Elizabeth Spann Craig Has a Good Southern Mystery to Tell Ya'

An interview with the author of the Myrtle Clover and Southern Quilting mystery series

Elizabeth Spann Craig has a mystery to tell you. In fact, she has more than a few stories you can enjoy. Craig’s the author of four mystery book series:

  • Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery Series

  • Southern Quilting Cozy Mystery Series

  • The Village Library Mystery Series

  • Memphis Barbecue Cozy Mystery Series

Craig grew up in Anderson, S.C., a place that inspires the setting of her Myrtle Clover series. But these days she lives in North Carolina. Her Southern Quilting and Village Library series take place in the Tar Heel State.

Craig’s a prolific author. She publishes a novel about every three-and-a-half months. Craig’s latest book is Embroidering the Truth (paid link). It’s book 12 in the Southern Quilting mystery series.

Craig first worked with publishers, but now she self-publishes her work. In the interview below, Elizabeth Spann Craig talks about switching to self-publishing, promoting her work, and more. You can learn more about Craig on her website.

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Interview with Elizabeth Spann Craig

When and how did you start writing mystery novels?

I’ve always loved mysteries and was reading them from second grade on. I started out with Nancy Drew books and then moved on to every children’s mystery series available. After that, I moved on to Agatha Christie mysteries. With all the reading I’d done in the genre, penning a cozy mystery came a lot easier to me than trying any other genre.

All of your books are self-published, correct?

Actually, three of my four series started out traditionally-published. Myrtle Clover started with Midnight Ink, The Southern Quilting Mysteries started with Penguin-Random House, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries were all published with Penguin-Random House. But after book 5 in the Southern Quilting Mysteries and after book 1 in the Myrtle Clover series, I was able to secure my character rights and take the series to self-publishing.

How did you decide to self-publish?

Midnight Ink didn’t want book two in the Myrtle Clover series, but readers were emailing me asking when another would be released. Instead of shopping the series to another publisher, I thought I’d give it a go. I asked for my rights back and published the sequel, myself. It was 2011 at the time and self-published books were doing really well in the market. Soon, my self-published books were doing better, financially, than my traditionally-published books. Taking my character rights back from the Southern Quilting Mysteries, as well, was an easy decision.

How do readers find your books?

This is a question that interests me, too! I’m not entirely sure. I think starting out being published by traditional publishers may have given me a head-start. Aside from making sure my website and books have excellent search engine optimization and sending out a reader newsletter, I haven’t really marketed. But this is changing in 2020.  I’ve just started running Bookbub ads, participated in a Facebook party that a service ran for me, and have participated in two audiobook giveaways.

Do you have any advice for other writers considering self-publishing?

My top tip is that it’s more important to develop a consistent writing habit than it is to set a huge word-count goal. Setting easily-attainable goals and racking up a bunch of “wins” when you meet them is a great way to start a habit. Just set the bar really low…something you can easily make. 

In terms of promo, I’d recommend setting up your website and social media accounts in your own name instead of your book’s name, for branding purposes.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, Ruth Ware, and Elizabeth George are all favorites.

What are some of the best books you’ve read lately?

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane, The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff, Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. I’m currently reading Beartown and am really enjoying it.

Anything else you’d like Bidwell Hollow readers to know about you?

You can find me at my website online at elizabethspanncraig.com. And writers may want to follow me on Twitter (@elizabethscraig) where I share writing links covering a variety of topics.