Friday, August 24, 2012

Come visit me...

I'm visiting at these sites and would love to have you drop in and say hello.

The Barn Door Loft 

read a short excerpt form When Shadows Fall and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of When Shadows Fall

The Sword and The Spirit

Talking about skewing history. Leave a comment for  chance to win a copy of When Shadows Fall.

Guided Girls Blog 

Musing about going to the ACFW Conference.

Also check out my five favorite things @ Hildie McQueen's blog

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fighting Dragons with Chopsticks

Don't know about you, but I have days, maybe even weeks, where I feel like I'm battling Dragons with Chopsticks.

Somedays even with those plastic hors d' oeuvres swords tucked between my index finger and thumb, holding up a Ritz cracker as in my other hand as a shield.

I stand there, all fibers of my being quaking, facing the green eyed dragon of envy, or the yellow-eyed dragon of fear, the gray-eyed dragon of despair,  the red-eyed dragon of anger. Or even the blue-eyed dragon of desire.

They're every where, swooping in from a clear blue sky. Distorting my sun.

No one sees the dragons shadowing me. They don't see as I thrust and parry with my small inadequate weapon and cower behind my shield when he rears up, flapping his wings and roars. He swats at me with his tail, I dodge, barely escaping the spiked end.

I roll away from a burst of flame to my right, and ready for advance on my left. I think to myself foolishly as I stand there, that I'm more lithe than these beasts attacking me. I can face them and win because I have such skill. All I have to do his  continue to dance around and they'll tire before I do.

But I grow weary from running, my parched mouth is thirsty, my cracker is half-baked, my chopsticks are burnt and my sword is melted.

The blue dragon has only to flap his wings at me and I fall to the ground. Broken. Certain I will be toasty fried dragon meat at any second. I tuck myself in to a mini human morsel and try to disappear

Near to sobbing, I wonder why God had abandoned me. Why he left me to face this dragon alone? Forgetting that he promised to be with me. Forgetting to put on the full armor of God.

How much easier might this battle had been if I'd faced the dragon in the strength of the Lord?

Did you remember to put on your Armor today?

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the Lord's people.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

In closing...

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the marketing posts I had for the next couple of days are not available at this time.

When and if they come in, I will certainly put them up. To those who gave of their time to share their marketing ideas; Dan, Nikki, Tricia, Jeff, Julie and Jennifer, my heart felt gratitude. I learned a lot.

Friday Julie Lessman shared her ideas, and also had a giveaway. 

The Winner of Julie's contest was 



Thanks to everyone who came by and left a comment and helped make this marketing series a success.

I do hope this marketing series has been helpful. And would love hearing how it may have benefited you? Also if you have other ideas for marketing that weren't covered so far and have worked for you, please don't hesitate to share.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Marketing 101 -- Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, won the 2011 Holt Medallion Award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, RT Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publicist. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Communications. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.

Are you agented? Do you feel it important to have an agent?
Yes, Terry Burns is my agent at Hartline Literary Agency. I think it’s imperative to have an agent. Most publishers won’t even look at book proposals without an agent. Also, an agent can negotiate for an author, make an uncomfortable situation between an author and editor more comfortable, and give advice on decisions and career goals.

What percentage of your marketing falls to your house and agent?
This is hard to say, since there may be a lot of promotion and publicity behind the scenes that my publisher does that I don’t know about. Therefore, I give you examples. My publishers handle all the promotion to book sellers for distribution (the book stores and online purchase sites), and then they promote on their website, social media, in their catalogs, email newsletters, and etc. I once saw my book promoted on Goodreads and I know I didn’t buy that ad, so my publisher must have purchased it. They also send my books out to book reviewers and they run free ebook promotions on Amazon, Christian Book Distributors and B & N. They have also promoted at tradeshows that I couldn’t attend.

In the meantime, I’m doing online blog tours, creating video book trailers, flyers, bookmarks, posters, hosting contests and providing the giveaways, social media campaigns, setting up book signings, sending out local media releases, purchasing limited ads where I can, etc.

My agent will announce the sale to Publishers Weekly, post it on the agency site, and social media sites. As Hartlines Publicist, I give promotional tips to clients.

Do you have a brand? Why is it important to have a brand?

Yes – Author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe & the Carolinas

Are you on any social networks? (Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Linked In. etc.)

Yes, I’m on all the major social media sites.

Book clubs? (ACFW, Goodreads, Etc.)

Yes, both.

Writing Groups? (ACFW, yahoo groups, etc.)

Yes, several. ACFW, RWA and their local chapters.

Do you feel being in these groups are important? Do they help you with promotion? Give an example of how?

Yes, it’s very important because it has helped me connect and network with people and learn from others. They provide workshop conferences and online webinars.

How much time do you spend on these site?

Not as much as I used to because then I was soaking up knowledge and learning about the industry and the craft of writing. Now I spend more time writing and researching and helping others. I’ve learned to focus my time on niche areas so I can keep my focus.

Can you over promote yourself?

You can promote yourself inappropriately so that it may seem that way. You don’t want to sound pompous, pushy or become known as a spammer. I have blocked individuals for doing this to me.

Do you have a blog? How often do you blog?

Yes, and I’m not as consistent as I should be. I blog 2-3 times a week, but my goal is 4-5 times a week. Consistency is key on a blog.

Do you use book trailers? Do you feel they are useful for promotion? Vlogs?

Yes, I think book trailers are very important, especially with younger readers. When I speak at my daughter’s school, the kids respond much more to video book trailers than PowerPoint presentations or speeches. Also, I’ve had readers tell me that they were motivated to buy my book after seeing the trailer.

Book Trailer for Highland Sanctuary

What do you know about Author Videos?

I think author videos are an excellent way for authors to be “real” with their readers and to give them something visual besides still photos. However, I don’t think authors who are uncomfortable being on video should do so out of pressure or obligation. The reason I say this, is because video is very transparent and can show someone’s inexperience or discomfort, which can backfire more than it helps. It’s the same way with speaking. Some people are natural born speakers and can use this as part of their platform, while others would be better off doing other things to promote themselves.

Do you travel for book signings and other promotion? How often? What would take to be prepared?

Yes, I usually will set up a handful of book signings in my home and neighboring states. For my first two books I hosted a book signing at the B&N in my hometown of Greensboro, NC and then set up other signings at Books-A-Million, Cokesbury and LifeWay stores in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Atlanta. I also set up book signings at several Highland Games since my novels were Scottish historicals.

I don’t recommend schedule book signings except for at the release of the book and perhaps for the next couple of months. Once in a while after that, I might do a book signing if I’m invited to speak somewhere or to participate in a book festival of some sort.

Also, I recommend having book signings at book stores where your books can be purchased so that the author doesn’t have to haul them there, the sales are handled by the store and the author is free to talk and communicate with readers. This also forces the book stores to order your book and they often will ask authors to sign a few books and leave them behind on their shelves. Otherwise, those books stores may not even carry the author’s book.

If your book has a connection that will interest people, go to one of their events and set up a signing. For instance, every time I go to the Highland Games and sell all my books usually 30-60. My next book will be part of the Quilts of Love series, quilting festivals would be a great place for authors of this series to host books signings.

Do you attend conferences? Other than learning and getting to talk with editors and agents do feel conferences are beneficial in marketing?

Yes, I attend conferences, but not as many as I did when I first started writing. Now I’m more likely to attend if I’m speaking, teaching or participating on a panel. Last year, I had to cancel attending some conferences due to a death in the family and some family illnesses.

Do you use libraries for promotion? How?

Yes, I typically speak or teach workshops through local library systems. I also call my local library and make sure they have my books and know about me.

Have you ever stopped doing a certain kind of promotion because you found it'd didn't work for you? Or was a waste of your time.

Yes, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games have always been profitable for me, and worth my time, but when they raised the prices sky high to host a booth, I chose not to participate after my second book came out. By the time I paid for my books, gas, lodging, and their huge fees, I would have been several hundred dollars in the hole. This made me very sad, but I had to face reality. I may continue to do other Highland Games if they continue to be reasonable.

Do you do public speaking? Do you feel that is important for promotion? What other public venues do you use for marketing?

Yes, I provide workshops to writing groups, speak at churches, ministries, universities, libraries, and will be the closing keynote speaker at the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers Conference in Sept. 

I believe a speaking platform is very important for those who feel comfortable with public speaking. It gives you a way to connect with your audience face-to-face, builds their confidence in your abilities and knowledge, as well as your credibility. Speakers’ names are promoted at the conferences, in all the materials promoting the conference, and throughout the conference. It’s a great way to get your name out them, to become known in the industry and build a platform.

What have you found to be some of the best uses of your energies for marketing?

Ads are not very effective unless you have a huge advertising budget to spend on lots of impressions and click-throughs.

I truly believe connecting with people on social media and offering my advice and experience has been more effective than anything in building a platform and getting my name out there. When I go to conferences, people often know my name and some have said that they see me online everywhere. I’m not online everywhere, but my marketing strategies make me look like it.  

During a book launch, I believe book tours and reviews are most effective. It’s imperative to get people talking about your book and creating that buzz. Plus, it’s always better if other people are doing the talking and creating that buzz rather than the author.

What marketing ideas or guideline might you give an author who is just starting out?

Divide your time between learning the craft of writing and building an online platform. The first year spend 90% of your time writing and 10% networking and carving out your online space. Go ahead and buy your domain name. The second year, bump it up to 80% writing and 20% networking. The third year, bump it up to 70% writing and 30% promotion and networking. Do this until you get to 50%/50%.

Don’t worry that your writing will suffer. Once you learn all the rules and craft of writing well enough to get published, your ideas will evolve and the process of writing and editing will be more progressive.

Don’t wait to build that platform. I believe this is the number one mistake too many authors make. Building a platform takes years, and no amount of money or brilliant marketing strategies is going to make up for those years during the launch of your first book.

Do you hold contests? Do giveaways? Have they been helpful for promotion? Why or Why not?

Yes, I hold contests and giveaways, but only during book launches and I’ve started cutting back. For one thing the cost of those giveaways and mailing them out can get expensive and time consuming. For another thing, you can end up with too many contest junkies who just want free stuff. Therefore, I came up with a strategy.

Instead of allowing people to simply leave a comment and just be entered into a drawing, I required people to “do something” to be entered. I ran the contest for 2 weeks and gave away multiple prizes, but most of the prizes had something to do with reading and books. This allowed me to reach more of my target audience and cut back on contest junkies.

I think it was very helpful. Other people were promoting my book instead of me, I gained new social media followers, blog followers, and newsletter subscribers. I don’t know if these translated into sales, but I would like to think that it did in some cases. At least people were hearing about it who otherwise wouldn’t have heard about my book without the contest.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Marketing 101 -- Julie Lessman

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of "Passion With a Purpose" underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as "Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction." Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of "The Daughters of Boston" series--A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her "Winds of Change" series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010. You can contact Julie through her website at

Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of one of Julie's books. You'll find her beautiful covers after she shares her tips on marketing.

Marketing 101

1.) Are you agented? Do you feel it important to have an agent?
Yes, I am with Natasha Kern Literary Agency, an agent who, I might add, is one of the best in the business. And if you don’t believe me, believe the fact that she sold me in a 3-book deal within six months after four years of trying on my own with 39 rejections.

And do I feel it’s important to have an agent?? Absolutely, and, in fact, it’s point #7 on my publication tips—go for an agent first, publisher second. Case in point: I actually pitched A Passion Most Pure to my current editor at a conference two years prior. Would you believe it was still in her slush pile when she contracted me? It took my agent’s reputation for excellence to finally get my manuscript a serious look.

2.) What percentage of your marketing falls to your house and agent?
I have no way of knowing if this is true, but I feel that about 75% of my marketing is done by my publisher and 24% by me and maybe 1% by my agent.

3.) Do you have a brand? Why is it important to have a brand?
Well, an author “brand” is basically an image, perception or identity to market a particular author. For instance, my “image” in the CBA is of an author who writes Christian romance that is more romantically (and I hope, more spiritually) passionate than the average Inspy romance. Thus my tagline is “Passion with a Purpose.”

I think this “branding” is important because you want the readers to remember YOU, not a particular title or genre. I want them to walk into a bookstore and ask for anything written by Julie Lessman, not just specify “A Passion Most Pure” or “Christian Romance.” Think of it like ordering a Pepsi instead of just a “cola,” you know? When I walk into a restaurant or store and buy a Pepsi, I know I am going to get a cola with more carbonation that tingles my tongue. Likewise, when ordering a Julie Lessman book rather than, let’s say, an Amish book—my brand assures the reader that when it comes to romance, there will definitely be more “tingle.”

I think another reason branding is important because it solidifies your reader base. What I mean by that is when a reader is looking for what I have to offer—clean and spiritual romantic passion—they identify my name with that, not only for themselves, but for their friends who are looking for the same. According to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” Unfortunately, the majority of these women turn to the secular market to satisfy their need for compelling novels with strong romantic passion. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they were drawn to a novel of passion and encountered God's ideas on sexuality along the way? Hopefully my brand will help to accomplish that.

4.) Are you on any social networks? (Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Linked In. etc.)

5.) Book clubs? (ACFW, Goodreads, Etc.)
ACFW and Goodreads.

6.) Writing Groups? (ACFW, yahoo groups, etc.)
ACFW, Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Review of Books, The Book Club Network, Writers to Encourage, Fiction Addiction Fix.

7.) Do you feel being in these groups are important? Do they help you with promotion? Give an example of how?
Yes, because any networking you can do helps with promotion, and in the case of the groups above, I am able to promote my books via giveaways or announcements.

8.) How much time do you spend on these sites?
About 15-30 minutes a day.

9.) Can you over promote yourself?
I don’t see how … J

10.) Do you have a blog? How often do you blog?
Yes, I am part of a fabulous group blog of authors called Seekerville that encourages, teaches, prays for and promotes writers on the road to publication, and I blog about once a month there. Then I have my own personal blog which is called Journal Jots  where my reader friends (I hate the word “fans”!) can learn what I'm up to on my books, giveaways, fun things I'm doing or even my own personal devotional for the day, and I blog here once a week on Fridays.

11.) Do you use book trailers? Do you feel they are useful for promotion? Vlogs?
No, I do not. Yes, I think they can be useful for promotion if done well, as Vlogs can be as well.

12.) What do you know about Author Videos?
Not sure if this is the same thing, but has video-interviewed me several times, and I think it’s a great idea for promotion for both the author and the bookseller.

13.) Do you travel for book signings and other promotion? How often? What would take to be prepared?
Rarely anymore because quite frankly, I don’t think they’re worth the time and effort that has to go in to it. I do think it’s a real plus if you can teach workshops at ACFW, however, which Ruth Axtell Morren and myself did last year together. But the prep time is a killer, submitting workshop application, writing the workshop, creating handouts, practice, etc.

14.) Do you attend conferences? Other than learning and getting to talk with editors and agents do feel conferences are beneficial in marketing?
I usually always attend ACFW and yes, I do feel conferences are beneficial in marketing, especially if there is a bookstore or book signing involved like with ACFW.

15.) Do you use libraries for promotion? How?
Rarely, although I’ve done a couple of Skype workshops with libraries.

16.) Have you ever stopped doing a certain kind of promotion because you found it'd didn't work for you? Or was a waste of your time.
Yes, book signings and in some cases, blog interviews with giveaways because it’s a lot of time spent for very little return, although I do continue with some blog interviews because I love interacting with my reader friends via comments.

17.) Do you do public speaking? Do you feel that is important for promotion? What other public venues do you use for marketing?
Yes, I do some public speaking, and yes, I think it is very important for promotion. Other public venues include radio, newspaper and magazine interviews.

18.) What have you found to be some of the best uses of your energies for marketing?
Blog tours, Facebook and Twitter.

19.) What marketing ideas or guideline might you give an author who is just starting out?
Blog tours, FB, Amazon, CBD Author Pages, personal blog, group blog, Twitter, FB party giveaways.

20.) Do you hold contests? Do giveaways? Have they been helpful for promotion? Why or Why not?
All the time—in blog giveaways and newsletter contests, which I post on my website calendar and on my website “Contest” tab, and yes, I think they are helpful because they A.) hopefully get your book in a new reader’s hands and B.) Solidify a personal relationship with a reader.




“Katie, are you okay?” Luke loosened his tie and stared, concern creasing his brow as he watched her, her body slumped at the window with a hand to her eyes. She didn’t move, and the tightness in his gut increased. He approached quietly, afraid he would startle her. “Katie?”

“Oh!” She whirled around, staggering against the sill with a hand to her chest.

He clutched her arm to steady her, and the color drained from her cheeks. Softening his hold, he absently grazed her skin with his thumb, then ducked his head and smiled, eyes tender as he studied her. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Are you all right?”

She nodded stiffly, her gaze glued to the massive hand on her arm.

Worry wrinkled the bridge of his nose and he braced both palms on her shoulders, convinced something was wrong. Her face was white and her breathing labored, and he could swear he felt a hint of a tremble. “No, I can feel it. Something’s bothering you.” He pressed his hand to her forehead. “Are you sick?”

She jerked back from his hold and butted up against the window, arms crossed and hugging her waist. “No!” she said too quickly to suit him, clearly avoiding his eyes. “I mean maybe a little dizzy, but nothing serious. I just need to go home …”

He shifted, suddenly concerned it had to do with him. He plunged his hands in his pockets and softened his tone. “Katie … is it me? Did I say or do something to upset you?”
She shook her head, gaze bonded to the floor. “No, Luke, really, please, I just need to—”

He nudged her chin up with his thumb, and her lips parted with a sharp intake of breath. And then he saw it. The gentle rise and fall of her chest, the soft rose in her cheeks, the skittish look in her eyes, flitting to his lips and then quickly away. Comprehension suddenly oozed through him like heated honey purling through his veins. Could it be? Was it possible that cold, callous Katie O’Connor was beginning to warm up? To him, of all people—Cluny McGee, the leper from her past? The thought sent warm ripples of shock through his body, thinning the air in his lungs. His gaze gentled, taking in the vulnerability in her eyes, the fear in her face, and all he wanted to do was hold her, reassure her.

As if under a spell, his gaze was drawn to her lips, parted and full, and the sound of her shallow breathing filled him with a fierce longing. “Oh, Katie,” he whispered, no power over the pull he was suddenly feeling. In slow motion, he bent toward her, closing his eyes  to caress her mouth with his own. A weak gasp escaped her as she stiffened, but he couldn’t relent. The taste of her lips was far more than he bargained for, and he drew her close with a raspy groan. With a fierce hold, he cupped the back of her neck and kissed her deeply, gently, possessive in his touch. His fingers twined in her hair, desperate to explore.

And then all at once, beyond his comprehension, her body melded to his with an answering groan, and he was shocked when her mouth rivaled his with equal demand. Desire licked through him, searing his body and then his conscience. With a heated shudder, he gripped her arms and pushed her back, his breathing ragged as he held her at bay. “We can’t do this,” he whispered. He dropped his hold and exhaled, gouging shaky fingers through disheveled hair. His gaze returned, capturing hers and riddled with regret. “Believe me, Katie, as much as I want to, I’ve learned the hard way to take things slow. I should have never started this, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Forgive him? She stared at him through glazed eyes, her pulse still pumping in her veins at a ridiculous rate. She never wanted this, couldn’t stand the sight of him, and now here she was, tingling from his touch and desperate for more. Addicted to the “King of Misery.” The very thought inflamed both fury and desire at the same time, muddling her mind. Dear Lord, she was torn between welding her lips to his or slapping him silly. With a tight press of her mouth, she opted for the second and smacked him clean across the face.

His jaw dropped a full inch, complemented nicely by a slash of red across his cheek.
Her chest was heaving, but at least it wasn’t from his touch. She narrowed her eyes and clutched her fists at her side, not all that sure she wouldn’t slap him again. “So help me, if you ever touch me again, you will be the sorriest person alive.”

He slowly rubbed his cheek with the side of his hand, exercising his jaw as if to make sure it still worked. His eyes glinted like blue glass, sharp and deadly. Even so, the swaggering smile of old eased across his face. He bent forward, his tall frame looming over her like a bad omen, and his voice held that cocky drawl so reminiscent of his past. “What’s the matter, Katie Rose,” he whispered, “does my touch make you nervous?”
The heat in her cheeks went straight to her temper. She iced him with a cool gaze. “Nervous? Around you? Hardly. You can dress up in a suit all you like, Luke McGee, but to me you’ll always be the same cocky street brat with a twang in your voice and grime on your face.”
She knew her words hit their mark when a red blotch crawled up the back of his neck like a rash gone awry. A nerve pulsed in his temple, but his smile never wavered despite the steel edge of his jaw. One blond brow jagged high in challenge. “Is that a fact? Well then, how about a little experiment? Kind of like when you were eleven and I bet you couldn’t be nice?”

He leaned close, his voice as hard as his eyes. “What d’ya bet I can make you nervous now?”

She tried to shove him out of the way. “I’m going home.”

“Not yet,” he whispered, blocking her in with a push to the wall. His voice, like the dominance of his hold, was a force to be reckoned with. “You always packed a wallop for a little girl, Katydid, but this time you picked the wrong street brat. You can turn your nose up at me all you want, but we both know that slap wasn’t so much about an innocent kiss …” He bent close, his eyes on fire and his breath hot  against her face. “As how it made you feel.”

His words seemed to vibrate through her, low and thick in the air. She shuddered, and the force of his savage look trapped all protest in  her throat.

“To you I’ll always be riff-raff, something vulgar and crude. Well, welcome to my world, Miss O’Connor. And, please, let me show you how we do it on the ‘streets.’ Because if I’m going to take a beating, you can bet your bottom dollar on two things for sure. One—I’m going to get my money’s worth.” A dangerous smile surfaced as his gaze focused on her lips. “And two …” His mouth hovered just above hers while his voice trailed to a whisper. “I’m gonna make you real nervous in the process.”

In a catch of her breath, he took her mouth by force, his late-day beard rough against her skin. A faint moan escaped her lips and all resistance fled, burned away by the heat of his touch, leaving her weak and wanting. His mouth roamed at will, no longer gentle as he devoured her, ravenous against the smooth curve of her throat, the soft flesh of her ear. With a guttural groan, he jerked her close with powerful arms, consuming her mouth with a kiss surely driven by the sheer will to ravage.

And then in a frantic beat of her heart, he shoved her away. She gasped, numb as she thudded against the wall. His chest was heaving and his eyes were hard, focused on her with cool disregard. “There. Now that makes two of the sorriest people alive.” He grabbed her purse from the floor and threw it on her desk, then rubbed his mouth with the side of his hand. “Better run home, Katydid. God knows the riff-raff that roam the street this time of night.”
He turned and walked into his office, slamming the door hard.

She stared, her body still quivering from his rage. Closing her eyes, she sagged against the wall, too stunned to move and too shaken to care. She pressed a trembling hand to her mouth, her lips swollen from the taste of him. She was doomed, she realized, and the thought shivered through her like a cold chill. She wanted a man she didn’t really want, and the very notion weakened her at the knees. He had called her one of the sorriest people alive. She grappled for her purse and put a hand to her eyes.

And God help her, she was.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Marketing 101-- Jeff Gerke

Welcome, Jeff

Jeff Gerke has been called the de facto gatekeeper of Christian speculative fiction. Jeff is an editor, novelist, publisher, cover designer, typesetter, fiction teacher, and Writers Digest author. He is best-known as the award-winning editor and publisher of Christian fantasy and science fiction works, including those put out by his own small publishing house, Marcher Lord Press. He has recently launched as part of He usually leaves the marketing questions to Thomas Umstattd, who runs, also a part of Bestseller Society.

By this point in this series on marketing fiction, I’m sure you’ve heard a number of great ideas. There is lots of good advice out there, and certainly some novels seem to do well with the marketing and publicity they receive.

However, and with absolutely no disrespect to the others giving their ideas, I have come to believe that nobody really knows how to market fiction. LOL. Myself included.

Oh, sure, if you’re promoting a book by an author who is a household name—or if you have an unlimited budget (and preferably both)—you can successfully market the novel.

But the rest of us are more or less anonymous and have a significantly non-unlimited marketing budget. It’s these folks who could really use some surefire advice for marketing their novels.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any. If there were some three-step plan that guaranteed bestselling numbers for your novel, every fiction publisher and author would be using it, and every novel thus promoted would be a bestseller.

But it simply isn’t true. Novels with massive marketing budgets often perform miserably in the marketplace, and novels with a shoestring marketing budget sometimes shoot the moon (to mix my metaphors).

Marketing fiction is a bit like predicting hurricanes. You can use past results and future projections and prevailing trends to inform your predictions, but in the end it’s just a guess. There are forces beyond your control at work, whether we’re talking about the behavior of winds or the fiction market.

So try out all the things you hear in this series about marketing fiction, if they make sense to you and you can afford them. It’s probably very solid advice. But just know that what worked for novel X may not work for your novel.

But don’t hear me saying that you should not market your novel. That’s not my message at all.

Especially in our day of small presses, self-publishing, and vanishing marketing departments/budgets at CBA houses, it’s more important than ever that you market your book.

Yes, but Jeff, you just said—

I know, but I didn’t mean you shouldn’t market. I just mean that there is no surefire advice or action plan that anyone can do that will inevitably cause your novel to be a bestseller.

Having made all of those disclaimers, let me tell you what I do think you should do to market your novel.

It begins from my observation—from my own novels, the novels and authors I published at various CBA houses, the novels and authors I publish through Marcher Lord Press, and my hundreds of multi-published Christian novelist friends—that there is a direct connection between how much an author markets his/her book and how well that book sells.

There is a link, in other words, between elbow grease and sales.

These hundreds of novelists all promote (or fail to promote) their novels in hundreds of ways. I’m not here to give you a few marketing tricks that, if you do them, your novel will certainly become a bestseller.

But the one thing I have seen is that the harder a novelist works to promote his/her novel over time, the higher will be that novel’s sales.

The corollary is also true: The less a novelist works to promote his/her novel over time, the lower will be that novel’s sales.

If you want your novel to sell well, do stuff to market it.

Now, it’s still possible that an extremely hard-working marketer will not see his/her novel rise to bestseller status. But it almost 100% guaranteed that the novelist who does little or nothing to market his/her novel will certainly see that novel’s sales crash and burn.

And it is also almost 100% guaranteed that a novel that is marketed hard, at least for a season, will do better over that same span than a novel that is marketed little or none. Further, as soon as you stop marketing a novel, it will probably cease to sell.

Now, of course, we’re all hoping that we can work and push for awhile, and then word of mouth will take over, and the money will just roll in. Hopefully, that will be your experience. (Then you’ll write a book on how to market fiction, and others will do what you did, but they won’t get the same results. LOL.)

But probabilistically speaking, your novel will sell at the X+1 level for as long as you’re marketing it hard, at the X level when you’re marketing it a little, and then at the X-1 level (or the X-times-zero level) when you stop marketing it.

Still, X+1 beats X or X-1 or zero, right?

Hopefully this is encouraging to you, not discouraging. It means that what you do to market your novel does matter. It means that marketing works. This should inspire you to market that novel.

To give you a plan for how to harness this perspective, I have created what I call the 30:1 Rule of Marketing Fiction.

The 30:1 rule states that you have to do 30 things to market your novel to get 1 that “works” or gives you some traction or a positive uptick in sales.

The problem is that you probably won’t know which 1 of the 30 was the 1 that worked. To further compound the problem, even if you did that 1 thing again, it wouldn’t work again.

So you have to keep doing a new 30—or the same 30—again and again to get your 1s.

But if you do enough 30s, you’ll begin to pile up 1s. Get enough 1s (and the number that is “enough” varies for every novel), and you’ll finally pass that tipping point, and word of mouth will take over.

Don’t despair: Your 30 things don’t have to be expensive. Most of them can and should be free or very low cost.

Ideas include doing guest blogs, writing free articles (with a byline that mentions your book), writing to a reviewer asking if s/he would review your novel, contacting your local paper to see if they’d do an article on you, speaking at a local writers group, adding a link to your book’s Amazon page in your e-mail signature, printing up cheap fliers to put in a waiting room or airport you’re passing through, beginning a low-budget Facebook advertising campaign...and many of the awesome ideas given by other writers contributing to this series.

The secret isn’t which marketing effort you’re doing, but that you’re doing marketing efforts.

If you do one thing a day to market your novel, even if it’s just telling your neighbor about your novel, by the end of each month you will have done 30 things. And 1 of them will have been especially effective in promoting your novel. And if you do one novel-marketing thing a day for six months, you will have six “1s,” and maybe that will be enough to push things over into word-of-mouth territory.

If you take from my post only one thing, let it be this: There is a connection between how hard you promote your novel and how well it sells. Work harder and longer on promoting it, and it will sell better. As soon as you stop working it, most likely it will stop selling.

Novelists who want to only write and not promote may find their books getting written and published but not read. Unless that’s what you’re going for, I urge you to push that book.

That doesn’t mean you’re leaving no room for God to decide what to do with the sales of your book. It means that you’re giving your utmost for His highest.

(I believe there is a substantial opportunity right now for freelance marketers/publicity people. Some authors so dislike marketing that they’d be willing to pay someone else to do it for them. That’s where these freelancers would come in. But perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.)

So be encouraged: What you do to market your novel, even if it’s something very small, really does have a positive effect on sales. Keep it up—do not grow weary of doing good—and you will see sales improve.


Jeff’s latest fiction how-to book for Writers Digest is The First 50 Pages.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Marketing 101 -- Tricia Goyer

About Tricia:

Tricia is the author of 30 books and has published more than 500 articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine.

She won the Historical Novel of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mr. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005. Tricia’s co-written novel, The Swiss Courier, was a nominee for the Christy Awards.

Time Management: Marketing and Speaking

Just a few quick tips that worked for me...


1. I’ve hired a nearly full-time assistant to help with marketing. She posts my blogs, formats my newsletters, sends out packages, etc.

2. I fit my radio interviews, etc. into my calendar. I also schedule in things like e-mail interviews, mailing signed books, etc. I don’t have specific days but rather specific slots to meet the need.


1. I used to speak two times a month. Now I limit that to four times a year. It takes me days to prepare, days to travel, days to “get back into life.” At this season in my life I need to give time to my family first. This is out-of-town stuff. This doesn’t count in local engagements, which I will take if they fit.

I’m an Author. Do I Need a Newsletter?

Many authors have newsletters. I have one that goes out about every other month. I share an inspiring story, news, and information about me and what I'm up to.

Every book signing, conference, or speaking event I do I hold a drawing. In addition to their name and address I include three other things:
  1. I would like to receive Tricia's email newsletter [ ] yes 
  2. I have another event I'd like Tricia to consider speaking at, please send me a press kit.
  3. Comment:
The majority of people click yes to signing up for the newsletter, which is great! Building a dedicated readership, I've discovered, is worth giving away free books.

As for whether it's worth the extra time and effort, people who are signed up for my newsletter are people like older friends from church who don't spend time on social media or reading blogs. I also encourage readers to pre-order my novels and it seems to be working!

Your Audience

We've talked about marketing and publicity before, but I'd like to discuss how you reach your audience.

1. Let's talk about who your audience is.

2. Let's talk about unique ways you reach them.

According to, here is info on who is visiting my website the most: "Based on internet averages, is visited more frequently by females who are in the age range 25-34, have children, are college educated and browse this site from home." Looking at other information Alexa told me, the websites they visit before and after my site is Facebook.

When I think of my reader, I often think of real women I know to help me picture "her" in my mind. One is Alana. She's a friend from church who's married to a great guy from Guatemala. They are involved in missions outreach in his home country. She's college-educated but put her career aside to raise her two kids. At church we chat about my new books and the research behind them. She's invited me to her home to talk to other young moms about homeschooling. She posts adorable photos of her kids on Facebook, and she works at a preschool part-time, mostly because she likes the connection with other moms and kids. I have readers from other age groups and lifestyles, but I know that I have a nice following from this audience.

There are obvious ways I connect with them:
-By doing guest blogs on mommy and homeschooling sites
-By blogging about marriage and family on my blog (I throw books stuff in now and again :)
-By posting about my writing (which is following my dream), life and family on Facebook and Twitter
-By hosting Facebook contests

I also try to be aware of other places my core readers and followers are congregating. One of those places is Pinterest

I've discovered that you can pin anything to your "bulletin boards" that has a photo. I "pin" my books under subject headings like "World War II" or "Amish." I also started spending five or ten minutes each day finding old blog posts and "pinning" them. For example, recently I pinned a blog post from July 2010 on "How to Be a Better Lover" to my Marriage board. In the first few hours I pinned it, more than 250 people went and viewed that old blog post. It's continued to get a few hundred views each week. If people like your pins, they repin them on their boards. And then people look at their boards and repin them, too. Sweet!

Recently, because of things like Pinterest and Facebook parties, the daily views on my blog/website have jumped from an average of 6,000 page views a month to more than 11,000 in November. I've also seen my book sales numbers growing, too. Yeah! And the best part is it's fun for me! (Yes, I find Facebook and Twitter fun, too.) Because I like it, I don't feel like I'm marketing (so much), and readers don't feel that I'm only concerned with trying to sell them something.

Even though the majority of books I write are fiction, I'm making a connection with my main readership who connect with me over family and real-life issues, and then run out to buy my novels. They also buy my books for their parents and grandparents, too, which I love!

All that to say, instead of casting a wide net and attempting to reach a variety of readers, I've been doing more to connect with those who respond most positively to me and my books.

Twitter It!

Are you sick of hearing about Twitter yet?

For three months I put off checking it out. I already had a presence of MySpace, Facebook, and ShoutLife, and I didn't understand how this new social marketing opportunity would be any different.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? You have 140 characters (letters) to answer that question. You can “tweet” once a day or twenty times a day. It's up to you.

You may wonder who reads these twitters. They are your “followers.” People follow others they know, those they respect, or those recommended by other.

In the six months since I started tweeting, I accumulated 3,600+ followers, and I get twenty or thirty new followers every day. (I received five new followers in the time it took me to write this article!) My follower count now is more than 56,000. Not every follower reads each of my posts, but many of them read most.

Throughout the day I send updates about my devotional time, writing, editing, and even my errands. People follow the progress of my books, and they are often eager to spread the word about my project. They comment back, which gives me a sense of community. I’ve also used Twitter when doing research. I post questions, and I ask for feedback. I’ve even asked for suggestions for chapter titles or character names. Fun!

Twittering may sound like work, but it takes less than one minute to post 140 characters—about two sentences, or as much as this paragraph.

As a writer there are benefits to Twittering
1) People do enjoy hearing about everyday lives of interested people. As a writer you are one of them. (This is the reality television generation, remember?) As you’re working on a book, you can become interesting to a wide variety of people—many who may later be readers.

2) Seventy-five percent (or maybe more) of the people I've connected with are those who I haven't connected with before. Score! My followers include radio hosts, television producers, editors, and many potential readers.

3) My Facebook account is also connected with Twitter. When I update the status of one, the other is updated. Because of this, my Facebook network has grown, too.

4) When I promote my interviews or articles or books, I have a wide variety of people who are eager to hear the newest news. For example, when I was recently on Focus on the Family radio, I tweeted about it, and many, many people responded, telling me they turned into the radio. It was a great feeling!

Following back
Personally, I follow thousands of people on Twitter. No, I do not keep updated with this many people all day long. Rather, I have a select few that I follow via my cell phone. The rest (those I don't follow on my cell phone) I keep updated on by scanning on the web four or five times a day. If I see something interesting, I may comment on their post.

The people I follow closely are writer friends and professionals in our industries, such as Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson), Sheila Walsh, and Ed Stetzer (CEO of Lifeway). I can honestly say I know more about what’s happening in the publishing industry today than I did a month ago. I also follow a few “non-famous” closely. One is Kristen, a farm mom. I’m writing a series of books set on a farm, and it’s free research!

So if you are interested in connecting with people, building relationships, and spreading the word about your writing, Twitter might be worth checking out. Go ahead and try it. It’s not hard to dip your toe into . . . since it’s only 140 characters at a time.