My Publishing Journey: Facebook Release Day Party (the good and the not so good)

facebook-logoRegular readers of my blog know that I have been very honest about my publishing journey, starting with my very first post The First Cut is the Deepest. Part of that journey has required marketing, something I had virtually no experience with before embarking on this venture. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s my least favorite part of being an author, but I recognize that it’s a necessary part, and I’ve tried any number of things from guesting on other blogs to Goodreads and other giveaways.

What I’ve discovered is this: Regardless of the platform, there’s the good and the not so good. [An example of the not-so-good would be the time the guy who won a paperback copy of The Hanged Man’s Noose immediately turned around and tried to sell it on Amazon as a signed author copy.] But this post is about my Facebook Release Day Party, held August 21st on my Facebook Author page.  I’d never hosted a FB party before, but my publisher, Imajin Books, was keen on the idea, and so I referred a lot to this post by author Kristina Stanley when I was setting it up. Here’s what I learned:

Advance Preparation

The first step was to pick a date and time. I decided on the actual release date of Skeletons — August 21 — and the time as 3 to 5 p.m. EST. You can’t please everybody in every time zone, so I went with what worked best for me.

The next step was to contact other authors via my various Yahoo groups (Sisters in Crime – Guppy Branch, Short Mystery Fiction Society, other Imajin authors, as an example) to see if any of them would be willing to donate an eBook copy of one of their titles. I suggested eBooks, as this keeps the cost affordable for authors. This was a definite “Good.” I had several authors offer (so many, in fact, that I had to turn some down). In the end, I had 20 authors, plus me, donating eBooks as prizes. You can see the list of authors here.

sheet1That “Good” turned out to be too much of a good thing. There was no way I could reasonably expect to giveaway 20 books individually in two hours, while trying to  help promote those authors at the same time. I created an Excel spreadsheet with the authors’ names, email address, book title, genre, and decided to “bundle” the books. For example, the “Colorful” bundle included Blood Red Homicide by Gail Baugniet and The Blue Diamond by Lynn Franklin. A “Short Story” bundle included collections by Terrie Farley Moran, B.K. Stevens, and Conda V. Douglas.

Once I’d done that, I added a blurb about each book to the spreadsheet, as well as a trivia question and answer (these I got from Amazon). The idea was that folks would answer the trivia question for a chance to win — but they’d also visit the author’s book page. I also created a folder of book covers.

At this point I was feeling pretty smug. My spreadsheet had all the information I needed and my folder had all the book covers. I then proceeded to create posts on Amazon, scheduled for December 25th (so as not to inadvertently post before the party). Each post included information on the bundle and the book covers, with the authors tagged in the post. Here comes the bad. The Events page does not allow you to use pre-prepared posts. Unfortunately, I figured that out AFTER I’d created all of them! I was, however, able to post a detailed description of the event, which I did about two weeks in advance.

13872958_1032006416907191_5322465021050189040_nThe next  pre-event step included getting a banner made to use on Facebook and on my website as a promo. I tried to do this on Canva, but couldn’t seem to come up with anything professional. I hired a graphic artist on Fiverr, and was very pleased with the result ($5US).

The final step was to send out invitations. Facebook limits invitations to friends, and caps at 500. I was told to send out about a week in advance, and that timing seemed to work. I also posted the banner on Facebook in various groups, and on Twitter.

Event Day

My plan was to post one bundle every 10-15 minutes, followed by individual posts about each book. I used my previously scheduled posts and copy and pasted them (I still had to add the photos, but at least I didn’t have to rewrite them). If I was doing this again, I’d make a word document with each post. Simpler to copy and paste!

Things went well for the first 30 minutes or so, but quickly went south. It was hard to keep up with posting, commenting, selecting winners — and I’d neglected to pin my “Welcome” thread to the top and so completely forgot about it. Somewhere along the way, my earlier party posts stopped showing up.  To this day, they remain frozen in cyberspace, completely inaccessible. That is a definite “Bad” and to my mind, a real failing in the Facebook party platform.

The Results

14054258_661721003980702_437727548453053318_nThe purpose of a Facebook Release Day Party is, of course, promotion. Did it work? Probably. By the end of the day, Skeletons in the Attic was #2 as a Hot New Release: Psychics (ahead of Stephen King and next to Heather Graham) and #7 as a Hot New Release in International Mystery and Crime.How much these results had to do with the party and how much had to do with my pre-sale promotion and release day blogs is difficult to measure. I do know that of the 249 people I invited, only 39 people attended, and several of those were the authors who donated books.

Would I do it again? I don’t know. Definitely not without a helper, someone to post while I replied to comments. I’ve also been told by other authors that the first Facebook party you host gets the most attendees; some authors I know have had as few as 14 guests, and 20 seems to be about the average. There’s also the amount of prep work involved, which as you can see from the beginning of this post, was considerable. And the whole “frozen in cyberspace” snafu. So I’m leaning strongly towards “no” and will probably look for an alternate Release Day strategy for my next book. That won’t be until sometime in 2017. Who knows what the next hot thing will be by then? I suppose only time will tell.

New Release Mondays: Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk (& a giveaway!)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]I’m so excited to announce my newest book on New Release Mondays. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of  Skeletons in the Attic (if you’ve already bought it through pre-order,  I can gift you any one of my other books available on Amazon). One winner will be selected at random on August 26th. Good luck!

Author Name: Judy Penz Sheluk

Book Title: Skeletons in the Attic

Book Genre: Mystery

Release Date: August 21, 2016

Synopsis: Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Excerpt: Leith Hampton placed the will in front of him, smoothing an invisible crease with a well-manicured hand, the nails showing evidence of a vigorous buffing. I wondered what kind of man went in for a mani-pedi—I was surmising on the pedi—and decided it was the kind of man who billed his services out for five hundred dollars an hour.

He cleared his throat and stared at me with those intense blue eyes. “Are you sure you’re ready, Calamity? I know how close you were to your father.”

I flinched at the Calamity. Folks called me Callie or they didn’t call me at all. Only my dad had been allowed to call me Calamity, and even then only when he was seriously annoyed with me, and never in public. It was a deal we’d made back in elementary school. Kids can be cruel enough without the added incentive of a name like Calamity.

As for being ready, I’d been ready for the past ninety-plus minutes. I’d been ready since I first got the call telling me my father had been involved in an unfortunate occupational accident. That’s how the detached voice on the other end of the phone had put it. An unfortunate occupational accident.

I knew at some point I’d have to face the fact that my dad wasn’t coming back, that we’d never again argue over politics or share a laugh while watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Knew that one day I’d sit down and have a good long cry, but right now wasn’t the time, and this certainly wasn’t the place. I’d long ago learned to store my feelings into carefully constructed compartments. I leveled Leith with a dry-eyed stare and nodded.

“I’m ready.”

Did I pique your interest? If so, you can read a larger excerpt from Skeletons in the Attic on Amazon.

IMG_4019About the Author:

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, was published in July 2015 by Barking Rain Press.

Skeletons in the Attic, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her Marketville Mystery series, was published in August 2016 by Imajin Books. Read the complete bio here.

Buy the Book

Don’t forget to leave a comment for you chance to win a Kindle copy  of Skeletons in the Attic: if you’ve already bought it through pre-order, I can gift you any one of my other books available on Amazon

Good Luck! And thank you for reading my blog.


My Publishing Journey: Release Day!

It's Release Day!

Facebook Party: There are 20 authors participating with eBook giveaways!

Find Skeletons in the Attic

You’re Invited to a Facebook Release Day Party!

13872958_1032006416907191_5322465021050189040_nJoin me and other authors on Facebook Sunday, August 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST. We will be giving away several eBook bundles covering Mystery, Cozy, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance, Short Stories and more! Here’s a list of participating authors and the book titles they have so generously donated to help me celebrate:

Vicki Batman: Temporarily Employed
Gail Baugniet: Blood Red Homicide
Conda V. Douglas: Mild West Mysteries
Lynn Franklin:The Blue Diamond
Donna Galanti: The Human Element
Jane Gorman: What She Fears
Lc Hayden: Secrets of the Tunnels
Heather Hiestand: A Treasure in Laguna
Molly MacRae: Last Wool and Testament
Barbara Monajem: The Rake’s Irish Lady
Terrie Farley Moran: The Awareness and other deadly tales
Author Luke Murphy: Dead Man’s Hand
Judy Penz Sheluk: The Hanged Man’s Noose/Live Free or Tri/Unhappy Endings
Linda Reilly: Out of the Dying Pan
Josie Riviera: Seeking Patience
Laurence St John Author: Metatron: The Angel Has Risen
Kristina Stanley: Descent
B.k. Stevens: Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime
Eileen Schuh: The Traz
Cheryl Kaye Tardif: Divine Intervention
Jessie B Tyson: White Heaven Women

I hope to “meet” you there!

New Release Mondays: Doubtful Relations by James M. Jackson

DR Cover 480x300Author:  James M. Jackson

Book Title: Doubtful Relations (Seamus McCree #4)

Book Genre: Suspense

Release Date: August 23, 2016 (Available for pre-order)

Synopsis: Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappeared while traveling, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.

Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, Doubtful Relations takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.

Excerpt: Alone on the stage, she [Seamus’s mother] spoke into the microphone so softly people leaned forward to hear her. She told the story of my father’s death—a cop killed on duty when I was young. She spoke of her struggles to get her children through college, and how once I had graduated she had retreated to silence for more than two decades. Two years ago she resumed limited verbal communications and now you couldn’t shut her up—the crowd always laughed at the line.

I was unprepared the first time she made her speech, and bawled. Partly because she spoke of my father’s death. Partly because she exposed her vulnerabilities to a crowd of strangers, something I could no more do than don a cape and fly like Superman. It had taken me a while, but I could now listen to her story without getting teary.

That night, no one talked, no one moved, no one even drank their beer while she spoke of loss and redemption. Applause pulled me from woolgathering about what tomorrow would bring. I should have been focusing on the task at hand, steadying myself instead of worrying myself into what was quickly becoming a throbbing headache. Not good, and no time for a pain reliever. Mom waited for the applause to die down before she spoke.

“I have one final proposition for you tonight. A small wager, should you choose to participate. But first, I need to accessorize.”

On cue, the emcee came on stage and tied a bandanna across Mom’s eyes. She tapped the microphone with her finger and at the sound the audience settled. “Give me five darts and I’ll bet I can hit the bull’s eye.” The crowd’s murmur swelled. Mom raised her hand and they quieted. “I’ll throw an exploratory dart. My son, Seamus—oh, Shay-mus, where are you?”

Her singsong calling of my name was my cue. I ambled down the middle aisle to polite applause. Once on stage, I gave her a hug.

jmj-headshotAbout the author: James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. ANT FARM, BAD POLICY, CABIN FEVER, and DOUBTFUL RELATIONS (8/23/16). Jim also published an acclaimed book on contract bridge, One Trick at a Time How to start winning at bridge, as well as numerous short stories and essays. He is the president of the 600-member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry.

You can find more information about Jim (including social media links) and his writing (including purchase links) on his website.

Find The Book



Before They Were Authors: Sara Jayne Townsend

Suffer The Children 200X300I’m excited  to introduce a new series, “Before They Were Authors.” My first guest is Sara Jayne Townsend, a UK-based writer of crime and horror fiction, and author of the Shara Summers amateur sleuth series (DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL available now; book 3 will be released in 2017). Her latest release is the supernatural horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN, from MuseItUp PublishingDeath Scene 200x300







Judy: What was the worst job you ever had, and how has it influenced your writing?

Sara: I once spent three years working as Office Manager for a very small company owned by a man who was a complete bully. He was also the youngest child in a rather large family and I think was too used to getting his own way. He used to yell at people all the time, including me, if things didn’t go the way he wanted them to. I used to yell back and then go storming back to my desk, which in retrospect wasn’t the best way to handle things – especially since most of the time it was just the two of us in the office. I stayed in that job far longer than I should have done, because I didn’t want to leave until I had another job lined up, but my confidence took such a beating working there it took me a while to find something else. After I left the company I got my revenge, though. I turned that bullying boss into a character in the next novel, and I made a point of killing him off. It was most cathartic.

 Judy: What made you decide to become a writer?

Sara: I didn’t so much decide, it was decided for me. I was writing stories from being quite young – pretty much from the time I learned how to write, and it was the only thing, from childhood, that I was any good at. I was hopeless at sports, I struggled with maths, but writing stories – that I seemed to be able to do, with ease. I was ten years old when I decided that the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a published novelist. To me it seemed like destiny, rather than a conscious choice. It took me thirty years to achieve it, mind.

Judy: Do you have any writing advice for aspiring authors?

As per the above, don’t give up. The path to success is paved with a hell of a lot of rejections. And keep on writing. No one is born a best-selling novelist. Like any craft, the only way to get better at writing is to keep on doing it.

I would also add to this, don’t be in a hurry to give up the day job if you want to be able to afford to eat. Contrary to popular myth, most writers are not raking in the money, and quite a lot of us find it necessary to work around the day job if we want to be able to pay the mortgage.

sara-113-Web (2)Find Sara and her other books on Amazon (US) and UK. Find her website at and her blog at



New Release Mondays: A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

DarkandStormyMurder2Author Name: Julia Buckley

Book Title: A Dark and Stormy Murder

Book Genre: Cozy-Gothic Mystery

Release Date: July 5, 2016

SynopsisLena London’s literary dreams are coming true—as long as she can avoid any real-life villains…
Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous Victorian home in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.
Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them both out of the story for good…

Excerpt: I was immersed in The Lost Child, one of my favorite Camilla Graham novels, when an unlikely phone call changed my life.

In my quiet living room, things were placid: I sat on my couch in blue jeans, a sweatshirt and fuzzy socks, cuddling my sleeping cat, Lestrade, whose large body practically warmed my entire right side. In the book, things were tense: it was dusk, and the Eiffel Tower gleamed gold in the background. The young Englishwoman, Phillippa Earl, waited for the Frenchman, Henri, to get any information he might have about her lost charge, Colin, a sensitive nine-year-old who had somehow been taken from underneath Phillippa’s watchful and loving gaze. She feared for the boy’s life, and the handsome Henri had told her, in a stolen conversation in the street, that he had more information for her. Now she waited beneath the tower in the chill of a Paris spring, hoping against hope that little Colin, whom she loved more than his own parents did, would be returned to her. Lingering beneath her fear was a strange attraction to the mysterious Henri, the man who had murmured in her ear and briefly held her hand, hinting that all would be well . . .

The phone rang, and I jumped. Lestrade jumped, too, but then settled against my leg, glaring briefly at me before descending back into his luxurious slumber. His fluffy white belly was too great a temptation, and I ruffled it with my hand while I clicked on my phone. Lestrade opened one eye, not sure whether to purr or swat my hand—both had been responses in the past, depending on his mood. His face, a pleasing mixture of gray, white and buff, grew curious as I started speaking.


“Lena. It’s Allison.”

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked, still sort of looking at my book.

“You’re reading. I can tell. Your voice is all soft and cobwebby. Take your nose out of the novel—this is important! I’m making your dreams come true!”

Julia with her dog, Simon.

Julia with her dog, Simon.

About the author: Julia Buckley is a Chicago mystery writer. She has taught high school English and journalism for 28 years, and she is an avid reader and amateur artist. She lives in the suburbs with her husband, two sons and a huge menagerie of animals. Find her at







My Publishing Journey: Getting Advance Reviews

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One of the most difficult things for an author to do is ask another author to read the ARC of their latest release. (ARC Stands for Advanced Reading Copy, a PDF that is as yet unedited  by the publisher’s assigned editor, and has yet to go through the final proofreading stage).

The reason it’s so difficult is that you’re asking authors who you admire and respect, and you’re saying, “Please read my book and like it…and if you like it, will you write something that says you do.”

Difficult as it is, readers do look for these back of the book blurbs, and they do read the reviews posted on Amazon and other booksellers. So, as authors, we take a deep breath and ask. Not every ask results in a yes (if someone is on deadline, they aren’t going to have time to put everything else aside for your book), but the hope is you’ll have at least three yeses.

I am so very fortunate to have five incredibly talented authors who not only said yes, they also loved Skeletons in the Attic. I’ve included abbreviated versions of their “blurbs” here, along with their headshot, brief bio and links to their author pages (because if you haven’t already, you’ll want to read their books, you really will).

Jeff Buick

Jeff Buick

“A memorable and powerful character that lingers long after the final page.”—Jeff Buick, author of Bloodline

Jeff is one busy guy. Writing his nineteenth book. Delivering keynote speeches, attending charitable fundraisers, traveling, researching – and learning. Still, despite all the incredible things happening in his life, writing remains the one foundation that anchors everything.


Ellen Byron

“A beautifully crafted page-turner…”—Ellen Byron, author of Plantation Shudders

Ellen’s debut novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, has been nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. The second book in the series, Body on the Bayou, launches September 13th. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots.

Annette Dashofy and Kensi

Annette Dashofy and Kensi

“A thought-provoking, haunting tale of decades-old deception.”—Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series

USA Today best-selling author Annette Dashofy’s  Zoe Chambers mystery series includes Circle of Influence (finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014), Lost Legacy, and Bridges Burned, which was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel of 2015. The fourth in the series, With A Vengeance is now available.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson

“A delight…grabs the reader from the get-go and, as the plot twists and twists again…”—Catriona McPherson, author of The Child Garden

Past President of Sisters in Crime International, Catriona McPherson was born in Edinburgh and lived there, in Ayrshire, in Dumfriesshire and in Galloway before moving to California in 2010. Known for her incredible sense of humor and genuine kindness, Catriona’s latest book, The Child Garden, has been nominated for a Macavity Award.

Diane Vallere

Diane Vallere

“A complex plot, an extremely likeable protagonist, and a bombshell ending you never saw coming.” —Diane Vallere, bestselling author

After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. She writes the Madison Night, Costume Shop, Material Witness and Style & Error Mysteries.  Diane is the vice president/president elect of Sisters in Crime.

Should you want to read these reviews in their entirety, you can find them here.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC is now available for pre-order on Amazon at the special introductory price of .99US. (regular price will be $4.99).