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 (http://marissoule.com/blog/). 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.
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: