Monday, October 20, 2014

Publishing Changes for Moonlight Mesa Associates

I don't need PENS out here!
I'm learning never to write anything in PEN on a calendar. I am now on my third calendar for the year. Some months have so many cross-outs and scribbles that the pages look like someone made a desperate attempt to write Chinese.

A box of #12 pencils, all sharpened with pointy erasures added to the ends, now fill my pen box.

For starters, we have deleted one nonfiction book from our 2015 publishing calendar. Someone (me) failed to do my homework to discover how many similar titles, all excellent too, were already in print. Fortunately, a contract had not been signed, and it turned out the authors of the book had actually already decided to abandon the project but were a bit fearful of telling me. Whew.

In its place, we have signed another nonfiction project for 2015. This new topic (rowing) is way out of our genre (like the top-selling Getting a Handle on Herpes by P.A. Arnold was), but the project just plain appealed to me. Wish I could give a solid reason for choosing it besides "appeal," but that's the one benefit of being the publisher, I suppose.

Jere D. James has finally signed a contract for another western, also. The western, the first that does not feature Jake Silver, Deputy U.S. Marshal, should be out in late fall of 2015. And don't miss out on our great "sale" on our website for the six Jake Silver books. You can receive all six of them for $10 each plus s/h. That's a savings of $36 off the cover price.

 Other than Jere's western, we are still not accepting fiction submissions.


SOME GAVE ALL

J.R. Sanders' outstanding Some Gave All is not only leading in nonfiction sales this year, but it has also qualified as a finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards. Last month I announced that Robert Walton's Dawn Drums was a finalist in two categories in that contest and that Sam's Desert Adventure was a finalist in another competition. We found out after we posted this blog that Sanders' book is also a finalist.

This nonfiction book has received many outstanding reviews. Sanders is also the author of several other books including The Littlest Wrangler,  a two-time, award-winning young reader book for ages 6 - 8 published by Moonlight Mesa Associates. There are FREE teaching materials for this book also.



EBOOKS ON SALE


Most of our western ebooks are currently reduced in price, and there are some GREAT buys. You can purchase Paula Silici's yummy western action/romance, A Way in the Wilderness, for $2.99 as well as Award-Winning Tales (this title available only on Kindle). The other westerns are priced from 3.99 to 5.95. In addition, the entire Ben Thomas Trilogy is priced at 5.95 each. These prices will be good through October and probably will be raised later in November. The books are available on ALL electronic readers (except Award-Winning Tales is available only on Kindle).

We are trying this price reduction as an experiment. Oddly enough, it looks like we have MORE sales when the prices are higher!! I suspect this is because many people associate "cheaper" prices with books that are, shall we say, not so well written.                                          


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Western Novella Contest a Possibility & Author Awards Galore

After a year...make that two...of thinking about a novella contest, we are almost on the verge of announcing the 2015 Cowboy Up Novella Contest. The Cowboy Up Short Story Contest had a good three-year run, and we read hundreds of fabulous western short stories. We even produced a terrific anthology based on the first two years' winners (Award-Winning Tales). We read so many stories that after three years they began to sound familiar. And our panel of judges got worn out.

However, we've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of creative people who need an opportunity to have their voices heard. None of us was anxious to revive the short story genre, but the more we've discussed a novella contest, the more enthused we've become. A novella would allow an author to truly develop characters and plot.

I will be making an announcement in early December on this issue. If we proceed with the contest, it would run in 2015 and an anthology containing the top three novellas would be published in 2016. We currently have three judges lined up, but I hope to have five  by the time of the contest. There are a lot of preparations and decisions we must make before we can proceed...if we proceed.



AUTHORS FARE DARN WELL IN CONTESTS

September has been a bumper month for contests! Robert Walton, author of Dawn Drums, recently received notice from the New Mexico Book Awards that his historical Civil War novel is a finalist in TWO categories: Historical Fiction and also in Young Adult. Final results will be announced in November.





Sam's Desert Adventure by Jonah Arizona is now up for its THIRD award in children's literature. The young reader for ages 8 - 10 is a finalist in the annual Harvest Book Awards. Top winners will be announced in October.


Finally, J.R. Sanders' Some Gave All is en route to the Oklahoma Western Heritage Awards. Sanders' book has become Moonlight Mesa's number one selling nonfiction title this year. Some Gave All, a nonfiction account of lawmen in the old west who died in the line of duty, has received multiple, outstanding reviews. The book has 40 original photos and tintypes, and an extensive bibliography. This is a wonderful book for western history buffs and for those who like true-life adventure. The beauty of this book is that the author tells not only about the victims, but also about the crime, the criminal, and the judicial outcomes.




SEPTEMBER BEST SALES MONTH EVER

September 2014 has been the best sales month in the brief history of Moonlight Mesa Associates. To be honest, our success this month was due in large part to one of our distributors buying 22 cases of books. Dave Strain of Dakota West Books purchased 20 cases of Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride along with 2 cases of Some Gave All.  In addition, Ingram sales were outstanding, and Kindle sales were up also.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of our sales occur September through April. Period. Summers are traditionally excruciatingly quite slow, which is why the small staff here takes off in all directions for four or five months.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Western Novel Gunslinger Justice to be Released Early Pre-Order NOW

Due to popular demand, Gunslinger Justice, the final book in the Jake Silver Adventure Series by author Jere D. James, will be released in September. Gunslinger Justice features Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Silver, gunslinger Richard Moody, outlaw Diego Fuentes, and Apache Nantan Lupan.

We will be running a special on the books, offering the entire set of six books for $60 + s/h. That is $10 a book and is a savings of $6.00 a book, or $36 overall. We'll ship the books however people would like them shipped: media mail or USPS Priority Flat Rate. The books will each be signed by the author, also. These books make a terrific gift for people who love to read Westerns! Books must be ordered from our website, however, to get this special offer. You can use VISA etc. but you'll have to fill out the order form to do so, or call. Give us a few days to get the prices changed and to get Gunslinger Justice in stock. www.moonlightmesaassociates.com

Gunslinger Justice will also be available in a large-print edition, as are all the other Jere D. James titles. Our special for the large-print edition is $17.95 per book + s/h. That is a $2 savings per book.

And, even more, for a limited time Gunslinger Justice can be pre-ordered on Kindle and other ebooks for the low, LOW price of $3.99. Normally we start all new books off at 8.95 or better. However, since this is the LAST of the Jake Silver books we are offering this GREAT price. In fact, all of the westerns have been reduced in price as part of this promotion.

Jere D. James has very skillfully brought the six-book Jake Silver Adventure Series to a close. However, be forewarned that readers will be utterly, absolutely, and completely shocked by the ending, but Jere is firm that the ending stays as is.

The author is currently working on two books and is hoping to have another Western completed by early 2015.

SOME GAVE ALL SOARS TO THE FRONT

J.R. Sanders' outstanding historical nonfiction book, Some Gave All, ousted Moonlight Mesa's top-selling Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride in the first half of the year in Ingram sales. This is the first time the best-selling Casey Tibbs biography has been outsold in Ingram sales. Sanders' book is not yet available in e-reader format, however, so the edge in sales may still favor Casey. If I wasn't so caught up with bad-mouthing politicians on Twitter I'd have that information handy. Casey-Tibbs - Born to Ride is a perennially top-selling title and has withstood the test of time. I think Sanders' book will do likewise..

J.R. Sanders has done a number of signings and appearances since his book came out, and he is also very active on Facebook. (Wish I could say the same, but it's just not in me!)


DISCOUNT COMING TO E-BOOKS

We will be experimenting shortly here with discounted prices on e-books, particularly some of the books that have been out for a spell. If we see an improvement in the sales of these older titles, we will also look into increasing the author share of the profit. Seems only fair! We are currently evaluating which books we want to discount and have decided to start with the westerns, including Gunslinger Justice which will be released as an ebook September 30 as I said earlier.

Moonlight Mesa's ebooks are available on literally every e-reader in existence, although Kindle sales provide our biggest source of revenue.

Has it been a long, hot summer, or what?














Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Publisher Gravely Injured in Freak Accident

It's true. I suffered grave injury to three toes on my right foot when I accidentally slammed by bare foot into a metal post on the mini-trampoline that sits in the corner of my office. After I rolled around on the floor, howling like a wounded hog, I crawled off for a bag of ice and sympathy from anyone and everyone. Okay, maybe it wasn't a grave injury, but nevertheless, after two weeks, two of my toes still look like little fat, bruised sausages, and I absolutely cannot wear a shoe on that foot.

Having to wear flip-flops everywhere presents a challenge, particularly when I go out to feed the mules and tend to my chickens. The hens have a propensity to peck at my feet which causes me extreme stress even when my toes are not injured. As for the mules, I warily guard against one of them stepping on a foot, not that they ever have. (However, one of our horses that clearly had ADHD stepped on me twice and stood there both time gazing raptly into the distance, oblivious to my screaming and pounding on his side.)

Having my toes incapacitated  has stirred up some irritability. Fortunately, my husband bears the brunt of this and not too many customers, although I did lose three "friends" on Facebook. Okay, I admit I went on a rant. But what's not to rant about nowadays?

On the bright side, we may be releasing Jere D. James' final book in the Jake Silver Adventure series: Gunslinger Justice. Since I'm incapacitated and pretty much stuck in my office, I'm thinking mid-September now instead of late October. Meanwhile, Jere is working on a new project...not a western. James says he needs a break from writing six westerns in five years. He'll resume the westerns after his current project is finished which, judging by the amount of time he spends in my office on a computer, should be any day! I exaggerate only slightly.



In other Moonlight Mesa news, J.R. Sanders' Some Gave All outsold all other nonfiction books in the first half of this year. This includes Ingram sales as well as Moonlight Mesa sales. Sanders' book is not available in e-reader format at this time, so these were all hard copy sales.


Rusty Richards' Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride came in second in nonfiction sales, followed by Lee Anderson's Developing the Art of Equine Communication.

Finally, for anyone looking for a good buy, or for early  Christmas gifts, all of our westerns are featured at a 25 - 50% discount on all e-reader devices except Kindle. On our website, one can order all five of the Jake Silver books for the discounted price of $60 and receive FREE S/H. You will have the opportunity to buy the sixth and final book when it comes out at the reduced price.

Hopefully, I'll be back in the saddle soon. Until then, wear shoes and keep your feet safe.

Western Book Publisher,

Becky




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moonlight Mesa Associates Publisher Needs "Relationships"

It's hot here in Arizona right now. Some people say they don't mind the heat, but I know they're really just saying that so they seem tough. I don't mind admitting that the heat is horrible. I get up at 4:30 a.m., okay - the truth is it's 5:30  - and start my day. I usually saddle up at 6:30 and leave on my ride by 7:00. But you can bet I'm back by 9:00. I even bought a "cool vest" to help me tolerate the heat. It works tolerably well, too. (See the picture here of me on my little Bouquet who died this past winter. I am wearing my "warm vest" in this photo because it was COLD.)

I envy Renee off in Montana with her cowboy boyfriend - I don't envy the boyfriend part, just to clarify - but I do envy the Montana part. Besides, Renee refuses to do the blogs anymore, so here I am.

Then there's our acquisitions editor who disappears every summer.

Our historical editor, who also covers shipping,  is still around. See, you have to be able to multitask to work here.

However, Facebutt, I mean Facebook,  is keeping me wildly entertained on these long, hot afternoons. I even took a class in using social media. Wow. Was I ignorant before taking that one hour class. I now know all about FB, Twitter, Pin It, Instagram, and so much more that I didn't know about before that I'm surprised I was able to function in this world at all.

I learned FB is not for selling things. Well, deep down  you hope you do, but if you push sales then people will "unfriend" you. That would smart, wouldn't it? FB is all about "relationships." So, now I'm busily asking people to please "like" me even though I have no idea if people are mass murderers, psychopaths,  government spies, or members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Not very many people respond, however. Maybe they suspect my true motive.

However, for those of you who want to help further my cause to sneakily sell you a book using a feigned "friendship," please "LIKE" me on Facebook. Or better yet, just like Moonlight Mesa Associates. Everyone who works here is really, really nice and worthy of being liked. Not me, particularly, but everyone else is. And here's what else I learned: if I "LIKE" you, then you're supposed to "LIKE" me, and we're one happy family.

As Marshall McLuhan once said, "The Medium is the Message." Social Media is the new Medium.

As far as the publishing business goes, who has time when there's all this fun stuff to do!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Publisher Resolves to "DO NO HARM"

Oh dear. Time for another post for this blog. Last month I managed to raise the ire of a few British writers - and Montana Renee -  who has informed me she doesn't want to do the blogs anymore. Can't say as I blame her.

Even though Renee's name was appended to the blog, the fact is I basically told her what to say, so I took the heat for it -  as I should.

Before I go off on another tangent I want to make it clear that, believe it or not, I do not try to upset people. In fact, every year I make the same two New Years Resolutions. One is to DO NO HARM. This applies to myself as well as to others, the environment, etc. The second resolution is to do ONE ACT OF RANDOM KINDESS A WEEK. Honestly, sometimes I get woefully behind in this one. But, the bottom line is, last month's blog definitely caused some people to react a bit strongly. Now, you have to understand that I am a person who is ultimately a peacemaker. It's a fault, I know, but it's who I am - most of the time, anyway. I don't like to see people upset or angry. I often go out of my way to try and make people happier...even total strangers...like I said, it's a fault.

So, back to business....I have yet another awful confession, but the TRUTH WILL OUT. I gave up. I finally hired someone to start a Facebook page for Moonlight Mesa Associates. I'm not sure why I hired them because I don't like their posts and have taken to deleting them and doing my own. I know I know. Two months or so ago I cast aspersions on using social media as a marketing tool, or whatever I said. I cannot possibly remember what I said two months ago. Anyway, my staff (small in number but hardy in spirit) finally talked me into at least trying to use social media. Of course, no one among them wanted to take the project on - I think they were fearful lest the attempt end in failure. So I hired it out, which so far has been a  waste of $$. I'll let you know how things go, however. Summer is usually quite slow for sales for us, so if we have an uptick at all, I may be inclined to credit Facebook even though I really don't want to do so.

Oh, yes, by the way, please "LIKE" us on Facebook. (It kills me to say that.) Somewhere I have to get that button that you can just click. Hmm. Wonder where that is.

NO PEACE ON TWITTER

I may like to think of myself as a peacemaker, but honestly, I get on Twitter and just start beating up on Barry Obama. (I like the name his mother gave him much better than the odious Barack tag.) I don't know what it is about Twitter, but I'm darn good at bashing this guy. Now, if you're a B.O. supporter, don't get all riled up. I'm not ruthless. At least the guy has kept us out of more senseless wars. But, you know, it's hard to be nice when someone lies and acts like he's royalty - well, never mind. No need to go there. They're ALL CORRUPT anyway. I just added this so people don't think I'm some sort of goody-two-shoes.


GUNSLINGER JUSTICE

For those who are anxiously awaiting the next, and last, Jake Silver Adventure, the final book  (Gunslinger Justice) will be out right around October 1. In addition, Jere D. James has signed a contract for another three books (westerns). It'll be interesting to see what happens if Jake is no longer getting shot and racing madly around Arizona and Mexico.


NO FICTION - NO SHORT STORY CONTEST

We are still not accepting fiction manuscripts - only nonfiction. And, we have decided we will not be running a short story contest in 2015. Maybe 2016.


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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW FOR BEST RESULTS - pub. opinion

One of the first pieces of advice that publisher Becky Coffield offers aspiring fiction writers (those who bother to ask her advice anyway) is to WRITE WHAT THEY KNOW.

"Although we do have a manuscript acquisitions editor, I peruse most of the manuscripts  we receive. Occasionally I read the entire submission; often I only read a few pages. What definitely shortens my reading time is when it becomes painfully obvious that the author does not really know what they are writing about," Coffield said.

"Being a western book publisher, the biggest offenders that I come across, of course, are people who write westerns but really have no idea about the west, about horses or riding horses, or about western culture. I've even read western books that authors have self-published and then want us to re-publish (which we don't do, by the way). There are just too many dead giveaways in most of these books that the author doesn't really know what's what. The author may love reading westerns and watching western movies, etc., but they often have no personal experience with what they're writing about."

Coffield went on to say that some people can write successfully on a topic they've not had any experience with, but it's rare. "That's why the best books are written by people who've LIVED it, or have a very close connection with the topic," Coffield said.

 "Authors need to remember, that when they're writing a western, or detective novel, or war novel, that there are people who have been there and know the subject! Researching something is NOT the same as living it. I once read a pathetic, predictable  western that actually had been published by a publishing company in England where the author used the term  'draw leather' on almost every page. I have lived in the west my entire life and heard that expression maybe once. I'm not saying an Englishman can't write a western, but I'd say he/she could probably produce a better book if they stayed local. It was painfully obvious the book was not written by a person really familiar with the culture of the west."

"This is not to say the aspiring writer can't write a great book," Coffield hastened to add. "A person just needs to write  what they know about. If you know about life in China, then center your book around that - not about someone living in Texas if you've never even been to Texas. If you've flown airplanes, base your novel around your knowledge. Better yet, write a nonfiction book about flying and airplanes!"

"In my opinion, for best results write what you know," Coffield said.

 "I think one reason Jere D. James' books are so popular is because James walks the talk. The author is western born and raised, rides horses (and a mule), and lives in Arizona. James does not set books in New Mexico or Wyoming, but the author does know Arizona, and every Jake Silver book is set in a different location in Arizona," Coffield said,"and James spends months in each location while writing the book."

Although Robert Walton, author of Dawn Drums, is not a southerner, the fact is Walton spent 36 years teaching social studies and specializing in the Civil War era. His research for Dawn Drums was extensive, and as a result his book is riveting, factual, and real. Walton is not only a speaker on the Civil War, but also participates in re-enacting and still works extensively with students on this topic .

J.R. Sanders, author of Some Gave All (nonfiction) and the two-time, award-winning The Littlest Wrangler was born and reared in Kansas, home of some of the wildest outlaws in the West. Sanders' knowledge and gut feelings for the West shows in his writing, too. His intensive research, along with a love and knowledge of all things western, makes his books hard to put down. Sanders is also a western re-enactor. He knows period correct clothing, guns of the era, etc.


Besides being a singer, songwriter, poet, and actor, Rusty Richards also rode bulls in rodeo competitions. In addition he was best friends with Casey Tibbs, whose biography Rusty wrote. His firsthand knowledge of Casey and rodeo made his book a sure-fire hit.

Finally, P.A. Arnold, author of Getting a Handle on Herpes, was able to write such a terrific book about this topic because of her own experience with genital herpes. Arnold knows how herpes sufferers feel; she knows the problems they face and the self-imposed shame most impose on themselves. This first-hand knowledge is what makes her book so very helpful to those who have this virus.