Monday, April 22, 2013

Using Journalism to Promote Your Fiction

Many ways of promoting your fiction writing are ineffective. People receiving an alert to your new book might say, yes, but that’s not real. Why should I spend time on this author? What can I learn while eing entertained? So she likes to dance the Tango, or so what if he is using a variety of weapons, swords, cross bows or guns, what does the author know?

When we write fiction, we are mini experts on the subjects within the book. The protagonist’s work, the locale and the era in which the novel is set contribute to its validity. Therein lies your article, essay or blog.

Blogs, essays and articles are your vehicles to show you know about your subject. You can focus in on the subject and get all boring about it—or drop characters into the atmospheric stew and show them picking through the facts to get out of trouble. Journalism reports facts, hopefully in an entertaining and engaging way. To promote your book, the piece should be linked in theme or have an analysis of some conflict resolved in your book.

One writer many of us know and may have followed as a journalist is Anna Quindlen, author of the brilliant Every Last One. She could never have written this as a cub reporter, an obituary writer, or even as a budding columnist. It took aging her “wine’ and enhancing her experiences to make the final product, a great and brave book. She didn’t just “write off the news,” as she suggested she did at the newspaper, she recreated it.

The following issues for journalism are found in my own works:

The World, the Flesh and the Devil uses scenes from my great grandfather’s lumber business in central Pennsylvania, The description of the logging camp with the men playing a game of “giant fiddlesticks” refers to the logrolling, a serious business. A scandal in a nearby monastery in 1904, which one of my nursing home friends lived through drives the main plot.

Mortal Coil uses the nursing home setting because to murder a helpless old woman in her bed, cut off her hair and repeat that crime is the antipathy of what nursing homes are about, a safe place to be treated and rehabilitated. The story takes place northwest of Atlanta where the Kennesaw Mountain displays the changing seasons. The subplot is driven by a behind-the-scenes scandal of greed and neglect. (Lots of articles on this subject preceded my debut novel.)

Tangled Web includes my adoption search and speculation about my Welsh family. The non-identifying information is a word-for-word replica of a part of my documented information circa 1937. My search generated many articles before I took it to the emotional level with fiction.

Kill Fee shows that even a friendly duplicate bridge game can lead to murder. (Although, bridge players have been known to feel the urge.) Without my years as a director for the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League), I could not have shown the game unfolding in the room with map-like accuracy.

Medium Rare shows hospice workers in a comedy of personal errors as they lay aside their crazy personal live to do their jobs. I was a volunteer for 18 years.

Daughters of the Sea cobbles together my multiple trips to the paradises of the South Pacific. The island legends create the impetus for the book and set me up to write travel articles. The legends make good blurbs describing visual scenes without disorienting the readers.

Books contain a variety of potential issues for articles, including the forensics of, not just a “what if murder” but the histories and descriptions of places and cultures that I wouldn’t have known without my hands-on journeys.

Julie Eberhart Painter, is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, its sequel, Medium Rare, and, Daughters of the Sea, a paranormal just out from http://www.MuseItUp Used copies of The World the Flesh and the Devil are available on

Visit Julie’s Web site at


Big Mike said...

This gets at a topic I try to get authors at a local writers group to keep front in their minds both when they start a book and tout to a publisher, namely the premise, the tag line, the very core of what the story is exploring. It's the lure to hook, the statement to immediately highlight to people only seeing a title just what these 90K words are all about.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thanks for your take on my point. Soft sell...

Mary McCall said...

Wonderful post, Julie. You really got to the heart of the matter.

Liz Fountain said...

Very thought-provoking, Julie. Gives me a new way to look at "mining" some of my work. I love how fellow writers always spark my creativity!


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Keep in mind we are in the entertainment business.

And, you are creative, Liz. Just finished your story in our anthology.