Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Leslie Kohler. She is a mystery writer with a Southern border flavor.
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Leslie Kohler is the author of DISPOSABLE LIVES, a fun-packed read filled with Cocktails, Con Men, Conspiracy! Slip into the secret society of the Travellers, modern day gypsies who will stop at nothing to win their deadly con games.
She also authored SINS OF THE BORDER--Martinis, Men, Murder! A fast-paced story that weaves the reader through Arizona's high society to the fringes the Mexican border.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
My next book is “Uninsured Lives” which is scheduled to be released this summer. It’s a sequel to “Disposable Lives” in which Maggie Leman finds herself entwined in another web of murder and deception. Upper crust Newport Beach, and more importantly, Maggie, are still reeling from the red blood of the Travellers mixed with the sinister blue bloods of the town, when a shady character from Detroit insinuates his way into this upper crust town—and into Maggie’s life. When business executives start getting knocked off, Maggie questions what’s going on in her fairy tale haven, and if she’ll ever feel safe again. And whether one’s life can ever be assured—or insured.
You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?
Because I started out as a self-published author, social media has been huge for me. I run posts as teasers to my upcoming books, so when they’re released, readers are waiting for them. I also use social media, through book excerpts and posts about things such as the book settings or the designer clothes my characters wear, to inform my audience as to what they can expect when they purchase my books. I have fun with social media, and post not only through my Facebook author site, but on my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts to let my followers know the fun and often goofy things I’m up to. After all, my protagonists are somewhat fashioned after me.
You do podcasts, book signings, interviews, 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?
Because of my busy work schedule as a special education teacher, I haven’t done as many appearances with “Disposable Lives” as I did with “Sins of the Border.” After “Sins of the Border was released, I had an author pod cast, in which I’d promote fellow authors, along, of course, with myself. It was fun. And I had several book signings in bookstores. But with the closings of so many bookstores it’s more difficult now to find signing venues. I do plan on pursuing more cyber interviews, as this will allow me time to focus both on promoting my books and doing the best job I can for my students.
Since my author website is in the process of being reconstructed, the best place to keep up with my activity is through social media. But I hope to have my site revamped and ready to go soon!
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
When “Sins of the Border” was in conception, I was fortunate that my publisher created what I believe is a compelling cover. I’ve received a lot of good feedback on it. After “Disposable Lives” was released, I was not happy with the end result of the book’s cover. Fortunately, I was acquired by a new publisher, Aquitaine Ltd., and they connected me with a fabulous graphic artist, Jane Dixon at JD Smith Designs, who specializes in covers for novels. Even though “Sins of the Border” and “Disposable lives” are not connected as a series, they’re written in the same genre—soft boiled mysteries with a female twist. The artist created a cover for “Disposable Lives” that would loosely connect these two books and brand me as a certain author. I discussed with her that I was looking for a style like “Sins of the Border,” but asked her to specifically put an apple that had been bitten into, as the protagonist, Maggie, feels evil has seeped into her fairy tale life from a poison apple—like Snow White.
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?
Short stories give the reader a sample of one’s writing style and ability. Because you can do various deals on Amazon with them, such as free giveaways, they’re a good marketing tool. I began writing short stories for the youth market when my children were young, as that was a genre I related to as a mother. When I moved into writing mysteries, I didn’t write as many short stories as I’d like to have had the time to do, but every novel begins with the seed of a short story.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a short story collection called So West, So Wild, published by Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other mystery authors? How did you put something like that together?
I love being part of my mystery group, Desert Sleuths-Sisters in Crime. And I’m honored to be included in So West, So Wild. The great thing about being published in this anthology is when the group schedules appearances and signings, I not only help sign and sell So West, So Wild, I have the opportunity to market my own novels. This is huge, and I’m grateful for Sisters in Crime for giving me these opportunities.
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 haven’t done online promotions to give away my traditional books for free. But this is something I’d like to do in the future, as I have author friends that do these types of promotions and I see the great buzz they receive. I have done free Kindle and discounted promotions and have seen a spike in sales—always a good thing. And of course, if a reader downloads your book for free and enjoys it, the chances that they will buy your next book is almost certain.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
I have to admit this is probably my biggest downfall. I’m not the most tech savvy, organized person in the world, so I haven’t been diligent in creating an extensive reader list. This is another item I intend to put on “my list.” As I mentioned, I do promote my books through social media and networking through my Sisters in Crime group. I’m also armed with bookmarks and business cards for my books, so when I’m out and about and I strike up a conversation about writing with someone who enjoys mysteries, I can pass one along. It’s amazing how one can discover and engage a mystery reader just by chatting with them at a restaurant or a casual wine tasting.
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?
I rely on all of these. It’s nice to have a few professional reviews, which I do seek out, but you want the vast majority of your reviews to come from your readers.
This year’s Tucson Festival of Books was a great event, enjoyed by thousands. A Book festival is a unique selling situation. How did you prepare for the festival? Did it meet your goals? If you had to do something different next year, what would that be?
I love Tucson Festival of Books. I’ve always done well there. The people who attend are avid readers and are there to buy books—and not just from best-selling authors. To prepare for the festival, I obviously try to anticipate how many books, bookmarks, and business cards I will need. I don’t want to haul my entire load to Tucson, but do want to have enough to sell.
More importantly, I get myself mentally prepared. Meaning, how can I describe by books in a thirty second elevator speech? How do I make my books stand out from the crowd and say, “Buy me?” I need to have a crisp, effective presentation. But I also want to not over-do it and make sure I connect with potential readers on a personal basis. This is probably the most rewarding aspect of being an author.
Next year? I will have the sequel to “Disposable Lives,” titled “Uninsured Lives,” ready to sell!
Author's Book List
Slip into the secret society of the Travellers, modern day gypsies who will stop at nothing to win their deadly con games.
Maggie Leman leads a fairytale life in California’s Newport Beach. But when cheating golfer husbands from her Club get knocked off, along with the Travellers muscling into Newport Beach society, Maggie fears she’s bitten into a poison apple, spewing its venom into her life. To stop this deadly flow, Maggie, ex-marketing exec, now Country Club Mom, launches an investigation into these sordid affairs. What she finds is shocking. It appears Newport blue blood is tinged with red. Does this deadly tide bleed from the Travellers? Or from the upper crust of societal elite?
Worse, can Maggie stop this deadly flow…or will her questions make her the next victim?
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- A Short Story
Roberto’s father dreams of leaving behind his back-breaking life in Mexico to build a better life in the United States-for himself, and more importantly, his family. During his journey to the US he’s abandoned, left in the desert to perish. Now it’s up to Roberto to fill his his father’s boots-not only to provide for his family, but to fulfill his father’s dreams.
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SHADOW OF DARKNESS
- A Short Story
Growing up within the shadow of the notorious Folsom Prison, young Melissa always felt she was being haunted. But when she comes face-to-face with an escaped murderer, she funnels her fear of the compound to give her the strength to survive.
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Sins of the Border
"When a beloved local artist, known for her efforts to aid Hispanic illegal immigrants, is brutally murdered, Lila Morrison, newspaper reporter turned suburban housewife, finds her world turned upside down. After all, this is Scottsdale, Arizona--a desert oasis where tourists come to lie by the pool and soak up the sun. It’s not the type of place you’d expect to find murder--and cheating spouses. And what’s more shocking is the fact that Lila’s best friend is pinpointed as the number one suspect. Determined to clear her pal, Lila dusts off her press pass and sets out to find the culprit.
Sins of the Border is a fast-paced read that takes its readers through the social echelons of Scottsdale, to the fringes of a violent, vigilante border group. Lila goes head-to-head with the hunky but hard-headed Detective Garcia, who is none too happy with her snooping. She pushes ahead using her savvy investigative skills, along with advice from her three feisty girlfriends over flavored martinis, to follow the bloody murder trail.
Will Lila find the murderer before her friend is shipped off to prison in designer jailhouse duds? Or worse, will the killer find Lila first?"
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