Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Wordcraft – Cozy up to mysteries at Henery Press

Ever wondered where all the mysteries you grew up with went? You know, the ones that kept you up all night reading under the covers, but that didn’t give you nightmares when you finally fell asleep? The mysteries with sleuths you liked, who were real people, with real jobs, the kind of jobs you’d like to have, except that they ran unexpectedly into a lot of dead people.

Those are the mysteries the trade calls “cozies.” And wonder no more where they went. They’ve gone to roost in Frisco, Texas, at Henery Press, whose managing editor Kendel Lynn paid recent visit to the Dallas chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

And while I’m certainly not discouraging readers from checking out Henery’s catalog of cozy mysteries and chick lit (or as Henery puts it, cozies sans murder), Lynn had a lot to say to writers, including things I wish someone had told me before my newly-acquired agent asked for them, pronto.

Kendel Lynn, Henery Press
So for writers nearing publication, with or without agents, here’s Lynn’s list of things to do:

Get a professional photograph. OK, I got by, kind of, for years, on social media with a snapshot my daughter took. Why did the thought of going to a pro scare me? I went by a local department store with a photography studio, checked out the sample pictures for thoughts on backgrounds and what to wear. Then I scheduled a sitting after one of my regular haircut appointments and chose the minimal digital option for poses. It was way easier and more affordable than I had feared.

Write a professional biography. Lynn suggests three versions, at 75 words, 100 words and 125 words. This to do was easier, since I’d already written some bios to go with short story publications. But if you haven't written yours, do it now, listing your professional credentials (work experience, classes, publications, etc.) You can probably skip the part about your cats, unless of course, you’re writing a mystery solved by a cat.

Change all your social media sites to reflect your new photo and bio. I’ll admit, I’m still finding sites with old photos and outdated bios. Dig, dig, dig. Facebook? SheWrites? LinkedIn? Blog? Do it now.

Revise, revise, revise. If you need more help with this, see my posts of February 16, 2016, and February 23, 2016, from a recent workshop with bestselling author/editor Gerard Helferich. Then add Lynn’s suggestion: “Read your manuscript backwards, or mix up the pages” to freshen your eyes.

Make a marketing plan. With a schedule for nine months before publication, six months, three months, and after. What will you do? Blog? Arrange tours? Writers’ conferences are great places to meet potential readers, even before publication. Check out venues such as Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. If you have a publisher, ask how many advance reader copies will be available for potential reviewers, including the following:

Get author endorsements. These are those “brilliant” “fantastic”, etc., lines that appear (you hope) on your book’s cover. Lynn suggests 3-5 endorsements from recognized authors. “This is where networking comes into play,” Lynn says. “But don’t be afraid to ask strangers. Ask them to read your book) and if they enjoy it, will they write an endorsement?” (Check with your publisher about how far in advance of publication you need to provide endorsements.)

Prepare to launch the book! I’ll have more suggestions about book launches next Tuesday. In the meantime, check out the strategies author/speaker/coach Harry Hall used, from my August 4, 2015, posting, “The most fun you’ve never had at a book signing.”

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