Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BUILDING A BETTER MOUSETRAP

Sunny here. It seems every time I click on a discussion online from authors, all I see is moaning and groaning that all this media socializing we're encouraged to do doesn't produce sales. Authors point out that we seem to be “preaching to the choir.” Where are the readers we need to target? My question to the whiners is “What's your solution?” Doesn't anyone realize what a huge leap we've taken in the marketing department? When many of us started, there were limited opportunities to aim for a national readership unless you had a PR person to work with (at a high cost). Newspapers existed, but were not necessarily inclined to interview local authors. Self-published authors were looked down on. Should we go back to the good old days where we only had postcards, bookmarks, bookstores to do book signings? Geez Louise. Social media has somewhat leveled the playing field and even big-name authors have locked on this form of promoting. Let me say right off the bat that I LOVE marketing. To me, the challenge is to lure readers to my books. I'm willing to try different bait. Okay, not on board with my fishing analogy? How about this? Don't just think outside the box, look at the way the box is constructed, take it apart and put it back together in a way people haven't seen it before. Make it your box. In my opinion, promotion and acquiring a fan base is only limited by an individual author's lack of drive and/or imagination. We are, for the first time in author history, allowed full control of our career path. Nothing can hold us back except ourselves. Here's one whine I read in an online group I subscribe to: “I blog constantly but nobody orders my books.” I countered with “How many times have you ordered a book from reading a blog? Probably never, or you'd have a house full of books and an empty wallet. So, why expect people to do what you don't do yourself?” What DOES sell books? Aside from a well-written manuscript and creative storyline, personality (and mine is fairly obnoxious) sells books. Standing out from the crowd sells books. Getting attention sells books. An interesting way with words when you speak or blog sells books. Provoking conversation sells books. Whiners and wallflowers don't sell books. Isn't this what the buzz word “Branding” is all about? Oh, don't give me the tired complaint that we shouldn't have to “sell out” to sell. Why shouldn't we be as interesting as the characters we write about? Or, at least seem so with our public image? As writers, we spend a lot of time finding our writing “voice.” Why aren't we spending the same amount of time finding our marketing voice? Dig deep and figure out what makes you different. Bring that quality to the foreground. This isn't just with what you say, but how you say it. Lawrence Block once said voice was like “two people telling the same joke.” It's all in the delivery, folks. The same goes with marketing. My voice is coming atcha loud and clear in everything I've written in this piece. If this is the first time you've read my writing, you might notice I don't mince words. I don't play it safe. I have no problem calling people out. Many of you are familiar with my chafing personality. I suspect you chortle. I hope you learn. Final words of wisdom: When you find your brand, when your marketing voice comes through, HONE IT AND OWN IT.

Monday, May 28, 2012

NICE WORK by Denise Weeks wins 2011 Oak Tree Press contest


I had forgotten all about entering the 2011 Dark Oak Mystery Novel Contest.

You see, I entered on a whim. A friend sent me a link to the entry form and urged me to enter, thinking my work might be a good fit because I had enjoyed many Oak Tree Press books, including those in J. Michael Orenduff's POT THIEF series. It did stand to reason that if I liked his work, and the editors liked his work, our tastes might be similar. And because I like my own books--because I write the books I want to read--well, I gave it a shot and entered.

Then I promptly put it out of my mind. A writer can't dwell on any past submissions, but must go on to write something else. Otherwise, thinking about what's happening to your "children" out with editors would drive you crazy.

(And that's one thing writers never are: crazy. Right?)

After all, I have been at this writing stuff since I could hold a crayon. However, my first attempts at fiction were met with displeasure from my mother. She said my stories (verbal and written) counted as "lying," so I was frequently spanked and shamed over these efforts. But it didn't deter me, and soon my teachers were being charmed by my flights of fancy. Of course teachers are far easier to impress and please than New York editors, so my early juvenilia came winging back from the New Yorker offices with charming little rejection notes (I suspect from the tone of these notes that my correspondents knew they were dealing with an eight-year-old, and then with a twelve-year-old, and so on--my early poems and stories weren't exactly Archy and Mehitabel caliber).

Often it seemed I was spinning my wheels--I would say my "print wheels," but that would date me. (And I wouldn't date anyone who'd date me--BAZINGA!)

But one day in April I began to recieve intriguing messages in each of my
e-mail inboxes. From, of all people, the publisher and owner of Oak Tree Press herself, Ms. Billie Johnson. (!!!)

The messages said, "We are looking for Denise Weeks, author of NICE WORK . . . please contact us!!"

My heart leapt. What could it all mean? What, indeed. I started planning my book tour in my mind.

But I couldn't assume anything yet. I didn't know what she might want to ask me. (People do write to me for various reasons. No, REALLY.)

So I replied from my dominant e-mail address, saying that this was a good address for me and that I was at her service.

She replied quickly, telling me that my book, NICE WORK, was a finalist in the contest, and that she needed a marketing plan from me as soon as possible so that my book could be in the final round.

*SQUEEEEEE!*


The marketing questionnaire that she'd attached to her message was a new twist, but one that made sense. The book's marketability didn't matter as much as MY plan and my motivation to get out there and spread the word about it. It was, in fact, genius.

I filled out the questionnaire and sent it back. Then I crossed my fingers and toes and settled down to wait.

It seemed like a very long time before the list of finalists was posted on the Oak Tree Press main page. And there was my name, right at the top!

Okay, that was because the list was alphabetical and my title popped to the top of the list. But hey! Whatever.

So I couldn't help making a fuss on the 'net and telling everyone that my book was a finalist. They'd heard it all before, though, and weren't ready to pop the cork on the Ripple until a winner was named.

This past week, it became official! NICE WORK, the first novel in my Jacquidon and Chantal Carroll mystery series, has won the Dark Oak mystery contest and will be published by Oak Tree Press!

I signed and returned my copies of the contract (the Author's Agreement) and was named on the main Oak Tree Press webpage as the contest winner!

(Sorry about all the exclamation points, but I can't restrain myself.)

I can't tell you how excited I am about working with Oak Tree Press and beginning the process of publishing this novel. This is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. NICE WORK is a book of my heart.

It's also the first in a proposed series of Southern Sisters-style mysteries that will appeal to readers of traditional mysteries--but it does have much edgier moments. Judge the edginess for yourself:

Jacquidon Carroll thinks she has problems after she's diagnosed with diabetes and is laid off from her job the same week, but that's nothing compared to becoming a suspect in the murder of her ex-boss Yancey two days later. Can she get access to the evidence she needs to prove that Yancey was killed by his new employee, a young woman he "recruited" from an Internet sex site to participate in his erotic games--the same woman he then put into Jacquidon's job after "downsizing" her out?

To clear herself, Jacquidon and her intrepid sister Chantal begin to sleuth. The clues lead them through a network of local sex clubs and the seamy underside of the S&M (BDSM) lifestyle that her former boss and his ex-wife were involved in (to Jacquidon's surprise). Lucky for them, most of the denizens of the clubs are perfectly nice and are also amused by the two fearful young women, and are happy to give them the information they need.

But by the time they get the sort of proof they can take to the police, the murderer has figured out what the sisters have been up to--and intends to stop her the same way she stopped Yancey.


I've started two new blogs in honor of this accomplishment. First, I've opened a blog for the book itself, with whimsical posts from the points of view of Jacquidon Carroll and her sister Chantal, the Snoop Sister sleuths of the series.

Visit the book's own blog at
http://jackiesjotting.blogspot.com/


I have also kicked off a new blog to chronicle my adventure towards publication.
http://deniseweeks.blogspot.com/

Join me as we work our way towards a stack of signable books at the authors' table!

One may dream. And sometimes one's dream comes true!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Case of Hometown Blues Named Finalist

HUZZAH! We have just heard from Wendy Gager that her most recent Mitch Malone Mystery Novel is a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Published Division. The category is: Mainstream Mystery/Suspense for A Case of Hometown Blues. The winner will be announced at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Aneheim California in July.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Review for "Ants on a Log" Children's Story

I found my first review online from Night Owls Reviews for my children's story "Ants on a Log", calling it "an incredibly sweet" book "that sneaks in a little message alongside the story." I'm pleased with the four star rating. I'm wondering whether Oak Tree asked for this review. If they did, thank you. Beryl

REMEMBER THE PUEBLO?

By Sunny Frazier I was asked to write a piece for Memorial Day for Joanne Troppello's Mustard Seed Blog. It's posted at http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/1/post/2012/05/do-you-know-author-sunny-frazier.html She lists themes ahead of time and I was exceptionally pleased with how she presented my piece. I hope you take a look and find out what she has planned theme-wise in the future.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Radine Nehring Invited to Books in Bloom

BOOKS IN BLOOM, held in Eureka Springs AR, salutes books and authors with a charming outdoor festival...and again this year, Radine Trees Nehring was invited to speak.
Our thanks to her hubby (and official photographer!) John for sharing some pics from the event.
Radine has a busy summer planned, launching her new book, A FAIR TO DIE FOR, out now from...OTP, of course. Billie Johnson Publisher

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Writing your Bio

While working on another project that involved people having to write their bios, I was surprised to learn that not everyone realizes a bio should be in third person.

When writing your bio if it's for something associated with writing--you should zero in on your writing accomplishments which means at least mentioning your latest book(s). The title should be bold and in italics with no quotation marks. My latest book is No Bells.

Add the names of the writing groups that  you belong to.

Be sure to add your links--the URL to your webpage and your blog, if you have one.

If you bio is on a blog, add a link to where your book can be purchased.

Depending upon where the bio is going to be displayed, it's probably not necessary to name all your family members and accumulated pets. Of course if it's a blog where the people who stop by are interested in the everyday details of your life, go for it.

Always mention your name--yep, sometimes people forget that most important part of a bio.

That's my writing advice for now.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Monday, May 14, 2012


YOU ARE INVITED

Book Debut

Saturday   June 30  Noon to Four

The Gruet Winery

8400 Pan American Freeway NE. Albuquerque

Great Food and Drink Will be Plentiful and Free


Monday, May 7, 2012

Rainbow for Christmas Wins First Place

First western romance
Although I didn't get to attend the Virginia Press Women Conference in person, I was thrilled to learn that A Rainbow for Christmas won first place in Young Adult Fiction.  I was one of 39 members of Virginia Press Women who received awards in the 2012 Communications Contest in a ceremony held during the Spring Conference in Harrisonburg. Categories such as newspaper writing, public relations, advertising, photo journalism, Internet and magazine writing, and books were judged by 11 experienced journalists and public relations professionals. Entries that received first place advance to the National Federation of Press Women contest.

 “The author brings history to life for YA readers! The thoughts and fears of these very real characters are timeless, which gives readers something they can relate to as they are transported back in time to experience a unique perspective about the hardships and injustices in the west and what it might have been like for a girl to travel toward uncertainty in a covered wagon.” 

Visit the Maya Ruins!What a lovely comment from the judge! 


My other novel published in 2011, an adventure story, Jungle Jeopardy, won honorable mention in fiction, novel. “The fast moving plot pulled the reader along, and the details about Maya culture and archeology were interesting,” the judge noted.

Another nice comment!

Congratulations to all the Virginia Press Women winners. 
 
Mary Montague Sikes