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Monday, June 28, 2010

Marketing for Monday - Profiles

I really pushed it. It's 8:48 PM and I finally did my marketing step for the day, mainly because I wanted to to got bed, and I promised I wouldn't until I had done ONE thing to market myself.

You may consider I cheated, but I updated my blogger profile.

Think about it. If you're lucky enough to get people to come to your site intentionally, or even to trip over it, wouldn't it be great if the most recent thing listed on your profile wasn't your 1983 Editing Award for the high school newspaper?

People need to know that you're relevant now.

I looked at my profile and noticed I hadn't mentioned my upcoming ebook, "The Groom's Cake". How is anyone supposed to know about it unless I tell them? It's nice to imagine that thousands are Googling my name, hoping to find little nuggets I forgot to mention, but I doubt it.

Another thing I did today was promise to write the copy for my church's cookbook. Who cares? All of those lovely women who will talk about how I'm writing the copy, especially if it's uplifting, clever, and hopefully humorous. Every time my name gets mentioned in relation to writing, there's the possibility that someone might buy one of my books and, dare I hope, become a fan of my writing.

And I get to feel good about helping out a worthwhile fundraiser. Good karma never hurt anyone!

So what profiles do you have that you could use to your marketing advantage? Your Facebook profile? Blogger profile? Web site profile? Did I forget anything? Let me know.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Trouble With Page Counts

The only writer who finishes is the writer with a schedule and goals.

I've noticed that I can spend whole days writing and not move much farther ahead in my manuscript, so I decided to complete a set number of pages per day. It's something I can track and it moves me in one direction--forward.

That's what I thought.

I'm working on rewrites for Family Matters, and I intend to finish 10 pages per day, minimum. Here's the problem.

My manuscript needs big changes. I'm getting rid of a few ancillary characters who, though they amused me, didn't contribute to the story. So every time I come upon one of their passages, out comes the editing scalpel.

I've been working for two hours now. I started with 327 pages. I'm down to 324. And I know I've written at least three pages worth of new material.

So how do I track my pages when I'm rewriting and editing. Seriously. Any suggestions?

I suppose I could write down the word count of each passage I delete and subtract it from the starting word count. The result should give me the total numbers written per day, and divided by 250 should give me the number of pages.

I'd love a less cumbersome idea, but I haven't come up with it yet.

I'd also love to know what other writers think is a reasonable amount of time to spend writing each day.  I know it's subjective, but can anyone be productive in front of the computer for six or eight hours at a time? (Although my Farmville crops are flourishing nicely, thank you.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Setting Short Term Goals for Marketing

JA Konrath suggests doing 10 (pretty sure it's 10) things to promote yourself or your books every day. C. Hope Clark suggests shy writers do one thing every month.  I'm comfortable somewhere in between.

This week, I'm going to do one promotional act each day. That means, if it's 10 PM and I haven't done anything, I can't go to bed until I do. I'll try it for a week, starting Monday.

I can't promote my ebook yet because it's a tad late coming out, but Keith Publications is just starting up and that's when the kinks pop up, so I'm not worried.

In fact, it gives me extra time to implement a few marketing strategies I've read about in order to promote...ME! It makes me sound like an attention whore, but we authors need to get over our reticence.

The last time you got a free bookmark or chapbook or read an interview with an author, did YOU think, "Gosh. Just look at her. Weedling for attention like a love-starved puppy. Gag!"

Unless the author was going overboard, you probably didn't think much at all. You took the bookmark and figured you'd either look into the book later or you wished her luck. So don't overthink how people will see you.

One of the first things I could do to let readers know I'm out here is to offer to guest blog on sites. Stop cringing. As someone who does a group blog, I'll let you in on a secret. It's a pleasure to have someone else offer to do the writing for the week.

The trick is to lay the groundwork early.

  • If you have a blog, invite other authors to come on your site, whether through guest blogs or interviews. 
  • Link to other blogs on your site. One good turn deserve another.
  • Any time you mention another author, his book, or he site, drop a note and tell them. Many authors like to keep track of places they are mentioned on the web, and they just might refer followers to your site. It's a win-win.
Just let things develope naturally. People can tell if you're sincere, and if you are a reader and writer, why wouldn't you want to promote other books and authors?

By promoting authors through my site and through the Sisters in Crime Los Angeles Speaker's Bureau, I had made friends. I received two offers to host a guest blog the day after I posted the release of my ebook.

And if you think about it, if someone you knew was on a blog tour and they didn't ask to be on your site, wouldn't your feelings be kind of hurt? Or maybe I'm more sensitive.

Next, I can make my blog search engine friendly. How? Good question. I have the information around here somewhere and will post it next week.

Prepare a press kit. When the time comes to really market my book, I'm going to need a press kit. Already I had to scramble for a professional looking picture for Keith Publication's author site. It wasn't a great shot, but I did alright considering I lost all my photos when my computer crashed.

I'll come up with five easy things to do next week and let you know exactly how I did them and how they turned out. Sound fair?

If you can think of any quick tips on self-promotion, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll include them in my blog.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where Do Marketing Ideas Come From?

Many of my ideas on marketing myself and my books (because you really are marketing yourself) come from JA Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. I downloaded it from Kindle for $2.99 so I could access it to my heart's delight.

There are always great tips in Carolyne Howard-Johnson's newsletter, and I love her book The Frugal Book Promotor (and The Frugal Editor). Great advice!

C. Hope Clark's The Shy Writer can especially help if you're not an extrovert. (You may already receive her excellent newsletter Funds for Writers.

Check out other writer's blogs, and even websites. Many of them have sections specifically for writers filled with links, tips and advice. In fact, I will add that to my list of things to do! Update website to include a section for writers. Done.

Some examples are JA Konrath, PD James .... Actually, I found very few authors who did this! If you know of any, send them to me and I'll post them.

What would you put on For Writer's page? Links to writer friendly sites. Markets you've discovered. (Sharing markets will not make you poor! It will make you friends!) Tips. Favorite writing books.

Finally, crawl out of your cave and network with other writers! For an exchange of great ideas both in person and on yahoo lists, look for for writing groups. I belong to Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America (including the local groups) and Public Safety Writers of America. I don't see so many emails from Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, but I definitely plan to join Romance Writers of America. I've heard they are an extremely professional group of guys and gals. That goes on my list, too!

If anyon else has ideas, please share them in the comments!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What Would a Professional Do?

Seriously. I want to know what a professional author would do in my situation.

I write for 6-8 hours per day at least five days per week, and I am regularly paid for my writing. By professional I mean someone who has a book deal. Someone who makes their living off writing fiction.

A few months ago I sent a manuscript, Family Matters, to an editor. She gave me fantastic feedback and made some excellent suggestions. The original manuscript made it to the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition, so I know I have something there that may be saleable.

In one of our conversations, I mentioned that I was considering a pet psychic mystery. The editor loved the idea. It has some highly saleable elements - animals and the supernatural. And it's a high concept idea.

I came out with a first draft for the pet psychic idea, and I think it's going to be a winner.

Back to Family Matters. One of the editor's suggestions was to rewrite in first person. I fleshed out an outline implementing her excellent suggestions for the characters and story line, and it's ready to go.

I've hit a wall. I can't make it past the first two chapters. I'm not sure if it's the voice or if I'm just temporarily tired of this particular novel.

A professional writer has deadlines, and she has to be able to do the rewrites whether her muse is speaking to her or not. She just has to find a way.

Half of me thinks it would be good practice for the real world to make myself do the rewrites. Now. The other half is rooting for the psychic novel, since that might be more saleable anyway. I mean, I'm not being paid to do this yet, right? And I should work on whatever will get me through that door. Right?

I think I know what the professional writer would do. Whatever she had to do to meet her contract.

So I want to know. What do you think?

By the way, the fabulous editor is Kristen Weber .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Dear John Letter to Valencia Borders or What I Learned About Selling

Warning: Major Snark Alert

I had to go to Valencia Borders today to pick up a copy of Lost: Season 4 for the hubby. What could have been a mere annoying experience turned into material for my blog, so I'm grateful. Sort of.

By comparing my experience to that of an author at a book fair, I came up with a pretty good list of things to avoid if you want to introduce readers to your book.

When I first entered the store, a shiver ran down my spine--the same shiver you'd get if you wandered into a ghost town on foot with a dead cell phone battery.

There wasn't an employee in site. I know, because I checked upstairs and downstairs. And that brings me to my first point.

Don't chat with the vendor three tables down while potential customers pass on your book because nobody's home.

I eventually tracked down a living being behind the cashier counter. She had been off helping another customer. I'll call her Debbie, because that's what it said on her nametag. She was young and freckled with a cheery attitude. She's the herioine of this story.

I told Debbie that I needed someone to unlock the video display, and she called out to an employee who was stocking magazines. I'll call her The Dark One because she had black hair and she was mired in a muddy swamp of indifference.

The Dark One told me she'd find a mysterious "someone" to get the keys and help me, and she went back to placing new magazines in pretty rows.

Don't make your customers wait while you take care of incidental business.

While you're lining up your books and thinking, "If I can only get that cover flush with the edge of the table, I'll sell oodles of books!", your potential customer is thinking, "I really hate to buy a book and mess up her display. It seems so important to her."

I went back upstairs and waited long enough to wonder if the 40% coupon I had was worth the effort. There is a Barnes & Noble just down the street, and there is always someone in their video section ready to help me. And I get 10% off on my coffee.

The customer has options.

I went back downstairs and asked Debbie if someone, anyone, could help me. The Dark One stayed neatly hidden behind the shelves.

About five minutes later, Debbie came up. She told me she'd get the keys. She had another customer in tow who she was helping. True to her word, she returned, apologized for the delay, and released my video with her magic keys. And then she rang me up.

I didn't go to B&N because of the coupon. I knew my husband would flip if I paid full price, but my case is rare.

No one needs to spend money on your books.

Now, it's possible that The Dark One wasn't authorized to handle the magic keys. It's also possible that she suffers from a severe disorder that precludes her from mingling with customers or leaving her magazine stand.

My humble apologies to Debbie if my irritation leaked out my ears and infected her. And if you're wondering why I specified Valencia Borders, I didn't want to paint all Borders with the same brush.

I did learn one other truth.

Debbie should be running the store.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Addendum to Signature Quandary or Let Me Tell You What I Think!

Author J. Michael Orenduff reminded me of another point about signatures!

Sometimes the links we are tempted to add have nothing to do with our writing.

If I list the link to a popular agent's blog, is the reader going to remember me or the agent? I'm not signed with the agent, so it really doesn't have anything to do with me, personally. In fact, it might turn off other agents I email.

"If she likes him so much, why doesn't she query HIM?!"

Am I being "with it" or pretentious? Will people assume I'm dull if I don't have a link??

I had a friend who put "Living in the Now" at the bottom of her email signatures. This was before "The Power of Now" had become popular. (OK. So maybe it was popular before I had heard of it. I'm a little slow with trends.)

My reaction was, "What the heck does THAT mean. Am I being insulted? Because, really, if she thought I was a happening gal ALSO living in the now, why would she feel the need to comment on it?" Paranoia runs strong when information is taken out of context.

Every person who reads your email will take your clever signature comment personally.

I used to include quotes that I liked at the bottom of my signature. Some of them could have been construed as political. Then I remembered the minute I stopped watching Julia Robert's movies.

She made one of those snarky comments that only friends can appreciate, but she made it publicly. I thought, "That woman has just insulted half of her viewing audience! Not smart."

Nobody but your family cares about your views on hot topics, and, if you watch closely, you may notice that they reach for the television volume control when you start to lecture. (Hint. They aren't intending to turn it down.)

I have no idea what JA Konrath's political affiliations are. I couldn't care less what religion Charlaine Harris follows. I like it that way. It doesn't distract me from their characters.

My mother said it best when a tell-all book came out about Elvis Presley. "I don't want to hear about the real Elvis. I like Elvis. I want to remember my version of him."

So skip the links to your Top Ten Favorite Books. Post it on your Facebook site instead. The same goes for your Obama/Bush comments, your Tea Party/Al Frankin links, and your favorite religious/agnostic quote.

Let people discover your writing and fall in love with your characters. Don't get in the way!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Introducing J. Michael Orenduff

You've just finished a great book and now you feel a little sad. What will you read next? You're favorite author A. won't have another book out for a year B. is long dead and you've already read her books...twice.

I love discovering new authors, especially those who have written books that deserve the same attention as the best-sellers out there but are still under the radar for some reason or other.

I've read the authors I recommend, so you won't have to pick up a book cold and wonder if you're in for the ride of your life or another wasted afternoon. It's my little gift to you.

That brings me to J. Michael Orenduff. I discovered his "Pot Thief" series through another fine author I know, MM Gornell. For those who are worried about content, the pots referred to in the titles are artifcats, not marijuana.

Each book centers around pot thief Herbie Shuze. Herbie's technically a thief because the Archeological Resources Protection Act turned treasure hunters into law breakers. Herbie doesn't have the nerve to be a real thief...unless it's for a good cause.

Orenduff also weaves a scientific theory into each book. The first novel is "The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagorus", and the second is "The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy".

Before you shriek, "Science, ewwww!", Orenduff weaves each theory throughout the story in an entertaining way that is the envy of high school science teacher's. You won't need a dictionary to make it through the book. I promise.

His characters are fun, and he resists making Herbie's best friend, permenent college student Susannah, into a love interest. Wise move. We get to enjoy their clever interplay without worrying if sex will ruin the series. (Remember when Moonlighting stopped being funny?)

I interviewed Orendoff for Writers in Residence and you can read it here.

Both books in the series were great reads, and I look forward to the release of "The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein".

If forced to catagorized them, I would say his books are traditional mysteries with humor. You won't be grossed out. You won't be bored. You might be hungry and find yourself longing to see the beauty of New Mexico.

If you want to get a feel for his writing style (and I always check that out before I buy a book) his website includes excerps from his released books and those waiting for release.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Help! My Email Signature is Too Long!

With my ebook, "The Groom's Cake", scheduled for release on June 19th, I'm naturally focused on marketing and publicity.

One of the first steps I've seen listed in several marketing books is to use your email signature to provide links to your website, etc. It's the etc. that I'm worried about.

I blog on a group blog, Writers in Residence. It's fairly established and has a history, so that should be the blog I show in my signature, right? What about A Writer's Jumble? It's new, there's not much content yet, but it is my own. The other writers in my group might decide to become hair dressers, and then where will I be?

I'll list them both.

It goes without saying that I should list my website.

Should I include a link to the "books coming soon" page at Keith Publications to promote the ebook?

I'm up to four links now. Here's what my signature looks like.


Jacqueline Vick

At the insurance agency where I used to work, there was an agent who had many designations. She earned them all and should be proud of them. However, every time I saw her signature on correspondance, I laughed. She had no less than six designations listed after her name. It became a running joke. I don't want to be a joke.

I've decided to limit the links in my signature to my website. From there, anyone can get to my blog. They can also see that my ebook is coming out and click on the link to the publisher's site. (Once I get it set up.)

It's neat and clean, and it won't overwhelm the recipient.

I will have to figure out how to incorporate both of my blogs into my various profiles. I set them up under different emails. But that's for another post.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Now is NOT the Time to be Shy!

I recently went to Facebook and saw an advertisement on the page border that caught my eye. I've since learned never to click on these ads from a friend who spent days getting rid of some virus or other after doing just that. But I was young and naive and lucky.

This ad was for a book--"Royce O'Rourke - Realtor!" The book description sounded delicious. The plot included a Million Dollar Brotherhood, a Catholic Priest, and Zombies--my kind of humor! It's available on Kindle if you're interested.

I really wanted to interview author Robert E. Eltzholtz for my blog and find out more about advertising online as he did and if it worked for him.

I clicked on his name on Amazon. No contact information.

I went to the web site. No contact information.

I found him on Facebook. No contact information.

Not only that, but he didn't have author bio information posted anywhere! So nobody knows anything about Robert, the author.

Ironically, on his Facebook page, Robert wondered why no one had contacted him.

I didn't have time to keep searching LinkedIn which would have meant finding my password, and I really believe that a lot of people wouldn't have made as much effort as I did.

I'll still check out the book because I'm curious, but Robert just missed some free publicity and another opportunity to show up on Google searches.

If you're shy about releasing information on the web, make up a funny bio. Go to hotmail and set up an account that is specifically for strangers to contact you about your book.

If anyone out there knows Robert, put him in touch with me. I can be reached at jacquelinevick@hotmail.com .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What This Blog is About

I love writing. I love to discover new writers and books. I love to learn, and I love to share.

Blogs should have something to offer the reader, and here’s what I intend to offer you.

I’m a voracious reader, and by working with the Speakers Bureau for Sisters in Crime Los Angeles, I’m in a position to discover new writers—writers who may not be on the bestseller list, but should be. Writers who aren’t house hold names but have something to offer. Some are genius at description, other’s make characters come to life. Many are laugh out loud, since that’s what I enjoy.

Until a year or two ago, I enjoyed my Agatha Christie’s and other Golden Age detectives. I didn’t care for contemporary authors. Or so I thought.

When I made a concerted effort to start reading “the competition” as it were, I found out that my prejudices were depriving me of some great books. Since then, I’ve devoured many novels--mostly mysteries--sometimes three per week.

Not only do I study the craft, but I’ve found new authors to add to my “to read” list. While I could with pleasure reread “Murder at the Vicarage” again, it’s nice to have something new to look forward to.

For those of you who write, don’t you find an overwhelming amount of information about writing and marketing? You have to pick and choose, but how can you know without trying it what will work best for your book?

I intend to try various techniques and then let you know how it turned out for me. I’ll share my successes and my mistakes, and hopefully save you some time.

That’s what this blog is about. I would love to hear from you about what’s worked for you…and what hasn’t. Sharing is a wonderful thing.

Now, who the heck am I?

I primarily focus on mysteries. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Public Safety Writers Association. I also write Children’s books and belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

I have children’s book, Logical Larry, available at Lulu.com or Amazon.

My article about pet psychics appeared in the April 2010 issue of Fido Friendly Magazine.

My short story, The Membership Drive, is in the Best of Every Day Fiction Two Anthology.

My novella, The Groom’s Cake, comes out June 19th through Keith Publications. It’s an ebook, an area I’m very excited about.

I’ve been published by magazines and e-zines such as Orchard Press Mysteries, Dark Reveries, Cantaraville II, Scruffy Dog Review, to name a few.

Like many of you, I have a lot on my plate. Here’s the status: My Pet Psychic mystery is a first draft. My mystery Family Matters is in rewrites after a thorough review by an editor. My mystery The Body Guy is under review by a publisher. I have a Father Brown style mystery that I’m thinking through. I have two picture books that are waiting on illustrators. I have a Young Adult book in first draft stage. I’ve interview a Law of Attraction coach and I think I have several articles there. And that’s off the top of my head.

What’s on your plate?