Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and Raleigh Supercon Experience

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today’s option question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I don’t teach a seminar on book publishing for nothing - study the publishing industry in depth! Take a few months and learn about both paths, traditional and self-publishing. Understand how publishers work, how to write a query letter, what’s expected of you as far as marketing. And if you self-publish, learn all about book covers, editing, formatting, distribution, etc. You need to know what you’re doing because if you do it wrong, it can kill your career.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has some great announcements today.

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has partnered with Write…Edit…Publish (WEP).

From their site:
Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is an online writing community now partnering with the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). We post the third Wednesday of every second month. Check out our program for 2018 in our sidebar and Pages. WEP challenges are open to all. *Submit your name to InLinkz (free) on the first day of the challenge month. The winner for each prompt wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card with winners’ badges for second and third prize.

From the IWSG Goodreads Book Club:

Our book selection for August/September is: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
This one is for our memoir writers and anyone who has ever thought of writing a memoir. The discussion will start September 19th and will go to the end of the month, but it will be up indefinitely, so you can hop in whenever you're able.

GIVEAWAY: Book club members have the chance to win a paperback copy of Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. This is a used copy, but it’s in great condition.
To enter, go to this Rafflecopter Form. It’s free to enter, but you have to be a book club member. We will verify this, so join us on Goodreads!
One winner will be randomly selected on August 8th, and Chrys Fey will email the winner to get mailing details. All info will be kept private.

This past weekend, Dancing Lemur Press had a booth at Supercon - and it was amazing!

In addition to selling a ton of books, we met a lot of incredible people. The cosplay costumes were stunning. You can visit our Instagram to see dozens of them holding our books.

We also got to meet a few celebrities. I got an autograph from Michael Dorn, Worf from Star Trek.

I also got to speak for a moment with Henry Winkler - he is just such a nice guy! I also attended Steve Whitmire’s Q&A session and was the second person to ask him a question. (He was with Jim Henson productions for years - I love Muppets.)

Probably one of the best moments was Saturday morning just as the crowds were coming in - Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City, etc.) was wandering through the booths and stopped to ask us about our books. And he was gracious enough to pose for a picture with me!

All in all, it was a great experience and we look forward to Supercon 2019. Our next con - Cape Fear Comic Con in Wilmington, NC on August 25!

Please visit The Circle of Friends for the release of our latest book, Unbroken by Annie Highwater.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Is That Convention or Festival a Good Fit For Authors?

Getting out to events is a great way to network, learn, and sell books. But not all conventions and festivals are the same. You have to know exactly what kind of audience they attract and go prepared. Otherwise, you might be disappointed.

Book Festivals
Usually these are geared towards readers and encourage the purchase of books. Some are a few hours long while others span a three-day weekend. Be aware of the cost of a table or booth and if there will be travel expenses. Check past attendance and talk to authors/publishers who attended the previous year. A high-cost table coupled with hotel expenses will likely result in a financial loss - unless exposure is also a major goal of yours. They also provide a great opportunity to network with other authors/publishers.

Book Expos
These are often similar to book festivals, but some expos are geared toward the publishing industry and book buyers. (Think Book Expo where publishers give out hundreds of free books.) It might be a better opportunity for networking.

Writer Conferences and Conventions
Geared toward writers, these are rarely good opportunities for selling books unless your book is aimed specifically at writers and authors. It is a great opportunity for networking and learning, as there will be many panels and sessions during the event. There may even be publishers and agents on hand to take pitches.

Sci-fi and Comic Conventions
Geared toward fans of sci-fi, comic books, horror, etc., these are good for selling books in the sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novel, comic book, and horror genre. Again, check price of booth and past attendance. There are opportunities for networking, plus you can place ads in the program guide and offer giveaways for bags and auctions.

Trade Show
A trade show is geared toward one basic type of product - boat shows, car shows, etc. They attract an audience that is interested in purchasing that type of product or has one and is a big fan. If your book fits the subject matter and would be of interest to attendees, it might be a good opportunity. Again, check booth cost and previous year’s attendance.

Art Festivals & Fairs
These feature artistic and craft items, along with a ton of food and general vendors. Sometimes books are considered art and sometimes not. They are usually not the best place to sell books though. Research each one carefully before considering.

General Festivals
These tend to focus even more on food and general vendors. Only with a very specific and targeted book will you sell well if at all.

Know what type of convention or festival you are looking for and research carefully before plunking down money for a table or booth. And always go in with an open mind, a good attitude, and a willingness to network.

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. will be at a sci-fi convention July 27-29 - Raleigh Supercon.

We’ve sent bookmarks for giveaway bags and books for auctions and door prizes and we’ve placed ads in program guides. But this will be the first time we’ve had a booth at a science fiction convention.

Attendance for this event was huge last year (its first one) and it came highly recommended by another author. Factor in the cost ($425 for the booth which includes two $75 3-day passes) and the fact it’s within driving distance every day, and we decided it was worth the investment to see what happens.

We also booked three other smaller shows - Cape Fear Comic Con in Wilmington, NC on Aug. 25, Fayetteville Comic Con on Oct. 20-21, and Fanta Sci in Raleigh, NC on Mar. 22-24, 2019.

We’ll be taking photos of cosplayers (holding our books of course) and posting them on Instagram all weekend. Follow us there for some fun photos from the event.

We also posted a pre-show video on Thursday night:

Of course, if you can, come see us this weekend, July 27-29, and register to win free books!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Murder at the Marina

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

We are posting a day early since Wednesday is the 4th of July here in the US.

The IWSG’s Twitter pitch party is July 19. You don’t want to miss this opportunity. We signed a wonderful book coming out this September, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, from a #IWSGPit tweet.

Today’s question - What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

I started off with the goal of published author when I was 13. I’m now the author of 5 fiction and 2 non-fiction books.

While I still want to continue writing - and I am working on something now - my goals shifted to publisher. Now my goal is to help the authors we sign achieve their goals.

One of those authors is visiting today. She’s part of the IWSG anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life and here to talk about her own book.

Murder at the Marina

One day, when we were living in Scotland, my husband announced that he wanted to sell everything we own, buy a sailboat, move aboard, and go cruising. I assumed he had developed some form of early dementia and changed the subject. Then he mentioned it again, and again, and again. Turns out this wasn't just a passing fancy. He was serious about this boating stuff and went on a number of sailing trips with his buddies, as well as crewing on boats in the Mediterranean.

When we moved to New Zealand, he was beside himself with excitement. Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” and it was here that he put his “Brainwash Ellen into Loving Sailing” campaign into operation. We chartered boats a few times and it turns out that it was kind of fun. Eventually, I suggested that we could save money by buying our own small sailboat, rather than chartering. That's when he declared his campaign to be a success. We were buying a sailboat and it was my idea.

My experience getting into sailing isn't unusual. Often, it's the guy in the relationship who dreams about getting a boat and the woman gradually warms to the idea over time (or doesn't). When I decided to write a cozy mystery series, I thought it would be fun to make the main character, Mollie McGhie, a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth. Her husband, Scooter, like mine, is obsessed with sailing, so obsessed that he thought presenting Mollie with a dilapidated sailboat for their wedding anniversary was a good idea. He couldn't have been more wrong.

I enjoyed writing about Mollie's reactions to the sailboat, her confusion over sailing terminology, and her experiences learning to sail, as well as have her meet the different types of characters you might encounter at a marina. You could say that there's a little bit of me in Mollie, especially when it comes to our love of chocolate. Although, I do draw the line at investigating murders.

Over the course of the series, Mollie will encounter other aspects of boating life that may not exactly be her cup of tea, while investigating mysterious happenings. Perhaps Scooter will suggest that they sell their house and all their belonging and move onto their boat full-time. Mollie may have to learn to cook on board in rough weather in a cramped, overheated galley. They may join in a regatta and sail to the Bahamas. Maybe something will go terribly wrong with their boat, requiring repairs while at sea. The possibilities are endless.

If you want to follow along as Mollie learns to sail and solves murders, the first book in the series, Murder at the Marina, is available now and the second book, Bodies in the Boatyard, will be released later this year.

Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0
A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her husband presents her with a dilapidated sailboat. Just one problem—she doesn’t know anything about boats, nor does she want to.

When Mollie discovers someone murdered on board, she hopes it will convince her husband that owning a boat is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he’s more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set out to sea.

Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, investigates an alien abduction, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.

Can Mollie discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and sci-fi/fantasy stories. She is the author of the “Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery” series. She lives on a sailboat with her husband, exploring the world from the water. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures at The Cynical Sailor.

How has your ultimate writing goal changed? And what would you do if your husband got you a sailboat for your anniversary?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Pros and Cons to Having a Pen Name by Chrys Fey

To have a pen name or not to have a pen name. That is the question.

Many writers just starting out or who are contemplating publishing for the first time (including published authors considering publishing under a different genre) wonder if they need a pen name or not. Well, need is a silly way to think of a pen name. No, you don’t need a pen name. But do you want one? That question could leave writers divide. Yes and no, they’d probably say. So how can they decide? Weighing the pros and cons, of course!

Take a look at the list below. As you read them, create your own pros and cons tally. Do you love a pro? Add a tally under pros. Does one of the cons bother you? Add a tally under cons.

Now, are you ready?

Pen Name Pros:
1. You can tailor your pen name to your brand (the genres your write and your image). Imagine the last name Law for a writer of crime mysteries.
2. Stand out with a unique pen name (if you have a common name). My real name is very common, but Chrys Fey is unique, which is why I love it.
3. Anonymity. No one has to know it’s you. You can even keep it a secret from your friends and family. Or at the very least, it’s anonymous in that no one has your real name.
4. You could use a pen name to publish in a specific genre far from what you usually publish.
For example, say you published non-fiction under your real name, but now you want to publish erotica or paranormal romance, you could use a pen name to distinguish the two.
5. You can create an identity/persona not unlike yourself but more mysterious, romantic, or fun, depending on your brand/pen name.
6. You can honor someone you love by using their initials or first name as part of your pen name.
7. How you thought of your pen name is a story you can share later when you publish.
8. Gender neutral pen name. Sometimes, you want to attract a specific readership or all readers, regardless of gender. A gender-neutral pen name can help with this.
9. If your name is hard to pronounce, a pen name is a good idea to make it easier on book buyers, publishers, agents, and…yes...readers. The pen name doesn’t even have to be so different. You could easily shorten your name to a nickname or use half of your last name.
10. You can use a pen name to “start fresh.” If you want to distance yourself, for whatever reason, from another pseudonym or from your real name, a pen name can help with this, especially if you create a new persona and go for anonymity.

Pen Name Cons:
1. You don’t want to lie in your bio just because you have a pen name. Be truthful. However, you can use your pen name’s persona to make your bio’s tone fit your brand.
2. If you use a pen name to publish under a different genre, you have to start fresh with building a readership for your pen name, especially if you don’t reveal you are the author. Even if you let your readers know, you’ll have to learn to target a different set of readers.
3. It takes times to come up with a pen name you want to be known by…forever.
4. You have to get used to people referring to you by another name. At first, it can be weird.
5. You have to practice signing another name. And remember to sign it, too! Signing your real name would be a big OOPS!
6. You can’t make your readers feel as though you’re not real, so don’t be over-the-top or pretend to be what you’re not. Be a real person but with a different name.
7. You have to set up accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and all social media platforms for your pen name, which means having to build followers from 0. You’ll need a new website, too, which could mean two if you plan to publish under different names.
8. If you want to protect your name, you’ll have to copyright under your pen name. Copyright done with a real name lasts for the life of the author plus 80 years. Copyright done with a pen name is protected for 95 years starting from the publication date.
9. You have to make sure to fill in your pen name whenever you do something publishing related, such as submitting a query letter or entering a contest.
10. Promoting under two names can be a strain, unless you combine your accounts and let readers in on your secret.

Some of these may not apply to you, and many of these cons can be conquered. Basically, the decision falls under whether you want your books to have your real name on them and if you want readers to know you by your real name. Even if you use a pen name, though, that doesn’t mean it’s not you. You become that name and will feel a sense of pride seeing it on your books.

If you like the idea of using a pen name to your advantage, then do it.

If you’ve already published under your real name and think managing a pen name on top of that will be too hard, then you don’t need one.

Consider each pro and each con. Ask yourself what you envision, what you want. Then stick by that choice. Pen names are great, but so is using your birth name.

There is no right answer for everyone, only the right answer for you.

For more information like this check out:

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey

Barnes & Noble / iTunes /Kobo / Amazon

BIO: Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog Write With Fey for more tips. @ChrysFey Website: Chrys Fey

There’s also a giveaway:

Do you have a pen name or considered using one?