Friday morning at SleuthFest mystery writers’ conference offered a choice of three workshops. I attended the talk on “Why Marketing Can Sometimes Yield Little to No Results” given by Maryglenn McCombs. See my workshop recap below. After this talk, I gave my own presentation on “Audiobooks with Amazon’s ACX.”
Lunch came next with guest forensic specialist Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D, who spoke to us about serial killers. It was a chilling topic to hear during a meal.
Friday afternoon, we had to choose from four workshop tracks. I went to the talk by Patrick Kendrick, thriller author and Fire Rescue Training Consultant. He spoke on USAR or Urban Search and Rescue as part of the nation’s disaster preparedness. The goal is to train the armed forces in fire-fighting and rescue techniques.
Topics covered include technical rescue skills, site surveys and recon, mass decontamination procedures, personal protective equipment, atmospheric monitoring, and incident command organization. What do we expect in terms of domestic terrorism? CBRNE stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive. Patrick defined each one and made us glad we have people working to keep us safe.
The formal dinner this evening included the Freddie Awards Banquet. The winner in the Mystery category was Laura Brennan for The End of All Things. The winner in the Thriller category was Howard T. Konig for The Serial Killer’s Brother. Our infamous author auction followed until the evening’s conclusion.
You can view more photos on my Facebook page. Look for the SleuthFest 2018 album.
SleuthFest 2018 began on March 1, 2018 with “Third Degree” Thursday and a full day of writing workshops at this premier mystery writers’ conference held in Boca Raton, Florida. I arrived in time to give my presentation on “Developing a Mystery Series.” It was well attended and attendees asked a lot of good questions. That afternoon, I did my stint at the registration desk while greeting old friends and making new ones. In the middle photo is Steve Brown and Jeffrey Philips. Then to the right is Marty Ambrose with me and Michael L. Joy.
Panelists from earlier that day had a booksigning in front of the on-site bookstore run by Murder on the Beach. We had the chance to buy raffle tickets from the boa ladies. Here I am with James R. Benn and Hallie Ephron.
After a welcome speech by conference co-chairs Michael L. Joy and Victoria Landis, we heard guest publisher Neil Nyren from G.P. Putnam’s Sons give his presentation on “Myths and Truths, Part IV.”
Thursday evening provided an occasion to eat dinner in the lobby for those of us not attending the SleuthFest 101 banquet dinner. A mystery trivia game followed. On the left are Ann Meier, Vincent H. O’Neill, and Susan Brandt. To the right with me are Kell Levendorf and Dr. Chris Jackson.
You can view more photos on my Facebook page. Look for the SleuthFest 2018 album.
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SleuthFest 2018 was a great conference for mystery writers and fans. One of the first workshops I attended was given by book publicist Maryglenn McCombs. These are the points I took away from this workshop on marketing. Any mistakes are due to my misinterpretation.
Reasons why readers buy books:
Placement (i.e. in library or on bookstore display or in airport store)
Interest in Topic or Setting
Need for Entertainment
Hand Sales by a Bookseller
Media such as blogs, radio, interviews, etc.
Public Relations is only one component in selling books. A publicist’s job is to create awareness of your book. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll get media coverage.
Why your book might not be selling:
You’re not meeting the above requirements
Not wide enough cast of promotional efforts
Trying to do too much at once
No advance planning
Product isn’t professional
Cover isn’t appealing
Too much “buy my book” social media
You’re offensive on social media (i.e. talking politics or using bad language) Book is overpriced
Not targeting your audience
You get a great review and don’t share or promote it. But make sure you have permission first.
Your book doesn’t have any endorsements.
You aren’t doing signings and appearances. Look for non-traditional outlets.
Writing/editing needs improvement
Bad cover copy
What does not work:
Radio tours, with a few exceptions like Authors on the Air
Lengthy book tours
Purchased editorial ads
“Buy my book” social media tactics
Gimmicks such as dressing in costume for an appearance
These may work or not:
Soliciting Amazon reviewers
Major media coverage
Steady media coverage over time
Personal contact with booksellers
Finding your superfans
Winning awards Big author endorsements
Making the “Best of” lists
Getting into Gift Guides
Writing a Great Book Having a Professional Product
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I’m excited to announce the reissue of Silver Serenade. This science fiction romance was originally published by The Wild Rose Press. My newly revised edition has been updated with added bonus materials.
A beautiful assassin and a desperate fugitive join forces to catch a terrorist and prevent a war between worlds.
Starship pilot Jace Vernon is forced to flee his home world after being framed for murder. He seeks justice, but a lovely S.I.N. agent gets in his way. Not only does she distract him with her silvery hair and violet eyes, but she counters his every move in the quest to clear his name. As he attempts to sway her to his cause, he doesn’t count on the personal consequences of success.
Rookie assassin Silver Malloy refuses to abort her deadly mission even if it means killing the one man Jace needs alive to prove his innocence. The leader of Tyrone’s Marauders murdered her family and ended her career. She’s dedicated her life to getting revenge, and now she finally has the chance. She won’t let a wanted criminal get in her path. But as Jace’s charms melt the barriers around her heart, she finds her resolve wavering. Can she help him win his case, even if it means failing her assignment and betraying her people?
Best Book 2010 in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews
The door buzzer sounded, indicating imminent departure. She swallowed, preparing for the gut-wrenching angle of ascent. At the last minute, the man in the black robe jumped from his seat and squeezed out the doors. He’d been so silent, she’d forgotten about him.
She slid over on the bench seat for more space. As the tram tilted into the air and zoomed toward the rooftops, something fell to the floor.
“Oh no, that guy forgot his package.” Silver moved to retrieve it, but she halted at Jace’s sudden intake of breath. She knew at once what he was thinking even before she felt the impact of his fear.
“Stop this thing,” she shouted. The sky tilted outside the windows as they careened to a new heading.
She credited Frok for quick thinking. He leapt up and yanked an overhead pulley. The sudden stop made them crash into each other.
“Quick, open the doors,” Jace urged.
With Frok’s assistance, he forced them wide enough to squeeze through while the tram hovered above a tall building.
“What’s wrong?” Kira asked, glancing at Silver for guidance.
“Bomb.” She couldn’t get another word past her dry throat. Nor could she explain to their newfound friends how she and Jace knew without a doubt they’d been set up. That Elusian had been waiting for them outside the Institute.
Jace stood aside to let the others pass. “We have to jump. Aim for that roof. We should be able to make it. Hurry.”
Silver tapped her utility belt. “I have a tensile line. Let me—” Her words died on her tongue as Jace snatched her and tossed her out the open door.
“Get ready for an epic adventure, as vast as the universe in which it is set! With a touching love story, a great blend of humor, action and passion, and a great cast of characters, this is a book that won’t let you go until the very last page.” The Romance Reviews
“Silver Serenade is an exciting, action-packed space adventure with more attention-grabbing twists and turns than a West Virginia highway. I loved it.” Two Lips Reviews
Silver Serenade by Nancy J. Cohen Published by Orange Grove Press
Glam Up for the New Year! January 9 – 29 Glam up for the new year with a crystal pendant from Effy. To celebrate the reissue of Silver Serenade, I have FIVE to give away. ENTER NOW. Color of stone may differ from what is shown in this picture. U.S. Residents only due to postal constraints.
Booklovers Bench, January 1 – 18 Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.
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Do you set New Year’s Resolutions for your writing career? I divide mine into creative and business goals and also decide what I need to learn next. At the end of the year, I review my accomplishments and see what has to be carried over to the next term. Here are my objectives for 2018. Any additions or suggestions? What are your goals for the new year?
Reissue revised ebook edition of Silver Serenade Publish revised Author’s Edition of Died Blonde Publish Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition Produce Body Wave Audiobook
Finish and Launch Trimmed to Death, #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries
If there’s time left, start on these projects:
Plot Bad Hair Day mystery novella
Revise Keeper of the Rings Revise Dead Roots Continue backlist title reissues and audiobooks
Prepare PowerPoint lectures and handouts for upcoming events
Enter Hair Brained in writing contests
Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media
Learn how to do Facebook Ads
Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors
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I want to offer a big Thank You to my blog followers for sticking with me through the years. You have my special gratitude if you’ve left comments, liked a post, tweeted one or shared it on Facebook. I’m especially touched when you come up to me at a conference and mention that you appreciate my blog. I send these messages out into cyberspace without knowing if anyone reads them. So it’s most gratifying to get any kind of feedback.
As a gift to you in return, I’d like to offer you the chance to win a $15 Fandango gift card, so you can see one of the latest movies. All you have to do is comment below and your name will be entered. The drawing will take place in two days.
In your comment, let me know, if you wish, what you like about this blog, what you dislike, or what kinds of articles you’d like to see more of in the future.
Meanwhile, have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!
As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to review the goals you’d set for this year. How many did you accomplish? Which ones will wait until next year? What unexpected accomplishments did you have?
Here are the creative and business goals for my writing career that I set last January. I hold myself accountable to you. Let’s see where we stand before setting resolutions for 2018.
Finish and Launch Hair Brained (DONE)
Write Trimmed to Death (FIRST DRAFT DONE)
Publish Audiobook editions for Murder by Manicure and Body Wave (ONE DONE)
Publish Author’s Edition of Highlights to Heaven (DONE)
Reissue trade paperback editions of Died Blonde and Dead Roots (NOT DONE)
Expand Writing the Cozy Mystery for a second edition (ONGOING)
Implement Launch Campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal (DONE)
Keep up with newsletter, blogs and social media (DONE)
Set autoresponder for newsletter signups (DONE)
Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors (NOT DONE)
Learn how to use BookFunnel (DONE)
Learn how to publish a book with IngramSpark (DONE)
Put together a free Book Sampler for newsletter subscribers (DONE)
This was my first time attending the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony. I won a gold medal in the Southern category for Facials Can Be Fatal. I’d submitted this title in their contest a while ago and forgotten about it until I received an email one day telling me I had won. This was indeed a pleasant surprise! Most writing contests let you know when you’re a finalist, but the winners aren’t announced until the actual event takes place. This usually happens at a conference away from home. I really liked that I knew I’d won ahead of time.
Because the Readers’ Favorite Awards Ceremony was being held nearby, I signed up to attend along with my husband. We checked into the Regency Hotel Miami on Friday afternoon. The hotel is conveniently located near the airport for winners flying in for the ceremony. People came from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia. Since the event didn’t include a full meal, we ordered a snack in the lobby bar/restaurant.
Dress for the event was billed as formal or semi-formal. Ladies wore cocktail dresses or gowns and men for the most part wore jackets and ties. The doors at the hotel’s nightclub opened at 6:00 pm. The evening before on Friday, there had been a Meet and Greet in the lobby, but we hadn’t attended. So I picked up my name badge Saturday night along with a pin and a complimentary pen. Then we took our seats. A cash bar was available in the rear.
I was impressed by the production that made this event special for the award winners. Chairs were draped in white like at a wedding and arranged auditorium style. The stage was flanked by two huge floral bouquets and a back screen projection of the award logo. We could take photos before and after on the stage or over by the official photography station.
The event was filmed, while the photographer took pictures of each candidate standing beside the host. The awards were not called by category, like at other ceremonies. Instead, beginning at 7pm, people sitting in a certain section of the room were directed to line up. One-by-one, we climbed the steps to the dais and handed the emcee a card from our name badge. He read from this card, which included our name, book title, award level and category. Then we proceeded to the center stage to receive our medallion, shake the host’s hand, and pose for the photographer. When one group finished, the emcee called another section to come forward.
This method proved to be efficient as we were done in an hour. A buffet of finger foods followed while contestants mingled. We ate triangles of grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, turkey slices, chicken empanadas, cookies, or pastry. Free soda and coffee were available.
I truly did feel special. My book had been picked by anonymous judges for this honor. There might have been hundreds of submissions. I liked that my story had been evaluated for its merits and wasn’t a popularity contest with votes like some other writing awards. This made it more meaningful, and so did the sponsors for giving winners an evening to showcase their talents.
Besides giving my own talk on “Book Promotion on a Budget” at the Florida Writers Association 2017 conference, I sat in on a couple of other presentations about book marketing. Here are some of the main points I gleaned. Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.
If your book isn’t selling, you may need to:
Change the cover
Get more reviews Write a letter to readers asking for reviews.
Continue to acquire reviews for backlist titles.
Aim for 100 reviews on Amazon to make an impact.
Evaluate your Amazon page Check your keywords and categories.
Keyword strings work better than single keywords.
Note the sales rank of each category.
Examine your social media influence
Do you need to increase your engagement? This matters more than the number of followers.
Put your book out in multiple formats, not ebooks alone. Consider print and audiobooks.
Is your book in the right genre?
How relevant is your backlist title? Does it need an update and a fresh cover?
Are you marketing your book to the right audience?
Practice ebook price rotation. Ideal ebook pricing is $2.99 to $5.99. Shuffle your books in and out of sales promotions.
Plan a promotional campaign that includes Publicity, Online Promotion, Events, and Multimedia.
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Fall season is in full swing, and so here’s an update on what’s going on. I’ve been busy writing, and that is taking precedence over blogs at this time. I’m up to page 265 in Trimmed to Death and still have more to go, but the finish line is in sight. This title will be #15 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries. It’s my first draft, which I’ll be ecstatic to finish, but you know that doesn’t mean the work is done. Lots of revisions are ahead, but I want to work on some more backlist titles and another audiobook as well. Conferences and speaking engagements are coming up, not to mention the holidays. Online Friday, Oct. 6, See what hairstylist sleuth Marla Vail has to say about her latest adventures in “A Day in the Life” at Dru’s Book Musings. Leave a comment by Oct. 8 for a chance to win an ebook copy of Haunted Hair Nights. Friday, Oct. 13, Guest post on “Going Indie” at Author Expressions In-Person Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2:00 pm, “The Indie Experience” with Angela Page, Ruth Berge, Elaine Bossik, Joan Cochran, and Nancy J. Cohen as moderator at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Phone: 561-279-7790. Monday, Oct. 9 at 9:30 am, Guest Speaker Nancy J. Cohen, Friends of the Library, Helen B. Hoffman Plantation Library,501 North Fig Tree Lane, Plantation, FL 33317. Phone: 954-797-2140. Oct. 19 – 22, Workshop Presenter at Florida Writers Association Conference, Altamonte Springs, Hilton Orlando Altamonte Spring, 350 Northlake Blvd., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701. Phone: 407-830-1985. https://floridawriters.net/conferences/florida-writers-conference-2017/ Giveaway Enter Oct. 1 -18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench Newsletter Sign up nowfor my latest book news, giveaways, exclusive bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.