The Best Time To Be a Writer

0728 TOP SUSPENSE ecover WRITING ON CRIME_SMIt’s news to no one that the publishing industry has undergone a massive paradigm shift in the last twenty-four months that has changed everything about the business for authors, booksellers, and publishers. But there's one thing that hasn't changed, the most important thing of all, and sadly too many authors aren't paying enough attention to it.

Thanks initially to the introduction of the Kindle, and Amazon opening up their storefront to authors, it’s no longer necessary to have a publisher in order to reach readers.  Authors now have options they never had before for getting their books to a national audience. Being dropped by a publisher, or having your books go out of print, are no longer the kiss of death. On the contrary, they present perhaps more profitable opportunities to exploit your material.

For new authors, it’s no longer necessary to go through the struggle of finding an agent who will then sell their work to a publisher, an odyssey than can take years…if it happens at all. Now it’s the publishers, editors and agent who are struggling ….desperately trying to reinvent themselves in a radically changing business.

Self-publishing is no longer the realm of vanity press vultures preying on aspiring, naïve and desperate authors…nor is it the complicated and outrageously expensive gamble, with pitiful chances of success, that it once was. It’s now possible to publish your book, both electronically and in print, with a mouse click, with little to no upfront investment…and to have your book  on the virtual shelf on equal footing with the likes of  James Patterson and Nora Roberts, at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble storefronts.

Writing careers are being born and, in the case of mid-list authors, reborn.

Now whenever authors get together, we are no longer discussing how we write, or problems with our editors, or tales of life on the road. The talk today is inevitably about reversion of rights letters, book scanning, copyediting, e-book formatting, the nuances of cover art, manipulation of metadata, e-pub vs. mobi, pricing, giveaways, marketing and publicity, social networking, blogging, tagging, liking, tweeting and pinning.

For established, professional writers, coming into self-publishing after years in the “legacy” publishing world, that isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve learned and perfected their craft (or maybe I am just trying to excuse my own obsession with those aspects of the business). But I’ve listened to new writers at conferences or while lurking on writers’ boards and the newbie writers seem obsessed with everything except what matters most: the writing.

I believe it’s that misguided obsession that s leading to the ethical scandals we’ve been seeing lately… like John Locke who hired people to buy his books and write fake reviews (to artificially boost his rankings and acclaim) to establish himself… and Stephen Leather and RJ Ellory who both used “sock-puppets” on Amazon and social media to generate false buzz and fake reviews to boost their popularity and attack their "rivals."

What authors need to remind themselves is that all of that formatting, pricing, tweeting, social networking, etc. is meaningless if you don’t know how to tell a good story, create compelling characters, develop a strong voice, set a scene, establish a sense of place, or manage point-of-view.

I rarely hear writers anymore talking about the pluses and minuses of out-lining, the importance of an active protagonist, the different kinds of conflict, or the elements of structure. The craft of writing has taken a backseat to the business of publishing.

That’s one reason why the members of Top Suspense, have put together a book called WRITING CRIME FICTION.  We want to get the dialogue started again… to bring writers back to the one thing that will never change, even as the publishing business reinvents itself.

People want a good story.

That’s why writers write and readers buy books. Good stories. Great characters. That's what matters. Not whether you should write an erotic novel to cash in on FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY… or maybe focus on a YA novels since the HUNGER GAMES series is so hot.

Writers have been handed a great opportunity in the last twenty-four months. We now have tremendous control over our creative and financial lives as writers that we never had before. We now have choices that simply didn’t exist before.

Don’t blow it. Don’t become so focused on the business that you forget the craft. Take advantage of the freedom, and the opportunities, and the new choices by focusing on telling great stories.  Hone your craft, Find your voice…focus and less on how the story is packaged, sold and promoted. Help us shift the balance back to where it belongs…

Storytelling.

It’s a Crime

0728 TOP SUSPENSE ecover WRITING ON CRIME_SMThe 12 critically acclaimed, award-winning thriller writers at Top Suspense, including yours truly, have shared everything they know about their craft in the new book Writing Crime Fiction, which is garnering some terrific reviews, like this one from Book Chase, where he says, in part:

Wannabe mystery writers will find in Writing Crime Fiction what they need to accomplish their goal.  Lee Goldberg’s “Double Take” chapter and Libby Hellmann’s chapter entitled “Jack Bauer and Me: Building Suspense” offer detailed insights into the construction of a crime novel.  Goldberg discusses in detail the bones that hold crime novels together, the frame upon which all good crime fiction is carefully built, while Hellmann takes a similar approach to the sub-genre of “suspense” novels. […]The real beauty of Writing Crime Fiction, I think, is that it offers something for all of us, writer and reader alike.  If you want to try your hand at writing a crime novel, this is the book for you.  If you want to better understand why you love crime fiction so much – and how it all comes together – here are the answers. 

It’s the Story, Stupid

TOP SUSPENSE BLOG HEADER 3Seems to me that authors are losing track of what really matters… not the formatting, covers, tweeting, pinning and promotion…it's the story, stupid. I blog about it today at Top Suspense. Here's an excerpt:

I’ve listened to new writers at conferences or while lurking on writers’ boards and the newbie writers seem obsessed with everything except what matters most: the writing.

I believe it’s that misguided obsession that s leading to the ethical scandals we’ve been seeing lately… like John Locke who hired people to buy his books and write fake reviews (to artificially boost his rankings and acclaim) to establish himself… and Stephen Leather and RJ Ellory who both used “sock-puppets” on Amazon and social media to generate false buzz and fake reviews to boost their popularity and attack their "rivals."

What authors need to remind themselves is that all of that formatting, pricing, tweeting, social networking, etc. is meaningless if you don’t know how to tell a good story, create compelling characters, develop a strong voice, set a scene, establish a sense of place, or manage point-of-view.

I rarely hear writers anymore talking about the pluses and minuses of out-lining, the importance of an active protagonist, the different kinds of conflict, or the elements of structure. The craft of writing has taken a backseat to the business of publishing.

Naomi’s Flawed Masterpiece

417 Top Suspense Sizzling Summer Reads My friend Naomi Hirahara talks today about her affection for Summer of the Big Bachi, her widely acclaimed first novel and today's Top Suspense Sizzling Summer read. It took her fifteen years to write the novel, which she considers "a flawed book yet a very ambitious one" and yet her favorite among all the ones that she's written:  

Why do I describe my first novel as flawed? This is not a finely tuned mystery novel, as sits probably in the middle of being a traditional mystery and literary fiction. Mas is very broken in this novel and not that likable at times. And I use a lot of dialect.BACHI, for instance, means “what goes around, comes around.” 

I feel that SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI captures a community of people that you probably never knew existed. They have survived and thrived through experiences you couldn’t imagine. This summer, spend a few days in Mas Arai’s world. It will be a fresh, and unique experience and probably one you won’t forget.

She's right. Discover for yourself why so many booksellers fell in love with this book and hand-sold it to big and lasting success.

Sizzling Summer Reads

It's going to be a long, hot Top Suspense Summer! Here 12 masters of the genre will keep you on the edge of your beach towel with 12 sizzling summer reads guaranteed to get your pulse pounding.

Join in the discussions this summer and win a free copy of our second anthology! With our second Top Suspense anthology we’ll each be contributing an award nominated, an award winning, or a personal favorite story.  It will be out in the Fall, and anyone who reads and joins in the discussion on our Facebook page of four of our summer books–or better yet, reviews the books on Amazon–will receive a free copy before we make it available to the general public.

Watch the Top Suspense blog over the next three weeks as each Top Suspense author will talk about their sizzling summer books.

Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane (Bill Crider)

Blood Moon by Ed Gorman

Dying Memories by Dave Zeltserman

Motion to Kill by Joel Goldman

No One Will Hear You by Max Allan Collins & Matthew Clemens

Riptide by Paul Levine

Running Cold by Harry Shannon

Set The Night On Fire by Libby Hellmann

Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

Valley Of Lights by Stephen Gallagher

Voluntary Madness by Vicki Hendricks

And Watch Me Die by yours truly. And don't forget to join our Summer Sizzling Reads discussions all summer long at our Top Suspense Facebook Page!

Suspenseful News

Top Suspense_POD cover (1) Lots of TOP SUSPENSE news today. First off, today is the official publication date of our Top Suspense anthology, which has already garnered wide-spread critical acclaim. 

And to celebrate the publication, we've started a new, daily, tag team storyLauren's Run, written by Joel Goldman, Stephen Gallagher, Naomi Hirahara, Paul Levine, Libby Fischer Hellmann and yours truly. But you'll have to guess who wrote what. There was no advance plotting, no plan…we each had to write 250 words and hand it off to the next writer in line. It was a lot of fun…and plays out over the next 12 days.

And finally, the fine folks at Kindle Nation are spotlighting Top Suspense today…and books by all twelve of the Top Suspense authors.

More Suspenseful Authors

Naomi Hirahara, Libby Fischer Hellmann and Stephen Gallagher have joined Top Suspense, and you can read some amusing &  informative interviews with them on the Top Suspense blog. Here's an excerpt from the interview with Stephen:

TSG: What are your influences?

A mixed bunch of American pulpsters and British postwar thriller writers; I'm particularly drawn to novelists who demolish all barriers between low and high art for the sake of a thrilling tale. I like good contemporary suspense and I also like a great historical, as long as there's a streak of darkness in it.

TSG: Your muses?

The ghosts of Arthur Conan Doyle, James M Cain, Gavin Lyall, and all the dogs I've ever owned, and the woods we've roamed in while I worked out my stories.

TSG: Your first sale?

An adaptation of my first radio serial. Radio drama was the first and most valuable step in my education. Unlimited landscapes with a tight focus on plot and character.

TSG: Your biggest, most memorable thrill as a writer?

Driving down to Santa Monica in October 2008, seeing a giant billboard advertising one of my TV shows while the trail for another played on the car's radio. In a convertible it would have been a perfect moment; in a rented Hyundai it was still pretty good.

TOP SUSPENSE Free Advance Reading Copies

0300 Top Suspense_'13'_10 Hold on tight for a literary thrill-ride into the wickedly clever, frightening, and exhilarating world of  Top Suspense, a sizzling collaboration of twelve master storytellers at the peak of their
powers in thirteen unforgettable tales…Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Stephen Gallagher, Joel Goldman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Naomi Hirahara, Vicki Hendricks, Paul Levine, Harry Shannon, Dave Zeltserman, and yours truly.

This unforgettable anthology – packed full of cold-blooded killers, erotic tension, shady private eyes, craven drug dealers, vicious betrayals, crafty thieves, and shocking twists – is coming out on APRIL 1 and is only a taste of the thrills you will find in the breathtakingly original ebooks by these authors at www.topsuspensegroup.com.

But you can get a FREE ADVANCE READING COPY...in your e-format of choice.

Here’s all you have to do:

1. Send me an email at lee@leegoldberg.com with the subject FREE TOP SUSPENSE BOOK and give me your name and the address of your website or blog (don’t have one? That’s okay. Read on).

2. Agree to post a review, positive or negative (but with no spoilers!) on your blog, website, Goodreads page, Facebook page, or the Amazon listing for TOP SUSPENSE in the next 60 days. (You don't have to buy the book on Amazon to review it there, you only need to have an account). 

3. Email me a copy of the review or a link to the post.

Each Top Suspense author has been alotted just 25 copies to giveaway, so if you're interested, you'd better hurry. And once you get your book,  sit back, bite down on a piece of strong leather, and prepare to get hit by some gale-force suspense and writing so sharp it will draw blood.

Let’s Schmooze in the Writer’s Chatroom

The Writer's Chatroom
     
Chat with Dave Zeltserman and Lee Goldberg
 Dave Zeltserman is the Shamus award winning author of JULIUS KATZ. His 'man out of prison' crime noir series features the novels SMALL CRIMES, PARIAH, and KILLER.

SMALL CRIMES was selected by NPR as one of the five best crime novels of 2008 and by theWashington Post as one of the best novels of 2008. PARIAH was selected by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of2009. Dave's novel THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD is a finalist for a Black Quill Award for best dark genre novel of the year.

Dave lives in the Boston area with his wife,Judy, and after spending 20 years developing network management software for several of the world's leading technology companies, he now splits his time between writing crime and horror fiction and studying martial arts, where he holds a black belt inKung Fu. His upcoming crime novels include OUTSOURCED (Feb. '11) and THE ESSENCE OF MONSTERS (Fall, '11). OUTSOURCED has already been called a 'small gem of crime fiction' by Booklist and has been optioned by Constantin Film and Impact Pictures.

(See more of Dave's books here)

Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award nomineewhose many TV writing and/or producing credits include Martial Law, SeaQuest,Diagnosis Murder, Spenser: For Hire, Nero Wolfe, Monk and The Glades. His books include The Walk, Successful Television Writing, The Man With with The Iron-On Badge and the Diagnosis Murder and Monk series of original mystery novels.

As a TV development consultant, he's worked forproduction companies and broadcasters in Germany, Spain, Sweden, and theNetherlands. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America and is the co-founder of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

(See more of Lee's books here)

Dave and Lee are both members of the Top Suspense Group.  http://www.topsuspensegroup.com/ 

 
WHEN?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Eastern USA Time…..7 PM

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WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at:  http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note:  The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.