A Night of Mystery: Authors’ Secrets Uncovered!

The title above  headlines a poster from Port Moody Library to announce an evening of discussion I’ll be taking part in, along with terrific writing colleagues and fellow Port Moody residents, A.J. Devlin and W.L. Hawkin.

We’re very excited to share our thoughts, tips, and yes, a few secrets about ourselves and mystery writing.

The event will be held on Tuesday, May 14, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Fireside Reading Room at the Port Moody Library, 100 Newport Drive, Port Moody. Registration is required, which you can do at 604-469-4577. Hope to see you there!

Cobra ClutchTo Charm a Killer

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Pondering a BookBub Promotion

Following up with last week’s blog about the Left Coast Crime Conference, I want to say that it was amazing. I was too busy catching up with fellow writers and meeting mystery fans from the U.S. to take pictures, but others took photos which have popped up on social media. Anyway, I totally recommend this conference for mystery writers and fans. Next year’s event will be in San Diego.

BookBub imageNow to current business. For some time, I’ve subscribed to BookBub’s book notification service. It’s a free site where subscribers can sign up and learn about great deals on free or discounted books. Authors can also submit their books for consideration and create their own profile, which I did a while back.

I’ve heard mixed reviews from authors about paying to feature their ebooks on the site. The main complaint is that BookBub’s fees are high–several hundred dollars, in fact. The more you want to charge for your book (the maximum is $3.99), the higher the fee is.

The approval process is also daunting. BookBub accepts only a fraction of the 100-300 daily submissions it receives. If you’re turned down you must wait another month to reapply. Also, they prefer books that have already obtained lots of reviews, although I’m told there are exceptions.

Still, BookBub sends daily emails to millions of subscribers and featured books can sell thousands of copies in a couple of days. A mystery writing colleague I met at LCC tried it with great results. So, I took a look at BookBub’s submission requirements and realized I have some prep work to do before even submitting my first Casey Holland mystery, The Opposite of Dark.

I’ll have to write a shorter book blurb, double check all my links and find a couple more, as well as the original price for my ebook, which is listed in five different countries. I also should be adding Amazon links in the back pages of The Opposite of Dark . Hmm.

I’m overwhelmed with busyness right now and, given the high fee, I’m still pondering if this is a good investment. Not everyone makes their money back, so if any of you have used BookBub to promote your books, I’d love to hear about your experience. Do you think that paying to feature your book on this site is worth your time and money?

Book Launch Memories

Speaking at Golden Ears, Oct 21, 2014This week, I had the pleasure of attending a book launch for a colleague who’s about to have her first children’s book published. It’s been a long haul for her, and I wanted to get my hot-off-the-press copy. Her name, by the way, is Eileen Holland and her book is Sophie Trophy (I hope to have her guest blog in the near future!). It’s a delightful story for the 8 to 10 age group.

Her event Monday night was held in the same room where I launched my second novel back in 2008. Seeing Eileen’s happiness and exuberance brought back great memories of other book launches I’ve attended and hosted, and I have to say there’ve been a few of them. Looking back, I’ve attended launches at arts centers, community halls, libraries, bookstores, a pub, a restaurant, a church, and of course, there’s been a few Facebook online launches.

My first launch back in 1995 is still one of my favorites, not just because this was my first published book but because it was a house party for friends, families, and writing colleagues. We served a lot of food and wine that night, I sold books, and everyone had a good time. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about being out of the room by a certain time or cleaning up early. Honestly, if I hold another one, I might just do it again, which brings me to my second point. Will I ever do another launch? Even though, I’ll be bringing out book number ten over the next few months, it’s not a question I can answer right now.

While I didn’t hold a physical launch for my latest Casey Holland mystery, Knock Knock, I did the usual launch-day announcements. It was the third week of November and I was in over my head with weekend craft fairs, the day job, and my publisher’s launch of one of my novellas a week after that.

While it’s still gratifying to see a new book in print, I’m not overly excited to be the center of attention again. The speech preparation, venue rental, RSVPs, and catering issues have always caused this introvert a fair bit of anxiety. Still, maybe another house party is the answer. We’ll see. The Blade Man is coming either later this year or early next…I’ll let you know when.

Left Coast Crime Conference In Vancouver Next Month!

Whale of a Crime, 2019I’m thrilled that the popular mystery writing conference Left Coast Crime will be held in Vancouver next month from March 28 to 31st. You can find more details about panels and other events HERE.

Due to time and financial restrictions, it’s been ten long years since I last attended LCC  and that one was on the big island of Hawaii. Hubby and I, along with my sister, turned that excursion into a week-long vacation with tons of sightseeing after the conference ended. I love that island!

LCC conferences choose a different host city, usually in a western state, every year. The conferences tend to be smaller than some of the other mystery conferences, which is why I love this one. There’s a friendly, informal feel to LCC that’s always welcoming.

The organizers have done a great job in providing ways for authors to interact with readers, so to that end I’ll be taking part in in a “Speed Dating” event on Thurs. the 28th from 9 – 11:00 a.m. I’ll be partnering with another author and moving from table to table, pitching my work.

On the same day, I’ll be taking part in a panel from 3:45 to 4:30 called Technology in Crime Fiction. It should be an interesting discussion.

On Saturday, I’ll be reading from my latest Casey Holland mystery, Knock Knock, for five short minutes (there are many authors lined up to read), but again, it’s an opportunity to let others know about my work.

Needless to say, it’ll be a fun, busy weekend. I hope to volunteer there as well. One of the best parts will be catching up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a long time and finally meeting those I’ve only chatted with online. Judging from the roster, BC writers will be well represented, so if you’re a crime fiction fan living in Metro Vancouver, then don’t miss out as LCC won’t be back to our city anytime soon. I believe the 2020 event will be in San Diego!

Easing Into a Book Production Mindset

selfpub[1]Every indie author knows that there are essentially three major components in a writers’ life. Writing, producing, and marketing a book. My last Casey Holland mystery, Knock Knock, was released in November 2017.

I’m coming close to the final edit of the sixth installment, The Blade Man. An email to my editor last week marked the beginning of the production process, but truthfully, I’m in no hurry to publish yet. There’s a lot to think about regarding a book launch and other marketing plans.

Those who’ve published books, know all too well that there are a number of steps in the production process…hiring a jacket designer, acquiring ISBN numbers for electronic and print versions. Preparing the front and back matter, and of course, writing the all-important back cover blurb. As an increasing number of book reviewers require a synopsis, I’ll also spend a fair bit of time polishing a one-page version as well. There’s also the budget to work out.

It’s not all daunting, though. I use Draft2Digital and KDP to convert my documents into epub, Mobi versions, and so forth. The conversion is quick and simple for both, however, proofreading is still required as glitches occur. I haven’t quite decided what to do about preparing the print version, given that CreateSpace is no longer around. I could go the KDP route, but I want to do a little more research about the ups and downs to this approach.

If any Canadian colleagues out there, have production pros and cons regarding KDP, please let me know. Things change so rapidly in this business that I often feel that I’m starting out fresh with every published book. Sometimes the work ahead is overwhelming, but other times it’s exciting. Most of the time it’s both. Either way, I’m easing into production mode and looking forward to the future.

A Great Night of Author Readings

Western Sky Books-2Last evening I had the pleasure of taking part in a reading at Western Sky Books in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. With nine readers and an enthusiastic audience, All Hallows Story Night was an entertaining event. I loved the variety of stories the authors read. The horror, dark fantasy, and ghost stories for children and adults offered a wide selection of tales.

I read from the second chapter of my Alex Bellamy whodunit, Fatal Encryption, which opens on Halloween night and added a bit of humor to the mix. With settings near my home in Port Moody, BC, I have a special fondness for this book, and it was great fun to read from it again.

I should have arrived earlier to browse through the many titles Western Sky provides, but I’ll be back. Co-owner Tamara provided refreshments and cool decorations for the occasion, and if you ever have a chance to visit this new and used bookstore do so. The place is packed with bargain-priced books and is a huge supporter of local authors.

If you’re interested in Fatal Encryption, the ebook version is available at the following links.

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/z5sagyl

Amazon: myBook.to/FatalEncryption

Other links: https://www.books2read.com/u/brdqzm

Should I Choose Instagram?

Social network imagesChoosing social media platforms has always been hit and miss with me. Over the years, the two constants have been Twitter and Facebook. I still belong to Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Kindleboards, but no longer take part in group discussions. Frankly, the spamming and contentious attitudes among too many people make discussions less appealing than they once were.

Some writers insist that you need to be everywhere on social media and I can understand their viewpoint. But for me, it’s neither desirable nor practical. There is one I’m considering, though: Instagram. Indeed, I’ve been invited to join by several writers but I can’t make a decision until I’ve visited the site. I know the audience is generally younger, and I do know a gift shop owner who says that it’s really helped raise her store’s profile. People even offer her advice about improving her store window design, etc.

But does a site that focuses on photos really work for a writer? Before I spend a lot of time setting up and sending out photos of my book covers and events and other experiences, I’d like to know what you think. Do you writers out there use Instagram and is it worth your time?

Last week, I read a blog advising writers to stay away from social media period, as it’s become too negative and troll-infested. This person’s argument was that one’s time was better spent on building their business page rather than connecting with people through blogs and group discussions, and suffering abusive and offensive comments.

I’m not attracting enough attention to have that many negative experiences, and maybe never will. I still enjoy FB, Twitter up to a point, and now WordPress, but should I take a closer look at Instagram, or are there other new sites that are useful for writers? I’d be really interested in knowing your thoughts.