Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Local Authors at Wizard World Comic Con, St. Louis!

Wizard World Comic Con is this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri. Several local authors will join authors, artists, and celebrities from across the country for a weekend to celebrate all things in the world of science fiction!

I’ll be one of many panelists featured this weekend! Brad R. Cook

Villains versus Villains
A battle royale between villains! What makes a great monster or just plain psycho-antagonist? Creators divulge which villains claim the best villain award. Why do some win our hearts while others creep us out? Special guest speakers Genese Davis (The Holders Dominion), Ryan Dalton (The Year of Lighting), Emilyann Girdner (The Labyrinth Wall), Brad R. Cook (The Iron Chronicles), and Zac Brewer (The Cemetery Boys) will share their perspectives and creative process including what key ingredients they focus on when creating vicious characters. Don't miss this thrilling discussion.

Saturday, April 2, 2016
Room 130

Several other local authors will be there
My illustrator and author Jennifer Stolzer will be a panelist on It’s Your Write.

Meredith Tate will be a panelist on Ode To Leading Ladies

Shawntelle Madison will be on both Ode To Leading Ladies and Visibility Isn’t A Superpower

Plus New York Times Bestselling Author Zac Brewer will be presenting Visibility Isn’t A Superpower and Villains vs Villains, plus signing books.

It’s not an April fool’s joke. It’s happening. So come for Shatner, Tennant, Piper, or Smith but stay for some great St. Louis Authors.

Plus those who come to my Villains versus Villains panel will get to see for the first time anywhere… the brand new cover for my third novel IRON LOTUS.

It will be an exciting weekend under the Arch!

Wizard World Comic Con
St. Louis 2016

April 1-2-3, 2016

America's Center
701 Convention Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63101

Friday, April 1, 2016 – 3pm - 8pm
Saturday, April 2, 2016 – 10am - 7pm
Sunday, April 3, 2016 – 10am - 4pm

Photos from Wizard World Comic Con, St. Louis

Friday, March 25, 2016

Vicki Lesage: Promoting Your Price Promo

Guest Post by Vicki Lesage

As an author, one of the most powerful tools to get exposure for your books is doing a price promotion. By reducing your book’s price for a short period of time, you can get more sales, increase your ranking, and thus get more exposure. Which can lead to more sales, which leads to an even bigger increase in ranking, and so on.

Don’t worry about any short-term losses in profits—unless you’re making millions (and even then) your book can surely benefit from increased sales and exposure, and you’ll continue reaping the rewards long after your book has returned to full price.
However, there are many decisions to take into consideration. As an Amazon bestselling author, indie publisher, and one of the people who runs BookStar (, an ebook deals newsletter, I have lots of experience with price promotions! Here’s a quick guide of my top tips:


If you give away your book for free, you’ll obviously attract more people (possibly up to 10x as many). This is great if you have a series or other books you think people may buy after reading your free book. For example, I give away my book Petite Confessions ( for free in the hopes that people will like it and will go on to buy other books in my Paris Confessions series (
But if your goal is to make money right away or you don’t have other books or your other books aren’t likely to interest the same people as the book you’re trying to promote, then you’re probably better off reducing your book’s price to $.99. Some sale-priced books go for $1.99 or even $2.99, but you’ll likely see the best results at $.99.

After your promo is over and your book returns to full price, your improved ranking will result in increased full-priced sales, so you’ll continue earning even after the promo is done. Also, if you’re in the Kindle Unlimited program, people may download your book for free during the promo and you’ll get paid for pages read (so, even though it’s not an actual sale during your promo, it’s still another gauge of the promo’s success).


If you’re in KDP Select, you have 5 free days per 90-day enrollment period or up to 7 days to discount your book during a Kindle Countdown Deal. If you’re not in KDP Select, you can change your price as you wish (or as your publisher wishes).

I’ve seen the best success running a promo for 3-5 days and focusing most of my ads on the first day (where possible). That will give you the biggest spike in sales, which will result in the biggest spike in your ranking. Once your rank is high, you will continue to sell more books at the sale price simply because your book is now visible to more people. Any ads you weren’t able to secure for the first day can run on the other days of the promo and will help sustain your ranking.

Where to advertise

Putting your book on sale is only half the battle—people have to find out about your sale too! So be prepared to spend a little time and/or money and submit to the sites below.

You’ve likely heard of BookBub. I jokingly call it The Almighty BookBub among my author friends because it’s super hard to get into, but if you’re accepted you’re pretty much guaranteed success. (Around 95% of their promotions make their money back.) I highly recommend following their author’s blog ( and soaking up their invaluable advice. You can use their tips to improve your book and thus have a better chance of getting accepted by them, but even if you never get accepted (only about 10-20% of submissions do get accepted so don’t feel bad) their tips will still help with your other marketing.

So where else can you submit? Here are my favorites:

Read Cheaply: It’s currently free to submit, their newsletter is clean and uncluttered, and they deliver a nice little bump in results.

Robin Reads: They’re reasonably priced and are worth it, as long as your book fits within the genres they promote (check their site for the current list).

Ereader News Today: Same benefits of Robin Reads—you’ll pay a fair price to be featured and you’ll see some nice results. They have nearly every major genre.

BookStar: Hey! Why does this sound familiar? That’s because I run this newsletter! So of course I recommend it because we put our blood, sweat, and salty tears into selecting the best books at the best price for you. We’re relatively new so we’re still pretty inexpensive to advertise with. We focus on the following genres: women’s fiction, romance, and chick lit, and the occasional thriller, bestseller, or memoir as long as it’s written by, for, or about women.

Book Barbarian: We really like them because they do what we do—focus on a niche and do it really well. So if your book is sci-fi or fantasy, submit to them!

Plenty of other sites exist as well, each with varying prices and varying degrees of success. Many are free, so it will only cost your time (though don’t expect amazing results). And plenty are more than happy to take your money but won’t necessarily deliver results. It’s up to you how much you have in your budget, how big of a risk you’re willing to take, and how much time you have to submit to them all!


I would recommend the following:
1.     Read BookBub’s blog and learn everything you can. You can’t read the entire internet but you can read a decent chunk of their blog to polish up your book’s presentation and your marketing techniques. Check the books they’re featuring in your genre to get a feel for what they’re looking for (what the covers look like, how their blurbs read, the number of reviews they have, etc.). If you’re sure your book is up to snuff, move on to Step 2.
2.    Submit your book to BookBub for a price promo. Be prepared to get rejected a few times. Resubmit as often as they allow. After each rejection, try to look at your book critically and see if there’s anything else you can improve. Get more reviews? Polish your blurb? Try to get editorial reviews? Then submit again.
If you get accepted to BookBub, jump for joy! Schedule your price promo and then submit to the other sites above. Promote your deal on social media and shout it from the rooftops.
4.     If you keep getting rejected from BookBub, don’t despair. Schedule a price promo anyway and submit to the sites above. While BookBub is king, there are still plenty of princes and princesses out there!

Hope this helps, and good luck with your promo!

About Vicki Lesage:

Amazon bestselling author Vicki Lesage proves daily that raising two French kids isn't as easy as the hype lets on. In her three minutes of spare time per week, she writes, sips bubbly, and prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charming daughter, all of whom mercifully don't laugh when she says "au revoir." She penned the Paris Confessions series in between diaper changes and wine refills. She writes about the ups and downs of life in the City of Light at

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Three Thoughts About Worldbuilding

Three Thoughts About Worldbuilding
By Brad R. Cook

Every writer creates a world, some more complex and unique than others. This isn’t just for the science fictions and fantasy writers out there. Even if you write contemporary, your world may be different from what the reader knows. Maybe they live in a different part of the country using different terms, and slang, or with unique customs. Worldbuilding may not be inventing a whole new world, but to the reader is a place they’ve never been.  

If your building a whole new world, or if you’re only molding this one, here a few thoughts to keep in mind.

1 – Remember the Details

Details are everything in Worldbuilding. As a steampunk author, my novels are set in the Victorian era, a time when the modern world was emerging. It is the details I provide that recreate that world. Plus once I add the steampunk elements, I have to describe in detail what something is, or no one will understand. A lot of people might know what a carriage looks like, four wheels, a driver’s perch, and passenger compartment, but do they know what a steamcarriage looks like? With a detailed description of the sound of the engine, where it sits, and how the driver controls the carriage, the reader will understand.

Same goes with any world. A unique world is not sold by the broad strokes of a writers paint brush – like this world has wizards. What sells the reader on a unique world, and more importantly what sets your world apart from any other writers are the details. How does the wizard cast magic – with words, hand gestures, elaborate potions, magic wands, or technology? Focus on the details and worldbuilding will come more easily.

2 – May Not Use Everything

Writers can spend weeks, months, or even years creating the details for their worlds. Writers can get lost in the minutia of a world and never write a single sentence, but they are important. However, that doesn’t mean you need to include them in every scene you write. The point is to impart enough details to immerse the reader in your world. Sometimes though, a coin is just a coin, or a carriage is just a carriage. If you describe what every coin in the characters pockets looks like the reader will get bored. In my novels I describe the steamcarriage, but I only mention what the reader needs to know about the regular carriages.

I always think about JRR Tolkien when I’m world building. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are wonderful books with immersive worlds filled with details and yet, if you’ve read The Silmarillion which was published by his son after Tolkien’s death, then you know he created thousands of years of history. More languages with more words than would ever be used in the books, but they were there if he needed them. As writers, we might create more than we’ll ever need, but what’s important is that the writer provides what the reader needs.

3 – Everything is Connected

Nothing in the world exists in total isolation. Okay, yes there are creatures that live in caves, or fish that only live in a single pond. But, my point is that the cultures you create interact with the cultures and the environment in which they live. Plus, even within a culture, there is change. Every culture or environment is dynamic – even elves – our own world is classified by decades. Change is what people are about. We share or steal ideas from other cultures.

Environments are even more connected than cultures. The snow pack that falls on the mountains melts into the stream, which flows into the river, and is carried to the sea. When creating your world use real natural formations as an example. One of my favorite examples is temperature. Common sense says it will be cooler up the mountain and warmer in the valley, however, cold air settles. So depending on conditions cold air can settle in low parts and be warmer at a higher elevation. It’s all about the world you create.

Remember too about rivers. Cities tend to be built on their shores, along the entire length from the mountain head waters to the deltas. Something to remember though is that trade, fishing, transportation and ideas flow upstream and downstream. There is a symbiosis to everyone along a river, whether that is for good, or through conflict.

Build your world. Populate it with unique people, and interesting technology. Your reader will appreciate it, and make them want to visit more.

What is your favorite part of Worldbuilding? Let us know in the comments.

Brad R. Cook, author of the YA steampunk series, The Iron Chronicles. Iron Horsemen - and Iron Zulu -  A member of SCBWI, he currently serves as Historian of St. Louis Writers Guild after three and half years as its President. Learn more at, on Twitter @bradrcook, or on his blog Thoughts from Midnight on tumblr

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bookseller Emily Hall offers tips 4/2 on how to get your books in stores

For many writers, nothing compares to seeing their book on the shelves of local bookstores, but getting it there isn’t always easy. Bookseller Emily Hall of Main Street Books will offer some guidance in her April 2 talk on “Wherever Books are Sold: A Guide to Forming a Lasting Partnership with Independent Bookstores.”

The workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, April 2, at Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd, Kirkwood, Mo. Free to St. Louis Writers Guild members, $5 for nonmembers.

Emily will discuss:
  • ·      how bookstores select books to stock,
  • ·      what research independently published authors should do before they visit any bookstore,
  • ·      how to approach the owner/manager of the store in a respectful and conscientious way,
  • ·      how to promote your book once it makes it into said bookstores, and
  • ·      how to schedule and promote a signing with an independent bookstore.

The Halls--Emily, Ellen and Andy--took over Main Street Books at 307 S. Main, St. Charles, in February 2014, with Emily stepping into the role of co-owner and proprietress. She is a graduate of Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Before she became a bookseller, Emily worked with and trained birds of prey at World Bird Sanctuary and was a personal assistant in the insurance industry (though not at the same time).

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

FIRST LOOK: Philip Ivory's The Dead Outnumber the Living