Knowing who your targeting is half the battle when it comes to marketing. In 2010, a Sisters in Crime survey found that when it comes to mystery and thriller readers, 68% are women, 35% live in the south, 48% are suburban dwellers, and 26% are 65 or older. While this doesn’t mean you should target all of your efforts to 70-year-old women living in the outskirts of Atlanta, there is a point: know where to find your audience. This also means deciding whether your book falls under any of the sub-genre categories, which include: general mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, and the like. Once you have a sense of who your reader is you should be able to identify the bloggers and publications you’ll want to reach out to.
That said, there are a number of general tips for marketing mysteries. Here are just a few:
Attend a Conference: More so than any other genre, mystery readers and writers have the chance to meet others at various meet-ups. From the large, annual Mystery Writers Conference to the smaller “Love is Murder” convention, find out what’s going on close to you and consider attending, exhibiting, or even applying for a panel. To cut costs, consider getting a group of local writers together to jointly sponsor a table. While there, don’t shy away from others; make connections and friendships that will improve your writing and your ability to promote.
Increase your social media presence: Whether it’s Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, or all of the above, it’s important you have a presence online. Readers want to connect with writers and all of these mediums are an easy (once you get the hang of ’em) way to do so. If you’re unsure of what to blog about, consider writing about your top ten favorite mystery novels, why you love a specific author, an exclusive interview with an up-and-coming writer, or what inspired you to become a writer. Make sure to tweet, pin, and update your fans and followers about what you’re up to whenever possible.
Tease Your Readers: The same Sisters in Crime survey mentioned above found that two very important factors influence whether or not a purchase is made: a good cover and the ability to “preview story elements” beforehand. For the former, take a look at top-selling novels at popular online retailers and emulate (but don’t copy) the cover design of the one or a few. If you’re not handy with programs like InDesign or Photoshop, consider connecting with freelance graphic designers via sites like DesignCrowd.com. You can also use Lulu’s Premium Cover Design Services. For the latter, include your book in any “see inside”-like programs Amazon, BN.com, and other retailers offer. Alternatively, reach out to thriller bloggers and work together to reveal the first chapter or two in full.
Slash your price: This was mentioned in a piece about marketing romance novels a while back, but can and should be used for mysteries and thrillers as well. The Sisters in Crime survey found that a lower price is most likely to prompt a reader of any age to buy more books, and those under 40 are even more likely to be swayed by coupons or buy-one-get-one-free promotions. So price your book low to start — or even participate in promotions where you give it away for free — for a limited time. You can always increase the price later.
Reach out to your local librarian: Libraries are high on the list of places mystery readers go to find books, accounting for 19% of the total number of responses. While not a traditional customer sale, getting your book into the hands of many readers means your book is talked about more, and a recommendation from a friend has the most influence on readership among mystery readers. So, introduce yourself and be persistent. Offer to do a talk, or host a mystery book club, or even run a sweepstakes to give away copies of the book.
Now you tell us, Lulu authors, what have you done that has or hasn’t worked?