Jill Edmondson, a writer to watch

Jill Edmondson is a force to be reckoned with. Less than two years ago, this Toronto writer launched Blood and Groom, the first mystery in her Sasha Jackson series. Dead Light District followed this past March. And last night Jill celebrated Sasha’s third adventure, The Lies Have It, at a bash at Yorkville’s Pilot Tavern.

The books are fun to read. They’re fast-paced, humorous, reminiscent of the works of Janet Evanovich. Each successive book gets better, the writing tighter, the voice and style more assured. How Jill, a post-secondary communications teacher, has the time to turn them out so quickly is a mystery to me.

In two years, Jill has established herself as part of the Canadian crime-writing scene. Three books, and this past summer the series was optioned for a TV series. But up-and-coming and even established writers should also be watching her to learn how to market their books. Because marketing is now the responsibility of writers, and those who ignore this fact do so at their peril.

Jill takes advantage of every opportunity to get out word of her books. She’s thrown a launch party at the Pilot for each one of them, with great attention to detail: crime scene tape, customized cocktail napkins, long-stemmed roses for guests and tasty food. To ensure that things run smoothly, she hires three students, and she books Iden Ford to take photographs. She contacts the media. All three parties had a cash bar, but each guest was given a free drink (a shot of Goldschlager last night) to toast her and her novel. She told me not long ago that each event costs her about $2,000 and she considers the money well-spent.

She also takes part in as many promotional events as possible, some of which she arranges herself: TV and print interviews, talks at libraries and book clubs and book store signings. For Blood and Groom, she did about 60 events in 15 months.

Jill has mastered social media, and puts in the time to make it work for her. She blogs about 15 times a month – that comes down to every second day! Her posts run the gamut of opinion pieces, musings about her books and writing, and Q&As with other writers. A month ago, she noted in a blog that she’d posted 245 times in the past 27 months, and said that each blog takes her anywhere from 10 and 60 minutes to write. Is it worth it? It must be. She gets about 3,000 page views a month.

She’s also active on Facebook, with about 1,200 friends for the Sasha Jackson Mysteries page. Facebook, she says, has introduced her to a lot of readers. She has fans in Hawaii, Texas, Britain and Amsterdam that she’d never otherwise have connected with.

She’s a great believer in Twitter, which many writers aren’t comfortable with. A month ago, she’d chalked up 6,500 Tweets in the past two years and had 1,060 followers @JillEdmondson. She says she spends as much time re-tweeting or mentioning other authors and their updates as she does on her own updates. “Tweets only take a few seconds to write,” she notes, “but 6,500 of them add up!”

And as important as any of the above, Jill is generous. She gives to her readers and she also gives to fellow writers. She replies to tweets, Facebook comments and blog comments. She leaves comments on other writers’ sites, promotes their works on Twitter and Facebook, and interviews them on her blog. She takes neophytes like me under wing, and shows them how Twitter and other forms of promotion work.

She knows that the more she gives, the more she’ll get back.

About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer.
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