Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Marla Madison - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Marla Madison. She is the bestselling author of She's Not There.

Author Genre: Suspense, Mystery & Thrillers

Author's Blog: Marla Madison
Twitter: @MarlaAMadison
E-Mail: mam887@gmail.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Marla Madison is a retired Federal Mediator, now working as an Arbitrator for the state of Iowa and the Federal Mediation Service. She's Not There is her debut suspense novel, and Relative Malice, her second. Marla is working on a third suspense story, that while not a sequel to She's Not There, does have some of the same characters.

Marla lives on Prairie Lake in Northwestern Wisconsin with her significant other, Terry, a beloved shelter-dog, Skygge, and Poncho, an opinionated feline from the same shelter.

Also an avid reader of suspense, some of her favorite authors are Tana French, Lisa Gardner, Jeffrey Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman, James Patterson, Tess Gerritson, and Tami Hoag.

When not reading or writing, Marla enjoys playing duplicate bridge, golfing, and going on long walks with her dog.

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?

I’m in the process of wrapping up my third suspense novel, Trespass. I’ve just discovered a new editor I’m going to work with, and she’s given me a “date.” This means I’m up against a deadline now. (Which I needed!) If all goes well, Trespass will be on sale by sometime in June.

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?

My social platform was driving me wild until I read an eBook called, Blog and Tweet – How to Make a Splash Online. Now, I know it’s possible to find a book that will support any point of view on any topic, but this book spoke to me. I was frustrated by trying to do everything. I enjoy using twitter because it’s manageable and I like blogging because it allows me to speak to my audience. So this book’s advice relieved me from a lot of needless pressure. I’ve signed up and have a presence in other forums, but Twitter and my blog are my main efforts. As far as how I built them? With time, experimentation, and patience.

You have great covers. 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?

Sorry, not a short answer to this question. My first cover (since replaced!) I designed myself and hired a cover artist to interpret. She did a great job and gave me what I asked for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the book was published that I got feedback telling me it was amateurish. I turned to my son, who is a graphic artist to replace it and he designed the cover I now use for She’s Not There, my first suspense novel. I didn’t like it as much as my own, but what can I say? It was successful. So there is definitely something to be said about not trying to trust your own judgment (or your friends) alone.

I’ve learned to give the cover artist the concept I’m looking for rather than a set idea. The one I used for Relative Malice also asked for a synopsis.

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?

When I first started writing and had more time, I was active on a sight called Fanstory. It’s a great place for writers to post their work, enter contests, and get feedback from other writers and readers. Since finishing my first novel, I no longer have time for it very often, but it really helped me get going and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs inspiration and feedback. I plan on publishing some of them eventually, but I’ll need to learn how to format my own work first.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I belong to a writer’s critique group that’s been in progress for about five years now. I’d never have published my own work without their help. Every aspiring writer should join one or start their own. They are invaluable for both input and motivation!

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 done the KDP free days for both books. They are not nearly as helpful today as they were two years ago when very few authors were using them. But they are still a good way to get some income (sales go up for a while after the promo) and an excellent way to get recognition.

Goodreads giveaways don’t sell books per se, but do give your book visibility with a lot of readers and reviewers. I’ve become somewhat disenchanted with them, though. Lately, after the giveaway is over, I get too many people “begging” me to send them a copy even though they didn’t win a copy.

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?

Book launches on Facebook, Blog Hops and things like that are used by many authors. I haven’t, so can’t really say if they help. For me, the most successful thing has been using the KDP free days and Countdown, coupled with advertising on sites that attract people who buy eBooks. It’s hard to recommend any specific ones, since their effectiveness seems to wax and wane over time. What works today, may not tomorrow.

For me new book, I will stay with my favorites: announcements on Twitter and my blog then do promotions on the other two books that will spill over and introduce people to the new one. Having multiple publications in a given genre is probably the best advertising.

You have a great blog. I liked the post ‘Reading and Writing are Fattening’. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve had to limit my social media. I have a good twitter following now, so except for sharing retweets with people I’ve established reciprocation with, I’m not as active as I used to be. I use Gremlin for recurring tweets which is a big timesaver.

My blog is only new every two weeks now, down from weekly. I started out using it to give pointers and lament on my ongoing fight with my weight. Since then it’s become more about writing. I enjoy hearing from other writers. For me, a blog is one more way to build a following and practice your writing.

Time is always a problem because I also love to read, golf, play bridge, watch TV and go walking with my dog. But I’m retired from full time work, and my arbitration work is sporadic, so I usually can spare time every day for writing.

Oh, one thing I’m rather proud of—I finally gave up Spider Solitaire—cold turkey.

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?

For the most part, I depend on the things I’ve already discussed. My early reviews tend to be from friends and acquaintances. I get the most when I do free promotions.

When I first introduced Relative Malice, my second book, I used Book Rooster, which is a service that guarantees you ten reviews for about $67. They send your book to reviewers who enjoy your genre. I was fortunate to get more than the minimum amount and also that the reviewers loved the book. They can’t guarantee what kind of reviews you get! It’s a great way to get some when starting out. I plan to use it again for the new book.

After reviewing your information, I had to include this picture. It tells it all. What are Skygge and Poncho thinking and dreaming? If only they could write a book.

Pets are so wonderful! Both of ours came from a local shelter and they are the best of friends most of the time, and are our beloved “children.” Poncho, the cat, loves his dog. Skygge is good with the cat, but sometimes just seems to tolerate him. Poncho, of course, is in charge of all of us in typical cat fashion.

Author's Book List
Relative Malice
When four family members are found dead after a home invasion, Detective Kendall Halsrud takes charge of the case. In the murder house, she discovers an empty crib with blood drops next to it on the wood floor. The family: a father, mother, teenage daughter, and young son have been fatally shot . . . but where is baby Philly?

The desperate search to find the child derails when a man is arrested for murdering the family and claims to have killed the baby. Suspecting he had an accomplice, Kendall isn’t convinced. Refusing to give up on finding the child, Kendall persists in unearthing the family’s secrets. With the help of a hacker turned spurious fortune-teller and a former cop hired by the missing baby’s uncle, she discovers a furtive pedophile ring is planning on buying and sharing a baby. Can she stop them while there's time to save Philly?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
She's Not There
Women are missing . . .

Is the rising number of abused women who've gone missing a statistical anomaly? Or is a serial killer targeting this vulnerable group of women? When the Milwaukee Police Department refuses to investigate because no bodies have been discovered, Lisa Rayburn, the clinical psychologist who discovers the anomaly, is drawn into an investigation to discover the cause after one of her own clients goes missing. She finds herself forming an unlikely alliance with a former policewoman turned security consultant, TJ Peacock, and the husbands of two of the missing women who may themselves be murderers.

When TJ is attacked, and a woman looking remarkably like Lisa is found murdered, they know . . . someone is willing to kill to protect his secret.

Can they reveal the killer before he gets to them?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

1 comment:

  1. Great interview, Marla! Can't wait to read Trespass!