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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Tonyakappes.com .
You can check out USA Today Bestseller Tonya Kappes on:
Tonya’s Website 
Check out Tonya’s latest release, A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING .