Over on Murder Must Advertise, there’s been a lively discussion about marketing etiquette. It began when author Sunny Frazier mentioned that she’d recently found herself selling her books — quite by accident — at a funeral.
It reminded me of my trip last month to Boulder, CO for the memorial service for my husband’s uncle. I didn’t know many of the people gathered to celebrate Frank Abbott’s life. At meals, when people asked me what I did for a living, I told them. When they wanted more info, I gave them a flier. (Yep, I always carry marketing materials with me.)
Later, I had this uncomfortable feeling — as if I’d done something uncouth — perhaps it was the juxtaposition of spiritual solemnity of eternity with the crass present-tense of self-promotion.
But the experience made me wonder about that wiggly line between effective marketing and obnoxiousness. What one person enjoys, another finds repugnant. It’s tough to gauge what reaction you’ll get.
I err on the side of intuition, of sussing out a person’s vibe and interest before mentioning my work.
Still, in the nearly three years since THE CLOVIS INCIDENT entered the world, I’ve sold books to my dentist, my kids’ doctors, teachers, occupational therapists, summer camp workers, PTA members, massage therapists, cashiers at the local Whole Foods and Smiths. I’ve sold my work while waiting to check out of a store. I’ve walked up to a guy in the mystery section at one of the Borders in town and told him, "Buy my book." And, he did. I’ve sold books at the Roswell UFO Festival, the Belen Harvey House, at campgrounds, coffee houses, on airplanes, in bars, luncheon meetings, at festivals, in a bathroom . . .
It’s not. It’s fun.
I love the marketing aspect of my job. The only downside to it is that it takes me away from my writing.
Speaking of which . . .
Today, while you read this, I’ll probably be in transit to Nashville, TN for a presentation to the Sisters in Crime chapter there. I don’t know if five or fifty people will show up. For me, it’ll be a chance to plant seeds in new soil AND to see J.T. (and Mary Saums and J.B. Thompson)!
Even if I can’t check in much to read your comments, I’d still love to hear about the crazy places you’ve either bought a book — or sold one.
Come on. Make us all laugh.
Don Strel, a wonderful photographer and renaissance man in Santa Fe, took this picture last year. I saw it for the first time in the program at the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Albuquerque last week and liked it so much I asked if I could use it.
I’ve never thought of myself as particularly vain but, with middle age, a lack of confidence has wormed its way into my self-image. From my perspective, pix of me often emphasize my double chin, making it look like a terraced rice paddy. And, I seem kind of, well, dumpy and ill-defined, a melted beeswax candle.
Don managed to capture how I see myself.