Posted On March 24, 2014 by Print This Post

Thinking Outside The Box~Marketing Ideas with USA Today Bestseller Tonya Kappes

I met TONYA KAPPES through the Ohio Valley RWA chapter a few years ago, and ever since then I’ve been awed by her diligence and her creative marketing ideas. She’s not only a prolific USA Today Best-Selling author, she’s also a whiz at social media. And she’s one of the most engaging authors you’re ever likely to meet. 

My main goal has always been REACH THE READER and CONNECT WITH THE READER.

With the reader in mind, I started to do a lot of thinking outside of the box. I didn’t want to do what other author’s were doing. I didn’t just want to do a book signing or another boring giveaway of a pen…bookmark…BORING!

The Internet and social media has made it much easier to connect with the readers.

Over five years ago, I had my first online party for my street team. No one had ever had an online party. Much less one that I had given. I had over five hundred members that have been so instrumental in getting the word out about my novels, and I wanted to give back to them. I emailed fifty authors and asked them to donate a book to my online gratitude party. In return they had to promote my novel with the pre-written Facebook status and Twitter updates that I had come up with. They were going to be getting access to all of my readers. It was a no brain-marketing tool. Needless to say, it was a success. As you can see, five years later, most authors have online parties and street teams.

My street team also LOVES my Kindle parties and Nook Book Club chats. I love to click on the “share bubble” on my Kindle to see what readers are saying about my novel when they are reading. While I was in there, I commented back to one of the readers who had left a comment on how much she loved the book. She immediately responded back to my comment and we started a Kindle bubble chat. It made me think outside the box and open up the chat to my street team. Unfortunately, not all my readers have Kindles, so I also decided to have a private Nook Book Club chat.


Another day. Another funeral. Another ghost. Another average day in the life of young funeral home director, Emma Lee Raines. After a perilous run-in with a plastic Santa Claus, Emma Lee, co-owner of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, sees the ghost of town gossip Ruthie Sue Payne, who is proving to be a real pain, more so in death than while living. Recently deceased, Ruthie reveals to Emma Lee that her demise wasn't caused by accidentally falling down the steps at the Sleepy Hollow Inn as everyone believes—she was pushed...murdered. In order for the ghost to cross over—and for Emma Lee to be rid of Ruthie for good—she must find a desperate killer...or risk being haunted forever.

Another day. Another funeral. Another ghost. Another average day in the life of young funeral home director, Emma Lee Raines. After a perilous run-in with a plastic Santa Claus, Emma Lee, co-owner of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, sees the ghost of town gossip Ruthie Sue Payne, who is proving to be a real pain, more so in death than while living. Recently deceased, Ruthie reveals to Emma Lee that her demise wasn’t caused by accidentally falling down the steps at the Sleepy Hollow Inn as everyone believes—she was pushed…murdered. In order for the ghost to cross over—and for Emma Lee to be rid of Ruthie for good—she must find a desperate killer…or risk being haunted forever.

For both of these chats, I take a poll on what novel they would like to have a chat about. When the novel is decided, I have them promote the novel because in order to do the chats, you have to purchase the book. I give them a few weeks and promote the chat so they have time to read. I have also gotten an RSVP for chats and sent out author swag to them. Unfortunately, the chats have gotten so large, I haven’t sent any swag, but I do have giveaways during the chat. It’s a ton of fun and my readers LOVE it.

Don’t forget about the power of Twitter. Twitter chats are fun too. When I got to author/reader live events and know some of my readers just can’t make those, I have LIVE Twitter chat parties using a hasthag (#) so we will all be in the same thread. Just because readers can’t come to live events, isn’t cause to leave them out of all the fun.

I love meeting my readers! I have over three thousand reader snail mail addresses. With every release, I send at least two hundred reader swag bags plus marketing material for them the pass out. I have gotten so many libraries, book clubs, and bookstores selling my novels through my amazing readers. With every live event, I will look for a fun place to host an intimate gathering for those local readers. I send them invitations through snail mail and the party planning begins. If there are other author friends also going to the live event, I might ask one of them to join me to co-host an event. It can be as simple as gathering at a local pizza joint or renting a cupcake shop. There is NOTHING like face-to-face interaction with your readers. And don’t forget fun swag packs to give them for attending.

1150253_10201204208720882_507751081_n group shot


One of my readers owns a small boutique in Florida. She has cute clothes, jewelry and shoes. She knew I had a large following and asked me if she could carry a clothing line named after one of my USA Today Bestselling series, Magical Cures Mystery Series. It would not only help her boutique, but it would have a clothing line attached to my series. She sent me photos of some of the items and we collaborated on what to name them. Once the Magical Cures Clothing Line went live, all the items sold out in forty-eight hours! It was awesome. Plus it helps that I wear the items to book signings and events where I can promote her shop and my clothing line. We are coming up with a new summer line as well.


June Heal Tunic.

June Heal Tunic.


Mr. Prince Charming Boots

Mr. Prince Charming Boots

Live events can be the same old humdrum. And I don’t like that. Readers come to events and want to get to know the author. They want to have fun. If I go to an event, I want to be there. Present. There is so much downtime for authors at these events. But downtime can be your time to shine! Get new readers. But how do you do that? Well….prizes! Giveaways! There isn’t any better way to get a reader to pick up more than get your stuff in their hands. I did this by buying a simple spin wheel. I get a push cart from the hotel, or wherever the event is taking place and put SPINNY (my readers have affectionately name it), on it. I push SPINNY around the event with me. Everyone stops me asking me what it is all about. If my downtime is 2 pm at an event, I will say “meet me in the lobby at 2 pm and take a spin to win.” By the time 2 pm rolls around and I make it to the lobby, I have a line of over 100 readers waiting to see what it is all about. Each reader picks a color on the wheel and if they win, they get an Amazon gift card, Kappes novel, or whatever I decided they win before the spin. If SPINNY doesn’t land on their color, they get to pick a prize out of a prize basket full of Tonya Kappes swag.

578428_10201204219201144_2143541976_ncolor spin

What do I get out of it? In order to spin, they are automatically added to my newsletter. After the event, I will send out a welcome to my newsletter asking them to send me their snail mail address and join my street team. At that point, I know I have made a connection and they are going to check me out.

As you can see, I LOVE my readers. This is why I write. They keep me going. There isn’t a marketing tool I don’t try where they are the main focus on how to connect with them.

2014 isn’t any different! I’m excited with new ideas (shh…I can’t tell yet) I’m going to be doing this year. And I can promise no other authors have done it! Cheers!~to a great 2014 and connecting with more readers!


Have you come up with any unique marketing ideas? Which ones have worked for you, and which haven’t been as successful?

On Wednesday, ADAM FIRESTONE discusses Demystifying Security Clearances.



473728_4612154335465_1479305750_o Tonya and guys

Tonya has written over 15 novels and 4 novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. Her novels have won several awards. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers and one ex-stray cats in northern Kentucky and grew up in Nicholasville. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. Come on over and FAN Tonya on Goodreads.

Become a member of Tonya’s STREET TEAM! It’s a gathering place of readers who love Tonya Kappes novels and Tonya gives away prizes! To sign up for Tonya’s STREET TEAM, newsletter, view book trailer, and upcoming news, check out Tonya’s website,

You can check out USA Today Bestseller Tonya Kappes on:




Tonya’s Website

Check out Tonya’s latest release, A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING.

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50 Responses to “Thinking Outside The Box~Marketing Ideas with USA Today Bestseller Tonya Kappes”

  1. Thanks so much for having me! I love being here.

    Posted by Tonya Kappes | March 24, 2014, 6:57 am
  2. Yes we love being on Tonya’s team, the last party was a blast and her books are wonderful, I’m eyeing off those boots at the moment though

    Posted by Chris | March 24, 2014, 7:01 am
  3. I’ve been a member of Tonya’s Street team gor long time. We are a family that promotes Tonya and we are ghere for all members of the team. Tonya treats us has the true friends yhat we have become.

    Posted by jill david | March 24, 2014, 7:04 am
  4. I’m part of Tonya’s street team and proud of it. She’s a great author and person!

    Posted by Leanne Gagnon | March 24, 2014, 7:31 am
  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a member of Tonya’s street team! She’s an amazing author and a wonderful person!!!

    Posted by Vanessa Cercone | March 24, 2014, 8:19 am
  6. I am a proud member of Tonya’s Street Team. SPreading the word for Tonya’s books is very easy they are great, and Tonya is such a nice person!

    Posted by Sue Lopp | March 24, 2014, 8:20 am
  7. Being part of Tonya’s street team is like being a part of a huge family! I love her books and I love to share them with people that have never picked one of hers up. Love her online parties, she always makes them such a treat! Can’t wait for the next one!!!! Thanks Tonya for being well YOU! <3

    Posted by Lynda Lorow | March 24, 2014, 8:27 am
  8. I love being on Tonga’s street team as well…she really does go above and beyond to be friendly with her readers 🙂

    Posted by kym amaral | March 24, 2014, 8:40 am
  9. LOVE being on Tony’s Street Team…We always have a blast and meet new people, and Spinny and Spinny Jr. are the bomb…

    Posted by Candace Fox | March 24, 2014, 9:12 am
  10. Hi Tonya – Thanks so much for joining us today! I’ve always been impressed with your marketing ideas, but when you came up with a clothing line that tied in with your books I was knocked out! Do you have any other surprises in store for your fans?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 24, 2014, 9:12 am
  11. I have been a proud street team member for several years now. I have enjoyed meeting everyone there so much … we have an absolute BLAST!!! I love helping to spread the word about Tonya because she is an amazing author.

    Posted by Susan P | March 24, 2014, 9:27 am
  12. And…I think one of the biggest things about your success…is that you’re just being you. You can’t fake this stuff. The readers love getting to know you!
    Hugs and continued success!

    Posted by Nancy Naigle | March 24, 2014, 9:43 am
  13. I am also a member of Tonya’s street team! I love her books they are always fun to read. Also Tonya has a great personality and it comes through in all she does and makes you feel that she truly is a friend.

    Posted by Karen Candee | March 24, 2014, 9:50 am
    • Hey Karen! That is one thing that is a pet peeve. I have been to things where I thought the author was one way, but turned out to be another in person….needless to say I don’t read that author anymore. It’s an honor to be read and I think every author should believe that to their core.

      Posted by Tonya Kappes | March 24, 2014, 1:26 pm
  14. Tonya – and Tonya’s street team – what are your most popular swag items?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 24, 2014, 10:32 am
    • I like to win bookmarks because I collect bookmarks from everywhere. I like reading Tonya’s books. She has wonderful personality and you pick up on how much fun she is in her books and posts.

      Posted by Jamie Steadman | March 24, 2014, 12:31 pm
    • I think they love my broom pens. IN fact, the local radio pop station in Cincy promoted my cute pens on live radio during their morning show. I was so excited! I also love my eye glass cloths, or my thermal straw cups with my new awesome logo on it….there are just so many!

      Posted by Tonya Kappes | March 24, 2014, 12:33 pm
    • I think the broom pens are really cool, especially since I am a pen addict. Haha! I also enjoy the little booklets with Chapter 1 from Ghostly Undertaking. People easily get hooked and want the entire book!

      Posted by Heathercm2001 | March 24, 2014, 4:52 pm
  15. Ooooh … the tote bags are awesome!!

    Posted by Susan P | March 24, 2014, 1:36 pm
  16. Hi Tonya,

    In some ways, swag reminds me of wedding favors. You need something inventive, not that there’s anything wrong with Jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, but that giveaway should set you apart from the herd. It’s a wonderful gesture to reward faithful readers, but the intangibles, like making yourself accessible and approachable, and writing good books is the best promo. You’ve done a good job with that.

    Great to have you back at RU!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 24, 2014, 3:37 pm
  17. Enjoyed Tonya’ s writing way before following her on Facebook. After joining the Street Team, I have met more delightful people who are now friends. We love her open sharing of her life and family and the craziness that can come along with this. She is like a member of our family.

    Posted by Charlene McLucas | March 24, 2014, 3:39 pm
  18. love being a part of Tonya’s Street team.. loads of fun and giveaways!Very friendly people and Tonya is awesome!

    Posted by Sher Giambra | March 24, 2014, 3:49 pm
  19. I’m still pretty new to the Street Team. It hasn’t even been a year yet, but I feel like I have been a member forever! Tonya is so great to her readers, that it is impossible to not spread the word about her and her marvelous books!!! People can try to fake it, but genuine kindness always shines brightest and leaves a wonderful impression. Tonya is one of the most genuine authors I have met. Plus her creativity always has me excited for what is next! And I always know that if she recommends another author, it is going to be someone great as well.

    Posted by Heathercm2001 | March 24, 2014, 4:58 pm
  20. Afternoon Tonya..

    Congrats on your street team, I think they deserve a round of applause for being the most active street team I’ve ever seen here! woot! =)

    I think it’s great too, the way you look for inventive ideas…creativity is definitely your strong suit. =)

    thanks for joining us on RU!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 24, 2014, 5:39 pm
  21. I feel honored to be on such an awesome Street Team. Tonya’s books are fun and witty. I love any of the swag I get and I love sharing them with my friends. One of my favorites is the witch pen <3. If you haven't had a chance to read her books yet, I recommend that you do so…you won't be sorry!

    Posted by Donna Harms | March 24, 2014, 6:31 pm
  22. Being a part of Tonya’s Street Team is fun and exciting. I love being included in new ideas and in chats. Tonya shares a part of herself as well as being third person omniscient! I feel as if I am in her character’s heads. Sometimes I feel as if I’m in Kitty Kappes’ head, too. Life is good! You should join us! <3

    Posted by Teri Lenz | March 24, 2014, 6:39 pm
  23. Tonya – You and your amazing street team deserve a round of applause for such a great turn-out today! If I had a magic wish, I’d request Godiva chocolate dipped strawberries for everyone, and maybe some champagne, too. Since my genie seems to have deserted me, we’ll have to enjoy them virtually. Less calories that way! 😉

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 24, 2014, 9:33 pm
  24. If you’re an author there’s no one better to learn from than Tonya! If you’re a reader her true personality shines through her books – upbeat, positive, high energy. This woman is truly amazing!! Thanks for sharing Tonya and for RU to having her here!

    Posted by Mary Buckham | March 24, 2014, 9:51 pm
  25. Thanks for joining us today, Nancy and Mary! Tonya – come back sometime soon! I’m curious about your June surprise. Are you coming to Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together? I hope to see you there!


    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 24, 2014, 10:59 pm
    • Thanks for having me! My real marketing advice would be to show up! Do it! Show up in the world and the Universe will show up for you 😉

      I won’t be at the Get Together this year. Another GREAT marketing tool is to figure out what reader events work for you as an author. The Get Together is really a great event for romance readers and Lori Foster. I loved going to see my friends, but career wise it’s not a good investment 🙂 AGAIN…think of good investments OUTSIDE THE BOX 🙂

      Posted by Tonya Kappes | March 25, 2014, 6:59 am
  26. I will join your street team readers very soon. I am delighted that you have taken readers that seriously. I hope you mean to encourage people to learn more through reading.

    I have liked the approach taken. Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Benson Masambah | April 5, 2014, 12:15 am

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