The Mesdames of Mayhem are coming up to their first anniversary so I thought it was timely to reprint my guest blog from Mme Rosemary McCracken’s website. What’s even more exciting is that Rosemary’s story, The Sweetheart Scamster, is a finalist for this year’s Derringer award! And Mme Mel Campbell’s novella, The Goddaughter’s Revenge, is a finalist in the novella category.
As we all know, the publishing business is going through a seismic shift. Digital books are the future and we must embrace them or disappear. The new age of publishing is both liberating and terrifying. We have the freedom to publish our own books, but we can also sink without a trace in an ocean of indie authors.
As former management consultant, I’ve learned the immense power of team work. Teams accomplish far more than individuals. And to master our new environment, what better way than to find out by doing?
For many years I’ve belonged to two vibrant writing critique groups. Together we are fifteen established crime writers and editors, many of us winners or finalists of prestigious awards like the Edgar, the Arthur, the Debut Dagger and the Bony Pete. I asked myself, what if we authors banded together? What if we promoted our own work and the work of our friends? That way we’d tap into our own network and the networks of fourteen other women. And we’d have fifteen times the knowledge, experience and support to draw on.
I floated the idea by my friends – and they loved it! And so The Mesdames of Mayhem were born. In short order, we had our own website, Facebook page and Twitter account. And thanks to artist, Sara Carrick, we have a distinctive brand.
Our anthology, Thirteen, is a collection of crime stories by thirteen of the Mesdames. Its main purpose is to showcase our writing. In one book, readers get a chance to sample the writing of thirteen writers – and the links to their websites and other books.
Thirteen also built us as a team. Nothing focuses a team as much as a goal and deadline. And nothing rewards a team as much as a tangible product at the end.
We decided to produce Thirteen in both digital and print form. In that way we became, what The Writers Union of Canada calls “hybrid authors”. For practical reasons, our e-book was published first.
Marketing a digital book is entirely different from a print book. To generate sales, you must cause ripples in cyberspace. The cyber launch for Thirteen sold books to readers all over North America. For a time, it was Number Two on Amazon’s best seller list for mystery anthologies. Another strategy that continues to work well is a sale – a deeply discounted price that Amazon allows us every few months.
With regard to the print edition of Thirteen, we’ve had excellent support from book stores, cafes and libraries. Our print launch at Sleuth of Baker Street was a huge success. What has been especially exciting are the joint ventures with community theatre. We promoted two mystery plays through our members and website – and the companies arranged for us to sell Thirteen and our books at the theatre.
It’s been quite a ride and we have many readings at libraries and book clubs to look forward to. And the Arthur Awards Shortlist Event is coming up on April 24th – fingers crossed! Check our website for updates!