Category Archives: Writing Business

Interview with Liz Mugavero

You participate in a Facebook page and blog Wicked Cozy Authors.  I know lots of authors are struggling with time for writing vs marketing vs their lives.  What has been your experience with this group? 

Liz Mugavero PhotoI am very, very blessed to have the Wickeds in my life. We’re a very unique group of bloggers because we’re much more than that. We are friends, we are each other’s support system, we are sisters. We had been in the same New England writer circles for years, with varying degrees of knowing each other. And then most of us signed on with agent John Talbot in 2011/2012, and the blog was born. All six of us are now represented by John, and we all have one (some of us have two!) series under contract.

At that time most of us, with the exception of Jessie Crockett and Barbara Ross, hadn’t published any novels yet. We were all feeling out way, and it was so great to have friends along that crazy path!

The blog launched in May 2013, coinciding with the launch of my first book, and we’ve been going strong ever since. We were pretty much winging it when we first started out, but it’s been awesome. Now we’re in a groove with our schedules and planning, we have Wicked Accomplices who join us on a monthly basis, and best of all we have a brand. It’s so great going to conferences and having people say, “Hey! You’re a Wicked Cozy.” But again, the best part is that we are all friends, and I love these ladies.

Whats been the most surprising thing about being an author?

As a cozy writer whose books include recipes, I was quite surprised to find out how much people look forward to that part of the book. I don’t have a lot of time to cook (and I’d much rather read than cook in my spare time) so I never paid much attention to the recipes in books I’ve read. But I’ve had people email me about the recipes to tell me they’ve tried them and how much their pets enjoyed them, which has been really cool!

Author Links

Website | Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook

Purchase Links
Amazon Indie Bound B&N Book Depository

Whats the most recent book youve read?

My reading time has been severely diminished because of my upcoming deadlines. However, I did manage to sneak away long enough to read my fellow Wicked Cozy friend Sherry Harris’ debut, Tagged for Death, which was a fabulous read.

What was the first mystery book you remember reading (not necessarily a cozy- but a mystery)? What impression did it leave?

I don’t remember which one, but definitely a Nancy Drew book. I thought it was fabulous. What stood out the most was what a tough sleuth Nancy was. As a young girl, she used her intellect and her courage to solve puzzles and face down bad guys—and mostly did it on her own. I remember wanting to be Nancy as a kid. Later, I knew I wanted to write a female sleuth who was brave, smart and sassy too.

Icing on the Corpse CoverAre you a write every day, or a lock yourself up for a weekend type writer? Did you know you were a plotter or a pantser?  If you didnt have a sense of your work style right off the bat, how did you discover your best working method?

With my looming deadlines, I’m a write-as-many-days-as-possible writer. I do tend to lock myself away for the weekend too, just because it’s when I have the most time, as I work a day job during the week. As far as plotting vs. pantsing, I’ve always been a pantser, no matter how much I’ve tried to remedy that situation! I’ve always known that’s how I write, and I’m pretty okay with it. I do try to do more plotting these days just to save time, but things often end up taking their own turn anyway.

Are the animals in your books based on any of your own pets?

Nutty, the Maine coon cat who was the series inspiration, is based on my cat Tuffy, who was a stray in my neighborhood. Nutty has some health challenges in the books, which prompted Stan’s organic cooking and baking, but Tuffy is healthy. He’s also a star in his own right—he has a story in the anthology Rescued, released in January. Check it out: Here

Also in the books—a schnoodle named Scruffy. She is totally based on my schnoodle Shaggy. If you’re not familiar, schnoodles are a cross between a Schnauzer and a poodle, and they are the cutest dogs ever!

Whats your next book about?

The Icing on the Corpse, coming out later this month, is the third installment in the series. Here’s the blurb:

Kristan “Stan” Connor is thrilled to be invited to the Groundhog Day festivities in quirky Frog Ledge, Connecticut. Her organic, home-baked pet treats are a big hit at the annual celebration, though an important guest is curiously absent . . .

When Helga Oliver, the town’s elderly historian, is found crumpled in the basement of the Historical Museum, the close-knit town is devastated. But after some tenacious digging, Stan discovers Helga was pushed down the stairs—and that this picture-perfect New England town may hide some dark secrets . . .

Stan’s dogged determination reveals Helga’s ties to an unsolved death in 1948. But how does that connect to Adrian Fox, who’s just arrived in town to shoot an episode of Celebrity Ghost Hunters? Stan is going to have to be very careful in chasing down the killer—if she wants to live to see another winter . . .

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Greg Hickey Shares His Twitter Philosophy

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Greg retweeted in December “Writing means sharing. …” Lilac Reviews asked for Greg to share his thoughts about Twitter as an author’s tool.
Like many other writers, I think I’m just learning how to effectively use Twitter (and other social media) to market my work. The biggest thing for me is that I don’t want to come across differently on social media than I do in real life. Social media is not another persona for me; it’s me sharing my thoughts through a different platform than speech or formalized writing. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going up to a person on the street (or even a friend or family member) and telling him or her to buy my book, so I don’t want to do that on Twitter either.

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Review: Author Power

Author Lynn Isenberg / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 304 Pages

Cover Art Author Power

Generosity to the Extreme!

First off, I have to applaud this author for taking the time and effort to document what has worked for her and shared it with the rest of us. She didn’t asked us to pay hundreds to attend a seminar or sign up for an online course. She piled her experience, examples, tips and approach into a book any writer could afford. It is WELL worth this price and more. This will be a longish review because the content has so much to offer about the ‘business’ of writing. I think that is important.

Today’s authors are usually holding down a day job, attending to a family, putting time into their writing craft and also trying to learn about how to market their book with social media. Not all writers are born salesmen and promoting their own creative work is awkward for most. This book takes the promotional portion of a writing career to an entirely different level. It is very similar to product placement in the movies. I know what you are thinking. Where do I find time to learn and do that?

If writing isn’t just a hobby for you, if you want to make a career out of it and let go of that day job somewhere along the way, then you owe it to yourself to have a business plan. Branding yourself, your characters, and having multiple streams of income from your work are going to get you to your goals faster. Here’s just one priceless paragraph to help the writer:

“Okay, you’re about to call a complete stranger and ask them for money. Step back. Reframe. No. That’s not it. You’re about to call a really cool, creative person and forge a professional relationship and maybe even make a new friend. You’re going to ask them to believe in the opportunity you want to present to them, to read and consider your follow-up e-mail, and to invest in your idea. And maybe, if you can establish a professional friendship, it will turn into results you can imagine and some you can’t.”

I will admit that I think Lynn maybe had a head start compared to the rest of us. It seems with some of the name dropping and info about her previous career she may have already been around the entertainment industry and had a few contacts we may not have. Her character in her novels is also an entrepreneur, this may have made it a touch easier to associate an industry with her novels. However, we could all put this plan into place on some level. Maybe you don’t know a movie star, but the local weather man attends your church. Is there an opportunity there? Maybe you can’t land a national chain like 1-800 Flowers, but could you forge a 10% discount at a local restaurant for anyone that takes of picture of themselves with your book in hand? Maybe.

This author includes technical as well as inspirational content. There are examples of contact letters and emails, scripts for making phone calls, bullet lists of the benefits of sponsorship, examples of contracts for promotional agreements, sections on alternative marketing campaigns, and a resources section.

I think any author that intends on making income from their creative work needs to read this book. Hands down 5 stars.

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Interview with Denise Montcrief

Author Denise MoncriefWhat is a funny or embarrassing publishing story that you have?

Many, many years ago, I self-published a non-fiction book through a print on demand distributor. (No, I’m not going to tell the pen name or the book title. Some things just need to stay in the past. J ) This book was published back when print on demand was just taking off. The book had been available for months, I’m not sure how many, and sold quite a few copies before I realized the title was misspelled on the spine. Now, I always check the spine for typos.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The toughest criticism? I don’t know. I’ve had my share of negative comments just like any other author who has been around awhile. It comes with putting my work out in the public for commentary. Probably the hardest to take are the reviews that don’t really tell me why the reader disliked the book. The best compliment came from a reviewer of Deceptions of the Heart. The reviewer said the book was “unputdownable.” I love that, and that’s what I try to do, make my books unputdownable. Continue reading

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Interview with Lucinda Sue Crosby

Author of The Cancer Club shares with Lilac Reviews

You state that inspiration for this book is the life of Eren Ozker.  Did you meet her in person? 

Yes, I did. In fact, I can say she was one of the best friends I have ever encountered. She was of Turkish/American background and had 5 sisters, all of whom she was close to. She had been a stage and film actress in both NY and Los Angeles and was the first woman Muppeeteer Jim Henson ever hired. Later, she was also involved in getting puppeteers recognized by Screen Actor’s Guild and AFTRA.


Eren always reminded me of the Biblical Eve: full bodied, intelligent, dramatic, raven haired. She had an artistic/Bohemian nature and a wicked sense of humor. And she was the first cultured and well- read person who was a real fan of my writing. I admired her, respected her and loved her dearly. I still think of her often.

How did you come to know her (if it wasn’t specifically interview for this work).

I met Eren through the man I was living with at the time, Michael Norrell, who broke into show biz as a stage and TV actor. After morphing into a writer of teleplavs and screen plays, he created “The Love Boat” and won many awards for TV movies wrote like “Bingo Long and the Travelling All-Stars” starring Dermot Mulroney and “Barnum” starring Burt Lancaster.” One of Michael’s best friends was well-known character actor William “Bill” Bogert – and Eren was married to Bill.

How did you come to find out about the Next Best Fiction Author Contest?

A friend of mine sent me the link to check out. I am so glad I did!

How did you find your cover artist? Did you already have an idea for the cover?  Did the artist read the book to make suggestions?

I came up with the idea of the cover myself. It had to reference cancer, celebrating and tropical vacation climes. Plus it HAD to include a wig. I put together some clip art images and sent them to my business partner, Laura Dobbins, who is an ex newspaper reporter and managing editor with tons of writing and design experience. (She has won over 23 journalism awards, some for page design.) She was the one who put all the elements together. GREAT JOB.

Many new authors are struggling with juggling their writing time with marketing and PR tasks.  If you could only pass on 1 tip to get the best mileage for your time and money, what one thing should be at the top of their marketing approach?

After deciding to go with Amazon, too few authors take advantage of all the free advertising that book selling behemoth makes available. For example, there are several places during the account set up and manuscript uploading process where Amazon asks you for “key words” – words and phrases to describe your book’s category and sub categories. Amazon uses these words and phrases to help people who are searching for a product like yours FIND YOUR PRODUCT! Most newbies don’t bother to take advantage of this … big mistake.

Tell us a little about your next project?

I currently contribute regularly to two magazines in the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area: “Prime Time” and Desert Entertainer.” Laura and I just released a book marketing book on Amazon called “Advanced Kindle Book Marketing.” And I am on the first rewrite of what will be my 3rd novel: “The Scroll of the Son of Heaven” which takes place in China in the 1600s and centers around a war lord named Li Tze-Cheng (who actually existed) who took on and defeated the armies of China’s Emperor.

Felita, Thanks for this opportunity!

The Cancer Club:: a crazy, sexy, inspirational novel of survival Continue reading

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Bloglovin & Other Goals

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I’m trying to get some more bells and whistles working on the blog (especially since Facebook is changing up some things there).

More things I plan for 2015:

  • I hope to add a mailing list function soon.  Being on the mailing list will put everyone in the running to win a book.  I will start out giving a book per month away.
  • I want to seek out more vendors/providers of promotional and swag items to write up some informational posts.  I’m using my tablet daily.  So what would be an ‘updated’ version of a bookmark? A lot of new authors are needing help in how to promote their brand and where to find the tools and products to do that.
  • I also want to learn how to use Twitter a little better.  I opened an account, but I haven’t even figured out how to get in on the hashtag categories.
  • I would like to go to a blogging conference in 2015 (close enough to Knoxville, TN to drive).  I feel I might be able to learn a great deal in a live environment with classes/sessions.

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10 Things I Learned Since I Started Writing

Guest Blog Post By Anne Tibbets

  1. Your process is your process and it’s not anybody else’s process. So, don’t judge how others work (how fast, how slow, with outlines, or without, etc.) and hopefully they won’t judge you for yours.
  2. We’re all on the same team. There’s no sense in getting jealous of someone Author, Anne Tibbetselse’s success. Just be patient, and work your ass off. Your turn will come.
  3. It’s about writing books but it’s also about selling books. Publishers are not non-profit organizations. They’re in this to make money. Presumably, you’d like to make money, too. So, be sure to write. Yes. Writing first. But, also do everything in your power to sell books, too.
  4. Be professional with your relationships. Your agent is your business partner and your editor is your collaborator – not your therapist, parent, or spouse. You don’t own their lives. Don’t monopolize them. Be courteous. Be polite. Poke when you need to, nicely. They’ll appreciate you more if they don’t have to carry you and hold your hand over every bump in the road.
  5. Know that there are bumps in the road. LOTS. You’ll write books that won’t get offers of representation and/or published. You’ll write books that will get represented/published but don’t sell well. You’ll write books that publish, sell well, then stop selling and go out of print. You’ll get discouraged. You’ll threaten to quit and become a Medical Lab Tech like in those commercials you see on daytime TV. Bumps are a part of the journey. Accept it now. It’s a roller coaster. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Try to enjoy the ride.
  6. Find other writer friends. They are on the same ride as you. And as we know, roller coasters are more fun with your best buddy screaming right beside you.
  7. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever respond to reviews. Ever. Never ever. EVER. Got it?
  8. Don’t say stupid stuff on Twitter.
  9. In the words of Kenny Rogers: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.” This is true of manuscripts. Not every word you right should be published. Some manuscripts are best left to die. If you’ve rewritten the same book for 10 years, and it still hasn’t had an offer of representation or publication, it’s time to move on.
  10. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.

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Mistakes Authors Make When Querying Agents & Publishers

Guest Post by Andrea Hurst (Author and Literary Agent)

Author Andrea Hurst Photo

Her published books include Always With You, The Guestbook, The Lasy Dog’s Guide to Enlightenment and Everybody’s Natural Food Cookbook, and she co-authored A Book of Miracles.

Squeezing an entire manuscript into a 250 word query letter is a challenge for writers when seeking an agent. No perfect form exists for query letters, but there are common mistakes every aspiring author should avoid. These are five of the most prevalent:

1) Failing to Address the Agent

A mistake that has most agents deleting your query before they read it is, rather simply, failing to address the query to a specific agent. This occurs at an alarming rate and can blow a hole in your dream of becoming an author. Agents understand and encourage writers to submit a query to several agents—just, not in the same email. Each agent should receive an individual, personalized query. The email should not have ten, five, or even two recipients, just one. It should also be addressed:

Dear First Name Last Name (both spelled correctly!),

Do not address the query to “Dear Agent”. If you want to show an agent you’ve done your research, then adjust the letter to him/her. Tell the agent why you are querying them specifically. Doing the research may take some time, but it is worth the effort.  Continue reading

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Author Interview with Evelyn Cullet

Evelyn Cullet is the author of Once Upon a Crime

Evelyn Cullet PhotoIn writing mysteries, do you have the villain and motive and work backwards, or do you start at the beginning with the setting and detective and go forward?

Since I don’t usually have an outline for the story until after I’ve written the first or second chapter, I have to start at the beginning and move forward. I know there are writers who do work backwards, but I find that a little too difficult. Although I do sometimes write chapters out of sequence.

I assume you enjoy reading mysteries.  What type (locked room police procedural, cozy, female detective, etc.) do you prefer and why?

I love to read cozy mysteries, mostly with female detectives–Sherlock Holmes being the exception–because there are no gory, repulsive or graphic descriptions of crimes or of crime scenes. I don’t like to read them and I don’t enjoy writing them.

What has been the biggest surprise to you in terms of the ‘business’ end of being a writer?

The biggest surprise to me is how time-consuming and expensive marketing is.

What web sites help you with your research and writing in general?

There are many wonderful websites I’ve used for writing and research over the years. I couldn’t possibly mention them all, but here are a few:

Sisters In Crime is great for everything that has to do with writing.

Jeni Chappelle, writing coach and editor, has a wonderfully informational website.

The “She Writes” website has many good articles on writing and book promotion.

I did a great deal of online research for my second novel, Masterpiece of Murder, and the best place I’ve found for that is Google.

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Handling Negative Reviews

Guest Post by Ryan Hill, Author of Dead New World

The rule of thumb for writers is to avoid reviews at any cost. Just don’t look at them. If you’re Gillian Flynn or JK Rowling and get thousands of them, it’s easy to do that. For those of us who haven’t sold a few million books, reviews can be important. They help get the word out about your work, exposing it to people who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of it. This is HUGE. On Amazon, if a book gets enough reviews, it gets bumped into an algorithm that exposes it to more people. Reviews can be great. Sadly, they can also be negative.

Negative reviews can hurt. A lot. A writer spends so much time slaving over a manuscript, making sure it’s ready to submit out to agents or publishers. If accepted, the writer then is faced with several more months of editing. When it’s all said and done, a writer may spend almost two years working to get just one novel published. It’s hard to put that kind of commitment into something, and then read a review where someone says “This is drivel. Terrible writing. This stinks. Blah blah blah.” To dismiss something as if it were nothing hurts. A lot. At least, it can hurt.

Negative reviews are a fact of life. People are going to know a writer’s work for an infinite number of reasons. Maybe they’re jealous. Maybe the book touched a nerve in the reviewer that made them uncomfortable. Or, maybe they genuinely disliked the book. It happens. And it’s not up to a writer to worry about it. Most writers can be insecure (myself included), which makes a bad review that much more difficult to get over. But it can be done.

When I get a negative review, the first thing I do is laugh. Period. I laugh at the review. Sometimes, if I think it’s an especially ridiculous review, I’ll copy and paste snippets to my friends, so they can share in the laughter. Then, I put it out of my mind. What’s one bad review among, say, ten? That means 90% of the people who read your book really liked it. That’s a pretty good number, don’t you think?

Also, to even get to a point where your work is published, a writer has to go through an endless amount of rejection. Agents, publishers, contests, etc. will have all told a writer no several times before they reach that elusive yes. Even Harry Potter got rejected 32 times (or so. Too lazy to look it up.). So, as a writer, you should be used to rejection. Yes, it’s a little different, since this is the public trashing your novel, so more people see it, but the principle remains the same. Even during edits with a publisher, a writer will have to deal with criticism (at least constructive criticism). It’s okay. And here’s why:

  • People can say whatever they want about a book you wrote. They’ll NEVER be able to take away the fact that YOU WROTE SOMETHING A PERSON LIKED ENOUGH TO PUBLISH. That is a massive achievement!
  • Some people may leave a negative review without reading the entire book. This is extremely bad form, and not worth anyone’s time, especially the writer’s. The others… well, on the bright side, THEY READ YOUR ENTIRE BOOK. That’s a good thing!
  • Haters gonna hate. That’s what they do. It’s a part of life, accept it, and move on. Nobody needs to dwell on negativity in their life.
  • YOU’RE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR AND WHOMEVER WROTE A NEGATIVE REVIEW PROBABLY ISN’T. In short…YOU WIN.
  • So… smile! While you’re working on getting another book published, that person is working on another negative review. Ask yourself this: which person would you rather be?

About the Author

Author Ryan HillGrowing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.
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