Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mystery Promo

As a mystery book author, I have received a heck of a lot of advice. My mysteries need to be available at every book store in the country, I need to sign at every one of those stores, I should give talks to every library and bookstore who will have me and all of this should be done in the first two weeks after the book is published. It's all pretty interesting if impossible to achieve.
And frankly, I'm at the point where I wonder just exactly how well all of this works anyway. I personally have never bought even one book because of advertising or even because of reviews. I buy books that others who read what I do tell me about but mostly I buy books that I think will be keepers--ones that I will want to read again and again. What that means to me is that the for the most part, I've read others of that author's books and loved them all. I am occasionally disappointed with this method, but not often. Usually, this results in a very small bag of books that I want to give away.

I have seen a lot of authors give readings, most of those didn't happen in the first few weeks after a book was published. I've been to a number of signings. They aren't all that interesting, really. I've bought books in both cases, and sometimes I won't buy a book, because the author did something to turn me off. One author, whose name I won't mention, did a reading with several other authors. During her reading, the silence was palpable. While the other authors read, she chatted with folks and made so much noise, I couldn't hear the other authors. I didn't buy her book.

So all of this is the long way round to saying I think promo is necessary, and I have and will do promo, but I am giving myself permission with this book to make mistakes and take it slower. I've already sent Safe House out to slews of reviewers even though it won't be in print until late spring. And I'm already trying to line up signings and interviews and blog tour hosts. But maybe it doesn't all have to be done in the first two weeks. Just maybe. What do you think?


Anne Carter said...

I think you are doing the right things. It is essential that we begin our marketing campaign well before the actual release of the book. Building a presence, any kind of presence, is very helpful. For every person you touch prior to that release there is one more person that will potentially pick up the buzz about your book.

You can't do everything. You have to pick the things that work for you, interest you, activities that you can get behind with enthusiasm. As to the question of what has to be done at the beginning, I think it's true that SOME types of promo work best at the onset. It just depends on what you are going after. Some (possibly influential) review sites will only accept pre-releases or very current releases for review. Some bookstores will only host signings if your book is currently warehoused at their distributor. So certain things are best done early in your campaign.

Continuation marketing is on-going. Blogs & blog tours, websites, listservs, interviews, etc. can be done anytime, as well as promotion on social networks.

When my most recent book debuted, I was already behind the curve due to my own inexperience. Unfortunately, a death in the family coincided with the release and really set me back even more with getting that brand-new release buzz going. You learn, you go on, you do better next time.


Dana Fredsti said...

I personally love doing live signings (as opposed to dead ones?!) and reading events and think some authors do better than others, depending on personality type and comfort level. Other authors seem to kick butt with their internet presence. It's all a learning curve and you figure out what works best for you as you go along. Best of luck on this!!

F. M. Meredith, author said...

I agree that you should do what works for you and what you're comfortable with.

I've been turned off by a couple of authors whose books I won't buy. One was a moderator on a panel I was one. Beforehand, she warned everyone not to hog the panel--then after we each introduced ourselves, she did all the talking and no one else even got to say a word!

The other one is so snotty at conferences only speaking to a choice group of friends, she reminds me of the so called most popular girls in high school. Ick!


Ben Small said...

I don't like readings. They take time and people stroll in and out, so there's only continuity for someone who sits there and listens. And many authors aren't good speakers. I'd prefer to work a bookstore where I'm signing aggressively, but I've learned to keep my signings to a minimum and focus on target areas, like home towns and former work sites, where I have a lot of acquaintances. I've done well at every book signing I've had, and I've learned that the more books I have out, the better I'll do as some people are so excited to meet an author, they buy a copy of each of my books.

I like to get review copies out early, and I like to focus on libraries, because there are so many of them.

I don't target bookstores for stocking, because of the returns issue. The big ones tend to buy lots of books, if they decide to stock. That's a ready made return nightmare. Yes, to hit the big time, large chains must carry your book. But I'm not there yet, and I have too many friends who have burned by the returns from bookstores that stocked their books.

I don't think ads work. Blogging? The jury is still out... I do it, but if it becomes a distraction from my novel-writing, then it's a problem. There's a balance there, and I'm still learning where the fulcrum comes into play.

Morgan Mandel said...

You ever know what's going to work. The more different things you can manage, the better. My blog today shows an unusual marketing ploy that Random House used. See

Morgan Mandel

Mark Troy said...

It's all about getting your book in front of the buying public and creating buzz for it. Buzz lasts only until the next book comes along with more buzz.