Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book promotion north of 60

Hello crime writers and fans. This is my first post to Mystery Writers Ink, so I'll start with a short introduction.

When I was 11, I told my mom I'd be a writer. In fact, I'd be a long-haul truck driver and write about what I'd seen from an 18-wheeler. Great idea, until I turned 16 and realized I can barely drive around the block. I'm still a crappy driver, but the writing thing stuck.

In October, 2009 my first Markus Fanger adventure crime From Ice to Ashes was published by NeWest Press in Edmonton. In From Ice to Ashes Fanger and a young offender fight a terrorist threat on the course of the Yukon Arctic Ultra. It's a thriller set in today's Yukon. The only corsets and garters you'll find are in our annual Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival.

From the day the first box of books arrived, I went into the bookselling business, Yukon style. With only four bookstores in the territory, most sales are rung in at gas stations (good thing I work at one), cafes, gift shops, and museums. Writers have to make our own marketing opportunities, so this winter I jumped on the Alberta SuperNet, and followed it way off the beaten track to Delia, in the Hand Hills.

The SuperNet connects Albertans to every government facility in the province. It achieves exactly what the province wants: for Albertans to leap the digital divide. Tandberg Communications unifies all the disparate operating systems, from dial-up to high speed to fiber optic for podcasts, broadcasts and live play. Presenters can display photos, clips, other websites, and record the presentation. It's a vast improvement over video conferencing.

Delia is linked to 35 libraries in the Marigold region and 338 branches province-wide. Regardless how much money and energy I had, I could never reach that many venues on a physical book tour.

Like filaments of a web, the SuperNet is lightweight and invisible. The hour-long reading flew by in real time as natural as if I'd been in the room. To "sign" books, I mailed bookplates commemorating Delia's first "no-fly author at home".

Two weeks later, I was in Scroggie Creek, the heart of Jack London country, staffing a Yukon Quest Dog Drop. We hosted two dozen dog teams on the 1000-mile international sled dog race.

Each musher who crossed our threshold received a complimentary copy of From Ice to Ashes from NeWest Press.I wasn’t going to make everyone pack an extra 12 ounces for 400 miles of trail, so at Meet the Mushers I handed out the copies.

From there Adventure Canada asked me to read to their Yukon Quest tour guests. After a short walk to the Takhini River with visitors from Ontario to California we returned to a roaring bonfire with reading and discussion

Not everything I try is a raving success. On a recent trip to Toronto I learned other tactics are needed for the big city, but to reach the Yukon’s 30,000 residents, and beyond, a personal touch works best.

For more on Jessica's distance-promotion techniques, check out: