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Promote, Promote, Promote
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Yes, once again it's time for our feeble promotional effort, The Orphan Scrivener, wherein Mary and I each write a personal essay and usually remember to insert a few lines about our books. This issue, however, I have actually focussed on promotion, Specifically why I avoid promotion. Mary has a much more interesting piece about scarlet fever and quarantine many years ago in England. She titled it "Never a Doll Moment" although I would've gone with "Franky, scarlet....".

Anyway, here's my bit:


And now a word from our author...

Looking for a great deal on mysteries set in sixth century Constantinople?

Don't miss our big Byzantine blowout!

Yes, it's that time again. With Seven For A Secret due to appear in April, Mary and I once again face the dreaded necessity of promotion. Before our first book came out we were under the misapprehension that writers just wrote. We had no idea that they would need to spend as much time shilling their books as composing them. Only when we started to learn about the publishing industry from the inside did we discover that most publishers expect their authors to double as sales representatives, public speakers, and stand-up comedians, not to mention being photogenic and possibly doing a bit of juggling and sleight of hand as well.

Rather than researching the history of the Eastern Roman Empire and figuring out clues we should have been practicing our stage make-up and working on a song and dance routine.

But don't worry! Mary and I won't be doing any gum-shoe soft-shoe in your direction any time soon. We promise not to fill your inbox with spam or your post box with junk mail. We most assuredly will never chase you down a bookstore aisle and force our book into your hands, as some authors have bragged of doing. Alas for our literary ambitions, neither of us are mercenary sorts and Poisoned Pen Press has been unusually willing to accommodate our promotion efforts without insisting on personal appearances. And just as well. There are two of us. While Mary was distracting you with that novel in the bookstore aisle I could be picking your pocket.

I lack the talent for selling anyhow. I sit at home and write precisely because I don't want to be appearing in public. I hope our mysteries are entertaining. I'm certainly not. I'm not being modest, either. There's nothing very entertaining about some guy shuffling his feet and mumbling into his beard. To be fair, if I had to speak in front of a large audience I might possibly pass out, which would be exciting if that's the sort of thing you enjoy. And I realize plenty of people do. When I broke my leg in gym class in Junior High the ambulance came racing to the school. Sirens, flashing lights, a grotesque injury, men with stretchers! I had the audience eating out of my hand even if they were all standing around in their gym shorts. It's kind of a grueling act though. Maybe if I were a guest of honor....

I question whether it is truly necessary for writers to perform in order to sell their books. Okay, so Charles Dickens and Mark Twain were famous for their lecture tours. And, yes, humorist Robert Benchley made movie shorts. Then too, Mickey Spillane played his own detective Mike Hammer on the screen. And, yes, admittedly, Kinky Friedman is his own detective and plays in a band. So what does that prove? Not all of us can be Kinky Friedman. Just because J. D. Salinger never sang Get Your Biscuits In The Oven and Your Buns In Bed does that mean Catcher in the Rye should never have been published?

So maybe Salinger could sell a lot more books and get really famous if he'd just do more signings at Waldenbooks. Maybe he does do signings at Waldenbooks. That's why no one ever sees him. I've sat out in front of Waldenbooks with a stack of new novels and believe me, you become invisible. No one sees an author waiting to sign. Mystery writer Parnell Hall even has a song he sings about this very situation at convention appearances. It's most entertaining. Parnell's another one of those multi-talented fellows. Another exception. They say the exception proves the rule. So the more exceptions the better the proof. I've got more proof than I can shake a stick at, and sometimes I'd like to shake a stick at the whole lot of them. What's the matter with these authors being good at so many different things?

And I don't know J. D. Salinger, by the way. Maybe he sings Get Your Biscuits In The Oven and Your Buns In Bed in the shower, but he sure doesn't do it in front of Waldenbooks, and I'll bet he sings flat and off key too. And he calls himself a writer!

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