Authors and readers both know that book reviews are an important part of the world of books. Today my guest is Edith Maxwell, who tell us some of the things she has done to get early reviews of her books. Comments are, as always, very welcome. Readers - what do you review, and how do reviews affect your book choices? Authors - more ideas? ~ Sheila
Thanks so much, Sheila, for having me over. I want to share my experiences with finding reviewers and readers.
I think reaching out to readers is the most important thing a writer can do and it can also be the hardest. How do I find the community of readers who enjoy reading my genre of mystery, who want to read about my particular characters and setting, and who are willing to buy the book or request that their library do so?
I know a lot of writers by now. Some I’ve met in person, some only online, and all are really generous and supportive. Most mystery writers are also readers, but they add up to a small subset of all mystery readers.
Because I am the kind of person who likes to stay in touch, I have a lot of personal friends from the various wide-ranging parts of my life. Hey Facebook, I love ya! I also have an Author page but the personal and the author news often comingle.
I have Friended and Tweet-followed a whole bunch of people. Who knows if they even see my little 140-character messages?
How do I find my readers? I love writing but I want people to read the book, and if they do, I will make some money so I can keep writing. If I get advance reviews and positive reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, more readers will know about my books.
My first mystery (written under pen name Tace Baker), Speaking of Murder, is set in a small New England town and fictional college. Lauren Rousseau is a Quaker linguistics professor who finds her star student dead on campus. Her boyfriend works in video forensics and helps solve the mystery. So I tried to reach out to linguists on twitter by using the #linguistics hashtag and asked several linguists to review it with zero results. I also reached out to video editors But no reviews, as far as I know.
With A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, my first Local Foods mystery (May, 2013), I have a publicist from a major publisher, Kensington, working for me. She sent advance review copies out all over the place; she also sent me a boxful to distribute. Publisher’s Weekly gave me a positive review, which is huge. Edible Boston is recommending my book on their summer reading list and I was interviewed by a newspaper north of Boston.
I’ve been trying very hard to reach out to farmers and local foods enthusiasts. I took out a year’s worth of ads in the Northeast Organic Farming Association newsletter, which goes out to ten thousand subscribers. A farmer in northern California and his wife both read the book and wrote glowing reviews on Goodreads. I have signings lined up at local farmers' markets and big farm stands.
I also sponsored two Goodreads givewaways, for five books each, spaced a month apart, and so far got one review, but several hundred added the book to their Want to Read lists.
But it’s a hard slog for a writer who’d rather just be at her desk creating the next book! Have you found a creative or unusual way to reach reviewers and readers? What has worked and what hasn’t? If you’re a reader, how would you like to be approached?
Here's the opening of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die
Cam hung the pitchfork on the back wall of her antique barn with a tired hand. The scent of sun on old wood mixed with the aroma of fresh scallions, well-oiled machinery, and a couple of centuries of farmers. Thirty new customers were due at the farm over the next two hours to pick up the first of their weekly farm shares, and she hoped she was ready. She was about to turn back to her errant farmhand when she spied an unfamiliar plastic jug on a shelf behind the organic products. She extracted it and examined the red-and-green label. What the heck? She whirled, then strode toward the middle of the barn.
“What’s this doing here?” Cam pushed the jug toward a disheveled Mike Montgomery, who faced her in a wide stance, tattooed arms crossed, breath reeking of alcohol despite the noon hour.
“How would I know?” The young man glanced at the container and then examined the fingernails on his left hand.
Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries. A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die introduces organic farmer Cam Flaherty and a Locavore Club (Kensington Publishing, May 2013). Edith once owned and operated the smallest certified-organic farm in Essex County, Massachusetts.
Edith Maxwell also authored, under the pseudonym Tace Baker, Speaking of Murder (Barking Rain Press) featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau. Edith holds a PhD in linguistics and is a long-time member of Amesbury Monthly Meeting of Friends.
A mother and former technical writer, Edith is a fourth-generation Californian but lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats.