Random Acts of Publicity: Deborah Sloan Tips and Free Consultation

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Create Buzz by Connecting with Readers

Interview with Deborah Sloan of Deborah Sloan & Company, “A marketing and promotion firm for books and their creators.”


  1. One of the main services you offer to authors is Kids Buzz. Can you explain what it is?

    KidsBuzz is a program that lets children’s and teen authors’ voices shine in an affordable, and effective, way. KidsBuzz puts you directly in touch with readers, reading groups, booksellers, librarians and teachers allowing you to offer trailers and videos, excerpts, phone chats or visits, curriculum tie-ins, material for newsletters, info about contests and freebies, mentions of new reviews and awards — anything and everything you want to buzz directly to the people who buy, read and sell your books. This is YOU saying what you want to share with your readers.

    Readers want to hear from authors and illustrators — after all, you know your books better than anyone else, you have interesting behind-the-scenes stories that makes readers what to read — and buy. And once they’re interested, people talk — and others listen. Look at the power of Facebook: often we’re more influenced by what our friends have to say that the most seasoned critic (though we’ll take those positive reviews when we get them for sure!). We’ve run notes from bestselling authors as well as up-and-coming authors and illustrators. Many authors and publishers have had such good success, they’ve booked spots for their other titles (more than 60% of our KidsBuzzers have come back for more!).

  2. Kids Buzz is a newsletter for librarians and readers (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.), booksellers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing industry folk and more. Do you suggest that author maintain their own mailing list and send out newsletters?

    ABSOLUTELY! There are many readers who become author groupies and what to know anything and everything about their favorite authors and illustrators, what’s coming up, when new books will be published — and these fans are your ambassadors and e-newsletters are terrific ways to reach them. They will spread the buzz to their friends, family, colleagues and help that groundswell of interest every authors wants. Many authors have e-newsletters (that are run via sites like Constant Content and Mail Chimp, for example) which makes it easy to handle subscriptions) and sharing info with your readers when YOU feel it’s worthwhile, in YOUR voice, is a win-win.

    But how can you help your Friend? Make it personal:

    • In your enewsletter, share a Top 10 list of Recent Favorite Reads (use book covers, use author photos, share author videos); make this a regular feature (can be favorite picture books, favorite books on summer, favorite books from around-the-world, etc.). Put the spotlight on someone else and it’ll come to shine on you.
    • Offer giveaways of your friends’ books (I’m sure each would be happy to give you a copy for the promotion) via your enewsletter, social networking (perhaps each of the giveaways comes with a note from you as to WHY you love this book; put your personal stamp on it)
    • Create a 30 second video wrap-up for these favorite books? Impassioned video statements? Reach out to those authors/publishers by sharing the link — they’re likely to share it with their fans via their blogs, social media networks, etc.
    • Be a cheerleader (yes, you can summon up your inner rah-rah!): do a regular feature on one of your favorite authors, something full of WHY this author should be read.

    Whatever you do, make it sound like YOU. As the kids say, be real. It works.

  3. On Kids Buzz, you offer:
    • Contests for readers
    • Free early reading copies
    • Free signed books
    • News about tours
    • New reviews
    • Giveaways
    • Essays & Excerpts
    • Book Group Speaking availability (in person or on the phone)

    I”m sure that all of these are important and useful for various books. But what is most popular and do you have a sense of why it’s popular?

    KidsBuzz authors report that the contest for free signed copies or early reading copies are hugely successful — I get emails from authors within minutes of KidsBuzz running saying that their in-boxes are full. But what’s key to remember about this is not just getting the emails, but responding to them. Not everyone who writes in is going to win a free book, but it provides you as chance to interact with your reader, tell them something else, ask them to join your enewsletter/Facebook page, etc. And readers love getting mail from authors! Imagine how excited you’d be if your favorite — or even just a new author — wrote directly to you?! These readers tell their friends (“I’m so excited, you’ll never believe that I got a personal email from author XX who wrote a book that’s just right for my 10 year old son — and I bet yours will like it too…” type stuff) and this is how sales are made. In the publishing industry, when booksellers recommend a book to customers, with a personal endorsement or just a great story-behind-the-story, we call it “handselling;” that’s what freebie offers or any type of special to the reader does… It helps to handsell the book to that customers — and subsequently, their friends.

    One more thing though: all the special promos and offers are nothing compared to a strong note from the author. Readers still want the real story, they want to feel like they’ve shared a minute with their favorite author, and they want to tell that story to their friends. Provide your Friend with a way to connect with readers and you’ve done a Random Act of Publicity.

Win a One-Hour Consultation with Deborah Sloan

Deborah Sloan and Company has offered a free one-hour marketing consultation to one lucky person. This one-day opportunity ends at midnight on September 8.

Here are the rules:

  • Winners will be selected on a random basis.
  • You must put your friend’s name, book title and website (if they have one) in the comments below. Deadline: Midnight September 8, 2011.
  • By entering your friend in this giveaway, you agree that you have the friend’s permission to do so.
  • Phone consultations will be done at a mutually agreed upon time.

Random Acts of Publicity Week was created by Darcy Pattison (www.darcypattison.com), writing teacher and author of Prairie Storms (www.facebook.com/PrairieStorms) , as a way to help create an atmosphere of fun and collaboration in marketing books. It occurs each September, the four days following Labor Day.

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13 Comments
  • M. G. King
    September 8, 2011

    I would like to recommend Lynne Kelly and her beautiful middle grade novel CHAINED (FSG, Spring 2012). http://lynnekellybooks.com/wordpress/

  • Colleen Ryckert Cook
    September 8, 2011

    I’d like to recommend Bridget Brewster Heos and her What to Expect nonfiction series about baby animals. Her most recent book is What to Expect when You’re Expecting Joeys, which recently received a starred Kirkus review. You can find her at http://www.authorbridgetheos.com/

    Darcy and everyone involved, thanks so much for these great opportunities!

  • Colleen Ryckert Cook
    September 8, 2011

    I’d like to recommend Bridget Brewster Heos and her What to Expect nonfiction series about baby animals. Her third book in the series, What to Expect When You’re Expecting Joeys, recently received a starred Kirkus review. You can find her at http://www.authorbridgetheos.com/

  • Ana Maria Rodriguez
    September 8, 2011

    My friend’s name is Marianne Dyson, her book is “Space Station Science”, and her website is http://mariannedyson.com/
    Thank you!

  • Lynne Kelly
    September 8, 2011

    My friend Monica Vavra has us laughing out loud with her new midgrade series she’s writing for Penguin/Grosset & Dunlap. The first I HEART BAND book will be released in the Fall of 2012!

    http://willwrite4cake.blogspot.com/

  • Sandy Brehl
    September 8, 2011

    I checked the KidsBuzz site and can’t find a place to subscribe to the free newsletter. Didn’t see it in your post, either. Am I missing something obvious?
    Sounds very helpful in steering kids to authors and books.

  • Linda Leschak
    September 8, 2011

    My friend’s name is Kathryn Magendie and her wonderful book is called Sweetie. You can find both of them hanging out at http://www.KathrynMagendie.com.

  • Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
    September 8, 2011

    Today I’m championing Paula Jolin. My favorite of her books is In the Name of God, a dark but hopeful look at how a teen in the Syria could be drawn into terrorism. You can find her here: http://www.paulajolin.com

  • Gail Handler
    September 8, 2011

    I’d like to recommend my friend Fiona Page.
    Her email is: fiona@fionapage.com
    Website: http://www.fionapage.com
    Book Title & Publisher: Bettina the Bold: A Blind Butterfly Learns How to Make Friends.
    Publishers: Seescape Press

  • Nikki Loftin
    September 8, 2011

    I would LOVE to recommend my friend Jessica Lee Anderson’s book, Calli, coming out soon from Milkweed Editions. Her website is http://www.jessicaleeanderson.com.
    Thanks!!

  • Mona Pease
    September 8, 2011

    I’m pleased to recommend Brenda Sturgis.
    Her book: Ten Turkeys in the Road
    released September 1, 2011

    Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

    find Brenda at:

    bsturgis@metrocast.net

    http://www.brendareevessturgis.com

    Thanks so much for this opportunity.

  • Sarah P.
    September 8, 2011

    I nominate the incredible Michael Lawrence for his Aldous Lexicon trilogy.
    His website is: http://www.wordybug.com

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
    September 8, 2011

    I’m going with Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson: http://www.jessicaleeanderson.com/

    Thank you for the opportunity!