Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How Small Promo Efforts Lead to Big Things! #writingtips #amwriting

Making time for promotion, and then actually finding effective ways to get your name out there, can be a real challenge for authors—especially when we’re deeply involved in a story and we’d prefer to stay in our fictional world and write.  But putting yourself out there can really pay off as well, and I’m sharing today how doing local events and getting my name in the paper led to a dream-come-true opportunity—signing books beside the “Queen of Suspense”, Mary Higgins Clark, as well as many other very well-known authors whose books I have enjoyed.  This post originally appeared as an "Authors Boosting Authors" (ABA) installment in an ongoing series organized by an author friend who also writes for my publisher--check out other posts for more insights and ideas on writing and promo here!

Last spring, I received an email asking if I would be interested in participating in an author panel and book signing event at the end of the summer, with no details other than the proceeds would benefit Dream Day on Cape Cod, an organization bringing children with life-threatening illnesses to Cape Cod for relaxation and vacation time with family.  I had no idea who the other authors on the panel would be, but I immediately said yes—a chance to help children and gain visibility for my novels in a win/win.  I didn’t learn the identity of the author panel until a few weeks prior to the event, and you should have seen my expression when I opened the promotional flier and saw “Mary Higgins Clark” next to my name.  Then I saw other very well-known names such as Hank Phillipi Ryan, Sally Cabot Gunning, and Jacquelyn Mitchard and nearly fell off my stool at the kitchen island.

A dream come true!  Signing books alongside Mary Higgins Clark

A little background into what this meant to me.  I’ve always been a voracious reader, and throughout my childhood, my father would bring home stacks of library books each week, selected with the help of the local librarian.  That’s how I discovered a ghost story/sweet romance entitled Jane-Emily, a novel which inspired my own books many years later.  But when I would inevitably finish all the library books in a few days, I’d turn to raiding my mother’s bookcase.  And that’s how I first found Mary Higgins Clark’s debut novel, Where Are The Children?

I can still remember my pulse racing as I tore through the pages.  I quickly hunted down the two other paperbacks we owned, A Stranger is Watching and The Cradle Will Fall.  Over the years, I read all three again many times in between waiting for new releases.  And before I began writing my debut novel, Silver Lake, I re-read Where Are The Children? as a lesson on building tension and suspense.  I was surprised to discover the book was set on Cape Cod, a place which meant little to me as a child, but has now become my home for the last 18 years. 

What a great night the event was!  It was held at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, and it was entitled Art, Word, and Wine, organized by and benefiting Dream Day on Cape Cod.  There were nine authors in total, each with a large table displaying our books, bios, and cards, and while we signed books there, Brewster Book Store employees took care of the sales.  Local shops offered wine tasting and appetizers, and there was a large raffle table as well.  We had a 45 minute author panel with a quick Q&A session; for the most part, we signed books at our tables and chatted with attendees.

My table at Art, Word, and Wine

I was able to chat quite a bit with Mary Higgins Clark and Hank Phillipi Ryan, whose tables were near mine.  What an honor!  Mary Higgins Clark signed my author panel name card on request, and was so very gracious about it, and Hank Phillipi Ryan suggested I Facebook friend her.  Done!  Quite a few of my friends came to the event, as well as a number of members of the gym where I work.  I met a lot of new people as well, including the County Administrator of Barnstable, who works right near the Old Haunted Jail from my novel Haunted Souls (which he purchased and said he enjoyed very much in follow-up emails!).  Since the building in that area (Barnstable Village) are so old and filled with history—and possibly ghosts, per our local paranormal society—he offered to give me a tour of some areas “off limits” to the general public, which was a fabulous experience.  The pictures and notes can be found in this post; and for a taste of some Cape Cod spooky suspense mixed with steamy romance, give my latest release, Haunted Souls, a try!

Haunted Souls was one of the Top 3 Books of 2016 at Read!
A damaged soldier, a secret baby, and a haunting mystery...
Coming to Audible Dec. 2017!

**If you're in the Cape Cod area, I'll be participating in another author panel this Friday--this one is comprised specifically of Authors of Young Adult fiction, and again, I'm thrilled to be participating with some very famous authors!  More info on that event can be found here.

In the ABA series, posts end with a specific writing tip and a specific promo tip, so here are mine...please share yours in the comments below! 

Writing Tip:  This goes along with trying to balance time between writing, promo, and life in general, and it speaks to me because I’m not a speedy writer.  It’s advice from Chris Bohjalian, an author I enjoy, who writes in several genres.  “Write one terrific sentence. Don’t worry about anything else – not where the story is going, not where it should end. Don’t pressure yourself to write 500 or 1,000 words this morning. Just write 10 or 15 ones that are very, very sound.” – Chris Bohjalian, from his Goodreads author page Q & A.

Promo Tip:  Again, relating to this post…get your name out there!  Every time I do an event, whether it’s a book signing, a reading, a class, etc., I make sure the event is listed on the online events calendars of all the local publications.  It’s something you can easily do yourself, and it’s free promotion, and it also leads to bigger things.  Aside from the book signing I discussed above, I’ve been contacted and asked to display my books at a local bank, appear at a salon open house, talk to a high school creative writing class…so many opportunities pop up just from letting people in the community know that I write novels!

Happy Writing!

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