Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New release: SHADOW MASTERS: An Anthology from The Horror Zine

Imajin Books is proud to release SHADOW MASTERS, a new horror anthology by some masters of suspense, along with some new talent in the genre. I am especially excited about this release as it includes all original, never-before-published shorts stories, including mine, DREAM HOUSE.

Featuring a haunted house cover designed by cover artist extraordinaire, Ryan Doan, SHADOW MASTERS has released to rave reviews, including a major plug from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD co-writer, John Russo, who says, “This anthology is chock-full of wonderfully horrific stories from noted authors as well as talented unknowns.”

Fear casts a long shadow, and shadows take many shapes…

From award-winning editor, Jeani Rector, who brought you the terrifying anthology, WHAT FEARS BECOME, comes a wicked brew of spine-tingling fiction. Featuring never before published works from best-selling authors such as Bentley Little, Yvonne Navarro, Scott Nicholson, Melanie Tem, Elizabeth Massie, Earl Hamner, Simon Clark, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Ronald Malfi, Lisa Morton, Jeff Bennington, JG Faherty and many others, this chilling collection of works also includes a foreword from Joe R. Lansdale.

From classic horror and exciting suspense to Twilight Zone-type speculative fiction with twisted endings, SHADOW MASTERS: An Anthology from The Horror Zine delves into the darkest corners of our nightmares and delivers the shivers.

And here's a sneak peek at my short, DREAM HOUSE...

The day we moved into our dream house was the beginning of our nightmare. And it all started with five fortuitous words…

“I want my dream house,” I told my husband.
We stood in the poor excuse of a kitchen in our rundown Boston bi-level. I was stuck between the open oven door and a cupboard on the other side, while Ray unloaded the dishwasher and tried not to bump into me.
“This kitchen is ridiculous,” I said. “Whoever designed it must have been a size zero anorexic who lived on her own.”
I was neither a size zero, nor an anorexic. I wasn’t willing to give up my bacon cheeseburgers and DQ Blizzards. So the scale tipped a little further—not in my favor. Oh well.
“Two weeks, Christine,” Ray said. Then his psychiatric training kicked in. “Are you sure you’re not substituting the new house for something else?”
“I just want space. If that makes me crazy, then…” I shrugged, “so be it.”
Fact is, I’d fallen in love with the idea of buying and renovating an old home. You know, one of those period mansions with hefty wooden doors and arched hallways. Where the ceilings are ornate...

* * *
SHADOW MASTERS: An Anthology from The Horror Zine, edited by Jeani Rector, is now available in ebook and paperback editions.

The Kindle edition is ON SALE for a limited time for only $0.99 USD. 

The trade paperback is $17.99 USD.

Amazon.com - ebook
Amazon.com - paperback

Amazon.ca - ebook
Paperback coming soon!

Amazon.co.uk - ebook
Paperback coming soon!

Createspace - paperback

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are You Making These Mistakes?

I read an interesting article in The Huffington Post this week, which discusses the ten biggest marketing mistakes almost every author makes. The top ten mistakes, according to marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri, are:

.           Waiting to see what happens
.           Feeling like you have to do everything
.           Not putting in enough content
.           Thinking that the rules don’t apply to you
.           Not staying on top of trends in your industry
.           Lack of engagement
.           Waiting until the book is done to launch your website
.           Being in a rush
.           Not asking for what you want
.           Wanting to make a fast buck

Sansevieri goes onto say that these mistakes apply to everyone, including traditionally published authors who’ve been at it for years and are still struggling to find success. I encourage you to read this blog post because, like me, I’m sure you’ll find that you could improve on at least a couple of things. Okay, I admit it that there are four or five things, in my case.

Of course, the continuing debate I have with myself is how to I make the time to market my books properly? At the moment, I put most of my energy into working hard to increase my writing productivity. As I’ve said before, although I edit nearly every day of my life, I’m not the world’s most prolific writer. I take great care with rewrites and edits to create the best possible piece I can. What I still struggle with is creating the most effective marketing program imaginable. Needless to say, it’s still a work in progress, but articles like the one below really do help:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#SocialNeworking Do's and #Marketing Don't's

"Don't's" -- Is that right? That doesn't look right.

ANYWAY, I'm fairly active in Social Networking, and I've been paying attention to why I follow/friend/add some people and not others. Here are some insights I've gathered (about myself, anyway). I'm a writer and a reader with a pretty wide range of reading tastes. I'm also a people junkie. My advice, then:

Interact appropriately. If you visit a blog and leave a comment like "So true!" or "Wonderful" or "Good post", you might as well be a spam commenter (or, as I call them, a spommenter). You may have a hundred posts you want to read and drop your name on, but take a few seconds to make it personal. I'll even allow spomments if the spommenter takes the time to make it personal. Spommenters are people, too, you know.

If you comment on a Google + or a Facebook post or on a Twitter tweet, be nice (even if you disagree) and make it be about the post, poster, or previous commenter.

If you leave a link anywhere, pick ONE. Make it a live link. That means, if you type or cut-and-paste a link to your blog, for example, type it like this:{a href="http://MarianAllen.com"}Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes{/a} -- of course, with YOUR URL in place of mine, the name of the page you're linking to in place of my blog description, and replacing the { and } with < and >. When you click whatever button it takes to post your comment, your link will be pretty (showing only the description) and clickable (making it easy for interested readers to follow it).

Add value. If you find a nifty site, share it with your social networks. Even if it's something you, personally, aren't interested in, if it's something you know from reading other people's posts that they're interested, share it. Share calls for submissions to markets outside your genre but in the genres of others in your network. If a lot of your Pinterest network loves boats and you come across a boat blog somehow, pin pictures from it just to please them.

Give first. Retweet other people's announcements, blog posts, and good news. Some will give back, some won't. Don't keep score. As my mamma always says, Just worry about your own behavior. Other people won't be keeping score for you; at most, they'll be watching you give and thinking well of you. It's even better if you really do like the people and products you're boosting. :)

Join cross-promoting teams. This is particularly good for people who hate to self-promote. One I recently joined with happiness and success is Writers4Writers. Each month, two or three writers are chosen and we promote the heck out of them! This month, Laura Eno and I were The Chosen Ones, and I not only got the benefit of mass promotion, I met a lot of wonderful people/writers who were new to me.

Join blog hops or challenges. April A-to-Z is one, challenging you to blog every day but Sunday in the month of April, each day focusing on a letter of the alphabet. The one I'm doing now (for the first time) is Story A Day in May. So far, I've written 21 short-short stories and posted them on my blog. Again, I've gotten some happy promotion and I've met some writers/people I'll follow and treasure.

Don't forget to market! When it's appropriate, go on and say something about something you wrote and leave a link to it. Maybe the conversation has come to involve zombies and mules, and it would be perfectly appropriate for you to leave a link to the book of short stories you self-published that contains such a story.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is the Sky Falling, or Do You Just Need Better Vision?

Did any of you see the front page ad in Publishers Weekly (PW) last month, from ultra-rich, bestselling author James Patterson? The ad says in loud, bold letters Who Will Save Our Books? Our Bookstores? Our Libraries? I didn’t read Patterson’s article in PW, but clearly he believes that all aspects of the publishing industry are in trouble, and that dialogue needs to be started about the future of publishing and bookselling. Hmm. Based on what I’ve read, that dialogue has already been going on for some time, and good things are happening in the publishing industry.

It seems that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. A recent blog by the prolific and business savvy author, Kristine Kathryn Rusch points out that Patterson is a little out of date and not seeing the whole picture from high atop his successful-author perch. In fact, she maintains that the conclusions reach from the limited data he’s collected are just plain wrong, and that Publishers Weekly knows this, however, they received a nice big check for the ad, so they published his article, without bothering to add any analysis, or differing opinions.

Rusch says Patterson is wrong on several levels. For example, things aren’t as dire for bookstores as one might think. In fact, data from the American Booksellers Association (ABA) shows that the number of independent bookstores which have opened since 2009 has expanded from 1,401 to 1,567 (a chart and links are provided to the data).  

Second, the rise of the ebook hasn’t hurt indie bookstores, it’s now helping them sell books, thanks to an arrangement between the ABA and Kobo. Booksellers (and 450 of them have signed up at last count) are now able to sell ereaders, accessories, and books through their stores, giving customers access to 3 million titles!

Most interesting of all is Rusch’s take on why Patterson believes the industry is in trouble. It’s fascinating look at the career of a bestselling author, and too long to repeat here, so I’ll refer you to her excellent blog. You’ll learn a lot about the publishing business! http://kriswrites.com/2013/05/08/the-business-rusch-the-year-of-the-bookstore/

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Great Awards Don't Mean Great Sales

Did you read the surprising and somewhat depressing article in the Christian Science Monitor this week about Pulitzer Prize (PP) winning books? Due to low sales, one of this year’s winners, Devil in the Grove, (a nonfiction work) was scheduled for liquidation by HarperCollins. In fact, the book was already remaindered by the time the winners were announced. However, as the article points out, winning a Pulitzer Prize doesn’t necessarily mean the book will start generating lots of sales.

Two weeks after the 2013 winners were announced, all five books had increased sales, but you won’t believe the numbers. Embers of War by Fredik Logevall had sold 40 copies before the nominations. His sales jumped to 353 afterward. The Black Count by Tom Reiss went from 135 copies to 501, and Sharon Old’s Stag Leap went from 51 copies to 492. Are you getting the grim picture here? Apparently, all of these books received terrific reviews, while a runaway bestseller like Fifty Shades of Gray didn’t.

I don’t know if this is a growing trend, or whether Pulitzer nominees have traditionally sold poorly. Perhaps nominated books used to do much better, but the rising popularity of genre work has changed the public’s reading tastes. Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting commentary on the publishing industry, buying trends, and the usefulness awards to a writer’s income. I wonder if award winners in mystery, thriller, and fantasy categories have also experienced a less than dazzling spike in sales after they’ve won. To read the article, go to http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2013/0430/Pulitzer-Prize-huge-sales-neither-required-nor-guaranteed

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Is DRM Hurting Ebook Sales?

A couple of years ago, people were advising those new to ebook publishing to use Digital Rights Management (DRM), a technology(ies) designed to protect their books from copyright infringement. However, as the music world has already discovered, the plan appears to have backfired big time. In fact, an article in TechDirt states that it is almost unfathomable why any publisher would use DRM at all.

Simply put, DRM limits the use of digital content after it’s been sold. In other words, no one can mess around with the work. In fact, it apparently can’t even be backed up. Amazon, Sony, and Apple are just three companies using DRM to protect  content, but an article in TechDirt claims that not only has DRM proven to be a bad idea, it is actually hurting sales. The limited use of a product consumers have paid for has ticked off many readers so much that they refuse to buy any DRM ebook.

Consumers have a point. If you buy a print book, you can share it with as many people as you want. Not so with a DRM ebook. DRM was supposed to curtail piracy, however, given the many numbers of authors whose DRM books have been pirated, it’s a colossal failure. If computer savvy people want a free book, they’ll find a way to get it, and there are now plenty of websites out there offering free copies of someone else’s book. One certainly doesn’t have to be famous, to have sold well, or have a high price point on their book to be subjected to piracy.

But here’s an interesting thing. TechDirt reports that Tor Books, who went DRM free nearly a year ago, found no marked increase in piracy at all. So, why wouldn’t more publishers choose this option, especially if it means gaining loyal customers? When you go to the blog, read the comments below and you’ll see just how anti-DRM people are. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130430/22322922899/tor-books-uk-says-ditching-drm-showed-no-increase-piracy.shtml

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pick a Flower and See What Ebook You Won!

Second Wind Publishing is celebrating May with a giveaway. Pick a flower and win a free ebook from Second Wind Publishing! Each number represents a Second Wind novel — even numbers for romance and chick lit; odd numbers for mystery, mainstream, and adventure. So, do you feel lucky? Go the the Second Wind blog (just click on the photo) and follow the directions. You won’t get a real flower, of course, since they are only virtual, but you will get a coupon for a free ebook in the format of your choice. (You need to post the number on the Second Wind blog, or else you won’t get your free ebook.)

Best of luck to you!

Offer ends May 15, 2013.