Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A year later, I'm still riding high because the release date for the first book is fast approaching and I'm in marketing mode. Since last October, I've acquired two new hats for Echelon. Author, of course, but also Short Story Marketing Director (December) and editor (April).
Hindsight is 20/20, so if I could have pursued serious editing years ago... Well, since April, I have learned so much.
I recently interviewed Echelon's senior editor for a future blog. She affirmed my thoughts on editing. Writers write. When they think they have a decent story, they do re-writes. Edit and edit again. They pick apart the story, polish action scenes, and fix clunkers. Still, that's not enough.
Writers get so familiar with their own stories, they miss words, punctuation, grammar, and content even when reading aloud. It takes another set of eyes to pick up on these mistakes.
Some writers use professional editors. Some find friends to read the story and comment/critique/edit. Writers' critique groups are great for this. By learning the rules of editing and reading and recognizing other people’s mistakes, I can go back to my stories and realize, a little better, how many errors need correcting. My own writing can only be improved.
One example: Echelon Press is avoiding tag lines after interrogatories and exclamations. “Where are you going?” she asked. “To the market!” he shouted. The question is obvious with the existence of the question mark so there is no need to tell the reader somebody just asked. Similarly, the mood of the scene should relate the friction or the tension to elicit an exclamation point without adding the fact he raised his voice. When I was working with my editor on Night Shadows, I had to step up a level with my creativity to avoid these. Just recently, I grabbed Beta, the second book, from the 'ready to edit' file and went through it again, hopefully saving some future editor some headaches.
An amusing part of editing is now when I read my favorite authors, I pick up mistakes in THEIR books. When Mary sent back first edits on Night Shadows, she pointed out the number of instances of semicolon and hyphens (which should have been EN dashes) and told me to fix these. There were too many.
Ironically, at the same time I was starting to read a new mystery and in the first twenty pages, the author used more semicolons and EN dashes than I did in half my book. You wouldn't believe how much I howled.
That's the nature of the beast, though. Writing is difficult. Editing is difficult. Anything worth doing well and appreciating is difficult. I am so glad, however, to have the opportunity to be published and to edit and thereby assist others. I know I learn from them and I hope the benefits are mutual.
You can follow Stephen Brayton’s career more closely at http://www.stephenbrayton.com
Thursday, October 14, 2010
LM Preston is a writer with a mission. Yes, her young adult stories are thrilling and exciting, but beyond that they subtly teach kids that they have the power to overcome anything. Writing stories for and about kids that overcome the impossible is a noble goal, but of course first you have to WRITE. Here she reminds us of an annual event that can help you get moving at the keyboard.
Learn more about LM Preston and her work at http://www.lmpreston.com
Learn more about LM Preston and her work at http://www.lmpreston.com
Friday, October 8, 2010
I find all of this variety healthy and stimulating to me as a novelist. But it does lead to a traffic jam of new mysteries coming out every month and competing for the reader’s attention.
How to make your mystery stand out so readers will find it? That’s the problem not only for newbie authors but for us who’ve been in this writing game a looooong time.
That’s why the joint author blogs suddenly popped onto the scene. I first paid serious attention to the joint blogs in 2005 when my first Berkley Prime Crime Kelly Flynn Mystery, KNIT ONE, KILL TWO, was released. Hitting four national bestseller lists the first week definitely helped the series get noticed, but every author knows that CONTINUED sales are the key to success. Especially long term success, and that’s what I was working for.
So. . .in the spring of 2006, at a Malice Domestic mystery conference in the
area, two other pubbed mystery authors and I first started Cozy Chicks and decided to use the webname: www.cozychicksblog.com. Michelle Scott (Berkley Prime Crime Wine Lovers Mysteries), Karen MacInerney (Midnight Ink Grey Whale Inn Mysteries), and I agreed we needed to ask four other published mystery authors to join us so we’d each be contributing one day a week. We figured we’d keep the blog fresh that way and hopefully attract readers---not only to the blog but to our books as well. Washington, DC
And, boy. . .has it worked. The Cozy Chicks Blog has grown steadily in daily readership since then despite the inevitable changes in members that happen in group efforts. The blog has enabled us to have another great promotional outlet for our individual releases in addition to our own websites. AND. . .we help each other out with promotion by passing out each other’s bookmarks & promo items at our own individual book signings and appearances. That increases our individual promotional reach seven-fold. Each of us lives in separate areas of the country, and we each attend a lot of regional conferences the rest of us cannot. Those travel dollars only stretch so far, so these “Multiplier Effect” activities are invaluable.
This past January, we decided to broaden our scope even more and joined another mystery author joint group that had recently formed---Cozy Promo. There are 25 mystery authors in this email loop and again---we all help each other with promotion by handing out bookmarks, etc at our own events. That Multiplier Effect got a heckuva lot more powerful with 25 authors working it.
Plus, having all those eyes and ears out there on the Web means there’re more people finding interesting articles or book news that would be of interest to the entire group.
And this June, the Cozy Promo group started a new blog all its own, with a twist---www.killercharacters.com. Killer Characters is where our characters do the posting---as themselves---not us. In fact, our characters are known to chase their authors off some of the postings. If you’ve ever wondered if we authors suffer from split personality disorders---well, you get to see it front and center on Killer Characters. Kelly Flynn first posted on June 8th, so if you’re curious about Kelly, who she is and why she’s poking into murders in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, check out Killer Characters.
Those promotional efforts not only help us bring existing characters to the readers’ attention, but they’re also invaluable when we’re introducing a new series with new characters, as I am.
I’ve sold a second mystery series which will be published in August or September 2012. The Molly Malone Mysteries take place in my old hometown,
. There are good guys, bad guys, and politicians all mixed in with mystery and some intrigue. It’s not cozy, but I’m hoping readers will give Molly Malone a try anyway. And I’m definitely planning to use Cozy Chicks and Cozy Promo to help me get the word out in 2012 that “there’s a new girl in town.” Washington, DC
The eighth novel in Maggie's Knitting Mystery series, SKEIN OF THE CRIME, was Barnes & Noble #5 Bestselling Hardcover Mystery after its release in June and is still on their Bestseller list. Learn more about Maggie Sefton's work and the rest of the Cozy Chicks at http://www.maggiesefton.com