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Tales from the book promo trenches

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. – Ann Rice

If anyone thinks you can make money from your published books without a lot of work, get your head out of the sand. It IS a lot of work. It can be fun too but also harrowing. In the last week here’s what’s been going on with my Beyond series books.

Weekend of November 14 to 16 – Inspire Book Fair Toronto Metro Convention Centre

Friday, 6 p.m. My one-hour to sell book copies at the Sisters in Crime Toronto booth. The book fair was a dead zone although groups of school kids were in earlier running around the room. But at 6 p.m there were more exhibitors than people attending the book fair. Still I managed to sell one copy of Beyond Blood to a big mystery reader

Saturday, people buying tickets, going up on the escalator and wandering around in the convention room. Yay!

4.40 p.m. Read from and talked about Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point on a smaller stage. I used my loud outside voice and the editor at my publishers (Blue Denim Press) said he could hear me from their booth. Afterwards I returned to their booth, sold and signed one book.

Before that I wandered around talking to people – mostly those I knew, but some I hadn’t seen for years. Yes, some of them bought copies of my books at the Blue Denim Press booth, but it was also a chance to talk about writing and doing PR

Sunday, I returned to Inspire with my friend Kathy. We hung around my publisher’s booth for a bit and sat in the audience when another Blue Denim Press author read. Kathy bought a copy of Beyond Blood and one of the other author’s books.

All in all it was a good experience but could have been better for book buying, especially as it is Christmas shopping time and my publisher, at least, had the books on sale. I can’t believe everyone is just buying e-copies (My books are available in the usual e-pub and Kindle versions from the usual places as well as from my publisher. Click on the Beyond Blood book at the bottom for the link.) My publisher said Inspire was more of a networking experience and yes, they connected with a lot of potential organizations for book distribution and other book promo.

Wednesday, November 20, part of Crime Writers of Canada’s Murder and Mayhem reading series – at the Beaches library branch in Toronto. And we had a full house, a captivated audience who asked a lot of questions of the four of us reading and talking about our books. The whole time was creative magic and connections between authors and readers.

The downside? The bloody weather – Toronto’s first somewhat big snowstorm – more blowing around and of course the timing of the storm couldn’t be worse. It took me over an hour and a half to get to the library from my place – a trip that should take only 30 to 40 minutes maximum. The first bus arrived on time but it was a slow journey to the subway station. But I could have still arrived at the library on time. Except the other bus wasn’t showing up. Some of us waited over half an hour. I finally phoned the library and told the librarian about the situation and that if a bus came I would try to get there for 7 p.m. (6.30 p.m. was starting time). The first bus got too packed and I couldn’t get on. The second one came maybe 10 minutes later and didn’t take long to go its route and get me to my destination. Then came the 10-minute walk to the library. But I made it and after my co-host Nate introduced me, I told everyone “I got derailed by the weather.” (Only a railway brat like me would use that term).

Despite the good session, no books of mine sold. I think one author sold one book.

So, you see it is all uphill. Yes I do the social media bit. No, I won’t give up. I love meeting my readers and talking about my books, reading from them, and giving writing advice.

I’m also very stubborn and persistent.

Just ask those who know me.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

 

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

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Sharon A. Crawford appears at Inspire Book Fair

Sharon_A_Crawford_Book_LaunchReading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.

  • Joyce Carol Oates

The first Inspire: the Toronto International Book Fair gets underway this evening. And I’m going to be doing double duty in appearances there – signing and selling books and reading from Beyond Blood. More on that shortly. But first a personal perspective about how an author prepares for these events.

My books – Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point are key and I don’t just mean to sell. That’s important too but so is engaging with my readers. Just sitting there with a bunch of books does not connect me with my readers. I need to talk to them. And I don’t just do a book promo speech. I ask them if they write and what they write. Do they read mystery fiction? Conversation is a two-way street.

When I actually do read I don’t just stand there and drone on from my book(s). First I give a little background about my story and the main characters. Then I read. I’m told my reading is like audio, like I’m right in my story. True. I channel each character who speaks, particularly six-year-old David Bowman, Dana Bowman’s son. I love talking like a child. Not sure what that says about me.

I also get right into the actions going on. Haven’t stabbed or shot anyone yet. (FYI the only gun I have is a small water gun and carrying around knives would be considered carrying a concealed weapon). But I’ll shake my manuscript when Dana is shaking her sketch pad at her brother Bast.

Yes, I said manuscript. Because here’s my deep dark secret. I have terrible eyesight (the bane of getting old), and although the font is large enough in my books, sometimes the lights are not bright enough. So I have a few pages of pumped-up font printed out and read from that.

You really wouldn’t want me to use a magnifying glass, would you? Although I do carry one of those around and it would be appropriate for crime fiction.

Back to the books – the big question is: how many do I bring? Which gets translated into: how many can I carry? I travel on public transit and many Toronto subway stations don’t have elevators or down escalators. If I get a ride it helps – if there is a parking lot nearby.

You also sometimes need to create an attractive display in a small space, i.e. prop up one copy of each book, have some bookmarks and other info, but not too much. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers.

So, while I prepare for this weekend at Inspire, the Toronto International Book Fair at Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Building, 255 Front Street West, http://www.torontobookfair.ca/

here are the details about my appearances:

Friday, November 14, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Selling and signing copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point at the Toronto Sisters in Crime Booth No. 1120 in the Marketplace Section.

Saturday, November 15, 4 p.m.

Reading from Beyond Blood at my publisher Blue Denim Press’s booth No. 1326 in the Marketplace. Afterward I’ll be there to talk to my readers and sign books.

Note: my publishers will be at that booth for the duration of the book fair.

Please join me there and engage in the conversation about your writing and/or reading.

And of course Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

And pass this info on – tweet about it, link to your blog, Facebook, etc.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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Book Launch Beyond Blood Musings

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

This country’s crazy in terms of fame and what people think it means. They expect a writer to be something between a Hollywood starlet and the village idiot.

  • Kent Haruf

Beyond Blood and Dead Wrong received a big send-off last Sunday October 19 at our mutual book launch at Paintbox Bistro in Toronto, Canada. It was a lot of work – for my publisher Blue Denim Press to set it all up and for my author colleague Klaus Jakelski and I to invite (and persuade) people to show up. The two guest authors reading – Rosemary McCracken (author of the Pat Tierney mysteries http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/ and Nate Hendley (true crime author who writes about the baddies and Stephen Truscott http://www.natehendley.com/books.html also were a draw. See the Blue Denim Press website www.bluedenimpress.com for photos.

But there are stories behind a book launch – the before, during and after and maybe some lessons to be learned, especially as this was my second book launch.

Not everyone invited will come. I emailed out around 200 invitations but didn’t expect that many to attend – they would have been out on the street if they had. One thing that bugged me at my first launch two years ago and again this go-round is people not letting you know if they can attend or not, but more so if they say they are coming and then don’t show up – unless they have emailed at the last minute that they can’t because of whatever. The last is acceptable. Things happen.

The upside is people invited showing up unexpectedly.

This time round none of my cousins could make it, but my son, Martin and his girlfriend, Juni (bless them) did. I was thrilled when they walked in and Martin handed me a big bouquet of flowers. I was determined to keep it close and when I left it at the restaurant where we ate after the launch, I got off the bus (one stop after boarding) and raced back to the restaurant to collect it. If I hadn’t have done that I would be so upset. How did I miss grabbing it? I guess my mind and hands couldn’t take in more than a big shoulder bag, purse and doggie bag of leftover dinner. I also had stood the bouquet up on the wall behind where I sat to keep it safe. Safe from whom? Me?

I had also tried to get plenty of sleep the nights before so I could avoid being in a daze like the previous book launch. The enough sleep part didn’t work out but no daze. My wits were in place and I made a point of moving around, jumping up from where I was sitting to talk to everyone who came to the launch.

The readings went well, although I stumbled up the stairs and Sarah the publisher had to grab me. Note: I was not drunk. Hadn’t had anything stronger than water to drink. But my very short intro to Beyond Blood and the short excerpt I read went very well. One of my writing colleagues says I read like audio. True, I channel my characters as I read and got the chance to do that at the end of the launch presentations when Klaus and I did a short humorous skit where my main character PI Dana Bowman interviews his main character Dr. Peter Martins. Klaus was lucky as he could appear in his dress suit. I had to alter my appearance. I have long brown-grey hair and wear glasses. Dana has short black hair and doesn’t wear glasses. At least we are both short in height.

I pulled my hair into a ponytail and shoved it under a cap. The glasses went and I buttoned up my sweater and made it look like a sweat shirt – one of Dana’s wardrobe items. I kept my black slacks and black shoes but carried that big shoulder bag mentioned earlier and a sketch pad. Dana sketches while interviewing people. I can’t draw to save my life.

But I could see without the glasses and didn’t trip going up or down the stage stairs this time.

Afterwards the spontaneous dinner arrangements got a little hectic. Paintbox Bistro was closing for the day, so we decided on a Thai restaurant nearby. Shane and Sarah from Blue Denim Press were packing up everything and going to drive to meet us there. Another couple of friends, Sheila and Rod drove. My friend Bob, Martin, Juni and I walked there.

The restaurant was closed on Sundays. We made another choice. But couldn’t text Shane or Sarah to let them know because I didn’t bring their cell phone numbers with me. So the frantic activity began with Martin rushing back to Paintbox and texting Juni back that it was closed and no one was there. Meantime Sheila and Rob had arrived. So when Martin returned we devised a plan. Sheila and Rob would drive to the other restaurant; Bob wanted to walk, and Martin, Juni and I would wait outside the closed restaurant for Shane and Sarah. We waited and waited. Then Juni and I walked to the new restaurant and Martin waited.

Bob, Sheila and Rob were seated in the restaurant when we arrived. A couple of minutes later the other three walked in.

Really, my organization skills are better than this. They have to be because the book launch is only a part of promoting your book.

And more on that in future posts. Meantime click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Some thoughts on marketing your published book

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.
– A.A. Milne

The book cover for my new mystery novel Beyond Blood is about ready for print. Shane the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) and I have been to-ing and fro-ing by email to proofread the cover, mainly the back page info. I think we got the last comma squared away. Whew!

And the cover is awesome and reflects the book’s title and content. When Shane emails me the actual cover in a smaller size, I will post it on this blog.

Meantime I continue on the pre-book launch PR. I also have to consider the other mystery novelist (first novel for both of us) being published by Blue Denim Press – Klaus Jakelski, a medical doctor and author of the medical mystery Dead Wrong. Ironically, Klaus is one of my editing clients although except for providing Blue Denim Press’s contact info, I had nothing to do with his book getting accepted by them. But Klaus and I will be doing some of the PR together.

There are many, many ways an author can publicize his or her book. My publisher is doing some PR (Shane sent me a list, including what we authors can do). However, I have learned much from my PR efforts with my debut mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point.

1. You need a marketing plan as I found out when trying to book a gig reading Beyond the Tripping Point (before it came out) at a bookstore in Waterloo, Ontario. The store manager wanted to see my marketing plan first.
2. You need to organize your marketing plan to suit you. I tried doing it by category (i.e. book launch, writing organizations, etc.) first in a Word Table and then a colleague set it up in Excel. Too confusing. For yet another possible marketing venture, I had to list my Marketing plan by the month. That one works best for me. Under each month I list what I will do by – you guessed it – category. The list meshes social media, email and in-person. And it is always in flux and open to additions – some of which my publisher emails me.

What else have I learned from the PR I did for BTTP?
1. A combination of social media, email and in-person appearances/readings,workshops and lots of book reviews is the way to go. Despite this digital age, author appearances reading should not be excluded. People still like to connect in person with authors.
2. E-mail PR can still work and can be segued into social media and result in book sales.
4. Videos of author reading (short) and interviews (shortish) are also draws if posted on You Tube and all your other social media.
5. Blogging, including blog tours, with connections to amazon.com, etc. and other social media works.
6. A book page on the now old-fashioned website. I have one for Beyond the Tripping Point and have started one for Beyond Blood at http://www.samcraw.com. You can list your author gigs, including blog tours and other relevant info. Just keep it short and use links where possible.

 

What new strategies I need to use with Beyond Blood:

Among others – book trailer, using my social media much more, getting more book reviews, visiting more bricks and mortar bookstores for readings (with or without other Crime Writers of Canada authors) and getting more TV interviews and maybe a radio one, and the DVD copies of the interviews to put up on You Tube, etc. (with my son, Martin, the computer expert’s help), and using a tagline for all of this (for Beyond Blood and Klaus’s Dead Wrong it is Blue Murder, a play on words for the publisher’s name. Shane from Blue Denim Press came up with that one.

It’s almost a full-time job, but as I posted a few weeks ago in https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2014/07/10/juggling-time-to-publicize-first-novel-and-write-second-novel/

I do other writing, teaching and editing. It boils down to being organized and picking my battles for all the other stuff in my life that goes wrong. Like the bank (i.e. one of their tellers) paying my property tax money into the city utility (water and waste) account by mistake, so I get a big fine for “non-payment” of property taxes. The bank manager is supposed to be fixing that and seemed very interested if I knew which teller was responsible, so I hope they nail her. She should be paying my fine.

And if any of my readers use other PR strategies for their published books (whether Indie or traditional publisher), please comment.

Meantime, back to the PR for Beyond Blood.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.

 

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