3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (Agent)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (Agent)

Hi Joanna, thanks for agreeing to share your marketing tips with us. Before we get started, tell me a little about yourself.

Well, I'm the first literary agent that Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation has ever taken on board, and I couldn't be happier. Working with an industry veteran like Nancy has been invaluable to me--she's a fantastic mentor. Prior to working with Nancy Coffey, I was a literary assistant/junior agent at FinePrint Literary Management, where I also
sold audio rights. My taste varies, as you can see by my first two sales listed on Publisher's Marketplace--The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt (Rodale, winter 2010)--narrative non-fiction) and The Ghostwater series by Lee Nichols (Bloomsbury, May 2010--YA paranormal). I'm always on the lookout for something new, and if the writing is strong, it doesn't matter what it's about!

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

1--Definitely create a website.

2--If they haven't already, join a writing community (SCBWI, RWA, etc)--the writing community is one of the most supportive I've seen in any industry and your fellow writers not only make wonderful critique partners, but they have great publicity and self-marketing advice.

3--Reach your audience personally. I'm not more specific here because honestly, it depends on the book. For YA, a blog with contests and maybe even a blog tour is a strong marketing device. For a socio-economic non-fiction, it may be best to give lectures at colleges and business conventions. Either way, you need to reach that audience!

How important is technology to an author’s marketing plan?

These days, very important. Even that socio-economic narrative non-fiction writer wants a website and to set up a few interviews online. I know one author who gives lectures by webcam
when he can't be present himself, there are e-books, e-anthologies where authors publish short stories about the characters in their upcoming books, etc--there are some fantastic options for writers these days!

What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?

Take a very active role in the marketing of your book. There are still writers and authors
out there who expect everything to be done for them. With the publicists at the publishing houses spread so thin, this is unrealistic and will only hurt the sale of your book. You need to be a team player, and in fact, the star of the game. Send some copies out to local papers/magazines for reviews in your area. If you've published a children's book, visit some schools. If you've written women's fiction, look out for local women's organizations that you may be able to appeal to. Go on a blog tour, link up with some other author's for book signing events, attend conferences. If you won't be the biggest champion for you book, who will?

When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?


What things do Publishers offer in contracts in terms of Marketing? What does the average author receive or is it different, depending on the book?

Publishers don't actually offer anything in contracts in terms of marketing. The publishing
house's marketing plan is completely separate and varies from book to book. Each house
has a general marketing plan that they do for all of their titles, but if it is something they really want to push, they'll write up a specialized marketing plan for that specific title.
I would say that the average author receives placement in the company's catalog, and the book
is sent out for review to the usual line up (Publisher's Weekly, Romantic Times, etc). That's it. Scary, huh? This is why it is so important to champion your own book!

What are you looking for? What are you interested in?

Well, I represent a lot of children's books, from picture books to YA (non-fic to fic), covering every sub-genre there. As far as the adult market goes, I am looking for historical fiction, women's fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, dark drama, horror, some narrative non-fiction (although I'm very picky about this--I know what I like when I see it. Topics would be: food, environment, pop culture) I am NOT looking for: mysteries, poetry, screenplays, short stories, anymore picture books, corporate/legal thrillers, academic non-fiction, memoirs.

And if I didn't mention the genre that you write, it can't hurt to query me!


Katie Anderson said...

Great interview Shelli and Jo! *off to work on my website :-)

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Thanks for this.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

'nother great one! I love the energy in this. Thanks

Unknown said...

Excellent! She's one of the top of my list for when I'm ready to query!

Danyelle L. said...

I love your interviews! Thanks for all the great stuff. :D

Robyn Campbell said...

Shelli, as usual, great interview. And since I'm querying...:)

Casey Something said...

I love these interviews. Thanks for your take on marketing, Joanna!

Thanks Shelli. : )

lisa and laura said...

Fabulous interview! Jo is great and we should all do exactly as she says...

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, she seems great. Too bad she doesn't want PB writers.

cleemckenzie said...

Always nice to stop by and see what's going on here.

Enjoyed your interview. Good information. Thanks.

Kelly H-Y said...

Great interview, Shelli ... as usual! :-)

Hardygirl said...

Great interview! And, look how cute and young Joanna is!!


Christina Farley said...

Great interview! I really need to work on my website more. Oh and finish revising my novel!

Warren Baldwin said...


I linked here from Susan Mills site.

This was a very helpful post. I am self-publishing a book now and am looking for marketing ideas. I teach and speak, so I have frequent and varied audiences, plus I have a radio program, so several marketing options are already in place. But there is always more to learn.

On my blog I have a gadget "Writing Helps" with articles on writing linked to the author's blog. The links there are from blogs I have been following for a couple of months and picked out articles that I personally found helpful. I just found your site but already like what I have read. If you would send me a favorite article or two of yours on anything to do with writing, publishing or marketing, please send it to me and I will be glad to link it.

Again, very helpful post. I'll be back.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Your marketing ideas are really helpful for all self-published authors out there. Interaction on visitors is really vital. It keeps them coming back all the time. We will look forward to more of your interesting posts!

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