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.
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.
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!).
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.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for August 23-27, 2010: Edie Ramer, Laurie London, Tawny Weber & Laurie Schnebly Campbell
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Dec 6-10: C.J. Redwine, Laurie London, Tawny Weber, Liz Talley
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for June 21-25: Haley Hughes, Laurie London, Debra Holland & Laurie Schnebly
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: From the Call to Revisions
- Laurie London, Debut Author of Bonded by Blood