3 S.R. Johannes: Any questions about Marketing I can answer for you?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Any questions about Marketing I can answer for you?

Wed and Thursday are "marketing questions?" day.

Does anyone have any questions about marketing I can answer for you? These can be about marketing to agent/editor, to peers, or to book buyers (librarians, bookstores, kids, bookclubs, etc)

Add your question to the comments by midnight Thursday night and I'll answer them for you. :)

For free! ;) (My clients are all cursing me right now)


Kelly Polark said...

I have a question for you, Shelli!
I have noticed the titles and summaries of your novels and PBs you have written on the right side. I wondered if you have ever (or know of anyone who has) received any contact from editors or agents about these. I have been considering doing a similar thing as yours on my blog...but for some reason am nervous about it (could someone take an idea? is it too much info?) ! But then again, it shows others how many complete books you have written. What are your thoughts on all of this? THANK YOU!

Lingua said...

Dear Shelli,
I've noticed that a lot of radio programs for children feature fairy tales and folk tales that are presented on the air via audio tapes. Have you found that the vast majority of these kids shows will only accept audio tapes rather than do live author book readings?

BJW said...

What's the three best things a writer can do to market themselves/their book?

Three worst?

And what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
And least favorite book you've read?

You're awesome Shelli.

What's up with the Bachelor/Bachelorette though? Where else in life can you date 20 people at the same time, fool around with all of them you can and the morning after an "overnight date" tell somebody else with a straight face that you think you love them. I may be a dude but even to me this doesn't count as ROMANCE.

So when you say Wes was dating someone else or whatever, isn't she too? Three of them? Ah but he lied about "it." But isn't this whole show about that very "IT"?

I'm just having fun with you, I watch shows much more stupid than this. Okay, a little more. Let's call it even. (see ultimate fighter reality show)

lisa and laura said...

Hmmm...I'd love a quick check list of all the things aspiring writers should be doing from a marketing perspective. Just a quick rundown, like blog, website, facebook, etc. I'm sure that I'm missing opportunities to get ourselves out there.

Also, I'd be interested in a step by step plan for building buzz for your book on-line. There are several authors who have done a fantastic job of promoting themselves and it would be great to compile all of those learnings into one "how to" post.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Kelly - good question.

No editors and agenst have emailed me. But I did have one of my frequent readers (she knows who she is!:) email me offline and give me her agent email address saying her agent would love my books. Wasnt that so nice? And she was right the agent did - the agent also was one of my several offers in the end and in my top 3.

I will say my agent has received emails from editors that have said they found my blog and read my summaries. They asked to read the books when they are ready for sub. I also had an editor reach me So through twitter after I tweeted my book in 140 characters (i was doing it for fun to see if I could get it down to that). You just never know!

I personally am not worried about people taking ideas. You are a unique writer and much further along. I would not put your whole plot out there but what you put in a query letter should be fine. Its up to you though.

I say - do it! It can't hurt right?

Good luck ;)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Lingua - Thanks for coming :) I love finding new bloggers!

That seems to be the new trend. why?

For 2 reasons - 1) it is easier to schedule. They just play a tape. They do not have to figure out commercial time and other stuff around the slot. 2) Let's face it, most people do NOT have a radio voice.

With my clients, If they do not do regular speaking engagements and have exciting voice inflection, a they can do ok. You dont want to mess up on a live radio show. If you speak/teach regurlarly, I would let the radio show know.

Kimberly Derting said...

Oooh, I want to second Lisa and Laura's request for checklists! I love that idea!!!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...


dont even get me started on Bachleorette :) Wes lied to everyone and then bragged about it. Grrrrr.

back to marketing -

3 best thing
1) must have web presence
2) must network
3) must give back

bad things
1) talk to freely on a blog.
2) think they dont have to market
3) ignore people until they need something.

my guilty pleasures -
1) writing - i do feel guilty when it takes away from kids but i love it!
2) Hershey's pomegranate speckled (sp?)dark chocolate squares - yum!
3) mani-pedi

fav book - recently? Elsewhere or a reread of Peony in Love. Of All time? - Travels with Charley (J. Steinbeck)

You rock too :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Lisa/Laura - good golly - that was chocked full. I should charge you just for posting ;)

Essentials? I would say
WEBSITE - a professional one!!!
Facebook (i think myspace is going away)
Networking/meeting people

what authors are you referring to? good post idea.

If you look under my marketing/advice tag - I have some posts on step by steps to marketing that you may not have seen. They are older but always relevant :)

BJW said...

Perfect! Can you tell us/me more about talking too freely on blogs? I worry about that some. Blogging is such a spur of the moment thing, and then it's out there. Also sarcasm doesn't come across as good when it's not in person. Seems easy to miscommunicate. This is really good thank you!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Kimberly - that's not a question! Freeloader :) tee hee

Shelli (srjohannes) said...


I always save my entries first and then reread it later before I post live. YOu'd be surprised what you catch. I never talk bad about specific people (except Wes the weasel of course and those I rename for purposes of blogging :). I try to only discuss me and my POV. There is also a way to voice your opinion in a positive way. NO one wants to read negativity. You can be honest yet positive about a negative thing. If you reread a post and wonder if you shoudl post it - dont post it without editing or calling a friend first.

As far as sarcasm - I feel yah on that one. I am very sarcastic but I try to use smileys and little faces (or add in little comments like (Im bad arent i?) to be sure it is not taken in a wrong way.

Mame said...

Great comments! It's amazing the way digital media is taking a front seat nowadays.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Wow, thanks for answering all the questions so freely. I have so many I'd probably take up way more space than I should, so I'll just put a few.

My book is being released this year but it's with a small press and they don't have a large marketing budget. I have limited contacts and not much money to spend on marketing. Would you say working on-line to market would be the best way to get the word out? I have a website, I network on Facebook and Shoutlife and a blog. I love blogging but twitter scares me. Do you think I can reach just as many people blogging as twittering or do you think twittering is a worthwhile way to go?

Also, on my blog I write mostly writing related posts. Do you think I should expand my posts to encompass readers more when my book comes out or do you think readers like to read about writing and what an author goes through.

Thank you sooooo much, Shelli! Anything that helps me get a better idea of how to reach people is great! I write inspirational fiction and I am always looking for the groups or the places where readers who enjoy this genre hang out.

Kelly Polark said...

THANKS, Shelli!
Lots of great info right in this comment thread!! I have learned a lot on your blog!

Unknown said...

Is it too late???

Could you give us some real life examples of good aspiring author webpages? I've been working on mine (bethrevis.com) all day long, but I really wish I had some sort of measuring stick to hold against it. What should an aspiring author include in a webpage?

PJ Hoover said...

So many great questions. i'll just subscribe to the comments and learn from that!

Robyn Campbell said...

Shelli-when should an author begin thinking about press kits, etc? I've heard differing views on this. Just before book is set to debut? Three months before? :)Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelli! Thanks so much for doing this!
My YA releases next month and I'm trying to put together some programs for school visits. Do you think the best programs are writing related, or theme from the book related? Or, is it best to list options and let the school decide. Should I contact the school? who do I ask to speak to? And do you try and organize some kind of a book signing with the school event?
thank you thank you!!!
oooh, can I ask one other thing? I've had a facebook acct for awhile and it's personal with photos of my kids etc. Once my book comes out do I need to set up a diff facebook acct to keep some privacy? what's the best way to do that?
thank you soooo much!
Jennifer Jabaley

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

I say get your press kits, business cards, web sites, materials done as soon as you can. At least 6 months in advance. Most covers are finalized before 6 months unless you are on a quick schedule. YOu need to have those things done and BEGIN contacting people 6 months in advance of release date. Maybe not book signings or appearances but if you are trying to do interviews with magazines, or newspapers, radio shows. Alot of times they have schedules laid out 3-6 months in advance. They will ask for your media kit. Another tip is put your media kit on your web site so people have easy access to your information

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

beth - there are alot of good ones! But alot of ad ones too. here are a few recent ones i have visited that I liked:

Carrie Ryan's is good. it's simple yet professional. notice how it is not too long. http://www.carrieryan.com/index2.php

Mandy hubbard's is nice - see how her author brand looks nothing like her book brand? http://www.mandyhubbard.com/

Kimberly derting - her's is very similar to carries' in that it is simple and easy on the eyes. http://www.kimberlyderting.com/

Ally Carter's is fun and colorful. yet simple. http://www.allycarter.com/

some tips -

1) choose your author brand before your book brand.
2) you must have home page, bio, books, press, appearance. I woud not do more than 6 main pages (menu buttons)
3) flahs always looks more professional but is not a must.
4) think about who you are marketing to with your web site (agents, authors, booksellers etc) Most kids dont go to author web sites right off unless you get bigger and creat some exciting things on it. Web site is a summary of information for easy access not a resume book.

hope that helps!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

beth - if you want ASPIRING authors (ones who are not published yet but close :) - check out Lisa and Lauras' web site and Sarah Francis web site. I did Katie's web site - she has not filled it all in yet but you can see the look and feel.




Shelli (srjohannes) said...


ok let me take a breath :) and see if i can get through your great questions:

1) yes online marketing. It is cheaper. you can do virtual signings, definetely work your network through facebook/social networks (scbwi, conference engagements, blog tours etc). If you are not a blogger or tweeter - I would not start t. Do the things that come natural that you like to do. Look for online ezines and groups and web sites that fit in your target market and contact them.

2) as far as your blog. I htink until your book comes out - use that to metwork your writer friends, library contacts and those who do liek to read about writing and publishing process. Once your book comes out - if you want to blog specifically for you target audience, I would start a new one.

Remember - you have 2 different audiences - the book world - reviewers, publishers, authors, librarians, booksellers AND then the end readers. Keep all your audiences in mind and target each differently.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Jennifer -

1) FB - you could set up a fan page for fans and keep your FB for friends and contacts. OR you could open a FB author page and have your writing and fans be on there and keep your personal one for your friends and family. That is your preference. You can block your personal pics from view if you just want to have one.

2) Schools - this is a whole topic. I would also give options. Those depend on your type of book though. for example: if it is nonfiction - you could do a NF one and a writing one. alan gratz does a great job of these - check out his school visit page http://www.alangratz.com/appearances.htm

here are a couple of articles to get you started



Anonymous said...

thanks, Shelli!
Jennifer Jabaley

Anonymous said...

Can I squeeze in one more question? Regarding 'branding' yourself as an author - this is kind of tricky for me to understand - do you brand your style? as in "chic lit" vs. "literary"? when you said Mandy Hubbard's site brand was diff from her book brand - can you explain that a little more? thanks!!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Jennifer - I did a post on branding (tagged under branding label)


also read my interview with jenn Stark - a branding consultant (tagged under jenn stark label)


see if this helps.

Book brand is around the cover and genre. author brand is about you as a writer.

IN mandy's example - if you did a book jrand for herself it would be aroudn her Prada cover - blue with red and black maybe.

Your web site/blogs etc should be around your author brand. If it is your first book - it is not bad to do but as you have more books released - you will have to have an author brand b/c your books will probably all be different.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Wow, Shelli! Thanks for sharing all this great info - for free ;)

C.R. Evers said...

Great links!!! Thnx!