How Do Publishers Reach Readers? Sue Grimshaw Speaks!

Guest Blogger Sue Grimshaw from BBD/Loveswept is with us today for an interactive blog about author promotion.  Welcome back, Sue!  And we must thank Sue for her generous giveaways of a Random book to three different random commenters.  Thanks, Sue!

Hi ladies – thanks for having me back on WRITERS IN THE STORM!

As I approach my one year anniversary as acquiring editor at Loveswept, I look back in amazement at how much I have learned. Out of all of our accomplishments within the Loveswept line there is one thing that stands out above all else . . . and that is when you are working with a digital line it is really important to connect with your digital community.

Interestingly enough, with all of the technology, and all of the various ways there are to reach out to the customer – there is not one infallible way to get the word out about your books release. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and soon you realize how difficult it is for them to shop for books, let alone find the one you want to sell them. There are hundreds of digital books released on the internet, every day, week and month and as an author or publisher, how do you highlight your book to the customer? How do you promote your book amongst all of the other digital releases which is now inclusive of self published and ebook publishers?

For example – take RIDE WITH ME by debut author, Ruthie Knox. Her book went on sale 2/13/2012 – here’s the link to her book. We did everything we could think of to connect with our reader: blog tours, blog hops, direct emails, Romantic Times advertising, outtakes leading up to her release date, Scribd FREE excerpts, giveaways . . . lots and lots of giveaways, in both E-book & print.

All in all, I thought we did quite a bit of promotion, however, in the back of my mind I kept on thinking, did we do enough? What else could we have done . . . .how do all of the self published authors out there reach their reader? This is the ultimate challenge.

The web offers lots of options of where and how to promote your book, many more than were ever available when all we had were bricks and mortar stores. This new frontier, like everything else, has its pluses and minuses as now you have to be in a lot of different virtual places to find your customer . . . the world is much bigger on the web and your customers are everywhere – talk about the proverbial needle in the haystack . . ..

It is still pretty early to be able to tell what worked promotionally for Ruthie’s book, RIDE WITH ME . . . .in fact, she’s still promoting it! That is usually how it goes, right? Once the book is released, it is more or less like a child, and will continue to need nurturing and support until it is widely accepted in the Romance genre and ready to be purchased on word-of-mouth alone, just like Nora Roberts books. J

What I can tell you is that when B&N listed Ruthie’s book as a staff pick on .com we saw an evident lift in sales. This week iTunes made RIDE WITH ME #2 on their readers list and Romantic Times just reviewed Ruthie’s book giving it 4.5 stars with a luscious post for their readers. Every week something new and exciting turns up promotionally which immediately translates to sales.

So that is the topic I’d love to discuss with you all today. Once you’ve finished your ebook & have it published on the web, how in the heck do you intend to let readers know it is out there and that it is something they would like to buy?

Let’s put our heads together & come up with some ideas that will help us all.

Happy Romance.
SueG

Category Specialist & Editor At Large for BBD/Loveswept
Visit me at www.romanceatrandom.com ,or ,on TWITTER, follow SueGrimshaw, or , on FACEBOOK –

Here’s the Free Excerpt:
RIDE WITH ME by Ruthie Knox, A Loveswept eOriginal Excerptor at

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/78189546/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-lkravi6mmlpgymygkor//

Don’t forget to add your comments to the dialogue with Sue.  And good luck on winning one of her three giveaway books!

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32 Responses to How Do Publishers Reach Readers? Sue Grimshaw Speaks!

  1. Sue, it’s good to meet you here at WITS. Not familiar with Loveswept, I googled it before I left my comment. The digital only of Random House? The “indie” imprint of Random House? Every day we learn something new about the world of books and this was an interesting find. It’s so fascinating to read you are as lost in cyber space as the rest of us are🙂 None of what anyone knew two years ago can be transferred to this space wonder, to find the illusive reader on one of the thousands of planets out there. You must feel like Captain Kirk, going where no man has gone before. It is said so often, it might become a cliche … it’s a good book, word of mouth and lots of luck. Nora was doing six to eight books a year with Silhouette for years. I am not sure how much you could ascribe luck to her success, more dogged determination and a prolific body of work … but the little mom in Maryland kept at it and since Romance continues to be the number one best selling genre, romance readers are fiercly loyal and also extremely willing to try new authors. In this strange new business we are all finding ourselves in the middle of … does it matter if we go with a major publisher or indie … small or large press? I don’t know how much of the hype for social media actually does the job … maybe in another year … you can return and tell us🙂

  2. SueG says:

    Let’s hope I find the secret ingredient 🙂 I’m not complaining about our world-wide web as it does give us more opportunity — all I’m saying is it was just so much easier a few years ago when you could go to a book store – any bookstore & find your book — now there are so many virtual places to be connected to — you know what I mean? NYC publishers still have the reach for sure as evidenced by our Loveswept releases, which BTW you’ll have to give a try, but it certainly is more challenging to be everywhere than just the few bookstore chains necessary 3 or so years ago. Love the new frontier for sure!!

  3. I loved this post because it confirmed my thoughts over the last few weeks about my own book that was released by an e-book publisher in January. What more can I do, I asked myself the other night. And with the help of my go-to person at Musa Publishing, we’re trying to figure that out. I’ve done everything right so far regarding promoting my book and continue to do so, what with a blog tour and FB and blogging and interviews and on and on, yet sales are not that impressive. I’m spinning around in circles, looking at the sky, and shouting, “what more can I do?” I haven’t a clue.
    Patti

  4. SueG says:

    It really is challenging — having a powerhouse like Random House behind me has allowed more doors to open however, it is still hard to be everywhere, all at once, everyday —- Patricia, we need to clone ourselves🙂

  5. Stacy Green says:

    I just love that Random House has a digital imprint. I don’t write suspense, but I think it’s great they are providing that option and giving writers the chance to work with quality editors. As for promotion, I’m hoping to learn from this post. There are SO MANY avenues out there, including Goodreads, Book Blogs, She Writes, etc. We can’t do everything, obviously. And it seems what works for one book doesn’t for another. I do think blog tours are a great avenue, as is Twitter, if used properly.

    Thanks!

    • SueG says:

      We have been using Goodreads for Arc giveaways, seems to generate interest. I think if you can get enough of a following publishing reviews work too. I think the blog networking thru Goodreads is pretty helpful as well, I’ve made lots of connections thru them. It is so hard to do it all — & do it right so it doesn’t look as though we’re spamming readers. Lots to think about for sure.

  6. macswriter says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone in wondering how this will turn out. It’s reassuring to be a part of an online community discussing the overwhelming changes we are living through. It all makes me wonder how confusing the early part of the C20th was to the people living through all the upheaval and social change then. Clarity will undoubtedly come with hindsight. I do know that your name carries weight Sue, and that counts for something. Something your clients can be grateful for. I also know that reading the free sample of Ruthie’s book, (and being an avid cyclist) was all I needed to buy it. Love the voice, the characters and the premise, so we’re off to a great start. So… you’re doing something right. I’m looking forward to reading the rest. Soldier on!

    • SueG says:

      LOL – Thanks Macswriter🙂 Technology improvements will give us new ways to market too so it is a never ending learning cycle. I hope you enjoy the book — it is a fun read with some great banter.

  7. Carrie says:

    I’m in a critique group with a woman who has self published and just got a contract for a series of her mystery novels to be traditionally published. Even though she is with a big company, so much of the promotion is HER responsibility. The days of a publishing house doing everything for you is long gone.

    I’m not sure what route I will take when I try to get my novel published but I know that there will probably be more work promoting it than I expect, regardless of how I publish. Blog tours will be essential as will other social media outlets.

  8. Promotion is the main issue these days for publishing – whether self-published, via a small indie, or with a mainstream publisher. I’ve been getting published for years by a couple of the big names – Random House and Penguin – but it’s hard even when backed by their efforts. A lot depends on how the media respond. I’ve found social networking helps – the latest issue is that this has worked quite well, but people going to the bookstores for the books I’ve excited them about can’t then find them. Problem with the reps actually selling them to the store buyers, which I’m currently needling my publishers about. So there are bottlenecks all the way – and ultimately, I the real onus always falls back on the author.

    Matthew Wright
    htto://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

    • SueG says:

      Hi Matthew! Good point on the bricks and mortar end — I’m sure budgets are tight with the crazy economy so they may be stocking less and less — everything used to be a lot easier, or seemed like it was. Wow, you’ve got the powerhouses behind you – hang in there, I think things will get easier once the economy turns around too. *fingers crossed*

  9. I’m not published yet, but I did just get an agent. So I’m hoping the publishing part will come sooner rather than later. It’s interesting to read about what Random House is doing for their e-pubbed authors.

    • SueG says:

      Congrats! That is the first of a very big step! If you don’t sell that first book don’t worry – just keep on writing – you learn something new from each book you write. You are certainly on the right road now!

  10. Sharla Rae says:

    As a published author, I’ve always found promotion a mystery. Back in the day, traditional publishers did little and sometimes nothing at all to promote a book unless it was written by a celebrity. I have to commend you, Sue for doing everything within your power to promote your books. In the end, though, it seems to boil down to word of mouth and that’s a very slow process. One source that often goes untapped, though, is the little local reading clubs. I believe there is actually a national organization of book clubs now and that they have conferences. I think if we could tap into those groups and get them to read our books, it would be a great help. I seem to remember someone in our local OCCRWA having a connection to national people. I’ll have to look into that. It’s a word of mouth game even going the book club route but perhaps the process would be a bit faster.

    • SueG says:

      Hi Sharla — back in the day the bookshelf was your advertising🙂 It is a new world in so many ways — good for all in the long run. Reader groups are very important — I try to attend as many as I can – Lori Foster offers a great event as does ROMCONINC – Lora Leigh does an event & then there is one in New Orleans this year, WRITERS AFTER DARK I think its called. These are the venues that will become more and more important in the digital age — also, take advantage of online chats too – readers are everywhere!🙂

  11. It really is nice to know that I’m not alone in the world wide web in trying to promote. I just feel so lost and don’t know where to turn. So I do my best and hope for the best. I’d be very interested in more information regarding blog tours.

  12. Jenny Hansen says:

    Sue, I have seen amazing results come to my pubbed friends with social media. That being said, it doesn’t come by just throwing your stuff out there. It comes from the word of mouth that Sharla discusses above once you take the time to build a relationship with people.

    This is the real reason I think writers are wise to get started on social media and building a platform 2-3 YEARS before their book publishes.

    If they do the social media push only when the book comes out, there’s the risk that they will get clumped into the constant “buy my book” chatter we all hear online. Whenever I see the following phrases from a stranger, I’m likely to tune out, unfollow, or roll my eyes:

    “Buy my book”
    “Download this”
    “Free today.”
    “Take your time to review this.”

    When I hear these same things from someone I know, my usual reaction is, “Sure, OK.” Because we have a relationship and I’ll go out of my way for an acquaintance or friend.

    (Sorry to be so long-winded but I know you want feedback.)

    • SueG says:

      Jenny – truer words have never been written🙂 YES! Authors should be promoting themselves as a brand a year or more before their book is published – absolutely! Keep on talking🙂 Love long windedness🙂

  13. SueG says:

    I just got off the phone with Barbara Vey of PW fame and we were chatting about the web world & how to promote within it — so many readers are still intimidated by blogs and so forth. She agreed that the reader venues are very important — smaller, regional types of events are less intimidating and make it easier for readers to have time to spend with their authors & the authors to have time to spend with their readers — gets buzz going and lots of time for word-of-mouth too *grins*

  14. SD Writer says:

    So much of promotion seems to be luck — the right book at the right time and the universe just nods to it. I’ve brought out my Regency romance backlists and they did very well without much promotion — and there I think it’s a case of there’s eight books, so the volume of work speaks to if a reader likes one they’ll try more. I’ve just bought out my first self-published book–Paths of Desire–and so now it’s experiment time. Blogs, ads, reviews. But there’s nothing that beats word of mouth for a great book–and that’s something no one controls.

    The right title and cover can help a book–but I really thing it boils down to if the writing connects with readers. And that’s just something that happens or not–it’s part magic.

  15. Sharla Rae says:

    Sue, On a quick search I found two major reader-based Book Clubs, the best looks like National Women’s Book Club: http://www.wnba-books.org/ They have an LA group that is having a conference this weekend I was impressed by the line-up. http://www.wnba-books.org/la/ They even have author memberships.

    The other group was Reader’s Circle Book Club. Their site is not as impressive or easy to navigate but might be worth a look-see: http://www.readerscircle.org/

  16. texasdruids says:

    Sue, good to see you back here on WITS. As you know, I’m self-pubbed, and I deal with promotional issues constantly. One thing that has really helped me over the past few months is Amazon’s KDP Select and Kindle Owners Lending Library. I enrolled my memoir, Six Cats In My Kitchen, in this new program back in December. Sales of that book soared, and it was borrowed a fair number of times through the library. I’ve since enrolled a novella and plan to add both of my western historicals to the KDP Select ranks. I’m hoping they will do as well as my cat book. Meanwhile, I blog on my own sites, write guest blogs for others, seek book reviews from well known online reviewers, and chat every day on various Amazon author forums, both here in the US and in the UK. I’m also on LinkedIn and Goodreads, though not so much. I should do much more, but there aren’t enough hours in a day.

  17. Hi Sue! Nice to see you again! 🙂

    I self-published my romantic comedy and everything I’m hearing from people in self-publishing is that it takes about a year on average for things to really take off, and the biggest thing an author can do is write and publish more books. So I’m not spending as much time on social media as other people. I’m on several times a week instead of a few times a day. I am, however, trying to do all I can to get the next book out as quickly as possible – which isn’t all that “quick” when you schedule in time for hiring an editor, getting a book cover made, etc. And then the next book after that. Volume does count for something, at least in self-publishing.

    My other focus is what Jenny said about building relationships so that people know you and love you and want to be involved in your adventure. They begin to feel invested and are more likely to buy the book because it’s someone they “know.”

    My guess is that everything I’m learning about book promotion in the self-publishing world is pretty much the same as what traditionally published authors are doing. At least, when I compare notes with my friends on both sides, we all seem to be doing mostly the same things.

    It’s an adventure! That’s for sure!🙂
    Hugs from another Michigander! 😉

    • SueG says:

      LOL — hugs — freezing up here🙂 Yes, I think it is an ongoing learning experience, God forbid anything be too easy – Grins!

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  19. SueG says:

    BTW authors – RT is still viable – especially their .com so don’t count them out! Till next time – write hard, fast & have fun!

  20. This information is valuable for the new marketer. Thank you so much.
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