"There are many different ways for promoting a new book. Which do you feel is the most effective?"
Oh God, I knew tackling this topic on Thursday, having read three previous contributions, was going to give me a bad case of galloping inadequacy.
Group tour . . . (Does a family wedding count?) Newsletter . . . (Does mistakenly hitting reply-to-all count?) Be Louise Penny . . . I'll get right on that.
Just about the best thing a publisher has ever said to me was when Midnight Ink told me my first job in promoting the book was to write a great next book. Writing a book is easier than corralling a street team any day.
It's not as though I do nothing - more that, like Clare said yesterday, I do what I enjoy and it seems weird calling it promotion. Facebook feels like home now, Twitter like popping next door to borrow a cup of sugar, and Left Coast, Malice and Bouchercon are as fixed in the shape of a year as Christmas, New Year and my birthday. (And then there's Bloody Scotland.)
I also think it's a good idea to have an attractive and easily navigable website, with books in order, a press page and contact links. Don't you Google every new writer you come across? I know I want the first thing people find (before the Amazon One-Star Express rolls onscreen) to be what I put there. I had to take a deep breath before I ponied up to Bizango for mine (click here) but I've never regretted it.
What else? Giving books away is a big part of my promotional approach. Large print and audio to the library, prize draws on publication days or to celebrate good reviews, gifts to people who express an interest I can tell falls just short of buying one themselves . . . I think even if these books are discarded they'll be discarded to a thrift store and I first discovered Joyce Carol Oates in a thrift store (and have subsequently given her a decent chunk of my income).
I still can't and will never be able to, if I live to be a hundred, tell someone more than they've asked in the interests of promotion. A typical promo opportunity goes like this:
Potential fan: What do you do?
Catriona: I'm a writer.
PF: Oh? What do you write?
PF: Oh, really? I love mysteries!
C: Me too. Who do you read?
PF: [names some authors]
C: [names some more authors]
And the conversation is safely off of me. If the PF wants to steer it back I can't stop them.