Edgar Awards Announced

And the winners are…


The Last Child by John Hart (Minotaur Books)


In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)


Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn Press – Castle Street Mysteries)


Columbine by Dave Cullen (Hachette Book Group – Twelve)


The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)


"Amapola" – Phoenix Noir by Luis Alberto Urrea (Akashic Books)


Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)


Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)


"Place of Execution," Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (PBS/WGBH Boston)


"A Dreadful Day" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Dan Warthman (Dell Magazines)


Dorothy Gilman


Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Zev Buffman, International Mystery Writers’ Festival


Poisoned Pen Press (Barbara Peters & Robert Rosenwald)

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 28, 2010)

Awakening by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)

Cover Comparison

Which cover do you like better for my Mom's Kindle ebook Active Senior Living. Do you prefer the current one:

Moms Cover New

Or this new one?

Or should we start from scratch?

UPDATE 5/1/10:  We listened. We scrapped the new one and stuck with the old one. So what do you think of this one? Does it capture the humor and the heart?


Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk

159414110X  My brother Tod had the following conversation at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books:

A couple walked up to me after a panel on Sunday and looked very excited.

Man: We always come to the panels you're on!

Me: Oh, thanks, I appreciate it.

Man: We just loved The Walk! [a book my brother Lee wrote]

Me: Oh, uh, yeah, it's a good book.

Woman: Will you ever write another book like The Walk?

Me: Probably not.

Man: Is it even still in print?

Me: Yes. It's sold over 2 million copies. So I would think so.

Man: Really?

Me: Really.

Woman: It's so different from your other books.

Me: You think so?

Woman: It's nothing like Living Dead Girl.

Me: Well, I wrote The Walk when I was in recovery.



Me: So, I was a different person with that book. 

Me at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

As usual, I had a fantastic time at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I got to talk with so many writers, including Hannah Dennison, Brett Battles, Denise Hamilton, Gregg Hurwitz, John Wirth, Jane Smiley, Doug Lyle, Paul Levine, Cara Black, Joseph Wambaugh, Gary Phillips, Megan Abbott, Alex Espinoza, Cecil Castellucci, Tim Maleeny, Robert Gregory Browne, and Robert Dugoni, to name just a few. I also talked to tons of readers and bought a bunch of signed books, including "Model Home" by Eric Puchner, "Up in the Air" by Walter Kirn, and "A Bad Day for Sorry" by Sophie Littlefield. Here I am with my brother Tod and William Rabkin at the Mystery Bookstore booth.

And here's Christopher Rice, me, and Joseph Wambaugh.

And here I am with Todd Reynolds, who is going to be one of the stars of the short film I am shooting in Owensboro KY this fall.

I moderated a panel with Gayle Lynds, Christopher Rice and David Corbett and it went great. It was a nice mix of laughter, good advice, and knowledgeable observations about the craft and business of writing. I think we had as much fun as the audience. I hope I get to moderate another panel next year.

The Clock is Ticking and the Hands Are Dripping Blood

Vigilante 3  Marty McKee talks about my book .357 VIGILANTE #3: WHITE WASH (now available in a Kindle edition under the title PAYBACK) He didn't like it as much as the earlier books in the series, but still found some things to enjoy. He says, in part: 

The book's highlights are its action sequences, which work very well, even though some of the villains' motivations seem weak. When Macklin is introduced in the first chapter while tinkering with his new gadget-equipped 1959 Cadillac, I turned the pages in great anticipation waiting for him to use that sucker (which he does in a bloody scene that could have come right out of an Executioner novel).

The Bookfest is Here

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is this weekend and I'll be there all day Saturday, hosting a panel at 3 pm (with Chris Rice, Gayle Lynds, and David Corbett) and signing books at 11 a.m at the Mystery Bookstore Booth with my friends Chris Rice and Megan Abbott, my brother Tod, my longtime writing partner Bill Rabkin, and some guy named Wambaugh.  You can find the entire Mystery Bookstore signing schedule here.

Mansfield, Here I Come

Mansfield  As you read this, I am on my way to Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, where I will be speaking, teaching and signing over the next few days. This came about through a program at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which sends industry professionals to schools all across the country to share what they know about the TV biz with the next generation of writers, producers, and directors. I'm really looking forward to meeting the students, the professors, and the community…and I shall report back to you on my experience there.

You Can Become a Kindle Millionaire, Part 17: The Bet

The following is an email exchange between me and Joe Konrath earlier this month:



If I were you, I'd rename all the .357 Vigilante books getting rid of ".357" and "Vigilante" in their titles. The new covers should be generic–maybe a gun or some sort of weapon as the central image–but they should also tie together as a brand. And they should be done by an artist. Maybe a friend (you must have graphic artist friends) or maybe you can hold a contest on your blog. I'm convinced your covers and titles (which scream "Men's Action") are holding back sales of this fun series. 



I'm not sure that changing the covers for .357 VIGILANTE (or the titles) will help. The books are what they are — pulpy, mens action adventure novels from the 1980s. That is their appeal…and their drawback. 



Give me $XYZ. I'll give it to my graphic artist to redo the covers for the Vigilante books. Let me retitle them and do the product descriptions, and I bet your sales go up at least 25% in a two month period (compared to your last two months of sales.) If they don't, I'll give you the $XYZ back, and you get the covers for free. That's how sure I am those books will sell with the right packaging.



You have a deal!

So I sat back and let Joe have his way with my books. Here's the original cover for .357 VIGILANTE:

And here is what he did with it:

Vigilante 1
Here is the original cover for .357 VIGILANTE #2: MAKE THEM PAY:

And here is what he did with it:

Vigilante 2
Here's the original cover I cobbled together for .357 VIGILANTE: DIE MR. JURY, an omnibus collection of all four .357 VIGILANTE books:

Face and logo9
Here's the revamp I did for it last month:

Die Mr Jury1l
And here's what Joe did:

Jury Series
It's only a little past mid-month, but already it's clear that he's won the bet and his repackaging is a success.

Last month, 357 VIGILANTE  sold 59 copies or about 2 copies a day. This month, with the new title and cover, it has already sold 46 copies, or about 3 copies a day. It remains to be seen whether that pace of sales will continue for the rest of the month. But wait…

 .357 VIGILANTE #2: MAKE THEM PAY sold 39 copies last month and now, with the new title and cover, it has already topped that by selling 43 copies. But wait…

.357 VIGILANTE #3: WHITE WASH sold 23 copies last month. So far this month, with the new title and cover, it has sold 27 copies.  But wait…

.357 VIGILANTE #4: KILLSTORM sold 14 copies last month. But with the new title and cover, it has sold 48 copies. That's right, the sales have more than tripled and the month isn't over yet. But wait, it gets even better

.357 VIGILANTE: DIE MR. JURY sold 20 copies last month and now, with the new title and cover, it has sold 47 copies…the sales have more than doubled and the month isn't over yet. What's really surprising about this bump is that the book is priced at $4.99, making it the most expensive of my previously published/out-of-print titles on the Kindle. They aren't buying it because it's cheaper than everything else out there…I believe they are doing it because they think they are getting a great deal, four books for the price of one, a point Joe hammered home on the new cover far more effectively (and clearly) than I did on the old ones.

Based on these results, I quickly reworked the covers of MY GUN HAS BULLETS, THREE WAYS TO DIE and BEYOND THE BEYOND (retitling it DEAD SPACE) to take advantage of what I learned from the bet and from Joe's example.

What did I learn?

1. Your covers should have a clear, simple, striking image that will still pop out when the cover is reduced to the size of a postage stamp.

2. Your covers need to have a consistent, branded look.

3. Don't be afraid to experiment, to rethink everything about how your book is presented: the title, the cover art, the categories its listed under, the way you describe it, the way you've priced it. Just because your book has been posted, that doesn't mean it's been carved in stone and can't be altered. You need to adapt to find your audience. In other words, you can't just post your book on the Kindle and leave it. Your book will continue to need attention and, if necessary, updating to stoke sales.