Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Conference Checklist

Bouchercon is this weekend, in Chicago.

Every conference, I make out a checklist of what I need to bring. Since I always bring the same stuff, it would make sense to have a permanent list rather than make up a new list every time.

I also thought it might be helpful for newbie writers who have never been to a conference to have an idea of what to bring. So here it is:

200 website business cards (have my book covers and URL on them)
30 address business cards (with my phone number on them)
100 flyers for goody table (or in my case, coasters)
10 extra copies of Whiskey Sour and Bloody Mary (in case the dealers run out, or I need to give someone a free copy)
Scotch (a good single malt kept in the room helps you make new friends)
Beer (I normally don't travel with beer, but this is in Chicago, so bringing a case is a smart idea and will save $$$)
Schedule (where I need to be and when)
Hotel information, including reservation number
Extra pens
Whiskey Sour mix and Dixie cups for ITW table.
Gifts for booksellers (I give them a signed airline bottle of Jack Daniels)
Cell phone and charger

Plus the usual clothes and sundries. My B'Con schedule is as such:

Friday 9:00am panel--Authors Duke It Out: What's the Difference Between A Mystery and A Thriller? (T) Moderator:Joe Konrath panelists: Jon Guenther, Christopher Rice, James Rollins, Penny Rudolph.

Friday 11:45 Backspace lunch, meet in hotel lobby.

Friday 5:00pm-6:00pm-- The Macavity Awards are given by Mystery Readers International for excellence in the mystery field in the categories of: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Short Story and Non-fiction. Janet A. Rudolph, Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal will present the awards. I'm up for best First.

Friday 10pm-11pm-- I'm MC for the Bouchercon LIVE Charity Auction - (In-Hotel) - Come early, bring money, and bid often. It's for a good cause. All funds raised by the Bouchercon charity auction will be given to Centro Romero, a not-for-profit Hispanic organization about 20 years old. They have 4 divisions, one of which is the Youth Program. The Youth Program runs literacy tutoring for about 30 kids right now, and has a waiting list of 80. They tutor reading and math during the school year, and reading and writing during the summer months. A cash bar will be provided.

Saturday - ITW Booth 3:00 - 5:00 pm. I'll be giving away Whiskey Sour drinks.

Saturday 7:30PM to 10:00PM (reception 6:30PM) - Anthony Awards Banquet - This year, the banquet will be held away from the convention hotel at the Mid-America Club, located on the 80th floor of the Aon Center Building at 200 East Randolph Drive. I'm up for best first novel, and Whiskey Sour is also up for Best Cover Art.

As you can see, nowhere have I listed "Winning Acceptance Speech" as something I must bring. The reason is simple: I'm not going to win anything. It's an honor being nominated, and I'll be genuinely happy for whoever does win.

Besides my schedule, I have a threefold agenda for this conference:

1. Root out the secret parties and get myself invited to them.
2. Meet as many new folks as possible. That's why I go to these things. Touching base with old friends is great, but if I want to broaden my fanbase, I have to seek out new faces.
3. Talk shop. There are several authors I'd like to corner and pick their brains.

Looking forward to it. Should be fun.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Trekking the Amazon

How do Amazon rankings work? What do they mean? How does ranking correlate to actual sales?

A pretty good explanation can be found at

That's all fine and dandy, but is it correct? How many books does it take to make your ranking soar? How many in one day? How many per hour?

I decided to try and find out.

On Thursday, August 25, at 9:22am, my Amazon ranking for Bloody Mary was 76,534.

This is a record of the next 24 hours:

August 25, 9:22am - Rank 76,534 - Ordered 2 copies of Bloody Mary.

9:49am - Rank 79,435

11:00am - Rank 79,435

2:24pm - Rank 24,411 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

3:21pm - Rank 28,418

4:49pm - Rank 18,953 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

6:38pm - Rank 22,103

7:18pm - Rank 25,418

8:00pm - Rank 17,993

9:40pm - Rank 20,142 - Ordered 2 more copies of Bloody Mary.

12:03am - Rank 27,590

12:30am - Rank 19,020

9:20am - Rank 26,011

Conclusions - Got me. I have no idea what this means. Sell two books every 3 hours and hover around 20,000? Sell eight books in a day and hover around 20,000?

I called Ingram (615-213-6803), which supplies Amazon, and so far this year they've distributed 816 Bloody Mary's. I don't know what percentage of these are through Amazon.

But then I'll look at the numbers of another thriller author who released a handcover at the same time as mine---about 8 weeks ago. Her Amazon rank averages between 3000 and 8000, and she's also been in the hundreds. A call to Ingram shows she's sold 1090 copies this year.

That means I've sold about 102 copies a week, while she's sold 136 copies a week, or 19 a day to my 14 a day.

All of those ARE NOT through Amazon.

Maybe we can say she's selling 10 a day through Amazon, which is keeping her in the 6000 range. I'm selling 7 a day, which is keeping me at 25,000.

Or maybe not.

I checked my friend's recent paperback rank: 25,646. My recent paperback rank is 212,332. But a call to Ingram tells me she has sold 786 this year, and I've sold 979. Huh?

So all in all, this stupid experiment has taught me nothing. Other than: don't worry about Amazon rankings.

Live and learn.

Anyone want to buy eight signed copies of Bloody Mary?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

David Morrell Part Deux: The Publicist Speaks

In the previous blog entry (an interview with David Morrell), David commented on the state of the publishing industry, talked about his new book, CREEPERS (buy it right now, it's amazing,) and had some interesting things to say about book marketing and publicity.

I also tapped his publicist, Sarie Morrell-Sanchez, for her insights into the new way books are promoted.

JA: How has publicizing authors changed in the last fifteen years?

SARIE: I started my career as a publicist for Random House in 1989 and worked in both the New York and West Coast offices - a time when publishing and publicity were on the cusp of major changes. The internet did not exist: the typical publicity campaign involved print, radio and television interviews. Author tours were not uncommon. Lavish launch parties were staged. Campaigns usually started a few months in advance. Only a few ARCs were printed (at most 100-200). Press kits were very simple, just a press release and pitch letter.

In the media, advertising campaigns were becoming quite innovative. One day a phone call came in to the publicity offices from GAP. The company was creating a revolutionary ad campaign (a version of which they use today) which would highlight “hot” upcoming people from every industry (music, literature, etc.) in their print ads. They asked to use one of our authors; it was up to our department to figure out whom. The author selected was not chosen because of his literary skills (he had only published one book at that point, with moderate success) but because he had the “look” - young, good looking, edgy. I clearly remember thinking that this would be the wave of the future, that books would be promoted more because of the author’s platform than the merit of the work.

Today, publicity is entirely different. Major changes in publishing over the last ten years mean that authors at every level can not rely solely on the support of their publisher for book promotion. Because I am the daughter of best-selling author David Morrell, I have the unique opportunity to see firsthand how this affects writers, both from my father’s standpoint and my personal viewpoint as a publicist, as well as authors I work with through my own company.

Authors sign contracts with the expectation that their publisher will promote the heck out of their book in an effort to increase sales and make the bestseller list. This is not the case, for a variety of reasons beyond anyone’s control - including the publishers’.

On the flip side of this, promoting a book has become very elaborate. It takes much more nowadays than a press release and a pitch letter to get noticed. My advice is that authors should expect to do a large portion of their own publicity. Ask questions. Find out exactly what the publisher plans to do and create a marketing and promotional plan of your own. Even if you feel satisfied with what they are doing, there is always more that can be done - for either a lot of money or virtually nothing. Whether you decide to hire someone to help you with this or not, an author should expect to invest a significant amount of their own time prior to and after publication date to promote their book.

JA: As a publicist, what things do you focus on? What are your goals?

SARIE: My campaigns begin months in advance of publication, covering a spectrum of print, radio, internet and television (although this increasingly is the hardest to get).

I feel it is very important to increase an author’s relationship with bookstores and book buyers. Bookstores receive dozens of catalogs featuring hundreds of titles. How can I get them to notice this book? If they stock it, how can I get them to feature it prominently and not bury it in the back? If it isn’t by an established author, how can I get them to commit to stocking an unknown? I never assume that booksellers have the time or means to keep track of upcoming titles, the choices are overwhelming to them. Every author, whether established or up-and-coming, needs to make the effort to connect with booksellers.

I also have a background in public relations, marketing and advertising, which provides me another perspective. While it is not a pleasant thought, we have to remind ourselves that books, in addition to being an important art form, are also a commodity. For publishers and bookstores, shelf space is valuable real estate. A publicist in many ways is also a sales rep. I have to sell the stores on both an idea and a tangible object.

The second challenge is to get readers to buy the book. I want the book talked about or featured in as many places as possible, through every medium (print, broadcast and internet, as well as non-traditional promotions). A fan can’t buy a book if they don’t know it exists. An author can’t attract new readers, or readers from one genre to another, if I don’t find a way to tell them about the author and interest them in the book. This applies to every author, even those with a large fan base and a web site. I constantly look to find new ways to attract readers.

Authors shouldn’t assume, for example, that because they’ve traditionally written mysteries that their fans/readers won’t be interest in reading their latest novel in another genre. I try to find topics within the book that are interesting or newsworthy. I target relevant media/groups. And above all, I network.

JA: Your publicity campaign for CREEPERS is unique. Can you tell us a little about some of the things you’re doing?

SARIE: When I began planning the marketing and publicity campaign for CREEPERS in early 2005, my first priority was to ask myself where this book fit into the literary “landscape”. CREEPERS didn’t fit neatly into any one category: it is a “cross-genre” book. This was a major influence in my publicity/marketing campaign and opened up a lot of possibilities. My father and I have worked closely with the publisher to create a vision for CREEPERS. It has proven to be a very productive and unique relationship, under the leadership of Elizabeth Whiting at CDS Books. She is virtually unflappable and has brought in a level of enthusiasm, energy and support to CREEPERS which is not typical in modern publishing. Dad and I have had input at every level, including cover art.

I felt it important to create a stand-out comprehensive press kit, which proved to be a great tool for the CDS sales force. Dad and I have had a lot of fun developing the campaign, I’ve been able to bring into play nearly every marketing idea we’ve come up with. I’ve worked with web sites and book stores to create various CREEPERS contests and developed giveaway items including a survival kit containing a keychain LED flashlight and first-aid kit, both of which are emblazoned with CREEPERS.

Early on I marketed to bookstores and began researching national media and planning the tour. (I have more than 30 events scheduled nationwide as well as media,) Nanci Kalanta (who runs a fantastic site called Horror World) has been a fan of my father’s work for years. When they met at World Horror this past April, Dad asked Nanci if she wanted to help with the internet campaign. She has volunteered a great deal of time and talent to assist us with CREEPERS. My goal for the publicity campaign has been to create an early “buzz” to culminate with publication date (and beyond).

JA: What is viral marketing and how does it work?

SARIE: Viral marketing works much like it sounds – it involves the spread of information on the internet (though this could easily apply to traditional forms of publicity as well). The idea is to target a group or audience to whom you want to market then find key sites which serve as “hosts”. Once you gain visibility on the central sites, the information will spread from one place to other. The more people see/hear about your book, the more opportunities there are to gain readership.

If you are an author with a book coming out soon, try this experiment. Search yourself out. Look for your title. Pretend you don’t know anything about yourself or the book. Wherever your book or your name doesn’t appear where it should (for example mystery sites if you are a mystery writer) that is where you need to target. At the beginning of the CREEPERS campaign virtually nothing about the book was on the internet, now there are hundreds of hits under searches.

JA: How much is David involved with his publicity?

SARIE: He is heavily involved with his publicity on every level, from brainstorming, planning - all the way up to doing interviews and events. These days an author’s job doesn’t end when the book is finished. An author can spend nearly as much time promoting a book as it takes to write, if you factor in that publicity campaigns begin 4-6 months before publication date, even earlier if you consider the marketing planning. Book publicity is a team effort between author and publicist.

JA: Any predictions for the future of publicity?

SARIE: Place yourself in the shoes of the publisher. While it is romantic to think that publishers view a novel as art, to them the bottom line is will this book sell. Why should they invest in your novel? An author has to sell the book on its marketability even before it is published – publishers want to know how the book can be sold well before the deal is inked.

Traditional publicity venues are becoming more challenging, especially for fiction authors. It is harder than ever for an author to get promoted in print, radio and television, unless he or she has a “platform” (young, female, controversial, cutting-edge or newsworthy). This is something even highly successful authors are noticing. The trick is to find non-traditional methods of promotion. Publicity doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Time can be an author’s most valuable investment.

(Sarie mentioned Nanci Kalanta at Horror World, who is assisting with the internet campaign. I hit her up with some questions.)

JA: What are the secrets to a successful author website?

NANCI: The same model holds true for all websites: easy to navigate, updated content, interactivity. It is extremely important that your site is "clean". You don't want to clutter it up with lots of banners or advertising - the real content will get lost if there is too much going on on your page.

Your links should be easy to find, your content should be updated, at a minimum, once a month.

A message board is a great feature to have since it allows you to interact with your readers but doesn't tie you up answering individual emails -- taking you away from what's most important: writing stories. One of our most popular authors, Jack Ketchum, only spends about an hour a week with his message board. He answers all inquiries every Saturday and has consistently been one of our Top Ten boards. The fact that he does visit once a week keeps his readers coming back even when he's between books.

JA: How do you draw people to your site? What kind of publicity do you use?

NANCI: Horror World has a long history. I'm actually a "new" owner. I took over Horror World 2 years ago and moved it from a free hosted site (with advertising) to its own web address. Horror World came with its own goodwill and I built on that. New content is what brings people back from month to month. I offer a new original fiction story, new columns (by Author Matthew Warner), new reviews and a new author interview every month.

The real draw has always been the Message Boards but I'm seeing more and more activity with the content. I've taken out ads in the genre newsletters like Cemetery Dance and Black October and, when I do my updates, I send out a press release to the genre community.

I also try to hit all the major conventions - World Horror, NECon, and Horrorfind.

The authors who place stories with me advertise in their newsletters which brings new people to the site.

JA: Can we talk numbers? How many unique hits does Horror World average weekly? Is it a business, or non-profit? Where does the money come from to keep it going?

NANCI: Our daily hits have gone from an average of 150 a day (November '04) to an average of 412 per day (July '05) . We started out with 200,000 hits the first month at our new address and are looking at close to 500,000 hits this month. The site is a labor of love (read: money pit ).

I have sponsors from the specialty press like Necessary Evil, Delirium Books and Earthling Publications - these guys produce some of the finest signed/limited and lettered books out there. Leisure Press (subsidiary of Dorchester Publishing) also helps sponsor part of the site.

Since this is my first year out, I'll wind up in the red but as the site gains more popularity, I'm hoping to break even.

JA: How can dark fiction authors use Horror World for their campaigns?

NANCI: We could showcase an author with an interview, book review, and design an appropriate contest and advertise it in all the 'right places' based on the book's demographics. We can also fix the author up with a message board to interact with their readers.

JA: How did Horror World get involved with David Morrell and the CREEPERS campaign?

NANCI: I was introduced to David by one of his students (Matthew Warner) in the Writer's Bootcamp he did for Borderlands Books. I had been speaking to Matt about getting a few A list authors for the second year of Horror World and he suggested David Morrell. I told him that I thought he was nuts, that David Morrell wouldn't consider doing a story for an on-line 'zine.

Well, Matt approached him and I received an email from David in January. We corresponded back and forth and met face to face at World Horror. We discussed virtual marketing and I offered to help him out. I was a huge fan of his work (and still am) and jumped at the chance to work with him and Sarie. His stories, as it turned out, would be too long for the site -- but having the CREEPERS campaign more than makes up for that.

JA: Explain the CREEPERS GAME.

NANCI: After reading the story I realized that we could create a simple, low resolution game based on the storyline. I don't want to give too much away but the Creepers needed to infiltrate the Paragon Hotel and to avoid the pitfalls that one might experience when entering an old abandoned building. I contacted author Brian Knight to help build the game - I kept it low resolution so that dial-up users wouldn't be frustrated by long loading times. I think he did a great job.... have you played it yet?

JA: I have played it---it reminded me of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from my youth. It's also an inexpensive way to promote a book online, while being different and fun. And anyone with a basic understand of websites and HTML could make one---no Flash or Java required.

Thanks to David, Sarie, and Nanci for taking time to expalin this unique and novel approach to book marketing.

Haven't bought CREEPERS yet? What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

David Morrell on Book Marketing and Publicity

I've been a fan of David Morrell since I was a kid. His new novel, CREEPERS, is his best. That's saying a lot, considering his body of work.

Though David has been in this business for over thirty years, he's continuing to adapt and evolve when it comes to publicity. He graciously answers a few of my newbie questions, offering his thoughts on the future of publishing and marketing.

It's an eye-opener. Get ready to take notes.

JA: I love CREEPERS. I've rarely read anything that moves faster, but you don't sacrifice characterization, backstory, or setting, even though the prose is much sparer than in previous novels. Did you deliberately set out to write this in a different style?

DAVID: I've written books with an alternating A-B A-B structure or a spiral structure or a plot on top of another as in a photographic double exposure. It all depends on the subject matter.

In CREEPERS, I was delighted by the idea of accounting for every instant of the eight hours in which the story takes place as the five investigate the long-abandoned Paragon Hotel. The plot unfolds in what's called real time, so much so that the Brilliance unabridged audio lasts eight hours, the length of time the action would take if it happened in reality. There aren't any summaries of movement , and there aren't any leaps forward as in "Five minutes later, he reached the second floor." Every moment is on the page.

This approach (I can't recall another novel that uses it) required a kind of documentary style. Each sentence is deliberately straight-forward, and they all proceed in a linear one-step-after-another fashion. They're like the clang, clang, clang of flapping sheet metal that is heard throughout the novel, building momentum.

JA: You've been in this business since the Gospels were written... how do you feel about your new campaign and the new approach to publicity? How much has it changed since you started in this business (if you can remember back that far)?

DAVID: Two big changes happened in the 1990s. First, the warehouse system (in which paperbacks were distributed) collapsed. Second, mega-corporations began buying publishing companies with the result that perhaps as many as 25 publishers were reduced to what eventually became called "the six sisters." Six huge umbrella corporations within which the former independent publishers now exist as imprints. Then the six became five. Obviously this limits the opportunities an author has to sell a book.

In the present decade, a further major change occurred. These huge publishing companies began to structure themselves as if they were selling cornflakes. Formerly, the editorial board had the power. When a book was accepted for publication, an editor would ask the marketing and publicity department how to promote it. But now, in stark contrast, manuscripts go to the marketing department first. If an author doesn't have a strong sales history or if a beginning author doesn't have a dynamite subject or what's called a platform (are you young, good-looking, an investigative journalist, and preferably female)--in short, can they get you on the morning talk shows and on Oprah--you don't have much of a chance.

I mention that it's an advantage to be female because the morning TV shows consciously make their interview selections based on the knowledge that, except for the first half-hour, the majority of their audience is female. To be specific, the average TODAY SHOW viewer is a 54 year old woman with a $45,000 a year income and teenagers living at home. Books have now become about demographics, and the marketing department makes its recommendations on that basis.

Further, the marketers go to Borders or Barnes & Noble and ask the executives how many copies of a particular book those chains would buy if the publisher were to bring out the book. If the number isn't high, the book might not get published. There are a few exceptions in which an editor falls in love with a book and says to hell with the marketers. But that's a rarity.

Obviously, this is not good news for most authors. We are in a position in which we must change or fail. In another answer, I'll talk about one way that I changed my approach. But for now, I want to point out that one of the few good results of what I just described is that smaller publishers once considered marginal (like Poisoned Pen Press or Uglytown Press) are now assuming importance. They don't pay big advances, but they publish books that deserve to be read. They are a way to stay in print and to build a new sales history.

JA: What is it about CREEPERS that makes it stand out from the 50,000 other novels published every year?

DAVID: Although I've had numerous bestsellers, I don't take anything for granted. With CREEPERS, I decided to try something new and pretend that my name wasn't on the manuscript. I wasn't going to count on my previous bestsellers, etc. I wanted the book to have a background that readers would find interesting, a topic that they would be curious about, with just a few words of explanation. This might sound obvious, but actually, it's something that is often ignored. I'm not talking about high concept, which I loath. Rather, I'm talking about the heart of the book. What is its central subject? Why should people care?

A couple of years ago, I read a newspaper article about an underground movement known as urban explorers. These are history and architecture enthusiasts who infiltrate buildings that have been sealed and abandoned for decades. They want to immerse themselves in the past. One of their nicknames (which they dislike) is creepers. I jumped on this. Who doesn't want to explore old abandoned buildings? Who would have known it was a subculture or that it was popular around the world or that hundreds of thousands of contacts are on Google and Yahoo?

When I was a literature professor at the University of Iowa, I taught a course in literary archetypes based on the theories of Freud, Jung, and Joseph Campbell. The idea is that certain situations are inherently interesting because something about them is hardwired into our brain. I recognized urban exploration as one of those archetypes. The subject grabbed me and compelled me to write the novel.

JA: Are you planning on exploring the world of urban exploration again in a future work?

DAVID: I tend not to repeat myself. Partly, this is because it usually takes me a year (at least) to write a novel, and I don't want to spend it boring myself by doing the same thing repeatedly. Also, I think authors need to be careful about going back to the same well again and again.

JA: I've heard you describe working with your publisher, CDS, as a partnership rather than the standard employer/employee relationship. Why? Is this the direction publishing is heading?

Unless an author is the latest new flavor, the odds of getting a good publicity effort from a publisher are slim. I became so frustrated with the half-hearted marketing efforts I was getting that I decided to take charge.

First, I changed paradigms and went to the largest book distributor in the United States, CDS Books. Their main business is getting books into stores. But they also have a small publishing division, about a dozen books a year. Because they don't publish many books, they pay attention to each of them. They told me that their policy was to treat authors as partners (what a new concept). They asked me how I wanted to proceed. I answered, "My daughter, Sarie, who used to be a publicist for Random House will handle all the publicity." CDS readily agreed.

Sarie and I then went to Nanci Kalanta, who runs Horror World on the internet. Nanci is a brilliant internet marketer, who agreed to use all her skills to help us. I can't emphasize enough how important internet publicity is. In Nanci's case, the horror connection is important because CREEPERS is a mixed genre novel: thriller and horror. I think that's one reason the book creates tension. There's nothing supernatural in CREEPERS, but the tone suggests that there is. Readers don't have the anchor of any one genre's conventions, so they're not able to anticipate where the story will go.

In any case, we experimented with every marketing idea we'd ever thought of. It was great fun. For example, Nanci asked novelist Brian Knight to design a CREEPERS maze game for her website The viewer goes down hotel corridors and makes choices that lead to disaster or else to the chance to win prizes, such as a signed CREEPERS advanced reader's copy, a signed Brilliance CREEPERS audio, or an MP-3 player (also from Brilliance).

As another example, my daughter thought it would be a great idea to have a CREEPERS survival kit for give-aways. I did the research and, through,/ was able to acquire affordable CREEPERS key-chain flashlights attached to CREEPERS first-aid kits that included band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and cough drops. These were immensely helpful in attracting attention and good will, especially with book stores.

Then CDS Books decided to do a one-minute animated presentation of the book (what's called a vidlit) that you can see at Make sure you turn on your computer's sound.

But not every publisher is as cooperative as CDS. We can't take anything for granted. All authors must become more involved in publicity.

Recently I had a conversation with a very best-selling writer whose sales are starting to slip. He asked me what he could do to turn things around. I told him the marketing experiments I was having fun with. His answer was, "I'm a writer. I don't want to be involved in that stuff." It's my belief that he'll regret his refusal.

Last October, I co-founded (with Gayle Lynds) the International Thriller Writers organization ( which is helping thriller writers understand new ways to promote themselves.

To get an overview of the recent big changes in publishing, go to the Backspace website ( and read Richard Curtis's three essays. Richard has some very interesting things to say about how the internet can be useful to authors. To get an idea about some of the things that authors can do to promote themselves, look at Barry Eisler's essays on MJ Rose's website Look under BUZZ, BALLS & HYPE.

The publishing world has changed drastically. We need to do everything we can to let readers know about our work, even if that effort takes away from our writing time.

JA: Thanks so much, David. And to everyone reading this--CREEPERS isn't just Morrell's best book, it's one of the best thrillers I've ever read. The pub date is September 6, but copies are already showing up in stores.

Buy a copy. It will blow you away.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Radio Daze

In my previous post, I openly questioned the effectiveness of radio interviews. To recap:

I was invited to La Crosse Wisconsin to do a library event and a signing at Waldenbooks. The wonderful Terri Schlichenmeyer (rhymes with chickenwire) was able to wrangle three radio itnerviews for me, as well as promote the event on the radio herself. I appeared on four local stations, some of them several times, for three days prior to the event. I was funny, while managing to explain my books and when and where I'd be signing.

La Crosse is a town of about 60,000. How much of that population heard the show, and how many came to my events?

When the day was done, and the numbers had been tallied, the answer was clear:


That's one. Uno. Eins. Un.

I did well at the event anyway. I was at the library for 3 1/2 hours and met everyone who walked into the store, which resulted in 44 books sold. Not bad. But only one of those folks came because they heard me on the radio.

"You were really funny," she told me, "so I came by to get your books." She did buy them both, so about 5% of my sales that day were the result of my radio efforts.

Still, it was pretty enlightening. I walked into the store with visions on long lines and excited fans. Reality is a harsh mistress.

At the library event, I had a lovely chat with two librarians, over the large plate of cookies they bought in anticipation of the huge crowd. They apoloigzed for no one showing up. I apologized for no one showing up. They bought a book out of pity.

Afterward, I called up Barry Eisler, because we like to share marketing info, and I asked him about the effectiveness of media in getting people to events. He shared a story of being on a morning TV show in Portland, speaking eloquently, showing his book jacket, touting his upcoming appearance.

His efforts produced a throng of fan.

Yup, one person.

And that was TV, and Barry is a good-looking, entertaining guy.

The conclusion we drew was that all the publicity in the world won't bring people to you unless the people already know who you are.

Had a bestselling author, like James Patterson, been on TV or on the radio, the fans would have come in droves, because people recognize Patterson.

When was the last time you went to a book signing by an unknown author? What brought you there?

If the brand isn't recognized or doesn't meet a consumer's particular needs, the ad gets tuned out. How many men reading this blog know what Natracare is? O.B.? Gyne-lotrimin? Norplant? Massengill? FDS? Depo-provera? Estroven? Monistat 3? You've been bombarded with thousands of commercials and ads for these feminine products, and even if you recognize the names, and may even have some on your home, its doubtful you know what each one does.

You aren't the target audience, so you don't pay attention to the ads.

And if you're a woman, and you are the target audience for these products, chances are you already have a favorite brand and you stick with it, rather than switch because you hear an ad on the radio for a rival product.

As Barry says, there's no silver bullet---one specific way to slay the beast. As writers we have to keep trying whatever we can, and hope that some combination of our publicity and marketing efforts will get us noticed.

So I'll try radio again. It was fun, and doesn't take up a lot of time. But I won't seek it out. And I certainly won't pay a publicist to get me on the radio, or even TV.

Publicity doesn't work unless you're already a known commodity, and it doesn't work unless your target audience is listening and receptive.


BTW--for those keeping track (hi Maria!) I took an extra day in Wisconsin to do some drive-by signings:

Barnes & Noble in Madison West signed 8 hardcovers and 4 paperbacks.

Waldenbooks in Madison West signed 2 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks.

Borders in Madison West signed 4 hardcovers and 12 paperbacks.

Bookd for Murder signed 3 hardcovers and 14 paperbacks, sold 3.

Barnes & Noble Madison East signed 4 hardcovers and 8 paperbacks, sold 1.

Waldenbooks Madison East signed 2 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks, sold 1.

Borders Madison East signed 2 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks.

Bookworld in Janesville, signed 1 paperback (but they ordered 10 more books)

Waldenbooks in Janesville signed 4 hardcovers, 5 paperbacks, sold 1.

Waldenbooks in Rockford signed 2 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks, sold 2.

Borders in Rockford signed 4 hardcovers, 10 paperbacks, sold 2.

Barnes & Nobel in Rockford, signed 6 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.

I'm going to be doing drive-bys in Illinois today, accompanied by Melanie Lynne Hauser, whose new book Confessions of Super Mom just hit the shelves. It's super-hero chick-lit with a mystery thrown in. It's also very funny, touching, and a wonderful read. Buy a copy for Mom---she'll love it.

Also visit Melanie at She's got a great website, and many unique ideas about how to promote books. Her booklaunch party is at Anderson's in Naperville, August 25th. I urge all of my blog readers to attend the event if you're able, to see up close and personal how a successful booklaunch works. I'll be there!

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Face Made for Radio

So I just did my third radio interview in as many days, to promote an event I'm doing in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 20, and I'm on the fence about the subject.

First things first---I don't have a large ego (500 rejections will do that to you) but I know I'm pretty good at public speaking. Pull the string, and the monkey tells jokes. So I wasn't nervous, and didn't do any preplanning.

The publicist for the event I'm doing set up the interviews, and each radio personality emailed me a few days prior, setting up the time for the taping.

Each interview lasted between 3 and 7 minutes. I knew I had to get three things across in that time:

1. That I'll be at Waldenbooks in Valley View Mall from 11am-4pm, and a portion of the sales will be donated to the Family Resource Center.

2. That the books are about a cop named Jack Daniels.

3. That I need to be the most entertaining person on the planet.

Number 3 might be considered grandiose narcissism, but it isn't. I HAD to keep the hosts laughing. That's what morning shows are all about.

So how did I do?

Radio person #1 called me on my cell while I was at Best Buy, picking up the new Sin City DVD. I wouldn't have been in the store had I known she was calling (she did a morning show and this was late afternoon.) So I did the interview in my parked car.

It was hot (air conditioning made too much noise) but I got out all the necessary info, and had the host laughing like crazy.

Radio personality #2 called in the morning, at the time he'd told me. He talked a lot, and it was tough to get all of my info in without sounding intrusive. Of course, the UPS guy came while we were talking, which sent my dogs into Attack Mode, and when he commented on my barking dogs I said, "Oh, that's just the UPS man, bringing my weekly selection of Adult DVDs."

Before I had a chance to say "I write them off on my taxes as research" the interview was over.
Perhaps the station was more conservative than I'd guessed. Still, I did my info dump, and managed a few jokes.

This morning, I got a call at the designated time from two very fun radio personalities, who hadn't wanted to interview me because neither of them liked to read, but after exchanging some emails they deemed me funny enough to air for a few minutes.

I answered the phone yawning, telling them that a bestselling author like myself usually parties late into the night. Then I asked for a moment to look under the covers and check to see who I woke up next to. After a long, dramatic scream, I informed them that it was my wife. "A guy can hope," I said.

From there, great interview. They were laughing like hell, I said what I needed to while also ripping on the hosts (the book is perfect for you, Kris--no word is over three syllables) and we went for about 7 minutes, all of it a lot of fun.

Now we'll see what power radio has. Will people come out to my signing based on my interviews? It's a small town, and I was on the big three stations. Will that make a difference?

I'm going to ask each person that shows up. If the radio brought them there, I'll hire a publicist to book me on radio shows (which can cost a few grand.)

If the people don't come out in droves, then I'll still do radio when offered, but won't actively seek it out.

What are your opinions of radio? Does it help sell books?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Drinks are on Ed

I've always understood the value of libraries.

Not only do they buy a good number of books (there are over 10,000 of them in the USA,) but a lot of readers become fans in libraries, and librarians love to talk about titles that they enjoy. They're great for word-of-mouth.

An added benefit to libraries is that they often have authors come in to speak. Some will even pay you for the honor, and you can sell books afterward.

So when a library wants me there, I try to make every effort to go. Which is what I did last weekend.

Spencer Indiana is about 250 miles away from my house. I drive a Land Rover, which can climb up the sides of boulder-strewn mountains and plow through raging rivers (very important in the suburbs of Chicago) but gets only about three miles to the gallon. With gas prices these days, a 500 mile round trip costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $77,325.

Not the most effective use of an author's money and time, you say? Especially since you geographically-savvy folks know that Spencer has a population of under 3000 people?

Well, a promo opportunity is a promo opportunity, and I loaded up the truck with beef jerky and energy drinks and went to see the Hoosiers.

Laura Stantz, Owen County Library's Events Coordinator, lured me there with promises of a free hotel room, free food, and free beer, so I figured I'd wind up ahead on the deal. I was to do a signing at the library from noon until three, then from six until ten I was to do another signing at the neighrbood bar and grill, Ed O'Brien's.

My expectations weren't very high--the most books I'd ever sold at a library event was 14. I had about 35 books with me, which should be more than enough.

My arrival at the library was met with much enthusiasm by the librarians, Laura, Beth Williams, and Brenda Curry. They'd hung posters around town advertising the event.

Unfortunately, their best efforts only drew a precocious 15 year old kid named Ben.

But I'm used to playing without an audience, so I circulated through the library (ha!) and met some patrons. In three hours, I'd sold 20 books. Not too shabby.

Afterwards, I did drive-by signings at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble and Borders, both of which had ample supplies, and then headed for the bar.

Ed O'Brien's was a small, intimate place, and I liked it immediately. Besides having me there, they also had live music in the form of the Jeff Waggoner band. I hung out with many literary-minded folks, including Jennifer Vibbert, Genny Coppedge, Brad and Jen Frye, Gwen Dieter, and Ed himself. Good people.

They fed me, gave me large amounts of beer, and bought the rest of my books. I also had a lot of fun.

I often talk about cost vs. value and effectiveness vs. effort. I preach that publishing is a business, and should be treated as such.

But this business isn't always just about numbers, or the bottom line, or the red and the black, or time and money.

It's also about people.

I've done over 300 signings in the past two years. I've forgotten most of them.

This one I won't forget.

How often can you say that?

To those authors who refuse to do drive-by signings because they don't feel it's worth the gas, and the authors that refuse to do events because they feel their time is better spent writing, and the authors who count every promotional penny and constantly fret about time and money, I say: Look at the bigger picture.

And to the wonderful people of Spencer Indiana, population 3000: Thanks for the great time. I'll be back.

Friday, August 12, 2005

You Have the Rights to Remain in Print

Rights are often talked about, but what exactly are they?

When you write something, you don't sell the writing itself. You're actually licensing people to print, adapt, translate, or perform the work. These rights may be for a fixed amount of time, such as two years, one-time-only, first printing, first US rights, first English speaking rights, etc. They may also be until the work goes out of print, which is how most publishers operate.

Hyperion bought world rights to the first six books in the Jack Dnaiels series. This is how it is worded in my contract:

"Author grants and assigns to Publisher the sole and exclusive rights to the Material throughout the world during the entire term of the copyright and any renewlas and extensions thereof: to print, publish and istribute the Material inbook form, including hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback, in all languages."

What does this mean? A copyright lasts for an author's entire life, plus 70 years. Quick note for newbies; don't worry about getting a copyright. You DO NOT need to register for a copyright at the US copyright office. Save your stamps and money. Your publisher will do this for you. Being paranoid about idea-theft is the earmark of an amateur.

So does my contract state that I can never leave my publisher until I've been dead for 70 years?

No. Because there is also this clause:

"If a Book of the Work is out-of-print (definition of "out-of-print" omitted for length), all rights granted to the Publisher shall automatically revert to the author."

Which says that if my publisher stops printing my book, the rights are mine again, to do with as I please.

Hyperion has world translatation rights, but several other subsidiary rights were kept by me. Though Hyperion can sell the book to Thailand, they cannot sell the book to Hollywood, or make an audiobook from it.

The contract discusses various other rights (periodical, book club, mulitmedia, etc.) and the percentage split between author/publisher.

For example, if the publisher sells first serial rights (printing a portion of the book in a periodical before it is published), I get 90% of the money, they get 10%. Second serial rights is a 50/50 split.

My 90% of the money for first serial rights is subtracted from my advance if I haven't earned out, or is added to my royalty check if I have earned out my advance.

Though Hyperion has world rights, they only have 25% of them (20% for British). That means if they sell Whiskey Sour to England for ten grand, Hyperion earns two grand, and I earn eight grand, which goes toward my advance.

I write about advances and royalties in the TIPS section of my website, if some of you are confused about what I'm talking about.

It's int he author's best interest to keep as many rights as possible, to sell them, and its int he publisher's best interest to keep as many rights as possible, to earn back what they've paid the author.

My agent has sold the audiobook sub rights to Brilliance audio. This contract is seperate from Hyperion, and my print publisher doesn't earn anything from it.

My agent hasn't sold movie rights yet, but if they do, Hyperion doesn't get a cut. Hyperion will benefit though, from increased sales and a new edition of the book.

Of course, we all know that the most lucrative sub rights ever sold were Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October.

Get it? Sub rights?

Moving right along...

What else is in a publishing contract? Here's the breakdown:

1. Clause on when the manuscrip(s) will be delivered.

2. Grant of rights.

3. Editorial changes and proofs. (these staet that the editor has the right to request changes, but won't change anything iwthout author approval)

4. Advance. How the money will be paid out (in my case, I get chunks when turning in outlines and finished manuscripts).

5. Royalties. What I earn per book sold (about $3.00 per hardcover, 60 cents per paperback.)

6. Sub rights.

7. Transactions with affiliates. My publisher's parent company can exercise the sub rights.

8. Royalty statements. This defines the terms of joint accounting (when an advance isn't earned out until all books in the contract earn out), reserve against returns (keeping money from the author in case bookstores return books), and when royalty statements are issued.

9. Examination of Publisher's Books and Records. The author has the right to look at the numbers.

10. Termination. All the things that can break the contract, including failure for an author to deliver an acceptable manuscript.

11. Publication. The time frame in which a publisher goes to press after accepting a book, and how many free copies an author and agent receive.

12. Warranties and Indemnities. The author swears he wrote the book, and is responsible for the content.

13. Competing works. The author won't publish anything similar with anyone else/

14. Copyright. The publisher will pay for it.

15. Third party infringement. Both the publisher and author can sue copyright infringers.

16. Option. The publisher gets firts look at the author's next manuscript.

17. Out of print termination. Rights revert back to author when book is out of print.

18. Retention of manuscript copy. It's the author's responsibilty to keep a copy of the book.

19. Use of author's name and likeness. The publisher can use the author for promo stuff.

20. Advertisements. Any sub rights licensed cannot have any advertising in them unless the author agrees.

21. Taxes.

22. Force majeure. Acts of god can change the contract.

23. Bankruptcy. If the publisher files for bancruptcyt, the contract is null.

24. Governing law. The contract is subject to the laws of NY.

25. Assignment of this agreement. Niether author nor publisher can assign this contract to anyone else unless both agree.

26. Headings. The headings inthis agreement are for convenience only and are without substantive effect.

27. Notices. First class mail is used for correspondence between author and publisher, but registered mail is used in certain cases.

28. Agency. The author allows the agent to represent him in this deal.

29. Sodomy. Ha! Just seeing if you were still paying attention!

29. Entire understanding. This contract supersedes all prior negotiations.

So that's a book contract. Not very exciting, huh?

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions, as long as you sign this simple agreement...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Buzz, Balls, and Self-Promotion

Barry Eisler is guest blogging at MJ Rose's well known site, and he's sharing his take on marketing for writers.

Pretty much all of what he says is on the money and worth studying. But I don't think he takes his comments as far as he should.

One of the things Barry and I agree on is investing in your own career as if it were stock.

Investing in yourself does two major things. First, it compounds your publisher's efforts in getting your name out there, establishing a brand, and selling books. Second, it shows your publisher that you're willing to invest your own time and money into building a career.

I invest between 1/3 and 1/2 of my income on promotion. Most of it goes toward travel. I think conventions are essential in my genre (mystery/thriller). So are the several dozen indie bookstores that specialize in mystery. These should be visited.

I spend a lot of time and money doing online promotion, have an extensive mailing list, and am always running contests on my own dime.

I was fortunate that my publisher sent me on an eight city tour. While they set up 8 events in 11 days, I used the time to sign stock at 97 other stores in the areas they sent me.

Were they impressed? Yes.

The single most important thing an author must do is to make sure their publisher is happy. That means earning out your advance, being gracious and easy to work with, and making an effort promoting and marketing.

It's hard work, and I'd rather spend the money on bills, but at this early stage in the game I have to show my publisher what I can, and will, do in order to succeed.

I know too many mid-list authors who are wondering why their careers are stalled---or finished. I don't want to be one of them.

Which is why I'm continuing my drive-by signing campaign, planning onhitting 300 more bookstores in the upcoming months.

Though having co-op placement (window, register, dump box, new release table, and end cap space that your publisher pays for) allows for a higher profile display and likelier customer purchase (and signed copies add to that), you don't have to have ten books in the store to benefit from a drop-in signing. Even Mary Midlist with two paperbacks in the Romance section can benefit.

Never underestimate the importance of the human contact, in this case author/bookstore employee. Impress someone working the register at a Border's, and she'll read your book. Once she's read you, she's a fan. She can handsell you. She can keep your books on the shelf even when the home office says they need to be stripped. She can reorder more copies even though the computer says she shouldn't.

I've had bookstores handsell dozens, even hundreds, of my books. All because they met me.

Plus, in almost every drive-by I did, once the books were signed the employees promised they'd be prominantly displayed. I didn't even have to ask. Though I'm fortunate to have some co-op placement, in many cases my books were spine-out in the Mystery section. But once I signed them, they were moved to an end cap by the bookseller.

Booksellers like to meet authors, and they like to display signed books. It shows customers that they have a connection with authors, and that authors value their store enough to sign there.
Remember--my publisher didn't tour me for my first book, and I had no co-op. But I did a lot of drop-ins, and my publisher noticed, leading to a larger print run, more co-op and advertising, and a publisher tour.

Recruiting your publisher is hugely important. But selling those extra books is important too, even if it is only a few hundred.

Let's say you have a two book hard/soft deal.

Book #1 has a print run of 15,000. Your publisher expects to sell half of that, 7500, which is a standard sell-through for a new author.

But because there wasn't a lot of promotion, or co-op, you only sell 7000. Still respectable, but you aren't knocking their socks off.

Book #1 goes into paperback. They might have projected a 50k print run, but because hardback sales were weak, this drops to 40k. That means less promo dollars, less in-house enthusiasm, less puch from the sales reps to get the book into stores. No one wants to back a loser.

And for Book #2, the hardcover run also goes down, to 12k. Book buyers see this, view what sold previously, and buy less. Again, you have a smaller promo budget, less in-house enthusiasm, and your chances for a second contract don't look good.

The key to fixing this is promotion. Getting your name, and yourself, out there and selling the books. Ads, reviews, library talks, conferences, conventions, internet marketing, snail mail campaigns, website contests and booksignings. Meeting the booksellers and the fans is what can make the difference.

The Whiskey Sour paperback was released 2 months ago, but the hardcover hasn't been remaindered yet, even though it's been out for 15 months, because it is still selling. Because I'm the one selling it. Slowly but surely.

I'll be super candid here; this business scares the crap out of me. I spend hours in bookstores, hand selling, and am shocked by how few books sell. Those that do sell are because the buyer knows of the author, either by reading previous books or hearing about the books some how. The amount of books sold to browsers---those folks who will plunk down $25 on a new author they've never heard of---is very tiny.

Even a recent NYT bestseller sold 4900 paperbacks in Waldenbooks chain in 3 weeks.
Do the math. There are 700 Waldenbooks stores nationwide. Each sold about seven books in 21 days, or a book every 3 days.

One book every three days is not a lot (and these are paperbacks). Each day had ten hours worth of traffic--between 300 and 1000 customers a day, and for two out of every three days, her new book went unsold.

And she's a known name with a huge fanbase. She'll sell better than any of us.

Chances are, Waldenbooks will get two or three copies of your book, where they'll sit on a shelf for 4 months, then get returned for credit. because no one is going to buy your book if they've never heard of you.

Go to a bookstore. Look at the bestseller rack. Sit and watch it for eight hours (I've done this dozens of times). See how many copies of Lee Child's new one sell. You'll be lucky to see one get sold. And he's Lee Child.

There are exceptions. The Traveller. The Historian. DaVinci Code. Potter. 5 People in Heaven. But it's doubtful you'll be an exception.

So who is going to sell these books?

You are. That means meeting the booksellers. Meeting the fans. Signing stock. Doing drop-ins.
Signed books have a better chance at selling. Signed books that the bookseller recommends are an even better bet.

Do this as often as you can.

Of course, the single greatest form of advertising in the publishing business is... short story sales.

By the end of the year, I'll have had stories and articles in 4 issues of Ellery Queen (250k circultation each), 3 issues of Writer's Digest (180k circ. each), 1 issue of Alfred Hitchcock (250k circ), 1 issue of The Strand (50k circ,) 20 other magazines and anthologies (150k circ.) including the upcoming THRILLER anthology edited by James Patterson (which sold for the biggest advance in the history of anthologies and will get huge press and a huge release.)

That's my name in almost 2 million magazines and books. But not just my name---my writing. And my writing is a much better form of advertising than any three color brochure or tiny b/w ad in the back of Mystery Scene.

If people read and enjoy a short story, they'll seek out the books. I have 1000's of emails from fans that back this statement up.

Cost to author: free, or you get paid. There's a time investment, but spending a week on a story that reaches two hundred thousand people seems to be a good return, plus you have the story forever. Writer's Digest reprinted my first article in two other publications (Novel Writing Magazine and Selling Your First Book magazine).

Which brings up the hackneyed expression "think outside the box."

The more that you learn about the way publishing works, the more that ideas spring to mind about who to best exploit it.

I found an agent in an unconventional way. I studied the industry and figured out what should work, even though all the how-to books said otherwise.

I've been selling my books in unconventional ways as well. I'll spend 6-8 hours in a bookstore, shaking the hand of everyone who walks in. I've met thousands of people, and sold thousands of books. Not too many other authors take this approach.

I consider short story sales and drive-by signings essential to a career, and I've been preaching this for a while. Not because Writer's Digest told me so. Because I looked at the industry, found a niche to exploit, and exploited it.

These methods may not work for everyone. But other methods could.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and authors need to find better ways to sell their books, or else they won't last long in this business.

Learn all you can about publishing. Not only from the outside, but from the inside as well.
You're a consumer, as well as a writer. What makes you buy a book? Figure that out, and concentrate your efforts on reproducing that effect for other consumers.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jack Until '09

I just signed another 3 book deal with Hyperion, ensuring that Jack Daneils will be chasing bad guys for a while longer.

Thanks to my uber-agent, Jane Dystel, and my editor, Leslie Wells, for making this happen.

I'm going to celebrate by working my ass off promoting the series.

But first, beer!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Back From Vacation... Sort Of

I didn't have a vacation last year. My money and time were spent on touring, and I missed out on taking the kids and dogs on a long car ride to a cabin somewhere to fish and swat bugs and get sunburned.

This year was looking to be similar. But something changed that. No, it wasn't my concerned wife, pleading with me to take a break and relax before I killed myself with work. No, it wasn't my 7 year old son, who was beginning to think that Dad was umbilically attached to his computer. And no, it wasn't me, who finally decided that I deserved a break after busting my tail for 3 years.

It was a bookstore.

I have a hard time turning down appearance requests. If someone wants me for a signing, or a speech, I consider it a wonderful opportunity for exposure, brand-building, networking, bookselling, and self-promoting. I spent a long time trying to set up appearances, and now that people are coming to me rather than the other way around, I try my best to honor requests.

So when I got a request to visit a store in upper Michigan, I said yes---even though it was a six hour drive. Six hours each way meant an overnight stay. Researching the area led me to a cabin on a lake, and I figured I could turn it into a vacation.

It was much needed after the work I put into my West Coast Tour, and I managed to get attacked by bugs, catch some fish, and even work on my sunburn, along with rediscovering that I have a pretty cool family.

Plus, the signing went well.

Now I'm back, and diving into the email and snail mail that has accumulated in my absence. This includes:

7 blurb requests. Somewhere along the line I said yes to 7 writers, all of whom have sent their manuscripts for me to blurb, deadlines coming up quick.

30 self-published books to read. Somewhere along the line I agreed to judge a genre fiction contest for Writer's Digest, and have to write 30 book critiques by mid-August.

223 emails to answer. I should probably be doing that instead of blogging.

I should be able to whip through all of this fairly fast, because I'm in the curious position of having nothing currently due on the writing front. Hyperion is considering my outline for the next Jack Daniels book, DIRTY MARTINI. They haven't sent me the line edits yet for RUSTY NAIL. No short stories are currently due. So, other than drive-by signings in the Chicagoland area, and a few scheduled events, I'm pretty open for August.

On the publishing front, various cool things are happening, including:

I just received the September issue of Writer's Digest, which features my article AFTER THE BOOK COMES OUT, a continuation of my piece for them last year called AFTER THE BIG SALE. The layout is a thing of beauty---I couldn't be happier. WD also bought another piece of mine called TURN A DISASTEROUS BOOKSIGNING INTO A SUCCESS, and is considering two others.

Jack Daniels will appear in the November issue of EQMM. The current issue has a back cover ad for my books, placed there by my publisher, along with a review of BLOODY MARY.

My Phineas Troutt story EPITAPH will appear in the upcomign THRILLER anthology, edited by James Patterson for the ITW.

Another Phineas Troutt story, SUFFER, will be in an upcoming issue of Ellery Queen. (side note; both of these Phin stories were written for the anthology CHICAGO NOIR, and were rejected. I should send that editor a Thank You note...)

I just recieved copies of SURREAL #1, which contains my horror short THE SHED.

I just recieved copies of THE STRAND #16, which contains my Harry McGlade story TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS... which may be the funniest thing I've ever written.

I just received copies of CRIMESPREE #7, which contains my story LIGHT DRIZZLE, a parody of my friend Barry Eisler's Rain books.

Another Harry McGlade story, WHELP WANTED, appears at the end of the BLOODY MARY audiobook. The story is read by me, and I don't suck too bad. The book itself is read by Dick Hill and Susie Breck, and they're fabulous. I'll put an excerpt on my website when I get caught up with stuff.

But first, I gotta go pick up some sunburn cream...