30I once heard an author say she’d contracted for three series at the same time and didn’t recommend it to those who want to keep their sanity. Being a slow learner, I went right out and did that, adding the Dead Detective and Loser Mysteries to my existing series with Five Star, the Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries. My excuse for series-jumping is that it keeps me interested. While I love reading Sue Grafton’s work, I can’t imagine writing an alphabet of books with the same protagonist.
Writing three series was hard—actually, it still is. I have a Dead Detective and a Simon & Elizabeth yet to write, and while fans are polite about it, their questions hint that they wonder what I do all day that keeps me from getting that next book done. I eat, I sleep, I walk in the woods–and I write. There’s one thing that slows my production of Peg Herring mysteries. In a moment of insanity, I invented Maggie Pill.
Peg’s books are traditional mysteries with touches of humor. The series are different from each other: one’s historical, one’s paranormal, and one presents a homeless woman as protagonist. A while ago, an idea came along for The Sleuth Sisters, a light mystery that fits into the cozy mystery category. Two middle-aged sisters open a detective agency, but they don’t want their bossy third sister involved. She doesn’t get why, so she insists on helping out. Everyone with sisters can relate, at least a little, to the resulting humor.
When a really good idea comes along, it’s hard to keep it on the back burner, so I wrote The Sleuth Sisters. It was a huge hit, so I wrote another one and did a Bookbub promotion, giving away Book #1 just before Book #2 debuted. Downloads ran over 60,000, and sales of Book #2 responded well afterward. When I had Book #3 ready, I did the same, giving away Book #2. That also went well, and the series is one of my most lucrative.
That’s great, except now I have two authors to promote. That means two websites, two FB pages, two Twitter handles, two of everything. At the beginning I kept Maggie and Peg entirely separate, since I didn’t want Peg, who has good reviews and even some awards, to be embarrassed if Maggie’s attempts at humor fizzled. When it turned out Maggie is in the popular authors’ group, I decided we can be seen together in public.
Still, promoting two “selves” is a lot of work. Amazon doesn’t seem to have a good way for anyone except James Patterson to show up in searches, so it’s work to let people know about each book, each series, and now each author. Facebook provides good opportunities, because friends tell friends about books they like. The site’s gone from a young demographic to a not-so-young one these days, which means there are lots of readers there who can identify with the Sleuth Sisters. Many FB groups have cozy in their titles, so it’s easy to find them, and most hosts are accommodating of self-promotion as long as it isn’t overdone.
There aren’t as many FB groups devoted to traditional mystery, perhaps because that’s a wider field. Peg does better at Goodreads, with giveaways and blogging about writing. Both of us use Twitter, but neither of us is very good at it, possibly it due to its impersonal feel.
Fans suggested I make the Sleuth Sisters into audiobooks, and that worked out well, except it’s difficult to find places to promote audiobooks. I’ve used http://audavoxx.com, where authors give one of their free codes from Audible (and a small fee) to be featured in a weekly giveaway. Also, Mystery Audiobook Lovers on FB is a site for audiobook news, helping people learn what’s new in audio.
All that helps, but there are days when I feel like being two people requires the work of six: blogging, updating, signing, speaking, answering, not to mention writing. Maybe I should have gone the Lee Child route. Then all I’d have to do is say “HERE’S ANOTHER JACK REACHER” and I’d be done.
This morning someone asked when Maggie’s fourth book will be out. The answer? Sometime after Peg finishes the last Dead Detective Mystery. To everything there is a season.