As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Terry Shames is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Terry is running a contest for a free autographed copy of her book, A Killing at Cotton Hill, the cover art for which appears above. Terry will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow and announce the name in a comment on this post.
In the book, the chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in to investigate. He discovers that a lot of people may have wanted Dora Lee dead—the conniving rascals on a neighboring farm, her estranged daughter and her surly live-in grandson. And then there’s the stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. During the course of the investigation the human foibles of the small-town residents—their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues—are revealed. As RT Book Reviews said, “Shames’ novel is an amazing read. The poetic, literary quality of the writing draws you in.”
Sounds like a great cozy mystery read to me! Below is Terry's guest post about the promotion treadmill. It should resonate with a lot of writers and I hope it will generate some interesting comments.
Today I’m leaving for Italy. No, France. No, I’m off to spend a few days in the wine country. The Bahamas…
No, I’m not going anywhere. Because my debut novel, A Killing at Cotton Hill, comes out next week and I’m caught on this treadmill called promotion and sales. I’m fulfilling the last leg in a promise made to myself years ago, to be a published author. The fact that it’s more work than I ever imagined it would be is partly because the publishing business has changed so much. Publishers used to not only publish the book (editing, designing, and printing) but also made sure that potential readers heard about the book and that it was available in bookstores. It’s now up to authors to do that last part.
Another thing that makes promotion more work now is the explosion of social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and I exchange dozens of plain old emails every day. I reply to FB posts, comment on blogs, peek at Goodreads reviews, etc. I blog and read blogs and belong to websites that host mystery authors. I read and write articles and….
I realized recently that I’ve lost sight of something important. I was cleaning off my desk and under a pile of accumulated notes to myself about promoting my novel, I found a list of things no author should forget. At the top of the list was, “Writing comes first.” And I smiled. Because I had forgotten that.
Recently a writing friend who is trying to find an agent emailed me and said she wanted to know why when someone got a publishing contract, he or she suddenly disappeared from the real world. “Everyone always says they are so busy,” she said. “What is it, exactly, that you are doing?”
So I wrote a “day in the life” for her. In one sense, it was funny. I saw that I’m chasing my tail. I’m working really hard to make sure my book isn’t a one-time wonder; working to make sure people know it’s out there; and that it’s gotten good reviews. I’m proud of it and I want people to read it. So I’m scattering myself all over the map.
I’m incredibly lucky to have a publisher who assigned me a hard-working, energetic publicist. She has done so much more for me than I ever hoped for. She has set up interviews and reviews and book-signings. No, the publisher doesn’t pay for me to travel to the signings, but at least my publicist sets them up for me. And I’m still buried under the work of selling the book. I don’t mean this as complaining. But I’m bewildered. I don’t even have a day job, and yet I’m snowed under. How does someone do all this if they have to go to work all day?
So when I uncovered the message about writing coming first, I said, “Enough.” I’ve worked hard to get my name out there, to master the ins and outs of social media. I’ve gathered my lists, learned how to write and send announcements, planned my launch events, and gotten a good start on readings. But now it’s time to do the most important promotion activity of all: Write another book.
This doesn’t mean that I will abandon promoting and selling my first, dear debut novel. I actually love speaking in public, enjoy writing blogs and articles, and am thrilled to read at bookstores and libraries. But what I mean by “enough” is that I will stop chasing every possible outlet for promotion. There’s always one more reviewer that I haven’t heard of, one more mystery site, one more influential person to discover. But for now, I’ll stick to the ones I know about. I’ll set up more book signings, and say yes to promo offers that come my way. But I won’t beat the bushes looking for that elusive “one more opportunity” that might push me to a few more sales.
It’s time to step off the treadmill and get back to what I love the most—the activity that got me here in the first place. Writing another book.
Excellent point, Terry! Now I'd like to hear from my blog readers. How much author promotion is enough or too much? Who has a comment or question for Terry Shames? Good luck in the contest!