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Beyond Writer’s Block: Three Steps to Pushing Through

By: Trish Lee

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anyone who has written has experienced the inevitable “writer’s block”. You are sitting at the computer or have a blank sheet of paper in front of you, desperate to pour forth greatness onto the writer’s version of a blank canvas. Your brain is screaming, “I don’t know what to write!” You are not alone.  It happens to all writers. It happened to me when I sat down to write this article. Whether you are a veteran writer or a novice, fret not. Here are three simple steps you can use to move past the writer’s block and get back on task.

1. Set a time to write and stick to it – It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Take fifteen minutes in the morning while you drink your coffee. Or wait until the kids have gone to bed. Whenever you feel the most alert. Pick a time and schedule it on a regular basis to sit down and write.

2. Pick the low-hanging fruit – Whether you are writing a memoir, a business report or an instruction manual, the best place to start is the easiest place. What are you most comfortable with? What subject is floating around right there at the top of your brain that you could just skim off the surface and put it down on paper? Choose the easiest topic to write about. This may be difficult for the personality type that eats, sleeps and breathes order, but try it. It will be more productive than working on that outline for the next three weeks.

3. Just do it! – Borrowed from the Nike campaign, but it really works. You have set your time and picked your topic. Now it is time to write. Just sit down and free-write about your subject you have chosen at your chosen time. Don’t think about grammar or context. Just write. Grammar, context and all the other structural aspects of writing can be addressed later during the editing process.

Writer’s block can be admittedly frustrating, but it can be easily overcome. While it may seem “too easy” to follow these three steps, stick with it. You never know when, nestled somewhere amidst the low-hanging fruit, you will find the nugget around which you will craft your next masterpiece.

You have your marching orders! Go write!


Book Elves Announces New Media Partners

They say, “You are who you associate with,” and at Book Elves, we know full well the value of surrounding ourselves with people who bring a wealth of skill and insight to the table. We have worked hard this past year to put together a solid team of partners who provide a full range of services to our clients in an effort to make the writing and self-publishing process flow as naturally as a mountain stream.

We are pleased to announce the addition of two new author media partners to the Book Elves Partners Team. Book Elves has negotiated special rates with both of these service providers that are available exclusively to our clients. These media packages are designed to provide you with professionally produced results at a significant savings.

AUTHOR VIDEOS by Video Profile Austin

When it comes to speaking about your book…really speaking about your book… no one can do justice to telling your story quite like you can. Video Profile Austin is a video marketing company specializing in producing affordable videos for businesses. They offer a model that features a professional shoot environment, reasonable pricing, and only a 50-minute time commitment. The special Book Elves Author Video Profile includes a one-minute professionally recorded and produced video. Your 50-minute session includes 25 minutes of coaching, hair and makeup and 25 minutes of the actual recording session.

ELECTRONIC MEDIA BOOK SERVICES by Gene Vasconi | Communication Arts Multimedia

Audio and video technology are revolutionizing the self-publishing world. From audiobooks to audio and video book promotion materials, making multimedia a part of your writing and publishing experience is an absolute must. Communication Arts Multimedia is an award-winning electronic/print media producer and has been providing electronic media projects for museums and businesses for over 20 years. Owner Gene Vasconi is a former television producer/director and communications trainer. The following special packages are available to Book Elves clients:

Audiobook Package
This is a single-voice recording of your book content onto digital medium using professional equipment (approximately 100 content pages and up to four one-hour sessions for recording – additional hours are billed separately). It includes basic audio presentation coaching during session(s), mix-down and editing into chapters/tracks for audiobook use and creation of a final audio CD master or creation of streaming content for web delivery.

Audio Promo Package
This package includes a three to five minute promotional segment in your voice. The recording will be written and created by Communication Arts and delivered on MP3 format for web use.

Video Book Trailer
This is a 30-60 second video written and produced by Communication Arts in a professional announcer voice. Music and/or sound effects will be included as needed. The video is graphic-based and delivered as .MOV (high definition) file for web use.

Watch for more details and pricing information on all the new media services coming soon. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss or have any questions about these services, please contact Trish Lee at trish.lee@bookelvespublishing.com. Both Video Profile Austin and Communication Arts Multimedia are scheduled to offer a brief introduction of their services during the September Book Elves Boot Camp on September 18th, where special guest speaker Joey McGirr of McGirr Enterprises will be presenting How Social Media Can Give You R.E.A.C.H. Click here for registration information.

7 Questions to Ask When Defining Your Target Reader

By: Rachael Wilkins

You have come up with the most brilliant book idea anyone has ever thought of, and you can’t believe you didn’t think of it sooner. When asked who your target audience is, you naturally reply that this book is for everyone. Dare to dream.

The harsh reality is that unless you have developed a talent for walking on water, your book probably is not for everyone. But like every book, it is for someone – and finding that someone is one of the most crucial first steps in publishing a work that will truly have an impact on the lives, thoughts and actions of those who read it. After all, isn’t that why we write in the first place?

Knowing who you are writing to and keeping that in the forefront of your gray matter while you write is evidence of someone who gets it. It also makes the writing itself much easier. Not sure where to start? No problem. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about who your target reader is. This is not by any means an all-inclusive list, but it should get those wheels spinning in the right direction.

1. Is your target market too broad?
An expansive target market can actually mean more competition and a greater drain on your resources. Funneling down to a more specific niche can give you more of an impact with those who will actually be interested in your book.

2. Is your target market too narrow?
While it is important to steer away from the outer edges of the overall market, developing tunnel vision in defining your target market can have a negative impact on your profitability. This is a game of balance. Dance around a little until you find your sweet spot.

3. Who is reading other books that are similar to yours?
Identifying other books that are comparable to yours and examining who is buying and reading them can be a real-eye-opener. You might be surprised at what you find.

4. Who needs what you are offering?
This is especially important for non-fiction writers and more specifically if you are wanting to use your book to promote your business, brand or yourself as a speaker or consultant. A follow-up question to this one is, “Why do they need it?”

5. What are the demographics for your target reader?
Consider things like age, gender, marital status, race or ethnicity, occupation, family structure and education level. Are they parents, grandparents, young urban professionals, solopreneurs?

6. What is the culture of your target reader?
Examine things like work habits, recreation, activities, entertainment, religious observances and whether they are urban, rural, suburban or small town.

7. What is your target reader’s motivation?
Consider here what they want out of life, personally and professionally, as well as what their beliefs, goals and desires are. Are they politically motivated, family-oriented, success-driven, dreamers, doers?

Now that you are in this mode of thinking, keep going. What other questions can you think of that will help you identify your target reader? Dig deep. You can do this.

Happy writing!


Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner and Senior Consultant of Freestyle Business Solutions.



How to Talk So Your Target Audience Will Listen

By: Jenny Magic

Struggling with what to say on your blog or social media sites? Have you made all the “new product” announcements but you’re still lacking followers and fans? Here are a few tips.

Turn off your “radio voice”

Have you ever listened to NPR radio announcers and imagined them walking around their normal lives talking like that? “Honey, we’re out of mustard” in that deep, formal baritone? Not only would it seem awkward and fake, but it would also be pretty distracting.

The same is true for content marketing, and we’re seeing companies of all sizes struggle with this as online media evolves. Traditional, one-way media channels like television, radio and print are more suited to the formal tones of broadcast. In the old days, a credible, omniscient, father-figure advised you on your consumer choices.

Times have changed.  Social media is conversation, and a “radio voice” sticks out like a sore thumb.

Turn off the formality and talk to your audience as individuals.  Have a regular conversation with them. Not only will your message sound more authentic, but the conversational tone will encourage a conversational response.

As an example, if you were marketing your restaurant, you could say that you specialize in “Combining local seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of flavors from around the globe as the basis for our culi­nary philos­ophy.” I took that almost verbatim from a restaurant website.

But to “turn off the radio voice,” you might try the style of one of my favorite Austin, Texas spots, Magnolia Cafe, and use more casual language and a little personality: “Welcome to Magnolia Cafe! Fresh food cooked with passion in a comfortable setting, kind of like your favorite aunt’s giant kitchen, if she had one. Open 24/8.”

If you use language and tone like your readers would use in everyday language, your message is more likely to be heard, remembered and repeated.

“Hey you!” Talk to them directly

Have you ever been at a noisy coffee shop – ignoring all the talking around you – when someone says your name?  Your ears perk up, and suddenly you’re looking around and listening to find out if it is a coincidence or if someone you know is trying to get your attention.

You weren’t listening until you thought someone was talking directly to you.

The same thing is true in every communication situation, especially in the cluttered world of the Internet. As users visit websites and search for products and services, they tend to ignore general messages that could be targeted at anyone. Instead, they hone in on the messages that seem designed for them.

That’s why shampoo ads don’t just say, “Get clean hair!” but instead have messages like, “Hey there, do you have dry/ frizzy/ unmanageable hair? Have we got the shampoo for you!”

Information that tries to be helpful to everyone is likely too generic to be interesting to anyone.

The more you can say, “Hey, you!” to your target audience, the more likely they will listen to what you say next.  Much like the person saying your name in the coffee shop to get your attention, using descriptors in your marketing messages that your audience will recognize in themselves will get their attention.

So instead of just posting blog tips about “10 Things Every Business Owner Should Know,” consider addressing a very specific issue: “Having Trouble Finding the Right WordPress Plugins? Top 10 Plugins for Small Businesses.” If someone has recently fought that battle, your headline will jump off the page for them.

Get to know them

Consider what you don’t know about your target audience, their goals, desires and habits, and ASK. Ask about things that aren’t directly relevant to selling your product or service. Ask the kind of “get to know you” questions you would ask in a real life introduction.  Choose topics that are interesting for your market research, but also ask the questions because you just want to know your audience better. Companies that use social media to show they understand and care about the audience they serve are the ones that get attention, get fans, and get passed along because they’re trying to make a genuine connection rather than just sell.

You could ask which blogs or Twitter users they think are the best in a certain category. You might have them rank the top events or conferences in your field, or get their opinions on your next product or logo update like Simple Shoes did.

Zappos recently posted on Facebook, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on this day back in 1968. We know you have the theme song in your head now. What was your favorite television show growing up?” Not at all related to selling shoes, but 165 fans took the time to give Zappos their answer.

Even if your intention is just fostering interaction, you’ll often get valuable insights to help you build out your target audience persona.

Any communication book will tell you that using simple language, talking about topics that interest your listener and asking questions are all key to building understanding and rapport. Don’t forget to apply the same principles to your marketing messages!

What other tips do you have to better connect with your audience?


Jenny L. Magic (@JennyLMagic) is the founder and principal of Better Way to Say It, a content strategy company that has been helping clients identify their target audience and write content that captivates since 2008. Jenny speaks regularly at marketing events and workshops, and teaches courses in content marketing for the University of San Diego Institute for Sales and Business Development. She is a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute, VP of Development Association of Women in Communication, Austin, and her professional background includes Google Certified AdWords expertise, Inbound Marketing Professional Certification and a certificate in Direct Marketing from the DMA.

Book Marketing Beyond the Box: Easy Guerilla Marketing Techniques for Your Book

I recently attended a Book Elves Boot Camp workshop where Thomas Umstattd of Author Media presented 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites. I walked away with a wealth of new insight and inspiration, but one comment in particular that Thomas made resulted in a bit of an “aha” moment for me. He said, “Publishing companies have no idea who your readers are.”

Whether you are self-published or use a traditional publishing company, marketing your book ultimately rests on your shoulders. Yes, you can hire a marketing firm to assist, but if you are not presently in the financial position to do this, your book promotion campaign does not have to be a budget buster. A little creative mojo can give your book exposure a boost. Here are some guerilla marketing methods other authors have found tried and true:

Local Retail Look for local gift shops, book stores, restaurants and other retailers who will promote the “local author.” Ask about setting up a countertop or other display. Look for specialty retailers that pertain to your book genre or topic.

Non-traditional Book Signings In addition to the standard book store book signings, search out off-the-beaten-path locations for book signings – parks, diners, places of interest that inspired some part of your book like a character or a concept you wrote about.

Local library Donate a copy of your book to the local library. Take the time to introduce yourself as a local author and discuss the book’s topic with them; many libraries feature books by local authors.

Local Groups Use MeetUp to find and join local real-life groups that are centered around a common interest relevant to your book topic.

Local Media Interviews If your book topic is of interest to the general public, look into local radio, television and newspapers for interviews. Specifically look for radio shows or newspaper columns that relate to your genre or topic or lifestyle sections that might feature a local author. Send a press kit with info about you and your book. Your press kit should include a pitch about why your book will be of interest to their listeners, viewers or readers. If your book is non-fiction, what are the top 10 ideas from your book? What solution do you provide in your book? If it is fiction, what is the story behind the story?

Book Reviews Launch a book review campaign. Include positive reviews on your website and social media; use them to help you gain access to larger markets. Book reviews are more objective than advertising and often carry more weight when potential readers and readers are considering your book.

Advance Sales Identify a target market for your book and offer them a special discount for pre-orders. Some authors have actually pre-sold enough books to pay for the first printing.

Teach Others If you are comfortable speaking in front of others, and if your book topic is something that can translate into a class or workshop, search out teaching assignments or speaking engagements at conferences, community schools or other events. Publicity materials for these can include reference to your book.

Enter Competitions Enter your book in competitions. Look for contests that don’t require a high entry fee, niche contests related to your book genre or topic and those friendly to self-published books. There are awards for niche, editing, cover design, etc. Even if you don’t win, special mentions, nominations and other award levels still lend credibility to your book and can be used in marketing materials and press releases.

Trade Shows & Fairs Look for local events centered around your niche (auto repair-car shows; careers-job fairs, etc.) Use a game or drawing to gain interest in your booth. Use an eye-catching display. Be sure to follow up with all contacts made at the show in a timely manner.

Book Clubs Look for local book clubs (try using Meetup, Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as the local library). If your book topic fits, introduce yourself as a local author and offer to share your book. If they choose it, offer to join in when they discuss it.

Engage Your Network Generate an email campaign to your personal network, clubs or organizations that you belong to that relate to your book topic or genre. Let them know you have written a book, tell them a little about the book. Include a link to your website where they can learn more and/or purchase the book. Ask them to please forward the email to anyone they think might be interested in your book or in scheduling a speaking engagement or book signing.

Bring Your Book to Life Ask your friends, family and readers to take a picture of your book (or e-book on their e-reader) wherever they are (anywhere in the world). Have them email the pictures to you or post them on Facebook. You can add funny or informative captions about the book’s surroundings. You can create albums on your author or book’s Facebook page, Pinterest and your website. You can also post the pictures on your book’s Amazon page (Customer Images section just below the cover image). This is a fun way to show that your book is being read by all kinds of people all over the country (or around the world).

Share with Alumni Share the fact that you have written a book with high school and college classmates. You don’t want to pressure them to buy a copy, but some will buy it out of a sense of class pride (“the author’s an old friend of mine” kind of feeling).

These are just a few of the ways you can be your own street team in marketing your book. You are literally limited only by your imagination. Hopefully this will help get your creative juices flowing. Get creative. Have fun. You CAN do this!


Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner and Senior Consultant of Freestyle Business Solutions.


7 Tips for Using Social Media to Market Your Book

Social media is about relationships, and relationships are about communication. When using social media platforms to market your book, the idea is to build the kind of lasting connection with your fans and readers that will naturally lead to them telling others about you and your book. Be the person they want to hear from – not that guy who drones on endlessly about how his amazing book will change their life forever. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Know Your Audience. The first rule of thumb in developing a social media marketing plan is identifying your target reader and where their social media hangouts are. Are they fast-paced movers and shakers, on-the-go types who are likely to prefer the short and sweet world of Twitter? Are they relational types who can be found night and day on Facebook? Are they more serious business types who frequent the water cooler at LinkedIn? Once you know who your target audience is and where they hang out, you can focus more of your time and attention in that arena.

2. Encourage Interaction. Engage your online friends and fans with relevant content that invites and encourages conversation – ask questions, seek their opinion about something or take a poll.
3. Quality Trumps Quantity. A current television commercial opens with a man sitting with a group of young children asking them the question, “Who thinks that more is better than less?” The assumption, of course, is that more is always better than less – any kid knows that. But when it comes to promoting your book on social media, more is not always better; sometimes more is just more. According to a recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet, more than four in five consumers have ended relationships with brands on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, “because of irrelevant, too frequent or boring messages.” Don’t be that guy. Posting great content less frequently gives your readers something to look forward to.
4. Embrace the Group Dynamic. In addition to posting on your own social media profiles and pages, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your topic or are welcoming of authors. Engage in existing group discussions or start your own. Post interesting content on the group pages, including the occasional link or reference to your book, website or blog. No high pressure sales here – just establish yourself as the go-to guy or gal in the area related to your book. Again, this is about building relationships.
5. Include Media. Sprinkle in occasional photos, videos and graphics to capture the attention of your friends and fans. If you create original graphics, be sure to include your website somewhere on the image itself so that if it is shared, people will know where it originated from – and perhaps visit your website to learn more about you and your book.

6. Keep it Brief. Post for the short attention span that most of us have.
7. Be Relevant. Your posts should be relevant to your readers. They don’t want to be hit every day with the social media equivalent of an infomercial pressuring them to buy your book. What they do want is interaction with someone who knows what they are talking about. Whatever your book topic is, establish yourself as an expert in that area with clear and concise content that engages your reader and they will want to hear more of what you have to say (which translates into them buying your book).

Remember – they call it social media for a reason. Relationship is the name of the game. Play to win.



Promote Your Book by Blogging

To blog or not to blog – that is the question. The answer? To blog, of course! You are a writer (or perhaps a writer in the making). Writing is what you do. Your blog is your own personal online podium. If you are serious about promoting your book, an author blog is almost a no-brainer. It is an excellent way to build an audience even before your book is published, establish yourself as an expert in your field and cross-pollinate with other bloggers as you promote each other to a wider shared audience.

You don’t necessarily need to post every day. Once or twice a week, every other week or even monthly is fine as long as you are posting relevant content and interacting with your readers when they comment on your posts. Find a schedule that fits in with your routine and stick with it. Many bloggers schedule their posts out days and weeks in advance, so they know exactly what they will post about and when. If you get hit with the writing bug and write several posts at one time, no problem. You can schedule them to post at certain dates and times in the future.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a blog to promote your book:

Use keywords. These are words and phrases that people would use to search on Google and other search engines when they want to know about something. For instance, if your book is about the Fourth of July, keywords might include things like, “patriotic,” “freedom,” “Independence Day” and such. The more relevant keywords you include in your posts, the better your search engine results.

Spell check and proofread. Or better yet, have someone do this for you. Getting another pair of eyes on your post before it goes live is generally a good idea – and it can save you the embarrassment of posting a typo or other minor goof that takes the reader’s attention away from your content.

Introduce yourself. Include an About Me page to let readers know who you are. This makes you more real and accessible to your readers.

Include media in your posts. Ours is a visual culture. Pictures and videos capture our attention much more quickly than even the most cleverly written headline. Capitalize on this by incorporating media into your blog using pictures, graphics, videos and podcasts. If you use pictures or graphics, be sure to use your own original images or get permission before using someone else’s. It’s best to not use images that unusually large, because large image files can keep your page from loading on some computers or slow down the load, causing the reader to become impatient and leave your blog. Use videos or podcasts to share book excerpts or a brief (one minute or less) introduction about you.

Invite guest bloggers. Reach out to other bloggers whose blogs are also of interest to your readers and invite them to post as a guest blogger on your blog. Be sure they include a link back to their own blog and encourage them to share a link to their guest post on their blog, which will expose their readers to your blog. Ask about guest blogging on their blogs as well, being sure to include a link to your blog. Cross-pollination benefits you both and exposes you both to a wider shared audience.

Keep it real. Relevant content is key for your blog. Talk about things your readers will find interesting and that will help to establish you as an expert. When people recognize you know what you are talking about, they will be more inclined to check out your book when presented with the opportunity.

Keep the conversation going. Allow comments on your blog posts so your readers can respond to what you have said. Be sure to check those comments and reply back in a timely fashion. Taking the time to hear what your readers have said and reply back to them goes a long way in building a lasting connection with them.

Incorporate your blog into your website. Experts recommend incorporating your blog into your website. Why? While websites are typically static with basic information and certain calls to action (buy this, sign up for that), blogs by nature are more fluid because they are updated more frequently and generate traffic with every new post. More traffic translates into boosted Google rankings. Business website with incorporated blogs generate 55% more traffic than site without a blog.

Have a call to action. Your blog should include specific calls to action throughout. These can include an email sign up list, an option to follow your blog via email or feed readers (such as Google Reader), an opportunity to follow you on social media sites and naturally, an option to purchase your book. These should reside somewhere in the sidebar of your blog. Inviting them to buy your book in the closing of every blog post will likely result in them feeling pressured and un-following you. You want to keep it in front of them but not in their face. Don’t forget to include social media share buttons on your pages and posts. This encourages readers to share your content with their friends and associates, expanding your exposure.

Use your blog to promote your pre-published book. Even while you are still in the pre-publishing phases of your book, you can begin to generate an interest in your book with your blog. If you are a fiction writer, you could tease your readers with hints about the characters they will meet in your book or the mystery or drama that will present itself. If you write non-fiction, talk about some of the issues you will address in your book and problems you will provide solutions for. If you are still in the development phase of your book project, you could even solicit questions or problems your readers might like you to consider addressing in your book. Perhaps they could win a free copy if their question is selected and used in your book.

Blogging is an essential part of your book marketing plan. Just remember – keep it simple, keep it brief and keep it relevant. Now, go forth and blog!

Book Elves to Host RISE Week Austin 2013 Session May 15th

Book Elves has joined forces with R.I.S.E. Global to host a free workshop on May 15th. Book Elves Boot Camp’s May workshop is being featured as a R.I.S.E. Week Austin 2013 session.

Thomas Umstattd, Jr. of Author Media will present 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites.

Most author websites get very little attention and generate only a handful of book sales. In this class you will learn to avoid the common author website mistakes. You will also learn the secrets that will make your site great and your book sell.

Thomas Umstattd, Jr. built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years old. He has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since. Thomas currently serves as the CEO of Castle Media Group LLC, a company that builds websites for world changers.


7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
10:00 – 11:30 AM
Posh Co-Working
3207 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 202
Austin, Texas 78705


Book Elves Boot Camp is a monthly lunch and learn workshop series for speakers, writers and those who want to be writers. Each month features a different topic presented by an industry expert. Lunch is normally included, but no lunch will be provided for the May R.I.S.E. Session.


Your Baby is Ugly!

Books Are Like Babies: They’re Ugly When They’re Born, but That Doesn’t Mean You Should Throw Them Away

As an editor, most of the authors who contact me realize their book needs work. Some of them underestimate how much, but they at least recognize that there’s editing to be done, or else they wouldn’t have called.

When a publisher calls me, it’s a different story. With publishers (by which I mean, in this context, people who help authors self-publish their books), the conversation often starts something like this: “This author brought me this book, and he thinks it just needs a proofread, but it’s really bad. And if I can tell it’s bad, and I’m not an editor …” and things go downhill from there.

Usually the publisher sends it to me, and I send back an editing sample and a bid. They pass that on to the author, who immediately balks because I’ve just levied upon him the greatest insult of all time: to suggest that his child is not perfect. Never mind that Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling, and every other author you’ve heard of have all been heavily edited before their books get to you. Surely your book doesn’t need that much work.

Here’s the thing.  Like babies, most books are ugly when they’re first born. They’ve been smooshed through a narrow canal called the author’s brain, which has screwed up most of their identifying features. Some parts are fatter than they should be. Other parts are skinnier. Others just plain look weird. And people will say that to everyone but you.

That’s a shame, because like parents, most authors are completely blind to how ugly their baby actually is. They’ve just gone through a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting experience. A massive rush of hormones has just been released and is coursing through their veins. They’re in love with what they’ve created and they always will be. And all of those things have clouded their judgment.

There’s really nothing wrong with that. In fact, you could call it an evolutionary advantage: if you throw back your book the first time someone tells you it’s ugly, your future as an author is pretty grim. That’s just natural selection. So if you really want to make it as an author, you need to realize that it’s nothing personal; everyone’s book is ugly when it’s first born, but if you give it enough love and feed it right, the features will smooth out and it’ll grow into a beautiful specimen some time down the road.

That’s why you should trust your editor. Your editor is an expert in raising books. He’ll tell you which parts to hold to your skin, how to feed it and when, and he’ll help guide you through the process. And if you follow directions, it’ll end up being a whole lot easier—and you’ll have a whole lot more success—than if you try to do it all yourself.

Just try not to be offended by what he tells you. And remember that every time you see another author’s newborn book, it’s ugly, too.


David Kassin Fried is an award-winning ghost writer and book editor. He blogs at dkfwriting.wordpress.com, and his writing-related musings can be followed on twitter @dkfwriting.

April’s Theme: Editing LIVE

Our writer empowerment theme this month is Editing & Proofreading. Knowing what editors look for and understanding why they make the changes they do is important for a well-rounded and balanced approach to your writing.

Workshop: Editing LIVE w/ David Fried
Featured this month is the workshop Book Elves Boot Camp: Editing LIVE. Book Elves partner and award-winning editor David Fried of DKF Writing will take us inside the mind of an editor when he edits your book. David will actually go through unpublished pieces of writing and edit them LIVE in this interactive workshop.

Workshop attendees are invited to submit a 300-500 word excerpt of their work. David will go through the editing process on every piece of work he receives so you can see first-hand how and why your text is edited the way it is.

David is a professional ghost writer and book editor specializing in nonfiction, memoirs, and humor. His book Ups & Downs was a 2010 IPPY Award and Foreword Book of the Year Award finalist, and in 2011 he was selected to write the fifth book in Gary Keller’s best-selling Millionaire Real Estate Series (over 1 million copies sold).

Book Elves Boot Camp: Editing LIVE is Wednesday, April 17th from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Posh Coworking in Austin. Lunch is included. Seating is limited, so early registration is recommended. Click here for details, directions and registration.

Articles & Features
Throughout the month, we will be featuring articles on editing and proofreading on the Book Elves Gazette blog, as well as sharing tips and pointers on social media. Be sure to subscribe to the Book Elves Newsletter for even more.


Book Elves Boot Camp is a monthly lunch and learn workshop series for speakers, writers and those who want to be writers. Each month features a different topic presented by an industry expert.

2013 Boot Camp Schedule