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February 2, 2009

Getting the Word Out!

One of the most difficult things for a writer is the promotion side of the business. There’s so many variables with promotion, and it’s hard to gauge what works and what doesn’t because royalties are often received months after the event. Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to juggle the time because there’s no doubt about it, promotion is a huge timesuck! It’s also difficult to know what will work for you. Each writer and book is different, and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Today I’d like to look at the pros and cons of promotion companies where the writer pays a company or individual to do their promotion for them. The theory is that this will free the writer to do what he or she does best. Write.

Advantages of a Promotion Company

1. They take over the chore of promotion for an author and therefore the stress.
2. A writer can save time and focus on their writing.
3. They (supposedly) have expertise and know exactly how to tailor a promotion for an author.
4. They can take care of both online and “real world” promotion, depending on the company.
5. A company can tailor make a package to meet your special needs.
6. A promo company knows all the right places to promote and all the posting rules on loops.
7. They can also help with printing needs i.e. banners, postcards, bookmarks etc.

Disadvantages/Cons of a Promotion Company

1. They can be expensive.
2. Some readers consider promotion posts are SPAM and delete them unread.
3. Sometimes overbooking clients can mean all clients are at a disadvantage and don’t get value for money.

Here are some links to a few author promotion companies:

Topaz Promotions
Millennium Promotion Services
Heartfelt Promos

In addition to promotion companies are author communities. These are groups of writers who pay to belong to a community. The owners of the community promote the authors together and individually. The theory is that a group of authors will attract readers and hopefully those reader visitors will discover new authors. Once again, it can be expensive to join a community and all communities are not equal. Some are over committed and not very good at communication. Some don’t attract readers as well as others. Some communities such as Writerspace attract large numbers of readers and have thousands of readers receiving their newsletters.

Some examples are:

Author Island
Access Romance
The Romance Studio
Eye On Romance
Fresh Fiction
I Read Romance

I am a current member of Access Romance, which I really like. They’re pleasant and efficient with a professionally run website. I’m also with Erotic Romance Writers, a sister site of I Read Romance. I found the owner friendly and efficient and the cost is very reasonable. I joined these two communities to help spread the word about my new releases, to gain traffic to my website and hopefully gain more name recognition. It’s hard to tell if I’ve achieved the name recognition, but my website traffic is up on this time last year, and I think more readers know about my releases. I’ve also had favorable dealings with Author Island and Fresh Fiction.

Readers: I’d like to know if you enjoy visiting author communities, and if you visit them on a regular basis. What is it that attracts you to the communities and which are your favorites?
Authors: Have you had dealings with either promtion companies or author communites? Good or bad? Do you have any questions?


  1. Amy Ruttan

    This is what’s been plaguing me. What do I do?

    I’m a featured member of The Romance Studio, and since my condition just seems to be getting fatter and harder to deal with Promo I’m thinking of paying for a Promo company.

  2. Wylie

    I have nothing insightful… but look forward to seeing what other commenters have to say on the subject!

  3. Kaye Manro

    Hi Shelley, I don’t belong to any paid promo sites yet. But several you mention sound okay. I was also wondering about those generated promos that people treat as spam. Wouldn’t that be too impersonal? How would we, as writers answer or talk to readers if we aren’t even there? I’d think readers would be offended by that kind of promotion.

  4. Roberta Harwell

    Hello! I am an avid reader and I also spend a lot of time on the computer as well. I go on several websites each month. Here are just a few, fresh fiction, writerspace, access romance and others. I’ll be very honest, I go to see about the contests for the most part. I do however, enjoy the reviews on some of the websites. I make a list each month of the books I should read from these websites and when the books will be released. Hope this was helpful

  5. Jory Strong

    I admit, I’m one of those who 99.9% of the time zaps (unopened) any “promo” I get unsolicited in my mail box. So I’d have to hear some rave testimonials from authors about seeing a direct benefit from hiring a promo company before I’d consider spending the $$ on it.

    I also don’t generally go to any of the author community sites. Between author blogs (solo and group) plus review sites and author web sites, I already spend way too much time surfing instead of working!

  6. Shelley Munro

    Amy – I think the thing is to check the loops and see what promotion companies are doing and how you, as a reader, feel about their approach. I’d also contact some of the clients and ask for references.

    You could also ask some of your writer friends to help out. I bet you haven’t even thought of asking. :grin:

    Wylie – I’m in two minds about the promotion companies. I’m hoping for some more insight as well.

    Kaye – my own personal experience is that if a promo company posts to a loop with client excerpts I tend to delete them unread. If they annoy me enough I might also start ignoring the author, even if I’ve read an enjoyed their books in the past. It depends how annoyed I become! I’ve heard other people say that as well, which makes me a bit cautious. OTH I’ve heard authors say that this approach works for them and increases their sales so I don’t know.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Hi Roberta – thanks for stopping by. :grin:
    I know a lot of readers go for the contests. That’s fine. Writer communities need some way of attracting readers. Where we get sneaky is the way we put our names in front of you on a constant basis and tempt you with excerpts, contests, videos, short stories and blog posts. Part of the job of a writer communities is building name recognition for the authors and finding a fun way of doing it.

  8. Shelley Munro

    Jory – I hear you on the surfing v writing. I’ve been quieter than normal because I’m hiding in the writing cave. And like you I’ve been heavy on the delete key today.

  9. Amy W.

    I’ll be the first to say that I delete any promo email I get from a site. I do read ones that come straight from authors I know and love, but not from sites where there’s too much in one shot and they usually send me too many as well.

    My favorite promo in the world is a scavenger hunt. I don’t even care if there’s a prize, or a chance to enter a drawing for a prize at the end. I love when there’s a list of books with questions that you have to go scour various author sites and read excerpts to find the answers. I usually discover new authors and books that way. So if you’re ever offer the chance to take part in one of those I say go for it!

    But then again what do I know?
    P.S. It’s a new month…who knows some new good reads for me to go get?

  10. Rhonda Barnes

    I love visiting author communities, especially Author Island and WriterSpace. They’re great places to learn about your favorite authors and the newest books.

    God Bless,
    Rhonda :razz:

  11. Shelley Munro

    Amy W – do you know about the Samhellion scavenger hunts taking place at present? Just follow the link from my Samhain section on the sidebar and you’ll find directions of how to participate. I’m in the next hunt, which starts on 4 Feb.

    Rhonda – I visit them to learn about new books too. Access Romance also offers classes for writers and photos and all sorts of things. I really like it there.

  12. Fedora

    Hi, Shelley! I’ve visited some of the sites you mentioned, and have enjoyed the excerpts and contests. For the multi-author blogs, I like the ones that combine promotion with interesting posts, and also the ones where authors do some interacting. I know authors have a ton to do, but it’s definitely a plus for me when they take the time to check back in during the day or so of their post and respond to comments–it really makes it feel much more like a conversation, and gives me a chance to get to know them a smidge. That kind of interaction hooks me and I’ll keep returning!

  13. Shelley Munro

    Hey Fedora – thanks for the comments. I agree with the interaction and the comments. I think it adds to the reader experience. (that’s why I go wearing my reader hat, which I do sometimes)

  14. Tameka Green

    Congrtas to Cheryl for winning. Great contest Shelly

  15. Tameka Green

    I love Writespace and The Romance Studio and Authorisland they’re such a great place to go to finout about upcoimg books. Also Access Romance is also a good site. Lol I’m going to have to check out the rest

  16. Shelley

    Tameka – watch out for your to-read list. It will grow really big like mine!! :mrgreen: