by Erin Mitchell
I was scratching my head about a topic for this week’s post, and so I went to the Twitter brain trust and asked whether anyone had any interesting questions about marketing crime fiction. Author Joy Castro came to the rescue with this gem:
My background's in literary nonfiction. My first thriller comes out in 2012. What's *different* about crime fiction marketing?
Certain aspects of book marketing are the same regardless of form or format. Some, though, are peculiar to crime fiction and its many niche genres. Here are five I see regularly:
1. Location Matters
Crime fiction readers will and do read stories set all over the world. Case and point, Steig Larsson. That said, crime fiction influencers—readers and reviewers—put a great deal of emphasis on location when choosing and talking about books, more universally than with most genres.
Joy’s book, HELL OR HIGH WATER, is set in New Orleans. What an opportunity this presents. New Orleans has always been a magical city, one whose charm, voice, and spirit reaches across mountains and oceans. Many people around the world who have never visited the Crescent City have an affinity for it regardless.
All this means that with crime fiction, building marketing storylines around location works well, more so than with many genres.
2. Crime Fiction has Defined Groups of Influencers
Crime Fiction encompasses many different kinds of stories, from cozies to noir to procedurals to those with elements of horror. We all have a type of stories we love most; I’m a police procedural gal at my core. Online and off, there are people who devote an extraordinary amount of energy to talking about the specific kind of crime fiction they love. Finding these people and introducing yourself and your book to them will take you far. And be sure you’re reading our magazines (like Crimespree). And for the love of all that is holy, talk with librarians!
(For the record, I’m pretty sure this one is true of Romance and Sci-Fi too)
3. Crime Fiction Aficionados are Social Creatures…and they’re nice
In bookstores, libraries, and online, those who love crime fiction—the people whose voices can be one of your strongest assets—are a friendly lot. They’re not pretentious or exclusive. They read, write, and talk about stories that often include the worst aspects of human nature, but they exhibit none of these. I’ve met lots (LOTS!) of crime fiction authors either virtually or in real life, and all of one of them was a genuine jerk. Just one. That’s a percentage too small to measure. By listening to these people online at in person (go to their events! talk to people!), you become part of a community that is crucial to the success of your book’s marketing program.
4. Blurbs Matter Less
I know some will disagree with me about this—it is opinion; perhaps someday someone will study it and create real data—but I believe that with crime fiction, blurbs are less important than they are with some genres. My best advice? Make sure your jacket copy is fantastic. Really good. Readers have a ton of books from which to choose, and I think the jacket copy drives more sales than a blurb.
5. Author Stories Make a Difference
Ask any crime fiction reader about his or her favorite author, and you’ll hear something…fascinating. Quirky, perhaps. Check out how Karin Slaughter, Alafair Burke, and Lisa Unger interact with their readers on Facebook to get a clear picture of the importance of telling your own story. Remember that the majority of books are purchased because of either a personal recommendation or because of the author (that’s not opinion—there’s real data illustrating it), and think about how your story factors into your marketing efforts.
So there you have it. What have I missed? Plenty, I know. Feel free to chime on in…