Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making Double Vision a Bestseller!

I'm holding up the proof of Double Vision, the last book in the Eyes of Garnet trilogy. I received it today. It's always a thrill to see my books come to life. I doubt I'll ever tire of it.

This week, I'm asking for your help in making Double Vision, the last book in the Eyes of Garnet trilogy, a bestseller on Barnes and and

This strategy is a marketing tool that I've been researching and here's how it works.

On a certain day, everyone purchases Double Vision, thus catapulting it into the number one category on one (or both) of those sites.

How, you might ask?

Each of those sites goes by sales rankings. Many people who shop those sites search for bestsellers, because that's all they buy. I've spoken about this before. Yes, they're missing out on a lot of great reading!

So, if the sales of my book can reach into the bestseller rank, then even more people will by it, creating its own little media frenzy. It will also make the sales of Eyes of Garnet and Sightless go up because many people want to begin a trilogy at the beginning.

Clever stuff, don't you agree?

Double Vision is retailing for $18.95, but I'm certain it'll be less online.

As soon I get the actual release date on both those online sites, I'll send out an email to all of you with a date to purchase it.

If you aren't on my email list and want to be, please send me your email address and I'll happily add you on.

It's an experiment, but I've read that it has had great success.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Made for TV Movies

We've all said it, the book was so much better than the movie. Why is that? I know when I read a well-written book, it's like a movie playing in my head. All the characters come to life; they are real. The scenes are believable and they work in your mind like dreams sometimes do.

Why is it then, that when the movie is made (and I'm generally talking about the made-for-TV movies), the characters have no personality, or depth. The actors don't seem to carry the story along, as if they never even read the book. They just say their lines without the emotion the book portrayed.

Now, I know, having written the screenplay to Eyes of Garnet, how difficult capturing the essence of the book is. You only have 120 pages to tell the entire story. But I also know that it can be done.

So, is it the actors' fault, or the directors' fault?

Case in point. Montana Sky, by Nora Roberts. A fairly lengthy book filled with the vastness of Montana, the ranching life of cows and men, and three sisters who've never met, reuniting, per se, over the one thing they had in common; their father's funeral. Oh, and of course, lot's of passion.

Each woman has their own story, and each is dysfunctional in their own way. However, they are bonded by a cause: a murderer in their midst, and a multi-million dollar ranch that is to be divided three ways, but only after they all live there together for 1 year.

In the movie, these actresses never for one minute made you want to know them, and by the middle of the show, you sort of hoped the killer would just off them and put us out of their misery! And as for the romance part? Well, suffice it to say sparks never once flew enough to light a candle, never mind give us the notion these men had anything on their minds but a fleeting peck on the cheek. Soap operas do a better job of conveying lust than those actors did.

Why? In the book, there was a plausible plot, characters who grew on you, budding lusty romance, and great visuals.

Yet the movie fell so far short, it was like watching an outline attempt to come to life. It just couldn't. And Nora Roberts was a consultant for the movie. Really? How could she approve that?

I also happen to say the very same thing each time a new Stephen King movie appears on the big screen. Crap. I mean, the books are so vivid and frightening, but there hasn't been a movie made yet from his books that conveys that. Plus, the writers always seem to change so much of it, they really push the envelope by saying it was based upon the novel by Stephen King.

The major motion pictures do a better job of bringing the story into life, such as Horse Whisperer. The movie followed the story line very well, except, once again, the ending was changed, but it made you believe the story. It came to life even better than the book. Robert Redford may have had something to do with that...

But, the point to my rant is why such lack-luster performances when a book is worthy of being seen in life?

Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Representation and Validation

I was at work when it happened. My husband called me with three words that made me shiver with excitement. Nope, not "I love you," though that works, too.

No, he said, "Call your AGENT!"

The second agent I sent my work to wanted to talk. I got right on the phone and she continued to say all the right things (referring to my previous blog When it Rains it Pours) .

First was, "I love the story." Next was, "I love the characters, and your writing style." Then, the pièce de résistance, "I'd like to represent you!"

Well, I wanted to leap from seat and do the dance of joy, however, my boss was downstairs and is already afraid I may be leaving soon. So, instead, I behaved with the utmost professionalism and told her (my AGENT) it was great, and asked what we do next.

She is now going over the contract I signed with my publisher to be certain I do, in fact, own the rights to my stories and characters. When she finishes, she'll call me and we'll talk business.

To say this is a long time coming would be an understatement. It took eight years and hundreds of rejections. It all seemed so easy with her, making me wonder why it didn't happen sooner.

Was it just finally my time? Or were the cosmos aligned in my favor (for once)? Whatever it was, I'm grateful.

Now, just because I now have an agent really doesn't mean anything other than a professional thinks my work is good enough to be on the market. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done.

She will have to pitch my Eyes of Garnet trilogy to publishers and editors, and get one (or more!) interested enough to want to take a chance on me. It's all about the bottom line: can they sell my work?

The reason an agent says yes to a writer is because they are excited about the story, the writing, the characters, and they are sure the writers will continue writing. She has to be as enthusiastic as I am about what she's pitching to convey her beliefs that the story(ies) will sell.

Since I've done so much of this (getting published, signings, sales, distribution) on my own already, she knows that I'm in it for the long haul. I want to be able to make writing my living. Lord knows, my muse never shuts up, so why not exploit it?

I know it won't happen over night, that's not how my life works, but this is one enormous step in the right direction.

So, with that all said, I've got some writing to do!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Guest Blogger J.A. Konrath on his Cyber Tour

As promised in last week's blog, I'm presenting one of my favorite authors, J.A. Konrath, this week. He's taking a cyber book tour to promote his new book, Afraid, debuting on March 31, and I'm one of his stops.

Horror is a new genre for him, so he's using the pen name, Jack Kilborn. He's posted a few chapters of Afraid, and it sucks you into the story within the first few paragraphs.

Like every good horror novelist, he plants the seeds in your mind of the terror that's about to happen. And you know it'll happen, but you can stop yourself from reading on. Yes, it'll be gory, and filled with tension and suspense. And I suspect it'll make you not want to read it after dark. Ooh, I can't wait!

So, when Joe asked what I'd like him to talk about on this blog tour, I asked if he'd blog about what's happening in the publishing world right now.

Here's what he had to say.

Even if we take our waning economy out of the picture, publishing has been in trouble for a long time.

As a business model, publishing is flawed. I've heard that only one out of five books makes a profit, and that a fifty percent sell through is considered acceptable.

Think about if General Motors or Coca-Cola used those figures to determine success. For every five bottles of Coke sold, only one makes a profit? For every two cars built, one is scrapped?

The problem goes back to the archaic practice of returns. At any point, a bookseller can return a book back to the publisher for a full refund. In the case of a paperback, the whole book doesn't even have to be returned—the cover is stripped off the book and mailed back, giving the bookseller credit towards their next purchase.

What's the incentive to move a particular title? None. It either sells on its own, or they ship it back and replace it with something else.

While a sweet deal for the bookseller, this causes all sorts of problems for the publisher and author. Publishers spend a great deal of money promoting blockbusters, and apply heavy discounts to entice chains to carry multiple copies. Smaller bookstores don't get these same discounts, and lose sales as a result. Midlist authors who don't get the  star treatment find their books have a shelf life of only a few weeks before being returned, which means they don't have the distribution or exposure to grow an audience that might someday make them bestsellers.

This high cost of promotion, the megabucks paid to to bestsellers, and the cost of returns is why a hardcover costs $25.95 when you can buy the third season of LOST for only $15.

Again, keeping the economy out of it, publishing now has to deal with new technology. Most of publishing still uses offset presses, which were invented hundreds of years ago, so the industry can't be considered an early adopter.

Technology fosters format change. VHS became DVD. Vinyl became CD which became mp3.

With digital ebooks and audiobooks, distribution is no longer an issue. Shipping to stores, stocking copies, printing, advanced orders—they're all soon to be things of the past. With ebook readers like Kindle 2, suddenly there is a cheap, fast, effective way to distribute books.

It isn't perfect yet. But it will be.

The ebook reader of the future will have the following features:

• Waterproof and scratchproof
• Under $100
• Long battery life
• Big storage capacity
• Backlit, with adjustable size font
• Internet accessible
• Large, no glare screen
• Interactivity

DVDs didn't replace VHS because they had better resolution. That's why BluRay is having trouble replacing DVD. It isn't about picture quality.

It's about extras. Alternate endings. Commentary. Deleted footage. Trailers.

Videophiles love extras, so they went to DVD. BluRay offer the same extras as DVD, but it is more expensive, so it isn't catching on in a big way.

Consumers switched to CDs only because CDs had extra songs, and could be copied. Prior to copy capability, CDs were just another overpriced format for technogeeks.

Mp3s replaced CDs because of ease of use and a free distribution method. Downloading the songs you want and putting them on your iPod is easier than lugging around 50 CDs. IPods can now store cover art, lyrics, liner notes, as well as play videogames, store addresses, and even play movies.

For ebooks to catch on, publishers and writers will have to offer more than just text.

Which brings us to the the next problem. File sharing.

Digital media wants to be free. People don't consider copying a bunch of ones and zeros to be stealing. Why are folks going to pay $15 for a Kindle download when they can get the hardcover on sale for $15?

Ebooks will replace print books. But along with a reader that has the features I've mentioned, ebooks have to also:

• Be 99 cents or less
• Offer extra content, such as author interviews, cut scenes, bonus short stories
• Be easily downloadable from a variety of sources
• Offer the audio version as well, (and not a monotone robot reading the text)
• Be DRM free, without copy restriction

When that happens, ebooks will take over. It may not happen right away, but it will happen…

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guest Blogger J.A. Konrath

In this early blog I wanted to let you all know what's up on the blog docket. It's going to be treat for me and, hopefully, for you. I'm presenting J.A. Konrath.

For those who aren't familiar with Joe's work, he writes detective mysteries that are gritty, harsh, sarcastic, humorous, and wonderfully graphic, with a main character named Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. Each book has been named after a cocktail; Whisky Sour, Rusty Nail, Fuzzy Navel, Bloody Mary, and Dirty Martini. I'm a big fan.

He's doing a Blog Book Tour promoting his newest book Afraid which debuts March 31. Check out his blog for more info on this way cool idea.

Why would I agree to do this when I really don't write mysteries?

Simple. Exposure. No, I'm not an exhibitionist (most of the time!), but for a newbie author, this is excellent exposure.

I've asked him to talk about the Publishing Panic that's going on right now and what it means to writers everywhere.

For all of you who want to understand this tenuous market better, check it out.