If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What They Didn’t Tell Me First

STEVE LISKOW won the 2009 Black Orchid Novella Award for “Stranglehold,” which appeared in the summer issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Who Wrote The Book of Death? is his first published novel. Currently, he is trying to sell a PI series featuring the characters in “Stranglehold.” His Web mistress daughter is Captain of the Queen City Cherry Bombs, so he is also writing a mystery that involves Roller Derby.  Visit Steve at http://www.steveliskow.com/

My first novel, Who Wrote The Book of Death?, was published in May, six months to the day from when I signed my contract. That contract required that I have a Web site and cut at least 6000 words from the MS as it stood. I’d been telling myself I needed a Web site for months anyway, so that just forced me to get busy. But writing without an agent and signing a one-shot deal with a new and very small publisher has taught me a few other things that I want to pass on to you so you have more time to enjoy the ride when you sell your first book.

Start your Web site NOW, whether you’re published or not. Pick your colors, shapes, and mood to show viewers what you write. Mine is shades of gray and grayish-blue, with vertical rectangles and three columns. Cold colors and no feminine curves because while I don’t write hard-boiled a la James Crumley, nobody will call my work “cozy,” either. I have lots of biographical information because it affects my style and subject matter. There are pictures of me with various guitars, and a few excerpts and blog entries. If you check the Web site, you know what to expect when you pick up one of my books.

Mainly Murder Press asked me to do my own promotion, too. That meant revising; calling on libraries; getting in touch with friends from Facebook, SinC, and the Guppies for guest blogging; finding potential reviewers; soliciting blurbs, suggesting a cover design, and writing the cover copy and logline. Six months sounds like a lot of time until you try to juggle all of this along with creating content for the Web site and having a life away from the keyboard. Because of the hassle, I’m drafting blurbs and log lines for all the WIP’s on my hard drive now. I’ve also changed one working title to something that evokes a more striking cover design. It may help later.

My accountant told me to track all my mileage to and from bookstores and libraries as soon as I started pitching the book to them, so now that’s an Excel spread sheet.

Another spread sheet lists all my expenses on the book so far: the copies of the publicity release, the payment to my web designers, the books I bought to sell at signings. It also includes the fee for registering the copyright. You can register your book on-line, and the Feds have a PowerPoint tutorial to walk you through the process. Registering on-line saves you ten dollars plus the postage on mailing your hard copy.

I can buy copies of my book at a reduced author’s rate, but before I can sell them—at ANY price—my accountant (Precious man!) helped me register with the state as an independent retailer. Living in Connecticut, I have to pay 6% sales tax on every book I sell. The registration fee is a one-time $100, but the tax bill is due quarterly. My publisher didn’t tell me any of this.

Now I’m visiting libraries and signing books. Better still, for the first time in six months, I actually have time to think about writing. I’ve interviewed people and written character bios and drafted a rough outline. This is what I “really” do, and I’ve been away from it for far too long. Now that a lot of the machinery is in place for the next book, it shouldn’t happen again.

But it certainly would have been nice to know a lot of this before.


James Montgomery Jackson said...


Congrats on the AHMM novella. I quite enjoyed the story. Thanks for doing the interview with us and for providing some information I hadn't stumbled over earlier. You especially got me thinking about the sales tax issues.

I reside in two states (MI & GA) and spurred by your interview have sorted out what I'll need to do there, but have you determined what you will do with book signings out-of-state that aren't done through a bookseller?

Are you planning to sell signed copies through your website (and figured out the sales tax implications of that)?

So many questions, so little time. Best of luck with the rest of your novels.


E. B. Davis said...

Have you thought about becoming an S-corp?

Cassy Pickard said...

Steve: Thanks for sharing. It's so helpful for those who are new to this business to hear from those who have gone before.

Stephen said...

My budget is so limited that I doubt I'll cross state lines to sell unless a bookseller invites me. That might change, of course.

E.B., I should probably do more homework because right now I don't even know what an S-corp is.

Right now, I'm starting the first draft of another novel and trying to concentrate on that. I have a few more appearances coming up in the next few months and a few feelers out, but I still think of myself as a writer first. I know that's not the way to think of it today, but if the product is bad or sparse, the promotion won't help much.

I have another novel making the rounds of agents, and getting one would probably make things a lot less harried, maybe even easier. ;-)

Thanks for reading my stuff.

Ramona said...

Stephen, it's a shame promotion takes you away from the writing you so obviously enjoy, but you do seem to have a good battle plan.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, and best of luck with the new novel. Maybe all of this will get easier every time?

MaxWriter said...

Thanks for sharing that, Steve. I'm keeping this post for the lucky day when I'm confronted with same.


Kaye George said...

Excellent post with lots of good info. Thanks for the illumination!

I did have an S-corp when I did contract programming, but I dissolved it. It would be a lot of expense and work just to sell books, IMO.