Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sharing Good News

I've been sitting on this news for over a week, and those of you who know me are aware that it's hard for me to keep a secret that long. Now I can tell you that I received a phone call some time ago advising me that my novel, Miracle Drug, is a finalist for the Carol Award of the American Christian Fiction Writers. This is the second time one of my novels has been selected as a finalist in this competition. I'm honored and delighted that Miracle Drug has been chosen.

This is the ninth of my ten published novels, and I'd no more be able to choose one as my "best" than I'd be able to choose one of my children as my favorite. But I enjoyed writing Miracle Drug, and the emails I've received tell me that you--my readers--have enjoyed it as well. We'll see what the judges have to say.

What are your feelings about awards? Do they matter? I'd like to know.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Writing: Giveaways

As I've said many times before, nowadays the business of writing (and believe me, it is a business) involves more than putting words together and crafting a great book. I'm told that in the "olden days," publishing houses did the lion's share of marketing of a book. I'm not certain that's accurate, but it certainly doesn't hold true any more.

Authors are all advised to engage in social media--website, blog, newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. I won't go into the proper way to use these--author/mentor Edie Melson does a great job there. What I want to address is one of the things authors soon learn gets more attention than the best-crafted post anywhere. I'm talking about "the giveaway."

However else you market your books, giving away copies turns out to be one of the most effective means of getting the word out about them. When an author or a publisher's marketing manager arranges a blog tour, one of the first things they're asked is, "Will you be giving away a copy of your book?"

There are a couple of important things that are often omitted from the "rules" of these giveaways. The first is, "Please leave your email address with your comment, so if you win we can contact you." I've been involved with a number of giveaways, and it's amazing how many people forget this simple request. Of course, you don't want to post the email address in its normal form, because web crawlers snatch these up. But by now most of us know to use this form: Dr R L Mabry at gmail dot com. It only takes a few seconds to add it, but some still don't.

The second thing, especially important in venues that have a lot of overseas clicks, is to specify whether the winner can be from the US only, or worldwide. I've found that when I have a contest on international sites like Soul Inspirationz, it's easier to simply say the giveaway is open to all comers. If they come from outside the US, it's not terribly expensive for me to order the book from The Book Depository or a similar store.

Choosing a winner isn't too problematic. It can be as simple as picking a number, then awarding the book to that number comment. Another option is using the free app, Rafflecopter. However it's done, giveaways are a great marketing tool.

Have you ever participated in a giveaway? Have you won? Do you think they're worthwhile? Let me know.

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(picture from Pexels.com)

NOTE: For those of you who participated in the Medical Judgement giveaway, LitFuse Publicity has just released the name of the winner. Thanks to all of you who entered and helped get out the news about my latest novel.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Shopping Online

When Amazon began to branch out, selling not only books but all kinds of other stuff, I fussed about it. How much was that 800 pound gorilla going to grab? It already seemed unfair for them to compete with the brick-and-mortar book stores, but now they were in competition with lots of other merchants, both online and located in physical facilities.

But I'l admit that I eventually became a Prime member, mainly for the free shipping and orders that showed up on my doorstep in just a day or two. Then one day I realized that I preferred to sit at my computer in air-conditioned comfort and shop, rather than making the rounds at the local mall. I'd reached out to pet the 800 pound gorilla and ended up feeding it.

I still patronize local bookstores, both the Christian ones and those that are secular. When there's something I have to try on (like shoes--that's a real problem for me), I head for the local stores. But there are times when it seems so nice to order online.

How about you? Have you gone over to the dark side? Do you have any ideas for the stores that have to compete with Amazon? I'd like to hear (and I suspect they would, too).

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Writing: Interview With Vannetta Chapman (and a Giveaway)

Today I'm fulfilling my role as the token male (a.k.a., the "suspense mister") at the Suspense Sisters Blog. I'm interviewing fellow author Vannetta Chapman, who has some interesting things to say. Read why Vannetta's latest isn't what she usually writes--an Amish cozy mystery--but instead is a dystopian thriller. And leave a comment there (not here, please) for a chance to win a copy of that novel, Deep Shadows.

Here's the link. Enjoy what Vannetta has to say, good luck in the drawing, and come back next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It Didn't Work Out That Way

I had it all planned out. My intention was to retire, sit on the porch and rock, play a little golf, travel, and enjoy life. But things didn't work out that way.

Retirement led me from one profession (medicine) to another (writing). I never did get around to rocking, but that was okay, because the people I saw doing it didn't seem to be getting anywhere. My golf game is hopeless, although it's been a lot more fun since my golf partner and I stopped keeping score. Travel has become so hazardous that I rarely have a desire to go anywhere, and when I do it's a hassle to go through security, then sit in a cramped aluminum tube for hours.

In other words, this isn't the life I imagined. Yet now I can't imagine any other. It's really true, isn't it? Man proposes. God disposes. Then again, that path is  often better than what we had planned for ourself anyway.

Is the course of your life different than the one you planned? Are things better or worse? I'd like to know.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Writing: The Book You Have To Write

The other day, I bought a book to read on my Kindle. I'd enjoyed other books by this author, so I thought this was a good purchase. But after I got a couple of chapters in, I discovered the book didn't hold my attention. The dialogue sounded like sessions from my philosophy and ethics classes in college. I regretfully deleted the book from my device. Then I began to wonder if this was one of those books the author had to write.

I've only produced one book I had to write. After the death of my first wife, I gathered all my journaling in hopes of producing a book that would help others going through a similar loss. Eventually I removed all the sugar-coating and self-justification, and produced a book--The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse--that remains in print a decade later. It wasn't a best-seller, but it was a book I had to write.

If you're an author, you recognize the difference between writing a book that will sell (to your agent, to an editor, to readers) and one that burns so brightly in your heart that you have to write it. If you're fortunate, that book will sell as well. And if not, you still need to get the words down on paper. And that's all right.

Have you ever read a book, either novel or non-fiction, that made you think the author had to write it? I'd like to hear your experiences.

PS--As some of you already know, I've signed a contract with Gilead Publishing. The company is new, but the people there have a great deal of experience in Christian publishing. I look forward not only to writing for Gilead, but reading the work of other authors there. I hope you do, too.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Wanting vs. Needing

I heard a comedy routine last week in which a father tried to show his teen-age son the difference between "want" and "need." The son wanted a pair of $150 athletic shoes. The father had $70 budgeted for shoes. He said, "What you want are those shoes. What you need is $80 more to get them."

Then I thought of a small sign my father had in his shoe repair shop. For those who didn't know my dad, he worked as a grocery store clerk, a shoe repairman, sewing machine salesman and repairer, furniture store salesman, air-conditioning/heating repairman, and eventually the owner of an air-conditioning/heating company. He never forgot his humble beginnings, and knew he had to work for what he got.

The sign said, "I was sad because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet." Dad was grateful for what he had. And I need to be reminded of that...frequently.

Has something shown you the difference between "want" and "need?" What are you grateful for?  I'd like to know.

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Writing: Evolution of Writing Contracts

As I mentioned briefly at the end of last week, I've officially signed a contract with Gilead Publishing Company for three more novels. I've known about this for quite a while, and frankly I was itching to let the world know about it. Why didn't I? Because, as the saying goes, "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip."

One of the first things I learned when I began writing for publication was not to announce anything like this until the actual contract was signed. So from the "memo of understanding" I received through my agent until the actual contract I signed about six weeks later, there was a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, that's behind us now.

Another thing authors learn not to discuss in public is the advance they get for their book (which is always a lot less than the reading public thinks it is). Remember that an advance against royalties is just that--an advance. Although royalties start with your first sale, the author doesn't get any money until the advance is "earned out." But that's a column for another day.

I looked at the first contract I signed for a novel with Abingdon Press. It was six pages long. Within a few years, another contract with the same publisher was nine. This one from Gilead is sixteen pages long. Why the change? Publishing has changed a lot in the intervening years. And publishers like to cover every eventuality with the contract. I don't blame them.

Although my latest novel, Medical Judgment, released less than a month ago, I'm already at work with the marketing folks at Gilead about my next, Cardiac Event. But that's how publishing goes nowadays. Stay tuned.

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