Monday, August 30, 2010

A Hunk by Any Other Name...

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Today I have a treat for you. Barbara Monajem is my guest and she's talking about a subject we've had lots of fun with on my blog--naming characters. Drop by and leave a comment for a chance to win SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL!

Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Anti-Marketing Tactics

from Emily Bryan...

Sometimes, you don't have to be the best. Being the worst will also get you attention on the web. That happened this week with the new website of Carina Press author Susanna Fraser.

It's a tongue-in-cheek site, purportedly thrown together by her long-suffering husband. It's lack of design is stunning. The content is hilarious for its very awfulness (for example: Here's her email. You should spam it.)

But it's not enough just to be terrible. You have to be conspicuously terrible. The site went viral on Twitter. It was bad enough to garner the attention of Barbara Vey--the PW Blogger, who posted about it (like I just did) and invited her readers to laugh along with her. And subsequently drove tons of traffic to Ms. Fraser's website.

Will this non-website sell books? Probably. Any publicity is good publicity and the site's sorry appearance does draw people to it, sort of like a traffic accident causes lookie-loo slowdowns. It works, after a fashion.

And makes me feel really silly for obsessing over updating my website, though I did appreciate the help I received from readers in deciding on the final color scheme. And don't get me started about the money I'm getting ready to spend on having pros redesign the site for my new pen name Mia Marlowe (I have a homegrown site now, though it's not as stunningly awful as Susanna Fraser's and therefore, probably not as effective! I'll let you be the judge.)

But websites aren't the be all and end all of marketing. Word of mouth is still the gold standard. A couple weekends ago, my DH and I visited Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA. The collection of medieval artifacts includes an impressive armory and a claymore as long as my DH is tall. While we were looking at the display, I fell into conversation with a lovely lady from Pennsylvania. The claymore reminded her of Jamie Fraser and she launched into raptures over Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

An author pens a story so engrossing, her readers feel compelled to talk about it to total strangers. Forget about websites. That's powerful marketing.

Have you ever recommended a book to a friend? A stranger? What was it and what about the story that made you feel the need to share it?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The future of publishing

A few weeks ago Dorchester Publishing announced that it will be going all digital with its releases. Trade issues will follow in the coming months but for all practical purposes, mass market paperback books are dead. They also have let two wonderful editors go in an attempt to cut expenses.
Pretty much everyone in the romance publishing world knows that Dorchester has had financial problems for the past couple of years. Several things have led to this. Some writers got large advances that didn't earn out, Anderson News went under, retail outlets such as Walmart cut the shelf space for books which pretty much eliminated the midlisters, and publishers have a return for life policy for the retailers. Its cheaper to throw away perfectly good books, once the cover has been removed and print new ones than to ship books back and out again.

Thus lies the problem. Mass Market as a money maker is no longer viable. All publishers are losing money on them, it just showed up in Dorchester sooner because they are a small house with private investors, not a large corporation, such as Harlequin or Putnam Penquin. With the economy the way it is, they can no longer afford to operate at a loss. These are the facts of life, we as writers have to learn to deal with them. Digital is the wave of the future. I predict that within 20 years, the majority of books put out will be digital and the basic book, whether hard copy, trade, or mass market will be collectors items. E-readers are suppposed to be down under $100 by Christmas and with the advances in technology, they will be even lighter and more portable in just a few years. (Maybe an e-reader that opens like an actual book?)

So here's my rub, or what this post is all about. Most of all the things that have happened with Dorchester lately has come to its writers via Twitter. Alicia Condon leaving, announced on Twitter. Dorchester going all digital, announced on Twitter, Leah and Don let go, announced on Twitter. We are the last ones to find out what is going on with our publisher. Especially frustrating is the part where we don't get paid. They don't inform us, the check just never shows up, month after month after month and we have to beg by ourselves, or through our agents to get money that we have earned. If you owe us money its because we made you money and we've waited long enough for our share. We have been kept in the dark about everything.

So I am issuing a challenge to Dorchester and all other publishers out there. We are partners in this business. Without the writers, you have no product. Without the publisher we have no way to get out product out. Consider us an equal partner, not a side note. Let us know up front what is going on. We are creative and intelligent people with varied backgrounds. We are attorneys and accountants and teachers and artists. We live all over the world. Our careers and our livelihoods are at stake. Give us the consideration that you would give your investors and the employees that work in your offices.
We love books. We love the smell of them and the feel of them. We love getting lost in the pages. We love telling the stories and reading the stories that other tell. We write because we can't stop writing. Some of us make a pretty good living at it and some of us don't. But all of us will never stop telling the stories we love. So please, big publisher, remember who writes the stories when you are making your decisions and let us be part of the process, instead of victims of it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Updates/Cover/Blog Giveaway

Oh, so many things going on with us Chatelaines! So many changes so fast, but you know, a writer's life is a many-changing one, and we're called upon to constantly reinvent ourselves.

In the middle of all this, I'm writing books like crazy (all for Berkley now); blogging here, there, and yon; and cover conferencing, synopsizing, marketing, etc.

Today, I'm at the Borders True Romance blog, celebrating The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which WON the "Reader's Crown" award from Borders' first romance conference, RomCon. I'm giving a way a copy of Lord Ian (or, if you've already read it, anything else from my backlist, including Lady Isabella).

The lovely trophy is pictured above, with a closeup of the plaque.

Also going on for me is--turning in book after book, which means covers! My editor and I are talking about the covers for SHADOWWALKER by Allyson James (Stormwalker Book 3), and THE MANY SINS OF LORD CAMERON, by Jennifer (Mackenzies, or Highland Pleasures, Book 3).

The title of the next Shifters Unbound book is now PRIMAL BONDS, and yesterday, I got the gorgeous cover for it:

Out March 1. And more to come.

So things go. I have much more to write, which will mean ongoing blogging, marketing, cover conferencing . . .

Cheer on us Chatelaines as we navigate the wild waters of publishing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Emily Bryan Romance: Color Therapy

Emily Bryan Romance: Color Therapy: "That's what my beta reader, Marcy W, tells me I need to break through my fear of changing my white walls. Consider my website facelift a bab..."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

I partially fulfilled #1 on the professional side of the 9 Month Bucket List on my Mia Marlowe blog with The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass . If you're a writer, you'll want to check it out. If you're a reader, come wonder with me why it's easier to finish the professional goals than the personal ones . . . The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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