Make a series of videos for YouTube related to your book content.  With nonfiction books you can include a series of how-to videos.  For fiction books, you can do this by including thematic topics.

Whatever you do, resolve to make 2017 the best year yet for you and your book.  By presenting yourself as an expert in your field you will establish greater credibility while increasing your exposure.  Here's to making it great in 2017!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Get the word out - Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot Contest

Send us your funnies about writing and win cash prizes!


They say a contest is only as good as its judges. By that account, we rock! For our debut year, we've managed to bag ourselves three terrific titans of the writing industry:

Moira Allen
Leigh Anne Jasheway
Geoff Tristram

ably assisted by your humble servant Devyani Borade and her alter-ego Debora!

Read more about the judges.


We are grateful for the support and generosity of our brilliant sponsors. With products and services catering specifically to writers and artists, they are uniquely positioned to help build your success.

Explore their offerings to see how you can benefit.
Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat
Anam Cara Retreat
Read more about the sponsors.

Contest Rules

Category: FREE

Prize: £50 to the winning entry, via PayPal & publication in the Verbolatry newsletter
Eligibility: Anyone over the age of 18, except contest judges and family
Topic: Writing/publishing
Language: English
Genres: Humorous fiction, humorous nonfiction
Types: Cartoon, Essay
Cartoon - JPG, PNG or GIF file, resolution 75dpi min., dimensions 900x1400px max., as attachment
Essay - 100 words min., 500 words max., in message body
Original, previously unpublished work only
One entry per author, regardless of type
Mention the category and title of your entry in the subject line
Include an accurate word count
Tell us where you heard about this contest (Our charismatic promoters)
Send entry to: v3rbolatry(at)gmail(dot)com
"Early Bird" submission period*: 1 April 2016 to 31 July 2016
Last date: 31 August 2016
Results announced: October 2016 newsletters

Category: PAID

Prize: £100 to the winning entry, via PayPal & publication in the Verbolatry newsletter
Fee: £5 per entry via PayPal
Eligibility: Anyone over the age of 18, except contest judges and family
Topic: Writing/publishing
Language: English
Genres: Humorous fiction, humorous nonfiction
Types: Cartoon, Essay
Cartoon - JPG, PNG or GIF file, resolution 75dpi min., dimensions 900x1400px max., as attachment
Essay - 100 words min., 500 words max., in message body
Original, previously unpublished work only
Multiple entries per author allowed
Each entry must be submitted in a separate email message
Mention the category and title of your entry in the subject line
Include an accurate word count
Note the email address used to make the payment in order to link your payment to your entry
Tell us where you heard about this contest (Our charismatic promoters)
Send payment and entry to: v3rbolatry(at)gmail(dot)com
"Early Bird" submission period*: 1 April 2016 to 31 July 2016
Last date: 31 August 2016
Results announced: October 2016 newsletters

  • You will be subscribed to the newsletter when you participate in the contest, although you can unsubscribe at any time.
  • By entering the contest, you guarantee that you are the author of the work.
  • Winners will be contacted via email.
  • If your entry wins or is shortlisted, you grant us first electronic rights and non-exclusive electronic archival rights. Winning and shortlisted entries will be published on the Verbolatry website and in the Verbolatry newsletter, which is then archived in its entirety.
  • There is only one prize for each category regardless of the type of entry submitted.
  • Payment of the prize will be made within 30 days of publication.
  • If multiple entries are submitted by a single author in the FREE category, only the first will be accepted.
  • Entries sent by post will be discarded without consideration.
  • Entries that don't follow these rules will be discarded without consideration.
  • Entry fee is non-refundable.
  • If your piece gets accepted for publication elsewhere, you must inform us promptly so that we can withdraw it from consideration.

(Void where prohibited. You are responsible for managing your tax implications. PayPal may charge some small fee over which we have no control.)

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Information in this section forms part of the contest rules.

Why have this contest?
1. We think the adventures of the charming Debora and her incorrigible Pen deserve to be told to the teeming masses of the writing/publishing industry. Everyone can do with a good laugh. We hope this contest raises the profile ofVerbolatry newsletter and gets us more subscribers. And with our anniversary coming up, what better way to celebrate than by asking you to join in?!
2. Humour writing is our thing. Humour about writing even more so. We've found that this niche is sadly under-represented and under-appreciated in the current literary scene out there, so we'd like this contest to fill that void. We hope entrants will feel empowered and encouraged to keep on writing.
If you're associated in any way with this industry, we bet you have a funny story to share!

How can you compare cartoons with essays?
The same way you can compare apples with oranges and decide that just then what you'd really like to eat is an apple, not an orange. All judging is subjective in all contests. If it were an exact science, everybody would win. We like what we like, and we'll know it when we see it!

What are the judging criteria?
Judging is point-based. Points will be awarded for originality and uniqueness of idea, its funny quotient, and quality of writing/art. One bonus point will be given to entries that are submitted early. Normal contest etiquette applies. (This means the judges' decisions are final. No arguing over why a piece was chosen or not chosen. There is expectation of courteous communication by both sides. We trust you to verify your own eligibility to the contest and you remain liable for any consequences if you don't.)

How long will the shortlist be?
No less than five and no more than eight entries, per category.

What happens if there's a tie?
To be announced.

Why do early birds get a benefit?
For balance of volume. Contests get many last-minute entries. If we get a flood of late submissions, we may get overwhelmed and results may be delayed. That would make us cranky. So we encourage early submissions to maintain a nice steady flow of entries. Seriously, you don't want to make us cranky. It's not pretty.

Hey, wait. I know you people. We're friends. We chat often. Do I get the inside track on the contest? *nudge* *wink*
We're friends, you say? Well, don't worry, we won't hold that against you! On the other hand, it won't earn you any favours either.
I am an editor/publisher/cover designer/book agent/retired grandma who's just discovered this thing called Internet/an inhabitant of Antarctica. Can I participate?
Yes! All are welcome, as long as they can meet the requirements above. Competition is fierce. You are pitting your work against strong contenders, many of whom have years of experience in the industry. So make sure you bring your A-game. (Hang on, you really live at the science stations on Antarctica? Cool, please spread the word there, too. Unless you're a penguin.)

Can I collaborate with a friend and submit a joint entry?
No. Each entry must have only one author.

Can I enter a poem/novel excerpt/screen play/photograph/podcast/anything other than cartoon or essay?
Sorry, no.

Will my entry be acknowledged?
In a way. You will be subscribed to the newsletter, which is emailed twice a month. So if you've received an issue of the newsletter, we've received your entry to the contest. If you don't receive an issue within a month of sending your entry, please contact us.

Why are you subscribing me to your newsletter?
Increasing our readership is one of the objectives of this contest. You are under no obligation to remain subscribed. We do hope, though, that you'll hang around to enjoy the newsletter, because, hello? Cartoons! A 20-second fun read in your inbox every fifteen days! What's to not like?!

What if I am already a subscriber?
Then we love you, and you rise to the top of our favourite persons' list. Fear not, you won't be signed up twice, but you also won't get any preferential treatment as far as this contest goes. Perhaps we can schmooze over a coffee later? Sucks, we know, but we're painfully unbiased here.

What do you mean by 'previously unpublished'? Does my blog post/facebook update/twitter tweet count?
Afraid not. If it's been published in a blog, book, magazine, website, anthology, CD,  chat room, writers' forum or even critique group, it does not qualify. If it's still in your little black diary at home buried under clothes and last night's dinner in a corner of your desk drawer, and nobody other than your mum has set eyes on it, it's probably okay to submit.

Why aren't you accepting reprints? Won't that increase your subscriber numbers?
It will. However, we want this contest to be a level playing field for everyone. We want to encourage you to create something brand new! The contest focus is broad enough to allow plenty of latitude for ideas, yet narrow enough to direct and channel your creativity. If your work has been previously published five times, or fifteen, it's probably good, and you should be proud. Now let's give everyone a chance to shine.

I found I made a mistake in my entry, but I've already submitted it. Can I send in a correction, revision or updated version?
No. All submissions are final.

What happens to my entry after the contest?
If your entry gets shortlisted or wins, we ask for publication rights as above. If your entry doesn't make the cut this time, then nothing, you can treat it as before. You don't lose any rights.

Do you accept cheques or direct bank funds transfers?

Must I provide my real name?

Can I send my entry by post?
You're kidding, right? Good one! A sense of humour is exactly what we'd like to see; you should send in an entry!

I love your FAQs! Can I copy them and use them on my website/competition?
We're flattered, but no, thanks. In fact, why settle for imitation when you can get the real thing? Hire us and we'll manage your contest or write copy for you which is as scintillating or even better. Our rates are very modest. In fact, they are so shy and retiring, you'll have to contact us to get a peek at them. Go on, we'll wait.

Still have a question we've not already answered? Feel free to ask us at v3rbolatry(at)gmail(dot)com.