Over-the-Top BookEnds Marketing Strategies

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Nov 06 2008

At the request of a reader I’ve asked BookEnds clients to give us some of their most over-the-top marketing strategies. Here’s what some of them said . . .

Setting up a MySpace page has been a huge surprise—it’s free and takes very little time to keep current. I’ve gotten lots of new readers who “friended” me, not necessarily because they’re readers but because they like wolves, and the title of my series is Wolf Tales. They’ve gone on to buy my entire series and even post my book trailers on their own MySpace sites. Plus, they appear more comfortable contacting me through the private message link on MySpace than they might through regular email. I like the direct connection it allows me with readers.
—Kate Douglas, author of Wolf Tales


I write about a gang of Harley-riding biker witches, and of course did a lot of research with real-life bikers. I had a signing coming up at Barnes & Noble and invited them along. A few of them showed up and parked their huge hogs right next to the “Angie Fox: here today” sign. I did the scheduled reading from The Accidental Demon Slayer, and then sat back and had a blast telling stories with my real-life research buddies. Readers loved it—so much so that we ended up selling out of The Accidental Demon Slayer.
—Angie Fox, author of The Accidental Demon Slayer


For my recently released historical romance, The Dangerous Duke, I kidnapped my characters and forced them to do promotional work for me. Lady Kate and Max have a blog: https://dangerousdiary.blogspot.com and they have appeared as guests on blogs such as Romance Bandits and Jennifer’s Random Musings.
—Christine Wells, author of The Dangerous Duke


To “prove” that my books are entertaining, I entertain crowds by holding “How To Plot A Murder” talks. These are audience-participation events and are hilarious and lighthearted, mini-mysteries that can be done with a dozen people or with hundreds. I tailor the script to the group and bring all the props. The audience does the rest. The idea is to generate a buzz—not just the night of the event, but for days or weeks afterward. I’m going for word-of-mouth sales with these talks and I find them ten times more effective than bookstore signings.
—J. B. Stanley, author of Stiffs and Swine: A Supper Club Mystery


To play up our Renaissance Faire themed mystery, we are visiting Renaissance fairs and festivals this fall. We have Renaissance clothing and even created a banner with the cover art that can be displayed at the festivals because it’s made of cloth. We made up a simple game we can play with would-be book buyers at the festivals that incorporates elements of the story.
—Joyce and Jim Lavene, Wicked Weaves


Whenever I do a book signing, I make sure that I have one-page handouts that include a cover of the book, a BRIEF synopsis, three key points about the book, an author photo and BRIEF bio. On the back side, I cut and paste reviews from Amazon and any media quotes. I hand out the flyers to EVERYONE who walks through the door and begin talking up my book, or, if they seem disinterested (or alarmed) I give them a flyer and let them know I’m available for questions and to talk more about the book when they’re ready. Many circle back around and talk to me and end up buying a book, and some just take the paper home (and perhaps order later on). But a simple handout like this gives me a tool to reach more potential readers; especially as I leave any extras at the register and ask that clerks slip them into the buyers’ bags when checking out. I also make a few products from my book and make an eye-catching display: this draws a lot of people over!
—Helen Coronato, author, Eco-Friendly Families


I’ve used Myspace to contact libraries, booksellers, and cozy mystery authors. (I had quite a good response from indy booksellers when I offered bookmarks.) I have a blog that I mirror post on Myspace (splitting it for
either of my author names), and LiveJournal, and I’m part of the group blog Writers Plot. I send out a lot of bookmarks to readers. I have a periodic (electronic) newsletter, and I take on just about every appearance that’s offered to me. I’ve also found a lot of new readers on cozy mystery (Yahoo!) reader lists.
—Lorna Barrett, Murder Is Binding

14 responses to “Over-the-Top BookEnds Marketing Strategies”

  1. Avatar linda hall says:

    I have to say those are all very interesting and some of them (if I ever happen to sell) I will definitely use. I’m quite shy typically, but some of them just seem like so much fun I have to try it.

    Thank you ladies for all your wonderful ideas!

  2. Avatar Kimber An says:

    Oh, I love the biker thing! What fun!

  3. Avatar EilisFlynn says:

    I know an NYT bestselling author who has found MySpace enormously useful. In fact, she hired a virtual assistant specifically to keep up with her page and to keep track of her friends list there. Who would have thought?!

  4. Avatar beckylevine says:

    I just read Angie’s book, so I’ve got a great image of the crowd at her signing. Great, fun story!

  5. I love the “HOW TO PLOT A MURDER” talks. That cracks me up. So totally Fight Club-esque.

    Damn, i think i’ll do that. Everybody, be sure to check out my future talks: “HOW TO BE A TERRORIST: Special Sermon given by a Muslim punk rocker”

  6. Nathan Brandsford had a guest blogger a few weeks back,an author who blogged over several days on this very subject..marketing and promotion…worth a peek…

  7. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    One thing I’ve discovered I really hate is regular book signings. Instead, I make appointments with my readers (through my newsletter) at various bookstores throughout the country when my husband and I travel, and we make one hour stops to just sit and visit with the small groups who attend. Much more fun and, considering the content of my books, a great way to insure that the nuts don’t pop out of the woodwork, which has happened at regular book signings.

  8. Avatar Juliana says:

    LOL Kate….do elaborate!

  9. Avatar Anonymous says:

    R.I.P. Michael Crichton!

  10. Avatar WendyCinNYC says:

    I have a friend who wrote a book about a woman who wished she lived a glamorous life like Audrey Hepburn. For her book signings, she somehow convinced a large group of women (friends and readers alike) to dress up like Audrey and attend the signing in Greenwich Village. The Audreys even ended up on the Today Show!

  11. Avatar Briane P says:

    Contacting people who would have an interest in the subject of your book makes good sense — the bikers and all.

    Other ideas I’ve heard are a “blog tour,” where the author guest-blogs; I use “Gather” to promote some of my things, too; I love the feedback the readers there give.

  12. Avatar AstonWest says:

    I’ll second the notion of guest blogs. Every time I do one, I notice a definite increase in the amount of traffic I draw to my website (and increases in the amount of books sold, based on the indicators)

  13. Avatar Angie Fox says:

    Those get togethers sound like so much fun, Kate. Now how to lure you to St. Louis…

  14. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    LOL…Angie, I was in St. Louis and met with readers just last June. It was great! Join my newsletter (link on http://www.katedouglas.com) and you’ll know when/where we’re headed next. Actually, I think the next trip will be the Southwest, with stops in Las Vegas and throughout Arizona. Should be fun! (That’s coming at the end of March, early April 2009)