Kari Lee Townsend lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!
Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters. You can find out more about her on her website www.karileetownsend.com and also on the group mystery blog she cohosts, called Mysteries and Margaritas, at www.
TEMPEST IN THE TEA LEAVES: A Fortune Teller Mystery
In the fortune telling business there are a lot of pretenders, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal--and her predictions can be lethally accurate…
Sunny is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune-telling business in an ancient Victorian house, inheriting the strange cat residing within. Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled librarian and discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, only she's too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed detective is a ”non-believer.” He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic's future.
Kari took some time to write about what's involved in promoting a book. There are so many books available these days, how does a book or an author stand out in the crowd? You might think an author's work is done when the manuscript goes to print, but the author's work is just beginning. Read on to see what goes into promoting that book that caught your eye.
People often think that because I’m with a big publisher that I don’t have to promote my books on my own as well. My response is always, “Wrongo!” Now, granted, if you’re a big selling author, chances are your publisher is going to spend more money on you, promotion wise. However, even big name authors would be foolish not to do any promotion on their part. This business is just that…a business. Every publisher does a certain amount of promotion, depending on the size of the publisher and what they promise you in their contract. However, even if they sign you for a three-book deal, that doesn’t guarantee all three books will come out. If your first book does okay, then they might try book two. But if book two does even worse, then odds are they won’t put your book three out. So why wouldn’t you do all that you could as an author to help get the word out?
Some basic must haves you can set up any time. First, you need a website. And make sure you put the links to all the booksellers on your site, and keep it active. Update it frequently. Some people have a newsletter. If you do, then make sure you send one out a few times a year. You should also have social network sites: a Twitter page, a Facebook Author page, etc. I also am part of a group blog because it’s easier to keep up with than a personal blog. I also think it’s wise to be on several loops and list serves and forums. You don’t want to always talk about your books, but you should always have the information in your signature line. Then every time you post something or comment on someone else’s post, people get to know your name and will remember your book.
I like to start six months in advance. I first order bookmarks. I make sure they have my book cover on them, as well as the release date, the ISBN number, a blurb, and some quotes from other authors. There are all kinds of sites for this. I used www.printingforless.com and I ordered 4,000 of them. I also ordered signed by author stickers and bookplates for autographs. I don’t bother with postcards because my bookmarks have all the same info on them, and readers tend to collect bookmarks rather than postcards.
Next, I ordered Pat Rouse’s Bookseller and Readers Groups Mailing list. You can reach Pat at Rousepat@aol.com This list is invaluable. She has contact information for chain and independent bookstores as well as reader groups and book clubs all over the US and abroad that specifically want bookmarks, press releases, ARC’s, etc. She covers all the genres they are looking for and how many they want of each promo item. ARC’s I would send out 2 to 3 months ahead of time to reviewers. Bookmarks I like to wait unto 2 weeks to 1 month ahead of time tops. Readers hate to get excited about a book and then realize they have to wait until several months to read it. RT also has a program where they send out 7000 bookmarks to bookstores across the US for you, but I like the more personal, hands on approach I get from using Pat’s list and sending them myself.
Then I looked up all the upcoming mystery conferences and conventions and started sending bookmarks and promo items to their goody room. I figured even if people didn’t keep them, it would once again put the image of my name and book cover in their minds. Not to mention, it earned me several pre-orders. I even held an It’s a Mystery Contest called, “Where are Kari’s Bookmarks?” when they didn’t show up at one conference. It was fun and clever and different, once again making people remember my name.
Taking out some ads can be beneficial as well. There are many choices. Ads in various magazines and newsletters, as well as online ads and even ads in conference brochures. Also, you can often write articles for readers journals, newsletter, and magazines, too.
Make sure you set up a blog tour. The Internet is a powerful tool and a fabulous way to spread the word quickly to a wide range of people. Contact reviewers and bloggers a good 3 to 4 months early so you have time to get them a review copy and schedule times for when they will review your book, as well as interview you and or let you do a guest blog post. You should schedule it for the entire first month your book is out. I like to start a week early to generate initial buzz and then keep it going all month long. Giveaways are a big hit as well, and I like to do one per blog. Your publisher will often help you with providing the books for that. Other people do 5 at the end of the entire blog tour. Either way, giveaways entice readers to check out your post.
Once I got my author copies a month early, I mailed some to auctions and to conferences and luncheons, etc, to use as giveaways in baskets and door prizes. It creates buzz for when the book launches a month later. The more generous you are and the more you reach out to the people who matter, the more bang for your buck you will get. Booksellers, librarians, and readers groups love to spread the word about a book they are excited about, especially if the author is friendly and generous. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth, especially when their contacts are in all the right places.
Finally, once your book comes out, be sure to hit the road running. Participate in your blog tour. Drop by local bookstores and sign their stock. Order bookplates ahead of time and offer them up on your website so if someone buys your book and wants a signed copy, you can mail an autograph to them. Host a book signing. Run a contest.
When you’re all done, it’s time to start all over again. New idea, new book, new promo plan J Good luck! I hope this post is of some help to you. And don’t feel overwhelmed. You can do as much or as little as your pocketbook and time allow. The point is…do something! You can’t just rely on your publisher to do it all for you.