Fresh from the Literary Festival

by Renea Winchester 

I have just returned from one of my favorite literary festivals held in Canton, Georgia. If you are working on a manuscript, attending festivals and workshops is the best way to meet authors and gather information about how they have successfully marketed their book. Here is what I learned.

While sitting on a panel with Stephanie McAfee, I, and many others in attendance, marveled when she told us that she sold 145,000 copies of her (then self-published) e-book. Not only that, but Stephanie sold those copies during a time when the sale of traditional books fall flat. Her sales came in January and February.

Those who have read my book Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author know that I am firmly against releasing a printed book during January and February. Why? Most people are on a budget and, during the months of January and February, have limited funds by which to purchase books.

The exception… those who receive a new Kindle and gift cards.

Kindle fledglings scour Amazon searching for cheap (or free) books. Stephanie’s plan was simple. Write a book. Release it in January during a time when people were uploading  99 cent ebooks. Then wait. Hope. Pray.

Caveat: what worked for her then may not work for you today. She released her e-book on the cusp of the Kindle explosion. Today, there are literally tens of thousands of 99 cent ebooks.

Stephanie also shared that once the book started selling well, (well above average) she became embarrassed at the number of typographical errors it contained.

“I didn’t have an editor,” she explained to those in attendance at the conference. “So when I started selling a lot of copies I was embarrassed at how many mistakes the book contained. If you are considering publishing, please invest in an editor.”

Today, Stephanie is living every author’s dream. She has a three-book contract from a New York Times publisher. She also has a tremendous amount of work ahead. With three books to write in addition to marketing those books, she spends a lot of time locked inside her home office.

“I asked for my agent for an extension,” she announced at the conference. “I thought the publisher would give me 90 days…they gave me thirty. These are the things new authors learn fast.”

Certainly, Stephanie’s e-books will never again be priced at the bargain price of 99 cents, but for her, the low-price strategy worked.

Thank you for reading and remember, keep writing.

Renea Winchester is currently working on her third book titled: In the Kitchen with Billy. She was recently named the Atlanta Pen Woman Author of the year. Visit her at

To learn more about Stephanie visit her at

Patience and Perseverance

By Anju Gattani

No one said writing was easy. No one said publishing was any easier. No one said an M.A. or an MFA validates that you are/your work is suitable for publication. No one follows the rules of writing (there are none) in much the same way no one guarantees that you follow the rules (of writing) only to break them. And yet writers continue to write in the hope that they will one day be published. Why?

I thought about this for a long time while rewriting, revising and re-editing (sometimes all at once) the debut novel in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series, DUTY AND DESIRE. However, none of the ambiguity held me back because of the reason that propelled me in the first place – my love for storytelling. As far as I can remember, I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. However, after succeeding at writing (and being published internationally) in short fiction, feature, travel and parenting columns I knew the larger challenge lay ahead – writing the fiction novel. What I didn’t know—and am still grateful for—is the 9-journey to follow and the slam of rejections just waiting to sock me. I learned very quickly that rejections were aimed at my work—not me—despite the truth that I had poured my heart, soul and blood (me) in the writing of the story I learned very quickly to laugh at myself, pump a little humor in my writing life and build on friendship with others like myself who couldn’t not write. I learned to navigate the watery abyss of publishing and steer on with the one reason that propelled me in the first place – my love for storytelling.

As far as I can remember I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. So I continued to research, work with professionals from various industries (2 of India’s leading fashion designers, a Pilates instructor and doctor from the UK) and fill the story with details. I learned the art and craft of technique, style and honed my writing voice until I could no longer hear myself. I continued to flesh out characters so that they stole the show and moved their story forward. I learned to integrate plot, pacing and weave descriptions so that it all appeared seamless. And all this required patience. Years and years of patience and perseverance. But most of all it required an inner strength and determination to go on and believe in the story. How could I not? I had too many people, including my husband and kids, believing in me.

As far as I can remember I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. And now I’ve just told another one. However, this one, I hope, will encourage you to turn the pages of a novel… perhaps one you’ve written or one you have to read or better yet, one that’s a work-in-progress. It doesn’t matter. What does matter are the millions of stories out there that have already been told and millions still waiting to do so. It takes patience to write. It takes patience to read. But more so it takes patience and perseverance to believe.

Anju has lived in Singapore, Australia, India, New Jersey and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. Anju is a columnist for a multicultural magazine in the USA. She is also an avid guest blogger, who loves to share her experiences in health and fitness, food, self-empowerment and great fiction reads.

Duty and Desire is her first novel.

Visit Anju at