We’re always seeking new ways to promote our books. One of the benefits of belonging to this group as well as to national organizations of crime writers such as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America (I also belong to a British one called Crime Writers Association) is sharing marketing ideas.
After promoting my new crime novel to the usual online, broadcast, and print mystery media where I hoped (okay, begged) for reviews and interviews I realized that there are many other publicity outlets worth approaching that are outside-the-box and neglected by many authors.
“Yes, indeed,” I wrote to a gentleman in Virginia, USA. “I believe I am definitely qualified to join your organization. My family played an active part in the St. Ives, Cornwall community when we lived there.”
This email conversation with the Cornish-American Heritage Society came about after the first book in my mystery series, “Digging Too Deep: A Tosca Trevant Mystery,” was published. I had endowed my amateur sleuth with a vocabulary of Cornish cusswords and a penchant for brewing tongue-curling medieval mead from the land of the piskies (Cornish pixies). My initial reason for seeking out the Society was to get back in touch with my roots and because my main character is a Cornishwoman. I was worried I’d forgotten parts of my heritage by living in California. Happily, I gathered a new vocabulary of naughty words.
The Society has a newsletter that reports on various goings-on in Cornwall and on ex-pats. One delicious news item that caught my eye was that the Duchy of Cornwall (as we call provinces) was contemplating opening up an embassy in London now that the Cornish are finally recognized as an official minority! Tosca can have fun with that in her next book in the series, I thought. Then, lo and behold, I noted that the newsletter also ran book reviews. Well, icing on the cake. The review and a blurb of my book appeared in the next issue. I noted, too, that with the Society holding events all over the U.S they provide signing opportunities. When I attended the international Gathering of the Cornish Bards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I had a book table, and quickly sold out.
Are your settings on your web site? On mine, www.jillamadiomysteries.com, I have added a page about the small fishing village of St. Ives that includes a photo of its 1312 pub, The Sloop Inn, which is still selling pints. — a topic for the brewing trade publications? On second thought, Tosca brews medieval mead but makes such a hash of it I wouldn’t dare query them although two of her recipes are being published in a new cookbook anthology.
I also sent a copy of the book to the St. Ives Archive which maintains an online site as well as a gift shop that sells books. (Shouldn’t I be hired by the Cornwall Council as a roving ambassador?)
Another avenue for publicity came from a friend in New York, a leading classical music critic. He writes an internationally-syndicated column for ConcertoNet.com distributed in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and on the island of Karguella for all I know. He’d helped me with research for the music in both my mysteries and my current WIP, and surprised me with a lengthy review. After it appeared in the Bangkok Post, Thailand I heard from a reporter I worked there with years ago. She now owns a specialty music museum that I’ll include in a future book. Again, grist for the mill.
Some authors combine their non-literary careers with the fiction they write as a platform and pursue marketing on both fronts Sheila Lowe, president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, bases her protagonist in the Claudia Rose series on her daily job. Lowe’s expertise and testimony in real court cases gains her entry and access to legal publications, legal blogs, and online sites where she can discuss cases involving forensic graphology and at the same time promote her novels, even if only as a tagline.
The list of custom blogs like ours here at The Writers in Residence is growing by the week and they are looking for content. If you write about wine, gourmet cheese or other foods are you or your publicist sending ARCs to baker and grocery organizations and their trade publications such as the Costco newsletters? To crafts and pet magazines? How about a review copy to women farmers’ associations? The Internet is chock full of hobby newsletters that probably one of your characters enjoys although I doubt there is a milkmaids fellowship.
I used to write an automotive column and sent my book, which features a vintage Austin-Healey, to my pals at car magazines. Alumni and club publications, too, welcome notices of new books of grads and members. Hit them up for a talk and write on their blog. Platforms such as these provide ideas for finding new and unusual opportunities to promote your book. Turn over that stone! I wrote a biography of a World War II fighter ace and give power point presentations to which I bring along my mysteries, too, of course. Likewise, when I am invited to be a speaker on ghostwriting memoirs.
I’m sure there are many other unusual outlets worth exploring. Let’s share!
15 thoughts on “PROMOTING BOOKS VIA IMPROBABLE PUBLICITY OUTLETS by Jill Amadio”
I think it’s always great to find places outside the box to promote, Jill. And I keep talking about putting a page on my website to deal with places and other things from my stories, but so far haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe your column will motivate me.
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Thanks, Paul. I’m sure there are many more outlets than I mention – just takes a bit of imagination and you have plenty of that! Good luck with your site.
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Paul, were you the replier (!!) who mentioned a couple of blog sites worth checking out? I think one was Bookends or something. Thanks for a repeat, that particular email vanished. I’m at email@example.com
Jill, You have definitely made me think outside the very small box I usually find myself in. But there are other avenues if we writers only take a stroll down one or two. Thanks for the motivation.
Jill, You asked us to share ideas. Here are a few that I want to work on. Since readership seems to be going down except for older folks, tapping into retirement homes can be an avenue. And since the only way to stimulate any interest in reading is to start with kids in schools and their reading programs, there is an avenue. Even if mysteries might not be young people’s main interest, it still could lead them to reading a good mystery. (Think what Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys did to our age group.) And promoting writing in schools can also lead to more reading. It’s a start.
Good idea, Gayle. I live in Laguna Woods, a senor community for 55 and over. The average age here is 68 so I made the grade! I joined both writers clubs here but older people, it seems, prefer the library and are a little cautious about spending money in case they run out of it before the Grim Reaper arrives. I found that giving talks sells a few books at these clubs, as well as at other clubs here. I wrote a WWII biography of a fighter ace and gave a talk to the Aerospace Club, and to the Video Club and Film Club about my Rudy Vallee book – sadly out of print but an opportunity to sell my mysteries. I also picked up some editing jobs. I am also a contributor to these clubs anthiologies.
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Gayle, thanks for the comments. Sometimes all we need is a small nudge.
Wow, Jill. You’re creative not only in your writing but also in your publicizing it! Fun post!
Thank you, Linda. Just wish marketing wasn’t so time-consuming. See you Sunday at OC SinC.
Such great ideas, Jill. You’re right – thinking outside the box is key. We must be as creative in our marketing as we are in our storytelling. My writers group in Washington rents a booth at the farmer’s market to sell our books, which are locally made and sourced products. Plus, if you forget them in the trunk of your car, they won’t rot like those strawberries (ha ha).
Thanks, and that’s a great idea, Miko in every aspect of your produce!
Good post, Jill! I lag behind in promotional ideas (mentally figuring them out, and then actually doing) So your post was great inspiration for “doing it!” You’ve given me several ideas.
Great post, Jill. I love the idea of adding a settings page to my website. I feature settings on my Pinterest page but Pinterest has never taken off for me. I’m part of an anthology called 50 Shades of Cabernet. We haven’t been successful in getting our print books into wineries (we thought it would be a cinch) but some of the ideas you mention, like the Costco newsletter, might work. You have a good point about folks in retirement homes being reluctant to spend money on books. Also they might not have the physical room for them. But many older folks use ereaders and ebooks are less expensive alternatives to print.
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Maybe you could talk wineries into a wine tasting book event along with other authors who include wine in their books, or at stores that sell wine accessories.
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WOW. Jill, you really gave us all a goose in the right direction of publicity, opening our eyes to so many ways to promote books. Now, when I finally get mine done, I will have some ideas of where to promote. The setting (Malawi, Africa) in my children’s book should bring several ideas of publications and organizations to contact. Thanks!