Monday, September 26, 2011

Promoting in a Pack -- By Ann Parker

When it comes to promoting, some authors go it alone, by choice or necessity. However, as someone with a “pack mentality,” I’m here to sing the praises of group promotion. Promoting with others allows you to…

·       Plan together: From “where should we go?” to “should we have giveaways?” you’ve got others to bounce ideas off of.

·       Share the workload: Divvy up your contact lists so one person doesn’t have to make all the calls or send all the emails. Too, if there’s a design whiz amongst you, she can design a flyer promoting your “group tour.”

·       Share the costs: Materials, mailing, and travel (gas, hotel) expenses are more manageable when shared. And let’s not forget the good “environmental karma” you’ll rack up by carpooling, using one flyer to hawk three authors, and so on.

·       Offer a “two-fer,” “three-fer,” etc. to bookstores, libraries, etc.: In my experience, most brick ‘n mortar venues prefer hosting an event with multiple authors. They can advertise once, prepare once, and (fingers crossed) get more people in the doors.

·       Encourage cross-fertilization: People who are interested in your fellow author might, upon meeting you, decide to give your book a try… and vice versa!

·       Avoid awkward moments: During the event, if there’s a dead silence from the crowd, you can ask each other questions. Similarly, you can feed each other straight lines and set up each other’s stories.

Group benefits apply in the virtual world as well. Do you find daily blogging just too much to handle? You are not alone, trust me. Find others of a like mind and create or join a group blog. For instance, I co-administrate a group blog, The LadyKillers, which has fourteen authors. Most post once every two weeks, with a few splitting one slot and posting just once a month. The big pluses of this arrangement: the blog has new post up every day, and we look out for each other, promoting/commenting on each other’s posts and creating a conversation. Among the things we do to make The LadyKillers work smoothly are the following:

·       Have weekly “themes,” scheduled out about six months in advance. Although blogging on the theme isn’t required, it prevents the last-minute “what the heck am I going to blog about?” panics.

·       Have two co-administrators for the blog. Mysti Berry and I back up each other, and the blogsters know they can call on either of us for help, should the need arise.

·       Have a private yahoo group. Allows us to post messages to the group. We also use the yahoo calendar function to list who blogs when and what the themes are.

·       Have “emergency posts” ready to go. We try to encourage all the LadyKillers to schedule their posts to go live just after midnight. If someone forgets (it happens), or has trouble getting the post up (that happens too), we have some back-up quotes in the yahoo group files that can be slapped up by any LadyKiller when they see a posting is missing/late for the day.

If you want to give group promotion a try, here are some tips from my “partners in crime” for making your group effort run smoothly:

·       Approach authors you know or have heard speak elsewhere, so that you know their styles/personalities and yours will “mesh.”

·       Find a catchy title for your group, something that underlines your commonalities or plays up your differences. It can be as simple as “Mavens of Mystery,” “Historical Murder and Mayhem” etc.

·       Appoint a “moderator” from amongst you, if your group is three or more, for each event. The moderator can keep a list of agreed-upon questions handy, be sure everyone gets heard, and handle the audience Q&A.

·       Read the works of your partners-in-crime, or at least be able to sound like you have. Compliment each other: praise always sounds better coming from someone else. So, next time you have a book coming out the chute, maybe there are other folks you can join forces with to bring the power of numbers to promotion.


Ann Parker is a California-based science/corporate writer by day and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush series, featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert, is set in 1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The latest in her series, MERCURY’S RISE, will be released November 1.

Leave a comment on this post to be eligible to win one of the Silver Rush mysteries! Winner will be announced later this week.


  1. Hi, Ann,

    As a relatively shy person, I really like your idea of working with a group of other writers for promotion.

    Blogging as a group is great because it really is too demanding to keep up with a daily blog if you're serious about writing.

  2. I agree - working in a group tends to do better all around. The problem with some authors is finding like-minded or other writers in the same genre as they are and with some of the smaller or more cozy events, it is encouraged not to split the table, et cetera (I do homeschool conferences and small events like that so it is rather difficult to split a table with other folks). I would love to have some other children's authors to share expenses with when doing events - but alas, I must tow my own boat for the most part - lol. Eventually I'll get my big break and won't have to worry about expenses because the books will be supporting me instead of me supporting them. Thanks for posting - very informatative blog posting - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery (coming soon)

    Ma America, The Travelin' Maven
    Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series
    Where will the adventure take you next?

  3. Hello Jacqueline!
    As a relatively shy author myself, I can heartily recommend this particular road to promotion. Take a glance at my Appearances page ( and you'll see that *all* my events feature at least a partner. Even the Book, Inc., venue is a Sisters in Crime group event. :-)

  4. What a great idea, Ann. I hope I can find another local author or two when I'm ready to go on a booktour to join me. I will have to start networking...


  5. Hi Elle!
    Yep, it's all a matter of networking and finding people who "mesh" well with your personal style. Even authors from different genres can make things work: romance and mystery, for instance. Or fiction and non-fiction. It's a matter of finding the commonalities, or clever ways to highlight the differences. :-)

  6. As a founding and active member (he said with un pardonable pride) of one of the longest-lived and most successful groups THE MINNESOTA CRIME WAVE, I'm here to subscribe to everything Ann wrote. The positive stuff anyway. and, you must know we have a web site!!

  7. Ann,

    As usual you get to the heart of the matter. I love that you enumerate each point and make it sound so easy and useful. As a fan of you and your work...well let's just say, I can't wait for more.


  8. Hello Carl,
    Three cheers for Minnesota Crime Wave! I knew "the Wave" has been around for quite a while, but didn't realize *how* long. Just emphasizes the longevity of efforts such as these, when the work is shared...

  9. Hello Doris!
    Well, thank you so much. :-) I know that you often do events with other re-enactors, right? Group efforts go in many directions!

  10. Great idea! As a reader, I'm more likely to go to an event where I can hear multiple authors. And if they share a genre, chances are I'll find new authors to try.

  11. Thank you, March Hare, for commenting!
    Authors: Please take note of what the March Hare says, because I've heard the same remark from other readers... The more the merrier, and pass the tea, please! ;-)

  12. You make a great case, Ann!

    I'd like to emphasize one point in particular: it's more fun for the authors! Writing can be very solitary, and as a NOT shy person, I'm grateful for being able to share so much with other authors, through networking sites like MMA as well as through group appearances.

  13. Good advice--sounds like these would be a lot of fun, too.

  14. MARCH HARE is the lucky winner of a Silver Rush mystery of his/her choice! March Hare, please contact me at annparker(at)
    And thank you all for stopping in and commenting; it's been a lovely conversation!
    And thank you, Jeff, for hosting me on my mini-BBT!