My Nora Tierney Mysteries are published through a Baltimore indie press, Bridle Path Press, leaving much of the publicity and marketing of my books to me.
With the publication of the second book, The Green Remains, I knew from past experience that a signing tour would be essential to spread word of the newest book to mystery readers had read and enjoyed the first, The Blue Virgin. In the best journalistic way, I needed to answer the Big 5: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Three were immediately knocked off: The WHO was easy- me! And the WHAT were the book events, readings with signings and talks about the novels, set in England. The HOW was easily decided, too. By car, packed up and filled to the brim with clothes, cartons of books and bookmarks, posters and postcards, and anything else a person traveling alone for a month would require.
For WHEN, I chose September. People would be back from vacations, and with the start of the school year libraries active and in full swing. The hottest weather would be behind me, and I shouldn’t face the rigors of snowy winter driving.
The WHERE led me to examine my budget and balance costs against profit. I looked at a map and the states I would drive through between my North Carolina home and Maine. Why Maine, you ask? Because Maine is home to my best friend, Barb Jancovic, who runs the shop 365 Days of Christmas, where she sells my books. So one guaranteed event there, coupled with a way to wrangle a visit with my friend from kindergarten. Hey, a girl’s got to have fun, too, right?
Keeping budget firmly in mind, I consulted family and friends who would be willing to put me up in the states between my beginning and end points. I made a listing of their towns and surrounding areas and investigated indie bookstores and libraries willing to host me. Once I had a potential signing lined up, I’d call my cousin/friend/son and find out if their sofa/guest room was open to me in September.
It helps that my middle son and his wife are both librarians, so two events clicked immediately into place in Schoharie, NY, with two more to come through Sisters in Crime contacts. And a nice visit with them at the same time. This comes midway through the month, and my husband plans to drive up to meet me for six days. We can celebrate his birthday and it will break up our time apart.
With a lot of territory to cover to justify this trip, I put on my thinking cap. My main character, Nora Tierney, lives in England but her back story has her born and raised in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Would their library like to host me and hear why she left CT for the UK? Bingo.
A good friend lives in Newton, CT, where there is a weekend Arts Festival in September. Was there an Authors Tent I could share? Score.
That cluster of cousins who live in northern New Jersey has an indie bookstore in their neighborhood, which was willing to host me for a signing, with pizza and a mini-family reunion to follow.
And so it went, four weeks or so of emails and phone calls, setting up a framework as the dates started to fill up.
On September 4th, I’ll kiss my amazing husband, holding down the fort at home, and leave behind my Spinone, Radar, as I wave goodbye to our river home and set off on a journey that will bring me through seven states and eighteen events before I return home on October 2nd.
I’ll be talking about Nora and her England adventures in crime in libraries, bookstores, home book clubs and even one hospital lobby. I’ll be interviewed in Manhattan on a radio show, when I stop in to see my NY agent, who is trying to sell my unpublished Trudy Genova series via the traditional route. I’ll be talking to a senior high school class taking a detective fiction class, for pure fun, where I’ll hand out a reading list of UK authors they can investigate.
The event I’m most looking forward to is the last: the Floral Park Library in my hometown on Long Island. Friends from high school still living in the area are coming out for what’s turning into a mini-reunion. I’ve promised my mother to take photos of the house I grew up in, but it’s a special delight to be returning to the place where my library card was worn out with my own books in tow.
In 28 days I’m only springing for lodging on two nights, and one of those is a B&B to coincide with meeting up with friend Louise Penny as she launches The Beautiful Mystery on her own book tour. And I know I’ll have enjoyed my family and friends and have met many great book lovers while hopefully selling books and bringing Nora Tierney to new readers.
* * * * *
A former writer with “Mystery Review” magazine for seven years, Marni Graff has interviewed Ian Rankin, Deborah Crombie, Val McDermid, and her mentor, P. D. James, amongst many others. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff’s English mystery series features American writer Nora Tierney: The Blue Virgin is set in Oxford; The Green Remains in the Lake District. Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer for modern writers to find their writing group. Her poetry was most recently published in A Tribute to Amelia Earhart and her creative nonfiction seen in Southern Women’s Review. You can learn more about Marni on her Amazon.com Author’s Page and her blog.