Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So close ... to fame on Amazon

For just a few minutes there, I was almost famous. I was so close.

See, I called up Death on Deadline on its Amazon page to see if I had any more reviews posted (I have a few pending) and my jaw dropped in amazement.

There, right by MY book, my hard-scrabble indie little baby, was an Amazon seal of approval. YES! It was right there! It was GOLD! And it said "Best of 2011 So Far." Really? Seriously?

I did my traditional seated happy dance, but it wasn't enough. I almost got up to do my standing-up happy dance when I stopped. Wait a minute. There was a little box around the seal. Like ... maybe ... it didn't go with my book. Like ... maybe ... it was just kind of a misleading little ad. Misleading in my favor, sure, but still.

I looked closer and read the small print. Oh. It was just an ad for Kindle books in general. More expensive Kindle books by traditionally published authors. Dang it.

I suddenly flashed back to junior high school, to walking down the hallway to algebra class. "Hey," I hear. I see the most gorgeous basketball star ever to walk the halls of Benjamin Franklin Junior High flashing his trademark grin and walking over to me. Me? The big nerd? I stop in my tracks, swallow hard and smile back tentatively. I keep smiling, too, as he walks past me to link arms with the gymnastics star standing right behind me.

Dang it. I was so close.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finished your book? Start the next one!

I had a terrifying question asked of me the other day. Oh, it didn't start out scary. It just ended that way.

"Hey, I liked your book," read a comment in my e-mail. I did a little happy dance in my chair. "What's America doing next?"

America is America Miles, the protagonist in Death on Deadline. And right now, she's waiting on me.

And it's all my fault.

I should have listened to my husband. He told me months ago - right after I published Death on Deadline - that I needed to start working on my next book. I just shrugged. And glared.

"I will, I will," I told him. "I JUST finished. That's like asking a new mom when she's having another baby."

Geez. How rude.

Well, I hate to admit it (because wives are always right, of course) but he wasn't rude. He was right. I should have been writing.

Because now I'm late. And my fingers are flying double-time. So don't wait. And don't be offended. Just write.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's writer mom vs. kids this summer

There are two camps in my household these days. One camp is trying to finish a book and is on a self-imposed deadline. The other camp is on summer vacation and has no deadlines whatsoever.

The camps are not particularly compatible.

One camp is trying to create compelling, creative prose. The other camp is tearing apart the basement looking for Spongebob goggles that may or may not actually exist.

The first camp is doing her best to create a humorous book of essays, knowing that humor is a delicate, subjective topic that must be crafted with just the right amount of tact and dignity. The second camp is learning to do cartwheels in the living room and shouting things like "Lookit mom!!lookit mom!!lookit mom!!lookit mom!!"

The first camp is realizing why famous writers of old often turned to the bottle or ran away to desert islands to think. And while she won't do either of these things, she also is realizing that deadlines are flexible and kids are only kids once.

The first camp is waving the white flag. The second camp is just wondering why there aren't more Doritos in the house.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seriously - can marketing yourself be fun?

At the end of an email the other day, a potential reviewer wished me well on my book sales. "Isn't it fun?" he added.

All day, I couldn't stop thinking about his comment.

Fun? Seriously? We're talking self-publishing, right? You know - selling books, getting reviews, developing your brand, all that. It's marketing, and that's necessary. But fun?

Writing is fun for me. Creating a story, building a new world, finding those twists and turns that keep readers spellbound - now that's fun. Marketing ... well, fun wouldn't be the first word I use to describe it. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm judging too hastily.

Are there others out there who have as much fun with marketing as I do with writing? Is there a way to have the best of both worlds? Maybe it's just a change of perspective. Maybe it's more. Either way, I think it's time to find out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lesson learned: Lunch before book reviews

So I've been working recently to get book reviews for Death on Deadline. And as a publishing newbie, it's taken me some time to figure out how it's done.

But finally - success! I received a few emails the other day from interested reviewers. Would I mind sending them copies? One requested a .mobi file, the other epub.

Naturally I didn't mind. I was delighted. I ... just wasn't quite sure how to do it. And I wanted to make sure I did it right, so I didn't look like a doofus. I didn't want the first line of the review to be how difficult it was receive the book in the correct format.

So I woke up extra early the next morning. I downloaded the versions (very easy) then took a break for the morning routine - getting the kids fed and dressed and off to school. But I was so excited, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I kept fussing with my emails, messing with the computer. I was just about finished, though, and it was almost time to leave for school, when my young son came by and looked at me accusingly.

"Where's my lunch?" he asked me, looking in his backpack. "Did you forget to make my LUNCH?"

Um...oops. He glared at me. "Are you playing on the computer in the morning? We're not allowed to play on the computer in the morning!"

Busted. I had to run his lunch over later, parking in a no-parking zone and getting yelled at by the meanie in the school office.

There's a few lessons that can be learned here, but perhaps the most important one is this: School lunches before book reviews.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Amazon promotion sparks inner debate

Last week, Amazon quietly launched its big Sunshine Deals promotion, and my inner writer and reader began to argue.

If you haven't heard - and you probably have - Sunshine Deals is a promotion between Amazon and some traditional publishers, allowing Amazon to sell 600+ e-books by big-name authors for cheap, cheap, cheap (99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99) until June 15.

It's a great way to fill up your Kindle. In fact, that's the whole marketing campaign.

And so the reader inside me was ecstatic. Despite all the hype, bestsellers for Kindle often aren't really that cheap, at least not for skinflints like me. I mean, they're more inexpensive than the hard covers, sure, but they're not as drop-dead cheap as we might have been led to believe when e-readers first went on sale. (At least that's my opinion).

But the writer inside me - whiny little thing that she is - wasn't quite so thrilled. I'm a writer, after all. And I'm selling my e-book on Kindle for 99 cents. I have enough competition with other indie writers. Do I really need the big-name guys horning in on my price range? They have agents, publicists, probably massage therapists. Sheesh. Don't they get enough breaks as it is?

My inner writer was not pleased at all, no sirree.

But then I began perusing the site. I started shopping. I began filling up my Kindle with bargains. I realized I couldn't get mad at any promotion that promotes reading.

And I also realized the promotion hasn't really affected my sales. Hmm. Maybe me and the big boys don't share the same readership. Yet. : )

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Writing? In this weather? Umm, maybe ...

Remember when you were in school and the sun would be shining and it would be warm outside, and everyone would raise their hands and say, "Can we have class outside today?!"

I'm getting that feeling all over again.

I've read a couple of posts from writers lately, talking about how the fresh, warm weather has sparked their creativity. I envy them. I'm finding myself distracted.

I love to write, sure. I need to. I have projects thisclose to being finished. And I have fun projects I want to start.

But after a long, cold Midwestern winter and an incredibly soggy spring, it's finally sunny and warm outside. I'm reveling in it. I can't get enough of the sunshine. I want to swim in the pool. I want to garden. I want to simply sit outside. I want to teach myself to take nature photos so when winter inevitably arrives again, I'll have a way to remember this time.

But I need to write. So I'm thinking of taking my laptop outside for a little bit of a compromise. And I'm forcing myself to focus.

Because if you'll remember, we didn't often get to have class outside.