OLD DOG, NEW WORLD by Penny Richards

meme004     In 2012, after being away from writing contemporary romances for about eight years, I sold to a former editor, and began to write for Harlequin Love Inspired Historical.

I soon found out that everything had changed. Art Fact sheets were done online. Line and copy editing were done using Track Changes. Yikes! What’s that? Actually, I love it now, probably because when I’m running late I don’t have to send the corrected manuscript back via overnight mail. Hit a button and ZAP! off into the ether and the editor’s computer!

Another thing that has changed drastically is promotion. When I sold my first book in 1983, there was a publisher on every corner looking for romances. You wrote the book and they pretty much sold. There wasn’t a lot of self promotion. In 2012 I had an email account and a Facebook page, but since I was dragged kicking and screaming into this century, I wasn’t up on blogging, twitter, LinkedIn, goodreads, MailChimp or anything else having to do with promotion by social media.

Over the past four years, I’ve developed at least an uncomfortable working relationship with most of the current ways of finding new readers, but I still like the old ways. Before I dropped out of the writing world (and since I came back) I had some bad experiences with bookstores, but I love meeting new readers and reconnecting with old, and I still wanted to do signings. Now I do them in unusual places, and I’ve picked up some other new methods as well.

* Library signings: These have been good for me. My librarian friend, Ginny Evans, does up our library in the “theme” of the book (wedding, anuntimelyfrostmercantile, etc.) and encourages everyone to dress in costume. For WOLF CREEK FATHER (the schoolmarm and the sheriff) we had a school teacher, a sheriff and a jail door. For a dollar donation to the library, you could have your picture made in “jail.” Refreshments are foods found in the books. Not always your standard cookies and punch, but interesting.

* Trade Days/Festivals: I’ve had mixed results. I’ve done well and I haven’t. I have picked up many email addresses of readers interested in hearing what’s coming up.

* Antique stores, old-time five and dime: These seemed like a natural for a historical book, but again, I’ve done excellent at an antique store, and not so great at the same place on another book. Go figure.

     * Book tour on the cheap: I’ll be doing a mini book tour in Illinois where I grew up and my new mystery book takes place. I’ll be staying with relatives. I have signings scheduled at the library I frequented as a child, a florist/wine shop in the town my heroine is sent and another at a restaurant.

*Conferences/Literary Panels/Speaking engagements: I take all the speaking gigs I can get, and instead of waiting for them to ask me, I put on my big-girl panties and ask if they need speakers. No guts; no glory. If I can’t attend, I’ll donate books or baskets with books and other items that connect to the book to be raffled off. Some of the things I’ve used for my historical baskets are pretty vintage tea cups with tea/coffee/cocoa, vintage aprons and handkerchiefs, real flour sack dish towels, cameo necklaces, miniature picture frames, pretty metal bookmarks, note pads, sewing kits, good chocolate candy, etc.

In AN UNTIMELY FROST, the first book of my new Lilly Long Mystery series, my heroine is a Shakespearean actress who becomes a Pinkerton agent, so I have notepads, tee-shirts and other related Shakespeare items for my baskets. The hero is Irish, so I have some Irish items. At a recent festival I ran across a scrumptious masculine scent called “Mystery Man.” How perfect is that? The lady who sells the brand and I are now doing cross-promotion for each other.

*Guerilla Marketing: I confess to stealing this from another author. You know all those insurance/credit card junk mail thingys you get every day? Well, put in a few bookmarks or other info about you in it and use their “no postage needed” envelope. Dontcha love it?

*Mini Billboard: Probably the most innovative and cost effective thing I’ve done to promote the new series is to have a mini-billboard (4’X8′)made 20151113_085856_resizedwith my name and the series on it. Since I live on a highway that leads to a town where about 300,000 tourists go every year, I think it’s a great idea and, unlike a magazine ad, it will last for years. I’ll just change the banner with each new book that comes out.

So, I’m trying to get back in the game, and this old dog has learned a few new tricks and put a twist on the old ones! Happy writing, y’all!

https://www.facebook.com/Penny-Richards-Author-310567989068947/

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One thought on “OLD DOG, NEW WORLD by Penny Richards

  1. radine says:

    V E R Y interesting. I love the discussion of signings in “unusual” places. My best signings are in various stores in an Arkansas area grocery chain. And I, too, remember the 1980’s when the publishing world was so very different.

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