You know how when they have a two-parter on your favorite show they start out the second episode with a mini recap of episode one in case you missed it? Well, the recap for my first three entries of my 10 part series focusing on the great things that have happened to me as a result of writing is as follows…
So far we’ve covered my O.P.U.S. interview series, my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter and meeting one of my heroes in Dick Dale.
Okay, you’re all caught up.
The area I want to focus on today is the love I got from the residents of the State of Hawaii early on in my writing career.
When you are just getting started as an independent author you literally just want your books to sell… to somebody… anybody.
It’s true; it’s a difficult process getting yourself noticed as an indie author. In fact, writing is the easy part. Marketing… that’s the really tough part.
Luckily for me, I stumbled into a mutual love affair with the State of Hawaii that really bolstered my confidence in my writing early on. It all started with my Small Brand America series which focused on small companies competing against larger companies on grocer’s shelves. I had written two editions of the book and started working on a third. For some reason I had queried several companies based in Hawaii and all had agreed to do the book so I began thinking maybe the whole book should be companies based in the Aloha State. That’s a whole new twist to the challenges small companies face. Now they were not only competing against larger, better funded companies, they had the huge obstacle of being in a remote island location as well.
That book, Small Brand America: Special Hawaii Edition, truly helped turn the corner for me with my writing. It was my first minor victory. Not only did it make a few newspapers in Hawaii generating my first publicity as a writer, I also got a nice spike in sales from the companies featured. Since Hawaii is such a tourist friendly locale, many of these manufacturing companies also have stores where they sell goods directly to consumers along with some touristy-type souvenirs. Many started carrying my books there.
The love affair with Hawaii really took off as I was finishing SBA III. At that time, I had started writing short stories. I came up with the detective story involving the murder of a celebrity. Surveillance video captured everyone coming into or leaving the home so police had the murderer on tape, they just didn’t know who the right person was as multiple people from gardeners, to maids, to delivery people came and went regularly from this person’s house. One of the cities I had written about in SBA III was Kilauea. I loved the name, The Killer in Kilauea…it just had the right ring to it so it became the name of the story.
One of the people I had met through my SBA III story was a woman named Cas Schwabe. She’s got a great personal story. She’s an actress/chef who works as a personal chef to several big name stars when they come to Kauai (Woddy Harrelson and Mathew McConnaughy). She started her own juice company that featured in-home delivery. It’s a small company so this means Cas can often be found delivering the juice she makes. Needing to have characters coming and leaving the home of the celebrity in my book A Killer in Kilauea, I asked Cas if she would mind being a character in it. She happened to live in Kilauea so it truly was perfect.
She accepted my invite to do so and she became a character in my short story. Once again, this got a lot of publicity in Hawaii, with an article about Cas and her role as a character in my story appearing in the newspaper on Kauai.
At this time, I had several short stories and a handful of books published. Almost all of my sales were in Hawaii. Not even my home state of Missouri could compare to the numbers I was racking up in the South Pacific.
I had my family from my children’s book Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat move to Hawaii in the book, Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat Moves to Hawaii. Finally, when I wrote a novel, it had to be there as well. My book Pa’u Hana features two buddies living in Kauai trying to get into the movie business. (By the way, Cas Schwabe once again appeared in this book…a least a half-biographical/half-fiction version of her).
With the success of Bourbon Mixology (still the 5th ranked bourbon book on Amazon today) my sales are no longer skewed to being mostly from Hawaii. Still, this doesn’t diminish my love for our 50th state and the confidence the residents gave me so early in my career.
Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!
Coming Sunday: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!
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The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com
Evan Haskill’s Blog: I am a contributor here: thebourbonguyandrye.com
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