Posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken
Can you have a "claim to fame" if nobody remembers? I don't know if Al Gore invented the internet or not, but I myself coined the phrase "blatant self-promotion", commonly shortened to BSP. I can't prove it, but I defy anyone to disprove it.
Here's what happened. I've been a member of the online mystery community DorothyL (www.dorothyl.com) for at least a dozen years. Some subjects have been recurrent over that time, done to death, and have been named "forbidden topics".
Like the heated argument on whether DL was a place for authors to toot their own horns and tout their own books ("Toot'n'Tout", if you will, or "T'n'T"). One group thought the list was for talking about other people's books, short stories, plays, mystery television shows, movies, and so forth. The authors on the list, not surprisingly, found DL a venue to discuss, promote, announce, and otherwise "T'n'T" upcoming books, newly published titles, author signings and other appearances. This type of author self--promotion seemed to some readers to be too self-serving, too commercial, too...blatant.
By then the first edition of Children with Cancer had been out for around 10 years, so I had learned the hard way that authors have to promote their own books, big time. Nobody else (not even your mom) will draw attention to your book the way you can. Your income does not depend on writing books: people have to buy them. And unless you yourself do the "T'n'T" thing, your audience may never even hear about your book.
With this insight, I wrote a post on DL suggesting that authors should be able to promote their books on the list so they could sell them and get contracts to write more books. Otherwise we wouldn't have good books to read. I opined that DL should allow "blatant self-promotion" as a boon to the authors as well as the readers. Other DLers advised that authors indulging in the practice put "BSP" in the subject line so those whose sensibilities were offended by such crass commercialism could quickly hit the delete button.
DL folks are clever, so it wasn't long before we also had BBP (Blatant Bookstore Promotion), BFP (Blatant Friend Promotion) and other turns of the phrase. I am now going to commit some BFAP (Blatant Favorite Author Promotion).
The book I am tootin' and toutin' is Elaine Viets' newest entry in the Dead End Job series, Murder with Reservations (http://www.elaineviets.com, wherein Our Heroine/sleuth becomes a hotel maid. Helen Hawthorne is a former executive living an "under the table" life to avoid The Law. Her cheatin' ex-husband might either bring assault charges or apply for substantial alimony support if he could find her. Helen runs to Florida, where she takes a series of odd jobs, the sort in which one can be remunerated (poorly) without attracting the attention of all the legalities like taxes, Social Security, and so forth. Earlier books in the Dead End Job series have seen Helen as a pet groomer, a wedding shop salesperson, and a telemarketer. Elaine has had all of these jobs, including, yes, hotel maid. Her characters are quirky, the writing laugh-out-loud funny, and the plots just plain fun (except for the bodies, of course...) One of my favorite characters is her landlady, Margery Flax; the real Margery Flax and I were almost arrested together in Philadelphia at a Mid-Atlantic convention when a DL dinner went rather awry--but that's another blog entirely.
Murder with Reservations is a spring book, perfectly positioned to launch at the annual Malice Domestic convention (http://www.malicedomestic.com) of mystery lovers in Arlington, Virginia, coming up May 4-6.
Malice, as it's fondly called, is a golden opportunity for authors to meet fans, discuss their books on panels, sign copies for fans and collectors, network with editors and other authors, and generally take part in a weekend-long festivity of BSP. Conferences like Malice are vital to building an author's career. Attendees receive a lot of free books to try out new authors, and the ever-popular book room is full of booksellers offering new and collectible books (as well as fun stuff like my silver "leather" purse shaped like a teapot).
So why am I BFAP'ing Elaine's book? Because she can't do it herself. Folks in the mystery community are aware that this vibrant, smart, funny, young woman had a serious stroke a couple of weeks ago. She was to be toastmaster at Malice this year (a slot to be filled instead by the inestimable Kate Grilley), she was to visit book stores, and generally BSP Murder with Reservations, well, blatantly. Elaine is getting better but is still hospitalized and will face a long road back to health. She will not be able to promote her new book herself. We have to do it for her. Nothing will perk up an author more than knowing her book is selling fast.
So please--buy a copy of Murder with Reservations for yourself, another for your local library, some for friends and relatives (Mother's Day is on the horizon). Enjoy the book, and when, like Oliver Twist, you want more, get the earlier titles in the series, starting with Shop til You Drop. End of BFAP.
Over time, BSP has become established well beyond DorothyL (I once saw it in New York magazine). Within DL, you "toot'n'tout" to your heart's content, but keep it to yourself whether you think BSP is good or evil. Because it's been added to the DL "forbidden topics" list.