Monday, July 09, 2007


Special Announcement for Book Lovers

Have you ever heard of the WorldeBook Fair? This summer marks the second annual one. From July 4th through August 4th the World Public Library allows free downloads for approximately 620,000 eBook files and 110,000 commercial ones, for a near-total count of 750,000 selections.

Michael S. Hart, cofounder of the fair, states that “The World eBook Fair is a showcase for the range and importance of eBooks for enjoyment, education, research and literacy.” If anyone doubted the possibilities of eBooks in the past, this vast and growing collection alone stands as one reason to delve deeper into the current trends and future possibilities.

What kinds of eBooks line this public library’s virtual shelves? Any type you can imagine that belong in the public domain. The library holds 125 collections that include Classic Literature, Children’s Classics, Science Fiction, Audio Mp3s, Technical eBooks, and Government Printing Office Collections, to name a small sampling. We can find the works of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, and thousands more authors’ works.

At my first free moment, I logged onto the library site and found a classic my inner child still loves--L. Frank Baum’s, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Within a few minutes, I opened the eBook and started to read. I needed only my web browser and a Portable Document Format (PDF) viewer, Adobe Acrobat. The book rests inside my hard drive, and so began my virtual bookshelf.

If you’d like to sample eBooks for free, check it out the Second Annual World eBook Fair.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 18, 2007


New Math Adds Up To FREE Publicity

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson


The new math for free publicity is: E-book + E-gift = Promotion. Oops. Error. Make the answer FREE promotion!

There are three magical concepts to this e-book formula:

1. Accidental
2. Free
3. E-book.

My best promotion ever, a free e-book called COOKING BY THE BOOK, accidentally fell into my lap and it uses all three. I’ll share more about these three promotional potions a bit later.

COOKING BY THE BOOK began when more than two dozen authors from several countries contributed to a book that would be given away free to anyone—as a gift of appreciation to the support teams it takes to write and market a book and to the legions of readers who cook but were probably never exposed to our books. Each invited author had written at least one kitchen scene in his book. Each segment of the cookbook begins with an excerpt from that scene, the recipe comes next and that is followed by a short blurb about the author..

This cookbook e-tool is a cross-pollinator. Each contributing author was to publicize it any way she chose. Participants promised to promote it and not to charge for it. That way each contributor benefited from the efforts, the lists, and the contacts of the other authors. We had some superior promoters among us:

• Most of us set up a page on our websites.
• Contributor Peggy Hazelwood promoted it in her newsletter for book lovers.
• Mary Emma Allen featured it in the columns she writers for New Hampshire dailies, The Citizen and The Union Leader.
• David Leonhardt, ( the happy guy ) author of CLIMB YOUR STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, incorporated the cookbook into a Happiness Game Show he uses in his presentations.
• We gave away coupons for this book at our signings. Because it costs nothing, it can be given to everyone, not just those who purchase a book.
• I use them as thank yous to people who visit my site.
• Some include information on these freebies on the back of business cards and bookmarks.
• I query site editors whenever I run across another place that seems as if our CB Book would interest their audience.

Reviewer JayCe Crawford said, “For a foodie-cum-fiction-freak like me, this cookbook is a dream come true.” That review has popped up in places we didn’t know existed.

Our most startling success came from sources we had no connection to. It was featured in Joan Stewart’s The Publicity Hound, in Writer’s Weekly, on, in the iUniverse newsletter and more. I had the highest rate of interest I’d ever had when I queried radio stations for interviews and that was in competition with a pitch for THIS IS THE PLACE just before the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and an intolerance angle on the same novel right after 9/11.

Wait, we're not through yet. Mother's day invites us to repeat our publicity blitzes every year, because -- if you haven’t noticed -- mothers tend to do lots of cooking. This book was so successful I collaborated with Sarah Mankowski on a similar one called SEASONED GREETINGS for holiday promotional blitzes.

Back to those three magic words:

1. Accidental: I don’t take credit for knowing a good thing when I saw it. What I learned from this experience is to never dismiss something that is placed on your desk without careful consideration-- even if it seems vaguely hokey. I nearly did just that. “E-book indeed,” I said to myself. I was worried that association with this concept might taint my literary works. Hubris can be very self-defeating.

2. Free: This charmed word convinced editors to offer our cookbook as a freebie to their readers. Usually the contributing author who pitched it was privileged with their own promotional site’s URL being used as a link but when some editors chose to place the entire cookbook download on their own sites, we all benefited just the same.

3. E-book: An e-book is easy for readers to obtain. The author need not budget for postage or processing expenses. In the invitations, queries, and releases I sent out, I emphasized a no strings attached attack: I assured everyone that they would not be expected to register to the site, sign up for a newsletter nor purchase a thing. The E-book concept is also important because—though it may not be new to you and me—the media is still infatuated with it.

Here is a fourth magic word. Cookbook. It has universal appeal. You might find something else that works better for you. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar utilizing the subject of genealogy because my novel is based on the stories of my own ancestors--four generations of them. It is not necessary that the freebie be knitted to your primary title; you may benefit by a theme that reaches out, draws in those who might not otherwise be exposed to your work. Your idea may appeal to a narrower audience but niche markets work, too. Everyone loves something that is FREE.

COOKING BY THE BOOK and my other e-books (check out several at my site or at authorscoalitionandredenginepress) are like hospitality gifts. Only better. That's because they promote not only my work, but that of others. Those who are interested in how these work can download a sample at carolynhoward-johnson.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the award-winning This is the Place, Harkening, and Tracings. She is also the author of the How To Do It Frugally series including The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t, the winner of USA Book News' Best Professional Book 2004 and the Irwin Award and the soon-to-be-released The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Frugal is available in a full 248 p. e-book format at and in paperback at The author was honored by members of the California Legislature as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment and was named outstanding woman of the San Gabriel Valley in California for her "literary activism" by the Pasadena Weekly. She is the founder of Authors' Coalition Find the subject of this article, Cooking by the Book, along with other cookbooks and a book of inspiration for writers FREE at this URL:

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Interview with Kathryn Vercillo of MoKa House Writers

MoKa House is a media company that provides freelance writing services to both individuals and businesses. We make use of the diverse talents of our pool of freelance writers and our own skills as writer-editors to craft the perfect message for furthering the creative and professional endeavors of others.

WOW: Kathryn, how did you start MoKa House Writers?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Kathryn Vercillo)

KV: MoKa House was one of those things that happened slowly and then suddenly. As a freelance writer, I had always thought that collaborating with other writers would be an excellent way to provide better services to my clients, but I wasn’t quite sure how to make that happen. Then I met Moniqua. In our first ever conversation, we tossed around our individual ideas for eventually starting a writing company. We’re both highly driven women who do more than we talk about doing, so the next thing we knew we were running a company together.

WOW: That's funny you should say that, because it sounds quite familiar! (Like a WOW! story) Can you tell us about the kinds of services that MoKa House provides?

KV: We provide freelance writing services of all kinds to both individuals and businesses. This includes professional, creative and academic writing and editing services. Specifically, our services include writing of newsletters, articles, web content, business plans, artist bios, reviews, e-books, and business profiles.

WOW: That's quite impressive. You seem to cover the full spectrum of freelance writing. What makes your company unique?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Moniqua Lane)

KV: The two of us have very different writing backgrounds, so we are able to apply our experiences in order to oversee a wide range of different projects. Additionally, we employ a staff of approximately forty writers who all have different types of experience. This means that we have the ability to select a writer with appropriate experience for each project, providing our clients with a professional writer who has knowledge in their field. For the client, this is different from working with an individual freelance writer who may have general writing skills but may lack the specific knowledge required to best complete the requested work. Additionally, working with a company (as opposed to working with an individual) offers the client a stronger guarantee of professional quality.

WOW: That's wonderful that you're employing writers from various avenues, which in turn, lends the most qualified writer for your clients' project. What are some of the recent projects your company has been involved in?

KV: It seems like we’re always working on something different which is one of the things which we both love about this industry. It gives us a chance to apply our past experiences to broadening our horizons on a regular basis. Some of our recent projects have included travel advice columns for foreign country travel, profiles of up-and-coming musicians, real estate articles, and a series of technical internet blogs.

WOW: How diverse! Kathryn, I read somewhere that you created a unique non-profit quarterly magazine for inmates. What a revolutionary idea! Can you tell our readers what the magazine is about, and how the idea was conceived?

KV: In 1999, I started a small (now-defunct) non-profit organization called Create Me Free which was based upon the idea that creative self-expression can lead to both individual and societal growth. I worked with incarcerated artists and writers, using creativity to foster change. The literary magazine, which was published from 1999 – 2003, published the completed works and works-in-progress of those individuals involved in the program. Although Create Me Free is no longer an active organization, I do hope to eventually return to this type of non-profit work which would ideally be focused on forming a similar program for incarcerated youth.

WOW: That's an inspirational idea, and a needed one. Your heart shines through in your caring for others.

Speaking of others, you and your partner Moniqua Lane apparently work very well together. I'm always interested in women who collaborate on a higher level. There seems to be a real supportive energy that makes a business work...

KV: We were really lucky to find one another, because our backgrounds are very different but we seem to have nearly all of the same goals. We compliment each other really well. It seems that nearly everything that I don’t know how to do is something that she has experience with and vice versa. Additionally, our work processes are different so we balance each other out really well. It’s a benefit to our clients, because we double-check each other’s work so that they get the best of each of us. And it’s beneficial for us because we challenge each other to develop new skills while supporting each other in doing so.

WOW: There seems to be a fabulous balance between the two of you, yet I'm sure, considering your diverse backgrounds, there are different projects you would most like to take on. Could you tell us what kinds of projects you're interested in?

KV: I, personally, prefer projects which allow me to work with creative professionals in other fields. Music journalism and working with artists to create bios and press releases are areas which interest me because I believe that they allow me to use my talents to help further the creative talents of other individuals. I place a lot of emphasis on developing creative connections. Alternatively, Moniqua prefers projects that allow her to make use of her legal background. She enjoys making arcane aspects of the law accessible to the average reader. We are lucky to have a staff of excellent writers which means that we are each able to develop these areas for ourselves while providing our clients with the services of professionals whose areas of interest and expertise differ from our own.

WOW: After you decide to take on a project, what comes next?

KV: We work with the client to identify his or her exact needs and goals. This allows us to determine which one of us is best suited to overseeing the project. From there, we can determine which writer or writers may be most qualified to complete the project. We work closely with the writer to make sure that the work meets the client’s specifications.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a very 'hands-on' approach. How do you manage to maintain this ongoing working relationship with your client?

KV: We believe that regular, clear communication is the most effective method of maintaining a positive working relationship with our clients. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration and truly enjoy working to help our clients further their own endeavors, and I feel like that genuine interest in their work comes through in all that we do, encouraging continued partnerships over time.

WOW: Do you think attorneys should use freelance writers, and if so, why?

KV: Moniqua tells this story about how on her first day working for a large firm her supervising attorney told her to do as little writing as possible because she was not being paid to write. She says that what she came to realize was that attorneys are paid to know the law and use that knowledge to further their clients’ interests. Writing is an important part of that, but there is a lot of writing that attorneys do that is incidental to that – a lot of marketing and non-legal writing. Moniqua thinks that this is the kind of writing that attorneys can, and often do, hand off to freelance writers. She thinks, though, that for ethical reasons and for the sake of writing quality, it is best for attorneys to have non-practicing lawyers do their hired writing. She says there are lots of them out there like her, so it should be no problem to find one.

WOW: I think everyone could use a freelance writer like Moniqua! That's wonderful that she has that background to bring to the table. (Moniqua, we'll be in touch!)

The two of you sound like an unstoppable team, I'm sure all of our readers would love to know what you're working on right now, either personally, or for your company.

KV: Personally, I’m working on a number of small projects related to music journalism, including collaboration with several local musical artists in the development of online promotional content. I’m also collaborating with my brother (an artist and business owner in Los Angeles) in the development of a magazine relevant to the work that he is doing. Furthermore, I’m in the process of completing a book entitled Ghosts of San Francisco which is to be followed by a book about ghosts specific to Alcatraz Island.

Moniqua is working on a real estate practices book, answering user-submitted questions about real estate and finance at a mortgage lenders’ portal, and researching trends and breaking news in digital music for a daily digital music news journal out of England. Moniqua also maintains a small legal practice focusing on tax and estate planning and real estate law.

Together, Moniqua and I are collaborating on several small creative endeavors, with particular emphasis on writing pro-female erotica which supports the sexuality of women within a framework of diverse situations.

As a company, MoKa House is branching out in to a number of different areas. We are working on a two-pronged approach to immediate development, expanding our client base to include both more creative work and more business-professional work.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! Where would you like to see MoKa House in the future?

KV: The short-term goals for MoKa House continue the aforementioned two-prong development approach. On my end, I want MoKa House to be providing more direct services for artists and musicians, working closely with emerging artists to assist them in furthering their goals as they grow in popularity. On Moniqua’s side, MoKa House is looking in to expanding our options for improved services to our corporate clients as well as for involvement in regular work with government contract writing.

Within the company, we want to see increased opportunity for our writers to expand their own opportunities. MoKa House operates on the core belief that following our own inspiration in collaborative efforts leads to overall success for all people involved in a project. It is our goal to work with our writers in assisting them to develop the skills they each would like to develop in order to improve their writing careers as well as to offer improved services to our clients. We would like to see some of our high-level writers eventually overseeing and editing for other staff members.

As far as long-term goals, we have discussed the possibility of eventually opening a publishing arm for the company. We would be interested in being involved in more creative works and I would like to see development of a non-profit area for the company. However, we’re open to seeing where things go from here. I have always worked through a process which combines drive and motivation with a willingness to take chances as they are presented to me. This is what allowed Moniqua and I to immediately recognize the opportunity to work with another and I believe it is what will continue to allow MoKa House to succeed.

WOW: I don't doubt that one bit. I'm sure you two will go far.

Thank you so much Kathryn for sharing your inspirational story with our readers. I'm sure they'll all want to visit MoKa House and check out the wonderful services you provide!

SPECIAL PROMOTION: (You won't want to miss!) MoKa House is happy to offer 10% OFF of their standard rates to anyone who mentions reading this interview.

Additionally, MoKa House is always happy to consider website link exchange with other creative and professional people.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,