Tips for an effective radio interview:

Radio is one of the most cost effective means of book promotion AND it’s incredibly convenient. You can usually do it from home wearing your sweats if you want to. No travel expenses, minimal preparation time. But don’t let the convenience factor fool you. It’s one thing to do an easy radio interview by phone. It’s another thing to do it well.

Probably 40 – 50% of what we do at BreakThrough Promotions is arrange radio and television interviews for our clients. It’s possible for an author to set these up themselves, but many feel uncomfortable making that pitch to the producer or guest scheduler. And actually, when it comes to larger programs with national audiences, it’s probably easier for a publicist to get the ear of the producer than an author pitching him or her self.  We might use the exact same pitch but it sometimes is deemed more credible coming from a professional. Just the nature of the biz. But that’s another subject. For now, let’s assume the interview is already set and it’s time for you to get ready. What do you need to do?

  1. Get prepared for the interview about 15 minutes early. Make sure you’ve disabled Call Waiting on your phone and instructed family/friends not to interrupt or make loud noises if possible. If you have a dog that tends to bark at inopportune moments, maybe secure it in another room. It helps to have a copy of your book close by and a note card with pertinent info on hand (see below). Have a glass or bottle of water on hand and practice breathing deeply. Make sure the room isn’t too warm (you’ll tend to yawn more if it is) or too cool. If you’re unsure about noises on the line have a friend call you and let you know if the line is clear or if there are background noises that might be picked up (fans and TVs are the worst culprits).
  2. Always use a landline for interviews if possible. Cell phones tend to drop calls. If you’re using a landline, turn off the ringer on your cell phone. Otherwise it will surely ring right in the middle of the interview, disrupting your train of thought.
  3. Don’t be nervous. Ok, maybe you can be nervous, but try not to sound like you’re nervous. Smile. You really can tell a difference in someone’s voice when they smile even if you can’t see them. Practice. It should be just like you’re talking to a good friend and most interviewers are good at making you feel at ease.
  4. Don’t talk too fast. Often when an author is nervous and aware that the interview is brief, they’ll talk very fast trying to be sure they get everything said that they want to say. In truth, 60 seconds is longer than you think and most interviews will be around 10 minutes or more. Plenty of time to get your info out there. Speak slowly and distinctly, but don’t talk down to anyone. Once again, practice is your friend.
  5. LISTEN carefully to what the host is saying/asking. It’s very easy to hear the first few words and have your mind run off, thinking of what you’ll say instead of listening carefully to what the host is saying. Take a deep breath and listen before you answer.

Remember the days of high school English class and answer in full sentences when appropriate. For instance:

   Host: What are you trying to convey with the story?

Author (bad answer): …what happens to the whale

Author (better answer): In MOBY DICK, I’d like readers to see the human side of the whale’s character.

Obviously, that’s a loose example, but the point is, say your title as often as possible without being obnoxious (remember repeat  exposure clinches sales) and you have to take every opportunity to say something interesting about the story to tempt listeners to want to buy.

6. Prepare a closing line or two and write it down on an index card. Be sure you include your website URL and a place the book can be bought. You may think “DUH, I don’t need to write that down” but trust me, there will come a time when you wish you had. It’s amazing how the mind can go blank at the most inopportune times. I know this from painful experience. If there’s any doubt about the way to spell your name or something in your URL, spell it out. Make it as easy as possible for listeners to remember and find you. If they’re hearing on the drive home from work, they’re probably not writing it down. If it goes without saying, say it twice.

7. Do not sound like a breathing teleprompter or a robot. Be lively and excited about your product. Bring energy whether radio or tv. It will be remembered. This tip is from one of my favorite hosts of an award-winning, regional radio show. I didn’t get a chance to ask him what prompted it, but apparently he’s had recurring problems with breathers. On the other hand, don’t sound like a cheerleader either. Nuff said.

8. Don’t ask hosts questions, even things like “What do you think?” It may seem like a good way to keep conversation going but will more often catch them off guard and make things awkward. They’re expecting you to answer questions, not ask them. There are probably some exceptions but they’re in the minority. Be careful with that. You’ve only got a few minutes and you’re not there to talk about them.

9. Have someone write and ask you five questions that you don’t know beforehand; practice a few times and you will have no problem. Of course it’s most helpful if those asking the questions have read the book, but there are some radio hosts who won’t read the book and will just formulate questions from the cover text. Be ready for anything. Many authors find practicing awkward, but it’s really the best way to improve your performance. If you’re serious about being effective and ultimately being invited to guest on national programs, it’s a must. If you’re looking for television spots, there’s no better coach than watching yourself on a video recording. It can be painful, and comments even from close friends can be hard to take, but if you seriously consider them, they’ll help make your performance better.

10. If the host is open to it, and many are, send along some sample questions prior to the interview. Most will use at least some of the questions and you’ll be a little better prepared with full answers.

11. See if you can get a recorded copy of the interview after it airs. Many will offer that. If they’re good, post them on your website. Whether they’re good or not so good, listen and learn.

12. Most of all, have fun and the audience and the interviewer will follow your lead. An interview that entices listeners and encourages them to seek out your book is one that is fun to listen to and may not have a whole lot to do with the book at all. If they like you, they’ll look for your work. If you bore them, they probably never will no matter how good the book may be.

Radio interviews can be a fabulous way to increase sales all over the country no matter where you’re located. With online sales soaring higher and higher, it’s a no-brainer. And don’t overlook those small town, rural programs that might only have a few hundred or thousand listeners. They also may not have a lot of social activities in the area, many don’t have bookstores or libraries nearby and reading is a favorite pastime. You may sell more from exposure in rural South Dakota than you do in New York City because people aren’t as busy and the competition is much less fierce. Think about it.

Have you run into something while doing interviews that was particularly successful? Offputting? A question? We’d love to hear your comments!

Happy interviewing!

The Confession by Charles Todd

The Confession

(An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery)

Charles Todd

William Morrow, 2012, 352 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0062015662

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

A man walks into Rutledge’s office at Scotland Yard and identifies himself as Wyatt Russell.  From Russell’s appearance, it is obvious that the man is very ill.  Russell admits to Rutledge that he is suffering from cancer and does not have long to live.  His purpose for visiting Scotland Yard is to confess that he killed a man in 1915 and was never apprehended.  Russell states that confessing is the only way to clear his conscience.  He names his victim as his cousin, Justin Fowler.

Rutledge is curious but confused.  Although Russell admits to the murder, he is not willing to offer many details and eventually states that his confusion is due to the morphine that he is taking.  Without enough evidence to open a murder inquiry Rutledge still cannot just let the matter go.  His curiosity will not allow it.  When a body is found floating in the Thames with a bullet in the back of the head, it turns out that the body is that of Rutledge’s confessor to murder of a few weeks ago. There is a gold locket around the man’s neck containing a picture of a young woman.

Rutledge takes the locket and travels to Essex and the village of Furnham, the home of Wyatt Russell.  Although the community of

Charles and Caroline Todd write the Inspector Rutledge series

Furnham does not welcome strangers, Rutledge is able to speak to the minister who informs Rutledge that the picture of the dead man is not that of Wyatt Russell.

It turns out the dead man who passed himself off, as Wyatt Russell is actual Ben Willet, the son of a fisherman, who grew up in the town of Furnham.  Wyatt Russell resided at River’s Edge, an estate near the town.  Wyatt’s mother took in a cousin Justin Fowler to raise after Fowler’s parents died. Cynthia Farraday also came to live at River’s Edge after the death of her parents.  Wyatt’s mother disappeared from River’s Edge and her body was never found. Servants attested to the fact that the gold locket found around the neck of Ben Willet was actually owned by Mrs. Russell and there was a picture inside of Mr. and Mrs. Russell.  Mrs. Russell was known to wear the locket daily.

Rutledge is left with a puzzle of so many pieces it seems impossible to put together but he is determined.  It seems that there are many mysteries surrounding River’s Edge to say nothing of the town of Furnham. The residents have good reason to keep strangers away.  Rutledge has at least three deaths to puzzle out.  Mrs. Russell who disappeared and is believed dead in 1914, Justin Fowler’s reported death in 1915 and now Ben Willet, who confessed to the killing of Justin Fowler when passing himself off as Wyatt Russell.

The story is intriguing and the outcome is not one that I expected.  Hamish McLeod, the ghost that rides shotgun with Rutledge, is present in The Confession but his presence is not as predominant as it has been in past Rutledge novels.  I found this novel to be a great addition to the Ian Rutledge series but can be read as a stand-alone.

An interview with Beth Groundwater

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Beth Groundwater in person – yet – but I’ve conversed with her online several times over the last few years and I find her work both entertaining and intriguing. Let’s see what she has to offer!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Beth: I wrote stories as a child and a teenager, then took a break from fiction to concentrate on technical writing for college and my first career as a software engineer. In 1999, I retired early from that career, and I had begun writing short stories again about a year prior to that. I decided to tackle a novel length manuscript then, and that was my practice book, which has been revised many times but never published. My second novel-length manuscript turned into A Real Basket Case, the first book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, which was first published in 2007.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Beth: I had placed in many writing contests and had published, and been paid for, several short stories before A Real Basket Case, but it wasn’t until I signed my first book contract that I really felt successful as a writer.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Beth: The biggest surprise for me was the amount of non-writing work involved! There’s the contracting process, research, promotion, networking and all of the other ancillary activities that are part of having a writing career, but that take precious time away from the writing itself. Promotion is something that is ongoing, which ramps up around the time of each release, and can be a huge drain on my time.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Beth: No. By now, with four books out and two more under contract, I thought I might be making a small reasonable income of $15,000 to $20,000 a year from my writing business. I’m making nowhere near that.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Beth: I find that once I achieve one goal, I set another, larger goal for myself. First, it was to get a short story published, then to get a book published traditionally, with an advance and royalties. Then my goal was to see if I could do it again and not be a one-book wonder. Then, I set a goal of developing and publishing a new series, the RM Outdoor Adventures series. My next goal is to finally reach that income expectation I had.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Beth: I remember hearing from my traditionally published author friends that it took an average of 5 to 7 years after you started writing seriously to snag your first book contract. I was starting to sweat when I neared that 7 year mark, thinking I would fail as a fiction author and wondering if I should throw in the towel. Then in late 2005, I was offered that first book contract for A Real Basket Case just in time!

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Beth: I think I went about this fairly smartly, learning a LOT about the business and craft of writing before I became published. If I was starting out now, I’m sure my publication path would be different, first because the industry has changed so much in the past few years, and secondly because an awful lot of luck, both good and bad, is involved in a publishing career. I’m convinced, from the comments my agent received from editors, that if we hadn’t tried to launch the RM Outdoor Adventures series in the depth of the last great recession, it would have been snatched up by a large New York house. As it was, Midnight Ink adopted it, and I’m very pleased with this mid-sized house and their hard-working sales and promotion staffs.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work, the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Beth: I try to focus on the writing and editing I need to get done each week first, then work on promotion later in the day or later in the week after I’ve finished the writing I need to do to meet my deadlines. I have to be very organized and give myself weekly goals to stay on track, especially because I’m juggling two series.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that has happened to you as a writer?

Beth: Because I feature the town of Salida, Colorado, and the First in Boating on the Arkansas (FIBArk) whitewater festival held there every year in Deadly Currents, the first book of my RM Outdoor Adventures series, I was invited in 2011 to be the Honored Guest or VIP in the FIBArk Parade. The whole weekend was quite an ego boost. It began with a noon interview on Friday on the local radio station, KSBV, “The River Rat.” They also had me record a promo spot for the station while I was there.

The FIBArk parade took place at 10 AM on Saturday morning. I sat perched on the top of the back seat of a PT Cruiser convertible and waved to folks lining both sides of the streets. It was an absolutely amazing experience, especially when we pulled into the heart of downtown, where the crowd was  4 to 8 people deep and the parade announcer introduced me. That afternoon, I sold a boatload of books at a table near the festival in Riverside Park with Lisa Marvel, the owner of The Book Haven independent bookstore in Salida. That parade experience is going to be a hard one to beat!

PJ: It sounds wonderful! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Beth: Rejections are always disheartening, and I’ve had my fair share of them. I was rejected 89 times by literary agents before the 90th one signed me on as a client. And, I averaged twenty rejections per short story before they sold. I think the rejections that stung the most, though, were the ones I received on Deadly Currents and the RM Outdoor Adventure mystery series in the depths of the recession. My agent and I knew the book was good, editors were telling us that it and the series concept was good, but no house besides Midnight Ink was willing to take the risk on a new series in that down economy. I’ve been vindicated, however by the good reviews Deadly Currents has received in all four of the big review publications (Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly), the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Scene.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Beth: First, there’s the topic of my two series. No one else is writing a gift basket designer mystery series, nor is anyone writing a whitewater river ranger series. Second is the fact that I base my books in real Colorado locations: Salida, Breckenridge, and Colorado Springs, so far. Third is my voice. I feel that it’s unique, and when people do compare me with other mystery authors, it’s most often with men, such as C.J. Box and Craig Johnson, though my soft-boiled series are not as violent as theirs.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Beth: I have four pieces of advice for aspiring authors. 1) Join a critique group and listen very closely to what other writers are telling you about your work. If you need to go back and study some aspect of the craft, do it. I spent a year focusing on my weak spot, character development, and now readers tell me that is what they like best about my writing. 2) Set measurable goals, make out a weekly plan for how to meet those goals and report to someone weekly on your progress. 3) Remember that your words are not golden and that your critique partners and editors have the same goal as you: to improve your writing until it is publishable. Be willing to change anything to make a story work. 4) Network, network, network! I met my first editor and both my first and second literary agents through networking with other writers. I continue to make contacts with librarians, booksellers, media personnel and others the same way.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you would like to mention?

720 Manitou Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
719.685.1589

Beth: Black Cat Books () in Manitou Springs, Colorado, operated by Natalie Johnson, is a huge supporter of local Colorado authors, and is the source for autographed copies of my books.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Gift Basket Designer series:

A Real Basket Case, hardcover 2007, trade/ebook November, 2011

To Hell in a Handbasket, hardcover 2009, trade/ebook November, 2012

RM Outdoor Adventures series:

Deadly Currents, March, 2011

Wicked Eddies, May, 2012

The third book in both series will be released in 2013.

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title, Wicked Eddies:

Fly fishing is dangerous? River ranger Mandy Tanner had no idea until days before a huge tournament in Salida, Colorado. True, the Arkansas River can be a man-eater, but the rapids weren’t responsible for driving a hatchet into the neck of would-be competitor Howie Abbott, a secretive man who may have been cheating. While casting about for suspects, Mandy seeks clues from Abbott family members, including her best friend, bartender Cynthia Abbott. But when Cynthia becomes the prime suspect, Mandy realizes she’s wading into deeper, more hazardous waters than ever.

Where can we buy it?

You can buy a trade paperback or ebook copy of Wicked Eddies from your local bookstore (they can order a copy if it’s not already on their shelves) or from on-line retailers.

PJ, thanks so much for having me on your blog! I hope your readers will find out more about me and contact me at one of my on-line homes:

My website is: http://bethgroundwater.com/

My blog is: http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/

My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/beth.groundwater

My Goodreads page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/471598.Beth_Groundwater

Beth, it’s been great! I love learning more about the writers and the process within the industry. I hope everyone checks out one or both of your series! Questions anyone?

An interview with Marilyn Meredith

Author Marilyn Meredith

Marilyn Meredith is a wonderful author and a great friend in general. She’s diligent, talented and approachable – always ready to help or offer advice. Here’s what she’s brought to share with us today:

PJ: Marilyn, how long have you been writing?

Marilyn: As long as I can remember, and that’s a long, long time. When I was about 10, I wrote a fairy tale and illustrated it. I sent if off to a publisher (with my mom’s help) and received my first rejection—a very nice one.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful or satisfied as a writer?

Marilyn: I’m not sure I’ve reached that point. The fact that I have two publishers who routinely accept my work is most satisfying—but I haven’t ever felt successful. Perhaps fulfilled is the better word, because I’m writing and others can read what I’ve written.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Marilyn: Though writing was something I always did, I’m not sure I had any thoughts about what “the writing life” would be. I met many authors along the way who were “famous” like Mary Higgins Clark and Jan Burke and I never thought my life would be like theirs. For me, it’s sitting down in front of the computer and writing—but also spending a lot of time promoting too. I don’t know that I ever thought I’d have to spend so much time at the promotion part.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Marilyn: This writer is not wealthy. In fact sometimes when I see the total on my royalties I have to laugh. By the time everyone gets their cut, be it Amazon or Ingram, the bookstore, the publisher, my part is very small.

PJ: Sounds familiar! Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Since you’ve been published, how has your focus changed?

Marilyn: I’ve been published since 1981. But that first book really didn’t open doors for me. The editor that signed me on left the publishing house and I had to start all over. I got many, many rejections after that.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Marilyn: This was back in the day of typewriters and carbon paper and mailing the whole manuscript off in a box with another self-addressed and stamped box inside so the manuscript could be returned. That first book was rejected close to 30 times. About every 5th time it came back, the pages would have coffee and food stains and smell like cigarette smoke. This meant I had to retype so I often rewrote too.  I don’t remember the actual time period, but I moved from one town to another and received the acceptance letter at my new place of residence.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Marilyn: With that first book I had no idea what I was supposed to do to promote it. I did set up one book signing which was successful, but that’s all. I got no guidance from the publisher about what I ought to be doing and I have no idea what happened at the publishing house’s end—if anything. Back in that time period there weren’t all the suggestions for promotions like there are now. So sure, I’d have at least set up some speaking engagements and other bookstores for signings.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Marilyn: This is what’s going on with me at the moment. I have a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery at the publisher’s right now. Usually that series comes out in the early fall, which means I’ll have edits to go over in a couple of months. I’m also writing a new one in that series. I try to work on it for at least two hours at least five days a week.

I’m reading chapters of my next Rocky Bluff P.D. to my critique group every week and then editing them.

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. is out now and I’m in the process of a month long blog tour which takes a lot of time to promote and while that was going on I did another smaller tour with 7 other authors over a period of 14 days—also time consuming. I have several speaking engagements planned, mostly libraries and I’m scheduled to have a booth at two craft fairs this year.

PJ: Wow, that’s incredible! You must be very good at time management! What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Marilyn: After being a runner-up for an Epic e-award enough times to feel like the Susan Lucci of Epic, this year I won an Epic e-award for my supernatural romance, Lingering Spirit. I was thrilled. (Epic is the organization for e-published authors and publishers.)

PJ: Congratulations! That’s well-deserved. What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Marilyn: I really can’t think of anything except I wish I had more readers.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Marilyn: When someone comes up to me or writes on a blog that they love one of my series or a particular character, that’s a most wonderful feeling.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Marilyn: My Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has a lot of Native American mysticism in it and is set in a small mountain community in the Southern Sierra—a place where no other series I know of is set. It is very much like the place where I live though I’ve changed the name to Bear Creek.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, there is a cast of characters who make appearances in every book, though I usually focus on one or two for each book. I think this series could be described as almost a cozy police procedural.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Marilyn: If money is your goal, you should probably do something else. If you truly want to be a published author, read the kind of books you want to write, attend writers’ conferences, read books on writing, but the two most important things are to write regularly and never give up.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Marilyn: Probably being visible on the Internet though blog tours, my own blog, Facebook etc. Though I really enjoy giving presentations at writers’ conferences and libraries or anywhere else I’m invited.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Marilyn: Making the contacts for personal appearances—I do not like to make phone calls.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Marilyn at Willow Bridge Books

Marilyn: Willow Bridge Bookstore in Oakhurst, California has been very supportive—and I must mention Kris Neri’s Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona AZ. I’ve given several presentations there.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

I’ve listed them latest first:

The Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, set in a fictional beach city betweenVenturaandSanta Barbaraand written under the name F. M. Meredith

No Bells

Angel Lost

An Axe to Grind

No Sanctuary

Smell of Death

Fringe Benefits

Bad Tidings

Final Respects

The Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, set in the Southern Sierra, Native American.

Bears With Us

Invisible Path

Dispel the Mist

Kindred Spirits

Judgment Fire

Calling the Dead

Intervention

WingBeat

Unequally Yoked

Deadly Omen

Deadly Trail

(the next in the series will be available this fall, called Raging Water

 

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

In No Bells, Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It is with Ingram so can be ordered by an independent bookstore.

Thank you so much for stopping by! That’s quite an impressive list of titles you have there. I intend to pick up a few myself, and hope others will do likewise. Anyone have a question or comment for Marilyn?

Designing a promo campaign

Planning a promotional campaign for a new book can be a monumental task and no two campaigns are alike. Here at BreakThrough Promotions, our goals include determining what the author’s goal is, determining what the publisher will do to help the author meet that goal, and then filling in the blanks. A well-designed team effort gleans the best results. However, in this day and age, most publishers aren’t able to do much by way of promotion, so the author is left to do much of it alone. Usually, this isn’t because the publisher doesn’t want to help. It’s just the simple fact that in today’s economy everyone has scaled back and a single, in-house publicist simply can’t take care of a whole list of authors. There are only 24 hours in a day and time available for follow-up is crucial.

We like to discuss what our clients want and what they feel most comfortable doing for themselves, then design a customized package that lets us schedule those things the author would rather not tackle. We’ve designed several packages that include different types and amounts of events. Here’s a brief description:

Carl Brookins and the Minnesota Crime Wave at a book launch at Once Upon a Crime

Events: These could be basic meet-n-greet book signings, short talks at libraries or civic organizations, or workshops conducted at community centers or writers conferences. Some authors very successfully command an appearance fee or honorarium for their time and this can be discussed if it’s a type of event that interests you.

The most common is the bookseller/book signing event. Many authors really don’t like them, and some swear they’re not worth the trouble until you’ve published several books and have developed a following.

Authors who’ve been there and done that will explain that those basic book signings 1) are a sure way to get your books on the shelves, 2) help you develop name recognition and relationships with booksellers, 3) are the primary way they built their following and establish a fan base (by collecting addresses at these events), and 4) that the signings are more about the first 3 items than about how many books you sell at a single event. Like most promotional efforts, the results are cumulative and no single event can be judged as a success/failure. Successful book promotion is a “slow and steady wins the race” affair. No matter how large the foundation, they’re all built one brick at a time.

Print: The most common thing we arrange in this category is book reviews. We don’t pay for book reviews, nor do you pay us to write them. Technically, authors pay us to find appropriate review markets, send the review copies and follow up with those markets, reporting back to the author when we find those who have written reviews in response to what we’ve sent them. We don’t send unsolicited review copies (ARCs) to anyone unless it’s a request specifically from the author or publisher.

Other things that fall into this category are mentions or interviews in blogs, mentions in newspaper articles or columns, newsletters, magazines, trade journals. Pretty much any time we’re able to assist in getting your name or book title in print. We’re happy to target the type of print market that you’d most like to see, but have no way of guaranteeing which ones will respond.

DJ Doug Wilson (right) of WANB

Radio: This is probably the most cost effective means of book promotion, almost always conducted by phone. We work with a number of shows regularly that have established audiences and recurring “book” or “author” spots during their programs. Most of the shows we work with are considered local, but many are regional and national broadcast programs.

We also work with a selected few internet radio and satellite programs that have documented large audience bases. Interviews may be 5 minutes in length up to an hour. When we send the confirmation information to you, it should include some information about the program and the coverage map. We can also arrange for you to talk with a media specialist to help you improve your interview skills and make you more comfortable in giving interviews if needed.

Cheryl Nason of Conversation Cafe

Television: This is a wonderful way to reach a large number of potential readers and to help you establish your brand and develop name recognition. The interviews we arrange are usually local morning or noon news shows and interviews tend to be very brief – 2 – 3 minutes at most. They can be very beneficial to your campaign, but should be done sparingly, especially at first. They’re especially helpful if scheduled prior to an appearance in the area. Keeping recorded clips of radio and television interviews is wise. Almost all requests to appear on national broadcast programs require sending clips of previous appearances to assure producers and guest schedulers that you will be comfortable and entertaining for their listeners/viewers.

So, now that you’ve seen the sample campaign contents, and the descriptions of the types of events, how do you know what you really need?

We believe in what I call a pyramid approach:

The base of the pyramid is the availability of books. Without the book, there’s no need to promote it, right? If you talk enthusiastically about this great book, but the customer can’t find it anywhere, that’s not helpful. So the first and large part of your effort has to be establishing the availability of the book for purchase. Larger publishers probably take care of that for the author, and many smaller presses at least make the attempt. But it’s still advantageous for the author to speak knowledgably to issues in this area. To do that:

  • Make sure you know which distributors stores can order from and what the bookseller discount is
  • Include ordering information on your sell sheet
  • Make ordering information available on your website
  • Do not lump all the info together – make a specific sell sheet for booksellers and wholesale ordering and another for retail sales
  • Design campaign activities to notify independent booksellers and libraries about your book
  • Design campaign activities to notify potential readers about print and e-book availability
  • Don’t overlook alternative, niche markets for book sales

Once you’ve got a strong foundation in the works for book availability, the next tier in the pyramid is print. Today’s print market is much different than it was even 5 years ago. Newspaper reviews are like gold and about as hard to find. But there are a lot of alternatives; they just require a little planning. Design your campaign so that a wide variety of print markets are being contacted. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too late – many require several weeks lead time prior to publication. But don’t make the mistake of giving up too soon, either. With diligence, you can glean reviews months after the release date if you’re pursuing the right market. And remember, a book is new to a person until they see it, no matter what date it was actually released.

Bob Langstaff WAMV

The third tier of the pyramid is media. This is a broad category, but should have less of your time and attention than book availability and print. Fortunately, you can accrue a good amount of broadcast media coverage in a short amount of time. Look for opportunities for radio interviews on a variety of show types and in a broad spectrum of locations. TV interviews are good for helping drive traffic to events and personal appearances.

While relatively easy to set up, broadcast interviews provide the opportunity to get your name and title in front of more potential buyers than just about any other single event. Even the smallest local programs will have an audience of several hundred. Most have several thousand, and regional programs can easily have more than a million listeners. Don’t make the mistake of gauging the success or failure of a radio interview by watching for an immediate spike in sales following the program. Sometimes that happens. More often it doesn’t. Marketing experts will tell you that it generally takes 14 repeat exposures for a name or product to register on the consciousness of a consumer. It’s the cumulative effect of several marketing efforts that builds name recognition and begins to spark sales.

Elaine Viets at Venetian Arts Society

The tip top of the pyramid is niche markets. As you might suspect, the possibilities here are endless. It may mean finding markets that focus on nurses because your primary character is a nurse, or it may be alumni of your college. It may be a variety of pet venues because your protagonist has a canine sidekick or maybe gift shops in National Parks because your books feature a forest ranger. There may be several specific niche markets that would be interested in different aspects of your book(s) or in you as the author. Take advantage of all of them, but only after the other three tiers are getting the needed attention. Niche markets can seem like a gold mine, but in the overall scope of things, you don’t want to focus all your attention there if you want a reasonable return on investment. Careful timing and planning will help you cover all the bases.

There are a lot of factors to consider when planning an effective campaign, so it’s easy to understand why some opt to get professional help. As you begin to craft a plan for your own campaign, keep in mind that you cover each pyramid tier to some degree, but you may need more help in one area than another. If that’s the case, learn to staff your weaknesses. Call on friends and family to trade tasks with you if that will work. Or contact professionals. You might be surprised how simple things become when you have a well thought out plan to start with.

Good luck and happy writing!

PJ

An interview with Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen is …a little hard to describe. He’s one of the best writers I’ve known and deserves far more recognition than he gets, although he’s gaining on it. If you want funny, talented, creative, surprising, make-you-think kind of writing, this is it! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Jeff for years now and I’m proud to call him friend. Here’s what he’s sharing with us today:

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Jeff: Today? About an hour and a half. Ever? Um, about fifty years, give or take. Professionally? Since 1979. I’m sorry–what was the question?

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Jeff: I’ll let you know the minute I get there. I don’t think you ever do, but if I ever run into Stephen King, I’ll ask.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Jeff: It’s not at all different. You think of stuff, you try to write what you have in your head, it usually comes out a little bit different, and then you send it out there and hope people like it. The thing I’ve had to learn is promotion, and I’m still working on that.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Jeff: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

PJ: <Smile> Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Jeff: I never went through that–my first book was bought for publication (by a very small publisher) in five days. So my focus hasn’t changed–it’s about continuing to be published, and that’s done by always writing the book I’d like to read. You can’t control anything else.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Jeff: I’d start sooner. I spent 20 years trying to sell screenplays and didn’t write my first novel until I was 42.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Jeff: I probably don’t give enough time to promoting, but that’s because I don’t always have great ideas. The rest of it, in addition to teaching, studying for my masters degree (coming soon!) and doing other writing work, fits into a day. You write 1000 words a day, you’ll have 80,000 words in less than three months. Get writing.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Jeff: I love it when readers get in touch, or better, walk up to me at a convention or a signing. The most ego-boosting? Getting a blurb from the late and brilliant Larry Gelbart on my first novel.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Jeff: Being shown a poster promoting an appearance with an author picture on it. When I told the rep at the store that the picture was of someone who wasn’t me, he said, “Are you sure?”

PJ: LOL I hadn’t heard that one. This is why authors have to think fast on their feet. You just never know what you’ll run into. With more books being released each  month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Jeff: I think my work is funny but it doesn’t come at the expense of story or my favorite, characters. I like to write people–even ghosts–who seem like you could know them.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Jeff: I can’t tell you “how to do it,” but if it’s not the only thing you want to do, you should definitely do something else. It’s too hard to make a living this way to spend your time at it if it’s not your absolute dream.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Jeff: I’ve found that social media and Internet promotion have been the most cost effective. I’d like to be able to travel around to various bookstores, but I can’t afford it. I do what I can.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Jeff: The successful area.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Jeff: My friend Marilyn Thiele at Moonstone Mystery Books in Flemington, NJ is great at handselling and promotion. I visit her store every time a book comes out.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

The Aaron Tucker Mystery series:

FOR WHOM THE MINIVAN ROLLS

A FAREWELL TO LEGS

AS DOG IS MY WITNESS

The Double Feature Mystery series:

SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED

IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE

A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION

The Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series (as E.J. Copperman):

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED

AN UNINVITED GHOST

OLD HAUNTS

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

OLD HAUNTS: Alison owns a Jersey Shore guesthouse with two resident ghosts, and they want her to look up old loves. The problem? One of the exes is dead, one is missing, and Alison’s ex, “The Swine” is at her front door. It’s going to be an interesting week.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Jeff: Anywhere books–or ebooks–are sold.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Jeff: I’m actually the power forward for the New York Knicks. That’s so little known that even I don’t know it. Neither do the Knicks.

PJ: I knew it!

See? Jeff’s  a riot. His writing is even better than that. Run, do not walk, to the nearest place you can to get a copy of his work! And please, keep telling him how great he is. Maybe sooner or later he’ll believe us!

An interview with Earl Staggs

Earl Staggs

Mystery author Earl Staggs  has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned a long list of Five Star reviews. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups. He recently received his second Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the year.

 

Besides all that, he’s been a really good friend of mine for more years than I’ll admit! Here’s what he has to say today:

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Earl: During all the years I spent raising a family and making a living in the real world – mostly as a salesman – I secretly harbored the crazy idea of being a writer. When I semi-retired in 1995, left the cold winters of Maryland behind and moved south, I decided it was time to give it a serious try. It was a slow start since I had no real training or experience, but that’s when I actually began writing. Wow. I hadn’t really thought about it in number of years, but a little simple math tells us that’s seventeen years, doesn’t it? That’s okay. While the years flew by, I was having fun.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

 

Earl: A story of mine was accepted by and appeared in the spring 1998 issue of The Cozy Detective Mystery Magazine. Never mind that it was a small, little-known magazine, that I wasn’t paid a penny for the story, or that the magazine disappeared after another issue or two. The editor of a print magazine declared my story good enough to publish. That planted a suspicion in my mind that I could actually BE a writer.

That suspicion wasn’t truly confirmed until 2002 when, after seeing a number of stories accepted and published in various venues, I received a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. The award was for a story titled “All the Fine Actors” which appeared in a new-fangled kind of magazine. It wasn’t a print magazine, but was electronically published on the Internet. The magazine was called “EWG Presents: Without a Clue” and the editor was a lovely lady I knew as Patti Nunn, a struggling writer herself. The magazine closed a few years later and the editor went on to become a well-known and highly-respected publicist who goes by the initials “PJ.” (Hmmm. I wonder if she remembers me.)

At any rate, even though outside the short mystery fiction community, no one knew of me, winning the Derringer Award gave me the confidence to feel successful as a writer. Without that confidence, I would not have thought it possible to have a novel published.

PJ: Hmmm the name Slasher comes to  mind, but I’m sure that’s a figment of my imagination. Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Earl: In one way, it’s everything I expected. There’s a satisfaction hard to describe when I finish a story and feel it’s as good as it can be. On a much smaller scale, it’s the same feeling DaVinci had when he paid his model and said, “Thanks, Mona, it’s done and you can go home now.” The same feeling Michelangelo had when he looked up and said, “Fantastic! But I’ll never do another ceiling.”

There’s a special joy and thrill to begin with a blank canvas — or a blank page — and create something new and original you can feel proud to send out into the world carrying your name. That’s what I always thought writing would be like, and that’s the way it is for me now.

In another way, it’s totally different. I grew up thinking, like everyone else, that it went like this: you write a good book, find an agent, a publisher pays you a bunch of money, and you spend the rest of your life being rich and famous. Maybe it was like that at one time, maybe not, but the reality is far from it now.

Like so many other industries, the publishing industry is struggling to stay afloat. Rarely do publishers take chances on unknown authors. Many agents have left the business or are looking for a new line of work. Authors must decide whether to pray for that one in a million break the way it used to be, lower their expectations and sign with a small press, or join the “ebook revolution” via digital self-publishing.

No one knows for sure what publishing will be like in the future. There is, however, one thing I know for sure. Just as there will always be artists willing to hire a model to “Sit still and give me a tiny little smile” and ones willing to climb a ladder and paint a ceiling, there will always be writers unable to resist the challenge of filling a blank page with something they can be proud of. It’s what we do and will continue to do, no matter what.

Thank you for allowing me to visit Bookbrowsing. I enjoy talking about writing almost as much as I enjoy writing.

 

Currently in publication:

 

MEMORY OF A MURDER

A mystery novel with a long list of Five Star reviews.

“Someone is leaving a trail of bodies from Baltimore to Ocean City and Adam Kingston is the only one who can stop him.”

Read Chapter One at: http://tinyurl.com/7xshlhw

 

SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS

16 Tales of Mystery from Hardboiled to Humor

Includes 2002 Derringer Award winner “All the Fine Actors”

Available in print form or ebook at:  http://tinyurl.com/7fz8u6m

 

 

Available for all ereaders at Untreed Reads: http://tinyurl.com/7h4nays

 

WHERE BILLY DIED

****2012 Derringer Award Winner****

A modern day bounty hunter follows a bail jumper to Texas where he has to tangle with a mobster from back east as well as a local legend about Billy the Kid. Novella. $1.99

 

THE MISSING SNIPER

The first appearance of Adam Kingston, later featured in the novel MEMORY OF A MURDER. Novella. $1.50

 

            THE THANKSGIVING COOKOFF WAR

Sheriff Molly Goodall has to deal with a rash of tractor thefts, a deputy who wants to be a SWAT member, and having to judge the winning entry in The Thanksgiving Cookoff.

Short story. $.99

 

 

Thank you so much, Earl, for stopping by. I can’t WAIT to finally read more of Tall Chambers and I strongly encourage everyone who reads this to read everything of Earl’s you can find. He’s worth the effort! Any questions or comments?

Midnight Alley by Miles Corwin

Midnight Alley

Miles Corwin

Oceanview Publishing, 2012, 304 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1-6080-038-9

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

When I reviewed “Kind of Blue” I commented that Miles Corwin had written a book full of danger, excitement and secrets and “Midnight Alley” is more of the same.  The reader learns more about Ash Levine, top detective in the LAPD’s Felony Special squad.  Ash is not an ordinary detective.  He served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces and this experience gives him a little different outlook.

This second in the Ash Levine series puts Ash in charge of solving the murder of two young black men found shot to death in a Venice Alley. The timing could not be worse.  Ash has just left for a weekend with his ex-wife Robin.  When he received the call ordering him back to work, Robin understood, but Ash was very disappointed.

Raymond Pinkney, one of the victims, was the son of City Councilman Isaac Pinkney.  Isaac has been a frequent critic of the LAPD.  Ash is under heavy pressure to find the killer but the case is puzzling.  Teshay Winfield, the other victim, had just returned from serving in the armed forces.  The two victims had known each other when they were younger but had gone separate ways.  What brought them together to be found dead in an alley?  And what was the strange marking on Pinkney’s bicep?  And what does it mean?  These are just a few of the many questions that leave Ash searching for answers.

Ash discovers that Teshay had returned to the States with a mask he discovered while serving overseas.  Teshay had high hopes that the mask would bring him a lot of money.  The more answers that Ash finds the more danger he is placing himself in.

This is a complicated story that reveals itself little by little until the surprising conclusion.  It  leaves the reader waiting  for more about Ash Levine, his life, and the cases he investigates in a manner that is totally devoted to solving the puzzles presented to him.

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/305976151

http://www.bestsellersworld.com/2012/04/06/midnight-alley-by-miles-corwin-review-2/

http://www.mysteriesgalore.com/2012/04/07/midnight-alley-by-miles-corwin-review-2/

http://www.book-views.com/articles/1003/1/Midnight-Alley-by-Miles-Corwin/Page1.html

http://book-critique.com/articles/581/1/Midnight-Alley-by-Miles-Corwin/Page1.html

An interview with Betty Webb

Betty Webb is one of the most inspiring authors I know! She’s talented, creative, and definitely knows how to work hard at her craft. Thanks for taking time to talk with us, Betty!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Betty: Professionally, I’d have to say something like 30 years, because that’s when I began as an advertising copywriter. My more “legit” career as a journalist began around 25 years ago when I was hired as a columnist.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Betty: Oh, ha. I don’t feel successful yet. Maybe I will as soon as I win the Nobel Prize for Literature. But probably not even then.

PJ: I’m surprised how many authors I’ve talked to have similar answers. Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Betty: Since I’ve always known writers (failed or otherwise), I received exactly what I expected. Oh, I take that back. I didn’t expect to work so hard. My uncle, who was a long-distance trucker, never worked the long hours I do.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Betty: Someone once told me that once you take into account all the hours spent writing, AND the hours touring and otherwise marketing your book, the average writer would made more flipping burgers at McDonald’s. I’d say that’s just about right.

PJ: That’s a scary thought, but probably pretty accurate! Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Betty: I’m a perfectionist, which makes for an uncomfortable life. Therefore, I want each new book to be better than the last and half kill myself to make it so.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Betty: The first novel I sent out got published. However, it went through 17 drafts on a Smith-Corona portable typewriter. Like I say, I’m a perfectionist.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Betty: No.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Betty: I begin writing at 4 a.m. every morning, and finally push myself away from the computer around noon. After that, I do “normal” things, such as shopping, having lunch with friends, emailing Hubby, etc. Around 3 p.m., I start with the marketing stuff. And as you may know, I’m also a book reviewer for Mystery Scene Magazine, so from 9 p.m. to midnight, I read the books I’m going to review. And no, I don’t get enough sleep. I’ll pay for that some day.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

 

Betty: First, I’m going to answer the “funniest thing,” okay? Yesterday I received a female fan email from Australia. She had just finished “The Koala of Death,” one of my cozies, and she wrote the entire email in the same impenetrable Aussie slang that one of my characters used. It was a riot. As for the “single most exciting thing,” it was being on a cruise ship near Alaska and reading in the New York Times that polygamist “prophet” Warren Jeffs (who I wrote about in “Desert Wives”) had just been arrested: it was my birthday. Nothing can ever top that.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Betty: Receiving a starred review in Publishers Weekly for “Desert Wind”, then having some of the other biggies hate it.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Betty: Finding out first hand that David Morrell is one of my fans — and that Dean Koonz bought an autographed copy of one of my books.

PJ: Wow, that is so cool! With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Betty: It’s probably the fact that I base each of my Lena Jones “Desert” books on real and ongoing human rights violations in America. And in the Author’s Note at the back of each books, I name names and share my research.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Betty: Don’t give into feelings of defeat just because you haven’t been published yet. Continue to write at least two hours every single day (ideally, you should write between four and six hours every day). Keep doing that and you’ll eventually turn out a book good enough to be published.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Betty: Touring, my fan email list (it’s up to 6,000 now), and as many social media groups as I can belong to — especially DorothyL, Murder Must Advertise, Facebook, and Twitter.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Betty: Touring. I hate it. I am NOT a good traveler!

Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd
Scottsdale AZ 85251
480-947-2974

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

Betty: Absolutely. My “local independent bookseller” just happens to be Poisoned Pen, which — miracle of miracles — is within walking distance of my house. Talk about luck! All my books debut there.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

THE LENA JONES BOOKS:

1 – Desert Noir.

2 – Desert Wives.

3 – Desert Shadows.

4 – Desert Run.

5 – Desert Cut.

6 – Desert Lost.

7 – Desert Wind.

Technically, there are 8 Lena Jones books, because I also have one Lena Jones novella — “Desert Deceit” — which was included in the “Desperate Journeys” anthology published by Worldwide Library. Although technically out of print, It can be purchased online.

THE GUNN ZOO BOOKS:

1 – The Anteater of Death.

2 – The Koala of Death.

3 – currently writing The Llama of Death.

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Betty: In “Desert Wind,” P.I. Lena Jones travels to northern Arizona to bail her Indian partner out of jail, but instead she finds herself in the middle of a town up in arms over the opening of a uranium mine near the Grand Canyon. When the mine’s PR flack is murdered, she discovers that the motive reaches back more than 60 years, to the local filming of “The Conqueror,” which starred John Wayne. And Wayne himself is a character in “Desert Wind,” first as a living man, then later, as a ghost. In “Desert Wind,” old sins have contemporary repercussions.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Betty: Anywhere print books are sold. Desert Wind is also available on Kindle & Nook, and other forms of download.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Betty: That I’m not Lena Jones. It’s important to say that, because at one of my recent signings, a woman came up to me and brushed away my bangs, looking for the bullet scar. I repeat — I am NOT Lena Jones and I have never been shot. (I am, however, a lot like Teddy, my zookeeper/sleuth in the Gunn Zoo mysteries, and I once even lived on the same boat she does).

Wow again. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m thoroughly enjoying these author interviews. Speak up! Do you have any comments or questions for Betty?

An interview with Hallie Ephron

Gordon, Hallie Ephron, Mary Higgins Clark, and Hank Phillippi Ryan – taken at the reception announcing the winner of the 2011 Mary Higgins Clark Award.

Hallie is an author I discovered not too long ago. I love that she’s a suspense writer, and good at it. Her books don’t just give you a mystery to solve, they provoke feelings along the way, just like the movie she mentions below:

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Hallie: Fiction? For about fifteen years.  I started to get serious when my kids moved out and I finally had that proverbial “room of one’s own.”

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Hallie: A famous writer once told me that being a writer is like flying — there’s always someone in a class ahead of you. So I try to grab every milestone and embrace it as “success,” drink a toast, and savor the moment. From sitting down that first day to write, to finishing my first manuscript, to getting an agent, to holding my first published book, to finishing my 12th book (three weeks ago)… Celebrate! I recommend it.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Hallie: When we I sold “Never Tell a Lie” to the Lifetime Movie Network, my daughter asked me if we were rich yet. I told her no — it was a car, not a house.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Hallie: It’s too darned hard and takes too darned long to write a book, so I’m always writing about themes and characters that I really really care about.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

 

Hallie: Two years to get the manuscript ready to send to agents; two MORE years to find an agent and publisher, revising endlessly along the way; another year to see it in print. Five in all.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Hallie: Deadlines help. I keep a spreadsheet with word count plotted against a calendar, and ever few weeks I update it to see if I have to pour on the gas or if I can afford to ease up a bit.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

 

Hallie: The response to “Never Tell a Lie” was a fantastic ride. Lots of foreign sales and a sale to the Lifetime Movie Network (they made “And Baby Will Fall”). Then, to ice the cake, it was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

 

Hallie: You’ll need dogged determination and intestinal fortitude to stick with it, through first draft and endless revisions, until your words are polished to lapidary perfection. It wouldn’t hurt, either, to have the hide of a rhinoceros to withstand the inevitable rejections. Talent being equal, what separates many a published mystery writer from an unpublished one is sheer stamina and blind luck. Only gluttons for punishment need apply.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

 

Hallie: I combine teaching with writing. I love going to groups and conferences and teaching ABOUT writing, meeting writers, helping other writers get a leg up — and along the way getting my name out there and building readership.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

 

Hallie: Writing the dreaded synopsis. AKA book pitch. Feels like it takes out all the complexity and nuance and leaves behind raw sales pitch. Worst thing is, it’s so hard.

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

 

Hallie: You would ask…

Reformed hacker Diana Highsmith is a recluse who works and lives online. She has not ventured beyond her home for over a year – not since that fateful climbing vacation took Daniel’s life.But when her’s sister disappears, Diana is forced to do what seems impossible: brave the outside world. By assuming the identity of her alter-ego, an avatar who is as fearless as Diana herself once was, she finds the courage to set out.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

Hallie: Just about anywhere. Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, and independent bookstores. The paperback edition came out in March 2012.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Hallie: Come and Find Me (Wm. Morrow, March, 2011)
Never Tell a Lie (Wm. Morrow, 2009)
The Bibliophile’s Devotional (Adams Media, 2010)
1001 Books for Every Mood (Adams Media, 2008)
Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock ‘Em Dead with Style (Writers Digest Books, 2005

And the Dr. Peter Zak mystery series by G. H. Ephron written with co-author Donald Davidoff
Guilt (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2005)
Obsessed (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2003)
Delusion (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2002)
Addiction (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2001)
Amnesia (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000)

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

 

Hallie: I’m suspense writer, and I’m always going for what I call the “lightbulb in the glass of milk” moment. Think of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion. The Joan Fontaine character believes that her charming, wastrel husband, played by Cary Grant, is an embezzler and a murderer. As Grant mounts the stairs, the camera zooms in on what he’s carrying: a tray with his wife’s nightly glass of warm milk. That milk seems to glow, and we’re wondering: Is it poison?

Hitchcock placed a light bulb in that glass to give it an eerie glow, and I’m always trying to do the literary equivalent, building dramatic tension by making the ordinary seem menacing.

Don’t you just love talking with some of our favorite authors? What would you ask Hallie if she were here?