Thursday, March 5, 2009


~Sia McKye~
As an author, nothing can be quite as exciting as receiving word you’ve sold your book and it’s going to be published. You are over the moon and flying high. Maybe even dreaming of the NYT Best Sellers List. Finally, you’re getting validation for all your work and hours of writing. Everyone you know hears about it. You’re discussing galleys, Arc covers, the artwork, blurbs, and author endorsements on your cover. Tossing terms around like Pub dates, Arc mailings, targeted print campaigns, web promotions and Reviews, library marketing, and author events. Your book finally hits Barnes & Noble and you find yourself going in just to look at a book with your name on it. You take pictures. You start being obsessed with Amazon figures on your book’s placement of the day or week. You’ve got it made, right?

Keep in mind that just having your book in print doesn't mean it will automatically sell—books don't sell themselves, even if they are listed on Amazon—or on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. As a friend of mine recently reminded me: “Over 195,000 new novels are published by publishers in the U.S. every year. Of those, 70% sell fewer than 500 copies. A sobering thought.

Here’s another reason to aggressively promote yourself and your books and the importance in building a reader base.

Debuting authors are lucky enough to get a first print run of 10,000 for their book, depending upon the genre and your publisher’s confidence in your work (some can be as high as 25,000). You might think 10,000 is a big number until you start calculating book stores and Amazon. It’s really a small run and it’s not going to hit the best sellers list with that number. If they sell only 500 copies or less, then the publisher eats the cost of having the other 9500 shipped back to them, at full cost, and made into pulp. Publishers are not happy when this happens, but they have a contract with you, maybe for a three-book deal. Maybe they’ll recoup their losses on the second book? If they don’t will they take another three books from you? Or drop you like a hot potato? Can you see where active promotion and publicity is vital?

On the other hand, you’ve worked your butt off with promotion. You’ve built up name recognition on the Internet through Facebook, Wordpress, Twitter, and Gather, MySpace and other social networks. You’ve worked hard at blogging and building presence and attracting your consumers—readers. You started this long before your book was even sold. You continued even after your book was sold. You’ve written book reviews on books similar to yours, written anything and everything related to your books and also to you as a person. You’ve made yourself a personality, with likes, dislikes, and interests. In other words you’ve become a real person to your readers. They see you share the same interests as they do, you chat with them. You build characters in your books; surely it isn’t that hard to project yourself to your readers?

Because your potential readers like you and have gotten to know you somewhat, they do name-dropping about their “good friend, the author.”

“Oh yeah, I know Anna Campbell and she just released TEMPT THE DEVIL. Highlanders, honey, you have to look for it.”

“I just read the best suspense/thriller recently, A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE, by my friend Pat Bertram. We’re talking danger and a story of ordinary people becoming extraordinary to survive. You’ve got to order it.”

“My good friend Judi Fennell wrote this cool series about sexy mermen and a kingdom under the sea. The first book is called IN OVER HER HEAD, you gotta read it!”

Cheryl Brooks is just the nicest person evah. She writes some real sizzlers, we’re talkin’ hot and sexy. She writes The Cat Star Chronicles and just released ROGUE.

It’s that simple and any debuting or popular author’s name can be slipped in there. Why? Because you’ve worked hard to be assessable and real to your readers. Because once you knew your release date, you started building anticipation for your book. So now, your book is released and sells through at 80%, or 8000 books. Your publisher is very happy and is patting him or herself for their ability to find talented writers. They decide a second print run is good business. Because you’ve built a buzz you probably will do well on the second run. Your publisher decides for your next book (for a debuting author that can be as soon as two-three months later) to start out with a first print run of 25,000 and a much larger presence on the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble and more pressure for the staff to push your book.

By the way, to hit the NYT best sellers list? The book needs a first print run of at least 35,000 plus. Maybe Nora Roberts or Christine Feehan may get first runs in the 1-300,000 book range but look at all the time they invested in marketing and promoting themselves and their books. As a debuting author, you’re not going to get that with a first run.

This type of marketing/promotion also works for POD authors. True, you don’t have to deal with print runs and costly returns, but if your books are on the shelves in bookstores, the return cost are still a bite and one you as the author have to foot. In reality, most Print On Demand books are not on the shelves of National bookstores. You can order them from Barnes & Noble, or Borders, but due to the higher price for the average trade paperback, they aren’t always carried physically.

It’s smart business; again it’s your business, to have these books sell through. You want to be successful and to do that you need a solid reader base as much as, or perhaps even more than, a traditionally published author. Collecting dust is not the image of your books you want in the bookstore management’s eyes or your own, especially if you want them to continue to carry your books. Shelf space is not a guarantee of sales any more than having a book with your name on it is.

Stirring up publicity and marketing yourself as an author and promoting your book is, many times, the least favorite task for an author. The point is if you want to be a success as an author then it’s going to take hard work. A third of your time is spent in writing the story and the rest is spent in selling it to a publisher and then promoting the book and yourself as an author. Building that all important reader base. It’s a necessary part of business.

Writing is a business. The author is the proprietor of that business. Products have to be promoted to be a success. It’s as simple as that. Once we realize that, we put ourselves in the right mindset to be a success.
There are no magic wands, treasure maps of shortcuts, or guarantees to be a successful author. Or to being published.

Just a dream and a lot of hard work.
Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Setting the Mood

My guest today is Dana Fredsti, author of MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon. Dana also writes erotica under the nom de plume Inara LaVey. Her latest release is Ripping the Bodice. Dana is a fascinating woman who has worn many professional hats in her career, but today she talks about the contrast of writing before being published and what it's like to write under contract.

When I write, I like to set the stage. Kind of like a woman preparing for what she hopes will be a super romantic date. You know, candles, the right music, the perfect food, and no distractions. Creating an atmosphere conducive to a particular outcome.

When I lived in Glendale (part of Los Angeles, near Griffith Park and the L.A. Zoo), we had a fireplace in the house so on days that were chilly enough (we don't really do 'cold' in the majority of Southern California); I'd build a fire. I confess to using a lot of non-environmentally, unfriendly faux fire logs back in the day. I’d draw the curtains to shut out the noise of the neighborhood (we lived on a busy corner, complete with bus stop and the only roundabout in Glendale), light some candles, and settle in on the couch with my computer and whatever music best suited the mood of my current project. The cats would curl up the couch next to me or in front of the fireplace and I'd write for a couple of hours. It didn't always insure a productive writing session, but it generally helped keep distractions to a minimum. The fact I worked at home doing freelance transcription also helped; I could pick and choose my writing schedule.

Then I moved to San Francisco and I lost the fireplace, but I gained a four-block walk to the beach, a quiet neighborhood and several cats. Easy access for a beach stroll and the lack of shrill, obnoxious teenagers improved the ambiance for writing. The cats? Not so much. Nothing says 'distraction' like a thundering herd of felines racing through the house, using one's lap and laptop as part of the racetrack. And I can light all the candles (and matches) I want, but when you're fostering kittens during the phase of weaning them from kitten kibble to adult food...there aren't enough matches in the world to mask the gaseous warfare that ensues.

Now if I'm working on one of my hard-boiled cozy mysteries, kitty poots can inspire such lines as 'he hung around like a fart in a phone booth.' But when working on erotic romance for Ravenous...not so much inspiration as watching my muse hightail it out of the room with a promise to come back when I've bought her a gas mask.

I also gained a full time job; including a 40-minute commute each way. The necessity of paying bills not yet covered by my writing income has severely cut into my creative schedule. However, over the last year and a half, I've been published three times. One traditionally published mystery novel, and one short story and novel for Ravenous Romance, an erotic romance e-publisher, co-written a non-fiction book about what women really want in bed (sleep!) with my childhood pal Cynthia Gentry and have a contract for seven more books with Ravenous.

I don't have time to create the perfect ambiance for my writing now; I get home from work, toss down some dinner, park in my rocking chair, and fend off felines while working for a couple of hours. Sometimes I work with one or two cats draped on the top of my arms, my hands and laptop keyboard barely visible below the furry bodies.

Weekends are better: I get up and go for a long walk on the beach (Must. Collect. More. BEACH GLASS!), come home and putter for an hour or so, and then settle in around noon to write for most, if not all of the afternoon and evening. Some days I listen to music. Other times I have a movie playing quietly in the background. Something about bad Sci-Fi original movie about giant snakes/dragons/alligators/spiders and zombie movies just fires the creative juices. I think it best not to analyze why this helps me write erotica. Some things are better left to the mystery of the muses, doncha think?

What does this all mean? I'm not entirely sure, but it seems the less time I spend trying to set the perfect mood for my writing, the more time I spend actually doing the work.

And I finally understand what people mean when they say 'writers write.' It still makes me want to smack 'em, mind you.... but at least it makes sense now!
Dana has been involved in the entertainment world for many years as an actress in film and theatre. She has worn the hat of actress, producer, and writer much of that time.

Dana's love of all things feline has involved her in volunteer work with both large exotic cats with Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center, and ongoing urban feline rescue. She has been writer and associate producer of several award winning documentaries on the subject.

Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon. She is at work on the second in the series, Murder for Hire: The Big Snooze. Writing as Inara LaVey, she has a short story, Succubusted, and a novel, Ripping the Bodice, and is currently working on Champagne with Ravenous Romance, a new e-book site focused on erotic romance.

MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon is available through all fine bookstores in the US and Uk, on-line through, and other internet sites. Also available direct from the publisher at

Monday, March 2, 2009

Doggone Writing

My guest today is Lesli Richardson, the author of Trouble Comes in Threes, which was released February 20, 2009 and sold 600 copies the first week.

It’s a quarter till five in the afternoon and the insurrection has begun. Bubbles the bulldog starts “talking” to me in the whining bark that she only uses for dinnertime. To anyone else, it’s merely annoying. To me it screams, “Get your fat ass off the laptop and FEED ME, Mom!”

Of course, when Bubbles starts, that’s the signal for my other five dogs to chime in. (Yes, I have six dogs. No, I don’t want another one. Yes, it’s a lot of dogs. And yes, it’s a long story. Actually, I currently have seven dogs because I’m babysitting one for a good friend of mine.)

I wouldn’t get up from behind the computer if it wasn’t for my dogs and my husband and son. And trips to the coffee pot.


Ahh, the elixir of life.This is my day job. I’m a writer. I knew way back when that I wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a kid. (And my twentieth high school reunion is this year, if that tells you anything.) Yes, I spent a few years writing non-fiction full-time. I let my fiction slip to the side because I didn’t have time to “play” with my writing. I never stopped honing my craft, never stopped learning, and never stopped trying to better my writing and editing skills.

I’m nobody special. I’m a wife and mom and staff to six dogs (and two birds and a cat that shall remain nameless because he’s the spawn of something evil). I have worked my patookie off to get where I am today. Am I making Stephen King money? No. (I wish!)

Am I paying my bills? Thankfully.

What frosts me is sometimes when people hear that some of my books are e-books, they say, “Oh, I thought you wrote real books.”

Um, according to my mortgage company, it’s real money.

I love what I do. I am living my dream—writing fiction full-time. I love that I can take people and drop them into an imaginary world and they willingly come along for the ride. I really love it when I get an email from a reader saying they couldn’t put my book down.

My equivalent of scoring a touchdown and getting to spike the ball is when a reader emails me and says I made them laugh or cry or that they read my book more than once and can’t wait to see what happens next if it’s a series.

I love that.

Not that my dogs could give a hoot. As long as kibble magically appears in their bowls by the appointed hour, they’re happy. Otherwise, the daily insurrection starts.

My dogs don’t care that I’m a writer. It’s humbling. No chance of me getting a swelled head when a black Lab has his nose stuck in my face while another tries to make off with my trackball. I tried to explain to them and negotiate with them that by writing, it allows me to buy them the quality homeopathic kibble that doesn’t contain chemicals, and hence maybe just once the insurrection could happen a little later, at least until this scene is written?

Bubbles and the gang couldn’t care less.

I love that I can wear my Sponge Bob pajamas all day and have a ten-foot commute. I love that I don’t have drive to get to work. I love that I can spend all day long playing with imaginary people and get paid to do it.

I love making people feel the way I feel when my characters come to life in my imagination. It’s a good feeling. Especially in economic times like these, knowing that I’m taking someone’s mind off of the “real world” for a while is really cool. I feel honored that people trust me with their time.

And I’m thankful beyond measure to readers, who are the reason I’m blessed enough to be able to do what I do. I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate that.

My dogs appreciate it too, although they might not say so in quite that way. Now please excuse me while I go rescue my MP3 player from a felonious canine.

Lesli Richardson is a bestselling author writing in several genres as herself and under the name Tymber Dalton. She's a snarky, stubborn native-Floridian Taurus who lives in southwest Florida with her husband, son, and a houseful of neurotic, misfit animals. She currently has over a dozen current and contracted releases, including "Doggy Style," "Love Slave for Two," "The Reluctant Dom," and "Cross Country Chaos." Available on You can find her websites at: and