Category Archives: Cool Gus Publishing

A day in the life of an Agile Publishing Partnership

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!

Cool Gus Command Center

Cool Gus Command Center

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.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cut Out by Bob Mayer

Cut Out

by Bob Mayer

Giveaway ends March 16, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Probst!

Available in eBook, Paperback and Audio!

Available in eBook, Paperback and Audio!

Please welcome guest blogger and Cool Gus Team Member Jennifer Probst. Jennifer is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of both sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her novel, The Marriage Bargain, was the #6 Bestselling Book on Amazon for 2012. Her first children’s book, Buffy and the Carrot, was co-written with her 12 year old niece, and her short story, “A Life Worth Living” chronicles the life of a shelter dog. She makes her home in New York with her sons, husband, two rescue dogs, and a house that never seems to be clean. She loves hearing from all readers! Stop by her website for all her upcoming releases, news and street team information.

Take it away Jennifer!

* * * * *

The Power of Dialogue…

One of the true pleasures I find in a good book is well written dialogue.

Since I write contemporary romance, with real situations and every day characters, dialogue is key to liven up the action, hook the reader, and keep the pages turning.

How?

As my son would say, easy peasy, lemon squeezie…

I’ll be using examples of my new Re-Release, Executive Seduction:

1. Make sure your hero and heroine sound DIFFERENT: Let’s be honest—if you overhear a conversation between men and women, they are from two separate planets. Men talk daily stuff. Men are brief, sometimes stilted, sometimes crude, and communicate with grunts, laughs, insults, comments, and despise going deep.

Women like to talk about feelings. They speak in longer sentences, more descriptive, more animated with their bodies. They listen, delve deep, and sometimes touch others in a show of support.

If your hero is speaking in long, flowery language to your heroine, it’s just not gonna fly. And if you’re heroine isn’t opening up or trying to communicate with the hero, there’s a damn good reason why. She’s hiding something. Make sure you know what it is.

2. Keep it snappy: I don’t want to hear inane conversation about garbage day, dishes, or who they were speaking with on the phone. Make it count. Make it move. Make it interesting.

3. Use dialogue to reveal hidden secrets: Sometimes a long narrative description of hidden secrets from the hero or heroine is just too lengthy and drags. I love using dialogue to reveal parts of my character. Confessions in the dark after sex are done for a very good reason. There’s safety there. Instead of using thoughts, flashbacks or memories, use dialogue.

Here’s an example of 2 & 3:

The lilting strains of the slow, moody ballad drifted in the air. The floaty material of her silk dress brushed against his thighs as they moved. Logan muttered something under his breath.

“What?”

“I said Laura must want to torture me. I should be arrested for the lecherous thoughts I’m having in a public place.”

Chandler hid a smile. “She’d be shocked at your lecherous words, too.”

“I think it turned you on.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“So you’ve said.” His gaze dropped to her mouth. “Laura likes you. She thinks you’ll be good for me.”

“I think she’s tired of making pork chops every Thursday.”

Logan chuckled. “Smart mouth. From the sweetest of smiles comes the sharpest of barbs.”

“Who said that?”

“I did.”

“Oh. I thought you were quoting someone.”

“I was quoting myself. Why do you look so nervous?”

“You’re staring at my mouth like you’re starving, and I’m your next meal.”

He gave a wolfish grin.

“I’m still trying to convince myself I’m not your prey.”

“When you look at me like that, I think I’d chase you to the ends of the earth.”

“See, you are a poet. And to think I’d given up on dry, logical businessmen. Maybe there’s hope for your lot.”

“Dry, logical businessmen can transform if they find the right women.”

This time he caught her before she stumbled. His fingers threaded through her hair hanging down her back. Her scalp prickled, and she ached for him to put an end to the torture and just kiss her. The delicious scent of musk and spice drifted to her nostrils. She blurted out her next words without obvious thought. “Why do you chase me so hard?”

“Why do you run so fast?”

Her lower lip trembled. “Because I’m afraid.”

4. Reveal hidden traits of characters: We all have a belief system. Instead of spouting poetic to the reader of what your character believes in, let it come out in dialogue. You both may learn something. Here’s a quick example of dinner conversation that runs much deeper:

“Food seems to be another one of life’s pleasures. Don’t you agree?” he asked. She paused in the act of reaching for another shrimp cocktail as the waiter left.

“I try to be vegetarian and eat tofu and yogurt, but my heart just isn’t in it.” She smiled. “I feel guilty when I lecture my students on nutrition. I’ve already made note of the dessert menu.”

He laughed. “A woman whose heart is controlled by her stomach. I respect that.” He watched her bite into the shrimp and close her eyes in delight. “I hope your profession can support your appetite.”

“If I wanted a fortune, I would have worked as a business executive.”

“So you said before. What else do you hate besides money, Chandler?”

She blinked. “Power. Controlling people. Lies hidden behind smiles. The usual things most people hate.”

“It’s not so simple,” he said softly. “Most grab at an opportunity with both hands. People raised in poverty see money as their only way out of hell.”

She shook her head. “It’s a trap. They’re really giving up the self, and what they get in return is a lie. Money and power are illusions and only soothe for a temporary period. Then they wake up one morning needing more, and sacrificing more to get it. In the end they lose everything important and find themselves alone. Money can’t help loneliness.”

“That sounds like a conclusion drawn by one who followed the path and got burned. You talk from experience. What made you change?”

5. Ramp up your sex scenes. Sigh. Well, I had to talk about sex, I am a romance writer. A great love scene is key in romance, and let’s be honest, a little naughty dialogue ramps up the tension in both the characters and reader.

“Logan?”

“You are so gorgeous. I can’t wait to spend hours just looking at you.”  Her natural shyness caved beneath the raw lust in his voice, and her mind shut down for a permanent vacation. His palm settled over her center and he lightly massaged her tender flesh, but never enough to satisfy. She moaned long and low. “But right now I want to play. Does this feel good?”

Her voice came out ragged. “Yes.”

“And this?” He squeezed her nipples and pleasure pain ripped through her. He rotated his hand, dragging the lacy fabric back and forth, until her heart pounded and her blood roared, and she thought she’d die of pleasure if he kept going. “Oh, God, yes.”

“Open your legs for me, ” he muttered darkly in her ear.

Whew! That’s it – happy reading and happy speaking!

You can buy Executive Seduction at the following links or come by my website!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Audio

Cool Gus takes on #RWA13 and Atlanta

The Romance Writer’s of America annual National Conference (#RWA13) in Atlanta, GA is just days away. There is a lot of chatter on various loops, blogs, etc. about the conference. We’ve posted some of our SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) here at Write on the River/Write it Forward. Other writers and industry professionals have blogged about their tips and tricks. Twitter, Facebook at many groups are all discussing the big event. Everything from tips on packing to what to wear to the Rita’s to why some authors have decided not to go.

bobandjenMy original title for this blog was The Dynamic Duo takes on Atlanta and RWA. But that would make me Robin. Then I thought, nah, how about The Lone Ranger and Tonto invades Atlanta and RWA, but then I’d have to listen to Bob and why does The Lone Ranger have a side-kick named Tonto who has a bird on his head, if he’s the Lone Ranger. Again, that makes me Tonto. And of course the jokes about my big hair. So, it’s Cool Gus, which is who we are anyway. I digress.

This is a big event for Cool Gus. It will be the first time we’ve attended RWA together as a partnership. The last few years we’ve attended Thrillerfest, also a really good conference. We were scheduled to attend (together) RWA back when it was supposed to be in Nashville, but got moved to Orlando and due to some family obligations on Bob’s part, I attended alone. Cool Gus was just a babe and the digital explosion had just begun.

Anywho, we’re off to see the Wizard…or maybe to conspire with Darth Vader inside the Death Star. Either way, we have a very busy schedule. I just sent it to Bob, who is finishing up the third book in the Nightstalker series (The Book of Truths, Book II, comes out 30 July, hint, hint) and is head down, internet off, no distractions (even from Tonto) finishing it up. I hear it’s pretty wicked, but that’s about it. He’s so tight-lipped about these things sometimes.

We get in early afternoon on Thursday, but go right to an Agency gathering, then a meeting with a representative of Amazon, and then a meeting with Natalie Markey, one of our authors. If it’s humid down there, my hair by this time will probably look like the bird on Tonto’s head. I’m obsessed with Tonto. If my DH ever agrees to finally let me get a dog (I usually get my way, though it often takes years) I plan on naming the dog Tonto. I need my own side-kick. But I digress, again.

We’ll also being meeting with Jennifer Probst, the newest member to the Cool Gus family. Uh-Oh. Jen Squared strikes again. Watch out! Atlanta will never be the same. The lovely people from Nook Press will also be there, so we’ll be talking with them. And there is of course, the meeting of the, well, Bob and I (Dynamic Duo, Lone Ranger & Tonto, Frick and Frack) or the quarterly business meeting of the master minds of Cool Gus. It’s all in how you look at it.

Nationals can be overwhelming. So many people. So many workshops. So many conflicting ideas. Yes. Conflicting. Especially now that there are so many opportunities for writers to get their work published. There is traditional. Small press. Digital presses. Indie. Self. Hybrid. There will be workshops on all of these. Oh, FYI, Bob and I are doing a round-table discussion in the self-publishing track on Saturday at 4:30. Be there or be square.

There will also be workshops on marketing and promotion, social media and I’m guessing formatting and cover design and many other things pertaining to authors and how to publish. There will be editor panels. Agent panels. Panels with editors, agents and authors, oh my.

And of course workshops on craft. Very important.

We always recommend that when attending any workshop to consider the source. What point of view are they coming from? What has been their career path and what is your career path? There is more than one yellow brick road. What works for one author, might not work for the other.

Writer's Conference GuidePicking workshops can be difficult. One thing we recommend in our Conference Guide is to divide and conquer. Get with your chaptermates or critique group and divide up workshops that are at the same time. Take notes, then share. I do believe RWA will provide you with the flash drive of all the handouts and some of the workshops are recorded, but there is nothing like sitting with a group of writers and discussing the topics in person.

Another thing we recommend is picking the workshop based on speaker and not necessarily topic.

There have been so many changes in publishing that it will be interesting to see what the ‘vibe’ is at RWA, especially since it’s been a few years since we’ve attended.

We’re excited to be attending RWA this year and we look forward to our scheduled meetings, but we also look forward to sitting in the lobby and meeting new faces and discussing all the wonderful opportunities there are for writers today. It really is a great time to be a writer, no matter what path you take.

We have a general rule that once we leave our rooms in the morning, we don’t go back until the day is done, unless I have to change my shoes because I never follow that rule of wearing comfortable shoes.

If you’re attending RWA, come find us. Seriously. We’ll be in the lobby.

Romantic Times, Snow, Flying, and other interesting things

This past week I got on a plane, which for me can be very nerve-wracking. Something I have in common with my heroine, Shauna Morgan from Jane Doe’s Return. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share with you a short excerpt I wrote from her point of view on an airplane. Exactly how I feel.

Anyway, I was heading to my very first Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City where I’ve never been. Interestingly enough, I had just seen the show Wicked. Even more interesting was that EL James made an appearance at RT and my hubby will be taking me to the 50 Shades of Gray show in a couple of weeks. I find all that kind of freaky. But I’m digressing already.

When Bob and I travel together we tend to try to make our flights match up at least at the final destination. This is the second time that Bob has had to say to me, “relax, the plane landed, you’re fine.” This was after me texting as I was sitting on the plane and it was making this noise like I was in an MRI machine and me and this other guy were totally freaking out. We both hit the flight attendant button and she told us both, with a smile and half laugh, that for this particular airbus, the noise was normal.

I think not.

Besides, I kept thinking about these stories that Bob tells when he’s teaching. About plane crashes, or plane mishaps, and the things that go into the causes of these disasters. I’m thinking, I’m on ‘that’ disaster.

The flight attendant assured us, but I was still freaking out. Poor guy next to me was like, um, really lady? Get over it. The flight attendant assured me that once we were up on the air, the noise would stop and would NOT start again on the way day. Should have seen my face when it started again on the way down. I was not happy.

The Cool Gus Team

The Cool Gus Team

And then, in Kansas, in MAY, it snowed! Okay, so I’m used to here, but really? It was like 60 and sunny at home and I’m in Kansas where it’s snowing. Bob didn’t even bring a jacket (except his suit coat), though we only actually left the hotel when we took the free shuttle to a restaurant with Brenda Novak and a friend of hers. That was fun. But the snow, rain, cold, not so much. If you have a chance, check out Brenda’s online auction. She does a great job and it’s for a great cause.

Then, Bob and I are sitting in the lobby after doing an interview with TJ Mackay of InD’Tale Magazine and Bob looks up and said, “This is the hotel where walkway collapsed during some tea dance and lots of people were killed.” I looked up and said, “Okay, I want to go home now.” Argh.  Thankfully he waited until our last night to tell me this.

However, RT was an absolutely fabulous conference. Bob and I got to meet with our latest partnership, Jennifer Probst. We also took meetings with potential authors, other publishers and Amazon. We found a great place to set up camp and parked ourselves at a table and discussed business with each other, and anyone who stopped by. One thing we do at conferences is take a good look at our business plan. We specifically looked at Bob’s latest release (this week) of The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost. We crossed things we’d done off our list and added new things as we are always learning. Both our workshops were well attended and overall, Cool Gus was a big hit at RT. We’re looking at going back again. Very good conference.

But then I had to get on a plane again. Lucky for Bob, his flight took off an hour before mine, so he didn’t have to share in the: OMG, I’ve got to get on a plane! Moments. But he did enjoy teasing me on twitter after I emailed him in NYC that my plane (that I ran from gate to gate so I wouldn’t miss) was currently delayed for ‘maintenance’. Obviously, I made it home in one piece. And when I got home, we found that my romantic suspense novel: Jane Doe’s Return was burning up the Amazon charts. It hung out at #3 on the FREE bestseller list for 3 full days and then hug out in the top 100 in both Romance, Mystery& Suspense and Romantic Suspense Categories and it cracked the top 1000 on Amazon. That’s a pretty big deal. And as promised. Here is an excerpt of the heroine, Shauna Morgan and her flight experience.

Jane Doen's Return

Jane Doen’s Return

Shauna Morgan gasped, then gripped the armrests, grateful no one sat in the seat next to her. The plane shook as the ground appeared to rise up from nowhere and greet the spinning wheels. The ones she prayed had been deployed, released, or whatever.

She hated flying, but had to look out the window. It seemed everyone who feared flying had to fixate their stare on the approaching ground. Like watching yourself plummet to your death would somehow make your trip better.

The plane bounced on the pavement, came to a roaring halt, and jerked forward toward the gate. She tried to swallow, but the lump in her throat wouldn’t allow her muscles to work properly. Her heart beat so fast she could no longer feel one pulse after the other. It had been years since she had been anywhere near her hometown. Although Saratoga Springs was about forty minutes north, Albany was close enough.

And Albany was where it all began. 

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