Promotion, Promotion, Promotion by Marilyn (aka F.M.) Meredith

MarilynoncruiseThat’s what has been occupying a lot of my time lately.

I just finished a blog tour which everyone knows is time-consuming. I’ve been doing them for a long time, and my tips for a successful tour is this:

Ask your host if there is anything special they’d like you to write in your post. If they don’t have any ideas, come up with something different from what you’ve done for others.

If possible, send the post along with the bio, book blurb and attachments of the cover and yourself in the same email.

Change up the photos of yourself. If someone is following your tour, it’s fun for them to see different pictures of you. I like to include photos of me at different events like book fairs, speaking engagements, and on panels.

You could add other photos that have something to do with your book.

On the day your post is to appear on someone’s blog, be sure to leave a comment thanking them for hosting you.

Promote the blog everywhere, Facebook, Facebook groups. Twitter, and all the listserves you belong to.

Be sure to put the tour schedule with clickable links on your own blog.

Return to each blog several times a day that it appears and reply to comments left by others. Check it once or twice in the days to follow.

Do blog tours work? I wouldn’t do them if I didn’t think so. When I’m on a tour, I always get an uptick of sales. It’s also a way to get your name out there. On the tour I just finished, besides my loyal followers, I had many unique commenters—unfamiliar names who expressed interest in my latest book.  (I also think tours are fun.)

This is the book I was promoting, the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series: Violent Departures.ViolentDepartures

Blurb:

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.

Bio:

 

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

FinalRespects.best

One last bit of news, starting May 1 and on, the first book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, Final Respects, will be free on Kindle. Why am I doing that? In hopes that after reading it, people will want to read the rest of the books in the series. I’ll come back to P.J. Nunn’s blog and let you know how it worked out.

 

Is Facebook of any use? by Judy Alter

darkerbackgroundMy teenage granddaughters never use Facebook. They’re constantly texting, and I think they’re on Instagram, though, Luddite that I am, I have only a vague idea about Instagram and what it does. One of my youngest daughter’s friends tried earnestly to explain it to me one night but it went in one ear and out the other.

I hear authors say that they no longer think Facebook is effective, it doesn’t boost sales, it’s a time suck, etc. I’m here to say that I’m a big fan of Facebook, even after more years than I care to count. I try to comment on several posts each day, to leave a post on my personal page and author page, and to post my daily blog. Yeah, I really do try to blog daily, though I miss some days when the well runs dry.

Here’s what I think Facebook can do for us as authors: give us a chance to connect with fans and to enlarge our pool of potential readers.

The wrong way to post on Facebook, to my mind, is to push your books constantly, to make your posts repetitive sales pitches or, should you get a good review or an award, endless BSP (blatant self-promotion). I rarely mention my books, although more often on my author page. My goal on Facebook is to present myself as a likeable person, someone people want to be friends with, someone they might go to lunch with. So I post about my dog, about a day at an antique mall, about something clever my local grandson said to me. Sometimes I post deep thoughts about things that concern me, from spiritual matters to economic and political.

I know both religion and politics are no-no for a lot of Facebook people and on a lot of blogs. But I feel it’s important, personally, to express my point of view. It doesn’t quite come to the evangelical tradition of witnessing, but it’s along the same vein. I have a friend who is vocal on Facebook about women’s rights, liberal politics (and the folly of conservatives), and matters of the Episcopal Church, in which she is deeply involved. But she also posts pictures and comments about her wonderful and extensive gardens, which include a chapel; pictures of her grandsons and dogs and cats; pictures of especially beautiful plants. She explained to me once that she didn’t want people to see her as just a harsh liberal but also as a nice person with a soft side. I’ve adopted her stance.

One of the nicest things I ever read in a review of one of my Kelly O’Connell mysteries was that the characters were comfortable, friendly, like people Desperate-for-Death-JAlter-MDyou’d meet in the grocery store. That’s the image I aim for on Facebook—friendly, casual, so that readers might say to themselves, “I like her. I think I’ll try one of her books.”

My blog is particularly important, and I’m pretty sure almost all my blog readers (150-200 a day) link to it through Facebook. People I know only casually stop me and say, “I enjoy your blog so much.” It took a long time to build to the point that I got comments but now I almost always get comments and likes. I do think that’s a great marketing tool, although I also hear some say blogs are as outdated as Facebook.

Some people say an author page is not worth the effort. I maintain one, though I suspect there is much audience overlap with my personal page. But I try to post on it several times a week, and I’m pleased with the statistics (if they can be trusted—many people claim they cannot, citing click farms in Asia, etc.). I get enough comments that I think it’s worth maintaining, and my comments there tend to be more about books, reading, etc. and less about my last trip to the grocery store. Do you really care?

As authors, most of us lead a fairly reclusive life, but I think it’s important to us and to our writing to stay in touch with world events. That’s another advantage of Facebook. It is a source of information for me. I once told my son-in-law that I wouldn’t buy pre-grated cheese because it has wood slivers in it. “And where did you hear that?” he asked. When I said Facebook, his sarcastic reply was, “Oh, of course. That makes it gospel.” I realize you have to take things on Facebook with a grain of salt and a huge dose of skepticism, but it’s sometimes the place where I first learn about major news events—such as the conviction of the Boston Marathon bomber or the horrendous doings in Ferguson, Missouri or the recent tragedy in South Carolina.

Facebook also provides moments of amusement and chances to catch up with friends. Some of the stuff on Facebook is silly, but a lot of it is downright funny, and I enjoy sharing posts, cartoons, and the like with individual friends that I think will enjoy them. I first got on Facebook as a way to keep in touch with my children—they’ve abandoned it, all except a couple, but I’m still there. Yes, it’s a time suck—but we all need self-discipline.

‘Scuse me now, I have to check Facebook before I go to sleep.

 

Coming May 5, 2015! Desperate for Death

Just when Kelly’s life has calmed, she faces yet another of life’s puzzles. Except the pieces in this one don’t fit. First the apartment behind her house is torched, then a string of bizzare “accidents” occur to set her off-balance. Who is stalking her? Where does the disappearance of a young girl and her disreputable boyfriend fit in? And why are two men using the same name? Is the surprise inheritance another part of the puzzle? At a time when she is most vulnerable, Kelly can’t make the pieces fit, but she knows she must protect her daughters. Before Kelly can get the whole picture, she helps the family of a hostage, rescues a kidnap victim and attends a wild and wonderful wedding.

Killing Me Softly by Sharon Woods Hopkins

Sharon and Bill Hopkins

Sharon and Bill Hopkins

I once participated on a panel called “Killing Me Softly” at a writers’ conference. It wasn’t about the 1973 Roberta Flack song, as I first thought. Rather, it was a lively discussion about what that title would mean relative to a mystery novel. Everyone on the panel concluded that that “Killing Me Softly” described cozy mysteries, since the “softly” meant that no hard-core descriptions of the acts of murder, mayhem or sex would appear on the page. We also vigorously agreed that cozies are indeed, mysteries. We all know another key element in a cozy is the amateur sleuth protagonist. Think Miss Marple as opposed to Inspector Poirot.

Why would a______ (fill in the blank with banker, horse trainer, cook, crossword puzzle champion, scrapbook shop owner, cheese shop owner, dressmaker, you name it) be solving a crime in the first place? And, honestly, would they be solving murders? That is a major “willing suspension of disbelief” element critical to all good amateur sleuth mysteries. Outstanding examples of this are the Camel Club mysteries by David Baldacci. Four unlikely partners are positive there is a growing conspiracy in Washington, when, in fact, nothing is going on. Until, something terrible really does happen.

The reader needs a believable reason for the sleuth’s involvement.

One reason could be that the police don’t believe a there is a murder. The sleuth knows otherwise, but the police won’t believe him/her. This was the case in my first Rhetta McCarter mystery, Killerwatt, where Rhetta discovered a terrorist plot, and no one believed her. Another reason could be that the sleuth himself/herself or a best friend is a suspect in the murder. That was how Rhetta got involved in Killerfind.

Yet another reason could be that a chain of events begins happening that only the amateur sleuth knows about, and is therefore the only one who can stop it.

The point is that the involvement of the amateur has to be believable. The normal horse trainer, banker, etc., isn’t a professional and probably gets in the way of the police who are trying to solve the murder. Giving the amateur a reason to be there is vital to holding the story together.

When a waitress’ ex-husband dies of food poisoning while eating in the restaurant where she works, she becomes the suspect. She knows she is innocent, but the police arrest her. The only person who believes her is her best friend. And so on. The best friend becomes the sleuth. Or, if the waitress is out on bail, she may become the sleuth.

Perhaps the amateur has information that no one else believes. He/she is compelled to move forward and act on it if no one else (read: authorities) will.

I’ve read hundreds of amateur sleuth mysteries. Some are terrific, some not too good. I love the good ones so much that I chose to create an amateur sleuth series. My protagonist is mortgage banker. She is always a reluctant participant. She always gets in the way. And so far, she has always solved the cases.

Another element that the amateur sleuth mystery needs is that the protagonist must have a day job. Since they are not professional detectives or cops, sleuths need a visible means of support—unless, of course, they are retired and solving murders in retirement homes. Myrtle Clover, heroine of Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover Mysteries is an octogenarian. And quite the humorous character, to boot.

Which brings to mind another element: How old should the sleuth be? That has been a debatable issue for a very long time. I’ve had agents tell me that my female protag shouldn’t even be in her forties. That’s too old, many of them said. Hold on. Who are the readers? Only people under forty? Which segment of the population is growing the fastest? Seniors. Which segment of the population has the most disposable income? Baby Boomers.  Most, if not all folks 50+ are very tech savvy and love e-readers, iPhones, iPads, and so on.

So now we have a profile of the cozy mystery and the amateur sleuth of today. He/she can be middle aged, or older, or even retired. But he/she has to have a darn good reason to solve a murder. Or it isn’t quite believable.

 

Sharon Hopkins is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers’ killergroundGuild. Her short story, DEATH BEE HUMBLE, appeared in the SEMO Writer’s Guild Anthology for 2012, and her story, REARVIEW MIRROR appeared in That Mysterious Woman anthology in 2014. Her first three Rhetta McCarter books, KILLERWATT, KILLERFIND and KILLERTRUST were all finalists in the Indie Excellence Awards.

Her fourth book, KILLERGROUND, was released April 15, 2015. All her books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at bookstores.

WHAT MAKES THE ROCKY BLUFF P.D. MYSTERY SERIES UNIQUE? by Marilyn Meredith

Marilyninpensivemood_edited-1

This is a question I hope I can answer adequately. I suspect every author of a series believes it is different than others in the same genre.

The following is what I think makes the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series unique:

  1. The series has a cast of characters who progress through each book.
  2. The focus may change to a different character in subsequent books—though Detective Doug Milligan has had the lead the majority of the time.
  3. Because of #2, the point-of-view changes from character to character through-out the books, but you won’t have any trouble following it.
  4. Though it’s basically a police procedural it is much milder than many—no bad language or explicit sex. Some have called it a cozy police procedural—but it doesn’t have the requisites for a cozy.
  5. Time moves on, but at a slower pace than real time. Usually the next book starts where the last book ended.huenemebeachislands
  6. The setting is a fictional small beach community in Southern California between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
  7. The focus is as much on the characters as it is about solving crimes.
  8. It isn’t necessary to read the series from the beginning. Each book is written to be complete. Of course it makes me happy when someone does want to start at the beginning.

Perhaps one of the blog readers who has read one or more of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series might have a comment to make about this subject. I’d love to hear a RBPD reader’s opinion.

  1. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith

ViolentDeparturesBlurb for Violent Departures:

College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges

 

Bio:

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

 

Contest:

 

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

 

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

 

Links:

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith

My blog tour ends tomorrow with a final interview: http://blog.jamesmjackson.com/

 

Who’s been a Bad Boy? by Lise McClendon

LiseThere are many ways to skin a cat – and promote your writing. One popular way is to create a limited edition box set and price it so low that you’re almost giving it away. The point is to get it into digital readers, not to make money. You can box up your own novels, by series or whatever theme you can conjure up, but joining with other authors can really ease the promotion burden. The idea is that cross-pollination of readers will grow all gardens. You bloom, I bloom, we all bloom with a bigger readership.

 

A few months ago I was asked to join five other authors to put together a box set. My invitation came through an English writer I knew mostly through social media. I had read her book, written about it, became Facebook friends, corresponded, and even met her last year at Bouchercon, the big mystery convention. But I didn’t know the other authors at all, two Americans, a Brit, and an Irish writer.

 

My English friend, Helen Smith, writes comic mysteries and a lot more. Having read her books, and gotten the invitation, I knew we would be compatible. The other authors write a little comedy, a little romance, a little mystery. The theme of the box set was to be “British Bad Boys,” and encompassed humor, mystery, and romance. I had in mind to use my thriller, PLAN X, about a British professor in Montana who is badly injured in a campus explosion.  The story revolves around policewoman and Iraq vet, Cody Byrne, who is tasked to find the professor’s next of kin. The mission turns out harder than it should be, and gets a little twisted when it’s discovered the professor asked several colleagues to hide old documents that look suspiciously like a lost Shakespeare play. Lots of thrills, intrigue, murder, and MI5.

 

But comedy? Funny stuff? Hmmm. I love to laugh but wasn’t sure this novel fit the bill. To their credit the authors only asked: “There’s sarcasm, right?” Well, I thought, I certainly hope so. What’s life or fiction without a little snark? I was in.

 

Several of the authors had been in sets together before and knew the ropes. They had a formatter and cover designer lined up. The six of us discussed the design of the cover, and the sexy quotient of the bad boy on the cover. Our ring-leader, Florida author Barbara Silkstone, kept us up to date and on task.

 

The box set went into production.  Some of us wrote original stories. All of us wrote blurbs. We okayed the cover and sent it all into the formatter. BRITISH-BAD-BOYS-Box-Set-KOBOAnd voila! The box set of British Bad Boys sprung on the world on Easter. So happy to be in the talented company of Helen Smith, Barbara Silkstone, Gerry McCullough, Anne R. Allen, and Sibel Hodge.

 

The e-book box set is just 99 cents. Pocket change! We hope readers are tempted by the bargain. The box set will be available through the summer only. That’s key, the limited time edition. Most of us are also selling our novels or stories individually but we hope this exposure to more readers will help all our novels get more readers. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?

  • • •

 

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/britishbadboys

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/british-bad-boys-barbara-silkstone/1121689967?ean=2940151581530

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/british-bad-boys-1

Shop at an independent bookstore that sells KOBO e-books,

like Mysterious Galaxy: http://www.mystgalaxy.com/ebook/1230000341172

My Potpourri of Promotional Strategies – Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

A famous writer is reputed to have quipped that writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95% perspiration. I would add that afterward the author in most cases must handle 100% of the promotion.

In years long gone publishers would assign an editor to fine tune the manuscript with the author, and at least help promote a book, even for a relatively unknown writer. Today the author needs to present a totally edited manuscript even to a traditional publisher and is expected to execute most of the promotion efforts, unless the writer has an outstanding track record.

The real challenge, no matter how a book is published, involves finding ways to promote it by traditional means such as at book signings; by new avenues, for example, social media, and especially by innovative means that require being especially creative.

After having two successful book signings for my first mystery at a branch of Barnes and Noble in Dallas, I asked the manager for a third one in June 2004. He said that the month was devoted to books dealing with weddings. Luckily I had written about a Greek Orthodox wedding in the book and was able to read about the traditional ceremony to attendees, thus fitting into the theme.

Since that experience, I put scenes in my books that might facilitate promotions. Remember the reason for including a possible promotional bit in a tome has to be plausible to the reader, not just stuck in illogically. In the first book, the couple met in Greece and married in a Greek Orthodox Church in the country. The protagonist Ralph and his fiancé in the most recent one vacationed in Costa Rica where he had gone as a child when his mother won a trip. He runs into a friend he played with, now a grown man, who wants to open a business in Dallas but needs a partner who is a U.S. citizen. Ralph wants to open a business, hoping by doing so he will avoid being investigated for his part in the scandal.

It’s important to think out of the box and to realize that authors cannot afford to be shy. For example, when I call a company for some reason, I manage to enthusiastically tell the rep that I write books and suggest they look me up on Amazon. During a trip to visit friends in Alabama I was invited to speak to a breakfast group where members were old enough for retirement. In North Carolina I spoke to members of a women’s group in a church about writing a book.

Every month an online forum I’m a member of has an “anything goes day.” I use the opportunity to write something of interest, perhaps about or from one of my books. I list the names of my three books that are available on Kindle and in paperback, and sign the posts with links to my Facebook pages for my books; website, and author’s page on Amazon. The rest of the month such promotion is prohibited. Last summer I participated in a book fair highlighting the United States in San Jose, Costa Rica and sold books while making friends with other authors, one of whom helped to edit my recent book and has offered to read my current manuscript.

Another way to get exposure for your creations is to review other writers’ books. Usually you can include a short bio and list your credentials with it. Get your books reviewed and look where you might be interviewed on others’ blogs. Rarely do I buy advertising, but when I do, I carefully determine that the venue is worth the money.

Years ago an associate claimed that business cards were the cheapest form of advertising. Every time he entered an elevator, he would turn his back to the door and hand out one to everyone on it. For authors, using a bookmark instead might encourage book sales. Authors still enclose these with their hard copies.

Try to sell your book in different shops, not just the obvious outlets. For example, an author of a book about his experiences traveling to nearly 100 countries sold it on consignment in a store that stocked travel related products. Travel agencies might use such an item as a favor. Real Estate companies and restaurants listed in a featured country might recommend it.  You won’t know unless you ask.

Most importantly, if you get an acceptance, before proceeding, make sure to establish procedures and put all agreements in writing, making everything legal. Giving away something for free with purchase also helps. Buyers of my Costa Rica book simply email me at a special e-mail address for a password to download a free Moving Guide from my website. Having moved at least 30 times from within one city to other continents and having handled the PR for American Mayflower Moving and Storage for over four years when I also became a Certified Packer, qualifies me as an expert. The requests provide the start of a mailing list for future books.

Bottom line, it is important to do something to promote your book every day of the business week or every day if possible. It can be as little as posting on your business Facebook page. Mine is set up so that whatever I post is sent to Twitter and to my Website.  My goal is to promote so well that all the books sell enough that I could give up my day job, if I had one.

 

 

Bio:

Helen Dunn Frame is an accomplished businesswoman (a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, specializing in retail and restaurants, for example) whose professional writing skills, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica; and her love of travel (in 50 GreekGhostsCovercountries at least once where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures), have culminated in several books.

Many threads of Helen’s experiences have been woven into the intriguing fabric of GREEK GHOSTS soon to be followed by the second in the mystery series with a working title, WETUMPKA (Alabama) WIDOW. Living in Dallas during a major scandal resulted in SECRETS BEHIND THE BIG PENCIL. Expecting to update to a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her third book about RETIRING IN COSTA RICA or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida.

A graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), Helen has been published in major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. She has edited newsletters and a newspaper and other author’s books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.

Links:

Website: www.helendunnframe.com

Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RetiringInCostaRicaOrDoctorsDogsAndPuraVida

I do declare…by Duffy Brown

Dianne_Castell_Eq

I live in Cincy  but sort of moved to the South when I started to write the Consignment Shop Mysteries. With the books set in Savannah I had to suddenly start thinking and living like my characters. I guess I’m a bit of a method writer just like there are method actors. I have to live the part I’m writing about to make it real.

 

The first thing I did was acquire a taste for sweet tea. Sweet tea is big…huge…in the South and with Cincinnati being north of the Ohio River the only sweet tea we get is if you add your own sugar. Another Southern essential is fried okra. I got out my Southern Living cookbook and found the recipe. I don’t think I’ll win any prizes for the dish but it’s a start.

 

Other way I had to adjust are that I no longer carry Chapstick in the back pocket of my jeans but now wear lipstick every-single-day-of-my-life-no-matter-what-and-no-matter-where-I’m-going. And I have poof hair. Not more straight hair. Think Betty White with her finger in a socket

 

I’ve turned the thermostat to 80 and my thick wool sweaters are relegated to the back of my closet and I’ve made room for light cottony cardigans. I have a front porch so I put a white rocking chair on it and as far as my speech goes my family thinks I’m crazy as a June bug.

 

Some of the Southern sayings I’ve tired out with limited success here in Ohio are…

 

Oh! Bless your heart…” My kids think this is sort of adorable but actually this expression is commonly used when Southerners need an excuse for speaking ill of someone. Example- “She’s as ugly as a mud fence, bless her heart.” Even though the line was an insult it is made better by showing that you, in a way, feel sorry for the person.

 

And of course there’s Well Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. The fam thought I’d hit the vodka when I tried this one.

 

She looked like she’d been ridden hard and put away wet. Actually I’ve used this one a lot all my life. That’s what I get from living so close to the Kentucky border.

 

He could sell a Popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves. Meaning the individual is so good at persuasion that he could talk his way into anything. The sales lady at Macy’s ran when I tried this one.

 

You can’t get blood from a turnip. Meaning you can’t get something from someone who doesn’t have it. My accountant got this one right off the bat.

 

Madder than a wet hen and  He’s like a bull in a china shop and Cute as a bug’s ear. I’ve used these for years too so the fam didn’t blink an eye when I started working them into the conversation.

 

We were just sittin’ around chewin’ the fat. The kids told me I needed more veggies and fruit and forget the fat

 

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I used this one on my nextdoor neighbor and she was tickled pink she’d be getting fresh eggs

 

She was all over him like white on rice. I used this one on my other next door neighbor and  she smacked her husband upside the head.

 

You can’t see the forest for the trees. Is another one I’ve used tons but my new favorite is Easy as sliding off a greasy log backwards.

 

DemiseinDenimSo, now that you’re sittin’ here chewin’ the fat with me what are some of you favorite sayings? You never know when they just might pop up in the lunch toteConsignment Shop Mysteries. I’ll give away two  Demise in Denim lunch totes from the answers. Thanks for playing along.

Go whole hog today and have yourself a mighty fine time.

 

Hugs, Duffy Brown