Market Research

Both of us are taking a small breather after the publication of Denial of Service. The breather is for at least three reasons. One, we are, for the moment, heartily sick of reading Denial of Service, as much as we like the book (it’s like eating turkey for five straight days after Thanksgiving: no matter how delicious the bird, enough, already!). Two, we are concentrating on marketing activities for DoS (e.g., readings at book stores). Three, one of us has been doing market research for book 3, the working title of which is Murder Mo’ Bettah and which takes place in Hawai’i.

Truth in advertising: “market research” is a slightly grandiose term for what was, in reality, a desperately needed vacation for one of us, who booked 7 days in Hawai’i because she can operate on “autopilot” when there and because she wanted to surf her brains out. (Being a blond, surfing her brains out admittedly did not take all that long.) The other of us gave the vacationer some pointers on “needed market research” for book three in terms of finding background material, getting a feel for local color, and the like, much of which was ignored in the interests of “market research on who makes the best Mai Tai on Waikīkī Beach.” (Whee.) Note: the answer to that question is indubitably the Halekulani for a multiplicity of reasons, including the fact that pineapple juice – which most watering holes on Waikīkī insist on adding to their Mai Tais – has Absolutely No Place in a Mai Tai. (The Halekulani also has a delightful concoction known as a Liliko’i (Passion Fruit) Daiquiri that is not only delicious but counts as a serving of fruit. As everyone knows.)

No matter how familiar someplace seems to you if you go there a lot – and both of us have been to Hawai’i many times – writing about a place is different than visiting it. More to the point, you can go to the same place many times, yet not really see it. The request was for specific “background/color” for the book and this, the vacationer spent time actually looking at what she had experienced so many times.

One of the more colorful aspects of Waikīkī (besides the frequent ‘anuenue – rainbows – as showers move over the Ko’olaus – is the evening “street scene.” Kalākaua Avenue – the closest thing to a “main drag” in Waikīkī and the street that fronts most of the hotels as well as Kuhio Beach before it peters out around Kapi’olani Park – is always active but never more so than at night. For starters, you have a slew of people handing out pamphlets for everything from going to the gun range (an indoor shooting range on Waikīkī) to how to find Jesus. (Hint: He’s not lost: you are!)*

Then, there are the “living statues” (maybe there is a more au courant term for them but we do not know what it is): the folks who dress up in silver (or gold or black) painted clothing with silver (or gold or black) body paint, who don’t move for – a long time. (Donations welcome.) There are also street musicians (e.g., an 11-year-old kid playing Hawaiian music on a trumpet, for something completely different). (Donations welcome.) There are street artists – either caricaturists or those who do chalk drawings on the pavement. (Donations welcome.) There are also street vendors of lei (Hawaiian flower garlands) or practitioners of lau hala (the weaving of fronds of the hala tree into hats, bowls and the like). To set the scene for all these characters, we have the chain of “tourist paraphernalia and kōkua (help) known as ABC Stores. Whatever you forgot to pack or need to enjoy the water, prevent sunburn or recover from sunburn because you picked a wussy SPF, you can find it at an ABC Store, and there is one every 65 feet or so on every street beginning with a ‘K’ in Waikīkī.**

There is more, much more, in the area of background material that we have both catalogued for book 3. One of them may not make it into the book, but it is the reason we continue to love Hawai’i and makes it so special: the air. As soon as you get off the plane, whether it is in Honolulu or Kona or Līhue, you are bathed with air that is the perfect (not too hot, not too cool) temperature, that has moisture (but isn’t disgustingly humid) and is scented with plumeria. The air in Hawai’i is like nowhere else: the fabled trade winds caress you and your ‘uhane (soul) feels refreshed and restored.

*One of us notes that these street scene participants are all welcome upgrades from the slew of Hare Krishnas in years past (whose endless cymbal clanging and near frantic jumping around made one want to rush up and direct them to the nearest men’s room to relieve their obvious distress) and “extremely well dressed ladies of the evening” that used to frequent Waikīkī in the years when we first started going there.

**That’s a joke. In Hawai’i, with the exception of a few “grandfathered” English names, all streets have Hawaiian names and most of those begin with ‘K’ on account of the direct article in Hawaiian begins with a ‘K’. So we have (just in Waikīkī): Kalākaua, Kuhio, Koa, Kapuni, Ka’iulani. Kapahulu, etc.

It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s – Oh Wait, It’s Over!

The above title is not a reflection of the imminent election on November 6. Maddi has her – should I say ‘our’ – electoral preferences but is apolitical for literary purposes, and rightly so. We think enjoying a good murder mystery is a distinctively non-partisan activity and we want fans who enjoy our writing, not our political opinions.

Ergo, the above title is a not-so-subtle way of announcing, for those who did not hear our collective “yeehah!” from three states away (excepting Alaska and Hawai’i), that the second book in our Miss-Information Technology Mystery Series, Denial of Service, is now available in print and ebook versions. Phew.

Before we hoist a collaborative glass of something interesting (I’d say “champagne” but my co-writer is less than enthusiastic about it and would prefer a good mojito), it’s time for accolade awarding. Producing another book is a joint activity, but it is fair to say that one of us spent the majority of our collective energy reviewing, in painstaking detail, the final proof, then the final final proof, then made the edits to the final final proof, and so on, which constitutes “above and beyond” not only the call but the font and grammar of duty. Therefore, the Award for Most Eyes Glazed goes to the ‘D’ part of Maddi: thank you and well done. A new pair of reading glasses are yours along with an engraved bottle of White Out.

A second award goes to the fastest order of the new book……a one Art C., who ordered a book a scant three or four minutes after we announced on Facebook that the new book was available. Thanks for being a loyal fan, Art, and the payoff money should arrive soon … er … ”our appreciation is boundless.”

A third award, for Ripping Retail Sales, goes to Cheryl Thomas of Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, Idaho. One of us had barely dropped off 25 copies of our book (they were still on the counter), when she sold two of them. Aside – there is a new book, entitled My Bookstore that chronicles writers’ favorite independent bookstores. (Yes, I know it is ironic to show a link to Amazon regarding a book about independent bookstores. Do your independents a favor – read the book reviews on Amazon and then buy or order from your local bookseller. Nobody else lets you browse through books – nothing like actually holding a book in your hands – remembers you and what you like or can rhapsodize (and quote from) A River Runs Through It.) Anyway, Chapter One Bookstore is mentioned in My Bookstore, another reason we like shopping there. Cheryl has been a one-woman marketing machine for our books (she’s also invited one of us to do a reading in conjunction with an event for My Bookstore and is a wonderful person, besides). A bottle of champagne is in order and will be delivered soon: yes, indeedy.

A logical question to ask exhausted authors is “What next?” If it’s not too early to start shilling, we are at work on book three (though, admittedly, it’s not really a book yet but an outline, a plot, a few draft chapters and a gleam in our collective eyes.) It is set in Hawai’i and one of us is about to go surfing…er…go do market research in Hawai’i. Working title is Murder Mo’ Bettah. Though we think it is entirely possible we can come up with a mo’ bettah title than that. One of us has been busy suggesting specific market research the other can do in HI (the other thinks it is critically important that descriptions of tropical drinks are accurate and plans on checking out different samples at multiple watering holes to ensure that our descriptions are giggly…er…glib). The research we will not be doing is related to exactly how a body looks after the car it has been in is blown up. Though one of us is feeling slightly hostile after the 6th call in one day seeking funds for a candidate or polling for the election, grrr, we both believe that violence doesn’t solve anything. (Unless, of course, there is a dispute over the last pair of really cute sandals in my size that are on sale in which case, I saw them first and no holds barred.)

We also have a short story in the queue that we are still considering how to put in the hands of our devoted readers. Or even vaguely interested readers – at this point in our budding (which is at least better than “wilting”) literary careers, all readers are welcome, though we admit that the kind who like our book and add favorable reviews (hint, hint) are readers we particularly like.

There’s another activity we are doing post book 2– looking at ways we can find other potential readers, otherwise known as “marketing.” We decided to take a low-key approach to this essential activity after our first book was published, and concentrate instead on completing the second book. Now that we have the series underway, it’s time to get out there and sell, sell, sell! Already, we’ve discovered that two books are easier to sell than just one. One of us just spent a couple hours at a mystery authors event, signing books, and sold a goodly number of both books.

Even amidst moving from publishing to pushiness … er … promotion, we will take a brief moment for the other “p” – no, not “pooped,” but “proud.” The book isn’t perfect, but we are pretty dang happy with our efforts. Now, off to find a fresh lime for that mojito, and we hope you enjoy Denial of Service.