Collective blogs, short story anthologies, and shared public events are just some ways crime fiction writers are banding together to increase their reach and marketing footprint. This trend is not only great for writers, but also great for readers.
Collective Crime Fiction Blogs
A collective crime fiction blog is just like it sounds. A group of authors come together to create a blog, and posts are divided among participants. A shared workload means authors can spend more time writing and less time marketing. It also gives authors access to readers who may subscribe because of other group members. This is especially ideal for up-and-coming authors who have limited readership. It’s great for readers too because it gives them access to their favorite writers and exposure to new voices in a genre they already enjoy.
Kristopher Zgorski talks about this trend in his column “Blog Bytes,” featured in the September/ October issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. “Author collective blogs continue to be a popular way for writerly types to increase their visibility,” he explains. He highlights the Wicked Cozy Authors Blog as a successful example, which happens to be one of my favorites.
“The Wickeds” is a group of six best-selling authors who write traditional, cozy, and historical mysteries. Their blog has a fun, entertaining vibe. Books, pets, recipes, and writing life are just some of the topics they discuss. They also have “Wicked Accomplices,”—a clever title they’ve given to a handful of guest bloggers.
One not highlighted on Zgorski’s list, but also one of my favorites is Sleuthsayers. It boasts nearly forty contributors with award-winning novelists and accomplished short story authors. The topics are wide-reaching and always generate discussion. I learn something new each time I visit.
Miss Demeanors is a great resource, too. Named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2017 by Writer’s Digest, seven women mystery/suspense writers share insights about writing, reading, and research. Through their interviews, they promote other crime fiction authors in the community as well.
Another way crime fiction writers are coming together to increase their exposure (and deliver amazing stories) is through anthologies.
In a recent article in The Big Thrill, “Trend Alert: How Anthologies Help Authors,” Rick Ollerman, author of four novels and the editor of Down and Out Magazine, talks about this growing movement.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking that the crime fiction community is, in a way, almost being censored, if that’s not too strong a word, by the domination of the Big Five publishers. From a fiction standpoint, when you walk into a big box bookstore like Barnes & Noble, your choices are fairly limited to whatever the Big Boys are offering you.”
Discovering a fresh voice in this environment isn’t easy, he adds, which may be the driving factor in why readers are buying more anthologies, and authors are clamoring to be included in them.
Genre organizations, like Mystery Writers of America, sponsor themed anthologies each year where members have an opportunity to submit their stories. Their most recent publication, Scream and Scream Again, presented by best-selling children’s author, R.L. Stine, features middle grade “scary” short stories by best-selling authors and up-and-coming thriller writers.
Convention anthologies are also popular. Malice Domestic, a mystery fan convention held annually in Washington D.C. (read more about Malice Domestic in one of my past posts) features an anthology. Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible is their recent collection of short stories and will be released in May 2019. Bouchercon also publishes a themed anthology that is tied to the convention’s locale. Florida Happens: Tales of Mystery, Mayhem, and Suspense from the Sunshine State was featured this past year.
Another annual anthology that is one of my personal favorites is The Best American Mystery Stories. Each year, editor and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop, Otto Penzler, along with an established author in the mystery field, selects their favorite mystery and crime fiction stories. For the 2018 volume, which features stories from the previous year, New York Times best-selling author, Louise Penny, is the guest editor.
Shared Public Events
A third way authors expand their marketing reach is through collective public events. Book festivals are one example.
The Library of Congress National Book Festival is held annually in Washington D.C. and features many award-winning authors. But there are also smaller, more intimate festivals too. The American Writers Museum offers a detailed list. A popular one in my area is the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival.
Library panels are another way authors expand their marketing reach. Sisters-in-Crime (SinC) a genre organization that promotes advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers, has a library liaison on their national board of directors who works to bring authors and libraries together. Local SinC chapters hold library events. The Sisters-in-Crime Chessie Chapter, located in the Washington D.C. area, hosts a Mystery Author Extravaganza in November (Maryland) and December (Virginia) each year, as an example. Chapter authors talk about their new mystery/crime books and short stories published during the year. A bookseller attends and offers works for sale, and authors have a signing session.
Mystery conventions are a popular platform, too. ThrillerFest, Bouchercon, and Malice Domestic are the major conventions held each year. There is a cost to attend. The conventions offer a rare opportunity to meet several reader favorites in one location. Crime Fiction fans also have an opportunity to listen to panels and attend book signings. Much like the collective blogs, conventions are great for up-and-coming authors too. Their work is exposed to a wide-range of crime fiction fans because of the draw created by more established authors.
Collective blogs, short story anthologies, and shared public events are just three ways crime fiction writers are banding together to increase their reach and marketing footprint.
Have you found a new author because of one of these events? What other ways have you seen crime fiction writers coming together?
Stacy Woodson writes crime fiction. She is a U.S. Army veteran and memories of her time in the military are a source of inspiration for her stories. A Daphne du Maurier winner and Publishers Weekly contributor, her recent story, “Duty, Honor, Hammett,” appears in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s Nov/Dec issue. You can visit her at www.stacywoodson.com.