Finding Your Audience by Susan C. Shea

Very happy to welcome to the blog Susan Shea, whose book The King’s Jar is out today. The King’s Jar is the follow-up to Murder in the Abstract, the book which introduced Dani O’Rourke, chief fundraiser at San Francisco’s prestigious Devor Museum of Art and Antiquities. As she did in her first outing, The King’s Jar once again finds Dani at the center of a mystery, this time involving the murder of a renowned archaeologist. Today, Susan explains why many authors find themselves feeling just as uncomfortable and fish out of water as Dani does trying to solve a mystery when it comes time for them to self-promote.

Susan C. SheaEvery week, I get email invitations, blog announcements, and Twitter feeds offering me advice on how to reach people who will buy my book. Some of the advice is achievable at the individual effort level: Join Facebook, open a Twitter account, get busy on Goodreads, ask your local bookstore if you can read there.

Some of the advice requires a little help if you’re not tech-savvy: Create a lively web site, produce a newsletter, manage your tweets so you are visible to special sets of people, offer to do Skype book club events. You don’t have to be technologically proficient but it also takes time to set up library and club talks and visit the shrinking number of local newspapers that actually carry book reviews and author interviews.

Then there are the Big Deal suggestions: solicit reviews by credible critics, set up a real (that is to say, on-the-ground) tour to a city or region, hire a p.r. person to get you interviews, t.v. appearances, get Oprah to choose your book for her millions of devoted followers.

Susan C. SheaIf you have written the ultimate Steak and Potatoes diet book, a brilliant how-to volume on finding a mate in the 21st century, or a memoir about you and Brad Pitt, a lot of this will take care of itself. But if you’re like me, a ‘genre author’ (mysteries in my case) with a pretty good debut book behind you and one that’s getting good reviews but hasn’t caused Amazon’s pre-order website to crash, the business of promoting your book is harder. And there’s another complication if you have a contract and a deadline by which the next book is due. Oh, you need time to write, says my inner voice with a snort?

I’m gobsmacked by crime fiction writers I’m lucky enough to know – like Catriona McPherson, Rhys Bowen, and Cara Black – who are simultaneously researching, writing, revising, promoting, going to conventions, and who have many books – even multiple series – in print. They’re like the juggler-acrobat-singer-tumblers at a Cirque de Soleil show. How do they do it, keep their figures, and smile all the while?

I have a lot to learn. I’m still at the clumsy three-ball juggling stage. For me, one of the biggest challenges is asking. Funny because I used to ask people for large sums of money when I was a non-profit fundraising exec. And Dani O’Rourke, my amateur sleuth protagonist, does it all the time without flinching in her work for the Devor Museum. But asking for a good cause outside yourself is massively different from asking for yourself.

So here I am today, the grateful guest on Elizabeth White’s blog, happy for the chance to talk with her readers, hoping that THE KING’S JAR, the second in the Dani O’Rourke series, will sound interesting enough that you’ll drop into my new website, read more about my writing, and sample the new book.

There, it wasn’t so hard, was it? Remember to smile…

Susan C Shea writes the Dani O’Rourke Mystery series. The first is Murder in the Abstract and the sequel is The King’s Jar, published May 1. To learn more about Susan, visit her website.
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1 Comment

  • Bette Golden Lamb

    May 1, 2013 - 12:57 pm

    Good piece, Susan. Describes writers frustrations to a tee.
    Good luck with the new novel. Look forward to reading the second in the series.
    Best,
    Bette & J. J.

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