Anyone Can Bait a Hook

But it takes a fisherman to catch a fish.

Writing a novel or non-fiction title requires a bit of psychology if you want to catch a reader.

I think it is easy to believe that you can pen a novel, put it on Amazon for millions of readers and think you won’t miss one. Like I said, anyone can bait a hook.

Readers are like fish and right now, it is a reader’s world. There is no shortage of books out there just waiting to be read. With that much bait floating around, reader’s can afford to be picky.

As an author, you will have to be clever if you want to offer the right bait to the right readers for your novel. Otherwise, your title will float around in the water until it falls off the hook and floats to the bottom. Forgotten.

When I took a non-fiction writing class, one exercise included imagining what your reader looks like. Imagine them perusing the web or cruising through the bookstore. How will you snag their attention?

Knowing what your reader looks like will help with the plot, the book-cover, and the marketing. If you design a plot that would attract two different styles of reader from opposite sides of the personality-spectrum, your book will hang in the balance.

Here is an example – The novel you wrote is psychological fiction with a real gory bent. Your characters are complex and the plot is like a puzzle the reader will have to put together. . .then you add green slime coming out of the walls and when the characters go outside, they burst into flames or explode with their entrails flying everywhere.

Think about my example and imagine which kind of reader your book will attract. The thought I wanted to convey-your reader will be split in two – one loves the mystery and psychological complexities but what does green slime and exploding bodies have to do with it? That reader moves on. On the other hand, someone who loves reading about mysterious happenings creating a world where we have to start over – they will love the atmosphere blowing up humans and how they survive. The psychological puzzles may turn that reader off.

There will always be a few readers who will like both ends of the spectrum in my example but that is the point. A few. Sales for a few will not sustain you and it might not be a real motivator for a second novel.

Writing for fish that swim in different schools and waters will make it difficult to sell your novel. Be more cognitive of your plot and characters. My example could easily be made into two novels if the writer imagined which fish he wanted to catch before writing.

Give more thought to the readers your book will attract and market where they congregate. The easiest chance to catch a fish is to drop the appropriate bait into a school. You will still have competitive bait but at least you can catch a good haul of your own and most of all, know you are fishing in the right waters.

By: Lily Gianna Woodmansee – Executive Editor for Cactus Moon Publications, LLC

Reading History in Old Books

“There is some advantage in having imagination, since that visionary faculty opens the mental eyes to facts that more practical and duller intellects could never see.”


― E.D.E.N. Southworth, Capitola’s Peril

While on vacation in Boise, Idaho, I stopped by an antique store in the Hyde Park section. I wander antique stores when I am feeling nostalgic for the past. At my age, some of the items I found were items I’d had as a child.

Perfume bottles from Avon®, Gunni-Sax® dresses, and huge leather purses with a mountain scene and initials. I had to laugh at myself when I saw a clown that I remember having when I was around three. I even have a picture of me holding it. Nostalgia.

As I wandered through the store, I found a stash of books, all written over one hundred years ago. I immediately picked one up titled, The High Priestess, and opened the cover. Inside was a note that read: To Jess, X-mas – 1915. Love, Jack and Marge. The cost—one dollar and twenty-five cents and the cover was an immaculate red cloth with perforated pages.

Insight as to how we conversed and processed information. Values and turmoil from an era I can only witness through the author’s words.

My curiosity over humans of the past started with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Call me naeve but I never imagined the conflict one would have living in Puritan times while thinking in a very different manner. Clearly Hawthorne had witnessed the battle between good and evil continuously challenging us. I used to wonder what he was trying to convey; was he on the side of the Puritans or Hester Prinn? Did he despise the minister? Or blame Hester’s husband? Lastly, I could see into the eyes of someone who witnessed that era and the paradoxes of the time.

Next, I picked up Cruel as the Grave, by Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth and was instantly smitten by the author. She passed away in 1899 right before this novel was published. I read the first few pages and I wanted to know more of the protagonist and her struggles written at the turn of the twentieth century.

These books are history books to me. All we can do today is create a theory from the writings and news of those times. I want more than that, I want to see from the author’s eyes—through fiction—the attitudes, emotions, and values of another period in time. To hear about the lives of everyday people from their own point of view.

Did Mrs. Southworth ever wonder if a woman in 2016 would be reading her book written before 1900?

Knowledge is truly timeless. No book is ever written in vain; sometimes it is just written for people whose time has not yet come.



The Art of Storytelling

Open book. Indians sit at wigwam on pages of open book. Adventure story

Storytelling has been buried under so much commercialization, the art itself is lost…even to the writer.

Melissa, editor for Revisions and Edits, and I were discussing how stories have been told generation after generation. Stories that have never made it into a book and often, the author is unknown. No doubt those stories are a compilation, a story evolving over each generation but rich, nonetheless.

Storytelling was used by our Ancestors for more than the passage of wisdom. Stories provided entertainment for the children during particularly difficult seasons and illnesses. Providing the lyrics when told through music.

Imagining a life in tribal days, there had to be some storytellers whose talent made stories more compelling. The tribal actors, telling stories through shape-shifting into various characters.Some storytellers undoubtedly drew more of an audience than others.

Even today, stories provide endless entertainment and storytelling is big business.

As a publisher, I am often torn between the storyteller and writing ability. Some of the best storytellers are the worst writers. I can be a difficult task, pulling the story from deep within, putting it to paper.

This is why CMP has collaborative editors. As a young publisher, we work with budding authors and require talented, intuitive editors to help bring the story to life. Finally, we require talented illustrators to capture the story’s image. A perfect pyramid in today’s model of storytelling. The author, editor, and illustrator.

Not every storyteller is a talented writer, conversely, not every writer is a talented storyteller. In CMP’s mind, the storytelling-pyramid is an act of reciprocation. We utilize everyone’s particular talent, sharing in the storyteller’s vision, enhancing the story through collaboration on the final manifestation…the novel. Working together, the author can hone the art of storytelling.

Storytelling being a timeless art, may manifest one way today and another in the future. When a writer sets pen to paper, there should be an intention for the story. If the intention is simply – I want to publish a book… this becomes the goal. Sales may be weak since the goal has been accomplished, no thought for beyond.

When writing a story, imagine this story being read more than one-hundred years later. Maybe the story is so compelling that it continues as a legacy for future generations…The Scarlet Letter is just one example of a story still being told over two hundred years later.

If the intention is to be a storyteller, write a compelling story that can be read for centuries and watch  its value grow organically. Your intention provided the fuel to catapult the story into the cosmos. Of course, accelerants will be required. Social media, events, networking…that is just an aspect of the storytelling industry.

This doesn’t mean that in this century, the story will gain the notoriety hoped for. There is never a guarantee because genres come in and out of season. Remember author, James Allen? He wrote As a Man Thinketh in 1912. I don’t know the intention behind his writing but the book has been reprinted and is  given to salesmen by one company as a motivational tool. Over one hundred years later.

Anyone can write, but storytelling is an art.