On Promotion… or Lack Thereof

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) by Travis Richardson

Like a lot of my blog posts, I don’t think about what I’m going to write until a few days before it is due. Sometimes there is a current event that motivates me into a writing and segueing those themes it into writing. A few times I’ve drafted text weeks in advance about something I wanted to study a little closer and then polished up the text the day it is due. This is not a good way to write a blog as I’m scrambling at the last moment, often publishing a few minutes before midnight on my assigned date. Not much different from taxes and driving to the Post Office on the elusive April 15 date.

Sometimes when I write a blog I’ll publicize it a little because I’m proud of the content, other times I don’t because I feel I could’ve written something better. Sometimes I like what I’ve written, but don’t publicize because I got distracted or feel shy about promotion. This lack of promotion doesn’t just happen with this blog, but with other events and achievements. When something happens I rarely think, I need to put this out on the web. When I think I should, I’ll usually drag my feet by over thinking and later regret not sharing that sharable event. While some people hate it, I have a degree of envy for people who are quick to post things in real time. 

Last week I was involved with five writing events. This was an unusually high number for me. Living in Los Angeles, I am blessed to be a part of a vibrant community of writers and creative people. Groups like Sisters in Crime Los Angeles and Mystery Writers of America SoCal are full of active members who support each other, create literary events or participate in them.

 lit-cine-bannerThe first event was Wednesday night. Noir vs. Cozy Smackdown organized by Writing Wranglers and Warriors very own Stephen Buehler. The concept was to put the bleak noir writers up against the more upbeat cozy writers. We read from passages that best represented the respective subgenres as well as best murder scenes, character descriptions, sex scenes, and settings. This was part of a larger event, the NoHo Litcrawl. We had a rotating crowd of 25-30 watching inside a karate studio. Cozy won and I was weak link in the noir offensive. Regardless, I had a great time.

 Noir vs. Cozy Smackdown.
Stephen Buehler sets the ground rules for Noir vs. Cozy Smackdown.
Noir Writers
Noir writers: Gary Phillip, Laurie Stevens, Craig Faustus Buck ad Sarah M. Chen.
Cozy writers
Stephen officiates over Linda O. Johnson, Ellen Byron, Diane Vallere, & Sybil Johnson.

jewishnoircoverThe next four events were to promote JEWISH NOIR. I’m proud to be in the anthology with my story “Quack and Dwight.” The editor, Kenneth Wishnia, flew out from New York to promote the book. While the first event on Thursday night was in the coolest location, Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, the turnout wasn’t spectacular. Parking is tough in that area and the clubs on Thursday nights are almost as busy the weekends. (Elvis Costello had been at the store earlier that week.)  

Saturday we were at the Brentwood Library, Sunday at Book Carnival in Orange and Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. We sold and signed books at every event, but the biggest turnout came on Sunday at 10:30 in morning when I expected the least. Thanks Ann at Book Carnival!  

Jewish Noir writers
Jewish Noir writers: Michael Cooper, Melissa Dante, Gary Phillips, Travis Richardson, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Wendy Hornsby and Kenneth Wishnia.

During all of this I put out a message on Facebook about the “upcoming events” and shared and liked a few other FB posts. I also sent an email to a few selected work colleagues (I was once criticized for announcing a short story publication during “work hours” so I keep most writing talk to myself) and a the friend of a professor of Jewish studies who I met at a bbq. I didn’t do Twitter or pump the events up the way I should.

Days before any of the events my wife told me that I should word out and I said yes you are right and then proceeded to do nothing. It wasn’t that I forgot, but I was having trouble pulling the trigger. My brain froze, unable to promote my upcoming appearances. I think this comes from a fear of being too pushy/obnoxious or maybe that I would set somebody up for disappointment. Yet people won’t know about what I’m doing if I don’t put me out there. Often I’ll post pictures after the fact (which I feel more comfortable doing) and I’ll get an occasional “if only I’d known” comment. 

Regarding today’s blog, I thought about inviting JEWISH NOIR authors to write a paragraph in the voice of their character to promote their stories. Other authors have been doing wonderful promotions, but I kept dragging my feet and then boom, October 27 is here.

So by saying all this on the open confessional of the internet (aka blog) begs the question, what am I going to do to reverse this course? The best answer is that I need to promote more often, regardless of my nature. Authors write, but they also must sell. I can start now by naming two events that I will be at in the month of November. So if you or anybody you know lives in the Los Angeles area would like to attend, please come or invite other people.   

Nov. 7 in LA, reading and music.
Nov. 7 in LA, reading and music.

On Saturday, November 7, SW Lauden will launch his debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. This event called Read Out Loud features several readers and live bands. Writing Wranglers and Warriors’ Sarah M. Chen will be reading too. There will be food and beverages. You can find out more details on the Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/1653330388267270/ .

Men of Mystery on Nov. 14 in Irvine, CA
Men of Mystery on Nov. 14 in Irvine, CA

On Saturday, November 14 in Irvine, I will be a part of the Men of Mystery conference. One of fifty authors, I will get to sit a table with mystery writer fans. This year features keynote speakers Phillip Margolin and C.J. Box. You can sign up here: http://menofmystery.org/index.html 

Appropriately enough, on Sunday November 8, Sisters in Crime Los Angeles is having publicist  Liz Donatelli give a talk. The meeting starts at 2pm at the South Pasadena Library. http://sistersincrimela.com/  Hopefully I can learn a trick or a dozen from her. And finally, I’ve been asked to chair the 2017 California Crime Writers Conference marketing panels. In some ways I feel I’m the worst person for the job since I suck at it, but I’ve also been watching others and have dozens of questions and many areas I’d like to have covered. Although it’s far away now, the dates are June 10 and 11, 2017. If you don’t live in LA and are writer, this might be the best reason to save up and come out.

Do you have a trouble promoting your work or is it something natural?


Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at http://www.chekhovshorts.com, and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. “Quack and Dwight” is his latest short story and can be found in the Anthology JEWISH NOIR.  www.tsrichardson.com 

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17 thoughts on “On Promotion… or Lack Thereof

  1. I enjoyed this post Travis, and am very jealous that you have so many venues in which to promote your book and interact with other writers! What a wonderful thing to be close to so many places where you can hone your craft, sell your books, and gain insight and knowledge. You’re in an awesome place. Good luck! I, too, suck at promotion, for fear of over-promoting my books and bothering my friends and cohorts with too much ego. It’s something I definitely need to work on.


    1. Thank you LInda,

      Los Angeles and other big cities offer a wealth of opportunities for events, but it is always in competition with other events and trying to attract people who won’t want to fight the traffic. It also a good place to find several like minded people.


  2. You sound like a typical introvert writer. 🙂 I’m the same way. I have a hard time promoting myself – just not comfortable putting myself out there. I can perform (read) more easily in front of people I DON’T know than before those I do. I think it has to do with worrying about what friends think of me versus strangers. I’m much more likely to advertise an event on social media than to email friends.
    Good luck with your events. Sounds like you have an active writer’s environment.


  3. Travis, I feel your hesitation. I have no problem promoting other people, but myself not so muich. Some may come from the ‘don’t talk about yourself’ heard when growing up. Some, shyness (yes, I do have some shy pieces). Mostly, not wanting to irritate people and have them not like me. I’ve learned to push past that a bit, but it is a process.

    As to the events you described, they sound wonderful. What a great environment to live it. Here’s to a great November. Doris


    1. Thank you Doris,

      Yes, upbringing has a lot to do with it. I was taught not to brag, but I also had a weird Puritanical parent who thought (almost) everything I did was bad. I felt inclined to say very little lest I incur wrath for an infraction I was unaware of committing.


  4. Wow. Your a busy man, Travis. I can empathize with the difficulty promoting and marketing one’s work — especially when one’s a bit shy. The events you are promoting in Writing Wranglers & Warriors so sounds interesting.


  5. Great article and easy to relate to. I too envy all the opportunities you have and partake in to enhance your writing. C J Box is from our town here and is quite popular in his home state of Wyoming. I have not heard him speak though. Have fun! And put yourself out there, sounds like it will increase a success well earned.


  6. I’m the same way You actually know that I finally decided to do something out of the norm and toot my own horn with a great review that singled me out of a short story collection with 6 other writers. I normally would never do that but after reading your post, I thought why not? The feedback was very rewarding and I’m glad I did it. We shyer writers need to remember that promotion is part of being a writer and no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, it’s just part of the job. So yes, you need to remember to promote those cool events! Good post, Travis!


  7. It’s definitely my weak link, partly because it’s not in my nature and partly because I just don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. Part of the problem is the dearth (or maybe I just don’t know where/how to look) of opportunities in tiny little West Virginia to do writing events. I just went to the WV Book Festival, which was productive and have recently started contacting libraries around the state, but I feel a little like I’ve tapped the resources in my town. I guess I just need to keep turning over rocks.


  8. I can do the talking about my writing to people at my craft fairs easily enough when it’s one-to-one, and I’m okay now at the public speaking in front of a relatively small audience but I’ve only once actually read out loud from one of my own novels. I would be cringing if I was reading mine out in front of loads of other authors who might be mentally criticising as i was reading. i think you’re actually VERY BRAVE to perform in those circumstances. What I’m rubbish at is the internet promotions- the relentless continuation of putting my work out there in an entertaining variety of ways – and I really do have to get to grips with that soon. As Joe says above, it’s then about spreading wider than your own locale.


  9. One of the reasons for this blog. We each promote the other writers and that helps all of us, and that’s why this blog works so well. It helps with support until we feel confident enough to branch out. I need to do so much more promoting. I am scared to death to read from my work, and anyone who knows me would have a hard time believing that. I too am envious of all the places you are able to promote. Great blog, gets us all thinking about promotion. Remember to reciprocate. Cher’ley


  10. Great post, Travis! How cool to be able to participate in so many writing events and to have so many great opportunities! Living in Wyoming, not much happens here, so many times we have to make our own opportunities, such as me tying into dog rescue, not just in the state where I live, but surrounding states as well. And, to find small shops, not just bookstores, at which to sell, and thankfully, one such “holiday store” that’s about to open has accepted my books for this season! It’s not easy to find the time to promote when you want to write and, in my case, have a very busy day job as well as write for other publications for money. Juggling is difficult, but can be done — one just needs to make the time and make choices … neither always easy. Good luck to you and the rest my Writing Wranglers friends!


  11. You are not alone I think we need to promote more often. I like you don’t want to appear to pushy. Thank you , you have given me the push I need to promote my upcoming book signings. I hope both events went well.


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