This post speaks to something many writers think about: How should we promote our books? And fortunately or unfortunately, many readers have to think about this question, too, because writers are always trying to reach them. Some numbers are relevant here. In 2003, 300,000 ISBN numbers were sold–correlating roughly to how many books were available. In 2011, ISBNs numbered 3,000,000. Quite a leap, right? But in 2012, the number is projected to be–wait for it–15,000,000.
With an untenable amount of books available, you might rightly fear that writers will be screaming themselves hoarse–and our ears the worse for it. That’s why I like Donna Fletcher Crowe’s second Moment so much. What should we do to promote our books? Not much, Donna says. Just…try and write a great book.
It was a Saturday evening last fall. My husband and I were just ready to put our feet up and watch our favorite thriller “MI-5” when the phone rang. It was my publisher. “Donna, what are you doing?”
“Um, watching TV?”
“No, I mean with the Lord Danvers series. The sales are going through the ceiling.”
“Er— not very much, I’m afraid. You see, I’ve been busy . .”
“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up. This is phenomenal.”
In thirty-some years of writing I’ve never had the words ‘phenomenal’ and ‘sales’ linked when talking about my books.
And phenomenal is exactly the right word because, you see, I’m usually fairly with-it in doing the promo thing: I blog, I Tweet, I facebook. In other words, I’m quite capable of driving my friends mad doing the “Buy my book” routine.
But not this time. I was in the throes of promoting the UK release of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH, book 2 in my Monastery Murders series and our daughter was just ready to give birth to their third child in Calgary, so I truly wasn’t up to speed in promoting the ebook release of The Lord Danvers series.
I had been over the moon when my publisher Greenbrier Books sent me the new covers for this Victorian true-crime series which I first wrote in the early 1990’s. I think they are stunning and they perfectly reflect my stories. But I hadn’t spent the time agonizing over editing that I usually do. Just the fact that they were live in all ebook formats took me by surprise.
But sure enough: At #4 Nook mysteries— tucked between Harlan Coben and Clive Cussler— was TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN with Charles, Lord Danvers, and Lady Antonia looking appropriately Victorian against a backdrop of Canterbury Cathedral. And a bit further down at #14, was the first of the series A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH.
And was this amazing activity reflected on Amazon? Yes, indeed. Lord Danvers ranked 52 among British Detectives. Between Hercule Poirot and Agatha Raisin. And While I’m name-dropping other rankings showed him with Adam Dagleish and Lord Peter Wimsey— Exalted company, indeed!
That was six months ago and I’m still pretty much taking my publisher advice of “Keep on doing what you’re doing.” Which was mostly nothing. Or rather, doing everything else but promoting Lord Danvers. (Including spending a month in Calgary during which we got a beautiful new granddaughter and our car was flattened by a falling tree; spending most of December in California where our twin granddaughters had solo roles in The Nutcracker; tending grandsons for our widowed son who got married and went off to Greece on honeymoon; promoting the North American release of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH; and finishing the next Monastery Murder. . .) Well, you get the picture.
This morning I checked: A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH, book 1, is in the top 50 for British Detectives, GRAVE MATTERS, book 2, and TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN, book 3 are right behind.
Please, don’t anyone misunderstand. I’m not boasting. I’m gobsmacked (as they say across the pond). But more than anything else I’m enormously grateful. Thank you, thank you, to my wonderful readers who have given me this beautiful gift.
And, yes, I’m working on book 4 in the series right now. But still not promoting much.
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 38 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.