Tomorrow I’m off to Bouchercon, my second time going to that fan conference. I attended two years ago when it was held in Long Beach, but I didn’t stay at the hotel and drove back and forth. It’s such a huge gathering—Long Beach attracted 2,000 attendees: fans and mystery writers—that I was overwhelmed. I attended only a few panels and kept taking refuge at the Sisters in Crime/LA table where at least I had my back to the wall and knew some people.
This time it’s in New Orleans, and I vowed to be braver. I’m not on any panels, which is disappointing, but I will talk to as many people as I can. There will be a lot of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles members there, so there will be some friendly faces.
This is the part of writing books that I find the most difficult: publicizing myself and my books. Writers generally are a shy and retiring lot, preferring to be home writing and reading than out talking to groups of people and telling them about their writing processes, the way they create, where they get their ideas—well, you get the picture.
Yet, of course, this is the way the writer—me—becomes known, by meeting people and talking to them and giving them cards and bookmarks, telling them about writing and making friends. I don’t mean to sound as though I don’t like people. Of course I do, and I have lots of friends. It’s the self-publicizing part that I find difficult.
I often wonder——as do many people, especially publishers— what it is that creates mega best sellers, like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. It was a first novel, I believe, and it got good reviews, but so do lots of other books, and they don’t stay on the best seller list forever. It must drive publishers nuts trying to predict what book, of the many they publish, is going to be a huge hit. Did Paula Hawkins know she’d written a best selling novel?
And what about GONE, GIRL? Gilliam Flynn had written and published several books before that one that sold well, but not like GONE, GIRL. If anyone can predict what will sell and what won’t, they’ve got a million dollar gift. Of course they’d have to do a lot of reading!
I know my fellow Ladies of Mystery work hard at promoting their books, going to libraries and bookstores, author fairs and all kinds of other venues They are good at what they do. I am learning, but it’s a slow and somewhat painful process. But if I don’t work at publicity, no one besides my closest friends and family will even know about my books.
When I read this over, I realize I’m sounding very negative. Probably because I’m scared about going to Bouchercon, meeting all those writers and fans and trying to make an impression. Wish me luck, guys! I hope I look like this on Sunday.