Susan Santangelo and her husband have started their own publishing press, Baby Boomer Mysteries Press. Susan has published two books in a series featuring Carol Andrews, a baby boomer confronting murder.
Website is www.babyboomermysteries.com.
Blog spot is www.murderousmusings.blogspot.com. I blog the first and third Sundays of every month.
Both you and your husband have previous experience in public relations and publishing. Did you find this experience helpful when you started your own publishing company, Baby Boomer Mysteries?
Both Joe and I have been involved in public relations for years in a variety of capacities. Many years ago, in another life (smile), I was an editor and proofreader for several magazines in the New York area, including Cosmopolitan. And I also did lots of line editing for book publishers, most of which, sadly, are no longer in existence. But neither one of us had any experience in the design and physical production of a book. That’s an entirely different skill set. We were fortunate to find the terrific designers at Grouper Design in Yarmouthport, MA., who have become part of our team. I’ve learned so much by working with them about colors, type fonts, type size – it’s amazing.
What forms of promotion have you found most helpful in promoting your novels, Retirement Can Be Murder and Moving Can Be Murder?
I love doing book talks and signings. Even if people don’t buy a book then, I always give everyone I meet a bookmark. Folks love that, and my hope is that they’ll save it and one day that bookmark will springboard into a book purchase. But since our travel budget is limited, I’ve taken advantage of several on-line promotional opportunities as well. I have a web page, and blog twice a month at Murderous Musings, which is a virtual group of mystery writers. It’s a very diverse blog. We even have one writer from Brazil and another from Iceland. I’m on Facebook, and I post regularly. The on-line community has generated lots of book sales. But if I have my choice, and an unlimited budget, I’d travel all over to do talks. I love the stories other Boomers share with me about their lives, retirement, etc. And I get some great story ideas.
You have noted previously that agents are unwilling, for business reasons, to take a chance on new authors unless the author has a platform. As a baby boomer close to retirement age and as a survivor of breast cancer, do you hope your writing will focus more attention on people who are no longer young but have much to offer?
Boomers and seniors have so much left to offer. We’ve learned a lot over the years. Our children are grown and have left the nest. Now is the time to try something new. That’s one of the things I hope to show in my writing. My protagonist, Carol Andrews, has been a stay-at-home wife and mother, content to let her husband support the family. But now that he’s retired, she’s discovering new life opportunities for herself. Such as writing freelance articles on important issues like domestic violence. And, oh yes, solving a mystery or two.
Young female protagonists deal with finding the right mate, sorting through date options, and developing their careers. Carol Andrews, your protagonist, faces problems with her husband’s retirement and with selling a home where she’s spent much of her adult life. Have you received feedback from readers that they identify with these issues?
The feedback from readers about the issues I’m writing about in my books is incredibly positive. Women have told me I’m writing their lives. Others have asked me when I met their husband! I’m focusing on everyday issues that people of a certain age have to deal with. In a humorous way. With a dead body thrown in to move things along.
There are other problems for retirees—money and how much they need to retire, ill health, moving and losing social support, remaining in the lives of their children and grandchildren, and what to do with the time they have left. Do you think your protagonist, Carol, will explore these issues in future books?
The second book, Moving Can Be Murder, has a moving quiz in the back to help readers focus on where they really want to live as they age. Plus some websites I found in my research that I hope will be helpful.
Here are a few sample questions from the moving quiz: How do you rate the community where you now live? Include factors like public safety, property taxes (and the possibility of an increase), access to public transportation, availability of senior services, and trash/recycling collection. Do you love your current home? Is it convenient to stores, dry cleaners, your faith community, and other things that are important to you? If you live alone, is there someone you can count on to check on you to be sure you are OK? Does your home have potential for a first-floor master bedroom and bath, with no stairs involved? Could you close off current rooms and save on energy costs? If you decide to move, do you have a bit of wanderlust and want a complete change in lifestyle, climate, or even country? How quickly do you think you'd develop friendships in a new location? There are so many things to consider.
If the decision is made to stay in the current home, there are also resources listed in the book which can be helpful.
CAPS is a certified Aging-In-Place Specialist program designed by the National Home Builders Association in partnership with AARP. Check out their website: www.nahb.com/caps.
The National Aging In Place Council's website is www.aginginplace.org. And the American Society of Interior Design also has an aging-in-place component on its website: www.asid.org/designknowledge/aa.inplace.
The second half of Susan’s guest blog will appear tomorrow.