Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My first reading

I had my very first reading at Books & Books, Miami’s great independent bookstore. I was running late, speeding down I-95 at 80 mph, driving right into storm clouds and drizzle. Fortunately, the heavy rains had already passed, leaving only the humidity behind.

I had invited my friend Hannah Lasky, who is a wonderfully talented artist, if she wanted to bring some paintings over to serve as a backdrop for the reading, so I met up with her in the alley behind the store and started dragging the paintings and the wire display wall in through the back door.

I brought my own props, too—an inflatable palm tree, an ALOHA banner, and a plate of coconut macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies. When I walked in, it didn’t look like there was much of a crowd, but by the time we got everything set up, all twenty seats were filled and there were a couple of other people standing around.

Of course, I knew all but a couple of those people—but I was still delighted to see them. Classmates (and a professor) from my writing program at FIU, members of my writers’ group, and friends—it was so nice to have such a supportive group. I talked for a bit about how I came to write Mahu, and about the Hawaiian spelling and symbols I used in the book, and then I read.

I read the first page of the book, as Kimo’s moving toward a drug bust, and then jumped to the last section of chapter one, beginning as Kimo leaves the bar where he has been hanging out with his cop buddies to go to the Rod and Reel Club, the gay bar where lots of the action of the book takes place.

Then I answered questions, including “When will the book be translated into Hawaiian?” It gave me an opportunity to talk about writing in general, about the research that I did for the book. Overall, it was a fabulous experience—and I was equally excited to sign about ten books afterwards, as well as signing a half dozen stock copies. There was even one ordered by a collector.

I generally wrote “Mahalo nui loa” which means “Thank you very much” and then tried to add something personal, since I knew everyone who bought a book. Overall, I don’t think I could have asked for a better first reading experience.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Updating the Website

When I first started writing Mahu, I did some research on other authors of gay mysteries. I put together a list which I used to send out along with queries, to show prospective agents and editors that this was a thriving subgenre. And I always knew that I would include this list on my website and use it to help promote Mahu.

Well, now's the time. I've had the list online for some time, and I knew there were probably a few new authors to include. So I started work yesterday, and ended up updating 6 authors, adding 9 new ones, for a total of 28 new books. Now of course, some aren't that new; they're only new to me. But it still shows that this niche is continuing to build.

Once I finished, I sent an email to two different listserves that I subscribe to-- DorothyL, which is for mystery lovers, and Blue Place, which is specifically for gay mystery, but often expands to gay literature in general. Now we'll see if I get any hits!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Books are Here!

Yesterday evening, the dog started barking-- generally a sign that we're about to get a delivery. And sure enough, by the time I got downstairs, there was a heavy box sitting just inside the gate-- the thirty books I ordered from Haworth. I get a 50% author discount-- and there was a bill right on the top of the pile.

Now I have books to carry around to readings and to sell to friends & family. Not quite sure how I'm going to handle that-- I guess if anyone asks "Where can I buy it?" I'll let them know they can buy from me.

I'm a little worried that Amazon & Barnes & Noble online still don't have the correct information and pricing-- it doesn't look available yet, and each of them has a different price. The current price should be $19.95 but neither site has been updated yet.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My First Interview

Well, I had my first interview today about Mahu, with Andy Zeffer of the Express Gay News, a local paper in Fort Lauderdale. I think the interview went well; we'll see how it comes out in the paper.

But it showed me that I really need to prepare better for this publicity stuff. I threw together a press kit at the last minute, and I know I have to get a fairly nice one put together. I'm heading off to the office supply store to buy some folders, and I'm ordering more of my Mahu labels for the cover of the folder.

I need to think more about the main points I want to convey, as well-- and how I'm going to get those across. Just another step in the process, I guess.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Book in Hand

Wow! I got my first copy of Mahu in the mail yesterday. It looks very cool. The cover illustration stretches around the spine, and my name and the title are high enough up on the spine that a library sticker won't obscure them.

This is a small peeve of mine. I get a lot of books from the library, and I hate it when the author's name is flush to the bottom of the spine-- so the sticker covers it.

They used the same picture I'm using for my blog on the back cover-- me looking demonic (or so Marc says) in my pink and white Hawaiian shirt. I love that shirt-- and I actually bought it at Hilo Hattie's on one of the islands, on one of my trips, so it makes sense.

Since I sent out my first email press release, I've been contacted by two local journalists who want to write about me and the book. So it's all starting!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Published at last!

Well, I got an email yesterday from my publisher, the handsome and charming Bill Palmer (anyone who publishes me automatically becomes handsome and charming.) "MAHU is off press as of today. It looks great! Congratulations."

Boy, have I been waiting a long time for those words! Of course, this is just another step in the process. Now I have to start promoting the hell out of the book. After all, I've already written two sequels, and I know that Mahu has to be successful in order for those two books to see print.

Bill also noted that he was reducing the price of Mahu from $22.95 to $19.95. When I met him at Saints & Sinners in New Orleans in May, we discussed the book's pricing-- which I thought was too high. It began at $24.95 and then dropped to $22.95-- which is what all the printed materials say. I told him that I thought it would be tough for Mahu to compete with other trade paperback gay books -- and other mysteries-- at that price. And I guess I made my case.

I ran out to Office Max today and picked up some little blue circle labels, on which I printed "Now $19.95!" and spent the morning peeling and sticking them on my postcards. Then this afternoon I drove down to the post office in Hallandale and mailed them all out-- about 300, I think.

I also sent out an HTML press release to a short email list, and now I sit back and see what happens.