My Favorite Promotion Strategy is to Write Every Day by Kathleen Heady

KinScotlandFor a new writer starting out in the business, the biggest hurdle is undoubtedly promoting the books. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have our first novel picked up by a major publisher who sets up a book tour and makes sure that novel is prominently displayed to customers walking into major bookstores. Do any publishers do that anymore?

So you tell yourself, and maybe your mother or husband and a couple of your friends that your book is being published. “Great!” they say, and kindly go out and buy a few copies for their friends. Now what? You have a few sales on that first book, but how do you keep the momentum going?

My best strategy after a book is released, and so far I have been lucky enough to have three novels that have been published, is to get back to the laptop and write some more. I know it sounds trite to say to write every day, but an hour of writing a day does much more than produce the rough draft of another novel. Writing every day means that you can say to yourself before you go to sleep at night, “I am a writer. I wrote today.” It changes your attitude and builds your confidence. When someone asks you what you are working on, you can give them an honest answer, although you don’t have to give away all your secrets and tell them the details. I carry my journal with me always, and have filled many spare minutes and hours in airports and coffee shops around the world by writing my thoughts and observations. I love writing descriptions of people I see and snippets of conversation that I might use in the future.

My second strategy for promotion is to join a writers’ group. My first three novels are in the mystery/suspense genre, so I am a member of Sisters in Crime, which is a national organization with local chapters all over the country. The company of other writers is stimulating and motivating, and as a group, I have found promotion opportunities that I would never have been able to pull off on my own. I have appeared with other members at book stores and libraries, and on panel discussions about mystery novels.

Little by little I am building a reputation as a writer, and my personal contacts along with the huge world of social media both help create a base of readers that I continually work to expand.



Kathleen Heady is a native of rural Illinois, but has lived and traveled many places, including numerous trips to Great Britain and seven years HotelSaintClarecoverliving in Costa Rica. Her third novel, Hotel Saint Clare, was released in June, 2014. She is also the author of Lydia’s Story and The Gate House, which was a finalist for an EPIC award in 2011.

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Profile 2012I constantly hear authors say they don’t know how to grow a fan base. They tweet, blog, Face Book, email, subscribe to promotional services, blog-hop, all the tried and true methods recommended by the “experts.” They have built it—why isn’t anyone coming?


First, let me point out that if “everybody” is doing it, why be the same as everyone? The whole point is to stand out. I’ve heard it said that authors have imagination, yet it seems to me they turn creativity off when it comes time to promote.


I love promotion. Probably more than I like writing. I remember BI (before Internet) when it was hard to reach readers. We sent postcards and made the post office rich off all those stamps. Now the opportunities are endless. To me, it’s like throwing out a fishing line and see who bites. I love the challenge.


Now we get to the brass tacks and a few of my tricky tactics to build a fan base. First, identify what you don’t like with the promotion of others. Do you really have time to run over to every blog because the author begs you to read it? Unless they are a friend and you feel obligated, I’m going to guess the answer is no. Even if you do, how many times is it a waste, either stuff you’ve read before, thinly disguised self-promotion or just their boring personal musings. If you decide to blog-hop ask yourself “Do I have enough interesting material to keep people following me?” Is another free e-book going to make you rush to buy? I’m guessing you already have too many books on your Kindle that you’ll never read.


Now ask yourself what promotions grab your interest. I’m always drawn to great headlines. Maybe that comes from my past career as a journalist. If it makes me smile, I’m in. But, it has to be followed up by content. You have to have a fresh take so I can feel it was worth the 5 minutes to read the blog. I’ll sign up to follow, I’ll spread the word. You also have to have a personality and it can’t be boring. I tend to be plain-spoken and challenging. I want to poke the dragon and get a little fire.


I’ve done two smart things in my career and they have paid off. I realized early on that new authors were lost in the maze of the Internet. I blatantly promised that I could cut 5 years off their career path if they would just blindly follow my lead. I already monitored many sites and by sifting through them I saved new authors the work. I named this group “The Posse” and even made paper badges to wear. I taught them to support each other by running over to the blogs of other members and making comments. It was definitely noticed by blog hosts. Now we’re talking about having a Face Book page. What I created was a group that was very supportive of me.


The other thing I did was revive my Coming Attractions column. BI I did this column for my Sisters In Crime newsletter. I found out who was coming out with a book, announced and did a quippy blurb and gained the gratitude of authors. Now I do it over at Kings River Life and I have a much wider readership. I could leave it there, but that would be lazy. The editor offers a drawing for free books just by making a comment. I monitor who makes comments and contact them on Face Book to thank them for their comment. I also take notes on what sort of book they want to win. The next time that sort of book becomes available, I give them a heads up. An offer for a cozy cookbook garnered over 100 comments. Next time there’s a foodie mystery, I will make personal contact and let them know.


Let me ask you: if an author took the time to pay attention to you and your preferences, wouldn’t you be flattered? If that person remembers your feline’s name is Kit-Kat and asks after her health, wouldn’t it warm your heart? If someone made the effort to give you free publicity, wouldn’t you be grateful? It really takes no extra time to be aware. Aside from the fact that I enjoy doing this, I’m rewarded ten times over. I get reviews, interviews and meet fans at conferences. They want to thank me. And yes, they buy my books.


We’re all on social media but most think of it as a one-way street. I have no time or interest in listening to your pleas to buy your book.. But make the effort to get to know me as a person and I am more than willing to fork over a few dollars to support you.


Navy Veteran Sunny Frazier trained as a journalist and wrote for a city newspaper, military and law enforcement publications. After working 17 years with the Fresno Sheriff’s Department, 11 spent as Girl Friday with an undercover narcotics team, it dawned on her that mystery writing was her real calling. Her Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries are based on actual cases with a bit of astrology added, a habit Frazier has developed over the past 42 years.

For more, go to

front cover (2)A Snitch in Time

When sheriff’s department office assistant Christy Bristol Is visiting her friend Lennie in the Sierra Nevada foothills when a murder is committed. Christy is conscripted by the homicide team to handle the reports and the detectives put her up in an empty forest ranger’s cabin. As the body count grows it becomes apparent the killer is targeting undesirables in the town of Burlap. When a snitch calls Christy and accuses a deputy of the murders, Christy doesn’t know whether to believe the allegation. Could a killer be hiding behind his badge? Christy decides to solve the case her own way by using astrology to profile the killer but putting her own future at risk.

And time is running out.


Promotion, Promotion, Promotion by Marilyn (aka F.M.) Meredith

MarilynoncruiseThat’s what has been occupying a lot of my time lately.

I just finished a blog tour which everyone knows is time-consuming. I’ve been doing them for a long time, and my tips for a successful tour is this:

Ask your host if there is anything special they’d like you to write in your post. If they don’t have any ideas, come up with something different from what you’ve done for others.

If possible, send the post along with the bio, book blurb and attachments of the cover and yourself in the same email.

Change up the photos of yourself. If someone is following your tour, it’s fun for them to see different pictures of you. I like to include photos of me at different events like book fairs, speaking engagements, and on panels.

You could add other photos that have something to do with your book.

On the day your post is to appear on someone’s blog, be sure to leave a comment thanking them for hosting you.

Promote the blog everywhere, Facebook, Facebook groups. Twitter, and all the listserves you belong to.

Be sure to put the tour schedule with clickable links on your own blog.

Return to each blog several times a day that it appears and reply to comments left by others. Check it once or twice in the days to follow.

Do blog tours work? I wouldn’t do them if I didn’t think so. When I’m on a tour, I always get an uptick of sales. It’s also a way to get your name out there. On the tour I just finished, besides my loyal followers, I had many unique commenters—unfamiliar names who expressed interest in my latest book.  (I also think tours are fun.)

This is the book I was promoting, the latest in my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series: Violent Departures.ViolentDepartures


College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.



F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

One last bit of news, starting May 1 and on, the first book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, Final Respects, will be free on Kindle. Why am I doing that? In hopes that after reading it, people will want to read the rest of the books in the series. I’ll come back to P.J. Nunn’s blog and let you know how it worked out.


Is Facebook of any use? by Judy Alter

darkerbackgroundMy teenage granddaughters never use Facebook. They’re constantly texting, and I think they’re on Instagram, though, Luddite that I am, I have only a vague idea about Instagram and what it does. One of my youngest daughter’s friends tried earnestly to explain it to me one night but it went in one ear and out the other.

I hear authors say that they no longer think Facebook is effective, it doesn’t boost sales, it’s a time suck, etc. I’m here to say that I’m a big fan of Facebook, even after more years than I care to count. I try to comment on several posts each day, to leave a post on my personal page and author page, and to post my daily blog. Yeah, I really do try to blog daily, though I miss some days when the well runs dry.

Here’s what I think Facebook can do for us as authors: give us a chance to connect with fans and to enlarge our pool of potential readers.

The wrong way to post on Facebook, to my mind, is to push your books constantly, to make your posts repetitive sales pitches or, should you get a good review or an award, endless BSP (blatant self-promotion). I rarely mention my books, although more often on my author page. My goal on Facebook is to present myself as a likeable person, someone people want to be friends with, someone they might go to lunch with. So I post about my dog, about a day at an antique mall, about something clever my local grandson said to me. Sometimes I post deep thoughts about things that concern me, from spiritual matters to economic and political.

I know both religion and politics are no-no for a lot of Facebook people and on a lot of blogs. But I feel it’s important, personally, to express my point of view. It doesn’t quite come to the evangelical tradition of witnessing, but it’s along the same vein. I have a friend who is vocal on Facebook about women’s rights, liberal politics (and the folly of conservatives), and matters of the Episcopal Church, in which she is deeply involved. But she also posts pictures and comments about her wonderful and extensive gardens, which include a chapel; pictures of her grandsons and dogs and cats; pictures of especially beautiful plants. She explained to me once that she didn’t want people to see her as just a harsh liberal but also as a nice person with a soft side. I’ve adopted her stance.

One of the nicest things I ever read in a review of one of my Kelly O’Connell mysteries was that the characters were comfortable, friendly, like people Desperate-for-Death-JAlter-MDyou’d meet in the grocery store. That’s the image I aim for on Facebook—friendly, casual, so that readers might say to themselves, “I like her. I think I’ll try one of her books.”

My blog is particularly important, and I’m pretty sure almost all my blog readers (150-200 a day) link to it through Facebook. People I know only casually stop me and say, “I enjoy your blog so much.” It took a long time to build to the point that I got comments but now I almost always get comments and likes. I do think that’s a great marketing tool, although I also hear some say blogs are as outdated as Facebook.

Some people say an author page is not worth the effort. I maintain one, though I suspect there is much audience overlap with my personal page. But I try to post on it several times a week, and I’m pleased with the statistics (if they can be trusted—many people claim they cannot, citing click farms in Asia, etc.). I get enough comments that I think it’s worth maintaining, and my comments there tend to be more about books, reading, etc. and less about my last trip to the grocery store. Do you really care?

As authors, most of us lead a fairly reclusive life, but I think it’s important to us and to our writing to stay in touch with world events. That’s another advantage of Facebook. It is a source of information for me. I once told my son-in-law that I wouldn’t buy pre-grated cheese because it has wood slivers in it. “And where did you hear that?” he asked. When I said Facebook, his sarcastic reply was, “Oh, of course. That makes it gospel.” I realize you have to take things on Facebook with a grain of salt and a huge dose of skepticism, but it’s sometimes the place where I first learn about major news events—such as the conviction of the Boston Marathon bomber or the horrendous doings in Ferguson, Missouri or the recent tragedy in South Carolina.

Facebook also provides moments of amusement and chances to catch up with friends. Some of the stuff on Facebook is silly, but a lot of it is downright funny, and I enjoy sharing posts, cartoons, and the like with individual friends that I think will enjoy them. I first got on Facebook as a way to keep in touch with my children—they’ve abandoned it, all except a couple, but I’m still there. Yes, it’s a time suck—but we all need self-discipline.

‘Scuse me now, I have to check Facebook before I go to sleep.


Coming May 5, 2015! Desperate for Death

Just when Kelly’s life has calmed, she faces yet another of life’s puzzles. Except the pieces in this one don’t fit. First the apartment behind her house is torched, then a string of bizzare “accidents” occur to set her off-balance. Who is stalking her? Where does the disappearance of a young girl and her disreputable boyfriend fit in? And why are two men using the same name? Is the surprise inheritance another part of the puzzle? At a time when she is most vulnerable, Kelly can’t make the pieces fit, but she knows she must protect her daughters. Before Kelly can get the whole picture, she helps the family of a hostage, rescues a kidnap victim and attends a wild and wonderful wedding.

My Potpourri of Promotional Strategies – Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

A famous writer is reputed to have quipped that writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95% perspiration. I would add that afterward the author in most cases must handle 100% of the promotion.

In years long gone publishers would assign an editor to fine tune the manuscript with the author, and at least help promote a book, even for a relatively unknown writer. Today the author needs to present a totally edited manuscript even to a traditional publisher and is expected to execute most of the promotion efforts, unless the writer has an outstanding track record.

The real challenge, no matter how a book is published, involves finding ways to promote it by traditional means such as at book signings; by new avenues, for example, social media, and especially by innovative means that require being especially creative.

After having two successful book signings for my first mystery at a branch of Barnes and Noble in Dallas, I asked the manager for a third one in June 2004. He said that the month was devoted to books dealing with weddings. Luckily I had written about a Greek Orthodox wedding in the book and was able to read about the traditional ceremony to attendees, thus fitting into the theme.

Since that experience, I put scenes in my books that might facilitate promotions. Remember the reason for including a possible promotional bit in a tome has to be plausible to the reader, not just stuck in illogically. In the first book, the couple met in Greece and married in a Greek Orthodox Church in the country. The protagonist Ralph and his fiancé in the most recent one vacationed in Costa Rica where he had gone as a child when his mother won a trip. He runs into a friend he played with, now a grown man, who wants to open a business in Dallas but needs a partner who is a U.S. citizen. Ralph wants to open a business, hoping by doing so he will avoid being investigated for his part in the scandal.

It’s important to think out of the box and to realize that authors cannot afford to be shy. For example, when I call a company for some reason, I manage to enthusiastically tell the rep that I write books and suggest they look me up on Amazon. During a trip to visit friends in Alabama I was invited to speak to a breakfast group where members were old enough for retirement. In North Carolina I spoke to members of a women’s group in a church about writing a book.

Every month an online forum I’m a member of has an “anything goes day.” I use the opportunity to write something of interest, perhaps about or from one of my books. I list the names of my three books that are available on Kindle and in paperback, and sign the posts with links to my Facebook pages for my books; website, and author’s page on Amazon. The rest of the month such promotion is prohibited. Last summer I participated in a book fair highlighting the United States in San Jose, Costa Rica and sold books while making friends with other authors, one of whom helped to edit my recent book and has offered to read my current manuscript.

Another way to get exposure for your creations is to review other writers’ books. Usually you can include a short bio and list your credentials with it. Get your books reviewed and look where you might be interviewed on others’ blogs. Rarely do I buy advertising, but when I do, I carefully determine that the venue is worth the money.

Years ago an associate claimed that business cards were the cheapest form of advertising. Every time he entered an elevator, he would turn his back to the door and hand out one to everyone on it. For authors, using a bookmark instead might encourage book sales. Authors still enclose these with their hard copies.

Try to sell your book in different shops, not just the obvious outlets. For example, an author of a book about his experiences traveling to nearly 100 countries sold it on consignment in a store that stocked travel related products. Travel agencies might use such an item as a favor. Real Estate companies and restaurants listed in a featured country might recommend it.  You won’t know unless you ask.

Most importantly, if you get an acceptance, before proceeding, make sure to establish procedures and put all agreements in writing, making everything legal. Giving away something for free with purchase also helps. Buyers of my Costa Rica book simply email me at a special e-mail address for a password to download a free Moving Guide from my website. Having moved at least 30 times from within one city to other continents and having handled the PR for American Mayflower Moving and Storage for over four years when I also became a Certified Packer, qualifies me as an expert. The requests provide the start of a mailing list for future books.

Bottom line, it is important to do something to promote your book every day of the business week or every day if possible. It can be as little as posting on your business Facebook page. Mine is set up so that whatever I post is sent to Twitter and to my Website.  My goal is to promote so well that all the books sell enough that I could give up my day job, if I had one.




Helen Dunn Frame is an accomplished businesswoman (a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, specializing in retail and restaurants, for example) whose professional writing skills, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica; and her love of travel (in 50 GreekGhostsCovercountries at least once where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures), have culminated in several books.

Many threads of Helen’s experiences have been woven into the intriguing fabric of GREEK GHOSTS soon to be followed by the second in the mystery series with a working title, WETUMPKA (Alabama) WIDOW. Living in Dallas during a major scandal resulted in SECRETS BEHIND THE BIG PENCIL. Expecting to update to a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her third book about RETIRING IN COSTA RICA or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida.

A graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), Helen has been published in major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. She has edited newsletters and a newspaper and other author’s books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.



Author’s Page:


I do declare…by Duffy Brown


I live in Cincy  but sort of moved to the South when I started to write the Consignment Shop Mysteries. With the books set in Savannah I had to suddenly start thinking and living like my characters. I guess I’m a bit of a method writer just like there are method actors. I have to live the part I’m writing about to make it real.


The first thing I did was acquire a taste for sweet tea. Sweet tea is big…huge…in the South and with Cincinnati being north of the Ohio River the only sweet tea we get is if you add your own sugar. Another Southern essential is fried okra. I got out my Southern Living cookbook and found the recipe. I don’t think I’ll win any prizes for the dish but it’s a start.


Other way I had to adjust are that I no longer carry Chapstick in the back pocket of my jeans but now wear lipstick every-single-day-of-my-life-no-matter-what-and-no-matter-where-I’m-going. And I have poof hair. Not more straight hair. Think Betty White with her finger in a socket


I’ve turned the thermostat to 80 and my thick wool sweaters are relegated to the back of my closet and I’ve made room for light cottony cardigans. I have a front porch so I put a white rocking chair on it and as far as my speech goes my family thinks I’m crazy as a June bug.


Some of the Southern sayings I’ve tired out with limited success here in Ohio are…


Oh! Bless your heart…” My kids think this is sort of adorable but actually this expression is commonly used when Southerners need an excuse for speaking ill of someone. Example- “She’s as ugly as a mud fence, bless her heart.” Even though the line was an insult it is made better by showing that you, in a way, feel sorry for the person.


And of course there’s Well Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. The fam thought I’d hit the vodka when I tried this one.


She looked like she’d been ridden hard and put away wet. Actually I’ve used this one a lot all my life. That’s what I get from living so close to the Kentucky border.


He could sell a Popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves. Meaning the individual is so good at persuasion that he could talk his way into anything. The sales lady at Macy’s ran when I tried this one.


You can’t get blood from a turnip. Meaning you can’t get something from someone who doesn’t have it. My accountant got this one right off the bat.


Madder than a wet hen and  He’s like a bull in a china shop and Cute as a bug’s ear. I’ve used these for years too so the fam didn’t blink an eye when I started working them into the conversation.


We were just sittin’ around chewin’ the fat. The kids told me I needed more veggies and fruit and forget the fat


Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I used this one on my nextdoor neighbor and she was tickled pink she’d be getting fresh eggs


She was all over him like white on rice. I used this one on my other next door neighbor and  she smacked her husband upside the head.


You can’t see the forest for the trees. Is another one I’ve used tons but my new favorite is Easy as sliding off a greasy log backwards.


DemiseinDenimSo, now that you’re sittin’ here chewin’ the fat with me what are some of you favorite sayings? You never know when they just might pop up in the lunch toteConsignment Shop Mysteries. I’ll give away two  Demise in Denim lunch totes from the answers. Thanks for playing along.

Go whole hog today and have yourself a mighty fine time.


Hugs, Duffy Brown

Making pre-orders work for you by Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy

Neil Plakcy

Last fall I went to the Novelists, Inc. convention in St. Petersburg Beach, where I learned a ton of great information about book marketing. One nugget that caught my eye was the idea of a pre-order on Amazon.  I decided to try that concept out with my latest golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy.

A pre-order serves several purposes. First, it enables the author to publicize a book that’s not quite ready for prime time, and yet still snag orders. Second, all those pre-order sales ring in on the first day that the book is available. That means a big boost in sales all at once, which should help Dog Have Mercy move up the sales list fast, bringing it more visibility.

Want to give a pre-order a try? Just set up your Amazon book as you normally would, with one difference. In the “Book Release Option” section of your new book setup, just select “Make my book available for pre-order” and then set a release date.

graphic 3

Once you pick a date, Amazon will let you know the deadline for delivering all your files. Make sure you pick a date that works for your delivery – if you miss a deadline, Amazon says they’ll prevent you from setting up pre-orders for a year as punishment. They will require all the files to be submitted by at least one week before your launch date, so they can have time to review and approve your files.

After the book is available for pre-order, you can track those potential sales from your KDP dashboard. Just click the “Pre-orders” link on the Reports page.

graphic 1

Here’s what my pre-orders looked like about two weeks after I started:

Customers who view the page can simply click the order button, and the book will be automatically sent to them once it’s available. They can cancel before that date, though.

graphic 2

They won’t be charged for the book until it’s delivered.

I did this with my most recent golden retriever mystery, Dog Have Mercy. I knew that I needed only a few days for a final proof of the book, so I dog_have_mercy_cover3x4.5was pretty confident that I’d have the finished manuscript done in time. And I was curious to see if I could build up some sales in advance that might help give the book a lift on publication day.

I ended up with 113 pre-orders—not enough to push me up very far on the best-seller list. I sold 755 copies during the month of February, which means that 15% of my monthly sales were from the pre-order.  It was a good start for the book, and sales have remained strong for the past month.  I’d certainly do this again.


Have you tried the pre-order function? Is it working for you?