Mike Spinak »

Masthead header

DISCLOSURE: I was given a free copy of this book for feedback and review.

Evo Terra recently published an ebook, called Writing Awesome Sales Copy.

It’s a short, focused book for authors about doing exactly what the title says. It gives you a sensible formula you can work with for how to familiarize, how to focus on the remarkable and provoke a response, how to make an elevator pitch, how to include blurbs, and how to put everything together to make your book description into solid sales copy. It explains the reasons behind doing these things, and tells you pitfalls to avoid.

Authoring and selling are two different skill sets. I was able to make an excellent book, but my salesmanship is awkward and perfunctory due to not having the skills, and perhaps at a deeper level not understanding the concepts nor even the mindset. If you’re like me, then having someone handholding you through the process, telling you what to do, why, and how, can make a big difference in shaping up your sales copy (and some of the ideas will surely be applicable beyond your sales copy, too). The book’s suggestions are not the only way to do it, but they are helpful guidance of one way to do it, for those in need.

I found Writing Awesome Sales Copy worthwhile. If your book’s sales copy sucks, then I recommend it.

I’m including my old sales copy and the rough draft of my new sales copy below, to show the difference the book made in my case. It’s still not perfect, but any failings are my own – Evo has more than done his part through the book.

Old version:

Growing Up Humming is a fact-filled, true story photo book of a mother Anna’s hummingbird and her two chicks as they chicks grow, mature and leave the nest.

What happens when a mother hummingbird wants her chick to leave the nest, but the chick isn’t ready? This book shows the answers in a heartwarming tale filled with unique, intimate photos, and deep insights about their biology and behavior.

Growing Up Humming is a children’s book the entire family will enjoy.

New version:

Fans of David Attenborough will enjoy experiencing the wonders of nature through Mike Spinak’s pictures and words.

Imagine witnessing hummingbird chicks being raised on the nest from front row seats, with every step shown as it unfolds, accompanied by fundamental explanations of the “whys” behind what you’re seeing. In Mike Spinak’s Growing Up Humming, you’ll see hummingbirds as you’ve never seen them before.

The elder chick has flown from the nest, and now follows her mother while learning how to live like an adult. The younger chick hasn’t yet fledged, and life will be easier for her mother when both are flying. What happens when a mother hummingbird wants her chick to leave the nest, but the chick isn’t ready? This fact-filled, true story, photo book shows the answers in a heartwarming tale the entire family can enjoy.

“…delightful for persons of any age … a breathtaking microcosm that few people have witnessed and which somehow makes you feel blessed … marvelous, awesome story.” – P.B. Sharp, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

“The photos are so captivating you just want to gaze at them for hours rather than turn the page to continue the story.” – Katie H.

“The story itself is wondrous – Mike simply wrought words from inspiration that the hummingbirds gave him.” – Nataliya Field

“I gave a copy to my 10 year old niece who enjoyed it so much that she read the whole thing front to back in one setting (and then spent a couple of hours wowing the adults with hummingbird facts).” – James Beswick, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer

I discover websites which could benefit authors, every day. Thus, I’m compiling a big list of them. OK – it may not look like a big list, yet, but I’ll be adding to it frequently. I may even shape it up into some semblance of order.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

7 Tips for Turning Your Blog Into A Book

20 Rules for Writing Detective Stories

31 Ways to Find New Readers Outside of Your Network

50 Best Children’s Literature Blogs

Amazon’s Meet Our Authors forum

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Author Central

Authorpreneur Magazine

Authors Database

Best Ways to Help Your Favorite Author

Book Awards for Independent Authors

Book Blogger Directory

Book Creator for iPad app


Book Marketing Tests and Studies by Caleb J. Ross

Brand Gamblin’s BookBub Experience

Brooke Johnson’s Character Worksheet

California Public Libraries list

Children’s Book Insider newsletter

Chicago Manual of Style Online

Goodreads Case Study: How Readers Discovered a Debut Novel

Dan Wells on Story Structure video series and a summary of them


Digital Publishing forum

eBook Creator Guide – free eBook

eBook formatting series

Ebook stores and royalties comparison chart

Flipick – software to generate your own fixed layout ebooks from InDesign to various formats


Google’s videos to learn how to use Google AdWords

How to Run a Goodreads Giveaway with Maximal Results



Jane Friedman’s Blog

Jutoh – Software for creating ebooks in popular formats



Midwest Book Review

Midwest Book Review’s publisher information for getting books reviewed

Nathan Bransford’s Blog

Online Etymology Dictionary

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Preditors and Editors

Pressbooks Blog

Professional Editors

Publish your Own Books

Pub Rants and more Pub Rants

Rachelle Gardner’s Resources for Writers

Reviews of Book Marketing Companies

Savvy Book Writers

Self-Publishing Hall of Fame


Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators



The Alliance of Independent Authors

The Book Designer

People, Place, Plot, and Purpose video

The Passive Voice

The Phrase Finder – Meanings and Origins

Why Isn’t My Book Selling?

Word Counter with Frequency Statistics

Write Out Loud podcasts


Writer’s Discussion group

Writer’s Knowledge Base

Writing Genre Community Collection

Write to Publish blog

Write to Publish blog’s list of resources

Writing Excuses Podcast

Writing Resources forum


I was interviewed on the Love Hate Poetry blog a few months ago. If you’d like to learn a little more about my book, and about me as an author, then click HERE for the interview.

Many professional photographers are terrified of clients discovering their printing costs. Over and over, I’ve seen photographers post in a panic on private professional forums, “My client just found out the printing prices from my photo lab. She knows I only paid $30 for that print I charged her $300 for. What should I tell her?” I always reply, “Tell the client you’re selling the content on the photo paper, not the paper itself.”

Why would a photographer fear a client finding out the price difference between print cost and what she charges? Because the photographer lacks confidence in the value of her work.

Many artists don’t respect themselves as creators, don’t believe in the value of their work, don’t think they deserve success, and don’t think they can succeed in their endeavors.

It’s a problem among artists in all fields. I’ve seen it for years in photography. Since I published a book and started participating in the writing community, I’ve been seeing it among writers, too. In fact, I can recognize a number of close parallels between the two. For example, photographers sign stock agency contracts with outrageously bad terms they should never accept, and authors sign publishing contracts with outrageously bad terms they should never accept, in both cases demonstrating a desperate willingness to undervalue their work to nearly nothing just to get into print.

Artistic insecurity leads artists to doubt themselves, which leads them to make fear-based decisions, which often leads to shooting themselves in the feet. Usually through self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lately, a lot of people request for me to explain how I’ve managed to get my book into libraries, when that’s purportedly damn near impossible. My answer: I asked. That’s the whole “secret”: I asked the librarians if they were interested in purchasing my book for their libraries.

Many don’t get their books into any libraries because they assume they can’t, and therefore don’t even try.

Some authors seek traditional publishers because they assume they can’t succeed on their own. Then they go with the first publisher to make an offer, thinking it’s likely the only offer they’ll get. Then they accept all the terms of the contracts without negotiating, believing that they’ll lose their deals entirely if they try negotiate. Thus they let their self doubts prevent them from doing better.

Then they share their bad experiences, unaware that those experiences were of their own making, and they spread doubt to others.

I see authors ask writing forums whether anyone has tried crowd-sourced funding, such as Kickstarter. Someone usually brings up that only ~30% of book projects on Kickstarter get funded, so “the chances are against you”. Another brings up that books make less, on average, than any other category on Kickstarter, so “it’s probably not worth the bother”. Then someone suggests imagining how professionally damaging and personally humiliating public failure will be. And before you know it they’ve all talked each other out of it.

I also see authors come to writing forums asking, “An editor quoted me $1,000 to edit my book. At that price, is it worth getting my book edited?” Again, respondents will start up with an arsenal of statistics of failure. One will say that books only sell an average of 100-150 copies. A second will say that most books make less than $500. A third will say that most self-published books sell fewer than 50 copies. After a sufficient barrage of such statistics, the authors will usually decide it’s not worth spending $1,000 on editing a book that will probably make less than $500; and so they self-publish their books unedited. Thus they doom their books to failure by convincing themselves their books will probably fail.

Not only do artists undermine themselves with this kind of thinking and behavior, they often undermine others in their fields, too. How did we get to the point where Getty Images just announced five-decimal place (i.e., thousandths of a cent) “micro-royalties” for stock license sales, today? It’s the result of an endless supply of photographers willing to take such meager payment for their work, crashing the industry to the point where payments for pictures are far below the costs for making them. A similar situation with writers is why Harlequin can get away with paying a measly 6% royalty rate to authors for novels. Indeed, unconscionable terms have become boilerplate for many photo stock agency contracts and book publishing contracts, because there are so many artists who unhesitatingly accept them.

When you are in the grip of these doubts, or believing the doubts others are sharing with you, remember these points:

1) If you don’t value your work, others won’t value it either.

2) Your situation is different from everyone else’s.

3) You know you won’t succeed if you don’t try.

4) Audaces fortuna iuvat. (Fortune favors the bold.)

Now, go show the world what you can do!