Saturday, December 26, 2015

On the Cusp of the Future

The Best Christmas Ever is finally over. Four generations gathered to open presents, eat too much and play with grandchildren some hadn’t even met yet. With the leaf in the dining room table plus two card tables we managed to seat and feed the crowd. And now everyone has arrived home safely.

What do we do after Christmas? Aside from packing away the decorations and eating leftovers, we turn our eyes to the New Year. This is when we look back and measure the accomplishments of the year past and make plans for the one coming up. This is when we make our New Year’s resolutions. I think those resolutions mean more if they are made public, so I figured I’d share mine.

I am a writer first, and I’m committed to some of the characters I’ve created. So in 2016 I resolve to publish the next Stark & O’Brien adventure. I need to continue Felicity’s story arc of emotional recovery from her knife wound. I will also complete a sequel to Beyond Blue. Those characters have been calling out to me, and I now have three story lines that can wind around each other nicely to show these detectives in more depth.

I’m also a publisher, and my goals for the business are simple in theory, but most challenging to execute. Intrigue Publishing has a dozen excellent writers under contract. In 2016 I resolve to do all I can to maximize the sales of their books and, by extension, their royalties. We have negotiated a contract with a stronger distributor and plan direct promotion to bookstores nationwide to boost sales. Scheduled contests and giveaways should help with ebook sales. And we are actively seeking new ideas to improve book promotion.

Finally, I’ve become a mentor to several new authors and I appreciate that responsibility. So for 2016 I resolve to help any interested aspiring authors get their first novel (or their next novel) plotted, written and actually finished. I’ll do much of that here, filling my blog with direction, insight and inspiration that will help new writer stick to it until they have a final finished novel on their hands.   

Well, those are this writing publisher’s New Year’s Resolutions. What are yours?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All I Want for Christmas is…

If you ask your favorite author what they think would be the ideal holiday gift they might reflexively answer, “Buy my book,” and that answer would be mostly joking. However, there are gifts you can send them that they may appreciate even more than you picking up another copy of their book… and they won’t cost you a dime.

One great thing you can do for that favorite author is to write a review. Online reviews are important because having a lot of reviews (good OR bad) is proof that a book is being read and talked about. A tweet or email telling me you posted a review on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble or Audible is as welcome as a package under the tree.

Promotion on social media is also a great gift. Taking pictures of the book when you get it and posting them on Facebook and Twitter is a great way to spread the word about the book – especially if you add a link to where it can be purchased.

How about inviting your author friend to speak to a club or professional association you belong to. And you should check if your employer’s company is open to author speakers. Writers need exposure to new audiences almost as much as they need sales. This is a way you can help them get both.

If you blog, or produce a podcast, your favorite author would love to be interviewed for it, or to see a review of his or her book there. Again, it’s the gift of exposure to a new audience.

If you belong to a book club, a simple invitation would be a wonderful gift. Many a book has been propelled to best seller status thanks to the support of book clubs. Aside from the sales when every member of your club orders a copy to read, book clubs also provide incomparable word-of-mouth. And, the author you love will have a great time visiting with a roomful of avid readers. If you are distant from the writer’s home, you can have him or her visit by Skype.

All of those perfect author gifts will cost you nothing but time and energy. But if you decide to spend money on a gift to your favorite writer, consider the rest of your gift list. Which would your other friends and family appreciate more: yet another gift card, or a personalized and autographed book? This can be a personal and memorable gift, particularly if you know the author well enough to tell the recipient something about him or her.

So put a smile on the face of your favorite authors. Give that writer what he or she REALLY wants this year.