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Issue # 3: May 13, 2002
Publisher: Mind Like Water, Inc.

Welcome to another issue of the Mind Like Water Monthly. I am really encouraged by the positive responses we have received. I think it goes to show that, although a little cliche, content really is king.

We have had several ebook authors respond to our invitation to be interviewed. To be fair, these will appear in our newsletter (two per issue) in the order in which authors contact us. We would also like to hear from publishers of ebooks, and from those of you who are consumers/readers of ebooks.

Remember that we only place one advertisement in our newsletter, so please make it a point to check out our sponsor.

Best regards,

Michael Williams

Table of Contents
1. Feature Article: Word-of-Mouth
2. eBook Author Interviews:
    a. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, This Is The Place
    b. Mary E. Trimble, Rosemount
3. Tip of the Month
4. Questions and Answers

Feature Article: Word-of-Mouth
In the last issue, I discussed the missing link -- connecting ebook authors with readers. Directories and search engines are certainly a great place to start for both authors and readers. Word-of-mouth advertising is probably the next most important thing to remember. In fact, Internet traffic looks like this:

1. Search engines: 46 percent
2. Word-of-mouth: 20 percent
3. Random surfing: 20 percent
4. Magazine ads: 4 percent
5. By accident: 2 percent
6. TV ads: 1 percent
7. Targeted e-mail: 1 percent
8. Banner ads: 1 percent.

Let's face it, we are all inundated on a daily basis with phone solicitations, advertisements, email spam, billboards, etc. This makes most of us extremely skeptical. When making a purchasing decision, we are all looking for a warm and comfortable feeling. Let's suppose you are looking for a doctor, lawyer, plumber, or any other professional. Would you rather spend eight hours of intensive research screening through prospects, coming up with a final list, and then possibly interviewing the finalists? I think NOT! Most of us would opt for a friend or family member giving us a referral.

How does this apply to ebook authors and readers?

Readers, I suspect that you would rather buy an ebook from an author or publisher that you know and trust. I would. One reason Amazon.com has had such success is that they allow people to post reviews of books. This allows you to find out what others think about a book you are considering purchasing. This is word-of-mouth advertising and, believe me, we all like it and use it daily. Case in point: I just saw Spiderman The Movie, which was a pretty decent movie. Guess what I did? I told several people I know about the movie, including everyone reading this newsletter.

Authors, become the person/business that you would recommend to your closest friend. How do you do this? It seems obvious, but be accessible to your readers either by phone, email, newsletter, or online chat. Offer a money-back guarantee and then stick to it. Answer any questions you receive as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours. If you have a publisher, make sure that your publisher is satisfying your customers. Check with your customers and find out not only how they liked your book, but also what their buying experience was like.

Remember that word-of-mouth advertising is more of a philosophy than it is a marketing approach. You cannot force someone to give you a great referral. That is what makes it so powerful. It is believable.

Next month I am going to talk about starting and maintaining a newsletter. I am also going to tell you about what I believe is one of the best and most inexpensive programs for maintaining a newsletter.

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Why advertise in the Mind Like Water Monthly?
Online newsletters tend to narrowly focus their content to meet the needs and capture the loyalty of a very specific readership ... giving you the perfect opportunity to get your ad in front of your best potential customers! If you would like more information about advertising with us, please send an email to geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

eBook Author Interview: Carolyn Howard-Johnson, This Is The Place
Michael: Tell me about yourself and what inspired you to write This Is The Place.

Carolyn: I was born writing and talking -- or very nearly. When I was accepted as a writer for the Olympus High School Thunderbolt in Salt Lake City, I thought of it as my first professional job. In art class I made myself a wallet with an inkpot and quill carefully incised into cowhide, and kept scrapbooks of everything I wrote and everything that was published, whether it was good, bad or indifferent. I dreamed writing and lived writing.

I nagged the managing editor at the Salt Lake Tribune into hiring me when I was only 17 years old. I was the youngest person they ever hired. My youthful persistence inspired one of the chapters in This Is The Place. Often young people will do what their older shadows would never have the confidence to try.

I left Salt Lake City for New York, where I was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine. I also did a short stint as a publicity writer for Eleanor Lambert Agency (fashion) in that city. I wrote releases for celebrity designers of the time, including Pauline Trigere, Rudy Gernreich and Christian Dior. It was very exciting. The models. The clothes. The fashion shows.

I write a regular freelance fashion column and occasional society pieces for the Pasadena Star News, and movie reviews for The Glendale News-Press, an LA Times affiliate. I also do profiles and a regular column for Home Dcor Buyer.

After that I gave up writing for about 40 years. This Is The Place was my own personal miracle. A chapter from the novel has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Masters Literary Award, and the novel won the Sime-Gen Reviewers' Choice Award in the mainstream category. My work was selected for two anthologies in 2001. Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered will be released in 2002, and I am writing my first book of poetry, SkyScapes: A Woman's Reflections.

I didn't start This Is The Place until I was almost 60 years old, so currently the most important thing in my life is making up for lost time. I am a woman on the run. I am such a late starter with the creative writing and have lived so long that there is just tons of "stuff" waiting to be put on paper!

I wanted to write the great American novel from the time I was a teenager. It just took about 40 years for the idea to gestate before it was born. It may not be the great American novel to anyone else, but it is to me. I did have one reviewer say "Carolyn Howard-Johnson will be one of the greats." That felt like the realization of a dream!

Michael: Briefly explain to our readers your unique view of Utah and the Mormon culture.

Carolyn: Many Utahans have experienced the culture in Utah from both the Mormon and the non-Mormon side. I believe I am the only writer to explore that aspect of the state. Like the American South, Utah has its own culture, even its own language. Most fiction set in that state barely skims what makes that "place" so immeasurably fascinating.

Michael: What are you working on now?

Carolyn: I just finished a book called Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered. It explores the idea of truth in fiction, how each story's truth is colored by the story teller as well as the reader.

Michael: What is your opinion of ebooks and the future of electronic publishing?

Carolyn: I use ebooks for promotion. I intend to write a nonfiction book for retailers and use the electronic format for that. The advantage for certain kinds of books is that the price can be kept so affordable.

There is such a small percentage of people who read fiction in ebooks. Of those, a still smaller percent read literary/women's/historical (a cross of categories that This Is The Place falls into), and so I haven't pursued that path for this book, nor will I for Harkening. I also believe that the contract I have with my publisher does not permit that. If I ever feel intensely that the time is right for publishing them electronically, I'll take it up with them.

Michael: What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Carolyn: I took a writing course at UCLA from Michael Levine. He said, "Write two lousy pages a day and at the end of the year you'll have a book." His point was that if a writer agonizes over every word or the first chapter or anything else, they may never complete a piece. A writer can always go back and rewrite. I believe that keeping the momentum is invaluable. Michael may be a writer's greatest philosopher!

I think that one of the most important aspects of writing is that a fiction writer must know herself. Not until a writer knows her own heart, guts, foibles, and prejudices can she write character well. So, at least for fiction writers and poets, I believe that getting back to one's roots is invaluable. There are many paths for this -- journaling, travel, therapy, one's own genealogy. I do them all. Another aspect of this is that a writer should write. I have my notebook with me most always. Sometimes I can go back over a page only a day later and be absolutely amazed at what I have forgotten. Dreams. Metaphors. Observations. Even important writing ideas!

-- Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of This Is The Place, an award-winning story about a young journalist who writes her way through repression into redemption. 
Available at http://www.tlt.com/authors/carolynhowardjohnson.htm
For a FREE first chapter, email carolynhowardjohnson@sendfree.com.
FREE Cooking By The Book at http://www.tlt.com/authors/carolynhowardjohnson.htm.

eBook Author Interview: Mary E. Trimble, Rosemount
Michael: Tell me something about Rosemount.

Mary: Rosemount, published in November 2000 by Atlantic Bridge, is a Young Adult/Teen novel about 16-year-old Leslie Cahill, who rebels against her father's decision to send her to a girls' boarding school. After months of arguing and feeling rejected by her father, Leslie decides to take matters into her own hands. She runs away, but soon finds that the "real world" can be harsh and frightening. Rosemount has plenty of action, with modern ranch life, wilderness adventure and human dynamics.

Michael: What is the setting for Rosemount, and why?

Mary: The setting for this story is the wide-open ranch country of eastern Washington and Oregon. I've always loved that part of the country and am fascinated by modern-day ranching.

Michael: How long have you been writing?

Mary: I've been writing professionally for 10 years. In the early years I concentrated on magazine articles, and by now have over 350 articles published, mostly in travel magazines. I also write sailing articles and pieces of general interest to homeowners. Rosemount is my first published book. McClellan's Bluff, the sequel to Rosemount, is due to be published in early summer 2002, also by Atlantic Bridge. In the sequel, Leslie, now 17, falls in love with a neighboring cowboy who is 28. Not only does the age difference bother Leslie's father and brother, but they feel this fellow's character is less than honorable.

Michael: Describe to me the good and the bad of ebooks.

Mary: I think the premise of ebooks is promising for all the popular reasons -- saves trees, saves space, usually less expensive. For students, ebooks can save a sore back. As an author, I've been disappointed in the slowness of manufacturers to come up with a reader that's compatible to all formats. As much as the ebook industry has been publicized, there are still many people who are unfamiliar with ebooks. When hand-held readers become available, adaptable and inexpensive, I think this industry will skyrocket.

Michael: Are ebooks a fad or a revolution?

Mary: I believe ebooks are a revolution. They are here to stay and, like television, won't take over the industry but will provide one more mode from which to choose. 

-- Mary E. Trimble
Rosemount -- Life is tough when you're 16 and on your own.

Tip of the Month
eBook authors/publishers: If your customers pay by credit card, remind them that their bill will reflect a charge from your company. It may not be completely intuitive to them, and it can cut down on credit card charge backs. You can remind customers during their purchase or by email after the purchase.

Questions and Answers
Questions anyone???

Respond here: geoguy@mindlikewater.com.

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Copyright 2002, Mind Like Water, Inc., all rights reserved.
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Phone: 913-381-4520 / FAX: 240-368-5664


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