This week I am taking a break from Flash Narrative Tuesday to share an interview with author Christine Fonseca, whose book 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids is a new release from Prufrock Press. In addition to being a writer, Christine has a strong background in retail and direct sales, including her first out-of-college job in marketing. She has used this experience to design an author/book promotion plan that combines in-person events with social media tools such as Twitter chats and blog tours, allowing her to reach a broad but targeted readership.
Below are a few of Christine’s Marketing Success Secrets for Writers. Leave a comment on this post before midnight of Friday, May 6th for a chance to win a free copy of 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids directly from Christine.
Christine Fonseca’s Marketing Success Secrets
Question: In what ways has your marketing background affected your work and perspective as a writer?
Answer by Christine: I never really thought that my sales and marketing background would positively impact my life as a writer. Boy was I wrong. That background enabled me to develop a marketing plan for my niche books, finding creative ways to get it in front of my target audience. It also enabled me understand the benefits of collaboration and the comfort necessary to pitch my book. Further, having sales experience allows me to look at this part of the publishing game through the eye of both producer and consumer – something that I think gives anyone a positive edge in this ever-increasing competitive business.
Question: When did you begin the marketing for your first book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, and what were the most important components of your marketing plan?
Answer: Really I started way before the release date. I had my own ideas about promoting it. Fortunately, I read Christina Katz’s book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, before I sold the book – this enabled me to have a good sense of platform development, niche marketing, etc.
When I sold Emotional Intensity, I got to work figuring out how to connect with readers. I made it a point of getting to know people in the Gifted community online and started slowly promoting my book and my name. Then came planning both live and virtual events. By the time the book released, I bombarded the virtual world with “buzz” and held numerous free events. The free book chats continued for several months.
Now, the book is sort of on auto-pilot with sales, punctuated by monthly events. I am hoping to achieve the same kind of thing with my second book, though most of the live events will wait until fall.
Question: What writing other than non-fiction do you do?
Answer: I write YA novels in many genres: Gothic, paranormal and urban fantasy, and contemporary, all with a romantic element. Yea, I am a sucker for a good love story!
Question: Like so many women today, you wear many hats: school psychologist, non-fiction and fiction writer, mom, speaker… Do you ever have difficulty compartmentalizing those roles, or do they blend one into another to form the whole that is “Christine”?
Answer? Do I have difficulty? Do I Ever!!! It’s really hard balancing everything out, and my writer buddies will tell you that it is a struggle at times. These aspects do all blend together to form me, but each has its own space in my life. I use my personal goals as a way to ferret it all out – and that works most of the time. When it doesn’t, when things crowd and become chaotic, I fall back on my biggest priorities: Family and living life. After all, the writing will never happen if I don’t remember to experience life fully.
Question: What is the best advice you have for writers who are afraid of marketing or who feel it is too “showy,” too much against their early training (especially for young girls) not to call undue attention to themselves?
Answer: There is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging your own greatness. Now, I am not talking about bragging or demeaning others in order to feel stronger. But genuinely embracing your own power is a good thing – something we, as women, are definitely acculturated to ignore.
Okay, soap-box over – back to the actual question. Advice. I think it is important to think of marketing NOT as shameless self-promotion, but more like a way to connect with your reader in a meaningful way. Thinking of it in terms of building relationships makes it not only more palatable for those who shy away from marketing in general, but it also places the emphasis where it should be – on building relationships and connecting with readers in a meaningful way.
Question: Of all the forms of social media, what are the most important ones for writers?
Answer: HA! Love this. My answer – the one you like the most! We spend a lot of time building our social networks. I don’t know about you, but there is no way I want to spend that time doing something I despise. So, if you like blogging – blog. Facebook? Use that media. The key is finding something you like doing and do it regularly, focusing on connecting with your reader.
Question: What are some common mistakes that writers make when they begin to market themselves and their work?
Answer: I think the most common mistake is focusing on pushing product instead of building connections. No one likes to feel “sold” to (think used car salesman). But most people like developing relationships. And everyone likes gaining meaningful information for free. Building connections by freely giving of yourself and your product (which is YOU) is a great way to start!
Question: At what stage of the writing process should writers begin thinking about a marketing plan? Should they wait to have finished or published a book?
Answer: In the words of Christina Katz, BEFORE the book deal. You want to develop your platform early on. That said, it is never good to either A) be thoughtless in developing that platform and B) sacrifice writing time for platform development. When you are starting out – and even after you’ve got some publishing credits under your belt – writing must always be in the forefront of your mind. Platform development is then woven into the remaining time. But make certain you have a sense of yourself before you run off and start promoting yourself. The only thing worse than no platform, is a careless bad one!
Question: What are some of your favorite blogs or other resources to help writers with marketing and promotion?
Answer: Obviously I love Christina Katz’s site. Other resources I love are the Guide to Literary Agents, the YALitChat group (especially their internal group focusing on promotions), Elana Johnson’s blog and the majority of agent blogs. Really, there is a vast wealth of information out there…finding it isn’t the problem, I think. Using it in a way that feels natural and authentic is.
Everyone, don’t forget to leave a comment here before midnight, Friday May 6th for a chance to win a free copy of 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids! In the meantime, please visit Christine’s Website and Blog and join Christine on Facebook and Twitter.
Read her guest post What I’ve Learned from My Gifted Kids.