Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guest Post by bestselling author, J. Carson Black. (Update)

I did a post with J. some time back and I wanted to do an update. She has been on fire and yesterday she was #1 on the Amazon Bestseller list for Kindle with her novel, "The Shop". She is a great lady and so without much more from me, here is the interview.

P.S. Here is her author page on Facebook, she has a cool app you should check out: HERE

J. Carson Black:

1. So, we all want to know and I could ask after some small talk, but what is the fun in that? What is with T&M? We want details, juicy and the behind the scenes!
How do I feel about T & M? What’s not to love? I kiss the hem of their garments.

They have been with me every step of the way, and involved me in everything. Maybe it’s because they’re new. But here’s an innovative idea: they actually listen to the author who wrote the book! For the first time in my writing life, I’m not at the bottom of the food chain.

They are responsive, organized, smart, and generous. They’d make a great husband. Here’s an example. My editor asked me to send ideas about the cover of my book, ICON. I went looking on Amazon at “Thrillers”, and saw the book cover/movie poster for ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich. And it hit me—hard—that when you’re talking about a man who is an icon, you have to put him on the cover. I could see it. I described him walking toward the camera on a desert road (a scene in the book) and he’s got to be both handsome and dirty. T-shirt, jeans, desert boots. And mad. Mad as hell. It’s got to come off him like testosterone. He’s holding a gun and he’s had enough. So they did that. And then they made it “one louder.” They made the words “ICON” huge! It looks like a movie poster.

T & M gave me a five-mile-long questionnaire, even asking me to describe my ideal reader (which I did, right down to the capri pants—middle-aged women love thrillers, they love Coben, Crais, Koontz, Child and Connelly. Which means they love the “k” sound, too). T & M asked me about my style and vernacular, so the copy editor wouldn’t try to change it.

They included me on everything, including the jacket copy and copy-editing and page proofs--a completely different experience than I’d had with a traditional publisher.

And, since they own the company, they know how to push the book.

They have been generous with me, too. We have the coolest app called Odyl on my J Carson Black author page. This allows me to incorporate a website Glenn and I built together called http://www.whokilledbriennecross. It’s the pre-story, of sorts, to the murders in the Aspen house at the beginning of the book. We can do giveaways, polls, quizzes, and provide additional “exclusive content” for the reader.

2. The Shop is making waves, again. How do you feel about the future of your books?

Honestly? I have no idea. I believe they’ll be a steady stream of income. But how much that will be? I don’t know. It’s a bit unpredictable. I’m feeling my way along like everybody else. I listen to people who have put in the time and learn from them. Vin taught me to raise the prices when the books started to go on. Smart stuff like that.

I think we’re all learning as we go.

3. Are you planning on doing some of your own books or will you do them all with T&M?

I kept my Laura Cardinal series, and plan to write a fourth when I get some time. I have one more book with T & M, tentatively titled THE SURVIVORS CLUB. I also have kept a bunch of books that were previously published to little or no acclaim, and I like them, although they won’t be burning down any barns. They’re a source of steady income. I plan to put up my two historicals next—I’m very proud of them. I think it’s good to have your own books, books you can always depend on to keep you going. I’d love to sell more books to T & M, but I think it’s good to diversify.

4. Can I publish one of your books? Hey, I had to ask!

Who knows? I may come crawling to you, and it might not even be too long from now. You’ve done a great job with your authors, that’s for sure.

5. Amazon, B&N, bookstores, what do you see in three years, is the future bright or dull?

I think Barnes & Noble is already stepping away from the Nook – as I recall, they are outsourcing that part of the business. Amazon is a monster, and right now it’s bigfooting everyone in sight. But Kobo may be the wave of the future—or not. I think it’s good to keep your ear to the ground and be flexible and willing to make judgments on the fly—and hope they’re for the best. Like this KDP Select thing. Is it good for the author or not? The jury is out. What might be great for us now could kill us later. I’m hoping that independent and specialty bookstores will start coming back. I’m seeing some growth there. For instance, Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego just added a second store. And other bookstores are opening across the country as well. I read a news report that even Amazon’s opening a bookstore.

6. Freestyle, tell me something we may not know?

You probably already know this, but there are few overnight successes, even in this ebook craze. There are people who have been working on their careers for 20, 30 years. They may have been traditionally published, but some of them never had a publisher; they kept submitting and maybe they only came close. But one thing the majority of these folks have in common is mileage. They’ve put a lot of miles on their writing craft. They’ve developed themselves as writers whether they’ve actually sold books are not. (Selling books in NY is a crapshoot, and has been for some time.) Writing isn’t a static thing. You get better, but you also get worse. Sometimes you have to hit the dip before you start improving. Taking chances can really foul you up, but it can also make you better. And perhaps that actually hurts some writers, because the audience for ebooks is massive but somewhat amorphous. You can sell a lot of books, but a goodly number of those books may go to people who don’t like the kind of stuff you write. It’s great to get a huge audience, but it’s even better to reach a targeted audience who will get what they want. I try to aim my books toward the crime-fiction and thriller kind of crowd, and make “a concerted effort”, for lack of a better term, to brand my books with the covers and product descriptions. Tastes are different. The greatest urban fantasy book in the world will probably never reach me, because that’s just not my taste. Same for sci-fi. So I try to dance with them that brung me.

7. What is one thing you would say to a new writer and one thing you would say to a guy like James Patterson or Stephen King?

To a new writer I would say, find your bliss in the kinds of books you want to write, and study the best. Learn from them. Their lessons are there for anybody—all you have to do is open their books and open your mind.

I’d say to Stephen King, “Good on ya!” In my opinion, his latest book, 11/22/63, (based on the few books I managed to read this year) is the best damn book of the year. In that book, he taught me that I need to reward the reader more. It’s all about the internals of a book. He brings things full circle several times in that story-- puts the periods to the sentences--and that satisfies a reader and makes him smile. They’re gifts, pure and simple. Readers are smart, and they like to feel smart.

To James Patterson, I’d say, “congratulations on your franchise.”

8. With new stuff coming out and the potential for some green, cash, money! What is one thing you might buy or do that is kind of a splurge?

Oh, shoot. I don’t know. I would like to be a partner in a racehorse. But then if anything happened to the racehorse, I’d be a basket case.

I’d like to take a small ship tour into the Sea of Cortez. Yeah. I’d like that.

9. Biggest fear?

Being broke again. Or getting sick. One of the two. Or both at once. Ick.

10. Funniest thing that ever happened at a book signing?

I signed my first book, DARKSCOPE, at a B. Dalton in the local mall. I got my Masters Degree in vocal performance (opera singing) and the ladies of the local Opera Guild helped me out in a number of ways. I was young and thoughtless then. To be honest, they all kind of blurred together, lovely people though they were. And the signing was about five years later. So one of these ladies came up to me and I thought I knew her name, and I said, “Rita! How good to see you!” and hugged her. I signed the book to Rita and she left, smiling. (I think she was smiling.) Ten minutes later, the real Rita showed up. I’d gotten them mixed up. I still can’t believe the non-Rita let me sign the book to “Rita”. Now that’s polite!

Thanks for everything!

J. Carson Black

Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest Post by J.R. Rain: (The Waiting Game is Over)

The Waiting Game is Over
by J.R. Rain

Hi there. My name’s J.R. Rain and I’m a self-published author. No, this isn’t an AA meeting. In fact, I’m proud to say that I’m a self-published author. Admittedly, this designation once had a negative connotation to it. Now, not so much.

Now, thanks to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and a place called Smashwords, writers from around the world are publishing their books independently, giving birth to the indie author.

I kinda like that: indie author.

It fits me. I’ve always been independent, from my complete inability to play well with others (read: bosses), to living on the fringes of society.

Yes, indie author. I like it. It fits. I’ll take it.

Like many indie authors on Kindle and Nook and elsewhere, I had gotten close to selling books to the major New York publishers. Specifically, The Lost Ark nearly sold to Mira Books, Moon Dance nearly sold to Kensington and Dorchester and Elvis Has Not Left the Building nearly sold to St. Martin’s Press.

That’s a lot of nearlys.

Meanwhile, while I waited months and months and months to hear from these publishers (Kensington never gave me a you sense some bitterness here?), I went bankrupt, lost everything, and was generally one big, pathetic mess.

All because I was pursuing my writing dream.

All because I was waiting.

Then came Kindle. In 2009, I had heard about this thing called Kindle, that Amazon was allowing authors to publish directly onto their “platform” and, subsequently, directly into their bookstore.

Oh? I was intrigued.

Turns out, publishing with Amazon Kindle was the best choice of my life. It also turns out that these traditional publishers (see above) had done me a phenomenal service. By not publishing my books and leading me along and dashing my dreams, they gave me a great gift:


I still owned the rights to all my books. Books that didn’t quite fit the typical mold--like a soccer mom private detective who just so happened to be a vampire--a book I had written in 2003. A man writing about a woman was apparently taboo, and more than one publisher rejected it based on this alone. Now my “Vampire for Hire” series has gone on to sell more than 400,000 copies, hitting #1 in many categories. Maybe a man can write about a woman. What a concept.

Now publishers approach me. In fact, I had the very great pleasure of turning down a major publisher’s offer a few months back. Their offer wasn’t much of an offer. Put it this way: they were offering to take my money and my rights.

It was an easy no, although a part of me was flattered. And why wouldn’t I be flattered? I’m forty years old and I had spent the greater part of my life pursuing a writing dream.

Thanks to Amazon, I’m living my dream. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Sometimes people just need a voice, and, as it turns out, writers just needed a platform, an outlet. We got that initial outlet thanks to Amazon Kindle. Publishers told me they didn’t know how to market my books; well, I had a fair idea how to market my books. Turns out it wasn’t that hard to do, after all, and it was a lot of fun, too.

And this brings me back to my main point:

Thanks to Amazon’s revolutionary approach to getting books to readers, by helping authors bypass the traditional publishers, they have given us the gift of time. They have freed us from the waiting game. The endless waiting. The mind-numbing and soul crushing waiting.

That, in and of itself, is priceless.

Now, the waiting game is over, and the living game begins. Now I can spend my time writing the best books I can, with the full knowledge that they will be published on my terms, and in my time. My time.

That, in and of itself, is priceless.

--J.R. Rain

Friend J.R. on Facebook
Follow J.R. on Twitter


Moon Dance
Vampire Moon
American Vampire
Moon Child
Vampire Dawn (coming soon)

Dark Horse
The Mummy Case
Hail Mary (coming soon)

Elvis Has Not Left the Building
You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog (coming soon)

The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo
The Vampire Who Played Dead
The Vampire in the Iron Mask (coming soon)

Merlin (coming soon)

Ghost College
The Vampire Club

Aladdin Relighted
Aladdin Sins Bad

The Lost Ark
The Body Departed
The Silent Echo (coming soon)

The Bleeder and Other Stories
Teeth and Other Stories
Vampire Nights and Other Stories
Vampire Blues: Four Stories

Judas Silver
Lost Eden

Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts, Oh My!

Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: The Good, Bad & Ugly (Guest Post by Kristiana Gregory)

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: The Good, Bad & Ugly
By Kristiana Gregory

For the past 35 years I’ve been a professional writer and have published more than two-dozen middle-grade and young adult novels for traditional houses: Harcourt, Scholastic and Holiday House. And as of last November, I’m also a self-published author. From big signings and national tours to now managing the whole thing myself, I can say there are joys and stresses to both routes:

Time: With several books I’ve waited at least two years between acceptance and seeing them in print, and often have already turned in the final manuscript before receiving the contract. With self-publishing you just click a button. It’s instantly gratifying to publish right away, but the time it takes with a traditional house isn’t for naught (points below:).

Support: Editorial, sales and marketing is a huge plus with regular publishers as is Production. This is the cover design, copyediting, formatting, and adding the title to their catalogue. It’s a team effort getting a book out to libraries, schools and stores. When you’re on your own, all this is up to you.

Economics: Okay, here’s the money part. An advance with traditional publishers is actually a loan against your future earnings, which may or may not blast out of the park like J.K. Rowling. If your works don’t sell, the advance is it, probably gone by Christmas, and it’s time to start the process of submitting and waiting—and waiting—all over again. Publishing with, say, Amazon Kindle, there’s no up-front money but you’re guaranteed 70% of sales if your title is priced at $2.99 or above.

Royalty statements:
Traditional publishers send these in the Spring and Fall, reflecting earnings from the prior nine months. My recent novel, STALKED, took two years to write and edit, then my artist son did the cover. I published it on Amazon Kindle in November and received a check in December! A monthly royalty, wow!

Trends: Success with traditional houses often depends on fads and inflated expectations for profits. I was invited to create two paperback series for young readers, which the publisher initially loved but soon cancelled. The reason? Despite mountains of fan mail from kids, parents and teachers, sales weren’t as brisk as hoped for. Now out on my own, I can directly reach my readers with new adventures.

All this to say, there are benefits to both approaches. I’m deeply grateful to my former editors and publishers. They put my stories into the hands of so many children, many of whom are now adults reading to their own kids—and many of these kids have e-readers! What a great time in history to be an author.

** Kristiana Gregory’s most recent novel is STALKED, a young adult thriller set in NYC in 1912, available on Amazon Kindle -- CURIOUSLY ODD STORIES is also on Kindle

Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spread the Love Not the Hate!

I think every one of us has been on the receiving end of a bully. But what is a bully? I see it as someone that feels the need to put down others, or is cruel in word or in a psychical manner, as a bully. With the invention of Social Media a lot more people are Cyber-bullying.

I got some of this a few weeks back from another author. I was out-of-town in the mountains, when the attack came. This indie author took it upon herself to bash me all over Twitter and even posted on my Facebook wall. The lies worked all weekend and showed up on blogs and Goodreads. What was it all about?

Turns out that this person, no this bully, is in a position where they have a bunch of followers. Instead of using this power for good, they used it to sell their own books and con other unsuspecting authors into chain tagging and other schemes to advance their own work.

Long and short if it, I was in the way. I did not do what they thought I should do, i.e. I did not do it their way. So after one email and waiting an hour, they went to work making me look like some sort of monster that was out to get all Indie authors. What a joy to see that as I was out-of-town on a mini vacation, that back home, I was being hunted down.

Most of you did not even hear about this as I did not post much on the subject. But I fear it is a trend with the Indie author crowd. Is it fear? Is it that each author thinks the way they market is the way all of us should do it? Or is it greed?

Most of it is because we do not educate ourselves. We do not learn the business of writing so we think something another author does is wrong, when it is just that we have no clue what we are doing. Selling well does not mean you are an expert, but I fear many authors think that sales=brains.

The best way to stop bullying is education. This is why I wanted to be a part of this blog hop, it is a group that is speaking out and learning how to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

I am so glad that I have a community of writers and friends that support each other. It makes the bully in all our lives seem a little less evil. I bet all they need is a huge hug...or a stick to the backside! lol

Here are some rules to help stop a bully:

Do not jump to conclusions. If you see something bad about someone, check it out, talk to that person and don't just jump on the KILL bandwagon.


Remember, we are all people, be kind and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Don't be stupid.

Remember that the bully is hurting, scared or is just unloved. They are acting out, it has nothing to do with you.

Protect your friends.


That is all...

Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.