Thursday, February 10, 2011

The First Time...

by Danielle Jackson

A lot of firsts happen in romance novels—first kisses, first times (yes, I mean that time), first… well, ok, you get the idea. But as so many of you know, being a first-time published author during this time is incredibly intimidating. What is the best way to promote and market YOUR book, which deserves all the love and attention and accolades along with the rest of them? Typing “social media” into Google isn’t going to help you. In fact, it will probably send you screaming in the wrong direction. But, there are some simple things to remember as you start your journey into publication, or even if you have more than one book in publication, to navigate through what does and doesn’t work for you and your book.

1. You Don’t Have to Blog Every Single Day. At every single RWA National conference I’ve been to, I’ve attended a workshop on promotion and at all of them a speaker has said one thing I just don’t agree with: YOU MUST BLOG. Now, I think blogging during your release months keeps your book in front of a targeted book reading-and buying- audience and really helps drive interest and brand recognition (aka YOU!). Combine that with reviews from the trade magazine, RT Book Reviews and from romance book bloggers, there’s an opportunity during the weeks leading up to and while your book is freshly on shelves to “attack” interested readers. You want them to see your book on shelf or with an online retailer and think, “I’ve been seeing this book so much lately! I’m going to check it out. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell people what you eat for breakfast every morning. There are also other ways to keep your adoring fans informed and entertained…

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Things… and Then Decide You DON’T Like Them. To this day, I am still playing around on Twitter. Have I figured out the best way to consistently post in a way that makes sense? No. Are there enough hours in the day for me to spend more than half an hour here and there to update. No. However, I have noticed that re-tweeting and alerting people about giveaways or contests or asking questions seem to be the tweets that people pay attention to the most. If you want to know more about something—check it out. Facebook has an incredibly helpful “Help” section, but I think that the best way to learn if Facebook or Twitter or Wordpress or Blogger will work for you is to give it a try. And if it doesn’t work, then make sure you make a tactful goodbye and let people know to find you somewhere else.

3. Don’t Forget You’re a Writer. There are some of you who I think with almost every release from Sourcebooks that has gone into store, you have another book on deadline due smack dab in the middle of your pub month. Or you’re reviewing pages, or you’re writing proposals for your next book or working on developing ideas for the next series. One thing I love about our authors is they are so proactive and working a step ahead of the game and gearing up for what is next.. which makes it very easy for “now” to seem a little annoying and not important. As your publicist, I have to work ahead and stay in the moment as well—jumping on opportunities for your current book, as well as thinking ahead to your next book, so I completely know how you feel (and let’s not forget that there are 30+ Casablanca Authors for which I publicize)! But if you know you have a deadline, or you know you’ll have pages—LET ME KNOW. I have no problem rearranging or avoiding certain dates or putting more dates in one week because you know you’ll be busy! That way you don’t feel spread thin, and I don’t feel like a total nag reminding you about all those things you need to do…

Now I want to hear from you—when you were a first time author, what happened that was unexpected or hard to deal with? Or for our first time authors, what are you anticipating? As always, any questions you have, I’ll check in throughout the day to answer!

And to our readers out there—don’t forget!

Leave a comment on our blog and you'll be entered to win drawings throughout the month of February. Also, EVERY commenter gets an entry in our drawing for a grand prize pack featuring more than TEN SOURCEBOOKS.

You can get one entry a day for the Grand Prize so come by daily!

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Good luck! And Happy Valentine's Month!


  1. I'm not sure what the clinical name for this condition is, but as a debut author whose first book came out in December, I'm suffering from Steig Larsen envy. My little book is doing quite respectably, both in terms of sales and reviews. I'm happy with it, happy with my whole debut experience... I couldn't be happier in the real world. But when I go to nosh around on the Kindle rankings, there's this Swedish guy, and all three of his books have been in the top fifty for what looks like centuries, and I have to wonder: Where do a thousand new people come from EVERY DAY to download his books? Because it feels like nobody wants to download MY book anymore....

    So I'm having some debut pouting pangs, which I'm sure I'll get over by June, when book II come out, right?

    And the other thing I hadn't anticipated is being the victim of multiple crimes with virtually no recourse. I refer of course to piracy. My daughter told me my book was on a file sharing site, "But don't worry, Mom. It looks like only fifty people have downloaded it since it went up yesterday...."

    Yes, I can spend hours copying URLs, sending take down letters, and then learning the hosts are extra-US and thus uncaring of consequences, but I did not think publishing would increase my chances of being a crime victim.

    Is this the first time a post has been longer than the blog itself here?

  2. When I was a first time author, two months before my book came out, my editor left to edit cookbooks!

    Neither my publisher, nor my editor told me, I found out through word of mouth. Being orphaned, I realized that the only person who believed and loved my writing was the editor who left.

    It was six years before I sold my second book--and five more! A six year dry spell and then selling six books in one year was not the way I would have wanted to do things, but it worked for me.

    TYLER is my debut with Sourcebooks, my tenth book, and my first mass market paperback coming from the Library Market and small publishers.

    Thanks to you, Danielle, I'm learning to navigate the social media scene without needing therapy!

  3. Thanks, Danielle, for the great informative post as always!!!

    Grace--yes, keep telling about your book and even after you've had the "debut" don't hesitate to solicit more reviews, or do more guest author blogs and of course, talk up your next release. Email me if you'd like and I can give you some more ideas.

    I even talk some about the book I'm writing currently--maybe not details, but just in a general sort of way that gets them involved in the stories as I'm writing. To Tempt the Wolf--Tessa is sure giving Hunter a hard time today, but Hunter's all alpha and he can take it. :)

    Some readers are waiting to see that we'll not be 1-book wonders. They don't want to fall in love with an author, then there's nothing else to read from that author. I'm the say way! But a lot of it is that readers don't know about us yet. And so we have to get the word out to other venues.

    CH--I know just how you feel!!!

    I sold 2 YAs early on, the one even is listed on Amazon, book cover up and everything, and voila! The company, one month before the first book came out after 2 years of waiting, got rid of the YA line. So I was a "published" author for 2 years, with nothing published and went to "unpublished" in a heartbeat.

    But I didn't quit. It just made me more resolved to be "published" again. Although I will admit I still felt any moment Heart of the Wolf would be canceled before its big debut!!!! And it took me a couple of books into the series to finally believe that if it sold, it sold and was still coming out when Deb said it was! :) Thanks to Deb and Danielle and Dominique for making it happen!

    I think my post was longer than yours, CH! :)

  4. Great post, as always, Danielle--

    I'm trying to figure out Twitter too.

    As for debuting--I think every time you release a book you're a debut author for someone. Someone who has never read your books will pick this new one up because you're out there promoting yourself. In that respect, I see no difference in any blog tour. You're still out there trying to get people interested in your writing, no matter how many books you have on the shelves.

    Robin :)

  5. Wow, great post. I wish all first time authors success :-)

  6. I published with a small press that had just been started by some friends of mine, so I had to learn about promotion on the fly, as they didn't offer that at the time. So searching out the places to promote and getting my name out there with the hard part for me.

  7. Danielle, thanks for the great post. I enjoyed reading everyone's responses so far. My debut will be out in October and I'm currently brainstorming ways to build my newsletter list.

    I've become comfortable with FB and Twitter. Danielle's correct that retweeting can be a great way to stay involved and disburse great information without having to be witty. :)

    One thing I do is help promote new releases for authors I know or admire. I like getting the word out for them and it also helps keep my name out there too. Win-win.

    I'm looking forward to the promotion part of publication--just wish I could get rid of the day job so I'd have more time to devote to it! :)

  8. Well I'm not a writer, but as a reader I like to see lots of things about the book, author etc for debut books. The more a see the book pre-release the easier it is for me to remember the book when it is coming out or even passing it when it is out and remember "oh yeah, that was that book I saw, I so have to get this" I love to go to book signings, so if I see a debut author is doing a local signing I will get the book, read it and then go to the signing.

  9. Thanks for the informative post and comments! :)

  10. Grace-I wonder the same thing about Stieg Larsen, Kathryn Stockett, etc! It's crazy to think that there are so many people that are still buying these books after a year+... but the way I look at it--at least people are reading! And as for it seeming like people don't "want" to download your book, just remember the targeted audience of romance readers read an unprecidented amount, and that many of them read books right away and find the next on on their list... and happily return when new books by authors they love come out! Here's to JUNE!

  11. C.H.-Oh my goodness, what a story about your first book! I probably would have gone running in the opposite direction of publishing, never to return! Looking forward to Tyler's big debut in March :)

  12. Terry--thank you for sharing such great insight :) it is always much appreciated, and I am always in awe of how consistent and frequent you are with blogging!

  13. Robin--Isn't Twitter weird? I'm not sure I'll ever fully grasp it, but I know there's more to it, and potentional to reach an untapped audience. Thanks for your thoughts about debuting more than once! I agree :)

  14. Venus, Margay, Kristin and Reina-thank you for stopping by and your comments! It's lovely to see some of our readers jump in the mix.

  15. Tracey--I'm looking forward to working with you more as we get closer to your release! I think you have a great start and will only continue to build more and more.

  16. Great post, sorry I am not an author but just a reader but I so love you authors that provide me with so much intertainment. You make the world a better place.

  17. Given the demands on my time - and my personal knowledge of just how long it takes me to write a blog post - I've known from Day One that having a personal blog just wasn't something I could sustain. I belong to two group blogs (this one and The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood). Posting once a month at each place suits me well. There are also some aspects of Twitter that drive me nuts - I think Jane Litte at Dear Author referred to one of these phenomenons as 'the retweet circle jerk' in her own inimitable way - where so many people who all follow each other all RT the same thing, and your Twitter stream gets clogged with so many repeat tweets that you get sick of looking at them. ;-) I'll reconsider Facebook when they roll out a decent data privacy policy and start following opt-in rather than opt-out upgrade practices.

    As someone whose debut comes out Macrh 1, and who has a day job, I'm trying to stay focused on finishing my second book (morning writing time) and knock out blog entries later in the day.

  18. As a reader, I do look for blog posts and review/interview sites to remind me of books. But I prefer not to be a member of FB or Twitter, too many cons outweigh the pros. Thank you for the informative post though!

  19. I'm not a blog every day person, either. I'd rather work on my WIP than spend time blogging every single day. Once a month suits my style much better.

    I don't Tweet but I am on FB. Still can't even put something on that everyday. It's a good place to spread the word about where I am when I'm off on blog tours, though.

    I came to Sourcebooks with a bunch of books under my belt with two different publishing houses, but as a newby to the promotion stage. So it's been a brand new experience for me and I'm grateful to you, Danielle, for helping me naviagate the waters. I just know I would have drowned for sure without you.

    When I got to SB I'd sold 36 books to the library market which translated roughly to 36-40,000 books total in that area in ten years. My first three SB books sold in 40,000 books in six months. The difference...promotion! Can't argue with that.

    And I'll do gladly do blog tours for that kind of sales.
    So hats off to Danielle and the SB staff!

  20. I blog on my personal blog when I have something worth saying. Sometimes I blog a couple times a week. Sometimes a couple times a month. I try to blog more the month before my release date.

    The most important thing about guest blogging is to try to do something unique/creative. I have bloggers email me frequently because they've seen one of my guest blogs and as me how they can get me to do a cool blog for them? Well, you ask me, that's how. I like guest blogging. I have a blogger who wants to do a week long feature on Sinners the week before Rock Hard comes out. Yes, ma'am, will do. I don't approach bloggers about guest spots though. I should probably do more of that.

    The hard part. To keep coming up with unique/cool/fun/interesting blogs and not saying the same thing over and over again. When you do 30+ blogs to promote a book, you run out of things to say after a while. And I'm not very intersting so I don't like to do interviews about ME very much. I'll talk your ear off about my characters though.

  21. Oh, I'll add my two cents about twitter. Don't follow thousands of people just to get more followers. It's counter productive. If they have 37,000 followers and follow 37,000 people they aren't going to see your tweets unless you @tweet them directly. I follow bloggers I've worked with and fans who tweet me frequently (as in almost daily).

    Facebook? Just not feeling it, but I do update my fanpage there with links, so fans who love facebook can find blog posts, etc. That's about all I use it for.

  22. I'm a reader & I have to agree with you about not having to blog or tweet if it doesn't work for you. I don't think you have to blog every day but I was just at someone's (not a Casababe) website and it hadn't been updated since September. It does a disservice to the author & their readers if the reader has to go somewhere other than the author site to get up to date information. Just my 2 cents as a reader.

  23. Great post, Danielle. As a debut author, I'm a little overwhelmed at the amount of work I'll have to do to promote this book. There are wonderful sites full of advice from other authors, but it's still difficult to know where to devote your time.

    I'm trying to set up book signings for my May release, and I'm on facebook and twitter. But sometimes I get caught in a nightmare of wondering: bookmarks, postcards, interviews, blogs, book signings, book clubs...which to do, or do them all? And in the next three months I have to promote book one, edit book two, and finish book three. I don't want to get so caught up that my writing suffers. You've been so helpful. I think I need another me :) or my own Danielle clone.

  24. Hi Danielle!
    Great suggestions as always. I just started on Twitter and have yet to really see much impact. I guess that's because right now, what I had for breakfast is about the only thing I have to tweet about!

    Thanks again for all you do for us!

  25. Virgina and Stephanie-thank you for stopping by!

    Tamara-I know I'm keeping you busy ;) But it sounds like you are keeping things under control and you have a plan in place to keep things balanced between writing and promoting!

    Carolyn-WOW! What a staggering number. Congrats to you! I know how hard you've worked on promoting your books with us, and I think the proof is in the pudding :) Can't wait to see what's next for you and your new series!

    Olivia-Thank you for all of your great insight and thoughts into promotion! You are a promoting machine and I can't wait for Rock Hard to get into stores in April.

    Stacie-I know what you mean about "stale" websites! Even with Facebook becoming a go-to reference to learn more for companies and authors alike, a consistent and up-to-date website will always be the center of finding out more info!

    Anita-You'll get through it! And your release will be spectacular. And as things continue to get closer and closer, you'll be able to weed out what will make the most sense for you and your books!

  26. Cheryl--Good! We can learn about twitter together :)

  27. Great post! I'm just a reader but I know some first time authors and they had some confussion and a lot of stress....I compare them to the more seasoned authors and find that the stress issues change but that new release stress seems to continue to exist for many :)

  28. Great post! Thanks :)

  29. As a new writer, I definitely feel the pressure to blog. Glad I'm not the only one!

  30. Since publishing my first book I had to learn a lot about social media and blogging (a verb I never used before Danielle introduced me to it!). I still haven't tried twitter - maybe I'll take the plunge this year. It has all been a huge learning experience for me and I appreciate Danielle being there to help!

  31. I have to admit that I very seldom look at author blogs -- why? There are so many of them that my whole day would be spent reading blogs. Sorry authors do not hate me!!! I do visit group author blogs. I may not leave a comment everyday but I do lurk. I do not twitter either!

    I'm a reader and I love my Sourcebook Authors.

  32. This was truly a very helpfull post thank you so much for sharing !