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Friday, February 10, 2012

Promo Successes and Failures

Today marks five months until my release of Never Enough, so I thought I'd do something a little special for today's post - geared mostly at authors who are published or planning to publish. I thought I'd talk a little about promotion and marketing of my books - what I've done, what I've found to be successful, and also what I've found to be unsuccessful.

There's recently been a discussion on one of the Yahoo loops I'm a member of on promotion, so that has sparked my memory for various marketing and promotion techniques. To be honest, I've had a really hard time nailing down what works. With my second book soon to release, I am thinking of what I plan to do the same and what I plan to do differently, though, and so obviously my thoughts must reflect some kind of "Inner Knowing." LOL.

1. Swag. I love it and so I have a lot of fun designing, ordering, and distributing different things. It's really not all that expensive if you watch for deals (I get most swag from Vista Print, and bookmarks from Printrunner.) I send it out to anyone and everyone who asks, leave it around town, conferences, send to bloggers, wherever. I've also used more expensive swag like journals, T-shirts, and baseball caps for giveaways during my launch, and I plan to do all of that again this time around. I think that bookmarks are definitely worth the money I spend on them. The other stuff probably isn't, but it's fun to promote with.

2. Postcard mailings - I spent an awful lot of time handwriting postcards and sending them out for Losing Faith. I had one bookstore tweet about receiving my postcard, but otherwise I didn't see much response from this. I didn't enjoy it. I don't have nice handwriting. So I think I'll skip this effort this time around. Or if I send any, it will be a small amount and only to specifically targeted bookstores and libraries in my area. I think I'm more inclined to personally drop off a stack of bookmarks though.

3. Blog Tour - for my blog tour for Losing Faith, it was quite involved. I gave followers of the tour a different way to enter each day, a different blog to visit, and a different prize to win - books, hats, journals, etc. Then I had 3 grand prizes at the end - three boxes containing about 10 books each. I had these donated by Simon Pulse and so many of them were recent releases or ARC's and there was lots of buzz around these prizes. I mailed them via media mail, but offered one as an overseas prize, which cost me a fortune to mail, so I would probably just offer a gift card or something to international winners this time around.

I also did a blog tour a couple of months after my release with We Love YA Book Tours. It was free, they planned it, and basically I just had to answer some questions and offer some books for prizes. I don't think this group is putting together tours anymore, but Teen Book Scene is another great group of bloggers, and I'll be working with them on touring Never Enough. 

4. Book Trailer - I hired Madison from M2Productions to put together my book trailer for Losing Faith. I was happy with it, and very much enjoy sharing it. I don't know if it made any great difference at all in sales, but I have seen comments on GoodReads and also on Simon & Schuster's Pulse It that people have decided to read the book because of the trailer. With Never Enough, I'm making my own trailer in Windows Moviemaker. It has been a labor of love. I'm excited to share it, but it's not quite done yet...

5. One thing I plan to do this time around that I did not do with Losing Faith is to make a multi-author collaborative video about self-esteem - a theme that is close to my book and close to my heart. Holly Cupala recently did one centered on the theme "Words Have Power" (if you haven'tseen it, you should look it up on YouTube). I was moved by the video, and sales aside, it's something that I would like to do.

6. School visits and appearances - I've only done one real school visit so far, but I loved doing it, and I hope to do more in the future. I have also done library visits, plenty of bookstore signings (which have ranged from packed stores to not a single person buying a book - and there's really no way of knowing what you will get), panel discussions, workshops. I'm attempting to try everything where I can find opportunity and see how I like it. With Never Enough I will certainly remain open to opportunities, but I suspect I won't pursue too many of my own bookstore visits this time around. Bookstore events seem to work better, in my experience, when the bookstore is excited and invites you to come in. I do, however, stop at any bookstores I'm nearby and sign whatever stock of Losing Faith they have on hand. 

Aside from that, I'm active on Twitter and blogging - because I love it. So that's the theme of my thoughts on marketing and promo, I guess. I'm continuing the things I love and I'm ditching the stuff I don't. My husband has been a pretty big influence on me where marketing is concerned. He has his own business (has for over 20 years) and has never done any advertising. He believe strongly in word of mouth and that stressing over trying to get more clients (or sell more books) will not make those things happen. And, in fact, relaxing and trusting WILL make these things come to pass. I'm more of a stress-case than he is, but I'm getting better all the time!

I'd love to hear what your experiences have been with promotion and marketing. Have you found anything you definitely want to do or definitely want to stay away from?

Also, here are two authors I greatly admire who have some fabulous advice on book marketing:

Lisa Schroeder's Timeline For YA/MG Authors

Saundra Mitchell's Tools For Writers


  1. Great post, Denise! I love hearing what kinds of promo stuff has worked for other authors!

  2. Thanks for sharing this info, Denise. I noticed the topic on the loop, too, but am waiting to read through all the posts until I've got time to take notes while I read! I'm sure there's lots of great info and tips.

  3. Hi, Denise. Thanks for this wonderful information. I love it when authors share what has worked and what hasn't. I was wondering if you've done anything specifically toward reaching adults who read YA. Has anything worked or not worked in that area?

    1. I'm glad you got something out of it, Heather. I haven't done anything specific to target adults who read YA, except for one on one talking about my book, and I've offered to speak to a couple of book clubs who were going through Losing Faith.