HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, the first book in my new mystery series, debuted February 2nd, 2010. After a year of writing and rewriting and rewriting the book, it was finally time for the fun to begin.
In other words, it's Killer Party time!
I know that some authors dread the promotional part of the publishing process. They may be introverted or uncomfortable meeting strangers. Or they may be reluctant to toot their own horns—a major part of the "selling" aspect of promotion. Then again, maybe they simply dislike the details of promoting a book—all that cold-calling of bookstores, scheduling a tour, traveling around the state or country—and keeping track of it all is just too overwhelming.
Me, I love "going on tour" with a new book. I don't do it for the money—I tend to lose more than I make, after paying for eye-catching bookmarks, buying gas or airline tickets, staying in hotels, and eating at Appleby's. But after a day—or year—of writing, I long to get out of the house, away from the computer, and chat about than mysteries with a bunch of people who share my interests.
Most of my promotional events are low-key affairs. I often share a table and a mic with a couple of other writers in my genre, hand out some self-promoting bookmarks, and serve cookies or cupcakes as a way of thanking (some may say bribing) the audience for coming.
But since the first book in my new mystery series, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, features party planner Presley Parker as an amateur sleuth, I've had to kick it up a notch. Obviously I love to host parties or I wouldn't have created a party planning sleuth. I have an extensive background in "partying." Ever since I hosted my first event at age two—at tea party for my dolls—I’ve been sending out themed invitations, filling party rooms with balloons, and planning fun games and activities. I went on to major in "partying" at the University of Oregon. (Unfortunately, they didn't offer a degree in the subject and finally asked me to try another university.) I've even written a half-dozen non-fiction books on how to host parties for kids and adults.
So in keeping with my mystery-party theme, I'm turning my upcoming book events into mini-parties. I’m creating "invitations" on the computer and decorating them with clip art balloons, champagne glasses, and a jpg of the book cover. Then I’m sending them out to everyone I know via Facebook announcements, Twitter Tweets, and emails to friends.
I'm offering incentives to lure unsuspecting readers to the event, such as free snacks (poison-free), drinks (wine loosens the pocketbook), and party favors (party albums, party planning notebooks, wine charms). When the "guests" arrive, the "entertainment" begins in the form of a hopefully amusing chat about Presley's parties, murders, and love interest.
Finally I'm sending everyone home with party "favors"—charm-enhanced bookmarks that offer free party tips like: "Party Tip #9. Perfect parties, like perfect murders, are planned down to the last detail. Still, something will go wrong. That's why we have party planning handbooks and jail cells" and "Party Tip # 23. Deal with party crashers quickly, quietly, and discreetly. You want to read about your event in the society section of the newspaper, not in the police blotter—or the obituaries."I'll admit that turning a book signing into a book party may take a little more effort, but it's a lot more fun the fans and a lot more fun for me. I'm already planning my next book party in August when my second book, HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH, is published. Luckily I have a few months to prepare. It'll take me than long to make all those party favors…
Penny Warner has published over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for adults and children, including over a dozen party books. Her latest book, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, is the first in a new mystery series. Her books have won national awards, garnered excellent reviews, and have been printed in 14 countries. Her first mystery, DEAD BODY LANGUAGE, in her Connor Westphal series featuring a deaf reporter in the California Gold Country, won a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery and was nominated for an Agatha Award. Her non-fiction book, THE OFFICIAL NANCY DREW HANDBOOK, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Warner writes for party sites such as OrientalTradingCompany.com, BirthdaysRUs.com, iParty.com, and BalloonTime.com, and with her husband Tom creates interactive murder mystery fundraisers for libraries across the country. She can be reached at pennywarner.com.