LUCY BURDETTE: On the plane to Cleveland last weekend, I ran into Chris Knopf and his lovely wife Mary Farrell and caught up with him a bit about writing and life. Chris and Mary run a busy advertising agency. On the side, he writes crime fiction--up until now, two books a year. On the side!
The first in his new mystery/thriller series, Dead Anyway,
launched in September 2012, and received unprecedented starred reviews from
Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus and Library Journal. The longer we talked, the more I realized he might have wisdom to share with us about both publishing and marketing. Take it away Chris!
CHRIS KNOPF: When I’m not writing mysteries and thrillers I run a marketing communications industry. So you might think that I’m a whiz at marketing my books. I’m not. Not even close. There’s something oddly different about promoting other people’s products and services versus promoting yourself. If you’re reading this blog, you already know several people who are a lot better at it than me. But, I do know something about the topic in general, and can share a few things I’ve picked up from the marketing world at large.
• There are no silver bullets. No one promotional tactic is going to sell your book. In fact, the more different things you do – social media, blogs, radio and TV appearances, publicity, mystery conferences, Amazon reviews, etc, the better. There’s a reinforcing effect that happens through the interaction of multiple media.
• If you’re paying for it yourself, advertising isn’t worth the cost until you get to a certain level of sales and distribution. Of course, if your publisher wants to advertise you, in which case, excellent!
• Ditto hired press agents. They’re usually not worth the cost until you get to a certain level of sales and distribution. It’s also very good to learn how to promote yourself. You’ll be better at it and the press will be more receptive.
• Digital marketing is in the process of wiping out traditional media. This is good for you, especially mid-listers and beginners. Instead of a few powerful outlets that focus on a handful of books, there are nearly limitless digital properties that rate and celebrate thousands of titles.
• There are no experts. Only people who want you to think there are. However, there are lots of really smart, decent and generous people in the mystery world who can teach you a lot if you politely ask them and listen to what they say.
Chris Knopf is CEO of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group in Avon, CT. He’s also written ten books, including two series set in the Hamptons, one starring Sam Acquillo (Black Swan, 2011) and a spin-off featuring Sam’s lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski, including Ice Cap, released June, 2012.
Chris will be checking in with us over the day to answer questions about marketing, publishing (he's had experience with both big publishers and small presses,) his new novel, or his two wacky Welsh terriers...