Mill Park Publishing of Eagle, Idaho was created in 2003 by author Elaine Ambrose.
The company facilitates fee-based book publication and marketing for local authors
and organizes writer's retreats.

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 15:38

The Power of Positive Promotion

Written by Elaine Ambrose

Mill Park Publishing will celebrate the release of two new books this week. The Premiere Party for Mother Knows Best – Wit and Wisdom from Idaho Moms by Patti Murphy will be Friday, May 6 at Berryhill & Co. in Boise, beginning at 5:30 p.m. A combined Premiere Party for the Momisms book and for The Backyard Chicken Fight by local author Gretchen Anderson will be Saturday, May 7 at Seasons Bistro in Eagle, also beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Gretchen, Patti and their books have been featured on local television news reports, in radio interviews, with newspaper articles, and in magazine advertisements. They successfully use social media to promote their book signings and publishing activities. And, they are ready and willing to tote their books to local stores and arrange publicity events. Ask about raising chickens or momisms, and people respond, “Oh, I’ve heard about that book!” That’s because Gretchen and Patti have the extraordinary talents of being excellent writers and professional marketers.

Self-promotion is not easy, and many writers are uncomfortable with the process. However, the inexperienced writers who aren’t willing to aggressively market their books often languish unknown behind the professional peddlers. It’s an important part of being published. When I submitted my book proposal for Menopause Sucks, I included a complete section detailing how I would market the book, even though it was published nationally by Adams Media.

Alan Heathcock is a local author, and his new book VOLT, published by Graywolf Press, is receiving international acclaim. The New York Times, National Public Radio, and other major media contact him for interviews. Yet Alan continues to use social media, a personal web site, and appearances at local events to promote his book.

The publishing experience can be grueling, but it’s exciting to realize that people are standing in line waiting for your autographed book. And for that, most authors will organize the media kit, prepare their speech, and make the necessary rounds. After all, your book is as excellent as you believe it to be.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011 04:13

Skipping Around the Writer's Block

Written by Elaine Ambrose

I recently saw the movie Limitless.

(Side note #1: I went to various online sites to learn how to punctuate movie titles and found several different answers that instructed to use italics, or underline, or capitalize, or use quotations, so I reached for The Chicago Manual of Style and it stated to use italics, so that’s what I did.  Professor Burt Cross would be so proud.)

But, I digress. The movie was about a loser writer named Eddie Morra, played by actor Bradley Cooper.

(Side note #2: You have to forget about the hilarious part he played in “Hangover” because this is an action thriller with no tigers, babies or tighty whities.)

Anyway, poor Eddie is suffering from writer’s block, but he’s under deadline to finish his novel. He sits at his laptop and nothing happens. (Been there, done that.) Then he runs into an ex-brother-in-law who gives him the magic smart pill that sets his brain on fire. (Never been there nor done that.) Eureka! In just a few days he writes an amazing novel and triumphantly drops the finished manuscript on his publisher's desk.

(Side note #3: I emailed the manuscript for Menopause Sucks one chapter at a time, so I didn’t get to march in and dramatically deliver the finished work.)

Suddenly Eddie knows everything and can do everything, thanks to the wonders of pharmaceutical enhancements. Success and mayhem ensue, and his talent and potential are, indeed, without limits.

As a writer, you probably have experienced both ends of the writing spectrum – a frustrating dry spell that makes you wonder how you dare call yourself a writer – or a sudden, uncontrollable creative urge so intense that your fingers can’t keep up with your brain. That’s all part of the gig, and it’s why writing is so unpredictable, maddening and magical. It’s just you and your brain, and that can be an amazing combination.

(Side note #4: Though I don’t advocate taking drugs to improve your writing skills, it never hurts to coax the creative juices with a glass of wine and/or plate of warm cookies. Add some interpretive music and then watch those brilliant words leap to the page and energetically scramble into intriguing sentences. Limitless, of course.)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 15:25

Are You Writing a Journal?

Written by Elaine Ambrose

Some of my ancestors traveled west from Missouri in covered wagons and on foot.  Many wrote about their hopes and hardships during the journey, and today those diaries are important family treasures. I can’t complain about being stuck in traffic on Eagle Road after I read about my great-great-aunt who drove a team of horses across the Snake River while her husband and children pushed on the back of the wagon.

I started a journal in 1978 when I was pregnant with my first child. Although it wasn’t exactly like walking 2,000 miles across deserts and mountains in a long dress and high-top boots, the journey before me was full of hopes and fears. So, I wrote in my journal.

Now, it’s interesting to look back over the past 33 years. My fears were unfounded, my dreams came true in various ways, and through my journal I can see myself evolving as a person and a writer.

January, 1980: Emily is 22 months old, potty trained, and can count to ten. She is a genius, of course, and so funny! I think I want another baby.

March, 1983: I’m going back to work full-time. Emily is five and Adam is two. How will I do everything?

July, 2003: I saw Adam 48 hours ago. I don’t know when I’ll see him again. He’s being sent to South Korea with the Army Military Police. I can’t stop crying.

August, 2008: Emily and Adam helped with my book signing premiere party for Menopause Sucks. I love those kids!

January, 2011: How’d I get this old?  

My journal also chronicles my travels and all my wins and losses. So far, the positives far outnumber the negatives. I intend to keep it that way.

I encourage everyone to write a journal. It can be a paragraph every day or several pages just once a year. You’re a writer, and your life influences how and what you write. And, sometimes it’s good to go back and appreciate your younger self.  

 I’ll never forget when the box arrived with my copies of Menopause Sucks. I ripped apart the box and held my “baby” – the results of my first national book publishing contract. The front cover featured a woman with her head in the freezer – perfect! Then I turned it over and my exuberance turned into irritation because my biography was all wrong. The publisher listed my correct information on the inside back page but not on the back cover.  And, there was nothing I could do about it because the writer has no control over a book’s cover when it’s published by a national publisher.

A book’s cover provides the first and most important way to attract attention to a book. The cover also indicates the content’s credibility. We’ve all seen self-published books that look like a school project and have no hope of gaining respect from readers. Stapled bindings, amateur artwork, sloppy editing, and untrained writing often indicate that the book only will be appreciated by family members and then languish in boxes in the writer’s garage.  

Prior to writing Menopause Sucks, I had written and published four other books through my publishing company, Mill Park Publishing. This allowed me to control what was on the cover, and I wanted a professional appearance.  For Gators & Taters, I hired Ernie Monroe, an artist who worked for a local advertising agency. His illustrations were professional and delightful. For The Magic Potato, I hired Heidi Winchel, an artist from McCall, and gave her the formidable task to draw a flying potato.

For The Red Tease, I wrote to Jill Neal, the artist whose “wild women” pieces have been popular at the local Arts in the Park event. She allowed me to use one of her prints on the cover. We then arranged several book signing events at her gallery in Bend, Oregon. Recently we collaborated on another marketing venture as I used a piece of her art for the label on Menopause Merlot from Bitner Vineyards.

The cover of Daily Erotica was designed by one of the co-authors, Liza Walton. She created an elegant, romantic appearance. We gave the book an edgy title, mainly because Daily Poems just wouldn’t sell!

Mill Park Publishing is releasing two new books this spring, and the covers are wonderful. Author Gretchen Anderson enlisted the assistance of a high school friend and successful designer for her cover on The Backyard Chicken Fight. Author Patti Murphy asked local designer Sally Stevens to create the retro-looking cover of Mother Knows Best. Both covers are perfect for the books.

If you’re considering self-publishing a book, it’s not enough to just write the text. I recommend getting professional design assistance and/or taking some design classes and reading books about self-publishing. I used two main recourses:  The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross and The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter. Then when your books arrive, you go from writer and designer to marketer. It’s an exciting process.

Sunday, 03 April 2011 18:21

How to Get Published by Mill Park Publishing

Written by Elaine Ambrose

Book Publication and Marketing

Mill Park Publishing offers the following services:

  1. Facilitates fee-based book publication and marketing for local authors
  2. Organizes writer's retreats
  3. Sponsors a television talk show

Mill Park Publishing provides writers with an efficient and exceptional process to produce a quality product for optimum value.  The company works with the writer to transform completed electronic text into a book, complete with ISBN number, Library of Congress number, copyright, bar code, four-color cover, exposure on Amazon.com and inclusion in the Mill Park Publishing web site. 

Mill Park Publishing has published seven books, including several award-winning books, and each one has a professional design and appealing content.

Mill Park Publishing charges a flat fee of 15% above the contract for design, printing and shipping charges.  For example, a 100-page paperback book could cost the following:

$   500             Book Design and Layout

$   500             Cover Design

$2,500             Printing and Shipping

$3,500             Sub-total

$   525             15% Fee

$4,025             TOTAL

Expenses would increase on an individual basis for more pages, custom sizes, hard covers, photographs and graphs.

Additional Fee-Based Services

For e-content, Mill Park Publishing will create eBook friendly formats and distribute the content into the e-marketplace.

Mill Park Publishing can copyedit and proofread the manuscript.  The fee depends upon the scope of the work.

For fees ranging from $250 to $2,000, Mill Park Publishing will coordinate a marketing plan to include local book signing events and interviews with television stations, newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and local civic groups.  The lowest amount provides a media kit and current list of media sources for the client to contact, and the higher amount includes premiere parties at popular venues, complete with appetizers and marketing materials. 

Mill Park Publishing can assist the client arrange for accounting, storage, distribution and fulfillment.     

Tuesday, 29 March 2011 22:35

Elaine's Top Five Tips for Writers

Written by Elaine Ambrose

1. Write what you know. I couldn’t write well about a vegetarian, Socialist, nuclear physicist who sleeps with his/her dog and listens to rap music. Can’t do it. But, I thoroughly enjoyed writing Menopause Sucks because I’ve been there and it does! And, I laughed every time I wrote a sentence such as, “Let me tell you why you sneeze, fart, and wet your pants at the same time.” And, my fingers literally flew over the keyboard as I wrote about hairy toes, night sweats, and recommended sex toys. Yes, write what you know!

2. Take advantage of, no… exploit, the serendipity of your life.· Develop fascinating characters modeled after your belching piano teacher, or your uncle who refuses to discuss his war wounds but smashes beer cans against his forehead, or the passenger in the airplane seat next to you who laughs in her sleep, or your child who cries when the Disneyland Nightlight Parade stops. You are surrounded by writing prompts.

3. Read your work out loud. You will discover sentences, paragraphs and even pages that no one will understand or ever read again. You’ll find that preposition lounging at the end of a sentence that screams: I’M A HORRIBLE WRITER! READ NO FURTHER!

4. Believe that all the words tumbling around in your brain MUST get out or you will explode! Yes, you hear voices, but it’s your characters demanding that you set them free. If you’re fiddling with non-fiction, then quick, spew forth those creative ideas on napkins, notebooks, old envelopes, typewriters (I still have some), and even a computer. Write. Write. Write. You’ve read plenty of crap that others have written, which is proof that your work will be OK.

5. Continue to read and learn. Emulate your favorite authors. Janet Evanovich makes me howl with laughter and want to read more. On the other hand, Elizabeth Gilbert causes me to wish I were a vegetarian, Socialist, nuclear physicist who sleeps with my dog and listens to rap music. Get a grip, woman! Part Two of this comment is to encourage you to attend writing workshops, join literary groups, go on writing retreats, mingle with other authors, and find a space to write. And, say out loud every day, “I am a writer.”

Elaine Ambrose is the author of six books, the co-author of two books, and the owner of Mill Park Publishing. She organizes the annual “Write by the River” Writer’s Retreat in Garden Valley and enjoys being a carnivorous, capitalistic writer who has no pets and listens to jazz.

Monday, 07 March 2011 21:55

Mill Park Publishing – A Brief History

Written by Elaine Ambrose

After my children grew up to become wonderful adults, I decided to leave Boise and move to the mountains to write.  In 1996, I built a cabin on the east shore of Payette Lake in McCall.  The location was over the former site of a lumber mill, and near the house was a small area called Mill Park.  (That’s a clue.)

I loved to sit on my deck and watch weddings at the park and hear the laughter from the playground.  And, walking through the park was the shortest distance to Bistro 45 Wine Bar.  Life was grand for those first few years.  Then the winters seem to get longer, and the snow piled up six feet high on my roof, and I feared that I was turning into the female version of Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining.  I would sit at my computer trying to write when all I could imagine was an ax smashing through the door.  It was time to save my sanity.

In the winter of 2003, I decided to create a publishing company – something I could do without leaving my home but that would still require brain activity.  What to call my company?  I was gazing out the window at the frozen lake and saw a brave little sign peeking out of the snow:  Mill Park.  That’s when Mill Park Publishing was born.

I wrote and published two books in 2003 and one in 2004.  Through these books and by attending writer’s conferences in McCall, I was able to sign with an agent who helped me get a national contract to write Menopause Sucks for Adams Media. I moved back to Eagle in 2006, leaving Mill Park but not the company.  Mill Park Publishing is still going strong – Daily Erotica and Gracie were published in 2010, and The Backyard Chicken Fight and Mother Knows Best appeared in 2011. The company also organizes an annual writer’s retreat in Garden Valley.

Mill Park Publishing has been a grand adventure in turning words into books.  And, that’s so much better than turning me into a hermit.

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