February 26, 2015

Amazon, e-books and Romania

When you start writing a book, the plan is to have something you will eventually have written, edited, and published-- then you will need to create an ebook. This can greatly expand on what people find in terms of your writing.  I write about Transylvania, Romania, and it's important to use social networking sites to get my book out to the right people.

I can write and publish books about the German Saxons of Transylvania, as long I have a good understanding of who will buy my book.  Part of my own personal problem with selling a book on Transylvania is that I didn't understand the market as well as I thought I did.  It is about Transylvania, but also the dynamic between the rest of Romania and this area.  Only after learning this was I able to begin to explain my book better and earn money.

I also had to learn, or re-learn history I took for granted.  While much of the Saxon community I had talked with had a good idea of what life was like in Transylvania, a problem arose. Some points of view were different from others. It wasn't a question of lies, but simply an omission of facts due to ignorance. This can lead to disaster - in my case it didn't. You must be aware of the challenges that you face when you publish books on Kindle, to a market as vast as the one on Transylvania - it's all about logic.

With the advent of ebooks some of these plans have been simplified, but in some ways are more complex. There is another format you will have to consider - and larger unknown markets.   Any person, anywhere can go to Amazon and buy an ebook - many of my buyers are from Romania.  You can't maintain the strong connection you would have otherwise.  You also need to have the answers readily available.  Most people who know about Romania will search for books on the subject this way.

Writers face pressures from many places while filling a need to build a network and gain credibility for their writing.
In short, publishing a book is not as easy as it can first appear, especially if your plans are vague, or this is your first book, and you don't know the niche market as well as you think.

There are simple steps you can follow to create both a book that sells and an ebook which maintains regular sales. These can also be generalized to online writing sites in many cases, since most readers of online articles can make a choice to read your ebook after they have read your writing.  The more you reach out to your readers, the more likely you will see sales - and people will know there is another book coming out.

February 12, 2015

Google, Transylvania and Sherlock

We've discussed the fact that writing online has a lot to offer readers, we can write about almost anything and people who are interested in this will come and read it. In a niche market like Transylvania, it is best to know who is interested in your writing and where they are from.

We haven't discussed the fact that if you publish something you need to care for it or it will eventually die- the same holds true for a blog and the same holds true for people and places.

Much like a book, people need to know where to find you, and when it comes to Transylvania, they need to see you somewhere.  A writer must think of one place: Google.

Why Google? The search engine offers much help to writers who have a brand or a niche market they want to work with, and build themselves up as a brand. You need to number crunch to observe what works for you and what doesn't.  People who know about Transylvania are logical like Sherlock Holmes.  They know, and they observe if they believe you might not.

A good place to look is if people aren't buying your items, is it because they don't stay long enough to make it worth it, or is it because they already have it or you aren't targeting the right market?

Are you making people feel they know facts about Transylvania, Romania or just logical figures that Google can find for them?

Or, if this isn't the case, is it because you aren't seen as someone who is passionate about Transylvania?  It's all about how you write something.  People are often less logical than a search engine.

In a way, part of what makes this is business is sitting down and thinking about what makes this work. I might not like to write long sentences, but if that is what keeps readers then I do this. I have found that "white space" is only somewhat important if the person reads my writing- they want to know about what I think about a map of Transylvania or how publishing on Transylvania is a challenge or not.

In general worrying about simple things seems to be a waste of time, but 99% of the time it is not. I have also grown as a writer, and this means that I have to go back and find a way to become, like Sherlock.  I have to find more logic in Transylvania and more culture and people. Everyone changes- even Google, but Transylvania?  Yes, it has as well.

Any one can see that, even history can't lie: Transylvania was a part of Hungary and then Romania and for a time part of both, but sometimes people forget this fact and think emotionally about things- they forget a writer needs to be Sherlock. Transylvania is a popular tourist destination in Romania, because of Dracula, and because of its natural beauty.  Logically you have to observe this as being the main reason why Google finds Transylvania important to people.

February 9, 2015

The Many Faces of Count Dracula

He is famous for being the title character in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  He has a loyal following of people more than 100 years after his 'birth' (or the book's publication date.)  In the book, Count Dracula was both kind and cruel and he was noted for his strengths and weaknesses.  Unlike popular culture who claims he had a stake driven through his heart his dies, in the book, with a knife to his neck.

Over the years, each movie has changed and challenged how readers see Dracula.  My personal favourite movie of the many Count Dracula films out there is the Bram Stoker's Dracula, with the title character being played by Gary Oldman.  This is the one which I enjoyed the most since it showed much of London, and the ending was a surprise to me.

I had not had a chance to finish reading the gothic horror novel Dracula so I was pleased that they kept true to the book.  Transylvania was front and centre at the beginning of the book, and like many I was delighted to read it.

It was because of this movie I gained more of a fascination with Transylvania, and this would begin my journey as a writer.  Bram Stoker's Dracula became one of the many books I would read over the course of the year 1992.  It was also the same year when I watched the original Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi.

This shows another face to Count Dracula and is the one which gives the enduring idea that Dracula was killed by a stake through the heart.  It is Van Helsing who kills Dracula in this movie and not Jonathan Harker and Quincey who kill Dracula.  The popularity of Bela Lugosi was because he was born in Lugos, Transylvania- then a part of the Empire of Austria- now known in Romanian As Lugoj.  This connection also gave rise to his popularity in Europe.

To date there are at least 13 men who have portrayed Count Dracula, the most recent being Luke Evans who played the title role in Dracula Untold.

To many the two most famous faces of Dracula will be Gary Oldman and Bela Lugosi.

February 7, 2015

Self-Publishing and Knowledge

Most people want what is best for them when it comes to self-publishing a book in a niche market. They will use multiple methodologies to find out what traffic they might need for which social networking site, in order to gain some authority over the people they think they want as their market.

In this case, it's the people, your potential readers, who know about Transylvania, and Romania.  The problem is no matter how much you know about self-publishing and the market, you don't actually know much.  This won't change, because there will always be more to learn about Romania and its history and peoples.  This is true as well when working online.

It boils down to three things: One, the time you spend working with Keyword research, if you have a blog or a website. Two, building a relationship with people who are both online and offline so you can produce a better book.  Three, is reading and recommending, and learning about your market.  It's not helpful to write about Romania when you don't realize there is another book you can recommend to people about a local area.  Your readers might know about another author you can learn about and build your knowledge from.  It's time consuming.

This can be too much for one person, and self-publishing and editing still mean you have to work hard as a team.  You need a great editor, and you need very good communication skills to work with others.  You also need someone who is willing to keep an eye out on the many social networking sites- and did I mention you will have to self-publish something good this year?

We all want what is best, but we do not often like to do what is needed.

Some will suggest that it is all Google’s fault- anyone, anywhere can find information about your niche market. As a writer who writes about Romania, I'm aware there are many self-published books are out there which deal with a small population- my own book
deals with the men from Northern Transylvania, and their stories.

This was a time when the Northern part of Transylvania was a part of Hungary- Southern Transylvania was a part of Romania and many other things happened there that didn't occur in the North.  This is basic history, but it's important for a reader who doesn't know about Transylvania or World War II.

The point is that search engines change all the time, and you will need to keep on working with the foundation that got you to this point in the first place. Writers need to adapt and learn and grow, and take every learning opportunity that presents itself.  The more people interact with you, the more your knowledge grows.

This is not as simple as it seems: To know about your niche market you will need to focus on your writing.  You will need to learn first about what works for your readers and how you can connect with them.  It's all about details, and it's about knowing the two important things when it comes to niche markets and publishing.

What are the two most important things about self-publishing in a niche market?

You, and your willingness to work a bit harder for a while to see more results at the end. It's about connections.  How willing are you as a writer to learn more about your subject and the readers you have in this area.

It's working a bit harder to learn about the challenges of self-publishing and maintaining relationships with your readers.  Everything has a price, but once you have knowledge about people and your writing, it is worth everything.

February 3, 2015

Writers on Romania I Recommend

One of the many writers I have come to know and trust is Catalin Gruia  one of his many books about Transylvania deal with Romania.  In the book Romania Explained To My Friends Abroad he deals with how he explains the complex country that is Romania.  With 40 stories, he explains most of the questions people have asked him about Romania.

Many of them have been asked of me, so it's no surprise a few of them are included.  This is helpful to anyone who has ever faced the common questions of "where is Transylvania?" or "who was Dracula?"

He has other books which I have in my library and many of them are short, concise and filled with the basic information I need.  He is a writer, and a journalist so he knows how to capture the readers attention.  He has a good way of letting you know about the importance of all the places and people of Romania, without getting to deep into the history of the land.

The first book of his I would read is called The Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania, and this is also where I found he had published other books on both Transylvania but also on Dracula, and Romania.

There are many other writers out there, but I want to focus on another non-fiction writer, who has a book on the culture of Romania.

Debbie Stowe is a writer whose book I have found to be a good read.  Most of her books are short and to the point and she's published a lot of varied books.

Her book, Romania - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs and culture is exactly what is says it is, simply the essentials of the Romanian culture.  As all of my family is from Transylvania, this is a much needed primer in the other cultures and peoples of Romania.  Since each area is different, it's important to know exactly what to do and not to do.

Granted, she does have some people argue that this is not as much of a travel guide that they expected, but it is listed as such on Amazon.  I would argue it is best read as non-fiction explanation of the customs and cultures found in Romania.  One argued that it generalized everything however, the cost of the book at $8.78 and the length of 168 pages should have made them understand this was a book which would not go into details.

Having a couple of good writers on Romania in my library is a must. The is even more true when the majority of the books you can find on Romania are travel guides or have more of a larger history of the Balkans to go along with them. The reason these two writers are important as any other biography or travel guide out there is they have some experience with writing and with Transylvania, and Romania.

I found it interesting they both focus on Romania, and yet come up with different ways to explain the past and present of the history of Romania, and also the people and places of Romania.

I recommend these writers because of their ability to write something that isn't a travel guide.  I can simply go to my local bookstore and pick up copy of the Lonely Planet: Romania and Bulgaria- that is the copy I found.  I can find out the hotels and the prices of many of the places I want to visit when it comes to Romania, I want to know a bit more of the personality and the people who lived, and who live there now.

February 1, 2015

Two Books On Romania and The Balkans

Part of understanding more about Transylvania and Romania is understanding the history of the area.  It is a place where history is not only lived, but debated.

In the past 1,000 years there have been some territorial changes to the Balkans which can confound even some of the better amateur historians. Many countries have emerged, and many have broken apart.   The Balkans: A Short History  is a good book to read, because it gives a brief overview of what happened, and where.

Transylvania is mentioned a few times- not a 'highlight', more of a mention, but Romania, along with many of the other countries that emerged in the 19th Century, are given some general outlines in this rather short (240 pages) book.  This was not written for the layman, but for academics although in the end you will gain some general knowledge of when things happened.

On of the countries which I wish had been given more attention in this book is Romania.  Romania played a large part in how people view the Balkans, because of the people who influenced the rest of the area.  Not only this, but Romania has many links to natural resources and this allowed them to be more independent than other Soviet Satellites.

When dealing with royalty- and none of the Balkan countries are now Kingdoms, most share links with Queen Victoria- through either Queen Sofia of Greece or with Romania's most famous Queen, Marie.

Romania would be nothing today without Queen Marie of Romania.  She has many biographies out including The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Roumania.  This book allows the reader to explore Romania from its inception to the death of Marie in 1938.  I found it useful to see the ever-changing dynamics of how royalty and politicians view the Balkans, and Romania.  Transylvania itself would still be a part of Hungary- or some other country- had not Marie gone to Paris for the peace conferences in 1919.

Without her, Romania wouldn't have had as much influence, and would have possibly fought on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary during the First World War.  Hannah Pakula does a good job at describing Marie, but without much background to Romania, or the Balkans themselves this is not a book you can read without some prior knowledge.  Not much is mentioned about Transylvania except for the castles Marie would use as royal residences, one of which is Bran Castle.