Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Promotion Commotion

by Stephanie Black

With two months remaining until the release of Fool Me Twice and with Rob taking pot shots at a ghost as they discuss branding, my thoughts turn to promotion. I’ll have a new website up soon (I had a compatibility problem with my old one that made it a pain in the nuisance to update. Having a website that I never update is not, I assume, the best promotional tool in the box).

So what are the best promotional tools? LDS Publisher recently gave some advice on author promotion, and an interesting discussion followed in the comment trail. Not everyone agrees on the best way for an author to make a success of his/her career.

Among our Frog Blog authors, I’ve seen a variety of promotions, including such things as Rob’s book-related Internet sites and treasure hunt and Jeff’s first-chapter writing contest. Sariah is currently doing a drawing on her website where you can win fun prizes relating to her new book.

Here are my questions for all of you:

From an author's point of view: what promotions have you done that you feel gave you the best return on your time and money? On the other hand, what promotions have you done where you ultimately felt that the effort/money wasn’t worth the results? What do you feel is the most effective use of your time?

From a reader's point of view: what promotions have the greatest effect on you when it comes to stirring your interest in a book? If over the past year, you read a book by an author you hadn’t tried before, what piqued your interest in that book and led you to pick it up?


At 1/31/2008 9:40 AM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

I've run two contests and had fair success with them, though it's hard to tell exactly what interest resulted in book purchase. It was a lot of work keeping interest high, and following through with prizes.

When I do the next one, it will be simpler, with only one prize that is easy to mail.

Word of mouth--people recommending a book--is effective, though not as much as some might think. That's why I read Stephanie Meyer's books. But there are many other books friends have recommended, which I've not yet got around to reading, and have already forgotten the titles--which is why marketing needs to be consistent over long periods.

At 1/31/2008 10:22 AM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

Before Counting Stars was released I took a mock-up of the book (glossy cardstock of the cover with the first 30 or so pages inside) around to several stores in southern Ca. and southern Utah---anywhere we happened to be even remotely close to---and introduced myself to managers (which was, by the way, completely out of my comfort zone). Annette later told me that the manager at the St. George store told her she'd really liked that.

And, as Anne mentioned, word of mouth. I have some wonderful friends who blogged about, reviewed, and recommended the book. I'm certain all that has done the most.

At 1/31/2008 10:26 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I am the world's worst at promotion, so it probably isn't a surprise that my most effective promotion came about accidentally.

When "Ghost" was published, I wanted to do something that would help make sixty-two book signings by a rather obscure author feel like something other than a waste of time and fragile ego. Since I wrote a character into the series who suffers from xeroderma pigmentosum -- a rare, genetic disease that almost always kills in young adulthood -- I thought maybe I could better use my time raising awareness (and money!) for children with XP than trying to sell an LDS romantic comedy. I put info up on my website, made a poster, and put out a jar, hoping to collect enough dimes and quarters to contribute toward a campership for one needy child somewhere.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that people who frequent LDS bookstores are incredibly generous. Over the course of six months I raised enough money to send four children and their parents to Camp Sundown -- a really terrific night camp in upstate New York. (The rest of the "nickels & dimes" went to much-needed research.) As people became aware of the cause, interest grew and I did several radio shows focused on XP, contributed to a national panel discussion online, and was interviewed for newspaper articles in four states.

I honestly don't know how many copies of "Ghost of a Chance" I've sold -- probably not many more than any of the other books I have out -- but I will always remember last year as the most marvelously successful time ever spent in the "promotion commotion!"

Alas, I have a new book coming out the same month as you, Stephanie, and absolutely no ideas how to promote it. Worse, it's non-fiction, and thus an affront to "my brand," apparently. *Sigh* Update the ol' website, you say? That might not hurt. Goodness knows I haven't done that in a month of Sundays.

Thanks for the wake-up call and the ideas. I'd better get right on that. But possibly after I finish re-reading "East of Eden" for the umpteenth time. That ghost is no Robison Wells, but who is? (Isn't it sad that they'll give a Pulitizer and international acclaim to just anybody with a typewriter and red pony?)

At 1/31/2008 12:00 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Anne, Michele, and Kerry, thank you so much for sharing promotional experiences. It's a big help to me to hear what others have done and what worked for them.

Kerry, I don't think your non-fiction book is an affront to your brand. Like your fiction, it is brilliant, witty, fun, poignant and vividly original--vintage Kerry Blair!

At 1/31/2008 1:07 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Well, I can think of one promotional tool that has gotten me to purchase several LDS fiction books...

this blog.

Robison started it with his Unknown Patriot scavenger hunt - which I heard about through my wife via Covenant. (That's where he could have done better at getting the word out.)

I've often wondered if you could generate some interest by putting ads in certain places. A couple of newsletters that I subscribe to offer what seem like good rates - Eric Snider's movie reviews go out to what is probably a predomninantly LDS readership. Also, my weekly weird-but-true news stories (probably a higher rate than Eric's) at And isn't there an LDS newsletter called GEMS? Do they offer advertising? Maybe put an ad on an aggregator site like Digg or (heaven forbid!) Fark. I have a friend who works at, if they offer advertising, it'd probably be a good target audience.

One day, when I go to try to market my own book, I'll probably look into the above.

At 1/31/2008 2:26 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Jon, it absolutely makes my day to know that you've purchased books because of the blog!

Thanks for the suggestion of places to run ads! Great ideas.

At 2/03/2008 1:50 AM, Anonymous L@pterces (dave w.) said...

Steph- You should come back to Salt Lake and do a TV interview on ch. 5's 'Studio 5' mid-morning variety show, which occasionally features LDS authors. (I believe our host Darren Adams' parents are in your ward in Cal.)

At 2/03/2008 3:34 PM, Anonymous Tawny Campbell said...

I have one book out - not that many people know about it, but like Kerry it is non-fiction. My book is a collection of letters written to military servicemen and women around the world. The title is "Dear Soldier..." Because I live in Germany, it is really tough to self promote in the states. And it is super tough to get a book into an AAFES bookstore, especially since it is from an LDS publisher.

What I did was send out mass e-mails to all my friends. Put up messages in myspace. I do firesides, school assemblies and other public speaking events about what we can do to support our military men and women fighting and serving overseas. I don't know what a good number of books to sell is, but I am glad that the thousand or so who have bought the book have been uplifted and edified by it.

The book was released in July of '07 and I am continuing to try to find ways to self promote -- but like I said, being a continent away sucks. I keep a pile of them in my car at all time and keep a few on hand and I shamelessly promote myself to anyone who will listen.

My mom and dad have also been huge helps in Southern Idaho and family in Utah have helped as well. I am grateful to read this blog and find some ideas though. Thanks everyone.

- Tawny Archibald Campbell

At 2/03/2008 8:36 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Wow, TV--that would be cool (and terrifying!) Yes, the Adamses are in our ward (but are currently off serving a mission).

Tawny, I am so impressed at all the promotion you are doing. And how wonderful to be able to touch and strengthen people through your writing.

At 2/05/2008 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a reader, I go to the Deseret Book flier to see what is new and what looks good. If it sounds good in there, I want to read it.

Also recommendations from friends are big for me too. There have been a few books that were very poorly advertized in the Deseret Book ad and I had no interest in reading them. Then a friend of mine said she loved them and I should read them. I was surprised at how much I liked them and how different they were from how they were portrayed in the ad.


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