Posted On December 7, 2010 by Print This Post

A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: End of the Journey – Promotion

I don’t really like to say good-bye. When I moved from Qatar earlier this year, I did everything I could not to have to say adios to my overseas friends. Here at Romance University, we don’t really care for farewells either, so although this is Laurie London’s final post in her Debut Author series, no way are we letting her go for good (cue in evil laugh here). Today, however, Laurie is wrapping up an amazing series by giving us the goods on her first leap into the promotion pool.

Laurie, thanks so much for the wonderful insight into the time between your sale and publication. We can’t wait to get our hands on this book!

It’s hard to believe this is the last post in my Debut Author’s Journey here on RU, and that the next time you hear from me I’ll be a published author. Thank you for joining me this past year as I navigated the exciting and sometimes perplexing waters between when I sold my first book and when it hits the shelves.

My promotion plan is aimed at my target market—people who read, buy, or sell romance fiction. I’ll be talking to my publisher soon about their specific promo plans, but because an author can’t rely on their publisher to do everything, I’m doing what I can on my own. Knowing that a consumer needs to see or hear about a product multiple times before making a buying decision, I’m casting my net in a variety of places.

Word of mouth sells books. This can range from someone like me being at a wine shop with a friend who takes her Kindle everywhere…I tell her about an awesome book I read and she downloads it on the spot (actually, she downloaded a free prequel and paid for three books—yay for e-readers and wi-fi)…to a major literary reviewer who writes about how great your book is and now millions of people want to read it too. But these influencers—big and small—can’t talk about your book if they don’t know about it.

Let me be honest with you upfront. I’ve always had a hard time spending loads of money, so I’m very careful where I do spend it. Also, I like to control things myself, if possible. Keep this in mind as you’re reading my list.

1. Social Networking—Facebook and Twitter

Good news—it’s free. I figure that since I’m a huge reader of the type of books I write, I’m going to reach out to people like me. What do I like and not like? What are my interests? If I wasn’t writing and was just hanging out online, where would I be and what would I be talking about? Social networking is just being yourself. Chances are that some of the connections I’ve made are with people who read the kinds of books I write.

2. Ads

Most ads are pricey…and, remember, I’m very cautious when it comes to spending.

I decided to advertise in Romance Sells, a quarterly publication of upcoming romance titles that goes out to booksellers and librarians, because it’s targeted to those who sell romance fiction.

RT has a debut author advertising special—a full color ¼ page ad at rates well below their other ad rates. I haven’t decided whether I’ll do this or not. Perhaps between the release of book 1 and book 2, to keep my name out there, but we’ll see.

Some blogs also have ad space, but I’m holding off spending too much more money in this area for now.

Lucky for me, Harlequin has an awesome website that gets a lot of romance-reader traffic. I’ve got a profile and blog over there and can interact with readers…for free.

The one ad I will do is a Facebook ad. You pay per click, which basically means all those ads on the right hand side are free until someone clicks on them. You pay nothing for your target market to see your ad. Talk about a great deal! It also gives you the ability to set a budget. The ad turns off when you reach your preset budget limit. Industry professionals are saying this is a great way for debut authors to increase awareness about their books.

3. Blog Tours

I’m lining up dates to appear on various blogs but, I have to be honest, this has been difficult for me. It makes me uncomfortable asking someone I don’t know if I can be a guest on their blog—it’s like inviting myself to someone’s house. I know I need to get out of my comfort zone and do it, but so far, I’m filling my calendar with bloggers I know or those who have reached out to me.

There are services that arrange blog tours for a fee, but it sort of goes against my nature. I have to admit though, it would be nice to simply get a schedule of who needs what post with instructions on when and where to send it.

4. Bookmarks and Mailing Lists

Kim at Hot Damn Designs created an awesome bookmark for me with my February book on one side and my July book on the other. By doing it this way, rather than having one bookmark for each book, I’m saving money and can use it longer. Plus, it’s making people aware of the second book before it’s even out. I’m thrilled that my publisher did both covers at the same time.

RT has a program called Bookstores That Care. If you bundle the bookmarks, they’ll send them out with the magazine to bookstores who specifically requested promotional material from authors. Pat Rouse has a mailing list of almost 140 romance reader book clubs. Because I’m a member of two book clubs, reader groups are near and dear to my heart. I’m drafting a letter with discussion questions to send along with the bookmarks. Love Letter Magazine will be featuring me in their debut author spotlight and offered to send my bookmarks with February’s issue.

As soon as I get the bookmarks back from the printer, I’m turning my living room floor into a pseudo-mailing room with my kids, my husband, and my mom as mail room workers…and me as the evil boss.

5. Book Launch Party and Local Buzz

I totally lucked out with this. Last year, soon after I sold, I was wine-tasting at a popular local winery and happened to mention to the tasting room manager that a scene from my book was inspired by one of their wines. Next thing I know, I’m getting an email from the owner, saying they’d love to do a joint promotion with my book and their wine. As a result, I’m having my launch party at their tasting room as part of their February Is For Romance promotion.

I plan to send out press releases to hopefully get some local press coverage, and I’ll invite all my local wine friends whom I’ve met through social networks. The winery will promote it as well. Since it’s got a wine angle, I’ll ask a few of my wine blogger friends if they’ll feature me on their blogs and websites. Remember, everyone’s looking for good, relevant content.

6. Giveaways and Contests

As I’ve watched and participated in various contests, I’ve made the following observations about human nature (and myself).

a) People love free stuff.

b) They want to have fun.

c) Fans want to feel special.

d) We’re all basically lazy.

People love telling their friends about free stuff, and when they do, it amounts to free advertising. I try to make it easy for someone to copy and paste or link to my contests/giveaways on their social networking pages. Also, I make my tweets shorter than 140 characters to make it easy for someone to retweet without having to edit the message.

I’m doing a giveaway of 5 books on Goodreads and within 24 hours, I had over 150 people sign up. I made sure that the contest ends BEFORE my book comes out. A reader feels special to receive a book before it’s available to anyone else. Also, the people entering are probably in my target market. I don’t want to give them an excuse NOT to buy it while they wait to see if they won a free copy. Ending the contest before they can buy it in the stores eliminates this problem.

On a whim, I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter that I’ll send out bookmarks without an SASE to the first 50 people to “like” my author page and email me their address. The cover of book 2 hasn’t been released, so those people will get a sneak peak, something special that no one else has seen yet. I promised not to post it until after they receive the bookmarks. I was shocked at the overwhelming response.

So that’s it—my Debut Author’s promotional plan. I may add a few things between now and February, and I may change things up when my next book comes out in July.

Unfortunately, the success of promotional efforts is difficult to measure. I doubt I’ll be able to look back and see that one particular element made all the difference. Maybe, but probably not. However, my publisher has a great distribution network and the art department designed a fantastic eye-popping cover.

Thank you to everyone at RU, especially Kelsey, for inviting me to talk about my experiences as a Debut Author this year. You’ve all been so wonderful. And thank you, RU readers, for coming with me on this journey. I’ve had an awesome time.


***

RU Crew, What promotion strategies makes you nervous? And please help us thank Laurie for her generous posts during 2010. Laurie’s first book will release in February, and many of you probably can’t wait to get it in your hands.

Stop in tomorrow when Harlequin Blaze author Tawny Weber is here talking with us about how to craft an identifiable heroine (especially one how is NOTHING like you!).

Laurie’s Bio:

A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel, BONDED BY BLOOD, A Sweetblood Novel, is tentatively scheduled for publication February 2011 by HQN. EMBRACED BY BLOOD, the second book in the series, is coming July 2011.

Her writing has won and been a finalist in several prestigious contests including the Beacon, the Emerald City Opener, the Marlene, and the Orange Rose.

She’s a member of GSRWA, RWA, RWAOnline, SCBWI, and two book clubs – one of which she helps coordinate live online author chats with readers from around the world.

When not writing, she can be found running, reading, or riding and showing her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again.

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31 Responses to “A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: End of the Journey – Promotion”

  1. Laurie, thanks for sharing your journey. Great tip about using Goodreads, which I never thought of doing.

    Posted by Edie Ramer | December 7, 2010, 7:33 am
    • You’re welcome, Edie. I have to admit, I wasn’t very familiar with Goodreads until recently. As a reader, my friends and I primarily used Shelfari to keep track of our bookshelves. However, Goodreads gives you the ability to set up an author page and I even linked my blog. So now, when I post something on my blog, it shows up automatically on Goodreads. As far as I can tell, Shelfari doesn’t do any of this. Also, I’ve noticed that most of the book bloggers use Goodreads, not Shelfari.

      Checked my giveaway just now–over 300 people and it just went live on Friday. You should totally check it out.

      Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 10:21 am
  2. Morning Laurie!!

    We certainly hope to see you around here again! It’s been SO informative, reading your posts! I’m sure a lot of our readers will be printing out this last piece of advice – it’s worth its weight in gold.

    Guest blogging makes me nervous too, I know a few people who do it very successfully, but to me, that’s the part that’s going to make me the most terrified!

    Take care!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | December 7, 2010, 8:33 am
    • Thanks, Carrie! I’ve had such a great time here.

      I’m glad you find this helpful. Promo is a slippery beast that’s hard to pin down. Everyone has a slightly different approach, and I’m sure that it varies depending on whether you’re e-pubbed or print pubbed.

      I hope this gives people ideas on some of the things to consider, but I’m hardly an expert. In fact, I combed through various online articles, reviewed my notes from a promo class I took from Theresa Meyers, talked with my agent, and asked a few of my published author friends for advice on what I should do. Sadly, there’s not a one-size-fits-all checklist. You have to see what’s out there and temper that with your time and budget.

      Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 10:31 am
  3. Laurie,

    I’ve enjoyed all of your RU posts. Congratulations – can’t wait until Bonded by Blood debuts.

    Cheers!

    Posted by vicky dreiling | December 7, 2010, 8:54 am
  4. Laurie –

    Just checking in quickly since I’ll be out most of the morning. Did you feel self-conscious at all talking with the winery about your book?

    I can’t tell you how appreciative we are that you’ve shared so much with RU and our readers this year.

    RU Crew, stay tuned for Laurie’s reunion post around book release time!
    K-

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | December 7, 2010, 9:40 am
    • Hey Kelsey, it’s great to be back! I’ve had such a fun time here.

      It actually helped that my sister had a book out last year and had some of these same feelings. I remember telling her that people think it’s awesome that you’ve written and published a book. We writers rub elbows all the time with published authors, so it’s easy to forget how cool it really is, but the general public doesn’t.

      I told her to put herself in that coffee shop owner’s shoes. How cool would it be if you learned that someone wrote their book at your coffee shop?

      So now with the tables turned, I remembered what I told her. It’s not that I blab it to any person with a pulse–I hate tooting my horn–but if the topic lends itself, I’ll definitely mention my upcoming book, and that’s exactly what I did at the winery.

      Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 10:43 am
  5. Yay, Laurie!

    I can’t wait to read your book! And thank you so much for posting your promo plans. When I was planning my promo for my first release, I was so grateful for any and all info/discussion on how to proceed. I guarantee that this will be referenced often.

    Posted by Erin Kellison | December 7, 2010, 10:06 am
  6. Noooooooo! You can’t go. It’s just not fair. So, we’ll have to make sure we get you back many, many, many more times. Your posts have been such a treat. I’ll be printing this one and putting it in my marketing folder. I love the Goodreads idea!

    I signed up for Goodreads but I have barely scratched the surface on it. When you sign up as an author and link your blog, do those blog posts only go to your Goodreads friends? I’m curious who gets the blog posts?

    This was a fantastic article, Laurie. Thank you!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 7, 2010, 10:53 am
    • Thanks so much, Adrienne! It’s been so much fun this past year. I promise that I’m not going far away. I’d love to come back anytime. :-)

      Regarding Goodreads, I’m not sure who gets the notifications about the blog when you have a new post. Your GR friends? Your fans? But when someone checks out your author page, they’ll see your latest blog post.

      If you’re so inclined, check mine out. I just posted an article on my own blog yesterday. That same post is now showing on my Goodreads author page as well as my Facebook author page (if you click a tab there called RSS/Blog).

      I don’t like all automatic things (for instance, I prefer not to link my FB and Twitter statuses), but a blog is a blog. You might as well write it once and have it show up on a couple of your other online places. Now, if only I can figure out if it’s possible to link it to my Harlequin profile on the eHarlequin website. That’d be perfect.

      One thing I’m not certain about, is if someone comments on the blog outside of Blogger (on Goodreads or Facebook), how will I know? I hate the thought of someone thinking they’re talking to me but I never see it. Hmmm, another thing to worry about. I do have a disclaimer of sorts on my FB blog page, maybe I’ll have to mention this. Maybe I can do the same with GR.

      Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 11:06 am
  7. I think WordPress doesn’t like me right now. Sorry, RU folks of you see 3 duplicate messages from me hidden away somewhere in response to Kelsey’s comment. Kelsey, I promise I didn’t ignore you! :-)

    Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 10:53 am
  8. Yep. You got caught in the SPAM folder. Sorry, Laurie.

    Posted by AdrienneGiordano | December 7, 2010, 10:59 am
  9. Hi Laurie,

    I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of your debut year! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and seeing some of the things you’ve come up against.

    Thanks for sharing your marketing plan. Love it.

    Good luck to you over the next two months. I’m looking forward to celebrating your February release. Even though I had nothing to do with your book, I feel like it’s my baby too. And I want that little punkin’ to scream through the publishing world.

    Hugs,
    Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 7, 2010, 11:59 am
    • Aw, thanks so much, Tracey!

      I know!!! It’s weird to think it was almost a year ago that I wrote that first article here. It’s been really fun. I’ll probably look back, read some of those posts, and think, “Geez, I was really neurotic.” ;-)

      Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 3:22 pm
  10. Looks like you have a great promo plan, Laurie!

    I’d add that if your publisher doesn’t do it for you, you should send a copy of your book to The Seattle Times for inclusion in their Books by Local Authors listing. They’re really good about putting books in the listing as close to their pub date as possible. Kudos to them for that.

    Also, does Western have an alumni newsletter or magazine? If so, I’d send a copy of the book to them. Hopefully you’ll reach dedicated supportive alumns that way and friends and acquaintances you may have lost touch with.

    Posted by Gina Robinson | December 7, 2010, 2:06 pm
  11. Hi Laurie!

    I checked out the Facebook ads for a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago. It’s a great way to get promote your book. I like that you can set a budget and you only get whacked when someone clicks on the book icon. I’m on Goodreads too, but I’m very bad about updating what I’ve read. I can remember author’s names, but not book titles. I like seeing what books everyone else has read too. I just wish the site was easier to navigate.
    Congratulations!
    Jen

    Posted by jennifer tanner | December 7, 2010, 4:18 pm
  12. Thanks, Jennifer!

    My marketing friends tell me that these Facebook ads are a great way to go. Normally, you pay for someone to see your ad. Here, you only pay if someone clicks. Being a bargain shopper, I like this!

    Yeah, I haven’t quite figured out Goodreads either, but it seems to be where many of the readers are. I do like Shelfari, so I really need to take another look at what options they have for authors.

    Posted by Laurie London | December 7, 2010, 4:29 pm
  13. Laurie: I am so happy for you and I can’t wait to read the book.

    Your plan is fantastic and you noted such valuable information – I didn’t know about the FB ads but I’ll keep it in mind. Thank you for a great post.

    Posted by Robin Covington | December 7, 2010, 8:52 pm
  14. Laurie –

    Thanks a ton for letting us ride along with you in 2010! The RU Crew is wishing you all the success in the world with Bonded by Blood.

    See you again soon ;),
    Kels

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | December 7, 2010, 10:24 pm
  15. Laurie, you have to come guest post with Silk And Shadows! I don’t think you should ever feel weird about asking people to guest post. They get a break from creating content. You offer a giveaway as a thank you for the space and their readers get a chance for a free book: win-win.

    Can’t wait to read Bonded!

    Posted by Jessa Slade | December 8, 2010, 11:37 am
  16. Jessa, thanks!

    Actually, since I know you and am now remembering that you offered before, I wouldn’t feel too weird asking. My head feels as if it’s only half-screwed on lately.

    That’s a good reminder about content, which is why I’m bad with my own blog. Coming up with interesting content day after day is hard.

    Okay, expect an email from me. ;-)

    Posted by Laurie London | December 8, 2010, 3:51 pm
  17. You are a promo goddess. I want to be you when I grow up LOL.

    Posted by Rebecca J. Clark | December 9, 2010, 10:10 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adrienne Giordano, Laurie London. Laurie London said: My last post @RomanceUniv is what I, debut author, am doing for promotion. On track or not enough? http://tinyurl.com/26lp8wd [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harlequin Books, Sascha Illyvich and Romance University, Adrienne Giordano. Adrienne Giordano said: Fantastic post from Laurie London at Romance University. http://bit.ly/geRPEi [...]

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