Brave New (Web Site) World

Written By: Shawn Hansen - May• 14•11

Shawn Hansen Marketing SolutionsMany of you who know me, know in addition to my writing, I design Web Sites and Blogs and other business collateral.

Lately, while talking to various writers and other small business owners, I’ve begun to notice a real trend: utter frustration when it comes to Web Sites and Blogs and the most efficient and effective means by which to create an Internet presence.

The once utopian-esque love of the Internet felt by many seems to have turned to a vile, noxious hatred of the virtual world. It appears many people have begun to feel overwhelmed by things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, and Web-Site-hits tracking.

I’m also hearing laments from lots of people whose Web Sites are too complex for them to make their own simple changes.

Enough, I say!

It’s time to take back the Internet, people, and I’d like to help lead the charge.

What if I told you anyone with basic computer skills could have his or her own Search Engine Optimized (SEO), Social Media Equipped, and Web-Site-hits tracking, multi-page Web Site and Blog up and running in just one day?

What if I also told you you’d be able to add pages and pictures and posts at will using an interface so simple even the techno-terrified can handle it? NO COMPLICATED CODING REQUIRED!

Finally, what if I said I’d walk a small group of you through the entire process in a hands-on, one-day class?

I’m planning two of these classes in June, and I’m knocking $50 off the normal price, so this opportunity is by invitation only. (SSWC members, consider yourselves invited!)

The fee for the course is $225, and it includes 3 months Web hosing, a 1-year domain name registration, light meals, and all the software and instruction needed to set up your very own Search Engine Optimized (SEO), Social Media Equipped, and Web-Site-hits tracking, multi-page Web Site and Blog.

We’ll meet in the Rialto Room of the Holiday in at Folsom and Sunrise, and by the end of the day, you’ll be loving the Internet all over again.

For more details and reservations, CLICK HERE to send me an e-mail.

You can also DOWNLOAD A FLYER.

Shawn Hansen Marketing Solutions

AUTHOR FAIR in Folsom, Apr. 9, 1-4p.m.

Written By: Roberta Davis - Mar• 27•11

This is an annual local author fair, featuring keynote speakers, storytime, book sales and signings with 22 authors, networking, drawings, you know the drill. At least one of us from SSWC will have a table there. Come visit, and it’s not too late to share my table there if you’d like to present your books. I’ll (Roberta “Bert”) will gladly scoot over. Just please give me a heads up at

For more details on events, check out the site.

I Know Why the Blue Bird Tweets

Written By: Shawn Hansen - Jan• 08•11

I’m going to declare this here and now, and I’m going to do it in caps so it reverberates to the ends of the Earth: TWITTER CHANGED MY LIFE.

A few years ago, I mocked the people who were all wrapped up in tweeting and follower counting and saying everything in 140 characters or fewer.

Then I read this article in The Sydney Morning Herald about the Japanese phenomenon known as keitai shousetsu (mobile phone novels), and how they “have become a publishing phenomenon in Japan, turning middle-of-the-road publishing houses into major concerns and making their authors a small fortune in the process.”

There are a whole slew of other jaw-dropping revelations in this piece, most notably that the 300,000 sales of a new translation of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov were trounced by the 420,000 sales of one of these keitai shousetsu, and (drum roll, please) that’s hard cover sales, folks.

The article caused me to sit up and reconsider the whole Twitter thing, so off I flew to check things out.

Initially, I found nothing but garbage: tweets about meals and bodily functions and stuff less interesting than cleaned-up dust bunnies; however, after a bit of poking around, I found some writers—some real writers—and they had information to share.

These writers are an active bunch and tweet solid leads on contests and publishing opportunities.  Many of them write stories and poems to tweet, and the stuff they’re posting is good.  In fact, it’s so good, mainstream publishers have (and continue to) purchase the very best tweets to include in Twitter anthologies.  (I know because I’ve sold a few.)

These sales are not the life-changing experience of which I speak.  What I am talking about is how one must go about writing a Twitter story.  It requires the turning of one’s thought process on its side to reimagine “story” in a whole new way—and that’s what changed my life.

Why?  Well, one of the keys to good writing is the degree to which an author is able to engage a reader—this isn’t anything new, and lots of how-to books spend oodles of time discussing how to accomplish this, but the fastest learning tool I’ve ever found is carried on the wings of that little blue Twitter bird.

Telling a successful story in 140 characters or fewer forces one to engage the reader.

Here’s an example: we all know what a jack-in-the-box is, right?  But how much do you care about them?  What impression do they leave on you?

What if I engage you by allowing you to finish the story?

His store vandalized, the toymaker cleaned in earnest. Stuffing a torn clown doll into an empty tin box, an idea jumped out at him.

Here’s another one:

“Who’s Caligula?” the ballerina asked. “He’s the emperor, daughter.” Unaware of her fate, the ballerina danced among the toppled heads.

I write at least one Twitter-length story every day, and I’ve done it for over two years now.  The practice does a lot of things for me, but being forced to let the reader participate in what I imagine is by far the greatest benefit.

Unlike Japan, the United States is not likely to embrace full-length novels released in tweet-sized bites, nor are the majority of US authors going to copy the Japanese keitai shousetsu-ists by setting aside their laptops in favor of thumb-punching their works on the keypads of their cellular phones; however, it turns out Twitter is more than just a time waster.

In fact, here are three leads for you.  The first two do not require you have a Twitter account—they simply embrace the power and popularity of the Twitter story.  The third does: it’s a call for submissions to a Twitter-zine.  All of these are free opportunities, so what are you waiting for?

Happy Tweeting!

Oh, and feel free to follow me: I’m @Shawn_Writes.


  1. NYC Midnight “Tweet Me A Story” Contest – 1st Round: Thursday, January 13th from 4 PM until 8:59 PM.  Registration Deadline: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 (It’s free to enter, and money is awarded.Click for more details.
  2. The Gotham Writers’ Workshop “What’s the Buzz(Word)” Contest- Entry Deadline: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 9 PM.  (There’s no registration required, and it’s free to enter.  The prize is publication and a 10-week writing course.Click for more details.


  1. 7×20 is an online magazine using Twitter as its publishing platform, for readers at home and on mobile devices.  Submissions are open.

Shawn Hansen is a Web designer, a marketing consultant, and an author.

Make Money As an Author – Part 1: Traditional Publishing

Written By: Bill Walker - Jan• 06•11

Make Money PublishingI was at a networking event a couple of months ago and I was talking to someone about independent publishing and how I believe that independent publishing is the best opportunity for someone to make money as a writer in today’s world. All of a sudden a woman with extensive experience in the traditionally publishing world overheard our conversation and said she strongly disagreed with my opinion. She is of the opinion that the best way to make money as an author is to be traditionally published. Unfortunately, we were not able to finish our conversation so I thought I would write a couple of articles to explain my position. This article is going to cover income potential via traditional publishing.

I should clarify that when I say writer I mean a writer of books, not journalists that get paid to write for news media or for magazines. So for all of you out there wanting to write and publish a book this article is for you.

I know that many people dream about writing the next New York Times’ best seller. While a good dream, the odds are that it is most likely not going to happen. Before you can be a New York Times’ best-selling author you need to get your book into the hands of a traditional publisher and then have that publisher actually publish your book.

Publishers are in the business to make money not to satisfy egos of authors. I know that may sound harsh but it’s true. The most important thing to a traditional publisher is the number of books they can sell. Another important thing a publisher wants, is to sign authors that have many more books inside them that they can later publish. The older you get the more difficult it will be for a publisher to take a chance on you. In the old days publishers knew it was going to take three books to break an author and were willing to invest time and money in a new author. They knew they would lose money on the first two books but then make it all back plus their profit on the third book. Well, publishers want to make money on the first book and make money on the next two as well. What’s changed over the past 20-30 years is that they are no longer willing to lose money on the first two books to make it back on the third book. The first book has to be profitable and it has to be profitable in the first 21-90 days or the publisher will lose interest and move on to the next book in the publishing queue.

Now without a selling platform established in advance your chances of signing a lucrative book deal are practically zero. There may be exceptions to this publishing practice, but for you, a member of the general public; these exceptions will not apply to you.

Did you know that 95% of all traditionally published books sell less than 500 copies? Remember the premise of this article is to earn a living as an author via traditional publishing. Can you really live off of the royalties on the sale of 500 books? Of course not. Not only that but if you only sell 500 copies of your book you will receive no royalties at all.

That’s because royalties are only paid after the publisher recoups their production costs. Those costs include: the advance, editing, interior and exterior layout, etc.

What does all this mean to you? Let’s do the math and see:

Congratulations, John Doe Publisher is going to publish your book. You will be paid a $2500 advance and you will receive an 8% royalty on all books that are sold. John Doe Publisher will own the copyright, publishing and distribution rights of your book.

Okay, now that you have signed the contract what happens next? Well, you’ll be paid the $2500 advance and your book will go into production. This part will take 12 -18 months. This is the time it will take to finish your manuscript (if not already complete) go through editing/re-writes, interior and exterior design (text layout and cover design) and printing and distributing your book.

Unless you’re financially independent or have a spouse or significant other supporting you, you’ll need to keep working your full-time job while your book is going through the publication process and then continue to work while you promote your book after publication.

How much did the publication process cost? I don’t know for sure and I don’t think the big publishers are going to tell me what the author is charged. But I do know how much I charge for preparing a book for print…

  • Editing- These costs vary depending on how much editing you need. My guess is that all books published at the big publishing houses are going to put your book through comprehensive editing – plot, character development, continuity, grammar, spelling, etc. Costs for this service are between $.10 and $.20 per word. If you’ve written a 70,000 word book then editing will cost $7,000-$14,000.
  • Interior Layout- this is how your book will look inside. All the formatting and laying out of the text takes place at this stage of production. The process of preparing your text for print will cost $500 – $1,000.
  • Cover Design - A professionally designed cover is extremely important for the success of any book. Cover design will cost $500 – $1,000.

The total for just these three steps plus your advance is $10,500 – $18,500. That may not seem like much money but if you receive a royalty that is 8% you need to sell 13,125 – 23,125 books just to break even! This is assuming your book’s retail price $10 and you are receiving your royalty of $.80 which is based on the full retail price. However, you are most likely receiving your royalty off of the wholesale price. If the wholesale price is $5.00 your royalty would be $.40, so then to break even requires sales of 26,250 – 46,250 books!

This doesn’t include money to be paid to your agent and any marketing or promoting costs the publisher has incurred. All of which comes out of your royalty income requiring that even more books be sold to break even.

Remember that 95% of traditionally published books sell less than 500 copies. Even if you take an average of the revenue reported by the traditional publishers and using an average sales price of $10.00 per book, divide that by the total books published this results in an average number of sales of about 7,500 books per title.

In this example the total earned and payable to you is $2,500. You don’t break even and the only income you’ve received is your advance. If your goal is to still publish your book via traditional publishing methods then work very hard to create a platform in order to sell your books. Always remember that regardless of publishing method authors sell books!

Part two of this topic will go over the expenses and income potential of independently publishing your book.

If you have experience with traditional publishing and disagree please send me your argument and I will post it.

Author: Bill Walker, Founder of Simplie Indie and Prismatic Publishing