How Long Should a Book Series Continue?

July 13th, 2015

Book 13 of the Klepto Cat Mystery series is in the works. Book 12 is being formatted for your Kindle as we speak. The Purrfect Lie (12) should be available some time early next month.

At what point should a series end? Is there a typical or a logical stopping place for a series? It appears not. Some book series have continued for years and years. Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, for example, is 21 strong and she plans 26 of them. Lilian Jackson Braun wrote 34 in The Cat Who series and the Perry Mason series is 82 stories strong.

It appears that as long as you have a story to tell and an audience eager to read it, your series does not have to die.

What are some of the challenges in writing a series?

  • The author might run out of ideas for fresh, new stories.
  • It becomes difficult to stay true to your characters.
  • You might need to establish new characters to move your stories forward.
  • The time element can get in the way when you produce books at a fast pace.

At what point should you veer into another direction or create another series? Presumably, when you burn out on the current series or when your audience appears to be bored with your characters and your storyline.

What are my plans for the future of the Klepto Cat Mysteries? This is a question most authors of a series are asked. I don’t have a cut-off number. Right now I’m focused on continuing to develop stories around Savannah, Michael and their klepto cat, Rags. I may continue on through a dozen more stories or I might decide at number fifteen to try something new. So far, I’m making the decision to continue by the seat of my pants. In other words, once I finish a book I sit down at the computer and, if another Klepto Cat story begins to form at my fingertips, I go for it.

If I were to sit staring at a blank computer screen for any length of time, I might consider conjuring up a whole new cast of characters. As it is, I’m gearing up to continue producing and supporting the Klepto Cat Mysteries. We just received new business cards featuring the series. I’ve had new bookmarks designed and we’re going into the stationary business. Yes, we’ll be offering note cards featuring some of the book covers.

If you like light reading and enjoy stories featuring interesting cats, consider adding the Klepto Cat Mysteries to your reading list. All 11 currently published stories are on Kindle. The first 7 are now in print. Order your copies at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

 

Mansion of Meows FREE July 7

July 6th, 2015

If you haven’t read any of the Klepto Cat Mysteries or you’ve read and enjoyed some of them, here’s an opportunity you might want to take advantage of. I’m doing a FREE promotion for the 9th in the series–Mansion of Meows. It runs for 24 hours on Tuesday, July 7. Order your Kindle copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Mansion-Meows-Klepto-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00TJ9D7T4/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436183445&sr=1-5&keywords=klepto+cat+mysteries

Sell Books This Summer

June 24th, 2015

Are you taking advantage of the season? It’s summer, you know. And what do people do during the summer months? They travel, they take time off work and relax around the house, and they visit friends and family. Many of them use this down time to catch up on their reading.

Think about it, you see people reading in airports, on planes, at the beach, while riding in cars on the freeway. And we read in private, too—at home in our backyard while the kids play in their kiddy pool, in the den after dinner, and in bed before lights out.

I’m sure you’re thinking that at least a portion of those readers should be reading your book. And they will be if you’ve written a book in the genre they enjoy, if it is written well, and if they know about your book and can easily locate and purchase it.

Don’t think like a hopeful author who has no concept of business—who simply wants to write and be read with little effort. In order to sell books, you must take on a business stance and start thinking like the CEO of your book. In business, we consider our customers and our competition and make sure we provide a unique product or service that is needed/wanted by a large group of consumers. Then we spread the word, advertise, widely promote the product or service so the consumer is aware of it and becomes interested in making a purchase.

If you want to sell your book, you must promote it. If you want your book to sell widely and continuously, then you’ll need to keep on promoting it.

If you still don’t grasp the concept of book promotion, please do your summer reading with my book, “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” It’s at Amazon in print, Kindle format, and audio. http://www.amazon.com/Promote-Your-Book-Techniques-Enterprising/dp/1581158572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435146447&sr=8-1&keywords=promote+your+book%2C+over

Klepto Cat Update

We’re still cranking out the mysteries here in the Matilija Press offices this summer. My 11th Klepto Cat Mystery, PAWSitively Sinister debuted this month. And the reviews are stunning! Check all 11 mysteries out: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

As a reminder, the cats are ordinary cats—some of them doing extraordinary things. Only the people talk. These are cozy mysteries or light mysteries with a little humor and romance woven through. Try one this summer, you’ll probably get hooked.

 

How to Launch a Successful Book

June 18th, 2015

I teach and preach about the importance of marketing for authors. Here are a couple of examples from my own recent experiences. As you know, I’m currently promoting my Klepto Cat Mysteries. I’m also still working with other authors on their projects—editing and consulting.

When a new book in the Klepto Cat Mystery series comes out, I immediately go into high marketing mode. My book suddenly becomes a product and I am the CEO of the company that has produced the product. (This is the attitude authors should take whether they self-publish, become independent publishers or go with a traditional publisher.)

Here is one result of my promotional efforts for the latest Klepto Cat Mystery, “PAWSitively Sinister.” It’s an incredibly positive 5-star review. http://www.mikishope.com/2015/06/book-review-pawsitively-sinister-klepto.html

Fran Silverman is the founder of the Book Promotion Newsletter and she’s a talk radio advocate. She made a connection for me with Lana at Talk Zone and we did a radio interview yesterday. Listen here: http://www.talkzone.com/episodes/199/DBI061615.html

This morning, I had a note from a librarian in New Hampshire who has ordered all 6 of the print books and wonders when the other 5 Klepto Cat Mysteries (now on Kindle) will be available in print.

Next week, I’m being interviewed for a TV show. This invitation came about when a colleague mentioned my new venture in mystery-writing to a producer.

Folks, none of this would have happened if I wasn’t actively spreading the word about my books with every publication. It isn’t luck or happenstance. It takes thought and planning and action. Thought, planning, action.

For more precise and detailed guidance with your writing or publishing project, be sure to read “Publish Your Book” and “Promote Your Book.” Soon to join these books is “Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books.” I’ll be making an official announcement soon.

 

Patricia Fry/Klepto Cat Mysteries–an Interview

June 17th, 2015

Rags and I have been interviewed over at the Socrates Book Review site. Be sure to check it out because we’re talking about the latest Klepto Cat Mystery, PAWSitively Sinister. http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2015/06/spotlightinterview-pawsitively-sinister.html

The new book has two Amazon reviews so far and both are 5-stars. If you like cats who get involved in intricate mysteries with an other-worldly flavor, you’re going to enjoy this story like crazy! See (and order) all of the Klepto Cat Mysteries here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

If you are an author and you wonder how we’ve managed to get so much attention so quickly, stay tuned to this blog site as we often talk about book promotion. Read former posts under the “Book Promotion” tag. And order your copy of “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” It’s at Amazon for Kindle, in print and audio. The print version is also at www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html

 

Another NEW Klepto Cat Mystery!

June 10th, 2015

PAWSivitely Sinister is now available for download to your Kindle.

This is the 11th book in the Klepto Cat Mystery series and what a story it is: The Ivey family travel to San Francisco to help Arthur and his long-time friend, Suzette, clean out the mansion. News of the massive estate sale lures a variety of people, including former residents and long-ago visitors, each carrying stories of bizarre activities occurring there in the past.

When Rags and his pawtner Koko make some ghastly and ghostly discoveries, everyone goes into research mode and they’re stunned by what they uncover—evidence of people gone missing, a treasure-trove of loot, and spirits unable to rest. This is by far the most PAWSitively Sinister story in the series.

The cover is the most amazing, as well. It will soon be on notecards for you to purchase.

Order your Kindle copy of PAWSivitely Sinister ($2.99)  here: http://www.amazon.com/PAWSitively-Sinister-Klepto-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZB5WHNC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433943188&sr=8-1&keywords=pawsitively+sinister

See all 11 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

 

Living the Lives of Others

June 9th, 2015

Before I started writing fiction, I had one life—mine. Now, I find myself living the lives of some of my characters, as well. I get into their heads and I imagine what their attitudes/stance/gestures would be in certain situations. I guess it’s a good thing I’m a Gemini who is accustomed to being a sort of dual personality, because when you have a lot of characters to keep track of, it can be confusing.

That’s why it’s so important to know your characters inside and out. Sure, you can jot down each character’s traits, characteristic, mannerisms, etc. on cards or a character log—and I do that. But it’s also important to feel them—to feel like they would feel so you are more apt to have them act or react in the way that’s appropriate for that particular character.

If you can get into your characters’ head, you probably won’t make the mistake of having the meek sister come across sounding like the wicked aunt or the brash neighbor speaking words that are more suited to the teenager.

When I edit fiction for other authors, often I catch some of the characters using the same terminology I see in the narration—the author has put too much of himself into the characters. It’s okay to ease yourself into your story, of course, but it can get confusing when a couple of the characters use the same terms and phrases as the author does in the narration, or when one character sounds too much like another.

It’s tough changing personalities with every bit of dialog. How does one define each character through description and dialog?

I’m sure each author has his/her own technique. I kind of jump in and out of each character as I write—and later as I edit. You could also use one editing session (I trust you will engage in many) to focus on one main character. Concentrate just on his or her dialog, etc. Then go through the manuscript again focusing on another key character. But if you can become that character as you portray them in various situations throughout your story, all the better.

As for an update from the pen of Patricia Fry and the Klepto Cat Mysteries…I expect the formatter to finish book 11 (PAWsitively Sinister) for Kindle this month. I just sent book 12 to the proofreader and I’ve been having fun developing the plot for book 13. Oh yes, and book 7, The Corral Cat Caper, should be in print later this month. Order your copies of the Klepto Cat Mysteries here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2.

 

Gourmet Writing

May 30th, 2015

I was watching a cooking show the other day and realized how much good writing is like gourmet cooking.

First, in order to be a good writer, you must have some level of knowledge about the process of writing, just as, in order to prepare a good meal, you must know something about the science of cooking.

Then you need the courage to dive in and start your project, whether it is a dish or a manuscript. With time and practice, you develop skills and techniques.

The chef becomes adept at creating an exquisite dish by adding layers of the right flavors, just as the author can create a wonderful story by massaging it until it has all of the right elements.

In either case, the pathway to a great result is the same—knowledge/education, the right ingredients, a generous measure of time and space, a deep understanding of the craft, and love and respect for the process.

Authors, If it Ain’t Broke…

May 23rd, 2015

We’ve all heard (and used) the term—“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what if it IS broken? What if your book sales are not what you had expected or hoped for? What if your promotional efforts (or lack of) are not producing sales? Then it’s time to change your tactics.

People ask me why my Klepto Cat Mystery books aren’t available for the Nook, for example. Well, Amazon offers an exclusive package through their Kindle Direct Program and, since sales have been amazing from the start of my relationship with this program, I haven’t considered making a change. I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to sell even more books, however, and to get more exposure for them. Wouldn’t you?

Are your book sales meeting your expectations? Maybe you’re offering your novel in print form only and sales are disappointing. I can tell you that novelists are devouring books on e-readers. Consider formatting your book for Kindle, Nook, etc. and see what happens.

Of course, you’d better also be promoting your book like crazy—getting exposure for your book. Contact reviewers of books in your genre, visit blog sites and websites related to the genre and post something, go out and talk about your book, build your own website and offer irresistible content—contests, fun facts about the era or topic of your book, etc.

Another way to ramp up your sales is to add to your “merchandise.” Create a series. The more books you have, the more sales you can expect. If your cover or the theme of your book is a real eye-catcher, offer coffee mugs, pens, note cards, t-shirts…

I’m a believer in opportunistic promotion. In other words, always carry bookmarks and offer a couple to someone you see wearing a t-shirt depicting the theme of your book–a cat, horse, antique car, movie or cartoon character, for example. Leave bookmarks lying around in restrooms, on picnic tables, on the bulletin board at the library… Carry a book with you and pull it out when you’re having lunch, sitting on a park bench, waiting for a plane. Yeah, read your own book. What better way to capture the attention of other readers…

Sure some of these suggestions won’t necessary garner huge numbers of sales, but these are things you can do in the course of your ordinary day. Why spend a day out among potential readers and not use the opportunity to get exposure for your book? In fact, you can wear a t-shirt with your book cover on the front—or back, have jewelry fashioned to represent your book title or theme, wear a baseball cap with the book’s title or carry a tote bag with the cover on it.

Be brash or be subtle, but do something that’s going to get your book noticed. If you don’t, who will? And if no one does, your book will die a very fast death.

If you’re still confused or intimidated by this thing called book promotion, be sure to read “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html Also available at Amazon in print, for Kindle and audio.

 

Understanding Reader Reviews

May 16th, 2015

You’ll hear people say, “Don’t pay any attention to your book reviews—they’re meaningless.”

Well, I beg to differ. I find both positive and negative reviews often helpful. Not all of them, of course. There are mean-spirited people who leave nasty reviews. There are readers who download Kindle books free just because they’re free even though it isn’t the type of book they would ever read. And they have the gall to leave a review—a negative review, of course.

No, those reviews should be ignored. Let’s focus on the two types of reviews that can be helpful.

  • Rave reviews. As authors, we love positive feedback. We thrive on compliments and accolades. The 5-star reviews with a gush of praise let us know we have an audience and they enjoy our stories or find our nonfiction books useful. Positive reviews keep us writing. We can use phrases from these reviews in our promotion—for back cover copy, etc. And numbers of these reviews serve to influence other readers—or at least we can hope they do.
  • Critical reviews. Oh do we hate to see a minimal line of stars next to a new review and we shudder when we read a complaint or unfavorable comment. Granted, some of them are a bit unfair. I’ve had readers ding one of my Klepto Cat Mysteries simply because they don’t like cats, they were uncomfortable with the discussion about the plight of feral cats, they disagreed with a word I used, etc. But I’ve also learned a lot from reviewers and reader-reviewers. I have used the wrong word. I have drawn outside the lines when it comes to being true to my genre. I have forgotten to cross a T or dot an i occasionally and I appreciate it when an astute reader or reviewer points it out.

Certainly, I’d rather they contact me personally rather than blast it on my Klepto Cat Mystery page at Amazon. I’m very easy to find on the Internet. But I do take all comments to heart and act on those that it makes sense to. If it is a suggestion about my style of writing or the way my storyline flows, for example, and if I agree, I consider this for the next book in the series.

If you’re an author, you’ve probably learned that not every reader sees the same thing in the books they read. If you’re not yet published, prepare yourself. Take a look at the reviews for my Klepto Cat Mystery books and you’ll see what I mean. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2