Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Archive for the ‘Business of Writing’ Category

SleuthFest 2015

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 7, 2014

Early Registration is now open for SleuthFest, the premier mystery writers conference sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Feb. 26 – March 1, 2015 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Deerfield Beach, FL

SleuthFest 2015

 

· Keynote Speaker is James Patterson.

· Florida Guest of Honor is James W. Hall.

· Sunday Brunch Guest of Honor is Dave Barry.

· Agent appointments to pitch your work.

· Forensic topics.

· Writing craft, marketing, and hands-on workshops.

· Manuscript critiques by agents and editors.

· Practice your pitch workshops.

· Sunday morning Flamingo Pitch Tank.

· Cocktail Party and More!

Early Bird Registration starts now and goes until September 30, 2014.  Sign up now and save $20 on a three-day registration (MWA members $265, non-members $305).  Included in the three-day registration price are two lunches (Friday and Saturday), two cocktail parties (Friday and Saturday evening), and Sunday Brunch; four tracks with panels, lectures, and workshops; and Agent/Editor appointments. The hotel rate is $159/night, and is available a few days before and after for those attendees who want to combine an exciting conference with a vacation.

Sign up now!  www.sleuthfest.com

For more info about the Florida Chapter: http://www.mwaflorida.org/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Amazon Author Central

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 9, 2014

Amazon provides opportunities for authors to have input on their book pages through Amazon Author Central. Watch out that this opportunity doesn’t bite you.

Recently, a reader emailed to say that when she went to order one of my earlier mysteries, two author names showed on the page. I should notify Amazon that the other person wasn’t me.

Actually, I replied, I am Nancy Cane. That’s the pseudonym I’d used for my earlier romance novels. However, this name does not belong on my mystery titles.

I went to the URL the reader had sent me, and sure enough, when you scrolled down, both Nancy Cane and Nancy J. Cohen were listed under Authors.

Accessing my account at Amazon Author Central, I clicked on Books, selected this title, and requested a correction. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because each title has several editions. I had to request a correction on each edition by filling out a form.

All was fine until I got a response from Amazon that they’d made the corrections I had requested, totally removed my Nancy Cane author page and merged it into my Nancy J. Cohen author page. However, this author page had a TOTALLY DIFFERENT URL and was missing 4 of my videos, my 400+ Likes, my events, plus it had an outdated bio.

All over the web (and in my ebooks), I have given this link as either http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-J.-Cohen/e/B001HD1ELI/ or https://www.amazon.com/author/nancyjcohen. Now this link goes nowhere.

Panic set in. I spoke to a rep on the phone who said he’d notify the technicians to see if they can restore my original page. This can take 3 to 5 days, if they ever respond. I hope they fire the guy who misread my corrections and totally screwed things up.

If they can’t restore it, I have to go around to my numerous sites, including any self-published works on Amazon, and change the URL. I’ll also have to campaign to readers like yourselves to Like my page again, add in all my lost videos and events, etc. Let’s hope they can restore the original. What they can’t restore in my faith in them. I don’t dare request any more changes through Author Central or they might mess up again.

I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Agents and Editors: Do Your Due Diligence

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 1, 2014

 Do Your Due Diligence

My husband and I have been investigating local contractors prior to doing an update on our three bathrooms. Here are the results of our search. Stay with me, and I’ll relate this process to your writing career.

Contractor #1 has a modest showroom that offers a variety of product choices and designs. Their rep came to our house, took measurements, and made knowledgeable suggestions. He pointed out the electrical outlets that he said needed to be updated to code, and that would cost $150 for an electrician. He gave us a written estimate, and the pricing seemed reasonable.

We got the name of this company through ads in the unsolicited home circulars we receive. I looked the company up online. Bad reviews. Then I called an electrician as one of those outlets he’d mentioned failed. The electrician found the fault in the overhead light wiring, fixed it, put in a new dimmer switch at my request and charged only $85. He said the other outlet was fine and neither needed to be changed to be brought up to code. Uh-oh. If Contractor #1 wasn’t telling the truth about one item, what else might he suggest that would inflate the price? My husband was turned off by the negative reviews.

Here is what we have:

FamilyBR Cabinet  Shower Wall

Contractor #2 has a ritzy showroom with high-end sinks, cabinets, toilets and accessories. A receptionist greeted us upon our entry and asked if we’d like coffee or a soda. Then a salesman came to guide us around and ask about our needs. Right up front, without viewing our measurements, he quoted a remodeled shower at $10-15,000. This wasn’t for anything else we needed and seemed extraordinarily high, nearly double what the first guy had quoted. We weren’t changing the configuration, just redoing the walls and fixtures. Glancing at our casual clothes, he didn’t bother to have us fill out a customer form but gave us his card.

How did we learn about this company? It was recommended by a friend, who knew another friend who’d used them and was happy. They lived in a waterfront condo on the Intracoastal and no doubt had funds to spare. Clearly this company, with its high overhead, catered to wealthy customers. My husband didn’t care for their arrogant attitude.

Here is what I want:

P1000928   P1000927

Contractor #3 has a showroom in a quiet back street downtown but not in a great area. The office is tiny with a few choice cabinetry samples as well as a narrow choice of hardware and sinks. You have to order your own tile but they would install it. We were referred to the owner by a friend who’d used her services and was pleased with the results. The lady in charge wouldn’t give us a quote until we gave her our measurements and picked samples of styles we might like. Her base quote was within range of what we’d like to spend. When I looked them up online, I found a basic website but not much else.

Contractor #4 we discovered by viewing their name on a truck in the neighborhood and seeing their workmen in action. I found their website and got the address. Where was it? It turned out to be a mail box in the local UPS store. No physical presence. As I walk around the block, I see their logo trucks in front of the neighbor’s home. They’re obviously working there. But no physical office or showroom? That’s always a warning sign for me.

So what’s our choice? We’ve asked Contractor #3 to come out with her installer and see our layout before giving us a more accurate quote, and that won’t include the cost of the tile. But so far, she’s the best of the bunch.

Which one, if any, would you choose?

So how does this lengthy dissertation relate to writing? You need to be just as careful when researching agents and editors. Do they work for a reputable firm? What can you find out about them online? Can your fellow authors provide recommendations? Who’s worked with this person or publishing house, and were they happy? Check over at Editors and Predators for warnings about unscrupulous persons to avoid. Google them online and see what pops up. Look for them on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. In other words, do your due diligence. Don’t accept someone who looks good, like that company with the ritzy showroom. They might be perfect for certain clients but not for you. Check the approved publisher list of a professional writing organization in your genre. And determine your criteria before starting your search. If you get any negative vibes, listen to them. Here are some additional resources:

http://aaronline.org/
http://www.agentresearch.com
http://www.agentquery.com
http://pred-ed.com/
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com
http://www.querytracker.net
http://www.savvyauthors.com
http://www.sfwa.org/Beware


Tomorrow I’m at the Kill Zone speaking about “Avoiding Info Dumps.” Be sure to visit!

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Follow my Guest Blogs

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 25, 2014

Please follow me this week around the blog sphere in these locations:

June 24, Tuesday, The Write Chris – Author Interview “From Fantasy to SciFi to Mystery”
http://thewritechris.blogspot.com/2014/06/from-fantasy-to-sci-fi-to-mystery.html

June 25, Wednesday, Writing Novels that Sell – “10 Tips To Make Your Cozy Mystery Sell”
http://writingnovelsthatsell.com/10-tips-to-make-your-cozy-mystery-sell/2014/06/
Commenters on this blog will be entered into a drawing for an ebook copy of Hanging by a Hair.

June 27, Friday, Femmes Fatale – “Giving Back to the Writing Community”
http://femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/06/giving-back-to-the-writing-community.html

 

Posted in Appearances, Author Interviews, Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Planning a Writers Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 18, 2014

Today I’m talking about Planning a Writers Conference over at the Kill Zone. Come join me at http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/

I give suggestions for laying the groundwork. Once you’ve booked the hotel, set the date, and acquired your keynotes, you are ready to nail down the details.

Comments are welcome!

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Fiction Writing | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Self-Publishing Bookkeeping

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 5, 2014

In attempting to fill in my tax spreadsheet to bring it up to date, I am muddled in the expenses for self-publishing from back in February. Like, where does the purchase of ISBN numbers fit into the grid? I’ve added line items for my formatter and cover designer, and it took me over an hour to track down those costs and date the invoices for my records. Then there are the bookmarks, postcards, and door hangers I’d ordered. Those go under advertising expenses. But what about the proofs from Createspace that I had printed and mailed? The copies of my book that I bought, and the cost difference compared to the number sold on consignment via bookstores?

P1030420

Hey, and this doesn’t even include the royalty income. Talk about confusing! Amazon alone sends me five different payments, not including Createspace. And lest you think I am making gobs of money, one of those payments was for thirty-five cents. Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are added to my list. By now, I’ve started a separate sheet just for ebook income, and another sheet that includes all royalty income for the year.

I hope my accountant understands all this when I send it to him. It sure is easier when a traditional publisher sends you a statement and a check. Being an indie publisher means keeping track of all the income streams and expenses yourself.

Do you have any tips to offer? What’s your method?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Malice Domestic 2014

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 14, 2014

What is Malice Domestic? As it says on the Website, Malice is an annual fan conference that focuses on the traditional mystery or “books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.”

Malice Banner

Although I’ve been attending Malice Domestic for a number of years off and on, this was the first time I participated in Malice-Go-Round. What a fabulous event! On Friday morning, 200 people filed into a room with 20 tables. At each table sat 2 authors and 8 readers. As an author, I had about two minutes to give a pitch about my book and then the other author at my table took a turn. I was lucky to pair with Linda Joffe Hull who writes the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series. We hopped from table to table repeating the same spiel twenty times. I lost my voice by the end but was exhilarated by meeting so many mystery fans. This event was worth the price of registration alone. If you get in, bring enough promo items for all the tables.

Nancy J. Cohen and Linda Hull  Malice Go Round

Friday night was a dessert party. This gave me another way to connect with old friends and make new ones. I chatted with Marilyn Levinson, author of Murder A La Christie, waved hello to Toni Kelner, and caught up on news with Carol Nelson Douglas, who writes the popular Midnight Louie cat mystery series among others. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Barbara Graham, a quilting enthusiast who combines her talent with writing mysteries.

Carole Nelson Douglas and Nancy J. Cohen   Maggie Toussaint, Nancy J. Cohen, Barbara Graham and Polly Iyer

Saturday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. About 160 members attended from 50 chapters nationwide. The Guppies (Great Unpublished) wore colorful boas. Besides this program, SinC offers a monitoring project, quarterly newsletter, grants for chapter events, subsidies for members to attend Writers Police Academy, writing courses, educational seminars and an annual Publisher’s Summit.

Sisters in Crime President   Sisters in Crime Breakfast

Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke about the Writes of Passage collection of essays, and each member received a copy.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Later that morning began the panels. I attended one on Book-Themed Mysteries, ate the box lunch available at the lobby bar, checked out the Dealer’s Room and laid out my promo materials in the Hospitality Room at the end of the corridor. That afternoon, I spoke on a panel about social issues in mysteries. Fellow panelists were John Clement, Judy Hogan, and Linda O. Johnston with Debra H. Goldstein as moderator.

Panel on Social Issues at Malice Domestic  Nancy J. Cohen

At five o’clock, the afternoon speakers gathered at the Mezzanine level for a mass book signing.

Booksigning   Nancy Signing

Later that evening, Maggie Toussaint, Barbara Graham, and I headed to the famous Agatha Banquet where the awards were presented. Everyone looked their best.

Agatha Awards  Maggie Toussaint and Barbara Graham

Sunday morning had more panels. I enjoyed the talk on Paranormal Mysteries with authors Carolyn Hart (“Death at the Door”), Molly MacRae (“Spinning in her Grave), TJ O’Connor (“Dying to Know”), and Maggie Toussaint (“Gone and Done It”) and moderated by Aimee Hix.

Paranormal Mysteries   Maggie Toussaint

They discussed the rules and limitations of their paranormal element and why they write about it.

Why are these stories so popular? They offer an escape from reality to readers who want to experience something new. Readers can enter someone else’s imaginary world that’s fun, exotic, and touches upon the unknown. As mystery fans, we want to solve a puzzle, and what greater puzzle is there than “What’s on the other side?”

Do ghost stories and detective tales go together? “Death is a mystery,” Molly replied. Maggie Toussaint, a Five Star author and member of Booklovers Bench, agreed. “These stories engage your senses and your mind.”

See Photos here: http://bit.ly/1jX7QVy

Coming Next: Our Trip to Maryland and D.C. and the beautiful flowers of Brookside Gardens

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Are you following my Blog Tour and entering my Contests?  Please click on these links for my guest posts, interviews, and chances to win some free books plus a Hanging By A Hair tee-shirt!

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Blog Tour Begins

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 23, 2014

I’ve been guest posting around the cybersphere lately. Here are the sites if you want to catch up. Comments welcome!

April 21, “Do you enjoy reading books out of seasons?” The Big Thrill Roundtable,  http://www.thebigthrill.org/2014/04/24048/

books2

April 21, “Story Magic,” Mayhem and Magic, http://mayhemandmagic2.blogspot.com/2014/04/guest-blogger-nancy-cohen-on-story-magic.html

April 22, “Hooks in Cozy Mysteries,” Musings from the Slush Pile, http://blog.juliealindsey.com/julie-anne-lindsey-writer/musings-welcomes-author-nancy-cohen/

April 23, “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?” The Kill Zone, http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2014/04/where-do-you-get-your-ideas.html#.U1e4Ilesj9s

I’ll be taking a break to go to the Malice Domestic conference and the Florida Library Association Convention but then I’ll be back in May!

 

Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Florida Musings, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 31, 2014

Marketing and Selling Your Books with Sophia Knightly

At a recent meeting of the Florida Romance Writers, Inc., USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly shared her promotional strategies. A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers’ Poll finalist, she is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, and Samhain Publishing. Her popular indie published Tropical Heat Series books have consistently been on Amazon bestseller lists and sold over 100,000 copies.

Sophia Knightly

Sophia started off by mentioning 7 book promotion strategies:

1. Image and Promotional Strategies
2. Website and Social Media
3. Conferences and Book Signings
4. Promotion and Advertising
5. Collaborative Initiatives
6. Publishing Sales Infrastructure
7. Measuring and Tracking Performance

Start by defining and creating your brand. Consider your style and marketing image. Personalize your message as much as possible. Toot your horn in your signature line and create a tagline for your brand.

Packaging the image includes your book covers, series branding, bundled box sets, stock photos. Label your work a “short novella” if it is one so readers know what to expect. Sophia recommends Gilded Heart Designs and Kim Killion as designers. For herself, she uses Pikasa for graphic design.

You’ll want to put out a newsletter featuring your author news, events, contests, and appearances.

A street team can be helpful in creating buzz, cheerleading, and reviews. Send ARCs to your team with a deadline for reviews. In return, you can provide swag and online parties. Sophia currently has 33 people in her team. She takes members off after six months if they don’t participate. She’ll show team members her new covers, ask them questions on a message board, and provide swag and a welcome package that may include T-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, trading cards, magnets, and Emery boards. She holds reader contests and gives appreciation gifts of chocolates or a gift basket at special events where she appears in person.

Build your story and themes. For example, if there’s a dog in your story, put a picture of the dog online and feature him in your Facebook posts. Create a holiday message from the dog. Sophia did a Facebook page for her dog character “Romeo”, but you could use any other secondary character as long as you do steady posts.

Attend industry conferences, hold contests, and do signings. Sign up for Autography with iPad and Authorgraph on Kindle.

“The more books you put out there, the more you’ll sell.” Check out the Author Network and Indie Romance Ink which have lots of resources.

Embed your book blurb for the sequel in the back of a book. Use vendor specific links and a newsletter sign-up link in your back material.

Promotion and Advertising Sites

Check out paid ad sites such as Book Bub , E-reader News Today, Kindle Books and Tips, Kindle Book Blast, and Book Gorilla.

Do Facebook sponsored posts for five dollars a day when you want to announce a new release, have an online party, or get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Collaborative Initiatives

Sophia reached the USA Today bestseller list when she combined her two Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You in a boxed set and reduced the price to $0.99 for a limited time sale.

She made the New York Times bestseller list through a collaborative effort with 6 other authors in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set. Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set has been on the USA Today bestseller list for three consecutive weeks since publication in early March.

Pricing

Price according to the word count. Run sales often and bundle books in a series. Offer occasional freebies or make things Permafree. Have a loss leader pricing, like the first book in a series for $2.99, while subsequent titles are $3.99. You can drop the price on sale to $.99 for a limited time like 1 to 2 weeks. Sophia will offer a box set for $3.99 and then she’ll put it on sale for $.99.

Be current on models and trends. Go back further on royalty-free sites to find images, or the same image might be used too often by other authors.

Website and Social Media

Facebook will tell you which posts are doing better. Use visual images with Facebook and Pinterest. Put up photos of fun stuff to connect with readers. If a post doesn’t have an image, less people will read it. Like your own post. The more Likes, the more people who will see it.

Use Twitter, HootSuite, Goodreads, Instagram, and do giveaways. Offer short videos. Put a video in your newsletter inviting people to your Facebook party. Interview members of your lifeboat team on video and invite people to enter your group contest.

Have a contest on Facebook giving away e-books, fun stuff that women love, and gift cards. Network by joining book groups on Facebook. Twitter is better in the morning, late afternoon, or after dinner. Have your buy links everywhere. Have a tab on your Facebook author page for your mailing list sign-up.

A lot of readers are on Wattpad. It’s a free site where you can put up the first few chapters of your book including buy links.

“Write more books. Release them often.” She believes you should have a product out every three months. It’s the number one way to sell more books and build a large readership.

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Follow Sophia Online:

Website: http://www.sophiaknightly.net/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Knightly/e/B00663POSI/

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Social Media Tips

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2014

Humanizing the Web with Marc Ensign

Marc Ensign

At a recent meeting of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, nationally acclaimed social media expert Marc Ensign advised us to be a Dick and follow the Ten Virtues when it comes to social media. He described his neighbor named Dick who welcomed him into the neighborhood and was always looking after Marc’s interests, sharing his resources and time very generously. From studying Dick’s manner, Marc decided this approach could work on social media as well. His philosophy is akin to Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You. Be kind, generous, and giving, and you’ll help to save the Internet. Here are his Ten Virtues, subject to my interpretation and the accuracy of my notes:

Be Engaged with other people. Listen intently to your connections. Build relationships. Market the people around you. Listen to them and comment on their sites. Like aspiring authors’ posts and websites. Help others get their message out. Connect and give people what they want.

Be Valuable by helping other authors who want to get published. Mentor them, tell them how you did it, and offer tips. Add value to your relationships. Make it about “let me help you” and not about selling.

Be First to offer help before you’re asked. “Let me give something to you first.”

Be Welcoming by putting people at ease, sharing ideas, introducing new options. Welcome everyone even if they disagree with you. Talk about it with them. Make it a conversation. Be open to hearing what people have to say.

Be Humble. Your purpose should be bigger than yourself as an author, than being on the bestseller list or having a high Amazon rating.

Be Authentic. Be true to yourself in all that you do.

Be Generous by helping people and giving information away. People will see you as a resource. On your website, offer free articles and other resources. Your philosophy should be “Let me give to you” rather than “Let me give to you and see what I’ll get from it.”

Be Transparent to appear more human. Talk about what problems you’re having in your writing. Like, “Here’s what I’m doing with this character. Why isn’t it working?” or, “Why isn’t this book selling?” Let people into your life and into the scary stuff of your career.

Be Perceptive by being aware of what’s going on in other people’s lives. Follow up on people’s blog posts by returning later and inquiring about an earlier issue.

Be Awesome. Reach out through your blogs, comments, and sharing. How can you be awesome for someone else?

It’s all about caring, giving, and sharing yourself without being concerned about what you’ll get in return.

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Marc Ensign has been featured in/on CNN, the Huffington Post, Inc 500, Forbes, New York Post, PR Daily, Jezebel, and ProBlogger.

Website: http://www.marcensign.com
Twitter: @MarcEnsign
http://Googleplus.marcensign.com
http://Facebook.marcensign.com
http://Linkedin.marcensign.com

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Technology, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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