March 15, 2017

New Contract for New Book Means More Work!

But, I find all the little things that come after the writing even harder. In fact, most writers will tell you that the creation of the story, the evolution of the characters, the movement of the plot, all spell great fun and are full of surprises. Of course, it’s hard to sit down every day at your computer and make yourself get started. But, once you do, inevitably things just roll. That’s what keeps us going.

It’s edited and edited some more. It’s been read by Beta readers, corrected, massaged and clipped and nipped. Out it goes to the publisher.

Now, we sit back and wait. While waiting, I’m usually working on a new manuscript. Often it takes several months for the contract to come through. Never one to waste time,  I’m creating new stories, new characters and new plots. Then one day the contract lands in my inbox. Yikes! I’d forgotten all about that story. I’ve been so engrossed in my current Work in Progress or (WIP) as writers call it.

With my mind whirling, I put aside the WIP and begin plowing through the new tasks. Tasks I consider harder than writing the novel:

  • Your publisher wants to know what you’d like the book cover to look like. What do you, as the author who knows the story, suggest. Yes, I’m the author, but I’m no artist! I struggle to answer the questions and to find sample book covers that I like. All the while I recognize how very important the book cover is.
  • Next, your publisher wants a blurb, a 200 word description of your book that captures the reader’s attention. It’s what will go on the “back jacket.” It’s gotta grab. It tells the story without giving too much away. Work on my book blurbs takes as much time as writing the novel itself. I run it by potential readers for feedback. I write, re-write, sweat, and ponder.
  • If that’s not enough, you publisher then asks you for a logline. This is a 20-word single sentence that captures the essence of your 82,000 word book! OMG. Can you imagine doing that? Moreover, this logline must also attract readers. So, it has to be catchy and fit your genre. I won’t tell you how long it takes me to write the logline. In fact, I’m still struggling with that part.

So, if you think writing your novel is hard, just wait. It gets even harder once the novel is finished!

I got my contract from MuseitUp Publishing last week for A Painting to Die For: Jenna Scali Mystery Series Book 3.

Why Genre is So Important in Today’s Amazon World

What I mean is in the past, we could browse the shelves of our favorite book store for potential reads. We’d skim the authors and the titles. Then we might wander over to another group of shelves.

We had access to all the shelves. That made browsing really a browse. Today, if we shop online for our books, browsing becomes more difficult.

If you tried, you’d probably never get anywhere. It’s almost impossible to browse all the books in a genre. I tend to be a shopper who is easily overwhelmed. It there’s too much out there, I don’t buy. I like a few choices or an opportunity to browse a few choices. Amazon, no matter how much we love the convenience and the service, will never be able to create that kind of browsing opportunity.

Of course, Amazon is trying hard to do so. You’ll see on your Amazon page, readers who looked at this book also looked at… Amazon also suggests books based on your browsing or purchasing habits. The problem is these hints often miss the mark. I shop for everyone in my family. If I purchase a heavy history tome for my husband, that doesn’t mean I want to read heavy history tomes myself. Furthermore, I’m often using Amazon for “research.” I’m looking for titles that may fit with something I’m writing. That doesn’t mean that’s the kind of book I want to read.

Here is where genre comes in. Genre has always been important. We as writers must identify our genre so readers will know what we are writing. In the past if we spilled over into another genre, the book store had to decide where to place our book.Once they did so, that book appeared on the shelf in that genre. But, my book might still be found by other readers because book store browsers can wander throughout the store.

For example, my first book The Clock Strikes Midnight is not a typical mystery. Some might say it was a suspense family saga; others might call it literary fiction; still others might call it Southern fiction. I had to place it in a particular genre, and I chose mystery. Fortunately most of my readers agree that it is a general mystery versus a whodunit. Nonetheless, the book also has elements of the other genres listed. I cannot remove it from the shelf of mystery, but I can add the other genre names when it appears on Amazon.

Identifying the genre of a book will place a book somewhere in the book cyber world. Giving it alternative genre or sub-genre will even better identify it. These are extremely important decisions. Some say if you select a limited genre, for example, Southern cozy mystery with a female sleuth, you will have a better chance to getting notice on Amazon.

The closer the target, the better the chance of finding that audience among all the millions of books and thousands of shelves a book store like Amazon offers.

What are your experiences with genre?

Twitter or Facebook–A Good Place for Writers to Hangout?

This is no easy task. It takes time and dedication. In the end, however, it’s worth the trouble.
Confused Business Man

One of the choices writers must make is to decide which social medium gives them the best visibility. In the past a writer need only get their book published. The publisher took care of getting the word out to the right audiences. The publisher sent the book out for reviews. Nowadays, the writer must do most of the work.

But, which medium offers the best bang for the buck. In other words, do you spend your precious time on Twitter or on Facebook or elsewhere? And how much time is enough?

Here are some tips for hanging out on Twitter.

  • Visit Twitter often. Post at least ten tweets a day. If you visit less often, you lose momentum.
  • Look at other people’s tweets. If you like what someone else is tweeting, retweet or like the tweet. This helps you connect with the other person.
  • Do not fall into the trap of buying followers. You want to attract followers who are interested in what you have to say. Just having a big number isn’t enough. You want quality followers. Otherwise you waste a lot of time tweeting to people who really don’t care about your books.
  • Build your following by looking at the suggested followers Twitter provides. Take a look at the person, how many followers do they have and how many people are they following? Does that person have similar tastes to yours? If the person has similar tastes but is following more people than follow them back, they are not a great choice. If, on the other hand, they follow fewer people but many are following them, they might be a better choice. Use your discretion here. People who have many followers but rarely follow back may also be a bad choice.
  • Interact with your following. Check out websites of those people who interest you and DM them. I personally do not like auto responders when I follow someone. It feels false. Instead, DM people personally when you see someone following you that piques your interest.

Tips for Hanging Out on Facebook.

  • Like Twitter, you must post on your Facebook author page at least ten times in a day. Unlike Twitter, you must include a photo.

    If you simply post a link, you may only get 10-12 views. Photos receive 50-100 views or more.

  • It’s harder to increase your following on Facebook than it is on Twitter. For some reason it takes much longer. Again, I do not recommend buying likes. Facebook frowns on doing this as well. You want to focus and target your audience. The more targeted you are, the more likely you’ll increase the number.
  • Try purchasing a Facebook ad for greater visibility. I wouldn’t do this often, but it’s not too costly to boost your more important posts on occasion.
  • Develop short posts. Whenever your post goes over one sentence, you lose readers. You can add a link. But, make the words compelling enough for people to want to click on that link.
  • Interact with your following. I don’t get nearly as many notifications on Facebook as I do on Twitter. But, I still try to pay attention to them by replying to their actions.

More people interact with me on Twitter. My following grows more readily. That doesn’t mean I ignore Facebook, it just means, I use it less.

What about you? Where do you get the most tractions? Twitter or Facebook? What tips do you have to help build interactions?

Take a look at this book trailer. It’s gotten over 400 views on YouTube.

Writers Using Scrivener or Not?–Pros and Benefits

This is a writing tool designed to help organize the unfocused, creative minds of writers. I wonder how F. Scott Fitzgerald or Faulkner might have responded to something like Scrivener? My initial reaction was it would take me too long to learn the tool. Precious time away from writing, right?scrivenerfinal1_400x400

I resisted for several years. Finally, while attending a writers conference, I said to another writer, “What do you think of Scrivener?” The person answered quickly. “I love it.” Okay, so what was I missing here?

First of all, Scrivener is designed for all kinds of writing, fiction, nonfiction, screen plays and more.

That makes it hard to figure out what may or may not work for you. When I first went onto Scrivener, I had a book written in Word. I tried to convert it to Scrivener. That didn’t work very well.

The best way to use Scrivener is in the creation phase–before you have a document created on your computer. I learned a few other tips as well.

In fact, be sure to look at the one on getting started. If you resist doing this, then don’t use Scrivener.

It will be tempting to use the template for your kind of writing, whether you’re writing a novel or an academic book. But, those templates are too limiting.

Do not venture into more difficult territory.

What are some benefits of using Scrivener versus your word processing software?

You will never lose your work. Yippee! That’s huge. If your computer crashes, everything you’ve done that day on Scrivener is saved.

I caught myself naming a character and several paragraphs down I used a different name. There’s a sidebar on Scrivener (the Inspector), where you can note a new character’s name, occupation, hair color, whatever you need.

Instead of cutting and pasting, you simply move one section up or back or sideways as you wish. You can always put things back just as easily.

Scrivener has a great feature that lets you take a photo of a section you might be planning on revising entirely. It saves the old as you create the new. You can combine or revert back as you wish.

I’ve clearly not done everything with Scrivener. But, I’m learning as I go. Give it a try. It might open and entire new world for you and actually make your writing easier.

What are your thoughts on Scrivener or other writing tools?

What Does It Take to Get The Word Out About Your Book?

bigstockphoto_Woman_With_Hand_To_Ear_Listeni_209983My books are not self-published. I say that right off the bat because there are many things I cannot control. Self-published authors have an advantage in many ways I do not. Here are some examples:

  1. They control the price of their books and thereby the specials that are run.
  2. They select the key words on Amazon and can change and update them as needed.
  3. They have good sales information. They can track what is working and what isn’t.

Given these limitations, those of us who are traditionally published still can do a lot of things to get the word about about hour books.

If you don’t have a website, get one. People want to see more about the author than your name. Make sure your website is professional but has some personal information. Include a blog. Many writers use blogspot which enables them to have a blog and a website all in one. You should blog regularly. Think about things you can share about being a writer or about reading in general. Share posts from other websites and invite other authors to guest post or to visit your site for an interview.

Select the social medium or media you want to focus on, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or something else. If you post on any of those, do so regularly, like every day. I post ten updates, tweets a day on four networks, including Google+ and LinkedIn. These posts should include all kinds of things, not just promotions about your book. People want to get to know you before they start investing in you. These days it takes a long time for that to happen.

You can’t promote your work in the articles, but your bio will include all your books. If you write investing, intriguing, professional articles, you’ll attract interested readers to your website and to your books.

Mine goes out once a month. I keep it simple but include lots of tips for writers and for readers. I want it to be interesting but not inundate my community with too many emails. I know what that’s like! This e-newsletter should go to everyone in your community, including the people who sign-up on your website (and there should be a sign-up and a giveaway there) and the people in your LinkedIn community.

Most publishers have a Facebook page, a website with shopping opportunities, and a Twitter account. Be sure to post on these sites. Your publisher has many writers. You only have one. This activity will increase the eyes on your content. That’s the goal after all, right?

My Interview with David Alan Binder–Full of Writing Tips

DSC_0003_4x6Joan Curtis interview with David Alan Binder

Joan’s Bio from her website (shortened):  Joan is an award-winning writer who has published 7 books and numerous stories. In her mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, we meet Janie Knox, a tormented young woman who escaped her home and family after a jury convicted her stepfather of killing her mother. Her second mystery e-Murderer is the first in a series, starring Jenna Scali, a fairly normal young woman who happens to run into dead bodies. Again, this book captures the imagination of readers with all its twists and turns. The second in the Jenna Scali mystery series, Murder on Moonshine Hill, features Jenna and her friends at a quiet wedding in the mountains of North Carolina. All goes well until everything turns deadly with the discovery of a corpse.

Joan’s books have won awards. The Clock Strikes Midnight won FIRST PLACE in Royal Palm Literary awards for Mainstream/Literary fiction and the Silver Medal in the Global eBooks Awards for 2015. The e-Murderer won FIRST PLACE in the Malice Domestic Grants Competition for new writers and the GOLD for mystery in the Global eBook Awards for 2016. (website) (blog)

Goodreads Author’s page

Amazon Author’s page

Twitter page

Facebook Author page

MuseItUp Publishing Author page

1.  Where are you currently living (at least the state or if outside US then Country)?

I live in Athens Georgia—A university town.

2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

There is little that’s predictable. My stories unfold as I write them. The    publishing process changes daily. Writers must be flexible and persistent.

 3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk? 

My mind goes faster than my fingers on the keyboard. So, when I re-read what I’ve written, I’ve often left out words or written something that totally doesn’t make sense.

4.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

[Tweet “I appreciate the support of a publisher #authorinterview” David Alan Binder] In my view if you’ve written a book     that is worth publishing, you can find a publisher. It’s not easy and the big name publishers are very hard to break into as a new writer, but the small   publishers offer a good alternative. I would only suggest self-publishing if the purpose of your book is marketing a business. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they? My fiction publisher is MuseItUp Publishing, Pierrefonds, Que. Canada. My nonfiction publisher is Praeger Press, Santa Barbara, California

5.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing? 

All my fiction books came out first as e-books and were later published in print. My publisher holds the rights to do that. The problem with having just e-books is that they cannot be signed. Often I want to do giveaways of signed copies or book signings. Clearly print books are necessary. The problem with just having a print book and no e-book is the cost. Most people do not want to pay print book prices for an unknown author. Some people only read on print and others only by e-book. It’s best to have both!

6.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?   

The first bit of advice is something you’ll hear from many writers. [Tweet “Keep sending the book out even in the face of multiple rejections #authorinterview” David Alan Binder] That doesn’t mean writers do not pay attention to rejections and the comments made. Revising all the time is critical. But, we must continue to persevere in the face of rejection.

I also suggest going to the small publishers. Researching them and finding         one that fits your genre. Skip going to an agent. Agents are as difficult to     snare as the large publishing houses. And, in this day with the internet giving   writers access to so much information, agents are becoming less and less important.

7.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I don’t have an agent, and I really do not see the need for one. My publisher is very generous with her authors. I read the contract myself and understand the terms. Most intelligent writers can do that. If you happen to write a blockbuster, the agents will come looking for you.

8.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?  

. I give it away on my website for signing up. (

Generally, though, my first suggestion to new fiction writers is to finish the book. There is no use looking for publishers or agents until the book is finished. If you are writing a nonfiction book, you must write a very  complete book proposal before you explore publishers or agents. (Agents are really unnecessary for nonfiction writers).

My second suggestion is to spend a lot of time re-writing your book. Put together a group of Beta readers who can give you honest feedback (not your spouse or your kids). You may have to pay some of these readers. It’s worth it. Once you get the feedback, go back and re-write. The manuscript must be polished and honed as best you can get it before you send it out.

My third suggestion is once you get your book published, you must take responsibility for getting the word out. You cannot count on your agent or publisher to do that for you. If you can afford to hire a publicist, great, but most of us cannot. You must build a platform through blogging and tweeting   and then tell that platform about your books. I didn’t do that with my first          nonfiction book. I expected the publisher to market it for me. I needn’t tell you, it didn’t sell too many copies!

9.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

For nonfiction, I found the writing less inspiring. I wrote facts and conveyed information almost as if I were teaching a class. There was little opportunity for creativity—nonetheless I did create examples to spice up my books.

I’m what is called a pantser fiction writer. That means, I do not rely     heavily on an outline. I learned early on that if I let my mind go, almost in a trance-like state, characters will emerge, take on personalities and sometimes take over the story. This is quite surprising when it happens, but it’s also    wonderful. Writers cannot force this and some writers never experience this process. I am fortunate that I experienced it early in my writing.

10.  How many books have you written?

I have written and published 4 nonfiction books, all published by Praeger Press out of California. I have also written and published 3 mysteries. I have a new one that will go      to the publisher in January 2017. Each of these have been published by   MuseItUp Publishing.  I spend my time now writing fiction.

11.   Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? 

Notice what you like to read and what works for you. The more you read the better writer you’ll become. But beyond this, writers must learn the craft of writing. Learn how to write dialogue. How to create scenes. How to develop a worldview. I have a number of tips and suggestions for writing suspense and mystery on my blog, But, I also suggest that writers find blogs that help them improve their skills. There is much more to writing than simply putting a pen to paper.

12.    Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? 

This is a very tough question. All my books have unique twists and turns. My best response to this question is to let your imagination go. Because I don’t write from an outline (in fiction writing), my characters will come up with interesting twists that even I hadn’t thought about. But, I do know that for me, the best thing is to put the book aside and to do something else. For example, with The Clock Strikes Midnight, I had reached a place that felt like a wall. Something had to happen but I didn’t know what. I put the book aside and went for a swim. While swimming, the answer came to me. Many times the answer comes at night while sleeping or on a walk. Getting away from the work is the best way to allow your subconscious to play with ideas and come up with amazing twists.

Let me add one caution. Don’t write twists just to write twists. Your twists must feel natural to the reader. Otherwise the reader feels betrayed. I recently read a book where it became clear to me the author simply        wanted to surprise the reader. As a reader, it felt contrived.

13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd? 

In The Clock Strikes Midnight (a stand alone mystery/suspense), the main characters are two sisters. Their interaction as well as their bond is what make the story different. Furthermore, there is a southern charm to the book that many readers have enjoyed.

The mystery series (e-Murderer and Murder on Moonshine Hill) debut two characters—Jenna, the main amateur sleuth, and her sidekick, Quentin. The two play off each other in a unique and fun way. Readers not only enjoy the suspense and the inherent mystery, but they also enjoy the humor and the realistic portrayal of these characters.

All my books are set in the south with southern speaking characters. This isn’t necessarily unique, but it adds a certain charm to the pages.

14.  What are some ways in which you promote your work? 

I have promoted my work through the social media in the following ways: 1) Blog tours where reviews and excerpts appear on blogs for a period of time 2) Tweeting daily about my books and about other books of a similar genre 3) Facebook groups and a Facebook author’s page.

I’ve entered contests and gone to conferences to receive rewards for my books. The Clock Strikes Midnight has won three major awards    including First place Royal Palm Literary Award and e-Murderer won the GOLD for the global e-book awards.

In more traditional ways, I’ve appeared at book festivals for book signings. The Decatur Book Festival is one of the largest in the country. I appeared there last year. I’ve also appeared in small bookstores for book signings.

15.  What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why? 

I spent a lot of money on promoting my first fiction release. I regret two things I did: Join NetGalley and hire a publicist. Both of these things cost a lot of money and were not worth the expense. NetGalley produced some reviews, but not enough to justify the cost. The publicist did a lot for my book, but not enough to make up for the cost.

Another place where I spent too much on the first book was the creation of a book trailer. I made the mistake to contract with real actors. The cost was extremely high even though I produced a very professional book trailer. For the second book I created a book trailer more cheaply, using standard images off the Web. Overall, I’m not sure readers look at book trailers, nor if     they have any impact on sales. For my third book, I decided not to create a  trailer.

Be careful to pick and chose how you spend money on promoting your   book. You will have to spend some (blog tours), but I learned that the less    spent the better.

16. What saying or mantra do you live by? 

If you set your mind to something, give it all you’ve got, concentrate on it and you will succeed!

17. Anything else you would like to say? 

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to these questions. I hope my answers help some writers, and I hope some of your readers will join me on my blog and become part of my community.

Books on Amazon:


Clock Strikes Midnight

e-Murderer: Jenna Scali Mystery Book 1

Murder on Moonshine Hill: Jenna Scali Mystery Book 2


Hire Smart and Keep ‘em

The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media

Managing Sticky Situations at Work

Strategic Interviewing: Skills and Tactics for Savvy Interviewers

Share here.

What is the Bane of Your Writing Existence?

The things that make them want to pull their hair out and wish for another career. Instead, they’ll say what fun it is to create worlds and people and stories. And, yes, that’s fun. But there are things that might be called the bane of a writer’s existence. Otherwise wouldn’t even more people be writing books?

So, what is the bane of your writing existence?

Here are some things that I’ve found more troublesome:Man Looking At Computer In Desperation

First and foremost the marketing that goes with writing and producing a book. Talk about bane of existence! It’s not only frustrating but it can be very expensive. A publicist could cost as much as $8000 a month! Imagine that for books that sell for $2.99 or less.

Second is hearing your friends say something like, “Did you notice on page 29 you left out ‘and’?” or “I wrote down all the typos I found for you.” Geez. Can anyone possibly think this kind of feedback is helpful? If you are a Beta reader and  asked to pick out errors, yes. But, after the book is out there either in print or as an ebook, please do not tell me about the errors you found.

Third is writing the full scene when the characters want to go off and do something else. This happens more frequently than readers might imagine. We are not finished with a scene, but the characters are done. Writers must pull the characters back and force them to finish that scene before we move to the next. For me, this seems stiff and it’s hard.

Those are three things I find troubling as a writer.

Writers Helping Writers

bigstockphoto_African_And_Caucasian_Fingers__4307946Before I published my first novel, I contacted two previously published authors. One told me he never read another writer’s work. The other refused to help me in any way. I found these responses both disheartening and sad. Why is it writers refuse to help newbies? How are newbies ever going to break through without a helping hand?

I understand some reasoning behind the refusal. The seasoned writer doesn’t want to be inundated with manuscripts to read. And, of course there’s the worry or fear that someone might be accused of stealing someone else’s idea. That was actually expressed by one of the writers. But, it’s my contention that writers can help other writers and serve as mentors.

  • Do not ask a writer to speak on your behalf to their publisher or agent. If the writer wants to do that, they will volunteer doing so.
  • Do not ask a seasoned writer to read your entire manuscript. You could ask them to read a chapter and give you some feedback or to read your synopsis
  • Ask general questions regarding the publishing business. How did you find your agent? Is an agent necessary? What does your agent do for you?
  • Ask general submission questions. What do I send to the publisher? What format is commonly used? Do I send a query or do I send more?
  • Do ask about contests and conferences and ways to get your work noticed on the worldwide web. What contests should I enter? Is it worth it to pay a fee to enter a contest? How many people do I need to have a platform? How do I create a platform?
  • What about writer groups and Beta readers. Which ones do I join? How do I find Beta readers? What is your process of early reading and editing?
  • Ask them to tell you about their journey. How did they break into the business?
  • Ask how you can support the seasoned writer. If you have a platform, you can shout out the writer’s new book. Or, you could offer to read and review the helpful writer’s work.

Of course, I did all this when I approached the two writers mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, they turned their backs on me. This will happen. Recognize that some writers are not inclined to help others. Move on. Find another more helpful person.

I read a number of posts where writers share their experiences. The best ones I’ve found (besides mine!) is The Kill Zone–I read this one regularly and tweet it often. Several writers contribute. The other is Live Write Thrive. This one is more technical. But, again, writers share their experiences.

Maybe as time passes, more writers will help other writers. When they do, everyone benefits, particularly the readers.

What suggestions do you have to help writers be more forthcoming with newbies?



What Are Beta Readers and How to Find Them?

Book WomanOkay, so you’ve finished your first draft. You’ve done everything you can with it. You’ve read it and re-read it to the point of total exhaustion. In fact you’ve gone over it so many times, that you’re not sure you’re reading the words on the page or if you have the pages memorized. What’s next?

These are people willing to read your manuscript and give you honest, constructive criticism. They are not people who will read your manuscript and say, “It’s wonderful,” without elaboration. Of course it’s wonderful. You’ve been working on it for months. You need to know more than a gut reaction to your story.

Betas are tests–trying out a test product, for example. The product is tested before going to market. Your book is no different. These are the things Beta readers can help you with:

  1. Does the story make sense. Is the plot clear? Or are you jumping around?
  2. What did you leave out? Maybe you forgot that you told a character you’d call him in an hour. Things happened and you forgot all about it. Your readers won’t. Beta readers catch these kinds of slip-ups.
  3. Does the reader feel in the place. In other words, have you created a believable setting?
  4. Are your characters acting “in character”? You haven’t had your shy character do something bold without good reason.
  5. Obvious typos that you’ve read over a million times.
  6. Timeframe. Could something happen within this time period. Did you mess up the timeframe? Maybe the story began on a Tuesday. How many days later did things happen? Is it still Tuesday?
  7. Are there too many characters? Have you introduced the people in your story well enough for your readers to keep them straight?
  8. Does the story grab the reader? If so, when? The first page, the second chapter?
  9. Is the ending satisfactory? Did you tie everything together?

They are reading to help you tweak and polish your story. Finding people willing to read a 300+ manuscript and answer all these kinds of questions isn’t easy. Here are some tips for finding Beta readers:

Tip #1: Other writers. We depend on each other. Each reads the other’s works. It’s a trade-off.

Tip #2: Find people who you trust will give you constructive criticism. They are not afraid of hurting your feelings. You want tough Beta readers.

Tip #3: Good editors make good Beta readers. If you know someone who edits other things, articles, nonfiction works, academic theses, these people often enjoy reading a novel as a change of pace and would welcome being one of your Beta readers.

Tip #4: Don’t rely on one reader. You need at least two and possibly three Beta readers. Too many will confuse you. Everyone has an opinion and often those opinions vary. But, if three readers tell you the same thing, that is something you should note.

Tip #5: If you don’t pay your Beta readers (there are some people who charge a small fee), then do something nice for them. Take them to coffee or out for a glass of wine to show your appreciation.

Tip #6: Acknowledge your Beta readers in your Acknowledgements in your final book. People love to see their name in print. Give them that bit of glory for all their hard work.

These are my tips for finding Beta readers. What are some of yours? Do you have Beta readers?

My newest book Murder on Moonshine Hill releases in one month. Check out the latest reviews here. I thanked my three Beta readers in the Acknowledgements. I couldn’t have written such a polished finished product without their help.


Marketing My New Book–Do’s and Don’t Tips

As I begin the process of marketing the launch of my third book, I look at what I did right and wrong with the previous two launches.

To get your book out there before readers you must do it yourself. And this is a very daunting task. Worse than writing the book. Much worse. Many an author will tell you they enjoyed the process of creating their work of fiction. They will also tell you they dislike the selling and marketing. That goes against the nature of an artist.file4661306949432

Nonetheless we must bite the bullet and get our books before the audience. Here are some tips I learned from my first two efforts.

They do. But there are problems with getting reviews for your books. First, Amazon will not approve reviews if they think they’re from family or friends. I won’t go into how ridiculous that is but it’s an Amazon decision we authors must live with. Second, people will say they will review your books but they don’t. Begging and pleading won’t get more reviews. Third, if you use review services, you will send out many free books but only a handful of the people will review your book. Given all this, we must continue to ask for, beg and plead to get reviews any way we can.

It’s okay to have a Facebook author’s page, but all the groups where marketing is allowed are inundated with shout outs about new books. Most people delete them or never see them.

We did a Facebook Launch for my first book. We spent time, money and a lot of effort to launch the book with a lot of hoop-la on Facebook. Few people came and fewer still bought books. The good part of the experience was it was fun to do. But we decided against it for the second launch.

Much less chat. We tired it but again, it was a lot of time, effort and headaches for little result.

That’s a great way to keep the ball rolling. I’m not sure if it sells books, but at least it keeps your name out there. You should tweet 10 times minimum a day with only 2-3 tweets about your book. I schedule posts on four social sites throughout the work week. I can do them ahead of time. It’s a great way to stay in front of audiences and to create new audiences. Be sure to include LinkedIn because a number of people will see your updates there.

There are several types of blog tours. I’ve participated in a couple of tours with two different companies. The most basic blog tour is where bloggers promote your book or review your book or post an excerpt of your book. This is a good way to get different bloggers to see your work and broaden your audience. Be sure to check out the various book tour sites. It costs anywhere from $200 to $400 for a full-blown tour. I’ll share tips on blog tours in a later post.

This is another way to build your audience and also get reviews. You can get as many as 8 new reviews on a blog review tour. Again, there’s a fee to the company and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a good review.

This time I’m going to try a Cover Reveal tour with a tour company. My hope is to build interest in the second book in my mystery series. I wouldn’t recommend doing a Cover Reveal for a stand-alone book or the first book in a series. But, when you’ve got a second book, you can create interest and post links to the first book for readers to take immediate action.

Those are my current tips. As I learn more, I’ll post more.

BTW, I did invest in book trailers for both my books. Not sure I will on the third. I spent too much money on the first one, less on the second one. The reality is book trailers are nice but not worth the extra cost. Check out this one–the one that cost too much!