Posted On November 5, 2014 by Print This Post

Making Marketing Choices That Work For You by Sonali Dev

There are few things as exciting as watching a struggling writer make her first sale and send her first book out into the world. This week long-time RU follower SONALI DEV did just that with the publication of her book A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR.


Thanks so much, Becke, for having me. I think of RU as my Alma Mater of sorts because I learned much of what I know about writing romance right here. What makes it even more special to be here today is that it’s been exactly one week since my debut novel, A Bollywood Affair, came out, so I’m celebrating my anniversary. And although it has been the craziest week of my life, it has also been everything I could have hoped my debut would be.

While it is impossible to predict how marketing efforts will impact a book release, when someone asked me what I had done to prepare for it, I gathered up all the things that I did to market my book and tried to figure out why I had selected those particular things to do from all the choices available.

But first a little background. I signed the contract for my book back in February 2013 and the book hit the shelves at the very end of October 2014. That means I had a good year and eight months to get ready for the release. That is a long time to put together a wish list and to obsess over it.

Lucky for me I love wish lists. In fact, my first instinct about everything is to put together a wish list. To first and foremost dream. Because without dreams, how do you know where you’re going? So, I used a lot of that time to imagine what I wanted out of my debut, if I could have anything at all. I listed all the tangible things that I had control over like a trailer, my website, my various author pages, a Facebook party, a blog tour; and I also listed things that I had limited control over like a bookstore launch, reviews, blurbs. Things I wanted, that I could ask for, but that I could not directly make happen.

The tangible, controllable things are simple enough to do. And there’s more information available on them than you could ever use. Amy Atwell does a great AuthorEMS workshop on launching your book that covers almost everything you could possibly do as part of your book launch. So, I’m definitely not going to highlight the meagerness of my own expertise by going into it here. What I can speak to is what I considered while narrowing down my own list and choosing what to include in my marketing efforts. And given how very much you can do, and how necessary it all seems, making those choices wasn’t easy. But thinking of each choice in these terms really helped me:

  • Criticalness: If you made a scale of what you believe an author absolutely must do to sell books, where would this fall? For instance, a website, in my opinion, is critical while marketing your book and your brand. Because if you are able to pique anyone’s interest even a little bit in today’s day and age, they are going to want to Google you and find your website. Your author pages on Amazon and Goodreads fall pretty high up on this scale too. On the other hand, swag, while fun, falls lower on the scale of criticalness. Naturally, things that seem critical to you must go on your list.
  • Ease: How much time, effort and money does it take? And since ease is fairly personal, this varies from person to person. If you are a web designer in your day job then creating and managing your website is fairly easy. If social media is your thing then posting to social media will be pretty easy for you too. Creating a trailer, on the other hand, needs professional help (time, effort and money) for most people and that puts it pretty low on the ease scale.

The caveat of doing everything that is easy is that it’s tempting to take on far too much and in the end it adds up in terms of time. This is why it’s important to consider each thing in terms of all three: criticalness, ease and significance and then finding a balance that works for you.

  • Significance: How special is this thing to you? This is the piece that can be harder to gauge because it is so personal. My book is a Bollywood Romance. Bollywood is just a catchy term for the Hindi Film Industry. And given that the book is meant to read like a Bollywood film, I really badly wanted a film-style trailer. From everything I had heard trailers cost a lot of money and no one can say for sure if they sell books. But how can you have a book with a Bollywood director for a hero and not have a trailer? The bottom line was that making a trailer for A Bollywood Affair meant a lot to me and so its personal significance was very high for me which is why I did make one despite it being neither critical nor easy.

Once you’ve considered these factors against your in-your-control list, it’s pretty easy to identify what you want to do and do it.

The not-in-your-control list is an entire different beast. But I think it behooves you to make it. And make it as soon as you can (in fact, start working on this one even if you haven’t sold), because this list needs more than time, money and effort. This one needs a little piece of your heart. It involves putting yourself out there.

On this list fall things like soliciting reviews and blurbs and being part of author events and cross promotion. And at the heart of this list are your relationships, especially for a newbie. As a new author no one has any idea about the quality of your work, so every time someone agrees to look at your book, they are running the risk of wasting time, and of being stuck in the uncomfortable position of turning you down. And the onus of making someone take this risk and look at your work falls on your shoulders.

You know how everyone and their cousin advices you to network at conferences and author events? They know what they are talking about. It’s always easier to ask someone you know to look at your book or at least to ask someone who has known you over a period of time and knows you won’t go crazy on them if they choose not to give you what you want. Our community of romance writers, readers and reviewers is a tight one and a very generous one and this means we have all sorts of doors we have the freedom to knock on. The trick is in knowing what a gift this is and using it with judicious care and of course in taking the time to nurture it.


For those of you who are published authors, how do you choose what to do to market your books?

On Friday, Handsome Hansel returns with his regular RU column.



Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and writing, and migrating across the globe. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now conjures up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.
 You can look at my trailer at:

You can learn more about A Bollywood Affair at:

You can read an Excerpt at:

Visit Sonali at or find her on Facebook at and on Twitter @Sonali_Dev


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24 Responses to “Making Marketing Choices That Work For You by Sonali Dev”

  1. Thank you for this. My debut comes out October 2015 and I’m already obsessing.

    Posted by Eileen Richards | November 5, 2014, 5:33 am
  2. I agree, dear Sonali, about conference and the writing community… and karma. If you’re a good author friend, you make good author friends, and the ripples flow from there. Being genuine is invaluable, too, which is something I don’t think I have to tell you. So happy about the book’s success! Not surprised at all, but very happy and proud for you! xox

    Posted by Kristan Higgins | November 5, 2014, 8:08 am
  3. Hey, Kristan! So true about being a good author friend. And, darling, look at the example you set for the rest of us.
    Many hugs and thank you!

    Posted by Sonali Dev | November 5, 2014, 12:41 pm
  4. Love this post Sonali. Judging from your debut week, you made good choices! Congratulations and thanks for leading the way for your sisters. 🙂

    Posted by Amy DeLuca/Amy Patrick | November 5, 2014, 3:06 pm
    • Hi Amy, my Lucky Sister, thanks so much for commenting (and always being there). It was a good debut week, I will admit. But one never knows why or what works. Therefore, I think you have to have some set of guidelines to help you decide. And they have to work for you personally.

      Posted by Sonali Dev | November 5, 2014, 4:25 pm
  5. I don’t remember when I first discovered Bollywood movies but I know I went on a binge shortly afterwards. I still enjoy all the color, music and the lush scenery in those movies. And, as I knew I would, I absolutely loved A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR. I love the way you combined traditional and modern, and I LOVE Mili and Samir. Have you completed your next book? I’m going to need another Sonali fix before very long!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 5, 2014, 3:09 pm
  6. Sonali,

    You are the champ at marketing. Your book is every whwere and getting well deserved wonderful buzz. Loved your book too!

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | November 5, 2014, 4:05 pm
  7. Hi Sonali,

    Wahoo! Congratulations on your debut!

    The amount of advice available to writers is staggering and overwhelming. I’m glad that you were able to figure out what worked for you. A book trailer is very fitting for your story, and it’s great to see a rise in ethnic romances. Thanks for being such a wonderful supporter of RU. We wish you the very best.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | November 5, 2014, 4:48 pm
  8. Sonali – I think you’re doing better than holding your head above the water. I’ve heard nothing but good about this book, and now that I’ve read it I’ll be spreading the word, too.

    I’m excited to read your next book! Do you have a title or cover blurb yet or is it too early for that?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 5, 2014, 5:23 pm
    • Thanks again, Becke!

      My next book is called The Bollywood Bride. Don’t have a cover yet, but it’s in the works.

      And it’s the story of a Bollywood star who comes home to Chicago after 10 years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face-to-face with the man she betrayed for stardom.


      Posted by Sonali Dev | November 5, 2014, 6:45 pm
  9. OOh, it sounds great! My daughter hasn’t seen any Bollywood films and I want to introduce her to them. What are your personal favorites?

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 5, 2014, 7:48 pm
    • Monsoon Wedding and Bend it Like Beckham aren’t Bollywood per se. But they are a great place to start. For trued Bollywood: Zindagi na milegi dobara, Kal ho na ho, Dhoom 3, Dil chahta hai.
      Again, thanks so much for having me.

      Posted by Sonali Dev | November 6, 2014, 6:48 am
  10. Thanks so much for spending time with us today, Sonali! Best wishes for continued success!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 5, 2014, 8:17 pm
  11. Congratulations Sonali!

    Your book cover is beautiful! =) With your dream list I’m sure you’ll kick rear too!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 5, 2014, 9:51 pm
  12. Congratulations, Sonali! I couldn’t agree more about the relationships we make in this business. I’ve never met a more generous group of women–everyone is so willing to share their knowledge and experience. I’ve heard such good things about your book and can’t wait to read it!

    Posted by Erika Kelly | November 6, 2014, 4:59 pm
  13. Congratulations, Sonali! Whatever you did, IT WORKED. I’m following your road map, girlfriend. And your book, of course, rocks. So happy for you!

    Posted by Joanna Shupe | November 6, 2014, 6:53 pm


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