Nancy's Notes From Florida

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Business of Writing’

Book Project Update

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 17, 2016

Halfway through the year, we should evaluate our status regarding the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Back in January, I listed these objectives for the year. I divided them into Writing Goals and Career Goals. Think about doing this if you’re an author. Let’s see how I’ve done in this progress report. If you’re wondering what I’ve been doing with my time, this will update you on my current projects.

finish line

Writing Goals

Finish and Submit Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Ongoing. I finished this story at 85,000 words and submitted it to a freelance editor. I am working on these edits. This title will be published by Orange Grove Press in 2017.

Publish Author’s Edition of Permed to Death, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Done and published in March.

Commence audio book process via ACX, starting with Permed to Death audiobook.
Done. This title is in production.

Revise backlist mystery titles Highlights to Heaven, Died Blonde and Dead Roots.
Ongoing. I’ve completed revisions on Highlights to Heaven and need one more read-through.

Learn how to write short fiction.
Done. I wrote “Haunted Hair Nights,” a Bad Hair Day mystery novella, which will appear in the Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Murder Anthology. Release date is Sept. 2016. I plan to issue this novella separately in a print edition, hopefully in October.


Business Goals

Enter Peril by Ponytail in writing contests.
Done.

Learn about box sets. Consider bundling books 1-3 as a special offer.
Postponed.

Hold Facebook launch parties for each backlist Author’s Edition and audiobooks.
Ongoing. Next party will be to celebrate my first audiobook release.

Plan a promo campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal (Bad Hair Day #13) to be released by Five Star in Feb. 2017.
I have put together the book trailer except for special effects and music. Waiting for cover art and ARCs.

Keep up with quarterly newsletter, blogs and social media.
Ongoing.


Extra Accomplishments

I edited and published Florida Escape by Harry I. Heller. This is my father’s account of his 1935 true-life adventures in South Florida, where he encountered dismal swamps, sneaky skunks, black panthers, isolated beaches, and hidden chests buried in sand. 

New Goals

Revise book one in a new mystery series. This book is written but needs polishing.
Learn how to put my lectures on Power Point.
Learn how to put books on sale across various vendors.

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So there you have it. Readers, what would you have me work on next? Writers, have you reassessed your goals lately?

CONTEST ALERT!

Booklovers Bench
Last 2 Days
! Enter June 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Romance the Summer Contest
Enter June 7-21 to win a gemstone necklace from Effy plus a signed copy of Shear Murder, my wedding mystery. Two runners-up prizes of signed proof copies Permed to Death Author’s Edition..
http://nancyjcohen.com/contest/

 

 

 

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Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Five Stages of Writing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 31, 2016

Writing a book these days has five stages. It used to be that you wrote the book, polished your work, and submitted it to a publisher. Then you were done, except for edits, proofreading your ARCs, and some promotion. Now you have many more choices in the publishing arena. Many of us face the challenges of Discovery, Writing, Revision, Production, and Marketing.

Stage One: Discovery

Discovery is the process by which you discover your story. Bits and pieces of character and plot swirl around in your subconscious. Consider it creative energy at play rather than feeling guilty that you’re not being productive. This is the break you need before starting the next novel. It’s necessary to refill your creative well and to gather ideas. Doing a collage, watching movies, listening to music, working on a hobby, walking outdoors, or reading for pleasure are some of the ways you can stimulate your creativity. Search for relevant articles to your story and match photos to your characters on the royalty-free image sites. Explore related issues that interest you or look through your files for inspiration. Often this prep time can take weeks, or it can take a month or two. Be sure to factor this in when you set deadlines.

idea

Stage Two: Writing

When these ideas coalesce in your head and your characters begin to talk to you, you’re ready to begin writing. This is when I write my synopsis. The outline acts a writing guideline, so I always know where I’m going even if I don’t know how to get there. This still allows for the element of surprise. The plot may change as the story develops. If so, I’ll revise the synopsis later. I may also keep a chapter-by-chapter outline, after I’ve written the chapter. It gives a quick summary of what’s happened, who has said what and to whom, and what day of the week it is. I used to do this on a poster-size plotting chart but now do it online.

Set yourself daily and weekly writing goals. I have to do a minimum of 5 pages a day or 25 pages per week. Don’t stop to revise your work. Keep going straight through to the end. Once the book is written, you can fix it. Just get those words down on paper during the storytelling phase.

writer

Stage Three: Revisions

When you finish the first draft, put your book aside to gain some distance from it. You’ll want to have a fresh outlook when you start line edits. Use this interval to jot notes for your sequel, do some preliminary research for the next book, plan your promo campaign, write reader discussion questions, create a book trailer, or determine blog topics for your virtual tour.

When you find yourself eager to tackle the story again, get ready for the heavy revisions. Once you begin, keep going, or you’ll lose your sense of continuity. Allow a month or two for this process. Let’s say you have a 300 page book. Plan to edit at least 10 pages a day for one month. This might not seem like much, but you are examining the text word-by-word and rereading it until it’s perfect. Then voilà, you’ll be done in a month. Put the book aside for another couple of weeks. Then turn to it again. This time, look for repetitions and inconsistencies. Here are some items to address.

At some point, you’ll be too close to the material to see straight or too sick of the project to work on it again. Then the book is ready to submit, whether to a freelance editor or to a publishing house. You’ll have a chance to fix things later when you get your edits back and put the work through a last round of proofreading.

editing

Stage Four: Production

If you have a traditional publisher, this is when you wait for the cover art and the ARCs. You don’t have much say in the book’s production, other than filling out an art sheet if your publisher requires one. However, if you are indie publishing, now is when you’ll add front and back materials to your manuscript. You’ll need to hire a cover artist. Decide if you’ll hire a formatter, do it yourself, or go through one of the third-party aggregates. Convert your work into the appropriate format and upload it to vendors. Read more about this phase here.

Kindle Paperwhite

Stage Five: Marketing

It isn’t enough to write a book. You have to throw yourself onto the self-promotional train and embrace technology. As you write your novel, keep in mind the potential marketing tie-ins. Is there a swag item that relates to the story? A blog topic related to your research? Make decisions about doing a virtual tour, a book launch party, an advertising campaign. Book ads ahead of time and solicit endorsements. If you have a trad or small press publisher, they can help you. But you’ll still be doing many of these activities yourself. Reinforce your brand with everything you do. Update your website and be active on social media. Give yourself an allotted time period, like two weeks, just to plan your promotional campaign. And while you’re in this phase, you can begin Stage One for the next book all over again. Go here for a Book Promotion Countdown Checklist

Proofs

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Each stage is valuable, and you should take the time you need. Be sure to assess your activity later on to see what worked and what didn’t. Then put your Butt in Chair and Hands on Keyboard and get cracking on the next book. Now here’s a question for you. Which of these phases consumes the most amount of your time?

CLICK TO TWEET

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 21 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 12, 2016

Step 5 Production—Cover Design, Formatting, Uploads

Cover Design
Decide if you’re going to use stock cover art or hire a designer. I recommend hiring a professional cover artist. You’ll have many things to consider, such as:

· Placement, size, and font for your book title and author name
· Series logo
· Text color
· Type of illustrations—photographic or cartoonish? Pastels or bold colors?
· Mood and story genre
· Endorsements or Awards

See my previous posts on this topic:
Book Cover Design Process
Book Cover Design

Hair Raiser 3D

Formatting and Uploads
Prepare an author bio, book description, and keywords. For a print edition, you’ll also need the back cover copy. Determine the price of your book.

If you need help with the book blurb, go to:
Book Blurbs: http://blurbcopy.wordpress.com/
Blurb Queen: www.theblurbqueen.com
Blurb Bitch: http://www.blurbbitch.com

Book Description Tips: http://insights.bookbub.com/how-to-improve-your-description-copy-to-sell-more-ebooks/

Set up a publisher account at the various vendors.

Amazon: https://kdp.amazon.com
Barnes & Noble: https://www.nookpress.com/
Kobo: http://writinglife.kobobooks.com
Apple/iTunes Connect: https://itunesconnect.apple.com
Createspace: http://www.Createspace.com
Google Play: http://googleplay.com

For upload to iBooks, you must own an Apple device. An option is to go through Smashwords or Draft2Digital. These sites are also useful for access to vendors beyond the big six above. You can choose selective distributor channels. Or you can hire a formatter to do the iBooks upload for you. A professional formatter can customize your document and buy links for each vendor. Here are some popular companies but there are many more. This is not an endorsement of any one in particular.

Author E.M.S. with Amy Atwell
Ebook Formatting Fairies with Marie Force
eBook Prep
Formatting4u with Judi Fennell

The Killion Group, Inc.

If you prefer to do the formatting and uploads yourself, check out Terry Odell’s blog for an instructional series on formatting for various vendors. Also join the Self-Publish listserve that is invaluable for the indie author. Send an email to selfpublish-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. If this link doesn’t work, sign into your Yahoo account and look for the selfpublish group.

You’ll want to upload to Createspace for a print edition. I advise using your own ISBN so you will be listed as publisher. Select as many extended channels as you’re allowed. Order a proof copy. Be aware this process takes a couple of weeks so allow for plenty of time when setting a pub date.

After your book is published, file for copyright. Then proceed to market your new release.

If you missed previous installments in this series, go here:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 1

Contest Alert!
Enter May 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 10, 2016

Step 5 – ProductionFront and Back Materials

Continuing our series on reviving your backlist titles, you’ll want to add front and back materials to your manuscript. What should this include?

Front and Back

Front Materials

Minimize the front end of things so when the reader clicks on Look Inside at Amazon, he gets to see the text of your work right away. You don’t want him scrolling through pages of other material and losing interest. Here are some items you might place in front:

Copyright Page—Insert the ISBN number for your ebook or print edition. Add the logo for your imprint, if you have one.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters
Foreword
Maps or Family Trees
List of Books in Series
Book Description
Review Quotes

Back Materials

This is your chance to add bonus materials for the reader, such as:

Author’s Note
About the Author
Books by Author with Series Listing
Call to Action (i.e. ask for reviews; ask reader to sign up for your newsletter)
Vendor-Specific Buy Links
Reader Discussion Guide
Deleted Scenes
Excerpt from your Next Work or another title in your repertoire

Coming Next: Cover Design, Formatting, and Uploads

If you’ve missed this series, catch up now:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Contest Alert!
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/ 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Self-Publishing, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 3, 2016

Continuing our series about reviving your backlist titles, consider how and where you want to publish these titles. Do you intend to put them into the Kindle Select program exclusive to Amazon? Do you wish to put them up yourself at the various vendors? Or will you use a company like Smashwords or Draft2Digital?

It looks more professional if your book is published by an imprint rather than Josie the Author or Amazon. So consider one of these options below.

Create an Imprint or Legal Entity

Create a publisher name and register with your State for a “Doing Business As” title. Or create an LLC if your accountant advises this route. Either way, this step will give your publications a more professional presentation.

OGP MINI LOGO BLACK

Reserve the domain name for this imprint.

For a DBA: Put a Legal Notice in your local newspaper if required by the State.

Apply for a county business license/tax receipt. Note: if you’re 65, you may be exempt from fees but you still have to apply. Renewal is annual. Check your state and county regulations.

Open a business bank account under the DBA or LLC. As a sole proprietor for the DBA, you don’t need an EIN number. Use your own Social Security number. You will link this business account to the various bookstore vendors for direct deposit of royalties.

Purchase ISBN Numbers

It is advisable to buy your own ISBN numbers. This way, you or your company will be listed as the publisher and not Amazon or Createspace. Your ebook, print, and audio editions each require a separate ISBN number.

Buy ISBNs from http://Bowker.com. Note that you do not need to purchase Bar Codes. These are assigned automatically by Createspace for your print edition. Buy in bulk if you plan to publish more than one title. Get on their mailing list so you receive discount offers.

Once you have your ISBNs and have a particular book to assign, go to http://myidentifiers.com. Sign in and access My Account, then My Profile. Here is where you can register your company name. Then click on My Account and Manage my ISBNs. Assign an ISBN number to your book. Complete all fields marked by a red asterisk.

On the Title page, you can add a book description up to 350 words. Here is where you can list the original copyright date for your work if it’s a backlist title. You add the book cover here. And if you wish, you can upload a pdf file for Bowker to generate keywords for search engines.

Under the Contributor tab, click Add Contributor. Then fill in the boxes with your name as author and your biography. For Contributor Function, put Author.

Under Format & Size, Click on Medium. Input the type of edition (ebook, print, audio). Choose the Format, i.e. paperback or hardcover for print; electronic book text for digital. Click on Primary Subject. Add the genre, i.e. Fiction-Mystery and Detective. Secondary Subject is optional. Next add the size of the book if it’s for a print edition. I use 5.5 x 8.5. Put any other details you wish to provide.

Finally, under Sales & Pricing, answer Where is the Title Sold? This would be the United States. For Title Status, put Active Record. Here is where you can add your DBA or Company Name as the Publisher. For Target Audience, put Trade for a general adult audience. You must also put in your publication date. If you’re not sure, select a date in the future and go back later to change it.

Under Currency, put US Dollars. Add the price in the box indicated, without the dollar sign. Price Type is the retail price. When finished on this page, click Submit. You can change any of this material, except the ISBN number assignments, at a later date.

If you have another type of format for the same title, you can click Clone next to the first one, assign the next ISBN number, and change the data accordingly.

Now you should be all set and ready to go. You’ve had your earlier books scanned if necessary, cleaned up the manuscript, and decided if you want to revise the work before reissuing it. Catch up on these posts if you’ve missed them:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Coming next is the Production phase.

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 21, 2016

You’d like to reissue your backlist titles now that you have the rights back, and you already have a complete digital file as in my previous post. So now what? Are you going to upload the file as is, or will you be revising the work?

I wanted to fix my writing, since my mysteries started coming out in 1999. That’s the pub date for Permed to Death. I wrote that book more than fifteen years ago. Do you think I’ve learned to write better in that time? Looking over the original manuscript, I was horrified by the number of exclamation marks. Many of the Amazon reviews said this book needed editing. You know what? They were right. Now I had my chance to go back and tighten things up.

I had another impetus. I want to offer my books in audio editions but not based on my older versions. I prefer to link these to my newly revised Author’s Editions. (Cover designs by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

Author Editions2

For your decision, it’ll depend on how recently your title came out and how satisfied you are with the content. I’m proud of my Author’s Editions. The only problem is getting people to read them and to post new reviews on Amazon.

Regardless of your choice whether to fix the writing or not, you’ll need to format the book for today’s digital vendors. In general, remove all headers or footers. Use page breaks instead of section breaks. Choose Times New Roman 12 pt. font; indent new paragraphs 0.5 inches; and remove all tabs. Make sure you have one space and not two between sentences. Be aware that colons and semi-colons might cause problems so try to eliminate these where possible. Use proper Em-dashes. Later, you’ll go to your vendor sites and check their specific guidelines.

Decide what you’ll do about changing technology. In the current book I’m revising, Marla (my hairstylist sleuth) dialed directory assistance to look up someone’s phone number. I changed this to an Internet search. I’ve also changed answering machines to voice mail, flip phones to cell phones, wired home phones to mobile units. And I’ve changed the names of places or restaurants that no longer exist.

Here is an example from Highlights to Heaven. This is the original passage:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla after they were seated at Legal Sea Foods in the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills.

There had been a short wait for a table, unlike the crowds at the Cheesecake Factory or Wolfgang Puck. Saturday night was bound to be busy anywhere in Broward, but with the cinema here, shoppers competed with moviegoers for restaurant tables.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

Since two of these restaurants are out of business, I changed it to this:

“Do you see any possibilities with Barry?” Tally asked Marla, after they’d taken seats at a restaurant in the Sawgrass Mills complex. They’d had to wait for a table, but Saturday nights were busy at all the eateries in Broward.

“I like him. He’s good-looking, quiet in a dependable sort of way, and sincere. It’s his father who I can’t stand.”

So as you can see, you’ll need to reformat the text, update the technology, and alter certain place names.

Now comes the tough question. Do you want to do a full revision? Your book has already been professionally edited, and you have the advantage of a copy edit being done. But this time, you can examine the writing in a new light, with the eye of experience. Are you prepared to do a line edit? Because that’s what it will take. You might find repetitions you’d missed before, redundant sentences, inconsistent characterizations, or those pesky “ing” clauses that cause trouble.

Moreover, if you’ve written a series, now you know what comes next. You can fix this story with the sequels in mind. If you choose this path, you’ll have a lot of work ahead. In our next post, we’ll review what to look for when combing through your story to polish it to perfection.

Contest Alert!
Win an ebook copy of Hair Raiser at Booklover’s Bench on my Let’s Talk post. Enter Here.

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 16 Comments »

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 18, 2016

Once you get the rights back to your earlier titles, what do you do with them? Try to resell these books to a new publisher? Put them online as ebooks for sale? Offer them in a new trade paperback print edition? Go through an intermediary such as Draft2Digital or publish them yourself directly to vendors? And should you revise and update the stories first?

When I got my rights back from Kensington for my earlier Bad Hair Day Mysteries, I decided to tighten the writing, update the technology, and add back materials to the books. Now was my chance to hire a cover artist and get the design I’d always envisioned.

Here are four versions of Permed to Death, the first book in my mystery series. From the left to right: Kensington, Ereads, Open Road Media, and my new AUTHOR’S EDITION (Cover design by Patty G. Henderson at Boulevard Photografica).

coverPTD  PTD  Cohen_PermedDeath  PERMED TO DEATHeBook

So what should you do first if you’re interested in reviving your old titles?

Obtain a File

First you’ll need a digital copy of your book in one entire file. I wrote my early books in the days when we copied the manuscript and snail mailed it to our publisher. Each file was a separate chapter. I didn’t have a single intact file for the book. Nor did I have the edits that were done by my publishing house. In other words, my original files didn’t match the finished product.

What to do? These books came out in hardcover and then in mass market paperback. I decided to have the paperbacks scanned in since they held the most recent edition.

The Scanning Process

If you’re lucky enough to find a digital copy of your book online, you could buy it, download the file and work from there. You can use the free Calibre program to convert between formats. Otherwise, choose a scanning company. I used Blue Leaf. You’ll have to sacrifice the book you send because it’ll be destroyed in the process.

Once you get the files back from the scanner, make sure you have an editable Word document, if this is the software you use. Then you have to review the text WORD FOR WORD to look for scanning errors. You may see a strange squiggle mark. Note this excerpt from Died Blonde:

Shutting off the blow-dryer, Marla plunked it on the counter. “Did you see how Claudia looked away when I mentioned a power blackout? She knew about it Pro­bably Carolyn went to the meter room to turn off my electricity.”

You have to turn on the paragraph reveal mark in Word to see the irregular mark in “probably.” It looks like a hyphen with a bar hanging off the end. You’ll have to go through the entire document looking for this weird symbol. It’s intense, eye-straining work.

Notice the period is missing after She knew about it. Missing punctuation is another problem. Or quotes pointing the wrong way, use of an apostrophe instead of a quote mark, or an extra space after a hyphen.

In revising and updating your work, one of the things to look for are “ing” sentences like that first one. More about that when we talk about revisions.

Here’s another example with a misspelling for Sun-Sentinel. That weird mark is also present in “released.”

“The medical examiner’s report hasn’t been re­leased yet, but the SunSenlinel reporter is saying Carolyn died under mysterious circumstances.”

Here’s a guide on what to look for after having your book scanned:

· Weird symbols when you turn on the paragraph symbol in Word
· Missing or wrong punctuation
· A number “1” instead of an “I”
· Misinterpretations, such as comer instead of corner. Watch for words like this with “rn” coming out as an “m” instead.
· Misspelled words such as for away instead of far away; “die” instead of “the”
· The letter “d” instead of “tl”: Words like abrupdy. Or see this example:

Marla setded a cape around her mother’s slim shoul­ders.

· Check the spacing for italics that it’s normal and not expanded or condensed (Highlight the word, hit Font, then Advanced).
· Make sure italics don’t come out as bold.
· Replace two spaces between sentences with one space if necessary.
· Format chapter headings properly with a page break and remove any section breaks.
· Look for run-on paragraphs or paragraph marks too soon that split a sentence onto the next line. Example:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.” “Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense 

they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

This should read:

“Carolyn promised Linda she would inherit her collectibles, but we couldn’t find any items of value.”

“Jewelry? If a collection exists, it makes sense they were gifts from her private benefactor. I don’t see how Carolyn could afford anything else. Did she have a safety deposit box?”

You need an eagle eye and several read-throughs to catch all these errors. Regardless of which route to publication you take, you’ll want to present a professional product. So gear up to begin the next stage, which is revisions and/or formatting.(Coming Next!)

LAST DAY FOR CONTEST ENTRIES!!!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench, where readers are winners. http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Enter to win 35 cozy mysteries and a Kindle Fire in Storytellers Unlimited Spring into Mystery Giveaway. My contribution is an ebook copy of Permed to Death. http://bit.ly/CozySpring

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft, Writing Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Selling Your Book to Hollywood

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 22, 2016

Brad Markowitz, a Los Angeles-based writer/producer and consultant, spoke at a meeting of the Florida Chapter of MWA on “How to Sell Your Book to the World of Movies and TV.” Here are the notes I distilled from his informative talk. Interviewer is bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan.

March16 Meeting

Disclaimer: These notes are subject to my interpretation, and any errors are mine.

Who is your targeted audience? i.e. My Bad Hair Day Mysteries would be a perfect fit for a Hallmark Channel Movie Mystery. This means my series is family-friendly.

What are the elements that can be pitched? Hot buttons should be succinct and precise.

Be very careful when comparing your book to movies. Saying “Love Boat meets Murder She Wrote.” This has become a joke in the industry.

Be able to give a concise log line.

Get straight to the hook: What makes your project unique and different?

Learn and understand trade jargon.

“A one-off with the potential to be a back-door to a series.”

“A TV movie as a back-door pilot to a series.”

“Get in a room.” This means the chance to make a face-to-face pitch.

Break down the story in a way “they” will understand.

From page 1 to 30, get to know the character and the world. Roughly at 30 there’s a big plot point that changes everything. From there to 90, suspects are introduced and eliminated. From page 90 to 180, a twist changes it all. From there to the end, an unexpected event leads to the killer.

Think through the format that fits your work best. If you’re thinking a TV series, explain that. If you’re thinking a web series, suggest that.

As an outsider, you’re starting at “No.” You have to move the people to “Yes.” It’s a long, uphill road. “You are a part of a parade when you get into ‘The Room’.” This means you have a scheduled pitch meeting–but you are only one of many who’ll probably be pitching that day. Be prepared.

An option is when a buyer pays for a certain amount of time to shop your work to Hollywood. Options can take various forms, including an option without payment.

There are a gazillion shows on TV. Tell an agent or a studio executive or a producer how yours is different, and why he/she should be interested.

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When I got home, I tried to figure out what “hot buttons” I could make for my Bad Hair Day Mysteries. This is what I devised:

My elements:

• Strong female protagonist who is a savvy businesswoman but also a compassionate listener and a loyal friend

• Clever use of book titles

• Twist on a familiar setting—Beauty Salon background. A hairstylist and salon owner solves crimes in sultry South Florida.

• Series with 12 titles (and 2 more coming)

• Multi-platform—A fictional world with ebook, print books, Web presence

• Family-friendly

• Humorous

• Inter-faith romance develops throughout the series

• A main character who evolves and changes; i.e. she overcomes a past tragedy to get involved in a serious relationship, ends up getting married, takes on the role of stepmother to her husband’s teenage daughter, and after much angst, realizes motherhood might be appealing despite her doubts.

• A cast of quirky recurrent characters

What else could I add that would make my story unique?

 

 

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

Setting Goals

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 4, 2016

Happy New Year! It’s time to look forward to what we hope to accomplish in the coming months. Every year, I set goals and separate them into the creative and business aspects of writing. So here are my goals for 2016.

You’ll note there’s only one new book in the mix. I still need several months to finish this story and polish it before submission. Then I plan to continue revising my backlist titles and get them into audio. I’ll have a big learning curve involved with the audio process using ACX. I have to learn how to attract a narrator, what qualities to look for in choosing one, how to evaluate each chapter as it’s done in audio, and where to promote audio books. This process is apt to take quite a few months, at least for the first time until I know what I’m doing.

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I’ll also have a steep learning curve if I decide to bundle my first three revised backlist titles into a box set. This involves cover design, formatting, scheduling, pricing, and promotion. It promises to be a time-consuming venture should I go this route, but it could be a bonus for readers. What do you think? Is this something that might interest you?

Plus, I need to spend more time on exercise in 2016 and less time in the chair. That’s a prime goal for the new year. So here’s a glimpse of what’s on my list.

Goals

 

WRITING GOALS

Finish and Submit Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Publish Author’s Edition of Permed to Death, #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Commence audio book process via ACX, starting with Permed to Death.
Revise backlist mystery titles Highlights to Heaven, Died Blonde and Dead Roots.
Learn how to write short fiction.

BUSINESS GOALS

Enter Peril by Ponytail in writing contests.
Learn about box sets. Consider bundling books 1-3 as a special offer.
Hold launch parties for each backlist Author’s Edition and audios.
Plan promo campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal to be released Feb. 2017.
Keep up with quarterly newsletter, blogs and social media.

Have you set your objectives yet for 2016?

Contest!
Enter January 1-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

2015 in review

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 31, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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

 
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