Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Promoting My Work


Promoting my books is a challenge. I've discovered word-of-mouth doesn't work very well, unless you connect to a “mouth” with a wide audience, say somebody like Pat Conroy. Anyway, writers can’t count on their friends reading their books. There’s so much variation in tastes that even if a person likes you, it doesn’t mean he’ll care for your genre of writing.

Several independent book stores have generously invited me for book signings, for which I’m grateful. And I’ve recommended Fiction Addiction, Indigo Books, and McIntosh Book Shoppe whenever the occasion permits. The edge these stores have on the big boys is that their inventory is vetted, and the staff is knowledgeable about their books. I’ve also found that they carry engaging story books for children rather than the educational pablum found in many big stores. As much as I like independent book stores, the return on my signings has been minimal.

At the recommendation of a friend, I committed $150 to an ad campaign with Goodreads, a website. It’s a fun site for readers, but I wouldn’t recommend it for writers. It’s been not only a waste of my money but a frustrating experience. One of my rules for interacting with any website is to confirm that there’s a way to contact the manager, but I forgot with this website. As a consequence, I’ve found it impossible to get answers to questions or to make a change to my ad copy.

Goodreads emails me a daily automated account showing that nobody has chosen my book for their cyber “bookshelf.” Thanks, but no thanks. This sort of “top-notch” reporting is demoralizing to say the least. A weekly accounting would more than suffice.

And when I’m down, thinking nobody reads, much less appreciates, my books, I get an email that makes my day. With great delight, I’ve read and re-read Mark Toraason’s note to me. And with unabashed self-promotion I copy it below:

Congratulations on “Master!”…I enjoyed the increased level of imagery you added to the second installment. Your descriptions did a fantastic job of bringing life to the family. Georgiana and especially Tilmon are life and blood characters. You clearly stepped it up a notch from Kedzie. While having read Kedzie may have removed some of the suspense, the alternative perspective that Master adds to the story made up for the lack of surprise. Additionally, your background work stands out in the historical minutia you provide regarding the daily life and views of both freemen and slaves in mid-19th century South Carolina. All presented in a very casual way that adds to the drama of each character’s experiences, dilemmas, and actions. --Mark Toraason

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