Mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, horror & YA by "Cheryl Kaye Tardif" & romance by "Cherish D'Angelo". Cheryl is represented by Trident Media Group in NY.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

eBookSmarts warning to my author friends!

There is a company called eBookSmarts (.com) run by a fellow named Hassan Shah, and I am appalled at his expectations--and you should be too.

They claim to be able to give you free stats on your books. Sounds okay. I was interested, even though I have other ways of viewing stats. But I have always been open to new ideas, so I thought I'd give them a try.

After finally getting into the site, I went to set up my book info and what did I discover? They actually wanted me to give them my Amazon login info, INCLUDING PASSWORD. WTF???

And you only discover this AFTER you have signed up for their free beta.

When I asked him what "idiot in their right mind" would give him such access, he said "Apparently a couple hundred idiots think our service is worth trying..."


Then he mentioned KDP. So he's asking for either my KDP login info which gives him access to all my personal info like bank account info, including the ability to mess with our publications, pricing and more; or he was asking for my personal Amazon account login info, which gives him access to my personal info and credit card. Really??


Ok, today's rant--over! Maybe...

UPDATE: Jan 25/14:

They sent out a mass email stating: "We are just sending out an email to let everyone know that we have hit a few speed bumps. Not to worry though, we are implementing a new solution to overcome the issues. You may notice a few changes by tomorrow afternoon, but nothing major."

First, I never opted in to any email, nor have I communicated with them via email in the past. I have only communicated with them Facebook. So let's add adding people to a mass email without their permission. Um, that's called SPAMMING! Will wonders never cease...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Guest Post: Essential Proofreading Tips by Nikolas Baron from

Today's special guest is Nikolas Baron, from, and he's sharing some great tips for writers on the importance of proofreading...

Proofreading, or line editing, is an essential skill set that every writer must acquire. Whether it be writing for a blog, a college essay or even a work related email, proofing your work is essential. Day in and day out, I spend my time studying people’s writing for my work at, and it has become apparent to me that most people only afford the minimum amount of time to proofread their work. Granted, it’s been a few years since your last grammar class back in high school, but it is high time the writing world at large become expert proofreaders. Fear not ye intrepid scribes, for I am here to help you! As with most things, becoming an excellent proofreader just takes time and practice.

The first step is to set aside a proper allotment of time to work on proofreading your text. Proofreading takes concentration, which means turning off your cell phones, shutting off the television, and minimizing Reddit. I know it is painful, but you have to do it. All done? Great! Let’s get started.

Below are some easy-to-follow steps to help you on your way:
  1. Read slowly — perhaps the most important step to proofing is to read slowly and read out loud. Saying every word allows you to hear mistakes you might otherwise miss. 
  2. Correct one thing at a time — trying to correct every error in a paper can at times be a bit overwhelming. Instead, try to focus on one type of error. For example, it is easier to find and correct grammatical errors when you are only looking for grammatical errors. In summation, just take your time and be as thorough as possible. 
  3. Highlight punctuation — pro-tip here: highlight every punctuation mark. This forces you to study every mark and determine whether or not it is appropriate. 
  4. Read backwards — start from the very last word of the text. Reading backwards, word by word, is an effective technique to spot and fix spelling errors. It is also an excellent way to isolate sentences. Isolating sentences is an excellent way to give each sentence the attention it needs and expose errors you otherwise might have missed. 
  5. Ask for help — don’t be afraid! Proofreading is a difficult and often tedious process, so it is important to ask for help when you need it! It is never a bad idea either to have a second set of eyes check over your work. 
  6. Look it up — when in doubt, always look it up. You think this sentence needs an extra comma? Look it up. Is that word being used incorrectly? Look it up. Is this en-dash supposed to…yea, you got it. Look it up —a simple but effective practice. 
  7. Use online resources — fortunately enough, you live in the digital age, and that comes with some pretty lofty benefits. For one, there are a multitude of websites that specialize in proofreading. Sites like Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, for example, have a multitude of valuable resources wherein you could learn about grammar and different writing styles. Further, there are now a wide array of online proofreaders that can correct spelling and grammatical errors. One such site is Grammarly—an excellent proofing site that offers more than your average proofing site. Grammarly can even improve the quality of writing by offering input on style, detect plagiarized materials, improve diction and more. Undoubtedly, it is an excellent resource for any writer. 
By following these simple steps, you are already on the road to becoming an excellent proofreader. Just remember, becoming even an adequate proofreader takes time. But surely if you work hard, use every resource available, and learn from your mistakes, you will be a pro in no time.

By Nikolas Baron

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Guest Post: Why Spying on Your Competition is a Great Way to Be Successful

One tip I've passed on to writers is this: Stalk your competition to see what they're doing and mimic those who are successful. Learn from those who are where YOU want to be. I know for a fact that I have a few "stalkers" who follow me around on Facebook and Twitter to see what I'm up to, and I say, "Kudos!" to them. I'm not alone in thinking this way. Today, Penny Sansevieri, discusses why spying on your competition is a GOOD thing...

There’s an old saying that to be successful you have to stop obsessing about the competition. I agree with that to a certain degree, but to not be aware of what other folks in your industry are doing is never a smart idea.

Regardless of what you write or the business you are in, you need to be dialed into the competitive landscape. Knowing what others in your market are doing, writing about, and promoting can be key to your success as well. Not that I would ever encourage copying, but being in tune with your market can be a fantastic idea generator, not to mention it gives you the ability to stay ahead of certain trends that haven’t even surfaced at the consumer level yet.

Many times I see authors, even savvy business people who write books, totally unaware of the market or other books that are out there. I think this is a big mistake. When I was first in business I studied the market, the books as well as other people in the industry. It helps you to also differentiate yourself from them in products, services, and pricing. It’s something I still do to this day. Again, you don’t want to copy, you just want to be aware. Another lesser known reason for doing this is that if you’re struggling with your social media - both from the aspect of what platform to be on to what to say to drive more engagement - keeping these folks on your radar will greatly increase your marketing ideas, too. I’ll expand more on that in the points below.

Living in a vacuum never made anyone successful. Here are some strategies for keeping your ear to the ground when it comes to your market.

Google search: First up is the pretty basic online search of who else is in your industry. If you’re in business you want to know other businesses that are out there. If you’re an author, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, you want to know who else is writing on your topic. Now let me tell you a little secret about this search. The results will not just turn up names and book titles but also show you the best ways to interact with your consumer.

Let me explain. Let’s say you’re searching on the top books on natural healthcare and you find that page one of Google is packed with names of authors who write about this topic. As you begin to compile your list I want you to do one thing: ignore big brands because it’s likely that they can do anything they want and still be successful. If you’re a thriller writer, names like Stephen King and Dean Koontz come to mind. These authors are big, powerful brands. You want the smaller names, the people you may not immediately recognize. Why? Because they have to try harder. If tomorrow King decided to put out a book on poetry, while his fans might be surprised they would likely still buy it. But if a lesser-known author did that they’d look like they have writer-ADD.

So start putting your list together, as you do I want you to sign up for their mailing lists, and follow them on Twitter and any other social media site they use. Aside from the obvious reasons why you want to do this, I’m a big fan of supporting other authors in my market. Share their Facebook updates, retweet their great Twitter posts, etc.

One of the hidden gems of this research is it will also show you what social media sites to be on. If you've been struggling to figure out where your market resides, this exercise should really clear that up for you. Why? Because if you’re plucking names off of the first page of Google you know one thing: whatever they are doing to show up in search, they’re doing it right. Google has made so many changes to their search algorithms that you simply can’t “trick” the system anymore to get onto page one. You have to do all the right things vis-a-vis content and online outreach. Look at their updates. What are they sharing and why? How often do they blog? Are they on LinkedIn instead of Facebook? Is there much going on for them on Pinterest? Really spend some time with this. Not only will it help you tune into your market but it will cut your learning curve by half, if not more.

Bookstore Research:  While I love Amazon, I love our bookstores more. A recent BISAC study indicated that the majority of book awareness came from brick and mortar stores so we really need our bookstores, and, it’s a good indicator of what’s selling in your market. Bookstores typically won’t stock something that isn't going to sell. Go to your genre and look at the shelf. But I want you to pay attention to the names you don’t immediately recognize. Why? Because much like the big brand discussion above, it’s easy for a big name to get shelf space. It’s a lot harder for an unknown to do this unless they have some marketing muscle behind them or a good sales record. Take note of these titles and then buy a few of them. Why? This is part of your research (and I believe it’s always nice to support your fellow author).

What direction did they take with their particular topic and why? How can you improve upon the conversation? What can you say that’s different? Take note of that. It could help you considerably when you’re putting together your book.

News alerts: This is another must. You should get onto sites like and and sign up for news alerts. Both of these sites have the flexibility of getting any update, even Twitter retweets if you want. It’s up to you how deeply you want to dive into the research. But be aware where your competition is appearing. Not only is this a great way to stay tuned in, but keep a log of the blogs they've appeared on or news outlets that have featured them. These places could be targets for you, too. Keeping track of this for future pitching will save you a ton of time.

Reviews:  Now is the time to comb through Amazon and look at the books in your market, but don’t pay attention to the books. Instead I want you to read the reviews. What are readers saying about the books? What do they like, what don’t they like and what would they have wanted more of? Granted, everyone has their own take on a particular topic but if you’re reading through enough reviews you’ll start to see a trend. This may be a trend that has yet to emerge in your market, or it could be a need that has yet to be filled. Could you fill that need with your next book?

Speaking: If the author(s) in question are going to be speaking or signing books at an event or location convenient to you, then by all means go. Again this is a great way to network and get to know other people in your market and it’s also a nice show of support. I mean how would you feel if an industry partner dropped by one of your events? Pretty flattered, right? If the event is a talk, pay close attention to the questions the speaker gets at the end. Why? Audience questions are often the best way to generate new ideas for topics you could blog about, future books, or emerging trends.

Industry events: It used to be that I really didn't feel I could make the time to go to events I wasn't speaking at. I felt that I traveled so much already. I mean make time for another event that wasn't a mandatory attendance? Why? Because good industry events are almost always mandatory. Now I go to as many of them as I can. I’m not always right in my selection but I go and I figure that if I can eke out one piece of wisdom from the event, it was worth my time. Industry events are great places to meet some of the folks you've been following, do some networking and also: learn. I don’t know about you but I find it hard to be successful if I’m not in a constant state of learning.

Spying is a catchy way of saying “do your research and stay tuned in.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mandatory part of being successful. It’s also a great way to build connections. I have great respect for others in my market and I will often recommend much of what they offer to my own readers and customers. Why? Because I've spent a lot of time differentiating myself from them.

Is Facebook your biggest challenge? Then make sure you find Amy Porterfield on Facebook. That girl rocks out on there and she has a ton of great books and programs that will make you a pro in no time. You want to know all there is to know about Google+? Follow Denise Wakeman on G+. She consistently has posts and experts on her page and on her live chats. Does she offer a service? Yes. Could someone hire Amy or Denise instead of me? Sure.

The point is that it’s sort of like the Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street. If you saw that movie you know that he was the Macy’s Santa and would send parents to other stores where they could often find certain toys cheaper. He wanted to be helpful and make sure parents got the best deal possible. In the story it didn't end up putting Macy’s out of business, in fact the exact opposite happened. People flocked there and the recommendations helped build a loyal following. In the end that’s what we all want: a loyal following. This isn’t achieved by keeping blinders on or hoarding information. It’s achieved by learning and sharing.

* * * * *
 Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grammarly, a cool tool for serious writers

I recommend writers use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because being original makes you the best writer you can be.
A while ago, I was introduced to a cool writer's tool, Grammarly. If you're a new writer or an experienced author, here's what Grammarly can do for you:
Grammarly is an automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach. Correct up to 10 times more mistakes than popular word processors.
Instant proofreading
  • Instantly find and correct over 250 types of grammatical mistakes
Context-optimized vocabulary suggestions
  • Improve word choice with context-optimized vocabulary suggestions
Plagiarism detector
  • Avoid plagiarism by checking your texts against over 8 billion web pages
Grammarly has been featured in: Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes and more.

So if you're a serious writer who yearns to improve your skills, check it out at Grammarly can only make you better!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Buying 5-star Amazon reviews--another scam hits the internet!

Warning to my author friends: There is a website selling 5-star Amazon reviews and I suspect they may be connected to another site that has been outing authors for paying for reviews.

When BuyReviewsNow contacted me, I immediately told them:
Jenny, I DO NOT BUY FAKE 5 STAR REVIEWS! Buying reviews is unprofessional and unethical. And more importantly, it is against Amazon’s rules. Anyone supplying reviews to writers and posting them to Amazon should know this. READ THE RULES ON AMAZON! And stop ripping off authors and setting them up. Amazon could strip the author of ALL reviews for this. I will be forwarding your email, complete with header information, on to Amazon.
Her reply was to point out the Zonalert link to the site outing authors (I had been included in the list last year) for buying reviews:
Now this is real funny especially coming from you. www.... (Link to Zonalert deleted as I don't want him to get any traffic.) Go threaten someone else. I am just helping those who deserve.
Wow, not very businesslike of her. It seems highly suspicious to me that she would come back with this kind of reply. Why would she search that link out? Did she know about it already? She was originally trying to get my business, wasn't she?

Update (sorry I forgot to add this part initially): And here was my reply:
First of all, that fake report at that website has been investigated and found to be fraudulent. An investigation was launched by a number of authors mentioned on it. That’s why the idiot who started it hasn’t posted anything new. Get your facts straight.

I have been very vocal about my stand on buying fake reviews. If you knew anything about me, you’d know that.

Amazon has already been notified. All of your clients face having their reviews deleted. Did they deserve that? No! But you’re the one not following the rules. Read Amazon’s guidelines—they’re very clear. “What's not allowed...Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package.”

You’re not helping ANYONE. You’re doing exactly what that website states—providing fake reviews. Hmmm, I wonder now if you’re in kahoots with the ass running zonalert.
I do wonder if she is in kahoots with the guy from Zonalert--and if so, authors beware! He had no proof of his claims, but buying reviews from this site would give him proof.

I believe I have made it clear in the past that I do not, nor will not, pay for fake 5-star reviews.

So if you receive an email from Jenny from, please do yourself a favor and delete it. Buying reviews could lead to Amazon deleting all your reviews, as one sci-fi author discovered a few years ago. It's just not worth it.

Please share this post with your author friends!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Words of inspiration from Cheryl via The Happiness Recipe

Listen to Cheryl's latest interview at The Happiness Recipe:

Then check out the recipe she talks about--Strawberry Dumplings--at