Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Author Wendy Russo talks about Marketing Your Book

Hello, all! I’m glad to be here today. Katie and I have been talking recently about book promotion. Somehow she’s gotten the mistaken impression that I know what I’m doing. * wink * In all seriousness, I’m winging it, but I am willing to share with you what I have done to apparently look like I know what I’m doing. Like spaghetti noodles tossed at the cupboard, I am hoping some of this sticks.
First though, authors--published and not--please bookmark Anne Mini’s blog “Author! Author!”
Ms. Mini herself
True story. I found this blog in Summer 2011. I had gotten quite a few rejections for January Black at that point, mostly form email and non-response. Anne was posting about standard manuscript format at the time with a focus on how to present numbers. (Spelled out in most cases for numbers under 100, if you’re wondering.) She answered a question I had about whether to use digits or spelling for astronomical coordinates. Anyhow, I completely reformatted my manuscript after finding her blog. I rewrote my query letter, synopsis and blurb. The very first submission I sent after finding her blog got a request for a full manuscript, and later a contract.

Ms. Mini was recently in a car accident and has not been posting. Also, her home page has been replaced with a note that says “It works.” She’s aware of the problem and it might even be fixed by now. Bookmark her blog either way. When Anne comes back, she may be the single best free resource for writing/editing/submitting on the whole Internet. She also has a page on Facebook. Like her!

[Wendy cracks knuckles.]

Okay! Now, onto all the stuff I don’t know. Seriously, I went about marketing back-assward, playing catch up the whole way. And I’ve been learning, the hard way, fast.

       1. Make friends before your release.

I didn’t. My pre-launch marketing involved the Crescent Moon Press author’s group, friends I’ve met on Twitter, and a few more from Six Sentence Sunday. All writers mind you, whose acquaintances are writers. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but reaching readers is important when you’re trying to sell a book.  Since the release of January Black, I’ve connected with several pages on Facebook.

·       Authors’ Social Media Support Group (asmsg) Books (https://www.facebook.com/asmsg.books)
·       Coffee and A Good Book (https://www.facebook.com/coffeandagoodbook?fref=ts)
·       I Heart Books (https://www.facebook.com/IHeartBooksOfficial)
·       International Girls YA Book Club (https://www.facebook.com/IGYABC)
·       Paranormal Book Club (https://www.facebook.com/ParanormalBookClub)
·       Platinum Book Reviews* (https://www.facebook.com/PlatinumBookReviews?fref=ts
·       Young Adult and Teen Readers (https://www.facebook.com/YaTeenReaders?fref=ts)
I’ve starred Platinum Book Reviews because Vicki Rose Stewart is a woman with whom every indie author should be familiar. The next best thing to knowing people is knowing people who know people...and Vicki’s good with people. She’s also a sweet lady who loves authors. (She’s running promotions in between throwing up cancer meds, if that telling you anything about her how much she loves authors.)

These pages are just the ones that I have found and have been interacting with. Contacted prior to a book release, they can post your cover reveals, share your book on release day, and get their fans involved. Posts after a release don’t have the same impact, but now I know.

2. Giveaways.

Some people will say that you should give away swag opposed to books. It the giveaway is the book, it encourages people to wait to buy, just in case they win. I don’t subscribe to that advice. January Black is my first book and readers don’t know who I am! I’m happy to giveaway my book if it means that person might talk about my book to other people.

I’ve given my book away to readers, reviewers, to blog tour hosts to give away to other reviewers, and to people who’ve guessed my favorite color on Facebook. I’ve given two copies away to IGYABC to readers interested in reviewing. I’ve given away copies as part of other writer’s release tours. I’ve given away signed print copies for charity auctions and to a Facebook page just because.  I’ve also donated to my hometown libraries and a Baton Rouge high school. I’m giving a print copy to the USS John C. Stennis, because I’ve heard their library needs fresh ink.

Kristy Barr, schoolteacher from Bar Nunn, WY, won a print copy of 
January Black for finding and commenting on a hidden excerpt

I didn’t publish January Black to make money. I published because I wanted to share it with more readers than just my close friends and family. I wanted to be able to put “published” on my next query letter. I want to walk through an airport or a doctor’s office and see a complete stranger with my book. If giving away copies builds the kind of audience I need to make that last bit happen, then every giveaway is worth it.

3. Swag.

I love free stuff. Who doesn’t love free stuff? I’ve tried to come up with cool free stuff. I created a logo for the tea/book shop in January Black and put it on coffee cups. I’ve also created cover cards and bookmarks that I can sign.

I’m also in the process of setting up a CafePress shop where fans could buy LiberTea and January Black’s logos on T-shirts, coffee mugs, fridge magnets, and ornaments.

I have given coffee cups as prizes and sent several to Texas for a book lovers’ weekend at a bed and breakfast. I’m planning to send some of all of these goodies to Shawna Romkey, who will be attending the RT Conference in St. Louis. If you’re going, find her!

4. Multi-Author Events.
There’s strength in numbers. Recently, Crescent Moon Press authors have been teaming up during their book releases, and it’s been very successful. I figured that if it could generate a lot of attention for a release, why not a review effort.  Joanne Brothwell, Toni de Palma, Shawna Romkey, and I have joined to give readers a great deal on our books. All four for the price of one, which averages out to $1.99 a piece. All the reader needs to do is write a review on Amazon of 20 words or more to request the next book. It’s a deal that Joanne, Toni, Shawna and I will think is awesome, and that will generate Amazon reviews quickly. 

That is pretty much what I’ve been doing so far. I’m looking for more ways to let people know about my book and more cool swag. I just keep looking for more opportunities and more time to work on my new story ideas. It’s a day-by-day thing.

About the Author:

Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.

Wendy S. Russo’s Links: Blog |  Facebook |  G+ | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

January Black’s Links: Kindle | Print

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school's headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty's future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master's diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It's a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty's journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king's bluff.

 Read my Review HERE



  1. Great interview! I am tagging some of the sites!
    Thanks, Wendy!

    Loni Lynne

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Loni! Wendy has great ideas - I went and joined all those Facebook groups as I was scheduling this post, lol!

  2. Hey Katie, great guest post! I like the multi-author event. I truly believe there is strength in numbers rather than going it alone.


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