Book promotion and my jig addiction

The sun is shining, the snow is melting, the sap is flowing from our maple trees, and I am only about six weeks away from the April 13 release of A DEAD MAN’S EYES.

Wait a minute …

(Sorry. My giddiness demands that I stop what I am doing now and then and dance a little jig. 🙂 )

Okay, I am back.

I am busy, busier than ever, but that’s okay. I finished the final round of edits for the novel last week and, while I await the cover art and pre-order availability, I am working on promoting it. Book promotion is a huge job, much more time-consuming than I had ever imagined, but I am getting to know the coolest people and discovering some awesome podcasts, blogs and Facebook pages. How had I missed them before?

My publisher, Level Best Books, will do some promotion and marketing for me. I am fortunate in that sense. Most small publishers do not have the means to help authors promote their books, and most big publishers will do little or nothing for books that are expected to rank mid-list. They reserve the big money for the potential bestsellers. But Level Best Books is pretty unique. Again, I am fortunate.

I could have hired someone to market and promote my book. Many authors do. I know people who have spent anywhere from $400 to $20,000 on blog tours or public relations firms, and I am happy they are able to do that. But there are two reasons I decided to go it on my own, at least for my debut novel.

First, there is the expense. With two kids in college and two at home, we need to save money every way we can. Second, there is my background. I am a former journalist. I have been on the other end of press releases and interview requests. I knew I could succeed if I just flipped that dynamic around.

So far, I am thrilled. What I learned is this: There are tons of good people out there who are eager to help a debut author. If you check out my News and Events page, you will see much of what I have scheduled so far, and that’s not everything. I will send out press releases to bookstores and libraries when the cover art is ready. I plan to work with other authors to offer virtual panels for writing groups, book clubs, libraries–anywhere that will have us.

A DEAD MAN’S EYES will also soon become available on NetGalley, where reviewers and journalists can download electronic copies for free. That opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

I am nervous and excited, but I am trying not to lose focus of the most important factor in book promotion: the readers.

Over the past several years, I have asked friends, relatives and strangers time and time again how they decide which books to read. The most popular answers are that they get recommendations from friends or they read books by authors they have met. So, despite the pandemic, I will spend as much time as I can meeting people in person (masked and socially distanced), getting to know potential readers and introducing them to Lisa Jamison, the main character of A DEAD MAN’S EYES.

If my novel isn’t right for them, that’s okay. I can always use more good people in my life, especially friends who have book recommendations.

I am doing all this while working part time and doing the usual parenting stuff, but I don’t feel overwhelmed (well, sometimes, but not often). The adrenaline is flowing right alongside the thin sap that we will soon boiling into maple syrup and, with spring in the air, it is hard to be anything but ecstatic.

I enjoy people, and I hope to meet everyone who reads this blog post somewhere along the way–during virtual events; through comments on Facebook, blogs or podcasts; or in person at festivals of book events. But please forgive me if my attention is momentarily diverted while I dance a jig.

The ARCs are here!

The electronic ARCs for A Dead Man’s Eyes have arrived and the physical ARCs are on their way. I am nervous and excited.

Why?

ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are copies of books that are distributed to book stores and reviewers three to six months before publication with the understanding that there is more editing and a polished cover to come. Their arrival means I can start begging for reviews and mailing copies to authors I admire in hopes that they will write a few kind words for my book cover.

My publisher, Level Best Books, will send ARCs to industry publications for reviews and will make the ARC available on the website NetGalley, where book reviewers, librarians, educators, any readers of influence, can read it for free. NetGalley members are urged to review the books they choose to read, so that will be a good reality check for me.

It also means that round two of editing has begun, the cover art will soon be on its way and that I have some work to do. I have to write acknowledgements, a bio and a dedication for the book, and get a professional photo taken to go with it all.

The photo part makes me nervous. I have put on a few (a lot) of pounds in recent years and I have aged, but I am counting a movement initiated by author Laura Lippman for confidence. She wrote a tweet in 2014, encouraging female authors (all women, really) to post bare-faced selfies in support of Kim Novak, who was criticized for her appearance at the Oscars.

The tweet went viral. The photos that emerged showed me that most female authors get boosts from make-up and Photoshop and that many of them, in reality, are just like me. I found their bare-faced photos stunning in a more honest, artistic way. It also helped me relaxed about the prospect of in-person events. Physical perfection is not critical for book sales.

Whew!

My journey to publication has switched gears with the arrival of the ARCs, and I will need to learn a few new skills to navigate at this speed. I am looking forward to the challenge and to sharing some of those adventures here. Thanks for all the support and encouragement along the way.