Monday, March 29, 2010

MY FIRST INKSPOT BLOG POST


Hello, readers of the InkSpot blog! My name is Lois Winston, and I’m one of the newest Midnight Ink authors. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, will debut in January, but I’m not a debut author. I’ve previously published two other novels, and although one is a humorous women’s fiction and the other a romantic suspense, all of my books have a common thread -- crafts.

This wasn’t a conscious effort on my part to "brand" myself but stemmed from that old adage, write what you know. I know crafts. So when the writing bug bit and I needed to give my characters professions, it was a lot easier to give them professions I knew inside-out than do a ton of research about rocket scientists, belly dancers, or entomologists.

After I sold my first book, I started hearing about platform. It’s a buzz word that’s been around in non-fiction forever but has also crept into fiction over the last few years. Authors are told they need a platform for marketing purposes. Kind of reminds me of that song from the musical Gypsy where the strippers sing about how you’ve got to have a gimmick. We all need some platform or gimmick to make our books stand out from all the other books vying for shelf space and sales. So I thought quite a bit about platform -- or gimmick -- after I sold Talk Gertie To Me.

My background is in design -- crafts design to be specific. You know those needlework and craft projects you see in magazines and in kit form at chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby? I’ve designed many of them. My books often draw upon my design experience. In Talk Gertie To Me one of the two main characters is a kinder, gentler version of Martha Stewart. In Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception my heroine is a needle artist and doll maker.

So when I was thinking in terms of publicity for my books, I thought about my connections in the crafts industry. Was there some way I could use those connections to promote my books? So as each book came out, I sent press releases and copies of the books to industry people I’ve worked with over the years.

The response was overwhelming. My books have been profiled in an industry newsletter that goes out to thousands of retailers, manufacturers, and buyers. One magazine ran a review, along with the cover of Talk Gertie To Me, in their New Products column. My books were used as props at an international trade show and in a manufacturer’s catalog distributed to tens of thousands of retailers, buyers, and consumers worldwide. That catalog page resulted in one book going into a second printing.

Few of us will ever have a book that becomes an Oprah pick or winds up featured in People or excerpted in Cosmo. However, through niche marketing we can generate a good deal of publicity and sales if we learn to think outside the box.

And that brings me back to the series I’ve sold to Midnight Ink. I stuck with what I know best. Anastasia, my amateur sleuth, is the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. As you can imagine from the title, a glue gun -- Anastasia’s glue gun, to be exact -- plays a pivotal role in the first book.

Later this spring, I’ll be ramping up my crafts platform by launching a blog, but it won’t be “my” blog; it will be Anastasia’s blog. Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers will feature “posts” by Anastasia and the other “editors” at American Woman magazine, as well as guest mystery authors every Friday. I’ll have simple craft and decorating projects, travel and fashion tips, recipes, and much more. Anastasia, the other “editors,” and I are all very excited about this blog. I hope it will be a fun place where you’ll enjoy hanging out. Look for the launch announcement here at InkSpot later this spring.


16 comments:

Lisa Bork said...

Lois, sounds like you've got some fabulous promotion ideas! Congratulations on your new series and welcome to Inkspot.

Pablo said...

Have you looked into swap-bot.com? It's a site for trading crafts, and it's hugely popular. You may be able to extend your platform into that area as well.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Welcome to Inkspot, Lois! Your new series sounds like a lot of fun and you're really on top of the promoting! Congratulations.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

G.M. Malliet said...

Welcome aboard, Lois!

Dru said...

Lois,

It is nice to meet you and I love discovering new-to-me authors and have added your books to my ever growing book database.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Welcome, Lois. Put down the glue gun and no one gets hurt...

Alan Orloff said...

Welcome to the bloggy group, Lois! Sounds like you've got a crafty promotion strategy all worked out.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for the welcome, everyone! And Pablo, thanks for the info on swap-bot. I'll look into it.

Cricket McRae said...

Welcome, Lois, and congrats on your crafty series! And I'm looking forward to checking out Anastasia's blog.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Welcome! I look forward to reading book 1, and to the blog as well. You've got some great ideas.

M Pax said...

Ah yes, the platform thing. :) Sounds like you found yours.

Look forward to trying one of your books. All success to you, Lois.

Beth Groundwater said...

Welcome to Inkspot, Lois, and what clever promotion ideas you have!

Shel said...

Nice to meet you, Lois! I'm looking forward to your new series! Like Dru, I've added the titles to my ever increasing "series to pick up" list.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much to those of you who have left welcomes after I thanked people yesterday. And thank you to those who mentioned they were looking forward to reading my book once it comes out. I've been working my way through a pile of Midnight Ink authors' books I've purchased lately.

Deborah Sharp said...

Welcome, Lois! Let's share a drink at the next conference so I can fill you in on the schizophrenia that ensues when writing a blog in your character's voice. Hope you're more diligent than I am with my (Mama's?See what I mean?) ''Ask Mama'' advice blog.

Lois Winston said...

Sounds like a plan, Deborah. The next conference I plan to attend is RWA in July. Will you be there?