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Marketing Tips Part 2 - Paula Eykelhof, Retired Harlequin Executive Editor with Successful Authors


Welcome to the second part of our discussion about promoting your book!

In the previous blog, authors Anne Marie Duquette, Elizabeth Heiter, Kate James and Geri Krotow shared their knowledge and experience. I greatly appreciate their generosity. There’s much to learn from them!


And there’s much to learn from the authors whose recommendations appear in this second part of the discussion: Debbie Macomber, Stella MacLean, Brenda Novak, Tara Taylor Quinn and Sheila Roberts, with Bellastoria’s Ann DeFee providing the last word. I’m equally grateful for their generosity in making their knowledge and experience available.


Whether you’re a multi-published author or a newcomer to the world of publishing, I know you’ll find much of value in their suggestions and observations.




DEBBIE MACOMBER

Brief Bio:

Debbie Macomber is a leading author of women's fiction worldwide and a consistent New York Times and USA Today bestseller. She's a multiple award winner, and a number of her books have been made into movies and television shows. Debbie began her career writing series romance for Harlequin forty years ago. You can reach her website at: www.DebbieMacomber.com


What’s your favorite promo strategy? Which do you feel is the most successful?

I find that by far, the most effective and the most successful promotional strategy is to maintain a reader list and to communicate monthly with those readers whether I have a book released that month or not. A monthly newsletter that’s chatty and offers helpful information. I often share recipes or tell stories about my family. Readers love knowing inside details of the author’s life. It makes them feel as if you’re their friend.


Your blogs are very effective. What’s involved in maintaining them?

I believe blogs are important between my monthly newsletters. I do one a week. The key is to keep them short, meaningful and fun. I rarely mention my books, as the purpose is to maintain relationships. That’s what keeps the readers engaged. The least effective tool is a blog that gives readers the impression that all you want from them is to buy your books.


You also have a digital magazine. Please tell us a little about it.

My digital magazine is a team effort. I have an extremely talented staff of nine and they create some of the most incredible things for the home—and explain how you can create them, too. Whether it’s something to eat or projects they’ve enjoyed.

I also have the opportunity to connect with other authors and learn about their stories and their lives. The magazine is about the world I inhabit and the people around me. In each issue, my children share their observations and lessons they’ve learned. I share my most recent favorite books and of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a short story. I wanted to create something uplifting and encouraging that would be a blessing to all who read it. Every other month a new issue is released. A one- year subscription is $19.95, and as a bonus, everyone who joins can read the six most recent issues. Every two months the newest issue replaces the oldest.


You recognized the importance of creating a brand early on. How would you

describe your brand and how has your promotion supported it?

When I first started publishing my books, a brand was the last thing on my mind! And it wasn’t a term in frequent use then, at least not in this context. What created my brand was the consistency of my stories. When readers picked up one of my books, they knew what to expect. My goal as an author was to give the reader a feeling of comfort and hope. A feeling of home and security. That became my brand.


How important is social media to your promotion strategy?

Very. It’s the way authors most often communicate with their reader base. It’s essential to any author looking to make inroads in publishing.


How valuable are conferences in this regard--now and in the past?

Conferences can be helpful as long as the author prepares in advance before attending. Be sure to set goals. Make a list of who you want to meet, and if the editors or agents are already booked, then offer to buy them a glass of wine. Make it a point to meet authors you admire, especially ones who are further along in their careers, and ask their advice. It doesn’t hurt to tell these authors you enjoy their writing!


How often do you do reader contests? What do they involve? And how do you choose the winners? One prize I recall was your offering a dedication of the reader’s choice. Another, if I remember correctly, was to name a character after the winning reader or a person she chose.

In the past I’ve offered a few unique gifts like book dedications and the naming of a character, but those are for local auctions that are supporting something in my community.

For my readers I always include a giveaway in my newsletter. They love it, and it’s the most popular section of the newsletter. But I also try and to keep my social platforms engaged with fun giveaways during the month. There are great apps that can help facilitate selecting winners. It’s always a random selection made by an algorithm.


You’ve participated in reader groups in various ways. Can you tell us about that?

Writers should also be readers. It’s wonderful to gather with other readers and discuss books they’re enjoying. This also allows an author to hear what draws people into a story and why.


You’ve done readings and interviews in some very interesting places, e.g. a yarn shop to support the Blossom Street books. Any other examples? And during these years of Covid, are you doing virtual readings and appearances?

As an author, I want to support the sale of my books, books in general and small businesses. It’s always interesting to see where books are being sold and where readers are gathering. Zoom is fantastic, as I can be in conversation with readers and none of us had to travel hours to do it.


Are there any author support sites or reader sites you’d recommend?

On Facebook there are lots of groups talking about books. The Novel Bee, Women Reading Great Books, Friends and Fiction, Her Novel Collective. There’s something special about the opportunity to connect with others who enjoy reading.


What role does Amazon play in your promotion activities?

Amazon is a bookseller, so they’re often working directly with the publisher. You can create an Author Portal and keep it updated, like the bio on your website. If you are self- published or publishing through KDP, you can place ads through Amazon to help promote your books. If you’re traditionally published you can work with your publishing team to build out the “From the Publisher” section.



STELLA MACLEAN


Brief Bio:

Stella MacLean is a multi-published author of romance and romantic suspense, both as a traditionally published author and as an indie author. Her most recent book is The Good Daughter.


I’ll start by asking what you consider your most effective promotional strategy.

I've had a good response to Amazon ads, mainly in bringing people to my website, although the ads can be a little pricey. I plan to focus a little more on Bookbub in the coming months to see what I can do there.


· Your website and regular newsletter work to keep your readers informed of upcoming books. Readers subscribe to your newsletter, correct? What do you include in both the website and the newsletter—since they seem to have different roles?

I send out newsletters and blogs many times between books. I like to keep in touch with friends and readers.


Tell us about the reader contests you run—what are the rules and the prizes? And how do you choose winners?

I run a contest every newsletter. The prize is usually a paperback copy of a book. I ask the newsletter reader to read my blog and answer a question. The winners are based on who contacts me first (in order of the time of that email) at my Stella MacLean email address. (stella@stellamaclean.com)


You’ve done quite a few interviews and talks, as well as public readings and signings. I know you found that kind of activity successful. Are you managing that online now (during our plague times!)?

I did an online workshop through my local library in September. The workshop was on staying motivated during these unusual times. One thing I learned was that people who were wanting to write found that writing during Covid was much more difficult than they expected. They assumed that with so much time at home, they'd be so much more productive. That didn't seem to happen.


Stella, you’ve published quite a few books with traditional houses but you’ve also done some self-publishing. Tell us about that. Do you take a different tack when you’re promoting self-published vs traditional books?

Promotion is an acquired skill for me. I have to work at it all the time. I'm one of those who prefer writing to promoting. With a traditional publisher like Harlequin, I got a lot of benefit from the branding that Harlequin does so well. But when I self-publish I have to draw more on my own efforts at promotion. That's why I have a frequent newsletter, not so much to push my books, but to stay in touch with readers. Despite reading and watching videos on promotion, I find that it comes down to a choice. You either spend a big chunk of your time on it, and probably a lot of money, or you live with poor sales.

For instance, I am now searching for a cover artist who has industry knowledge and design skills. It's not that there aren't good cover artists out there. It's that with so many books on the market today, it's very easy to get lost in a crowded marketplace. That's why cover artists are so important.

One of my best promotional efforts in terms of sales had nothing to do with typical promotional techniques. Being Writer in Residence at Vancouver Public Library in 2018 resulted in a huge increase in sales of my Harlequin Superromance titles. If I were to guess why this happened, it would be because I was at the library, available to authors and readers, and it was well-publicized to a large audience of people who frequent the library.


There’s a lot of talk about author brands these days. How would you describe yours and how do you support it?

I would describe my brand as uplifting romantic stories about ordinary people. My romantic suspense books, although addressing danger and suspense, still offer an uplifting message. I like to think that as romance writers we have a very powerful message for readers today--one of hope, of revival, of believing that regardless of what’s going on, we will always need to read about people who find a loving relationship.

As to how I support it, I endeavor to have the tone of my newsletter and my blog equally positive and hopeful. I write books that are uplifting, and any promotional materials I write about my books are also uplifting.


How valuable do you find conferences as far as book promo is concerned? And are there any writers’ groups or organizations you consider valuable from a promotional standpoint?

I don't find conferences very helpful for book promotion. When you look at what it costs to go to something like the RWA conference, you have to sell a lot of books year-over-year to recoup that money. Or be a high-sales-volume author. However, there are other benefits to conferences that make them worthwhile, especially the networking opportunities.

So far I have not found writing organizations helpful from a promotional standpoint. I think that's due in part to the fact that writing organizations are about writers, not about readers.


Amazon is a major part of the publishing landscape these days. Does it figure into your book promotion?

I find that Amazon dominates the market to the point that you have to be involved with them in whatever form. I do advertise and I occasionally have books on KDP select.


Any other advice to add on this subject?

Promotion is an evolving process, changing quickly to meet specific demands for different types of books. For me, that means always being open to doing things differently.

BRENDA NOVAK


Brief bio:

Author Brenda Novak is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than eight million books in print, translated into twenty different languages. An eight-time Rita Award nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Silver Bullet. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.6 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.


Brenda, what are your favorite (and in your view, most successful) promo strategies?

Brenda Novak’s Book Group on Facebook is probably my favorite promotion strategy. I started it with my daughter, Alexa, who still helps me run it. In the beginning (four years ago), we imagined introducing my books, and the books of other authors in the months that I don’t have a release, to about 400 dedicated readers. But it’s grown so fast! We have 17,500 avid readers now and have instituted many fun programs. (To see what we offer, visit www.brendanovak.com and click on the Book Group tab). Keeping the group engaged is a huge amount of work, but it’s been so rewarding. These readers aren’t only supportive of my work; they’ve also become friends and have enriched my life in other ways, too.


Your website, your newsletter and your on-line store are all highly popular. Tell us a little about them.

When my daughter suggested we start a store on my website, I’ll admit I wasn’t initially excited. I was imagining how much work it would be to manage all the shipping, but I’m really glad I decided to go for it. We’ve started a monthly book box subscription filled with autographed books and other goodies; curating the contents, posting about them and packing/shipping the boxes—it’s all been so much fun! It’s gratifying to sell out every month and to hear from readers who enjoy them. They give people something positive and entertaining to look forward to--especially during this difficult time--and I think my boxes are the only ones in which the books are always autographed, which makes them great to collect, as well.

I also do a lot of interviews, as I interview the author of the book we’re currently reading in our book group each month.

What do you see as the role of endorsements? How important and effective do you consider them? Have you arranged for any on your own (vs going via your publisher)?

It would depend on who’s giving the endorsement. If it’s someone readers trust--a Big Name author with a large following, or an expert in a particular field that makes it relevant--that helps establish credibility, which can be important in certain circumstances. It’s also nice to be able to post about them on social media. Nancy Thayer gave me my latest endorsement, and I’m so excited about it. It’s going to be perfect for The Bookstore on the Beach, which is a women’s fiction title similar to her books.

Some endorsements I personally request, but my editor also approaches other authors.

Are you running any contests these days? What are the prizes and how do you choose the winners?

I love Costco and their food-sampling initiatives. I think most people do. So I’ve tried to take a page out of their book (pun intended) and almost always give away a sample of what I’m trying to sell--an autographed book or one of my Brenda Novak Book Boxes, hoping whoever gets that “sample” will like it well enough to become a paying customer in the future. To me, this is the giveaway that makes the most sense. As far as choosing a winner, we just do it randomly.


How would you describe your brand and how did you go about creating it over the years? What role did your own promotion play?

I would characterize my books as emotionally engaging. I like a strong conflict--that’s what makes a book a page-turner for me. So that definitely needs to be represented in my brand. But it’s easy to describe my work. Other parts of my brand are more difficult to define, since a brand encompasses me and what I stand for in addition to my work. It’s not only my writing, it’s how I engage with readers, how I represent myself online and in person, what my newsletters are like, etc. My goal is to be transparent, credible, reliable and sincere, always, and to do what I can to make the world a better place--with my promotion, with my writing, with everything else I have and do. So I guess that would be my brand!


Have you done any joint author promos?

Yes! Debbie Macomber and I were recently involved in a huge promotion. We formed a special holiday group--Holidays with Debbie Macomber & Brenda Novak--on Facebook, where we are featuring guest authors, sharing traditions and recipes, and building excitement leading up to a big virtual Christmas party. We had a special custom Christmas ornament manufactured (by the company that makes the collectible ornaments for the White House) that we offered in a special party package, which also included autographed copies of both our Christmas releases.

2020 was the inaugural year for the holiday group and the party, but we plan to do it bigger each year (and to offer a new ornament for our readers to collect along with our latest books).


An obvious question, but how important is social media to your promotion strategy? And how do you connect social media activity with your other promo work?

The importance of social media cannot be overstated. From a promotional standpoint, it’s a huge part of what I do. Along with my newsletter and website, it’s my conduit for getting word out about everything. I’ve built my book group exclusively on Facebook, for instance, so I’m very careful and thoughtful about what I post and when. Every author should have a social media strategy.


Amazon—I’m asking everyone this because it’s such a major part of the book business now. Does it play a role in your promotion? What and how?

Amazon doesn’t play much of a role in what I do. They interface exclusively with my publisher. Because I don’t own the copyrights to my books, I have no access to paid advertising on their site. But they often work with my publisher to promote my titles via a sale or other placement, and I always support those efforts with posts to social media and/or a newsletter.


Do you frequent any other book-related sites?

Bookbub is less effective than it used to be, but it’s still the most effective promotional site out there. I’m happy to pay for any inclusion I can get in their discount newsletters (although, thankfully, my publisher usually takes care of this).


Do you participate in reader groups—in person and online? (Exclusively online these days, of course.)

I do, especially my own reader group. We have monthly book group meetings, Bingo nights, unpacking events with my monthly Brenda Novak Book Boxes, wine classes, Facebook live events from the various places from which we’re sourcing our box contents and other things.


A clever small-scale promo idea of yours was to place free copies of your books in the small “libraries” on people’s front lawn.

Yes, I was actually able to get on two different local news programs doing this.

Any additional recommendations?

Nope! I think you’ve covered it all.



TARA TAYLOR QUINN


Brief bio:

The author of 100 original novels, published in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over seven million copies sold. A five-time RITA finalist, Tara frequently appears on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She is a National Reader’s Choice Award winner and has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Tara is a strong supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. (If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.)

I’ll start by asking what you consider your most effective promotional strategy.

I feel like I’m re-inventing it every year. I think being authentic, if that’s a strategy, would be my most effective one, and staying educated in terms of new avenues of promotion. I’m also working with a publicist for 2021’s five releases and hope that turns out to be effective so I can continue to do it!


Tell us about your website. What do you include? What would you describe as its role in your book promotion?

The front page features current and upcoming releases, first and foremost. Also, the top, has drop-down menus. There are tabs for all my books, organized in various ways for visibility. For instance, “Holiday Books” has a tab, but those books might also be listed under their publishing programs, i.e. Harlequin Special Edition, Superromance, Romantic Suspense, etc. There is an “About Me” tab, an “Upcoming Appearances” one, and a “Just for Fun” tab--all so readers can get to know me if they choose. There are also “Follow” buttons on the front page to find me on my social media, and a link at the bottom to join my newsletter. The rest of the front page varies, depending on what I have going on. Right now, a .99 store is featured. Click that graphic and you’re taken to “Buy” links for books I have at .99.


You also have a regular newsletter, correct? I know you sometimes offer free books to readers—have you found that a good promo approach?

I do have a newsletter and have consistently had it for twenty years. It’s an e-newsletter now, of course. I do offer free books, but mostly my newsletter is saved for new release announcements, or other happening-in-the-moment information. And I always include another author with a new release in the newsletter. Generally, when I have a new release, I have some kind of celebration (Facebook Party or a blog tour, for instance) and the newsletter has links to the fun. I’m finding that, right now, my newsletter gets the most link clicks–over Facebook parties or Twitter events.


How would you describe your brand (a word often heard in the author and publishing world these days)? How do you support it?

Intense emotional fiction. I’d describe myself as intensely emotional in general, so I concentrate on being authentically me in all my endeavors, whether promotional or otherwise. I’d hate to meet a reader and have her think me fake because I’m not the way I appeared to be on social media.

I also support my brand in terms of choices I make for appearances and giveaways. For instance, I give away packs of tissues with a book cover featured it on it. Readers tell me I make them cry (in a good way) with my emotionally intense stories.


Tell us about your activities with reader groups—readings, discussions and so on. In these pandemic days, you’re doing them online, correct?

I’ve been doing them online for a few years now–so the pandemic’s made no difference in that regard. I’m a co-administrator of two different Facebook Reader groups. I arrange huge multi-author, multi-day parties, usually at least one a year, and they always get a great response, both in link clicks and comments. I also take one day a month to spend with the readers in the group, always with giveaways.


Are you running any contests these days (and/or in the past)? What are the terms, the prizes and how do you choose the winners?

I have a continuous giveaway on my website. For every 50 original entries, I give away one free e-book. I get upwards of 100 entries per day. I also do new contests for every release.


Do you belong to any writers’ organizations? How valuable do you find them?

I still belong to RWA. Though I’m not currently seeing any promotional benefit from it, I’m there for many reasons and remain hopeful that it will be of professional help to me again. I’m also a member of Novelists, Inc.

Do you find conferences valuable as a promotional opportunity?

Depends on the conference. Some of the reader conferences are great. Others, not as much. I find the RWA national conference beneficial on a business level as I meet with all my publishing professionals, and with the authors I’m working with on continuities, etc.


Tara, can you make any other recommendations regarding book promotion by authors?

I think it’s super important to be out there, and to use various avenues, various promotional opportunities in terms of blog tours, tweet splashes, advertising, etc., as there are so many available, a lot of them with impressive follower numbers--and yet, you saturate them fairly quickly. I also think it’s important to be in at least one place consistently, every day or close to it, so those who need the little pick-me-up you give them in your books can find it every day. I use Facebook for that. Post pretty much daily. I’ve gained loyal readers, some who have become friends I’ve never met. I’m also paying more attention to BookTubers. YouTube’s BookTuber world has grown impressively, with many thousands of reader followers, and because I like watching the videos myself, it’s an area I’m trying to focus on more with my promotional efforts. Again, though, in that world, you have to be authentic. Not just someone trying to sell something.



SHEILA ROBERTS


· Brief bio:

Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She did a number of things before settling into her writing career, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. Her band days are over, but she still enjoys writing songs. Sheila's books are bestsellers and have been made into movies for the Lifetime and Hallmark channels.


Sheila, what would say has been your most effective promotional strategy to date?

I think it’s almost impossible to nail it down to one thing. I do a lot of things: meet with reader groups, interact with readers on Facebook, buy ad space in newsletters such as Fresh Fiction’s. They all work together. I’ve done book signings for years, and while many authors don’t feel they’re effective when it comes to attracting large numbers, I’m still a fan. You send out a newsletter announcing your book and Suzi Q Reader says to herself, “Oh, I must get that.” Then she moves on to the rest of her emails or her Facebook feed and often forgets all about it. I always feel that someone showing up at a book signing pretty much guarantees a sold book. Having said that, I’m a huge extrovert and I love any kind of gathering. For someone who’s shy, this might prove more stressful than beneficial. One move I will say I’m glad I made was to hire a publicist. Publicists have connections most of us don’t and keep their fingers on the pulse of the business. A good publicist is worth his or her weight in gold.


Your website is an important aspect of your book promotion. Tell us a little about it.

I have a website (www.sheilasplace.com) and I try to keep up the blog, recipe and contest pages, as well as providing samples of new releases. I know readers visit it, but it’s not my favorite promo activity. On the other hand, I really enjoy having a Facebook “like” page and feel many of my readers there have become friends.


Are you running any reader contests? If so, what do they involve, what are the prizes and how do you choose the winners?

I do a lot of giveaways, both on my website and on Facebook. We put up a contest on the website for every new book that comes out, as well as to celebrate major holidays such as Christmas. I usually have one up for Mother’s Day, as well. Prizes can range from chocolates to a copy of a book teamed with something smaller, such as a bracelet. We ask a question and readers leave a comment, then we choose a random winner. For example, on Mother’s Day I always encourage readers to post something wonderful about their mothers.


Brand has become a popular concept when it comes to authors and author promotion. How would you describe yours? And how do you support it via book promotion?

Fun. My books, of course, have their serious moments, but they are primarily escape and a light read. They often contain recipes. To that end, I keep things light in my promotion, too. I don’t take political sides and I avoid depressing content. There are enough people out there doing that. I don’t need to add to it.


You’ve been involved with signings, reader groups, etc. in the past. How valuable do you consider that? And what about now during these “social distancing” times? Are you doing any promo or reader group activities online?

Thanks to Zoom, we can still be involved with readers. I’ve enjoyed a number of Zoom events and have also scheduled meets with various book clubs.


How involved are you with social media? And what would you say is its primary role in your promotional activities?

I am very involved with Facebook. That’s where my tribe hangs out. I also love Instagram, although I’m new to it. I feel, as an author, that it’s important to establish a relationship with your readers. The days when authors could just hide out and write are long gone. Readers want to be welcomed into the lives of the authors they love.


You’ve published a number of books with traditional publishers (your fiction) and you’ve self-published non-fiction. Do you handle the promotion in different ways?

I’m afraid I don’t do as good a job promoting my non-fiction as I do my fiction. But the same principles apply. If you’ve got something to say, you can promote it in whatever way works best for you.


Amazon has become an inescapable part of the book world. How important is it to your book world?

As with almost every other author, it’s hugely important. And getting pre-orders has now become a big deal, as well. With the whole Covid thing, people are doing a lot more shopping online.


How valuable do you consider author endorsements—giving and receiving them—to promoting your books?

I think they particularly help a beginning author. If a reader is browsing and sees an endorsement on a book cover from a writer she loves, she’s probably more likely to take a chance on that book.


Is there anything else you’d like to include?

Only that I think it’s important to have a plan for how you’re going to make people aware of your book. This is a business, after all–a creative business, but a business just the same. You need product, but then you need to make people aware of your product. You have a story to tell. It’s in your best interests to make sure people hear about it.



THE LAST WORD


I’m leaving the last word to ANN DEFEE, author and co-owner of Bellastoria Press. As a "feel good" author Ann DeFee infuses humor into her stories of romance, mystery, magic realism and family relationships. A multi-award winner, Ann has written twelve novels for Harlequin and an additional three for Bellastoria Press. She’s currently working on two additional books. Her awards include—RWA RITA Finalist in two categories, RT Best First Book Finalist, Book Buyer’s Best for Long Contemporary, Reader's Favorite Gold Medal in Magic and Wizardry (Believe in the Magic), Chanticleer Somerset for Women's Fiction (Believe in the Magic), NYC Big Book Award Winner for Fiction (When the Magnolia Blooms), Book Excellence Award finalist in Romance (When the Magnolia Blooms), NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite (A Summer Place), and a Book Excellence Finalist in Fiction (A Summer Place). The latest good news is that Believe in the Magic is a Legacy Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize in Fiction.

To paraphrase one of Winston Churchill quotes, “Marketing is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” Unfortunately, that key is elusive. Marketing, discovery, promotion—whatever you want to call it—is a moving target. What works today might not work tomorrow, and a lot of it depends on the genre and the number of books you’ve written. Romance readers—and many other readers for that matter—are fans of the free and reduced-price sites. For this to be profitable, you’ll need several books in a series, tempting the reader to buy your full-priced books.


Six years ago, I used seven different sites for a free book campaign. Much to my surprise I had almost fifteen-thousand downloads, and I also sold a number of full-priced series books. But typical of the ebb and flow of the marketing game, I did a similar promotion last year and it was a bust.


In 2020 I did a Free Booksy promotion every month. In addition to the sales of series books that I had, I also had a large number of KU free-read pages. KU is a KDP Select program that allows a reader access to as many free pages as he/she might want to read. The author is then paid (a pittance) on the number of pages read. Per month, my KU page count has varied from 30K to 70K. For me, the benefit of KU is that it introduces my books to a large audience, and discoverability is everything in the book world.


My latest release, A Summer Place, is a story about an unrequited love that endures mishaps and near misses through the decades. I set this high school reunion tale in my hometown in South Texas. Working on the theory of associations, we sent out several press releases—and got two hits. I was featured in a front-page article in my hometown Sunday paper, and I also had a spotlight in my university alumni magazine. That didn’t translate to huge sales, but it was a tremendous validation.


Book contests are another avenue for being discovered. My magical realism books, Believe in the Magic and When the Magnolia Blooms, have cumulatively won or were finalists in five national awards. My muse and I are delighted; however, the sales…


Despite the ups and downs of marketing, as writers we continue toward our destiny—writing books that people love to read. Just remember that Margaret Mitchell of Gone with the Wind fame lived in a small apartment in downtown Atlanta. And, as a cautionary tale, she was on her way to the cocktail bar when she was hit by a cab and killed. Hmm. I wonder if she knew Ernie Hemingway…


Thanks to the Authors!


Again, I’d like to thank all the authors who so generously participated in this blog, sharing what they’ve learned about promoting their books. I appreciate the way they’ve included both the personal and the professional in their responses, and I value the honesty of their evaluations.

I’m also impressed by the huge array of possibilities! And I know that any author, regardless of his or her experience and mode of publishing, can learn so much from everything presented here.

Because we worked on this blog during the Covid pandemic, the authors I interviewed addressed the changes in promotional opportunities—emphasizing, of course, the many online options. There are frequent references, as well, to the pre- (and post!) pandemic activities, including live signings, bookstores and library readings, etc. Once our world has returned to something approximating normal (or what we used to call “normal,” anyway), we’ll probably do an update.

In the meanwhile, is there a better time for reading? Or writing?

Paula


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