Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post by Joan Rylen

Make Your Mark with these Marketing Tips

It doesn’t matter if you’re self-publishing or going traditional, one thing is for sure - marketing yourself is a must. Many cringe at the thought, but there are some ways to make it less painful and more productive.

1.      Press releases are a priority.

Take time to write a good one. You’ve put a ton of time into your book, so don’t flub on the release. Give your story a good hook, something that will catch the eye of a reporter or editor. We, being the eccentric girlz we are, go the extra mile to hand deliver our releases in a whimsical way.

We have just launched our third mystery, Big Easy Escapade, which is set in New Orleans so the press kits included purple, green and gold tissue paper, a French Quarter magnet, an alligator and beads along with the book, press release and our business card. We spent about $7.00 each including the cost of the book.

Our first book, Getaway Girlz, was set on the white-sand beaches of Mexico. Therefore, our press kits were delivered in hot-pink sand buckets and included a Getaway Girlz koozie and pen, the book, press release, business card, and small bottle of white sand (direct from Mexico) that was labeled with a picture of the book cover and our media contact. This kit got us noticed by the Houston Chronicle and Getaway Girlz was chosen as one of their “recent releases worthy of attention.” Getaway Girlz also attracted the attention of CultureMap Houston, which led to our first interview and feature story. Our hometown newspaper, the Pasadena Citizen, ran our story almost word-for-word from the release.

Timing your press release is important, as well. We send the first announcement about our book launch one month out, the actual press kit and book at two weeks out and a shorter “reminder” email two days before the launch. Each press release needs a slightly different angle, but should boil down to the launch of the book. We customize the releases depending if we’re sending it to our local media in Fort Worth, our hometown of Houston/Pasadena, New Orleans, etc.

2.      Plant a person at your book signings.

Another of our marketing strategies is the Barnes and Noble “plant.” We have a friend meet us, wearing their Getaway Girlz gear. We put them front and center at the entrance of the store, holding our books and greeting folks as they come in. They let customers know about the book signing and point them in our direction. If they can hand them a book, perfect! Hand it back-cover up, so they see our (fantastic) picture and read the back blurb. After that they’re usually hooked. Just a side note - most people assume our plant is a Barnes and Noble employee, so be sure they know where the restroom is - a common question.

3.      Get out and about – work it!

This may not be easy for everyone, but because we write as a team, we meet at local restaurants and bars to work. We are connoisseurs of the local happy hour, always checking in on Facebook so people can see us hard at work. In the process we’ve had restaurants hang our books on their wall. We turned it into celebrations inviting our fanz to watch as the art was unveiled. We recently found out that a couple who met at our book unveiling just got married! Press release time!

4.      Cash and carry.

The most common thing we do is carry our books with us in our big ass purses (sorry guys), business cards, Square credit card reader and change for a $20. It’s easy enough to ask your lunchtime waitress, the person next to you on the plane or anywhere else “do you like to read?” Nine times out of ten they’ll say “yes,” and you can ask what types of books are their favorites and go from there. Johnell recently sold two books at a blackjack table. She lost her ass otherwise, but sold the two books she had in her purse. Winner winner chicken dinner!

5.      Paid promotion can help you prosper.

During the July 4th holiday Getaway Girlz was featured on Bookbub, which was our first paid advertising. The results were phenomenal! We received more than 48,000 downloads which led to additional sales of Rocky Mountain Mayhem. Getaway Girlz hit #2 in the bestsellers Kindle store, top 100 free. Thanks, Joe, for blogging about Bookbub!
About the authors:

Texas gals and life-long friends, Johnell Kelley and Robbyn Foster, a.k.a. Joan Rylen, can be found vacationing across the globe with their favorite Getaway Girlz, stirring up trouble, then writing about it! Visit us at

Best of luck in your endeavors!


w. adam mandelbaum said...

it should be interesting to hear from other writers who usually comment on this blog whether or not they have ever purchased books because of press releases, and if not, what kind of promotional activities have caused them to purchase other's books. Getting press can't hurt, but sometimes its value is overrated. On the other hand, sometimes it can sell a load of books.

McVickers said...

Reminds me of that story about Jean-Claude Van Damme, who went around L.A. streets passing out flyers for his movie "Bloodsport" because it was his ever movie as a star, and the studio wouldn't support him with a marketing campaign.

Colin M said...

Hi Joan,

In response to Adam's comment, most of the new authors I read come from Amazon reviews/you might also like/Joe's blog, however, if I'm handed a newspaper, I usually check out the New Release section. I'm sure you will get some new readers from the press releases and your other ideas.

Although some of what you do would be out of my comfort zone, we all have to find what works for us. What struck me most about your post is your passion. From what I've seen in 17 years of self employment, one of the best predictors of success of a business is the level of passion of the owner.

Keep doing your thing and you'll soon be hiring out a lot of your marketing because you won't have time.

Thanks for putting it our there.

Robbyn said...

We definitely have a lot of passion and are determined to succeed. Thanks for the positive sentiment Colin.

Alan Spade said...

The press releases, in my opinion, are not for individuals but for works councils of companies, bloggers or jornalists. But there's not only the press releases.

I have hand sold more than 2000 paper books. Obviously, I couldn't put a friend on the entrance of a store, because I did it alone, but it can certainly be an effective way of selling books : it comes as a surprise for the customer, and if the person at the entrance is nice, it's a nice surprise.

So, a part of the selling process is done by the guy or woman at the entrance. It's smart.

Anonymous said...

writing copy and blurbs for one's book, that basically is a press release is it not?

and that reminds me, my novel CREATURES OF APPETITE is free today and tomorrow (Oct1-2)

the question I'd have is about getting the word out... are there any other outlets besides bookbub that people like?

Todd Travis

Unknown said...

> the question I'd have is about getting the word out... are there any other outlets besides bookbub that people like?

That's an excellent question. I, too, would love to hear of effective alternatives. We've tried eBookBooster a few times but it didn't seem to be worth it.

By the way, Rebecca Radley, one of the Nepo Press authors, has just released her new novel Tree People and it is a free download today (Oct 1, 2013) and for a few more days:


Steven M. Moore said...

To Adam and Colin, I'd say that I've NEVER purchased a book because it has a positive press release--like the NY Times Book Review section, they're biased toward the Big Five. I've found much better, more enjoyable, and less expensive reading in indie lit, and that's not because I'm an indie writer--it's because legacy publishing puts its money behind already established writers, not new voices!
I'd have to say that except for one point in this list, Joan misses ALL of internet marketing and focuses on "traditional marketing strategies." I'm not saying they don't work, but you can reach many more people via the internet.

Robbyn said...

For this blog's purposes, we didn't want to get into every internet marketing site and social media site out there, but we work those too.
We wanted to focus on some not-so-typical techniques that have worked for us. There's something about seeing your book featured in the Houston Chronicle's semi-annual round-up of recent Texas titles, especially when they only showed six covers and our was one of them! And the only way the Chronicle's book editor knew about us was through a hand delivered press release.

Anonymous said...

Why can't I see the videos in the video bar? There is only audio.

Walter Knight said...

Johnell sold books at a blackjack table? I'm in love.

Lisa Alber said...

Great post. I would know who to give a press kit to! Do you drop them off (with who?) or send them?

My debut, KILMOON, a mystery set in Ireland, comes out in March, and I'm just starting to think about all this stuff...I could probably come up with a pretty good Irish-themed (Guinness!) press kit. :-)

Robbyn said...

Lisa, there's always a front desk in the lobby whether it's a TV station or a newspaper and that's where we drop the press kits off. We put them to the attention of a specific reporter whom we've researched and deemed the best fit for our book. And of course, at the newspapers, you need to get the press kit in the hands of the book editor. Good luck with your debut in March!