For Mystery Writers

Writing is bliss. Turning it into a career is hard. What makes it easier–even possible–are other writers. Beyond creative companionship, writers help each other in a multitude of practical ways: providing feedback on manuscripts, critiquing queries and book blurbs, assisting with marketing, setting up useful workshops and conferences, offering advice and mentorship, etc. The list is astonishingly long, the hearts behind it huge.

Because of my academic background and mindset, I’m drawn to problem solving and research. When I became a member of various author organizations, I noticed certain questions and issues kept popping up on forums. So, I started writing articles as my service to our mystery writing community. In turn, my ability to do so is rendered possible by the generosity of busy industry professionals who lend their time and expertise to patiently answer my questions.

I’ve posted a few of my articles here. They were originally published in the Guppy e-newletter, First Draft, a font of practical wisdom, btw, exclusively available to members of this Sisters in Crime’s Chapter. My hope is you find information below that makes your author’s journey a little smoother and sweeter. Bon voyage!

Professional Etiquette

I decided to write an article on professional etiquette after seeing writers beg colleagues for guidance with serious problems, the kind that can derail a career. For instance, what should you do when your agent ghosts you? How can you peacefully negotiate revisions with your in-house editor when you disagree?

Knowledge is power. I turned to experts in these areas–three top agents and three acclaimed editors from MIRA, Crooked Lane, and the freelance field–to learn how an author can build a solid relationship with their publishing advocates and allies and what to do when tensions arise. Without further ado, here’s Part I: Agents and Editors. (Disclaimer: this article was published in 2021, and its information might not reflect current practices.)

Fan conventions play a major role in marketing and networking for many. (And they’re a lot of fun to boot.) Consequently, questions about them abound on listservs. How can you land a coveted invite to their panels? And what makes a positive impression on fellow authors and readers?

As it turns out, my dears, professional etiquette rises to the foreground again. In Part II, Fan Conventions, mystery convention chairs, perennial panel favorites, and book bloggers provide tips to help make you an all-round hit! (Disclaimer: this article was published in 2021, and its information might not reflect current practices.)

The evolution of writing devices

The article on mystery book bloggers is one of my favorites, mainly because the individuals I interviewed were such a delight! For those not in the know, such bloggers are our cyberspace champions, dedicating an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and often money to share their infectious love of mysteries with the world.

They’re treasured members of our crime fiction community. And since bloggers’ followers listen to their advice, they yield considerable marketing clout. I wanted to know more, including how writers should approach them for those coveted book reviews. Well, this was my quest’s original goal, but, as always, the voyage took me to a slightly different destination. I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I did writing it. (Disclaimer: the article was published in 2018, and its information might not reflect current practices.)

Writing evolution

The first interview I carried out for First Draft was with the founder and Director of Hallmark‘s brand-spanking-new publishing division, Stacey Donovan. My objective was to find out how mystery writers should submit their manuscripts–independently or through an agent–and garner tips to help them succeed. I was nervous and inexperienced; she was kind and professional. This positive expedience fueled my courage to carry on writing these pieces.

From conversations online, I know many of you aspire to be published by Hallmark and see your fictional world on the small screen (chills all round!). Since I’m in the business of encouraging others’ dreams, here, my dears, is a little wind beneath your wings. (Disclaimer: the article was published in 2018, and its information might not reflect current practices.)