Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Email List Etiquette

keyboard-smallCrime writers and readers have been discussing the proper etiquette for collecting e-mail addresses for a newsletter or new-release announcement. Some readers are quick to say that any unsolicited communication is spam and will turn them away from a writer forever. Ouch! Read more

Eugene Crime Lab

I finally visited the Eugene Police Department’s crime lab. Criminologist Jason Petersen gave me a two-hour crash course in processing evidence. I heard a lot of chemical terms that, fortunately, I have on my recording, because they didn’t stick in my brain. I learned that what real evidence technicians (versus the CSI kind) spend most of their time doing is processing latent fingerprints and watching/editing surveillance videos. Here’s the photo highlights.

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The Gift

happy-birthdayToday I am 50.

If you only knew how hard that was to say. I’ve struggled to get my brain around this number for weeks now. I thought for a while if I never actually said it out loud, no one would know, and I could keep up the illusion that I was still in my late forties, which sounds so much nicer. But’s that crap. Read more

Blogathon! Be AFRAID!


Mystery/suspense/horror novelist Jack Kilborn (aka J.A. Konrath) stops in today to evaluate his experience with a blog tour promoting his latest release, AFRAID. I’ve seen reviews on the mystery list servs and they’re all great. Several people have said, “I don’t usually read horror, but I couldn’t put this book down.” I started it yesterday and am having the same experience. Very compelling!

Meanwhile, Joe has been on a nonstop blog book tour for 27 days, hitting multiple blogs each day. Few authors could keep up that kind of pace, but Joe is not your average guy. Now we find out if it’s been worth the effort.

You said earlier that you won’t know how successful the blog tour has been until you see your Amazon sales on April 1st. Did you set goals before you started? What kind of numbers will make you happy?
All authors have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, because it is the only way we can immediately view the results of our self-promotional efforts. If you do something on the Internet, and your Amazon ranking goes up, obviously some people just bought some books.
But Amazon ranks are confusing, and are far from hard science. The only way you truly know how you’re doing is when you get a royalty statement. If, in April, AFRAID is ranked higher than 20,000 on Amazon, I’ll be happy. It’s already spiked past there a few times this month. For a first book by an unknown author without a big marketing campaign, that ain’t bad.

Did anything about the tour surprise you?
It’s been a bit challenging to not repeat myself. By the end of the month, I’ll have been on close to a hundred blogs. That’s a lot of blogging. I’m pleasantly surprised that people are still tuning in, still following the tour. Personally, I’d be really sick of me by now.

Did it improve your promotional skills and repertoire?
It allowed me the opportunity to try different styles. My blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, is basically me lecturing about the biz. I don’t get very personal, and don’t do much self-promotion.
With this tour, I had the chance to blog about many topics I’d never do on Newbie’s Guide. I got to answer a lot of great questions, talk about my new book, AFRAID, goof around, and try to match my writing style to be simpatico with the blog hosting me. It was a terrific learning experience.

Can any author pull this off or do you think the blog tour is suited to certain genres and certain author personality types?
The best way to answer that for yourself is to go back to Day #1 of my tour, follow it up until now, and ponder if it’s something you think you could do. I can’t really speak for anyone else. I don’t think it has to do with genre. It’s more about networking, time constraints, and a willingness to adapt.

You’ve created a lot of momentum by doing 73 blogs in last 27 days. How important is it to have that kind of schedule? And is it worthwhile for authors to do a blog tour even if they can’t maintain your frenetic pace? And, BTW, how much coffee does it take to keep you going?
I have sort of a “go all in” personality. But I think there can be benefits from doing this no matter the scale. Obviously the more places you appear, the better off you are, but I’ve said before that you can’t every compare yourself to any other authors. Your race is with yourself, not with me. And my coffee machine is hooked up to me intravenously.

Why should an author follow another author’s blog tour?
We can all learn from each other.

Why should a reader/fan follow a blog tour? What do they get out of it?
Information and entertainment. But if you’ve been following this tour, you probably knew I was going to say that. ☺

Would you do it again? And if so, what would you do differently next time?
I would do this again, that’s for sure. But I’d plan it next time. I announced this blog tour on Feb 28, on a whim. In the future, I’d try to set things up in advance, and not be so rushed and disorganized.

If someone has never read any of your work, should they start with AFRAID? Or do you recommend they read your Jack Daniels’ series first and ease into this scarier stuff?
People who like horror, will like Afraid. People who like thrillers, will like my Jack Daniels series. People who like both will like both.

Was it liberating to break away from your recurring characters and write a standalone? Was it harder?
It was fun. Writing is always liberating, no matter the genre. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, being able to do what I love for a living. The worst day I ever had writing is still a wonderful day.

Any negative feedback from fans (or publishers) who often just want more of the same?
Some people think AFRAID is too extreme. They’re probably right. It’s a pretty intense book. But I’m all over the place when it comes to genre. I’ve published mystery, thriller, horror, sci-fi, paranormal romance, humor, and a few genres I’m probably forgetting. If someone likes one type of my work, but not another, I’m fine with that. Everyone has a valid opinion.

Early Thanksgiving

I’m celebrating Thanksgiving today (sans turkey) because I have so much to be grateful for that it can’t wait.

  1. We have a new president! A thoughtful Democrat who will value the things I value and raise our standing in the world.
  2. I have a new book contract! My recently finished story, Secrets to Die For, will be published for people to buy and read. Oh happy day!
  3. I have three great sons, who all contacted me yesterday (calling, texting, visiting) to let me know they had voted (and for Barack Obama).
  4. My husband has a job, and I have some freelance work coming. We will stay solvent!
  5. My wonderful husband has worked hard to resolve my exercise issues, and, as a result, my chronic knee pain is diminished!

So today (and going forward), I am grateful for these things and more. I posted this list next to my computer where I’ll see it first—and last—thing every day.

Getting to Bouchercon

I almost didn’t make it here today. I blame bad information and J.D. Rhoades. I was sitting at gate 23B, where I had been told to go, and reading Safe and Sound, by the aforementioned J.D. Caught up in the story, I forgot where I was for quite some time. Suddenly, I looked up and thought Oh shit. Where is everybody? What time is it? I am in the wrong place!

So I ran to the nearest staff person, looking at my phone as I ran. (I am not supposed to run. Very bad right knee.) It was 6:55. My flight was scheduled to leave at 7:10. The woman at gate 24 informed me that my flight had been changed to gate 21. So I ran again, pulling 40 or so pounds of luggage (books!). As I reached the terminal, I realized no one was there. The flight had boarded. The ticket taker was still there, microphone in hand, saying, “Sellers, your flight is leaving. Last call for passenger Sellers.”

Heart pounding, I ran down the tube and boarded the plane with 100 people looking on. I sat down and began to shake. Did I still have everything with me? My kind seat neighbor buckled me in, and moments later, the plane started moving. I thought about myself an hour earlier, drying my soaking wet boarding pass under the hand dryer in the bathroom. Another stupid story involving icing my bad leg! I began to laugh and thought, I made it, and that’s all that maters.

The Sex Club Meets Straight From Hel

You heard right! The infamous Helen of Straight From Hel chats with L.J. Sellers, the infamous author of The Sex Club.

This is a Q&A you don’t want to miss! So click straight over:

Straight From Hel

Party Crasher

Being a new author often feels like being the new kid in school. The cliques are already established and everybody else seems to belong. The fact that my book is from a micropublisher makes me feel like a party crasher too. I’m not on the list. I came in through the back door. People are being polite, but I suspect that they know I shouldn’t be there.

I know this sounds a little paranoid and it’s not typical of me. But recently I was unfriended on Facebook by another popular author (meaning well-liked by other authors), and that’s what started this whole introspection. I’m normally very self-confident, and I used to be unconcerned with the opinions of strangers. But as a novelist, you have to care about the opinions of strangers. In fact, you have to seek out the opinions of hundreds or, if you’re lucky, thousands of strangers.

I’m planning a trip to Bouchercon this October, and on the list of attendees, there’s an “A” by my name. So it’s official, I’m an author. But I can’t join Thriller Writers or Mystery Writers of America because Spellbinder Press is not on their list. (Thanks, Sisters in Crime for not being elitist! And thanks Mystery Scene magazine and all the reviewers who read and loved THE SEX CLUB.) A little part of me is afraid that before I get to B-con, someone will decide I’m not a real author and take away my badge.

The upside is that readers don’t care who published the book. They either like it or they don’t. And so far, readers like me. They really like me.

Career Misfits (aka, Love What You Do)

Today, I veer completely off the subject of writing to indulge in my second favorite pastime, raving. And today’s rave is about Career Misfits—people who seem to be particularly unqualified, at least on the surface, for the job they do.

For example, a women I met recently proudly claimed to be a hairdresser. I glanced at her “coiffure” (a white-blond crewcut with black roots) and thought to myself, never in a million years would I let this woman touch my hair. I could achieve more sympathetic results with chemotherapy. The poor woman might be surprisingly good with a pair of scissors, but who in their right mind would take the chance?

Then there’s the woman I encounter socially, very sweet, but substantially overweight. One evening I asked what she did for a living. (Are you cringing?) Of course, she owns a weight-loss clinic. I stood there nodding, completely speechless for the first time in my life. What should I have said? “New in the business?”

Seriously, how can you sell a product when you’re visible proof of its failure? It would be like Jason Alexander (aka, George Castanza) trying to pitch Rogaine. Don’t they know better? Doesn’t it hurt? Or is it possible they simply lack a sense of irony? If there were only a few of these characters, I’d call it a karmic snafu and let it go. But they are everywhere!

There’s the guy behind the counter at the health food store who raves about the benefits of nutritional supplements yet looks like he hasn’t eaten or slept well in weeks. And the brother-in-law who struggles to make a living as a remodeler, while his own home is such a cosmetic nightmare I’d love to torch it and make him start from scratch. (As a writer, I’m lucky there’s no way to judge my competence by looking at me or the books on my shelf.)

I once knew cook who loved to grow exotic plants. When he told me he was studying psychology at the U of O, I impulsively blurted out, “Why? If you love plants, study botany. The key to happiness in life is finding something you love to do, then doing it until you’re good enough to make a living.”

I stand by my words. If these mismatched folks love what they do and are happy doing it, then more power to them. I will continue to bite my tongue—and ask for references.

Promopalooza

I finished the first draft of my new novel, Secrets to Die For, yesterday. It’s nowhere near ready to go out to anyone, but it’s such a great feeling to have the whole story down on paper. To have a new product to sell. It’s impossible to get the attention of agents or editors without a finished manuscript. And at the moment, I have no freelance work in house. So I have a free day. And it will be a promopalooza! Here’s what I hope to accomplish:

Blog (done)
Update my website (create a page for Secrets to Die For, add more links, etc.)
Update my blog (add links to guest blogs, add a sitemeter, upload book trailer)
Post on all four list serves
Write/send query letters to agents
Send out free copies of The Sex Club to weekly winners and others
Query various blogs about appearing as a guest author or blogger
Update my books on GoodReads (add friends too)
Write and post a book discussion guide to website (this has been on list forever!)
Write and post a note on FB about blogging every day in August
Check out the 50 websites I’ve bookmarked and never got back to
Query people about reading my newly finished manuscript/ask for blurbs
Find a roommate for Bouchercon
Finish reading discussion novel and create list of questions

There’s more, of course, and I won’t get it all done today. But the list never goes away, and eventually, I’ll get to it all. Meanwhile, I’d better get busy.

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LATEST REVIEWS

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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