By Mary Ellis
Often writers are curious to learn which marketing and publicity ideas work for other writers and which do not. I, too, am curious about the very same thing. We blog and interview on various blog-sites; we e-mail newsletters to established fans and snail-mail publicity postcards to announce upcoming books; we FaceBook and Twitter and network and wonder if it does any good at all.
Author talks at local libraries were something I tried after my first release of Amish fiction. For the first time, I felt connected to readers, up-close and personal. I listened to feedback, answered questions about upcoming books in the series, and shared what I’d learned along the road to publication. Wait a minute, you might be thinking. We want to interact with people who go out and buy our books. I’m here to say libraries buy books too–plenty of them. Many readers who find your work in the stacks–or even on the twenty-five-cent clearance table–will buy in the future if they like your style. Readers need to watch their finances, same as other consumers. But I have made fans-for-life who originally found me at the library and now purchase my books for their collections.
Plus librarians are some of the nicest people on earth. They love to read and love authors who take time to visit their community rooms, usually allowing you to sell and sign books afterward.
Since I write about the Amish, I often speak on steps to simplify lives, or ways my life has been changed from interviewing these God-fearing, passionate Christians. Readers also want to hear how we get story ideas and how we research our topics. I’ve spoken about sheep, wool and weaving after the release of Never Far from Home, opening diners and home-style recipes following The Way to a Man’s Heart, and midwifery after Abigail’s New Hope. For my September release, A Marriage for Meghan, I will be discussing hate crimes against various Christian sects, and the arduous life of a beginning schoolteacher–a topic in which I possess firsthand knowledge.
Most often I’m asked to speak about my personal path of publication. Fledgling and would-be writers tend to haunt libraries and will appreciate any advice you can give them. After answering questions, I take time to plug ACFW and what our wonderful organization can do to further their careers.
Over the years, I’ve discovered libraries aren’t just great places to read, research, and hide from the world. The librarians who work inside can often be a writer’s best friend.
A Widow’s Hope, was a 2010 Carol Award finalist and received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit. A Marriage for Meghan, second in the Wayne County series, will be released in late September.