Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Lauren Carr

To authors, it can be an uncertain world out there. If you've written and published a book (whether it's your first or twenty-first), you want nothing more than for the whole world to fall in love with it. 

At the same time, you wish you could clutch it to your chest and refuse to let it go because, let's be honest,  there's always that fear that someone, somewhere, won't like it. And they might just try to tell the whole world about it!

Lauren Carr, author of the Mac Faraday Murder series, is not one to hide her books from the public. In fact, once she got over her first bad review, she's come to appreciate them for what they are... and wants to help other traditional and self-published authors come to the same realization. 

Fear not the reviewer. Set your novels free... Check out Lauren's take on authoring up and getting your books out there:


Writers! It’s Time to Author-Up and Get Your Books Out There

The number one fear of any author is—Reviewers.

It’s bad enough if a reader doesn’t like your book. Most readers, if they don’t like your book, will keep it to themselves. Or, at the worst, they will keep it within their immediate circle of friends. Or, if they have a big mouth, they’ll keep it within their book club or community.

Since it’s their job, reviewers will broadcast their dislike of your book to the whole world! Their distaste used to be confined to the subscribers of whatever publication they were writing for. But now, with the Internet, a reviewer’s hatred for a particular book is broadcasted throughout cyberspace for everyone in the universe to see exactly how bad your book is.

That’s enough to scare any writer into wanting to lock their baby up behind closed doors and never let anyone read it.

Yes, you can do that.

But, like a parent protecting her child from the outside world by locking him up in his bedroom and never letting him step outside, it’s not a realistic option. Children who are over-protected don’t develop a tough enough skin to deal with all that life has to throw at them. As scary as it is, sending them out there where they can fall down and skin their knees is a good thing.

Likewise, any writer wanting her book and career to be all it can be, needs to “author-up” and get her book out there into the hands of reviewers…who may or may not like it.

Yes, some reviewers may not like your book.

I was surprised to learn not too long ago that many authors don’t send their books out to reviewers for precisely that reason. One author shocked me with the announcement, “I don’t let strangers review my books.” I was still wrapping my head around that statement when he went on to say that he knew several authors who don’t solicit book reviews. Those who did would stipulate to the reviewer, “If you can’t give me 5-stars, then don’t bother posting any review at all.”

Yet, these same authors scratch their heads and wonder why they have failed to find their audience and can’t break through to have good book sales.

Book reviews are FREE advertising. With every review site that your book is featured, more and more people are learning about it. I have had reviewers contact me asking for copies of my book as a result of reading about it on other book review sites. I send them the books, they read it, and then yet another review is posted for even more readers to learn about my books.

All it costs me is the cost of the book and postage, unless it’s an e-book, in which case, it costs me NOTHING! Beat that price for advertising!

Based on successful reviews for my previous books, I have over fifty reviewers WAITING for the advanced review copy of Shades of Murder, which will be out in a couple of weeks. That’s over fifty websites that will publicize my new book as soon as it is released. Many of these reviewers will read the e-book version, which means it will cost me nothing.

Do I have a guarantee that all of these reviewers will love Shades of Murder as much as they loved the other books in the series? No. Most likely they will since they loved my previous books, but there’s no guarantee. I consider it the chance I have to take to be a professional author. It’s worth the risk to get the word out there about my books.

Here’s the way I see it. I publish my books because, in my heart, I know I’m a great writer. If I didn’t think I was good, I wouldn’t be investing my time and effort into writing and publishing my books. To me, authors who clutch their books to their breasts and refuse to show them to reviewers have a lack of confidence in their own writing.

Breaking through to the big time is not going to happen if you keep your book a secret from reviewers.
What if the reviewer doesn’t like your book?

That is one thing that I can guarantee. Not everyone is going to love your book.

Being a Mom, that’s something that I can understand and deal with.

The other night I prepared Tuscan Ribeye for dinner. I marinated the steaks for four hours before putting them on the grill. They came out juicy and melt in your mouth delicious. I also put equal amount of love into preparing garlic mashed potatoes with fresh garlic and butter drizzled in it. I topped off the mashed potatoes with fresh chives. They were so beautiful I didn’t want to eat them!

Then, for the vegetable, I broiled parmesan tomatoes. The parmesan and tomato were the perfect accompaniment to this a meal that had my husband rubbing his tummy saying, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.”

My son shrugged his shoulders and said, “Eh!”

Lesson: You can’t please everyone.

I put my heart and soul into that dinner. It was with pride that I presented it to the world (okay, the dining room) and only pleased half of my audience. My son would have been happier with a cheese dog and fast food fries.

Likewise, you can spend months slaving over a storyline, invest money in an editor, and hand picking a cover, and have a reviewer say “Eh!” She would have preferred it if your deep thinking, spunky protagonist that saved the world was a vampire with big boobs.

All right, so you’re thinking, “Yeah, Lauren, you don’t have to tell us that not everyone will love our books. We know that. That’s why we’re keeping them locked up in the trunk of our cars and not telling anyone about them. If a reviewer doesn’t like them, THEY’LL TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THEM.”

Here’s a news flash for you: As long as your book is for sale to the public, bad reviews can still happen—even if you aren’t soliciting them to reviewers.

My first book, A Small Case of Murder, has a couple of really horrible reviews posted on Amazon. The first one appeared over a year after its release. I was depressed for a week before my husband suggested I look up the other reviews this reviewer had posted on Amazon. I found that she had posted one. It was a five-star review for a rap CD entitled something along the line of “Kill All the People”. Of course, someone like that would not like a book about a functional family with a Christian protagonist.

Every bad, spiteful review I have received, I did not solicit. They were posted by readers who had come upon the book themselves and felt compelled to vent about their hatred for it.

As I have learned from readers and reviewers, hateful and spiteful reviews are not taken seriously by readers. The best way to combat them is, when you find such a review, to click on the button below the review saying that it was not helpful, and have your friends and family do the same.

The second line of defense against unsolicited bad reviews is to solicit reviews that will be positive from professional reviewers.

Generally, professional reviewers do not post hateful criticism. They will find something good to say, or say nothing at all. Yes, they will be honest, but they won’t be hurtful and you may find the criticism helpful.
I have had a couple of reviewers comment, nicely, that they would like to have a cast of characters listed in the front of the book. So, in Shades of Murder, I have listed a cast of characters, and will do so with future books.

Here’s another surprising note about criticism, it gives your book creditability in the eyes of some readers. Believe it or not, I was dancing around the house a few weeks ago when I received my first two-star review for It’s Murder, My Son, which was released over two years ago.

Have I lost my mind? I was dancing about a two-star? Yep.

Here’s why? Many readers view books with only positive reviews with suspicion. Maybe it’s the society we now live in. A while back I had read a thread in a book forum in which a lot of writers and readers commented that when they come upon a book on Amazon with forty or fifty 5-star reviews touting the book as the best thing since Gone With the Wind, they regard the reviews with suspicion, especially if there are no four, three, or two or one-star reviews. The suspicion grows deeper if the book and author are unknown. How do you get so many highly positive reviews without anyone knowing about you or your book? There are many readers who will assume all of the reviews were by family and friends of the author. When I brought up the matter in my book writing class, I was surprised to find that many of my students feel the same way.

I read not too long ago about an author who went into Amazon, using various different accounts, and posted dozens of five-star reviews for his own book. Then, he bragged about it on a blog. Amazon found out about it and pulled all of the reviews.

Reviews that state some form of objective criticism for a book gives it credibility. Readers take that book and the reviews listed for it more seriously. Thus, when I got my first two-star review for It’s Murder, My Son, I proceeded to dance around the house. After two years, It’s Murder, My Son has credibility!
Lesson to be learned: Even a critical review can be good for your career.

What are you waiting for? You have a book that you’ve labored over and now it’s ready to push that baby out of the nest and send it out into the world to the applause and acclaim of reviewers—who will pass on the word to your audience—which will open the doors to the authorship that your books and you deserve.

Go get ‘em, Tiger!

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@comcast.net, Website: http://acornbookservices.com/ ;                  http://mysterylady.net/

The Giveaway

Where are all the murder mystery fans at?!!

TNBBC is happy to offer a set of all three Lauren Carr "Mac Faraday" novels 
to one lucky US resident!

This giveaway will end on May 28th.
Winner will be announced here and via email on May 29th.

Here's how to enter:

 1 - Leave a comment stating why you believe the Mac Faraday series should go to you.

 2 - You must leave me a way to contact you (email is preferred). AND you must be a resident of the US!!!!

Good luck!


  1. Great interview. Funny about that Amazon thing....I wonder the same thing when I see a book that only has 4 and 5 star reviews. Much of the time, I tend to skip out on them.

    I'd love to win this series. I've heard of Carr through a few book reviewing blogs, but haven't had the chance to read her yet.

    Thanks for holding this giveaway!

  2. BIG Lauren Carr fan! Love her blogs! Would love to win the series but somehow I doubt that I will be giving it only 2 stars.

  3. Thank you both so much for entering! Yeah, I have enough credibility now. So don't feel obligated to give me 2-stars!

  4. My daughter and I both love Lauren's books. we also relate to the books because we live in the area they were written about. I can picture the scenes in my head as I'm reading.

    1. Thanks, Alores! I hope you win. Actually, I wish everyone could win!

  5. Hey! Lucky Dog, a Mac Faraday Short Story available in e-book, is now available for free on Amazon. You can have the whole Deep Creek Lake series. Stop by Amazon to download Lucky Dog for free, and then enter the giveaway here for a chance to win! Here's the link to Lucky Dog on Amazon.


  6. Only a few comments means more of a chance for me to win! -giggles- I need some new books. I've read all the Janet Evanovich and Jeffrey Deaver that I've got, so it's time to find a new mystery writer to fall head over heels with.


  7. Congrats to Jamie - she has won the Mac Farady series!

    (the choice was easy, she was the only one who followed the contest rules and left a way to contact her in her comment)

    Thanks to everyone who entered! Keep your eyes out, we'll have something new to giveaway in a few days!

  8. Thanks so much for the giveaway; so excited to receive my new books.