Last week I sent back the final edits for the fourth book in the Anita Ray series. When Krishna Calls will be out in April 2016, less than ten months from today. I'm excited about this book and looking forward to the cover. My editor generously sends me previews, and sometimes I get to make suggestions. I had a chance to do that on the first book, Under the Eye of Kali, but it wasn't necessary for the second and third in the series. Thanks to Deirdre Wait, graphic designer, I've had three beautiful covers perfectly matched to the stories. Does that mean all I have to do now is wait for the royalty checks to roll in? Alas, no.
Over the next ten months I have numerous tasks that are all part of launching a new book. This is where the joy of finishing a book bumps into the reality of selling it to the reading public. A number of websites and blogs give advice on how to promote a new book (see the links below), but I do only a few of the many suggestions.
If I weren't already on social media--FB, Pinterest, Twitter, among others--now would be the time to join. I don't do a lot with these sites, but I have learned to do something at least occasionally, and now is the time to step things up.
I will announce my upcoming book on FB and other websites, but not so often that I will be a pest. No one wants to keep reading the same news flash every day.
I'll update my list of reviewers for the ARCs that I expect by the end of the year. These sites include giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing, as well as teasers on Wattpad. In addition, I look for specialty magazines/newspapers, such as newspapers directed to the Indian community.
My website always needs updating, and I'll add the new novel plus any short stories that haven't yet been listed. I won't have a list of blogs or events to post until the spring, but I'll add those also.
Bookmarks have always been popular, and now with Internet services they are easier than ever to produce cheaply. I've used bookmarks for both the Anita Ray series and the Mellingham/Joe Silva series. These are easy to hand out, but not nearly as popular as the recipe cards I produce for the Anita Ray series.
Readers of cozies and traditional mysteries love recipes, and I love writing them. When I have one I think works well and is accessible for those not comfortable with cooking Indian food, I send the recipe to a friend who has a food/cooking blog and he tests it for me. With his final approval, I make up a recipe card with the covers of the Anita Ray books on the other side. I hand the cards out at events and often get asked for additional copies. I'll do the next recipe card when I have a copy of the fourth cover. My current recipe cards have only three covers on the reverse.
During the late fall I begin setting up events. Because I've had the benefit of working with Sisters in Crime New England Speakers' Bureau, I know that a panel of several writers is more attractive to libraries and bookstores than a lone writer who may or may not have a following in the area. We have several terrific writers in my area, and we enjoy working with each other on panels. If I'm doing any traveling I make a point of writing ahead to area bookstores and offer to come in and sign stock or give a talk. I make myself accessible, but I don't push the opportunity.
One of the key things I try to keep in mind when setting up panels or talks is that I'm one of hundreds of writers doing the same thing. Libraries and bookstores can feel overwhelmed with offers, and many like to stick with their own programming. Make the offer, outline how much you can do for them, and be honest about the audience you can bring in. Then step back.
Blog tours are very popular and I try to do as many posts as possible. This also means, of course, keeping up with my weekly post on my own blog. I tend to be erratic on this one, so a new book is a challenge for me here as well as in other areas. Some writers hire a company to set up a blog tour, and other writers do it on our own.
In addition to the usual venues, I have done a number of radio and TV interviews over the years. These are fun, and I try to tailor my conversation to the interests of the area or interviewer.
I have never purchased ad space because my publisher, Five Star/Gale, Cengage, does a gorgeous catalog and markets well to libraries and bookstores. But some writers purchase ad space in conference catalogs or trade magazines relevant to the book.
There are lots of ways to promote a book, but no one wants to be deluged with sales pitches. I am, after all, only one of a few hundred writers doing the same thing. So, I will add to my list of things to do the simple reminder to have confidence in my book as a good story that readers will enjoy. And in between marketing efforts I will start thinking about the next Anita Ray and set aside time to write.
The sites below have straightforward advice on marketing your book. My advice on these is to pick and choose. Try out the tips that seem reasonable to you, and ignore the rest.