NOT QUITE A PR CAMPAIGN

Today on the Roundtable we would like to welcome back a guest author whom first came to visit us before her first book was released. Now her third will be in bookstores on May 19, and we are excited to be able to help celebrate her success! She is a wonderful writer and we have enjoyed her books, PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and DELICIOUS. We are eagerly looking forward to NOT QUITE A HUSBAND. Please help us welcome Sherry Thomas to the table!

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In the fall of 2007, a week before I guest-blogged here at Romance Round Table for the first time, this site featured one of the most helpful blog posts I’d ever read anywhere. That piece was Eloisa James’s detailed rundown of her PR campaign for her book AFFAIR BEFORE CHRISTMAS. It was an eye-opener.

Since then I’ve given a great deal of thoughts to promotion and publicity. Mostly along the lines of “That’s so expensive!” and “How do I know it will work?” When I went on the Meijer Levy bus tour with a bunch of very, very successful romance authors, I asked them what they did for promotion. Some said not much, others said they used to put their entire advance into it.

What we all want to happen is word-of-mouth. PR doesn’t really create word-of-mouth, love does. But readers won’t read a book until they know it exists. So then the point of a PR campaign, if a PR campaign has any point at all, is to create awareness and hope that awareness will translate into love, once a critical mass of readers have read and enjoyed your book.

With lots of new authors coming down the pipeline, I thought I’d try to provide the same service Eloisa James rendered me in 2007. Below I’ll lay bare for you my PR campaign for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND, price points and all. It isn’t much. But it is a best-guess selection as to what I think might work. Still, it is a virtual certainty half of what I have done won’t work at all—an optimistic assessment at that—and the other half, if it works, would only work in mysterious ways that might take years to work through a reader’s system before resulting in her interest, let alone her purchase.

And now, without further introduction, my PR laundry list:

1)Bookmark mailing

Author Gena Showalter recommended RT’s Booksellers That Care bookmark mailing. She also recommended Pat Rouse’s mailing list, which goes out to romance readers’ groups around the country and around the world (mostly Down Under). I did both.

Bookmark design from CrocoDesigns $25.00
Bookmark (10,000) printing & shipping from PrintPlace.com 329.25
One year Pat Rouse mailing list subscription 125.00
RT Booksellers That Care mailing fee 110.00
Mailing 7,000 bookmarks to RT 49.14
Mailing bookmarks to Pat Rouse list—domestic 135.33
Mailing bookmarks to Pat Rouse list—overseas 65.60
Address stamp and 100 6”x9” clasp envelopes 27.80
New color printing cartridge and mailing labels 31.91

The RT mailing was fairly simple. Okay, I say fairly simple because I entrusted the bulk of the work to my mother. She counted out 7000 bookmarks into stacks of 10 and rubber banded them.

Pat Rouse’s winter 2009 list contained 135 contacts. I drafted a letter, addressed it to each individual recipient (I wanted to make a good impression my first time), printed the letters one by one, signed them, made sure—twice—that they went into the correct envelopes, stamped my return address on all the envelopes and then spent an additional hour putting postage stamps on, because I stupidly went to a post office that still did the stamps thing. Took me probably a total of three whole days.

I also signed several hundred bookplates—which are basically labels on which I’ve put a little graphic–mostly for booksellers in Australia.

2)Website overhaul

When Frauke of CrocoDesigns did my bookmarks for the mailing, I loved the color scheme so much I asked her if she could make me a similar new background for my website. She said it wouldn’t match my current links and headers, etc. So I said let’s do a whole new template altogether. Frauke prefers WordPress websites, I was hesitant about it, so we settled on a php site. We also redid my MySpace page while we were at it.

MySpace template $75
New web template 175
New website implementation 300

I was going to do the implementation myself, but I was smart, for once, and handed it also to Frauke. I still do the maintenance and updating myself. And I’m responsible for all the content.

Hearing about Frauke is one of the luckiest coincidences of my life. She does exceptional work at exceptional price. The organization of information I borrowed almost entirely from Eloisa James’s website, which is the gold standard for both design and function. But mine costs only $500!

3) Blog overhaul

I’ve proved a pretty dismal blogger. I’m not that opinionated as a person—well, actually I am, and you pretty much have to break my head to change my mind, but I’m not really interested in telling other people what I think of stuff. And I’m lazy. Which makes me useless on the blogging front.

So I’ve cast about and lured a lovely, innocent lamb—Hello, Meredith Duran—deep into my lair of iniquity. Meredith is fun, erudite, and full of pep. I am hoping she will start some tremendous flame wars and bring me the notoriety I have never achieved on my own. So far she’s been very interesting, but very uncontroversial. But I have hope.

The monetary cost of moving my blog to WordPress is zero, unless you count the pleasure of taking my WordPress expert friend to lunch for helping me. But I’ve spent perhaps ten hours on my own searching for some good templates and then setting up both Meredith’s and my information on the sidebars.

With some luck, Meredith’s and my readers should cross-pollinate, though I fear to take this sentence to its logical conclusion. ?

4) Advertising

RT has raised its rates. I’d bought the inside front cover for both PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and DELICIOIUS. But when I looked at the new rates this year, I shook. I just couldn’t bring myself to plunk down $3,200.

I am not entirely without ad presence in RT, however. Bantam Books, my publisher, used to have a no-RT advertising policy. But after the Random House restructuring, that policy no longer holds. And I will appear—or perhaps I have already appeared—in a group ad in RT.

I have a half-page ad in the June 2009 issue of the RWR. I didn’t pay for it. I also didn’t pay for my ad in the August 2008 issue of the RWR. Instead, I wrote articles. Last time, on how romance get into public libraries. This time, an interview with Kris Alice Hohls, the publisher of German-language romance magazine LoveLetter. This is one of the few publicity activities I enjoy doing, because I learn something each time.

I will also have an ad presence on All About Romance. I’d always advertised on AAR, but I’d always been slightly reluctant. Because AAR did not air individual ads on review pages. And those, you have to think, would be the most popular pages. But now, under new management, that policy also no longer holds. And I gladly plunked down for a three-month ad campaign.

AAR 3-month ad campaign $243

Note: I paid for this campaign in 2008. Now the prices AAR have gone up. But they are still affordable. I already bought a 3-month campaign for 2010.

5) Impulse buys

I’m generally not an impulse buyer. But publishing is an industry that makes its participants nervous. I had a conference call one day with my agent and the publicist she’d hired for the Nelson Literary Agency’s clients. After the call I was just jittery, wondering if I was doing enough for my book in this tough environment.

So I went over the list of recommendations that the publicist I’d used for “PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS” had drawn up for me. What hadn’t I done yet from that list? Well, I hadn’t done AuthorBuzz. So let me do AuthorBuzz

And then, this past weekend, FreshFiction sent me an email, inviting me to participate in their Beach & Vacation special promotion. And who did they use as an example participant? None other than Eloisa James herself. Well, if it’s good enough for Eloisa James…

AuthorBuzz partial campaign $500
FreshFiction Beach & Vacation promo 89

6) The mailing list

I have a mailing list that came largely from a 6-month promotional package I did with FreshFiction back in 2007-8, on the advice of my publicist. But for a long time I hated having to put out a newsletter. It was timing consuming to make one, for one thing; I could never manage it in under six hours. Moreover it was the purest form of self-promotion I could think of—and I hated self-promo with a passion.

Until, one day, the light bulb went on upstairs. I could use it to promote others, duh. Since then, I have sent out newsletters featuring interviews with Tracy Wolff and Shana Abe. In July I’ll feature Meredith Duran. And toward the end of the year, Courtney Milan.

But in May it would be just me. I have an idea for it. It would be a mini-mini-National Geographic on the North-West Frontier Province, where 2/3 of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND take place. Should be interesting. But because it’s just me, I’m dragging my foot on it.

Cost of mailing list hosting with Janus Portal $10/month

7) The internets

Kresley Cole, notably, gave away an e-reader to promote her latest release. Her book went to #1 on the NYT. Related? Hard to say. If only we could observe the release simultaneously in two parallel universes in which one had the e-reader giveaway and the other didn’t!

The point of the big giveaway, and others like it, is usually to entice people to post widgets promoting your book on their websites/blogs/MySpaces etc. The hope is that the promotion will go viral. The chance of going viral, as far as I can see for my own book, is miniscule. I ain’t there yet.

But I do know something that works fairly well at building word-of-mouth. And that is giving away books, provided the books are good. I think my books are good. So I decided that instead of offering a big prize, I would give away all my 40 author copies—okay 39, I’m keeping one for myself.

I contacted blogs which had me guest blog before and asked if they would like to give away copies of my new book. And boy, did my ignorance really start to show here. For one, I started too late, only in April. For another, I had no idea that most blogs don’t just do giveaways out of the blue. They usually only do giveaways as part of guest blogging posts.

But folks have been very nice, nicer than I deserved, I’m sure. They have given me guest blogging slots. And they have said they’d give away my books.

To see a full list of my blog tour schedule, check my website. (http://sherrythomas.com)

And that, finally, brings me to the end of this epic post. (When I started, I had no idea it was going to become epic.) Let me know what you think of my PR campaign. Does it scare the living daylight out of you? Or do you think it’s puny? What do you think will work? Won’t work? What should I have done more of, less of, or differently? What great PR opportunities have you come across?

And yes, I’m giving away a copy of NQAH to a commenter. Fire away. That is, right after you watch another one of the few publicity things I enjoy doing, my book trailer. There has never been a romance trailer like it yet. Trust. :)

40 Comment(s)

  1. Welcome, Sherry! It’s wonderful to have you visit with us again. Love the trailer and you’re absolutely right — I’ve never seen one like this before. *grin* I have to work today, but I’ll check back in the afternoon to comment on your questions.

    Hope everyone has productive day!

    Laria Lee | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. I probably Tweeted about it, but my mother is a marketing exec so I love, love, love any and everything about promotion and public relations. As a result, this post tickled my fancy. Thanks for stopping by and sharing what you’ve done Sherry, I can’t wait to see how it all works out for you.

    Evangeline | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Holy crap! That seems a lot of promoting and not minuscule in terms of dollars. But then I must look at it from the angle of, you’re making a tidy sum on your books and can afford it. LOL. My promotion efforts, because I can’t afford something like this, will be on a much smaller scale. But can’t wait to read NQAH, know it will be another gorgeous read.

    Bev

    Bev | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. I’m exhausted just reading this! If nothing else, that will keep you busy. Love the trailer!
    Margay

    Margay | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hi, Sherry. Thanks so much for joining us again. Your experience and information are invaluable. Although not there yet in my career, I know that PR is one area about the business end that takes some work and some cash. Thanks so much for the detailed list of ideas, names, and amounts. I’m going to print this out for future reference.

    I LOVE the trailer! Unusual and terrific! I can’t wait to read Not Quite a Husband.

    Have a great day!

    Madison | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. Hi Sherry! Great to see you here! I have very found memories of selling your first book from when I was on the other side of publishing.

    It is great to hear all about your self-promotion. All of that matters and plays a big part in your sales and growth.

    Congrats on your latest!
    Sarah

    Sarah Tormey | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. Hi Sherry, and welcome back! Since I am eons away from the marketing stage (I still haven’t gotten past chapter 8), I will congratulate you and wish you great success. Perhaps by the time I’m a published author, there will be an easy button for promotion. :)

    terri | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  8. Welcome to RRT Sherry! It’s great to see you back.

    Thanks for all the great info on PR and Marketing. It seems as much work as writing the book. LOL.

    You’re doing a great job on both fronts and I’m sure that with your talent and wonderful voice you’ll soon be one of those authors that will need to do nothing at all.

    I’m very much looking forward to NQAH and wish you great success with it.

    Have a great day!

    Anastasia St. James | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. Welcome to RRT! Sherry!

    I have a question for you. Out of all of the promotion which do you fine the most cost effective?

    I’m still far from promotion as I haven’t yet sold, but I’m constantly thinking about marketing. All the information you have give us is fabulous. I’m not surprised at the cost but it is daunting.

    Renee

    Renee | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  10. Really great advice. Especially about writing articles, which wont cost you money but get your name out there!

    I agree with Bev though, I can’t afford most of this with my advance. I think people expect to get much more than what they’ll really get for a book. And because most advances are rather small, it’s easy to spend it all on promo. What’s your advice in that instance? If someone is only getting a few thousand dollars for an advance, should they use it all on promo? Is it really worth it?

    Also, another question. It seems to me that most of my promo keeps going to the same people, writers of romance that I already know. Whats the best way to get your book out there to just readers, new people?
    Thanks!

    Lori | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  11. Sherry, you’re very cost-savvy. And for those of you saying that she’s spending a lot of money…. This is damnably cheap. I’ve seen a *lot* worse. There are people who spend (easily) ten grand on a website, and more to have someone perform regular updates. And I’ve seen debut authors with not huge advances blow over a thousand bucks on the website budget.

    My question for you is this: You got reviews for Private Arrangements and Delicious in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal for your first books–very, very positive reviews. And Not Quite a Husband is a featured review in this month’s romantic times (what a coup!). Now, I know you can’t buy the positiveness, but there are tons of books sent in that don’t ever get mentioned in the first two publications, or featured in the second. Did your publisher send your books in for review, or did you? And if you did, what did you do to make sure that they gave them attention?

    Courtney Milan | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  12. P.S. When I talked to KN and LM, they were like, “Oh, you should definitely do whatever it is that Sherry is doing.”

    ;)

    So… printing this out, tattooing it on forehead….

    Courtney Milan | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  13. Hi, Sherry, See all that money you spent on your website worked. I found out you were guest blogging here.

    Have you ever given out cover flats in a contest? I just won three different autographed covers from Julia Quinn & Eloisa James and really liked them. Or do you feel that only established readers would enjoy receiving a cover flat of your novel?

    Kim | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  14. Hi everybody,

    Thanks for having me again. It’s great to be here.

    I think it is a very interesting question as to whether my PR campaign is expensive.

    The discouraging part is that this is the cheapest PR campaign I’ve ever run. Though you could also say it is the most encouraging part too, because I think it is the most tightly focused.

    You do not want me to lay out for you the costs for PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. I hired a publicist. She is a good publicist, but she did not come cheap. My bill came to $6000–and only because I refused to spend anymore than $5,000! Plus $2,600 for the RT ad. Plus a bunch of other things. Talk about hurting the wallet. (Publishing income is deceptive. You hear about the big round number, and then 15% go to your agent, and you pay double FICA tax, i.e. self-employment tax, and because you are a business, you have expenses, and nobody to reimburse you!)

    But my agent said to me,”You should go out with all your guns blazing for your first book!” And so that was what I did. I don’t regret it, though I still want to weep when I think of the money!

    Now onto more specific questions.

    Renee,

    For most cost effective, I’m going to say the AAR ad campaign, especially since now they run ads on the review pages.

    I did forget to mention that it cost me $25 to have banner and badge ads made. But AAR gets phenomenal numbers (12,000 unique visitors a day, according SandyAAR). And even if they don’t click through, your book cover, title, your name is there to be seen.

    Lori,

    I have heard the 20% rule. That you spend about 20% of the advance for your first book on PR. I totally don’t remember where I’d heard it from or whether there is any scientific reason behind it but that’s what I have heard. It seems a reasonable enough proportion.

    And don’t be surprised to learn people spent their entire advance and then some on PR. I spoke to Kresley Cole last September and she told me she used to spend everything on promotion until her latest book. Now mind you, she has hit it big. But is it because of what she spent or is it because her books are terrific and just what readers want?

    There is never a right answer to this question. My advice is don’t do it beyond what you can tolerate, either timewise or moneywise. Don’t push yourself. In the end it’s the books themselves that sell your other books–or not.

    Sherry Thomas | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  15. You’re right, about it being the book that sells. When I bought your first book it wasn’t because I’d seen an add but becuase I kept hearing from other writers how wonderful your book was.

    Thanks Sherry!

    Lori | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  16. LOL! Courtney, I don’t think you’ll have too much to worry about. You are out there networking and you have a tremendous amount of support.

    Yesterday, I went with Mr. Scott to deliver furniture (we own an upholstery business). The lady was in awe over the change, so much so that she said she was going to tell everyone at her open house coming this weekend.

    What I’m getting at is, we’ve spent more money than we should have on phone book advertising etc., especially when the bulk of the business we receive comes by word of mouth. I can say this is how I, and I’m sure many others discovered Sherry. Beverley Kendall was all over spreading the word about Private Arrangements, and I know many others were too.

    Coming from a reader, I think reviewers are vital to spreading the word, which I’ve heard the publishers aren’t sending out as many arcs, leaving that up to the author. Also, those little author notes on the front covers, I think do wonders. I mean if EJ reads your book and gives it praise then why wouldn’t someone want to read it. Having a network of friends to spread the word is a good deal as well. I know when Anna Campbell’s latest came out many of us moved her books around so they were on the new release shelf. Anna C has done a fabulous job of networking and people just absolutely love her. I’m a bit socially challenged :), but when I’m at the bookstore, I don’t hesitate to troll the romance aisles advertising books, I’ve done it for a few authors, not that they needed me, but it makes me feel good to watch ladies walk out with three books written by the same author.

    Renee

    Renee | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  17. Courtney,

    ROTFL on the part about Kristin Nelson and Lindsay M–the agency’s PR expert–recommending me as an example. When I talked to them, the impression I got was that I knew jack about PR and was @#$%ing doomed! Which was what spooked me enough to buy the AuthorBuzz package. (Which by the way, LM tried to get Bantam to pay for, but Random House has moved away from using that service, if I recall correctly.)

    About reviews in trade publications and RT, Bantam is very good at sending out review copies–it’s all them. I usually don’t send out anything myself, except e-ARCs to review sites I trust, and that’s when asked.

    What PW decides to pick upon is a mystery to me. I did, however, meet some of the reviewers from Library Journal–and maybe one from PW too, can’t remember–at a luncheon Nancy Berland, my publicist for PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, gave at the 2006 Nationals, as well as John Charles, reviewer for Chicago Tribune.

    Nancy Berland sent my books to some of those reviewers, and we heard back some time later from a LJ reviewer who loved it.

    DELICIOUS also got a starred review in LJ, but this time, it was only sent by Bantam. So it could work either way, is what I’m guessing.

    Although I don’t know what can be done to make PW take notice of your first book, I think PW romance reviewers are quite net savvy and monitor internet buzz. My evidence? They did not review Jo Bourne’s first book, but did for her second. Similarly, Meredith Duran’s debut didn’t get a review, as far as I know. Her second, yes, got one.

    Kim,

    LOL, I’m going to have to protest about money spent on my website. Really, before the recent overhaul, my website (beside the domain registration and hosting) cost only $25 for an e-book on CSS and $75 for graphics from CrocoDesigns.

    And the $300 implementation for the new site is CHEAP and how. I could have learned some php and done it myself but it would have taken me weeks of cursing and crying. (I know because I spent a couple of hours looking at the files Frauke sent me and ran back to her for help.)

    As for your question, you know who would enjoy getting cover flats? Independent, romance friendly bookstores. I hear a lot of them decorate their walls with cover flats they receive. Permenent advertisement, I say! I’d loved to have sent a book flat to all the shops on RT’s list, but Bantam only ever sends me 3 or 4 cover flats. Not much a campaign I can build around that.

    Lori,

    I realized I forgot to answer the second part of your question about how to get to readers. Try the mailings, RT and Pat Rouse. RT mailing go to 700 romance-friendly booksellers, who are your most effective link to readers. Pat Rouse’s mailing list go to romance book clubs, which are nothing but readers!

    Sherry Thomas | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  18. Sherry:

    Terrific info concerning your PR campaign. I hope to put it to use some day soon. And I loved the trailer. Good luck with the book, and btw, I am a big fan.

    Dede Harper

    Dede | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  19. Hi Sherry,

    Thanks for sharing the details of your promo campaign – very, very helpful. I’ve also found the Pat Rouse list and Fresh Fiction packages to be worth the time and money.

    I think the best thing I did in terms of promo was to make up my own ARCS and send them out to the Pat Rouse list and romance-friendly independant bookstores. I got really great feedback from that. I also had first chapter booklets printed up, which I sent out to bookstores and readers groups.

    Showing my ignorance here – what’s Author Buzz?

    Thanks for all the great info!

    Vanessa

    Vanessa Kelly | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  20. btw, Sherry, I love the video.

    Renee

    Renee | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  21. Thanks Sherry,

    Extremely interesting and practical information.

    TKG

    TK Gordon | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  22. Thanks for stopping by and offering your PR rundown, Sherry. That is the best book trailer ever. Thanks for the chuckle!!

    Arianna

    Arianna | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  23. Hi, Sherry!

    lolz great trailer :) hehe can’t wait to read it ^^ very interesting

    Huong | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  24. Sheesh! I need a nap. Sherry, thanks so much for all the info. I’m bookmarking this page for future reference. It all seems so costly, but I’m with you on self-promo. It’s a must. Like it or not.
    BTW…totally LOVE the new cover. Can’t wait to read it.

    Kimberly Killion | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  25. Hi Sherry,
    Thanks for the break down of expenses as well as the places to start. This info is going into my PR folder for future reference! Can’t wait to get my hands on NQAH. Delicious was fantastic!
    Jess

    Jessica Scott | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  26. Looks like you have all the bases covered. I’m going to book mark this in case I need it someday.

    I’m particularly intrigued by your video. Gotta check that out.

    Alice | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  27. Phew! Long day at work. I’m glad to see that there has been some interesting conversation here today.

    Wow, the cost of promotion is mind boggling! This is on the light end? Incredible! I’m not thinking along these lines yet as I’m unpubbed but I can give you my opinion as a reader and buyer of books.

    I know that some authors do blog tours now, and not just a few guest spots but a solid tour. I do tend to buy books from authors that I “know”. If their book sounds interesting, and I like them, they’ll get my business. I bought Anna Campbell’s first book because she’s not only a lot of fun, but one of the nicest authors I’ve met. I continue to read her books because she’s an excellent writer and I love her stories.

    I love bookmarks, and I collect them, but my book money dollars are short and I still use the same criteria when picking a book to buy that I always do. Favorite authors first, then new authors based on genre and storyline, and then recommendations. So, word of mouth, but the bookmarks do bring authors to my attention, and I guess that’s the point.

    If I hear of a new author and I’m interested, I’ll check out her website and an online bookstore for book info. I unfortunately have dialup, so ease of navigation is paramount for me. If there is too much flash, and intro that takes too long, etc, I’ll move on.

    I do like to go to some of the online parties when I have time and I frequently sign up for contests especially on Writerspace. I’ve won a few books and I’ve found new authors this way.

    And I do check out ads in my RWR.

    Sherry, a question for you — do you do local promotion, visiting local bookstores, book signings, that kind of thing? If so, what have been your experiences with that?

    Laria Lee | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  28. Hi, Sherry! So much good information, my head is spinning! I think CM had the right idea about printing it all off and doing some major tattooing. :) I haven’t seen your book trailer yet, it’s blocked at work, but I can’t wait. Sounds very interesting. Not to mention, I can’t wait to actually get my hands on a copy of NQAH! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your PR experiences. I’m betting there’s lots of note taking going on out there.

    Sasha Allgood | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  29. I learned a lot from reading this Sherry. I also love your site. They did a lovely job with it. The color scheme is fabulous. I saw this trailer when you were still on Blogspot… I just love it. I also saw the one on your sight… that one is really good as well.

    I am really looking forward to reading your book.

    Blessings,
    Lil

    Lilith des Cavernes | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  30. Welcome back, Sherry!

    The book trailer alone has to be one of the single most entertaining book promos I’ve ever seen – an excellent use of your advertising know-how. And I know many of us have been salivating at the prospect of reading NQAH ever since reading the excerpt that was included at the end of Delicious.

    Thanks so much for sharing your PR experiences. Although I do a great bit of marketing in “real life”, I stand in awe of the sheer volume and creativity of what you’ve done for just this single book!

    Question – Have you found book tours, both physical and virtual, to draw many new readers in, or do they tend largely to cater to existing fan bases?

    Kelly | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  31. Thanks for posting this info Sherry, although I’m a little freaked out by the effort you’ve put in to promo, not to mention the cost! If only we could spend some time in that parallel universe you mentioned and find out what worked. Thanks for sharing. Loved the trailer. Adore your books.

    Carolyn Scott | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  32. Hi Sherry! I heard so many wonderful tings on your new book. I’m excited about it! Wow I knew that it took alot to do promo but wow, that shows how much time it takes from you too! Some people have someone who does their promo for them. Maybe you will get to do that soon Sherry! Yes that video is unique for sure and priceless!!! LOL.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Caffey | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  33. Hi Everybody,

    Sorry I’m late. Kidlet’s swimming meet took much longer than I thought it would. It’s our first time and we had tons of fun. And he did not finish last–halleluia!

    And thank you so much for all the kind comments, especially on my trailer. I was giggling all the way through as I made it. :-) And thank you to my Austin RWA peeps, Dede and Jess, who made it out here.

    Yes, it is a shit ton of money–not to mention time, God, the time–to promote. And frankly I haven’t the least idea whether any of it works. But I guess I’m just that kind of a person. I’m told that I need to do it so I put my shoulder to the grindstone.

    That isn’t to say, however, that YOU cannot be the next J.K. Rowling, who probably didn’t do any promotion. With every book I wish that’s the case for ME, but the reality is that it’s unlikely.

    And to everyone who is freaked by the amount of PR, just remember, you don’t have to do it in one day. Or even one week. I did mine over several months. Sure it is like having to hold a wedding every year, but it’s still easier than writing a book, and at least I don’t have to go from door to door! :-)

    Onto questions.

    Vanessa,

    I’m not too sure what AuthorBuzz is either, exactly. I know they work through DearReader.com. And you get ad placements in emails from DearReader that go out to lots of people.

    As I said, for me, it was an impulse buy, on a day when I felt really awful about everything publishing.

    Laria Lee,

    I did one book signing each for PA and DELICIOUS. I hate book signings, so I didn’t plan for any for NQAH, except to have B&N come and sell books when I speak to my local RWA group.

    I actually didn’t start signing stocks until DELICIOUS had been in stores for 4 months. One day I went to a book store–I’d been homebound working on NQAH for a while–and suddenly realized B&N carried a lot of copies of DELICIOUS. Like 10 per store. I went into a small panic and signed all the stock in the stores nearest my house! :-)

    This time I’m actually going to be more systematic and sign all the stock in the entire Austin area. Don’t know whether it really works but booksellers always assure me it works better.

    Kelly,

    I went on a book tour sponsored by Levy Entertainment. We signed in 9 Meijer stores in various locations in Michigan. I think it was definitely a good thing, but it was also eye-opening how even New York Times bestselling authors might not always have fans come to visit them if the location was odd or the time was in the middle of a work day.

    I did have some people come up and buy my books out of curiosity. Or maybe because they were talking to the author next to me and felt bad for me that I was just sitting there! So there is some cross pollination in terms of getting a bit of another author’s readers, but it is not a huge happening.

    I’m also not sure about virtual book tours. But I’m slightly more hopeful. There are a certain set of readers who will comment and they will seem more familiar. But chances are there might be other readers who don’t comment, don’t enter drawing for prizes, who nevertheless leave interested in your book.

    It all comes back again to the mysterious working. PR, over and over again, has been shown to work. But I don’t have that kind of budget for the kind of PR that open a major movie. So I do what I can and I don’t worry about whether it is having an impact. I just assume it doesn’t. I assume it is like housecleaning–I don’t see the point of it but I still have to do it at some point. :-D

    Sherry Thomas | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  34. Hi Sherry,
    Not sure if I missed the chance for follow up but how far in advance to the release of NQAH did you start contacting blogs for scheduling guest blogging? What do you recommend?
    Thanks!
    Jess

    Jessica Scott | May 16, 2009 | Reply

  35. Reading this scared me nigh unto death, but since I’m still breathing, I guess I’ll print it out for future reference. Best of luck with your new release.

    Pat | May 16, 2009 | Reply

  36. Thanks so much for visiting with us, Sherry. Your post really was an eye opener, but will certainly help some of us in the future figure out what kind of promotion to use. Like you mentioned, EJ’s post impacted you and you’re paying it forward. Thanks!

    Good luck with NQAH! Hopefully you’ll come back and see us again, we loved having you!

    Laria Lee | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  37. Hi Jess,

    The campaign for NQAH is actually the first time I’ve contacted blogs. And I didn’t contact them about guest-blogging, but just to see if they wanted to toss a couple a free books at their commenters–for example, like Smart Bitches sometimes does. But most people prefer a little content too.

    I really should have started at least 8 weeks prior to my release date. The way I’ve written my post, you’d think I’m very industrious about PR. But actually drag my foot on it for as long as I can and didn’t ask anyone until end of April.

    And everyone, thank you again. It’s always great to be at the RRT.

    Sherry Thomas | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  38. I don’t know whether to be impressed or intimidated. But you certainly showed a lot of initiative rolling out the big guns for your books. And if it results in bigger sales and increased name recognition, you should have no regrets.

    Stephanie | May 19, 2009 | Reply

  39. Really helpful post. Thank you so much.

    Cat Rambo | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  40. Sherry -
    Thanks so much for a great breakdown of what goes into the marketing plan. It really helps.

    Tara | Jan 19, 2010 | Reply

2 Trackback(s)

  1. May 16, 2009: from Blog Hopping - Some Links | Monkey Bear Reviews
  2. May 27, 2009: from John Brown - the author’s official site » Blog Archive » Marketing: Awareness, then Love

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