Thursday, August 18, 2011


Shared by ITW Debut Author :: Grace Greene
First, a disclaimer:  I'm a big fan of ITW and the Debut Author Program and definitely benefitted from it.
Second, a helpful hint: Never underestimate the value of a friend or the help of kind people.
Third, some good advice: Learn what you can where you can - AKA - avail yourself of opportunities.

My debut release is Beach Rental. It came out in July. Every new author will tell you they need help figuring out how to navigate the release world.  Certainly, I did, and ITW offered me some concrete options from which to choose:  The Thrill Begins Blog, The ITW Debut Authors Mentor Forum, an interview or feature story, Roundtable Discussions, Book Giveaways, and monthly communicationsthe BIG THRILL Webzine, the ITW Bulletin with Promo Ops, and the ITW Members Bulletin with News and Updates.

Thanks, ITW.

My friend and critique partner, Nancy Naigle (author of Sweet Tea and Secrets, and co-author of InkBLOT) also had her book debut in 2011 and she introduced me to the ITW Debut Authors Program. I joined, but mixed some things up (as usual) and the wonderful Al Leverone (debut author membership coordinator and debut author of Final Vector ) got my membership all straightened out and Carla Buckley (debut author of The Things That Keep Us Here) got me added to the discussion forum and Lynn Sheene (debut author of The Last Time I Saw Paris) got me on the Mentors Forum. Others helped me, tooso many helping hands that I'm sure I've missed some. These volunteers are authors and they give their time in a world where no one has any extra.

I tried to keep up with tasks related to the release of Beach Rental, but I was busy with editing, blogging and so on and quickly feeling buried by the demands of writing and marketing. Nancy gave me the kick in the britches when, overwhelmed, I almost didn't follow up with ITW about the author interview.

Thanks, Nancy.

For the ITW Debut interview, Janice Bashman (managing editor of The Big Thrill and co-author of Wanted Undead or Alive) offered me the choice of an actual interview or an interview crafted from the information I'd already submitted on the book submission form about me and my book.  How easy was that? In the midst of trying to juggle all of the elements, I opted for the second choiceand it was wonderful!

Here's the link to my interview. Check it out. Isn't it wonderful?

Educational and marketing opportunities–and another interesting benefit of my membership in ITW and participation in the Debut Author Program, is that a large percentage of the visitors to my author website come there from the ITW website. Take it from me, an often overwhelmed debut author, ITW and the Debut Authors ProgramI've already received a lot and I'm still learning and benefitting. Thank you, ITW and the Debut Authors Program, and all of the splendid people who've  made my journey a little easier.

     About the Author:
Grace Greene writes fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration, always with a strong heroine at its heart. Vivid settings and quirky secondary characters round out the stories and there’s a happily-ever-after-ending—most of the time. Grace is also an artist and photographer. She is drawn to houses and landscapes that ooze character and is fascinated by history and human nature. When she’s writing, all of these interests show up on the page.

Beach Rental is her debut release. Her next novel, Kincaid's Hope, is scheduled for release in January 2012. In Kincaid's Hope, Beth Kincaid finds that swearing off the Kincaid temper and creating the perfect life free from untidy emotionalism has its own dangers and can even get you killed.

A Virginia native, Grace lives in central Virginia. Stay current with Grace’s releases and appearances at

Beach Rental Blurb:
On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle…

Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.

Until Ben dies and the stakes change.

Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can We Have a Moment, by Steve Piacente & Jenny Milchman

The Help has struck a fat, juicy, chord.

Kathryn Stockett seems accustomed to the idea, but points out that her novel was rejected 60 times by agents before she found one and was awarded a contract by publisher Amy Einhorn. Let’s go back, because the ignition sequence – that period that launches authors from inspired writing into creative marketing – is a witch’s brew of luck, timing, self-promotion, and several more mystery ingredients.

Today’s consumers have a limited amount of intellectual capital to expend each day. Most goes toward the essentials – things like the kids, the jobs, and the bills. Then there’s a small percentage left for leisure; think of it as discretionary intellectual capital.

This is when consumers may be open to suggestions about a good new book. Of course you’re also competing with movies, yoga, restaurants, and, jeez, other good books. How do you fight your way in when the competition already has the door blocked?

The challenge is not much different for self-published authors and those who land deals with a major house, like Jenny Milchman did. Jenny toiled for 11 years before selling her novel, Cover of Snow, to Ballantine.

When it arrives in stores in 2013 – despite the fine crafstmanship that defines the work – the odds are that it will not resonate like “The Help.” So how do you change the odds? (--Steve)

Can We Have an Hour?

Not an hour to present our books—our readers’ eyes would have long glazed over by then, of course.

But I use the word “hour” intentionally to suggest that what an author needs to do in terms of marketing requires lengthy hard work and what I think of as investment building. It takes hours—but most of these come in before you ask the reader for that one minute of his time.

“Permission marketing” is a whole different animal from cold calling. If someone comes to your door with vacuums for sale, that’s a cold call. If your mom’s best friend—who keeps the cleanest house in town—calls up to say she loves her Electrolux but is moving and would like to offer it to you at a good price, that’s permission marketing. You know this woman. And moreover, you trust her level of expertise and knowledge about her product. Just look at her rugs.

(Thank you, Seth Godin, for the concept of permission marketing).

If we translate this to the world of publishing, then a cold call is the 300th Facebook announcement you get from someone you’ve never heard of announcing that his book is number 1,700 on the Amazon bestseller list of mysteries that feature a monkey sleuth.

While permission marketing would be when Steve Piacente, whom I know to be an intrepid explorer in the independent publishing landscape, suggests that I might like to read the book that started it all.

How do you get to permission status? How did Steve ensure that I knew his name so that he wouldn’t just be thumping on my door while I was trying to prepare dinner?

He blogged. He offered substantive content about what he’d learned, some of which might be of use to me and others. He commented on others’ blog posts so that I started seeing his name around, and realized that he had things of value to say. He put himself out there so that by the time he was marketing anything, I was already halfway to yes.

Does this change for an independent author versus someone like Kathryn Stockett, who had the whole Penguin publishing machine behind her debut? I’d say yes and no.

Kathryn was put on people’s radar by Penguin while the indie author has to put him or herself on the radar through efforts like Steve undertook. But once there, the author has to have something of substance to offer no matter what. Tips for creating a book cover or trailer. Reflections on whether big expenditures like Book EXPO really matter.

And of course, a great book.

One that, when they come calling, we already want to buy. (--Jenny)

Steve and Jenny would like to know what you think. If two well-written, engaging novels are released at the same time, what factors will make one succeed and the other fail?

* * *

Steve Piacente has been a professional writer since graduating from American University in 1976. In 2010, he self-published Bella ( Steve started as a sportswriter at the Naples Daily News, switched to news at the Lakeland Ledger, and returned to D.C. in 1985 as Correspondent for the Tampa Tribune. In 1989, the native New Yorker moved to the Charleston Post & Courier. He is now deputy communications director at a federal agency in Washington, D.C., and teaches journalism classes at American University.

Jenny Milchman recently received an offer on her debut novel of literary suspense, after eleven years of trying to break in. COVER OF SNOW will be published by Ballantine in early 2013. Jenny teaches for New York Writers Workshop, and co-hosts the series, Writing Matters. Last year she founded Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, a holiday that enlisted over 80 booksellers in thirty states, Canada, and England. This year the Day spread to Australia. She features international bestsellers, Edgar award winners, and independent authors in the Made It Moments forum on her blog. Her short fiction can be found in an e published volume called Lunch Reads and in the forthcoming anthology, ADIRONDACK MYSTERIES II. Please visit Jenny at

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Debut Thrillers!

A great big warm CONGRATS to this month's debut authors!!!

Michelle Diener

UNDER FIRE (Carina Press/Harlequin)