Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Answer a Few Questions and Enter to Win a Kindle

In the last month a very cool thing has happened for me as an author and I am trying to figure out how it happened. I am hoping my readers will respond to this post either by posting a response here or sending me an e-mail at michele@michelescott.com. You will be entered to win a Kindle. I will announce the winner on my site on July 21st.

The questions I am looking to be answered are: 1. What causes you to buy a book--cover, description, etc? 2. What is your favorite genre? 3. Are you inclined to read a series over a stand alone? and 4. What do you think is most important--plot or characters? Also, please tell me a bit about yourself and reading habits if you would like. I am a curious author. :) Here is my story;

It is an open account of my journey as a writer.

I am posting this in hopes that if anyone is ever feeling down about their work, or life in general, that maybe my story will inspire them.

I started out being published in 2005 with the Penguin Publishing group. They put nine of my mysteries out. All of the books have had multiple printings. I took a second mortgage on my home (stupidly) and put all of it into marketing my books. You can imagine how that worked out for my family and me. I sold our home of eleven years a few months ago and moved into a new home, which has actually turned out better for us in many ways. I sponsored contests that included a B&B spa weekend in Napa Valley. I signed books at umpteenth book stores where at the most I think I signed two dozen books. I hired a publicist. I did everything that I thought was right in getting books out there. I was on 4-6 month deadlines, churning out books at a rapid clip that combined with all of the marketing and raising three children nearly sent me over the edge. There were a lot of personal painful issues as well during the past few years, along with really trying to succeed as an author. I lost my ex-husband who was still a friend and parent to our sons to suicide (if anyone is ever facing suicide with a family member, I wrote an article for the NY Times that may help http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/...suicide/),I lost my best friend to cancer, and am now the primary caregiver for my dad who has Parkinsons. I nearly gave up my writing all together when Penguin decided to not publish the 10th book. I really had reached a rock bottom place and found myself pretty depressed. I kept that hidden from everyone because people know me as "the happy nice girl," but being a successful writer had always been my dream since I was nine-years-old, and I felt that I not only had failed at that (even though books sold), but that I had also jeopardized my family's financial stability based on this dream. I went back to a day job with my family's business in hopes of paying back the debt I had accrued by risking everything on my writing career. Then, I found Joe Konrath's blog (jakonrath.blogspot.com). I also read what others were saying about e-publishing. I followed their advice. I had already gotten back rights on 3 of my mysteries. I also had three books I had written from the past that had never been published, but they are thrillers, so I chose a pen name from my kids' names never realizing at first the symbolism in the name: A.K. Alexander. I took those 3 books and had them edited and had good covers done. I took the three mysteries and had new covers done and looked at reviews on the books from when Penguin put them out, making tweaks where the past reviews said there was a flaw in the book. I put them on Kindle and nothing much happened. I sold maybe a half a dozen for a few months, then a little more, and finally a couple hundred on average a month.

Then something happened this past month and I can't completely quantify it. I wish that I could. My thriller "Daddy's Home" started climbing the U.K. charts It climbed steadily each day and hit #1 thriller, #1 romantic suspense, #1 psychological drama, and finally # 1 in paid Kindle sales! The book remained on the top 10 Kindle Paid sales for a couple of weeks, and has stayed steady in the top 50. My other thriller "Mommy, May I?" is now in the top 10 along with "Daddy's Home." My third book is just beginning to catch on ("The Cartel," along with my Michaela Bancroft series. The Cartel is my favorite book of all of the books that I have ever written, so my fingers crossed it takes off like the other two.

I am currently finishing the next thriller and have outlined three more. I am also writing a new mystery. I feel good again. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I remembered how good it feels to write a book and discover readers enjoy it.

I guess my point is, keep at it, even when it seems like everything is a bit dark. Just keep writing. As writers, it's what we do best and it's what makes us happy. Do it because you love it and you want readers to find joy in it. It only took me twenty years and 14 books to get to this point. Who knew it would be due to e-books? I certainly didn't.


A.K. Alexander

For links (free chapters, etc) to all my books, please visit my site http://www.michelescott.com

I hope you will take some time and let me know what works for you as a reader. It will not only help me as a writer, but I hope others as well. You never know, you may win a Kindle just by answering a few questions.


Anonymous said...

I buy a book on recommendation first, followed by blurb. Cover is quite far down my list. My favorite genre is mystery/thriller. I'm just drawn to them. I prefer stand alones, but I will read a series as long as it does not go on too long and the later books are as good as the first. In mystery/thriller, both character and plot are critical. I'd struggle to read a book if either were weak.

I'm a mystery author, avid mystery reader and a wine lover, so I may have to check out your wine series.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michele. To answer your questions:

1. Usually, the first thing to catch my attention before anything is the title. But the main thing that causes me to read a book is the description. If it doesn't sound good, I won't even bother.

2. I like biographies, thrillers, horror. Basically anything if it's good.

3. I mostly like stand alone books. I'm not usually one for sequels/prequels. But if it is a series where it doesn't matter what order you read them in, I'll read those.

4. I think plot is most important since that tells you what the story is about. You have to know the plot first I think. That's why they have a synopsis on the back cover instead of character descriptions.

As for me, I'm 42, disabled, and I like to read and write. I wrote my first story when I was around 12-14. Even though I love to read, I have to be in the mood. I can't just pick up a book and read it. I've been known to read favorite books more than once. The only series I've read all of is the "Flowers in the Attic" series. I find it hard to read books with a lot of detail and flowery stuff. (Case in point, I just had to read a 325 page book from 1949 for a book club and couldn't get through it.)

Stacie said...

If I am bookstore browsing, a cover will grab my attention and make me read the back cover. But most of my book choices come from recommendations from friends, book bloggers, amazon recommendations, and goodreads. If they sound good they go on my to-read list. I mostly read historical fiction and chic lit, but am open to read anything. I have enjoyed yours! I have read some series, but mostly read stand alones. Not that I am opposed to a good series though. I think a story has to have deep characters that I can relate to and have empathy for or totally despise to keep reading. The characters build the plot, so I think first the characters need to be developed. I read for enjoyment, for my book club and to review books for publishers. I read 2-3 books a month. I wish I could do more, but my time is limited. I love trying out new authors or books and telling others about them. I am a huge advocate for our library and give most of my books to our library for our whole community to enjoy. I have 3 kids who are a great readers and have been reading a lot this summer which I love. Your advice ws great Michele. No matter whether you are a writer or not, you have to keep plugging away and stay focused and eventually you will come out on top! Keep writing! Stacie

alexagr61 said...

Quite a story, Michele!

Gary Alexander (2nd cousin to A.K.?)

Jeff Sherratt said...

Michele, congratulations on your amazing success. It just proves that if you write terrific books people will find and read them. And you write terrific books.

Now, to the questions: 1) I lean more toward series and I'll stay loyal only if the writer maintains the quality standards that hooked on his/her novels in the first place. 2) Plot is primary, but without compelling, well-rounded characters the story will be in vain, because I won't finish the book. 3) I generally find new authors by browsing bookstore shelves or bouncing around on Amazon or BN.com. Less than ten percent of my purchases are influenced by friends or reviews.

Joo said...

Hi Michele
1 - Based on the emails I get from Amazon for the free books, it is always the title that catches my eye, then I'll look over to the pic of the cover which will either make me move on or click the link.
When I was a DTB reader, browsing the licrary, I'd first wander over to where I'd normally find a book I like - some letters of the alphabet were more popular for me than others :) but it would be the cover that would catch my eye.

2 - I suppose my "go to" genre is chick lit - it's easy to spot one of them in the library. I like a good adventure (Dan Brownesque but not so much him - there's load better out there) and I do like what I call "murder death kill" (Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben type of thing)

3 - I don't mind if a book is a series or stand alone. I've read all the Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum books and I worked my way through Patricia Cornwall's Kay Scarpetta books (until I couldn't take it any more). I've also read most Clive Cussler books in no order whatsoever, but then you don't really need to with them. Recently, I tried some John Locke and have bought a load of them ready to read. I think it helps if you know the character and want more of him/her.

4 - I think plot is more important but if you don't like your characters, then it doesn't help.

As to me, I'm Joo and love reading and can't believe I didn't have an ereader a long time ago. In junior school my nickname was 'Book' and I'd much rather be sat out my conservatory reading and watching the garden birds than doing anything else.
I'd never really paid much notice of authors before, but since getting my Kindle and joining the Kindle Users Forum, I really love hearing from the authors' mouth :D Previously they were just people in another world, but now they mingle with us readers :D

Wishing you good luck and success in your future