Category Archives: Guest Blogger
Please welcome Cool Gus Team Member Deborah Coonts to Write on the River to talk about her latest release!
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This whole story started with a smoking gun.
You see, I’m not much of a foodie. And, I’m not much of a cook either. In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with food—I love it, but I hate it when my jeans don’t fit. And it doesn’t help that I’m more of a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives kind of gal rather than one who favors an exorbitantly-priced, twenty-item tasting menu that stills leaves you lusting after a Whataburger. So, when it comes to fancy food prep, I’m a bit clueless.
Which leads me back to the smoking gun thing.
I was eating dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants in Vegas, Due Forni, with two of my best buds, one of them a chef. As a first course, we ordered some of the homemade mozzarella and their famous bread (totally to die for). I ordered the smoked cheese and, through mouthfuls I expressed my pleasure and my wonder at how they imparted the smoky flavor. I’m originally from Texas and the whole smoked thing is a religion there—but it requires a huge smoker and tons of hickory and I didn’t see that sort of set up at Due Forni. So, I wondered out loud how someone might give fresh mozzarella a smoked flavor.
My bud, the chef, looked at me as if I’d been living under a rock and announced, “With a smoking gun, of course.”
But, of course! A smoking gun. Who knew?
That little tidbit stopped me mid-bite and totally derailed his dinner as I peppered him with questions.
I mean, there’s just something so prosaic about killing someone with a smoking gun, don’t you think?
So, off the story ran, as stories are wont to do. Before long I found myself mired hip-deep in the world of gourmet cookery. And I became interested in the conundrum of serving incredibly fresh food in a place that is as hospitable to the nurture of delicate plants and exotic fish as the surface of the moon. And that led to research into the pipeline for gourmet foodstuffs, the need for temperature control, for impeccable and consistent quality and lightning fast shipments. All of this is incredibly competitive, with the top-tier chefs locked in a fierce battle for the freshest, most unique items on the planet.
The perfect recipe for murder.
Or several, as the case may be… kitchens are dangerous places, you know.
And, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this sort of culinary chaos.
In LUCKY CATCH, Lucky has been promoted. She is now the Vice President of Customer Relations for the Babylon, Vegas’s primo Strip property, which really doesn’t change anything, it just sounds more important. She’s still charged with keeping the lid on guests, entertainers, chefs and staff who decide to turn up the heat while at the Babylon. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but with the dishy, world-renowned chef, Jean-Charles Bouclet in hot pursuit and the return of her former lover, Teddie, setting her emotions on sizzle, Lucky’s is a bit distracted.
And then, with Thanksgiving approaching, a young woman gets smoked in Jean-Charles’s food truck on the Babylon’s back lot and he becomes the prime suspect. Of course, he goes on the lam leaving Lucky to deal with his sister and his niece who stick to Lucky like a good roux, leaving her to wonder what game he is really playing. To make matters worse, Mona, Lucky’s mother, is up to her normal shenanigans, throwing fat in the fire just when Lucky seems to be taming it to a manageable flame.
Of course, all of this would be easy as pie for Lucky…except the Babylon is hosting a nationally-televised celebrity chef cooking competition and the prized white truffle, one of the main ingredients, goes missing. Not even the truffle pig that Miss P has ensconced in Bungalow 7 in the rarified air of the Kasbah, can find it.
Would someone really kill for a truffle?
As usual, in a bit of shameless product placement, I insert many of my favorite local restaurants in the book, which is one of my favorite things to do. And, of course, I had to sample them anew before doing so… quality control and all of that. Not to mention the tax-deductible thing.
I wonder if the resulting gym membership is deductible as well?
Anyway, please join Lucky on her wild ride through the kitchens of Vegas and find out whether Lucky can clear her chef before his goose is cooked, whether she decides it’s possible to love again without being parboiled in the process, and who her LUCKY CATCH might be.
And whether I might be shot for working a metaphor so hard it rolled over and died.
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Thanks for stopping by Deborah! Nothing but good times.
Bob’s post, So You Want to Make a Living Writing? 13 Harsh Truths struck some nerves with a lot of writers. There were many comments and reblogs and as #13 reminds us “Content is King.” That said, in comes little old me with the “Promotion is Queen and together they rule the publishing world.” We really should adjust that. Maybe add the notion of (keeping with the chess analogy) “SEO and all things Algorithmic is the Bishop.” These three things play a huge role in any author business. Point is, you can have great content, but if no one knows it exists, well does it exist?
Bob and I will go back and forth and back and forth for hours in email about various different aspects of these chess pieces. We recently tried taking out on-line ads with a company that places the ads in related content. I was actually surfing blogs one day and found one of our ads. Pretty cool. We tried it for a month and currently we don’t have plans to renew, not because it wasn’t effective, because it was. I have all that lovely data about click ins and click outs and time spent on each page of our website and what they did from there, but I didn’t see a direct correlation in sales on the sites that count, like Amazon. If Cool Gus were still an ecommerce site, selling our own books, this might have been much more valuable, but we’re not and anyone selling on-line knows that there is a huge cost in customer acquisition. You don’t just slap a website up on the internet and expect to have massive sales. And lets face it, everyone sells on Amazon. Heck, I bought my last MacBook Pro on Amazon. You can buy underwear on Amazon. My sister-in-law works for a company that sells tech products through Amazon.
Bob constantly calls himself a publishing whore (he’s not allowed to call me that), but essentially you must be willing to try all sorts of things both in your writing and in the business aspect of your career. The key is to remember that not everything you do will lead to sales, but much of it will have a positive impact. Also, what works for one, might not work for the other. We’ve seen people chase trends in writing as well as in business. If someone is doing XYZ, then everyone is doing XYZ. Nature of the beast. Not saying you shouldn’t, but we are saying, try something different. New. Be adventurous.
That’s my big Segway to Book Tasting. That’s what I decided to call The Bob Mayer Sampler – a taste of 42 books. And its FREE. You can download a copy from our website, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play and coming soon to iTunes. We’ve actually done these before. We had the Science Fiction Sampler and the Thriller Sampler. The feedback we have gotten so far on The Bob Mayer Sampler has been very positive. It’s given his fans one place where they can see the order of each series. But its more than that. Bob also talks about his ideas, where they came, how he researched them and some other interesting facts. Did you know that the idea for Psychic Warrior came from when he was a Green Beret and a real, then restricted training program? Interesting stuff. Gives the reader a look at the man behind the books. A connection.
And it gives me more opportunity to push the algorithmic button and play with keywords, make fun charts and spreadsheets. You should have seen one folder I put together about a year ago for one of business meetings (yes, we have them regularly). I had all these pie charts and statistical information compiled on all sorts of things we were doing at the time and Bob just looked at me like I had 5 heads and had beamed down from Planet Crazy or something. Bob is currently rolling his eyes because he looks at this very differently than I do. I see the behind the scenes opportunity in promotion and how readers will find Bob Mayer Books and increasing the chances of new customer acquisition (I just like that word) and repeat buyers. He sees a neat way to connect with his readers and introduce them to his Factual Fiction. I see another way to have the algorithms pick up his titles. And we’re going to be working with our authors to do this for them. I think it’s a good tool. Another look inside, except the reader gets to look inside every book in one place via a download.
I also look at this book tasting as another way to promote binge reading, which is like binge TV watching and that’s important because we as a whole have changed the way we watch TV, a lot and we are changing the way we read. Remember back in the day before VCR’s and DVR’s and if you missed a show, you just missed it. Granted, not as many shows to choose from, but still, you were tied to that time. And, because gremlins do exist and they eat VCR tapes, I missed the series premiere of Who Shot JR. OMG, it was terrible! Oh, and free book to the person who names that show first in the comment section. Bob got my DH and I hooked on The Good Wife. Any show we watch, its all Bob’s fault. Just saying. Anyway, on a rainy day when the poor DH couldn’t go play golf, we watched 9 episodes in one sitting. Yep. Got to love Amazon Fire TV!
So, carrying this idea over to books. We’ve always said the best promotion is a good book. The next best promotion? Another good book. And so it goes. A reader recently contacted Bob about the sampler and how much he appreciated it because he’d just found Nightstalkers and knew he’d read some of Area 51 but hadn’t read all 9. Anyway, he could figure out what he read, and hadn’t read, and go to town because what do readers do when they find a book/author they like? They go looking for more books. But again, that’s another thing that has changed. The way readers find us. And it is harder. How do readers find authors? A recommend from a friend. A review on Goodreads. A search on the internet for Area 51, Atlantis, Green Beret, Yellow Labs, whatever. Or maybe a Librarian or a book blogger. So, what is your favorite book or series?
Nothing but good times.
Please welcome NY Times Bestselling author and Cool Gus Team Member Jennifer Probst. Take it away Jen Squared!
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I’ve been thinking about a term Susan Elisabeth Phillips – one of my all time fave authors – used in one of her RWA workshops that’s been resonating with me lately.
Protect the work.
This meant different things at various times in my career. In the beginning, it meant make time to write. Between household chores and a full time job and a demanding family life, I needed to make sure I set aside time to write and follow my dream. That was hard enough.
As I became published, it meant make sure I kept writing. Stay away from consistent social media demands that keep you from completing the next book. Look for balance between trying to build a career yet keeping productivity and quality up.
When I hit the Times list, and I gained more readers and success, it meant something else. Protect the work from consistent career stress and self doubt. One day your books are the hottest thing on the market and there’s money, and bestseller lists, and lots of people who want to be your friends. When your book slides, and doesn’t sell as much as originally thought, well, there’s less noise and a lot more self doubt. Many times I would be deep into my writing, loving my story, and come face to face with a scathing review, or discover my new book is tanking, or general sales are lower than anticipated, and the book I’m working on and once loved suddenly goes flat. I’m worried about pre orders, and PR and marketing and sales. Not my new book.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get out of the hole. Eventually, after a brief panic attack, time lost on the computer frantically trying to be proactive, moaning to my husband my career is tanking, fighting the endless voices of negativity, I hear a tiny whisper in my ear.
Protect the work.
Maybe it’s my muse. Maybe my survival instinct. Maybe my soul. Doesn’t matter.
You see, it really is all about the book. Writing a good story. A story that satisfies the soul of a reader and the writer.
Isn’t that always the goal? Money is good. Success is satisfying. Lots of followers on twitters, and good reviews, and Facebook messages that stroke my ego is awesome.
But the best part of the job and the only thing that helps me sleep at night is knowing I wrote a great book. The rest, in a way, doesn’t matter. Not in the big picture.
Sure, networking and doing your job to help build success and gain readership is important. It’s part of the package. But it’s not the end game.
In the end, everything is about the book.
Write a great book and they will come. Keep writing great books and more will show up.
Clear the mechanism.
Protect the work.
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You can pre-order Jennifer’s latest release here.
by Jen Talty
In the last two months, we have partnered with two new authors; Mark Chisnell and Sibella Giorello. At Cool Gus, we believe that anyone in between the author and their readers must add value. That is a question we discuss with authors for a long time before both parties decide if this is a partnership that can add value to the author’s career because (one of our other sayings): there are many roads to Oz and Oz means different things to different authors. Publishing is not a ‘one size fits all’ business.
So, what is it like to be me? Never a dull moment when you’re surrounded by 4 screens, three computers, an iPad and surround sound. Who says I need a dog under my desk? The best part is yesterday, amidst the madness, I figured out how to cool down my iMac. Nope. Not telling. You all can sweat it out!
So, a day in the life…
Yesterday, after finishing up a first read through and sending an editorial note to Jennifer Probst for a short story titled Dante’s Fire, updating keywords for Bob, approving ads for an on-line ad campaign, creating a bundle cover for Mark and Colin Falconer, sending work to one of my assistants, and updating our Kindle Countdown, I began working away on a cover for Sibella for her YA book titled Stone and Spark when I received an email from Sibella letting us know her other publisher had been informed that Amazon would be featuring the third book in her Raleigh Harmon Series: The Rivers Run Dry from 14 to 30 March and she figured it would be impossible to switch gears and get the first book in the series: The Stones Cry Out up and ready for sale by 14 March. Yes, that is she emailed Bob and I on 10 March 2014. And one day later, The Stones Cry Out is available for sale via Amazon partnered with Cool Gus. I use the word partnered because we don’t really view ourselves as publishers, but we’re not a paid service either. Money rolls to the author; always.
A few things had to be in place in order for this to happen. First, we needed cover, which we had, though we are going to be updating it as we work on an over all branding plan with Sibella. Because this is a backlist title, we also had an edited manuscript. I received the email at 11am and by 4pm later that afternoon, I had the book loaded to Amazon and by 6pm that night, all the reviews had been linked. While I did that, Bob and Sibella discussed some other things they could do to promote both books. While I waited for some thing to happen on the back end, I went back to my to do list putting together some bundles we’ll be featuring shortly.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we had some missing reviews (49 to be exact) on one title for Mark from Powder Burn. I did what I could on my end (that was sending an email with all the proper ASIN and ISBN numbers) and continued on with my list. The reviews have been found and are now back where they belong. Thank you.
Couple of key things here. First, what other “publisher” would help promote another publisher’s book? At Cool Gus, what is good for the author is good for Cool Gus. We’re not about a book; we’re about careers. Building them. Supporting them. The long tail. We’re hoping Colin Falconer will be picked up by Amazon Publishing and we’re working on making that connection for Colin, getting his manuscript to the right people.
Something else to consider: we don’t want 100 authors. We can’t do justice to 100 authors. There is only one of me and cloning isn’t an option since Bob has sent the mold off with the mothership. Publishing is a business. It’s a people business. We were at a conference last month and someone asked me what we get out of attending conferences. That answer is simple: networking. We have spent a lot of time cultivating relationships with the people at KDP, Createspace, Amazon Publishing, Nook, Kobo, Google, Bookbub, Book Sends, Audible/ACX, Storyfinds, Overdrive, Inkbok, and so many others in this business.
Bob has always said it is nearly impossible to self-publish if you have more than a couple of titles. What can be overwhelming to the new author is all the nuances there are to self-publishing, which has changed drastically just in the last couple of years. Bob has made his living as an author (or is it writer, I forget) since 1991. He knows both camps. His insight into the business comes laced with experience and blunt honesty, which is available to our authors at any given time.
The reason we were able to get the book up in such a short time is because we are a team. We work together to make sure the author (which is who we work for) gets what they need when they need it and in a timely fashion. This is why we are looking for just a couple more authors to round out our team.
It’s a great time to be an author.
Blog Contest for this Week: Sign up for Bob’s Newsletter and get your name put in for a drawing to win an AUDIO edition of The Kennedy Endeavor. Bob sends out a newsletter no more than 4-6 times per year. Besides interesting information about Cool Gus, Sassy Becca and Big Orange (Bob’s new Jeep), Bob also gives his newsletter subscribers exclusive content. You can sign up here.
Also, Bob is doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Here are the details.