I'm in the hardest and slowest part—the back and forth as the editor proposes and I dispose.  But the process is near its end, and my fourth mystery, The Claret Murders, will finally be available to readers.  The next step is promoting it, and I can use all the help I can get.  So please, share your fantastic ideas with me.

The new mystery will available in both print and ebook editions.  As with my other mysteries, it will be available from Amazon for the Kindle, Barnes & Noble for the Nook and Apple for the Ibook.  In addition to the generic mystery market, the book should have special appeal to two specific groups of mystery readers—first, to those who enjoy fine French wines, particularly the great wines of Bordeaux, and second, to  those living in and around Nashville Tennessee.  Not only is the story set in the Nashville area, the events occur during the recent 500 year flood that the area is still recovering from.

Here are some of the promotional ideas I’m considering:

  • Purchase a list (preferably an e-mail list) of mystery readers who also purchase wine and/or who live in the middle Tennessee area.  Has anyone had experience using a purchased list and would recommend a particular list provider?  I’m currently considering e-mail list from ConsumerBase.
  • Emailing the host of wine related blogs and asking them to spread the word. Should I offer a free printed copy of the book or just ask?
  • Participating in Bookdaily.com who distributes the book’s first chapter to their participating readers.  Has anyone done this and what were the results?
  • Using a promotional service like Pump Up Your Book! or Smith Publicity to arrange for interviews, blog tours, etc.   Have any of you used such as service?  What service do you recommend?  Did the investment pay off for you?
  • I am also considering approaching wine stores and businesses mentioned in the book with an offer to place a point-of-sale display in their establishment on a contingent basis, which is they pay me nothing until the books sell.  Has anyone tried this?  Do you have a display source you recommend?

Am I overlooking a great marketing idea?

  
PS: I have produced a trailer.  Go to YouTube and search on Claret Murders.   If you have a great idea for using the trailer to excite prospective readers, please share it.

 
Thanks.

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You seem to have excellent ideas.  Do send notices to your fans.  Assuming you've kept their e-mails.

 

I'm the wrong person to ask, since I've seen no success from my own marketing and since my share of the sale of any book I have personally caused is too small to make up for the time and expense involved in the effort.

Thanks for your reply.  Thankfully I have been collecting names and e-mails since book #1.  I call them my fan club—I hope I’m right, that they are fans, I mean.  So each book starts with a leg up.  However, this would be a lot easier if Clint Eastwood would just call and ask for movie rights.

Purchase a list (preferably an e-mail list) of mystery readers who also purchase wine and/or who live in the middle Tennessee area.  Has anyone had experience using a purchased list and would recommend a particular list provider?  I’m currently considering e-mail list from ConsumerBase.

Email marketing is a powerful tool. Such a list would be highly specialized and I wonder if one is actually available. Remember that you rent the list for one time (or limited number of times) use, or buy the list for unlimited use at a significantly higher rate.  The best email list, which is worth gold, is the one you build from scratch over time. It's slower going, but far more effective.  You must remember there are laws (rarely enforced) pertaining to email spam, and there are techniques to avoid spam filters.

Emailing the host of wine related blogs and asking them to spread the word. Should I offer a free printed copy of the book or just ask?

My take is why not contact them. I'm not sure I'd offer a free printed copy as that's a real expense. Maybe a sample chapter. Maybe a press release. Maybe offer to write a guest post on the role of wine in mystery fiction, or something fun like that. Choose the blogs carefully as more than 95 percent of all blogs have fewer than 5 regular readers.

Participating in Bookdaily.com who distributes the book’s first chapter to their participating readers.  Has anyone done this and what were the results?

Can't Comment.

Using a promotional service like Pump Up Your Book! or Smith Publicity to arrange for interviews, blog tours, etc.   Have any of you used such as service?  What service do you recommend?  Did the investment pay off for you?

I believe publicity services can provide great value, but you must clearly specify your goals, and what you expect for the money you invest. If you hired a firm, what would a successful campaign look like to you? My study of programs offered by firms such as these are about tasks (we'll send XX number of reviews, XX number of press releases, we'll set up XX number of interviews, etc.) rather than results (we'll make sure you sell 500 copies).

I am also considering approaching wine stores and businesses mentioned in the book with an offer to place a point-of-sale display in their establishment on a contingent basis, which is they pay me nothing until the books sell.  Has anyone tried this?  Do you have a display source you recommend?

Can't hurt. I'm not sure you'll get many sales, but I'm not sure you won't. Targeting the "wine market" is an interesting angle, in my view, but I just don't know if it will succeed. Again, can't hurt and since most wineries are independently owned, you just might find yourself with a nice 30 or 40 store distribution.

As far as ideas, I think the most important thing is to define success for you in terms of sales, or bucks, or whatever measurement you wish. THEN you can develop a plan to get there.

  • I like the idea of talks (especially to writer groups - but a wine group might be good) as opposed to signings.
  • I loved JA Konrath's approach of offering drinks that were the titles of his books, and related give-aways (coasters, etc.).  Wine glasses?
  • Conferences could work if you have salesmanship in you.
  • Can you get on a panel at Killer Nashville? Again, may not help but can't hurt - it's in your back yard.
  • Visit/talk to indie bookstores - we actually do have a few in Tennessee - and see if they can help out.
  • Wine tastings keep coming to mind, like the upcoming A Toast to Tennessee. I'm not sure what I'd do, but the idea of working that angle sticks in my mind.
  • Also, as has been discussed here frequently, I think it is critically important to gain an understanding of how Amazon works, and how to utilize its system and offerings to your advantage.

Thanks for your well thought out and helpful reply.   I will be attending Killer Nashville in August.  I will look for you.  I have been on panels before.  I’m not sure about the one coming up but I will check to see if they still need faculty.

I don't know if panels/conferences help or not. I figure it cannot hurt to get your face/name/title in front of people who like mysteries, though. However, regardless of traditional publisher or self-published, it is up to you to make sure your investment in marketing - time or money - is worthwhile.

I look forward to meeting you there.  I guess I should break down and register sometime soon. Looks like a good line up - at least, I like CJ Box's books. Met him once, a very nice fellow. And I've been a fan of Peter Straub for years.

Before you touch any of the above, I'd start first by collaborating with other authors in your genre. Swap reviews, strike up chats on social media and build relationships. It's an organic way to cross-promote, rather than putting down money to shout, "Look at me!"

Thanks.  I try.  I guess I need to do better.  Before I started life as a mystery author, success depended on marketing.  It was one thing to build a better mouse trap; it was an all together different thing when people knew you did.  Surely a little "look at me" can't hurt--can it?

I have a question about your thoughts on this Ben, as I'm torn.

On one hand, other authors will buy books - there are a number of Crimespace writers whose books I've purchased in the interest of being supportive.

Are other authors a viable market for sustained sales? Or is the goal to get to THEIR fans? In that case, how selective should one be in networking?

Your comments and/or further elaborations?

It is a very good point. Networking among each other is a great way to hone one’s skills and share ideas but authors are not the market for books.  Granted most of us read.  In fact it was only after a career of reading mysteries while flying that I decided I might be able to do it. But to sell books you have to reach readers not writers.

Word of mouth has always driven book sales. The only thing different is that now we have social media—so it can happen faster.  But someone still has to light the fire. I joked about Eastwood because he is a fire starter.

 
Without an Eastwood to start the fire, you can try to start your own, but to be able to do that successfully you have to narrowly define a market.  That is my point in considering wine lovers who also have purchased mysteries on-line.  I can afford to reach them.  I can’t afford to reach the world. 

 
If you can't define a market you have to hope someone else will start the fire.  If you can narrowly define a market you have a shot at providing the match--you can say "look me"

I think.

Good point. Did you notice they'll have a wine tasting at Killer Nashville?

Yes, I did.  You should definitely sign up for Killer Nashville.  It is good and gets better every year.  Lots of authors and well attended by agents, editors and publishers.  Independents are still a step down the ladder but that is getting better too.  

Tom, I currently use Bookdaily and the resulting sales are minimal. I usually see a couple of extra sales when the monthly ezine goes out, but not much traffic otherwise. I'm in my 3rd month (you're required to sign up for 12 months) and I'd have to say, so far, it's not been worth the cost.

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