Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where's Konrath? Blog Touring

I never believed that blog book tours work.

A blog book tour, for the uninitiated, is when an author appears on as many other blogs as possible, promoting their book. Sort of like actors doing a talk show circuit to promote a new movie.

I've never tried it before, but I came by my beliefs fairly. A few years ago, I had a contest with my friend and fellow author (not to mention self-promotional genius) MJ Rose. Our contest, if memory serves, was a virtual vs. physical book tour. She tried to make guest appearances on as many blogs as possible, while I tried to visit as many bookstores as possible.

I won. Not because MJ isn't an amazing marketer. But because this was 2006, and there weren't as many blogs, or blog readers, back then.

Well, now it's 2009, and I want to give it a shot.

As I've said ad nauseum, people don't like ads. They like information and entertainment.

So I'm going to give it to them. And I need your help.

I'm going to be contacting many of the blogs that I've linked to. Check the sidebar to see those blogs.

My blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, gets several hundred thousand unique hits a year. You can see by the FEEDJIT Live Traffic Map (that world map picture in the upper righthand corner) how many people are currently reading me.

Would you like my readers to become your readers? Here's how we can make that happen.

I invite you to invite me on your blog. You can interview me about anything at all, like promotion, or writing, or publishing. You can ask me to guest blog on specific topics. You can have me do a meme list. The sky is the limit.

Then, in March. I'm not going to blog anything new. Instead, every day I'm going to post a link and tell my readers to go to your blog, where I'm appearing.

You know how blogging works. You'll get a lot of new hits from new readers, and if they like you, they'll bookmark you and return.

Besides linking to your blog on my blog (which gets 700 to 1000 hits a day), I'll link to your blog on my Twitter (383 friends), on my Facebook (1641 friends) and on my MySpace (13218 friends.)

Win-win. You get new readers. I reach new demographics.

Will this work? Hell if I know. But in my last newsletter, I asked for fifty people to review my latest novel, and I got well over a hundred responses.

If I can fill up every day in March with guest blog spots, I think it would mean more traffic for everyone involved.

So over the next few days, I'll be contacting bloggers to ask to guest post.

If you'd like me to guest post on your blog, contact me and we'll set a date in March.

I love experiments like this. If it fails, authors will know that it's a big waste of time and effort. But if it works, we could actually be laying down the framework for a way to self-promote that doesn't involve airplanes, hotels, author escorts, or big bucks.

Email me at haknort(at) if you want to give this a shot.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Newsletter #9

While this is blatant self promotion, I'm posting it on my blog to show newbies how to write an effective newsletter. And so far, this one has proven effective.

1. Join and place an opt in/opt out box on your website to build a mailing list. It's reasonably priced, easy, and does everything for you.

2. Make sure your newsletter is about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. Like a website, it should impart information and entertainment. Yes, you should mention your latest projects. But contests and freebies also make it viral, causing your recipients to share it with others.

3. Make it brief. Get to the high points, and get out. The fewer newsletters you do per year, the longer you can be, but try to make it readable in under three minutes. I do two or three newsletters a year, and I think that's plenty. Also be gracious, and if possible, funny.

4. Send it during business hours on a weekday. Many people have computers at work, and welcome a mini break. Also make sure you're at your computer when you send it, so you can respond to the barrage of replies you receive.

5. Make sure it contains links, then track those links to monitor your effectiveness. After you read the newsletter, I'll post at the bottom what worked for me.


Straight Up - The Official Newsletter of Author J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn

In this issue:
--Free Book
--Jack Daniels News
--Writing Contest
--Afraid Tour
--More Joe


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, and fellow authors, in order to give you free stuff. If you want to be taken off this list, you can opt out using the link at the bottom. If you've asked to be removed from this newsletter and haven't been, I apologize. If you've signed up for this newsletter and haven't received it, you probably aren't reading this, but I apologize anyway.

Now let's get to the fun stuff:


For those who haven't been paying attention, I wrote a horror novel under the pen name Jack Kilborn. The book is called AFRAID. It's coming out next month, in paperback and audio. Here's the basic premise:



Welcome to Safe Haven, Wisconsin. Miles from everything, with one road in and out, this peaceful town has never needed a full-time police force. Until now...

A helicopter has crashed near Safe Haven and unleashed something horrifying. Now this merciless force is about to do what it does best. Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate. As residents begin dying in a storm of gory violence, Safe Haven's only chance for survival will rest with an aging county sheriff, a firefighter, and a single mom. And each will have this harrowing thought: Maybe death hasn't come to their town by accident...


You can read more about it, and play the AFRAID Flash game, at .


AFRAID is being released March 31, but my savvy publisher, Grand Central, is giving 50 of my fans (that's you) a chance to get the book for free.

Yes, I said free. A real, honest to goodness book, at zero cost.

How do you get one?

In case you haven't noticed (and you should considering you're reading this via email) the Internet has become a wonderful marketing tool for authors.

So if you want to get a free paperback copy of AFRAID, I'd like you to use the Internet to help spread the word about it.

We're looking for fifty bloggers to post their reviews of AFRAID. These reviews must be at least 75 words long. It's even okay if you post a negative review about how violent and bloody the book is--I'm fine with that, as long as you hit that 75 word mark.

Along with the blog review, I'd like you to post your review at least one other place on the Internet. Some of the obvious choices are,,,,,,,, Yahoo groups,, etc.

How do you enter?

1. Email me at with the heading SCARE ME!

2. Include your snail mail address, the URL to the blog where you'll post the review, and tell me which review websites you'll post on. It will help your chances if you to promise to post on several sites.

3. Tell me how much you love me. I dig it when people suck up. It makes me feel like Brando in Apocalypse Now.

That's all. Fifty people who follow those easy instructions will get free books. Perhaps even more than fifty, if the response is overwhelming.

How cool is that?


The sixth Jack Daniels thriller, CHERRY BOMB, will be out in hardcover and on audio on July 7. The cheap paperback version of the fifth Jack Daniels novel, FUZZY NAVEL, will be out a few weeks prior to that. But you should have already purchased that in hardcover, you cheapskate.

If you need a Jack Daniels fix right now, you have some options.

MISSING, an anthology edited by Amy Alessio for Echelon Books, features a Jack Daniels novella co-written with Henry Perez, author of the soon-to-be-released thriller KILLING RED. In our story, FLOATERS, Jack tag teams with Henry's character, Chicago newspaper reporter Alex Chapa. Visit to read about it and find out how to get it. The profits are going to charity, so buy fifty copies and then write it off on your taxes.

SHOT OF TEQUILA, an unpublished crime novel by me that takes place in 1993 and co-stars a very young Jack Daniels, is now available as an ebook download on my website. Visit for the secret details.

LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO by Bill Breedlove, an anthology which features Jack's ex-partner, Harry McGlade, in a novella called THE NECRO FILES. It's waaaaay over-the-top, and probably shouldn't be read by anybody. Jack is in it, too.

In July, Bleak House Books will release UNCAGE ME, edited by Jen Jordan. It also features Harry McGlade, in a short called SCHOOL DAZE.

There's nothing yet to report on the Jack Daniels movie. We may be having trouble selling it because I'm demanding to play Jack. I also insist on directing, editing, and composing the score, which I'm doing entirely on xylophone. If you're interested in buying the rights, contact my agent.


On my forum I'm holding a bad poetry contest. Sign up and post your drek. The winner gets a gazillion trillion dollars, or a free signed book, my choice. Contest ends on March 8.


I'll be cruising around Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan, signing copies of AFRAID this April. Watch my website for where and when.


For you rabid fans who insist on buying everything with a Konrath story in it (hi Mom), here are two of the latest publications:

WOLFSBANE & MISTLETOE by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, featuring my werewolf novella SA, which may be the funniest thing I've ever written.

BLOOD LITE by Kevin J. Anderson, featuring a story I wrote with F. Paul Wilson called THE SOUND OF BLUNDER, which may also be the funniest thing I've ever written.


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. Three newsletter subscribers have been randomly picked to receive some cool gifts.

The lucky winners this time are:


Email me to get your swag. And keep an eye on for updates and news.

See you on the road!



In a nutshell, pretty much everything I wanted to work, worked. My Amazon numbers of all my books, including the anthos, spiked.

I got triple my average daily hits on my websites.

I got more than fifty people who want to blog about AFRAID in exchange for a free book (and more keep coming--feel free to send me an email if you're interested.)

I sold more copies of SHOT OF TEQUILA, and Sheila is very close to being saved.

A newsletter is one more weapon in your self-promotion arsenal. Use it wisely, and it can be an effective one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confident or Delusional?

Kissinger was wrong. Power isn't the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Confidence is.

Confident people attract others. They get things done, spending more time doing and less time worrying. Confidence fosters charisma, inspires allegiance, and demands attention.

All writers need to be confident. We must believe our work is worthy, that our efforts aren't in vain.

But what are the differences between confidence, and its ugly step-sister, delusion?

Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

Confident writers take suggestion.
Delusional writers believe their words are written in stone.

Confident writers work even when it's hard.
Delusional writers believe they need to be inspired first.

Confident writers know this is a job.
Delusional writers think this is a vacation.

Confident writers know there's a never-ending learning curve.
Delusional writers believe they've learned all they need to know.

Confident writers know when to move on, and learn from their failures and successes.
Delusional writers keep doing the same things, over and over, hoping for different outcomes.

Confident writers know luck plays a big part.
Delusional writers think there's a conspiracy against them.

Confident writers get published.
Delusion writers don't get published very often, and if they do it's not for very long.

Confident writers work within the system, even though the system is flawed.
Delusional writers work outside of the system, even though they long to work within the system.

Confident writers understand their limitations.
Delusional writers don't believe in limitations.

Confident writers understand sacrifice.
Delusional writers demand everything on their terms.

Confident writers believe in persistence.
Delusional writers believe in talent.

Confident writers believe they owe the world.
Delusional writers believe the world owes them.

Are you confident or delusional?

Chances are high the delusional people will believe they're confident, since self-awareness is in short supply in the writing community.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Have you been published by an impartial third party?

Confident writers eventually get traditionally published. Period.

Do you seek out and apply editing advice?

Confident writers know their words can always be made stronger.

At what point do you abandon a project and begin a new one?

Confident writers move on, but first they try to figure out what didn't work, and why.

Would you rather be paid or be praised?

Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check.

Do you help other writers?

Confident writers know it's about what you put in, not what you get out.

Do you understand your failures?

Confident writers don't have failures. They have learning experiences that make them stronger.

Will you be successful?

Confident writers know success is beyond their control. But they keep writing anyway, and will continue to even if success never happens.

It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.

You must believe in yourself.

But first you have to prove yourself worthy of that belief.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tequila for Sheila

I lost a loved one today.

People close to me know all about Sheila. My friends, family, and peers have met her on many occasions. Sheila gave me comfort and reassurance. She gave me peace of mind. But most of all, she gave me direction in life. We've had many good years together.

My wife killed her. It wasn't jealousy. It was negligence. She shoved Sheila into the glove compartment and cracked her touch screen.

Sheila was my GPS unit, a Garmin c330.

Way back in 2005, I was one of the first authors to use a GPS on a book tour. I preached incessantly about how every writer needed one, and many peers bought their own at my insistence.

But now, Sheila is cracked and useless. No more will I hear her tell me to turn left in 200 feet. No more will her sweet voice say she's lost satellite reception. No more, when I veer off course, will she replot my route while chiding me with her terse, "Recalculating."

Personally, with all the free publicity I've given Garmin, I think they should buy me a new one. But, alas, my calls have gone unanswered.

Which leads me to you, my fans and blog readers. I want you to help me get Sheila back.

While it would be cool if some uberfan just sent me a new GPS, I'm too jaded to believe that will happen. I could just spring for the $80 to get her fixed, but that would deny me the opportunity to try an experiment.

Readers of this blog know how I love experiments. The Internet is a fantastic source of information and entertainment, and it's also a way to make money. But few writers have been able to fuse the two.

So here's what I propose.

I've begun a Save Sheila fund. If you've ever benefited from my blog, or enjoyed my writing, I'm humbly asking you to donate 99 cents by clicking on the button below. It will lead you to my website, which will allow you to donate using PayPal.

PayPal is safe, free, and most people already have an account. If you don't, it's free to sign up for one at The direct link to the donation page is

Naturally, I don't expect anyone to give something without getting something in return. In fact, I don't expect anyone to give me anything no matter what they get in return. But this is an experiment, and I'm interested to see how it turns out, so I'm giving it a shot.

Everyone who donates 99 cents to the Save Sheila fund will get an ebook from me, emailed to them.

"But Joe," you're probably saying to yourself, "you've already got several free ebooks that can be downloaded on your website. Why should I give you a buck when I'm already getting the freebies?"

Because, dear reader, I'm offering to give you an ebook that isn't on my website.

I wrote nine unpublished novels before landing a book deal with my first Jack Daniels thriller, Whiskey Sour. Three of these novels are available for free on my website, Many times, readers have clamored for my other unpublished work, and I've always rebuffed them, claiming my early books aren't fit for human consumption.

Well, I've been lying. One of those earlier books is decent. And fans of my Jack Daniels novels might find it interesting, because it has Jack Daniels in it.

The book is called Shot of Tequila. I wrote it in 1997. It's a crime thriller. I actually had an agent who was interested in it, but he ultimately passed, saying it had too much action in it.

I know, I don't understand that comment either.

In 2008, I reread the book, and was surprised to find out it was pretty good. So I rewrote some scenes, polished it, and added Jack Daniels as a supporting character, just for fun.

If you donate 99 cents to the Save Sheila fund, I'll email you a .pdf copy of Shot of Tequila.

You may now commence with the obvious questions.

Q: Is Shot of Tequila a Jack Daniels novel?

A: No. The protagonist is a mob enforcer named Tequila. Jack Daniels is a supporting character. She appears in several scenes, as does her partner, Herb Benedict.

Q: Is it any good?

A: A few of my writing peers have read it and enjoyed it. The story takes place in 1993. It's sort of like Elmore Leonard on steroids. Readers will meet a younger, less experienced Jack Daniels. Consider it a prequel to her later adventures.

Q: Why are you doing this? Do you really need the $80 that badly?

A: The free ebooks on my website have been downloaded over 10,000 times. On the Shorts program, I have two short stories that have been downloaded thousands of times, and people paid 49 cents for those. I'm curious to see if anyone is willing to pay 99 cents for an original JA Konrath novel.

Q: Do you think people will?

A: No. I think digital media wants to be free. I've heard stories of authors who have made some money charging for downloads, but I don't believe those stories. That's why I'm trying it for myself.

Q: What if I donate 99 cents, then hate the book?

A: You can complain to my wife, the Sheila Killer.

Q: How long is Shot of Tequila?

A: It's 75,000 words. I've formatted it so it prints out at 171 pages, if you prefer printing it to reading it on your computer. You can also read it on your smartphone, Kindle, iPod, Nintendo DS, and pretty much anything else these days. If your dohickey doesn't read .pdf files, you can find a converter online.

Q: Will you post the results of this experiment?

A: Absolutely. I'll keep everyone updated on how many donations I've received. I'm sure there are many authors curious to see if this works.

Q: Can I link to this post and help spread the word?

A: I encourage you to.

Q: I love your blog. You're very generous with your writing advice, and you help keep me motivated. But I think your writing stinks. Can I donate to you without getting a copy of your lousy unpublished book?

A: No.

Q: How fast will I get the book after I donate?

A: There is no automatic download system in place. The ebooks are sent by me one at a time. I'll check my email a few times a day, and if I get any donations, I'll send an ebook to the email address that donated to me. If you've donated and haven't gotten a copy, you're welcome to email me and I'll make sure you get one.

Q: You're a popular author, with a few hundred thousand books in print, and your blog gets thousands of hits a week. Don't you think you'll make enough to save Sheila?

A: Realistically, no. But time will tell...

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm Better Than You

I'm a much better writer than you are.

Sure, I know that taste is subjective. But if we could wave a magic wand and strip away personal taste and bias, leaving only the raw, core elements of what makes writing good, everyone would know the truth: That I'm the greatest writer to ever live.

It doesn't matter if other writers make more money. They got lucky, and good for them. But my writing is better than theirs.

It doesn't matter if other writers sell more books. That's all dependent on the publisher, and how big a marketing budget a book has. It doesn't make their books better than mine.

It doesn't matter if other writers win more awards, or get better reviews. That's all subjective. On a level playing field, if we stripped away the bias and nepotism, I'm better than all of them.

I shouldn't ever say this in public, of course. People will think I'm an ass. An egomaniac. A deluded know-it-all. They'll question my grasp of reality, and try their best to cut me down, to prove me wrong.

In fact, they might try to cut me down even if I never speak of how great I am. That's okay. They're envious, or ignorant, or unhappy with their own lives. A writer as magnificent as I am can't be bothered with petty people.

But the undeniable fact remains. I am the greatest writer who ever lived. I am a legend. I am a god.

I have to believe this. I have to believe this with all of my heart and soul. How else could I keep sitting down, day after day at my computer, forcing out prose that might never ever sell?

I know I'm the best. How else could I keep my sanity in a crumbling marketplace and a volatile industry?

I'm superhuman. How else could I justify the time, the money, the blood and sweat and toil and tears I've shed pursuing this profession? How else could I believe that someday I will land that megadeal, and hit that bestseller list, and win those awards, and get those great reviews?

Do you really think I'd get anything done if I believed I sucked?

But that is irrelevant. I don't suck. I'm incredible.

Every time I struggle through a tough scene, wrack my brain for a plot complication, send yet another baby out into the world to be ridiculed and rejected, the only thing that keeps me going is my unwavering faith in myself.

I. Am. The. Best.

And if you don't think you're the best, quit now. Once you begin to doubt yourself, you get eaten alive.

I encourage all of you to gape in awe at the greatest writer in the universe. I command that you gaze into this writer's eyes and see the creative genius simmering within. The writer that towers above all others. The writer that will conquer the world.

Go. Do it now. Look at this magnificent writer.

Hint: You'll need a mirror.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Con Etiquette

I'll be hanging out at the Love is Murder Mystery Convention over the weekend, and wanted to go over a few ground rules and some quickie dos and don'ts.

Should You Go? I believe writing conferences are one of the only times it's okay for an author to spend money (we all know money flows toward the writer, not away.)

Unfortunately, many of them are out of state, travel and hotels are expensive, and the conference admission can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 dollars.

But there are several big reasons why newbie and pro authors should attend these events.

Networking. Meeting fellow professionals keeps you foremost in their mind when projects arise. Publishing, like all other businesses, is about people.

Camaraderie. While networking is about business, camaraderie is about hanging around with like-minded individuals. Socializing with writers is part of being a writers.

Panels. Being on them if you're a pro, watching them if you're a newbie. If done an extensive post on this before.

Pitching. Any decent conference has agents and editors there. An in-person pitch gets you on top of the slush pile if they ask to take a look--your submission becomes solicited rather than unsolicited, and the agent/editor has a face to go along with a name.

Fans. I put this last, because unless you're already a bestseller, you won't be signing a lot of books. But meeting fans in person is powerful juju, and a handshake and a few kind words will likely be remembered for a long time.

If you have decided to attend a convention, here are some tips.

DO hang out at the bar. This is the best place to meet and mingle, and much more relaxed than anyplace else at the con. If you're buying drinks, you can ask anyone a question or bend their ear for a few minutes, even bigshot editors, authors, and agents.

DON'T get sloppy drunk. It will be remembered, and talked about.

DO wear business casual. The better you look, the better you'll feel.

DON'T be nervous. Everyone was a newbie once, and no one cares if you're perfect.

DO buy books. We're all in this together. If you're an author, buying books is also a great way to get in good with the bookseller.

DON'T talk too much. We learn by listening, not talking, and you're probably not as interesting as you think you are. Or as I am. :)

DO introduce yourself to strangers or people you know from their reputation and/or online. Sit at strange tables during communal lunches. Chat up people in elevators. Smile a lot.

DON'T hang out with the same crowd over and over and over. Yes, hang out with them, but don't limit yourself to only them.

DO pass out business cards, and ask for them in return. That means have some made if you don't have any. They should have your email and website on them--name and phone number isn't necessary.

DON'T sell hard. Conferences are about creating good will, not cramming your books down people's throats. A soft sell is okay, if kept to under 20 seconds, and if you're not doing it all the damn time.

DO thank whoever is running the con. It's an awful burden, and they deserve a pat on the back.

DON'T make any concrete plans. Cons are very liquid, and often you don't know what panels you'll watch, who you'll be hanging out with, or where you'll end up. Go with the flow.

Finally, remember to set goals.

While you don't need to figure out ahead of time what you'll be doing for every second, you should have reasons for attending the con. This isn't vacation time. It's business. You should know who you want to meet, what you want to accomplish, and have a mental checklist of reasons why you're attending in the first place.

Selling 100 books and asking JA Konrath to blurb you isn't a realistic goal. Shaking 100 hands and buying JA a drink is a much better goal, and within your power.

Like all aspects of writing, convention-going is both fun and hard work. The better prepared you are, the more realistic your expectations, and the fun should outweigh the work.

And if you see me, I like microbrewed beer and quality bourbon. Buy me enough and you might get that blurb after all...