Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letting bookstores do the selling

What follows is a slightly modified version of an email I sent to the participants of the Murder We Write blog tour I am currently on. I’m not as sanguine about blog tours as most authors are these days, but I have to say the camaraderie with the other writers (many of whom are with OTP) has been worth the hard work.

The background was that we were talking about people pricing their kindle books at ninety-nine cents.  I rely primarily on bookstores to sell my books.  I know I’m swimming upstream. And I hear the stream is about to run dry.  But that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it. There are approximately 100,000 mysteries on offer at Amazon and no staff who consult with customers. Yes, you can do a search. But if you’ve never heard of Mike Orenduff or the Pot Thief (and about three-hundred-million Americans fall into that category), the chances of you selecting one of my books on Amazon are slim. But I know that every book I place in a bookstore will sell and lead to more sales.  Of course bookstores I’ve never heard of order my books, and I’m grateful to them. Most of those books sell, but some are returned. I can hear Billie uttering a bad word at this point.

However, the signed books I personally leave at bookstores are never returned because I don’t take returns. And every bookstore that has taken a signed book from me has eventually ordered more. In some cases, the order may be for just four books. Other orders have been for as many as a hundred. And those orders repeat periodically. Some stores order once or twice a year. Some order every month.

Earlier this fall, I did a signing at The Bookshelf and Gallery in Thomasville, Georgia.  The Bookshelf is an appealing store run by an energetic young couple in a town of about 25,000 that still has a bustling downtown.  There was a lot of traffic, and the owners and staff seemed to know most of the customers by name. I sold only three books, but that didn’t disappoint me because they asked me to leave eight books  – two of each title. Those are gone, and they have re-ordered. Last month, I placed 4 books at E. Shaver Bookseller, a fine little independent store in the historic district of Savannah. I did not do a signing as it was a cold call, but they were excited about the books and displayed them by the front door before I had even left the building.

Lai and I had reasons to be in Thomasville and Savannah, so placing the books was a bonus. But even had special trips been required, I would have made them despite the fact that the gasoline would have cost more than I made on the books. Those few books are merely a beginning. I see every bookstore signing and visit as an investment.

Some of you have heard me explain my strategy – get books in as many stores as possible and let them do the selling. And since this strategy works mostly with indie stores, the loss of Borders was not an issue for me.

I grew up in an age when talk about personal finances was considered tacky, but I have to mention it to finish my point. I get a 50% royalty on Kindle sales. So if my books are priced at .99, that’s half a buck. But when a book sells in a bookstore, I gross $8.97 (60% of the cover price). I can buy the books for $6.50 including shipping costs if I order in bulk, so I make $2.47 on each sale. It costs me about fifty cents a book to mail them, so I make almost $2.00 a book for every book sold in a store. Traveling to a new store costs money, but once I have secured a retailer, all I have to do is receive the orders – almost all by email – and mail the books. And all the costs of this operation come off my income tax.

And the best part is spending time in all those bookstores.

I know this may not last. Bookstores may go the way of record stores. I figure bookstores are not likely to be here in twenty years, but then neither am I. So I’ll continue to let booksellers sell my books and concentrate my time on writing. And looking for my glasses. And getting up out of a chair. And all the other wonderful challenges that age brings along with wisdom. I think I’d trade the wisdom for a bit of youth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beatlemania strikes again!

Fab Four expert Steve Marinucci gave my book a nice review on his Beatles Examiner website in "A murder mystery at a Beatles fan convention? Help!"

Sally Carpenter's book, "The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper," creates a whodunit in an unlikely setting -- a Beatles fan convention.
The central character is Sandy Fairfax, a former '70s teen idol who, in his prime, played a young adult TV detective. He now becomes the chief suspect in the murder of a tribute band musician and decides to try and clear his name.

The book is filled with numerous Beatles references ("Who was that?," Scott asked. "The Blue Meanie," Bunny said") and stereotypes anyone who has been to a Beatle convention will recognize ("That's Valleri. Most of the fans steer clear of her. She hates anyone that knows more about the Beatles than she does or has gone to more concerts or has a better record collection").

And in the end, the case is solved, but not before Fairfax meets some unusual characters and plays in a rooftop concert all in one weekend.

The murder and convention angles add unusual elements to what is definitely a very unconventional Beatles-related novel and retro mystery that will be of interest to fan fiction fans.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Review: A murder mystery at a Beatles convention? Help! - National Beatles Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/beatles-in-national/review-a-murder-mystery-at-a-beatles-convention-help#ixzz1eSCtor4V

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunny here.
The blog has become book promotion. However, I spotted this tidbit and thought I'd share.

Seems Penguin has decided to start doing self-publishing. This used to be called "Vanity Press" and a lable that small, or indie presses, have fought against for years. If you want to have the name of a quality outfit like Penguin on your book cover, it will only cost you between $99 and $594.

Is this what it's come to? Really? I mean, when it's possible to download your books to Kindle for no cost, how is Penguin able to justify this ploy?

The more I read, the prouder I feel about what we're accomplishing over at Oak Tree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

John Daniel - Behind the Redwood Door

John Daniel's Blue Heron, the sheriff in his novel " BEHIND THE REDWOOD DOOR", is interviewed by Paula Petty in her blog Paula's Coppers: http://www.paulapetty.com/paulas-coppers.html

Michael Orenduff " The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy"

We have another review of one of our authors. It comes from Manic Readers , a website that has reviewed many of our books as of lately. They score with a 5 star system. Mike has recieved a 4 1/2 star review! Great Job!

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy centers around extremely rare and beautiful Ma pots from the mysterious San Roque pueblo. San Roque is the Spanish name; the Indians refer to themselves as the Ma and these pots are sacred to them. A former UNM professor, Masoir, believes the recently retired head of the Anthropology Department, Gerstner, never returned them; that he, in fact, stole them.
This sets Hubert off to find out if the pots are indeed in Gerstner’s apartment in the Rio Grande Lofts and another adventure.
The Pot Thief mysteries are intelligent without being condescending. There’s a wonderful sense of humor with Hubert often leaning toward self-deprecating, but never mean. The flow is easy and laid back, the writing clean and uncluttered even while being descriptive enough to make me feel I’m in Albuquerque. I love Hubie’s description of the sound of the Ma language, “I liked hearing the sibilant consonants that sounded like dry leaves being chased by the wind across sandy ground.” I’ve never heard the Ma language but this gives me such an incredible sense of the sound that I can hear it in my head. I never fail to learn quite a few truly interesting tidbits when reading the series.
The characters are a joy to spend time with. Susannah and Hubie’s relationship is delightful. I love the laugh out loud banter between them and look forward to 5 o’clock margaritas at Dos Hermanas Tortilleria. Susannah is steadily working her way through the university’s catalog while she searches for “a nice guy.” Hubert is, well Hubert.
Ms. Gladys and her casseroles, Tristan the techno geek (but adorable to women) nephew, Father Groaz (of the thick accent), Martin Seepu of a local pueblo who sells Hubie pots his uncle makes, Whit Fletcher the cop who often bends the rules for Hubie, Layton Kent big shot lawyer extraordinaire, and last but not least Consuelo and Emilio to whom Hubie is devoted. Then there’s Albuquerque, NM itself; the landscape, culture, food, peoples past and present, the lore all permeate The Pot Thief mysteries creating an indelible sense of place as important as the wonderful characters.
For someone who claims he isn’t a burglar, Hubie is becoming extremely adept at breaking and entering. Once again the book he’s reading, Ptolemy, plays into his mental efforts to solve the problem of the Ma pots and the murder that just happens to occur along the way. Can Hubie, with the help of Susannah, margaritas, Tristan, and a few other friends solve the mystery of the missing Ma pots? Who is the beautiful and successful Stella? She keeps telling everyone they know her but Hubie doesn’t have a clue, though she does look familiar. He has to wonder why she’s so interested. After all, he’s not the type of fella women like Stella are usually attracted to. Will Hubie solve the mysteries of the Ma pots, the murder, and Stella? You’ll just have to read The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy to find out. You won’t be disappointed.
The second in the series is stronger and even more enjoyable than the debut. I’m so hooked and looking forward to the next two.
Simply put I LOVE The Pot Thief mysteries.

If you would like to see the review in its original form you can at http://www.manicreaders.com/index.cfm?disp=reviews&bookid=16816

Monday, November 14, 2011

This appeared on the Creatures and Crooks Blog (a wonderful site for reviews by the way) http://cncbooks.com/blog/

Angel Lost
F. M. Meredith
Dark Oak Mysteries, February 2011
ISBN No. 978-1610090056
Trade Paperback

The small town of Rocky Bluff in Ventura County is abuzz with excitement.  An angel is sighted in the window of a downtown store.  Residents gather to view the angel and give their opinion as to the reason the angel has appeared.  Most agree that it is a miracle but no one knows how the angel happened to appear.

There’s also a lot of excitement regarding the forthcoming marriage of Officer Stacey Wilbur and Detective Doug Milligan of the Rocky Bluff Police Department.  The wedding has been planned down to the smallest detail with Stacey’s family and friends all pitching in to make Stacey’s wedding a day to remember.

Abel Navarro, Stacey and Doug’s fellow worker, has a lot on his mind.  Abel’s mother is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s.  The new addition to the Rocky Bluff Police Department, Vaughn Aragon, a transfer from Los Angeles, is having  second thoughts about requesting the transfer to Rocky Bluff.  Vaughn is haunted by a shooting that happened in Los Angeles but is not comfortable enough to share his experience with his fellow officers.

However, there is more going on than the angel miracle and the personal happenings of the officers in the close knit community.  The department has received several complaints about an early morning jogger who is flashing women on the beach.  When Stacey takes on the job of attempting to catch the jogger, she runs into more trouble than she ever expected.

This is the seventh book in the Rocky Bluff series.  The book can be read as a stand-alone.  Many of the characters have been highlighted in previous books in the series and readers will be glad to see their return.  Although a lot of the book dwells on happy events, there is plenty of crime going on in Rocky Bluff to keep the readers glued to the book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2011.

(Patricia let me know about the review which she sent many places--but for some reason it took awhile to appear on this blog.)


Friday, November 11, 2011

Yet another older title comes alive....

Manic Readers has been very busy reviewing several of our authors books, and many of them have been our older titles. Here is yet another for your reading pleasure. Great Job Augustus Cileone !~~

Maxwell Hunter is an English teacher for Eastern Friends School in Pennsylvania. Hunter has a keenness for mystery solving and is a perfectionist who specializes in detail. Because of Hunter’s position at the school and his familiarity with the people involved, Lt. Frank DiSalvo decides to ask for his help in solving the murder of George Wheeler. But, as it turns out, Wheeler isn’t the only one to be murdered as other bodies begin to pile up, each with bazaar circumstances and each in some way connected with the school. Because of his sharp eye for detail and his ability to assemble pieces of a puzzle, Hunter is able to identify a literary modus operandi. Can he use his knowledge to predict the next attack and prevent another murder?
I felt an immediate dislike for the protagonist Hunter, to me an aging hippie with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and in most instances would have stopped reading at that time. I’m glad I didn’t. A Lesson in Murder is a good story, the other characters are interesting and well developed and the plot is good as well. Overall it’s a good read and was well worth overlooking my aversion for one main character.

If you would like to See the review you can at http://www.manicreaders.com/index.cfm?disp=reviews&bookid=17235

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now the Real Work Begins!

I now see how publishing a book can become addictive. Seeing my first Oak Tree book, "Ants on a Log", on the Amazon and Barnes and Nobel Websites is a thrill. It makes me want to write and publish more children's stories. I'm sure all you established authors know this feeling.

Although I have self-published over 30 titles on Blurb.com, it doesn't compare to the wider circulation and exposure Oak Tree has provided. Thanks to Billie and all the great staff at Oak Tree for your assistance in making this happen, Beryl Reichenberg

guesting with our Marilyn Meredith

Today on Marilyn's always interesting blog, http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/, I write about the "inspiration" for my new book, CLOSE-UP. I know inspiration is an amorphous word meaning almost anything to anybody, but I went back over my other eight standalone mysteries in my Margot & Max series, and I realized that each story had it's OWN story of why I decided to devote all that time to it!

For CLOSE-UP, I was privy to a backstage conversation between a director of photography and the makeup artist on a shoot for I forget what, probably a TV commercial. What I heard between these two production professionals was interesting to say the least. Out of context conversations always seem curious to me. They can lead to misinterpretation and misunderstandings or in this case, the couple of sentences I overheard led me to write 75,000 more words!

Thanks, Marilyn, for letting me describe how it happened!


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Astral Gift

I thought just for fun, I'd promote The Astral Gift which is available from Oak Tree Press on Kindle.

This was the first mystery I ever wrote. It has quite a varied history. First it was published by a publishing company in Canada that turned out to be crooked. At first they acted like any publishing company--then they began doing strange things. When they published The Astral Gift, I had a great book
signing set up and the company sent 50 books. Nearly all were sold. When I approached them for more books, they disappeared off the face of the earth. That meant no more books and no royalties at all.

Then I found a small publisher in Bakersfield who published the book as a mass market paperback as it had been previously. It sold moderately well. (This is the publisher who published the first of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and later passed away unexpectedly.)

I found another publisher, this one published the book as an e-book and trade paperback. Though I could tell the book was selling, I received no royalties. This publisher had other books of mine and still no royalties. I finally asked for an accounting and he sent me a really small check, but no accounting. Time to sever the relationship--and I did.

Eventually, I met Billie, she published my Rocky Bluff P.D. series that had been published by the publisher I just spoke about, then another publisher who did two of the books then decided to go out of business. When Kindle books became so popular--Billie agreed to put that one on Kindle which really hasn't done much.

I had a great time writing it, it's all about a young woman who was abused as a child and used astral projection as an escape. When she's grown, the astral projection returns unbidden and she has no control over it. When her roommate is murdered, she becomes the primary suspect because she knows too much about the crime. Of course there's some romance thrown in.

Have I ever astral projected? No, but you can research anything. I had a reader tell me that he knew I had because I described it so well. So--if you want to try something different, order The Astral Gift for your Kindle.