Thursday, December 6, 2012

Best Way to Improve Sales: Give Readers a Free Sample!

Have you ever heard of Mrs. Fields. She’s the lady that makes those great homemade chocolate chip cookies. Do you know how she became Mrs. Fields? Besides marrying Mr. Fields.
Answer: She gave out free samples.
Mrs. Fields made up a platter of her cookies and walked up and down the street handing out free cookies. Yep! She gave them away! Then, once customers became hooked, they started buying those cookies by the bag-full and Mrs. Fields became the Queen of Cookies!
So, when my publishing company Acorn Book Services signed on to sponsor the C3 Conference, I asked myself how best to promote not just myself as an author, but those authors who I work with. Then, my thought turned to those new authors who may be nervously attending the C3 conference for the first time as an author.
How does a new author, who is promoting his or her very first book, convince readers that they are good? That they are worthy of spending a few bucks on their first book?
Answer: Give out free samples!
That is the purpose of the C3 (Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity) Anthology.  Acorn Book Services will publish and give a copy of our anthology to each attendee at the conference.
Picture this! You are a new author on your first panel. The readers are sitting in the audience thinking, “Well, he seems like a nice guy, but I can’t afford to buy a copy of all of these authors’ books. How do I decide?”
You answer their hesitation by holding up the anthology. “And you can read a copy of my short story in the anthology that you received in your welcome pack. It starts on page 42.”
The readers will read your story. Fall in love and you’ll have a fan, or two, or three, or a hundred!
Please pay close attention to their submission guidelines below:
Word Count: Maximum 7,500 words.
Limit: One short story per author, who must be registered and attending the C3 conference.
Limited to twenty-five stories accepted for publication so be sure and get registered today so your story can be part of the anthology! Space in the anthology is limited. I wish we could afford to publish a hundred stories, but we can’t.
Please include author photo, bio, website, and other information to accompany short story in the anthology.
Short stories accepted for the anthology must be edited, and will be edited and proofed by Acorn Book Services. By submitting a short story, the author agrees to giving Acorn Book Services rights of usage of the short story in the Anthology to be published in print and e-book form (at the cost of Acorn Book Services). The printed format will be given to attendees of the C3 conference. This anthology will serve as a promotional tool for the authors, who will retain all ownership rights to their story.
After the conference, Acorn Book Services will then release the anthology in e-book form on Amazon. In this e-book format, in exchange for use of their short story, the author will receive further promotion as the e-book will also include the author’s bio and links to their website and places where their books can be purchased.
All of this is at no cost to the author, other than the cost of attending the C3 conference. All proceeds from the sale of the e-book version will be retained by Acorn Book Services to help offset production cost of the anthology.
Deadline to submit: March 1, 2013.
For more information or to submit your story contact Acorn Book Services at

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where are you going?

As an author, where have you been?

If you have been on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gather, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. Good for you!

Now get over yourself! You haven’t done that much.

Answer this question, how many conferences have you paid for and went to. Can’t hear you.

Do you think your book is that good that you don’t have to go to conferences?

Maybe you think that you’re as big as James Patterson. Maybe you think that your handsome/pretty face is enough to turn a few heads and sell a few books. Ok, well maybe you are cute/handsome; but that doesn’t make me buy your book. What makes me buy your book is seeing you. Putting my four eyes (yes, I wear glasses) on you. I want to see you on your grind. I want to see you at some of the conferences I attend. Look at Rahiem Brooks; this man has been to so many conferences, I can’t keep track of them. If you go to his website and look at his calendar,, you will see a man on the move. Literally!

This man is EVERYWHERE. He has been to at least two literary events every month. Most of you haven’t been to one.

Now he could do just about anything with his free time, but he chooses to promote himself and his company.

I know one other person who does this and his name is Austin Camacho. I met him four years ago in Borders (moment of silence for Borders please) I met him at my first book signing; his fifth. I decided right then, that I would do what he says we should do when self-publishing our books, “you should imitate what is already on the shelves.” So that is what I have been doing; I’ve been imitating him, with one difference; I wear stilettos.

I am now hooked on conferences. I’ve been to Thrillerfest, Love is Murder, Bay to Ocean and Baltimore Book Festival. Next year I plan to go to BourcherCon, Thrillerfest, Love is Murder, Richmond Festival of the book and Creatures, Crimes and Creativity right here in Baltimore in September of 2013.

So now I ask you; where have you been, or where are you going?

Hopefully we will run into each other. I’ll be the one wearing the sexy stilettos!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Dream Book Event for an Independent Author

By Lauren Carr

Back in the days of the “giant lizard” (aka dinosaurs), after my first book, A Small Case of Murder was published; I was told in no uncertain terms, “You need to go to conferences. That is where you meet and make fans and they get to know you.”

So I started going to conferences, where I met some fans, as well as authors who showed me a few ropes that I would not have learned otherwise. As with everything, there were a few problems in fulfilling this conference attending requirement.

Problem Number One: Conferences Are Expensiveespecially if they’re out of town, which is usually the case. Between the registration fee, meals, and hotel, especially in today’s economy, the cost can be prohibitive. If you are mid-list or below, most likely you aren’t going to make enough money in book sales at the conference to cover the cost. Argument can be made that the benefit of going to the conference comes from meeting fans who will buy your books at the event and hopefully continue purchasing your books in the future.

 Problem Number Two: Lack of Exposure for Independent (self-published) Authors—which, in conjunction with Problem Number One, can drive most authors to stay home.

With the vast changes in technology opening doors for independent authors, I began independently publishing my own books when I released It’s Murder, My Son.  (That’s another story.) At the same time, some conferences made the decision that self-published authors would not be assigned to author panels. This means lack of exposure to authors who have the confidence to invest in their own books. Fans don’t meet or see them, which renders attending these conferences useless.

In spite of this, It’s Murder, My Son, and my other independently published books (Old Loves Die Hard, Shades of Murder, Dead on Ice) have been receiving great reviews and great sales.

When other authors, seeing my success asked for my help, I ended up becoming a publisher: Acorn Book Services.  In working with my authors, I have struggled with ideas in how to personally introduce them to readers at great events like a conference, where they can experience the pride they have earned as authors.

I was playing with the idea of establishing my own conference when I got an e-mail from Sandra Bowman of Intrigue Publishing announcing the dates of Creatures, Crime, and Creativity Conference to take place in Baltimore. Immediately, I hit the reply button and asked, “Is this conference friendly toward independent authors?”

Moments later (seconds really!) came Sandra’s reply, “Certainly.” We set up a dinner meeting with her and Austin S Camacho (author and publisher). I was so excited that I barely ate. This was the type of conference I was looking for not just for myself, but my authors.

Days later, Acorn Book Services was a sponsor for the Creatures, Crime, and Creativity Conference (C3), to take place in Baltimore on September 13, 14, and 15, 2013.

Not only is the C3 conference friendly toward independent authors, but it is affordable. This is the first conference I have seen where the meals are included in the event for the whole weekend!

C3’s goal is to introduce fans to new authors, no matter how they are published. None of that matters. Yes, fans will be drawn by the big names who are attending (Jeffrey Deaver and Trice Hickman, to name two), but during the weekend, through author panels and other events (including a scavenger hunt), there is no way they can leave without meeting new names in mystery, suspense, paranormal, crime, and fantasy writing.

If you’re an author, you will be one of those authors that fans are going to meet!

Fans will also be meeting new authors through the C3 Anthology, which Acorn Book Services is going to publish exclusively for this event. Every fan, author, and agent attending this event will get a free copy of the C3 anthology. After the conference, Acorn Book Services will be publishing the anthology in e-book form, which means the marketing benefit will be continuing after the weekend for those authors published in the C3 Anthology. Space in the book is limited only to authors registered for the C3 event.

My next post will be more details about the anthology. To learn more right now, go to the anthology page on the C3 website and register for the conference today. This is your chance to meet and make new fans! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

What is genre?

I’ll soon see the release of the fourth book in my Stark & O’Brien series . 

When I wrote the first book I knew it was action/adventure.  That’s what they were calling other similar novels at the time.  Then at some point I was told that what I write are really international thrillers.  Okay, people seemed to understand that meant lots of action and suspense, although before that I had thought thrillers were scary.

Then the other day I was describing my novels to someone who doesn’t read thrillers.  When I mentioned that my two protagonists happen to have a psychic link that warns one when the other is in danger her eyes lit up.  “Oh!  So you really write UF or PNR!”

I nodded and smiled but when I got home I had to Google it.  UF turns out to be short for Urban Fantasy.  These books aren’t urban in the sense of books about drug lords and hookers.  In this case urban is NOT a euphemism for African American or gangbanger style.  UF literally means fantasy fiction – ghosts, goblins and demons – set in a city.  Jim Butcher seems to be the leader of this pack, although C3 conference keynote speaker Christopher Golden is also a leading figure.  A lot of this material is what I would have called horror.  Much of what Bram Stoker and Stephen King have written would qualify as Urban Fantasy.

Then there’s PNR – ParaNormal Romance.  This label seems to separate the vampires and werewolves (and other shape shifters) from the UF books.  Of course, as the name implies there has to be a romance element, but vampires and werewolves still sound like horror to me.  Except that a lot of these books (like Laurell K. Hamilton’s  work) are about vampire hunters or demon hunters, and they read like action/adventure to me… or maybe I mean thrillers.

When we set up the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference we tried to take in all the fictional genres that seemed to fit together: mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy and even the newcomer steampunk (a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid that would have described Jules Verne’s and HG Wells’ work.)  But we didn’t account for the rush of new sub-genres.  So it’s startling when someone writes, “I see you don’t take romance, and that’s what I write but my books have shape-shifters and elves.  Will I fit in at your conference?”  To me that’s fantasy, or horror, or SOMEWHERE in that space.

My point, (and I do have one)  is that if you think the books you love to read might edge their way into one of the categories we’re touting for the C3 Conference, then you can be sure you’ll meet others who read them, and maybe someone who writes them.  So bring your love of genre fiction in almost all its forms to the C3 Conference in September.

And let me know what other sub-genre we should call out to.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's all the fuss about?

I'm sure you are asking yourself that very question, right about now.'re not. Well why aren't you?

The noise that you hear are the gears grinding together of the collective minds of Denise Camacho, Austin Camacho and Sandra Bowman.

We have been hard at work planning the C3Conference next year.
The Creatures, Crimes and Creativity Conference; get it, C3; is coming up in September 13-15, 2012.

We have secured four great guests. Jeffery Deaver, John Gilstrap, Chris Golden and Trice Hickman.

We have nailed down a venue. The Hunt Valley Inn near Baltimore.

We have pinned down a team of dedicated volunteers. Ok, well we didn't have to pin them down, but we did have to chase them for a little while, but Ann Arbaugh, Deliah Lawrence, Juli Monroe and Cyndi Lauth graciously agreed to help us.

They have even secured a couple of sponsors, Frugal Bliss organic bath products and Acorn Book Services. Don't fret, it's not to late if you would like to sponsor something or donate something to the hospitality suite.

Yes, that noise that you hear is us hard at work putting together the best conference that $275 can buy.

Where else will you find Steam punk, Thrillers, Mysteries, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and Suspense in one place?

We have planned a few surprises, like...wait, if I told you then you wouldn't attend, now would you?

So what's all the fuss about?
Why not click this link, and find out.

You are in for a surprise!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Welcome to the first entry on the official blog for the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference.This con will be the annual gathering place for writers and fans of genre fiction in the Mid-Atlantic area, something that we think has been missing for a long time.
Well, maybe not all genre fiction.We don’t expect a lot of romance writers to show up, but if you love to read or write stories of mystery or suspense, if you love a good thriller or horror tale, if science fiction or fantasy is your bag, or if you’re getting into the steampunk style, this will be the con for you.
We have a website – – we have a contact email - – and, 346 days out, we have a spectacular slate of key note speakers and special guests.So why do we need a blog?
Well, I can think of three reasons.First, there will be too much going on at this conference for us to put all the details on our web site.We plan a scavenger hunt for attendees.There will be a beer tasting and a wine tasting.A video crew will be on hand to shoot author interviews.And the registration packet will include an original anthology featuring some of the attending authors.You’ll want the details of these and other specials planned and in the blog we’ll have the space to give you those details.
And that’s just what we know now.We expect things to grow and change over the next eleven months and we can keep you up to date here.It’s also the ideal place to call your attention to deadlines for things like early bird pricing, anthology submissions and author bios for the program.
Finally, this blog will be a chance for attending authors and con sponsors to talk directly to you about what they’re up to and what they plan to do at the C3 Con.This will help you know who you want to find and get to know better when you arrive in Baltimore next year.
Our greatest objective at the C3 Con is to provide a venue for readers to get up close and personal with writers, and for authors to be able to communicate directly with their fans.This blog is just an extension of that goal.
So check back here every week for the latest on the C3 conference.