Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paths to Publication: Sisters in Crime, New England, Workshop

I used to go to Decorators’ Show Houses with a friend to marvel at the ways other people could spend their money. I never expected to have a room like anything I saw in one of the houses. I went just for fun. My friend, on the other hand, went to pick up ideas. She wanted to get one or two ideas each year that she could try out in her own home. I thought that was realistic.

On Saturday, March 29, 2014, Sisters in Crime New England held a daylong workshop on the many paths to publication—traditional, small press, self-publishing, or a combination of two or all of these. Writers on five panels talked about their experiences finding agents, working with editors, choosing to self-publish, learning the ups and downs of going it alone as an Indie, marketing, and more. They shared their experiences, discoveries, advice, and support.

I’ve been published in all three ways, beginning with a reference work in 1988 followed with 8 novels from commercial presses and 1 as an Indie, but I knew I would learn something. And I did. I picked up two or three ideas to try out in my own writing and publishing career. Not all of the ideas suggested would work for every writer, but there was, I think, something for everyone, the beginner, intermediate, and expert (whatever that one is). So, here are the ideas I liked best for my career and I plan to try them on my new Anita Ray mystery coming out in May 2014. For the Love of Parvati is set in the hills of central Kerala during the monsoon. The story features a family estate, a very lucky goat, a temple, and a leopard, along with the rains.

First, I liked the idea of a marketing giveaway. Many writers do bookmarks, so it’s hard to make mine stand out in the pile. One writer puts a miniature of her book cover on a matchbox. Another made small seed packets with her book cover and planting information. I decided to go back to an earlier idea I’d had and set aside, but this time approach more realistically—recipe cards. I can cards for the many dishes mentioned in the Anita Ray books. I love Indian food and I know I’m not the only one, so I think a few simple recipes on recipe cards might be fun.

Second, several writers talked about the groups they belong to, and how they can extend their advertising reach by getting a mention in the organization newsletters or magazines. I like that idea, so I’m looking at unconventional sites for reviews or mentions of the book. A dear friend has a cooking blog and plans to showcase the book along with a recipe for an Indian dish. He came up with the idea when I told him about the book, and I’m grateful to him for the offer and for sparking the idea.

Third, I’m used to handing out bookmarks whenever I do an event, putting them on chairs and sliding them into any book I sell, and leaving them with booksellers. All that is standard procedure. But I am now going to experiment with adding them to everything I mail—bills, donations, etc. I’m curious to see if that has any effect on sales or what kind of feedback I’ll get.

These are not very original ideas, but they will give me a new way to reach readers and, I hope, stimulate me to think of more ways.

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