Category Archives: Book Marketing

Mystery author Jenny Hilborne talks about book signings

I am lucky to have the lovely Jenny Hilborne on my blog today. She is a mystery gal with a love for suspense and the author of MADNESS AND MURDER and NO ALIBI.

Jenny Hilborne

Jenny has worked in the retail music industry, residential real estate, commercial real estate and finance. She is the second of four daughters, born and raised in Wiltshire, South West England, and relocated to Southern California in 1997. Jenny began writing novels in 2007. She is a member of Wolfwriters, a group of professional writers who meet bi-monthly in Northern San Diego. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime. Madness and Murder, her first novel, was released in July 2010. She is working on her third suspense novel, also set in San Francisco, featuring the return of homicide inspector, John Doucette. Jenny talks with us about the challenges of book signings today in a e-book world and if they are even necessary.

Book signings
by Jenny Hilborne

With the e-market explosion, I want to examine book signings. They are often difficult to come by, and are they a wise investment of our time?

Take last month. I drove over 166 miles to a popular bookstore to sign copies of No Alibi, my 2nd novel. This bookstore is a place where celebs are known to stick their heads in the door and seek out a good read. Better still, I was invited to sign at the store. So, I was thrilled and excited to be there, not just to sign, but also for the fact a celeb might pick up my book. How cool would I look, then? Ha.

Unfortunately, competing nearby events stole a large part of my potential audience and the bookstore was almost deserted that day. Or maybe I’m just not a big enough name to draw a large crowd. YET! I sold one book, then trekked the 166 miles home.

This isn’t an isolated incident. I attend many book festivals and events, sometimes signing and other times browsing, and I see the same thing. Lots of readers I meet say they now read online (cool, most books are available for download) and tell me prefer to shop online, even for paperbacks. Some readers come to meet authors, or are drawn to a festival if they live close, but don’t buy. Some bring me a book to sign they already purchased (I love when this happens).

So, are physical book signings still worth the time and money invested? For most unknown and new authors, I’d have to say you often won’t recoup your cost, especially if the weather is crap or there’s another event going on nearby. Even if you sell well, you usually have to fork over a decent consignment fee to the bookstore, leaving you with very little if you sell books you’ve already purchased from your publisher.

Lots of people try to sell you their services at books events; editing, proofreading, publicity, and the like, all taking up the precious time you could be spending talking to potential readers. Lots of browsers don’t come to buy, they come to ask authors about the road to publication and try to pick up tips on how they can do it for themselves.

I’ve been asking myself why I still do them, why I get up early, give up my precious weekends, and drive myself hundreds of miles to stand up all day in the heat/rain/whatever and try to sell books, when I could stay home and market them on all the social media sites. The reason is I still believe face-face contact is one of the most important ways to connect.

Even if browsers don’t buy your book that day, you get something out of it. You make friends, connect with other authors at shared events, increase your social network, and raise your confidence level if you get the chance to speak on a panel. I’ve chatted with people and later discovered they are agents or publishers. Bookstore owners browse events – this is how I got invited to the signing I mentioned earlier (although I didn’t sell well that day, the owner has a new store opening and I was invited to sign there).

After some events, when I get back online, I notice an uptick in e-sales. This could happen days or weeks later, but those are sales I might never have made. I believe readers are more likely to give a review for an author they’ve met in person, and I believe they are more likely to hunt down your future works.

Catch up with Jenny Hilborne here:


Filed under Authors, Book Marketing

I celebrate becoming a published novelist

I am excited to have author Donna Galanti on today. Oops! That’s me!

Doing the happy jump

Because today is the day I can announce that my paranormal suspense novel A HUMAN ELEMENT is being published by Echelon Press! Catch what it’s about  here on my writing page.

I’m pretty dizzy about it. Yep. Due to release March 15th, 2012 as an ebook and in paperback on Amazon. (Note to self: put Kindle on Christmas list). Echelon Press believes in my story and I am thrilled to be publishing with them.

Hungarian Hussar. Imagine fighting in that get up?

It’s just fun to mention that March 15th is a Hungarian Holiday commemorating the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and their independence from the Hasburg Empire. I just love that my book will be associated with a revolution. Even a bloodless one. I have some Hungarian in me. I can feel it.
Back to excitement. EEK! Did I mention being dizzy?

What’s funny is this month I was a guest on Author Tony Eldridge’s blog Marketing Tips, a wonderful resource for authors. I highly recommend it. And my topic? Utilizing a career in marketing and business to get a book to market. Stop by here to read my article.

I didn’t get this book to market alone though (as I mention in my article above). Once I came out of my writing cave and quit speaking in grunted oohs and ahhs, I ventured out in the writer universe and met some wonderful people.

These are the kind of people that want other writers to succeed by sharing their experiences and techniques. People like authors Marie Lamba and Jonathan Maberry, teachers in my Write a Novel in 9 Months class. And my developmental editor, Kathryn Craft, who went above and beyond in her critiquing! The many workshops I took at the Philly Writer’s Conference led by the wonderful authors in the Philadelphia Liars Club.

Thanks to Karen Syed, President with Echelon Press who was the first publisher I ever met at my first writer’s conference, The Write Stuff. She spent time above the call of duty in reading, reviewing and recommending changes to my novel before I even signed with her. Stacy Green, who pointed out my head hopping, among other things! And my amazing pilot readers who took the time to read my book.

And then there are the countless number of new writer friends I have made along the way.

Supportive husband = happy writer

Too many to list here! You all know who you are 🙂

Oh, and let’s not forget one supportive husband who gave me time to write (happy 10th anniversary this week, Mike).

So, follow me on the path to publication. I’ll share it here. What’s your path to publication?


Filed under Authors, Book Marketing

My top sites on the craft and biz of writing & getting published

How to get from writing THE END to published. We’re all following the same road, so let’s learn from the masters.  A sampling of sites I cruise on a regular basis for help (umm..that’s every day!). I have so many, there’s sure to be another post with another list in the near future!

Somedays it feels like this...

Need info on agents? Get the scoop and their interviews!
Casey McCormick
Many of these YA/children’s agents also do adult.

Chuck Sambuchino
He just recently switched his blog to a new format, so takes time getting used to but can search on right hand side for blog categories.

Publishers Marketplace
A must have subscription. For $20 a month search for agents, editors, authors, publishers, new deals, jobs and more.

Free to join. Find agents and also find out who reps whom.

Query/synopsis/pitch help:
Agent Query
Hailed as the largest, most searchable database of literary agents. There AgentQuery Connect has great forums to post queries/synopsis for feedback. Helps to critique others. Good spot for info on agents and publishing process.

Public Query Slushpile
Open forum for critiquing with good, constructive feedback.

Great query writing resource and fun to read queries gobbled up, don’t expect to get yours in the fray though – easier to get a request for a full MS!

Pitch University
Get help on crafting your novel pitch.

Piers Anthony
Tracks industry news on publishers and other writing services. Take with a grain of salt.

Top 101 Indie Book Publishers
Title says it all, I think.

Blogs I visit often for advice on the general business, craft and industry news of writing:
Publishers Weekly
A must read to get hottest industry news in the publishing world.

BookEnds Literary LLC
Fantastic blog by agent, Jessica Faust, about – well – everything! Scroll on right side for must read posts, categories to search, resource links.

Jody Hedlund
Author who posts 3x a week with stuff you need to know about on writing, marketing and getting published, as one who has been in the trenches.

An annual online writing conference for children’s writers but tons of info useful across genres. Access to last year’s conference transcripts as well. Free but donations welcome! They just wrapped up this year’s conference.

Nathan Bransford
Agent turned author. Tons of valuable info here. Scroll left for publishing essentials, resource links and more.

Philly Liars Club
Great bunch of authors with real advice on making it in the world of writing. They also host a great monthly writer’s meet-up (local to Willowgrove, PA) and writing classes (I am taking the Write a YA Novel in 9 months with Author Liars Marie Lamba and Jonathan Maberry)

Blog by agent, Kristin Nelson with Nelson Literary Agency.

Joe Konrath
Not much introduction needed here. Successful writer with much to say about the industry goings-on.

Miss Snark’s First Victim
Regular online contests to win critiques and to garnish helpful feedback of your work by the community.

Rachelle Gardner
Scads of tips/advice from this literary agent with Word Serve Literary Group.

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Filed under Book Marketing, Writing Resources

9 Ways To Get Your Novel to Market and more

Today I was lucky to be on Stacy Green’s blog talking about 9 ways to get your novel ready to market.

In my quest to polish my first novel to be the-best-it-can-be I share feedback (and resources) I received along the way from the experts—agents, authors and editors.

Stacy just finished writing a psychological thriller set in a cool (underground) location of Las Vegas. She also has tons of fun, witty and informative articles on her blog Turning the Page. Check out her new blog, especially Thriller Thursdays.

Extra! Extra!
For an in-depth look at how I used a marketing background to help me as an author, visit Tony Eldridge’s excellent blog on Marketing Tips for Authors. Read my article there about Utilizing A Career In Marketing And Business To Get A Book To Market

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Filed under Book Marketing

Marketing & Brand: Tips from Philly Writer’s Conf.

Still hot writing business and craft tips to report on from the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference this month.  Here is more of what I learned during that weekend from a round of excellent presenters.

Creating Your Brand and Marketing Your Work presented by Don Lafferty and Marie Lamba.

ID your reader and market
Are there special qualities, issues or setting in your book that appeal to certain groups? Hikers, teens, mountain climbers, veterinarians? Find those groups on Twitter and listen to their conversations. Mention your book when relevant.

Do you offer readers something they need in your book? Can you do a workshop or talk? For example, is your book MG or YA? Hook up with Scout organizations to do a workshop on your book so they earn a reading badge and your earn readers (for your sequel too).

Does your book feature a certain locale? Post photos of those places along with mention in your book on a blog post.

Who are the gatekeepers to your book? Librarians, parents, bookstores, conventions, etc. Find a way to access.

Connect and be found
Be on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, LibraryThing, IndieBound, LinkedIn.
Start a blog.
Add tags (keywords) to bottom of your blog posts so they can be found in a web search by keyword.
Keep blog posts to 300 words.

Brand look
Create author bio/photo/brand image/press release templates

We all know what brand this is

Create one look for yourself (photo, image) and carry over into all marketing pieces to create “your brand”.

Create a short and long bio, with photo.

Create business cards you can change as needed to print out for special events.

Band together with other authors
Start a blog with a group of authors and expand your publicity. Good example is here and here!
Collaborate with your author group to do  community outreach together related to literacy.
Do signings together.

Share the love
Don’t let your social networking be all about you. For each tweet about your work/success post 12 tweets  about the success of others or valuable information.
Post reviews of book similar to yours online and email the author your reviews.
Find authors similar to you and check out their blogs, blogs they’ve been a guest on and any published articles.
Write articles for industry publications/blogs sharing your knowledge.
Always include your bio in any post/article so folks can link back to you.

Build brand through family/close friends
Invite family and close friends to be your “street team”.
Have them:
Attend signings
Do online reviews
Request your book from local library
Hand out bookmarks
Plant your book card in similar books in the bookstores positioned halfway through the book
Face your book out on the shelf (publisher’s pay for that space)

Constantly re-evaluate your marketing!

Download Don Lafferty’s marketing guide!


Filed under Book Marketing, Social Media, Writing Conferences