Spotlight on Writer Natasha Yim

Natasha (Carter) Yim is a busy 49-year-old wife, mother of three children (ages 12, 10 and 6), and writer. How does she do it all? “Mostly, I give up sleep,” she says.

Her sacrifice has paid off. Her book Cixi, The Dragon Empress is one of six books in Goosebottom Books’ series The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, which garnered an Independent Publisher Books Silver Award in the Multi-Cultural Nonfiction Teen-Young Adult category. The American Library Association also named the same series in its Top Ten Nonfiction Series for Youth list.

Make no mistake; this woman is a seasoned writer. She began to write for publication in the 1980s and her portfolio now includes poetry, short stories, books, plays, and nonfiction articles that range in topics from AIDS to how to eat dim sum in a Chinese restaurant.

She’s a versatile writer!

In addition to the above books, she published Otto’s Rainy Day, her first book. She also has completed Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and Sacajawea of the Shoshone (part of the The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real  Princesses series), which is for children between the ages of 9 and 13.

Goldy Luck, she says, is her “poster child” for perseverance. “It was a nine-year journey with one year of actual writing, four editors with various revisions, and several years of submitting and waiting for responses.” Now she’s waiting for the publisher to decide on an illustrator.

It’s all part of the journey, she says. “When you work with a publisher, the process can take longer, but it’s doable.” Several editors passed up her book Goldilocks and the Three Pandas (originally titled Goldilocks and the Three Chans). It wasn’t until an Asian editor saw it and loved that Natasha found a publisher for it.

Despite having an agent – Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary – and a publisher, Natasha relies on her own resources for publicity. Her publishers carry the cost of printing her bookmarks, flyers and arranging for reviews. However, Natasha manages her
Facebook pages, LinkedIn and Twitter (@natashayim) accounts, and website and blog, which she started in 2006.

She has had some success with Facebook ads by targeting Asian countries and teachers. Natasha optioned up to $35 for a Facebook ad (Facebook charges advertisers for each “click”) and over the course of one month, her number of Facebook fans soared from 10 to 280.

GoodReads is another online venue she uses. She experimented with giving away a book for free and 980 people signed up. “I only gave one book away but now 1000 people are familiar with my books.”

In the blogosphere, she’s trying out tours. Natasha debuted on a blog tour with another author last November but she decided to organize her own blog tour for the debut of her latest book this fall. So far, she plans to have between six and 10 “stops.”

It can be difficult to assess which marketing method sells the most books, she admits. She thinks she sells more books when she makes a personal connection at a reading. “People are more interested in your books when they hear you talk and can connect the name of a book to a writer,” she says.

What advice does she give her writing community? “Never give up because it is a long haul and if you want to be published by a traditional publisher, it will take a while. Know that rejection is part of that process and don’t let that derail you.”

Attend writing conferences and events where agents and publishers will be in attendance, she says. In addition, remember that sometimes it’s just “the luck of the draw.”

Just don’t give up.

About the Author: Sonoma County social media marketer, strategist and trainer, Frances Caballohas 22 years of communications experience. She helps writers, businesses and nonprofits with their social media and public relations needs. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor, board vice president and blogger for Redwood Writers, the largest branch of the California Writers Club, and the Director of the Sonoma County Book Festival. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

The Happy Hypochondriac

Kathleen Spitzer is a busy 36-year-old woman. She’s married, has two dogs, is raising children, works as an executive director of an East Coast nonprofit, and she’s a writer. Whew!

Amazingly, she doesn’t sound stressed at all by her hectic life. On the contrary, she’s undeniably happy. In fact, she calls herself the Happy Hypochondriac, which just happens to be the title of her blog and her new book.

Visit her blog and you will see a picture of a beautiful, smiling woman. Photos on the page carry captions like these: “Running the Dublin Marathon without heart failure” and “In Mexico, not drinking the water.” She describes her posts as, “The often humorous tales of a woman trying to lead a normal life while constantly worried about chronic illness.”

Is she really a hypochondriac? It doesn’t seem like it but she apparently had a difficult stretch while in college and looking back, she wishes she would’ve had a book like the one she just wrote.

She has found that people around the globe are finding comfort in her writing. “Even if they haven’t had the crazy moments, they can relate at some level.”

[Read more…]

Spotlight on Trish Collins

By Frances Caballo

Sometimes blogging can feel like a chore and other times it is a fulfilling platform to market your book, connect with your followers, and reach new readers. In the case of Trish Collins, owner of TLC Book Tours with her partner Lisa Munley, writing a book blog and reading and leaving comments on similar blogs was a hobby in July of 2007 that 13 months later turned into a
profitable company that organizes blog tours for authors.

When Trish started her blog, she was reading 75 books annually and wanted to convert a solitary passion into a social medium. In addition to the time she spent reading, Trish devoted 20 hours each week to reading and leaving comments on similar blogs. “That’s how you get known in the blogging community. The growth happens naturally but it’s a lot of work.” Over time, she attracted a robust following of 1800 subscribers.

[Read more…]

Spotlight on Sharon Hamilton

How many authors can remember with precision the first day they began to write? Sharon Hamilton does. It was December 15, 2008, the day she was trapped in a rented dorm room in Portland.

At the time, her family had traveled to Portland to attend her daughter’s graduation. When they were suddenly snowed in, Sharon pulled out a chair and started to write.

A Room of Her Own

She found a room of her own that every woman writer craves following a painful incident. Her house burned down so she moved into an 800 square-foot apartment. Isolated during the day while her husband worked on rebuilding their home, she dedicated her time to writing.

“That’s when writing hit me and it really took hold.”

Before long, she published Heavenly Lover, which she rewrote 57 times. Soon thereafter, she
published Underworld Love and later Honeymoon Bite.

By 2010, she had won several writing contests, started writing erotica, and found an agent who told her to return to her first book
and rewrite it again.

[Read more…]

Spotlight on Writer Arlene Miller

Arlene Miller, a Redwood Writers Board Vice President and author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever, uses social media to get the word out about her book and to encourage sales. I had a chance to interview her recently in hopes that she might share some of her secrets with us.

Arlene Miller

Arlene began using Facebook in 2008 simply because she wanted to keep up with her daughter who tours with Disney On Ice. After she wrote and published her book 2 years ago, she found Facebook to be an important tool in getting the word out about her grammar book. Today, she maintains both a profile (631 friends) and a fan page (249 page likes).

“Through Facebook, I got hooked up with people from elementary and high school. It all started with an invitation to a reunion and even though I didn’t attend it, former schoolmates bought multiple copies of my book,” she said.

It was through Facebook as well that Apple users found her and soon the entire group was ordering her book.

“I have a lot of Facebook friends – some I know and others I don’t know. In general, it gets the word out about what you’re
doing.”

LinkedIn is often overlooked by writers but again Arlene has had success in using this social media channel to buy her book. She joined several groups, asked members for their advice on an upcoming book she is writing, and contributed to the groups by answering questions and offering advice.

When I asked Arlene for her best tips, she offered some great advice. “The best thing is don’t try to sell; try to help people.
Don’t say I have a book to sell and you should buy it. Instead answer questions and try to help others.”

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