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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prepping for Marketing Panel at Love Is Murder

Note: I haven't forgotten to discuss other considerations about self-publishing...I'm just making a short detour here.

I spent the day today getting ready to go up to Chicago for Love Is Murder, and I noticed something curious. I'm appearing on a marketing panel, and Morgan Mandel asked what sorts of marketing materials and activities we'd done. (I'm on the panel with Jenny Spallone and Rosemary Harris.)


I started by making a list of things I could show our audience, and nearly fell over. Here 'tis:

1. Business cards
3. Bookplates
4. Excerpt booklets--real and online at (which has had 1,300 some views!)
5. Album kits (Courtesy of AW Crestwood)
6. Coupon code in the back of the book from Snapfish
7. Best of British Scrapbooking contest (Okay, it's not physical, but the mentions in ScrapBook inspirations sure are!)
8. You Tube video about Paper, Scissors, Death
9. A new You Tube video taped by the folks at Ball State University
10. Signs (I make them here on my color printer, post them on foam core board, and the folks at Barnes & Noble love them!)
11. Customized bookplates for the Great Dane rescue people
12. Recipe cards
13. Cookies
14. A notebook full of reviews and interviews
15. Handouts (I'm a big believer in these!)
16. The World Aquarium invitation I did, and then they auctioned off the original art
17. Character naming privileges
18. "Autographed by" stickers
19. Slam albums that I teach people to make in classes
20. A tablecloth with the book cover on it
21. Art I give away through my ezine
22. Packets sent to all the Independent Mystery Booksellers with a folder to give to a mystery bookclub and an introductory letter.
23. Podcasts--You can get to them through my website.

Okay, I can't possibly drag all that up to Chicago. But I did manage to pack a lot of it into my suitcase.

Pretty amazing. That list above doesn't even include the various things I do when I teach classes, or the classes and presentations I make. Or my philosophy about promotion with its three pillars: excellence, value-added and memorable.

Very interesting.

And what works best? What sells the most books? What advances my career?

The most important single marketing thing I've done is....


I have written the best book I could write. And I've followed it up with two more in the series--which aren't out yet--that are equally as good. (I'm deferring to my copy editor at Midnight Ink who really loves Book #2, Cut, Crop & Die and my agent who is pleased with Book #3.)

Other than that, who knows? I think it's all part of the job. I try to make it easy for people to remember me. I use my bookmarks a lot as business cards, and pass them out whenever I meet anyone who might read mysteries. I try to support all my appearances with small tangibles like the handouts. I try to offer "value-added" by teaching a skill like making slam albums or doodling. I give away a lot of books to others who give them away on their websites and blogs--and I've given copies away to charities.

Of course, I blog in three places regularly (here, and, and I now have nearly 40 people who follow me on Twitter. (Go to I post "journaling prompts" on Twitter to encourage folks to write more about their lives.) I do Facebook. I teach classes. I try to participate in list-serves. I write columns and articles. I respond to any and all requests such as the one from Scrap Scene.

And whenever possible, I try to "double up." This weekend, I'll not only be in Chicago, but I'll also be "appearing" virtually in England. They have more than 1,100 scrapbookers signed up to participate in a Scrapbooking Mystery Weekend built, in part, around Paper, Scissors, Death. So they'll do all sorts of fun activities, virtual and real. And I'll stop by via the magic of the Internet. (Sadly, the people in the UK won't get to taste my Fudgy Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies, but the people in Chicago will!)

When I travel, I drop in to local independent booksellers and chain stores and sign a copy of my book for their staff. When I was in New York City, the folks at the Barnes & Noble off of Times Square immediately ordered six copies of the book. The nice people at The Mysterious Bookstore promised to give my book a read and see if it would work for them. (What a thrill it was just to be considered by them! They're legendary!)

Life is good. I'm awfully lucky to be doing what I love. And people have been so kind to me.

1 comment:

Neil Plakcy said...

So many great ideas, Joanna! I'm doing a promotion workshop for Sleuthfest, and so far I have 29 different suggestions for folks.

You've inspired me to post that on my website once the conference is over-- and do a mass email letting people know it's there.

(Oh, and at the same time I can promote the re-release of Mahu in March, and use the handout as a way to draw traffic to the website.)