Something Wicked This Way Comes

Jessie: In Washington D.C. wondering how it could possibly be so hot on Planet Earth.

white paper with yeah signage

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The Wickeds have been thinking about additional, interesting ways to connect with our readers. At this year’s retreat we decided that a Wickeds newsletter seemed like it might be just the ticket. So, we wanted to let you all know that as of Autumn 2018 we will begin sending out a newsletter.

To quote Barb, “It will arrive in email boxes on a regular but not annoyingly frequent basis.”

If you would like to receive notice of our upcoming releases, book cover reveals, appearances, giveaways, and bonus content, we hope you will consider clicking below and using the form to sign up. We look forward to visiting your in boxes starting in the autumn!

Readers, what do you like to see featured in author newsletters? Writers, do you send one out yourself? Any tips you would like to share?

Widening Our Circles

News Flash: Sheryl Sens is the lucky winner of the Biscuits and Slashed Browns audiobook. Check your email, Sheryl, and congratulations! I wish I had a copy for everyone.

Edith here, just home from most of a week in a Pennsylvania convent retreat house with two fellow authors, one being Wicked Accomplice Kim Gray (and the other a great friend of the Wickeds, Ramona DeFelice Long). I have many new words under my belt, a tired driver’s butt, and evening after evening of laughs in the bank.

I’ve been thinking about how to widen the circles of people who know about my books.

WideningCircles

Yes, I’m wearing the slightly uncomfortable Self-Promotion hat. But we all have to do it. We authors never want to tell people, Read my book! Buy my book! But … in fact, we want people to read our books. Buy them, ask their library to buy them, tell their friends what a great read they are. Because this is how I and most of my fellow Wickeds make our living.

Christine Green, a savvy digital strategy friend (she made my fabulous new web site), says marketing is letting people know what you have. So how do we let people know what we have to offer without losing readers?

FriendsJournalMaxwell2Earlier this month a few of you might have seen my link to an article I wrote. When I heard the national Quaker magazine, Friends Journal, was having an Arts issue, I wrote an essay about how being a Friend governs how I write and market my crime fiction. My premise was that Quaker values of peace and integrity might be seen as conflicting with a career of writing about murder, deceit, betrayal.

The journal published my piece on how I reconcile those conflicts and how my faith and values guide all my writing. Within forty-eight hours the article had been shared hundreds of times. My Quaker Midwife series now has a far wider potential audience than it did, and readers know about my contemporary series, too.

This spring I heard from multi-published mystery author Kaye George that Wildside Press is publishing trilogies of short stories – which don’t have to be original submissions. I got word while I was on retreat that my proposal for a trilogy of three Quaker Midwife short crime stories has been accepted! Two of the stories were nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. I’m thrilled to widen my circles of readers for these stories – and possibly for the books, too. Stay tuned for news on title and release date.

Authors Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, and Peg Cochran recently started a Facebook group for writers of farm-based mysteries. When they asked me to join, I initially hesitated. They all have new books coming out, but my publisher didn’t renew the Local Foods Mysteries beyond Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth in the series. That said, my organic farm books are a perfect fit with that group, so I agreed.

Down on the Farm Writers

I’ve had great reception to my weekly Wednesday posts over at Down on the Farm Mystery Writers and I think it’s bringing new life (and sales) to these books I worked so hard on. You should join the group! It’s open to all, we just have to approve new members.Death Over Easy

My Country Store Mysteries? I’m not quite sure how, but they seem to sell themselves. I don’t want them to languish, though. I love sharing recipes here and there and talking about topics like vintage cookware, bicycling, and home renovation on various blogs where I’m lucky to be invited as guest. I’m super excited to have Death Over Easy, book five, releasing at the end of July!

Another market-widening opportunity presented itself a couple of years ago. Kurt Anthony Krug writes articles for college alumni magazines and I met him at a literary fair in Michigan. He interviewed me, but I never saw the article. Three weeks ago a friend sent a photograph of the page in the Indiana University Alumni Association Magazine where I am featured. The magazine has a huge reach, in paper and digitally, and I’m delighted to have a presence there. And of course Indiana is where the Country Store Mysteries are set. Read the interview here.

IUAlumniMagArticle

As always – and I’m sure I share this with my fellow Wickeds – I could be doing more. Should I be creating and posting memes? Doing more on Instagram? Paying to boost ads? Then again, I have the next book to write. And the next and the next. And if I don’t write the best book I can, the whole career is down the drain!

AudioCoverAmazonReaders: How do you like to learn about new authors and about new books from your favorite writers? When does promotion flip over to turning you off?

Share in the comments and I’ll send one of you (US only) my last audiobook of Biscuits and Slashed Browns, the just previous Country Store mystery.

Patti Phillips on Marketing a Character

Edith here: I’m delighted to host author, blogger, reviewer, and photographer Patti Phillips EdithLizDSC_0031today. Liz and I first met Patti at the Writers’ Police Academy a couple of years ago, and loved talking crime with her, as well as watching her be the conference’s expert photographer.

In Patti’s new book, Kerrian’s Notebook Volume 1, Homicide HeadshotPattiPhillipsDetective Charlie Kerrian sees bodies everywhere – in the backyard, in the neighborhood, even on vacation. Join Kerrian as he recounts his take on life as a cop in her collection of his 2012 stories.

Marketing a Character
by Patti Phillips

The Plan: write a novel, promote it and break onto the NYT bestseller list.

Reality: A few years ago I wrote a mystery, One Sweet Motion, then attended several conferences featuring workshops focused on how to promote the finished product. The advice was remarkably repetitive: establish an online presence with social media sites, start a website, look at what other authors were doing, pass out bookmarks and business cards, build a brand.

Start a website? That sounded like a fun way to present the novel and its Jamaican setting, so I hired a couple of techy guys to put my photos and text together. Not long after our second meeting, the team split up. The website they built? The design never worked for me.

The novel had been set aside (revisions had been underway) as I dealt with family illness, but when the time came, I wanted to be ready to help promote my future bestseller!

An online class with MJ Rose (co-founder of AuthorBuzz) clarified my ideas about promotion. In addition to being an internationally published, bestselling author, she had a background in PR and marketing. And the course spoke to me. The underlying advice: create something different that exemplifies your brand. I realized that the old website didn’t work because it was too soft, too vacation-looking, not at all crime related. Money poorly spent, lesson learned.

Rose also advised: Don’t copy everybody else. And, do something that makes you happy, because you may be spending a couple of hours a day, every day, working on it.

One night, my character’s name was mentioned during an episode on a popular TV show. Somebody else was using the name that I had so carefully researched as my protagonist’s name! Gulp. Then it happened again a few nights later. While I realize that it’s practically impossible to lock up rights to a name, I did want my first foray into fiction to be unique. I did not want there to be any confusion between the guys on TV and my guy. I had to choose a new name and figure out a way to claim it as my own.

My brand is cops and the life they lead. I started writing short stories from the point of view of my new Homicide Detective, Charlie Kerrian, and every few days, posted one on Facebook. After just a few weeks, if you Googled “Charlie Kerrian,” my name would come up in connection with it. And, to my delight, a small, but fervent fan base on Facebook grew and wanted more.

A few months after Charlie Kerrian spoke up on Facebook for the first time, social media gurus began to advise writers not to put original posts on public sites – that the sites might claim ownership or want to manage how those posts were used. It was time for me to rethink my own website, since I wanted to keep control over how the Detective Kerrian brand would be seen. That’s why www.kerriansnotebook.com was born in December 2011.

I had a small ‘direct contact’ list of subscribers for the website who were alerted to new posts as soon as they were available, but thousands of followers who stopped in at coffee breaks or at the end of the day. This marketing tool for my novel now had a life of its own, with people sharing what they liked about Charlie Kerrian and about the cases he investigated or reported. Extremely valuable info for a newbie fiction writer.

The feedback from the fans caused me to adjust the direction of the posts in the second year to include more real cases, some complaints from Charlie’s wife and even some recipes that the two of them worked on together. Many of the posts have links to newspaper articles dealing with the material. I’ve added information for writers that can be used as a reference (guns, handcuffs, fingerprints – to name a few). There is a Visiting Detectives section, so that other writers can showcase their own detectives.

After Kerrian’s Notebook reached the eighteen-month mark, some of my subscribers asked if I had an ebook version of the posts, so that they could read them all in a virtual book format. Was I surprised by the question? You bet! I asked some writer pals at one of the crime writer conferences (Writers’ Police Academy) what they thought of an ebook collection of blog posts. Nobody hesitated. Nobody said, “Bad idea.” Everybody said, “Go for it!” and two gals checked in almost weekly to get a progress report on the project.

That’s how Kerrian’s Notebook Volume 1 came to be. It’s a way to spread the Kerrian's_Notebook_fingerprint_cover_small- copy (1)word about nice guy, coffee loving Detective Kerrian and most of all, it’s a thank-you gift to the readers to whom I will be forever indebted.

There will be a Volume 2 (a collection of the 2nd year of the pages from the Notebook) later in 2014. One Sweet Motion is now being shopped around to agents, but until it gets published, Charlie Kerrian lives in the ebook(s) and the weekly blog posts. After publication of One Sweet Motion, the ebooks will remain as companion pieces.

Marketing does work, sometimes in ways we could never have imagined.

Patti Phillips is a transplanted metropolitan New Yorker/north Texan, now living in the piney state of North Carolina. Her best investigative days are spent writing, cooking, traveling for research and playing golf. Her time on the golf course has been murderously valuable while creating the perfect alibi for the chief villain in her novel, One Sweet Motion. Did you know that there are spots on a golf course that can’t be accessed by listening devices?

Ms. Phillips (writing as Detective Charlie Kerrian) can be found at www.kerriansnotebook.com. Her book reviews can be read at www.nightstandbookreviews.com

Fascinating story, Patti! You did your research and it paid off. Readers – questions for Patti? She’ll stop by and answer as she’s able.