Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Stroke of Marketing Genius!

I know why the Mona Lisa smiles.  She knows the other secret about THE DAVINCI CODE.

And today I'm going to let you in on this little writer's secret and unmask the marketing mastery created by Dan Brown and his publisher, Simon and Schuster, as I'm in awe of the approach they're taking in bringing thousands of new readers to his wildly successful "Robert Langdon" series.

You see, they're now offering up his best seller, THE DAVINCI CODE,  FREE to readers as an e-book for a week leading up to his new release later this spring, INFERNO.

In case you've wondered, yes I have already pre-ordered this book, as I've been missing the symbologist who looks like "Harrison Ford in Harris Tweed".

I personally can't recall a best-selling author taking this approach, but I have to admit it is marketing genius.  DAVINCI was released ten years ago (March 18, 2003) and there's one book released later in the series (THE LOST SYMBOL), which was good, but nowhere near the amazing journey that was THE DAVINCI CODE.  So what's the best way to make people all over the world stand up and take notice of a good writer?  Offer up a previous work that unleashed untold ass-kickery and bring it to readers at a cost of $0.00.

As of this week, in Amazon e-book rankings, it's at number two, but has been bouncing back and forth between #1 and #2, and that's tremendous.  Over eighty million copies of the book were previously sold, and now it's in re-circulation reaching new readers and I guarantee when INFERNO hits the marketplace, it's going to break more records.

Last week I did a little experiment.  I asked a few of my friends if they'd read the book, and a few said yes and another few said no.  I then told the ones who had not read the book that it was available for free, and within 24 hours, two of my friends told me they'd downloaded the book and were reading it.  So you've got a powerful motivator folks.  Word of mouth.  One person downloads the monster best-seller for free and then tells their friends.  It never stops rolling.  It will be interesting to see if THE DAVINCI CODE will still be offered free past this week.  We'll wait and see what happens.

And this brings us to another bonus to the DAVINCI marketing strategy.  It's a great way to generate excitement for the new release and get even the old readers to re-read the decade-old book.  I ought to know....I did it.

I will admit, I loved THE DAVINCI CODE when it came out so long ago, and was one of the millions of Americans who stood in line at a movie theater on opening night hoping that the movie studios would do the book justice (and it was good).  And that nostalgia for a controversial thriller combined with a large dose of adventure is what made me pick up the book and read it again.

We can all learn a wise lesson from this mighty publisher and author whose sword is his pen, and that is to recycle, recycle, recycle.  This is a wonderful idea that's become a notion as of late, where authors will offer their first book free and then charge for the subsequent books in the series, but the same concept can work if you are already a published author.  Can you think of a better way to get your name and your style out there than to offer up one of your older works for free as a lead-up to a new release?

A good book will always be a sought-after treasure for those on a quest for a great read.

As for me, I've completed THE DEATH BROKERS and am now on a quest to also turn my Evil Little Manuscript into a magnificent adventure series, but plan to throw in something different (a paranormal thriller) before completing the second book. Shhh!  Let's keep it on the down-low.

Best wishes to Mr. Brown and I hope INFERNO breaks records, because it will leave readers breathless and eager to find another great adventure laced with controversy.

Now you tell do you feel about  the giving away one of your books for free phenomenon?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, March 22, 2013

And the Lucky Winners Are...

All three of the writers who were so kind as to enter~  Michelle4laughs, T.J. and 77Yankees!

Since there were few entrants in the contest and I was originally going to award one winner a $10 Amazon gift card to Amazon, I couldn't possibly draw a name from among the 3 entrants, so for five more smackeroos, I chose to spend $15 and award each entrant a $5 gift card from Amazon for participating.

Like the old saying goes, it's better to give than to receive, and what better gift to give than a book.

May you find something beautiful to read that fills your heart with joy.  
Thank you for your support.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A St. Patty's Day Prize to Win & Author Interview with Jean Oram!

So, are you feeling lucky today?
Top o' the morning to you my friends!  Hope you're having a wonderful weekend and know that with spring finally in the air you may be looking for a good read, right?

Well let's make that happen today because my friend, author Jean Oram is walking over right now for a visit on my virtual front porch. I'm pouring the sweet tea now.

So consider yourself lucky, because one reader will will a $10 Amazon gift card, but everyone who drops by will win the code to download for FREE today's featured book, by my fabulous friend, Jean Oram!  All you’ve got to do is comment at the bottom and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Standard Time (better known as Hotlanta time) on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:59 p.m.  Just feel free to leave a thoughtful, side-splitting, slightly-twisted, or sardonic musing.  And of course, only one comment per entrant please!  Winner will be drawn from screen names of all entrants who comment and make it in before the deadline.  I will award an imaginary bonus point if you mention my upcoming birthday in your comment, but it will not help you out whatsoever in the drawing.  Just sayin'.  

As you know, one site I frequent is Agent Query Connect, which I consider one of the top social networking  groups for authors, and fully embraces the art of our craft.

Not quite 2 years ago when I joined A.Q.C., I got to know Jean Oram, one of their fabulous moderators and we became fast friends.  She's witty, supportive, and has a wealth o' knowledge about the publishing industry, and has decided to expand her literary horizons (and humor) into the chick-lit genre.  Now I've already downloaded it and read a few chapters and can say, I'm predicting CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS is going to be engaging in some serious genre ass-kickery while climbing the charts.

Beth's got a big problem and a big dress to match.
While I primarily read thrillers and science fiction, every now and then I love a good light-hearted, romantic read and was delighted when I found out Jean was going to write her own book!  In our messaging back and forth, she always makes me laugh and I knew if Jean wrote a book like this, that readers would truly be in for a treat, and she certainly doesn't disappoint.  Trust me, I downloaded CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS on my fancy-schmancy new "phablet" (You could say I made up this word over on twitter.) two days ago and have had a blast reading the first few chapters.

Now if you will, join me in welcoming Jean to my virtual front porch on this warm southern Saturday (71 degrees!  Feel freee to envy Hotlantans today).

*Hands Jean a virtual glass of sweet tea.*

J.O.:  Thanks, Joey. Being St. Patrick's Day weekend, I love that you made the iced tea green. (You wouldn't believe how many birthday cakes I've had with green icing on them--my birthday is St. Patrick's Day. But what has always surprised me is how many cards there are out there for St. Patrick's Day birthdays. I don't think I've ever received the same card twice!) 

Nothing like a glass of sweet tea on a beautiful day.  Glad you could stop by.  Now I have to tell you, I'm loving CHAMPAGNE AND LEMON DROPS, but before I even opened your book, I had to stop and gawk at the fan-freaking-tastic cover.  Pardon me if you will, I think we should give a shout-out to our mutual friend Cali MacKay, best-selling author and cover designer for that great cover. (Covers by Cali) One look at that and  it's clear you're going to have good time and a great read.  So tell us if you will, how the title and cover describes the plight of your main character Beth (who's hilarious!) and a little more about her issues.

J.O.:  Yes! Cali did an AMAZING job on the cover. In fact, it helped me reshape the book. A few months ago I thought I was ready to publish Champagne and Lemon Drops. (It was actually Caviar and Lemon Drops back then, but Cali, with help from Jemi Fraser, convinced me to change it to Champagne. Those are two smart ladies!) Anyway, Cali created this amazing cover for me and at times it helped me focus in on what I wanted my book to be as I went through two grueling rounds of deep edits and rewrites (where I questioned everything from my sanity to my ability to write) to get the book where I wanted it to be.

The title ties in to the love triangle Beth finds herself in. Basically, she has never had what she considers real family and that is the one thing she wants more than anything else: family and that sense of belonging to something bigger than just herself. This story is set in the small town of Blueberry Springs and Beth is a small town girl in love with a small town man (Oz) who needs a break from their relationship. During the relationship's break she befriends a hunky city doctor (Nash) who opens Beth's eyes to who she could be if she desired. In the end she finds herself torn between the life she's always wanted and the life she never dreamed was possible. Both are great options. Basically, Beth has to choose between champagne which is a sophisticated, acquired taste (the new man who is ready to wed), or lemon drops which everyone likes even when if have to pick lint off of them (her old flame who has some issues).

I’m curious, have you ever had a friend in real life go through similar circumstances as the main character?  Now It goes without saying weddings are stressful (I’m a relative newlywed, having been married almost three years now myself and remember what we had to go through!), but having to go through what Beth did is a far bigger nightmare!

J.O. : I have slipped little pieces of real life (mine) into the story such as the lint on the lemon drops (I had a friend's grandfather I 'adopted' as a kid who always had lemon drop candies in his pocket and we'd have to pick the lint off before we enjoyed them.) But as for Beth's whole wedding fiasco, as far as I know that hasn't happened to anyone--at least I hope not! However, I have had to make a choice between two great men before. (You can read about that story I shared with the book's release on my Love Bug blog: )

What are you currently reading now and are there any other projects you're working on? 

J.O. :  I just finished "The Museum of Broken Hearts" by chick lit author Talli Roland--such a cute story (and it's free!)--as well as "Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova for book club. Right now I'm eying up "Shopaholic and Baby" which my kids gave me for Christmas.
As for other projects, I'm working on book 2 of the Blueberry Springs series which will be called "Whiskey and Gumdrops" and tracks Mandy as she tries to find love after the man she's been chasing for years finally weds--and it isn't to her. I'll be keeping track of my word count with other writers on Twitter using the #80KHotFoot hashtag. It should be a ton of fun. (You can follow my progress on Twitter--I'm @jeanoram LINK: ) I plan to have book 2 out this fall (2013).

Will your readers get a return trip to Blueberry Springs anytime soon?  Is a follow-up on the horizon? Dish!

J.O.:  As well as Mandy's story which will be released this fall, I have two other stories I have written in the past which I plan to rewrite to make them part of the Blueberry Springs series. There will be Jen's story--she is a nature guide who accidentally causes a forest fire--and then falls in love with the fire inspector who could pretty much destroy her life! And there will also be Amber's story whose first 50 pages made it into the final round in the WeBook challenge and received a 5 out of 5 by a literary agent. Those two books are currently scheduled to be released in 2014 and, if you like Champagne and Lemon Drops--which is free in all formats over on Smashwords, please sign up for my mailing list ( ) as I will email you updates on the book's releases as well as share sneak peeks, deleted scenes, giveaways, and more.

Which authors have influenced your style and evolution as a writer?

J.O.:  I LOVE Meg Cabot. I love her simplicity, style, humor, and directness. That woman can make backstory a fun romp! (For example: her Heather Wells series.) Basically, I would love to be like Meg Cabot when I grow up. Although, my style has also been likened to Jennifer Weiner who is another of my heroes. So, basically, I would say that the books in the Blueberry Springs series are like if Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner sat down and wrote what was in my head.

And finally, have you ever found a four leaf clover before?
J.O.:  Only once. And I have spent HOURS looking. I still have that 4-leafer. My mom, however, is AMAZING at finding four-leaf clovers. I'll be looking and looking and she has literally gone, "Oh here's one! Oh, look another! How lucky is that?" It turns out she is very lucky. ;) I do have small collection of shamrock jewellery though. That's another thing people like to give St. Patty's Day birthday people. :) In fact, I'll snap a picture and post it on my author Facebook page so your readers can see this stuff actually exists!
Thanks for having me Joey, and wishing your readers a happily ever after! (And if you don't see one on your horizon, check out Beth's! It's a wild rollercoaster romp to happily ever after: )

Good luck to everybody and don't forget to download her free book on Smashwords!  Feel free to comment away and hope everyone finds their lucky charm this weekend.  Or some green beer.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

So What ARE Writers Like In Real Life? Let's Bust Some Myths!

Mrs. Smith (from three doors down) is walking to your house with a plate of gooey, warm, chocolate chip cookies in hand.  Suddenly, she's stopped in the driveway by your next door neighbor, wild-eyed and speaking in hushed tones.
next door neighbor :  "Wait, don't go over there."
Mrs. Smith:  "Why not?"
next door neighbor:  "Her husband John, well, how do I put this...he's a writer."
Mrs. Smith:  "A writer?  You don't say."
next door neighbor:  "Yes.  And while he seems normal on the surface, you know, going to and from work, it's his late nights that scare us."
Mrs. Smith:  "How so?"
next door neighbor:  "Sometimes through an open window, we hear him laughing to himself for hours, and then he talks in funny voices, like he's got multiple personalities.  He's sick that one.  Just plain sick!"
Mrs. Smith:  (Gasps & drops cookies) 

We've all endured the long-standing myths that surround the mystique of being a writer, and while we may be a motley crew,
No, not THAT kind of motley crue
 we're pretty much like everybody else you'd meet, except for one big thing.

We have overactive imaginations.  

Now that's out of the way, I feel it's time we collectively discuss the crazy myths people believe about writers.

Myth 1:  Writers overly partake of the vine.

I personally don't know any writer in real life who has a liver the size of Wrigley Field due to excessive gin-swilling.  It's a myth.  Get over it.

From "The Lost Weekend", the film that started all this crap.
Myth 2:  We regularly jump about in fountains for fun.
Centennial Olympic Park's fountains light up the night!

Thanks F. Scott.  Thanks a lot for this one.

Now while writers don't specifically go around doing this, there is nothing wrong with jumping into a perfectly fine fountain on a hot day.  I myself, have walked barefoot & splashed in the fountains above at Centennial Olympic Park during a ninety-plus degree day in Hotlanta.  

But I wouldn't say I did that because my super-duper creative personality or "the muse" made me do it.  Hell it was hot, and I was sweating bullets walking through the park.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  But no, I didn't wade into the water because it's something a writer is supposed to want to do.  This myth is also busted.

Myth 3:  Writers must love Ramen noodles.  It is said we eat Ramen noodles all day & splurge on  weekends dining on 'sketti & butter.  After all, when one becomes a writer, they enter the "starving artist" phase of life, right?

Okay, while the myth is silly, there is a little truth to the innuendo as most writers don't earn big bucks doing what they love.

For the most part, the writers I know support themselves and their families with their proverbial "day job". And I for one, love my day job!  It keeps my mind sharp and I love helping people and solving the mystery as to what's making them sick.  (Any wonder I write in suspense/thriller genre?)  

Look, we'd all love to make millions writing, but the truth is very few writers make a ton of money, so we do what we can to support our families and the hobby/would-be profession we love.  As for me, I write mostly at night or on weekends.  And I do not eat Ramen noodles.  Never have, never will.  Too salty.

Which brings me to the next myth...which apparently happens after we exit the "starving artist" phase of our would-be careers.

Myth 4:  Once published,  writers become filthy-rich celebrities!

Fifty shades of NO!

Look, if my manuscript gets published, I won't hold my breath waiting for Oprah to call.  I can also entertain fantasies involving offers from either The Science Channel or Bravo to star in a reality show based upon my uncanny ability to write a book based on obscure scientific or crime-related topics, but I realize that is probably not gonna happen.

And here's another secret.  We don't write for the bucks, we do it because we love telling great stories.

I know this whole dream is an uphill battle, but it's a war I'm willing to fight.  My sword is my pen and my shield is the thick thesaurus sitting by my laptop.  Bring it on!

Therefore, please be nice to your writer friends.  They have dreams, and most of them will have theirs crushed.  Send them chocolate and flowers, or just smile and pat them on the back.  Or you could take them out for an afternoon of fountain-jumping and booze-swilling.

After all, you know what we like to do, right? (wink)

But damn, it sure would be nice to be one of the ones who do make it.  If I did sell bazillions of books, you can bet I'd re-enact this scene over and over in real life just for fun (and to be rather annoying).  Except my driver would be an ex-special forces guy who could really inflict some damage to the condiment aisle. 

There I go again.  Must be that wild, over-active imagination I've got.

So tell me, what are some of the myths you've heard about writers?  Are they true or just a bunch of baloney?