Monday, October 7, 2013

Why You Need a Publicist with Guest Blogger Audra Jennings, Litfuse Publicity Group

These days everyone is encouraged to “do it yourself.” Many home improvement projects have been started thanks to the DIY Network convincing viewers that most projects around the house are so simple you can complete them in a weekend. If you visit any online bookstore, you can find a … for Dummies book on any subject you want from dog photography and playing the harmonica to space exploration and writing fiction. Who hasn’t Googled some subject to figure out how to fix something yourself?

I would like to think that I’m a pretty handy person, and I hate the 1960’s countertops in my bathroom. On Pinterest a few months ago, I saw a pin about painting Formica. I just can’t bring myself to try it though. I’m more than a little worried that the result will deserve a prominent place on one of those Pinterest fail websites, and I already have a big mess in the bathroom where I boldly decided I was taking down the two layers of neon pink wallpaper that are apparently permanently stuck to the walls. Even though I had taken down wallpaper successfully before, one look at my bathroom will confirm that I am not a professional.

Even though you can research the how-to’s to almost anything that can be done, there are some things you really should leave up to an experienced, trained professional. There really are benefits in leaving some jobs to someone who knows what they are doing. One of those jobs is the publicity for your new book.

Let me begin by saying that a publicist cannot do their job without you being an active and willing participant in the process. However, there are many benefits to having a publicist on your book launch team.

•    Creating your press kit: As a published author, there is no question that you are a talented writer. However, there is a big difference between writing a novel and writing a press release. A novel is all about the story, but a press release is all about the topic. The two require very different styles of writing.

It also helps to have someone else write about you rather than you writing about yourself. For example, I write and rework author bios for a living. However, I cannot writing a solid, interesting bio about myself to save my life. I would be much better off letting someone else write about me—sharing what they find unique, fascinating  and worthy of mentioning.

•    Developing your hook: In the process of developing your plot, characters, etc. you created a hook: what got the attention of your editor and what makes readers want to buy your book.

A hook to get readers to read your book is different than a hook to get media to cover your book. How so? Unless you are reaching out to a strictly book review outlet, you aren’t actually trying to get media to read your book. You are trying to get them to talk about your book.

Media doesn’t want to talk about a great love story or an intriguing murder mystery, but they do want to talk about themes or issues. What in your story can be tied to a current event or news story? If not something newsworthy per se, what message do you hope readers walk away with? Is it forgiveness? Men and women in relationships need to communicate more? Your past doesn’t have to dictate your future? What can you talk about that other people can benefit from in the long run?

•    Media coaching: A publicist can coach you on how to best talk about your book. There are certain things radio or TV guests do that get their interviews cut short as soon as the interview starts. Your publicist can work with you on what to say and how to say it. They can also help you out on what you need to know to make travel arrangements to certain programs and what to wear on a TV interview.

•    Contacting the media: The most important aspect of having a publicist is their relationships with media. Every publicist in the industry has spent years building their media lists and developing connections with radio hosts, TV producers, magazines writers and online editors. A publicist knows what the various programs are looking for in a guest, what topics are taboo on certain stations, and what specifications certain websites look for in guest posts.

Not only do you have to know who to contact at each outlet, that producer/host/editor has to trust that the person they are talking to will provide them with quality content and that they have worked with before. They actually prefer not to talk to individual authors.

When it comes to bloggers, we screen blogs for content and traffic, selecting only the best sites for our program. Who will do your book justice in their book review? Who goes the extra mile to promote a book on their social media? Which blogs get read? Anyone can start a blog to get free books, but who is honestly blogging for all the right reasons? Your publicity team has already done all of this for you and won’t send out books to “reviewers” who will never actually post on your book.

•    Letting you do what you do best: Publicity work is a time consuming job and it certainly isn’t easy. Truthfully, with the time you need to devote to your next writing project, you don’t have the time to give your book the publicity it deserves. Leave your PR work to the professionals. And I promise to leave the novel writing to you!

In addition to what is considered traditional publicity, at Litfuse we also do more specialized social media and marketing campaigns as well. In fact, right now, we are working on something very special with Seekerville’s own Mary Connealy to launch her new release, Fired Up.

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been a coordinating a Kindle Fire giveaway running in conjunction with the blog tour for Fired Up. Tomorrow night, October 8, we’ll be doing all the background work on Mary’s webcast. Throughout the entire blog tour, we’ve been working with Mary and bloggers to promote the giveaway and webcast through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. We hope you’ll join Mary tomorrow night on Facebook! Click here for more details!

Have you ever had a DIY experience go wrong? Have you ever done something yourself you wish you had left to the professionals?

Audra Jennings oversees the publicity department of Litfuse Publicity Group. With more than 11 years in the Christian publishing industry, she has built relationships with media, publishers and authors. Since joining the Litfuse team, she has developed a great appreciation for their unique approach to publicity through the use of social media in order to reach a larger audience.

Noisemakers for those who write and publish books, Litfuse Publicity Group is a full-service publicity firm specializing in media relations, publicity tours, creative book promotion, author services, and social media campaigns. Stop by the nest and see what's stirring. | @litfuse |

Today Seekerville is giving away a print copy of Mary Connealy's Fired Up! to one commenter.

For more birthday details check here.


  1. Here's the coffee pot, an extra big one! Bring your own mugs.

    As a newly contracted author anticipating her first release, this is of particular interest.

    Thanks for the post.


  2. I figured out how to lay carpet with youtube videos! A little square room with only one thing to cut around went easy. Then I tried a big room that needed a large seam with cheap carpet...learned I do not want to handle looped carpet again! Couldn't make the seam invisible, but it was passable. But I'd no way attempt anything complicated, stairwells or lots of angles etc. by myself.

    And yeah, I think I need someone else to write my bio for me. I mean, I'm tempted to write nothing more than: "Melissa Jagears is about as boring as you can get. She stays home, writes, homeschools, and avoids housework." Probably should get someone else to write that for me... :)

  3. Very informative. I went to your site and you a few things going on. I've considered help with marketing. I'm sure it would help sales. I just haven't had the monetary means. Do you see a distinct boost in sales for the authors you work with?


  4. Welcome, Audra!!

    I do like Tina Pinson wonder how marketing value is vetted?

    What swag is best? What type of PR for a release is best? Best as in what provides the best ROI?

  5. Melissa Jagears Bio: Melissa is a mild mannered, smarty pants who writes great books.

  6. I'm right there with the Tinas. Being on a tight budget is it something worth the cost?

    Melissa, you're far from boring. Very quiet, but far from boring.

  7. thanks for the info. It a subject I am interested in. Didn't realise how much was required.

    does not finishing painting the doors etc count. I did make the front gate and it looked good if I do say myself or it did til and idiot on drugs or something took his foot to it and cracked some of the pickets in it.

    dont enter me I have this book on kindle.

  8. Interesting post. I would be too afraid of attempting a DIY job around the house. For one thing there doesn't seem to be enough time to put towards that type of project. If I were published I can see the benefits of someone handling the publicity end of things. Thank you for the post.

    I would love to win a copy of Mary's book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  9. Hi Seekers. I've been trying to stop by this month to tell you happy birthday, and it's only taken me 7 days. So...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    Mary, Congrats on the new release. And, I would love to read it. May your sales be plenty...

    Audra, thanks for the valuable information. You've certainly given advice that I'm hoping to need in the future.

  10. a wonderful posting!
    thanks for sharing ;)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  11. I think most DIY projects have to do with funds (lack of) so...

    how does an author go about determining the cost as well as effectiveness? (I guess those are similar questions to Tina's string of acronyms)
    LitFuse seems to be growing so that's a good sign! Thanks Audra J!

  12. While I love DIY projects, I’ve finally learned which ones to leave to the professionals. Publicists earn their money. Being one would grind me down.

    Thanks for all the info.

  13. Great information.

    DIY? No hanging wallpaper after our first year with ManO is the reason we are still married three decades later.

    I am so distracted. I keep thinking when are we going to hit ONE MILLION PAGE VIEWS!!!!!? Pardon the exclamation points.

    Happy Million Monday to all, Julie

  14. I love the Million Mark!!!!!

    Oh my stars, this is great information because I've messed up many a DIY project in my life and I can shrug them off as learning experiences, but that's not necessarily how I want to shoot my writing career in the foot!

    Thank you for this wonderful info and I love the stuff you've done with authors. Fun, quick-paced and focused. That makes a world of difference!

    Jagears I like that bio, actually. You sound so delightfully normal!!!!

  15. Deb Marvin, great question!!! As always, dollars talk!

  16. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing. I'm learning more about writing and the different aspects every day.
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  17. There's always something new to learn. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Hi AUDRA great post and thanks for sharing. Welcome to Seekerville.

    I love having a publicist. Hubby and I learned early on to avoid DIY projects even if they were cheaper. It helped our marriage stay intact all these years. LOL

    Although we were forced into one this summer when we hired an RV repairman to install our new TV in the motorhome. He took old one out and left wires hanging everywhere and then disappeared. Hubby and I took 10 hours to figure out how to put the new one in. That's 20 hours total so we didn't save a dime as we lost all that play time. Oh and btw we are still married. LOL

  19. Thanks Audra. A publicist, huh? Who would have thought? Good look with that bathroom project!

  20. This was very interesting, Audra. I have friends who use Litfuse, but I wasn't clear on all that you folks do. You've definitely made a case for having a book publicist on my launch team, if/when I publish. :)

    Honestly, I am not a big DIY'er because I end up ruining more projects than completing successfully. :) I did a wee bit of landscaping though in putting in large flat rocks where pebbles and small stones had been in our front walk area. That was fun. :)

  21. I'm not quite ready for a publicist yet, but this is very interesting!

    Thank you for a great post!

  22. Great topic! I think biographies are extremely difficult for me :) it yourself fail...I usually do pretty well because I realize my limitations ahead of time. There's nothing more frustrating than spending time and money on something that is a total FAIL.

  23. Hello Audra, you have a very informitive post today for the writers in the group, I am a reader only but love to read the post.
    I too am happy for Seekerville's Birthday month, party on guys and looks like a Gala one.
    I have Mary's book on the way, always like to read her stories, she has such colorful characters. Time for a break and a big ole cup of that coffee.
    Paula O

  24. Great to see you here Audra. I love being on your team! Don't put my name in for this book...I just posted a review on it! Thanks.

  25. Hi, as the recipient of LitFuse's talent I can tell you the work they do is almost overwhelming to me. They are always emailing me with new blog opportunities, like blogs they've found a way for me to be on. Or they arrange blog tours, which require no work on my part. They set up the Facebook launch party.
    We're going to be doing this WEBCAST! More on that in a second comment

  26. Like others, I'm wondering what the cost would be, if it's worthwhile for someone a low budget.

  27. I've been trying to stay ahead of all LitFuse is doing. Trying to ... oh .... what I'm saying is ... I'm trying to ... JUSTIFY? Maybe that's what I mean. Justify Bethany House's investment in me? How does that sound?
    So this Webcast.
    Near as I can figure out, A webcast means I'm going to have to sit in front of my computer and have my face on camera and it's gonna go out online LIVE.

    Double chins and all.

    It's tomorrow night and I'm probably already to late to start getting ready for it.

    I've been trying to go to the place where I'm supposed to go and play around with the online tools and LOOK IN THE COMPUTER'S CAMERA AND NOT AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN.

    Oh, it's gonna be ... again I am fishing for a word ... hmmmm how about INTERESTING. It's gonna be interesting.

    I think I need my hair done.
    by a professional.

    And I keep trying to find the right place to set up my computer so I have to tilt my head up just a little (double chin again). And so the background isn't something potentially embarrassing like an open bathroom door and a dusty bookshelf.

    New comment.

  28. So anyway, my nerves notwithstanding, the Litfuse team is always coming up with something interesting. Things that seem innovative to me.
    Which is what you want, right? someone out there doing the THINKING so I don't have to, because let's face it, thinking is exhausting and I've proven time and again I can't be trusted to be in charge of thinking.

  29. Dollars do matter a great deal to a poor teacher like myself, but I'm a firm believer in hiring people to do what they know how to do. I appreciate your appearance in Seekerville, Audra!

    If the time should come when I would need a publicist, your appearance here on Seekerville speaks volumes regarding your credibility.


  30. I have no idea about the cost. My publisher is in charge of that. But LitFuse does work for individuals too.

  31. Welcome to Seekerville, Audra! Must feel good to help authors promote their books and give them more time to write the next one. I can definitely see the advantage of having a publicist for single title novels. Do you see sales increase with series books like Love Inspired that are on the shelves for one month?

    My dh and I have run the gamet of messing up DIY projects! We have learned to hire expertise.


  32. And writing your own bio ... well, I usually have about four updated at all times.
    A short straight writing bio.
    A longer bio that includes live links to websites, etc.
    A more personal bio, I rarely use personal stuff in a bio, it's just not how I see a bio. If there is anything personal in it, it's minimal.
    'Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters and two spectacular grandchildren.'

    That's about the size of the personal in my bio.

    And then I usually try to have a funny version.

    All of these done....saved....updated at all times, ready to paste into an interview I'm doing or into an email I'm sending out. Bios are fundamental folks.
    Write a bio.

  33. Melissa, your bio would fit nearly every author! How can we be really fascinating when we spend our 'free' time writing?

    Welcome, Audra! Great information. You've convinced me.

  34. Welcome, Audra! I am not ashamed to admit I am TOTALLY CLUELESS when it comes to publicity and promotion.

    Well, maybe not totally. It's just not how I care to spend my time. I could quote most of Melissa's bio: "Myra Johnson is about as boring as you can get. She stays home, writes, avoids housework, and tries to keep the new doggy from chewing on the throw rug."

    Fortunately the marketing person at my publishing house is really on top of things. I do what she tells me.

  35. Mary, I will be at that webcast cheering you on!!! And remember to put your computer on something higher than a table to change the angle of the shot so you're looking into the camera at eye level (Pretend there's a TOTALLY HOT PHOTOGRAPHER HOLDING A BIG OL' CAMERA AIMED AT YOU AND YOU WERE TOLD TO WORK THE CAMERA WITH YOUR GAZE... ) and of course you obey!


    Okay, so put the computer up on something you the camera is across from your face... not below it. And that will reduce your chinnage... always a problem and never fun for any of us! And it will give folks the feeling you're looking at them, not down at them.


  36. What an early bunch of risers! I feel behind on the day already! I hope I address a lot of your questions as I stop by throughout the day. If I miss something, or you have a question you want to email me about, feel free to email me at

    Tina Pinson asked about sales... publishers very rarely share sales figures with a publicity agency, so it's really hard to give cold, hard numbers to you re: sales. However, we have a lot of repeat business from publishers and authors alike, so publicity does work!

    Tina Radcliffe asked about swag - in our big social media giveaways, Kindle Fires and iPod minis are very popular, but we like to mix it up with gift cards, etc. that somehow link to the theme of an author's book. The truth is, people love any kind of giveaway, whether it is a copy of a book, a Starbucks card or a big grand prize.

  37. Good morning all!

    Mary, you are a courageous woman! Webcasts! Whoa! I have no idea how these work. I'm intimidated by Facebook launch thingys where all these comments going flying back and forth.

    Anyways... my computer does NOT have a camera! Just saying...


  38. Tight budgets and cost vs. effectiveness are always big issues.

    Something - whatever it may be - is better than nothing. And we can customize services to fit in your budget and advise you on what is the most important.

  39. WELCOME, AUDRA!! I had the privilege of working with Litfuse on the launch of my 2nd series, and I will attest to Mary's comment that, "the work they do is almost overwhelming to me."

    Talk about behind-the-scenes genius!! I am hoping to work with you and Amy in the future, so thanks for all the great info today!

    Oh, and I'm more of a BYI kind of gal rather than DYI -- botch it yourself! ;)


  40. Okay, I give!! At the risk of appearing as stupid as I think I do ... what the heck does SWAG stand for, letter by letter???

    Sign me "Horn-SWAGgled in St. Loo"

  41. I've never tried anything really big by myself. I pat myself on the back every year when I renew my anti-virus software and install it.

    I can tell people one thing to definitely not try as a DIY -- divorce. I work for a family law firm and I've seen the messes people bring to us after they've tried to do a divorce on their own using the internet as a guideline. Some things are worth spending money on, and your future is one of them.

    No divorce is the best option but when your back is against the wall and you've run out of other options, make sure it's done right so you don't suffer financially in the long run.

    And I too am interested in what promo items have the best ROI.

  42. Ruthy do NOT act like you know what you're talking about.
    making me worry about the level of the camera and hot camera men ... oh excuse me IMAGINARY hot camera men? As if i'm not having enough trouble remembering my name?

    I've got to start curling my hair.

  43. Audra gave me a list of questions they're going to ask. I need to go re-read them and figure out what I'm going to say.

    Yes, I've read them already. But I need to do it again. I don't think I'm going to be doing a lot of quick witted, light on my feet, wonderful humor.

    And what if My Cowboy starts wandering around demanding supper, huh?

    And we're weaning calves today.

    AUDRA, there may be constant MOO-ing in the back of the webcast.

    That's gonna make for an interesting line of conversation.

  44. Swag is actually "stuff we all get." That can be bookmarks, recipe cards, signed bookplates, etc.

    I didn't actually answer that question about swag very well earlier as I was thinking about the prizes we usually do connected with our social media giveaways. :)

  45. Mooing in the background just adds character to the webcast. Everyone wants to see a cowboy make an appearance. Who doesn't love cowboys?

  46. Great post. Call in the professionals when ever you can, and learn from them every moment. At the 2014 RWA conference, I looked at the types of SWAG that was gobbled up and what remained in the goodie room. I changed my bookmark strategy at the Moonlight and Magnolia's RWA conference to include hand sanitizer-a metaphor for clean romance- with labels for my brand and website. Not a bottle was left.

    Happy Birthday Seekerville.

  47. Welcome, Audra! Thanks so much for this helpful info. I especially appreciated the section about developing the hook. I never thought about looking more at issues rather than the story. I'll keep this in mind!

    Looking forward to all Mary's fun events!

  48. Thanks for making the coffee, Helen. I'm adding a BIG drop of Cinnabon creamer this morning. :)

    Audra J, who should hire a publicist? I'd guess for a big publisher, an author should hire someone soon after they sign the book contract. But what if they only have a novella in an anthology? Or a few novellas in different anthologies?

    Also, how is the cost decided?:
    - By project size - ie trade-length book vs novella?
    - By how many hours each author needs?
    - By ???

    For the DIYer's, I think it boils down to... Do what you're good at, and hire out the projects you're not.

  49. I envisioned SWAG being "Sealed with a Gift" as in giveaways!!! You can tell I'm in birthday month mode!

    Audra, I'm laughing about the MOOING serenade in Mary's backyard tomorrow night, but I can see that as an advantage to realism! How much realism is too much for authors to embrace? And how much of our budget should we allot to hiring a professional team? Because I totally understand the importance of that!

  50. I'm thinking of taking my camera out, which takes video, with sound, and taping the mooing. Add it to the Webcast.
    It's not that big a deal now. Because it's daytime. Not that noticable. Not to mention it's only a couple of hours old. The desperation hasn't peaked yet.

    But come nighttime oh it is pathetic!!!!
    A lot like when you take a child to college. Pretty much crying night and day for three days, then you move on.................
    Except that's just the mother, I think the child is fine, the brats.

  51. Great post! Audra, thank you for sharing and explaining the benefits of a publicist. I can't imagine trying to keep up with everything that must be done to promote an author and manage media opportunities! Glad we have publicists like you to fall back on! Enjoyed reading this very much.

  52. Haha! Mary, we have cows, too. "Night and day" mooing. I know those joys FAR too often.

  53. Except we have donkeys, too, to keep coyotes away. And next to the cows' mooing, the donkey's sound like off-key singing, so I go outside to tell somebody to shut up and it's the donkey looking at me. Makes me wonder who's the real, *ahem* "donkey," me or the jack. lol

  54. Anita - It really depends on what the publisher plans to do in house vs. outsource. We work with a lot of publishers who want to supplement what they are able to/not able to handle on their own. We also work with a lot of authors individually who want to boost what their publisher is doing.

    The most important thing to do is talk with your publisher's marketing team to discuss what is being done. As soon as the book contract is signed is probably a bit early to get your publicist involved. Plan on 4-6 months ahead of release.

    The cost is based on elements of the campaign - what you need for your particular release.

    And Ruth - I absolutely think SWAG can go both ways!

    Readers want to know that authors are normal people too, so it's good to share some personal elements with your readers. Maybe not in your bio, but via Facebook or your blog.

    A guideline would be... What do you find interesting in learning about other people? What would you not want a virtual stranger to tell you?

    For example, I'd be interested to know that you cleaned out your dad's old garage this weekend and found some really cool old items like his first hammer you remember him building your first sandbox with. I don't need to know what formerly living creatures you found in graphic detail.

    Or if you took your mom to her doctor and did your good daughterly duty today, that's great, but you don't need to share all the details about why you took her to the doctor.

    Some people share way too much about a lot of things. You'd be surprised at what details I get in email form regularly.

    As an author, you know what makes a great story - share the great story, but you aren't writing a whole book about yourself, so cut most of the details. :)

  55. Thank you for the post today, Audra. :) Good info.

    I know of an independently published author who is also entrepreneurial, with several other quite successful completely unrelated endeavors. She had several books already out and so invested in a publicist for what she considered would be her breakout novel.

    She spent well into 5 figures and did not see any significant bump in sales.

    That rather chills me...

    I did hire our own Amber to help me with some publicity this summer. I was pretty happy with the results overall, got some nice reviews and raised awareness, but sales have dropped again.

    Many in the know say the best way to raise awareness is to write more great books! :D May and I are working on it with book 3 coming out in a few weeks.

    This is such an ongoing process. The learning curve is steep and can get pricey! (Plus we write MG, so totally different thing than YA or adults in many ways...)

    Still - as Anita Mae said For the DIYer's, I think it boils down to... Do what you're good at, and hire out the projects you're not.

    Thanks to Seekerville for helping us on the journey!!!

    PS - Mary, you'll do FINE! Let us know how it goes with a follow up too!

  56. Who knew SWAG actually stood for something? Not me. I just figured it was a nickname for that stuff. Things you learn at Seekerville!

    Vanessa, I did that Goody Room check at RWA. Glad to hear it worked for you ar M & M.

    Audra, thanks so much for stopping by. Litfuse sounds like a godsend for someone like me who lives in terror of having to promote a book.

  57. KC normally for these types of online things I wrap my head in duct tape so it won't explode but Audra says that won't look good on camera. So we'll have to hope for the best.

    If my head does explode My Cowboy has promised to take pictures. But he's not that tech savvy. Doubt he can figure out how to load them on Facebook.

  58. @KC - it's possible that the publicist was not a good fit for the genre.

    The truth is that sales will ALWAYS drop after the initial launch phase and a publicity campaign is always for a limited time.

    That's one reason coupling a social media campaign is important to go along with publicity. By doing so, you can grow your following and readership to keep readers invested in you until your next book comes out. They'll help you spread the word when the next book releases.

  59. Well, Audra, repeat business has to be an indicator something is working, even if they don't tell.

    I imagine PR is a collaborative effort with the publisher.

    Do you have many authors who hire you directly?

    If so do they hire you for a year, for the duration of a release? How does that work?

  60. Okay, I just read that you DO have authors hire you directly so scratch that question.

    Another one...our nosy minds want to know.

    What is a typical day like for you, Audra?

  61. Understood Audra. :D

    The author said the publicist worked hard and did what she said she was going to do. Multi-city tour, the whole thing. I just reeled from sticker shock...

    (I write MG. The author in question writes for adults. Not sure exactly her genre... Romance with some adventure/mystery in there.)

    Agreed on social media - all we do is FB but we have a loyal pack! ;)

    Mary - you're such a hoot. You'll do GREAT!

    Wonderful questions, Tina. You're asking what we all are I think. Thanks again, Audra, for being here to answer.

  62. Well I do have lots of questions and Audra did come here to visit with minimal arm twisting.


    Rafflecopter is the rage now. Hesitant to use it. I hate making people jump through hoops and isn't that a violation of those rules you read that people should be be able to enter a contest by just entering?

    But I digress. Aside from Rafflecopter, what is the best way to get your newsletter subscribers list pumped up?

  63. "Anyone can start a blog to get free books, but who is honestly blogging for all the right reasons?"

    What are the RIGHT reasons?

  64. My day is a large part air traffic controller. ;)

    Rafflecopter is a good way for people to legitimately opt into the various things you ask of them to enter a contest - they don't have to do anything they don't want to in order to be eligible for a prize.

    It's actually a good way to get people on your newsletter list because it is an opt in, and you need a way to get them to opt in.

  65. ATTENTION SEEKERS, Mary, Ruthy, Janet, Debby, Julie, Sandra, Missy, Audra, Glynna, Cara, Myra, Pam!

    Swag is actually "stuff we all get."

    THIS IS AMAZING INFORMATION. We were just talking about this yesterday as we approach our Million marker here in Seekerville. We are going to give away swag bags.

    I couldn't define the word, and you just did, Audra!!!!

  66. So because Rafflecopter has options it bypasses those 'clauses.'

    Okay, good.

    Now, out of curiosity. Does the internet bypass rules in certain states that make contests a form of gambling? I always assumed and I sure hope I am right, that having a GIVEAWAY instead of a contest, smoothed those waters.

  67. So I just had this visual of you sitting at a desk with a large window in front of you and control panels, directing air traffic.

  68. Audra, I love your advice on the Facebook postings! I think those little vignettes link us to people effectively. Unless we're jerks in which case it might be better to just hush.... sh... step away from the computer and veg quietly....

    And I'm with Tina, repeat business (which you guys have in droves) is what draws me to a business when I'm spending money. Not reviews (I know some will disagree, but these aren't books we're talking, we're chattin' services rendered) and anyone can leave a good or bad review for various reasons.

    But folks won't plunk down their quarter on the counter a second tim around unless you've got something worth paying for. And that says a lot to me as a professional.

  69. Stuff We All Get

    Sealed With a Gift

    Some Women Adore Ghirardelli



    Got it.

  70. NATALIE You have a life where you talk to Donkeys. You have to be doing something right!!!!

  71. Welcome Audra!

    Lots of good info today. Thanks!

    In your opinion, what would be the best three PR options for category writers?

    What's the strangest marketing tool you've used that worked...perhaps to your amazement? Anything come to mind?

  72. Seems on Seekerville we bounce the newsletter ball around quite often. Pros and cons? Your thoughts?

  73. Vanessa, I missed your SWAG in the Goody Room! Boo-Hoo!!!

    I took regular size notebooks that usually go quickly. This year I brought ten home, which surprised me. They were in the back of the room. Maybe it was a placement problem. Location must be important with SWAG as well as with real estate. :)

  74. Waving to Dianna Shuford! So good seeing you back in Seekerville!

  75. Hand sanitizer. See we did that and loved it too, Vanessa.

    Great minds.

  76. Publicists are wonderful. They take a lot of the pressure of marketing off my shoulders! They're worth it if they take away some of the nagging guilt that I'm not doing enough! :-)
    As for DIY projects, a few people have told me that coloring my hair myself is easy and I should try it. Knowing me and klutziness, I'd turn it green, so I'll leave that little task up to the professionals. Green hair would not make me happy. ;-)

  77. Publicity stuff scares the you-know-what outta me. Reading your post has eased some of the fear though. Thanks for coming and giving us good info.

    As for DIY... I've learned it's better to ante up and pay the professionals when in doubt about personal skills. DIY fails mean you still have to get someone to fix your fail and you end up paying more.

    My hubby struggled this weekend with something he wanted desperately to do himself and things sort of fell apart. He may try again (God love him!), so I'm gonna put on my cheering togs and be supportive in the hopes that success will arrive. (I think it can - just depends on dear hubby's patience - which was paper thin yesterday)

    You'll be brilliant. I know it. It's a gut feeling (and unfortunately, I've a big gut *sigh*). I always trust my gut.

  78. Always so much to learn and contemplate after visiting Seekerville!

    Good luck tomorrow Mary!

  79. TINA, right reasons? I review books on my Web site,, on my Facebook page and in the Christianity section of I don't get paid for any of them, and I get most of the books from my local library, so the "free book" label isn't mine. I do it because I love books, and when I read something that touches, inspires, entertains or terrifies me, I want to share it. The side benefit is to boost my online profile, which (to be honest) hasn't happened yet. I think pretending to be a reviewer to obtain books is unconscionable. As is pretending to be anything to receive free anything. What a world we live in...
    Kathy bailey

  80. Who can afford a publicist? Especially a new writer? I can't even afford contests right now.

  81. For most fiction writers, I'd recommend blog tours, social media campaigns and online publicity to book review sites.

    I can't think of any really strange marketing tools off the top of my head right now.

    Re: newsletters... it really depends on the author for a number of reasons. What they do regularly, what their following is, how frequent they are able to put out a newsletter, etc.

  82. Wow -- great information! Just when I think I know everything there is to know about jobs related to book publishing I find out I missed one! Sounds like an awesome and fun job. And greatly needed. I love finding out about the behind the scenes publishing stuff.

  83. Thanks, Audra!

    Just thought I'd throw out the strange marketing tool question. Ya never know, right? LOL

    I once walked in our local July 4th Parade and handed out bookmarks along the way that included info about an upcoming signing...

    I arrived at the end of the parade route, but I was worn out! Since then, I watch from the sidelines! :)

  84. Sorry, didn't mean to sound petulant. We do need all the help we can get in today's market and pub climate.

  85. Wow, good for you, Kathy Bailey!!

    You need some free books, dear. Just to make up for the gas to go the library, and time and trouble.

  86. I'm so excited for Mary's webcast! Great article- it's so interesting learning about everything that goes on to promote a book.

  87. TINA, I will let Seekers know if I review any of their stuff on said outlets. I do get free books from your contests and I do like them.
    I don't review different books for each site.
    Right now on I have one on Angela Hunt's "The Offering," one on Elizabeth Camden's "Against the Tide" and one on Melody Carlson's "Shining River" series. It is fun to pick these books apart, and helps me grow as a writer.
    EVERYONE ELSE: I didn't mean to whine. Really. And I'm sure a publicist will work with you to customize a package. i'm just at a low ebb, away all weekend and sleep patterns disrupted, but worth it.

  88. Hi Audra:

    I did a lot of PR years ago. I was an employee but I did do freelance PR on the side. For some clients I got paid by the column inch publicity I got them in the newspapers.

    Do you do that or know of PR firms doing PR on a pay for results basis?

    I could do my own PR but I’d have to learn too much about social media and I don’t have the contacts with websites to arrange anything like a tour. So even if you are a pro yourself it can still make sense to hire another pro to do given jobs.

    Here’s a point where my experience, even lately, seems at odds with many authors.

    What do you think of the publicity potential of holding book signings?

    What is your view of holding book signings?

    You have a very interesting post today.



  89. Hi Julie:

    I’ve used the term ‘SWAG’ in real estate and general business for decades. This is the meaning I’ve known:

    S = scientific

    W = wild

    A = a**

    G = guess

    “It’s just a SWAG figure but I’d say the house has 1600 square feet.”

    I wonder if your husband knows this term. It is more likely to be used by men.


  90. BTW if you go to the Litfuse site they have something cool called WHAT'S THE BIG PICTURE.

    Check it out.


    In truth, I subscribe to their blog for two reasons. What's the Big Picture and Tech Tips. I have found Tech Tips to be immensely helpful. Everything else on the site is icing.

  91. Mary, not to worry...since you'll be live on the webcam, if your head does explode, we'll all see it LIVE and in person.

    Now isn't that nice??? :)

    Audra, welcome to Seekerville. Loving this peek into what goes on at Litfuse.

    I had a really fun chat with Audra and Amy at ACFW. Everything was going along swimmingly until I got strangled on a sip of water, and had a coughing fit.

    We've all had that happen, and it's not like we're dying or anything, but those around us begin to wonder after awhile.

    Audra and Amy soldiered on and eventually I recovered and we were able to finish up our chat.

    We're all best buds now, bonded by my near-death experience! lol

  92. Ah, Audra! How I love your name! LOL! Actually, you're a pretty interesting person with a fascinating line of work even if you weren't named Audra : )

    Oh how I hate to talk about myself. I'm not that great at featuring the prominent aspects of my work either.

    I'm a mess. But, isn't admission of failure the first step toward success?

    Great insight into all the pitfalls an uninformed author can avoid with a bit of professional coaching. You offer a wonderful service. Thank you!!

  93. LOL, Pam. MEMORABLE is the word. Memorable.

  94. Vince - With newspapers doing fewer and fewer printed pages, going online for content, etc., publicity has shifted away from papers into other areas.

    There may be some places that work on a pay for results basis, but most do not because an agency can neither guarantee placement or control results. Much work can be put into trying to secure outlet X, Y or Z, but it not come to fruition.

    For example, I once worked with an author that offered a $10,000 bonus if I were able to get him on Oprah or another outlet. I don't remember for sure what the outlet was, but it may have been Larry King Live. I would have loved to get that bonus, and I pitched and called those outlets and did all that I could, but getting on Oprah is a feat all its own. Lots of work goes into it, but nothing may come to fruition.

    That's an extreme example, but that's a big part of the reason most PR agencies don't do a pay on results structure.

    As far as book signings, I honestly and completely don't think they are worth it. Very little media will cover a book signing (it becomes and advertising policy for radio stations). With everything going on these days, very few people show up. A lot of it depends on the store itself and their success in book events as well as how well they promote events to their customers. It takes a bookstore who is routinely successful at book events in order for you to be successful.

    In the end, in most cases, everyone ends up very disappointed after a book signing except for the handful of people who got their book signed. And that really may be 3-5 people.

    Overall, publishers have seen this happen time and time again, so if they aren't really supportive when you bring it up, they are trying to save you the disappointment in the long run.

  95. Audra Harders - what do these words mean to you "The Big Valley."

    Most all Audras are bonded with those three words! ;)

  96. Audra - very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  97. And good to "see" you again, even if it is online Pam Hillman!

  98. Oh my stars -- publicity. I did that in a former life, and the very moment I would be able to afford one as a writer I would have one especially for launches and special promotions. On the whole, the contacts I've made as a writer are not the contacts I need for publicity that reaches readers.

    DIY projects. Oh there have been so many, and they have led to some hysterical stories to share with others.

    Oh, don't enter me in the drawing for Mary's book. Got it.

    Nancy C

  99. Hi Audra,

    Thank you for what you said about book signings. I can't think of a more torturous way for a new author to get exposure. I'd rather have speaking engagements at women's clubs and church groups. You're doing them a favor while they give you exposure. And I don't know who would want my signature except those I owe money to.

  100. and here i though a swag was what a swagman carried.

  101. Thank you, Audra. Your job must be exciting!
    I am looking forward to Mary's Webchat tomorrow! I hope I can figure out how to watch it. Any instructions you'd like to share?

  102. I love writing bios! I mean, when I get to make my own.

    My favorite is for one of my pen names:

    Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated writer who spends the majority of her literary energy on subjects un-related to Jane Austen. A homeschooling mother of six young children who rarely wear shoes, she’s madly in love with a man who has never read Pride and Prejudice. She holds degrees in Religious Studies and Theoretical Linguistics, and has a Jane Austen quote on the back of her van. She can be reached on facebook at her regular author page of Virginia Carmichael (which is another pen name, because she’s just that cool).

    Of course the van is gone now and I have a different Austen bumper sticker, but it's close enough I won't change it. All the rest is still true!

  103. Welcome Audra! Your work with Litfuse sounds like fun! Thanks.

  104. Hi Audra. Wow, I can hardly digest all that you've included here. Terrific post that I will be referring to, I'm sure! BTW, I was a Realtor and one of my sellers DID paint her Formica, and it turned out really nice, lol.

  105. Audra Jennings -- The Big Valley, yep was there during its prime : )

    Hope you had a great time in Seekerville today. I loved your post!! So much to think about.

  106. Virginia, you ARE JUST THAT COOL!!!!

  107. I craft a lot, so there has been many times where my DIY goes wrong, but I'm normally able to fix it (in sewing, the seam ripper is my friend)! :)

  108. Such an interesting post and comments. As an Indie author I've been on a learning curve and only learnt what SWAG was a while ago. I still think things like Bookmarks are useful to give away - probably a waste of money taking them to a conference when there are dozens going around and will probably just get thrown out - but to people you meet in 'real life' they could be useful (if you can fit them in your bag.) I went to to an RWA conference years ago and there were Nora Roberts McGregor series tissues in the goodie room. Had to have them, and I brought the box all the way home to New Zealand - and left them on the plane! I looked everywhere before I realised what I must have done - the box was gorgeous.

  109. Kaybee, the whole process of what should/would/could happen can be mindboggling but I'm going to keep it simple for all of us:

    Write a great book.

    Then keep doing it. Consider each one equal parts experience and money in the bank.

    They will be both someday.

    Write. Write. Write. Steady book production is the very best and most reactive way to build a following unless you're JK Rowling.

    Almost no one is J. K. Rowling... Most of us are barely "J"s....

    But for us regular authors, that steady 1K/day production ROCKS.

    I promise.

    Scout's honor. I do not lie about this stuff.

    And I color my own hair.


  110. LOL, NATALIE ... I heard that about keeping one donkey with the cows for protection ... I thought it was a joke at first. Who knew donkeys could be so valuable!! :)

    MARY CURRY, BLESS YOU for admitting you didn't know what SWAG stood for either. That makes me feel better knowing I'm not the only one, but that should make you feel worse, I guess, being in the same boat with me ... :|

    VINCE ... LOL!!! Took me THREE reads to figure out what a** meant!!! Which means I am one with the word "dumb" in front ot it. ;)


  111. I've book marked the Litfuse site... hope to use it some day :)

  112. I read somewhere that 50% of the time for a writer is taken up with some form of publicity.

    I would love to read FIRED UP thank you.

  113. I read where Kilz would cover up wall paper. Once that dried, the walls could be painted. So I proceed to paint Kilz on the bathroom walls. Picture this: step stool in bathtub. Me on step stool with paint tray full of Kilz in hand. Step stool slides, paint tray flies out my hand and makes a circle around the room before landing on floor and I land in tub after slamming knee into faucet. 8 hours later - surgery to put knee cap back in place; 3 months in a hip to ankle brace; 3.5 months of physical therapy. My family won't let me near a step stool, ladder or paint.
    And yes,I definitely need a publicist!

  114. I am a reader but I found the article about using a publicist very interesting. As a reader I never thought about all the ingredients that go into putting a book out there for us to enjoy. So thanks to all of you.
    I am one of Mary's devoted readers. I read every book as soon as it is available. Love her characters and story lines and the bit's of humor and the faith of her characters. Western theme's are also my favorite. Am going to try hard to listen to her webcast tonight would love to hear more about her writing. Thanks

  115. I'm not an author but a Blogger that helps authors spread the word through publicity groups like Litfuse. I know the value of getting the word out. That's why I started doing reviews long before I started my blog. Word of mouth is priceless. Very informative post!

    Wanda Barefoot