Friday, July 31, 2009
Here's what Beth has to say about her blog book tour experience:
Rob Walker asked me to discuss in my guest post how I put together my successful blog book tour in May for the release of my second book, To Hell in a Handbasket. I presume that if I have some advice for authors planning their own blog book tours, Rob would agree that I should offer that, too.
First, I learned as much as possible about how blog book tours should work. The Blog Book Tours website at http://blogbooktours.blogspot.com/ has an excellent article from author Liz Zelvin about using cyberschmoozing to plan your tour.
Also there is a February 22 post from me about using the Goodreads social networking site for book promotion. Lastly, a helpful guide on planning a blog book tour can be found at: http://quickest.blogbooktourguide.ever.com/. On that same website is a link to join the yahoogroup called blogbooktours, a classroom-type email list hosted by Dani Greer. I learned a ton from this class. Active participation is a must, so plan on dedicating some time to the group to get the most out of the training.
I started collecting a list of potential host blogs over a year before planning my tour by noting what blogs posted information about author visits in the mystery fan email and social network communities where I hung out. Once I started requesting guest spots on blogs, I kept a table listing tour dates, links to blog websites, point of contact information for hosts, topic of each visit, and due dates for articles, photos, interview answers or whatever was needed for each blog post. I started requesting guest appearance dates in February so I could spend March and April writing my articles or answers to interview questions before the tour started. This is vital. You’ll go crazy if you try to write articles during your tour, and the quality will suffer.
A lesson learned for me on tour logistics is to specify not only dates with your hosts for your blog posts, but also times (such as between 8-9 am EST) and to get the phone numbers of your tour hosts. Three of my hosts posted my guest blogs late, and I couldn't reach them immediately via email when I noticed the posts weren't there. Being able to call them would have been helpful.
Promoting the tour is crucial. There’s no reason to go through all the work of writing the articles if you aren’t going to tell people about them. Your hosts will promote your visits, but you also need to list the tour dates on your own website and/or blog, create event notices and update your daily status on your social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, or Goodreads, and send notices to your email groups. To encourage comments, run a contest to give away something to one or more of your tour participants who comment on your posts, such as autographed copies of your books.
From the statistics I gathered during my tour, I averaged 20-30 comments on each of my blog posts and 8-9 times that many unique visitors. Also, the visit counters for my blog, my home page, and the page listing my blog tour stops all rose during the tour. For example, during the week prior to the start of my tour, I had 49 unique visitors to my blog and during the last week of the tour, I had 274 unique visitors. My hosts appreciated that my tour posts drove visitors to their blogs who hadn't visited before, so that was a benefit for them. Also, my posts generated more comments than their usual posts. Having mutually beneficial results makes everyone appreciate the work they put into the tour.
As for sales, it's really hard to determine from your Amazon and Barnes & Noble rankings what a change means as far as number of books sold. Also, my first book (A Real Basket Case) went out of stock at Barnes & Noble almost immediately after the beginning of the tour and that didn't get fixed for a week and a half. Then, when To Hell in a Handbasket passed its release date, it went out of stock there for a week before that database glitch was fixed. Customers couldn't order the books during these time periods and my publisher's B&N sales person had to scramble. A lesson learned is to alert your publisher before you have a blog book tour and make sure their sales department alerts Amazon and B&N to order more books prior to the tour start. Hopefully, all parties would be interested in making it easy for customers to order books.
The highest Amazon rank I saw on To Hell in a Handbasket near the beginning of the tour was over 660,000 and the lowest I saw near the end of the tour was under 55,000. From my worst-case estimates of the meaning of the in-stock numbers and the movements in rank at both Amazon and B&N, I estimate I sold at least 10-12 copies of A Real Basket Case and at least 16-18 of To Hell in a Handbasket at these two sites during the tour. Those numbers don't include sales after the end of the tour or from other on-line sites or bookstores. So, yes, the tour resulted in sales, but I have no idea how many overall.
I won’t have an answer for the ultimate question of whether the tour was worth the work I put into it until after my fall royalty statement and my fall conference visits (to see if attendees remember my tour), if then. One conclusion I did make, however, is that a month is too long. I should have limited my tour to two weeks and about ten posts, both for my own sanity and to keep interest high during the whole period. Would I recommend that other authors conduct blog book tours? Yes, every author should do it at least once, for the exposure and networking it gains you, regardless of sales.
What have you learned from Beth's experience, or maybe your own? Do you plan on going on a blog book tour? Please share.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
As an author, this is another way to get your name out there. Diana Dillinger, Director of the Bourbonnais Library, has done a fabulous job promoting this event. She took the time to do a flier for each author, posted it, plus she has sent event fliers to other libraries and posted two articles in the city's local paper. That's good PR for an author! I like knowing my name has been circulating a new area, promoting my work. I will have to drive 80+ miles to attend, but with that kind of publicity, I'm looking forward to the day.
I also enjoy talking to the library patrons. As a librarian, I know many folks frequenting a library don't want to spend their own money to purchase a book. But they also love reading, talking about what they have read via a chat with friends, book clubs, etc. I consider this just another form of free publicity. If they like my books, they will tell others and the ball just keeps rolling on.
For those wondering about the specifics, here they are:
Bourbonnais Public Library
250 W. John Casey Road
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
Saturday, Agust 1, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Authors attending: Arnie Bernstein, Michael A. Black, Sharon Shea Bossard, L. Sue Durkin, Michael Dymmoch, John Everson, Clarke Forsythe, Jim Graczyk, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Dale Kaczmarek, Philip A. Kledzik, Beth LaMie, DL Larson, Cynthia Jean Mueller, Gail Piernas-Davenport, Cheryl E. Woodson, M.D.
Stop by, let's chat! Oh, and ... bring your cash!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Anyway in scrap trucks you can see all kinds of interesting items made up mostly of metal, which were considered junk by the owners, but are valuable to scrap collectors. Today, among the contents were a wheelbarrow, an air conditioning compressor, a motorcycle and more.
Seeing the truck made me think about writing scrap. What do you do with yours? You have a good phrase, paragraph, page or maybe a chapter or two but suddenly it doesn't fit in your manuscript. You need to get rid of it.
Are you a saver? Do you keep the scrap in a separate file on your computer in case you need it for another book, do you throw it out, or, if you're charitable, do you offer it to another writer?
Killer Career Coming Aug 15
Book Launch Party Aug 16
Monday, July 27, 2009
I like writing in first person. A lot of YA fiction is in first person. I think it gives the author a little more credibility. That is, if they are credible.
For example, I wrote Ordinary Me in first person, but that doesn’t mean that I was driving a car in Driver’s Ed, that inadvertently ended up in the middle of a police chase, that resulted in stopping an escaped convict. But I was once a high school student, who did take Driver’s Ed at school, and I am female. So I have some credibility, I think.
However, writing in third person doesn’t mean I have any less credibility or any more either. It’s just different. For my short story, Just Perfect, I used third person. I can’t explain why, it just worked better in third person than first.
There is also the genre to consider. YA works in both first person and third. Historical Romance works best in third, (I think, because I’ve never read a first person historical). Contemporary works in either too. In the end I think the authors have to look to the characters to see which is better, first or third. After all, it’s their story that is being told.
Just my random thought for the day!
other writing by jsproat
Saturday, July 25, 2009
So, the trip was planned accordingly-Venice & Murano, but since I was already there, a lovely cruise from Venice to the Greek Islands would be just the ticket.
I fell in love with Santorini, Greece-it is so easy to fall in love-and found a Royal Caribbean cruise that will take me to the islands, among others to Mykonos and Corfu, and of course a stop in Athens where I’ll again I’ll get a chance to see the Acropolis; what an incredible site.
Needing to find a hotel in Venice, I thought it would be easy. Not so. I had specific needs and it did not include taking a second mortgage.
My needs were simple, or so I thought. Something off the beaten path, where the locals reside but walking distance to Piazza San Marco and the tourist frenzy that seems to stick to Venice at all times. At least that is what I read.
Something romantic, intimate, after all A Hotel in Venice needed ambiance and intimacy, and unlike Minola Grey and Peter Riley, I wasn’t willing to pay an exorbitant price.
I think I found just that, the Boscolo Bellini, a converted palace (not so unusual in Venice) on the Grand Canal, in the Cannaregio district but a short walk from Piazza San Marco and all the tourist attractions.
I love to walk, and for me that is the only way to get the pulse of the city. I have no sense of direction and get lost easily, but getting lost is part of the discovery-on the other hand-‘water, water everywhere’-how lost can I get?
I plan on keeping a journal and will share my impressions with you.
Till next time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com
Friday, July 24, 2009
Too much drinking water can’t be a bad thing right? But too much forced down your system at once becomes a poison. Too much of anything in real life is poisonous—yes, even chocolate or milk shakes, my friends. Take the same common sense approach to your number of themes your book is covering—main storyline with six sub-sets of storylines? Come on. Maybe you are trying to write two books in one, so separate them out and write two books and not one. Too many characters? We hear a lot of readers moaning and complaining about this, and if it happens in your story that you have creating too many storylines and threads, it is most likely you have also latched on to too many characters to carry the weight of so many themes and plots.
The danger is in not seeing when a novel is “all over the place” and not just with settings and the timeline but with the sheer number of characters we ask a reader to pay attention to—especially in a multiple viewpoint novel. We need to think Chief Characters keep to a minimum as in you can count them on one hand, and if not, if we are getting into two hands, that’s when readers then look for and want a flow chart or a listing of “principle characters” and maybe some idea of how they are related by blood or circumstance. Ever open a play and gasp at the cast of characters? I generally feel that when I open a novel, I don’t want to see a family tree on the inside cover directing me to where little Nel falls on the tree branch near the bottom. Once when I went off on a tangent about a character’s grandfather’s story within the pages of my main character’s “action” and “thoughts”, my then editor, a wise fellow indeed, said of this tangent, this five page flashback, “Write the grandfather’s story some other time in some other book but not here.” That stuck with me.
Being brief in a novel is like saying military intelligence, an oxymoron…so how do we stay the course of the main character and objective or thread of the book, sticking to the main storyline and allowing for a controlled one or two sub-sets of characters and storylines?
Think of the Soppranos TV program wherein many, many storylines evolved over the years of the show, and many, many characters came and went, and often went out—as in dead. That’s complicated long term but it is over years. Fast-forward to today’s hot show Trueblood based on Charlaine Harris’ series surrounding Sookie Stackhouse—and again you see a successful story with many many sub-sets of storyline and characters “fleshing” out those storylines, and as these are so successful whatever can Rob Walker be talking about! However, even in these stories that appear to go hither, thither, and yon guess what—all the separate storylines encircle like the spokes of a wheel ONE character and always come back to the magic number one: How does it relate to and affect one Tony Sopprano as it is HIS story, not anyone else’s. How does it relate to and affect one Sookie Stackhouse as it is not her boss’s story, although he figures in her story, and it is not even her vampire lover’s story, although he figures quite heavily into her story. No Trueblood is all about Sookie.
Picture Sookie’s face at the center of a universe of her making, and surrounding her are all those she surrounds herself with – friends, family, loved ones, necessary ones, and add the world she lives in—the setting—and those who come at her. All those secondary characters are encircling her – her brother, her grandma’s ghost, her shape-shifting boss, her friends at the bar, her enemies, and they are all only in the story as foils for her. Every divergent storyline, no matter how tangential, comes back to her and the story always reaffirms that this is not the cook at the diner’s story but Sookie’s story. All others in the tale are satellites that impinge and impact Sookie.
We flip the channel to House and guess what?
We switch to Grey’s anatomy and it gets confusing whose story it is, I grant you, but in the end Grey has her name in the title!
Mobey Dick, okay, it’s not so much about the whale as it is Ahab’s story but Ismael is telling the story…but truly this surprisingly poorly organized story with hundreds of pages of nonfiction on the whaling industry embedded proves my point. For all of Melville’s talent, he didn’t follow the simplest of precepts of organizing a novel so as to not allow it to get out of hand. Ever read Moby Dick in its original entirely? War and Peace for that matter? Classics are made of this—books no one can take for long and many of our greatest classics are flawed as in the ending for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wherein Twain loses sight of the fact that this is and was and should have remained Huck’s story and should never have been turned back over to Tom Sawyer!
A novel that shifts sets needs connective tissue between settings, shifting time needs connective tissue to let the reader know you are shifting, shifting point of view needs carefully placed connective tissue embedded, but turning over your novel to a secondary character begs the question why don’t you write HIS or HER story then? Keep asking yourself as you work through your novel “Whose story is it anyway?” And especially if you are crafting a multiple POV tale, “How soon can I get back to my #1 character and in his/her POV and out of #2’s head?”
Picture the character web on a page or in your head – your main guy or girl is at the center of this web, closest confidants, relatives, lovers, friends close in to the center of the web (picture their smiling faces) then an outer web of associates, fellow crime solvers, bullies, bosses, jerks (picture these) and at the outer edge dangerous types and enemies of one sort or another and especially the antagonist(s) and picture these wanting to get to her through her closest allies. No matter how far your story roams, she remains at the center of the story web.
I have been doing some updating of early stories and putting some original work up at the Kindle store, acting as my own publisher, but these details discussed here have been bandied about on some chat groups I belong to, so this is my take on them, and I follow this practice, and it makes for a far tighter, stronger story. If you were doing short stories this is even TRUER still.
Dead On Writing at the Kindle Store
Dead On the novel is available now (herein a two-star lead, female and male, share the center of the web)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The real surprise was seeing one of my favorite people, my Aunt Shirley. She is 80 years old and in top form. She taught Jr. High math, one of my worst subjects, but I worked especially hard so she wouldn't be ashamed of me. She was an honored guest at the reunion and as the evening progressed I started hearing stories I had never heard before. The boys had been madly in love with Mrs. McDowell!
Now I too had always adored Aunt Shirley, and I used to practice tip-toeing around in my mom's heels pretending to be Aunt Shirley making her way down the school hallways. She was my idol, she was graceful and full of smiles, quite different from many of our other teachers. But the boys? I had been so busy trying to be a good student and not get into trouble because somehow my mom would find out and well, all hell would break out if I messed up and Aunt Shirley would be sooooo disappointed in me .... you get the idea!
Mrs. McDowell was everyone's favorite teacher in Jr. High. It's taken nearly 40 years for me to realize that. And I thought I was observant!
Mrs. McDowell did two things that evening that will stick in my mind.
1. She brought a math problem with her - one of those crazy twisted, mind-bending questions that only a genius could figure out - which someone did! She was very proud!
2. She handed out little "survival bags" to each of her students. She called them survival bags to make it through old age. I'll give you a taste of what she put in our survival bags: a match stick - to spark up our life - and to get something going. In other words, don't become stagnant, keep growing. A needle and thread - to sew up old wounds, patch up mishaps in order to stay healthy. Animal crackers - nourishment doesn't need to be fancy, simple works and brings the child out in us. And my favorite, a button - some things need closing, most often it's our mouth!
So with that advice fresh in my mind, I will button it up for now!
Til next time ~
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday night my author copies of Killer Career arrived at my brother's home, all 11 boxes of them. At work on Tuesday, I had the pleasure of giving one to my technical advisor, my boss, Guy, and then selling three more. It's always a thrill when a new book comes out because that's when people are the most responsive.
I'm hoping my selling streak continues for a long time. I've got some bubble envelopes addressed and ready to drop off tomorrow at the post office for reviews and friends, and many more to set up. It's fun, but frenetic right now.
I've printed out my Christmas card mailing list and will be send out invites to my Book Launch Party on August 16 at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum from 1-4pm.
All are invited, not only those who are on my mailing list.
Bookmarks are coming soon. I hope they turn out all right. In all the mad, exciting rush, I hope I don't forget anything.
I'm signing off now. Still have to figure out how to make an ebook out of Killer Career.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Therefore, it was a refreshing change of pace to encounter a simple act of goodness and honesty while we were on vacation last week.
Our trip was all but over. All that remained was the three hour trip home. My husband and I were vacationing with our parents, but each couple had driven in separate cars. As it happened, we decided to pick up one last souvenir, so we were the last ones to hit the road. We got in the car to a flurry of phone calls and voicemails, apparently it wasn't as easy to find the highway home as the waitress in the sandwich shop had claimed.
At any rate, we finally had everyone heading in the right direction. Homeward bound at last. Then the phone rang again. My in-laws had just made it to the main highway and had gotten a flat. Since we were behind them, we said we'd pull over when we found them to help Dad change the tire.
They were easy to spot, and within less than a half hour my hubby had changed the tire and we were on our way to find a service station to repair the original tire. The first place we came to had no service bay attached, but a man inside recommended a Phillips 66 just down the road.
Now, to give you a feel for the small-town we had reached, as we pulled our cars into the lot of the station, a John Deere tractor was filling up at one of the gas pumps. Gotta love it. But, I digress.
Bob, the owner of the station, came out to greet us, and we explained the problem. Well, Bob didn't have a brand new tire to fit our needs, but he did have an older tire that had been repaired once that he figured a local farmer could use at some point for his wagon. He told my father-in-law he wouldn't charge him for the tire (Can you imagine that happening in many places?!), but only for the labor to put it on the car. And although not new, the tire would be more than adequate to get them back home safely.
I wasn't involved in the actual transaction, but I walked into the station as they were finishing up, and my father-in-law was pumping Bob's hand and saying how wonderful it was to meet an honest man. (Apparently he was quite happy with the final bill.) To which Bob replied that he slept very well at night.
As Bob waved us off from the porch of the station, I turned to ask my husband what the final bill had been. I was thinking that anything under a hundred would have been fair in this (somewhat of an emergency) situation.
Nope. Total bill: $9.50. (Which included a $4.50 recycling charge for the old, unfixable tire.)
So, Bob, in Hillside, thank you! It is wonderful to come across decent, honest people in our world. We'll always remember you, not for your generosity, that goes without saying, but for restoring a bit of faith in the people of this world.
Until next time,
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The periodic table of elements-those squiggly things that I look at and say that’s nice. What is it? When I get an explanation my eyes start to glaze over, sort of when people start talking to me about sports. (Not many do, for that exact reason) Same reaction, except whereas in sports I can figure things and ask myself why bother, so my eyes glaze over anyway.
I really, really try to understand but…must be some kind of chemical reaction in my brain that tells me not to overtax it, because nothing sticks permanently.
There is a point to this blog. Stuck in my story line, I needed a way to solve my mystery and see if it was possible to identify certain properties. I won’t say more-because it’s part of the process of solving the mystery in A Hotel in Bath-suffice to say I needed to identify a process and by using that process identify how something was done.
My younger daughter is a scientist so I asked for help. I wanted it to be unusual but true.
And would you believe my daughter and science came to the rescue. Imagine that…I can only say that I will be using a GC-MS (for those of us who do not speak Acronym GC-MS = Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer)to get the proof. Now I’m unstuck and A Hotel in Bath is moving along nicely.
Did you ever notice that scientists need to learn a whole new language-it’s called- Acronym.
Till next time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com
Friday, July 17, 2009
Another thing about writers, as with any artistic types, there’s constant self-analysis and self-criticisms of our work; if reviewers only knew. They don’t have to tear us down; we do a fine job of doing that number on ourselves.
Another issue about writers is the notion that for money, even fast money without any hope of returns on that money, as in pay for hire, we will never say no. In general, I subscribe to the never say no to a writing job or an editing job or any job that pays you for putting words on paper or helping someone else to do so as in ghost writing. But there are limits after all. The term pay for hire is a circumstance wherein an editor or publisher wishes to pay you a flat say one or two thousand for a writing job and you are never to darken their door again. You have no rights to the work. You were hired to write it for another. Yet it is to be a book on shelves in bookstores. It may or may not have your name on it. Most of the Idiot Books, those reference works like The Fool’s Guide to whatever are done as pay per hire. I say if you really need the money, go for it, but as a general rule, try to avoid such deals.
When you are hired to do a ghost writing job, it’s about take the money and don’t expect or pursue any additional funds. When you edit someone else’s work it remains their work, not yours, and you should expect no more funds accruing to you unless you have worked out a contract that stipulates this down to the percentages. Else all you can expect if that is a mention in the acknowledgments.
Now getting down to when an editor gives you a green light on a spec manuscript. If you are given a go-ahead based on a spec script (speculation), the nature of the beast is no money changes hands until which time spec becomes contracted script. If you are lucky enough to have a correspondence or any sort of relationship with an editor and you are talking about ideas with said editor, you don’t own ideas, and anyone can take up that idea and run with it, so you want to do your best to convince an editor that this idea is not only great but that you are the perfect person to write it. When an editor in a publishing house asks you if you can write such and such a book, THEN I go by you never say no to an editor.
Once way back in early 80s, I was turned down by an editor I had worked with on a previous couple of books. I was amazed at the rejection of this work. I got on the phone and got Jane, and I pushed her on giving me some real reasons as to why it was rejected, something other than the vague generalities in the letter. She said, “It’s too short; we’ve moved from doing 60 thousand words to 80 thousand, and we’re up to our eyeballs in mysteries. We are in need of horror.”
I shot back without hesitation, “Give me a contract and I’ll add a monster and 20.000 words!”
Jane said, over the phone, “Yes, okay, I’ll put the contract in the mail. Go to work!”
That is the exception but I have also had editors contact me to ask if I could run with an idea the house was kicking over for a series. After two or three sentences on the idea, I stop listening and say, “I can do it, sure!” My four-book Decoy Series came of that. My Instinct Series came about the opposite way—I proposed it as a series idea to an editor who fell in love with the concept. Same with my Ransom series.
I’ll leave it at that this week as am quite busy working on bringing out more work on Kindle. Thus far, I have Children of Salem, Cuba Blue, Deja Blue, FleshWars, a how-to that could have been entitled 20,000 words and a Monster…but I instead call it Dead On Writing, and a short story collection entitled Thrice-Told Tales. Working on Abaddon (horror) and The Serpent Fire (horror-thriller).
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Thursday, July 16, 2009
The first and most important question I asked them was, "Did you bring your imagination with you today?" They all asured me they had. And boy, were they right about that.
The premise was they worked in teams of four and were to pretend to be TV writers coming up with a new idea for a show. We had a 3-ring binder for each team with questions to help them along with their planning. Our high school/college librarians helped each group by serving as secretaries. We had a glossary in the binders to help with unfamiliar words like scenario, plot, resolution, conflict, etc. To the kids, the glossary was better than a candy store. All were excited to learn new words. One little boy said, "I love glossaries." Several others commented, shaking their heads very seriously saying, "Oh, yeah. They're so cool."
Another tool we provided to stimulate their enthusiasm although they really didn't need it was chances to pull from our scenario jar, character jar and action jar. These were situations or types of characters to help them along in developing their storyline. They had to use at least one from each jar. They were silly and didn't go together in the least but the kids had a great time creating their stories, deciding what happened when and how and why.
Once they had worked their way through to the resolution, these kids were so totally emersed in their TV show they far exceeded our expectations of what a group of young kids could do. Each group was ready to produce their show! The best we could do was have them deliver their proposal to a panel of producers (aka) parents and fellow librarians.
As each child departed for the day, we handed out little notebooks and pencils to encourage our young writers to keep using their imagination. I'm not sure which was a bigger hit, the notebooks or the suckers! Both were received with enthusiasm.
I've always been a bit worried about kids not having enough chances to develop their imagination in today's technical thumb-moving, brain-numbing world, but I no longer harbor that fear. Our Wild Writers Workshop set all my fears aside. The new generation of writers is going to do just fine. They will be better than fine, they will blow us away with their creations!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
She Dresses Her Husband. You can tell. They usually wear similar colors and clothes types. What comes to mind when you hear that?
He's a wimp.
It's possible, but here are some other scenarios to consider:
- He's too busy to be bothered getting clothes ready.
- He's lazy
- He's color blind
- He's disabled and needs help
- He enjoys the attention
- He's demanding
- He likes feeling close to his wife and lets her do it
- She's the wimp
- She's clingy
- She likes to feel wanted. It makes her feel good.
You get the idea. There's more than one reason why a woman may put out clothes for her husband to wear.
Okay, lets get dicey. Here's another example. She self-publishes. What comes to mind when you hear that?
She can't get a good publisher.
Is that what you think? Here are some other scenarios:
- She likes to be in control/she wants to pick her own cover, style elements,etc.
- She's curious about what it takes
- She enjoys adventure
- She wants to get her book out in a decent amount of time
- She's not getting any younger
- She wants to do something different
- She understands the makings of a good book and feels confident she can pull it off
- She knows reliable editors she can trust with her novel
- She knows of a quality printing company with great distribution
- She wants a better return on her money since she's the one who wrote the book and will do most of the marketing
- She wants to feel the satisfaction of doing her best job.
By these examples, I hope I've opened your minds a bit. If not, I'll keep trying.
Look for Killer Career by Morgan Mandel This August!
As always, comments are welcome.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A significant focus of this edition is technology and writing. While this is not necessarily new - I mean who hasn't googled something at this point! - the presentation of the information and some of the new angles on how technology is a tool that all writers should exploit is freshly presented and worth the read. I especially enjoyed the article titled, "The New Frontier of Web-Based Stories by Carolyn Handler Miller.
To check out this article go to www.writermag.com for more info on this article. It may not be available to read online until later.
I also liked the short articles on writing for markets such as bumper stickers and product reviews for catalogs. All very intersting.
It just goes to show all writers that we need to keep our options open for honing our craft and make some money in the process.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I will not keep you in suspense any longer, I am pleased to present, Miss Emily.
By Sunday afternoon we pretty much thought we were done, but not Miss Emily. No lie, and the ladies can back me up on this, we received a few sales that wouldn’t have come to be if it wasn’t for Miss Emily. People passed by, didn’t even look at any of us at the table, but took the bookmark that she offered, (I told you it’s hard to say no to her!) looked at it and came back. They said, “oh, you have books, and you’re the authors?” Bam another sale!
And she was very entertaining as well, kept us in stitches for a long while.
So, never underestimate the power of good PR.
(Sorry, Miss Emily is not available for new clients at this time; I try to keep her busy.)
Thanks, and happy Monday!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I actually had another post all typed in here today. But I was kind of complaining about all of the things that have gone wrong lately, and apparently the powers that be in Google-blogger world decided I was too whiney. I hit "post" and it told me it couldn't complete my request. Go figure. I rest my case.
But, I guess that's a hint to talk about nicer, less whiney things, so here goes!
Two weeks ago, I was on vacation down in the Ozarks. We spent a lot of time at the swimming hole, as it was hotter than heck that weekend. And we did the usually ATVing and I got to drive "my" John Deere Tractor. The place where we visited is also the setting for my WIP, so ideas were literally buzzing around in my head all weekend. Now all I have to do is get them down on paper.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to hang out with June, Morgan, and Margot at an all day booksigning. It was a great day. The highlight of my weekend. Met a lot of nice people and got to chat with my fellow authors. Thanks, ladies!
Tomorrow we're heading off on another vacation. Hitting the Quad Cities (and more John Deere attractions!). I can't wait.
So, until next time, I'll be here thinking happy thoughts, and I hope you'll do the same.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
But by the same token, the events are fun. You meet readers who stop by and chat, other writers hoping to get published and ask for advice and the route to rejection and hopefully, ultimately to publication. The rejection part is very easy.
Even if we don’t sell many books, we may wind up with another event. Hopefully that happened last Sunday. Don’t know for sure-but will keep you posted.
Young Adult author of Ordinary Me - June Sproat read my novella. I just happened to have the manuscript with me on Sunday. Odd that.
At any rate, she read my novella and made some terrific comments, and yes June, the hero does save the day. Thank you very much for reading it.
Today I’m spending the day immersed in Bath-as in A Hotel in Bath. Almost done, really…just some things to iron out and, and I begin my edits in earnest. That is not to say that edits have not been ongoing. They have. It is a continuous writing process, at least for me.
Tomorrow I’ll be at the ALA Conference in McCormick Place and hope to finish my article on Paris.
And since I’m rambling on, I might as well tell you, I’m starting research for book # 3,
going to Venice, Italy in September and of course will be writing travel logs. Guess where they’ll appear? Give up? I think I’ll keep you in suspense a bit longer.
Till next time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sure every author wishes to be discovered by Random House or another of the biggies of NYC but since my first publication in 1979 the pinnacle of publication has gotten thinner, higher, spikier, snarkier, and harder and harder to manage. In fact, since the early eighties, getting a novel published has only become more difficult to the point of its being like making the NBA or NASA or winning an Oscar or the Lottery. It has gotten further and further out of reach and every author is nowadays faced with brick walls, even a well published author—and often he or she is finding it harder than the new kid on the block.
As a result, over the past several years, I – like so many others who must write – have turned to smaller press venues. First with Echelon Press with PSI Blue a number of years ago. More recently, I have signed with Five Star for DEAD ON coming out this month. Between these two publications, I published three books with HarperCollins, my Inspector Alastair Ransom series. So I have a unique view on what it is like to be publishing with large and small presses. Recently, too, I have submitted a book, Cuba Blue, to yet another small press. I don’t have to enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of going large or going small, but I do feel a lot more Zen with the smaller presses; with them it is far more about the work and far less about the sales figures, although everyone wants to see good, healthy sales. I have published titles with Dorchester, Zebra, St. Martins, Pinnacle, Berkley, and a few imprints no longer in business along with my early YA publisher Oak Tree Publications, as well as HarperCollins, and family, friends, fans who read me can simply not fathom why I am not far, far more successful in this business, and why my work has not landed on the major bestseller lists.
Aggravation fills my days and nights if I give it much thought and that negative energy can swamp you, so I try to remain positive and have damned the torpedoes and have always written the book that I wanted to write, the one I was most passionate about, and I have never written a book with the direct intent of becoming rich and filthily wealthy but I have hoped to have an income, to have some return on the huge effort or time and energy one puts in but it has not always worked out so. I do know that I have had the worst representation in the business, and that due to the bottom-line mentality that ties the hands of editors at major houses, editors who love to work with me but can’t, that I am in a sense black-balled. Not overtly so but one look at my last sales numbers and that is all it takes to have an agent or editor run screaming from me. And as this is how the business truly operates, I have turned to other means of getting the work in print, so I thank God for small presses and publishers that have come into being since the early eighties.
Then comes a pale rider called the eBook. I was fascinated with the idea way back when Stephen King experimented with it and found it rather a failure so far as he was concerned, but I kept the faith and have always kept my eye on the evolution of eBooks and the hardware from the hefty Palm Pilot of the early days to the slim, light, lovely state of the art Kindle now set at $299. Keeping close tabs on the Kindle, reading about it in every article I could find, I kept close watch for its success and I predicted it would go large—which it has! I put up free pdf files on my website and I offered free chapters and whole books on my site, and on chat groups I offered simply to send downloads. I got my toes wet doing this sort of thing. Information kept coming in that the big publishers were experimenting now as well and sure enough HarperCollins asked for an addendum to my contract to place the Ransom Series on Kindle and that was a major spark. After seeing these on kindle at the Kindle Store, I was hooked, and about then Joe Konrath informed me that he had placed a number of books up for Kindle readers and that he was controlling it all from his computer—and making money! A rare thing for most writers! I mean we are expected to give back an honorarium to anyone who allows us to speak about our writing right? We’re expected to give it away, right?
So then I took the plunge and opened up the url for putting my work up on Kindle and in effect going into a partnership as a small publisher myself with Amazon. That is at dtpamazon.com. In a three-step process and with my genius son’s help and Konrath’s encouragement I became my own publisher overnight. I put up a book of short stories with commentary called Thrice-Told Tales, a book on How To Write entitled Dead On Writing, and an original novel, Cuba Blue, followed by Deja Blue – two suspense books, followed by a set pair of horror novels, The Serpent Fire and Snake Flesh Wars, and most recently Children of Salem. Finally, another suspense novel went up.
The beauty of creating these E-books is that I control the art work/cover, the editorial content, the length and breadth of the work, the date of publication, and primary suggestion for pricing which may or may not remain as I suggest. The three Harper titles have been priced way too high by Harper and they are likely not selling well, but I have no way of knowing because as with everything you do with a major publisher, you, the author, are the last to know. But I have educated myself to this market and kindle readers do not want to pay the same price for the ebook that the mass market was priced at—which is the case here! In fact, Kindlekorner and other kindle reader chat groups make it clear that if they can’t get the book for free, the highest they are willing to go is around two and three bucks. But they are LEGION –those who have purchased the Kindle reader so two bucks a book you work on volume.
The ZEN of being one’s own boss, one’s own publisher…well that’s been a lifelong dream and Children of Salem has been a work that has had a curse on it forever, racking up more rejections than any ten other authors in their lifetimes have racked up, but I believe in this book with every instinct and bone in my body. Yet it sits on an editor’s desk and languishes for another year…and on an agent’s desk and languishes for another year. So I said to hell with it and took the bull by the horn and pressed the button that read “publish” today and now it is up and out in the world! Published! The publisher of the work, Robert W. Walker, yowZA!!
Thanks for reading –
I was a teenager when The Jackson 5 made it big. I still remember Michael's first solo hit, "Ben." My girlfriends and I used to drive around after school and when that song came on the radio we all crooned along.
When Thriller hit the charts my daughter wanted that album for her birthday. I searched several stores before I found one. Thriller sold out in each place it was sold. My daughter recently reminded me she received two Thriller albums that year. One with the great picture on it, the other had a flap with even more pictures. Very cool! I remember many Michael Jackson Halloween costumes for years after that. Everyone did the moonwalk. Well, everyone tried to moonwalk, only a few succeeded! But it was fun trying and even more fun watching others show off their interpretations.
Michael Jackson was the King of Pop! And as a writer I admire the lyrical talent he possessed. He is an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a double inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He holds eight Guiness World Records, more than a dozen Grammy Awards and a couple dozen Billboard Awards, plus numerous other awards. I wonder which meant the most to him.
Yes, Michael Jackson was eccentric, but aren't most overly talented people? Many say he struggled with an unhappy childhood, others disagree. Unfavorable publicity clouds his personna as much as the tribulations. He continued to recreate himself with each new decade, not always in a favorable light. Yet his music left everlasting impressions. He sold over 100 million records! The 25th Anniversary of Thriller sold over 2.1 million copies worldwide in 2008.
All I can say to that is ... wow!
What do you remember most about Michael Jackson? His songs? His changing face? His long career? Share your thoughts with us.
Do you have a favorite Michael Jackson song? Tell us!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
It rained consistently all afternoon, and even though we had a tent, it got wet and so did we.
June Sproat, Morgan Mandel and I had fun until the rain drops; big, heavy continuous rain drops, as in pouring rain.
We’ll be back tomorrow, when it’s supposed be nice, warm and dry. There is plenty to do for everyone, from pony rides to arts and crafts.
If you’re in the area stop by and say hello.
Till next time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com
Friday, July 3, 2009
Does writing have to be so damnably lonely as a profession? Perhaps not. Sure the act of creation is you against the blank page, and on that blank page you have to create life to make the blankness go away and be replaced by life itself, and in that the act is singularly yours, yes, it is a one-man act. But there are many fine writing teams, collaborators who have learned to write together and do so in what appears harmonious ease on the page. A number come to mind. There are sister acts, mother-daughter acts, father-daughter acts, husband and wife acts. But collaboration, which I have done on occasion to dire consequences and to rich ones, depends on both parties parking their egos at the door, and writers are known for having large and unwieldy egos, right? Yet it gets done. What a reality show that would be to pit writing teams against one another in full view of the cameras, eh? There Will Be Blood might be the title of the show. Or No Place For Old Farts…or well you fill In the blank.
I collaborated and completed a novel with a friend named Lyn Polkabla and it is now published as an ebook for Kindle at the Kindle Store and it is selling briskly (Cuba Blue). We were well suited for the task as she was far more anal and I was far more free-wheeling but we respected one another so much, and that is what it takes, great respect for one another to pull off that kind of close contact working relationship for the duration of a novel.
Nowadays, I find myself living in a home with two writers in house—myself and my wife. It is a good thing in many, many ways. Let me digress for a moment and ask you to consider the following:
When someone wants to run for exercise on a daily or semi-daily basis, ever notice it’s easier if you have someone to run with? Or walk a mile for that matter? Whether it’s your dog or your child or your spouse or your buddy, having someone “on your team” and going through the rigors of exercise with you just makes it so much more of a motivational endeavor…or should I say an endeavor driven by motivation that would not otherwise be in the heart and mind. Same with losing or gaining. Same with housework and cleaning. Same with redecorating a room. And same with writing I believe.
If that other “writing” incentive partner is not another writer but an avid reader who can give intelligent feedback and act as first reader and editor and commentator and sounding board, that’s fantastic, too. When both husband and wife write, each is aware of the others schedules and self-imposed rules and needs and so much more. There is an understanding between husband and wife florists or farmers too about “the business” and the time it takes, the blood, sweat, and tears put out, I am sure. The advantages are in communication and acting as support to one another, and support and understanding are not always items that any artistic type, be it filmmaker or writer, painter or origami worker, poet or whatever gets from those around them. We get a lot of hard stares, some confused looks, but understanding of precisely what we do and why we do it?
Nah…that’s rare indeed. The non-artist in the family will likely think you, the artist, has his head up his wazoo or that you’re obviously having an affair as your mind is elsewhere. It would not occur to this person that your mind is on your work and the only affair you are having is with your story and your characters…(a horrible image given some of my characters).
The downside to two writers trying to make a go of it under the same roof is that both are the last to pay the bills, both are the last to remember to put on the roast at 4PM at 350 degrees, and both are last to recall the kids have to be picked up from soccer ball! These are the things that try a married writerly couples souls.
The upside is the motivating factors that each helps the other with. If you think the TV show The Biggest Loser is impressive imagine a reality show depicting two authors trying to out-page one another in a given time period. We read one another’s work. We make cogent suggestions. We proof and edit and comment and encourage. These keep the “exercise” going forward so that the pages stack up.
Now as to actual collaboration in my and my wife Miranda’s future, well that can get dicey and for my money the marriage is more important than a collaborative work. Not that I would ever rule out the possibility, but for now we’re just enjoying one another’s gifts-of-gab…or is that gifts-of-prose, and we are planning some his and her signings as her book, The Well Meaning Killer and my new one, DEAD ON are both out this month and up for preorder now from our respective publishers and online stores.
Here we are, partners in crime. Check out our photo, then check out the link below this one for the article about us.
The link to the article that used our his and her mystery writers photo follows should you care to read it:
www.robertwalkerbooks.comsee you on facebook, twitter, plaxo, and elsewhere….
Thursday, July 2, 2009
My husband and I just returned from a week spent with college friends! We met in the Ozarks, Osage Beach, Missouri, where the eight of us rented a lake house with boat dock and a pair of ducks we named Daisy and Donald.
The weather was steamy, temps climbing to 100 degrees, so we spent more time in the water than in our boat. The days moved much too quickly and now that we are home, we are scrambling to catch up with all the commitments we put on hold.
I know many folks are thinking of giving up a vacation this year due to the economy, but we and our friends decided to pool our monies together and it worked beautifully. We grilled out several nights, took turns fixing breakfast, etc. In other words we spent less money than if we all went our separate ways and ate out for every meal and staying in motels.
I hope you have a chance to take some free time this summer. I know I'm feeling reconnected with good friends and I can't put a price tag on the silly antics and retelling old stories of glory days.
So what plans do you have for this summer? A few days to get away? Or perhaps finish a project you started awhile ago? Share your ideas and plans with us at Acme Authors!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Anyway, with a free heart I had a good time listening to the Kentucky Headhunters tonight at the Festival. I know some of the readers here probably don't know who they are, although I did see some younger people in the crowd, singing along.
I'll be at the Festival a lot during the next four days. In fact, I'll be autographing and selling Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams there all day Saturday and Sunday. Also selling books will be my good RWA buddies, Debra St. John, Margot Justes and June Sproat.
If you're near Arlington Heights, please stop by Saturday or Sunday at Recreation Park, Douglas and Miner Streets. We're in Booth 124 and call ourselves Area Authors. Hope to say hello to some of you.
Now, to get to bed before the clock strikes midnight...