Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dana Stabenow Makes Us Need a Nap



In 1991 my editor sniffed out the existence of the first Kate Shugak mystery and offered me a three-book contract. “What makes you think I can write any more of these?” I said. “Shut up and sign,” said she.
***from Dana Stabenow's bio


HANK: Can you imagine?
Anyway, Dana Stabenow--after a rocky and raucous college career and then a stint working on the Alaska Pipeline (this was a while ago, of course) writes a mystery and wins an Edgar. And ever since, many many books later, she continues to win all of our hearts. She's one of the most hilarious witty tough and intelligent--and fun!--sisters of the mystery world. She lives in Alaska, but is here at Jungle Red to chat about the widening gaps between the real world and the cyber world. (But we think its a pretty amazing primer on promotion. Take notes, gang. We are.)



Promotion? Now you can do it in your jammies.

DANA: I’ve got a book coming out next month, Whisper to the Blood. It’s the 16th Kate Shugak novel, and for it I have orchestrated an entire promotional campaign on the Internet. There will be a few personal appearances, but most of it is happening -- or has already -- on line, as follows:


  • October 17th
  • *"the Kate Shugak series (abridged)" posted to YouTube
    *a newsletter sent out to 5,000
    subscribers
    *Chapter 1 of Whisper to the Blood posted on www.stabenow.com
    *a free copy of the book’s ARC given to one of the newsletter subscribers

  • November 17th
  • *a newsletter sent out from www.stabenow.com
    *a second free ARC to a subscriber
    *Chapter 2 of Whisper to the Blood posted on my website
    December 17th
    *a newsletter sent out my website
    *a third free ARC to a subscriber
    *Chapter 3 of Whisper to the Blood posted on my website.
    *A Reader’s Guide to Whisper to the Blood sent to the Minotaur library liaison, who then sent it out to her librarians’ email list
    *A Teacher’s Guide to Whisper to the Blood sent to the Minotaur education liaison.


  • January 17th
  • *a newsletter sent from my website, including a list of author events
    *a fourth free ARC to a subscriber
    *Chapter 4 of Whisper to the Blood posted on my website

  • February 2nd
  • *a newsletter notifying subscribers of author events and the imminent posting of the guides on my website
    *a mini short story posted to http://www.stabenow.com/ set in the Kate Shugak universe between A Deeper Sleep (Kate15) and Whisper to the Blood (Kate16).
    *A week of blogging on Moments in Crime, the St. Martin's Minotaur authors blog.

  • February 17th, publication day of Whisper to the Blood
  • *The Reader’s Guide and the Teacher’s Guide posted to http://www.stabenow.com/.
    March 3rd
    *Online chat with the Danamaniacs.

    In contrast, here is the sum total of my actual, in-the-flesh appearances for Whisper to the Blood:


    *February 17th, pub day party at the Poisoned Pen (alliteration is my life) in Scottsdale, Arizona. *February 21st, signing at Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska.
    And that’s it. Only two live and in person events, but I’m all over the Net.

    I’m all over the Net even when I don’t have a book coming out. I review books on Amazon, with a link to them from my website. I’m an Amazon Connect Author, with my website blog RSS’d to my Amazon blog, so that everytime I post to my website, it also appears on every one of my book pages on Amazon. Here, click on the Amazon Whisper to the Blood page and scroll down. See?

    I’ve RSS’d the website feed to my Facebook page as well, and my Facebook page is connected to my Goodreads Author page, which I have also linked to from my website. All of these sites have event calendars, to which I have posted my events.

    You can upload videos to Facebook and Goodreads, too, so I dutifully uploaded "the Kate Shugak series (abridged)" to them as well. From my website there are links to my entry on Wikipedia, my podcasts on Odeo (which reminds me, have to record one for Whisper to the Blood), to my photo album on Flickr, and to my Zazzle store. I try to put a lot of links in the posts, too, because they break up the text, because multiple links outside your own website moves your profile up on Google, and because nothing annoys me more than to read the New York Times and not to have links from the text to what they're talking about.

    You're noticing a lot of links in this blog, too. I also guest blog when invited. Hello!

    I like this. I like it a lot. I would much rather be blogging from home in my pyjamas than getting on yet another fricken’ airplane going Outside.
    I like it, yes, but the real question is, How effective is an internet promotional campaign? I have spent a great deal of time and a lot of money creating and maintaining my presence on the Internet. Will all this effort and expense help sell books?

    I don’t know yet. Nobody does. My biggest fear is that we're only talking to each other.

    All we really know is that the old methods of promoting books -- book reviews, newspaper ads, author tours, indie bookstores hand-selling copies -- have changed so radically in the last decade as to be unrecognizable, or have simply disappeared. The bricks and mortar bookstores are moving online and selling through bookfinder.com.

    Newspapers are failing because everyone is getting their news online. Hell, anyone with a cell phone is making the news nowadays. How long do you think it’ll take a photo or a video of me at one of my two events to be posted to the web? My guess is just long enough for the person who took it to get home to their computer. If they don’t send it to someone else in front of their computer over their phone while they’re still in the room first.

    The good news is we don’t have to invent a whole new method of reaching out to readers, all we have to do is take advantage of what’s already there. Blogs like Jungle Red (love the name, BTW), websites, Amazon, Facebook, You Tube -- thanks to the World Wide Web, everyone online has a surfbyte from which to hang ten over the cyberwaves. All I'm trying to do with my little online promotional campaign is to direct a few of those surfers to the shores of my own little cyberspace island, and I’m just hoping everybody doesn’t wipe out once they get there.

    Although I just googled surf slang, and they don’t say "wipe out" anymore...

    HANK: Thanks Dana. Now I'm singing that 60's song.
    So! Questions for Dana? She's here hanging with Jungle Red...and because we're so happy about that, we're drawing three names to win copies of her books!
    You see why we need a nap. Whew!


    But Dana--may I ask About Kate? Sixteen stories! Does it get incredibly difficult?

    59 comments:

    Carla Buckley said...

    Dana--I'm so happy to "see" you here! I'm a huge fan (ever since an editor--not yours!--directed me to your work and told me she wished she could find another writer like you) and I'm curious. Here you are, at the top of your profession, coming out with your sixteenth book no less, and yet you're still working hard to get the word out.

    What are you hoping to attain and when will you know you've been successful?

    Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

    Hey Carla! So great to see you here.

    Yes, you'd think Dana would be eating bon bons by now.

    Suzi said...

    I'm also a fan and have been following all this via your Facebook page. I am a true believer in social networking and I can attest to the success of your campaign because, much as I hate to admit it, I'm enough out of other loops right now that I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. Have at least one bon bon on me!

    Silver James said...

    Wow, Dana. As a writer with my first book coming out at some point this year from a smaller press, I'm amazed that someone with your writing chops still has to "make the rounds" like this. It's a good object lesson to all of us.

    My question: If you knew then (your first book) what you know now, what one thing would you have considered the most important and useful marketing tool?

    beckylevine said...

    I love reading this--so much talk about WHETHER to promote online. I think this is the first real, detailed HOW to do it I've seen. Dana, will you blog about the results as the year goes by?

    My question: Was the online promotion your idea/push, or your publisher's/agents? How is your publisher feeling about it--versus more in-person appearances?

    Sheila Connolly said...

    Oh my. You make me tired just reading about this.

    But I think you've laid it out very well, and made it clear that it's a continuum--each piece feeds into another.

    Question: how much time do you devote to creating and maintaining all these promotional efforts, compared to writing?

    PS. Love the Kate Shugak books. Of course, I'd read them with or without promotion.

    Helen Ginger said...

    Well, to use a catch-phrase of my mama's, Good Lord A'Mighty, Dana, when do you sleep? Incidentally, I met you in '95 when you stopped in Austin, Texas, at a long-ago-closed indie store called "Crime and Space." Considering you're from Alaska and you were down here in Texas on tour, I'm not surprised you're taking advantage of online promotion. Doesn't mean you're not doing just as much work, but the traveling from bed to desk has got to be easier.

    Roberta Isleib said...

    Hi Dana, welcome to Jungle Red! yeah, isn't that the question--does any of it work??? And I too would like to hear from you about balancing online promotion (or any promotion) and writing. And another question, have you gotten to any points along the way where you got tired of your series?

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Okay, just woke up. Lemme get some coffee...

    Kymm said...

    Dang, Dana, you stole my line. I need some coffee, too.

    Just read your list of activities and you're like a whole industry! No wonder you need coffee, girl!

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Wow, Carla, who was that editor? (laughing) What am I hoping to attain? Good sales, enlarge the fan base. When will I know if it worked? I don't know what that looks like on the Internet yet. I'll let you know when I see it. (And this is my 25th book, just the 16th Kate Shugak novel.)

    No bons bons for this worker bee, Hank. Not yet, anyway.

    Delighted to hear you've been following on Facebook, Suzi, because Facebook is the most marvelous online tool for connecting with fans, and I hope potential fans.

    Silver, we all still have to make the rounds. Stephen King Himself is writing for the Book Beast. Admittedly, he doesn't have to work as hard as the rest of us for name recognition, but he's still in there pitching. And from those two examples alone you can see how the tools change. The best marketing tool is always going to be the individual author's energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to the fans. You can't go lazy on 'em.

    Part of the push for the online promotional campaign was in the headlines last year, Becky, in two parts, publisher budget cuts and advertising moving online. We're all being driven online, and what I love most about it is I get to talk directly to you and everybody else. Remains to be seen if anyone is listening other than a few hard core fans and aspiring authors. Like I said, my biggest fear is we're only talking to each other.

    Thanks, Sheila, and how I wish I'd started a time sheet when I began this. A lot of hours, for sure. Some of it's fun and some of it's drudgery (putting in the links definitely coming under the second).

    I remember Crime and Space, Helen, didn't they have a barrel of ice and Diet 7UP, at that time Kate's favorite drink?

    I haven't gotten tired of Kate yet, Roberta. I've sworn a mighty oath that I will stop writing her when that happens. So far, she's still making me laugh and gasp and sometimes weep.

    Rhys Bowen said...

    Welcome, Dana.
    You seem to have this whole web promo thing down pat. (I'm taking notes).
    It seems such an easy way to reach many more people than subjecting the body to all those six a.m. flights and eating airport food for a week or more.
    See you at Poisoned Pen next week, I believe

    Jan Brogan said...

    Wow Dana!
    I love this interview and your observations about the changing world -- from bookstore to newspaper. As a reporter, it saddens me, but there is no use denying the lightspeed of our altered universe! Thanks for joining us on Jungle Red!

    lucas10252003 said...

    I think that Kate makes all of your readers laugh, cry and rage right along with her. I can't wait for the new book!! I hope that Kate stays alive and well in your imagination (and on paper) for years to come.

    GrandmaO said...

    Hi Dana,

    How do you balance out all the promotional work to promote the latest book while working on a new project?

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Thanks, Rhys, and yes, see you in Scottsdale. (I don't know if you should be taking notes, I'm no expert in internet promotion, in the immortal words of Indiana Jones, I'm just making this up as I go along.)

    Jan, change is hard (really going philosophical on you here, aren't I, not to mention obvious) but don't be sad. The Alaska Mudflats blog (http://www.themudflats.net/) pretty much all by itself just forced the MSM to pay attention to what was going on in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta. Citizen journalism! And they're now taking ads for their page, which means they may be able to make a living at it in time. Mine is one of them, I've got a Whisper to the Blood ad on their page right now. News reporting is necessary for an informed citizenry, it ain't going anywhere. Except on line.

    Me, too, Lucas, and thanks!

    I don't know, GrandmaO. Maybe the next book will turn out to be crap because I spent too much time online promoting this one. Like I said above, I'm just making this up as I go along.

    Terri Thayer said...

    I worry too that we're just talking to ourselves. I really appreciate your laying out exactly what you're doing. All of us are struggling with how to reach our audience.

    I loved following you on Facebook the day of the inauguration. It was such fun, but I wonder if you worry about being too political. It's easy to say we need to be ourselves, but I'm not sure I can afford (literally!) to alienate any readers.

    Carla Buckley said...

    Dana, thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback. I'd be happy to share that editor's name (but maybe offline, if that's possible). It was funny how it happened. We were at a writers' conference and she'd just bought a friend of mine's debut novel. My friend was trying to share the wealth by introducing me to her, so I pitched my then mystery. Her response? A heavy sigh, some eye rolling, and: "What I'm really looking for is a Dana Stabenow. She's one of the best out there, in my opinion."

    Dana Stabenow said...

    I loved my inaugural experience on Facebook and CNN! (And npr.org bbc.com and nytimes.com, I was clicking back and forth) Best inaugural I never attended, and I think mostly because I could visit with all my Facebook friends who were there, too.

    Too political? Yeah, I worry about that, but since I get yelled at no matter what I write I've pretty much given up trying to please all the people all the time. I expect to get a tremendous amount of s*** from Alaskans over Whisper to the Blood, as I've picked up the Pebble Mine and put it down in Kate's Park. She's trying to make it work, and there are a whole bunch of people in Alaska who don't want no mines nowhere around them. But is it good for the story arc of the series? Yes. Will it develop Kate's character? Yes. Will the fans enjoy it? Yes. Well, I hope so. As a writer, as an entertainer, those have to be the first things I think of, period.

    Wow, Carla. Yes, definitely, love to hear who said such nice things about my work, especially an editor. Email me through Facebook, maybe?

    Anonymous said...

    You should worry about being too political and alienating people. 58 million people voted for the also rans. Not all of us carry the Obama torch. Banging the drum too loudly has always been an issue affecting sales. I grew up in a small family business and my parents never publically displayed our politics...no yard signs...no bumper stickers. When people have a choice they can choose to go elsewhere.

    I've enjoyed the online marketing, Dana. I especially liked the YouTube video. And btw I'm still not over Hunting Grounds!

    Dana Stabenow said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Dana Stabenow said...

    [tried to edit and wound up deleting, argghh]

    And that is their choice, Anonymous. However, I would maintain that a strong voice and one that is unafraid to take a stand is essential to the writing of good fiction. A story that is leeched of opinion is bloodless. And boring.

    P.J. O'Rourke is one of the liveliest writers working today. Christopher Hitchens is another. I read them both, though they could not be farther apart in their ideologies. One of the best things about the Internet is we can expose ourselves to everything across the political specturm. One of the worst things about the Internet is that we can restrict ourselves to reading only people like us.

    Chester Campbell said...

    Great ideas on Internet promotion, Dana. I've stepped up the pace with the first of a new series coming out in April, but I'm feeling blogged down. You've given me some new possibilities to chew on. I admire your venturesome nature.

    beckylevine said...

    There's another similar discussion going on over at Sarah Prineas' LiveJournal blog (http://sarah-prineas.livejournal.com). Sarah was pegged by her publisher to be one of the authors who get a huge promotion (in-person) budget for her first book, and she traveled all over last year, on their budget. They just shifted things around and are refocusing online promotion. Her concern is whether or not that's really going to reach the kids who are her readers. It's another angle if anyone wants to jump over there & take a look.

    Dana Stabenow said...

    I don't know about venturesome, Chester. Reckless, maybe? The difference between me and the Big Names is that they have minions to do this stuff for them (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/books/review/Sullivan-t.html). I'm hoping the work pays off in more fans and increased sales, but I have no idea if it will.

    Becky, I'll take a look. It's a story we're all hearing lately.

    And Anonymous, forgot to say, I think I like your title better than mine. [grinning] And glad you're enjoying the books!

    Rebecca said...

    Hi Dana--I wouldn't worry about being too political on facebook. Knowing the politics of a particular author has never prevented me from buying a book. Besides, it's fun to interact with you on facebook on topics other than Kate Shugak. It's a reminder that all writers have lives...indeed, I was told while a graduate student that I would never get a job because I blogged under my own name and occasionally wrote political entries. Yet here I am, sitting pretty on the tenure track at a research I institution. Bah!

    And, how cool that you are blogging with Hank Phillipi Ryan. I often find myself wishing that Houston had a real "Help Me Hank" equivalent...:)

    Dana Stabenow said...

    I don't know, Rebecca, if I had more sense I probably would worry. Call me clueless but I have faith in the average reader's ability to distinguish between the work and the author. I know, I know, some won't, but I'm just not powerful enough to change that without sucking all the life from my novels. And I wouldn't if I could.

    I am keeping pretty darn good company on Jungle Red, aren't I?

    Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

    Well, Rebecca! What a
    lovely thing to say. You are so generous! And hey, if you need help, you just email me. Help Me Hank does not acknowledge state lines. xoxo

    Terri, sometimes I worry, too, that we're just talking to each other.
    (Not that there's anything wrong with that..I mean, look who "each other" is!) But I'm always finding a new author or a new pal. It's all...ripples, you know?

    And Hey Chester! What a treat to see you. And it's a reminder how far behind I am on Facebook.
    At least that proves I'm doing it myself..

    Anonymous said...

    Doh! I always do that...Hunter's Moon...Killing Grounds...UGH!

    And you are right, Dana...always are btw..."strong voice and one that is unafraid to take a stand". My point is banging the drum too loudly...beating someone over the head with a stick...forcing them to drink the kool-aid...can backfire. We are in an age of media where "you are stupid if you don't agree with me". But I don't see you ever doing that...

    It's times like this that I wish I were better with English than computers. LOL

    Looking forward to next week!

    Dana Stabenow said...

    It's okay, Anon, I loved it. You remember the story, that's the main thing.

    Speaking of things I still get beat up on for...not that I didn't deserve it.

    And rejoice in it.

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Here's something that makes me feel like maybe Internet promotion is all worthwhile:

    The New Carlisle Library in Dayton, Ohio, just friended me on Facebook.
    I went to their page and it looks like they're friending every writer on Facebook. Of course we're all saying yes, who doesn't want to be friends with a library? Now they can approach me directly for a signed book for a fundraiser or an appearance, and I can approach them directly if I'm going to be in their area and offer my services.

    Now that is networking. I LOVE Facebook!

    Tracy Black said...

    Don't worry, you're not "talking to each other." We're just reading quietly and absorbing!
    Thanks for: all your books;cool links and posts on facebook (esp. mudflats); Internet marketing plan; and making us all feel like "friends."

    Kenna said...

    Dana - great post! I'm slow getting into the social networking, and just joined Facebook recently. It is a great networking tool, and I am just on the fringes.

    Thanks for sharing your experience - hope to hear more about how it's all working out!

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Thanks, Tracy, you comfort me. And you're welcome, too!

    You're gonna love Facebook, Kenna. I keep finding out new ways to use it every day.

    Anonymous said...

    "Speaking of things I still get beat up on for...not that I didn't deserve it."

    Do you mean in the books or out?

    Anonymous said...

    Oh...and for online content...are you going to Twitter you live event next Tuesday?

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Ah, Anon, in the books of course, and that book in particular.

    I don't have my iPhone yet and my current Stone Age phone won't tweet, so I won't be Twittering from the launch party. Hey, I might ask if someone in the audience could. I don't know how I'd get the word out about that, though. Suggestions?

    Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

    Dana says: "I don't have my iPhone yet and my current Stone Age phone won't tweet, so I won't be Twittering from the launch party."

    Just think. Three years ago, that would have been incomprehensible.

    Interesting, huh?

    Dana, you're amazing! Thank you so much. We'll leave this up one more day, okay? And we're stll taking entries to win a copy of Dana's latest book. Just comment...and cross your fingers.

    Winners announced Friday!

    Anonymous said...

    Keep getting beat up for the book content...don't go for the Kool-aid agenda some celebrities go for...

    I haven't figured out the Twitter thing...I don't have a smart phone so I depend on the Twitter website...I read the celebs were twittering from the Grammy's red carpet. Maybe another online marketing opportunity for next time...

    Beth Groundwater said...

    Dana,
    I want to know how you manage your newsletter subscriber list and send out the newsletters. I have about 1800 subscribers myself and recently switched from Zinester to Vertical Response to take care of the database and send out the newsletters. Do you use a service like that? If so, which one? If not, how do you do it? Thanks!

    Dana Stabenow said...

    It's emailed from CreateSend out of Sydney, by way of my web designer, GereDonovan Creative in Anchorage.

    They've made it very easy for me. People subscribe on the website, the email addresses are stored in a data base (I call it the Known Readers Club), they have a template for the Roadhouse Report that I write the newsletter on, I schedule it to be sent out to the subscribers, and they charge my credit card.

    They have excellent statistical reporting, too, I can log on anytime and see which links have been clicked how many times and when.

    Carla Buckley said...

    This has really been a great exchange. Thanks, Hank! (I love this blog!)

    Rosemary Harris said...

    Hi Dana,
    I'm late to the party..since I had my own party yesterday for The Big Dirt Nap and was swamped all day...But I'm so glad I got to read this entire exhange. Lots of great information.
    Yes, I worry sometimes that we're just talking to a small incestuous group (online), but I think it's growing exponentially. Facebook is so much easier and more fun than MySpace and that's been a huge difference. It's hard to quantify. I like the Obama strategy - internet, yes, but don't give up pressing the flesh.

    Now, a question...with so many Kate books already out there, do you feel obliged to come up with totally different adventures for her..and how the heck do you keep track of all the story lines that you've already used?

    Anonymous said...

    I did a little Twitter research. You don't need a smart phone like a Blackberry or iPhone. All you need is a cell phone with the ability to send text messages.

    http://help.twitter.com/forums/23786/entries/14589

    If your cell phone isn't text ready, I think you can pick up a "pay as you go" cellphone pretty cheaply and use it temporarily.

    There's a way to tie your tweets to Facebook as well.

    Best way to get the word out is Facebook... Maybe borrow Laurie's phone...

    Another online marketing tool...digg it...http://digg.com/about/

    Dana Stabenow said...

    I have a Kate timeline, Rosemary, with all the books placed on them and the significant personal events of Kate's life included. However, if I'm going to write many more Kates I'm going to need a Bible. Remains now to decide if I hire someone to do it or do it myself.

    And thanks for the info, Anon, I can text and I'm on Twitter so I'll see what I can do!

    Hallie Ephron said...

    Interesting discussion. I sure HOPE face to face contact with readers doesn't go away, because I love love love getting out of my own little corner of the world and meeting people who are mystery readers.

    A few days ago I interviewed a very big-name crime novelist who complained about being asked to blog on other people's sites. The author compared it to being asked to write for free. In the "old days," the author pointed out, people actually picked up the phone and interviewed you and then wrote about it. And what good did all that blogging do, she wondered.

    I wonder, too, and I thought maybe if my publisher was sending me on a worldwide whirlwind tour maybe I'd be complaining too. Instead, I'm grateful for every opportunity I get to be featured on other people's sites.

    - Hallie

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Oh, what you said, Hallie.
    For one thing, as I intimated in my original post, blogging from home on anyone's site is a lot less labor intensive on the author.
    For another, people form habits on the Internet as anywhere else, there are certain sites every individual surfer visits regularly, and I believe it takes cross blogging like this to jolt us all out of our comfort zones.

    As to touring in person -- long, long ago Berkley sent me on a 3 and 1/2 week tour (think of this big backwards six on the left 2/3s of the nation). I was away from home and work for almost a month. Some appearances two people showed up, some appearances 100. One place I signed between the CDs (pre-iTunes) and the videotapes (pre-DVDs). I signed at an Ingram's where we gave away a hundred books.

    As sure as I'm sitting here we did not sell anywhere near a fraction of the books necessary to pay for that tour, the flights, the hotels, the author escorts. Sure, touring strokes the ego, and yes, fans love it (if they show up, ask any bookseller and they'll tell you they sell as many or more books the week following an author event as they do during the event), but is it fiscally responsible? And if you care, environmentally?

    One of the reasons I hope that this little campaign of mine pays off in sales is so I can say, "See? SEE? This works, let me do one public appearance and the rest from home on the Web!"

    I believe publishers are being forced into this as a matter of bottom line practicality anyway. All of us are. I'd just like to see it embraced culturally as well.

    Anonymous said...

    I'd still like to see multi-author conferences survive. Once I get my kids out of the house or at least older, I'd like to attend one or two.

    Then I can stalk in person instead of all this cyberstalking... LOL

    Rebecca said...

    By the way, Dana, I really love the zazzle store. I think that's a great way to promote your books; Americans seem to love to buy products, and I count myself in that number. (I have an Honor Harrington T-Shirt that says "I survived the Crusher and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt"--very funny.)

    I think you should definitely have someone tweet your book party. Ask for volunteers on facebook and offer a free signed Whisper as a reward for the best tweets on the party, or something like that. Or a mug. You know, give an incentive for getting your fans to promote your book for you!

    But, all internet promotions aside, I'd be buying Whisper on Feb 17th even if I weren't your friend on facebook. :)

    Rhys Bowen said...

    I'm now really late to chime in on this discussion, but one of the reasons a publisher sends out an author on tour the moment the book comes out is to drive up the numbers at NYT reporting stores and hopefully to make the list.

    Butyou are right, Dana. It never makes sense financially, although each personal appearance probably generates quite a few sales before and after AND insures that the store will stock your books in future.

    I'm still waiting to see if my publisher wants to do another of those whirlwind tours this summer, if not, I'm following Dana's blueprint! Thanks, Dana.

    Dana Stabenow said...

    That is an excellent suggestion, Rebecca. I think I'll do it even if I get my own phone up and running. That way if I fart in public you'll be the first to know. Because you know that's not what I'll be tweeting about.

    Rhys, I'm not sure anymore than an author appearance will in fact keep our books in the store. Bookstores we both know are deleting inventory like mad because of the whole returns idiocy and publishers are cracking down on when and if they'll take returns. Bookstores are also becoming much more careful about just how many copies of any book they order. There just seems to be so much more in favor of a few select appearances and then logging on from home.

    But what do I know. I'm just making this up as I go along.

    Metonia said...

    How do you cope with the exhaustion of doing so much promoting.

    Dana Stabenow said...

    Metonia--

    Creating blogs, links and events for an online promotional campaign is far less exhausting than getting on and off a dozen planes and unpacking and packing in a dozen hotel rooms and racing from car to car and making nice with author escort after author escort for an in-person book tour.

    The online is work, no question, and it is tiring, especially since I'm doing it myself, but at my house the cold water always works, I get my coffee how I like it, and I don't have to turn the key in the ignition of my car. I don't even have to get dressed.

    My webmaster said some smart things about online promotion to me recently that I have asked him if I may post here for you all to read. Waiting on that...

    Dana Stabenow said...

    I asked my webmaster (a little plaintively, I admit) if all this online activity would make any difference. This is his reply:

    "It will make a difference. The question is, how much of a difference?

    "My biggest fear is that we're only talking to each other."

    That's a valid concern. Another that I have, when you get way out into that long tail:

    "When you go from mass media to really-niche media, yes you're talking directly to a highly-qualified audience. But how big is that audience? You generally don't earn significant cabbage unless you're dealing in high-dollar items or selling low-dollar items to large groups of people."

    I don't think anyone has the answers, but you can wait for someone else to figure it out -- and hope you don't get left behind -- or you can get out there (as you are), mess up, learn things, and perhaps hit it big. People used to get on big boats and sail off across the ocean. Some of them came back, having discovered new worlds and great riches. And some of them sank."

    Dana again -- In fact, most of them sank. But they were all trying their butts off.

    Mary-Frances said...

    Dana,
    I love what your webmaster said. I've got a ms out to publishers and in the meantime I'm working to build a presence through Facebook, Twitter and my blog.

    Will it help me sell books when I get published? No one knows the answer to that but I'd rather cast a wide net and see what happens. It just comes down to balancing the online activities with writing.

    Beth Groundwater said...

    Hi Dana,
    Sorry I took so long to thank you for the information about the CreateSend email newsletter service. Their pricing structure looks similar to Vertical Response, so I guess all the email newsletter businesses know "what the market will pay". You sure started a firestorm of discussion on promotion here!

    Dana Stabenow said...

    In case anyone is still looking at this page, and in case they wanted an explanation of why you should link your post to everything under the sun, here's what I wrote to Laurie King:

    The more external links you have on your website the higher up you register on Google search hits.

    Specifically, if you link to websites other than your own, you'll get more hits.

    This is Google's way of ensuring that websites don't link only to themselves, which would defeat the purpose of their existence, which is to offer the broadest and most inclusive possible search results. Linking only to your own website is exclusive. They know that, they don't like it, and they won't reward it.

    It's posted somewhere on Google as part of their standard policy, and it's structured into their search algorithms. (Don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about? I had to spell check algorithm.)

    I link to everybody, any subject I write about, and my website is consistently at the top of the Google search list when I search myself. I do this about once a month (okay, when I remember) just to be sure, and my webmaster backstops me as well. The more people move online, the more important this is to us. Keep in mind, a million new people get on Facebook every DAY. If you're serious about maintaining a viable online presence, it's worth the drudgery of putting in the links. (And it is drudgery.)

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