Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Update Time

It has been a long time since my last update on the status of my various projects, books, publications, and appearances. So sit back and enjoy—lots to talk about.

I have three books in production right now. Diamonds for Death is set to publish in December as both an e-book and a CreateSpace trade paperback. It will be published exclusively by Amazon through their KDP system for at least the first three months and then longer if sales are good (fingers crossed). Here is the blurb on the book:

Sharon O’Mara’s newest client doesn’t need her help for what he’s done, but rather for what he left behind. When baseball great, Toro Rodriquez, defected he had to leave his wife and child in Cuba. Now a ruthless government agent whose allegiance isn’t to Castro, but only to herself, holds them prisoner.

Since O’Mara’s friend, Kevin Bryan, is off on a security gig in London to prevent the theft of diamonds worth a quarter of billion euros, she turns to old friends and comrade-in-arms to help rescue Toto’s family. Her team’s failure may mean vanishing into a Cuban prison or . . . worse.

O’Mara and Bryan have no idea their client’s paths will not only merge but crash bloodily into each other on the night of baseball’s All-Star Game in San Francisco.

It is a great story in the O’Mara tradition. I’ll let you know when pre-orders are available. If you sign up for my newsletter you will be some of the first to know—see upper right column.

We are also looking for a mid-winter release of the first Detective Tony Alfano thriller, Chicago Swing. It too will be an e-book and CreateSpace trade paperback. Editing is done, InDesign production underway, and e-book is ready to send, and it may be under a pen name, Rex Baird. Here’s the blurb:

Chicago- 1933 For Chicago police detective Tony Alfano’s it was like most mornings - five bombings of businesses throughout the Loop, 200 pounds of missing dynamite, and one dead man in an alley off Washington Street. In the dark speakeasys and nightclubs of Chicago’s underworld, Alfano treads the sharp edge of sanity and delusion, praying that it’s mob vengeance and not just Chicago politics.

For the long awaited World War II spy novel This Face of Evil, you will just have to wait a little longer. Still in editing and final read, much to do. Be patient—you will not be disappointed.
For both forthcoming books there will be contests and prizes, I will let you know as we get closer to final publication dates.

Boucheron, Long Beach, California
In November, I’ll be attending my first Boucheron in Long Beach, Ca. This is like the gathering of the clans (including camp followers and agents), where for three days nothing but murder, suspense, weapons, poisons, and of course, characters of all kinds (writers and their own fictitious characters) are discussed and argued. I have garnered one of the coveted author spots to discuss my books, writing, and whatever else people want to know. There will be door prizes and giftees. I’m on Friday afternoon, at 5:00, November 14, again more on this in later posts.

Works in Progress:
Three manuscripts are in early stages of development. A new Sharon O’Mara that may take her to Istanbul and other exotic locations in Eastern Europe. The next Tony Alfano thriller is jelling—think of our detective meets the scourge of Europe in his own backyard. And the long awaited follow up to the Cherryland Trilogy, Cherry Summer. It’s ten years after Elk River and the Smith’s are caught in 1966 with the Vietnam War, the SDS, race riots, and trying desperately to save one of their own.

Never a dull moment under the key board and finger tips of yours truly, all the books are available through Amazon, just click on the book cover. And thanks.

More Later . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Self-Publishing Avenues


There is a distinct freedom to be being a self-published author—and there are responsibilities as well. You have the freedom to write what you want, pick the cover you like, and puff up with pride over the work that you have done. But you also have the responsibility to your craft and art form to present the best work possible. That means quality editing, formatting, cover design, and outreach to your readers. Never treat the reader with a lack of respect. Remember that you have asked them to take hours of their precious time and spend it with you and your story. That being said, at this moment we self-published Indie writers have a plethora of choices on how to bring our stories to potential readers.

Currently there are two major avenues open to the self-publisher, Smashwords and Amazon’s KDP. It is through these gateways, for most writers, that the greatest number of potential readers will be reached. Here is a brief rundown on what they offer. Keep in mind though that they continually change and morph—and that’s a good thing for us. There are others trying to muscle in but for now these are the two most important.

Smashwords, and their sadly/aptly named “Meat Grinder,” takes your Word doc and converts it into a number of formats used in the e-book industry. For free. You can host your books and even an author site on their site as well as buy e-books directly from them. Mark Coker, the founder and brains behind the operation, has single handedly changed how e-books are processed and delivered. This site also distributes directly to Barnes & Noble, iBooks (iTunes), Kobo, and a few other retail sites (you can also directly submit to these sites as well, but why bother if Smashwords will do it all). Percentages and royalties vary; they are spelled out on the site. There is an excellent PDF manual on how to submit. Study it; your life will be easier. There is much to improve though, but it is a great resource.

The gorilla and elephant in the room is Amazon. They control well over half of the ebook downloads and, it’s my guess, a lot more than that. While there are some out there who won’t deal with the evil empire, I know for a fact they go to Amazon’s  amazing and intuitive search engine, find what they want, then go to iBook, B&N or Kobo to buy the e-book—sad but true. There was a time that the size of the book’s file made a big difference (lots of images) using Smashwords; Amazon’s site didn’t have that problem. I hope that has changed. Amazon’s Author Central page, and resources for self-published authors on following your sales, is far better than anyone else’s. And like Smashwords, for free. You can adjust the book’s categories (a future blog in and of itself), price, cover art, and even updates in the manuscript everyday if you want. And they pay on timely basis. There are numerous permutations on sale price and royalties, lending, exclusive access, and connections to paper books through their Createspace print-on-demand (POD) operation. All very clean and incredibly helpful to authors and publishers. And there are dozens of books out there that help guide the author on how to best use their services.

I have been told at conferences to get your e-book out there to as many venues and sites as you can. This is all well and good, but your time is valuable. If you have to manage six or even four places where your book is placed the time sink is amazing—time better spent writing. Every time you change the cover or the update the manuscript means five or six changes.

With three new books coming out in the next six months, I am reevaluating the “all formats is best” option. Right now I’m leaning toward Amazon and structuring all my efforts around their ability to reach more customers, and make my books more visible to greater and greater numbers of readers. And remember that paper books bring in a whole new world of self-publishing options and opportunities. I will continue to keep you up to date on how it’s all working.

More later . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Killer Author Endorsement

I had a dream the other night that I asked a famous writer for an endorsement. He said he’d be thrilled, “But ask me when you are awake.”
“Great, will you do it then?”
“Probably not.”
Which brought a whole new meaning to the term, In Your Dreams.

After your book is done and into production one of the best ways to give it a bit of a punch is to have an endorsement (comment, blurb, or fawning remark) by a famous/successful writer to place on your cover and in advertising/marketing material. In the trade it’s called the Killer Author Endorsement (KAE).

Every writer and publisher is looking for the KAE. Writing a legal thriller? “Get John Grisham on the line.” That new romance novel,? “What’s Danielle Steel doing today?” That post apocalyptic dystopian manifesto: “Call Suzanne Collins . . . What, she’s not in? . . . Call her bank, she’s got to be there.”

Every writer wants that one line of endorsement copy; it can seriously help the book move up the food chain. Here are some ideas on how to get a quote.

At the next writer’s conference find your target and follow them all day, take photos, write down everything they do, stand next them in the bathroom (or whisper their name in the next stall). Eventually they or the police will ask what you are doing. Tell them honestly that all you need is one short comment about your new book and you will gladly leave them alone. Every thriller author will understand your meaning and will do anything to get you gone.

Kidnap them – it work for Stephen King in Misery. Hold off on the leg breaking until its absolutely necessary.

Send them the complete Jessica Fletcher Murder She Wrote collection of DVDs. The note should read: I need that line, if not I will have Amazon send you Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Diagnosis: Murder; Matlock; and the complete Quincy series. I think by the time Diagnosis arrives you will get that KAE.

Anonymously invite the author to a speed-dating event. When you get your turn, tell them you are an old classmate and that you know what happened that night with Bob, the football coach. You have pictures, but for one short sentence you will send the negatives to them (works for only photos shot before about 2004).

Send them flowers everyday for a week, with notes that say you will love them forever if they just write that KAE for you new novel. Note any allergies or flower preferences from their Facebook page.

Science Fiction/Dystopian
This one is easy. Go back in time to when the target was five or six, place a small tattoo somewhere where only you know where it is. Now contact them and tell them that you know their secret and will blab to the world about that small rude mark they have been keeping from the world. Only a KAE will save them from total embarrassment.

Tell them that you have created a world where they are the absolute ruler of a whole planetary system. You will put their name on the cover if they will kindly write that fawning remark. Something like: Hugh Howey’s Fractured Planet. They might even give you the line to have you not name the book after them.

Or you can write their publisher, agent, or even the author themselves and ask real nice.

More Later . . . . . . . . .