Sunday, February 26, 2012

Marketing & Publicity for Authors: Part 4

I want to devote another post to marketing/publicity ideas but first: since my last post on this subject I’ve fallen in love with Pinterest. I’m a visual person; for each of my novels I collect photos, maps, headshots, clothing ideas, etc. and put them on an idea board that inspires me while I work (for more on this idea board concept, see this terrific post by my friend Judith Graves.) Now I can post these same photos to Pinterest, and share them with my readers. Finally – a place for me to display a vintage map or period gown, fabulous food or room decor! (Or, in the case of FORGIVEN, visuals depicting the tragedy of slavery or earthquake devastation.) Check out what I mean here.

Now, more ideas:

When my first novel, FAITHFUL, came out I was eager to uncover any marketing opportunities available. The first smart move I made was joining the Class of 2k. Originally FAITHFUL was slated for a fall 2009 release; I joined the Class of 2k9 and made a number of friends there, who continue to be both real and virtual compatriots. When I was bumped to 2010 the window of opportunity opened even wider, as I found another writing support group in the Class of 2k10, whom I also count among my closest writing friends.

My advice to debut authors: seek out the opportunities to join groups like 2k, or the Debs, or the Apocalypsies, because this is a lonely business and community is critical to success.

Judith's blog tour badge
The second thing I did was to spend some of my advance on my own publicist (Blue Slip Media). They arranged a five-week blog tour, which gave me a huge, bouncy springboard. They also helped line me up with signing gigs and raised my media profile. I feel it was money very well spent.

If I were to suggest one single publicity item to you it would be: blog tour. Bloggers who love books are our heroes. As an example of give and give again blog touring, I’ll be hosting fellow 2k10 author Judith Graves here on March 22 as part of her SECOND SKIN blog tour. 

And just in case you're thinking that a blog tour has to precede a book launch, here's a terrific idea to punch up a book that's been out for a while and give a boost to an upcoming book: Joy Preble has a blog tour going on for her second novel HAUNTED in time for the release of her third novel in the series, ANASTASIA FOREVER

A recent article on the SCBWI blog  inspired me to think about more out-of-the-box marketing ideas. I love these two that Sara Wilson Etienne dreamed up for the release of HARBINGER:

  • setting up a website around a central idea, theme, place, character – and making it come alive with innovative marketing ideas - essentially creating an "alternate reality" for readers
  • making the blog tour more interesting by focusing it around a theme (in her case, the artist character in her novel)

My friend Holly Cupala (DON'T BREATHE A WORD) is also a clever marketer, who taught me the value of printing out a limited number of first chapter excerpts (complete with blurbs, publisher information and color cover) to send to a selection of independent booksellers. I made them myself for FAITHFUL, paying only for the color cover printing, using a booklet form of standard paper folded in half and Word layout for a two-page spread (yes, it did take me a while to figure out the layout so that pages would print correctly.)

My bookmarks & postcards, front and back
I also want to give a mention to my 2k10 sister Denise Jaden (NEVER ENOUGH), who is an extremely smart marketer. Here’s a recent blog post in which she discusses marketing; I especially like that she’s honest about the lack of success with postcards, but will do bookmarks again. I would agree – the one stellar piece of swag that I would invest in again and again is the bookmark. (Having said that, Blue Slip made me a fabulous postcard for my FORGIVEN release, featuring both of my book covers, with accolades and awards and contact information, that has been a “best seller” and easy for me to hand to booksellers and librarians at events and conferences.)

I make my bookmarks myself using Word, with all relevant information and cover on the front, and a bleed-out cover on the back over which I add accolades, awards and quotes, maximizing all the space; I have them printed on the heaviest card stock available at my local printer. Note that I leave just enough space for my signature on the back side of the bookmarks, which some like to collect.
I love those little elephants!

Finally, check out this sweet idea from my friend Lynne Kelly (CHAINED) who made bookmarks with an elephant charm attachment – so definitely a “keeper”!! Here's how she did it:

For the bookmarks themselves, I had them designed by Jeff Fielder, then I uploaded the designs and ordered them from To make some of them more special, I ordered a variety of elephant charms from Etsy sellers and attached them to the bookmarks with hemp twine. I'd tried a couple different kinds of string, like embroidery thread that unraveled too easily, then found the roll of hemp in the beading section of Hobby Lobby.   

Sweet and smart.

I hope some of these ideas help with your next round of marketing and publicity! Next time - how your "street team" can help you.


Denise Jaden said...

Thanks so much for the shoutout, Janet! Some great thoughts in here!!

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Denise! Likewise your blog posts - good reading. :)

Jill Hathaway said...

The elephant bookmarks are adorable.

Agree about postcards being a waste of time and money, but bookmarks have been a big hit!

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Jill! Interesting about those postcards. Who would've thought?