September 12, 2011

Made It Moment: Jeffrey Marks

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:20 am

Under Investigation (US Grant mysteries)

It’s not all the time that I get to welcome an author to the blog who has had a pivotal effect on my writing life. Jeff Marks is the founder of a listserv where I spend time every day. It’s a collegial, colloquial group of writers who come together over marketing advice–but stay together as writers. I have met people there whose work I love; I have made friends. What on earth would the guy responsible for bringing all these talented people together have to say about making it? Well, for reasons that will become obvious as you read, let’s just say that I could relate. Read on.

Jeffrey Marks

Probably telling you that my “Made It” moment happened in a hotel room is going to make some people stop reading about now. But it’s not that kind of story.

At the Bouchercon in Philadelphia, I was waiting anxiously for the arrival of Canine Crimes. I had gone early to the book dealers’ room, but no one had any copies of the book. I was crushed. I’d come all this way only to find out that the event was days before the release of the book.

Fortunately, Ballantine was able to drop ship a box of books to the conference for me. As a result, I stood in my room with approximately 60 copies of Canine Crimes, my first anthology. While I still get a thrill every time I see a new book come into print, it was all I could do not to scream like a little girl that morning.

I took the books down to the bookroom and gave them to one of the booksellers there. I wandered around the room, coming back about every 5 minutes to see if any more copies had sold. Finally, I gave up the pretense and stood at the dealer’s booth, handselling copies of the book. Within 90 minutes, I’d sold them all.

I had to wait another 10 days to get my copies in the mail at my home, but being able to touch and sell copies of my book to mystery fans made it that type of moment. There have been a few since then: being nominated for an Edgar, and winning the Anthony, and every time I get a book accepted for publication. However, there’s something special about seeing a book in print.

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer. After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and Criminal Appetites, an anthology of cooking related mysteries. His latest work is a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It has been nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony.

He is the long-time moderator of MurderMustAdvertise, an on-line discussion group dedicated to book marketing and public relations. He is the author of Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, the only how-to book for promoting genre fiction.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in
Cincinnati, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.


  1. Great interview, Jenny. I’m going to go check out Jeffrey’s on-line discussion group right now.



    Comment by Sandy — September 12, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  2. Made It Moments come in all shapes and sizes. Jeffrey, yours is every author’s dream, to see their book in print and to actually hold it in their hands.

    Comment by Nancy Morse — September 12, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  3. MMA is a great group of writers and that kind of success always starts with the moderator.
    Nice job, Jeffrey and Jenny.

    Comment by ted krever — September 12, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  4. Excellent Made It Moment. Thanks for the insight. I hope MMA has an @MurderMustAdverise, because that is the way I Tweeted the interview.
    Nash Black, Sandprints of Death
    coming soon Visitors

    Comment by Nash Black — September 12, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  5. Nice to meet you Jeffrey and good luck with your mystery fiction endeavours.

    Comment by Doctor Barbara — September 12, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your comments, tweets, and thoughts. I can’t recommend MMA highly enough. The members don’t always agree on how to do this thing called marketing, but the dialog is wonderfully respectful. And that is at Jeff’s lead.

    Comment by jenny — September 12, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  7. Thanks Jeffrey. That’s a great story. Thanks Jenny for sharing. I love MMA. Great resource. Best,

    Comment by Pamela DuMond — September 12, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  8. Thanks everyone. I had a lot of fun doing the interview and I enjoyed it. Also thanks for all the kind words about MMA. :)

    Comment by Jeffrey Marks — September 12, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  9. Wonderful story, Jeffrey! I’d have to agree, there’s something about holding that first book in your hands that is just AWESOME!!

    Thanks for presenting another great story, Jenny!

    Comment by mountainmama — September 12, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  10. It’s great to find out more about you, Jeffrey. I always enjoy reading MMA and learn a great deal from the group.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — September 12, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  11. Another great idea, Jeff: to handsell your books in the bookroom! I like this fighting spirit. I was once at Malice with no books, and what did I do? Hung my head and took off for the bar.Next time I’ll screw up my courage and take action. Thanks for all the terrific advice: at MMA and elsewhere.

    Comment by Nancy Means Wright — September 12, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  12. Jeff, that’s an interesting story. I’ve learned a great deal from the members MWA and never let a digest go by without perusing every post. The quality of the group is the result of your leadership. Thanks for all you do.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — September 12, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  13. Jeff, you’ve helped me in many ways since I met you back at Silver Dagger Mysteries. Intent to Sell and now MMA, just being you–you’re doing a great job. I hope good things continue to come your way. And, being Southern, I never liked U.S. Grant–not until I read your stories. :-)

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — September 13, 2011 @ 5:41 am

  14. Congratulations on nabbing Jeff for a Made it Moment, Jenny. Interesting post, Jeff. It was good to learn a little more about you. that was some bout of hand-selling. You’re obviously a born seller!

    Comment by Geraldine Evans — September 13, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  15. Jeffrey runs a top website for mystery writers and all fans of the genre. It’s nice to know a little of the personal side of the man.

    Comment by M. E. Kemp — September 13, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  16. Wishing you much success Jeff! I will go take a peek at your works now.

    For Jenny: I highlighted you and your blog on my own today for BBAW, if you want to take a peek :) Rae, Best O’Books

    Comment by Rae — September 13, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  17. Why “Suspence your Disbelief” not “Suspend your Disbelief” please?

    Comment by Joyce Holms — September 13, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  18. Good question, Joyce! It’s because I write suspense–and for that we all need suspended disbelief :)

    Thanks so much for visiting, Marilyn! Nice to see you here.

    And thank you very much for doing that, Rae! Going over now.

    Great to see everyone here–Ellis, Earl, Pam, Jacquie, Mountain, Nancy, Geraldine–Jeff is a bring ‘em all together kind of guy!

    Comment by jenny — September 13, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  19. What a great moment to share. We should all have one like that. I’ve read some of Jeff’s work and enjoyed it very much.

    And MMA is a special place where authors so generously share their time and information, thanks to Jeff.

    Comment by Marja McGraw — September 13, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  20. Great to learn more about you! Thanks for all you do that helps all of us grab our dreams :) Hugs and happy writing.

    Comment by Nancy Naigle — September 13, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  21. I’m late to the game having to suffer 24 hours without the internet. Jeff, the MMA group is the most useful chat group I’ve ever encountered and your wise guidance has helped all of us. I have a few great hand selling stories of my own but none quite as bold or successful as your first outing. You set a high bar for the rest of us to follow.

    Comment by Cindy Sample — September 13, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  22. Nice post!

    Cheers Jenny and Jeff,
    Theresa de Valence

    Comment by Theresa de Valence — September 13, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  23. Very nice post. Come visit me over at Livre De Amour-Books of Love Blog. Really like your blog. New follower.

    Comment by Grace Fonseca — September 14, 2011 @ 8:06 am

  24. Thanks for reposting this Jenny! What a fabulous and inspiring made it moment. I would wish Jeff luck but it sounds like he is a freight train headed straight to the top. Can’t wait to check out one of his books.

    Comment by Johanna — September 15, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

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