Virtual Book Tours

Virtual book tours became prevalent very quickly. I’ve heard how great they are — mostly from the major publishers who don’t want to spend the money to send their authors on an unvirtual tour — that I wonder how worthwhile blog tours really are. I know the most popular book blogs do help get the word out, but it’s hard to get a guest spot on those blogs unless you have a publicity department behind you. Some people who have done tours think the tour helped with sales, other says not. Me? I’m still not sure. I did two tours, and neither seemed to make any difference in sales.

I’ve read that for most authors, the real benefit of doing a book signing in an offline store is the connection one makes with the bookseller, and perhaps the same holds true with a virtual book tour. I’ve made connections with other bloggers, introduced my books to people who would not otherwise have discovered them, and talked about my books with those who have read them.

Setting up a blog tour is easy, though time-consuming. You need to research blogs to find the best fit, and then you need to query the blogger. If you are invited to be a guest on the blog, you need to find out what is expected of you — an article, an interview, a giveaway — and you need make sure that every article you write, every response in an interview is different and appealing.

People will not follow your blog tour if you keep recycling the same article. Make sure you send your guest post, a bio, a photo of you, a photo of your cover days in advance. Then on the day the article is posted, you need to visit the blog several times and respond to comments.

A disconcerting aspects of my tours was how few bloggers did anything beyond posting the article. No mention on Facebook, no Twitter, no promotion of any kind. So, the main thing is, make sure you do what you can yourself to promote. Which meant, for me, two blog articles a day, one for the host, and one for my blog to promote the host. Plus Facebook status updates, posting the link on my profile, and Twittering.

The tours were fun and challenging, and I’ve certainly did what I could to launch my last two novels, but will I do it again? Possibly. I have a hunch the benefits of a tour are long term, and the more one does to get their name out there, the better the chance of getting known, but I’m still not convinced they were worth all the effort.

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Introducing Sheila Deeth, Author of Flower Child

Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and son, she enjoys reading,writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers’ group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

I first encountered Sheila Deeth during a writing contest on gather.com four years ago. I was impressed by the wonderfully encouraging and insightful remarks she made on the various entries, and during these ensuing years, we’ve continued our connection via our blogs, facebook, twitter, gather, and now google+. She is a staunch supporter of small press writers — her reviews are as encouraging and insightful as the comments she leaves on our blogs. I treasure the reviews she did of my books (reviews I did not ask for but were so generously given), and she’s introduced me to many wonderful new novels and novelists.

Today, it’s my turn to introduce a wonderful new novelist: Sheila Deeth. Sheila has mastered various story forms (including the shortest of forms, the 100-word and 50-word drabble), and today she is celebrating the release of her short novel, Flower Child with a blog tour, of which I am pleased to have a small part.

Her stories, book reviews and articles can be found in VoiceCatcher 4, Murder in the Wind (a mystery anthology published by Second Wind Publishing, which includes Sheila’s prize-winning story “Jack”), Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Today I am interviewing Sheila on my “Pat Bertram Introduces . . .” blog. Please stop by to say hi. If you have not yet met Sheila, please introduce yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Wishing Sheila all the best — she deserves it.

Click here to find the interview of: Sheila Deeth, Author of “Flower Child”

Click here to read an excerpt of: Flower Child

Snow White and the Seven Old Fogies

Snow White and the Seven Old Fogies.

Well, sort of.

Mary Stuart, the twenty-five-year-old hero of Daughter Am I, learns that her grandparents have recently been murdered and that she is their sole heir. This comes as rather a shock because her father always claimed they had died before she was born.

Wanting to find out who her grandparents were, why her father had disowned them and why someone wanted them dead, Mary sets out on a journey armed only with her grandfather’s address book. She travels from Colorado to Arizona to Kansas, Omaha, Illinois, searching out people her grandparents knew. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians:

Kid Rags, a dapper forger, seems to have two interests in life — drinking bourbon and eating copious amounts of food.

Crunchy, an ex-wrestler, threatens to crunch anyone who doesn’t treat Mary well.

Teach, a con man, tells Mary more than she ever wanted to know about gangsters, Wyatt Earp, and life.

Happy, an ex-wheelman for the mob, is ready with his gun though his hands shake too much to aim, let alone shoot.

Iron Sam, a dying hit man just released from prison, has his own, secret agenda.

Spaghetti once owned The Joker, a mob hangout where Mary’s grandparents worked when they were young.

Lila Lorraine, an ex-showgirl, was a friend of Mary’s grandmother and an ex-girlfriend of Iron Sam.

With companions such as these, how can Mary’s journey be anything but fun?

Daughter Am I by Pat Bertram is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, and Smashwords.

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Treasure Hunt!

Daughter Am I is a quest novel — a hunt for truth, a hunt for self, a hunt for gold — so what better way to celebrate the end of my Daughter Am I blog tour than with a treasure hunt! Unlike Mary, you don’t have to travel halfway across the country in the company of seven old rogues (well, six old rogues and one flirtatious old woman). All you to do is hunt for their names. I will even give you a clue. I mentioned the names a couple of times during my blog tour, so all you have to do is find the right article.

When you find all seven names, send an email to secondwindpublishing@gmail.com with your list, and you will be eligible for the real prize — the one and only proof copy of Daughter Am I, signed by the author . . . me. One person chosen at random from all those who send in correct responses will win the book. Who knows, one day it might be a collector’s item, and then you can exchange it for gold. As long as gold remains legal, that is. Teach doesn’t think it will. Oops. I gave away one of the names. So now you only have to find six others.

The hunt is on! Oh, did I mention there were seven octogenarians who accompanied Mary?

The contest ends November 30, 2009 at 11:59pm ET.

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Creating Perfection

Today I am at Mark David Gerson’s blog talking “All About Balance,” and he is here with an article about creating perfection. As you know, I’m planning to start writing again, so I am taking special heed of Mark David’s words. Mark David says:

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it. 
~ Salvador Dali

Are you frustrated? 

Do you struggle to find the perfect words that consummately evoke the depth of your passion or flawlessly paint the fullness of your vision? 

Are you frustrated because the words you have chosen seem inadequate, their ordering unsatisfactory?

You’re not alone. Many writers echo your frustration.

It’s a futile frustration, for language is an approximation. It’s a powerful but often inadequate device for translating experience and emotion into a form others can share.

When I originally wrote these words for an early draft of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, the sun was sliding through a marbled Hawaii sky toward the Pacific, its light skipping across wind-rippled waters.

If I was successful in that description, you will have seen some version of an ocean sunset. Some version, but not mine.

It may approach mine. It may approximate mine. Yet my words, as expertly as I may have deployed them, cannot create a Kodak moment. (Even Kodak can’t create a perfect Kodak moment.) My words are more likely to create an Impressionist moment.

That’s not a bad thing. It gives readers space to have their own experience, to paint their own pictures from the words you have freed from your pen.

Just as you can’t control the words that flow from you, you can’t control your reader’s experience of those words. Nor would you want to.

How often have you been disappointed by a film portrayal of your favorite literary character because your inner director cast the role more astutely than the movie director did?

Empower your readers to have their own experience and recognize that all you can do is translate your experience as heartfully as you’re able into little squiggles on a page. Begin by recognizing that most of the time you’re only going to come close. Continue by knowing that it remains within your power to have your words incite revolution, topple dynasties, overthrow “reality.”

That’s perfect enough for me. How about you?

Can you let go your natural human perfectionism long enough to let your story tell itself to you on the page? 

What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen. Describe what you see, what you feel, what you yearn for, what you love. Don’t try to be perfect.

Don’t try at all. Just allow. And know that from that place of surrender, you are creating perfection.

Mark David Gerson has taught and coached writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for nearly 20 years and is author two award-winning books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy. He has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers on CD. For more information on Mark David and his books, coaching, workshops, blog and radio show, visit www.markdavidgerson.com.

To rean an excerpt from The Moonquest: A True Fantasy by Mark David Gerson: click here

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Googling Sex With Your Sister

Who knew that googling sex with your sister was a bi-monthly activity? The last time I had a spike in blog readership it was due to an article I wrote when I discovered how many people were finding me using search terms involving sex with sisters. Sex With Sister Tips. Um…Yeah got 402 hits in July, 67 hits in August, 235 hits in September, 10 hits in October, and so far 280 hits in November. Each of these spikes in hits occurred within a short span of time, which makes me wonder what happens for a couple of days every other month that makes people want to know about having sex with their sister. On the other hand, perhaps I don’t want to know.

I’m going to miss perusing stats such as these, but if I’m going to be spending less time online, the stats will have to go. Though I find them fascinating, checking stats is an unproductive activity. Does it help me to know that blog readership is down? Does it help me to know that blog viewership is up due to sex with sister tips? Not really.

And why am I writing about this instead of promoting my blog tour? Because it’s more interesting than announcing that, once again, my host bailed on me. I posted the article on the Dragon My Feet blog so it didn’t go to waste, so if you want to see it, you can find it here: What Do You Do When You Have Too Much Background Information?

Lazarus Barnhill, a fellow Second Wind author has posted an interesting article: In Praise of Romance. It’s mostly about the Second Wind romance writers (so you won’t find my books listed), but it’s still worth taking a look at — for the question he asks, if nothing else: Can a man write a romance novel?

So what else is interesting? I spent the morning unfollowing people on Twitter who unfollowed me. If you want to find out who unfollowed you, go to Friend or Follow. It’s one of the more interesting Twitter-related programs I’ve seen in a long time. The unfollowing is the beginning of my new focus — quality, not quantity. I’m not going to automatically follow people just because they follow me. If my promotional actvities aren’t going to make me rich, then I’m going to have fun.

Speaking of fun, tomorrow should be a fun day. I’m going to be hosting romance author Judi Fennell here and at Dragon My Feet, and she will be hosting me at her blog. I will be talking about mountains and mermaids. Bet you never saw that one coming!

Don’t forget, you can download the first 30% of each of my books free at Smashwords.

Oh, and in case you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me here: Twitter

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First Lines and Free Time

Can you believe it? This is the thirtieth day of my Daughter Am I blog tour! Only five days left. Oh, dear . . . what am I going to do with all that free time? As if I don’t know.

For one thing, I’m going to get back to writing. I figure if I tell myself this enough, it will sink in and I will actually do it. I keep hoping I’ll stumble on a new idea to give me a renewed enthusiasm for the story, but perhaps that idea will come during the writing. I’ve been rereading what I’ve already written so I know what the story is, and it’s different, but then what’s the point of writing the same?

For another thing, I’ve decided to follow the story of A Spark of Heavenly Fire in real time on my blog. I just checked the book. The story begins on December 2. Whatever happened to December 1? That’s when the original story started. Apparently, when I condensed the first fifty pages, I decided to leave the rest of the timeline intact. The book originally began with Rachel Abram’s death on December 1, then the jogger’s death on December 2. Somehow in the rewrite, the order got reversed.

My original first line was: “There’s something terribly wrong with me,” Rachel Abrams said. “I feel great.” I always liked the idea of starting with that line, but sometimes we need to do what’s best for the story.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to focus on this tour — there are still articles about Daughter Am I to write, comments to respond to, and the end-of-the-tour party to plan. As if that’s not enough, my party will run concurrently with the Second Wind Publishing new release party. Daughter Am I will be in good company. JJ Dare’s new book False World has just been released, and so has One Too Many Blows to the Head by Eric Beetner and JB Kohl.

Today’s tour stops are all wonderful, and that’s due in no small part to my hosts.

I’m in South Africa with horror writer Joan De La Haye talking about: Creating Interesting Characters.

I’m talking Over Coffee with Sia McKye about: Running with a Gang of Rogues.

And I’m on Bobby Ozuna’s blog talking about: The Story Behind the Story–an Author Interviewed.

DAIClick here to find the Daughter Am I Blog Tour Schedule 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Amazon.

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Daughter Am I Blog Tour — Final Week!

My Daughter Am I blog tour is winding down — I have seven days to go (eight if you include today) and I don’t know whether to be sad or to rejoice. Since my promotion motto is “Promotion is just another word for party,” I decided to rejoice and have an end of blog tour party on the 22nd and 23rd. You are all invited, of course.

The most interesting aspect of the tour has been coming up with unique guest posts that highlight various elements of the story. Unique, in this case, meaning that all the posts for the tour were different. I range from talking about the hero’s quest, to gangsterism, to descriptions of my characters, to researching the book. This should, ideally,  give prospective readers a better idea of the story than a simple blurb.

I didn’t have a real tour for my first books. I just did a guest appearance on a few of my blogger friends blogs, but that was more of an international get-together than a real tour. Always one for a challenge, I halfway considered going ahead and doing a tour for those books now, but then I really would never get back to writing and, as hard as turning off the computer in the evening is going to be, I am ready to finish my work-in-progress. If nothing else, its completion will be another excuse for a party!

The point I’m stumbling over here is that I’m thinking of doing a series of articles in December similar to my blog tour posts, but focusing on my first two books, especially A Spark of Heavenly Fire. After all, odd though it may seem considering that I decimate Colorado with a bioengineered disease, it is a Christmas story. Since the story leads up to Christmas, I wonder if my blog could mirror those fictional December days without my giving away the story. Something to think about.

DAIClick here to find the Daughter Am I Blog Tour Schedule 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Amazon.

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Thinking Inside the Box

Sometimes it amazes me that there is an entire world one can enter through the portal of a electronic box. The only reason this doesn’t always amaze me is that I tend to take the Internet for granted, which, perhaps, is a sign of my addiction. The cyber world is infinitely fascinating and filled with exciting possibilities. A potential friend could lurk behind an anonymous blog view. A possible fan might discover one of my books because of a guest appearance on a blog. I might learn something new on a discussion thread, or I might read a comment that fires my imagination.

I’ve put my addiction to the Internet to good use. I’ve wanted to do all I can to give my books a good send-off, and since I started from zero, I had to learn how to blog, to discuss, to connect on the internet. That in itself satisfied my creative bent for a long time, but now the doubts are starting to creep in. I’m getting known as a blogger and a promoter, but am I getting known as an author?

At Sun Singer’s Travels, author Malcolm Campbell asks: Are you tired of spending more hours a week on Facebook than you are writing? Are you tired of writing more words on all your blogs than you’re writing in all your novels? And, do you ever wonder if you’re becoming less yourself by trying to think of a constant stream of posts, status updates, comments and links that match all the latest trends enough that somebody will notice and stop and look for a moment?

Such interesting questions, ones I hadn’t asked myself until recently. I used to think that I am more myself online than offline, but now I am beginning to wonder if I am losing my offline self. Are my posts and comments reflecting me, or are they creating me? Am I still a writer, or have I simply become a blogger? I know that whatever I am doing is helping establish my online presence, but will it sell books?

I do believe in the Internet. I think the future of books (or at least my books) will come from online promotion, but I’ve begun to realize that promotion is a marathon, not a sprint. It also seems silly at times, a matter of “The House that Jack Built.” Every day I write and promote an article on my blog that promotes the blog where I have another article that’s supposed to promote the book that I wrote. Whew! Sometimes I even write a second article to promote the one on my blog that promotes the one on someone else’s blog that promotes the book that I wrote.

I have ten days left of my Daughter Am I blog tour, and then it will be time to re-evaluate my online life.

All these words just to announce today’s blog tour stop: The Challenge of Research. You can also register to win a free print copy of Daughter Am I.

Description of Daughter Am I: When twenty-five-year-old Mary Stuart learns she inherited a farm from her recently murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she becomes obsessed with finding out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. Along the way she accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians — former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. She meets and falls in love Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. Now Mary and Tim need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret.

Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

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Musings From My Notebooks

Today is the 24th day of my Daughter Am I blog tour, and I am wearing down a bit. Mostly that’s because I’m still staying up way too late, though recently those long hours on the computer have nothing to do with my tour. Well, that’s not strictly true — my mind has been going blank when it comes time to write the next guest blog, so I play games on my computer while I try to rev up ideas, but it’s not helping. I have tomorrow’s guest post written, but for the next day I’ve agreed to write an article about giving thanks, and I have no idea what to say. I am thankful for many things — for my online friends, for my fans (odd to think I actually have fans!), for my publisher who understands my books even better than I do — and yet it’s not the sort of article I would want to read, so I’m looking for a different angle — a hook — and not finding it.

Lately I’ve been searching through my old Daughter Am I notebooks for ideas. It’s odd for me to see all the preparation I did for the novel, all the stray thoughts I jotted down, all the reminders.  Here’s one of my reminders: Have Teach tell Mary that the whole point of the Syndicate was for them to become big enough and strong enough to make deals with but time politicians, to go into partnership with the biggest criminal of all — the government.  Teach apparently has no use for the government, but then, he has no use for most societal organizations, not even the mob despite his distant ties to organized crime. 

Here’s a note that came from a book by economist Antony Sutton: “History suggests that gold will once again be made illegal in the U.S. and subject to arbitrary seizures by a police-state apparatus.”  I wonder why I didn’t use that for the book? Perhaps I didn’t want to dilute the shock of that happening in 1933.

You can find more musings from my notebooks at Meritorious Mysteries, where I am guest blogging today.  Now if I can only find something to be thankful for!

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