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July 22, 2011

Promotion Secrets with Author Maria Zannini

My special guest today is author, Maria Zannini who recently self-published a paranormal romance called The Devil to Pay. Maria has been out on the virtual road with the Indie Roadshow where she tells writers about her self-publishing journey and the things she’s learned along the way. Today Maria is talking about promotion, which I know is something many writers struggle with and don’t enjoy. Over to Maria…

The Indie Roadshow

Psst. Do you want to know the secret to good promotion? You might be surprised when I tell you because it’s been in front of you the whole time.

Ready for it?

You have to find the reader, rather than wait for him to find you. And when you do find him you have to talk to your reader and keep him engaged.

Book promotion is time consuming, expensive, and there are no guarantees that your efforts will bear fruit. But a lot of your labor can be cut in half if you focus on the reader and what S/HE needs.

Think about yourself as a reader. You just finished a fantastic book from a new-to-you author and you decide to Google the author to learn more about her. When you reach her blog, all you find are advertisements for more books. It feels like a bit of letdown, doesn’t it?

To attract the reader your best bet is to go to his haunts. And when it comes to indie publishing most of those avid readers will be found at book blogs, reading forums, book clubs, and book outlets (like Amazon).

Most of these outlets are free to you, though some might require asking for an invitation to appear. Others, like Goodreads and Shelfari welcome you as long as you keep the pimping low-key.

And there’s still room for legitimate advertising. LASR (Long and Short Reviews) and The Romance Studio are two I’ve used. Both offer low-priced packages and get a ton of traffic.

Here are a list of options for you to consider that are either low cost or no cost.

Buy advertising packages at a book-centric web sites. (Make sure they get a lot of traffic.)
• LASR (Long and Short Reviews)
• The Romance Studio
Coffee Time Romance
• All Romance ebooks

Share yourself
• Guest blogging. Double your mileage and blog at places where you’re lesser known.
• Forums, such as Kindleboards, Absolute Write Water Cooler, and genre-specific forums

Talk to book bloggers about:
• Reviews
• Interviews
• Guest posts

Give your book away
Liz Fichera had a marvelous idea when she gave away her arc for Craving Perfect to ten people who would agree to review it. With an indie book, there are no limitations on how many books you can give away. Be generous. Word of mouth is priceless.

Go where the readers are like:

Finally, don’t leave out television and radio. It might be difficult to nab a guest spot, but if you have a small station locally, you’ll reach an audience you might not otherwise find.

It’s scary to put yourself out there because you don’t always know how you’ll be received, but if you’ve written the best book you can, all that’s left is to be the kind of author people want to know.

And I’ll tell you my personal secret for promoting myself. I comment on many different blogs. Not a ‘hi, I like your site’ comment, but something personal and thoughtful. If you leave short and intriguing comments, I promise you, people will follow you back.


I hope you’ll follow along with the rest of the Indie Roadshow as I share the things I learned on my road to self-publishing.

The Devil to Pay

The Devil To Pay is available at Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It is the first book of the series, Second Chances.

Synopsis: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and bad tequila. Shannon McKee finds herself at the end of her rope, and she bargains her soul in a fit of despair.

Shannon’s plea is answered immediately by two men who couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they share a bond and an affection for the stubborn Miss McKee that even they don’t understand.

When Heaven and Hell demand their payment, Shannon has no choice but to submit. No matter who gets her soul, she’s not getting out of this alive.

Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.

Follow me on Facebook or my blog.


  1. Maria Zannini

    You are a sweetheart for letting me shanghai your blog for the day. Thanks, Shelley.

    I even brought virtual dog cookies for Bella.

    • Shelley Munro

      You’re very welcome, Maria. Bella says thanks for the cookies.

  2. Abby Niles

    Great post! I struggle with promotion. The idea of putting myself in the spotlight makes me cringe. I’m always worried I’m going to say the wrong thing or come across as some weird chick that is actually going to put people off my books instead of entice them to buy. I’m my own worst enemy with that. I need to get over it, huh? LOL

    Fantastic cover and blurb, btw! Added to my TBR pile!

    • Maria Zannini

      Hi Abby,

      I try to find things that are relatable and interesting to other people. I’ve found that if I choose topics I find interesting, chances are good other people will too.

  3. Angelina Rain

    Such a great post, as always. So much advice that I need to follow. Some authors come up with such interesting ways to market their books. I remember when author Tali Roland was coming out with “The Hating Game”. She created this “one girl takes over Amazon” web splash. She encouraged people to buy her book on one preselected day. So, everyone bought her book on Amazon on that day, making her appear in the top 20 on their bestsellers list. It was a very smart move making her into an overnight bestseller.

    • Maria Zannini

      Angelina: It took guts to do that, but that’s outside my comfort zone.

      I’d rather people buy my books because they thought I was a good storyteller. A blitz sell can backfire. I’ve seen it happen before.

      The best advice I ever got was from Angela James who said if I wanted to sell books I had to build my back list. I didn’t believe it at first, but I do now. It’s working.

      • Shelley Munro

        I definitely agree about a backlist, Maria. The more books you have to sell the easier it becomes. You’re able to market your name rather than an individual book.

  4. Jan Romes

    Maria, since I’m a newbie at promotion too, I thank you for sharing your ideas. Wanted to share one as well. Kindle Post where you can feature your book (Not sure if that is part of Kindle Forum?). They also have the Tiny Newsletter, where you can design your newsletter. Check out: http://www.tinyletter.com
    You may already be aware of those, but they were new to me this morning and I wanted to share. Have a great weekend!

    Jan Romes
    contemporary romance
    One Small Fib, e-book from The Wild Rose Press (available Sept. 7th)

    • Maria Zannini

      Hi Jan,

      Thank you for the link for Tiny Newsletter! I tried Googling Kindle Post but I’m not sure if I found what you had mentioned.

      If you find the link again, let us know.

      Great tips!

  5. Angela Brown

    Promoting is one of the angles of the writing career I REALLY need to learn a lot about. This is a great post and certainly one to bookmark. The suggestions in the blog and comments are AWESOME!

    Thank you so much!

    • Maria Zannini

      Glad it was useful, Angela.

      I love it when people chip in their experiences on what worked for them.

  6. Raelyn Barclay

    I’m far from having a book to promote but these are excellent tips. Thank you for sharing them Maria!

    I’m bookmarking this for future reference :)

    • Maria Zannini

      The one thing you can do now before you have a book out is make yourself visible. Believe me, you want as many people as possible to know who you are before you make your debut.

  7. Catherine Bybee

    The world of promotion seems to change every day. But you make some great points.

    • Maria Zannini

      Catherine: I think promo boils down to one tenet: communication.

  8. Jackie B Central Texas

    Maria your kinder gentler approach to promoting your self/your work is much appreciated… I totally get the “leper” analogy you used on your own blog post earlier too, there are some on Twitter daily who need to back off a bit… Glad you stuck with it and have built up a good solid foundation of places to “pimp” that are acceptable venues, would have missed out on some good times if not for us finding each other through goodreads and the blogs!

    • Maria Zannini

      Jackie: I really don’t like to be pushy. The sales will come. Maybe not as fast as I would like, but no one said I had to win the race today. :)

      • Jackie B Central Texas

        Maria no you don’t and as long as you stay in the race I will continue to read your work.

  9. Amanda Borenstadt

    Great post! Very helpful. :)

    • Maria Zannini

      Glad you found it helpful, Amanda. :)

  10. Shelley Munro


    I know when I first signed a contract, the learning curve was very steep. I got some great advice, but a writer still has to stumble a bit at the start and try to decide what to do first.

    If you were a brand new author, with a release coming out in two months, what would be the first thing you’d do to start the promotion machine rolling?

    • Maria Zannini

      Ref: If you were a brand new author, with a release coming out in two months, what would be the first thing you’d do to start the promotion machine rolling?

      That’s a very good question. I think if it were me, and I only had a couple of months to debut, I would talk to every reviewer/book blogger I knew who read the kind of books I write and ask to be put on their review queue.

      • Shelley Munro

        Great advice again. Sometimes the lead time to release date is very short, and it makes having those relationships very valuable.

    • Jenny Schwartz

      What a scary question! and it was pretty much my situation when Carina Press launched last year. I had a couple of ebooks out already, but hadn’t done anything about promoting them — so I was pretty much a newbie.

      From my experience, I’d say there are things you can do before your book is even accepted for publication — get on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, whatever. Find out where and how you are comfortable doing social media. Start reading and commenting at review sites, the places where readers hang out. You want to get some degree of friendly name recognition–and I’d say, just as importantly, you want to build your own confidence in interacting online. Of course, you can try to cram all this into your two months (along with building a website, a blog and a blog tour), but you’ll be a lot less stressed if the social media is in place.

      Maria, you share the best advice!

      • Maria Zannini

        Ref: Maria, you share the best advice!

        Brought to you by the School of Hard Knocks. :)

  11. Barbara Ann Wright

    Great tips, Maria. I will definitely bookmark this. I’ve never visited shelfari, but it sounds fun.

    • Maria Zannini

      I was on Shelfari, The Red Room, and Library Thing, but I had to thin out the herd.

      Goodreads was the easiest for me to learn, so that’s the one that won.

  12. Regan

    Great advice, Maria. And what perfect timing for me because I don’t know anything about this. I will definitely look into those book-centric web sites you mentioned. I’ve been mentioning my book on Facebook, my blog, twitter and Goodreads, but had wondered what else I could do to get the word out. All the comments are great too. I guess I better get busy visiting some of those review blogs. Great post. Good luck with your new book. It sounds terrific.

  13. Maria Zannini

    Regan: Do what’s comfortable and affordable both in time and money. Don’t feel you have to do it all.

  14. Cate Masters

    Great post, Maria. Even after two years at it, I still consider myself a novice. I’m not sure what works and what doesn’t, it’s impossible to quantify. Probably the best advice remains – write the best book possible.

    • Maria Zannini

      So true, Cate. If there was a magic pill for easy self promotion we’d all be taking it.

      In the end, it’s all about the work.

  15. sandra cox

    Great post, Maria. I think we all need the proverbially nudge when it comes to promotion.

    • Maria Zannini

      Sandra, trust me, I had to be taken into promotion kicking and screaming. –and I used to design advertising for a living!