Don’t Be Nervous! Tips for your First Live Interview

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most writers I have met have had one trait similar to me: we prefer to be by ourselves within our own thoughts, rather than surrounded by people. It is not because we don’t enjoy people, on the contrary, by watching and listening to people we get inspired. It is because to us the best way to communicate is through writing. It was no surprise then that when I got my first radio booking, instead of feeling excited, I felt scared and lost.  I actually experienced some mild panic attacks when I would think about it. I could not get myself to actually come up with a Q & A to guide the host and myself because I would get ulcer-type pains in my stomach. It was horrible, and I was a mess right up to the day of my interview.  It was bad, not just because I was a mess, but because I was such a mess even though I had actually participated in interview training classes with the best publicist agency at the time. Through the years however, I did find a way to conquer my stage fright and deliver all I wanted to make sure was said in the interview. Here are some tips:

·         Take the time to prepare a note card with all the book information, events and any other important promotional messages that need to be mentioned. Make sure these are also communicated to the show host via email with a sufficient amount of time, along with the topics of conversations you can cover in the interview.

·         Be creative and come up with sound bites that you can use when talking about your book or main topic. Sound bites will resonate within the audience’s minds long after the interview is over.

·         Have some herbal tea and relax an hour before the interview to put your ideas together, especially if you are new at it. With practice you will find you don’t need this hour to get yourself in the interviewing mood, but it always helps to center yourself before starting the interview.

·         Finally, be yourself. A different personality is not needed! Being who you are and being genuine allows the audience to relate to you, and they will want to look up your website, and maybe even buy your book.

Interviews are my favorite thing nowadays; I hope they become yours too! For more information on Reader Views Podcast service visit us at:

Book Contests, Literary Awards and New Authors

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

The best way for new authors to get credibility is to get some kind of placement for their books on literary awards and book contests. But they might find it overwhelming to pick the right one for their titles as they try to manage the type of book, budget allowance, and the parade of different contest currently available. Below are a few tips and points to consider when navigating the world of literary awards programs.

·         National:  National contests are hard, but the greater the competition, the more important the award. So if your budget allows it, don’t be intimidated, give it a try! Yet, do not disregard the smaller contests. Actually the more the merrier, as they all help to put your book out there, and the more you enter the more opportunity for placement.

·         Regional:  Local contests have greater chance for placement and some have funding so entry fees are minimal.

·         Independent:  For self-published authors, these contests are great, as being an Independent becomes a requirement and not a handicap. IPPY (Independent Publishers Association Awards), Reader Favorites, Feather Quill, and our own Reader Views Literary Awards, among many others are a great place to start for getting recognition.

Some awards are so well known by readers and the industry in general that placing in them will most likely increase book sales. However, other contests receive little attention. Some of them are free, and again other ones require a fee (sometimes a high one). Yet, placing in any of them will always provide the book credibility on a higher level than the usual book review. This fact always makes entering awards programs worth it. Entry Fees:  When there is no entry fee, you have nothing to lose in terms of budget, so by all means enter the contest! If there is an entry fee (in most cases there is to cover the cost of processing and judges time) so make sure you build the cost into your budget. The important thing is to make the most of the judges’ critiques and keep trying when not winning, and make the most of the placement when winning through publicizing the achievement.

For more information on how we help authors visit us at To check out our Awards submission Guidelines visit


Shy Authors

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Many authors want to write their books, but they don’t want to market them. However marketing efforts are needed to let readers know about the book, and even a shy author is always the best salesperson for their books. Meeting the public can be terrifying for shy authors but it doesn’t have to be as frightening as many authors think. Here are some tips to make it easier.

1.       Visualize the Event Before Going

Not knowing what to expect always heightens one’s fears. This is why visualizing before the fact can be so helpful. So many authors are nervous about their first book signing that they forget to enjoy themselves. Make sure you are prepared to go early to be sure not to add extra anxiety. Once there,  spend five or ten minutes sitting quietly and envisioning everything going smoothly from arriving early, to talking to readers and selling books.

2.       Get to know the Staff

Getting there early also gives you the opportunity to befriend the staff. This contact is extremely important. If you make a good impression, the bookstore employees or conference planners are just as likely to say good things about you to your potential readers. Being friendly with them will also make them more likely to lead customers over to where you are signing books and to recommend your books to customers in the days and weeks following the event.

3.       Get to know the Audience Individually Beforehand

If you are speaking in public, it’s a good idea to engage the audience members individually so you have friends listening to you instead of strangers. Stand by the door and shake hands or walk among the audience, introducing yourself to people and getting to know a little about them. Ask them why they came and what they would like you to talk about. Even if they are shy, they will remember you and like you.

4.       Don’t Create an Invisible Line

Some authors sabotage themselves when speaking to their public. While you may not be shy, something as simple as introducing yourself as “Mr. Richardson” or “Ms. Lovelace” is going to turn customers off more quickly than if you say you are “Fred” or “Ellen.” Readers want to be treated like friends, and formal names create a distance. Body language, looking bored, or ignoring customers by not saying hello will also build invisible lines which make customers feel you don’t really want to talk to them. So be yourself, and be and friendly!

Sometimes, our own fears get in the way. The only thing we can do is convince ourselves that what we are about to do is no big deal, in order to get us through it. By being yourself, and friendly we automatically crumble the wall we thought needed to be climbed! For more information on how we help authors, visit

Writing and Language Barriers

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

We all know how the Internet transformed the publishing Industry by opening the doors to Indies. This fact has given readers the power of choice by providing all kinds of stories that would have not been published before. Just this accomplishment alone is amazing, but there is another accomplishment that is not that obvious. The self-publishing Industry has also given hope to those people in the US from different backgrounds to find their voice and share their stories. America is a stew of cultures and stories, and up until now, many of these life lesson stories would be lost because of the language barrier.

As an Immigrant with a story to share I struggled with the idea of writing it in my native language and then having it translated; but somehow I was not convinced that a translation would do my voice justice. So for me publishing didn’t become an option until I found the strength to sign up for a creative writing class, and the instructor opened my eyes.  She said, “Do not think your accent is your handicap, it is actually your asset.”  After 20 years of writing and publishing in English, even though English is my third language, I am proof that she was right.

The problem when we live in a different country is that we see our roots as a handicap, and in many aspects it is. However, when it comes to sharing a story, your accent and roots become your biggest asset. Make no mistake, writing is a craft and as such grammar, spelling, and structure are important. But your voice is unique, and this is where you must embrace your accent, and leave it to the editors to edit the grammar, structure and spelling where pertinent.

It does sound easier than what it is, I know. We criticize what we are writing even before the words hit the paper. The critic within must be shut down, until the whole story is on paper. After the story is down in your accented version of English, then the re-writing can begin. 

Here are some tips on how to tear down the language barrier and write your story in English.

·         The first thing to do is to turn off the critic within. You can begin by writing short pieces in English as an exercise. Try thinking in English by imagining you are speaking to someone. Just write it down as it comes in your brain. Read it and try to correct as much as you can. Then try again. Repeat this until you feel comfortable with listening to your English persona.

·         Find a writing group around your area and a creative writing class. Listen to other people’s critiques and take their observations in a constructive way. Clarify with them that English is not your first language and you wish them to focus their critique on the story, message, characters, description, and all other aspects of writing style and not to worry about grammar, as it will be edited by a professional editor.

·         Once you have played enough with short stories, start writing your project. Put the entire story on paper, before you begin the critiquing and re-writing.

·         Make room in your budget for an editor. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, if it is poorly edited you won’t get good reviews. This fact is true whether you are a native English speaker or not.

Be proud of what you are doing. It takes guts, determination and persistence to crumble a language barrier. When in doubt remember that “your accent is your asset.” For more information on how we help authors visit

Avoiding Mixed Messages When Marketing Your Book

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Mixed messages about the book in the marketing pieces can sabotage sales by confusing readers and clouding what the book is about. This is why it is imperative that everything used to market a book sends a clear message of what the book is about. Following are a few examples of marketing mistakes and ways an author can make their book’s message clear.

·         Biggest Marketing Tool - The front cover of your book is your biggest marketing tool. No one is going to read the back cover, or anything else you write about your book, unless the front cover hooks them. With one image, the cover has to reflect what the book is about, and show that the book’s subject is interesting. Mixed messages from book covers can badly hurt book sales. For example, if your book is about overcoming fear, a photo of something scary is not enough, as the book is not about the fear, but of conquering it.

·         Second Biggest Marketing Tool is the Back Cover - Once the front cover hooks the reader, the back cover has to convince the person to buy the book. It must also deliver the book’s message in a short sentence or better yet a sound bite. Author biographies and book endorsements can help, but the back cover should not be limited to these because they don’t tell you what the book is about. An effective back cover will have at least one paragraph making the book’s subject clear, or in the case of fiction, what the book’s plot is, to avoid any confusion. A reader who buys a book thinking it is about something different will backfire into a bad review.

·         Author Photo - The author needs to tell a professional photographer what his book is about and that he wants that message conveyed in his photo in order to create the right image to complement the marketing story. That doesn’t mean you need a gimmick in your photo. It may just be a straight headshot, but the pose should have dignity if you want your book taken seriously, or you should be smiling or even laughing if your book is humorous. Why would a writer of murder mysteries want a cat in her photo? The book isn’t about cats, so this type of picture could convey mixed messages.

·         Websites - People do not read websites. They browse them, meaning authors only have a few seconds to let people know what their site is about and why they should look at it in more detail. If your message isn’t clear from the start, visitors won’t stay. The book cover or covers with a clear message about what they are about should be on the home page with visible links to the other pages and a clear call to action to the reader on how to purchase that message in the form of your book.

·         Other Marketing Pieces - Anything that the author will give away as marketing to potential readers needs to have a clear message about their book. If you’re a dog groomer, and also an author, a business card with dog grooming information on it is not going to work. You need separate business cards to promote you as a romance author. Whenever possible, put the book cover on the business card to present a clear message that you are an author and this is your book.

·         Promoting Your Book in Public - When promoting a book in public, mixed messages must also be avoided. A suit probably won’t sell a cookbook, but a chef’s outfit might help. When giving interviews present a clear message by steering the interviewer in the right direction and having a few sound bites ready. The book’s message needs to be determined early on (early on means before writing the book or at least when writing it), to be able to figure out ways to convey that message with images, in a few words, in a sentence, and in a paragraph. Make sure the message is clear each time you present it to people, whether online, on paper, or in person. For more information on how we help authors visit

Categorizing Your Title in Literary Award Contests

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Summer marks the midway point in our annual literary awards contest, and it is around this time each year I like to share some wisdom with our authors  as it relates to entering contests.

•        Each literary awards contest has different guidelines, categories, and submission requirements. So when submitting to various contests, it is always a good idea to keep a log that not only keeps track of when you sent each one but also shows the guidelines, fees, categories you submitted to…etc. Doing this will help to keep track of the current submissions, and it will also create a chart with information about each contest, which will be helpful for upcoming books.

·         Authors are right to assume that the genre of their title should be the main category to enter in the contest. Does this mean that it must be the only one? The answer is no. A literary novel, for example, could also be historical fiction, mystery, thriller, or all of the above! Consider submitting the title in a few categories, or even submitting the title in different categories for different contests to improve the chances of scoring an award!

·         Choosing which category to enter in an awards contest is important mostly because the category selected will determine the judge who will read the book. If the author chooses to enter their Christian fiction title in the general fiction category, it will be reviewed by a judge who prefers to read general fiction. A better fit for the title would be the judge that reads Christian fiction titles. It is essential to choose the category that is the best fit for the book’s topic.

·         As some categories are more generalized, they will have more submissions than the more specific ones. In other words, the fewer the number of titles in a category, and the number of categories entered improves the chances of being picked as finalist or winner.

In the end, all authors want their title to win. When shooting to win, competitors need to make sure they give their submission the best possible chance. In my opinion, the key is to categorize the book correctly and even submitting in different categories applicable to the book’s topic. Keeping all this straight and organized will also help when strategizing submissions and make the process easier for your next title. For more information about the Reader Views Literary Awards, click here

Showing vs. Telling

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

When I lived in Venezuela and later in Italy, I taught English as a second language, first to High School students, then later to professionals. But I didn't continue teaching when I moved to the US as the opportunities presented to me were in a different direction. 

A few months ago a friend asked me to teach creative writing and composition to her teen-age daughter. It wasn't until our first class was over that I realized how much I enjoyed teaching. I currently have two students, and might take a third one time permitting, as I think I am actually learning more about writing as I teach than I have in any workshop or published work I have ever done. It just shows you how sharing and giving can turn into receiving. In my last class I was practicing writing fiction in the third person point of view, and using dialog as a way to show and not tell to move the story forward.

What I learned:

·         When writing, we all think we are showing the reader, however when we are reading, we realize we were actually telling.  I was trying to give my student an example of showing - I wrote something quickly out of the top of my head. My student, being the sharp young man he is, looked at me and said “How is this different than mine?” I was shocked by his question but once I read what I had written I realized that he was right; there was no difference.”

·         Usually, showing instead of telling does not come natural, no matter how much experience you have as a writer. This proved to me that to show instead of tell, we have to hear, whether out loud or within our mind, what we are writing. You can do this by focusing and listening to what you are writing as you write, which is what I usually do when working on my book projects; or you can just read back what you wrote and change it as you go.

·         Learning how to show more and tell less doesn't have to be that complicated.  I just try to visualize what I want to say in my mind and then focus to generate it in writing in a way that would touch me if I was the reader. Here is an example of telling and showing as I share with you all a Susan moment I had last week:

Telling: I tried to take the avocado’s pit out with a knife but instead I pierced my left hand’s palm. I started screaming as the tears ran through my face, grabbed paper towels and held it tight to stop the bleeding. Somehow, I reached my phone and called my husband, sobbing and trying to endure the pain.

Showing: I was making an avocado salad for lunch and for some reason I decided to imitate Chef Bobby Flay’s technique to take the pit out of the avocado with a knife. The next thing I remember is standing over a blood splattered kitchen sink pressing a blood soaked paper towel on my left hand palm. Somehow I managed to get to my cell phone on the other side of the counter and dialed my husband’s number, he had never heard me cry.  

For more information on how Reader Views can help with your book visit

Why You Want To Read Indie Books

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

During the beginning of the Internet Publishing revolution many Indie books felt short on production quality. Needless to say that this fact, on top of the traditional publishing efforts against change, gave all Indie authors a bad rap, which made it difficult for them to succeed in the market. Yet, many Indie books began hitting the bestseller mark as authors learned more and more about the publishing process. In the end, the publishing industry seems to have been able to accommodate traditional and Indie authors in the entirely different book formats currently available. So why should readers want to read Indie books on top of, or even in place of the traditional ones? Below are some reasons:

·         Because readers want to choose what to read! The broad list of Indie books is so vast that readers will always find something different to read. This is due to the Traditional Publisher Marketing focused selection process.

·         Because they are getting better and better! The bad rap is going away as the quality of Indie books improves steadily.

·         Because Indie is here to stay! There is no longer uncertainty about the Indie Publishing Industry existence. In fact its growth has been fast and hefty!

·         Because Indie Authors are becoming as Credible as Traditional! In the beginning, a self-published author was not given much credibility because a publisher did not choose to publish their manuscript, and instead they did it themselves. Currently the idea that good books are not self-published is less relevant, as Indie authors grow fans and establish their own platforms.

The book market has gone from being publisher based to reviews based as readers now shop for authors based on the reviews and Awards honored instead of who published them. To find good books to read, check our book reviews through and