This COVID-19 pandemic keeps continuing and we writers need to find different ways to promote our books. And help each other in the process. As you know from previous posts over the past few years, I host the online TV series Crime Beat Confidential on thatchannel.com. The latest was done just before the end of 2020 and featured another series mystery writer – Rosemary McCracken. who writes the Pat Tierney mystery series.
Rosemary and I belong to a couple of the same mystery-writing organizations – Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime. In the days when we could still do so, we often were panelists together (and with other authors) with those organizations’ presentations. Here we read and/or talked about our books, including doing some q and a.
I also run the East End Writers’ Group – for writing critiques – now virtual. When we met at S. Walter Stewart Library in Toronto, Canada, Rosemary was one of my guests for one of our special presentations. So books were physically there for readers to buy. Now the book-selling process is online in various capacities. I know, I know, some of us, like me, have done some book sales from our verandas. But all sales instigated either from Facebook, email, book launch, or elsewhere on line.
So now we writers pair together to promote our books. Below is the link to Rosemary’s Crime Beat Confidential interview, done remotely. It is about 45 minutes long. Warning: my pesky in-your-face Beyond character, PI Dana Bowman, loudly starts the show – as she usually does. But despite her brashness, she is turning into a good marketer for my memoir. Hear and see what she has to say at the beginning and then she talks a bit about Rosemary. But I am the one interviewing Rosemary while Dana gets banished out of camera view on the living room couch.
I’m finding it both interesting and challenging marketing my new book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. We live in uncertain and unsettled times with this COVID-19 business. Not only do we worry about getting the virus, but we have had our lifestyles turned topsy-turvy. Not something we asked for, but I guess we have to make the best of it. And that requires being creative.
Which is something I am learning to do for promoting my memoir. In person presentations, readings and book launches are now gone. I now have a very extensive market plan which is open to changes and additions. I check it daily and make a note i when I have done something on my list, and then save it yet again.
Some of you may notice that I have increased my presence on Facebook, both my Facebook timeline and its attached author page. That increase is all about my book, which includes (and will include more) small excerpts from my memoir. I will also be posting more about the actual writing of memoir as I have taught workshops in that for 10 years. I know that has generated some book sales from what my publisher told me about numbers sold through Amazon. Not a huge number, but the book has only been out for two weeks.
I am also selling books via Canada Post – for those who live in Canada.
But perhaps the wackiest way I’m selling books is from my veranda. Let me re-phrase that. Some of that comes from my emails to friends and they come by to pick up the book by appointment (read, when it works for them and me).
So there comes the buyer up the veranda steps, past my unofficial greeter, money in an envelope dangling from the hand, and a mask on the face. He or she knocks on my front door and then steps back. Inside, I put on my mask and a jacket if needed, and with signed book copy in hand, step outside. We do a short greeting and the buyer hands me the envelope (still dangling from her fingertips), and I do the same with the book. We make comments about wishing we could do a proper visit/chat, but say “when this pandemic is over.” One buyer, also a friend, and I had decided via email we could do a short social distancing chat, but the rain began falling as soon as she stepped out of her car. On another occasion a month ago, this friend did stop by (pre-arranged) to pick up some flower seeds from my garden. The seeds were in a sealed envelope. We actually had a chat, 6 feet (2 metres) apart in my driveway. It wasn’t raining then.
Those are some examples of the new norm.
The other big change is going virtual – beyond the usual Facebook postings, the blog postings, Goodreads, Amazon, and the website. I’m talking about Zoom. Zoom has opened the door to us authors to promote our books. It is even how my writers group, The East End Writers’ Group, now meets. And yes, I have held up my book there and did a one minute elevator pitch. Ditto for another organization I belong to for its Literature group.
I am also getting bold in approaching newspapers, book buyers, etc. (via email). for book reviews. It has garnished (so far) one wonderful review and five stars on Amazon.ca.
And then there is my publisher, Blue Denim Press. Shane there has been very helpful and promo pro-active. He is helping me with my virtual book launch next month (November 17 – more on that closer to the date). He is doing more as he (well Blue Denim Press) is launching my book. We have had one Zoom meeting to go over what has to be done and how it will work. And he then emailed me the list of what we each do.
Preparing for a virtual book launch is much more work than an in-person book launch. With the latter, the publisher set the date (checking with the author to make sure she is available then and not doing promo elsewhere, for example. If it is a dentist’s appointment, she can cancel that). Then you email your invitations, distribute and post copies of the book launch flyer from your publisher, prepare what you are going to read and anything else like a skit, and show up early for the launch. And once there, meet, greet, and read.
But a virtual book launch has the potential for many more guests from all over the world.
And here are some online book links for The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir
It’s PI Dana Bowman here and I’m so excited. The annual Word on the Street Book and Magazine Festival rolls into Toronto this coming weekend. And I’m going to be there at two booths. I am front stage and centre at the Toronto Sisters in Crime Booth and share space at the Crime Writers of Canada booth with authors Lorna Poplak and what’s her name who says she wrote Beyond Faith and I didn’t. We’ll see about that. This will be my opportunity to set some things straight to everybody who comes by the SINC booth. I can show them parts of Beyond Faith and ask them.
Who wrote the book?
Oh, what’s her name is here. I better scoot.
Hey you, Dana Bowman. Get your nosey nose (and the rest of you) back inside Beyond Faith. Oh, hello from the real author of the Beyond mystery books, including Beyond Faith. If you look a the book cover below you will see it doesn’t say “Dana Bowman” as the author, but me, ” Sharon A. Crawford”. Do I try to stick my nose into Dana’s life?
Don’t answer that. Of course, I do, as an author.
The latest Beyond mystery. (2017).
Now, down to business.
Word on the Street (WOTS) appears every year about this time somewhere in downtown Toronto, Canada. For the past few years it has been at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre by Lake Ontario. And that can give a real meaning to “jump in the lake”..WOTS covers pretty much the gamut of books and magazines; hence its title.And it doesn’t matter if you are publisher, author or reader (or some or all of those); it doesn’t matter if you read only print books or e-books; it doesn’t matter if you write prose or poetry or plays, there is something (or several somethings) for all. Yes, even a kids section. Children’s literature is big business these days, especially Young Adult books. So are romance and mysteries. Whatever you like to read is there. And a word of warning. The festival may be free to get into, but all those books and magazines. You’ll need to bring money and some canvas bags..
Take a gander over to the Toronto Word on the Street 2019 website and browse. You’ll be doing more than just browsing. With all that is going on ast WOTS, you will need to plan your visit down to the last second. But, this time there are events on the Saturday as well.
Dana got one thing right. Two appearances – but for me. She”ll be there inside the books and if I catch her trying to take my place, I’ll…I’ll
Well, maybe I’ll let her out if she sells some books.
Anyway, Dana Bowman (from wherever) and I look forward to meeting you and talking to you at WOTS on Sunday, September 22, 2019. The three Beyond mystery novels – Beyond the Tripping Point, Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith will also be available to browse and purchase.
Here’ my (er, our) appearance info.
Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter
11 a.m. to 12 noon
Crime Writers of Canada
Times and Date.
3.30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, September 22, 2019
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario
Please note the whole festival for the Sunday runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And let’s hope the weather and public transport co-operate. We don’t want any rain to fall on our “parade”, especially if we are waiting for a bus to get there.
I’m taking my Beyond books on one last in-person promo for this year and then taking a break until into the New Year. Will still be doing social media. It’s just that I don’t like going out and about much in winter weather. And there is a high risk of having to cancel ane event or going to it because of a blizzard, sub-zero temperatures or some other awful winter stuff. I am not a fan of winter – in fact if it would disappear permanently into a black hole I would be the first to cheer.
And I need the time to continue writing my new Beyond mystery novel, which despite all the house issues, sagas and other problems being shoved at me, I am actually back to working on that novel.
So, I’ll put some brief details of the last of the 2018 Beyond events. But first I want to mention some of the unique ways I get these promos.
I have to be thankful that many come to me from outside and I am grateful for them.
There is my Crime Beat Confidential Show that I host bi-monthly on thatchannel.com. The station’s show producer approached me – probably because i had made some appearances as a guest on their Liquid Lunch Show. I get a lot of fun, learning and meeting interesting people who guest on my show. My book character PI Dana Bowman appears at the beginning of each show. And in the one just taped this week, she does the second half of the show interviewing the guest – a private investigator. The show is not taped live and some editing is done, so when it’s up I’ll post the link. Meantime you can watch the other two on thatchannel. com under “Shows” or Google “Crime Beat Confidential and Youtube” and see it posted by the station on Youtube.
As a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and the Toronto Heliconian Club, I get a chance to take part in their author readings, book signings at bookstores, libraries, conventions, writers festivals, artistic shows and sales. They send out emails on this looking for us author members to participate and we have to get back. Now, for some there is a limit of how many participants, but I have been lucky to get in on those – even some out of town. And there it is other members participating in the same event who give me a lift there – sometimes we have a car load of authors heading ouit of town and it is so much fun.
Those are just some examples. My point, beside being grateful, is authors – whether self-published or published by a trade publisher, can benefit by joining an organization that has some literature and/or writer component to help promote their books. And it’s not all one-sided as by participating you sometimes get the chance to organize the event. And you meet interesting authors and readers. And sell some books. Don’t be all social media and no in-person promo. Sometimes readers like to see the real person and not just see what thay look like, but how they act, how theiy interact,,how they come across in their knowledge about writing, and in my case, just dressing up like my main character and letting her take over.
Beyond Book No. 2
And on that note, I’ll just list the last two events for 2018 and hope those in the Greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada can make one of these events.
GIFTS FROM THE MUSES-
Saturday, Nov. 24, 11 am to 4 pm.
Toronto Heliconian Club
35 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
All my Beyond books – Beyond the Tripping Point, Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith will be on display and for sale at the annual Club show and sale “Gifts from the Muses” which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 24. There will also be a wall of paintings and photographs, all selling for $100 or less. In addition, members from all sections will sell hand-made products such as unframed art works, cards, books, CDs, jewelry, jams, baked goods, etc. Along with the sale, members of the Music Section will entertain with short musical interludes each hour. This is one of the best multi-disciplinary events in the Club and is so much fun to attend! It is a great opportunity to purchase outstanding gifts for family and friends!
More info on The Toronto Heliconian Club, including a map for their location here
Also at The Heliconian Club
An Evening of Readings of Literature Section Members
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 6:30 PM – 9 PM
Sharon A. Crawford will read excerpts from her Beyond Mystery series novels: Beyond Blood and the latest, Beyond Faith. She is joined by two other Heliconian Club Literature group authors: Ann Elizabeth Carson and Isabel Berchem for this Evening of Readings. Hosted by Christine Arthurs. Refreshments and a cash bar.
Cost: Free for Heliconian Club members and $10. for all others.
Sharon beginning of SinC reading. E. Terri J. Dixon photo
I do love reading from Beyond Faith. It gives me a chance to show readers what my characters have to contend with (besides the main character, PI Dana Bowman). Last Thursday, I joined 10 other Sisters in Crime (well, one brother, author Ken Ogilvie) Toronto for their monthly gathering for an evening of reading from our newest books. And was it interesting – all that crime and so many variations, so many voices, so many stories, and so many photographs, thanks to SinC Treasurer, Terry Dixon.
Location! Location! It isn’t just for selling and buying real estate. We were in a library – all those books, albeit we were upstairs in one of the program rooms. To me it was especially good, as Beyond Faith is on order for three copies for the Toronto Public Library system. The other two, Beyond the Tripping Point and Beyond Blood are already in the Toronto Public Library (and in other libraries in other cities and towns, too).
And this time I kept Ms. Dana Bowman, Private Investigator, firmly between the book covers, although I did hold up an enlarged photo of her at the beginning and ask the audience if they had seen her and if so, to shove her back in the book.
We authors also had a table to sell our books and I sold a few Beyond Faith copies, including one just as I was setting them up on the side of the table before the readings. That might also be “location, location”. And we also received Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter mugs – red print (what else in colour for mystery authors?) on white. Now, that’s my coffee mug to start each day – gotta get into the mood for committing crime – between the book covers, of course.
Those who know me well know that I don’t have a partner and that for the most part I have to get through the crap in life on my own. To clarify, I do have a son and a few close friends who help where they can and for that I am grateful. But often I am facing a lot of problems that I have to deal with on my own. I divide those into constructive challenges and I try to get through those myself and consider them positives. It’s the destructive ones, often coming from left field that I resent having to deal with alone. I consider them negatives. I can’t just ask a non-exiefstent partner for help.
That is why the unexpected help spontaneously from strangers is so wonderful. I am so grateful when that happens I try to pass it along, i.e., help someone else, even if a stranger.
Last week I had a string of help from strangers – and all related to trying to maneuver one of those bloody push trailers/shopping carts.
I never liked them and preferred to cart groceries and books around in bags I carry on my shoulder.
However, last week I had to bring books to a bookseller at the Bouchercon Mystery Writing conference in downtown Toronto so decided to buy one of those trailers. I loaded it with copies of my three Beyond mystery series books. It was heavy. So when I phoned a close friend to invited her to my book launch Oct. 22, I was talking about this trailer and she offered to drive me part way to the location. She had to get her husband to put the trailer in her van. She dropped me off at a taxi stand. As it turned out, it would have been a nightmare going through public transit entrances and exits with the trailer. The cab driver was very friendly and helpful.
Books got delivered okay. But unfortunately not as many sold as I had hoped (and I had brought less than the bookseller had suggested). The day before I had to pick up the books I did the public transit route just to check it out, but as suspected too much for a short skinny woman with a heavy trailer of books.
And did I mention that this bloody trailer collapsed after I got it home empty after dumping the books off at the bookseller’s booth? It was still fine then, or so I thought, but two days later I was moving it around in the house and the top canvas part disconnected from the steel bar near the top. It its fastened by velcro – which would be fine if the side parts of it had been originally put in the steel bars going down when it was at the manufacturer’s. It had looked okay to me and after I closed the velcro part I did notice the bag wasn’t too sturdy from then, but what do I know? I’ve never used the damn things before and only got one because of no other choice to get the books to where I was going.
Sunday morning on the way down, pushing the empty trailer into the subway station, my discomfort must have been visible, because a young fellow offered to carry it down the three flights of stairs. When we got to the bottom, he noticed that the canvas bag was out of the steel side bars and said if he had a screwdriver he would fix it. He said the bag should be in the bars but the top part was screwed in.
To come home, after collecting the unsold books, a hotel employee, I think a bellhop, got the trailer out the door and got me a cab and put the trailer in the trunk. The cab driver was again a helpful and friendly fellow and lifted the offending bag out of the trunk. I did have to drag it up the veranda stairs and into the house.
After I removed the books, it clicked what the fellow at the subway station had been getting at. When I checked the photo of the trailer in the sheet that came with it ( a sheet with little info) I noticed the sides of the trailer were indeed over the sidebar.
Not on my trailer. It’s going back to Canadian Tire today and if they don’t give me my money back I’ll be raising unholy hell. I do not want to cart that trailer around with me today because I have to check out the last part of the trip to where I do a guest breakfast talk on Saturday. The walk after I get off the subway for that is short but tricky and confusing and I sure don’t want to have to figure it out early Saturday morning. You can bet I’m not using a trailer any more. New rule of thumb – I only bring what books I can carry in bags on my shoulders. And hope I have enough books for sales. It has happened once that I didn’t.
I may have to take a cab from the subway station on Saturday morning though if it I feel the route is bad after today’s venture, I’ll see if the organizer can get one of the writing group members to pick me up at the passenger pickup at the subway station.
I am spending too much on cabs here. I never take cabs unless from the train station after a visit with cousins in southwestern Ontario. I live at the poverty level so cabs aren’t really in my budget.
Cheers (I think),
Sharon A. Crawford
Author of the Beyond mystery series. Book Launch for Beyond Faith is Sunday, October 22. See details on flyer below.