Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Afraid Tour Day 13

I write this as the guest of wonderful hosts and writers Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen, whom you all should be reading. Great authors, and great people.

AFRAID seems to be doing well, and word of mouth continues to spread. If you've read the book but haven't reviewed it somewhere online, I heartily encourage you to do so.

This is also the last two days to get the AFRAID ebook for only $1.99, available everywhere ebooks are sold, in a variety of ebook formats. The sale ends when April does.

If you're one of the several hundred thousand people who own an Amazon Kindle, you might also want to check out the other books I've made available for that particular reading device. Cheap, too.

Joe's Kindle Books

When the tour ends, mid May, I'll devote several blog posts to the ebook phenomenon, and my ebook experiments, including Tequila for Sheila, the Kindle, Afraid, and the free ebooks available on my website. In a nutshell: this is the future, and money can be made.

Current tour stats:

Miles driven: 2865
Bookstores visited: 123
Books signed: 888
States traversed: 7
Days on the road: 13
Nights in hotels: 5

The "nights in hotels" stat would be smaller, but it was easier to stay at the conference hotel during the Romantic Times Convention than shlup back and forth.

RT was impressive. Several thousand readers attended, everyone was friendly, and I gave away and/or sold hundreds of books. I hung out with too many cool people to mention them all by name, but the networking and schmoozing was just as valuable as meeting old and new fans. I'll be back next year.

Joe's Tour Tips:

If you're thinking about doing a Drive By Tour, here are some quick suggestions:

*Get a GPS and a 3G phone with Google Maps. There is limited WiFi on the road, but you should be able to locate most of the bookstores with these two gadgets. Call first to make sure the store still exists, as many have gone the way of the dinosaur.

*If you run out of clothes, it's faster and easier to buy new socks and underwear than it is to take two hours to stop and wash them. Of course, if you're staying with a friend or fan, ask to use their washer and dryer. In a pinch, wearing your socks in the shower and then blow drying them gets them clean enough.

*Giving away free books is a good way to recruit booksellers into your ever-expanding sales force. If your publisher doesn't supply them, buy them yourself to give away. Ask them to post reviews if they like it. Buy books from a bookseller at their discount (many will do this for you if you're friends) because then these go toward your royalties and sales figures.

*Staying with family, friends, and fans, really cuts down on expenses. Not only will they save you the cost of a hotel, but many of them feed you. In fact, Lynne Hansen made what might have been one of the best lasagnas I've ever had. Which brings me to my next valuable tip:

*When you're in Florida, stay with Lynne Hansen and Jeff Strand.

*Having a case of water and a bag of fruit in the car keeps you hydrated, staves off hunger, and requires less frequent (and expensive) stops for food and drink.

*Realize that not all booksellers will be happy to see you. In fact, some may be downright hostile.

Real life example, from yesterday.

Our hero (me), weary from a 13 hour day signing stock along Florida's west coast, comes upon his final stop of the day.

My protocol is always the same:

1. Find books on shelf.
2. Bring them over to a bookseller.
3. Ask to say hello to a manager while signing them.

I won't mention the name of the store, but I have signed at well over 300 stores from this particular chain. The overwhelming majority are happy to see me.

The manager at this store, a scowling woman named Sylvia, was not.

Joe: (smiling) Hi, I'm an author, breezing through town and...

Sylvia: (scowling) You signed those? Are you buying them?

Joe: Excuse me?

Sylvia: You can't just sign books. If you sign them, I can't return them.

Joe: Uh, actually you can.

Sylvia: Now I'm stuck with them. Do you know how many signed books I've gotten stuck with?

Joe: (still smiling) These can be returned. You just strip off the cover if you want to return them. But the point of signing them is because they sell better than unsigned...

Sylvia: You can't just come in here and sign books. Now what am I supposed to do with these?

Joe: Uh, sell them?

(Sylvia frowns even deeper. I look around to the other booksellers for support, and see all of them cowering.)

Sylvia: I've got a whole back room filled with signed books.

Joe: (still smiling, but it's getting tough) You do see the "Autographed Copy" stickers on the cover, right? These are from your chain. In fact, I picked them up at another one of your stores less than an hour ago, because they gave me extras. The fact that your chain has stickers expressly so authors can...

Sylvia: Where did you sign them? (she flips open one of my books, scowling)

Joe: Usually booksellers are happy to see me.

Sylvia: You can't sign anything unless I get approval from the corporate office. What am I supposed to do with these?

Joe: I'm, frankly, flabbergasted. And that's not easy to do to me.

Sylvia: Don't sign anything else. (walks away)

Now, this exchange caught me completely off guard, especially late in the day when I was exhausted. But it is important to point out a few things:

1. Sylvia is lying. Paperbacks are always returnable. You strip off the cover, and send that back for full credit. Signing the book doesn't inhibit returnability.

2. A bookseller doesn't need corporate approval to have an author sign stock already available on the shelves. Ever. That's why they have "Autographed Copy" stickers.

3. If Sylvia has a back room full of signed books (unlikely, because even signed hardcovers and trade paperbacks are returnable, unless they are POD), maybe she'd be able to sell a few if they were ON THE SALES FLOOR AND NOT IN A BACK ROOM.

4. It's a bad policy to be rude to anyone, ever. Especially in retail. Especially to an author who could call up their DM and their corporate office and his publisher and complain like crazy.

Of course, I didn't call up anyone. Unhappy people are their own hell, and I feel no need to add to their misery.

Also, when she said, "Don't sign anything else" I wondered, and still wonder, what she meant by that. Was I going to start grabbing books by other authors and signing them? Or did I somehow tap into the woman's greatest fear, having a bookstore filled with signed books?

So, how did our hero deal with this crazy woman? I thanked her for her time, picked up all of my books, and bought them myself. Because there was no way I was leaving them in this lunatic's store.

I also apologized the employee at the cash register, who looked somewhere between sympathetic and terrified.

Now some may think the moral to this story is to ask permission before you sign anything. I'm of the "it's better to apologize than ask permission" school, especially since I've signed at well over 1500 bookstores and have only encountered loonies like this three or four times.

No, the actual moral to this story is: You can't please everyone.

Get used to it. Some people won't like you, your books, or the fact that you're a successful author and they hate their jobs.

While it isn't pleasant to have a bookseller (99.9% of whom are wonderful people whom I love like family) scowling and berating you, it is a good reminder that there are crazy, hostile people in the world. They make life a little more interesting, and you can't dwell on it for any longer than it takes to blog about it.

Nuff said.

On the other end of the spectrum, I've met dozens of booksellers on this tour who were eager to see me. Some remembered me from my previous tour. Some are fans. A few broke out the cameras and I posed for some pics and signed books for them.

Here's a list of the stores I've been to lately, if you're looking for signed Konrath/Kilborn books. And no, Sylvia's store isn't on here. :)

BN Lakeland FL

Walden Lakeland FL

BN Brandon FL

Borders Brandon FL

BN Sand Lake FL

BN Orange Blossom FL

Walden Orange Blossom FL

Borders Sand Lake FL

BN Colonial FL

Borders Winter Park FL

Borders Almonte FL

Walden Sanford FL

Borders Oviedo FL

Borders Ocoee FL

BN Winter Garden FL

BN Sarasota FL

Borders Sarasota FL

BN Ft. Myers FL

BN Estero FL

BN Naples FL

Walden Ft. Myers FL

Borders Ft. Myers FL

Borders Naples FL

BAM Ft. Myers FL

Today I'm doing stores in Tampa, and then I'm flying back to Chicago because I forgot I was speaking at the Reaching Out library conference. If you're an Illinois Librarian, I hope to see you there on May 1. Then it's back to FL, where I'll work my way up the east coast to Philly, then head westward back home.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Afraid Tour Day 10

It's official. I've never been more tired than I am right now.

This is the tenth day of the Afraid Tour, and I've visited 115 bookstores and signed 843 books, not counting the freebies I've been giving away.

The tour stopped in Orlando for three days when I attended the Romantic Times Convention. It's a great con, and I'll post more on it later.

Special thanks to my publisher, Grand Central, for not only making AFRAID available in the goodie room, but also treating me to a nice meal, which I had to skip out early on to meet with some reviewers.

I'd put in the locations of the recent stores I've visited, but I can't keep my eyes open. All I can say right now is this is an effective, if exhausting, way to tour.

More later...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Marshall Karp Interview

Marshall Karp is a funny guy, and a funny mystery author. His third novel, FLIPPING OUT, is now available in a reasonably priced hardcover edition.

Joe: Who are you, and why should my readers care?

Marshall: I am a cross between Everyman, Bozo the Clown, God’s son by a previous marriage, the ghost of Christmas Past, and my mother’s younger brother Irving, except I have a lot more hair. Your readers should care because they think you’re the funniest writer on the planet and every now and then they need to read another writer just to prove that they’re right. And I’m not just sucking up to you. Your readers really do worship you. I know that for a fact because I called them both.

Joe: Awesome! Did you tell my mom I need my laundry by Monday?

But on to what my blog is known for: celebrity gossip. Do you know any cool famous people? Have you ever gotten stoned with any of them and accidentally killed a tranny hooker?

Marshall: I know lots of cool famous people, and I was about to rattle off some names, when I thought, Joe’s just baiting me to see if he’s on the list. But the second half of that question really rattled me. Sadly, the answer is yes. Three of us were totally stoned, and despite the fact that she was the oldest hooker I ever saw, when she removed her dentures she was a virtuoso. I don’t think it’s fair to say we killed her. Granny was 87 years old and her heart just gave out… oops, my assistant just pointed out that you said Tranny hooker. In that case, no.

Joe: You're a former Hollywood guy. In a movie about your life, who would play me? (You can also say who would co-star as you.)

Marshall: You have a beard and since Matt Damon and Brad Pitt don’t look good with facial hair, I think the best person to play you would be Rosie O Donnell. As for me, I’m thinking Travolta, but I’d have to put on some weight for the movie.

Joe: For you I was thinking George Burns, because of his comic timing, and because you both were born before the invention of the steam engine.

(Joe's note: This is where Marshall would retaliate with something witty, had I given him the chance.)

Joe: You've got a damn good author website. Besides a website, what forms of self-promotion have you found effective?

Marshall: Blog tours, free book giveaways, cold calls, accosting browsers in bookstores, stalking librarians, and being a guest on mediocre author websites.

Joe: I like that last one, but you didn't host me when I blog toured. But I hold no grudges, and would never Rick Roll you. Ever.

Now let's get to the question that everyone wants to know. You're on a island with two tribes. One always speaks the truth, and the other always lies. You come to a fork in the road, and see one of the tribesmen, but you don't know which tribe he's from. Would you try to rob him?

Marshall: That’s obviously a pointed reference to the years I spent in Hollywood. It doesn’t matter what tribe the guy came from. If he was an agent he’d lie to me, and if he were a producer he would pick up the fork in the road and stab me in the back with it. I’d rob the bastard blind and go home and blog about it.

Joe: Describe FLIPPING OUT in less than 20 words.

Marshall: Flipping Out is like The DaVinci Code without all that stupid Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene, Mona Lisa shit.

Joe: How'd you break into this biz?

Marshall: I knew James Patterson, pitched the book to him, and he said it sounds great. So I wrote it, he helped me find an agent, who found a publisher. Patterson gave me a great blurb, and I rode his coattails to this current high point in my career — a guest spot on Joe Konrath’s website.

Joe: Use this space here to talk about whatever you want to, but I reserve the right to edit what you say and replace random nouns with the word "wiener."

Marshall: Shortly after my daughter survived being at Ground Zero on 9/11 I was searching for something positive I could contribute to the world. That’s when I discovered Vitamin Angels. It was founded in 1994 by Howard Schiffer. He would ask vitamin companies to donate vitamins, and then with the help of volunteer organizations distribute them around the world where vitamins and nutrients could literally save lives. Howard did it all in his spare time. He was unpaid and had a full time day job.

I called him, and I was immediately captivated by the mission — providing basic nutrition to people in need. I told him I didn’t know companies who could give away vitamins. But I knew some who might donate money. He had never thought about that, so we decided to give it a try. I was struck by a few basic facts. Millions of children go blind from a lack of Vitamin A. Half of them die. All it takes to prevent that is one megadose of Vitamin A, administered twice a year. Total cost — twenty-five cents to save one child from going blind.

And so, Operation 2020 was born — a campaign to eradicate childhood blindness on the planet by the year 2020. We found our first corporate sponsor. Then we began to attract others, and schools, and individuals, even kids willing to part with tooth fairy money to save another kid’s life.

Last year Vitamin Angels reached (and saved) over 7 million children. We are operating in 40 countries. We are distributing 100 million prenatal vitamins a year. In one country our newborn initiative shows that by giving one dose of Vitamin A, two days after birth, we can reduce infant mortality by 20%.

As for me, I’m still deeply involved in the organization. And somewhere over these past eight years I wrote six words that are as meaningful to me as the 130,000 words in my first book.

Be an Angel. Save a life.

Fair warning, Joe, if you change "Be An Angel" to "Be A Wiener" you’re at risk of losing one or both of your readers.

Thank you for supporting my life of crime.

Joe: Thanks for stopping by. And I didn't replace any nouns, because my readers did it themselves, in their heads. Besides, I would have changed it to: "Be an Angel. Save a Wiener."

Buy Marshall's books, and if you want to get RR'd (like he just did) go to:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Afraid Tour Part 2

I'm currently in Atlanta, heading to Florida as soon as I finish writing this.

Here are the stores with signed Kilborn and Konrath books:

Waldenbooks Outer Loop Louisville KY

Walden Shelbyville Louisville KY

B&N Hurstbourne Louisville KY

B&N The Summit Louisville KY

Borders 4th St. Louisville KY

Borders Shelbyville Louisville KY

Borders Hurstbourne Louisville KY

Borders Bardstown Louisville KY

B&N Elizabethtown KY

B&N Bowling Green KY

B&N Opry Mills Nashville TN

B&N Brentwood TN

Davis Kidd Nashville TN

Borders Nashville TN

Borders Brentwood TN

Borders Franklin TN

Borders Ponce de Leon Atlanta GA

Borders Brookwood Atlanta GA

Borders Buckhead Atlanta GA

Borders Parkway Pointe Atlanta GA

B&N Alpharetta GA

B&N West Cobb Marietta GA

B&N Barrett Pkwy Marietta GA

B&N Georgia Tech GA

B&N Edgewood Atlanta GA

B&N Buckhead Atlanta GA

B&N East Point GA

B&N Cumberland Atlanta GA

B&N Perimeter Atlanta GA

B&N Morrow GA

B&N Norcross GA

Borders Northlake Mall Atlanta GA

Borders Dunwoody GA

Borders Marietta GA

Borders Douglasville GA

Borders Kennesaw GA

Walden Kennesaw GA

Walden Aplharetta GA

That brings my total up to 94 stores so far. I'll roll up a few more today.

Big thanks to William Berger (and his wife) for allowing me to stay in their lovely home. Bill has the most impressive book collection I've ever seen. As I write this, I'm tempted to empty out my suitcase and fill it with signed first editions...

To answer a previous question, booksellers have only asked to see ID when I come into a store on three or four occassions out of the thousands of stores I've dropped in. I usually travel with books and coasters, which proves who I am. Once or twice I actually did show an ID. If someone asks for Jack Kilborn ID, I'll simply tell them: "If I were lying to sign some books don't you think I'd pretend to be someone more famous?"

On to FL. I have limited email access, so I won't be able to fully respond for a few days.

As for my reaction to the tour; so far, so good. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Jack Kilborn 200

The Kilborn 200 Book Tour is in effect. I'm currently acting like a wanna-be writer, blogging at the Starbucks near the University of Cincinnati.

But, unlike those wanna-bes, I refuse to pay $20 to connect to the Internet. Shouldn't Wifi be free? Am I all alone in this belief?

So I'll write this now, and post it when I can connect without paying. This is, after all, a budget tour.

The Drop-In Book Tour on a Budget is an interesting beast. The goal is to meet as many booksellers and sign as many books as possible, using the least amount of time and money.

My publisher is partially sponsoring the tour, so in order to stretch their bucks I'm staying at the houses of peers and fans, eating at gas stations, and trying to only drive downwind.

So far, I've driven 742 miles, dropped in 47 bookstores, and only spent $92.

You may be asking: Joe, what's the point?

The point is threefold.

1. Signed books sell better than unsigned books, get displayed face-out, and are (usually) retained by bookstores rather than returned.

2. Meeting booksellers is good for your long term sales.

3. In self-promotion, doing something tends to be more effective than doing nothing.

If you're looking for signed copies of Afraid and my other titles, here are the bookstores where I've signed stock over the past few days:

Borders Oakbrook IL

Borders Wheaton IL

B&N Wheaton IL

B&N Naperville IL

Andersons Naperville IL

Borders Naperville IL

Waldenbooks Aurora IL

Waldenbooks Peru IL

Borders Geneva IL

B&N Geneva IL

Borders St. Charles IL

B&N Bloomingdale IL

B&N Schaumburg IL

Borders Schaumburg IL

B&N Old Orchard IL

Borders Skokie IL

Borders Evanston IL

Waldenbooks Lincolnwood IL

Borders Lincolnwood IL

B&N Skokie IL

Borders Crystal Lake IL

B&N Crystal Lake IL

Borders Algonquin IL

B&N West Dundee IL

Borders McHenry IL

B&N Merrilville IN

Borders Merrilville IN

B&N West Lafayette IN

Borders West Lafayette IN

B&N Greenwood IN

The Mystery Company Carmel IN

Borders Carmel IN

B&N Carmel IN

Borders Meridian Indy IN

Borders River Crossing Indy IN

Joseph-Beth Cincinnati OH

Borders Eastgate Cincy OH

Borders Colerain Cincy OH

B&N Waterstone Cincy OH

B&N Montogemry Cincy OH

Waldenbooks Cincy OH

B&N Newport KY

B&N Florence KY

Waldenbooks Dayton OH

B&N Beavercreek OH

Borders Dayton OH

B&N Miamisburg Dayton OH

Borders US 31 Indy IN

Borders Castleton Indy IN

B&N Indy IN

So that's 47 stores so far, 153 to go. I also didn't count the 14 stores in Illinois and Wisconsin that I visited with Barry Eisler a few weeks ago, because I'll be visiting them again.

Tomorrow, more of Kentucky.

Monday and Tuesday, Nashville and Atlanta.

Wednesday, Florida.

Some shout-outs to Jane Bretl and her terrific family, and the multi-talented James Daniel Ross (and Jennifer Ross) for putting up with my intrusive presence. Everyone reading this should click on their names and check out their most excellent sites.

See you on the road...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jeff Strand Interview

It's no secret I'm in love with Jeff Strand. He's funny, and fans of my Jack Daniels books and Jack Kilborn books will love him just as much as I do.

Strand may be the most almost-famous author in the horror community, but he will soon be catapulted to super-stardom with the upcoming release of PRESSURE, his first mass-market paperback, which will be available everywhere in May.

Pressure is one of the most frightening, most intense books I've ever read. No BS.

The irony there is that Jeff is a hilarious guy, and all of his previous books contain a great deal of comedy.

If you like ebooks, you can pick up his hilariously gruesome novel BENJAMIN'S PARASITE over at Horror Mall.

You can also pick up the 53,000 word Kindle version of SUCKERS, which Strand and I co-wrote. It features my character Harry McGlade from the Jack Daniels books, and Strand's series character Andrew Mayhem, and it may be the funniest book ever written, by anyone, ever, for all time.

PARASITE is reasonably priced. SUCKERS is underpriced, for only a dollar and some change.

But because Strand is so prolific, today he's not flogging PRESSURE or BENJAMIN'S PARASITE or SUCKERS. He's got another completely new and different book that you should buy.

As you can see by the picture, it's called THE SEVERED NOSE.

Joe sez: "If I could choose only one summer beach read, I'd pick Jeff Strand's Severed Nose."

I would then also make some crack about the cover, something along the lines of, "Hey, Jeff, your nose is running."

I caught up with Strand at his Swiss chalet, where we talked of wine and various cheeses and the best way to cut the cheese, and eventually the conversation steered toward his new book, mostly because he had grown weary of my puns.

Joe: Tell me about the nose book. But don't use any verbs.

Jeff: Severed nose on plate in dining room. Why? Answer in book.

Joe: Remember that novella we collaborated on? SUCKERS? Shouldn't we do a sequel? It's already made over ten bucks on Amazon Kindle and it's only been up for four days.

Jeff: Ten bucks? Last time I checked, we’d made over seven thousa—oh, right, ten bucks. Your five dollar check is in the mail. I’ve deducted four dollars and thirty-five cents for administrative costs. Go buy yourself something pretty.

Joe: I'm buying cheese. Swiss cheese. It's God's favorite. Because it's holey. I may also get some Dutch cheese. Because Dutch cheese is gouda.

Jeff: . . .

Joe: I once cut my finger on cheddar cheese.

Jeff: Sharp cheddar?

Joe: Boy, was it ever.

Jeff: And back to the interview, I haven’t heard the world demanding a sequel to SUCKERS yet, but maybe it just isn’t demanding loud enough! I do have a cameo planned for Harry McGlade in the fourth Andrew Mayhem novel, Lost Homicidal Maniac (Answers to “Shirley”). I’ll clear it with you first, but you should sue anyway just to drum up some publicity.

Joe: I've already got a lawyer on a retainer. I told him to get off—how am I supposed to put that in my mouth while he's stepping on it?

Jeff: . . .

Joe: . . .

Jeff: . . .

Joe: See, a retainer is an orthodontic device used to straighten your teeth.

Jeff: Your wife is a very patient woman.

Joe: Indeed. Talk a little about the editing process. Is it true The Severed Nose got cut?

Jeff: I’m going to acknowledge your pun, and then give a real answer. Not much was cut out of the book during the editing process—the editor did ask me to cut a section near the end, but I managed to successfully address his concern by adding MORE stuff. And I reworked a minor character who was overly silly even by the standards of The Severed Nose.

Joe: It's a very funny book.

Jeff: . . .

Joe: I wasn't joking that time.

We're both going to be at the Romantic Times Convention at the end of the month. Doncha think it would be fun to get really wasted on tweak and then pretend we're astronauts and have a fake laser gun fight but with real guns? You got any real guns? Then maybe, later, we could rob a liquor store, or roll some old people.

Jeff: I don’t own any guns. I say, if you can’t kill somebody with a stiletto heel, then you don’t deserve to be killing people.

Joe: I've been fortunate that AFRAID is getting a lot of attention, much of it positive. Personally, I think your novel PRESSURE is even more disturbing than AFRAID. Give my readers the low down.

Jeff: Well, the two books take completely different approaches. PRESSURE is a slow, steady build, and AFRAID is “Booga-booga! RrraaaRRR!” all the way through. PRESSURE is about a good kid named Alex who ends up in boarding school, where he meets a not-so-good kid named Darren. Their paths cross several times over a couple of decades; sometimes as the best of friends, sometimes as the worst of enemies. It’ll be in bookstores on May 26th, so it’ll give your fans something to read between AFRAID and CHERRY BOMB.

Joe: So you got any guns? Or tweak?

Jeff: I don’t even know what tweak is. I’m sure I don’t want to google it. [Insert Google pause.] Okay, I thought it would be something worse than that. I have no tweak, but on my desk right now I’ve got Haribo gummi bears, Starburst sour jelly beans, Sweet Tarts jelly beans, Cadbury dark chocolate mini eggs, Red Vines, and a great big ol’ bottle of Triazolam we can chug. Party!!!

Joe: Everyone reading this needs to rush out and buy all of Jeff's books. Folks not reading this should also buy his books. Buy mine, too. If you like my books, other authors you should buy may include but are not limited to: Tom Schreck, Henry Perez, and Blake Crouch, who are all authors you should be reading.

Also, buy green peas. Go on. Give peas a chance.

And visit Jeff at His website is funny as hell.

I'm now leaving on tour. See some of you on the road...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alison Kent Interview and Contest

While I'm getting ready for my Afraid book tour (I'll be contacting all the people who emailed me about providing room and board very soon) I'm going to be hosting a few people on my blog.

Today, the wonderful Alison Kent is offering some free books, and some insight into self promotion. Her May release is called NO LIMITS.

The Heat is On...

Simon Baptiste's latest SG-5 mission just went south in a major way. With his career on ice for awhile, it seems like a good time to take care of some business back home in Louisiana. Simon knows it ain't going to be pretty. He's got some old enemies in Bayou Allain who won't exactly roll out the red carpet. But Simon's first night back is more than he bargained for. Not only has the homestead gone to hell in a hand basket, but there's a half-naked woman hiding inside it-a woman whose face Simon knows all too well. It's Michelina Ferrer, the sultry spokesmodel for her family's Ferrer fragrance empire-and Simon's been staring at her picture on a billboard outside his Manhattan apartment for weeks.

And It's Only Getting Hotter...

Micky Ferrer came down to Bayou Allain looking for her old college friend, only to discover that Lisa Landry has been missing for days. As soon as Micky starts asking questions around town, someone runs her car off the road. She's hiding out in the old Baptiste place when Simon shows up-and he's the hottest thing she's laid eyes on since she got to town. Simon agrees that something strange is going on and that Lisa's disappearance may be tied to it. As he and Micky search for answers, the sweltering heat makes it hard to keep their heads straight or their hands off each other.even as they unravel the small-town secrets that some people are willing to kill for.

There's an excerpt here:

Alison is giving away three copies to people with US mailing addresses. To enter, simply leave a comment in this blog entry saying you want it bad.

I shot Alison a few questions about self-promo, since that's a topic near and dear to my blog.

Joe: Thanks for giving away free copies of NO LIMITS. Can you save me some searching and tell me the page numbers of the naughty parts so I can read those first? Maybe a hot excerpt would be nice, too.

Alison: I'll tell you what my husband does with every box of my author copies that show up at the house. He pulls out the first one, holds it overhead in his right hand, flips through the pages with his thumb and stops. 95% of the time he hits a sex scene. And, no, there aren't that many sex scenes in the books; he just happens to have, uh, some sort of husbandly intuition about where the naughty parts are. ;)

Joe: Hmm. I wish I did. My wife is tired of me bringing that diagram into bed with us. What's your favorite scene in the book?

Alison: One of my favorite scenes in NO LIMITS, two, actually, are between characters other than the main ones. Lots of emotion that's not love involved, which made their story - and their sex - a lot of fun to write. If you really want a hot excerpt, I put one up here:

Joe: That is pretty naughty. Maybe I should bring that to bed instead of the diagram. Your blog and website ( get a lot of traffic. What have you done to make them so popular?

Alison: I've blabbed a lot, most of it without any sugar coating, and ended up in some kerfluffles because of not playing nice. I think readers like it when people tell it like it is. These days, I honestly don't blog a whole lot. A mixture of time and burn out. I blog at a couple of other places, and tend to pour all my thoughts there, leaving very little for my own blog. I started blogging in 2002 so I've written a whole lot of words. I've also given away a whole lot of stuff. Books, primarily. My own, but also those of other authors. Some the others have provided, some I've bought because I believe in them and want to spread the word. I love connecting with readers who share my tastes in books. Great fun to cuss and discuss.

Joe: Besides the Internet, what are some other ways you self-promote?

Alison: Uh, I don't. I don't do signings. I don't speak or teach, though I have in the past. I don't do bookmarks or gadgets either. I have bought ad space in RWA's RWR magazine, and on sites like and Smart Bitches, and I'm a member of, but yeah, those are on the Internet, so never mind.

You have to remember, I started writing before Al Gore invented the Internetz so I've had a lot of years and 40 something published works with which to build my name. So these days, I rely on word of mouth, and get readers online involved, because I know if they like what I do, they'll spread the word in real time. Makes my job a lot easier. All I have to do is write.

Joe: What's next for Alison Kent?

Alison: In September I have a Texas Ranger Harlequin Blaze ONE GOOD MAN, and in December another Brava, WITH EXTREME PLEASURE. That one is the story of the guy in the naughty bits excerpt, King Trahan.

Joe: I'm going to my first Romantic Times Convention in Florida, April 22-25. Any advice for a newbie?

Alison: Have fun? I dunno. I've never been. RT is not my thing. I know authors who love it, and authors who swear they'll never go again. Knowing you, I'm sure you'll have a great time. ;)

Joe: I'm hoping to buy a new diagram...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Kilborn 200: Touring For Afraid

I'm touring the country again.

I will be dropping in a minimum of 200 bookstores, from April 14 until May 14, signing copies of Afraid in the following cities:

Indianapolis, IN
Cincinnati, OH
Louisville, KY
Nashville, TN
Atlanta, GA
Tampa, FL
Orlando, FL
Jacksonville, FL
Savannah, GA
Columbia, SC
Asheville, NC
Richmond, VA
Washington DC
Baltimore, MD
Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland, OH
Detroit, MI
Milwaukee, WI
Chicago, IL

I'm humbly asking my fans, peers, and curious onlookers to give me shelter for the night.

If you have a spare bedroom, and you live in one of these towns, and you get your spouse's permission, I'd love to stay in your humble home as opposed to a cheap motel.

Email me if you'd like to put me up for the night. Keep in mind that the date has to be somewhat flexible, because the last time I did a tour like this I wound up getting delayed in various states, which threw off the whole schedule. I anticipate similar delays with this tour.

What's in it for you: A free signed book, scintillating conversation with a semi-famous author, and a signed piece of paper that says JA KONRATH/JACK KILBORN SLEPT HERE, suitable for framing, if you're into framing signed pieces of paper.

If you throw in dinner, I'll give you two signed books.

Now let us commence with the Q & A.

Q: So you're really asking people to stay at their houses on tour?

A: Yes. I've done this before, and it worked well. I only have limited touring dollars, and this is the best way to stretch a buck.

Q: I want to see you on tour and get some books signed. Do you have any scheduled tour times?

A: Nope. The only time and place I've specifically pinned down is April 23-26. I'll be in Orlando, at the Romantic Times Convention. Because this is a driving tour where I'm stopping in bookstores to sign stock, I have no clear idea when I'll visit a certain bookstores, or even if I'll be able to visit all the ones on my list. I'd hate to have a loyal fan camped out in a bookstore parking lot for three days just so I can sign their book.

Q: But I really want to meet you.

A: I want to meet you, too. But this tour doesn't have any scheduled stops. If you really want to meet me, you can always invite me over.

Q: What bookstores are on your list?

A: I'm still putting the list together. It will be many of the bookstores I've visited in the past.

Q: You're doing a lot of self-promotion on your blog, lately. When are you going to go back to posting advice and tips?

A: If you're a writer, the self-promotion I'm currently doing is actual advice and tips in action. I'll be posting regular tour updates, so both writers and fans can follow what I'm doing.

Q: You're linking to a lot of Afraid reviews, including bad ones. Why link to people who didn't like the book?

A: Everyone has an opinion, and all opinions are valid. I believe all reviews, even bad ones, have the potential to ensnare curious readers.

Q: I saw copies of Afraid at Walmart. Will you be signing stock at Walmart?

A: No. I'm only dropping in bookstores.

Q: I'm a bookseller and I want you to stop by my store. How do I get you to come?

A: Email me. If you're a bit out of the way from the cites I posted, you can entice me by saying things like, "I know you'll be in Cincinnati but my store is 50 miles away, but if you stop by I'll make sure I have 80 copies of your books for you to sign that I promise to handsell." That will lure me to your store. Also, I'll be giving booksellers free copies of Afraid. My publisher, Grand Central, is supplying me with a bunch to give-away, and they're also partially funding the tour.

Q: Don't you ever sleep?

A: I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Other news:

If you want to get in on the Books for Ads deal and get a free JA Konrath signed hardcover, click on the link. If you've posted a widget, I need your address to send you a book.

Graham Storrs has some smart things to say about blog ad trading:

The prolific and talented Jason Starr interviews me on his blog:

If you want to listen to me on Blog Talk Radio, doing my schtick about self-promotion on Morgan Mandel's show:

Finally, more Afraid reviews:

See you on the road...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Books For Ads

I've got an experiment to try out on you fine folks, my blog readers. I want you to be guinea pigs.

Now, in total candor and complete honesty, I don't expect anyone to actually do this. But I won't know until I ask, and I figure it's an interesting, possibly even revolutionary, thing to try.

If you say no, please tell me why in the comments. If you say yes, tell me why in the comments and then email me.

Have a look at this:

That's a smaller version of the widget I have in my sidebar. When you click on Afraid, it offers you a choice of options on the Internet to find out more about it, or buy it if you so desire.

I've got a bunch of extra first edition copies of my second Jack Daniels book, Bloody Mary.

Here's what I propose:

1. You agree to put the Afraid widget on your blog sidebar or website for 30 days.

2. I'll send you a free, autographed, first edition hardcover copy of Bloody Mary.

So, what does everyone think? Good idea? Bad idea? Does anyone want to try it out?

I seriously have no clue if anyone will go for this. If not, lesson learned. But it seems like an innovative idea, trading signed books for internet real estate. A win-win, mutually beneficial, everyone is happy kind of thing.

A few years ago, I sold T-shirts with my book cover on it, and people bought those. If people are willing to pay to advertise my books on their torsos, why not actually give them something to put a widget on their site?

This widget is also customizable. You can make it skinnier, wider, different colors, add more titles, and so on. Click on "J.A. Konrath" on the widget, then click on "Grab this widget" and it will show you how to personalize it.

So tell me what you think.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Obsession, Reviews, and the Afraid Tour

In some circles, I'm known to be a little over-zealous when it comes to self-promotion.

In other circles, I'm known to be a lot over-zealous.

Any first year psychology student could pinpoint the root of my zealotry simply by spending three minutes reading my blog. It can be broken down thusly:

1. Joe spends 12 years trying to get published, writing nine unsold novels and getting over 500 rejections.

2. Joe finally gets published, fulfilling a life-long dream.

3. Joe is determined to do everything within his power to make sure he stays published.

Now, while I can't vouch for how obsessive behavior leads to happiness, or if it's good for a person's mental health, I can say that it certainly helps a guy get a lot of stuff done.

If you look at wildly successful people, they are all, to some degree, obsessive about becoming successful. I'd go so far as to say they all share some similar traits:
  1. They're hard workers.
  2. They're innovators.
  3. They make sacrifices to reach their goals.
  4. They rely on themselves.
There are other traits, I'm sure, but these four seem to be common with obsessive types.

Bringing the topic back to me, since it's my blog, I just finished an OCD blog tour, appearing on over a hundred blogs in March.

I also asked for, and received, over a hundred reviews. If you have read Afraid, and haven't reviewed it yet, please do so. I'm thanking everyone who sends me a link to their review in the acknowledgments of the next Jack Kilborn novel. The one with the most reviews posted will have a character named after them.

There are plenty of places online to review books. Here's a list.

Here are two new reviews. One from my friend, Patrick Balester:

And one I've been hoping for since 1979. That's when I started collecting Fangoria magazine. I can't describe the thrill of being reviewed by a zine I've been a fan of since my pre-teen years. It's way too cool. Plus, they loved it:

For my next obsessive act, I'm going to start visiting bookstores.

Yes, for the first time in three years, I will do a Big Tour.

My goal is to visit 200 bookstores between April 12th and May 12th.

These won't be official signings. These will be drop-ins, where I sign stock, meet the booksellers, and get on my way. If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember I did something like this before. Here's the link.

Which brings me to my next request:

Do you want to meet Joe Konrath, and do you have a spare bedroom?

If you answered "yes" to the above question, do you want to invite this famous author into your house for the night and treat him to dinner in exchange for scintillating conversation and free books?

I'll be posting the tour stops very soon. For sure, I'll be visiting Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Nashville, Atlanta, and several cities in Florida. Depending on the stars aligning, I'll also be visiting several other cities and states as well.

Now, I urge you not to get super excited that I'll be visiting your town and perhaps stopping by your house. I need several days to plan this tour and figure out the best route.

Until then, please buy a copy of Afraid if you haven't already. And if you want me to sign it, today I'll be at the Waldenbooks in Peru, IL, from 2pm-4pm. Their number is 815-223-4910. If you miss me there, they'll have signed copies off all my books available for you to purchase and resell on eBay.

Hope to see some of you today, or on the road.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ebook Blowout: Amazon Kindle Free Downloads

Anyone who follows my blog knows my feelings about ebooks. Namely, they're the future.

Grand Central, the publisher for Afraid, has taken this concept to heart, and my horror novel is available as downloads for the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader, for just $1.99.

Here are my current Amazon Kindle rankings: Sales Rank: #11 in Kindle Store

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Horror
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Suspense
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Genre Fiction

So, I'm pretty happy my publisher made this decision. There are a few hundred thousand books available on Kindle, so to be at #11 means that people are buying it.

But why are they buying it?

Is it because they've heard about it? Doubtful. I haven't had any advertising, done any touring, had a major marketing push.

So what are the ten books currently outselling me?

Four are Stephanie Meyer books--no big surprise there. Two are bibles. And while the bible is a popular book, the reason they're doing so well is they are free.

Also free is Lee Child's book, Persuader, and I'm tickled he's outselling both bibles. Persuader is one of his older titles, and giving it away for free is a smart way to hook new readers on his series.

The other three are the monster bestsellers The Shack, the Steve Harvey book, and the Mark R. Levin book. Like the Stephanie Meyer books, these are full price, between six dollars and ten dollars.

Rounding out the top 25, we find eight more free books, and six more full-priced bestsellers.

It's pretty easy to see why Afraid is on the Kindle bestseller list.

While it is not a print bestseller, and it is not free, the $1.99 price makes it an impulse purchase, like candy in the check-out line at the grocery store. If you just bought a $350 device to read books, naturally you want to fill the device up. But filling it up with $10 books will cost a fortune--very much like filling up an iPod using iTunes.

So Kindle owners are looking for free books, and cheap books. They're looking hard enough for them to spend $1.99 on a debut novel by an unknown author.

This works out perfect for Afraid by Jack Kilborn. I'm getting new readers, and if they like me, perhaps they'll seek out my other books, either in ebook form or in print.

Hyperion, the publisher of my Jack Daniels books, also gets it. They released the first in my series, Whiskey Sour, on Kindle for $3.96. How is that doing? Sales Rank: #757 in Kindle Store

#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals
#14 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Women Sleuths
#36 in Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Suspense

Not bad for a book that's been out for five years.

How are my other four regularly-priced Jack Daniels Kindle versions doing?

None of them are on the Kindle bestseller lists.

The Kindle bestseller lists, and the Amazon Shorts bestseller lists, are dominated by free books.

Both Amazon, and publishers, should be paying close attention to this. If they truly want to sell ebooks, cheap or free can get more downloads than full priced mega-bestsellers. For heaven's sake, in what crazy world can Afraid by Jack Kilborn outsell Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, Harlan Coben, Clive Cussler, and all the other giants?

Only in the world of lower prices.

Now imagine if all ebooks were cheap or free. Imagine how quickly they'd take over the print industry.

You won't have to imagine it for long. Because it's coming.

And for all of you Kindle and Sony Reader owners who surfed onto my blog on the basis of my header, visit, where I have six free ebooks, compatible with both devices, along with one for 99 cents.

Also something to consider: My free ebooks have been downloaded 17,568 times. My 99 cent book has been download 204 times.

If ebooks take over, like I think they will, freebies, pirated copies, and illegal downloads will decimate the print industry just like file sharing mp3s have decimated the CD industry.

You heard it here first.

More Afraid reviews:

Also, I'm guest posting at Naked Authors, to see if I get a better response than I did at The Outfit:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Where's...Enough Already! Blog Tour Recap

I began my monumental, trend-setting, ground-breaking, superhuman, death-defying, egomaniacal, much talked-about blog tour on February 28th, on a whim.

I had heard of blog tours; authors visit other blogs and guest post and/or answer questions about their current book. But I'd never attempted one. Partly because I didn't want to impose on my blogging peers. Partly because it seemed like a lot of work, with no guaranteed results.

But in February, before Afraid came out, I'd used my newsletter to solicit reviews in exchange for free copies of Afraid, asking people to blog about the book. I received well over a hundred responses from bloggers willing to review it. My publisher, who was behind me completely, wanted a way to keep track of who was getting books and reviewing them, so I suggested posting links on my blog every time a review came in.

That got me to thinking. In conjunction with the review campaign, wouldn't it be a good idea to supplement that with interviews and excerpts of the novel?

Over the years, I've managed to trade links with quite a few bloggers. I'm lucky that this blog has a decent following. It occurred to me that blogging on other sites might also benefit the sites I visit, because I'd be sending my regular visitors to new blogs. So instead of imposing, it would be more like win-win.

So, mostly to see if I could do it, I asked the blogosphere if anyone wanted to host me during. The amount of responses surprised me, and I easily had enough requests to fill every day in March.

Then it became a question of organization and time management. Who wanted what from me, and when would it be posted?

I'm awful at time management and organization. But whenever I did a guest blog, I asked for the blogger to email me the URL the morning it was posted. That way, even if I forgot what I was doing (which was often) I would get a reminder of who to link to. Google Alerts also helped, every day sending me an email of all of the places I was currently being featured on.

I've gotten over 30 reviews so far. As I'd requested, many of the reviewers posted their reviews in multiple locations--some of them in over a dozen places. The reviews are still coming in, and I'll continue to post them as I get them.

For the curious, here's a pdf of the letter I sent to reviewers:

Then it became a question of checking out the blogs that asked to host me, and asking them what they'd like me to do. Some preferred interviews. Some preferred me to blog about specific topics. It took a bit of time to write the 75 posts, and I did my best to not repeat myself and to conform to the blog owner's style.

So, did it work?

Googling "Jack Kilborn" in February resulted in 2880 hits. Googling "Jack Kilborn" today results in 12,000 hits.

In February, Afraid was ranked 1,299,341 on Amazon. Currently, it's at 9565. Keep in mind this is a paperback original from a new author with a small marketing budget, so debuting in the top 10,000 is pretty good, considering no previous track record, no ads, no tour, no radio campaign, no major reviews other than Publisher's Weekly.

Three of my Jack Daniels books hit the Police Procedural bestseller list, at four different times during the month. My backlist numbers have all spiked considerably compared to last month.

I'm still getting requests for interviews and reviews. Plus, even though the blog tour is over, the blogs I visited are permanent, and will continue to get visitors for weeks, months, even years to come.

During my month of blog touring, I got requests for more than 600 new Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter friends. Over a hundred new people signed up for my newsletter.

So, is blog touring a good time investment?

I say yes. Many of the blogs I visited told me they were thrilled with their increased traffic, and there seemed to be a lot of cross pollenization of fans going on. In fact, except for selling short stories and visiting bookstores, I can't think of a better return on your self-promo investment than blog touring.

If you're considering doing a blog tour, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Have copies of your book to give away, to reviewers and to contest winners. I gave away books at several of the blogs I visited.

2. Momentum is important. Hitting as many blogs as you can in a short amount of time helps build buzz. Too long between posts and people will forget you're on a blog tour.

3. Make sure you've networked with enough people to be able to find enough blogs to host you. If possible, try to appear on a variety of blogs that have different demographics.

4. Don't repeat yourself. And don't try to sell books. Blogging is about information and entertainment, not infomercials.

5. Be willing to spend a lot of time on this. I spent well over a hundred hours in March, writing blogs, answering email, figuring out what I was doing and when.

6. Use your social networks to amplify the tour. I used Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to point people toward my blog, and many of the hits I got came from these online billboards.

7. Partner with your publisher. Grand Central has been great, helping with reviews and logistics, and coming up with many terrific ideas, including offering Afraid as an ebook download for only $1.99. These are savvy folks who know what they're doing, and they're a pleasure to work alongside.

Blog touring isn't easy, but I expect to see more and more authors giving it a try. Your results may vary, but like all self-promotion, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

More Afraid reviews:

An Afraid book giveaway: