Branding, Brand Names, and Trademarks

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: At a recent writers’ conference, the word “branding” kept being thrown around. Am I behind the times? What does branding mean, when it comes to writing books?

A: First let me define the word “brand.” I liked the following shortened definition from WhatIs.com, the best: “A brand is a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and marketed. Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand name.” Continue reading

Radio Promotions

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I haven’t a clue about how to promote my book on radio, yet I’ve heard other writers have been successful doing so. What’s the secret?

A: Because I am a book editor, my expertise usually ends when a book gets published; however, I can tell you what a highly successful client of mine did.

He wrote a touching novel about a soldier in the Civil War, and he based it on information he found in an old family Bible. He labeled the book fiction, because he added dialogue and concocted details necessary to pull the story together, but he inserted photographs of the decapitated house where the real family had lived as well as marriage records and other documents to back up his story. After I edited the book and he self-published it, he and his wife loaded up their motor home and took off. Continue reading

Author Opinions, Synopses, Hyphenation, and Agents

book doctor 2015By Bobbie Christmas

Q: Is it ever appropriate for an author to express an opinion in a novel in an effort to influence readers? I’ve heard it’s called author intrusion, and we should avoid it.

A: My answer is that while author intrusion is rarely appropriate, authors still can slant a story or a character in a way that influences readers. One of my clients, who is opposed to killing sharks, wrote a gripping and successful novel about people who try to stop the slaughter of sharks for their fins. By the end of the story, trust me, most readers will be against slaughtering sharks as well. Never did the author intrude with a personal opinion; instead the opinions were those of the main characters. Through the characters’ research, dialogue, and actions, readers learn why slaughtering sharks is detrimental to the ecosystem. Continue reading

Thrillers, Genres, and Prologues

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: When writing a thriller, should I begin the first chapter of the story with action from the protagonist or antagonist (villain), or does it matter what character I start with?

A: The protagonist (main character, the one who wants something or wants to do something) and the antagonist (the person or thing that attempts to stop the protagonist from getting what he or she wants, also known as the villain) are the two most important characters in any book, but no absolute rule dictates which point of view should begin the first chapter. It seems to me, however, that if you want readers to empathize with the protagonist, it’s better to begin with that character. Remember that the first person mentioned in a scene should be the point-of-view character for that scene. Continue reading

Issues with Cookbooks

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I’ve written a cookbook. I do not have any pictures of my recipes, but would like to have them in the final book. Do I need to hire a photographer or does the publisher provide assistance with that?

A: If a publisher buys the manuscript and wants the recipes illustrated, it will take all responsibility for finding and paying a professional who specializes in food photography, an art in itself. Continue reading

Bits and Pieces

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: Will you tell my writing group if there is a better way to punctuate the following?
“Oh. Right. I remember.”

A: If the purpose of the line is to show that the speaker pauses after each of the first two words, then use “Oh. Right. I remember.”

It could also be written as “Oh, right. I remember,” if the author does not want a pause after “Oh.”

Continue reading

Query Letters for Agents, Book Publishers, and Magazines

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: Is there a secret to writing a good query letter to an agent or a book publisher?

A: I would not call it a secret, but a formula. The letter must have specific elements in it and not be more than one page long. For an excellent example of a query letter, see http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-the-perfect-query-letter. Continue reading