Inside A Grass Roots Marketing Campaign with Jeannie Lin

21 Oct


I hesitate to write this post.

I started to write up a bunch of disclaimers: This is my first time, I have no marketing background, there are no sales numbers to correlate with these largely anecdotal findings….

Soon the disclaimers started to outweigh the rest of the post. So I guess I should say, these are just my reflections on what seemed to work and what I might do differently the next time around. I’m doing it to reflect, share info, and hopefully spark some discussion around this nebulous arena we call marketing. This post is in no way suggesting how another newbie author should market. No two marketing campaigns should be alike. 

I am not saying that in a wishy-washy, it depends, blah blah blah, sort of manner. Bria knows I hate that. I’m saying, NO TWO MARKETING CAMPAIGNS SHOULD BE ALIKE. Otherwise, why do people pay publicists and marketing firms?

Oh there’s me making disclaimers again. Basically what I’m trying to say is I’m afraid. I’m afraid people will think I know something or somehow had a huge hand in the success that Butterfly Swords has had in getting buzz on the Internet.  Buzz, by the way, not sales. That’s another thing. I have an entirely different opinion on sales, which I won’t go into here. J

I’m afraid that people will think I’m a know it all or that I’ve been manipulative to readers with marketing strategy.  I’m also afraid talking about the nuts and bolts of marketing will ruin the fantasy. Writing is a business, and I know it. The way I envision my business team (which consists of Jeannie and Jeannie),  is that cold and analytical Marketing Jeannie sits in the basement and studies and comes up with strategies. Writer Jeannie, the friendly, imaginative one, is the persona who actually gets to go out and Twitter and blog and interact with people. Writer Jeannie feels emotional about Butterfly Swords. Writer Jeannie frets over bad reviews and gushes about geeky trivia. She worries about how to write her next story and how to add lushness and sexual tension without getting too purple-prosy.

Cold-hearted Marketing Jeannie cares about the book too. She just tries to separate out the promotion of the book from the writing/emotional ownership of the piece. She’s the business manager. She gives writer Jeannie marching orders.  She is never, NEVER allowed to blog or tweet or interact with readers at signings. She’s paranoid and fretful and perpetually trying to gather data, and she KNOWS these are not traits that sell books.

Writer Jeannie is writing this rambling post which the business team has now decided will be a separate intro, if Bria will post it that way. Marketing Jeannie will be allowed to post once, and once only, because both Jeannies wish someone had told them all this when they started.

Marketing Jeannie is kind of strict and academic. She’s all about business. Please don’t hate her.

(Inserted by Friend Bria: This rocks and is brilliant. All Jeannies need a big high-five)

Inside a Grass Roots Marketing Campaign

Marketing hat on.

I could write a dissertation on my thoughts on marketing and justifications for why I did what I did. But that would get boring for everyone but me very quickly. So I’m going to limit it to the key high points that worked and what I’d rethink if I could do it again.

Two biggest boosts:

1)      The cover. Oh my God, the cover. Not only is it red and eye-catching, it’s exciting and conversation worthy. And it looks like no other romance out there right now. “You’re the one with the beautiful cover,” people say when they meet me. It’s SO good for crossover (which is one of my marketing strategies). Men will read a book with a cover like that. Fantasy/paranormal readers will read it. Asian fiction readers will read it.

It’s an element that I had no control over, other than that this was new for Harlequin and my editor asked for some suggestions and pictures that inspired me. This picture has been my avatar for several years and is the one I sent them.  Other than that, I prayed.

 2)      ARC available through NetGalley. Bound galleys are not printed up for category romances. It’s just not profitable, given the business model. So I was trying to get ARCs to reviewers, some of whom were actually coming to me to request it, but I didn’t have an electronic or paper arc. The author copies wouldn’t be available until the release date was almost here. Being a newbie, I asked my editor what I was supposed to do to get review copies out because I know piracy is an issue. In a stroke of luck, my editor decided to put the ARC on NetGalley due to demand. And because it was on NetGalley, more people requested and reviewed Butterfly Swords. It was a feedback loop. By October, Butterfly Swords had moved up to being the top requested galley from Harlequin. (Disclaimer: they do remove older galleys after release date.)

Those two things helped boost the image and availability of Butterfly Swords more than anything I could have ever done myself. I think they both came from in-house support by my editor. Both were completely out of my hands.  

Which leads to my next part. Sometimes you have to ride the wave. Search for the natural marketing messages surrounding the release. Find out what ripples your book may be causing and amplify it if you can. Butterfly Swords has a limited shelf life. It’s only out for one month in book stores. It doesn’t get the larger print run or the in-house marketing push that single-titles get.

So here’s the grass roots part of marketing BUTTERFLY SWORDS:

1)     Market it like a big book.

I only decided to do this because I felt there were some elements about the book that gave it a BIG BOOK feel. I’m not talking about the writing here. I’m talking about marketing elements. It had some buzz for winning the Golden Heart. It had buzz for being a hard sell. It had buzz for being an Asian historical. The story itself is high concept. It sounds like an epic adventure.

Big books with house backing sell better. Readers hear more about them. People become curious and the momentum builds. I had a little book that I wanted to be treated like a big book. I looked at how HQN was marketing some of their big books. This summer, HQN was pushing Julie Kagawa and there was an internet page they put up to showcase her Iron Fey series. When I enlisted a web designer to make a showcase page for Butterfly Swords, I literally told her, “Make it look like this:” . I wanted visitors to the page to perhaps believe that I had just as much backing behind me as someone like Kagawa. Did it work? I don’t know:

I didn’t have a lot of money for ads. I couldn’t afford print and couldn’t do much more online, so I noticed where big name, but relatively new, historical authors like Sherry Thomas, Tessa Dare, and Jennifer Haymore advertised. I decided to  buy ads at All About Romance because there’s a reader community there that’s not filled with writers and aspiring writers. They’re people who just love books. I also chose them because I had been mentioned on their forum two times on threads prior to the marketing campaign. Since the marketing campaign, I’ve been mentioned two more times in reader threads. These were spontaneous. They were not put up by me or friends. Maybe a couple of mentions is no big deal, but the books that get noticed on there are the big publisher backed books. The books headed for bestseller lists or books by long established writers.

2)     Blog Tours

I enlisted a publicity admin assistant (not a publicist, btw) to help me organize blog tours for The Taming of Mei Lin which released in September and Butterfly Swords for October. We were both pretty new at this. I was booked for over 40 interviews and guest blogs. Did traffic increase to my site? Yes. Did everyone seem to know about the book? Yes.  A lot of the guest blogs catered to the same audience in the book blog world, but repetition is not a bad thing in advertising.

Would I do it again? I’d probably scale down considerably. We got a lot of requests and invitations after the initial tour was set and I was a paranoid newbie, so I didn’t turn down anything. I’m very grateful we had so much interest, but the blogs did take a lot of effort. If I could do it again, I’d scale it back down to no more than two appearances a week. More than that and you can’t promote each event as efficiently. They start to collide with one another. The blogosphere gets saturated. In the future, I’d target sites with a larger following and also go cross-genre a little better.

3)     Cross-genre marketing

I only attempted this because I sensed the potential within the storyline. You need to listen to what phrases are being echoed over and over. One of the echo phrases was “I normally don’t read romance, but…” I was hearing this before release and I keep on hearing it now. I knew that Asian historicals were risky in romance. So this would seem to dictate that I had to try to get a non-romance readership or Butterfly Swords would be dead in the water. 

I looked at markets that already existed: RPG gamers, Asian historical fiction, wuxia, martial arts and sword fighting fans. I believe there was crossover potential for paranormal and fantasy readers. Indeed, a bookseller told me she read the book and is pushing it to her paranormal and urban fantasy readers because of the action scenes. 

Not all those markets are as book-bloggy as romance so I had to reach out and find how to reach those markets and members within each community. I did a Warrior Women series on my blog where I featured a stunt woman, a martial artist, and a swords practitioner. I had my mom send the book to several Vietnamese newspapers. I reached out to the DragonCon Silk Road track since they’re enthusiasts of Asian culture and Asian fantasy.

I don’t know the effects of these efforts yet. In retrospect, I don’t feel like I hit these cross-over markets well enough. I’ve only recently targeted gaming and wuxia sites for reviews and the book is almost out of stores already. Thank goodness for online ordering and ebooks!

4)     Social Media

These answers apply specifically to me and my particular style of interaction online as well as my marketing strategy. So don’t take this as general advice for everyone. Someone’s going to look at this and tell me they reach thousands of readers through Facebook and none through Twitter. That wasn’t going to happen with my campaign and my level on online activity. No two marketing strategies should be alike, right?

For each avenue, I put down how much effort I put into it along with my suggestions about it.

Own personal website:  Moderate. Keep it updated. People visiting your website are a little interested in you, which is good. Have stuff there to give them what they want to know, but don’t spend a lot of time trying to get followers there.  Most people on the internet don’t have time to avidly follow their favorite authors. Use it as a central station for promotions and updates and also to have a repository of info for your marketing allies. Bloggers, journalists, and interviewers very often go to my webpage to find info to put in their blogs and articles. Have good content for them to grab. Also link your blog up to Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads so they’ll automatically update.

Facebook: Minimal. A presence is good and some people use it as their preferred method of communication. I find it good to keep it updated, but I don’t spend a lot of time interacting there. As a result, my network there only consists of a closer inner circle and is pretty small.

Twitter: Moderate. I spend a lot of time on there because personally I like it. But that’s time suck stuff. You do have to invest some time to get the hang of it and garner enough friendlies to help you signal boost. This is authentic interaction you need to do, so if it feels weird and sucks, don’t do it or find another way. The bang for your buck Is actually pretty good because the nature of Twitter allows you to reach people outside your comfortable little circle. One of my marketing strategies was to hit international readers. I think Twitter has helped that more than any other social media.

Goodreads: GOODREADS IS FRICKIN AWESOME!!!  But you do not need to spend your time networking on there to get some leverage. Using the Giveaways will give you some exposure and the effort is minimal. There’s enough of an organic and avid reader base that if you can get traction in other media, you’ll start to see people marking your book to-read on Goodreads and reviewing it. Goodreads users simply LIKE being there. I’m a low-end member. I track my books and sometimes do little reviews. I don’t have much of a friend base and now I’m kind of afraid to. I kind of prefer to use Goodreads to gauge how much notice the book is getting “naturally” from my other methods and I don’t want to mess with that. BEST RETURN ON TIME INVESTMENT—because I’ve pretty much stayed away from interacting on Goodreads, but have still seen some interest based on reviews and giveaways on Goodreads.

Followers and Friends: I am a moderate user on all these media. I don’t expend much effort trolling for followers. Not that there’s a problem with that! I just don’t think I would be good at managing it. Most of the growth has been organic. The only time I’ve done a promotion to get followers is to entice people to subscribe to my newsletter, which is a mechanism for me pushing data out to interested users, not an interactive space. I’ve only done that lightly as it is.

Frankly, I don’t want people following me who are not in some way interested. I’m afraid of boring them. I’m afraid of being overly ignored. I know this is contrary to the “cast a wide net” mentality, but I’d rather have a small number of interested followers than a large number of people who could care less. It’s just my natural comfort zone. This is also one of my marketing strategies. I want depth versus breadth in the reader base. I think Butterfly Swords with its “geek factor” supports this type of small, but loyal following.

5)      Evangelists

People willing to hawk Butterfly Swords on street corners and blog corners. Once again, I have absolutely no control over this. I have more than a couple evangelists who’ve been willing to go to bat for Butterfly Swords. I’m not naming names, because I know I’ll miss some of them. Some are friends and I’ve done the same for them. Many are not. They just saw something in Butterfly Swords that made them want to take it up and support it. Did the promotional push have anything to do with it? Was it a timing thing? Am I just that charming of a person? (tongue firmly in cheek) Or did they read the book and just plain like it? I think about these things a lot, and I just don’t know.

So there’s the marketing story of Butterfly Swords, in a nutshell…and remember this is Marketing Jeannie speaking, so along with being paranoid and calculating, she is also all about SELLING THIS BOOK:

I think the real reason it worked is because Butterfly Swords has some killer marketing messages. On the surface, it’s got many crossover elements that can reach into different genres. The emotional message is compelling. It’s an underdog and a winner, all at once. It took some risks to bring it to market and that’s just plain exciting. On top of all that, it looks GOOD.  The book cover and the marketing campaign are sexy and red and euphoric.

And it’s in bookstores for a limited time only.
Don’t wait. November is too late!
(Sorry, I had to try J)

 First I want to say thanks to Jeannie for one of the best posts ever written in history! THANKS!

And now, I’m sure you want a copy of Butterfly Swords for yourself. I personally guarantee you’ll love it! And to prove that, I’m giving another copy away this week. To win, we’ll stick with the marketing theme:

What’s the most interesting/best/most memorable way you’ve seen a book marketed? Did you buy it? If you did, did it live up to the hype? Let me know and I’ll be picking a random winner on Friday 🙂

55 Responses to “Inside A Grass Roots Marketing Campaign with Jeannie Lin”

  1. Linda G. October 21, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Fantastic post! Thanks, Jeannie. If/when my agent sells my book(s), I’m definitely going to remember your tips.

  2. briaq October 21, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    I KNOW! I “liked” my own blog so I can find it again 🙂

  3. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Yeah, apparently what I was supposed to send was a blog on worldbuilding and the footbinding dilemma. Instead I sent this monster about promotion. I’d really like to know what other approach authors have taken. It takes away the magic to open up the hood like this, but it would really help us newbies out. Especially since everyone is pushing that authors in the future will need to do self-promotion more and more.

  4. briaq October 21, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Please, I wouldn’t give up this post if you tried to wrestle it from my hands!

    I also remember your set up at RWA Nationals – it was professional and eye-catching!

  5. Kat Cantrell October 21, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Hi Jeannie, I love this post because I’ve been stalking you and taking notes on what you did to promote so I could replicate it when my book comes out (and erm, I sell). So thanks for putting it all in one neat little spot for me!

    I’m really not trying to kiss up or anything, but I bought *your* book because of the marketing campaign. I saw so many mentions of it – not by you – that I HAD to read it. I really wanted the butterfly swords too, and thought that was a unique promotion. I also liked the idea of the charms you had made.

    If I have to pick someone other than you, I’d say Louisa Edwards does a really good job of getting her name out there and using effective promotional strategies like giveaways. I bought her book too… 🙂

  6. December October 21, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    The only thing specifically that makes me pick up a book, besides already liking the author, is a glowing recommendation from an online reviewer.
    If I happen to see one particular book reviewed over and over online, and get excellent reviews by bloggers I’ve watched for months or years? I know I’ll enjoy it.

  7. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    I have gotten more than one comment about the setup at RWA. I can also say that it was not accidental. 🙂 I formulated some strategies around that too, if you want to hear them…

  8. briaq October 21, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Katrina – for people that don’t follow Louisa (shame on you) tell us what she’s done that you liked?

    December – do you have a couple favorite reviewers?

  9. Kat Cantrell October 21, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    …and I forgot my question…Jeannie, do you think there is such a thing as overpromotion? Like if you do too much, there’s a saturation point and potential buyers are turned off?

  10. briaq October 21, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Of course we want to hear them Jeannie 🙂

  11. briaq October 21, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Great point Kat – I do worry about that. It feels like a lot of marketing is “who picks up the banner” in some ways. What if no one feels the need to talk about my book? Right?

  12. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    @Kat – I love that you’re studying the business side of writing too. I started doing that when I felt “close”. Louisa Edwards is one of the authors I watched very closely. The one thing Louisa does and I think everyone should do, is to put out your own authentic self when promoting. The Jeannie you see (not me, the writer Jeannie) is really Jeannie, but a little more polished. And it happens to be aligned with the marketing campaign. I believe that Louisa is authentically a foodie and excited about the themes of her book. She geeks out about Eric Ripert (who wouldn’t?) and Top Chef. I happen to be a foodie too which is why I started paying attention before her books even came out.

    In the new age of marketing the author and the book, you want to align yourself as much as possible. I kept on thinking, I am my #1 fan. (cause we write the books we want to read, right?) What would make me excited beyond belief? I want swords. I want the author’s notes. I love Tang Dynasty clothing. Fans of the Asian wuxia genre are VERY visual. Everything had to look good…cinematic preferably. (Jax from Jaxadora Designs said those same words when she designed my postcards and bookmarks) Oh yeah…and I want more books. 🙂

  13. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    @Kat – Good question. I think the only danger of overpromotion is did you spend too much time and money on areas that didn’t matter. Did I do this? Yes. I’m a squeaky newbie. 🙂

    Now, is overpromotion bad in terms of saturation? I don’t think so. Did this happen so Butterfly Swords? Yes. At some point, people are not excited about your blogs and giveaways anymore. Maybe because they already had the book. But is this bad? No. It doesn’t mean stop. Authors seems to want fans to continually show up and comment…this isn’t necessary. If the fans know, you already have a win. If the “maybes” keep hearing your name, one instance may finally trigger a buy. Look at how often they play commercials. Do we know about McDonald’s already? Yes. We pretty much ignore the commercials. But we still see that Big Mac and those arches and keep on thinking of them. Don’t think of direct behavior – commenting, auto-buying — as the only measures of the success of your promotion. A lot of advertising counts on the incubation effect. I kept on hearing Maria Snyder over and over and it was over a year before I bought Poison Study. Though every so often, I would think of it. And when she was guesting at Romance Divas, I finally bought. A lot of the promotion I did this year, I hope will carry over when next book releases….and the next, if the book world will allow it. 🙂

  14. Stephanie Draven October 21, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    So so much I want to add here, but only have time to make this one observation. My next blog tour will be have fewer smaller sites on it, but I will also keep in mind that some of the big sites I used this time were not worth the time and hassle per # of eyes on the page–people only interested in non-book prizes, not you as an author. Some of the smaller sites, also turned out to have a very engaged readership that glommed onto me for the right reasons.

    Another thought. Bookstore appearances, while important to build rapport with booksellers and local customers, have a limited number of eyes. So must be coupled with an internet presence so as to reach a larger number of folks with fewer resources.

  15. Stephanie Draven October 21, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Oh, also, do not enter me in the contest. Already have Butterfly Swords. Love it. Hug it all the time. Brag about it to my friends like I wrote it myself.

  16. Laurie London October 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    LOL Jeannie, I remember you tweeting about writing a blog post that was supposed to be about footbinding but wasn’t. This must be it.

    Such great information! Thanks so much for sharing. I’d love to hear what set-up you did for RWA since I didn’t attend the last one. I do remember the buzz when you won the Golden Heart and how awesome it was that Harlequin was taking a chance on an Asian historical.

    And I must say, your cover is so eye-catching, beautiful, and unusual that it’s hard to walk past it in the bookstores and NOT look at it (even though I own it). It’s a magnet for my eyeballs.

  17. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    @stephanie – Great observations about the blog tour. Also I didn’t touch on bookstore appearances. They were very costly for me so I only did local ones. Plus as a category author, you’re only in stores for one month. After that, I heard it’s hard to get booksellers to be willing to stock your book for a signing. I don’t know much about it. I never signed at a store without my bookselling Godmother, Wendy, holding my hand.

    I really need to know more about booksignings! I just did them because it was my indulgence to enjoy and bask in the glow of authordom in the wake of my debut.

  18. briaq October 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Nice Jeannie – I think we also sometimes confuse “this person is really annoying” with “oversaturation”

    Stephanie – got it, not entered 😉 I’d love to hear more of your thougths if you get a chance (no pressure, and not a beg, just if you’re around)

  19. briaq October 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Laurie – It really is a stunning cover. Not just the color, it’s masterpieceiful 😉

  20. Jami Gold October 21, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Great article, Jeannie! I first heard of you from Twitter (the video you did about getting ready for National, I think?) and then I attended your Hard Sell workshop. I thought you did a great job with that – how you gave solid information and recommendations for other hard sell books to check out, yet also gave tantalizing tidbits about your story. That alone moved me from “oh, that sounds intriguing” to “oh, I need to get this…for, uh, research, yeah, that’s it.” 🙂

    I like how you were approachable at RWA, I think I complimented you on your GH dress. 🙂 So yes, all the marketing stuff helped, and I’m definitely a pay-attention-to-the-buzz and need to hear a message several times kind of person, but for me, a great deal came down to *you*. 🙂

  21. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    @Jami – Thanks for that! I do love to teach which is why it’s been natural for me to hit the workshop circuit early. (see previous note about being your authentic self). We definitely need to present ourselves well. Authors are more and more being noted for their online and in person personas. In the digital age, people feel closer connected to people they interact with online. Any face time is special. I’m not just talking about writing here, I’m talking about in general with the business world. A face to face is an opportunity. A prime opportunity. (My day job is in the corporate technical world) The GH dress was both a dress I loved that I don’t get to wear enough, but there was also some image involved with that. (This is why we don’t let Marketing Jeannie out of the box) The RITA awards are like the academy awards of the romance world. I had an opportunity to go onstage and wanted to both feel comfortable and market my books in a small way if I could. Some authors have swan hats — I can’t carry that off, but luckily I fit into my old cheongsam. And it reminds ppl in a small way, hey, it’s that girl that writes Chinese historicals. When does that book come out…

    @Laurie – The RWA display was pretty simple. The lovely cover does most of the work. But I did start looking over what other authors were doing at conferences and I noticed that the authors getting noticed had a stand up display. Mostly everything else is lying flat. So I had one of those plastic displays with an enlarged print out of my postcard. Plus I put the excerpt booklets in a basket so you could see the cover. Simple, but made it stand out. Someone actually put a picture of it on their blog, but I couldn’t find it.

  22. Barb Bettis October 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Jeannie, what a super article! It’s so great to have someone actually list techniques and say analyze different alternatives. I especially liked your opinion on blog tours and saturation of giveaways. I discovered places I hadn’t known about, too. I am the world’s worst/shyest about self-promotion, so this is extremely helpful. So if (when:0) I need to do marketing, I’ll refer to your experience.

    And no need to enter my name in the drawing since I already have the book.


  23. briaq October 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Oh, and Jami, Jeannie looked AMAZING in both her historical costume and her RITA awards dress. Very lovely, very classy, very professional 🙂

  24. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Oh, I saw this question that I missed:
    “Great point Kat – I do worry about that. It feels like a lot of marketing is “who picks up the banner” in some ways. What if no one feels the need to talk about my book? Right?”

    I have no idea of the answer. I don’t think anyone does. It’s the voodoo that marketers and publicists are always trying to capture. All I can do is reflect back on why people wanted to pick up the Butterfly Swords banner. I think truly it was two parts: that it stood out as unique and there was a stronger universal message behind it. I always told my team that we’re not selling technical support–we’re selling confidence and comfort. When you sell a book, you don’t sell its content. You sell what the book represents. Is it a book that’s going to renew your faith in love? Is it going to make you cooler if you read this book? (Huge for YA right?) The more emotional the message is and the more it ties to our base desires as humans, the more it will be picked up.

    In this respect, Butterfly Swords was marketing gold. (I’m delusional, btw. All marketing folk should be this delusional about their product. The rest of the publishing industry doesn’t agree with me here.) The messages go much deeper than a book about a Chinese princess falling in love with a western swordsman. How many people have told me they looked at the cover and thought: finally a heroine that looks like me? Identity. That’s power. How many people have said, maybe publishers will start considering other hard sells? That ties into people’s dreams. Not just for writers. Everyone wants to see an underdog succeed because it tells them, all things are possible. That’s power.

    I didn’t create these messages, but I’m very aware of them. Find your power messages and amplify them. They cannot be forced. They have to convincingly be apart of the book. This is what will make people pick up the banner. I just got lucky.

    P.S. I taught a class on technology and media literacy. In it, I had students analyze advertisements and tell me what the “real” message was. This is where a lot of this comes from. So I actually thought about this a lot before I was ever selling a book.

  25. Jami Gold October 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Hi Bria,

    Yep, I only saw her historical costume in pictures, as I think that workshop was going on at the same time as QueryFest(?). Her costume was the one I was most interested in seeing. When I saw Jeannie in the hallway before the awards, she seemed nervous and I wanted to offer her a hug, but that seemed too much. 🙂

  26. Kat Cantrell October 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Me again…

    Jeannie took the words out of my mouth about Louisa – I love that she clearly enjoys food and knows a lot about it. That carries over into her website, her promos, and her appearances. It’s the whole package, just like Jeannie’s dress at Nationals.

    I thought of one other thing I’ve really liked recently. Sarah MacLean’s doing “ten’ lists on her blog. It’s a nice tie in to her new book which has ten in the title, and it’s a wonderful cross-promo opportunity for other authors. I bought Nine Rules and I’ll buy Ten Ways, but not just because of the blog. I like her writing voice/style and her best marketing strategy(for me) is just writing good books.

  27. dyromance October 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Great post! I had to add a link to my post on Zoe Archer’s discussion on a similar topic. Such great advice from two great new writers! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  28. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    @dyromance Re: Zoe Archer Ooh…link please?

  29. Jami Gold October 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Yes, Jeannie, I definitely agree with you about the persona aspect. I can’t tell you how many people remember me from RWA just because I have a blue streak in my hair. That little bit of edginess mixes with the rest of my professional appearance in a way that makes an impression. And it goes with the impression I want for my stories. Well-written, but edgy.

    I think your dress fit your image/persona perfectly. If you can establish yourself as the top-of-mind example for a certain type of story, then your persona feeds into your brand, which can feed into sales (hopefully). Just like how authors are told to establish themselves before spreading out too thin genre-wise, I think their persona can help solidify that brand in readers’ memory.

  30. briaq October 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Definitely add Zoe’s info here – I’d love to link over to her.

    Absolutely on the persona… I think a person’s writing persona and her every day life persona should be two sides of the same coin. Just like any time you go to work 🙂

  31. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    @bria – Ooh, I liked the analogy to “any time you go to work”. I’ve been wrestling with the moral dilemma of the professional Jeannie I’m presenting to everyone, yet trying to say that this is still really me. Moral dilemma…banished.

  32. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    @Jami – I like the blue streak example. You don’t have to wear a swan hat to be different. 🙂

    And always, it’s not just being out to get attention. It helps if it all organically folds into what you write and who you are.

    @Barb – I thought I hated marketing too. And believe it or not, I’m pretty much nervous and shy at heart. Which is why Jami probably saw me quivering before going “on stage”. But I learned from teaching that I could turn it off when I had to. Trust me, when you finally have that baby in your hands, that you worked so hard to get published, you’ll find the courage. 🙂

  33. briaq October 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    I think what Jeannie is saying (and said earlier about getting an early start with workshops and stuff) rings true for so many reasons to me. Not only is she getting recognized and building a brand…. but she’s ironing the wrinkles. I’ve seen her present an award and parts of her presentations and she is smooth. I’m sure years of teaching and presenting helped A LOT.

    But, I also know I still get nervous every time my audience changes. Put me in a room full of managers and HR people and I’m fine. I used to be fine with high schoolers and then jr highers, but who knows now. And now, I’m relearning again for writers *crosses fingers my current proposals are accepted*

    So, not just for the brand and the marketing and selling — but for the comfort and experience — I love the idea of getting out there a little early.

  34. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    I’m going to throw out a question. In this digital age, I theorize that interactions with a more intimate nature are more highly valued. It’s easy to understand for face to face meetings.

    But are things such as mailings — before considered annoying — more highly valued? Hand written letters? I spent a lot of extra time and money trying to reach out for more direct connect. In the future, I was considering off-loading such mailings to someone else. Of course that means, less personalization and direct contact. I’m wondering from a promotional perspective, how such contact is perceived? Do readers care?

  35. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Workshops and signings also go into above question. They’re very expensive to do. I think they’re actually more valuable now then in the past though.

  36. briaq October 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    That’s interesting – I’ll jump back in 🙂

    I find that the things I really want to read, I get in hard copy (like the RWR) – everything else goes into my email box and I think “I’ll read it later….” until I just delete it. How much can you shift around before you need to shift it back?

  37. Sabrina October 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Jeannie, I just wanted to chime in and say I LOVE when I get the hardcopy newsletter and other things from Debbie Macomber. She has a monthly enews that goes out, but I probably have the last 3-4 hard ones that were mailed. For me, it does seem somehow so much more personal even though I read enewsletters all the time too.

  38. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    @Sabrina – And how she knits scarves and sweaters for charities! Who can not love Debbie Macomber?

  39. Kimberly Farris October 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Jeannie, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m really digging this: “Find your power messages and amplify them.”. I think this idea can be applied to not only the author’s book, but also to the writer.

  40. briaq October 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Sabrina and Jeannie – do you think the added “non-writer” type info (the knitting stuff) makes the paper mailing more “acceptable”?

    Kimberly – That’s a great point – you always focus inspiration for me 😉

  41. Laurie London October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Thanks, Jeannie! Sounds like you had a great display.

    Regarding newsletters and the personal touch: You know, I’m so torn on this. As a reader, I hate having my inbox fill up with fluff so I hesitate signing up, but I do like knowing about a favorite author’s new releases.

  42. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    @bria – I don’t know. For Debbie, I think she’s just so well loved by her fans that the newsletter is really something special. Almost like a magazine subscription.

    @Laurie – The good thing I find about e-mail is I can ignore the stuff I don’t want pretty easily, but it still gives me a nice reminder. Companies like Amazon send out much more stuff than any author does.

    Another question. I wanted to sign up for Jade Lee’s newsletter, but I think the only way was through Fresh Fiction. I kind of don’t like that. I’d rather get something that’s specifically Jade Lee than some group service. It’s the whole connectedness thing. What do you guys think?

  43. briaq October 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    I signed up for that, but found 90% of the info I was getting from them was stuff I didn’t care about. It’s a trade off.

    Honestly, this is making me think that someone *job plot bunny alert* should create an monthly alerts email that let’s people know only about authors they choose to have on their own lists- regardless of publisher. *imagines the logistics nightmare*

  44. Jeannie Lin October 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    You could do it with a database and some simple scripting. Oh Shawntelle!

  45. Laurie London October 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Where’s the over-my-head emoticon? 😉

    I do like Amazon’s reminders.

    I’m researching Google Friend Connect. There’s a newsletter gadget that will send out rich text newsletters to those who sign up on your website/blog. It looks pretty easy.

  46. briaq October 22, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    I’d love to hear what you think of Google Friend Connect – I know basically nothing about it 🙂

  47. briaq October 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    READER REMINDER – Want in for the drawing? Just let us know what great marketing of a book you’ve seen OR tell us how one of your favorite author’s keeps you informed about her work

  48. FredTownWard October 22, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    I don’t know you would go about doing it, but getting your book put into Amazon’s Vine Voice program, in which reviewers invited to join by Amazon, presumably based upon the quality and usefulness of their reviews, are allowed to select books and other items from the freebies Amazon receives in return for promising to review them, has got to be useful.

    It gets you a bunch of (hopefully favorable) reviews on your book before it actually comes out, and though Amazon cheerfully accepts negative as well as positive reviews, the system is ever so slightly biased in favor of getting positive reviews by requiring the Vine Voice to select his or her freebies, thus increasing the chances the reviewer will be pleased with his or her selection, unless badly disappointed by it.

  49. briaq October 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Fred – I’ve never heard of that program – can anyone be a reviewer?

  50. FredTownWard October 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    @briaq – No, you have to be invited. Here is Amazon’s info page on the program that you get when you click on the (What’s this?)button under a “Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program” banner:

  51. briaq October 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Thanks! I was just curious if anyone could jump in or if it was in some way controlled.

    Jeannie isn’t the first one to rave about Goodreads

  52. Leigh Royals October 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    I love how well spoken you are. I see how much you are passionate about the book, about marketing, about writing. I am in awe of you. And I am not saying that only as a friend, but a fan. Your advice is remarkable. I see through what you’ve tried what I can or cannot do. It has my mind churning with ideas. Thank you so very much for your insight, and Bria for having her. She’s wicked smaht.

  53. Shadow October 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Twitter has been a great marketing tool for a lot of authors. I will buy one author’s book (in particular) just because of her online personality.
    Blogs are a huge incentive with new authors, keeping a scheduled presence is essential.
    Another great thing is going to different events in your area so that you can spread the word. Even places like carshows and bike raleys can offer prospective readers especially if your book has something in common with the even.
    Good luck with yours!

  54. briaq October 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    I know you’re perpetually disappointed with my lack of Boston accent…. maybe if I’d actually been born and learned to talk there….

  55. briaq October 22, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Shadow – I do like the idea of going to different places authors might not typically share their books…. I need to get more brave before I have a book out!

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