Tag Archives: starr bryson

Growing a Garden for Your Novel | Guest Post

If you’ve been here for a while, then you’ve met Starr Bryson, head insomniac in charge at The Insomniacs Dream, freelance writer extraordinaire and my bloggy best friend. Today she’s going to tell you about a workshop she attended about self-publishing, the new project that she needs YOUR help to launch and there’s a video where I interview her at the bottom. But why am I telling you? Let’s get into it.



Long ago I had decided that if I ever (finally) finish one of the one hundred or so half-written manuscripts lying around my house I would self-publish.  Perhaps because I have no love lost for literary agents, or perhaps because I fear being lost in a slush pile, but most likely because I have an irrational fear of rejection.  I can handle critiques and an editor ripping my stories to shreds, but what I can not handle is a firm no.  Even if an editor tears my story apart, there’s still a chance that it could be re-written into something wonderful.

It is easier now than ever before to venture into the world of being an author, anyone can write a thing and self-publish, and that, to me, is a beautiful thing.  No longer does some nameless editor get to sit at a desk of judgment as the end all decision maker, choosing which books are released and those that are not.  We now have publishing freedom.  This can be can certainly be a draw back though, as more and more books are being self-published and it’s a competitive world out there, with thousands of books all vying for attention.

Because I promote indie authors, and I plan to self-publish myself, I am always looking for workshops and seminars on the topic.  Thankfully, Pittsburgh is literally teeming with writers and indie authors, and I have the privilege of being a member of several writing groups with access to many workshops.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to ride along with a friend and attend a class on self-publishing, taught by the successful local author, Kathie Shoop.   Kathie is a best- selling author and has made quite the career for herself, and she has never been published the “traditional route”.  You can read more about her and check out her books on her website.

In her workshop, Kathie focused on the steps a writer would need to take to not only finish a novel and self-publish, but how to promote the book and continue to be successful after the initial launch. She focused on what she referred to as “evergreening” – a process that most bloggers are already familiar with.  Kathie says to think of your book as an oak tree.  In order for you to be successful as an author, you must plant a garden around the tree.  Your tree needs a lush and full garden around it so that it can flourish.

Kathie shared a checklist of things that a writer needs to do to get their book the best advertising and exposure.  While all of the things work together to help promote and boost sales, Kathie admits that she can’t tell you which of these things works better than others.  In fact, she told us she is only sure that any of it works if you do all of it.

Here is the list of things Kathie recommends you do to promote your book.  Again, don’t pick and choose, it’s important to do all of these things.

  • Online advertising
  • Blog Tours
  • Social Media
  • Local Press
  • Local Signings
  • Press Releases
  • Enter book award contests
  • Magazine ads
  • Book clubs
  • Libraries
  • Public speaking at workshops and seminars

I did learn some things from Kathie about the traditional publishing route that were pretty shocking, which only served to cement my decision to never go down that road.  If a publishing house picks up your book they, obviously, own the rights to it but it’s years and years before the rights are reverted back to you, the author.  And, you have only a few months on the shelf to prove that your book is going to sell, if you don’t hit whatever lofty goal they set, they will pull your book off the shelf and stop printing it.  So let’s say your book doesn’t do too well in the first two months, not only does it get pulled by the publisher who stops printing it, you can not sell the book yourself or try the self-publishing route because they still own the rights.  So you wait years to own your own work again while it’s sitting in their publishing house collecting dust.  In most cases, this carries over to e-books and audio books, too.

Generally, you’re expected to do all of the marketing and promotion for your book, as well. If you’re going to do all the work anyways, you’re better off self-publishing and retaining the rights to your work.

What are you waiting for?  Go write your book and grow that garden around your tree.

Campaign LogoI’m currently running a crowdfunding to raise funds to launch Starry Knight Word Slayers, a new business that focuses on providing affordable book promotion for indie authors.  Stop by, read our story, donate if you can, and share with your friends.

PenPaperPad note: Check out the interview we did together where Starr tells you more about her passion to help other authors achieve their dreams.

Starr works from her home in Pittsburgh as a freelance writer.  Her professional work includes editing, Social Media marketing and management, ghost writing, content management and SEO for websites, entertainment journalism, and book promotion for self-published authors.  In the past, she has taught classes at writers’ conferences in Pittsburgh about freelancing as a career and the best practices for blogging and social media.

http://penpaperpad.comStarr’s creative writing ranges from humor laced snarkfests, gritty and painfully raw non-fiction all the way to the dark world of Erotica. The author behind The Insomniac’s Dream, she claims blogging was only the beginning of an amazing freelancing career.

In her spare time, Starr writes fiction and is working on a paranormal novel and companion serial.  In addition, she writes short stories and manages a local writing group.  When she’s not writing, Starr is kept busy by her two hilarious and fantastically disgusting boys.

 Starr enjoys adult grape juice, reading in her non-existent spare time, the occasional Netflix binge, and connecting with other writers and her readers.  She loves Halloween, Zombies, and all things horror. She aspires to be a Vampire someday. 

Her claim to fame is her caustic wit, copious swears, and an ongoing battle with insomnia.  You can catch up with Starr on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can see what Starr has published by visiting her Amazon Author Page.

Important links for her campaign:

Indiegogo Campaign :  http://igg.me/at/starryknight

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WordSlayers

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/starryknightwordslayers

Website:  http://starryknightwordslayers.com


Filed under Guest Posts

#writestuff Google Hangout Q&A

Hey everyone! Tonight we had the #writestuff GoogleHangout. Every couple of months or so, to shake things up, we do a Google Hangout. Not everyone has to participate of course. Plenty of writers do not want to be on video, and I understand completely. Making YouTube videos on a regular basis has cured that phobia for me. (Now the rest of them…work in progress.)

If you’re interested in joining the chat next time, please join the G+ group here. That’s where I will pin a thread to the top asking for volunteers. I ask that anyone who’s coming to show up about 15 mins early or so. That’s to try to clear up any technical issues that inevitably happen and to chat some before the broadcast. If you don’t want to be on camera, but you’d like to watch it live, we tweet the link out once the broadcast is live. The regular #writestuff TweetChat happens simultaneously (#writestuff) so if you have any questions, you can tweet them at us with the hashtag #writestuff.

Tonight we talked about Camp NaNoWriMo, outlining, particular points in writing that are problematic for us and much more! Check it out and thanks for watching.

Just as a reminder, I’m having a GoodReads giveaway each week of April for my poetry collection. The link is over there in the sidebar. Enter to win if you want. No pressure. 

Here’s the hangout in it’s entirety. Enjoy!

Aloha y’all! 

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Filed under writestuff

Book Chat with PenPaperPad- A Starr is Born



The once a month (or twice, depending on what YOU guys want) book chat series where I talk to some of my favorite authors about their love of books and the written word is back! This week’s guest is Starr Bryson from The Insomniac’s Dream. I feel like I should have a separate I *heart* Starr set list. She’s my bloggy bestie and she’s been involved in all kinds of shenanigans with me. So of course, she’d be one of the first people up to bat. We sipped a little cheap red wine and talked about Stephen King, vampires, being hipster readers and a bit on erotica. You never know what we’ll say when we’re together. So give it a go.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like me to chat with in the future? Do some name dropping in the comments and I’ll do my best to get that person on board. I’m having a lot of fun with this and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Oh, FYI, we talk a lot. I mean a WHOLE lot. So I edited this down from 30 minutes to 18. I think we had some interesting things to say. We recorded it as a Google+ Hangout. Until I get a hang of doing all of this, I don’t want it host a live stream- yet. Maybe one day we’ll do that, but not today. So what do you think of this format? It looks a bit more polished, are you for that or against it? Let me know in the comments.

I hope you enjoy this book chat. It was a lot of fun to make. Feel free to share this on your social media sites. If you tag me, I’ll make sure to say thank you. I really appreciate when you guys enjoy my work and want other people see it. It warms my heart’s cockles.

Without further ado:

Aloha y’all! 


Filed under Book Chat