Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cockeyed Pessimist: "Who's afraid of"

Publisher Martin Shepard weighs in on the hot Amazon debate, in his latest editorial on his blog "The Cockeyed Pessimist"

My Photo"On May 24, The New York Times ran a page one story “As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish.”  In their alarmist zeal reporters David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy conjure the dreadful threat that Amazon has inflicted upon the “literary world,” causing a kerfuffle of rage and fear as exemplified by a dispute between the electronic superstore and one of the most robust publishers in the Western World. Their first paragraph states “Amazon’s power over the publishing and bookselling industries is unrivaled in the modern era. Now it has started wielding its might in a more brazen way than ever before.” Their second paragraph states that “The literary community is fearful and outraged—and practically begging for government intervention.” They then cite three publishers, none of which I would consider great examples of the “literary” community—or even the larger community of book publishers to prove their thesis.

As far as this literary publisher is concerned this article is poppycock..."

Read the full editorial here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


When asked the difference between sales and marketing, I usually say that sales are something you do face to face, like the Fuller Brush man showing up at a person’s door and showing his wares.  Or a stock broker passing along a tip, leading to a million dollar investment. No matter the scale, the exchange is intimate and personal.  Marketing is what you do when the number of people you need to reach is too large to afford a one-on-one engagement.  So you have to call upon intermediaries to convey your selling story, and many times, complete the sale.  Though not always.  Often, the sale occurs at another place and time. So how do you know if your efforts through intermediaries are actually responsible for the ultimate sale?  Short answer to a big question:  You don’t.

In theory, then, the more you can have your marketing resemble the intimacy, and presumably the effectiveness, of a one-on-one sale, the better.  Right?  Not necessarily.

If that were true, we wouldn’t have advertising and publicity, all marketing would be delivered through what we call “direct”, such as direct mail and infomercials. But it turns out that most people don’t actually like to be sold directly.  They’d rather come to their buying decisions without the pressure and confrontation inherent in a direct sales pitch, and by extension, a direct marketing appeal.  They don’t call it junk mail for nothing.

So what we’re stuck with, if we want to sell a product or service, is to find a mixture of direct selling and indirect marketing (also known as branding) that exploits the advantages of both in a balanced and mutually reinforcing way. 

This is why the advent of digital communications has the world of sales and marketing in a tizzy. For the first time in history, it’s possible to combine the transactional power of direct sales/marketing with the indirect benefits of agreeable engagement (in other words branding) in a single medium.    

Meet Amazon. They sell everything these days, but they got their start selling books, and now they’re really, really good at it. 

Whether or not physical book stores will ever disappear (I don’t think they will, but that’s another essay) or Amazon perpetuates its hegemony, digital marketing is where the action is.  So, while authors may decry the fact that promoting their books now largely falls on their shoulders (even major best sellers – ask them how many miles they log a year and how many talks they give), we’ve never had more ways to manage the task, giving us at least a fighting chance when competing with the rich, powerful and established. 

You can find lots of advice on how to do this online and in physical books, but let me offer here a broader perspective.  When one of our own, William Gibson, popularized the term “cyberspace” in the 1980s, I wonder if he knew how accurately he was predicting the future.  When you go online, whether it’s on a desktop or laptop computer, or mobile device, you are entering a world that is different from the one we live in offline in one crucial way.  Everything in cyberspace is connected.  Intimately, immediately, accessibly and permanently.

So when authors ask me if it’s worth writing a blog I say, Yes.  Send out emails?  Yes.  Start an online newsletter?  Yes.  Get on review sites?  Yes.  Reviewer blogs?  Yes.  Launch a website, get on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, join online discussion groups, get reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Library Thing, the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Is it possible to do all these things, well, and write books and hold down your day job?  No.  Nonetheless, the more online things you can do the better, because of another concept in our business known as “integrated marketing”.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, but the idea is that a message is amplified considerably by appearing in different media channels.  So, if people see the Geico gecko on a billboard, on TV, in a print ad or a rich media banner ad, the ultimate impact is greater than the sum of the individual messages.  Likewise, if you’re in a blog, write a blog, get reviewed by your local paper, score a reading at a regional writers conference (that puts out an online newsletter), rack up reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, optimize your website with keywords connected to your book’s theme, etc., the sum total is greater than appearing in any individual outlet could possibly achieve.

Because in cyberspace, everything is connected.  And the connectors are these clever little things that roam the Internet like voracious bacterium called Google Bots.  They feed on semantic relationships and your job is to make a feast out of you as a writer and the books you write.   

More to come.  


P.S. For the latest Permanent Press updates check out our
May 2014 Newsletter

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Two Finalists in the "Best First Novel" category for the 2014 International Thriller Writer Awards!

Fabulous news! Gwen Florio’s MONTANA and JJ Hensley’s RESOLVE have each been shortlisted for 2014 ITW Thriller Award for Best 1st Novel. Continues the Permanent Press mystery/thriller award-winning streak following Howard Owen’s Hammett, Jared Terrell’s Shamus shortlisting, last year’s Len Rosen Edgar and McCavity and Chris Knopf's Nero. 


Congratulations Gwen and J.J.!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Hello Permament Press friends, we're nearly a third of the way through 2014 and we couldn't be happier with our latest lineup of exciting thrillers, perplexing mysteries, hilarious comedies, and thought-provoking literary gems.

Take a look at our current roster, see what reviewers are saying, and enjoy a quick look at what's to come over the next few months!

The Wood of Suicides THE WOOD OF SUICIDES - Laura Elizabeth Woollett
Laurel Marks is a stunning, repressed seventeen-year-old schoolgirl. She also has a weakness for older men—most of all her father, whom she'll do anything to impress. After his sudden death, Laurel is sent off to a boarding school where she shortly latches onto a new love-object: her English teacher, Mr. Hugh Steadman.

“Woollett impressively captures the excruciating joy and pain of young love, its nymph-like virtue but also sensual power, as body and soul move on their fateful journey from innocence to experience” Dan's Papers

The Culling THE CULLING - Robert Johnson
When Dr. Carl Sims, a young and otherwise altruistic virologist, discovers a plot hatched by a group of international scientists to cull, in a matter of weeks, two-thirds of the world’s population—some 4.5 billion random, innocent people, by releasing a deadly virus that kills two thirds of those it infects, in order to reduce Earth’s population from an unsustainable seven billion to two billion, what is he to do? Try to stop the conspiracy or join it?
"Robert Johnson's first novel tackles an issue that most in the media, the arts, and entertainment industry—even the environmental community—are afraid to discuss directly: overpopulation. The gravity of the issues is woven into the story with plenty of colorful characters, gallows humor and a suspenseful plot that unravels across continents, making for an entertaining and thought-provoking debut." New York Journal of Books

Gulf Boulevard GULF BOULEVARD - Dennis Hart
When a long-odds occurrence compels Jason Najarian to buy a lottery ticket, the resultant $63 million jackpot sets in motion a series of events that allows him to depart snowy Boston forever and begin living out his dream in comfort and style. But as Jason soon discovers, not even financial security can rid a man of life’s little annoyances, like nosy neighbors, and hitmen.

“Dave Barry fans will welcome Hart’s debut and series opener, a comic thriller complete with a beachfront Florida locale, everyman hero, Mafia thugs, colorful characters, and ubiquitous fart jokes. It’s a lot of fun.”  —Publishers Weekly

Death in Venice, CaliforniaDEATH IN VENICE, CALIFORNIA - Vinton Rafe McCabe
Jameson Frame, an educated, even revered, middle-aged man of letters, flees the cold canyons of Manhattan for Venice, California, where he is soon surrounded by all that this Bedouin village has to offer: wiccans, vegans, transients, artists, drummers, muscle men, skateboarders, plastic surgeons, pornographers, tarot card readers and ghouls. And an arrestingly beautiful young man named Chase, the subject and object of his yearning.
"An engaging allegorical pursuit of the mirage that is beauty’s transcendence." Kirkus

Dakota DAKOTA - Gwen Florio (The sequel to last year's highly successful MONTANA)
Former foreign correspondent Lola Wicks is getting a little bored in Magpie, Montana, where she landed at a small local newspaper after being downsized from her job in Kabul. Then Judith Calf Looking, a local Blackfeet girl missing for several months, turns up dead in a snowbank with a mysterious brand on her forearm.

"Once again, Florio chooses interesting settings for her action and infuses her story with plenty of atmosphere and character. The writing is top-notch, and the action builds at just the right pace. In Florio's capable hands, Lola Wicks is going to be around for a long, long time." Kirkus

Saving the Hooker SAVING THE HOOKER - Michael Adelberg
Matthew Hristahalois is a not-so-scholarly scholar. He's obsessed with the "Hooker with a Heart of Gold" character that keeps turning up in movies like Pretty Woman and The Hangover - the beautiful and kind fallen woman who can only be saved by Prince Charming. Matthew wins a post-doc to see if real fallen women can be saved by a good man.
"A mostly funny first-person tale of a lazy and unprincipled postdoc whose brain resides firmly in his crotch. Most novels give the reader a protagonist to like and root for; this isn't one of those. But there is plenty to like in Adelberg's comic romp, which also has a serious undercurrent: Who says a hooker needs saving, anyway? And what business is it of a man? This one’s well-crafted and enjoyable if you’re up for a rather raunchy read." Kirkus


My Lady of the Bog MY LADY OF THE BOG - Peter Hayes (April)
My Lady of the Bog follows the American anthropologist, Xander Donne, as he seeks to unravel the ultimate "cold case": that of a beautiful young woman found in an English bog, her nude body pinned down with stakes. Though she's thought at first to be a recent murder victim, Donne identifies her as an ancient sacrifice, wondrously preserved by the bog's airless waters, and dead for 700 years!

The Anarchist THE ANARCHIST - Joanna Higgins (April)
The Anarchist, a historical novel, dramatizes the interplay of forces leading to the assassination of an American president at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Through linking first-person narratives, the novel explores the interrelated lives of fictional as well as historical figures, mainly Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, William McKinley and McKinley's assassin Leon Czolgosz, at a turbulent time in American history, a time of protests, hangings, hunger riots, strikes, bombings and massacres.

Voodoo Ridge VOODOO RIDGE - David Freed (The third Cordell Logan Mystery) (May)
It's 1956. A plane bearing a mysterious cargo takes off from a small airport outside Los Angeles and disappears into a raging storm. Nearly 60 years later, while flying over California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, retired military assassin-turned-civilian flight instructor and would-be Buddhist Cordell Logan catches a glint of sunlight on metal and spots what appears to be an aircraft wreckage. His life will never be the same.

All of our novels are available in hardcover and ebook format, and can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, or directly from us at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Interview with RAIN DOGS author Baron R. Birtcher

Claymore award finalist Baron Birtcher has been interviewed by Clay Stafford, founder of the Killer Nashville mystery conference.

Baron R. Birtcher  "Rain Dogs" by Baron R. Birtcher

The full interview can be found on our Author Interviews page, and on the Killer Nashville Blog!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 List-Toppers!

2013 has been a great year for us at The Permanent Press, with many of our titles landing spots on several different "best of" lists!

MontanaCries of the Lost

Chris Knopf's CRIES OF THE LOST (sequel to the Nero Award winning DEAD ANYWAY) was named one of the Top 5 Mysteries of 2013 by Library Journal.

Gwen Florio's MONTANA was called one of the  Best Montana books of 2013 by The Great Falls Tribune!

Nothing SeriousThe Inbetween People

MONTANA also made Entertainment Realm's Top 20 Books of 2013 along with THE INBETWEEN PEOPLE by Emma McEvoy and NOTHING SERIOUS by Daniel Klein.

Leonard Rosen's THE TENTH WITNESS (the highly anticipated prequel to the Edgar Award finalist ALL CRY CHAOS) made 
The Tenth Witness

And our 2011 title THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALFRED BUBER by David Schmahmann was named the winner of the Dactyl Foundation 2013 Literary Fiction Award! 

Free .pdf copies of ALFRED BUBER available now for a limited time. See Marty's blog for more details.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Praise for The Tenth Witness in Kirkus Reviews magazine!

"Years before the events of Henri Poincaré’s striking debut (All Cry Chaos, 2011), the future Interpol agent, now a consulting engineer, gets dragged into an equally grueling case when his treasure hunt turns into a Nazi hunt.

Lloyds of London, which was the insurer for the HMS Lutine when it sank off the Dutch coast in 1799, think it’s high time they recovered their settlement by plundering the boat, which is legally theirs, for its cargo of gold. Poincaré and his partner, Alec Chin, have successfully bid to construct a diving platform to be used in the operation. But Poincaré gets seriously redirected when he meets Liesel Kraus, a guide who pulls him out of the coastal mud flats and insists that he escort her to her brother Anselm’s birthday party to fend off the Bayer heir Anselm’s fixed her up with. Romance blossoms between Liesel and Poincaré, along with dark suspicions about the Kraus family’s steel empire, when Anselm, intent on jumping into the infant market for personal computers by recycling the precious metals used in their manufacture, engages Poincaré to develop a chemical process for isolating those metals. If Anselm and Liesel’s father, Otto, was really a Schindler-style hero during the war, as an affidavit signed by 10 concentration-camp survivors attests, then why are the signatories suddenly dying of heart attacks? And why is Liesel’s godfather, Viktor Schmidt, so eager to shut down Poincaré’s investigation into this case that isn’t even a case? Torn between his love for Liesel and his need to learn the truth about her family, Poincaré makes a series of discoveries that won’t surprise genre fans or anyone who stayed awake during history class.

If it’s hard to wring new headlines from Nazi industrialists, Rosen uses this familiar background to tell a story as heartfelt as it is ambitious."