Sunday, February 28, 2010
Inspired by the sheer determination of the participants I hurl myself into my go-for-gold challenge of writing my third novel. Plowing through the calendar towards completion by June thirtieth, I must admit I have fallen very short of words as February rolls into March.
Sleep deprived I nodded off at the keyboard once too many times this month and “lost” days of writing to cyberspace. I started backward, rereading, editing and researching again. I stumbled across a book written in the mid-nineties that has no similarity to mine except for the title. Changes. February was all about changes.
New title still a mystery I am, nevertheless, moving at a faster pace perhaps the bobsled competition has had its effect on me. I know that I am not alone on this writer’s slide to the finish line, sitting behind me are my characters, their voices loud inside my head, and they will guide me to “The End”.
My writer’s thought: Fictional characters have their own voices; sometimes they ride in your car, go food shopping and sit on your desk. Word of advice-keep them out of your bed…they snore.
Have the best day everyday.
Blog what you think, hear, and feel.
Any writer who’s ever subscribed to Writer’s Digest or read a how-two book on writing knows that our profession, like most professions, is inundated with rules. But unlike other professions, breaking writing rules usually won’t result in a court appearance or the loss of life, which might be why so many of us happily break them. Or maybe it’s because some of the rules don’t really make sense to the type of piece we’re working on. Or maybe it’s simply that rules are made to be broken. Here’s just a small number of them from different authors. Which of them works for you?
From Elmore Leonard:
. never open a book with the weather
. avoid prologues, they’re annoying
. try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip
. avoid detailed descriptions of people, places, or things
From Roddy Doyle:
. do not place a photo of your favourite author on your desk, especially if he’s committed suicide
. write as fast as you can until page 50, then calm down and start worrying about the quality
. do not search amazon.co.uk for the book you haven’t written yet
From Helen Dunmore:
. finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue
. a problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself when you go for a long walk
I can vouch for that one. It really does work. There are many more, fun, quirky, and useful tips in a Guardian article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one Have a look and enjoy!
Friday, February 26, 2010
What if, as you sat down at your desk to plot out your latest novel, skating champion and analyst Scott Hamilton gave a running commentary about your talents and foibles?
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
This dispute exemplifies the dilemma of how much to charge for an ebook. The heart of the matter for all publishers and authors producing electronic books is how high, or low, should an ebook be priced? And is there such a thing as too low? For some book buyers, the answer is yes.
I know a number of independently published, unknown authors who are struggling to compete for readers’ attention. Their view is that it’s better to get one’s book into the hands of potential readers than to collect royalties by selling books at a higher price. So, these authors price their books at 99 cents. Some have even gone as low as a penny for short periods, and yes, these low prices do result in many more sales. It seems that a significant percentage of ebooks, even from well known authors, are selling for five or six dollars.
A good idea, you say? Well, maybe and maybe not. MacMillan has a point about devaluing a book. I’ve been monitoring a couple of Kindle reader forums and while many people won’t pay above $4.00 for an ebook, other readers openly wonder about the quality of a newly released title from an unknown writer that sells for less than a dollar.
Now, here’s my dilemma. I have an ebook publisher who set the price for both Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption at $6.99, which is substantially lower than the $19.95 print version for Fatal Encryption. However, when she listed the books on Amazon, they immediately reduced the price to $5.59. Fine, okay. But within a week of Kindles being available in Canada the price of my books jumped to $7.59. It seems that Amazon is arbitrarily changing the price of the books, which must drive my publisher a little batty.
To be honest, despite some great reviews recently, I haven’t generated a lot of sales probably because of the book’s price, so my publisher and I are rethinking things, and let me tell you, this does take some thought. Personally, I’ve worked too hard and too long to let my books go for under a buck until they become my backlist at some point in the future.
What I’ve learned, though, is that before you, or your publisher, set a price, you’d both be wise to take a good look at the market and listen to what readers are saying. And then do what you believe is right.
Fatal Encryption is available on Kindle at http://tinyurl.com/lchxrd
Taxed to Death’s Kindle version can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ld4pcf.
Friday, February 19, 2010
My writer’s challenge is past the half way point of February’s goal. The numbers are thin; I am cursed by the compulsion to edit repeatedly. My last lengthy effort restructured the entire length of chapters, shorter, much shorter. I promise myself that I cannot be hung up in the count, except for the other night when all I could get through were two measly paragraphs. Reword-rehash-rewrite, and woe to my obsession or should I say, whoa?
My inspirational writer’s thought: Oh Gawd…I am writing on napkins again.
Have the best day everyday.
Random House Canada announced that they've signed a book deal with Timothy Appleby, a reporter for the Globe and Mail, just days after charges were laid. The book will detail the court case and presumably the accused will be interviewed, as in most true crime books. Will it give readers insights into the mind of a killer? Or sensationalize what is a terrible and horrifying tragedy for the victims and their families?
The book will be titled: Betrayal in Uniform: The Secret Life of Colonel Russell Williams
On a personal note:
I was recently contacted by the survivor of 2 murder victims, someone I've come to care for as a friend and admire for her strength. She asked me if I'd consider writing a book based on the trial, conviction and horror that was done to her loved ones. As her friend, it was very hard to say no. As someone wanting to see justice, that decision was even more difficult. As an author, I'll admit that too made it difficult. It's a horrific but compelling story.
Why did I decide not to write a book about a murderer and his victims? I don't believe I'm the kind of writer who could report only the facts, although I once was a reporter for a small BC newspaper. Facts don't appeal to me as much as emotion. And I cannot imagine being the one to rip the proverbial bandage off my friend's heart and expose her to more torture.
Did I make the right decision? I honestly don't know.
I don't judge any writer for jumping on an opportunity, but being that the Colonel Williams case is so fresh, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this book deal. I only hope that the truth comes out in court and that the victims' families find a sense of justice and peace afterwards. But I know from personal experience that being a survivor of a murder victim can be a grueling journey.
Colonel Russell Williams will be joining Steve and Lorelei Turner, formerly stationed at Canadian Forces Base in Chatham, NB. The Turners were convicted of torturing, starving and murdering their three-year-old son John. They were both sentenced to 16 years but have been paroled--early. According to the Canadian Press, "The boy had not eaten for weeks and may have refused food. In the final days of his life at Canadian Forces Base Chatham, N.B., John was restrained by a harness and gagged with a sock to muffle his cries. He died on May 29, 1994."
I had the misfortune of knowing Lorelei and Steve Turner. My husband and I were stationed at the same base. My baby and baby John played on a blanket in their living room. I can't even begin to tell you how it makes me feel to know I was in the home of brutal murderers. I wish I'd known and stopped them.
Links of interest:
Book deal signed for story of Colonel Russ Williams
Random House Canada signs Globe and Mail crime reporter Timothy Appleby to write a book on Colonel Russell Williams
Colonel Russ Williams's biography
Profile: Colonel Russ Williams charged with murders of Jessica Lloyd, Marie Comeau
"Ontario woman convicted of son's starvation death granted full parole"
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling suspense author
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The thing is, I found that I enjoy the challenge of writing for themed anthologies. The writing critique group to which I subject myself, Southern Indiana Writers, has been publishing a themed anthology every year for about fifteen years. Granted, our themes are pretty elastic, so the one called WAY OUT WEST included stories from Western Australia and the West End of a midwestern city as well as an actual Western. But the exercise got me started on the notion of writing for a market.
Then I submitted to an anthology associated with a magazine which had bought two of my "write it THEN market it" stories. I felt confident that they would love another story from me. They didn't accept that one.
WHY NOT? So I did what everybody tells one to do: I bought a copy of the anthology and read the stories and tried to figure out what they accepted stories had that mine didn't have. (I sold the story someplace else, by the way, so ha!) The next year, when the reading period approached for that anthology, I had a story in my head wanting to come out and--guess what?--the story that WANTED to come out conformed to the ideals of the market, and I did sell that story to them.
Now, this post isn't about me selling stories. This post is about writing to the market. This post is about just having a market in mind when your story starts coalescing. If the story that comes out won't work for that market, look for another market, but there's no shame in bearing guidelines in mind and seeing if some truth and beauty can collect around it.
These days, "I could never write to a market" sounds like saying, "I could never buy my child clothes that fit her." Your child is the heart of your story. Everything else is clothing. The marketplace is the event the child is attending. Sometimes you can find clothing that fits AND is appropriate for a particular event and sometimes you have to clothe the child and then find someplace to take her. Hmmm....then we get into payment for your child, and I'm just not going there.... I hereby declare this metaphor at an end.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Description of Dead Witness: Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well-intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
While I’ve been watching the stories unfold, it occurred to me that these next two weeks will offer some pretty unique opportunities for writers. The most obvious example is the articles that local and visiting writers will create for magazines, journals, newspapers, and blogs. But what about fiction writers? Wouldn’t it be great to set a story during the Olympics? A novel even? Clearly, these next few days can and will put writers to work. And here’s something else: isn’t it possible that tourists might venture into bookstores and search for books by local writers or with local scenes? And what about writers who meets visitors in the restaurants, the bars, and in those long lineups for events and strike up conversations about writing, and happen to sell a book or two?
Opportunities are everywhere and creative souls should make the most of this unique event. So, excuse me while I cut this blog short to pull out my notepad and jot down some ideas....
Fatal Encryption can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
Taxed to Death can be found at http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n
Friday, February 12, 2010
I am writing here, been up since before 5 a.m., laptop perched on my knees and dog curled at my feet. The thief in me steals cyber space from two unsuspecting guys named William and Andrew. Thanks boys.
My writing deadline followed me to Boston, but does not sleep, has no internal alarm clock, just simply does not snooze. Nope, it paces, my deadline, paces the room, this room, every room, any room that I happen to be in with its foot tapping.
“I know,” I say, “I know…just chill.”
My inspirational thought for today: Distractions come quicker than words.
Have the best day everyday.
Book Marketing Coach & Suspense Author
Monday, February 08, 2010
The results of this past weekend reflect writing without boundaries. There are notes and sentences in the margins, and arrows denoting add and delete, along with pages of my story is simply the story, the meat, and the content; more paragraphs expanded and lists made. Longhand is a good exercise in creativity; it keeps the writer in me honest.
My inspirational thought of the day: Take all that I have, but not my pen or paper.
Blog what you think, hear and feel.
Have the best day every day…Linda
Sunday, February 07, 2010
. 560,626 new books were published in the U.S. in 2008 alone
. bookstore sales peaked in 2005, but have been falling since then.
. the average U.S. book sells less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 over its lifetime
. a book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in an average bookstore
. it’s getting harder and harder every year to sell books
. most books today sell only to the authors’ and publishers’ communities
. most book marketing is done by authors, not publishers
. no other industry has so many new product introductions
. the digital revolution is not increasing book sales
. the book publishing world is in a never-ending state of turmoil
To read further details on each point, go to http://www.bkpextranet.com/AuthorMaterials/10AwfulTruths.htm
Fatal Encryption can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
Taxed to Death can be found at http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n
Saturday, February 06, 2010
How difficult can it be getting your book reviewed by a book reviewer, an organization, library, journal or company? For one thing, it involves organization, a plan (both pre-publication and after publication), homework, Internet and library research, and putting together a kit which includes: a cover letter, power testimonials, book excerpts, a marketing plan, and ARC's or book copies. Does it involve more than that? It depends. There are many facets to the book review tradition that most authors overlook. To help make it a bit easier on everyone concerned, I'm going to present one item at a time. Today, I'm going to show you how to prepare a Book Review Kit.
1. Homework and Research
Do your homework first. Set aside time to go onto the Internet and find out which reviewers, journals, libraries, and companies require that you mail in your manuscript BEFORE the book goes into print. Then, find the reviewers, journals, libraries and companies requiring that you mail in the book AFTER it's published.
Read their directions. For example, the list below is for self-publishing authors only.
American Library Association
50 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Horn Book Magazine
56 Roland Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA 02129
VNU US Literary Group
New York, NY 10003
360 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10011
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
501 East Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575
Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small publishers, self-
published authors, academic presses, and specialty publishers. To submit a book for
review we require the following:
Two finished copies of the book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs).
A cover letter.
A publicity release or media kit.
There is an approximate 14 to 16-week "window of opportunity" for a book to be assigned out for review.
If/when a book makes the cut and is featured, we will automatically send a tear sheet to the publisher for their records. When a book has been submitted on a publisher's behalf by an independent publicist, we will also try to furnish the publicist with a tear sheet for their files as well. It is the publisher's responsibility to inform authors and editors of the review.
You've done your homework and selected the reviewers you want to submit your ARC (Advance Review Copy) or finished book (Published). What's the author's next step?
The author prints out a copy of their manuscript on either 3-hole punch paper or do it manually. At Staples or Office Max, buy a package of Heavy Duty Report Covers. These covers come with a front and back side, metal fasteners and holds up to a three inch capacity of paper. Follow the directions on the package and bound your manuscript. Make sure that the box indent shows on the front cover. In that spot, you can place your author's information, Title of book and your name. Make sure it's done neatly with no glue, scotch tape or pencil smudges on it. This ARC represents you and your book. It's the first thing that a respective reviewer will see. Make it count.
3. Cover Letters:
Never send out an ARC without a proper cover letter. What is a cover letter?
A cover letter tells the prospective reviewer who you are, the book's title, and what the author is sending to that particular reviewer. Let's take a look at a package I put together to Midwest Book Review for my multi-cultural paranormal mystery.
I didn't send an ARC because Midwest Review requested that they wanted two (2) copies of my published book. Inside the two books, I wrote my blurb. "Enjoy! I did! Signed my name and included my author's business card.
The next step required me to print up three testimonial reviews from people who had already read the book. Each testimonial received a separate page. Each testimonial was written by a well-known author in the fiction genre: science fiction, futuristic romance, and mystery-thriller.
My next step was to include the first three chapters of the novel. These I stapled together.
I included a picture of the cover done by a well-known graphic artist. Great publicity for them and a professional looking cover always helps the author.
I purchased a black folder with the two pockets in front and a place to insert my author's card.
For the front of the folder, I added a clean white blank page with the title printed in bold letters and my name printed underneath it (Pen Name).
I was told my odds of having Midwest Book Reviewing looking at my kit were slim because they receive so many requests. Imagine my surprise three months later when I received a two page letter from the Mr. Cox telling me how much he and his young adult editor enjoyed reading Anna Mae and the material that I'd enclosed.
It's not impossible to receive a book review from one of the above-mentioned journals. These same steps can apply to well-known libraries, people reviewers, and newspaper reviews IF the author does their homework and research first.
I have mailed my book to additional reviewers (Radical Parenting, Best Parenting, Amazon reviewers, Tag My Books and have received reviews from everyone of them. What did I do right?
o Homework and Research.
o Write ahead of time to individual reviewers and make sure they want to review your book and it's in the genre they do their book reviews in.
o Find out if the review is FEE based. Some reviewers, organizations, on-line groups; they charge to review. Make sure you understand the directions and follow them to the letter.
o Include a cover letter to let the reviewers know what you're sending them.
Make sure you send them the material as specified in the directions. ARC's, media kits, cover letters, testimonials, book location, publisher's name and address, release date, and ISBN number.
o All this information determines whether they'll accept your book and review it or toss it in the pail. Some Internet reviewers state on-line that they receive millions of books for review, and yours may not be the one to be reviewed.
o Write in inner book cover, "NOT FOR RESELL." That means that the reviewer can't sell your book or ARC. Do specify what you want done with your ARC's or books. Suggest they give it to the local library, hospital, charity, or school.
o When sending out your books for review, always include your author's business card.
o Always SIGN your book and date it.
o Include a pre-paid postage card with your return address on it so that the reviewer can tell you when your book arrived. Or use it as a feedback card from potential reviewers. When I received my three pages of review from Midwest Books, they also sent along a pre-paid postage card tucked inside the envelope. Please return with your second book so we can review it.
Getting your book reviewed isn't impossible nor does it have to hurt. It requires paying attention, planning, and following instructions. Keep these in mind and your next book review fiasco will turn into a resounding success.
L S. Cauldwell, author of The Anna Mae Mysteries-The Golden Treasure - Three sneakered sleuths find Jefferson Davis' lost gold treasure with help from a disembodied black fist and divining rods.
http://lilliancauldwell.com and http://www.authorsden.com/lilliancauldwell
Move over Nancy Drew, there's a new girl in town.
Available at Amazon.com
Friday, February 05, 2010
Remember when you went into a diner and sat at a table there was a small version of a juke box?
Well, PIVTR has created a juke box for playing audio and video shows Upon Request.
Like the juke box, you must deposit coins in the slots, pick your selection and it started playing your favorite music.
This week ONLY, February 5 through February 12, PIVTR will run a Beta Version of Upon Request. That's right, tell PIVTR what audio program you want to listen to again, and get to hear it instantly.
Playing Times for Upon Request begin at 2 p.m. eastern standard time and ends at 4 p.m. the peak audience listening hours.
So, get those orders in and let's hear some Upon Request audio programs.
Video will be offered on another beta trial so get those book trailers out to me. This will also be offered for a week as beta.
After February 12th, it will become fee driven.
Many author I know have used various Amazon sales rank tracking systems online so they can see how their books are selling on Amazon, so today I'm interviewing Mario Lurig, the creator of NovelRank. Mario, welcome to The Write Type! ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
CKT: As the creator of NovelRank, please tell us what led to the creation of such a program.
ML: I'm a self-publishing author myself, and that means marketing my book is a one-man team. The problem was that Amazon sales info is delayed about 6 months from my publisher, Lulu. Therefore, it's hard to know what is working and what is not as not every purchase happens where you want it to happen. I tried other sales rank tracking websites, and was not satisfied with any of them.
I then remembered, "Oh wait, I can write code." So I started tracking sales rank on my own, then realized that other authors probably could use the same thing; I'm not the only author selling less than 15 copies a month. So, I've put in 200+ hours of work and NovelRank was released to the public.
CKT: Who uses NovelRank, and why?
ML: A few publishers, definitely a large collection of self-promoting authors, and I suppose for the same reasons I do: To get some feedback on how well your book is selling on Amazon without having to obsessively visit Amazon.com, trying to figure out if the book's sales rank has gone up or down, and what that means. Authors are busy enough!
CKT: How does NovelRank work? And why is it important to authors like me?
ML: It's a pretty simple concept: Every hour, get the sales rank of your book on all Amazon domains that carry the book that you choose to track. Then, based on trends and changes, estimate the number of sales that occur. Is it important to know the sales at any one moment? No, unless you are actively promoting it. The key to good marketing is good feedback, and that is what NovelRank provides for authors like you.
CKT: Can I only track my sales rank from Amazon.com?
ML: Other sites only track Amazon.com and some track Amazon.co.uk. NovelRank tracks all Amazon domains, including US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.
CKT: I've used TitleZ in the past to track my sales ranks and at one time could track my Kindle sales rank too, but then TitleZ removed this feature. Can I use NovelRank to track Kindle editions of my work?
ML: Yes! It's a bit of a long story, but the quick version is that every site that exists to track sales rank uses Amazon's API (efficient way to get information from a service or site). Months ago, Amazon removed the ability to get any information about Kindle Edition books, and after some persistence from myself and a few others in their forums, they finally stated that this was deliberate and permanent. Everyone's source of information was lost, including NovelRank.
I wasn't satisfied with that option, so I found another way to get the information from Amazon that was 20% of the API's efficiency. Without this new method, it would have been only 4%, which just isn't a feasible amount to get the data in a timely manner. Now NovelRank allows you to add Kindle Edition books for tracking, and still get hourly results, including sales estimates, exclusively.
CKT: On TitleZ I could track a list of items and see them on one page. This was great for comparing ranks for my 3 novels. It was also useful if I wanted to track a comparative title and compare to one of mine. Can I track more than one item and compare their stats easily using NovelRank?
ML: You can definitely track more than one item, and you can even share the book's page with others without them needing to create an account, just share the URL of the page. However, this is the one place NovelRank lags behind others, the ability to have an account and track everything on one page. It's coming, let me be clear, but I opted to reduce the barrier to entry, because I really dislike having to login or make an account everywhere.
So, I made it really simple to add a book, track it, and share that with others or integrate it with your regular life with things like RSS feeds. I'll be keeping the spirit the same however, because you won't be creating an account, but simply logging in through one of 6 services you already have an account with, such as Google, LiveJournal, Facebook, and Twitter. Just like the current book details page, you will have an 'account' page accessible by URL so you won't need to login to see everything on one page, only to make changes to your settings or lists.
CKT: Are there any features (current or future) that really make NovelRank stand out?
ML: Kindle tracking is the standout feature right now, as nobody else supports it. Nobody.
CKT: Do you charge for this tracking service?
ML: I like to think that the second best thing about NovelRank is that there are no advertisements, never will be, and it has the best price: Free.
CKT: On the home page of NovelRank, you feature 3 lists? Tell us about them. Are there any others, and what do they track?
ML: It actually features about 10 lists, because every hour the 3 featured on the home page change, as they are randomly selected from all of the Top 10 lists available. It always shows Recent Additions on either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, as the most popular Amazon domains, and then 2 other lists.
Most lists are obvious, showing books that were recently added, top sellers, top Lulu sellers, etc. However, my favorite lists are called Diamonds in the Rough, which represent books that have sold a copy recently, but have been on a dry streak in the last couple of days. In other words, books that are valuable enough to garner your attention and your dollars, but probably not top sellers.
CKT: Do you have anything else to add?
ML: Being an author is hard, even for those of us doing it part-time, but it's incredibly rewarding. If NovelRank can bring value to an author who is taking their book's sales and marketing into their own hands, it has succeeded. Like my book, NovelRank suffers from the same fate: I'm its biggest fan, and everything else is gravy.
Authors: you can now promote your book on NovelRank. Just send Mario a copy for his once a month book giveaway. http://www.novelrank.com/blog/donate-novel-authors-monthly-promotion-and-giveaway/
Thank you for dropping by The Write Type, Mario, and for sharing this valuable service. I've tried NovelRank and it's simple and easy. All the best in success with NovelRank.