Thursday, August 26, 2010


In Search of a Brand

Boy, has the publishing world ever changed in the last couple of decades! When I first started writing, the publisher did all the publicity, you just showed up for the signings. (This was in my pre-published days, of course.) Now, unless you're Peter Robinson or Gail Bowen or another of our better known Canadian mystery writers, you're on your own.

And so, the business of writing has become the business of writing, branding, promoting and selling one's own books. Look at the successful authors you know -- you may be one of them -- and try to figure out just how much time they spend writing their latest book. That happens in between signings, connecting with your mailing list, talks to book clubs and at libraries, and attending conferences and any event under the sun where a mystery author fits in. Not enough hours in the day, I say.

Way back when, sending out bookmarks or postcards to bookstores was a big marketing venture. Now days, in order to successfully brand oneself, you need a website, Facebook presence along with Twitter, a blog would be nice, and of course, bookmarks and/or postcards. It's not over yet, though. Along with all these things having a presence on the internet under your name, you also should be commenting like crazy on friends' blogs, Facebook postings, and Twitter. And don't forget to follow through on those requests to be a guest blogger. Which means you must also check on the comments it garnishes & comment on those.

Still have some time or better yet, energy? Then track down your local bookstores, go in and say hi. Offer to sign any copies of your book that are on their shelves, suggest doing a signing, maybe even a launch. That's when you're not attending a mystery conference or a Scene of the Crime.

You've gotta love it!

This has exhausted me so I'm asking, what have I missed?


  1. Creating a 'presence' is a difficult and never ending process without tangible ways to measure the success of what you do however there isn't any alternative. It would be good to know what measurable results other writers have had from blogging, guesting and commenting.

  2. Great blog, Linda! I think that all these things are important, but most of us have some we're better at than others. Making sure your books are reviewed is also important. We should be prepared to get review copies out there (from the publisher or personal author copies) Reviews sell books. Librarians and libraries are also key ways to get the message out. The days just fly by!


    Closet Confidential: a Charlotte Adams mystery

  3. Its a real balancing act all right. Not only time, but money. How much money are you going to spend to do all this travel and printing of book marks and buying books to give out? People are now spending thousands of dollars on Facebook ads? How many people have ever bought a book because they saw an ad on Facebook?

  4. Very good points, both of you.'s all going on my list. I've heard of writers using their entire advances for promotion. do you make money in this game?

  5. good summary of how most writers have become their own marketing managers, as publishers don't deign dollars unless you're a King or a Grisham, where quality of writing often takes backstage to readers just automatically buying what's new from an old name.

    i doubt bookmarks, postcards, or many of the old freebies have much value, conferences i've been at the past few years haven't anything like the author giveaway tables i saw 10 years ago

    what's more troubling are the increasing number of new writers who can't get an agent to do a read of a manuscript draft, so the book is self-published with a nice cover and bound, then sent around to attract agent attention

  6. Tell me more, David. Do agents read these self-pubbed books more readily than MS? I'd think it would be less. My own publisher Poisoned Pen does not accept submissions from self-published authors, even for later books.

  7. first off, it's just "agents" not publishers, who hardly want anything any more that doesn't come thru an agent - i know that Barbara Peters only looks at manuscripts that PP themselves publish, mainly thru accepting something already in e-pub or POD

    it's in the packaging of what's being presented, and it seems to be a fairly recent trend down here and i wouldn't want to emphasize it too much - but i've heard stories about this from friends in the business here (and that includes people who've been senior VPS and even in charge of presses) as well as agents, that some agents prefer a packaging delivery that includes query letter etc by email which references a followup of delivery of an e-pubbed book

    i do know of a few e-pubbled books that have been picked up by established publishers, but it's done thru and agent and rarely "over the transom" as in the old days - i've seen the stacks and stacks, the slush piles, at my own agents, it's a zoo down here and probably the same in Canada

  8. should have said early on ""themselves publish, rather than accepting..."

  9. ay yi, comment got interrupted by cat bawling to come inside - Barbara Peters would surely know more about this than i do, i can only speak for what some NYC people tell me and what i read on a few blogs