Ahhh, the joys of self promotion. What could come more naturally to a person who willingly chose a career where days can go by with no contact with the outside world and with whom the majority of their correspondence is done by email? And what’s more – prefers it that way! I know I don’t speak for all writers (so put your hand down, Mr. Lee Child), but I personally long for the Golden Era of Mysteries. Not only would plotting be much easier for me (God help me, but the technology of today has ruined several really good plot ideas of mine), but I envy those authors who bundled up their manuscripts in nice brown paper wrapping and sent it off to the post (preferably by a servant wearing a nicely starched uniform) and that was it! No blogging, no twittering, no Facebooking, no nothing! They just wrote their books and mailed them in. Heaven.
Honestly, it was a good plan. Writers, well, we write. One of the reasons we write, is that we like having that twenty minutes (or more) to come up with the pithy comeback. Some of us need that time. Hell, some of us need days. (Happily, there is no real time in writing where the characters stand around awkwardly while the writer stares blankly at the screen waiting for inspiration to strike.) My point is (yes, there is one) that we are not – for the most part – born fast-thinking marketers (no, I’m not talking to you, Mr. Stephen King).
For me, marketing is a strange scary language. Most of the time, I feel like Charlie Brown when the teacher starts talking. Those weird, faintly duck-like noises? That’s what marketing-speak sounds like to me. (The first time someone asked me if I “twitter” I was indignant.) I grew up choosing my books based on my parents’, teachers’ and friends’ advice. Sometimes it was because of a great review. Sometimes it was solely because of the cover (which lots times really drove home that whole ‘don’t judge a book’ adage). Even today, I’m embarrassed to admit that I still chose books the same way. I tend to rely on word of mouth and reviews – which is why I’m so inept at my own marketing.
My books can be best described as
searingly insightful glimpses into the convoluted mind of the modern-day criminal humorous updates of the classic English cozy (or put another way, Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie). To reach potential readers I set up a website, I blogged, I contacted Amazon reviews and asked if they’d be interested in reviewing, and I contacted a slew of Jane Austen fan websites to see if I could guest blog or if they would like to review my book. I sent my book to newspapers where I had a connection. I made myself available for book signings and went to conventions – both for Austen fans and for mystery writers. I recently bought a book on How to Twitter (in the hopes that the duck-noises will begin to make sense). Like Rebecca asked on Monday - does it work? I don’t know. I wish I did. Sisters in Crime recently conducted a huge survey on mystery book buyers. Although I haven’t fully studied the results yet I did read through some of it. And it seemed – to me, anyway – that the kind of marketing one does depends on the intended readership (yeah, I know- duh!). Is your book geared to Twenty-Somethings? Then, absolutely, blogging is helpful. Do you have an older readership? Then send your librarian a fruit basket. The hard part is when your readership doesn’t fit a certain demographic. How much do you do for each group then? Is it worth it? And, oh yes, while you are figuring out all this fancy marketing you also need to write your books (preferably by deadline). So, if anyone has any ideas – I’d love to hear them (and this time I am including you, Mr. Child and Mr. King).