Cheryl is back! And this time with an awesome interview with the awesome Bree Despain. Yay! Bree is amazing (as you’ll see) and it’s fun to see all this from a bookseller’s perspective. Thanks Cheryl and Bree.
True story: I went to work one day last year, thinking everything was going to be normal.
First phone call of the day- “Do you have The Dark Divine by Bree Despain?”
I checked. We had four come in (a typical number for a new, unknown author) and ALL FOUR were already on hold. Unheard of for a debut author.
I offered to order it in, and wrote it off as a fluke. Maybe all four were on hold by the author herself, I figured. Stranger things had happened.
Half hour later- A customer walks in, wandering through the teen section. “Do you have The Dark Divine by Bree Despain?”
Sigh. It’s always a long day when I know I’m going to have a long line of unhappy customers.
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Long story short, by the end of the day, I’d ordered 15 copies to come in (on top of the ones that customers had ordered for themselves) and our community relations manager was frantically searching for a way to contact Bree to get her to come in for a signing.
Nowadays, Bree is a sensation nationwide with her book trailer appearing before Eclipse showings throughout Utah. That’s right. A book trailer. In movie theaters.
Looking at the evidence, I have to say that Bree is one of the most brilliant marketers I have ever seen. Lucky for us, she agreed to share with me some of her secrets to success.
1. You’re a well-known author now, but what did you do to get excitement for The Dark Divine before it came out?
Well I tried to do a lot of things. I started a blog and twitter account and joined a few networking sites specific to books and reading. That helped start to get the word out. The best group I joined was the Tenners, a group of authors debuting in 2010 to both network and help cross promote each others books.
After the blog had a bit of a following, I recruited followers to be on a Street Team to help me spread the word. They received bookmarks, stickers, t-shirts and advanced copies of the book and went out to different events helping to pass out the materials. We had a lot of fun and I think it was a good way to generate excitement. Of course we did a lot of other things together with my publisher, like developing the TDD nail polish or previewing the first six chapters via the Romantic Times blog, to name a couple.
2. What did you do to make your book signings successful?
Mostly I am just enthusiastic about the events when talking about it with my twitter followers and on my blog. But we also passed out printed invitations to all our family and friends with a bottle of our TDD nail polish before my debut party. I think this helped to have them, in turn, talk about the signing with others. I was also lucky enough to be reviewed by some local newspapers that published a couple of my first signings along with the review.
3. What other events do you do? Are there any events that you turn down?
I have done everything from speaking on a author panels with local writing organizations, online chats with different groups of bloggers, teaching a class at conferences, flying out to Washington DC to participate in the American Library Association (ALA) conference, to visiting book clubs and book groups. Basically the only time I’ve turned an event down is when I just don’t have the time to go.
4. What, if anything, have the publishers done for you that required zero effort from you?
Really, I have been highly involved in most of the marketing and promotions- whether it was initiated by me or by my publisher. But Egmont has done a lot on their own as well. For example, they placed some advertisements on Publisher’s Weekly, Justine Magazine, Perez Hiltion’s blog, and The Romantic Times. They are also currently doing a summer beach bag promotion that lets you listen to the first chapter of three of their Paranormal Romance books (including The Dark Divine of course).
5. How important are online networking sites (i.e. Facebook, blog, web site, Twitter)?
Extremely important. This new age of social media offers authors a new medium for reaching potential readers that they didn’t have before. I am able to connect with readers all over the country and even in other countries quickly and easily. However, these sites shouldn’t be used just to advertise or spam followers with constant “buy my book” speech. It is a place to converse with the book community and make connections and develop relationships. If it wasn’t for my blog and Twitter, I can guarantee I would not have sold as many books as I have.
6. What is the most effective thing you’ve done to promote your book?
This is a tough question. I’ve just talked about the importance of the social media efforts, but if I take that out of the running, perhaps I’d say the nail polish. It has been a great give-away because, unlike a book mark or a business card, it is something that people will keep and use. And I’ve found its an incredible talking piece. People constantly ask me about where I got the great color, giving me a chance to talk about TDD. I have heard several similar anecdotes from my friends and fans telling me about how often they end up talking about my book with their friends because they’ve asked about the nail polish.
Overall though, its been a matter of trying to keep the momentum going by keeping an open mind and always trying new things. I am just so excited about it, and I want to share that with as many people as possible… and hopefully they will love the book as much as I do.
Speaking of trying new things– I’ve just launched an awesome contest to help share a the new official The Dark Divine book trailer that you and your readers should totally check out. So far it has been a lot of fun. You can check it out here.
I just want to weigh in on a few things that Bree talked about. First of all, that Street Team is a work of absolute genius, and I honestly think that it is because of them that we had such a huge response on the first day The Dark Divine came out.
Secondly, I want to point out that she was involved with nearly all of her promotions, and I firmly believe that that is why she is so successful. One mistaken idea that many authors have is that bookstores or publishers will do your advertising for you.
THIS IS FALSE.
When you are going to do a signing at a bookstore, we are only providing a venue. YOU are in charge of promoting your own signing. I have run dozens of signings, and I can tell who promotes and who doesn’t.
Bree is successful because she takes charge of her signings, and she makes them successful. Believe me, this is a good thing! Your signings no longer have to be a matter of luck! YOU can make them amazing.
And since you’re all dying to see it, here’s Bree’s incredible trailer!