Sunday, November 18, 2012


More than any other book I've produced, Hang Fire (to be published next April 19) requires a lot of sweaty self-promotion.

This is because Five Star/Gale Cengage, Hang Fire's publisher, is a small specialty house that markets its books chiefly to libraries as well as online vendors—not to bookstores. It does some promotion within the markets to which its books are aimed: it sends review copies to the advance services (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist) and to certain review media. But it expects its authors to shoulder most of the promotion burden—sending review copies to newspapers and magazines and pitching their books on social media as well as asking bookstores and libraries to host autographings and presentations.

Big publishers still have promotion and publicity departments that do these things, but I suspect that many of them have cut back their staffs and increasingly are relying on their "midlist" (non-best-selling) authors to hawk their own wares.

Fortunately this isn't something I've had to learn from scratch. Being a book review editor for more than 30 years as well as publishing six books with large New York houses gave me some experience with the most effective ways to reach an audience.

My Steve Martinez novels are regional mysteries and their audiences are largely regional readers. Hence I'm focusing my promotion efforts on bookstores and libraries in northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the northern reaches of Lower Michigan. And so in December I'm sending out publicity packages that I've put together from advance reading copies and cover letters. (ARCs have already gone out to a number of newspapers, including a couple of national publications that cover mystery novels extensively.)

If I'm lucky, I'll get enough responses to put together an author tour through the Lake Superior region.

The tour, by the way, will begin down in Forest Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, where in May I'll do a presentation and autographing at Centuries & Sleuths, the traditional (and much appreciated) launching venue for Chicago-area mystery authors.

That's 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, Centuries & Sleuths, 7419 W. Madison, Forest Park, Ill.

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