PR that works for me by Maris Soule

maris2015Writers strive for name recognition (our brand). To achieve this goal, we give away items (swag) that range from small to humongous and from relatively cheap to very expensive.


When I started writing, I was published by Harlequin, who promoted their brand name not the author’s. Harlequin would send us bookmarks to give out, but those bookmarks featured Harlequin’s logo, how to contact Harlequin, and what lines Harlequin published. They also put inserts in our books, removable pages that showed the cover(s) of upcoming releases, but neither the bookmarks nor the inserts, nor the ads they ran in magazines promoted individual authors. Harlequin’s swag promoted the publisher and how to sign up for their book club. We writers were simply a part of a “stable” of writers. They even tried to (or did) control the writer’s name.


Finally writers realized they needed to promote themselves; now we are the brand, not the publisher. Readers follow writers, not publishing houses. This is great, but it also means achieving name recognition has become extremely important. The “How to” is the hard part.


I’m the first to admit I suck at promotion. I have enough trouble finding time to write. I don’t want to waste time running contests, giving weekly perks to keep a fan club (street gang) active, sending out 4 to 10 tweets a day, adding to my Pinterest boards, or explaining “What’s on my mind?” on Facebook. I do blog (my focus is on writing) on Wednesdays ( I try to remember to send out an occasional Tweet, do try to say something on Facebook and respond to others, and have posted some things on Pinterest. About 4 times a year I try to get a newsletter out and anytime I give a talk, I try to pick up more email addresses for my mailing list.


Mostly I do face-to-face promotion. I meet someone, we start talking, and along the way the topic of “What do you do?” comes up and I tell the person that I’m a writer…and I hand that person a bookmark or business card.


On my bookmarks, I include a book cover and a short blurb. I have both sides printed, on high quality paper, and I include as much info as I can: Name (fairly large), email, and web address. Where to find/buy my books. A list of books (at least ones available). And, for new releases, an ISBN number to help a bookseller order the book.



Bookmarks, I’ve discovered, fit nicely into a side pocket of my purse and can be pulled out with ease. If I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, I can leave a few on the table with the magazines. I can slip a bookmark into a business size envelope when paying a bill. The bookmark may never be used in a book, but it’s a concise, and relatively inexpensive advertising tool.


I do not put my address on my business cards, but I do list my name, phone number, email address, and web address. Under my name, in fairly large letters, I have WRITER. That often starts a conversation. I usually have the cover of one of my recent books on the front. So far I haven’t put anything on the backs of my cards, but I know others do, and I plan on doing that. It might be a short rave review, or maybe a list of places to buy my books.



Whenever I’m asked to spell my name or give my name and phone number, I quickly pull out a card. If necessary, I can tell them my street address (it switches between our winter and summer locations), but nowadays most want phone and email along with your name, so it’s right there and can be attached to a file or put near the phone.


I find the bookmark and business card work as a personal introduction to the fact that I’m a writer, they usually start a conversation about books and/or writing, and create a long term impression…and that’s what branding is all about.




ECHOES OF TERROR: In Skagway, Alaska, a billionaire’s teenager daughter is missing and Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case. When Katherine realizes the girl and another have been taken by the same man who kidnapped and raped her seventeen years before, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces. She knows he’s a man who won’t hesitate to kill…and that she’s the real reason he’s in Alaska.

Release date: March 22, 2017








Maris Soule started her career writing romances for Harlequin, Silhouette, and Bantam Loveswept before switching to mysteries and thrillers. (The Crows, As the Crow Flies, Eat Crow and Die, were published by Five Star Mysteries/Gale/Cengage and A Killer Past, was published by Robert Hale, Ltd.) Echoes of Terror, her 30th book and one of the last released by Five Star Mystery will be available March 22, 2017.


Originally from California, Soule was attending U.C. Santa Barbara when she met and married her husband. He somehow talked her into moving to Michigan, where they raised two children that they’re very proud of. Although Soule taught art and math for 8 years, reading and writing have always been her passion. She does do some painting when she and her husband are in Florida during the winter months.


For more information, visit her at:

22 thoughts on “PR that works for me by Maris Soule

  1. Great, helpful post! I appreciate getting to see how other authors design their bookmarks and cards. Nice!

  2. radine says:

    Thanks for the interesting information and news about your writing!

  3. Book promotion is difficult for me as well. Your point about Harlequin is so true. I’ve had five novels with them. They do a good job promoting their brand but not the authors. It’s unfortunate. Since writers today work for a variety of publishers, it’s important for readers to become familiar with who we are.

    • marissoule says:

      At least Harlequin no longer requires writers to adopt a pseudonym that Harlequin controls. At least I hope they haven’t reverted to that practice. I was luck, I never had to do that. I wish you continued success with them, Jacqueline. They are a good company to work for.

  4. marissoule says:

    Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to your blogspot.

  5. pjnunn says:

    Happy to have you here! I enjoy your work.

  6. Melissa Keir says:

    Promotion also changes so much. Facebook parties were huge and they have gone by the wayside. Congrats on your new release.

    • marissoule says:

      Thanks, Melissa. I must say I’m glad the Facebook parties have gone by the wayside. I never did figure out how to do that. As I’ve said, PR isn’t easy for me.

  7. Promotion is hard for me also, but I too like bookmarks. They seem the most manageable to me, and I try to always carry some. Good luck with your new book.

    • marissoule says:

      Thanks, Susan. Manageable is a good word. I’d say I pull a bookmark out of the side of my purse at least once a week. I did so just yesterday, while talking to the postman weighing and stamping the packages of books I was mailing. He said the bookmark will go home to his wife, who loves mysteries. YES!

  8. I prefer the face-to-face style, too. I also give writing workshops and speak at writers conferences.

    • marissoule says:

      Hi, Jane Ann. I’ve missed seeing you this year. And yes, I also love giving workshops and speaking at writers conferences. It’s fun meeting other writers and readers face-to-face.

  9. I agree with you on bookmarks. Bookmarks are the most enthusiastically received marketing tool I hand out compared to postcards or my business card. Nice post, Maris.

    • marissoule says:

      Thank you, Betty. I tried postcards, but they seemed a bit too cumbersome. They don’t easily fit in a wallet; whereas a bookmark can be folded, if necessary, and slipped into a small pocket.

  10. All good advice, as usual. I, too, have business cards and bookmarks to distribute. And, I too suck at promo. Thanks for sharing.

  11. pamelasthibodeaux says:

    I need to get back to carrying book marks or something similar. I do hand out business cards on a regular basis. Thanks for the reminder!
    Great advice, Maris.
    Good luck and God’s blessings

    • marissoule says:

      I tried larger, tray cards, for a while, Pamela, but that was the problem, they were too large to be practical. The bookmarks work well for me, better even than business cards. (Unless it’s another writer I’m giving the business card to. I do like sharing those.)

  12. I carry business cards and bookmarks and have postcards available for promo tables at conferences. All of my items are double-sided.

    • marissoule says:

      Nancy, I have some of your promo material and have sat in on some of your talks about promotion. You do an excellent job and are very generous sharing your ideas. Thank you.

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