Monthly Archives: May 2012
William wins a $25 gift certificate to Murder by The Book bookstore. Congratulations and thanks for leaving a comment for John Kwiatkowski!
And we’re thrilled to announce next week’s guest. On Tuesday, June 5th, K & T’s Manda Collins conducts a drive-by interview with KAREN ROSE about her newest novel:
No One Left To Tell.
See you then!
Americans love an underdog. Whether it’s the downtrodden hero in a movie, the come-from-behind win of a loser team or our kick-ass attitude in the Revolutionary War, we root for the small guy! Especially if said guy is unassuming, passionate and relentless in the face of horrible odds.
Meet the 2012 literary version of an underdog: Murder By The Book Bookstore in Houston, Texas. Their website states it’s one of the oldest and largest specialty bookstores in the nation, having opened their doors in 1980 and stocking over 25,000 books.
Despite that formidable pedigree, MBTB is unassuming. Situated in a tiny strip center the interior is dim and cozy, jam-packed with new and used hardbacks, paperbacks, T-Shirts with cool literary sayings and comfortable old armchairs. At MBTB you are welcome to hang out, read, explore and not feel like you have to keep buying expensive lattes. (But if you want one–the coffee shop is next door.)
Passionate? You bet. Ask about any book and the staff can lead you to the exact location in a far corner bookshelf. Want to know when Author X is coming out with Book Y? They’ll know and chances are they’ve already booked Author X for a book signing.
Last year alone MBTB hosted more than 200 of America’s favorite mystery, crime, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and romantic suspense authors. And I mean BIG names. Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag and Lisa Scottoline all appeared within 6 weeks of each other (I know this because I went to all 3!) How about P.D. James? Sue Grafton? Harlan Coban? Yep, all have signed books in the little Houston bookstore. Many times.
Relentless? Check. Murder By The Book is one of the most aggressive ma & pa bookstores to take on the giant e-book sites and has no plans to surrender. In fact they keep coming up with ingenious ways to stay competitive and capture reader attention, even if you don’t live anywhere near Houston!
Meet the leader of this scrappy underdog team: John Kwiatkowski, Publicity Manager for Murder By The Book.
Welcome, John and thank you for being here! If a reader has a Nook/Kindle e-reader and loves the convenience of the click-to-buy read, how can an “Indie Bookstore” like MBTB stay afloat in 2012?
It’s easy with a Nook. You can purchase eBooks from the Murder By The Book website and load them onto your Nook.
With Kindle it’s a little bit trickier. The Kindle Fire will allow you purchase eBooks from other retailers, but the original Kindle does not.
In most cases, we’re selling our ebooks for the same price as most other retailers.
We’re always happy to walk you through the process. More info about how to use Google eBooks with different types of eReaders can be found on our website.
How does the resell work with e-Google? (Meaning where do readers go to shop and how do they get it downloaded to their specific e-reader?)
With Google eBooks, customers can purchase and download eBooks directly from the MBTB website.
In the bottom left-hand column of our website there’s a box that allows customers to search or browse for eBooks that are available from us.
Google eBooks work with just about any kind of eReader and we have the instructions for each type of reader linked on the website. http://www.murderbooks.com/gbook/help
I know most of our suspense readers would love to browse in your store or buy from you online. But they also enjoy other genres (ex., historical romance.) Is that something they could still buy from you?
One of the wonderful things about our partnership with the ABA and Google eBooks is that any book that is available as a Google eBook is available for purchase from our store. It doesn’t have to be a mystery.
We’re also always willing to order any book (regardless of genre) for our in-store customers. We may require prepayment if it’s not something we would stock on the shelves, and we can usually get it within a week.
How is the American Booksellers Association (ABA) helping indie bookstores like MBTB?
The ABA has helped us out immensely. Without the help of the ABA it would be almost impossible for small stores like us to get into the eBook game. They’ve set up all the infrastructure that allows us to be able to compete in the eBook business.
Without their help, we would have had to find a reseller and develop a high maintenance website that would allow us to deliver the books to customers. Thanks to the ABA, we’re able to focus on selling books and not the logistics of being able to do so.
Tell us about your idea to Skype during book signings.
We’ve done several Skype events this year. Our first was with Alan Bradley, the author of the Flavia de Luce mysteries. Bradley lives in Malta, so a tour wasn’t possible at the time. It was wonderful to welcome him into the store even if it was just through a webcam.
Our most successful Skype event was with Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. We had Preston in the store, and Child was able to join via Skype. Since Child doesn’t travel, it was a unique opportunity for fans to see them together.
When possible, we’ve also tried to arrange for signed copies of the author’s book when we’re hosting them for a Skype event.
Do you have e-book signings?
We haven’t started doing eBook signings yet. Realistically, the profit margin on eBooks is so low that it would be tough for us to sell enough eBooks at a signing to warrant the additional cost of staying open and staffing the store. It’s not something that we’re ruling out, but not something we’re actively pursuing right now.
Tell us why buying novels (either hardcopy or electronically) from MBTB and other indie bookstores is more customer-oriented than large brick and mortar chains or online sites?
We spend a lot of time getting to know what we have in the store. It doesn’t stop when we go home for the night.We’re still reading new releases or discovering old gems that might have slipped by us.
While we might not have read every book in the store, we can usually offer some insight about most titles, whether it’s from trade reviews or other customer feedback.
Each staff member has their own “Staff Picks” shelf, and the remaining shelves in the bookstore are filled with handwritten recommendations. We really strive to get the right book into the hands of a reader that will love it.
We also host a variety of events in the store. We have a series of luncheon events and have hosted authors like Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Michael Connelly, and Anne Perry. The luncheons offer a more intimate feeling than our regular events at the store.
We host evening events at the store for a wide range of authors from established bestsellers to debut authors just starting out.
We also have two books groups that meet here in the store.
In addition to author events, we also host Murder By The Book Recommends events where the staff talks about their favorite recent reads.
Earlier this year we hosted an eBook open house where we encouraged customers to bring in their eReaders and we would walk them through the steps of purchasing eBooks from us.
Basically our goal is to provide an experience, whether it’s meeting your favorite author or discovering someone who could become your favorite author. That’s missing when you’re just ordering a book from a website.
Whew! That’s really creative! Online sites have discounts and specials. Tell us how you fight that?
We have several promotions that we run throughout the year. We typically have a used book sale during the summer and the last week of the year.
In recent years, we just started offering gift bundles. We take some of our favorite books from the past year and create gift sets to satisfy any type of reading tastes. We try to pick lesser known titles that people might not have picked up on their own.
Last year some of our giftsets had themes like Private Eyes Are Watching You, Southern Gothic Gems, Supernatural Cozies, Excellent Espionage, Southern Humor, and more. We love helping pick out books for gifts!
Can a reader download an e-book from you if they do not have a Kindle/Nook?
They can. If you still want to read eBooks or eOriginal short stories but don’t want to invest in an eReader, there is a program called Adobe Digital Editions that allows you to open and read eBooks on your desktop. The program is free and can be downloaded here: http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/devices/
Who’s the most amazing author to have held a book signing and why?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite. We hosted over 200 authors in 2011. Our biggest surprise lately was being able to host Anne Rice in the store. Her publisher was extending her tour and we were thrilled to be one of the stores that was asked to host her.
We had over 500 people in the store over the course of the evening and had such a great time!
Huge events like that are always fun because everyone is so excited about being here. It’s impossible not to have a good time when you’re surrounded by that many people who can’t wait to meet an author that has meant so much to them.
A huge percentage of your clients are in other states and countries. Why is that, given that there are certainly bookstores in those places?
A large part of it is because of the signed books that we’re able to offer. With so many authors visiting the store, we offer a chance for customers to order signed books from us. We can get them inscribed.
As long as a copy of the author’s newest book is purchased from us, we even allow people to send in other books by an author to get them signed as well.
What question should I have asked that you want readers to know?
People always want to know how our in-store signings work. For large events, (famous author names) we give out first-come-first-serve line numbers with the purchase of the author’s newest book. (The line numbers become available the day the book goes on sale.) And the number you get is your actual place in line after the author-talk and Q&As, when the actual book signing begins.
The talks are always free to attend, but to get anything signed the author’s newest book has to be purchased from us.
We’ve got a complete listing of our signing policies on our website. http://www.murderbooks.com/signing-policies
Well America, summer is here and books abound! Why not take a chance on an Indie Bookstore and electronically download some great reads for the same prices as the giant e-sites? Permission given to pass the blog interview or information to everyone in your social network. Let’s get the word out and do our part to help the cozy ma & pa underdogs!
Simply leave a question or comment for John anytime today and you’re automatically in the our Kiss and Thrill drawing. The lucky winner’s name will be posted on Thursday, May 31st, so check back!
Visit John and the rest of the MBTB staff at www.murderbooks.com
Please don’t forget to bid on the amazing items in Brenda Novak’s 2012 Cure for Diabetes Auction! ONLY 2 DAYS REMAIN! http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/
The Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense nominees are in! This has to be one of the biggest awards in the book business, and we at Kiss and Thrill are excited that three of this year’s past guests are on the list! So a big round of applause to:
Allison Brennan for her book Kiss Me, Kill Me.
Cindy Gerard for her book With No Remorse
Roxanne St. Claire for her book Face of Danger
Just remember you heard about these books here first! Do we know how to pick them or what? LOL.
Kiss and Thrill wants to congratulate all the authors in both the published and unpublished divisions of the Daphne. We’re rooting for all of you!
Thanks so much to everyone who commented yesterday! Three Weddings and a Murder is now available at online stores.
I am so grateful for the all the support!
Our winner is Abigail Sharpe. Abigail please use the contact us form to email me your preferred email address and let me know what type of ebook format you prefer. You have won an ARC of FIRST DO NO EVIL, a copy of THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, and your choice of a Barnes and Noble or Amazon gift card for $25!
Please bear with me if it takes a day or two to get back to you- I’m traveling and getting married this week- but it won’t be more than a couple of days! Congrats!
What’s up next: On Tuesday Sarah Andre interviews John Kwiatkowski from Houston’s scrappy, independent bookstore: Murder By The Book.
Discover some of the brilliant strategies cozy ma and pop bookstores are utilizing to take on the Amazon and e-pub Goliath. Commenters have a chance to win a $25 MBTB gift certificate that they can use instore or online.
I’m incredibly excited to tell you about a new digital anthology,THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, and to offer one commenter a copy of the anthology, a digital ARC of my debut, FIRST DO NO EVIL, and a $25 gift card.
But first, I hope you’ll bear with me on a little side trip. I think you’ll understand why in a moment.
I want to share with you something very personal that my mother said to me, not to be dramatic, but because it made a difference in my life. When my mom was only a few years older than I am now, she lost her battle with breast cancer. She was an amazingly loving and courageous woman, and she shaped my life in so many ways; by her example in the way she lived, and by the love and support she gave her family.
In the days before her death, when it became apparent that there was nothing more that medicine could do for her, she said something to me that I will never think of without heartache. But even though her statement saddened me, I am grateful she shared her emotion with me.
As we talked in her hospital room, my mother reminded me that early on in her disease she’d declined a certain treatment because she’d felt afraid. Her fear was natural since it was a difficult procedure to undergo. Not only that, but, the value of the treatment was uncertain—and of course, neither she nor her doctors had a crystal ball in hand.
Then she said to me: “Oh, how I wish I had that chance again.”
I don’t know if the treatment would have made a difference or not, and that isn’t the point I’m trying to make. What I am driving at is this: I believe it took courage for my mother to admit her fear to me, and I know that we all have fear in our lives. But fear is not a good basis for decision making.
I am afraid, half-terrified even, every time I am due for a mammogram because I know I have risk factors, and I don’t want to get bad news. But then I remember my mother’s words, “Oh, how I wish I had that chance again.”
I pick up the phone and schedule my mammogram.
Mammograms save lives. They are a proven means of reducing mortality (that means death!) from breast cancer. That’s just a fact. Detecting breast cancer early via mammograms cannot only lead to better treatment options, it can lead to a cure in many cases.
So please, don’t let fear stop you from getting a yearly mammogram if you are 50 or older, or if you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. If you are at high risk please see your doctor regularly and ask about preventive options.
Back to fear. We all have talents—gifts, if you will. But so often we let fear stop us from using those gifts. We are afraid our talent isn’t big enough, and that we will appear foolish to others. We don’t finish a manuscript, or maybe we don’t even begin a manuscript, because we are afraid our talent isn’t big enough. If we do finish it, and we are brave enough to submit our work, we may give up after a handful of rejections because of that same fear:
My talent isn’t big enough.
But I believe, with all my heart, that our talents are big enough. They are as big as they need to be. We cannot all hit the New York Times list, or make it on American Idol, or become class valedictorian. But our talent is big enough to enhance our lives and to make a difference in the lives of others.
I want to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer, and I believe that with a team effort, I can. So, I’m joining forces with three amazing authors and participating in the Avon Breast Cancer walk Sept.22 and 23, 2012. Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle, Courtney Milan and I are going to walk forty miles to show we care. Our team name? The Bodice Rippers, of course!
We’ve also written four original novellas and combined them into an anthology: THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER. The anthology will be available for a limited time this summer leading up to the Avon walk. All profits from the sale of THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER will be donated to the cause.
Here’s a taste of each author’s story:
“The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright” by Tessa Dare
Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, Miss Eliza Cade is not allowed “out” in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she’s trying to be good, Eliza keeps bumping elbows—and lips—with the notorious rake Harry Wright. The passions he stirs in her are so wrong…but she just can’t resist Mr. Wright.
“The Misbehaving Marquess” by Leigh LaValle
Having awaited the return of her husband for half a decade, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, has no intention of reconciling with her misbehaving marquess. But when he insists he needs an heir—immediately—she must confront her own lingering desires. Can she protect her heart while attempting to win his once again?
“The Lady Always Wins” by Courtney Milan
Railway financier Simon Davenant has waited seven years for a second chance with his childhood sweetheart and best friend. He isn’t about to let his impending financial ruin destroy the opportunity. This time, he’ll do anything he can to secure her hand in marriage—even if it means losing her heart for good.
“Solomon’s Wisdom” by Carey Baldwin
Bad-boy-turned-pediatrician Charlie “Drex” Drexler returns to Tangleheart, Texas hoping to reconnect with his old flame – but Anna won’t cooperate, his dark past resurfaces, and his best friend’s baby disappears. How will Drex and Anna mend their broken hearts while dodging bullets and racing to bring baby home safely?
Remember, all the profits from sales of this anthology will be donated by the authors to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. To learn more about where the money goes from there, please see: http://www.avonwalk.org/why-we-walk/where-the-money-goes.html
Can people donate directly to your Avon Walk team?
Absolutely! We want to raise as much money as possible, and to that end, we encourage and appreciate direct donations to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer via our team page: http://bit.ly/bodicerippers
Let’s take our chances and go for it!
PS The anthology will go on sale very soon. Possibly today. When it does, I’ll post a link. So please check back if you’d like to fight back against breast cancer and get yourself a rockin’ good read all for the bargain price of $2.99! Update! Three Weddings and a Murder is ready to order.
Do you have any special talent or passion you share or would like to share with others?
The Lucky Recipient of an AMANDA STEVENS’
Graveyard Queen book is…
Congratulations Aretha! To redeem the free book of your choice please email email@example.com (or go to contact page for details). Amanda will send you an e-book or paperback–your preference. (“The Restorer”, “The Kingdon” or “The Prophet.”)
Remember, we must hear from you within 10 days! And you must provide a US or Canadian address to qualify or another winner will be chosen. Thank you all so much for commenting on Tuesday, we hope you’ll Add-to-Favorites or bookmark KissAndThrill or better yet, subscribe!
WIN-WIN Offer to ALL: If you’re a big Kiss and Thrill fan, and you’d like to do something to help save lives, check out the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction!
Among hundreds of items such as jewlery, lunch with your favorite author and e-readers, our K&T blog is offering an amazing basket of goodies! Bid on critiques for writers, gift cards, and other freebies from the 9 of us.
The auction is open the entire month of May. We hope you make a bid or two and help raise money to find a cure for this horrible disease. Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction Website.
What’s next on the Kiss and Thrill blog?