Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday! I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am. Congrats to Kelly Rardon, winner of the Caskie ARC, tote, and book of her choice! (Email me, Kelly, and I’ll let you know your choices.)

So after that fascinating introduction to cover art, I visited the Publicity department. Pam Spengler-Jaffee and Shari Newman invited me in, loaded me up with goodies, and gave me great tips about how an author should promote herself and her books. These bright (and yes, nice!) ladies might publicize 20-30 books a month, sending out press releases and review copies. So authors need to be on the ball to promote themselves and their releases, too.

A few highlights:

*A major theme was that authors need to nurture their own readership by reaching out to readers and keeping open lines of communication with them. Networking with other authors, reviewers, editors, and other people in publishing is also important.

*To that end, websites, blogs, and email lists are essential. And Pam says authors should keep them interesting and current. Run contests, review books, host forums or chat, send out e-newsletters, etc. Pam talked about how this helps keep readers interested in the gap between book release dates.

*Authors should cultivate close relationships with their local booksellers, especially any romance specialists, and offer to do events and booksignings.

*Authors should also be aware of their local media, especially human-interest columnists and book reviewers for the local paper. We might be aware of media outlets that would be beneath the NYC radar, but still reach lots of potential readers.

*Pam advised aspiring authors to attend conferences like RWA to network and attend workshops on promotion, especially those presented by bookstore marketing specialists. She also advised just hanging out in the bar and talking to people – she once ended up buying Nora Roberts pizza that way, and hearing all about her home remodeling projects!

*Lastly, authors should look for any unique “hook” that could give them or their book extra publicity – in print, online, or with special-interest groups. Does your book feature a knitting-store owner? Talk to knitting groups. Write an article for a crafters’ magazine. Perhaps you have an interesting personal story, career, or hobby that can get you noticed. Eloisa James has a million hooks – she’s a Shakespeare prof moonlighting as a romance author, married to a real-life Italian knight, who wrote and performed a country song in Nashville! Lots of story potential there. Suzanne Enoch was once featured in an E! special for her enormous collection of Star Wars memorabilia.

So here’s your challenge today – come up with a unique hook for yourself or your WIP that might get you exposure in an unexpected media outlet. Goddess of the Hunt has all sorts of potential. Perhaps I could get featured on one of those ESPN13 fly-fishing programs! I keep hearing Hugh Grant in Notting Hill … “The readers of Horse and Hound will be delighted.”

One lucky commenter will win an ARC of Cait London’s At The Edge, a leopard-print journal with the FanLit logo, and another new release of her choosing! Come back tomorrow to hear me dish about lunch at Saks with Tessa Woodward and Esi Sogah – from their pet peeves about queries to their favorite book title of the year.

33 comments to “Publicity! (Day at Avon, Part Two )”

  1. India Carolina
    · April 17th, 2007 at 12:20 am · Link

    First, Notting Hill is one of my faves. Hugh Grant is hilarous and delicious!

    Book promotion. Twist of Fate features scenes in Arizona’s and Indonesia’s most breathtaking locales. Perhaps I could get it featured in Arizona Highways or promoted by the Indonesian tourism office. Heck, that’s a hard blog question.

    Notice that I work the title of my book into every blog response. Does that count?

  2. CM
    · April 17th, 2007 at 12:32 am · Link

    My book will appeal to ornithologists and omniscient crabs everywhere! Yay!

  3. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 12:45 am · Link

    Oh, India – plug away! Twist of Fate is worthy of mentioning often. And your other profession makes a great hook, too.

    CM – the omniscient crabs do not count as a marketing audience, sorry. There’s no need to publicize to omniscient crabs, because they already know.

  4. Lenora Bell
    · April 17th, 2007 at 1:11 am · Link

    Thanks for dishing, Tessa dahling. After reading this post I decided that my blog was too boring. So see? You’ve already helped me.

    As for personal hooks…um…I’m a hotel lounge singer in China!

    But how do I tie that to Victorian erotic romance?

  5. Gillian
    · April 17th, 2007 at 3:09 am · Link

    If smart is sexy, then mathematician/astronomer Lord Densworth will ignite the pages of “Prime Numbers”, current release of our own Gillian —-, who also a local speech-language pathologist.

    When asked what unique abilities fostered this change in career, Gillian replied, “Well, I’m very, very good with my mouth. And Clarissa, heroine of Prime Numbers, has a vast repertoire of skills to draw upon in order to distract Elliot, Lord Densworth, from his obsession with, um, figures.”

    Astrophysicists attending the book launch at her husbands’ Alma mater gave it 5 stars.

    Bless you, Tessa , for making us think about the unthinkable-marketing (acckkk!) Like getting the book written wasn’t enough.

  6. Christina
    · April 17th, 2007 at 4:10 am · Link

    this is a tough one, and I can’t out do CM’s or any of the others.

    However, I find myself sitting in a Welsh pub hanging with the locals. Do you think they would want to hear the tales of a Scottish Laird turned English Lord? Probably not, but I might cause a fight or two!

    My other thought was a Girls’ Gone Wild type of thing only featuring the hottest Scottish men on the face of the earth. Did you know that during battle the Scots would often take off their kilts and fight nude? It could make interesting Reality TV.

  7. Gillian
    · April 17th, 2007 at 5:33 am · Link

    I’d watch naked Scots, most definitely.

    Lenora! Your blog is so NOT boring!

    I cannot type and check for typos at 4am, obviously. Or maybe at any time of the day ๐Ÿ™‚

    History Hoydens was talking about shorter, tighter manuscripts and I know Tessa or CM said the same thing. How do you all KNOW all this? I must have my head under a rock.

  8. Kelly
    · April 17th, 2007 at 6:02 am · Link

    LOL! I’d watch your naked Scots show, Christina!

    I was wondering how you were going to tie in those Notting Hill pics, and I had forgotten about the wonderful “Horse and Hounds” line. *chuckle*

    I think I would have to try a dramatic reenactment of my novel at the community theater. The carriage scenes could be a little tricky, but we had a genuine surrey with the fringe on top for Oklahoma!, so it’s doable! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Hmm, that and an announcement in the law school alumni newsletter – you’d be amazed how many lawyers/law students are avid romance readers!

    Thanks again, Tessa! I can’t wait for the next installment of Adventures at Avon (rushing off to email you now).

  9. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 7:30 am · Link

    Lenora, I second Gillian – your blog is NOT boring. The history of dildos in China? How could anyone call that boring?

    Gillian, that ‘press release’ is hilarious! I think your and CM’s heroes need to get together. But not in the way that sounded.

    And Christina – Naked Scots? Heck, yeah. I’d tune in. Scots Gone Wild – I love it!

    Kelly – congrats! And the alumni newsletter is actually a really great, usable idea. (not that the naked Scots isn’t, but you know…)

    Keep them coming!

  10. beverley
    · April 17th, 2007 at 8:43 am · Link

    With my current WIP, I would market at Christmas time because that’s the point in the story when the h/h come together in ‘harmony’ (though you know it doesn’t last). But quite a bit of time is spent around the coming event.

  11. Maggie Robinson
    · April 17th, 2007 at 9:00 am · Link

    I shall market myself as the Grandma Moses of romance for all the other not-dead-yet women out there who’ve got a dream and too much time on their hands. I see myself at nursing homes and bingo parlors everywhere, on the front cover of AARP Magazine (hey, the latest cover girl is Helen Mirren, not too shabby and I’m a lot younger than she is anyway), early bird special afternoons in Florida restaurants, orthopedic shoe conventions. The possibilities are endless, even when the end is inevitably in sight.

  12. Christina
    · April 17th, 2007 at 9:12 am · Link


    Oh my gosh, what a hoot, I nearly peed my pants.

  13. Lenora Bell
    · April 17th, 2007 at 9:30 am · Link

    Hah! Gillian that press release was too funny–I love the word play on “figures.”

    And naked Scots, Christina? I am so down for that. Especially if they are as liberally, er, talented, as Ewan McGregor.

    I love everyone’s ideas–orthopedic shoe conventions, musical reenactments! And CM, omniscient crabs? Now I’m really intrigued.

    And thanks for the blog affirmation. But I should take Avon’s advice and get with the contests, reviews, chats etc.

  14. CM
    · April 17th, 2007 at 10:36 am · Link

    Stupid omniscient crabs! It’s not my fault that my primary audience already knows everything. ๐Ÿ™

    Can I try to market it to, uh, astrologists? They might like it….

  15. Lady Leigh
    · April 17th, 2007 at 10:56 am · Link

    Sorry to delete- I am the WORST with spelling. (Secret confession- I used to write my spelling words on my sneakers in elementary school.)

    OMG- you ladies are hilarious. I want the naked Scot reality show and early bird restaurant readings.

    Well, The Unbound Heart features a heroine who is 1/4 Seneca Indian so I could always promote in that community. (The larger community would be Iroquois.) I’ve already established a few connections there. I’d definitly write an article for my high school and college newsletters- another huge audience there (I’d have to guess @100,000 people).
    Also, since I encorporated elements of spirituality into my novel, I’d try to link up with some holistic magazines about bringing Spirit into mainstream media. I can see the article now- challenging the limited view of the romance novel.
    I’m self employed already and promotion is a big part of my business. The crazy thing is- it really does work.

  16. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 12:16 pm · Link

    Beverley – Holidays and special events make great hooks if your book ties in neatly. Great idea.

    Maggie – too funny. And like Christina points out, don’t neglect the incontinence market. “With Depends, I can even read a hilarious Maggie Robinson novel in public, with no fear of embarrassing leakage!”

    And Leigh – thanks for some wonderfully practical ideas. When you get published, that experience in self-promotion is going to serve you well! The holistic/spirit angle is a great one.

  17. ERiCA
    · April 17th, 2007 at 1:55 pm · Link

    Very cool! Thanks for sharing all the great insight! =)

  18. Manda
    · April 17th, 2007 at 1:56 pm · Link

    Hmmm, this is a toughie. Though I am a starcy academic librarian moonlightling as a romance novelist–that’s a pretty good hook, I guess. Or is the librarian thing played out?

    My WIP features a Nightingale nurse heroine and hero who’s a fringe member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood so I suppose I could market to nurses and artists? Or artists who nurse? Or nurses who art?

    Maggie, I had a prof in undergrad (who tells me to call him John now because we’re colleagues–HA) whose only published poem appeared in Modern Maturity. You’re way cooler than he is. And way younger!

  19. Manda
    · April 17th, 2007 at 1:58 pm · Link

    starcHy!!!! Stupid H key!

  20. Lori
    · April 17th, 2007 at 2:17 pm · Link

    Well mine is a Victorian time travel, so I could invent a time machine and give free rides to the victorian era! Just as soon as i’m done with dinner, i’ll get on that.

    Tessa, did they say how much of the publicity we do ourselves? Say we want to do a booksigning, do we go through our publisher or just set it up on our own with the bookstore? Just things i’ve wondered!

  21. Lindsey
    · April 17th, 2007 at 2:19 pm · Link

    LOL at Horse & Hound! That’s one of my favorite parts of that movie. Thanks for all the awesome info, Tessa!

    I like to think that when all six of the Vagabonds hit it big, we’ll have an awesome story of our collaborative rise to the top!

  22. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 3:01 pm · Link

    Manda, actually I talked with Pam about the possibilities for a librarian/author – workshops at RWA Librarian Day, presentations at library conferences, library signings, etc. Don’t forget – we’re still on for that ALA presentation someday, right? Starchy bunheads unite!

    Lori – from what I gathered, local book signings would be mostly arranged by the author. I don’t think they send many authors out on booksigning tours anymore. ๐Ÿ™

    Lindsey – You and the Vagabonds have an awesome story, and great promotion through your site, blog, contests, guest authors, CafePress store, etc. You’re an inspiration!

  23. Cynthia Falcon
    · April 17th, 2007 at 4:03 pm · Link

    Well my story, Lord Andrew’s Match, involves a regency matchmaker who gets more than she bargains for when she accidentally wagers she can match the ton’s most renown rake. Perhaps I could pitch it with Matchmaker International, or some other online dating service ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Alice Audrey
    · April 17th, 2007 at 4:35 pm · Link

    That’s a tough one for me. Let’s see… Zackly Right features a striptease done by a private eye. Maybe I could promote it in a private investigator’s journal? Wait, Zack is a day trader. I could get it into Wall Street Journal! Which would be ironic because that’s where I learned about the Avon contest!


  25. Christina
    · April 17th, 2007 at 4:59 pm · Link


    Thanks for all the great info you have put on your blog and for adding me to your roll. I can’t always promise a masterpiece, but I will do my best to be informative.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

  26. Manda
    · April 17th, 2007 at 5:20 pm · Link

    Tessa, you’re on for that ALA presentation! Are you going to Librarians Day at ALA this year? I’ve been debating about it with myself. But if I knew someone it would be more fun…

    Cynthia, a tie in with Matchmaker International sounds like so much fun!

    Lindsey, wouldn’t it be awesome if we Vagabonds could be published as a package deal or something? Like one of us could release a book every other month, ad infinitum (or until one of us, you know, dies…)

  27. Sara
    · April 17th, 2007 at 5:59 pm · Link

    Hmmm… I think the most unique feature of Promise Me Always is that it has two prologues and two epilogues. Double the pleasure, double the fun… Maybe I can work something with doublemint gum…

    India could do something with Arizona iced tea. The possibilities for corporate sponsorship are endless! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Honestly, though, I’m just planning on bugging my cousin who writes for Esquire to do a piece on understanding women through romance novels, and making sure my book is in there somewhere. Nepotism… it’s a good thing!

  28. Lindsey
    · April 17th, 2007 at 7:13 pm · Link

    I love that idea, Manda! We should definitely work to lead the way in collaborative fiction somehow. There are definite possibilities there.

    LOL, Sara, at your doublemint sponsorship! But your double pro/epilogues are awesome & unique!

  29. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 7:29 pm · Link

    Cindy – wow! You have a great one-line hook for your story. I’m impressed, and intrigued!

    AA – that WSJ article is how I found out about Fanlit, too! Amazing. If my friend hadn’t forwarded me that article, who knows how different my life would be right now. I’m so thankful for that article!

    Christina – no need to thank me for adding you! I wish I’d known about your blog earlier – and if there’s anyone else with a blog I don’t have listed, speak up!

    Manda – I hadn’t planned on attending the Librarian Day – I think it’s the day I’m coming into town. but depending on how the whole “selling-my-book” thing goes, I may apply to speak at the 2008 Librarian day in SF. That would be fun, because I used to BE a librarian in SF and would be able to invite a bunch of people.

    Now Sara – your cousin’s gonna mention my books, too – right? Or maybe I’ll get a trickle-down effect, since you’ll be blurbing on my covers, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lindsey – I’m first in line for a Vagabond anthology!

  30. Cynthia Falcon
    · April 17th, 2007 at 7:44 pm · Link

    Hey Tessa, I forgot to mention that I won the registration fee to national. Now I’m going to follow you like an obsessive fan ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Liese Sherwood-Fabre
    · April 17th, 2007 at 8:48 pm · Link

    A while back I won a short story contest, and wrote up a press release and sent it several places. The local suburban newspaper called me back, and I wound up with half a page about me. Don’t underestimate the local press. They are happy to have news beyond the crimes listed in the local police blotter.

  32. Tessa Dare
    · April 17th, 2007 at 11:49 pm · Link

    Yay! Cindy’s coming to Dallas!

    Liese – what a great idea, sending press releases to your local paper.

    Thanks everyone, for sharing your practical and more creative ideas!

  33. Ericka Scott
    · April 18th, 2007 at 11:47 am · Link

    A hook. . .hmmm. . . the book I’m writing right now is about a team of ghost busters. . .perhaps I could start writing an article on my blog “Your ghost, yourself”

    This is a hard question, now I gotta go figure out the answer.

    Sorry I missed stopping by yesterday. . .and so am too late for the contest — duty called — potty duty that is. We’re in the throes of potty training! Sigh.