Posts Tagged ‘books’

Author Roy “Griff” Griffis on Your Book Your Brand Your Business

Please tune in at 5 PM Eastern on May 14 when I welcome the accomplished author Roy “Griff” Griffis to the show. In his own words:

I was born in Texas City, TX, the son of a career Air Force meteorologist. Attended a variety of schools at all of the hot spots of the nation, such as Abilene, Texas and Bellevue, Nebraska.

When I was ten, I was sent to my grandparent’s house in Tucson, Arizona because things were tough at home. I was pretty damn lost, as my grandparents were largely strangers to me. My older brother, a more taciturn type, refused to discuss what was going on. Fortunately, like so many kids before me, I was rescued by literature. Or, at least, by fiction. In a tiny used bookstore that was just one block up from a dirt road, I discovered that some good soul had unloaded his entire collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series in Ballantine Paperback. Because my father had already taught me the guy who created “Tarzan” was the self-same ERB, I spent my RC Cola money on the first book of the series, “A Princess of Mars.”

I think what struck me was how these books were possessed of magic: they were able to transport me far from this dusty land of relatives who I didn’t know and other relatives pretended not to know me to another dusty land of adventure, heroism, nobility, and even love. It was the first magic I’d encountered that wasn’t a patent fraud, and when I closed the stiff paperback with the lurid colors on the cover, I decided it was the kind of magic I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to mastering. And, thus, I was saved.

Since then, I’ve never looked back. I’ve written poems, short stories (twice runner-up in the Playboy college fiction contest), plays (winning some regional awards back East and a collegiate Historical Playwriting Award), screenplays, and novels. I’m a member of the WGAw, with one unproduced screenplay sold to Fox Television. I also had a moment or two of internet notoriety as co-creator of the web-comic “Truesbury.” Right before Trump’s election, I somehow was selected as a “Conservative Novelist” to be interviewed by a Swiss newspaper, which was pretty funny by itself since they found me by doing an internet search for Conservative Novelists and for some reason, I was about number three on the list. “We had a hard time finding conservative novelists.” No shit, I thought.

Along the way, I’ve done the usual starving artist jobs. Been a janitor, a waiter, a clerk in a bookstore. I was also the 61st Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard (all that Tarzan reading wasn’t wasted). I’m also not a bad cook, come to think of it.

Currently, I’m a husband, father, and cat-owner. I’m an avid bicyclist and former EMT. I live in a small town in Texas with my lovely wife (a college professor) where we are renovating a 130 year-old historic home for us, three rescue dogs, and two rescue cats. My friends call me “Griff,” my parents call me “Roy,”and my college-age son calls me “Dadman.” It’s a good life.

During the live interview, Griff and I  welcome your questions from the chat room.

Understanding the Independent Publishing Process

When I wrote and published my first book in 2008, I didn’t know what I didn’t know in terms of the mechanics of independent publishing. Yes, I knew how to write (though the evolution of my novel is a blog post unto itself) via my professional writing and editing experience, and I understood enough about the process to seek out a professional editor. Beyond that, however, the process of transforming my manuscript into a marketable offering on Amazon.com (and everywhere books are sold online) was a daunting task.

Oh my God, where can I find a talented book cover designer I can trust?

Hold on, I need to format my book…and not just for paperback, but for something called Kindle? 

Fast-forward to the present. I’m blessed to own a business that includes being an independent publishing consultant and offering all-inclusive packages designed to make the process of writing and publishing a book simple, efficient, and fun. I contract with interesting clients and a team of creative professionals who provide the services that are beyond my zone of genius — like cover design and formatting — and factored into the cost. The result is personalized service with everything you need to produce a quality book.

An example of professional Kindle formatting.

Are you ready to publish your book? Here are my six simple steps to independent publishing:

  1. Select a Publishing Package– Whatever your goal, I offer a package that meets your needs.
  2. Choose Your Publication Date – I require approval on the FINAL edits a minimum of two months prior.
  3. Commit to Your Project – My collaborative editing process requires a time commitment from both of us.
  4. Approve Final Edits – After a few rounds of editing, you, the author, must approve the final edits before the manuscript moves into formatting.
  5. Approve Formatting – Once you approve the final edits, your manuscript moves into the formatting stage. What is formatting? It pertains the interior style of the book including fonts, headers, chapter templates, and justification. When your manuscript makes it to the formatting part of the process, you can no longer add or remove paragraphs, rewrite sentences, delete content or add new content. When is the time to do that? At any point within Step 4. By the time you approve final edits, you’ve reviewed your document repeatedly. Take as long as you need before signing off because we will not make any further editing changes after it moves into formatting.
  6. Approve Proof Copy – Before your book goes live online, you must approve either a digital version or a paperback proof. If you’re a new author, I recommend the latter.

Aside from editing, formatting, and cover design, my publishing packages include an ISBN (International Book Standard Number) assignment, a keyword-rich back cover description, set-up on Amazon, and a free paperback proof copy, among other services. You retain 100% ownership and all rights to your book. For the full list, click here.

As your independent publishing consultant, I am just as vested as you in the outcome. Producing good books with original, compelling covers and stylish, readable formatting is my top priority. Making you look good is my goal. If you have any questions or would like to schedule your no-obligation coaching call to discuss your project, contact me.

And be sure to tune in every Monday at 5 PM Eastern for Your Book Your Brand Your Business.

How to Write a Quality Book Review

Since authors spend a great deal of time and effort — along with money — to write and publish their books, learning how to write a quality book review is one of the best ways for readers to express their appreciation and offer constructive feedback. Please note, I called it constructive feedback — not criticism for criticism’s sake. For potential new readers, a thoughtful review can make the difference between buying a book or clicking on the next title in their search for reading material worthy of an hour or more of their time.

What elements comprise a quality book review?

First, let’s define a bad book review. No, I’m not referring to legitimate criticism of characters, plot, pacing, writing, or any other vital aspect of a compelling story. I’m talking about generic reviews like, “I loved the book!” or “Wow, this is excellent!” or “This book is a must-read!” that omit any substantive descriptions as to why the reviewer feels that way. Conversely, the same principle applies to pithy one-or-two sentence reviews like, “Awful book!” “I can’t believe anyone would write this drivel!” or “Don’t waste your time reading.” Well, give a specific reason (or two, or three) as to why no one should bother with that particular book or you run the risk of looking like a troll who’s just shooting someone down for fun.

It doesn’t matter if it’s high praise or caustic criticism, the reviewer does the author (and his or her potential readers) a disservice by omitting specifics. Whether you love or hate a book (or fall somewhere in-between), here are some guidelines on how to write an effective, useful review for both authors and readers.

  1. Demonstrate You Have Actually Read the Book– sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m not advocating that reviewers should give away spoilers. However, it is possible to mention a few specifics about what you liked about the main character, themes, narration, dialogue, etc. What did you like or dislike about the protagonist or supporting characters? Why did the plot draw you in? Was the book thought-provoking? Edgy? Enlightening? Why?  Even if you select just one aspect and explain why it had an impact on you, for better or for worse, it will demonstrate your knowledge of the book.
  2. Offer a Balanced Perspective– as I mentioned, a great deal of time and energy goes into the production of a book. Whether you rate it 5-stars or 3-stars (more on that in point #4), identify what the author does well and the areas in which he or she could improve. Is the dialogue stilted but the prose captivating? Say so. Is the pacing too slow? Too fast? Explain why and give an example. Is a character well defined or one-dimensional? Offer a specific example that supports your opinion.
  3. Limit Your Review to One-to-Three Paragraphs– for maximum impact, keep it pithy. Select a few qualities about the book that stood out to you, whether it involves a secondary character, a particular scene, or the overarching themes. Again, you don’t want to give away spoilers; you want to focus on your most indelible impressions of the book. No one wants to read a lengthy, rambling review, and from a copywriting/marketing perspective, such reviews do more harm that good. The objective is to provide constructive criticism and/or genuine praise to better inform the author and prospective readers.
  4. Give the Author at Least 3 Stars– here I am taking my cue from author Daniella Bova, who states at her blog DaniellaBova.com, “Authors put their heart and soul into their writing, so I will never give any book less than 3 stars. I just won’t review it at all.” Words to live by. If you really hate a book for whatever reason (poorly written, plot holes, undeveloped characters, etc.), it’s best to heed our mothers’ advice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Instead, contact the author privately (if they’ve made their email public or have a public Facebook page where you can message them) and share your thoughts. By doing so, you’ll help them improve their writing skills while saving them the embarrassment of a 1-or 2-star public review. Do unto others, as you’d have done to you, after all.

Here’s an example of a thorough book review:

Water Signs was one of those rare books that I had to force myself to put down because it was such an engaging, refreshing read. I enjoyed the fact that the story was set around the Jersey shore, as I am a Jersey girl myself. But what truly kept me reading was that Daria put so much life into her characters! Their personalities, their personal convictions, and their sense of family were so palpable that every time I read a page, it was like coming home to friends. The story kept me hooked all the way through, allowing me to experience Ken and Maddy’s life journeys along with them right on to the very end. If you are searching for a truly good book that will leave you satisfied, Water Signs is definitely worth every penny!

Full Disclosure: I am the author of Water Signs and host of Your Book Your Brand Your Business. The book review above is one of my favorites for the reasons I described in this post. Happy reading…and don’t forget to write a quality book review for the author!