Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, October 31, 2014

Amazon's Impact on Publishing - Open for Debate?

A recent article in Publishers Weekly titled, Amazon’s Impact on Publishing?  It’s Complicated, raised more questions than answers, something that shouldn’t be too surprising to any of us.  After all, arguing about the impact of any seemingly behemoth establishment on the book industry is nothing new.  As the article points out - and stated by one of the panelists for this topic - it wasn’t that long ago that many on all sides of the publishing industry were bemoaning Barnes & Noble’s impact on indie bookstores.  Some still do.

Here’s the link to the article:

Rewind to twenty years ago – or even less – and many authors were doing everything they could to support indie bookstores out of solidarity if nothing else, but few of these authors shunned the chain bookstores – like B&N – because at the end of the day, an author’s biggest challenge is making sure their book(s) sell.  Even in the day of electronic this and that, this fact has not changed.  How it’s tracked and the tools to achieve it have certainly changed but the need to sell their work to become established and attract not only readers but publishers is still at the heart of the journey for most authors.

Just tell me you never check your Amazon ranking!

Certainly, it seems to be one of the easiest times in publishing history to become a published author, just look at all that is available on Amazon’s website that is self-published.  However, it’s also one of the most challenging times to be a published author, just look at all that is available on Amazon’s website (and other sites) period.

One thing that hasn’t changed – at least in my humble opinion (or should I write IMHO to be with it?) is that reviews and good publicity still make a huge difference for an author.  If there is one thing that can make that huge difference for a writer is someone or some reviewer touting an author’s book(s).  This is the ultimate in word-of-mouth advertising.  Oprah’s Book Club anyone?

So, in the end, in many ways, authors are where they’ve always been – struggling to write a good book, struggling to get it published and struggling to gain readers and get it sold.

Brings to mind the saying, “What’s old is new again.”

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My "Throw Back Thursday" Day! by DL Larson

My son decided to buy a truck in Quincy, a four hour drive south from where we live. He decided to ride the train down there and then drive his new truck home. I got wind of  his plans and decided to join him. I have several good reasons for doing so ... 1. I'd get to spend a whole day with my son. 2. I used to live in Quincy. and 3. I used to ride the train back and forth to school. I thought it would be fun to go down memory lane.

I'm so glad I went! First off, we rode in the business class car - big leather seats and more leg room! A much smoother ride than I remember from a few generations ago.

The train ride was three hours long, an hour shorter than it used to be!  At the train station we were picked up by the car dealer and he drove us to Hannibal, MO for the truck. We returned to Quincy, cruised the town in a shiny black truck to see if my old stomping grounds were still standing!

This is 649 Ohio Street - the infamous residence where too many parties were hosted by two very young and innocent roomies. We lived across the street from the business school we attended! Need I say more? Our apartment was 'under the stairs,' much like Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs! When I lived there the brick was still red and the trim was white and blackish. I think I prefer the red brick, but I guess this is considered progress. I'm delighted it is still standing.

Our old bar and hangout is still there too - called the Scoreboard. Many of the world's problems were solved at that old place.
I believe it's gotten a new paint job and definitely a new roof. I only wish we'd had time to stop in for a beer. Our good friend used to live in the apartment above the tap and we'd buy pitchers of beer and carry them upstairs to the apartment. It was fun and convenient and they let us use their glasses as well. Such good memories of kind people and fun times!

Now, my old Alma mater is still open too. It's called Gem City Business College. A unique school where I learned to be the best darn secretary anyone could be.  Too bad I never really ever became a secretary, but I sure learned how to do research, type and file and find mistakes in ANYTHING!  Oh, how the Good Lord has his ways of preparing us even when we have no idea what we are doing. In those days, I never really thought about being a writer. I dropped out of Senior English for heaven's sake! Thus the main reason I attended a business college rather than a traditional college. I couldn't get in to college with only three years of English. 

I couldn't graduate from this school until I could type 90 words a minute with no mistakes and transcribe short-hand at 60 words a minute, then type up and deliver to the instructors within - I believe it was thirty minutes. This school looks simple and un-adorned from the outside, but it was brutally tough on the inside. 
And as in any school, I met the best people. My college friends are my life-long friends. I love them dearly and no matter if we don't see each other every week or every month, we keep in contact and consider them family.

So, I just dug this out of my old school album. It's November 1972. Kurt and I are newly weds, the girl next to me is my roomie and dearest friend, Jan Wheeler Beard, and next to her stands one of our good buddies of the day, Mike Liggett. We were at our graduation ceremony from Gem City Business College. Mike graduated from the Jewelry School, Jan graduated from the fashion school, and me from the business school. Kurt was there for the celebration!

Oh what a day!  Such fun spending the day with my son and going down memory lane!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Holding Out For Better

Do you always take the first product on the shelf, or are you like me, and reach for the next, in back of it, which might be less bent or fresher? It's a fact that good grocery stores rotate their products, so the oldest are in front, so many of us are wise to that system.

I wrap my dog, Rascal's vitamins in liver sausage, or she won't eat them. If I happen to let one part of a pill go uncovered, she'll ignore it and hold out for better. Unfortunately, she's getting into the habit of doing that with her dog food as well. After all, liver sausage tastes better than that other stuff in her bowl.

Countless other everyday examples abound, but since I'm a reader, as well as an author, I'd like to focus now on books. Do you ignore ones by unknown authors, and only look for ones written by those you know you like, or do you try other authors out?

Do you stop reading a book at the first sign of an author error, or do you keep reading anyway?

Do you ignore books that have covers that don't grab you?

If those are your habits, you may be missing out. There are plenty of great authors who aren't well known, yet can offer a great reading experience, if you'd only give them a chance.

About those author errors, one or two are no big thing. Unfortunately, the more you know about writing, the more picky you can get. I'm presently reading a book where the author switches point of view in spots where I'd least expect it, yet the story is so good I forgive her. If I stop reading, I won't know what'll happen next, and I really want to know. So, she may be making errors, but on the whole, her book is worth reading.

About covers, I confess to hardly ever investigating a book further, if I don't like the cover. Maybe I should. I could be missing out on something really good inside, instead of holding out for better on the outside.

What about you? Do you always hold out for better?

Find Morgan Mandel's mysteries and romances on
her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts from all her books are at:

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall is in the Air

Despite the warm temperatures yesterday (I was actually able to take my convertible out for a spin!), fall is definitely in the air. Leaves are turning brilliant hues, and you can literally watch them falling to the ground. The grass is covered with their bounty. (We'll be raking today.) At night the temps do drop, giving us that cozy chill, perfect for warmer jackets and s'mores by the fire. Pumpkins are the decoration of choice, although the darn squirrels seem to be enjoying them more than we are. Every single one of mine has a least one bite mark in it. And don't even get me started on the corn stalk on the pillar.

It's hard to believe that next weekend we turn the clocks back for an extra hour of sleep. Darkness will shroud us all that much sooner in the evenings. And the pumpkins and ghosties and witches will make way for turkeys and cornucopias.

I love this time of year. Four of my books are set in the fall. And as I look to a new series, I'm sure autumn will once again make its appearance in the pages of one of the stories.

But for now, if you're looking for a short, quick tongue-in-cheek vampire read, feel free to check out The Vampire and the Vixen. It's an is-he-or-isn't-he story for Halloween.

You can grab a copy at TRWP, Amazon, or Barnes and Nobel.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, October 24, 2014 in the News

So is in the news, perhaps in more ways than the company would like.

The latest headline of course is about its recent $10 Billion loss – ouch.  So, shareholders aren’t happy as one might expect.  The loss is primarily because the stock dropped due to poor quarterly earnings.

The other story actually is from a lengthy column posted on October 19, 2014 on the USAToday website by columnist Michael Wolff, whose take is that “Real books can defeat Amazon and e-books.”

I think you’ll find it an interesting read.

Among his contentions is that Amazon does not care about books because books as an actual product are a minor part of the company’s overall business.  He writes instead that rather than how the company can sell books, it is how the company can use books as a gateway – or pawn – in developing new technologies, an interesting statement as Amazon has recently launched its newest reader, the Kindle Voyage.  It seems that the company is launching new readers at an incredibly fast pace which, at least on the surface, does support Mr. Wolff’s contention about books as a gateway to technology for the company.

The Kindle Voyage has actually received some favorable reviews to include this one by Ed Baig at USAToday:

But back to Mr. Wolff’s column and the notion that the publishers can defeat in the book arena by selling their books directly to consumers, and more importantly, by focusing on the actual book as in a physical book.  He makes a further point that actual bookstores are still important in the bookselling arena, especially the physical book arena, because people still like the bookstore experience.  I know that I do but I also like libraries.

Given Amazon’s recent financial losses and some of the backlash from publishers and writers, it will be interesting to see what happens next in the wild and crazy world of publishing and book selling.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Get Organized or Go Crazy? by DL Larson

It's that time of year when gals everywhere either go into panic mode because the holidays are coming or they get revved up because ... well, the holidays are coming!

I've been on both sides of this situation and have learned over the many, many years it is better to be ahead of the game vs. running to catch up. My daughter brought this website to my attention:  called: Flylady's Holiday Control Journal! This gal is a list maker and she's ready to help organize the procrastinator in all of us.

As a writer, it becomes very difficult to juggle time for writing in my everyday life, let alone during the holidays. Some years I close my office and promise, "I'll be back after Christmas!" Other years I've pushed myself to the breaking point trying to maintain a writing schedule. Whichever choice I make, I feel it is not the right one. It's that little voice in the back of my mind saying, "I want to do it all!"  Well, that too, I've learned to stand up to. I do want to do it all. But again, experience has taught me, I can't do it all at once. I've learned to prioritize! Oh, how I love that word. What is really important today? Tomorrow and next week? Everything runs smoother with a plan.

My plan is to not over-schedule this year. My kids are snickering. I know they are; I see them rolling their eyes and saying, "Yeah, right, Mom!" I always over-schedule. There's so many things I enjoy doing and seeing. I enjoy hosting parties, I enjoy going to parties, plays and special outings. I love buying presents for my family. I enjoy baking - most of the time. And decorating? Well, don't get me started. I over-decorate. I have an addiction to fill every corner and crevice with holiday flare. Although I must admit I've down-sized considerably. I used to have four to five Christmas trees in my house and last year I only had three. So there is hope for me. I may yet survive another Christmas season without collapsing.

So, back to Flylady's advice. She suggests spending 15 minutes to de-clutter each room. Fifteen for the kitchen, 15 for the living room, etc. And she then suggests we rest for 15 minutes! She's not talking about deep cleaning, she advises picking up after oneself! Something we women have been asking our family members to do for generations! Pick up the papers around the house daily. Put away shoes daily. Hang coats daily. Empty the dishwasher daily. Fill said dishwasher daily. Do a load of wash daily. And isn't it the little things piling up daily that push us into a snarly mood and we feel overwhelmed at all the debris filling our living space?!?

When my kids were young, I was adamant about staying organized. If we didn't, we drowned in our own junk. Many of those regiments I began thirty-plus years ago, I still do today. I make my bed before leaving my bedroom, I throw a load of laundry in, I unload the dishwasher while my oatmeal cooks, the newspapers get tossed into the recycle bin, etc. Even with just my husband and I at home we compile a lot of litter. When I maintain this bit of organization, I feel better about spending time in my office working on my WIP. My house doesn't mock me for being neglected. I can focus. Isn't that what priorities are all about? Focusing so time is not wasted.

If time management is not your friend, visit the Flylady and see if she can help you become organized. It's only a click away. And really, it can't hurt to take a peek. I especially liked her buying/ordering page for presents. What a clever way to keep what has been purchased/ordered/received. With six grandkids, I need all the help I can find. I plan to order more this year. Flylady's tally sheet will help me tons.

Staying organized has never been easy for me, but once I am organized, it feels more like a blessing. I enjoy being organized. It's powerful and exhilarating. I like that!

Til next time ~

DL Larson 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stand Out From the Crowd

As often happens, my writing analogies seem to somehow revolve around my dog, Rascal. Today's analogy may be a little bit gross, but suits the purpose.

Lots of leaves have fallen in our backyard lately. Because of that it's very difficult for me to perform pooper-scooping duties. That's because the leaves all seem to blend in and hide the treasures I'm seeking. With all those leaves creating camouflage, still, if I persevere, I can find a modicum of success, though I have a feeling I could do better.

Immediately after the lawn is mowed for the week, and the leaves are gone, I do much better finding my targets.

How does this apply to writing or promotion?
Yes, with all those other authors around, clamoring for attention, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. A few ways to clear the area, at least for a short while can be:

1. Do a promotion, such as offering a freebie or reduced price for a few days. Other authors may be doing promos as well, but not as many as those who aren't.

2. Do a newsletter, and send it to those you've noticed have been loyal followers in the past. That way, it will be easier for them to remember you.

3. Do favors for other authors, and they'll do them for you. That pulls you out of your immediate circle/background and into other ones, where perhaps not as many people know you.

4. Retweet other authors on Twitter. Some will retweet you back, and their followers will learn about you.

5. Last, but not least, this has been said often enough, but still bears repeating: Write a Good Book! Good books create buzz and word of mouth is very effective.

Your turn - Can you think of other ways to stand out from the crowd?

Morgan Mandel
Find all of Morgan Mysteries and Romances on her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts from all of Morgan's books are at Morgan's Book Blog:

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hobby or Career?

For a long time I thought of my writing as a second career. And at times it felt like I dedicated as much time to it as to my full time job. Between writing, editing, promoting, blogging, and checking e-mail loops, there was quite a bit to be done.

Lately, though, I've gone from the career camp into the hobby camp. I've just found I need to shuffle some priorities and other things in life take precedence over writing. I'm not a regular attendee, to say the least, at my local RWA chapter meetings. And with the National RWA body making some changes as to qualifications for membership, which I do meet, I'm seriously reconsidering keeping my membership. I don't check loop e-mails on a regular basis. Most of the time I check my author e-mail once a week and delete most of the hundreds of e-mails that have accumulated. In the past I've tried my luck with submitting to Harlequin and had a few requests, although nothing ever came of it. At the time I was pretty bummed, but looking back now, I think it might have been one of those blessings in disguise.

I don't have time to write on a deadline. I am completely and utterly content writing on my own schedule. And I adore being part of The Wild Rose Press. I have found many advantages to being published by a small press, including having my very fist published novel, This Time for Always, still available in print form, even after six years. And it still sells. Which is really fun.

Do I make money writing as a hobby? Probably not. But I do more or less break even with what I make and what I spend on bookmarks, postcards, and my web-site. (Although I did over buy for This Feels Like Home and I have almost 20 books just sitting in my den collecting dust. I didn't make the same mistake with Family Secrets. Right now I have zero of those sitting around, so I will order a couple to just have on hand...just in case.

And when I find time to do it, I still enjoy writing. There's no pressure. There's no one peering over my shoulder urging me to writer faster because a deadline is looming. Yesterday I worked on galley edits for One Great Night, and it was a fun and relaxing day. And it got me excited about starting a new project. But I'm not going to stress if it doesn't happen right away. There's no rush.

So, yep, writing is my hobby. Will I ever be a New York Times Bestselling Author? Nope. And I'm good with that!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Windy City Goes To Springfield! By DL Larson

      Windy City Gals at the 2014 Illinois Library Annual Conference, Author Showcase:
         Sarah Anderson, Sonali Dev, Regina Bryant, DL Larson (me,) and Karen Doornebos!

What a great afternoon I had mingling with RWA Windy City authors. I rarely attend meetings, but I enjoy hearing the latest on our RWA Loop and going to an occasional author showcase like the one I attended today. So glad to meet up with these wonderful ladies!!!

As usual with librarians, only a few had $$ to spend on books directly from the authors in attendance. My advice to libraries everywhere ... if you plan to send more than one librarian to this yearly function, fork over some funds for them to explore and purchase for their library on their own. This is my blatant way of saying, SUPPORT ILLINOIS AUTHORS!  Buy a book!

Many authors have day jobs and re-arrange their schedule in order to attend the author showcase, perhaps pay for a sitter in the process, and have gas in the car to travel. Many of the authors I talked to were from the Chicago area and it took time and effort to be in Springfield for a day!  So please, buy a book!

Many folks collected hand-outs and that's great. I hope acquisitions departments will seriously consider purchasing books from Illinois authors. As a librarian, I know many favor B&T (that's Baker & Taylor for those wondering) when it comes to purchasing books. Some authors may have that connection, others may not. Again, please step out of the routine and buy a book from an Illinois Author!

The day flew by, but I got in line to have a photo with Jesse White, our Secretary of State and State Librarian. He's such a gentleman! We shook hands and he asked me my name and where I was from. I told him I was an author and a librarian and lived in Earlville. "Up by Ottawa?" he asked. I smiled and said, "yes!"  We took the selfie below - sorry it's crooked - that's entirely my fault - I've never taken a picture with my left hand before.  Then a professional took our picture and they will mail a copy to me!!  I shook his hand once more and stepped away, but he said something else that made me smile.  "Rips?" he asked. I turned back, laughing. "Yes, we're close to Rips. That's in Ladd!"  Rips is a famous and wonderful bar and restaurant, home of the best fried chicken in Illinois! We shared another chuckle and the next person stepped up to have their picture taken with Mr. White.

I sold a few books, talked with many great people in the book business and had a delightful ride north as my good friend drove me home! A great Thursday! Thank you, Judy for chauffeuring me today!

Now I must leave for community choir practice, when I'd rather be heading to Ladd. I'm craving some fried chicken!  I wonder if Jesse White is too!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Annapolis by Margot Justes

I promised myself a little excursion once a week-there's so much to see in this part of the country.

Wednesday I went to Annapolis, Maryland. I should have done my homework first, the place was packed, parking was non-existent all because it was prep time for the largest boat show in the world.

The central waterfront area was blocked by tents and people rushing about to set up because Thursday was the first day of the show. I walked along some of the narrow red brick streets that sent me back in time. I have to go back to visit the Maritime Museum, the waterfront and the rest of Annapolis at my leisure.

All was not lost, I did manage to see Main Street, filled with souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants, everything you ever wanted for a boat, along with unusual gifts. I bought a bookmark scrimshaw made from recycled piano keys.

I managed to take a little boat tour and have lunch in a delightful little place that served a delicious crab cake sandwich. I was told that during December all the stores are open until midnight and there are parties all a


Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review Sites for Indie Authors

Indie authors have traditionally had a challenge in obtaining book reviews, especially ones that generated sales, and unfortunately book review opportunities continue to dwindle as newspapers – especially traditionally published newspapers – drop or reduce their book review sections.  Smaller newspapers in the past have been a great resource for Indie or new authors to find an audience, especially if they had a local connection to the paper.

Yeah, there’s the Amazon review when your book is available via the site and if someone has actually reviewed it, but this is becoming a very crowded neighborhood for Indie authors these days.

Then there are sites such as Kirkus, which has been a staple in the world of book reviews for many decades, but you have to request a review and it will cost you ($425 for standard service and $575 for express):

As with many other sites, the reviews come with restrictions for non-members.  Then there’s the whole discussion about paid vs. non-paid reviews.

Sites like GoodReads seem to be providing more of a democratic opportunity for readers to find books and in turn for authors to find readers but I’ve yet to fully explore this site.  Membership is free but you do have to create an account.  This is on my to-do list, which seems to be getting longer and longer.  Ah, the joys and perils of trying to establish a writing career while having an extremely demanding day job.

Here are some other book review resources you might find helpful:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Moving by Margot Justes

I haven’t posted much on this site recently, there simply was not much time, and I can’t come up with weekly pearls of wisdom on what works and doesn’t in this exciting, upside down and rapidly changing writing business.

After twenty eight years I moved, not only have I moved out of a house, but also out of state. The process of putting the house on the market, selling said house within two weeks, and then packing all the stuff and in the middle of it all take three weeks off for a vacation, pretty much eliminated my writing. By the time I was done in the evening, the last thing I wanted to do was write.

For the next six months I have temporarily settled in a cozy one bedroom apartment in Alexandria, VA. It took me a while to find a small spot where I can comfortably write, and a bit more time to actually start writing.

During the first period of my transition I have done no advertising, have been pretty much absent from the social networks and the surprising fact was that my sales did not decrease because of my ‘social’ absence. In fact they have steadily increased with no effort on my part. That is not to say that I’m making huge inroads into sales, but am gaining slowly and steadily.

My lack of social presence and the lack of negative impact on sales tells me that either my social networking is not working, or that I’m doing something wrong, or that it takes time for readers to find me.  My guess is that I’m doing something wrong, sales is my worst nightmare; I’m simply not good at it. It also tells me that readers are slowly finding me. 

In the meantime, I’ll just keep writing, posting my tidbits and we’ll see what happens. I’m almost halfway through my two projects, A Hotel in Venice, and a novella set in Chicago. It’s back to normal for me, at least for a while, I still have to find a permanent place to live, and I have started to look.

Hope you’ll enjoy a few pictures from Alexandria.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art
A Fire Within
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks