Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Q & A: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing

Good morning!! Today's Q & A day, and I'm up to the plate. If you are new to our blog, I'm the Marketing Manager here at TKA and also do quite a bit with the web. Take advantage of some free marketing/website/book tour/promotions advice today and get those questions in!

I'm taking the first 5! Bring it on!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

I apologize if this has been asked and answered before.

I’m an unpublished writer getting started on creating a website. I have two completed manuscripts, with another one in the works. I’m in the beginning stages of entering contests and researching agents and editors. I’m a member of RWA and GRW and submit articles regularly to my local chapter newsletter. But that’s about it for my writing credentials.

What type of information do you suggest someone in my position put on their website? Do agents and editors even look at sites for unpublished writers?

Thank you so much for your time and help with this.

Tammy H.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 9:09:00 AM EDT  
Blogger JDuncan said...

As an unpubbed writer, I'm curious if you think there is anything effective I can do to make a presence out here in webland. Having a site devoted to one's writing is reasonably easy to do these days and have it look halfway presentable without spending any money. The trick of course, which I've yet to figure out is how to get folks to realize that it's there. Any useful tidbits in that regard? or just for unpubbed writers in general? Thanks for the feedback.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 9:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Hey Tammy,
First off I'm going to paste in an answer from a very similar question from last month. No apologies tho! This is a super question and one people really want to find the answer to (and it's not easy to find)....

"Another great question! I think it is a great move to have a nice website before being published. When considering queries, we often go to the potential client's website right off the bat. (*please note that we do not base our decision on the website of the writer...this was misunderstood during a previous post). What I want to see in your site is that you are serious about making your writing a career and are invested in the craft as a whole (writing under contract and deadline, promotion, etc…). The site doesn’t need to be complicated at all. A well written bio, a few well placed pics/graphics, a pitch of what you write, and regularly updated blog would draw my attention. Wanna add a little more, put news (keep it at least kinda relevant to your work—you write historical…blurbs and links on what’s going on in the world with the historical genre or great reads in your genre), writing tips or links to your writing groups (RWA chapter, other critique groups) and any awards that your work has entered or even better…won!

ALMOST any website is better than none at all. However, if you can do it, I would stray away from geocities/bravenet like sites. You want to show professionalism and a commitment to you and your craft. You want a domain/site that you can build on when you are published! Go ahead and get your pen name’s domain and put a simple site on it. That way when you are published your agent, editor, and you can really work on adding and building your current site and aren’t starting from scratch.

Plus, having a nice site (even if basic and simple…sometimes far better in my opinion!) opens up opportunities to build an online readership that turns into book buyers, such as the guest blogging that I mentioned in my first answer for Keri. I know of several authors that have built quite a fan base from writing basic fan fic or great blogs and these fans have stayed true to these authors all the way through print!!! "

Overall, yes we do look at the sites. We always click through if we find your query has potential. Show me a well crafted bio (not too casual, professional and in tune with what you write... show me how cool you are and how you have what it takes to be a full time author), a blog/samples of your writing, and what you are doing to launch your career. Biggest things are to have a clean, professional website that makes me think that you are taking your career seriously (it's not just a hobby) and show me your writing and platform (bio basically).

Oh and as I said earlier, grab the ... that's always a good step.

Hope this helps you out some! I'll try to do another post soon about some of my favorite websites and why.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 9:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Great question! I would say start off by making a very professional site and then embed a blog in it. Have people guest blog on your blog and make a huge effort to guest blog and network with other writers and blogs. The best way is "word of mouth" even on the net. You want to network, network, network! Find some blogs and author's blogs that you think are really good and are similar to your writing (both are nice to have, but just make sure it's a quality blog). Then, start commenting with intelligent, quality comments... with a link to your blog... your profile should have your blog linked. If you find a blogger/author that you really enjoy, write that person an email and start a conversation. Often that person will connect with you and check out your work. When your work impresses that person, not only do you have one reader, but you likely have a reader that will encourage others through links and other posts.

There are several ways to attract attention, but I find this one most successful and really puts your writing out there (which is the ultimate goal anyway!)

Great question! :) Remember, embed your blog in your site and link and network!! :)


Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 10:04:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since it came up in the previous answer, could you talk a little bit about managing a pen name (one that is not your own name) and publicity? I don't want to publish my romance novel under the same name I use for my other career, since I publish there too. But a web site usually has photos, and of course if I got to the point of signings, etc. it would be very hard not to have my face and my pen name out there together! I know, I should finish revising and submit the novel, but these are the kinds of things I worry about when I am doing the dishes...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 10:08:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Julie:

Do you have any general guidelines regarding how much in actual dollars to invest in marketing for that first novel and where those dollars are best spent? For instance, are Web ads or trade ads worth the money and exposure, and how much would you allocate toward them if they are? 10% of the advance? 50%? Or is better to dedicate that money to mass mailings to bookstores? Or what examples would you use?

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 10:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Btw, JDuncan... nice site and blog! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 11:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just simply a side note to JDuncan...

I checked out your website, which looks great, but all of your links under Useful Writing Links don't go anywhere - the beginning for all of them is 'http://http//www....'

Just wanted to let you know.

Morgan C.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 11:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

As for a penname, it truly depends on how much you think your two readerships will cross. Will your other publishing folks be romance readers as well? If so, then it's great to capitalize on this, but the penname still gives you a separate identity and the freedom to write hot stuff.

Truly, your website does not need to have your picture on it. The website can focus far more on your writing. Booksignings are a little tricky, but you can always schedule them away from your hometown and invite only those you want to know your double identity (grin) to the events.

At TKA we have a handful of clients that keep very separate identities in writing and their day job. These ladies do this very well.

Do think about how you would manage your penname with your current career, but I wouldn't WORRY about it. Many have and continue to accomplish this each day. With a stellar agent and possibly a quality publicist, this won't be a problem at all. We are used to managing pennames all the time in the biz.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 11:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

JDuncan... see you already got two new hits from commenting on this blog... :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 11:24:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Do you have any general guidelines regarding how much in actual dollars to invest in marketing for that first novel and where those dollars are best spent?

This is the basis of my position here at TKA: To advise clients how best to spend their money in promotions.

I hate to say this, but it truly depends on what you write. If you write paranormal or self help, you need an awesome website/blog/e-newsletter. Romance? RT ads, mail outs, and promo items. That's just right off the top of my head. The key is to create a plan that is unique to your writing, readership, and platform. Then hit all the places that your readership would be.

If you can do it, get a QUALITY publicist. Not just ANY publicist. Like an agent, a publicist's job is to be connected and have a reputation of only representing the best. When a bookseller receives a letter from such a publicist, she pays attention.

If you aren't in a place to get a quality publicist, ask your agent, fellow authors, big authors that you enjoy... how did you find out about YOUR favorite authors? What would make you try out a new author?

How to do publicity on a shoestring? Write an amazing press release. Give your target a GREAT angle on YOUR story and then send it out. Personalize each one. The more articles and interviews you get, the more free publicity you have. Give aways. Give away books, promo items... did I mention books? Sign your books. Get them out there... great places to leave books? Exercise clubs, nail salons, realtors, car washes, any place that people are sitting around waiting or sit around for a majority of their jobs. Strike up a convo with someone you see reading a book in the genre of yours... oh you like so and so? Me too! I'm an author too. I'm so excited to be published after all these years... I would LOVE to sign you a copy....

Word of mouth... your best tool and it's FREE!

So how much of your advance should you spend.... sit down.. take a deep breath... 100%. If you can do it, then invest in your career.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 11:38:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous curious writer said...

I have a question about novellas.

If an author has had a short story and a novella published along with another completed unpublished novella but is working on a full-length novel - when would it be best to query an agent for representation?

After the full is completed? Or would it ok to query with the novella since more publishers (Brava and Aphrodisia come immediately to mind) are taking novellas?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 1:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Curious writer:

Go ahead and finish the full ms. It's truly important in an author's career to publish a full novel and THEN go for the novella contracts. It will truly work in your favor that way. Go ahead and query when you feel your full ms is as ready and great as you can make it. I would mention your published novellas in your query letter, but wait til your full ms is done before querying.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 2:17:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Julie for your help today. Your answers to ALL of the questions answered quite a few I had.

Tammy H.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 3:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather said...

Can I second the thought that a professional website is vital? When I visit an author's website, nothing turns me off more quickly than a poorly designed website. As a web developer myself, I have a strict sense of aesthetics, and while I may be more nit-picky than some regarding a website, a poorly-designed site is more damaging than no site at all.

Monday, June 25, 2007 at 12:34:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous steve said...


I just published by POD today! What is cool is as I was talking to friend on the phone while obsessively monitoring my sales I actually sold a copy! Woo!

I created a website. Now I also obsessively monitor that also. I pour over the logs and stats and trace back referrers. - see how casually I slipped that in! Try yahoo small biz for a website if your looking at one. The email that comes with it has unlimited storage which is great.

Oh, this is one of the many agencies the rejected me.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 5:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mikeintrust said...

I am the author of an interesting and informative book that is self published. The title is "Sicilian Sisters: Women in La Famiglia" by Marianna, ISBN 0-595-28993-2. I would like to know how I can publicize the fiction novel. Thank you.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 6:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mikeintrust said...

Read Sicilian Sisters: Women in La Famiglia, by Marianna. The web site it that gives you excerpts about the exciting book.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 6:27:00 PM EDT  

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