I’ve known L.C. Hayden for more years than I dare say, and I truly enjoy both her person and her work! I hope you do too…
PJ: How long have you been writing?
L.C.: I’m afraid to answer this one, because you’re going to find out that I’m … well, old. Seriously, I was one of those kids who wrote all the time. Others would turn in compositions a few sentences long. Mine were pages long! Professionally speaking, got my first novel published in 1998, but before that, I freelanced for magazines and newspapers.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
L.C.: Every minor step I take pushes me forward, but I still wonder if I’ve reached the successful writer status. Some of those steps include the first time an editor sent me a contract with an advance, my first royalty check, when I won in a contest, the main one being Agatha Award Finalist for Best Novel of the Year for Why Casey Had to Die, when I made the Barnes and Noble Top 10 Best Seller List—and gosh so many more.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out?
L.C.: Not at all. I thought I was supposed to write.
PJ: If not, how is it different?
L.C.: A writer must also be a full time sales person and promote his/her books. How many books you sell is the bottom line for a publisher—not the quality of the work.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
L.C.: I am indeed wealthy. Wealthy because I’ve met so many readers who have become true, good friends. The value of these friendships: priceless.
Monetarily, since the advent of e-books, my writing income has more than tripled per month. But then, I also spend a lot on promotion bringing me back to the poor house. Oh sigh!
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
L.C.: My focus is on producing a really good book. My early works are good or okay, as you see fit, but my latest ones show that each book is an education to me and the books get better and better.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
L.C.: Sit down for this answer, my dear friends: 10 years. Nope, that’s not a typo. Ten years!!
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
L.C.: Wish I knew then what I know now. I’d spent more time developing characters, setting up the work, and creating an atmosphere.
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?
L.C.: I’m super lucky. I retired and became a full time author. But even with that, time just gets away. But now I’ve learned discipline. Set time limits I spend on the Internet, time limits for the time I spend promoting. Then write, write everyday and always read.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
L.C.: One of the most memorable things is doing “working” cruises. Major cruise lines invite me to be their Author in Residence. I’m allowed to bring a guest (for free and that’s always my husband.) We cruise around the world, and during the days at sea, I give a one-hour max presentation on writing and/or my books. The ship’s store carry my books that travelers can buy and I have some available after my presentations. Last day of the cruise, I pick up the check and that’s my job. I just returned from a Princess Cruise sailing to the Panama Canal.
PJ: That sounds fabulous! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
L.C.: Since I’m published by small, independent publishers, my books are not automatically sold in all stores. Even the paperback editions of my books that Harlequin publishes—and they’re a huge publishing firm—are not on the stores shelves. Sigh.
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
L.C.: One day the principal called me over the intercom and told me he wanted to see me during my prep period. That was 6th period, I remember so well. I was a good little teacher, so I didn’t worry. When I walked into his office, instead of the principal being there, there was a man dressed in a suit, tie, vest. He reached behind him and locked the door. Okay, what do I do now? He reached for his back pocket and showed me his badge. “I’m Detective So-and-So from the police department.”
My first thought was oh no, one of my students must have really done something bad.
He asked me to sit down. I did and once again he reached into his back pocket, took out a card, and said, “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney present. . . and he continued to read me my rights.
What’s going on? I thought. I don’t even speed! He shoved a piece of paper between us. “This is what it’s all about,” he said. I looked at the paper and nodded. My first book Who’s Susan? had just been published and I had been talking to my editor. He said, “Now, L. C., if you want people to buy your book, you’ll have to come up with a brilliant campaign. If they go to the bookstore and say they want to buy. . .and they forget the name of the book, you’ve lost that sale.”
So I thought and thought and came up with a brilliant campaign. I would send out three different mailings to a select group. The first would have no return address and the paper inside the envelope would simply say, Do you know who Susan is?
I knew that as soon as people received this first promotional piece, they would be wondering, what’s all this about? Who is Susan? They’d start talking and word would spread.
Two weeks later the same people would get the second mailing. Again, there would be no return address and this time the paper would read: Did you find out who Susan is? Check your mailbox for a future answer.
Again, tongues would wag. Word would spread.
Two weeks later, the same people would receive the final advertising and this time the envelope would have a return address and the paper inside would explain that Who’s Susan? was my first novel and I was inviting them to the Barnes and Noble signing I was going to have. That was how it was supposed to work out.
This is how it actually turned out: after people received the first mailings, they called the police because someone was sending them an antiabortion campaign through the mail. How they got that out of the flyer, I have no idea. Naturally, the police ignored it because they have more important things to pursue. But the callers insisted that the police do something about it.
My problem is that I’m basically a lazy person. The post office was two blocks away from the high school where I taught. But did I choose to go to the post office? Nope. I mailed the letters from the school’s mailbox. That made it a federal offense. They had to call the FBI.
Now the FBI knew it couldn’t be an antiabortion campaign. They knew it was much more. It was a new drug, called Susan. So they brought in an undercover agent to ask the students about the new drug. The students simply shrugged and asked, “What new drug?”
When that didn’t work out, they knew they had made a mistake. It wasn’t a drug at all, but a gun movement, code name Susan. Again, they brought in another undercover agent to come investigate. Again, the students shrugged and asked “What gun movement?”
“So who’s Susan? the frustrated agent asked.
“That’s Mrs. Hayden’s new mystery novel,” one of my students answered.
In the meantime, I was in the principal’s office, having my Miranda Rights read.
Sometime, it doesn’t pay to advertise!
PJ: Oh no! That is unbelievable! I wonder how fast your heart was beating that day?? With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
L.C.: The fact that I give everyone a $100 bill when they buy my book! That would be cool, eh? Actually, what people find appealing about my detective in the continuing series is that Harry Bronson isn’t a drunk, loves his wife and his daughters, has a stable life filled with good friends. If you haven’t met Bronson yet, you’ve got to. Guaranteed: you’ll love him.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
L.C.: Whatever you do, don’t give up. This is a hard business but believe in your books, because if you don’t, nobody will.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
L.C.: Doing the “working” cruises. I meet people from all over the world and they help to pass on the word. Also, any time I have a speaking engagement, I tend to sell lots of books.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
L.C.: The part where I say, “Buy my book, please.”
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
L.C.: I live in El Paso, TX., and there’s no independent booksellers here. We only have two Barnes and Nobles and that’s it. So sad!
Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
From most recent to oldest:
When Death Intervenes
Why Casey Had to Die
What Others Know
Where Secrets Lie
When Colette Died
Inspirational books about miracles and angels: Angels Around Us
When Angels Touch You
Bell Shaped Flowers (fiction, young adult)
Horror: The Drums of Geruld Hurd
Writing: Breaking and Entering (editor, published by Sisters in Crime)
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Retired police detective Harry Bronson is forced to face a painful, secret past when his estranged sister begs him to help her. What he learns about her life over the past decades leads him on a serpentine path in unfamiliar territory. This mystery will keep the reader guessing until the very end as Bronson follows the trail of his lost sister through the corrupt underbelly of the rich and powerful
Where can we buy it?
Best place is at Amazon or directly through me.
What last thing would you like to share with us?
Befriend me on Facebook at Lc Hayden and check out my website at http://lchayden.com Thanks for your time! Now, go read!
Wow, she’s had an interesting time with her book promotion efforts, hasn’t she? Kudos to you L.C. and thanks for sharing! Now, like she says, “Go read!” But I’ll add a little – Go read a book by L.C. Hayden!