Sunday, September 9, 2018

Marketing Magic #Book Collections #Bargains for Book Lovers

Related imageDo you want to sell more books? Think collections.


Bundle Books and Save Buyers Money 

Few people can resist a bargain. Not I. All it takes is a sign reading "Buy two, get one free" and I fill my shopping cart.

Cynthia Hickey, Editor/Publisher of Winged Publications, is cashing in on this premise by combining novels into both Kindle and print at a money-saving price far less than purchasing books individually. My Juli Scott Cozy Mystery series  for all ages is among them.  

In a nutshell: Juli and her family and friends face dilemma after dilemma. It takes their combined detective skills to figure out what is happening and why. Each title is complete itself, but when read together, they become one long story.

1. Mysterious Monday. Why didn't Dad come home from work?
2. Trouble on Tuesday. Where is Shannon?
3. Wednesday Witness. What did the youth group see?

4. Thursday Trials. Who is stalking Julie and her friends?
5. Friday Flight. When will it end?
6. Saturday Scare. How can Juli and Dave Gilmore find help?


Similar collections in the works


 ROMANCE ACROSS THE YEARS, contemporary. Four couples discover love comes to both young and old

SEASONS OF THE HEART:   Part 1, Emily Ann. Part 2, Carolyn
PATCHWORK CHRISTMAS:  Remnants of Faith. Sequel: Silver Lining

ROMANCE QUARTET. Four Related Novels from the Old West. Romance Rides the Range, Romance Rides the River, Romance at Rainbow's End, Romance at the Hacienda

ROMANCE BOUQUET:  Four related novels from Frontier America. Flower of Seattle, Flower of the West, Flower of the North, Flower of Alaska


SHEPHERD OF LOVE, contemporary. Nurses and doctors find love and happiness through service at a hospital dedicated to God. 

Juli Scott Mysteries

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Writing for Self, to Sell, or Both #Marketing #Trends #choices

Image result for google images, free clipart, crossroads

Torn between wanting to write what you enjoy vs. market needs? If so, read on.


Throughout history, people have been challenged to make choices. Joshua challenges the Old Testament people in Joshua 24:15 (KJV): 

". . . choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

As writers, we also need to choose. Do we simply write what we want to write and hope someone, sometime will be impressed enough to publish our work? Even though the genre is not selling well? 

Been there. Done that. I felt compelled to write my one and only Biblical novel when Biblical fiction was out of favor. It took 15 years and 50 tries before it sold--then generated a flood of approving fan mail.

Why did I stick with it? I believed in it and was willing to wait for
the market pendulum swing. Important note: I also wrote and sold many other books more in line with market demands while waiting.

When I was first getting started writing in the mid-1970s I faced the "want versus needs" dilemma. I longed to write Christian novels. Unlike now, when the Christian fiction market continues to boom, publishers were not looking for that kind of material. 

As usual, my brother Randy gave me excellent advice. "Find a secular publisher who wants good clean books that are inspirational but not overly religious," he said. 

It rang a bell. For decades Mom and I had read Avalon career books. The titles didn't preach but characters could offer table grace and pray when in trouble. I approached them with The Heritage of Nurse O'Hara and ended up writing eleven books for them. Payment was modest, to say the least, but I gained valuable experience working with editors, learning what to look for in contracts, etc. This served me well; I later became among the first few authors with Christian fiction in the market.

Tip: Spend a half-hour researching the markets for every hour you spend writing.
  • Each time a new marketing book came out I studied it diligently. I crossed out  book publishers and magazines I knew I would never write for. I wrote notes in the margins when stated needs reminded me of something I knew or had experienced that might interest the editors.
  • I discovered there was a great need for personal experience stories and articles. Voila! Those I had.
  •  I learned about magazine rights. 
  • All rights meant just that. I could never resell elsewhere without permission from the first magazine or even include in a book--and they were under no obligation to grant it.
  • First rights meant the piece could not be offered anywhere until the magazine printed it, no matter how long it took.
  • First serial rights meant the right to publish first in a magazine.
  • One-time or simultaneous rights gave me the opportunity to send the same piece to several non-competing places at once. This worked especially well with denominational magazines where the same magazines or church papers  wouldn't be going into the same homes.

This knowledge eventually led to more than 1300 magazine sales in addition to my book sales.

I was recently asked where to get ideas. My photo albums offered ideas galore. 
"Pussy Willows and Hideouts," "The Glorious Fourth," "Mary, Come Back," "The Gift of Wishing," Never an Angel," "Always Lilacs and Fruit Jars" and dozens of other well-received personal experience stories sold again and again then became part of collections. 

Recalling family memories added idea treasure. High on the list was the summer Randy spent as a lookout fire-watcher on a mountain near out hometown.  We talked about how every night at six o'clock Dad, Mom, and I raised a white sheet on a tall pole and waved it toward the mountain from our home in the valley. Randy waved a sheet back to let us know he was okay. 

As we reminisced, I knew the story needed to be told. I had sold other books to Pacific Press. They agreed to consider this one so I wrote the story,based on what what happened, only with names changed. Readers of all ages were delighted.

Jack jerked up in bed. There they were again—low, sobbing cries, the saddest sounds he’d ever heard. Jack knew what they were. Cougars cried that way. How much use was his frail canvas tent if a cougar didn’t play by the rules?

Jack battled fear of the dark, of being alone, of what might happen when he was forced to tell a band of loggers they had to shut down operations because of fire danger.  

It would take all the grit inherited from pioneer ancestors for Jack to stick with the job until either the rains came or his summer of fear ended.

Good news.

A few used copies of the original book are available on

Summer of Fear has just been released on Kindle and as a new reprint by Pacific Press. 

Summer of Fear available at


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Writing Wonders and Woes #Fan Mail #Critics

Reader Responses: Good, Bad, and In-Between

Image result for google images, free clipart, thumbs down

How much importance do you give reader responses to your manuscripts? How do praise or criticism affect your opinion as to he work's worth?

 One of the things that Rudyard Kipling says in his Poem "If" will help a boy become a man is: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat these two impostors just the same. " 


We all like to be patted on the back but would do well to heed his advice. And to remember: we are not going to please all the people all the time



1. My one and only Biblical novel, Belated Follower, generated more and higher reader praise than all my other books in print at the time. Yet one reader did not like it at all. Why? "Too religious."

Note: I'm not sure what she expected from a clearly-marked Biblical novel.

2.  My books are noted for being squeaky clean. So my editor and I were stunned to receive a letter to this effect.

Crows' Nests and Mirrors (Heartsong Presents #64) 
"Colleen L. Reece was my favorite author. I trusted her, until she included terrible language in her latest book. If this is the kind of thing your company is going to publish, I will never read anything you issue again." 

I went back and read the book. So did my editor. There wasn't even the mildest profanity. We read it again. Nothing. We finally figured out the only word she might mean was "jackass," as in donkey/mule. 

I wrote asking her to please let us know the page number, adding,"If we don't know what it is, we can't promise it won't be repeated.' No response came. 

My editor sighed and said, "Well, such letters
keep us humble!"

Evaluating reader and critic response


 1. Who are making the comments? Well-meaning friends can only give you their opinions, colored by what kind of books they like to read. I am not strong for fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, etc. My standard comment to students is, "If you impress me in those genres, you will know your work is good."


2. What are their qualifications? It is easy to find people to comment. It is not always easy to discover those who can and will be honest without tearing work down (never helpful). Be especially careful if you are in a critique group. Praise or criticism from those who are not writing and studying to improve their skills is not constructive.


3. Evaluate the good, the bad, and the in-between. Are the comments valid? Do they fit your overall plan for your book? Will they help move the story forward? Are they objective? Back when editors did a whole lot more editing, I disliked being assigned to another romance novelist. Too often, suggestions were nothing more than picky comments stemming from, "If this were my book I would write it this way."


4. Welcome constructive criticism, but only from those you trust. A good friend and I proof and edit for each other. We look with eagle eyes, ask questions for clarity, find typos, but do not attempt to shape each other's stories unless asked to brainstorm or suggest alternatives for trouble spots.

 * * *

 Final word. I am currently mentoring a talented young woman. She is determined to succeed and beginning to sell.


Why? She asks insightful questions. Listens. Learns. Puts into practice the  knowledge I have gained over forty years of writing, editing, selling. I am proud of her. She deserves to win in the writing game.

Crows'-Nests and Mirrors

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Making Stories Special #Fiction Writing #Storytelling

Want to make your stories special and more salable? Add "takeaway."

 The key to unlocking successful stories and books is skillful storytelling. Adding "takeaway"makes them memorable. Ask yourself, "What other than a good read can readers take away from my story or book? Why will they remember it and want to reread it? And recommend it to their friends?"

"Takeaway" can be inspiration, information,encouragement, historical facts, a message woven into a story (never tacked on), etc. Anything that sets the story apart from others like it. Editors want to know why your manuscript deserves to be chosen over other similar submissions.

Example. Dorothy Gilman's wonderful Mrs. Pollifax series has two great takeaways in addition to can't-stop-reading mysteries. 1. Encouragement to pursue long-held dreams no matter what your age. 2. A wealth of information on countries throughout the world as readers visit and learn about cultures and customs along with Mrs. Pollifax.  


  Colleen Reece Chapbooks with takeaway

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. has purchased seven  of my children's/family-oriented story series. Chapbooks #1 and #2, were published in 2017. 
Chapbook #3, God's Answer Book just came out.

Five-year-old Aaron, his seven-year-old sister Lacey, and their friends Ali and Umeko, 6 and 7, are happy and thankful for all the good things in their lives. But when sad things happen to them and their neighbors, the children find help in their Bible "answer book."

Suggested age range for readers: 4-8, families.

"Takeaway" is: The Scriptures offer help for those times when life is gloomy and there is "too much rain in the rainbow."

Included are illustrations like these (chapters 1,2,12).

List of Colleen Reece Chapbooks
   (true growing-up experiences)

1. The Appleby Family Adventures
God cares for family at home and on the road.

2. Christmas Caroling Classics
 Where they came from.

STILL TO COME  > > > >

4. Good Neighbors

 Hunter, Alice, and their parents are moving. Will they have good neighbors in Cedar Village? Yes. Until the children get to know their new neighbors’ names, they make up nicknames (but only use them at home) such as
  • Mrs. Woman-in-a-Shoe
  • Mr. Doggie-Go-Home
  • Mrs. Talks-to-Herself
  • Grandma-Flower-Grower
5. Mudpuppies to Mountains (Becky was my mom)

God protects five-year-old Becky and her family when
  • she crosses a busy train track 
  • a gypsy tries to steal her sister
  • the family  moves from Michigan to Washington State in the early 1900s
  • family is quarantined for chickenpox
  • at last they moves to a logging town that has seven saloons, one grocery store, and a one-room schoolhouse. Grandpa builds the first church.
 6. Vagabond Summer (I am Carol)
 A great driving vacation from Washington State to New Mexico
  • terrible fog and a missing outhouse
  • Wyoming parade
  • a birthday surprise
The vagabond summer is unforgettable, most of all for the many times that God worked in miraculous ways to rescue the travelers.

7. Wishbooks and Promises
Every year, Carol Johnson (me) and my brothers looked forward to getting Christmas catalogs through the mail. The best "wishbook" offers promises to those who love the Lord. This knowledge helped us through many happy as well as hard times. For instance
  • being chased by a bull
  • making an unusual friend
  • failing to get the coveted part in the Christmas play
  • Uncle Ed’s prayer
  • finding a "magic" lamp
  • wishing for a bicycle 

 Take time to add takeaway.