Marketing: Killer Nashville Sessions

I attended two sessions during the Killer Nashville Conference that dealt with marketing. On Friday afternoon Kay Kendall, Debi King McMartin, Anne Marie Stoddard, Julie Schoerke, and Jerri Ledford discussed “The Do-It-Yourself Publicist.” Later that day Claire Applewhite, Darryl Bolinger, Ray Peden, Nancy Sartor, Maryglenn McCombs, and Stacy Allen discussed “How to Launch a Book.” I’m going to blend what was said at the two sessions into this blog.

Hire a Publicist?

Julie Schoerke (JKS Communications) was the publicist on the first panel, Maryglenn McCombs was the publicist on the second panel. Both indicated that hiring a publicist can cost several thousand dollars. (I checked. That’s true. The initial contact with JKS Communications asks if you’re looking to spend $5,000-$10,000 or on up. They didn’t have a pull down for less than $5,000.)

General advice was be nice, use social media, and do whatever is comfortable for you.  You need to budget your time, money, and resources.

General Information
I was shocked when I heard that 8,200 books are being released EVERY day. Yikes! How can I get potential readers/buyers to notice me among all of the other available books?

The advice from the two panels was: Start your pr campaign 4 months before your release date. But even before that, start building contacts. Create a schedule and do a little each day. Consistency is key. If you have a newsletter, email it on a regular basis. And see if you can get into other writers’ newsletters.

Try to get reviews. For the “big” reviewers (Kirkus, PW, Library Journal, Booklist, Foreword, and Shelf Awareness) you need a 4-6 month lead. Send ARCs with pub date. (That’s when book released.)

Trade reviews with other writers’. Local reviews can be and should be closer to release date or event. Announce the release of the book through other writers, and on social media. (Twitter, Google+, Facebook.)  Boost posts. When making comments on social media vary them. 1 out of 3 can be about your book. The other posts should be about life, friends, or whatever.

Book trailers were mentioned as another tool that some authors have found help. is one site for book trailers. The free version was suggested.

Audience expects to connect with authors. They want a 1-on-1 relationship. Use readers to be part of the project. Get ARCs, either physical or electronic, and send to “taste” makers: booksellers, librarians, reviewers.

Get blurbs for your book. Find others who write similar to you. The blurbs help booksellers know where to place a book. Consider who your readers are. Know who your target audience is.

If you write a hardboiled detective story, don’t ask a young adult author for a blurb. It would confuse readers.

Don’t hesitate to ask for blurbs, but give the person an out. Once you give them the book, let it go. Don’t hound the person. And don’t send a group email requesting a blurb. Make your request personal. Ask mid-level writers.

(Swag=Pens, postcards, whatever gets attention.)

Publicist Maryglenn McCombs said, “No swag.” And no free copies of your book. Others said, if you do use swag, spend little or nothing on it.

If you are self-publishing, make sure your book is in Ingram and also Baker and Taylor. (They are wholesellers.) Make sure your book is returnable. And if you are hand-selling books, have the square account for iPhone.

Use Ingram Spark for publishing hardcover

Other marketing ideas

Launch parties. Using a winery for a launch party was suggested. (Everyone will come for the wine.)

Street teams: uses family and friends. Give them free books so they can give you reviews, but ask them not to review if they don’t like the book.

If you have an online launch party, have your street team be present (on-line), but don’t have them say anything if all going well. On the other hand, if there’s a lull, have them ask prepared questions, and then for two weeks after the launch party have them occasionally make a comment about the book on various social media.

After the book has been out for a time, use one method at a time and see what the results are over a period of time.  #LitChat on Monday’s and Wednesday’s.

Today is Veterans’ Day. I want to say Thank You to all who have served, including my husband. Thanks, Bill.

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18 Responses to Marketing: Killer Nashville Sessions

  1. All great advice.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Good luck and God’s blessings.

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    Great advice. I love hearing from the experts. 🙂

  3. Maris Soule says:

    Same here, Melissa. Whenever I attend a conference, I try to hit as many sessions as possible where professionals are on the panel.

  4. Valuable info. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lots of great advice here. I’m concerned about trading reviews with other writers, though. I’ve had several taken down recently, and they were written by other authors.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Patricia, I’ve heard that Amazon has been getting fussy about “friends of” reviews. I’m not sure how to handle that, especially if the person has purchased the book, why shouldn’t they be able to give a review?

  6. Diana Stout says:

    Awesome information, Maris. I’ve never believed in the swag, other than bookmarks, maybe. Interesting to see publicists back up the notion of little-to-no swag.

    • Maris Soule says:

      One item I think is valuable, Diana, is a business card with basic contact info and a little about what you write. Those I keep. The other items either get dumped or I never look at the author/book info on them.

  7. Diane Burton says:

    A lot of good advice. Sure wish I had $5k to spend on a publicist. Meantime, I’ll keep on DIY-ing and hope for the best.

  8. Absolutely wonderful information. Thank you. I’ll reread until I get it write.

  9. Terry Odell says:

    Thanks for your recap. I don’t think we were at any of the same sessions, so I’m enjoying seeing what you took away. Funny about the swag – I have lip balm and post-it notes that get snagged up immediately. I figure with the post-its, at least, my name and logo are in front of people, and it’s about the ‘touches’ to get name recognition, not really as a tool that sells books.