Sunday, July 31, 2011

LA Banks: Author, Penn and Temple Alum Gravely Ill

LA Banks a wonderful author has been diagnosed with late stage adrenal cancer.  Like so many, her battle with cancer is complicated by overwhelming medical expense.  Please follow the link below and help if you can.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Now I can talk about it---NEWS!

am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Marisa Corvisiero of the Lori Perkins Agency. We are working toward the publication of Dark Dealings (see some unpolished excerpts to the right of this post) and future projects.  It has been a long road, most of it spent trying to become a writer worth reading.  I am extremely excited to see this novel move to the next phase and welcome all that Marisa brings to the table.  I can now focus on the next manuscript knowing I am in good hands.  

The publishing business is a changing place and everyone needs to blaze their own trail.  There is always a place and a way for great writers to be heard. Like your novel, find your voice and what works for you.  Be open to changes and revisions. Never give up  on the dream.

A big shout out to Barbara Rogan, who took a newbie with delusions of authorship and whipped her into shape. I learned a lot in her classes and met some amazing writers who remain dear friends.  Another shout-out to the PubWrite folks (find them on Twitter (#pubwrite) and on Facebook. Amazing supportive and helpful folks and a growing force in self and indie-pubbing. And last, but not least, the Liberty States Fiction Writers through which I first met Marisa and the unstoppable Lori Perkins.

As news develops, I will keep you posted. In between, stop back for my usual ramblings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Randy Ingermanson's Take on John Locke's Success

I am a loyal reader of Randy's Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine.  I have not read John Locke's book on selling but after reading Randy's first article (of many more to come) I think I will.  I am reprinting his first article on Target Audience.  Link up to his e-zone it's full of good stuff.  To begin with I will give you Randy's reprint permission blurb:
8) Reprint Rights

Permission is granted to use any of the articles in this e-zine written by Randy Ingermanson in your own e-zine or web site, as long as you include the following 2-paragraph blurb with it:

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

And now for the meaty stuff:

4) Marketing: The Secret of John Locke's Success

John Locke is a self-published novelist who has sold over a million copies of his e-books so far this year.

That's rather amazing. He's had as many as 8 of his novels on the Kindle Top 100 list at one time, all priced at $.99.

There are people who think Locke got lucky. I've been told that Locke sells well because he produces short novels, writes decently well, prices his books low,  releases new ones frequently, promotes them hard, and has the same name as a popular character on the TV series LOST.

All that may be true, but it doesn't explain why Locke's books were selling only a few dozen copies per month until last October, and then suddenly began selling hundreds (and now thousands) of copies per day, starting in November.

How does Locke explain his change in luck? He says that he changed his marketing strategy at the end of October. He says that he began doing things differently in early November, and he saw good results right away.

You can read all about it in Locke's latest $4.99 e-book, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS IN 5 MONTHS. Here's a short link to the description page on Amazon:

I recently read this book and it's radically changed my thinking in a couple of key areas.  I consider it the best marketing book I've read in the last year, and it's the best fiction-marketing book that I've EVER read. (To be fair, there aren't many books on how to
market fiction.)

Locke's book is a very quick read.  It's thin, and it's even thinner if you consider that the first half is obvious stuff that "everybody knows," along with a discussion of all the things Locke tried that didn't work.

If you already know all the things that "everybody knows" and you don't care about the things that don't work, you might decide to skip Parts 1 and 2.

On the other hand, since some of the things that "everybody knows" don't actually work very well, I suggest you read Parts 1 and 2 anyway.

It's not until Part 3, halfway into the book, that Locke unveils his marketing plan.

If you don't look closely, you might imagine that it's all the same stuff you've heard before. Most of the elements of Locke's plan are things we've all heard about: web sites, blogging, Twitter, e-mail, etc.

Locke only does a very few things differently than most people. That should be reassuring. He's using the same tools as most  authors. He just uses them differently.

I've read through Locke's book twice now, taking it apart to figure out what the pieces are. There are four major tasks you must complete and there are two ongoing projects that you will keep doing indefinitely.

Locke doesn't list these in so many words anywhere in his book, nor does he give you any estimates of how much calendar time most of them normally require, so I'll do that here. The first four tasks have a definite end-point. The last two are open-ended:

* Define your General Target Audience (days of work)
* Create your book (months of work)
* Create your platform (weeks of work)
* Launch your book (one day of work)
* Grow your platform (ongoing effort for years)
* Market your book (ongoing effort for months)

Over the next few months, I'll talk about these in more detail in this column.

For today, I'll focus on the first step, defining your General Target Audience. All the other steps depend on this one. If you haven't done this, or if you haven't done it well, all your other efforts are going to be out of focus.

And what is a General Target Audience? It's the group of people who love the kind of books you write, or who would love your books if they knew about them.

Not just LIKE your books. LOVE your books. The people who, once they find out what you write, will buy anything you write.

Don't confuse your General Target Audience with the set of all people who have ever bought one of your books.

Some people in your General Target Audience may never have heard of you, much less bought one of your books.
Your goal in marketing is to help them discover you.

And some people who've bought one of your books may not much like your writing. Your goal in marketing is to prevent similar people from buying your books because they probably won't enjoy them.

Your General Target Audience is crucial to get right.The reason is that the other five steps in producing and marketing books depends on them:

* When you create your book, you should do everything in your power to produce a a book that is perfectly targeted for your General Target Audience. You should be desperately trying to make this core niche group as happy as possible.

 When you create your platform (including a web site, blog, Facebook page, etc., you should do everything in your power to make it as appealing as possible to your General Target Audience. You really don't care about anyone except them. These are your people.

* When you launch your book, you should do everything in your power to reach those people in your General Target Audience. If you accidentally reach other people too who somewhat like your book, that's fine, but your General Target Audience will be the ones who love your book and spread the word.

* As you grow your platform over the years, you'll continue to focus on building an online presence that makes your General Target Audience happy. You'll focus on adding them to your e-mail database, and they'll be delighted to be there, because there's nothing they want more than to hear when your next book comes out.

* As you market each book over a period of months, you'll focus on crafting a message designed to appeal to people in your General Target Audience. These are your evangelists. You reach them; they'll reach everybody else.

You may be surprised to hear that John Locke prefers a small, sharply defined target audience. This is why he doesn't want to work with a major publisher, who would try to force him to have wider appeal and would thereby destroy the amazing loyalty of his actual readers.

This may sound like you're asking for a disaster --consciously trying to appeal to fewer readers.  But it makes great marketing sense to focus on making one small niche exceptionally happy. Because that's how word-of-mouth gets going. Small fires burn hot.

Next month we'll look at some of the methods Locke uses to reach his target audience, using such ideas as the "Friendship Circle," the "Viral Circle," the "Loyalty Transfer Blog, and the "Guaranteed Buyer" e-mail list.

All of these are powerful tools, and if you can't wait to hear about them, go ahead and grab Locke's book and read it. Once again, a link to his Amazon page is here:

If you get his book, read his description of his target audience. It runs on for about a page and a half. Some parts of it are rather dull demographic stuff, which your publisher has probably already asked you to define.

In my view, the demographic stuff -- age, gender, and socioeconomic status of Locke's reader (or your readers) are the least important part.

The real gold comes from knowing what emotive buttons your target audience wants pushed. Locke knows that his readers want a quick read but not a deep read. They aren't a bit worried that Locke's signature character,Donovan Creed, is an amoral bed-hopping assassin,because it's all just good clean sex and violence.

Locke's men readers would like to be Donovan Creed. His women readers would like to date Creed -- but not to marry him, because he's a lousy marriage risk. They like that he has potential.

Locke has plenty more info on his target audience, but you get the point. Locke knows exactly who he's writing for, and everything he does is aimed at pleasing those people. Nobody else. Just them.

Most people are not in John Locke's target audience. I'm not. You might or might be. You might find his books outrageous or offensive. Or you may find them hilarious and relaxing.

This is, I believe, a major part of Locke's secret. He writes so consciously and so specifically for one small class of people. He doesn't care about any other readers.

What that means is that there are plenty of people who don't fit in Locke's target audience -- but they might in yours or mine.

But they'll never know, and you'll never know, unless you first figure out exactly who YOU write for.

So let's get practical. You will probably never have much success in publishing unless you clearly define your General Target Audience. Let's take a first cut at it right now. It won't be perfect, but it's a start. You can polish it later.

Think about the following kinds of questions for a few minutes. This is not an exhaustive list. It's intended to get your mental juices flowing so you can ask the right questions about your particular General Target Audience:

* Who are you writing for? (No, no, no, the answer is not "everybody.")

* What are your readers looking for? Do they want to laugh? Cry? Think? Avoid thinking? Have a romance? An adventure? Both? Neither?

* Do your readers suffer from low self-esteem? Sneer at the "little" people? Don't care what anybody else thinks?

* What kinds of hero will make your reader cheer? A tough guy? Tough girl? A patriot? One with a soft side?

* What are the powerful forces in your reader's life? Religion? Politics? Science? Gaming? Exercise?

Give yourself 5 minutes to think about the above questions. Then give yourself 15 minutes to finish this sentence:  "My ideal reader..."

Don't stop and think. Just type. Shoot for 500 words in 15 minutes. Drill out the words. You can edit them later. Just blast out thoughts.

Now save the results in a document named "My General Target Audience." You'll come back to this again and again over the years, and you'll refine it as you get more information from actual readers. But for now, you've got a target to shoot at.

Next month, we'll look at some of the other steps in the process of writing books for your General Target Audience and helping your General Target Audience discover you.

(Full disclosure on those pesky Amazon links: When I recommend a book, I generally include in it my Amazon affiliate code. If that offends you, then go to Amazon and search for "John Locke" and you'll find his book and I'll earn no referral fee if you buy it. Won't
bother me a bit.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lots to talk about, nothing I can say.

I have not been updating this blog or my #ROW80 goals lately.  Why you ask? I know you have been sitting on the edge of your seats wondering "Where is she? What is she up to?"

I recently spent a fantastic weekend with some of the PubWrite people at ReaderCon in Burlington Massachusetts.  The Con, itself, is for serious scifi fans and features such workshops as the Speculative Fiction of Rudyard Kipling.  Educational but not ComicCon. Did spend a lot of time in the Hotel's Irish Pub with the following group of amazing talented, supportive and helpful writers:

Steve Umstead
Al Boudreau and his special lady Jen Jennings
Anne-Mhairi Simpson
Karen DeLabar
Glenn Skinner
Jennifer Gracen
Leah Petersen

Please visit all of them and the PubWriteGroup page on Facebook.  There is some great news coming on that front soon.

And yes, somewhere between the Guinness and the nachos, we talked about writing, editing and the state of the publishing business.  We also talked about what a real honest to goodness PubWriteCon might look like.  Karaoke is a must, especially Al's rendition of Purple Rain.

In the midst of all this I had some amazing news about Dark Dealings.  Details are not official so I don't want to jinx it. Besides this is such a great tease.  :-)

I will say that the news may result in a refocus of my goals.  I'm thinking that I may have to table Ogham Court for the moment in order to work on Micaela's continuing story in a followup to Dark Dealings.  I have some ideas and some preliminary words on paper but she requires attention now.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gym, no Tan, Breakthrough, #Row80

Whatever you do for a living, or as a passion, keep reading.

I have moved onto my next goal: to outline and get a handle on Ogham Court. I have been stuck, unable to find the pivotal moment in the plot.  I thought I had it but something wasn't clicking. A received some terrific advice from a twitter #pubwrite friend @ebonstorm , He suggested I focus on a character other than my main character.  I also hit the gym hard yesterday and today.  It is amazing what 90 minute of ellipitical and 30 min of weights over two days will do for you.  On the ellipitical, I realized that my male character (a love interest) was too nice.  Devlin needs to share his issues and as I sweated to Bon Jovi 's"Bad Medicine" I got deeper into Devlin.  He has become a bit of a rake, for lack of a better word.

Ogham Court is about judgement and things that have more than one meaning (see my post on Ogham Court Theme).  Devlin is part of that theme.  He is judged, but has more than one meaning.

My initial pivotal moment now fits.  Other characters now take on new meaning.

Thank you Retro Fitness and my Dear Hubby who insisted I go to the gym and clear my head.

If you want to learn more about creativity and the space in-between see Jonathan Field's terrific post on the subject.

So my outline is not formal but now I GET IT!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ROW80 Update: With a little Help From My Friends

Just 8 hours late.  Yesterday was one of those days on the job that really makes you wonder if its worth it.  Spent much of evening talking with Hubby and being cheered by wonderful tweeps at #pubwrite.  I still managed to do a little formatting work on Dark Dealings and expect to reach Goal 1(see below) tonight, which is ahead of schedule.  I'm thrilled.  Will soon be time to send this baby out into the world.

A good friend from PubWrite has asked me to look over her first few chapters. I am honored and excited to, I hope, be of assistance. Being ahead of schedule will let me sit back on my patio and enjoy her work.  Goal 2 is the Ogham Court outline.  I'm not a detailed outliner but I need to feel like I have a scaffold in place if I'm going to get a decent first draft done (Goal 3).

Heading to ReaderCon next week.  Lots of news from there.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Row, Row, Row your Goals. No flaking allowed.

I have been, I hope, noticeably absent from this site of late. That is because I am trying to follow the advice passed on from a Twitter follower of Laurell K. Hamilton (Urban Fantasy author extraordinaire—and then some).  The original tweet is lost on a long list of tweets, so I am unable to give the sender their props.  If you see this, please chime in so you can be thanked. But here it is:

                The @LKHamilton Way: Self-impose a deadline, give up fun activities to meet deadline, and do not fucking flake out on the deadline!

                In sticking with that theme, and since my betas hit me with their comments I have been in the cave.  On one of my less frequent visits to Twitter, I found #ROW80.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, let me post the description from their site.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a writing challenge that runs for 80 days.
How is it different from other writing challenges?

Well apart from being longer than most writing challenges (NaNoWriMo being the one most folks are familiar with), ROW80 allows YOU to set YOUR GOAL (You’ll wanna read this post about what constitutes an actual measurable GOAL).  We don’t presuppose that everybody has the same needs, the same level of productivity, or the same schedule.  When the challenge starts, you might be in the middle of a WIP.  Or you might be on revisions.  Everybody’s different.  You take whatever project you are working on, in whatever stage it is in, and you figure out a goal for it, share it with us in a blog post that you link to when the challenge begins, and you join our community of dedicated writers and fellow cheerleaders.  Don’t feel limited to fiction.  We’ve had non-fiction writers on here as well as one participant who was working on her dissertation!

And here’s the clincher about what makes ROW80 different from all the other writing challenges out there: We recognize that you have a life.  It’s all well and good to think that you can put your job and family and responsibilities on hold for a month or more to hammer out a book, but it’s not realistic.  Hundreds of thousands of people start NaNo and only a fraction actually SUCCEED.  Because life happens.  It gets in the way.  And real writers have to find a way to cope with it and STILL GET THE WORK DONE.  So in light of the fact that we know you have a life, ROW80 allows you to change your goal should you need to. 
And since we all want to (presumably) be writers rather than hobbyists, we need a challenge that happens more than once a year.  A Round of Words in 80 Days happens FOUR times a year.

Round 3 begins today July 4th.

So here are my ROW80 goals:
1)      Finish the polish edits on Dark Dealings, including formatting.
2)      Finish outline of Ogham Court
3)      Write an additional 50,000 words for Ogham, which should mean a completed first draft, or pretty darn close.
4)       DO NOT FLAKE OUT!

Who's with me.  If you want to jump in, you can do so on any reporting day which is Sunday and Wednesday.  See the link above for details.  I'll be checking in here and at #ROW80.