Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Dorothy St. James

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Dorothy St. James is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Above is the cover photo for her May 3rd release from Berkley Prime Crime, Flowerbed of State.

In the book, Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun's passion for gardening has carried her to President's Park on which sits the White House. But when she finds a dead body in a trash can, Casey has to root out a killer before she ends up planted herself.

Below is Dorothy's guest article:

Thank you, Beth, for inviting me to your blog. I’m excited to be here. Writing a book is a long process and, amazingly it’s not over even after the book has been published. Some may even say that that’s when the real work starts. Promotion.

Why, oh, why isn’t “promotion” a four-letter word? It leaves a foul taste in my mouth. I’d much rather get a root canal—another should-be four-letter word—than try to convince someone to buy my book.

The only job I’d ever been fired from was a telemarketing position. I didn’t even last a full day before being asked to leave.

Writers spend most of their lives tucked away in front of a computer screen, listening only to the whispering voices in our heads. And then we’re expected to burst from that safe, comfortable cocoon as an experienced marketing maven fluttering around like social butterflies.

Not fair. Not fair.

I’ve never longed to be a butterfly. Their lives, while beautiful, are too dang short.

But I digress. I DO have a book out this month, a book that I’m mighty proud of. So I’m not even going to blush (much) as I tell you a little bit about it.

Flowerbed of State (Berkley Prime Crime), a lighthearted adventure at the White House, is the first book in the White House Gardener Mysteries. Casey Calhoun’s passion for organic gardening and an eye for detail have carried her into the most important patch of land in America—the President's Park, on which sits the most important home in America: the White House where she stumbles into a plot that has nothing to do with gardening and everything to do with murder.

I promise you, it’s more fun to read than a tax bill. The book’s even garnered some blush-inducing reviews (see my bio below).

Now, it’s time for me to beat the drum and stand on the highest mountain, shouting into the wind that “Flowerbed of State came out this month!” To that end, I’ve been visiting every blog where I can inveigle an invitation. In addition, I have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter presence. But that’s not enough.

I’ve also:
1. Placed ads on reader-oriented websites, such as The Romance Reviews.
2. Talked about my book with newspaper editors/reviewers.
3. Mailed out bookmarks.
4. Visited online book chats.

But is that enough?

If you’re a writer, what do you do to get the word out about your books? If you’re a reader, how do you find out about new books?

Okay, everyone, please chime in with your answers. And, if you have a question for Dorothy, please ask it. Lastly, if you've read her book and want to lavish praise on her about it, I'm sure she'd appreciate it!


MIsa Ramirez said...

I'm with you, sista. Promotion is a four letter word. This is the part of the game so many people just don't get. Promotion can be a full-time job on it's own, forget about writing the next great book in your series!

I love your series, so hope all you're doing helps spread the word!

Norah Wilson said...

Wow, Dorothy, your book sounds great! And you seem to be doing everything right vis-a-vis promo. And yes, Twitter works. That's why I'm here. ,-)

Other things? I think it's important to boost other authors by helping them get the word out on social networks. Very few will fail to return the favor, exposing you to their followers.

Good luck with what looks like an awesome book!

ChrsitineA said...

I can totally understand about how uncomfortable self-promotion can be! There are two ways I find out about new books. The first is word of mouth from friends and fellow forum members. The second, don't laugh, is if the book cover catches my eye. Being an artist, I'm drawn to bright colors and a clean look, then if the book sounds intriguing I'll buy it!
Best of luck with your book!!!

Dorothy St James said...

ChristinaA, I'm with you. I often do judge a book by a cover, even though I should know better. Shiny, pretty. I'll pick it up. :-)

Thank you for stopping by, Norah. And yay, Twitter for getting you here! I'm very new to Twitter. It's both addicting and bewildering. You're right about the need to support each other. I know I have found several new books to read from recommendations on Facebook.

Hey, Misa! Thank you for stopping by. You're a promotion goddess. I SO look up to you. This month promotion has felt like a full-time job. And I still need to get book 2 finished. Once I figure out the promotion angle, I'm going to focus on balance.

Marni said...

Dorothy, one other area I've found to be good: book clubs. I've found them to be especially willing to read The Blue Virgin when it comes with a phone interview afterward at their next meeting: they put me on speakerphone and ask away. They even cast their varied votes for which of two men my protagonist should end up with down the road! And because of your book, try garden clubs!

Kris Bock said...

I wrote an article on conference networking for Writers Digest several years ago and made the point that it's not about "making a good impression" or "selling yourself to someone who can help you." It's about making friends -- connecting with people who love books the way you do.

I think it helps to think of promotion in a similar way. You're not trying to brag. Rather, you hopefully love your book and you want to share that enthusiasm. And you want to meet other people who are book lovers, so you can talk about books.

Take an interest in other people's work, as you would if you were making new friends. Offer advice and encouragement. Most of us feel more comfortable in this role -- and as a bonus, it makes a better impression.

Rattled: romantic suspense in the dramatic and deadly southwestern desert. $9.99 trade paperback, $2.99 e-book

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Beth and Dorothy,

Speaking from a reader's point of view, I find my new reads from friend recommendations, book award finalists, blog guest authors, blog book reviews, and occasionally something off the best seller lists.

Beth Groundwater said...

I'm loving the comments, everyone. Keep them coming!

It's really hard to measure precisely what propels a person to buy a book. People who work in sales say a person must hear about a product 5-7 times before they’ll make that buy decision. So, I try to provide those 5-7 times by getting Deadly Currents mentioned in as many places as possible—print and online reviews, social networks, blogs, newspaper articles, radio interviews, email loops, fan conferences, book club visits, library events, etc.

I let my publishers focus on getting reviews and marketing to libraries, which they do well. My four basics are my website that I update monthly, blogging on my blog and Inkspot (the Midnight Ink author blog), my email newsletter, and two social networks: Facebook and Goodreads. I focus on only these two because I think to get the benefit out of a social network, you have to be active on it, and two is all I have time for.

Anita said...

I think a lot of people visit agent websites. I've gotten my last few books from agent recommendations...and, yeah, I get that they're promoting their clients, but some of them do it soooo well.

Good luck with your book!

Sharon Marie said...

Hey D, I just started reading your new book. Wow! It starts out "down and dirty" just like I like 'em. Can't wait to finish it. I don't have a book to promote...yet, but when I do I'll count on you to tell me all the things NOT to do. Big success wishes with Flower Bed of State.
Sharon Marie

Patg said...

I've been around marketing all my working life, so having to do it seems second nature. Doesn't mean I can make it work. Everything everyone tells you is right, but don't count on it.
Marketing is the one place you cannot be a good girl, do the right thing and be rewarded. So, stop thinking that way. Shameless hussy is your best bet.
what you are hating is putting yourself out there, telling people to do something and being expected not to feel ashamed of yourself.
Few of us have been raised to do that.
Thanks for the opportunity to think of a new blog post for Working Stiffs. And buy my book, Downsized To Death.
See, that's how it works.
Good luck.

Dru said...

Hi Dorothy,

Welcome and congrats on your book release. I find out about books from the blogs I visit, on Facebook and when authors blog-hop.

I can't wait to read the next book in your series.

Dorothy St. James said...

Thank you, Dru! I was just talking with a reader this weekend about book shopping. He said he's often overwhelmed with the number of books available out there. I think I am too sometimes. There's too many books, too little time.

And wouldn't you know it? I was posting responses to the comments exactly when Blogger went down the other day. Although the comments are gone, I'm still going to respond.

Marni, that's a great idea. I need to start talking with the garden clubs and book clubs.

Kris, I'm going to start thinking about promotion that way (making new friends). That certainly feels more natural.

Beth, the time factor is a big one. It's one thing to have an account on these social networking sites, it quite another to be active on them. I have Bebo and Myspace accounts that I never visit.

Hi Anita, another good reason I probably should try to get an agent one of these days. ;-) I've never thought about finding books on agent sites, but that's really a great place.

Patg, I love how you slid that promotional bit in there! You are a natural. I'll have to start hanging around you. Do you have a Twitter account?

Sharon Marie, Thank you so much. I love you to pieces!

**I hope I don't break blogger this time. ;-)