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More tales from the book marketing trenches

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I continue with marketing my mystery novel Beyond Blood into bricks and mortar bookstores. And I keep in mind the possibility of book returns and loss in royalties. So I’m not exactly bombarding bookstores. However, I am plugging along to visit the bookstores on my list. At least I’m organized – after a fashion.

Yesterday I popped into another Indigo Bookstore, this one mid-town going north in Toronto. As usual I prepared in my head what I planned to say.

It didn’t go exactly that way. But it doesn’t help if you (read me) have some health issues acting up when you are talking to the bookstore manager. Mine is an on-again off-again (mostly on it seems) sinusitis infection that sometimes goes down lower to glands. It makes me tired sometimes – I also don’t get enough sleep some evenings because late at night I suddenly decide I have a lot of house-related stuff I just have to do and get to bed late. Obviously it is important to be organized in your personal life as well.

So what did happen? First the manager thought I was trying to get the book in on consignment and said no openings for that until next April. I had managed to remember to introduce myself, my publisher and that the book is not self-published. I also mentioned what other branches in the chain it was in and BB wasn’t on consignments there and they just ordered from the distributer. Still not exactly clear because yours truly forgot one important point. Beyond Blood is for sale on line at this bookstore chain. Magic words. He was interested. I also said I do book signings, but he said that branch doesn’t do that anymore because they don’t get the people like they used to. Different demographic now. We talked about a couple of other branches, but I did agree with him. So he took my business card (with the info – including photos of the book covers and one of me – thanks to my son’s design, and web links to more). I got his contact info.

So, we shall see.

Meantime I keep watch on the other bookstores handling Beyond Blood and also book more library gigs where I can read and present and sell books directly. It is also a good way to connect with readers. I have a new one September 3 on my own at Brentwood Library branch in Toronto. Will get that one in the Gigs and Blog Tours page on this blog shortly and also my website www.samcraw.com. Also organizing one with other Crime Writers of Canada in another library branch for late next March. And there will be another bookstore CWC one outside Toronto in late November.

You have to keep plugging and don’t give up.

But get lots of sleep and scrap those late-night house chores.

 

Meantime, if you are in the Toronto area, check out the big Indigo Bookstore in the Manu-life Centre. As of yesterday there was still a copy there. Or go to their online ordering. Print copies and e-copies – Kobo – available (among other places) at https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/?keywords=Beyond%20blood%20and%20Sharon%20A.%20Crawford And if you want e-copies in either Kindle or Kobo go to my publisher, Blue Denim Press, at http://bluedenim.skemantix.com/books/beyond-blood/

 

Happy reading.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Accidental Book Marketing

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Last weekend one of my stops at the annual Toronto Doors Open was the MZTV Museum of Television & Archive in the Zoomer radio complex.

So what does all this have to do with book marketing? Especially as it wasn’t even in the actual radio studio.

It was the accidental run-ins with someone I know and someone I don’t (but quickly did). I looked up from the exhibit and saw a familiar face from my gardening club. We looked at each other and started talking. She asked how I was and what I was doing. And so I said I write mystery books and have two in the Beyond series out now. I might have mentioned then about doing readings with other Crime Writers of Canada authors or maybe that came later.

Immediately she launched into a possible speaking engagement for me – not with the gardening club, although one story in Beyond the Tripping Point is set in a garden centre. My gardening friend also sometimes goes to a local Toronto Heritage Club, which meets once a week and is looking for speakers. It may be a bit of a stretch for mystery writing with novels set just north of Toronto (I did tell her where they were set) but there are possibilities for heritage to connect with mystery and maybe even my Beyond series. One is the location (which is fictitious but based on what’s there – I used to live there), so might be able to do a comparison fiction and reality heritage of the area. There is also the topic of the history of mystery fiction set in Toronto and written by Toronto authors, which could lead into my Beyond books. At her request, I gave her my business card which has photos of the two Beyond books on one side with the publisher’s name, and the flip side my headshot, contact info and my mission statement for all my writing and editing – “We make words sparkle.”

And with speaking engagements comes the possibility of selling books.

The other one was a chance encounter outside the Zoomer Complex with a lady who asked me if I knew who was in the photo in the window. Although I could name only two people, we started talking. She seemed fascinated and very respectful to be talking to a writer – something we writers often forget as we take our writing as second nature. We talked about mystery writing, my books, the radio personalities and shows on 96.3 classical radio and the tour we had both been on inside there. We continued our conversation on the bus. She is interested in buying my book at a bookstore and possibly going to one of the library readings I’m doing with CWC in June and July. I gave her my business card and we said the usual “nice to meet you” when I had to get off the bus at the subway station.

So, sometimes by keeping your mind open and attuned to marketing your books, but not pushing it, opportunities can pop up in unusual and unexpected places.

And for some excellent author etiquette for book promotion, read my friend and colleague Rosemary McCracken’s post on her blog Moving Target

https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/etiquette-on-the-book-front/.

Meantime, I’m preparing for those future readings and presentations. Check my website www.samcraw.com under Beyond Blood for my upcoming gigs.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

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Tales from the book promo trenches Part 2

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

The book promo for Beyond Blood continues. This time the promo took on somewhat different formats.

 

Wednesday, November 26 I was the guest speaker at the East End Writers’ Group. Disclaimer: it is my own group but because we meet in a library branch (S. Walter Stewart in Toronto) in their large auditorium, we can schedule guest speakers for the first part and after the break do our usual writing critique of members’ works-in-progress.

I talked about how I transition from short stories to novels and vice-versa with series characters. As my situation of writing/publishing is backwards in time, i.e. not chronological, that makes it more complicated. Beyond the Tripping Point, the short story collection was published in fall 2012 but the four linked stories with the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, occur in 1999. Beyond Blood is the pre-quel novel set in eight frantic days in August 1998.

My dirty little secret is an older version of Beyond Blood had been written 12 or so years ago. Of course, it had to be completely rewritten. But some of the plotline and character development was already there – something I had to keep in mind when writing the BTTP short stories. It was a constant back and forth as was this presentation last week because I also had q and a with the audience. We even worked humour into the discussion. I ended by doing a short reading from Beyond Blood.

No, didn’t sell any books there – at least in print. But maybe a few people bought e-books on line. Also, when I thought of it, some of the people there had come to my book launch and had already bought a book. Still a good evening.

Saturday, November 29 my books were part of the Toronto Heliconian Literary Group table at the Toronto Heliconian Club’s first (in this incarnation) art and gift sale. In fact, I organized our table. Like sometimes happens with the first of anything, attendance wasn’t great. But I did sell three copies of Beyond Blood and had some good chats with the other member authors. Afterwards, three of us went to the nearby Hemmingway’s Pub for some wine, an early supper and more chatting.

And I bought a mask from one of the artist vendors at the club sale. I collect masks.

But I am now wiped out from all this physical book promo, organization and also client work. I will be taking some time off soon this month to reconnect with family and friends, to attend some Christmas parties and to do some more writing/rewriting of the next novel in the Beyond series. And I will focus more on social media promo for Beyond Blood. And getting more sleep.

But this blog will continue on its weekly (Thursday) basis. However, for the next two weeks I’m letting my two PI characters – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture – do the posting.

Meantime, you can go to my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com to order e-pub and Kindle copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Also check out my interview with Tom Taylor on cable TV. I talk about writing novels, short stories and some of the characters in Beyond the Tripping Point. Go to http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ and scroll down on the right until you get to  Watch Sharon A. Crawford and Beyond the Tripping Point on Rogers Cable TV

And I will be going to the book launch of World Enough and Crime Anthology featuring stories by Rosemary McCracken, Rosemary Aubert, Melodie Campbell, Donna Carrick and many more this Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 3.15 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker St., 907 Millwood Avenue in Toronto. Check out Sleuth at http://sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/ Beyond Blood is also available there to order online.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

 

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Why do writers write?

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

 

  • Tennessee Williams

 

I was hit with this question and connected it to my crime fiction Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

The trigger was listening to best-selling author Linden MacIntyre being interviewed this morning by Mike Duncan on Classic 93.6 FM radio station. MacIntyre was talking about his new novel Punishment and its theme of vengeance versus justice. And he is also a former journalist, albeit a high profile broadcast journalist lately host of CBC’s investigative TV show The Fifth Estate. (More information on MacIntyre in this Toronto Star story http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2014/11/21/linden_macintyre_on_community_vengeance_and_punishment.html

 

What is it about journalists turning to writing fiction, often crime fiction?

I’m beginning to think it is our sense of justice, justice not really being meted out today to those who commit crimes, especially heinous crimes. And as journalists we certainly see our share of that in the true stories we write, as well as in what we read in the newspapers and magazines, whether in print or online. (For the record – now that is a journalistic phrase – I read both print and online.)

With me, this sense of justice is something I have carried from my childhood. Blame it on my Catholic background. As an ex-Catholic I can no longer stand by some of those beliefs. Although I have to admit that my sense of justice comes more from the “eye for an eye” of the Old Testament.

That may be where the vengeance factor fits in.

In all my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, no one who commits a crime gets away with it. Not all the baddies get arrested but they get their just desserts. For example, in “Unfinished Business” a woman who was sexually assaulted as a child gets her chance to get back at the guilty party when he becomes a threat to her 12-year-old daughter.

Then there are the four-linked stories featuring the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture. Here all the baddies do get arrested. Dana and Bast both have a great sense of justice. Bast was a former crime reporter so he’s seen a lot of bad things and talked to a lot of bad people. As a journalist he had to try to sit on the observation side. As a PI, especially in my new novel Beyond Blood, he can do more.

But it is Dana who drives this search for justice. Especially after her son David is kidnapped. Then it becomes more personal. Nothing like motherly love to motivate someone.

Maybe that has something to do with my sense of justice – at least adds fuel to the fire. My son is in his mid-thirties now and was never kidnapped but there have been instances over the years where I went to bat for him, even if just the normal growing-up incidents that happen.

Of course, there are other reasons why I write and why crime fiction. I’ll cover them in future blog posts.

For now, I would like to know

Why do you write?

Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

This Saturday, Nov. 29, 11 a.m. to  4 p.m. I will be selling copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point at the Toronto Heliconian Club Fine Arts and Gift Sale, 35 Hazelton Ave. (Yorkville area), Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more info about the Toronto Heliconian Club and this sale (open to the public), see http://heliconianclub.org/ Scroll down a bit – it is there.

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 my gigs on that site.

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to publisher’s website

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection. Click on it for link to publisher’s website

 

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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 of Beyond Blood has two guest authors reading

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

Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don’t have any.

  • Jane Russell.

This just in.

Nate Hendley who writes true crime books and Rosemary McCracken who writes mystery novels are guest readers at my book launch October 19.

They will certainly add variety to the two of us from Blue Denim launching our books. Lots of murder and mayhem (in the books, not in the Paintbox Bistro, Toronto launch location). Let’s see:

Nate Hendley has written several books about the baddies such as the The Black Donnellys: The Outrageous Tale of Canada’s Deadliest Feud, American Gangsters: Then and Now, The Mafia: A Guide to an American Subculture and Crystal Death. His current book focuses on something different – a miscarriage of justice – Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice (Five Rivers Publishing, 2012). Nate is also a Toronto, Ontario-based freelance journalist and the Ontario VP for Crime Writers of Canada. I have been helping him line up public readings for CWC authors in Ontario. Find out more about Nate and his books at http://www.natehendley.com/ And check out his crime blog at http://crimestory.wordpress.com/

Rosemary McCracken, another Crime Writers of Canada member writes a mystery series about financial planner Pat Tierney and if you think that sounds dull, think again. Pat seems to get herself embroiled in financial mayhem and murder, and usually some family member is involved somehow. So far the series books are: Safe Harbor (Imagin Books, 2012), and Black Water (Imagin Books, 2013). Pat Tierney also appeared in Rosemary’s short story “The Sweetheart Scamster” in the short story anthology Mesdames of Mayhem Thirteen (2013). Check out Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/Home_Page.php for more book information and her Moving Target blog at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/Home_Page.php. Rosemary and I did blog tours and my blog post there is at http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/interview-with-author-sharon-a-crawford/

Nate, Rosemary and I have also made several appearances together and done readings with these CWC presentations. The three of us may be touring together later this year or early next year for more readings. Stay tuned.

And of course, the two of us with books being published by Blue Denim Press

Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski – a medical murder mystery. And yes, Klaus is a medical doctor with a family practice in Sudbury, Ontario, but his book takes place in Boston, Massachusetts and Toronto, Ontario. His book is available in e-copy at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Wrong-Klaus-Jakelski-ebook/dp/B00N32O9Z4

And my book, Beyond Blood, with the infamous fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, a mystery taking place during eight days in August 1998 in fictitious Thurston, Ontario, just north of Toronto.

Meantime, yours truly is still frantically doing pre-book launch promo. Not going as fast as I had hoped. It doesn’t help that both my email/website server went down for a day during maintenance and yesterday my modem-router went off the ISP grid for a bit but only on the hard-wired connection on my desktop computer. The wireless was fine and my laptop was connected. Glitches fixed thanks to good techies at the other end(s). But it steals from your time.

I’m blaming that on why I haven’t updated my website page for Beyond Blood. Some of the updates are off-line but when I had the time to load it – that’s when the website server was off. More info will be up on my website www.samcraw on the Beyond Blood page in the next few days.

Check out the details on my book and my colleague Klaus Jakelski’s book at www.bluedenimpress.com.

The book at the top of this blog post links to amazon.com and for those of us with Kobo’s, here is that link for the e-pub version. http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-blood-1 And when I (finally) get my amazon profile and web page updated I’ll give you the links to them.

Print versions of Beyond Blood and Dead Wrong are coming out soon.

Watch for Dana and Bast. They will be returning here in these blog posts soon. And I promise, Bast will not go missing this time, but somebody else might.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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