Success Stories: Marketing Novels

First Novel from a Smaller Publisher

“Good news re first time novelists! As Editorial Director for Spinsters Ink, I chose The Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish as my first book for our newly acquired company. I was halfway through the manuscript and was so very excited by this book that I called Kris and asked her if it was a multiple submission. It was not. I told her I was halfway through it and that I wanted it! Her reply was, “But you're only halfway through it!” Never mind.

“Long story short: we published the book in July. It made the pick for Small Press Review Sept/Oct., BookSense 76 pick for Nov./Dec., and Publishers Weekly pick in December. It caught the eye of a book buyer for BookWorks in Albuquerque, Susan Wasson, who put it in the hands of every publishers rep she could find. The book is phenomenal and has become a favorite of bookclubs. Now the best news! We have sold world rights to Bantam/Dell! They will come out with the trade paperback in June.

“So much for first time novelists! Kris did have two nonfiction books in her bag and she is a professional journalist, so her credentials are there. We loved the book and marketed it with all our power. It is often the small publishers that stick their necks out, take the plunge, and only occasionally come up with the prize! This is the first time in Spinsters Ink 25-year history that such a sale has been made. Let's hear it for the small publishers!” — Sharon Silvas, Editorial Director, Spinster's Ink. Web:

HarperCollins Does Something Right

For Jon Evans novel, Invisible Armies, HarperCollins has not only produced a great cover, but also an attractive book trailer to sell people on reading the book. And they now offer an Author Tracker service where readers can sign up to receive notice of their favorite HarperCollins authors' new books, tour dates, and promotions.

Now that's three things that a larger publisher is doing right. Who knows what they'll think of next.


Author Tracker: “Receive notice of Jon Evans's new books, tour dates, and promotions. Sign up now! Enter your email address below.”

Booksignings: Harrah's Hotels and Casinos

Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of 22 bestselling novels, is doing an exclusive book tour for her latest novel, The Ravenscar Dynasty, via the Harrah's Hotels and Casinos around the U.S. Starting on January 8th, she will kick off a 22-city tour exclusively at Harrah's. Not only will she be feted with a traditional English tea reception at each hotel, but she will also do an author presentation, sign books for the general public, and do a private VIP reception at each venue. Her appearances at the hotels will be the first author events ever held at the hotels.

Bradford has sold more than 80 million copies of her novels worldwide since 1979. Ten of her novels have been produced as TV moves or mini-series. Her novel, A Woman of Substance, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Web:

Now that the ice has been broken, perhaps Harrah's will be open to more author appearances. Check with your local hotel or casino if you have the right book for them.

Provocative Publisher

Kunati Books, a growing publisher of provocative and controversial titles, has generated more than 2 million unique visits since March of this year! If you do a Google search for provocative publisher, Kunati hits number one and two plus the publisher Derek Armstrong hits number six.

Reviews of their eight spring titles include “impressive” from Publishers Weekly, “a publisher to watch” from Booklist, and “absolutely charming, sure to enrage” from Kirkus.

Alas: This company has had some problems of late.

“Just wanted you to know that one of the many reasons that I have sold thousands of books, and will continue to do so is because of power-packed info that you send out to authors. This e-mail alone has given me at least four new ideas to get my books into even more hands.” — Kevin Wayne Johnson, Writing for the Lord Ministries.

He's Fine ... But Is He Saved?

“Things are still going great on this end, 10,000 copies in print so far (6500 sold) and it's only been out six months. One of my national distributors, Midpoint Trade, secured an end cap promotion with Barnes & Nobles (they purchased 600 books for 113 stores nationwide) and Borders and Waldenbooks asked for 3,000 (1,500 each).

“So things are off and running, however demand is exceeding cash flow, as you know most distributors pay in 60-90 days (one distributor owes for 200 books and the invoice is 5 months old—and I know they sold out of my books because they asked for 300 more when I had to remind them they owed for the first 200), then there's the cost of ongoing promotions and book tours (phew!). But, other than that, things are great! I'm selling at TD Jakes' MegaFest in Atlanta in August.

“Thanks for all your email tips, and any other info you may have would be greatly appreciated. God bless you!”

— Kim Brooks. Web:

John's Comments: Her novel sales are going great. But she does have a cash flow problem—as do many smaller publishers. What can you do about a cash-flow problem? The key is have more direct sales to customers so you have a steady income while you wait for distributor payments.

This means sales from your web site as well as sales after talks and speeches you give as well as sales to catalogs, corporations, and associations. In Kim's case, sales to churches should also be a good market that she can develop locally and then spread out regionally and then nationally. Most of these sales can be made with Net 30 or direct payments so you don't have a long lag time for incoming money.

Her sales at TD Jakes' event should be good, but she could also be selling direct to consumers at any church festivals or events.

Meanwhile, I always appreciate any God Bless You's that I receive. I can use all the prayers and blessings anyone wants to offer. In turn, God bless all of you for reading my ezine and for your efforts in selling good books. You are always in my prayers. And since my dogs also think well of you, you all are doubly blessed.

Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel

Jeffrey Marks's Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, was nominated for Anthony and Macavity awards. Check out the book at The book, published by Deadly Alibi Press, sells for $18.99. Here is a short excerpt from the book:

“When I received the advance for my first book, I invested the money into promotions. I’ve known a myriad of authors who have spent their advances on cars, appliances, or to quit their day job. Then when they realize that book promotions require a certain amount of cash, they have to dip into their own pocketbooks. Even so, by then the window of opportunity might be closed for the book. That’s the reality of publishing. You’ll need to promote yourself. No one is as committed or concerned about your career as you are. So you’ll be your number one resource in making your book sell thousands of copies.”

Fiction Authors: Speak Up and Sell More Books

Wall Street Journal recently contrasted two new fiction releases: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks.

According to the Journal, the reasons for the great success of The Historian vs. the more modest success of The Traveler were, as follows:

  • Kostova's excellence at public speaking (Twelve Hawks, on the other hand, refused to be interviewed or tour)
  • Her January prepublication tour
  • Her publication tour
  • Her ability to connect with booksellers, especially independents
  • The fact that a tale about vampires is generally more appealing than a science fiction novel.

If you get out and speak — and make friends by creating relationships — then you will be successful as a novelist. Anything less simply won't create the magic word-of-mouth for your novel.

Author Promotions: The Wet Noodle Posse

“I'm a member of the Wet Noodle Posse (the name is enough to garner some curiosity), which is made up of the finalists in the 2003 Golden Heart contest (Romantic Writers Association). We banded together and launched, an ezine for women. We recently added a blog and put an ad in Romantic Times magazine. We mention the Posse anytime one of us does an interview, teaches a class, makes a speech, and refer to it in our private blogs a lot. Word is beginning to spread.” — Pam Payne

Great work! This posse is a great idea that more authors should be participating in. Like-minded writers with a similar audience banding together to do group promotions — that's something I've advocated since I began in this business. And it's still a great idea. Not only for fiction writers but also for others.

With romance readers, obviously, this promotion should work out really well since such readers are known to read five to ten new novels every month. If they like one of the books written by the Posse, chances are that they will also like some of the others — and will take a chance on buying several other titles. Maybe I'll write a romance so I can join the Posse.

Copyright © 2010 by novel marketing expert John Kremer

Open Horizons, P O Box 2887, Taos NM 87571