Holiday Events as Research

It’s easy to feel guilty about not writing over the holidays. We’re overwhelmed with festive meal preparations, gift shopping, out-of-town guests, and myriad social activities. Yet everything we do can be considered fodder for the imagination. Be observant, note the characters around you, and describe your surroundings in your head. One of these items might prick your story brain and inspire a scene later on.

Holiday Events as Research

As an example, I recently strolled through the Longwood Festival. Imagine my surprise when I happened upon Judy’s Dolls, a site I’d looked up online as research for Star Tangled Murder, #18 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, interviews a suspect at her boutique doll store. I modeled some of the descriptions on what I’d read online. It was delightful to step inside this Victorian house to see the actual shop and meet the proprietor. As Marla has a son, and I have a grandson, I’d wondered if they had gifts for boys. And yes, they did. I bought a couple of items and put them away for Hanukkah.

 

Next, we strolled the lanes of tents and admired the craft items for sale. I found a unique handmade trivet and bought one as I’m always needing them for dinner parties.

 

Then we came upon a hat vendor. Having seen one before at the Apopka festival, I was reminded of a scene just like this one in Star Tangled Murder. Marla attends a July Fourth town festival where she encounters a hat lady. The woman shares gossip about one of the murder suspects.

      

This is why as a writer, we should not discount our experiences even if it seems like we are not writing. Everything we do becomes potential research for our books.

 

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The First Draft of Your Novel is Finished – Now What?

Your book is not done just because you typed The End. Now begins the hard work of taking your raw material and honing it into a page-turning story. This will mean several rounds of revisions, intense reading sessions, and submitting to editors and beta readers for additional input.

This work happens before you prepare the book for publication, especially if you are self-publishing your novel. Regardless of the route you choose, you’ll still need to prepare a marketing plan.

What are the steps you’ll need to take next?

Here are some ideas from my list:

Complete Chapter Outline.

Finish Synopsis.

Prepare a One-Page Synopsis (required by some writing contests).

Make critique group spot corrections.

Do at least one full read-through for continuity and repetitions.

Double check list of Loose Ends to make sure all are resolved.

Send to Professional Editor.

Hire Cover Artist.

Hire Blurb Writer. Assemble tag lines, log lines, long and short book descriptions.

Write blog posts.

Select excerpts for possible blog tour.

Create reader discussion guide.

Write launch party posts.

Search Royalty-Free Photo Sites for pictures that illustrate your Suspects. Purchase these photos. Use them for a Pinterest Story Board or for a book trailer.

Compose book trailer text and match photos. OR hire someone to do a trailer if desired.

Do edits from editor.

Do another full read-through for final editing.

Send to beta readers. Make their corrections.

Assign ISBNs and prepare copyright page if self-publishing.

Send to formatter.

Read through pdf for final corrections. Look for formatting issues.

Set Pub Date.

Book a Launch Party (See https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty/ for examples of posts).

Book a Blog Tour.

Prepare Metadata including Key Words, Book Descriptions, and Author Bio.

Upload to online distributors. Copy Buy Links.

Book NetGalley co-op dates.

Query reviewers and send arcs via BookFunnel.

Write a page of Tweets and FB Posts.

This may simplify the Revision phase and the subsequent Marketing push, but it gives a general outline of what needs to be done. Obviously, if you are traditionally publishing your work, some of these steps may be omitted.

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For more tips, read these previous posts:
12 Steps for Revising Your Novel
Preparing for a Book Launch

 

 

A Writer’s Life by Mary Cunningham

Let’s welcome our guest, Author Mary Cunningham, who will share what inspired her to write the Andi Anna Jones mystery series featuring a travel agent sleuth.

A Writer’s Life by Mary Cunningham

I’ve written most my life, but until the ripe old age of fifty, I’d never ventured beyond family memoirs and very bad poetry. Then five crazy women got together and formed WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty. All of us had reached that magical milestone, or were about to, and weren’t all that thrilled with the ramifications. Hormones, hot flashes, hair loss, and weight gain were just a few of the complaints. We decided to become proactive and write a book that not only made light of our fate, but would honor our love of dogs, too. We embarked on the WOOF adventure.

From there, I moved on to middle-grade fantasy. Huh? Not a natural transition you say? When you have a recurring dream about a friend’s attic that served as your clubhouse on rainy days, you have to write about it. Write? Er…right? Cynthia’s Attic Series features best friends, ancestors, family stories, and time travel. While I, my family nor friends have admitted to time travel, writing about family stories passed down from great-grandparents, grandparents, and my mom and dad, gave me as much writing material as any Google search could generate.

I’ve now jumped into a totally different genre—a cozy mystery series about an inept travel agent whose real talent is amateur sleuthing. One of the first “writerly” pieces of advice I got was “Write what you know.” I was that inept travel agent in North Miami Beach. (Won’t mention the agency in case there are pending lawsuits against me) Seriously, I was awful. And hated it. I’m thrilled this new book and series has given me some sense of redemption and exorcised a ghost or two.

All those miserable days I spent, completely out of my element, led to one of the most satisfying journeys of my life. Writing about Andi, and her quirky cohorts, has been a freeing experience. Not only does writing give me a release from the past, I can draw on the good and the bad. For instance, Andi’s sidekick (and true agency manager) Ellie, is based on Ellen, the proficient agent who worked with me, and saved my backside on many occasions. She knew, instinctively, when I was struggling to make an airline reservation or book a trip, and would subtly step in and guide me through the process.

So many characters in Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder are written for the reader’s enjoyment and for the purpose of making lemonade from lemons. I can’t remember writing a story that made me laugh out loud. This one did.

Throughout my writing life, I’ve made fun of the aging process (WOOF), made up adventures about my ancestors, and written about a poor, but short-lived career choice; all with self-deprecating humor. If you have life-experiences you want to remember, or would rather forget, maybe writing will help.

Do you have any memories of quirky characters or mysterious family stories?

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Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder

Andi’s step-mother, Ruby, is a real piece of work, but is she a murderer?

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will include the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby might be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with charming local sheriff, Manual Gonzales. An embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, can’t quell her determination to clear the name of her ex-stepmother.

While gathering clues and interviewing witnesses, however, she suspects dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy.

If you have as much fun reading Margaritas, Mayhem, & Murder: An Andi Anna Jones Mystery (# 1) as I had writing it, we’ll all be winners!

Order Your Copy Here or at your favorite online bookstore:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Biography

Author Mary Cunningham grew up on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn.” Through the author’s horrifying stint as a travel agent, Andi Anna Jones sprang to life. This series gives extra meaning to the phrase, “Write what you know.” Cunningham has several other books published, including five books in the Cynthia’s Attic middle-grade fantasy series, the women’s lifestyle/humor book, WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty, Ghost Light and Christmas With Daisy.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Carrollton Writers Guild. When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming, and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, furry daughter, Lucy.

Find Mary on Social Media:

Website: https://www.marycunninghambooks.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/marycunninghambooks/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MaryCunningham
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLNEK4
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-cunningham

 

Twitter Chat

Join me tonight for a Twitter Chat Q&A from 7pm to 8pm EDT sponsored by @cozymysteryclub. Use the hashtag #cozycornerchat and ask me questions. Or you can follow me at https://twitter.com/nancyjcohen

Twitter Chat

Ask anything you want about my books or publishing or the writing process. I’ll be available for the entire hour. And if you’re not familiar with Twitter Chats, we can learn together. This will be my first one, so I hope you’ll join in!

WATCH THE VIDEOS

If you missed my workshop on “Self-Publishing Made Simple” you can watch it here for a limited time: https://bit.ly/3Q2OthF

If you missed my interview by author Jennie Spallone, watch it now at https://bit.ly/3QhzbFM – Use this Passcode: #wu3zQbH

 

A Eureka Moment

Every author likely goes through a phase when we are waiting for inspiration to strike. Or perhaps we have a plotting problem and need to find a solution. If you’ve been thinking about this issue for some time, the response will pop into your head at unexpected moments. It’s like a lightbulb turns on in your brain with just the answer you need.

A Eureka Moment

It’s ironic that I was slated to speak to the Citrus Crime Writers chapter of Sisters in Crime on “Creating Settings that Sizzle.” I was struggling to figure out the setting for my next Bad Hair Day mystery.

It had been several weeks since I’d started preliminary research for this book on topics that interested me. But I still lacked the single cohesive factor I needed. In my blog post on the Five Stages of Writing, I mention Discovery as number one. This is wherein you discover the story before you begin writing. I knew the inciting incident had to take place at a fairground or a park. I had several disparate elements that I couldn’t tie together. What was I missing? The setting within a setting, which I’ve discussed in a previous post. I needed a group of people who knew each other, but I couldn’t repeat what I’ve done before. This will be my 18th book in the series, and it becomes a challenge to keep things fresh.

I sat on my couch, intending to ruminate about the plot, when EUREKA! The answer popped into my brain! It was PERFECT for what I needed!

It’s amazing how the subconscious works. This is why you need to give yourself time during this discovery phase and not rush things. Gather the story elements, let them stew in your mind, and out will come the answer you need.

I’d visited this place and wrote a blog on it. I had an album with over sixty photos. And there was even a haunted house with ghost tours on the premises! Moreover, this setting within a setting was located at a fairground and would have a built-in group of suspects.

I’d have to adjust things a bit to fit my scenario, but this idea hit the nail on the head. I even remembered an episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries that took place in a similar setting. I’ll watch it to see how they set things up. Fortunately, I have the DVD in my collection.

You never know when a research trip will pay off. As a writer, you should take notes and photos wherever you go. At some point in the future, you might need those notes to set a scene or an entire story in that place. Every site you visit becomes a potential goldmine.

Now I’m excited to bring the pieces together. I’ll have some weaving to do but I have my basis to get started. At this point, I can determine the suspects. Then it’s a matter of figuring out their secrets and interconnecting them. All of this takes place as part of the Discovery phase before writing the story. More research may be required but at least now I have a direction to follow. I’m excited to see where the trail will lead.

My fellow writers, have you ever experienced this Eureka moment? It’s a glorious feeling, isn’t it?

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Tying Up Those Pesky Loose Ends

When writing a mystery, it’s crucial to tie up any loose ends by the end of the story. You don’t want to leave readers hanging on what some incident or snatch of dialogue might have meant when they finish the book. There are several ways for you to keep track of these plot threads.

You might make a list of all the questions that will arise in a reader’s mind as you write the story. Or you can create this list as you do your first read-through revision. If you write a synopsis, that’s another way to keep tabs of what’s going on. Once you’ve finished the first draft, read through your synopsis and make sure you’ve resolved all the plot points. If not, fix them during the revision process.

Here’s an example of some loose ends from Easter Hair Hunt. A brief story blurb will fill you in so you can follow these questions.

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

LOOSE ENDS – Spoiler Alert!

Where is Blinky?
Why did Blinky give her costume to the dead guy?
Who stabbed the victim and why?
Where and what is the murder weapon?
What does the autopsy report say?
How did the Faberge egg end up in the grass next to the body?
Who is stealing artifacts from the house? Is the motive money or spite?
Why did Connor Tremaine deed his property to his wife and leave nothing to his son?

I write a synopsis up front as a writing guide. I’ve just gone through the one for Styled for Murder, my next Bad Hair Day mystery, to make sure it matches the story changes I made along the way. Whoops. It appears I’ve left too very obvious loose ends and forgot all about them. One factor is part of the killer’s confession, and another relates to a subplot with a secondary character.

Re the subplot, I left a hint in a conversation but have no idea what it meant. I can’t find an explanation for this statement anywhere in my character profiles or plotting notes. Do I eliminate this snatch of dialogue, or do I come up with a reasonable explanation? I chose to leave it in and explain what this character meant later on. That’s what I get for not keeping better track of each detail. I didn’t keep my list of loose ends for this story like I usually do, and that would have helped. All is not lost, though. I can write them out during my next revision pass to make sure everything is solved.

This is also why a story needs multiple views. We need to make sure all the questions have been answered by the end. Even our editors and beta readers sometimes miss things that our fans will point out later.

Tying Up those Pesky Loose Ends #amwriting #writetip Click To Tweet

Do you have lapses like this? How do you catch them?

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here Aug 1-18 to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench cozy mystery authors 

Booklovers Bench Monthly Book Giveaway

Writing the Cozy Mystery – Howdunit

When writing a cozy mystery, you need to decide upon crime scene details even though interpersonal relations, and not forensics, are your story’s focus. The murder might even be off scene, but you’ll still have to determine how it happened.

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Howdunit

In Trimmed to Death, the story begins at a farm festival bake-off contest, which my hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail enters as a contestant. But I was stymied regarding the setting because our city’s fairs were held at athletic fields or local parks. I was telling this to my manicurist when she suggested Bedner’s Farm as a possible model for my story. The next day, my husband and I drove north to visit this farm in Boynton Beach. See my post for a report on this visit. The varied structures and grounds were ideal for my purposes, but I’d move my fictional site nearer to Marla’s hometown.

Now what? I had to select a victim. Spoiler alert!

After looking up farm festivals online, I decided my story would include a live scavenger hunt with the prize going to the guest who collected all of the stamps. Francine Dodger is the final target of the festival’s Find Franny game. Unfortunately, she is slated to die.

Next, consider the five Ws to expand the details.

Who ends up dead? Francine is the victim.

Where is she killed? In the strawberry field. How does she arrive there? Is she lured on purpose, or it is a crime of opportunity? Did the killer follow her? Determine Where-dunit.

 

strawberry plants

How does she die? Will it look like an accident or right away be clear it’s a homicide? Water-filled canals line the U-pick rows. She could be drowned in a ditch. Or she can fall down a silo and smother in the grain. But what would make her climb up there in the first place? Or maybe we should run her over by a tractor.

What knowledge does the killer need? If the murder involves an equipment accident, it’ll have to be someone who knows how to operate the machinery. Ditto the hazards inside a silo. You don’t want to point the finger at a particular suspect like the farmer, because it’s too obvious. Maybe give one of the other characters a secret history of working on a farm or of selling agricultural machinery if you go this route.

If you poison a victim, who has knowledge about the type of poison plus has access to it? Is it fast-acting enough for the circumstances, or do you need a slower more insidious death? What are the particular symptoms? In a cozy mystery, we want to avoid anything messy or too graphic. 

When does it happen? Think about not only about the time of death, but also why not a week or a month ago? Why NOW? What happened to trigger the killer at this point in time?

How does the killer get away? Does he have blood on his clothes? Are his shoes wet or muddy? Is he able to blend back into the crowd at the farm festival?

Now let’s throw a wrench into the works. What if it’s a case of mistaken identity? The murderer thought he had killed one woman, but he got somebody else who was similarly attired. How will he react upon seeing his intended victim alive and well? This leads to another set of problems. It means he can’t see the victim’s face before he kills her, or he’ll realize it’s the wrong person. So again, we go back to Howdunit?

Once you figure out these details, you’ll have to determine how your amateur sleuth stumbles across the dead body. And this is when the story actually begins.

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Previous posts on this topic:

Writing the Cozy Mystery – Whodunit
Writing the Cozy Mystery – Whydunit

Note: This post topic originally appeared in Feb. 2017.

GIVEAWAY

Enter Here Aug 1-18 to win a free book from Booklover’s Bench cozy mystery authors 

Booklovers Bench Monthly Book Giveaway

Writing the Cozy Mystery – Whydunit

When writing a cozy mystery, you need to identify the victim and then figure out who has something to gain from this person’s death. It can be friends, relatives, or colleagues. Give each person a secret that may or may not provide a motive for murder.

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Whydunit

Next figure out how these people relate to each other. Imagine a spider web. Put the murder victim in the center circle. The spokes coming from the center are the suspects. These spokes have branches that are their motives. Then connect these people to each other like a web. If you want to see this web of deceit illustrated, pick up a copy of my book, Writing the Cozy Mystery.

Here are examples from Trimmed to Death to show you how it’s done. Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off contest at a local farm during a fall festival. She finds a dead body face-down in the u-pick strawberry field. Spoiler Alert!

Tally Riggs, Marla’s best friend, met Becky Forest at a local historical museum. Becky told Tally about the bake-off, who invited Marla to participate with her. Here is Becky in her office.

Becky Forest in Trimmed to Death

Becky, a scientist, is a cookbook author and curator of the museum. She studies plant remains of ancient peoples, including early Florida food practices. Every time Becky has a new cookbook out, she’s a guest on Chef Raquel Hayes’ TV show.

Raquel Hayes in Trimmed to Death

Raquel, a judge at the bake-off contest and a TV chef, did something in the past that could cause a scandal. Francine Dodger recognizes her on TV and threatens to spill her secret.

Francine, a contestant at the bake-off, is a food magazine editor. While researching an article on the farm, she uncovers something that could ruin the owners’ reputation.

Zach Kinsdale, eldest brother of four siblings who run the family farm, hasn’t told his two brothers and sister Janet about this looming disaster.

Janet is married to Tony, who runs an import-export business. He sells his imported olive oils to Zach for the farm’s marketplace. But Janet suspects something is unethical about her husband’s business. She organized the bake-off since her husband’s company is a festival sponsor.

Tony Winters in Trimmed to Death

Tony, Janet’s husband, is worried about an exposé that Francine has mentioned. He’s also concerned about Tristan Marsh, pastry chef at The Royal Palate and a judge at the show. Tristan has been making inquiries that concern him. Then there’s Alyce Greene, a blogger who supports the farm-to-table movement. She has been troublesome as well.

Alyce is a contestant at the bake-off. She’s married to Jon, a food truck operator. Jon got a loan to start his business from Alyce’s brother, Steve Madison. Steve, an investment advisor, manages Tony’s accounts.

And so on. You see how these people are interrelated. It helps when the puzzle pieces fit together as a whole, but this process may take a while. In the meantime, allow your subconscious to stew on your characters until story magic happens. The connections will pop into your brain. It’s a joyful moment when this occurs.

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If you missed my previous post on this topic, go here: Writing the Cozy Mystery – Whodunit

NOTE: This post topic originally appeared in Feb. 2017.

Next comes Writing the Cozy Mystery – Howdunit.

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Enter Here to win 48 exciting Cozy Mystery series starters, including my book PERMED TO DEATH, and a brand new eReader!

Cozy Mystery First in Series Giveaway

 

Story Dream – Mysterious Village

Have you ever been blessed with a story dream? I consider myself fortunate when this happens and write it down first thing in the morning to preserve the memory. You’ll think you might remember it but the scenes fade as the day wears on.

Dreams

I’ve been lucky to have dreams that have inspired some of my stories. That’s how Circle of Light, my first published book, began. The dream ended and it was too good to let go. I had to finish the story. Scenes for Silver Serenade came from a dream, also. I can’t say that this has happened for my mysteries, but perhaps this recent one will be the start.

The Dream

I have recently moved to a small village and am exploring the environs. Nearby is a big city that I’m eager to visit. I walk around the urban center, gawking at the tall buildings as though I’m in Manhattan.

While there, I am inside a department store several stories high when I notice white smoke billowing from a window below. Fearful that I would get trapped if there was a fire, I hurry down the interior stairs praying the exit door wasn’t locked. I get out and overhear a conversation between two officials. There was no fire, but they believed it was an act by a subversive group to cause confusion.

I go home to my new house, glad for the peace and quiet. My daughter comes to visit and we decide to take a walk. I haven’t found any paved walking trails nearby, so we hitch a ride down the main avenue to a bustling flea market. We can walk and shop at the same time.

We dump our coats on a chair to shop unburdened. As I browse the colorful wares, I don’t see anything I want to buy. We’re at one booth when I get worried someone will steal my fur coat. I scurry back to the chairs where we left our outerwear and observe with relief that I had only brought a cheap cloth jacket. It doesn’t matter if I lose that one. I tell my daughter I’m going home and will take the coats. It’s warm and we don’t need them. I’ll return shortly.

At the village, I notice a dirt walking path I hadn’t seen before. It borders woods on one side and a field on the other. I walk a short distance down the trail and come upon a gunship on a landing. What is that weaponized transport doing here? I am not quick enough to take a photo with my cell phone before the engine revs up and it’s gone.

Remembering the conversation I’d overheard earlier, I wonder if this vessel belongs to insurgents in the area. I should tell someone but I have no evidence.

I go back to the flea market but my daughter isn’t there. I take the bus home and call her during the ride. To my great relief, she answers and is safe. And that’s when I woke up.

Story dreams can be inspirational. #amwriting #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

The Aftermath

Fantasy Dreamer

What do you think? Is there a germ of a story idea in here?

Sometimes it’s the emotions from a dream that can be useful in creating a scene. The fear of being trapped in a high building, losing touch with a loved one, or making an ominous discovery are feelings I can glean from this dream.

What part of this story would you want to see developed? Have you had any interesting dreams lately?

 

 

 

How to Create a Box Set

Setting out to create a book box set can be a daunting task. Join the online writing community and gather data on this topic as soon as you think you might go in this direction. Lots of great advice is out there and it will help you with these steps to create your own book bundle.

How to create a box set

Series Title

You’ll need to invent a series title for your box set that is different from your actual series. It helps to include the words “box set, boxed set, collection, or omnibus” to show that it’s a bundle. Avoid the word “anthology” because this has come to mean a collection of works by different authors. You’re doing a same-author set. I went with The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set for my new series.

Then you must give each individual book a title. For me, this became Volume One, Volume Two, etc. The subtitle is Books 1-3 and so on. Go to Amazon, put in the search window any of the terms above along with your genre, and study the titles. For example, put “cozy mystery box sets” and see what pops up. Note how those authors handle the series title and subtitle. 

Manuscript Preparation

For each book, strip out the front and back matter. Decide if you will keep the individual title pages or will insert a book cover photo instead.

Format each book the same, i.e. single space, one-inch margins, chapter header styles, indent first line, etc.

Compile the set. At the end of book one, copy and paste book two. Repeat for book three if this is a triple bundle.

Front Material

Add a title page to the front of each boxed set.

Create a blurb page with a story blurb for each individual book title. Here’s where you can mention any awards a book has earned. I include a review quote for each book as well.

Obtain an ISBN number and assign it to your box set title at MyIdentifiers.com. [See my previous post for instructions.] Add this to the copyright page for your box set. Put the copyright info for the box set volume at the top, followed by the original copyrights for each individual title. I put the credits here also for my cover design artist and my professional formatter. 

Back Material

Include one Author’s Note with a Call to Action (i.e. Request for Review, Newsletter Signup) at the end of the box set.

Add an “About the Author” page with your bio and social media links.

If you wish, present a Book List at the end with all your titles in series order. Don’t forget a buy link. I send readers to the books page on my website so as not to run into conflict with distributor policies. For example, you can’t have an Amazon link on a book you upload to Apple.

Cover Considerations

Hire a cover designer to create an overall theme that carries through from volume to volume. This may include a new logo for your box set series. (Credit to Kim Killion at The Killion Group, Inc. for my designs). Consider placement and fonts for series title/logo, subtitle, and author name for consistency. Choose a color scheme (i.e. bold colors, tropical hues, pastels). Decide on a background image. Note all mine take place in the salon with small variations. Marla, my hairstylist sleuth, is on each cover holding a drink or item related to one of the stories.

Order both 2D and 3D covers for each set. The book distributors will have different policies in this regard. I use 2D covers at Apple and Kobo, and 3D covers at Amazon and BN. Having both types is also helpful when marketing your work.

   The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Two         Bad Hair Day Mysteries Box Set Volume Two

Get Ready to Publish

Format for your distributor(s) of choice. I send the assembled manuscript to my formatter, who makes sure any errant coding is removed, checks chapter headers for consistency, inserts book covers in place of individual title pages, and converts the set into my choice of ePub format. You can also upload to Draft2Digital for free conversion.

Marketing Tips

Decide on a release strategy. How many volumes will you be releasing? How soon together do you want to launch them?

Create a short blurb for each set to use as part of your book descriptions. Examples:

Set 1

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In her debut case, the brazen beautician unravels a shocking murder that’s making waves all over Palm Haven, a small southern town where almost everyone has something to hide. A coastal fundraiser and a murder at a fitness club round out this trio of fun, light reads.

Set 2

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of adventures, Marla helps her ex-spouse solve a murder, searches for her missing pet-loving neighbor, and stumbles across the body of a rival hairdresser.

Set 3

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida hairstylist and salon owner with a knack for styling hair and solving crimes. In this trio of cozy mysteries, Marla stays at a haunted hotel, has a blast at a beauty trade show, and sails on a Caribbean cruise with a killer onboard.

Create several memes at BookBrush.com for the first volume in your series.

Once you have the cover and blurbs, begin a page on your website for volume one and save as a draft.

Upload to the distributors and collect your buy links. Add these links to your web page.

Write blogs in advance for pre-order and for launch date.

Prepare a newsletter to announce the new book.

Write a page of tweets and FB posts that you can use with your memes.

Plan a Launch Party and decide upon giveaways.

Determine if you will seek reviews for this volume or let them populate at will.

Think about ads to attract new readers to your series via your box sets.

Consider applying for a BookBub deal for volume one after volume two launches.

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Want to get started reading The Bad Hair Day Mysteries? Check out my Box Sets at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08ZDVH1VW

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