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Article by Write Stuff Conference Chair, Dawn Sooy
Debora Riley Magnus Headshot

We are pleased to have author and success coach Deborah Riley-Magnus return to the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ on March 23, 2019.  She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio.

Deb will be on hand Saturday, March 23, for individual marketing consult. Spaces are limited, so be sure to sign up early.

NOTE: To sign up for a consulting session, follow the instructions on the registration form. Your actual times for consult will be assigned after registration is closed, and will be attached to conference materials upon signing in.


Question – If I were to meet you at a conference, what is something you would tell me about yourself that would be intriguing. Please do not use anything from your bio.

Well, I’m a retired award-winning chef. I absolutely love to entertain and throw dinner parties. I cook almost every single day, and my favorite pastime in the world is grocery shopping. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, let me know. I’ll cook for you! And one of these days, I will write a cookbook.

Question: What have you learned from the mistakes made within marketing a product?

Most of what I learned I learned in the very beginning. At 25 (long, long ago) I owned an advertising agency and it’s so true, God IS in the details. Always remember to look for typos, especially where you don’t expect them, like in the book title, the spelling of your name, or a blog title! Never forget to be kind, honest, and courteous. It sounds silly, but people remember and the last thing you ever want to hear is that someone you met thinks you’re, well, not a nice person. It can and does effect sales! Make sure your product is true to its word, not less than advertised, and never slightly off base. For example, if it’s a horror, it’s a horror. But if it only has a horror element or two, it’s not really a horror. That’s misrepresentation with a goal to tap into an unsuspecting hard-core horror audience. That audience will NOT be happy. And finally, you always have to believe in your product and yourself. It’s a brave thing writers do, putting our hearts and souls out there for the world to read. Believing in oneself is the biggest tool we have for plowing ahead and continuing our journey. Like sensing that a person is smiling over the phone, your marketing benefits from true, personal confidence.

Question: How has the marketing field changed over the last couple of years?

The honest truth is that marketing has never changed, it’s the same thing it always was—Marketing is CREATING AWARENESS for your book or product. What has changed is the multitude of cool, new, crazy venues available to us, and most at no cost. Another thing that’s changed is the unfortunate push for authors to use a shotgun marketing approach (email blasts, shouting “Buy my book!” on random and broad collections of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, being visible where a million other authors and their books are visible.) A far more effective targeted approach should be every author’s strategy.

Authors have gotten the mistaken idea that marketing is not creative, should be done quickly, in the same places all their competition markets, and is a one-size-fits-all system. This can’t be further from the truth. Is your book like every other author’s book? Does it tell the same story? Have the same cover? Attract to the same audience? No, no, and no. So, the one-size fits-all, get-it-over-and-done-with approach to marketing does not serve authors or anyone with a product to sell. It’s the sad reason most authors spend too much money, huff, roll their eyes, and proclaim that marketing just doesn’t work. Marketing does work. What they are doing doesn’t.

Question: What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Ah, great question! It’s actually a broader question than that. It’s the difference between SELLING and ALLOWING PEOPLE TO BUY! See, marketing is all about creating relationships with a buyer based on what they love. Imagine that your product is expensive women’s purses. Would you simply shout to everyone in hearing distance that you have the perfect purse for them? Would you set up a purse display in the weight room of a local boxing gym? Would you buy all the billboards or bus ads, or newspaper ads you can to get the word out? Now that’s selling and it’s hard, expensive work. This splattered shotgun approach can expect less than .3% return on money and effort investment. The better approach for selling expensive purses would be to target wealthy women who can afford your purses. They already love the product, are known to purchase the product, and willing to purchase more of the product. That’s allowing people to buy.

It works the same for books. If you shout in Facebook Groups loaded with other authors shouting about their book, it’s hard to be heard. But if your book is about the Civil War and you target all your marketing to antique lovers, do speaking engagements at antique shops, vintage clothing shops, or Civil War weapons collector shows, you would be allowing people to buy instead of working so hard to sell them something they may not want. When you target market, always remember all those car dealerships and newspaper pages loaded with new and used cars for sale. NO ONE is looking unless they’re in the market for a car. People not interested in the Civil War just skim past your book. However, those who love Civil War history are looking for your book. Focusing your marketing on them just makes sense. That focus will also take you to places where other authors aren’t shouting for attention.

Another big difference between selling and allowing people to buy is that often authors misunderstand their audience. Just because it’s a romance does not mean that the only people who read romance are looking at that romance lovers Facebook Group. People who love romance generally are women doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING women do! Target them where they live, and shop, and exercise, and enjoy each other’s company. There are always far bigger audiences than authors think. People who read are in a lot more places than book stores and online book shouting arenas. And they’re in those other places more of the time, making them more likely to see your marketing.

* To learn about targeted marketing meet with Deb at The Write Stuff March 21-23, 2019

Question: What trends in the publishing marketplace attract your attention? (Such as, what genres are hot? Where is electronic publishing going?)

The trend that most interests me is the vast movement to improve self-published books. Authors are starting to seek serious editing, good cover artists, and looking for higher quality publishing systems (like IngramSpark) for publication. For a long time, quality was low, even for really great self-published books. Create Space made it easy, but never focused on the highest quality that can compete with traditional publishing. A struggle for self-pubbed authors has also been distribution and visibility for libraries and bookstores. Things are improving, systems for publishing are getting better, and distribution and visibility is now available. It’ll still be a little while until readers will have no clue if a book was self or traditionally published, but things are moving in that positive direction.

Regarding genres, in my mind it’s kind of like fashion trends. They come, and they go. Vampires are back. Science Fiction has gone a little quiet. At this point urban fantasy trumps dark fantasy, but what’s quiet will get loud again and vice-versa. Romance, like a classic trench coat, never seems to waver or go out of style.

Electronic publishing, e-books and e-readers are the future. We can’t stop that. Someday there will be only online libraries and bookstores with only e-books for sale or loan. Go with it, write great books, have fantastic book covers, and target market well.

Question: I heard about different types of marketing philosophies; such as stealth marketing, guerrilla marketing, viral marketing, pragmatic marketing. Can you explain what each of these topics means?

Wow, that’s an interesting question. It really speaks to the ways people try to complicate a simple process. Marketing is marketing, period. However, I can address a few of these. Guerrilla Marketing is a system and book written by Jay Conrad Levinson and Jeanine Levinson. They wrote several marketing (public relations, advertising, and publicity) books. The word “guerilla” was used to convey the need for strategic approaches to marketing. Like a military action, marketing should never be approached without careful understanding of your target, where they are, what they love, how they like to hear information, etc. It’s the best approach out there for general marketing, hands down.

Stealth marketing is a conundrum to me. Stealth indicates subtle, silent, secret. How does that work? I’ve never heard of stealth marketing, but the concept of connecting with a prospective buyer through unique hooks in your product or book are in synch with my teachings. So, if stealth marketing means connecting with lovers of the Civil War, for example, in order to draw them closer and present your book, it’s a good idea.

Viral marketing is a product of the social networks and the internet. Certain topics, like politics, elicit affairs by highly visible personalities, current gun issues, etc. can and will go viral. Some things go viral for no reason we can put a finger on. When a celebrity or political person, like Lady GaGa or Michelle Obama write a book, it goes viral. It touches on topics that are like live tinder for social media. Viral marketing isn’t something you can plan for or strive for, UNLESS you are 1) famous, and/or 2) write a book that you KNOW is a hot topic. Oh, AND you must write it fast enough to take advantage of that topic. Viral trends are fleeting and unpredictable. Pragmatic marketing?

The definition of pragmatic is:  Of relating to a practical point of view or practical considerations.

In other words, all marketing is pragmatic if done correctly. We check our pocketbook, look at our schedule and time management, determine our target audience, develop creative ways to reach them, then plow ahead to reach as many lovers of our book’s unique hooks as possible. It doesn’t make sense to be impractical. We all need a practical, pragmatic plan.

Question: Do you have a favorite or suggested reading that I could use when marketing my book?

Anything by Levinson. Guerrilla Marketing, Guerrilla Marketing & Direct Selling, Guerrilla Social Media Marketing, Guerrilla Marketing for Free, etc. When I originally read the Guerrilla books, I owned an advertising, marketing, and public relations company. All the techniques are great, cover a broad spectrum of methods for a broad product and services base. But the books do not focus on any specific industry or product.

There are hundreds of book-marketing books out there, even free books on the topic, but we all know the value of free, right? There are books on 5-minute marketing, and 30-day marketing challenges. But as I stated earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all where serious book marketing is concerned. There are books that teach you how to use Twitter, or the best ways to use Facebook (which changes constantly,) or using Instagram, or YouTube, or Pinterest for book sales. The reality is that you need to know more than how to use one or two social networks. A marketing author needs to understand how to integrate each chosen network, connect them to your target audience, intertwine them with live activities, the right message, and create the right platforms for YOUR book’s voice. Not anyone else’s book, YOURS.

My strongest suggestion for marketing your book is my book, Write Brain/Left Brain: Bridging the Gap Between Creative Writer and Marketing Author. It focuses on BOOK marketing and the creative processes involved. The book introduces create processes authors don’t realize are part of marketing. It offers strategic tools, proven techniques, and opens the door for marketing related to the specific book the author has written and how to reach that precise audience.

Debora Riley Magnus Book Cover

Here are the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts about marketing. Marketing is CREATING AWARENESS that brings sales. Good marketing helps you allow people to buy your book, and real marketing doesn’t cost a fortune or take all your time.

To meet with Deb and get her expert consultation join us at The Write Stuff March 21-23, 2019

You can learn more about Deb at her website ~ The Author Success Coach.

Her books are on Amazon and you can find her on Twitter @rileymagnus and Facebook.



Article by The Write Stuff Conference Chair – Dawn Sooy

Dawn Headshot Updated

Dawn is a native of Eastern Pennsylvania, with plenty of experience the four seasons have to offer. Armed with a Computer Science degree, she worked in the tech industry until 2012. As an animal lover, she volunteers at the local animal shelter, sneaking in treats for the four-legged residents.

As a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Dawn fulfills the duties of Secretary, Conference Chair for the 2019 GLVWG The Write Stuff Conference™, and is part of the 2019 Anthology team. She has published six short stories, the most recent, “Love Knows No Boundaries,” featured in the 2017 GLVWG anthology, “Write Here – Write Now.” She plans to contribute a story to the 2019 GLVWG anthology “Rewriting the Past.”

From the Darkness” is her first novel, self-published in March 2018. This is based on a true story about a woman with bipolar depression.

Dawn and her husband Bob reside in Kempton, PA. Between them, they have four children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.