Greetings, Friends, Readers, Writers...
Twelve. That's how many drafts my forthcoming novel, Wicked River, is up to. When last I wrote you all, I had gotten my shiny, brand new, very first editorial letter, and had just finished making revisions. My editors' ideas were brilliant, and I was hoping I'd risen to the bar they set.
Wicked River has been combed over with the proverbial fine teeth. Every interaction given an underpinning, each psychological motivation explored. I've never had a book receive this much attention--and that includes my third novel, which was edited for the umpteenth time in a five hour, live session on the phone just before it went into production.
So what happened with Wicked River's latest version? My new editors came back with more suggestions. Yup. [mimes shoot-me-now pose] But they also shared three words that enabled me to sit down and write that twelfth draft. Those words were: "Serious applause. Bravo."
Phew. Big sigh of relief. But not really because--well, remember the more suggestions part?
Writers like me go kicking and bellowing into the editorial process, because (a) I never believe I can do it and (b) I never think the manuscript needs any work anyway. My smart, perspicacious editors managed to show me why I was utterly wrong about (b), and then my husband, aka the Wizard, helped me out with (a).
So what's coming next? Will there be applause, but still more changes? Will there be a thirteenth draft? I'll let you know next time I write.
To Be or Not to Be: IRL in a Virtual World
More and more of the burden for marketing and promotion is falling on the author these days. By one estimation, a big 5 publisher offers marketing support to only 20% of its titles. One of my reasons for choosing my new publisher was how much they put into pushing every single book they take on.
I happen to be someone who actually enjoys promoting a new book, though--the face-to-face kind of promotion anyway, where I get to see many of you in person. But despite spending 15 months and 150,000 miles on the road, even I can't go everywhere, which is where online promotion comes in.
If we can't be present in person, what kinds of online strategies work best? In coming issues of this newsletter, I'll be exploring topics like how to utilize your website, whether readers like connecting with writers on social media, which platforms provide the most oomph, whether hiring a social media consultant produces results, and even whether newsletters are a good idea. (Of COURSE they are. You're reading this, aren't you?) Let's begin with the below.
Blog Tours: Good Way to Promote from Your Couch or More Work than They're Worth?
Book tours were never something every author took on, and, unless you're already a blockbuster, who is sure to draw big crowds, arguably they don't provide much bang for the book. (Ha, I meant to write "buck," but I'm gonna leave that typo in there because, well, I love it and it works).
I say "arguably" because in fact, I would argue that in-person, face-to-face events do a lot for even newbie authors, and will explain why in a future edition. Still, blog appearances certainly present an alternative way for readers to find books and authors to connect with an audience.
The downside is that blog tours are a lot of work. Producing all that content takes time. And does anybody really read the posts, and if they do, do they then go out and buy (or download) your latest book? As best as I can determine, the answer to both these questions is...we don't really know. I am going to hedge my bets by being very choosy about which blogs I visit on my next blog tour. There are a handful of bloggers I know well and care about, and I also know how hard they work to create a warm, connected, book-loving community.
In this and future newsletters, I'm going to highlight these blogs as well as some blog tour options--starting with the below.
The Fearless Bloggers
One of my favorite blog tour efforts is open to ITW members and spearheaded by one of our devoted volunteers. Alison McMahan's "Fearless Bloggers" are a troupe of ITW folk, some arising from the Debut Authors Program, with others drawing from our "Next Steps" and established members, who share blog posts by and for other ITW writers. If you click here, you can see the kind of fascinating, far-ranging entries a Fearless Blog Tour produces.
There are interviews, guest posts on particular topics, and book blasts. What I love most about the Fearless Bloggers is that they represent the best of the writing community--its sense of community, and ability to connect authors with readers. New authors especially need as many opportunities for this as possible. Which is basically what a blog tour is all about.
Who you know or how you write? Do you need contacts in the biz to have a good shot at publication? This is an oft debated question. This issue's Spotlight author is Jeff Cohen, who also writes as EJ Copperman. EJ's Spotlight suggests that in some ways the answer to the above question is a disheartening yes: it's all who you know. But if you look a little deeper at EJ's words, you actually see something else. It's really all in the friends and connections we make--and the mystery world has a way of offering those with open arms. Read on...
Author Spotlight: E.J. Copperman
The crime fiction community is an amazingly friendly bunch, considering that we tend to kill people off rather gleefully and then accept payment for it. The authors I’ve met at conventions, panels and meetings are almost uniformly lovely people.
I tell you this because people ask how I found an agent.
In 2005 I thought I was finished as an author. I’d written three novels (under my assumed name, Jeff Cohen) for a small publisher I’d contacted cold via email. Now the publisher and I agreed it was time for me to move up, but I didn’t know anybody in the publishing business except him.
Or at least I didn’t think I knew anyone. I’d attended my first Malice Domestic conference a year before and run into an author I barely knew. She was getting a lot of (deserved) attention and was a whiz at promotion.
Luckily, she had read a book of mine and liked it a lot. And she had ideas about how I should promote myself. We talked a while and later became good friends.
The very day I’d completed my novel, I got an email from my friend. She had just changed agents and someone at her new agency—which had wooed her pretty seriously—was looking for new clients. She suggested I mention her name.
A month later I had signed with my first agent. Not the one I’m with now, which is a story about another kind author…
Where You Can Find Me in May
Boy, do I miss being out there, doing events, talking with all of you. The second hardest part about not having a book out this year was not getting to go on tour. Luckily, a good writer friend, Kathleen Kaska, whom I first met in person 3,000 miles across the country at Village Books in Bellingham, WA the last time I was on tour, suggested doing an event in the east this spring. On May 31st, I'll join Kathleen, Triss Finkelman Stein, and Cathi Stoler at one of the great mystery bookstores of the world, NYC's own Mysterious Bookshop, for a talk about writing and getting published in today's wackadoodle publishing climate. Attendees can win a chance to work with me or one of the other authors on their work-in-progress, query letter, or writing career. If you live anywhere near the tri-state area, please join us!
That's it for now! Next time I'll tell you whether I had to turn it up to thirteen, draft-wise. [Please, please, please let twelve times be the charm.]
I'll also share the Spotlight of an author who was in the same ITW Debut Class as I was. Both our first novels were lucky enough to do the circuit of award nominations and garner one win each. This author happens to have the same name as the award she or he won. OK, that's a lot of hints. Can you guess who it is?
Send me an email with your answer and I'll select one newsletter reader at random to win a copy of this author's new June release.
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,