Kim Castillo truly is the Author's Best Friend. A life-long bookworm, Kim started out with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew, and then turned her love of great fiction to the romance genre. Now alpha heroes and happily ever afters are a pre-requisite for her bookshelves.
Kim was rescued from the drudgery of a 9-to-5 job when she discovered that she had a passion and knack for marketing. Soon her marketing and organizational skills found a niche in the romance novel industry she loves so much. As a freelance personal assistant, she spends her days working with the crème de la crème of best-selling and award winning authors such as Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Madeline Hunter, Mary Jo Putney and Julia London, to name a few.
The work Kim does for authors – everything from bookseller outreach to managing websites and contests – makes her authors’ lives easier, giving them more time to write and be with their families. Visit Kim's website at http://www.romanceauthorsbestfriend.com/
Kim Castillo and her friends, JPerry and Santa
Marketing: When Time and Money Matter
There are several questions I get asked over and over again: How did you start doing what you do? followed closely by, What exactly is it you do? (Don't ask, I don't even know!) From authors I get: What are the best promotion ideas? and, Where will I get the most bang for my promotional buck.
My answers to all of these are an assortment of "ancient Chinese secrets" and "if I tell you I'd have to..." It gets tricky. There are no clear cut answers to what's the best promotional approach. The biggest thing you can do, even before you sell your first book is to write the best book possible. That's the one thing that is quantitative and over which you have absolute control (at least until your editor gets a hold of it). When you write "The End" you need to know that the story you told was the best you could tell.
Aside from that, here are some of my standard promotional suggestions:
Website! You MUST have a website and you MUST update it regularly.
Networking sites. It is vital that you're out there networking. Consider it a 365-a-day cyber RWA conference. I already hear some of you saying "it takes too much time" or "I don't want to." Yes, it does take time. Set your timer to ten-fifteen minutes, send out a few friend requests, respond to messages and wall comments or twitters, put up any new information you have, and then log out. Also, turn your chat feature off.
Bookseller outreach. I can't tell you how important I feel this is. Booksellers are a direct bridge to readers. Educate them, court them. It doesn't have to be extravagant, but you need to reach out to them in some way.
My other biggest suggestion/piece of advice is when you get into promotion, you need to set boundaries. Decide what your dollar budget is going to be, look at the promotions you'd like to do, get estimates, and then see what you can afford. Only do what you're comfortable with. If the thought of a blog-tour makes you queasy, don't do it.
The biggest problem with promotion is that in the book world, you can’t break down the benefits to your business in cold hard cash. You know how much you’ve spent on promotions, but how do you really gauge how successful it was. You can do promotions a, b and c for books 1 and 2. Book 1 might hit the list and the top ten of Bookscan. Book 2 might not even register on Bookscan. There's no telling why. Maybe there was an issue at Levy/Andersen. Maybe there was a snowstorm in the entire Midwest that halted deliveries for two weeks. Charlaine Harris might have the top fifteen spots on the NYT. One or all of these reasons may come into play which is why I say, only do what you're comfortable with. At the end of the day all you're going to be able to do and say is, "I wrote the best darn book I could. Now it’s out of my hands"
What's the coolest promotion for a book you ever saw? Did you buy that book?
Please ask any question you'd like! I'll be popping in and out all day and will answer as best I can.
I have one copy of The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists: Insider Secrets from Top Writers to share with someone who comments today. My dear Eloisa James contributed to this book and she also donated this copy!