May 4, 2012

Made It Moment 2: Donna Fletcher Crow

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:29 am

A Most Inconvenient Death

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.

Donna Fletcher Crow

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.


  1. What a wonderful stroke of luck(?). Congratulations! If you figure out the “secret,” please share!

    Comment by Patricia Gligor — May 4, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  2. Wonderful post, Donna. The more I read about promotion, one thing becomes crystal clear. Readers read. It’s up to every author to spend more time on writing a great book and less time worrying about how to market it.

    Comment by Anne K. Albert — May 4, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  3. There are just as many stories like this about books mysteriously picking up speed as there are John Locke stories. At the end of the day, a certain portion of luck appears to be required no matter how you roll the dice. :)

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — May 4, 2012 @ 9:19 am

  4. Congratulations!

    And this proves what I’ve always thought…any marketing efforts are mostly a shot in the dark. Word of Mouth is where it is. :)

    Comment by Judy — May 4, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  5. YES! There can be book sales without tweets! You have restored my hope.

    Comment by Sara — May 4, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  6. Thank you so much for hosting me, Jenny, and to all of you for your kind comments. I really hate to say “luck” because I was raised to believe in hard work and faith– and yet, it sometimes seems to be a very useful word.

    I checked this morning (I wrote this post some time ago)–none of the titles remain on the top 100, but sales are still strong.

    Comment by Donna Fletcher Crow — May 4, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  7. Wonderful post – Congratulations! And when you figure out the “secret,” please share with the rest of us.
    I hope your sales continue to soar!

    Comment by P.L. Blair — May 4, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  8. What a wonderful moment Donna! Congrats!! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Comment by Kellie — May 4, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  9. I have a friend who’s doing very little in the way of promotion, and her books have suddenly taken off, too. I hope if either one of you figure out what happened that you’ll share. Congratulations, and keep it up. :)

    Comment by Marja McGraw — May 4, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  10. You have every right to boast!

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — May 4, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  11. What a great surprise! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it happens to the rest of us. Congrats.

    Comment by mountainmama — May 4, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  12. What an uplifting piece if news. Even these days, a book can still sell based on the quality of the writing and not just on hype. Donna’s books are great reads.

    Comment by Mike Orenduff — May 4, 2012 @ 10:58 am

  13. Great post, Jenny. 15,000,000 books tells you that screaming to be heard is probably not the answer. I think one has to trust that a good book will eventually rise. I note that Donna has written 38 books, so I guess this is another of those “overnight success” stories that reflect steady work and having as many books out there as you can. Maybe that’s the secret, along with good writing.

    Comment by Alex Lukeman — May 4, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  14. I found this post very encouraging Donna, as I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of promoting we are told writers should do. And it reminds me once again that one of your books should be next on my reading list because they sound fascinating!

    Comment by SC Skillman — May 4, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  15. Donna, I guess we can’t ask you “What are you doing?”

    You have a great answer for that even now so keep it up!

    Your fellow Indie authors are happy for your success.

    Thanks Sandy!

    Comment by "Doctor Barbara" - Barbara Ebel — May 4, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  16. This is such a charming blog post and probably exactly what we all take as advice: write a good book, publish it and if we can’t help it, then make a little bit of noise, then let go.

    If the book’s good enough, readers will find it. If not, stop shouting and moaning, but sit down and write a better book.

    Comment by Stella Deleuze — May 4, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

  17. Jenny and Donna,

    What a wonderful story! It gives us all a little hope.

    BTW – I LOVE the picture.

    Off to share.

    Comment by Sandy Wolters — May 4, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  18. How cheering & inspiring!!!!!!

    Comment by Brenda — May 4, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  19. What lovely replies! I loved hearing from every one of you! Another story I could have told is about an author who does medieval medical mysteries with the publisher who does my Monastery Murders. His sales are super–so super I’s always afraid he’ll make me look bad with our publisher. One time i asked him if he blogged. “His reply was What’s a blog?” Well, his books are medieval!

    Comment by Donna Fletcher Crow — May 4, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  20. Thanks, Donna, for writing such an uplifting post. (If I’d written 38 books, as you have, I’d feel even better after reading it.) Writing a good book is certainly the first, best advice, but it’s cheering to hear that being promotion-challenged doesn’t necessarily knock less prolific authors out of the box. I enjoy your posts on the DL list, and it’s good to meet you here, too.

    Jenny, once again you provide inspiration.


    Comment by Elizabeth C. Main — May 4, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  21. Thank you, Liz. DL is gret fun, isn’t it!

    Comment by Donna Fletcher Crow — May 4, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  22. What a wonderful, encouraging post! Thanks for taking the time to write it and share your success. I know it gives all us writers hope. And Jenny, thanks for hosting Donna.

    Comment by Jan Christensen — May 4, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  23. Wow. A secret so secret it keeps itself secret, and so successful too. Congratulations!

    Comment by Sheila Deeth — May 5, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  24. Congratulations. Keep the stories coming. Your fans are always waiting for the next installment.

    Comment by Gwyn Ramsey — May 6, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  25. Great advice, Donna. Most important for those of us who write is to create the best book possible. Hopefully, reputation will spread among readers by word of mouth.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    DEATH LEGACY–new in hardcover

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — May 6, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  26. The first rule of promoting is: Write a great book. How hard could it be?

    Write the book, sell it, then try not to anguish over results. Hmmm. Sounds a little like parenting.

    Thank you, Donna. Your blog exonerated.

    Sharon Ervin

    See my books on

    Comment by Sharon Ervin — May 12, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

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