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.


BOYD RANCH MULE RIDE

Anyone interested in receiving the Boyd Ranch Mule Ride newsletter, let me know. Send your email address. It's FREE and it's quarterly.


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.











Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Marketing Pitfalls

Moonlight Mesa Associates is no different than any other small publishing house - or from any invested self-publisher for that matter. "Everyone can get a book published nowadays," says Moonlight Mesa publisher Becky Coffield. "Selling the dang things is where ALL the work is."

As Coffield sees it, there are three main ways to get a book into the public's eye: advertising, social media, word of mouth. Of course these three methods can overlap, but generally these are the three broad categories publishers and authors alike tend to use to promote their titles. The question is, which category is the most effective at selling books. "One must take into account time and money in this matter," Coffield added.

Essentially, there is no magic key to unlocking the marketing conundrum. Social media has been a  hugely popular avenue for many authors trying to recruit readers, especially self-published authors. How effective is social media? "That's hard to say," Coffield said. "I know that many FBers think that using social media to push merchandise is extremely annoying. I suspect more people become turned off by the self-promotion than become interested. One of the reasons we quit participating in FB was because of the continuous self-promotion by (usually) amateur authors."

"I don't really see Twitter as being a very effective marketing tool for authors either. I'm sure both FB and Twitter are helpful to some people, but overall the time invested in tweeting and FBing can be enormous. Might there not be better, more fruitful ways to promote a book? I think so."

If the publisher doesn't like social media, how about advertising in other venues? "Advertising has potential, but it is very expensive, especially in today's print magazines. We have seriously advertised different titles for three or more months and not sold one book due to the ad. That's exasperating and a complete waste of money. We've yet to try online advertising. I'm a bit gun shy after our experience with print, to be honest." The publisher went on to add, "I know that big publishing houses use advertising extensively, so it must be profitable for them. I think they have much deeper pockets, though, than small houses like ours."

Obviously, if the publisher doesn't care for social media or print advertising, that leaves only one option: word of mouth. "I believe word of mouth is the most cost effective way to promote books, especially for small publishing houses and self-publishers. It's time consuming, no doubt, but it generally isn't very expensive, and results can be seen right away. Can people use word of mouth on FB? Sure, but they need to not be so damn pushy and annoying about it."

"I know for a fact that Jere D. James, author of the popular Jake Silver Adventure Series,  has a large following because of word of mouth. James has been at many signings and has spoken at several appearances. It has paid off. Does James tweet or FB? The author doesn't FB at all after a brief stint at it but  does tweet on very rare occasions," Coffield said. "James does not maintain a website, blog, or do any of the things I've asked. But the Jake Silver books keep us in business, so what can I say?"




Rusty Richards is another of our authors who has sold literally thousands of copies of his biography, Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride. "While we did run one semi-successful magazine ad for the book, by far the vast majority of Rusty's sales have stemmed from his public appearances and word of mouth among many rodeo fans," the publisher said.



Lee Anderson, author of Developing the Art of Equine Communication, is another author whose public appearances generate book sales. The same is true for J.R. Sanders, author of the newly released historical western, Some Gave All.





Then, there are some books that simply sell themselves with no advertising or promotional effort on the part of the author or publisher. "These books are gems!" Coffield said. "Getting a Handle on Herpes is probably one of our best-selling books. We've not put a penny into advertising."




There are also books that seem almost timeless. Life Was A Cabaret - A Tale of Two Fools, A Boat, and a Big-A** Ocean is one of those. I did a lot of presentations when the book first came out, but I haven't done any in years, yet the book still sells," the publisher said. "I suppose as long as there are sailors, the book will appeal to some of them."


Sometimes it seems word of mouth gets off to a slow start, but authors should not get too discouraged, according to the publisher. "I think if people keep plugging away, they'll see some results, I truly do. But it takes persistence, determination, and a belief in yourself," Coffield said. "Most authors give up too easily. Selling books is damn hard work."

Do reviews help? "Sometimes. It depends on who is doing the review. If the review is on Amazon, not so much. If the review is by the NY Times, probably so. Fake reviews are easy to spot. Don't do it. You'll lose credibility, and that's hard to earn back," Coffield said. "Winning an award can be helpful, but it's certainly no guarantee of overnight success."

Coffield has spoken extensively to writing groups
about book promotion and will be offering an ebook on the subject later this fall.

Renee Witty


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Civil War and Dawn Drums in the News

Robert Walton's Dawn Drums, a Civil War historical novel, is perfectly timed for the upcoming sesquicentennial celebrations of the Civil War.

As Walton so aptly explains, "May of 1864 was perhaps the Civil War's most terrible month. Dawn Drums begins at this crucial time and its action coincides closely with the sesquicentennial of the events it depicts."

Far more "historical" than any historical novel I've ever read, Dawn Drums literally is an eye-opener to the most brutal of all wars that Americans have ever fought. Newly released information suggests that casualties were far greater than the 600,000 usually cited.

The book, originally intended for young adult readers and up, has proven to be a huge success with both the young adult and adult reader. Already several schools in California are using the book in the classroom. The Dawn Drums website even has teaching activities to accompany the book. You can find all this information and more at Walton's blog: http://dawndrums.wordpress.com/blogs/

This is a book for all ages. Everyone in our office found Dawn Drums positively riveting, and trust me when I say we're no spring chickens. I personally learned more about the Civil War in this book than I ever ever learned in school where we spent perhaps 30 minutes on the subject. Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and places like these were just words and had no meaning until I read Walton's book. I now "get it." This war was, indeed, the worst war this country has ever waged.


PUBLISHER ANNOUNCES 2014 CALENDAR

Announced late last year, and no surprise to anyone, Moonlight Mesa will publish only two books this year.
Gunslinger Justice, Jere D. James' final book in the Jake Silver series, will be released later this fall.

New to the calendar is a nonfiction travel/adventure book. "I hope to have it in print by Gold Rush of 2015," the publisher said. "It's going to be really, really close. To be honest, I'm not sure we'll make it. This will be a multi-volume undertaking, though, so we need to get off to a good, solid start."
.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting a Handle on Herpes with Vitamin C

Even though we almost exclusively blog about our Western titles, we do have other titles in print, and a most remarkable one is by P.A. Arnold who wrote Getting a Handle on Herpes.

How we came to publish this small ebook is a long story, but we did, and we are happy we did. When the author approached me with the project, my immediate reaction was no, not for us, but because she was such a kindly older woman I gave her manuscript a perusal, and I was blown away by what she'd written.

Arnold, a "woman of age," as she describes herself, has written not just an informative book about genital herpes, but an engaging, positive, and somewhat uplifting book.

Arnold deals with every aspect of genital herpes, from what exactly a virus is, to how it is spread (and she has documentation showing it is not always and only through sexual contact as almost all doctors insist) and various protocols for treating this condition. She is wonderful at encouraging the reader to keep the "disease" in perspective and to keep a positive attitude.


But Arnold goes way beyond this. The author quotes extensively from authors such as Dr. Thomas Levy (now considered by many to be the leading vitamin C guru in the country), Linus Pauling, a former leading expert on vitamin C therapy, and Dr. Eric Braverman (The Healing Nutrients Within).

The book, sometimes humorous but always sincere, discusses how each person may have to spend some time finding their own treatment protocol. While it is tempting to rush from one promising product advertised on the web to another, she feels the time a person spends figuring out what truly works for them is invaluable. She also discusses how to accept the condition and not let it take control of your life and happiness.

Arnold's goal in writing the book was not monetary. She wanted us to "give the book away," but we did have substantial costs in putting the book out (for one thing I had to buy and read all the books that Arnold references, plus pay for the cover design, editing, etc.) but we did agree to charge only a nominal fee. I suspected it would take years to get our money back. Was I ever wrong. Even at $3.95 we had recouped our expenses within the first quarter of the book's release.

You see, it turns out that 1 out of 4 women carry the genital herpes virus, and about 1 out of 7 men (some statistics say 1 out of 5 men). That's a lot of people, many of whom have no idea they are carrying and unwittingly spreading the virus. For many women, their first pregnancy is a shocker when their hormones rapidly change, giving the herpes virus a chance to raise its ugly head. For others, menopause is the welcoming time. The point is, a person can have herpes for decades and not know, yet be "shedding" the virus regularly.

Some people, obviously, discover they have herpes very soon after a sexual encounter. Many are very young and struggle with horrible depression and low self-esteem because of it. This is not necessary.

Arnold herself has not had a herpes outbreak in many years. Ultimately she started taking large doses of vitamin C every single day. She did this for two years and remained herpes free. Eventually her body began to rebel against such large doses of the vitamin and she was forced to cut back. She still takes the vitamin, between 2 and 4 grams per day, but spreads it throughout the day and has had no trouble...and no outbreaks. She works to keep stress at a minimum, since stress is a major cause of outbreaks. She eats well, exercises, and basically takes good care of herself. Her herpes has remained dormant. She admits her protocol may not work for everyone, but she believes that everyone can find the right treatment that will work for them.

Getting a Handle on Herpes is available in all e-reader formats for $3.95. If you have genital herpes, or you know someone who does, we think it's well worth your time to take a look at what Arnold has to say. She discusses many options a person may never have considered.

It is important to note that Arnold never advocates a specific remedy. She is upfront about the fact that she is not a medical practitioner. She simply shares with readers valuable ideas she has garnered from many resources. She hopes the ideas she presents will spur readers into exploring on their own and finding a natural way of treating their own herpes.