Friday, May 23, 2008

Mistress of Marketing

by KJ Howe

Are you ready to get answers to pressing questions about marketing novels? We're fortunate today to have guest blogger Kimber Chin, the mistress of marketing, a fabulous writer who was invaluable in my quest for the American Title last year. She's here today to share a few secrets and answer your burning questions about the business of marketing fiction. Welcome Kimber!!!

When KJ Howe asked if I would like to talk about marketing on Romance Bandits, my first impulse was "Oh my good lord, what am I going to share with the Banditas about book marketing?"

Breach Of Trust is my very first novel. I'm no NYT Bestseller. Jeepers, I haven't even sold a book.

But I said yes. Why? Because that is the first rule of shameless marketers. We never turn down opportunities. As Anne, my heroine in Breach Of Trust, says "No guts, no glory."

(Okay, I may know a thing or two about marketing other products having spent a couple decades… I mean years, yes, that's it, it can't be as long as decades… in new business development, launching products for Fortune 500 companies.)

The biggest hurdle an author has to leap over without landing flat on her face is the realization that she has a product worth marketing. You do. Discussion done. Your publisher bought your novel because he/she thinks it will add value to the world. Yes, your romance novel. It is up to you to give readers an opportunity to benefit from that value.

And it is not only your novel any more. It belongs to a whole team of people. Who is on that team? Your publisher, editor, line editor, cover artist, test readers, critique group, bookstores, advertising partners, the list goes on and on. They all had a role in getting your book to the selling stage and they are all depending on you to help sell it. If it helps you, focus on the other person's part. I know one very shy author who tells everyone "Buy my book. The gorgeous cover alone is worth the price." That technique works for her.

As for actual marketing tactics, the biggest is repetition. Your prospective reader has to see your book title or pen name 8 to 13 times (or impressions) before it even registers with them. You want them to buy? Triple that number (at least). Yep, you'll get sick of your message long before your target ever does.

How to bump up impressions? Attach your pen name and book title to the bottom of every email. Have a signature with the same information on chats and include that signature to every message. Use your pen name when commenting on blogs (you'd be surprised how many authors don't do this).

Another marketing "trick" is to look for permanent promotion. Most blog posts are permanent. They will exist on the internet forever. A paid banner ad is temporary. If you have a choice between the two, always pick the permanent promotion. If the paid banner ad comes with a blog post, write the blog post. 20 years from now, that blog post will continue to draw new readers. The banner ad will be long gone.

On the topic of blogging, I love blogs. Why? Because the constantly updated content gives readers a reason to come back. If I have a good blog, I only have to find my reader once through advertising. I don't have to find her each time I release a new novel. I'll know exactly where she is, visiting my blog.

There are so many other tactics like owning a key phrase (I own 'business romance', search on Google and I should be number one), becoming an expert in a niche (KJ Howe knows her firearms), and matching marketing to format (advertising eBooks on the internet and print books in print, etc), but since this isn't Kimber Chin week at Romance Bandits, I'll leave you with these biggies.

What are your favorite marketing tactics?

Thanks, Kimber, for stopping by the Bandits today and sharing all your hard-earned knowledge. Your marketing savvy is a skill all writers would love to have!

If you'd like to learn more about Kimber Chin including information about her first novel Breach Of Trust (a sexy tale of love and business startups) please visit


doglady said...

What? Nobody home? Come to Mama you fine feathered beauty!

doglady said...

I really like the idea of getting your pen name and novel title in front of people early and often. And I have to agree that really good blogs make me come back again and again. I mean look at what I am doing now! You Banditas can't get rid of me!

What sort of techniques do you recommend to get the interest of booksellers?

Helen said...

Congrats doglady on the GR it has been a while since he has visited you hasn't it have fun with him.

Great post Kimber and KJ as I am not an author but a reader I love hearing about new authors and their books thru blogs and word of mouth at different meassage boards I go to. I agree the more often you read about a book and hear about it thru disscution the more I want the book, and I do buy a lot of books my TBR pile is huge but you can never have too many books.
I have just put my order in for the June releases should have them in about 12 days a few Bandit's books in this order that I can't wait to read.

Have Fun

Joan said...

Actually I WAS home at 10:41 Doglady....but I was knitting!




jo robertson said...

Great information on marketing, Kimber and so timely for us upubbed and recently contracted Banditas and readers.

Do you have a cover for Breach of Trust yet? When will it be released? Can you tell us a little something about it?

Thanks for visiting us today.

Doglady, you've done it again, congrats!

flchen1 said...

Very neat, Kimber--thanks for the post and congrats on your book!

Congrats on the GR, doglady!!

Jane said...

Oh, I've seen the cover for "Breach of Trust" and it's purty and sexy. It's of a leg in a thigh high. I can't wait to read the book.

Wtg on the GR, doglady.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Kimber Chin! I think we met on Romancing the Blog a while back. Welcome to the Lair and thanks to KJ for enticing Kimber along to our hideout.

Kimber, I'm glad you say blogging is a great strategy for getting name recognition.*g* What about merchandise like bookmarks etc? Are they worth the money?

Also, book trailers. If you think they're a good idea, which ones do you think are most effective and why?

OK, any more questions and I'd have to pay you a fee;) I'll be very interested in this discussion.

Woohoo, Pam! Congrats on stealing the Golden Rooster. Why would we want to get rid of you, m'dear? You're one of our favourite people!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for the great post, Kimber.

I'm published, but with small presses, and they expect authors to do most of the promotion work. It's a time and energy suck, to be sure. When your book isn't on the shelves at the grocery store or the big mega stores, much less the brick and mortar book chains, it's a challenge to reach the people. Especially when you know you have a decent product (time out for a quick moment of BSP, but that's what you were talking about, right? -- my books that moved from digital to print have finaled in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and The Lories right up there with Brenda Novak and Karen Rose, so I know I have a product that doesn't suck).

I entered those published author contests more to put my books in the hands of readers who might not have found me yet.

I registered my domain name long before I had even my first short story published. I do some blog hopping to see what else is going on. I volunteer to do programs at local libraries. I've got bookmarks and I make my own chapter books as well as "cover flats" with the cover of the book on one side and the blurb on the other, and I've always got some with me, as well as business cards.

I try to set aside the first hour(s) in the morning to attend to the PR side of things, because otherwise, I'd never get anything new written.

Kim Howe said...

Doglady, you rule! Congrats on the Golden Rooster!

Helen, I couldn't agree more with the word of mouth thing...I've discovered many fabulous authors from friends who have loved their novels.

Jo and Flchen1, thanks for stopping by! I hope to post Kimber's book cover today. I just returned home from two weeks in Europe and I'm madly playing catch-up. Thanks for your patience. Jane, I appreciate your giving us a visual. LOL

Christine, I agree that blogging is a fabulous way to get your name out. Another good idea is volunteering to write a column for RWA or another group. Your address will end up in a lot of e-mail inboxes! That's why it's so important to use an e-mail address with your pen name as Kimber suggested.

Terry, huge congrats on your success!!!

Great questions, everyone! Joan, loved your eight times effort. I'm sold!

To answer Kimber's one about what things I think are helpful for promotion...during the American Title contest, I contacted every special interest group I could thing of to see if they would support me. For example, my novel was about snipers, so I touched base with the organization of police snipers in the US and received incredible support. My heroine offered scuba diving charter services, so I reached out to diving groups. Also, the story is set in St. Lucia

Carol said...

Hi doglady,
The lad is back at your house for another stint up the bookcase!No doubt he telling Frodo about his latest adventures! He knows where he is very welcome!

I think blog sites are a wonderful way for authors to reach readers, I want to buy/read the books that you all write.
Your opinions and outlooks on life/relationships/romance reflect in the characters you about.

Actually I think reading blogs may become a new form of addiction!!!*g*... Certainly more healthy than smoking !!!
Cheers Carol
ps. I love a free bookmark thou!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Good morning everyone! Congrats on the GR doglady!!

Welcome to the lair Kimber. We Banditas are very glad to have you with us. Loved all your tips. We've taken some advertising suggestions from some of our Banditas by annoucing our news and hosting our book covers on the side bar. One of the other things we've done is accessed Amazon through the pictures each of our books, (and those of our guests), to make ordering the books that much quicker and easier.

With virtual book tours, (i.e. making the blogging circuit), do you have any tips for authors to use that will let them get the most exposure and still allow them to spend time writing that next novel?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Very good, Joan.


Joan said...

Suz, I'll see your Weston Series and raise you a Barbarian Soul *VBG*

Actually, Kimber I wonder what your thoughts are on book trailers and My Space pages?

terrio said...

Congrats, doglady. Bet GR is enjoying all that kibble.

This might be the simplest yet best promo blog I've read. That blog over banner is great. As I reader I can't tell you how many new authors I've found through blogs.

I too love bookmarks but nothing bigger than that. I have received all sorts of odd sized promo cards. But anything bigger than a bookmark usually just ends up in some forgotten pile somewhere.

PS: Aunty Cindy - now you have your answer. *g* Not quite as many times as you thought. LOL!

doglady said...

The GR spent a peaceful night sleeping on the pillow of one very disgruntled cat. Sorry, Rebecca, but he IS a guest.

He will be toddling off to work with me in a bit. We are doing a couple of wedding cakes and he says he needs to supervise. (Diving for icing, more likely!) Just so long as he doesn't wander into the deli (fried chicken SHHH!) or decide to become the topper on one of the wedding cakes, he'll be fine.

I didn't set up a website until my GH final. Something about that makes getting published a bit more real, don't you think. Still distant, but real.

My buddy, Tammy, at the Book Basket says the cover postcards are a great idea for booksellers. She sticks them in her order book to remind her to order. Of course she said they have to have a really grabbing blurb on the back!

Kimber Chin said...


My bookseller buds tell me it is all about relationships, especially between authors and buyers (usually there is a couple main buyers in the big chain making recos to all the stores).

Find out who these buyers are (easy way? Call the head office and ask). If your book is on shelf, send them a personalized thank you note for putting it there. If it is not on shelf, ask them what you can do to get it there and why you think it would interest their readers.

Oh, and the MAIN purpose behind booksignings is about meeting the staff, that means all the staff from the receivers (those helpful folk unpacking your books) to the store manager.

Kimber Chin said...

Thanks Helen!

You are so right about never having too many books. They really are a treat, aren't they? A low calorie one at that (the best kind).

Kimber Chin said...


You kill me.
If only it was that easy!!

Breach Of Trust,
Breach Of Trust...

Kimber Chin said...

Hi Jo!

Dang. I totally forgot to include a copy of my cover (yes, it is already available for sale in eBook format). I should follow my own "rules"!!

Breach Of Trust is a contemporary romance set in the exciting world of venture capital.

Kimber Chin said...

Thanks flchen1!!
I am still a little shell shocked that Breach Of Trust is out there!

Kimber Chin said...

Awww, thanks Jane!
The cover artist, Trisha, did a bang on job with the cover. My heroine wears stockings (I'm a stocking girl myself).

Kimber Chin said...

Of course, I remember you, Christine and I remember doglady and helen and...

Gee, I'm starting to have a Wizard Of Oz moment.

Here's the thing about bookmarks, etc., they count as ONE impression (of the 8-13 you need). What I do is look at all the impressions I could land (blog posts, banner ads, print ads, etc) and decide which is the most cost effective.

I DO have pens with my website on them. Why? Because I like to have something to contribute to goodie bags. It gives me an excuse to say 'hi' to influentials in other chapters and to give back to the community.

About book trailers, it depends on what your goals are. Readers read. If I was trying to interesting readers, I would prefer a more text based promotion first (again, blogs are perfect for this). If I was trying to land a movie deal, a book trailer would be a must.

Kimber Chin said...

So true, Terry.

Being an internet based gal
in a very small niche
(romances in a business setting),
I prefer the small/ePresses.

One big benefit of going eBook first is that I can easily and cost effectively give out promo copies to bloggers and review sites. VERY helpful, especially for a first time author trying something a bit different.

And your strategies are great. It is all about being part of the community, isn't it>

Kimber Chin said...

So true, Kim Howe, about the special interest groups.

When I reached out to the business community and explained what I was doing (bringing the sexy back to business), wow, what a great response! So much so that I've had to implement Terry's one hour a day on promo policy.

There are SO many people wanting you to succeed. All you need to do is find them and then help them help you.

Kimber Chin said...


No joke about blogs being an addiction. I know I am addicted!

Kimber Chin said...


I am so excited to be here. Wow, on Romance Bandits.

Terry's tip about pacing is SO important. There are millions of blogs you can guest post on. If you try to tackle all at once, you'll suffer from blog fatigue.

If I was mercenary about guest posting, I would rank the blogs (using the listing at RomancingTheBlog as a starting point) by ranking (Google or Alexa) and start with the most popular.

Since I'm doing this more for fun than anything else, I've been contacting my blog buddies and the blogs I read first.

Donnell said...

Kimber, well done, and excellent, simple-to-apply advice. I know one of the hardest things I have yet to do is how to promote myself, and yet, ask me to promote any of you and I'm there! Thanks KJ for asking Kimber to blog and I wish you well on your book(s) :)

Kimber Chin said...


You'll likely kill me for this answer but it really depends on what your goals are and who your ideal reader is.

My target reader is my fellow businessbabe. She wouldn't be caught dead on Myspace. She doesn't enter contests either (I'll have 4,500 readers a day on one blog and won't get a single entry).

On the other hand, I once was involved with a frugality (expense cutting) blog. The target was stay at home moms. They LOVED Myspace and they really loved contests.

Think about how your reader spends her day and then be a part of it.

And make sure it matches your writing. If you write comedy, give her easy access to the joke of a day or funny stories about your day. Everything you do, should make her smile so she associates laughter with you.

Kimber Chin said...

Awww... thanks Terrio!

I'm really enjoying these questions and comments. It was quite painful to cut the post off where I did but now... it is like I don't have to!

I could talk about promo forever!

Kimber Chin said...


Another "trick" many artists use is that they think of themselves in the third person. I'm not promoting myself, I'm promoting "Kimber Chin" (because really, how many people know the 'true' me?). It creates space between you and your 'product.' Helps with rejection too. They're not rejecting me, they're rejecting Kimber Chin.

I think that's where we get a lot of those third person reference jokes (like Jimmy on Seinfeld). So you might not want to do this out loud. (Grinning)

Donnell said...

Donnell Bell says thank you to Kimber Chin for her excellent advice. By jove, I think I've got it! Thanks, Kimber :)

Kimber Chin said...

Kimber Chin says you're welcome to Donnell Bell (a musical name Kim Chin can appreciate) as we all happily hold hands on our way to the insane asylum.

Michele Ann Young said...

Lots of great advice here, and I'm writing it all down. Thanks Kim. I agree on the blogging side. I write Regencies and that is what I blog about, the history and the research. This month my blog was picked up by the Jane Austin Center and used for an article in their magazine. I was thrilled.

I also have a sign up for my newsletter on my blog, and offer a free story in that newsletter each month, which seems to appeal.

Thanks for sharing, and KJ thanks for thinking of it.
Michele Ann Young

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Kimber! Thanks for having her blog, KJ!
I think so many authors are shy about self-promotion or think it's slightly "unseemly". But it's a reality of the business.

Keira Soleore said...

Nancy and KJ, many, man congratulations!!

Kimber--wow! Lots of stuff. I have this post bookmarked! Thank you, thank you.

Banditas, I'll be back Thursday. Have a great weekend.

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations to doglady on nabbing the "fine feathered" one! Watch
your chocolate supply!

Thanks, Kimber, for all the great information! I'm a reader, not a writer, but it is most educational
to know what all the writer goes
through to bring that book to us!

Pat Cochran

Kimber Chin said...


Congrats but no big surprise on your blog pick up. I always use your blog as an example of a brilliant author blog. It shows such a great understanding of what your readers are looking for!

Kimber Chin said...

Thanks Maureen!

It is hard to promote yourself. I think most of us have a hang up around the word selling.

It isn't really selling. You can't force people to buy something they aren't interested in.

You're sharing. You're sharing why you feel your book is worth reading and letting the people (prospects) you're talking to make up their own minds.

Kimber Chin said...

Thanks Keira.
Wowsers, that's a pretty name. I think I'm going to have to steal that for a future heroine!

Am I the only one who collects names? LOL

Terry Odell said...

Names? On a recent airline flight, I checked the seat pocket and found the boarding pass of the person who'd sat there before.

"Rhys Ainsworthy"

That name is SO going to be used in a book.

Kimber Chin said...


Ohhh.... we LOVE readers.
We do all this for you, you know.
If we didn't think you'd like our books,
they'd still be stuck under our beds
(creating a fire hazard).

Kimber Chin said...

That IS a great name
and doesn't it seem like fate
that it was left there for you?

Terry Odell said...

In an even more bizarre moment, when I wrote Hurricane Breeze for Wild Rose Press, my character was a reclusive novelist who wrote under a pen name. So, I needed TWO names for this guy. I decided that since he wrote action-adventure James-Bondish stuff, Grant Gardner might be a suitable nom de plume.

About a week after I turned in the story, my husband and I were returning home from somewhere, and walking toward baggage claim, there are all those drivers who hold up signs. Damned if one didn't read "Grant Gardner". I was SO tempted to hang around to see who showed up.

Kim Howe said...

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and contributions. I travel a fair amount and love the idea of using that time to search for character names.

Kimber, fabulous advice. A question for you: What is the biggest mistake you see writers making with regards to spending money on promotion with no real return?

Thanks again for being here today!

Kimber Chin said...

Great Question Kim.

I think the biggest mistake I see writers making (period) around promotion is not valuing our own time.

I know, I know, shocking coming from a cold hearted businessgal and I'm as guilty about this as anyone else. Time is our most valuable resource and writing the next book usually the best use of it.

I know writers who did a brilliant job of marketing their first book. The problem is... they have no second book and now those readers have forgotten about them.

The biggest money waster is taking what someone else is doing and applying it without thought to your own marketing program.

Michele Ann Young does a brilliant job blogging about Regency England. She's building up a huge fan base doing so (with research she does anyway). Should I do the same? Nope. My businessgals aren't reading my novels for historical facts. LOL

BTW...if I only had $50 a month to spend on online advertising, I would spend it on Google Adwords. That you can tweak for your own specific situation (by using your unique keywords)

Kate Carlisle said...

Stopping by, late as usual, but very thankful for all the great info and advice, Kimber! I think you've answered many of the questions I would've had, do you keep from feeling completely overwhelmed by all the promotional possibilities? My head is beginning to spin at all the choices out there!

Big thanks to KJ for bringing Kimber to the Lair!

And congrats to Doglady for snagging the Golden One! P.S., your books are in the mail. :-)

doglady said...

Thanks, Kimber for all of the great advice. I am definitely printing this out for future reference!

Thanks, Kate! Looking forward to them.

Christine, I got your lovely parcel today! The cover is gorgeous and I put your magnet next to Anna's on the fridge.

But, ladies, I have just had a religious experience. I have just had my FIRST TIM TAM courtesy of the SWEET CHRISTINE WELLS! OMG! How did I live before now without them?? I am going to have to force myself to ration them! Thank you, Christine!

Helen said...

I am glad you are enjoying the Tim Tams they really are special aren't they I might just open a packet myself make a cup of coffee and sit and read. The best way to relax I say.
BTW watch the GR with them he loves them as well.
Have Fun

Kimber Chin said...

Oh, man, I LOVE Tim Tams.

Kate, there sure are a lot of promo possibilities out there.

That's good and bad.

Good because you really don't have to do any promo you don't want to do. I prefer to focus on the internet (where I like to hang out) and I can because I haven't even scratched the promo surface there. I also prefer not to have my photo anywhere (my next novel is on identity theft) and I don't.

Bad because you can promo 24/7. A plan and a time limit comes in handy there. I usually like to build a base first (it is kind of like war, why my fellow businessbabes read books like The Art Of War) and then expanding out from there.

M. said...

wow. kimber's not only the go-to girl for blogging, she's the go-to girl for marketing as well. is there no end to her talents?

i'll have to bookmark this page for future reference

Born Diva said...

Wow. you gave some great advice and answered some questions I had. I am still playing around with short stories and, I hope to hammer out a novel next year. My best friend is close to finishing her novel I will pass your blog info over to her.

Thanks again