Thursday, January 31, 2013

Introducing the "Find an Editor" section

To hire, or not to hire, a professional editor?  Here's what Emily Suess has to say about it in her Steps in Self-Publishing post on She Writes:
Your book must be edited by a professional editor. Preferably one who specializes in fiction if you're writing a novel, or non-fiction, if you're writing a self-help or how-to book. In an ideal world, you'll spend most of your money here. Editing and proofing are needed at a couple of different stages. This isn't a once-and-done endeavor. You might need to go through either or both types of editing more than once to ensure that your book is truly ready for publication. Substantive and developmental editing deal with the big-picture questions. Does everything in the book support the overall goal? Is the content engaging for the reader? Are things like plot, character development and dialogue the best they can be? 
Copy editing or proofreading are for getting the details just right. In this phase, your editor will help you deal with word choice, grammar, punctuation, typos and spelling errors. If you skip this, people will notice. Often after substantial revisions are made, another proofread is necessary to clean up any straggling errors.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Where do your marketing dollars go?

Update: Two-and-a-half years after it was published, this is STILL one of the most popular posts on this site, indicating that inquiring minds want to know how to spend their money for the best ROI for their books. I have since found some methods that I consider somewhat foolproof for selling at least a couple hundred books, quickly. Subscribe to the Murder Lab Report and I'll send them to you. 
Murder Lab Mistress

In response to my decision to self-publish, a conversation was sparked that weighs the benefits and advantages of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.  Please feel free to contribute your thoughts and experiences, positive or negative, with either traditional or self-publishing.

In this discussion, Sara McBride asks the questions:
1. Self-publishing route: If I have $5000 to put into marketing my book, where should I focus my efforts?
2. Traditional (meaning a small to medium press, not necessarily a "big six"): What kind of budget does a medium indy press devote to marketing, and where does a press focus its efforts?
Personally, I believe in the mantra, "it's better to close one's mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."  So rather than attempting to answer Sara's questions, I leave this task to the experts.  One such expert is Sunny Frazier, acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press.  We will shortly be creating a publishing tab on this site, which will feature Sunny and OTP.  In the meantime, please check out both and feel free to "press" them with further publishing questions.  Sunny's answers to Sara's question follow..

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Down the Self-Publishing Rabbit Hole: The Checklist

Every once in a while, someone or something comes along that makes everything seem easy.  As I gear up to self-publish The Vesuvius Isotope, I have run across the perfect blog post to initiate my quest: The Steps in Self-Publishing, by Emily Suess.

Please read it.  I think you need to become a member of She Writes, but you don't need to be a female (and don't worry, there are no feminine hygiene products or other such girly nonsense running around on the site...)

I am currently peering into the rabbit hole, taking a deep breath and preparing my swan dive.  So please allow me to recap the five simple steps to self-publishing from Suess' list.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tricks to building suspense in your thriller (from one that has it down to a science)

Suspense is important in any genre.  In a thriller, it is critical.  It makes the difference between a good read and a great read.  It keeps us up nights and it leads reviewers to those coveted phrases like, "a heart-stopping page-turner!" and "an action-packed thrill ride!"

But how do you incorporate suspense?  How do you bring your novel from good to great?  How do you keep us turning those pages, and invite the clichéd reviews you so desperately crave?  Below are some observations for how one highly successful author has done it, using an example from one of my all-time favorite science thrillers.  If you can't guess the work, please do yourself a favor and pick up some classic Crichton.  I became a molecular biologist because of this novel.  And here are a few of the techniques that made me love it...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ask the expert: an interview with archeologist Cory Cuthbertson

In The Vesuvius Isotope, biologist Katrina Stone and Egyptologist Alyssa Iacovani trace a two thousand year old medical mystery, in a race to solve the murder of Katrina's Nobel Laureate husband and save the lives of thousands.  When the "Find an Expert" section of Murder Lab was initiated, I was thrilled to hear from paleoanthropologist, paleolithic archeologist and linguist Cory Cuthbertson.  Below is an interview with Cory, describing the profession and how her experiences can play into your next thriller.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Down the Self-Publishing Rabbit Hole: The Decision

A few weeks ago, I presented my beta readers with an early Christmas present - to myself.  The gift was a heavily edited, written, re-written, and re-heavily-edited draft of The Vesuvius Isotope.  As far as my own eyes and brain are concerned, I'm done.  I can do no more to better this novel.  So I gave the manuscript to a handful of readers whose opinions I trust and began thinking about the next step.

And just like that, in about ten minutes, I made a monumental decision...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

An interview with novelist Erec Stebbins

A series of devastating attacks draws agent John Savas into a web of international intrigue. He must put aside his personal pain and work with a man who symbolizes all he has come to hate. Both must race against time to prevent a plot so terrible, that it threatens the stability of the world.

In a thriller that spans the globe in an ever-widening arc of mystery, intrigue and violence, all assumptions will be challenged.  In the end, only by transcending his own devastating loss can John Savas hope to stop the Ragnarök Conspiracy.

You have just watched the trailer and read the back cover copy for The Ragnarök Conspiracy, newly released by political and international thriller writer Erec Stebbins.  A self-proclaimed workaholic, Erec is a professional biomedical researcher with a flair for fiction.  Let’s get into the mind of this interesting character and those of his characters...