Hollow’s End was a winner of the Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Young Adult Novel by the Paranormal Romance Guild in 2013. Twice Cursed and Blood Legacy have also won some awards. In addition to making you feel great, how do you utilize these awards to help promote your work?
It’s nice to be nominated for an award. The gold letters look good when you’re trying to sell yourself and your work to agents and publishers, but to my mind, the readers are the ones I need to concentrate on winning. I have never found that readers pick up a book simply because the cover says the author is award winning or bestselling. Yes, I have award winning listed on my own covers, it’s basic protocol once you’re noted, BUT I never forget the pages between the back and front covers are what matters most, that it’s the story that sells a book and endears an author to a reader. It’s nice to be lauded and you’re right, it feels great, but there are too many variables that go into winning a contest or a reviewer’s choice, and it’s not always reflective of what the readers think. For me, the best prize is to win the hearts of my readers with stories that leave them happy and a bit breathless, so when a new book is released they are as excited for it to hit the shelves as I am. Does that sound nuts?
Many authors find the marketing and PR a difficult skills set to learn in addition to their craft. What are some avenues or techniques that have worked for you? Did you try any promotions/social media that you felt weren’t worth the time and money?
I have found blog tours and online contests/games are the best way to reach readers and engage them in me and my work. I say me and my work as separate items because they are, and let me explain why. It’s important to connect with readers directly. Advertising is great medium, and while it’s true an evocative campaign with a sexy book cover will entice a reader to give you a looksee, it doesn’t always guarantee they will remember you. Advertising is an avenue I find a less fruitful considering the money spent. Offering discounted pricing works…eh…some of the time, but with the glut of cheap bundles and freebie books it’s hard to keep a foothold in the onslaught bombarding readers these days.
Career readers are an author’s life’s blood. Without them we would still write, but our stories would never see the light of day. I write FOR my readers and in doing so I give them a piece of me with each book. I want them to know me and feel like I am real and approachable. I am not a diva and I never will be, regardless of how successful I become. Participating in blog tours and having an online presence interacting with readers is the best PR any author can have…and it’s fun!
I saw on your website that you have participated in the Anne Rice Undeadcon in the past. The photos indicate you had a blast. What do you feel are the most important things you learn at conferences and conventions?
I love attending conventions, and yes the pictures don’t lie, they are a BLAST. Meeting Anne Rice and hanging with her in the VIP area was a dream come true. I also got to hang with Sherrilyn Kenyon the year before and if you think authors aren’t fan girls, then you need to think again. Yikes! I fan-girled all over those two!!!
As for your question…regardless of what publishing houses say and what agents try to spoon feed us…authors are not the heart of the industry…READERS are…and nowhere is that more apparent than at conventions. Yeah it’s fun to hang with colleagues and brainstorm and cut up, but interacting with readers up close and personal, listening to them and what they like and don’t like, hearing their thoughts and what melts their butter in a story is worth every penny spent on these events. I come home exhausted in body, but so energized in spirit I can’t wait to put pen to paper.
With every convention I attend it becomes more evident that authors need to be choosy on which ones they attend. Some conventions are author-centric and readers can’t get near their favorite writers, others like Authors After Dark and Novel Experience are huge as well, BUT there readers rule and the authors that attend make it their business to be accessible and mingle with everyone. After all, this IS our business.
What do you do differently for a young adult work?
Oh boy. The actual writing process is the same in terms of research and outline, but with a Teen book…and I say teen instead of YA the genre is often confused with middle-grade and there’s a big difference. With a Teen story I have made the decision, and it’s my own choice, to keep sex out of the story for the most part. There is sexual tension and teenage criminal mischief as the characters are seniors in High School, but I put the breaks on anything overt. After writing adult books with graphic sex scenes it was a little hard to keep the off limitsmindset in the forefront as I wrote. Hey, I get swept away too, you know! LOL! Another important difference is the mindset of the characters. They are teens and don’t always think things through, plus they are impulsive and catty and attach too much weight to certain struggles that as adults we easily dismiss. In that respect, I’m lucky I had a fine group of teenage girls for beta readers. They gave it to me straight when something didn’t work or was unrealistic in their world.
In Time Turner, which is the sequel to Hollow’s End set to release November 30th, the characters are headed off to college, so their relationship naturally moves to the next level sexually but it is completely behind closed doors.
How do you know you’ve done ‘enough’ research and it’s time to sit down and start writing? How do you organize and keep your research so that you can utilize it easily?
I start an outline for each book, keeping the time line loose until I head off to the library or respective historical society to fill in the holes. I spend many hours doing research and have interviewed dozens of people to make sure whatever I include in my books that is factual is correct and represented properly. As to how I know I have enough to begin writing…hmmm…there is no right time. You just feel it. Something clicks and the story takes shape in my head.
Research is probably the most fun thing I do besides actually crafting the story. In Twice Cursed I visited the morgue and interviewed NYPD Homicide detectives and street crime specialists. In Hollow’s End I spent days in the Sleepy Hollow historical society and walked the Old Dutch Church Burial ground and interviewed the docents from the Friends of the Old Dutch Church.
I keep copious notes and have them organized by place and time, using different color highlighters for different historic people and their pertinent information. It get’s hairy sometimes when I need a specific fact and I can’t find it, but that’s when I turn to online sites like the Department of Military Records or Hudson Valley genealogical records. I am also on a first name basis with the curators and archeologist at a few of the Hudson Valley historical societies, so if I need something in particular, they help me find it.
What question or comment has a reader made about your books or characters that surprised you the most?
To be honest it was just recently when a member of my street team left a review that said she had to read The Lion’s Den with a box of tissues, that I had poured more emotion into that book than she expected. I write mostly dark fantasy, even in my Teen books, and if I had to categorize a genre for myself it would be a cross-breed between Urban Fantasy and Romantic Suspense, so to hear that was a real plus. It made me happy that I made her cry. I know that sounds crazy, but in that moment I knew what I felt while writing the story transcended the page and touched a reader. There is nothing better for an author to hear. It’s what makes this all worthwhile.
If you were to write a letter to yourself of five years ago… what would you warn, or encourage yourself about, or tell yourself to do differently.
I would tell myself not to let bad reviews rent space in my head and to stop dwelling on naysayers and saboteurs. To remember that you write because it’s who you are at your core …you are a storyteller.
About Hollow’s End
Two hundred years of secrets and lies are bleeding into the present, and high school seniors, Hunter Morrissey and Rowen Corbett, find themselves linked with unseen forces shrouded in mystery and violence in the quaint river town of Sleepy Hollow…but the dark water of the Hudson River is not the only blackness looming in the distance. Truths, buried and long forgotten, have risen at a time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Only Hunter and Rowen hold the key to locking the past in the past, and setting old wrongs to right. Can justice be served? Can the two find a way to straddle both worlds and solve the mystery when they don’t understand the clues? Inspired by true events that surround the village of Sleepy Hollow and the famous legend that shares its name, this Young Adult Romance takes you on a journey full of history and suspense with a splash of horror and the paranormal.
About the Author
Born and raised in New York, Marianne Morea’s stories embody the grit and complexity of the city. An avid traveler, she uses experiences from around the world in all her books. Dark Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy Suspense and Horror are the hallmarks of her writing style, where readers are thrust into a world where the city never sleeps because the nightmares are real.