Welcome Wednesday guests for September:
9/03 Beach-Read novelist, Mary Hogan (Two Sisters);
9/10 Fast-track Guppy Annette Dashofy (Lost Legacy);
9/17 Florida Coast author, Terrie Farley Moran (Well Read, Then Dead);
9/24 Cozy Confection author, Kathy Aarons (Death Is Like A Box Of Chocolates).


Gloria Alden's latest publication is nonfiction. Boys Will Be Boys: The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys. Edited by Cher'ley Grogg was recently released and available on Amazon. Gloria wrote three essays and two poems in her chapter included in the book.


Don't miss next month's release of Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays on October 7th, in which WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances") have short stories.


KM Rockwood's short stories will appear in two anthologies released in October. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology release by Intrigue Publishing. at their conference in October.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ann Charles Interview-Part 2

Ann Charles writes romantic mysteries with a strong dose of humor. She is the 2010 winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and she has been a Golden Heart and Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest finalist. When she is not dabbling in fiction, she is penning writing-related articles or standing on her workshop soapbox, sharing what she has learned over the years about the craft and self-promotion. Stay tuned for Ann Charles’ and her partner, Jacquie Rogers’, upcoming, non-fiction book available in early 2011 about the secret of building an effective fiction writer’s platform.

Visit her at Ann Charles, or read her weekly antics at Plot Mamas. You can also find her on Facebook under Ann.Charles.Author. In addition, Ann is co-owner of the 1st Turning Point website where they and over two dozen other authors, reviewers, and PR consultants have joined together to teach and share (and learn from each other) all sorts of great information about promotion for both unpublished and published authors. Here’s a link to my first interview with Ann.

EBD: Does your manuscript, NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD, for which you won the 2010 Daphne, have the romance required happily-ever-after ending? Or are you leaving it open in case a series develops?

ANN: Without giving the ending away, I can tell you that Nearly Departed in Deadwood satisfies my romance readers enough to earn me two thumbs up; however, I weave the ending in such a way that these same readers are hungry for the next book to see how the romance continues to develop, because things are not exactly smooth. I knew when I wrote this book that it was going to be a series, so the relationship/romance arc has to develop over the series of books, not just in one book. I’m having a lot of fun with this romance arc, and my first draft romance readers who have just finished reading the second book in this Deadwood series are yelling at me and threatening bodily harm if I don’t hurry up and write book three ASAP.

EBD: Will you promote the romance element or the mystery element of NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD? What are factors in your decision?

ANN: Years ago when I did pitch to my agent and send her the partial of a previous book that was a mix of mystery and romance, I promoted the mystery element more than the romance element because at that time in the publishing world, genre-mixing wasn't as common. I'd been rejected by multiple romance-acquiring agents who liked my writing, but felt that due to the mystery element, there was not enough romance (that book is 50-50 with half-mystery, half-romance).

I decided to remove the idea of a "romance" from my agent's mind and have her read it with the mystery expectation. My agent loved the story and offered representation. That book has not found a publishing home yet, and it being a mixed-genre story has been part of the problem with getting it sold. However, my agent loves my voice and when I sent her NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD, which is also mixed-genre, she called me laughing and yelled, “You’re brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!” (You can see why I love her so—ha!) She is positive we can build my career from this story, one way or another.

EBD: Do you know if there are agents that specialize in cross-genre novels?

ANN: I don’t know if there are agents who specialize in it. I’ve been with my agent for almost five years now, so I haven’t been paying attention to that part of the publishing world. I know of some agents who have cross-genre (or “mixed-genre” to some) clients. I feel like cross-genre is still coming into its own. We’re at the front of the wave as it builds right now. Based off my readers’ opinions (and I’m not talking about anyone related to me by blood who is nice to me because of family obligations and all), they love reading stories with romance and mystery and paranormal all mixed together. If readers drive the market, we should someday start seeing a greater need for such mixed-genre novels with both agents and editors. But I haven’t consulted any psychics on this, so it is all theory and speculation (ha).

EBD: Has an agent or publishing house asked for your manuscript yet?

ANN: The agent who judged my manuscript in the final round asked to read the full. The editor did not. Other than that, no other agents or editors have expressed interest in reading it to my knowledge. However, a lot of other authors, friends, distant family members, and some strangers have asked to read the manuscript, which is a huge bonus for me in the win. One of my yearly goals in 2010 was to figure out how to start building a fan base while not having a book in print. My mailing list database has had a lot of additions thanks to winning the Daphne.

EBD: Do you think winning the Daphne will help promote your book?

ANN: Yes! I know this for a fact because I’ve already been using it to help promote my book and build my name recognition.

For example, you know all of those people who are interested in reading my book now? Well, you can bet, I’m going to let them. What??? Isn’t that crazy, sharing my story before it’s published? Isn’t it foolish to let people read it for free? Some authors and agents and editors will shake their heads and tell me it's crazy. Maybe it is. Nobody has ever accused me of being rational and sane. But in today’s publishing climate, all bets are off.

A little history on Nearly Departed in Deadwood—it’s been considered in acquisitions more than once, only to be shot down for various reasons. Mainly, the problem seems to be marketability. I’m a “new” author who has written a mixed-genre book set in a small town in the middle of the United States. I totally missed the “amnesia, cowboy, secret baby” angle...although I do have an old cowboy in it, but he’s not very sexy.

Due to the marketability hurdles perceived by some of the bigger publishers, I have to take matters into my own hands. I have to stir up my own book buzz. I have to build my own name recognition. How does a new author do that without a published book in hand? Give something for free with the hopes that the reader will like my book and appreciate my generosity enough to help me out a little by talking it up to her/his friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Is this working? You betcha! I have some readers so excited to see me get the story published that they are willing to help me promote it for free, giving copious amounts of their valuable time to help spread the word. It’s incredible, really. Every day, I’m humbled by how many people are stepping up and doing things to promote my book. My acknowledgement page will be novella-length by the time this book hits the market.

EBD: Do you think winning the Daphne will add promotion dollars from a publishing house, and increase your advance?

ANN: I don’t know if winning the Daphne would add promo dollars from a publisher (if it were contracted) or increase my advance. I would expect that it would not, because my book winning the Daphne does not make it a bestseller. What would make my book a bestseller is a strong effort to promote it.

I’ll check back with Ann Charles in a few months because her winning manuscript NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD will surely be picked up by a publishing house soon. Thanks for the interviews, Ann.

10 comments:

Polly said...

I got to know Ann personally, and I have no doubt she'll make it. A publisher would be nuts not to pick her up. I do agree about cross-genre books. It's frustrating when agents and publishers say they want something different, but they don't have the foresight to look beyond the status quo until someone breaks the barrier. Then it's okay to mix genres, and everyone wants what they didn't want before. Imagination is not rampant in the publishing industry. Go, Ann! Prove them wrong.

Susan Schreyer said...

I'm one of those people who have read both of Ann's books, and she's quite right. There's a little "tent city" parked on her front lawn waiting for book three.

Type faster, Ann!!!

E. B. Davis said...

I went on a quest to Border's the other day to figure out where my paranormal romantic mystery would fit on the shelf. There were some paranormals in the mystery aisle, but then romance had paranormal romance mysteries as well. They are now breaking out fantasy and some urban thrillers from the larger categories, so I'm hoping that they will breakout more cross genres.

Problem is that they had so little depth. The authors you'd expect were given an entire shelf, but I found few, if any, trade paperbacks.

I'm hoping that Ann gets the call because the more cross-genre authors who publish, the more likely that new categories will be established. Or, cross-genres will expand and allowed more space within the old categories.

There is prejudice against the new and bold. I agree with Polly, everyone wants something new, but then are afraid to give new a chance. If it can't be easily categorized, reject it. I'm writing a new blog here, but then I've blogged about this before.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey All! What an interesting discussion--and, as you can imagine, one I've thought about quite a bit.

I just came from teaching at the fabulously successful South Carolina Writers Workshop, where this was a big topic, too. And editors were saying that you have to pick a genre for your book--because it makes it easier for bookstores to decide what to do with them.

(I'm just being the reporter here!)

And in fact, some big bookstores decided to shelve my certainly cross-genre books in romance--even though they're clearly mysteries. (And do not have a clearly happily ever after ending.)

But it's so fascinating--because I think readers have no problem with it.

And hey, Ann, I'd certainly love to read DD! You and I are soliders in the same army. (Or something like that..)

Pauline Alldred said...

I hope someone picks up your book soon, Ann. If readers like it, that should be what counts.

Okay, there have been many mysteries with lonely tortured male or female sleuths. If the sleuth has a love life, does that mean book stores don't know if it's a mystery or not?

I'm thinking shelves with pure romance, pure mystery, pure paranormal, and genre fiction. We know authors have to work on name recognition so readers would do the alphabetical search through genre shelves. A romance reader who hates murder and crime would go to the pure romance shelves.

Writers can keep hoping for a break through in this area.

Ann Charles said...

Hi guys,

Sorry for taking so long to check in. My day job doesn't allow me to have blog access, so I had to wait until I had a moment after the kids went to bed at home.

Polly--Thanks for your positive thoughts and kind words about me. I'm going to do my best to show "them" that they were wrong to reject my story due to its lack of marketability. I've tested the story on 30+ readers, several of them who don't even know me (the book was handed off to them by friends of mine). These readers didn't know me and yet they made an effort to contact me after reading the book and give the story great reviews. I'm not bragging here, I'm saying that readers like mixed genre stories. They want more on the shelves. It's unfortunate that some bookstores not knowing where to place mixed genre books is determining what books are available for readers to read.

What I like about ebooks is that you can have your book on many shelves. I see ebooks as a great opportunity for mixed genre writers.

Okay, I'm crawling off my soapbox on this subject before I really get going. Anyway, my point is that there will have to be several authors who push forward and break down the mixed genre barriers. I don't really want to be one of them, but if it's what I have to do to succeed, then I have no choice but to push. You're coming with me, though, Polly. ;)

I'll reply to the other comments individually.

Ann C.

Ann Charles said...

Susan, you are very kind. I'm looking forward to building our careers side-by-side, sharing in the learning and experiences. I'm also looking forward to many more dancing during coffee moments! Thank you in advance for answering all of my questions in 2011. :)

Ann C.

Ann Charles said...

Elaine, interesting info on the bookshelf search. You and I need to create our own bookshelf and plant lots of books there in the new and exciting "RMP" aisle (romantic mystery with paranormal). ;)

In this publishing climate, I will be very surprised if I get a publisher who will be willing to take a chance on me. I could get all sad and depressed about this and bury my face in a vat of dark chocolate (yummm); OR, I could embrace change and take a huge gamble. By gamble I mean taking the Amazon kindle and Smashwords road to start, and then work with a small press publisher and hand sell my books, starting at the one location where I know I have an audience--the huge, 800,000+ tourists at the motorcycle rally just outside of Deadwood, South Dakota.

This isn't going to be easy, and it's going to take a lot of time and energy and work. I'll probably screw some things up, like I usually do, but it's going to be one heck of a ride. I'd rather take this chance this way than let my series collect dust and keep banging my head against the marketing wall. And what the heck, I could use more excitement in my life--a 3 and 5 year old just aren't enough anymore. ;)

Thank you for interviewing me and giving me an opportunity to be on your wonderful blog. I've enjoyed getting to chat with you. I look forward to buying one of your books some day soon--they sound like they are right up my alley.

Ann C.

Ann Charles said...

Hank, thanks for commenting and sharing the news from the front lines. It plays along with what my agent has heard a few times.

A year ago, I worked with an editor from MIRA (whom I still adore) who took Nearly Departed to acquisitions there. Interestingly, he had me increase the romance and paranormal element in what was originally a "Mystery with romantic and woo-woo elements." When I turned up the romance and paranormal just a bit, the story really came alive and I loved it. So did the editor. Unfortunately, Marketing didn't think they could sell it. The editor still laments to my agent how upset he is that they rejected the book.

My point in telling this story is that I think there are some editors who like and want cross-genre stories, but they don't get to have the final say about what they buy.

Hank, if you're serious about wanting to read Nearly Departed, send me an email and I'll get it to you. I'm happy to share, ask Susan. It will be available to the world soon.

Thanks for stopping by!
Ann C.

Ann Charles said...

Pauline, I like your idea of a genre fiction shelf! That would work just fine with me. I'll take responsibility for building my name recognition with readers if the book stores would just make some space for me. Thanks for the positive thoughts and having me on Writers Who Kill.

Ann C.