Meeting Myself

Edith here, half high (no, not THAT kind of high…) and half exhausted north of Boston.

My eleventh mystery officially released on Saturday. Called to Justice is my second Quaker Midwife Mystery and I’m delighted by the reviews and cheers it has received so far. Any regular reader here knows that my tenth mystery came out only two weeks ago, and I was confronted with how to celebrate two books (under two names in two series from two publishers) at once.

So I held a double launch party at my fabulous local independent bookstore, Jabberywocky Bookshop in Newburyport, MA on Friday night. To top off the celebration, I’ll give away an advance copy of my third spring book, Mulch Ado About Murder, to one commenter today!

From above

Owner Sue Little is super supportive of local authors and readers everywhere. When I mentioned I wanted to interview my alter ego Maddie Day  – and vice versa – she thought it was a great idea.

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With Sue Little

I found an Indiana cap, and brought my Quaker bonnet. I baked gingersnaps from the late 1800s (Fanny Farmer helped with the recipe) as well as Kahlua Brownies Robbie Jordan might serve in her country store restaurant (recipe in Flipped for Murder). I assembled a few door prizes. And I wrote up a number of questions for Maddie and me to ask each other.

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The audience kept building. I spied local writer pals, a bunch of Quakers, fans I’d met at previous library events, and more.

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Writers Connie Hambley, Mary Schaefer, Nancy Langmeyer, me, Laurie Mendoza, and Holly Robinson

My darling son JD helped dole out raffle tickets.

I’d started speaking when two Wicked Cozys slipped in – Julie Hennrikus and Barb Ross, having battled traffic all the way up from the Boston area (we three slipped out for a drink and a late dinner afterwards, too).

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It was one of the more fun launch parties I’ve held. People seemed to like the alter egos talking to each other.

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After my script was done, I read a short first scene from each book, and then entertained lively audience questions.

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Afterwards? Wine, dessert, and signing books, of course.

And if anyone not local to north of Boston wants to order a signed copy of Called to Justice, please consider doing it via Jabberywocky! Just make sure to request a signed copy in the comments when you check out.mulch-ado-about-murder

Readers: Thanks to everybody for helping me celebrate! Which authors have you helped celebrate launches – or wished you had? Writers, favorite launch parties? Tips and downfalls? Remember, I’m giving away an advance copy of my third spring book, Mulch Ado About Murder, to one commenter today!

Wicked Wednesday: Post-release Promotion

It’s Wednesday. Let’s talk craft again today. Last week we talked about what to do before the book comes out. What about afterwards, from the book birthday onward? Wickeds, which post-release strategy do you find most successful in getting the word out about your book? Have you ever poured a lot of time/money/energy into a strategy that bombed? How long do you keep promoting one book before turning to the next one?

Jessie: I like to have launch parties. Mostly because I love to throw parities in general. I pick a theme and then I go a little crazy. My first book, Live Free or Die, has a fire chief as the protagonist and I centered the menu around foods that were smoked, charred and melted. And I held a New Hampshire trivia contest with local wine and a fire extinguisher as prizes. Such fun!

Edith: You gave away a fire extinguisher, Jessie? That’s fabulous! One of the things I like Namingrightspictureto do post-release is donate naming rights for a character in my next book to a charity auction. A couple of years ago they put the offer in the live auction and brought me up on stage to introduce it, and there was a real bidding war, finally raising something like $350 for the name. It raises awareness of me as an author and all my post-release books, and also lets people know more books are coming. People seem to really like the idea of their name in a book. I do state it won’t be the name for the protagonist, the villain, or the victim. But I don’t think we ever stop promoting our books, do we?

Barb: One thing I advocate is careful tracking of the publicity your book does get. I have a Google alert on my name (practically useless because my name is so common) and one on my title (much more useful) and on “Maine Clambake Mystery” (most useful of all). That way, I do find out about most of the blog reviews and other stories about the books on the Web. I link to them from my website (for example, you can find the reviews of Musseled Out here and other articles about me or the books here), but more important it creates a record of who reviewed the book for next time, so I can approach people about Advance Reader copies or let them know NetGalley previews are available. Fans are the most precious thing an author has, and it’s important to reach out to them if you can.

IMG_4597Sherry: Barb, you are so good about tracking! Like Jessie I’ve done launch parties for my first two books. But I look at them more as a celebration than marketing opportunity. The last one I did with Maya Corrigan — we share an agent, publisher, and this summer a release date. Barb Goffman interviewed us and it was a lot of fun — see the picture to the left. I’ve done a number of books signings and average selling 15 books. I have a love/hate relationship with these events. I meet new people who might not have heard of me otherwise but I always feel like a wet noodle afterwards. When I don’t want to do them my friend/publicist Mary Titone always says: It’s your job!

Liz: Since I’m lucky enough to be part of the animal community and my books strongly feature animals, I try to have events and parties at animal-related places. The launch party for my first book was at a doggie bakery and it was tons of fun! Shaggy even got her own cake 🙂

Fellow writers: What works and doesn’t work for you? Readers: Has something an author done helped you find her books?

Launch Parties — To Party or Not to Party

By Sherry —  I’m happy it’s warmer than last week!

Launch Parties. I wasn’t sure if I should throw one or not. I googled Launch Parties and panic set in. I saw discussions about bartenders, DJs, swag, decorations, themes. That was not for me.

Tagged for Death mech.inddFor a extroverted person I have this introverted part of me around promoting Tagged for Death. Standing up on my own, talking about my book scared the heck out of me. But that’s when I saw Ray Daniel’s post on Facebook talking about his launch party for Terminated. He had Hank Phillippi Ryan interview him. I thought that was a brilliant idea and something that would work well for me. Friends who attended Ray’s launch said it was fabulous.

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I asked friend, author, and independent editor Barb Goffman if she would interview me for the launch. Barb is also a journalist, funny, and enthusiastic. She said yes and a weight fell off my shoulders. I could do this. The next step was figuring out the venue. Have it at home? Rent a community center? Or have it at a bookstore? I sought the advice of friends. Some of their answers surprised me: make sure there’s lots of parking, bonus points for free parking, don’t make me drive through rush hour (Washington DC traffic can be a nightmare). Do you want this to be a marketing event or a celebration with family and friends? If you have it at your house or a community center who will handle book sales?

IMG_2400It was a lot to ponder. Fortunately for me my friend Mary Titone pushed me and called venues for me. Barnes and Noble at Fair Lakes Promenade in Fairfax, Virginia said they’d love to host my launch. Having it there fulfilled the lots of free parking and who would sell books suggestion. We set it up for 1:00 pm on a Sunday which avoided rush hour. Having it at the bookstore allowed for both a celebration and a marketing event.

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The staff at Barnes and Noble couldn’t have been nicer. Store manager Sarah Emmett arranged for Mary and I to meet with Ann, who’s in charge of the cafe, and John their events guru. Ann provided samples of baked goods and made sure I stayed within my budget. The day of the launch she even made sure we had our own private “butler” Alex to serve. John and Sarah made lots of great suggestions and showed us the space where the party would be. They all seemed so happy about the event and I couldn’t have worked with a nicer team.

IMG_2461The night before the big day my friend Jill Ribler sent me a picture she’d found on Pinterest. An author had taken her own book and had people attending the launch sign it instead of having a guest book. It was a great idea which I incorporated into the launch. Two friends and fellow writers, Susan O’Brien and Robin Templeton, volunteered to take pictures.

The launch itself was perfect. I choked up a bit during the thank you’s when I mentioned my husband and daughter. Barb Goffman was funny and asked great questions. Having her by my side kept me calm (well, calmer). I didn’t do a reading — it’s another thing I’m not crazy about doing.

I was delighted to have people from so many aspects of my life present. Friends we’d met at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts — Tagged for Death is set in a fictional version of the base and the small town of Bedford, Massachusetts, Chessie Chapter Sisters in Crime members, even one friend from the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, one Wicked Cozy Author, along with friends and neighbors. It surpassed the celebration I hoped for.

Thanks to all of you for making my launch party such a special day!

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