Welcome Ann Charles, author of Nearly Departed In Deadwood! Today, Ann talks to us about her win – the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence! (and a little side nomination for the Golden Heart!)
In 2010, I was fortunate enough to win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense with my book, Nearly Departed in Deadwood. After the shock wore off and the celebrations slowed, I returned home from Cloud Nine. Then I began to plan how I could make this contest win work for me. For the past year, I’d been building my platform, trying to increase my name recognition, and working on taking my writing career to the next level, whatever that was. Winning the Daphne came at a perfect time. I was ready for the boost.
Following are some of the ways I used the contest win to work for me:
1. Press Release: I wrote a press release and sent it to several small to mid-sized newspapers that covered the areas of the country where I knew my potential audience was the greatest.
2. Blogs: I accepted invites to post articles and participate in interviews on several blogs, spreading word about the win while networking with other writers and potential readers.
3. Book Cover: On the cover of my book, we put a big golden medallion to draw customers’ attention and inform them the book won a “National Award.”
4. Free Reads: Suddenly, many writers and readers were curious about my book, interested in reading bits of it. So, I shared excerpts of the story with them, making new friends and fans along the way. These same folks are bending over backward to help me sell the book now that it is out. They are wonderful!
5. Quotes: I mentioned the fact that the book won the Daphne when asking fellow authors if they would be willing to give me quotes/blurbs for it. The contest win helped me secure several excellent quotes.
6. Promotion: As soon as my book was published, I sent out email blasts telling everyone that a Daphne du Maurier winning book has been published. This was a slight twist on the usual, “My book is published!” email, and being different is good in a crowded market.
7. Thanks: Because my parents’ words stick with me even now, I try to continually remain humble about the win, keeping in mind that winning involves a lot of luck. I try to express my gratitude in print often for those who created/ran the contest and judged. Giving thanks is much appreciated in this industry. I always appreciate it when I’ve helped someone and they say “Thank you” and will be more willing to help them again in the future.
8. Daphne Contest: I try to promote the Daphne du Maurier contest whenever possible in voice and print. I also agreed to help judge this year’s Daphne entries again.
9. Blogs (again): I am touring the blogosphere now that my book is out, talking about all that winning the Daphne can do for a career in order to give other writers ideas and hope in this sometimes brutal business.
10. Tell the World: My publicist continually uses the Daphne win as a selling tool, such as showing those newspaper articles (see #1 above) that tell about my win. Also, on Amazon, I made sure there is mention of the win in my product description to help convince readers it’s worth their dime.
These are just some of the ways I’ve used the Daphne to work for me.
So, if you enter writing contests (or are thinking about entering a contest), I ask you: What will you do if you final in or win the contest (after your finish celebrating and sober up)? How will you make it work for you?
RU: How many manuscripts did you write before you were published?
AC: I wrote eight manuscripts. Nearly Departed in Deadwood is number seven (I finished writing my eighth manuscript—the next book in the Deadwood Mystery Series, Optical Delusions in Deadwood—prior to getting Nearly Departed in Deadwood out the door). I’m currently writing my ninth manuscript, Dead Case in Deadwood, the third in the Deadwood Mystery series. Man, that was a lot of numbers ending in “th.” Ha!
RU: How long was it from the time you began writing seriously and the time you were published?
AC: I think it’s been over thirteen long years—too long to keep an accurate count. Although, I did get married, finish college, and have two kids in the midst of it all, plus work a full-time day job, so I have some rolling blackouts throughout parts of those years.
RU: Why do you think this particular manuscript sold?
AC: Because of several things: 1.) It won the Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense; 2.) It has great audience potential built into it thanks to the setting and title; 3.) I have spent years building a platform and name recognition, which translates into a lot of supportive fans for the book right out of the gate (which appeals to a publisher).
RU: What surprised you about the sell?
AC: That it became more of a partnership than a sell. You see, I was offered an opportunity to partner with the publisher and share in all aspects of publishing my book. I’ve learned so much in the first three months of this year about the publishing business, and I have a better understanding as to why publishers make some of the decisions they do—decisions I often questioned as an author. While this has not been an easy venture for me, I enjoy having more control in the future of my book.
RU: What challenges have you faced since you sold that you didn’t realize you would encounter?
AC: I had no idea of the many hurdles when it comes to getting a book out through as many distribution channels as there are. I also didn’t realize there were so many distribution channels. It’s really incredible the networks that have been set up by publishers over the years, and the networks being built for eBook publishing now. It’s stressful, exciting, and fun all at the same time.
RU: Is there anything you wished you’d done before you sold?
AC: Written more books. I have four other books written and needing some work before going out to the world, but I wish I had an even bigger backlog of manuscripts. It’s much easier to fine-tune and edit than stare at that dang blinking cursor on a blank page.
RU: What’s your best advice for writers who are still waiting to sell?
AC: Be patient. Publishing is not a game of quick wins and overnight successes. While you’re waiting to sell your book(s), work on building your platform so that when you sell, you have readers who want to buy your book. Five years ago, I asked myself the following question: If I had a book published, who would buy it besides my mother? That’s when I realized I had a lot of pre-publishing work to do and got busy building an audience for my books.
RU: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the Romance University readers?
AC: Yes, another bit of advice—test everything. I am constantly testing my “products” to see what gives me the response I’m looking for from a reader/fan. When I say in my Acknowledgments that it takes a village to make Ann Charles successful, I’m not just blowing hot air. I have many readers and editors, several for every draft. I also test promotional products on my friends and fans. I test ideas and articles on others. Everything. The world is my QA lab, and I’m out to deliver high-quality products, whether the products are stories, book posters, key chains, workshops, or whatever.
RU: And last, will you tell us all about your debut book?
AC: I’d love to!
Irony is having a big ol’ fiesta and Violet Parker is the piñata. Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota, and Violet’s daughter could be next. Short on time and long on worry, she’s desperate to find the monster behind the abductions. But with her jerkoff co-worker trying to get her fired, a secret admirer sending creepy love poems, and a sexy-as-hell stranger hiding skeletons in his closet, Violet just might end up as one of Deadwood’s dearly departed.
“The first time I came to Deadwood, I got shot in the ass.”—Violet Parker, Chapter 1
Nearly Departed in Deadwood is the first of many books in the Deadwood Mystery Series. It has mystery, romance, suspense, and paranormal—all in one big genre stew. It’s available all over God’s green earth, and we’re working to make it available on the moon, too.
Stay tuned for Violet Parker’s second book, Optical Delusions in Deadwood, which will be released in May 2011 as an eBook and July 2011 as a print book.
RU Writers – have you thought of how your life might change with a contest win?
Join us on Monday as NYT Best Selling Author Lori Wilde talks about the differences in writing contemporary romance and external plot-driven sub-genres like romantic suspense.
Ann Charles is an award-winning author who writes romantic mysteries that are splashed with humor. Her debut mystery, Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Released in January 2011) not only won the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, but also has been selected as a finalist in the 2011 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® contest. A member of Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and RWA for many moons, she has a B.A. in English
with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington.
When she is not dabbling in fiction, she is penning writing-related articles or standing on her workshop soapbox, sharing what she has learned over the years about the craft and self-promotion. Visit her at www.anncharles.com or www.anncharles.com/deadwood.
You can also find her at http://www.1stturningpoint.com, where she and over two dozen other authors, reviewers, and PR consultants have joined together to teach and share (and learn from each other) all sorts of great information about promotion for both unpublished and published authors.
She lives near Seattle with her clever husband, charming children, and one incredibly sassy cat.
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