authors, Editing, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Lisa Genova: From self-published author to being thanked on Oscar night.

Still Alice book cover

Still Alice started as self-published book and look where it ended up.

If you have read this blog before, you know I have mentioned Lisa Genova in previous posts.  She is a gifted author in her own right, but her own story is amazing. Recently Kevin Gray wrote about her journey on the Archway Publishing blog. I thought it was a great summation of the path she has traveled from being a first-time, self-published author to having Oscar winner, Julianne Moore, thank Lisa in her acceptance speech. As I have said many times when I speak to writers groups and at publishing conferences; “changes in publishing doesn’t mean everyone will be successful, but it means everyone has the opportunity to be successful”.  I can think of no better example of what that can mean for authors, than Lisa. Enjoy.

Still Alice” author Lisa Genova is living a dream. The night before the 87th Academy Awards, she posted a picture on her Facebook page all smiles, standing next to an ebullient Julianne Moore at a party hosted by Sony Entertainment. It’s an unusual setting for a Harvard-educated neuroscientist, to be sure, but perhaps an equally unlikely place to find a self-published author.

Long before Hollywood parties, celebrity meet and greets or a seat at the Academy Awards; Genova queried publishing’s gatekeepers, seeking a publisher for her novel, “Still Alice.” Agents and publishers alike told the unknown author the audience for a book about Alzheimer’s disease was too small. One agent even cautioned Genova that self-publishing her story would “kill her career.”

Despite that warning, Genova took the plunge and the book in 2007.

Fueled by her dedication to researching dementia and other neurological disorders, Genova tirelessly spread the word about her newly self-published work. Her diligence, and a little bit of luck, resulted in hitting the jackpot: a review in one of America’s top newspapers – The Boston Globe.

Beverley Beckham’s expectations for “Still Alice” were meager, but Alice’s story captured her: “It had arrived in the mail a week before; I’d promised to take a look and that’s all I was doing – just looking–but I couldn’t put it down,” Beckham wrote in her May 16, 2008 review for the Globe. Beckham led her piece with a ringing endorsement: “After I read ‘Still Alice’ I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.’

This blog post first appeared in the Archway Publishing blog.

This blog post first appeared in the Archway Publishing blog.

Fast forward to early 2009 – shortly after Beckham’s piece – a literary agent took another look and agreed to shop the novel and several publishers expressed interest. Simon & Schuster, owner of Archway Publishing, came to terms with Genova to acquire “Still Alice,” and to rerelease it through its Pocket Books imprint. Upon its 2009 rerelease, the book debuted high on the New York Times Bestseller List, where it would stay for more than 40 weeks.

In the ensuing years, Genova’s released two more bestsellers: “Left Neglected” and “Love Anthony,” becoming to novels about neurological disorders what John Grisham’s become to legal thrillers. The rise of Lisa Genova and “Still Alice” from self-publishing to silver screen feature film is not typical. Luck was part of the winning equation, but Genova did so much more to advance her book.

  • She wrote about a specific topic about which she had vast knowledge and a deep personal passion.
  • Despite warnings that her book’s appeal was too narrow, she developed and filled previously unrealized niche.
  • She believed in her work, ignored negativity, and took the self-publishing plunge rather than letting her manuscript gather dust on the shelf.
  • She was relentless. She networked, she spread the word. She convinced a reviewer from a prestigious outlet to glance at her book.

First and foremost though, Genova wrote an exceptional book; a book that is bringing attention and changing perceptions about a devastating condition.

And anyone who reads it will never, ever forget Alice.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing

From book to screen in 8 years: Still Alice movie released this weekend

For those of you follow this blog, you will know I have periodically mentioned the book Still Alice written by Lisa Genova. It was originally self published with iUniverse and then went on to be a best seller in multiple countries for Simon and Schuster. This weekend, it is being released as a major motion picture.  It is a compelling story and I hear there is Oscar buzz for Julianne Moore’s performance. In fact, this past weekend, she won the Golden Globe for best actress.

I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to seeing the movie. Also, I wanted to bring this to your attention because I think it is a great example of  how long it can take for a book to be made into a movie. Still Alice was first released in 2007. Eight years later the movie comes out. Still worth the wait.  Enjoy.

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Author Solutions, Editing, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

3 ways you can use your life experience to help write a great story

You have probably heard the old adage, “write what you know”.  That is great advice for any aspiring author. However, I think too many writers believe those words only apply to factual knowledge when they should actually serve as encouragement to draw on all your sensual experiences for writing. In other words, don’t neglect your remembrance of smells and touch and emotions and particular sounds and dialect. As a writer, you have a vast resource of experiences to draw from to make your writing as good as it can be. Here are three ways you can tap experiences from your past.

Draw from places you have been. Too many writers try to describe locations and scenes that they have never visited. That usually creates a flat or incorrect description of a setting. When you are establishing a scene, take the time to draw upon what you remember from a particular location with all your senses. Use that to bring the scene to life for the reader. Also, be careful if you are writing about a city or geography where you have never traveled. Making up a setting for a fantasy novel is fine, but I would not recommend describing a location from someone else’s description.

Use dialogue and physical description to convey emotion instead of telling the reader how the character feels. Too often first-time writers tell readers what a character is experiencing emotionally, which is not the best way to draw the reader into the life of the character. Writing in that way reads more like a newspaper than a novel. Instead, use dialogue to unveil what the character is feeling or thinking.

One of the best examples I know of personally is the book Still Alice written by Lisa Genova.  This book, which was first self-published by iUniverse, is now a Simon and Schuster title and a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore. The first time I heard Lisa talk about writing the book she explained that she had actually taken acting classes to develop her craft of writing dialogue. It definitely worked. The book, which takes you through the experience of a woman with early onset memory loss, masterfully draws you into what Alice is experiencing. I could not put it down.

…think about all the experiences of your life as a place to look for inspiration. Smells you remember as a child. Time spent with crazy relatives. Car rides with the family.

Visit your past to find things to use today.  When you think about writing, you should think about all the experiences of your life as a place to look for inspiration. Smells you remember as a child. Time spent with crazy relatives. Car rides with the family. Any or all of those may be resources you can draw from to make your writing more interesting.  One author who used her past as motivation for writing a whole book is Virginia Castleman. Virginia self-published her book Strays with Archway Publishing and then was picked up by Simon and Schuster.  In the video below, she talks about how drawing from her childhood challenges gave her the inspiration to write the book.

 

 

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Author Solutions, iuniverse, self publishing, writing

iUniverse celebrates 15 years by recognizing some of their most significant self-published authors


This past month marked the 15th year of iUniverse offering supported self-publishing services to authors. To celebrate the occasion, they recognized some of the most significant authors who have self-published through them.

The list of those authors follows and it is a unique collection. Some have been picked up by traditional publishers. Some have used their iUniverse book to further a cause.  Others have written multiple books and self-published them all with iUniverse.  All together they help illustrate one of the greatest value of the indie publishing revolution. Writers from various backgrounds with a wide range of goals can get their books into the hands of readers.

Still Alice – Lisa Genova
Democracy’s Big Day – Jim Bendat
Lucia’s Survival Guide and Cookbook – Lucille Campilongo
Almost Home; My Life Story Volume 1 – Damien Echols
If I Knew Then– Amy Fisher
Kerosene Cowboys – Randy Arrington
Sounds Like Teen Spirit– Tim English
Life Above and Beyond the Rim 2014 – Joe Courtney 
The Siren
– Kiera Cass
Deadly Powder on Medical Gloves; A Wake-Up Call to the Food and Drug Administration – Robert F. Edlich, MD
24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker: 9-11-01 The White House – Lt. Col. Robert J. Darling
Within Arm’s Reach – Dan Emmett
Why Wait to Be Great – Terry Hawkins
Battleworn: The Memoir of a Combat Medic in Afghanistan– Chantelle Taylor

 

iuniverse15 jpg

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Author Solutions, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Every author has to overcome obstacles to get published, but maybe none as challenging as what Kent Bell faces everyday.

When Kent Bell came into this world on Valentine’s Day in 1965, he was born without arms or legs and was not expected to live till the next day. But like most everything in his life, Kent defied the odds and is now, forty-nine years old.  His most recent accomplishment is becoming a published author.

In his book, Look Ma, No Hands, No Legs Either, he narrates his life story, beginning with being born without arms or legs. Through his  inspiring work, Bell tells what it’s like living and thriving with a disability. From his birth, to moving regularly with his military family, to attending school and college, to accomplishing more in life than an average person, he shares the ups and downs of almost fifty years.

As a first-time published author, he details various exploits and accomplishments. A sports enthusiast, Bell became a scorekeeper for many activities, from Little League to the pros, including being the first disabled person to be an official scorekeeper in the 2004 USA Olympic basketball event. His memoir shows how despite facing insurmountable obstacles to the most simple of activities, he has accomplished amazing things.Look Mom No Hands

In addition to achieving things many people only dream about, Kent has been an advocate to change the laws for people with disabilities.  Through Look Ma, No Hands, No Legs Either,  Bell inspires the reader through his unrelenting display of courage, passion, strength, endurance, integrity, and most of all, a positive attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book selling, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Holding your book for the first time. Hear what it is like from these authors.

In conjunction with the release of its 225,000th title, Author Solutions has released a video titled, Special Delivery: Holding Your Book for the First Time.”. This unique compilation captures a range of authors speaking about what it was like to see a copy of their print book for the first time.

Two of the authors, Donna Schwenk and J. L Witterick were eventually picked up by traditional publishers, Hay House andG.P. Putnam’s Sons respectively, one of the world’s leading trade imprints of Penguin.

If you are still working on your manuscript, I think this video will motivate you to write to the finish.

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Author Solutions, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, self publishing, writing

iUniverse self-published book leads FDA to change law

Not every book has to be a bestseller to be successful. Take the self-published book Deadly Powder on Medical Gloves; A Wake-Up Call to the Food and Drug Administration. It is not a title you will likely see appear on the New York Time bestseller list, but this book has helped change a long-standing law in our land and eliminate a potential health risk to many.

The book, written by  Richard F. Edlich MD. PHD (with Julie A. GarrisDeadly Powderon BS and Heather N. Smith), and self published through iUniverse, draws attention to an important health care matter. In the words of the authors:

 “When medical/surgical gloves were devised, the manufacturer had to provide a powder on the glove surface that enhanced the donning the glove before use.  During the last decade, a wide variety of glove coating surfaces have been developed to eliminate the need of the deadly powder on glove surfaces.  Scientific studies have documented that the deadly powder on gloves increases wound infection, causes adhesions that can compress the bowels, and spreads tumor cells throughout the cavity.  Our book was written to convince all health care professionals to use only powder free gloves. 

After publishing, the authors sent multiple copies of the book to the FDA, along with a petition to have them ban the corn starch powder from all medical and surgical gloves.  On July 3, 2013, they received the following attachment by email from the FDA confirming they were going to ban the powder from all gloves sometime during the next 18 months. 

Extract of the FDA Ruling

 “Title: ●Proposal to Ban Powdered Natural Rubber Latex and Powdered Synthetic Latex Surgeon’s and Patient Examination Gloves 

Abstract: FDA has determined that a subset of surgeon and patient exam gloves that are powdered and that represent a modest share of the market present a substantial risk of illness that cannot be corrected by a change in labeling. These gloves are Powdered Natural Rubber Latex Surgeon’s Gloves, Powdered Synthetic Latex Surgeon’s Gloves, Powdered Natural Rubber Latex Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon’s Glove.

“Consequently, FDA is proposing to ban these devices”.

One of the great things about self publishing is it allows voices who otherwise might not be heard to have a platform. That means there is opportunity to impact people in ways that otherwise would not be possible.  This book is a great example of what can happen when you pursue the goal of publishing.  Congratulations Dr. Erlich for showing us what is possible if you believe in your work.

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