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Thursday, October 24, 2013

A2R Marketing: Going Local

It's not just foodies who are interested in the "going local" trend. Readers love going local as well. Authors promoting their books are smart make part of their promotional readings to include house calls to local book groups.

This picture is of an active book group near where I live. They had read about my book, The Charity, in a local paper and chose it as their October selection. One of their members reached out to me because the book is set on the North Shore and relates to a passion of hers, horses. Learning I live close by, she offered a tour of the New England Equine Rescue facility as an enticement to join them. I happily accepted her invitation for an evening of chardonnay and laughter as we shared impressions and insights of the book. They said they rarely agree on whether a selection was liked by each member of their group, but The Charity won their unanimous praise. 

The evening was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, in the best of book group traditions, members sampled a genre not typical for them. One women would not have picked up a book in the thriller genre, but ended up loving the story and the main character. They also enjoyed reading a book that gave them a window into a darker side of their home surroundings. Readers are inherently curious about the process of writing a book. Having the author come to their home and share inside secrets on the research and writing of a book, especially one they loved, was a bonus.

The other reason why the evening was notable was due to the changes in the publishing industry. Authors are needing to be more creative in their outreach to gain new readers. An author's work no longer ends with a polished manuscript, but continues into worlds most writers know little or nothing about - business development and marketing. Any little hook that piques a reader's interest is worth the effort and rewarding them with personalized insights is important.  

As an emerging author, it's difficult to compete with the big advertising budgets and supreme PR machines that the big guys have. Keeping your focus on what is interesting and intriguing to your neighbors helps get the traction that any growing buzz needs. When readers connect in a personal way to a book they become a fan and, optimally, an evangelist. Buzz cannot grow without evangelists.

There are a lot of winners when you keep your focus local. Certainly, the women enjoyed an interesting evening of talk and sharing. Local bookstores benefited too. Because the readers needed the book quickly, they shopped local instead of shopping online. Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, which is one of the several area stores to carry my title, did a great business thanks to these ladies! Also, New England Equine Rescue was planning a silent auction and fundraiser and I happily donated a signed copy of my book to support their efforts. 

It's always smart to keep the bigger picture in mind when promoting your work. But it's even smarter to stay focused on what's right in your own backyard.

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Thriller Features ‘Independent-Thinking, Strong-Minded’ Bowdoin Grad

The Charity is out in the world and getting attention! A great story is nothing without a great character and Jessica Wyeth has it all.

Creating a fictional character is a great deal of work...and fun. The characters can be crafted out of the barest whiff of truth or can be grounded in a composite of the best attributes imaginable.

A character should be treated with the same care as the story itself. I've written before that finely crafted thriller hangs its plot lines on real events and real places, giving the reader more to grip onto. This makes the reading experience more engaging. If a story contains a larger-than-life protagonist, then the backstory, no matter how faintly alluded to, should answer why or how that character came to be. The backstory should always support the created character and not run in conflict with it.

Even a seemingly small detail like where that character may have gone to college is an important part of their persona. Feel the difference when a character "shopped at only the finest boutiques" and "prowled the clearance racks at the local thrift store." Where he or she shopped could be the most inconsequential aspect of the story, but that one detail shapes the reader experience of the character and thereby shapes their experience of the story.

Choosing my character's alma mater was an easy choice. Intelligent, robust and hailing from New England, Bowdoin College was a natural fit for Jessica Wyeth. By connecting a fictional character to a real college, the character becomes imbued with the perceptions the reader holds for that institution and becomes someone the reader can relate to or identify with. Conjuring that image can take pages or it can take the faintest of brush stokes, but it also has to mean something.

A good thriller doesn't clutter itself with irrelevant facts, but it does have to contain enough detail to help build the tension. Supporting the character's traits with real life details fleshes out the character and makes a fictional story more real.

This to the Bowdoin Daily Sun tells why I chose it for my character's backstory.