Category Archives: new release

Writing a Prequel, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

It wouldn't be long now...

 

So A Killing Truth is out (yay!) and early feedback is encouraging, which is a huge relief. Why, you ask? Because the book is a prequel and had two enormous tasks:

1: it had to hew closely to everything I’d written about Leine’s early life in the other books (my thoughts of which tended to be along the lines of Oh, holy crap, what was I thinking???), and

2: it had to strike the right tone and not be just a rehash so that readers of the series would still be intrigued enough to read it. Aka: Reader Expectation.

Okay, so let me dig a little deeper into the first, seemingly insurmountable task. As many of you know, my writing process is a hybrid of sketching out a rough outline combined with a seat-of-your-pants, cross your fingers and hope for the best, kind of style.

But I wasn’t always that organized 🙂

For example, when I wrote Serial Date, most of that novel came out in a torrent of mad writing sessions with a freaky dream as the catalyst. It’s filled with all sorts of, “Hey! Let’s make Leine loath tattoos. Why? Hell, I don’t know, maybe something happened in her past.” Followed by, “Well, what happened? I know! It should have something to do with an old target named The Frenchman, who of course almost killed her.”

And do you think I left it at that? Nope. Then I had to think of a reason that Leine and her old boss were no longer on speaking terms-the reason she left the Agency and ended her career as an assassin. What could Eric (her boss) have done that was so heinous that she should have killed him off? And why didn’t she? So I created what I thought would be a good explanation and left it at that. But I hadn’t thought through the logistics because I didn’t have to.

You know, because the book was going to be a standalone.

Bonus writing tip: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series, even when it’s not. Because dollars to donuts, if you don’t, it will become one, guaranteed.

Female showing on map vintage photo

Must. Plan. Next. Time.

 

Okay, so readers wanted more Leine and I was happy to oblige, but I wanted to tackle current issues. Although the subject of Serial Date is reality shows, which is a current phenomenon in our culture, the book has an irreverent, satirical tone and I couldn’t figure out a way to satirize human trafficking without coming off as an asshole.

You see my dilemma.

So, I changed the tone of the second book (Bad Traffick) to hard-hitting, traditional-ish thriller and we were off! (Bonus writing tip #2: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series. This includes consistency in tone.) I added a few more details to Leine’s backstory throughout the next three books, this time with the idea that I would someday write a prequel.

And here’s where it gets gnarly. The horrible transgression Eric committed was having Leine do something she would never, ever do if she knew all the details.

Leine’s a smart woman. In A Killing Truth, she’s at the top of her game as an assassin and takes pride in eliminating the worst of the worst. Eric had to make sure she was off-balance and would more likely make a mistake, or at least not be aware of his duplicity, which could royally mess with his plans.

Luckily, after much tooth-gnashing and pulling of hair, I was able to craft a realistic scenario that would incorporate all the little clues my subconscious had deposited throughout the series. I even had a couple of aha! moments that I surely didn’t see coming. Which brings me to Task #2.

Reader Expectation.

The only way I knew to be sure the story matched or exceeded reader expectation was to write a fast-paced, explosive plot, with Leine as the central character. Yes, she’s younger and a bit less damaged (until the end), but the narrative tone is still vintage Leine, ensuring that longtime readers of the series won’t be disappointed.

I refuse to post spoilers here but if you’ve read Serial Date, you’ll have an idea of the heinous thing Eric has Leine do in A Killing Truth. And since I’m not a fan of back story in my novels you’ll also learn a whole lot more about her early life. And, as promised, I reveal why the hell Leine hates tattoos.

Go ahead and read A Killing Truth and tell me what you think. It’s on sale everywhere for the super-special launch price of $0.99. (see links above, on the right).

Do you enjoy reading prequels? If so, which ones really nailed it in terms of story and tone? If not, why not? Inquiring minds want to know.

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A Killing Truth

FINALLY. A Killing Truth, the Leine Basso thriller prequel I’ve been working on, is DONE FINISHED, edited, and has a nifty new cover! 

cover for A Killing Truth

I especially like that the designer used an image of Amsterdam for the background, but also that he nailed the characters: Leine (before she was Leine Basso) is in her mid-twenties and working as an assassin for the Agency. The model is definitely younger than the one used in the other four covers, and I think does a good job of representing her at that age. The guy on the cover is The Frenchman, a ruthless arms dealer mentioned in Serial Date and The Body Market, and the reason she now hates tattoos. And yes, I explain why in the book 🙂

Another character who makes an appearance is her lover and fellow assassin, Carlos. If you read Serial Date, you know what happened to that relationship, but I go into quite a bit more detail in A Killing Truth. Her daughter, April, makes an appearance, as does Leine’s scumbag of a boss, Eric. There are a couple of revelations that I didn’t mention in the other books, which explains their long-running animosity toward each other.

You’ll just have to read it to find out 😀

If you’re new to the series, A Killing Truth is a great place to start, and if you’ve already been introduced to the characters I mention above, then you’re in for a helluva ride. Even if you think you know what’s going to happen…

A Killing Truth is available for preorder for $0.99* on Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available everywhere on March 24. I’m also going to be running a GoodReads giveaway for signed print copies soon, and will post here as soon as that happens.

If you’d like to be the first to find out about new books and special offers, why not hop over and join my Readers’ List? The response to my last newsletter broke my email yesterday 😛 , but I believe it’s all cleared up now, LOL.

Here’s the description:

A deadly assassin. A perpetual target. A double-cross she never saw coming…

They say the truth will set you free, but what if it kills you first?

Before serial killers and drug cartels, Leine faced the ultimate betrayal…

Leine eliminates terrorists for a living. After a routine assassination almost gets her killed, she chalks it up to a fluke. Her lover and fellow assassin, Carlos, has another idea altogether. He thinks their boss is setting them up for a fall.

When Carlos goes missing and a bombing thwarts another mission, Leine suspects the stakes are far higher than she could ever imagine, and wonders if the man in charge might have it in for her after all.

A Killing Truth is the prequel to the award-winning Leine Basso thriller series of crime novels. If you like no-nonsense heroines, page-turning plots, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love D.V. Berkom’s tension-filled series

 

*Price good through Sunday, April 3, when it will increase to $3.99.

 


All The News That’s Fit to Print

Cover for CargoWell, it’s official– CARGO, Leine Basso #4, is available for pre-order! (link is to Amazon–other retailers coming soon.) Here’s the description:

Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.

Anyone.

Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner on board a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.

For a price.

As her involvement intensifies, Leine delves deeper into a disturbing and treacherous criminal underworld where everything has a price.

Click here for an excerpt.

CARGO was pretty far outside my comfort zone (so what’s new, right?), but the perfect contact/information appeared each time I needed it–so often, in fact, that it became downright spooky. The book contains a scene that was one of the hardest I’ve ever written and deals with an issue I feel strongly about. I’ll do a post on that (and other interesting factoids I discovered) in the near future.

I’ve also been working with a designer over at Demented Doctor Design (fitting name, right?) to re-brand the Leine Basso series. Here are the new covers:

Serial Date eBook Cover1563x25001563x2500 eBook Cover Bad TraffickeBook Cover 1563x2500 The Body Market Cover for Cargo

 

 

 

 

I wanted a more cohesive feel as well as something instantly recognizable, and I think they nailed it. I absolutely love the model–she reminds me of Leine: cool and classy, and sexy in a slightly intimidating way… 🙂

Only thing, though. You know when you paint a room a different color and all of a sudden the furniture looks out of place? Yeah. When I embarked on changing the covers, I realized my website was looking a little tired and I did a complete overhaul. You can check it out here. It’s a work in progress, but you’ll get the idea. It is now mobile-friendly and I think easier to navigate. Using WordPress.org was a steep learning curve for me since I’d created the old site with Dreamweaver, but I’ve been able to figure out what I needed to, in no small part to the awesome tutorials at StudioPress.

audio book -the body marketSome GREAT news for all you diehard audiobook fans–the fabulous Kristi Alsip has agreed to continue on as the voice of Leine Basso, and will narrate both The Body Market and Cargo. Look for the new titles on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in the near future.

One last thing. While completing the final edits for CARGO, I got the exciting news that THE BODY MARKET was chosen as a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Whee! The medallion is a much-coveted indie award given out by a groupBRAG Medallion of international readers, and I’m pretty stoked. I’ll be doing an interview with one of their affiliates in August and I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, that’s it for now. In the coming weeks I’ll (hopefully) be back to posting more often. I hope y’all stay tuned! Happy summer 😀


Update on The Body Market: Post-Launch

I thought since I hadn’t posted in a while (I’ve been concentrating on researching and writing the next Leine Basso book) I’d give an update on how things are going after the launch of The Body Market. The book’s been selling well and a couple of authors have contacted me privately to ask what I did differently, and whether I think those strategies worked. Since I love to analyze (not in any real scientific way, mind you) I sorted through all the things I did differently and those I didn’t and came to the same conclusion:

I have no effing idea which strategy worked the best.

Now, before you give me a ration of crap in the comments, let me clarify: if someone tells you that yes, this one thing they did caused Amazon’s bots to get behind their book, I’d have to call bullshit. Only Amazon knows how their site works, no matter what someone says. We can all try to guess what works until the moon explodes, but NO ONE REALLY KNOWS (and if anyone reading this does, in fact, know please leave a comment 🙂 )

Personally, I think it boils down to a combination of things: pre-launch hype, backlist, cover, genre, description (including using SEO keywords, and tags.), early reviews, press releases, advertising, social media posts, et al. You’ll notice I didn’t list pre-order, per se. That’s because while I expected Amazon’s pre-order option to work similarly to traditional pre-orders, e.g., all pre-order purchases rank on release day and give the book a bump of some kind hopefully onto a list or two, this did not happen with The Body Market. In fact, after all the work I did pushing pre-orders, the day after launch book sales on the ‘Zon dropped 70%.

gif of plane crashing

Blech. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I’d never had that happen on a launch before and I was pissed.

GollemAnd I didn’t know who or what to be pissed at, except myself. Somehow, somewhere, I’d messed up, but I didn’t have a clue what I’d done wrong. I dropped the price of Serial Date, the first book in the series, to 99 cents and advertised the hell out of it the week of the launch (AwesomeGang, EreaderNewsToday, FB, etc.). The Body Market’s pre-order price was 99 cents, which I also advertised with both free and paid options, although not too expensively (in other words, no BookBub ads).

cat on slide

Trying to get traction…

There was one bright, shiny moment on launch day: when a handful of advance readers who had agreed to read and review the book posted their reviews. They were all fantastic and I’m so incredibly grateful for their support. If not for them, I think I would have crawled into a corner, assumed the fetal position, and sobbed uncontrollably into a glass of wine.

Elaine with a bottle of wineI had one more ad coming out the Saturday after launch, a new release post with Free Kindle Books and Tips. I usually see a good rate of downloads whenever I run an ad with this site (not NYT bestseller numbers by any means, but enough to push the book onto some lists). This time, though, something was wrong. I clicked over to the page where the book was listed and realized I’d toggled the wrong genre. Instead of thriller/suspense, I’d somehow chosen history. I sent a message to the owner of the site, but by this time the email had gone out to subscribers and that first flush of purchasers, if they didn’t read the description and figure out the book wasn’t even remotely history-related, had more than likely skimmed past the book.

Okay, so at that point Mark pretty much had to talk me off the ledge (which, in retrospect, wasn’t hard to do since we live in a one-story house). I decided then and there that whatever happened to the book was just meant to be and that I had done everything I could short of dancing naked in the middle of Pike Place Market holding up a cardboard cutout of the book cover and offering free booze to passersby.

Hmmm…maybe…um, nah. Seattle’s too damn cold.

Then, a miracle happened. Somewhere, somehow, something clicked and downloads started to do a kind of a crazy zig-zag on the report page. One day, sales tripled, the next day they sank back to post launch. The next day sales tripled again, but then the weekend hit and sales tanked. By this time, I was feeling all zen about the launch and I figured, hey, sales were sales and I should concentrate on the next book, forget about it all, immerse myself in the world of Leine once again, do what makes me happy. Basically, I adopted a fuck it attitude and let it go (cue song from Frozen)

Frozen gifThe following Monday sales increased seven-fold and have been growing ever since. As I write this, the whole series is selling well. I rooted around to see if The Body Market somehow made it onto any big lists on the ‘Zon, but I couldn’t find it anywhere other than the usual suspects like Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Crime and Thrillers>Assassinations, so I’m stymied. Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe the rate of downloads will last, but I’m supremely happy knowing the series is reaching more readers than ever and can’t wait to see how far the 4th book in the series will go. I wish I could point to one thing I did right, or even a few things, but hell if I know. I’ll probably do a lot of the same stuff for the next launch, but don’t expect it to follow the same patterns. The timing will be different, for one thing, so who knows what’ll happen?

I think that whole unknown is what intrigues me about this business. Predictable, it’s not.

So how about you guys? What are your launch strategies? Are you doing anything different? If so, what’s working and what isn’t?


And…We Have Lift-off!

The Body Market_wbrdrenhancedEXCITEMENTE! Frabjous joy! and all that 🙂 THE BODY MARKET is LIVE! A HUGE thank you to everyone who pre-ordered a copy and an extra-special shout out to the Advance Reader Team–you guys ROCK! (want to be a member? Send an email to dvb@dvberkom.com and I’ll hook you up :-D).

It’s been pretty cool to watch the book hit etailers around the world–pre-orders are a great way to launch (yeah, even when you’re patience-challenged like myself 🙂 ) The book has sold way better in a bunch more countries than is usual for one of my launches, and I have to give the credit to pre-order availability. It’s definitely a keeper.

Anywho, if you missed the super-special low-price offer on the pre-order, don’t despair! There’s still time to download your copy before the price increases! (although, admittedly, not a LOT of time…) There’s even a bonus short story at the end featuring a character from the book. Prepare to be surprised…

Here are the links–feel free to bandy them about with abandon on any social media sites you might frequent. And, as always, an honest review is greatly appreciated 🙂

Amazon: http://bit.ly/bodymkt

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/bodymktBN

iBooks:   http://bit.ly/thebodymktiBooks

Smashwords:   http://bit.ly/bodymktSW

KOBO:   http://bit.ly/bodymktKOBO

Have a GREAT weekend!

 

 


Review of ‘The Body Market’

Wow! The Body Market just got its first ever advance review and it’s GREAT! Thanks, Charlie 🙂

Charles Ray's Ramblings

When the daughter of a high powered Beverly Hills couple goes missing after a party in Tijuana, the family hires former assassin Leine Basso to find her. When the girl’s boyfriend is find murdered and mutilated in his car, and a local cartel threatens Leine if she doesn’t back off the investigation, she realizes that she’s dealing with more than a simple carjacking gone awry.

In The Body Market, D.V. Berkom takes Leine and the reader into the dark, dangerous world of human trafficking. I’ve read several of the Leine Basso thrillers, but this one sets the standard for adventure thrillers, and is in my humble view, the best yet. Biting dialogue and gritty descriptions are hallmarks of Berkom’s fiction, and she writes action scenes that are as brilliant as freshly spilt blood.

Leine Basso is one tough cookie, capable of inflicting pain or withstanding it, but in The…

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