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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Some thoughts on marketing your published book

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.
– A.A. Milne

The book cover for my new mystery novel Beyond Blood is about ready for print. Shane the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) and I have been to-ing and fro-ing by email to proofread the cover, mainly the back page info. I think we got the last comma squared away. Whew!

And the cover is awesome and reflects the book’s title and content. When Shane emails me the actual cover in a smaller size, I will post it on this blog.

Meantime I continue on the pre-book launch PR. I also have to consider the other mystery novelist (first novel for both of us) being published by Blue Denim Press – Klaus Jakelski, a medical doctor and author of the medical mystery Dead Wrong. Ironically, Klaus is one of my editing clients although except for providing Blue Denim Press’s contact info, I had nothing to do with his book getting accepted by them. But Klaus and I will be doing some of the PR together.

There are many, many ways an author can publicize his or her book. My publisher is doing some PR (Shane sent me a list, including what we authors can do). However, I have learned much from my PR efforts with my debut mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point.

1. You need a marketing plan as I found out when trying to book a gig reading Beyond the Tripping Point (before it came out) at a bookstore in Waterloo, Ontario. The store manager wanted to see my marketing plan first.
2. You need to organize your marketing plan to suit you. I tried doing it by category (i.e. book launch, writing organizations, etc.) first in a Word Table and then a colleague set it up in Excel. Too confusing. For yet another possible marketing venture, I had to list my Marketing plan by the month. That one works best for me. Under each month I list what I will do by – you guessed it – category. The list meshes social media, email and in-person. And it is always in flux and open to additions – some of which my publisher emails me.

What else have I learned from the PR I did for BTTP?
1. A combination of social media, email and in-person appearances/readings,workshops and lots of book reviews is the way to go. Despite this digital age, author appearances reading should not be excluded. People still like to connect in person with authors.
2. E-mail PR can still work and can be segued into social media and result in book sales.
4. Videos of author reading (short) and interviews (shortish) are also draws if posted on You Tube and all your other social media.
5. Blogging, including blog tours, with connections to amazon.com, etc. and other social media works.
6. A book page on the now old-fashioned website. I have one for Beyond the Tripping Point and have started one for Beyond Blood at http://www.samcraw.com. You can list your author gigs, including blog tours and other relevant info. Just keep it short and use links where possible.

 

What new strategies I need to use with Beyond Blood:

Among others – book trailer, using my social media much more, getting more book reviews, visiting more bricks and mortar bookstores for readings (with or without other Crime Writers of Canada authors) and getting more TV interviews and maybe a radio one, and the DVD copies of the interviews to put up on You Tube, etc. (with my son, Martin, the computer expert’s help), and using a tagline for all of this (for Beyond Blood and Klaus’s Dead Wrong it is Blue Murder, a play on words for the publisher’s name. Shane from Blue Denim Press came up with that one.

It’s almost a full-time job, but as I posted a few weeks ago in https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2014/07/10/juggling-time-to-publicize-first-novel-and-write-second-novel/

I do other writing, teaching and editing. It boils down to being organized and picking my battles for all the other stuff in my life that goes wrong. Like the bank (i.e. one of their tellers) paying my property tax money into the city utility (water and waste) account by mistake, so I get a big fine for “non-payment” of property taxes. The bank manager is supposed to be fixing that and seemed very interested if I knew which teller was responsible, so I hope they nail her. She should be paying my fine.

And if any of my readers use other PR strategies for their published books (whether Indie or traditional publisher), please comment.

Meantime, back to the PR for Beyond Blood.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.

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Get motivated to write that novel or short story.

I

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.
—Gerald Brenan

 

You want to start writing that novel but can’t seem to find the time. The kids need ferrying to their soccer games; you have to clean out the garage, and hey you are going on holidays in a couple of weeks and need to plan your itinerary. Or you are beyond hooked on social media.

Meantime that novel sits either deadlocked at Chapter 3 or the novel plot and characters are scurrying around you mind faster than mice in your house.

What do you do? Who do you call?

You need someone to help get you motivated to write. You can get another writer friend who can empathize with your predicament, join a writing critique group. Or hire a writing consultant.

I briefly mentioned in last week’s post that I coach clients in writing. But what exactly does that mean? What exactly do I do?

First I talk to the client (either in person or by Skype or regular phone) to see where they are at (or not at) with their novel, short story, or memoir. We talk about their goals and if that is nebulous we try to get the goals more concrete. I present suggestions for working with them – in person or via Skype or a combination of both.

So, what exactly can happen during the consult?

If the author hasn’t actually started writing, we discuss an outline for our time together based on their story outline. I may get them to write a synopsis of their novel just to nail it down. The next step depends on the client. With one client we brainstormed ideas for each chapter and she took notes. Then she went home, wrote the chapter, maybe with a revision, and emailed that chapter to me to look over before our next consult.

At this meeting, we first went through this chapter with me making suggestions, which we discussed and then she made notes to do so (if the client brings his or her laptop or iPad, he or she can make the changes right then). The rest of the session we brainstormed for her next chapter. And then the process was repeated as we did with her previous chapter.

Another client is well into her manuscript and just needs feedback on what she has written. We work either in person or with Skype. She emails me the chapter she is working on (often a few hours before our appointment) and I look it over. When she is “here” she looks at her copy on her laptop and I look at it on my computer. She gives me a brief synopsis of where this chapter will fit in her book (it is non-fiction), what it focuses on and what she hopes to accomplish with this chapter. I make suggestions and ask questions about the content. Often I will suggest moving something up for the beginning, rewording the beginning or the middle, clarifying different things, adding different things, etc. As we talk, she is making the changes or making note of changes to make if it will take some time to do so (for example, if she has to check her research or do more research). Once we are done with the chapter, if there is still time in our hour together, she might go into what she will be working on next in the book.

The fiction-writing client and I met once a week. The non-fiction-writing client and I meet twice a month. Sure, there is a fee, but the feedback I get from my clients is that it is worth it for them to get going at their writing.

These writing sessions establish regularity in writing and because the author also has to write outside the sessions, a few meetings may be all she needs before she embarks on writing that novel, that memoir, that short story collection, without someone on her case. I see where these sessions also help the writer gain some self-confidence that she can actually do this, and actually write something. The latter ties in with the writing critique part.

So, if you don’t want to hire someone to coach you in your writing, join a writing critique group – it will motivate you to write if you have to produce something for critique every couple of weeks.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.

 

 

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Author Editor Relationship – keep it professional and respectful

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Your editor is not your ninth grade English teacher (at least I hope not) and is not there to rap your knuckles for forgetting some arcane rule. Editors are professionals who are accustomed to interacting with authors in a mutually respectful relationship.

– Dick Margulis (Editor)
http://www.intelligentediting.com/editorauthorrelationship.aspx

We authors need editors to edit our fiction because we are too subjective with our stories. A fresh pair of eyes and brain can see what our tunnel vision misses. However, many authors have tunnel vision in how they deal with their editor. Sadly, so do editors with their authors.

I should know as I work both sides of the fence as a writer and an editor. And I also teach writing and coach clients in writing. And balancing on that fence (not barbed wire, although sometimes it feels like it), I have seen some strange situations. So, from my personal experience, here are a few tips (with a few weird anecdotes) to help smooth your relationship with your editor.

1. Be professional. You are hiring the editor to evaluate and edit your writing. So no prima donna activities such as insisting the editor can edit but must not change one comma.

2. Realize that editing takes time. You are not going to get a good edit in a few days or a few weeks – even if the editor works 18/7.

3. Realize that editing costs money. Editors do not all charge the same rates. I once had an author include me in his extended fishing expedition to find an editor. He was looking for dirt cheap for editing his book-length manuscript. He told me some of his “contacts” charged as low as $300 and I charged the highest. He didn’t go with me, but I wonder which editor he chose. You get what you pay for. However, it is a good idea to check out a few editors.
4. Choose an editor who actually edits in your genre. I do decline work in some areas I don’t edit in (children’s books and erotica to name a couple, but I do edit young adult books. The first one is not in my area of editing expertise – I don’t have the mindset here and the second I just prefer not to edit). But I will sometimes take on other areas I seldom edit in. Maybe the story interests me or maybe I want to help the author. Or maybe the publisher is my client and the author is the publisher’s client.

5. Both editor and author need to be somewhat flexible with time. As they say, stuff happens and the editor might get behind. Ditto the author when he or she has to answer questions about unclear novel content or make changes. (Note: the author is the copyright owner of the novel, not the editor, so if there are major structural changes I suggest them, especially if I am evaluating, not editing, the manuscript).

6. More on time: don’t bombard your editor with constant emails asking how it is going or worse, sending unasked for changes in your novel for the editor to add in while the editor is still editing. I had a client do the latter, but she found it difficult to follow my requests to please source the references she quoted from.

7. There should always be a contract, or at least a written agreement, between editor and author. This keeps both on track re the editor’s tasks, time-lines, fees, etc. I use the contract suggested by the Editors’ Association of Canada.

8.  For the editors – when editing or evaluating a manuscript, do not be sarcastic. Be honest but polite. Keep it professional. Do not play school marm. You are there to help the writer not wave the big stick.

9. And here is the latest bug-a-boo. If you have made an appointment to meet with an editor before hiring him or her, keep the appointment or at least treat it like you would any other business appointment – if you have to cancel, contact the editor and reschedule. The same goes for editors. I had a would-be-client on a constant change-the-time-and-date spree. He would phone up and ask to do so. That would be okay once. Stuff happens. But when the would-be client agreed to a certain time-change and then changed it to something else without telling the editor… Or one and a half hour after the appointment the author called and said he got tied up and could he come to my home office now? You can imagine my answer to that one. On the other hand, people get sick and have family emergencies. One writing client I tutor has medical issues and I respect that. We work around them. I do not dump clients or refuse clients because of health issues; I have enough of my own to work around

I could go on and on but you get the gist.

An author-editor relationship is a business one. Both should be professional in their dealings with the other.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

 

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Juggling time to publicize first novel and write second novel

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.
– Steven Wright

I am doing the happy dance because my first novel Beyond Blood will be published fall 2014 by Blue Denim Press and continuing to write my second novel Beyond Faith.

How the heck do you balance the time for both? I am a newbie at this and as many of you know I have another book out, Beyond the Tripping Point, also published by Blue Denim Press. The juggle is doable, but before I give my tips, I want to refer you to a blog post by another author Amy Sue Nathan who had the same dilemma last year. She has more juggling experience here and each of her novels have completely different characters. So she had the difficult task of keeping her characters separate See http://bookpregnant.blogspot.ca/2013/07/publicizing-one-book-while-writing.html for her post about this dilemma.

My novels are series and so the main characters are the same. Ditto the four linked stories that are part of Beyond the Tripping Point. So that should make it easier to keep track of characters. Right?

Wrong. Especially the timing of the books being published vis-a-vis the timeline in the three books.

My main characters are fraternal twin private investigators Dana Bowman (divorced mother), and Bast Overture (single, gay), Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding (investigating police officer from Major Crimes), PC Joseph Oliver (Records Bureau head who is the twins police connection), Great Aunt Doris (the eccentric aunt of Dana’s ex-husband who lands on Dana unannounced) and David, Dana’s son.

The latter makes things more difficult as he is psychologically mute in Beyond the Tripping Point because of what happens in Beyond Blood. So the actual order of the stories is not the order of the books published. The timeline for the stories (short and novels) is:

Beyond Blood – eight days in August 1998

Beyond the Tripping Point (the four linked stories) from May 1999 to late October 1999

Beyond Faith (title at this point) – late November 1999 into January 2000.

So, while the characters are basically the same (with added ones for each story/novel) I have to watch their development based on that timeline. So, when writing Beyond Blood (actually rewriting as this was the novel in an earlier version that sat on the shelf and on the computer), I had to go back in time and be careful not to mix up the character and plot development order. With Beyond Faith, one thing I have to remember is that Bast shaved off his beard in one of the BTTP stories.

With all this in mind, how am I progressing with publicizing two books actually and writing the third?

First, as BTTP is almost two years old, I have now moved it into the “and other books published” category so any publicity for it will be tagged onto Beyond Blood. That leaves the two books.

I do what I have been doing for years with my writing, editing and teaching writing workshops – use a combination of go-with-the-flow-of-work (I may have just turned senior but I still have to earn a living) and use a Daytimer and to-do lists.

First, except for teaching day-long workshops and attending writing conferences, I don’t work weekends. (Of course I think of story ideas, plots and characters, but that’s internal work, not sitting at the computer and actually writing). Sundays I go over what needs to be done for writing, editing and workshop clients, for book writing and promotion for the next week. And I list them. I divide them up time and day-wise by marking “Mon. a.m.”, “Mon. aft.” etc. beside each. Then I transfer the items to a “to do” list in the appropriate date in my Daytimer. Except for client meets and workshop teaching dates, I don’t specify time of day.

The hope is that I will give each enough attention to move them along for the week. When I was still doing readings for BTTP that often occurred evenings. Ditto some writing workshops I teach. So, I factor that in.

And then the interruptions march in and try to take over, sometimes succeeding. Last week it was a potential new client who kept changing the time and day of our meet, sometimes making up the time. Luckily I phoned him first or I would have showed up at the right place but the wrong time. His last change-of-time was not showing up for last Friday’s appointment (by then I had moved it to my home office to save me some grief). He phoned an hour and a half after the meet time and wanted to come over to meet then. No way. I had other concerns and told him so.

I haven’t contacted him since but guess I will have to. Instead I contacted the client whose manuscript I was evaluating about my progress, finished the work and then emailed her again to set up our final meet. She knows the value of keeping appointments but she is a journalist. I also emailed another client I consult with on her writing and the other mystery author Blue Denim Press is publishing (we plan to do some joint PR – just to make life more complicated). And I managed a couple of sessions of working on Beyond Faith. I also write this weekly blog post (that ties in with book promo) and another more personal blog post Tuesdays that loosely ties in with my memoir I am finishing rewriting – but that’s another story.

Bottom line – you have to be organized, flexible and creative.

And give yourself permission to yell when something gets screwed up.
I also have a house and a garden. Today the guy from the window company is putting in three new windows. I am still after the arborist to cut down the dead silverlace and boxwood (damaged by our wicked winter) and deal with other personal stuff.
All fodder for future writing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

 

 

 

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Writing fiction as a diversion from problems

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Writing is a struggle against silence.

– Carlos Fuentes
Many writers freeze up when overloaded with problems or buried in deep depression. You don’t have to and I’m living proof.

When I was depressed for a number of years, writing was my main hold on life. The depression started as post-partum blues in the late 1970s and escalated to full-blown depression.

Disclaimer here: the psychiatrist diagnosed it as reactionary depression and some high anxiety. In other words outside events caused me to feel depressed. So, perhaps the type of depression had something to do with my ability to keep on writing. I also had a regular freelance writing gig, doing a weekly column and feature articles for one of the local newspapers. And I had a son to raise. Those were the two responsibilities that I focused on.

Not to say I didn’t fall off the wagon. But that’s another story.

I haven’t been depressed for years but I still have the high anxiety – a regular fallout from outside events. Instead of depression, I get angry. But anger makes me get going and accomplishing things. Including writing, particularly fiction.

So, how can you use your fiction writing as at least a distraction from your problems and/or your depression? Let me illustrate the ways.

1. Instead of writer’s block when you turn on your computer, write. Start by writing where the fear, where the anger is and where it leads you. This is called freefall writing. That will open up your creative juices to get to No. 2. Or you may be able to skip No. 1.

2. Start a new short story or novel chapter – or work on one already started. Force yourself to start writing. It may take a few go’s, but once you get into it, you become absorbed in what you are writing. Your characters and their concerns will fill your mind and you will connect to them so much that your problems will go behind the back burner of your mind.
3. If you want to do something about the problem, for example if someone is causing you grief and you are stymied about a solution, then write a short story loosely based on the problem. Or do as I did in one of my stories in Beyond the Tripping Point – put the infuriating person in your life into your story. And don’t make them a nice person. This particular relative had been giving me grief about something I had put in the original version of my memoir. I was so upset I wasn’t going to let her off the hook. So I used her essence, i.e., her age and appearance for one of the characters in that short story (“Gone Missing,” if you really want to know). I even had the character working in the same type of “industry” but in another capacity. And here is the crème de la crème – that character was one of the suspects who turned out to be very bad. I often mention this in my talks and readings from Beyond the Tripping Point, with the added comment, “You don’t want to tick me off.”

4. Keep a journal. Yes, I know journaling about your problems on a daily basis is nothing new. But how about doing a twist on that. Use the fiction writing angle. One way is to write the daily postings from the point of view of one of the characters in your short stories or novel. Get inside your character’s head. How would this character see and handle the problem and/or problem person? Or better still, skip your goody-two-shoes character and use a nasty one. How would your nasty character see the problem and handle it?
Using the above, you might find a possible solution to your problem. Or you might get more insight into your characters and write more fiction. At the very least, you have found a creative way, an all encompassing way, to distract you for some time from the misery in your life.
And that’s not just good for your writing; it is also good for your health.
You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.

More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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