Keli Gwyn
Book Reviews: Helpful or Not?

Do book reviews affect your buying decisions?

They do mine.

Because they do, I write and post reviews.

I like to reach as many potential readers as possible, so I post my reviews in six places.

As an author with a book coming out, I’m curious to know how effective books reviews are.

In order to find out what you think about book reviews, I’ve created three polls. If you have the time, I’d appreciate it if you’d take a minute to provide your answers. Thanks!

[polldaddy poll=5868736]

[polldaddy poll=5868717]

[polldaddy poll=5868709]

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Keli Gwyn
One BIG Advantage of a Traditional Publisher

There are many publishing avenues available to writers today, each with its own set of advantages. My dream was to go the traditional route, even though I knew it would take time and that my chances of “making it” were slim.

One of the major reasons I chose the path I did is that I lack the knowledge or platform necessary to launch a book on my own. Sure, I could learn to format a digital book if I put my mind to it, but I don’t possess the marketing know-how or promotion savvy many self-published authors exhibit. I admire them, but at this stage in my career I don’t have what it takes to emulate them. Getting my book in front of readers would be a challenge.

I’d heard that traditional publishers are able to get our books in front of many potential readers, but I’m seeing firsthand how true that is.

Being a debut novelist eager to learn all I can about the process my book is going through, I periodically perform a search for my book’s title to see where it has made an appearance.

To my surprise and delight, I discovered that my publisher’s sales department got my book up for pre-order on the major booksellers sites over six months before its scheduled release date. It’s available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California has been showing up on other sites, too, among them BiggerBooks.com, The Book Depository, eCampus.com, e textbooks now.com, Overstock.com, and The Reading Warehouse.

To my amazement, readers in other countries can buy the book as well. No, my agent hasn’t sold foreign rights. The version that’s available is the same English book that will be sold here. Even so, it’s cool to see my book for sale in other countries, including Japan (Amazon.jp), the United Kingdom (Amazon.uk), and the Netherlands (Van Stockum).

And this is only the beginning. My publisher will be getting my book on other sites, in booksellers’ catalogs, in stores, and more.

Seeing my book for sale in so many places is incredible. Due to my publisher’s efforts, millions of people around the world have the opportunity to discover and order my book. Without the sales and marketing departments doing so much work, my story would not have such a reach. I’m beyond grateful to the team at Barbour Publishing!

• • •

Are you as amazed as I am by how many places a traditional publisher gets a book placed?

What do you see as the biggest advantages of a traditional publishing company?

Is traditional publishing your path of choice? Why or why not?

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Keli Gwyn
Writer Wednesday: Meet Novelist Murray Pura

I’m excited to have Murray Pura as my guest today. Murray, who writes in a number of genres, is the author of the January release in Barbour’s new Destination Romances line, A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana.

Murray was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and has traveled extensively throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Ordained as a Baptist minister in 1986, he’s served five churches in Canada and headlined numerous speaking engagements in Canada and the U.S. He recently left the pulpit to write full-time.

Murray has four novels published, as well as two sets of short stories, three non-fiction works, inclusion in two anthologies, and commentary work with Richard J. Foster. He has five more contracted books at various stages of the publishing process, including his Amish romance, Wings of Morning, that will be released by Harvest House in February. He was a contributor to the Life With God Bible, has been a finalist for The Paraclete Fiction Award, The Dartmouth Book Award, and The John Spencer Hill Literary Award, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Kobzar Literary Award of Canada.

Now that we’ve had a brief introduction, let’s learn a little more about Murray and his writing.

The stereotypical romance writer is female, so I’m impressed when I find a man who has embraced the genre. What do you see as the challenges and benefits of being a male romance writer?

I have a mother, a sister, a wife, and a daughter, and I have worked alongside female colleagues since I was young. So as a male romance writer my challenge is to reflect what I have seen and learned of the wonderful women in my life in the female characters I portray, especially the heroine. The advantage is, as someone looking in on the female heart and spirit from the outside, I see and value and highlight things that women writers might overlook or take for granted and so not portray. Women, in their strength and depth and mind and soul, are fascinating and I want to express as much of that as I can in my writing.

A number of your stories deal with the Amish faith. What is your experience with the Amish, and what aspects of the religion do you find most appealing?

In southern Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas, I grew up and went to college with a lot of Mennonite youth and, for a time, was a member of a Mennonite church. Since the Amish and Mennonites share a common heritage I learned a lot about the Amish from my Mennonite friends. What is most appealing to me in the Mennonite and Amish traditions are the emphases on community, on truly taking care of one another, and their stance against solving matters with retribution or conflict. They really do turn the other cheek.

You’ve explored many parts of the world. Of all the places you’ve visited, which was your favorite, and why?

Oh, boy. Let’s divide that up into regions. If I’m in America, I love the beaches and jungles of Florida, the rugged grandeur of the southwest that includes New Mexico, Arizona, and California, and the green lushness and friendliness of the Deep South. Overseas, I love the landscape and people of the UK (the English, Irish, Scots, and Welsh), the desert and palm beauty of Israel and the spirit of the Israelis, and I am staggered by the power of the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal. I’m one of those persons that is fascinated by many cultures and climates and landforms, though I must say I rest most easily where there is an abundance of light.

You describe yourself as a mountain man, which leads me to believe you like the outdoors as well as adventure. What are your favorite outdoor activities?

We have two wonderful Alaskan Malamutes and I love to run them in all kinds of weather – we see so much wildlife on our daily excursions. Hiking and camping are big deals and so is wilderness photography. Going far into the backcountry is one of the most peaceful and restoring things I know and I do it whenever I can. We live right by the Rocky Mountains so you don’t have to go far to get into true wilderness. A man can pray anywhere, but there is something about meeting Christ among the deep forests and tall peaks and fast rivers that is special.

If we were to take a peek in your garage, what would we learn about you?

Lol. If at night, you’d have to pet the Malamutes who have their bed in one corner right by the wood box – and the wood box is there because we have a stove in the living room that takes the edge off cold winter days. All the sleeping bags and camping gear would tell you we like to tent in out-of-the-way places. The gun safe would make it clear we like target shooting, black powder and western re-enactment, and the occasional hunt to feed the family. You’d see our recycling bin, the oil painting sets for out-of-doors, my workbench and tools, the flags of Canada and the USA hanging together, and our Christmas decorations and the children’s keepsakes stored in Roughneck boxes. I guess you’d learn a lot about what makes me and mine tick.

Murray’s Question for You

Outside of things like a strong Christian faith, courage, and, I suppose, good looks, what are the three qualities you most admire and want to see in your male heroes?

Learn About A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana

Join the chase as an unlikely foursome, threatened by a ruthless gang of ne’er-do-wells, strives to reach safety. Montana ranchers Zephaniah Parker and Charlotte Spence are determined to get two Amish children, who witnessed their family’s massacre, back home to relatives in Pennsylvania. Will they succumb to the plans of blood-thirsty outlaws or reach Bird-in-Hand alive?

Along the treacherous trek, Charlotte and Zephaniah’s friendship blossoms into love. Will wedding bells soon chime, or will Charlotte’s startling admission forever silence potential peals? How will God redeem outlaws and law-abiding citizens in this epic Old West adventure?

• • •

To learn more about Murray, visit his website, personal blog, and Facebook group page.

He’s also a contributing member of Amish Reader.com, sponsored by Harvest House.

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Keli Gwyn
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