Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 Write Now! Aspiring Author's Workshop

Attention Aspiring Authors! 

The count down is on!! 

Only 6 days until the 2013 Write Now! Aspiring Authors VIP Breakfast and Workshop

When: July 27 
Time: 10am-2pm
Location: Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center 
                Winston-Salem, NC. 

If you have a desire to publish a book or become a writer, invest in your dream by registering today! It's not too late, as there are a few seats left! You don't want to miss the event host Alicia T. Clinton, as well as other talented writers and industry professionals. I'll be on hand to give the keynote speech, and I'll share how I went from self-publishing my books to landing a multi-book deal with a traditional publisher. Both of these success driven events include meals, knowledge, and a great networking opportunity. Click watch the video and register TODAY!!...oh, and please share information with your family and friends!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day Salute: How My Daddy Became My Buddy

Father’s have a significant impact on the lives of their children, and my Daddy, Rev. Irvin L. Hickman, had a huge impact on mine.

My Daddy is the first man who ever loved me. He’s the first man who ever told me I was beautiful. He’s the first man who I knew I could trust completely. And to this day, I know that no matter what, my daddy will always have my back. He’s my steady anchor and a source of great wisdom.

Growing up, Daddy and I used to have long talks. I’d sit on the edge of his and my mother’s bed and we’d talk about all sorts of things. When I turned 16, Daddy and I had an interesting exchange that I’ll never forget. It was very simple, but it had lasting effects.

Daddy – “You need a buddy, and I’m gonna be your buddy.”

Me – “I don’t need a buddy. I’ve got friends!”

I was trying to assert my teenage independence by letting him know that I was just fine, and I didn’t need a clingy chaperone watching my every move. I knew right from wrong. I made good decisions. I did well in school. I stayed out of trouble, and I was a smart young woman. I had it all figured out. Ha! The truth was that my Daddy knew what I didn’t…that I hadn’t a clue in the world about the complexities of disappointment, love, hurt, loss, hardship, or the other tough lessons that life would teach me once I left the safety that he and my mother provided.

As promised, Daddy became my buddy. He monitored me like a hawk, continued our long talks, enforced a strict curfew, and gave me a ton of “unsolicited” advice that I thought was old-fashioned gibberish. When I’d tell him my views on life, which were almost always opposite from his, he’d just smile at me and say, “Keep on livin’.”

I lived, and boy did I learn. Each year that passed my Daddy grew wiser and wiser in my eyes. Actually, he’d always been wise, I just didn’t realize it until I came face-to-face with the things he’d warned me about all those years ago. My father isn’t a perfect man, and he doesn’t have to be. He’s God-fearing. He’s fair. He’s the strong, silent type. A man’s man. Rugged. Solid. Hard working. He taught me what to look for in a man, and he told me that my price/worth was far above rubies.

Thank you Daddy, for all the support you’ve given me, the lessons you’ve taught me, and the love you continue to show me.You are the BEST buddy a girl could ever have!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Writing: Discipline

I suffered from writer's block for more than 15 years before I wrote my first book. Those days were very frustrating, and at times, downright difficult. I'd start writing and then, wham! The words would stop and I couldn't seem to get them back. But once I started writing my first manuscript in earnest, my muse came to me (on a sunny Monday morning in March 2004. It's a day I'll always remember!) and has been my good friend ever since.

Even though I don't suffer from writer's block the way I used to, there are days when my muse says she's tired and needs a break! So, what do I do when that happens?...I still write! Don't get me wrong, I never force writing because that's a recipe for disaster. But in order to complete a novel-length manuscript (75-85k words. Mine are usually 95-100k words) you have to buckle down and exercise a fair amount of discipline.

Writing a novel requires a great deal of discipline, stamina, and dedication. The only way to finish a book is to write as much as you can. Even if I don't write a new scene, I go back over what I've already written, and when I do that I always end up adding more words to the pages and making what I've already penned even better. Essentially, writing is re-writing.

The discipline involved in completing a book isn't easy. Going from a blank screen to one filled with over 350 pages requires hours and hours of uninterrupted time each day, month, and year, if you want to maintain a career as a writer. A good way to make sure you write each day, or at least work on your manuscript, is to schedule an appointment. Just as you would schedule a hair appointment, dental office visit, or a workout at the gym, you have to schedule writing time. You have to treat your writing as a necessary appointment that you can't miss. However you decide to organize your time, find what works for you and make it a part of your routine, so that writing becomes a habit!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview with China Ball

Each month I will feature interviews with a diverse group of authors here on Trice's World. Some will be New York Times bestsellers, while others may be just starting out. If I can keep up with the pace I'd love to feature several each month. But for now, seeing as though I'm getting back into the swing of things, I'll start off by taking it slow, one author at a time.

First up, is China Ball!

China Ball is the author of four novels with her fifth book to be released in March 2013.  China released her debut novel Eleven Months of Hell in 2008.  China Ball was invited by the NAACP Image Awards to participate as a nominee for best debut novel in the 2009 Awards show and was invited back for her second and third novels.  China Ball hails from Richmond, Virginia, served the United States Navy for 9 ½ years, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Norfolk State University.  She went on to receive her Master of Science degree in Public Administration.  She resides in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her fiancĂ© and son.

Hi China! Thanks so much for agreeing to interview with me, I really appreciate your time and I'm sure the readers do, too! Let's jump right in with questions.

1.     What prompted you to write your first book, and looking back, if there was one thing you could change about that book what would it be, if any?

I come from a family of story tellers who loved to read.  I began writing when I was three years old when my mother gave me a piece of paper and a crayon to entertain me, and it was love at first sight.  I use to tell my fiancĂ© several stories of my life experiences and he prodded me into writing my first book.  He felt it would be a story to benefit people who had gone through what my story entailed.  The one thing I would change is one chapter that was 41 pages.  I would have shorten it or make it into 2 or 3 chapters.

2.     The current climate in the publishing industry is very precarious and filled with lots of changes. What do you see as the biggest change in the industry since you published your first book?

When I first published my first book, there were a plethora of book events to market and sell your book and readers were anxious to get new books.  The biggest change came when the e-book was introduced to the market.  It took off by storm and now readers would much rather read their books electronically for the convenience rather than taking a book.

3.     You've published five books in five years, which is a major accomplishment. How do you balance your time so you can write, market, promote, and publish your books?

Writing is my passion.  Writing relieves my stress and lets me express the things I’ve thought and imagined.  On days when it has been especially challenging, my relief comes from writing.  Sometimes I use my lunch break to write, I take mini vacations to write, and on the weekends or my days off I market and promote my books. 

4.    What aspect of writing do you like most and what part of it do you like least?
As most authors would say, I love the writing and creating.  What I like least is the business side, invoicing, and competition with other authors for the readers’ attention.

5.     There's a saying, "I wish I knew then what I know now." As it relates to publishing, what is one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you started your literary career?

I wish I had known the publishing industry was going to suffer as the years moved on.

6.     Are you working on any new projects? If so, please do share!

My next novel to be released in March 2013 is the sequel to my fourth book I AM Vanessa, which is titled No Analysis Needed.   I am currently working on Tessa Don’t Take No Mess which will be released in September 2013.

7.     Thanks so much for your time, China! I'm sure readers and writers alike will benefit from your insight after reading this interview. Please tell the readers how they can find out more about you and your books?

Readers and interested people can visit my website at  I welcome them to visit and join me on Facebook and Twitter.  My books can be purchased on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Nook , Smashwords and my website.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Staying Connected with Readers

Things have been quite hectic since my last post. I must do better with my posting frequency, but alas, sometimes I'm just plain tired! It's hard work to write, promote, market, and sell a book. But in order to have a successful career as a published author and stay relevant on the minds of readers, that's what writers nowadays must do--this applies to indie authors as well as those signed with a traditional publisher.

My fourth novel, BREAKING ALL MY RULES, was released February 26! Talk about excited! All three of my originally self-published novels have been re-released, but this book is my first "original" new release since August 2010. That's 2 1/2 years, which is practically a lifetime in today's fast-moving world of publishing. During that long stretch of time I worried about how I would stay relevant. Even though my publisher, Kensington (Dafina Books) re-released my first three novels, introducing my work to a broader audience who were discovering my books for the first time, I still had loyal readers who were looking for something new. I was concerned about how I would stay on the radar, especially in the face of what seemed like a thousand new authors emerging on the scene every day. I knew I had to do two very important things during that 2 1/2 year stretch in between a new book; 1) Trust in God and 2) Develop a plan!

I had the trust in God part taken care of, but the develop a plan part took careful thought and action. I decided to go back to my old school, grassroots strategy and apply it to the here and now.

After publishing three novels, I'd built a solid base of loyal readers, and thanks to the re-releases I was gaining new ones. Social media, which was in its infancy when I published my first book, now came in handy and helped me to further implement my strategy on a much larger scale. My plan was very simple--engage and communicate with readers several times a week using both technology and good ol' fashion face-to-face contact. I posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest each day. For those who weren't on the social networks I sent out regular e-newsletters to keep them in the loop. I also made sure my website was up to date in all areas so readers would know what I was working on and where I would be (through my events page) throughout the year. In addition to those activities I made sure I regularly reached out to book clubs. Book clubs are so important because they are the lifeline of an author's career! (more on this in another post!)

I stuck to my plan and was able to stay connected with my established reader base while engaging and growing my audience. The key is consistency. You have to be willing to put time and effort into your career in order to stay relevant. Here are a few tips for staying connected with readers.

1. Reach out to local book clubs and send them a copy of your book
2. Have fun with social media. Don't just advertise your book, advertise you! Let readers get to know the person behind the book.
3. ALWAYS have bookmarks, postcards, or other promotional materials on-hand to share with prospective readers (I keep them in my handbag).
4. Take a sign-up sheet with you when you participate at book events. This will help you capture names and email addresses as you build your reader database.
5. When sending out e-blasts/newsletters, ask readers to help you spread the word by forwarding your message to at least 10 of their friends. Small things make a big impact.
6. Attend as many events as you can (literary conferences and workshops, festivals, community events, etc). Exposure is important. 90% of success involves showing up!
7. ALWAYS conduct yourself in a professional manner, whether through social media or human contact. A good attitude will go a very long way!
8. If you have the mailing address of your readers don't just send out promotional materials. Mail them a greeting card during the holidays. Thoughtful gestures count!

Authors: Please let me know what kinds of things you do to stay connected with your readers?
Readers: Let me know what kinds of communication you prefer or would like to see from authors?

Until next time

Trice Hickman

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pre-orders: Why They're Important

In the publishing business, as with most other industries, it’s all about the numbers.  Publishers look at them closely, reporting stores submit them, Nielson BookScan calculates them, and authors work hard to increase them. The quantity of units sold can mean the difference between being able to publish another book, or the beginning and end of a literary journey.

Pre-orders are an important component in book sales. Essentially, pre-orders serve as the launching pad for a book’s success, giving it wings to fly off the shelves—or in today’s marketplace, clicks to digital download heaven.

When I self-published my first novel, Unexpected Interruptions, in November 2007, I started my campaign for pre-orders five months before my pub date. Although 2007, wasn’t so terribly long ago, it feels like eons now, when I reflect back on it. Technology has changed so many things, and social media combined with e-readers have provided a more efficient way to spread the word about a book and increase access to sales. But whether then or now, pre-orders still remain a critical part of selling a book.

Pre-orders generate buzz, which creates anticipation, and ultimately drives sales. My goal was to generate enough pre-orders to pay for my first print run, which was a modest 2,500 books. On the day of my book’s release I had pre-sold 1,000 copies, and within 30 days I sold the rest of my stock and ordered a second print run. I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not pre-sold units to cover those expenses. Readers who had pre-ordered the book received it on the day of its release and quickly posted reviews, which helped to build more interest, increase momentum, and boost sales.

Another important thing about pre-orders is that they count toward an author’s fist week sales. As I stated in a separate post about first week sales (January 29, 2013), those numbers help determine whether a book makes its way to a bestseller list or not.

So how do you generate pre-orders? What kinds of marketing and promotion strategies yield the best results? Check back next week for my post on marketing and promotion.

Trice Hickman

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How a Book Makes a Bestsellers List, and Why Tuesday is an Important Day in Publishing

In addition to heavy marketing, promotion, blood, sweat, tears, and a fair amount of good luck, there’s another key ingredient that helps a book make a bestsellers list. Many new authors and most readers have misconceptions about how a book makes its way to that status, and I would also venture to say that a large majority don’t realize the importance of Tuesday in the publishing industry, or how that day directly impacts a books ability to claim a spot on a list.

A lot of people think that a book makes a bestsellers list based on the cumulative amount of units sold. That theory is true, but the distinction lies in the timeframe in which the books are sold. Bestseller lists are compiled each week by retailers who report their sales, and the reporting week starts on Tuesday. This is true for the recording industry as well.

If you look at the publication date of books produced by traditional publishers, you will find that no matter the date, the day of the week always falls on a Tuesday. If you see a book with a publication date other then Tuesday, it’s a dead giveaway that the book is self-published, and by someone unfamiliar with industry standards. When I was self-published I made that mistake with my first book, releasing it on a Friday, only to discover my misstep that next Monday through doing research that I’d overlooked on the front end.

Retailers report the number of books sold (based on ISBN’s that are recorded by Nielsen BookScan) within the reporting period (Tuesday thru the weekend) to various industry outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, etc. A book makes a list according to how many units were sold within that week’s reporting period. Each Tuesday is a fresh start for the reporting to begin anew. This is why you see books that boast, “4 weeks on the such and such list.” It’s because that particular book garners top sales each week. If a book sells well enough to make the list at a bookstore, newspaper, magazine, book club (Black Expressions) industry publication (PW, Library Journal) etc.,  that book can forever be called a bestseller.

Many authors, particularly established ones, stress the importance of first week sales. They do this because the first week of publication is the launching pad for the success of their book, and is generally the author’s best chance of making a bestsellers list. This isn’t true for all authors, though. New authors typically build momentum as time goes on and readers discover their work. But even if it’s the author’s debut book, sales for the first week of publication is still important and serve as a foundation on which to grow. Pre-orders are also very important and count toward book sales.

Personally, I always stress pre-orders. Just as the first week of sales is important, pre-orders help to build momentum before the book is released. When I published my first novel I sold enough pre-orders to pay for my second printing the month after my book was released. I’ll talk more about pre-orders in my next post. Until then, happy writing and reading!

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Writing: How To Get Started

A lot of people say they don't know where to begin when it comes to writing a book. "How do I get started?" is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from aspiring writers. I'll be honest, writing a book is no easy feat. Many new writers obsess about how their story will unfold, the pacing of their plot, and the likability/believability of their characters. And they wonder how their beginning, middle, and end will all come together to form a good book. All those concerns are valid ones. But I think the most important aspect of "getting started" involves discipline.

Books are not written overnight, they are written over time. It is a process, and that process involves making a huge time commitment for the endeavor. Sure, there are some writers who can complete a book in record time and can churn out 10,000 words in one day. I once did 9,000 words, but the next day I felt as though I'd suffered a mild concussion. The truth is, writing requires long, uninterrupted hours of solitary time, where it's just you and your characters filling up blank pages.

How do you fill up those pages? One day at a time.

Getting started requires an every day commitment. If your lifestyle won't allow you to write for long hours every day, do something, even if you only write a few paragraphs or go over what you've already written. When you engage in the exercise of writing each day, your mind and body will soon grow accustomed to the familiar journey, and it will become a habit. Initially, it can be a challenging thing to do, so I tell aspiring writers to schedule writing time on their electronic calendar. Set the alert/alarm so it reminds you and holds you accountable. Just as you would schedule a hair appointment, doctor's visit, or a night out with friends, schedule your writing time!

Another thing I've found helpful is to record your word count every day. I keep a writing journal for each one of my novels. When I start writing in the morning, I record how many words I have on paper and I do it again at the end of my writing day. This allows me to see my progress (or lack thereof) and gives me the push to do more than I did the day before. 

Each writer will find their own rhythm and what works best for them. But the main thing is to commit yourself to doing something every day. Disciplining yourself will help you get started and before you know it you'll have a completed book.

Trice Hickman

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wow All Over Again!

Wow, I can't believe we're already into the third week  of 2013. I think I may have said the same thing and had the same feeling this time last year! It's "WOW" all over again!

But there's one thing I know that will be very different this year...I'm going to take better care of ME!

So often in the past I've neglected my health--physically and emotionally--trying to do too many things all at once. It was maddening, and after a while it wore me down. Last year many of my friends and close family members were affected by health challenges. I even had my own battles. The one thing I realized is that without good health nothing else really matters. Without good health you can't enjoy the things you work so hard for.

I also realized that once you slow down, things still manage to get done, maybe not in the time you would have liked, but they still get done. And even if they don't, it's not the end of the earth, so to speak. Taking a breath to gather yourself in the face of stressful situations can prove more productive than plowing through the work and ending up with an ulcer, high blood pressure, or worse.

Will I work hard? Absolutely! Will I work non-stop? Absolutely NOT! Moderation is going to be my motto. I know I'll have to adjust in order to ease into this knew way of being, but I'm looking forward to the experience!