Widening Our Circles

News Flash: Sheryl Sens is the lucky winner of the Biscuits and Slashed Browns audiobook. Check your email, Sheryl, and congratulations! I wish I had a copy for everyone.

Edith here, just home from most of a week in a Pennsylvania convent retreat house with two fellow authors, one being Wicked Accomplice Kim Gray (and the other a great friend of the Wickeds, Ramona DeFelice Long). I have many new words under my belt, a tired driver’s butt, and evening after evening of laughs in the bank.

I’ve been thinking about how to widen the circles of people who know about my books.


Yes, I’m wearing the slightly uncomfortable Self-Promotion hat. But we all have to do it. We authors never want to tell people, Read my book! Buy my book! But … in fact, we want people to read our books. Buy them, ask their library to buy them, tell their friends what a great read they are. Because this is how I and most of my fellow Wickeds make our living.

Christine Green, a savvy digital strategy friend (she made my fabulous new web site), says marketing is letting people know what you have. So how do we let people know what we have to offer without losing readers?

FriendsJournalMaxwell2Earlier this month a few of you might have seen my link to an article I wrote. When I heard the national Quaker magazine, Friends Journal, was having an Arts issue, I wrote an essay about how being a Friend governs how I write and market my crime fiction. My premise was that Quaker values of peace and integrity might be seen as conflicting with a career of writing about murder, deceit, betrayal.

The journal published my piece on how I reconcile those conflicts and how my faith and values guide all my writing. Within forty-eight hours the article had been shared hundreds of times. My Quaker Midwife series now has a far wider potential audience than it did, and readers know about my contemporary series, too.

This spring I heard from multi-published mystery author Kaye George that Wildside Press is publishing trilogies of short stories – which don’t have to be original submissions. I got word while I was on retreat that my proposal for a trilogy of three Quaker Midwife short crime stories has been accepted! Two of the stories were nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. I’m thrilled to widen my circles of readers for these stories – and possibly for the books, too. Stay tuned for news on title and release date.

Authors Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, and Peg Cochran recently started a Facebook group for writers of farm-based mysteries. When they asked me to join, I initially hesitated. They all have new books coming out, but my publisher didn’t renew the Local Foods Mysteries beyond Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth in the series. That said, my organic farm books are a perfect fit with that group, so I agreed.

Down on the Farm Writers

I’ve had great reception to my weekly Wednesday posts over at Down on the Farm Mystery Writers and I think it’s bringing new life (and sales) to these books I worked so hard on. You should join the group! It’s open to all, we just have to approve new members.Death Over Easy

My Country Store Mysteries? I’m not quite sure how, but they seem to sell themselves. I don’t want them to languish, though. I love sharing recipes here and there and talking about topics like vintage cookware, bicycling, and home renovation on various blogs where I’m lucky to be invited as guest. I’m super excited to have Death Over Easy, book five, releasing at the end of July!

Another market-widening opportunity presented itself a couple of years ago. Kurt Anthony Krug writes articles for college alumni magazines and I met him at a literary fair in Michigan. He interviewed me, but I never saw the article. Three weeks ago a friend sent a photograph of the page in the Indiana University Alumni Association Magazine where I am featured. The magazine has a huge reach, in paper and digitally, and I’m delighted to have a presence there. And of course Indiana is where the Country Store Mysteries are set. Read the interview here.


As always – and I’m sure I share this with my fellow Wickeds – I could be doing more. Should I be creating and posting memes? Doing more on Instagram? Paying to boost ads? Then again, I have the next book to write. And the next and the next. And if I don’t write the best book I can, the whole career is down the drain!

AudioCoverAmazonReaders: How do you like to learn about new authors and about new books from your favorite writers? When does promotion flip over to turning you off?

Share in the comments and I’ll send one of you (US only) my last audiobook of Biscuits and Slashed Browns, the just previous Country Store mystery.

78 Thoughts

  1. Sorry I missed the retreat this time, Edith. Hopefully, next time.

    I love the idea of this Down on the Farm Mystery Writers group. I’m not sure I qualify as far as the food aspect is concerned though. Goodness knows, my characters don’t exactly eat healthy in my books. But Zoe’s a farm girl so… What say you? Should I join?

  2. Hmm. I got on a LOT of authors’ e-newsletter lists through win-a-Kindle giveaways (VERY unQuakerly of me, but I plead an aging laptop running Windows 7). I’ve managed to winnow the important-emails-waiting-TBR from 14k+ down to 10,997 and still culling. What gets me to unsubscribe are constant BUY-BUY-BUYs with nary an ARC (or other no $ required) in sight. I am looking at the estimate for the septic system repair and buying books AIN’T going to happen. Since the only thing I could play an audiobook on is said aging laptop, I’ll sadly decline the prize should I win.

  3. Hi, I have found delightful new reads through this blog, Edith. I have become a huge fan of Robbie! I also follow you and the other down on the farm writers on Facebook. Another source on Facebook is the Save our Cozies group! I also subscribe to several writers newsletters, Laura diSilverio, Ellie Alexander, Diane Vallere, and Lynn Cahoon just to name a few. I expect and want to know what they’re working on and I expect self promotion.

  4. I am always on the lookout for new books and new authors. Blogs are where I meet most of the new authors. I’m not too crazy about Facebook because they overwhelm me with books I’m not interested in.

  5. Word of mouth mostly but I also like to just take an hour or two to peruse the shelves in the local bookstore

  6. I read blogs, subscribe to newsletters and try to keep up with the authors I love! I follow authors on Goodreads, Amazon, Bookbub, etc also. If an author has Facebook or Instagram, I also follow them there. I don’t Tweet!
    I love all of your books! I am sad that your Food Mysteries were not picked up. I really enjoyed them.
    Thank you for all the long hours and hard work you do to bring us a book!

  7. I discover new books many different ways. BookBub, GoodReads, Amazon all of which send me an email letting me know when any author I follow has a new release. I follow a few blogs and authors newsletters.

      1. At the beginning of the month they send you a newsletter letting you know about all the new releases of the authors you read or follow. They are all in one place so that you can mark off that you want to read them to make your TBR list longer every month. Plus on the Cozy Mysteries group I belong to on GR one of the members lists all the new releases for the month and people chime in with how many they plan to get for that month. They just released the July list today.

  8. I like browsing through the library and bookstores to find new authors that might interest me. I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but a catchy title or an intriguing cover, like that quilt on the cover of Death Over Easy, will have me picking up the book, reading the back cover, and perhaps a few paragraphs.

    1. You might not judge a book by its cover, but catching a reader’s eye is so important. Glad you like that quilt! It’s a nice touch (not my idea, but I approve).

  9. I remember finding the wickeds after being introduced to Barbara’s Clambake books. I don’t mind when authors that I follow on Facebook, IG, etc share when their newest books are coming out. As a matter of fact, I love when they provide a link to click on to buy.

  10. After reading about all your activities I feel like a real self-promotion slacker! As far as how I find new books, often it’s through Facebook, email newsletters, or from reading mystery blogs such as these. Unfortunately, I don’t have many real-life friends who seem all that interested in mystery books.

  11. I am slowly learning about authors although I have most of my life. Right now I am able to read most of the time. When I looked for about a new author for me Cover is important, I read the back of the book and read all the reviews. I will read the good as bad. I usually look at stars to see how many an author has. Lately Amazon has been sending a lot of reviews on books and I have found some new authors I would like to read. I use Good read to learn about an author. I know at a glance what. I want to know. Recently, I have joined a few authors groups and have been enjoying them. I am addictive to NetGalley and do read their information. I !one authors whose ebooks are around $5.00 or under. I appreciate authors who made their books free for short period of time. I will do a subject on my blog. One inde author all her books have been free a short period over the years. Did I wait for the period when the book would free, no I buy each new book as it comes out. Her stories are excellent.
    I think I have read all the authors of this group. Thank you for all the entrainment you have given over the years.
    Betty Louise

  12. I tend to pay attention to the first couple of selling links that go through on FB showing a new book, then I normally jump on it and either pre-order or put it on a list to get later. After that, I enjoy more actual convos with the author in the groups like Edith talked about. I’m in several groups that have a group of authors and it’s tons of fun getting to know them and really hearing about their life, their writing and stuff like that. Authors are awesome, personable people that I never would have dreamed I’d get to know so many of you! I love it! Groups are honestly the next best thing to going to the author gatherings which I haven’t been able to do yet. i do like blogs but I tend to go to FB unless like this one, I get email notices when it posts.

  13. The thing that I love is when authors have release parties for new books. Its fun to win, but even when I don’t win I usually buy one of the books. Getting to hear snippets throughout the party gets me curious and excited to see what happens next. That’s how I find the majority of authors I love. It is a turnoff to get the multiple emails that say BUY. If I love a series of course I will buy the next books, but if I’m unaware of a series, the party is an excellent way to bring attention to it.

    1. Marci, do you mean online release parties or in person? Facebook parties are a great way for an author to celebrate with lots of readers all at once.

      1. Sorry, FB parties, easier to reach more people in a short amount of time. I would love in-person parties, but authors don’t usually come to Utah for releases… *sigh. I’m driving to Denver next month for a signing. Lol. I love books.

  14. Hi, Edith 🙂 I like your “gentle” approach. For me, some of the marketing techniques are just too heavy-handed. I’m mainly speaking of Mail Lists. I know as an author, or just a reader, I become weary of so many of them hitting my mail. Unfortunately, I wind up deleting them quite often. I’ve learned other readers do, also. This is one reason I joined Sinc this year. I’m active in the RWA, but decided to broaden my groups, get my feet wet and branch out. I’m not true-blue romance anyway…I have just as much thriller, suspense or even women’s fiction as I do romance. I also enjoyed learning about the market for short stories. I have several of those with more waiting in the wings, so finding other markets for them is great! 🙂

  15. I read a few blogs and subscribe to some newsletters, but most of my info comes from Facebook. I don’t have the time or inclination to branch out and have to check Instagram or Twitter all the time.

  16. I saw the Quaker article, Edith. Brilliant.

    I’m hoping that since my main character lives in the very real town of Confluence, I’ll be able to cultivate some contacts there for promotion, but the book has to come out first.

    Me, I mostly find new authors/books through word of mouth and that word of mouth is often digital – blogs like Wicked Cozies and Jungle Reds; Kristopher Zgorski and Dru Ann Love are great resources.

    And yes, no one wants to constantly hear “buy, buy, buy.”

  17. Interesting article. I talk up your books whenever the chance comes along.

  18. While you were globetrotting through Pennsylvania, my state, I was exploring my old stomping grounds and yours, New England. Visited Massachusetts and went through Amesbury to Rye NH. Visited Conway NH and then a couple of days in Vermont with old friends. Wicked Cozy Authors keep me informed of many new books as do a couple of other sites. I also am a fan of Best Seller lists. Roaming the book stores keeps me enticed and on my trip through some beautiful New England towns, I saw many independent book stores! I hope to see more! I also speak with other readers in a book club and a circle of friends, a great way to see what other folks are reading. I really have not been turned off by promotion but I tend to ignore what I don’t have time for or don’t want to hear or see.

  19. I love to find new to me authors and books! Mostly now, I do find them on Cozy group pages on facebook, or blogs. or authors newsletters. Also through amazon, good-reads etc. Also as I’m browsing through the cozy sections, or the audio books, of the book stores I frequent, unfortunately the book stores I love are between 50 to 100 miles away from my home so I do not get to them very often. No I do not mind authors touting about their books, #1. I may not know of said book..#2. They need to sell, make $$$.

  20. I learn about most authors and new books from my fellow bloggers. I’m subscribed to many blogs and they continuously post reviews of books and about new authors they’ve discovered. I also get alerts from Amazon in my email from authors I’m following when they have a new book releasing. I’m subscribed to newsletters from both authors I follow and Publishers. I see ads on Goodreads and follow authors and many friends on there. An assortment of places, but fellow bloggers are the number one place amongst all of them.
    Incidentally, the cover of your upcoming book is so amazing I keep it as the background on my electronic devices. I like looking at it and so do others. Books are always the background on my iphone, iPad and Apple watch. ( :
    Don’t enter me in the giveaway. I’ve already read and reviewed Biscuits and Slashed Browns. ( :

      1. It does!! It’s the Murder On Cape Cod cover by the way. I’m in LOVE with it!! I change between that one and the Death Over Easy cover. 😊

  21. Hi Edith, I learn about new books/authors through most of the same ways everyone has mentioned.
    I do find Book Bub is a great tool to find new authors – they do provide a monthly newsletter and they will provide you with new books coming out by authors you follow. AND they will recommend authors based on your preferences.
    Fussy Librarian is another tool that works in a similar manner.
    Goodreads also has a “if you like this book you might like this one” feature.
    One place I have found new authors was by attending Bouchercon last year in Toronto. I live in Northern Ontario so it wasn’t too difficult to attend. My highlight of the conference was meeting authors I had read and getting to meet new ones – spent some time meeting the Wickeds who were there with Kensington. That was fun! And I came out with a huge TBR pile of books 🙂
    Blogs and newsletters are great.
    And I’m a SINC member and a Guppy – learning lots from the groups and finding more books to read.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Rose! Toronto was a great Bouchercon. I snuck out for a few exploratory walks and loved seeing little historic buildings tucked in next to gass skyscrapers or modern apartment buildings.

    2. Welcome to Sisters in Crime, Rose! I hope you love it as much as I do! My husband and I fell in love with Toronto! We went a couple of days before Bouchercon started and did the hop on hop off bus tour.

  22. I’ve come to find new authors from using various websites and Amazon. As a librarian, I think it’s our duty to offer a wide range of books and authors. Many authors are recommended to us by patrons. Book clubs are another great way to discover new authors. I think because we live in such a digital age, we’ve come to expect the hype of promotion. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m always super excited to find out when a new book is being released by my favorite author!

  23. I find out about authors from their newsletters and the different blogs that I follow. I also follow authors on Amazon, Facebook and Bookbub and I like to know when authors I like have a new release coming out.

  24. As far as discovering new to me authors I rely heavily on word of mouth (friends/family with similar tastes, book clubs) & browsing book stores/libraries. Once I’ve read an author & enjoy their work, then I sign up for their newsletter/blog. I do love in person author events, however travel distance can make it difficult for the author & readers.

  25. Enough already! Stop apologizing and beating yourselves up authors. How else are we readers going to find out about your books if you, The authors stop promoting and advertising your books on Facebook, blogs, libraries etc. I for one never think authors are doing too much self promotion. Let’s face it, you need to self promote to sell books and we need to read or heard about your books in order to get what we like to read. It is as simple as that.

    1. Yes, ma’am! I’m glad we’re not killing you with it. I know what a big cozy fan you, are Annette, and am grateful for readers like you.

  26. I learn about new books from favorite ebook posts from authors,blogs,newsletters,Amazon recommendations. Can’t think of when I got turned off by news of new books if to many ads just don’t read them.

  27. Mostly I learn of new books from this site. But I also get newsletters from several authors, and, of course, Amazon always recommends books when one buys something.

    I certainly recognize the need for self-promotion, but you need the books to promote. Keep your book writing your number one priority. I love all your books, Edith!

  28. Very late to the conversation here – we had to ride up to Vermont yesterday – so, I will let also you know my comment separately. My Quaker nephew-in-law and niece were very pleased and delighted to see the article about you in the Quaker magazine, Molly, who is a doctor in Providence, has read one of your Quaker midwife series books and her mom, who was with me at the Amesbury launch, picked up the latest for her. So – wonderful reach with that magazine article! It all adds up.

  29. News Flash: Sheryl Sens is the lucky winner of the Biscuits and Slashed Browns audiobook. Check your email, Sheryl, and congratulations! I wish I had a copy for everyone.

  30. I have found many of my current favorites through other author’s blogs . . . starting with looking for Elaine Viets (who wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch once upon a time) and finding the now-inactive The Lipstick Chronicles. Friends refer me to good books as well.
    I find others through magazine and newspaper reviews, and an unexpected bonus from Costco was discovering Amy Stewart’s Miss Kopp. The librarians tell me I’m an eclectic reader. 😉

  31. I have learned about new authors through Facebook and then through blogs. It’s such a cool way to meet authors. Also through giveaways. I have won several giveaways and read the authors books and found new authors that way.

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