Monday, April 28, 2008

If it’s Monday, it must be…

Patty here…

I arrived home this morning at 3:00 a.m., which means I’m midway through my marathon zigzag tour between the left and right coasts of the United States. Romantic Times in Pittsburgh a week ago. Malice Domestic in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. I’ll be home for two days, and then I’m off to New York to present an award at the Edgars in New York, returning in time to attend the Palm Springs Book Fair on Sunday. ( I know, I know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

This was only my second Malice. I know more people now, including my new BFFs at The Mystery Chix, including Lois Greiman, Roberta Islieb, CJ Lyons, and Hank Phillippi Ryan who won the Agatha for Best First Mystery. I also met some diehard Naked Authors fans who could recite their favorite posts and a few readers who actually knew who I was. In this business, the best moments are when a fan says, “I LOVE your books. Thank you for writing.” It makes everything seem worth the effort.

In my recent travels, I’ve made some observations:

  • Hotel bars close too early at conventions, leaving me with the impression that the capitalistic spirit is dead in the hotel industry.
  • Authors seem to be giving away a lot more promotional items than ever before.

When my first book came out, I gave away book bags with my book cover on them. My publisher printed bookmarks. At Romantic Times, I gave away little bags of My M&Ms with my book names printed on each one. I thought I was being oh-so clever, but as it turned out, my little gifts seemed underwhelming compared to those of other authors, especially romance writers who make a science out of marketing.

For those of you who have been in this business longer than I, were promotional giveaways always part of the landscape or is this something new? Do giveaways nudge you toward an author you may not have considered before? Just asking.

Happy Monday!


  1. Giveaways: Forget M&M's.

    I have found that the best way to get people to read a book is simply to give them the damn thing.

  2. People always like graft. But it has to be good graft. When I was travel editor, I once received an amazing pair of shoes from a travel shoe company and I got a mummy pen in a sarcophagus when THE MUMMY came out on DVD from Universal.

    I can't compete with that. In fact, I didn't even make up bookmarks for this most recent book. I just give away business cards if anyone wants one. The bookmarks didn't really seem to make much difference, and I've got thousands cluttering my house from the first two books...

  3. patty smiley4/28/2008 9:10 AM

    There's a picture of a Mercedes convertible on the cover of COOL CACHE. Maybe I could get a fleet rate...

    Paulie, I think you're right. I hosted a table at the Malice banquet and gave away a book to each person who signed up to dine with me. They seemed to like that even better than the box of chocolates and the refrigerator magnet that said: "Forget love. I'd rather fall in chocolate."

  4. Oh...and I took some limited edition Naked Authors bookmarks that flew off the giveaway table.

  5. I haven't ever done any giveaway items, though I keep thinking the M&Ms look really cool.

    The best giveaway item I've ever GOTTEN is a sheriff's star that says "DESPAIR. LEE CHILD. NOTHING TO LOSE" which Maggie Griffin gave me--a promo piece for Lee's forthcoming book. I have it pinned to my messenger bag and feel really cool all the time now.

  6. Go-Lo...I think you hit on something with that "fleet rate" about making each book you sale,national sales of course, a raffle ticket, with the winning ticket winning the car on the cover of your novel.....

  7. Just racking up frequent flier miles, Patty?

    For Cool Cache, perhaps a treasure hunt throughout L.A. (or other cities) would be a cool promo...

    Perhaps even a pub crawl. You decide what the cache is. ;o)

  8. patty smiley4/28/2008 12:15 PM

    Raffle tickets. Pub crawls. Sheriff's badges. You guys are brilliant. On the other hand, the M&Ms WERE sooo cute.

  9. I'm with Cornelia on the Lee Child promotional pieces. My favorite was the Jack Reacher travel toothbrush.

  10. I have yet to receive a give-away that's convinced me to buy the book. ANd hell, I've received free books (and still do, all the time) that don't convince me to read the books. Maybe I'm advertising resistant. On the other hand, if you give me chocolate, I will eat it. I probably won't buy the book, although you never know, but I'll eat the chocolate.

    Sue Grafton's been sending me shit for years now. Keychains, luggage tags, heat-sensitive stress evaluators (I have no idea what to call that thing). Christ, Sue, I was going to buy the book anyway.

  11. I like Paul's idea: give me the book for free! Guess that would hurt the profit magin though. There's always a down side.But if I liked the first book, I would be sure to purchase the second book.

  12. patty smiley4/28/2008 1:50 PM

    Mark!!!! Sue Grafton sends you stuff? How do I get on that list? And what's your address. I have some personalized M&Ms I want to send you.

  13. James O. Born4/28/2008 2:14 PM

    I keep bookmarks forever but I don't think they push me to buy a book.


  14. patty smiley4/28/2008 3:31 PM

    I agree with you, James O. I've admired the design of many but I've never bought a book because of a free bookmark.

  15. Hmmm...then what about a bookmark with an exciting excerpt printed on it?

  16. patty smiley4/28/2008 6:34 PM

    Jeff, maybe that or with a blurb from an author I respect.

  17. I will accept promo items if the author is handing them out, mostly out of respect for the author; but no give-away ever induced me to buy a book. I will always buy a book from an author who comes to sign. ("Do I repeat myself? Very well, then, I repeat myself."--Walt Whitman)

    Having been a bureaucrat for 26 years and attending expos put on by vendors a couple times a year, I observed city and state employees fill bags with free goodies, and MAYBE one or two of hundreds bought something. Don't waste your money on promos...unless it's a cool, really cool item like Lee Child gives out, possibly more of a "thank you for buying" than a "please buy"?

    I saw Cornelia's badge this weekend and thought she was the book patrol, so I behaved myself in the line!


  18. patty smiley4/28/2008 9:02 PM

    Sage advice, Groupie. And you were smart to behave around Ms. C, especially given her expertise with shotguns and all. Sorry I missed you all at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Next year...