Monday, August 2, 2010


My guest is romance author, Marcia James. She holds an Interdisciplinary Masters degree in Communications and Creative Writing from American University in Washington, D.C. 

Marcia is involved in several charities and participated in a March of Dimes Celebrity downhill ski race in Big Bear, CA (Her team captain was Olympic gold medal pole vaulter, Bob Seagren.) She also spent an evening as the media escort for Tom Selleck during a U.S.O. event. (Held at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, it was a televised, celebrity-filled Bob Hope birthday special.)

By vocation she is a freelance video scriptwriter and advertising copywriter. In addition to developing marketing and promotional materials.

Marcia also offers a two week online workshop on author promotion that offers lessons on topics, such as niche marketing, author branding, and co-promotion/cross-promotion. Marcia's next workshop is August 15 - 28 and will include guest lectures from 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:

It is pleasure to have promotion savvy, Marcia, here Over Coffee to talk a bit about hidden promotion ideas for authors. She will be visiting today and again on Wednesday.

Even a small amount of daily or weekly self-promotion cuts into an author's writing time. That's why you have to decide carefully which PR options are right for you and your books. The romance-reading community is huge and voracious, but finite. If you can spot elements in your books that lend themselves to niche promoting, you can win new readers and help grow the romance market.

This is what I call "Thinking Outside of the Heart-shaped Box". Look at the different elements in the book you're promoting to see which groups might be interested in it. For example, since my books have Chinese Crested hairless dogs in them, I joined an international message board about “crestie dogs” to chat with people who not only are great subject matter experts when I need detailed information on cresties, but are also interested in buying books that feature the breed.

Here are some "niche promotable" book elements:

1. Hero and heroine's vocations – What are your protagonists' professions? If your heroine is special events coordinator, there is a professional association for people in that field. If your hero is a veterinarian, you can look into marketing to the veterinarians’ professional association.

2. Hero and heroine's avocations – What are your protagonists' hobbies? You might have a character who collects vintage cars, and there are many groups of vintage car owners. Your hero or heroine might knit or quilt (okay, your Beta hero might do these things!), and there are knitting and quilting groups online and maybe even in your community.

3. Hero and heroine's sports/physical activities – Do your protagonists play softball or volleyball, fish, jog, hike, canoe, etc? There are groups devoted to all sorts of sports.

4. Hero and heroine's charitable activities – Do your protagonists volunteer for Big Sisters, Special Olympics, homeless shelters, or animal rescue? Is your hero or heroine dealing with a medical challenge, such as cancer, or a physical disability? Charities -- and the people who support them -- love to know when their causes are mentioned in a fiction book.

5. Four-legged characters (not counting shape-shifters!) – There are many, many organizations for those who love animals. And there might be marketing opportunities at a Humane Society fundraiser (you could donate a themed basket with a signed copy of your book) or a pet adoption fair.

6. The timeframe and location of your novel – If you write historical novels, there are groups interested in many historical eras. For example, there are Renaissance Fairs and Civil War reenactments that might offer a chance to promote your work. If you set your books in a certain city, state, or country (and maybe feature events specific to that location), there might be events that offer marketing opportunities, such as a state bicentennial celebration, the Kentucky Derby, a Scottish festival, an art fair, a jazz festival, or a Taste of the Town.

7. Paranormal, science fiction (s/f), or fantasy elements – Quite a few romance authors in these subgenres promote their books at s/f or fantasy cons. There are also groups who are into vampire lore, shape-shifters, and dragons.

8. Elements that would appeal to specific fans – For example, do you have an Elvis impersonator in your book? Is your heroine's younger sister a Jonas Brothers' fan? Does your hero love film noir or NASCAR? There are groups for all of these.

On Wednesday, August 4th, I'll talk about niche marketing resources and other PR tips.
  • Until then, I'd love to hear about your book elements and creative ways you can promote with them!

A randomly chosen commenter will win a free e-book, my comic romantic suspense, At Her Command.

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:

Marcia James, when she isn’t penning romantic comedies with elements of mystery and suspense, is a freelance video scriptwriter and advertising copywriter. In addition to developing marketing and promotional materials, she writes romance articles for her local weekly newspaper. After years of dealing with such sexy topics as how to safely install traffic lights, Marcia is enjoying “researching” and plotting steamy love scenes for her romance novels with her husband and hero of many years.

In her spare time, Marcia enjoys volunteering for non-profit organizations. One of the benefits is networking with celebrities. Thanks to her involvement with good causes, Marcia asked the guests at her 1989 wedding to donate to charity vs. buying gifts. Word of the “non-profit wedding reception" reached People Magazine which covered event. (Her wedding was also featured in The Washington Post and Brides Magazine.)