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This newsletter is your newsletter. If you are a subscriber writing in the mystery or suspense genres and have an upcoming pre-sale date or new book release, please let me know in advance so I can include your news with applicable links.

If you are a reader in the mystery or suspense genres and have read a book you'd like to share with others, please let me know (and please include a link to your Amazon or other marketplace book review link).

 

The Mysterious Writer-Reader Connection

All right, I confess!

If Paul Bishop, the author of Lie Catchers, got me in a room for five minutes, he'd sweat the truth out of me. I started Mysterious News as much out of my interest to help writers connect with readers (and vice versa) as I did to share my writing.

Right now, the only marketing technique I feel reasonably confident about recommending is running a Bookbub promotion if you have three or more book titles in a series. I'm confident in this approach because Bookbub is very much a sellers market right now. Since part of their revenue comes from affiliate sales, they won't even accept your ad unless they think it will earn them more money than another book competing for a slot in their newsletter.

The most recent member of our Mysterious News group to use Bookbub was Matt Coyle.

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Here's a snapshot of the resulting sales rank at Amazon.

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We're rooting for Matt to win the Anthony Award for Best Novel, not to take anything away from Chris Holm, Catriona McPherson, Louise Penny, or Hank Phillippi Ryan.

My only beef with Bookbub is the division of the spoils. The author or publisher pays Bookbub for the ad. At 99¢ Amazon takes 65% of the income for collecting the money and delivering the file to your Kindle.

The author gets additional exposure and potential sales of additional titles. At some point, the Amazon algorithm kicks in and starts showing an author's book to other potential readers. This year's Mysterious News marketing question is whether the convenience of delivery to the reader's device, the transaction handling, and the unspecified algorithm benefit is fair compensation for the 30-65% of all sales plus all of the author and publisher's marketing efforts to drive traffic to their site.

Last year, I offered my noir serial Last Heartthrob free to Mysterious News website visitors and newsletter subscribers.

Since it was a movie-centric tale, I provided movie extras corresponding to each episode of the serial.

At the end of the serial, I offered an option to contribute to the service. I offered several suggested price points, the highest being $5 for "buy me a beer." That turned out to be the most popular option, and I earned more from those voluntary contributions than I did from Amazon royalties.

My basic goal for The Catalonian Candidate is NOT to pay people NOT to read it. My largest expense, apart from putting in the time to write and edit it was registering the copyright. I worked as hard as I knew how to craft an entertaining tale about the pitfalls of desire in the context of the current presidential election cycle. The copyright registration cost about a third of one session of psychotherapy that I'd require if someone stole my work and put it out as their own.

Outside of that, my largest expense in supporting Mysterious News subscribers recently was the $8 I spent (including tip) on the signature cocktail The Misty Whisper at Lisa Alber's book launch for Whispers in the Mist.

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So, I won't ask you to buy a copy of The Catalonian Candidate. I won't pressure you to read it. Although, if you do, let me know what you think and whether you'd like to be included in the acknowledgments.

So here are some suggested donation levels if you enjoy taking part in this whole Mysterious News writer-reader connection thing. I'm not shooting for enough money to make it to Bouchercon, but there's a Mystery Writers of America shindig in Portland on Sept. 7. It might be fun to go to that.

FREE - Fine. But please share with a friend. Getting the word out helps grow the audience for your book announcements and reviews you share.

$0.99. The lowest price I can charge at Amazon for a 35% royalty.

$2.99. The the lowest price I can charge at Amazon for a 70% royalty.

$5.00. About a beer at an author launch party. Without tip.

$8.00. Woo-hoo it's Misty Whisper time!

Other - choose a creative price point of your own.

If you're interested, here's the TED talk that got me thinking about this year's approach, and why this approach to the music industry may soon be happening in publishing.


item4Caught Bread Handed Review

by The Girl with Book Lungs

Mysterious News Editor's Note: Though I occasionally read mystery and suspense books, I've spent most of this year hardwired to election coverage. Thankfully, one of our new members reads a lot. I asked her if she wouldn't mind sharing a review for this edition and she suggested this one. Yay! Please follow her reviews online and if you write a review, please let me know.

An unnaturally warm winter is leading to some unnatural events in Ashland, Oregon. A national fast food chain restaurant has just moved in across the street from the small town's beloved bake shop, Torte. While the name may sound vaguely Shakespearean, nothing else about the garish, over-the-top Shakesburgers fits with the town's look or feel, and other business owners are gearing up to oust the newcomer. For heroine Juliet, the drama is just another layer of what she is already dealing with: operating a bakeshop with only one working oven, recovering from a financial situation deep in the red, and juggling her feelings about estranged husband, Carlos, who is in town to win back her heart.

One of my favorite things about reading books by Ellie Alexander and in the Bakeshop Mystery series, is how completely immersed I feel while reading. The scenes and settings are vivid, rich, and distinct. Reading feels more like visiting, walking alongside Jules as she makes deliveries to fellow business owners and stumbles upon the scene of a crime. Another favorite element is all of the wonderfully descriptive passages about what Jules and her staff are baking at Torte. I constantly find myself wishing I could taste the recipes, or looking for a snack to enjoy while I read (though what I come up with is, inevitably, not as good as what I assume the food at Torte would be). Having some of the recipes included is such a treat and I'm always eager to try and replicate them in my own kitchen.

Caught Bread Handed is another wonderful addition to the Bakeshop Mystery series. A fun read, a fast read, and a story that will make your heart race and your stomach growl!


item6The Handshake

"As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books." – Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Last fall, I talked with Cindy Brown before the release of her second Ivy Meadows Mystery The Sound of Murder. She asked what I was working on. I was torn between editing a mindfulness text and The Catalonian Candidate. We talked about the conflict between what we wanted to write and what we could write that might be more "commercial."

I'd recently stopped reading a best-selling thriller with a plot that depended on ever more grotesque and twisted scenes of inhuman violence. Whatever ingenious denouement the author could come up with, it wasn't worth the depravity to get there. I'd read another conventional mystery, which, though well structured, featured a graphic Vietnam conflict atrocity against a young girl. That story resolved with an unexpected twist, but was it really worth it?

If I followed the market, I'd probably write something with a cunning serial killer, but for the sake of my own mental health, and for the sake of the reader, I don't want to imagine something that would shame me if some sicko acted it out in real life. I said that I wasn't sure what I would do next, but I wasn't going to write anything that would contribute to screwing up the culture. We shook hands on the deal, so I'll hold Cindy to her side of the bargain. Here's the challenge I had holding up mine.

As I mentioned in The Mystery of Why We Write, it was my father's idea to introduce me to Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange inspired angry young men who didn't get the satire to try their own tribute versions of a little of the old ultraviolence by breaking into houses and raping women while singin' "Singin' in the Rain." When Kubrick received anonymous threats against his family while shooting Barry Lyndon, he worked out a deal with Warner Bros. to pull Clockwork from distribution in the UK. Warner Bros. honored that agreement until Kubrick's death in 1999.

Compared to that movie, Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest was pretty tame stuff. I never heard of any people killing themselves trying to scale Mt. Rushmore. But as I reached the age that Cary Grant was when he shot that film, I began to realize that my mother's Old Hollywood was also guilty of a subtler form of violence against women's self-esteem.

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Jesse Royce Landis (aged 62) played Cary Grant's (54) mother. She was far too old to play his love interest.

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That job would go to Eva Marie Saint (34).

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In The Manchurian Candidate, we were asked to believe that Angela Lansbury (37) had somehow given birth to Laurence Harvey (34).

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My father was 49 when I talked him into seeing That Obscure Object of Desire at the University of Chicago. I'd seen it at college and knew that he'd like it. I thought it was hilarious and wanted to see it again. While my mother was happy with Hays Code Hollywood's creative metaphors for sex, my father preferred New Hollywood's leaving-less-to-the-imagination approach. Desire had enough nudity to compensate for the subtitles. As we drove home, he said that he'd once known a tease like the girl in the movie. I had, too (sort of): a father/son bonding moment. But neither of us thought twice about the 38-year age gap between the leading man and the older of his two leading ladies. Fernando Rey (60), Angela Molina (22), Carole Bouquet (20).

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A couple years ago, as I was in the midst of reading the Pierre Luoÿs story The Woman and the Puppet, from which Luis Buñuel adapted his film, I saw a trailer for a movie based on a Philip Roth novel called The Humbling. I haven't seen the movie, but from the trailer I gathered that Greta Gerwig's (31) object of desire was Al Pacino (74).

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Sorry women in your late thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies, you're too old for Al!

I don't know if it took the absurdity of that trailer (thankfully, the movie's a comedy, perhaps even a good one; Buck Henry co-wrote the script), or the age difference between the characters in the The Woman and the Puppet (a 35-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl), but it finally hit home to me what I had loved about that tumultuous, impractical, impossible relationship.

Though there was a gap of two lifetimes between the man and the woman in Desire, what made it all so funny was that they were doing their best to live like people invented in story books…or at least like people in the movies.

Part Four

In Other News

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If you are a subscriber writing in the mystery or suspense genres and have an upcoming pre-sale date or new book release, please let me know in advance so I can include your news with applicable links.

If you are a reader in the mystery or suspense genres and have read a book you'd like to share with others, please let me know (and please include a link to your Amazon or other marketplace book review link).

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