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Building an Off-Line Web

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by Gail E. Farrelly, Associate Professor of Accounting, Rutgers University

Cyberspace experts tell us that the secret to a frequently accessed home page is the building of numerous links that entice searchers to visit your “home.” Using the same logic, authors can help with the marketing of their books-even off-line-by making use of a variety of links. They can do this in two ways: first, by looking to the organizations (including those in nearby neighborhoods) of which they are members and analyzing potential support systems; and second, by joining new organizations geared to the subject matter of their books. Both of these steps figured prominently in publicity plans for my first mystery book, Beaned in Boston: Murder at a Finance Convention (Chicago Spectrum Press), now in its second printing.

Here are some tips for authors wanting to build links:

  1. Respond to alumni surveys and/or contact alumni associations from ANY school you went to and report on what you’re doing. If you work at, or have ANY connection to, a college or university, see if this might be a source of some publicity. Rutgers University, where I teach, has a variety of magazines and newsletters. Interesting tidbits about faculty, staff, and students are always welcome.
  2. Watch local cable TV shows and figure out how to get booked on them. I was interviewed for a local cable television show (Face to Face with Lisa Fantino) in Westchester County, New York. The show aired many times and boosted book sales.
  3. Take out an ad in a publication of a local group-perhaps a newsletter for the local theater players, or a bulletin for a church or school.
  4. Have useful giveaways to advertise your book. I use bookmarks and pens. Distribute them-with the aid of friends and family-EVERYWHERE!
  5. Offer to make presentations at local libraries or schools. These events provide a live audience, and the talks are often videotaped for local cable TV. Through Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, I met two other writers who are also eager to talk to groups. We now perform as a team to give presentations at libraries and local functions.
  6. Keep your eyes open for specialized newsletters, newspapers, or other publications which might welcome an article FROM you or wish to do an article ABOUT you. For example, for those of you who originally hail from the Bronx, think about submitting articles to, and/or advertising in, the nostalgic Back in the Bronx or the timely Norwood News.
  7. Better still, get some free publicity. I’ve written letters to the editor which were published in Catholic New York, the PMA Newsletter, and the Review Press Reporter. These letters, of course, mentioned my book. Also I submitted an item about writing mystery fiction as a stress reduction technique to the Money and Business section of the New York Times. The result? A high-profile “plug” in the On the Job column under the headline, “Murder She Wrote, Just to Relieve the Stress.”
  8. Take an active role at conventions and conferences. I’ve been on panels and had book signings at the Mid-Atlantic Mystery Conference and the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention. The Financial Management Association, of which I am a member, had a book signing for me at the 1995 annual meeting (a perfect place to sell a book about a murder at a finance convention!) at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The gift shop at the hotel hosted the book signing.

We’re all connected to others in our world in a variety of ways. As authors, we have to ask ourselves, “How can I use these connections to help sell my books?”

Gail E. Farrelly is an associate professor of accounting at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and she has an office for research, writing, and consulting in Bronxville, New York. Farrelly is now completing her second mystery book, Duped by Derivatives: A Manhattan Murder. Her e-mail address is:

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