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Rock Your #Writing

Image of book cover for Rock Your Writining









Here’s a quick shout-out to a website that’s full of practical, doable advice for fiction writers.

Much of what’s said applies to nonfiction, too.

Cathy Yardley brings over a decade of commercial writing experience to the table. She’s got more than a dozen books in print with major publishers, and during this time she was holding down a 40-hour-a-week job and raising her child. Sort of makes it hard to gripe about not writing because you don’t have the time. 🙂

She accomplished this by making a thorough study of books on time management, productivity, writing and motivations. She then distilled this knowledge into several concise volumes.


Her series is on Kindle books, and covers how to write more each day. This is not the usual rah-rah stuff, it’s got specific processes and techniques and freebie worksheets. Cathy also covers plotting, editing, writing for specific genres, and crafting effective book proposals. She has a volume dedicate do taking stock of where you are in your writing career and then adjusting your promotional efforts to match. She tailors this advice to whether you’re working towards getting placed with a major publishing house or going the indie route. She speaks from experience.

Best of all, her work is also on, and she is a lively and very funny reader.

This series is very reasonably priced and definitely worth a look-see.


#SFWC2015 – Robbz Notes at a Glance of the San Francisco Writer’s Conference 2015

Photo of talent list for SF Writer's Conference 2015



Here’s a quick pick of the sessions I covered:

My roundup story

Suggestions on choosing and maintaining and effective POV (important in both fiction And nonfiction)

Blog Your Way To A Book Deal

Sunday morning keynote – Judith Curr

From Manuscript to Bestseller – Panel with Betty Sargent, Judith Curr and John Lescroart

Super Fans for Life – How to build a core-tribe to establish a marketing base

Saturday keynote – John Lescroart

The Art of Writing is Rewriting

Writing Mind-Bending, Serious Nonfiction

Cool Tools for Blogging Your Book and Establishing Your Platform

50 Shades of Pay – How to Monetize Your Books

Meet the Nonfiction Editors (kickoff session – SFWC15)


The 6 Keys to Your Success as a Writer: Judith Curr Sunday Morn Keynote #SFWC15


#judithcurr @judithcurr

San Francisco Writer’s Conference 2015

photo of Judith Curr

Judith Curr

Judith talked about her background in the cosmetics industry. Came to US is 1996, a tumultous time. This was a time of consolidation. (She’s with Atria Publishing Group Now). Atria was founded with 2002, a new Imprint. Enliven is a holistic house.

Another imprint is Keywords, a digital imprint. New imprint for a new kind of storyteller.

“It’s always important to say one’s intentions.” Your imprint or any of the names you want to come with should speak to your intention. Atria is plural for atrium, a place for our staff to grow and flourish, and the books should enrich and nourish. The goal is to connect authors with readers.

Also, you want to make sure your name is at the top of the list… so it starts with “A”.

She projects a list of books.

Questions to ask:

Why this book? It will take time and energy to get it out. Are you willing to go the distance?

Story – Is it compelling? Does it have a good resolution? Do you love/hate characters? Is there a narrative arc?

Slide of sample books and reviews. Can’t read the small text. Wonders… The Well Confessions of an Awkward Black Girl…

Who will read the book? Is is a large audience or a niche? (The sayings of Rod Serling).

There are many ways to be able to judge this.

Third question. How will you tell them about it? The publishers are the curators. It’s like an art collection. They decide what to put their time and energy behind.

Techniques – eg author with a following is to let audience know a new book is for sale. This won’t work with a new author.

Outdoor advertising. Brad’s creation Scott Harbor. Latest book is Act of War. Atria bought billboards outside Jacksonville military base.

Mobile ads increasingly more important and people have phones on them 24/7. People will be reading more as screens get larger.

Online ads – click through. You then you know where the orders came from.

Physical book tours – Very important. Last year they did a fall-in-love tour. Each alone didn’t have enough, but they put them together. They have a shared audience. They put a requested RSVP in the area of the bookstore, this allows them to tell the bookstore to order more books.

Social media – YouTube, Facebook, etc – you have to decide where to put your energy.

Give things away  – When all else fails. But usually this is a reward or a valued added. Eg, a short story with an ad on the back of the book. Be careful how you get people used to giving things away.

Charting and responding to online chatter.

What works for some won’t work for all. Be sure to look at the analytics. Judith shared a chart and talked about knowing when you did something verses results.

We live in a cirular world. Online informs the physical world which is then reflected in an online response.

Book Signings, Conferences, and Marriage Proposals

“Book boyfriend” some people will go to an event and meet kindred spirits because not all their peers read what they do.

Many other opportuninies. Goodreads seems to create more physical books sales than ebook sales. Look at Goodreads and make friends there. Pay attention to the reviews.

There are thousands of bloggers. Atria says “we make the news and you report the news.” They have a password protected space for top bloggers to get exclusive breaks.

Wattpad – interesting writers site. Some do it chapter by chapter. It’s free and mobilized as well.

Sometimes people send you cake. That’s nice.

Fourth question is setting your expectations. This is about money and what success looks like for you. There’s no point in saying my book will be a NY Times bestseller. What is the expectation? Publication? Four, five-star reviews with the NY Times?

Think about your goals for sales, by type – hardcover, softcover, ebook

Where will you sell? Remember your goal is to sell many of one kind of book (yours) book sellers want to sell many books of any type.

What do you want?

What are your skills?

What activities should you assign to others?

What publishing model is best for you?

Do you enjoy collaboration?

What are your financial expectations?

Is this a hobby or a career? Somewhere in between? A legacy? A marketing tool for other businesses?


Price points important. Doesn’t mean lowest is best?

Days of Facebook marketing are coming to an end.

Must constantly look at innovations

Publishing not just an art, it’s a business

Some things only an author can do. To hear, see and speak.

It not the answers you have but the questions you ask.

Have you answered them all?

Told a story where a friend was about to be given a suprise gift. A cake. It was covered, awaiting her arrival. She wasn’t due to arrive until the end. After a while, someone asked: “What kind of cake is it?” The answer, becoming increasingly obvious (slide of a melting cake) is that it was an ice cream cake.

So now, the last question she asks is “do I have all the information I need?” In other words, what kind of cake is it?

Judith Curr, President and Publisher, ATria Publishing Group



facebook /JudithCurr

Q and A –

Q – What are the characteristics of good fiction?

A- Well, it should be readable?

Q-Should ebooks stay at $9.99

A-I don’t want to go to jail. The Dept of Justice has regulations about publishers speaking in public about price and pricing.

Judith got Celestine Prophecy published in Australia. It’s a book about values and synchroncity.

Here is Judith’s bio from the Corporate Website:

Judith Curr

Executive Vice President and Publisher

Atria Books

Judith Curr is currently Executive Vice President, Publisher and founder of Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.  She is responsible for all the editorial and publishing activities of the imprint, which includes Washington Square Press, Strebor Books, Atria/Beyond Words, and Atria Books Español

Atria Books is the publishing home of many major bestselling authors including Vince Flynn, T.D. Jakes, Shirley MacLaine, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Maria Celeste Arraras, Daisy Martinez, Brad Thor, Zane, and Rhonda Byrne’s international bestselling phenomenon The Secret.

Ms. Curr has led the Atria imprint since it was launched in 2002. Prior to Atria, Ms. Curr had been President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books since 1999.

Ms. Curr began her publishing career in 1981 as part of the team that founded Transworld Publishers, the Australian subsidiary of Bertelsmann. Initially responsible for publicity and marketing,  she was promoted to Publisher and Executive Director in 1986, and oversaw the publications of an international and local list of authors including Paul Barry’sThe Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer and by John Bertrand’s Born to Win.  Ms. Curr came to America in 1996 to be Senior Vice President and Editor in Chief of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House Inc.  Prior to joining the publishing industry she held marketing positions at Christian Dior Perfumes

A native of Australia, Ms. Curr grew up as one of seven children, on a farm in the southern highlands of New South Wales. She has been chair of the cultural advisory committee for the Council of the City of Sydney, and a board member of the New South Wales Craft Council and the New South Wales Law Society.  Ms. Curr and her husband live in New York City and Long Island, New York where she is on the board of the Women’s Media Group and advisory committee to Girls Learn International Inc.

50 Shades of Pay – How to Monetize Your Books


Nina Amir speak at #SFWC15


Turn your course into a book.
Leveraging your content into multiple streams of income.
Building a business.

Think if there is a system that can be turned into something else. A class you can teach or a speech you can give.

Can each chapter in your book be something you can speak on, teach a course on.

Every chapter has sub headings, a video where you’re teaching something.

You can start small. Nina started at a small church where she could not repeat herself.

Do a teleseminar. The audio is something you can sell. Get a transcript. You can sell it or give it away to get people on your mailing list.

Video – you can do Google webinars or a YouTube video. Do a product. Get a transcript. You now have a valuable, valuable course.

You can combine all this into our course. It can be a home-study course. It can be a retreat, a conference, a virtual site. You can do a membership site that people pay a subscription to see. You can create a consulting business. You want to think about this. You can coach it.

Start with a minimum viable product. It is the audio, very simple, or video.

Create a course. She loves to do this. You combine audio and video. You can take people so much deeper into the content. People read a book, but often they want more hand-holding and people want to go deeper. You can create a course based on this. It all goes together. You can have “done for you” services. You can have people blog for others, produce ebooks. It’s a service. They come to you and you do it. Or you can do “done with you” services.

You teach a course and the material you accumulate becomes the manuscript for your book. You may be putting information on a blog. The course becomes the book, an then you can create more books and more courses. People in your courses will give you ideas and material to work with. Spin off books and sequels. Each book becomes a revenue center for you. You can create an integrated suite of products.


Lee Foster Travel Writer

He writes and does photography. He licenses content.

Develop a strong and robust website. You can sell your content and range of product. Consumers will spend a lot of time in looking at your content and ads. They may be more interesting doing this than to buy. He gets about $5 for every 1k of visitors from ad revenue.

There are many other ways to monetize. You need a range of product. He has 18 books on his Amazon author page. Most of these are ebooks. If you are you just thinking of traditional publishing, Lee urges you to think of Indie publishing. He said that he earns more per sale for the cheaper indie, Ebooks. He earns about 85% on ebooks. He gets about 25% on the traditional sales. Indie is much more profitable.

Become more familiar with the rewards beyond money. Content, design, forms of your book all are at your control.

Indie – you control the price. The books that sell are priced at $2.99. In the Smash Words world 20 of the 25 top sellers were $2.99 books.

Make sure you print on demand with Create Space and Ingram Lightening Source or Spark to get into Libraries.

“Northern California Travel” the 30 chapters are also 30 articles on the website. This increases your licensing opportunities. He just had a 4-year license on his website for 100 articles for the uniglobe travel agency. This netted him thousands of dollars.

This leads to other contacts.

Items 8-9-10 – Experiment with new forms.

Get your books for sale in China. Soon his material will be out in ebook form there.

It’s good to have some social media efforts.

Q and A

How do you get your books into China – Fiberee – approached him (a Chinese company).


Question – Getting word out means marketing. How do you pay for this?

Nina talked about virtual book tours, reviews, interviews and such. She uses her blog and social media. She tried a publicist and it didn’t go well. She knows good publicist, but prefers to do her own. Facebook ads are not expensive.

You can get a virtual book tour for $250-$1,000 for a virtual book tour.

If you plan to monetize and make money as an author. You need to know your ideal reader and know what else is out there and how your book is different. You take this competitive analysis and market analysis and you begin to craft your idea and making an niche. She suggests that everyone do this before they write a word.


Test market. Try different teleseminars and see which ones hit. Look at how many emails you capture.

You can put up a blog for very little. Don’t give up after just six months. You may find that you have viewers.

Also, if you are a novelist, publishers don’t like this and won’t pick up your novel so it becomes a trial. Self-publish your first and then you can go traditional from there if that’s what you want.

Question about Google AD Words – Google’s ads are good. You are allowed three ads on a page, and you may need to work with a designer. He has one on top, one on bottom, and then in recent articles, the most volatile.

Lee said you also get Google analytics, and you can get fixed ads. He has one for on his page.

You may also want an affiliate relationship with Amazon.

My questions – Rodert, Coots, Library job servers – Use Ingram, pay the fee for an ad, Librarians prefer jobbers, Ingram is big with librarians.