Monday, June 22, 2015

Fifty Ways to Show Readers Some Love (Part 1)

My favorite part of writing (by far) is getting to know my readers.  But how can I show them how important they are to me?  That was a question I asked my Facebook community, and (with a little help from my friends) I came up with more than 50 ways!   This is the first of three blog posts that highlight ways writers can show their readers some love.  Enjoy, share, and add to the list in the commetns.  I hope it sparks some creative ideas!

Day 1: Thank them!  This one seems like a no brainer, but we often forget.  Mom always said, when  someone does something nice for you, say thank you!  From writing reviews, to retweeting our tweets, to sending us e-mails.  The varieties of kindnesses bestowed upon us by readers are impressive.  And I’m always surprised by how delighted readers are to hear from me.  So, my author friends:  Have you thanked your readers lately?

Day 2: Send them an Authorgraph! Many readers love autographs, but they can’t necessarily meet their favorite authors in person.  How about an Authorgraph!  This fun app allows authors to send autographs to fans whether they read the old fashioned paper way or on their favorite electronic screen.  Better yet, it’s free to both parties!

Day 3: Wish them a happy birthday on Facebook! Maybe it’s just me, but I love it when people contact me to wish me a happy birthday.  And Facebook makes it so easy!  Sign up to get an e-mail stating which of your friends has a birthday each day. Before you know it, you’ll have a daily e-mail reminder.  Your quick Happy-B-day might make one of your reader’s day!

Day 4: Create a fan page for your books:  I have both a personal page on Facebook and an author page.  I prefer my personal page, because “friending” my readers lets me learn more about them and their lives.  But there’s an entirely different page readers might enjoy:  A Fan page for their favorite series!  I haven’t done this yet, but it seems like a fab way to connect readers with their favorite series.  This page by fellow Inker Sheila Boneham is a great example.

Day 5: Share information about other books they might like.  Chances are you also read the genre in which you write, and you may know great authors that your readers haven’t heard of—yet. If you love a book or an author, why not post about them on your author page or fan groups? You’ll help a fellow author and your readers at the same time!

Day 6: Chat them up at conferences. As authors, it’s really easy to hang out with your clan when you travel to a conference.  How about hanging out with readers?  Invite your readers to have a drink, a coffee, or even just take a few minutes to introduce yourself.  Some of my favorite people are readers I’ve meet at conferences!

Day 7:  Friend them! Author pages are great—I have one myself.  But personal walls are more, well, personal. When readers become friends, instead of just fans, the dialogue changes.  It’s less about promoting your work and more about building connection.  Once you’re a rock star, you’ll reach the 5000 limit for your friends, but until then, why not reach out to your readers, or accept their requests when they reach out to you? If you want to friend me, I'm at this link.

Day 8:  Share more with them than “buy my book!” Believe me, I know that finding readers is hard, and that most of us well outspend what we make on our books trying to market them.   But who wants to have a friend who only reaches out when they need  something?  What information would interest your readers?  Think of how you can serve them, and then when you do post an occasional “buy my book,” they might be more interested in supporting you.

Day 9: Post a video of you reading from your newest work!  OK—I’m going to admit—this is not one I’m likely to do, because I HATE to see myself on video.  But how about creating a quick and easy youtube video of you reading a scene from your work?  Readers who can never see you do a reading in person may love the opportunity to do so in video.  Plus, it can double for one of your blog entries!  Everyone wins!

Day 10: “Like” the reviews they write for you on Goodreads or mark them as helpful on Amazon.  Most readers don’t have a review blog, and even posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads is adding one more to-do item to their busy schedule.  A simple click lets them know that you noticed, and that you appreciated it! 

Day 11: Speak at their book clubs.  You may not be able to be there in person, by Skype is a wonderful thing!  You’ll get to see the happy face of your reader and meet a few more at the same time.  I’ve only done this a handful of times myself, but it’s been a blast!

Day 12:  Send them an autographed bookmark!  Not every reader can get your autograph in person, and Authorgraph (see day 2) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  But many readers love autographed bookmarks.  For the price of a postage stamp and a minute of your time, you can make a reader’s day.

Day 13:  Host a discussion of one of your books on Facebook! On Day 11 I suggested speaking at your readers’ book clubs. What if they don’t belong to one?  Why not create a discussion event of your own? An hour-long Facebook event at which readers  are invited to discuss your book, learn more about its background, and ask you questions about you, your work, your writing process—maybe even the meaning of life!  Sounds like fun to me!  This is definitely on my to-do list for the future.

Day 14:  Write a short story involving your series’ characters.  This one isn’t accessible to all writers, depending on contract stipulations you may have with your publisher. But if you’re free to write about your characters, why not write a short story for readers to help tide them over between books?  Your readers might really love it!

Day 15:  Write about them in a blog article!  Got some favorite fans that have supported you?  Give them their own 5 minutes of fame.  Picture them or write about them in a blog article.  (With permission, of course.) My fabulous street team sent me some great photos before my last launch, as well as distributing bookmarks and sharing my news. A thank you blog article about them was the least I could do!

Day 16: Pose for a photo! I’m photo-phobic, unless I’m posing with friends.  And every reader is a friend!  Cuddle up close with your fans and smile pretty. If you want a photo with me, a hug is the price of admission! (Consider yourself forewarned!)

Day 17:  Have a birthday group!  Author Kathi Daley has a special birthdaygroup set up for her readers in which they receive something special on their birthdays.  How cool is that?  What a great way for readers to feel (and be) acknowledged!

Day 18:  Be real. We all want to show our best face in public, but no one has a perfect life all of the time.  Share your struggles as well as well as your successes. By sharing your own humanness, you might make your readers feel less alone in theirs.

Day 19:  Make them feel (en)titled!  Believe me, we writers aren’t the only ones who are creative.  Show your readers that you value their opinion by asking them to help choose your next book title.  Even though I say this helps show you love them (and it does) it helps us even more.  Who knows what titles will reach out and grab readers better than the readers themselves! 

Day 20: Comment on their posts.  I post on Facebook pretty regularly, but I hold no illusions that people want to talk only about me.  Connect with your readers by sharing in their joys and sorrows.  It takes a second (at most) to like another post and a few more seconds to hit a reply.  (Readers, please know that with my lovely (and growing) collection of friends, I don’t see much more than 1% of my friends’ posts. So if you wonder why I don’t comment on something, I likely didn’t see it.)  If you want to see something, be sure to tag me.  Then it will go to my e-mail inbox!

That’s the first 20 in at least 50 ideas.  More to come next month.  How about you?  Authors, how do you show your readers some love?  And readers, what other ideas do you have?


          A Killer Retreat

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 
Visit her at, friend her on Facebook at, or e-mail her at

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dying and Whining ...

By Tj O'Connor, author of Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, and the upcoming, Dying to Tell
And once again, the calendar tells me I’m late …

These days, consulting eight or ten hours a day and writing all my waking hours is starting to take its toll. This morning, I was up late and assailed by my two Labs, two visiting canines—including a 165-pound Mastiff, and several of the neighborhood dogs and goats because I was not at my post in the kitchen feeding them timely. Oh, for the life of one of them!

Life as an author can sometimes be lonely and boring—sitting alone in your little office or writing nook and banging away on the keyboard. Sometimes, it’s about travelling to far places to entertain and enthrall audiences—read that, beg and plead to buy your books. And sometimes, it’s sitting at your keyboard, staring at the screen, wondering, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?”

And the answer is simply, “Exactly what you wanted—so stop whining.”

Today is one of those days where I’m overwhelmed. Work is building momentum onto my real-life, travelling is now every other weekend, and money pours from my fingertips to market my books and cajole and hunt down readers. It’s a poor-me day. I realized just an hour ago that I was late posting this blog. So, now, I sit here trying to make sense out of something worth talking about. It’s raining—and as they say in that new commercial, “Of course it’s raining.” I’m not feeling well. Another airplane awaits. Another hotel room beckons. Damn. Damn. Damn.

I need a day off. I need two or three or ten.

Stop! Stop! Stop! Isn’t this what I asked for? Isn’t this exactly where I planned to be? Let me take stock of the past few weeks and where I’m heading in the next few weeks. Certainly there is a positive message here … right?

Right. My whining is over. Coffee is kicking in. Fingers are moving again. Oh, if the damn rain would just turn into sunshine and daisies. Okay, maybe not daisies, but you get the picture. I need umph.

So, let me take stock.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Millbrook Book Festival in Upstate New York. Millbrook is a delightful town that reminds me of my youth—as it should since I grew up just thirty minutes from there. Its streets and buildings stepped out of the 19th century and its people are friendly and endearing. Of course, not many of them showed to the festival, but eh, these things happen. Last year’s festival had standing room only. This year, not so much. But those folks who did attend were great and I actually had a chance to talk to them a little longer, tell a few stories, swoon a little more. And, as always, Sam—the festival chieftain—and her army of festival volunteers were wonderful hosts and I look forward to returning next year.

Two things made my weekend worth the eleven-hour round trip. First, I met an extraordinary young author—Jesse Saperstein. Jesse has written about life with Asperger’s called “Getting a Life With Asperger’s.” He’s amazing and was a delightful companion under our tent. Jesse also has accomplished what I dreamed of when I was his age—he backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail. No, you read that right ... the entire trail. Jesse is one of those people you meet and walk away wondering why you cannot be more positive and focused and uplifting. And, sitting here, at this moment, I feel a little stupid having complained this morning. His achievements and life-perspective are remarkable. I cannot wait to see him next year and find out what new milestone he has set for the rest of us. Look at Jesse’s world at (note, the link is temporarily down, but it should be working soon.)

The second event worth my trip was my reunion with two new-old pals I met last year at the festival—Jim Holmgren and Louis Romano. Jim is an author and of all things, a clock aficionado. He skipped selling books this year and volunteered again at the festival. He’s a wonderful guy and will be joining me for dinner in Winchester in a week or so when he is enroute to a Clock conference (yes, there is such a thing) in Tennessee. Jim’s one of those guys who is warm and engaging and makes you feel important. Yet under his veneer is a ticking master author of Swiss proportions (sorry, couldn’t help myself). Lou is an author and a businessman who is knocking the world down with his books—Intercession, So You Think I’m Dead, and Besa. He writes about the Albania mob and true crime and is hoping to turn Besa into a movie soon. These two characters and I raised hell, told lies and one or two true stories, and entertained an audience during a panel discussion on our books. We shared the panel with another great author, Chris Orcutt, who dazzled the audience with quotes from Hemmingway, Aristotle, and Raymond Chandler—but I have to say, Lou and I clowned around as much as we talked serious biz. Oops, maybe we’ll focus a little more next year. I’m looking forward to it.

As I look at my calendar and think about how Jesse views all things as an opportunity, I see many of those now myself. There’s a fun book club in Erie, PA, in a week; Thriller Fest in Manhattan in July with my agent, the lovely and amazing Kimberley Cameron; a charity conference in Williamsburg, VA—Scares that Care—in July; Comic-Con in Dover, DE, in August; and The Suffolk Virginia Mystery Authors Festival (I cannot wait for this one!) in August. I’m speaking and paneling at the Mechanicsburg, PA’s Murder As You Like It mystery festival in September, and on and on into the fall. Damn … what am I complaining about? What would I be doing if not for these events to beg, er, seek an audience?

Well, truth be told, I’d be working on my new thriller and mystery. But, I can do that in hotel rooms and all my free time (wink wink). So why complain? Isn’t this exactly what I wanted?

Yep. So I’ll sit back and shut up now. I’ve whined and yawned and written this missive to get back on track. The extraordinary people I’ve met and those I will soon meet are the reason I love this writing-gig. No, really, I love this. It’s tiring and often stressful and expensive. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. One day, soon I hope, I’ll have enough fans to make each trip a little easier. If I don’t, I’ll just have to work harder and write better and whine less.

Honest, I will. You can trust me. I murder people and create anarchy for a living. It’s what I do.

Tj O’CONNOR IS THE GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE 2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS FOR MYSTERIES. He is the author of Dying to Know and Dying for the Past, available in bookstores and e-books from Midnight Ink. His third paranormal mystery, DYING TO TELL, will be released January 2016. He is currently working on a traditional mystery and a new thriller. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying to Know is also a Foreword Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award finalist.

Learn about Tj’s world at:

Web Site:


Monday, June 1, 2015

Meeting a Deadline

--by Linda O. Johnston

I did it!

Today was my deadline for the manuscript for my second Barkery & Biscuits Mystery for Midnight Ink, and I emailed it late yesterday.

Why am I excited about that?  I usually meet deadlines with no problem.  Or at least with little difficulty.  But this time I wound up having some family travel commitments that arose rather late within the writing process and I wasn't certain I'd make it.

But I did tell my wonderful Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff about my potential issue when I saw her at Malice Domestic, and she gave me some leeway, which I really appreciate.  Then I found I was able to meet the deadline anyway.   Mostly.  The Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries contain recipes, and although I received some dog treat recipes from some delightful online friends thanks to a request I posted, I want to try them out before including them.  I'll try to do that this week.

I recognize that deadlines are important in the publishing process, in order to make sure a book is published on schedule.  I fortunately have learned to write fairly quickly over the years so I can generally estimate a deadline that will work for me.

But life does happen.

Anyway, I'm not mentioning my working title for this book #2 in the series since it may change.  The first one, BITE THE BISCUIT, was a May release, and as far as I know book #2 will be published next May.  In between, the second Superstition Mystery, KNOCK ON WOOD, will be published in October.  Its predecessor, Superstition Mystery #1, LOST UNDER A LADDER, was published last October.  Do you see a trend here?  I do.  And by the way, I'm also writing two romance series at the same time...

Yes, deadlines can be challenging for me.  But they can be challenging for everyone, no matter what it is you're doing in your life. 

So what's your next deadline?  I guess I'd better check what mine is and get to work