Category Archives: freelance writing

All aspects of magazine writing

New Year’s Resolutions

Letting Go

 

Most people think of the new year as the time for resolutions to do things differently.  They start diet plans, promise to form new and healthier habits, and generally live a more conscientious lifestyle.  I’m doing things a little differently this year. First, after 12 years I’m moving to a new apartment.  So I’m cleaning out the closets, selling or giving away tons of stuff, and re-orienting myself as well as my furniture. Since I am retired, I expect to have only a slight change in my daily routine, but I am hopeful of a fresh start with putting a little more energy into my life.

When I published my memoir last spring I was focused on looking back at my life, especially the many regrets for some of the choices that I had made. I, in a way, re-lived my life vicariously and analyzed the steps along the way.  I think that introspection served me at the time, but now it’s time to move on and focus on today and its challenges.  My primary issues at this time are health challenges as I age, and I’ve spent three years going from doctor to doctor without much success.  So I guess that I’m just going to have to learn to live with these challenges and quit wasting so much time hoping for a cure.

So much emphasis in the LGBTI world is placed on the benefits of coming out that not much is written about the need of coming inside oneself to really get to know who you are and your values rather than simply reflecting on the conditions society may have imposed upon you.  I’m no longer afraid of being discovered or what people might think, especially at church.  I have no family left, and most of my friends are gay. My straight friends don’t care so the “gay” issue and especially the drive for sex are less important than they used to be.  After 27 years, it is highly unlikely that I ever will have another partner nor even really much prospect for romance, and I have to face that fact and quit day-dreaming.  I have a stable social life with friends and a busy schedule so I have much for which to be grateful.  I’ve always been too reluctant to be thankful and more inclined to wish for things I didn’t have.  I think I’m finally more content now.

I don’t have any plans this year for writing another book or working as hard at promoting the two books I have.  That was exhausting both financially and emotionally with few results.  I probably will continue with social media because I value the opportunities to keep in contact with old friends and with the world beyond the murder and mayhem of the mass media.

I’m hoping finally to simplify my life and enjoy each day and become more mindful of my blessings.

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Filed under book self-publshing, freelance writing, Op-Ed

Raleigh LGBT Center Author’s Event

The second local authors’ reading and book signing was held at the Raleigh LGBT Center on Sunday afternoon October 13th.  I participated in the first one in August.  This event included three very different authors.  Jimmy Creech’s book “Adam’s Gift” recounts his experience as a former United Methodist Church pastor and his crusade to change the official doctrine of the church that classifies the LGBT community as second-class members who are restricted in many opportunities for membership and service and specifically prohibited from marriage in the church.  He has done many book tours all across the country and is well known for his position as a martyr because he was forced to give up his credentials after many years of service.

“AD 2040” is the work of a pen name author Grantham West, who wrote a science fiction novel speculating on the take-over of the United States by the radical right in a theocracy. The American Economy has suffered its second depression, gone through bankruptcy and the collapse of the Federal Government.  The long-neglected HIV/AIDS epidemic is ravaging the country.  The religious right fundamentalists have dictated mandatory testing and proposed a shocking solution to the problem in the police state of America.  The situation in the 2007 book seems strikingly similar to today’s headlines. The author has worked as a volunteer with the local AIDS Service Alliance.

Melody Moezzi was perhaps the most surprising selection since she is a straight Iranian-American Muslim woman who also is a lawyer. She also suffers from the BiPolar disorder, and her memoir “Haldol and  Hyacinths: a Bipolar Life” describes the many forms of discrimination she has faced. Even her personal appearance defies the passive stereotype since she looks more like a rock star than a lawyer.

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Authors, Librarian, and leader of Affirming Faith Forum at LGBT Center

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Filed under book promotion, book reviews., marketing, writers

I just finished reading two more gay books that were the antithesis of each other.  Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee is about his journey from a fundamentalist Baptist background to acceptance of himself as a gay Christian.  The other was American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Sex, Love, and Politics by Sex Advice Columnist Dan Savage who is legally married to a gay partner, has been in a relationship for 18 years, and has a 15-year-old adopted son.  He is virulently anti-religion even though he was raised in a very strict Catholic home.  I won’t give a review of these books since I have written lengthy ones on Goodreads if you’re interested.

These books (and the one that I reviewed by Jeff Chu) are mainstream books and not from the gay press. Dan Savage has written five previous books and is editor of The Stranger, Seattle’s weekly newspaper and has become something of an outspoken gay media star.  Justin is the director of the organization and the web site http://www.gaychristian.com He has a podcast and a regular weekly radio show.  In other words, they each have a strong platform even though they are directed to very different audiences, and they both went through a traditional publisher who helps in getting pre-publication reviews.

When publishers used to inquire about the platform of a prospective author, they wanted to know if he or she was a public speaker, what other books they had written, in what subjects were they considered experts, would they be willing to tour, etc.  Now it’s how many Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest followers do you have?  Are you on YouTube, and do you have a website, a blog, and a podcast?  If you are writing non-fiction, what is you niche (genre) and what is your hook?  If you’re self-published on Kindle, how many free downloads and reviews do you have?  Amazon ranks your book not only on sales but also on the number and ratings of your reviews.  Guy Kawasaki self-published his latest book, but only after he had become dissatisfied with the royalties and promotions of his traditional publisher.  He still used a traditional book publicist in addition to his website and blog, and of course he is a well-known public figure.

Book marketing and promotion is a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process.  In 2010 Jay Conrad Levinson Michael Larsen, and Rich Frishman updated the decade-old Guerilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Low-Cost, No-Cost Weapons for Selling Your Work.  This book is not focused specifically on books and includes ideas for freelance magazine writers. Media Bistro and Publisher’s Weekly are the trade publications/web sites.  The Australian writer Joanna Penn has an interesting web site and blog: www.thecreativepenn.com  You can find dozens of book marketing/publicists, tips, websites, etc.  Take a look at www.bookmarket.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under book promotion, book reviews., book self-publshing, marketing

Book Promotion

In reviewing some of my old posts, I was surprised that I had not written specifically about internet marketing strategies even though I have followed several web sites and blogs on this topic for the past three years. My focus has shifted recently from marketing strategies for freelance writers and small businesses to book promotions for authors since I have a new book.
In summary, the key seems to be getting book reviews and getting exposure through free giveaways either through Amazon or other book sellers. The premise is if you get enough people to read your book (with the incentive that they can read it for free) and you get enough good reviews, then that will start the log rolling and your standing and status will grow and thereby increase your sales.
Well, having been involved in various promotion and marketing strategies for more than 40 years, I understand there are more than one way to skin a cat. Of course, the cat now has become a virtual avatar rather than a live entity so some of the rules have changed. The primary difference now is that the techniques are cheaper, more targeted, and less focused on the mass media or direct personal contacts. The cliché of the author’s “platform” has changed from public visibility and expertise on a particular issue to simply broad exposure via as many social media outlets as possible.
You’ve got to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, have a blog and a web site; and for authors you need to be reviewed and read as widely and often as possible even if you have to give away your books to do so. The rationale is that you will build reader loyalty and thereby establish a brand. Well, that’s fine if you’re a best-selling author and you can “sell” your books, but I’m still cautious about how much you can earn if you continue to give away your products.
As a traveling book salesman for a major publisher many years ago, I used to give out “samples” of a few of our books to our existing clients simply to maintain contact. It was a conversation breaker on my personal visits and opened the door more directly than talking about the weather or personal interests. But the ratio of free vs. sold was infinitesimal. Of course, the major cost was my travel expenses that took thousands of dollars right off the top of my sales.
I’ve been absorbed the past two weeks studying a multitude of web sites and blogs offering advice and strategies for getting book reviews and other promotions, but I won’t get into cataloging those now. I’m still figuring out which ones are useful and which are simply self-promotions without any real value.
Now that I’m trying to reach readers directly rather than literary agents, editors, or publishers my strategies will need to change. The Internet makes that possible, but the clutter of dozens of promotional possibilities makes it a complex tangle to unravel. And that’s where I am at this point.
Anyone have any suggestions?

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Filed under book promotion, marketing

Special Promotions of my book

The paperback edition of Neither Here Nor There is now available on Amazon.com for $7.99 plus tax. The Kindle edition is running a special promotion on KDR select, and it is available for free from 4/2 – 4/4 —so order now.
I’m not sure that I can explain the process whereby this came about since I hired a computer Guru to do it. There are several Kindle books that provide detailed steps, but I took the short circuit and simply provided a MS Word version of my manuscript, front and back materials, and a JPG file of the cover which I also hired someone to design. I paid someone to preview the Word file for glitches before the file was converted and someone else to proofread the manuscript before I submitted it.
The entire process took only a matter of weeks versus the usual process that takes months. The paperback edition was created via CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I also am selling the paperback edition directly to local customers and will be displaying both this book and the Goodbye God book at the Triangle Area Freelance Writers’ Conference on April 20th.
I have used some of the promotion services on the web site FiveRR.com that provides services for only $5. Obviously, the services must be limited in scope, but I have found them satisfactory. Some of the providers have a sliding scale that starts at $5 and goes up with the addition of more complex services.
The experience has been much simpler and certainly less expensive than the Print-On-Demand (POD) that I did through Trafford that took several months to migrate to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even longer to migrate to the Kindle and the Nook. Unfortunately, they set the retail price, and that simply priced me out of the market. Now I can set my own price and be more competitive.
I will write later about my experience of using these services and how they worked out. Some have questioned the value of “free” promotions, and I certainly would not write for free for a client just to get a byline. We’ll see.

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Filed under gay memoir, marketing, writing, writing tools

New Book Titled Neither Here Nor There

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book.  It is a memoir titled Neither Here Nor There that is now available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.com at a discounted price for a limited time under their special promotion schedule. It is now my third book on Amazon. I have been writing, re-writing, editing, and proofreading the manuscript for a year, and I recently hired a designer for the cover, someone to check the formatting, and someone else to upload it to Amazon.com for a minimal charge.  If you are a writer interested in e-pubs, I would be happy to provide referrals.

It is a memoir of a 7-decade struggle against guilt and fear to accept myself as both gay and as a Christian. It was a long journey with numerous detours and dead-ends, but in the end I gained some insight of what it means to be fully human and willing to take risks.

From the introduction:

Everyone has a story.  Some are more interesting than others.  Some are tragic, and others seem charmed.  My story is not unique.  Many homosexuals have struggled with their identity with varying degrees of success and acceptance.  The cultural traditions and social mores of American society make that difficult, particularly when those who would use the Bible as a weapon rather than a guide weigh in.  My conflict has never been fully reconciled although I came to rid myself of my internalized homophobia and came to know a richer and deeper faith in my slow steps to become a better Christian.

Because of the American preoccupation with sex as evidenced by our advertising, our movies, and the media, gays have become fashionable with the avant garde.  But we are still harassed, ridiculed, and murdered as a detested minority.  We have come a long way in the past 50 years since I was a teenager, but we still have a long way to go.  Gay marriage is at the forefront of political debates now, but the basic civil rights of a job and housing for us are still unresolved so the priorities seem distorted to me.

Perhaps it was the result of the frustration, fear, and sometimes sense of hopelessness akin to war that caused me also to be preoccupied with sex for a big portion of my life.  Love, acceptance, social standing, and welcoming into the church seemed impossible so the answer to loneliness was desperation.  I’m not as fatalistic now even though I have grown old and alone.  I’m a survivor while many of my friends are long since gone.  I have come to accept myself the way I was born, and others have come to accept me as I am.

Spoiler:

If you’re looking for graphic sex, you will be disappointed even though I recount many of my adventures and experiences with my two partners.  I am an incurable romantic at heart, and my journey was focused on looking for “Mr. Right” with all of the naiveté that implies.  We live in a different world in America now in comparison with when I was growing up, and gays and lesbians are more accepted and acceptable and have a lot more options than I did.  In some ways this is more of a history of the LGBT movement than just a personal story, but it is one example and I tell it the way I lived it, and I don’t leave out any secrets.

 

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My new web site

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 9.03.13 AM     I haven’t posted to this blog in three months because I have been very involved in two projects and haven’t been able to make an announcement until today. Yesterday my new web site went online. It has the same URL http://www.johnsuddath.com , but it is a new design by Steve Stone with all new content. I abandoned Google’s Adwords and Analytics on the old site a couple of years ago. It didn’t seem to matter much how I changed the landing page or layout of that site. Although it increased my page rank on Google’s searches, it didn’t produce any results in getting inquiries. I finally concluded that there wasn’t an online market for a freelance writer without New York contacts or well-established clients so I have more or less left the site static the past year. I only deleted old links and added a few new sample articles.
The new design is shown in this screen above:
As you can see, the headliner photo shows my library with four sub-heads. The sub-head for Freelance and Magazine gives a brief description of my experience as a writer, editor, and reporter for a variety of magazines, but it no longer includes links to samples of my feature writing. The Blog and Social Networking sub-head makes the links to my various sites easier to find, and I’ve dropped other external links and the Google Adwords inset. The Books sub-head includes links to my three books published on Amazon. The new book will be uploaded next week, and I will describe it in another post.
This blog has changed direction, topics, and frequency as my interests have shifted. I started discussing my magazine writing and the books I read with a lot of emphasis on marketing techniques for writing because I was still trying to market myself as a feature writer both via traditional queries and online. There are lots of books and hundreds of articles on this subject, and I tried to wade through the thicket and tell what had worked and what had not for me. I also ranted a lot about the so-called Content Mills that pay little or nothing and expect their writers to be satisfied merely with a byline.
When my focus shifted from general interest to more specifically travel writing, the blog shifted also. I took a course in DC on this niche market and also published online on Shutterfly, Blurb, and Visual Travel Tours some of my photo/travel books. I really don’t get much commission from the sale of these books, and they are not widely distributed, with the exception of the Raleigh Tour Guide on Amazon’s Kindle format. I even wandered around investigating possible sale of my photos to stock photo houses, but there just is no profit margin in it. In this blog I posted some of my unpublished reports of my personal travels that I did not even try to market. They were more like travel journal entries. Since I bought a new car last fall, I’ve had to limit my travel. Increasing medical expenses and problems also have significantly impacted my travels so I haven’t been back to Europe in seven years.
The new web site puts the emphasis on the three books I’ve published on Amazon with the intent to drive potential customers to these online bookstores to purchase the books. The first book also is available on Barnes & Noble in print and on the Nook. I also have created an author’s page on Amazon with links to my books. I’m still working on the profile on the author’s page and the link to the video that I’ve done on Animoto of the photos in the new book. You can see a preview here: Animoto video teaser for photos in new book
I had http://web.com do a new design of my web site two years ago, but I didn’t change the content and it didn’t produce any results. We’ll see what this change may bring.

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Filed under freelance writing, travel