The Mystery of Publicity

On Saturday night, Dan and I were heading out to dinner when he stopped to check his e-mail. “Hey, there’s a Google alert about you and the L.A. Times.”

Since Google alerts snag lots of flotsam, including my own Twitter updates, I didn’t get excited. “Maybe somebody mentioned me in a blog post and they have a link to the paper on their site,” I suggested. “Let’s go.”

“Look, it’s your book cover. It’s with books by Lee Child, John le Carré, Dennis Lehane, John Grisham… hold on, Tom Clancy? You’re on a list with Tom Clancy!”

“Let me see that.” I stared at his computer screen. The L.A. Times book section had its own gift guide. There were the covers of mystery and thriller titles, lined up in neat row after row. Michael Connelly. Linda Fairstein. Joseph Wambaugh. Stuart Neville. And me.

Staring at the list made me late for dinner. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. How did it happen? I still don’t know. But aside from the fact that the article made my weekend, it made me think about the mysterious world of book publicity.

Months before THE DAMAGE DONE came out, I was trying to talk editors I’ve worked with into covering the book. The problem I came up against over and over was that the magazines I’ve written for — well, the ones that are still in business, at least — don’t offer much in the way of book coverage. That forced me to think creatively about who might be interested in the novel, and approach them. (Since the book’s main character, Lily Moore, is a travel writer, I was able to convince some travel media that is was worth covering, even though 90% of the book takes place in New York.) I know that some of the publicity is the result of efforts from two wonderful, hard-working people: Aisha Cloud, my Forge publicist, and Rita Silva, my Fenn publicist (H.B. Fenn is the Canadian distributor of the book).

Then there’s a whole crew of mystery bloggers and writers and librarians and fans who’ve done so much to spread the word. Some examples: Jen Forbus, who has mentioned my work on her blog so many times I’ve lost count; she also made a three-hour drive to see me — and interview me — at my 10am event at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. Keith Rawson, who got me into the first issue of the reborn CrimeFactory (and its upcoming anthology), and who came to the Poisoned Pen to see me and interview me on his wedding anniversary (I need to thank his awesome wife, Alicia, for that, too). Steve Weddle, who put me in the first issue of Needle, hosted an amazing flash-fiction challenge, interviewed me by e-mail and by phone, and has demonstrated over and over that he’s a force of nature. And the CrimeSpree family — Jon and Ruth Jordan, and Jennifer Jordan — have done so much to spread the word about the book, from featuring me in the magazine to inviting me to Murder & Mayhem in Muskego 2011.

There’s a very long list of people I need to thank by name, but right now I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported my book. The fact that you would buy the book, write about it, come to meet me in person… all of that means so much to me. I’m so grateful.

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