John M. Wills

Books and blog



A Girl With A Cape

Amy Logan has created a terrific book, ostensibly directed toward young girls. However, once I read this wonderfully written and illustrated story, I realized it transcended all ages.71Of9lP-3bL

A Girl With A Cape resembles a fairy tale, but it’s so much more. It’s an instructional manual, if you will, telling us how, one by one, we can make a difference. In Amy’s words—“We can change the world.” How? By doing simple common sense things we should have been doing all along. Things like, telling your family you love them. Simple, right? But the person who hears the words, “I love you,” is impacted in a hugely positive manner for the rest of the day and beyond. The words become infectious, causing a chain reaction empowering others to be kind and gracious.
12243659_10208073252808539_1506148186_nThe cape, which is included with each book, is emblematic of a superhero. However, it’s an atypical hero, not one that can fly or see through walls. Rather, the superhero in Amy’s book is able to change the world merely by using kind words and gestures.

I’d recommend this book for the holidays, but the reality is the story is appropriate for every day of the year. Kind words and a loving heart send a powerful message to friends and foes alike, one that says—I care about you. Every one of us can all easily become superheroes and make our world a better place. Amy Logan’s work can make a difference in your life. Give it a chance.

Whaaat? Print Books Are Back?

Armageddon for the printed word never materialized, it passed us by. Well at least that’s what we expected when eBooks arrived on the scene. Five years ago, we (authors) feared the printed word was on the way out and that to see our work in print would be the exception rather than the rule. Between 2008 and 2010, readers flocked to e-readers, e.g., Kindle, Nook, etc., and print sales began to dwindle. We watched as bookstores fought to keep their collective heads above water, fearing that once loyal customers were abandoning them for cheaper e-versions of their favorite authors’ works.cititul

In 2011 a literary earthquake struck the reading public when Borders declared bankruptcy. We shook our heads and chalked it up to technology making our lives better. It was thought that digital books would overtake print this year, 2015. We watched a similar transition occur in the music world.

Then, something strange happened. Suddenly, the trend slowed. People began to eschew the digital word for the old, reliable, comfortable print book. In the first five months of 2015, e-book sales fell 10 percent. Sales of Kindles and e-readers fell off even more, dropping from nearly 20 million devices sold in 2011, to about 12 million last year. A Nielsen survey early this year found a 50 percent drop in the number of folks using e-readers.

E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television. As a result, publishing houses are ramping up their print infrastructures and distribution centers. Hatchette and Simon & Schuster are expanding their storage and distribution capabilities. Penguin Random House, which has nearly 250 imprints around the world, reported that print books account for more than 70 percent of their sales in the U.S. In addition, HarperCollins said faster deliveries due to expanded infrastructure means bookstores can place smaller initial orders and restock as needed. This strategy reduced returns of unsold books by about 10 percent.

There is no denying that reading a book on an electronic device is handy and convenient. The time spent at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen, or taking the train to and from work, are times when reading from your smart phone makes sense. However, my thought is that the reading public wants a tangible connection with the story and its author. Having a print book in hand, and the ease of being able to skip back to a chapter or page, makes for a comfortable fit.

Maybe it’s too soon to tell. Maybe it’s simply a pause, as Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster says. But I think we’ve seen a balance struck. Both e-readers and the printed word will share the stage together in the coming years. More importantly, the death of the printed book was just a result of fearful publishers crying wolf. Now, let’s start stocking those shelves.

Which Book Genres Earn The Most Money?

When planning to write a novel, advice comes from many sources—friends, fellow writers, and of course, one’s own research. Sage advice often stresses, “Write what you know.” That’s sound advice for sure, but if your motivation to write is to have many people buy and read your work, you must know what people are reading. Below are the top five book genres earning the most money. The figures are based on leading authors’ earnings and industry trends as researched by the money-and-books-on-balance-scaleRomance Writers of America Association.

#1 Romance / Erotica ($1.44 billion)

Fifty Shades of Grey pushed author E.L. James to a net worth of $60 million, while Danielle Steel claims to be worth $610 million. All that wealth comes from formulaic romance novels that feature similar story-lines and endings.

#2 Crime / Mystery ($728.2 million)

Many of these novels come in sagas and trilogies featuring the same protagonist. Readers are fascinated by stories of murder and violence, and in fact, true crime stories are the most popular.

#3 Religious / Inspirational ($720 million)

No surprise here that the ultimate bestseller has always been the Bible. But many readers want answers to life’s problems and want to feel good about themselves and their fellow-man. Wholesome stories of redemption and reward continue to be popular.

#4 Science Fiction and Fantasy ($590.2 million)

Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games—tremendous bestsellers and movies. These tales draw both young adult and adult audiences. The fact that the stories are continuing sagas make them lasting and appealing.

#5 Horror ($79.6 million)

Some folks enjoy being scared. Storytellers Stephen King and Dean Koontz have popularized this genre, and have had their most popular novels hit the big screen.

After reading the above astounding figures, the rest of us need a dose of reality. The Guardian, a British newspaper, advises that most writers earn less than $1,000.00 per month. Hardly a living wage. Who knows the reason(s) why some succeed while others do not? However, there is a bright side to the book industry. Now that ebooks have become increasingly popular, self-published authors now account for 20% of sales in the genre market. Moreover, even if your expertise or interest falls outside of the five most profitable genres, isn’t it worth the effort to try one? Why not write a romance novel or mystery? Sometimes writing beyond one’s comfort zone results in success. Besides, what do you have to lose?

New and exciting novel: River Spirits, available now!



Avoiding the Jessica Fletcher Syndrome

In both my series, murder does happen in small towns. And yes, I’ve thought about the Jessica Fletcher syndrome.

In the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the small town is near larger towns and the murders that happen seem possible —plus it’s a Southern California beach town.Me at SJ Sisters in Crime (1)

Bear Creek, the small town in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, is more of a village than a town. However, the area Tempe patrols is large, taking in the mountains, campgrounds, and she’s often called to the nearby Bear Creek Indian Reservation.

In an earlier book, Calling the Dead, Tempe traveled to other towns in California to learn more about a suspect. In Kindred Spirits, she visited Crescent City to learn more about a victim, and Santa Barbara to find out about a suspect.

Because Tempe is a Tulare County deputy, once she was asked to help out with a murder that happened in a nearby city because the victim had ties to the reservation.

To be perfectly honest, Bear Creek is based on the area where I live, and the entire time I’ve lived here there have only been two murders. The nearby Indian reservation has had a few more.

In the latest, River Spirits, outsiders cause all the problems.

I have no idea what will happen in the next book, but it’s possible she may go elsewhere and help with a crime. It will depend upon what ideas pop into my head.

Since Jessica Fletcher was a writer who solved crimes and my heroine is in law enforcement, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about anyone thinking they may be in jeopardy if they know Tempe.


About the new novel, River Spirits:

While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a the Hairy Man finds a missing woman, an actor is murdered, and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

River Spirits (1)

About Marilyn:

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and 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

Contest: The winner will be the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour.

He or she can either have a character in my next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.

I’m heading over to P. J. Nunn’s to talk about promotion.


Promoting Your Book

PSWA Member graphicLast week I attended the Public Safety Writers Association Conference. One of the presenters was Patricia Fry, a full-time writer, speaker, consultant, editor and the author of 39 books. Patricia spoke about author promotion, emphasizing that the role falls to the author, rather than the publisher. Here are some important points to consider about book promotion:

  1. No matter which publishing option you choose, it is up to the author to promote his/her book.
  2. Your book will sell for as long as you are willing to promote it.
  3. There are hundreds of ways to promote  your book and most of them are free, but many of them do take time, thought, effort, creativity and energy.
  4. In order to successfully promote your book, you MUST know who your audience is and where they are (what they read, where they buy books, etc.)
  5. Target your marketing efforts toward your target audience.
  6. When devising your marketing plan, remember to think, “exposure, exposure, exposure.”
  7. Experiment and discover which promotional effort is most effective for you and for your particular book. Do more of that activity!
  8. Don’t give up after one disappointing promotional activity–the next book festival (presentation, book signing, etc.) might be ultra successful.
  9. Be open to new promotional ideas, but  don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep to the basics that are working.
  10. Before launching out to speak, do a book signing, etc., put out a LOT of publicity. Use all of your social media accounts, newspapers, appropriate newsletters, posters, blogs, your email list, etc.
  11. Seek out unusual, but appropriate,venues for  presentations/signings/demonstrations and to place your books for sale. Choose locations where your audience congregates, shops, etc.
  12. For fiction–do home parties and let guests help act out a scene–bring costumes/props.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Use your imagination and get creative in planning your own marketing plan–always keeping your audience/readers in mind. Patricia’s, “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost (mostly free) Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author” has hundreds more ideas for both fiction    and nonfiction authors.


Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the botto...
Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the bottom. No comments on this point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The electronic age has allowed writers to sit in the publishing driver’s seat, rather than the publisher. Traditional publishers have seen their revenues decline, along with brick and mortar book stores, with the advent of self-publishing and ebooks. Some self-pubbed books have even hit the best seller list. Whereas rejection letters used to mean the end of the road for many writers. Now, self-publishing is a logical alternative for a writer to ensure his work becomes the printed word–or perhaps the electronic word.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is one way to become published. Whether it’s a novel, short story, or poetry, KDP allows the writer to make his own decisions and set a price. The royalties are more author favorable as well with KDP, with 70% paid to the author. I recently tested this process, creating my own anthology: The Nightstand Collection. The process was simple and intuitive, and the finished product was professional.

On the other hand, self-publishing companies have sprung up overnight, like mushrooms in the forest. As with anything else, there are reputable companies to do business with and others who will offer more than they can deliver. Many will publish your book, at a hefty price, but the end result may not be something you can be proud of. Most do not offer editing, or cover design, without which your labor of love becomes simply a dust collector.

Top Consumer Reviews takes a quick look at the best self publishing companies: If you are interested in examining this process, please take a moment to read this informative article.

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