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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

GUEST AUTHOR MARY FELIZ ON CORPSE COOKIES AND EVENT ORGANIZING


Corpse Cookie
Mary Feliz writes about an amateur sleuth with a penchant for organizing. Today she tells us about how she organized her very first event to promote her forthcoming book. Whether you're planning to participate in a crafts fair, a flea market, or a neighborhood tag sale, Mary's experiences might come in handy. 

A big fan of irony, serendipity, diversity, and quirky intelligence tempered with gentle humor, Mary strives to bring these elements into her writing, although her characters tend to take these elements to a whole new level. Learn more about Mary and her writing at her website. 

Corpse Cookies Make Pre-Promotion Easy
Pushing my books promises to be one of the toughest parts of being an author for me. Despite a career in Corporate Communications, marketing is just not my thing. 

So, when a friend told me she was holding a holiday craft fair in her home featuring many of our mutual friends as vendors, I jumped at the chance to "practice my pitch" although my debut novel Address to Die For won't be released until July, 2016.

I asked my friend if it would be helpful to have a "greeter" for her event—someone to direct people to all the different venues within her house where vendors were set up. The house isn't large, but I thought it might be easy for people to overlook the vendors who were set up in the backyard and the garage.

She loved the idea. Since I had nothing to sell, I wouldn't be backing up traffic. I loved the idea, since I knew I'd have a truly useful purpose other than promoting my books. 

I'd hoped to have cover copy for the book, but as the date approached, I had to give up on that plan. 

Instead, I created a "series" graphic using the artwork from my website, I created pens and bookmarks for my swag. Both were relatively inexpensive things that I knew I'd want to bring to conferences after my book comes out. Ordering test versions gave me a good sense of the lead-time required and which parts of my design worked and which didn't.
 
Swag
I loved how both turned out, but next time I'd use fewer words and a larger font for the pens. Few people turned the bookmark over to read the back. Several people though my character's name was my name. 

Initially, I'd planned to order sugar cookies embossed with the book cover art. Instead, I made my corpse cookies on my own and ordered crime scene ribbon from an internet ribbon maker. 

With some crime scene fabric (also ordered from the internet) and a black banquet table cover, I was good to go. 

Based on the suggestions of friends, I planned to put bookmarks and pens in wine glasses. A gruesome "R.I.P" bottle of red wine picked up on the spur of the moment from Cost Plus was fun to pair with the glasses. 
 
Mary's "Welcome" Table
Driving to the event, I regretted not buying flowers or making a stand-up sign about the books. Next time, I promised myself, remembering that today's event was about practice, not perfection. 

With a cooler full of water and snacks, I was set. After greeting my first 10 customers, I realized I needed to talk more about my book and tell people it was a local murder mystery. The local angle was something all the visitors responded to.

By noon, I was out of cookies. People loved them and it was easier for me to talk about the cookies than it was to hype the book. Once people had the cookies, they asked about the book, and it was easy for me to answer their questions. 

The oddity of having a "welcome" booth that sported tape blaring "CRIME SCENE-DO NOT CROSS" also sparked comments. 

The demographic of people who attend holiday boutiques is nearly identical to the demographic of people who buy cozy mysteries—suburban moms and grandmoms. And, although I thought that via social media everyone I knew had heard of my book, I ran into several acquaintances who were astonished to learn I'd signed a publishing contract. 

By the end of the day, I'd distributed 100 bookmarks and pens to probable readers who will likely tell friends about my books.  And as the day wore on, my tagline tripped off my tongue easily. I'd asked friends and the vendors to inspect my booth, eavesdrop on my pitch and offer suggestions for both. Their glowing reports and constructive critiques gave my confidence a huge boost. What I'd imagined as a shakedown tour turned out to be a perfect promotional opportunity I might easily have overlooked.

Many of the volunteers planning holiday boutiques will begin firming up plans in the next few months, so now is a perfect time to start asking questions about how you can help. The Gala Gallery is already on my calendar for next year (when I'll actually have books to sell.) I'll approach my next event more confidently...and with more cookies, fresh flowers, a backdrop...and eventually, a plush golden retriever to represent my character's chief side-kick. And with the knowledge that I can market my books like a pro.

Address to Die For
For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list . . .

Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn’t confined to her clients’ closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house she’s inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she’s shocked to discover the house’s dilapidated condition. When her husband Max finds the caretaker facedown in their new basement, it’s the detectives who end up moving in. What a mess! While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large—exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can’t help but clean up . . .

27 comments:

vicki batman said...

Hi, Mary! I love the idea of corpse cookies. They caught an eye and would be remembered. Good job!

Kathye Quick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathye Quick said...

All great ideas. I may have to borrow some. Remember - imitation is the highest form of flattery!

Good luck with your book.

Ann Myers said...

Great cookies and tips, Mary! I want a corpse cookie cutter now...

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Vicki. For me, the trick to marketing my book is to find things that don't feel like marketing. Talking about cookies is definitely one of my skill sets!

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Kathye! Borrow freely! I'd love to see what you come up with.
I used to volunteer for art classes with my kids, and it always amazed me how vastly different each child's work was, although the materials, samples, and lectures were all identical. I feel that same way about sharing marketing ideas. Everyone will put their own spin on things and make them their own!

Mary Feliz said...

Ann, my "oorpse" cookie cutter came from a set of cookie cutters based on a video game that is a favorite of one of my kids. I bought them to make cookies to send to him for a birthday away from home. There are also companies that will make custom cookie cutters, so if there is a theme that works with your book, you might consider making up one.

I'm also looking into talking to a local bakery about making my cookies for me. Icing all those cookies is probably not the best activity to undertake a day or two before signing books. My hands would be all cramped up like talons!

Alison R said...

Really enjoyed the blog post and can't wait for the book. Looks like it'll be a great Xmas gift for many friends and family:)

CandaceCalvert said...

FABulous ideas. Your book is pre-ordered and I can't wait!

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks Alison!
Let me know if you'd like me to sign the books or if you'd like to add a few bookmarks to go along with your gifts.
I can also provide digital bookplates via Authorgraph and am happy to do so!

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Candace! Hi praise coming from the master marketer!

Jo-Ann said...

Great Ideas. The crime tape looks amazing and then there were the corpses. Brilliant.
Thanks for sharing and best of luck with sales,
Jo-Ann Carson

cj petterson said...

Corpse cookies with crime scene tape . . . what a great idea (that I'll steal). That was a brilliant way to practice to marketing of the book. Your "Despite a career in Corporate Communications, marketing is just not my thing" fits me to a tee, so I can appreciate the effort it takes to work outside of our comfort zones. All best for great success with your writing. Marilyn (aka cj)

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Jo-Ann, for all the good wishes. It makes me feel taller, braver, stronger to know that there are other writers wishing me well. We writers are scared woodland creatures and need all the support we can get!

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Marilyn! I figure that the more we steal each other's marketing ideas, the more we market our genre as a "brand". Right?

Angela Adams said...

Thanks for the tips! And the bookmarks look great!!

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angela!

Eileen Watkins said...

Some great suggestions, Mary! I've also found that the people who come to crafts and gift shows overlap nicely with those who read cozy mysteries, so it's a largely untapped venue for mystery writers.

Linda Reilly said...

Mary, you have devised some fabulous ideas for book promotion. I'm doing a small signing event at my apartment complex's clubhouse in a few weeks, and I plan to "steal" many of these ideas. Thank you! I can't wait to read Address to Die For!

Nancy G. West said...

Wonderful ideas, Mary. Thanks for a great post!

Nancy G. West

mickibrowning.com said...

Love these tips--especially incorporating crime scene tape into your table drape. Thank you for the ideas!

Ellen Byron said...

Great ideas, Mary! Love those cookies. I want one!

Mary Feliz said...

This morning we had a "give away" day at our house. Like a garage sale, but everything was free and we asked people to consider donating to their favorite charity if they felt they got a great deal.

I plopped some of my bookmarks on the table and every time I went outside, my husband was enthusiastically giving away bookmarks and promoting his favorite author. Very cool.

Accidental marketing is great.

mypalbuddee.blogspot.com said...

Hi Mary,
I too love the idea and suggestions – best of luck to you!

Vivienne
Endorsed by Little learner's Club
My Pal Buddee: The Checker King

mypalbuddee.blogspot.com
lillearnersclub@gmail.com

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Vivienne, Micki, Nancy, Linda, and Eileen,

Periodically, I put additional ideas and suggestions on my own website.
Please stop by for a visit at maryfeliz.com or like my facebook author page at www.facebook.com/maryfelizbooks


Kath Marsh said...

Mary! Pure genius! When will you be teaching a course on how to sell our books!?
I can hardly wait for your book!
Kathye

Mary Feliz said...

Thanks, Kath! That Birmingham conference was a long time ago, but I"m so glad we're still in touch. What a great conference and place!