One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight
Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author Roseanna M. White as she shares about 'surprise and delight'!
For the last several years, my husband has been fine-tuning a marketing approach that he learned via Rob Hardy called “Identity Marketing.” It was originally created for filmmakers but was oh-so-easily adapted to the book world that he invested quite a bit of time into writing out those adaptations…and of course, sharing them with me, mwa ha ha ha. The whole system is amazing and works super well with the outlook I’ve always tried to have—that it’s not about selling, it’s about serving. And one of the tenets of this system that I especially latched onto was the principle of “Surprise and Delight.”
What is it? Very simple—whenever you can, come up with something that will surprise (in a good way, of course!) your readers. We all love plot twists in stories, right? Well, one of our goals should be delivering little twists in our marketing too. Things that our readers don’t expect, and which put big smiles on their faces.
Great in theory…but what about in practice? How do we actually come up with these things? I have a whole list of things I’ve done and tried, and many have worked quite well. But today I want to tell you about my absolute favorite.
So around two years ago, when we were just beginning to test this system, I had the idea for an online Tea Party Book Club. Now, this was before the world went virtual thanks to The Pandemic That Shall Not Be Named. The inspiration came in May of 2018; I had a book coming out…I went to a tea with the ladies from my church at a local tea house…and my husband had been running some virtual events via online meeting tech similar to Zoom. All these things swirled together in my mind and made me say, “Hey! Why couldn’t we do a tea party online?? I could put together packages, mail them out, and then get together with readers to chat about the book and have tea and treats together!”
I quickly became OBSESSED with this idea. (This is pretty typical of me, LOL.) I priced bulk tea. I priced pretty vintage teacups. Spoons. Sugar cubes. Individually wrapped treats. Candy. Mints. I weighed and priced postage. I considered how much I pay for this sort of thing at the local tea house. I came up with a package price and built it out on my website. And then… then… I presented it to my readers.
Would they love it too? Hate it? Not want to pay for that sort of thing? I didn’t know—all I knew was that I found the idea delightful, LOL, even though it would be a ton of work on my part.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out how my readers would receive it. Within a few days of announcing the idea, I had people filling the parties, ordering “starter kits” that involve tea pots and vintage cups and spoons, a lady from my church volunteered to make tea cozies for me, and I even had some people so excited that they signed up for all the extras and then realized an hour later that, oops, they were out of town that day or already had a tea set they could use.
But this was my answer—this idea, unheard of at the time, sounded so fun that my reader friends JUMPED to be a part of it. Where else did they get an hour with other fans of the book and the author and receive a hand-selected package of goodies to go along with it?
Now, granted, in the last year and a half everything has gone online, and we’re beginning to see a lot more things like this. But I’m thrilled to be able to say that I’ve been at it for over two years, that kinks have been worked out, processes have been streamlined…and that the seats keep filling up.
Best of all, relationships have been developed. I have regular attendees, and they greet each other like friends when they see a familiar face come back for this month or that month. Readers have become friends. And the conversations have been AMAZING.
Will I do these tea parties forever? Who knows. But I’m having a blast doing them now—especially because my readers are too. It’s just one thing in the many that I do to try to reach out to them, but it’s been a total success. It’s one way to Surprise and Delight them…and seeing how well it’s worked, it’s an inspiration to keep coming up with new ways to do just that in the future.
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.
You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.
Roseanna is offering a $15 credit in her online store to one commenter!
Authors, what questions do you have for Roseanna about her tea parties or her 'surprise and delight' strategy?
Readers, what are some ways other authors have 'surprise and delight'-ed you?
One Thing That Works For Me with guest Audra Jennings: A Good PR Inquiry Email
Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming my friend, publicist Audra Jennings, as she shares the importance of a good PR inquiry email!
You don’t need to give your life history obviously, but you should introduce yourself. Who are you? What have you written? What is your passion? Why did you write this book (especially if you write non-fiction)?
3. The title of your book
This might be a given, but I’ve gotten some interesting emails.
4. The official description of your book/back cover copy
This will tell what your book is about in a nutshell and tell us the basics of what we need to know about it. A publicist will be able to read this and know if they think there will be interest in your book from media and reviewers and be able to help you. A publicist also needs to see if they can connect with your book in order to promote it. (Remind me to come back sometime to talk about why good back cover copy is really important.)
5. The book cover
Like the song from Mary Poppins Returns, “The cover is not the book…” However, a cover does make a first impression with readers. It’s something we want to see in getting to know your book.
This will help me know more about how to advise you. There are some things we are going to need to address or talk about if you were doing this on your own without a publisher’s support. A publicist may have worked with your publisher before and may know how to answer some of your questions based on this answer as well.
7. Release date
Sharing your release date gives a timetable. There are aspects of PR and marketing that take some lead time, so knowing when your book is releasing will help your potential publicist advise you on what needs to happen and when or how quickly they can get a blog tour on the schedule. There are also times of the year when there are more releases than others, and they may not have the availability to take on a project within a certain timeframe.
8. Your website
In addition to what you share in an email, we want to go find some more information and look around, maybe see what other books you have released. (You really should have a website if you don’t, but that’s another post for another time.)
If you don’t know what you need, that’s ok. You can say that too. We can take a look at all of this information and make suggestions of what we think will work well for you.
Yes, that is ten things for one email, but isn’t really a lot when you look at it. Most of this you would probably include anyway. Best wishes on your new book launch!
So helpful & saves all of us (you & the team) a lot of time.
One Thing That Works For Me with guest Cynthia Ruchti: When Considering an Author's Proposal
Good Monday morning, Seeker villagers! How is it already the middle of June? Goodness! Anyway, I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming one of my very favorite people, Cynthia Ruchti, as she shares one thing that works for her when she wears her agent hat :)
ONE THING THAT WORKS FOR ME…when considering an author’s proposalHaving written my own proposals for a bunch of books (many of the more than 36 now in print) and after reviewing a number inching close to a thousand proposals from clients and prospective clients in four-plus years as an agent so far, I can pinpoint the moment when I know “this might work.”
Can you guess which of these almost equally important strengths in a book proposal rises above the rest in making me want to dig deeper as an agent?
c. Synopsis (fiction) or Chapter Summaries (nonfiction
d. Author Bio
e. Target Audience
f. Reader Takeaway
h. Marketing Strategies
Does that sound like backward thinking? (Not the pavlova. What could be wrong with that?) It’s actually forward thinking—a hope-giver for an agent or editor reviewing the proposal. In many ways, it is a reflection of the strength of all the other elements listed.
Many marketing strategies are like obligatory and clumpy powdered sugar when you were expecting whipped cream. Statements like these reveal that the author may be working with an old, tired recipe or is unaware of the power of a true “strategy” for marketing their book.
- I’m willing to participate in a world-wide book tour. (Who wouldn’t be? But world-wide—okay, even state-wide book tours—are a thing of the past, for the most part. For all the parts.)
- I’m willing to do whatever the publisher asks. (Again, a given. If you’re NOT willing to do what the publisher and its marketing team asks, you may not be ready for traditional publishing.)
- I’m willing to speak to stadiums full of people to talk about my book. (Yeah, so which is actually less realistic—booking space at a stadium or over-filling it with potential readers?)
The “I’m willing” parts of those supposed strategies gave away a hard truth. The author isn’t well-informed about the role of the publisher’s marketing team versus the role of the author. It also reveals a misunderstanding about whose books even qualify for a world tour these days. They’re reserved for…well, for… Nope. Can’t think of an author whose publisher jots “world tour” into their marketing budget.
Another list of tell-tale statements from a not-so-swell book proposal:
- I plan to get a website.
- I hope to start a newsletter.
- I’m fixin’ to work on building a platform this summer as soon as I finish writing the book.
A marketing strategy isn’t a place for wishin’, and hopin’, and dreamin’. It’s for did and done. Authors are sometimes wise to hold off submitting their proposal until they have already created an active and engaging website, have a solid base of newsletter subscribers, and have built a platform that can bear the weight of the work it’s required to do.
The best marketing strategies are ideas that will make the marketing team at the publishing house lean forward and say, “I wish we’d thought of that!”
They reveal that the author knows his or her audience well, inventing marketing ideas that tap into reader needs and preferences. They show that the author understands how to connect the book’s themes with specific strategies, like a premade list of potential guest blog post topics related to the story or potential online articles that connect the story to current culture. They engage potential readers/purchasers, not just rabid fans…and I use the word rabid loosely.
Those creative ideas have “legs” that reach an untapped audience.