She's here to discuss success and failure in marketing. Here's what she had to say...
About three years ago, I sold my first book to Samhain Publishing. It was the most exciting time of my life. I was finally a published author. Once the glee and giddiness finally left my system, I realized that the book was coming out and I needed to get down to the business of doing business, pretty much the marketing of my own book.
Needless to say, I knew absolutely nothing about how to buzz up my book. Samhain was wonderful in sending a list of ideas on how to promote. The list was huge! It was overwhelming. I had no idea where to begin. So I tried to do them all.
* Built a website
* Sent out advanced copies to every reviewer I could think of
* Put up ads on different websites
* Mailed out brochures to bookstores small and big
* Blog Tour
* Printed cards, bookmarks, brochures, booklets, & flyers
* Called radio stations
* Sent out copies to newspaper & magazine editors & radio stations
* Contest giveaways, Prizes, etc.
* Joined chat groups
* Entered writing and cover contests
You name it. I’ve tried it.
A year later when the royalty checks started to come I realized -- I was in the red! I had spent more on advertising the book than I had made on the sales of the book. I was crushed.
I wondered what went wrong. I followed the advice. Did what other writers were doing. Did I forget anything? How could this be?
Well, life got in the way and the marketing of my book and writing sort of fell to the wayside.
I continued to write and decided I needed a crash course in beefing up my skills and learning more about this industry that I so desperately wanted to be a part of.
Well, in those three years I went to conferences, RWA meetings, met with other authors, talked with friends who were writers, scanned blogs about writing, took workshops and read so many books that I had to clean my bookshelves and invest in an e-reader because I had no more room in my house.
I picked up nuggets and gems and began to see the error of my ways. One book does not a fortune make. I plunged headlong into writing and focused on an idea for a series that I loved. Within six months I had banged out 3 books. Before I even sold one I took to buzzing up the books.
Now I have a new series coming out with Samhain Publishing and I realized that you can’t wait for a book to hit the shelves to get the word out on the street. You have to build up excitement even before the book comes out just like they do for the movies. Start the twittering even before pre-production.
From my failures and successes of my first book I was able to see where I made good choices and where I hadn’t.
This time around I will focus on my strengths and not spread myself thin. I will not spend a ridiculous amount of money on things that have no return. Now what works for me and what doesn’t may not be true for everyone, but for me I know I will focus on:
* Maintaining my blog/website (It is my image and I need to keep it up)
* Advertise only on book websites (Why? Because that is their specialty and they do it well)
* Glog (group blogging gets more eyes and traffic)
* Blog tour/ Guest blogging (Hopping from one place to another is exhausting, but well worth the new audience you garner)
* Bookmarks & business cards (amazing how easy it is to put these in someone’s hand and they make a great impression –make sure they have your website and book info)
* Stick to a few chat groups that focus on readers/books (I love to talking about my characters and I am always humbled that another person takes the time to discuss them with me.)
So, that is my strategy. But most importantly I understand now that I need to keep typing away and putting out stories for readers to read. In the end, my biggest success will be knowing that somewhere out there is someone else falling in love with my heroes and smiling.
A Note from the Book Boost: This is a great story and so often the case with many authors. It is difficult to know where to spend your time and money when it comes to promotion efforts. Thanks for joining us today and sharing your invaluable tips. Please tell us more about your latest book.
A predator stalks paradise and she’s next.
On a tropical isle, Frankie Montalvo discovers roots to a past she never knew. Tales of witchcraft, missing girls and el chupacabra surround her, but it will take more than superstitions to scare her away. Determined to create her own home, she enlists the help of an enigmatic beach bum.
She doesn’t want to fall for a drifter who will probably break her heart and move on, but when both she and her home are attacked, it’s in Rico’s arms that she finds safety and protection. All she’s ever wanted was to settle down and live life on her own terms, but someone has other plans and Frankie must decide—is Rico her lover or her enemy?
Special Agent Rico Lopez has been to the depths of hell and back. He returns to his native island of Vieques to forget an ICE mission gone wrong only to find himself caught up in the search for a neighbor’s daughter—a victim of the legendary el chupacabra. Paradise has a predator and all leads point to a dilapidated old plantation and its sexy as sin owner. Lying to Frankie is the only way to do his job, but is he protecting her or himself?
As the net around them tightens and their lives are put on the line, he’ll learn the greatest danger he’s ever faced is the risk of losing his heart.
Frankie studied him over the rim of her cup. He sat kicked back in the kitchen chair, one hand wrapped around the chipped mug she’d scrounged up. His eyes moved constantly, the mirth evident, though something deeper lay under his gaze.
“A job this big is too much for you to do on your own. What about your family? They must be worried about you, down here, all alone.” He spoke casually, but she sensed he was probing.
Similar to tactics her social worker had used whenever she got kicked out of another home.
“My problem. Not yours,” she retorted evasively. With both forearms on the scratched kitchen table, Frankie leaned forward. “Look, I don’t know what you want. If it’s cash, I told you, I’m low. Maybe tomorrow I can get some from the bank to repay you for fixing the truck and the supplies.” She pushed away from the table. “Want some more coffee?”
“No. I’m good.” Rico stretched his arms, sinewy roped muscle rippling beneath the thin, sweaty T-shirt fabric. She turned to pour herself another cup before she got caught gawking.
“So, when are you returning to New York?”
Frankie stopped mid-pour. Other than her name, she hadn’t told him about herself. “What makes you think I’m from New York?”
He shrugged. “I must’ve heard it in town.”
Frankie chewed her lip. She supposed he could have. She did recall mentioning it to one or two townspeople she’d met.
“What part?” he asked.
“What about your parents?” He watched her carefully even as he rubbed at a scar on the table. Her eyes fixed on his hand. Long, strong, calloused hands, good for construction work or strangling women.
Frankie blinked and tried to remember what he’d asked.
God, she must be more tired than she’d thought. She shoved the vision away.
“What is this? Twenty questions?”
He laughed, a deep rumbling sound, and he relaxed more into the chair. How anyone could look that stress-free, she had no idea. Must be Caribbean life. Frankie hoped in a year from now, when the renovations were over—if they ever would be—she could kick back and relax as easily as Rico.
“Just some friendly talk to pass the time.”
Frankie took her mug back to the table. “Time is something I don’t have much of.” She looked at the sunshine-yellow clock on the whitewashed plaster wall of the kitchen. “It’s late. You should be going.”
“Wish I could, but the roads up here are treacherous. Besides, I need a lift back into town and I don’t think Old Yeller out there can make anymore trips.”
“Guess you’ll have to walk.”
“Aw, you’d kick me out after all the nice things I did for you?” His hand over his heart, he gave her a fake pained look.
Frankie didn’t want to smile but she couldn’t help it. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re charming?”
“Mi mami.” He flashed her a smile.
Frankie rolled her eyes. “Fine. You can stay the night in one of the guest rooms. Might as well get used to strangers sleeping under the roof if I ever want to make Casa Verde a successful bed-and-breakfast.”
Rico gave a low whistle. “Ambitious.”
“You’re not kidding.” She held the warm mug between her hands and looked down into the dark swirling water, hoping to see a vision of her future, but it remained black. “When I inherited this place, I had no idea what I was in for, but it’s all I have.” She swallowed the uncertainty that lodged in her throat. “I’m determined to make something good here.” Her voice came out hard, even to her ears.
When she looked up from her beverage, she saw Rico studying her. “What?”
“Nothing.” He grinned. “Just thinking what a gutsy girl you are.”
“Gutsy. Never been called that before,” she mumbled under her breath before taking a sip of her coffee.
“What are your dreams for this place?” he asked.
A simple enough question, no harm in telling him. Yeah, right. People had a way of tearing your dreams down before you even had a chance to build them. Was Rico the type? He observed her with friendly interest. But so had a number of do-gooders who always wanted what they thought was in her best interest. All her years riding the system, based on feigned concern for her future, ultimately to be spit out on the street. Dreams? She had no dreams.
Frankie Montalvo was a hard-core realist. Working her way from a simple cleaning maid to the front desk manager at one of New York City’s premier boutique hotels. She may not have the fancy degrees or the wads of cash to make Casa Verde a smashing success, but she did have determination.
And the reality was that if she couldn’t make Casa Verde work for her, she’d be out on the street again, or worse, crawling back on hands and knees to her old boss to beg for her desk manager job back. If there was one thing Frankie Montalvo did not do, it was beg. But she also knew the deep chill of being broke, homeless and desperate.
Not this time. Never again.
Want More Gabriella?
Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals.