Friday, July 26, 2013

"To market, to market to buy a good book . . ."

If you recognize the paraphrased line from an old nursery rhyme, than you know this blog is about marketing, but not for a fat pig. Below you will find a marketing time line for my second published print book. This was my plan before twitter and facebook etc. but if  you are a newbie, I hope it will be helpful anyway.  If you are self published, perhaps  you will find some things to include in your marketing plan. It worked for me.

  • Develop an address list: readers, friends, family,libraries, organizations ie social and fraternal clubs. Underline or check mark those who bought previous book.
  • Mail or deliver announcements/invitations to a book signing launch.(These were hand made using graphics, a mini cover photo and card stock)
  • Send cover copy and synopsis with an ARC to libraries where I am known and/or am a member of Friends of the Library
  • Profile sheet, letter and ARC to reviewers other than those the publisher sends, asking for reviews
  • Press kit to local newspapers
  • Emails to organizations and local Country Clubs offering to speak
  • Press kit to Book Reviewer at local and regional newspapers in  the setting of the book.
  • ARC with request to speak to local Book Clubs
  • Announcement with resume to local radio station for interview
  • Personal calls to two national book stores with follow up emails offering a book talk
I hope my marketing list helps.  I'll close with a repeat of a blog title used last spring: "Patience Practise & Persistence" and the last is most important. Follow Up!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Interview With Author Jen J. Danna by Jacqueline Seewald

As a scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. Her true passion, however, is indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing. Together with her partner Ann Vanderlaan, she crafts suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge. Her Skeleton Keys blog at has been listed by ITSGOV and as one of the top forensic blogs on the web. Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband and two daughters, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her at

First, Jen, congrats on the great review your novel received from Kirkus.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT is a forensic mystery.
The title is a line from the poem "Across the Lines", written by Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers in 1865. Composed during the American Civil War, the poem tells of a Union soldier, fallen on the battlefield and on the brink of death, who fears being buried in an unmarked grave without a headstone to tell the world of his passing. It was a perfect fit for the main theme of the novel:

Dead? and here — where yonder banner
Flaunts its scanty group of stars,
And that rebel emblem binds me
Close within those bloody bars.
Dead? without a stone to tell it,
Nor a flower above my breast!
Dead? where none will whisper softly,
"Here a brave man lies at rest!"

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: Both my partner and I are scientists (lucky Ann, she’s retired!) so our combined scientific backgrounds play heavily into the direction of our writing. I’ve always thought forensic anthropology is fascinating—how the study of decomposed or skeletal remains can tell the story of a victim’s death when they can no longer speak for themselves. So when we started writing crime fiction, it was natural for us to incorporate a strong and realistic science angle into our storytelling.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  The Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries series features dual protagonists.  Leigh Abbott is a murder cop with the Massachusetts State Police. As the only woman in the unit, she is on the fringe of her own department and is constantly fighting to fit in. Her partner is Dr. Matt Lowell, a forensic anthropologist at Boston University. Matt’s years as a Marine medic in Afghanistan still haunt him, but are directly responsible for pushing him into his current career in science. Together, Matt and Leigh solve the hardest mysteries—those with so little evidence that only the sharpest eye and the strongest intuition can solve them.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  My partner and I have written the second full length novel in this series (A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH) which will release in May 2014, and a novella to bridge the two books (NO ONE SEES ME ‘TILL I FALL) in the fall of 2013.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  We’ve just starting outlining the third book in the series and hope to have it drafted by early fall for 2015 publication.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I used to write just for fun as a pre-teen, but then gave it up in high school when I got involved in a number of extra-curricular activities. Then came university, marriage, kids, and I didn’t think about writing again for almost 25 years. But then about 6 years ago the bug bit again. I’d been in the same job for about 16 years and my kids were older and suddenly I had time to dabble again. Shortly thereafter I met Ann. We wrote 5 practice novels together before we decided to take a stab at traditional publishing. DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT is the product of that attempt.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Be persistent. If it's something you really want to do, give it your all. I always thought that it was better to try and fail than to lack the courage to try and then look back in 20 years and wonder 'what if...?'. Failure was preferable to regret.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters and independent booksellers. For those who would like to preview the first three chapters of the novel, it is available here on my website: DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT, CHAPTERS 1 - 3

Readers, now is the time to comment, welcome Jen, and ask any questions you might have regarding her work.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Technology and the Writer

If you can read this, you have electricity and access to the Internet (and, yes, a computer). As I write this, I do not have access to the Internet, and I'm borrowing a computer in an office. My home router has shown its true character--it shuts down in the heat. We've tried storing it in the freezer for an hour or so, and that seems to help, but inevitably, the router heats up and the Internet disappears.

I don't mind being cut off from the rest of the world, but this problem with access to email and the Internet got me thinking. When I first began publishing, in the mid 1980s, computers were just beginning to find their way into private homes, and they were clunky and complicated to use (plus they took up the entire desk top). In the 1980s approximately 50,000 books were published each year, and this number included all books, such as versions of the Bible, textbooks, insurance sales manuals, romance novels, and how-to-put-together-your-new-bookcase guides as well as popular fiction and nonfiction. Today over 300,000 new titles are published every year, and that will go even higher as readers shift more and more to eBooks.

The computer has made composing a book easier, and the new publishing technologies such as POD (print on demand) and eBooks have made the opportunity to publish books accessible to everyone. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it certainly is different from the 1980s.

In the late 1980s I edited a mss for a professor who said bluntly that he could not have written it without his computer (and his pretty young wife, his former secretary, probably helped too). I found this statement odd, but I have since encountered any number of people who say the same thing. Without the computer, they would not be writing or publishing anything.

I wrote my first novel longhand in college in the 1960s and revised it on paper, version after version. A good typewriter was a treasure, but this was before electric typewriters. (Does anyone remember WiteOut?) I still revise by hand, on paper, and go through six or seven major versions, but that's another blog. Writing by hand and typing and revising is work. Writing on a computer is a breeze, especially with autocorrect.

I like to think that the computer hasn't really affected my writing, but I know that it has. I have grown used to seeing a truncated page on the screen, rewriting a paragraph without seeing another page spread out on the desk where that paragraph might be better placed (that happens only in editing the hard copy), making lists of changes I can make with find/replace without having to think hard about whether or not it's the right change because the change is so easy to carry out.

But the biggest change is not having to hover over and protect the final, pristine copy of my mss. If I send out a paper copy and it comes back wrinkled, I no longer have to worry about pressing it back into shape for the next reading by a stranger. I print out a new copy and recycle the old one.

I'm sure there are other results from switching from a typewriter to a computer, and I am guessing that many of them are unconscious, things that happen that I'm no longer aware of. I try to tease them out by looking at much earlier work, but my writing has changed far too much since the 1960s to make this exercise useful. Still, I know the changes are there.

Have you noticed changes in your work as the result of technology?