My first mystery novel, SHE HAD TO KNOW, was published last April. Authors are told we have to start publicity for our books well in advance of the publication date. That includes setting up a website, blog (either our own or lining up guest spots and making comments on other blogs), starting a Facebook page, and maybe a Twitter account. We are encouraged to attend conferences and conventions that will be beneficial in networking and sales. Library talks and civic organizational events are also helpful in our quest to become known. Sometimes businesses that connect with our books can be tools for promotion. The more creative we become in getting our names out there, the more chances we have for future sales.
I was an avid reader long before I became a writer, so I had already made many connections by being a fan. For ten years before my novel came out, I attended various mystery conventions and made quite a few author friends who generously offered suggestions and encouragement.
My first mystery writers’ group in Alabama was active in Sisters in Crime. The SinC meetings we had were smaller than the normal big conventions, thus I was able to meet authors in a more intimate setting, which gave me more time to ask them, one on one, about their work and experiences. I can’t say enough about the benefits of smaller writer events for beginners, especially. They help us gain confidence as we learn that authors, famous and not so famous, all go through the same trials and tribulations with which we are struggling. We soon discover that getting published doesn’t just happen magically, but by having a good support system, a willingness to work diligently, persistence in taking all the steps necessary,we do have a chance.
Getting recognition once your book is out can be another challenge. My book is not considered a mainstream mystery, meaning it doesn’t quite fit into some of the genre subtitles like, cozy or thriller. It is a traditional mystery and has been described as a book with a Gothic feel. That classification has been good, because it’s descriptive, but it also has been somewhat at odds with the kind of material that is usually reviewed. Word-of-mouth has been my greatest aid in getting results for sales for both the trade paperback and e-book, so far. That word-of-mouth has come from readers who liked my book, through the DorothyL Digest, Facebook contacts, my publisher’s blog, my agent’s blog and other bloggers. But trying to get reviews (other than two wonderful blurbs on the back of my book from Vicki Lane and Lillian Stewart Carl), has proved to be elusive.
With that said, imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from Rosa St. Claire, book reviewer for the Miami Examiner requesting an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of my book. I can’t remember exactly where she found me, but she was fascinated about my life’s story and wanted to read my writing. I sent my book to her along with some other information she requested. To be truthful, I was so busy, I kind of forgot about it. Then on January 1, 2012, Ms. St. Claire sent me a message to check out my Facebook page. There, in all its glory, was her article about her favorite twelve fiction books of 2011 and a list of nine special recommendations. Some of my favorite authors were on that top 12 list. Reading on, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my book listed in the special recommendations. After all, I’m a first-time novelist. Here I was sitting among such greats as Sue Grafton, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Higgins Clark, Carol Higgins Clark, Michael Connelly and Kaye George. (Now I want to read the other authors on these lists, whose work I’m not familiar.) What a thrill it was! Especially, since I was dealing with the sadness of the deaths of three friends and my thirteen-year-old kitty, right after Christmas. How I needed something cheerful. It really helped.
If you would like to see Ms. St. Claire’s list, you may go to: