Friday, June 7, 2013

Guest Post: Val Stasik, author of Incidental Daughter

Today, we welcome author Val Stasik who is promoting her book debut novel, Incidental Daughter.  She joins us with a post about writing as a business.

Publisher:Armery & Hallquist Publishing
Date of publication: January 2013

When successful publisher Liz Michaels’ marriage to blue blood, Addison Tiffin Payne, fails after the loss of their baby and his growing alcoholism, she pours all her creative energy and passion into her work and finds comfort in her friendship with the co-owners of her company as well as the appearances of the spirits of her Polish mother and grandmother, who never speak except in dreams she cannot remember. Only her feelings from those dreams linger.

When Liz’s ex-husband plans to stage her suicide by pushing her off the balcony of her high-rise home in order to collect on a life insurance policy, he topples to his death instead. When the police arrive, Liz, the potential victim, becomes the prime murder suspect.

Writing Is Now a Business

It’s no news to us writers that every piece of writing needs some kind of plan no matter how minimal. However, we are fast learning that writing isn’t our only task in getting our work to our readers. Regardless of whether or not we are traditionally published or self-published, we find ourselves charged with more of the work of promoting our books. And we find that going the traditional route doesn’t provide the advertising help that once was common. So, all writers need to think seriously of their writing career as a multifaceted business requiring sound planning. Freelance writers have been doing this from the get go. It’s never too early to plan, even if you haven’t finished your writing, let alone even started it.

Your writing is your product. As such, it must be of the best quality you can produce. Aside from your innate talent and self editing, that quality involves getting good critiques from fellow writers—perhaps in a writing group; having a variety of test readers give you their reactions; hiring a good content editor and a good copy editor; and enlisting the services of a successful book designer. Appearances do count. I keep reading in many different sources that poor editing and cover design turn off readers—and we do want those readers to read our next book, so invest in superior editing and book design.

Whether you are in the early stages of your writing or have a completed, vetted manuscript, develop a business plan. A business plan consists of a realistic timeline from production to sale, source of financing, projected expenses, and projected income based on research. People starting businesses create business plans to obtain financing for their ventures. (However, as far as I know, banks aren’t making loans to finance writers' book publishing ventures.) It’s important to consider if the amount of money you are willing to invest will be covered by the return on book sales. This consideration may determine if you publish traditionally, self-publish, and/or epublish.

You can find examples of business plans on the Internet, at the library, and from the Chamber of Commerce or other community organizations that help people start their own businesses. The expenses of creating your final manuscript will be part of this business plan. It’s important to have a business plan so that you don’t find yourself without funds at a critical point in getting your writing out to the public. Many a phenomenal read has languished for lack of marketing funds.

A marketing plan is a necessary adjunct to your business plan. There is really quite a lot of information on marketing your writing—Penny C. Sansevieri, author of Red Hot Internet Publicity, and  owner of a PR company called Author Marketing Experts, Inc.; Guy Kawasaki’s and Shawn Welch’s book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book ;Brian Jud, another book marketer, has penned How to Make Real Money Selling Books and owns Book Marketing Works;; and writing magazines like The Writer and Writer’s Digest. These and other experts publish a lot of free information on their websites and blogs and also conduct seminars.

Regardless of whether you go with a traditional publisher or self-publish, all experts agree that having a website or blog and engaging in social media like Facebook and Twitter is critical to promoting your work. Following is a brief list of helpful sites:
Your foundation is a well written book in which you are creating a bond between you and your readers; but, regardless of the path you take to publication, you are running a business. Inform yourself and plan well so that your book will reach your audience. In the end, people can’t read your work if they don’t know about it.

About the Author:

Val Stasik shares a home in eternally sunny Santa Fe, NM, with her aging mixed terrier, Sugar, who allows her to sleep in his queen-size bed as well as sharpen her culinary skills for his benefit. Stasik spent many years as a writing teacher, helping other writers find their voice and tell their stories, and is a consultant for the Northern Virginia Writing Project. INCIDENTAL DAUGHTER is Stasik’s debut novel.

Stasik studied drama and English at the University of Pittsburgh and then transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park, graduating with high honors and a B.S. in Secondary Education, Communication. The year she attended graduate school was filled with student protests, bomb threats, and military helicopters.

Stasik became an editorial assistant for THE PHARMACOLOGIST in Bethesda. She then moved to Harpers Ferry where she taught for five years and participated in the Old Opera House Theatre onstage and behind the scenes.

In Harrisburg, PA, she became a groom and mutuels clerk at Penn National Race Track and, later, a commercial lines underwriter for Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company. Right before her son was born, Three Mile Island happened. So far, neither glows in the dark.

In Virginia, Stasik enjoyed the enriching experience of teaching writing and literature in the Loudoun County Public School system, instructed other teachers in assessing student writings, and helped develop various English curricula. She also participated in the Fauquier Community Theatre on and off stage. From 2002-2004, she developed a part-time hypnosis practice. She then retired to Santa Fe where she has been writing—a few film scripts that have been produced (Café Destiny, on the Web,  Spring 2013, and a couple of award-winning play scripts.

Stasik is currently a member of the New Mexico Book Association, the New Mexico Book Co-Op; Southwest Writers; the Independent Book Publishers Association; the Small Publishers’ Association of North America; the Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network; and Pennwriters.

Visit her website at

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