Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Mystery Author Emma Jameson. She is the NYT bestselling author of the Lord & Lady Hetheridge series and the Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries.
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Emma Jameson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Lord & Lady Hetheridge cozy mystery series. Book #1, ICE BLUE, Book #2, BLUE MURDER, and Book #3, SOMETHING BLUE, are available now.
She is also the author of MARRIAGE CAN BE MURDER, the first book in a new series set in wartime Cornwall. She is at work on Lord & Lady Hetheridge book #4, BLACK & BLUE, and also DIVORCE CAN BE DEADLY, the second mystery starring Dr. Benjamin Bones.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: Black & Blue. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have a trilogy on the horizon called All Our Yesterdays. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Oh, I like this question! First, let me say, I love writing cozy mysteries, and have no desire to stop. I plan on writing the Hetheridge books until I croak (how’s that for definitive?) and the Bones books have only just begun. But All Our Yesterdays is a project dear to my heart.
When I wrote it the first time, many moons ago, I was still a developing writer, learning my craft. Also, the market was different—a story about reincarnation featuring characters with special abilities was niche, not really sci-fi but not really fantasy, and supposedly of no interest to mainstream readers. But now, believable human dramas with fantasy or alternate-reality components like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are mainstream. As for a little tease:
All Our Yesterdays is about five strangers, drawn together by murder and bound tight by the realization they are old souls. In the glittering ballrooms and exclusive clubs of 1870s London, they lived, loved, fought, and died, destroyed by a clandestine society’s cruel patriarch. But one woman took a secret to her grave. Now fate has brought back all five friends to do what their Victorian counterparts couldn’t—if they can reconstruct enough of their past lives to discover what went wrong the first time.
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?
I enjoy interacting with readers on Facebook, and I think many new readers have discovered me through my Facebook fan page. On Twitter, I’ve interacted with perhaps ten separate readers since day one. My hypothesis is, cozy mystery readers generally don’t use Twitter to discover new authors or fatten their TBR list. They use it to converse, have fun, and post reactions to current events. So now that’s how I use Twitter. I post pretty pictures, I live tweet my favorite shows, and I retweet fun stuff and interesting links. That makes my Twitter following organic, and greatly simplifies my book launch process: I send out one tweet when I have a new release. Seriously, just one. Then it’s back to Cornwall and Black Sails. By contrast, I post lots of book promos on Facebook, along with previews and giveaways, because on that platform, they get a strong response.
Do you do any 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?
I am open to book signings if the demand is there. I’ve always been mostly an ebook author, and while I still love and respect the print aspect of the industry, it’s a new and mostly digital world.
Throughout college, I worked in a bookstore, and even then, book signings were rare and only drew crowds when the author was a celebrity. Think Stephen King, or Kim Kardashian. Lesser known writers, or nonfiction authors who lacked personal notoriety, tended to sit alone at the signing table for hours. And this was twenty years ago! Now almost all my local bookstores have disappeared.
However, I am easy to contact online. Readers can follow or friend me on
and/or like my
fan page. They can sign up for my
or email me directly at email@example.com.
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?
Thank you very much! I am fairly hands-on. That said, I have an open mind, and once or twice my cover artist [https://www.facebook.com/J-David-Peterson-198013970253698/] has pitched an idea and I’ve enthusiastically agreed. Other times, as with the upcoming covers for the AOY trilogy, I located the images and dictated precisely what I wanted. I’ve never asked readers to get involved, but I might someday. It’s good to gather as much feedback as possible.
Most of your novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
The audiobooks are a relatively new segment of my business, and I’m very pleased with the public’s reaction to the reader, Matthew Lloyd Davies
[http://www.matthewlloyddavies.com/]. He’s enormously talented and has a genius for making every character sound both distinct and compelling. I do think I’ve gained many new readers, people who bought one of my audios out of loyalty to him and found themselves enjoying the story as much as his performance.
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 never tried the free approach. However, I know several authors who have, with remarkable results. Usually they are highly prolific, with a catalog of twenty or more titles, and they give away book #1 (or a bundled “starter kit”) to introduce new readers to a long-running series.
As for giveaways, I’ve done many, and plan on more in the future. Gift cards and ereaders are perennially popular for the general public. In an open-ended giveaway, my main goal is to introduce myself to potential readers. For my mailing list subscribers, it’s a different goal: to give something back to the people who read and enjoy my books. Via the mailing list, I give away several prizes each year. Most recently it was over 1oo digital downloads of my audiobooks.
I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels called Deadly Trio: 3 English Mysteries: Ice Blue, Blue Murder, Something Blue. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?
The bundle is possibly the best thing I ever did for my career, because it allowed me to reach a lot of readers who’d never heard of me. It also put me on the New York Times bestseller list, no. 19 in ebook bestsellers, on July 13, 2014. I think that bundle had a lot to do with the success of Marriage Can Be Murder and Black & Blue. A host of new readers were waiting for follow-ups, thanks to the bundle.
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 a mailing list, but it’s very laid back. I email subscribers only when I have an important update, a new release, or a giveaway. That amounts to 6-8 times a year, tops. I love it when readers interact with me, but I’m a little shy about reaching out to them. My preferred way of creating a relationship is to offer a new book, and I only wish I could write them faster.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and helping other writers gain exposure. 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?
When I started my digital publishing adventure in 2011, every indie writer had a blog. Blogs were considered essential, and authors were advised to post at least twice a week. But my Achilles’ heel is, I’m not a quick writer. In fact, I routinely thank heaven for George R. R. Martin, who is infamously slower than I am. Writing a book is a lengthy, labor-intensive process for me, and generally the lighter and more effortless a piece of my writing seems, the longer it took me to get there. Tossing off blog posts is easy, perhaps too easy, and sometimes it irritates my readers. They wonder, “Why is she posting this stuff when her next book is overdue?” So I tend to blog only sporadically when I’m very late on a book.
As for social media, it’s easy, thanks to the magic of iPhones. In line at the supermarket I can check Facebook and answer a reader’s question. At the hairdresser’s, I can tweet cute cat pictures. In the doctor’s waiting room, I can even craft a blog post. All these things are easily done on the fly. But unfortunately, it can give the impression that I am glued to social media instead of writing, since the books are released so slowly. But for me, a certain amount of writing is literally letting a manuscript sit, untouched, while I ponder how to improve it. That’s the strange, unsexy truth. I can’t power my way through finishing a novel the way I could stock books at double speed in the book store, or ring up a line of customers with grim efficiency. Writing just doesn’t work that way for me. So while I am letting a manuscript sit—while I’m pondering—I check on the social media stuff, and feel guilty when readers scold me for too many cat pictures in one day.
You have published one of your books in German. How is your audience abroad? Does marketing online help in this situation? Do you plan on converting more to another language?
Germany is a promising new market. I’m happy with my sales for the German translation of Ice Blue, which is called Eisblau. However, since I don’t speak or read German, all marketing is handled by my German-language publisher, Amazon Crossing. I find them lovely to work with, and I hope we’ll partner in the future for more translations.
Author's Book List
Marriage Can Be Murder
- Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries Book 1
Murder in Haunted Cornwall
On the eve of World War II, Dr. Benjamin Bones is at war with himself. While most young men are being sent away to fight the Germans, Ben is chosen to serve on English soil. Ordered to move to wild, beautiful Cornwall, he must trade his posh London office and stylish city life for the tiny village of Birdswing, population 1,221 souls. But leaving his home and shelving his career ambitions aren't the only sacrifices facing Ben. His unfaithful wife, Penny, is accompanying him to Cornwall in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. But moments after their arrival, Penny is run down in the street, and Ben is almost fatally injured. And while the villagers assume Penny's death to be an accident, Ben quickly deduces it was murder.
As he convalesces in Fenton House, which the locals call haunted, Ben meets Birdswing's eccentric inhabitants. Mr. Gaston, the volunteer air warden, obsessed with defending his remote village against Nazi spies; Mrs. Cobblepot, a thoroughly practical housekeeper who believes in fairies; and Lady Juliet Linton, a prickly, headstrong aristocrat who won't take no for an answer. While adapting to life during Britain's "War at Home," a time of ration books, victory gardens, bomb shelters, and the Blackout, Ben sets about solving the mystery of Penny's murder--with a little help from Lady Juliet and the Fenton House ghost.
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Black & Blue
- Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mystery Series Book 4
MURDER IN MAYFAIR
Modern art dealer Granville Hardwick has a way with people -- a way of making them wish he were dead. His London gallery is filled with works of questionable merit, his dating pool consists of other men's wives, and his home is the eyesore of a fine old neighborhood. The neighborhood of Scotland Yard's Chief Superintendent Tony Hetheridge, as a matter of fact. So when Hardwick turns up dead, bashed on the head by a rather tasteless reproduction, it's Hetheridge and his new bride, Kate, who embark on solving the case.
LORD & LADY HETHERIDGE
When he married Kate, Tony expected things to be different. But with Kate's ne'er-do-well relatives making trouble on the home front, and his own enemies attacking from within Scotland Yard, the case of the dead art dealer and three unfaithful wives might do more than change Mayfair. It might change Lord and Lady Hetheridge forever.
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- Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mystery Series Book 3
Anthony Hetheridge, ninth baron of Wellegrave and chief superintendent for Scotland Yard, will marry Kate Wakefield in three weeks. It's inevitable--the invitations are out, the flowers are ordered, the cake is chosen. But murder waits for no man, and no wedding.
In London's prestigious West End, a disgraced CEO has been murdered at Hotel Nonpareil, an exclusive destination. No one, it seems, liked Michael Martin Hughes. Not his estranged wife, Thora, or his defiant son, Griffin. Not Hotel Nonpareil's manager, its head of security, or perhaps even the two most important women in Hughes's life: his future bride, Arianna, or his secret girlfriend, Riley. And before Hughes died, he incurred the wrath of none other than Sir Duncan Godington, longtime nemesis of both CS Hetheridge and DS Paul Bhar.
Hetheridge, Kate, and Bhar find themselves under tremendous pressure to uncover the killer as fast as possible. Have Scotland Yard and Downing Street lost confidence in Hetheridge? Find out as you return to the world of Ice Blue and Blue Murder in Something Blue, the third in the New York Times bestselling Lord & Lady Hetheridge mystery series.
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- Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mystery Series Book 2
Two Dead Men
In London’s fashionable Chelsea, a Halloween bash goes terribly wrong. Emmeline Wardle, daughter of a frozen foods baron, throws a party which results in the demise of two university schoolmates. Handsome golden boy Trevor Parsons is dead. So is pasty computer nerd Clive French. Both died on the Wardle estate within minutes of one another, and both died the same way – an axe to the skull. Given the social connections of all involved, New Scotland Yard sends a real baron to investigate: Chief Superintendent Anthony Hetheridge, also known as Lord Hetheridge, ninth baron of Wellegrave.
Two Prime Suspects
This time around, Detective Sergeant Kate Wakefield and her partner, Detective Sergeant Deepal “Paul” Bhar, have their work cut out. Bhar must contend with Emmeline Wardle, a spoiled blonde with a penchant for the finer things, including a certain illegal white powder. Kate must decide if Kyla Sloane, model-pretty and delicate, is being truthful about the events of that fateful night. And if Kyla’s connection to a former lover of Bhar’s means nothing – or everything.
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- Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mystery Series Book 1
Anthony Hetheridge, ninth Baron of Wellegrave, Chief Superintendent for New Scotland Yard, never married, no children, no pets, no hobbies, and not even an interesting vice, will turn sixty in three weeks. With the exception of his chosen career, too sordid for his blue-blooded family to condone, his life has been safe and predictable. But then he meets Detective Sergeant Kate Wakefield – beautiful, willful, and nearly half his age. When Hetheridge saves the outspoken, impetuous young detective from getting the sack, siding with her against Scotland Yard’s powerful male hierarchy, his cold, elegantly balanced world spins out of control. Summoned to London’s fashionable Belgravia to investigate the brutal murder of a financier, Hetheridge must catch the killer while coping with his growing attraction to Kate, the reappearance of an old flame, and the secret that emerges from his own past.
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