Friday, March 31, 2017

Writing: Guest Blog Posts and Interviews

For years authors have been admonished to establish a social media presence. This has included guest blog posts, interviews, and even a series of such appearances in the form of "blog tours." But when was the last time you saw an extensive physical author tour, with signings and readings? This virtual disappearance, in my opinion, is due to two things: lack of a return on investment for the publisher and a tightening of the purse strings of various publishing companies.

Since my recently released novella, Doctor's Dilemma, was self-published, it fell to me to arrange any publicity it received. I have appeared on various other blogs with interviews and guest posts, the most recent one yesterday on Reading Is My Superpower. In conjunction with most of those, I have offered a free copy of my novella. And the return has been good, in my opinion.

My question to you is whether you have ever participated in such an activity--as an author, a host, or by leaving a comment hoping you'd win the copy of the book being offered. I'd like to hear your experiences and motivations. And I promise not to tell anyone--it will be our secret.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Interviewed Today

Interviewed at "Reading Is My SuperPower" blog today. Read whether I like apples or oranges better (and maybe win a copy of my latest novella, Doctor's Dilemma). Come back here tomorrow to read about interviews and guest blog posts in the life of an author.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Two Hardest Miles

I am not a runner. To me, the only reason to run is if you're being chased. But there are runners who read this blog, even some of you who run the 26+ miles of a marathon. Power to you, but as for me, no thanks.

I'm rereading (for the umpteenth time) the books written by the late Robert B. Parker, and I came across this bit of dialogue that hit home. Spenser, the protagonist, is going for a run with his girl-friend, Susan, who only wants to do a couple of miles.

"You realize you're running the two hardest miles," he says, referring to the first and last mile of a run.

"Maybe," she replies. "But if I didn't run those, I probably wouldn't run any."

If you think about that, the same applies to a task we don't look forward to. The first mile corresponds to getting started, something we put off as long as possible. Then, when we get started, we always encounter other stuff we need to do along the way. I know both Kay and I have that feeling sometime. And that brings us to the last mile--completing the task we set for ourselves.

So, are we running the two hardest miles? I know I feel that way sometimes, and I suspect you do as well. Want to tell me about it? I'd like to hear.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing: Return On Investment

Before I got my first publishing contract, I figured that when that contract came it meant all I had to do was furnish a manuscript (12 point Times New Roman type, 1 inch margins, contractually specified word-length) and the publisher would do the rest. But I soon learned differently.

There were edits to respond to: a macro edit, a line edit, then proofread the galleys. I needed to give input to the artist who'd be putting together the cover. And finally I had to do what seemed like tons of blog interviews, guest posts, and other social media obligations. The good news about the latter, of course, was that my publisher would provide the books that have become an integral part of such a blog tour.

When I got serious about self-publishing, one of the facts that sort of hit me between the eyes (and this wasn't until I had two or three self-pubbed offerings under my belt) was that I had to purchase all those books. I had always done a lot of my own marketing (because, as I've said before, no one is more interested in the sale of your book than you are), but when I self-published I needed to do all of it. That included sending out copies of the book to selected reviewers. And it was then that I got serious about the initials I'd been hearing for a couple of years--ROI, or return on investment.

When you're a member of a "street team," or an "influencer" for a book, realize that the book you received was one paid for by the author. In return, there are a number of things you can do to help get the word out. (The list I send is one I adapted from the one from author Jody Hedlund). Not every influencer can do everything on the list, but the author will ultimately look at the ROI of those efforts. The same goes for blog interviews and guest blogs, with the book giveaway that goes with them. If only six people comment, that's a poor ROI--if three dozen do, it's a worthwhile ROI. See the picture?

Here's my question for you: Have you ever been an influencer or member of a street team? Have you ever been influenced to buy a book by word-of-mouth recommendation from another person? Do you think blog tours, endorsements, and other marketing tools make a difference? I'd like to know.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Guest Post

I'll be posting today at the Suspense Sisters blog, where I talk about the question, Aren't All Published Writers Rich and Famous? All comments (that include their email address) will have a chance at an Amazon gift card.

Incidentally, this will be my last post there. It's been a great time with those authors, and I hope you'll continue checking out their blog (as well as this one).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

I could have sworn I already posted this, but then again, maybe I just dreamed it. That's what happens when you're in the midst of launching a new book (well, a novella), going through the regular "stuff" of which life consists, and trying to make time for the important things in your life (like golf and such). Anyway, it's officially spring and I wanted to ask your opinion.

To me, spring means that flowers will soon appear. Baseball season is almost with us. Kay is bustling here and there with spring cleaning. And both kids and parents look ahead to the end of school (with differing emotions). So, to you, what does spring mean? Leave me a comment. I'd like to know.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Writing: Guest Posting

I was supposed to post at Fresh Fiction today, but (even though I sent the material) the post hasn't appeared and I haven't received the URL. I'll let you know if it shows up.

However, there's another place you can read about me and have a chance to win a copy of my latest novella.  I was interviewed yesterday on the blog of Lena Dooley, where a commenter has a chance to win a copy of Doctor's Dilemma. Click on over there and post your comment.

I'll see you back here next Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Appearance Today

Beckie Burnham (otherwise known as Beckie By The Book) is having me as her guest today. Click here to join the conversation. Commenters will be entered to win a copy of my latest novella, Doctor's Dilemma. Click here to join the fun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't Come Up Short

My usual route for walks takes me by the second green of a nearby golf course. When the wind is behind the golfers, I sometimes find golf balls that have overshot the green and rolled into the yard across the street. But, as I watch, most of the time golfers come up short of the green with their shots. I saw this a number of times, and wondered why it occurred. The answer, I think, is that sometimes these golfers tend to overestimate their ability.

Those of you who play golf can identify with this. The announcer tells us that Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth just hit a pitching wedge dead to the pin on this 150 yard approach shot. Now there's no way in the world I'm ever going to hit a wedge that far, but the next time I play golf I'll probably remember that. As a result, I'll select a club that would make the ball carry to the green if I hit the best shot I've ever played. But because I'm trying so hard, most of the time I'll either stub my club into the ground or hit the ball way offline. It's so much better to take a less lofted club, swing easy, and see what the result is. I may be on the back of the green, even over it, but I won't be short. Cut back on my self-assessment, swing easy, and watch the result.

Is there a moral to this story? I think there is. All of us are vulnerable to what my golf partner calls "delusions of adequacy." I don't mean we shouldn't shoot for the moon--not at all. But we have to do it with the tools at our disposal. My favorite Texas Rangers baseball player was Rusty Greer. He didn't have major league speed, or power, or any of the other attributes of a star, but he made up for all of that with desire. He worked hard, and as a result he played in the majors for years. He made the best use of what he had. And so should we.

We can make it to the green. We might need to take a 5 iron instead of a wedge, but if we stay within our capabilities and don't fall victim to "delusions of adequacy," there's no limit to what we can accomplish.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Writing: New Novella (and Giveaway)

I'm posting today at the Suspense Sisters blog, where I'll be talking a bit about the differences between publishing via a "traditional" contract and self-publication. One commenter there will receive a free copy of my new novella, Doctor's Dilemma. But EVERYONE who reads through the post will see a special pre-publication price for the Kindle version that runs through this weekend. Hop over and see what I mean.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Kay and I enjoyed watching the TV series that starred the obsessive-compulsive detective, Adrian Monk. I'll have to admit that I, like the character Monk, don't care for change. Actually, his words were, "I don't mind change. I just don't like to be around when it's happening." I'll echo those words. But about the time I got into this writing thing, changes were starting, and they've sped up recently.

If you arrived here late and don't know how I got into writing, you may wish to click here to read about me. I've been fortunate enough to have ten novels and two (soon to be three) novellas published, in addition to the book that started all this, The Tender Scar. But in case you haven't noticed, traditional publishers of Christian fiction (the newer word is Inspirational, but I'm old-fashioned) are slowly dropping these lines. At last count, about ten have done this in the past couple of  years. And I got caught up in this change. The publisher with whom I signed my most recent contract encountered financing problems, and the book that was supposed to be released last November, then was rescheduled to this February, has been permanently shelved.

Around me, I saw authors producing anywhere from one to three or four books per year. Would my readers even remember me if a year passed with no book of mine to remind them? So I wrote and arranged self-publication of a long novella (a bit over 40 thousand words), which will be released next week. I've been assured by my readers that they're ready to read what I put out there, so in gratitude I've arranged a pre-publication price of 99 cents for the Kindle version of Doctor's Dilemma. Sorry, but there's no special deal on the print version. The regular price goes into effect on Monday, when the book releases.

To order the Kindle version (and you can read any Kindle book on your PC, Mac, or smart phone--do a Google search for the free app that makes that possible), click here. It's my way of saying, "Thanks for waiting.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Writing: Is There A Shift Toward Self-Publication?

Have you noticed more authors whom you follow self-publishing their work? And have you wondered why this shift?

Authors may choose self-publication for a number of reasons. Some of them don't wish to give up a significant portion of the monetary return for their efforts in return for a publisher taking over all the responsibilities that go with publication of a novel. Some of them who would like publishers to give them a contract can't get one because the genre in which they write no longer sells...and publishing houses are a for-profit business. And that's where the industry is right now.

In case you haven't noticed, a number of publishers have chosen to discontinue their fiction lines over the past year or two. When a well-known publishing house did this a couple of years ago, life seemed to move forward for most people. It was like the comic definition of shame vs. catastrophe: When an earthquake ravages a foreign land, we think "What a shame." When we get a splinter in our finger and can't get it out, that's a catastrophe. This change in publishing might have caused a bit of concern, but it wasn't a catastrophe...except for the writers affected by the change (and their readers).

That movement away from published Christian fiction has gained a lot of traction, and it's time to ask you, the readers, this question: Does it make any difference to you whether the novel you read comes from an established publishing company or is self-published? There might have been a time when some self-published work was filled with typos and covers were less than optimum. But in the past year, writers have begun to employ professional editors and designers. They've learned to pay attention to proof-reading. Does it show? Can you even tell nowadays when a book is self-published? And do you care?

Leave your opinions in the comments section. I'm anxious to read them. And, by the way, I've self-published a novella, Doctor's Dilemma, which releases a week from Monday. If you have a Kindle, you can get it for a pre-publication price of 99 cents.

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