M.E.Kemp was born in 1636, Salem, MA – no, that’s not quite right. The first baby in the family was born then. Kemp’s ancestors settled in Oxford, MA in 1713, the founding of the town by the English after a Huguenot community evacuated following an Indian attack. Her roots, her Grandmother’s family tales about the Civil War and her father’s love of American history influenced her to set her mysteries in the Boston area, rather than the myriad books set in medieval Britain. American history is just as bloody and colorful, she believes. Her detectives are two nosy Puritans, since Puritans were supposed to keep track of their neighbor’s doings. Nosy makes a good detective. She has five books out and is at work on #6. Check her out on her website: mekempmysteries.com; or on facebook under Marilyn Rothstein.
Marketing Panel – Hudson Valley Writers Guild
A panel consisting of poet Dan Wilcox, self-publisher Barbara Traynor, mystery writer M.E.Kemp and newpaper critic/reviewer Elizabeth Floyd Mair addressed the issue of marketing in “Selling Your Words,” held at a local library. Moderator M.E. Kemp started off by recalling her first writers conference where a mid-list publisher stressed in no uncertain terms that writers must sell their work themselves, not to depend upon the publisher. “Shy people need not apply,” she stressed – although today’s technologies allow more marketing efforts behind a screen.
Poet Dan Wilcox said he’d had some early success by joining with two other poets in readings as “Three Guys From Albany.” Giving readings is the main way for poets to market their work. Wilcox arranged with the local Social Justice Center to give a series of readings by local poets once a month, with open mic to follow. My granddaughter Betty Rothstein recently read her own translations of contemporary Russian poets, including some of her poetry in Russian and in English. (Betty majored in Russian studies.) Wilcox said there is a strong audience for poetry in the upstate New York area.
Barbara Traynor’s book on self-publishing has gone through two editions. One of the ways she markets herself is to contract with newspapers for articles as she travels across the country in search of warmer weather during the winters in upstate. Traynor plans well ahead of time for this trip for her marketing campaigns. She gave the audience a sample of her time-lines.
M. E. Kemp stood up to reveal one of her marketing tools – a black tee with the cover of her latest book in bright colors on the front. She suggested that writers find a special niche market for their books. Since she writes historical mysteries set in and around the Boston area, she speaks to historical societies, book clubs and libraries with a special talk offered on the Salem Witch Trials – always a selling topic. She is also a member of the Sisters in Crime/New England speakers bureau, as well as setting up writing conferences for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.
Elizabeth Floyd Mair gave some practical advice on how to approach newspapers for a review. Writers should always include a press release in their packet, making it clear with personal info who you are, a local connection to the paper and a good summary of the book in the release so the reviewer can judge whether it’s a book they might like to review.
Key speaker for the conference was Frankie Y. Bailey, Professor of Criminal Justice at the local university and author of two series of mysteries, including a new police procedural set in the future in Albany, NY. Bailey gave a very funny anecdote about how she came up with the subject off the top of her head while speaking to her publisher. Bailey brought a pile of books on marketing but she recommended only one, the old stand-by WRITERS DIGEST. She advised writers to find their “purple cow,” the one that stands out in the field.