If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of June!

June 6 Maggie Toussaint, Confound It

June 13 Nicole J. Burton, Swimming Up the Sun

June 20 Julie Mulhern, Shadow Dancing

June 27 Abby L. Vandiver, Debut author, Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

Our June Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 6/2--Joanne Guidoccio, 6/9 Julie Mulhern, 6/16--Margaret S. Hamilton, 6/23--Kait Carson, and 6/30--Edith Maxwell.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Targeting My Audience

Today on Salad Bowl Saturdays we welcome author Ricky Bush who discusses his experiences with targeting audiences. I first met Ricky in the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. Later on, his publisher became my publisher. Ricky's latest novel is The Devil's Blues.

~ Jim


Since filling my debut novel, River Bottom Blues, with loads of blues music lore, I knew that a major target audience for the book would be fans of the genre. A crime novel for blues fans if you will. Of course, I aimed at fans of murder mystery/thriller books, also. I felt that creating a blues playing crime-fighting duo as protagonists would give me an additional group at which to aim my marketing. My second book, The Devil’s Blues, continues the adventures of those same characters.

My first grand plan after the release of the first book was to line up booth space at blues music festivals. I found very quickly that what the major festivals charged to man a table was a bit out of my price range. Maybe if I sold deep fried Snickers I could possibly turn a profit. So, for the first book, I backed off that scenario. I still have some festivals to research, so that marketing ploy is not totally off the table.

One early foray into reaching out to blues fans was by lining up a book signing in Navasota, Texas during a birthday celebration of the legendary (and long deceased) blues musician, Mance Lipscomb. National recording artist, Marcia Ball, headlined the festivities. Blues Alley, a blues museum, blues boutique, and antique store sponsored the citywide event. The manager bought a batch of my books at a good price and made them available at the music concerts held outside their back door. I didn’t sell many books, but I swapped Ms. Ball a book for her latest CD. She said that it would give her something to read on the road.

My second such event had me quite excited. The owner of one of the most esteemed blues clubs in the city of Houston, The Big Easy, kindly agreed to allow me to hawk my books at the Houston Blues Society monthly jam held there. The place was packed with blues fans. After the host band finished their set, they called me up to play harmonica with the first round of jam musicians. They also mentioned that I was a Society member, that my book was for sale, and that two dollars for each book would be donated to their fundraiser. That message was repeated throughout the night by the president of the Blues Society. I sold a grand total of five books. The Society president and the club owner each bought one of those.

Well, I just figured that folks were there to listen to music, dance a boogie, and drink a drink or two. I was set up at the Society’s swag table and few people ventured over there. Maybe they felt that if they came over and bought my book that they’d need to buy other swag, or maybe if they came over to buy swag that they’d feel obligated to buy my book. I dunno. I began to think that maybe my target audience just doesn’t read much.

Later, I looked into occupying a table at the Navasota Blues Festival, also created to celebrate the aforementioned Mance Lipscomb, which is a great small festival with a substantial turnout. I never heard back from them.

Throughout this same period, I hit everything blues related online. I e-mailed blues societies around the country, and even a few in Europe, to entice them to get the word out about my book. I even offered a free copy for further enticement. One in California responded and wanted a copy. They promised to write up a review in their newsletter. That never happened as far as I know.

I also belong to a few blues related forums, with a couple aimed specifically at harmonica players (instrument of choice by my protagonists). Over the past year, I’d start a new thread periodically updating the latest and greatest news from me. Those threads normally died on the vine, except for a couple of guys who both ordered signed copies from me. My post touting the release of The Devil’s Blues elicited a response from one of those fans. He raved about my first novel, comparing it to being as good as anything that he’d read by James Patterson. Bless that man. His was the only response, and he sent me an e-mail rant about not being able to understand how those on the forum couldn’t get excited about a novel involving blues men, especially of the harmonica blowing type. Bless him again. It’s words such as his that keep the fires burning.

I did send out free copies to a few esteemed blues harmonica players, including Dan Aykroyd, whose alter ego is the harp playing Elwood Blues. I did hear back from a couple that loved the book.

Am I disappointed that the blues community hasn’t jumped all over my tales? No, not really. With every effort, my name gets circulated just a bit more and I gain a bit more recognition. I’ll keep chipping away. Call it brand building if you will.

After spending much of his adult life listening to the blues, playing the blues, and writing about blues music, Ricky Bush incorporated this passion into creating novels in which the blues meets at the dark crossroads of murder and mayhem. He spins his tales from Texas in his self-built log home and ventures out on occasion to blow a tune or two on his harmonica. His debut novel, River Bottom Blues, and the recently released, The Devil’s Blues can be found at all the usual online suspects and his publisher, Barking Rain Press.


James Montgomery Jackson said...

In the consulting business one of the truths is that it often helps to be from a different city. If the hiring company hauled you in from a distance, then you must be "worth it." The flip side is if you are local and known, you can't be an expert.

I've noticed something of the same phenomenon with authoring books. Some people who know you buy your books because they are friends. Others seem to avoid buying the books because they know you -- and how could someone they know be sufficiently expert at writing?

I'm delighted when the first group lets me know that they REALLY enjoyed the book (as in they were surprised it was so good). I haven't figured out how to crack the second group - but I wonder if some of that same thing is hurting your blues marketing.

So far it's still a mystery to me.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

When I think of what a marketing hit pet rocks were, it makes me dreary to think how hard it is to sell books. I just read somewhere that in the last year 46% of our population hadn't read one book, which I read in two days.

When I hear your struggles, Ricky, I see myself in your place. I'm not very outgoing so manning the booths at the festivals seems like a death sentence to me. Good luck--maybe the Rolling Stones would lend you there email database (I just received a notification from them.).

Warren Bull said...

Hang in there. You're making progress even it it's a little at a time. You're in a marathon, not a sprint.

Gloria Alden said...

Ricky, although I like the blues along with a lot of other types of music, like bluegrass, Celtic, folk and classical, except for Muddy Waters, I was clueless about the old and newer blues musicians you wrote about in your book RIVER BOTTOM BLUES, but I found it an excellent mystery, one I thoroughly enjoyed. I think maybe you need to work more at targeting mystery readers and attend some mystery conferences. There are a lot of readers who also like the blues. I'm looking forward to reading your 2nd book, too, Ricky.

Anonymous said...

In my callow youth, I used to hang out with a blues horn player named AC Reed and his buddies in south Chicago. Interesting people, but I do have to say not many of them read much, and I'm not 100% sure they all knew how to read.

Ricky Bush said...

So sorry that I haven't commented on my post until now. I've got all kinds of excuses, but won't go into them. KM--that is so cool that you hung around with AC Reed. His sax graced tons of blues recordings from the '60s on. Oh, yeah, Jim, the old "prophet in his own hometown" scenario really comes into play (putting your book on my Kindle). Thanks for the compliment Gloria. I love your stuff too.