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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Evening with Michigan Author D.E. Johnson

Last night, Michigan mystery writer, D.E. (Dan) Johnson read from his first book, Detroit Electric Scheme, and shared tips with the West Side Gang. The Gang is a group of local writers, some published, others not, who meet twice a month for mutual critiquing and support. This was a special session, and the turnout was good (for us) with about 20 people attending.

First, Dan read the first few pages of Detroit Electric Scheme, a real attention grabber. It's set in 1910 Detroit, with a murder against the background of the electric car industry. It's not only a fast-paced mystery, but serves up a good dose of history without being pushy about it.

He also outlined some tips for getting published:

1. Make sure your first sentence can command attention. Most agents don't read past the first few when receiving queries.

2. Get feedback about your work. Join a writers' group, find "alpha readers," etc. If one person feels that some section or sentence doesn't work, it may not be a big deal, but if multiple people tell you that something needs changing, no matter how much you like it, you can pretty much count on the fact that it needs changing.

3. Maximize your opportunities to get noticed:
• cultivate interactions with published authors- they can give you suggestions for agents, help you make connections, etc
• send lots of queries- he sent over 100
• find the right niche- if you write a successful mystery, your publisher isn't going to let you switch to a thriller for your next book
• put yourself in the right place at the right time- this is like networking, only smarter.

Since I'm a big mystery fan anyway, of course I bought the book. That isn't me in the picture, but it's another satisfied mystery customer.

Another tip he gave, that I've tried to follow, is to send copies of your book to influential people who may actually read it. One person Dan sent a copy to is Jay Leno, because of his large car collection. This gesture landed him a segment on Leno's web site. Great publicity!

I have to confess that I almost didn't go because I'd never heard of D.E. Johnson, but I'm really glad I did. He's a newly published author who is going places.

1 comment:

Michelle Devon (Michy) said...

I'm glad you went too. I've added this to my 'to buy' list! Thanks!