In all the excitement of the nomination, I think we may have gotten our wires crossed about a guest blogger for today. Next Tues. will be Louise Ure and then Tess Gerritsen will alternate with her beginning on June 17.
For today, since I couldn’t find our guest’s post, I’m putting up an article I wrote during the first few months of Murderati’s existence. I think the underlying concepts still ring true.
I hope you enjoy it . . . pari )
A few years ago, I was presenting at a retreat sponsored by A Room of Her Own Foundation. Lisa Tucker, a novelist who’d just made a bundle on her first book, was the featured speaker. In an engaging, but absolutely adamant, way — she exhorted the writers there to buy each other’s books rather than always complaining about how little money they had.
Since then, I’ve thought often about her words. During the last two months in particular — I’ve been to three mystery conventions and the L.A. Times Festival of Books. At each event, I’ve met so many authors and seen so many old friends. There’s no way I could begin to buy all their works.
So, how do I put my money and actions where my mouth is? How do I support my fellow authors, my friends in this industry? How can I encourage new authors/writers? How to do all of this while still plugging away at my own craft and the marketing thereof?
I’m not sure where the balance tips into martyrdom or a lack of generosity. Though Lisa suggested buying books as a sign of support, I simply can’t do that as much as I’d like. Even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to read everyone’s works — my life is far too scattered and too full to take hours for that pleasure right now . . . alas.
But I think it’s important to consider how we can tangibly help each other in this odd profession we’ve chosen.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to do it.
I hope some of you respond to this blog with the most satisfying methods you’ve found to support your fellow authors.
1. Post formal reviews and positive comments about someone else’s books on DorothyL, 4MA and other listservs. Do the same for review sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble etc.
Here, it’s important to be honest; I think readers of these electronic missives can smell backscratching as opposed to sincerity.
2. Cross-sell at joint booksignings. One of the most enjoyable hours I ever spent was at the LATFOB when THE CLOVIS INCIDENT first came out in ’04. I sat next to Laura Levine. We cross-sold each other’s books and had a blast. We also became fast friends that day.
3. Take your friends’ promo pieces to the conferences/conventions you attend. I try to do this as often as I can. Their bookmarks/postcards don’t weigh much and, hey, someone might find a new author to read.
4. Ask your library to carry the books of authors you care about. Though the Albuquerque Public Library system is wonderful, I often can’t find books by friends from smaller publishers — or who don’t have major name recognition.
4.a. Ask your favorite bookstore to carry the books of authors you care about. ‘Nuff said.
5. Offer marketing suggestions. Often we can’t see our own best asssets. A fresh pair of eyes might come up with a great idea that can help a friend get the word out. I’ve done this for other people and it’s been wonderful to see that click — the epiphany — when the idea is hot.
6. Talk-up authors you like. If you do, they might get invited to present at conventions/conferences/civic groups/signings. Your good word might land them an interview on television or radio. I do this frequently.
I know it’s tempting to save all our leads for ourselves, but it also feels marvelous to share. At the very least, tell other readers you know about works you enjoy.
7. Find ways to cross-promote. Celebrate friends’ successes. We’re doing it right here on this blog. It’s wonderful not to feel like you’re alone on the publishing path.
8. Show newer authors the ropes (if they want the info). I try to be accessible to newer authors. If they want the benefit of my meager experience, I’m glad to help them avoid the mistakes I’ve made — and gain from my smarter efforts.
9. Use your websites to promote others. Yep. This gets into link exchanges and that kind o’ thing. I think these are moderately useful. One problem, though, is that strangers ask you to link as well. Personally, I don’t do that. If I don’t know the author or his/her work, I won’t exchange links because it doesn’t feel honest to recommend someone in that way.
Related to this is posting on other authors’ blogs. It’s a good way to converse and help them attract more posters.
10. Commiserate. There are times when all another author needs is someone who understands and who can keep what’s said — or written in an email — confidential. I know this has been one of the biggest ways I’ve been able to support friends in the business. They’ve shown me the same kindness.
The ways I’ve found to support other authors abound. The ones I mention above are those that came to mind while writing this piece.
To me, it’s important to try to see beyond our own careers and to be positive citizens in our mystery community. If we do, we’ll strengthen our genre and create goodwill every step of the way.
Please, if you have other ideas about how we can support each other, post it here. We can all learn from your experience. I know I’m ready for more ideas.