Monday, June 27, 2016

Pitching Your Book

Okay, you’ve just written the great American novel and can’t wait to release it to the world; then watch those royalties come streaming in.  You’ve asked a friend to proof-read it and give you constructive criticism.  He thinks your book is really good.  You may have even forked over $100.00 to a professional who designed a mind-blowing cover. Who wouldn’t want to buy a book with a cover like that? you ask yourself.

Stop.  Take a deep breath.  There’s one more make-or-break job you have to do: write a book description.  That’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with publishers like Smashwords who limit the short description to only 400 characters.  You may have a great long description, but you are going have to start deleting parts of it to fit into the short one.  It can be very frustrating.  I've seen some short descriptions where part of the last sentence is cut off.  Obviously, the writer didn't double-check it before publication.

Here are some suggestions to consider:

  1. Don’t use subplots:  Keep to the main point and don’t confuse your readers: they probably don’t want to take the time to read a long description anyway.  Ask yourself, “What is the primary action that drives my book?”
  2. Make it concise.  A creative writing teacher once told me that a poem is more difficult to write than a short story or novel because with a poem, every single word must be packed with meaning.
  3. Keep it under 150 words.
  4. Write in the third person, present tense.  Imagine sitting face-to-face with your reader and they’ve asked you what your book is about.
  5. Write it as if you are the publisher—not the writer. Remember—the book description is a marketing tool—it's not literature; so it’s okay to hyperbolize a little.  Just don’t overdo it.
  6. Read book descriptions by other authors in your genre.

Last, but not least:  Use Emotional Power Words.  Make your readers wake up and take notice.   How?

  1. Use words that will raise their spirits and make them feel better.  Examples: miracle, triumph, jaw dropping.
  2. Sex sells.  Take advantage of this by using words such as: sensual, thrilling, naughty, steamy, brazen.
  3. Make it forbidden by using these words: Pandora’s Box, confidential, cover-up, bootleg, Black Market.
  4. Fear is a powerful motivator, especially if you write murder mysteries.  Use words like: looming, revenge, frantic, searing.
  5. Fan the flames.  Make them feel outraged at injustice. Use words such as sick and tired, back-stabbing, ruthless.
  6. Feed Their greed: most people either want to make or save money. Use these power words to take advantage of this: bargain, profit, discount, quadruple.
  7. Make them feel safe.  Use these words: no risk, privacy, official, tested, guaranteed

Try using only six to ten of these emotional power words in your description. And last, but not least, here’s the most important factor to keep in mind when you are writing your description: make sure that your book lives up to your promises.  You don’t want your reader to feel cheated.  Make sure you deliver what your advertise, or your reader may want his money back; and even worse, may feel compelled to write a bad review or give a one-star rating.  And that’s the last thing we writers want.  Happy editing and good luck with your amazing new novel.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Books about Great Dads

I was blessed with a wonderful Dad and several of my books are about the special relationship between fathers and daughters, especially those in my Nancy Keene Mysteries. Teenage sleuth Nancy has a father who is every girl's dream of an ideal Dad.  He gives her a tremendous amount of freedom: he is often away on business trips, which leaves her with plenty of unsupervised time to investigate her cases.  It seems like all she has to do all day is to drive around in her vintage blue roadster and solve mysteries.  She has no pestering Mom telling her to clean up her room.    Because her father is a successful attorney, he has plenty of money to treat Nancy and her friends to wonderful vacations, including ones to New Orleans and London.  She can wrap him around her little finger, and almost always gets her way.  How lucky can a girl be?!

In the first Nancy Keene Mystery I wrote, "The Buried Treasure on Route 66", her Dad is having trouble accepting the fact that his precious Nancy has just turned 18, has a boyfriend, and is going away to college.  How will he handle the empty nest?  And what lessons will he learn when he joins Nancy and her boyfriend on a road trip?  This book is rated PG and only costs $1.99.

I love New Orleans and have been there many times, so I have Nancy going there on vacation with her Dad and her friends. When a docent at Oak Alley Plantation is found dead, Nancy will not rest until she figures out whodunit. She has to leave New Orleans before the murder is solved, but Nancy twists her over-indulgent Dad around her little finger and he allows her to return to the Crescent City to stay with her fun and funky Aunt Audrey in "The Ghost in the Plantation".  This book is rated PG and costs $2.99.

My most recent Nancy Keene Mystery finds Nancy, her Dad, and her girlfriend going to London. Nancy has her first serious crush at 16 when she sees that Daniel Craig is staying at the same hotel as they are.  She's a big fan of James Bond and even goes to Harrods to try a find an outfit like one of the Bond Girls to impress him.  When someone steals his BAFTA award out of his hotel room, Nancy is hot on the trail trying to figure out who stole it and why.  This book is called "The Stolen Mask" and is rated PG and costs only $1.99.

Nancy and her Dad are big fans of "A Prairie Home Companion" and she talks him into going on a pilgrimage with her in search of the towns that inspired Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon.  Her Dad wants to go on a Bob Dylan pilgrimage while they are in Minnesota, but Nancy has other plans when a bachelor farmer goes missing.  This book is called, "The Missing Bachelor Farmer" and it is rated G.  It only costs $1.99.

All of these eBooks are available at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords.  Three of them are also available in paperback at

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Genius and Thomas Wolfe

Have you seen the new movie "Genius" starring Colin Firth, Jude Law, and Nicole Kidman? It is about the relationship the famous Southern writer, Thomas Wolfe, had with his editor, Maxwell Perkins, and his lover, Aline. I'm excited about seeing it tonight.  Would you like to learn more about Wolfe's writing style and his relationship with Aline Bernstein, the character Nicole plays in the movie?  If you would, please checkout this literary essay I wrote after I received my Master's Degree in English and went to a Thomas Wolfe festival in 1991. While I was there, I had the good fortune to run into his nephew, who was the only living relative who actually knew him.

Nags, Sluts, and a Deep-Breasted Soulmate from the Shining City:
The Women in Thomas Wolfe's The Web and The Rock
Only 99 cents

I’ve always been a sucker for a good love story and was pleased to discover the best one in American Literature, in my humble opinion, in Wolfe’s long novel, The Web and The Rock. In that thinly-veiled self-portrait, Wolfe loves and captures the spirit of Aline Bernstein. In his extravagant rhetoric, he immortalizes her in his fictional character, Esther Jack. Written in the 1930’s, it shows a remarkable admiration for an independent woman, and in this respect, Wolfe was ahead of his time. The fact that Aline won a Tony award for Best Costume Design, makes the story of her relationship with Wolfe even more fascinating. This eBook also includes photographs.

Only 99 cents and available at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Friday, June 10, 2016

James Bond and Nancy Drew

This is a funny story about a teenage sleuth who goes to London with her father and is delighted when she discovers that Daniel Craig (AKA James Bond) is staying at their hotel.  I was inspired to write this book by my love of Nancy Drew books and my love of London.  On vacation in London a few years back, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan was playing him at the time) was actually was staying at the same hotel as my husband and I were.  Just like Nancy Keene in my story of The Stolen Mask, I was settling into our upstairs' bedroom when I looked out the window and saw Agent 007 drinking champagne in the hotel's garden. I was as star-struck as any teenage school girl would be. Nancy feels her first stirrings of passion and is pleased when she has an opportunity to come to his aid after his BAFTA is stolen from his room.

I am a total Anglophile and love all things British--its literature, its music, its history, its art. I love writing about places I've traveled to, so in this story I have Nancy sighting-seeing some of my favorite destinations in and around London.  She goes on a Jane Austen pilgrimage, visits Buckingham Palace, shops at Harrods, and goes to the Sherlock Holmes museum.  Nancy is very precocious, filled with esoteric knowledge, and has read a lot, so when she tries to solve the case of the stolen mask, she channels Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and Rumpole of the Bailey.

This book is one of my favorite ones I've written and I hope my readers will like it, too.  So, come with Nancy Keene on a trip to London where she meets James Bond and even gets to walk the red carpet with him when she's back home for the Oscars.  A bit of a stretch?  Of course, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Here's what reviewers are saying about this book:

"I loved it! This is a very clever parody of Nancy Drew set in the current times. Nancy Keene, her father Drew Keene, and her friend Beth travel to London where they not only meet Daniel Craig (James Bond) but also solve his mystery...I love Nancy Drew and I love England. The two together is a winner."

"Great story line for readers who loved Nancy Drew as a young person. It moves quickly and is a fun light read!"

This eBook costs only $1.99 and is available at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Google Play Books, Smashwords and Kobo Books