Artifact

Book Launch Day!

It's book launch day!

Today the Henery Press edition of Artifact comes out. This is the same book that I released last year, with three differences:
  1. It's got a gorgeous new book cover.
  2. There's an Author's Note about the Scottish and Indian history in the book.
  3. A Reader's Discussion Guide is included for book clubs.

For those of you who already read Artifact last year, I've got some fun things planned so you won't feel like you have to wait quite as long until Pirate Vishnu comes out in February 2014:

This October I'll be emailing my newsletter subscribers a Halloween-themed Jaya Jones mystery short story.

And if you haven't yet read "Fool's Gold," the novella that's a prequel to Artifact (Jaya and Sanjay solve a locked-room mystery at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), the eBook on sale for only $.99 cents this week on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I'm not doing any in-person events right now, but I'm appearing at various online venues over the next six weeks, starting today with an interview for Henery Press and a memoir-y post on the fabulous blog of one of my favorite memoir writers, Rachael Herron:

UPCOMING ONLINE EVENTS

TWITTER CHAT with two mystery novelists who write about Scotland
Friday September 6
Noon-1pm PT / 3-4pm ET
Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby historical mysteries (Mortal Arts, Sept 3 2013)
Gigi Pandian, author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series (Artifact, August 6 2013)
Use the hashtag #ScotlandMystery to join the conversation

Whew! It's a good thing I eat so healthily now so I've got the energy to do all this while still working on the third Jaya Jones book! And of course I've got my little gargoyle helpers...



A Book Cover's Unintended Consequences

Once a book leaves a writer's personal computer and goes out into the world, it no longer belongs to the author. Readers give a novel a life of its own through their personal interpretations.

In the few months since Artifact has been out, it's been fascinating to read reviews that focus on different aspects of the novel that the reviewers found compelling. I'm lucky the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far. But what I didn't expect was the reaction to my book cover.

I love my book cover. And from the enthusiastic comments I receive from readers, they love it as well. Then what am I talking about, you ask? I'm referring to the reaction from people who aren't my core audience of female traditional mystery readers.

As a graphic designer, I was able to design my own cover art. Part of a designer's job is strategy. One of the key questions a designer begins with is identifying the target audience. Therefore I studied the book covers of recent mystery novels I enjoyed that I knew had a similar target audiencebooks where I thought if a reader liked one of those books then they might enjoy mine, too. Here's a picture of a few of those books. Notice the similar elements in these books and my own cover.


The problem?

I may have been too narrowly focused. While my book cover has been successful at signaling to fans of "lighthearted, fun, well-researched, puzzle-plot mysteries with a strong-willed female protagonist and a dash or romance" that Artifact is for them, it turns out that the book has the potential for broader appeal.

Here are a few things that clued me in to this unintended consequence of creating a cover for my core readership:

1. ForeWord Reviews is a literary magazine that reviewed Artifact. They have gave it a great review, but in their email blast that promoted the review, they began:  "Don't let Artifact's cover discourage you. It's a classic mystery that will appeal to those who enjoy complex puzzlescomplete with quirky characters, suspense, and romance." Ha! I'm happy they decided to read and review it in spite of the cover. 

2. I've been doing a bunch of events this fall to promote the book. On numerous occasions, men came up to me after I spoke to tell me that my treasure hunt mystery sounded like something they'd love, but that they'd never pick it up based on the book cover. I admit I assumed it would be women who would be my primary readers. But looking at the reviews of Artifact on Amazon, roughly half of the reviews are from men. Live and learn!

3. This is something I already knew, but didn't realize would be an issue: the book cover looks like it could be a Young Adult book. The book is definitely YA-friendlythere's no sex or violence or swearing on the pageso it's appropriate for young teens. The cover is very appropriate in that sense. But I've learned that some people won't pick up a mystery if they think it's specifically for young adults. And the flip side is that some readers enjoyed it as a Young Adult book and wondered why it wasn't categorized as a YA book.

Book covers are completely subjective, of course, so no cover is going to please everyone. Even if I could go back in time, I'm not sure I would go back and change my cover. Though I may lose some readers because of the cover, I'm also able to find mystery readers who have a greater chance of enjoying the book once they pick it up. There are so many books published each yearI read some statistics that put the number at over a millionthat it's important to stand out quickly to the people most likely to appreciate a particular book.

Lastly, styles of book covers change over time. Here's an example of the book cover of one of my favorite books, Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters. You can see how it has changed over the decades.


Will Artifact ever get a new cover? Who knows. For now, I'm having a lot of fun hearing from readers who've found the book, regardless of why they picked it up.

Gigi 

Suspense Magazine Names ARTIFACT One of the Best Books of 2012

I'm so honored that Suspense Magazine has selected Artifact as a "Best of 2012" book in their year-end issue!

This month's issue is free to download on the Suspense Magazine website. I'm on page 46 as one of the best debut mysteries of 2012. It includes a fun little interview in which I talk about a new project I'm working on.






Now I'm off to read the rest of the magazine to get good recommendations before Christmas. If you're a mystery reader and don't already subscribe to Suspense Magazine, I highly recommend you check it out.

--Gigi

Coolest Gift Ever: ARTIFACT Book Art

I really lucked out when it comes to my friends. I had the greatest crew taking care of me last year during chemo, and now look what I received last weekend to celebrate my book launch: book art for Artifact!


My childhood best friend, who I've known since I was about 8 years old, flew into town for the festivities, and she brought me this amazing handmade book she'd commissioned.




Here's what the folded pages look like up close.




I've got the book sitting atop one of my bookshelves, next to my gargoyles.


-Gigi 

Book Launch Party Photos

It was a packed house at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland on Saturday night for the Artifact book launch party. Special thanks to everyone who joined me in person as well as to all of you who let me know you were there in spirit!

The party was a joint celebration for the release of my debut mystery novel and for completing a full year of cancer treatments. I'm happy to report that both activities were a success. Artifact is making more of a splash than I imagined, and my doctors can't find any evidence of cancer left in my body! Here are some photos from the celebration:

The fabulous bookstore staff.

Views of both sides of the store as I began my reading. 


Business manager (er, husband), with Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell. 

With Terry Shames and Sophie Littlefield. 

With my youngest fan. 
(And yes, in case you were wondering, the book is kid-friendly; the little one here is younger than my target audience, but the book is a traditional mystery that would be considered PG-rated.)

The bookstore's children's book room doubles as a signing room. 
After getting my book signed, many attendees bought books for their kids! 

In the signing room with Andrew MacRae and Pat Morin. 





We served a selection of Scotch whisky from the region of the Highlands of Scotland where the novel takes place, and had ARTIFACT coasters as a take-away.




The party was so much fun that it inspired me to get back to work on the next book in the series!

ARTIFACT Goes on Sale Today! Join Me Online or In Person

I can't believe today is actually here! Artifact: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, is officially on sale today. 

I'm kicking off a blog tour today. Please stop by if you get a chance! Links are below.

Online Events
(Check my website for additional listings to come)

August 28: “A Day in the Life of Jaya Jones,” at Dru’s Book Musing

August 28: The story of how Artifact came to be, at Lesa’s Book Critiques

August 28: Discussing book covers, at The LadyKillers

September 5: My “Made It Moment,” at Jenny Milchman’s “Made It Moments” blog

September 6: Interviewed by the Mysteristas

September 14: Treasure Hunting in Scotland, at Novel Adventurers

September 16: Discussing the family history that inspired Artifact, at Buried Under Books



Join me in person at the book launch party for Artifact. Saturday, September 8, 2012, 7 p.m. at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, CA.

Additional events can be found on my website.


This is going to be a short blog post, because there's so much to do today! More soon...

Book Launch Party for Artifact


I'd love for you to join me at the book launch party for Artifact!

The event is being held at the wonderful independent bookstore A Great Good Place for Books, located in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland.

Saturday, September 8, 2012
7 p.m.
A Great Good Place for Books 
Oakland, CA

What can you expect? The party takes place the week after Artifact hits the shelves, so you'll be able to buy a copy of the book, and I'll be signing copies. I'll also read a little bit from the novel and share some fun facts about how the book came to be—but mostly it'll be a fun party at a fabulous bookstore. In keeping with the spirit of Artifact, there will be Scotch whisky from the region of the highlands of Scotland where the book takes place, and other treats.

This book launch party is a joint celebration, celebrating not only the release of my debut mystery, but also the successful completion of a year of cancer treatments! So yes, there's a lot to celebrate.


—Gigi

A Book Cover and a Launch Party

It's an exciting week. I have both a book cover and a book launch party date! Here's the cover for Artifact, the first book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series, which comes out August 28, 2012.


When historian Jaya Jones receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact from India, sent by her ex-lover the same day he died in a supposed accident in the Highlands of Scotland, she discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj. But she’s not the only one on the trail....

The launch party will be Saturday, September 8, at A Great Good Place for Books, a wonderful independent bookstore in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland. More details to follow as the date approaches.