As fiction writers, we often use what we know for our novels. We produce characters who are based on people and associates we know, although we likely make them do things the person who inspired them wouldn’t dream of doing. We get plot ideas and dialogue lines from eavesdropping in restaurants and waiting in line, especially now that so many people share the most intimate details of their lives in overly loud voices while on a cell phone. We use personal experiences in our stories and may even make our protagonist’s occupation one we’ve had…well maybe not every writer does that, but as a Realtor with stories to tell, I sure do.
Once we’ve produced our book and it’s time to start marketing it, we have other options besides relying on social media for promotion. Using what we know can work for publicity, too. Sure, it’s easier for non-fiction writers to do or for fiction writers who happen to have written a book about a “hot topic” to get the word out about their book, but all fiction writers have opportunities.
Start locally and use what you know. Contact local newspapers and tell them one of their readers has written a new book. Most will at least squeeze a mention of your book into their publication; many will give you an article complete with pictures.
Approach groups in your community and offer to be free entertainment for them. I’m not a member of the Kiwanis Club, Rotary, a retired school teacher group, a government worker organization, or a senior citizen group, but all have had me speak. All sorts of groups would all like to hear what a member of the community has accomplished. They will probably give you a meal and many of their members will buy your book, especially when you inscribe a copy as a gift for their favorite aunt. In this vein, don’t forget to look for retirement communities and even large mobile home communities for speaking engagements.
Sadly, my community has been losing bookstores. Fortunately I live in a tourist town and my books are set in that location. Some stores where tourists visit carry my books and sell more than our local bookstore. I suggested people would find it entertaining to read a story about where they are visiting to the store owners. (Turns out I was right.) Look for your community’s odd venues and ask to do a book signing; it’s a great excuse for more publicity in the local media for you and the venue hosting you and they don’t have to make an ongoing commitment to stock your book.
If your profession happens to be one that puts out a newsletter or regular publication, you can hit gold. When I was an active Realtor who began writing mysteries with an amateur sleuth/real estate agent protagonist, I looked up the editor of the (now online) book review section in The National Association of Realtors monthly magazine. I sent her a book, called her, and pitched how other Realtors would get a kick out of reading something that wasn’t a how-to book. She gave me a nice review and article that went to almost every Realtor in the country.
Even if your profession won’t help you, a membership could. Are there any Costco members here? I used the same approach to get my second book in The Costco Connection, another national monthly.
Don’t hesitate to cast your net wider. There’s a great free service called HARO (Help a Reporter Out) that media of all kind use. Members ask for opinions and help with projects they are working on in exchange for credit and publicity. I responded to a query about why people retired at 62 instead of waiting longer and wound up talking about writing books for CNN.com.
A HARO connection is also how my cat Fala, who happens to be the official spokescat for my books with her own official YouTube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFswH3zplhE, is going to be in a piece for Ladies Home Journal (pets with funny names) and why I was interviewed for a Bloomberg News story about “love letters” buyers write to sellers and was able to use a couple of pages from one of my books to illustrate my point. My newest mystery, The Murder House, may have ghosts in it. That’s why I’ve been invited to a couple of ghost hunting sites to discuss the book.
Come on. You Write. You have creative minds. Use them to come up with connections and make your pitch. The worst thing that can happen is someone will say no. But think of what can happen when they say yes.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis thinks you should try something new every few years. Writing is her newest adventure and she’s been having so much fun doing it that she’s finally acknowledged she’ll never sell another house. She let her license lapse in May of 2013, after her twenty-fifth anniversary in real estate.
After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare Santa Cruz at UCSC.
She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Real estate details and ideas come from Nancy’s own experiences. Check out The Murder House by Nancy Lynn Jarvis.