It’s not often that we have to update our entire website, but that’s what my designer has been doing for me. She’s switched my hosting system to Managed WordPress, changed my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, and updated my ancient webmail to the Office 365 Email program. We’re still ironing out the kinks, but we’re getting there. I highly recommend Laideebug Digital if you’re looking to update your site.
This post is a test to see if you receive it. Let me know if you have any problems. Please re-subscribe to my blog if you got dropped in the transfer. Once I am assured this post got received as intended, I can go ahead and resume my regular blogs. So let me hear from you. Did you get this in your email inbox or by coming over to my site?
I’m revising my very first published novel, Circle of Light. This title won the 1995 HOLT Medallion Award and blends my love of science fiction with romance. When I was a fledgling writer, it gave me great joy to let my imagination go wild and create this soaring fantasy. This story began a trilogy and was one of four books I did with Dorchester writing as Nancy Cane. The story follows the hero’s journey in that first we see attorney Sarina Bretton in her natural habitat. She is kidnapped from Earth by Captain Teir Reylock of the Coalition Defense League. His mission is to deliver her to the alliance for her marriage to Lord Cam’brii, a stiff politician. Through this union, Sarina will become the Great Healer and save the galaxy from a devastating plague. Sarina, unhappy about being forced from her home, refuses to cooperate. But after an encounter with one of Teir’s enemies, she crosses the threshold and accepts the challenge. Along the way, she falls in love with Teir instead of the councilman she’s destined to wed. Oh, what fun I had creating this tale! It brings me great pleasure to reread this story and make it even better. It’s amazing how much a writer’s skill advances over the years. Revising may be a tedious job, but it’s necessary to polish a book to perfection. I might be writing mysteries now, but these stories were my first love. They’ll be available to you again with new covers and bonus materials in my revised Author’s Editions. Tropes: abduction by a hot alien, space travel, starship captain, political intrigue, betrayal, psychic ability, strong female lead, royalty, star-crossed romance, legends & prophecy, secret identity. What are your favorite elements in the books you read? ONE MORE DAY to enter the Booklover’s Bench contest to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Enter Here and check out our latest Let’s Talk post while there.
Setting goals is critical if you want to get things done. For a writer, making a list of what you want to accomplish each year will put you on the right path. In an earlier blog post, I reviewed my goals for 2018. We discussed what got done and what didn’t. Authors can break down their goals into creative and business oriented tasks. So now let’s take a look at 2019. This might seem less ambitious than last year, but revising and reissuing my backlist titles is my main goal. That project could take the entire year, because I go through each book to tighten the writing and then do a full read-through once for any further changes and again to check for conversion errors after formatting. It takes time, because I want each book to be the best possible version. So I am not going to set myself too many tasks beyond this one. CREATIVE GOALS Reissue remaining backlist titles (6 romances + 4 mysteries) Write and publish Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries Write and publish a Bad Hair Day recipe book BUSINESS GOALS Enter latest releases in writing contests Carry on with newsletter, blogs and social media Update website in terms of hosting and other behind-the-scenes decisions Bundle books into box sets Consider wider distribution for audiobooks LEARNING GOALS Learn how to use various book production tools as new opportunities arise Learn how to plan and promote book sales after all my backlist titles are under my control <><><> Five years ago, I wrote a list of long-term, five-year goals. I am pleased to say that I am on target with most of these items. Once this year’s goals are met, it will be time for a career reassessment. Only by resetting our overall goals periodically can we gain clarity on the best path to take next. What is the main item you want to get done this year? GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card atBooklovers Bench.
Each year, it’s important to set personal as well as business goals. And accordingly, at the end of the year, we should review how much we’ve accomplished and what needs to carry over for next time. I hold myself accountable to you, so let’s see where we stand on the writing aspect. As for the personal angle, I survived our daughter’s wedding. That is a herculean task in itself. CREATIVE GOALS Reissue ebook Author’s Edition Silver Serenade – January 9, 2018 Reissue print Author’s Edition Died Blonde – February 6, 2018 Produce Body Wave Audiobook – May 11, 2018 Promote Large Print Edition of Hair Brained – Aug. 8, 2018 Finish and Launch Trimmed to Death – Sept. 25, 2018 Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition – Nov. 12, 2018 Write Epilogue to Hair Brained – Launched asshort story Hairball Hijinks – June 12, 2018 Revise Keeper of the Rings – Reissued July 13, 2018 Revise Dead Roots (Revisions Done; Needs read-through) Continue backlist title reissues (Revisions Done on Perish by Pedicure and Killer Knots) Plot Easter Hair Hunt novella (In Progress) BUSINESS GOALS Prepare PowerPoint lectures and handouts for upcoming events (DONE) Enter Hair Brained in writing contests (DONE – Also entered latest titles into contests) Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media LEARNING GOALS Learn how to do Facebook Ads (NOT DONE) Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors (NOT DONE) As you see, I did great in the creative arena but didn’t reach my learning goals. In January, I’ll formulate new goals for 2019. How about you? What were your major accomplishments this year?
Do you want to send an agent a query letter but have no idea what it should include? Or perhaps you’ve sent out several queries and you keep getting rejections. What could you be doing wrong? Here are some steps you can take to put yourself on the path to success. · Check the guidelines for submissions on the agent’s website. This will tell you what genres the person represents and if they prefer email or snail mail submissions. The guidelines will also state if you should include any sample chapters. · Make sure the agent does not require an exclusive submission. If so, you’d lose months while waiting for a response. See if the agent mentions their expected response time. · Write a one-page snappy query letter introducing yourself, giving the word count and genre for your book, a catchy story blurb, and your writing credits. If possible, include a hot premise or marketing hook that makes your story stand out. This means using keywords such as “paranormal” or “dystopian” or “domestic suspense” or saying your story is “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone.” If you can compare your style to similar published authors, do so without bragging about how your book is as wonderful as Ms. Bestselling Author. · Be careful not to sound as though your writing is all over the board in terms of genres. Be clear about your focus. For example, don’t give the genre as a suspense novel and then mention that it takes place on another planet and your next book will be a vampire story. You’ll want to build your author brand by focusing on one genre as you grow your readership. · Do not describe your life history or any personal details unless they relate directly to your book. Do include if you belong to a critique group, have won writing contests, or if you’ve attended writing workshops and conferences. · You can also mention why readers might want to read your book. What is the value in it for them? Again, don’t brag and say it’s the most exciting book they’ll ever read, or it’s a fast-paced thrill ride. This is for readers to determine. But if it helps them appreciate family values or learn about how you can rise above past mistakes, this could be useful to include as a theme. Basic Structure First Paragraph – State your book’s title, genre and word count. Here you can put if you’re a published author seeking representation or a new author seeking an agent for your first book. Second Paragraph – This is your catchy book blurb. Write it like a log line for a TV show or like the back cover copy of your book. You’ll want to engage the reader’s interest. Third Paragraph – Here offer your biography as it applies to your writing, including works you’ve published, memberships in professional writing organizations, writing workshops you’ve attended, critique group participation. Mention any expertise or work credentials that apply to your book. You can also make marketing suggestions or mention your proposed target audience. Mention if your story is book one of a series. Last Remarks – Thank the agent for their consideration and offer to send the completed manuscript upon request. Do mention if this is a multiple submission. Signature Line – Here is where you can add your social media links. Doubtless the agent, if interested, will look you up to see if you have an online platform. If you hear nothing back from the agent for a couple of months, send a follow-up email to ask if she’s received your query. Be courteous and respectful of the agent’s time. Be aware that some agents won’t respond at all, and this can be taken as a rejection. But follow through at least once to make sure your email was received. As an alternative, you can request a return receipt for when the agent opens the message. If you receive a rejection letter with detailed suggestions for your work, write a thank you note. Remember, an author-agent relationship is a two-way street. Just as you want to hire the ideal agent, the agent wants to land the ideal client. Be courteous, professional, and savvy about the industry. Also respect that while the agent might offer suggestions for improvements, this is not an invitation to resubmit your work unless the agent says so in her response. Resources http://queryshark.blogspot.com/ http://bit.ly/2OuiFX2 http://wp.me/pHSwk-3e3
GIVEAWAYS Enter Here Dec. 1 – 15 to win a signed hardcover of Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen along with a DVD of “Author’s Anonymous” and a bag of microwave popcorn. Two Runners-up get either a signed paperback of Shear Murder or Hanging by a Hair. Enter Here Dec. 1 – 18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.
What should you be doing in the days following your new book release? Promotion doesn’t end when your book launch is over. You’ve tossed the ball into the court. Now you need to keep it rolling. Let’s say you have sent advance reading copies to reviewers and are participating in a blog tour or doing guest posts along the way. What else can you do? Here are some suggestions:
Start a file for Amazon reviews and copy down each review as it’s posted, along with the date and reviewer. Do the same for Goodreads. Repeat for bloggers and other review sites. If you start getting tons of reviews, skip this step and go to item two.
Check these names against your personal reviewer list and mark each one as done. Then you’ll know which reviewers followed through so you can approach them with your next release.
Send a thank you email to the reviewers on your personal list who have posted.
Send a reminder to the reviewers who have not yet posted.
You should have already written a page of tweets and posts for your new book. For each reviewer, note their Twitter and Facebook handles. Now pull relevant quotes from these reviews and add them to your Tweet page. Remember to tag the reviewer.
Also write a tweet or post for each stop on your blog tour. Tag your hosts and add a link to their site.
Set your Twitter posts to rotate automatically at a site like SocialJukebox.com or schedule them ahead of time at Hootsuite. Space out your Facebook posts between your own pages and your groups.
Add quotes from reviews to your website.
Check your Amazon book’s page. If you don’t see reviews posted by your reviewers, you can add them as quotes via Amazon Author Central.
If you are doing a blog tour, return daily to each site and respond to comments. Leave your own comment thanking the host for having you there.
Get the specific URL for each post about your book and update it on your Appearances page. Shorten the link for tweets.
If you’re running a contest, don’t forget to mention this to your followers.
Remember to promote your friends’ books and retweet their posts so it’s not all about you.
If you’re doing concurrent sales on your other books, you’ll need to advertise these as well.
Gauge the effectiveness of the newsletter you sent out the day of your book release. Update your mailing list by removing bounces and unsubscribes.
If you boosted your Facebook post, was it effective? How many engagements and clicks did you get?
Keep meticulous records so that when you have another release, you can contact the reviewers who posted about your book and drop the people who got an advance copy but never responded. Then you can seek new readers to fill in the gaps.
I’m sure you can think of many more activities you’re doing in the couple of weeks following your book release. It’s a busy time when the pace seems relentless, but it will ease off. You’ll have to keep the promotional ball rolling, but at least it’ll be more of a steady pace than a race. What would you add to this list?
Join me on my virtual book tour to celebrate the release of Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Please leave comments at each site to support my hosts. September 25 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW & EXCERPT
Enter Here Sept. 26 – Oct. 12 to win a Fall Festival Gift Basket! Contents include a signed print copy of Haunted Hair Nights and Hair Brained and other autumn-themed goodies! Physical prize for U.S. Resident only. Ebooks for international winner.
Friday morning was the Sisters in Crime breakfast at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. This is always a fun event where we learn what SinC is doing and how we can participate. Here I am with friends R.V. Reyes, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Harriet Ottenheimer, and Deborah Shlian, among others. Later, I attended a panel on Audiobooks, and it was interesting to hear the viewpoints of the panelists who were authors, narrators, and producers. I wished they’d discussed marketing for indie authors, but it wasn’t a topic brought up. Then there was lunch with Lisa Scottoline who gave an inspiring and witty talk. Seated at my table were Olive Pollak and Suzanne Baginskie. Friday night was the most fun of all. Florida Chapter of MWA held a party for all its members in the area, and we had a great time reconnecting with friends and meeting some new people. The chapter Board did a great job organizing this event. Too many members to mention here, but you can check out our chapter at https://mwaflorida.org/ See all my photos HERE. Coming next: Bouchercon Day 3 Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card at Booklover’s Bench.
I started off at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention speaking on “The Business is Cozy” panel on Thursday morning. Fellow panelists were Cheryl Hollon, R.V. Reyes, and Jane Cleland with Emily Giglierano moderating. We had good attendance and numerous questions during the Q&A session. Earlier I had attended a panel on writing suspense. Don Bruns moderated. Here is a rundown of points learned: · The best suspense comes from character rather than action · The “What’s Next?” question creates suspense. As writers, how do we delay this answer while drawing readers in? · You have to include suspense in the first paragraph of your story. Raise questions for the reader right away. · You draw readers in with your first question. You bring readers back with your last question. · Don’t follow other people’s rules. What works best for them might not apply to you. After lunch, I sat in on “Make ‘Em Laugh – Writing Humor.” The panelists discussed how murder isn’t funny, but characters can be. It’s their quirks and the situations they find themselves in that provide mirth. Of course, schmoozing is the real work at a conference. You go to see and be seen and to make new friends. In these photos, excluding me, from left to right: Cheryl Hollon, Victoria Landis, Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenutto, Marlene Stringer, and Marty Ambrose. See all my photos HERE. Coming Next: Day 2 at Bouchercon Sept. 1 – 18 Booklovers Bench Monthly Giveaway
Do you get so caught up in reading blogs, webinars, and posts and/or listening to podcasts, that you get nothing else done? I have been catching up on reading newsletters from my professional writing organizations, trade journals to which I subscribe, plus blogs on marketing and other business aspects of writing. If only I could clear my Inbox, I tell myself, I’d turn my focus to the nine backlist titles that I still have to reissue. And yet the more of these articles that I read, the more that keep popping up in my email. Moreover, reading this advice makes me feel terribly guilty. Why am I not able to do all these things? The articles offer wonderful marketing strategies and tips, and yet I’d need to be either thirty years younger to have the energy or three clones to manage it all. Meanwhile, I am accomplishing nothing else. Is it because I’ve lost my mojo? Or is it that I can’t move on to new material until I get these backlist titles done? Then again, maybe it’s burnout and time for a break. It used to be that I put my writing goals first in the morning before glancing at email or social media. What happened to this self-discipline? So I’ve decided to skim these articles, file the information for later, and do only what I can for now. It’s more important to move on to the next project. This means I need to practice BICHOK more often – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. Get off the couch, and go to work. This goes for you, too, my fellow writers. Let’s pay less attention to the “should” demons (i.e. the things you should be doing) and more time to the work we can control. Your success is only as good as the next book. It’s not dependent on how many social media posts with cute memes you’ve posted. GIVEAWAY Enter Here Aug 9 – 23 to win a signed advance reading copy of TRIMMED TO DEATH, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.