Sunday, October 30, 2005


A comment was left on my blog with this question:

In today's publishing climate where it appears that publishing houses themselves do very little promoting of most authors and their books, what role do you think writers themselves take on? Ellen Hart said that writers have to be their own promoters and take to the road. Could you address this? 

My answer to the first part of this question is that writers have to take on whatever they’re comfortable with and what they think will sell their book better than the publisher can.

In the past I’ve been sent on book tours (twice with Ellen) by my publisher and although parts of it were fun, I couldn’t see that it sold more books than if I hadn’t been in a bookstore reading, or on a panel discussing where we get our ideas.

There’s no data that says touring will sell books.  In fact, I’ve heard that it really doesn’t payoff.  If I had to go on tour because my publisher felt it would help I’d do it.  But I wouldn’t be happy about it.  I certainly would never finance my own tour.  That has to be a losing proposition.

Perhaps tours help bestselling authors, but I’ve never understood the need for those people to go on tour.  Just as I’ll never understand why publishers take out ads for books that are already on the bestseller lists.

Publishers say ads don’t do anything.  Really?  I think an ad in the right place might let readers know that a book is out there.  However, I know of an author who took out ads three days in a row to prove to his publisher that that would sell more books.  It didn’t.

Janet Evanovich writes her books, Random House publishes them and then her entire family becomes a production company, according to an article in the NYT’s. On her website there’s a cornucopia of things to buy…T-shirts, hats, key rings, and things to do…like puzzles, contests, casting the characters for movies.  There are even photos of reader’s pets.

I’m not making a judgment here.  It’s simply that I wouldn’t have the energy or desire to do anything like that.  I have this blog and I have a website. Nothing on my website moves or makes a sound or morphs into anything else.  It’s mainly about my writing as this blog is about my writing and writing in general.

If I did what Evanovitch does I wouldn’t have time to write because writing isn’t only the time I spend in front of that screen. It’s a full time job which requires me to be still when I’m not actually writing. This is so that I can think.

Evanovitch  goes on extended tours.  The longest one I ever went on was two weeks and I was exhausted afterward.

Maybe it’s me.  I didn’t become a writer to travel, sell things other than books, be an actor, or have webcams watching me work. I became a writer to write and because I couldn’t not write.  I’d love to sell as many books as those bestselling authors who tour and appear on morning television shows, but I’ll never sell that many books no matter what I do and television adds ten pounds.

So back to the original question, what role do I think writers have to take on to sell books?  This writer has to write a book and cooperate with what the publisher would like me to do.  That’s it.



Thursday, October 27, 2005


I spend my days buying tunes from Itunes to fill up my Ipod Nano.  Get out my CDs to transfer them to the Ipod.  I don’t write much email.  Haven’t felt like it.  Read.  Not as much as I plan to each day.  Stay in my pj’s until noon.  Talk on the phone.  Go to the library.  Then the library cottage…buy books…more books.  Order even more books from Amazon or through Addall.  Read blogs.

But mostly I wait.  For the phone to ring.  No, I’m not waiting to be asked to the Halloween party.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ladies Who Lunch

I just had lunch with my agent.  Besides having a good time, which we always have, she reasurred me about being offered a contract for the next two Faye Quick books.

“What are they waiting for?” I knew, of course.

“The numbers.  They need to know what to offer.”

“You mean they might offer less?”

“No.  The same or more.”

I’m home now and I know I’ll never be offered a contract for any book ever again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


"Unconsciously, you write to be read. If you want to write for yourself then you keep a journal."

Bapsi Sidhwa

Monday, October 10, 2005

So Much For What I know

Back in 2004 or early 2005 (I’m too lazy to look it up) I said I had on good authority that publishers were going to phase out mass market paperbacks.  A few people read that and were upset by it and hoped it wasn’t true.  Well, guys, I guess it wasn’t. 

But I did read an article that said mass market pbks were going to be a different size.  A little larger.  So maybe that’s what my impeccable source heard and managed to screw it up in the telling.

The reason I know I was wrong is because my own book, This Dame for Hire, will be published in June/July in mass market.  I’m glad about that.  I have to confess I wouldn’t pay 12 to 14 dollars for a trade paperback mystery unless that was the only version published.  In fact, I never buy any book in tpk unless it’s the only version available. I love the way they look and feel and, as stated before, I wish all books were published this way instead of in hardcover.  But I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.  I didn’t get that from any source, it’s only what I believe.

Friday, October 07, 2005


“When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand."

Raymond Chandler

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Arrival of Cover Art

The envelope arrived by FedEx yesterday morning. With great trepidation I pulled the tag and slowly reached in to pull out the two paste ups on black board. One was immediately discarded. I won't bother explaining why. Trust me.

The colors and background are great. An obvious New York street scene with period cars, etc. It’s all in red the way Dame was in turquoise…see below….and the font is the same with the same colors. That might sound awful but it’s not.

Obviously they’ve decided to keep the silhouette of the woman with the gun on every jacket. Every…will there be more than this one?

So guess what? The art director didn’t remember. The skirt length. Way down below the knee. And a flowing skirt that no self-respecting PI would wear to work.

What is wrong with this art department? Even though they don’t draw they must have stock photos from the Forties they can use. And once again they’ve put the gun in her left hand. She ain’t left-handed!

I wrote my editor this morning and gave my complaint about the skirt and the gun in the left hand. I also included a photo of a woman in the Forties wearing an everyday dress…hem just below her knees. He wrote back and said he’d pass my note about the skirt length and the photo on to the art deptartment, but said nothing about the gun in the left hand. I might have to let that go. It’s less important than the hem of the skirt.

Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll get the skirt right in one take, so to speak. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cover Art

Yup.  Here we go again.  I think tomorrow my editor will be sending me: specifically two proposed covers--both variations on a theme (apparently two different silhouettes of Faye). 

I can hardly wait.  After last year’s fiasco I can’t imagine what this will be like.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of them was good?  Last time it was the length of the skirt I had to yell about for months. I wonder if the art director remembers that the skirts were short in 1943?

I can’t believe there won’t be some egregious mistake.  You see, they don’t draw anymore in art departments.  They have stock drawings and they put them together.  There’s nothing original.

The final jacket art of This Dame for Hire was great.  But nobody drew anything.  I guess that shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does.  It’s another example of how everything has changed in publishing.


On another topic that turned up on a listserv I belong to called DetecToday, people were writing about the fact that series writers have begun to leave out the mystery in their mystery. It seems to be happening in their 8th book or so.  I haven’t come across this in my reading but I stay away from long series because I think they become anemic.  And if writers are leaving out the mystery (also called plot) I think I’m right to avoid them.  The longest series I wrote was five books.  I believe the fifth book was the weakest even though I had a mystery. And if for some insane reason I was writing a 10th I’d sure make an effort at including a plot.  Anyone else notice a mystery series that doesn’t have a mystery?