IMG_0218 The talk of the Romantic Times conference, at least among the published authors, was the e-volution of publishing. I was fortunate enough to spend time with two authors at the forefront of it all…Barry Eisler and Boyd Morrison.

Barry and I got together for breakfast and, while I can't go into details of what we discussed, he has some very innovative, creative, and ambitious plans for  self-publishing his books. He's definitely given his controversial decision to walk away from a $500,000 book deal, and how best to capitalize on the ebook/self-publishing market, a lot of careful thought and there's no question in my mind that he will be successful. 

It occurred to me that one major advantage that all of us who were published before have going for us as we enter the self-publishing world…which the newbies flooding the Amazon, Smashwords, etc. do not… is a network of other published, successful authors we can reach out to for blurbs, advice, cross-promotion, recommendations, etc. Those relationships, and that wealth of shared experience, will give us a considerable edge in the marketplace and a way to rise above the tsunami of swill for a while to come.

After our breakfast, I headed to the RT booksigning event…which was,without a doubt, unlike any booksigning I've ever attended in my career. There were hundreds of authors and thousands of fans. It was amazing. IMG_0222

I was sandwhiched between a woman who wrote "man on man erotica" and Colleen Gleason (aka Joss Ware). Colleen and I passed the three hours, between signing scores of our books, talking about — what else? — ebooks and self-publishing.  She's concerned, like many other authors I talked to, about this race to the bottom, in which authors are pricing their books at 99 cents in a desperate effort to sell books or crack the top 500 rankings.

After the big signing, I got together with Brett Battles, Robert Gregory Browne, and Boyd Morrison for a late lunch…which went so long, it almost became an early dinner. We had a great time talking shop and just about every aspect of the ebook/self-publishing/"traditional" publishing biz.

Boyd, you may recall, was the first Kindle sensation…and quickly got snapped up by a big six publisher with a rich, multi-book contract. He's now published in print world-wide. His take on the Amanda Hocking deal, from his uniquely informed perspective, was very interesting (without going into details, essentially he thinks it's a no-lose situation for her, even in the unlikely event that her books under the deal fail).  I came away from that long, liesurely lunch with a lot to think about.

I had a great time at the RT conference…it certainly exceeded my expectations. But the best part for me wasn't any of the programming…it was talking shop with my fellow authors. 

(Pictured: One corner of the vast signing hall as it was beginning to fill up. And Joanna Bourne, Stephanie Bond, and Rhys Bowen)

Lies That Reveal Your Publisher Is a Fraud

You'd thnk the ebook revolution would have killed off the vanity press hucksters…but it hasn't yet. But until that day comes,  Writer Beware has created for writers a handy list of lies that scammers tell to trick the unwary, the desperate and the gullible into thinking that you're deading with a real publisher.

If  the publisher you are considering getting into business with is telling one of these whoppers, you know you're in trouble. Here are a couple of examples:

We aren't a vanity publisher because we also offer non-fee contracts. Okay. But you only have their word for that, right? And even if it's true, YOU are getting a fee-based contract. Think about that double standard–what does it say about the way the publisher views you and your work?

We aren't a vanity publisher because your fee covers only part of the cost–we provide the rest. Again, you only have their word for that. It's highly likely that this claim is being made not because it's true, but to make you feel better about surrendering large sums of money. In most cases, where publishing fees are due, they cover not just the full cost of production and publication, but the publisher's overhead and profit as well.

We aren't a vanity publisher because we refund your money if you sell a certain number of books. Once again, this is a sales ploy, designed to make you feel better about paying a fee. It's likely that the sales threshold is set so high that authors will rarely, if ever, achieve it–especially given the very limited distribution and marketing that most fee-based publishers provide (since the bulk of most fee-based publishers' income comes from authors' fees, they have little incentive to cut into their profit with effective marketing and distribution–although some will provide more if you pay extra).

Another thing to wonder about: if by some amazing chance you do manage to reach the sales threshold, will your publisher make good on its refund pledge? Some fee-based publishers will. Others are just plain lying.

A Day of Romance

Mystery_mixer I spent the day at the Romantic Times conference in Los Angeles, starting with the Mystery Chix and Private Dix breakfast. Before the breakfast, a bunch of us authors got together for an hour or so and had a private, round-table chat about the fast-moving changes in the business and the rise of ebooks. That conversation — with Rhys Bowen, Doug Lyle, Brett Battles, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Lori Armstrong, Robert Gregory Browne, Dianne Emlley, and Doug Lyle —  was worth the trip by itself.

To kick-off the breakfast, attended by a couple hundred romance & mystery readers, I interviewed Bill Link, co-creator of COLUMBO, and then joined my fellow authors in a raffle of our books.

My next gig was a panel on the business of Hollywood with author Stephanie Bond and development exec whose name escapes me (is this a sign of creeping senility?). He was a very nice guy, but he said something I strongly disagreed with. A woman asked the panel what the best way was to present her novel to a  development exec for consideration as a movie or TV series.

"Make a book trailer," he said, adding that was the only way to really grab the attention of his bosses and convey the feeling of the book. 1000000177

He was a very nice guy… but God, what incredibly bad advice. What the development guy was basically saying was that his boss had the attention span of a 2 year-old, or was illiterate, or was just plain lazy. If the execs at his company can't be bothered to read a punchy paragraph or two, fuck them. You don't want to be in business with people who don't know how to read.

On a more practical note, the only book trailer most authors are capable of producing is going to be a bunch of stock photos, some stock music, and some simple text, all badly edited together into a dull mish-mash. How is that going to put the best spin on your book?  Besides, you're authors, not film-makers. Your job is to write a great book and maybe a good summary your agent can use to sell it to Hollywood. If the boss can't envision the movie from the book or summary without an amatuer trailer, the dimwit has no imagination…another reason not to be in business with them.

But it was a lively, fun panel and, outside of that one comment, which I kept making fun of, the development guy gave a lot of really good advice.

I grabbed a quick lunch with my buddy Ken Levine, who was meeting two of his fans, authors Beth Ciotta and Mary Stella, then went off to lead a two-hour seminar on TV writing, which was a lot of fun. Afterwards, I had a long talk with Barry Eisler about the epub biz, which we'll continue over breakfast on Saturday.

All in all, a very busy, and very enjoyable. day.

(Pictured: the mystery chix gang — Rhys Bowen, Lori Armstrong, me, Brett Battles, Allison Brennan, DP Lyle and Robert Gregory Browne and, in the second photo, me and Ken Levine)

Giddy-up to Rancho Diablo

Rancho Diabloe Dead Man's Revenge 2 copyNovelists Mel Odom, James Reasoner and Bill Crider, under the pen name "Colby Jackson," have teamed up on RANCHO DIABLO, an original series of western ebooks. The third book in the series, DEAD MAN'S REVENGE, is now live on Amazon…and a steal at $2.99.

The three authors are experienced western writers and lovers of the genre…one that's seeing hard times in print but is ripe for revitalization on the Kindle. 

They're trying to do for traditional westerns what I'm trying to do… with their help, in fact…. for the men's action-adventure series with THE DEAD MAN.

And if anyone can do it, they can. Don't miss RANCHO DIABLO #1 SHOOTERS CROSS or RANCHO DIABLO #2: HANGMAN'S ROPE

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.

Have you met THE DEAD MAN?

TheDeadMan_CreateSpaceFINAL_lrg Now's your chance to meet the DEAD MANfor just 99 cents.

That's right, for a limited time, we're practically giving away THE DEAD MAN: FACE OF EVIL, the first book in the series, so you'll be ready for DEAD MAN #2: RING OF KNIVES…and the books that will be coming every month…from writers like Joel Goldman, Harry Shannon, James Reasoner, Mark Ellis (aka James Axler), Bill Crider, and many more!

So don't wait…the price won't be staying this low for very long.

The Future of the Serial Novel is DEAD

We got a terrific review today from Post-Modern Pulps for James Daniels' DEAD MAN #2: RING OF KNIVES. They say, in part:

Now that the origin story in issue #1, Face of Evil is out of the way, Ring of Knives gives us a glimpse into what this series could really look like, and the prospects are fantastic. This is a creepy, violent, action-packed tale of suspense and supernatural horror. This isn't just weird, it's a glimpse into a dark, bizarre, and twisted world, one that the average person is completely unaware of…until the screaming begins.[…]After having read the first two installments of DEAD MAN, I feel I can say with some confidence that this is the future of serial adventure fiction[…] I see the DEAD MAN series having a long and successful publication run, the pioneer for what is sure to be many more serials to come. 

We certainly hope they're right!  

Scribe Award Nominees & Grandmaster Announced

N327137 The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers is proud to announce the 2011 Scribe Award nominees for excellence in licensed tie-in writing —  novels based on TV shows, movies, and games – and this year’s Grandmaster, honoring  career achievement in the field.

This year’s Grandmaster is Peter David, who has worked in television, film, books (fiction, non-fiction and audio), short stories, and comic books. He’s the acclaimed author of over fifty novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers. His extraordinarily prolific output of consistently excellent books includes two dozen original Star Trek novels, three Babylon 5 novels and novelizations of such major motion pictures as SpidermanIron Man, Fantastic Four, and The Hulk

David is also one of the most successful and acclaimed comic book scripters in the business with popular runs on such titles as SupergirlStar TrekWolverine and, in particular, his work on The Incredible Hulk franchise (in comics as well as books). His many awards include the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Award. He lives in New York with his wife Kathleen and their three children.

Our 2011 Scribe Nominees are:



BURN NOTICE: The Giveaway by Tod Goldberg

MIKE HAMMER: THE BIG BANG by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane

MURDER SHE WROTE:  The Queen’s Jewels by Donald Bain

PSYCH: The Call of the Mild by William Rabkin



GUILD WARS: GHOSTS OF ASCALON by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb 







GOD OF WAR by Matthew Stover & Robert E. Vardeman

THE WOLFMAN by Jonathan Maberry





The Fifth Annual Scribe Awards will be given at a ceremony and panel discussion held during Comic Con International in San Diego in July 2011. Details will be announced soon.