Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MJ ROSE with marketing tips for writers

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose's novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.

She also founded and still runs the first marketing company for authors -, where she works with debuts and bestselling authors. She is also the co-founder of and

JAN BROGAN: How did you as an author wind up starting AuthorBuzz?

M.J.: I left advertising to write fiction. Only to find out that to stay alive as an author I had to get back into the ad business. I got into publishing just when it was becoming evident that authors who are marketing partners with their publishers have a better chance of a happy, healthy career.

As one friend said, it's like I finally became a Russian Princess on the eve of the revolution and I think it’s an apt description.

But most authors not only don’t want to do any marketing (and why should we – we’re writers), but they also haven’t had any experience as marketers.

To that end I started AuthorBuzz - offering services that are the culmination of a 15-year career in advertising and a multi-book career as a novelist.

What I learned from marketing my own books, I now help authors and publishers do for theirs.

JAN: How do you juggle writing, marketing and running your own company.

M.J.: I cloned myself – haven’t you? No? Right, not me either. I split my day and am really disciplined about it – plus AuthorBuzz has a staff. Running the company is the morning, writing is the afternoon and sometimes night. The part I have the hardest with is marketing that AuthorBuzz can’t do for me either – social networking. It’s a huge time suck. See next question.

JAN: I for one, am relieved to hear someone who is an expert in marketing say that! I always wonder why I am wasting my time. How important do you think social media really is? How important is it for authors to promote their work on Facebook and Twitter?

M.J.: I think that’s hardest thing for all authors to figure out - it is for me - is social media really working? Is tweeting when your book is out a solution or a drop in a vast ocean?

I don’t have any answers but I’m thinking about it a lot and writing about it as much as I can. ( -been-told-tweet-facebook-myspace-blog-use-all-the-free-tools-and-use-th.html)

Recently I found this article ( that’s going to shake up a lot of authors who think they’ve solved their problems with a fan page at Facebook and maybe a little Twittering on the side.

It’s critical because it explains what happens at Facebook. And how it really isn’t the be all end all marketing solution we all hope it is.

Basically it explains how few of your fans are getting your messages and all your Facebook efforts may not really be getting you what you think.

JAN: What advice can your offer authors on how to best use their time?

M.J.: Do what you feel comfortable doing. Find your own way. But if you want to press me into answering…

I think the two most important things authors can be doing are the two most old fashioned. One writing, one marketing.

1. Write the best book we can. Because that’s what makes people tell other people about a book. That it was amazing. That it was a wow – in whatever genre it happened to be. That you can’t stop thinking about it after you turn the last page.

2. Have a newsletter list and sign up fans. Ultimately the single most critical thing you can have - bar none - is the email addresses of your readers. Nothing matters more - not even 1 million Facebook fans. Email addresses is why Amazon is the most powerful force in the publishing biz right now – they know who buys what books. When you buy ads on websites- say a highly powerful one – like Martha Stewart’s – the cost per thousand impressions is about $37 but if you wanted an email in her newsletter it would go up to $100 per thousand.

JAN: Although, I'm the worst at collecting email addresses, this sounds like incredibly sound advice. One important thing to focus on. Tell us about your new novel, and about your research into the perfume industry.

M.J.: My next novel – The Book of Lost Fragrances - comes out in March. That novel the two after that feature a woman named Jac L’Etoile whose family has owned a fine French perfume house since 1770.

And I’ve become obsessed with fragrance. In the last two years I’ve met with over a dozen perfumers gotten thousands of samples and bought hundreds of bottles.

As well I’ve fallen in love with collecting vintage perfumes. Not a good idea if you have limited funds. Every day EBay tempts me with glorious fragrances can be exorbitantly priced. Most recently I lusted after a $900 bottle of Djedi by Guerlain with one inch of juice left.

There is nothing like those scents created before the 1990s before certain ingredients started to be identified as allergens or outlawed by governments for environmental reasons.

Now if there was only a fragrance that when readers smelled it – it made them run to a bookstore and buy our books….

JAN: Learn more about MJ at: and please, ask M.J. your own questions about marketing and social media.


  1. Thank you for some sane and sensible advice. One of the most frustrating things for a writer is not knowing which effort is working for you. Any suggestions on how to track these?

    My daughter has recently gotten into perfumes (we now have tiny sample tubes scattered all over the house). Is it something in the air? I'll tell her to watch for your book.

  2. Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing that info.

    Question about email addresses: How do you collect them? Would there be any way of making a big Fan group on facebook and sending them all a message instead? Seems like if you already have a collection of fans in one place, you should be able to contact them all at once.

    Speaking of Mystery at

  3. Dear Sheila - hi - people in advertising have a great saying - 50% of all ads work - problem is we don't know which 50%.

    Also effort to sales is hard to measure b/c sales aren't always immediate. Sometimes people put books on lists or in shopping carts. They take them out from librarians.

    Also attention for the book doesn't always translate to sales b/c people read pages/flaps before buying so the book sells itself at that point.

    I've done buzz that has been a failure - and that has been a success. Because when people go to look at the book - they don't all like the book!

  4. Hi Max - yes - have a contest at your facebook page where people have to sign up to your email newsletter to win!

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  6. Hey, dear MJ! SO great to see you here...I can attest to your skill and success!

    I look in my spam filter, sometimes, and find newsletters from authors that got stuck there. And I think, yikes, this person thinks I got their mailing, but I (almost) didn't. Any way to prevent that?

    And what do you see as a respectful use of email? Like--how often can you send newsletters before they're just instantly deleted? Or does that matter?

    See you soon! xo

  7. Hi MJ--thanks for the oh-so-helpful advice. I have a question about the dilemma of the double FB page. I have three times as many friends as fans. Not only does my publisher want me to use the fan page more, but I'm also double-posting book-related things, knowing that if I post only on the fan page two-thirds (a fraction of the two-thirds:-)) of the people on the friends page won't see it. The obvious solution is to move everyone to the fan page and close down the personal page. But a)I LIKE my personal page, and I use it to communicate with close friends and family, b)I think readers like feeling they have a personal connection, and c)once most writers switch over to fan-page only they seem to disappear from my FB feed even though I've LIKED their pages.

    Any suggestions? And apologies for the long post!

  8. Hi Hank! Nice to be here. You can do the newsletter a few different ways - if you truly have an concept you can do it once a month. (Or if you are a brilliant raconteur and have really great things to say that are not at all about your book - I think Lisa Scottoline sends out her columns about age/daughter/animals. My friend Doug Clegg does - he gives our free short stories via the newsletter - great monthly contests- big stuff - no one complains. Just sending out a hi once a month or a buy my book once a month would be too much. Starting in Sept I'm doing a monthly - but its going to be a big contest every month. Other writers do 2-4 a year on releases. As for the spam - no way to do that on your end - but I think most folks with email check their spam now.

  9. Hi Deb -
    SO I did all that. I had a friends page that got up to 6000 plus and moved everyone to a fan page and then started a new friends page that is really small - in the 200 range = 90% people I actually know and want to communicate with. It does makes sense and there's no drawback. Most times I don't want to say the same thing to both groups anyway - so I don't have a problem with it. When you say book things - is it your books? I'm one of those people who think less is more when it comes to talking about my own books anyway - so I don't want to over do the me me me thing to my friends espcecially. A little me me is fine with the fans - they are after all readers.

  10. I've been picking MJ's brains for years, and have always seen results when I follow her advice. So much so, that I used her AuthorBuzz service for my last book. Which was the first of my books to land on the New York Times list. Coincidence? I doubt it.

  11. Julia you are so kind! The real trick to all this is the great books you write! Let there be no doubt about it!

  12. MJ--thanks for being here in the doldrums of August..will you come back when your book comes out?

    And hey--we need to TALK!

    xoxox Hank