Ask a Mermaid

Ask a Mermaid: More of Courtney Milan’s Profit and Loss Secrets Revealed

Ask a MermaidjpgNormally, Ask a Mermaid is limited to one question and a handful of answers. However, when Courtney Milan agreed to answer all of our questions about determining profit and loss, how could we say no? The conversation started after this discussion on Dear Author about the hidden costs of 99-cent books. In the comments, Courtney revealed she runs a profit and loss analysis for each of her titles.

We had to find out more and Courtney agreed to come hang out in the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon and explain it all. It was all so awesome that we had to drag her back into the pond for a second day. (You can read day one here.)

How could a writer implement this in their business plan?

Here is my shocking answer: I don’t really know. I don’t have a business plan besides: “Write books, hope people buy them.” I know that it seems contradictory in comparison with the…
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Ask a Mermaid: Courtney Milan Explains Author Profit and Loss

Normally, Ask a Mermaid is limited to one question and a handful of answers. However, when Courtney Milan agreed to answer all of our questions about determining profit and loss, how could we say no? The conversation started after this discussion on Dear Author about the hidden costs of 99-cent books. In the comments, Courtney revealed she runs a profit and loss analysis for each of her titles.

We had to find out more and Courtney agreed to come hang out in the Waterworld Mermaid lagoon and explain it all.

In writer terms, can you explain a profit/loss analysis is and why authors should implement one?

A profit/loss analysis is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a document (officially, I use a spreadsheet) that forces you to figure out what you would have to spend to do a particular project, and that projects what the potential profits are. In order to do this, you need to be able to figure out what you will…
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Ask a Mermaid: What Needs To Be On My Shelf?

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Dear Mermaids,

I’m overwhelmed by the number of writing craft books out there. What are some of the must-reads that I need on my shelf?

Book Fish

We hear you Book Fish. The lagoon’s library is stuffed to the gills (pardon the pun) with craft books. Some are highlighted and have notes in the margins. Others have barely been cracked.

There are tons of craft books available, but which ones make the keeper shelf? To find out, we asked five amazing, best selling authors. Here’s what they said: 

Ask a Mermaid: The @MargieLawson Experience

Do you want to add a psychological punch to your writing and editing?

Are you interested in capturing the full range of body language on the page?

Is your goal to turn your work into a page-turner by powering up emotion and hooking the reader viscerally?

Well, duh! What writer doesn’t want to do those things? Recently, many of the mermaids left the lagoon for a writing workshop. What kind of awesomeness does it take to get us to leave the warm waters? The Margie Lawson kind.

Here are a few of the things we picked up during the Empowering Characters’ Emotions workshop presented by Margie Lawson and the Washington Romance Writers.

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Denny S. Bryce said:

“I was reminded that revising a manuscript is a different ball game (cliche) than writing one, and there is an ebb and flow (cliche) to story telling…
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Ask a Mermaid: What Do Editors & Agents Want in an Author’s Online Persona?

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Dear Mermaids,I’m an unpublished author and am overwhelmed with the blog, Twitter, Facebeook, Pinterest, website things that everyone says I need to have. What are editors, agents and publishers really looking for when they say to develop my online persona?

Thanks for the help, Treading Water

Great question Treading! Our short answer would be an engaging persona that fits with the type of books you write but doesn’t talk only about the books you write. 🙂 For a more complete answer to your question we pulled agent Sara Megibow with the Nelson Agency and designer Tara Green, the creative director for Eye on Romance, into the lagoon for a little chat. 

Ask a Mermaid: Best Advice From the Lagoon

We’ve had many a successful author, agent and publisher come dip that toes in the lagoon. So, for today’s Ask a Mermaid, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of share some of our favorite advice from some of our favorite authors.

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Darynda Jones

How do you balance your web presence (blogging, web site, interview) with your writing?

Badly. It’s really hard to come up with that balance and it’s a constant challenge for me. I will often spend more time on writing-related content than actual writing, and that is not how it should be. I’m considering therapy.

Hank Edwards

Writing sex scenes – agony or ecstasy? Just like having sex, I need to be…
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Ask a Mermaid: I Hate My Heroine, Can This WIP Be Saved?

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Dear Mermaids,

A horrible thing has happened. I’m halfway through my WIP and I’ve started to hate my heroine. Well, hate may be too strong a word but she sure does annoy me. Can this WIP be saved?

 Sinking in the Deep End

 

Dear Sinking,

First, congratulations on hating your heroine.  No, seriously, I promise I’m not being facetious.  The fact that you are identifying a problem halfway through your WIP is a great tribute to your writing sensory skills.  I don’t know if this is your first manuscript or you have others in your back pocket, but in my case, I finished the entire WIP and sent out submissions before I realized the heroine sucked.  And it’s a lot more difficult to fix a whole manuscript that to go back on something that is not yet finished.

My advice would…
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Ask a Mermaid: How to Get Your Book Reviewed

 

Dear Mermaids,

Sure, I’ve written a novel, but now I’m stuck trying to figure out how to write a review request that will stand out without crossing the line into being obnoxious. Help, what do I do?

Splashily Yours,

Starfish Magee

Great question, Starfish! Reviews can be one of the more powerful way to get your book noticed. To find out the way to make it happen, we went swimming with Joyce Lamb from USA Today’s Happy Ever After, Carole from The Romance Reviews and Talina Perkins, who reviews for Night Owl Reviews and her own blog, Bookin It Reviews.

It only took a couple of Waterworld Mermaid mojitos before this trio spilled the beans.

 

 

Joyce:

That is a very good question, because SO many romance…
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Ask a Mermaid: Book Promotion Hints, Tips and Never Dos

Dear Mermaids,

Y’all are great book promoters. Do you have any help hints on book promotion for a newbie?

Thank you,

A Tadpole

It’s true, book promotion is a necessary part of being a writer. That’s why we Waterworld Mermaids are excited to have publicity maven  Joan Schulhafer,  who owns Joan Schulhafer Publishing and Media Consulting, in the lagoon today. We cornered her by the waterfall to get the goods on book promotion.

Take it away Joan!

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Everyone seems to have their favorite promotion ideas, some that they’ve developed over time, but trying to plan promotion for a first, second or even third book can seem daunting, especially as nothing comes with guaranteed results.

First things first though— Set up a website. It can be very simple, but you need a destination for readers to get information on you and your books. A DIY site without fancy bells and whistles will do just fine.

Write a press release (with all pertinent publication info, such as pricing, format, ISBNs,…
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