Marilyn: Kaye, your blog partners are happy that you've sold your first mystery. Which house is publishing it, and what is your mystery about?
Kaye: Thank you, Marilyn. I'm over the moon! Mainly Murder Press is publishing CHOKE in May of 2011. Here's my proposed back cover (subject to change by the publisher, of course!):
Imogene Duckworthy, unwed mother and resident of
tiny Saltlick, Texas, longs to be a PI. When Uncle Huey
is found murdered, a half-frozen package of
mesquite-smoked sausage stuffed down his throat,
and her mother, Hortense, is taken in for the crime,
she gets her chance. Unclear on the exact duties of a PI,
Immy busts Mother out of jail with a fire in the bathroom
wastebasket. But, on the run from the law, along with
Immy’s toddler daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy,
I was surprised to find this on the back cover (well, not that surprised, since I put it there):
A riotous read!
Move 'em up, head 'em out, Immy! This western comic
mystery kept me up all night.
Peg: Did you have an agent to sell your book, Kaye, or did you approach the publishers directly?
Kaye: I submitted to them myself. I wasn't finished with my plan for this project, which was to query all the agents on my list, then query small presses. But my plan was put on hold when MMP opened up to regions outside New England, then announced that they would be closed for submissions for 2011 on July 31st.
This gave me a deadline and, as I always say, I work well under deadline. I had nothing to lose, except the possible, but very uncertain, acquisition of an agent.
I sent the first three chapters, their standard submission, then was asked to submit the whole manuscript. I got it to them just before that July 31st deadline.
Peg: How did it feel when you found out you were going to be a published author?
Kaye: I've been trying to analyze that. When I've had my little triumphs in the past, like getting my first short story accepted, being nominated for an Agatha, I ran around screaming. But with this, my big triumph, the one I've been working toward for eight long years, I breathed a little sigh of relief. Maybe that's because I know what's in store for me next.
Peg: Okay, Kaye, what is in store for you next?
Kaye: A lot of hard work! Promotion, getting my name and book title out as much as possible, gathering places I can make connections, studying how to promote, deciding how much I can spend doing it. I'm not even counting my edits on galley proofs, which I don't have yet, but expect soon.
Marilyn: How do you plan to get the word out to all your future readers that you have a humorous mystery for them to read?
Kaye: Good question, and one I've been asking myself. I'm making a plan. Or rather, a lot of lists. I'm gathering a list of email addresses of people I think might be interested in buying the book. I plan on a one-time email to that whole list with purchase information, asking if they want a newsletter. I also have lists of bookstores and libraries, local book clubs, reviewers, other places I could promote. I'm going to try to put out an interview or a guest blog at least once a month until publication (9 months away). I have things lined up through October so far.
Besides this blog, I've been interviewed at Dry Bones (http://carole-drybones.blogspot.com/2010/08/choke.html) on August 13th, and am scheduled in two slots, September 8th and 15th, at Writers Who Kill (http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/) and an essay at Jenny Milchman's blog for her Made It Moment feature. (http://jennymilchman.com/blog/)
I'm donating a basket at Left Coast Crime, 2011, which I was already planning on attending. This will be in March, before my book comes out, but I'll include a book for the high bidder on my basket and send it when it's published. (http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2011/)
I'll think what I can do at Malice Domestic because I'll possibly have books I can sell there, even though it's officially a little before my release date.
I've contacted one local book store for a signing and will be contacting others. And I'm trying to think what to do for a launch party.
For more details as they occur to me, you can peek in at my solo blog, Travels With Kaye.
KD: Would you recommend others to query small presses as well as agents? Or instead of agents?
Kaye: Where you query depends entirely on what you want for your project. If you're bound and determined to get yourself into a major publishing house and be on the shelves in all the big box stores, you have to get an agent. You'll easily sell many more copies with a big publisher, just because of their distribution and because of the visibility you'll have.
If you're bound and determined to get yourself published, and you're willing to do some promotional work, and it doesn't matter to you if you never become a NYTimes bestseller, then I'd recommend the small presses.
Some of the things to check for small press are distribution, publicity, royalty payments, and the rights they are asking for.
There are, also, lots of small presses and they are not all equal. Here, more so even than with agencies, I'd target a select few. If a small press seems attractive to you, I'd go to the expense of buying at least one of the books they've put out to check the editing and the quality of the product. I've done that with two publishers and decided I wouldn't want to be associated with the slipshod, sloppy editing I saw there. I bought three books from MMP, one awhile ago before I even considered querying them, and I liked the product--and the books.
Marilyn: It sounds like promoting this book will keep you busy for the next few months. We're looking forward to reading CHOKE, and hope you sell many, many copies.