Doing the “Buy My Book” Dance

Kate Flora: I’m just a few weeks away from publication of my 26th book, Teach Her a Lesson, and my to-do list is long. Many of the things on the list are things I should have done six months ago, at least according to the checklists that describe the steps a writer should take leading up to publication. Truth? The very thought of it makes me exhausted.

I do believe that if I’m going to spend months or years (in this case, twelve years) working on a book, the story, and my publisher deserve my best efforts. But those efforts take time and money and I’ve done them so many times before. As I look around my very small, crowded office, the efforts of past book promotions are everywhere. Posters, galleys, newsletters, freebies, author photos, postcards—I’m surrounded by the memories, and memorabilia, of previous book launches.



There’s the giant red paper clip and the cardboard gun that when you snap it through the air puts out a small paper that says “Bang.” There are postcards. There’s the very cool reusable red tote bag that folds up and fits in a tiny pouch.

The sight makes me wish for a Fairy Godmother to flutter down beside me and offer her help. Like Cinderella’s carriage, I could wish that a magic wand could turn my ideas into reality. A swish of the wand and the mailing list has been created. Another swish and a newsletter, that newsletter my readers have been asking for, is written, formatted, and ready to fly. Swish #3 and a bookmark with books on both sides is neatly printed and sitting on my dining room table. As Joe Burgess often remarks, though, wishing rarely makes it so.

For other books, I’ve done flyers listing all of my books, and included a recipe so people will actually take it home and might even read it. I have done newsletters in the past and they also always included one of Thea’s “Quick and Dirty” recipes.

I know. You readers out there a sighing and muttering dark things about a pity party and via mental telepathy telling me to pull up my big girl pants and get on with doing what needs to be done. But what is that? And how much needs to be done? Again, referring to the advice to writers who hate marketing, I am supposed to figure out what I’m comfortable doing, and do that. Of course, what I like to do is write, and obviously I’ve already done that. I like to teach, but that doesn’t do much for book promotion. I love speaking at libraries and to book groups, but that requires me to craft a clever pitch and send out a zillion emails hoping some of the recipients will take the bait.

Of course, I will be doing things to promote the book. I’m so grateful that Encircle Publications liked it. I’ve asked my brilliant and clever friends for quotes for the cover, and the quotes are great. I’ve pulled together my meager graphics skills and created rack cards with the latest Thea Kozak mystery, Death Sends a Message, on one side and Teach Her a Lesson on the other. I’ve had a lovely student in New York City create a short, powerful book trailer. I’ve started on the mailing list for a newsletter.

But if you, out there in reader land, know of a library or book group that would love a talk on how writing fiction and writing true crime make both genres better, or how I keep my series characters fresh after thirty years, or what it’s like to research true crime, or anything else about the writing craft, I am right here…and easy to find. Or if you know someone with marketing skills that an underpaid writer could afford? Or a journalist who might be interested in how a writer sustains a 30+ year career? Send them my way. That’s almost as good as a Fairy Godmother.

And if this works, here’s the book trailer:

The writer in earlier days


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9 Responses to Doing the “Buy My Book” Dance

  1. matthewcost says:

    Right? When is enough enough? Good luck with it all.

  2. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I feel your pain. I used to do blog tours where I had to write witty and pithy posts all over the Internet for thirty days straight and give books away–all the while knowing the readers only commented for a free book and would not ever buy any themselves, LOL. Promotion is the pits. And most conferences don’t want any sort of paper goods. I don’t know the answer, obvs! Good luck!

  3. John Clark says:

    That’s a terrific trailer. I think some of what you feel must be genetic. I love the writing part, everything else…I need a clone on meth with brass balls.

  4. jselbo says:

    Wow – nicely done. Up on YouTube yet?

  5. Julianne Spreng says:

    Don’t know if my reply already posted or not. Apologies if it did. Have your student get it up on YouTube.

  6. kaitcarson says:

    Excellent trailer, Kate. Your student is very talented. I second (or third by now) the suggestion for YouTube

  7. Not my student, actually. Arden was an intern at Three Rooms Press and I poached…


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