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

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 »

Getting a New Computer

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 8, 2015

Are you struck with terror at the thought of getting a new computer along with upgrading your operating system? If you’re like me, you’ll put off this transition and expense as long as possible. When you start getting the blue screen of doom, however, it’s no longer avoidable. You have to upgrade or risk losing your files along with functionality.

My computer guru tried to fix the errors popping up. When he said the system was too screwed up to repair, my heart sank. I knew what that meant. Even though he’d given me a new hard drive two years ago when the original failed, this Dell desktop was five years old. Time for a new model.

I hate changing computers as much as I hate getting my teeth drilled. It’s a painful process. Yet over the years, I’ve developed a methodology. I’ll share it with you in case this information is useful to others.

woman computer

Back Up Your Material

You can never have enough backups. Use online backup services, thumb drives, external drives, or whatever other means you have at your disposal. Put one of your backup drives in another location or carry it around in your purse in case your house burns down while you are out. Plan for disaster by keeping multiple copies of your files in different locations. Print out your passwords as well so you have a guide handy when you go to sign into your sites anew.

Back up your data files, your music, your photos, and your videos. Don’t forget to back up your email inbox and contacts, and your browser favorites/bookmarks. Unless you have a mirror image service, you can’t back up your programs. These you’ll have to reinstall one-by-one.

Prepare Your Programs

Make note of which programs you use and write them down on a list. See if you have a disk and a key code, or if they’re downloadable from the Internet. Gather your original disks in one place. Also make sure you have your Internet connection info handy, like your modem and router settings and wireless password. Things will go faster if you don’t have to hunt for this information.

Hire a Geek

If you can’t do it yourself, hire a pro who can copy the data off your machine and transfer it to the new one. Do not disconnect your old computer until he has copied the material he needs.

Write Down the New Specs

Note all the specs of your new machine, including model and serial number, as listed on the box. Write these down on a piece of paper. You’ll need them when registering the new device.

Name Your Computer

Make note of the name of your old computer. You might want to name the new one the same thing for networking purposes if you have a home network.

Disconnect Dropbox

If you use Dropbox, the day of installation, sign into your account online and disconnect your old machine from the program. This is to ensure that Dropbox doesn’t read your suddenly missing files as deleted.

Here’s a tip. Periodically, I’ll “send” my dropbox files to my hard drive for a duplicate backup. Carbonite will then back up these files. That’s probably why I have so many copies of the same folders on my new machine. Better many than none. I’ll clean them up when I have time.

Reinstall Your Programs

Once your new machine is up and running, reinstall your programs. Here are some of the ones I’ve had to reinstall: Microsoft Office, Dropbox, Firefox, Adobe Reader, APC Power Chute, Norton Security Suite, Carbonite, iTunes, Dragon, Windows Live Essentials (I use Photo Gallery for photo management, Movie Maker for my book trailers, and Live Writer to upload my blogs), Skype. You don’t realize how many programs are installed on your computer until suddenly they’re no longer present. Then you have to reconfigure each one. Oh, joy. How easy it was when you could just use your computer without having to think about it. Establish the path for your new backups. Are Outlook, Dropbox, and Carbonite backing up what they should? Where are the data files in Explorer?

Verify Your Data

Make sure everything is there that should be there. If it’s not, copy from your backup drives. Check for duplicates or missing files. Between my computer guru’s transfer of my data and my own, I’ve ended up with three different folders labeled “My Documents.” I have yet to sort these out and remove duplicates. Then my latest video trailer and some of my music files were missing. I found them on my backups, but it’s possible other items might have disappeared that I won’t notice until I need them.

Reset Your Automatic Backups

If you have an online backup service like Carbonite, it freezes the program after you install it and connect to the new machine. This is so you can restore any missing files before Carbonite starts all over again. It erases your old data 30 days from restart.

Fine Tune Your Machine

Configure your screen saver, monitor brightness level, background desktop image, and icons to make the display comfortable. These little things can be unsettling until they’re resolved. Adjust the sounds. Do you want to hear a noise every time you get an email?

So far I like Windows 10. I’ve upgraded from Windows 7, and I don’t find it difficult to locate things. I’m ignoring the tiles and just have icons on my desktop. This upgrade wasn’t such a big deal. And the new machine is faster with much more memory, so that part is good. It’s reconfiguring everything and sorting out the files that confuse me. But I’m up and running, and that’s what counts. The world will settle into place once things function smoothly and I no longer have to think about the mechanics. So give your reliable machine a pat and tell it you’re grateful for its continuing operation.

What tips have you found helpful when changing computers?


Contest Alert!

Win a Collectible Handcrafted Porcelain Drummer Doll or one of two runner-up prizes – a pair Arizona crafted earrings and a signed paperback of Hanging by a Hair. I bought the doll while in Arizona doing research for Peril by Ponytail. If this link doesn’t take you to the direct page, scroll to bottom. Enter Here

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, Technology, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Mystery Writers Key West Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 21, 2015

Mystery Writers Key West Fest Part 2
Saturday, August 15, 2015

This conference is different than others in that it’s held in one big room, and there’s only one panel at a time. The morning started with “Choosing Your Point of View” with John Cunningham, Heather Graham, David Beckwith, and Carolina Garcia-Aguilera. Shirrel Rhoades moderated.


Next was “The Mystery Umbrella” where we spoke about genres. Don Bruns moderated. This panel included myself, Chuck Van Soye, Libby Fisher Hellman, James O. Born, and Mike Dennis.

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Before lunch, Sandra Balzo awarded the first annual Jerry Award, named after the late and beloved author Jeremiah Healy.


Jeffrey Deaver gave an excellent keynote speech during lunch, at which he offered spot-on writing advice.


“Does Sex Sell?” woke everyone from their post-meal lethargy. Moderated by Heather Graham, this panel included Don Bruns, myself, Jeffrey Deaver, Laurence O’Bryan, and Vicki Hendricks. We held a lively and sometimes awkward discussion. I mentioned that reader expectations matter in this regard, as in cozies where graphic sex is not appropriate. These scenes have to take place offstage in a cozy mystery, although a degree of sensuality and sexual tension are okay. Erotica is different from romantic sex in terms of genres and language used, and being too clinical in a romance novel can be a turn-off to readers. The focus should be on the emotional reactions of the characters more so than their physical actions. As for the question at the topic header, obviously the answer is yes if you consider the popularity of “Fifty Shades…” One theory put forth was that this response was due to the female empowerment issue in the story. I haven’t read it, so I can’t confirm. I like to read romance, but I don’t consider this book to be a romance novel.

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Next up was “Character vs Plot” with Robert Coburn, Sandra Balzo, Sharon Potts, and Chris Kuzneski. Libby Fisher Hellman moderated.

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We all convened at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon downtown for a buffet dinner, where it was nice to hang out and chat in an informal setting. James O. Born gave an interesting talk to a rapt audience. Late nighters hustled afterward to the Tropic Cinema for screening of a movie short titled “Swingers Anonymous”.

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Sunday morning found us at the Historic Seaport District and a breakfast buffet at Schooner Wharf. We sat and visited with our friends while overlooking a sunny marina. It was a pleasant way to end a fabulous weekend. Note the dog on the bar stool and the parrot on the boater’s shoulder.

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You can view the photo album on my Facebook page. Please Like the page while you are there.

 Contest Alert!
Name a Character in my next Bad Hair Day Mystery! Or win one of two runner-up prizes: a signed paperback of Hanging by a Hair and a deck of Marco Island Playing Cards, or a signed paperback of Shear Murder and a deck of Tropical Drink Playing Cards.


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

Mystery Writers Key West Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 20, 2015

Mystery Writers Key West Fest
Friday, August 14, 2015

Mystery Writers Key West Fest started on Friday with a presentation by a crime scene investigator and a detective. “We witness what other people shouldn’t have to witness.” Regarding crime scene shows, the detective said they have most of the technology right but not the timing for things like DNA results.

[Disclaimer: These statements are my interpretations of what I heard or scribbled down and may not be totally accurate.]

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Who shows up first at a crime scene? The lead investigator, civilian techs, detectives, and responding officers. The latter’s job is to secure the scene, identify and control any dangerous individuals, and assess the environment. Approach/Survey/Notify. They’ll call for emergency care of injured persons without contaminating the scene. Crime scene work “is almost like an art when you do it for a long period of time.” The team must secure and control people at the scene and document everyone who is present in a crime scene log. They must gather physical evidence to aid in prosecution.

Processing the Scene

The team’s composition is decided. This may include a dive team, SWAT, K-9, M.E., State Attorney, other officers or affiliated agencies. A command post is set up. “We document every single step in a crime scene.” Documentation includes photos, video, sketches, notes, and measurements. The purpose is to collect, preserve, inventory, package, transport and submit evidence.

Different types of sketches are done. A Perspective sketch depicts a view of the scene along with positioning of evidence. “It’s like pieces of a puzzle that you put together for your best guess at what happened.” A Projection sketch is a viewpoint from above. A sketch or photo of blood spatter on a gun can be revealing as to whose blood it is, the angle, etc. Another sketch may be taken using two fixed objects and measuring the distances to various pieces of evidence and/or the body.

When searching an area, methods deployed include the Lane or Strip Search, Grid Search, Zone Search, and Spiral Search.

Biological evidence will be collected after photos are done. The investigator has to keep changing gloves so as to not cross-contaminate the scene.

Investigators following up on a burglary will look for the same types of evidence. Unattended deaths are treated as a homicide until signed off by a personal physician or the M.E.

The M.E., and not a coroner, determines cause of death. [I think this is what was said, but you’d better verify my statements before using them in a novel. And different states might have different laws.]

The Sheriff’s office supersedes the local police, but they work together. Everyone in CSI is cross-trained to engage and work in different situations.

Physical evidence can include body fluids, blood, ignitable liquids, bombs, stains detected by forensic light sources, sexual assault kit results, ammo, tool marks when there’s been a break-in, tools found in the trunk of a car. Footprints, shoe and tire impressions. Electronic and digital items. Documents that can be checked for sweat, blood, and prints. And of course, fingerprints.

Plastic degrades DNA. Use paper bags to hold evidence. Shelf life of DNA is 500 years. There are only three types—black, white, and Asian.

“Love, hate, and greed are the three reasons for murder.”

Social Media with Irish Author Laurence O’Bryan

Laurence said he’d acquired blog and Twitter followers before he got published. When he sold a book, his publisher put the number of followers on his sell sheet. So get started tweeting and blogging before you’re published. “Authors must be online and accessible.” Extend your novel via maps, pictures of locations in your novel, research posts, and other online extras. Tweet items of value. Re blogging: Show pictures with your posts, use short paragraphs and a bigger font. “Engagement with other people is the Holy Grail.”



I didn’t stay for the talk on Audio Books as I had to catch the shuttle downtown to make the opening ceremonies at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon. This was a pleasingly informal setting to chat with friends and meet new ones. So many people to greet! Florida chapter MWA members present included myself (chapter president), Gregg Brickman (chapter treasurer), Heather Graham, Don Bruns, Britin Haller, Sharon Potts, Sandra Balzo, Michael Haskins, Vicki Hendricks, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Becky Swope, and more.

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As we got rained out, I passed on the subsequent bar stroll. It was getting near my bedtime anyway. More in the next post.

See the photo album on my Facebook Page. Please Like the page while there.

Contest Alert!
Name a Character in my next Bad Hair Day Mystery! Or win one of two runner-up prizes: a signed paperback of Hanging by a Hair and a deck of Marco Island Playing Cards, or a signed paperback of Shear Murder and a deck of Tropical Drink Playing Cards. Enter Now


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

Book Trailer How-To

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 10, 2015

Would you like to create your own book trailer in Windows Live Movie Maker? If so, be prepared to spend time on a learning curve. The first effort is the hardest, but then you’ll know what to do for subsequent titles. Just follow these steps that apply to Windows 7, and you’re on your way. Go Here to download Windows Essentials 2012 for free. It works with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Or check your list of Programs to see if it’s already installed on your computer.

View the Book Trailer for Peril by Ponytail:

Various companies will do trailers for you on the cheap, but their work is similar to what you can do with a slide show. I’d rather pick out the photos and music that best suits my story. If you’re a big moneymaker, a bestselling author, or perhaps a thriller writer whose work demands a broader canvas, then you can go for moving videos, productions using real actors, or voiceovers. But if you’re an average writer who wants to give your readers a taste of the story without making a big splash, this will work for you.

Do Your Homework and Watch Book Videos

Go to author sites on YouTube and find trailers for books in the same genre as your work.
Write down the text on each slide and note the type of image accompanying it.
Listen to the music. How does it make you feel? Does it create a certain mood?
Does the story move quickly while giving you an idea of the plot and main characters?
How long is the trailer? Is it too long? Or too short?
What do the credits say at the end?

Write Your Text

Now write your own text in verses to fit on each slide. Remain brief, offering your story points in as few words as possible. The text should give the reader an idea of what your story is about, the tone of your work, and an introduction to your main characters. Ask your critique partners for input. You’ll need other critical eyes to help you hone down your plot to a few sentences with punch. It’s not an easy task.

Remember the adage: Short and Simple. Try to keep your video under 2 minutes.

At the end: Add your book cover and publishing info, where readers can buy your book, music and photo credits, and review quotes if desired.

Search For Images One medium-sized image at 72 dpi for Web usage is approximately 824 x 581 px and costs 2 credits. You can buy 40 credits for $38. Music is available here too. Make sure you read the fine print on the licensing terms. If you want to use an image as a book cover, you may need an extended license. Small-sized images are 900 x 743 px and are 1 credit each. You can buy 10 credits for $35 or 25 credits for $49.

If you see a photo you like, look at the description and put that same wording into the search box. Similar photos will pop up. Or go to the photo you like and click on the Related Images displayed. Figure out how many credits you’ll need per photo and what the packages cost. Also check the licensing terms to be sure they meet your needs.

Here are more photo sites. Some of them also have music available. This one is pricey with 1 credit for $12; 6 credits for $60. (30 credits for $32) (For Blog Posts)

Whichever site you choose, register for an account so that you have a Lightbox, or a Likebox as it’s sometimes called.

In the site’s Search feature, put in keywords for the type of picture you want (i.e. romantic couple, beautiful redhead, businessman, airplane over island). Scroll down until a photo catches your fancy. Click to add it to your Lightbox (at 123rf, you click the little heart). You can search this way for Photos, Video Clips, and Music.

Match an image in your collection to each verse in your text. Then purchase enough credits to buy the ones you want. Click on the image and then on Download. Save it to your computer.

Whichever site you use, check the licensing requirements before you make your purchase. As mentioned above, some may require an extended license to use the image as a book cover, in a collection such as on a Pinterest board, on a coffee mug you offer for sale, and so on.

Search For Video (Optional)

Live action can add spice to a video but it also takes up time and increases the size of your file. Many of the sites listed above will have royalty-free video clips, but here are some more. /

Search For Music

Searching for the right music can be a time-consuming task. Decide upon the tone of your video and put keywords into the search feature on these sites. Is your story dark and scary? Light and funny? Upbeat and bouncy? Intense and mysterious? The music is important because it elicits an emotional response in your viewers.

Check the length of the music clip against the length of your trailer, and make sure it’s long enough. You can repeat the music if necessary to extend its length on your video, but there might be a slight gap where the first one ends and the clip restarts. $39.95 per track; Pay once, use forever. My Favorite.

Now What?

Open a New Project in Windows Live Movie Maker (File; New Project) and click Add Videos and Photos. Add one photo at a time, and the program will produce slides. If you want a blank slide to add text only, click the Credits button.

Once you have your pictures added, go back to the beginning. Click on Add Caption for each slide and add your text in the text box. You can drag this box to wherever you want it placed. You can also change the color of the text. If it’s a light background, choose a dark text. If you have a black or dark background, make the text white. Alter the font as needed.

You’ll now see Video Tools and Text Tools. These have little boxes where you can see the Duration. I try to have the duration of my text shorter than or equal to the video. So a video slide might run for 5 seconds, and the text for 4.50. Some slides you’ll want longer, if you have more text or if you have an image like the book cover that you want to linger on screen. Under Text Tools, choose Effects. This gives you options for how you want your text to scroll or appear on the slide. Click on Edit if you want to make changes.

Under Video Tools, click on Animations. Here you can add Transitions between slides. Position your cursor in front of each slide. Then hover your mouse over each transition effect to see what it does. Click to select. Keep in mind that the transitions cut some of the time out of the slide before and after. Each time you want to view the effect, put the cursor in front of a slide and click the Play button. Next do the same for Pan and Zoom. Make choices there so your pictures aren’t static.

When you have arranged your pictures and text to your satisfaction, click on Home and Add Music. Browse for your music file and click Open. The program adds it to your slide show. You can adjust the track as needed, like timing it to start further in by changing the Start Point. Also, hit Fade In at the beginning or Fade Out at the end if desired.

Add credits at the end by clicking Credits. This will be a text only slide. Here’s where you put the sites where you found your images and music. You’ll also want a slide to show your book cover. Either add text there or on a separate slide with your book info: Title, author, publisher, etc. The same Text Tools apply to these slides as for the others.

Remember to save your project often. Hit File and then Save Project.

When you are totally done, click File, then Save Movie and choose the Widescreen/HD version to Save to Your Computer. Your trailer is ready to upload to YouTube and elsewhere. Don’t hit the YouTube button on Live Movie Maker, or it may upload a smaller version. Then go to YouTube and upload the HD file to your account.

A book video is another tool in your promotional arsenal, but it’s not worth breaking the bank over. Doing it yourself or hiring a low-cost company is the ideal way to go. It’s another way to excite viewers about your upcoming release.

Where To Post Your Book Video

Book Goodies:
Book Trailer Central:
Book Trailers:
Daily Motion:
Preview the Book:

Remember to add your video to all your social networking sites plus your website and blog.


Watch my Trailers


Peril by Ponytail:
Hanging By A Hair:
Shear Murder:


Warrior Lord:
Warrior Rogue:
Warrior Prince:


Enter to win a signed advance reading copy of Peril by Ponytail (Bad Hair Day Mystery #12) in my Goodreads Giveaway,

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench


Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Amazon Reviews

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 22, 2015

According to some recent online posts, Amazon is changing the way it will be rating reviews.

“The new system will give more weight to newer reviews, reviews from verified Amazon purchasers and those that more customers vote up as being helpful.”

As an author, I find this promising. Recently I have revised three of my backlist titles. Some of those earlier reviews from the original books are less than stellar. I’d like to see new readers overwhelm the airwaves with positive raves about my revised and updated editions. And I certainly wouldn’t mind if Amazon removed some of those low-rated earlier posts that say my writing should have been better edited. Because those reviewers are right. My earlier editions did need more work, which I can only now see from the perspective of 15 years later.

Permed to Death, book one in my Bad Hair Day series, is a prime example. It’s full of exclamation marks and other new author mistakes. Open Road Media has put this title for sale at $1.99 this month only. This is great since it’ll attract new readers to my series. But I hope they keep in mind this is my first mystery and understand that my writing has steadily improved over the years. Some kind reviewers, who enjoyed the story, have remarked that it’s the first in the series and should be judged that way. Earlier reviewers haven’t been so accommodating. Hence my eagerness to produce revised and updated editions.

I need reviews for these new Author’s Editions so they can supersede the earlier ones. If you have read Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, or Body Wave in their revised formats, please post a customer review at Amazon, and also at Goodreads or BN if you go to those sites. These books are all on sale now for $3.99.

You can also go to an author’s book pages on Amazon and click on Has This Review Been Helpful to You? Click Yes if you feel it’s a decent review or No if it bashes the book and you don’t agree. Some low ratings may be justified but others are unusually cruel, like one star reviews that say, “This is the worst book I’ve ever read,” or “Author needs work” or “Painful to read.” Be fair. If you think the writeup applies, click yes. If not, click no. And is this true of newer editions? We’re not asking for all good reviews, only fair ones.

Please consider leaving a review for any of my new titles you pick up. Your post might encourage someone else to buy my book. And the more books that sell from the frontlist, the more the publisher will be inclined to acquire the sequel.

You count as a reader, now more than ever before in the publishing industry. Use your power to help your favorite authors.

Follow me on Amazon and find my books:

More articles on the Amazon Update:

Posted in Book Reviews, Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Book Promotion Countdown

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 29, 2015

Have you sold a book and now you’re panicking about what to do? Does the thought of book promotion strike terror into your writer’s heart? Here are some guidelines to keep you straight on the road to self-promotion. Or if you are a seasoned author, use it as a quick checklist of things to do. Always remember to be courteous, to avoid clogging the loops with your constant pronouncements, and to comment on other people’s posts in return. Don’t feel obliged to do everything mentioned here. Select what works best for you.


Send a press release to local media with an angle that will interest them.
Send notices to alumni newsletters and professional organizations, if appropriate.
Solicit cover quotes from other authors.
Get a professional photo taken or consider updating your photo.
If you’re a new author, reserve your domain name and the domain name for your series.
Create a website or update your landing page with your book sale news.
Announce the sale on your social media sites.
Send an email newsletter announcing the sale to your mailing lists.



Send advance reading copies (ARCs) to book bloggers and reviewers after making personal contact. Some sites online allow you to fill in a review request form and upload a pdf copy.
Notify booksellers and librarians about your upcoming release.
Reserve ad space in trade journals, e-magazines, and online reader sites.
Offer to write articles in trade magazines for issues matching your pub date.
As soon as you get your book cover art, order printed promo materials.
Do a Cover Reveal as an Event. You may want to time it to when your book goes on pre-sale.
Design video trailer. Some of your blog tour hosts may ask for this link along with book data.
Contact bookstores to schedule events. Offer to be a speaker at writers’ groups, community clubs, conferences, and libraries. Schedule live radio interviews for release month.
Arrange for a virtual blog tour. Hire a company or solicit blog tour hosts on your own.

Pony Postcards  Bookmarks


As soon as the book appears for pre-order online, add the buy link to all your sites.
Send a press release with signing dates to local media.
Load video book trailer and add links to all your sites.
Write the blogs for your virtual tour and match topics with hosts. Post your schedule online.
Decide what to do for a book launch party. Schedule it as an Event on all your sites.
Run giveaways of your ARCs on Goodreads and LibraryThing.
Order swag materials for conferences.
Look for niche marketing opportunities.

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Contact booksellers and event organizers to verify your appearances and to make sure they’ll have your books in time.
Send email newsletter to readers, including signing dates, blog tour schedule, contests, and pre-order information.
Send promo materials or swag to conferences for goody bags or promo tables.
Set a virtual book launch party date and list it as an Event.
Prepare your newsletter and giveaways to coincide with the launch date.
Update websites with reviews as you receive them.
Write a page full of tweets and Facebook posts so you have them ready to go announcing your book launch. Do earlier if your book is available for pre-order. Include quotes from reviews when you get them.
Write a book club discussion guide if you want to have one available.
Post excerpts on social media to raise interest. Put your first chapter on your website.
Remember to promote yourself to your publisher. Send them copies of book reviews, feature articles, and promo events.


Send out a newsletter to your readers announcing the launch and inviting them to join your online party and enter your giveaways.
Announce the release on all your social media sites and online forums. Schedule tweets to run all day. You can schedule Facebook posts ahead of time on your author page.
Don’t forget to thank your blog hosts and respond to comments.
Go out and celebrate!

Launch Party Header

Time, budget, and energy are considerations when planning your promotional campaign. Choose what’s reasonable for you to accomplish, and remember that family takes priority, writing comes next, and all else is a bonus. The above suggestions aren’t written in stone. Some items you may be able to do sooner and some may come later. You’ll eventually work out your own rhythm. Do as much or as little as is comfortable at your level.


Marketing is what I’m spending all my time on these days. I am readying to launch my revised Author’s Edition of Body Wave in June, and I’m working on the release campaign for Peril by Ponytail coming in September. And by the way, I have some ARCs available for my 12th Bad Hair Day mystery.

If you are a book blogger or have a review site, and you’d like to be considered for an advance copy of Peril by Ponytail, please query me privately. Reviews would be appreciated on Amazon, Goodreads, and BN as well.


Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

Mystery Writers at Florida Library Association

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 16, 2015

On Wednesday evening, the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America held a dinner meeting at Seasons 52 on West Sand Lake Road. It was good to see our Central Florida members. We had a great time getting to know each other better.

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The next morning was the Florida Library Association Convention at the Caribe Royale hotel. Our chapter and national MWA sponsored a breakfast that was well attended. Alison McMahan, Victoria Landis, and Johnny Ray joined me as panelists with Ann Meier moderating. At this event, we each introduced ourselves and spoke about our books. Then we had a lively exchange with the librarians at the Q&A session.



We followed with another panel on the topic of Settings as Character in Fiction Writing.

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During the Q&A sessions, we asked the librarians a few questions in return.

Q: Where do you buy your books? A: Most of them use Overdrive.

Q: How do you select the books? A: They open Overdrive and see what’s available. Often book selections aren’t up to them but are made higher up. However, if a patron requests your print book, it might be ordered.

Q: Where do you get your audio books? A: From Recorded Books (

Q: Do you use LibraryThing or Goodreads? A: Very few of the librarians said they go to LibraryThing online but a resounding number belong to Goodreads.

Q: What workshop topics would you like to see authors offer? A: Editing, Story Structure, Marketing, Agent Queries, Self-Publishing. Authors should have a specific topic and not just come to talk about their books.

Q: What resources do you suggest if we need to research a place we haven’t been? A: Your reference librarian, news articles that can date back to the early 1800’s, historical archives, inter-library loans, demographic databases, CIA and State Department files on other countries.


Contest Alert!
Enter May 7– 21 to win a signed copy of bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan’s historical mystery, Death of a Dowager, and a $15 FANDANGO gift card to enjoy a movie this summer. Two runners-up will each win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2).

Enter May 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench Check out our other features, including a weekly giveaway, while you’re there.

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

Malice Domestic 27

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 12, 2015

Malice Domestic is one of my favorite conferences. What’s not to like? Friendly people, avid readers, cozy mystery fans, and mystery/suspense writers all gathered together in one place to talk about reading and writing. Malice-Go-Round begins Friday morning, if you’re lucky as an author to win the lottery for a place at this popular event. It’s intense, with 2 minutes per author per table to give your pitch and hand out your promo items. You team up with another author, and every 4 minutes you hop to the next table for a total of 20 tables. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet readers who are interested in what you have to say before your voice gives out.

Friday night was free, so we went to Jaleo in Bethesda to try the tapas restaurant for dinner. The food was delicious and the ambiance lively. Upon our return, I sauntered downstairs to the author auction and dessert party. Here I am with author Maggie Toussaint.

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Saturday morning was the Sisters in Crime breakfast which is always a pleasure. Then starting at 9am, I was on the panel, “Fifty Shades of Oy Vey: Religious Elements in Mystery.” Rabbi Ilene Schneider moderated. Fellow panelists were Anne Cleeland, Mindy Quigley, and Stephanie Jaye Evans. We had a filled audience and had a great time hearing what each other had to say on this important (and often entertaining) topic.


When not speaking on a panel or sitting in on one, I hung out with my writing buddies. I met new friends and schmoozed with writer pals I hadn’t seen in a while. Members of our Florida MWA chapter were represented by myself, Neil Plakcy, Alyssa Maxwell, Lucy Burdette, and Elaine Viets. I chatted with the always stylish Ellen Byerrum and met Ellen Byron (close in name but not the same) as well as a number of other authors I’d brushed paths with online. I could drop lots of names here, but invariably I’d leave someone out. Below left, I’m with Ellen Byerrum. On the right is Marilyn Levinson.

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Here I am with Alyssa Maxwell on the left and Neil Plakcy on the right.

Saturday night ended with the glitzy Agatha Awards Banquet where the lovely Hank Phillippi Ryan won for Best Contemporary Novel. Most remarkable was the dessert, chocolate mousse inside a chocolate teacup.

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The feasting wasn’t finished yet. On Sunday was a delightful tea party to conclude the conference. Balloons decorated the ballroom where we gathered to sip tea and eat sandwiches, scones, and other goodies. It was another successful Malice Domestic conference at the Hyatt Bethesda. There I am with author Maddy Hunter.

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See all the photos here (and Like the page while there):

Contest Alert!

Enter my May Madness contest May 7– 21 to win a signed copy of bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan’s historical mystery, Death of a Dowager, and a $15 FANDANGO gift card to enjoy a movie this summer. Two runners-up will each win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2).

Enter May 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench Check out our other features, including a weekly giveaway, while you’re there.


Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

The Edgar® Awards

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 8, 2015

I had the privilege of attending the Edgar® Awards for my first time. Arriving in NY, I checked into the Hyatt Grand Central where the week’s events would take place. That night was the Agents and Editors Party sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. Here I greeted Neil S. Nyren from Putnam and told him how excited we were that he’s our Publisher Guest of Honor at SleuthFest 2016. Besides myself, other members of the Florida chapter were present, including
Grand Master Lois Duncan, plus members Dianna Collier and Oline Cogdill. Also familiar were fellow Board of Directors members from national MWA. I went around and introduced myself to total strangers, most impressed by the guy who claimed he wrote the Richard Castle books. The Mary Higgins Clark Award was presented this evening.

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The next night was formal dress. First there was a special reception for award nominees. It was exciting to congratulate each one and wish them luck. They were honored and excited to be there. We filtered into the ballroom, and I took a seat with other board members up front. We could see the Edgar® head statues, the closest I’ll ever get to one. And I stared in awe along with everyone else as Stephen King took the podium. He won for Best Novel and told us how his book Mr. Mercedes came about. Sara Paretsky, President of MWA, was elegant and dignified in a long gown. She addressed the crowd, and most of the award presenters had a piece to say as well. The meal was delicious: wild mushroom bisque en croute; seared filet mignon with mushrooms and scalloped potatoes; and a chocolate tart for dessert.


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As I exited the ballroom, I noticed hordes of people gathering around several tables in the foyer. These appeared to be stacked with books that folks were grabbing. Lo and behold, books by the nominees were available free for the taking! I came away with an armful. Fun for me is trying the YA books, but I selected a few others as well. As cozies are more my thing, I looked forward to Malice and finding some new authors there.

See all my photos here (and Like the page while there):

Contest Alert!

Enter my May Madness contest May 7– 21 to win a signed copy of bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan’s historical mystery, Death of a Dowager, and a $15 FANDANGO gift card to enjoy a movie this summer. Two runners-up will each win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2).

Enter May 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench Check out our other features, including a weekly giveaway, while you’re there.

Coming Next: New York City, Malice Domestic, Washington D.C.


Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »


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