Saturday, September 13, 2008

Out-of-the-Box Marketing and Promotional Opportunities

by Danielle Jackson

One of the hardest things I do as a publicist is try to think of new ways to promote your books. For romance, the web is by far the biggest way to make a significant impact on readers, and of course there’s always the old stand by—print reviews. However, as more and more romance novels (and really, books in general) are released every year, sometimes, you have to do something a little weird to get people to take notice of what you’re doing.

One of the best workshops I went to at RWA was called Self-Promotion: It Isn’t Rocket Science given by author Kelley St. John and her agent, Caren Johnson. They addressed this very same issue—what can you do to make your promotional efforts really pop? Kelley herself has worked out giving away vacations (in exchange with the resorts/hotels/restaurants/etc. their names are added to ALL promotional materials, they are linked to on her site, etc.) as a contest on her website. This worked to her advantage on many levels, but two major points were made

1) This generated more interest in being on her newsletter list—a great way to reach readers and let them know what have going on!
2) She received extra attention and media coverage because of not only the response, but the amazing new way she decided to promote her book.

These things also worked in ways to help readers remember that book and author—I mean, who’s going to forget someone giving away a vacation? And the perfect book to take with!

Now, this is just an amazing example of out-of-the-box promotion—the opportunities are endless! I suggest thinking about what makes your book different. We have everything from aliens to guys who like to clean; so there’s a hook in there somewhere just begging to be explored and taken to the next level with promotional efforts. Anything from writing articles and then shopping them around to magazines (which, let me tell you, our magazine database is quite extensive!) to hosting a tea party where you teach regency dances to figuring out a crazy way to get a celebrity to read your book (or at least pose for a photo)…the list goes on!

So, here’s a little project for you authors out there (I feel like a teacher haha): even if it is the most INSANE idea in the world, what would be a fun out-of-the-box promotional opportunity for YOUR book? I know that some of you have already let me know about them…share with your Casa sisters! Let’s generate some ideas, and hopefully start to put them into motion. I’ll be the first to admit that with the out-of-the-box stuff, I’ll need your help!!

I will not be able to check in quite so frequently today! But I expect many many MANY ideas to be in the comments so I can respond on Sunday!!


  1. Danielle, where do you keep getting these pictures of me? Oh well, I guess I'd better get busy on my homework assignment. My character Carol Frank is a legal secretary, as am I, and so I always had this dream of going to the National Association of Legal Professionals Convention and promoting myself there. A large part of my story is office satire as well as romance, which seems like a great combination to pitch to the biggest group of legal professionals in the USA! We'll just see if I can make it happen.

  2. I have been thinking about making contact with one of the chain stores that specialize BBW clothing because all of my heroines and big and beautiful and seeing if I could do signings at their stores or perhaps some sort of promotional activity.

    I put bookmarks in with all my bill payments, someone has to open them. - I find bookmarks work much better than postcards, because people keep them and use them.

    I have a free stuff page on my website where people can request bookmarks, bookplates and postcards. It seems to generate interest, I certainly get lots of requests for signed bookmarks.

  3. I think I should give away T shirts with the cover of Slave on the front that say, "Wanna buy a love slave? He purrs!"
    Be good on a bookmark, too. How do you get bookmarks, anyway?

  4. Giselle should read Line of Scrimmage to Tom Brady while he recovers from surgery, and then we should have them as guest bloggers on Casa Authors!

    Seriously, we've done some great out of the box marketing with LOS, including outreach to female fan sites and other football-related sources. I'm already thinking about how we can do that with Same Time Sunday, which has a lawyer hero and a hairstylist heroine.

  5. I haven't responded because I have no 'out of the box' ideas at all! This is my weak area and it is one of the reasons I am turning to you gals to give me insight! I did get business cards and leave them here and there, but admit I am still shy about doing even that. I like Michele's idea of stuffing a card in an envelope. Too bad I do all my banking online! LOL I should look into bookmarks as well.

    One thing I did do was have a license plate cover made for my new car that says: on the bottom and The Darcy Saga on the top. Still waiting for an email on that one! But, I was patting myself on the back for coming up with that idea. :)

  6. I looked hard for out-of-the-box ideas because I beleived Kiss would appeal to many who weren't card carrying romance fans--as well as (hopefully) those who are.

    I approached niche bloggers. For instance,the heroine Pickett has celiac disease so Danielle sent review copies (with wonderful cover letters she wrote--in HER words I sounded so good!) to a couple of websites about celiac. I also sought out niche magazines--community magazines etc.where the book is set. To my knowlege, none of them ever reviewed the book--but you never know, something may come of it yet.

    Then there was getting out of my personal box--meaning overcoming my diffidence. I carried an author's copy of Kiss everywhere. I would tell anyone, the grocery store clerk, my waiter, the bank teller, I was a writer and this was my book. When people said what do you do? I'd whip out the book. I didn't try to 'sell' it. I just showed it to them.

    One person insisted on buying the book from me, right then and there. It's against the rules, but what the heck, I sold it to her. She read it, loved it, and posted an endorsement on her 500plus email list.

    The biggest out-of-the box lesson for me was when the book club at my church--and I'm still chuckling over this--made it their summer reading selection. Yes, it's a liberal church, but I never would have thought of approaching them. They approached ME. I was fascinated by the spiritual lessons they found, and also by their intuitive grasp of the hero's journey--a la Joseph Campbell. I wouldn't have thought of church book clubs before but I will now.

  7. Hooo boy. Other than giving out bunny slippers? I give away hexy body lotion and hexy body spray because it goes with Jazz's feeling of smelling yummy all the time. Rubber duckies are part of it, but if I wanted to go all out? Spa, a day at a carnival, and there's other stuff rolling around in my head.