Hello, Goodbye

By Allison Brennan


I couldn’t leave Murderati without one last post, and Pari graciously gave me the first “Expect the Unexpected” Tuesday in the new configuration of this great blog.

I enjoy blogging, but as all of you know, and all the writers out there know, blogging takes time away from writing and family. I had to make a choice, and blogging weekly (twice a month here, twice a month at Murder She Writes) in addition to guest blogs here and there and all the other social media things on my author to-do list was kind of stressing me out. Everything was taking away from my writing time and my kids. Something had to give, and unfortunately, it was this blog.

But I’m sure I’ll pop up on occasion, if the gang will have me as a visitor. πŸ™‚

I’ve thought a lot about social media over the past year or two, and what is expected from authors. To be accessible, to share our thoughts, to answer questions.

Blogging is only part of it. (And, to be honest, when I founded Murder She Writes with four other authors six years ago, we did it partly because we thought it would be good promotion, and partly because we liked each other and enjoyed chatting with others through the blog about family, writing, entertainment.) But there’s also Twitter, and Facebook, and LinkedIn, and Google+, and a dozen other social media avenues that “they” say you have to be part of in order to survive in this New World of publishing.

There are many, many authors who aren’t part of the on-line community. And many, many authors who are. The only way it truly works is if the author builds a rapport, which means talking about things OTHER than their books. And that means, they should enjoy the community they’re in. Otherwise, it’s a chore, a hated chore, like cleaning grout. And people pick up on that.

Social media works primarily if the author can create a following of readers who will sincerely talk up their books and spread the word of mouth that is essential to the success of any book. In fact, if you ask most publicists and marketing folks, they’ll tell you that word of mouth is the single most effective tool to create a bestseller–but there’s no one way and no guaranteed way to generate it.

Let’s pretend there are ten equally “good” books out on a given day. A lot of things factor into making a potential bestseller — cover, co-op, reviews, author (if it’s a known author), endorsements, cover copy, placement — and some work for some readers, some for others. But the way to make a title move higher is for people to recommend the book (or the author) to others. To talk about the book on blogs. And Twitter. And Facebook. But no one knows how to create that world of mouth–on the Internet or face-to-face–each and every time. They try everything, but what works for one book or author might not work for another equally good book or author.

But we sometimes forget because we spend so much time at our computers writing (and participating on blogs and twitter and facebook) that more than half the readers are still not reading electronic books (22% of my books are sold as e-books) and many readers still rely on the recommendation from their colleague or sister or best friend.

What this practically means for authors is that we have more to do with less time and resources. We can’t neglect the online communities, nor can we forget that there are “offline” communities who read just as much.

So my advice to writers: participate in the communities that you enjoy, don’t self-market all the time, and focus on the writing first. Because none of the social media matters if you don’t have a book to sell.

My advice to readers: share your books with others. Recommend authors you like, either face-to-face or on the Internet. Email the author of a book you enjoyed and tell her.

And a caveat to all: give both, writers and readers, then benefit of the doubt when you hear rumors in cyberspace. Misunderstandings spread instantly in the virtual world, and can damage careers and reputations. People seem to think that they can say anything they want because it’s “anonymous,” but I’d argue that character is judged by what you do when no one is looking–or when no one knows who you are.

I can be found in cyberspace at my website, of course, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Murder She Writes.

FYI: The third Lucy Kincaid book, IF I SHOULD DIE, will be out two weeks from today, on November 22. So far, the reviews have been positive. Fresh Fiction said, “β€œNon-stop action, spine-tingling suspense … a wonderful addition to a great series.” And Joyfully Reviewed made DIE a Recommended Read for December. β€œIf I Should Die is a spine-tingling chiller that will wrap you up in its mystery and take you on a heart-pounding race to the breathtaking finale!”

In addition, the novella LOVE IS MURDER is printed in the book as bonus material. You get a full-length book plus a full novella for a single book, mass market price. Cool, eh?

And a sneak peak at the fourth Lucy Kincaid book, SILENCED, and the first with my new publisher, St. Martin’s/Minotaur. They’re taking the series in an exciting new direction, don’t you think? And that’s what I’m doing now — revising this book. I have two weeks. Any wonder why I needed to free up some time?

I’ve very much enjoyed my three-plus years here at Murderati. We had a great little community amongst ourselves, and within our regulars who comment or lurk. Pari and J.T. have really created a fantastic, enduring blog, and I’m glad it’s continuing to exist. Thank you, Murderati gang, for having me back for the day, even if it was just to say good-bye.

21 thoughts on “Hello, Goodbye

  1. Sarah W

    Word of mouth is so, so important. When someone truly lights up about a book, it's difficult to resist trying it out. Heaven knows I accost people all the time with my favorites . . .

    Thanks for all your amazing posts here, Allison. I'll miss you here, but I'll be checking out Murder She Writes.

  2. Pari Noskin

    This better NOT be your last blog here. If it is, we'll come find you.

    What you write about social media is so true. If an author doesn't enjoy using it, then she shouldn't. People are becoming more and more savvy; they know when they're being played.

    WOM — Word of Mouth. The holy grail. Everyone talks about creating buzz etc; that's the principle behind it — WOM. Blogs and other social media such as Twitter can occasionally manufacture that result, but they're not guaranteed vehicles. I'd rather focus my energy on writing.

  3. susannefrost@rogers.com

    Loved reading your posts, but understand why you're leaving. You're one of my favourite authors so a little part of me is pleased that you'll be spending more time creating fabulous characters for me to read.

    Will miss you.

    Best wishes,


  4. ZoΓ« Sharp

    You're quite right – Word of Mouth is by far the best way to build buzz. Getting people to hear about the book in order to read it and talk about it in the first place is the tricky bit πŸ™‚

    Health, luck and happiness, Allison. Hope to see you again here soon!

  5. David Corbett

    Take care, Allison. Thanks for being so supportive and helpful as I eased my way in to the Murderati routine. Best of luck in all things, and may all the games you attend for your kids be victories.

  6. Jessica Scott

    Something always has to give and you know, you shouldn't feel the least bit bad about it. Life is way too short to do something that you're not passionate about and even if you started out that way, sometimes, stepping away is the right thing to do, even when it's the hardest thing to do.
    I love checking out everyone's posts here at Murderati and I'll continue to read and keep caught up here but you, dear Allison, will be missed. Thank you for the thought provoking posts and the always relevant doses of reality and I'll see you over on MurderSheWrites.

  7. Lisa Alber

    I've enjoyed your posts on this blog, and I'm glad to know that you'll still be blog-accessible through "Murder She Writes" (which I haven't read, actually, but now I'll check it out).

    As a novelist working with an agent to hopefully (fingers crossed!) sell my first novel, I wonder about WOM all the time. Seems overwhelming already, and I'm just a blog reader and irregular blogger! When it comes time to really do it…well, my mind just went blank thinking about it. πŸ™‚

    Your advice about participating in the communities we enjoy makes sense–Murderati is a great one.

  8. Allison Brennan

    Reine: I love that you always take the time to comment, to let us know we're not blogging in a vacuum, and your contributions to the discussion. Thank you!

    Sarah: My mom introduced me to some of my favorite authors, and I also introduced her to some. My best pal Trish, when we worked together in the Capitol, used to swap books all the time. We'd take a lunch time walk around the park, but instead of talking, we'd both be reading … LOL.

    B.E. — Thank you. I was here for more than three years, but I founded MSW 6 years ago and I don't think I could walk away from that. It's why JT is only on hiatus, because sometimes you need a break, but you can't abandon your baby! I definitely need more writing time. I think my writing itself is better, but it's so much harder now than it used to be. I think because I see the problems earlier and spend a lot more time trying to write better books each time, and fear I won't be able to. So it takes longer …

    Pari: Exactly. Social media can be creatively draining, and we all need to write first, chat second. And I'd love to pop in now and again on a Tuesday just to catch up, and I'll be reading Murderati as often as I can.

    Thank you so much Susanne! I'm thrilled you enjoy my books, and I hope to keep up my writing pace.

    Zoe, you ID'd the problem — how to get people to read the book in the first place. And that, truly, is the role of the publisher through co-op, reviews, blog tours, marketing, cover design, etc. And if the publisher is the author, it makes the author's job twice as difficult. Two different sides of the brain at work. It's why I have a hard time writing when I have a book coming out because of all the other things that I have to do during the release month.

    David, what a great send-off! I'm glad you came on board, even though you always made me feel a little inferior because you're so smart πŸ™‚ … as far as victories, my 8 year old lost their first soccer game and sometimes, being a gracious loser is an important lesson. (Though, as she pointed out, she scored the only goal on our side. I warned her about hubris.) Now I just hope they win their last two games! LOL.

    Jessica, thank you! And good luck with YOUR new release next week! How exciting!

    Thanks Gar, I'll look for the beacon πŸ™‚

    Good luck with your submission, Lisa! And don't stress over the social media. Do what is comfortable, and expand on that. But start writing your next book, if you haven't already. Follow up one good book with a second and repeat πŸ™‚

  9. Reine

    Allison, thank you. I'm glad you will come back now and then, but it feels like my next-door neighbor is moving . . . and who will come over for coffee now . . . ?

  10. Lisa Alber

    Wash (write), rinse (revise), and repeat!

    This social media thing is addictive, isn't it? (Here I am–again.) Or maybe that's just me because I don't get out enough, don't drink enough red wine, and don't have enough of a love life…:-).

    Anyhow, I can see why you need to lighten your load so you have more time for writing (and kids)! (Back to work now — yes, the next novel!)

  11. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I love you, girl, and I'll miss you dearly. One of the best times I've had as an author was our bus tour of famous L.A. murder sights with James Ellroy. It was cool that we got to share that.
    You'll always have a Tuesday spot here at Murderati.

  12. Allison Davis

    Keep coming to visit. Not many of us who spell our name correctly. And we'll drop in on your other blog now and again.

    What I hate about social media is that I was prefectly happy on Twitter and then my sister kept traveling to Haiti for her work and the only way to stay updated was to get on Facebook, the ultimate time suck. So we all get this. Write long and prosper.

  13. KDJames

    Allison, when I first started lurking over here, I'd met Alex and knew who Toni was from comments on another blog, but you and Tess were the only two writers here at the time whose books I'd ever read (and I've read pretty much all of them — huge fan of both of you). I think that's why I lurked so long before commenting. I was completely intimidated by the thought of saying anything to either of you. πŸ™‚

    It's been nice getting to know you from the little bits you've shared about your personal life, but what has been invaluable to me is what you've shared about your writing process. Thank you so much for making the time and putting the effort into educating those of us who are still learning.

    I'm a faithful lurker at MSW, so I'll see you over there. (And on a selfish note: I really really wish you all would adjust your RSS feed so it shows entire posts rather than just the first few lines. I get behind on reading when I have to click on the actual blog, and then end up reading a week or two worth of posts on the weekend.)

    BTW, I do expect you to come back over here and tell us about all future encounters with Men In Uniform. With pictures.

  14. Barbie

    I'll miss your blog posts, but I know where to find you. And find you. And find you. And find you. LOL. I know I'm one step below stalker :)))) BUT, I know you keep me around because I'm cute, sweet, funny, smart, but most specially, but I'm the best at the word of mouth thing, because when I like something — and you know I REALLY, REALLY like your books, especially the Lucy Kincaid series!!!! — I'll tell everyone, their sister, the mailman and his hairdresser about it, I'll post about it online, I'll buy multiple copies, I'll give it as gifts, because I truly do like talking about the stories and characters that touch me and make my world a better place. As long as the authors keep writing them, it doesn't matter where they blog, whether they blog — I was talking about books way before internet even came along. I was talking about my favorite books on pre school show and tell. And I'll always continue to do so πŸ™‚

  15. Denis Paxton

    I've been just lurking in the background but i've always enjoyed reading your posts and was learning too. Thanks for letting us know where else to catch you online! Cheers on your projects.

  16. Allison Brennan

    @ Lisa — thanks! You totally get it πŸ™‚

    @ Stephen — I had a great time with you on that trip, and I always enjoy talking with you. I love how you beam when you talk about your kids. Definitely keep in touch.

    @ Allison — LOL, it is a big time suck! I like chatting on facebook and twitter, which is one of my problems. I know I need to step back sometimes.

    @ Tom — Thanks!

    @ KD — thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoy my books, I hope to write many more. And I love chatting with readers. I'm a reader, too πŸ™‚ … I will definitely post more pics from my research trips. I was offered another SWAT training exercise, but it's in the middle of my short revision deadline, so I had to turn it down. Believe me, I wanted to go! But there will be more opportunities.

    @ Barbie — you're my own personal word of mouth, and I thank you! I'm so glad you like Lucy, because she's near and dear to my heart and I'm thrilled to be writing at least three more books in her series.

    @Phillipa — thank you, and it was great getting to know you through Murderati!

    @Denis, thanks! And I'll come back to visit now and then, because I love Murderati.

    And on that note — thanks everyone. I'm really going to miss hanging here.

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