Jinx Schwartz & the Hetta Coffey Mysteries

My guest today is Jinx Schwartz. Raised in the jungles of Haiti and Thailand, with returns to Texas in-between, Jinx followed her father's steel-toed footsteps into the Construction and Engineering industry in hopes of building dams. Finding all the good rivers taken, she traveled the world defacing other landscapes with mega-projects in Alaska, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Like the protagonist in her mystery series, Hetta Coffey, Jinx was a woman with a yacht—and she wasn't afraid to use it—when she met her husband, Mad Dog Schwartz. They opted to become cash-poor cruisers rather than continue chasing the rat, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, turned left, and headed for Mexico. They now divide their time between Arizona and Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

Jinx's seventh book in her award-winning series, Just Deserts: Book Four of the Hetta Coffey mystery series, is her latest release. Her other books include a YA fictography of her childhood in Haiti (Land of Mountains), an adventure in the Sea of Cortez (Troubled Sea) and an epic hitorical/western of the tumultuous thirty years leading to the fall of the Alamo (The Texicans). Readers can find her online at her website and blog

Welcome to the Muriel Reeves Mysteries, Jinx!

Hi Anne, and thanks for hosting me today. You asked me to give advice regarding self-publishing, and what was the easiest, hardest, most frustrating and most surprising discoveries on my trip down the highway to authorship.
With seven books under my belt, most of them in e-book, print, and audio formats, I'd say the best and worst decision I made after completing my first book, The Texicans, was self-publishing it.
Why the worst? In those days getting a book in print was far more difficult and costly than it is today, and publishing it in hardback probably wasn't a great idea. I still have a few boxes of them in a closet. And while it is much easier to publish today, the way is still fraught with potholes.
Why the best? After I published TheTexicans, Books In Motion made an audio, then a small publisher picked it up for paperback. In other words, I put myself out there, costly as it was in dollars, and therefore got someone else to publish me.
So far in my writing career, I've been: self-published, audio-published, small press published, e-book published, and now back to self-published. Do you see a very important word here? Yep: PUBLISHED. Get it published, but whatever you do, get it published right. Edit, edit, edit, and then re-edit. Publishing a poorly edited book is worse than never publishing one at all.
The most frustrating part of being an author is having to spend more time publicizing books than writing (and did I mention, editing?) them. This seems to be true whether you are self-published, or are with a large or small house.
Recently, I ended my relationship with a small publisher because I felt, in this brave new world of Kindle and other e-book venues, it was time to control my own career. I bought out their stock of print books, so haven't had to face that challenge yet, but I am pleased to say my e-book sales have soared. Social networking is key, and I've only begun. I first offered all seven of my books at .99, now they are 2.99. Occasionally I'll cut the cost of my first book in the Hetta Coffey mystery series, Just Add Water, to .99 so readers can get to know Hetta. And when I find someone who wants to review one of my books, I gift them a copy. Reviews are as key to sales as Blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking. 
Just Add Water won an EPPIE for Best Mystery, and the third in the series, Just Add Trouble was a finalist. Another of my books, Land of Mountains, was also a finalist this year for Best YA.
My books are fast reads, breezy in content. One reviewer headlined Just Add Water: Janet Evanovich, but better. Needless to say, I was thrilled with the comparison.
Hetta Coffey is a woman with a yacht, and she's not afraid to use it. She's Texan with a penchant for adventure, and a history of taking on projects (she's a self-employed engineering consultant) where the money leads her. She's not real picky where legalities and locale are concerned, nor whose toes she has to tromp in order to get the job done. Just Deserts, fourth in the series, finds her on the chaotic Arizona/Mexico border, where people are dying even before she gets there. 
Thanks, Jinx. Reader comments are always welcome and appreciated. Become a follower to ensure you receive every author interview, announcement and/or blog post on the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. Until next time, happy reading! J

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Chris Eboch said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I spent years -- some great, many frustrating -- in traditional publishing as a children's book writer, and I'm now exploring self-publishing for my adult romantic suspense. I'm just getting started, so it's nice to hear about other people doing well.

Jinx Schwartz said...

Chris, like I say, just do it anyway you can!

Jenny Milchman said...

Congrats on the EPPIE, Jinx, and best of luck--no matter with which of your publishing paths!!

Karen said...

The world of publishing is changing rapidly. Sometimes it's dizzying how fast the changes are coming. But in fact, I think a lot of the changes are benefitting us as authors. We have many more options now and much more control over our careers.
BTW: I've very much enjoyed JUST ADD WATER.

Earl Staggs said...

Jinx, for a wild Texan who lives on a boat, you make a lot of sense. You tell it like it is and everyone who writes should pay attention.

Jinx Schwartz said...

Oh, boy, Karen, are you right. I just had lunch with another author is WAY ahead of me on the social networking/marketing curve, and by the end of my tacos, my head was spinning.

And Earl, don't we Texans always tell it like it is...or how we think it is?:-)