Things You Can Learn at a Female Impersonator Contest

Jordan Dane



Now that I have your attention, I attended an unusual writers’ conference located in my hometown of San Antonio on Feb 25-27, 2016. The Wild Wicked Weekend did not disappoint. The name says it all. This was my first time attending this crazy event, although I heard a lot about it over the years. It’s organized by a group of authors called Belle Femme and the venue was the Menger Hotel, an historic hotel reputed to be haunted. (No, I did not see any ghosts, that I know of.) I almost didn’t attend because the events planned for this conference actually scared me more than the ghosts that frequent the old hotel.

Here a link and you can see what I mean:

What never ceases to amaze me is the generosity of fellow authors who met with me to exchange ideas on better ways to promote books. One author in particular – Elle James – taught me a lot about her highly successful career being a hybrid author, working with traditional houses as well as being a driven indy author with a great track record. I learned that I had to bend my way of thinking from traditional publisher strategies to a more independent author approach. These two ways are different in how advance promo time is used and the importance of pre-orders and advance reviews and ways to boost awareness of your books.

Here are some specific things I wanted to share. None of these are very detailed because I need to learn more, but there might be enough for you to get started too.

1.) I learned about Drive.Google,Com where you can develop a GOOGLE FORM for obtaining Advance Reviews. Once you create the form, you can embed the code into your facebook page, for example, and begin to build on a database of reviewers for your current and future releases.

2.) You can set up a Street Team page for your author name on Facebook and generate buzz with exclusive content, giveaways, and insights into your books to build enthusiasm for your work.

3.) I heard about targeting Facebook ads to specific markets that could be interested in your book, based on certain keywords – and the use of Facebook Power Editor on a Chrome Browser. As I said at the start of this list, I am still learning about these marketing techniques, so I’m not able to give detailed advice. If that is what you are looking for and you would like to learn more, then you can click on the link.

4.) I heard about the benefits of getting set up under Amazon Associates in the Affiliates program.

5.) I learned about tracking indy sales through an app called BookTrakr. The details are much better than I’ve seen on other sales tracking tools.

From networking with generous authors, I was pitched to write for another new series to be launched in July. I can’t share the news yet, but I’ll be linking my latest novel (THE LAST VICTIM) into a crossover to jumpstart my character Ryker Townsend into a new series of his own.

I’ve never written for Amazon Kindle Worlds (KW) before, but I’ve found that if I crossover any of my series books or create a new series that will tie-in to the two KWs I will be writing for, I can take advantage of the readership of all the authors writing for the series. In the back of our books, we add links to the other books in the series and once a reader finds the KW series and loves the book, they may keep buying them. We sustain each other’s momentum by doing this.

This is nothing new. Traditional houses have been placing ads in the back pages of printed books if an author’s contract allows for it. But in this digitized world, an online link can mean a sale and perhaps sustain a rise in sales rank.

My strategy for the rest of the year will be to write my Amazon Kindle World novellas (word count sweet spot ranging 25,000-30,000 words) – I have 4 so far with releases in Feb, May, July, Nov – then link in one to two of my Ryker Townsend (FBI Profiler Series) with word counts at 50,000-60,000 words each.

So I am in the precarious position of having contracts to fill, but I will also need to establish a better advance and post promo strategy to take advantage of pre-orders, advance reviews, street teams, and Facebook parties. That’s what I learned at this crazy conference from some very prolific authors who took me under their wings.

The moral of this story – Never pass up a Wild Wicked Weekend.

1.) What advance promo works best for you?
2.) Have you used Street Teams to generate buzz for your books? Strengths? Pitfalls?
3.) What synergies are there in cross promoting your books with other authors in a series or who write similar books to yours?
4.) How do you obtain your advance reviews?

HotTarget (3)

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Rafael Madero stands in the crosshairs of a vicious Cuban drug cartel—powerless to stop his fate—and his secret could put his sister Athena and her Omega Team in the middle of a drug war.


Mortification, in the First Person

by Michelle Gagnon

One of my all-time favorite books (and a popular gift for friends who write) is called, MORTIFICATION: WRITERS’ STORIES OF THEIR PUBLIC SHAME.

It includes vignettes from such storied authors as Roddy Doyle, Michael Ondaatje, and Val McDermid on the most embarrassing experiences they’ve ever had during their writing careers. For example, did you know that Margaret Atwood’s first-ever book signing took place in the Men’s Socks and Underwear section of a department store? Or that some of Chuck Palahniuk’s fans started throwing dinner rolls at him during an event in San Francisco? And apparently Stephen King was once forced to sign so many books that his fingers cracked and started to bleed.

Up until last October, my most mortifying moment as an author occurred at a local bookstore, when not a single person showed up for my reading.

And then along came Litquake.

Litquake is San Francisco’s premier literary festival, a week-long celebration of the written word that features hundreds of authors reading at dozens of events. More than 16,000 people attended last year. Being asked to participate is a big deal, particularly for one of the most coveted spots.
And for the 2011 series, I was included in a great one, entitled, “These Mean Streets: Reality and Fiction Collide.”
I was the only woman appearing on a slate with a former mob informant; the terrific writer, working PI, and all around great writer David Corbett; and a slew of other big names. The event was being held at Tosca Cafe, one of my favorite bars in San Francisco.

All in all, it was shaping up to be an exciting evening. Thanks largely to the fact that the event would be happening in a bar, I even managed to convince several friends who don’t ordinarily attend readings to come along.

You can never predict how big the crowd will be at one of these events, but that night, Tosca was packed. Standing room only, easily a couple hundred people in the room.

I was nervous, and hadn’t slept terribly well the night before. Too nervous to eat very much all day, in fact. So I did what any sane person would do–I drank a glass of wine to calm myself down.
I was scheduled to be the third reader of the evening. I sat through the first two, my mouth dry, palms slick with sweat, tapping the pages of my chapter on the table (to the growing irritation of my friends).

And then, it was my turn.

I’ve performed in hundreds of dance performances, and have participated in dozens of author events over the past few years. One thing I know: the minute I get up there, the nervousness dissipates and I’m fine.
So there I was, standing in front of a microphone with a spotlight bearing down on me, facing this hot, crowded room.

Initially, everything was clipping along just fine. I read the first few pages of my chapter, and the crowd seemed appreciative–at least, no one was heckling or throwing things at me.

In the middle of page five, the words started swimming before my eyes. I paused and tried hard to force them back into focus. They refused to cooperate. I realized that for the space of at least a minute, I hadn’t said anything. Panicking, I tried to collect myself. I stood up tall, found my place, and got through another paragraph.

I’ve never fainted before in my life–never even came close. But next thing I know, I’m lying on my back with a total stranger inches from my face, yelling, “Were you locking out your knees?”

Which even in retrospect doesn’t seem to be the first thing you should ask someone who has just passed out cold.

Thankfully, there was an open booth behind me. According to my friends (who delighted in detailing the exact order of events after I’d recovered slightly), I said, “I’m dizzy,” then sat down hard in the booth behind me. After which I proceeded to plummet ungracefully into the lap of the woman occupying the banquette (featured in the photo above, right before we became much better acquainted).
And of course, this was the one and only time that I’d decided to wear a dress for a reading. Meaning that I pretty much flashed the entire audience. Thank God I was wearing tights.

My friends helped me outside and plied me with glasses of water and relatively fresh air (there were a lot of smokers around). Strangers came out to check on me. The rest of the reading proceeded inside; sadly, I missed most of it. As a favor, the event organizers let me get up and finish my story at the very end of the evening.

A week later, during the closing party, Litquake impresario Jack Boulware informed me that they’ve never had an author faint before–apparently it was the talk of the organizing committee. So much so that they’re debating naming an honorary award after me next year. Word is still out on whether it will be bestowed for passing out or remaining conscious.

So now, should the editors of MORTIFICATION ever contact me, I can assuredly put Stephen King’s most embarrassing moment to shame.

I’d love to hear about your most mortifying experience, either during and event or really, at any point in your life. Please. It will make me feel better.