Pandemic Book Marketing

The final edits are done, the book’s turned in to the publisher and the next step: marketing. Marketing is actually not a single, solitary step; it’s many, many, sometimes wobbly, steps over a large body of water. The steps that aren’t wobbly are the warm, kindly and familiar ones: visiting the friendly bookstores and libraries you’ve promoted in before. But the fact is, expansion of promo is a must with each new book in order to build readership. How does this work during a pandemic? That was the question on my mind last May.

Usually I team up with another mystery author whose book release date is near mine. But most authors I asked weren’t up for marketing during the pandemic. And most were unfamiliar with virtual appearances. I was just beginning to learn myself.

Then Zoom and other video conference platforms showed up in full force. Now we had a means, and thanks to my day job running a legal non-profit, Zoom and I became fast friends. Right about that time, my publisher started to hold author-wide meetings via what else, but Zoom. That gave me an idea: maybe I could team up with another author or two within my publishing house and go virtual.

After one of my Level Best Books publisher meetings, I put out a call to other authors about teaming up. To my delight, three authors responded. Three wonderful mystery authors motivated to make virtual promo work. Within two months, we started booking events. Two of the authors, Tina de Bellegarde and Carol Pouliot are in New York and the third, Jen Collins Moore, lives in Chicago. Between the four of us, our bookings were coast-to-coast, which provided new sources of readers for us all. Hooray!

We put our mystery author heads together and came up with a theme; using common threads in each of our mysteries. We all had sleuths and sidekicks! So started the Sleuths and Sidekicks cross country virtual tour.

A format was organized with questions relevant to our hero/ines and their trusty (or not so trusty) sidekicks. The best part is that we four meshed splendidly and have lots of fun talking mysteries and books. I couldn’t have imagined such a lovely quartet.

Not to worry, if you are an indie publisher, you can still find pandemic virtual book promo teammates. If I hadn’t found my co-authors the way I did, I would’ve expanded my search to writing groups which I’ve joined (Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, etc.).

If you missed one of our live panels, check my events page to watch the recordings. Having fun can be catchy!

Sidekicks: What Makes A Good One?

It dawned on me today that the heroine of my Southern California Mysteries, Corrie Locke, isn’t the only one who has sidekicks (I can be a little slow to sit up and pay attention). I have sidekicks, too! And they’re every bit as talented as hers. I think neither she nor I regard these important players in our lives as sidekicks. We regard them as friends.

What traits do we need in sidekicks (real and fictional)?

1. Loyalty – This is why dogs make excellent sidekicks.
They don’t hesitate in giving unwavering support.

2. Being mostly Trustworthy – sometimes sidekicks get tired or hungry or irritable. That’s where the “mostly” comes in. Or sometimes, they act outside of their
skill set in the name of being helpful. When this happens, remember that it’s the thought and good intention that matters. Trust is an important sidekick asset.

3. Sweet talents or skills up their sleeves that are often helpful (and that you don’t have).

4. They’re good listeners. Just being able to talk through a situation with a rapt listener may help move life along in the right direction.

5. They show up when needed the most. This is most important because we don’t always reach out when we should or maybe we’re unable to. Here’s an example from Corrie’s fictional life (from MURDER GONE MISSING):

Corrie finds herself in a tight spot when a villain manages to weaken her resolve. She’s no damsel in distress, mind you,

but she could use a hand to move things along faster. A sidekick walks in at exactly the right time (he senses she may be stuck in a quicksandy situation) and provides enough of a distraction so that Corrie can get back on her feet and handle matters.

In my real life, I have a sidekick that manages to find me no matter how large a crowd I may be lost in. He has me on his radar, which I deeply appreciate.

As you may have noticed, sidekicks aren’t ordinary people/animals in our lives (or in our fictional stories). Their very presence kicks our lives to a whole other level; one that makes our experiences more palatable and exciting.

Leaving 2020 on a Positive Note

I’ll take the positive over the negative, any time. How about you?

About a week ago, I learned that Book #3 in my series, MURDER: DOUBLE OR NOTHING, won the 2020 Cozy Mystery Award from N.N. Light’s Book Heaven, which was quite gratifying! It’s a writer’s dream that somebody “gets” their book and that readers find enjoyment in reading it. In this case, Mr. Light reviewed my book and liked it enough to select it a winner. Hooray!

2020 has been an unusual year. My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. In my own small way, I try to help, but it never seems enough. I remind myself that every day that passes brings us closer to leaving the virus withering away. That is my sincere hope. Meanwhile, I work on focusing on the positives in life. A few personal examples:

– A father I’ve not been close to was moved from one care facility to another closer to my home, after he tested positive for the virus and wasn’t doing well. He’s since recovered, happy and as comfortable as can be. So far, so good.
– We adopted another rescue dog who was left tied to a post with a bag of food open before him for who knows how long. He suffered from obesity and other issues. When I brought him home, I wondered if I’d made a big mistake. He seemed so despondent. Months later, he’s as happy as can be, and slimmed down. It was definitely a right choice.

– I met and virtually toured the country with a trio of lovely mystery authors that I would not have gotten to know otherwise. I’m so grateful for that opportunity!
– My perspective has shifted by a series of small circumstances. Here’s a tiny example:
I walked around my yard, staring at autumn leaves carpeting the ground when I was knocked in the head by a tree branch. When I whipped around to face the naughty branch, I burst out laughing at the stiff culprit. How simple life would be if we were able to laugh away all irritations rather than feeling irked. Laughter feels splendid! Smiling feels pretty good, too.

I’m not writing down resolutions for the New Year, but I am writing a list of all that I am grateful for. That will help start the New Year on the right note, don’t you think?