Thursday, November 10, 2016

Booksellers Who Rock Our World - Part 1: Mysterious Galaxy San Diego

Welcome to Part 1 of a series that recognizes booksellers who have been especially helpful to my author clients as they seek to promote their books. In this series, I focus on those booksellers who are always ready to help both independent and traditionally published authors by offering signing events and meet-and-greets, promoting authors to their local communities, carrying the authors' books in their stores, and operating as advocates, advisors, and cheerleaders as authors seek to find reading audiences for their work.

The booksellers that appear here are the best of the best, my go-to resources for events, promotion, guidance, and support for my author clients.

The first bookseller featured in this series is San Diego's Mysterious Galaxy, which is a genre store specializing in science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and horror.  I chose this store to kick-off the series because it has been a long-time favorite of my San Diego and Southern California clients. Tucked away behind a See's Candy shop in Clairemont Mesa, Mysterious Galaxy has been a welcome fixture to book buyers and book writers alike.

What makes this store special is its undying support for indie authors and its spring, fall and winter local author events. At these events, Mysterious Galaxy assembles a large (20+) group of authors, who appear for an entire afternoon to promote their work to readers. Each author is allowed 10 to 15 minutes to talk about his/her book, and then the authors can stay to mingle, sell, and sign copies of their books for customers afterward.

Mysterious Galaxy supplies food, along with beer and wine, at these events, so the atmosphere feels more like a festive party and less like a standard bookselling talk. The store allows the authors to drop off copies of the books two weeks prior to each event and keeps them for up to a month afterward; in many cases, the books are sold before the events even begin. The best part? The authors have a chance to meet online prior to the events, so that by the time the day arrives, everyone seems to know everyone else, and the atmosphere is warm and supportive. These local author events provide a great forum for authors to meet other writers and pitch their books to a reading audience, and they're one of the many reasons Mysterious Galaxy is a beloved fixture on the bookstore scene in San Diego.

Maryelizabeth Yturralde
As part of the series, each bookseller has agreed to answer three questions about the store. Here's what the store's co-owner, Maryelizabeth Yturralde, has to say about Mysterious Galaxy:

How did your store come into being?
The short version: Mysterious Galaxy's "big book bang" came in the early 1990's, when my partners and I felt there was a strong Southern California readership for the kinds of books we are passionate about: books about "Martians, murder, magic, and mayhem," to quote our tag line. We opened our doors in May 1993, and even after approximately 1104 "New Book Tuesdays," we are still thrilled each week when we unbox new arrivals and put them on our shelves (metaphorically, in the case of our ebooks, but still...).

What is special about your store?
While Mysterious Galaxy is a specialty store with a focus on genre fiction, I think what's really special about us is our staff. Our booksellers are passionate and enthused about the curated selection we carry and about helping connect books and readers in both Southern California and the Galaxy's greater genre community.

What words of advice do you have for authors who would like to have their books featured in your store (or bookstores in general)?
Be aware of two things:
1) Booksellers are enthusiastic about community and sharing the magic of books -- but they are also in the business of bookselling, and they need to ensure that inventory is available to them at standard trade terms that make sense for their customer base/readers.
2) Visible inclusivity is critical. If an author's internet presence only directs readers to Amazon for purchase options for the author's books, it can have a dampening effect on other booksellers' enthusiasm for promoting the authors' works. In addition to Amazon, authors should be sure to link to an independent bookstore for sales, so that they offer customers a choice for not only what they buy, but where they buy.

Mysterious Galaxy
5943 Balboa Avenue #100
San Diego, CA 92111

Many thanks to Maryelizabeth and the rest of the crew at Mysterious Galaxy for participating in this series and for always being there for authors - this store is definitely a favorite here in San Diego!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What’s New in Book Promotion? 5 Innovative Ideas from Successful Authors

Note: This article first appeared in Write! Publish! Sell! Volume 1, Issue11, August 2016 - A Free Newsletter/E-zine for Writers

When Write!Publish!Sell! publisher Joan West asked me to write an article on new ideas for book promotion, I figured she was looking for more than the typical book tours and media interviews that we publicists usually put together for our clients. While traditional publicity is important and necessary, there is always room for creativity and invention as authors look for new ways to reach their readers.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come across in recent months from authors who are successfully discovering new methods to help promote their books:

1) Thunderclap campaigns

Thunderclap is a free online social media tool (sometimes referred to as a “crowdspeaking platform”) that allows individuals to share the same message at the same time, in one timed blast, spreading an idea through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Many authors are using Thunderclap as a way to announce new releases, asking their friends and followers to help spread the word by creating a social media message that Thunderclap will then announce through access to the participants’ social media sites on a chosen date.

Does it work? One of my clients, Pamela Fagan Hutchins recently used Thunderclap to announce the release of her newest book, Hell to Pay, in her What Doesn’t’ Kill You romantic mystery series. Pamela asked 250 supporters to participate in her Thunderclap promotion and ended up surpassing that goal by enlisting 357 participants (thus, she achieved 143% participation). Her social media reach on announcement day was 472, 533 people. That’s a lot of potential readers who have now heard about her book!

You can learn more about Thunderclap here: and more about Pamela Fagan Hutchins and her books here:

2) Book resumes 

Author Michele Giacomini recently described how she was creating a one-sheet book resume as a sales tool for use in promoting her book Looking for B.O.B. to managers at local shops and Big Box stores. Her book resume includes general information on the book, 5-starred reviews, and other content that helps position the book as an item that might interest the stores’ customers.

You can read more about Michele and her book here: and her book resume idea here:

3) YouTube video series
One of the best ways to market books is to develop relationships with readers. Author Teymour Shahabi did that by developing a series of YouTube videos on a channel that he calls PageWing ( What makes PageWing remarkable is that Teymour started the series simply as a way of examining his own writing process. He sent his first link to family and friends, and then watched as subsequent video postings began to go viral. The nice thing about this series is that it gives Teymour a platform, where readers get to know him and learn more about him and his upcoming book, while they also learn about writing from the content that he shares on the videos.

If you’re the kind of author who prefers speaking to writing when it comes to book promotion, a YouTube video series like Teymour’s may be a great option.

You can learn more about Teymour and his video series here:

4) Specialty and/or themed events
Author Allison Gilbert recently posted online about how she’s created a unique type of event she

calls The Passed and Present Memory Bash Book Tour. Her tour is actually a series of parties she’s throwing for her readers across the country, with stops in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. At these interactive events, readers participate in meaningful activities from Passed and Present, even lifting their glasses in memory of their loved ones (Allison provides glasses and wine for the toast, too!). Since Gilbert is a nonfiction author who writes about loss and creative ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive, these events are a perfect tie-in with her books and their content.

You can learn more about Allison and her Memory Bash Book Tour here:

5) Easy author access
Ever finish a great book and think to yourself, I would love to send a note to the author, only to find there isn’t any way to do so? In a recent SheWrites post, author Maria Murnane points out that by not including contact information at the end of their books, authors are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with readers. Maria suggests including the first chapter of your next book (or a brief note about something you have in the works), some personalized info in your acknowledgements (rather than just a list of names), and a website or email address, so that readers who’d like to reach you can easily do so.

You can read more about Maria and her books here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Promotion – How to Make It a Labor of Love

When I told my husband I wanted to put a butterfly garden in our backyard last summer, he looked at me with his typical patient expression and said, “Sure, why not?”

Please realize that, at the time, neither of us knew jack about butterflies or what to plant in this type of garden. But when we finally removed a large strip of over-grown mock orange shrubs from our yard last year, we knew it was time to do our part for the planet and provide a safe space where threatened insects like monarch butterflies and bees could roam free of pesticides and predators.

We tilled the soil, read up on nectaring and host plants that butterflies like, listened to the experts at a local butterfly farm, planted, and then waited and watched as our first group of caterpillars emerged.

We learned a few things during that first summer: that monarch caterpillars will eat our milkweed plants to the ground, that most caterpillars don’t make it to the chrysalis stage, that even those that do make it are sometimes attached by predators like tachinid flies, wasps, and lizards, and that when a single caterpillar makes it to the chrysalis stage, it’s something of a miracle.

Our first summer, we had a few butterflies visit our garden. None of our caterpillars survived.

But we didn’t give up. Instead we lovingly tended our garden through the winter, nurturing the existing plants, replacing those that were too damaged or thinned out, getting additional advice from the experts at the butterfly farm, and adding new plants to make the garden more inviting to butterflies.

This summer, in our second year of butterfly gardening, we’ve had multiple butterflies visit the garden daily. Caterpillars have appeared on a regular basis, eating their way through our milkweed and fennel plants, and a few of them have already successfully transformed into beautiful butterflies.

If I’ve learned anything while putting this garden together, it’s that it doesn’t take a lot of initial knowledge to try something new. And with a little research, effort, patience, guidance, and love, we can be successful in our endeavors.

I like to remind my publicity clients, especially those who lament that they know nothing about promotion, that these same gardening values – research, effort, patience, guidance,  and, yes, love – can help them to be successful in their book marketing efforts. Initially, the first attempt at promoting may include a learning curve, where the response may not be great, readers may not come in droves, reviews may be thin or grudging, and sales may be slow to non-existent. 

But the next time you promote a book, you’ve learned some things about yourself, your writing, and what works and what doesn’t when you promote. You make adjustments, adding new material, asking experts (like publicists!) for advice, considering new avenues for marketing, and learning more about the process.

And then, the next time you do it, everything changes – that first group of readers and reviewers remembers you and buys your new book, reviews start to come in a little quicker, speaking appearances are easier to book, bloggers offer you spots on their pages, opportunities for marketing begin to broaden, and promotion and publicity gets easier. If you are dedicated and take what you’ve learned to heart, the results can be astonishing.

Like creating a butterfly garden, promoting a book is a labor of love. The first time around may be disappointing. But when authors are willing to put in the hard work and be open to learning, to making adjustments, and to loving the process, the groundwork set during the first effort pays off.  With research, energy, patience, good guidance and a whole lot of love, your book publicity efforts will thrive.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner's Guide to Book Promotion

I've been busy the past few months putting together a book for authors called The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner's Guide to Book Promotion.  

In The Tao of Book Publicity, I outline the basics of book promotion and explain how the business of publicizing a book works. Designed for beginning authors but also useful for those with some experience in book publishing, The Tao of Book Publicity provides information on the importance of writing a good book and the need for developing a platform, as well as how-to explanations for developing publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. 

The Tao of Book Publicity also covers social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, this valuable handbook explores practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist. 

Simple, straightforward, and informative, The Tao of Book Publicity includes expert advice on all aspects of book promotion and is a go-to reference guide for beginning and experienced authors alike.

You can purchase a copy by clicking on the title here: The Tao of Book Publicity.

I hope you find it useful, and will share your thoughts about it on Goodreads and Happy reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Hiring One-Stop Shops vs. Multiple Specialists for Book Publicity

There are many different services that publicity firms and individual publicity consultants offer to authors looking to promote their books. These services can include any combination of the following:
Helping you identify your personal brand, your target audience, and your potential reach as an author
• Creating media kits (press releases, fact sheets, Q&As, etc.), distributing press releases on the newswire services, and creating sales pitches targeted to specific markets
• Working with you to fine-tune your website and create the best possible web promotion for your book
• Scheduling book signing and reading events
• Contacting local and national television and radio station producers to set up interviews
• Working with local and national print and online editors to obtain feature coverage
• Setting up speaking engagements at targeted venues
• Placing articles you’ve written in targeted print and online publications
• Helping you identify your strengths as a blogger, so you can capitalize on the blogging community
• Working with you to develop an integrated social media brand image on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and other social media sites
• Setting up blog tours and online author interview opportunities
• Providing guidance on the creation of promotional items (bookstore posters, bookmarks, postcards, tear sheets, business cards, etc.)
• Acting as a sounding board for ideas, helping to answer general questions, and providing guidance on promotional issues

Most publicists feel comfortable doing the majority of the items listed here. Some, however, may specialize in one or more these tasks – there are those, for example, who work only with authors and books in specific content areas; others specialize in scheduling feature interviews with national media; some mainly offer blog tours or set up social media pages, while others specialize in magazine article placement. 

What any publicist does specifically for a client will vary depending on the book’s subject matter, whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, the amount and types of publicity the author is looking for, the author’s platform, and the author’s budget.

So, what should authors consider before hiring a publicist? I suggest thinking about 1) the scope of promotional work you’re looking for, 2) the budget and timeframe for the work, and 3) whether or not you want to hire one publicist to handle everything, or use a number of specialists to handle different aspects of your publicity.

Which brings me to the main question: Which is better, the one-stop shop (hiring one publicist to handle all of the work), or farming out different parts of the publicity work to multiple consultants?

Here are the pros and cons (from a publicist’s point of view) for each option:

The Pros of the One-Stop Shop

-       You get one unified, focused perspective and source of guidance to work with (rather than possibly having to deal with conflicting information and points of view from numerous consultants)
-       You have one contact point for your publicity, which makes it easier for media, speaking venues, readers, etc., to reach you or your publicity contact
-       The person handling your publicity will be able to easily integrate all the aspects of the book’s promotion because s/he is the only one doing so
-       Your branding and all of the publicity information put out about you is consistent, because it comes from one place
-       You may be able to save time on your projects because just one person is handling all of them (rather than having to wait for different people to coordinate/adjust their schedules)
-       You may be able to save on costs by hiring one person whose rates, style, and availability fit your budget and needs

The Cons of the One-Stop Shop

-       The publicist you choose may not handle all of the types of publicity you want to use in your promotional campaign
-       The publicist may not be able to accommodate the timing you want for some of your promotional projects
-       You might want more perspective than just one person’s on your promotional campaign

The Pros of Hiring Multiple/Specialized Publicity Consultants or Firms

-       You can spread out the expertise you need depending on what each publicist/promotional expert offers
-       You can bounce ideas off of multiple experts to see what fits/suites you best
-       If all of your consultants are on the same page, you can use them as a kind of marketing team that works together to help you promote your book
The Cons of Hiring Multiple/Specialized Publicity Consultants or Firms

-       You can get conflicting information and/or opinions from different PR consultants, which can result in confusion, misunderstandings, and/or discord in your working relationships
-       You can have problems establishing boundaries, especially if some or all of the consultants are used to doing the same thing
-       People looking to contact you or your publicist may have a hard time deciding how to best reach you if there are multiple individuals promoting your work at the same time
-       Your brand may be difficult to manage as a unified image if multiple people are presenting you to the public, or if your consultants aren’t all on the same page
-       You may find it time-consuming to juggle the intricacies of having all the consultants work together efficiently
-       You may be tempted to play one expert off another in the hopes of finding a champion when you don’t agree with one of your consultants, which can result in a breach of trust
-       Your projects may take more time if there are any scheduling conflicts or miscommunication/confusion/misunderstandings among the consultants.
-       It may cost more to hire multiple consultants or firms

There is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should hire just one person for all your publicity needs, or consider using a number of different people with expertise in certain areas. Personally, I prefer to handle all of my client’s publicity – doing so makes it easier to be responsive, provide guidance, and maintain a consistent promotional and brand image. But, I have, on many occasions, worked with other consultants on client projects, and I’ve enjoyed those interactions.

Whichever way you decide to go, it’s crucial to be up-front from the beginning about what you want the individuals you’re hiring to do (rather than spring it on the publicist or team after the work gets going). If more than one consultant or firm will be involved, it’s especially important to be clear on individual assignments, so that each consultant knows what his boundaries are and how his work fits in with that of the other consultants you’re using.