Today we're fortunate to have writer Misa Ramirez, aka Melissa Bourbon, return to the Lair.
Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox with Turquoise Morning Press.
Please give Misa a hearty welcome.
Lucille Ball famously said, “If you need something done, ask a busy person.” I embody that quote and all that it means.
Let me start with this background info: I’m a wife. I’m a mother of 5 kids, aged 8-18. I teach online classes. I teach at a local university. I’m on the board of my kids’ elementary school’s PTA. I’m creating the yearbook for that school. Just me, no help (how did that happen, anyway?). I run Books on the House (http://booksonthehouse.com/) I co-founded The Naked Hero (http://thenakedhero.com/) I co-founded The Writer’s Guide to ePublishing (http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/) I write. I’m the Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing. I’m sure there’s more, I just can’t think of it right now.
The bottom line? Writing is my passion. I am a former middle school and high school teacher, and, as I said, I still teach online with Savvy Authors, RWA, and at Southern Methodist University’s Cape Creative Writing program. Teaching, I think, is in my blood and always will be. But slowly, my passion for writing has taken over a huge part of my life. It’s what I do. It’s become a large part of my self-identity, and I love every bit of it. Mostly, I love the actual process of writing.
A Deadly Curse, my newest romantic suspense, is based on the Mexican legend of la Llorona. I love this book. A reader recently called it “chilling” and another said, “This is a creepy book, in the very best sense of the word...a fast-paced story with a surprise twist at the end that I, at least, didn't see coming. Highly recommended!”
Here's the blurb on A Deadly Curse:
Most people think the Spanish legend of la Llorona, a woman who killed her children to be with the man she loved, is just a story. High school teacher, Johanna Rios, knows the truth. A descendant of la Llorona’s one surviving child, Joanna’s mother fell victim to the curse, drowning as she tried to kill Johanna and her sister Carmen. When one of Johanna’s former students, dressed in a white peasant dress like the crying woman herself, turns up drowned in the San Julio River, Johanna’s world turns upside down.
The curse is back.
Single father Ray Vargas is filled with guilt. His daughter’s friend, a former student from the high school where he’s principal, is dead and he could have prevented it. When Johanna Rios, one of his teachers, reveals her obsession with la Llorona and thinks three more people will die, each one representing a different version of the crying woman’s story, he will do whatever it takes to stop the killings from happening.
But with danger closing in and his own daughter at risk, Ray must join forces with Johanna to confront the legend, the curse, and the man behind the killings.
The second book, A Deadly Sacrifice (chupacabras, ranchers, and a curandera, oh my!) will be out in April. I also have a new cozy mystery series with NAL. Pleating for Mercy debuts August 2nd.
And I’m thrilled beyond belief that my Lola Cruz mystery series will continue--release date at the end of 2011. Woot!
My writing fills my life. So why, then, did I take on the position of Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing, a boutique publisher filling the space between traditional publishing and self/indie/mass quantity ePublishers? Because in the process of writing and promoting my own books, marketing has become an offshoot passion, something I’m good at, and something I want to help other authors with.
Finding a piece of the publishing industry that I really believe in has been a huge thrill, and I believe in Entangled Publishing, what they stand for, and how they do business. Throwing your book out there and crossing your fingers that it sprouts wings and flies is all well and good. It happens to a few fortunate people. It does not happen to most of us. We have to create our opportunities.
This realization led me to create Books on the House, a site bringing books and readers together under one roof. Every week, readers give away copies of their books...for free. It also led me to co-author (with Tonya Kappes [http://tonyakappes.com/]) The Tricked-out Toolbox: Promotion and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs
This book is a practical guide to promotion and writing and chock full of ideas, tips, and resources to make the most of your time, energy, and marketing dollars. Because of these two endeavors, I was well-primed to take on the role of Marketing Director for Entangled. Entangled has a phenomenal management and editorial team, and the marketing department, led by me, is just one of the many elements which sets us apart. We are a boutique agency, part of which means we have a very strong focus on building relationships between the publicists and the authors they represent, leveraging each authors’ strengths, and gaining maximum exposure for each and every book.
There’s no silver bullet to success. Mostly it’s hard work. And that’s on top of the hard work required when writing a book. Even with a stellar marketing department behind you (and I’m here to tell you that most publishers do not devote the time, energy, or money to promote each of its authors/books), it’s up to each author to do what he or she can to build a career and garner sales. In the day and age of e-books, independent digital publishers, bricks and mortar stores closing left and right (it was announced recently that Borders is closing 28 more stores), and the changing face of publishing, marketing and promotion have never been more important.
Getting your book in front of readers is paramount, but how do you do that? Here are some intentional things you can do to market and promote your books (these are covered in detail in The Tricked-out Toolbox): • understand your PR personality • build an action plan • set goals • set a budget • brand yourself • have a professional and effective website • blog, grog, or otherwise having an online presence • understand theme and audience • participate in online groups, loops, and social networking • think about swag, book trailers, and other promo materials • network • set up opt-in mailing lists • use ethical bribes (or bartering) • have a press kit • advertise • set up blog tours • use contests and giveaways • decide if book signings are for you • create a sell sheet.
Whew! That seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Starting with goal setting is key. Once you know your strengths and what you hope to achieve, you can set about building your action plan. Once you have a solid action plan, you can begin to put that plan into effect. Start with what you know you can do and work within your comfort zone. As you’re able, stretch yourself by tackling a task outside that safe place. No matter where you are in your publishing journey, it’s never too early to start creating a brand and promoting yourself. What are you doing now to fill your promotion and marketing toolbox?
You can find Misa online at: http://www.misaramirez.com/ http://www.thenakedhero.com/ http://www.thetrickedouttoolbox.com/
Find Misa's newest release at the following: http://www.amazon.com/A-Deadly-Curse-ebook/dp/B004N62762 http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Deadly-Curse/Misa-Ramirez/e/2940012080295
I love the cover on Misa's book Pleating for Mercy. Here's a question for our readers: What makes you pick up a book.... the cover? The title? Author blurbs? And how do you feel about indie-pubbed books verses traditional NY pubbed books? Are you willing to take a chance on an indie-pubbed book?