Crazy Times at Barnes & Noble Book Signing!!

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In recent years, I’ve had lots of good experiences and sales when book signing at a Barnes & Noble — I say “recent years” because back in 2006 when Deadly Choices, my award-winning police procederal came out, the only two people who showed up at the Evanston B & N were the mom and granddad of CJ, my young son’s best friend!

Becky, the manager at the Greensboro B & N, is always fabulous to me. When Fatal Reaction came out in 2015, we had 27 mystery readers in the audience! Greensboro is quite a literary community, and they’re happy to explore a new author! This June, 12 devotees filled the chairs to hear me read from Psychobabble, my most recent psychological suspense novel. It’s all good.

But when I flew into Chicago to publicize Psychobabble, arriving fifteen minutes before my scheduled book signing, the floor manager said he knew nothing about my Event — this after I’d called three days in advance to confirm!

The manager with whom I’d confirmed, he confided, quit earlier in the day. Nothing was set up. No downstairs entrance sign announcing my Event. Upstairs, no chairs, tables, podium, or mic. The overhead music was blaring!

My heart pounded like a furnace turned full throttle as I spotted a handful of my friends and family members climbing the long staircase to the second floor.  ADHD people thrive on chaos; we can problem-solve almost any situation. But this time I felt lambasted. What to do??

Then I overheard a senior manager speaking to the younger man who’d blurted the bad news. “Breathe in, breathe out. Slow down. You’ve got this.”

Hearing the mantra I tell myself every single day, my heart softened with compassion. The young man looked up as I approached, his forehead creased. “You’ve got this,” I said.

Eight minutes, three rows of chairs, and one podium later, I formally welcomed the 30 fans who had graced this evening to be there for me. I was so touched, it took me a moment to find my voice — I thought it hightailed out of here with the manager who’d quit earlier in the day!

Five minutes into my unrehearsed presentation, I signalled my son to click off the video. Then I just began to speak from my heart. I sold 9 books that night. Everything worked out as it should. That nice young manager invited me back again, this time to an event well publicized in the store.

Yet another good Barnes & Noble experience….

 

 

 

 

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How I Self-Published My Book Through Ingram Spark

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Yeah! Psychobabble, my fourth psychological thriller, is live on Kindle and Amazon! Equally as exciting, the paperback version will be available through Barnes & Noble and other book stores and libraries throughout the world! How did a self-published author get onto the bookshelves? Here’s the steps I took to make it happen:

  • Asked Barnes & Noble how I, a self-published author, could get my books on their book shelves. Ingram Spark was their answer: 855-997-7275, weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or ingramsparksupport@ingramcontent.com
  • Viewed all (actually, just a few) of their videos, blogs, and templates, re: book size, book cover, retail price of book, wholesale discount to book store, geographical locations throughout the world to place book, etc.
  • Set up an account with Ingram Spark, and then sent my developmental editor, copy editor, and book cover editor (Yes, you must assemble this team first; will discuss how on next blog) a link to my account so they could see what I could see.
  • While my team worked on putting a publishable book together for me to upload to Ingram Spark, I hopped on Ingram’s website and completed the brief description, longer description, and other content required on my book.

DON’T DO WHAT I DID AND SCHEDULE A BOOK LAUNCH OR SIGNING BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A HARD COPY OF YOUR BOOK IN HAND! Allow two to three months to get it all together, from developmental edit to publication date.

I didn’t understand that each time I made any type of change on Ingram Spark regarding my book, it pushed the publication date back at least a week. Then I had an eproof, and even ordered a paperback proof, before publishing.

JUST KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO THIS! I can’t tell you how many times I phoned and emailed Ingram Spark. Even though you might have to wait on the telephone for quite a while during the lunch or dinner times of day, they are super responsive and helpful. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Publishing Through Create Space

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Self-publishing your novel can prove scary, intimidating, and expensive, depending on which company you sign up with. But 7 years and 2 books later, I only have fond words for Create Space.

The price is so cheap — 0 — to be exact. Yes, you need to secure a copy editor, developmental editor, and book cover designer/editor, all at your own expense. We’re talking $600 to $1,200 total here. (We will discuss how to research these professionals in another post.)  But once you’ve got your book completed, your editor will upload it to Create Space for free!

Why Create Space? Besides uploading your trade paperback for zero cost, Create Space 

also puts you on Amazon, because they are a satellite company of the “Big A”!  You can then, for no additional cost except what your editor may charge, upload your book into

Kindle format through KDP.  You set your own retail price for both your paperback and your ebook. Hoiw much do you pay Create Space per print-on-demand book you order from them? Well, for my 262-page Window of Guilt, I pay them approximately $4.99 per book and charge my retail customers $15.00 plus tax. (Yes, the IRS requires you fill out an annual sales tax form.) Your cost-to-print per book depends on number of pages, and whether or not you have color pics inside the book — which I don’t.  The cost-per-book + tax + shipping is all you pay; I buy in quantity, re: the shipping discount.

I usually order ten to fifteen copies of Deadly Choices, Window of Guilt, and Fatal Reaction at a time so I can sell my books at temples and churches, book fairs, book signings, and arts & craft fairs.

But the real reason I luv Create Space is because when you have no clue about how this whole self-publishing thing works, there’s an actual phone number to call — you can find this number on their website. YOU LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR THEM AND THEY PHONE YOU BACK WITH FIVE SECONDS! Yes, I’m not kidding. And knowledgeable customer service and tech support people help you all along the publishing path FOR FREE!! If anything looks wrong on your e-proof, they fix it for free!

I hope you will experience the same peace of mind I have had in publishing with Create Space.

 

 

Self-Publishing Again!

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Yep, I’ve decided to once again self-publish — this time it’s mystery novel Number Four! Instead of sending out queries on Psychobabble to forty or fifty carefully selected literary agents as I’ve done in the past, I only reached out to half that number. When I failed to receive a bite, I did not flush my word marbles down the toilet. That’s because a psychic I trust told me my best chance to get my newest psychological suspense novel up and running was to go the self-publishing route.

This psychic was one year off about when my daughter would get pregnant, so you’d think I would have learned my lesson. But in my heart — as well as in my accumulated knowledge base — I know self-publishing is the correct choice for me.

I’ve already had a psychologist, a mystery author, and several Beta readers (mystery fans) read and critique my manuscript.  Although I was unable to hook CPD detectives to review my manuscript for accuracy, I still can hit up detectives I’ve met through the Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy in North Carolina. (Notice I’ve said “met,” as in you gotta do the footwork and can’t just rely on the Internet and CSI.)

For the back cover, I plan to get book blurbs by the psychologist and mystery author. Writing a tantalizing couple of paragraphs that will hook the reader to read the book is more tricky and takes me days to accomplish. (I ask my book editor to critique those paragraphs before proceeding.)

Stay tuned for my next post on my further adventures in self-publishing! Be sure to send me your comments or questions, too!


 

 

Published Author’s Query for Autism Memoir

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Sounds great, right? Except I, as a published author, am not autistic! However, my 28-year-old Asperger’s client is! Together, we have written her memoir entitled Stumbling Through Asperger’s.  As with my three mystery novels, I paid to have this manuscript professionally edited.  Now comes the fun part of emailing query letters and the first few chapters of the manuscript to literary agents who represent memoirs!

It takes hours to research each literary agent, although Writer’s Digest, Literary Marketplace, and the Internet are veritable ways to start! Yet, a query must include an interest, hobby, geographic location, or another specific reason you chose to query that particular agent — and that’s just in the very first sentence! That first sentence is wherein the research lies!

The second sentence that also takes some real thought before sending out the query is the “hook.”  The hook is a short, direct, attention-grabber. Yeah, well this time around, I completely blasted that hook description with this:  Stumbling Through Asperger’s, a 57,000-word memoir, describes how my life-coaching client, Akira Frankel, diagnosed at age 4 with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, clawed her way out of  a destructive home environment perpetrated by a vindictive sister and a passive father.

Would my hook have been half as exciting had I written “Stumbling Through Aspergers is a memoir about a 28-year-old life-coaching student of mine who has autism” ? I think not, but that’s just my opinion. (No matter your decision, make sure to include your manuscript’s total word count in that first paragraph, along with its genre. My genre was memoir.)

In the second paragraph of my query, I indicated why my  student’s memoir should be published:  Over 1.6 million children — 1 in 45 — in the United States are diagnosed with autism. I added that my readership would provide hope to the millions of parents, educators, and therapists of children and young adults with autism.

In my third and final paragraph, I mentioned why my personal and professional background qualifies me to write this particular memoir:  Special education teacher, life-coach, former journalist, published author.

I made sure my email was divided into three single-spaced paragraphs, with a double space between each paragraph. Then I asked the agent to contact me if this was a project she/he was interested in undertaking.

Finally, I listed my website and contact information.  Then I had three of my family members, as well as my freelance editor, review my query letter. After everybody’s thumbs up, I sent my query out!

I will let you know what happens!

 

Obsessing Over Fatal Reaction!

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FatalReaction- White -hdrI am a perfectionist when self-publishing — okay, maybe not right now at 2:59 a.m. when I can’t sleep, but generally speaking! So before giving birth to my third mystery novel #Fatal Reaction on Valentines Day 2014, I edited and re-edited a hundred times over. Caution: Sleep deprivation causes me to exaggerate.

I drove my developmental/copy editor #Diane Piron-Gelman (wordnrd@earthlink.net) nuts with my formatting changes. And #Gin Kiser, graphic design artist for my book cover (wordsugardesigns@gmail.com) actually went into labor upon completing the final edit of several edits! No, Gin did not choose to go into labor as a less painful alternative!

My drive for perfection didn’t end with the book’s publication. I was going to be doing a speaking gig and planned to distribute post card-sized copies of the front and back book cover of #Fatal Reaction. Off to #Office Max I went! A week later, upon questioning veteran mystery author #Marilyn Meredith, I learned that an author can name the town, but not the authentic location, that a fictional crime took place. Thankfully, #Office Max changed two words on the back-side of the post card. My speaking gig had already come and gone. But when I speak/book sign at #Printers Row Literary Fest in Chicago on June 7, I’ll be distributing the new post card.

My point is that an author must be both diligent and vigilant in managing the final product that goes out into the book world. A self-published book should be written, formatted, and marketed as accurately as that of a big publisher — and sometimes better because the author’s professional reputation is at stake.