Wednesday, September 28, 2011
It is now a finalist in the Supernatural/Metaphysical category in the Epic awards.
Lingering Spirit has a long history. The story is based on something that actually happened in our family long ago--and in fact, the book itself was written a long time ago. Then it was published as an e-book with a publisher that will not be named--it's enough for me to say that for various reason I pulled the book.
When I became acquainted with Billie Johnson and she'd published my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel (which was actually #5 in the series), she asked me if I had any other books. And of course, I gave her Lingering Spirit which became a trade paperback and then more recently appeared on Kindle, within the right time frame to be entered in the Epic contest.
I've had other books final in the Epic contest--some up against Mike Orenduff's wonderful Pot Thief series--and I've never won. Maybe this time will be a charm, who knows.
In any case, I'm thrilled. It's great to be a finalist again.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Jeana and I arrived about noon, and headed straight for the dealers room. Along the way, we bumped into Beth, the conference organizer for Killer Nashville, and had a chat with her. Also we spent a lot of time perusing the goodie tables and picking up interesting things, and notices of upcoming events.
In the dealer room, we chatted with several booksellers and Jeana handed out our catalog ... our BEAUTIFUL catalog. And presto! There was Radine Trees Nehring and her husband!
Then we connected with Mike Black and Shauna, who passed on celebrity bowling (I think!) to spend a little time with Jeana and me in the hospitality room.
It was a fast trip, but excellent. Now we are scheming to see if we can pull off attending LOVE IS MURDER!
Bouchercon is HUGE, but this one seemed really well-organized and well-laid out. This is a "movable feast" conference, so when it comes to your area, attend!
Sunday, September 25, 2011
- There’s nothing like a really good wild fire to spice up a book.
- Disasters are opportunities for character development
- Bad guys think they can harness catastrophe
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Here are some of the tips she gave:
Decide what your goals are. Check your publishing contracts. See if you have back lists title, books that you wrote but never got published that could become ebooks.
Develop your brand. Decide what you unique brand is. Make yourself stand out. Always put your name in the labels or tags on your blog.
If your going to prepare your ebook manuscript for posting on Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble PubIt, format your book correctly for each ebook distributor. Select the best ebook sites. Create POD copies for printed books. (Frankly, I'm quite happy to have a publisher who does this for me, yay, OTP. I have enough trouble finding time to write two books a year and do a good job promoting them.)
Be sure to have a good cover--pay for someone to do it. (Again, aren't we fortunate to have a great publisher who does the cover?)
Create cover and inside blurbs.
Post your ebooks. (Can take a long time.)
Use effective online and offline marketing to increase sales potential.
You must have your own blog and website.
Book reviews especially form online reviewers.
Comments on others' blogs.
Video book trailers
Use social media.
Boodreads/Library Thing, be an active part of these communities.
Business Cards. (They are my favorites, I handed out close to 100 at the CCWC and CC Book Festival this weekend.)
Press Release--she said this was old school and prefers HARO.
Amazon Author Central (If you haven't done this one yet, be sure to put it on your to-do list.)
Kindle Boards (Be careful with this, they aren't happy about authors' promoting, but do have special places you can do it.)
You decide where you are going to do your marketing. (Not all things work for all people--figure out what you enjoy and what actually seems to have results for you.)
Be yourself, be nice, be a friend, don't spam, just interact.
If you ever have the chance to hear Laurie McLean speak or take a workshop from her, do it, you won't be sorry.
(My comments are in the parenthesis.)
Books by Marilyn
This blog is for Oak Tree Press and when we post we need to do the best job ever.
A blog should have something interesting to say, give a report about something that happened, certainly should promote new books by Oak Tree Press. Reviews from Oak Tree authors would be most appropriate on this blog. Authors love promotion tips. A blog post should have between 200 and 500 words.
Every blog should have content and not just a URL to take someone away from the site.
If you want someone to go look at another blog you're on, fine, but first write something of interest, at least something about the blog, why you're there, anything that will be of interest, then put the URL.
If you have photos to share, put them up, they always perk up a blog.
When you do post, promote the blog. Go to Facebook and all the other places you frequent and let them know you put something new on the OTP blog so others will come and read the blog.
Hoping this will help the OTP blog to be a place readers frequent because of the content that appears here.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I'm not sure when my next one, CLOSE-UP, will be released, but I already have great, oversize postcards with the cover and the synopsis on the back with a favorite reviewer of the series quoted. I just put "Oak Tree Press, Fall 2011" at the bottom. This way I can give them out at the local events I have scheduled and, hopefully, whet some readers' appetites! It's good to order these postcards as early as you're able because, believe me, when they advertise "Overnight," they're being very optimistic!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Last year at the festival it was so windy that some of the umbrellas blew away and had to be chased down before they hurt someone, they did wipe out a couple of display tables.
The good weather brought lots of people out to see what was going on in front of the Old Mission. We were in a good spot and I had lots of visitors and good sales.
It was fun to chat with other OTP authors and see some perform at the author readings. (They happened right across the way from us so we didn't miss out on any.) Sunny was a hit as was Susan Vondrak.
One key to selling is to engage with people walking by. I didn't stand up like I usually do because I had a bum knee--but that didn't stop me from smiling and urging people to come closer to take a look at my books. I handed out all the business cards I'd brought, and I came with lots.
I wasn't as pleased with the talk I gave--it was a long ways to walk on a bum knee, it was way too hot in the room, the person who spoke before me was reluctant to leave so I didn't really have the time I needed to set up and I felt rushed. I probably won't do that again.
Fortunately, my husband manned the table while I was gone and he even made two sales.
This is a great book festival, and if possible, I'd like to go again.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Tomorrow I leave for San Luis Obispo for the annual one-day book event. It's outdoors in front of the mission. Besides books, there's music, speeches and lots of tables to check out. People walk their dogs and the riverwalk right below is gorgeous.
So, what are the tricks to handling such an event? Everyone does it differently, but here's my tips:
The table. Tables can cost, but I'm a member of the Central Coast Sisters in Crime and they always assign me time to man the table. We sell each other's books while they are speaking or enjoying the rest of the event.
I have a boxy cart with wheels and a long handle my sister picked up at Costco. Many of us travel with these carrying cases. In it are copies of my mysteries and the Valley Fever anthology. Many of the coast people have ties with the Valley people. Nice crossover.
My books are bound in a "set" with raffia and small plastic grape clusters I found at Michael's. I lower the price to $20 for the set, more likely to make easy sales and don't have to worry about change.
I also have the usual business cards and my editor cards. I steal my name cards from panels at conferences, so I keep a few of those in my cart. I also have cardboard book holders to keep my books upright and on display. They fold up and are very useful. A friend got them for me.
My give-aways are astrology-themed pencils. I will sharpen them then snap off the points so children won't stab their eyes out. I'm not big on children, but I'm not out to maim them.
Sometimes, when I have my own table, I have an astrology throw that I cover the table with. This time I'm only taking an astrology cup and saucer to put business cards in. My friends get me astrology stuff as they come across it.
And, I have a wooden tray with a winery logo to set my books on. Although my books are in raisin country, the people on the coast have all sorts of wineries.
I also have my signing book out to collect addresses. Remember, I have another book coming out and these are my potential customers.
I'm bringing a few Oak Tree Press catalogs to hand out to bookstores. There are about 5 of us OTP authors meeting there for the day.
Would love to hear how some of you experienced authors handle signings. For you pre-published authors, start thinking in terms of what's ahead.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Bouchercon is the biggest mystery event there is, meaning it has the biggest name mystery writers and the most people attending. I went to last year's in San Francisco and had a marvelous time. It can be a bit overwhelming because of the number of people.
Bouchercon is a great place to talk to other writers and meet fans--for an author with a small press it isn't the place to sell a lot of books. I didn't even try last year. My goal was to have a good time--and I did.
Left Coast Crime is also a convention--not quite as big or as intimidating as Bouchercon. Last year it was in New Mexico, and Oak Tree's own Michael Orenduff won the prestigious Lefty award. 2012's LCC is being held in Sacramento, and yes, I'm already signed up for that one.
Thrilller Writers have a convention too, so far it's always been in New York.
Romance writers have two huge conventions every year, one put on by Romantic Times and the other by Romance Writers of America. I've never been so can't really comment on what they are like except to say I know both are really expensive to attend.
A conference is an event where you got to learn something. Though there are panels and speakers at conventions that impart wisdom, a lot of what's going on is a showcase for authors and that's why the fans go to see and hear their favorites.
A conference like PSWA is geared to help writers of all kinds, mystery, non-fiction, etc. It is a writers conference.
This weekend I'll be an instructor at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo, my topics Mystery Writing 101, and The Importance of Setting, or Where the Heck Are We? Lots of stuff is going on around the conference too.
We'll be having dinner tonight with mystery authors Victoria Heckman and Sue McGinty and their significant others. Tomorrow the conference begins. Saturday is the day I give my classes, and that night there is a special party for all those who worked at the conference.
Sunday is the Central Coast Book and Author Festival where I'll have a table with my books--and a few other OTP authors will too. I'm giving a talk at 11 on Where I Get My Ideas.
So if you never knew before, that's the difference between a convention and a conference.
What you get out of any of these events is really up to you. It's important that you talk to everyone and not just hang out with friends. Have cards with your book cover on one side and information about you and your book on the other and give them out to everyone.
Those of you at Bouchercon, have a great time!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I'm doing a signing at the local Hastings bookstore this Saturday. I'm going to try lassoing the people who come in to rent movies. Think it'll work?
Monday, September 12, 2011
Last week the Acorn Newspapers in California ran an article about my book. Someone on the East Coast saw the story on the Internet and posted a link to her website, www.beatlesnews.com.
The power of the Internet continues to amaze me, that people across the country can be in instant communication and authors can send out publicity coast to coast in minutes. Stay tuned!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
I wasn't planning on a guest blog but when I read Keith's post I emailed him and asked him for permission to re-post it because I found it so compelling, particularly from him.
Jambalaya Justice now available
I was asked what an acquisitions editor does, so I wrote a sassy piece for the following site. Had much fun with the "Help Wanted" ad (fictional, of course).
Friday, September 9, 2011
For the third year in a row, I'll be at the Central Coast Book and Author Festival in the San Luis Obispo Mission Plaza, Sunday September 18 from 10 am to 4 pm. Held each year by the Foundation for SLO County Public Libraries, this event features public readings, book sales and various workshops. Also included is a display at county libraries of handmade book art and illustrations for published books. I'll have a table at the festival selling my children books, will participate in the public readings and have had several of my handmade books and illustrations displayed at the public libraries.
Like many book festivals, I find it is great fun talking with the public, especially the children who stop by my table. I encourage them to write and illustrate their own stories and publish them. As part of that encouragement, I show them a book my 4 year old granddaughter Zoe, wrote and illustrated and a story of mine illustrated by another 6 year old little girl. This interaction also gives me ideas for new stories and allows me to see how these children react to my books and illustrations. I find that children are very honest critics. I'm looking forward to this year's festival. If you're in town, drop by, Beryl Reichenberg
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
The rest of the family slept just fine, blissfully unaware that I was up, alternating between watching the news alerts and peering out the window, searching for funnel clouds. The weather isn't so bad at the moment, breezy with sporadic rain, but the storm hasn't even reached the coast yet. When it strikes land, we'll be in for a little action, because N.O. is going to be on what is referred to as the "wet side" of the storm, east of where the storm makes landfall.
I'm trying to decide how to use the downtime. I have promotion to do for Jambalaya Justice, my writer sites to catch up on and organize, and paperwork for my daughter's school--where I'm PTO president--to complete.
With all of that, the main thing I feel like doing is working on number three in the series, Chocolate City Justice. Coincidentally, I was contacted last night through Facebook by the fiance of one of the police officer defendants convicted in a major Katrina police shooting. She wanted to know if I might be appointed to represent her fiance on the appeal, but since it's a federal conviction and I'm appointed for state court only I won't be. She mentioned he read Gumbo Justice in a few hours and she is getting Jambalaya Justice for him to read while he awaits sentencing. I also mentioned to her how I am working on the third book which takes place during the hurricane and how eager I was to make sure I accurately and fairly portrayed the struggles faced by the NOPD during that time, and she said she would be happy to pass any questions along to him or set up a meeting with him. It's definitely a small world.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
So, I've been writing, writing, writing! Thankfully, I have a very understanding husband who encourages my passion, whether I'm writing as Deborah Merrell or Marva Dale. If you'd like to find out more about my work please visit my website at: merrellspassion.info. Plus, you can follow me on Twitter @merrellspassion and FaceBook. To me, writing is a great passion and I do it because I love it! And I'm just thrilled that others enjoy reading my works. Salud and happy reading! --Deborah Merrell/Marva Dale.
TWO FEET BELOW