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

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Posts Tagged ‘conferences’

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.

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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.

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

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“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. http://bit.ly/15SmIi0

 

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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.”

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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

 

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Saturday at SleuthFest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 5, 2015

I attended several panels on Saturday at SleuthFest. Here are the points I took away.

BOOK PUBLICITY

Michael Barson spoke about book publicity. In looking for interviews, does your book have a theme related to what’s in the news? It may take six or seven books to gain traction. For a writer, the radio is your best friend. Put links to your shows on Facebook and elsewhere online. Amplify your publicity. “You are capable of amplifying any coverage you get.”

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CONSPIRACY THEORIES

“If there’s no solid answer to what happened, we fill it in with imagined actions.” That’s a conspiracy theory. For example, here are some theories related to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance: captured by the Japanese as a spy; landed and died as a castaway; came home and disguised herself as a New Jersey housewife. People believe things that seem to make sense. The speakers discussed presidential assassination attempts. There were fourteen presidents with known attempts to assassinate them plus two questionable deaths.

Abraham Lincoln may have been the target of a “decapitation strike.” This is a tactic to kill off the heads of state. The conspiracy would have included a plot to kill the vice president. James Garfield was shot, but he died from an infection to his wound. William McKinley was shot. Regarding John F. Kennedy, the question remains if there was a second shooter.

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Lunch came next with auctioneer Cynthia Thomason leading an entertaining and productive author auction.

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FIGHT SCENES

Set your scene up according to the genre. In a mystery, the fight will be protective while for a thriller, it might be more purposeful. Learn your weapons. If in doubt, ask an expert. Build tension so the reader knows a fight is coming. If your hero can talk his way out of a situation, do it. Don’t rush the fight scene. Physically act it out. Use your senses. Your senses are sharpened when you’re scared. Use short sentences. Your perspective narrows and you focus on survival when frightened. If you’re part of a team, you don’t want to let your friends down. The characters should have a reaction to the violence after the scene is over.

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Then I was on the supernatural panel wherein we talked about world building and how to make your paranormal elements seem real.

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Saturday night , after another entertaining talk by James W. Hall, we headed to the cocktail party. Here we enjoyed appetizers and a potato bar while the FlaMANgo Award went to—no big surprise—James W. Hall.

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Sunday morning held the new Flamingo Pitch Tank where attendees could pitch their work to a panel of editors and agents all at once.

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Brunch with humorist Dave Barry concluded the weekend. He had us laughing out loud at his hilarious presentation.

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Now we’re all back home having a rest before we begin planning for next year. My husband missed me, as evidenced below. Isn’t he a sweetheart?

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View the photos in my SleuthFest 2015 album on my Facebook page. Please Like the page while you are there: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest! Enter March 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books by Booklover’s Bench authors.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

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SleuthFest Day 3

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 4, 2015

Lunch on Friday followed the agents and editors panels. There I am seated between James W. Hall and Randy Rawls. As Chapter President, I went up to the podium and gave a warm welcome to the crowd. I thanked our conference chairs, Vicki Landis and Joanne Sinchuk, for their superb job in making the conference a success.

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Then we gave out two awards. The first one was presented by Diane Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon. She chaired our Freddie Awards for Writing Excellence Competition and was happy to announce the winners:

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In the Hardboiled Category, Dana J. Summers won for Drawn and Buried
In the Traditional Category, Penelope Thomas won for The Airfield.

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Next I was happy to present our esteemed chapter service award, the Flamingo Award, to Sharon Potts, who is well deserving of the honor.

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Guest of Honor James W. Hall addressed us next with his valuable writing advice.

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“Show, don’t tell. Be as concrete and specific as you can. Observe this pyramid,” he said.

Life
Nutrition
Food
Fruit
Banana

What do you imagine from these words? People who want to write something important start at the top of the ladder. But what creates beauty and helps us experience the story is the banana. Tangible items create emotions. The nutrition takes care of itself if you have a good banana.

Avoid bathtub scenes. Don’t open your story with somebody in the bathtub thinking. We all want to be alone to mull things over. But to get involved, you must climb out of the tub and go out into the world. “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” You must be passionate and moved about your own story if you want to engage the reader. Write from your heart and your emotional center.

While you are working, turn off the Internet.

Quit if you can. If you can’t, it solves a lot of issues.

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That afternoon, I gave my talk on “Blogging, Posting, and Tweeting Your Way to Success.” Then I was busy schmoozing until Ric Gillespie’s fascinating talk on “The Hunt for Amelia Earhart.” From his presentation, it sounds as though he’s found her site but further research is needed for confirmation. There’s Ric with Britin Haller.

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I bought my raffle tickets from the boa team. Below are Mary Lou Benvenuto and Rick Wymer on the left, and Stephanie Levine and Gregg Brickman on the right.

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Heather Graham’s party kicked off the evening. She sang and entertained the crowd along with an accompanying band. Don Bruns is playing the guitar and people are actually dancing!

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Photos in my Sleuthfest 2015 album can be viewed on my Facebook page. Please Like the page while you are there: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Contest! Enter March 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books by Booklover’s Bench authors.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

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Agents and Editors

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 3, 2015

Friday morning at SleuthFest began the editor and agent panels. Here’s a summary.

AGENTS

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Kristyn Keene likes women’s fiction, thrillers, crime fiction.
Mel Berger likes an “important” book or one that has potential for being a commercial success, including romance and thrillers.
Victoria Skurnick is looking for “great” books with a unique voice. No sf/fantasy.
William Callahan is “interested in everything” but especially works with a historical element, true crime, or psychological suspense.

Queries must have a professional look with no weird fonts. The story should be told in a concise summary. Mention your awards and writing credentials. Lead with your strengths and kill the adjectives. Mention why this agent is right for your book. In the body of your e-mail, include a sample such as the first few pages. Do not attach files because the agent will not open them from strangers. Avoid gimmicks and gifts. Don’t use redundancies like “I’m sending you a fiction novel.” A novel is fiction. Don’t say your book is “better than Gone Girl.” Watch the clichés like “grim satisfaction,” or “he said dryly.” Kristyn took on an author who’d first self-published her book, and she’s been very successful. What works? Memorable characters, interesting settings, uniqueness, something the author brings to a genre that’s different. Your confidence as a writer and the momentum count as well. The agent wants to keep turning pages.

They all prefer e-mail submissions. Multiple submissions are acceptable. Would they accept a previously published e-book? It would depend on the sales figures. Does having a social media presence matter? Not to them. They suggest you focus on the manuscript.

EDITORS

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Neil Nyren is looking for a book where the author is in control plus something extra, a certain intensity. He has to love the book and believe in it. Christine Pepe wants a story that connects with her, so that she gets what the author is trying to say. Hannah Braaten has to love the characters and the place, so that it becomes somewhere she wants to go. She prefers writing where she doesn’t have to work too hard and can sync right into the story.

The editors discussed changes in publishing. Frequency enhances your brand and doesn’t cannibalize your own work as previously thought. We have more choices today in how we can publish books, including enhanced e-books and trade paperbacks. Readers have higher expectations than ever, and ways to acquire printed matter will expand. The publisher still wants a full year to prepare a book for publication. They need to get the editorial staff excited, produce galleys, build media buzz in-house and out in the world.

“There’s room in the marketplace for other formats.” Regarding advances, it’s safer to have diminished expectations. Normally there’s a proportional commitment to promote a book based on the advance. It’s because the publisher feels this book is more likely to succeed. “You’re always trying to build the author and not only the book.” You can start small and show an editor that you have a fanbase of readers.

What is not selling well? Battered women and children in danger. Also, don’t kill the dog.

Don’t follow trends, such as dystopian novels. Write a story that drives your passion.

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View the photos in my SleuthFest 2015 album on my Facebook page. Please Like the page while you are there: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

I’m appearing today at Maggie Toussaint’s Book Launch Party for her new scifi novel, G-1. Join the party from 11am – 2pm at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty

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Final Words from #Ninc14

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 12, 2014

Final Advice for Writers from #Ninc14
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

To summarize the concluding talks from #Ninc14, here are the final points.

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If you have a lifeboat or collaborative team, specify your goals. Is it to increase sales or readership, or to reach bestseller status?

Series or related books sell the best. Make the first one $.99 so it can be called a bestseller as opposed to free.

Check to see if you have some rights back if not all, i.e. Do you have the rights for non-US territories, audio, translation rights?

Hire translators from the United States and not from other countries. If you hire somebody from outside the US, you will have to pay them royalties.

Don’t get discouraged. Just get more material out there. It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. Once you’re making money, hire people to do everything.

It’s the technology age and you have to do social media, whether or not it’s in your comfort zone.

Ask your readers what they prefer in how they buy books. Do they pre-order?

Don’t just dip your toes in the brave new world of self-publishing. Jump in naked.

Don’t make decisions based on fear. Make it based on your intuition. Know what you are good at and what you need help with. What does success mean to you?

Get your titles out there. They don’t all have to be full-length novels.

Ask your publishing partners these questions: What can you do better than anyone else? What do you think I do well? How could I do better? What skills can you contribute? What market intelligence do you have that we can use together? What information do I have that you need, and for what purpose? What’s the best way we can add value for each other?

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Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery, Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

 

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Changes in Publishing: Who Will Survive?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 10, 2014

Hugh Howey: The Publishing World is Changing. How Can You Keep Up?
Novelists, Inc. Conference Day 2, St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

Hugh Howey began his presentation by showing slides on “A history of storytelling.” The order goes this way:

Oral tradition
Written tradition
The first cubicle workers, i.e. monks transcribing by hand
Movable type
Offset and digital in 1990
Electronic publishing 2007

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He recommends reading “The Storytelling Animal.”

Bar codes revolutionized sales in that data could be tracked. This led to massive discounting. In 1995, Amazon went live. In 2014, indie bookstores see a 20% growth in openings since 2007.

Book selling is like the game: scissors, paper, rock. You have the big-box chains, online retailers, and indie bookstores. Amazon beats the chains. Indies beat Amazon on their location, curation, and community. Publisher profits have risen, but digital is subsidizing print. Business costs and author royalties for digital are much less for publishers and their profit margin is up. So digital is saving publishers, and Amazon is saving indie bookstores.

There’s less downtime between reads for readers. They want immediate downloads. The guilt of the TBR pile is gone. Clutter is no longer a dissuasion for buying more books.

Digital includes e-books, audio, and print-on-demand books. “I can’t stress enough how crazy audio is, and that’s part of digital.”

Three variables determine author income: the number of titles sold, the price of the title, and the author royalty rate.

Romance is the bestselling book genre in terms of author earnings. Mysteries and thrillers are next.

Self-published royalties surpass traditionally published royalties. Digital is about 70% of the market. 40% of print sales now are on Amazon, not including print-on-demand.

The top 20 Amazon bestsellers in each category:
Mystery/thriller: 4 audio, 1 hardcover, 1 paperback, 14 e-books
Science fiction/fantasy: 5 audio, 15 e-books, no print
Romance: 20 e-books
Fiction/literature: 4 audio, 1 hardcover, 1 paperback, 14 e-books
History: 2 audio, 7 hardcover, 4 paperback, 7 e-books
Teen: 1 hardcover, 5 paperbacks, 14 e-books

Publishers are more profitable as the cost of production and distribution has gone to nearly zero. Big bookstores are going under while Indies take more of the market share. Expectation and output paths are converging, such as author platform and professional book production. The number of people making a living at writing has gone up from tenfold to fiftyfold. The chances are slim but it’s doable to make it as a writer.

Publishing is moving to the West Coast. Amazon, Google, and Apple will become prominent publishers along with other tech companies. Indie bookstores will survive. The real threat is the decline in recreational book reading.

Who will survive?
Publishers who pay well and price their books right
Retailers who curate well
Anyone who aids discoverability
Partners who increase distribution
Freelancers who raise quality
Toolmakers who increase quantity
Locales that create an addictive book culture

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

Coming Next: Empowering Authors with Amazon Independent Publishing

Novelists, Inc.

CONTEST ALERT! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

BookBub Explained

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 6, 2014

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get hooked on your work and they recommend books to their friends. 65% of readers tell their friends about books they discover. What results can you expect? A spike in sales during the promotion. 381% was the average increase. Average downloads are 29,500. 91% of authors have an increase in sales after the promotion when their book goes back to the regular price. There’s an average 73% increase in reviews and 81% increase in sales of related books.

Mysteries have the biggest subscriber list. If your book is free, you’ll pay $320 for a BookBub ad. Under one dollar, you’ll pay $640. If your book is priced from $1-$2, you’ll pay $960.

Go here for pricing in other genres: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

To submit a book to BookBub, fill out the form online. An editorial team selects the titles. You will get assigned an account representative. If selected, your date and category will be confirmed. Make sure your deal is available across all retailers on the sale date.

Requirements include discounting your book by at least 50% off the list price. It must be a full-length book. This should be a limited time offer of 30 days or less. The editorial team will make sure this is the best deal available for your book and that the work is error-free. They do not feature new releases, because they look at the overall platform and pricing history. No novellas or short stories. Book lengths are specified on their site. The same author may submit a book once every 30 days. The same book may be submitted once every six months.

Next the book goes out for quality assessment. Here the team will look at reader reviews, professional cover design, and cover tropes. For example, dogs do well on covers but motorcycles and tattoos do not. They’ll also look at critical reviews, formatting, and author accolades such as quotes from other authors. This is all part of your platform. BookBub receives over 200 submissions per day. The editors will compare your book to others in the same category that come in at the same time. They advise you to study books in your category on BookBub to see the average number of reviews. Only 15% of submitted books get accepted.

Be sure to put your quotes from other authors on your Amazon author page as they will look for these. Or you can include author quotes in your comment box when applying. They’ll also look at sales data from an author who has applied there again to compare this title to other BookBub books, so you’re not ensured a spot even if you’re a repeater.

Eventually they may make stats available to authors. As for distribution routes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are currently more popular than Kobo and Google.

Trends in subcategories that do well are also examined. For example, in historical fiction, American history and World War II do well.

Regarding box sets, reviews on individual books are viewed, rather than the box set itself. Books can be older but the box sets can be a new release.

For the selection process, they compare books and pick the best price and platform. Spots for discounted books are more competitive than for free books. Make sure you have your book available at as many retailers as possible, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. This is especially important if you don’t have enough reviews or a bestseller status to tout your platform. Google Play subscriptions are growing.

60% of indie books and 40% of traditionally published books are selected. These have an average of 140 reviews.

Tips for submitting your book

Be flexible with timing. Be available whenever they have an opening. Sell yourself in the comments section with your reviews, author quotes, sale figures, bestseller status. Resubmit at different price points. Be open to different categories. Promote when your book is at its best. Optimize your product page. Add more retailers. Continue to submit and try again. The beginning of the month sees a ton of submissions.

If you get selected, set your prices as far ahead as possible. Notify Amazon about the date for a price match. BookBub will do permafree, but put it on sale first at a retail price to get baseline stats.

A UK edition just launched. You can add them for a 5% fee to your BookBub promotion. Soon you’ll be able to just get UK promotion and they have 100,000 + subscribers.

How to be successful

Determine your goals and choose a pricing strategy based on these goals. Price as low as you can to attract new readers. Time the promotion strategically, i.e., seasonal books. Make sure your book is discounted in time. Optimize the back matter in your books and include links to your other titles and your newsletter. Spread the word. Measure the results.

Follow @bookbubpartners on Twitter

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This is from the BookBub session at the Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach. Also please note that I have not used BookBub myself so some of you can chime in here about your experiences.

Novelists, Inc.

CONTEST ALERT! Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors in our November contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

The Future of Publishing, Part 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 3, 2014

Session Four: The Future of Publishing, Part 2
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

If you have a better sense of what you have going in to your career, you have a better chance of coming out where you want. You should have an audio book, because people are busy and commuting.

Globalization means growth in market places around the world. There is a huge global market for English language books.

What’s coming? Specialization of content, shorter content, fan fiction, micro-content. People are reading but not necessarily a novel. They read blogs, Facebook posts, and other material. We need to figure out how to monetize these things.

Another futuristic innovation might be micro-transactions where the reader clicks a button to send a dollar to an author. There will be more collaborative efforts like ACX, translations, and author collectives. Another trend might be personalization in how content is served. We need to be ready to embrace change and accept opportunities as they arise.

There’s a shift of empowerment toward authors because of technology. This is the slowest the change will go as it is right now. But you, the author, must continue to produce the very best book you can, or nothing else matters.

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What authors need is data about what readers want and where to find them. The Book Industry Study Group collects book data. How do we turn this data into usable information for our careers? New retail models are coming. The digital disruption is going to be very destructive. Agents may go away [or they can be useful for subsidiary rights]. On the other hand, things are changing and that’s frightening, but they’re going to move forward.

When will there be an “Authors United”? Authors should use their scale to push our issues.

Brick-and-mortar booksellers have a disadvantage when a hardcover sells for nearly $30 and an e-book sells for $9.99. Retailers are concerned about surviving this price differential.

Windowing your release dates is crazy because readers will buy books in all formats. Your book should be released at the same time in e-book, paperback and hardcover. These are not different audiences.

We haven’t seen peer retailing emerge, and we need to be prepared. People communicate around the world in E-commerce. We need to be ready to sell directly to readers and to analyze the data on discount sales and on what platforms people want to receive their books.

Check out Wattpad, Payhip and Hugh Howey’s authorearnings.com

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

So what trends do you predict? And how are you preparing for them?

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: BookBub

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Rights for Authors

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 31, 2014

Session Three: Rights: Yours, Theirs and Ours
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

What will bring back the career authors who have more sales and control with indie publishing? “The job of the publisher is to provide the author with a platform. Print books are essential to this,” said one speaker. “It’s our job to help you amplify your voice to readers. Readers want to connect with the author. Finding a social media audience should be up to the publisher.” But another panelist said authors are often expected to show up with a platform.

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Publishers are reluctant to buy books previously indie published. There’s a price differential from a $2.99 indie e-book to a $7.99 e-book with a  traditional publisher, and readers balk at the difference. The customer is also different going from digital to bookstore. You’re selling to a completely different audience.

More transparency and true negotiations are needed to attract writers back to traditional publishing. What we need are term limits for authors to get their rights back. The out-of-print clauses for publishers are operated from a sense of fear that something they let go will take off and become a bestseller. Publishers need to brag about their good contract terms instead of being afraid of the competition. They need to show more transparency regarding the terms they offer.

It’s useless to get specific marketing promises from a publisher. Technology changes as you go along, and some of the activities promised may be based on sales figures. That type of legal detail is a waste of time and energy. But you should have these conversations outside of the contractual agreement.

Publishers are interested in what kind of future you, as the author, can project. They’re not interested in your backlist as much as your frontlist when they seek to acquire you.

The non-competition clause was discussed. Is it really necessary? Authors say it’s a career destroyer. They don’t believe they’ll cannibalize their own work as publishers fear. Publishers are worried about saturating the market. Print books need time to get into bookstores. They worry about quality control with self-published works that authors might offer in between traditionally published novels. Authors would love to be hybrids but not to the detriment of making a living if they can’t publish a new book for a certain number of months as per their contract.

The big five are pretty much not taking print rights only and letting authors keep their e-book rights. E-book royalties produce a huge profit margin for publishers.

Publishers are going to look at a successful indie author to see if she’s peaked. Could she benefit from transitioning to traditional publishing to pick up a new audience? You can’t assume your track record will carry over. It will not work for your backlist only. You need new books as well. How can the publisher use this backlist to carry you over from one world to another?

Regarding the 25% net royalty for e-books that is standard for traditional publishers—is the overhead in their fancy New York offices really necessary in the digital age? Publishers make a profit even before the author earns out an advance. Successful authors can still get a raise on their advances.

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page 

Coming Next: The Future of Publishing, Part 2

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Marketing, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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