September 25, 2017

This is a replica of Robert Fulton’s Clemont steamboat, the New Orleans, the first steamboat to travel from Pittsburgh, PA to New Orleans, had a similar design.

Writing comes in different stages. There is prewriting, drafting, self-editing content, proofreading, and allowing someone else to edit what I write. After that there’s formatting, cover design, and marketing. I could start at point A and go straight through to book sales. I don’t do that. Rather, I start new writing projects at certain times of the year whether I have finished the entire publishing process for previous books or not. As I am writing this, I just finished writing the final edits on Book VI of the Locket Saga: The Anvil, and my next nonfiction book: Write a Book to Ignite Your Business. In addition, I am still working on Book VII of the Locket Saga: Two Rivers. This Sunday I started Book VIII of the Locket Saga: As yet, not yet named book.

NaNoWriMo for the Ninth Year!

Every year in November every year for the past eight years, I have entered and won NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month. During November all over the world, hundreds of thousands of novels are started. In order to win, the author must write fifty thousand words of a first draft of their novel.


It is my understanding that November is for writing the first draft, not necessarily for starting to think about writing the book. That is why toward the end of September, I start the writing process with prewriting. The pre-writing includes several different activities that I like to have done before I start the first draft in November. These include: determining the basic plot, main characters, and doing at least the initial research.

The Basic Plot

I have determined the basic plot of this upcoming book. It is sort of a continuation of Two Rivers. Two Rivers is primarily the story of Isaac Thorton and Rebecca Miles and Isaac’s journey with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This book is the story of Andrew Mayford who goes south to Natchez, Mississippi. Although he has gone down the Mississippi several times by flatboat, in 1811, Andrew becomes the first pilot of a steamship down the Mississippi, changing the way Americans relate to the Mississippi forever. Of course, this is an actual event. During my research for previous books, I discovered numerous interesting facts about these series of events that I think should be told in fictional story form.

The Main Characters

There’s Robert Fulton, a man named Livingston, there’s Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt who went on the trip, their two young children, and their servants and of course Andrew. All of these characters need to be developed from just names on a page to what I as the author view as living breathing people. One of these servant girls is Andrew’s love interest. These are called character sketches.


I love research! Research takes me from a vague idea of what happened to feeling as though I was actually present at that time and place. Because  this story is going from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Natchez Mississippi, I will need to research not just what those two cities were like at that time but also every city in between. Also there were specific Native Americans they met along the way and a major historical event that directly related to the journey of the steamboat. I have to research this as well.


One of the big research projects that I am currently working on is reading Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. It was, of course written a few years later, (1863), but the book does relate to the Mississippi and to steamboats which is exactly the topic this book.

It is a Start, Just a Start

This is not all there is to the pre-writing process, but it is a beginning. However, by the time November comes along, I will be ready to start that first draft.

Need a Good Title

As stated earlier, I still don’t have a good working title. What do you think would make a good title for this book?







This is a photo of a shoe last. To make shoes, a pair of these have to be made first and then the shoe is formed around it.


I am getting ready to put out another nonfiction book called Living Today, The Power of Now. Currently the book is in the editing process and should be ready in a few weeks. I have also been working on a book about how to write a book for business called Write a Book to Ignite Your Business, A Why-To and How-To Guide. It will include a lot of the methods in book writing that I have learned over the years. Here’s a few of the things I learned works well for me as I am getting started writing nonfiction books

Putting a Fence around Content–Making the Last First

The second most important thing that I learned about writing better and faster was to outline my book before doing much of the work in writing it. .

When I was growing up, Dad used to have a saying which was “when you make shoes, you have to make the last first.” He said something about it being the wooden part of the shoe that was the basis of the shoes. I still didn’t understand what he meant until I actually saw a shoe last. The shoe last is the wooden form that you stretch the leather around to form the shoe. Having a last makes making shoes a lot easier. Without a last, your shoes are nothing more than moccasins because they won’t have that shoe like shape. The same goes for writing a book. Having a structure within the book helps a person write a book better and faster.

Putting a Fence around Content-Know–Your Book’s Conclusion

One of the most important things that I have learned about how to write better and faster is to begin with the end in mind. This reminds me of a story that I heard a number of years ago about an elementary school in New York City where for a number of years, the school didn’t have a fence around the school yard. In the book, the children would hang close to the entrance to the building and didn’t spend any time on the school equipment.

Finally, the school board agreed to put up a fence. An amazing thing happened. The children no longer hung out around the entrance, but played in every corner of the building up to the edge of the fence. When they had boundaries, they felt they had more freedom to play rather than less.

When I write my books, I like to know the end of the book soon after I start. I have learned that when I know the end of the book early on, I feel as though I have more freedom to write. If I don’t know the ending, I ramble in generalities. However, if I know how my book is going to end, I write more from the heart. I know where I am going with my book. In this case, I am less likely to go down rabbit holes.

Start Your Book’s Description Earlier Rather than Later

It used to be that when I wrote a book’s description, I would write it AFTER I wrote the book. Now I start writing it BEFORE I begin writing the book. As I write the book, I go back and edit the book’s description until I have exactly what I feel works best to hook the reader into reading that book. I write the description first by coordinating it with my book’s outline. Then as I write the book, I continue to edit and upgrade the description to make it more interesting. I do my best to hook the reader into reading the book. I do SEO research and find the best words to include in the description to make it search engine friendly. As I move into the editing stage of writing my book, I begin editing the description as well. By the time my book returns from “extra eyes editing”, I no longer frantically try to figure out what to include in the blurb on the back of the book. Instead, I have a well written description that does all the work that a description is supposed to do. The description is a short synopsis that doesn’t give away too much information that hooks the reader and supplies the right words that people use to find the book’s information from search engines.

Create Your Book’s Title

Another thing you should determine before writing my first draft is to determine a working title for my book. A number of ways exist for writing a book title. One thing that helped me decide what title to give my literary baby is to give it a name as see how well it fits. I know that my book’s title is important because it is my first tool for hooking the reader into reading my book. A good strategy for figuring out how to name a book is to go to Amazon and examine the titles of the current best sellers in that category. One technique that I sometimes use is to use is to use a catchy, even trendy title as the main title and then tell what the book will do for the reader. For instance, in my newest book, Write a Book to Ignite Your Business, A Why-to, How-to Guide, the book’s main title and subtitle work together to create a title that hooks the reader by telling it what the book will do for them. The title provides information about the book will teach the reader, without sounding boring. Boring titles often a a sign of boring books, at least that is what readers often think.

Begin Your Book with the End in Mind

Just as a shoemaker should make the last first, for lasting success, you as an author need to determine your book’s end audience from the beginning of the writing process. Start your book by knowing how your book will end, knowing what your book is about, having at least a rudimentary outline, designing a good book description and creating good working title not only make writing your book easier to write, doing all of these things also make it easier to sell copies of the book when it is finally done.


blue skies

When the sun sets on one project, it rises on others.

Working on Final Edits of yet another Tome of the Locket Saga

Now that Sailing under the Black Flag is out and available for general purchase and I have the templates that I need to do my marketing projects, I can again focus on moving onto other projects. The writing process doesn’t end when a book is launched. The process just continues on with more writing projects. One of those projects is Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Millpond. I finished the second draft of this book last summer and am currently working on my final editing process.

When doing this final editing process, I work from macro-issues such as story continuity down to micro-issues such as getting rid of passive language, and ensuring that I am using the right punctuation and spelling.

I learned that by editing in this order, getting the story line right, and then fixing more detailed problems like getting the right word or punctuation, I am not editing material that I will eventually edit out anyway. This is a time saving devise that often gets overlooked in fiction writing, but this can literally save days of work over the course of the editing process.

Starting New Research to Keep the Series Going

In addition to working on this final editing process, I am starting research for Book VII of the Locket Saga which has the current working title of Two Rivers about two cousins who in 1803 take different rivers. Andrew Mayford takes the Mississippi southward to Natchez, and Isaac Thorton takes the Missouri westward with the Lewis and Clark expedition. Not only will they be going in different directions physically, but the paths they take will take them in different directions philosophically as well.

Thinking about another Garden-Based Book Project

Another project that I was talking to my brother about today was the idea of sustainable gardening. This concept goes deeper than organic gardening and even deeper than permaculture in that the focus isn’t just on the plant life, or the domesticated animals that are brought to help sustain the humans living on an acreage, but focuses on the life cycles of every organism including micro-organisms. The idea is based on the premise that the earth is not just an inert pile of pulverized rocks that will function with chemicals pumped into it but is a living breathing organism in its own right.

The idea includes the idea that human beings don’t have to destroy the earth in order to sustain himself, but can work with nature, recycling all of his wastes back into the soil and benefiting all creatures in a symbiotic relationship.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at .



By this weekend  intend to have all of the emails sent out to the booksellers. I didn’t realize how long it would take me to send out an email to over 800 recipients. As I am writing this, I still have not had any responses from any of the booksellers. There are so many variables as to why no one is opening my emails. My best guess is that the email that I wrote was not compelling enough to get any responses. Perhaps the headline was not compelling enough for anyone to open them. I may have to contact these booksellers via phone if I want further contact via email.

Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons

This planning phase moved along faster than I thought that it would. I have finished this first phase of the quarter. In addition, I have finished all of the spread sheets for the various marketing assignments that I am giving myself.

I have also finished writing the first drafts of all of the introduction letters for marketing to booksellers, libraries, podcast contacts, and radio programs, and newspapers. All that is left is to research these marketing entities, get it on the spread sheet, and contact them.

Contacting is the most important part of the whole process of marketing. Without contact, there is no real marketing done.

My Experience with my Paid List of Book Sellers

About a month ago I bought a list of over 800 booksellers who supposedly were looking for books like mine. I thought that if at least some of them would purchase my books, then it would be worth what I paid for the list.

There are several different ways to connect with contacts. One way is in person, another is by phone, via social media, and the way that I am trying to use now which is email. So far the email marketing has not worked as well I would like it to work. So far I have had no responses to the emails that I sent out to booksellers who supposedly want my books. In addition, a number of people on this list were sent back to me as undeliverable or no such email address. So far I have not even made back what I paid for the list. Even paid lists are not always a guarantee of sales.

I haven’t exhausted the list yet, and who knows how long it might be before I get any responses. There are several reasons that most of the booksellers who did get my email may not have responded yet.

  1. Because last week was a holiday week, some of them may have been out of the office.
  2. 2. My email also may not have corresponded with their usual book purchasing time.
  3. Another reason may be that they are researching the information that I sent to them.
  4. Still another reason might be that they are not interested in my type of book
  5. It could be that they didn’t like the email and just simply deleted it without another thought.

IMG_8330 final copy


As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at .

Cover of Sailing Under the Black Flag

Cover of Sailing Under the Black Flag

Tuesday, I took you through what I do to produce a book. It took me a long time to tweak the process that I now use to produce my books. I must confess that my marketing plan, especially online has not been what I would like it to be, so lately I have been studying marketing tactics and strategies.

Gone are the days of the idea portrayed in the movie Field of Dreams where if you build it, they will come. Build a book and without marketing, my books could sit on the proverbial e-bookshelf for months.Gone too are the days, for most writers anyway, when when traditional  publishers whisk authors out of obscurity, give them huge advances on their first novels and give them the publicity tour of their dreams. I have talked to enough authors to know that I prefer the Indie author route, hard though it may be, anyway.. I have determined that if I need to do most of the marketing myself, I am going to get more of the pay than I would have if I looked for a publisher to publish my books.

Book Marketing Starts with the Book

One of the first considerations in book marketing must begin with the book itself including the cover. One important thing to remember about the cover is that the title has to be prominent. Part of the reason for this is that the book cover can be as small as thumbprint size on some sites and being able to read this title will be vital. Another important consideration on the book cover is my biography and the book description. Not only do we want an exciting description to hook the reader into the book, but it helps to consider SEO as well so that when people are looking for my type of book, the reader will easily be able to find it.

Inside the book, marketing continues not only for this specific book where you encourage readers to review the book and share it with their friends on social media, but also previous books through back of the book advertising and for future books by encouraging the reader to connect with me through my social media, my website, and my newsletter.

Before My Next Book Launches

There is a lot marketing work that can and should be done prior to a book launch. Part of that marketing includes making people aware in your social network (through social media) that you are going to be launching another book. Part of that pre-launch activity that I have started doing for my upcoming book Sailing under the Black Flag is to ask my social network which book cover design they prefer. I started with ten potential covers, reduced it to three and chose the final cover.

In addition, I need continue increasing my network, particularly influencers and other authors is something that I need to work on prior to the e-book launch.

Paperback Book Launch

Once upon a time in traditional book marketing history, books came out first as hard cover books, then as paperbacks. Now books are more likely to come out as paperbacks and e-books. Some authors start by publishing e-books first, and follow with paperbacks, but I prefer to start with the paperback and then do the e-book. Part of the reason has to do with timing. Usually, I find myself finishing the editing process just before a major summer or autumn event and I like to have physical copies of my print book available at those events. This year is no different.  I intend to have copies of Sailing under the Black Flag available for Corry Fest in June. In addition, I will contact book reviewers to see if they would be willing to read and review a pdf book while I am waiting for the print books to come in. In return for their review, I will then give them print copies of the book for reviewing the book.

E-book Launch on Amazon

I create the print book for live events, but I tend to publish e-books for online sales. Here’s my plan for the e-book launch. Prior to the e-book launch of Sailing under the Black Flag, I am going to complete the KDP select promotions that I have on my other books leading up to the e-book launch. I will have a couple of weeks between each promotion. I will promote them on all of my promotional sites. Once the In addition, I will be doing a presale of Sailing under the Black Flag on Kindle prior to the launch on Amazon. Once the book is out on e-book, I will then complete my promotion on KDP select for that book.

Wide E-book Launch

Once the e-book has completed its promotional obligation on Amazon, I will give it what is called a “wide launch” this means that I will put it out in other formats other than the format used on Amazon. For this I will be using Smashwords because Smashwords not only offers to create the various e-book formats, but they distribute to the various distribution sites as well.Over the next several weeks I will be sharing this experience with all my readers. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at .


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