Friday, July 12, 2013

Keep Publicizing Your Books!

Today I'd like to welcome author and guest blogger, J.L. Greger, to Kittling: Books. She'll be telling us a bit about how an author tries to negotiate the labyrinthine world of marketing. In order for them to sell, readers have to be made aware of a writer's books, but it is there such a thing as too much publicizing?

After reading her informative post, you'll be able to learn more about Janet and the mysteries she writes!


Blogs and websites, reviews of others’ books, and talks on book-related topics at libraries and meetings.

Are these activities advertisements?

I’m no marketing expert so I’ll quote an expert:

Advertising and publicity are two very different communication tools, even though both employ the mass media as a vehicle for reaching large audiences… Advertising buys its way into the media… Publicity is presented by the media because it's "newsworthy."  (Michael Turney in Online Readings in Public Relations)

I guess the answer is:  No, the activities listed at the start of this post are not advertisements. They are ways of gaining publicity for books. They all can increase name recognition and-- if done right and you’re lucky-- increase sales.

How do advertising and publicity influence our behavior?

Although publicity and advertising are different, I thought if I understood the psychology of advertising, I might do a better job at publicizing my novels. I’m guessing (if you’re still reading), you might think so, too.

Dempsey and Mitchell (Journal of Consumer Research [Dec 4, 2010] Vol. 37) found advertising sold products, not by providing factual information, but by surrounding the product with other things shoppers liked, thus creating positive attitudes about the product. At least that was true 70-80% of the time. I wondered if this ‘attitude adjustment' worked for more abstract products than toothpaste and cereal.

Could I sell more of my novels if I associated them with something pleasant in potential readers’ minds? 

That’s hard to do when you write realistic thrillers, like Coming Flu about a future deadly flu pandemic. Maybe I did a better job when I titled my second novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Most dieters would love to kill “diet doctors” who say weight loss is easy with their product.

However, this is one reason why I included Bug, my adorable Japanese Chin dog, in both novels and include his photos in my blog posts.

How much publicity is enough?

The effective frequency of advertisements (i.e. the number of times a person needs to be exposed to an ad before making a positive response) is controversial. One expert states there are three levels of response to ads: curiosity, recognition, and decision. That suggests to me that hitting an audience with publicity once about your book is usually not enough. On the other hand, bombarding groups with publicity on your book more than four or five times is probably wasteful.

Bottom line?

Many of us probably waste time on ineffective blog posts, websites, and talks, but we’ve generated more publicity for our books than those who don’t try. So keep publicizing your books!


J.L. Greger, as a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her medical mystery/suspense novels. Her novels (paperback and Kindle formats) are available on Amazon.

In Coming Flu (published June 2012), epidemiologist Sara Almquist is trying to stop two killers:  the Philippine flu, which is rapidly wiping out everyone in a walled community in New Mexico, and a drug kingpin determined to break out of the quarantined enclave.

In Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight (published March 2013), physician Linda Almquist, Sara's sister, is investigating an ambitious "diet doctor" who may be eliminating anyone who thwarts his career plans.

In the third novel of the series, Sara will be investigating public health problems and murders in Bolivia.

Thank you so much, Janet! We really appreciate your informative post about an author's thought processes in trying to navigate the tricky world of marketing and advertising!


  1. Cathy - Thanks for hosting Janet.

    Janet - Thanks for sharing your perspective on marketing. It's a really tricky balance an author has to strike between letting people know about one's books and at the same time doing it in a way that won't put readers off. Lots to think about here for which thanks.

    1. You're welcome, Margot. I'm glad you enjoyed what Janet had to say. :-)

  2. Margot,
    I hope my blog was helpful. I tried to give professional information backed up by data. Personally I think most blogs are an attempt to get attention (this could be called an advertisement) for a product, for a way of thinking or concept, to gain or keep friends, or for the individual egos. I think these different purposes (goals) enhance the variety and usefulness of blogs.
    JL Greger

  3. What a great post, and I agree with you. We have to keep pushing the books, we owe it to ourselves and our publishers.

  4. Glad you found my comments interesting. JL Greger

  5. I write mysteries for the younger crowd, the pre-teen age group, though I know the adults in the family love them, too. But the reluctant reader is also a target audience, and I'm not sure how blogging will help them find me. Perhaps most aren't bloggers. What do you think?

  6. I think there are many potential readers of my and your novels, who wouldn't be caught dead reading a blog. I wish I knew how to reach them. That's why I give talks at libraries and try to be present at a few craft and book sales. But obviously, I only reach a local audience by those means. I suppose that's why a couple major writers put ads on TV. They're trying to reaching the non-blogging audience. How do you try to reach non-bloggers?
    JL Greger


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