Marketing The Beggar’s Opera

I spent about an hour on the phone yesterday brainstorming with the folks from Penguin’s marketing and publicity departments. Exciting stuff! We’re talking about the book launch(es) in February and also what website content will look like on both my website and theirs.

Penguin is suggesting putting together a publisher’s micro-website like the one it has done for the Witches of Babylon, a kind of  “behind the scenes” look at the characters, the inspiration for the story, historical information about Cuba etc.

I don’t know the characters’ backstories myself — these are slowly being revealed to me as I write more about them so I’m not sure that I can supply some of the information they’ve asked for.  We also talked about putting up stock photographs for the characters but I’m not really comfortable with that — the characters have been described in terms that are deliberately a bit vague so that the readers can use their imaginations to flesh them out.

Historical and political information on Cuba, and photographs of it, are a lot easier to get.

A big thanks to E. Kaye Fulton, Beth McColl, Susanne Glenn-Rigny, and Brian French for stepping up to the plate yesterday and sending me gorgeous photographs of Havana to use. I have in mind one of those slide shows that rotates through different pictures, and we have well over 100 of them now, enough to make it interesting. Some of their shots really fit well with the first book and the prequel — which involves a theft from a rum factory and some stranded blue jellyfish — they’re perfect.

We’re also talking about a possible book trailer and I’d like to maybe do some podcasting. These are all things we’ll need to flesh out in coming months.

The first step, only a few weeks away now, is getting the galleys (advanced review copies is what I think they’re called, or maybe it’s advance “reading” copies) to send out to the famous authors we’ll be asking for blurbs. It’s quite an “A” list. I hope that at least some of them respond.

As for the launches, we’re talking about holding two: one in Toronto and one in Ottawa. These would most likely be at Cuban restaurants — Ottawa has a fabulous new Cuban restaurant called “Havana” that catered an event I was at this past winter (their food was amazing) and apparently there’s one in Toronto as well with room for around 50 people, more if we can persuade them to shut down the rest of the restaurant for a night.

I like the idea of Cuban music (one of those great little street bands appeals to me) and maybe a display of Cuban art or photographs so that it’s more of an actual event than a typical book reading. These will likely be in February, the heart of winter,  which would let us do a kind of Escape to Havana theme that I’m hoping will appeal to others.

I’m still trying to think whether we can get some sponsors from the rum or cigar industries or something related, maybe travel? If you have any ideas, let me know! 

And if any of you reading this would like an invitation, please either post a comment or email me at and I’ll make sure you’re on the list. If you have any suggestions to make — feel free, and thanks!

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