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Tag Archives: Writers helping writers

Lessons learned from book promotion

CWC mystery writers, students, and a teacher at Richmond Green library, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

Two situations in the past couple of weeks have taught me a valuable lesson. And helped me decide where to give and how much to give.

As a somewhat senior published author (and I’m NOT referring to age here) with four books published (including one co-authored with another author and published by a different publisher than for my Beyond mysteries), I am often asked for advice on writing and publishing. Most authors in a similar position do run into this. And most of us are glad to help other authors with suggestions and the like.

But sometimes it gets frustrating. There may be too many novice authors coming at you at once and you are having difficulty finding time to do your own writing and book promo. Sometimes these authors are too persistent and  your resent it.

A wonderful experience with four other Crime Writers of Canada authors – Nanci M. Pattenden, Rosemary McCracken, Mel Bradshaw, and Cynthia St-Pierre, Aprl 23 at the Richmond Green Library in Richmond Hill, Ontario, helped me put it all in perspective. You see, most of our audience consisted of students from a couple of local high schools. These students were taking a Writing Craft Course there and they wanted to write and learn more about writing. Part of uor panel presentation – after the usual why, what and how we write and q and a, we  five provided feedback on the first sentence of a story submitted by some of the students. The idea was originally from Mel, and Rosemary and I fine-tuned it. I provided the box for the students to place (anonymously) their submissions.

But it was one student whom I interviewed after the presentation for a story I was writing for CWC Crime Time e-newsletter, that set the proverbial light bulb flashing in my head. The student isn’t yet in high school – she is in grade 8 and already a growing concern in the writing talent and writing perspective areas. She is the blond young lady peaking out from behind my left in the photo.

Contrast her with what I have come to refer to as the persistent pest I was introduced on by a mutual friend on one of my social media locations. This fellow is around my age and just self-published a book. He wanted to chat about writing and the like.

That word “chat” should have raised alarms, but it didn’t, except for me to suggest we could talk about marketing books. I set a time and day for a phone conversation, but unfortunately had to postpone because of all my book promotions commitments and doing the dreaded Income Tax returns (which are due April 30 in Canada). In an email I gave him a few suggestions he could follow if he wished. I also  suggested he go to one of the CWC events I was participating in (not the Richmond Hill library one), which he did and we talked a bit after the event. But I told  him I would be busy and not available until after May 5 and we could meet for coffee to talk after that.

Then he started emailing me with what-do-I-do questions on his follow-ups to my suggestions. Did he not read the memo correctly? So, I ignored him. I had other priorities until after May 5.

It was my experience with the students that set me straight – who to help when and remembering I am doing it for free. And when to start charging a consulting fee. Certainly I am willing to help student writers of all ages and no fees certainly for the grade school and high school ones. Certainly at public presentations or with writing groups a their meetings, groups of writer in coffee shops and pubs. Certainly when teaching workshops and courses. And of course, if anyone does want to hire me as a writing consultant in some way (and that has been done) I get paid for it.

But outside of the above parameters I have to draw some lines – especially if the one asking turns into a persistent pest.

So,  I will not meet him for coffee to chat. If that sounds harsh, that will save us both some time – he has a distance to travel to meet me. I am not leaving him in the lurch though. I did promise to talk to him and I try to keep my promises. He will be given 30 minutes of my time on the phone to answer his questions and after that I start charging my hourly rate – and I do not break up an hour – so  if it goes for 20 minutes or 50 minutes over the 30 minutes free time – it is one hour. Of course I will tell him ahead of time when he emails next week and suggest he pick one area he wants to discuss because he is all over the map with the chat about writing.

 I don’t like being pestered and pushed.

Fortunately, most writers are more considerate.

So, there is a lesson in here for both us senior authors and novice authors. Our time is valuable and we should be considerate of that with the other person.

And why after May 5?

Because on Saturday,  May 5, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. I am doing my first solo book signing at a bookstore – Coles Bookstore in The Beach area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. And I am looking forward to it and am grateful to the bookstore’ manager for letting me do this. I need to focus on doing a good job here. And having some fun, too.

 

Click on the book cover above and it wlll take you online to  my books at Indigo Books online. Coles is part of the Indigo bookstore chain.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Writing conferences help writers

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

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

This country’s crazy in terms of fame and what people think it means. They expect a writer to be something between a Hollywood starlet and the village idiot.

– Kent Haruf

Last weekend I attended the Bloody Words mystery writing conference at a hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was Bloody Words’ 13th conference since 1999, but it is also their last. Bloody you-know-what. As an author I’ve found Bloody Words to be very helpful, the other authors just as weird (we are crime writers, after all) as me. And friendly and helpful. Two years ago at Bloody Words, I received a lot of encouragement and help for my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point. And at that time it was accepted for publication by Blue Denim Press but I hadn’t yet signed the contract, although I had a copy and was reading through it. I was also rewriting some of the short stories for the publisher. From this conference, among other things, I found a book reviewer for an Ontario city newspaper, for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. and my police consultant, also a mystery novelist (police procedures from the constable’s viewpoint), Brent Pilkey. Brent helped me sort out some police procedure and crime scene difficulties in two of those not-yet-finished short stories.

Fast forward to this year’s conference. My first novel, Beyond Blood, the prequel mystery to four linked stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, is being published this fall by Blue Denim Press. This time the contract is signed and the manuscript final is with the publisher. I also moderated a panel on short stories, Are short stories the new black? which went over well – lots of positive feedback, not only from the panellists but from the audience – there was good rapport among us all during the panel discussion. And I kept us on time – my big bugaboo with running panels. But it helped that for once I didn’t have a panellist who talked too much at a time. Ditto the audience with questions and comments. Great way to share info.

But one of the big pros with this conference is another way to help a writer – in a closer way. One of my editing clients also has his first mystery novel (first published work even) being published by Blue Denim Press in the fall. The editor at Blue Denim Press is calling it Blue Murder and my client, who is also a writing colleague and friend for 18 years,  and I will be doing some publicity under the Blue Murder from Blue Denim Press “banner.” So, I introduced my colleague to many other published authors and we asked questions about PR in different areas of Canada. I introduced him to one of the Crime Writer of Canada executive and she made it her business to get him signed up for CWC – because doing readings with CWC authors at various outlets is good for exposure and we might even sell a few books. I also introduced him to the book critic at Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine who sat at the table next to us during the Saturday evening banquet. He was there with the Hammett (as in the late great mystery author Dashell Hammett – remember The Maltese Falcon?) awards also presented in conjunction with BW. He stated when he needs the books for reviews and in what format. So, he may do book reviews of our books. Also learned a few places to go in Montreal for readings, and I finally joined the Toronto branch of Sisters in Crime who are really good about promoting their author-members’ books and readings.

So all this networking and the panels (I did attend others) were also learning experiences. Among other things I learned that my short stories help other writers with the techniques in their short stories, how other authors create their characters, and had a lot of fun.

More information on Bloody Words is at http://2014.bloodywords.com/

Remember the two mystery novels coming out this October 2014 from Blue Denim Press:

Dead Wrong, a medical mystery set in Boston and Toronto by my friend and colleague Klaus Jakelski who is also a doctor in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and Beyond Blood, a mystery with the two fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture by Sharon A. Crawford. More anon on these as we get closer to the publication date.

And as a follow-up to last week’s posts on writing contests I will be posting a link each week to another writing contest. Here is this week’s, which also has a writers’ and readers’ celebration in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Word Northumberland
Saturday, October 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The writing contest is just below the celebration deets.
http://spiritofthehills.org/word-northumberland/

Meantime, 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. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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