Thursday, July 2, 2015

Call for Excerpts: Murder, USA and Murder, International

Updated to address FAQs:

Hello, Murder Lab Community!

This is a special invitation/call to action for authors. 

I’m putting together an anthology of sorts. In contrast to a true anthology, which implies a collection of short stories, this is actually going to be a collection of excerpts from published, full-length novels--sort of like a compilation of Amazon "Look Inside" features from similarly-themed novels, all in one nifty little, e-mailable, downloadable, linkable, social media promotable package. It will be free, and it will be uploaded as a perma-free ebook to all of the major ebook platforms. Personally, I will also give this out as a freebie to people for signing up on my mailing list, upload it to my social media channels wantonly for the taking, and talk about the various excerpts from different authors a great deal.

The perks of this project, as I see them: 

1) It will be ebook-only format, so there will be minimal production costs, which I will absorb.
2) Already-published material means you're promoting your actual novel, not a short story which may or may not reflect your novel(s) in a way that resonates with readers.
3) Already-published material is already-edited, so again, there's no work or expense on your part. You'll just send me your excerpt and a few key pieces of info/supporting materials and you're done.
4) The full-length novels will be linked to each excerpt, just as they are with those handy "Look Inside" features, except that you won't be a slave to Amazon. You can link whatever you want. You can also link other books in the series, your website, etc. etc. And you get to choose the "Look Inside" pages to be included.
5) Each excerpt will be categorized by sub-genre (i.e. "cozy mystery", "political thriller") to give readers a chance to head straight for the book that interests them.
6) The more authors that contribute, the more help I'll have spreading the word and getting readers to peek at your novel.
7) You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, since I'm doing the work and paying for it. And if the whole thing bombs, well, then, nobody will ever even know your work was in there, will they?

Interested? OK, then, here are the details, the theme, and the rules:

1) There are actually two books to be made: One is entitled, Murder, USA and the other, Murder, International.
2) Your excerpt must be from some form of mystery/suspense/thriller full-length novel
3) The setting/location must be somewhat prominent, relevant to, or featured in the story (even if it's just a cool description of where a murder takes place...)
4) US-based excerpts will go into the "USA" book and internationally-based excerpts will go into the "international" book (duh!)
5) The tables of contents will be organized geographically by state or country, respectively, so the collection can be marketed as a "tour" of sorts
6) The table of contents will mention the title, the author, the sub-genre, and the location for each excerpt. So (if you're counting) that's four ways readers can glance at the table of contents and decide which excerpts they want to dive into.

7) Your full-length novel MUST already be published and online to be included. I don't care if it's self-pubbed or traditional, as long as it's available.
8) You must have the rights to republish the content (and be able to prove this.)
9) Ideally, I would like each location to be unique, so we don't end up with twenty-five So-Cal-based authors with books set in San Diego and LA. I personally think it would be bitchin' to get an excerpt from every state, but I don't know that many authors. Incidentally, feel free to forward this along to others who might be interested!
10) Priority will be given to authors with reasonably established platforms who I can count on to help metastasize the book. You don't have to be famous, just making a concerted effort to get there.
11) As mentioned, I'll pay the expenses (it will just be artwork, formatting, and publishing, which I'll do through Murder Lab Press) but I'll ask for donations from contributing authors to help absorb the cost. Donations will be small and they won't be mandatory (in case you're worried I'm going to run off with your money!)

12) What do you have to do? For right now, just say, "Yes, I'm in" by subscribing to our group below. (Lance, you're already subscribed, and Kelly, I shot you an email on your website to get your email address.) This doesn't subscribe you to the Murder Lab Report or any other email correspondence, it only gives me your email address so I can keep track of you as part of this project.
13) I'll gather interested authors for the next few weeks, and once I have a better idea of how much interest there is and how many authors will be involved, I will send out an email to participating authors with detailed instructions for what to send and when we need it. This will also specify the length of the excerpts and suggested donation amounts, both of which will go down with increasing numbers of participants.

So, here’s an example using an excerpt from The Vesuvius Isotope:

Excerpt from: The Vesuvius Isotope, by Kristen Elise, Ph.D.
Sub-Genres: Historical mystery/thriller
Locations: Italy, Egypt

(Insert Excerpt Here)

Did you enjoy this excerpt? Purchase the full-length novel here (insert links). For more information about the novels of Kristen Elise, visit her website here (link.)  

Sound good? Great! Then sign up and let's make this happen...

Murder USA/Murder International Authors

* indicates required


  1. This sounds like a great idea. I'm definitely going to submit my work. The only question I have is how long of an excerpt do you want submitted?

  2. Hi Kelly,
    That's an excellent question. The reason I didn't address excerpt length in the post is that I am currently leaving it a little bit up in the air, because I have just announced this and currently have NO idea how much interest there will be. So, if there is a lot of interest and there are a lot of authors in the books, the excerpts will be shorter. Advantage: more authors involved in the promo, more promo. On the other hand, if there are relatively few authors involved, then we can each include longer excerpts which might have its own advantage as well. For now, I'll consider you interested and let's see who else responds. I'll be in touch in the next few weeks with an update once I get some ideas about whether it's going to get off the ground and if so, how many authors will be involved. Fair enough? Cheers!

  3. I'm in! This is a great idea.

    Just so you don't have to keep answering these questions:

    1) What format should the submissions be in?
    2) When do you want the submissions?
    3) Do you need author bios? Cover art for the excerpted books?
    4) What's the suggested donation? How do you want the money? PayPal, unmarked non-consecutive small bills, bearer bonds, Krugerrands we have buried in the back yard?

    Looking forward to this!

  4. Lance! I'm glad ... I was hoping you'd participate. So... here are my answers:
    1) It doesn't matter (initially, Word docs, probably), but see the above answer to Kelly's question about length. I would like to normalize the formatting of the headers/front matter and back matter pages of all of the excerpts to make a cohesive collection, but I'll keep the formatting of the actual excerpts as consistent with the individual full-length novels as possible. So you should get to keep your special fonts and such, and each contribution will have its own personality, but the collection will look like it goes together.
    2) As of now, no rush on the submissions since I still don't know how long they should be. I'm thinking that for a timeline, I'll give it a few weeks to gather the interested authors, and then there will be another couple of weeks to actually gather material from said interested authors.
    3) Author bios: yes, please. Cover art for excerpted books? I hadn't even thought of that, but I think it's a great idea... if it would work. Can a cover image be put inside an ebook? My two experiences with publishing ebooks were just one cover image uploaded separately from the image-free text. But let me know if it's logistically possible, and if it would cost extra. If it's doable, then sure, why not!
    4) Again, I think the suggested donation will depend on final number of authors. If there are a lot of people involved, it will be tiny. If there are only a few of us, I'll accept a larger donation if you've got it and are willing to throw it into the pot. So let's hold off on that question. For how to contribute, I'd say Paypal would make the most sense, but definitely don't send me any money yet until we see if the idea will get off the ground.
    Glad you're in.

    1. You can embed graphics in an ebook independently of the overall "cover." They're just pictures. You should keep all the graphics in one consistent spot so Kindlegen or Calibre can get to them all (and so you can keep track of them).

    2. OK. Since I barely really know what Kindlegen and Calibre are, let's talk about it offline and you can let me know what you have in mind. I was picturing individual book covers as entire pages between excerpts. Are you thinking more of thumbnails as part of the back matter to link to the full-length books? Because that's also a good idea :)

    3. The downside to adding graphics is the resulting file size. Covers are great but you'll want to limit the size of the jpg. Of course, there's always Volume 1, Volume 2 ...

      The only way to have a book "free" on Amazon is price-matching and they are reluctant to match on a large file.

      And please, don't use Calibre to create the epub. There are plenty of inexpensive/free programs that produce a much better product (as in error free formatting).

    4. Hi Cathy,
      Yes, file size is a consideration. We will have to make sure it's not limiting. I had planned on outsourcing the formatting to the same folks who did cover art and formatting for my books ( as they've done a great job, but this can be discussed. If any of our authors are willing to/able to do it (and can do it professionally) we could save a few bucks, but if we have enough authors involved (which is currently looking likely) the additional costs for formatting will be pretty small. We can discuss this aspect further...

  5. Replies
    1. Welcome, Sue! I've got you on the list. Will check out your stuff and be in touch!

  6. Not in because I don't have anything yet. I really thought it wouldn't take more than a year of so to write a novel, but here I am eight years later and still working on it. No worries, all is well.

    I love this idea and hope to catch up when you do version seven. I am so happy for everything you are doing and congratulations on the newest book. I hope you are proud of everything you have accomplished.


  7. Rob, I'm hoping you'll be in the second edition! Read the story of how it took TWELVE years to publish The Death Row Complex. So, I've got you beat.

  8. I read it even before I made the comment. I am so proud that you were able to resurrect the work and breath new life into something that needed saving. I have found that writing is not so much like a marathon but it is more like being lost at sea in a one person life raft with the only choice to keep paddling in hope of a rescue or quit and die. I am not a quitter, in fact the only think that I have quit in life was rehab, ha ha.

  9. Hi Kris -
    This sounds like a good idea. I'm in but I can't convince the Subscribe box to send the confirming email.

    1. How weird. I don't have an email indicating that you have subscribed. If you just send me your email address (to I'll add you manually to the group.

  10. Sure, sounds like a great idea :-) I'm in

  11. I received no email with the link when I subscribed.

  12. Dear Kristen,

    This sounds so great and I would love to be part of the Murder, International anthology. Problem is, I need to get permission from the publisher first and there's a form that needs filling in with a lot of stuff I don't know answers to--

    (see )

    Can I ask them to get in touch with you directly for the info they need? Even though there's a lot of admin stuff they are Really nice people and very patient about explaining things even to someone as gormless about publishing as I am (a painful example is I thought my books were only on sale on Amazon and just learned--thanks to digging out info for your anthology--they're on sale on Apple, Kobo and Nook too. Thanks!!)

    1. Hi Ovidia, yes they can contact me directly, although I probably speak much LESS publisher-ese than you do!

  13. I'm interested and just subscribed.

  14. I'm in. Florida setting, so that's one state.

  15. I'm in. Setting is Florida, so that's one state down.

    1. Carole, awesome! You have to subscribe to the newsletter, or at least email me your email address so I can put you on the list!

  16. I'm in! I have three series, one takes place in So California, othere take place in Guatemala, Russia, Kiribati or Louisiana/Florida. Let me know.

    1. Hi Janet, sounds great! You'll have to sign up on the sign-up form or else send me your email address so I can get a hold of you :) Thanks,

    2. Thank you Kris...

  17. I'm in for the international murder

  18. I just came across this site perhaps 5-6 months late. Are you still working on this project? I can give you South American sites (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay. or Uruguay) for International; Alaska, Northern California, or Southern California for domestic. Still interested?