Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE END of Promotion

I know I don’t have to tell all of you that the shelf life and “promotion” life of a romance novel is incredibly short lived. The space in stores, publications and even online resources in regards to romance is oversaturated with an incredibly diverse world of authors, and an even more diverse audience—with a short attention span!

This is why, when I put together online promo plans, I put a lot of emphasis on your publication month—this is when your book will be in stores and at the top of online retailers’ lists. This is when your book is more than likely going to be on some kind of promotion in stores, whether that’s on a special table, on a tower or endcap, or included in a special newsletter. People will be looking for your book, even if they don’t know you by name. And I want to make sure they see you in stores, and when they find an issue of RT Book Reviews or BookPage, or when they’re checking their favorite blogs, or when they’re watching Oprah…ok, maybe not the last one (is anyone else kind of disappointed that she chose Charles Dickens for her next book club pick? I like Dickens all right, but kind of underwhelming… just me? Moving on.), but you get the idea. And unless there’s some kind of act of God—or a printer mistake, or last minute cover change, or a warehouse flood—the Sourcebooks Casablanca romance machine is well-greased, and putting out 5-8 new mass market, single title, romance novels every month!

So what happens, when that month is over? It’s a TOUGH world out there, and we all know that books, while they might shift around on bookshelves, they don’t disappear right away—they sit there among the following months’ books on promotion, and they’re still in various warehouses across the country. What can you do when your book’s promotion life is over?

Stay Consistent. Ok, I know—why should you update your Facebook page if you don’t have a book in stores right now, right? Because your fans will get bored and not pay attention in 4 or 5 months when you have a new book. I don’t think you need to blog every single day, or tweet your breakfast every morning, but if you update your social networking on a regular basis (figure out what works for YOU), and also keep your website up to date (new covers, blog/twitter/facebook/etc. links) your readers will know how to find you.

Stay Interesting. One of the best things about this blog is that it’s not just about your books and how great they are and all the fab reviews they’ve received—you show you’re human and have lives. Pick your own theme for updates and make sure you let people know about it. Did you see a YouTube video that made you laugh? Or did an article you read really open your eyes to something new? Or did you find inspiration in the strangest of ways? And there’s nothing wrong with sharing pictures of cute kittens.

Stay Friendly. Did you recently read a book that you loved loved loved? Tell us about it. And tell everyone on Amazon. And send a little tweet or Facebook wall post in the direction of the author. What I love about this romance community is that the authors and professionals are also READERS. Let’s face it—you love hearing when someone loves your book, and so does that fellow author! Did someone discover your debut a year after it was in stores and review it on their blog—thank them for it, in a visible way, to give their blog a little love.

Stay Gold. No, this isn’t just the line from The Outsiders—it actually makes a lot of sense. “Staying Gold” in the context of that book (or movie!) meant to remember who you are, where you came from, and to follow your dreams. I urge all authors, not matter if you’re waiting for your first book to go into stores, or you have 5 or 6 on shelf already: remember what it was that made you want to be a writer in the first place, and that feeling you had when you saw your first book in stores. Let that fuel your tenacity to make each book a success, and continue to connect and engage with readers as you continue your career in writing romance.

So, what do you do when you’re between books that you feel have kept your book in the minds of readers? What ended up being a total time-suck?

As always, I’ll do my best to check in a few times today and answer any romance related questions. And if you don’t want to ask in front of anyone, please email directly: danielle.jackson@sourcebooks.com

16 comments:

  1. Woohoo, I'm totally inspired, Danielle! And I'm just in the beginning of my promo tour for Wolf Fever. But I blog daily, keep in touch with fans every day, and love it! I have a newsletter that I share free stories on that keeps me connected with 400 readers and the number is growing daily, and Facebook and Twitter (linking to blog posts that have something fun to share--or important--like a new cover is up! Or Heart of the Wolf had its 3rd printing and is back in the warehouse, available soon!)

    The other day I commented that I'd had a nightmare about orange poisonous snakes, and a fan looked up the meaning. And I'd shared some beautiful wolf painted ornaments to begin a Christmas season with wolves and another fan found other wolf ornaments I could buy and shared them with me. So I thanked both and posted about the meaning of snakes in a dream and shared some more wolf ornaments, compliments of both ladies, thanks to Donna and Stephanie. To me, that makes the blogging so much fun!

    It's not all about promotion, but making friends all over the world!

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  2. Promotion between books reminds me a little of job hunting after a lay off: You have to keep on keeping on, sending out resumes, putting the word out to your friends, scanning the help wanted, hanging with your posse, doing the things that keep you sane, keep your light on, and very possibly, will create some new directions in the meanwhile. It helps to think that even the Bestsellers go through the same drill, and many of them have a year or more between books.

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  3. Terry, you're a machine!

    I'm still trying to figure out what works. I'm picking up momentum on Goodreads right now. I've got a she told two friends and she told two friends and she told two friends process that's starting to build, but it's rather slow at the beginning and takes time. One thing I've learned is that it's hard building a name from scratch. Love those romance bloggers who've helped me so much in that regard. I've got some other things that should help build my name in the near future (my agent is brilliant - waves at Jenn), but right now I'm just trying to stay on the radar until April. See that dim little blip over there on the edge of the radar screen? That's me.

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  4. Great post as always, Danielle! I have a newsletter, and I love doing contests, and my blog feeds to twitter, MS & FB, and I'm always trying new things promotion-wise, so I never get bored. :}

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  5. Hello Danielle, this post couldn't be more relevant as after Christmas, I most definitely won't be promoting a book called Dating Mr December. ;)

    I'm glad other authors sometimes feel they're a little marooned on a desert island when they're between books. That's comforting...

    I adore Facebooking anyway and there's always something going on on there 24/7 from fellow writers and readers - and that gives me ideas for the blog. I share things that matter to me, highs and lows. one thing people know I love is TV drama and Richard Armitage so I share any gossip and views on that.

    I've joined Twitter and am gradually finding my way around. Hmm... I also intend to start up a newsletter and I'm writing a shortish story to go with the first edition as an exclusive.

    Never done a newsletter before so I'll be reading other writers tips on that(including Casablanca authors, all ideas welcome!)

    I sometimes host other authors and new writers on my blog - I love doing that.

    The RNa *always* has news and I've got an eciting role for them coming up in spring that I can't wait to share.

    But Like Olivia, I'm still working all of this out especially as the US market is so new to me so I'll drink up any and all ideas and experiences.

    Any Casablanca author is welcome to come and talk about the US market. Just drop me a line!

    Phillipa

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  6. Hi Terry-Fabulous tips! You are so diligent about your web presence, whether you have a book in stores or not. I know it's made an impact, and it's great to hear you're making so many friends!

    Grace-what an appropriate analogy and "Keep on keeping on" is a great phrase to keep in mind. ANd you are so right--every author, in some way, is doing the exact same thing you are!

    Oliva-You know I'm the first to admit that I'm still trying to figure things out, too! It's hard, but I think when you find a niche, and build on it, the result is great, whether it's brand recognition, netowrking or sales!

    Kathryne-Thanks! Like Terry, you are very diligent in keeping your readers in the know, and it makes an incredible difference.

    Phillipa-thanks for stopping by! It sounds like you are keeping busy, especially with double duty both in the UK and your new territory, the US! Can't wait to hear what you're doing with RNA :)

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  7. What an inspiring post!! I'm ready to get out my snake wagon and park it under the red light (we only have one) on Main Street and speechify about my books!
    I did (slight blush here) advertise on my Christmas Cards this year. My daughter found a wonderful Wrangler stocking and took pictures and Husband wrote a bit for the inside ...
    Thanks for the inspirational blog!

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  8. That was a gret pep talk, Danielle. I need them often!
    Amelia

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  9. Great blog, Danielle!

    I blog on three different blogs, usually one or two a week and I write. I have a facebook page and try to remember to tweet, but the most important thing is I write the next book while I'm keeping the word going about my last, and the one before that, and the one before that...

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  10. Carolyn-your Christmas card sounds adorable, and a great idea to give your books a little extra boost :)

    Amelia-I'm always around for a little pep talk if you need it!

    Robin-Thank you, Robin! I think group blogs are a fun way to keep your name out there, and it's less work than doing one on your own.

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  11. Thanks for the ideas, Danielle! Someone emailed me a few days ago asking about a newsletter, and I've given some thought to it, but haven't quite gotten around to it yet. LOL! Maybe next year...

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  12. Wonderful blog, Danielle. Things have changed so much since I started doing self-promo a decade ago.

    Who knew e-mail, e-books, social networking, etc. would become the new "norm?"

    Time is at a premium between my writing, my day job and a really long list of responsibilities, so I blog when I can, keep my website up-to-date, do contests, interviews, etc. as a hosted author over at Between Your Sheets (BYS), The Romance Studio (TRS) and Coffee Time Romance (CTR).

    My blog has the RSS feed directly to my author page at Amazon, and for me that was a huge deal figuring that out.

    I confess Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace give me a rash...it's so overwhelming when I open my page...crowded with so many comments, invites, etc.

    Any hints, ideas or suggestions as to how to get around it?

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  13. Cheryl-if your newsletter is anything like your own blog, I'm sure it'll be very popular!

    C.H.-Similar to what you did with your blog and Amazon, you can do with Twitter and Facebook. Like email newsletters, these social networking sites are becoming the norm, too. But there are ways to consolidate your efforts, and keep things consistent!

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  14. Sorry I missed this yesterday! I find that signing with authors who have a new book out and doing some joint promo with them keeps my book in readers' minds.

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  15. Did anyone see the post at Dear Author this week called What Kind of Author Promo Works For You? I found it illuminating. While there's a lot of diverse feedback offered in the post, one thing that struck me was how often personal recommendations and reviews were mentioned as factors which helped people decide to buy books. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    To me, social networking is a mixed bag. I work in technology for my day job, and amongst my early-adopter colleagues I'm noticing an increasing backlash against social media tools, particularly with some vendors' data privacy and data minimg practices. Others (including, frankly, me) report digital overload, a need to step away from the glowing screen and the never-ending barrage of bits and bytes.

    I think part of the challenge, as illustrated by the Dear Author post, is that a promotion approach that might work spectacularly for one particular reader is a complete turnoff to the next. What this suggests to me is that each author needs to find an approach that works for them.

    YMMV, of course. ;-)

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  16. Thanks for the post, Danielle. It's very timely for me, since my New Year's resolution is to do better at promotion. I'm redesigning my website and working on a new feature: the Real Life Romance Cowboy of the Week. I think hooking everything together - the Amazon author site, facebook, and a website - is the best way to make the most of your time. I haven't figured out Twiter yet!

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