Thursday, May 10, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow? + Giveaway!

by Danielle Jackson

I love gardens—especially the kind that you have to work at for years and finally one day, you look out and see a gorgeous array of flora and fauna. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly), growing a garden reminds me of building an author’s career—because those “silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row” play a big part in the complete picture!

Silver Bells
Part of my job is to get reviews for our romance novels. Whether they come from trade magazines like Publishers Weekly, RT Book Reviews or book bloggers, the recognition of your book means a lot. What do I use reviews for? Following up with media contacts, to make sure they know about the praise and accolades your book is receiving, adding reviews to press release and media pitches to let people know what everyone is thinks, and helping our content delivery department create pages and pages of praise in the front of your books! And there’s nothing more I love than sending you guys links to a bunch of great reviews of your books throughout your publication months. And not to worry, I pluck out the weeds before I send them over!

Cockle Shells
Some people say that “cockle shells” used to actually say cuckold in the old version of the “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” nursery rhyme, because Queen Mary’s husband was unfaithful. While this has nothing to do the happy endings of romance novels, I think it can be twisted into paying attention to what’s going on around you—have you seen a title similar to yours covered somewhere? Or perhaps you saw a great idea for a blog post, or fun blog tour idea. Promotion can be a daunting task, but it can also be a fun task, and a great way to reach new readers, and continue to connect with readers who already like your books. Keeping an eye on what else is going on in the industry makes a huge difference in what your career looks like. RWA is a perfect place to learn about new ideas and discuss everything from research to marketing. You might look like the other flowers in your batch, but we want to make sure your rise above the rest!

Pretty Maids
Social media is a HUGE part of being an author these days. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Pinterest, etc… there is so much to choose from and it can be overwhelming. But I think one thing that makes this easier is friends—be it other authors or people who you know from the “real world,” actual friends can make it easier to make online friends. There are so many authors out there willing to help out other friends (just look at this group blog)! If you have something you want to drum up some buzz on Twitter, don’t be afraid to send a quick email to a few contacts, asking them directly to re-tweet. Or if you have a contest, ask someone to post about it on Facebook, or as a guest blog. And ALWAYS return the favor when your friends need some help, too. With enough pretty maids all in a row, you can go viral!

Authors-What have you done lately that you’ve seen helps with building your career?
Readers-What do you like to see from authors when it comes to connecting with readers?
I have 2 fun little books to giveaway in honor of the coming summer: Girls Night Cocktails and The Ultimate Little Frozen Drinks Book. Leave a comment below and you could win one of these titles! (U.S. and Canada addresses only, please leave an email address so I can contact you. Winners will be chosen on Monday, 5/14).


  1. Danielle, what a fun post! I had two unique opportunities to connect with readers in the last couple months. 1) DreamOnUs - The online social media organization helps author promote their books through a SM sharing/giveaway mechanism. Participants shared information about my book 211 times and I had a total reach of 69,405 people. That's a lot of eyes on my book.

    2) Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon - I was invited to be a guest author at the event. The ladies at my table were part of a book club and they promised to make my book their next read. They encouraged me to setup a Book Club page on my website, so I did. Last night, I received a picture of the group holding A Lady's Revenge! Can't wait to add the pic to my BC page.

  2. LOVED your pictures, Danielle! But then I always love them! Tracey, both of those are super ideas! I'll have to check on doing that.

    I try millions of things, but the main thing is that it's got to be fun. I tried Triberr (sp?), but it's just retweeting tons of tweets and the problem was that I felt it would cause my twitter followers to get annoyed because I was retweeting all these tweets. And it was very time consuming.

    Consistency helps. Regularly sending out a newsletter each week. I give a free read and have nearly 1,000 readers. Blogging every day, even though I work because I have a lot of fans who enjoy the pictures and goofy comments I share and look forward to my daily posts. (416 views yesterday on my main blog when in the beginning, I might have had 1 or 2.) Post about my blog on Facebook and Twitter every day. (Again, consistency.) Pinterest-- I LOVE it! It's a way to share interests in a pictorial way and I love seeing what others are sharing too. Which again is important--if you promo in some format or another, do it because you LOVE it. Readers can tell! :)

    Thanks again, Danielle! Excellent post!

  3. Oh, and!!! When it comes to promo, I love it! I write for chapter newsletters too! My articles get spread around to all kinds of other RWA chapters, so it's fun and free and it helps to help other writers too!

  4. Lovely post, Danielle! So far, persistence and diversity seem to be the key for me. Still not sure about social media, although it couldn't hurt. I was recently contacted about starting a street team, which may prove helpful.

  5. I helped organize my RWA chapter's retreat, mostly because I am a hermit and know nobody (and part of my loves it that way, alas). In the course of my duties, I traded blog invites with other authors, got a lot of good ideas for my own blog posts, and--this is important to me--made myself available to writers not yet published as sounding board and beta reader.
    I also heard Robyn Carr's editor remind us: You sell your book one copy at a time, which I took as an admonition to really emphasize all those friendly, weak link relationships that can blossom into robust PR.

  6. As a reader, I think Grace Burrowes does a great job connecting to her "followers." She takes the time to respond personally to many of the comments on her blog post - which really inspires a reader to keep coming back to her blog and see what she has to say! I also like that she keeps the blog portion of her website free from promotional stuff...she talks about her writing process, personal experiences, likes and's interesting. Letting us know about book releases and accolades is fine, ans she has that on the main page of her site, but I really like that her "blog" stays clear of all that. Same with her FB page - she does a good job balancing updates between marketing and more personal "fun" stuff.
    Oh...and she also hosts some AMAZING contests ;)

  7. For me, it's consistency. I have a new post on Facebook every day. I am on Twitter every day. It takes time, but I'm not just popping my head up when I have a release. i try to make sure readers keep me in mind all through the year. It helps that I really love interacting with my readers too.

  8. Oh, and I have to agree with Terry that Pinterest has surprised me as a promotion tool. I've started using it more.

  9. What a great post! I try to never say no to any opportunity that knocks on my door when it concerns promotion, be it speaking at a library author day or whipping up a blog or answering fan mail. But on a very small personal level, I carry a few books when Husband and I travel. It's amazing how many hotel clerks read romance and LOVE having a free book, promotional pen and a business card with my website and email address tucked in for a bookmark! And when we stop if there is a B&N, Hastings or bookstore in the area, I visit them and sign whatever stock they have. It's a great way to make new friends and talk to book sellers.
    Loving all y'all's ideas. As we say in this part of the country, "You done good with this one, Danielle."

  10. Very informative post. I think authors interacting with readers on blogs help, especially if readers have never heard of the author or the book before.


  11. Tracey-Awesome ideas. I swear you don't sleep because you are always doing something with your books :)

    Terry-I agree about consistency! People, no matter how much they say they don't like them, actually get used to schedules. Again, you're an author who I think doesn't sleep!

    Cheryl-I've heard good things about street teams! I don't know much about them, but I know our very own Sara Humphreys has started one.

    Grace-first, CONGRATS on USA TODAY :) Second, LOVE everything about RWA. And Robyn Carr's editor sounds like a very smart lady.

    Drama Mama-Thank you for your insight on the reader experience!

    Shana-I love your Facebook posts-I check them almost everyday. Baby Galen cracks me up! And you retweet like nobodies business. At least my tweets, anyway ;)

    Carolyn-I've tried to think of some sort of Texas Slang to say backatcha, but I'm at a loss. And you bring up a great point about keeping in contact with physical book stores, too. Social Media and web promotions are awesome and necessary, but book stores LOVE hearing from authors!

  12. The winners of our two drink books are The Original Drama Mama and bn100. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment!