What I Have Learned as an Author

This past week, I stepped out of my usual routine and participated in a book event, The Author Expo at the Dekalb County Public Library in Tucker. At first, I was a bit wary about doing so because of my past experiences with book events. As an author, I have always believed that my goal was just to sell books. That was the attitude I have carried since my first release in 2009. Not that I was entirely off, but what I had failed to grasp was the importance of networking and meeting people face to face. Over the years, I have blogged off and on, hung out on social media way too much, and half-heartedly sought a book club here and there. In hindsight, it wasn’t all about my commitment to selling books, it was more about my lack of knowing what to do.

I am not writing this article because I now have all the answers and I am going to shout what I do know about selling training or eBooks or anything else. I am writing this article because I don’t want other writers and authors to feel left out. As I listen to and read the gurus out there, I have come to realize a couple of things about marketing my writing. One, the best audience is your live audience. Start with those who you can touch and who can touch you, then branch out from there. When I say branch out, I mean choose your venues carefully, but choose. Get out, especially from behind your computer on social media, and in front of people. Engage. Book events are good for that. Even if the foot traffic is low, you will still have a room filled with potential readers and collaborators, the other authors.

Don’t despair though. When I first started out, I spent thousands of dollars on book events and their associated costs. That first year, I attended five events from Atlanta to Houston. My hard-earned dollars were spent on booths, books, airfare, hotels, food, transportation, and shipping. At each event, I averaged the sale of about 10 books. So, you get why I quit doing book events unless they were free. I gave up, threw my hands up until another two years past and I wrote another book. This time, it was more blogs, more social media, launch parties, and book clubs. The momentum for my books was picking up, but so was my nine-to-five. One of them had to go. I dropped the books. After all, I had convinced myself it was a fairy tale. So, what has changed since then? What was the second thing I finally realized? Commitment.

Real commitment. In addition to learning that face to face is as important as a daily post on Facebook or a robust email list, I have realized nothing will work unless you work it. You must stay focused on the results you visualize. And yes, a healthy email list is a plus, but a little voice inside my mind keeps asking, “Does Stephen King have an email list?” At least, I am not on it. And when I open my email, I think I am on everybody’s list. I could spend the day unsubscribing and still have a full box in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking emails. HINT: Please subscribe to my newsletter by giving me your email. I promise I won’t inundate your mailbox. Just saying. However, in addition to subscribing, whether you are a reader, an author, or someone only interested in “Living Life One Story at a Time,” drop a comment to say hi. If I am at an event near you, stop by and say hi. Let’s meet and greet.

But, this advice is not just something to keep in mind for selling books. In today’s society, we need to become more organic, more aware that each of us is human, with feelings, dreams, and goals. Go share those over a cup of coffee, at a book event, or any event where humans are there. And I implore each of you reading this blog, commit to something whether it is to become the bestselling author or the best mom in the world. Commit. Stay Focused. Smile and Say Hello to another human. Let’s continue to keep Living Life One Story at a Time in the best way possible.


Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to LIVING LIFE ONE STORY AT A TIME. All three novels in The Sperling Chronicles, Dreams Thrown Away, Split Images, and No Tears for Dead Men, are now available in Print at most online retailers and on Kindle.

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Dreams Thrown Away ~ The Sperling Chronicles by Dilsa Saunders Bailey

Woke up this sunny Sunday morning after a long day at a book event yesterday to this wonderful review. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

YOURBOOKREVIEWSBYMISSCSOLO

dream_thrown_6x9-perfectebookDreams.  Dreams are a series of thoughts, images or emotions that occur while sleeping.  Having daydreams is something that is pleasurable for you while you are awake.  Most of us dream about what our lives would be like when we get older or what we want to be/want to do in life.  Whenever you hear someone say “I’m living the dream”, the things they thought about when they were younger is happening for them now.  Is it possible to live the dream or is the best we can do is hope for the best?

Kalina Denise Harris is a young girl with a lot of big dreams.  Kalina comes from a small town but she has big city dreams, and she can’t wait to leave this small town behind!  Kalina has dreams of going to a big college and leaving all of the sadness that she has to endure living…

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DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 2)

GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA returns to explain the different roles of different editors.

So, you know you need an editor but what kind of editor do you need? After reading an excerpt of your manuscript or, sometimes, the entire manuscript, an editor will prescribe the process necessary. That prescription will be based on how close your manuscript is to a finished product. If you have a manuscript you want to submit to a small publishing company or to a potential agent (a necessary step if you’re going to approach a major publishing company), look for an editor who wears more than one hat, someone who does content or substantive editing and copy editing.

What is Content or Substantive Editing?

Fiction or nonfiction, a manuscript must be organized in a way that makes sense to the reader and tells the story you want to tell or delivers the information you want the reader to get. You know what you want to say, you know what you expect the reader to get from your book but, unless it is organized well, your readers can get lost. If they do, not only will they lose interest, but you will lose an opportunity for future readers.

A content editor will flag rough patches during a cursory read of your manuscript and will suggest a reorganization that will make sense to the reader and help your content emerge to its best advantage. This process may require shifting paragraphs around, deleting distracting text and/or writing additional text. Organization can get muddled, and narrative threads can get tangled if not lost altogether, when you’ve written several drafts. Among other potential landmines:

  • Does your narrative proceed logically?
  • Are your fictional characters developed enough to seem real and are distinct enough to the reader to tell one from the other?
  • If you are writing a sequel to an earlier book, did a character you killed off in Book 1 show up again in Book 2?

Editing can get pricey. If you are concerned about cost (and who isn’t!), consider choosing several individuals whom you believe to be your potential audience to read your manuscript before you submit it to an editor. They may not catch everything but, at least, you’ll have an opportunity to address glaring trouble spots before the submission.

What is Copy Editing?

When new writers think of editing, they think of copy editing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, incorrect word usage, consistency, and typos, although the latter is usually considered the purview of proofreading.

  • Do you confuse the meaning of some words, like capital/capitol, peak/peek, eminent/imminent? Are your participles dangling?
  • Did your character ask a question but there is no question mark?
  • Did you capitalize a word on one page but not on some others?
  • You named the main character’s sister named “Deena” at the beginning of your novel, but you changed it in a rewritten later chapter because it sounded too close to the name of another character, “Dinah.” You renamed the sister, “Sara,” but forgot to change the name in the earlier chapters.

Even though the process is not considered “copy editing,” your editor will also make suggestions about changes in style to help you present a clear narrative that flows well and moves forward. This is line editing and addresses issues like redundancy; over-use of a word or phrase; sentences/paragraphs that are too long or are overloaded with difficult vocabulary; and the occurrence of too many clichés.

The editing process at a publishing house is more specialized than what is outlined above but, first, you have to get your foot in the door. The point of all this is for the writer and the manuscript to be presented in the best light to interest an agent and a publisher.


Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 1)

INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA as she explains why as a writer you need an editor!

You have read and reread your story over and over again. You are certain your piece is perfect ⸺ after all, you’ve practically memorized it word for word! And that’s the problem: You have been “living” with the material for who knows how long and you read what you expect to see, not necessarily what is on the page. Another pair of eyes will be more likely to spot something you missed.

And this is only one reason why another pair of eyes is invaluable.

All writers have their little quirks, those style peculiarities which show up in everything they write. One writer will start off 80% of his sentences in one paragraph exactly the same way. Another will use the same trite phrases over and over. And a third writer, no matter how many times you remind her, still forgets to put her ending quote mark outside the period. Regardless of the type and degree of the error, every writer wants to present the best work possible, not only to interest an agent or a publishing company but, also, to satisfy the reader enough to return to pick up the next book.

You may think you are ready for publication but, surprise, surprise, maybe you aren’t quite ready at all. The question you have to ask yourself is not “Do I need an editor?” but what kind of editor do I need? The answer: it depends on the condition of your manuscript. A prospective editor who requests sample pages to read first will be able to tell you what kind of editing you will need, about how long it may take and how much it will probably cost.

Manuscript editing falls into these two categories, generally: copy editing and content editing, although there are others. See next week’s Blog about the editing process.

Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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simplydilsa NEWSLETTER – August 6, 2018

Subject: Hello Again❤

Living Life One Story at a Time
INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND FELLOW BOOKPRENEUR-PAULINE MANSFIELD as she shares her experiences “Living Life One Story at a Time.” Twenty years ago, I never imagined that I would ever call myself a writer; the first time I said those words out loud, “I am a writer,” it was a very weird feeling because it took a while for me to really to believe that I was worthy of claiming that title. Read More…
ARE YOU AFRAID OF PUBLIC SPEAKING?  Are you afraid to speak in public? Writers, if you want to promote your books, here’s a great place to find your voice and to hone your writing skills. Read A Toastmaster’s Tale»
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Author-Dilsa Saunders Bailey
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‘simplydilsa’
Help!! Book Reviewers NEEDED!
Just received an email from a friend whose friend had taken “Dreams Thrown Away” on vacation. Her friend’s husband called to scold her for recommending the book. It seems The Sperlings blocked his quality time with his wife. The whole time they were away, she sat on the beach with the book. It seems “Kali strikes again.” I hope she takes time to give the book a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Hope you will, too.

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October 27, 2018

A TOASTMASTER’S TALE

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Enid rapidly tapped her right foot under the table. It was one of her long list of bad habits she needed to learn to control, but no matter how hard she tried, that foot would not stop. Why? Because she was nervous and the promotion she had dreamed of was just within her grasp. All she had to do was to survive this conference. Much to her surprise, she was ready. As she waited for her introduction, she remembered how the air had been knocked out her, literally, when her boss asked if she could stand in for her and speak. Enid had nodded yes, smiled, and ran straight to the ladies’ room to throw up. What had she agreed to do? Of all the things Enid knew that frightened her, the main one was to speak up or speak period. In public, it would be a nightmare come true. Between her mother patting Enid’s knee to keep her foot from tapping the floor to her father opening her mouth to see if there was a tongue residing there, Enid knew with all her heart that she could not do it, neither speak up in front of people she didn’t know nor even the ones she knew.

Greta noticed Enid had moved timidly back to her desk as if someone had given her the worse news in the world. The poor girl was talented and very intelligent. She could write the best suggestions in the world, complete the best-written drafts of policies, and even had other employees looking forward to the once dull company newsletter. But getting her to speak more than two or three words was a daunting challenge. One that most of her fellow employees had given up on which made Enid seem like a loner of sorts. The pain of watching her shrink away into her cubicle almost hurt. Not that Greta had been the most talkative in her early corporate years, she could at least hold a conversation and wasn’t afraid of the higher-ups, but back then she was acutely scared to speak in meetings. Greta’s greatest fear was of saying the wrong thing in the wrong way, not like Enid who was fearful of everything and everybody except her computer.

“Enid, could you come into my office a minute?” Greta had asked as she walked out of her office and called to Enid. The look of fear surfaced in Enid’s eyes. Greta smiled hoping that would calm her a bit, but the jilted way Enid removed herself from her chair made her realize the smile had failed to soothe her.

“Have a seat,” Greta pointed to the chair across from her desk. Enid sat down, and her knee started pumping.

“You are okay with speaking at the conference next month?” Greta had asked.

“Hmmmmm. Yes,” Enid nodded, her eyes appearing teary.

“You have six weeks to rehearse,” Greta offered. “I’m sure you are going to wow the crowd. And don’t worry, my crowd is the smallest crowd at the conference, usually about 40 people. They are really nice though. You will be fine.”

“Why me?” Enid realized the words had spilled from her lips before the thought had been completed in her mind.

“Because I see greatness in you, Enid. You just haven’t discovered it yet.”

“Ma’am?” Enid couldn’t believe her ears. Her father used to ask her to open her mouth and then jokingly he would look inside of it saying, “there’s greatness in there. One of these days, you are going to have to let it out. Speak up, young lady.”

“This is what I want you to do,” Greta smiled. “I realize I didn’t give you much time, but you are more knowledgeable in our department doings than anyone else. You write so eloquently and professionally about everything we do, every little detail. You know this profession inside out, and you can share that with others at the conference. You can tell them why our department is always the top one in the company in the nation, and it’s because of people like you, but you don’t have to brag. You know what I mean?” Greta laughed.

“If I write the presentation, can someone else give it?” Enid asked.

“Nope. You write it. You get the credit. You get the recognition,” Greta said as she opened her desk drawer. “I learned how to stop being bashful and how to speak professionally as a leader in this company by joining a club called Toastmasters. Ever heard of it?”

Enid shook her head.

“No problem, I want you to start a club right here at this company,” Greta said handing her a manual. “I want you to be their first president. Here’s the information on who to contact to get started. In the meantime, I want you to write your presentation and start rehearsing. Every day, I want you to give me 15 minutes of the segment at the end of the day. In six weeks, your life is going to change, but once you get started in Toastmaster’s, well, let’s say everybody will see the same greatness in you that I see. Are you ready?”

Enid put her hand on her knee applying a little pressure to stop it from bouncing upward, the same way her mother used to do. She nodded her head yes, she was ready for greatness.

That was the tale Enid shared as she took the podium at the International Speech Contest two years later. Before emerging on stage, her foot had not tapped, and the words were not hidden inside of her. With the help of her Toastmaster friends she had made, her confidence had grown. Composed and filled with the lessons she had learned in Toastmasters, she was no longer afraid to hold conversations. There were no nervous moments before speaking her truths and sharing her expertise with others. She took that stage owning it, letting everybody in the room know there was greatness inside of her and inside of them.


Yes, I am a Toastmaster, a Northlake Toastmaster!!! Proud of it and always moving forward earning every award that I can. Toastmasters has been very instrumental in me moving forward in my career. Everything I have learned in Toastmasters has helped me to become a more confident leader and communicator in all areas of my life, not just work. Another great benefit of being a Toastmaster is the networking. I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life, professions, ethnicities, and nationalities. We find that we have so much to learn from each and so much that we share, a special community. If you haven’t visited a club, if you are afraid of speaking in public, or if you are just looking for like-minded individuals who are all about growth, check out Toastmasters. And, be careful, you may join our group of Toastmaster junkies before you know it. It’s intoxicating! Hope you enjoyed the story I wrote for a Toastmaster‘s project toward another award. Let me know what you think. Dilsa S. Bailey, ACS, ALB aka simplydilsa


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LIVING LIFE ONE STORY AT A TIME

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INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND FELLOW BOOKPRENEUR-PAULINE MANSFIELD as she shares her experiences “Living Life One Story at a Time.”

Twenty years ago, I never imagined that I would ever call myself a writer; the first time I said those words out loud, “I am a writer,” it was a very weird feeling because it took a while for me to really to believe that I was worthy of claiming that title. Now I am living my life – one story at a time as a writer, and I am loving it!

We all have hundreds of stories hidden within us, waiting to be written and then shared with the universe. For the past three years, it has been a joy for me to help others to carve out those stories like a sculptor carves images out of a piece of clay. Like a sculptor, each of us, as writers, must connect first with our souls to pull out the images we want to create in any book we finally make the decision to write.

I remember how absurd and impossible it seemed to me to even start a journey to tell my story. When a dear friend suggested that I share my life challenges to help others in my very first book, “The Turtle Story – 7 Steps to Breaking Free from Domestic Violence”, I was very reluctant to start that journey down this unknown road. This journey wasn’t easy, but I acquiesced, and since then, I have never looked back. It took me several years to build the confidence to put those first words on paper. I had to move past the discomfort of asking others to help me through the process of turning mere words scribbled on pieces of paper over many years into a book worthy of being published, then shared with the world.

As a writing coach and developmental editor, I now guide others to reach their destiny as confident and joyful writers. Like anything that we are passionate about, writing your story should be joyful. It does not matter if you are creating a murder mystery, a love story based on lives you have touched along your life’s journey, a self-help book, or a biography about someone you know and love. What matters is that you always write with passion and clarity, as if holding a paintbrush on a canvas or a chisel in hand to bring life and form to a chunk of wood or marble.

We, as writers, must see ourselves as artists with a gift given to us by God. We are charged to enlighten, uplift, inspire and bring joy through our fingers just like other artists with their own gifts. Our gifts are already buried in our souls, we must just recognize it, accept it and release it out to the world.

So, say it loud and say it proud – “I AM AN ARTIST – WATCH ME WRITE!”

Writing is her passion and Pauline Mansfield translates that passion into life stories. Pauline says that she writes books to educate, to enlighten, and to empower those suffering from broken spirits.  She has created from her experiences four inspiring books. In addition to being an author, Pauline is a public speaker and community volunteer. She currently chairs the COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD for the GRADY HOSPITAL NIA PROJECT, a non-profit organization devoted to positively changing the lives of men and women – one life at a time.


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