Character paper dolls for promotional use by Mary Reed

A thought came to me recently when looking at the vibrant colouring of the garments and personal adornments shown in two mosaics among those decorating the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.

This particular pair of mosaics depict the sixth century court in Constantinople, the setting for most of our John, Lord Chamberlain, mysteries. Thus the onlooker sees a crowned Justinian, dressed in imperial purple, his three-pendant cloak clasp resembling a large flower. He takes centre stage, flanked by representatives of church, state, and the military. Is it true to life? Well, a close scrutiny does show distinct traces of a five-o’-clock shadow.

In a separate mosaic, Empress Thedora wears a more elaborate crown than Justinian. Also in centre stage, her tunic features an elaborately embroidered hem and she wears a gem-encrusted collar as well as a necklace and earrings. Her face looks drawn, and it’s been speculated shows the first signs of the illness, commonly thought to be cancer, that would ultimately kill her. Richly attired female attendants and a couple of servants round out the picture.

Justinian close-up

Thedora close-up

Justinian’s and attendent

Theodora and attendants

Well then, you may ask, what was the thought triggered by these beautiful mosaics?

Paper dolls. More precisely, character paper dolls for promotional use.


What a brilliant idea, the thought modestly continued. An author’s website has only to provide a page or two offering drawings of their characters and appropriate clothing, jewelry, and accessories and the rest is up to those who love their books.

It’s worth noting colouring books for adults are extremely popular at present – last year 14 million of them were sold. Authors therefore might consider running off character and accessories pages and wield their staplers to create colouring books as a giveaway for freeby tables at conventions and other mystery-related gatherings.

But what if, like me, an author can’t draw for toffee? Not to worry. This Wikihow article giving step by step instructions on creating paper dolls suggests tracing figures in magazines or books:

and also helpfully includes a link to downloadable figure templates. Their poses could be altered as necessary, and here I am thinking particularly of the position of the arms.

Once these paper dolls are created, the rest is up to your readers, may their colouring pencil sharpeners never get blunt!


Mary Reed & Eric Mayer co-write the Lord Chamberlain mystery series, set in and around the sixth century Constantinople court of Emperor Justinian I. The most recent title published was Murder In Megara and they are currently working on the next entry in the series. They also write the Grace Baxter World War Two mystery series under the pen name of Eric Reed.


Our website:

Our blog:

Buy links:

Murder In Megara

Ruined Stones


BETWEEN all the marketing gurus, social networking mavericks, and the guys who personally know the latest and greatest Hollywood producers for our projects, you’d think all that authors need to do is fork over a little bit of money to make it big time with even bigger returns on our investment. After all, we are told, we are investing in ourselves.

Hint number one: Open a good book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox.

We know we are still on a new journey in the publishing world, but does this make us authors marks?

I sometimes think so. I often know so. They are appealing to our egos and our dreams and our investment of hard work. They are preying upon us.

Like many authors, my inbox is flooded with offers of the magic path toward becoming a best-selling author and having my book land on the big screen.  Sometimes they actually ask me to fill out an application with about five questions. Guess what? I’m a perfect fit for them every time! To the best of my knowledge, not one purveyor of the Golden Goose of Publishing has read any of my books.

Hint number two: Open a good book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox. For sure, do not reply.

The social networking mavericks might be the most annoying group. I succumbed to one, and sent her a large sum of money. Her tricks were all dated. Nothing was current. Also, nothing was earth shattering news. Oh. Because it was old news. Many of these offerings for me to become a best-selling author come with the caveat I must do exactly as they say, and they will always say I did something wrong if I want my money back.

My personal favorite? A person contacted me with an offer I should not refuse. For a sizable fee he could get me in front of scores of Hollywood producers, and I found that fascinating as the event was only held for one evening and I was going to have face-to-face time with all of them. I turned him down but I’m still on his list. Guess what? Now, he is looking for investors for his growing company. He is looking to me to invest in him. That’s a switch. Are you kidding me?

I guess the days of Lana Turner being discovered at the soda fountain counter at Schwab’s are long gone, but I’m pretty sure someone needs to read my writing before they can promise me my dream come true.

Hint number three: Open a GREAT book. Don’t open the scam email in your inbox. Do not send money. Not one dime.


OPIODS to HEROIN: The Quickest Long Journey.


TUCSON, AZ: Lala Corriere announces the release of her sixth novel, TRACKS, which explores the opioid and heroin epidemic in the United States and beyond.

The meticulously researched book leads readers through the facts that clearly warn readers that the war on drugs is not working. Corriere chronicles the softening of the marijuana market as its legalization spreads to more and more states. This softening of the market means diminishing profits for the likes of persons such as El Chapo. In its place, poppy fields are flourishing in the Sinaloa Mountains, and the opioid market is hot.

Unscrupulous physicians are over-prescribing opioid-based medications, fueling the market. But when doctors do stop refilling the prescriptions:

  • Patients know there are products on the streets. They need them.
  • They don’t know what is in those products, and they are expensive.
  • Addicts are trying to hide their addictions.
  • They turn to heroin which gives twice the high for half the price.
  • The soccer mom next door particularly likes that she doesn’t have to use a needle anymore. She can now swallow a pill.

In TRACKS, gutsy private investigator Cassidy Clark takes readers through Tucson, Italy and Australia as she pushes to gets the answers she needs. Along the way she gets entagled with the mafia.

Corriere, whose five previous books include the critically acclaimed “Widow’s Row” and “Cover Boys and Curses,” is available for print, internet, radio and television interviews. To arrange one, visit her website,, or email her at




Promotion from here by Randy Rawls

       P.J. suggested I write about how I approach promotion of my books. Oh, boy, she couldn’t have picked a worse person. Therein lies my Achilles heel, no doubt about it. Thanks to her, I do have an opportunity to promote JUSTICE SECURED, my recently released Josh Hawkins book, which I’ll get to in a moment. But, the truth is I’m envious of the authors I see posting, blogging, tweeting, and who-all knows what in such effective manners. It seems they have mastered a monster that I dare not approach. So, promotion is probably not the subject I should be writing about.

However, from my side of the fence, I can sound off about the lack of promotion. JUSTICE SECURED is my thirteenth novel, and I don’t claim to be a best-selling author. Why? My ego and the reviews I receive refuse to let me think it’s because I’m a lousy writer. Quite the contrary. I’ve received enough accolades to make me think I put together a pretty good story, well written. So, why am I floundering near the bottom of the “reader’s pool.” The answer is so simple, I cringe when I think of it. Lack of promotion. If I had the perseverance and whatever else it takes to push myself and my books into the face of every prospective reader, I’d sell more books. But, you know what? I can’t do it. I’m simply not built that way. I value the opportunities I am given, but just can’t force myself to do the “carnival barker” bit. So, here’s a thanks to P.J. for allowing me to write these words and an apology to same for not being able to do a better job of it.

The second subject that P.J. suggested is how I’ve changed my approach to writing since I began. I’m changing that a wee bit to how the industry has changed. When I began about 25 years ago, an author could submit direct to a major publisher in NY—over the transom, it was called. Agents were few and far between. Today, one cannot get near a NY publisher without an agent fronting him. Agents have become the power that stands between the author and a major contract. And, even though there has been a proliferation of agents, there has not been a proliferation of opportunities. We are at the mercy of agents who are looking for the new million-seller, while nursing their current stable of writers. The agent that can land that next NY Times number one is basically set for life. Mind you, I am not complaining, I am simply stating that’s how I see it. And, as much as I’d like to resent it, I cannot blame an agent for bashing our dreams as they pursue their own.

And, finally, before I lose all of you, a bit about JUSTICE SECURED. It’s a standalone (or first book in a series) featuring Josh Hawkins, a South Florida PI and ex-Army Special Forces officer. He is recruited by a Federal task force to bring down an “invisible” crime lord that the authorities cannot touch. His tasking is simple: make the man disappear in such a way his body is never found. This brings Josh into conflict with his conscience which berates him for being an “assassin-for-hire” versus the loyal American law-abiding citizen he believes himself to be. However, he must split his concentration between the “offer” and a case his fiancée, an assistant state attorney, is prosecuting against a wife-killer. Josh vows the accused will pay for his crime no matter what the jury decides, but his decision must be kept from the woman he loves. It’s a long, crooked path Josh must track before he discovers the truth about himself—and what kind of man he truly is.

Justice Secured via Amazon

Focus on Promotion: Statistics, Strategies, and Sales by Martha Reed

Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to guest post on Bookbrowsing. I’ve been so focused on promotion that I haven’t taken the time to analyze my sales. The data I uncovered for this blog has been tremendously insightful. I’ll use it to shape my marketing efforts going forward.

In February of 2017, I published NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book Three in my Nantucket Mystery series through my Indie imprint, Buccaneer. From the get-go, I’ve tracked the sales results of my promotional efforts to see what worked best. Here is the analysis of those stats.

Baseline Availability

I used Amazon’s CreateSpace to publish NO REST as a trade paperback, and as a Kindle (.mobi) edition. I did not opt for the Kindle Select program, because I wanted my distribution to be as broad as possible.

I used Smashwords to create the other retailer e-book files I needed (.ePub for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster & Kobo,, PDF, PalmDoc.pdb, Sony eReader) including library distribution through Library Direct, Baker & Taylor’s Axis360, Gardners, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, and Odilo.

Sales Ranked by Percentage

Let’s cut to the chase. Amazon is the 900-pound gorilla. CreateSpace trade paperbacks and Kindle e-books accounted for 80% of my sales.

Smashwords accounted for the remaining 20%, broken out by individual retailer, as shown below:

  • Apple iBooks: 33%
  • Barnes & Noble 26%
  • Smashwords 1%
  • OverDrive (Libraries) 39%
  • Kobo less than 1%


Interestingly, from a series perspective:

  • 71% of my sales came from THE CHOKING GAME, Book 1;
  • 10% started with THE NATURE OF THE GRAVE, Book 2 and the notable Independent Publisher IPPY award winner; and
  • 19% started with Book 3: NO REST FOR THE WICKED, the new launch.

This stat seems to support what I’ve been hearing from writers, editors, and agents, that once readers discover a new author and/or a new series they start reading from the beginning of the series. This statistic supports the suggestion that authors need to be offering more than a single book. It also supports the suggestion that hybrid authors should recover their copyrights and e-publish out of print backlists, to take advantage of crossover sales.

Promotional Tools and Marketing Efforts

Guest Blogs

I’ve been targeting guest blog posts to help get the word out on NO REST, scheduling at least two blog posts a week. I’ve heard of marketing services that can schedule blogging tours for you, but I’ve had great success by simply reaching out to host bloggers on my own. Bloggers (and readers) are always looking for fresh, insightful, and entertaining new content. For every guest blog post that I wrote, I saw a follow-up sales spike within a day or two, usually through Kindle (as noted above) or Smashwords/Kobo.

Amazon, GoodReads, and Smashwords Giveaways

Here’s the third big thing I’ve learned: For my book launch, I used a Smashwords coupon code for an initial fan/reader free giveaway to encourage reviews and create buzz. I chose the Smashwords (.ePub) option because the Smashwords dashboard seemed the easiest one to manage. Now that I see that the majority of my sales are coming through CreateSpace and Kindle, I’ll make sure that any future giveaways offer trade paperbacks and/or Kindle (.mobi) versions.

Social Media

I’ve been actively using Facebook and Twitter for book launch and author appearance announcements, but I can’t link any direct sales to these announcements or promotions. The sales spike I do see comes after I’ve used social media to point readers to an eye-catching topic on a guest blog post, and then connect to new readers that way.

Advertising Options and Future Campaigns

This year, I’ve purchased program ads for Malice Domestic, Pennwriters, and New England CrimeBake. Program ads are very affordable. The Malice Domestic ad was an appeal to cozy and traditional mystery fans and readers. The Pennwriters and CrimeBake ads will be geared more toward the overall crime and mystery community.

I’m also researching online services like Publishers Weekly/Booklife for Self-Pub Review, BookBub, and ShelfAwareness.

Where am I seeing sales spikes?

  • Print and e-book sales after each guest blog posting;
  • In-person bookstore, conference panel, or author event hand sales;
  • Reading groups, book clubs, and discussion groups;
  • Social media guest blog pitches; and
  • Good, old-fashioned word of mouth.


Martha Reed is the author of the award-winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Her latest release, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, is garnering 5 star reviews. You can follow her online at, on Facebook, or on Twitter @ReedMartha.

Amazon link:



Besides Blog Tours, What Other Promo I Like by Marilyn Meredith

There is so much to do when an author has a new book coming out. No matter what one decides, hire a publicist, or go it on his or her own, there’s plenty to do.


Promoting on Facebook is one of my favorites because I like to go there anyway and tell my followers what I’m doing. Since writing is such a big part of my life, the progress of a book is often mentioned. I also use Facebook groups especially to promote where I’m stopping when I’m on a blog tour.


I do post on Twitter, but it’s not my favorite venue.


My own blog is where I post about my new books too—but I also host many writers.


For each new book I get business cards made with a picture of the cover and the appropriate information. These I give out everywhere I go.


I have a magnet made for my car with the cover of the latest book on it. Not sure it does any good, but I can always find my car.


Book festivals and craft fairs are great fun. I’ve always enjoyed doing them, meeting new readers and talking with other authors. (It’s important though to engage anyone who passes by the table or booth where you are.)


Speaking engagements are probably my favorite promo tool. I’ve always loved talking to any group of people whether it’s writers or readers. Libraries are great places to give a presentation.


Though big mystery conferences and conventions are fun, unless you’re well-know they aren’t the best place to sell books. But if you do go to them, make friends with the many readers who come to see their favorite authors.


I also have a newsletter that I put out once a month. It always has information about my writing and books, but also all the things I’ve done and the events I’ve attended during the past month. If I’m doing a book tour, there’ll be information about that too.


Always have your business cards or bookmarks ready to give out wherever you go.


  1. M. aka Marilyn Meredith


#13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved Blurb:


Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing with a 10% discount and free shipping as well as all the usual places.


Bio: F. M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at






Tomorrow, May 8, I shed some Background on the Rocky Bluff P.D. Series and Me


Promoting Book Series with Regional Flavor by C.T. Collier

  What’s a surefire way to promote a book? Every author deals with that question. Most authors I know don’t have a publicist advising or directing them, and their marketing budget comes from their pocket. Social Media? Facebook ads? Go for the reviews? Set up a stand on Main Street?

As a newbie author, I struggled to find the best promotion strategy for me and my books. Writing the best book I could write was the most important, of course. Participating in critique groups and contests insured that each book in my series improved on the last. However, while reviews were great, sales were low.

It wasn’t until I joined forces with local authors and tried a few different venues that I found what fit my audience, my personality, and my budget. To my surprise, face-to-face contact with my readers was the answer for me. I say surprise because I’m an introvert—you know the grade school “brain,” the high school “class nerd.” But put me around people who love to read heartwarming romance or a good mystery, and I glow with excitement! They forgive my stammering, and I’m all too happy to answer questions about my writing process, where the ideas come from, and how I get to know my characters. Soon we laugh together, they pick up a book, and there’s a sale.

I should say that I write two series, both set in the area where I live, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. Last year was my fourth year of book promotion, and it was the most successful yet. Three face-to-face events were stand outs, and I offer them as examples to get you thinking outside the box.

First was an arts festival on the shores of one of the lakes. Four of us shared a tent and took turns drawing in the passers-by. Over the two days of the festival, I sold out of my first mystery and had modest sales of my romance series. And I learned that having a presence is not just about sales. During the show the advertising director for a local winery approached the tent, looking for Finger Lakes authors for a fall harvest event at her winery to benefit the county animal shelter. Two of us held up our hands.

That fall winery event put us in the company of five authors who live in and set our books in the Finger Lakes, plus a fabulous best-selling author who penned a trilogy set at a fictional Finger Lakes winery. In the course of three hours, I sold out of romance books, sold one copy of my mystery, and enjoyed conversation with many readers from the area.

In between those events, I got up the courage to have a book party for my first mystery, as a pre-event for my high school reunion. My hometown library was excited to host and promote the event, and the reunion committee agreed to spread the word. We scheduled it for late Friday afternoon, hoping to catch classmates as they rolled into town, as well as community members looking for a good summer read. I’d been nervous about doing a solo event, but I wasn’t doing it alone. The librarian and my friends were eager to participate. Dozens of people came. And, yes, I sold books.

Bottom line, as a marketing strategy, face-to-face contact through local venues and libraries have worked best for me. I’ll continue using Facebook and making appearances on book blogs, because those are wonderful ways to stay in touch with readers and to meet new ones. And I’ll listen to what other authors are trying and what they recommend. We’re all learning from each other.

What’s next? Five of us have a “Meet Your Local Authors” event this Monday at our local library, hosted by our community writers group. Each of us is inviting the world. Three are coming early to set up. Another, a fabulous graphic artist, has made posters and table cards for us. The librarian is promoting up a storm. I’m organizing us and bringing the cookies. We’ll have a grand time and sell some books.

Do you enjoy local events for buying and selling books? Why? What suggestions do you have for authors at festivals, libraries, and business venues? Please leave a comment!


About the Author

C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY.


Book Summary for Stuck

Book Two in The Penningtons Investigate  

Murder never entered the picture until Fritz Van Derzee decided, at long last, to clear his name. Who stuck a jeweled stiletto into his desktop after stabbing him to death? Fritz’s daughter, Emma, recruits her former professor Lyssa Pennington to find the killer.


And where’s the ten million Fritz was falsely accused of embezzling? Tompkins College President, Justin Cushman, hires his old friend Kyle Pennington to trace the missing money.


While Lyssa uses charm and tenacity on the long list of suspects, Kyle reconstructs the college’s old homegrown finance system. As they converge on the killer, Lyssa and Kyle may be the next two casualties.



Important Links





Author Website:

Facebook: kate.collier.315

What’s An Author To Do? by John Lindermuth

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham’s famous axiom might equally be applied to the task of selling that novel. We hear plenty of suggestions. but no one can say for certain what works for one will do the same for all. In the ‘old days’, which really weren’t that long ago, writers wrote books and publishers sold them.

With many more books being produced these days, things have drastically changed. Writers are now required to do much more in the way of marketing. In the past, the publisher set up an advertising budget and solicited bookstores (where most of the selling occurred) and reviews. A writer, especially one with a following (brand), might be called on to do signings at a selection of stores or do interviews.

Publishers still do advertise, solicit in certain venues and seek reviews. But they also expect the writer to publicize the product and seek sales and reviews. With all the competition, a writer must assume the extra hat of salesperson/promoter if the book is to be noticed.

How you undertake the task depends on your personality and situation. Probably a majority of sales today are made through on line promotion. But what I want to talk about today is in person promotion on your own stamping grounds.

For instance, on a personal basis, I live in an area where the closest bookstores are 60 miles away. I will, and have, traveled that distance to do a presentation/signing. But if you aren’t well known in that vicinity, results can be a crapshoot. For that reason, I prefer to seek audiences in other venues. Area libraries have been a good market for me. If you visit in person and talk to the librarian you’ll do better than by simply sending an email or a promo packet. I’ve found most libraries (particularly smaller ones) eager to help, some even taking on the task of advertising an event.  Another tip–it doesn’t hurt to ask friends and family to recommend or request your book at their local libraries.

I’m librarian of my county historical society and my books are displayed and offered for sale there, too. I’ve made friends/fans of many patrons who come in to do genealogy or research and become customers.

Libraries aren’t the only venues. Think big. Approach all kinds of small shops to see if they’ll consider carrying your books. Some will buy outright at a discounted price, others will take them for a trial period on consignment (offer a third of the retail price). My non-fiction regional history has been a steady seller in a specialty shop that’s only open for the Christmas period. I’ve also sold through a local restaurant and a used bookstore operated by a university.

Most writers are introverts and that can be trying. Many clubs and organizations will respond to offers of a speaking gig (some will even pay you). I’m not really comfortable getting up in front of a big audience, so I haven’t done as much of this as I should. It can pay big dividends, though.

Most important–get your name known in your area as a writer. I do a weekly history column for the local newspaper. I get paid for the column and the newspaper always publicizes my new books (Writing articles for magazines can also help make your name known to a wider audience).

Always carry books with you in the trunk of your vehicle. You never know where you might run into someone who will buy a book. And never go anywhere without business cards or other promotional material to hand out to people you come in contact with. Even people who aren’t readers seem to enjoy meeting a ‘real’ writer. They might not buy a book, but they might hand your card on to someone who will.

My latest novel is Geronimo Must Die, a Western and also a mystery. Here’s the blurb:

Geronimo and rascally half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free have never been friends.

Yet, Mickey has already saved Geronimo’s life twice (without acknowledgement) and is the only one who can keep the great Apache leader out of the sniper’s sights now. The sniper has already murdered several tribal leaders and Mickey believes it’s all a plot to prompt a great runaway from the hated San Carlos reservation.

Mickey’s efforts are stymied by Al Sieber, head of scouts, and John Clum, reservation agent, as well as suspicion of other Indians. Adding to his problems, Mickey is in love with a girl whose name he keeps forgetting to ask and who may be allied to the plot.

Only perseverance, risk to his life and, eventually, Geronimo’s help will enable Mickey to resolve this dangerous situation.

Buy links:


A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill–which may have helped inspire his interest in the West. His 15 published novels are a mix of mystery and historical fiction. Since retiring, he’s served as librarian for his county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.


Amazon author page:



FB author page:




Shares The Darkness (September 2016), Torrid Books

Something So Divine (August 2015), Sunbury Press