Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How NOT to win future book-buyers

A savvy author knows that selling a book can open doors to potential clients. What these authors put into their books can make or break their chances of not only promoting their services, but also guaranteeing more readers for future books.

In my case, however, as a reader, something happened with a recent book purchase that was a huge turn-off.

When I bought the book, I was asked for my name. Thinking nothing of it, I gave my name. Later, a friend told me in an e-mail that I was signed up for a workshop she was participating in. She saw my name on the list and asked if I was going. I told my friend I had no idea what she was talking about.

Apparently, when I bought the book, I was added to a list of people to attend a workshop conducted by the author via a video. I had no idea about any of this at the time I bought the book. Being deaf, I would not have heard it if such an announcement had been made to the group of people buying the book when the author's books were being sold at the booth. It doesn't say anything about being signed up for a workshop in the book, no bookmarkers or flyers were handed to me about this workshop, and even the ladies I bought this book from hadn't told me about this.

I asked my friend about this workshop. What it included, if childcare was provided in case I had to bring my children and what time it was at. My friend told me we'd have to watch a video and then discuss it with the group in attendance. The deal breaker, however, was the time it would be done, in the evening. It's held on a school night and right around that particular time, I'd be busy feeding my children, bathing them and getting them into bed. (My husband works at night so I'd be the only adult to care for the children on that night.) I was not willing to compromise on my oldest child's bedtime. So, that was the first reason I could not attend. The second reason is, once again, the fact that I am deaf and would very likely end up watching a video that is not closed-captioned. (These kinds of videos usually aren't!). I didn't hold out much hope anyone in the group knew sign language and could interpret for me, and it was too short notice to ask an interpreter I knew if she could accompany me for this. And, anyway, the time was just not convenient.

The big thing, though, was my irritation over being signed up for something without my knowledge. Or consent. Even if it was something I was interested in, it would have been a nice gesture if they had asked me about it first. Write things down, if necessary. A little heads-up would have been nice.

This whole thing has made me doubtful about buying future books from this author. I'm still seething over it and even have a thought of contacting the author to let her know this is NOT a good idea. Signing a buyer up for something when they buy a book and not asking them first is just thoughtless and borders on arrogance.

Authors, be kind to your readers, but also your buyers. They will appreciate you more for it.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My new poetry book!

New Poetry Book Shares the Power of Love

In a world full of disasters, danger and hopelessness, sometimes we need a little reminder of the good things that still exist. Family. Friendship. Courage. And love.

Especially love.

Love is the medicine to cure a broken heart, to make the world brand new again and to make life more meaningful than before. It is love that springs us into action, that drives us to be the best we can be and strive to make the world a better place to live.

These are the messages in a new poetry collection, Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion, by Dawn Colclasure. The poems remind us of just how much power love can have in our lives, that all is not lost, and just how strong a bond exists between two people. With poems ranging from the romantic to the fanciful, Love is Like A Rainbow will renew that enduring power of love and show just how strong and resilient it can be.

“I wanted to put together a love poems book that emphasized the positive and inspirational sides of love,” the author says. “Many of the poems were inspired by relationships, while others emphasize the strong loving bond we have with someone who has passed on or who is in need of our constant care.”

You can check out this book at the following link, where you will find an excerpt:


Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion is currently available as an E-book. Stay tuned for news of the print release!

For more information, contact the author at DMCWriter@gmail.com or visit her Web site at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/

BONUS EXCERPT FROM Love is Like a Rainbow:


One is not a lonely number.
It is to one I belong.
Only one I have yearned for
For so very, very long.

Only one I will touch
With hands that give deep love.
Only one I save myself for.
Only one I think of.

It is with only one, and not any more than one,
I want to share myself with.
To say a human cannot love only one
Is some misguided myth.

It is with only one I want to be joined.
Only one the two of us shall be.
One is never a lonely number
There is only one for me.

Poem copyright 2010 by Dawn Colclasure. Excerpted from Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion. Published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

How I survived the HARO deluge

When I was running the blog series for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided to solicit stories from breast cancer survivors via Help A Reporter Out (HARO). After my query ran, I heard from a lot of people willing to share their stories. Unfortunately, I was not able to include everybody's stories, because the folks at HARO ran my query so late in the month and I could only use up so much of the following month to continue the series. In addition to this blogging thing, I also work on various writing projects, care for my two young children and keep house. So I was able to only devote so much of the month of November to continuing the series.

Still, that very first experience taught me something: When using HARO, give an early deadline. This is especially true since you might receive e-mails from responders even after your deadline has passed, as I did. They say the later your deadline is, the less priority your query will have. So, give an earlier date than your actual one.

So, the next time I used HARO, I set an early deadline. Thankfully, it was not so much time before my query ran.

My second query for HARO was for writers to share quotes and assorted revision advice for my Revisions book. I needed freelance writers, poets, authors, novelists, songwriters and scriptwriters to share their own revision experiences and advice.

Unlike my first experience using HARO, this time was different.

This time, I received a TON of e-mails from writers, publicists and agents willing to have work included in my book. If you picture me sitting at the desk one minute then being knocked out of my chair the next after being hit by a stream of e-mails, that's pretty accurate. It got to a point where I wanted to huddle in a corner, rocking back and forth and mumbling, "THERE'S SO MANY!"

I was definitely grateful that so many people took the time to share their revision advice for my book, but I was nervous about tackling ALL of those emails. I don't have an exact count as to how many e-mails I got; I stopped counting after I got to 100. Even halfway through the month of going through them, I still had like 80-something to go!

I knew I had to be able to answer ALL of them this time. I COULD NOT lose any of the responders like I had with my last HARO experience.

But how was I going to do that?

I came up with a plan. First, I took a deep breath. One at a time, I told myself. Just answer one e-mail at a time. Don't look at ALL of those e-mails; just deal with them one at a time.

So, I started to communicate with them. The first thing I did was zero in on what the writers specialized in. Some told me "I'm a freelance writer" and others told me they were authors of nonfiction books. However, some of them did not provide too much information about the kind of writing they did, so I had to check out their blogs and Web sites to guage just what they could offer the best revision advice on.

I also had to weed out the ones who expected to be compensated for their time. I'm sorry, but I am not able to pay everyone who contributes to this book. I even said that in my HARO query: There's NO financial compensation. I just could not afford it. Some of the writers opted out when I told them I could not pay them anything, some said "okay, well at least my name and books will be credited." Yes, I DO include everybody's bios, in full detail with links, etc. It's the best I can do in lieu of payment.

After that, I organized the e-mails. Since I was losing people on other pages of my e-mail account, I had to keep everyone on the same page. I'd read any new e-mails that came in that cluttered up the e-mails I had all together from the HARO responders, as well as others that were newer than the HARO e-mails, and kept all of them front and center. I left them unread (making them in bold) until I had the chance to get to them. Since I use G-mail, I labeled ALL of those e-mails, and it was easier for me to find them when a new response came in. When I downloaded a document they sent, I labeled that, as well.

I would also suggest keeping all of the e-mails related to your project in one folder on your e-mail account.
I have yet to do this with G-mail, but I have done it with other e-mail accounts, such as Hotmail and Mail2World. This was a HUGE mistake. Those e-mail accounts expire after a SHORT period of time and because I didn't log in there as often after my books were done, I ended up losing A LOT of e-mails, submissions and valuable information from publishers after those accounts expired. Yahoo! seems to be the best e-mail provider for me, for this kind of thing. But I will try G-mail, as well, and see how that works.

Also, I put together an "all-purpose form response" e-mail message. I copied and pasted the different sections of my book into this document (for example, "the chapters for poets" and "the chapters for freelance writers," etc.) so I could copy and paste that into the e-mails for the poets, the freelance writers, the scriptwriters, etc. This was A LOT easier than just typing the same thing again and again and again.

I also put together a brief description of what my book is about, including info on the publisher and the publication date. A lot of the responders requested this information, so, here again, instead of typing then retyping and retyping that information into my responses, I would just copy and paste.

I kept on hand a sample chapter of the book, because this, too, was what many responders requested.

Now, the method of actually answering all of those e-mails...

At first, I tried to answer as many as I could every day. Unfortunately, I fell behind on other things: Articles I had due, other books to work on, etc. (As it is, I had to quit one gig because I just could not keep up with it anymore and I felt really bad I was taking so long to get my articles turned in). So, in order to manage that and everything else I had going on, I just told myself, Okay, I'll spend one hour every day answering the e-mails. Just one hour. (Some people may be able to spend more than one hour a day answering a deluge of e-mails, and that's fine, but set a time limit and stick to it in order to avoid losing yourself in that.) Believe me, this time limit did wonders. I had my sanity back and my children had their mother back. It did slow things down in the rate I was able to answer all of the e-mails, but I had to enforce this time limit in order to balance everything else. It's just the system that worked best for me.

Most important of all, though, I had to remember one thing: THERE WAS A PERSON BEHIND EVERY E-MAIL. It was not just "another e-mail to answer." These e-mails came from real, actual people.
It would not be fair to send all of them some form response or thumb my nose at everyone who decided to walk away because I couldn't pay them. I understood where they were coming from, as writers and as authors, mothers, etc., and I made sure they knew I was not out to "steal" their work, or anything. With technology, it's so easy to forget that we are talking to a REAL HUMAN BEING on the other end of the communication method, be it e-mail, chat, online relay, etc. We tend to forget there's a real person there, a person with feelings and emotions, and sometimes people act all "high and mighty" or very rudely.

This brings me to another point: Always be professional. Even if someone says something in an e-mail that sets us off, step away, take a few deep breaths, rant privately and go...break something, if you have to. Just do not try to "get back" at them in your response. Be professional at all times, even when replying to people answering your HARO query.

I assured several of the HARO responders that they'd keep the rights to anything they shared and I made sure I ran by them any edits or changes I hoped to see in what they submitted.

I ended up having conversations with several of them about things outside of the book and it was like meeting new friends. It was a wonderful experience, even though it took me over a month to sort through all of the e-mails I received. My book is better for it, though. My network of fellow writers has grown and my knowledge of other writers and their work has been expanded.

To someone considering using HARO for their projects, my best advice is to be prepared. Keep everything organized and take it just one e-mail at a time. Your writing, and your sanity, will be better off in the end if you do so.

Labels: , , , , , , ,