Get Out Of The Trenches, And Get Your Name Out There! By Susan Sundwall

I write comic cozy mysteries. I am not famous. I’m down in the trenches, trying to get my name and titles out there. My publisher is small and my marketing budget is, too. Can you relate? On more than one occasion I’ve wondered if I should simply get a job at the bank, and forget this whole writing dealy-bob. It’s a tough slog. But, take it from me, good things can happen if you hang in there.

In addition to mysteries, I write light romance. I’ve tried selling them to one high paying women’s magazine for years. They’ve rejected every story. So, maybe romance is not your strong suit, I said to myself. But, when a small publisher put out a call for romance submissions, I re-worked six of my rejects, and submitted them. A few months later they published those stories in a stand alone anthology and the reviews had me dancing around the room.

Perhaps you belong to a writer’s group. That’s where I met the 2014 winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She sat in at one of our meetings, and listened to me read from my first mystery. I was a quaking wreck. But later, she told me I’d made her laugh. I was beyond flattered, and stunned, when she invited me to do a guest spot on her blog.

In addition, we became Facebook buddies. I followed and commented on her cross country book tour. A year or so later, I was asked to join her and two other excellent authors for an author panel and book signing. The proprietor of the charming bookstore was delighted to host us and I’m still a little bit in wonderland about it. Cha-ching went the cash register that day.

Do you have pieces that haven’t sold, or work that’s been published, but the publisher has gone out of business? Years ago, when I wrote primarily for children, I invested quite a bit of time writing non-fiction articles. Some sold, others didn’t and, for most of them, I held the rights. When one editor I worked with changed jobs, she sent out a plea for material. As senior editor, she was responsible for creating a digital library for use in schools across the nation. I sent her almost twenty pieces and she took six. Keeping your eye out for new markets, and staying in touch with editors, is one of the smartest things you can do.

Blog it up! Let your readers know who you are. My blog is very personal. It’s geared to the world in general and consistently gets more than a thousand hits a month. My book covers are one of the first things you’ll see when you visit and my topics are eclectic. Deep down, I know my readers want to feel a human connection with authors they love and I try not to disappoint.

Be a giver. A part of my marketing strategy is to give my words away. I know! How can I make money that way? Well, if your name is your brand, it’s much better to be known for your generosity than almost anything else. One thing I do regularly is contact libraries to see if they’ll buy my books and e-books. I donate locally, but recently a librarian in another state asked if I would send a book for free since their budget is small. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I sent it off cheerfully and he told me he’d recommend it to his book club. Name recognition here I come!

Sometimes life in the trenches stinks but it’s also interesting. In the fifteen plus years I’ve been writing, I’ve popped in and out of them a lot. But, I keep these proven strategies in my tool belt and not one of them has failed me yet. Go and do likewise.

Susan is a freelance writer and mystery author. Her latest book, The Super Bar Incident is available from the publisher, Mainly Murder Press, at Barnes & Noble, and for your Nook or Kindle. Or ask your local bookstore or librarian to get it in for you. Visit her blog at