First Cup of Coffee – February 11, 2020


San Diego Comic Con and Cross-Promo Etiquette

Evening thunderstorms in Santa Fe make for gorgeous sunsets!

I’m super excited making plans with Grace (Darling) Draven for San Diego Comic Con. She was originally coming along as my guest, hoping to keep a low profile and just enjoy some girl time. Now her publisher found out she’s going, so I get to go to the Penguin-Random House party as her guest. We’ve also made plans to meet up with our readers who don’t have passes to the Con itself. For anyone interested in the San Diego area, Grace and I will be at the Marriott Marquis pool bar by 8pm on Friday, July 19. We’ll hang there until 10pm, when it closes. I think some intrepid fans have a plan to get there early and snag a seating nook. It might be mobbed, but we’ll be there! We’re both traveling light, so we won’t have much stuff with us, but we’ll be happy to sign books, swag, underwear (I really did this once – clean and unused, however) that you bring. We’ll also be at our leisure to chat, discuss, and answer questions. Sorry to make you all come down to the Comic Con crush, but that’s how we could fit this in.

I’ll also be on a panel and signing at the TOR booth with giveaways of THE ORCHID THRONE. Details here.  

It’s going to be so fun!

The last few days on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee with Jeffe Kennedy, I’ve been talking about the difference between marketing and promotion, and also social etiquette for asking for cross-promotion with other authors. If you listened there, I’m going to say pretty much the same thing here. I tried doing transcriptions of the podcast, for those of you who don’t like to listen to stuff, but it takes me close to an hour to correct a 20-minute podcast. Plus it costs me .10 cents/minute. I did add a donation button on the podcast, to help supplement the costs, but that’s just way too much time. So I’m going to make an effort to discuss important stuff (not cat wrangling, hummingbirds and notes on the weather – regular features of the podcast) here on the blog, too.

What happened to set me off was I received an email addressed to “Dear Author Friends” that then apologized for the mass email, blamed social awkwardness for it, and then proceeded to deliver a slick publicity package for her new series, asking me to share pre-prepared quotes, memes, etc.

It came to my semi-secret email, the one I reserve for friends and business folks like my agent and editors, and I had no idea who this author was. Not a friend, that’s for sure.

I did search of my Outlook items and found her. We were on a panel together two years ago – and I used that “good” email address for discussions about the panel. She harvested my email address, put it in this list of “author friends” and gave it to a publicity person who put this email together for her. Some of my real author friends who looked at the letter recognized some of the language as being canned.

So here’s a hint, for anyone thinking about doing something similar. Yeah, maybe some of those people you blitzed will post your promo for you. But for many of us, that’s just a really good way to piss off your author community. If you can’t take the time to contact me directly and personally – and there are a LOT of ways on social media to reach me or my assistant – then why will I spend my time, or pay for my assistant’s time, to help you?

Also, I don’t care who you are. If you take someone’s email address from a business correspondence and use it to send a mass email to promote your book? You, my so-not-a-friend, are an email spammer. There’s a special circle of hell for spammers.

I often cite cross-promotion with other authors as my favorite kind of promotion. It’s also by far the most effective. Witness what a great team Grace and I are, as above. But please notice that Grace and I are FRIENDS. I want her to succeed and she wants the same for me. We share a lot of readers, and that’s awesome. We also share mutual regard and sincere good wishes for each other. That’s what networking is about. Grace and I first “met” online because of our readers cross-recommending us. We had coffee at a con and became friends. (That infamous coffee date ended up lasting three hours because we clicked. That doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does.) Using the network of your author friends should be entirely predicated on FRIENDSHIP, which means a reciprocal relationship. I’m not talking quid pro quo or bean-counting. I’m talking about good will, about sincere regard and good wishes.

Not spam.

Of Grapes, Blue Moons and Real Writers

P1012771My attempt at capturing the blue moon, the morning of August first. It’s a mark of how fast this month is flying by that it’s now August 14 and I’m just now putting it up on the blog.

What have I been doing? I’m not at all sure…

I’ve been writing and working in the grape arbor quite a bit. That means I sit too much, but I kind of hate being inside at the treadmill desk when the weather is so beautiful. The grapes are all ripening and it makes me happy to see them hanging heavy and full of sunshine around me.

I’m working on a new book – a contemporary erotic romance. Or maybe it will be just really hot. I’m not writing this one to contract or spec this time – for the first time since, wow! 2012 – and it feels different. Totally my choice to do it this way, as there is a PLAN. I’m excited about the concept but the hero and heroine both have *totally* different lives and careers than anything I know well or understand. Just to make things difficult on myself! Interestingly, my author buddy Anne Calhoun is writing a new book with similar themes. And yet our two stories are completely different. We talk out plot ideas and brainstorm, so we know what the other is doing and still the tales wend in different directions. I’m always fascinated when that happens. She texted me on Wednesday about her progress and I texted back that I was in the midst of interviewing a guy so I could learn about my hero’s career. Then yesterday she had lunch with a guy so SHE could learn about her hero’s career. I laughed and said “Look at us!” She replied, “all researchy like real writers.”

This is an ongoing thing, feeling like a “real” writer or not. The number of books out there, the publishing contracts from which houses or not, the awards, the reviews – somehow none of it ever feels like it cements the “real writer” identity. Maybe because each book feels like such an immense new challenge to write. That’s probably good, because it means I’m stretching myself. Growth is painful, right? Knowing that doesn’t abate the discomfort, however.

I’ve also been teaching an online class the last couple of weeks, on building sexual tension. That’s always fun. Teaching other people how I do something helps clarify some of it in my mind.

Next week is the traditional family Birthday Weekend. We’re spending it in Maine and New Hampshire this year! David has never seen New England so I’m really excited for this.

Also: fresh lobster!

Happy weekend everyone! 🙂