A few weeks ago I waved the flag for for old-fashioned word-of-mouth publicity. If you like a book, tell others about it.
But I forgot to mention an important second step. I didn't even think of it. Fortunately an author whose work I admire gave me that advice through the back door.
I more recently wrote about my conflicted emotions in reading a novel that the author had announced would be the end of a long series. Somehow novelist Aaron Elkins discovered the column and thanked me for comparing his character Gideon Oliver to Patrick O'Brian's naval hero Jack Aubrey.
Busted. Why, in thirty years of reading his mysteries, had I never written to Elkins? Before the internet, search engines, and email, that would have meant mailing a letter via his publisher. But that excuse hasn't held water in more than a decade.
One of my part-time jobs brings me into contact with successful authors. Not one of them seems immune to life's frustrations—or so busy answering fan mail that they wouldn't mind an encouraging note.