Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best Search Engine for Writers

Novelist Elizabeth Spann Craig has put together a search engine just for writers. Called the Writer's Knowledge Base, it lives up to it's name.

The WKB is simple to use. You key in a word or short phrase and it searches through it's collection of blog posts. It then presents you with a list of pertinent materials. For example, I keyed in "publish" and it presented me with over 1,500 matches.

Use it once and I think you'll want to bookmark the Writer's Knowledge Base  for future searches.

Let Panzer know what you think of the WKB.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three Resources for Marketing Your Ebook

Last Wednesday I posted a list of my favorite crime and research blogs. Today I'm posting three of my favorite ebook marketing resource blogs.

1) Book Pumper , features Promotional Tactics for the Indie Revolution.

2) The Savvy Book Marketer, by the Book Marketing Maven.

3) Book Marketing Strategies and Tips for Authors. (You will need to subscribe here to take advantage of the videos, but it's free to subscribe.)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Poop Thief

It's time for another book review for your reading pleasure.

Portia Meadows runs a pet store called "Enchantment Park." This isn't your average pet store. These are very special pets for very special people. Who would have thought poop would be that special?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a great little story called The Poop Thief up at her blog. Kristine is selling this ebook at Amazon (and all the usual e-stores) for 99 cents, but you get to read it for free. At Kristine's blog, scroll down to Free Fiction Monday  and read all about poop.

Oh, and Panzer gives it a ten out of ten.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Prepare Before You Die

Panzer and I were talking today about the passing of his friend Raistlin (Eben). The last few weeks have not been good for the literary scene.

We've lost Lilian Jackson Braun, of cat mystery fame; Robert Kroetsch, the Canadian author; Newton Thornburg, author of Cutter and Bone; and Martin H. Greenberg, anthology editor at Tekno Books.

Like everyone else, I think we tend to avoid thinking about death. Perhaps that's one of the reasons we began writing: to make ourselves immortal through the written word. But as writers we have an obligations to our readers and cyber-friends to prepare for our death.

Here are five things you should do immediately:

1) Make a list of all of your passwords. If you're like me, your computer is passworded and your writing files are passworded. Then there's your blog, Twitter, Facebook,etc.

2) Now your spouse or designated friend can post your death to your blog, etc., as Raistlin's friend did. That way you won't just disappear from cyberspace. This same spouse or friend can leave your blog up for several days to allow your readers to post their comments. Then leave instructions if you want your blog removed.

2) Add to your password list, your passwords for your Amazon account, Smashwords account, Goodreads account, etc.  so your spouse or designated friend can close these accounts, too.

3) Leave instructions for how to access your submissions program/spreadsheet/agent's contact information so your manuscripts can be withdrawn from consideration until your estate is settled.

4) You should have a list of all your sold manuscripts, the rights sold, and the copyright dates. You will need this information for the executor of your literary estate (whether this is your agent, your attorney, spouse or designated friend).

5) And finally, don't forget to leave instruction about what to do with your journals, diaries and personal papers. Do you want them given to your university,  completed or just destroyed?

This list is by no means complete. Depending on your genre, you may need to add or delete things from your own list. But, do make a list and follow up by doing the things on the list to make it easier for your spouse or friend to notify your readers and friends, and to make sure your last wishes are known and followed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Goodbye Raistlin (Eben)

No post today. Panzer isn't feeling well. One of his friends over at  Ebenezar and Snooch went to Kitty Heaven.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Increasing Your Ebook Sales

Have you ever thought about using the sale of your ebook to help you sell your other  ebooks? Today, Joe Konrath is blogging about changing the layout of your ebook to help increase your sales.

If you're having trouble making a sale after a sample is downloaded from Amazon, Joe suggests moving the blurb describing what your ebook is about from the back cover to the very front of your ebook. He also suggests moving the copyright page to the back. The aim of these rearrangements is to remind your ebook readers why they downloaded your sample in the first place. I know from my own experience that I've forgotten why I downloaded a sample and didn't bother to go back and read it.

Also in the end matter, Konrath suggests including clickable links for your other ebooks and your blog. He also suggests trading excerpts with other authors in your genre.

Although there are a lot of comments following this blog post, you'll want to read them for their suggestions, too.

Visit A Newbie's Guide to Publishing  for some of Joe's interesting suggestion to increase your sales potential.

Whether you agree or not, there are some interesting ideas here. Thank Panzer sooner rather than later because he's getting low on Kitty Treats.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling is Self-Publishing Ebooks

Everybody is blogging and tweeting about Pottermore today. J.K. Rowling has decided to join the self-publishing ranks with the ebooks of her Harry Potter books.

This news shouldn't surprise anybody. John Locke just sold over a million self-pubbed books at Amazon. Joe Konrath and crew have been selling at Amazon for the last couple of years. So, J.K. Rowling did the smartest thing she could. She decided to self-pub the ebooks

You can read Passive Guy's take at  J.K. Rowling is Self-Publishing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Four Crime and Mystery Writer Research Blogs

There are several blogs I like to visit. Here are four of my favorite sites for research, information and ideas:

1. D.P. Lyle's Writer's Forensics blog is an excellent place to post a question, read other writer's questions, or just read through past blog posts for ideas. Want to know how long it takes for a victim to drown? Want to know what caliber bullet is most lethal for a head shot? Check with  Dr. Lyle. 

2. The Passive Voice blog written by The Passive Guy is an great blog to read about writer contracts or whose doing what in the writing world. (The Passive Guy is an attorney, but don't let that frighten you away. )  Check with The Passive Guy.  

3. Writer Dean Wesley Smith's blog is a mixture of contract and agent information and his writing. Want to know why agents' days may be numbered? Want to read some great free short stories? Check with Dean Wesley Smith.

4. Chicago Crimewriter Beth Anderson's blog has a collection of her workshops. Want to know how to write a synopsis? A story opening? Check with Beth Anderson's Hot Clues.

Now, go check out these blogs and tell them Panzer sent you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Smashwords Podcast and Upcoming Webcast

Smashwords' Mark Coker was interviewed by Mike Wolf of GigaOm today. The interview covers many subjects of interest to indie authors. You can listen to the podcast or download it at

If you want to register for a free O'Reilly webcast on Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, go to for more information. Read the list of participants and sign up while you still can. This looks to be an information packed webcast.

John Locke Sells A Million+ Books at the Kindle Store

Woohoo! The indie pub world is blogging and tweeting everywhere about the new indie phenom. John Locke, writer extraordinaire, has joined the "Kindle Million Club" for his fete of the sale of a million (probably more since the announcement yesterday) ebooks at the Kindle Store.

Self Publishing Review has the press release here.

Before you get the wrong idea, do remember, John Locke wrote nine books to make those one million sales.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ebook Marketing in the B&N, Kindle, KDP, and Nook Forums

As a writer an important part of your marketing plan has to be to interact with your readers. Readers want to know you as a person. They want to know about you and your writing life.

So, how do you find these potential readers? Yesterday, we discussed your About the Author bio at the end of your ebook and including contact information there. But what if they don't contact you at your website or blog? What then? Then it's up to you to initiate contact. The way to do this is to go to the forums for each of the e-stores where your readers congregate to discuss their favorite ebooks.

Don't just jump right in and start trying to sell your ebook. First read the forums and community posts. See what other people are posting. Get a feel for the proper protocol. Do not Spam the forum! Ask questions; answer questions; be helpful. Above all, be friendly!

To get you started, here are the B&N Community ,  Kindleboards , KDP Forums , and the  Nook Forum . 

Say, "Hi," when you see me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Writing An Ebook Author Bio That Pops

Your ebook has been rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. So, it finished, right?  Right? No, it's not. You still have the dreaded at the end of the ebook  About the Author to write. This can actually be the hardest part to write.  It's the last thing the reader will see and remember.

Writers tend to be private people. We keep our thoughts to ourselves. We have to. If we spend our time talking about our characters, plotting and scenes, we don't get any writing done.  It dissipates the energy and enthusiasm we feel for the story and we don't write it.

To write the author bio we have to open up and let the world know what we do. How are you going to do that? If you go to Smashwords free download site and get a couple of ebooks, you can read the author bios at the end of each. You'll find the good bios have certain things in common. They begin by telling who the author is now, then explaining how the author got here in the form of a brief history, and end by including contact information. The whole bio is only two or three paragraphs long.  That's all there is to it.

Easy, huh? Now go write that end of the book About the Author.

Oh, yeah. Panzer would like a little Thank You dedication for his help on this at the front of the book, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rewriting and Story Arcs

There are not many rules of writing I actually follow.  My motto is Learn the rules so, when you break them, you do it on purpose not through stupidity.

There is one writing rule, however, I never break.

"And what rule would that be?" you ask. 

It is, "Don't submit your story as soon as you finish it."  Put your manuscript aside for a few days (or weeks) after you've finished it. When you go back to it, you'll be reading with fresh eyes. You'll see the typos, the bad grammar, but most of all you'll see the character inconsistencies in the story/character arc. This is when my rewriting really starts.

At the beginning of the story my main character is presented with a problem to overcome. She doesn't know if she can overcome it. She tries and fails. She tries again, but it seems insurmountable. She tries again and succeeds. By the end of the story she has to have changed so the success is believable. Everything that happens in the story has to contribute to that believable success.

If you're interested in learning more about the story/character arc and how to use it in your stories, Carrie Ryan blogged at Magical Words on story arcs  and how she uses them in her stories. Let me know if it helps your story writing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ebook Covers

I've read on J.A. Konrath's blog (and others) that the ebook cover is one of the most important selling tools on Amazon. Recently, I've been checking out different imaging software programs to see how hard it really is to do my own covers.

I began by using Irfanview. It's an easy little program that allows you to turn out an ebook cover in twenty minutes. The program allows you to resize, crop and/or rotate your image. You also have limited color enhancement. The text portions are added directly to the image. All in all, it's a nice program for a simple ebook cover. The ebook cover image on the right was done using Irfanview.

Last month I blogged about learning another imaging program called Paint.NET to see how it would work for my ebook covers. The blog header image above was done using Paint.NET. In addition to all of the features found in Irfanview Paint.NET software allows you to change or sharpen colors as I did with the image above. It also allows you to layer over the image. This can be useful when adding text to the image. This software is much more useful than Irfanview for a more complicated ebook cover.

For a simple cover download  Irfanview Software. For a more complicate cover download Paint.NET Software. 

You can't beat the price. Both are free!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Set Up Blog Tours For Your Characters

Not looking forward to that ebook marketing tool known as the blog tour? Everybody touts the blog tour as the greatest marketing tool since the Book Club option.

But, what if you're a little shy? Hate the spotlight? Well, don't feel bad. You're not alone.

So, today have I got help for you. Let's send your character on a blog tour and let him/her do the marketing for you.

I've three blogs for you to contact for your character's blog tour. Now, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know Panzer and I work together. So, two of these blogs are for your animal characters to blog about you. The first is Pets and Authors and the second is The Conscious Cat. For those of you who haven't seen the light and joined the animal kingdom yet, I have one blog for your human characters to do the blogging at Killer Characters.

Come on. You're supposed to be a writer. Get to work on that blog tour!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

B&N Ebook Bestseller List? Oh, Really?

Everywhere you go in the indie blogosphere over the last few days a lot of bloggers have been speculating about Barnes and Noble's bestseller ranking system. The speculation is that B&N's bestseller list has a $3.00 and below cutoff price point.

Which means what?

Well, apparently, the bestseller rankings may not be based on the number of ebooks sold, but, instead, on the price of those ebooks. That would mean the rankings are based on how much money you make, not how many ebooks you sell. Hmmm. When did the rules of the game change? And why weren't we told?

Not really a bestseller list, you say? Join the crowd. Read what Aaron Patterson has to say about this issue at THE WORST BOOK EVER!: B&N Must Hate Indie Authors! Or are they just out ...: " and then make up your own mind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Ebook Market: SNUBNOSE

The folks at Spinetingler Magazine are launching a new publishing venture called Snubnose Press.They'll be publishing dark fiction crime and horror ebooks. The word count will be 20 - 60,000 words.

Check out this new market for ebooks at the Snubnose Press site.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review of Cat Calls

Cat Calls by Cynthia Leitich Smith is not your average YA cat story.

The heroine, Tiffany, is spending the summer with her grandma. Grandma works in a "carnie" as a fortune teller and she's teaching Tiffany to be a fortune teller, too.

Everything seems to be working fine until one of the cutest cowboys Tiff has ever seen comes in to have his fortune told.  Then the fun begins.

Panzer's cousin Leo gives it a ten.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why You Should Keep Hard Copies of Your Ebooks

Unless you live under the proverbial rock, you've joined the digital age. You know how to write and save your newest literary masterpiece to your laptop and thumb drive. You even have a backup copy saved to the cloud.

You also know how to turn all those wonderful words into an ebook and send them off to Amazon and Smashwords. Your ebook can be read by everyone on Kindles, Nooks, and ereaders everywhere.

So, after all this work why am I telling to you to keep a hard (paper) copy of all your writing? It's a little thing called an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack (re: a nuclear attack). An EMP would destroy your digital data: kaput. All that work gone. But, with a paper copy no problem.

Interested in learning more?

Go to Why You Should Keep Hard Copies of Your Writings - GalleyCat .

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Help The Conscious Cat win the 2011 Pettie Award for Best Cat Blog

Let's help The Conscious Cat win the Pettie Award!

Go to  Help The Conscious Cat win the 2011 Pettie Award for Best Cat Blog
 to find out how and where to vote. 

Panzer would really appreciate help for his friends at The Conscious Cat!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

8 Ways to Develop Better Relationships with Book Bloggers

Driving readers to your ebook at Amazon takes more than just asking your relatives to go buy it (although that's a good move too!). Last month I blogged about Mommy Blogs as a marketing tool for your ebooks.

Getting those blog reviews for your indie pubbed ebook isn't always easy, but it is worth the time and effort. While one review might create a ripple, ten or twenty of the right reviews can create a tidal wave of readers buying your ebook.

This brings up the question of how do you approach a blogger and get a continuing relationship going with him or her? Here's 8 Ways to Develop Better Relationships with Book Bloggers
 to help you get started.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lilian Jackson Braun, R.I.P.

I learned the sad news earlier today that one of Panzer and my favorite cozy mystery authors died earlier this week. Lilian Jackson Braun, author of The Cat Who mysteries, died on June 4 at the age of 97 years.

The feline mystery books world lost a great writer.

You can read her obituary at Best Seller Lilian Jackson Braun Dies

Cats and Vintage Kitchen Cozy Mysteries Vote

Victoria Hamilton, author of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, is blogging about animals in mysteries. She's running a poll about whether or not you like animals in your mysteries.  Panzer would really appreciate it if you'd go cast your vote.

So, if you want to get your vote counted and make Panzer happy, hurry over to  Vintage Kitchen Cozy Mysteries: Animals in Mysteries. Your time is limited to vote and make Panzer happy.

Really, your vote is important. (And Panzer and his friends do know where you live.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Smashwords Three Year Retrospective

Smashwords has now been in existence for three years. Over those three years indie publishing has grown from a writer's dirty little secret to a worldwide phenomenon and Smashwords has been at the forefront.

Now a writer can upload their writing to Smashwords and sell it from there or, going through the Premium Catalog, use Smashwords as their distributor to Barnes & Nobles' Nook store, Kobo, Diesel, etc. That's quite a history for just three years.

If you're interested in the history of this growing industry, you can read about it at  Three Year Retrospective, and a Look Ahead

Can you tell I'm a big fan of Smashwords and what they've done for the writing community?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amazon Tags: The Good News & The Good News

When I started reading around the blogosphere about Amazon's missing tags, I wasn't too happy about their policy. Since I get review copies that don't show up as being purchased by me, their new policy precluded me from posting a review there. While Vincent Zandri has managed to track down the missing tagging position, I don't think this will allow to post my reviews there any more.

If you were wondering where the tags went when you went back to write a review after you bought a book at Amazon, go to Amazon Tags: The Good News & The Good News and follow the instructions.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

E-reads and Diesel Form Alliance

Richard Curtis, the president of the literary agency Richard Curtis Associates has announced the formation of a strategic alliance between his E-Reads publishing arm and the Diesel eBook Store.

Hmmm? Sounds a little funny to me. Apparently I'm not the only one wondering what's going on with this situation. Dean Wesley Smith gives his opinion of the announcement here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let's Talk Distribution For Your Ebook

There are so many different views on how to drive up the sales figures of your ebooks. You have your strategy and I have mine. Ask ten indie authors how they do it and you'll get ten different answers.

Guido Henkel is blogging about ebook distribution at his blog. I have to admit, he has an interesting distribution strategy to drive up his Amazon numbers and thereby his ranking. He advocates only selling through Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Kobo and not listing with any of the other sellers.

I'm not sure if I agree with him or not. Only time will tell if his strategy will work for him. And ... the operative words here are for him. Read about his strategy at Focussing your distribution and see if you think it might work for you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Murder At The Gardening Center or My Life Is A Joke

I was having trouble deciding how Kaitlin, my heroine, would find the body buried in the garden. I'd been wrestling with the problem for three days. I'd bounced ideas off various friends and relatives.

My best friend and I were shopping in the tools department at the local gardening center, when she asked, "Is Uncle Melwyn still buried in the flower bed in the backyard?"

When I turned to answer, I noticed a woman and her husband standing behind my friend. "Yes, he's still there," I said, reaching down to pick up a pair of pruning shears, "but Kaitlin hasn't found the body yet."

I heard a clatter and looked up to see the woman behind my friend had knocked over a garbage can full of  rakes. The woman grabbed her husband and pulled him away as fast as she could. My best friend mumbled at me, "Some people," as we picked up all the rakes and put them back in the can.

As my friend and I continued through the store, discussing ways Kaitlin might find the body, the woman and her husband appeared in every aisle. When we got to the checkout counter, the husband and wife team, holding one small plant, were in line right behind us.

After we checked out, loaded everything in my car and drove away, I saw the wife standing in the parking lot lane behind us. She had a piece of paper in her hand and was writing furiously.  My friend and I both started giggling because we just knew she was writing down my license plate number to give to the police.

© 2011 Fiona L. Woods