Mystery, Murder and Merlot – A Promotional Idea

Molon Lave VineyardI’ve read the twitter posts and yahoo group postings recently about what authors are doing for promotional ideas.  There are lots of different approaches.  One route my critique group partner, Lane Stone, has recently taken was collaborating with two other authors for an evening at the Molon Lave Vineyards in Warrenton, Virginia, an event which was co-sponsored by Bell Bridge Books.  

When I asked Lane how this evening came about, she said, “In 2013 the host of a local TV show asked me for a repeat performance, and I thought a panel would be more fun.  I invited Arlene. We have the same kind of humor – kind of sick, but not too [sick] – and we enjoyed the show.  When she started getting the winery event together, she invited me.  Entangled gives me so much marketing support and, believe me, I’m grateful.  Kevin pays an excellent publicist.  Both work, but it’s also important for authors to support each other.  Nothing takes the place of that.  I think it’s part of being a professional.”

domestic_affairs_cover_small[1]Lane Stone is the author of the Tiara Mystery Series (Domestic Affairs) and the Middleburg based mystery series (Maltipoos Are Murder).  Her partners in crime for the evening were Kevin Symmons who is the author of paranormal suspense (Rites of Passage), romantic suspense (Solo) and a thriller (Out of the Storm), and Arlene Kay who writes cozy mysteries (Die Laughing), the Boston Uncommons mystery series (Swann Dive), and romantic suspense (Intrusion).

The event cost $15 but a wine tasting was included as well as a glass of your choice of wine and light hors d’oeuvres that included cheese, meats, fruits, and crackers.  The wine was good – I ended up with the Merlot.

Author talk at wineryI had expected it to be a book signing and it was, but much more.  Each author gave a short talk that really engaged the audience.  There was a discussion about protagonists (famous detectives like Sherlock Holmes), villains (Dr. Moriarity was a favorite) and sidekicks (Dr. Watson) and each’s role.  Clues were given for the audience to guess which character or author the speaker was referencing.  It was evident from the quick responses that there were avid mystery readers in the crowd.  As Kevin noted, “It was a delightful event attended by knowledgeable readers at a storybook venue.”   And Arlene agreed, “I am always energized by meeting a group of informed, intelligent readers of mystery novels.They keep authors on their toes, ask intriguing questions and make the event a lot of fun. Our gathering at the winery was just that type of crowd.”

After the talks, the authors took questions and then mingled at each table.  It was fun to see the readers discussing the books and ideas with the authors as they signed books.

I’ve been to other events where the authors talk about their book and read excerpts.  I’ve heard numerous speakers tell about their path.  While that is interesting, I really liked this format – and, while I wasn’t keeping track of how many books they sold, I bought one that I hadn’t intended to buy and there were people who both brought books to have signed and were buying additional books.  This was one promotional idea that I really enjoyed participating in and would do again.

How about you? What’s the most interesting promotional idea you’ve been involved with – either as a participant or as an author?

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