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.

 

 

Bio:

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.

Links:

Website: www.helendunnframe.com

Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RetiringInCostaRicaOrDoctorsDogsAndPuraVida

I do declare…by Duffy Brown

Dianne_Castell_Eq

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?

Tips for Hosting a Killer Facebook Launch Party by Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber

A few months ago, a member of my street team mentioned that she was bummed that she lived too far away to attend my launch parties for A Killer Retreat. I immediately replied, “Why don’t we do one on Facebook?” As soon as the words left of my fingertips, I realized that I had a huge problem: I had no earthly idea how to do it. For those of you prone to similar brain farts, here are some of my key learnings:

 

Tracy’s Tips for Hosting a Killer Facebook Launch Party

 

  • Invite everyone you know—and then some. I sent every one of my 1500 Facebook friends an invitation to the party. Rumor has it that Facebook only allows you to send out 180 invitations daily, though I was able to do over 200 a day with no problem. But that was only the start! I also asked my street team (Team Tracy) to spread the word, posted invitations on my author page, and sent notices to several relevant Facebook and Goodreads groups. According to the party page, 208 people attended, though I suspect that’s actually the number of people who RSVP’d “yes.” In any event, I had more attendees than I’d hoped for—many who heard about my writing due to the party!
  • Pick a reasonable party length. I originally scheduled the party from 6 – 7 PM PST, but I quickly realized that wasn’t great for my East coast fans. In hindsight, an hour wouldn’t have been long enough, anyway. I finally lengthened it to two hours (5 – 7 PM PST). Some people only came for a few minutes, but many stayed the full time. To be completely honest, that two-hour window was just a guideline, anyway. I was still receiving and responding to messages at midnight!
  • Act like a boy scout. Be prepared. I spent days preparing for that two-hour party. I gathered photos, games, memes, quotes, party favors, and marketing ideas. I quickly realized that I needed to organize the material so it would be available when I needed it, in the order I needed it. I had four separate windows open throughout the party, each with different content: the Facebook page for the party; a draft e-mail listing the games and giveaways scheduled for each 15-minute segment; a file folder of photos (both for the games and of scenes from my book); and a KillerRetreatWord doc of excerpts. Without the pre-organization, I’d have been lost.
  • Give out party favors. Lots of them. Party favors get people excited, so I posted a contest for a prize or two every 15 minutes. I gave away signed copies of my favorite authors’ work (some books were donated, some I purchased) and I made book-related swag. After the party, I sent anyone who signed up for my newsletter an autographed bookmark.
  • Think variety. During the party, I had threads for the contests, threads with excerpts, threads with photos, and threads in which readers could ask questions. Keeping up with it all was admittedly impossible, but the attendees loved it! And no one expected me to be present in every thread at once. I toggled between them.
  • Don’t make advertising the goal. It’s OK to post a few advertisements. (I think I did four or five different ones spread throughout the event.) But if all you do is yell, “Buy my book!” people will quickly jump ship.
  • Get help! I wasn’t confident enough to have an assistant help me this time, but I learned my lesson. An assistant could have drawn the “party favor” winners, gathered mailing addresses, and brought my attention to questions I needed to answer. An assistant also would have kept me from screaming every time my computer froze, which it seemed to do every ten minutes.
  • Measure success in terms of the fun you (and your attendees) had, not the number of books sold. I truly believe marketing is a long-term strategy, built on the matrix of relationships. No individual effort is likely to pay for itself, Facebook launch parties included. The goal is to build relationships that will hopefully snowball over time. No one knows what really sells books. All you can do try, and be sure to have fun with the process.

 

I thought my party was a rousing success. Did it land me on the New York Times Best Sellers list? Not even close. In all honesty, the jury’s still out on the success of my writing career. But I’m having a good time, making friends, and putting myself out there. Isn’t that what’s most important?

 

If you want to take a look at the party, it’s still online. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/events/1519187445016438/. While you’re at it, friend me at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe.

 

What tips do you have for virtual launch parties?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house. 

Visit her at TracyWeberAuthor.com, friend her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe, or e-mail her at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.

Buy A Killer Retreat

DON’T TELL A NEWBIE WRITER THAT! by Nancy Sweetland

Sweetland,Nancy-116946AcopyEver had a well-known, published teacher hand you the story you’d submitted for comment and tell you to forget about writing seriously? Not just to forget about that particular story. No, it was obvious what that writer/teacher meant (and here I’m paraphrasing, more or less): “Go home and vacuum your house, clean your closets, raise your children and knit afghans for old folks’ homes. Just don’t write. You’re wasting your time. You’ll never make it as a writer.”

 

That actually happened to me on a brilliant fall day many years ago and I can still remember exa23ctly where I stood facing the teacher’s insensitive condescension at the front of a classroom. I remember the smell of the chalk on the blackboard behind him, where he’d scrawled his name boldly across two sections, as though nothing else in the room could be as important. I remember hardly being able to swallow and the sinking feeling in my stomach as I turned away, hoping none of the other students had heard his remark, and scurried out of the room before I could burst into tears.

 

I was thirty years old and living my dream: to go to a writer’s conference! I’d been writing for years, but only for myself. I hoped one day to have a children’s book published, but raising seven children under ten didn’t give me much time to work on that idea. The story I’d submitted to the arrogant, oh-so-important teacher/writer was a humorous novella involving a small Pennsylvania town where a visiting French artist who’d always hoped to paint a renaissance nude met a plump housewife who yearned to have some money of her own. Result: subterfuge and, of course, misunderstandings. (I’d had fun writing it. Today—after much rework—which it needed—“Girard’s Nude” is available as an e-book on Amazon.com.)

 

It was a good premise, and not a bad story, even then. I’d read enough to know it needed more—revision, polishing. That’s what I’d come for. To learn how to go about that necessary next step. That’s what I’d clipped coupons and saved grocery money for: this chance to learn how from an expert.

 

Instead, I was a failure. I was desolated.

 

And now?

 

Now, after fifty years and over a hundred published short stories, poems and essays later, along with seven picture books, three print novels and a number of shorter e-books available, I’m still here. Still writing. But not because of that teacher; in spite of him.

 

I’ve often wondered what he would say about my work today, were he still alive. (That is, if he would condescend to read any of it.) He was actually a pretty big name in our state, with many publications to his credit. But what wasn’t to his credit was what he’d done, not only to me, I discovered later, but to other aspiring writers whose ambitions were dismissed summarily, as though not worthy.

 

‘Pay it forward’ wasn’t a phrase used back in those days, but he obviously didn’t subscribe to the concept. Whatever his reason for accepting the offer to “teach” at that conference—money? Self-satisfaction?—he had an responsibility to offer his experience to us lesser mortals who yearned for his knowledge. It was his duty to hold out his hand and welcome us into the intriguing, astounding, exciting world of writing.

 

He could have. He was in the position to do just that. But he chose, instead, to discourage and belittle. I’ll never know why. I only know that, after drying my tears and rereading my story, I gritted my teeth and vowed, “I’ll show him.”

 

And I have, Mr. Hotshot. I’ve worked hard and had some success, and yes, I’ve paid it forward; I’ve taught whenever I’ve had the opportunity, privately and in groups. There’s a whole lot I still don’t know about writing, especially not now with all the changes in today’s publishing world; nobody knows it all or how different it will be tomorrow. But I do know some things that just might pull a newer, not-so-confident writer a step closer to their dream of publication. You probably do, too. Pay it forward.

 

Bio:  

I got my first rejection when I was thirteen and I’ve been writing ever since. I’ve sold over 350 feature articles, 100+ adult short stories; poems to 0copyboth adult and juvenile magazines, 50+ children’s magazine stories and seven picture books. I’ve earned 70 regional and national awards in adult and juvenile fiction, poetry, and essays. My romances have been published by Wild Rose Press: THE DOOR TO LOVE (2009), WANNABE (2011). THE HOUSE ON THE DUNES (Divine Garden Press, 2014) is a stand-alone women’s fiction/romance. 

That first rejection was an essay about why not to be a nature lover.  I’m sure that the publication realized that what they’d received was from a kid, but they were kind and wished me luck in my future endeavors.  That probably wouldn’t happen today, but it was encouraging – imagine! Me, a high-school kid, getting a letter from the editors at Woman’s Day. I was hooked.”

 I still am.

How Do You Choose A Narrator To Develop Your Audiobook? by Karen

JacketandhandI delved into the project of developing some of my novels into audiobooks, never realizing what type of challenge the project could be.  I listened to hundreds of narrator samples on ACX.com, attempting to decide which voice would best convey my hero or heroine, emotion and multiple characters.  This can be a difficult decision to make from a ten minute audition sample.  I developed a set of guidelines that helped me.

 

  1. Choose an audition sample with multiple characters.

 

I usually upload an audition script that includes three characters so I can tell if I can distinguish voices with the narrator.  I also upload a scene containing dialogue, narrative, and emotion.  This is a true test of a narrator in a short script.

 

  1. When you listen to an audition, listen on several levels.

 

First, listen for tone and cadence of voice.  Could this person be your hero?  Could this narrator be your heroine?

 

Second, listen to the story itself to see if you’re distracted by the voice or propelled into the plot by it.  Does the narrator have an accent?  Does that add to or detract from the telling?  (Example.  My narrator for ALWAYS HER COWBOY is Australian.  His accent is somewhat evident.  However, his voice and his talent for reading the exact emotion into scenes made the accent irrelevant.  He was my hero.)

 

Third, listen for pacing.  Some narrators read too fast for a listener to absorb the words.  Listening should be an easy experience, not a struggle to keep up.

 

Fourth, listen for natural conversation.  Can you tell the dialogue from the narration?  Does conversation flow easily as if you were overhearing it at your favorite fast food restaurant?  Can you tell who is speaking?

 

Fifth—think about the style of the production.  Do you want to feel as if you’re watching a play?  Or would you rather have a narrator read to you?

 

  1. Listen several times.

 

You can probably do all of the above on the first listen-through.  But you’re not finished there.  Adjust your earphones again and listen for any strange noises…any background noises.  Some narrators leave natural breath sounds in.  Others take them out.  Figure out if leaving them in is distracting to you or a listener.

 

What I’ve discovered wearing earphones are the noises you won’t hear if you are trying to analyze a voice from your desktop computer.  Automatically the hum of your computer will cover noise someone using ear buds or earphones might hear.  One of the noises I’ve picked up with earphones is the hum of the recorder when it starts and when it goes off.  If I can hear it, a listener with ear buds in a quiet setting will hear it.  You want a nothingness vacuum in back of the voice that acts as a cushion for it.  You don’t want to hear pages turning, static, or any type of hum or echo.

 

You need to choose a narrator with a level of expertise as the producer.  (Some use outside studios to edit but many edit and upload the chapters themselves.)

 

  1. Male or female narrator?

 

I examine my opening scene, check the book for point of view shifts, then decide whose story is being told the most—my hero’s or my heroine’s.  If it’s a toss up, I ask both to audition.   I’ve found I enjoy listening to a male narrator reading with a higher voice for my heroine more than listening to a female narrator reading a male voice I often can’t distinguish from the heroine’s.  Choosing a narrator who captures the essence of your novel is the best way to help a reader get lost in your story.

 

  1.  Royalty share or finished hour production fee?  

 

I’ve used both.  Again, this depends on whether or not I can find a narrator who fits the book.  I start out listening to royalty share narrators.  But I’ve paid production fees on half of my sixteen projects.  There again, listen for the voice.  A higher production fee doesn’t always mean a better finished product.

 

I’ve enjoyed the process of developing my novels into audiobooks.  Be aware it is a time consuming process.  Also, be aware that marketing Gilt By Association Mech.inddaudiobooks isn’t easy.  One of the huge problems with marketing them is the lack of promotional opportunities other than social media.  I developed these books for the long tail of promotion.  I believe this market is set to take off because of smart phones, iPads, etc.  However, just as with e-books, this market is becoming glutted too.  Just something to consider when starting this process.
It’s been a wonderful experience hearing my books come alive.  As I write more indie projects, I will continue to develop them into audiobooks.

 

USA Today best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 87th novel published in 2015.  An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there.  Maybe that’s why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn’t all about work, awards and Bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen hopes each and every one of her books brings you reading pleasure and warm feelings to surround your heart.

INFO ABOUT GILT BY ASSOCIATION:

GILT BY ASSOCIATION, Book 3 in Karen Rose Smith’s Caprice De Luca Home-Staging mystery series.  When hearts are involved, passion and
murder aren’t far behind.

REVIEW of GILT BY ASSOCIATION:

“Smith pulls out all the stops in her latest mystery featuring Caprice De Luca.  Murder surrounds her latest home-staging job as a dear family friend is killed.  With two possible love interests, it is time for her to make a choice.  The story is quick and exciting to the end.  Another winner from this talented author.”  RT Book Reviews

BUY LINKS FOR GILT BY ASSOCIATION:

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Barnes and Noble

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Mystery Webpage 

Romance Webpage

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Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

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Marketing from the Middle by Karen Hall

WebHalfFigureI write environmental thrillers.  Exciting?  You bet!

I’m an environmental engineer with an English lit degree, so I have the platform and the credentials, but here’s the problem:  I live in South Dakota.  The geographic middle of North America is less than 60 miles from here.  People?  Not so many.

I published my first book, Unreasonable Risk, a thriller about sabotage in an oil refinery, in 2006.  My publisher advised me to set up two book signings a week for the first ten weeks, just to get my name out there.  I smiled.  There were three bookstores in Rapid City (two sold only used books), one in Hot Springs and one in Pierre.  For a radius of 300 miles, that was it.  In those days Facebook had just been opened to the world and Twitter, launched the month before my book was published, was in its infancy.  Social media and its distant relative, on-line marketing, had not reached the Mount Rushmore state.

By the time I published the second in the series, Through Dark Spaces—you guessed it, a thriller again, this one about the environmental impacts of mining—I’d learned a thing or two.  I did lots of guest blogs, radio interviews and giveaways, launched a website and dipped my toes into the Facebook waters.  I also published e-versions of both books.  But for me, the most sales resulted from niche marketing.

My books feature Hannah Morrison, a young environmental engineer who’s capable, intelligent and intuitive, and although she finds herself in jams pretty regularly, Hannah rarely needs to be rescued.  Who, I thought, would like to read about a character like that?  Duh:  women engineers.  So I didUnreasonableRiskCover my research and bought an ad in the journal published by the Society of Women Engineers.  Double duh:  environmental engineers.  They have journals, too.  Though these ads weren’t as cheap as some on-line book marketing opportunities, they targeted a very specific audience.  And they resulted not only in sales directly from the ads, but by word of mouth they brought in many secondary sales.  I also used my local library’s searchable business database to send flyers about my book directly to mines all over the country with the request that they be posted on the change room bulletin boards.  And what do you know!  More sales.

I’m working on the third book in the series, as yet untitled (though I’d welcome any suggestions), this one set in the wild and absolutely crazy boom-town world of the Bakken Oilfields in western North Dakota.  It concerns not only environmental issues surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), but also the social issues that follow the enormous amount of money to be made from an oil boom, especially the issues of human trafficking and rape in a society where men outnumber women by nearly 50 to 1.

In addition to mainstream marketing, this time I’ll market not only to engineers, but to the rest of the oil and gas industry:  companies that produce well casing, drill bits, compressors, pumps and drilling rigs; companies that build railcars and trucks specifically for oilfield applications; refineries and pipeline companies.  I’ll send flyers to the mancamps in the Bakken—those guys have nothing to do but work, drink and watch TV, so why not give them the opportunity to read about the craziness of their own world?  And I’ll also send flyers to bookstores and citizen groups in other parts of the country where fracking fields have been controversial, especially to eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York, where the Marcellus Shale has TDSCoverSmallcaused terrible friction between neighbors.

So my advice to other writers out there is this:  if your protagonist has a specialty, whether she’s a psychologist, a cop, a hair stylist or a firefighter, mine that specialty.  If you don’t know how to find out where to send your promotional material, ask your local librarian.  She’ll know, or she’ll be able to direct you to somebody who does, because librarians are very capable heroes themselves.

Why does it work?  Because people love to read about themselves, especially if you make them valiant, courageous.  If you make mistakes in portraying your hero/heroine, you’ll hear from them, but for the most part they’ll thank you for giving their profession a protagonist worth reading about.

 

Karen E. Hall, an environmental engineer and writer, earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Minnesota and went back to school years later for degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering. She spent many years working in Minnesota’s oil industry as an environmental engineer.  She left to start her own environmental consulting business—and to devote more time to writing.  She’s published two thrillers, Unreasonable Risk and Through Dark Spaces, both featuring environmental engineer Hannah Morrison.  Karen is currently finishing a novel about infertility and working on her third Hannah Morrison thriller.

 

Karen is also a member of the Pennington County Planning Commission where she works on issues of water protection.  She and her husband Jeff Nelsen live outside Rapid City, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Karen-E-Hall/157034087699427

Email:  karen@karenehall.com

Website:  http://www.karenehall.com

To purchase e-books (amazon):

Unreasonable Risk

Through Dark Spaces