Saturday, September 7, 2019

Book Reviews

As a writer hoping to get sales for my novels, I've often wondered how important book reviews are in the marketing process. I've been fortunate to have some good reviews for the three books I've had published, but I can't be certain they are the reason for any spike in sales I've had. When I give talks at book clubs or senior centers and sell books afterward, I know what generated those sales. When I check my Kindle sales or my publisher publishes the monthly stats, I can only guess what prompted those sales. Recently I was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. The journalist did a nice job and related well how my career in law enforcement led me to write my mystery novels, even including a picture. My sales spiked so greatly I wished I could have one of these interviews every month.

I'm often contacted by book reviewers wishing to review one of my books, usually for a cost. Kirkus will review books and they are considered an industry gold standard, but their charge is exorbitant. Spending hundreds of dollars for a book review which may, or may not, generate a few sales does not seem cost-effective. I've used NetGalley but the process only resulted in one very good review. Another was promised but has yet to be seen.

I'd be interested in the experiences you've had with book reviews and what you'd recommend.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Major Move

After almost 35 years in a house I loved, I've moved to a senior community seven miles away. It wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. My husband and I had been on the waiting list for five years as the new development was being built.  Periodic meetings with updates kept us excited and interested. So many amenities! We could hardly wait. Although we're both in good health and active, we wanted to make a decision for our future before a possible health crisis forced us to make one. This seemed like the perfect choice. We would live independently in our own "garden terrace" condo, but would have long term care available if we ever needed it.

Still, when the time came to actually move, the fantasy became a reality, and the transition wasn't easy. Locking the door behind me in the home we were leaving brought tears to my eyes. As I scanned the empty rooms, years of memories danced before me. The first night in our new place, surrounded by packing boxes, I wondered if we'd made a mistake. As we slowly settled into our new home, smaller and single story, and began to meet our new neighbors, we started to feel comfortable. Now, a few weeks into our new environment, it feels like home. Talking to other residents, also scaling down, we learned they all had the same twinge of sadness during their transition from a familiar place to a new one. Yet, we all feel we made the right decision. Change isn't easy, even when you have planned for it. One thing we're certain of now, we'll never move again!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Marketing and Sales

Marketing is probably the most frustrating of all for an author, but a necessary evil if you want sales. And who doesn't? Your book is finished and published. Your baby is out in the world, you hope. But how do you get it there so readers can learn of the wonderful novel you've written. Writers aren't sales people. Unless you are already well-known, your publisher expects you to do the heavy lifting. With hundreds of new books coming out almost daily, how do you stand above the crowd? With three novels under my belt, I still don't have the definite answer, but I've learned that personal contact with your potential reader is the most successful way for me. I've tried Amazon ads, Publishers Weekly promotions, and NetGalley with little success. When I do local book signings I'm able to engage readers personally, resulting in sales as well as invitations to speak at book clubs. Recently I was able to be interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. They gave me a half-page spread with a nice picture and a very complete overview of my books, my background and credibility for the theme of my novels. The result, my book sales immediately spiked, with 31 Kindle sales so far, and still counting. For months I had no sales at all. I hope these readers will like what they read, tell their friends, and maybe the word will spread. I'm always interested in new ideas, so readers, if you have any, please let me know.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Oxford Comma

I've been using the Oxford comma for years and never knew it had a name. For those who may not already know what that means, it is the comma that appears after the last word in a grouping. For example: I ate cookies, drank milk, cleaned up, and left the kitchen. Many writers do not use a comma after the last word and apparently it's OK. The important thing is to be consistent in your writing. It makes more sense to me to use the comma in such a grouping. Now I know there's a name for it!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Book Review

Past Tense (Jack Reacher, #23)Past Tense by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A page turner as usual. Parallel stories that don't intersect until close to the end. Jack Reacher heads for San Diego but is enticed to stop at Laconia, New Hampshire because he remembers his father talking about being raised there. Unfortunately, the city can find no records. This doesn't stop Reacher, who continues to pursue information until he finds more than he expected. In the meantime, a young Canadian couple, on their way to New York to sell some items they believe have great value, are forced to stop at an out-of-the-way motel when their car breaks down. Once there, they are unable to leave. Reacher of course manages to have a few fights along the way. The story ends with a twist you don't suspect. Reacher continues heading to San Diego after wrapping up business in Laconia, leaving a few dead bodies in his wake. I often wonder how he gets away with this, but that's what makes this fiction.


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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Book Review

LessLess by Andrew Sean Greer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With all the cover accolades this book received I fully intended to love it. Unfortunately I didn't even like it. The protagonist, Arthur Less, is a self-effacing writer, a homosexual, and approaching age fifty, acts as if his life is over. Greer is a good writer, but his plot jumps around so much it is hard to follow. One consistency is the whining Less does, no matter what situation he is in. His homosexuality seems to drive him as his self-esteem is based on whoever he is having a relationship with. Having been rejected by his latest love, who is now getting married, Less flees the country to accept various invitations he has received for literary events around the world. This gives the author the opportunity to place Less in different countries, with each having their own disasters. He spends much of his time reminiscing, which involves flashbacks that come and go and make the story progress in a sketchy manner. When Less returns home a surprise awaits him. If you can stay with this book until the end you'll learn what it is.


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