Improving Marketing Strategies

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as an author is that marketing is as much of a marathon (if not longer) as is the process of coming up with an idea for a book, then writing and rewriting until it’s finally ready for publication.

Authors with marketing backgrounds excel at implementing strategies for reaching potential readers, but for the rest of us it’s a hit-and-miss process to figure out what works best. Also, in this rapidly changing world, what worked well five years ago doesn’t work nearly as well today.

I’ve been reading recommended books on the topic of ebook marketing, and found a great resource in author David Gaughran. I just finished taking his free course (I don’t know how much longer it will be free) called Starting From Zero, which you can find HERE. I’ve also read his book Let’s Get Digital. The book is an introduction to publishing, but the latter sections on marketing were so useful that I’m currently reworking my Amazon book descriptions, finding better keywords, and changing the price for upcoming promotions.

Gaughran stresses the importance of developing a website, having a Facebook page, and getting an email list going. I’ve being doing the first two for some time, but I’ve always balked at the idea of maintaining an email list, which is a huge mistake in Gaughran’s view.

Part of my reasoning was that I didn’t want to bother people with announcements to buy my book, every time I released a new one (Gaughran also used to think this way), but the other reason is that I already make announcements on my blog and other social media outlets, so wouldn’t I be repeating myself?

I’m curious if any of you use an email list in addition to your blog. As part of my book updates, I’m adding a link to my blog on my end pages (I probably should have done this from the start) inviting people to join if they’d like to learn more about my writing life and to receive upcoming announcements.

It seems like there’s always something to tweak and improve upon, but as Gaughran also notes, the most important part of your day should still be writing. I couldn’t agree more.

Welcome Guest Author, A.J. Devlin

This week, I’m delighted to host Canadian mystery author, A.J. Devlin. A.J.’s second mystery, Rolling Thunder, will be released by NeWest Press on May 15th. You’re going to love this book, but here’s A.J. tell you why:

Rolling Thunder“Why roller derby?”

That’s the first question I’m asked when I tell people about Rolling Thunder, the sequel to my debut mystery-comedy novel Cobra Clutch.

The follow up to ex-professional wrestler turned private investigator “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead’s first case definitely stands apart – but there are also significant similarities between both books.

In Cobra Clutch “Hammerhead” Jed reluctantly re-enters the world of independent pro wrestling after his friend and former tag-team partner has his precious pet python and ringside gimmick kidnapped and held for ransom. Indy wrestling seemed like the perfect backdrop to introduce a first-time sleuth whose intimate knowledge of the wrestling biz actually gives him a leg up on the police from time-to-time, and that advantage plays a key role in Jed’s investigation.

Cobra Clutch audiobook coverRolling Thunder picks up just under a year after the events of the first book, and the connective tissue between the two stories is that a lady wrestler Jed encountered during his search for the missing snake has since left the squared circle and joined the hard-hitting, badass, anti-establishment world of women’s flat track roller derby. When the team’s coach goes missing before playoffs and the derby girls decide to hire a PI, Jed’s old acquaintance tells them she knows just the guy for the job.

Both independent wrestling and roller derby might be considered fringe sports by some, but to the grapplers, skaters, and fans nothing could be further from the truth. Both subcultures are rich with intense passion, incredible athleticism, and an absolute love and devotion to their respective, counterculture crafts.

So while “Hammerhead” Jed encounters some familiarities as he delves into the derby world, it was also fun to have him navigate unfamiliar terrain, which in many ways, makes his sophomore sleuthing adventure his most challenging – and dangerous – case yet.

*** Thank you to Debra Purdy Kong for giving me the opportunity to promote Rolling Thunder on her Mystery Deb crime fiction blog. 

You’re very welcome, A.J. Your type of book is exactly what readers need right now. Here’s a little more info about A.J. and his books: 

AJ Devlin author pic final image copyA.J. Devlin grew up in Greater Vancouver before moving to Southern California for six years where he earned a B.F.A. in Screenwriting from Chapman University and a M.F.A. in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute. COBRA CLUTCH, the first entry in the “Hammerhead” Jed ex-pro wrestler turned PI mystery-comedy series, was nominated for a 2019 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Award for Best Debut Mystery and won the 2019 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel. For more information on A.J. and his books, please visit ajdevlin.com.

ROLLING THUNDER will be released by NeWest Press on May 15th and will be available in both print and e-reader formats on Amazon, Indigo, Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Nook Books, other online retailers, as well as local Greater Vancouver independent bookstores Massy Books, Macleod’s Books, The Paper Hound, and Pulp Fiction — who all offer deliveries and curb side drop-off.

As of April 21st the audiobook for COBRA CLUTCH can be found at the following locations: Audible, Kobo, Google, Findaway, Bibliotecha, Hibooks, Scribd, Playster, Downpour, ABC (not connected to the TV channel), Libro FM, Recorded Audio, Hoopla, OverDrive, and Storytel.

ROLLING THUNDER LINKS:

https://www.amazon.ca/Rolling-Thunder-J-Devlin/dp/1988732867

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/rolling-thunder/9781988732862-item.html?ikwid=rolling+thunder&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=5d973bf158e99be062e1cc3beac6a52c

COBRA CLUTCH AUDIOBOOK LINK

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/audiobook/cobra-clutch-1

https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/A_J_Devlin_Cobra_Clutch?id=AQAAAEDsYEAgvM&hl=en

 

Book Launch Coming Up!

The Blade Man, front coverThis is the busiest January I’ve experienced in a while, (which is why I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks) but in a good way. I don’t know about you, but in my area there are more events and activities than normal this January…author readings, book launches, and festivals. It’s as if the world can’t wait to get this new decade started.

I’m still tallying sales results from my BookBub promo event on Dec. 31, and won’t know the complete January sales numbers for a while. The Draft2Digital distributor doesn’t report January sales until late February. Amazon is much faster, and I can tell you that The Opposite of Dark actually became #1 on Kindle ebook sales that night. Two or three days later it was still up there at #10, something I never expected. Nor did I expect the book reviews to jump from 7 to about 70 so far.

I don’t publish a book that often, and even though I keep a checklist, it’s still daunting to complete all the necessary tasks. First off, I’ve been formatting ebook versions of The Blade Man so they’ll be ready for the February 12th  launch. I’ve also been consulting with the printer who’s preparing the trade paperback version.

My BookBub profile, website and author page on Amazon’s Author Central have been updated. I also spent time playing around on Canva to design banners for the website and the Facebook evite.

For those who live in BC’s Lower Mainland and don’t pay much attention to Facebook, the event is at Western Sky Books, #2132-2850 Shaughnessy Street, Port Coquitlam (located in the Shaughnessy Mall) from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Tamara at Western Sky Books is a huge supporter of authors and artists and hosts many events there, for which I and other authors are very grateful.

By the way The Blade Man is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheBladeMan

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-blade-man

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495092401

UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LDre1

I still need to prepare a Goodreads giveaway and come up something interesting to say at the launch. Then there’s the food and drinks list to compile and purchase. It never ends, does it, but right now, I don’t want it to.

Should I Use a Pen Name?

Pen and NotepadThose who’ve been following my blog a while know that I’ve been writing and editing my first urban fantasy for some time. It’s getting closer to completion, but while there’s still work to be done, I’ve started pondering about whether I should adopt a pen name.

The thing is, I’ve been writing and publishing mysteries for years. This blog is called Mystery Deb and my amateur sleuth transit mysteries are pretty much my brand. But I’ve been stretching my wings and am excited about this new creative part of my life. So the question is, do I keep my name or should I adopt a pen name for the fantasy novels?

I’ve read a few blogs over the past couple of years about the pros and cons of using a pen name when publishing in different genres. I don’t remember the details in those blogs, but I do remember some points, and both sides presented good arguments.

One of the main reasons for keeping one’s name is that the author’s platform is already there. If readers like the author’s writing style, then they might be more inclined to try the author’s work in a different genre.

The downside of this is that new readers who don’t know the author could become confused as to what it is they write exactly. They might come across one title in the mystery series, but see another title in the fantasy genre. Does this really confuse readers, though?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have any of you used pen names? If so, what are the pros and cons? As readers, do you find it challenging to follow an author if that person is using different names?

If I go ahead and choose a pen name, should I be setting up a separate platform on my blog Twitter account and Facebook page, or should I keep it all together? Decisions, decisions…

New Year, New Start

Happy New Year 2019 To Reach Design New Year 2018Happy New Year! How’s your year going so far? Those who’ve followed my blog for a while know that I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do have ongoing writing goals and household projects that manage to get done, more or less.

I’m reluctant to project the completion of any writing projects in 2019, due to my mother’s serious health issues, but I am turning a new page and trying to focus on all the positive things coming up in 2019.

My daughter’s wedding in September will be one. A vacation in Mexico in a few days is another, and then there will be the completion of my daughter and son-in-law’s newly built house. Can’t wait for all of that!

I’ll write every day this year, as I have in previous years, and monitor my mom’s situation and that of my nineteen-and-a-half-year-old cat, who appears to be in his final year as well.

Needless to say, 2019 will be full of ups and downs and I’m mentally preparing as best I can. These past 2-1/2 months of day-job leave have been extremely helpful to tend to family needs and responsibilities. I have one month left before returning to the daily grind. We’ll see how it goes. No matter what, I’ll learn a lot this year, try to do what I can for others, and hopefully a year from now won’t have too many regrets.

I wish all of you a happy, peaceful, prosperous, and creative new year. We’ll do our best, right? What more can we ask of ourselves.

Compartmentalizing My Life

mujerdetective-841x1024[1]I have a part-time secretarial job at a university. I’ve worked in a couple of different departments over the past five years, yet only a handful of colleagues from each department know that I’m a mystery writer who spends her free time plotting crimes and coming up with intriguing ways to kill people. You can see why I don’t advertise this fact, right?

Marketing-savvy folks will likely be aghast at my reluctance to discuss my books, and tell me that I’m throwing away plenty of selling opportunities. But the truth is I simply don’t feel that comfortable talking about writing while I’m being paid to do other things. And when you only work four hours a day, you don’t get lunch breaks to sit and chat.

 

Occasionally, on quiet days, someone will ask me a few questions, and I’ll answer them, but I don’t encourage these types of conversations. This week, a colleague asked to purchase a couple of books for birthday presents. While I certainly obliged, I handed the books discreetly to her while no one else was around.

Everybody has a private life and personal challenges, or hobbies…important parts of their lives that they don’t spend much time, if any, yakking about at the office. It seems only natural to compartmentalize our lives. There’s a time and place for each of those boxes to be opened and explored. I’ve learned to pick and choose my times wisely.

Meet Guest Author, Alison Bruce

2013-Bruce-BW-200I’m delighted to host author Alison Bruce today. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Alison when I was on the Crime Writers of Canada Board a few years back. Alison writes history, mystery and suspense. Her books combine “clever mysteries, well-researched backgrounds and a touch of romance.” Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, sense of humor and the ability to adapt to new situations. Four of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.

Check out this fascinating piece on Ghost Stories:

When I was six years old, I woke to find my grandmother standing at the bottom of my bed. She wore her habitual expression of worry blended with faint disapproval. Her eyes narrowed and I waited to find out what I had done this time to annoy her. Then she nodded and disappeared.

In the morning, my mother came to tell me that Grandma Allard had died. She had a heart attack in the evening and my father had been called to the hospital shortly after my bedtime. I could stay off school if I wanted, which of course I did. It wasn’t that I was shocked or particularly grieved to learn my grandmother was dead, but a day off school was not something you turned down. I wasn’t even worried that I had apparently seen a ghost.

This is the opening of Ghost Writer. Except for changing the name Bruce to Allard, it is autobiographical. Although I haven’t seen nearly as many ghosts as my character Jen Kirby, this story was inspired by the ghosts I have experienced.

I’m willing to accept that I was dreaming that night. If that’s the case, my dream was prophetic because, in the case of Grandma Bruce, her death came as a shock to everyone else. She had a sudden heart attack. I didn’t know anything about it until after the fact. I didn’t even know my parents had left the house. No doubt my Nana Nash was asked to watch us while they were gone. But I slept through it.

I used to have horrible nightmares when I was a child. None of them were about ghosts. The idea of ghosts has never been particularly scary for me. That may be the reason I underestimated how much I could scare other kids with ghosts stories. There’s another bit in Ghost Writer where Jen talks about getting into trouble because of her stories. That is also autobiographical.

Did I sense my friend Allan at his funeral? Did my mother-in-law, who died before I met her son, really check me out to make sure I was taking good care of her only child? Maybe it was all in my head. As Dumbledore said, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

In any case, it’s all grist for the mill.

She has to deal with two kinds of spooks: spies and ghosts.But which one is trying to kill her?

Jen Kirby has seen ghosts since she was a teen, but she can’t talk to them or help them cross over. And, after a violent death in the family, she doesn’t want to see them anymore.

In her role as ghostwriter, Jen joins a Canadian Arctic expedition to document and help solve a forty-year-old mystery involving an American submarine station lost during the Cold War. The trouble is, there are people—living and dead—who don’t want the story told, and they’ll do anything to stop her.

Now Jen is haunted by ghosts she can’t avoid or handle alone. That means confiding in the one man she doesn’t want to dismiss her as “crazy.” But can he help? Or is he part of the problem?

Bruce-GhostWriter-400Buy Link for Ghost Writer: http://getbook.at/GhostWriterAB

ADVANCE REVIEWS

A compelling mystery with a unique setting and skillfully handled supernatural twist.

Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times Bestselling  Author

A maritime mystery full of twists and turns, heart-pounding suspense, and ghosts!

Ghost Writer plunges you into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean with breath-stealing twists and turns, maritime adventures, page-turning suspense … and ghosts. A great read!

Ann Charles, USA Today Bestselling Author of the Deadwood Mystery Series

Alison Bruce weaves a masterful mystery set in the Arctic that will have you reaching for a hot cup of coffee and a blanket as you feel the cold water splash up off the pages and into your face. With equal parts of paranormal and practicality, Ghost Writer will keep you up all night as you work your way through this addictive page-turner.

Sheryl Nantus, award winning author of HARD RUN

GHOST WRITER is a must-read for fans of Barbara Michaels, AKA Elizabeth Peters. In GHOST WRITER, Alison Bruce provides it all—sly humour, a feisty yet vulnerable heroine, hunky romantic interests, believable characters, a carefully researched and unusual setting, and page-turning suspense.

Janet Bolin, author of the Threadville Mysteries

Links

Website: www.alisonbruce.ca

Blog: alisonebruce.blogspot.ca

Twitter: @alisonebruce

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/alisonbruce

 Professional Affiliations

Crime Writers of Canada – www.crimewriterscanada.com