Saturday, June 22, 2013

Best Selling Author Trice Hickman Drops by to Chat

A year or so ago I attended a conference-call seminar on self-publishing. The rejections I recieved from agents had convinced me that my book would never be published if I didn't change my tactics. So when I ran across the seminar, I jumped at it. Trice Hickman was the host, and an impresive host at that. Trice is the author of four best sellers, and she did it without using a traditional publisher. So if you're frustrated at the lack of attenntion your novel is stirring up, read on ... see how she did it.

My Publishing Journey: Navigating the Ups and Downs

I will never forget the day I started writing my first novel. I’d been plagued by writer’s block for years, but one sunny Wednesday morning in March 2004, I had a breakthrough! I sat at my computer and watched in amazement as words flowed like sweet water from my fingertips to the keyboard, filling up page after page with thoughts, emotions, and characters that had been living inside my head. I was so excited! I wrote every single day, and four months later my debut novel, Unexpected Interruptions, was complete! The feeling of accomplishment was euphoric! But very quickly the next step was in front of me—how to get my work published?

I had always thought that writing a book was the hard part…little did I know that the hardest part was yet to come—publishing it, and harder still, selling it.

I began researching how to get my book published. I studied the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, and came to the conclusion that the traditional route was the way for me. So again, I did my research. I gathered the names of every literary agent, editor, and publisher whom I thought might be interested in my work, and I reached out to them. I waited with excitement for the offers to start pouring in. Well, letters started pouring in, but to my dismay, they weren’t offers to publish my manuscript. They were rejection letters.

Let me tell you, rejection really hurts!

“Did they really read my story?” I had wondered. “If they did, how could they have possibly turned me down?” That was the question I asked myself over and over, month after month as new rejection letters flooded into both my mailbox and inbox. Some were standard form letters with a generic let down, but some were personalized, stating hurtful words that temporarily halted my dream.

There’s a saying, “You haven’t loved until you’ve had your heart broken.” Well, you’re not a writer until you get your first rejection letter (or your first bad review, but that’s a discussion for another time). I basked in the grayness of a short-lived pity party, then I bounced back into action because I knew I had a few things on my side that beat rejection every time: belief, determination, perseverance, and faith!

I had spent long days and sleepless nights creating my characters and crafting their story. I believed in them. And I believed that if I could just get my book published, despite what had been said, someone would buy it. And if someone bought it they would read it and like it. And if they liked it they’d tell a friend, and that friend would tell another friend, and voila! I’d have a winner on my hands. I was determined to see my book in print, so I realigned my mission and set my sights on self-publishing.

Again, I did my research. I scoured the Internet for information. I purchased books to learn all I could about best practices and new industry trends. I attended workshops, seminars, book festivals, and literary conferences. I reached out to other authors and industry professionals. And most importantly, I developed a plan for publishing my book, complete with time sensitive tasks that I diligently followed. I set aside money from my paycheck every month and assembled a team of professionals who could help me execute my publishing plan. Finally, after nearly three years of preparation, I resigned from my job and started my own publishing company, Platinum Books, and released Unexpected Interruptions!

Just as I’ll never forget the day I started writing my first book, I’ll never forget that chilly Tuesday afternoon in October 2007, when my books arrived at my doorstep, hot from the printer. Holding the finished product in my hand was euphoric! But again, the next step was staring me in the face—how would I sell the book?

I had done a modest print run of 2,500 copies, and through marketing and pre-promotion efforts I managed to pre-sell 1,000 books before the novel was released (NOTE: this was before e-books really took off). Next, my goal was to sell the other 1,500 books and go from there. I contacted as many people as I could who had pre-ordered directly through my website and asked for their feedback. If they enjoyed the book, I asked them to please spread the word for me. Now this is where perseverance and having a plan paid off. I hit the road on a book tour that I had organized months in advance. My corporate sponsor, GODIVA Chocolatier (the main character in my book loved GODIVA, so I approached them about sponsoring a few of my signings), provided treats at some of my events that enticed readers to come out and join me. In less than thirty days I had sold all my books and was placing an order for another print run.

Unexpected Interruptions, went on to garner praise from readers and literary reviewers across the country. It also won two literary awards and topped several bookstore bestseller lists.

Three years and two additional books later, I was approached by Kensington Publishing Corp. (Dafina Books) to purchase the publishing rights for all three of my originally self-published titles. Kensington will re-release each of my books, providing broader distribution that will allow me to reach a much larger readership. My debut novel, Unexpected Interruptions, was re-released March 29, 2011, and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! I was so excited, and the amazing thing was that Kensington did not change my story; even the cover art remained the same. Yes, the same book that everyone had turned down now received a nod from an industry giant. The faith I had in my work led me down a bumpy road that turned into a wonderful journey; one in which I wouldn’t change a thing!

Tips for Aspiring Writers
1. Read—Reading is critical to the writing process. It broadens the mind and expands your creativity. I don’t know any good writers who aren’t avid readers.
2. Study the craft—Writing is an art form. Study it. Practice it. Take classes.
3. Write every day—There are times when this won’t be possible, but if you endeavor to write something every day (it could be a sentence, a paragraph, or a couple of pages) you will complete your book before you know it. You will also become a better writer because you will improve with practice.
4. Tell a good story—Develop your characters and craft your storyline so that readers will be interested in what you have to say. Make sure that your beginning, middle, and end flow into one seamless, page-turning tale!

Publishing Tips:
Whether you decide to self-publish or go the traditional route, here are some helpful tips.

  1. Research, research, research. I can’t stress how important it is to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Don’t rely on other authors to hold your hand through the process or tell you what to do to get your book published. Every writer’s journey is different, so chart a path that works for you.
  2. Network, network, network. Attend book conferences and literary events. These venues are great opportunities to meet readers, authors, and industry professionals who can prove to be valuable assets as you build your career.
  3. Develop a plan and execute it. Be sure to include a realistic time line and budget to support a successful book campaign (again, do this whether you are traditionally or self-published).
  4.  Know your target audience. If you think your book is for everyone, you’re wrong! Dead wrong! Define your primary audience, i.e.; age, profession, gender, socio-economic demographic, interests, etc.
  5. Once you have defined your target audience, determine their book buying habits and make sure your book is available to them in the format they desire. Do your readers purchase books at book festivals, conferences, or other literary events? Do they buy in stores, on-line, or through e-reading devices?

To learn more about Trice and her books, please visit her website at If you’re interested in taking your first step toward becoming a published author, please contact Trice for a one-on-one coaching session by clicking on the Writer’s Corner page on her site.

You can also connect with Trice at:

Pretty cool, huh? So drop by Trice's web site and say hi.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Passing of Vince Flynn - 47

Today, as I learn of the passing of Vince Flynn, I mourn. Vince Flynn has been, and always shall be, an inspiration to me. His accomplishments served to motivate and encourage me. And even though I never met him, I will miss him.
Mr. Flynn rolled the dice and started writing full time after quitting his job with United Properties, a commercial real estate company, and took a bartending gig so he could write during the day. After sixty-some rejections, he self-publish the book in 1997.

His novel—Term Limits—became a best seller in the Twin Cities. After that, the agents were beating his door down.
Who better to inspire new writers?
I can think of no one.

If you’re not a VinceFlynn fan, do something nice for yourself.
Become one. 

Rest In Peace, Mr. Flynn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Dog is a Writer’s Best Friend

This past Sunday, Maggie and I attended the Irish Festival in Annapolis. With her being Irish, she makes me go to these things. We took Murphy the Chocolate Lab, and Bond—James Bond—the Catahoula Leopard/Australian Shepard mix. The festival wasn’t very big, just two blocks long, and we covered it in about an hour. Having the better part of the day in front of us, we decided that since we were in Historic Annapolis anyway, we’d head down to the harbor, get an ice cream, and just hang out for a while.
We picked a spot on the harbor bulkhead to watch boats and ducks, and as it turned out, the dogs were a big hit. Bond is a little iffy when it comes to strangers sometimes, and we were a little worried about him, but he was OK, if a bit shy. Murphy, on the other hand … well, he’s a Lab. Friendly and eager to please. Now Murph is an American Labrador. That’s to say he’s big, bigger than his English counterpart; 115 pounds of solid muscle, and his head comes to my hip. I’m six feet tall and don’t have to bend over to pet him.  
As we sat on the bulkhead, a favorite spot for anyone touring the docks, kids and adults alike came up to pet him, which led to questions about him and other chit-chat on dogs, the weather, and life in general. We made a lot of new friends, and in a flash of inspiration, Maggie said to me, “Why didn’t you pitch your book?”
That was a good question, and the thought had crossed my mind, but I just didn’t want to. Everyone was so relaxed and open and enjoying petting the dogs and talking about stuff and enjoying their day, I didn’t want to impose on that. 

Now I have no problem talking to people on just about any subject, and I find it easy to steer a conversation where I want it to go, but it occurred to me that having Murphy with me made it that much easier. People are dog lovers for the most part. If you have a well-behaved dog with you, people will seek you out—if not the adults, then the kids, and the kids bring their adults with them. We met a lot of people we otherwise would not have met because of Murphy.
Just as we were about to go, Maggie said, “You need a t-shirt that says, ‘Ask me about my new novel.’ ”
Ding! The light went on!
Too bad it wasn’t my  idea, but Maggie has always been the better part of me when it comes to such things. You should see the business card she designed. Killer! Anyway, that’s what I’m going to do. Well, that’s what Maggie’s going to do; have two shirts made, one for me and one for her. I guess hers will say—“I’m with Stupid" with an arrow pointing toward me or something like that.
I figure between a brainstorming wife, a shirt that piques one's curiosity, and a dog named Murphy, things should go just fine.
Oh … the lesson of the day? If you have a dog, use him, If you don’t, acquire one; preferably from a shelter. They make great pets.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And The Winner Is....

I know everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats for the Chain of Evidence contest winner announcement, so here it is.

Lee Curtis!

Lee found all seven differences between the two covers, and one we didn’t see.

Well Done Lee!

Intrigue will be in touch.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

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