I have a dog. I have a very pretty dog. She’s a border collie so she’s super smart, too. She’s also a ham. The dog loves belly rubs and any attention anyone will pay her. Trust me, she is not lacking in that department.
Her name is Finn. Nothing fancy. No registered name for the AKC or other dog organizations where stuff like that matters. She’s a shelter dog, picked up as a stray, wandering the streets with a puppy that looked just like her. A rescue group took the puppy and sent Finn to the shelter. That’s where our stories merge.
Just one look was all it took and she was mine. That was almost a year ago. Since then, she’s been my constant companion, my hiking buddy, my dog park goof ball, my writing muse, and now my marketing gimmick.
From her early days with me, I’ve posted her antics on social media and she’s developed a bit of a fan base. So when I was recently confirming a book signing and launch at my local Barnes & Noble, the manager asked if I was bringing Finn. I replied with something along the line of “seriously?”
When she came back with “Sure!” I jumped at the opportunity. Afterall, Finn is featured in my newest book, Tell Me No Lies. The family dog in the book is a — wait for it — border collie named Finn. And so a star was born, and a marketing plan re-routed to seize the moment.
I have a stack of bookmarks and postcards to hand out, tote bags for give-aways—all with the book cover and catchy blurb. All of that was planned for and budgeted for in my “marketing plan.” And guess what I’m doing the weekend before my book’s release and launch party? I had planned on, oh, maybe a manicure. Instead I’ll be spreading ink on Finn’s front paw then holding it to a piece of paper. I’ll take a picture of the paw print, upload it to my computer, add a cute little signature-looking font then print four to a piece of cardstock. Then I’ll cut them out with some fancy, scalloped little scissors and BAM—Finn now has a “signed” card to give out at her first book signing.
My readers, whether returning or new, are who they are because they like mysteries and maybe they like my writing. Dog lovers, on the other hand, may not have bought my book otherwise, but can’t say no to those sweet, amber eyes.
When it comes to marketing, sometimes the answer is outside the box. You may not think of it at the beginning of developing your marketing plan, but recognize it when it presents itself. And seize it. Then scratch its furry head and give it a belly rub.
Lynn Chandler Willis has worked in the corporate world, the television industry, and owned a small-town newspaper. Her novel, Shamus-Award finalist, Wink of an Eye, (Minotaur, 2014) won the SMP/PWA Best 1st P.I. Novel, making her the first woman in a decade to win the national contest. Tell Me No Lies is the first title in the Ava Logan Mystery Series with Henery Press. She lives in North Carolina with a border collie named Finn.
Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.