Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Taking care of business

If you could be really good at one part of the business side of your career, what would it be? (Being a better speaker? Being better at organizing your events? Being a promotion god?)

by Dietrich

I try to stay open to ways of improving on the business side of things. When some new way comes along I may want to try it or find out more, but sometimes it just comes down to a question of balancing time for all the other things, like the writing.

It’s good to get out there and participate in reading events, and it’s important to get the rhythm of what I’m going to read. So, I usually read the chapter aloud a few times ahead of time, that way I won’t stumble over my own words. The idea is to sound like I’m telling it rather than just reading it off the page. I’ve heard Canadian author William Deverell a number of times, and he’s a master at engaging an audience and telling the story instead of just reading it off the page. 

As far as promoting myself, I wish I knew the secret, if there is one. I think the best way is to just write the best book I can and gain readers that way, ones who hopefully will like the book enough to look forward to the next one and recommend my books to friends in person and online.

When a new book comes out, there’s the book launch, interviews, a book tour and/or a blog tour, usually all of these. And my publisher ECW Press plays a large part here, making arrangements and connections, as well as getting the ARCs out for potential reviews.

It’s a good idea to sound like I know what my book is about. When somebody asks, I’ve got a short synopsis in my head, a kind of elevator pitch. There’s nothing worse than standing like a deer in headlights when someone asks, “So, what’s your book about?” And the first word out of my mouth is, “Uhh …”

For promotional items, I keep it simple and go with bookmarks for each new title. I pass them out at events, books stores and conferences. Who doesn’t love a bookmark? I’ve considered other kinds of loot, but let’s face it, I can’t bribe somebody to read my book. At every writers’ conference there’s a table scattered end to end with authors’ promotional items from bookmarks, pens, buttons, notepads, pamphlets, business cards and more. Does any of it work, especially when you consider the cost? 

I post upcoming events and any news on my social media pages, as well on my website. The trick is to update the website like clockwork, like every week or more or anytime I have something new to add. And I write here and at my own blog, Off the Cuff.

Networking through writing organizations and taking part in festivals and conferences is a great way to promote and meet others in the business of writing. Conferences and festivals also attract many readers, plus they offer a chance to catch up with friends I’ve made along the way, ones I don’t get to see often enough.
As well as other writing events, I organize Noir at the Bar here in Vancouver, including the one for Left Coast Crime here this past March. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest and would like to come and check it out, the next one happens here on May 1st.

And speaking of self promotion …
Coming October 15, 2019
Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on. The land’s gone dry, barren and worthless. And the bankers, greedy and hungry, make life even more impossible, squeezing farmers out of their homes. The couple can wither along with the land, or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the other farmers. But Sonny comes up with a way for them to stay on their land and prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery.


Paul D. Marks said...

I'm with you on the swag, Dieter. Pretty much keeping it to bookmarks. I think about other things sometimes, but never do them. I don't know if they would make a difference and I think it's probably better to do all the other things you do than spend time and money on a bunch of junk that most people probably won't look at once they get home.

Brenda Chapman said...

I agree that the key to success lies in writing a good book and relying somewhat on word of mouth. However, nothing like a great review to reach the wider audience. I'm also not sure handing out swag serves any useful purpose. Good post, Dietrich.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul and Brenda. Yes, writing the best book we can is key.