Getting published – breaking into The Wonderful World of Seeing your Book on a Bookstore Shelf – is the one thing I get quizzed about constantly. How did I do it? Why did I do it? How long did it take? The truth is, it took 20 long years spent in advertising, writing TV, radio, and print ads, and heading my own ad agency, for me to finally get my nerve up.
When I did finally start writing, I hashed out screenplays evenings and weekends. These were crazy, high concept scripts like Beverly Hills Trashman (garbage collector woos wealthy socialite) and The Cheddar Cat (ad guy talks to an imaginary cat from his childhood). But after I’d written four screenplays, and Hollywood producers hadn’t come knocking on my door, I set that dream aside and did my own tough marketing analysis. That’s when I realized that only a hundred or so feature films are produced each year, but thousands of novels are released. Suffice it to say I immediately switched gears and began writing mysteries.
My very first mystery was Death by Darjeeling, a Tea Shop Mystery. It was released at a time when, no pun intended, tea was suddenly hot again. Tea shops were springing up like errant mushrooms, women were digging out their grandmother’s good china, and churches and women’s groups began hosting fancy teas. Basically, the slot machine went bing bong bing and cherries and oranges popped up. Once that happened, I kept writing and writing (occasionally coming up for food and air) until just a few years later I found myself writing three different mystery series (The Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries). And they were regularly climbing onto the New York Times Bestseller List!
Writing three series meant tons of hard work, but it also built up a backlist faster than you could say Sorry, dear husband, I have to write again tonight. Creating three cozy mystery series also meant I could do some savvy cross-pollinating. That is, my newly released books always included sample chapters and synopses of upcoming books.
Did this multiple-book-and-backlist strategy work? Boom! Yes, absolutely. Did it make me a little crazy? Funny you should ask. Because when you write three series you also need to market the bejeebers out of them. You have to work your fanny off to get each and every book noticed by booksellers. You need to have book release parties (serving tea and tea sandwiches, no less), avail yourself to book clubs, and give talks at libraries. Of course I send out beaucoup press releases, run my own paid advertising, do radio interviews, and write guest blogs like crazy.
It’s a constant juggling act. There are dozens of moving parts and lots of evening and weekends spent trying to figure out delicious new ways to kill someone – and make it happen in the very first chapter without pages and pages of buildup. Because that’s what today’s time-sensitive readers want. A rip-roaring opening that’s scary and quirky, with a plot that speeds along like a bullet train. After 45 books, do I think I can keep this thing in the air for a few more years? Gosh, I hope so. Because I absolutely love it!
Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs. Find out more about the author and her mysterie at www.laurachilds.com or become a Facebook friend