Friday, November 25, 2016

Coffee Talk, Part II

GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS! Angie here again! I am still full from yesterday! Thanksgiving dinner was amazing, but I am just going to have coffee for about you? Perfect for this Coffee Talk. 
Last week, there was some great discussion and several entries into our 4 part giveaway. Be sure to check out what's up for grabs at the end of the post, and then comment for an entry. We had three great authors share with us about book promotion at our first Coffee Talk, and we have three more award-winning, multi-published authors here today! 

Sit back and sip your beverage (let us know what you are drinking too), and let's begin our Coffee Talk!

 Welcome to our three authors:
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children.  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of contemporary Christian romances, My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine,  A Love Like Ours, and Her One and Only.

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm and When Tides Turn (coming March 2017). Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California.

Please visit her at

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. She likens her exciting Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series to "Grey's Anatomy finds its soul." A native Californian, she is the mother of two and proud grandmother to seven. 

Thank you for joining us, ladies! Here are a couple of questions. We are looking forward to learning from your past book promotion experiences!

First, how soon did you start promoting your book, and what is the most effective way you stirred interest? 

BECKY-I typically brainstorm promotion ideas and meet with my publisher's marketing manager to discuss those ideas 4-5 months prior to release. From then on, I work slowly and steadily, ticking off items on my marketing 'To Do' list. I ramp up my efforts two weeks prior to release, then promote the new book wholeheartedly through its release month.
I think that the blog tours and giveaways that Litfuse Publicity has organized for me have been the most effective at stirring interest.

SARAH- It starts in a soft way as soon as I sign a contract with mentions in my newsletter and
social media, with occasional mentions through the writing phase and a bit more of a push when the cover is revealed and the book is available for pre-order. Real promotion doesn’t start until about three months before the release, gaining steam in the final month before release (to encourage pre-orders) and in the first three months after release. Then it quiets down again. Whew.
I don’t know what the most effective method has been for me. In reality, it’s probably a cumulative effect—email newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, review blog tours, giveaways, contacting libraries, speaking engagements, launch parties, book signings, radio interviews, press releases, articles, and blog posts. Most of this is very hard to measure, but I’m willing to try new things and see what sticks, what I like, and what resonates with readers. Some I cast aside after a trial, and others I embrace.

CANDACE- My Tyndale House team is really so amazing. We have a conference call about 6 months before the release of each new book to go over the marketing plan and toss around ideas—they really encourage author input. I’ll have my book image/blurb/first chapter up on my website 4 months before release, and we’ll make plans for blog tours and discuss ARCs for key reviewers and influencers. For my upcoming release, Maybe It’s You, we’re trying some new things like author videos, short little films to give readers a “glimpse behind the scenes” at the making of a story. My talented videographer is also my daughter and we have a great time; it goes without saying there will also be some silly outtakes. I seem to have a particular talent for bloopers.

Okay, book signings, launch parties, online launch parties...what was your favorite way to promote your book? What are a couple of things you did during that time to encourage readers?

For the last two releases, I've done both a launch party/book signing at Barnes & Noble and I've done a Facebook launch party.

For the launch party at Barnes & Noble, I send out postcard invitations. The night of the event, I offer cookies and scones from the Cafe to snack on. I give a Power Point presentation followed by Q&A time. Then I chat with everyone and sign books.

As nice as "real world" launch parties are, Facebook launch parties are my favorite. I've had Facebook parties on my publisher's page, I've had them on event pages, and I've had them on my own author page. I prefer to host them on my author page because, when I have a party there, readers don't have to go somewhere separate to attend. Also, each post that I put up during the party has a chance to be seen by a wide number of people over the next few days (whether or not they were able to attend the party 'live'). I prepare every post and graphic ahead of time, so I'm free to spend the party interacting with readers. I encourage readers to come by: A) Giving away a lot of great prizes. B) Making the party (hopefully) fun. I never say 'buy my book'. Instead I ask a lot of questions about themes and careers and settings that tie in with my book in some way.   

My all-time favorite promotion was the launch party for Through Waters Deep. It started as a simple “book signing plus” at my local Barnes & Noble. We planned to have a reading and refreshments and do some fun giveaways. But it grew. We added nautical decorations to go with the WWII Navy theme. We played big band music overhead. A high school musical group performed. Barnes & Noble agreed to donate profits to Homes for Our Troops, which aids wounded veterans. Best of all, my agent, Rachel Kent at Books & Such, came and taught swing dancing! We were literally dancing in the aisles! Not only was it a blast and a fun way for me to give back to my reader friends, but it ended up creating some publicity buzz.

To encourage readers, I try to focus promotion efforts on them. First, I try to respect their time and honor their trust by not inundating them with emails and Facebook posts and tweets. Moderation and restraint. Second, I try to make promotional events educational or inspirational, to provide “added value” to the reading experience. For example, I went to Hawaii earlier this month and visited Pearl Harbor. Since my readers are interested in World War II, I’m planning a blog series in early December for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ll share photos, plus I’ll give away commemorative items I bought there. It’s “promotion” because it stirs interest in WWII and in my books (I hope), but more importantly it will provide information, time for reflection, and gifts someone will treasure. I love doing things like that.

While book signings and local parties are fun, online venues reach a much larger number of readers and accommodate folks across the country—and the around the globe. My Tyndale House social media team (ARC podcast, @crazy4fiction) are wonderful at cyber hosting for upcoming releases. We’ve already had a “Sweetest Day” feature (using some of my favorite recipes!) and are planning several fun reader-interactive opportunities that will include book-themed giveaways—we love those giveaways! Meanwhile, my Facebook author page is a happy gathering place; it’s great to have a chance to chat one on one with folks there. And (hint) it’s where I recruit early readers, aka story “cheerleaders” (pom poms optional, somersaults not required).

OOh, wow, such great ideas brewing for me now. How about you? Thank you so much ladies! 
Now it's your turn! Please share in the comments! What have you found to be a great marketing tip as an author? What questions might you have? Any author that has input, feel free to answer! We love to converse here at the Alley...and give

All comments will be entered in drawings for these FOUR FABULOUS PRIZES (we will draw consecutively for these prizes, except the first one will be from those indicating they are on the indie road to publication) We will share the winners on DECEMBER 2nd:

  • Indie Authors! Last week's featured author Heather Gilbert has her own Indie Publishing Handbook ebook that she'd like to give a copy to one of our indie-journeying authors! Indicate in the comments if you are interested in the Indie route! 
  • Reader's Choice Prize! Heather is also generously giving away a reader's choice of one of her Fiction ebooks (check out her books here ).
  • AlleyCat Surprise! Our dear Casey is giving away A BOOK FROM HER STASH...who knows what amazing novel it shall be...but we know Casey's taste is impeccable so be very excited!
  • AlleyPal Book! Mary Vee is amazing, and will also be giving away The Rimgmaster's Wife by the lovely AlleyPal, Kristy Cambron.


Pepper said...

Oh wow, Candace, Sarah, and Becky - thanks so much for this great insight!! I love the idea of moving to more short videos to let readers 'behind the scenes' - and although I really like the in-person book signings, it was good to hear that you think the online forums may be a bit better.

Thanks so much for providing your wisdom and insight for us!!

Tisha said...

Thank you, Becky, Sarah, and Candace, for your personalized ways of marketing your books. Although I'm not a published novelist yet, I'm jotting down all of these great ideas for future reference. :) I love how personality also plays a huge part in how authors promote their books--that's the beauty of it all.

Cara Grandle said...

This is a great post. Thanks for your time and hard work.

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks for stopping by Tiah and Cara! Glad this post was helpful! You are entered in the drawing.:)

Kelly Blackwell said...

Thank you Becky, Sarah and Candace. I am also not a published author yet, but I am devouring everything I can for that dream.

As a reader who sadly no longer has a Barnes & Noble in her town, I have discovered many authors through online book tours and Facebook parties. In fact, I am pretty sure that is exactly how I discovered each of your books. These tours and parties have helped me get to know authors better and actually expanded my genre preferences.

Keep up the great work and thanks again!

Polaris Northstar said...

Great stuff! Thanks for doing this post! Yes, I am definitely interested in the inde route to publication! And Heather Gilbert's books sound SO cool!