Thursday, December 4, 2014

"There are many different ways for promoting a new book. Which do you feel is the most effective?"
by Catriona
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?
C: Mysteries.
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.


Kristopher said...

I'd say you are closer to "being Louise Penny" than you think Catriona. (That's a facetious statement of course, because you can be, and should only be, yourself.)

There are some authors, and I include you and Louise in this mix, who seem to slowly rise higher and higher on the consciousness of readers year upon year. It's nothing one can put a finger on, but it is real.

Of course, it all starts with writing damn good books, but I have to think that attending conferences and meeting fans consistently is the hallmark of both Louise's journey and now, yours.

You always have a smile, regardless of if you are talking to a fan, a potential fan, or someone who likely has no interest in your style of book. There are some authors - I won't name names - who write books that just are not my taste, but they are super great people who engage with the public regularly. When I meet fans who I know like those type books, I am always saying "have you read..." even though I myself am not a fan.

And that brings us back to WORD OF MOUTH

Catriona McPherson said...

Kristopher - you are kindness in an orange t-shirt. And thanks for agreeing that going to jamborees is work!

Art Taylor said...

Great post, Catriona! Great points—and love the last one about talking to fans about shared interests in other writers. (And I like your comment here too about Kristpher being "kindness in an orange t-shirt.")

Kristopher said...

I'm adding "kindness in an orange t-shirt" to my business card. :)

(BTW, someday I will take a photo of my closet. There is way more orange than one person should be allowed to own.)