Selling Your Books (Indie)


Are you an author/publisher? I am. I’ve written and published four novels, three of them in a trilogy. And while online sales have been steady, I’ve wanted to get my printed books into bookstores, especially indie bookstores. After all, we’re both independent, shouldn’t we work together?

Ah, but it’s not that easy. Bookstores are wary (perhaps rightfully so) to take on self-published books, for different reasons. Perhaps they once featured a local author prominently, whose books turned out to be poorly written and unedited. Not good. Perhaps they dislike Amazon so much that they’re unwilling to take on any writer who sells exclusively through Amazon. I think that was the case for me with one indie bookseller. But it’s too bad, because I love indie bookstores! And I write good books. And I have a pretty good network of readers, contacts, friends, and colleagues who could help draw business to that bookstore. But it does no good to whine about it.

Instead, I’m….(hold on, I hate this expression but I’m going to use it anyway)….thinking outside the box. If the bookstores don’t want you, where else would your books be noticed? For me right now, it’s at Jennifer’s Chocolates, a fabulous shop in the Wakefield Mall in beautiful Wakefield, Rhode Island. Making artisanal chocolates for over 15 years, Jennifer’s Chocolates infuses both flavor and technique into every bite. All of their chocolates are handcrafted in small batches using blends of the highest quality imported and domestic chocolate.

at Jennifer's Chocolates
at Jennifer’s Chocolates

How great is this?! They also sell single copies of each of my three books in the series (Bits of Broken Glass didn’t seem like such a good fit). Even if you’ve already devoured the books, stop in for a sweet or two (recommending the dark chocolate peppermint bark!).

On Thursday, December 19th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, I’ll be participating in “Discover a Local Author” night at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in the lovely town of Harrisville, RI. It’s an opportunity to meet other authors and readers, and I’ll have my books available for purchase. If you’re in the area, please stop by!

Jesse M. Smith Library www.jmslibrary.org
Jesse M. Smith Library
http://www.jmslibrary.org

So, what creative ways can you think of to sell your books? How will you stand out?

What I’ve Read


Wow – not much! I track my reading progress at Goodreads, and apparently I haven’t finished many books in the past couple of months. But it’s understandable, as I published a book in late September and another last week. I have a few books open, though, and hoping to catch up in December.

Chick Lit and Cheer

So what did I read?

  • Merry & Bright, six tales of Christmas cheer by some fabulous women authors. It’s available in digital format from Amazon, for just $2.99 and is a light, easy read.
  • Merry Chick Lit is another anthology of short stories (six of them!) and is only $0.99 for the e-book. PLUS! All proceeds from the sale of this e-book go to Rocking the Road for a Cure, to help women with breast cancer. It’s a buck! Go get your copy.
  • Oxygen, by Carol Cassella, a real-life anesthesiologist. This book was, as I like to say, unputdownable. While I found the story of Dr. Marie Heaton the anesthesiologist gripping, it was the inner story of her fractured relationship with her father that really moved me.
  • Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband, by kc wilder. No, I’m not planning anything! This book was a lot more than I expected. Well-written and captivating, it
    follows Eve Wolcott on a journey of self-discovery. There’s laugh-out-loud comedy, memorable characters, and plenty of delicious sex in this book (definitely for adults). But there’s also a glimpse into Eve’s heart, and the author skillfully lays bare all of Eve’s doubts, fears, and second-guessing.

In fact, I’m joining author kc wilder tomorrow for an afternoon of “Chick Lit and Cheer” at her home in Wakefield. The house is open from 11:30 to 3:30, so stop by if you’re in the neighborhood (message me for address and directions). We’ll have nibbles and noshes (how about a block of chocolate cheddar – yep!) as well as our books, but mostly we’d love to meet you!

I’ll get back to reading in December, but first I’m going to finish beta reading a manuscript for a friend (almost done!) and another for one of my favorite authors (cannot wait!). Then it’s back to four books that I’ve started and bookmarked.

Hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends. The holiday can be a struggle for some, and I know not everyone feels merry and bright. Take a deep breath and consider what you can do to brighten someone’s day. It will undoubtedly brighten your own, too.

 

The Prolific Writer


MRBC.Amazon

pro·lif·ic

adjective \prə-ˈli-fik\

: producing a large amount of something

Apparently that defines me as an author. Since August 2012, I have published four books. Four! In sixteen months. Recently, I watched this interview Charlie Rose did with author Donna Tartt. She just released The Goldfinch, about 10 years after her last book. One book in 10 years! She says she’s tried to write faster, but doesn’t enjoy it.

I can’t even imagine taking 10 years to write a book. Then again, I wasn’t writing when I was in my 20s (or 30s, or…). When I started writing two years ago, I was already past the midpoint of my existence, and still had a lot of stories to tell. So, yes, I write fast. I slow down to edit. But this is what I do (I’m sure Ms. Tartt isn’t waiting tables on the side, but she must subsist on something other than what I imagine is a pretty good advance). This is my full-time job. So I think I’m producing what I should be producing.

Chocolate Fondue was written in November 2012 during NaNoWriMo, and edited in the months after that. Bits of Broken Glass was written from March through June of this year, and edited for three months before its publication in September. Bittersweet Chocolate, the new book, was written during Camp Nano (which is National Novel Writing Month in July) and edited this fall.

I do understand authors who take more time to write. Mostly, they have a lot of other balls to juggle: parenting, working, traveling. Life is complicated! Author Adriana Trigiani (can’t wait to meet her tomorrow!) has written 13 books, and I think her first one came out in 2001.  Author Ann Hood had her first book published 25 years ago, and has about 20 books in print. She has stated that it takes a year or two for her to complete a book, and I understand, because she travels and teaches and parents. Author James Patterson has written a ton of books (click on his name to see). He’s written 95 novels since 1976 – that’s prolific!

Chocolate for Breakfast – First Anniversary!


Light tasty breakfast, on wooden table

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. Two years ago, I ended a career in fraud investigations, and once I’d healed myself (externally and internally), I began writing the book I’d always wanted to write. At the outset, I thought a story about a young girl who spends a year abroad in Switzerland, living in a tiny attic room, and who experiences the unexpected loss of a parent, would make for a compelling book. That was my story. But it wasn’t really interesting enough. So I let it take flight, using my imagination to create the character of Bernadette and sending her on a personal coming-of-age journey. Thanks to all who have read CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST! And thank you for your positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and for the kind and encouraging messages of support during the past year.

As many of you know, I’ve written and released a sequel, CHOCOLATE FONDUE, and I’m planning to release the third and final (really, last one) book in the trilogy, BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, sometime this fall. In the meantime, I’m celebrating the first-year anniversary of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST by hosting a little party, and you’re all invited!

You can enter to win a great prize here: an Amazon gift card, a copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST in e-book form*, a signed copy of CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST*, or some Swiss chocolate! Just enter through Rafflecopter below.

*If you already own CFB and would like to read CHOCOLATE FONDUE, I’ll gladly make the switch. If you’d read both books, I’ll send you a copy of the new novel when it’s released. Your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So – I tried to get this Rafflecopter thing to work, but I don’t know if it’s going to take. So, if it doesn’t show up on this blog post, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what kind of chocolate you enjoy most. That’s it! If the Rafflecopter widget shows up, use that instead. (Hey, I’m technically-challenged and/or it doesn’t like WordPress.) If Rafflecopter doesn’t work, I’ll use random.org to choose the winners.

Write What You Don’t Know About What You Know


Today I was a guest on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog, and in case you didn’t see all the leads to it through social media, I’m reposting it here.

Welcome Martha Reynolds!

Martha Reynolds’s first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, effortlessly transports the reader to Switzerland,  and she creates a main character you just have to know more about. The story is heart-wrenching, fascinating and delicious, and I’m so excited to read the sequel, Chocolate Fondue. Martha as a person is kind, warm and funny, and I’m thrilled to have her here today. Welcome, Martha!

Write what you don’t know about what you know 
Elan Barnehama is a straight male who wrote a book (Finding Bluefield) about two lesbians in 1960s Virginia. How did he write about a situation so different from what he knew? We’ve all heard the mantra: “write what you know.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? But the story can be so much better by writing what could happen, perhaps what should happen, instead of what did happen. And it doesn’t mean you can’t use what you do know. Ann Hood’s first novel, Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, involves a teenage girl, Rebekah, who believes her tortured high-school life would be so much better if she could just get a nose job.
Readers thought Hood must have gone through the same trauma.  She didn’t, but her memory of wearing too-thick eyeglasses, and having to constantly repair them in class, evoked the same kind of feeling that Rebekah knew. For me to write about my character Bernadette’s experience of an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent decision to carry the child to term and give it up for adoption was sometimes challenging. I don’t have children, and writing about a young woman who makes the decisions Bernadette made provided opportunity for me to dig deep for emotions that would help me to write these passages.  Yes, online research is available, but it’s tapping into the inner emotion that will help you write your story.
Elan Barnehama says that all his writing is autobiographical – in that it comes from him – but it’s not biographical, because it’s not about him. Connecting with the essence of the characters’ humanity is what the reader wants, and it’s what propels me as I write about what I don’t know.

Light tasty breakfast, on wooden table
Young Bernie (Bernadette) Maguire is in for the journey of a  lifetime when her junior year abroad takes her to Fribourg, Switzerland. Ripe  for love and adventure, she is seduced by a handsome Swiss banker, but is horrified when she discovers she’s pregnant. Protected and befriended by those  who help to keep her secret for as long as possible, this moving rite-of-passage  tale will warm the heart as a young woman struggles with an all-too-familiar  dilemma. Yet after an unexpected death and the discovery of her pregnancy by a  classmate, Bernie’s life takes some unexpected turns that will take decades to  resolve.

Martha’s second novel, Chocolate Fondue, is a continuation of the story told in Chocolate for Breakfast, her award-winning début novel.

Twenty-three years ago, Bernie Maguire, a young student in Switzerland,  delivered a son. Giving him up for adoption was the right decision, she knew,  but Bernie always wondered about the boy who was now a young man.
Back in  Fribourg, Switzerland for vacation, Bernie is stunned when she sees the man she  knows is her son. Now she must decide whether to identify herself to him and  hope for a connection, or say nothing and leave the young man to live his life.  The matter is complicated by a hotel employee who discovers the truth, and who  intends to get in the way of Bernie’s plans.

Martha Reynolds ended an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and began writing full time in 2011. Martha Reynolds published her début novel, CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST, in 2012. It follows a young woman into adulthood during a year abroad in Switzerland. CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST was voted the 2012 Book of the Year in the category of Women’s Fiction by Turning the Pages Books. She and her husband live in New England, never far from the ocean.
Connect with Martha!
Read and follow the writings of Martha Follow her on Twitter @TheOtherMartha1
Buy the books in both paperback and digital versions! Amazon

Third Time’s a Charm for This Book Cover


Cover by Stanzalone Design - property of Martha Reynolds
Cover by Stanzalone Design – property of Martha Reynolds

Finally, I have a beautiful cover for my first book! StazAloneDesign made the covers for both of my books, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’d created my own cover after severing ties with the small press I’d been working with since last summer. After educating myself about self-publishing (note: educate yourself before you self-publish), I decided that I’d paid them enough money. I wanted to keep what I earned, not give it back to them. And even though I believed I had ownership rights to my original cover (after all, I’d paid for it as part of their “e-book package”), I really didn’t want that cover anymore. I wanted to start fresh. So I took a photograph of a still life I created on my dining room table – a beautiful little cup and saucer from Italy (thanks, Kevin) filled with dark coffee, a croissant, and a bar of Toblerone. Chocolate for Breakfast! I learned how to create my own cover, and, honestly, I liked it better than the one I’d had originally.

But when I decided to create print versions of my book, I found that the photo was unacceptable. Not enough dpi, whatever that means. All I knew was that I couldn’t use it, and in an effort to get the print books done, I used a CreateSpace template that was pretty horrible. Anyone who purchased one of those, I’m really sorry, and all I can ask is that you don’t judge this book by that cover.

Anyway, I went back to my pal Lyn Stanzione, who create my luscious cover for Chocolate Fondue. She made this delicious cover, and I couldn’t be happier with the two! Thanks, Lyn!

My Five Favorite Places in Switzerland


Today I’m a guest on Nan Reinhardt’s blog, and I list my five favorite places in Switzerland (it was difficult to choose just five, trust me). You can read Nan’s blog post here.

My Top Five Places to Visit in Switzerland

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

5.            Arosa – located in eastern Switzerland, Arosa is both a summer and winter resort. I traveled there with my mother in the early 90’s. We didn’t ski, but enjoyed gorgeous views from the train window for the entire train ride to Arosa, as we climbed impossibly steep mountains to an elevation of 5,800 feet. A mile high! The delight was in getting there, and the memory I made with my mom, who was in awe of the spectacular mountains. We stopped for lunch at a nearby café, and neither of us could read the menu, which was in German. I ordered pig’s liver for both of us (ugh!). Arosa has been a famous Alpine health resort since 1877, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Mann both stayed there, giving it more notoriety.

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

4.            Vevey – Vevey lies on the north shore of Lake Geneva, in the canton of Vaud, and is French-speaking. Nestlé has its world headquarters in Vevey, and milk chocolate was invented there in 1875. It’s known as one of the “pearls of the Swiss Riviera,” and boasts gorgeous views and vineyards. Its most famous inhabitant was Charlie Chaplin, and there’s a statue of him at the shore.

photo by Martha Reynolds
photo by Martha Reynolds

3.            Lugano – Lugano borders Italy, in the southern canton of Ticino, and is about as Italian as you can get while still in Switzerland. It takes a few hours to get to Lugano from Zurich, since they’re at opposite ends of the country, but once you spot the palm trees, you know you’ve arrived in a totally different place. Although the area doesn’t have the majestic mountains of other regions, you can still climb, hike, and bike. And the food! Everything is regional and exquisite.

www.myswitzerland.com
http://www.myswitzerland.com

2.            Grindelwald – hey, this is why you go to Switzerland. The three mountains – Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (translated from German to Ogre, Monk, and Maiden) each top 13,000 ft.  In May of 1987, I ventured to Grindelwald and was surprised to find that the Grindelwald-First lift was celebrating an anniversary and tickets to the summit were half-price. I couldn’t wait! Dressed for a late May day in light clothes and no socks, I quickly discovered how the climate changes. The three-stage lift was once the longest chair lift in Europe, and by stage two, I’d rolled down the canvas side flaps for protection. At the summit, it was a blizzard! (The lift came equipped with a heavy coat, so I didn’t freeze). A respite with “chocolat chaud” and a croissant had me ready to descend, back to verdant meadows and edelweiss.

photo by Martha Reynolds
photo by Martha Reynolds

1.              Lucerne – If I retire to Switzerland, I want to live in Lucerne. Smack in the center of Switzerland, Lucerne has it all. Set on Lake Lucerne, it is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including Mt. Pilatus. The old town is car-free, and the city is easy to navigate. Tradition and modernity stand side by side in Lucerne, and, of course, it has the Blue Balls Music Festival (don’t ask me, I don’t know!).