In May, Five Star will publish For the Love of Parvati, the third book in the Anita Ray series, featuring Indian American photographer Anita Ray, who lives in South India at her aunt’s tourist hotel. Anita first appeared in a short story published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, “A Murder Made in India,” in the October 2003 issue. Since then, eleven more Anita Ray stories have appeared in AHMM and Level Best Books anthologies, with another in the pipeline.
Now that the book is written, my job is to launch it on what I hope is a very successful path. Launching a book, as most writers now, is almost as much work as writing it, but I have a few established practices that help me get the word out and generate sales.
1. I compile a list of professional reviewers and review sites, invite them to review the ARC. (These do not duplicate those contacted by Five Star.) Some say yes, and some say no. I send the ARCs out about two to three months in advance, depending on the reviewer. I also ask colleagues, friends, and local reviewers to review. I also do giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing. Depending on the reviewer, I may include a letter from the publisher indicating the type of story, etc. This year I have 45 ARCs for the third Anita Ray, almost twice what I had for the second book.
2. I order updated bookmarks with the cover of the new book. I give these to everyone, and even put them into reply envelopes for bills, etc. I also make sure I have enough business cards. I put cards and bookmarks on every chair at a book event (if there is seating), and hand them out at events like book fairs. For reasons that elude me, I find it easy to hand these out to strangers at events when I normally wouldn’t even say hello to a stranger.
3. I begin setting up events--talks, panels, etc., anything that gets my name out there and gives me a chance to interact with other people. I admit that I don’t do as many of these as I used to, but I’ve found a variety of events is more useful to me than a high number of traditional events like library panels.
4. I use social media, so I'll be posting regularly on my own blog plus do a few guest blogs. I post on FB and I am learning to use Pinterest, especially since I have wonderful covers. I don’t use these sites to sell my book. Instead I talk about writing, what I love about India, and other interests. No one wants to get constant requests to “like” my page, show up at my “virtual” launch, and the rest of it. If I haven’t something interesting to say about writing and other topics, then it’s better for me not to write.
5. This one is harder, but I recommend it if you can pull it off. I recently sold another short story featuring Anita Ray to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. This will probably be published in the coming year, which will reinforce interest, I hope, in the novel For the Love of Parvati, coming out in May 2014, as well as the two previous books, Under the Eye of Kali (2010) and The Wrath of Shiva (2012).
6. I use Wattpad to introduce readers to my series characters by posting short short stories for free. I also have posted the opening scene from a longer work, with a link to the site where the reader can buy the whole book. Unless you’re a very well known writer, it takes time to build up a readership on this site, but it does build.
Like almost any other writer, I would rather be writing than promoting. I doubt I will ever get over the feeling of foolishness of talking about myself and my books. But once in a while, to my great delight, I strike up a conversation with someone who loves all sorts of mysteries, India, Indian food, and meeting strangers. That’s when I don’t care if the person buys my book or not because I'm enjoying the conversation so much, and that’s when he or she usually does buy it.
The first two books in the series are available as eBooks and in paper through Amazon. You can read an Anita Ray story at www.susanoleksiw.com