Sunday, September 26, 2010

Writers Write--and Do a Lot of Other Stuff Too

If you are a true writer, you'll spend some time most days writing, thinking about writing, or editing.

Unfortunately, if you want people to read what you've written, then you must also do some promoting. I know there are people out there who don't like that part of being a writer--and to be honest, most of us would rather just write.

However, if you want to sell books and keep your publisher happy, you better set aside some time each day to promote. Try all sorts of promotion--then settle on those that work best for you.

At the very least a writer should have a web page. (A blog can serve as a web page too especially now that most of them have more than one page you can use.)

Any web page should be easy to read and to navigate. On it should be your book covers, something about each book, links to buy the books, your photo, one you don't mind being used elsewhere, something about you (an online press kit), where you will be making personal appearances,anything else that you think might interest readers. For other ideas, check out my web site at http://fictionforyou.com and it's important to keep your web site up-to-date.

My personal blog is http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com and I try to have a new post on my blog everyday. You can do more than one post and set them up to come out on different days. I also like to interview authors on my blog. This is free advertising for the author. I've offered this to all OTP authors, but only a few have taken advantage of it.

I also blog regularly on other blogs such as the Stiletto Gang http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com
where I post every Tuesday, Make Mine Mystery http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com
on the first and third Tuesdays, and I recently took on posting twice a month at http://criminalmindsatwork.blogspot.com These blogs I was invited to post to, but I'm sure because of the fact that I kept my own blog up.

Because OTP has it's own blog and if you're an OTP author, then be sure to post here ever so often and don't forget to post on your assigned day. This was mine. Also read the posts and leave comments--put your name on the bottom of your posts so people can easily see who you are. OTP's blog has many followers who aren't OTP authors.

Leave comments on blogs you visit. One more way to get name recognition.

And then there's Facebook and Twitter. Both are places where you can drive people to your blogs. Be careful though, don't just use these social networking sites to promote, write a bit about what's gong on in your life. Personally, I think you should avoid making political statements or rant about anything or anyone that might end up hurting you.

If you belong to a lot of social networking sites, use Ping.fm to alert all the sites at once about something new.

I like to do blog tours when I have a new book out and will be doing one in November for my new mystery with my other publisher. When I have a new Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, I'll do another blog tour. I've found they are good for getting numbers down on Amazon.

You should also do some in-person events and book tours. Fellow OTP author, Mike Orenduff is the champion when it comes to those. I hope one day he'll do a blog on how he set his book tours.

I've found one independent bookstore that likes me to come and give a talk about twice a year and there's always a good turnout. I love book festivals and craft fairs. I have a couple of favorite writers and mystery cons--of course there's the PSWA conference, http://policewriter.com and Mayhem in the Midlands where I've gone enough that I have a following.

Anyway, that's a start. No one writer has to do the same things--but you must do something.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

P.S. When this comes out I'll be at my family reunion in Barstow. I wrote this a week ahead of time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PLEASURE & BUSINESS

Hi everyone!

I wanted to tell you a little about the San Luis Obispo Book Fair Billie and I attended last weekend on the Pacific Coast. It was wonderful weather, I was selling with the Sisters in Crime and Marilyn Meredith had the table right next to ours. Billie was launching Jetta's Journey with the author and Jetta, a service dog. We all did great sales.

Now for the business part. John Lindermuth, who is soon to be published with our Western line, has an interview over at http://catemasters.blogspot.com/p/about.html Go over and leave John a message and then contact Cate and see about getting your own interview or review. I also spotted a site listed called http://www.NightOwlReviews.com If you link with one of their sites (I went with paranormal but they also have suspense) you can be linked back. I see potential here.

Paperback Swap

Has anyone ever tried paperbackswap.com? It's a free service that you register for, and then you list books you have that you want to trade. When someone requests your book, you mail it to them media mail at your cost, usually less than $2.50, and when the person receives the book, you get a credit. With your credit, you can order a book on the site and whoever is trading that book mails it to you at their cost.

Considering how expensive some books are, the cost of shipping one book can be significantly less than buying a new book. The caveat is that some books have a long waiting list because a lot of people want the same book, such as an Evanovich or a Patterson, but a lot of people also list those books when they finish reading the.

I usually try to buy my books on Kindle, because I'm one of those instant gratification type of people and because the books are usually cheaper, but with the big houses setting the price of their books on Kindle, I'm finding many of the Kindle books are priced too high.

What I found most interesting about paperbackswap was that you can see how many people are hoping for your book- 2 people were wishing for Gumbo Justice, but Mike Orenduff's Pot Thief books had more wishers, and Sunny and Marilyn Meredith also had wish lists for their books.

I understand that if someone gets Gumbo Justice by swapping one of their own books I don't make any money off of it, and some writers may object to the service thinking of it as losing a sale. But my assumption is that the people waiting for Gumbo Justice either won't or can't buy the book themselves, and if it gets swapped at least it means someone new is reading it. Maybe they'll like it so much they'll end up purchasing the second one, or another Oak Tree Press book.
I started by listing two books. One was a book my mother gave me I didn't want in the first place, the other was a copy of Gumbo Justice. Gumbo Justice was requested the same day I listed it, the other book the following day. I mailed them both out and received my credit to choose a book in two days. I ordered a Lee Child I didn't want to buy because his books tend to keep a high price, and the cost of shipping a book out was several dollars cheaper than the cost of the book I wanted.

I listed Gumbo Justice as an experiment, and it was requested by a woman in Baton Rouge, about an hour from New Orleans. She let me know when she got it, and two days later emailed me how much she loved the book and asked when was the second one coming out. She also said she would do a review and post it around once the whole book sunk in, and she was "speechless and shaken." On a completely ego level, it was more than worth the price of my book to get the contact from her.

Also, not considering my own sales, a lot of times I don't buy books because of cost and space, so this works for me because I can get a book cheaper, but am sending out a book so I'm utilizing the same amount of shelf space. Also, if I don't love a book, I can list it and hope someone else wants it so I'm not stuck with it.

I don't know if it will continue to work out as well, but I enjoy saving a few dollars since I buy so many books. The book is yours when you receive it, so you don't have to trade it if you really like it. Right now the service is free, but they've indicated at some point in the future they may do a small yearly fee like $10 per year or something like that. If it ends up costing a yearly fee, I don't know if I would continue to do it, I would have to see how many books I actually end up trading.

They also have a DVD and separate CD trading service that I registered for but haven't tried yet. I don't know about CD's because I can download a song for less than a dollar if I really like it and put it on my own CD, without having to pay for all other the songs on the CD I don't really want, but the DVD program might be useful with DVDs being so expensive and the cost of shipping a movie to someone cheaper than the cost of a pay-per-view movie.

To me the site was worth checking out just to see the wish lists for my book, as well as other Oak Tree books, and to see which authors have the most people waiting for their books.

Holli Castillo
www.gumbojustice.net

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pythagoras a finalist

I'm happy to let you all know that it was announced today that The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras is a finalist for the New Mexico Book of the Year Award in two categories, Mystery and First Book Published by the Author. Even if I don't win, it gives me an excuse for another trip to the Land of Enchantment for the awards ceremony in November.

Mike Orenduff

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Marketing Novel Excerpts

This past week, as a writing and marketing exercise, I submitted excerpts from my novel, In Franklin's House, to five print publications. After I had selected a section from the book (approximately 3,000 words) that with minor modifications would stand alone as a short story, I checked word length requirements at the targeted magazines.
At one publication the editor wanted 1,000 words maximum, while other editors accepted 5,000 words. Beginning with the lesser figure as a goal, I first eliminated any non-essential paragraphs from the text; next deleted sentences, but mostly editing came down to slicing phrases and words that didn't advance the material. This became quite a quest: to test each word; to see if each could serve dual purposes.
After this minimalist approach--and, yes, I made the 1,000 count--I questioned if my longer version had padding; then stripped 500 words from it.
Naturally I hope that one or more of these submissions is accepted. However, I'm grateful for the revision lesson. It affirmed that although novel and short story writing don't always equate, the judicious examination of words benefits any writer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Self-introduction

Hello OTP authors and readers. My name is C.K. Crigger, and as the first contracted author for the new Wild Oaks Western line, I thought I should take a moment and introduce myself. Some of those on this blog I’m digitally acquainted with; most of you, I am not.

I live in the Inland Northwest, and I set the books I write here, too. The book contracted by OTP is titled TWO FEET BELOW, and features China Bohannon, my 1890s bookkeeper who works in her uncle’s—and his partner’s—detective agency, and who regularly manages to get herself into trouble. I call my genre Western Suspense. Since I feel a person is incomplete without a dog, I’ve given China a charmer, in this case, a Bedlington terrier. If you’re unfamiliar with the breed, be sure to look it up. I think you’ll find Beddies unusual in appearance and the perfect specimen of dogdom to be included in my book.

I have an extensive list of reviewers, some of whom will review e-books. If anyone would like to compare notes, email me at ckcww@aol.com.

Carol
www.ckcrigger.com

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Business in India

With over a billion people and many who speak English there is a tremendous market for US businesses. Following some etiquette rules of doing business will start you in the right direction.
.Men are expected to wear a suit & tie for business
.Women should wear long pants or dresses
.The use of leather products belts or handbags may be considered offensive
.Never's touch someone else's head, adult or child
.Standing with your hands on your hips will be interpreted as an angry or aggressive posture
.Never point your feet at another person, they are considered unclean
.Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver
.Business lunches are preferred over dinners
.Never directly refuse an invitation, use evasive refusals or "I'll try"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

KILLER NASHVILLE?


Despite its title, Killer Nashville was one of the most benign conferences I've ever attended. There were only about 300 attendees, all Southerners except for a San Francisco agent and me. At dinner, the two of us wondered when mac 'n cheese and Jello had become “vegetable side dishes.” Welcome to Tennessee!

I went to see Jeffrey Deaver. It amazed me that such a small conference managed to get him as keynote. I told him that he was much more fun in person than his books led me to believe. He says he likes to write in complete darkness—perhaps that explains his dark plots.

Surprisingly, most of the participants were unpublished authors looking for agents and publishers. I turned out to be one of the “big” names on the program. Pitch sessions were constantly going on but Billie and I had side-stepped that obligation. I'm an acquisitions editor and we did pitch sessions on the fly. I picked up three promising authors and several others emailed me query letters.

My panels were short story writing and “Lightening in a Bottle,” which was marketing. I talked about the “posse” idea of promotion, which is simply leading a pack of beginners to sites and teaching them to blog and set up personal pages (I'm on 35 such sites). That became a buzz word used throughout the conference.

One of the panelists on the marketing panel pooh-poohed the whole idea of little marketing give-aways. Heck, I love them and love coming up with something creative. Mine usually center around food: miniature boxes of raisins because my books are set in the Fresno area, Raisin Capitol of the World. I also ordered fortune cookies from Oriental Traders with my name and book title as the fortune because a fortune cookies is a clue in FOOLS RUSH IN. The next book, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, has a bottle of heart pills as a clue. I got prescription bottles, ordered labels with my book cover and my name, and filled the bottles with candy hearts or red hots. We don't buy Cracker Jacks for the stale popcorn. We want the prize inside!

There was little humidity for August and I never got to actually see Nashville. The city is still recovering from the floods and the Grand Ol' Opry isn't open. The hotel was “a good piece aways” as they would say in the South. Billie and I couldn't fight our need for a Mexican food fix and found a great restaurant. They screwed up her order (twice!) so we got free flan for dessert.

I may never get out that way again, but it was a terrific, homespun conference to experience.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Waiting

If there is one virtue everyone will admit I lack it is patience. I am waiting with baited breath for my book to arrive from the press. Fairytales Are Fragile should be on my doorstop just in time for two booksignings this upcoming weekend. With author Tish Cook, I will be set up in Petersburg for their fall festival on September 18th and on Sunday, September 19th at Engels on Edwards in Springfield, Illinois. The problem is, the wait, the interminable, long week ahead! My mother always said, "The best things come to those who wait" so I guess I will take heed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oh My Goodness!




Friend and fellow author, Madeline Gornell just wrote the most wonderful blog about one of the characters in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Gordon Butler, and in particular, his part in An Axe to Grind.

http://mmgornell.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/rocky-bluff-and-a-spare-bedroom/

When someone says such wonderful words about your writing and a special character you can't help feeling proud.

A lot of my readers have told me Gordon Butler is their favorite character and because of this the book I'm writing now features Gordon. It won't be the next one out, because that one is already written and in the queue for 2011. Yes, Gordon has a big part in that one too.

Gordon has always been the comic relief in the Rocky Bluff P.D. If something bad is going to happen to one of the officers, it will probably be Gordon. He acts before he thinks too often which often cause him difficulties.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when Madeline sent me this blog to see.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Sunday, September 5, 2010

BLOG TALK RADIO

Blog Talk Radio
By
Denny Griffin

Authors spend a lot of time thinking and talking about promoting themselves and their books. Most of us who have been involved in the writing business for any length of time have developed various promotion techniques that work for us. And we’ve probably discarded many times that number that proved to be flops.

One method I tried was to start my own show on Blog Talk Radio. I got the idea when I was booked as a guest on a BTR show during my Virtual Book Tour. Afterward, I researched BTR hosting opportunities and liked what I found. It was free, could be done from home, and could be heard by anyone with a computer and Internet capability.

I began my BTR career in December 2007, with a series of weekly programs titled Meet the Author. Those were half hour commercial-free shows, in which I interviewed newly published authors. It gave the guests an opportunity to get their name and book information out and also provided me with the chance to bring my own name to the attention of the listeners.

However, I need to point out that like everything else I’ve encountered since I started writing, success didn’t happen overnight. My first show had only a dozen listeners. After several weeks the audience increased to about 100 for most shows. And after a few months, I was reaching between 250 and 300 listeners. Were those earth-shattering numbers? Certainly not. But my name was becoming known to people who otherwise probably would never have heard of me. Plus, it was fun and didn’t cost me a dime.

I think that more important than the show itself; I began getting offers to guest on other BTR shows. In those venues I was able to talk about myself and my books; something I couldn’t do on my own program.

As my name recognition grew through BTR and other efforts, I decided I could increase my audience by switching programming from author shows to true crime. I’m currently co-hosting the Crime Wire show on Tuesday nights with domestic violence expert Susan Murphy-Milano, and renowned private investigator Vito Colucci. Our audience numbers in the thousands.

So I don’t look at just the results of Meet the Author in determining the success or failure of my BTR efforts. I consider what happened as a result of that first program and where I am today. And in that context, I’m convinced that BTR was one of my better decisions.

If you’re an author looking for more exposure and haven’t considered doing your own show on BTR, I encourage you to give it some thought. It can be a lot of fun and the price is right.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BLOG TALK RADIO

Blog Talk Radio
By
Denny Griffin

Authors spend a lot of time thinking and talking about promoting themselves and their books. Most of us who have been involved in the writing business for any length of time have developed various promotion techniques that work for us. And we’ve probably discarded many times that number that proved to be flops.

One method I tried was to start my own show on Blog Talk Radio. I got the idea when I was booked as a guest on a BTR show during my Virtual Book Tour. Afterward, I researched BTR hosting opportunities and liked what I found. It was free, could be done from home, and could be heard by anyone with a computer and Internet capability.

I began my BTR career in December 2007, with a series of weekly programs titled Meet the Author. Those were half hour commercial-free shows, in which I interviewed newly published authors. It gave the guests an opportunity to get their name and book information out and also provided me with the chance to bring my own name to the attention of the listeners.

However, I need to point out that like everything else I’ve encountered since I started writing, success didn’t happen overnight. My first show had only a dozen listeners. After several weeks the audience increased to about 100 for most shows. And after a few months, I was reaching between 250 and 300 listeners. Were those earth-shattering numbers? Certainly not. But my name was becoming known to people who otherwise probably would never have heard of me. Plus, it was fun and didn’t cost me a dime.

I think that more important than the show itself; I began getting offers to guest on other BTR shows. In those venues I was able to talk about myself and my books; something I couldn’t do on my own program.

As my name recognition grew through BTR and other efforts, I decided I could increase my audience by switching programming from author shows to true crime. I’m currently co-hosting the Crime Wire show on Tuesday nights with domestic violence expert Susan Murphy-Milano, and renowned private investigator Vito Colucci. Our audience numbers in the thousands.

So I don’t look at just the results of Meet the Author in determining the success or failure of my BTR efforts. I consider what happened as a result of that first program and where I am today. And in that context, I’m convinced that BTR was one of my better decisions.

If you’re an author looking for more exposure and haven’t considered doing your own show on BTR, I encourage you to give it some thought. It can be a lot of fun and the price is right.

re Billie's "Quest for a clean manuscript"

Billie has been proofing/editing my latest and gave me the supreme compliment of saying "When you talk to new writers, you have to be sure to tell them how much the publisher appreciates well-polished mss like yours!! It certainly spoils me for the others...!!"

This and her latest, incredibly informative post on editing makes me want to share a few secrets I've picked up along the LONG road I've traveled in this writing business. First of all, I agree with EVERYTHING she says in her post. I was the short story fiction editor for the old Futures Mystery Magazine back in the 90's. First of all, believe me, NEATNESS counts! I would get to the point of simply not reading some of the mss submitted to me AND the first misspelling, or torture of grammar, would immediately stop me, as well. Why? Because life is short, an editor's life is hard, and the writing business is too competitive with too many decent writers out there to waste time with someone who, 1. either didn't know any better, or 2. worse, didn't care. Individual STYLE is one thing. Being careless or uninformed is quite another.

After all these years, I realize that I automatically follow eleven of the twelve self-editing tips Billie so kindly and clearly set down for us. I haven't done the back to front bit since I was a research ass't for a bunch of nutty history professors, but I'm going to reinstate that discipline.

And here are some of my suggestions for those Xmas BOOKS: I rely on the experts: Of course, a good dictionary AND Roget's Thesaurus, then the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, and a newer one by someone a lot of you probably know or have heard of, G. Miki Hayden's The Naked Writer. She's an Edgar award winning short story author and teacher and a fabulous editor (and I often email her with my grammar questions!) In this book she simply discusses ALL the mistakes her writing students continually make OVER AND OVER AGAIN and tells us why they are incorrect and how not to make the same mistakes. I refer to all three of these books ALL THE TIME!

Yes, I still make typos and yes, I still make mistakes. And I'm always appalled at the number of corrections I need to make to a manuscript before it's print ready. So I'm certainly not infallible, but my mss are much better than they used to be. I just wish I'd known Billie from the beginning! I am still profiting from her good advice.

Kit
www.kitsloane.net

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The final blog on the anniversary of Katrina posted today, part 3, at http://www.gumbojustice.blogspot.com/.

Please remember to leave a comment. I will be doing the drawing for Gumbo Justice over the weekend and will post the winner on the blog.

Holli Castillo
www.gumbojustice.net