Happy Memorial Day

Hey everyone, this week I'm taking a little blogging break...but I'll leave you with this.

We have freedom because of all the people who died fighting for it.  Freedom has a cost.


How to Prepare for a Writers Conference

It's writer's conference season!!!  It's also summer, which means no school.  What does that mean?  Writer's conference prep!  Sadly, I won't be attending any conferences this year, but here is how you can prepare (because your first time can be very scary).

1. Plan ahead.  Pace yourself.

Don't procrastinate all of this stuff until the week before the conference.  Start planning now!

2. If you are planning on pitching, research the publishers at the conference and prepare your pitch!

Here are some great resources:

Also, the conference I went to did a series of blog posts where an agent/publisher said what an author should bring to a pitch session.  This was very helpful!  (And even if the publisher only requires the first few pages, bring at least the entire first chapter.  They may ask for more!)

3. If you aren't pitching, still prepare an elevator pitch.

"What's your book about?" is a common question at writers conferences, from authors, publishers, agents, and vendors.  People want to know!  It's much better to have a plan than scream, run for the bathroom, or hastily change the subject.

For tips on how to write an elevator pitch, I highly recommend this link:


4. Bring a notebook, pen, or something to take notes with.

You're in a bunch of amazing classes, TAKE NOTES!  Even if you hate taking notes, DO IT.

5. Bring spending money.

There's most likely going to be a bookstore featuring authors attending the conference.  That means...signed books!  And books in general.  Yes, spending money is a must.

6. Learn to like coffee, tea, or anything caffeinated.

Writer's conference = no sleep

7. Bring a camera.

You're going to meet a ton of new writer friends!  Pictures are a must!

8. Prepare to socialize.

Last year, I went to Realm Makers with the goal of meeting as many people as possible.  Suddenly, I became an extrovert and actually started conversations.  One time, I started talking to Patrick Carr's wife without knowing who she was.  Then I looked at her name tag...

9. Make business cards with your contact info on it.

Your new friends are going to want to keep in contact with you/follow your social media!  Make it easy for them!

Have you ever been to a writer's conference before?  Are you going to one this year?  What are some of your tips for a newbie conference goer?


Why Great Book Covers are as Important as Quality Writing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a survey.  Many people said they enjoyed my posts on cover design, so here's another one.  (The last one for a while, I promise.)

We've all seen those covers--the covers that look like they were designed using Microsoft word.  They can come from the authors (who even write incredible books!) and "professional" designers.  Maybe you are one of those authors.  (I'm totally not trying to make you feel bad, I'm trying to help.)  Here are 5 reasons why a quality book cover is as important as quality writing.

One person who took the survey said:

"I've never been able to pick what it is that gives it away, but 82.857% of the time self-published books can be spotted by their covers?"

If a book cover looks self-published:

1. People probably aren't going to take the book seriously.

No matter how much popularity self-publishing has gained in the past few years, many readers still think it's the "easy way out".

2. People probably aren't going to want to market your book because it doesn't look like a "real book".

Have you ever read a series that was so good you couldn't shut up about it?  I know I have (*cough*Out of Time Series*cough*).  Whenever I love a book, I blast my praise for it everywhere.  Twitter.  Goodreads.  Right here.  Still using the Out of Time Series as my example, the books look legit.  They look like books you could pick up at Barnes and Noble.  I don't feel weird about promoting the books because I don't have to put a side note in the promotion that says "trust me, this is actually a fantastic book."

3. People probably aren't going to flail and fangirl over the cover.

Yes, I'm one of those shallow bookworms who will be interested in a book simply because its cover belongs in an art museum.

4. People will probably be hesitant to take a chance on the book.

(Yes, I realize that this point is like point #1, but it's SUPER IMPORTANT and needs reiterating.)
Money is a factor of life, so I probably won't buy a book if it doesn't look good (both visually and conceptually).  But, if a book is pretty and doesn't look like the author self-published it, I'm more likely to take a chance on it.

5. Sometimes a great elevator pitch just doesn't cut it.

Sometimes having a fabulous elevator pitch can sell people on a book, but when they look it up on Amazon and see the not-so-great cover, they might not buy the book.

This all comes down to one solution: 

If you plan on self-publishing your book, save up some money and invest in a quality cover designer.

If you've already self-published your book, it's not too late to change the cover!

Here are some ways you can find a quality designer:

- Ask other self-published authors (whose covers are professional-looking) who they used.
- Ask small presses what designer they use.
- Find an artist you like.

And remember that when you publish a book, you aren't writing for yourself anymore, you're writing for the lovely people who are going to buy it.  Think about that same thing as you go through the design process.

Have you ever passed up buying a book because of the cover?  Who are some of your favorite cover designers (any recommendations)?


Dear Younger Me: Never Give Up

Dear Younger Me,

I know that right now, you probably want to give up.  You want to trash that manuscript, burn it with fire.  It's not good enough and it never will be.  And you're right...if you give up.  Keep pressing on because one day, someone is going to look at your writing and say, "You should publish that."  So, Younger Me, stay strong.

Keep pressing on.  Keep writing.  Keep revising.  Keep polishing.  Keep querying.

One day, it will all be worth it.  Your writing will touch someone.  Your writing will bring light to the darkness.  Your writing will be good enough.


Alea Harper


2017 Survey + Ask Me Questions! (Don't let me do a Q+A video with no questions.)

I'm very sorry for not posting last week.  In my defense, I was in a play last Saturday and Sunday which took the afternoon/evenings.

Yes, you saw right.  I'm going to do a Q + A video.  You can ask questions at the end of this nifty survey.

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