Tag: book marketing

How do I look?

So I just got my new author photo, which I love, but it also makes me think of all the previous photos I’ve had taken and where I was in my life at that time. Author photo 2022 Here is my most recent photo and I look hopeful, I think, and friendly. This was the first time I ever had a photo taken outside, in natural light, in front of a tree. No make up, except for my regular make-up. A little dog was running around the lawn. The photographer, Robyn Field, had me get to the shoot a half hour early, so we’d have a chance to chat. This is probably why I don’t look incredibly tense and my shoulders aren’t hunched. Author photo 2017 This is my author photo from 2017. It’s way more formal. I was, and am, working on a book about Anne Boleyn, so I was trying to channel that vibe. It took about an hour to put on all the make up I was wearing. False eyelashes and so on. Author photo 2015 Then there’s this one, from 2015. This is definitely channeling a church lady vibe. I feel like I should be handing […]

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Loglines

I spent last weekend as a workshop leader at the NY Pitch conference, listening to various editors and agents talk about the importance of the logline. Loglines, also called elevator pitches, are one-or-two sentence descriptions of a novel that are meant to hook the reader. Here’s the logline for my story that was just in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: Beleaguered middle-aged woman teams up with the ghost of Anne Boleyn to solve a murder. Her own. Almost every writer I’ve ever met has hated loglines, mainly because they force us to boil our 90,000 carefully written mystery novels into something you could spit out in an elevator. Where’s the nuance? However, they do sell books. So my question for my fellow Miss Demeanors was: Do you have a logline? Would you like to share it here? Or do you hate them and never want to hear about them again? Tracee de Hahn  That’s the perfect logline for your story (everyone rush out and read it now in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine)! I want to see more of Anne and her new friend, let’s hope there are more murders in their future. On to your question . . .  I had a […]

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5 Reasons Why Book Reviews Matter

When readers see authors asking, sometimes begging for reviews of their books, they may wonder why are they doing this? Let me offer five reasons why. 1. Improves the Relationship Between Writers and Readers Writers and readers have an unspoken relationship based upon communication. The writer “gives” the story to the reader who “receives” it. This creates a circle of sorts. Without reviews, which can be formal or informal, depending on the form of the review and whether it is being done by a professional reader (reviewer) or a consumer of books, the writer is left in a vacuum, not knowing whether her book pleased her reader. 2. Improves the Book’s Visibility Reviews provide visibility for books and the people who write them. If readers don’t know about a book or an author, they lose the opportunity to discover both, and the writer doesn’t get to connect with the people for whom she has toiled. 3. Visibility Results in Increased Sales Sales are what support writers and reviews help create them. Like it or not, money does talk. When readers see a review that demonstrates people are so excited about a book that they stayed up all night finishing it, […]

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Self-Publishing: Five Myths

There’s a lot of interest in self-publishing among authors—even those who have been traditionally published in the past. The problem is that there is so much false, outdated, or just plain wrong info out there that it’s hard to know what to think. I made the leap to self-publishing my mystery novels less than a year ago, but I spent two years researching and learning about how it works and what I could expect—and making some mistakes—that by now, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the truth. I’m coming up on the publication of the third mystery novel in my Fin Fleming thriller series, and I’m very happy with my results. So in hoped that those of you who have been reluctant to test the waters might find this info useful, here goes. 1.    Self-publishing is expensive Self-publishing may require the author to make some investments, but the difference between what a traditionally published author and a self-published author must spend before publication is not that big. For example, many authors hoping to self-publish will hire a developmental editor, a copy editor, and/or a proofreader before they submit their manuscripts to querying. So do most serious […]

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Connecting With Readers

So, the AMA on Snapchat was fun yesterday. More than thirty readers weighed in with questions asking everything from how I create characters to my personal political views (it’s Twitter, where so much tends to skew Trump. What can you do?). You can check it out here.   In keeping with the social media-centric posts this week, I asked the MissDemeanors to weigh in on their favorite tools were to connect with readers. Here’s what they said.  Susan Breen: I love twitter. I’ve come to the conclusion that I see the world in 140 character bites. I love the whole retweeting thing, which allows me to interact with people I might not otherwise. It’s a sort of living diary, for me. Alexia Gordon: I like Facebook and Instagram as my go-to social media tools. Conferences are how I meet readers face-to-face. Paula Munier: I interact with readers on Facebook and twitter—and that’s fun. But I really love meeting readers (and writers!) in person at conferences and bookstores and library events. Robin Stuart: Twitter is my go-to for online interactions. I’ve tinkered with InstaFaceSnap but have had the most consistent experiences with readers and writers on Twitter. I also agree with Paula. The networking and mingling at conferences and workshops can’t be beat. I meet a surprising number of crime fiction fans at Sisters in Crime and MWA events. Prior to joining the organizations I expected the events to attract only writers. Meeting and hearing from enthusiastic readers is a happy bonus. Another tool that I like (and keep hoping mentions my latest book) is The Skimm. A daily email that summarizes the news for its five million readers, The Skimm also highlights books of interest on Fridays. The newsletter was started by two, now 30-something, NBC News producers for millennials that need to know what’s going on in a nutshell before heading to the office.     

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The New Social Media Frontiers

We all know about Facebook, Twitter and (hopefully after my last post) Instagram. But what about all the other ways to interact with readers online? How do we reach readers on new platforms?  Today, at 4 p.m., I’ll be doing something that I never tried before. I’ll be participating in a Ask Me Anything interview on Snapchat. I am hoping that the questions will focus on my books and the writing. But, it’s Ask Me Anything, so we’ll see.  According to one of the organizers of the Snapchat AMA, Author Joe Clifford, that last AMA they hosted resulted in 51,000 tweet impressions and 12,700 video views. That was nearly 6X the engagement that the author usually received from tweets.  I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are some must follow book snapchatters that I learned about this morning, courtesy of BookRiot. On their list is MyBookBath, a snapchat by a Vancouver book blogger who takes videos and photos of beautiful book swag and bookshelves. BookRiot has a snapchat too that’s made lists on blogs such as iDiva. And, if you’re joining the snapchat book community, there are some lenses to try that will spruce up your posts. Barnes & Noble recommends “Rotting Pig Head on A Stick” (It’s a Lord of the Flies reference) and Book Cover Face Swap (which puts your face on your favorite book cover).     

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The Right #: A Bookstagram Guide

Forget Facebook. The book community is on Instagram and you can find them if you follow the right tags.  The first one to use and search for is #bookstagram. The reader community uses the hashtag to mark anything book related on the site and it’s been used more than 15 million times on the site. It’s basically the goto search term to find photos of books that folks are reading and tons of reviews. It’s not the only one, though. When posting about my books I often use the tags #thrillerbooks, #suspensebooks, and #suspensethriller, too. I’ve also seen plenty of folks use #mysterythrillerbooks and #mysterybooks. The latter hashtag has the mosts posts associated with it, so it’s a good catch all for the mystery/thriller community that gets significant search traffic.  Another useful hashtag, if you have a pet and a book to market, is #readingbuddy. People love their pets. They love their books. They combine them on instagram to adorable and wonderful marketing effect. Thanks to petbookclub for this post!  Another great hashtag is #bookfetish. Use this one for all posts involving love of books or when you buy a book. And, if your book is on one of the lists, always mark it #bestseller.  Tomorrow, I’ll mention some of my favorite bookstagrammers! 

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Swag or No Swag

 The thriller and mystery writer community’s biggest annual bash starts tomorrow in New Orleans. In the midst of packing for my 7a.m. flight today I made a big decision: NO SWAG. At last year’s Bouchercon, I brought a suitcase full of free giveaways to promote my first novel, Dark Turns. Bookmarks. Stress balls with my blue-hued book cover on them. Folders with a sticker advertising my personal Web site. Three boxes of business cards. I was cheap by comparison to some of the swag-laden authors that I encountered. Some writers splurged on custom printed pens. I saw t-shirts with pithy quotes from novels. A few scribes that I knew splurged on custom canvas bags with their book covers emblazoned on the front.  Aside from the bags and perhaps pens, I’m pretty sure most of the giveaway items ended up in the garbage. People fly to these conferences with carry-ons to avoid checked bag fees. The last thing most authors want after shelling out a bunch of cash for airfare and hotels–not to mention drinks at the bar–is to pay more to bring home additional luggage. It’s enough that authors tend to end conferences with a bunch of books that must be shoved into their bags or shipped home.  This year, I am bringing myself, one box of business cards and two copies of my book, which I’ll likely gift to friends. That’s it. The Widower’s Wife took a year of my life to go from first draft to finished product. In my opinion, it’s pretty valuable and so is everyone else’s book who will attend the conference. Authors and fans know better than to expect a writer to giveaway a year’s worth of their time for free. And I highly doubt that a stress ball will sell my book any better than a business card with some of my reviews featured on the front, the book cover and my photo–so whomever I passed my card to can remember who I am among the many, many people he or she is sure to meet.  Am I making the right decision? I don’t know. What is your opinion on swag? Wonderful or wasteful?    

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Pitch Not-So-Perfect

             I tell long stories. Shortening them has always been a struggle.            From the time I was a child, I’d go on and on with details, trying to give a sense of place and character, while my overworked parents begged for the bare facts. Later, I became a newspaper reporter and the scourge of copy editors. Daily, I’d beg for another inch of newsprint to include a detail that I felt crucial to my story as the higher ups dismissed my pleas as trying to include needless, scene-setting “color.” Things weren’t much better when I moved to writing for business magazines. Serious people, I was told, didn’t want to know that some tech giant had twenty kinds of cereal in their cupboards. Such “fascinating” details were superfluous.            Eventually, I left daily journalism for fiction writing. Doing so felt like moving from a cramped New York city studio to a New Jersey McMansion. I was loaded with space. Finally, I would have eighty to a hundred thousand words to tell a story.           Imagine my disappointment when I learned that nearly every long-form writer needs to pen a pitch.            Pitches are the universe’s way of checking my ego. All the pride I feel after finishing a novel tends to dissipate when I’m forced to write the one page summary. In some ways, writing the pitch is worse than writing a short article. At least when I was a newspaper reporter I hadn’t already crafted my perfect story and then been told to write the Spark Notes version.            Thankfully, my agent has given me some sage advice on writing pitches. She’s told me not to try to get in every character arc or plot point. Agents and editors want a sense of the protagonist and the main problem. Maybe they’ll read about a subplot if its truly germane to the main action. They want a taste of my writing style. The pitch itself should leave the person pitched wanting to read the book, not feeling as though they already have.            Perhaps my favorite piece of pitch advice was to answer the questions: What If and So What. I used the technique to pitch my latest published book: The Widower’s Wife. WHAT IF a young New Jersey housewife fell overboard on a cruise ship with a large life insurance policy and an investigator must decide whether her death was an accident, suicide or murder. SO WHAT? And the life of her young daughter and others hang in the balance of his decision.  Here’s how the pitch came out:   Ana Bacon, a beautiful young housewife, tumbles off a cruise ship into dark and deadly waters, leaving behind a multi-million dollar life insurance policy for her small daughter. Investigator Ryan Monahan is a numbers man. So when his company sends him the Bacon case, he doubts that her death is the tragic accident that it seems. Initially, he assumes suicide. But the more Monahan uncovers about Ana’s life the more he realizes how many people would kill to keep her secrets hidden and that his ruling on the payout could leave a murder free to kill again.  What do you think about pitches? What is your favorite method?

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