Posted On November 2, 2009 by Print This Post

How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition

Editor Leah Hultenschmidt, Dorchester Publishing, shares her top five ways unpublished writers can build name recognition.

Good morning, and welcome to Romance University! I hope unpublished writers take special note of today’s topic. It’s so incredibly difficult to stand out in this creative and talented crowd that we could all benefit from Leah’s advice. If you have a question, please leave a comment below. Leah’s generously agreed to pop in a few times today.

So, without further ado, here’s Leah!

As much as we’d all like to think that brilliant book will eventually win out no matter what, sometimes–just like in any business–who you know can give you a little boost. Here are some tips to help build your name…because it’s just as important to consider who knows you.

  1. Enter RWA chapter contests.  Editors here often serve as judges, and contests are a fast-track to getting your work right in their hands.  Some of our award-winning books and bestselling authors have been discovered through contests, including Angie Fox, Trish Albright, Susan Squires and many others.
  2. Network with established members of the genre community.  Published authors, reviewers, reporters and anybody who has anything to do with writing can help mention your name when talking to editors.  Besides, it never hurts to have a potential cover quote in your pocket.
  3. Attend conferences and introduce yourselves to our editors.  You’ll often get a business card out of it, and then you can e-mail a follow-up.  It doesn’t guarantee they’ll buy your work, but it does give them a gentle reminder of who you are and establishes that they have a personal connection to you.
  4. Create a website and use it to showcase your voice, your bio, projects you’re working on, and your contact information.  When I read a proposal I really like, one of the first things I do is google the author.  Your website tells me you’re serious about getting published and you know what information is important to present.
  5. Get involved.  Comment on blogs, volunteer to be a contest coordinator.  It’s like advertising: the more times we see a name, the more likely it is to stick in our head.  Then when we see your name on a proposal, it will sound familiar.  Even if we can’t quite place where we know the name from, it separates you from everyone we don’t know.

Thanks, Leah!

RU Readers, do you have any methods to add to Leah’s list? Perhaps a question for Leah?

Leah Hultenschmidt is Editor/Website Director at Dorchester Publishing. Some of her projects include the USA Today best-selling Immortals series; Angie Fox’s New York Times best-seller, The Accidental Demon Slayer; and the Classic Film Collection for the Western line.  Leah has been named among the Who’s Who of Professional Management, in 2006 was a finalist for PASIC’s Editor of the Year Award. She blogs at

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56 Responses to “How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition”

  1. Great suggestions. Actually, I had wondered about a couple of things. And while I know I have to have a great book, it doesn’t hurt to be known to the editor reading it.
    Thanks Leah.

    Posted by Cynthia D'Alba | November 2, 2009, 5:52 am
  2. Leah~

    Thank you for joining us today!

    Looks like I’m on the right track. The one bullet I find most difficult is introducing myself to editors (or other publishing professionals). You all are so busy during conferences. The few times I’ve seen an editor alone, I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt her peace. LOL


    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | November 2, 2009, 6:21 am
    • Tracey, approaching an editor can be a challenge. But if you do it in a natural way, and don’t start giving a pitch unless asked for one, you can end up making a really good impression. I met Gemma Halliday in an elevator at RWA, after she’d just won the Golden Heart. She barely mentioned her book, but she gave me her card and sent her manuscript later, and shortly after I ended up buying it. Gemma is also the queen of #2. She had two pages of quote sheets for SPYING IN HIGH HEELS from authors across the genre.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 9:36 am
  3. Thanks for the great tips, Leah, and thanks to Dorchester for teaming with Textnovel for the Best Celler contest. I found it to be a great way to develop name recognition with fans who have requested to be on my mailing list for when my book is published. I’ve also met many great authors. With that being said, my question has to do with using a pen name. Readers know me as Samantha Grace, and my website is for Samantha Grace. What is the best way to stand out to editors when submitting under your legal name while writing under a pseudonym?

    Posted by Michelle Rooney | November 2, 2009, 8:21 am
    • Is the book going to be published under your legal name or pseudonym?

      If the latter, I would use the pseudonym on the manuscript’s title page and in the header. In the body of the cover letter, mention any works you’ve had published under the pen name. Then sign the Michelle Rooney writing as Samantha Grace. That way if the pseudonym is familiar, it will still be front and center.

      Editors are fairly used to do dealing with authors who have multiple names, so it’s not a problem at all.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 9:42 am
  4. I’m really glad that you posted this.

    With a recent bout of questionable behavior by certain authors, the subject was brought up and these authors were determined that they could say whatever they liked and it wouldn’t impact the sale of their manuscripts.

    I try to remember that I am always “on” with all of these social networking sites and while I want my readers to get to know me and I want to be approachable, I also don’t want to stick both feet in my mouth sideways or be a PR liability.

    Thanks for the advice!

    Posted by Saranna DeWylde | November 2, 2009, 8:23 am
  5. Hey, Leah! Great comments. And err…thanks for the reminder. My website needs an update. Like Tracey, I have a hard time stopping an editor at a conference. The only time I seem to find one of you guys is when you’re looking like you’re enjoying your break or when you’re looking overwhelmed.

    What’s a favorite way you’ve been approached at a conference before?

    Posted by Keri Ford | November 2, 2009, 9:07 am
  6. Hi Leah!

    Thanks for posting today…great article!

    I have a question…I have a blog, but not a website. On my blog I review other books, post some of my WIP’s, and just talk away….=) should I also have a website at this time? I haven’t even submitted yet, and have only entered 2 contests, not making a big splash in the writing pond (yet!)…or should I wait until I have something more concrete?



    Posted by carrie | November 2, 2009, 10:27 am
  7. @Keri
    (for some reason I was having trouble posting this as a reply, but my apologies if it somehow ends up on twice)

    Hi, Keri – great to see you. You’ve definitely got #5 down. 😉

    You’re right about editors appreciating a moment of downtime during a conference. Sometimes we’ll do anything to avoid eye contact with people we don’t know. I think it’s best to try to keep it casual. Don’t home in and then make a beeline across the room. That’s a little scary. But if you happen to be in the elevator with an editor or agent or standing next to her at the bar, a compliment can be a great opener: “Nice shoes/bag/jewelry.” I mean, make sure it’s genuine and go where the conversation takes you without trying to shoehorn in a pitch. But that kind of opening is a lot less threatening than “So I wrote this book…”

    Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 10:31 am
    • LOL, and number 5 has been kicking my backside here lately. Things are starting to clear up now the the contest is over the hard part. It was great to chat with you today! Thanks for answering my question.

      Posted by Keri Ford | November 2, 2009, 5:42 pm
  8. Hi, Leah and thank you for being here. I have to say I’ve learned to enjoy #3. One year at RWA I spotted one of my “dream agents” talking on her cell phone in a packed lobby. She was sitting by herself, so I stood off to the side and waited for her to end her call. All I did was introduce myself to her and tell her that I planned on sending a query letter. By the end of the conversation she asked for a partial. It was a beautiful thing! LOL.

    Granted, that doesn’t happen every time, but approaching people does get easier the more I do it. I guess, once again, practice helps. It can be a little nerve wracking though.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | November 2, 2009, 11:47 am
  9. Hi, Leah, I’d heard you were guesting on Romance University today and decided to pop over. Great suggestions.

    I think we unpublished authors often feel that we’re not “significant” enough to maintain a web presence, so it’s good to hear your ideas.

    I’m part of a group blog (Romance Bandits) and am in the process of revamping my website, but I wonder if I ought to have a personal blog too? I hate to take valuable time away from writing, but I also want to get my name and face out there. Any suggestions?

    Posted by Jo Robertson | November 2, 2009, 12:20 pm
    • I definitely wouldn’t recommend blogging–or Twittering or MySpacing or Facebooking–just because you feel you “ought to.” Unless you have a compelling reason to blog, no one’s going to visit, and then you haven’t really improved your visibility anyway. There are other ways to get your name out there. Find the ones that you feel are comfortable and manageable.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 12:56 pm
  10. Hi Leah! Great to see you here! Do you ever feel a little bit of trepidation being on the receiving end of hordes of writers wanting to speak with you? Was there ever someone who just would NOT leave you? And what are the “thank you, nice to meet you, go away now” cues we should take note of? I think there must be a story in there!

    Posted by Trish Albright | November 2, 2009, 12:35 pm
    • Hi, Trish! I think the worst was at a luncheon where somehow all the other editors had already snuck out, and I was the last one left. I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I think all the writers were afraid I was leaving too, so I kept getting “Just one quick second…” Eventually I did have to excuse myself. You always hear urban legends about the pitch in the bathroom, but it’s way worse *the way* to the bathroom. 😉

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 12:59 pm
  11. Hello Leah! I have my first book coming out next year. Other than blogs, websites, and writing groups, do you have any other suggestions to get our name out there?

    I do blog on occasion, but I don’t find myself as a reader running to many other blogs, unless it’s more “writer related”. I think it’s hard to drive strangers to your blog when they have no idea who you are. Guess that’s were putting yourself out there comes in handy, such as conferences and such.

    Thanks for the advice.
    Dawn Chartier

    Posted by Dawn Chartier | November 2, 2009, 12:51 pm
  12. Leah –

    Thanks so much for being at RU today. You list reassured me that I’m doing a few things right :). I’m probably like a few others in that I’m not going to “force” myself on an editor or agent at a conference, especially since the only one I’m able to attend each year is National.

    Do you have any specific tips for networking at a conference that size? Perhaps just the strategies you’ve already mentioned?

    Again – thanks for your time and advice!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | November 2, 2009, 1:13 pm
  13. Hi Leah,

    This is a great post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    I think it’s important that authors (aspiring or published) learn to promote themselves “shamelessly”, without being overly aggressive or unethical. For me, it seems to come naturally, while others have to work at it. But with all the info available online, authors have access to resources that can help them gain name recognition and sales.

    I also want to thank Dorchester for sponsoring the Next Best Celler contest over at It has been a great run so far and there’s a lot of talent in those entries.

    Regarding pseudonyms, I’ve written Lancelot’s Lady–my Next Best Celler entry–as Cherish D’Angelo. I didn’t just pick any name; this one has real meaning for me, which I’ve posted on my blog.

    As Cheryl Kaye Tardif, I’ve written a popular general fiction/YA novel (Whale Song), plus two suspense thrillers (Divine Intervention & The River). I also have 2 unpublished thrillers looking for a home; I believe Dorchester is reading Children of the Fog now. 🙂

    Which reminds me, time to call my agent. lol

    All the best to you and everyone at Dorchester.

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif/Cherish D’Angelo

    Posted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif | November 2, 2009, 1:40 pm
  14. Leah,
    I’m a new aspiring writer and I’m still learning the basics of writing a romance. I’m not expecting to have anything ready for potential agents/editors for maybe a year or so but I’m determined to write. Since it will probably be a while before I’m ready, should I consider waiting a while before I start a websiste or blog? Or should I get it out there now?

    Posted by Debbie Dalme | November 2, 2009, 1:50 pm
    • If you know what name you’ll be writing under, you might at least want to get the domain name registered so no one else will. Otherwise it’s up to you. The likelihood of people looking for you online before you submit to contests or to agents and editors is probably slim. You might want to focus on finishing a proposal first.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 2:02 pm
  15. Hi Leah,

    First thank you on behalf of unpubs everywhere for taking the time to help us better our understanding of the business.

    Second, in regard to #2, do you have any suggestions as to how a person would approach someone to request a cover comment?

    Obviously it would require some of their time in order for them to read some of your work to be able to provide one – is this just one of those things that you hope will come up on conversation? Or is there some polite and accepted method for doing it?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    Posted by Kymber Morgan | November 2, 2009, 2:00 pm
    • Excellent question, Kymber. Cover quotes come up a lot. Sometimes the agent or editor can help facilitate them, but personally, I prefer *not* to be asked by the author to set this up. If I think the book is appropriate for the “name” author, I’ll send it to her myself and usually won’t talk to the author about it until I know for sure it’s going to happen.

      The great thing about true networking is getting to know people through loops and chats and meetings and developing a relationship that isn’t about asking for things. Gerri Russell is the queen of this. She’d been in RWA for well over a decade before her first book, THE WARRIOR TRAINER, sold. But she was active in her local chapter, attended meetings, wrote for RWR, volunteered, etc. and got to know folks like Debbie Macomber, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sabrina Jeffries and Stella Cameron. All of whom have generously given her cover quotes.

      But sometimes the cards just don’t line up that way. In that case, I’d recommend writing your “name” author a letter. Just like pitching an editor. Tell her what the project is, why you’re specifically targeting her, and give a deadline for when the quote needs to be in. Some may be willing to take a look, others may not have time, but you haven’t lost anything by asking.

      Another option is through entering contests where published authors are judges. If there’s one who seems particularly enthusiastic, you might want to ask if you could get a quote.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 2:12 pm
  16. Thanks for stopping by Leah!

    This is all great information.


    Posted by Marian Pearson Stevens | November 2, 2009, 2:07 pm
  17. Leah,

    Your insight and suggestions are very much appreciated. I now at least have some idea how to proceed from here.

    Thank you so much.

    Posted by Kymber Morgan | November 2, 2009, 2:28 pm
  18. Leah-

    Thank you for spending time with Romance University today. I was waffling about a website because I really didn’t know what I should put on it as an unpubbed writer. (To mirror Jo’s earlier post, I also figured I wasn’t significant enought to have a website.) I am sending out submissions so reason #4 is enough for me.

    I wish I had a question, but it looks like all the other ladies have covered anything I could think of.


    Posted by Angelina Barbin | November 2, 2009, 2:31 pm
  19. Thanks for sharing your insight on this. I know that I have submitted my Native American Romance novel alot and still I have not been successful with getting it published. I write from my heart and sometimes its hard to keep going but perseverance is my key.

    Thanks Leah,


    Posted by Melinda Elmore | November 2, 2009, 2:35 pm
  20. Hi Leah –

    Thanks so much for the information!!! Every bit helps…

    There is so much to accomplish besides writing a great book… Shew!

    I appreciate your time!

    Lisa 🙂

    Posted by Lisa Kessler | November 2, 2009, 2:39 pm
  21. Leah,

    I’m glad you mentioned published authors – judging contests – as a potential source of endorsement. I’m not sure I would have thought of that. Do you recommend waiting until you have a contract on a project before you ask for endorsements?

    Posted by Lisa Reynolds | November 2, 2009, 2:49 pm
    • Hi, Lisa. You don’t necessarily have to wait until you have a contract to ask. Depending on the warmth of the comments, it might be appropriate to ask right away so that you might include the quotes in your query. For me, seeing an endorsement right off the bat is definitely an advantage.

      Oh, and I meant to put this link in before, but if you are ever the one asked for a quote, you might want to look at some blurbing basics.

      Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 3:02 pm
      • No way! I never thought of adding blurbs to my query letter!!! I have a couple published authors who would offer blurbs, but I thought it was for the book cover someday…

        Do you often get them with the query? Would I add that at the end of the query letter with contest finals, etc?

        Thanks Leah! You rock!


        Posted by Lisa Kessler | November 2, 2009, 3:52 pm
  22. Leah-

    Your story about Geri Russell was very timely for me. I am the secretary for the Beau Monde chapter and although the ‘name recognition’ carrot was dangled in front of me, I am getting so much more from the experience of interacting with so many wonderful writers than I could ever imagine.

    So everyone out there, volunteer in your local chapter.

    Angelina (Sorry about the commercial for RWA chapters.)

    Posted by Angelina Barbin | November 2, 2009, 2:59 pm
  23. I thought the blurbs were for a book or website? Would you put a blurb in a query letter?


    Posted by Angelina Barbin | November 2, 2009, 3:55 pm
  24. To Lisa & Angelina – If you have a quote before the book is published, by all means, include it in the query letter. It’s helpful to know you have a great sales tool in your pocket. I would actually put the quote toward the top of the letter, something like “Attached is my 80,000 word historical romance, which Lisa Kleypas calls ‘the best thing since sliced bread.’…” Contest wins can come toward the end.

    Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 4:44 pm
  25. I’m signing off for the day, but thank you all for your wonderful questions and lively conversation.

    Posted by Leah Hultenschmidt | November 2, 2009, 4:44 pm
  26. Thank you, Leah, for taking the time to answer our questions!


    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | November 2, 2009, 4:51 pm
  27. Hi again Leah:

    I knew I’d have some questions for you eventually.

    1.) If an author agrees to consider reading your work once you have an actual offer for publication, should that be mentioned in a query or cover letter, or should one wait until the author gives the blurb?

    2.) I have some well-known suspense authors who might consider giving me a blurb for my debut romance Lancelot’s Lady (they’ve agreed to blurb my suspense thriller Children of the Fog). Does Dorchester mind if an author from a different genre does this? Or should we stick to getting blurbs from authors only in the genre of the novel?

    3.) I’ve heard differing opinions on whether an author should mention movie interest in a query or cover letter, unless a work has already been optioned or bought. What is your opinion on this?

    I look forward to hearing your answers. Thank you. 🙂

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
    aka Cherish D’Angelo,
    author of Lancelot’s Lady

    Posted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif | November 2, 2009, 4:53 pm
  28. Wow! this has been great. I have learned so much and found out things that I would never have even thought would be an issue.

    Thanks so much for the frank and helpful info.


    Posted by Nina Johnson | November 2, 2009, 5:05 pm
  29. Darn. I should’ve typed and hit Add Comment faster. lol

    Thanks so much for all the info here, Leah.

    If you’re able to answer my questions, at your leisure, please email me at:

    I’ve also follwoed this thread, in case you pop back in. 🙂

    All the best in success.

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif/Cherish D’Angelo

    Posted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif | November 2, 2009, 5:33 pm
  30. Evening Leah,

    I enjoy learning from what you posted, and this thread. It may be too late for questions, but in case it is not- I’m not sure what to do.

    My name is Laurel Kahaner. I have blogs and am involved in writing sites where I’ve used the name of Aisling, Larken, Drea…..and more. I teach Yoga, Astrology, Meditation, Tarot, etc. Initially I kept all these differentiations/Sub-texts/personas of who I am, separate.

    Now I am getting ready to pitch one of my novels, and I don’t want my presence on the internet to be so diffuse or confounding. Initially I quite liked the freedom of exploring. Now I want to focus, but even my site is quite diffuse. Any thoughts on how I might, a step at a time, create a more integrated/focused presence for my novels?

    Thank you,



    Posted by Laurel Kahaner | November 3, 2009, 11:15 pm
  31. Hi Laurel,

    I can’t speak for Leah, of course, but like you I posted a couple of questions after the cut-off. I’m sure Leah is super busy and I have no idea if she’ll pop by again any time soon. So it might be you and I in here for awhile. lol 🙂

    You happen to be asking a question that I think I can help you with, and I’d be happy to. As well as being a fulltime author, I’m also a book marketing coach. I kind of fell into it naturally because of my desire to help other writers and because my last publisher promoted me to his other authors. I have a former background in sales, marketing, promotion and motivational speaking (and I used to design websites for small businesses). I love sharing what I’ve learned and I’ve spoken at a couple of conferences in Canada and the US.

    So I hope you don’t mind if I jump in and give you my 2 cents worth. 🙂

    I’d recommend you separate your interests from your writing if they don’t meld naturally. The new age/spiritual areas could be combined very easily in one website. If your novel has a similar theme, then it would fit well on that site. Just make it more the primary focus of your website, with a “My other interests” kind of link perhaps. Many of your readers will enjoy getting to know you through your interests.

    However, if your novel falls into a genre category that’s very different from the new age/spiritualism, you may want to have a separate website for that–ideally with the domain name being your author name. You can always link your websites together. If you need any info on domains and websites, feel free to email me at I can give you some basic info for free. Or if you’d just like to brainstorm. I’ve been told I come up with great ideas. 🙂

    If you send me the URL to your site, I’d be happy to give you some feedback.

    Tracey and Leah, I hope it’s okay that I jump in on this question. One of my personal goals for the past 7 years has been to give back to other writers when I can, but I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes.

    All the best to you all.


    Posted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif | November 3, 2009, 11:46 pm
  32. Hi Cheryl,

    Thanks so much for responding to my post. Your suggestions feel wise. I am going to think along the lines you are suggesting. I will e-mail you after I’ve given this a bit more thought to clarify my focus. My novle are not directly related to what I offer on my current web-site, which is

    Much to muse on, thank you again.


    Posted by Laurel Kahaner | November 5, 2009, 2:53 am
  33. Glad I could be of some help. 🙂

    I’ll email you, Laurel. Very nice meeting you here, by the way. It was lonely in here all by myself…and they closed the bar down. lol



    Posted by Cheryl Kaye Tardif | November 5, 2009, 12:41 pm
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  1. […] | Tags: Phyllis Bourne Williams, Trish Albright | Leave a Comment  I’m blogging over at Romance University today – taking names and kicking as$.  No wait, that’s taking questions and giving […]

  2. […] As writers, we are bombarded by all these things we Should do.  We should develop a platform.  We should have a website.  We should throw ourselves into social networking on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and the 800 Web 2.0 services out there.  We should join organizations.  We should go to conferences.  We should enter contests.  Not to mention all the shoulds related to knowledge of craft.  I was thinking about this this morning as I was zipping through my Bloglines and came across a couple of different posts.  The first was over at Romance University about How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition. […]

  3. […] How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition by editor Leah Hultenschmidt at Romance Universit… […]

  4. […] How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition by editor Leah Hultenschmidt at Romance Universit… […]

  5. […] find the original post here. This entry was posted in Resources. Bookmark the permalink. ← electronic book […]

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