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

Marketing Tips from Book Publicist

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 24, 2015

Maryglenn McCombs, book publicist, spoke at the recent Florida Chapter of MWA meeting. These are my notes from her speech.


“Publishers are looking for authors who have platforms.” How do you get one?

  • Join professional writers’ groups and get involved. Besides the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Maryglenn mentioned Crime Writers Association of North America, Independent Book Publishers Association, and
  • Attend conferences and get connected with other people in the industry.
  • Ask your writer friends for endorsements. Make sure they are recognizable names in your genre.
  • Write a good book.
  • Have a professional product so that you’re taken seriously.
  • Also: Write a blog; comment on other authors’ posts; become active on Facebook and Twitter; share news and interesting articles.

Maryglenn mentioned that an off-press date is when the printing is finished, but it’s different from the release or pub date when the book is available for sale. If you can do it, time your pub date with an event or holiday. For a historical, you can set the release date around an event or a particular date in history.

Aim for review coverage at or after the book is available for purchase. Reviews any earlier are not helpful. The exception is trade media that serve bookstores and libraries.

Readers read. Radio people listen. TV viewers watch. So how do you reach the readers?

“Book promo is a marathon, not a sprint.” Three to six months ahead of your pub date, send info to syndicated reviewers, consumer print media, trade media, and larger online outlets such as:

The Freelance Star
The Bismarck Tribune
Mysterious Reviews
Mystery Fanfare
Stop You’re Killing Me

Promote your book for up to one year after its release. Target local media, alumni groups, newspapers where you grew up, niche markets relating to topics in your book, other groups where you’re a member, media in the town where your book takes place.

Share your news if you win an award, your book goes into a second printing, or you sell more rights.

Have available advance reading copies in print and digital formats; a jpg of your cover in 96 dpi and 300 dpi; a professional headshot; a website with your contact info; a one-page press release or media sheet with your book’s data; a 175 word or less story blurb; web links, and an author bio. “Brevity is the soul of wit” for press releases and pitches. Also prepare your elevator pitch.

To find reviewers, look for similar titles and Google them for reviews and media coverage. When contacting reviewers or press people, cast a wide net. Do your research ahead of time and address the proper person by name. Be polite, but also be persistent. Follow the submission rules on blogs and review outlets. Be accommodating to their requests. Do not ask a reviewer to send you a copy of the review. It shows you’re not reading her posts. Follow their sites and leave comments to maintain a relationship. Send a follow-up thank you for a review and ask the reviewer’s permission to use quotes from it. What counts is how you react after media coverage. Always say thank you, even for a bad review. i.e. “It’s feedback like this that will make me a better writer.”

What Works

Print Media
Launch Parties
Steady Media Coverage
Personal Contact with Booksellers
Starred Reviews
Winning Awards or Being Nominated
Big Endorsements
Your book put on “Best of…” Lists or Gift Guides

What Doesn’t Work

Radio Tours
Bad Covers
Lengthy Book Tours
Book Trailers
Mass Mailings
Swag and Gimmicks
Asking Readers for Amazon Reviews
“Buy my Book” Social Media Tactics. Share your real news, research tidbits, history of a region, writing tips. Work on social media for up to thirty minutes twice a day. Be engaging and play nice.

Seek “evangelists” or fans who will tell everyone about your book. But don’t let them manipulate posts online as that’s unethical. You want people who will tell their friends and book clubs about your work, hand out your bookmarks, and recommend your titles.

Disclaimer: These statements are my interpretation and any errors are my own.

Here I am with Kathryn DePalo and Kat Karlton aka Karen Kendall.

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 19, 2015

You can’t complete a full-length novel without a strict code of self-discipline. Imagine all the distractions we have throughout the day. How can a writer put these aside to focus intently on a book? How can we face a blank page each day, knowing we have to fill in the words? How can we concentrate day after day, month after month, on the same story until it’s done?

It takes immense self-discipline. You can train yourself to do it. First, you must set an attainable goal. Don’t think about the 300 page manuscript you have to complete or the 80,000 minimum word count. Consider how many pages you can reasonably complete each day. Set a daily goal. Determine what time of day is your most creative and set your starting hour. You will complete your pre-writing rituals and get down to business each day…when?

Now consider how many days per week you’ll be able to get this done. Do you want a five-day work week with weekends off? Or do you have a day job, so you have to binge write on weekends? How about allowing for doctor appointments, lunch with friends, and business meetings? Now set a weekly goal.

Use your tabulations from above to figure out your monthly projections. Then set monthly goals.

Beyond all this is the deadline you set for the first draft. Always leave leeway for sick days or vacations or unexpected visitors from out of town. When is your expected completion date?

Keep in mind that these deadlines are somewhat variable. Let’s say you’ve set five pages per day as your attainable goal. One day you might write two pages. Another day you might write seven pages. But your overall goal is twenty-five pages per week. As long as you reach the weekly goal, you’re okay.

Now comes the hard part. You need to practice BICHOK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. You must do this day after day, no matter how tedious it becomes. Progress may seem slow, but even if you complete two pages a day, you’re moving forward. That’s the important thing. Do not stop to revise your work. You can fix it after it’s done. Keep moving ahead.

woman computer

Non-writers don’t realize how hard it is to accomplish these goals. It’s easier to make plans with friends, play on Facebook, or do the household projects you keep putting off. You’d rather do a hundred other things than stick to a writing schedule. But the only way you’ll write that book is through sheer determination. You WILL do it despite temptation.

So set your goals, grit your teeth, and get your butt in the chair. You’re allowed to take an exercise break, but then sit back down and finish your daily goal. When done, you can have the reward of checking your email and social media and going out to have fun. The next day, it starts all over again. Put on those blinders while you write and keep going full-speed ahead. Many people say they want to write a book. Only a true writer at heart will finish one after the other.

What’s your method for getting the work done?

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Fun in the Sun Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 13, 2015

Florida Romance Writers Fun in the Sun Conference

Featuring Keynote Speaker NYT Bestselling Author, Carla Neggers, with Special Guest Speaker, Dr. Debra Holland, Bestselling Indie Author

Conference 2016

DATE: Saturday, January 16, 2016
TIME: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
PLACE: Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., 6th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Editors & Agents:
Kristine Swartz, Berkley
Charles Griemsman, Harlequin Desire
Karen Thomas, Publisher of Cleis Press
Marlene Stringer, Stringer Agency

Great Workshops:
Marketing on a Shoestring
The Indie Road to Success
Maintaining a Long-Term Career
Beginning Writers’ Boot Camp
Conquering the Synopsis
Editor/Agent Panel Spotlight

Event will conclude with a public BOOK SIGNING that is open to all registered authors! Anyone interested in signing should email

PLUS…PLUS!!! A Sunset Cruise on the Intercostal Waterway – Friday @ 6:00 pm

FRW Members:
Saturday only – $90
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $115
Sunset Cruise only – $35

Saturday only – $100
Conference + Sunset Cruise – $125
Sunset Cruise only $40

Hotel accommodations are available. Visit our website for more information and to register:
For questions, please email

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

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


Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 9, 2015

I was invited to give a talk for the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series in Bradenton, Florida, followed by a high tea, on Wednesday, October 21.

We arrived the day before at this surprisingly large town on Florida’s west coast just north of Sarasota. After crossing a bridge spanning the Manatee River on Business Route 41, we swung left to the Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast. This lovely historic house was built in 1913 and later expanded as a wedding venue. It has six bedrooms, each with private bath. The rooms are decorated with many interesting knickknacks. From the moment you enter, the host and hostess greet you warmly and see to your every need.

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Here’s the house next door:


Drinks and appetizers are complimentary pre-dinner. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and chatting with other guests before heading over to the Riverhouse Reef and Grill for dinner. This was a lovely setting on the river, and we enjoyed our meal of salmon with a lemon dill sauce. Here we visited with my former critique partner, author Sharon Hartley, who’d made the trip to join us. Our appetizers, besides a bowl of green olives and another one of a strange orange fruit:

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In the morning, our B&B hosts served us a sumptuous breakfast on the sunny enclosed porch. The choices were too many and highly tempting. A cart was rolled over to our tableside. It held a bread basket (croissants, nut bread, French bread slices); yogurt parfait; fruit cup; selection of cheeses; orange juice; watermelon smoothie. Who could eat all this? But that wasn’t all! Our host brought over a plate with scrambled eggs and a panini sandwich. More weight gained!


Barely able to move after this enormous meal, we staggered to the car and headed into town. Free until the afternoon, we visited the South Florida History Museum before moving on to my first engagement of the day at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. I gave my scheduled talk, which was video recorded for an educational TV station, fielded questions from readers in the audience, and signed books courtesy of Bookstore One from Sarasota.

P1050056Nancy Bradenton

Then we moved on to Latte Luna, a delightful café in town, where we and other guests were treated to a high tea. More food! This meal started with scones and jam, then proceeded to a plate filled with some sort of spinach and cheese concoction, plus three little sandwiches. We finished with desserts including an iced banana cake, oatmeal cookie, and iced cupcake.


If you’ve been following my blogs, now you know why going away from home is a sure way for me to gain weight. A couple of Halloween events coming up will be fun but won’t help in that regard. Then I MUST focus on losing the extra pounds before our upcoming cruise.

Since we got out of the tea room late, we stayed for a night at the historic Hampton Inn in downtown Bradenton. I liked the décor and architecture of this hotel that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.

See my Guest Blog on “Far-Flung Family Ties” at and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Peril by Ponytail (Bad Hair Day Mystery #12).

Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Bouchercon: Day 3

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 30, 2015

Saturday at Bouchercon began with the New Author Breakfast. Anyone could attend, but each table ideally held one or two debut authors with a centerpiece of books. The authors were introduced one at a time, and each had a few minutes to tell us about his book. A list was provided on each table with the authors’ names and their debut titles. I checked off the ones which interested me, and I hope to add those titles to my TBR list.


That afternoon, I attended a panel on Danger and Death in Suburbia. Speakers included Greg Herren, Mary Sutton, Meredith Anthony, and Lori Roy, with Katrina Nildas Holm moderating.

These stories involve a dichotomy, with beautiful settings where nothing bad should happen but crimes do occur there. We have expectations of people who live in suburbia. You’ll often hear, “He was the nicest man,” about a neighbor who commits a crime. Suburbs are not as peaceful as they appear.

People believe marriage is forever. Then you live together and experience the pressure cooker of constantly being with someone else. This togetherness can inspire crimes.

These types of mysteries often involve ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The highest stakes come from your loved ones. Romantic suspense involves things that frighten women. These are more internal stories.

Why do people keep secrets? Shame is often the motivator. People will kill to hide their secrets, so others will not think badly of them. There is also the pressure to succeed. If we all work hard, why aren’t we at the top? So we cast blame on others. We say, “She slept her way up the ladder”, or “He must be corrupt.” We’d like to believe successful people are not as perfect as they seem.

The Anthony Awards Ceremony capped the evening.


As for the rest of the time, I hung out and schmoozed. Here are photos of my writer pals.

BeckOliveSuzBeckyCarla NortonCherylNanConSanNancyDirk WyleDon BrunsDonConSandyJamesJim NanHeather

Toni Kelner RickMaryLou NeilNan

From left to right, starting at the top: Rebecca Swope, Olive Pollak, Suzanne Baginskie; Rebecca Swope; Carla Norton; Cheryl Hollon, Nancy J. Cohen; Con Lehane, Sandra Balzo, Nancy J. Cohen; Dirk Wyle; Don Bruns; Don Bruns, Con Lehane, Sandra Balzo; James W. Hall, James O. Born, J. Kingston Pierce; Nancy J. Cohen, Heather Graham; Toni L.P. Kelner; Rick Wymer, Mary Lou Benvenuto;  Neil Plakcy, Nancy J. Cohen

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

Bouchercon: Day Two

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 26, 2015

Friday, October 9, at Bouchercon started out with the Sisters in Crime Breakfast. Here we heard about all the wonderful programs this organization offers.

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Then I attended a panel on Paranormal Mysteries with Heather Graham, Alexandra Sokoloff, Lorena Peter, Toni Kelner, and Rochelle Staab as moderator.


Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretation and any errors are mine.

The definition of paranormal includes any phenomena that is beyond normal experience and scientific explanation.

Is there evil in the world? Do we believe in witches? This question of belief is part of the mystery. Some elements used in the speakers’ stories include witches, energy vampires, skeletons, and ghosts. Ghosts are more possible than other creatures, Heather said. We want to believe in the afterlife. Alex agreed people like to be scared. Lorena admitted that family experiences and personal stories influence her books. Tony was inspired by TV shows, such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. Heather liked The Twilight Zone.

Alex said the scariest things are what people do to other people. She has to scare herself as an author, note the experience, and then scare the reader. Heather suggested the scariest things are what we do in our own minds. Lorena delivers messages from spirits. “They are out there.”

Why do people read these stories? They want more control over their lives. They like to have the powers. The little bit of magic is appealing. Ghost stories relate to the history of sites. Heather mentioned residual versus active hauntings. Alex likes the sensual thrill of the unknown with a slow build to an exciting climax. As for ideas? They are all around. Keep a dream journal. And listen to people with interesting stories.

Besides these authors, check out Maggie Toussaint’s Gone and Done It series with a psychic sleuth.

Preventing a Mystery Series “Jumping the Shark”


Panelists included Nancy J. Cohen, Candace Robb, Lisa Unger, Laurie R. King, and Francine Mathews as moderator.

We spoke about how we keep a series fresh and then fielded questions from the audience. Ideas that I spoke about included:

The relationships between recurring characters should evolve and change like in real life.
Switch locations every few books but not too often.
Learn something new that excites you for each story.
Bring in new characters or focus on a different secondary character for a change of pace.
Also consider having a continuing personal thread that isn’t resolved right away.
If you really need to step away for a break, think about doing a short story or novella, either with your main characters or from the viewpoint of a secondary character.

Coming Next: Mysteries for Young Adults

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

Changing Face of Publishing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 23, 2015

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at Bouchercon in Raleigh, NC began with author speed dating. This meant authors hopped from table to table giving a two minute pitch for our books. We went to 15 tables and repeated our spiel at each one. It’s intense but a great way to meet readers and tell them about your work.

Speed Dating

I attended my first panel on the Changing Face of Publishing. Panelists were Juliet Grames, Bob Gussin, Jim Azevedo, Joshua Kendall, and Andrew Gulli as moderator. Here are the highlights based on what I heard. Disclaimer: These notes are based on my interpretation and any errors are mine.


The editor for Soho Crime said they prefer books with a multi-cultural or global angle.

It’s important for brick-and-mortar stores to be flexible regarding where they shelve books.

“We’re not trend followers. You want to write the book I’ve never seen before.” This editor wants to learn something new, so the educational aspect is important to her. She doesn’t acquire a lot of new authors because her publishing house cherishes their loyal writers who’ve been there a while. Authors who bring individuality are desirable.

Self-published authors in the past 3 to 4 years have really upped their game. If you are considering self-publishing, you need to get an editor.

Be on Facebook and Twitter, go to libraries and give talks, get out there…Publishing has exploded and given everyone an opportunity.

Early endorsements help as they are put on advance reading copies where booksellers see them. Social media platforms; personal relationships with booksellers, reviewers, and bloggers are important.

What accounts for the sophomore slump with book two? The author feels more rushed because of deadlines. They have less support as all the friends who came to their events for the debut novel aren’t there this time. The story may not be as new and interesting as the first book.

Strong characters are the key to success. If readers like the characters, they’ll come back for the second book. Your work needs time to build an audience, so don’t rush the next one out there.

Are e-book sales hitting a plateau? Many of the respondents said yes. But the data analyzes money, not necessarily the number of units sold or downloaded.

Young people will read the same book in audio, print, and ebook.

Tweet This: Taking Social Media to the Next Level


Deborah Lacy moderated this panel with Maddee James, Janet Rudolph, Cara Brookins, and DruAnn Love. These panelists spoke about using Twitter for self-promotion. They advised authors to choose the social media sites we enjoy and do them really well. Know your audience. Young adults are more into Instagram than Facebook. Say more than “buy my book.” Start a discussion. Get people involved. Have fun. Make every tweet count. Use less words so people can re-tweet. Visuals draw people in. Young people like many more hash tags than older adults. Team up with other authors and cross-promote.

After the Opening Ceremonies, a BBQ dinner followed in a tent across the street.


Next: Friday at Bouchercon

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

New Smyrna Beach Book Festival

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 16, 2015

This active little town on Florida’s east coast near Daytona holds lots of festivals, fairs, competitions and social events. I was excited to be invited as a speaker for their recent Book Festival. After arriving at the beachside Best Western on Friday (Oct. 2), we joined the event organizers and other authors for drinks and hearty appetizers at Barracudas down the street. A stiff breeze bent the palm fronds as remnants of Hurricane Joaquin blew past the coast. We enjoyed the company and getting to know our weekend group.

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Saturday morning at 10am, a bunch of us authors were on a panel together. Moderating the panel was a fellow from UCF, one of the sponsors. We spoke a bit about our work and answered questions from the audience. Then we each got an hour spot to do a talk. Mine wasn’t until 4pm, so I met my husband for lunch at That’s Amore for Eggplant Parmigiana. Afterward, we strolled down Flagler Avenue, enjoying the seaside ambiance, the shops, and the multitude of cafes.

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Back at the conference center in the middle of town, I hung out in the book room before taking a seat to listen to Patrick Kendrick. Like me, he’s a Florida chapter member of Mystery Writers of America. Patrick spoke about his fascinating thriller, The Savants. Then it was my turn. We had a decent sized audience who asked good questions.

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That night, we all met again for drinks and appetizers at Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille. They treat their authors well! The book festival was a memorable and pleasant experience, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet all the persons involved.

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And here is a yummy Key Lime dessert:


For more info on this festival, go to:


Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Conferences, Florida Musings, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Website Launch

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 29, 2015

My new website has launched! Come and take a look:

Header Website

I love the colors, artistry, and layout. It’s SO much better than what I had before. Thanks to Dee Tenorio for her amazing talent and design. I highly recommend her services at Laideebug Digital.

So what do you think? I’ve needed this upgrade for a while, so I am excited to have finally done it. Now you can view my books based on series or genre. It’s so much easier to navigate.

Between my book launch for Peril by Ponytail and getting the website up to speed, I haven’t had much time for blogging. And I’m leaving soon for the New Smyrna Beach Book Festival and Bouchercon, so I’ll be gone for the next few weeks. This means I’ll have lots to talk about when I get home, but you’ll have to wait a bit to hear it. In the meantime, you can follow my tweets and posts on Facebook for when I’m able to go online. This hiatus might last until November unless I can squeeze in a post before my next events in Bradenton, FL. For details on these events, Click Here.

So enjoy the beginning of the Fall season, and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for your support!


Contest Alert–One More Day!

Enter Now to win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. U.S. Residents only please.


Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

New Smyrna Beach Book Festival

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 24, 2015

Hi, I have a number of upcoming events where I’d love to meet you in person. Coming up is October 3, Saturday, 10:00 am, New Smyrna Beach Book Festival, Coronado Civic Center, 223 Flagler Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169. At 10:00 am, I’m on a panel with several other authors. Then at 4:00 pm, I’m speaking about Peril by Ponytail with time for reader Q&A. If you’re in the area, I hope you can attend! For more in-person events, click my Appearances tab above.

NSB Poster

Contest Alert!

Enter Now to win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. U.S. Residents only please.

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


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