Friday, February 24, 2012

Marketing Consultation Giveaway!

It might be just me, but the words "self-promotion" send down a shower of stressful thoughts and stomach-tightening anxiety. On the off chance some of you other lovely authors cringe at the thought of look-at-me marketing tactics, Project Mayhem wants to help! Marketing genius and MG author Shelli Johannes is here today to offer us some strategic methods that can help get our writing into the hands of readers. In a non-obnoxious way.

Not only that! Shelli has offered to give away a one-hour phone marketing consultation to one lucky reader. Read on to hear from Shelli and learn how to enter.

PM: Welcome Shelli! Thanks again for joining us. Let's get to it. What is the #1 self-marketing tool authors should consider.

Shelli: I hate to call it marketing...

PM: Thank you for that! So do we! :)

Shelli: ...But I think building a platform and social network is critical. Build relationships online and help others. What comes around goes around. That, to me, is the best tool an author can have. Other than that,
it depends on your target audience.

PM: What, in your opinion, is a time waster?

Shelli: Being online all day. You need to schedule your online time. Choose one hour in the morning to tweet, facebook, answer e-mails, blog questions, etc. Then, turn off your wireless and work. Maybe schedule three intervals a day and do it all at once. You can use tools like twaitter to schedule tweets if you want them out there. So look for tools that help you streamline online.

PM: This is so true. All the online possibilities and demands can really cut into writing time. And there's so many options! Twitter, Google-plus, Facebook, blogs - how's an author to choose?

Shelli: An author needs to do what they feel comfortable doing. Don't get on Facebook or Twitter if you are not going to use it to your advantage. Don't start a blog if you blog four times a year. It's not worth the energy. Pick one or two things, and do them really well. There are so many places - Wttpad, Tumblr, Pinterest - you could get lost. Pick one and go for it. Make sure you pick one where your target audience is. Don't hang out on Facebook all the time if you are trying to reach eight to twelve year olds.

PM: That's a great point. It seems like there's a lot of good advice out there about marketing, but it can be so overwhelming! And when it comes to a book launch, things just increase exponentially! You've launched two books recently, UNTRACEABLE for YA readers, and your tween novel ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. What do you recommend as far as swag and giveaways?

Shelli: If you do signings or massive giveaways - have swag. Everyone loves to get free stuff. But you can be creative. Does it have to be a bookmark? No. I have a friend who has a book in winter and an accident happens on ice. She gave out ice scraper key chains. Try to give out something different to get attention.

Also, when I say massive giveaway, I mean if you do a giveaway online, then don't just give out free bookmarks, because the stamp to ship costs more than the bookmark. Do one or two big packages - t-shirt, bookmark, and a book. Make the shipping worthwhile.

If you don't have tons of money, do one big giveaway at a singing to those who show up and use that as a marketing tool to get people in. Everyone loves pens and bookmarks and they are not expensive. If you do them, make sure it has book title, author, and a website or isbn - something so they know what it is later.

PM: I would love a bookish ice-scraper! What a brilliant idea! This has given us lots to think about for online marketing. What about bricks and mortar promotion?
Shelli: I recommend contacting indie store owners or librarians. Call them and say hi. Maybe send them a reminder by post or e-mail about your book. Think about what you can offer them. Do they have a book club? Do they like bookmarks for their readers?

Again, don't just send out a mass e-mail or a mass postcard mailing. It isn't personal. This is where relationships come back into play.

PM: That seems to be a theme running throughout all your responses. Taking the time to build personal relationships - whether online or in person - not only helps get your writing into the hands of readers, it's fun! The online community of writers and readers is wonderful, welcoming, and full of interesting people. Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us today, Shelli! We'll put them to good use!

Now, I'd love to hear from our readers in the comments. What thoughts do you have on book promotion? What drives you crazy? What do you think are especially helpful means to connect with middle-grade readers?

To enter the giveaway for a one-hour phone consultation with Shelli, follow Project Mayhem and leave a comment below! The contest will be open until midnight EST on 2/29 (happy leap year!), we'll choose a winner through, and the winner will be posted on 3/1.


S.R. Johannes is the author of UNTRACEABLE (a teen wilderness thriller) and ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes - someday - will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-fops, and her love of writing.

You can visit Shelli online on her blog, twitter, facebook, and goodreads.


  1. Wow! I'd love this. Thanks so much for the info. I've bookmarked this page.

  2. This is really a great idea! There is so much out there to do but it can be so time-consuming,, so I want to find what is important; what works; and then get back to writing!

  3. I have so much to learn about all this! Thanks for the good advice.

  4. What a cool prize! Go Shelli, with your bad marketing self! :)

  5. Great advice! I need to work more on actually scheduling online time. It's like trying to cage a bear.

  6. Self promotion is definitely something that makes me uncomfortable, but Shelli has some great ideas, as usual!

  7. Lots of great information here. Thank you, Shelli!

  8. Oh boy, I would love a marketing consultation from Shelli! My debut comes out in a month and I could use some advice :) Subscribed to your site, too!

  9. Shelli has done such a fantastic job of promoting her books Her tips are so helpful. I don't have anything to market right now so if I win, you could give the prize to Laura Ellen, a friend of mine who commented and has her debut this fall.

  10. I'm a reader, not a writer, but if I WERE a writer, this would be an awesome prize! Good luck, everyone!

  11. I admit it, I'm lost when it comes to marketing/promoting myself. These are wonderful insights, thank you for sharing!

  12. What a fun prize. I am working on promoting my upcomming release and can use all the advice I can get. : )

  13. Informative post. I learned a lot and enjoyed reading in it. Thanks for sharing.

    start a social network

  14. Great post, Shelli! For authors trying to connect with MG readers, where IS the best place to find them? Through librarians and booksellers? It seems like your aim for that age group is the gatekeepers, rather than the readers.

  15. great post and excellent contest! i'm a new follower. :)

  16. Thanks for the introduction to Shelli, Melissa. She has some great ideas. Blogging has definitely helped me: I've met so many cool people--but I do need to curb my online addiction!

    Good luck to all the non-Mayhem Team commenters. This is an awesome prize!!

  17. super post. thanks for doing this!

  18. Great advice - thanks so much!

  19. What wonderful advice! And I'd love to get a one-on-one w/Ms. Johannes. I'm following your blog! Thank you for the opportunity. :)

  20. What a great interview! The scheduling of online time is a great reminder. The internet's so vast, it's easy to get lost.

    Thanks for the contest opportunity. Glad to follow such a great blog --

  21. This is fantastic information! I would love to be entered to win the marketing consultation. Thanks so much for the article and for the opportunity. I think for the MG crowd, trying to do things at libraries--like public readings, or something like that--would be good for reaching out to those younger readers. But, then again, I have cousins who are in that age range, and all of them already have their own Facebook page. I'm amazed at how internet savvy they are for their age! I think things like interactive apps would also be great for marketing to this age range, since they are so into gadgets like ipods.

    Thanks again :-) Loved this!
    Ashley Maker

  22. Generous Giveaway!! Shelli is an expert. :-)

  23. This is so helpful! Thank you!

  24. This was a very helpful post. Also, it drew me to your blog for the first time. Thanks! laurisawhitereyes at yahoo dot com

  25. Interesting to see what else Shelli has to say. As a print author now straddling both worlds, any advice is golden. And, a two-fer, I cound a great new blog site!



  26. Great interview! I love the idea of doing some kind of promotional item that ties into the book. Now, to think what that might be...


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!