Tag: book promotion

Marketing Mania

One of the worst parts of publishing a book, in my opinion, is marketing said book. When writing, I feel in control. I know the target length for my novel. I know roughly how to tell the story that I want given the desired word count and deadline. I know whom my characters are and the kind of things they would realistically do. I can figure out how to handle edits and I feel relatively confident in my ability to change the story given my editors’ and early readers’ suggestions.  As a journalist for over a decade, writing and editing are familiar to me. Marketing is anything but. What should I do in addition to the online blog tours that my publisher sets up? How should I spend my personal marketing budget?  Ads on Facebook or GoodReads. Effective or no? And, if I do buy them, how much should I spend and what target audience should I select? Should I fill up my gas tank and travel to area bookstores? If so, which ones? Should I pitch articles tangentially related to my book or discussing the research that went into it? And, if so, what publications should I target and why?   And, given that all this takes an incredible amount of time, how many hours a week should I spend on these types of activities at the expense of writing/editing the next book (due Oct. 1).  I don’t know what the right answer is. But I can share what I’ve done so far… I’ve written over 12,000 words of blog posts, articles, and interviews for online publications related to thriller, suspense and mystery novels. I’ve also written thousands of words in pitches to local publications to cover various events related to the book.  I’ve spoken at a handful of libraries and had a book launch at the esteemed Mysterious Bookstore. I am also combining with a local realtor to do a reading at an incredible house with a ton of reading nooks.  I’ve tried to respond to every message on GoodReads and on Instagram related to the book, as well as thank evert reader who enjoyed the novel and recommended it to their followers. Note: I don’t know who any of these folks are before hand. On Instagram, folks tend to tag the name of the book or the author, so I find out who read it and what they’ve said simply from the shoutout/tag. I’ve sent my book to people and production houses that I think might be influential–if they even bother to open the unsolicited mail.  I’ve done some radio interviews.  I have worked out pitches for articles for three national publications and am executing on said stories.  I have done giveaways on GoodReads and through blogs.  I have (and am) blogging I am annoying all my friends by posting way too much on Facebook about Lies She Told.I’ve continually asked anyone that mentions the book in another venue to review on GoodReads and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble too, if they should be so inclined).  Reviewing is caring.  I’ve visited indie bookstores that may be unaware of my book with media kits and offered them books to sell on consignment.  And I still don’t feel like it’s enough.  Any marketing suggestions would be very much welcome and appreciated. What has worked for you?     

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Book Promotion = More Writing

When I’m working on a novel, I write everyday. When I am promoting a book, it feels as though I’m writing every minute.  Why am I spending more time tapping away on a keyboard after finishing my latest novel than I did when I was working on it? In two words…guest blogging. For a debut or little-known author, guest blogging is a key tool in getting the name of your book out there. Sure, we mystery writers are all hoping that stellar reviews will sell our work (and they do). But unless you’re fortunate enough to have landed national press through your publisher, few people will visit your Amazon page to read any of that glowing critical praise. Folks need to either hear about your novel from a friend or read about it on a site that they regularly visit. In the month since The Widower’s Wife came out I’ve written: 2 posts for Booktrib.com (One story has yet to be published. Here’s the story that ran:How I Made Two Cinematic Book Trailers Each For Less Than $500) 1 post for Jungle Red Writers on why a horrible cruise inspired me to write my last novel. It’s scheduled to run on September 21.  1 post on How I Got My Agent for Writer’s Digest.  1 Q&A for Bookhounds. There are pictures of my dog in this one. 1 Q&A for MRS. MOMMY BOOKNERDS 1 article for Medium.com completely unrelated to my latest novel but, hopefully, enjoyable enough that people who like my writing style will consider visiting Amazon. 6 Pitches for articles in newspapers and blogs that would include my bio with a link to my book. 10 Letters to local libraries suggesting that they carry my book and volunteering to come speak. Dozens of book-related Facebook posts and tweets. All this writing is in addition to what I normally do here blogging with my fellow MissDemeanors and working on my next novel. Does all this blogging pay off? Well, I can’t know for certain. But I do know that I didn’t write nearly as much when my debut novel, Dark Turns, came out and I didn’t make any lists, despite pretty good reviews. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to write about writing or that there are so many books out there that writers have to assume much of the promotion themselves. The Widower’s Wife, as of this writing, is ranked in Amazon’s top 100 for all Mystery, Thriller and Suspense books. So I’m guessing that the blogging is having an impact. At the very least, all this writing lets my publisher know that I’m willing to do the hard work of promotion. And if they know I’m working, maybe they’ll work a bit harder getting the attention of other people who will write about my book.        

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Writing in Stolen Moments

Sunday morning. The sky outside my car window is straight out of a Monet painting. Waves of cicada songs swell from the wooded lawn around the parking lot, overwhelming the electric guitar crunch wafting from the open windows in the building behind me. My six-year-old daughter is somewhere inside, jamming on the bubblegum pink Fender that we bought her when she decided Taylor Swift was more of an idol than her mother. I am sitting in the passenger seat with an open laptop. These are the stolen moments in which I write blog posts. Novels demand more extended periods of silence. When working on a book, I start writing at nine a.m., as soon as I return from dropping my kids off at their respective schools and walking the dog. When writing, everything else waits. The cooking. The laundry. The constant cleaning. A half-hour mid-day break is for walking the dog and moving my cramped legs. I swallow a green juice while circling the block or shove a cereal bar in my mouth. I’d be a good customer for soylent. Eating takes too much time.After I return to my manuscript, I work until 3 o’clock sharp. Unless, of course, I am in the midst of penning a particularly good or difficult sentence which takes me until five after the hour, resulting in a mad dash to the car and a rash of apologies to a nursery school teacher for lateness, yet again.  Once my kids get home, I am a full time mom: ferrying them to activities and play dates, sitting beside them at the kitchen table explaining the directions in workbooks or conducting science experiments or building snap circuits. I am cooking—constantly. Cleaning—constantly. At eight p.m., they go to sleep and I spend time with my husband while, likely, folding laundry. Around ten thirty, he sleeps. I edit. Sometimes, I miss being a journalist. Then, I was in an office by eight a.m. and returned home at seven. No one wondered what I did all day. No one questioned the worth of my efforts since, after all, I was earning a salary that put a precise value on an hour of my time. I never had to justify why, despite being “home,”  I really couldn’t make the latest school fundraiser. But, I would always miss writing more. Telling stories is part of who I am. So, though it’s a beautiful Sunday morning, I’m content to sit in the passenger seat of a hot car, banging away on a laptop.   

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Book Trailer Dos and Don'ts

We’ve all seen awful book trailers. You know them. They look like the teaser to the high school AV club’s newest production. They have actors who are as animated as my eight-year-old pug after a steak. The guy doing the voiceover is as garbled as a livestock auctioneer. No one watches past the first ten seconds.  But what makes a good trailer? In my opinion, it’s a trailer that doesn’t try to be a cheap imitation of the film version but revels in the idea that it’s showcasing a book. It shows images for scenes in the story. It gets across the main storyline. Ideally, it has some reviews.  Author C. Michele Dorsey’s book No Virgin Island takes place in The Virgin Islands. So, she showed images of The Virgin Islands and a courtroom. You get a sense, immediately, of setting and tone from the trailer. And that’s the point.  I tried to do this with my book trailer for Dark Turns as well. The story is a thriller that takes place at an elite prep school with a highly competitive ballet dance program. I used the newspaper articles to get across some main plot points in the story. You have to read a bit in my book trailer. Hopefully, if you’re a reader, you don’t mind that.   

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Wednesday's Writing Tip

I have a dirty secret to tell you involving my pants. I do not fly by the seat of them. Writers love to say that they do. They claim that their stories emerge, Athena-esque, fully formed from their split heads: beginning, middle and end intact; armed, even, with a marketing plan. Anything less is not art, they claim. So, here’s another confession. I am more craftsman than artist. My stories are painstakingly plotted. Each chapter is a carefully crafted image in a photo mosaic that I recolor and arrange until the whole can only be seen by standing back. I set out my plot twists like points on a map. Sometimes, I am surprised by how I get there. Sometimes, the characters become different people who refuse to go where I’d like, necessitating another storyline or idea. But, more often than not, they are designed with particular characteristics and backstories in mind that should set them off on the path I’ve envisioned.  If writers are Gods of our little worlds, then I am a deterministic one. My characters can no more escape their inclinations than I can escape my genetic compulsions.  So I don’t sit down and let the muse take me where she will. I cajole her. I conspire with her. And when I write, I know where I expect her to take me. Though, if I get somewhere good, I might take a seat and enjoy the view.   

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