Friday, May 27, 2005

Press Releases

My friend Steve Greenberg has been helping me put together press releases for Mahu. He says I need all different kinds of releases-- one directed to South Florida media that emphasize I'm a local resident; one for the gay media that emphasize the gay content of the book; HTML email releases with images; plain text email... the list goes on!

It's really hard to write your own copy! Steve has been helping me polish up the copy that Haworth wrote for their website, adapting it to my use.

I've been hunting for lists of book reviewers on line, and have found a couple. Those folks will be able to contact me or Haworth (I haven't figure out which yet) to get a review copy of the book.

I'm also going to send my email release out to contacts & acquaintances for whom I don't have a snail mail address to send a postcard. Hey, you never know who will want to buy a book!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Course Adoption

I'm working on my marketing plan for Mahu right now. Trying to think of everything that I can do to help promote the book is a tough job! When I signed the contract with Haworth, I had to fill out a long marketing questionnaire, and I know that they have things they'll do to promote the book, but I want to do my part, too.

Haworth is mostly an academic publisher, and I don't think they have much experience promoting fiction. One cool thing they do is offer a review copy for academics, so one of my projects is going to be to send an email to people who teach gay studies or gay lit courses letting them know about the book. I think it would be great to get the book adopted for a course or two.

I think there's a real justification for this, too. I think any survey of gay lit course should include current books as well as classics, and because Mahu is a gay coming out story, I think it can fit with any survey of gay lit. Also because it crosses genres-- combines the coming out story with the mystery-- it's a unique approach.

According to the president of Haworth's book division, Bill Palmer, whom I met at Saints & Sinners, Haworth already has a list of these courses. I've been doing my own research online, to come up with my own list as well. I know from my own experience choosing books for courses I teach, it's a long process, so I'm not expecting anything to happen quickly.

In August, once the book is out and professors are returning to campuses, I'm going to send an email to as many professors as I can find explaining the book and inviting them to register for a review copy. Then we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Saints & Sinners

This past weekend I was in New Orleans for the Saints & Sinners conference, my first opportunity to go to a writer's conference as a real, published author. (OK, the book isn't exactly out yet, but it felt real!)

I went to a couple of workshops (John Morgan Wilson rocks!) and picked up a couple of tidbits. I participated in a panel discussion with three other authors: Alistair McCartney, whose queer encyclopedia is coming out next year (really interesting writing); Lauren Sanders, whose book I haven't read but want to; and Aaron Krach, author of Half-Life, which I had just read before the conference.

It was a really interesting panel-- after we got past the basic stuff about how we got started and what we write, we actually talked a bit about what moves us as readers and writers, and about gay publishing and our obligations to our audience and our material.

Later in the day, I participated in a group reading with a bunch of other authors. It's the first time I wasn't really nervous when reading my own work.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Another way to publicize the book, beyond the postcards, is through a logo that I had designed last year. My friend Maury hooked me up with an artist, and the three of us brainstormed the book's title and concept to come up with a visual way to represent it.

It was a fascinating process, thinking about iconography-- the science of symbols and their meanings. There are certain symbols that say "gay"-- the rainbow, the pink triangle. Symbols that say "Hawaii"-- palm trees, leis, the hibiscus flower, volcanoes, surfboards. (Of course these symbols can have other meanings too-- other tropical locations, for example.)

John, the artist, came up with a row of surfboards in rainbow of colors, with the title, Mahu across them, and the book's website,, underneath. It's gorgeous and powerful, and you can read that rainbow as gay if you want, or just read it is a bunch of pretty-colored surfboards.

I've started having some merchandise made up with the logo. Golf shirts (which I can wear to work, to writer's groups meetings, conferences, etc.) t-shirts, a sleeveless T I can wear to walk the dog. Labels and boxer shorts & other junk that I can give away as promotions, too. I set up a site at where anyone can buy the stuff, too.


I'm moving into the marketing phase for Mahu now. Haworth agreed to print up some postcards with the book's cover on the front, and info on the book on the back. I've been assembling mailing lists of labels, in two groups.

First, I went on line and found lists of gay bookstores, gay newspapers, mystery bookstores and mystery reviewers. I sent one round of postcards out to that list already, letting them know that the book will be out in July. From what I understand, they need long lead time for orders, requesting review copies, etc.

I have also started a mailing list for friends & family. First, my holiday card lists, then everyone I remember from college & business school. Anyone I have a business card from-- doctors, dentists, realtors, etc. You never know who will turn out to be a mystery fan, or need a gift for a gay or mystery reader.

I'm also taking a whole stack with me to New Orleans next week for Saints & Sinners, a gay & lesbian writer's conference, and I'll have a stack held back for Bouchercon, the worldwide mystery conference in Chicago in September. I don't know if anyone ever buys a book based on a postcard, but the whole idea is to get your name & the book's name out there. The more times someone runs across you or your book, the more opportunities they have to buy it.