Less than a buck

Adobe Photoshop PDFDelicious over-the-top fun!

The five mystery writers who put together the rollicking dark comedy, Beat Slay Love, have discounted the novel for the first time.

It’s now just 99 cents. But don’t delay.

Look for it on most platforms – Kindle  • Nook • KOBO 

Leave a review if you can! Much appreciated.

“You’ll never watch the Food Network shows the same way after reading Beat Slay Love. . . a heady mixture of reality television, misbehaving foodies, murder most-creatively-foul, and determined sleuths. Delicious over-the-top fun!“Mysterious Galaxy 

Two Teas for You

All you need are books & tea. Wouldn’t the world be lovely if that were true?

Books and tea do go together, especially as the nip gets in the air and the leaves fall. So I’m excited to report that I have magically become a Tea Blender! 🙂 Over at Adagio Teas you can make your own custom blends of tea. So I’ve concocted two blends inspired by Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress, the two Bennett Sisters novels.

The Mystery of France in Your Cup

Blackbird Blend is an Earl Grey tea (black with citrus tones) blended with lavender to take you back to the French countryside. Added to that is white peach and vanilla for a hint of sweet.

The Empty Dress Blend is herbal. As coffee is my morning sip I drink herbal teas without caffeine all afternoon and evening. This one is based on a blend called Foxtrot which is chamomile flowers, rooibos tea, peppermint leaves and natural vanilla flavor. To that I’ve added more mint and chocolate plus cocoa nibs. (I confess a weakness for mint chocolate tea!)

Use this code to get $5 off your first order at Adagio Tea: #5354119060

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I’ll be giving out samplers of the two tea blends at Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, in Long Beach in November.

Adagio also has some scrumptious looking seasonal teas: Pumpkin Spice and Holiday Cheer, with tea bags to take you from now through the end of the year.

Start your tea kettles!

Have you signed up for the Fall Giveaway? Four books are up for grabs. Will you be a winner?


Ever wonder why authors self-publish?

Harper Collins [News Corp] shows its investors where the $$ comes from: authors
And why traditional publishers love hardcovers, at – gulp – $27.99? The royalty schedule really hasn’t changed much over the years for print books. But e-books, despite the big lawsuit about price-fixing, is a brave new world where publishers give authors half, or less than half, of the 70% profit they are making. Profit without any production costs incurred apparently.

Some say (over at Porter Anderson’s post at Writer Unboxed) that few writers “earn out” so it’s academic. Earning out means making enough royalties to go over your advance on royalties you got at publication. But if you got a higher, more equitable royalty from e-book sales you would earn out faster, of course. And advances being so low for so many traditionally published authors, many will earn out especially given the long life of the e-book. It will never go out of print like the hardcover and even the paperback.

Interesting glimpse into a publisher’s accounting sheet.

So when was the last time you bought a hardcover for $27.99? I just bought Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.” I met up with her again at the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and wanted a signed copy. On the other hand I spent $14.99 on Kate Atkinson’s latest, “Life After Life,” as a Kindle book. Switch-hitter, that’s me.

What Writers Can Learn from Musicians

DSCN1951I’ve spent a lot of time in the car recently, listening to audiobooks and music on SiriusXM. I admit it, I have become a raging fan of satellite radio. (My favorite channel is 30, The Loft. My husband’s favorite is Outlaw Country.) Out here in the West, with miles of open country between towns, without satellite radio you either put on an audiobook or fiddle endlessly trying to get a signal from an FM station. Love my SiriusXM.

The other day I was listening to an interview by a DJ with a musician. The DJ asked him about his eclectic tastes in music: blues, jazz, rock, folk. Was diversity like that important to him? He said, yes, but — and this is what stuck with me — if you want to make money in music, you have to have something that appeals to a wide range of people. Some like blues, some like jazz.

This struck me as antithetical to what we often hear in publishing. Brand yourself! Write a series! If someone reads a book they like by you, they will want something similar next time. Hook them! Give them more! 

At a convention once a well-respected, well-published novelist said, rather chagrinned, that he had to continue his series because “that was the product they wanted.” They: his publisher. Another throwaway line that stuck with me for years. To refer to your novel as “the product” — okay, to a publisher it is a commodity, I get it — seemed so wrong. It still does. Your novel should come from deep inside you, should give us a glimpse of what makes you tick, what puts the twinkle in your eye, what keeps you awake at night. If you view it as “a product” I wonder if it will come from that deep place, or will it be written for the marketplace.

Musicians went through the digital disruption phase we’re experiencing now in publishing decades ago with Napster and iTunes. Many of them ended their record label deals and went indie. Many went straight to indie. Like musicians writers wanted more control over their careers, their output, their money stream. They developed strategies to give away songs to get buyers to purchase the album, they went completely digital, they went back to vinyl, they make videos for youtube, they tour, they don’t tour. All sorts of ideas that writers can learn from. Experiment with marketing but control the “product,” the essence of what you do. Don’t make compromises with what only you can do.

We had a little discussion at the novel-writing workshop last week. One woman objected to even the whiff of marketing or audience, saying that not everyone is interested in having their work read. I agree, but most are. Most writers want that two-way communication with readers. They want to be heard. Writing, unlike most music-making, is solitary. When the work is written, rewritten, polished to a shine and sent out into the world, writers want to be read. If you’ve graduated from amateur to professional, you want an audience, whether you’re a writer or a musician. Just remember, I always tell students, only you can write your book.

new pretty dreams 2-12Although I’m mostly a crime writer last year I published a book that meant a lot to me, All Your Pretty Dreams. (It was originally called Squeeze Box but I feared the anti-accordion lobby.) I started writing this book in 1997 as a Pride and Prejudice pastiche set in an isolated Minnesota town. Originally the schtick was that the town had the only lake without mosquitoes in Minnesota. I dropped that idea, dropped the manuscript itself for years. But it wouldn’t go away, the idea of a family polka band as the Bennetts of Longbourne. It was silly but that’s what I loved about it. Finally I spent one summer figuring out how to actually write the damn thing. It’s different from my other books. Nobody gets killed. But there is a birth, a death, and a change of heart. Just like Darcy and Elizabeth.

The sales of this oddball book have not been amazing in the year since its release. But it’s gaining an audience, slowly. Recently I’ve gotten reviews from people who have read my mysteries and gave this one a try. That’s all a writer asks. Give me a go. Just like a musician who writes blues for blues lovers and folk for folkies.

Have you discovered a musician lately? Where did you find them? On the radio, on the internet? What about a new writer? How did you find them? Discovering musicians is just like discovering writers. If somebody sounds interesting, give them a go. You never know. You may find your new favorite writer.

Using Twitter for Book Marketing

Last weekend I tried something new, a Re-Tweet Weekend. I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends, and LinkedIn Crime Fiction people, to send me their book links. Then Saturday and Sunday I re-tweeted them randomly and often.

Authors! Planning an RT extravaganza. Post your book tweet w/link and @LiseMcClendon and I will RT Saturday & Sunday #indie #books #ebooks

  1. @LiseMcClendon Really cool! Everyone should go over and look at this girl’s wallpaper. (Proud of myself–I know the lingo)

About twelve or fifteen authors played with me, from all my social networks. Not a huge response but that was probably good for the first go-round. (Luckily I didn’t have too many things going on!) The auto-scheduler on HootSuite was a big help. (My question though is how do you cancel an auto-scheduled tweet, or even find out if it’s scheduled and when?) The re-tweets continued until about Wednesday because the auto-scheduler figures out when is the best time for them.

Everybody got about five or six re-tweets over the weekend. The idea is have somebody else tweet your book links because tweeting about yourself is kind of … over. Really, people. Do your followers click on your links about your own books? And more importantly, do they buy books because you the author say they’re awesome?

Like most social marketing there’s a fine line between being excited about your book and just flogging the everloving hell out of it. The latest etiquette is not even re-tweet when somebody says something nice about your book (although I see that all the time.) Re-tweeting compliments is seen as just the same as complimenting yourself. Sadly I see this all as the advice my mother always gave me (and I totally hated): “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” Sigh.

Here was my advice to my own kids: “Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.” (Totally old school, my mom and me.) The problem is with indie-published authors, they rarely have reviews to get the word out. Yes, sometimes you can use your Amazon and Nook reviews to promote your book, but those reviews, as we’ve heard, are not all that trusted. Independent reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, BookList, and the like have a lot more credibility.

This is not to say you can’t tweet about your novels. You wouldn’t be on Twitter if you didn’t. But spreading the love around, re-tweeting other authors (I also re-tweeted people who hadn’t contacted me), and reading  blogs and news and tweeting links to those if they’re interesting, is more friendly. I see people with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and they are posting links to their own website or books. More power to them, I guess. I’d love to know if that works for them. Does it work for you?

I’m planning on more Re-Tweet Weekends, hopefully one a month. Send me your book links in mid-May! Here’s my Twitter link: @LiseMcClendon