September 2nd, 2012
Authors must put themselves in the forefront if they’re going to sell books. That was the message
MWAMidwest members heard at the August meeting from a special guest, Rebecca Crowley, founder and CEO of RTC Publicity in NewYork.
“My most successful authors are those who take an active role in their own promotion,”she said. But it takes a team. Family. Friends. A hired publicist is just part of the team. “My best ideas are born in conjunction with other people,” Crowley said.
Actually, she admitted, “A lot of my [book marketing] ideas come out of marketing other products.”
What works? Finding a way to “go viral” online. Crowley said. Also email newsletters that show off your personality instead of only selling, selling, selling.
Working with her clients, Crowley does a lot of blog outreach and still insists that hand-selling—through word of mouth, through individual interactions in person or online—is the best way to sell books. Social media, Crowley said, is a hand-selling opportunity—but you have to do it right. “It should be an ongoing dialogue,” she said. “Don’t start a million online profiles and walk away. Do one really well instead of five really poorly.”
Lori Rader Day is the editor of Clues.
Categories: Event, Meeting report, Uncategorized |
November 23rd, 2010
Those of you who are members saw this report in the November CLUES, but I’m adding it here for those who aren’t.
The MWMWA outreach meeting in October took place in Madison, Wisconsin at the Booked for Murder bookstore on Friday evening, October 8. We had thirteen people in attendance, including members Jerry Peterson, Kathleen Ernst, Mary Holmes, Jerol Anderson, and Tony Perona. Special thanks to Jerry Peterson, who arranged the meeting, and to Sara Barnes, who owns Booked for Murder and was a gracious hostess.
After a brief business meeting, during which we discussed the latest news from our members and the latest happenings of our chapter, we heard from our guest speaker, John Galligan. In addition to being a novelist and teacher, John has worked as a newspaper
journalist, feature-film screenwriter, house painter, au pair, ESL teacher, cab driver, and freezer boy in a salmon cannery. He currently teaches writing at Madison Area Technical College. John spoke on “What I’ve Learned About Writing from Teaching Writing.”
John began with a number of observations that he’s had while teaching writing. They ranged from the amusing to the technical. Some excepts:
- A lot of people want to write; he knows this because he confronts it twice a year.
- It looks easy.
- The word processor has made it easier for people who want to write to write. People with average talent can do more than would be able to do otherwise because they can compose, cut and paste, revise, and other functions relatively easily.
- Time management is critical to writing. It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and belief in yourself.
- Different parts of your brain need to be engaged at different times, something he sees over and over again as a barrier to writing. Why? Because people who can’t switch over from the creative to the analytical mind get stymied. They’ll spend six weeks working on one paragraph.
- If you want to do this, you must make time for it. There’s a social space that must made around this. People who roll their eyes when you tell them you need time to write are not your friends. You MUST create your time and space for your writing and fiercely defend it.
- If you can get over all the above hurdles, you can learn the craft.
- He sees very few students who manage it. Maybe only a handful in the entire time he’s taught creative writing finish a manuscript…ever, not just during the semester he’s teaching them.
- The biggest challenge for students is the difference between writing scenes and writing summaries. Scenes take place in a concrete time and a concrete place, with dialog. It’s show versus tell.
- The second biggest challenge is point of view.
- Just about everybody gives in too easily. If you’ve only been discourage for ten years, that’s nothing.
- And my favorite: if you have to explain your story or argue and defend what you’ve written, you’re not a writer.
- Caveat to the above: most of us would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
- His final observation: girls do vampires; boys do zombies.
Categories: From our MWMWA president, Meeting report, Uncategorized |
October 18th, 2010
October 29-31 in Muncie, Indiana. The November outreach meeting was held there. Here is the report from CLUES:
The November meeting of the Midwest Chapter was held one day before November, on Sunday, October 31st at the
Magna cum Murder mystery convention in Muncie, Indiana. Eight members and guests attended. It was a small group, but that meant we were able to have a more intimate conversation with our guest speaker, Charles Todd, half of the
mother-son writing team that produces the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the nurse Bess Crawford series, both period series that require quite a bit of research. A few things we learned from Charles:
• His real name isn’t Charles and his mother’s name is not Caroline. They developed those personae when they became authors. (He declined to reveal his real name.)
• When Charles is flying out to a mystery convention or some other book-related function, he introduces himself to those around him on the plane as Charles Todd, an author, and by the time he gets to his destination, he’s “in character.”
• It took a while for him and his mother to develop their professional relationship that is different from the mother-son relationship they have when they are not writing books or making appearances together. Now, he says, it’s easier to separate the two relationships and recognize when they need to switch from one to the other.
• Charles has served as the president of the mid-Atlantic MWA chapter and has been on the national Board several times. This past year he was snookered into being parliamentarian again, after saying he was going to take a break from the Board. (Tony particularly got a kick of this, since he was part of the Board that roped him back in.)
• Charles and Caroline are real sticklers for research, which is what you have to be when you write historical series, as they do.
• His father is very much a part of the team, although he doesn’t do any of the writing. Charles says his father has a very analytical mind and, as their first reader, is good at catching gaps in logic and changes in details about their characters.
Categories: Event, From our MWMWA president, Meeting report, Meetings |
November 2nd, 2009
By Michael Dymmoch
The September meeting of MWA/Midwest was held at Centuries and Sleuths, Forest Park, Illinois, on September 23.
It began with announcements: Jim Doherty has a new short story out, a pastiche on Dick Tracy. Steve Phelan has a new book out. Luisa Buehler’s next series book will be out in January of 2011. Naomi Smith’s publisher has picked up the third book in her series. Diane Piron-Gelman’s first novel, No Less Than Blood, will be published in 2011 by Five Star. President Julie Hyzy asked for volunteers to man (or woman) the MWA table at Bouchercon.
Wednesday’s speakers were Danielle Egan-Miller, President, and Lauren Olson, of Browne & Miller Literary Associates (formerly Multimedia Product Development, Inc.), founded by Jane Jordan Browne in 1971. Ms. Egan-Miller worked for the agency early in her career, returning as a partner in 2002. When Ms. Browne died in 2003, Ms. Egan-Miller became the agency president. Lauren Olson joined Browne & Miller in 2007 as an intern, and achieved her present position, Assistant to the Agents, in 2008. Browne & Miller is a full-service literary agency currently representing 200 writers, 75 of whom are actively writing. Most of these are mid-career authors, on their fifteenth book rather than their first. The agency handles print, audio, film/TV, and foreign rights, and sells 25-35 books annually; 85% of sales are fiction. Browne & Miller looks for: well written fiction, particularly substantive women’s fiction, historical fiction with strong romantic elements, narrative non-fiction, classy true crime (like Devil in the White City, but not Chicago Mob books), and young adult fiction. The agency does not deal with large print rights, poetry, screenplays, short stories, children’s illustrated books, Christian living (although Christian-themed novels are OK), Sci-Fi, horror, or works that cannot be classified at all within a genre. They say “Westerns are a hard sell.” Browne & Miller’s current wish list is posted on the Publisher’s Marketplace website (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/mpdinc/).
The last four years have been very challenging. Contracts frequently come with no check; the check may come thirty days later. Some publishers divide the advance into quarters and pay on signing, on acceptance, on publication, and six months after publication (which used to be called the first royalty check). The agency doesn’t get paid until the author is paid.
Finding the right agent to represent your work is crucial. Established authors are often looking for something different from what debut authors need. “Some people think they need a New York agent. I respect that,” Ms. Egan-Miller said. “But I’m never going to be a New York agent. It has to be a match. We like to work with authors we like. I’ve had my share of authors who are difficult, but how much of me can I devote to handholding or talking people off the ledge?” Browne & Miller has taken on only four debut novels in the last three years. “The problem with debut novels is that they have no traction. We can’t make a living selling only debut fiction, so we’re very careful these days. Clever ideas and fun titles are okay, but most important is the quality of writing and storytelling. It has to be something we really believe in for us to commit to sticking with it.”
Querying is the primary way for an author to introduce his work to an agent; having an agent is still the best way to get a mainstream publisher. Some agents receive 600 book queries per week—30,000 per year! Brown & Miller gets approximately 200 queries per week, twice as many as last year. With a staff of only four, the agency cannot have much sympathy for poorly written queries, or for writers who have not learned their craft or done some basic research.
“We’re not that mean, but if you spell my name wrong….” Queries are read by three staff members before they arrive on Ms. Egan-Miller’s desk. Only five or ten make it through the screening process.
Ms. Egan-Miller distributed and discussed Browne & Miller’s “10 Tips on Query Letters” (which can be found at http://www.browneandmiller.com/Query.html). In querying, it’s most important to follow the guidelines. Query by letter or in the body of an email, whichever medium is the most comfortable. When querying by email, write your letter as a word document, spell check and proof it, then cut and paste it into the body of your email. Ms. Egan- Miller’s advice: “Email gives some people license to be casual or even rude. Err on the side of being conservative and professional.” For security reasons, email attachments will not be opened. Unsolicited material will not be read.
Categories: CLUES, Meeting report, Meetings |
Tags: Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, Mystery Writers of America | Comments Off
July 15th, 2009
Reported by Michael A. Black
The Mid-West MWA meeting was held in Louisville, Kentucky on July 11. Presiding were MWMWA President Julie Hyzy and MWMWA Vice President Tony Perona. Board member Michael A. Black was also in attendance.
The board wishes to extend a special thanks to Beverle Graves Myers for setting this meeting up.
Thanks also to the Ohio River Valley chapter of SinC for hosting us.
Julie opened the meeting with a hearty welcome and explained that everyone was here to talk about the Midwest Chapter of MWA, its plans going forward and how members can be part of it all.
She then did the customary query around room for news announcements. Bev Myers new book comes out in September. Judith Rock just signed a book deal with Berkley Prime Crime for her historical mystery. Alec Calla has a new collection of his short stories being released soon. Tamera Shaw also said she has a short story coming out in an anthology. Julie talked about her newest entry to her White House chef series coming out in January, and Mike mentioned that the second in his police procedural series is due out in September. Looks like it’s going to be a busy fall.
Julie went on to explain that the chapter has held meetings in various locations, with the hope that members will be encouraged to begin meeting on their own. This has apparently taken root in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and from the enthusiasm shown at this meeting, there was little doubt that this will also be the case in Louisville. The plan is to get back to each of these cities once every year-and-a-half or two years. That’s the goal the chapter has set, but it’s difficult. We’re working on it.
Tony talked about the Midwest Chapter’s plans for the Hot Ticket Event for Bouchercon and the plan, the details of which will be released shortly, left everyone breathless with anticipation. We don’t want any misinformation to get out there, and everything is not 100% set, so nothing else will be said here. (Take it from me, this is going to be a spectacular addition to Bouchercon and just might become a permanent part of the big conference) Kudos to Tony and Jim Huang for setting it all up.
Julie talked about the success of the Printers Row event, which was held last month in Chicago, the annual holiday party in December, the Yahoo board, CLUES, TTD, the MWA website, etc.
Mike talked about our critique/mentor program.
Also discussed were such subjects as:
Why the MWA is great.
The rationale for the MWA-approved publisher list and the reason for its importance.
How the MWA anthologies submission system works.
The value of networking through the MWA.
The rebound grants program and how it works.
and MWA discounts
The meeting was finished off with some questions from the audience, and everyone left feeling this had been one of the most informative and productive meetings yet. Numerous MWA applications were also handed out.
Categories: Meeting report |
Tags: Alec Calla, Judith Rock, Julie Hyzy, Michael A. Black, Tamera Shaw, Tony Perona | Comments Off
June 14th, 2009
Via Michael Dymmoch
The meeting on Sunday, May 17, was small—attended by MWA members Raymond Benson, Tim Broderick, Luisa Buehler, Michael Dymmoch, Julie Hyzy, Helen Osterman, Irene Pederson, Tom Surdenik, host Augie Aleksy, and reader/fan Dick Waterbury—but we had a great conversation on topics ranging from identity theft to what makes mystery conventions great.
Julie Hyzy announced that MWA’s Midwest Chapter would have a booth at the Printers Row Book Fair, June 6 and 7. (We’ll have a festival report up soon!). Julie also announced that MWA will have a presence at Bouchercon in Indianapolis. A number of best-selling authors have been recruited for a special program. Ten fans will get tickets for a private forty-five minute visit with a big-name author hosted by lesser-known MWA writers. Only one ticket for one event will be issued to Bouchercon attendees. (Further details as they become available.)
Julie Hyzy announced that she has started a new series featuring Grace, the curator/manager of a great estate.
Graphic novelist Tim Broderick will join Crimespree Magazine’s Jon Jordan at Wizard World, the Chicago Comic Con, August 6-9, 2009 at the Rosemont Convention Center. Raymond Benson, Sean Chercover and other local authors may join Tim at the convention’s Crimespree Table.
Raymond Benson has renewed his contract for Dann & Raymond’s Movie Club—free, “lively film genre discussions” presented this fall “by Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire and awardwinning author Raymond Benson” at the Schaumburg Township District Library and the Arlington Heights Library.
Luisa Buehler announced that there will be a Love Is Murder planning meeting at the Schaumburg
Library, time TBA, August 20. Those interested in adding their input into this popular local conference are urged to attend.
Which led to a discussion of what makes a great conference. The recent Malice Domestic’s Author’s-go-round, was cited as a popular innovation. Other much-appreciated event/panels: How to look for/set up a writer’s group; endless conversations (informal discussions with authors rotating in and out at scheduled times); Beer and Wine panels; How to use Twitter, Face-book, blogs, etc., to market your work; and Time management for writers. Luisa also lobbied for time between panels to
catch your breath or continue discussions with panelists.
Categories: CLUES, Meeting report |
May 3rd, 2009
April meeting report by Michael Black:
Our April meeting was held at the Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jerry Peterson arranged for this special tour of the airport and it turned out to be a fascinating evening for all in attendance. Members met at the Mitchell Air Museum inside the terminal and were ushered into a meeting room by Mitchell Airport PR Director Ryan McAdams and Airport Security Director Mike Keegan.
After a brief overview of the airport and its various areas, members were shown a large photographic map of the facility and each location was explained. The Mitchell International Airport has two major runways servicing commercial aircraft as well as subsidiary runways for smaller aircraft. The airport also has its own fire department and a contingent of Milwaukee County Sheriffs who handle law enforcement duties on the facility and grounds. Mike Keegan says during a typical week they arrest five or six people for various offenses. The electric bill alone for the airport is about $12 million a year, and there are over 2200 acres that must be secured and patrolled constantly.
The Mitchell International Airport contributes 8.2 billion dollars to the local economy and provides over 18,000 jobs.
The members were then escorted through the TSA Security Checkpoint and into the main terminal for dinner at Nonna’s restaurant. At dinner, chapter President Julie Hyzy thanked the airport representatives for their hospitality and Jerry Peterson for his work in arranging this event. The customary member introductions and news items were reviewed. Julie mentioned the continuing plans for Printer’s Row in Chicago in June. Ted Hertel talked about his participation in an Elderhostel writing seminar in Green Lake, Wisconsin, June 7 through 12. This event will include MWA members Jerry Healy, Sandy Balzo, and Gary Niebuhr, among others. For more information go to www.elderhostel.org
After dinner the perambulation began with a presentation by the TSA supervisor regarding procedures and safeguards taken by the organization. The tour continued through the baggage claim areas, and the members got a bird’s eye view of how luggage is dealt with once it’s been checked in at the counter.
After a fascinating walk through what was termed “the bowels of the airport,” the tour was completed with a trip up to the observation deck. This deck is the highest point of the airport excluding the control tower. The view was magnificent and the stalwart members who made the trek up the tower stairs were treated to the sights of the lighted airport and several planes taking off and landing.
The enormous responsibility and Herculean tasks became evident as Ryan McAdams explained the amount of maintenance work required for such things as snow removal, grass cutting, perimeter security, animal control issues, and continuous training of personnel. At the conclusion of the evening the members had a better understanding of how a major airport works and got to glimpse some fascinating behind- the-scenes areas that are normally off-limits to the general public. Everyone raved about how informative the tour had been and there is little doubt that the writers in the group were given many new ideas and details for their future writing projects.
Categories: CLUES, Meeting report |
Tags: Milwaukee, Mitchell International Airport, Wisconsin | Comments Off
February 19th, 2009
Started with announcements:
- The next MW MWA meeting will be at Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI, Feb 25.
- The April meeting will be a tour of the Airport in Milwaukee, WI
Then, announcements from members in attendance:
- John Desjarlais announced the publication of his first book, Bleeder.
- Nancy Sweetland announced a new book, Light House.
- Luisa Buhler has negotiated a contract with Harlequin
- Kathleen Earnst‘s latest Molly Mystery is Clues in the Shadows.
- Michael Black will have a short story in the MWA anthology.
- Centuries & Sleuths, 7419 W Madison St, Forest Park, will have a program to honor the late Hugh Holton on Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:00 p.m.
Jeffrey Deaver is an international best selling author of 23 novels and 2 short story collections. His books are published in 25 languages, sold in 150 countries. He has been nominated for an Edgar six time and received The Steel and Short Story Dagger Award, an Anthony, a Gumshoe, 3 Ellery Queen Reader’s Awards for Best Short Story, and—just this year—a Lovey. Two of his novels have been made into movies. And he’s appeared as a guest on As The World Turns.
Deaver told MWA members that he started writing at eleven. Even at that early age, he knew books were special, being particularly fond of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Deaver’s first novel was a four page James Bond pastiche that took two weeks to write and had two chapters. Creating the cover art was more fun.
As a boy, Deaver was a nerd, “when nerd meant something—no hundred million dollar stock options.” He developed his own subgenre about pudgy, clumsy, socially inept boys—wish fulfillment stories in which the nerds got the pom-pom girls. He became editor of the Bard, Glenbard West’s literary magazine, and developed a love of poetry. This has helped with his thriller writing because in thrillers, as with poetry, less is more. Deaver fell for the Poetry.com scam and in his best year lost only six dollars. He has since become a professional poet, though not a profitable one.
Having failed to make his fortune as a poet, Deaver determined to become a music star. Singer songwriter, after all, get more pom-pom girls. In his twenties, he performed in Old Town. One night, while going over his lead sheet before opening for a well-known rockabilly singer, he was asked by the star to identify a punctuation mark on his sheet. When he explained that it was a semi-colon, the star told him he was too literary to be a singer-songwriter.
Eventually, Deaver decide he wanted the luxuries of life—food, shelter, etc. He got a journalism degree and a job in Chicago as a magazine writer and reporter, but discovered that editors wanted facts. “Where’s the creativity in that?” So he went to school to study law, where “truth, accuracy, and honesty are not primary considerations.” He went to work at law in New York.
In his first trial as an associate, Deaver represented the defendant, “a large, heartless, running-dog international corporation.” The plaintiff was a former employee fired for cause. He was suing for return of his property lost by the corporation after he was fired. Deaver said that after the plaintiff put on his case, he-Deaver—could say nothing but “This is a gratuitous lawsuit. We’re not responsible.” He was amazed when the judge found in favor of the corporation. When he found out that the lost property included irreplaceable family photos, Deaver felt like writing the man a check himself. He decided he was not cut out to be a lawyer.
While commuting to work, Deaver had been writing the kind of books he liked to read—thrillers. When he finished the first, he wrote another. “Both were egregiously awful.” One was so bad he shredded it in the document shredder at work. He decided to give up writing. Five months later, he finished the next novel. This was the thriller ever written. It was rejected by everyone in the publishing business. “My mother would have rejected it.” Vanity presses wouldn’t have published it. He received his manuscript back with the pages out of order. There was no rejection letter—just the original cover letter with a footprint on the back. The best rejection Deaver got for that book was a rejection letter actually typed: “Dear Mr. Deaver, This manuscript is unpublishable…”
Deaver’s next novel got published. And the next novel got published.
Deaver resolved to treat writing as a business and create books regularly. He had a contract for a third book. When he knew that the third book wouldn’t be finished to his satisfaction by the deadline, he sent in one of the unpublished manuscripts, hoping that by the time it was rejected, his unfinished work would be complete. To his surprise, the editor loved it. This was an editor at the same company that had pronounced the manuscript “unpublishable.”
Deaver has produced a book every twelve to eighteen months ever since.
When asked if he had any desire to write for the movies, Deaver quoted, “A wise man knows his limitations. I have no talent for film….I look at movies as paid advertising.”
Deaver concluded his talk by sharing three tricks of the trade:
- Write what you enjoy reading.
- Treat writing as a business. Proctor & Gamble doesn’t suffer from toothpaste block or miss deadlines.
- Remember that rejection is a speed bump, not a brick wall. Never give up.
Reported by Michael Dymmoch
Categories: Meeting report, Meetings |
Tags: Centuries & Sleuths, Jeffrey Deaver, John Desjarlais, Kathleen Earnst, Luisa Buhler, Michael Black, Michael Dymmoch, Nancy Sweetland | Comments Off
January 21st, 2009
From Michael Allen Dymmoch: Freelance journalist Daniel Smith kept MWA members captivated for an hour after the meeting ended. Topics ranged from his police family history to the philosophic differences between fiction and non-fiction.
Several attendees remarked that Smith’s book, On the Job, gave them a decidedly empathetic view of police officers and their work.
Categories: Meeting report |
Tags: Daniel Smith, Michael Allen Dymmoch, On the Job | Comments Off