Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Talkin' Zoo Mysteries with Ann Littlewood, Part 1

ME: Your second mystery novel, Did Not Survive, is about to be released. Now that you're a seasoned pro, how does the experience differ from the release of your first book?

ANN: What’s different is that now I know not to be surprised by how tense I get! Publishing a mystery, for me, is a bit like stepping out on the front porch naked. What will people say? What was I thinking? Uh-oh, too late now…

I went through a big ol’ anxiety attack when Night Kill, the first in the series, came out. But the reviews were generous, my friends were delighted, and I enjoyed the readings and conferences. I expect that by the seventh or eighth book I publish, I’ll glue a ruby in my navel and prance out onto that porch without a care. Figuratively, that is.

ME: What sort of promo events do you have lined up?

ANN: I’m getting a GPS unit and headin’ out! The best opportunities for mystery authors who aren’t (yet) on the best-seller lists lie with the independent bookstores, especially the ones that specialize in mysteries. Right now, I’m signed up for these in Portland, Seattle, and Scottsdale. These stores are great places to appear, with wonderful staff and readers who are really into mysteries. Did Not Survive will launch at Murder by the Book in Portland, which has been SO GOOD to me.

In addition, I’m experimenting with book fairs in Vancouver, Washington, and in Lincoln City, Oregon. I’ll be at the downtown Portland Borders, my first try at the chain stores, so wish me luck. I’m signed up to read at one library now and looking for more, also hoping to sit down with book clubs. One event that is really fun is the Portland Audubon Wild Arts Festival each November, where I get to see a lot of friends. Environmentalists are the best! And I’ll be on a panel at the Bouchercon, the big mystery conference.

There’s really no end to it—have book, will travel! And then there’s online. Ads and Facebook and blogging and my website (wait till you see my cool trailer) and email and…

Ah, promotion… What’s the saying? Most of it is “motion.”

ME: With the new book, you've delved into the field of video promotion. How much help did you have, and do you have advice for other authors contemplating their own videos?

ANN: My son owed me one. Having a professional video editor owe you one is not a bad thing for an author with a book coming out. I sent him boatloads of elephant pictures  and a draft script, as well as a link to every book trailer I liked. He sent back questions and drafts. I learned about copyright-free photos and music available (for a price) online. There’s a lot out there!

The music turns out to be crucial—it drives the timing of the shots and even the number of shots. It was really hard to choose the tune and I finally gave up and made Daniel do it. He’s steeped in all manner of music and made a much better choice than I ever could.

Every new version was subjected to the opinions of friends, writers (such as yourself, Evan!), family, and random strangers, which actually helped lots.

So I didn’t make my own trailer—I was an engaged customer, as I like to think of it. A nit-picky flibbertigibbet who had no idea what she wanted might be another take on it, but we won’t go there.

I developed my own website,  but I know nada about video and wasn’t up to tackling it. Maybe next time, if I can’t rope Daniel into it.  Either way, I need to visit more zoos and  shoot more pictures. That’s what I’ll tell the IRS about my travel expenses.

Tomorrow: More talkin' with Ann
Last Sunday, Monday & Tuesday: We had zoo photos and reviews of Night Kill and Did Not Survive. To see the whole series, click HERE.

ME again. Here's a tip: Ann is offering up two short mysteries for FREE on her website. You can read "Death in a Cabana" in a PDF file, or listen to "The Apprentice Assassin" as a podcast. Click HERE.

Still more to satisfy your Zoo Mystery Mania: Ann's website, and her blog


Catherine B said...

Is Ann working on a third zoo mystery?

Evan Lewis said...

She is indeed. Iris Oakley will return!