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


Here are our August WWK interviews:

August 1 Rhys Bowen, Four Funerals and Maybe A Wedding

August 8 Liz Milliron, Root Of All Evil

August 15 Kellye Garrett, Hollywood Ending

August 22 Joyce Tremel, A Brewing Trouble Mystery Series

August 29 Dianne Freeman, A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder


Our August Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 8/4--Kelly Oliver, 8/11--Lisa Ciarfella, 8/18--Margaret S. Hamilton, 8/25--Kait Carson.


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.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Choices

By James M. Jackson

With three weeks, one day, and—depending on when you read this post—some number of hours and minutes before the official launch of Empty Promises, my life is consumed with marketing efforts. I have blogs to write, interviews to complete, reviews to post. The list is as endless as I want to make it, and therein lies the problem.

I think that the biggest issue I have with the Seamus McCree series is exposure. Goodreads reviews for books in the series average 4.4 out of 5. Except on those days of self-doubt when I’m convinced I can’t write anything more engaging than a grocery list, I realize readers who enjoy my kind of story, enjoy my stories. But only if I can get my books into their hands. And so I search for blogs and reviewers with the right audiences.

So many choices, so many unknowns.

Iceberg off Antarctica in the early morning
One mistake businesses (and writing is most assuredly a business) make in attempting to gain new customers is to neglect their current customers. JC Penney provides a wonderful example unrelated to books. The brand was in difficulty, as were most of its competitors. Their new CEO tried to make the store a “hip” place to shop. Its customer base wanted traditional goods at a fair price. The CEO decided a fair price meant low everyday prices: reduced retail prices, but no more coupons and sales.

The net result was the hipper crowd never thought JC Penney was the place to go, and their loyal customers liked feeling special with coupons and sales events—even if it meant higher list prices and the same net prices. The CEO managed to alienate his base and attract no one to replace it.

The Three Tenors (Chinstrap penguins)
Now, besides writing more great books, how can I keep my fans happy customers? I provide my newsletter subscribers with discounts, free stories, and inside scoops. But I write at the tortoise pace of one book a year. How can I keep fans engaged in between book launches?

It turns out lots of my readers like my photography, especially shots taken while on trips. Since I recently finished an excursion to Antarctica, I’ve been taking time away from what I “should” be doing to promote Empty Promises and, instead, selecting and posting pictures from the Antarctica trip. My approach has been to have people take the trip with me by posting a day at a time. (Sometimes with really busy days, I posted morning and afternoon separately.)

Gentoo Penguins in the rain
Antarctica has nothing to do with Empty Promises, which takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but I’ve discovered that penguins may be better than cats for getting likes on Facebook. Who knows how I might use that information in the future? Maybe Megan McCree (Seamus’s granddaughter who debuts in Empty Promises) will get a penguin doll for the next book.

That’s the choice I made: share commentary along with a very small subset of the 2,700 pictures I took rather than spending the time on more traditional marketing activities. The “vacation reprise” ended earlier this week, and now I’m full bore on writing interesting blogs. I hope my fans have been entertained and maybe even mentioned my posts to a friend or two and remembered to include the information that I write the Seamus McCree series. Well, that’s my hope anyway.

Authors – how do you balance promoting to new audiences with keeping fans happy? Readers, do you ever discover an author from an activity divorced from their writing—like, say, Facebook posts about an Antarctica trip?

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree novels featuring the financial crimes consultant, his family, and friends. The series has been well received by crime fiction readers who like their books darker than cozies and lighter than noir. Jim splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry. He is the past president of the 700+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. You can find information about Jim and his books at https://jamesmjackson.com.

16 comments:

Warren Bull said...

You take great photos. I have not figured out how to balance everything I have going on at once.

Jim Jackson said...

Thanks Warren. Let me know if you figure out that balance stuff, so I can learn your tricks.

~ Jim

Keenan Powell, Attorney at Law said...

Great post, Jim. I have to say that we were FB friends before your Antartica trip but every time I see your gorgeous bird photos, I recognize it's you and that connection takes a little firmer hold in my brain. I try to do the same with Alaskan photos. I think photos are more powerful than only text for capturing surfer's attention.

Jim Jackson said...

Keenan -- I agree with you about photos or graphics catching your eye. When I see a whole bunch of text, my immediate reaction is to skip it and browse on to something else.

~ Jim

Margaret Turkevich said...

The key is photos to build name recognition on social media. For Keenan, it's life in Alaska. For me, arty close-up flower and garden photos. For you, the "penguin guy"--though your bluebird shot from last year is memorable, too.

Not forgetting your resident beaver in Michigan...

Jim Jackson said...

Margaret -- we have Michigan lake neighbors visiting and we were just talking about "Beavie" and wondering if he'd be plugging up the culvert again this year.

I'm thinking the "Penguin-guy" is just a subset of my overall bird pictures, but we'll see.

~ JIm

KM Rockwood said...

Keep us posted, Jim! You not only do a good, organized job when you set out to figure these things out, you are great at uncovering and digesting the data for the rest of us.

I do think those of you who are visually-oriented and take such wonderful photos to share with others have a distinct marketing advantage over us visually-clueless folks.

William Ade said...

I appreciate Jim as a consistently helpful source of information and guidance for new and struggling writers. I launched my author's website and feel good about augmenting my blog with opinions about movies and TV programs from a story telling perspective. Hopefully my site will become more book/short story focused as I get published and gain readership.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks for sharing information that can help other writers, Jim. It makes you wonder how famous writers like Hemingway and others would be if they had had to promote and market their own work.

Polly Iyer said...

Creating an identity on social media is great for making friends, but I'm not sure it translates to selling books. Some, yes. Your photos of birds have captured followers, and it would be interesting to track how much of it entices sales of Seamus McCree books. I've decided I'm the worst marketer ever, and I'm living with that conclusion. The more books I write, the less I market. Marketing is something you have to do continually. When I release a new book, I get a nice bump, but then... Good luck with the new one, Jim.

Jim Jackson said...

KM -- As you know, I am comfortable with numbers and enjoy sharing my observations. I don't know if my visual orientation is a help or hindrance when it comes to marketing. As Polly notes, it's unclear how that helps drive sales.

William -- thanks for the kind words. I like your idea of dealing with story elements of movies and TV programs. It has a natural tie and interest for readers.

Grace -- There's an alternative world waiting for someone to explore in a story or novel: Papa Hemmingway forced onto social media to promote his stories and novels.

Polly -- I have no clue how effective social media is. I know despite having a newsletter and website, some people only seem to buy my books after hearing about them from Facebook or Twitter. It may be one of those things where the timing works or they need to see or hear something several times before it can get past our internal tune-out-all-advertising filter.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I love your pictures and can't wait to order Empty Promises. I enjoy your books. I don't do much to promote my books other than put the cover of a new book on Facebook when it comes out. I write more for the enjoyment of writing than trying to get money, but even without promoting my books, I still have a following who look forward to my books.

Kait said...

Balancing everything is the bane of authors, and it seems that as soon as you get a good handle on one marketing scheme, the next one comes along and renders the one you were so comfortable with obsolete! Makes life interesting.

Yes, I have discovered writers from outside sources. Photography, rescue pets, and the like. I like it as it broadens my horizons, too.

Julie Tollefson said...

I always look forward to your business of publishing posts, Jim. Great insights. Your fabulous photos are a bonus!

Lori L. Robinett said...

Good post. I think it boils down to simply connecting with readers - and there is a lot more to us, and our readers, than reading books. Photography is a great way to make a quick connection.

Jim Jackson said...

Gloria -- I know you have a following -- and staying in one place for many years and being a teacher are effective for you!

Kait - Yep, change is a continuing companion.

Thanks Julie.

Lori -- My hope is you are right, Lori. At least I have fun with photography!

~ Jim