Tag: #bookmarketing


The Artist and the Entrepreneur

I love themes. I’m the kind of person who plays bachata in the background if I’m hosting a dinner party with Central American cuisine (my sister-in-law is from Belize and got me hooked on bachata) and chanson for French. The reason I bring this up is because it’s launch week for Tracee’s second Agnes Lüthi Mystery A Well-Timed Murder.  Perfect timing for a week devoted to what’s really involved in getting your book out there into the world. With my own pub date set for this August, I’m learning quickly that it’s not just about the edits.  Spoiler alert: being an author requires a lot more than writing. It’s easy to think of writers as artists, but writing is also about producing something and getting that something to the people who will want it. In other words, a writer lives both in the world of the artist and the world of the entrepreneur. Exhibit A is Tracee’s elegant Tour Postcard below. After the writing and rewriting, the back-and-forth with an editor, then a copy editor, then a production editor, finally there’s a book. …but that’s just the beginning. That’s when the entrepreneur joins the artist. That’s when you do book readings, post videos, be interviewed, attend conferences, write guest blogs, send out newsletters, find a publicist. OR NOT. What I’m discovering as I stumble into this world is that there are as many options for what an author can do as there are opinions about what an author should do. My fellow Miss Demeanors will share their thoughts on the topic this Friday. In the meantime, if you’re in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia or Texas, I know someone who’ll be signing her latest book about a Swiss-American police officer who is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.       

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Talking Murder, Red Shoes and Cocktails with L.A. Chandlar

 For those of you who get the Fresh Fiction Box every month, you’re already familiar with the Barnes and Noble best-selling author L.A. Chandlar (Laurie). Her first book in The Art Deco mystery series, The Silver Gun, was published this fall. The second in the series, The Gold Pawn, is scheduled to be released in September 2018. Laurie and I first met at an event for the New York Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Anyone who’s met Laurie can attest that her energy and love of life are infectious. She’s brought all that enthusiasm to her books and the business of writing. Between work, traveling for book signings and being a mom to two boys, Laurie has very little extra time. Luckily for me, we live in the same neighborhood and were able to meet up for a cocktail and a chat about writing.   D.A. Bartley: For those who aren’t familiar with the novel, can you give us a synopsis of The Silver Gun?
L.A. Chandlar: Sure! 1936, New York City, when Lane Sanders, aide to Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, is threatened by an assailant tied to one of the most notorious gangsters in the city, even the mayor can’t promise her safety. Everything seems to hinge on an elusive childhood memory of a silver gun. With a mounting list of suspects, Lane must figure out how the secrets of her past are connected to the city’s underground crime network – before someone pulls the trigger on the most explosive revenge plot in New York history… D.A. Bartley: Mayor La Guardia is a central historical figure in your mystery, but you don’t focus on the shanty towns in Central Park, breadlines or soup kitchens. What guided you in your portrayal of New York City during the 1930s? 
L.A. Chandlar: I moved to NYC just after 9/11, and I saw first-hand how a big city handles adversity: with a lot of compassion, humor, art, sacrifice, and cocktails. Around that time, I picked up a biography on Fiorello LaGuardia, New York City’s 99th mayor, and I was fascinated with him (he’s hilarious) and the time period. I found I had pigeon-holed the Thirties into ONLY the Depression. But there was so much more coming out of that time that just the Depression: the art and music was incredible, women were rising in the workforce, the wit and humor was fabulous, and of course the cocktails! I wanted to tell that part of the story. I love the tension of that time. It was the era of the soup lines at the same time is was the era of the cocktail. I think it’s a story that has something for us today. I love that the era was full of innovation and magnificent art that changed the world – despite adversity.
D.A. Bartley: Among your many talents, one thing that has impressed me about you, Laurie, is your originality with marketing. Even though I didn’t win any (hint, hint), I loved the chocolate sauce give away at your Barnes & Noble signing on 86th Street. Can you tell us what you’ve done to get your book noticed?
L.A. Chandlar:  Well, I always figure it doesn’t cost anything to be creative. There are two points in marketing. One point, is to just get your book noticed. The second point is to make it memorable. Since this is my first book with a major publisher, I wanted to do things that made it (and me) stand out. I started thinking about anything that is visual about the series, and that might connect with other organizations. Visually, the protagonist loves her red Mary Jane shoes. So, I started the #RedShoeSquad. At signings and conferences, I gave away fun swag to anyone who wore red shoes. I found a great bottle opener that was literally a silver gun (like the title) and a cool red velvet choker / bracelet with a silver gun charm. The funny thing is, they were cheaper than the typical swag like pens and post-it notes. When I was at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, I wore my red shoes and I had several people stop me and tell me they’d seen my shoes on Twitter. I start a lot of videos with a shot of my red shoes as a visual cue. Another major marketing tool was from the fact that art is a major theme. I wanted to emphasize the potency of art in our own lives, and during the Art Deco period. So there is a piece of art that is highlighted and in the background of every novel, that comes alongside the main character –and sometimes a villain– as they navigate their story. The Silver Gun takes place in 1936, the year the Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia founded the first public arts high school, also known as the Fame School, from the TV show and movie in the Eighties. I organized a book fair with Barnes & Noble that benefitted the school. It was so fun! So it not only got my book noticed, but it was a great way for my work to “give back.” We even had several freshman parents contribute a large donation that enabled us to fulfill the entire Wish-List from the librarian.
The chocolate sauce you mentioned –I’ll bring you some– is actually mentioned a lot in the book. Sanders is an old candy company from Detroit and the protagonist was born there. So that was a natural choice for a fantastic gift. Again, it links in with the book, but also makes it stand out. 
D.A. Bartley:  Which of your marketing techniques have been the most successful? Have there been any surprises?
L.A. Chandlar: There are so many marketing things you could do, that it’s very daunting. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend all your time marketing and never writing. OR you can be paralyzed by all the things other people do. The key, I think, is finding what you do best, and what brings you life when you’re doing it. If you do things that suck the life out of you, you’ll kill yourself. It will all become a chore and it won’t come across as authentic. I like events and creative marketing. I love videos and those are big hits. I also love cocktails and since this era was the era of the cocktail, I give vintage cocktail recipes in my newsletters. The videos and the cocktail recipes get a LOT of hits. Those are the two most successful things. I think the biggest surprise to me, is that even with all the things I’ve done, I still get overwhelmed with the amount of marketing you have to do. I still wrestle with finding a balance. You have to continually kick yourself in the pants and remind yourself that there’s room for all of us, we each have a unique story that only we can tell, and just STOP COMPARING. Self-awareness is one thing, but when it turns to self-doubt, it’s never –ever– helpful.
D.A. Bartley: Will you give us a teaser for book number two?
L.A. Chandlar: Yes, it’s yummy. It’s a sequel, but it will be able to be read as a stand-alone, too.
A family friend of the mayor’s, a notable NYC banker, vanishes without a trace. Days later a bloody knife belonging to the beloved friend is found. In the back of a notorious criminal. As an old underground crime network seems to be rising again, Lane Sanders, aide to the mayor, decides to go back to her hometown of Detroit, Michigan to face the ghosts of her past, in hopes that she’ll find clues to unravel both the mystery of the missing banker and the newly resurrected crime syndicate that threatens the city. As Lane tries to discover the meaning of a gold pawn, the seeming lynch pin of the organization, she realizes the real question isn’t what is the gold pawn, but who?
D.A. Bartley: For all you L.A. Chandlar fans, Laurie is holding a Social Media Sweepstakes. You’ll be automatically entered for every social media post with a photo of you and The Silver Gun and for every review posted (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, etc.) before November 10th. The Grand Prize is a great one: Laurie will name a character after you in her next book The Gold Pawn. 

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Does Radio Sell Books?

In twenty minutes, I will call into another live radio show to promote my book The Widower’s Wife. I enjoy these interviews. For the most part, the radio hosts sound happy to discuss themes in my novel and my writing process. They give me a chance to tell my story. If the hosts genuinely liked the book, they’ll say so, which is a nice ego boost, particularly for someone who spent six hours-a-day for the past eight months in relative silence crafting and, then, rewriting a ninety-thousand word book. What writer isn’t thrilled hearing that someone read her work, let alone liked it?  But, aside from the aid to my fragile scribe psyche, are radio interviews worth the PR investment? Do they sell books?  My experience is YES. Here’s why:  Amazon’s author central provides a map showing where my sales have been geographically. (SEE MAP)  I live in the New York area and have concentrated most of my marketing efforts and book tours there. Not surprisingly, most of my sales have come from the dark blue area in the North East. I also have a family contingent on the West Coast that has been very supportive and helped get the word out there to book clubs, so that partially explains the concentration of sales in the Los Angeles and the Bay area.  Radio, I believe, is largely responsible for several of the light blue areas on the map. Last year, I was fortunate to be on culture shows in Des Moines, Iowa; Ocala, Florida; Orange County, New York; and Philadelphia, PA. As you can see from the map, those areas where I did radio have larger concentrations of sales (shown as a mid-blue) than other areas.  For The Widower’s Wife, I plan to do more radio and podcasts. I hope that those mid-blue areas will get to a nice, rich navy this time around.   

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Turning Myself In, Getting The Word Out

I flip back the calendar page. I’m late with these things. For me, the month does not officially change until the Monday following the first. Already, August is marked. A circle surrounds the box for the ninth. Scrawled inside in my ever-evolving shorthand are two words: “Launch day.”  My second book, The Widower’s Wife, comes out Tuesday.  For me, a book launch is a painful metamorphosis. I am someone who hides out for hours in the sparsely decorated office above the garage, hunched over a laptop, listening to the wind beyond the window and the voices in my head whispering of mysteries and murders. Now, I must transform into an author who talks about her book, blogs about her book. Sells her book.  Certainly, I’m proud of my new thriller. But I was raised, like most people, not to brag or grandstand. If you do something you’re happy with, be humble, don’t say, “look at me and what I did. Have you seen the reviews!!!??? Check it out.  Buy it now!”  Yet, if you’re an author, that’s part of the job description. You can be, perhaps, a bit more subtle. But you have to get the word out about your work. There are radio interviews, blog tours, visits to book clubs, conferences and, if you’re lucky (read: famous), a publisher-paid-for bookstore tour. If you don’t do these things, you run the risk of being labeled a “writer”–not an author. Someone who fells trees in the forest and is happy to have no one hear the sounds.  So, how do you get the word out? Well, blogs are one way. There are different opinions on how often to blog. Daily seems to be the minimum. Search Engines check for fresh content. And, while hacking Google’s search algorithm is akin to cracking MIT’s time-lock puzzle, everyone knows that stale web sites tend to drop in the results.  But how do you write and still have time to get the word out? One way is to team up with other writers and divide up the work. Missdemeanors is a group of great women writers all seeking to share personal anecdotes and tips on the writing process, publishing and the writing life. We switch off weeks so that no single person has the burden of finishing her latest novel and keeping a daily blog up-to-date.  I am happy to be included in this bunch. And, so, I’m turning myself in and getting the word out:  My name is Cate Holahan. I write mysteries, invent murders and imagine all sorts of twisted scenarios. And if those are misdemeanors, well, guilty as charged.   

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