Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things At Which I Suck

by Susan Sey

Brace yourselves. This could be a long list.

Oh, fine. It's New Year's Eve. You probably have somewhere fabulous to be. I'll give you the abridged version. I need to be snoozing on the couch by 9 p.m. anyway.


Top Three Things At Which I Am Not Very Good:

1. Sales.
2. Synopses
3. Salads

(Sidenote: I never realized all the stuff I'm bad at started with an S. Huh. At least my awfulness is alliterative

I'll take them in reverse order

Salads: Yeah, it's embarassing but I can't made a salad. I think it's because I used to be a vegetarian. (FYI for all those steakhouses out there? You can take a pile of wilted iceberg lettuce, drown it in ranch dressing and call it dinner, but that doesn't make it so.) I suffered through enough of those iceberg disasters to have developed a knee-jerk aversion to the very concept of salad-as-dinner, & sadly cannot to this day make a proper salad. My heart just isn't in it. So if you ever invite me to a potluck, please understand. I'm not bringing salad, & if you force me into it, you'll be disappointed. Sorry.


Synopses: I can't write short to save my life. My hat is off to all you category writers out there because you ladies know how to tell a tight story. It's like poetry, where every word is perfectly chosen & pulls its weight. This is a skill I dearly wish I had but even my emails run into the hundreds of words. My grocery lists span two pages because I editorialize. ("Yellow onions. Sweet if you can find them. Not the white ones. Too strong! Not purple--funny color...") It's just that--okay, I'm cutting myself off because at this point, I'm only demonstrating the problem

Sales: My dad is a sales guy. He can talk to anybody. He can sell anything. He loves this work & he's wonderful at it. Apparently this isn't a hereditary talent because I get hives when I have to call the babysitter. (In case you were wondering, she's a thirteen year old girl, and I want to give her money. How hard could it be? But it's still calling up somebody who might have to tell me no, however kindly. It's torturous and I hate it.)

So here's my problem: I have a book coming out this summer. It's my first one & I'm deliriously happy about it. Or I would be if I didn't have to sell the damn thing.

Self-promotion. Another S word at which I suck.

There' s a lot of pressure on debut authors these days. In addition to writing a great book, you also have to have a great website. It should have fresh content all the time & offer lots of extra ways for readers to connect with you & your characters.

You should blog. A lot. Everywhere. You should be witty and warm and find ways to gently promote your work without coming off as a user who only dropped in to plug her book

You should do book signings and hold launch parties--things that involve walking into book stores, asking to speak (gulp) with the manager (who you don't know from adam,) and convincing him/her that you have enough friends & family to justify ordering a few copies of your book.

You will be required to print up bookmarks, postcards and a slew of adorable, charming, book-inspired tchotchkes (I'm drawing a complete blank on that one, by the way). They'll need to be distributed to any breathing person you might encounter for at least six months prior to your release date.

You'll need to make up a press packet, then call up a bunch of print journalists (gulp), radio announcers (gulp), and TV journalists (GULP) to see if they want to interview you. This is a) calling strangers and b) asking them to participate in your discomfort. The classic double whammy. Ouch.

Oh, & you'll definitely want to purchase some incredibly expensive ad space in each of half a dozen magazines.

And if you don't do even one of these things?

YOUR BOOK WILL FAIL, AND YOU WILL NEVER SELL ANOTHER THING AS LONG AS YOU LIVE. NOT UNDER THAT NAME, ANYWAY.

{pant, pant}

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. Is it? Oh, lord, I feel a panic attack coming on. Is that a hive? Right there? On my neck? Oh god. I feel faint. Somebody hold me.

Clearly, I need help here. Besides writing a darn good book, what do you like to see an author do? Is it the blogging? The signings? The website? The ads? Is it accessibility? Is it a sparkling personality? And what turns you OFF? Is there anything an author could do (or fail to do) that would make you turn up your nose and toss their book (no matter how good) into the garbage disposal?

p.s. Oh crap. I forgot to mention my title, my release date or my publisher. Sheesh. I told you I was bad at this. Okay, take two. Ready?

Look for Money Honey by Susan Sey in July of 2010 from Berkley Sensation!

Whew. How'd I do?

135 comments:

p226 said...

Oh... you're mine you little fowl.

Susan Sey said...

P226! You got the GR! Happy New Years!

Um, you ARE going to keep him away from the Jaegermeister shots, aren't you?

jo robertson said...

WAY. TO. GO. P226! Whoopt! I imagine you and the rooster will be engaged in some sort of nefarious, clandestine activity for New Year's. Hmmmm, keep him away from the liquor cabinet. He can be quite the lush!

jo robertson said...

Hilarious post, Susan! I adore, adore, adore your humorous voice. I'm still laughing.

NOTHING you do could keep me away from your debut book, girl. I know that MONEY HONEY will keep us all rolling in the aisles and just wish it's release weren't so darned far away!

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: NOTHING you do could keep me away from your debut book, girl. I know that MONEY HONEY will keep us all rolling in the aisles and just wish it's release weren't so darned far away!

Oh, Jo, you're sweet! I'm wavering between wishing the release were sooner so it would just be over & praying it were farther away so I could do more to prepare.

Then again I've had the last year & a half to prepare & I haven't done squat so would more time really help?

Probably not. :-)

Happy New Years!

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote, regarding the Golden Rooster: Hmmmm, keep him away from the liquor cabinet. He can be quite the lush!

Yeah, I've heard this as well. You'll want to watch the champagne. He gets a snootful of the bubbly & it's all over...

Deb said...

Susan, thanks for making me chuckle; great post!
I like to see/read/hear authors on blogs like this one. I've been able to get to know you Romance Bandits as persons and fellow posters as well as authors. I like how thoughts and ideas are shared here and it can be done confidently because I know what I say will be validated even if it is my opinion. (Whew! That was long-winded, wasn't it?)
I am looking forward to your debut book! Hang in there, Susan, you'll do a great job with all the promotional things this spring.

Barbara Monajem said...

LOL. Susan, I totally relate. I spent the first six months after I sold freaking out about promo, the second six months failing to get organized, and now I'm just numb (but in a frantic sort of way).

I really like learning about authors and their books by reading blogs (like this fabulous one). I'm all for a good website. This is probably sacrilegious, but I don't care much for book signings. Unless the author is either already super-famous or one of those naturally entertaining personalities, signings are sort of awkward. But then, I don't really see the point of autographs anyway. Obviously, though, considering the number of people who treasure crumpled old napkins with the sigs of their fave rock stars or sports figures, this is just me.

I'm so glad you blogged today about Money Honey. What a great title! It sounds like a hoot... just like this blog.

Helen said...

The GR is finally going to get some exercise and yes I too would keep him away from the grog LOL

Susan

I love your post you always have me laughing thank you I have had a really bad day and it was just what I needed. I am so looking forward to your book can't wait to read it. I love visiting the blogs and author websites I love bookmarks and postcards and coverflats as well. I love to get to "know" the author I love getting newsletters and emails about happenings I am all for it and you will do really well Susan congrats.

Have Fun
Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Susan, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, you did fine and you will do fine on the whole promo thing. You wrote a good book, it has already been picked up by a publisher, the Bandits and BB's love what you write. Just breathe. As far as the extras I like bookmarks, you can never have enough, I give them to friends at work to get their attention for a particular book. I like the blogs as a way to meet authors.

jo robertson said...

Susan said, "I'm wavering between wishing the release were sooner so it would just be over & praying it were farther away so I could do more to prepare."

Aww, more time would just make you more jittery. not more prepared. Plunge right in. You can do this!

Janga said...

It's lovely to start the day smiling. This blog was fun to read. Thanks, Susan.

Most of the experts say a website is the most important promo, and I, as a reader, agree. The first thing I do before trying a new or new-to-me author is check out the web site. But I think being a real presence (as opposed to a drive-by desperate) on boards, blogs, or social networks is almost as important. Probably 90% or more of the books by new authors that I try were written by someone I "met" and liked on a blog or on Twitter. I love my bookmark collection, but the bookmarks I keep are those from authors who are already faves. I don't think I've ever bought a book because of a bookmark. As for signings, I'm far too much of an introvert to find them appealing.

BTW, I just posted my month-by-month list of 2010 books I'm looking forward to reading on my blog, and Money, Honey is on the list. You must be doing fine with the promo. :)

Minna said...

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year (ABBA)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcLMH8pwusw

Dinner for one oder der 90. Geburtstag von Miss Sophie
part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku1_DjEBl_g&feature=related

part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPVCtpNjMtY&feature=related

The Baseballs - Umbrella
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM2177pHMT0

PJ said...

Congrats p226! Better keep a leash on that rascal tonight. I don't want to see the two of you in tomorrow's headlines!

PJ said...

Susan, you have me laughing out loud this morning. If that voice comes through in Money, Honey you aren't going to have one bit of trouble selling books!

A presence on boards, blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. will usually draw my attention to an unknown author. Being an active part of this wonderful blog will bring lots of attention to your debut and don't underestimate the power of word of mouth promo.

As far as promotional materials go, I love bookmarks. They're my favorite promo item and, as someone else mentioned, I like to give them away to promote books I've enjoyed. Authors rarely come to my area for signings so that's not even on my radar.

Kim Howe said...

Susan, you can count on me to buy a copy or two! I'll never forget watching you up on that stage receiving the Golden Heart, knowing that Money, Honey would soon make it to print. Can't wait!

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL, Susan, honey, it isn't THAT bad!

Hell, you already know how to blog. You're an expert at it! Every blog you ask to host you, and quite frankly, other than us I think you only need to do about 10 others...will LOVE hosting you and ask you to come back for your humor and spunkiness alone!

I'd avoid chocthkies (sp?) Well, other than pens, I find them useless. Postcards? Order them from Earthly charms and make the book cover the entire front. Mail me a dozen to hand deliver to readers.

Don't wait until the book is due out to talk to the booksellers, do it now. Ask to speak to the store's Romance book buyer. "Hi, I'm Susan Sey, a local romance author and was wondering if you have my friend, Anna Campbell, Donna MacMeans, Tawny Weber, Jeanne Adams, BEth Andrews, Christy Kelley, Trish Milburn, Loucinda McGary or NYT Bestseller Kate Carlisle's new book? You do? Oh good, where is your romance section? Why yes, I have a book coming out this summer, MONEY, HONEY. Here, let me give you a postcard." (Note, ONE DAMN POSTCARD at this time!) Repeat process sans postcard the next month....Be yourself, ask her who she'd recommend you read in your subgenre.

See, not that hard!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey P226! Nice grab on the bird...He probably needs to work off all the holiday food he's been eating.

Gillian Layne said...

I love reminders, really. Newsletters rock--I just got Aunt Cindy's this morning, and enjoyed it very much. Bookmarks are wonderful. But mostly, as I'm wandering frantically between kiddos stuff and my stuff and hubby's stuff, etc....I need the reminder! So feel free to mention it proudly and often. :)

Susan Sey said...

Deb wrote: I like to see/read/hear authors on blogs like this one. I've been able to get to know you Romance Bandits as persons and fellow posters as well as authors. I like how thoughts and ideas are shared here and it can be done confidently because I know what I say will be validated even if it is my opinion.

Good morning, Deb! And I have to say, I'm with you on loving the lair as a safe place to float ideas and meet writers I might like. We have all sorts of people here, with all sorts of varied opinions on varied things. And yet we all come together over a good read.

and that's the bottom line, isn't it? Coming together over a shared love of books? I've picked up authors I've never heard of because somebody here knows and recommends them. It's like have a romance librarian at my fingertips at all times. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Monajem wrote: This is probably sacrilegious, but I don't care much for book signings. Unless the author is either already super-famous or one of those naturally entertaining personalities, signings are sort of awkward.

Amen, sister! I see writers in the bookstore sometimes, sitting at a table with books stacked all around them while people avoid eye contact and scurry past to the bathroom. I feel so awful for the author and pray that I'll never have to endure such a thing.

And congrats on getting past the panic stage of self-promo! I'm looking forward to numb, myself. Is your book out already, or are you still waiting? What are you doing for promo? Inquiring (and desperate) minds want to know!

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I love your post you always have me laughing thank you I have had a really bad day and it was just what I needed.

I'm so glad you got a chuckle, Helen, especially if it was well-needed. Hope your day turns itself around!

Helen also wrote: I love visiting the blogs and author websites I love bookmarks and postcards and coverflats as well. I love to get to "know" the author I love getting newsletters and emails about happenings

That's what it comes down to, isn't it, Helen? Getting to know the author. Whatever you can do to promote a connection between reader, writer & the book. Hmmm... I'm going to chew on that one. Thanks!

Susan Sey said...

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna wrote: As far as the extras I like bookmarks, you can never have enough, I give them to friends at work to get their attention for a particular book. I like the blogs as a way to meet authors.

You really do that? Give away bookmark to promo a book you like? I might be in love with you. :-)

I love meeting authors on blogs, too. It's so much fun to see if their 'voice' on the blog matches their voice in their books. Or if their personalities are as fun/dark/light/tortured as you'd expect given what they write. It's sort of like meeting a person in the flesh after having a strictly email or phone relationship up until that point. Oddly fascinating and riveting. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: Aww, more time would just make you more jittery. not more prepared. Plunge right in. You can do this!

**deep breath** Yes. I can do this. I'm jumping in. I'm...I'm waiting for cover art so I can order those post cards and book marks. :-) But the minute I have cover art, I'm totally on it. Yes. Completely on it. Raring to go... I'm just going to, um, hyperventilate real quick here. One moment. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Janga wrote: Most of the experts say a website is the most important promo, and I, as a reader, agree. The first thing I do before trying a new or new-to-me author is check out the web site. But I think being a real presence (as opposed to a drive-by desperate) on boards, blogs, or social networks is almost as important.

I have to agree, Janga! I always visit the website & (I'm chagrined to say) make instant snap judgments. Is it too crowded? Too cutesy? Is there too much going on? Can I find my way around? Does it look home grown? Is there extra content that appeals to me?

I'm in the process of having a website designed right now and am discovering I know way more about what I *don't* want than what I do.

Anybody have any advice for me on that front? What do you like in a website? What turns you off? I myself don't care for moving parts. Things that fade in & out, letters that dance around & fly in from parts unknown. It distracts me.

Oh, & I'm totally with you on the not caring for book signings. I have a terrible time engaging with people I don't know, even when I desperately want to meet them. I can't tell you how many times I've avoided saying hello to SEP (my personal idol) at RWA nationals just because I have nothing to say beyond that.

Susan Sey said...

Minna wrote: Happy New Year!


Happy New Year right back, Minna! I'll check out your links after yogo class, & get back to you. (Yoga is a one of my new year's resolutions--more flexibility. Kirsten will be so proud of me, no?)

Susan Sey said...

PJ said: Susan, you have me laughing out loud this morning. If that voice comes through in Money, Honey you aren't going to have one bit of trouble selling books!

I hope you're right, PJ, because my voice isn't a choice so much as the only game in town for me. It's not funny exactly but it's definitely not serious or sincere, but it's the only way I write, regardless of the subject matter. It's all I've got, so I'm just going to hit my knees & pray to whoever's in charge of such things enough people find it charming that I'll earn out my advance. That's my only goal right now. And it was a modest advance, so it's a modest goal. :-)

Susan Sey said...

PJ also wrote: As far as promotional materials go, I love bookmarks. They're my favorite promo item and, as someone else mentioned, I like to give them away to promote books I've enjoyed.

Oh, wow, you give away bookmarks to promote authors, too?? I might be in love with you, too! Do you like to see the cover art on the book mark, or do you like web addresses & blurbs too?

Susan Sey said...

Kim wrote: I'll never forget watching you up on that stage receiving the Golden Heart, knowing that Money, Honey would soon make it to print. Can't wait!

Okay, it's not fair to make me cry this early in the morning! I have very little recollection of what I said when I stood up on the stage. I do remember thinking, "Wow, that screen is huge. Look at the size of my head!" And I remember giving the banditas the first shout out because you guys were the first people in my heart. You guys should definitely look for yourselves on my dedication page!

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: Don't wait until the book is due out to talk to the booksellers, do it now. Ask to speak to the store's Romance book buyer. "Hi, I'm Susan Sey, a local romance author and was wondering if you have my friend, Anna Campbell, Donna MacMeans, Tawny Weber, Jeanne Adams, BEth Andrews, Christy Kelley, Trish Milburn, Loucinda McGary or NYT Bestseller Kate Carlisle's new book? You do? Oh good, where is your romance section? Why yes, I have a book coming out this summer, MONEY, HONEY. Here, let me give you a postcard." (Note, ONE DAMN POSTCARD at this time!) Repeat process sans postcard the next month....Be yourself, ask her who she'd recommend you read in your subgenre.


Oh, Suz, it's so clear to me why you're such a great labor & delivery nurse. You've just pointed me at a terribly difficult experience & made it sound so simple and do-able. If you were here I'd squeeze you. :-)

And I'll most certainly send you bookmarks for distribution. You're my promo goddess and I kneel at your feet, awaiting further instructions.

Susan Sey said...

Gillian Layne wrote: I love reminders, really. Newsletters rock--I just got Aunt Cindy's this morning, and enjoyed it very much. Bookmarks are wonderful. But mostly, as I'm wandering frantically between kiddos stuff and my stuff and hubby's stuff, etc....I need the reminder! So feel free to mention it proudly and often. :)

This is great info, Gillian! Thanks! I'm so worried about bothering people that sometimes I think I err on the side of being too cautious. But I'm definitely making sure my website has newsletter capability, so that newsletter will be up and running in a month or two!

I'll certainly let you all know. :-)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh yeah, go to a local book signing at your local store, even if it's a self-help author. Pay attention to where they seat the author, how they treat the author. Talk to the author, buy a book to be nice...it's tax deductable for us! (Market research.)

Jo Davis has made friends with her local B&N booksellers. (NOTE: MAKE THEM YOUR FRIEND FIRST, everything else is gravy.) They place her between the information desk and the STARBUCKS. They make a big deal out of a booksigning for her AND she signed her debut book there, complete with coffee and brownie samples for anyone passing through. Then, you tell all your Yoga class members, PTA moms, church friends, family, etc...the date of the signing YOU plan with the bookseller. Make sure everyone you tell knows you'd like their support and showing up at the signing is a big way for them to support you!

MsHellion said...

Susan, you should come blog with the pirates when your book comes out. We'd love to have you; and Jack would love to interview you. He's very good with virgins...I mean...never mind.

I completely empathize with your entire list: I can't do any of those either. But I don't do salads because I'm a meat-eater, not a vegetarian.

Keira Soleore said...

Susan, you'll get the hang of it. After all, you're starting your new year out right. You're panicing six months in advance. So by the time a few weeks go by, the panic will fade as your amazing organizational skills will kick into high gear and soon you'll be conning, er, persuading your dad into doing this or that or advising on this or that. You have a marvelous network of friends you can delegate to. You have the marvelous published Banditas who'll offer a wealth of experienced advice. You've been successfully and fabulously blogging for more than two years. It's a snap! You'll be a grand success.

TerriOsburn said...

Looks like the bird will be blowing up the New Year. LOL! I hear singed feathers are going to be all the rage in 2010.

Great blog, Susan. And thanks for making me feel better about being PRE-pubbed. LOL! I have complete faith your book will be a huge success, fancy bookmarks or no. I know I'm buying it and I'm pretty sure you'll sell a couple thousand copies through this blog alone.

As for promo advice, as a reader, I hate when an author does a guest blog and a) doesn't visit the blog all day, b) gives pat answers that make it clear she's too busy to bother with the commenters, or c) ignores my comment in particular.

That last one is sort of selfish and vain, but there you go. However, you (and the other Bandits) are pros at this. You practice it everyday which is why I love coming here.

Forget about Tchotchkes and just have faith. You'll be a smash!

Beth said...

Susan, I love learning about new authors from reading blogs and have found many a new favorite author right here in the lair. And I CAN NOT WAIT until Money Honey comes out!! It's going to be a huge hit :-)

As for promotion, I have to admit it stresses me a bit (hey, I'm a poet). One thing I'm going to work on in 2010 is selling myself (er...selling my BOOKS, I mean *g*) My husband is constantly giving out bookmarks and hawking my books but I just sort of...freeze.

I need to just get over it ;-)

Happy New Year, all!!

p226 said...

Oh no. No training for the bird today. No workouts. His experience will be cultural.

You see, we're going "up a holler" for New Years. Mhhmm. We're gonna build a big fire. We're going to use the '85 Chevy Chevette sittin' on blocks up the holler as a generator to power the 4000 watt CB radio. Never mind that every time we key up the mic and blast a banjo and a washboard into space, the RPMs on the Chevette drop by a thousand. We're going to drink stuff that was brewed in copper pots and smells like corn while we broadcast live bluegrass music and questionable discourse to Canada and Mexico on CB bands. And the FCC can kiss our asses. And no one gets a DUI on four-wheelers. Might get killed or maimed, but no DUIs. There ain't a deputy in the county that's going to try to drive his cruiser up that holler on new year's eve. On new year's eve, we remember the revenuer. Yes we do. Tax-man might disappear up in those parts. Those woods are big. And they're rugged. Even searchin' with a helicopter it might take weeks to find a cruiser upside down under a pine tree.

Yeah, the GR's gonna get some Appalachian culture tonight. Oh yeah. I'm not even gonna warn him about the women. If he wants to find out that Appalachian women are not to be trifled with, well, that's all on him. Hopefully he's not found in the cruiser with the revenuer on account of actin' like a fool to some mountain woman. Which may be a real concern after he gets some of that stuff in him what comes out of mason jars.

Now, as for the blog topic today, I suck at a lot of things. The list of things at which I suck, vastly exceeds the list of things that I'm good at. However, the saving factor is obviously the fact that of those things I'm good at, I'm good enough to get by pretty well in life. I have to think that with writers, this principle is key. Does their work not stand on its own? Doesn't it sell itself, more or less? Whatever marketing YOU push behind it, is just adding icing to the cake, right?

What turns me on or off about a writer? Nothing more or less than their writing. I think there are many like me, so one interesting thing to do, might be to look at the math analytically. Though, presumably you'd have to have historical data. But let's say you sell 10k books. How many of those 10k readers actually show up on blogs, at signings, etc. I really have no idea, and can't make an estimate. But authors with several publications should, no? As should the publishing company. They should have metrics. X percent of your readership can be expected to attempt to interact with you personally via blogs, emails, your website, book signings, etc. You compile those numbers and percentages, you learn exactly how much is at stake regarding your public presentation of yourself, right?

I'd be asking. What percentage of sales do I risk winning or losing via my presentation of my public persona? That's something I'd really want to know. Because, if it's .05%, I wouldn't really care too much about what I do or how I do it in terms of personal marketing. If it's 30%, I might care enough to take concrete steps to ensure my presentation of myself is as positive as possible.

In my business, my ability to market myself and my skills accounts for more than 50% of my initial contracts. After the initial contract, it boils down to the quality of my work. But I have hard metrics to get me to that 50% number. I know exactly how much importance to place on my sales/marketing skills. Just as a simple example that there's a likely ROI in investing in a quality business suit. Because in the legal community, your clothes matter. Especially when forming first impressions.

Ok, enough from me. I'm off to watch the rooster drink some clear liquids from a mason jar.

Barbara Monajem said...

Susan asked: Is your book out already, or are you still waiting? What are you doing for promo? Inquiring (and desperate) minds want to know!

One of my books is out TOMORROW!! It's a short ebook from Harlequin, and I'll be blogging here (!!) on January 6th, and mentioning it briefly. The other is a paranormal out at the end of March.

I'm probably not a good example to follow. I took an on line promo course, and it was really helpful, but the instructor said, basically, that since you can't possibly do everything, do what you're comfortable with. I sort of agree -- you don't want to do a song and dance routine if you aren't either really good or terrible enough to be comic -- but it's probably a good thing to push out of your comfort zone. That said, I haven't done any of the really salesy stuff. I did introduce myself to a bookseller once, who was bubbly and sweet and encouraging. Whee! Then she sent me to the customer info desk, where the woman was exactly the opposite. I swear, I got the feeling she didn't believe a word I was saying. You? Published? Impossible.

Anyway, luckily one of my daughters works part time for Borders, and I know most of the people who work for her store, so there's one place where I'll get promoted. Yay!

Apart from that, mostly the website (which another daughter did for me), blogging, and commenting on blogs just to get into the flow of things. I had no idea how much fun reading and commenting would be. Bookmarks, which I will send to lots of stores and give out whenever I can. I've been wondering about doing tote bags with my paranormal cover on them... just a few, for prizes on blog contests. And chats... I've participated in a few, and it was a lot easier than I expected. The people who run chats know how to keep things rolling. And ads in a few magazines and an on line review site. And sending books out for review (Note to self - get cracking!) I even managed to get picked for the Cherry Forums book club, but I didn't do anything to deserve that... I just have some very kind friends out there.

I'm sure you'll do fine. I love your Voice, which definitely deserves a capital V.

TerriOsburn said...

p226 - A large number of my family lives in a hollar in the middle of WVA. Burnsville to be exact. That sounds exactly like how they'd spend the holiday. Only I'm guessing there will be fireworks involved.

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: Jo Davis has made friends with her local B&N booksellers. (NOTE: MAKE THEM YOUR FRIEND FIRST, everything else is gravy.) They place her between the information desk and the STARBUCKS.

Good lord. I think I'll run over to B&N right now. It's not like I'm not there all the time anyway. I just have to come out as an author and ask if they'll love me. Oh, yeah, and place my book between the info booth & the coffee shop. :-)

Thanks, Suz! As always, you're a wealth of information--all of it good and desperately needed!

Susan Sey said...

MsHellion wrote: Susan, you should come blog with the pirates when your book comes out. We'd love to have you; and Jack would love to interview you. He's very good with virgins...I mean...never mind.

Ooooh. Even if I didn't have a book to pimp, I'd wander over. Your Jack sounds...delicious. :-) I'll swing by. Do I have to aaaarrrrgh while I'm there? I dearly love to aaaarrrgh.

Susan Sey said...

Keira wrote: Susan, you'll get the hang of it. After all, you're starting your new year out right. You're panicing six months in advance.

Thanks, Keira! I hate to rush a good panic. :-) And you're right--hopefully this'll wear off shortly & I can get down to the business of figuring my stuff out. If a constant stream of whining & kvetching counts as keeping everybody posted, you can count on me. :-)

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn wrote: As for promo advice, as a reader, I hate when an author does a guest blog and a) doesn't visit the blog all day, b) gives pat answers that make it clear she's too busy to bother with the commenters, or c) ignores my comment in particular.

I know, right? I feel so strongly that if you're going to be somewhere, you ought to BE there. It's a rule for blogging, for life, for everything. Don't waste time; it's too precious. Be where you are.

That said, however, I have to admit the banditas have trained me well. I knew nothing about blogging when I started with the RBs--not the rules, not the format, not the etiquette. Now I'd die before I guested on somebody's blog and didn't pull out the stops to connect with every guest and really pay attention. Promo gurus like Suz and Cassondra schooled me well. Our established authors like Anna C. and Tawny and Trish showed me the way. I'm not saying I won't screw up, but at least I have a fighting chance at getting it right. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Terri Osburn also wrote: Great blog, Susan. And thanks for making me feel better about being PRE-pubbed. LOL!

Oh, honey, your time is coming. Take notes on my panic for when you need to have your own. Then email me & I'll send you my notes on everything I learned. :-)

MsHellion said...

Ooooh. Even if I didn't have a book to pimp, I'd wander over. Your Jack sounds...delicious. :-) I'll swing by. Do I have to aaaarrrrgh while I'm there? I dearly love to aaaarrrgh.

You can aaarrrrgh as much as you like. Jack likes a screamer. Or a moaner. Or both. He's easy.

And he loves money, so he already loves your title.

Susan Sey said...

Beth wrote: As for promotion, I have to admit it stresses me a bit (hey, I'm a poet). One thing I'm going to work on in 2010 is selling myself (er...selling my BOOKS, I mean *g*) My husband is constantly giving out bookmarks and hawking my books but I just sort of...freeze.

I need to just get over it ;-)


Yeah, baby, get out there & share! Don't hide your light under a bushel! No! Let it shine! And then tell me how you did it without having a panic attack, and I'll be right behind you. :-)

Seriously, though, do come back & share your progress. We writers aren't often lucky enough to be extroverts, & putting yourself and your work out there is the hardest part of the job. I'd love to know how other authors handle it.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: Oh no. No training for the bird today. No workouts. His experience will be cultural.

You see, we're going "up a holler" for New Years. Mhhmm.


Oh...my. You're going to let the GR drink homemade liquor & drive a 4 wheeler? Eeeee-yikes. You *will* report back tomorrow, won't you? I'm pretty sure I want to know how that goes for you. :-)

I'll give you til noon to check in, then we're sending the authorities. Just in case. :-)

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: Though, presumably you'd have to have historical data. But let's say you sell 10k books. How many of those 10k readers actually show up on blogs, at signings, etc. I really have no idea, and can't make an estimate. But authors with several publications should, no? As should the publishing company. They should have metrics. X percent of your readership can be expected to attempt to interact with you personally via blogs, emails, your website, book signings, etc. You compile those numbers and percentages, you learn exactly how much is at stake regarding your public presentation of yourself, right?

Such good questions. You would think, wouldn't you, with so much revenue at stake that *somebody* would have compiled this info, wouldn't you? But to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever has. Not authors, not publishing houses. Every time I try to ask people what they do promotionally, what works, what doesn't, where they saw some bang for their buck, they all just shrug.

Nobody really knows what works.

(You see now why I'm just going ahead with the panic?)

And since either nobody really knows, or they just aren't talking for fear that I'll steal their Idea That Works, I don't have the first clue how effort or dollars translate into sales.

But your question about how much an author's personality can influence sales is such a good one. If I know how many people out there depend on knowing ME versus knowing my work to make their buying decision, I'd be able to make a rational choice about how much of myself I want to put on stage.

Because, of course, by putting myself on stage, making myself a factor in people's buying decision, I absolutely risk alienating some buyers who might like my book but will hate me. That could be a problem. Hard to make yourself universally appealing, you know?

What I'm hearing over & over is that since nobody knows what works, you can't really make a good decision about that. The best a debut author can hope for is to make a sincere effort toward something in order to demonstrate to her publisher that she's holding up her end of the deal. She's *trying*.

So that's really my goal. To do whatever I think is within my budget and stands a reasonable chance of favorably impacting my sales. And to show Berkley that I'm trying as hard as I can.

After that? It's anybody's guess.

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Monajem wrote: One of my books is out TOMORROW!! It's a short ebook from Harlequin, and I'll be blogging here (!!) on January 6th, and mentioning it briefly. The other is a paranormal out at the end of March.

WHEEEEEE!!!! Hey, congratulations! That's wonderful! I'll check out your ebook for sure & put the paranormal on my calendar! Looking forward to seeing you on the blog on the 6th!

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Monajem wrote: I took an on line promo course, and it was really helpful, but the instructor said, basically, that since you can't possibly do everything, do what you're comfortable with. I sort of agree -- you don't want to do a song and dance routine if you aren't either really good or terrible enough to be comic -- but it's probably a good thing to push out of your comfort zone.

Ooooh, that's one of those Life Rules things, isn't it? Either be Good or be Bad, but don't be in between. Good is fabulous, Bad is entertaining, but middling is just embarassing.

I think your experience talking with the book seller is what I'm afraid of. That I'll go in there & say, "Hey, I'm an author," and I'll get the "Who, you???" look. Ouch. Do let us know how things go for you--I'd love to know if you get good feedback on the totebags. I love bags. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Terri Osburn wrote: A large number of my family lives in a hollar in the middle of WVA. Burnsville to be exact. That sounds exactly like how they'd spend the holiday. Only I'm guessing there will be fireworks involved.

Um, hey, you might want to give them the heads up that the GR is in their backyard tonight. If he gets a beakful, they might want to lock up their women & children. :-)

Susan Sey said...

MsHellion wrote: You can aaarrrrgh as much as you like. Jack likes a screamer. Or a moaner. Or both. He's easy.

Yowza! I'm on my way.

Right.

Now.

:-)

Nancy said...

p226, congrats on taking home the bird! I am, of course, relieved that you will not be teaching him any new and troublesome skills. If you could manage to instill an inclination to clean up after himself, however, that would be great.

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TerriOsburn said...

Susan said:
Oh, honey, your time is coming. Take notes on my panic for when you need to have your own. Then email me & I'll send you my notes on everything I learned. :-)

I am totally holding you to that. LOL! Thanks, you're so sweet. Lucky for me, I'm a total extravert. I'll talk to anyone who will listen.

BUT, I hate to sell things. Talking TO and talking AT people is two different things. I can talk TO you all day shooting the breeze. Talking AT you to get you to buy something makes me want to hide.

And we'll take good care of you on the Pirate ship. (I'm Bo'sun over there. *g*) You can Argh! or Matey! or brandish a sword all you want. We even keep extras around for guests.

Nancy said...

Susan, I feel your pain. I couldn't sell toothbrushes to benefit the high school marching band in the town where I'd lived my entire life. And I ask you--who doesn't need a toothbrush?

The sad truth is that no book is going to please everyone, and no one is going to be universally beloved. (Not even the GR, his opinions to the contrary notwithstanding.) And we always risk turning someone off in any public appearance. But I firmly believe that 99% of people exposed to your sense of humor will run out to buy Money, Honey without delay.

As for what I personally pay attention to--blogs on occasion, ads with catchy blurbs in magazines, review sites that are run by people whose opinions I trust, and mainly word of mouth. Bookmarks in store racks do nothing for me (but I've been known to slide Bandita bookmarks into the new copies of their books on the shelves, 'cause getting an extra with a book makes me pick it up and look at it).

I look at my own website blurbs and, with one exception, think someone who actually knew how to sell stuff would do them better. So if you figure out the secret, please share!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: If you could manage to instill an inclination to clean up after himself, however, that would be great.

Yeah, & if you manage that, will you bottle the magic & send it my way? I have these kids...

Susan Sey said...

Teri Osburn wrote: BUT, I hate to sell things. Talking TO and talking AT people is two different things. I can talk TO you all day shooting the breeze. Talking AT you to get you to buy something makes me want to hide.

Oh, lord, tell me about it. I love to meet people when there's nothing at stake & I'm in place where I'm comfortable & known. But make me try to sell something, even my beloved book? Hives.

Tell you what, when your time comes, let's just set up our little table together. If people ignore us, we can talk to each other. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Terri Osburn wrote: And we'll take good care of you on the Pirate ship. (I'm Bo'sun over there. *g*) You can Argh! or Matey! or brandish a sword all you want. We even keep extras around for guests.

I was just there! Yummy bad boys blog! Was MsHellion the one responsible? I didn't quite catch everybody's name--too busy getting my sea legs. :-)

And thanks for the permission to swashbuckle. I do love to buckle my swash. :-) I'll visit often!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: Susan, I feel your pain. I couldn't sell toothbrushes to benefit the high school marching band in the town where I'd lived my entire life. And I ask you--who doesn't need a toothbrush?

Thank you! People who can sell just don't understand this. They think we aren't trying or something. But I seriously can't even sell girl scout cookies, and people want those even more than they need toothbrushes.

Ooooh, brain flash! First, I'll go to the door & sell 'em some cookies. Then you come by with the toothbrushes. Genius! Everybody needs to brush their teeth after sweetes! Why am I not selling stuff again??

Oh. Because I come up with ideas like this one. Right.

TerriOsburn said...

It's a date!

The bad boys were courtesy of our Quartermaster Sin. We're each picking our favorites this week and our Gunner Marnee picked that one and reposted it.

But MsHellion (Hellie) is known as the most brilliant one aboard. Hence, her title as Captain. LOL!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: As for what I personally pay attention to--blogs on occasion, ads with catchy blurbs in magazines, review sites that are run by people whose opinions I trust, and mainly word of mouth. Bookmarks in store racks do nothing for me (but I've been known to slide Bandita bookmarks into the new copies of their books on the shelves, 'cause getting an extra with a book makes me pick it up and look at it).

I'm with you--what really pushes me into buy rather than look mode is hearing somebody whose taste I know & trust say it's an awesome book. (Those I also agree that the bookmark--or any little extra that gets you to at least pick the book up--can't hurt.)

If I glean any wisdom at all from this gauntlet I am about to run, I will certainly share. I'll depend on you guys to return the favor.

Susan Sey said...

terri osburn wrote: The bad boys were courtesy of our Quartermaster Sin. We're each picking our favorites this week and our Gunner Marnee picked that one and reposted it.

Totally worth reposting, imho. :-)

You guys should get over there & check it out.

www.romancewritersrevenge.com

Kirsten said...

Hey Suz! Hilarious blog, as usual! I'm just returning from the woods and trying to figure out WHERE my couch went, and why there's a guinea pig squealing in my basement.

Oh yeah. Christmas. :-)

Anyway, here's my update from the promotion wars. I got galleys for my book (Delcroix Academy, forthcoming August 24 2010!) last month, and ever since then have been COLD CONTACTING amazing authors and booksellers asking them for blurbs. Those are the cover quotes (Amazing debut! Thrilling! Engaging!) you pray you'll be able to snag from stunning and important authors like Anna Campbell, Christine Wells, and all the other Banditas...

I've been blown off by a couple, and told no by a few who are too busy. But most have been VERY VERY nice about it, and a few agreed to read the book. Now I'm terrified by the prospect of someone actually reading it. THE HORROR!!

I threw together a website so I can finally stop being embarrassed by not having a website. But I've got the added complication of writing under two names. Banditas and BBs know me as Kirsten, but my YA will be published under Inara. So if I ever sell an adult romance, I'll have to do this ALL OVER AGAIN! AWK!

Susan, if anyone can do this, you can. You're bright, engaging, funny, and smart as a whip. You'll master this promotion thing and your book will be a huge hit. I have no doubt about it.

hugs,
Kirsten

(who can also be found at: www.inarascott.net)

Kirsten said...

Oh, point of clarification: I'm writing to booksellers for promo purposes but not for blurbs. The blurbs are from other authors. I'm hoping to nag Powell's (the best bookstore in the world) into hosting my launch party. I've got my fingers crossed on that. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Susan said: "Either be Good or be Bad, but don't be in between. Good is fabulous, Bad is entertaining, but middling is just embarassing."

NO WORRIES! I don't think anyone would ever accuse ANY of us Banditas as being middling! :-P

And I leave the salad making to the DH. He excels at salads that are also dinner, and we have a dozen avocados ripening on the window sill right now just to prove it!

AC
who has been told she is VERY entertaining on many occasions... Was that really a compliment?!?!

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote:I'm just returning from the woods and trying to figure out WHERE my couch went, and why there's a guinea pig squealing in my basement.

Oh, yeah, that happens to me all the time. The couch thing, not the guinea pig thing. Though I've recently been tempted by some guinea pigs. A friend bought her kids a couple, thinking they were both girls. Then one had babies. Which meant while she'd been right about one of them being a girl, she'd been wrong about the other.

Heh.

Anyway, I'm thinking about it. Anybody want to weigh in on the merits of guinea pigs as pets for the 3-6 year old set?

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: Anyway, here's my update from the promotion wars. I got galleys for my book (Delcroix Academy, forthcoming August 24 2010!) last month, and ever since then have been COLD CONTACTING amazing authors and booksellers asking them for blurbs.

Oh my dear! How are you holding up?? Have you actually been telephoning people, or emailing? Because I think I could email somebody, given enough time & editing. Calling them on the phone, however? I'd pass out COLD.

And I am thinking about where to hold a release party. I need to get in touch with my local Barnes & Noble, but I paid my first visit to Garrison Keillor's book store in St. Paul this weekend & found myself tempted by his Quality Trash Section. Do you think they'd carry my book?

Kirsten said...

Ooh, I had no idea Garrison had a bookstore with a trashy section! How fun! Yes, you should definitely get them to carry your book. Absolutely.

I have been emailing. God forbid I have to speak to anyone in person. Gah. I don't think I could even make myself dial the number.

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: And I leave the salad making to the DH. He excels at salads that are also dinner, and we have a dozen avocados ripening on the window sill right now just to prove it!

Awww. It's about 5 degrees here right now (Farenheit). Suffice it to say there is NOTHING ripening on my window sill right now. What I wouldn't give for a ripe avacado salad. Sigh. We're in the dark days here in the upper midwest where we won't see a decent tomato for six more months and everything comes with a layer of melted cheese.

Happily, I went to my first yoga class this morning & about died. Who knew all that stretching and breathing could nearly kill a girl? I used to think I was in decent shape, too. So avacados or no, I'm on the right path. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh dear, Susan. I fear I'm snorking about your dilemma and all these comments so much that I may not be able to really be sober enough to offer advice. SNORK!!!

Panic? Yep, I checked that one off my list and I DO know how to sell. I can sell snow to Eskimos, mostly because I love snow. However, sell books? My books? That I can always see the flaws in?

Ummmm, not so much.

Like Beth, my DH is always handing out my book marks. Once people get that "oooh, you're an author?" thing going, I can talk to them about anything (tho' usually not the book!?!?) and most of the time, even if we talked about the Water Spaniel doing Dock Diving and or mythical roosters, or heck, baseball, they buy my book.

It's abby-normal. I know this. But I have gone to events and talked about everything BUT the book and still sold books. That's my kind of promo. :>

Putting on my marketing hat, I don't think the giveaway things are very practical on a ROI basis. Most ads aren't either - they're either preaching to the choir and the converted, or they're a shot in the dark. You may hear one resounding "OUCH!" but do they sell more than one? Who knows. And if you can't track it...don't do it.

Like you, I wish like anything our publishers had P226's mentality on collecting data. Wouldn't THAT be a Christmas Miracle? Then again, books often defy those odds.

Linda Howard does not now, nor has she ever had a website. Nor does she blog. Hits the bestseller list every time. Nora? Website. Personal appearances. No blogging.

Me, I'm all for the blogging. We've made a community here and I think that this is your best bet, right here at home. You're among friends who already love you, love books, and are willing to give you a shot because they LOL over your blog posts. Then they tell two people, and they tell two people and they tell...you get the idea.

And you go on the Pirate Ship Revenge which is one of the most fun places EVAH! And the bartender over there? Goot Lawd, that woman can brew up some stuff!

So, all that nuttiness is to say, you'll do GREAT. We love you, support you and are going to be hand selling your book in OUR bookstores because it's SO much easier than selling our OWN! Hahahah! (And Money Honey is a fabooo book, which always helps!)

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: Ooh, I had no idea Garrison had a bookstore with a trashy section! How fun! Yes, you should definitely get them to carry your book. Absolutely.

Maybe I'll give them time to forget how my children ran around their store like wild animals, then wander in all by my civilized self. :-) Worth a try, definitely.

Kirsten also wrote: I have been emailing. God forbid I have to speak to anyone in person. Gah. I don't think I could even make myself dial the number.

Whew! For a minute you had me worried. I thought I might have to, you know, talk. To strangers.

Ooooh. I feel faint just thinking about it.

Deep breathing. Deeeeep breathing.

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne wrote: It's abby-normal. I know this. But I have gone to events and talked about everything BUT the book and still sold books. That's my kind of promo. :>

This works for me! And I know you can sell because I've stood beside you & watched you do it! But I am relieved to know that I can still fulfill my selling responsibilities by talking about things besides how awesome I am. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, P226? I have a holler like that back home in NC. Grins. All I have to say is, What revenoors? Those nice men in the suits? Awww, they were just good ol' boys under all that starch...get a few jars in 'em and they shot up their own car and just stayed. *VWG*

Never underestimate a good Mason jar full of...juice. Yeah, yeah, that's it. Juice.

As to that bird? I don't EVEN want to know. I think he's savvy enough not to get plucked by irritating some mountain gal - Cassondra and I've warned him enough! - but the 'shine? I'm not sure he's ready for THAT.

Grins. Maybe Mrs. P226 should babysit him....

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne wrote: Me, I'm all for the blogging. We've made a community here and I think that this is your best bet, right here at home. You're among friends who already love you, love books, and are willing to give you a shot because they LOL over your blog posts. Then they tell two people, and they tell two people and they tell...you get the idea.

You're right, of course. This is where I've already invested, this is where my friends are. This is where it all starts & ends.

Althought I wouldn't mind getting in good with that bartender you mentioned over at Romance Writer's Revenge. Arrrrrgh! :-)

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne wrote: Those nice men in the suits? Awww, they were just good ol' boys under all that starch...get a few jars in 'em and they shot up their own car and just stayed. *VWG*

Shot up their car? Wow. I need to get me one of those jars of, um, juice. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Janga, THANX BUNCHES for including my July release "The Wild Irish Sea" on your list of books for 2010!

And Gillian, I'm sooo glad you enjoy my monthly newsletter (I barely squeezed it in this month)! I try to give newsletter members a few little extras throughout the year as a way of thanking you all for your loyalty. :-) And I try to keep the posting down to once or twice a month so I'm not annoying anyone with YET ANOTHER email!

Susan, definitely contact your publisher's marketing dept. and ask if they will supply bookmarks or post cards. Never hurts to ask...

AC

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Susan said: Shot up their car? Wow. I need to get me one of those jars of, um, juice. :-)

Heeeeeeey, maybe THAT's the secret to selling some books...brew up a batch of juice and offer samples when you buy the book. Wonder if my uncle would help me out with that little option....

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: Janga, THANX BUNCHES for including my July release "The Wild Irish Sea" on your list of books for 2010!

Oh, I forgot to say thanks, too! For including Money Honey! I was so stunned you'd do such a thing I forgot to say thanks! Thanks!

And AC, I'll definitely be in touch with Berkley's publicity department to see what they're willing to spring for. Good advice!

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne wrote: Heeeeeeey, maybe THAT's the secret to selling some books...brew up a batch of juice and offer samples when you buy the book.

Or maybe just sneak in a flask & offer myself a sample every time I need to talk to a stranger. Wouldn't *that* get friendly fast??

Susan Sey said...

I'm off to run some last 2009 errands with the family--be back in an hour or two! Don't drink all the 'juice' without me!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Susan,

One last thing, before I nap for work...The ONLY thing that annoys me about authors is when they write a bad book.

I already LOVE your voice. I can't imagine not loving it in story telling mode. So please relax. The book will do most of the PR work for you!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Susan Sey said...
You really do that? Give away bookmark to promo a book you like? I might be in love with you. :-)

Oh yeah, I do that, I thought that was what they were for. There is a small bookstore I take them too as well. It sells used books but if I have enough I take them in for her to give out with her books. Anything to get a person's interest. Tawny and Aunt Cindy have sent me little packets and I shared them at work and the book shop.

One author made special bookmarks with a little beaded dragonfly (no, I don't share the special ones like that I am greedy that way.) but she included some plain bookmarks as well. That was nice. I can't remember now how long she said her and her sister worked on them. She took a regular bookmark and put a hole in the corner then they made these little "charms" and put them in the holes. It was an author I discovered here in the lair actually.

Nancy said...

Susan, the cookies/toothbrush tandem approach actually sounds pretty good to me. But I'm never, ever selling toothbrushes again. Or anything else door-to-door if I can avoid it.

On my toothbrush foray (or maybe it was for the subsequent year's attempt to sell tacky Christmas candles to benefit the band), I had company in the form of a fellow clarinet player who hated selling things even worse than I did. David, who had also lived there his entire life, and I agreed we would go around together and split the sales. Which we did.

But half of pitiful is just pathetic.

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, P226, on nabbing the rooster! I'll be watching the
news shows for any mysterious and unexplained occurrences!

Susan, I love your blog for today!
Hilarious! As for promo work, just
use your wonderful Voice,especially
in blogging. Several authors used
"blog tours" this year which I did
enjoy following!

Pat Cochran

p226 said...

Such good questions. You would think, wouldn't you, with so much revenue at stake that *somebody* would have compiled this info, wouldn't you? But to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever has. Not authors, not publishing houses. Every time I try to ask people what they do promotionally, what works, what doesn't, where they saw some bang for their buck, they all just shrug.

Nobody really knows what works.

(You see now why I'm just going ahead with the panic?)

And since either nobody really knows, or they just aren't talking for fear that I'll steal their Idea That Works, I don't have the first clue how effort or dollars translate into sales.


Wait, wait... lemme count...

There are TWENTY banditas. Most of you are published, no? I would think this would be EXACTLY the kind of thing you guys would collaborate. Share info on how many people were met per book. How many were exposed in how many ways via various mediums. What were the results? Are they individualistic results, or are there trends? Does grippin' and grinnin' sell books? Do websites?

I'm astonished that the publishers don't at least informally track this information. I'm surprised they aren't salivating over the logs from your websites. And from the google analytics data from this very blog. And how many people you meet at book signings.

I don't think authors should be expending tons of energy focusing on this stuff. After all, your job's to write, no? Not compile web-hits and bookmark distributions.

I'd imagine everyone agrees that there's marketing value in branding. The goal is "top of the mind awareness" among any of your readers. But what works, and what doesn't. If I were writing, that's exactly what I'd want to know. Because time and energy are valuable resources.

Nancy said...

Dianna, I maybe have one of those bookmarks. I actually won the booty from a guest, and the book came with a lovely bookmark that had a charm on it.

p226 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p226 said...

Here are some thoughts from my lovely wife on the matter.

Compare by market.

Take a city where you promoted your book in person. Find another city with similar racial, age, and other cultural demographics, where you did NOT promote. Compare the sales differences.

I bet any university in the US with a good business department would be a fertile ground for finding an instructor willing to inflict such an analysis on their students as a statistics class project.

p226 said...

Oh, another comment from Mrs. P226. She says she knows a professor that would do exactly that at her request. All she would need is the numbers from one or two distributors.

Nancy said...

Barbara, we're all looking forward to having you here in the Lair. I'm so thrilled that you sold and am enjoying Notorious Eliza! Based on this and the other bits of yours I've read, I think you are about to take off. :-)

Nancy said...

Kirsten, I can't wait to read your YA. Kids with super-powers!

That was the whole deal on Legion of Super-Heroes, my favorite ever comic book that I discovered in second grade and still love and inspired me to become a writer and had the first doomed but ultimately happily ending romance I ever read, between Lightning Lad and my favorite Legionnaire, Saturn Girl (who each tried to die to save the other) though I have to say the Silver Age incarnation grabbed me more than the current one, but still! They were teenagers solving inter-galactic crime and nailing super-villains. Whoo-hoo!

And I loved Teen Titans--kid sidekicks of major heroes. Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash were the original members. With fabulous art by Nicholas Peter Cardy, a courtly gentleman who still goes to the occasional con and is so incredibly nice to his fans.

And Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters--core of the X-Men mythos and backbone of a massive Marvel movie franchise.

I'm tellin' you, there're people out there who will gobble up the Delacroix Academy.

I think certain banditas (named Susan and Kirsten) whose first books will launch in 2010 are selling themselves waaaay the heck too short.

Frank said...

Woot, Susan!!! July!!! You rock!!!

Honestly, the one thing an author can do that may turn me away from her and her writing is not anything I can imagine you falling prey to! There have been a couple of authors who've flamed out big time by responding irrationally to negative/neutral reviewer/reader opinion, and that behavior has made me not only not-a-fan, but a keep-far-far-away-at-all-costs-non-fan...

Aside from that, blog visits, signings, cool bookmarks, etc. all just add to the allure :) Looking forward to next summer with happy anticipation, Susan!!

And congrats on the GR, p226!! Put him through his paces :)

--Fedora (using her DH's account)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

P226 said: How many were exposed in how many ways via various mediums.

Snork. Expose yourself to mediums. Would that be during a seance? Is it akin to expose yourself to art?

SNORK!!!

Sorry, it was there. I couldn't resist.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Susan said: Or maybe just sneak in a flask & offer myself a sample every time I need to talk to a stranger. Wouldn't *that* get friendly fast??

Ohhhhhh, yeah. Really, really fast...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

P226 said: Take a city where you promoted your book in person. Find another city with similar racial, age, and other cultural demographics, where you did NOT promote. Compare the sales differences.

I love this idea, P226. My only challenge with it is, that I've never heard of any distributor who tracks by city or region, and since a lot of our pub houses won't tell us initial print run, nor will they accuratly tell us returns in most cases (give us too much leverage in negotiating, I think), it's gonna be hard to measure data.

Still. Something to think about in a changing, active market with active, changing publishers who might be willing to cooperate.

*rubs chin, thinks hard*

Hmmm. Possible.

Barbara Monajem said...

Susan wrote: I went to my first yoga class this morning & about died. Who knew all that stretching and breathing could nearly kill a girl?

Groan. I signed up for a yoga class last fall. It was TORTURE. My shoulders in particular aren't USED to having any blood circulation. They about killed me for days after each class, and then it was time to go again.

But... to my astonishment, after a couple of weeks I could do a decent shoulder stand! Hadn't done those since my college days, so I was totally thrilled. It's worth it, I swear. (Says she who skipped the last two classes. Ah well.)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

BTW, Happy New Year Anna C, Christine, and any of our Aus, Southeast Asia, Chinese or Moscovian BBs! The dateline's moving our way....

WOOT!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AWWW! Thanx so much Dianna for spreading the word and my post cards/book marks! As soon as I get new ones, some will be headed YOUR WAY!

HUGS!
AC

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, P226! Great timing. He's put on a stone over Christmas, I swear!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2010 is all you could wish and more!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, 100 comments! We're starting the new year in style.

Susan, your list made me laugh. Especially as there are a few things that also start with S that I'm sure you don't suck at!

I've only recently developed any skill in the making of a salad. Do you want to know my secret weapon? Throw in some macadamia nuts. And if you haven't got those, go for almonds or pecans or walnuts. It's amazing - a nut turns an iceberg disaster into a gourmet extravaganza. Seriously! Um, and when I say a nut, I don't mean the woman putting the salad together.

Actually I really enjoy the networking aspect of writing. Don't think of it as selling. Think of it as talking to people who love to read romance as much as you do because really, that's what it is! I hate saying "Buy my book" - I'm currently coming out in hives because my Facebook page is approaching 5,000 and then horror of horrors, I'll have to ask people to be my fan because 5,000 is the limit for friends there. I want to be a friend - I don't want to nag people to be my fan! Bleuch!

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan -

I can't wait for Money Honey! Your humor comes through in your blogs so much so that I already know that I'm going to love this book - and that's really the best promotion, you know? I'm terrible about updating my website. I don't think I sent out a newsletter all year (sorry folks - I just don't think I'm interesting enough to merit a newsletter - I don't know what to write!) But I do love to meet readers face to face. Talking to strangers? That I can do.

2010 is going to be great. Happy New Year, Susan!

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: I already LOVE your voice. I can't imagine not loving it in story telling mode. So please relax. The book will do most of the PR work for you!

Aww. Thanks, Suz. And I'll try to relax. It isn't really in my DNA but I'll try. :-)

Susan Sey said...

hrdwrkdmom/dianna wrote: There is a small bookstore I take them too as well. It sells used books but if I have enough I take them in for her to give out with her books. Anything to get a person's interest. Tawny and Aunt Cindy have sent me little packets and I shared them at work and the book shop.

Wow. You're an angel, I think. When I get bookmarks can I send you some? I'll include a home made cookie if it'll sweeten the deal....

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: But half of pitiful is just pathetic.

Heh. Yeah, I hear you. But then again, you can't put a price on how much misery loves company. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Pat Cochran wrote: As for promo work, just use your wonderful Voice,especially in blogging. Several authors used "blog tours" this year which I did enjoy following!

Thanks, Pat! I'll definitely be hitting up the banditas & all our buddies to take pity on me & host me this summer. I'm so glad to hear people enjoy the blog tour thing! I'll do my best to be entertaining.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: I don't think authors should be expending tons of energy focusing on this stuff. After all, your job's to write, no? Not compile web-hits and bookmark distributions.

Oh, amen! Amen, brother! Let me just write & I'm a happy girl.

However, since that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, I'm going to give some serious thought to your other suggestion that we banditas pool our information & try to extrapolate trends. We have enough people in enough different genres that we ought to be able to make some educated guesses about what's going on out there.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: I bet any university in the US with a good business department would be a fertile ground for finding an instructor willing to inflict such an analysis on their students as a statistics class project.

Ooooh, wonderful idea! I'll have to chew on that one! Mrs. P226 is one smart cookie. Thank her for me!

Virginia said...

Congates p226 on getting the rooster today! Watch him with the booze tonight, he may get tipsey!

Congrat Susan on your up and coming release! Loved your post and we can't be good at everything we do! My sister makes some awesome salads, me not so much, although I do make a pretty good califlower salad.

I love it when authors blog. I have met a lot of wonderful authors this way. You kind of get to know them and get to become a part of their world. Thanks for blogging with us.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: She says she knows a professor that would do exactly that at her request. All she would need is the numbers from one or two distributors.

Wow. That's such a generous offer! I personally have no numbers to offer as I don't have a book out, but maybe some of our published banditas & bbs? Anybody??

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: I'm tellin' you, there're people out there who will gobble up the Delacroix Academy.

As Kirsten's lucky CP, I can tell you people ARE going to gobble up Delcroix. Because it's awesome. And I'm not afraid to tell people so.

Funny how that works, isn't it? I could stand in the book store all day plucking books off shelves & handing them to people who wanted to read. But like Jeanne & Beth, I freeze up when it's my own.

I'll work on that.

Susan Sey said...

Fedora wrote: Honestly, the one thing an author can do that may turn me away from her and her writing is not anything I can imagine you falling prey to! There have been a couple of authors who've flamed out big time by responding irrationally to negative/neutral reviewer/reader opinion, and that behavior has made me not only not-a-fan, but a keep-far-far-away-at-all-costs-non-fan...

Ooooh, yeah. I've seen that happen a time or two myself. It's always awful, isn't it? And yet it's impossible to turn away. You kind of have to stay until the bitter end.

Here's hoping I don't engage in any terrible foot-in-mouth stuff accidentally. I talk too much when I get nervous, & I'm a little nervous. Stuff could happen.

I'll be careful, though. Good advice. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Monajem wrote: Groan. I signed up for a yoga class last fall. It was TORTURE. My shoulders in particular aren't USED to having any blood circulation.

This made me laugh out loud. Your shoulders weren't used to circulation. They didn't WANT circulation, thank you VERY much. But circulate they did. And now you're going shoulder stands or what have you? Wow.

As for me, I can't put my knees together without using my hands. I'm hoping that resolves itself because I look very silly.

Susan Sey said...

Anna Campbell wrote: I've only recently developed any skill in the making of a salad. Do you want to know my secret weapon? Throw in some macadamia nuts.

Ooooh. I'm going to write that down somewhere. Nuts. I should have figured that one out myself. Add salty little fat nuggets, & anything gets better. It's the bacon bit principle. Yum. Now I'm craving nuts.

And dang, girl, 5,000 friends? You're a super star! I'll fan you. In fact, I'll do it in the morning. Right now I'm off to a new year's party that I'll likely spend two hours at before I wimp out. Happily, I'm taking the kids along so I have a good excuse to bag out early. :-)

Happy New Year!

Susan Sey said...

Donna wrote: I'm terrible about updating my website. I don't think I sent out a newsletter all year (sorry folks - I just don't think I'm interesting enough to merit a newsletter - I don't know what to write!) But I do love to meet readers face to face. Talking to strangers? That I can do.


Hey, do you want to come hold my hand for the entire month of July? I could use somebody who likes strangers. :-) And I beg to differ--I'd enjoy getting a little monthly MacMeans in my inbox. I"ll have to go to your website to sign up.

Susan Sey said...

Virginia wrote: I love it when authors blog. I have met a lot of wonderful authors this way. You kind of get to know them and get to become a part of their world. Thanks for blogging with us.

AWww, thank you for letting me blog over here, Virginia! I seriously just rode in on the coattails of these lovely ladies--they paved the way & I glommed on. So I love my residence here in the lair, & am so grateful for all the wonderful writers & readers who love it here.

Susan Sey said...

Okay, all, I'm off to a New Year's Eve party! I'll probably be checking in again before midnight (I have little ones & we'll be home early) but just in case, I'm wishing all the best for your evenings, & your 2010.

And watch out for the GR. I understand he's been getting at the moonshine this evening. :-)

On your guard, ladies. And gentlemen. And everybody in between. The Golden Rooster is an equal opportunity lover.

p226 said...

I love this idea, P226. My only challenge with it is, that I've never heard of any distributor who tracks by city or region..

I have no idea why booksellers/retailers wouldn't track that information. I guarantee you when Proctor & Gamble asks Walmart where their sales of Head and Shoulders are slumping, they get an answer. All Walmart has to do is dump the inventory records and send the raw data to P&G. Walmart doesn't do the analysis, but they have the raw data.

I cannot imagine that book publishers are not interested in this information. When Head & Shoulders stops selling in Nevada, P&G knows to run ads there, or otherwise react to that market. I flat out guarantee you that Barnes & Noble can tell you just exactly how many copies of Twilight sold in the Greensboro North Carolina area. Not only that, but they can break it down by "sold in a mall," versus "sold in a stand-alone store."

Modern inventory control and sales tracking puts this information at the fingertips of COOs nearly instantaneously. Rarely is it more than a few days old. It's delivered so quickly, that when sales of a hot book start to slump, they can move it to another area of the store chain-wide in a day or two.

The modern world tracks this information at a very granular level. The information regarding the sales of your books is out there. It's just a matter of getting it.

Nancy said...

Susan wrote: I could stand in the book store all day plucking books off shelves & handing them to people who wanted to read. But like Jeanne & Beth, I freeze up when it's my own.

See, I could do this for you. I could give any reader a brilliant recommendation for Money, Honey or any other bandita book. For my own? Not so much. It's the whole modesty thing. Which I have been informed all writers need to get over. In a nice, non-arrogant way, presumably.

Nancy said...

p226, I've heard rumors indicating the data you're discussing is out there. For example: If your Chain X orders 8 of your book and it sells 6, next time they order 5. Or words to that effect. Assuming that's true, Chain X has to know how many it sold where.

However, I've never heard of a publisher examining this data. Which is not to say they don't, just that I've never heard of it either.

Food for thought.

Nancy said...

Barbara, I congratulate you on your shoulder stand, which I deeply envy. Never in my life have I been able to do that.

But I know what you mean about progress. I'm confident that if I can survive the first two weeks at the gym (assisted by abundant Advil), the next two will be much easier.

Renee said...

You only get hives? I once had to talk to a small group of church members about a children's program and nearly vomited. I did get all sweaty and almost passed out.

You'll do wonderful.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Renee, had to laugh on this - not at you - but at a memory it sparked. I had a friend who would quiz me mercilessly on how I managed to speak so easily in front of a crowd. She hated public speaking with a passion. Said it was like cinder blocks in her stomach, and putting her adrenaline on overdrive. But, she had to do these speeches. So, she'd take beta-blockers and go do it. It took her days to recover.

Me? I'm a ham. I love getting up in front of a crowd and talking about stuff.

Snork.

Extrovert. Bet you wouldn't have guessed, right?

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: Modern inventory control and sales tracking puts this information at the fingertips of COOs nearly instantaneously. Rarely is it more than a few days old. It's delivered so quickly, that when sales of a hot book start to slump, they can move it to another area of the store chain-wide in a day or two.

Huh. This is fascinating. I'll have to ask my publisher about the availability of these numbers when I get the chance. I'll let you know what I find out.

Anybody else willing to ask their publishers if they have access to this info?

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: It's the whole modesty thing. Which I have been informed all writers need to get over. In a nice, non-arrogant way, presumably.

Yeah, that's the trick, isn't it? If you figure out the secret, do pass it along, won't you? :-)

Susan Sey said...

Renee wrote: You only get hives? I once had to talk to a small group of church members about a children's program and nearly vomited. I did get all sweaty and almost passed out.

Oh, fun. Yep, we're peas in a pod, the two of us. I don't pass out or vomit, but I do resist, heartily, speaking in public. I don't even make announcements in church. And I'm pretty sure everybody there has been ordered by the Almighty to cut me some slack.

Susan Sey said...

Jeanne wrote: Extrovert. Bet you wouldn't have guessed, right?

What??? You????

Color me shocked.

:-)

I envy you to the tips of my toes for it, too.

Louisa Cornell said...

Late to the party. Had to work, but got home safe and sound before the crazies left the bars. Now if I can just survive all of my fur kids trying to get in my lap because the neighbors are shooting off fireworks and/or guns.

Any extra bookmarks I have from authors I like I give to my Mom to take to the restaurant where she works. They have a table where they exchange books and Mom leaves the bookmarks in mugs there. Everyone in town eats at that restaurant and lots of customers look at the bookmarks and ask about the books. My Mom tells people that I read this book or that book and what I said about it. I do know that La Campbell, Christine Wells, Donna MacMeans, Lynn Rae Harris, the Duchesse of Snorkdom and a number of other authors have found new fans in Alabama that way.

Never underestimate the power of a bunch of little old ladies who love to read!

chelleyreads said...

susan, as long as you don't do what that author lady did on amazon.com when she got that one bad review, you'll be more than fine!

this was a fun post--didn't know the author is responsible for all that WOW!! i'm definitely looking forward to money honey. sounds like it's going to be a fun one :)

Cassondra said...

OMG! I am SO SORRY I missed this amazing New Year's Eve party!

Susan, you are awesome, and your blogs are the most entertaining I have EVER read, so I have no worries about your book.

I suck at selling myself, so I'm right there with you, but hey...you've already got a good start! We all LOVE you and will buy your book BEFORE it's released!

Hang in there, honey, cuz if/when I sell, I'm gonna come to you for advice.

P226, HIgh Five on Goldie!

Marie Force said...

Susan,
Your blog made me laugh! Half the battle is knowing in advance that this isn't your thing and then trying to find a way to go easy on yourself no matter what you do. So much of the success or failure of a book is out of our hands before it even hits the shelves. Soooo, take a deep breath and do as much or as little as you can bear and go from there.

I've learned a couple of cool tricks over two books. One of them is the $20 (for 500) business cards you can get at printdirectforless.com. I use the cover of the book on one side and a brief synopsis (one of your phobias, I know) on the other. Think back cover copy only boiled way down. Add your website and blog and voila, cards to give everyone you know for $20 and you didn't have to call anyone or sell anything.

Email me at marie@marieforce.com if you want to chat more about this!

Best of luck with Money Honey!! It will do great!!
Happy New Year to all the Banditas!
Marie

Susan Sey said...

Louisa Cornell wrote: Never underestimate the power of a bunch of little old ladies who love to read!

No kidding! Nobody ever changed the world without the little old ladies taking their part, I'm convinced. Your mom's a saint. Tell her I said so, & a bunch of authors are with me on that. :-)

Hope your furry ones survived the revelry last night!

Susan Sey said...

chelleyreads wrote: susan, as long as you don't do what that author lady did on amazon.com when she got that one bad review, you'll be more than fine!

Sage advice. :-) I think I'm probably going to have to ban myself from reading reviews. Not that I'll be tempted to go all crazy and harass people for unfavorable reviews or anything--lord no. But I might be tempted to curl up on my couch, weep bitter tears and console myself with vast quantities of ice cream.

And that's probably not such a healthy thing. :-)

I might just ban myself from the internet for a few weeks after release.

Susan Sey said...

Cassondra wrote: Hang in there, honey, cuz if/when I sell, I'm gonna come to you for advice.

Oh, dear, I'll try to take good notes because I have a feeling this is your year, Cassondra! Yahoo, 2010!!

Cassondra also wrote: P226, HIgh Five on Goldie!

Um, yeah. Has anybody heard from
P226 this morning? If he doesn't check in by noon, I think we ought to send somebody out to the holler.

Susan Sey said...

Marie wrote: I've learned a couple of cool tricks over two books. One of them is the $20 (for 500) business cards you can get at printdirectforless.com. I use the cover of the book on one side and a brief synopsis (one of your phobias, I know) on the other. Think back cover copy only boiled way down. Add your website and blog and voila, cards to give everyone you know for $20 and you didn't have to call anyone or sell anything.

Wonderful!! As soon as I have cover art, I'm totally doing this! And I may be emailing you for more advice, so thanks for the offer! I will totally take you up on it! :-)