Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is Self-Publishing For You? ... by Susan Gourley

The world of publishing is changing fast, and it takes a supernatural ability to see the future to predict what will come next. The options available for writers increase in number and variety every day.

Many authors are taking the path of hybrid author as their chosen way to build their career. A general description of hybrid author is a writer who does some self-publishing, sometimes called indie-publishing, and also receives contracts from traditional publishers. Those traditional publishers may be the ‘big boys’ based in New York or it could be a small press.

The choice of what path to seek is an individual choice with pros and cons for every direction. Self-publishing gives an author total control over the content of their works and the design of the cover. They can decide on release dates, sale price and earn a higher percentage on each sale of their book. They also don’t have to worry about their publisher going out of business or not giving their book its share of promotion.

Going with a traditional publisher means a lower percentage of earnings on each book, giving up editorial control and complete say on cover art. Considerations like release date, pricing, the title and even where your book will be available for purchase is the publisher’s domain.

Why take one publisher course, the other or both? I can only speak for my own reasons. I’ve never written a book with the express plan to self-publish it. When the publisher of my first fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles, changed focus and returned my rights, I sought out a publisher willing to reissue the books rather than self-publish. Why? Even as I write this, I've learned that two of the small presses I've been working with have made the difficult decision to close their doors. I now have two fantasy series without a publishing home again. I will search out other venues for them in the next few months. That will be a chore but I will still choose a small press over self-publishing. Again, why?

I don’t have to worry about hiring a competent editor or finding my own artwork. Both my small publishers sell my books from their own sites for higher earnings for me and also make the books available on all other retail vendors. Many small publishers, especially romance presses, have faithful customers who buy from them on a regular basis. Many publishers search out reviews for their authors and take that chore off the writer’s back. They may also have a promotions coordinator who takes care of setting up blog appearances and used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out there. All those things take time and that is why I don’t self-publish. By working with a publisher, I have more time to write that next book. And everyone agrees that the best promotion for your book is to write another one

Can you see some pros and cons that I may have missed? What is the biggest factor that directed your choice of the path you’re taken on your writing career? Has it worked out the way you thought?

Thanks so for having me, Patricia.


Thanks so much for being my guest today, Susan. The publishing world is changing so fast that we all need as much information as we can get before we make our own decisions....and then the situation changes again just when we thought we had it all figured out. It certainly pays to be flexible, doesn't it?

Susan Gourley is published in high fantasy. She is also multi-published in science fiction romance with the best-selling Recon Marines and Warrior of Gaviron series that she writes as Susan Kelley. Her latest release is The Warrior and the Governor. You can find her at Susan Says or on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Announcing the Winner of Patricia Smith Wood's "The Easter Egg Murder"

Congratulations to

Earl Staggs

who has won a copy of The Easter Egg Murder


Earl is also a mystery writer. Please check out his website to learn about his stories. He also is a contributor to the blogs

Monday, February 23, 2015

Creating a Twitter Book Promotion Campaign ... by Kenneth W. Harmon

So, here’s the situation. It is March, 2014, and JournalStone will be publishing my Paranormal Suspense novel, The Amazing Mr. Howard, in less than a year. I need to find an audience for the book, but how to do it?

I hadn’t been active on social media in some time. I decided to focus my efforts on Twitter. At that time, I had 388 followers, but hadn’t tweeted anything in months. I knew if I did tweet, I would be lucky to have a couple of people retweet it.

With the help of Twitter pros like Patricia Stoltey, I learned how to gain followers, and how to delete accounts that didn't follow me back using the website,

Ten months later, I’m up to 14,000 followers.

Having a large number of followers is great, but you still need them to retweet your tweets and help promote your book. How to do this?

If you want people to help get the word out, you must be willing to help others as well. I’ve always enjoyed promoting other writers, so this wasn’t a problem.

When you’re ready to start promoting your own work, you need to have content that people will be excited to retweet. This is easier said than done.

I decided to create a series of ads that featured a photograph representing a scene from the book. Because I was on a budget, I did all the photography and editing myself. I cleared out part of the basement, which I used as a makeshift studio. I also looked for interesting locations, such as The Bingham Hill Cemetery, in LaPorte, Colorado. Using the standard photo editing software that came with my computer, I adjusted the size and contrast of each picture. I then utilized Microsoft Paint to add text. I put a unique tag on each ad, followed by my name, the book title, publisher name, and date of release.

After obtaining four excellent blurbs for the novel, including three from Bram Stoker Award-winning authors, I decided to make use of them and placed a blurb at the bottom of my twitter ads.

I posted my first Twitter ad on September 6, 2014. Over the next six months, I posted eleven more ads. I only tweeted the ads one time because I didn’t want to overload Twitter with spam.

As of January 1, 2015, those eleven tweets have been retweeted over 5,500 times, with thousands of additional tweets for my book created by other users. My publisher even noticed how well my Twitter advertising campaign was doing and wrote to congratulate me.

Now if I can just figure out how to use Facebook and Google Plus.


The Amazing Mr. Howard released on Friday, February 20th, in paperback and ebook.

Kenneth W. Harmon prefers to be a man of mystery. You can't find his bio anywhere, and he didn't include one with this guest post.  The Amazing Mr. Howard would make one think the author is one scary, demented dude. However, I believe he's a very nice guy with a dark side that comes out only in his least, as far as I know. He's a member of our Raintree Writers critique group, so I've read early drafts of the Mr. Howard novel. It is not for the squeamish and faint of heart. Beware!

You can find Ken on Twitter and Facebook. And to see all of the promo flyers he created, visit him on Google+.  Here's one more of the blurbs he received to whet your appetite:

“A brilliant, supernatural debut of cunning and suspense. The Amazing Mr. Howard stays ahead of the game living up to his title, and Kenneth W. Harmon is a solid storyteller to watch out for.” - Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist, and East End Girls.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Purple Crocus, Snow, Reading, and Other Stuff

The Crocus in the Snow

I like snow the best when I don't have to go anywhere. Luckily, I don't have anywhere I need to be until Wednesday afternoon, because the white stuff has been falling since yesterday morning and we should get a little more before the storm moves on.

A lovely purple crocus bloomed close to my front door on Friday. Saturday it was closed up tighter than a drum as the snows began. At the moment, the poor purple flower sits under a big pile of snow, part of the mound left from my husband's first pass at shoveling the sidewalk.

Books and Reading

These are the kind of days I like to take a break and read for pleasure. I just finished the novella, The Wretched Walls, by Brian Kaufman, and posted my review. It's dark, and creepy, and I really shouldn't have read it just before bedtime. But for those who like dark and creepy, it's an excellent read. (Shiver...).

This morning I finished reading Knower Girl by Maggie d'Amato Goins. This one is a fine young person's thriller with a good adult cast of characters, making it an excellent crossover read. Bonnie and her mom, Rita, are on the run from the mob. There are good twists to the plot, and a unique development as Bonnie finds out she has "knowing" skills. Her psychic abilities are undeveloped but set her up for some future adventures if Goins decides to create a series.

Today I'm reading the award winning The Poacher's Daughter by Michael Zimmer. This is a well-reviewed western published by Five Star/Cengage. It has a strong female main character, too. I love that!

And the books I just purchased online (in spite of the stacks sitting on my coffee table and lining my three bookcases):  The Amazing Mr. Howard by Kenneth Harmon (more of that dark horror that draws me in and gives me nightmares) and The Con Man of Sweet Orchard by Maggie d'Amato Goins (just because I enjoyed Knower Girl so much).

Here's a tidbit about Goins:  She lives in Colorado, is a member of Northern Colorado Writers, and  usually attends the same writer's retreat I attend in the fall. Even so, I did not know about her book releases until recently. I'm not sure whether that means Maggie is bashful about self-promotion or whether I'm not paying enough attention.

Next Week's Guest Bloggers

I have two wonderful guest bloggers lined up for next week. Tomorrow is Kenneth Harmon who has written a post about his book promotion efforts for Twitter. And on Thursday, I have fantasy and romance author Susan Gourley (aka Susan Kelley) who has some thoughts on self-publishing versus small traditional presses.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The winner of four Andor stories by M. K. Theodoratus

Congratulations to

Susan Gourley (aka Susan Kelley)

author and blogger

for winning the four short fantasy stories of Andor on Smashwords

Learn more about Susan and her writing at her website and blog

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What's in a Name? ... by Patricia Smith Wood

Thanks, Patricia, for the opportunity to appear on your blog. It’s a pleasure to do a guest appearance for a writer with such a nice fan base. Besides, I have an affinity for other women named Patricia. I’m curious how and why their parents chose that particular name.

In my case, it was the “name du jour” for little girls the year I was born. The previous year’s Miss America was a “Patricia.” It had been agreed that if I was a girl, my mother got to choose the name, and her choice was Patricia. If I was a boy, my young father would choose. Because he had seen the musical movie “Show Boat” the year before, he became enamored with the riverboat gambler character. So, had I been born male, this column would be written by Gaylord Ravenal Smith. Thank God I escaped having that cross to bear throughout life.

Growing up I found an abundance of girls my age named Patricia. In my second grade class there were three besides me. I ended up as “Patsy” that year to help the teacher keep us all straight. There’s nothing wrong with the name “Patsy”—I just didn’t happen to like it. It took a while to recapture my preferred nickname—Pat.

I never disliked my own name, but I know plenty of people who’ve rebelled at the moniker they were given at birth. Some even choose to change it when they reach adulthood. Which brings me to naming fictional characters.

Writers have a wonderful advantage when assigning names to the people who spring from their keyboard. They can clue us in about the character though the name they choose. A stout older woman, secretary to the boss, wearing sensible shoes and dowdy clothing, might be named something like Frieda Gump, thereby creating a picture in the reader’s mind. Naming that woman Mary wouldn’t tell us nearly as much. To me, that’s a fun part of writing a story, but it has its pitfalls.

Beware having multiple characters with names beginning with the same letter. A story with Cindy, Candy, and Cathy might drive a reader to dump your story before it’s finished—especially if all three girls are friends and appear together frequently in the story. I keep a list of character names, and if I slip up and include more than two with the same first letter, I fix it. You can avoid confusion and change names when things get messy. At the same time take care not to repeat the same beginning letter for first and last names of one character. Often that can be a problem, creating more confusion.

It’s also a good idea to read the story aloud and see how the names roll off the tongue. I recently decided to change the first name of a major character because when I got around to reading the book to my writers critique group, the first and last names sounded awkward together. I found myself stumbling and tripping over that particular combination of syllables. I would never have realized my error had I simply read the material silently to myself.

While I worked on my last book, I discovered a great resource for choosing character names. Google “Random Name Generator” on the internet. It’s free and you can select first names for either male or female, along with last names. I’ve enjoyed exploring the possibilities by mixing the first and last names offered. I eventually find just the right combination to fit a character.

Often writers choose to use a friend or relative’s name in fiction. If you do, make sure, 1) the character receiving that name will not reflect badly on the friend or relative, or 2) ask that person if they mind having their name used in your story. I’ve found most people are pleased at the prospect, but you never know when that might not be the case, so check first. It will save you grief down the line.

Feel free to name one of your characters Patricia. I know I won’t mind. In fact, I’d be downright pleased if you did!

Patricia is giving away one copy of The Easter Egg Murder to a U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post before Tuesday midnight Mountain Time February 24th. The winner will be announced here on Wednesday the 25th.


Patricia Smith Wood’s father was a career FBI agent, sparking her interest in law, solving crime, and mystery.

After retiring from a varied and successful business career (including eighteen months working at the FBI, being a security officer at a savings & loan, and owning her own computer business) she attended writing seminars, conferences, and in 2009 graduated from the FBI Citizens’ Academy. Aakenbaaken & Kent published her first mystery, The Easter Egg Murder, in 2013. Set in New Mexico and based on a real unsolved murder, it was a finalist in the 2013 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards for Best Mystery and Best First Book. Murder on Sagebrush Lane, the second in the series, will also be published by Aakenbaaken & Kent in early spring, 2015.

Learn more about Patricia and her mysteries at her website and blog. She can also be found on Facebook and Goodreads.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More guest bloggers and other stuff

Guest Bloggers

I have such a wonderful lineup of guests through April 2nd that I hope you'll watch closely for the links on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Thursday Patricia Smith Wood will be here. A member of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America, she'll be giving away a copy of The Easter Egg Murder.

Additional guests coming soon are Kenneth W. Harmon, Susan Gourley, Shannon Baker, and Molly MacRae. And that's just through March 12th.

Starting in June

As you know, I'm not scheduling any guests during April and May so I can get through knee surgery and spend all my efforts on rehab (that's physical-therapy-for-the-knee rehab, not the other kind).

However, I'd love to get a few guests scheduled in advance for June. If you have a book coming out in May, June or July, and would like to be a guest blogger in June or July, please contact me. If you don't already have my email address, you can message me on Facebook or Twitter (or use the email link in my profile in this blog).

Be aware that while I'm rehabbing, a new website/blog will be under construction and I hope to launch in June. Some of my email addresses will change and no doubt a few other things I haven't thought of, so keep an eye out for updates.

M.K. Theodoratus giveaway

We're holding Kay's giveaway open through Friday, Feb. 20th. To enter the giveaway for four of her Andor fantasy stories (Smashwords), please leave a comment on her blog post from February 16th.

New and Coming Releases from Members of Raintree Writers

The Wretched Walls novella ebook by Brian Kaufman (Dark Silo Press) is available for purchase at for $2.99. The story:

"While renovating an old Victorian home, Garrett Jenkins finds an antique box full of vintage 1920s pornography hidden in the walls. Who was the woman in the photos? Is there a connection to the presence Garrett suspects is haunting the home? As curiosity turns to obsession, the restoration of the building suffers. His mother’s life savings and his girlfriend’s hopes for the future are on the line. But with each new discovery, Garrett steps closer to a shattering truth that may end in madness."

The Amazing Mr. Howard by Kenneth W. Harmon releases on February 20th from JournalStone.

"This is one of the most original, and completely captivating, vampire stories I've come across in years. Highly recommended!"--Joe McKinney, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Plague of the Undead

Bobbing for Watermelons by April J. Moore is coming soon, too, but the release date has not been announced. This is is women's fiction and is full of fun twists and turns and great characters.....but no vampires and no creepy things hidden behind the walls.

Our resident multi-published essayist and blogger, Katherine Valdez, has so many credits I can't list them all here. Check her out at her website and blog. She's also a social media whiz, and you can find all those links on her website.

The other two members of Raintree Writers have novels in the works, one Young Adult and the other mainstream/historical fiction. They're good writers, folks, so you'll hear about their successes one of these days too.

Don't you think I'm a lucky lady to be in such a versatile and talented critique group? I certainly think so.