All posts by jenniferfusco

The truth about SWAG

For a moment, let’s talk about S.W.A.G (Stuff We All Get) or rather; giveaways, at author events, conferences, and book signings. For this conversation, the term SWAG refers to author branded pens, jar openers, sewing kits, lip balm, recipe cards, bookmarks, etc. Any promotional item you can put your name on can be considered swag, and just as you wouldn’t show up at a friend’s house for dinner without a dessert or a bottle of wine, you can’t attend a signing without offering a little bit of swag.

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Over the years swag has become a “necessary evil,” one that authors have poured money into in the hopes that the reader will not throw their trinkets away.  But, now, I wonder if you and I are looking at swag through the correct lens. Instead of wishing our swag a long and dust collecting life sitting on a shelf, maybe we should make the most of its short-term existence.

Pondering if I was alone in my opinions of swag, I sought help. Fellow romance author, Kim Boykin gave me her opinion of swag. She says, “For newbies like me, it’s expensive, creating stuff, postage is the real killer. It’s hard for me to tell what giving it away actually does for sales. Does it build up your brand, lots of good will? Most definitely.  But does it sell books? Probably not. I think it’s one of those tools the industry used so people do it. Everything is so price driven these days, I’m guessing readers would rather have a discount or free books rather than stuff. I’m always amazed going through the SWAG room at RWA how much stuff there is and how much of that stuff is still there at the end of the conference. Except chocolate, that always seems to go. Fast.”

To Kim’s point, I’m often baffled by the author who labors over the perfect piece of swag and tries to get it “just right,” then complains post-event that she didn’t see her book sales spike. Have you ever purchased a book because you were given a free nail file? I haven’t. This leads me to believe that we are looking at swag the wrong way. Therefore, if we must invest in promotional items, we should come together to look at swag for what it is…a tradition. Let’s And readers do not feel obligated to buy your book because they walked away from your signing table with a free bottle of hand sanitizer. Let’s admit swag is expensive and after a few years it is possible to run out of good ideas for giveaways. Let’s accept tiny bottles of screen cleaner won’t sell a book. Let’s vow, in unison, not to check sales when our supply of pens is exhausted to only suffer disappointment when the expected uptick in sales isn’t realized.

Instead, let’s do this. Let’s make a promise to carry on a tradition. That if we do invest in promotional items, we do so with the following in mind:

  • We will try to make our swag as clever and unique as we can without breaking the bank.
  • We will strive for our swag to match the tone and theme of our book, and order just enough so that we aren’t giving away author branded hot cocoa in the summertime.
  • We will aim to imprint a visual image on our swag and recognize some people are better at remembering faces and icons because we are more than just fancy script and a web address.
  • We will attempt to make the swag work for us. We vow to share our ingenious ideas with our friends and fans on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • We will understand it is more important to place our swag in the hands of the readers than display it on a table to await its unavoidable meeting with the trash can.
  • We vow to look at swag as a gift to the reader, not as a means to a sale.

In conclusion, dear authors, I ask you to stand alongside me to carry on the tradition of swag. Together we realize that from chocolate candy to refrigerator magnets it’s all been done before, and will be done, probably forever. Because just as readers have come to rely on a trinket given in good faith, we have come to expect to provide it. With nothing expected in return, except a smile.

10 Rules for Writing an Effective Press Release

Hi Scribblers,

Being a marketer, I was blessed with the gift of gab.  And, using my gift I’ve been quite successful getting my clients of Market or Die Author Services, LLC noticed in the media.  My client, Kourtney Heintz was even featured on a local TV station – and her book was the focus of the show.  But, getting the attention of traditional media isn’t easy.  I’ve gotten more no’s or no responses than yes’s over the years.  But, my wins have been big ones. Just last week I was on the phone with the producer of CBS This Morning discussing my client Ava Miles as a potential guest.

Having the contacts is part of being successful in the press. The other half of the equation is  writing an effective press release.  So, here are my top ten must-have’s for writing a release that is both professional and eye catching.

1.- The words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE should appear on the top left of the page above the headline – No dates – Dates will be overlooked.

2. Next, the headline should appear in bold capital letters.  Write the headline to attract the attention of the reporter.  If you have a title before your name like, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR, make sure you use it here.

3. Avoid overused words like HOT, NEW, BEST EVER. Write simply and concise.

4. Make sure your book title appears in all caps.

5. Write your release in the 3rd person and do not use a title such as Mr. , Ms. or Mrs.  Just refer to yourself by your last name, such as, Fusco says this is her top ten rules for writing an effective press release.

6. Never use exclamation points in a press release!!!!!

7. At the bottom of the press release type the word “end” or designate the end by using ### .

8. List your website and social media information as well as your phone and physical address.

9. Your release should be no longer than 2 pages MAXIMUM!!!

10.  Submit your press release, and follow up about a week later. If there has been no response – accept that the venue is not interested and move one.  Further correspondence will only piss them off.  :)

Tawny Weber’s Excerpt Tour

Hey Gang:

I’m so happy the Scribes were asked to be a part of Tawny Weber’s excerpt tour. Just take a little read below. If this doesn’t make you want to buy the book, not sure what will.

Warning:  It’s HOT!!

A SEAL's Salvation cover (1)

A SEAL’S SALVATION

by: Tawny Weber

ISBN: 978-0373797875

 Subject: Navy SEAL Petty Officer Brody Lane

Current Status: On leave

Obstacle: The one girl who was off-limits…

Where Navy SEAL “Bad Ass” Brody Lane goes, trouble follows. Being run out of his hometown years ago for misbehaving with Genna Reilly—the sheriff’s daughter—was one thing. Now Brody is about to step into real danger. Not the suggestive letters he’s been exchanging with Genna, but the kind of trouble that can send a soldier home injured and broken inside…

Genna’s entire life has been orchestrated by her family. The right job. The right friends. Enough! Brody’s return offers the promise of lust-filled pleasures. Of flesh teased and tasted. She’s not expecting to find a soldier with distant eyes who has secluded himself from the world. But this good girl knows exactly how to bring a bad boy back to life….

Uniformly Hot!  The Few. The Proud. The Sexy as Hell.

Excerpt:

She was so damned cute when she got feisty. Brody couldn’t help but smile a little. Actually, she was so damned cute all the time, feisty or not. And sexy. Fascinating, entertaining, fun.

His smile fell away.

Maybe that was part of the problem.

He’d thought they could be friends. He hadn’t been able to resist spending time with her, and had thought he could control the intense attraction he felt for her. That he could channel it into making up for some of the lousy deal she’d gotten after he’d left.

But he felt as if he’d signed up for a torture project. Days spent talking and joking. Watching her bake, listening to her dreams. Nights spent hard and horny, diving into dreams so hot he thought the bed was on fire. He was a man used to pushing through the pain, well trained to overcome his body’s weaknesses. Except, apparently, the ones Genna inspired.

“Look,” he said, taking a deep breath and hoping for some semblance of tact and diplomacy. “This friendship thing, it was a mistake.”

Her eyes widened, surprise and hurt flashing. Then, with a sweep of her lashes, her expression changed. Intensified. It sent an itch down Brody’s spine.

“We’re not going to be friends anymore?” she asked in a calm, friendly tone. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was saying the right words, he’d have figured she hadn’t understood him.

As soon as he nodded, she gave him a brilliant smile and tossed off her coat. It hit the floor with a swoosh just as she reached behind her back. The move was quickly accompanied by the sound of a zipper. And Brody’s hiss.

“What, exactly, do you think you’re doing?” he asked, hoping like hell it wasn’t what he thought she was doing.

“Seducing you.”

Damn.

That’s what he’d been afraid of.

A SEAL’s Salvation Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373797877/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0373797877&linkCode=as2&tag=tawweb-20

Tawny Weber

USA TODAY Bestselling author of over twenty hot books, Tawny Weber has been writing sassy, sexy romances since her first Harlequin Blaze hit the shelves in 2007.  A fan of Johnny Depp, cupcakes and color coordination, she spends a lot of her time shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking and hanging out on Facebook.

Readers can check out Tawny’s books at her website, http://www.tawnyweber.com, or join her Red Hot Readers Club for goodies like free reads, complete first chapter excerpts, recipes, insider story info and much more.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Websitehttp://tawnyweber.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/TawnyWeber.RomanceAuthor

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TawnyWeber

Pinterest:   http://pinterest.com/tawnyweber/

A SEAL’s Salvation: http://tawnyweber.com/books/seals-salvation/

A SEAL’s Surrender: http://tawnyweber.com/books/a-seals-surrender/

A SEAL’s Seduction: http://tawnyweber.com/books/a-seals-seduction/

A SEAL’s Kiss: http://tawnyweber.com/books/seals-kiss/

A SEAL’s Salvation Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373797877/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0373797877&linkCode=as2&tag=tawweb-20

A SEAl’s Salvation Barnes & Noble:  http://click.linksynergy.com/link?id=U2Z6CH9yWnc&offerid=266972.9780373797875&type=2&murl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.barnesandnoble.com%2FA-SEALs-Salvation%2FTawny-Weber%2Fe%2F9780373797875

A SEAL’s Salvation Harlequin:  http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html;jsessionid=4806944D326FA240103DB9727254679F?iid=50156

Email:  tawny@tawnyweber.com

An Independent Publicist or, What the Heck is an Independent Publicist, and Why Do I Need One?

jennifer_hires 600x600An Independent Publicist or, What the Heck is an Independent Publicist, and Why Do I Need One?

By Market or Die Author Services, LLC   Jennifer Fusco and Melanie R. Meadors

Melanie’s contributions to this article are in bold.

Let’s face it. In today’s book world, the market is flooded. Everyone who thinks they want to publish a book has the ability to do it. So, it’s not uncommon for an author to feel the pressure of the crowd when they are about to release their book into the wild.  Many times our clients will feel alone, like they are the ones jumping up and down in the back of the room begging readers to “buy my book,” and that’s not their job.

An author’s job is to deliver the best story possible and to sweep the reader away emotionally, so they are not only compelled to finish reading the story, but crave to know more about the character and their future journeys. Yes. And I know I sound like a broken record at times, but I always say, an author’s best marketing tool is their next book. It’s really hard to market nothing, after all, and even harder to market something that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves during its production.

Our goal as independent publicists is to ensure our client’s work gets the attention it deserves. Through whatever means necessary. With the author’s approval, of course.

MelOur relationship with our clients is based on trust, focus and good planning. And I personally think this is the key to why an author should hire an independent publicist. Trust: you need someone who has your back. When I go into a bookstore, as I do…once…twice…OK, probably five times a week, and I don’t see my clients’ books on the shelves, I see to it that they get there. How are they supposed to sell books if they aren’t in the store, after all? Focus: This is my strong suit. I have ADHD. Hyperfocus is my middle name. When I do a job, I do it thoroughly. Writers WRITE. They can’t have that singular focus on the marketing aspect when they are on deadline at the same time their book is released. By hiring an independent publicist, they have someone who can be there to answer the emails and snap up sudden opportunities that they may not have had time for. My eyes are always open for opportunities for “my authors.” It’s not realistic to expect an author to do all of this herself. And good planning: this is where a publicists knowledge comes in handy. We have connections to blogs and media outlets. We have experience. We know when things should happen, such as blog tours or when press releases should go out.

Often, we are hired to create buzz among readers, and we do that by arranging blog tours, soliciting the press, throwing live events, creating marketing plans and giving our clients opportunities to talk about their work with venues like Authors on the Air. Publishers may arrange some of these things for their authors as well, with their in-house publicists. However, remember that these publicists have other authors they are working for, authors who may, to be frank, be more “important” to that publisher because they draw in more money. These in-house publicists are often stretched thin, and their assistants can often be very inexperienced. An independent publicist works directly for the AUTHOR. Every one of our clients is just as important as the next. The only priority we have when selecting who we should work for next is maybe the release date of their book. We also personalize everything we arrange for an author. No two blog tours are alike–this is because we know that different readers go to different blogs, and we make sure we pay attention to that. We also keep in mind what the author wants, and what his strengths and weaknesses are. It’s much more personal than with a big publisher’s marketing staff.

Bottom line is we love books. We LOVE our authors and there really is no better job in the world.

Welcome 2014!

Hi All,

Jennifer here.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This year, we spent our first holiday in Florida, making new friends and new traditions.  A new tradition our family started was to declare our new years resolution at the Christmas dinner table. My mom’s husband Karl said, “if we tell our resolutions, we’ll all be there to make sure we keep them on track.”  A nice idea, I thought.  So, we did.

Karl said, his resolution was to give up eating potato chips, while my mom resolved to play more golf. I gave the obligatory “finish the damn book” speech, while my husband spewed the cliche of losing weight.  Jacob, my 6-year-old, said he wanted his yellow belt in karate.

So, there they were, our resolutions out for all to see, and to hold us to.

I thought here at the Scribes that declaring our resolutions on the blog may be a good thing to do as well. We’re like family. We can all list what we hope to change, quit, finish, and do then check back at the end of 2014 and see if we did it.

So, who’s with me?  Go ahead, leave your resolution in the comment box and I’ll check back at the end of the year and write a post about all those resolutions and we can see how we did.

2014

Heroes by Emma Leigh Reed

What makes a hero?  The definition of a hero is a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Who is your hero? When I was a kid, my daddy was my hero. He could do anything, make anything better. Regardless of how old I have gotten, my dad can still make things better with just a smile, a hug or just a cup of coffee and a chat.

As my children grow, I wonder who their heroes are. My oldest at the start of her college years had stated her hero was her younger brother who inspired her to become a speech and language pathologist. Her Papa was also her hero. Do heroes change as we mature and change, or do we add other heroes to those who are already established as heroes in our lives?
As I write my heroes in my books, they change with what maybe going on in my life. They can be fierce and demanding, or gentle and sentimental depending on what I’m feeling, but in the end they are the ones that give the girl what she really needs.  What do I look for in a hero?  I want someone who will make me their priority in life, someone who loves me when I’m down and just need to be held, and someone who inspires me to be a better person.
So whether you write, or are a reader, what is your ideal hero? Or who is your real life hero? What makes a hero? Hard work and perseverance, or is it someone that is just always there?

We all need heroes in our lives, and we all need to strive to be a hero in someone else’s life. To me there is nothing better in life than being someone’s hero – someone that they can look up to, come to for support for anything and always be there for them

In TRUSTING LOVE, which centers around domestic violence, I try to incorporate the emotional anguish around trying to get out of a situation which is harmful, whether it be physically or emotionally. This story was a difficult one for me to write as it incorporates the emotions that I felt in getting out of a relationship involving abuse. It takes a long time to be able to trust again, but as with all my books I was to give the gift of hope – hope that broken trust can be healed by the power of love.

TRUSTING LOVE is available on Amazon.com.

trusting love COVER

~~~

author headshotEmma Leigh Reed has lived in New Hampshire all her life. She has fond memories of the Maine coastline and incorporates the ocean into all her books. She lives in a small town with her three children, although now it is mostly her and her Springer Spaniel to keep her company as empty-nesting has started. Her life has been touched and changed by her son’s autism – she views life through a very different lens than before he was born. Growing up as an avid reader, it was only natural for Emma Leigh to turn to creating the stories for others to enjoy.

GIVEAWAY:  Choice of print copy of TRUSTING LOVE, or ebook

Find her on:

Web page:  www.emmaleighreed.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emma-Leigh-Reed-Author/392232914212183

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/emmaleighreed

Katy Lee’s Marketing Book Launch with $200 Amazon Gift Giveaway

Our very own Katy Leekaty lee is participating in a book launch with six other authors. From December 1- December 16, you will meet each of the authors here on the Scribes. The whole process is a group effort starting with a landing page that brings readers to one place where they can view the books and authors as well as enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $200 Amazon Gift Card just for stopping by. More entries given to those who tweet or share and spread the word about the books. View the landing page here. http://www.john316marketingnetwork.com/christian-book-launches/

A press release has also been sent out. View here to read more about this collaborative effort. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11374673.htm In addition, tons of bloggers have been invited to host the authors, or share an excerpt of each of the books, or point their followers back to the landing page. These bloggers are not just other authors, but also a network of readers and mommy bloggers. The reach for exposure is great, and I applaud the efforts put into this event. It is well planned, and the books chosen had to meet a criteria of fifteen Amazon reviews with a minimum four star rating. Meaning, the books are good. They also are either selling the books for .99 cents during the launch, or in Katy Lee’s case, she’s holding a B.O.G.O. sale.

Book Launch

Here’s what our Katy Lee is offering during her launch of Warning Signs.

A Buy One Get One Sale of Katy Lee’s Books!

In Katy Lee’s latest romantic-suspense story, WARNING SIGNS, her heroine, Miriam Hunter, is deaf. Owen, her hero, has some misconceptions of people with hearing impairments, but can Miriam change his way of thinking before she goes to jail? Or worse, killed?  WARNING SIGNS is the first story in Katy’s inspirational series that takes place on a fishing island in Maine.  Stop by the Island of Stepping Stones, where the lobster traps are always full and romance awaits even the hardest of hearts.

RT Book Reviews gave WARNING SIGNS 4 ½ Stars, making it a keeper.   “Miriam is a strong character who is not held back by what others may perceive as a weakness. Acceptance is a key theme as Lee dispels some misconceptions regarding people with hearing impairments.” ~RT Magazine

More about WARNING SIGNS:

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile. Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

To read an excerpt, please visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Warning-Signs-Love-Inspired-Suspense/dp/product-description/0373445598/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

More about Katy:

As an Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministries, and teaching, she dedicates her life to sharing tales of love, from the “greatest love story ever told” to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Katy and her husband are born New Englanders and love to travel with their three adventuresome homeschooled children.  You can connect with Katy anytime at her website, http://www.KatyLeeBooks.com. There you will find links to Facebook and Twitter.

To purchase the WARNING SIGNS Kindle version, you can go to:  http://tinyurl.com/o446oqw

Warning Signs Cover

B.O.G.O. Sale: If you purchase WARNING SIGNS between 12/1/13REAL VIRTUE2 -12/16/13 from any retailer, contact Katy at her website at http://www.KatyLeeBooks.com for directions to claim your FREE ecopy of REAL VIRTUE. If you would like to see the details on REAL VIRTUE, go here: http://tinyurl.com/cxeo8ot. But remember to contact Katy directly at her website to claim your ecopy!

And don’t forget the Amazon Giveaway: For a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing at: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books. You get a free entry just for stopping by!