From coals to flames: A passion reignited

Soon after the release of A DEAD MAN’S EYES, I joined several Facebook groups geared toward readers and reviewers. My goal was promotion. I wanted to let readers know the book was out there and encourage reviewers to download the novel from NetGalley.

So I posted and I posted and I posted.

But there is one group I could not bring myself to include in my promotional efforts, The Book Hangout Spot. Yes, I have sometimes recommended my own novel when group members have indicated they are looking for a fast-paced read or a good mystery, but I usually find myself pushing the works of my favorite authors from all genres.

And I get a rush of excitement when I do it.

This particular group has reignited in me a passion that had been reduced to smouldering coals by my efforts to meet editing deadlines, write guest blog posts, do interviews and explore new ways to promote A DEAD MAN’S EYES. My to-be-read piles are huge but, in looking through them again, I now realize the books I feel I have to read outnumber the books I crave.

I want to support my crime-writing friends by reading their novels. I especially want to support my colleagues at Level Best Books by reading and promoting their awesome works. I also need to read new releases in my genre to keep up with the latest trends. Most of those novels are fantastic and I am glad to have read them, but I now understand I have been neglecting other authors and genres I love for more than a year.

I greatly enjoy mysteries and thrillers, but I love any book that is written on a level that transcends genre, including many crime novels.

I used to alternate books from two different to-be-read piles– one pile of crime fiction only and a second pile of books from other genres. But I looked on my nightstand and dresser a few weeks ago and realized only one book in those stacks would fall into a different genre.

The revelation saddened and inspired me.

That second pile is growing again thanks to the administrators and members of The Book Hangout Spot. Their passion for reading blew oxygen on my coals and reignited my own passion for all genres. Some of the members are authors and writers and book promotion is allowed, but, there seems to be an unspoken rule that we are united by reading in this particular group, not by writing. Readers do most of the promoting in this group, not authors.

So, to the members and administrators of The Book Hangout Spot, I want to say thank you.

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.