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Jamie Jo Hoang - Author & World Traveler

Tag: Blue Sun Yellow Sky

High Marks from the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Writer's Digest Award Logo

I just received my scores from the judges and BLUE SUN, YELLOW SKY received a honorable mention with 5/5 in all 5 categories of the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Honestly, I am so blown away and humbled by the support of my fellow writer’s and writing community. This entire journey with my little book has been enlightening as well as educational. I spent the last decade reading articles on Writer’s Digest and admiring other writer’s who had the courage to write a book and then release it to the world and I’m so happy to be able to call them my colleagues now!

I wrote my first article for Writer’s Digest this past year thanks to the wonderful Chuck Sambuchino who contacted me after reading a review of BLUE SUN, YELLOW SKY in Kirkus Magazine, and I hope to ingratiate myself into the Writer’s Digest community even more in the coming years.

For all new and emerging writer’s you probably know this already, but there is a wealth of FREE information on Writer’s Digest and if you take the time to read the articles, it’ll save you a lot of time, headache and money, down the line when you’re ready to publish.

Anyway I’m blabbing because I’m just so excited about the judge’s commentary, so without further ado here it is:

Entry Title Blue Sun, Yellow Sky

Author: Jamie Jo Hoang

Judge Number: 63

Entry Category: Mainstream/Literary Fiction

 

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

 

Judge’s Commentary*:

In Blue Sun, Yellow Sky by Jamie Jo Hoang, we are presented with an interesting premise that builds emotional tension as the pages turn and we fall more in love with a character, and a situation, that is fated to change as the novel progresses.

The title seems brilliant, a great way to hook the reader in and get them asking questions. The book is structured well with chapters that are nicely paced, with enough meat to make them satisfying but not so ponderous as to make it difficult to keep track of the narrative as it develops. The overall design of the book is professional and first rate, while the cover image for the book is evocative and interesting. I particularly like the title font as a way of conveying theme and tone.

The characters here are fully realized, vivid and alive, and often do surprising things—or do/say things that are very human, which can be rare. I especially like Aubrey, who seems able to keep her head and her emotions in tact, all while dealing with a situation that might cripple other people. Instead, she reminds us of the lively nature of living a life well.

Amazon

Note from Writer’s Digest: *If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of the review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.

Note from me: Please, please, please, share with anyone you know who might be interested in reading the book! Sharing is caring =)

 

Why Book Trailers Matter

Making a book trailer is no easy feat, but to stay competitive in a highly saturated book market it needs to be done. Recently, Tara Lynne Groth of Write Naked found my book trailer on Google+ and contacted me about doing a interview. And afterwards, guess what? SHE BOUGHT THE BOOK!

Check out the full interview on Write Naked! 

Book marketing is a beast of a job and after 4 months of just trying everything–though I still couldn’t tell you the best way to go about it–I did learn a few things:

When you don’t have money for advertising it’s very hard to compete on the internet for face time with readers, but if you take on a mass approach and understand that you may only reach one person a day, that’s 365 people in a year, plus everyone they’ll tell if they think your book is great. Which they will.

In the fast paced world we live in, Tweets come and go in the blink of an eye, and most people just scroll through the vast majority of them. But readers are a great bunch of people, and if you can get your work in front of them they’ll market it for you. Word-of-mouth is still the best way to promote your books.

So where does the book trailer come in? Well, having a 1 minute visual reel to show people make it easier for your readers to quickly show their friends how awesome your book is.

A quick google search for “The Best Book Trailer” turned up this page. 

The site has A LOT of great book trailers, BUT the vast majority of them are national bestseller books, which means someone paid quite a bit of money to create it.

If you’re like me and don’t have the cash, you’re job is a little harder. You need to think outside the box and come up with a creative way to showcase what you’re book is about using the tools at your disposal. If you have technical friends or creative friends ask them to help you. Just pulling images off of google searches and adding title cards is a bad idea. First of all, you don’t own the rights to those photos, so it could come back and bite you in the ass.

I’m not an expert on how to create an amazing book trailer so I won’t go into that here but what I will say is this: know your audience. Think about the kinds of movies they go to see and look up the movie trailers to get ideas.

Imagine yourself as a customer and think about how much more effective it is to meet the author when considering the purchase of a book! Then buckle down and do a short interview/intro for your book trailer. Don’t make it too long 10-15 seconds tops and then move on to what you’re book is about.

Don’t forget to add purchase links at the end so people know where to buy your amazing book!

My book trailer was based off the trailer for WILD, starring Reese Witherspoon. Since I of course didn’t have a budget with which to hire a multi-million dollar actress and fly all around the world, I decided to make it an homage to pop-up books which I loved reading as a kid.

 

I wrote a book. Now what?

Found this while searching the internet for "Book Manuscript" images and couldn't help imagining my own words immortalized in a museum this way.

Unfortunately, this is not my book. It’s Charlotte Bronte’s unpublished manuscript which sold at auction recently for £690,850!

Three years ago when I left for Houston on an epic journey to become a “real writer” I never imagined that I’d actually become one. At the very least, I feel like one. I spent the first three months pumping out the “shitty first draft” and another two years and nine months turning that sucker into a real book. So now, here I am with a finished novel at 80,000 words and no idea what do with it.

There are a million articles online that advocate for self-publishing. Classes are taught on how to do it, self-published millionaire authors write about it, and everyone, it seems, has an opinion about it. Publishers hate and indie authors love it, but here’s the kicker: It’s all still very new.

Yes– I would love to jump on the Kindle bandwagon and make upwards of a million dollars as a self-published author, but what does this mean for the industry itself? Is it really better? I’m not sure.

Publishers on the other hand, want us to believe that the Kindle is the devil. That Amazon is driving the prices of books down and that the monopoly they have on the market isn’t good for anyone.

The data and statistics are sketchy at best so what’s a new author supposed to do? Research.

Just as every book has it’s own journey into creation, so too, does it have it’s own journey into publication, so this blog is by no means the right way to do anything. It’s simply how I’m going about it. (Check back in a few years to see if it worked)

So, first up…Querying.

Trust me when I say I would have loved to skip this part. Writing the Query Letter and Synopsis were torturous. If things were still handwritten I’d be sitting in a room waist deep in crumpled up papers. Lucky for me, they all just went into an electronic trash bin on my Mac computer’s desktop. Alas, I did it because I felt like not doing it would have been like trying to cut corners. These are the references I used as guidelines:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-10-dos-and-donts-of-writing-a-query-letter

How to Format an Email Query for Literary Agents

Then after spending a month writing and rewriting my query letter, with numerous comments and critiques from other writers, I started to make my list. Using a simple Excel spreadsheet I created my list which looked like this [All of this info can be found using a simple Google search, so do your research!]:

BSYS Query List

BSYS Query List

Once I had my list, I began e-mailing five to seven agents a day. When I received a rejection I marked it and so on and so forth. Because most agents ask to be notified if you have been picked up by an agent, this is a good way to keep track of who you solicited.

Then…I wait. Ten minutes, nothing. Eleven minutes, a light tapping of my impatient foot begins. Twelve minutes, I realize I need to leave my house before I self-destruct.

Next day: My first rejection. To be honest it wasn’t all that bad. It’s a bit like friendly hazing before they let you join a sorority. Everyone has to suffer through it. The way I see it, the more rejections I collect, the closer I get to finding an agent. So tomorrow I’ll research five more and repeat until successful.

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