Tag Archives: book festivals

All Depends on How You Look At It (Marc Vun Kannon)

This is my last blog tour stop before my latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, becomes officially available, and I will be in South Carolina at their Book Festival in Columbia (May 14 – 15, 2011) on that happy day (Sunday, if you must know). And I hope you must, since I’d really like for you guys to be there to help me celebrate the official release of the world’s first Gothic SF novel. I invented the category, so I oughtta know. There are other SF novels written in the Gothic style, but they go the usual route of assimilating all the Gothic stuff into the SF trope of the day (it’s amazing what you can blame on biotech and some nanobots in a low-gravity environment). St. Martin’s Moon isn’t one of them.

I’ve spent literally years trying to figure out how to describe this book. I could do one-liners, what they call taglines. I could do two-liners, the sort of short description you’d find in a TV guide, what they call a logline, but don’t ask me why ‘cause I don’t know. I even came up with a good back-cover description. But anytime I get closer to the plot than that I get tangled in all the strings.

The reason for the confusion, I decided, was in the genre I was using to categorize the damn thing. Why would a mere genre category do that, you ask? How could it? Well, genres are a sort of shorthand, a kind of box we put stories into so that someone looking for a story of a particular type can find one easily. The problem comes when a story doesn’t really fit into any particular type. Then the shorthand becomes something of a straitjacket. One would think a novel with werewolves and ghosts in it would fit neatly into the heading of a paranormal. Since it took place on a lunar colony it clearly was futuristic, right?

Yeah, me too.

While the story does have werewolves in it the story really isn’t about them, it’s about the people who become them. How do they live with the curse? Where does the curse even come from? Why does the Moon matter, and a full Moon, at that? These are all questions that the main character, Joseph Marquand, Earth’s greatest werewolf hunter, would like to know the answers to, because he hates his job. Killing the wolf means killing the man, usually an innocent man. When his latest case involves a werewolf attack on the Moon itself, it drives these questions from his mind in favor of something more immediate, but not far, not far at all.

In short, the story is more futuristic than paranormal, and more SF than merely futuristic. SF looks for answers, takes for granted that there are answers, which gives it something in common with the mystery novel St. Martin’s Moon was originally conceived as. Except that SF doesn’t allow for ghosts. It could handle werewolves, I think, since they have a trigger and are stoppable. Ghosts somehow don’t seem to fit into the same bucket. There’s a reason for this, I think, and I don’t think science will ultimately be able to account for ghosts any more than they’ll make a truly AI computer. So SF is fair game, in my opinion, to have a few genuine ghosts appear in its otherwise unhaunted halls. If I could have worked in a dark and stormy night I would have, but hey, it’s a lunar colony we’re talking about here. A haunted one.

Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don’t ask me why. Others followed, until now I’m afraid to go out of the house with a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!

You can also check out his really cool Blog

Other things to read by Marc Vun Kannon:

Unbinding the Stone
A Warrior Made
Ex Libris
Steampunk Santa
Bite Deep
Chasing his own Tale

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My Thoughts on Promotion Today (Guest Blogger)

We are experiencing a time of great changes in the publishing industry. Having been e-pubbed since before there was anything but a computer to read an e-book on, and then being the proud of owner of a Rocket eBook with a couple of other readers after that and now a Kindle, it’s exciting to see the way e-books have gained popularity—finally.

The publishers I’m with do both e-books and print and in the past I’ve done better with the print books but I’m seeing the e-books gaining.

My marketing strategy has always been a combination of online promotion and in-person events. I’ve attended as many as four mystery or writing conventions or conferences in a year with all the expense that entails—airfare, hotel room, meals. In the past, I did some bookstore signings in places where I didn’t have to travel too far. Over the years those have become less and less successful. I like to do craft and book festivals and with these you never know, but for me they are always more successful than a straight book signing. Library events are usually good if I have a topic that will interest a lot of readers.

For online promotion, of course I do Facebook and Twitter, both fun and a good way to promote other online things you’re doing like blog tours and special sales—and you can promote the in-person events as well. I’m on a number of lists as well. For each new book I do a blog tour.

Now, that brings me to what my future plans will be.

For this year, I was signed up for a mystery conference that was cancelled; costing me a lot as far as my non-returnable airline tickets was concerned. I’ve spoken at the annual meeting of a local historical society (fun and sold books), I gave a presentation at two different chapters of the California Writers Club, and I have a book launch planned at a nearby used bookstore. (I’ve done four at this bookstore and they’ve been quite successful.)

My schedule from now on is full.

I’m a guest speaker for a Reading Club, on a Sisters in Crime panel being held in a city about 3 hours away, I’m speaking at a college about 4 hours away, heading to a Las Vegas Sisters in Crime meeting as the guest speaker, where I’ll be staying with my sister, appearing with two other authors at another library.

This summer I’m combining a vacation with my daughter and husband to go to Sedona where I’ve arranged for a library talk with another author as well as a bookstore presentation. I also am giving a talk at a bookstore in a mountain community where I take my own books for sale with a better discount than most bookstores give. This is a great independent and I’ve made friends with many of the locals who have also become fans of my books.

A big event for me is the Public Safety Writers Conference in Las Vegas http://www.policewriter.com because not only am I the program chair, but I’ve made friends with lots of folks in law enforcement who are a great resource. This conference is open to anyone.

I am going to Killer Nashville this year mainly so I don’t lose all of the money from the airline ticket I bought for the cancelled conference. I do have friends who are going to that one too.

Click for More Photos of Marilyn

In September I’m going to be a presenter for the Central Coast Writers Conference. I no longer go to a writer’s conference unless I can be a speaker. I enjoy helping new writers. On Sunday after the conference is the annual Central Coast Book Festival and I’ve had a booth there for several years and of course I’ll be doing it again this year.

In October I’ll have a booth for two days at the Springville Apple Festival which is in the town I live in. This is a great event where I always sell lot of book. At the end of the month I’ll be starting on the Mystery Cruise to Mexico. This is also a writers’ conference. First time, so I have no idea how it will turn out—but cruises are great.

In December, I’ll have a table with my books in an Art Gallery along with the artist’s Christmas boutique. I’ve done this every year and each year it gets better.

As the year progresses, I’ve made some decisions about what I will do next year. Of course I’ll continue on with all the online promotion. I’ll read all my lists closely, especially Murder Must Advertise for new ideas. But I’ve decided that from now I’ll only go to conventions that are easy to get to which means Left Coast Crime in Sacramento will be my choice for 2012. Oh, I’ll still go to the PSWA conference because it’s in a place I can drive to—and being able to drive somewhere easily will be a decision maker as to where I’ll go.

I’d like to know what your plans include—and I hope that something I’ve mentioned may have give you some ideas for promotion you haven’t tried yet.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F.M. Meredith
http://fictionforyou.com
Twitter: @MarilynMeredith
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith
Marilyn’s Musings Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Selling Books the Old Fashioned Way

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A few minutes ago, I read a tweet from one of my authors, Gale Borger, that asked, “Where will authors sell books with so few indy stores willing to do author events and chains closing?” [Twitter: @galeinwisconsin]

This is something I have been working on for quite a few years, but now I am seeing others starting to get worried about it. We started Echelon Press ten years ago and from the beginning, we have been attending conferences, conventions, and books festivals. Why? Because, silly, that’s where the readers are.

“No, no,” you argue, “readers are at bookstores.

“No, not exactly. Consumers are at bookstores. They buy books. They also buy pens, journals, lap desks, games, music, and all kinds of other things that bookstores have included in their inventory.”

You’re shaking your head now, right? “But those are readers.”

“Not exaclty, but kinda. They are people who read. Oh sure, that is a pretty generalized statement, but I think that most of those people (not all) could do without books.”

“What do you mean?”

“My experience is that most people these days who go into bookstores are looking for something specific. A friend told them the latest Patterson is out, or there is a new diet book that is better than the Atkins Diet.” Okay, again, generalizing, but bear with me.

Lots of people read, but don’t you think that those who are real readers are much more organized and deliberate about their book habits? Readers keep track of their favorite authors, they log the books and the series they read, and they will read anything, including the shampoo bottles in the bathroom. How many diehard readers, can name more than a few ingredients off the back of the Lysol can? Seriously.

Those people are readers, and they will go where the books are and where the authors are. That is one of the reasons Echelon has always participated in as many book festivals as we can. Readers go to festivals and conventions. They crave books and they will spend their last dollar on a book and make the cat eat leftover meatloaf with everyone else.

Bookstores are great, but there is a lot of panic in society right now about where readers will be able to get books if the bookstores all go away.

First of all, the bookstores are not all going away. Some are going, others are coming. There will always be fluxuation. My suggestion to you readers, and especially to you authors who are seeing less and less opportunities to meet and interact with your readers in proper bookstores, is to check out the book festivals and reader conventions in your area. These are such awesome places to find books of all kinds and to meet new and upcoming authors. If you’re lucky you may even find a few of your best selling favorites.

If you’d like to meet some really cool authors, you might want to look into attending the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, SC. May 14-15, 2011. In my Opinion, this is the best book festival in the south.

Even better than that is the jewel in the Midwest festival crown. Printers Row Lit Fest. in Chicago, IL June 2-3, 2011. This festival is blocks and blocks of books and authors and so much fun it should be illegal. This festival has been a favorite of Echelon’s since we discovered it in 2002. We never miss it.

Hopefully you readers out there will stop by and visit the Echelon authors when you see us at the festivals and conventions. We LOVE meeting readers and trying to convert you into our fans. At Echelon we believe the best way to reach readers is go where they can find us!

Decatur Book Festival Rocks

Well, it’s been a while I since I actually wrote a Blog post, so I thought this would be a good time to catch up. I won’t go into a lot of past stuff. Instead, I will start with this past weekend.

I drove down to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival. For the fourth year I was fortunate enough to stay at Mary Cunningham’s house. Mary is the author of the acclaimed Cynthia’s Attic middle grade fantasy series. Staying at Mary’s house is like staying at one of the greatest B&B’s in the world. The house is lovely, the amenities are to die for, Mary makes the most awesome pasta salad, and her husband grills the most fabulous and awesome steaks ever anywhere in the world.

On Thursday Mary took me to her local writers’ group for an author event. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation from M.L. Malcolm, author of HEART OF LIES at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center (a LOVELY facility!) It was a really neat experience. Later that evening, the group went to dinner together at this lovely little restaurant called Little Hawaiian in downtown Carrollton. This was one of the BEST restaurants I have been to in a really long time. Tempura Shrimp with the own sauce and I had to stop myself from licking the little cup. For my main course I had the Hawaiian Noodle Bowl and I just cannot find words to describe it. WOW!!! Did I mention the bread and dipping sauce…sigh!

So brand new debut author Gale Borger from Wisconsin flew in for the festival and stayed at Mary’s house as well. We had such a great time. Gale’s first book, a humorous mystery called TOTALLY BUZZED is just great. She did such an awesome job selling to the adoring potential fans who visited our booth. I actually think she might be a natural.

Saturday at the festival Nick Valentino joined us. He was actually in town for DragonCon in Atlanta, but couldn’t resist seeing me. LOL I really was quite exhausted from having to sell Nick’s book (THOMAS RILEY). It almost got monotonous (just kidding—Nick is a sales dynamo and he has become somewhat of a rock star.) So, we are all standing around with almost nothing to do when romance author Betty Hudson comes flitting (she is just too darn cute) into our booth with a copy of her latest romance SLEEPING BOOTY in her hand. She was tickled to bits as she explains that after meeting Nick at the South Carolina Book Festival she was so taken that she simply HAD to write Nick and his book into her contemporary pirate novel. It was such a cool thing to watch as Nick reacted t her news.

And as if that wasn’t enough to keep Nick’s feet five feet off the ground, another gal strolls into the booth and asks Nick to sign her Kindle…right beneath her autograph from Charlaine Harris. You can actually find the video on Nick’s Blog.

So with all of the great things happening, you have to figure that there would be some not so good. The incidents were few, but pretty major for me.

First, let me thank the young teen boy who caught me and prevented me from cracking my head open as I fell down three marble steps when some old guy’s dog ran under my foot as I was stepping up. Here’s a hand gesture for the old guy who then turned around and snapped, “Ex-scuse me!” and stomped off like I had done something to him. JERK!

So then on Sunday I am walking back to the booth after visiting the local bookstores, The Little Shop of Stories, and I pass by this pub with tables outside. There are five guys (four White and one Mexican-I find this relevant) sitting there and one of the White guys says, and I quote, “Maybe if we could get all the niggers and Muslims together in that mosque at ground zero we could just blow it up and get rid of them all at once.”

To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. I just stopped, turned to them and said, “REALLY? Welcome to fucking American, you moron!” Come on people, do you really need to talk like that in public? If you want to be stupid, do it in your own space and don’t infect the rest of us your stupidity!!

So, as Sunday came close to an end, I was sitting in the booth ringing up a credit card sale and Sam Morton (author of the YA novel BETRAYED) walks up, stops, and with a serious look on his face he says, “You know, when you get in the bathroom and have to go really bad is NOT the time to discover you have your underwear on backwards.” I laughed so hard I snorted, like four or five times. I honestly didn’t think I could stop laughing. And bless his heart, his day didn’t get any better. He texted me later to tell me he had made it 50 miles out of Decatur , headed home, and he had a blow out and had been waiting for the repair truck for over an hour, and guess what…he had to pee. But he was confident that as soon as he dug his thingy out of his backward drawers the truck would arrive with spotlight glaring and lights flashing.

I think, though, that I can say that the very best part of the entire trip was watching my authors sell several hundred books to eager readers, readers of all ages. I have the most super duper authors in the world.

I want to thank the authors who attended for all their support and hard work.

Diana Black (WOOF: Women Only Over 50)

Gale Borger (Totally Buzzed)

Mary Cunningham (The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, The Magician’s Castle and WOOF: Women Only Over 50)

Sam Morton (DisaVowed, Betrayed)

Nick Valentino (Thomas Riley)

A Publisher’s Rant

BUY Thomas Riley at Amazon

Okay, I have to go on record with this one. We spent the day ( a very successful day) at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, SC.

For the entire day we had a steady stream of customers in our booth. There was not a time at any point during the day that we were not selling a book. It was tremendous. Or as our cute little waitress at Longhorn said, it was “grand.”

So what could possibly be wrong with this? Well, it’s other writers. I would like to point out a few simple guidelines or ettiquette rules to consider if you are a writer heading out to an event.

1. If you are an aspiring author and you want to meet with a publisher, contact them prior to the event and set an appointment. If a publisher is at an event they are probably there to sell books. When you walk up unannounced and go into your whole sales pitch for your book it is distracting and honestly it is very rude for those who are there to shop or who have made appointments.

At Echelon we do work on a referral system and we do tell you to meet us at events and we mean it, but there is a proper way to do it. Put together a very small packet, honestly I am good with a business card with contact info and a one or two line brief about your story. Drop it off and move on. If a publishing rep or author is trying to tansact business GO AWAY. Do not stand their and contiue talking. Chances ar they won’t be rude to you, but don’t make them tell you to go away.

BUY Betrayed at Amazon.com

2. If you are a writer and you have a friend who is being featured at an event or a book signing, do NOT monopolize that author’s time. When an author goes to an event they have probably paid to be there and their main goal is to sell books. If you stand at the front of the booth constantly talking to the author who is trying to sell books you are inhibiting their ability to effectively sell books and give the readers and actual customers the attention they deserve. If you DO stop to talk and feel the need to chat, at least make it worth the author’s while and BUY THEIR BOOK!

This has become a major peeve of mine and I see it almost every event I go to. If you have no intention of buying a book, MOVE ON and give the real customers some room. If you want to chat with an old friend, call them on the phone or take them to lunch. Don’t rob them of the opportunity to increase their sales and recoup the money they have invested to be at an event.

3. Support your fellow authors. You know what it is like. If you have books to sell, you know how valuable time is. If you want someone to buy your book you have got to be willing to buy their book. Don’t make excuses. Either buy it, or move on. Period

4. Finally. When you go to visit a friend at an event, book signing, festival, whatever, DO NOT slip your promo material onto their table. If you did not pay for that space, it is NOT your space to promote in. At almost EVERY event I go to I throw away dozens of pieces of material that authors who have come to see a friend or even authors who have come to give me submission materials have left behind with hopes that they can get some free promo exposure.

I’m telling you, if you tell me you want to submit and then infiltrate the space paid for by or for my authors, to try and promote your other works,  I will NOT publish you. I will also not like you.

These are just common sense, and yet more times than not this is what happens. Please be courteous to the rights and opportunities of your friends and fellow authors.

Okay, I am done. I apologize for this rant, but after today, I really felt this needed to be said. Want to buy books? Come and see us. Want to look at our books and see if maybe you might be interestd in something, come on over. Want to chat and catch up with someone you have not called in a year. Do it on Monday after the event.

I love to meet authors, but not at the expense of sales and my authors’ rights.

Karen Syed…wearing her publisher hat…