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Outside the Box Marketing

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 20, 2012

How can you raise your readership and increase your book sales? Today at the MWA-FL Chapter meeting, Joanna Campbell Slan spoke on Promoting Outside of the Box. Joanna is the author of three mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein books and her newest Jane Eyre mystery, Death of a Schoolgirl. Joanna offered tips on increasing visibility online as she explained what works for her. Here are some ideas I gleaned from her excellent presentation:

End each book with a hook. You’ll want your story to have a satisfactory ending, but include an element that will make the reader anxious for the sequel.

In between your regular releases, offer short stories or novellas in digital formats and for a low price. Relate the titles clearly to your series.

Include a list of titles in series order in your works whenever possible. Also add links to all your social networking sites, plus consider links to other sites relating to your story.

If you are self-publishing, ask for Beta readers on your Facebook page. Request that these people do not share the file and that they consider putting a review on Amazon when the book is available online.

Give readers suggestions on how to help when you answer their fan mail, i.e. “Please share with your friends” or “This book would make a great gift.”

Five star reviews on Amazon help readers who search for these ratings to find your books. Encourage your fans to spread the word and contribute to positive customer reviews.

Create an account on Pinterest and put up your book covers there.

When you do posts on Facebook, start the update with a headliner type line or an intriguing sentence that will catch attention.


These are all great suggestions. Now if only I had a clone to implement them! Thanks, Joanna, for a great session.


15 Responses to “Outside the Box Marketing”

  1. These are great ideas!! It’s really fun to do promo, but hard to juggle it with writing and work responsibilties. Not sure what the right balance is…

  2. Mary, balance? Sheesh. I wish. Truth being that Nancy’s right–the writing comes first. But you do have to make time for the promotion, and if you can do it without washing your hair or ironing an outfit, all the better!

  3. Joanna, it sounds like a great presentation, I wish I could have been there.

  4. Reminds me of Janet Evanovitch’s “tween” novels for Stephanie Plum. Not having a series, I wouldn’t know the answer to this, but do you find that you want to write short stories and novellas — either within or outside of your series — while you’re between the publishing of two of them? I imagine you’re busy, but I’m only imagining. Please help me understand where you tend to find yourself. For the published one, there is marketing, appearances perhaps at local and/or national events. For the next one – is it already at the publisher and are rewrites started, or are you still writing/editing the drafts before passing them over to the editor? Assuming you’re doing one a year. And for another wrench, what if you’re doing two a year? I know that it’s good to have creative works in different stages of the process so that you can switch gears from one to another when you need to let one “simmer.” Not sure how it works in reality for the different projects which are both books and short stories/novellas. Thanks for sharing these tips, Joanna and Nancy.

    • I’d like to hear what Joanna has to say about this because I’m writing in two genres and have no spare time for short fiction. I’ve had two releases this year and that means double promotion to two different audiences. And then I have to work on the next books in these series.

      • Oh, and my romances come in at an average of 450 manuscript pages while my mysteries run 300 pages or so.

        • Diane, I wrote four books this year (actually from Dec. 2011 to Aug. 2012). Two were 85,000, and two were 100,000. Plus six or seven short stories. The longer books were historical. Um, you can’t schedule the edits, so you never know when you’ll be doing those. I just find the short stories pop into my head between the books, but rarely during the initial draft of a book. When you are writing, at least when writing the first draft, or editing, it’s best to not let anything slow you down. At least, it works that way for me. You see, you need to keep the voice and the continuity.

          I’m not being very clear, but the best way to sum this up is…this year I didn’t get to “clear the decks” for when I’d write books and when I’d edit or promote. There’s a six week golden period after a book is released and you MUST promote then, but otherwise, I found myself having to juggle edits/corrections/drafts and so on.

  5. Joanna, you must be a very fast writer! Jeez. How do you do it? I am in awe. I need a month or so to plot, 4-6 months to write the first draft, another month or two for polishing/editing. Or maybe you don’t sleep?

  6. I do write fast. I was a journalism major in college, so I learned to be very disciplined. And I work long hours. What can I say? I have a great capacity for work. It’s a blessing.

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