Sunday, October 5, 2014

On Writing — By The Numbers, A Marketing State Of Mind

Next year, publishers will release two new mysteries of mine. The manuscript work is done.  So, for the moment, marketing has replaced murder as a focus of my day. Therefore, I’ve been looking at ways to present my new books in a positive light. in a way that would promote sales or at least attention. This is a necessary, but irritating part of being a writer.

I think it is in the nature of many writers (bookstore workers and librarians — in short, bookish people) to shy away from pubic displays. And yet we must.  In the age of social media, writers take on additional responsibility in the effort to gain attention for our books and justify our existence.  This we must do in an ever-larger marketplace  where every book, e-book and audio book screams ‘look at me!”

Just Released: A New Crider
In the end it is the story and “word of mouth” that determine a novel’s ultimate success. Still, one has to find a way to get things started. One criterion to use when picking a book by an author you do not know (or perhaps no longer remember) is whether or not he or she has been published before. Is there a history?  While there is the excitement of discovering the next Hammett or Christie, there’s also comfort in knowing the author is reputable, vetted in a sense, and therefore worth the gamble of a reader’s time and money.

So, here’s something I came up with: One of my books due out on May is one of the Deets Shanahan mysteries. It is the 11th book in the series’ 25-year history. These are good numbers, right?  And by the fall of 2015, when the second book is released, I will have a total of 18 mystery novels to list on that “Other Works By” page in the front of each book.  Surely this is something. Maybe.  I’m not sure.  There’s always a faster gun. just like there’s always someone with ore money.  No matter how rich you are there’s always someone who has more numbers on the left of the decimal point. So, what is a good number here?

Just Released: A New Gorman
I am reminded that author Bill Crider, whose blog I read every morning, has published 60 or more novels.  And they are still coming.  Ed Gorman, whose blog I also read every morning, has a similar number of published works.  And he keeps adding to the list.  Perhaps I should take a different marketing direction. Compared to many others, my personal tally is no big deal.  In fact, there are plenty of other highly respected and prolific writers to put me in my middling place. Many, like those mentioned above, have awards, citations and other honors in addition to their impressive “published” list.

One of Creasey's 600
To further rain on my pitiful parade, during my research for a blog post capsulizing the year 1962, I came across the name, J. J. Marric.  He won the Edgar that year for Gideon’s Fire.  To my shame, I had never heard the name.  I looked him up.  Marric was a pen name.  His real name was John Creasey and he wrote 600 novels. I say— “600 novels,” as Foghorn Leghorn would have repeated in his blustery way. The mystery and science fiction writer used 28 pen names and God knows how many pens. Some of you already knew that, I suspect.  But I was overwhelmed. 600. I have 18.  All is not lost, however.   He’s dead. That gives me a strategic advantage. To catch up, to really make a difference, all I need to do is write 582 more novels. I do understand that because I’m just a couple of months shy of 70, I’d better step on it.

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