Early this year, I got the wonderful news that my mystery was found suitable for publication. One reason was the marketing plan I’d submitted with my query letter and first three chapters. In that plan, I outlined the steps I intended to take before and after my publication date.
First, I targeted my market segment; women who like a good mystery, character driven, not too much of the grisly stuff, and laced with humor. Then I highlighted other things like making bookmarks, working up mail out fliers, business cards, and I also envisioned a book trailer. So far so good.
Then I got to thinking. In addition to doing all of this on a nice neat spreadsheet, why didn’t I just hit the streets and see what kind of a response I’d get? The library one town over had just hired a new director. A reception was being held for her one Sunday afternoon so I trotted myself over. I had to renew my library card anyway so why not kill two birds. At the desk I bubbled up and mentioned my book. The assistant librarian smiled, renewed my card then marched me over to the new director and introduced me as a local author. I had a brief but beneficial conversation with the director who asked if I’d like to do an event after my book came out. Wow, a few words in the right ears sure panned out there.
I’d already decided which local bookstore I was going to approach to ask about my book launch so I went there a few days later. It’s a independent store, small and loaded with charm, and I had a casual acquaintance with the owner and her mother. She was delighted to talk with me about a launch and we set up a date to flesh out the details. She asked if I belonged to Sisters in Crime. I didn’t then, but I do now. And I joined the local chapter at the behest of her mother, a long time member. Another check mark in the success column!
The positive responses with these two experiences made me bold. Two weeks later I announced the release of my book at my church women’s group. They cheered and begged for details. Wow again. This book promotion thing was fun.
Soon I was blabbermouthing my book all over the place. My business cards display my blog address where I’m introducing my characters one by one. I’m hoping to make friends for them long before the book comes out. People love to have the inside scoop on literary characters and their creator. At the same library about a month later there was a book sale. I passed out my cards to everyone who stood in front of me for more than thirty seconds, including the woman who works at our local package store where I buy my wine. I don’t know her name, but now she knows mine. On my way home I spotted a friend in a driveway where a tag sale was going on. I stopped to browse and passed out three more cards giving the very nice women there a brief synopsis of my mystery. They were excited to meet an author. I even signed the back of one woman’s card – “for when you become famous,” she said.
I met a friend at the dollar store where we talked about our grandchildren, the state of the union and my book. She grinned and suggested I contact her son who was opening a flower shop in town. He might love to have me in for a book signing. I had an identical experience when I asked the owner of my favorite gift shop if she’d carry my book. She didn’t usuallly carry mysteries but said she’d consider a book signing. Bonus! I was glad I did a little off the cuff blabbing as I paid for a birthday card. I promised I’d send her a flier.
At my twice a year teeth cleaning, just before the tools were employed, I enthused about my book to the hygienist. She knows I write; I’d once interviewed her son about unicycling for a kid’s story. She expressed her delight while she scraped. As I was leaving my dentist of twenty years plus said he’d be happy to let his patients know about my book and would I please give them something to display? The same thing occurred with my hairdresser who happens to also do the hair of my bookstore owner.
Here’s the deal. Anyone can do this. Whether you live in a huge city, a suburb, or small town all of the activities I’ve mentioned here are available to you in one form or another. Of course it’s important to map out your plan in a computer file all nice and proper. And it’s kind of silly to think you can include in that plan spontaneous blabbing, but do keep it in the back of your mind. Understand that wherever you go someone will be pleased to know you’ve written a book. It’s well known that word of mouth sells more books than anything else. Why shouldn’t that first mouth be yours?
Susan is a freelance writer, blogger and new mystery writer. Her book, The Red Shoelace Killer – a Minnie Markwood Mystery, published by Mainly Murder Press, will be available on November 1, 2012. Her book launch, on November 24th, will be held at Blackwood & Brouwer Booksellers, Ltd. in Kinderhook, New York. Get to know Minnie and her sidekicks at www.susansundwall.blogspot.com.