Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Lorna Dounaeva. She is the author of of sizzling psychological thriller, Fry. It was one of IndieReader.com's Best Indie Books of 2013.
Thriller, Romance, Mystery
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Lorna Dounaeva is a quirky British crime writer who once challenged a flamenco troupe to a dance-off. She is a politics graduate and worked for the British Home Office for a number of years. Her debut novel, FRY, is a chick-lit psychological thriller which combines romantic suspense with an intriguing crime mystery that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Her influences include Single White Female, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, The Exorcist and American Psycho. She has two active toddlers who keep her busy wiping food off the ceiling and removing mints from USB sockets. She is addicted to coffee and anticipates an intervention any day now. She is not thought to be dangerous.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called May Queen Killers. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Where have all the May Queens gone?
At 34 years old, Sapphire Butterworth is a little old to be crowned May Queen, but she has her heart set on the title and no one is going to stand in her way. But then Sapphire disappears in the middle of the May Day celebrations and someone throws a brick through the window of her tea shop. Soon, there are scenes of May Day carnage thoughout the village; lambs mauled by vicious dogs and may poles ripped apart.
Mystery writer, Jock Skone is one of the last to see Sapphire and determined to use his detective skills to find her. But Jock quickly discovers that Sapphire’s friends do not know her as well as they thought they did. And Sapphire is not the first May Queen to go missing. Is there a deeper reason why Sapphire wanted the title so badly? Does she know more about the May Queen Killers than she’s been letting on?
May Queen Killers is a very British psychological thriller set on the English/Welsh border. It will be available on Amazon from 28th May.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?
I have found Twitter to be a good way to meet readers and indeed reviewers. I’ve also found some good books to read on there. I have been active on Twitter for a couple of years now and mainly follow other writers, as well as people who read books in my genre. I check my account regularly but do not send a massive amount of Tweets these days, unless I am running a promotion.
I like browsing forums such as Goodreads but don’t spend a great deal of time on them. I will be starting a newsletter shortly. You can email me at Lorna.Dounaeva@live.com to sign up.
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
Nearly all my marketing has been online, although I am attending Crimefest in Bristol in May. I haven’t done much in the way of public appearances, partly because I have two small children to look after, but also because I think online marketing is pretty effective. It is really nice to meet readers in real life though, so it is something I might do more of in the future.
You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?
So far my short stories have just been a fun little side project, more of a hobby, really. For instance, Vampire Driving School is part of a charity anthology about Vampires called In Vein, and The Snowpersons is part of a writers’ anthology called A World of Joy. Neither of these are in my usual genre, Crime Fiction, so they don’t necessarily have the same audience. I think short stories are a interesting way to hook in readers, but ideally, the stories need to be in the same genre you write in, and ideally linked to other stories and books. If I were to use them as a marketing tool, I would write stories about books I have already written.
What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I belong to the Author Social Media Support Group, which I would recommend to all authors as it is a valuable source of support and information. And I recently joined the Society of Authors (in the UK), to get in touch with writers closer to home.
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?
So far I have done two rounds of Amazon KDP giveaways and have been pleased with the results. My last giveaway was in January, when I gave away over 40,000 copies of FRY in the US alone, with the help of Bookbub. I think giveaways are a great way to meet new readers and get reviews. I wouldn’t do it too often though. If you are constantly giving your book away, why would anyone buy it?
How do you start your book launch process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market. What methods were the most successful?
For FRY, I had an online launch on Facebook and Goodreads. I also did some blog interviews, but not as many as I could have. Blog interviews are great, but they can also be time consuming. Unfortunately for me, the launch of FRY coincided with my son coming down with chicken pox! Luckily I hadn’t made too many commitments, so I was still able to go ahead with the activities as planned whilst nursing my son, and then my daughter who came down with it next! With FRY, I found Twitter quite useful for building anticipation for the book, and several of my Twitter followers bought the book at the launch. I will be using similar strategies with May Queen Killers, though at least I have a bit more of an audience this time.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers along with guest posts. What is your primary goal?
Self-publish bible is aimed at other writers, although I do use it to market my work too. Writing a blog has been a good way to meet other writers and share ideas and get support. It has also been a useful introduction to blogging, and has given me an idea of how much work is involved in a single post! I will be starting a new blog in July, which will be aimed at my readers. The new blog will include a free serialised story which will updated each week. It is in the planning stages at the moment and I’m really looking forward to it! I will post the details on Self Publish Bible when it’s ready.
Living in England creates a unique selling and marketing situation. Where is your biggest audience? Does marketing online help in this situation? How is your audience abroad?
Ironically, I have more American readers than British ones! Whilst I reach more British readers on Twitter, most of the big book marketing sites have a predominately American audience and of course, there are more American readers, especially of ebooks. One problem British authors face is that we are not able to gift kindle books, as you can in the US. This makes it harder for us to get our books into the hands of reviewers. I hope Amazon sort this out one day.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
To begin with, I was getting reviews through Twitter, but once I did a couple of giveaways, I found that I got lots of reviews that way. If I had more time, I would approach reviewers and ask them to review my book, but that can be very time consuming, and I feel that the reviews are coming in quite well on their own.
Author's Book List
She acts like she's your new best friend, but is she really a deadly enemy?
When Isabel Anderson nearly runs over mysterious Alicia McBride, she is ridden with guilt. She helps Alicia get a job at the supermarket where she works, and soon, Alicia is acting like her new best friend. But then strange fires start to break out all over the small seaside town of Queensbeach, including at the caravan park where Alicia is staying. Isabel suspects Alicia knows more than she's letting on and grows increasingly nervous when her friend Deacon invites Alicia to stay with him. But it's Isabel the police suspect.
Determined to confront Alicia, Isabel bursts into her room and sees the word 'FRY' branded across her back in capital letters. From then on, she sees the word "FRY' everywhere she goes: in graffiti, on toilet walls, even on car registration plates. Then her beloved cat, Fluffy, disappears and Isabel is convinced Alicia is behind it. She puts up posters all over her neighbourhood, but as fast as she puts them up, someone takes them down. Soon, a whole spate of fires is breaking out and Isabel must stay one step ahead of the flames and the police. In order to survive, she must question her own innocence, her sanity and the very fabric of her morality. Can she win back Deacon? And will she ever find Fluffy?
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