Michael Haskins

Monday, May 7, 2007

SleuthFest: Poolside Friday evening

By 6 p.m. some SleuthFest participants were headed to South Beach for an evening of expensive drinks and food. Others, like me, stuck around the hotel pool bar and enjoyed the company of new and old friends. Drinks at the pool bar were expesive enough.

John Helfers, from Five Star/Tekno Books, joined me. He drank something with rum in it and I had a Guinness. Not exactly tropical, but it's my preferred beer.

I asked John some questions I had, after hearing the three publishers talk. Sadly, he agreed with what they had to say, especially when it came to the sale of books. Yes, he assured me, small publishers depend heavily on writers to sell their books. He listed what Five Star does, including where the book is sent for interviews. It was an impress list. However, (ain’t there always an however?) it is up to the author to get the word out to the bookstores. Some stores may stock the book because of a good review, but don’t count on it, he said.

Five Star does send out its brochure to bookstores, but new authors can be overlooked, he said.

John also writes SiFi mysteries and is working on deadline for his book. So, he had an understanding of my concerns, sort of.

Five Star would look at the sales of “Chasin’ the Wind” before deciding on my next book. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but at least it was an honest answer to my question.

John asked me if I had a marketing plan. I said, kinda. I hope to sell the book at a couple of bars in Key West. When you read "Chasin' the Win," you will see I tried to be faithful to the businesses in town, especially those along Duval Street. I did this because many of you are visitors to the island and I wanted it obvious that I was including the island as a character in the novel. I am also working on a booksigning tour of Florida and Southern California. I hope it works out. I expect the book will be sold at the Hog's Breath Saloon and, hopefully, on its website:www.hogsbreath.com.

John also said he was pretty sure my book would be out in early February '08. I guess that puts me out touring in March. I will remind you later about calling your local bookstore to ask them to carry the book and to invite the author in to sign it. Waiting is hell, but I am half through with the second Mad Mick Murphy Mystery in the series.

Christine Kling, whose current book, "Wreckers' Key," takes place in the Florida Keys, joined us at our table, as did Nancy Cohen, John M. Taylor, "Flash of Emerald," and a couple of other writers and fans. Please Google these writers and discover some very different authors.

John Helfers excused himself after one drink. He was on deadline, he reminded me. I stuck around for another Guinness and some shop talk.

What I had come away with, so far, is that writing "Chasin' the Wind" was the easy part, getting it published was difficult, getting copies into bookstores a lot more difficult and selling copies a real challenge.

I had more to learn on Saturday.

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