Sunday, July 29, 2007

Writing Myths

Myth #1 - Writers Write Every Day

I'm sure there are some writers who actually write everyday, who force themselves to sit at their computers until they get their three hours, or four pages, or 1500 words.

I'm not one of them.

I do prioritize my writing, as all writers should. It's important to submit stories, finish books, meet deadlines. Hence the label writer. But in today's hectic world, I simply can't find the time to write every day.

If you can't find the time either, don't sweat it. Write when you can. You can prioritize something without being a slave to it.

Myth #2 - Writers Need Inspiration

I've never sat at a blank monitor, waiting to get inspired.

I write because I'm already inspired.

The age-old question, "Where do you get your ideas?" is actually backwards. It's the ideas that make writers want to write, not the other way around.

If I have a muse, it's my paycheck. That doesn't mean I don't love writing. It means I'm lucky enough to have writing as my job, and no one has a job where they're inspired 24/7.

Writers write, inspiration or not.

Myth #3 - Writing Is Difficult

Working in a factory is hard. Getting paid for your thoughts is a privilege.

Folks who complain about writing being hard need to spend a day working construction, or bar tending, or on an assembly line, or landscaping.

If it's so tortuous, so difficult, so hair-pullingly awful, why do it? Life is too short. Do something you like, or at least something that pays better.

Myth #4 - Writing Must Have Integrity

This goes along with "writing is art" and posits that our written thoughts are somehow important.

Writers are entertainers. We're the guys that tap dance on the street corner for change.

Sure, our work can have meaning. It can inspire and enthrall. But, at the end of the day, we're still not offering our readers food, clothing, shelter, or love. We're non-essential, no matter how eloquent our prose.

Plus, we still have to pay the bills. That often means doing things we don't want to do. Editing. Changing things. Maybe even writing about stuff we don't care about.

What? You don't want to sell out? You'd never let your precious words be touched, or write something for just for money? You really believe that the world owes you a job simply because you can put a noun and a verb together?

I wish you much success, and hope I never have the displeasure of sitting next to you at a party.

Myth #5 - Writer's Don't Have to Think About Sales

I've heard this one ad nauseum. Here are some of the follow-ups:

"It's a publisher's job to sell books." Really? It's your name on the book. If it fails, your publisher will still be around. You won't.

"I have no idea what genre I fit into." Congrats! You spent a year creating something that no one will want, simply because you were too self-absorbed to open your eyes.

"I can't make a difference in my sales." Books sell one at a time. Sell one, you've made a difference.

"I hate self-promoting." No one is forcing you to self-promote. No one forced you to be a writer, either. In fact, chances are you worked hard and dreamed about becoming a writer for many years, doing a lot of jobs that you really hated in order to support yourself. But now that you've been published, you think you can stop doing things you dislike?

Answer the phone, reality is calling.

(I should put that on a T-Shirt.)

Myth #6 - Good Books Always Sell

Out of all the writing myths I know, people stick most stubbornly to this one. As if the key to success is simply writing a good book. Perhaps they believe that at night, while the world sleeps, their books leap off the shelves and fly through the air visiting homes through chimneys like Santa Clause, whispering subliminal messages to snoozing readers to buy them the next day.

Writing a good book is only the first step. There are no guarantees it will even be published, let alone sell well. The best book ever written will be a miserable failure if no one knows it exists.

Your job, after writing the book, is to tell people it exists. If your book doesn't succeed, then write another one.

Myth #7 - Writers Are Rich and Famous

Maybe a few of them are. The rest of us struggle to pay our bills and don't have enough fame to talk our way out of a speeding ticket.

Myth #8 - Not Everyone Can Write

Writing is craft, and craft can be taught.

If there's a super-talented egomaniac with a sense of entitlement that matches his flair for prose and an average Joe who studies the market, hones his craft, responds to feedback, and keeps at it, my money is on Joe Average getting published first--and then having a more successful career when he does.

Hard work trumps talent. Persistence trumps inspiration. Humilty trumps ego.

Myth #9 - Writers Are Alcoholics

This one is true. Where the hell did I put that beer?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Have you ever tried to start a fire?

Our backyard is the size of a postage stamp, but we have just enough room for a few chairs, a grill, and a fire chimney--one of those cast iron ovens that looks like a pear and makes a campfire safe and supposedly easy.

Well, starting fires isn't easy.

Though a fire doesn't fit the strictest definition of "life" it still eats, breathes, and reproduces. And, like life, it requires care to thrive.

If you're new to starting fires, you'll throw some wood on a pile, hit it with a match, and hope for the best.

Sometimes luck is on your side, and you'll soon have an inferno.

But most of the time, starting a fire takes more effort than that. You need to properly stack the wood, so air can flow around and through it. You need kindling, or tinder, or both, and perhaps even an accelerant. And then you need to keep a vigilant eye on the fire, poking and prodding and feeding it until it's big enough to last for a awhile without constant attention.

Sound familiar?

Yesterday I dropped in 11 bookstores with the talented Tasha Alexander (And Only to Deceive, A Poisoned Season) and the talented Renee Rosen (Every Crooked Pot.)

We were starting fires.

I signed 93 books. Not a huge amount, considering I have several hundred thousand in print. Hardly a dent, really. And while several of the booksellers we met were interested and enthused to see us, in a few cases we were met with apathy. That's how drop-ins go. Some are great. Some make you scratch your head and wonder why you're doing this.

Still, I consider this time well spent. Signed books have a better sell-through. They're put in higher profile places around the store. Meeting booksellers is always a good thing. Plus, tending to your career, even in small ways, is more productive than sitting on your ass with your fingers crossed, hoping things go well.

Your writing career, like a fire, has no guarantees. Sometimes what you think was a sure thing won't turn out. Sometimes you can spend a long time stoking and still not get a good burn going. Often parts of the fire will die when you focus on other parts. And even if you do everything right, it might rain anyway.

But the more attention you pay to your fire, the longer it will last. The same goes with your writing career.

This philosophy, while excruciatingly simple to understand, is still met with a lot of resistance from some of my peers.

Many writers hate promoting. Visiting 11 bookstores in a day (or 618 in a year) is unthinkable. They believe that a writer's job is to write a good book, and that's all.

If you want to write books and then cross your fingers, that's up to you. Build the woodpile, throw the match, and walk away.

But anyone who has had any experience building fires knows the importance of maintenance. The careful cultivation of the flames once they start is important.

For those who haven't been beaten over the head with this analogy yet, tending a fire equals self-promotion.

It makes perfect sense to self-promote. Your books are your brand. No matter how good your brand is, you still need to make people aware it exists. As creator of the brand, you are uniquely suited to extol its virtues. And since it is your name on the brand, you have a vested interest in its success.

But some writers still resist this. There are reasons for this resistance:
  • Fear of failure, or public speaking.
  • Conceit, or a belief that promo isn't needed because the book is so good.
  • The deep-rooted human trait that makes us dig in and defend our actions rather than question them.
  • An incorrect view of how publishing works.
  • A sense of entitlement, which posits that writers write and it's the job of the publishers and booksellers to sell.
  • Having tried self-promo in the past, and not getting the expected results from it.
  • Believing that writers can't make a difference in sales, and that promotion is futile.
  • The need to disagree because if they agree, they'll feel guilty about not doing enough to help their own career.

Do you have to self-promote?

No. There's no law or rule that says you have to.

You don't have to brush your teeth either, and you might still live your whole life without getting a cavity.

That doesn't make it good advice.

For those interested in picking up signed JA Konrath books (along with signed Tasha Alexander and Renee Rosen books) you can visit one of the following fine Chicago establishments:

Barnes & Noble at Webster Place

Barnes & Noble on Diversey

Barnes & Noble on State Street

Barnes & Noble on Touhy

Borders on Clark

Borders on Lincoln

Borders on Michigan

Borders on North Ave

Waldenbooks at 900 N. Michigan

Borders on State Street

Borders on Broadway

On July 25, I'll be at Mystery One Books in Milwaukee, at 7pm until at least 8pm. Stop by and say hi.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More on Drop-Ins

So, I've started again.

After about seven months off (aside from a few isolated instances) I've once again climbed into the RustyMobile to drop in bookstores and sign stock/schmooze booksellers.

There are those who question the cost effectiveness of doing drop-ins, both in terms of time and money.

Those people are wrong.

I went to seven bookstores yesterday, all of which I'd visited last year, and had the same basic experience at all of them.

1. No store had less than 15 of my books. Some had more than 30. Even though none of them expected me to show up, or knew I was coming.

2. The booksellers knew who I was, even if they hadn't met me. I always wondered about this. When I visit a store, I only meet a small portion of the people working there. But booksellers tell other booksellers that an author dropped in, so I shook hands with folks who I'd never met before who knew I visited last year, and knew about my books.

3. The free books my publisher sent them were received and appreciated. As far as promotions go, nothing beats a free books.

4. Many stores ordered more books before I left. In a few cases, they were out of one of my early titles, but my visit prompted them to order more. I also found out that I was on the "automatic re-order" list for several of the stores.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be visiting stores in most of Northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, southern Michigan, and parts of Indiana. I've got about 150 lined up.

In the meantime, if you're looking for signed JA Konrath books and you can't make my Chuck E. Cheese Book Luanch Party on July 26, visit one of these fine establishements:

Poisoned Pen, Phoenix AZ

Borders, Schaumburg IL

Barnes & Noble, Schaumburg IL

Waldenbooks, Bloomingdale IL

Brain Snacks, Downer's Grove IL

Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdale IL

Borders, Wheaton IL

Barnes & Noble, Wheaton IL

Borders, St. Charles IL

Barnes & Noble, Geneva IL

Borders, Geneva IL

Now, back to the road...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Newsletter #7

Straight Up - The Official Newsletter of Author J.A. Konrath #7

In this issue:
--Book Launch Party
--The Dirty Martini Tour
--Bookseller Contest
--Reviewer Contest
--Writing Contest Winners
--Library Contest Winner
--Free Whiskey Sours
--Books for Troops
--Recent News
--Summer Reads


You're on this mailing list because you love books. I love them, too. This email is my way of reaching out to readers, librarians, bookstore employees, fellow authors, and giving you free stuff. If you want to be taken off this list, just reply with REMOVE in the header or opt out using the link at the bottom. If you've asked to be removed from this newsletter and haven't been, I apologize--my current address book got corrupted and I had to rebuild it using an older file. Sorry--won't happen again. If you've signed up for this newsletter and haven't received it, you probably aren't reading this, but I apologize anyway.

My fourth Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thriller novel, DIRTY MARTINI, has just been released in hardcover and on audio CD and MP3. It's gotten some terrific reviews, and unlike the previous books in the series, this one has very little violence in it. But rest assured, there's still alot of scares and suspense, as well as some big laughs. If you would like to read or listen to the first seven chapters for free, visit

The first three novels in the series, WHISKEY SOUR, BLOODY MARY, and RUSTY NAIL, are currently available in paperback, hardcover, and on audio. They'll make you laugh, and then scare your socks off. Please head to your favorite bookstore and buy fifteen copies of each for yourself and everyone you know.

Now let's get to the fun stuff:


I'm having a booklaunch party for DIRTY MARTINI, on Thursday, July 26, from 8pm until 9:30pm.

After carefully considering many venues, and taking into account the tastes and needs of my close friends and fans, I've decided to hold the launch at Chuck E. Cheese, on 990 S. Barrington Rd, Streamwood Illinois. The first thirty people to buy books will also get free game tokens.

Yes, I'm serious.

There will be pizza, beer, wine, and pictures with Chuck E. Cheese the giant mouse. I encourage you to come by, say hello, and get a signed copy of any of my books. Everyone is invited, except for Al Gore, who I'm mad at for not returning my calls. I'm having a big Styrofoam bonfire at the party, Al. Then we're going to play "Improperly dispose of the used batteries" at a nearby pond. Then, Twister.


After visiting 29 states on tour last year, my lovely wife has threatened me with violence if I ever do that again. But I will still be dropping in stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana all summer, and there's also a good chance I'll visit stores on the West Coast, including Washington, Oregon, and California late summer/early fall. Keep an eye on my website for details. The only "official" signing I currently have planned is on July 25 at Mystery One in Milwaukee, where I'll be appearing alongside legal thriller author David Ellis. Hope to see you there.


On the back of DIRTY MARTINI, instead of the standard quotes by reviewers and bigshot authors, I feature blurbs by booksellers. I love booksellers. In fact, I thank over 1300 booksellers by name in the acknowledgments of Dirty Martini. If you are a bookseller, I encourage you to write a quote of your own for Dirty Martini. Send it to me at I'll put it on my homepage, and name a character in my next book after the bookseller who sends me the coolest quote.


I enjoy being reviewed, whether it's in a newspaper, a newsletter, a listserv, on a website, a blog, MySpace, a bulletin board, an online review site, a bookstore site, etc. Write a review of Dirty Martini, and put it someplace where people can read it, and you'll be thanked in the acknowledgments of FUZZY NAVEL, coming out next year. Simple as that. The first twenty reviewers will also get something free. I have several copies of DIRTY MARTINI on audio CD and MP3 (featuring another amazing vocal performance by Dick Hill and Susie Breck) plus various copies of anthologies I've been in. The freebies will be autographed, of course.


I apologize for taking so long to judge this contest. I wish I had time to personally respond to everyone who submitted a story, but I was overwhelmed by over five hundred entries. There are a lot of great writers out there!

After some torturous deliberation, I've selected one winner and five runner-ups. Each will get a signed hardcover book, and the winner will also get a hundred bucks, and my help with crafting a query letter.

The runner ups (in no particular order) are:

Al Bixby
Jonette Stabbert
Alan Peden
Steve Hagood
Richard M. Coad

And the overall winner is Dwayne L. Williamson, for his crime story, "Buried and Dead."

Thanks to all who entered!

If you didn't win, don't dwell on it. Rejection is part of being a writer. Remember, I collected almost 500 rejections before I sold a single word. Keep writing, keep trying, and never say die.


After printing up over 400 entries and picking one at random, the winner is:

Denise Gullikson and the Andersen Library in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

Congrats, Denise! We'll coordinate a time for me to visit your library, give away some free books, and do a talk.


Haven't read any of my books yet? Now you can, for free. WHISKEY SOUR, the first Jack Daniels book, is available as a free pdf file for a limited time on My print publisher, Hyperion, is limiting the freebies to the first 1000 downloads, so act quickly. You can read the entire text of WHISKEY SOUR on your computer, or you can print it out, put it on your tablet PC, PDA, ebook reader, Palm Pilot, Blackberry, iPhone, etc. Be sure to tell all your friends, and drop me a line to let me know what you think of it.


Are we MySpace Best Friends Forever yet? Visit my page at and join my 15,000 other BFFs, each of whom I know by name and stay in constant touch with because they are so very dear to me.


Believe it or not, there's a JA Konrath Library in Iraq. A friend of mine is stationed there, and I put out a call to send him books for his fellow troops. They've gotten several hundred so far, but those were mostly by Nora Roberts. If you have some extra books lying around, send them to:

Soldiers of C Co / 163 MI Bn
c/o 1SG Hansen
COB Speicher
APO AE 09393


The anthology I edited, THESE GUNS FOR HIRE, just received some great news. Author Julie Hyzy won a well-deserved Derringer Award for her contribution, STRICTLY BUSINESS. The antho features hitman and assassin stories from many top thriller writers, and is a must-read for everyone who loves mysteries. Visit for details.

My short story EPITAPH, which is a Jack Daniels tie-in, was recently nominated for a British Dagger Award. It appears in the anthology THRILLER edited by James Patterson, now available in paperback.

If you're looking for more Jack Daniels stories, there's one in the upcoming anthology CHICAGO BLUES edited by Libby Fischer Hellmann.

I have a fun essay about Janet Evanovich in the recently released PERFECTLY PLUM, edited by Leah Wilson.

My gross little horror story, Mr. Pull Ups, is now available in the anthology TALES FROM THE RED LION.

I recently returned from Rome, Naples, and Milan in Italy, hosted by my Italian publisher Alacran Edizioni. If you, or someone you know, reads Italian, pick up their gorgeous edition of Whiskey Sour at or

Whiskey Sour, I'm pleased to report, was just reprinted and is now in its third paperback edition. I'm thrilled by the support from Hyperion and from all of the fans who have embraced the book and the series.


If you've read all four of the Jack Daniels books (thanks!) and are desperately looking for something good to read, I heartily recommend the following:

A POISONED SEASON by Tasha Alexander - I normally don't like historical fiction, but I love this series.
BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD by Sean Chercover - Great mystery debut.
BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE by Lee Child - Another awesome Jack Reacher novel.
REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASSIN by Barry Eisler - Eisler keeps getting better and better.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER by David Ellis - An amazing serial killer novel.
THE MEPHISTO CLUB by Tess Gerritsen - Gerritsen's best yet.
SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD by Melanie Lynne Hauser - Funny and touching chick/mom lit.
SLEEPING WITH FEAR by Kay Hooper - Kay is wonderful.
CROSSHAIRS by Harry Hunsicker - Number three in one of my favorite new mystery series.
HELL'S BELLES by Jackie Kessler - Fun supernatural chick-lit.
SCAVENGER by David Morrell - An amazing follow up to CREEPERS.
A THOUSAND BONES by PJ Parrish - Awesome thriller.
THE MARK by Jason Pinter - Incredible debut.
THE JUDAS STRAIN by James Rollins - One of the best thriller authors out there.
THE REINCARNATIONIST by MJ Rose - MJ is always fantastic.
EVERY CROOKED POT by Renee Rosen - A heartfelt coming-of-age story.
THE BLADE ITSELF by Marcus Sakey - Great thriller debut.
ON THE ROPES by Tom Schreck - Great mystery debut.
PRESSURE by Jeff Strand - One of the scariest books I've ever read.
SERPENT'S KISS by Mark Terry - Great follow-up to DEVIL'S PITCHFORK.
SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY by Robert W. Walker - Walker's terrific sequel to CITY FOR RANSOM.


Free stuff is cool. A few times a year I have a random drawing for free J.A. Konrath merchandise, and everyone on my mailing list is eligible. Two newsletter subscribers have been randomly picked to receive some cool gifts.

The lucky winners this time are:

Lucky Andringa
Cynthia Paulino

Lucky and Cynthia, email me to get your gifts.

Remember, even if you didn't win, you can still get free stuff and also get mentioned in the acknowledgments of FUZZY NAVEL by writing a review of DIRTY MARTINI.

Keep an eye on for updates and news. Book #5, FUZZY NAVEL, is due out June 2008.

See you on the road!

JA Konrath

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Follow-Up

I feel I do pretty well at self-promoting.

I meet a lot of key people--booksellers, librarians, and fans--both in person and online. I try my best to make a good impression by being friendly, approachable, helpful, courteous, thankful, and genuine. I know how to pitch, how to give good interview in print, radio, and TV, and how to make sure I hit key points that will hopefully lead to sales, or at least to being remembered.

But I have an Achilles heel. I'm crummy at the Follow-Up.

The Follow-Up is a simple, yet powerful, self-promotional tool. In short, it's reaffirming the relationship (a bookstore meeting, a well done interview, a great review) by responding within a relatively short period of time. Sometimes the response is a simple "Thanks!" Sometimes it's a reminder (my new book is currently available.) Sometimes it's simply a note to say we should keep in touch.

A Follow-Up makes a person feel special, while also keeping you in the forefront of that person's mind. It takes very little time to do.

Yet, for some reason, I stink at it.

Here are some things you (and I) should be working on to better our Follow-Up skills:

  1. Answer Email. This should be a no-brainer, but if you're like me and your In-Box is larger than your last novel, keeping up with email is a daunting task. Every few weeks I get obsessed and go on an email-answering frenzy. But it's much easier to keep control of your email with this simple trick: Respond as soon as you read it. Then there are no huge, daunting pile-ups, and everyone who contacts you, whether they be fan, peer, or newbie writer asking for blurbs, gets a timely response rather than thinking you're an ignorant jerk.

  2. Respond to Posts. If you're like me, and you lurk on writing message boards (, listservs (, Yahoo Groups, newsgroups (news://alt.fiction.orginal/) other authors websites and blogs, and the many other places on the Internet that allow exchanges of information, you'll often occasionally post something. It's easy to post once, then disappear, thinking your work there is done. It's a much better idea to stick around and have some conversations. Remember; No one enjoys being sold something. But people do like to communicate with authors. Like a good website, or blog, it's about what you have to give, not what you ant to sell.

    This also applies to your own blog. If you're getting a lot of responses, it's easy to forget to say thanks to those with kind words. Here's another tip: Check your old posts every so often. Google links to posts that are years old, and people will find them and leave comments, then check back to see if you've responded.

  3. MySpace. I'm awed at how much time I'm spending on MySpace lately, and the truth is I should be spending even more. I get a lot of MySpace messages and comments, sometimes a few dozen a day. I've been pretty good a bout responding to messages, but when someone posts a nice comment about me, I often don't reply. This is stupid. From now on, every time someone posts a comment on, I'm going to immediately post a comment on MySpace page. This not only makes the commenter feel good, but then my comment (along with my book cover and link) is on their page for all of their MySpace Friends to see. Ditto responses to your MySpace blog.

    Stay away from spamming. But a nice, personal comment is always welcome, and if it mentions you also have a new book coming out, not many people will mind.

  4. We all know that authors can blog on Amazon. You can also create Listmanias, sell stories on and post reviews. A new Amazon option allows people to respond to reviews directly.

    If you're an author, you should blog. You can read my Amazon blog, Listmanias, and reviews, by clicking on any of my books and scrolling down, or by checking out my Amazon Profile.

    There's a new feature that allows readers to comment on user reviews. I DO NOT recommend getting into a flamewar with the moron who gave your book one star. Authors should be above that. It's petty.

    However, if they guy is a real brain donor, go ahead. I love posting positive reviews of books I love, and following up by gently correcting the negative ones.

  5. Booksignings. You would think, with all the bookstores I visit, I'd have a master list of every single bookseller I've ever met. Sadly, I don't.

    I have business cards from many of them, but I rarely follow up after dropping by. A simple, "It's was great to visit your store!" email or postcard would go a long way toward getting booksellers to remember me, but I'm lax in this department.

    However, I'm working on changing that. In Dirty Martini, I thank over 1300 booksellers by name in the acknowledgements. And each store I stopped in on the Rusty Nail 500 got a free copy of the book, along with this letter:

    A note from author JA Konrath.

    Hello again! I'm saying "again" because I visited your bookstore last summer while touring the country for my third Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels mystery, RUSTY NAIL. That tour took me to 29 states, where I signed books at 618 bookstores.

    This store was one of them.

    Hyperion and I want to thank you for your support, so we've sent you a free copy of the newest Jack book, DIRTY MARTINI. Everyone else has to wait until July 3 (the release date) to read it.

    If I was lucky enough to have met you, or any of your co-workers, last year when I dropped in, I've listed you by name in the acknowledgements pages at the end of the book. If I spelled your name wrong or accidentally omitted you, email me at and I'll make sure you're in future editions.

    If I didn't get a chance to meet you last year, or if you haven't read my books before, DIRTY MARTINI is a good place to start. It's a fast, fun beach read, sort of a cross between the suspense of James Patterson and the humor of Janet Evanovich.

    Some of your peers have already read of DIRTY MARTINI, and they've said some wonderful things about it. Instead of the standard review snippets and author blurbs, my back jacket features bookseller quotes. I'm sorry we didn't have room for all of them. If you already sent me a quote, or if you like DIRTY MARTINI and want to send me one, I'll put your quote and your name on my website, I'll also name a character in my next book after the bookseller who sends my the coolest quote.

    As you already know, booksellers are not only the smartest, nicest, and sexiest people on the planet, they are also hugely influential. I'm humbled and honored that so many of you have embraced the Jack Daniels series, and have hand sold and recommended them to so many people. Thanks so much for your hard work and efforts. You're awesome.

    Hope to see you again soon...

Do you have any Follow-Up tips? If so, please list them here. I promise I'll respond. :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Michael Bay's latest blockbuster film, Transformers, is coming soon to a theater near you. I'm predicting it will make a lot of money.

For the three of you who don't remember, Transformers were toys from the 1980s. One of them was a robot that looked like a truck, which, with some clever manipulation, could be transformed into a truck that looked like a robot.

Why will a movie based on a 25 year old toy make a lot of money?


We remember Transformers the same way we all remember toys from our youth---with rose colored glasses. This movie has automatic name recognition with the Gen-X crowd. Many have children, who are the same age as they were when Transformers came out. They'll want to bring their kids and relive their own childhood.

Plus, Transformers have taken over our stores. You can't go into a supermarket, fast food chain, or watch TV without being assaulted by new Transformer toys and products.

It all fuels name recognition, which generates interest. Transformers will have a huge opening week.

But it will only be able to sustain ticket sales if the movie is good. If the movie is awful, ticket sales will plummet. Word-of-mouth has killed many big movies. I remember Battlefield Earth toys available at my local Toys R Us for fifty cents each. You can't market a turd.

Selling books (you knew we'd get around to that, right?) is also about name-recognition and branding. But word-of-mouth is essential too. A big marketing push by your publisher will fuel demand, but that demand will only be sustained if people like the book and tell other people about it.

Dirty Martini has been out officially for about a week, and began to trickle into stores two weeks ago.

From what I can interpret watching and calling Ingram, the book is doing better than the previous three.

Coop is part of that. Dirty Martini is on the new release table in the chains and major indies. It is in the public eye. Publicity plays a part. Dirty Martini is a Booksense Pick for August, which should help it sell in the indie stores. There have been some great reviews.

Name-recognition is also key. People who enjoyed my previous novels are buying this one. The time I've spent schmoozing booksellers and acquiring MySpace friends is helping my cause (I had three MySpace Friends show up to signings I had in Italy. MySpace works.)

I haven't begun promoting Dirty Martini yet. Very soon my newsletter will go out to 12k people, and I'll do a big Internet promotion. That should spike my numbers. Especially since I'll be "buying" advertising space with contests and freebies (you'll see what I mean when the newsletter is released.)

I'll also be doing some limited touring, which will help the cause.

But, ultimately, the fate of Dirty Martini, and of the series, comes down to word-of-mouth. If people like it, they'll tell others about it. Much of my promotion has been geared toward booksellers, because they are word-of-mouth megaphones. This time around, I'm going to see how many fans I can reach via the net to get them to spread the word.

Another thing about word-of-mouth; it builds. Now that I have four books out, I've found books are four times easier to sell. If I hook one new fan, they'll buy all four. As more books of mine are printed, they reach more people, which generates more word-of-mouth. As more books of mine are released, they take up more shelf space at libraries on at bookstores, leading to more people discovering them.

There's a snowball effect. Sales build on sales. James Rollins once told me that a hardcover is just an advertisement for the paperback. I believe a hardcover is an advertisement for the whole backlist.

But this cumulative effect only happens as long as books are still available. Which is why I spend so much time promoting, not just the new release, but the backlist as well.

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