Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Making money and spending time

Authors are increasingly expected to shoulder the time and expense of book marketing and promotion. When was/is enough finally enough? Where do you draw the line and why?

by Dietrich Kalteis

The way I see it, promotion is part of effective marketing. Along with the marketing efforts that my publisher puts in, there are the promotional things I do: speaking engagements, writer events, interviews, podcasts, book launches and tours. Updating my website, writing blogs, soliciting reviews and keeping a presence on social media are all part of it. I haven’t tried book marketing services so I won’t talk about them. And I haven’t tried building a list for newsletters, but I think it could be a good way to update and inform readers. Paul D. Marks has a good one that he sends out regularly.

Attending crime fiction conventions and festivals can be costly, but what a great way to network with writers and readers alike. It’s always fun chatting with readers of the genre, and what a fun and supportive bunch those who write about the most heinous things can be. 

Sometimes it’s hit or miss, and the efforts to promote a book don’t pay off like expected. I’ve taken part in some successful book events with great turnouts, but it’s often hard to predict the outcome. Last year I traveled with a carload of author buddies to a reading engagement several hours away, and when we arrived there were more authors than audience. Okay, we didn’t sign a lot of books that day, but we had a great road trip and a lot of fun, and if there’s ever a chance to do it again, sign me up. 

While some things should be obvious — begging readers and stalking agents is out. And nobody needs to tell me to avoid those marketing gimmicks like websites where, for just a few dollars, somebody will sing praises about my book while hula hooping in pasties and a G-string. Other things may be less obvious, like checking that a book’s metadata is right. It’s what internet search engines use to list entries. 

Where do I draw the line on marketing and promotion? That’s easy. It’s not just about making money, but of spending time. If too much of my focus is on marketing and promoting then who’s writing the books? So, while I do my bit, I avoid becoming distracted by anything that keeps me from writing. And that’s the best effort of all, writing a book worth marketing and promoting, earning some good reviews, building a body of work and gaining an audience. 

And while we’re on the subject of marketing and promotion, I’ll mention the German version of The Deadbeat Club, called Shootout, will be out on May 7th through Suhrkamp, translated by Susanna Mende. Also, my sixth novel Poughkeepsie Shuffle will be released September 11th by ECW Press. Then I’ve got a short story called “Bottom Dollar” in Vancouver Noir, a crime anthology by Akashic Books, edited by Sam Wiebe and coming November 1st. Oh, and if you’re in the Vancouver area, our next Noir at the Bar has a great lineup of authors and is set for May 2nd.


Paul D. Marks said...

You make a lot of good points, Dieter. And it’s definitely a balancing act as to how much time to put into the PR vs. the actual writing. But I think they’re sort of symbiotic and you can’t have one without the other.

You mentioned the reading that you went to with your carload of buddies and how there were more authors there than audience. That’s always my great fear and to be honest I prefer promoting on the internet. Not that I don’t/won’t do in person events. But I have an author-friend who drove a long ways to do a reading/signing/talk and you could have put the slogan up, What if they gave an author event and nobody came? Because besides me, there to support my friend, and a couple of librarians (the event was at a library) nobody showed up. But he talked to the librarians for a while and then he and I went out for some drinks…so it wasn’t a total loss.

Congratulations on your new book coming out in Sept. and for the story in Akashic.

And thanks for the shout out. Look out for a new newsletter shortly :-) .

Dietrich Kalteis said...

The only thing I can think of is to have attendees register ahead of an event. It's not a guarantee they'll show up, but it might give a better idea of attendance ahead of time.

RJ Harlick said...

I too have had those events when few people show up. But I didn't view them as a total loss because some of those atetndees became big fans. In part because the event became more a chat with the audience than a formal reading.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

You're right, Robin. Sometimes the best events are those smaller ones that become more of a casual chat.