Friday, May 23, 2008

Reaching out to readers through Sisters in Crime

In author blogs and chat forums, writers are always asking each other, “How do I reach more readers and the public?”

Well, this week I’d like to talk up an organization that provides fantastic outreach opportunities: Sisters in Crime.

Last weekend, for example, I appeared at the Burbank Public Library on a panel called “So You Want to be a Writer?” that was sponsored by my local Sisters in Crime chapter in Los Angeles. About 30 people attended, and by all accounts it was a great success. From left to right, pictured in the first photo are moderator Eric Stone, Yours Truly, Darrell James, Gay Degani, and Jeff Sherratt.

Libraries are one of my favorite venues for panels and author events, because the program is organized around topics that attract a general audience rather than author BSP (blatant self promotion). And my chapter of Sisters in Crime is wonderful at working with libraries to bring writers and readers together. Sure, as a writer you get the chance to mention your work and sell a few books, but the primary focus is on communicating with readers about writing-oriented topics that appeal to a wide variety of readers.

By the way, you don’t have to be female to join Sisters in Crime; plenty of “sisters” are men. And you don’t even have to be published—the group includes booksellers, editors, librarians, teachers, and readers. It’s an incredibly nurturing, supportive group of people who have helped along many writers with their careers. I first joined Sisters in Crime a couple of years ago, when I had an unfinished manuscript in my hands and a dream of launching my own mystery series. I feel as though I’ve learned “the ropes” of meeting and greeting the public, networking, and—yes—even knowing when to throw in a little BSP from time to time.

How about you? Are you a “sister,” and what have been your success stories or events you’ve participated in through Sisters in Crime? I’d love to hear how some of the other SiC chapters go about connecting writers and readers.


Camille Minichino said...

Great idea to talk about SinC, Kathryn. I'm past pres. and now on the board of the NorCal chapter.

We try to have something for everyone -- writers and readers. Examples: an upcoming meeting involves learning to shoot (!) and a tour of San Quentin prison and gift shop (really).
We also had a very successful "Get Your Manuscript to New York" workshop in March for the nearly published.

Anyone in the Northern California area Bay Area who's interested can email me for membership info or just details of events where all are welcome.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Omygosh, Camille, I would love to take the shooting lesson and tour of San Quentin! That's so cool that you all are doing that! I wish SoCal weren't so far from NorCal, lol.

Linda O. Johnston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda O. Johnston said...

I love Sisters in Crime, too, Kathryn! As you know, I also belong to the Southern California chapter. I especially enjoyed the conference a few years ago: SinC Goes To the Movies: Selling Your Book To Hollywood--something I'd imagine we all aspire to, especially living in the area. The regular programs are good, too. And I loved having a short story published in one of the anthologies, Murder on Sunset Boulevard. Then there are the fun SinC breakfasts held at Malice Domestic... I could go on and on, and already have!

Terri Thayer said...

Me, too. I love Sisters in Crime. It was at a meeting several years ago that I met my first San Jose police officer. Her generosity and genuine desire to share what she knew really helped me approach other experts.

I remember a SinC LA conference where Elizabeth Devine was a speaker. She was talking about writing a new show called CSI.

Anonymous said...

As a freelancer who writes both mystery and romance, I value organizations such as Sisters in Crime that support writers.

Jacqueline Seewald
Five Star/Gale

Janet Reid said...

Sisters in Crime rocks!

I am always glad to see 'active participant of SinC' on an incoming query letter cause it means the writer is usually a lot more prepared to be published.

Kathryn Lilley said...

You're so right, Janet! Sisters in Crime does a great job of teaching us the ropes. I was like a sponge when I first joined, soaking up as much information as I could from the people I met. I'm still constantly learning, and also trying to pass along what I've learned to others.

Just_Me said...

Sounds like a wonderful group.Do the Sisters care when in the cycle of history your crime is set?

I write sci-fi with a mystery twist, it's not cozy but it is crime fiction.

Kathryn Lilley said...

You are welcome to write in any time of history--even the future! It's definitely not just a group for cozies. Hard-boiled, noir, contemporary, historical, we've got them all! Look at the national group, and then find the local chapter nearest to you. Best of luck!

Just_Me said...

Thank you!

I'm moving this week and as soon as I find the local library I'll hunt down the local Sisters in Crime.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Sounds great! And you can always find your local chapter through the national organization,

Anonymous said...

I don't know what I'd do without Sisters in Crime. I belong to two chapters, an "old" (New England, since my detectives are two nosy Puritans from Boston and I grew up in Oxford, MA,) and a brand new chapter in Upstate NY -- the Mavens of Mayhem. Even tho. we're a new group - a year old, actually -- we've done one program featuring Julia Spencer Fleming and will do a panel on writing the short story on June 14th featuring two Agatha nominated shorts writers, Nan Higgenson and Nancy Means Wright, one ex-pres. of MWA in Bob Wright and little me, M. E. Kemp -- no prizes yet but nominated for best s.s. in DEADLY INK. Marilyn