Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book Promotion...Part Two

JA Konrath, author of the Jack Daniels series, knows a thing or three about promotion. I may not agree with him on all things promotional, but I do on at least one issue - writer's write and the best way to introduce yourself to readers is through that writing.

Now the fact that I say this is the best way does not mean that I think it necessarily will make you more sales than other things. If I were to chose, based on the number of sales generated, between publishing a short story in Crimespree (a magazine I love and subscribe to) and getting my publisher to pay for a full page ad in the New York Times, I'd have to go with the ad. If either of my publishers is listening...

But the good thing, is that it isn't a choice between writing stories and essays and paying for ads. There are other choices to make perhaps - writing short stories and articles and submitting them all takes time. Driving to bookstores and meeting booksellers takes time. A choice may need to be made. Last year, Konrath famously drove to hundreds of bookstores over the course of the summer. Valuable? Absolutely. Did he get much writing done? I'd have to doubt it (though Joe has a lot of energy so I wouldn't count it out...). But writing stories doesn't conflict with placing ads or getting reviews and handing out bookmarks.

So what have I done? I have done two things that are (hopefully) worthwhile in an of themselves and helped to promote me as an author. First, I have conducted interviews. The list of people who have been willing to consider my questions and actually put together responses has been staggering to me. Nobody (yet) says no. Take a look. There are Edgar winners; there are bestsellers; there are some truly interesting people on my list. Aside from the people I linked to (I'm especially proud of the AHMM interviews. That took some coordination.) there are also interviews with Megan Abbott, Jonathan Santlofer, Al Guthrie, and Con Lehane that I've done for Crimespree this year. Each and every one has been a stellar interview subject.

The interviews started as a way for me to introduce myself to others in the field. After all, one doesn't want to just say "I'm an author; like me" does one? I've seen, however, that the interviews draw readers to my site who perhaps wouldn't normally go there - people looking for more info about Laura Lippmann or SJ Rozan.

Then I've also written short stories. Some I've gotten paid for. Some I haven't. It is a very nice thing to get a check for telling lies. I have a short story coming out in the upcoming Bronx Noir. I have another one, a Viktor Petrenko story, coming out in the next edition of Demolition Magazine. The people who like my stories might just buy one of my books. Or they might recommend me to a friend. In fact, if you like my Bronx Noir story, you'll love The Concrete Maze. Guaranteed.

The good thing about short stories is that you do, sometimes, get paid for them. This is as opposed to most other forms of promotion. The good thing about the online stories is that though they rarely pay, they're always there, archived, ready for a new reader. Ready to sell for you. Best of all, if you're a writer, you may well have enjoyed yourself while writing it.

More on how to use short stories to promote yourself later.