Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Mystery Author Tom Kelly. He is a writer and columnist, specializing in the Real Estate market. His syndicated column is carried in more than 40 newspapers across the country.
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Cold Crossover is Tom Kelly's first step into fiction and the first of the Ernie Creekmore series. The second book in the series, Hovering Above a Homicide, will be released in Spring, 2013.
Tom served The Seattle Times readers for 20 years, first as a sportswriter and later as real estate reporter, columnist and editor. His weekly features now appear in a variety of newspapers including the Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle, Portland Oregonian, Louisville Courier-Journal, Tacoma News Tribune and Spokane Spokesman-Review plus hundreds of websites.
His ground-breaking book How a Second Home Can Be Your Best Investment (McGraw-Hill, written with economist John Tuccillo) showed consumers and professionals how one additional piece of real estate could serve as an investment, recreation and retirement property over time.
Tom's award-winning radio show "Real Estate Today" recently began its 19th year on Seattle's 770 KTTH-AM.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book being released called Hovering Above a Homicide. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thanks for asking. The main characters in the book will return in a new mystery scheduled to be released June 1. It focuses on “helicopter” parents who hover so closely above their children and teams. The main character, retired coach Ernie Creekmore, is coaxed out of retirement to lead an all-star team in a prestigious regional tournament.
How important have your social media relationships been? How much did it change your book launch process?
The publishing industry has changed dramatically since I released my last book. While major publishers make books available, it’s up to the author to promote it – especially if the book is self-published. Social media provides so much information now to so many readers that having a social media plan is critical. The benefit is that the informational campaign can be launched overnight, directing people to the Ebook immediately. Social media enabled me to speed up my launch and secure holiday sales.
We have had several authors in the spotlight who conduct seminars or personal appearances on a regular basis. You do book signing, speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I’ve been very fortunate to have my mystery picked up by Costco which is featuring it in its Northwest warehouses. I’ve been on a Costco tour, with the next stop at the flagship warehouse adjacent to the company headquarters in Issaquah, WA., on Saturday, February 16. On Sunday, February 24, I will be appearing at Eagle Harbor Books on beautiful Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle. We try to include all appearances on my Facebook page and on my website, www.tomkelly.com
Along with the personal appearances question, when you have your Real Estate hat on at a seminar, do you have a table in the back of the room with a stack of Cold Crossover waiting for the attendees? Do the attendees find that special?
“Cold Crossover” is new so it has not made any appearances yet at real estate seminars. Thanks for the suggestion, though, because I will bring a few copies to industry events!
Do you find the opportunity to talk about your novel on your radio show? Can you tell if there is an uptick in sales when you do that?
I only mention the novel on the air when I thank people for coming out to see me at a recent signing. There has been no traceable evidence of book sales from doing so.
What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I am new to fiction and have joined the Mystery Writers of America and look forward to our next Northwest chapter meeting. For more than three decades, I’ve been a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) which has been a terrific group for ideas, freelance placement, expert sources and networking.
Between your book writing, your column and radio show, marketing your novel, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?
I’m not good at promoting myself – probably because of my straight news background – and have to push myself to do it all the time. I simply don’t want to bother people with information they’d rather not have. My helpers respond “How do you know unless you ask?” I try to get the book in front of readers who enjoy mystery, history and basketball. I try to block time early in the morning for book writing. Not only is it a creative time for me, but my sources/subjects for the column and radio show are not ready to take probing questions at an early hour! I also try to glean a column from the radio show content, and vice versa. We try to schedule guests timed to news events to keep the content fresh. Our four children are grown and gone but our new grandson can have all of my time he wants!
Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans? How different is the marketing of your Mystery novel versus your Business books?
Most of the business books came out before Ebooks became popular, so the marketing aspect has changed dramatically. I’ve always known that people want information but have had to learn to provide that along with a marketing nudge at the same time.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I’ve always given printed books to my peers because many would review them in their columns and stories. Now, it’s faster and less expensive to give away an eBook. I periodically give away eBooks in the first two months after launch, thinking the more people who know about the book, the better. I’ve offered free books on Goodreads and Amazon. Because the book is so new, it’s difficult to gauge the influence of the giveaways.
You changed from writing Business books to writing fiction. Did changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which do you enjoy writing the most?
I wrote Business books because I followed the industry (real estate: homes/loans) and had the sources and material to give consumers information (at THAT time) they could not get anywhere else. I wrote the mystery book because it was something I’ve always wanted to do. It was difficult but extremely enjoyable – much more so than the gratification of publishing a business book with a major publisher (McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Dearborn). I’ve learned there are no common threads in fiction and non-fiction. Great contacts, sources in non-fiction are rather clueless of the same for fiction. I’ve learned that if you can find a tender nerve that resonates in you and with others (a one high-school town in a state basketball tournament) a lot of people will respond.
Author's Book List
A Chilling Northwest Mystery
Linnbert "Cheese" Oliver, hard-luck high school basketball hero in the northwestern town of North Fork, is missing on a late-night ferry. And for real estate agent Ernie Creekmore, his father figure, friend, and former coach, the news hits hard. Ernie's suffered too much loss and pain in his life his wife, a state basketball championship, a mysterious medical malady and he just can't accept the idea that Cheese might have taken his own life. Working with sheriff's detective Harvey Johnston, Ernie uses his contacts in real estate and hoops to trace Cheese's movements.
Meanwhile, hints at possible foul play turn up in pieces of North Fork's rough-and-tumble history in fishing, logging, and railroading, and the past and the present violently collide in a series of heart-stopping moments that peel back layers of greed, secrets, and twisted family ties that refuse to stay buried.
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