Kate Flora: It’s Wednesday, not yet seven, and I’m already running behind. I know that many of you like to read the blog with your morning coffee, and while I’m dithering here at my desk, your coffee is probably getting cold. So what am I talking about today? That very difficult and delicate question: How much promotion should an author do, and when does it become annoying to a reader? I’m prompted to write this because in the last few weeks, several friends and neighbors have asked me if “that book about the warden ever came out?” Having spent the summer in my car, hauling crates of books and racing around to libraries, book fairs, and bookstores, I was amazed by the question. Is it really possible that there’s a single person anywhere who hasn’t heard about A Good Man with a Dog?
Evidently, the answer is yes. So today I’m wondering where the tipping point is between enough and too much. If Roger Guay—who IS the good man with a dog—and I haven’t been at your local library or bookstore, (along with Saba or Nilla or some other canine with a sweet face and lots of talent) I apologize, and urge you to rush right in to said local venue and get us invited. Meanwhile, check our websites, where our appearances for the rest of the summer and fall are listed.
In case you are curious about why my name is on a Maine game warden’s memoir, here’s a small sample of what you might hear us say at a book talk. http://www.wlbz2.com/mb/news/local/207/roger-guay-kate-clark-flora-a-good-man-with-a-dog/272122215
It all began years ago when Joe Loughlin, then a police lieutenant in Portland, wanted to
write a book about a case he was working on, the disappearance of twenty-five-year-old Amy St. Laurent from Portland’s Old Port area. He was my go-to guy for police procedure, and I was his go-to gal for writing advice. That led to the collaboration on Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine, and my connection with the Maine warden service, who organized the search that found Amy’s body. When that was over, I swore I would never do nonfiction again. It’s too hard to think about someone’s tragic death and the books take years. But along came Maine warden Lt. Pat Dorian, who told me about another hidden body the warden service had found up in Miramichi, New Brunswick. That became a five year project, and Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice.
Roger Guay and his dogs were on both of those searches. So when Roger retired and wanted to write about his 25 year career, but didn’t know how to get the stories from his head to the page, guess who he called? And when gentle advice didn’t work, I ended up in his green pickup truck, driving the back roads around Greenville, holding the recorder while he talked. I discovered that he was a good man, that his dog lore was fascinating, and that he’d probably never get a word down on the page without our unorthodox collaborating method.
Now here’s a question for you: How do you hear about authors and their new books? Should I have a newsletter? Keep an e-mailing list and send you updates? Leave you in peace? Curious authors really want to know.
p.s. Roger and I are giving some lucky reader this lovely pillow, so leave a comment, here or on FB, or visit us at one of our signings, or kindly leave a review at Amazon, and you could be the owner.
“Too much” is never enough. Publicity is the most difficult of difficults. BTW I heard you speak in Belfast at the Library, bought your book about Game Warden Guay….read it, enjoyed it, and have since read some of your mysteries, borrowed from same library.
I thoroughly enjoy Joe Burgess…am waiting for number five. Hope during this wait he is taking time to rest, heal his wounds and enjoy Chris and the children. Thanks for writing.
This book is on my library list. I think I am now next in line. I enjoy reading MCW and do not see a need for a newsletter.
As I busily update my website, write blogs for Maine Crime Writers and other groups, set up talks and signings (new book out next week, and another in late October) I, too, wonder … how can authors best spend their marketing and sales time? We need to write the next book — everyone agrees — but if the current one doesn’t sell well, no publisher will buy the next. So … a constant issue. Glad you brought it up. I’ll be interested in hearing answers to your questions.
I am a new reader of Maine Crime Writers, after going to Belgrade Lakes earlier this month to hear Maureen Milliken speak. I moved back to Maine 3 years ago and have been reading Maine authors, whose books I pick up at the Winslow library where they designate with a stamp of Maine on the binding those books by our talented authors. I have also added several books to my “to read” list after finding the website thru Maureen’s. So, thank you for that! I have also been in contact with our head librarian, Pam, and am pushing for a Maine authors night!
Love the pillow, I have a black lab, Ziggy, at home who wears orange as well.
Readers too have trouble keeping up with what is going on. I, for one, love my authors to have a mailing list ( a newsletter is even better). I understand the importance of first week sales and try to comply but without a warning that “that next book is coming out NEXT Tuesday”, a trip to the bookstore might not happen. I appreciate authors who use multiple tools to keep me informed. I’d rather hear the same thing repeated than to miss something I might care about.
The personal touch of meeting an author is a tipping point for me. I wrote to a couple of my favorite authors and received replies when I was a child. Still have those letters 50 years later. You have certainly done your job trying to balance time to write while promoting books. It is exhausting. Use those questions as a chance to inform readers, carry brochures wherever you go and know that you are doing a good job.
Thank you, Kate. This was good to think about as my first book comes out in January and I and many others are learning from you all as you spread the word on your work. As a reader I think careful use of newsletters really works: letting readers know when you are bringing out new work and sharing reviews apparently does work to boost sales, but I also hear advice that offering a package of early works (creating a set for example) at an usually low price (for a short time) in the newsletter also boosts sales of current work. And Jane Friedman (whom I am sure you already know well ) suggests that newsletters always offer something special beyond book and brand promotion: some special “free” news or insider info that readers can take advantage of. Even if it’s dog training tips from some of Maine’s dog trainers. Or with the promotion of work related to that long search, the wardens’ best tips on what to do if one does get lost or what to teach our children should they get lost. Something relevant, useful, and free. I too am on the library list for “Good Man…..” and looking forward to it. Thank you!