Monday, February 28, 2011

Second Time’s the Charm

roses1It’s been almost a year since DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD came out, and I’m ramping up for the release of KILLER ROUTINE in April.

Here are five things I’ve learned promoting that second book:

1) It gets easier. You’ve been through the process once, so you know the time requirements and the effort needed to accomplish all those “nebulous” marketing tasks. You’ve made a ton of mistakes the first time around that you’ve, ahem, learned from.

2) It doesn’t get any easier. Sure, you’ve learned from all the mistakes you made the first time, but there are plenty of opportunities to make more mistakes. Those contacts you made last year have moved on to different jobs and you’re stuck trying to grovel your way onto conference panels and bookstore shelves.

3) The “debut” blush has worn off. Instead of smelling like that prized rose, you just smell. The added interest that seems to surround debut authors has waned. People like to discover the next great thing, and after your first book didn’t hit the bestseller list, you’re simply another writer hawking his latest release.

4) You’ve said it all before. Or at least much of it. So you need to find different—fresh—ways to say it all over again. Who wants to sound like a broken record (for those of you who don’t know what a broken record is, try Wikipedia)?

5) Promotion can be a bottomless pit, a giant sucking black hole that will swallow every last bit of your time, energy, and money if you let it. Just sayin’

 

So, what other tips and tidbits do you have when it comes to promoting your second (or subsequent) books?

 

Alan

21 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Considering the Malice nomination, I think the first time is the charm for you...and I think the charm will carry over into your second book, too. :)

Good point about the promo--with the 2nd book we know what the marketing involves, but we have even LESS time to do it!

G.M. Malliet said...

The good news is, your second book will be carried aloft by the success of the first, so it's ok to back off a bit from promotion to focus on the writing. I remember saying to you at some point that no one, including the author, cares as much about the 2nd book. The author is exhausted, and the bookseller is, as you say, looking for the next great thing.

Mary Vaughn said...

I'll think about this and when I stop laughing I may even have an idea.
You know I'm waiting for this book -- laughs and murder, how can it not be great.

Margot Kinberg said...

Alan - I think one thing that helps in promoting a second book, especially if the first one's been successful as yours has, is that you've got a base of interest. You don't have to start from scratch. You're already a presence.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I agree with Elizabeth, your 2nd book will be helped a great deal by the Malice nomination. I worried more about my second. The second book, to me, is the crucial proof of the pudding for a writer. So many things to consider: Was the success of the first a fluke? Will even more people line up to buy the 2nd? Or did the 1st disappoint them to the point they scratched me off their list as an author worth reading? Yeah, I know, pretty negative, but that's how I saw it.

Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - You are so right about having less time. Who's got time to write anymore?

Gin - Sounds like sage advice, but what happens around the tenth or twelfth book? (HA! We should be so lucky!)

Mary - "How can it not be great?" I LOVE your optimism! (I'm putting you on the payroll! HA! I should be so lucky to have a payroll!)

Margot - I understand that Snooki was a presence, too.

Sue Ann - Thanks for bringing up a few more things for me to worry about! :)

Lois Winston said...

We authors are an insecure breed. We're always going to worry about something. Whether it's your second, third, or thirtieth book, you're going to worry about sales. Comes with the territory.

I switched genres with my latest book, so it's all about building a new fan base. I feel like I'm starting out as a newbie, even though this is my third book. Just something else to worry about! It's a wonder any of us get any sleep.

G.M. Malliet said...

There is something to be said for the sophomore effect that Sue Ann references. You do feel the need to prove (to yourself if no one else) that the first book wasn't a fluke. My second St. Just book was and remains my favorite St. Just book, so I feel I got over that personal hurdle. You will, too, Alan!

God alone knows what happens by the 12th book.

Darrell James said...

Alan- I agree with Lois. We'll worry no matter what. While still waiting for my first book to launch, I worry a piano will fall on me, or something, and I won't be around to see it!

Rick Chesler said...

Great post, Alan! My second thriller, kiDNApped, releases tomorrow, and I definitely connect with your points!

Beth Groundwater said...

I've found that promoting the first book in a new series (Deadly Currents), even though it's my third book, is much like promoting the first book, especially since it's in a different subgenre--soft-boiled vs cozy. I'm targeting new readers as well as my existing fans. So, I'm firing up the Goodreads Q&A group, doing a Virtual Book Tour, planning lots of signings, etc., much more than I would do if it was the third book in my existing series.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I just launched my 8th novel And am currently writing my 11th. Trust me, it does get easier. Although now I have different worries to consider: Will readers become bored with my work? Will I be able to sustain the same quality or even improve upon it?

Alan, sorry, pal, to give you more worries. But it's never ending.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Alan, you're way ahead of where you were before the first book came out. You've got eager readers waiting for more!

Stephen Parrish said...

I too agree with Elizabeth about the award nomination. You'll be able to brag about that on the cover of every book you write.

Alan Orloff said...

Lois - Are you calling me insecure? Is that what you mean? I'd hate to be insecure. :)

Gin - I hadn't considered that my first book might be a fluke. Thanks, Gin!

Darrell - I shall walk the streets with my head up, from now on (and hope there aren't any open manhole covers!).

Rick - Thanks! Good luck with your book!

Beth - You are a promotion dynamo. I think I should be taking notes...

Sue Ann - That's it! I'm cutting you off. No more comments today! :)

Kathleen - I don't know about that, but my hair is sure a lot grayer!

Steve - I'm thinking about writing a new series about a poor schlub who lucks out with an award nom for his first book, then tanks on subsequent books and finds himself penniless and has to resort to a life of crime. Not sure yet whether it's fiction or true crime.

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, Take heart. I used to read my kids a book entitled, "It Could Always Be Worse."

G.M. Malliet said...

Your success is NOT a fluke, Alan. In no way! It's just that. as Sue Ann said, writers worry their first was a fluke. And about falling pianos. The falling stock market. And etc.

Today I had a tornado to worry about. That was fun!

Jess Lourey said...

Yeah, Alan, I agree with everyone else. I think getting nominated for an Agatha for your first book is a great way to promote the second. Well done. :)

Alan Orloff said...

Keith - Dr. Seuss?

Gin - The sky did get pretty dark today. All of a sudden.

Jess - Thanks!

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, email me your snail mail address and I'll send you a copy.

Deborah Sharp said...

I found the bribery works when promoting the second book. Kidding, kidding ... you'll do GREAT, Mr. Award Nominee!