Friday, October 29, 2010

Finding Book Reviewers

The coveted Holy Grail!

If you’re with a traditional publisher, they usually send out the review copies. That doesn’t mean you can’t help locate reviewers, though. And if you’re self-published, this duty falls squarely on your shoulders.

Reviewers are not all the same, though. Some are industry reviewers, also known as pre-pub reviewers. They require an ARC (advance review copy) or a galley 3-6 months before the official street date. They rarely accept self-published books and never accept subsidy books, so these are target reviewers for your publisher to tackle.

Some examples of pre-pub reviewers - Publisher’s Weekly, Foreword Magazine, Kirkus, Library Journal, New York Times, LA Times, ALA Booklist, Bookpage, Horn Books.

Other early reviewers for both publishers and authors to consider include trade magazines, online reviewers, other authors, and book bloggers.

A great resource for locating other reviewers is Book Connector

Do a Google search for websites and book bloggers who review your genre.

If you’re with a traditional publisher, coordinate with their efforts. They may have a set number of review copies to send out.

If you’re self-published, many of these options will be unavailable to you. But you can still contact magazines, online reviewers, and book bloggers. Midwest Book Reviews is a major reviewer who accepts self-published books.

An excellent list of ideas can be found at Marketing Tips for Authors - Seven Simple Steps to Getting Your Book Reviewed by Paula Krapf

Some tips for self-published authors:

Send out books before the publication date if at all possible.

Include a review slip on the inside of the cover flap that lists title, author, ISBN, publisher information, genre, formats, page count, and distributors/wholesalers.

If submitting an eBook, do not include as an attachment when sending emails. Query first for permission to send an attachment.

Many reviewers do not accept self-published books - do your homework.

Budget! How many review copies can you afford to send?

Set up a Google Alert for your name and book title to catch online reviews.

Avoid paying for a review.

Any questions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Window to the Soul by Alex J Cavanaugh

Today I welcome new author, Alex J. Cavanaugh! His first book, CassaStar, debuted last week and has been all over the Internet. Take it Alex!

Thanks for hosting me today!

Diane asked me to elaborate on an attribute unique to my main character’s race. Cassans are similar to humans in appearance, although their lifespan is several years longer. They also possess a similar intelligence even though they are ahead of us in technology. However, they do possess a unique talent.

Cassans use telepathy.

The idea of telepathy has always fascinated me. (Since I don’t own a cell phone, it would really come in handy!) It’s an incredible concept. What if we possessed the ability to communicate without speaking? What if emotions were sensed or images shared without using words? It would be like a window into the soul.

Imagine the communication issues we’d eliminate if we could clearly show someone what we meant. (Conversely, the trouble we could get into as well!) Telepathy would allow relationships to delve deeper. We’d always have someone who would hear our call, regardless of the distance.

It wouldn’t be a window we’d throw open often, though. We’d choose to shield some exchanges while limiting others. (I’d limit quite a bit - I’m a mean thinker!) Some would block all thoughts from entering or leaving their mind, resenting any attempt to break the mental barriers. They would cut themselves off from others.

Such is the case for Byron. He resists any attempt to pierce his shields or share his thoughts. He does not feel comfortable connecting with others on any level.

However, in order to fly a Cosbolt, a mental connection is necessary between pilot and navigator. Position and intention are communicated in the blink of an eye through the open mind link. Byron struggles with this aspect of piloting, acquiescing to the minimum level of bonding required to fly his fighter. If he is to achieve success though, either in the cockpit or in life, he needs to change.

I think readers will identify with Byron’s conflict. We don’t possess telepathy (bummer!) but we struggle to connect with others. Relationships require communication and commitment, and we often resist out of fear. However, it’s our connection to others that brings meaning to life.

Maybe through Byron’s struggle and journey, we’ll learn to open that window more often.

In the meantime, I’m still wishing for telepathy!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games.

CassaStar

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.”
- Library Journal

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.
Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

CassaStar ISBN 9780981621067, Science fiction/adventure/space opera
AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, BAM, AMAZON UK, andAMAZON KINDLE
Also available in eBook format for iPad, Nook, and others

And check out the most amazing book trailer ever!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Developing Contacts to Promote Your Book - Part II

I was one of the presenters for The Muse Online Writers Conference, which included a week-long forum workshop, Developing Contacts to Promote Your Book. Each day had a specific topic and the participants really got into building their contact lists. Today I’m sharing Day II with you.

The whole point of these exercises is to get your brain working. You want to develop these lists while you are writing if at all possible! And as participants in the forum discovered, I’m a stickler for specifics. Generic answers (like ‘everyone’) don’t fly with me! If you are to effectively promote your book, you need specifics and details!

You can share some of your ideas below or copy & paste and work on your lists on your own time. But sharing a few ideas is fun, because it might help out someone else!

Establishing Online Contacts

Refer back to your target audience and your own involvement. Remember to consider your audience’s interests first and think outside the confines of just book-related sites. (Think beyond Amazon and Goodreads!!!)

What websites and blogs attract your audience?

What community sites attract your audience?

In what forums, list-servs, and Yahoo Groups do they participate?

What book-related sites feature your genre? What non-book-related sites?

What sites focus on your book’s subject matter?

Tips:

When first establishing these contacts, you aren’t there to promote your book, just to network. Offer advice or suggestions, but don’t shove your book down their throat.

Look for sites that will: exchange a link with yours; feature you and your book; or offer a free download.

Don’t forget to explore author sites, either.

Bottom line - where can you place your book and subject matter where it will reach the most potential target readers?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Developing Contacts to Promote Your Book - Part I

Last week I was one of the presenters for The Muse Online Writers Conference, which included a week-long forum workshop, Developing Contacts to Promote Your Book. Each day had a specific topic and the participants really got into building their contact lists. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share the daily topics with you as well!

The whole point of these exercises is to get your brain working. You want to develop these lists while you are writing if at all possible! And as participants in the forum discovered, I’m a stickler for specifics. Generic answers (like ‘everyone’) don’t fly with me! If you are to effectively promote your book, you need specifics and details!

You can share some of your ideas below or copy & paste and work on your lists on your own time. But sharing a few ideas is fun, because it might help out someone else!

Your Target Audience and Online Presence

Start creating a target audience profile:
Who is your target audience?
What age and gender?
Location and income bracket?
What are their interests and hobbies?
If applicable, consider your audience’s parents and create a profile on them as well.

Consider your target audience in depth:
Where does your target audience frequent-
Where do they go online? Blogs & websites?
Where do they go in the real world?
What magazines or news do they read?

Your profile:
What ‘s your involvement online and in your community?
Do you have a website or blog?
Are you involved in online community sites?
Are you involved in clubs or organizations? Online and offline.
What are your current 'activities' online and offline?

Remember - specifics!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beware!!

Diane, it’s a pleasure to be here today, and thank you for hosting a stop on the Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010 When asked what kind of format you’d like to have for this post, you requested a guest post written by The Old Silly, saying, “Where did the idea for the book come from? Does it follow a theme? How is it the same or different from your other books?”

And you closed your request note with saying, “How we get our ideas for books fascinates me!”

So true dat, I agree. Beware the Devil’s Hug is one of those classic “what if?” scenarios, an idea that came to me nearly five years ago. It occurred to me, while observing a homeless man panhandling, seeing the reactions of ‘normal’ people to his un-comely and raggedy appearance ... everything from distrust, to disdain, to fear. Sure, some people gave him money, mostly to salve their own feelings of guilt, I believe, although I’m certain some people genuinely wanted to help the guy out—not many, though. The majority of people avoided eye contact with him, and pedestrians walked widely around the man, as if touching him might give them the cooties.

I watched from across the street for a long time, feeling the poignancy of this life situation, when suddenly it hit me. What if this man was an angel, or some kind of high spiritual being, with special healing powers ... but nobody receives the blessing he can bestow upon them because they won’t—well, here—here is the ‘what if’ blurb that dawned on me in that epiphany-moment. It hasn’t changed by one word since then, all those years ago, to now:

What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking, find happiness and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a radical terrorist Muslim want to befriend and love a Christian and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace – nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

You can see the main themes in the book in the blurb, also. They are all drawn from life experiences and lessons learned of mine. I had just come through a bout with a serious narcotics addiction, this I wrote about in my first book, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), and during that past year had had a love affair with a prostitute. My business had failed, I was going bankrupt, my marriage was on the rocks (we’re fine now, back together, thank God), I foolishly turned to the streets for some kind of base level of satisfaction, and dated this girl who (I found out later) happened to be a crack addict. We hit it off, she quit hooking, and we struck up a relationship. But I also got addicted to crack in the process. It’s too long of a story to go into and explain here ... read the book.

So anyway, I had ‘prostitute’, ‘happiness/true love’, ‘drugs/demons of addiction’ fresh on the life experience brain. When I kicked the nasty habit, I also knew I could never go back to that girl and be near that crowd, that kind of lifestyle, again. I am cured, I don’t fight urges at all, never have since a powerful conversion God experience I had—again written about in “Stone”—but I’m not stupid enough to put myself in a position of temptation, either. So I never went back to see the girl. But when you know someone that intimately you never forget them, can’t stop having a spot in your heart of love for them. I often wonder how she’s doing, wishing, hoping and praying for her that she was able to get off the drugs and make something of herself. A lot of Destiny, one of the main characters in the book, is fashioned after that woman, and I sure as heck wish I were as great a man as The Old Man main character in Hugs who cured and healed Destiny with nothing more than a fully clothed hug. I’d go back down to the ‘hood, find that girl and lay it on her, fo sho and fershizzle.

Another life experience that bears on the Hugs story, this one a few years before the affair/narcotics thing, was the utter shock of my second oldest daughter, a very strong-willed and independent young lady, converting to Islam and marrying a Muslim. I wrote a whole book—never published, I didn’t think it good enough overall to be a debut book—about my journal-style thought-trip trying to get a mental and emotional handle on how this could happen. Islamic culture, generally speaking, when practiced in age-old traditional fashion like the particular group she married into, is so male dominant with women held to positions of servitude and having less freedom and autonomy than the men. How could this hold any allure to a young, intelligent, promising daughter of mine who had ‘successful career woman’ written all over her?

During the understanding and accepting process, I became very familiar with the mutual distrust and even sometimes hatred between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They all worship the same One God of Abraham, but will beat, torture, and kill each other over their differing religious views. I took the time to read the Qur’an, and found it to be remarkably similar to the Bible. Lots of the same stories and parables.

Yet there is all this animosity between the Jewish/Christian camps and the Muslims. Go figure.

A major misinterpretation of the Qur’an, that has led to radical Islamic terrorist tactics, is the lack of understanding of the true meaning of the Jihad. Hate and fear-based extremists take reading about the struggle each good Muslim is to undertake to destroy the evil opponents of Allah as meaning literally to kill those people who do not believe in their God and Muhammad the Prophet. This is religious lunacy gone mad. The Jihad is intended to be an internal warfare—fighting the demons of evil within, overcoming them, purifying one’s self and attaining enlightenment and safe passage to Paradise.

I have long thought the most hideous and heinous oxymoron of all time is the ‘Holy War’. You simply cannot put those two words together. I am appalled at all the bloodshed, evil acts of man against fellow man, done in the name of God and religion. It is the single most abused and idiotic excuse for staging warfare throughout all recorded history. So one of the characters in the book is modelled a great deal like me, I call him Christian Dean Wilson. He’s a writer, and on a global campaign to create brotherhood, peace and harmony, by diluting religious dogmas through an organization called CUE ... an acronym for Coalition for Unity and Enlightenment.

Now take these themes, a prostitute/addict on a self-loathing mission of self-destruction with no love in her life, religious dogmas causing war and power struggles, a man heading up a coalition that wants to see people of differing faiths find common ground, develop trust in and love for each other, a terrorist plot to thwart their mission, and a haggard looking old homeless man who can remedy any malady for anybody if they would give him the time of day and a little respect. There you have the idea for, and the themes running through, Beware the Devil’s Hug .

How is it the same or different from my other books? It is the same in that I write mainly in the spiritual/inspirational genre, with elements of cross-over genres mixed in. My novels deliver spiritual messages in non-preachy ways, through the spinning of entertaining tales, and in that respect Hugs is similar to my last (and first) fiction, Owen Fiddler . How it differs is in the complexity—there is a lot going on, multiple sub-plots, unusual relationships, a bold red herring with a twist—and its particular mixture of cross-over genres. Beware the Devil’s Hug has aspects of religious, social, and political commentary; romance, including a bit of soft erotica; suspense/thriller; and mystery/intrigue woven into the story. I’ve received several reviews that state the book can be read on a purely entertainment level, it’s got the moxie and pizzazz of a fun and gripping fiction read. And for those who seek deeper messages in their books, it comes through with that also, again not in a preachy, sermon-like manner, but delivered within the subtleties of the story line.


Diane, once more, thanks for having me on today. This was a fun topic to cover, and I enjoyed putting some thought into it. As a writer yourself, I’m sure you can relate to how much we figure things out about ourselves and our world by writing them, the mental process that it takes us through provides a certain clarity, hmm?

Next stop in the tour is Patricia Stoltey’s Blog

For more information, visit Marvin’s site, The Old Silly

Don’t forget to register to win in the Hugs Therapy Virtual Tour 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Announcing the debut of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s first novel, CassaStar!

And judging from the outstanding reviews and buzz, it’s going to be huge!
(I also get to host Alex next Wednesday during his blog tour.)

CassaStar
To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.
Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

ISBN 9780981621067, Science fiction/adventure/space opera
Available at:
AMAZON
BARNES and NOBLE
BAM
AMAZON UK
AMAZON KINDLE
Also available in eBook format for iPad, Nook, and others

Find out more about Alex J. Cavanaugh on his BLOG and follow his tour!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Images From Book 'Em

Another great weekend! Exhausted from the weekend, but spoke to almost 300 students and met up with several author friends. Thanks to everyone who commented while I was gone...

Next year's Waynesboro event is the third weekend in October! If you are an author, you don't want to miss it. Trish and I were talking and since there's so few venues now for authors, we both feel this is one of the best opportunities for an author to expose their work to readers. And sell books for a great cause, too! Rumour has it someone with the last name of Grisham might attend in 2012, too...








Sorry, I was going to post more, but the photo upload is acting up!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On to Book 'Em and the GO AWAY Award!

I'm off today for the Book 'Em Festival.

Friday is a full day of school visits, teaching kids how to design their own character. It's tiring but a lot of fun - some of the kids come up with great characters.

Saturday is the main event and I'm also scheduled to do a talk at 11am. It'll be a blast to catch up with my author friends!

Several of us are getting together for dinner Friday night, including my buddy Trish (p.m. terrell) and Dirk Robinson. (From Scotland! I could listen to Dirk talk for hours.)

And I'm wrapping up my week with The Muse Online Writers Conference. The forum discussion has been fun and informative (I'll post about it next week) but I'm hoping the two events don't coincide again next year. Just a little too much for Spunky to handle!

I also recieved an award from Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry Thanks so much! She is just the sweetest lady.

I'm passing the Go Away! I'm Writing Award to three writers at various stages in the writing process:
Tara McClendon
Creepy Query Girl
Nancy J Parra

And I wrapped up with part II of my professional speaking series at Breakthrough Blogs on Wednesday. Thanks again, Stephen!

I'll be offline until next week, so see you when I return. Weekend Sillies will post as usual though!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stirring up Some Book Cover Controversy!

Arlee Bird occasionally tosses out topics to spark a conversation. Today, I’m throwing out book covers.

A cover needs to grab people. It’s often a reader’s first impression of a book. It needs to appeal to its target audience and enough people to make the book a success. Fads in book design come and go as well.

Now, everyone has different tastes. No cover appeals to everyone. So, below I have selected some really great covers and some really lame covers - and stated why. Please feel free to state your opinion in the comments!

Great Covers:








The above books all share gorgeous cover art, and that attracts me to a book first.


Halo's art is simple but pleasing. And soft, which is good, because the title makes me think of the video game first! (It's probably riding on the coattails a bit, too.)



Any book with an animal on cover gets my attention. (And I really want this book!!!)

Now for the cover styles I don't like - remember, this is just my opinion of the covers!



















Too plain and too cheap in appearance.

Wow, way too plain!!! Might as well be just text.

Go ahead and hate me now - but the first time I ever saw this book on a blog, I thought "Wow, that's some sad self-published book art." Then I saw a ton of her books in the bookstore and realized she was big time - and they all shared the same horrible cover design. Sorry, but it looks cheap.

And now for my least favorite style of cover art, most popular with YA books. I called these covers "Body Parts"






That's right - "Body Parts.' You don't get the whole person. And there's a MILLION books that look like this on the market!
I'm also not a fan of people photos on books. And don't get me started on "Betrayed" above - the photographer in me screams "It's out of focus!!!!!!"

Feel free to disagree or agree. As you can see, I like gorgeous cover art and I like it to fill the cover as well. Plain just doesn't do it for me. Not for my fiction, that's for sure!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The First Book That Moved Me Blogfest!

Today I am visiting Breakthrough Blogs for a two-part series for authors on transitioning into public speaking.

Please visit Brad Jaeger’s site for more blogfest participants.

The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey

I was thirteen when this bestseller came out in paperback. The cover caught my attention in the bookstore - Michael Whelen creates amazing covers! I turned it over, expecting the story to have nothing to do with dragons. However, it really WAS about dragons! The story of Lord Jaxom and his rare white dragon, Ruth, intrigued me.

That book was destiny, because it fueled my desire to be an author.

McCaffrey’s stories of a distant planet called Pern sparked my imagination. I fell in love with her style of writing and focus on character development. Her Dragonrider series may be sci-fi, but the struggles of Pern’s people mirror our own. Some of the books focus on just a few characters while others follow numerous people. Each one is so unique though that I’ve never had trouble keeping up. The White Dragon is also the third in the main trilogy, but there’s just enough back story (and a prologue) that I never felt lost. I’ve also read her Dragonrider books many, many times.

More than anything, I wanted my own dragon! Or at least a firelizard.

If you love a good character story, I highly recommend The White Dragon!



And today is the opening of The Muse Online Writer’s Conference!
My chat discussion at 9am today is on Essential Marketing Materials for Book Promotion and I’m doing a week-long forum discussion on Developing Contacts to Promote Your Book. Hope to see you there!