3 Points About Multi-author Indie Collaborations (RWA 2014)


Management of Multi-author Indie Collaborations

presented by Sarra Cannon and Marquita Valentine

RWA 2014 (tape 19-007)

My three take-aways from this presentation are:

One – Increase Your Visibility by Working with Other Authors

  • the biggest problem for the modern writer is visibility
  • you can increase your visibility by working with others and there are many ways to do that

Two – Boxed Sets

  • it’s better to have at least two books published before you put one in a box set with other writers
  • network to find other writers interested in a project
  • you need to agree on two things: 1 – the goal and 2 – your marketing plan
  • usually a multi-author box set is up for one to three months
  • usually sells for 99 cents
  • you need to have one person in charge who takes care of the accounting (and you may want to involve an accountant)

Three – Other Formats to Consider:

  • Co-writing – co-writing stories with another writer helps increase your output and therefore your visibility
  • Exchanges – put another author’s blurbs/excerpts at the back of your books / reviews etc.
  • Multi-author themed promotions – some authors don’t want to go the box set route because of the complex accounting, so working on a themed promotion works better for them (e.g., Christmas  – everyone publishes a novella with a Christmas theme, brand them with cover design and cross-market, do blog tours etc., author page on Amazon for the event)
  • Author Collaborative – I’ve heard this called a “brain trust” elsewhere. It’s a group of people you can bounce ideas off of, share experiences with etc. and cross-promote.

What do you think? Have you tried some of these practices? Did they work? Love to hear from you.


My Doggy Problem

by Searchtempo Courtesy of Wikipedia
by Searchtempo
Courtesy of Wikipedia

In my last post I asked for help naming my heroine’s dog. What would a lady spy call her labradoodle? Between responses on my blog and the Guppie loop I now have a list of 24 names to choose from! I can’t thank you guys enough. Here’s the list so far: Hoover, Giles, Herbert, Maxwell, Dossier,Slick, Cassanova, Double O, Retha, Sunnie, Nova, Revere, Magellan, Jello, Choco, Artemis, Glock (or another pistol name), Sherlock, Snoop, Boris, Natasha, Nathan Hale, Donovan, Snoops and Sherlock again:) Amazing names and I love them all. I’m going to try putting some of the names into the text and seeing how they read.

Meanwhile, if you have a name to add, please send it along. If I choose it, I will put your name on the acknowledgement page and send you an autographed print copy when it’s released (i.e., Ancient Danger). 


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3 Key Points About Pinterest (2014 RWA) Kathy Wheeler

“Put Pinterest to Work for You” (#19-008)

presented by Kathy Wheeler

What is Pinterest?

A place to collect and organize the things you love.

My three take-aways:

One – Why use Pinterest?

  • 70 million users
  • 80% female / 25% of women on line use Pinterest
  • Pinterest has 41% of ecommerce traffic compared to FB 37%
  • start and grow your fan base / sell books
  • collect pictures to help you plan your next story (you can keep boards for your eyes only as long as you want)
  • put up pictures to launch your next book

Two – How to Use Pinterest

  • set up a business account (or convert your personal one)(video demo – http://writepublishandsell.com/pinterest)
  • Pinterest will automatically grab pricing info to place with pins
  • paid promotion opportunities
  • Pinterest plans to add more benefits for business
  • usual good SM practices apply – 20% your stuff and 80% for fun things (your interests/hobbies)
  • How to pin your book buy link:

Three – 5 Most Powerful Pins

  2. infographics
  3. tutorials
  4. teaser text
  5. videos

This is a great tape, full of information and there is a handout for it as well. If you have time, take a listen.

Here is a link to my Pinterest account. I’m just a beginner, but I’m having fun.


Newsletter Contest Reminder

If you’re interested in receiving my newsletter click here to sign up. At the end of October one subscriber’s name will be drawn for a ten dollar Amazon gift card. My November edition will name the winner and have a blurb and an audio clip from Covert Danger, the first book in my Mata Hari series launching April 1st.


3 Key Points About Branding – Kristin Wallace

Mata Hari Series launches April 1st
Mata Hari Series launches April 1st

Brand Smart- Your Guide to Author Branding (tape 19-042)  RWA2014

by Kristin Wallace

This was a tightly organized workshop chalked full of information. Kristen began by making the distinction between marketing and branding. Marketing is what you do and branding is how you do it.

“Branding is about telling consumers ‘who you are’ and what they are going to experience when they pick up one of your books.” (workshop handout)

These are my three take-away points:

One – Know Who You Are

  • in the world of advertising the first step is to make a Creative Brief
  • this involves answering 6 basic questions:
  • 1 – What are you selling?
  • 2 – What is the tone?
  • 3 – Who are your competitors?
  • 4 – What is your competitive edge?
  • 5 – Who is the Target Audience?
  • 6 – What mediums will be included in your marketing plan
  • what theme runs through your writing
  • develop a tagline 

Two – Know Who Your Target Audience Is

  • create a reader profile (just like a character profile)
  • What are their interests? What do they read? Where do they read it?…
  • consider primary and secondary audiences (for example, YA often reaches both the teenagers and their mothers)

Three – Develop a Marketing Plan

  • consider how you can translate your themes and tagline visually
  • think colors, images and font choices that support who you are and what you’re writing
  • figure out where you will go (i.e., the mediums) to meet up with your target audience
  • make a list  (she uses Excel) of all the places you will go to reach your audience
  • consider print (RWR ad Publisher’s Weekly, etc.), online ads, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon Instagram, Pinterest etc.) blog appearances, PR (local news papers/organizations), newsletters, radio interviews
  • Google to see what markets are out there and which ones other writers are using

Note: There is a detailed handout for this workshop.

So What Does It Look Like?

Kristen Wallace is a 15 year veteran of the advertising industry. Here is the first paragraph on her website:

“Hi, I’m Kristin Wallace, voracious reader turned author. As my tagline says, I write stories filled with “love, laughter and a leap of faith”. Books filled with sassy heroines, sexy heroes, lots of humor and a hopeful message of forgiveness, healing and enduring love on earth and beyond.”

Wow! Talk about knocking your brand off the shelf and into the hands of readers!


Smart Sexy Suspense – is my new tagline, which I refined while I listened to Kristen Wallace. What do you think?

I know who my readers are, and I’m going to figure out where I can meet them.

I’ve got some work to do  to create a good marketing plan, and having a slight aversion to Excel spreadsheets (the damn data never stays put for me), it will probably take some time. Maybe if I make PJ pancakes he’ll teach me (for the hundredth time) how to set up a spreadsheet. Oh well. I’ll get there, one way or another.

Even if it takes me a lot of pancakes <g>.

Doing a good job of branding and marketing is essential for writers.


What do you think? Does “Diamonds are Forever” ring in your ears? Love to hear from you.


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3 Key Points for Indie Publishers by Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy (RWA 2014)

The actual title of the session is: Strategies for Intermediate to Advanced Indie Publishers (tape 09-091)

3 Keys

One – The Most Important Thing

  • …is to get out the next book

Two- Think About the Reader

  • in Indie Publishing it’s all about the reader
  • what do your readers like? what do they want more of?
  • interact with them on SM etc.

Three – Keep Your Focus

  • hard, but so important
  • you need to get more product out. The time required for tasks other than writing the next book (such as making audio books or translated copies)  has to be weighed against the importance of getting the next book out.


Yes, they assigned homework:

  1. choose one retailer and study their site (who do they focus on, which genres are featured etc.)
  2. find 20 promotional sites
  3. create a business trust group (of people you can bounce your business ideas/decisions around with)
  4. create a monthly action To-Do list (5 goals)
  5. create a yearly action …
  6. monitor your emotional and creative well-being. Balance is important


Of course they said tons more, and if you’re interested in this topic I suggest you listen to the tape of the session. There are many many gems of wisdom in it.



I’m busy trying to make final decisions about my cover. At this stage, I have to make sure I own or have the license to use all pictures used in it. It’s a trickier process than I realized, but I’m learning. Hopefully, by Thursday, I’ll be able to show you my decision.


Any thoughts on the topic?


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3 Key Points about Sexy Selling Novellas from Eloisa James…(2014 RWA Nationals)

“The Fabulous, Sexy, Selling Novella” Workshop

by Connie Brockway, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn  (2014 RWA Conference)

This was the first workshop I attended at the conference, and one of my favorites. Here are the three key points I took away:

One – Focus on an Intense Slice of Life

  • it’s not a novel, a novella involves a much smaller canvas
  • don’t write it as a novel without a beginning
  • it could be a story about a secondary character in your work, a gift for your fans, a snippet, an appetizer…
  • good for promoting series, or for trying something new
  • a good novella has a good sex scene – not as a gimmick, but as an integral part of the plot
  • think: reader pleasure

Two – High Concepts work well for anthologies

  • a unifying theme that carries the book – a plot gimmick like a marriage switch works well
  • the presenters collaborated on Lady Most Likely and Lady Most Willing, very successful anthologies with themes

Three – Cut Extra Exposition

  • keep it lean and make it hot
  • focus on the primary characters
  • focus on a main conflict
  • you can experiment with characters and story lines, but keep it lean


I’d love to write more novellas, but I need to find the time. I wrote one between writing novels that  I love, set in a small fictional town on Vancouver Island. It’s funny and light and I loved writing it, but it doesn’t link back or forward to any of my other work. It’s like a stand alone cozie. I can’t market that. Maybe some day I’ll write more stories for those characters. I particularly liked the Labrador dog called Marlowe. Maybe. But right now, I’m focusing on my Mata Hari Series.

Could I write a novella for the series? Definitely, but right now I’m working on novels and short stories. We’ll see.

What about you?

Do you like reading/writing novellas?


Crowd Sourcing my Cover

I’m crowd sourcing my first cover design with 99designs. It’s exciting. The preliminary round ends tomorrow, when I choose 6 finalist and work with them. So far (Sun afternoon) I have 47 design entries <!>and many of them are knock-your-socks-off good. It’s not going to be easy to choose. You can follow the action here.

And… you can comment either below or send me a direct email at: connect@jo-anncarson.com if you have favorites. Love to hear from you.

Crowd sourcing, in this case, means that I’m soliciting through a company designs from a large group of artists and then choosing a group of finalists, working with them and then picking a final design. I’ll keep you posted.

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3 Key Points about Indie Success (2014 RWA Nationals)

Indie Success with no Publishing History (tape 19-088)

presented by Melody Anne, Kathleen Brooks and Lillian Hart

One – Your Newsletter Mailing List is your number one marketing tool

  • promote you mailing list sign-up form on every page of your website
  • your mailing list is a core list of your fans, and having a direct link to them to tell them about your next publication is really important
  • keep your newsletters interesting and informative – you don’t want to spam people
  • some send out newsletters monthly, others only when there is a new release – do what works for you
  • suggested three subsections: 1) new release or a sale 2) personal note 3) upcoming work and pre-order information
  • you can pull a street team from this list
  • some people run contests to build their list, but you don’t really want to fill it with people who only sign up for the contest – you can let it grow organically

Two – Treat your writing as a business

  • line your writing ducks up in a row (my words) – be prepared – know what you need to do and what you’re going to do next
  • set goals
  • build trust with your fans – if you say you’re going to launch a new book every six months – do it

Three – You don’t need to pay for PR

  • THE best promo is your next book
  • write, write, write
  • the presenters didn’t pay for very much of their promotion
  • they strongly suggests putting out several books at once and adding to your list at regular intervals
  • build your audience


The audience buzzed with excitement as these ladies spoke. I buzzed right along with them. They made their success sound attainable.

I keep hearing the same phrase: “It’s a marathon.” Not a sprint. Time to get writing. Have a great week.


I love reading your comments, so if you have time, please, add to the conversation.


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Need some Facebook Love

I launched my author page on FB, and I’m collecting likes. If you feel so inclined here is my link.

3 Key Points From Allison Brennan About Villains (2014 RWA Nationals)

Allison BrennanI hate to make a sound-bite out of a comprehensive hour long workshop, but I like to think of this post as an appetizer. Check out the tape from the conference to get the full meal deal.

How do you make a really good bad-guy? You need to know:

One – Every villain is a hero of his own journey.

Allison quoted Christopher Vogler (The Writers Journey) who says that every villain believes himself to be the hero of his own journey. When you create villains this way it makes them believable, and far more interesting.

Two – Every villain has GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict)

A well developed villain like every other character in the book has to have a goal, clearly stated motivation and internal and external conflict. Make them real.

Three – Every villain has an epic moment of choice.

Like the hero, the villain has an epic moment of choice in his life. It might come before the story even begins, but we need to know it to understand what makes them tick.

Bottom Line – Make three dimensional villains that have some humanity. Make them real. They will, “make or break your story.”


I love developing interesting bad guys. Maybe that says something about me. I don’t know, but I find cardboard evil villains fall flat. As Brennan says a good villain challenges the hero and the hero needs to be worthy of the villain. His badness is pivotal.

What do you think?

Whose your favorite bad guy? Any opinions on villains?

One of Allison Brennan’s latest releases, Dead Heat, can be be found here on Amazon.