Fort Wayne author promotes her book in a unique way

"Fear for Hire" is set in Fort Wayne and written by local author Natalie Ellis.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Natalie Ellis started writing when she was in the fourth grade.

“I used to write what I called my ‘little stories’ and I just kept writing more and more,” Ellis, whose married name is Natalie Eggeman, said.

Over the years, she’s written seven books. Her eighth, “Fear for Hire,” is putting her on the official published author map.

“This is what I’ve dreamed of for 20 years,” she said.

The Fort Wayne writer stuck to what she knew and set the book in the Summit City. There are several references to actual places and streets.

“I didn’t want to have to struggle with specifics. This book was perfect for the Fort Wayne market because I had worked here in this market in television. The main character, [Molly], is a reporter and wanted to move on to Chicago. It’s crazy; you never move from Fort Wayne to Chicago. It’s the number three market. But, I wanted her to have a lofty dream,” Ellis said.

“Fear for Hire” is a suspenseful romantic-mystery that starts when Molly, the reporter, gets kidnapped by mistake. The plot takes several twists and turns as the characters try to find out who’s behind the kidnapping. CLICK HERE TO READ A LONGER PLOT SYNOPSIS. The premise actually came from a bizarre real news story where people were kidnapping others as a practical joke. (Watch the video above for an extended interview with Ellis where she talks more about the plot and writing the book.)  

“I thought that’s crazy. Who would think that was funny and then the wheels started turning and I thought, ‘What if I wrote about that,'” Ellis said.

It only took about six months for her to write the first draft. Her goal is to always make each book better than her last.

“I try to make the characters three-dimensional and I have some quotes from HarperCollins on my website saying they did enjoy the characters and they were deep characters. To me, that’s the biggest compliment of them all because that was the hardest thing for me to do to not write the stereotypical characters,” Ellis said.

HarperCollins Publishers allows authors without agents to submit samples of their work online on Wednesdays only. Ellis submitted the first three chapters of “Fear for Hire” and the rest, as they say, was history.

“A week after that, they contacted me and asked for the whole manuscript. Then a week after that, one of the editors told me it wasn’t a sure thing, but she absolutely loved the book and was going to have the entire acquisitions team read it. Shortly after that, all within a month from the time I submitted the first three chapters, they offered me a contract,” Ellis said.
Ellis had tried to publish her other books in the past, so when she got the good news from HarperCollins, she couldn’t believe what she was reading in the letter.
I was absolutely stunned. I was very close many times, but ended up getting as many rejections as Stephen King, I’ll bet. I had to read the note out loud to my husband to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And I still kept waiting to see the word “but” in there somewhere after all the nice things they said about the book,” Ellis said. “I feel validated, finally, after all these years. I think that validation is almost better than the contract.”

“Fear for Hire” is only an eBook for now. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google Play. HarperCollins lowered the price to an introductory $2.99.
“If this book does well, it will be printed as well,” Ellis said. “It doesn’t cost much money to [publish as an eBook] because they don’t have to print the book and they can put all the money into marketing.”
Which Ellis wanted to make stand out. She and her “committee of dreamers,” a group of friends she gathered to help her come up with ways to promote the book, came up with making a book trailer. The idea of a video to market a book wasn’t new, but Ellis wanted to take hers to a new level.
“It looks like a Hollywood movie trailer,” Amber Recker, the director of marketing for PUNCH Films, said. “We felt such ownership of it as we were helping Natalie create this from scratch. It was new. We’ve never done anything quite like that. It was an amazing process.”
Ellis wrote a script. She and PUNCH recruited actors from Fort Wayne. Then the team put in a 13-hour day shooting scenes all around town.
“The edit was also a pretty intense edit. I think it portrays Fort Wayne in a cool light and it promotes Natalie’s book in a way that’s going to be very meaningful and I hope she sells a lot of copies,” Recker said.
NewsChannel 15 got an exclusive first look at the book trailer on Thursday. PUNCH released the first 20 seconds of the 90-second film. You can watch it in the video above.
People can see the entire trailer at the book’s launch party Thursday, April 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cinema Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
The party will emphasize social media’s role in promotion too. Everyone will be encouraged to Tweet and post using #fearforhire.
“We’re hoping everyone gathered at the Cinema Center will be so excited they’ll send out messages so the Internet is bombarded with #fearforhire and hopefully people will buy the book. If they see the trailer, they’ll be intrigued enough to buy the book,” Ellis said.
HarperCollins will also be promoting the launch party and the video trailer.
“This trailer will potentially be seen worldwide, so that’s a nice bonus,” Recker said.
Ellis is already in an agreement with HarperCollins to write two more books and make “Fear for Hire” a series. The second book is about a third of the way written with the working title, “Fear Unleashed.”
“I’m really happy with the characters. It’s a female photographer-reporter. Her name is Belinda, and they call her Billie for short. She will say anything that pops in her head. The hero is the owner of the station and he’s thinking of selling it. There’s suspense in there too. It’s been fun to write and hopefully when it’s done people will have fun reading it.”
Ellis is also giving three percent of “Fear for Hire” sales back to Fort Wayne initiatives.



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