At the time of this post, I am 3 days away from the release of my debut mystery novel, The Plot is Murder. I thought writing a full length mystery was hard, and it was. A mystery has to not only have a beginning, middle, and an end, but it has to include clues and red herrings (false clues). You have to develop interesting characters, write dialogue that doesn’t put your readers to sleep, and provide all of the elements that make readers want to keep coming back (tension, plot, etc., etc.). I thought finding an agent and a publisher was hard, and believe me, it was. However, nothing compares to the other part of being an author—Promotion.
Writing a book and getting it published are only part of the publishing process. The truly hard part (at least for me) is promotion and marketing. In a bygone age, publishers took care of promoting/selling books. Unfortunately, unless you are a big name author (JK Rowling, Stephen King or George RR Martin), chances are you are going to have to take care of a lot of promotion yourself. Publishers don’t have the budget to pay for full page ads in national magazines and newspapers or to send a debut author touring across the country. A good amount of promotion is going to be left to the author. Thankfully, twenty-first century technology allows authors to use things like social media to reach out to potential readers.
Authors create websites and blogs, tweet, and post to sites like Facebook and Instagram. Social media provides a relatively inexpensive way to reach potential readers. From a financial standpoint, there is very little data to say whether the use of social media actually results in additional book sales or not. However, the one thing that participating in social media does is provide a way for readers to connect to authors (and vice versa). Readers can email or comment on an author’s blog and get a response. Through participating in Facebook parties and blog tours, readers can ask questions and get responses. Authors can also connect to their readers. I’ve seen authors who have allowed readers to name characters, come up with book titles, select cover art, and even suggest plot lines. This is definitely a win-win situation.
I’ve had to come out of my shell quite a bit over the past few months. Two years ago most of my family and friends didn’t know about my dream to write cozy mysteries. Over the past few months, I have posted on almost all social media sites about my book; I’ve also participated in Face book parties, done a Skype interview (Thank you Destination Mystery), done a live radio interview (thank you Ron and Debbie Moore at WOOPFM) and done an interview for a local newspaper (thank you Colby Denton at the Cleveland Daily Banner). In two days, I’ll sit (or stand) behind a table at Barnes & Noble and sign books. I will walk up to strangers and talk to them about my book. I have no idea if these efforts will result in increased book sales, but I can say for sure its resulted in an increase in my confidence and network of friends.