Friday, September 27, 2013

1,2,3 - Ready, Set ,Go

With suggestions from author friends and the help of an enthusiastic cover designer I have launched Book Three of my trilogy as an Ebook. PROMISE KEEPER had successful hard cover and Large  Print editions and would be  the last of my Maine Shore Chronicle series for me to epublish. I not only wanted it to have a solo publication as the last installment of the series, I hoped it would grace the cover of a Boxed Set of the Trilogy.

Patty G. Henderson, author, 'graphic artist, covers and more' gaurantees perfect satisfaction" on her website Boulevard Photographica.  Emails flew back and forth as she accepted my suggestions and gave her own for all three new covers I needed for eBook publication of my series. One quote as she worked with me for Promise Keeper will give you an idea of her work ethic: 
"No problem, Mary. Don't ever be hesitant to ask questions or anything else regarding your cover. I'm here to make you 100% satisfied"
She worked hard to do just that.

For my readers of Finding Fiona or Moonglade, maybe you will decide the best is last, Promise Keeper. The story brings you from Maine's beautiful coast to Florida's pristine Gulf of Mexico. 1-2-3 -Mystery,suspense and romance enjoy it in The Boxed Set of Trilogy Maine Shore Chronicles or choose it as a solo read. Either way, I shall be happy to have your comments.


Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Reach Readers: Publicity and Promotion by Jacqueline Seewald

Many people in the public eye believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
(Just ask Donald Trump!) Publicity, positive or negative, promotes a career because it puts that person in the limelight. Of course, writers would like to be recognized for the quality of their work. Bad reviews hurt a writer’s sales and recognition as a serious author. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate either. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? No sales.

So how do authors go about reaching readers, building a following among those who buy books? After all, it’s not just the small independent publishers who do little to promote their authors. These days even the major publishers do not put much effort and money into book promotion either. Writers have to think proactive.

How should writers go about reaching and building a readership? I’m going to offer a few suggestions that won’t break your bank account.

l. Use the internet:

a. Create a website (no, I still haven’t done one yet, but I intend to create my own website soon--really).

b. Do social networking such as blogging. Create your own blog and guest blog on other sites. Interview other authors. Offer to do interviews on other sites, not those only for writers. Reach out to a more general, larger audience.

c. Create a presence on such popular internet sites as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Shelfari, Booktown, etc.

d. Join Yahoo writer groups of authors with common interests. Be an active reader and comment often in group and on their blogs.

e. Be willing to read and review the work of other writers.

f. Ask other authors in your genre to read and review your books as well. You want as many reviews as possible on Amazon. B&N, Goodreads and Library Thing.

g. Send out advance review copies to internet reviewers who read in your genre. Reviews are important and we can’t always get them from the major review publications.

h. Offer ARCs as giveaways both on your site, other sites, and most especially on Goodreads. Example: The novel THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY, co-authored with my older son Andrew Seewald, was published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover in September. I offered a Giveaway of three copies on Goodreads in the months prior. Many readers see these announcements. So there is publicity value and hopefully at least one of the readers will eventually post a favorable review on Goodreads. I also gave away copies to readers of Author Expressions.

i. Is giving away free books a good method of increasing overall sales and getting publicity for an author’s brand? It appears to do so for ebooks. Many writers are offering free ebooks on Amazon and Nook. Usually this creates awareness of an author who has numerous books to offer. I don’t have the statistics on how well this is working out. If you do, please comment.

2. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, as we are aware with the demise of Borders among others, as well as the closing of many B&N brick and mortar bookstores, these opportunities, unless you are a famous author, have diminished dramatically. My advice is to see if there are any small, independent bookstores that you can contact. Be prepared to advertise your “event”/signing yourself.

3. Library Events. Offer to do a program at your local library. You can have a book signing and selling afterward if the library approves.

4. Don’t forget to advertise every program you do. Contact the local newspapers and
offer a “news release.”

5. Your college probably has a graduate publication, magazine or newsletter. The publication of your book is certainly a newsworthy item.

6. Consider selling books at various unexpected places. Book fairs sponsored by local libraries are great and so are craft shows, however, you might think of a more creative venue. Try to think outside the box. For example, suppose your novel is about a baker. Is there a local bakery that might display and sell your books on consignment?  Is your novel set in a beauty parlor? Would a beauty shop owner allow your books selling space for a cut of the profits?

7. Attending conferences. Many writers swear by them. It’s a great place for networking and connecting. You can meet editor, agents and other authors. At the very least, you can interact and get interesting feedback and share ideas. Since our work is solitary, this is a good way to know you are not alone.

8. Some writers publish their own newsletters which advertise the release of their new books as they come out.

9. You might also keep friends and relatives in the loop through e-mail announcements.

10. Send out announcements to acquisition librarians, especially if your book has had good reviews which you can quote. This can be done inexpensively via e-mail.

Have I left out anything that I should be mentioning? As a writer, what promotion and or publicity ideas have worked well for you and might work well for other authors?
Readers, what determines the books you will select to purchase or borrow from a library? I would love to share ideas in this forum.

Last month I gave away several ARCs of THE THIRD EYE to readers who left comments on Author Expressions. This mystery novel is now published in hardcover from Five Star/Gale:

You can buy it at Amazon, B&N online, etc. or request it at your local library.

 This month to celebrate the new Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition of DEATH LEGACY

 I again offer copies to those who comment. Just leave an e-mail address between now and September 26, 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is one thing you can always count on? Change.

Nothing stands still in this world. It revolves and we walk along the surface doing our thing. We  go to work, take care of our homes and families, and find ways to express our creative side. As I age I find just how much I appreciate the fact that things change, it keeps life from being boring. It's not uncommon for us to try and anticipate change, for example, at work they are laying off - so we get some additional training/certification to make our resume look that much more robust. Does it always work to make you more secure in your job? No. But it could improve your chances of getting another position if you are laid off.

In writing, we practice our craft, we attend writers workshops, we study the industry, and we read. We all need input and that feeds our stories. We can find input anywhere - we just have to be open and observant. So, what does that have to do with change? By expanding our writing world and experience we will change our perception and level of skill (hopefully).

Big changes can cause stress, but usually change allows us to find new pathways to live, love and create. Let's keep telling ourselves that as we writers struggle to find the right words, the right publishing venue, and find readers. With regard to the latter, we need to make ourselves visible - available - and interesting. How do we make ourselves interesting? I wish I knew. Perhaps I should change my comfortable fashion sense? Nah. That's not going to happen. Jeans, tee shirts, and tennis shoes suit me.

Perhaps I will change genre's and go from women's fiction to children's? Maybe. But the current novel needs to be finished first. How about changing Point of View? Third person intimate is the easiest for me to write, but the novel I'm currently working on (The Bucket List) is in first person POV. I might try rewriting what I have so far. This could be a very important change to the story.

Some writers ramble, physically as well as mentally. (This blog is a good example.) We take a path, see where it leads, and if we don't like it - we take another. We "change" direction. Let's try an experiment: The next time a big change happens in your life, go with it and see where it leads. Look at it as a new adventure and discover the potential of this new change.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What Writers Wear

On the night that my writing group shows up, usually once a month, I scurry around dusting and vacuuming. I make sure the kitchen counters are clean, the floor washed, and the tea things laid out neatly. By this I only mean hot water, tea bags, and mugs. I have known these women for twenty years, and we’re comfortable with each other.

All this came to mind recently when I heard someone make a remark that I had heard before, some years ago. At the end of a small conference showcasing successful women, one of the participants said in an aside to another, Why do the writers dress so badly?

Really? We dress badly? Who knew? I hadn’t thought about it, so I decided to think about it.

The only comparisons I had were from the 1970s and 1980s, a few from the early 2000s. I scoured my memory and came up with what I regarded as evidence. I ran the mental film of a national conference, in Chicago, of women who were mostly well-to-do involved in the social services on the patron level. In a word, philanthropists. They not only dressed well, they had cases and cases of computers that traveled with them—this in the 1980s. They had money and it showed. Another conference, this one of academic professionals, was minus the computers in the 1980s but well-tailored suits and evening outfits ranked high on the style chart. A Boston conference of writers in all categories in the 1980s brought together a crew of such disparate styles and outfits that even I noticed how badly dressed some of them were.

Okay, I concede that most of the writers I know have as little interest in fashion as a Lap heading out for a seal hunt. But is there a reason for it? I decided to think about it. And the only answer I could come up with is this. I am lazy.

I have finite resources to dedicate to making choices and decisions, let alone money, at the early hours of the day. If I spend my time thinking about what I will pull out of the closet, I’m likely to wear out my brain and sit in front of my computer all day unable to write anything at all—except perhaps what the character is wearing. For those who are stylish in dungarees, this may not matter. But I don’t wear dungarees. I’m a New Englander and I wear khakis. Those are my default wardrobe. Needless to say, I have several pairs.

There’s a serious side to all this. I don’t like thinking about what I’m going to wear, when I’m going to clean, what to make for dinner, because all these decisions, which don’t have to do with writing, wear me out. This is a real phenomenon called decision fatigue. In a study conducted in Israel, the investigators found that a person applying for parole had a much higher chance of getting parole if he or she appeared before the board early in the morning; by late in the afternoon, a prisoner’s chances of parole had slid way down. The members of the parole Board were simply tired, whether they knew it or not. They had run out of mental energy to make a good decision.

President Obama is said to have solved some of the risk of energy depletion by having suits in only two colors—black and navy. (My kind of wardrobe!) He doesn’t use up his quota of mental decision-making energy before he has even left the family suite and made it to his office.

This phenomenon may be one reason writers are thought to dress badly. Another might be that we are so concerned with issues of life below the surface, perfect or otherwise, that we can’t bring ourselves to spend a whole lot of time on appearances—our own. I think my writer friends dress just fine. But I have to admit that as well turned out as they appear to me, they wouldn’t make it into the lobby of that hotel given over to the national conference of women philanthropists. Those women would know in a nanosecond that I shopped at thrift stores (and not very upscale ones either), couldn’t find the makeup counter in a mall, and had no idea what the current fashionable colors were. On the other hand, I can dress my characters any way I want, with no fear of running out of money or fashion.

I offer this little meandering as comfort to those who think writing is all about taking control of your time and computer, and still struggle to compose a decent story. Success in writing seems to be dependent on intangibles no one ever considered. I doubt MFA courses include a section on storing up ego energy for the long haul.

If you’re interested in reading more, see below.