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Popular Publicity and Marketing Myths (+ a Giveaway, of course!)

by Danielle Jackson, Senior Publicist, Sourcebooks

Over the last few months, I’ve been invited to speak at various writers conferences—RT Booklovers Convention, Chicago-North’s Spring Fling, RWA National Conference, Evanston Writers Workshop—about publicity and marketing of books in today’s ever-changing publishing climate. It’s always hard for me to prepare for these things, because everyone involved is at a different stage in their publishing journey! But I have noticed some similar questions/ideas come up at almost every event, and I thought I’d share them here today.

1. I have to do all kinds of social media to be successful. I don’t believe this… with so many different ways to connect (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, Websites, Four Square, Apps, Reddit, Google+… among others), social media can become very overwhelming. My advice to authors is to find one or two that you like and can handle, and stick with those. Can you reach more people if you do more? Perhaps, but only if you keep it consistently updated and you make an effort to engage with your audience. You can link your accounts, so when one updates so does the other, but that can be tricky—especially on something like Twitter where you’re limited to a specific amount of characters. How do you decide what’s best for you? Try them out. Google how-to guides, look at what fellow authors are doing, explore! That’s the only way you’ll find what you’re comfortable with (not just me telling you to do something).  

ABOVE ALL—you should have a well-designed website that serves as a hub for all of your activity!

2. What’s the secret formula to making it big? Guess what? There isn’t one! Ask any bestseller out there and you’ll get a variety of answers, but a few things come up: hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, a GREAT book that you’re proud to share with the world.

Robyn Carr told us at the RWA National Conference Awards Luncheon that it took her 29 years before she hit it big. Twenty. Nine. Years. Think about that for a while.

3. So, you like, read all day, right? I wish. My answer to this question used to be, “I’m not an editor!” but then I learned about what editors do—they don’t read all day either. Do I love the fact that my job is always different, I get to work with a fabulous team of people, represent a great company and help out with fulfilling the dreams of people who go from aspiring to published? Yes, yes I do. And when I did get a few minutes to read through the first chapter of one of your books during work hours, that’s just an added bonus. Otherwise, I like, read all night.

4. Do I REALLY have to promote? Short answer: YES. At many other presentations (ones that I try to sneak into under the radar), I hear it iterated that publishers don’t do much to support authors, and they expect authors to do everything on their own. Sourcebooks is a little bit different—we have two puiblicists dedicated to promoting our romance novels, and we expect our authors to collaborate with us on getting the word out about their books. We can’t do everything—you can’t do everything… so let’s work together to do an awesome job for your book’s success.

5. I know I shouldn’t, but that negative review was just plain mean—I have to say something. NO, actually you don’t. And you definitely shouldn’t. There’s been a lot of controversy around the blogosphere, on various online retailer sites, and in the media about the author/reader/reviewer relationship. Authors behaving badly (or their friends… or significant others… or avid fans) does not make for good PR. The old adage that any PR is good PR only works when you let it happen that way. Stirring the pot or feeding the flame because of one person’s less than stellar review is NOT OK. Obviously you don’t have control over everything—which can be uncomfortable—but you do have control over yourself. Think before you hit sent/press save/upload a comment!

So there you have it! Some recurring topics of discussion that have come up in recent months. AUTHORS: What’s something you’ve heard and want to chat about in the comments today? READERS: what kind of interaction are you looking for from authors—great books first and foremost, yes, but how else do you want to connect with them?

GIVEAWAY: Answer my question and I’ll giveaway 2 fabulous Georgette Heyer surprise book bundle to random commenters. And for funsies—Sourcebooks authors, this one is open to you too :-) 1 bundle for an author, and 1 bundle for a reader.


  1. Danielle, fabulous post!

    I've worked with both Danielle and Beth in Publicity and they're both top-notch! I can attest that Sourcebooks supports their authors in publicity and marketing in ways other publishers don't (I've seen the difference in the support I receive vs. what some of my author friends at other publishers receive).

    One thing I've learned to do is ASK. If you don't, the answer will always be no. :)

    Also, collaboration amongst authors seems to be a growing phenomenon. Publishers are packaging e-novellas together and authors are establishing loyal reader groups (aka street teams). It's a great way to cross-promote and touch new readers. Also, connecting a bestselling author with a debut author is a wonderful way to introduce readers to new authors.

    So many possibilities! And I find them all fascinating and exciting. :)

  2. No matter what I’m reading, I look for well-developed, involving characters and a detailed, interesting story line. I think that curiosity and change and new experiences are intrinsic to an author’s continued enthusiasm for their work. If an author lost their “joie de vivre”–”joy of life/living”–then their work would suffer. Thankfully, my favorite authors (both old and new) have not lost their enthusiasm for life and love. Neither have I : ) If I like an author’s work, then I will follow them from genre to genre. I have been pleasantly surprised and found some new reading trails by following the leads of my favorite writers!

    Some of the most enjoyable and interesting aspects of blogging are the in-depth, thoughtful insights from book producers as well as book purchasers! It takes the combined efforts of a team of talented people to get the finished product to the marketplace, and that team has to dance as fast as they can to keep up with the ever-changing literary world. One of the nicest things that I have observed about authors is their friendship and support of other authors. Writers are booklovers and great fans of other authors! What a fabulous experience it would be for someone like me, a lifelong bookworm, to mix and mingle with book people from both the writing and reading worlds! I wish you lots of fun that you can write about and share with us : )

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  3. That 29 years thing blew me away too, Danielle. I've only been published for eight. Twenty-one to go...

    Thanks again for all you do for us. It is greatly appreciated!

  4. The other thing Robyn Carr often points out is that many of us are trying to break in/build our careers while we're working full time, raising kids, dealing with a spouse in the same overtaxed boat, while we're also hitting the gym regularly, looking after the Aged P's... and those years are hard. We need the writing then to keep us sane (and the reading!), but we need a good night's sleep too.

    I love the way some authors (Shana Galen, are you listening?) can use that day-to-day life stuff to bond with readers who are in the same boat.

  5. I drag out my snake oil wagon and speechify about how much Danielle and Beth do for the SB authors on a regular basis.
    I could add an Amen to Robin Carr's twenty nine years. I've been writing that long, selling fourteen years and had fifty books on the market before I made the best seller list. I credit Danielle's hard work in publicity for that milestone! Like Tracey mentioned, Sourcebooks supports their authors, and believe me this author appreciates it!

  6. One of my fans regularly updates me on Discover a New Love--your cover model is in a new video!

    I love my fans!!! And so I go check it out and sure enough, yum. So I spread the news, and everyone else is delighted to see the cover models playing around, talking, and posing for covers.

    I think sharing a little about ourselves as people helps, too. Yesterday, I wrote a humorous post about my Monday. Yes, it was Wednesday, but you can see I was in trouble already. I think that it's important to show we're only human! And that led into talking about Savage Hunger. There is really method to my madness...some of the times!

  7. I've been reading romances for the past 35 years. I have my favorite authors to go to but I love discovering "new" authors also. I am older than a lot of readers (51) but am on facebook, twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. I follow several authors on each form of media. For me, I enjoy the author's comments, news, pictures, etc. on Facebook the most. There seems to be more in depth info. there and I appreciate links to blogs, contests, other sites. I know twitter does that also but it is to choppy, and not visually interesting to me. I still check it though. I will admit that when I realized that assistants post for some authors instead of the author I did feel disappointed. I like Goodreads to keep up with author's titles. Thanks for even asking the readers for their opinion.

  8. Sarah Wendell of SBTB spoke at our chapter and said something that really resonated with me: how long do you go? ;> What she meant was that some social media platforms are good for writers who are spare with their words, and other platforms are better for writers who when they do social media have a lot to say and go long. Since getting this bit of advice, I find that I'm so much more comfortable as a blogger and yet my blog posts have become shorter! (Go figure.) She also referenced Twitter in such a way that I now think of it as the virtual giant cocktail party that never ends...and that too, has allowed me to use Twitter much more effectively as a way to connect with folks in the industry. [Drooling over the G.H. give away, btw. Now THAT is an effective marketing strategy. :) ]

  9. From a reader's standpoint, I totally enjoy seeing my favorite authors posting on facebook and their blogs. I like being able to tell them how much I loved their book. In some instances, I've had questions, and many have been gracious enough to answer. If I were an author, I personally think I would hate having to do this, but as a reader, I love it. Bonnie (bonnie blue at wowway dot com)

  10. Yes, Grace, I'm listening. I thought you were going to tell me to get more sleep :-)

    And what Grace said is a good point. Who are my readers? Mostly women who are moms, sisters, wives, etc. Let's talk about all that we have in common and not only about my book. Plus, I seem to need a lot of advice!

  11. lol Kathy thinks she's old at 51...
    I really like a little bit of everything. I want to hear about what is happening in an author's life, the back stories, what's coming next, etc. My favorite blogs are the ones where there is communication between the author and the readers. After all, authors are people too :)

  12. I enjoy learning about the stories behind the stories, how they came to be or what inspired them. It is also fun for me in series situations to hear/read the author's take on their characters favorite recipes...I love to cook and enjoy tying a dish to a book.

    little lamb lst @ yahoo dot com

  13. I like being able to get to know and interact with authors. I like when there is communication between authors and readers. I love being able to reach out to an author whose book I've enjoyed and having them respond back.

  14. I like to connect with them on blogs and find out more about their current and upcoming books.


  15. WOW everyone--what great comments!

    Tracey-thanks for your kind words. Love your ideas about collaborating with other authors.

    Virginia-what a great reader response. Your comment on authors having their own joie de vivre and it translating into their work is really interesting.

    Cheryl-you'll get there well before 21!

    Grace-writing to keep you sane among all the other "stuff"; I love it!

    Carolyn-I love it when you talk country to me :) And I couldn't have promoted your books without all of your hard work. Both writing an awesome book and all the self-promotion you do.

    Terry-the new DANL video is FAB!

    Kathy-You are very welcome. Discoverability seems to be a big draw for romance readers in particular, and I think that's where all of the various social media comes in. Thanks for your comment!

    Madeline-Sarah's comparisons are spot on! I will have to remember them the next time I see her. I'm glad her advice helped you out!

    Bonnie-I think authors hearing how much you appreciate their comments make promotion all the easier :)

    Shana-I agree with Grace; you do a great job in the way you connect with readers. Your Facebook and Pinterest accounts are the top ones I suggest for other authors to take a look at for an example for great, consistently updated content.

    Catslady-I agree with you, too! I think interaction is awesome.

    Lil-I LOVE recipes, too! Such a fun little bonus when books have them, or authors share them online.

    bn100-thanks for stopping by!

  16. I love seeing authors on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads being themselves. Hearing what they're interested in, talking about their books, what they've read lately, that sort of thing.

  17. As of right now I like following authors through Facebook, blogs and e-newsletters. I also like Goodreads but I don't go on there as much. Too many books for me to Oooh and Ahhhh over on that site.

  18. What's your best piece of marketing advice for new authors?

  19. Barbara-thank you for stopping by!

    Alyn-I know what you mean about Goodreads! Whenever I go on, I always end up adding more books to my reading list.

    Margay-have a website that acts as a central location for all of your other things (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and also information about your books, news items, etc. It is the one thing I advise authors to spend money on!

  20. Thanks again to everyone who commented! Our winners are:

    Author-Carolyn Brown
    Reader-Virginia C

    I'll be emailing you both shortly.

    Have a great weekend,

  21. Thank you, Danielle, for such a very nice surprise!

    Congrats, Miss Carolyn : )


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