Tag Archive for: digital publishing

Mystery and Romance Authors – How Many Books Should You Publish?


Antique Underwood Typewriter and Calla Lilies

Social media has swept instant and fleeting tidings over
us – the expectation of continuous news snippets. I wondered how this impacts the work of authors. In doing research, I found
an interesting quote from Donna Tartt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of

an expectation these days that novels – like any other consumer product
should be made on a production line, with one dropping from the conveyor belt
every couple of years.”

Every couple of years? I was astounded. Quite a few authors, including New York
Times bestselling ones produce at least one book a year, such as Stephen King, Danielle
Steel, Harlan Coben, and Jeffery Deaver. I also know writers who publish four
books a year – and happen to be USA Today bestselling authors. Probably none of
the ones I’m thinking of will be honored with a Pulitzer, but they are
satisfying their fan base by penning multiple novels per year.

Antique Printing Press

It gives the aphorism “publish or perish” a whole new
meaning. The impact on genre authors to keep
publishing new books increases
their fan base, improves their rankings on Amazon, and sustains their
visibility among readers within their genres.

Yet The Goldfinch author takes ten years
(that’s right – a full decade!) to write a novel. A literary genius, Tartt has
fans across the globe. Plus, she’s backed by big publishing houses and their
gargantuan budgets, here and abroad.

Most of us who write genre would “perish” if we only produced
one novel every ten years.

Selling novels boils down to two basic issues:

A. Storytelling writing a compelling and fascinating

B. Markets how these “consumer products” that Tartt
mentions are advertised and distributed.

In 2018, more than 1.6 million books (both print and eBook
with registered ISBNs) were published in the US alone. You can dismiss a
portion of these as coming from aspiring writers or people doing a memoir for
family purposes. But the point is made
the diversity of choices for readers
contributes to the difficulty new authors encounter when trying to distinguish themselves
in a crowded market.

Despite the intense competition, I would not for a minute give
up my writing! It’s the most satisfying, and craziest, endeavor I’ve ever done.

Care to
share how you distinguish your novels in the crowded market?


credits: Kathryn Lane for Antique Underwood Standard Typewriter, Printed page
flying off antique printing press; Bobbye Marrs for Nikki Garcia Trilogy

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a
living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in
international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two
decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and
suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from
her Mexican background as well as her travels
in over ninety countries.



If I knew then…

Someone recently asked me the one thing I wish I’d known
before being published.
I thought back to 2014, the year I first signed a contract.
I was beyond excited, so full of happiness my feet didn’t touch the ground for
I signed my name to contracts with blissful abandon.
I don’t mean to suggest I signed without reading the
contract, but I was so new to publishing, I didn’t understand the myriad
ramifications of my name on that signature line.
Here I am five years older, five years wiser.
I wish I’d known I’d be running a small business. My
products are books. And, if I want readers to find my books, I must market
them. Like most new authors, I believed my publisher should take that role (my
husband still believes publishers should do that).
My first mystery, The Deep End, released in 2015.
That first release, I waited for a confetti cannon. Instead
of confetti, the universe responded with a
Still, my publisher was pleased and told me, “Keep writing.” The second release
was worse than the first. A bigger
less confetti, fewer sales. My publisher told me, “Second books seldom do as
well as debuts.”
That would have been great information to have as I managed
my expectations.
The releases have steadily improved since that second book.
I have a theory about that.
Traditional publishing companies push their latest
books—thrillers for the holidays, beach books for summer, romances for
Valentine’s Day.
I push The Deep End. I believe that once readers meet
Ellison Russell, revisit (or visit) the 1970s, and fall in love with her
extended family, they’ll keep reading.
Recently the Country Club Murders (The Deep End is
the first book in the series) surpassed 100,000 books sold.
I love spending my days spinning stories. I like editing. I
love engaging with readers. All things I expected when I took the first steps
down this path. Knowing more about Facebook ads and AMS than most marketing
executives? Let’s call that a bonus. Or a curse. Tomato-tomahto.
Five years from now, I may be writing another
I-wish-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now blog. Lord only knows what mistakes I’ll
make, but at least I’ll make them doing something I love.

Ode to a Library

Ode to a Library

By Cathy Perkins

When was the last time you visited your local library? 

Libraries have been around for a long, long time. The earliest
libraries date back to 2600 BC. Yes, that’s Before
we started counting time forward a couple of thousand years ago in the Western World. While we’ve ditched
hundreds of ideas and customs as passé,
in the digital age libraries are still in style. More than in style, they’ve
adapted to the rise of ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, there are several great
ways you can access my books from your local public library without leaving the
comfort of your favorite reading chair. How great is that?!
My books are available to libraries via Overdrive, a
leading digital distribution platform. Overdrive supplies the industry’s
largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to
38,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. 
(Here’s the OverDrive link for So About the Mone https://www.overdrive.com/media/2496957/so-about-the-money)

Other upcoming services
include Bibliotheca, an
up-and-coming library-oriented option for acquiring digital content. Your
library can request an author’s book through this program as an alternative—or in
addition to—OverDrive. 
These digital access programs mean anyone with a library card can remotely
check out an ebook or audiobook if your library owns a copy of the book. After
a reader borrows a particular title (say, my Holly Price novel So About the Money), it automatically
goes to their reading device through OverDrive. Since “my” libraries are forty-five
minutes and two hours away by Interstate, browsing through my phone is a lot
easier than driving to the physical building! Instead, the requested book shows
up on my e-reader in moments.
If you’re new to OverDrive you can sign up HERE. Signing up is a quick process and allows you to customize your
experience by choosing your preferred genres. You can even opt-in to receive
book recommendations. You need a library card to access books using OverDrive.
I have two library cards (yes, more is better
😉 ) and both libraries appear in my OverDrive account.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, here are several ways that you
can take advantage of this terrific library resource.

OverDrive recommends the Libby app for public library users. I admit, I eyed the
app skeptically at first. Why mess with what’s working beautifully for me? Libby
is a free app that streamlines the virtual borrowing process and lets you get
those books from the library straight to your device. Best of all, Libby is
compatible with Android, iOS, or Windows 10, and is one of the easiest ways to
access library books on your devices.  

The original OverDrive
 may be a better option for you if your library isn’t public,
if you are using an older device, or you want to read on your computer (Windows
or Mac). This app also has some great features to personalize your reading
experience, such as adjustable font size (which I love for reading in bed at
night without reading glasses), highlighting favorite passages, and a bookmark


Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it? Now before you start borrowing my
Holly Price Mystery Series, here are a few things about how
requesting ebooks from the library system works:
1.    The
authors’ and publishers’ responsibility is to make books available to the
libraries. We have no control over whether your library will stock my books,
unfortunately. Wish we did!
If your local library doesn’t stock my books, sometimes simply
asking your librarian to get them for you will be enough. Librarians are
resourceful people! Once requested, the library can request a book for purchase
or loan through Overdrive or Bibliotheca.
You need a library card to use your library, whether you are reading
ebooks or listening to audiobooks on your devices, or physically checking out “tree
books” from the library. Ask your local library about their card policies. (For example, one of my library cards is free. I pay an annual fee to use a larger regional library since I live outside their city limits.)
While OverDrive is available at most public libraries, there are
still some libraries that are not connected to the program. You can check to
see if OverDrive is available at your library 

Wrapping up

Libraries are a great way to keep on top of your TBR pile without
breaking the bank. At my libraries, I hunt for new to me authors or download favorite
authors when the publisher prices the ebook at $14.99 (yikes!) 
Digital loans are eco-friendly. No trees harmed in their production. 😉
And an additional benefit? No late fees! (Yay!) Not through
reading/listening to the book at the end of the loan period? Simply request it again.
So grab your library card and find out how easy it is to enjoy a slew of library books (including all of mine!) from the comfort of your sofa. 

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She’s hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Killer Nashville Claymore Award. 

Digital Publishing

By Bethany Maines
Recently, I’ve been learning about the nitty gritty “how-to”
of e-publishing.  While there are many
how-to’s on how to put your story up for sale in the virtual marketplace,
learning how to make an epub file is a lot more difficult and confusing. 
As someone trained in how to make print books, this status
is infuriating to me.  I can make words
magically appear on paper – why is the screen any more difficult?  But as it turns out epub formatting is more
akin to website programming than to traditional book design.  Both epub and websites must account for the
fact that the designer can never be certain on what or how the end user will view
their product.  Will it be on a phone, a
tablet, or a desktop screen?  Will it be
a horizontal or vertical?  Which
operating system will be accessing the file? 
All of these factors play into how an e-book is seen and creating a file
that can be used in ANY format means that many of the traditional design
elements beloved by graphic designers, such as color, size, and forced white
space, must be set aside. Learning to create an epub is a bit like feeding
content into a slot in the wall, letting the machine in the next room whir away,
and then trying to guess how the machine works by looking at the book it
In the last few years website programming has experienced a
burst of development that can make creating a website an almost drag and drop, WYSISWYG
experience.  Meanwhile, digital publishing
lags behind, still in it’s infancy. 
Take a look at these images of the first page of my third
Carrie Mae Mystery novel, High-Caliber Concealer.  One is a screen cap from a mobile phone
kindle app and the other is a photo of the printed book.

You’ll notice several differences – the large area of white
space before the chapter title is gone and the fonts are not the same.  Fonts in epub’s must utilize a websafe font
or embed the font within the file.  But,
not all devices recognize embedded fonts, and they make a file larger and some
platforms take a percentage out of an author’s royalty based on download size
(you’re hogging space on their server).

However, there are some similarities that the programmer
managed to achieve.  Notice how the gap
between “Brunch” and “Mexico” mimics the print version?  And you’ll see that while the font isn’t the
same, the font hierarchy and general sizing of the chapter information is the
same as the print version. 
And beyond the appearance of words on a screen there is the
tricky business of making all the chapters appear in the right order and having
a hyper-linked (click and go) table of contents that allow readers to navigate
easily through the book. 

No digital book is as simple as a word doc you type at
home.  So if you see a well-crafted book
on your e-reading device, take a moment to appreciate the book programmer!  
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.