Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Monday, August 2nd, I discussed ways authors are "Thinking Outside of the Heart-shaped Box" by using niche marketing. Today I'll talk about resources for this type of targeted promotion and tips to use your book elements for things like press releases, presentations, and guest-blogging.

Once you have determined what elements you can use from your stories to promote them, where do you go from here?

There are library reference books that offer information (contact name, email, address, phone, whether the group has a member newsletter, etc) for every conceivable type of association and club. And some of these reference books are available online through library Web sites. Here are two good reference books: 
  • The Encyclopedia of Associations--Regional, State, & Local Organizations (Gale Research Co., Biennial: v. 1. Great Lakes States, v. 2. Northeastern States, v. 3. Southern & Middle Atlantic States, v. 4. South Central & Great Plains States, and v. 5. Western States.) 
  • Associations Unlimited -- electronic resource (Gale Research Inc)

Most of these groups would be happy to hear from an author who has written a book of interest to their members. This does work better, however, for books that have a sensuality level from G-rated to R-rated, since some of these groups might not be willing to promote a "hard R-rated" or X-rated book to their members.

You can contact a group by email to ask if you can submit a press release about your book for their newsletter. Or you can join the group's message board or attend one of their local meetings. You can ask the group's contact person if you can send him/her a copy of your book to be reviewed in the group's newsletter or for their blog. You can run a contest just for their members to win a copy of your book or a themed basket. You can get a table at one of their events to hand out your promotional materials or sell your book.

If you've gotten to know your local librarians, you can ask which groups use in the library's meeting rooms. Or you can see if the library is planning a display or event with a local group. For example, a local quilting group might offer quilts to the library for a display. And if your book features quilting, you could ask the library to add your book to the display.

Or if the library offers classes – say on floral arranging -- and your heroine is a florist, you might ask the library to recommend your fiction book to the students, along with recommended nonfiction books on floral arranging. And if your library makes themed bookmarks for their patrons – which include lists of books on a certain topic or with certain elements (for example, a bookmark of mysteries featuring cats) -- see if your book would fit any of their themes and could be included.  
  • Another promotional angle:  
Depending on your book elements, you can tie your book to events or holidays. For example, there's a National Spay or Neuter Your Pet day. I reinforce my dog logo and brand, while supporting this important day, by guest-blogging on that topic on that day. You would not believe all of the interesting, funny, and crazy holidays out there. ;-) A good resource is Chase’s Calendar of Events

Another way to Think Outside the Heart-Shaped Box is to consider yourself as not only an expert on romance writing but also fluent on your genre or subgenre – and on elements within your books.

For example: 
  • If you write Regency romances, you can give presentations not only about writing romances, but about the Regency period. 
  • If you write mysteries featuring a Napa Valley vintner sleuth, you can write articles on wine as well as articles on writing. 
  • If your contemporary romances feature matchmaking felines, you can blog on pet issues as well as on writing.

It's a little like having a double major in college. One of the majors will be in fiction writing, while the other(s) will concern elements in your books.

Thinking Outside the Heart-Shaped Box is a matter of opening your mind to the possibilities beyond traditional author promotion. All it takes to do niche marketing is the same imagination you use to write your books. ;-)

  • Have any of you used these or similar tactics? What success have you had?

A randomly chosen commenter will win a free e-book, my comic romantic suspense, At Her Command.
Back Cover Blurb
His best laid plans... 

DJ “Rabid Ron” Hart has a grand scheme to win back the woman he loves. It involves an animal adoption fair, a goofy hairless dog named Charlie and an offer she can’t refuse.

Her hidden desires... 

Cara Wilson has fantasies she’s never admitted, and her ex-boyfriend still features in her erotic dreams. If only he didn’t keep his bad-boy urges so tightly leashed. 

Tonight they’ll learn that winning sometimes takes losing control.


Workshop Info:

Several times a year, I present a two-week online workshop on author promotion that offers lessons on topics, such as niche marketing, author branding, and co-promotion/cross-promotion.

Next workshop:  August 15 - 28

Guest lectures:  The following PR-savvy authors and publishing insiders: Melissa Alvarez, Dianne Castell, Carol Ann Erhardt, Karen Harper, Susan Gee Heino, Kathy Kulig, Donna MacMeans, Michael Matthew, Janice Maynard, Karen McCullough, Beth Morrow, Patricia Sargeant, Kay Stockham, and DeNita Tuttle.

For more information on this workshop, please visit:

Marcia James’ short story, Love Unleashed, was part of All Romance eBooks’ American Heart Association fundraiser in February 2010. Marcia offers her 300-page file of author promotion options free to any writer who requests it. Just email her through the “Contact Me” page on her Web site:


~Sia McKye~ said...

Marcia, I can see from some of the resources, where even story ideas could be had. Not necessarily writing to a PR theme, but considering facets of ideas in the writing.

By the way, I enjoyed the excerpt of Love Unleashed.

tonya kappes said...

Marcia you really should put this in a book! I was at the OVRWA meeting where you were the guest speaker, but you really need to bottle all your KNOWLEDGE!!

Marcia James said...

Hi, Sia and Tonya! Thanks for the kind words! I love blogging on promotion. ;-)

Tonya -- Some workshop presenters are doing print or electronic books on their topics. (Suzanne Brockmann is coming out with one on Deep POV.) I'm not ruling it out. Since I'm an extrovert, though, I enjoy presenting the online PR workshops, since it gets me away from the solitary job of writing fiction. I wouldn't want to write a nonfiction book on promotion that ended my "career" of presenting workshops. ;-) Maybe a "companion" e-book would work...

Have a great day!
-- Marcia ;-)

sherilynwinrose said...

Great information and food for thought. Thanks Marcia.

Sia, lovin' the new pics.

Marcia James said...

Hi, Sherilynwinrose. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!

Happy promoting!
-- Marcia ;-)

Helen Ginger said...

Great advice and tips. If you're attending a conference, plan well in advance and you might be able to arrange to speak at some of those groups. (And maybe receive an honorarium.)

Straight From Hel

~Sia McKye~ said...

Good idea, Helen. As an author, being prepared is as important as an aspiring author being prepared to give a pitch on the spur of the moment. Good things can happen.

I'd love to be part of a workshop or panel at a writing coference. So much energy and fun.

Marcia James said...

Hi, Heather! I appreciate the suggestion. I have spoken at a number of RWA and RT conferences, as well as giving one-day workshops for other organizations, such as the Christian writers. (Honorariums are good!) ;-)

In Oct., I do a presentation for the Ohio Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Most fiction promotional options can be used by anyone writing fiction, although the book's genre/subgenre and sensuality level can definitely impact what options you choose.

Happy promoting!
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Sia! At the recent RWA national conference in Orlando, I spoke with the owner of a small press about doing a mini online PR workshop just for her authors.

I really do enjoy the workshops I present since it's a great way to network and meet new friends. ;-) It's difficult to be behind the computer all day and not have interaction with other humans.
-- Marcia ;-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, I hear you on that. Kudo's to you for getting the small pub online workshop. Small pubs don't have the money or contacts to reach what larger publishers can. Their authors have to work so much harder just to get their foot in a door. That will be good for them.

Marcia James said...

Print distribution and NY publishers' support really makes a difference. Small press published authors have to find a way to get noticed. There's not a one-size-fits-all PR plan for all fiction. There are so many variables that come into play.
-- Marcia ;-)

Kat Sheridan said...

Marcia, so MUCH good information here, and you simply bubble over with great ideas! If I'm ever pubbed, you will be the first person I go stalking! (fortunately for me, I'm a COFW member, so I'll always know where to find you!)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Kat! It's great to see a fellow COFW member here! ;-) Feel free to stalk me once you're published. We can do lunch.
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Tomorrow I will randomly choose a winner among the people who commented on my two-part guest-blog for a free e-book of my comic romantic suspense, AT HER COMMAND. Thanks to everyone who dropped by!
-- Marcia ;-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Distribution is a BIG problem for small pubs.

The price to get on Baker&Taylor or Ingrams--which most of the big publishers are with--cost dollars that sometimes the small pubs can't afford for their authors and then there's the fact that brick and mortar stores won't carry some of the small pubs on the shelves is disheartening.

NY has National distribution, excellent editing and art departments, and a PR department that push to sell their authors. Granted, more money is spent on the bigger producing authors but still, money and PR plans are still given to smaller authors they feel will build a readership.

Indie book stores, meaning not one of the big national chains, are still reluctant to carry more than a few copies of small press books. They can afford to carry say a 50 or more of bestseller copies but Samhaim, for instance, they may only carry 5 and that's a maybe. They prefer to have you order them. But buyers are still visual buyers and impulse buyers if you will. They can't buy what they don't see.

Returns are a serious cost of doing business with a distributor.

Online books, e-books have become more acceptable and is one largest sellers of books. Even the big pubs who thought it a fluke that would go away have been tapping that market alot the past few years. E-books are competative to a tech savvy world.

You're correct. There isn't a one size fits all PR for books anymore than there is for any other product out there. That's why I liked these articles of yours. It shows the authors what THEY can do to make themselves more competitive in today's market.

Marcia James said...

Thanks, Sia! I agree totally with your observations. And there is so much more to promotion than selling a single release. So much of promotion is branding the author in the readers' minds, so they know that when they pick up a book by Alice Author they will enjoy that book since they enjoyed her last five books. They like her core story, themes, voice, etc.
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

The winner of my e-book, AT HER COMMAND is...


If you email me at, I'll attach the e-book to the reply.

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by my guest-blog, and a special thanks to Sia for hosting me!
-- Marcia ;-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Marcia, it was my pleasure to have you. I think this is timely info all writers can use, whether pubbed or aspiring.

Yay for Sherilyn! Congrats sweetie.