Friday, December 30, 2016

Getting a Book to Readers

   Sportswriter Red Smith is known for saying, "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed."

   I don't find writing especially easy, but telling people about a new book is even harder. It's kind of like looking for a job. You need to let people know you're hunting, but you feel a little as if you're imposing.
   Still, it's fun to be in touch with readers. I love sending a note to my email list and getting replies saying they've been waiting to know what a set of characters is up to.
   I had a welcome holiday gift of sorts when my publisher (Annie Acorn LLC) put Demise of a Devious Neighbor for sale (preorder) Christmas Eve. Savvy marketer that the firm is, they believe that readers will be anxious to use those new Kindles and Nooks they received as gifts.
   As we look to a new year, I thought I'd share some marketing ideas. They'll help authors, but can also give readers places to look for new books or bargain reads.

Goodreads has hundreds of reader/author discussion groups, and authors sponsor giveaways of paperbacks. Even better, it's a place where readers can list all the books they are reading or have read, and many review their favorites.
BookGoodies reviews and promotes dozens of books each week. Many are new, some are presented at reduced prices.
Facebook Groups bring together readers and authors interested in particular genres. Though some individual authors have created groups, I find those such as Cozy Mysteries 24/7 and Crime, Thrillers,  and Mystery Readers Cafe, better places to meet readers. Still, if you have a favorite author, search for them on Facebook. Mid-sized groups seem to have more interaction among members than larger ones.
Choosy Bookworm features books by authors from multiple countries. It also lets authors post books they are willing to provide to readers in consideration of a review. (This meets Amazon guidelines, because authors are providing a copy, just as they would for a paper's book review supplement.)
A Girl and Her Ebook does longer features on the books on its site, and also promotes new releases and giveaways.
   I'd love it if readers would add comments about sites where they look for new books.
   And by the way, Happy New Year! May your writing and reading bring you joy.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Setting a Book Where You Live

I envy people who lived in one place for years and had a natural following of friends. I've had that, but I move a lot, so the hometown elements vanishes. The friends I keep.

Then I had a major Duh Moment. If I set books where I live now, I meet more friends.I was a bit late for Iowa, the River's Edge series came out after my husband I left the state. (Still root for the Hawkeyes!)

2006 Ottumwa signing, with Alberta
Even so, my Iowa friends rallied for the first book in the 2015 series. KTVO television did a fun interview, and the Ottumwa Courier and Van Buren County Register in Keosauqua featured From Newsprint to Footprints. The book felt like home, even though home had moved.

It's not all about publicity. It's fun to have your friends read your books and ask how the writing is going. Especially fun when your book club reads them. You also learn a lot about your neighbors. The photo at left shows the late Alberta Lambeth. Because of a book that came out ten years ago, she invited me to her apartment to see some of her incredible craft creations. Art takes many forms, and I would not have seen hers unless I promoted my stories.

As I wished for more contact with reading and writing friends, I was starting a new book, Tip a Hat to Murder. For some (inexplicable) reason, I initially set it in Nebraska. Perhaps because of good-natured ribbing with a cousin who roots for the Corn Huskers.

Then I thought, "Why am I setting this in Nebraska? I live in Illinois now!" Thus was born the fictional town of Logland, Illinois, set in south central Illinois. Why Logland? Because Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, and I played with Lincoln Logs as a kid. The path through a writer's mind has many curves. Plus, the book is meant to be wacky.

So, I have now murdered people in New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, and Bath, England. I only kill people in places I like.

I love to take pictures, which means local books are a big plus. Though my towns are fictional, the images in my head are not, largely because I drive through Iowa and Illinois a lot. Not so much New Jersey, but I asked a friend to take photos of the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk this summer, so I have a new crop to feed my imagination. As I start a new book in the Jolie Gentil series, those boardwalk scenes become even more delightful.
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