Nancy's Notes From Florida

Why Self-Publish Your Book?

May 11, 2020

Have you been wanting to self-publish your book, but you don’t know where to begin? Or does the prospective task seem so daunting that it paralyzes you into doing nothing? Is this even something you can do for yourself, or will you need a “village” to help you along the way? Maybe you’re afraid of the costs involved. Is it worth the risk to become an indie author?

why self-publish your book

I tackled this topic initially in a nine-part blog series called Self-Publishing Made Simple. These same questions keep popping up in writer groups, such as “Do I need an ISBN number?” and “How do I get my book in print?”

So let’s take a fresh look at the answers. First decide why you’d like to indie publish your novel and then we’ll move on later to show how to go about it. Here are some common reasons:

You have backlist titles and the rights reverted.
You want to publish work in between your traditionally-published novels.
Your book doesn’t fit into a particular genre category.
You have a nonfiction book or personal project you want to publish on your own.
You want to direct the publishing process.

PROs:

Quality control
Pricing and discounts
Input on cover and interior design
Higher royalties
Rights ownership
Publication schedule

CONs:

Learning curve
Time-consuming
Production costs
Back cover copy, book descriptions, metatags
Author/Series Branding
Loss of prestige
Difficulty getting reviews
Limited booksigning and speaker opportunities
Tougher standards to join professional organizations
Bookstores and Libraries may not stock your work
Pressure to Produce

Why Self-Publish Your Book? #pubtip #indiepub #amwriting Click To Tweet

Now that we’re clear why you want to self-publish your work, we’ll talk next about how to prepare your manuscript. In the meantime, please feel free to share why you are interested in becoming a self-published author.

GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our May giveaway.

May contest

 



• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , , , |  Be The First To Reply!


Meal Planning

May 4, 2020

Meal Planning is difficult when you are on a forced staycation for months at a time. Normally, I like cooking at home, but it’s nice to take a break at a restaurant where you can be served and you don’t have to do the dishes. This experience is off the table these days. We have all become home cooks, so what to make?

cooking in the kitchen

I plan ahead for a week at a time. Breakfast is easy. It can be cereal or eggs or a quiche I’ve made previously and stuck in the freezer. Frozen waffles or homemade blueberry pancakes are treats if the ingredients are available. We’ll also buy premade hard boiled eggs to eat with toast or for egg salad.

blueberry pancakes     zucchini pie

Lunches are more difficult. Sandwiches or salads are our usual fare but these get tiresome. Soups, quiches, or even pasta might add variety. Here’s where going out to eat would be a welcome choice. In its stead, we can order home delivery. But to be safe, this should ideally be hot food that can be reheated to zap the germs. Is it risking my health to order delivery of tuna and pasta salads and even nova on a bagel?

    shrimp salad  turkey soup

Dinners are much easier for me to plan. So I’ll share some of these ideas with you. Get used to leftovers. The more nights a dish can stretch, the better. You might get two to four nights out of one dish, depending on how many people are involved. Or freeze a portion for later use. You can add your own side dishes or a salad. Note that most of these recipes can be found in A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK.

eggplant parmigiana  creole franks

WEEK ONE

Sunday – Eggplant Parmigiana
Monday – Leftovers
Tuesday – Tilapia Dijon
Wednesday – Leftovers
Thursday – Beefy Mac & Cheese
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Creole Franks

WEEK TWO

Sunday – Leftovers
Monday – Slow Cooker Mushroom Pot Roast
Tuesday – Leftovers
Wednesday – Store-Bought Ravioli/Tortellini or Spinach-Stuffed Shells
Thursday – Chicken Spaghetti
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Baked Salmon Fillets

You’ll have to adjust your menu to suit the ingredients at hand. What do you think? Do you have any better suggestions, especially for lunches?

What are you serving for dinner? Here’s two weeks of suggested meals. #cooking #dinner Click To Tweet

 

GIVEAWAY

Enter Now to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench in our May giveaway.

May contest

 

COOKBOOK

Interested in ordering a copy of A Bad Hair Day Cookbook for you or for Mother’s Day?

Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2mgwoTZ
Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2mlIR8W
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2kS12mf
BN Nook: https://bit.ly/2kvrySl
BN Print: https://bit.ly/2QpGu1W
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2kixIVN
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780999793251

 

 



• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , , |  4 Comments


Cruising the Supermarket Aisles

April 28, 2020

We used to love food shopping before the current quarantine situation. Now that it’s hazardous to leave our front door, it’s not so much fun anymore. However, ordering through Instacart aside, we still like to browse the shelves and select certain groceries ourselves at the supermarket.

vegetables

We just came from a trip to Publix where we spend nearly $300. On what, you ask? It cost almost $30 for the probiotic my GI doctor recommended rather than yogurt with its sugar and dairy content. As for the rest…

Meats – I bought ground beef and chicken breasts in case there’s a meat shortage with manufacturing plants shutting down due to illness. I’ll freeze them except for one pack of chicken to make soup. Oh, I bought bourbon salmon fillets for dinner tonight.

Fruits and Vegetables – Apples, bananas, berries, salads, other veggies, and an eggplant. This category is the hardest to keep in stock at our house.

Staples for the Pantry
Bisquick – Yay, I found it! The shelves were bare last time and I couldn’t even order it. Many of my FB friends shared recipes for homemade biscuit mix, but easy is better where I’m concerned. I found it on Amazon just this week and ordered a big box for an inflated price. Lo and behold! Publix had a few boxes in stock. I grabbed a small one to make pancakes (along with frozen blueberries) and a bigger one for my veggie egg bake dishes. Who knows when the one from Amazon will arrive? I still have packages being delivered from there and Walmart that I’d ordered a month ago. My new motto – Buy it when you see it.

Progresso Bread Crumbs – These were in short supply and I had just opened my last one at home. I snatched this up.

Dairy – Cream cheese, eggs, Egg Beaters, shredded mozzarella. Plenty available.

Breads – I spied a fresh baked Challah and got that along with some mini blueberry muffins.

Cleaning Supplies – Another item I couldn’t find lately was All Free & Clear laundry detergent, so I’d bought an unknown brand online. Now I could see my favorite brand on the shelves so how could I resist? Also I had ordered Dawn dishwashing detergent online as it was another item I needed. Publix had it in stock so I got one to use when our current bottle runs out. And they had Scrubbing Bubbles! I scored one of these to help clean the shower. No Clorox wipes available but plenty of Clorox jugs. I passed them by as we have enough for now.

Paper Goods – I bought one two-pack of paper towels and one box of tissues. No TP but we don’t need it yet.

Specialty Items – We bought some other items like shelf stable puddings, dried cranberries in little boxes, mandarin oranges cups, etc. With hurricane season coming, it doesn’t hurt to stock up as we go along. We already have plenty of canned goods.

Most people wore masks, including the cashiers. We followed the arrows up and down the rows and tried to steer clear of anyone else, although that’s not always easy when the store is crowded.

And that was the haul for today. Then it was home to dump the bags in the front hallway that’s our staging area. Unpack the items onto our clothed dining room table. Wipe down the cold items and refrigerate. Dump clothes in washing machine. Drop ourselves into the shower. Finish disinfecting rest of items that don’t need refrigeration and let them sit for a day or two. Eat lunch. Get some rest!

Have your bills gone up at the grocery store? Do you stick strictly to a list or stock up as you see what’s available?



• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , |  12 Comments


Query Letters for a Book Series

April 25, 2020

When you propose a book that’s number one in a series, it helps to have blurbs for the next couple of titles ready to go. You can send this along with your query or later with your full manuscript. Create a tagline for your series title, and check online to make sure this title hasn’t been taken. Then craft a query letter and mention this is the first book in a series.

Query Series

My route to selling the Bad Hair Day mystery series was a circuitous one. When I first presented a proposal for Permed to Death, book #1, I sent out the first three chapters and a synopsis in a multiple submission to various agents. Here is my original query letter.

As we’ve mentioned before in a post on Tips for Query Letters, your one-page letter should include three paragraphs. The first one introduces you, gives the word count and the story genre. Next comes a catchy story blurb, followed by your writing credits. A marketing hook can also be included or suggestions for possible markets. In this case, that extra paragraph is where I mention a series.

Dear Ms. P.:

I’m a published author seeking a new agent to represent me for a mystery book proposal.  PERMED TO DEATH is a 75,000 word novel featuring beauty salon owner Marla Shore.

When one of her clients is poisoned while getting a perm, Marla becomes a prime suspect. She attends the woman’s funeral and meets her relatives and business associates, all of whom have logical motives for murder. But so does Marla, as Homicide Detective Dalton Vail learns during his investigation. Desperately seeking to salvage her reputation, Marla tries to identify the killer before the next “permanent” solution is her own.

PERMED TO DEATH is the first book in a proposed series. Also available is a synopsis for the next story, HAIR RAISER. The title for the third installment is MURDER BY MANICURE.

I have four futuristic romance novels in print and am the winner of the 1995 HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal category.  PERMED TO DEATH is my first mystery.  Would you be interested in seeing the complete proposal? An SASE is included for your reply. Please note this is a multiple submission. Thank you for your consideration.

<><><>

I received rejections from all ten plus agents. (See my earlier post on this topic.) Some of them gave insightful comments as to what needed fixing.  I decided to put this book aside to focus on romance again. I’d met an agent at a Florida Romance Writers conference who recommended me to a colleague of hers. I sent this person a query for Phantom Bride, a contemporary romance I’d written. Here is a copy of that letter:

Dear Agent L.:

I’m a published author seeking a new agent.  This past weekend, I had a delightful conversation with Agent R. at the FRW Conference in Ft. Lauderdale. She is familiar with my four published futuristic romance novels for Leisure Love Spell Books and urged me to send you my new proposal.

Enclosed are the first three chapters and synopsis for Phantom Bride, a 60,000 word contemporary romance novel. I’ve already sent this proposal to Brenda Chin at Harlequin Temptation and am working to finish the book within the next couple of months.  I’m seeking representation for this and other works in progress.

Included are my bio, one of my books, and an SASE for your convenience. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Agent L. took me on in Feb. 1997. While she was trying to sell my romance novel, I rewrote the first three chapters of Permed to Death as per the suggestions in those earlier rejection letters and completed the manuscript. In June 1997, I sent this agent a query for Permed to Death mentioning the series title.

Dear Agent L.:

Enclosed are the manuscript and synopsis for Permed to Death, a 75,000 word mystery novel and first book in my proposed series called The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.

I’ve already spoken to RC, Senior Mystery Editor at St. Martins Press, whom I met at SleuthFest in Fort Lauderdale this past spring. I told her about this story and she expressed interest in looking at it.

If you like the story and think JS at Avon might be interested, please feel free to send it along. GB is on my list as a mystery editor at Berkley Prime Crime, and I may have more marketing ideas in my files. As always, I’m open to suggestions for revisions.

<><><>

At this point, I didn’t follow my own advice and had merely a completed manuscript for Permed to Death, a synopsis for Hair Raiser, and a title for Murder by Manicure. And that’s how I sold the series in a three-book deal to Kensington. Then and Now book covers:

Permed to Death Original    Permed to Death

Below is how I would write this proposal now: 

Series Proposal for The Bad Hair Day Mysteries

Hairstylist and salon owner Marla Shore solves crimes with wit and style in sultry South Florida.

PERMED TO DEATH – Book 1 

Sassy hairstylist Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a Bad Hair Day, handsome Detective Dalton Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer.

HAIR RAISER – Book 2 

Hairstylist and amateur sleuth Marla Shore volunteers for Ocean Guard, a coastal preservation society. When someone sabotages their gala fundraiser, she must comb through a knot of suspects to unmask a killer. 

MURDER BY MANICURE – Book 3 

Hairstylist Marla Shore joins a fitness club to get in shape, but she finds a murder instead of an exercise program. To complicate matters, handsome Detective Dalton Vail disapproves of the charade she’s playing to help a friend.

My First Mystery Sale

Permed to Death sold to Kensington and appeared in hardcover in December 1999. The sale was a 3-book contract, and the series took off from there.

The Lesson – If you’re presenting a book that is part of a series, have blurbs on books 2 and 3 available along with the overall series title and a tagline. The same goes when you are pitching your book in person. Mention that it’s part of a series. See my post on Tips for the Hot Pitch for more details.

Query Letters for a Book Series #amwriting #pubtip Click To Tweet

 

 



• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , |  2 Comments


Shear Murder Reissue

April 18, 2020

SHEAR MURDER, #10 in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available in an updated Author’s Edition. Trade paperback coming soon.

Shear Murder Ebook

SHEAR MURDER Copyright © 2012 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published April 14, 2020 by Orange Grove Press
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9997932-8-2
Print ISBN: 978-0-9997932-9-9
Cover Design by Boulevard Photografica
Digital Layout by www.formatting4U.com

Getting married can be murder…especially when the matron of honor is found dead under the cake table in this humorous cozy mystery.

Weddings always make hairstylist Marla Shore shed a tear of joy, especially when she attends her friend Jill’s reception as a member of the bridal party. Marla’s own nuptials are weeks away, and she’s been busy juggling bickering relatives, building a new house with her fiancé, and expanding her hair salon.

She’s following her to-do list just fine until she discovers Jill’s sister Torrie—the matron of honor—dead under the cake table at her friend’s wedding reception. Lots of folks aren’t sorry to see Torrie go, especially since the bride’s sister knew their deepest secrets. But when suspicion falls upon Jill, Marla wonders if her dear friend is truly innocent. She’d better untangle the snarl of suspects and iron out the clues before the killer highlights her as the next victim.

Bonus Content Includes:

Reader Discussion Questions
Explanation of Wedding Customs
Author Interview
Excerpt from Hanging by a Hair

Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore Bestseller

Shear Murder was originally published by Five Star Publishing (Gale/Cengage). This Author’s Edition has been updated with added bonus materials.

<><><>

“Shear Murder is another stellar outing in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day mystery series. Marla is a bridesmaid in her friend Jill’s wedding, but when Jill’s matron of honor–and sister–ends up dead with the cake knife embedded in her chest–hold the video! It’s a wedding to forget–not remember.”—Lorna Barrett, NY Times Bestselling Author

“Smart, edgy dialogue and an intriguing cast of characters lift Cohen’s 10th Bad Hair Day mystery featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Shore. Once again, Marla shows she’s as adept at investigating murder as she is managing her hair salon.”—Publishers Weekly

“The action is fast-paced, the situations and characterizations provide plenty of this author’s trademark humor. Her knowledge of the look, feel and social texture of South Florida living is another great attraction for her readers.”—Phil Jason, Florida Weekly

“Who knows more about the wedding party than your hairdresser? Welcome back to South Florida’s Marla Shore, who trips over the dead matron of honor in her tenth cozy.”—Library Journal

“Mix together a sassy hairdresser with a penchant for sleuthing, a sexy detective and some eccentric friends and neighbors; stir in an unconventional murder or two, bake in the South Florida sun, and you have the makings of Nancy J. Cohen’s delicious ‘Bad Hair Day’ mystery series.”—Jackie Minniti, The Island Reporter

“Interesting characters and South Florida scenery make “Shear Murder” a cut above other amateur sleuth mysteries.”—Oline H. Cogdill, Sun-Sentinel

“Finding the bride’s sister’s corpse under the dessert table can ruin most of your day, as hairstylist Marla Shore discovers at her friend Jill’s wedding… It’s enough to make your hair curl.” —Kirkus Reviews

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08739HJD6/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/shear-murder-1

BN Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shear-murder-nancy-j-cohen/1106013951?ean=2940162660224

Apple Books: http://books.apple.com/us/book/id1508008458

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/bwvXxe

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12944078-shear-murder

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/njcohen/shear-murder/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/shear-murder-the-bad-hair-day-mysteries-by-nancy-j-cohen

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePpShWy3Wbw

GIVEAWAY

April Giveaway

Last Day! Enter Now to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench.



• Posted in Blog • Tags: , , , , , , , |  Be The First To Reply!