What Readers Want

Florida Romance Writers was lucky to have Columnist Barbara Vey from Publishers Weekly speak to us about What Readers Want. Basically, they want authors to be polite and respectful toward them. They want their expectations to be met. And they want to know if you’ve reissued a book they might already have.

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Readers may be disappointed if an author breaks her promise to readers. For example, the reader expects a certain type of reading experience, and the author takes a favorite series in another direction. This might sour the reader toward buying any more books in this series.

Readers may not like it when an author switches genres and the reader is expecting the same type of book as before. Either use a pseudonym or indicate by the cover that this is a different genre.

Readers aren’t happy when they buy a book only to find they already have it on their shelves, because it’s a reissue. Have it say so somewhere on the cover or inside the front pages.

Readers blame the author for anything and everything: bad covers, bad editing, etc. They don’t understand that publishers may be at fault. All they know are authors.

Readers hold authors in high regard and expect courtesy and respect in return.

Avoid politics online (and religion) or you’ll risk alienating your fans.

Readers who post reviews shouldn’t give away significant plot points.

To gain reader interest, Barbara advises authors to interact online with readers, put out questions, chat as though with a friend, and be yourself.

Readers, what would you add?

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I was pleased to receive Member of the Month award from FRW. Here’s a photo of me with FRW president Rose Lawson, and another one of FRW Board members Heidi Lynn Anderson, Rose Lawson, and Lisa Manuel with lifetime achievement award winners Linda Conrad, Heather Graham, and Joan Hammond.

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We went to lunch afterward at the Field, an Irish pub. Here I am with Barbara Vey. And that’s the rest of the gang!

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Cyber Spooktacular Celebration

Join the authors of Florida Romance Writers for a Bootastic Online Halloween Celebration. You don’t even need to dress up. From Oct. 28 – 31 visit authors’ Websites & Facebook pages to collect your Witches Brew Ingredients and win great prizes!

Participating authors: Heidi Lynn Anderson, Nancy Cohen, Linda Conrad, Shelley Freydont, Joan Johnston, Karen Kendall, Marcia King-Gamble, Sandra Madden, Aleka Nakis, Kathleen Pickering, Mona Risk, Carol Stephenson, Cynthia Thomason & Bonnie Vanak.

For complete details and to enter, visit http://www.booktalk.com/Halloween

How Can Readers Help Authors?

If you’re an avid reader, no doubt you’d like to encourage your favorite authors to keep writing. What can you, as a consumer, do for the writer who bares her soul to you in each story? Beyond buying her latest title, is there more?

You betcha! Here are some things you can do on your end that will be appreciated.

Write customer reviews of author’s books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Library Thing.

Add author’s book to your Wish List on Amazon.                           books2

Search for author’s website, author name, and book titles periodically to raise their rank in search engines.

Bookmark or add to Favorites the author’s online sites.

Like author’s Facebook page; Share and comment on her Facebook posts.

Retweet author’s Twitter updates; Mention author and her books on Twitter.

Like and Tag author’s Amazon author page as well as each book title and edition.

Share author’s newsletter with your friends.

Recommend author’s books online on various reader forums.

Create a Listmania list on Amazon and add author’s books.

Look for good reviews of author’s book and click Yes to “Was this review helpful to you?”

Follow author’s blog tours and leave comments.

Repin author’s photos on Pinterest. Go to online bookseller and Pin author’s book covers into one of your albums.

Offer to hand out bookmarks for author.

Initiate a Street Team of fans to spread the word about author’s works.

If you live in the same region, suggest the author as a speaker to various groups.

Buy the author’s latest book or ask your librarian to order it and put your name on the wait list.

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Anything you can do will help, especially in this era of viral content. Word of mouth still has the most clout. So share your pleasure in the author’s writing and make her job easier so she can concentrate on writing the next book.

The Wrap Scene

You’re approaching the end of your book. Do you finish in a spate of action, or do you have your characters meet in a quiet scene where they reflect on what’s occurred? In a romance, these last pages are where the hero proposes and the main characters profess their love for each other. In a mystery, this scene serves a different purpose. It’s where all loose ends are tied up and final explanations for the crime come to light. Use the following steps as a guideline for your own work.

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The authorities reveal information they previously couldn’t discuss.

In the course of an investigation, the police/detectives/federal agents cannot reveal all that they know. But once the killer is in custody, they can explain the rationale that led them to determining the murderer’s identity. In my Bad Hair Day mysteries, hairstylist Marla Vail is married to a homicide detective. Her husband Dalton may discuss some aspects of the crime with her earlier on, but much of what he learns cannot come out until later. Marla follows a different path to targeting the killer. This final scene may show them exchanging information on how each one arrived at the same conclusion but from a different angle.

The villain’s means, motives, and opportunity are confirmed.

What drove the villain to commit the crime? How did he do it? Very likely, in the previous chapter, the hero confronted the killer, who may have confessed. But here is where you can fill in the sordid details and psychological aspects of the crime.

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The survivors are not forgotten.

Even if you’re writing a light cozy mystery, the murder affects people. What happens to the victim’s family? How about the killer’s close relations? Two sets of tragedies occur here. What are the ramifications for these people?

What has my character learned?

This is perhaps the most important item. Your main character, the amateur sleuth, has been affected by these events in some way. What has she learned from this experience? How have the people around her changed? How does this sequence of events change her plans for the future?

Set up for the sequel.

Has a new person been introduced into your universe who may play a larger role next time? Is there an unsolved mystery that’s part of a bigger story arc? Or does your main character receive a call to action that he has to accept? Here is where you can drop a hint of what’s to come.

Revisit old friends.

This final scene might take place between your main characters alone, or among recurrent characters whom your readers have come to regard as friends. This decision will arise from your setting and from the people who’ve peppered your story. Genre expectations may play a role here, too. In a romance, usually the hero and heroine are focused on each other at the end. Anything goes in a mystery, thriller, or sci-fi/fantasy, but make sure the ending has emotional impact no matter which characters it includes.

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Frame the story.

If you began your story with a particular setting, you may want to return there for your final scene. This gives your book a sense of completeness. It also resonates with readers.

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It’s hard to remember everything that’s happened in the story when you write the first draft of this scene. No doubt you’ll add more later during self-edits. It helps to write down all the loose ends when you do a thorough read-through. Then you can check off each item as it’s answered in the story and fill in any missing information during the final chapter. Once you are satisfied that you have covered all bases, save and close the file with a smile.

Tami Hoag Guest Speaker

Florida Romance Writers is proud to host NY Times bestselling author Tami Hoag at the August 11, 2012 meeting. The twenty-seven year writing veteran will share her vast knowledge of the ever-changing world of publishing, with Q&A to follow.

Saturday, August 11, 2012
9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel
1825 Griffin Road
Dania, FL 33004

DIRECTIONS: I-95 to Griffin Road exit (Exit 26). Go east on Griffin and make a right at the first light into the Sheraton parking area.

Self-parking is free of charge if you mention you are with FRW.

Program
Tami Hoag
#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag has fifteen consecutive NY Times bestsellers to her credit, including Deeper Than the Dead, Secrets to the Grave, and Prior Bad Acts. Hoag has more than 35 million books in print, published in more than twenty languages worldwide. Her first thriller, Night Sins, was made into a two-part mini-series in 1997, and continues to air frequently on cable networks more than a decade later. Born in Iowa, raised in Minnesota, Hoag left the frigid north for warmer climes in 1998. An avid competitive equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage, she currently lives in Florida, where she competes her horses on the prestigious winter show circuit.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS REQUIRED!

Please RSVP by the Tuesday prior to the meeting by 5:00pm, by e-mail to Lisa Manuel at lisamore1@aol.com and put meeting reservation in the subject line.
Non-members may attend as guests for $25. Please visit http://www.frwriters.org/meetings.html for PayPal button.

Please be advised there is a $5.00 late fee for any reservations made after the Wednesday prior to the meeting.

Reassessing Your Goals

Summer is supposed to be a laid back time of rest, relaxation, and fun in the sun. On the other hand, with seasonal meetings and events suspended until September, it can be a good time to get in some good work hours.

The only way to accomplish anything during these lazy days is to set goals. You should be setting your annual goals every January, in terms of writing and the business aspects of writing. So here you are six months later. How many of these line items have you finished? Do you wish to change/remove the remaining ones? Add something new?

In looking back over my files, I am stunned to see that I hadn’t done this for 2012. Oh, dear. How could I be so lax? Usually I’m very goal directed. I suppose having my tenth Bad Hair Day mystery coming out in January proved too much of a distraction. So let’s set goals that will serve from now through the end of the year.

Writing Goals

1.  Write Hanging by a Hair, my next Bad Hair Day mystery. Short-term goal: Finish the first half within the next two weeks. Why? Because then I’ll have to take a break to attend some family events and to do the edits for Warrior Rogue when they come in.

2.  Polish and submit Warrior Lord, the third book in my Drift Lords series. With the manuscript running longer than 400 pages, this will take me easily a month or two.

Calculating all the time factors in, my goal to finish Hanging by a Hair is on target to December. I need a month or two for the edits to Warrior Rogue and for reading the page proofs. Then add in another couple of months to revise Warrior Lord. And I need a good six to eight weeks uninterrupted to finish the mystery. Holidays, a Caribbean cruise, and other occasions will cut into this six months period. Is it any wonder I am working harder than ever this summer?

Business Goals

1.  Prepare promotional campaign for Warrior Prince, including setting up a virtual tour and writing all the blogs ahead of time, scheduling ads, devising contests, social networking, etc. This could literally take up all of my time.

2.  Create video trailer for Warrior Rogue.

3.  Prepare and upload special bonus materials for readers of my Drift Lords series. I’ve done a lot of world building and would like to share these details with readers.

This is about all I can handle for now. There’s always more to be done, but life has to be lived, too. Just know that I am dedicated to getting more books out there for you to read.

Now take a moment and reevaluate the writing goals you’d set at the beginning of the year. Do they have to be modified? How many have you accomplished so far?

Gifts for the Writer

What should you buy for the writer on your gift list? Some of these items are no brainers. Others are generic, and still others apply to the individual. But here are some cost-effective ideas that may appeal to all in no particular order. The best way to get a wish list: Ask. Or go look at their desk if you have access and see what they collect or use the most.      

   Some of the more interesting gifts I’ve gotten have come from my writer pals or my kids, like the jar labeled Writer’s Remedy that holds little squares with different words for inspiration, or the figure holding a hammer to his computer with a plaque that says #1 Author & Mom, or the coffee mug with my book title. Be imaginative, or be simple. Whatever you give will be appreciated.

Here are some ideas:

  1. An Ebook reader device, i.e. a Kindle, Nook, Sony, or Kobo, or a tablet like the iPad.
  2. Accessories for the Ebook reader.
  3. Books and DVDs on their Wish List.
  4. Gift Cards to Amazon, B&N, Borders, Starbucks. You can order particular books on Amazon Kindle now to be sent to the gift recipient’s email address if they have a Kindle.
  5. Office Supplies: highlighters, ultra-fine black Sharpie pens, a good quality ballpoint pen, a sturdy stapler, paper clips, rubber bands, pads of paper. You name it, we can use it.
  6. Personalized notepads and Post-its. Great for scribbling memos.
  7. Cute desk accessories like Brighton pens and mini-clocks or magnetic paper clip holders.
  8. Scented Candles. Scents can soothe or energize.
  9. Body lotions, hand cream, scented soaps. If we smell good, we feel good.
  10. A gift certificate to a day spa. A mani-pedi or a massage can go a long way toward relaxation.
  11. USB Flash Drive. We can use several as backups to keep in different locations.
  12. Chocolates and/or Wine. You can never go wrong here. My favorite place to order food gifts is Wine Country Gift Baskets. They have a selection of everything and their prices are reasonable.                              

What else would you add?    

                               

Author Collectives

AUTHOR COLLECTIVES

“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.

Multi-published authors are looking for a way to distinguish their epubbed books from the multitude.  In some instances, they’ve banded together to form cooperatives.  Here are three that presented to us at the conference.  Again, these statements are from my notes and subject to my interpretation.

A Writer’s Work

This site is for authors who have had at least two commercially published works. They sell direct to readers. Books may be original or previously published.  There is no exclusivity.  The author can put it up elsewhere or pull it down at any time.  The author gets 70%.  Then 25% goes toward maintaining the website and the other 5% for Paypal fees. So far they have 18 multi-published authors participating.  http://www.awriterswork.com/

Backlist EBooks

This site is for authors who put their previously published backlists up for sale themselves. They can list the titles here.  This site does not put the books up for sale directly.  There’s a small fee for website upkeep. Each author will have their own page and links to their sites. http://backlistebooks.com/

http://www.facebook.com/BacklistEbooks?v=wall

Book View Café

Membership in Book View Cafe is limited to authors who have had at least one novel published with a traditional advance and royalty-paying print publisher. Author members may sell original works as well as backlist titles through this website direct to readers.  They offer free fiction as well.  These authors have varied amounts of experience in epublishing and help each other format and prepare their work.  They can help with cover design, publishing, and promotion.  http://www.bookviewcafe.com/

Someone said that ePub and pdf are the two most requested formats.

I imagine we’ll see more cooperatives by career authors who want to distinguish their body of work from the uninitiated masses.  If publishers are the gatekeepers, then these authors have already passed through the gate.

THE PLOTTING BRAIN

You’ve put aside the first draft you have just finished so you can gain some distance on the work before tackling revisions. It’s a great time to clean your office, sort your files, and write a few blogs. But your mind starts seguing into the next story. 

 Here’s what floated into my mind, even when I’m trying to take a break:

 My next hero is a Tsuran swordsman who has been disgraced on his home world and shunned by his people. What dastardly deed did he commit? He protected a family member by taking the blame for a murder that she’d committed under duress. Thus close family ties mean a lot to him. Now bring in a heroine who is trying to escape from her family obligations. Conflict! 

Add another element. Say our hero, Lord Magnor, is protecting his sister who killed her abusive husband. After he was incarcerated, he learned that she’d been cheating on the man. Betrayal!

Now he’s a sullen, mysterious loner forced to join a team of warriors because they’re the only ones who will accept him. How will the heroine differ? She has to be a people person, outgoing, gregarious, generously reaching out to others. Maybe she gives of herself too much and has overextended her limits. Perhaps her last boyfriend left when she put her dedication to various causes before their relationship. She doesn’t want another man who’ll be so selfish and who lacks compassion. So why does this fierce warrior appeal to her?

Before I delve further into their GMC, what is the hero’s main mission for this story? He has to find the secret weapon that will destroy the evil Trolleks who’ve invaded Earth (it’s a paranormal romance). How will he proceed? Even though I have a list of plot threads from previous installments that have to be tied up in this volume, I’m stumped.

I give up and start cleaning out my files. Oh cool, here’s an article on archetypes. You know what I mean: marriage of convenience, rags to riches, twins, secret baby, prince in disguise, etc. Hey, what if I mix one of these into my story? Imagine the sparks if these two characters had to wed. What if (yes, we plotters use What If? a lot) the heroine enlists Magnor as her fake fiancé? Nah, that’s been done to death already. So how to put a modern twist on the old marriage of convenience tale in a way that would suit my story?

   ideaGenius strikes. My bad guys are using theme parks to recruit humans as their mind slaves. Magnor goes to Las Vegas to follow a lead.  What else is Vegas if not one huge theme park for adults?

I’m getting excited.  I can envision my hero striding down the Strip in his cloak and sword. He encounters a woman who drunkenly boasts to her friends that she can snag any man who walks through the door. Guess who it is?  Yep, our hapless hero.  But he doesn’t fall for her allure right away. Nope, he recognizes the watch she wears as being significant to his mission. And when they end up in a wedding chapel, our warrior from outer space has no idea what it means. They wake up the next morning together in a hotel room, and…you get the picture. Cool set up, huh?

Now I have to figure out why the Norse goddess Hel releases her “Dead Walkers” so the hero has to brave the underworld to stop her. It could be another ploy for dominance by the evil demon, Loki. He’s manipulating the Trolleks, and… well, I don’t want to give too many spoilers. In case you haven’t guessed, this series is based on Norse mythology.

As each idea comes to me, I jot it down. It’s all jumbled right now. Next I’ll sit down and do my Character Development and Romantic Conflict charts, figure out the plot progression, and write the synopsis. It just has to brew upstairs a while longer.

What do you think of my story idea so far?  Any suggestions?  When you finish a book, how long of a break do you take and how do you approach the next story to get started?

Support Your Favorite Author

TEN WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR

How can you keep your favorite authors writing the series you love so much?  How can you inspire them when the publishing world dives and drags them along for the ride?

Here are some ways you can help besides showing up at a booksigning, ordering their book in the library, or giving a copy of their book as a gift.

  • Post reviews of their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, Shelfari, your blog, and anywhere else that takes reader reviews. And while you’re at it, give their book five star ratings.
  • Tag their book sites on Amazon.  Scroll down on the book page to where it says Tags Customers Associate with this Product and put in your tags, i.e. keywords, or click Agree With These Tags.
  • “Like” the author’s posts on Facebook
  • Tweet their blog posts or other sites to your friends and retweet their Twitter posts.
  • Write them a message of support.  Authors need inspiration and you, the reader, are the reason why we write. 
  • If you’re really dedicated, lead a discussion group about their books.
  • Mention their books on Amazon Listmania and other favorites lists
  • Request bookmarks and pass them out to people you know who like to read.
  • Suggest their book for a book club discussion.
  • Provide links online to their website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

 What would you add?  As an author, can you make any other suggestions?  As a reader, what can the author do for you in return?

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