I spent some time on Saturday doing some basic legwork for our forensic artist, Carrie Stuart Park. For those of you who missed our discussion a few days ago, we were talking about potential SuperArticles we could write. Carrie is writing a novel with the one-sentence summary:
“A forensic artist stumbles upon the killing grounds of a serial killer.”
That’s a great premise, but how’s Carrie going to promote that? Carrie has the huge advantage that she’s a forensic artist. So I went to Wordtracker.com and fiddled around, looking to see what subjects might be related to her work. As it turns out, “forensic art” doesn’t get a lot of searches on Google. So she isn’t going to get famous by having people search on that keyphrase.
HOWEVER, here are some keyphrases that got quite a few searches in the last few months. The number in parentheses is the number of searches in the last 90 days:
zodiac killer (1654)
serial killers (1535)
forensic science (913)
missing persons (575)
missing children (382)
the zodiac killer (379)
crime scene investigation (375)
famous serial killers (334)
forensic scientist (332)
serial killer (226)
It seems to me that Carrie could do a couple of things to help promote her work.
First, she could start a blog on “serial killer fiction.” It could be EITHER about serial killer fiction by other authors OR about writing serial killer fiction OR BOTH. I’d recommend doing both. The blog should of course highlight Carrie’s expertise as a forensic artist. That’d be a unique angle. I bet there aren’t too many forensic artists writing novels. Over time, her blog could attract quite a following among readers and writers interested in serial killer fiction.
Second, Carrie could write some SuperArticles on one or more of the topics I listed above. Since the Zodiac killer is at the top of the list, she could write an article on the status of that case. But she could follow it up with articles on other serial killers. For example, who is her favorite candidate for Jack the Ripper? These articles of course should highlight her background as a forensic artist. And they should point readers to her blog.
Third, she could write an article on how forensic artists can help track down missing persons or missing children. If she’s got any examples from her own career, these would be good to work in. Again, these articles should point to her blog.
A blog is a nice way to build an audience. You don’t have to go coerce people to read your blog. They read it and tell other people about it if your writing is good.
OK, folks, now it’s your turn! Make some suggestions for Carrie! I’ve been a little vague and generic in my suggestions. Can you sharpen my ideas up? What would be a killer SuperArticle Carrie could write?
Be specific! Be precise! Be brilliant! The best suggestion (in Carrie’s sole judgment) as of midnight PST, Tuesday, May 29, will win the usual prize: a free one-page critique of your novel by me.
Start your suggestions!
Charlotte Babb says
Since folks are so interested in police procedural, Carrie might point out the foiblies of people who write mysteries who get it wrong.
There are books for budding novelists who want to write mysteries…a superarticle would be how NOT to expose yourself as a clueless newbie when you write about police investigations.
She might also talk about how the police figure that a given murder is part of a serial killer’s MO. That kind of thing would also be good to send to Writers’ Digest and other magazines about writing which have huge subscription rates.
She could write an article about the profile of a serial killer–or of any killer. What drives people to kill? HOW to create a TRUE KILLER–not just a madman or a Dr. Claw Villian but a truly frighenting character.
She could write also for mystery writers of America. If she gave a talk or two at one of their one-day conferences, she’d have a wealth of material from the questions that the attendees would ask.
Hope this helps
Pam Halter says
How ’bout something for people who would like to BE a forensic artist?
Paul Baughman says
How about something linking to the hugely popular _CSI_ television shows. I’ve only watched a few episodes, but I seem to recall they do most of their reconstruction work via computers. Do real-life CSIs ever employ real-life artists? Why or why not? In the current state of the art, which is more accurate, computers or live artists? Why?
I still think you could promote the story using a bit more guerilla marketing techniques. Hide in a dark alley with a butcher knife and a shirt that says serial killer (you could have your website address printed on the back). Then jump out and chase down hapless passers-by. When they plead for mercy, just hand them your pitch sheet and tell them to pass it on to any editors and agents they know. Or you might get lucky and catch an editor or agent on their lunch break. They will never, ever forget you. I guarantee it. You might even get in the news. Free publicity galore!
Carrie might write a super article that combines two of the subjects on your list—preferably two with high-hit statistics, like “serial killers” and “forensic science.” Add a snappy title and intriguing content, and that should do it.
If you use “serial killers” don’t leave your address. You might find some searching for companionship!
Laura Ware says
She could also do a profile on the forensic artist on the television show “Bones.”
I would be interested in an article on forensic artists, but if she included information on the other kinds of forensic investigation techniques (which was high on the Google list), she would gain a wider audience. Put Forensic Artist first in the article, of course, but include who else is on the team, and target the article at crime/mystery writers, but also the general public.
At least two photos or illustrations would be crucial. Many people like to receive their information visually as well as in words.
I would also suggest a YouTube video (one minute or so) where she demonstrates how she does her job. YouTube is huge, and seems to be an ideal way for people to engage their audience.
Hmmm, have there been serial cases where forensic art played a key roll?
How about using ‘killer’ or ‘murder’ as a key word? Do they get many hits?
A blog about your life as a forensic artist/mystery writer would be cool. Appeal to different audiences at once!
Alot of cool ideas posted already! Especially love the YouTube idea!
Joleena Thomas says
I’m thinking that maybe do something a little more broad and not just concerned with killing or serial killers.
I say this because when I’m writing dark fiction, I always need to take time off and switch to articles or short stories with lighter elements.
A few of suggestions I would make are:
1. Make it a Murder Mystery Blog
This focuses more on the “mystery” angle rather than just the killing part.
If you do this–make sure you keep the “Serial Killer” and “Forensics” aspect clearly visible to searchers. You don’t want to hide it so that people have to dig for it: you only want to incorporate a larger range.
Simply through the use of technology, Forensic science easily takes on the science fiction bent, so why exclude all your options. science fiction is big–so grab that audience as well.
Specifically, you could showcase some of the great successful crime novels and have forums discussing their elements.
You could go a long way with the incorporation of legends–Sweeney Todd for instance. This would pull from a historical perspective which can cover geographical areas as well as time periods.
Additionally, since the writing of this kind of genre is (I believe) considerably different than other forms, it would probably help to fill an empty niche in the marketplace.
I think by doing it this way, you aren’t limiting yourself to the “mind of the killer” aspect, but you aren’t prohibiting it either. It could simply be another door on the site itself.
2. You could have a section devoted entirely to “Art”.
This would bring people who may not be interested in the murder side of things, but are interested in the creative side.
3. Write an article of forensic development (through history) in literature as it mirrors real life. As well, forensic developments in literature as it anticipates new techniques.
Pamela Cosel says
There are many TV shows that enlist the services of forensics experts. My favorite of late is “Bones.” (Consider the CSI series.) In order to tie in another group of readers to your blog — TV or movie fans — I suggest you could critique forensic methods used or portrayed on such TV shows in your articles. That would give you other keywords as access points and also build a recognition of you as an expert forensics person to TV/movies fans, thus expanding your network.
You could be called on to one day be a consultant for TV shows in the future! It happens, as I know a writer of Western novels who had that happen to her for a History Channel series.
Carrie Stuart Parks says
Randy is right–you guys are AWESOME!!
I’m still thinking about Josh’s idea–somehow the idea of a middle-aged, overweight lady wearing a serial-killer T-shirt and leaping from an alley waving a knife is…. Words fail me.
We DO tell people they can become a forensic artists even if they couldn’t draw blood with a knife….
Angie Farnworth says
I think Sherryl hit on it! Carrie, check out this YouTube link for a good idea of what you could do. EclecticAsylumArt is the user name of a guy who draws on YouTube and he is popular! Here’s a link to my fav. pic from him:
mary andrews says
If I were looking to write a book involving a serial killer, the first thing I would want to locate would be police procedure, terminology, and then cases.
I would want to know under what parameters forensic scientists work.
Is there more than diagnostics involved in their job? How much/any psychological training do they have and use?
And, I would want to know how accurate the TV forensic artist are portrayed.
Laura Broadwater says
Depending on the slant Carrie’s chosen for her novel will make a difference as to which suggestions tie in for the best marketing.
If the novel were about someone who took a vacation to another continent, and stumbled upon the killing grounds while off exploring the sights, she could write a fictional article (short sample of her book content) on “The Lost Art of Civilization.” This article could initially start off with how having a forensic artist background alerted her to the details an every day person like myself might have missed. Using side bars, the article could highlight some basic forensic details and tips on how to increase one’s awareness of them. The main focus of the article, though, would be about a anthropological find of epic proportions–a lost civilization. In the end, the evidence will point towards a civilization that turned inwardly on their own, not a serial killer. That’s where art would play an important part–just like major digs that unearth pottery, furniture, weapons, etc…, using them to identify a certain race or period in time.
There are also fun approaches if a younger age level is going to be targeted for the novel–and especially so if the intensity is going to be more towards learning, not terror. Carrie could write an article that requires a more “hands on” approach, titled “Drawing conclusions–using only the evidence.” This article could be a contest, where the readers become participants at solving the crime. The winner would receive an autographed copy of the book. And this approach could be expanded to an in-person workshop. Many non-profit organizations would kill (couldn’t resist) to have a guest speaker come in and do a presentation, but don’t have the funds to pay someone. And I would suggest she still have a project/crime to solve for those who attend. Carrie would exchange her time and forensic artist skills for a free place to market her book. Not everyone can afford to send their children to CSI camp, but the YMCA or another local organization may be in their budget.
The novel could even revolve around an art theme. If so, Carrie could write a short story or article in which the main character in the novel stumbles upon the killing ground of a serial killer in all places–a museum. Title this article “Portrait of a Killer.” Again the basic details of forensics would apply, along with a heightened awareness of them, but this time, an understanding into the mind of a serial killer would be necessary. Each photo (or drawing, painting, etc…) in the museum would contain a hidden clue as to the true identity of the killer and the actual victims. The twist–although the artwork contains a variety of signatures, they’re really done by the same person. And trying to determine which piece of artwork represents the dominant personality of the killer would lead to the success of understanding where the other pieces fit in the picture.
ML Eqatin says
I was rooting around on your site for ideas, and the most intriguing thing to me was your DVD course ‘Don’t LIE to me’. I suspect there are a lot of people who would instantly want to know about that topic, whether they wanted to be artists or not. And if your writing is as interesting as the topic, they would want more.
I am not sure what keywords would bring that superarticle to the fore, maybe ‘lies’ or ‘liar’ or ‘interviews’ but those are too common. Anyway, that’s what I would be dying to pick your brain about it we went to lunch!
Paulette Harris says
Hey This sounds way too cool, how bout contacting Nancy Grace. She is all for finding the “bad guy” and would promote your work on TV.
Just Kidding, but ya never know till you try. I have a couple of personal experiences that worked that way!
Good Luck and I’ll be praying!
Chawna Schroeder says
Perhaps an article about the facts and myths of what forensics can do. Use popular shows like CSI as a jumping off place, and then maybe list a common myth followed by the facts. This article could appeal to novelists trying to write about forensics, students considering careers in forensics or related areas, people headed for jury duty, and fanatics of forensics.
Tami Meyers says
Carries original question was how to better promote the SuperArticle she has written on the real story of how forensic art was used in such cases as the Unibomber, Polly Klaas, etc.
Since the article is already written you don’t need me to suggest what to write, but rather who to promote it to and how. I agree with the others that all the usual Internet connections, such as a blog, website, and YouTube are good suggestions, but what about the old fashioned printed word?
If you wrote a short article on forensic art that could be submitted to a local college newspaper you could list your books, DVD, website and blog information in the article. Be sure to mention your free SuperArticle that offers a professional insight on the science of forensic art. Since colleges teach art and police science classes they may be interested in such an article submitted by a published author.
Getting back to the Internet sources, you could submit something to www.crimemagazine.com, again promoting your books, DVD, website, etc.
Sally Ferguson says
How do you get people to your blog? I’ve got it on my signature line and web site, but only one comment in the two months of posting. Is it more defeating to have a blog that looks like no one is reading?