Mark Terry

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Me & Stephen Parrish Talk Book Marketing

April 30, 2010
My friend Stephen Parrish’s first novel, THE TAVERNIER STONES, has hit the shelves and I encourage you to rush out to your favorite bookstore, online or bricks-and-mortar, and buy yourself a copy. It ain’t for nothin’ that I’m quoted on the back as saying, Relentlessly fascinating, Stephen Parrish’s Tavernier Stones is reminiscent of Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol ... It’s one hell of a good time.

Then, once you get the book, read it and pop on over to and start Stephen’s online treasure hunt to win a real one-carat diamond. Which brings us to today’s post, which is a lengthy conversation Stephen and I had online about book promotion, particularly as it relates to book signings. Stephen’s convinced (as am I) that online promotion is more effective and efficient than book signings (particularly for Stephen, who lives in Germany). Here we go:

Mark: I tell my wife that book signings are Writers Penance. It's something we do for the sins of enjoying ourselves writing. A friend of mine recently said to me, "But I thought you said book signings don't work. Why are you doing so many?" To which I said, "It makes my publisher happy." I think there are some rationale for doing them, but we'll get to that. What do you think?

Steve: I think it's sales that make the publisher happy, not spinning wheels. Given a choice between an author who sells and doesn't do signings, and an author who doesn't sell but pounds ground, bless his heart, which do you think the publisher is going to contract for a follow-on book?

I have to admit, right from the start, I'm so new in this business that I haven't done a single signing. But I've been listening for years to reports by writer friends, including you, and as I plan my promotional activities during the next several months, I question why I should consider putting book signings on the agenda at all.

Mark: Well, let's talk about, from my point of view, the reasons for doing book signings. First of all, it's not usually about selling books. Generally speaking, when you're starting out, nobody's going out of their way to visit a bookstore to buy your book and meet you. A few in the store, maybe some friends and relatives, and then those folks who just like to meet authors or who have a particular penchant for new authors. The thing I hear most is that you're building a relationship with booksellers. I have a somewhat skeptical attitude about this. For independent bookstores, yeah, that's probably true (and they're disappearing daily). I don't have many indie bookstores near me, so it's never been much of an issue. For the chain stores, Borders, B&N, etc., I'm not convinced this is a big deal. The stores have too much turnover in terms of their employees for most of them to get to know you one way or the other; they move too many books to be too dazzled by an author who will be lucky to move a handful or more at a signing event. Much of the events for both are handled through corporate headquarters, although that policy's shifted a bit for Borders. The last few years Borders events were handled almost strictly by a regional events coordinator and if that person hadn't heard of you, you were pretty much locked out of 20 or 30 stores in a region. There's apparently been a partial shift back toward individual store events, but I had the unusual experience of the event coordinator at a Borders I signed at telling me he checked out my Amazon ranking before he agreed to host my signing. (He'd probably get fired for that, wouldn't you think?)

So, having pointed out the limitations, what are the pluses? In order to get a book placed on a central table at the front of the store or somewhere else prominent, publishers need to pay for that real estate (co-op) and it costs thousands of dollars. So most don't unless you're making the publisher millions of dollars. But by doing a signing and autographing stock, it gives the stores themselves an incentive to put your books out on those front tables with an AUTOGRAPHED COPY sticker on them, which draws some attention to the book. It used to be that bookstores couldn't return signed copies, thus forcing them to actually try and sell them, but those days are over. Who of us hasn't bought autographed remainders? If the stores put out a newsletter and put an ad on their website or sometimes even in the local newspapers, that's good marketing for you. One of the stores I signed at recently had a big poster made up with both me and my book cover on it and put it in the window of the store for a good week prior to the signing. I couldn't possibly pay for that kind of advertising, but I got it essentially for free. Sometimes local media will pay more attention to you because you're doing signings and that can lead to some media time in print or radio or TV, although that's sort of hit-and-miss. It's a nice way to meet up with your readers. I just did a signing at the Royal Oak Barnes & Noble and the first person to buy my book was somebody who had bought my other two a month ago at my signing in Ann Arbor at Aunt Agatha's. I don't know if he came specifically for that, but I definitely appreciated that kind of interest in my books. Otherwise, well, Writers Penance.

Hey, tell me more about your online activities. I did a blog tour (still sort of ongoing, although more low-keyed) and I'd highly recommend it. But you've got something cool going on.

Steve: I'm all for building relationships with booksellers, but the problem with book signings is, they're extremely inefficient. How far did you have to drive to conduct your last signing? To build a relationship with a couple of bookstore employees? Who might not be working there three months from now, or remember your name next week? An autograph certainly adds value to a book, and if you're passing through town, by all means stop at the bookstores and sign stock. But should you make a road trip specifically for that purpose?

Joe Konrath is my hero and guru. He stands on a pedestal. But he's speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand he argues, brilliantly, that the publishing world is transforming. It's going digital, and the curve is about to exponentiate. Publishers need to wipe the pigeon shit out of their eyes. The dogmas of the past are no longer valid, if they ever were. Out of the other side of his mouth he continues to urge writers to pound ground and grip-and-grin in the same old pre-internet ways they were limited to in pre-internet times. When you have the theoretical capability of reaching millions of people without getting up from your desk, why would you spend a day driving across the state to reach a handful?

We need to focus on more efficient ways to reach readers. I've been looking at press release services, for example, and I can't find one geared for writers. They all want to know whether I'm targeting the African American community, for instance, or high income families. Jews. Scuba divers. You name it. We need press release and newsletter services that target readers, book clubs, and the like. We need to use Skype and video conferencing to speak to groups more efficiently. We need to direct our energy in ways that capitalize on the technology available to us, and if necessary we need to develop those ways ourselves. Wouldn't that make our publishers happy?

Mark: I think sales would make them happy and seeing that you’re invested in marketing somehow. My publishers pushed book signings, but I’m sure they’d be pleased if I came up with something else creative to find a tipping point. The other problem I see with book signings in general has to do with the actual number of bookstores in the U.S., which is a number that’s sort of hard to come by. Supposedly there are fewer than 2,000 independent bookstores, about 517 Borders stores, and about 777 Barnes & Nobles. So throw in probably less than a thousand more, let’s estimate there are maybe 4,000 bookstores in the U.S. Although I know Joe Konrath visited about 1,200 of them, I can’t think of very many other authors who, even on an ambitious tour, hit more than a hundred or so. And I know that just hitting a dozen can be pretty time consuming and exhausting. And I’m not sure how doing 12 signings really creates a bump in your national presence. We need to start local and hope word-of-mouth spreads, but you’re right, the Internet gives us a wider reach for a lot less time and energy. I thought my blog tour was far more effective than the book signings and a lot less tiring.

Steve: Joe has the personality to do what Joe does. Few of the rest of us share his talents. I'm perfectly comfortable speaking in public, in fact I enjoy it. But I've seen my share of fellow speakers sitting next to me on or off stage, waiting their turn, frightened so badly they're shaking. I wouldn't advise such people to speak on behalf of their books. For my own part, I don't have the personality to cold-approach customers in a book store, as Joe is so effective at doing. If I didn't know him I'd make a wide circle to avoid him, just as I do for the people who try to get me to sample cheese or whatever in the grocery store. Book signings may be right for some people, and it's probably right for everybody if they stick to their local communities (because there's no travel expense involved; my beef is not about the activity, rather its efficiency). But I don't think it should be automatically assumed that the author is going to incorporate them in his or her marketing plan.

I'm an amateur winemaker. Suppose I wanted to market my wine nationally (forget the plethora of legal obstacles). Spending my afternoons in liquor stores, trying to get the guy who came in to buy a bottle of tequila to buy my Riesling instead, would be just about the dumbest approach I could take. Yet that's what's routinely expected of authors. I live in Germany; someone in Austin Texas has suggested that if I don't travel there to do a book signing he'd set up for me then I'll be "blowing a precious opportunity." The public, and most of the writing community, it seems, has the notion that book signings are simply the thing to do, regardless of whether they're effective or efficient.

I'm going to try some online schemes in the coming weeks and months. One of them, an armchair treasure hunt tied to my novel, is already underway. I'll come back to let you know how things turned out. I've got a couple of local events set up as well, and you probably won't have to pry a report out of me about those.

Mark: At least you’d get to drink your wine. I agree with you totally about Joe, by the way (Hi, Joe!). What works for him doesn’t necessarily work for the rest of us poor schlubs. But I’m still speechlessly trying to come to grips with the fact that Joe’s your hero and guru. Aside from that break with sanity, I think you’re on the right track and I think your treasure hunt will catch on and you’ll sell a few million books. I’m sure that would make both you and your publisher. happy.


April 29, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Fresh Fiction today. Am I Derek Stillwater? Read "Doppelganger" and find out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10 Questions

April 28, 2010
My blog tour continues today with 10 Questions by Rob Gregory Browne over at Murderati. Check it out and take part!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Auditioning Characters

April 26, 2010
I've started working on the fifth Derek Stillwater novel, which takes place in Russia. Because I was looking for a character with a Russian name and I often need Derek to work with someone official, I created a character working in the US Embassy in Moscow whose name is Erica Kirov. For those of you who don't know, my writer friend Erica Orloff, whom I typically refer to as The Divine Ms. O, writes a series of children's books under the name Erica Kirov.

Although I find this sort of thing amusing--in the fourth book, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS, scheduled for late June 2011, I have named a number of Homeland Security staff after writers I know. But those are more along the lines of cameo appearances. Erica Kirov in the fifth book was going to be a major character and yes, she probably was going to have some characteristics of the Erica I know.

Now, I've mentioned before that I don't outline. So although I have some broad notions of where the book was going to go and do, I don't really know many of the details. But I was actually finding the idea of basing this character loosely on my friend to be rather impeding. Then something happened that I thought was sort of interesting, and it's the sort of thing that happens to seat-of-pants writers all the time.

I introduced several new characters. One of them is a Russian FSB agent (the FSB was the predecessor to the KGB) named Konstantin Nikitinov. Derek and Konstantin do not exactly hit it off. But as I was working on the manuscript, I realized just how much what these two terrorism experts want to achieve dovetails. But now Derek is on Konstantin's territory and there's a lot of friction. And I realized that it's entirely possible that these two men are going to be forced by circumstances to work with each other and to have to trust each other.

I haven't figured out what to do with Erica Kirov yet. I think she will be a major character, but not as major as she was before Konstantin stepped onstage. She and Derek were just getting along too well, and although that's good in real life, it doesn't necessarily make for the best fiction.

But the point is, I refer to this process as "auditioning characters." When I first started working on this novel I had some ideas where I was going and who some of the characters were. But sometimes you introduce a character or two or three and they start to take over. It's not something I quite plan. It's something magical. For instance, in The Fallen, I hadn't planned on writing about the character of El Tiburon (Pablo Juarez). And even if I had, I didn't realize how major and pivotal a character he would turn out to be (and thank the muses for it, because he improved the hell out of the book). He was there at the beginning and it was only as I got to know him and he started to do his job that I realized how important and potent a character he was.

How about you? Do you audition characters?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jude Hardin Interviews Stephen Parrish

April 24, 2010
Two my writer buddies--two for the price of one!, count them, two!--have an interview up. Jude Hardin interviews Stephen Parrish.

Just FYI, I've known these two guys for a couple years from blog interactions, ie., I met them online (and who says online dating doesn't work?), and they were both unpublished. Stephen's first novel, The Tavernier Stones, will be officially published May 1, 2010 although it's already available in bookstores, and Jude's first novel, Pocket-47, is scheduled for next year. I'm pleased as punch--AS PUNCH, whatever that means--that this has happened.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Not Success or Failure

April 23, 2010
Last night I drove 60+ miles down to Ann Arbor to the downtown Borders store for what I thought was a book signing. It's a big store, basically the company's flagship store, two stories, huge. I didn't see a table set up when I came in, so I flagged down an employee who called the CRM who showed up and said, "We're set up upstairs." So stepping off the stairs, I see a lectern, microphone and about 70 chairs. "Uh, am I giving a talk?" I ask. "Yes, although there's not many people here. We'll give them a few minutes."

Hmmm. Well, I've been talking for something like 45 years, so I'm capable. The problem was there were basically two people (technically 5, but I'll get to that) in the "audience." One woman with her two kids, a guy, and a woman who seemed to be reading something else and not paying any attention at all. I suspected she just wanted a place to sit down.

I skipped the lectern completely and essentially did a 50-minute Q&A with the people, primarily the man and woman, who had a million questions. Then I believe I sold 2 books--one to the guy and one to the CRM who said it sounded like the kind of book he'd like. Then I signed a dozen copies for the store, and my wife and I headed home an hour earlier than expected.

It's possible to view this as a failure and I would have a couple years ago. But I've been approaching the whole book promotion thing with a different attitude this time around. First, having had stall-points in my novel-writing career, I've decided I'd rather be a novelist than not be a novelist, and some promotion is part of the gig.

If I really wanted to, I could just refuse to do the signings. I'm not really convinced they sell many books and certainly on a book-by-book basis they don't. But I sold at least 2 books more than I did before showing up and now the Ann Arbor Borders has a dozen or so signed copies with stickers on them that will be placed somewhere prominent in the store, which will garner more interest from readers which hopefully will result in sales. Also, you can always hope one of those readers will be a "sneezer," ie., the type of reader who will then recommend your book to all his/her friends.

Also, some of this you do to make your publisher happy. My time's valuable, but they've put an investment into the book as well and seem to think that signings make a difference. They don't hurt sales, although I suppose it's possible that some stores get over-excited and order too many copies which are going to eventually get returned, hurting your overall sales record. But you have no control over that whatsoever. I've called book signings "Writer's Penance" from time to time because it's the price you pay to sit in your office playing with imaginary friends.

So was it a success or a failure?

Why does it have to be either? It just what it was. Another shoulder to the boulder that is book promotion. It may not have budged much last night, but it didn't slide backwards on me either. I've been published. I've sold some books. I've got some readers. And last night I put on a show for a couple people with the same kind of energy I would try to bring if there had been 100 people there.

Only you can define success or failure.

I'm reminded of two stories. One is, the first time I sold an article for money ("Blue Heaven" published in Traverse Magazine in 1993) it took a while to get the check (an experience I've had to repeat many times since). I was at lunch with my wife and a friend of ours that worked at Ford Hospital and I mentioned it had been published, but I hadn't gotten paid yet. The woman said, "If doesn't count if you don't get paid." Yes, that pissed me off and I snapped, "It counts the minute I write it." (To which, 17 years later, I want to add, "you stupid bitch.")

Years ago I caught an interview with Elmore Leonard. Leonard had been banging around the publishing and screenwriting world for quite some time. He didn't turn to writing novels full-time until his 5 or 6th novel and his "breakout" novel was "Glitz" which was something like his 20th novel. The TV person asked him when he felt like a successful novelist. Was it when he was able to write full time? Was it when one of his books got turned into a movie? Was it when he hit the New York Times Bestseller List?

Leonard said, fairly casually, "I've always felt like a success."

Learn from the master, boys and girls. Learn from the master.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Tour Wrap-Up

April 22, 2010
I'm basically done with my blog tour, although there might be a couple more here and there. I would like to thank everyone who hosted me. You've been great. And I'll be glad to return the favor. There are a number of terrific writers with great books on this list, so think about picking up a book or two or three and checking them out if you haven't already.

Robin Agnew, owner of Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor not only hosted my launch party and book signing, but let me guest blog for her on the Hey, There's A Dead Guy in the Living Room blog. Thanks for both, Robin! My piece was called Let's Dance and was posted on March 13, 2010.

Tobias Buckell, SF novelist of Sly Mongoose, Ragamuffin, Crystal Rain and Halo: The Cole Protocol, hosted me for "It's All Science Fiction, Right?"

I was over on The Page 69 Test.

Julia Buckley, author of The Dark Backward, interviewed me on her blog.

JA Konrath, author of so many things I don't know where to start--the Lt. Jacqueline Daniels novels under JA Konrath, a novel called Afraid under the name Jack Kilbourne, and a whole slew of things as inexpensive e-books on Kindle and other sources. I blogged about my adventures in e-book publishing, which resulted in my e-book, DANCING IN THE DARK, popping onto three of Amazon's Kindle bestseller lists for a couple days.

Jude Hardin, whose first novel, POCKET-47, will be released on May 2011, hosted me to talk about Launch Roller Coasters.

Natasha Fonden, who jealously guards her pseudonym's identity in a way that would make Clark Kent blush and Tony Stark chortle in derision, hosted me for I FEEL BROAD ALREADY.

The Divine Ms. O, AKA Erica Orloff, AKA Erica Kirov, AKA Tess Hudson, AKA... and author of, among many things, FREUDIAN SLIP (Orloff) and MAGICKEEPERS (Kirov), hosted me for HURDLER.

Stephen Parrish, The Great & Terrible, whose first novel, THE TAVERNIER STONES has JUST ESCAPED!, and who is hosting a worldwide online treasure hunt with a REAL LIVE ONE-CARAT DIAMOND as the prize for winning, interviewed moi.

Eric Mayer, who just released his eighth, yes, eighth! novel featuring John the Eunuch, AKA John, Grand Chancellor to Emperor Justinian that he writes with his wife Mary Reed, titled EIGHT FOR ETERNITY, hosted me for DIG A LITTLE.

My Book, The Movie blog hosted me as well. (Same gent who runs the Page 69 Test blog).

Gerrie Finger Ferris, author of the new and/or recently released novel, THE END GAME, hosted me for TOUGH GUYS DON'T DANCE--WELL.

My friend Ron Estrada, with whom I have little or no political agreement or overlap, hosted me on PET PROJECTS.

Joe Moore, who co-wrote several thrillers including THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY and THE 731 LEGACY with Lynn Sholes, hosted me on The Kill Zone blog for WRITING FOR A LIVING.

Jon Van Zile, otherwise known as LurkerMonkey, hosted me for UNTIL. Jon is a freelance writing compadre and future bestselling writer of kids' books (I'm convinced).

Tom Schreck, author of the Duffy Dombrowski novels, such as OUT COLD and TKO and ON THE ROPES hosted me for TODAY'S BRAND NAME BOOK QUIZ.

Travis Erwin, hairy Texas guy (loved by women and children, feared by fish) interviewed me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blog Tour Complete?

April 21, 2010
Well, the blog tour is more or less completed. I'll be visiting a site late next week. Once I have time--probably not today--I will recap all the sites I visited. Thanks for everyone who hosted.

If there are readers here whose blog I have not visited, but you would like me to, please contact me and I'll extend the blog tour.

Mark Terry

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Gerrie Finger Ferris

April 20, 2010
I'd like to welcome guest blogger Gerrie Finger Ferris today. Gerrie is the winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition for her novel, THE END GAME. Her character, Moriah Dru, is particularly adept at finding missing people. In THE END GAME she's spending time with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, when an Atlanta juvenile court judge hires her to find two sisters who've disappeared after their foster parents' house burns down.

Publishers Weekly said: "A hunt for two young sisters propels Finger's compelling if at times sobering debut... A well-researched plot and snappy dialogue--plus some fine rail-yard K-9 detecting by Buddy, a German shepherd, and Jed, a Labrador retriever--keep the action moving."

So, everyone, please welcome Gerrie.

Readers seem never to tire of amateurs from all walks of life who find bodies and get involved in solving murders as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

An Atlanta policeman I know, and who's been on the force twenty-four years, says he's never run across a murdered body without it being reported first. "Once when I was a beat cop, a man fell down and died on Marietta Street," he said. "I 'found' the body, but he'd had a stroke."

Agatha Christie's heroes were all amateurs who bumped into bodies every couple of months, either in the library, the vicarage or on the Nile. Agatha at times seemed to think these serendipitous findings were hard to swallow, even with the ex-cop (Surete), Hercule Poirot doing the investigating. She tried to give him the boot, but fans wouldn't have it. One of her other characters, Miss Marple, evidently never married, nor worked, but Agatha gave her a nephew, Raymond West, to support her as she eyed everyone in the village, or on her travels to London or the Caribbean, for criminal traits.

Eccentricity was de rigueur for early armchair dicks. Their sidekicks were stooges and their police connections were blockheads. Sherlock Holmes exemplifies this type with Watson and Lestrade, although Sherlock was known to get about the moors and waterfalls. He is said to be based on Edgar Allen Poe's C. August Dupin, who used rationcination to detect the villians instead of the famous little gray cells in Poirot's head.

My favorite armchair detective is Nero Wolfe. Archie Goodwin's no dolt, but a suave legman (and dancer, too, just ask Lily Rowan). Wolfe's eccentricities would render him friendless in today's world, but he was loved by all, even women, for four decades beginning in the 1930s. His method of detection was to gather the suspects and question them until the truth (which he already knew) came out, many times with the cops in the room. I wonder if Rex Stout ever got tired of Nero?

I can't write characters and plots like these because I like action, a mystery/thriller with a high believable quotient – hard-boiled rather than cozy, though themes of justice and courage exist in both. My heroine in The End Game is Moriah Dru, a cop-turned-child-finder. Her lover, Richard Lake, is still on the police force, which is convenient (and not uncommon) to help her with the private investigations that come her way. Their repartee may be humorous at times, but their mission is recovering the abducted children and retribution.

We revere by-gone armchair detectives because they were created from the fabric of their times. They are still entertaining millions because their values hold true to our times, too. They are the predecessors of the new amateur detective which includes birds and other animals, series with numbers and alphabets, and a host of punny titles that also sell in the millions. Some genres only mutate.

May we always have armchair detectives.

Thank you, Mark, for allowing me to ramble on "This Writing Life". It's been a pleasure.

Gerrie Ferris Finger

Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview With Travis Erwin

April 19, 2010
Travis Erwin interviewed me on his blog here. Stop on by and make fun of my hair.

Mark Terry

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Non-Writer Question I Found Most Amusing (In a horribly ironic sort of way)

April 18, 2010
Had another typical/successful book signing yesterday.

Today we got together with friends. We were talking and I mentioned all my book signings. One of my friends said, "Do you get paid for those?"

Meaning: Does the bookstore or your publisher pay you to go to a book signing?

Your hysterical laughter may now commence.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brand Name Character Quiz

April 16, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Tom Schreck's blog today. Take the Brand Name Character Quiz!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

When Should You Quit?

April 15, 2010
I'm guesting blogging over at Jon Van Zile's place today, otherwise known as LurkerMonkey. The title is: Until.

Stop by & say hi.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing For A Living

Just until I can get it laid out, just in case

April 14, 2010
I'm over at The Kill Zone blog today, writing about, er, writing for a living. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pet Projects

April 13, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Ron Estrada's blog today on Pet Projects. Come on over and say hi.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Tough Guys Don't Dance ... Well

April 12, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Gerrie Ferris Finger's site today, and the title is: Tough Guys Don't Dance ... Well. Check it out and say hi!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

THE FALLEN--the movie

April 11, 2010
Who do I think would make a great Derek Stillwater if a film were made? I give my thoughts on that at My Book, The Movie blog. Check it out and share your opinion.

Mark Terry

Book Signings update

April 11, 2010
Yesterday I had a book signing at the Barnes & Nobles in Allen Park, Michigan.

Unlike the signing/launch party at Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor, this signing was more typical.

My wife decided to accompany me for the first time. I'm begging her to accompany me to the downtown Ann Arbor Borders signing on Thursday April 22nd for navigational assistance, but otherwise I don't imagine this is something she wants to do again. She took the iPad and eventually lay claim to a comfy chair and spent it reading and surfing.

They ordered about 30 books, which is a fair amount, given the price point of The Fallen. There was a big poster in the window and a good-sized poster inside and I was set up just inside the door with a small table.

At the last signing at Aunt Agatha's I had bought a $25 gift card to give away in a drawing. I decided to try that at B&N, so I bought 2 $25 gift cards to give away, and when they made the announcement at 2:00 that I was there, they also told people to sign up for a free raffle to win a gift card. Nobody came.

So as people entered the store I said, "Hello! Would you be interested in entering a raffle to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card? The drawing's in about 15 minutes."

Here's the weird thing. I would say 4 out of 5 people said, "No."

Really. All they had to do was sign their name on a piece of blank paper and drop it in a basket for a chance at a $25 gift card FOR THE STORE THEY JUST ENTERED, and most said no. I think people either think there's a string attached, are paranoid, or lazy. I just don't know. Maybe I should have said "for the price of a signature I'm GIVING AWAY FREE MONEY!"

I got 9 entries, did the drawing, and the guy who won the first card was a guy who was already going to buy the book anyway.

So I gave the 2nd gift card to my wife in appreciation for her coming with me.

I still think this is a great idea for small stores or small groups or library talks, but for big stores, mmmm, not so sure. It didn't do what I hoped it would do.

So I spent about 2 hours having odd conversations with people, selling a few books, staring at book and magazine covers near where I was, texting my wife, and generally telling myself that book signings aren't about selling books, per se, but about getting your name known, signing store stock, meeting people at bookstores, getting to know bookstore people, getting your name listed in local newspaper listings as doing signings, and about making your publisher happy that you're making an effort to promote your book.

Then we drove home.

I've got another one next Saturday in Beverly Hills, Michigan, which I'll mention later in the week, or you can check for yourself on my news page.

Mark Terry

Friday, April 09, 2010

Dig A Little

April 9, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Eric Mayer's blog and the topic is research.

And by the way, Eric and his wife Mary Reed's latest novel featuring John, Grand Chancellor to Emperor Justinian, is just out, titled EIGHT FOR ETERNITY. Check it out.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Guest Blog & Interview

April 8, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at the Divine Ms. O's blog today and Stephen Parrish has a lengthy interview with moi up on his blog. Wow, twice the Mark Terry! Can you stand it?

Stop on by!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Feel Broad Already

April 7, 2010
(That's I feel broad, Jude, not I feel a broad. Sheesh!)

I'm guest blogging at Natasha Fondren's blog today on travel and writing. Check it out and say hi.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Launched Rollercoaster

April 6, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Jude Hardin's today. The title is Launched Rollercoaster. Kinda makes you wonder, ey? Stop on by and say hi.

Mark Terry

Mark Terry, Bestselling Author

April 6, 2010
I hit the bestseller list yesterday. Yup. My e-novel, DANCING IN THE DARK, probably thanks to my blog post on Joe Konrath's blog, hit #42 on the Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue bestseller list and #78 (today, yesterday it was higher) on the Action & Adventure list.

I suppose it's official, I can call myself a bestseller.

So, how many copies did I sell in the last 24 hours?

Are you sure you want to know?


(But actually made it onto the list with 12).

That's kind of an education in and of itself, isn't it?

Monday, April 05, 2010

E-Books & Me

April 5, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Joe Konrath's blog, discussing e-books. C'mon by.

Julia Buckley also has an interview with me up on her blog.

Mark Terry

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Page 69 Test

April 4, 2010
Happy Easter, for those of you who celebrate it.

I'm guest blogging over on Marshal Zeringue's blog, The Page 69 Test today. Check it out.

Mark Terry

Friday, April 02, 2010

It's All Science Fiction, Right?

April 2, 2010
I'm guest blogging over at Tobias S. Buckell's blog today. "It's All Science Fiction, Right?" Pop on over and say hi.

Mark Terry

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mark Terry, TV Star

April 1, 2010
Yesterday I spent much of the day on the road. I was invited to do an interview for a cable TV show, Cult Pop, that goes out to a dozen or so communities in the downriver areas. (Downriver basically means south-of-Detroit around here). Jim Hall, who is the host and producer, and Jerry Jesion who is the director, are great guys and pretty they ARE the show. Numbers are a little hard to come by, apparently, but they have a viewership of 8,000 to 10,000 people or so (I commented to my wife that it's probably a little bit like "Wayne's World" without, you know, the moronic behavior).

Although the show to some extent covers local events, the real focus is to interview authors, and if you check out the website you can see they've interviewed quite a few. This is the second time I've been on the show.

Anyway, here's is a little rundown of the glam life of the author being invited to a TV show (and I'll add that I've probably done 5 or 6 TV interviews for various book promotion things, usually either cable-access shows or in one case Indiana PBS, although I don't know if that ever ran).

8:00ish. Hit the road to Woodhaven, which is about 65 miles from where I live. It took me about 90 minutes, give or take, without too many stops-and-starts due to driving through Detroit rush hour.

9:40--arrived at Jerry's house. The show used to be filmed in a studio at Comcast, but that was when Jim was employed by them. He's not freelance, so they've moved the studio to Jerry's house, who has all the equipment anyway. I would add that, having been in a couple TV studios, the house was a lot nicer. Studios tend to be empty rooms with green screens or black felt backdrops, cement floors and bare walls.

We chatted for a bit, then clipped on the mic, did a sound test, then jumped. I never can tell how long these interviews last. I hear it was about 14 minutes, but the time flew by. Part of that is, I think, that I try to concentrate and be focused during these things, and part of it is that Jim's a great guy and I like chatting with him.

So, maybe 10:30 or so we were done taping. We stood and or sat around talking while Jerry packed up his cameras. Originally Jerry and I were going to go out for lunch, but it was pretty early; Jim's wife was in the hospital so he needed to leave; and I needed to drive back home in time to pick up my oldest son at school and to rescue the dog before he ate his way through the drywall in the entryway.

So, 11:00ish, I got in the car, drove another 90 minutes or so back home, stopped and picked up a quick lunch, got home, walked the dog, went to pick up my son, went for a run, then checked email and did miscellaneous busywork because I was too tired and distracted to do anything that required much concentration.

I'm so glam.

Oh, and for anyone interested, I have a print interview with Jeff Ayers on the ITW's The Big Thrill today.