Marketing Outside the Box
This is my last post before TKZ takes its annual holiday hiatus, and I’d like to wish everyone a happy whatever you celebrate. If things have gone according to plan, I’m in Prague on my way to Vienna to embark on a Danube river cruise. I’m not likely to be around to respond to comments immediately, but I’ll do my best to check in.
In a happenstance of diversity, we’ll be observing Hanukkah on board while stopping at numerous Christmas markets. Another event we’re planning to participate in while in Prague is Krampusnacht, which celebrates the Norse God of the underworld, although it’s become associated with Christmas. Works for me. Of course, I’ll have trip recaps and pictures when I’m back. And, I hope, notes for a new book.
Speaking of new books, Deadly Adversaries is moving along the pipeline, and it’s time to think more seriously about the (to me) dreaded marketing. As long as I’m here, I’d like to point out that Deadly Adversaries is now available for preorder.)
Even if you’re traditionally published, you’re expected to bear some of the load. Inundating the interwebs with “buy my book” proclamations isn’t my thing. Remember, too, that social media platforms should emphasize “Social.”
Say “Marketing” and people assume you’re talking about running ads. That can be part of it, and depending on the platform, can be very effective, but there are other low-to-no-cost options to build buzz for the book.
What have I been doing?
Instead of making everything “buy, buy, buy”, I like to give readers something in return. I’ve been writing vignettes, scenes, and short stories that are companions to the books. These take two forms. For some, I interact on a personal level with my characters, giving readers a chance to peek behind the curtain. Here’s an example showing when Randy Detweiler, of my Pine Hills Police romantic suspense series showed up at my office.
When Randy Interrupted
“Come in, Randy,” I say. We’ve been working together on Finding Sarah for a couple of months now, but I still can’t get used to how tall he is. I’ve written him as six-six, but I have a hunch he’s even taller. But he’s comfortable with his height, walks with an easy grace across my office and settles himself on the couch.
I remember his awkwardness at our initial interview. Like he was afraid it was a stereotypical casting couch, and he might have to ‘buy’ his way into the job, or I was going to make sure he could handle the sex scenes.
“What can I do for you?” I ask.
His lips curve up in a shy smile, and he shoves a lock of hair off his forehead. “I…um…I had a suggestion. For my character.”
I give him my full attention now. He’s never demanded—heck, he’s never even suggested anything. Maybe he’s nervous. We’re about to get into his first real sex scene with Sarah. It’s not like he’s naïve or anything, but I know how characters can get self-conscious when they’re actually asked to perform on cue. At least he’s not one of the cocky ones, no pun intended, who thinks he can take over the scene.
“Well, I was looking at the pages. You know how, afterward, we’re sitting around eating pizza. I’m watching a basketball game, and Sarah’s trying not to be bored. I thought maybe you’d let me play piano for her.”
My jaw drops. I search my memory for his initial interview. “Piano? You play the piano?”
He ducks his head and nods. “Yeah. I haven’t played in a while—long story, old memories. But after working with Sarah on this book thing, well, she’s made me a lot more comfortable with my past, and I’d like to get back into it. I thought it might work for the story.”
“You can really play the piano?” I ask, sounding too much like a babbling idiot than a writer in control of the manuscript.
“Would you like to hear?” he asks.
“No, that won’t be necessary. I believe you. What’s your preference?”
He shrugs. “Doesn’t matter. I play it all. Classical, rock, jazz. I worked my way through college playing in lounges.”
Okay, so now I’m scribbling notes. “You can do Simon and Garfunkel?”
He grins. “Piece of cake.”
“What about something melancholy? One of those things that make the world stop?”
“I can handle that. Beethoven’s Pathetique should work.”
I stand and walk around the desk. He remains seated, not because he’s rude, but because he knows our eyes will be level. I shake his hand. “Take a couple of hours off while I rewrite. See you at three.”
“Will do. I’ll go home and practice.” He stands, towering above me. I study his hands and understand why I described them the way I did on page 26.
I watch him leave, wondering if he’ll like the scene coalescing in my head. It’ll mean a bit of a rewrite. Will he be able to handle an on-scene emotional breakdown, or will I have to write it in Sarah’s POV? I turn back to my computer and open a new document. I hear him whistling Bridge Over Troubled Water as he walks away.
Others works provide back story that doesn’t really have a place in the books themselves. This is my newest one, When Titch Met Gordon, featuring a secondary character who showed up in book 2 fully formed. I thought readers might like to get a closer look at his history. It’s a little too long to include here, but if you’re interested, you can downnload When Titch Met Gordon here. Consider it my holiday gift to you.
What do I do with them?
The images go into my newsletter and onto my blog and Facebook pages.
Randy’s story was offered to my newsletter subscribers as a simple ‘thanks for being here.’
When Titch Met Gordon is going to be a reader magnet, a gift to new subscribers.
How do I get it to them?
BookFunnel is an easy way to distribute works. I have Draft2Digital do the formatting, then upload them to BookFunnel. D2D doesn’t require you put works on sale, so it’s an easy way to use them as gifts or magnets. You also have a choice of collecting emails or not, or having them sign up for your newsletter. For this one, I’ve gone the ‘no string’ route for now. If it’s a reader magnet, they people will have to sign up for the newsletter to get the story, so there’s no point in making them sign up again. BookFunnel will let you make separate landing pages, so you could have one that requires a newsletter signup as well.
What about you? What marketing techniques beyond taking out ads have your found effective?
How can he solve crimes if he’s not allowed to investigate?
Gordon Hepler, Mapleton’s Chief of Police, has his hands full. A murder, followed by several assaults. Are they related to the expansion of the community center? Or could it be the upcoming election? Gordon and mayor wannabe Nelson Manning have never seen eye to eye. Gordon’s frustrations build as the crimes cover numerous jurisdictions, effectively tying his hands.
Available for preorder now.
Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.”