Friday, October 21, 2011

GET FAT! Yes, really.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So, all you published and not-yet-published authors out there, now that you've gotten your legal facts straight--thanks to Leslie Budewitz on Tuesday, and you have your book trailer made--thanks to Lisa Black on Wednesday, and you understand why a one-star review might be a good thing--thanks to Catriona McPherson yesterday--now what?

Marketing maven Jen Fusco has three little words:


(And for all you readers out there-this proves how incredibly important you are to the future of the books you love. This proves how one kind word--can change an author's life.)

Now. You'd think we at Jungle Red would never advocate getting fat. But Jen Fusco says yes! To succeed--we must all get fat! And, sadly, that has nothing to do with chocolate.

JEN FUSCO: Thanks so much to Hank for allowing me to return to the Blog. I really enjoy spending time with you guys.

The weekend is almost here. I'm glad, too. I could use a rest, but I won't get one. I'll be visiting some new friends in San Diego, CA. And I couldn't be more excited about it. Not only do I get a chance to meet new people and introduce them to some practical marketing techniques, but I also benefit. I have the opportunity to "get fat." No, it has nothing to do with extra dessert at lunch.

Its about widening Market or Die's sphere of in
fluence. Take a look at this. This graph comes from Bob Clark at, someone I like to read when I have time....

Let me explain this sphere of influence thing. You and me, we make up the smallest part of the Core Circle. By being an Market or Die trubie, you are going to know things about MOD first. I need you and your support and hopefully, you need Market or Die.

Now, let’s look at the inner circle. These are your writing groups you work with, your social media "friends" and the professional writing organizations you belong to or other writers you know professionally. Hopefully for some, your readers fall into this category. The outer circle describes the people who know you, but you fail to know them. These are the people who buy your work, form an opinion about it and tell others.

Scary, huh? But also valuable.

To succeed in this business you and I have to get fat. We need to keep widening our sphere of influence and growing our inner circle. Can it be uncomfortable meeting new people? You bet.

The upside? The more people you bring into the inner circle will help you spread a positive message about you and your work to the outer circle.

Those people will be come your brand advocates.

Brand advocates are your village and they have the power to emerge online as your primary influencers. Recently, I ran across a marketing blurb about brand advocates that said using brand advocates yielded a two-to-one positive influencing rate of a friend or family member to buy the product or brand they recommended. Brand advocates are incredibly valuable to an author because they are better connected to other readers and can have a larger sphere of influence.

But Fusco, you say, I’m a published author. I have influence.


But how much time do you have to pound the pavement and stalk the internet?

And, how sick are people going to get of you tooting your own horn?

Isn’t it better when someone else toots it for you? Doesn’t it make the claim that someone should buy your book more powerful if you’re not the one saying it?

Of course it does.

If you want to stay relevant in the competitive world of writing, your time is better spent putting butt to chair and words on paper. Trust me on this one, will you?

So tell me one thing, how you vow to do to widen your circle?

Lesson number two! Advertising! And the keys to making a successful ad. There's one golden rule in advertising. If your audience remembers the ad, but doesn't remember the product, you've failed.

There are millions of great ads out there, but only a few that I remember both the ad and the product the ad was selling.

The biggest one that comes to mind is the Snickers TV ad that featured Betty White playing football. The concept a group of guys razzing a teammate for playing poorly and his teammate says, "You're playing like Betty White out there," until the player eats a Snickers then becomes himself again. The tagline, "You're not you when you're hungry."


What we as writers can learn from this piece of advertising is this. MAKE IT MEMORABLE. I know we all don't have budgets to advertise on TV however, some print and online advertising can be affordable. Make your ads interesting enough to the reader so that it will get their attention. (A book cover with an ISBN number running across it IS NOT interesting) Jazz it up.

Don't be afraid to tell the reader why they're going to like your book. And, don't forget to direct them to where to buy it.

So, in thinking about advertising what's worked or hasn't worked for you?

HANK: And what do you think, Reds writers? What's worked for you--and hey, what hasn't? And readers--what makes you choose a book?

And we'll give your choice of Market or Die (for authors) or a book by a Jungle Red author (for readers) to one lucky commenter!


  1. Hi Jen, thanks for visiting us again. I adore those Betty White commercials too. But I can think of a few great ads where I have no idea what they were for--like the one with the cowboys herding cats in the superbowl a couple of years ago.

    Actually I'm quite lukewarm about spending money for ads on a limited budget. Do you have suggestions about where to do this? What about facebook??

  2. What makes me buy a book?
    1. A book that is written by a favorite author. The ones in my "always buy" list.
    2. A book suggested by a favorite author, their own or by someone else. Author web sites, Twitter, Blogs.
    3. Suggestions from online forums, blogs, Twitter...etc
    4. Books that are suggested by a bookstore, book site, Goodreads, and such that have lists like, "If you like this author, you will like this series, author, or whatever."
    5. Recommendations by friends and family.
    6. I'm sure there are other ways, for example, I walk in the library and something catches my attention on the "new releases" shelf or something.

  3. Welcome Jen,
    I love the concept of widening circles. It was actually something I considered when I was acquiring titles in the video business. Yes, it's easier said than done and there are more ways to do it than can be covered in one blog post but advertising - whether it's paid, bartered or the "advertising" of getting your name out there in other ways is always intriguing. In the late 80s rock bands in NY (pre-internet) started using guerrilla advertising on sidewalks and telephone polls. Hey it worked.

  4. Lucy: I do recommend facebook ads. They are highly targeted and measurable. For market or die's fanpage, I advertised on facebook and drove my number of likes from 49 to over 400! Advertising is all about increasing awareness. Folks can't buy your stuff if they don't know who you are. Good Luck.

  5. One of my favourite commercials. And one of the greatest desserts ever!I want to get fat!

  6. Remember that ad for--a shampoo. Hmm. But more relevant here is: she told two friends and they told two friends and they told two friends--and remember how the images multiplied?

    That's what Facebook does--and I'm reluctantly admitting that there might be something to TWitter.
    But I still think--getting a book into a readers hands in the key.

    Gail--or anyone--do you look at blurbs?

  7. I think I'm going to eat a Snickers bar while reading Market or Die. Thus working on both types of "getting fat" at once.

  8. The cover may catch my eye, especially if it's next to an author I know and enjoy.

    After the cover (which makes me pick up the book) I read the back (paperback) or inside cover (hard cover) to get a sense of the story


    I read the first page...if the first page "grabs" me, I add it to my to-be-read stack and browse some more or head to the cashier to get started!

  9. Julia, brilliant, as usual! Snickers for everyone.

    And Jutta, I'm with you, cover, the back, then the first page.

    I admit, I DO look at blurbs.

  10. So,Rosemary, talk to us about widening circles! How'd you do it?

    Sometimes I'll meet some who knows me from TV, and they say: "Oh, I had no idea you wrote mysteries." I'm thinking: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? What did I do wrong??

  11. Thanks, Jen. Very interesting blog. Even as an "insider", I'm very influenced by blurbs. If one of my favorite authors blurbs a book, I'll at least take a good look at it. And by reader buzz on FB and Twitter.

    I don't know about FB adds as we have adblocker on our computers and I never see them. I do find that I'm influenced by print ads when I'm in London--there are book posters all up and down the escalators in the Tube. You can't miss them. Talk about placement! Our friend Deborah Harkness was all over the Tube this last month. But authors can't afford that kind of advertising themselves...

  12. I've bought books for just about every reason imaginable: friend recommendation, intriguing premise, author blurb, newspaper review, cover image (yes, I am that shallow), new book by a fave author, deep discount, a blog post I enjoyed or a workshop that taught me something useful. I still look at front back and first page of text, though. And those of you epubbed? A nice, 25-page+ sample that leads up to a hook does the trick for me. (Thanks, Jen. ::waving:: Enjoy San Jose.)

  13. Why I buy books:

    1. Name recognition
    2. Personal recommendation
    3. Awesome cover art
    4. Hearing about a book several times across the internet
    5. Goodreads ratings/reviews

    These are just a few.

    Jen - thanks for the tremendous information about MOD. I'm checking out Bob's website, too. :)

  14. M.E.--that's so fascinating. Because-name recognition. How does that happen?

  15. While I'd love ads posted all over the Tube in London, publishers won't do this until you are so big you really don't need ads. And the kind of ads we can afford--a single ad in a journal of some kind, really have no effect.

    I've never even looked at Facebook ads, so I'm not sure they can help. I know my books pop up in Barnes and Noble ads which is great and I certainly work at my Facebook, Twitter and blog presence. I believe that online presence is the way to go--and widening one's circle by way of branching out of the mystery sphere. I'm working on reaching romance and women's fiction readers.

    I hate to be a pessimist but unless your publisher is working to get the books out there, in the stores, there is little point in spending on advertising. If you do a morning radio interview, of which I've done a zillion, and enthused listeners rush to the bookstore only to find the two copies of your book have sold out, then you're wasting time and effort.

    I'm on my 28th mystery and I'm still trying to figure out what works.

  16. Obviously you're doing SOMETHING right, dear Rhys...

  17. Hi, Jen, Hi, Jungle Red Writers. Will catch up with your wonderful blog this week. Very interesting, and, Jen, I'd love to know one thing because you address it all. While we're getting fat -- and I'm so ahead of some of you ;) -- what do you do for those of us who are painfully shy doing it. Any advice on how just to get out there and get over ourselves? Great, interesting post.

  18. Hi Jen.
    I'll go buy a book
    -if I've heard the author speak (& vice versa), especially at a writers' conference,
    -if I've heard the author praised by a teacher-mentor-author-or bookseller I like,
    -if it's recommended by a friend whose literary taste I trust,
    -if it has a topic or setting that interests me,
    -and (less often) even if it has an intriguing title that persuades me!

    I'm an unpub'd author who needs to keep her butt in the chair -- I'm guessing it's too soon to dip my toes into the Spheres of Influence waters, yes? Or can I perhaps build good habits early on? For instance, my family hasn't a clue what manuscripts are "quickening" at this point. And I ignore Facebook for the most part. Or is all this maybe too distracting from my mission at this point?

    Thanks for telling us about your MOD books, Jen. I've made web bookmarks to find you at the right time.

    BTW, I love the Betty White Snickers ads.

  19. Hi Donnell,
    Waves at 30,000 feet. Delta turned on their wi fi service so I can blog in the air somewhere over Texas now in route to San Diego.

    About being comfortable, Donnell, maybe try first what medium you're most comfortable meeting people in. If its virtual, because you feel somewhat protected by your PC, then I'd try getting fat using facebook and twitter. If you prefer meeting face to face, writers conferences and meeting people thru other authors may be more your style.

    Getting out there is tough, especially if its not in your comfort zone. However, I believe that we, as authors, are going to have to change the way we do business going forward. More control of our career is being dumped, like it or not, in our hands.

    I say, get fat however you feel most comfortable first. The snickers is optional :)

  20. Hi Avi,

    Well, we agree that you spending your time writing is the very best use of your time, especially right now, prior to publication.

    My agent, Eric Ruben, signed me specifically because I new about marketing, how to sell product and build relationships with people and not just on my writing alone. Now, he admits he's an unconventional guy, and he does take notice if an unpubbed person is aware of her own marketing needs. Do you have to jump in right now? No. But, make sure agents know that you've got a good marketing head, too. It helps sell the whole package.


  21. As always, great advice. Thanks Jennifer. And thanks Jungle Red for sharing her.

  22. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to worry about "getting fat" right now...hopeful for the future! And I select books in many different ways.

    But one thing I have noticed about myself....I might look at an ad in, say, NYT Book Review and it catches my eye - I think about reading it. But then there's another ad and another and another...and I wonder why the award winning author (or NYT best selling author or...) would need to place soooo many ads! And the book is taken off my list.

    Also a turn off...James Patterson's TV ads.

    (just the opinion of a nobody Joe public reader)

  23. Wow, Jen, good tip. We know perception of oneself is powerful. So I'm seeing myself as having a good head for marketing and staying in my chair in writing mode. Thanks!

  24. Hello Ladies,

    These times are wild in promoting and actually I think a lot of the old tools still work if you pay attention to the details and push through a little help.

    Rhys perhaps doing the radio show is not a bad idea as long as they agree to tweet the book with a Kindle buy link and instead of telling them to rush to the store tell them to hurry to your site or the stations site where they have links to you and where your books can be purchased.

    This takes for granted that the stations know what they are doing. Maybe that is where things fall down. The universal ground work is not there.

    Interesting idea though.
    Thanks for the great article!
    Terry Kate

  25. Hi Jen (and the rest of the Jungle Red tribe). Thanks for using my Spheres of Influence chart. Promise that "fat" is the new "thin". Love your blog and freewheeling spirits!