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The author at a small, history oriented festival that turned out to be successful for his bookselling efforts.

I’ve been increasing the number of book festivals and other festivals that I’ve been attending to do book signings. Some are very successful for me. Some I just barely break even at, and others, are complete flops.

The flops can be soul crushing, but I have come to realize something as I’ve increased my appearances. The number of pages views of my books and online sales increase after a festival, even a festival that’s been a failure. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll go back to the flop festivals. However, it does make attending the break even festivals more attractive to continue attending.

Another benefit that I’ve found in attending these festivals is that I get leads and offers for speaking engagements. These speaking engagements are always successful. Even if I don’t get paid a stipend for speaking, I sell my books afterwards.

A third benefit to these festivals is that I sometimes get leads for future story ideas.

On the flip side, festivals take up a lot of time and cost money to attend. This summer, I have a festival every other weekend, on average. The costs definitely add up as I do more festivals.

Overall, I think writers should definitely be putting themselves out there in the public and doing book signings at festivals where your potential readers attend. Just remember that sometimes the best festivals aren’t book festivals. You may find a craft or street fair that draws in a lot of people who like your books.

Logans FireThe other day I got an e-mail from a woman whose granddaughter had just finished reading my first novel, Logan’s Fire. It was a YA novel published in 1996 so it’s 18 years old. The book has been out of print for at least 10 years. It was nice to be reminded that copies of the book are still out there in libraries, on eBay and on Amazon.com.

The fact that the grandmother said her granddaughter loved the book and wanted to read more let me know that the story of a young man dealing with the consequences of setting a poor example for his younger sister still holds up and can interest a new generation of teens.

What makes me sad is that I always wanted to turn the book into a series featuring the three men who help the young teens. It would have been along the lines of the old “Highway to Heaven” television series with a teen focus and differing time periods.

I tried. I really tried. I wrote about half a dozen follow-up novels. I agreed to keep the series focused on the present day. However, I couldn’t get it past a committee that needed to be in unanimous agreement on a new book. It really irked me when only one person on the committee said “no” for a lame reason.

So the series fizzled and I moved onto other genres. However, in today’s world of small presses and self-publishing, I’ve been thinking about doing the series myself. Heck, I’ve already got six books that just need re-editing and updating. I should even be able to reclaim the rights to my first book since it has gone out of print.

That series may still see the light of day yet and go on to entertain a different generation of teens.

Here’s the original guest blog for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Have you ever done a blog tour?

I decided to hire someone to help me set up a blog tour and I’m nervously awaiting the start of it not knowing what to expect. However, although I maintain a blog, I have very little clue for how to set up a tour. It seemed like a lot of ground work would need to be done and, quite frankly, with my crazy schedule, I was willing to hire someone to do it for me. Plus, I figure it will get me exposure with some new blogs.

I actually was surprised at the different types of tours available. You can get tours that focus reviews, interviews, excerpts, giveaways and articles. I selected one that is a mix so I can get my feet wet with everything.

I’m curious if any other writers have done a blog tour. How long did it last? Was it useful? What did it involve? This is all new to me so let me know your experiences.

Originally posted on Elodie Nowodazkij:

This is a bit self serving :-) but people have asked how they could help me and I thought instead of answering privately, I’ll do a post to also possibly help other authors out there. This is only what I learned so far…feel free to add more in the comments :-) I will then add them to the list to keep a list as updated as possible…

Dahlia shared some of her wisdom the other day on Twitter.

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61YCasIvf9LI may catch some flak for this, but I didn’t really like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I just finished the book and found myself wondering why I had wanted to read it. Before I started reading the book, I didn’t know much about it. I knew it was very popular, had a great title, and had been made into a movie. I had the impression that it was a true crime story.

Now, first off, let me say what I liked. I though John Berendt’s writing was great. I loved his description and I loved the picture he painted of the many characters in the story. In that regard, I hope some of his writing talent rubs off on me.

However, as a true crime novel or mystery, I think the book fails. The crime in the story didn’t happen until well into the story. There was no mystery to who committed the crime. The question was whether it was self-defense or not. Once the book moved into this phase, I found the most-interesting part the fact that there were three trials.

I just seemed to think that such wonderfully drawn characters deserved a better story than a simply murder trial. It would be like having Scarlett and Rhett without the Civil War. Though Gone With the Wind was character driven, the war setting brought revealed aspects of the characters that might not have been revealed otherwise. Other than Jim Williams’ reaction to his trial, I didn’t think that the trial revealed anything new about the characters.

I know a lot of people loved the book, though. So if I am missing something, please let me know how you see the book.

Lock Ready Cover ShotHere’s the cover art for my new historical novel that coming out next month. Lock Ready is my first historical novel in seven years. It’s also been 10 years since I wrote my last Canawlers novel.

Lock Ready once again return to the Civil War and the Fitzgerald Family. The war has split them up. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md.

Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband.

 

Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.

 

I’ve had fun writing about the Fitzgeralds over the years, but at this point, I see this as my last Canawlers novel. I do have an idea for a non-fiction C&O Canal book, but it will still be years before it comes out. Until then, I hope you enjoy my three Canawlers novels and one novella. The best order to read them in is: Canawlers, Between Rail and River, Lock Ready and The Race.

Lies-of-Locke-LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora is fantasy’s version of The Sting. It has a title that stuck in my mind once I heard it. Every time that I saw it, I couldn’t help but start hearing the song “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow in my head.

It’s an interesting look at the life and career of a young man named Locke Lamora. He is an orphan that the Thiefmaker sells to a supposedly eyeless priest but an actuality is a con artist. The priest trains Lamora as a con artist and thief. Lamora takes to the profession and eventually comes to lead the Gentlemen Bastards, a small group of thieves and con artists like himself who prowl the land Camorr.

It took a little bit to get into the story, but once I did, I became fascinated by the con that Lamora was trying to pull off among Camorr’s nobility. I enjoyed his character and was willing to follow him through the story. He has to deal with rival gangs and Camorr’s secret police, but the main opponent is a mysterious character called the Gray King.

The Gray King has come to overthrow the current leadership of Camorr’s underworld and he does so in a brutal fashion. Then he sets out to do much the same with the nobility. However, he makes the mistake of crossing Lamora in a deadly fashion and forcing Lamora to take on a man that he himself fears.

I was delighted to stumble across Scott Lynch. He is one of a new set of fantasy writers who I’ve discovered in recent months and really enjoyed. The other two are Brent Weeks and Brian McClellan.

The Lies of Locke Lamora moves quickly and smoothly. The main characters are interesting. Even the ones you don’t like, you can understand why they are the way they are. The plots has plenty of interesting twists as you would expect in a story that centers around a con. I will be curious to see where Lynch takes the next book in the series.

 

My first Goodreads drawing for autographed copies of The Rain Man has ended. Congratulations to the 10 winners randomly by Goodreads from the 1,751 people who entered. I have to say that it was easy enough to do. Goodreads sent me the list of the winners once the giveaway ended. I’ll be sending out the copies tomorrow. The second stage is that, hopefully, these winners will read the book and post reviews on websites and blogs.

For anyone interested, I have another giveaway going on for my newest book, Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg’s Rich History. There is still time to enter. The giveaway ends on Wednesday. Just follow this link and enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Beyond the Battlefield by James Rada Jr.

Beyond the Battlefield

by James Rada Jr.

Giveaway ends April 16, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

jimrada:

An interesting blog. I always worry when I quote someone in my books that I might be taking the quote out of context. However, in the example used in this blog of Reagan quoting Burke, I don’t necessarily think a quote needs to be applied to the same situation. A single quote can be appropriate in multiple situation. I do believe that the original context should be noted if the quote is being used in a different way.

Originally posted on Millard Fillmore's Bathtub:

Commenter SBH put me on to this interesting set of principles from a mathematician, on bogus quotes, and how to determine that they are bogus, and most important, how to avoid creating a bogus quote by stripping context or altering the text.

‘After all, a study I once read said something like 86% of all statistics cited in speeches are made up on the spot.’*

I looked up Martin Porter.  What are his principles of quotations?  Who is he, and why should we listen to him?

Mathematician Martin Porter, in the 21st century.

Mathematician Martin Porter, in the 21st century. Self portrait.

Turns out he’s a mathematician who works in algorithms to study language, and a founder of Grapeshot.  Along the way, he grew intrigued with trying to source a very famous quotation attributed to Edmund Burke (confess, you don’t really know enough about Burke to describe who he was, or why that quote might not be…

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When I started out freelancing full-time, I sought out as many different clients and magazines as I could. I wanted to get the assignment. I wasn’t so focused on getting repeat business. Looking back, I probably should have done more to build stronger relationships with those editors and businesspeople to get repeat business as well.

It’s hard to go for both breath, which I define as the lots of assignments from different publications and businesses, and depth, which I define as multiple assignments with the same business or publication.

The advantage of going for breadth is that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If one magazine ends publication, it won’t cripple your income. The disadvantage is that you are going to have to do a lot more marketing. If you’re like me, you didn’t become a freelance writer to have to market yourself all the time.

The advantage of going for depth is that you create a semi-steady stream of income and , if you’re lucky, the client will come to you with assignments. The disadvantage is that it will hurt financially if the client stops using your services for any reason.

Over the years, I did manage to create depth with some magazines and businesses, but when I look over my list of clients and publications, I see more that I should have been building a relationship with. Now that I have a list of over 110 publications that I’ve had articles in, I try and build more repeat business with my favorites or the ones that pay more. This still allows me to add a few new titles to the master list.

My recommendation for freelancers starting out is to apply the 80/20 rule with 80 percent of your effort being new clients and 20 percent being repeat. Then begin shifting it by about 10 percent each year until in your seventh year of business 80 percent of your work is repeat business.

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