Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm Having a Book for Launch!

It's 6:59 pm on a Wednesday evening and asside from getting married and being present for the birth of my four children, I'm about to do the biggest thing in my life: an honest-to-goodness book launch, starting with a 45-day blog tour. After spending over three months preparing for April 1st, I am one day away from sharing my labor of love with tens of thousands of book blog followers and lovers of supernatural, horror, paranormal, romance thrillers. For a regular guy like me, that's frickin' scary!

The process started two years ago when the concept for REUNION flooded into my head. Like most book ideas, they seem to come out of nowhere. A year later, I had a rough draft, but was advised by an editor to put the book away for a while because I didn't write it according to the common rules of fiction.I did. 

Over the next year, I wrote my follow up thriller, Act of Vengeance (coming late 2011). When I turned my attention back to REUNION, I was also advised to focus on one protagonist, and that he mustn't be a wimp.

I couldn't do that.

REUNION is not about one brilliant superhero; it's about the suffering and recovery of a group of flawed and changed individuals - survivors. This book is not a cliched paranormal romance, there are no vampires, there are no werewolves,  no zombies and it overlaps genre boundries as if they didn't exist. But that's okay. I had to tell the story as it played out in my mind, rules or no rules.

That was work. Writing, in my opinion, however, is enjoyable work. Crafting and molding the rough story into a fully developed novel is the best part. But I didn't want this book to get stuck in literary mud, read only by surfing internet shoppers. It needed to be read and I needed to do something different with REUNION, because when I launched my first novel, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don't have it all down, but I stepped out there and worked the blogosphere and put a tour together so I could share this story with as many readers as my life could practically allow. It's not a 90-day, shoot-me-when-I'm-done Scott Nicholson Blog tour, but it is a fairly modest blog tour for a rookie. If you want to know the details about how I put it together, you can get the skinny at I wrote a guest blog there today outlining each step. I will also write a post-tour article as a follow up sometime in late May, after I take a break with my family.

I still have several guest blogs to write, and I imagine I'll spend way too many hours obsessing over book sales the next thirty days or so, but I kind of think that that's pretty normal. I'll spend some time each day reading the blog comments and answering questions, trying not to forget what day it is, because I have to do all this while working my regular job. But WHO CARES! This is such a cool experience. I really don't mind losing sleep for the next month. I want to savor the excitement, taste the fear, and enjoy knowing that at least a few people enjoyed my work.

I think new authors believe that all you have to do is write a book, get feedback from family and friends and if everyone likes it, then it's ready to be published. In the words of Dwight Schrute from The Office...False! Getting your book uploaded into the Kindle DTP is easy. Making your book the very best it can be and creating a sturdy platform, a launching pad if you will, takes a lot of work. In my case, it took two years. But what are the results? I don't know. Time will tell. So far, REUNION has not been reviewed by any of my family members or friends, and it's getting great reviews. 

I'm nervous about reviews, but more than anything, and I mean this wholeheartedly, I want this book to impact the reader in a way that other books don't. My greatest ambition for REUNION is not book sales, but that the reader walks away from my book, shaking their head, wondering why they can't seem to forget the message, the story and the characters. Be sure to follow the tour and try to win a FREE Kindle or one of two signed copies from my Goodreads giveaway that starts on April 1st!

You can get REUNION now at most online retailers, but I'd love it if you'd wait until April 15th...TAX DAY. Why? Because I'd like to skyrocket REUNION up the Amazon ranking system to take advantage of Amazon's exposure algorithms. BOOM!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bullying Needs to Stop.

When kids are tormented by a bully, their life can change fast. Many smart, happy, family centered kids  take a terrible turn because they are bullied to the point that they are afraid to talk about it. Sometimes they feel so alone and hopeless that they take their own life. It's sad and it's infuriating. Here are a few words about bullying from Dr. Phil. I hope you enjoy these clips and I hope you comment, sharing your experiences.

REUNION - my supernatural thriller is not just about school shootings. It's about a lot of issues including bullying. I am passionately opposed to bullying and have trained my 4 children that under no circumstance will I tolerate any level of that kind of behavior. They know that it is hurtful, and understand the damage it can cause to one's spirit. I hope you have talked with your kids or grandkids about bullying. If you want to watch the pain of this kind of behavior unravel in real time I'd suggest reading REUNION. And watch these videos. They are very informative.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes from elementary students to parents to bosses to co-workers. The thing is, we all have our issues, but we need to work them out ourselves and stop taking our stress out on those around us. Then, we need to teach our children to respect and care about others.

I've only been in one fight in my entire life, with the exception of my brothers and friends, and that fight was with a bully. He made repeated threats to me and my brother. One day, in 1985, he stepped on my white jeans with dirty shoes and that was it. I had had enough. I let him know that I wasn't going to take his crap any more and I proceeded to get my butt kicked. Sure I had a black eye the next day, but he never bullied me again.

I don't tell you that because I was super brave or that I think fighting is the solution. I tell you that story, because I know how scary it is to have someone pushing me around and threatening me. I took that experience into writing Reunion and I hope it makes
a difference, somehow encouraging you to be aware and averse to Bullying at home at school and at work. BOOM!

What's your story? Do you have a bullying experience you'd like to share?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Live from Best Buy!

Hello writers and readers,
I'm here at Best Buy writing today's post because I can.

I've done a lot of things in my life and most of those things required me to be present whenever I was actually doing the task.  For example, when I was a kid, I couldn't deliver the newspaper while shopping at Kmart, or sweep the shop floor while eating at The Tasty Freeze. But that's a different story. I can write anywhere.

I can write while driving. I can write from my iPhone. I can write at home. I can write at Starbucks. I can write anywhere now and it is amazingly freeing! I'm no longer tied down to a PC or a typewriter - although  I haven't used one of those for a long long time. The point is, writing has got to be the best job in the whole world. You can work at your own pace, and set your own hours, and live anywhere you want. There might be a few other occupations that compare, such as day trading, or internet marketing, but those jobs are all about the money and I'm not into that. I love to create...and I'm most creative when and where I'm inspired.

So here I am, bent over the display table, writing a blog post, inspiring you to take advantage of the technology available to you, reminding you that you can be so much more efficient, thanks to Microsoft and Apple computers.

I'd like to take the concept further by telling you some of my favorite places to write. Here they are....
  • At Home.
  • At Starbucks
  • At Panera Bread
  • At work.
  • At Meme's House (Mother-in-law)
  • In the car.
  • At the cabin in Tennessee
  • On the airplane
  • On the back porch
That's all for now. The sales reps are giving me the evil eye, so I better log off. Thanks for reading. And remember, my new supernatural thriller is coming out in April. More news about that to come! BOOM!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Absent Fathers Suck.

I know this topic is a tad off my usual subject matter, but an important one nonetheless.

I'm really enjoying my children lately - always have - but life as a daddy has been especially good lately. That may sound strange to you, but my wife and I have four children, ages fifteen through nine and our world gets really crazy at times. Yet with all the wackiness, we managed to have a great weekend. I spent quite a bit of time with each one of them, doing something they enjoy, like playing video games, making necklaces, writing, reading, boxing, wrestling. And now, as you can imagine, I'm exhausted, muscles sore, head aching and in need of a little peace and quite.

I'll confess, there were times over the course of the last several years where I put other things ahead of them, not always, but times. I'm sure I had my list of reasons, all justified in my eyes: quotes were due, had to finish the job, chapters almost done, you name it. But the thing is, I always hated myself later. When I finished whatever it was that kept me from them, I was always filled with remorse.

Children grow up way too fast, sometimes leaving before we're ready for them to go. They watch and learn and observe our mannerisms, imitate our dialect and mirror our integrity. As I was thinking about this, I thought of the moments I've failed and then remembered the things I've done right and then sighed, somewhat pleased that although I've not been perfect, I know that I've not been absent.

As a writer, it's very easy to be absent, because writing is such a solitary act. The very thought of interruptions, just about gives me a migrain. And so I have to be very careful, and my wife does a great job at making sure I lift my head up and engage in our family. On my own, I'm afraid the story, or the platform building, or the emailing would consume me. In fact, I know it would. My nature is to keep my head down, driving forward like a Wisconsin snow plow, smashing mail boxes and digging up sod along the way!

The point is, absent fathers suck and they come in an assortment of colors: emotionally absent, physically absent, financially absent, and spiritually absent. They breed absent teenagers, absent citizens, absent husbands and absent daddys. And when they look back on their life they shrivel up and die with regret, because when an absent father finally lifts his head and discovers that no one is there, he looks back and wonders what it was that pulled him away, what was so damn important that took precedence over his family.

Absent fathers suck. Don't be an absent father or mother. Write, read, create, but live your life with balance, frequently taking time to laugh and wrestle and talk with your children. If you choose to give your family the scraps of your life, you'll regret it for all eternity. But you'll never regret keeping your head up and engaging with your children. BOOM!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Building a Blog Tour

If word-of-mouth is the best advertising, than word-by-blog has got to be the second best.

If you've written a book and want to share it with the world, the last thing you want to do is publish it and then tell everyone you have a great book for sale. After observing and studying book launches over the last two years, I've discovered that one of the best ways to get people talking about your book (with the exception of a 100K marketing budget) is to have a Blog/Review tour

If you aren't familiar with the term, a blog tour is much like a book tour, except as the author, you travel from blog to blog, guest blogging, interviewing and/or giving something away - like a free copy of your book, or if you really want to up the ante, give away Amazon gift certificates, a free Kindle, etc. In most cases, book bloggers focus on writing reviews, so guest blogging and getting reviewed sort of go hand-in-hand.

To have a successful blog tour, you'll want to "appear" on blogs that talk about books - books that are in your genre. How do you do that, you ask? The answer is, with a lot of hard work. I scheduled my blog and contacted all the hosts on my own. If you don't have the 40+ hours it takes to do that, I'd suggest contacting a blog tour marketing specialist. There are dozens of online businesses that can do that for you at a cost ranging from $99 and up depending on the number of stops you make. But if you want to go the cheap route, you can do it yourself.

As your own publicist, you can do this at zero cost with a little know how. 

The first thing to do is... look at your calender and plan in advance when you're "touring" in relation to your release date. Once you've blocked out your calender, you'll have to write a "Review/Guest blog pitch". Here's a link to a copy of my pitch. It worked great, I think, and covered all the bases (Sample Pitch). The next step is to google "book, review, blog, your genre" and see what pops up. After you've hit a few blogs, check out the blogs they follow and you're sure to find a bunch more. Once you've found a list of potential hosts for your tour, you'll have to read their submission/review requirements to be sure that you and the blog are compatible. If so, then you can send an email requesting a review and/or guest spot on their blog!

Important notes:
  • The sooner you plan, the better chance you have of getting your book read, reviewed, and a guest-post scheduled. Plus, many of the reviewers require a print copy, so if you are going all digital, you will limit the number of reviewers you'll attract. 
  • Although I'm printing with Lightning-Source, I used Createspace to generate my ARC (advanced review copy - or proof), while applying for my publisher account, and sent one to every reviewer who requested a print copy. I also made sure my PDF was formatted (same PDF for the printer) and in tip-top shape, and professionally edited for those who accepted my ebook version. 
  • I spent a little money on the proof copies and postage, but if a reviewer/blogger has 500-2500 followers, I'd say it could be worth every penny.
  • Be sure to attach a PDF and cover jpg. with every review/guest blog request so the reviewer can scroll through the book and cover and get excited about your work.
  • Keep track of every contact name, blog url, and dates scheduled on a seperate sheet of paper or document, because it can get very confusing if you lose track of who's accepted and whose rejected your request.
  • Finally, remember that publishers take their time publishing for a reason. There is a lot to do to prepare for a book launch. If you get in a hurry and throw your work out there without getting early reviews and bloggers helping you pitch your work, you will have an uphill battle spreading the word. Why? Because word-of-mouth is the best advertising! And bloggers were born out of the need to share messages, and if all goes well, they'll be talking about your book. BOOM!
As you can see, I've posted the REUNION Blog Tour schedule below. <----Click on the link to see all the cool topics I'll be blogging about! Then click on the links below and visit these cool sites or even contact them to get your book reviewed. And be sure to follow my blog tour, because each stop will have a unique post about REUNION, publishing, or my writing techniques.

Date            Blog                                                Topic
1 - Candace's Book Blog  - "The Story behind the Story." (REUNION available to eReaders.)
2 - The Cajun Book Lady  - "Meet the Survivors."
3 - Julia Madeleine's Blog - "Why write fiction about a school shooting?"
4 - Bewitched Book Worms - "Why ghosts make great antagonists."
5 - Indie Paranormal Book Reviews - "Creating back story: David Ray's dark past."
6 - The Creative Penn - "Got Story? - Get Edited."
7 - Pinnacle Writing - "Author Interview."
8 - Jemima Valentino's Blog - "From story to Book...Making it happen."
9 - Swamp Dwellers, Dark Fiction Book reviews - "The Dark in Fiction."
10 - Jennifer Wylie's Blog - "Author Interview."
11 - Kait Nolan - "Supernatural, Love, and Fear."
12 - The Writing Bomb - "Character Interview with Lana Jones & Noah Berkley."
13 - Reading Without Restraint - "Twenty years after the shooting."
14 - OPEN
15 - Preternatural Primer - "Building Suspense one Ghost at a Time."
16 - 100 Stars or Less - "Author interview"
17 - OPEN
18 - Lost For Words - "Interviewing Tanner Khan: The Lost Survivor."
19 - I Am a Reader Not a Writer - "Author interview."
20 - The Writing Bomb - "Remembering Columbine: April, 20, 1999."
21 - OPEN
22 - Reena's Blog - "Making a story go from scratch."
23 - OPEN
24 - You Wanna Know What I Think? - "The Motivation Behind Reunion."
25 - OPEN
26 - My Reading Room - "Author Interview"
27 - My Neurotic Book Affair - "Character Interview with Nick Tooley: The cRaZy One."
28 - Courtney Conant's Blog -  "Questions about REUNION."
29 - The Writing Bomb - "Character Interview With Kate Schmidt Tooley: ."
30 - Paranormal Haven - "I'll have a Love, Ghosts and Fear Martini."

1 - The Writing Bomb - "Character Interview with Maria Vasquez: The Lonely One" (REUNION Available in Print!)
2 - My Eclectic Bookshelf - "My life as a Guest Blogger!"
3 - Fang-tastic Books - "Why I write Supernatural Thrillers."
4 - Bookhound's Den - "Proofing REUNION, what the Bookhound discovered."
5 - Patricia's Vampire Notes - "The story of Earl: My real ghost experience."
6 - AOBibliosphere - "Getting the story into Print and the Passion behind it."
7 - Book Noise - "How to Make a Book Read Loudly!"
8 - TzhaBella's Book Shelf - "Thoughts on Bringing Life into Paper."
9 - Rex Robot Reviews - "Thoughts on Plotting: How to pull it all together."
10 - JoJo's Book Corner - "Would the Correct Genre Please Stand!"
11 - Paul Joseph Writes - "Why Bullies Suck!"
12 - OPEN
13 - OPEN: Last day of The REUNION Blog Tour!
14 - The Writing Bomb - Tour Wrap Up...Packing for Vacation.
15 - Announce Winners of Kindle Giveaway!