Accepted Publishers List

mwa_logo4On my to-do list for about a year now is this entry: Join Mystery Writers of America. Part of the delay has been my reluctance to write a $95 check for the yearly dues—without knowing there is a definitive benefit (other than the fact that I really like the women who run the organization). The other issue is whether I qualify to be an active member. Read more

First Name or Last?

This question comes up dozens of times while I’m writing a novel. Almost every character is given two names (and sometimes a nickname), but what you do you call them most consistently? First name or last? Does their gender and/or role in the story dictate which treatment they get?

I’m reading a John Sandford novel now (one of my favorites!), and I noticed patterns that made me wonder how authors make these choices. Read more

Email Newsletter Services

I did some research yesterday into the top five providers of email newsletter/contact services. They all offer design and list management tools, a sign-up function for your website, and usually a free trial. The pricing doesn’t vary much, but there are important differences in services. Three offer a pay-as-you-go option for people like me with small lists who plan to use the service infrequently, and only two offer RSS services. Here’s a brief guide: Read more

Promotion Timeline

My internal promotional plan for each release is organized by timetable because that’s the only way I can get it all done and stay on schedule. For a late September release (Secrets to Die For), it looks like this (which includes some things my publisher will do).

June
1. Plan blog tour (make list of blogs to visit, map out content) Read more

How to Write a Marketing Plan

A friend recently asked for advice in developing a marketing plan—to submit to a major retailer. Some smaller presses now also expect authors to submit a marketing plan. I’m no expert, but I have developed several marketing plans, and I’m creating a new one for the September release of Secrets to Die For. So I decided to share what I know.

Actually, I have two type of promotional plans: one to send to publishers Read more

Platform Pitfalls

The buzzword in promotion is platform. Agents and editors want their authors to have a brand, a tagline, an expertise that sets them apart from everybody else. For nonfiction writers, this concept is fairly straightforward. If I’m writing a book about training cats to line dance, then I must establish myself as an expert cat trainer—by blogging, giving talks to cat therapy groups, and writing articles for publications focused on all things feline. But how does a fiction author establish a platform/brand?

Read more

Making Time for Real Life

Each day I struggle between these conflicting ideas: “Get more done; be more productive” and “Life is short; make sure you enjoy it.” After spending most of the weekend brainstorming ways to carve out more time for writing and promoting (read less news, spend less time cooking/eating, less time on e-mails), I decided to be balanced and make a list of things I  want to do for pleasure—then to carve out time for them as well. Here’s my short-term wish list: Read more

Character Naming Contest

In the course of writing a novel, you have to come up with at least 15 names, possibly as many as 40, depending on the genre. Police procedurals (my current genre), with lots of suspects and neighbors to interview require an endless stream of names. For minor characters, I often go with whatever pops into my mind. Sometimes, it works out and sometimes not so much. Read more

Personal Versus Promotional

I’m not having as much fun online as I used to. When I first got serious about social networking, I had a core group of people that I interacted with very regularly on Facebook and Twitter. It was personal and it was fun. I made a lot of real friends. When I met some of these people at Bouchercon, it was as if I already knew them. Read more