So you can read my books

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL? Insecure Writers Support

First Wed of Every Month

But first ...
     Alex Cavanaugh and I are spotlighted in THE MYSTERY GYPSY DAILY today!

Karen Lamb has an excellent post today as well:

Karen is much more wise than I.  But I thought I would mention a few things that might help us all.

Unless you are Alex or Hart Johnson or Talli Roland or Anne R. Allen, you -- like me -- are unknown.

What makes us so special?
We need to ask ourselves that question in thinking how to make ourselves stand out.
We're applying, in essence, for a job interview.  The job of entertaining a paying customer.
Why should a browsing reader pick us?
What do we have to offer that is unique in our tale?  Are we writing the same re-hash of an Alpha bad girl taking on supernatural foes with ease and lust?
Are we writing about a wallflower or goth girl lost in the high school crunch suddenly swept up by a GQ cover model vampire?
Are you 30 or over? 
How bored are you with teenage girls and their woes?  If you are, so are others.  The teens many authors are targeting are focused on social media now not novels.
The majority of habitual readers are past their teens usually.
Write about the pressures of entering the job market.  Write about the angst of having started the climb up the coporate ladder only to find loneliness your reward.
Is this all there is?
That is the question so many who read ask of their lives, of their relationships, of where they find themselves.
Those are some of the things many habitual readers seek in their books.  Provide it in a unique way, and you will be well on your way to being "hired."   :-)
As for pricing your ebooks:  Encourage readers to gamble on an unknown.  I suggest $1.99 to $2.99 depending on the length.

It's said that readers seeing such low prices will not respect your prose.  But they might take a gamble on it.  And respect must be earned.

How can you earn it from non-readers?
You are in the Egypt of 1895.  Though your childhood was impoverished, you literally have the wealth of King Solomon.
Though you live simply, you have used your wealth to anger the Egyptian land aristocrats by buying the farms of peasants and giving it to them.

You have bought freedom for poor Egyptian young men being forced into military service. 
You have a death sentence on your head for breaking Oscar Wilde out of prison with your lifelong friend, Mark Twain.
You are hated by the Moslem followers of the Mahdi, who was murdered by your mysterious wife. 
There is simply no safe place for you in Egypt.
Yet, here you are because the wife you love with all your being is excavating in the time-lost site of Tanis. 
She seeks the Aegis of Sekhmet, the name of the goddess she bore so long ago the portraits of her then have crumbled into dust.
Into that Aegis she poured the searing parts of her mind she loathed and feared. 
Now, her people are in danger, and she must again become that monster of old -- the monster who may be so changed that she will no longer love you.
But you are Samuel Durand McCord,
and you will help the one you love though it cost you everything you hold dear.  Love is like that.  Anything else is self-love.
DEATH in the House of Life


  1. Love has a way of roping us in.
    Think I'm still pretty unknown though.
    Thanks again for doing the interview. You got quite few comments!

  2. If you look at the top 10 books at any given time, 6 are thrillers and one was written by Jodi Piccoult. That only leaves three other slots. My money says you want to write thrillers. If only it weren't so hard.

    Though I'd also give (just about) anything to be able to write a great fantasy. I think fantasy endures best... but I can't do that EITHER. Hmph.

    So I will go with mysteries... and those teenage girls *shifty*

  3. Alex:
    You are quite well known as your sales figures attest. And your writing merits it, too. OUR interview did well, didn't it?

    How is your serial doing? Well I hope. You're "write" - oh - I mean you're right, of course.

    Elizabeth Peters did well with mysteries in 19th century Egypt. I didn't know about her until I started THE HOUSE OF LIFE. So you are on fine ground with mysteries.

    Best of luck. Thanks for visiting. :-)

  4. Is that all there is? Didn't Peggy Lee sing that?

    Congrats on the extra exposure for you and Alex! If you're being noticed (and your work, then perhaps your social media is gathering you some payback.

    I'm watching for how Meilori will do cast as Sekhmet.

  5. Finding our place in an ever expanding market is hard which is why it is important to love our own work and not try and fit ourselves into a genre that may no longer exist by the time we have our book out there.

  6. D.G.:
    Yes, and Peggy Lee sang it so beautifully and with such haunting heartbreak.

    I hope the extra exposure does some good. Cross your fingers.

    Meilori has become so many different personalities over the centuries. Time sculpts us until we sometimes no longer recognize (nor much like) the person we were when very young.

    Samuel is a light that brings out different highlights in her that were laying dormant within her.

    You're right. I do love my characters and their linked worlds. Samuel offers me so many different eras in which to place my adventures.

    Perhaps I am creating my own genre of historical/urban fantasy. At least I am having fun.

  7. I'm not thirty or older. Does that count as unique?

    Seriously though, I try to have my work be all those things (yes, all at once), but in the end, all I can write is what comes to me.

    Also, the new book sounds GREAT. I can't wait to see it.

  8. J E:
    Samuel would say each of us is unique no matter our age.

    Like you I am trying for all of those in DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE. I hope to spin an evocative tale of mystery, love, and courage in the most savage, uncharted territory of all -- the human heart.

    I hope you will like it. I'm in the final third of it and things are becoming tense and mysterious. :-)


    Indeed, this is where I try to escape... in my writing...

    Your "Death in the House of Life" sounds more and more interesting every time you mention it. I can hardly wait until it's published. :-)

    I hope your cat is fine.

  10. Wow, this sounds awesome and it sounds like it has everything I'd love!

  11. Vesper:
    This contains more romance than usual in Sam's adventures -- still with death-traps, mystery, laughter (with Twain and Wilde along how could there not be?) and all the supernatural menace that comes with an Egyptian excavation gone terribly wrong.

    In meeting my apartment owner's demands, I have had no time to work on it today (this my last day off). Hopefully my cat will survive the chemicals. I'm off to research the ones being used as soon as I finish saying HI to Kimberly.

    I hope to have this completely edited and polished soon. I hope it entertains you should I be lucky enough for you to want to take a chance on it. :-)

  12. Death in the House of Life sounds like an awesome story. I love the foreign and historical settings. It certainly sticks out more than the cookie-cutter books getting popular acclaim.

  13. Carrie-Anne:
    I am having fun with it: intrigue, bribery, sister rivalry, ancient Egyptian curses and menaces -- and Nikola Tesla, too, along with Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde.

    You get to see Mark Twain's grow up from 12 years old to 31 to a spry 60.

    I hope you enjoy it when it comes out. :-)

  14. I think writing what you want to write - what CALLS to you - is most important. If you're not bored, then hopefully at least some readers won't be. ;)

    I don't believe in writing for trends. Or at least I will never do that 'cause it would feel too forced.

  15. Much luck with the new book Roland. You have to write what your heart tells you to write.

  16. How DO YOU DO IT?

    I WILL NEVER keep up with you my friend. You are a force to be reckoned with… AND as for being an unknown…. HA!

    You have way more books out that Talli and Hart… NEVER sell your talent short!

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the premise of you new book. Anything with Egyptian flair is for me.

    ALL the best Roland…

    I just heard about your attack. I am SOOOO sorry. I hope you're all right.

    Man this year was full of some crazy, freaky situations.

    Take care, Roland…

    I may not be around as often, but I think of you often….

  17. Trisha:
    If you're having fun, the reader should sense it -- and if not, well, at least you enjoyed yourself. I am just pointing out that if you are a storyteller, try to be original no matter what tale you tell.

    Thanks. I write from my dreams -- not too shabby of a source, right?

    I miss not hearing from you as much. But I know how crazy your life has become.

    I hope you enjoy HOUSE OF LIFE when it comes out.

    I may have a lot of books out -- but they're catching cyber-dust!!

  18. Great tips, advice, and questions. Writers definitely have to be unique and create different content now-a-days to standout, to be special. And you're right about unknown authors pricing their books lower to attract readers to them. My new eBook, Hurricane Crimes, is $1.99. :)

    Congratulations on your spotlight THE MYSTERY GYPSY DAILY!! :)

  19. Terrific post, Roland, and congratulations on House of Life! I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody books—which will no doubt come as a shock to anyone who knows how I feel about traditional mystery series. But the Amelia books score high in adventure, love, mystery, thrills, and exotic locales.

    Personally, I think the core of what most readers are looking for is surprise. They may want to read about adventure, love, mystery, thrills, and exotic locales, but that's because those are the tropes most likely to offer the unexpected. As Hart noted, six of the top ten books are thrillers. This makes perfect sense because unless you're a reader of one of the "imagination" genres (fantasy, paranormal, or SciFi), thrillers are the only books out that offer true unpredictability.

    You know, if I learned to shut up, I could comment on a lot more of your posts. ;)

    VR Barkowski

  20. Chrys:
    I wish you the highest sales with HURRICANE CRIMES! Going to Amazon to buy a copy now. :-)

    I didn't even know about Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters until I was mid-way through my book! They seem to have quite a following. I was saddened to find out about Ms. Peters' recent death. :-(

    Don't you dare shut up. I love your comments!

    Surprise is, indeed, the thing. To take unexpected twists and turns in the events of your novel, to always keep them guessing, to have them asking what is the solution to the mystery. :-)

    Now, if I can just pull those off in my DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE!

  21. I'm tired of the angsty YA stuff, and I'm well over 30. I like urban fantasy and paranormal, and hard as it is to believe, I don't need all that "adult" content, but I don't identify with teens. I do love a well crafter story, regardless of the age of the MC.

    Not long ago my 15 year old son was being smartass and tossed the book The Chocolate Wars at me. I'm always interested in what he is reading for his classes, and trying to get him into stories I've always loved. So I read the book, and loved the premise - a sort of A FEW GOOD MEN concept - except for kids at a prep school and nothing to do with the military. And of course, I loved the lack of a happy ending - I had just finished reading Stephen Kings FULL DARK, NO STARS anthology, so even and unsatisfactory ending was good for me.

    But when I asked my kid if he had finished the novel and what he thought of the story, he was all like, "wheeeelll . ."

    Anyway, my point is, a good story is a good story, regardless of price or genre. The author just needs to be satisfied with the writing.


  22. Donna:
    Yes, make the story uniquely your own and fun to read no matter what the age of the reader. Easy to say -- really hard to do! :-)

    If I invest hours into a book, I would rather get a happy ending of sorts. Just sentimental that way.