Sunday, July 31, 2011

Surviving the Rapid Changes in Publishing

With the demise of Borders, the growth in e-publishing and self-publishing, and the growing number of big name writers who are walking away from new contracts offers to take control of their work and incomes, there’s plenty to talk about these days. For every Amanda Hocking who sells a ton of books and lands a lucrative contract with a large publishing house, thousands are floundering, and a small number are resorting to unprofessional tactics to sell books. Some publishing houses may not survive the turbulence. Writers are beginning to question the relevancy of agents, and good editors are becoming worth their weight in gold, yet many writers refuse to pay even a fraction of that for their services. So, how does one stay afloat in this sea of change?

Author Dean Wesley Smith authors interesting advice in his blog. He suggests not pursuing traditional publishers or agents right now. Too many publishing houses are struggling to deal with dwindling sales and rapidly diminishing bookshelf space in the stores. You can read more of his thoughts at

An increasing number of traditionally published authors are claiming that their e-book incomes are outstripping all of their print sales combined. So, do we all go the e-publishing route? Well, wait a sec, there are a lot of things to consider. Many of the writers who are doing well have already built a readership with numerous, traditionally published books. Aside from Amanda Hocking, who readily admits that she worked long and hard at social networking to promote her books, the vast majority of unknown writers aren’t going to make enough to live on unless they’ve written a good manuscript and are prepared to work their butts off promoting it. Even then there are no guarantees.

Some writers suggest that you write as much as you can (but not crap) and put it all out there, including short fiction to start building a brand name. Branding itself is a whole other topic for discussion, but many suggest it’s an essential marketing tool these days, just like book tours once were. Even blog tours these days don’t seem as popular for promoting a book as they once were.

I don’t have any clear answers to survival, but common sense tells me that working diligently at writing and improving your craft, networking (physically and virtually), promoting, and researching all the many aspects of the publishing scene, are as essential as ever. I will say, don’t be too quick to publish until your manuscript has been read by reliable critiquers and professionally edited. It will help make a big difference in your success. If you have any tips for survival, please share them. If we all help one another then we might do just fine.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Reviewer Giveaway - July 1-August 31

A special announcement from Imajin Books:

This July & August, we hope you'll join us for our Summer Reviewer Giveaway. No, we aren't giving away reviewers (though I'm sure some authors would LOVE to have their very own). We're rewarding reviewers!

We think reviewers are special. They take the time to read our books and then post their thoughts about our titles on blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari etc. And it's time they get some real appreciation. So we're giving away ebooks to reviewers.

And our reviewers will be entered in a draw for a Mystery Prize worth at least $120.

Here's how it works:
  • Borrow an Imajin Books title (ebook or paperback) from a friend or lending site, or buy from your favourite retailer. 
  • Then post a review on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads. Only reviews posted between July 1, 2011 and August 31, 2011 qualify.
  • Email us with the links to your reviews.
  • You'll receive 1 free ebook of your choice (from our titles). No obligation to review your ebook prize.
  • 1 Mystery Prize valued at $120 (minimum) will be given away to one lucky winner.
  • Anyone, anywhere, 18+, can enter this giveaway. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. No cash value.
  • Imajin Books authors, their families and any subcontracted associates of Imajin Books are excluded from this contest.
  • All prizes will be awarded after September 1st and before September 3rd. The Mystery Prize may take up to 4 weeks to be received.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cheryl guests on Earth's Book Nook

Any good writer can plot a suspense novel, and take characters from danger to escape/happiness, but I like to dig a bit deeper with my characters. I like to delve into their deepest, darkest fears. Often, those fears mirror my own. For a mother, there is no worse fear than that something horrible will happen to your child...

Visit Earth's Book Nook to read how I was inspired by true events to delve deep into the characters in Children of the Fog.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whose Story Is It?

Every story is someone’s story. Whether we are writing about war, child abuse, romance, murder, or any other topic, we must make readers care about a character. Readers want someone to root for, to bond with, to love. Once they have found that, they will be eager to read further.

One of the hardest things for some of us writers is to decide whose story we are writing. We create a lot of characters while writing our novels, and we fall in love with all of them, even the villains. We feel disloyal to our creations if we give one character more consideration than others, and we believe the story needs all those points of view. Perhaps it does. But the reader doesn’t know that. All the reader knows is what is on the page, not what is in our minds, and all those equally significant characters become confusing. Readers need to know whose story it is. Or whose story it mostly is.

One way for us to decide this is to figure out which character has the most at stake, which one will change the most. If we are lucky, the two will be the same, and we will know whose story it is. If not, we have to make the character who will change the most into the main story character while upping that character’s stakes.

A character with nothing to lose is not one people will care about. If someone in the story parachutes out of a plane for fun, readers might find it entertaining, but they won’t be concerned. But if someone wearing a faulty parachute jumps out of a plane into flames to save a child lost in the middle of a forest fire, everyone except the most curmudgeonly will care.

The same is true of character growth. A character who remains static, who learns nothing from experience, is not someone readers can love. A story is always about change, and since a story is also about a character, that character should grow. A timid character could learn to stand up for himself. An arrogant character could learn a touch of humility. The essence of the character does not need to change. A timid reporter who turns into superman is the stuff of comic books, not a realistic novel. But a character who grows, who learns, who comes back from his or her experiences with something to share, that is a character readers care about.

And that’s whose story it is.


Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What the Closing of Borders Means for Authors

As you probably know, Borders filed for bankruptcy-court protection in February. Since there were no buyers and they didn’t want a bankruptcy-court auction, Borders is now forced to liquidate. The U.S.’s second largest bookstore chain will close their 399 stores by the end of September. This not only means that 10,700 people will be out of work, but that literally miles of bookshelf space will be gone. This is bad news for authors on many levels. For instance, bookstore employees were often the ones who recommended books to customers, and if they’re no longer there to talk up your book who will?

Borders blames their troubles on the rising popularity of e-book sales, a turbulent economy, and on publishers who refused to allow them to pay their bills later. Whether this was a wise strategy on the publishers’ part is hard to say. Publishers need income to keep their companies going, but now there is one less chain to carry their books. With far fewer opportunities for readers to browse in a physical store, and other online stores will likely see a boost in business. So, is this a sign of things to come for other chains? To read more in an article from The Wall Street Journal go to

There’s also an article in The New York Times you can find at

On a related note, author Kristine Kathryn Rusch posted news that Barnes & Noble plans to substantially cut the number of paperbacks they carry to add more games and toys to their stock. They are expected to start massive returns of books to publishers soon, which again is bad news for publishers and authors. Authors’ royalty checks will be smaller than normal for the third quarter of this year. As bookshelf space shrinks, print runs will be smaller in future; incomes and careers will suffer. Publishers might be less inclined to take on new writers than they were before. Some publishers won’t survive.

Hold onto your hat folks, the next few months are going to get pretty bumpy for some. We’ve all been through tough times before, but this doesn’t make the news any more welcome. You can find Rusch’s blog at

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Google+ For A Non-Joiner

I've been on Google+ for several days and my opinion of it at this point is: So far, so good. This, from a reluctant joiner.

It's like Twitter, in that you can view the public post stream or just those from people in your "circles" -- People you've chosen and sorted into as wide or restricted a grouping as you like. I have a big circle called Fellow Writers and a tiny one called For My Eyes Only, where I post links and reminders and direct them only to myself. I have small circles for writers' groups I'm in. If particular people from various circles were to be attending the same convention or working on the same project, we could each make a circle for that event or project with each other in it and use G+ as a glorified email program.

Google+ has "Hangouts", which are chatrooms--video and/or text. I like the possibility of having virtual writers' meetings or interviews or appearances. I know there are other places where these are possible, but what interests me about G+ right now is how many useful internet features are integrated into this one product. As one of my elementary school teachers might have said, "Someone had his thinking cap on."

There are a LOT of writers on Google+, with more joining every day. I think it's going to prove to be a useful professional tool, if nothing else. Want an invite? Leave your email address in the comments section or email me at at gmail dot com and tell me why. I'm interested in knowing your thoughts about it.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Credo for Living and Writing

At the front of my notebook of writing tips is a list of reminders and advice to myself -- a credo of sorts. Here it is:

1. Believe in yourself.

2. Expect the best.

3. Have a vision of victory and abundance.

4. Don't settle for a life of mediocrity.

5. There is adventure waiting for you. Run to it. Explore.

6. Be bold and brave.

7. Live the life only you can live.

What is your credo? What advice would you like to give to yourself?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Recommendations for Writers

When you’ve been writing as long as I have, you start to build quite a collection of how-to books for writers. In fact, I still have a stack waiting to be read, but here are just a few favorites that I’ve read cover to cover. Since I’ve been working on mystery novels for several years, many of them focus on this genre.

For Mystery/Thriller Writers

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron
Fiction (The Art and Craft of Writing and Getting Published) by Michael Seidman
Writing the Mystery by G. Miki Hayden
How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz
Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block
The Writers Digest series including (Deadly Doses: a Writer’s Guide to Poisons, Body Trauma, Scene of the Crime, Armed and Dangerous, and several others)
Forensics for Dummies by D.P. Lyle, MD (he also writes a great forensics blog)
Bones: A Forensic Detective’s Casebook by Dr. Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammell
Writing the Modern Mystery by Barbara Norville

On Editing/Writing

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Eat, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
Breathing the Page by Betsy Warland
Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

I have more, but this is a good start. Now, let me know what your recommendations are!

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just Try and Take a Vacation From Writing

As you’ll know from my last blog, I was recently on a week’s vacation in the Okanagan. Given that I’ve worked on five different Casey Holland mysteries, a couple of short stories, plus countless blogs and reviews over the past sixteen months, it seemed like a good idea to let my brain shut down a bit. Admittedly, I brought two projects because, after thirty years, I still love writing and didn’t have the usual barrage of housework and errands to do. But the truth of the matter is that I’m a writer twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. So, when I see, hear, feel, or sense something out of the norm, the antenna perk up and ideas form. Not surprisingly, I came back with notes for scenes or situations that wouldn’t have occurred to me before this trip.

One of them involves Canada Day festivities which happened the day we arrived in Penticton. It was warm, dry day, and tons of people were in town to celebrate Canada’s 144th birthday. When the sun went down we strolled along the beach promenade toward the source of festivities. The walkways on both sides of the busy street were packed with people of all ages carrying flags, glow-in-the-dark wands, and sporting flag tattoos. Everyone was smiling, chatty, exuberant. When the fireworks began we found a spot to sit and soon found ourselves amongst some beer-swilling wedding attendees from the nearby hotel. One of them started singing God Save the Queen when the fireworks lit up the sky. Who knew that anyone under thirty even knows the words? There were so many images, so much fun and color and noise that I jotted down two full pages of notes, thinking this would make a cool scene for a future Casey novel.

On our way out of Penticton a week later, we drove past a blue tarp-covered tent by the roadside on Highway 97. Police cruisers and road markers made it pretty obvious (to this crime writer) that there was probably a body beneath the tent. I felt a little trepidation and sadness as I drove past that scene. A couple of hours later, a news report confirmed that a passerby had found a body in the ditch the night before. Identity, as of that time, was unknown.

There were other scenes and spectacular views that may or may not work their way into my fiction. While I don’t actively look for this stuff, my brain is constantly recording, making connections, and producing threads for possible use later on. There’s no escaping being a writer, at least at this point in my life, but I've come to realize that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The eBook Revolution and Independent Authors

If you're an independent author or a writer who has thought of publishing on your own, take heart in knowing that the book industry has had its virtual doors blown right open by the evolution and revolution of ebooks. Over the past three to five years, we have seen huge changes in the industry as traditional-style publishers imploded their usual models and ways of doing business, laid off employees, consolidated imprints under one roof, and basically went into full panic mode. Amidst this chaos, ebooks swept in, gathered hoards of loyal readers, converted the technically challenged into switching to ereaders, and forever changed the face of publishing.

There has never been a better time for you, independent author, to publish your own book!

You know, the one you have dreamed of publishing for the past X years; the one you have slaved over in the wee hours of the night while your kids were sleeping. Gone are the days when "self-publishing" was something to scorn or steer clear of. The negative stigma that self-publishing once held has evolved into the journey of a writer to fulfill his dream, to get his work published and read. Just look at the success of 'Donovan Creed' creator John Locke or Amanda Hocking, two superstars in the indie world. 

Sure, there are always people who will demote an indie author to the realms of "hack." Some will even tell you, "Don't become an indie author; it'll ruin your chances of getting a 'real' publisher." But there are far more who are willing to give you a chance.

My journey as an author started in self-publishing. I paid a subsidy company for a package and they helped get my trade paperback into the hands of readers. That was back in 2003. That book was Whale Song. People told me I'd ruined my chances for a career as a writer. People told me I was crazy, that no one would buy my book. I was told that a traditional publisher would never re-publish Whale Song, that film companies would never consider it for a movie. With all that negativity, you would think I would've crumbled and given up. Sadly, many writers do just that.

I am a dreamer. My motto has been: 'Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG! And if that doesn't work, Dream BIGGER!!!'

People tried to kill that dream with their negativity, but I kept pushing on, believing that I could make it work. And I did. Whale Song was re-published by a traditional publisher. It has been considered by a half-dozen filmmakers, and while there hasn't been a movie deal, that's still more than what most authors see. Whale Song is a National Bestseller in Canada. And it is now indie published by me again, in ebook and trade paperback.

Every bestselling author started where I did. With a dream. And a story. Just like you, independent author. We all start at the bottom and it's up to us to start moving up that ladder of success.

I'm not saying that traditional publishers don't have something to offer; they do. What I'm saying is, why wait around for years when you can publish now and see success now. Perhaps your next book will be picked up. Or the one after that. Or never, and you'll be fine with that because you'll be earning more as an indie author anyway. However, if you do find a traditional publisher, make sure they are riding the ebook wave and embracing the technology. Too many of my friends had their ebook rights tied up by their publishers, with nothing to show for it. And often when they did see an ebook edition, it was priced so high that readers steered clear.

Readers love that they can now get books for under $5. They don't care as much about waiting for the hard cover editions; they'll happily dive into the ebook. Some will even buy a print copy afterward if it's a favorite. And they don't look for just the 'big name' authors anymore. Why should they? You'll pay $8 or more on average for a well-known author's ebook. You can buy 4 or more of mine for that same price, depending on the titles you choose. My ebooks are all priced at $4 or less. Right now, they're all priced at $2.99 and less during the Imajin Books Summer eBook Sale.

My latest novel, Divine Justice, hasn't made an impact on readers or other publishers or movie companies. YET. But that is going to change. Why? Because this Christmas people are going to be finding ereaders in their stockings and under the Christmas tree. I predict ereader sales will triple that of last year's sales―at least. And those people are going to want one thing―CONTENT. They're going to spend Christmas day loading up their new Kindle. They'll read more ebooks over the holidays than they have in the last year. They're going to be looking for good deals, and indie authors can give them that.

Ereaders are the gifts that keep giving. Not only will Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony ereader owners stock up on great books, they'll tell their friends and families that they now have an ereader. This makes gift giving a cinch. This past year, I bought a Kindle for my father and a Kobo for my mother. Guess what they're getting this year for Christmas? Ebooks! I can gift titles directly from Amazon and Kobo Books to their ereader. I can give them Divine Justice.

Sales are only going to grow with my latest thriller. People will get hooked on Divine Intervention, book 1 in my Divine series starring a covert team of psychic government agents. Next, they will pick up Divine Justice, book 2. Then they'll discover I have 6 other ebook titles just waiting for them. And best of all, they're priced from FREE to $3.99 on Amazon or Smashwords.
If readers can find my books―and they are―then they can find yours, dear independent author.

Just visit or to check out my titles and view the stunning book covers. You can also watch some sizzling book trailers, follow me on Twitter or 'Like' my Facebook page.

~ Cheryl 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Adventures in Book Signings

I don’t do that many book signings, not because I don’t like them, but because they’re a bit intimidating. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from authors far more well known than I who claim that signings aren’t worth the time. It’s always a crapshoot to see if anyone will show up, and when they do, will they want to chat, or even acknowledge your presence?

This weekend, I took part in two signings, and I have to say that the stores’ hosts were terrific. Both stores advertised my event and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. So, a big thanks to Judy from Hooked on Books in Penticton, and to Trevor at Mosaic Books in Kelowna. They are first rate people and booksellers!

The Penticton event took place during the weekly farmer’s market, a huge event that draws lots of people. I was set up at a table just outside the store, which was great. I was in the shade, a breeze was blowing, and I got to watch people. Unfortunately, the guy playing guitar at the curb right in front of me blocked the traffic flow past my table, but he wasn’t there the whole time.

One of the most fascinating aspects of signings are the conversations I engage in, and this weekend was no exception. One passerby was intrigued by the title of my latest mystery, The Opposite of Dark. When I explained what the book was about he got really excited because the search for the truth about one’s past is apparently what his whole life has been about. Sadly, he couldn’t buy the book because he’d recently moved and was trying to get his life together. Since he’s in his late 40’s, I hope he does soon.

Another young man thought it was cool that I was publishing books, both as a self-publisher and traditionally published author. We talked for awhile a bit about technology, e-books, self-publishing, and he seemed pretty interested in buying a book. But since I wasn’t selling anything for under $7, which was his budget, he left empty-handed, but vowing to buy one of my books when he’d saved enough money. He was in his late teens, I think.

Several middle-aged and older men were drawn to my table when they saw the title Taxed to Death, my first Alex Bellamy mystery. But when they learned it was a work of fiction and not a tome about what’s wrong with Canada’s tax system, they lost interest. And who can blame them? There’s nothing like a 300-page political rant to get aging blood all hot and bothered. Since the HST referendum looms on BC’s horizon, there’s evidently an impressive number of older guys cruising the streets looking for a good political debate (no women, oddly enough). One man even approached me inside the second bookstore, carrying his gigantic blue and white ‘Extinguish the HST’ signs. Admittedly, I’d had enough debates by this point, and said right away, “It’s a murder mystery, not nonfiction.” He already knew this, he’d answered, because he’d read about me. This didn’t prevent him from sharing his political thoughts, which I quite enjoyed. Also, it was kind of cool that he knew who I was because a few minutes earlier, a young man had wandered up to my table, looked at my books and said, “I never even heard of you,” and wandered off again.

Of course there were the usual “Where’s the washroom? and “Do you know if this store sells…?” questions. Happily, I could even answer the one about the washroom. There were more conversations, but you get the idea. When it comes to book signings you never know quite what to expect, and that’s half the fun ... or half the battle.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo

Friday, July 01, 2011

Check out the Imajin Books Summer eBook Sale - July 1-31

Check out the 'Summer Sizzles with Imajin Books' event. It starts off with a bang! All ebooks are priced between $0.99 and $2.99 USD.

If you order Kindle ebooks via Amazon, you can visit any of the books' Amazon pages (links below) and you'll see the new price listed. These prices are in effect until August 1st, 2011.




REMOTE CONTROL - (This novelette is FREE via Smashwords and $0.99 on Amazon; Amazon users: get the mobi file FREE from Smashwords)





If you usually buy ebooks for a Nook, Kobo, Sony, iPad or other ereader or for your PC, you can purchase discounted ebooks via To receive the sale price, simply use the codes below when purchasing. You can click on the links below to go right to Smashwords. Go through the buy process like normal and enter the code in the coupon code box to receive the discount.

WHALE SONG - - Code: SP97D


THE RIVER - - Code: CS52Q



(This novelette is FREE via Smashwords and $0.99 on Amazon; Amazon users: get the mobi file FREE from Smashwords)





Happy reading!