I attended a local writers’ network luncheon a few months ago and listened to a guest speaker who talked about her books and her writing process. Her genre is paranormal romance. Not my cup of tea, but I found her to be thoughtful, interesting, well informed, and entertaining. All in all, a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.
One of the questions she fielded was, “When you dreamed of being a writer, now that you’re published, is there a reality that’s different from what you thought it would be?”
She answered, “The marketing of my books. It’s much harder than I had imagined.”
Baby, ain’t that the truth.
Back when I was struggling to find an agent (much less a publisher), I had a fantasy that I’d fly somewhere (first class, of course), be met by a stretch limousine, drink champagne on the way to a book signing, autograph books until my arm hurt, then head over to the local television station for an interview. The day would end with a steak dinner, glass of scotch, and a suite at an expensive hotel.
I’m very lucky that my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, gets my books into the hands of the people who review novels on a national (and international) level: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, Bookreporter, Booklist, etc. That’s a big deal and very helpful.
They also have a publicist who kickstarts the book launch with interviews in magazines and on websites that specialize in mysteries and writing. I’m deeply grateful.
But then the heavy lifting is left to the writer. This entails contacting your local radio station, pitching yourself and your books to the regional newspapers, and hitting your social media platforms like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s up to the writer to reach out to bookstores to schedule signings. And those can be humbling. If you’re in a market where you’re not well known, you’re apt to be sitting at a table by yourself where people are shopping and avoiding eye contact at all costs. Luckily, I’m gregarious by nature and not adverse to saying, “Hi, do you like a good mystery?”
Who doesn’t like a good mystery?
It’s helpful to reach out to local writers’ groups to give talks and workshops. I gave a workshop called Good Guys, Bad Guys and Plot Twists at the NC Writers Network conference last year. When I was in St. Petersburg for Bouchercon, I ran into another writer who told me how much he enjoyed that workshop.
Oh, and don’t forget writers’ conferences. I was asked to sit on two panels at a conference in Phoenix and one at Bouchercon. I was also lucky enough to attend the annual Librarians Conference, PLA Philadelphia last March. In addition to signing books at the conference, my distributor, Ingram, threw a party for about two hundred people in the Pyramid Club, fifty-one floors above downtown Philly, with all the food you could eat, an open bar, and a live band. I was one of two authors signing books that night. We ran out of books. I felt like a rock star.
All the hard work pays off. I’ve been accepted as a guest speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 23. Then the following Monday, I’ll be signing books at the Winchester Book Gallery in Winchester, Virginia.
The point of this blog? It takes shameless self-promotion. If you have a difficult time talking about yourself or your books, you better get over it. I met some of the biggest names in mystery writing over the last couple of years, and they’re still out doing panels at conferences, doing signings, speaking at book events, doing interviews.
Granted, they’re doing it on a much larger scale.
But even if you have one person show up and tell you how much they enjoyed your last book, there’s no feeling like it.
Author of the Geneva Chase Mystery Series, Thomas Kies lives and writes on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina with his wife, Cindy, and Lilly, their shih-tzu. He has had a long career working for newspapers and magazines, primarily in New England and New York. His next book, Graveyard Bay, is scheduled to come out in July 2019. He is currently working on Trauma House.
“Multiple murders and shocking twists are key components in Geneva’s ultimate uncovering of the truth. The flawed but dedicated heroine anchors Kies’ second mystery with a compassion that compels readers to root for both justice and redemption.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Kies’s debut mystery introduces a reporter with a compelling voice, a damaged woman who recounts her own bittersweet story as she hunts down clues. This suspenseful story will appeal to readers who enjoy hard-nosed investigative reporters such as Brad Parks’s Carter Ross.” (Library Journal starred review of Random Road)
“Journalist Geneva Chase, the flawed narrator of Kies’s entertaining sequel to 2017’s Random Road, once did stints at the nation’s top news organizations, but has worked her way down the career ladder to the point where she’s now an editor and crime reporter at the local paper in Sheffield, Conn., her hometown. The crime beat pulls her into two stories that at first seem straightforward but turn out to be quite complex. One of them involves the murder of a low-level thug by his abused wife; the other focuses on the disappearance of beautiful 15-year-old aspiring actress Bobbi Jarvis. The connection between the two stories keeps the plot humming. Chase’s life is further complicated by being the legal guardian of 15-year-old Caroline Bell (Bobbi’s best friend), by the potential loss of her job if her newspaper is sold, and by the struggle to control her drinking. Kies neatly balances breathless action with Chase’s introspection and sleuthing savvy.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The plot begins when Caroline’s classmate disappears, and as Geneva covers the search for her, she comes across links to the toasted husband. There’s a solid thriller here – the key is sex trafficking – but the real pleasure is watching Geneva work. Cheer her on as she wrestles with that vodka bottle and trembles with fear as she confronts the monster behind the child-slavery ring. She’s also pretty good at standing up to a newspaper publisher about to screw the help into the ground.” (Don Crinklaw Booklist)