Sunday, November 8, 2009

Publicist Deborah Riley-Magnus Tells Us "It's Only a Meatball!"

Welcome Deborah Riley-Magnus, publicist and writeaholic,

With all your marketing and advertising background tell us something that newly published authors (or soon to be published) need to know that isn't usually talked about.

I’d like to start with a riddle. What do you get when you start with an artist who went into advertising, spent 20+ years in marketing and PR, radio and television … then became a chef … and though it all wrote like a madwoman?

You get a publicist with eclectic views on problem solving, a sense of humor and a hunger to not only tell stories of her own, but get the word out about wonderful stories other authors have written. 

You get me. A person who likes to cook inside and outside the kitchen.

Something I’ve discovered is that most new authors simply can’t grasp the positive nature of the huge shifts happening in the publishing industry today. Everything from cutbacks in what a traditional publisher will do to market an author to what Wal-Mart will do to sell books, can easily seem ominous. It’s sent many writers into a frenzy of desperation, leaping at vanity presses, self publishing, e-publishing, and indie publishing (all wonderful, viable options) only to discover that writing a book and getting people to buy it are two different universes. And guess what, those authors with the big publishing house contracts are learning the same lesson you just learned.

The first thing authors and soon to be published authors need to do is stop panicking, stop dissing the literary agencies, book sellers and publishers and open their eyes. New and exciting publishing opportunities are opening and developing, evolving and peeking up all around us. It’s like having a tarot reading, when that death card shows it’s face it means two things: the end of something and the beginning of something else.

Not only the industry gets to be creative at riding this unpredictable tide either … so do authors. We can close our eyes in terror and hope for the best, or we can throw up our hands and see the joy and promise of the ride.

Think hybrid … think outside the box that holds the box … think unique. Possibilities abound and with the shifting paradigm comes a freedom to experiment with marketing approaches we’d have been told simply wouldn’t work a few years ago. Yup, they do work and I’m trudging those new, unexplored avenues everyday for my clients.

To have written a novel, done the research, polished the plot and characters and not gone that extra mile to identify specific marketing paths to reach the audience for your novel is no longer acceptable. So many authors gripe at me when I say these things, explaining that all they should have to do is write. The world has changed and only the brave who change with it … or better yet, take part in reforming it … will find success.

Think of your writing as a business. Of course, that’s not a new concept, but really … a business. Have a product (your book), a platform (what makes you and your book visible and interesting to buyers), a business plan (controlling any and all expenditures) and a lot of balls. Balls to juggle silly, not what you were thinking although a strong commitment and bold attitude is important.

Juggling is a performance entailing illusion, timing and creativity. It involves distracting the audience and focusing them where you want them to look. It’s not quite slight of hand but it is a show. You are the performer when you get your book published, make no mistake about it. And your performance as a marketer will have a huge hand in whether you disappear into the din or dazzle and succeed.

There, I’ve said all the things most authors cover their ears not to hear. The success of the industry and your book is in your hands.

What’s the best way to handle marketing in a down economy?

It’s not brain surgery, it’s only a meatball!

Marketing in a down economy should be looked at the same way as marketing in a strong economy. No one should overspend for marketing. Ever. No one should accept mediocre or less than sterling marketing packages from any media, no matter how the bank balance looks.

I’m always amazed when people seize up because of the economy. If they’d been approaching their marketing correctly and efficiently in the first place, they should continue to do so now. We just won’t be making the stew with Black Angus tenderloin, we’ll be using sirloin or chuck, cooking it longer and watching the seasoning more carefully to get the same results. Don’t use the economy as an excuse to feel defeated. Writers get enough of that elsewhere. The key to a down economy is to be successful in spite of it. Use your money wisely, get good advice and have a powerful message.

No budget? There are hundreds of ways to get the word out. Press releases can be sent out on free online services. Targeted phone calls take little time. Social market your butt off. Tell everyone you know from your dentist to your vet to your mailman and old college friends that you’ve written a book. Everyone knows someone, don’t ever forget that. With every mention your circle of influence grows. Talk to local radio stations and book stores. Get a buzz going. A smile, a few connections and a good platform can sell a few cases of books each time the author does an appearance.

Tough economy or not, good planning and creative, effective approaches are standard requirements. There are experts, books and programs everywhere to assist. Don’t be one of those authors who think this stuff isn’t for them. Be one of those authors who laughs all the way to the bank. Tomorrow you’ll start writing your next book while they’re still grousing over what they don’t want to do. Paralysis is the worst enemy. After courageously writing a book and getting it published, why go all coward about blaring your horn? Toot away! If a down economy means people are buying fewer books, then you need to make SURE your book is the one purchased.

Talk about your book(s).
My books?  Not “How to Market for Authors”, that’s for sure, LOL. In addition to handling publicity for my various clients, I have several writing projects.

For years I’ve run a successful writing website. It features and promotes published and unpublished authors with interviews and sneak peeks of their work one week, and fanfiction the next week. I also have my author’s site which I struggle to keep updated (just like I advise my clients) and a blog which I update twice a week.

I am working on the first of a Paranormal Romance series, the book entitled Cold in California, and I’m also developing a cookbook entitled Who Says Vampires Don’t Eat: Recipes for the Loving Vampires in Your Life. The cookbook is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the emotional, psychic, mother-in-law, teenaged and nosey neighborhood vampires every cook deals with. It’s interspersed with narrative and filled with my recipes.

My goal is to market both books together, bouncing the publicity ping from one to the other. I’ll be doing cooking demonstrations at author events and hopefully selling both books in tangent. Just as Cold in California is a series, so will the cookbook be. I’ve already begun testing recipes for further Vampires Don’t Eat cookbooks focusing on young people surviving away at college, bachelors, entertaining and kids. I’m having a blast!

I love your marketing plan! And definitely will come to your book signings.Thanks for stopping by to talk about the elephant and the meatball.

Deborah Riley-Magnus has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations. She is a voracious writer, producing pieces weekly for various websites and working on several novels. Her business, Magnus Consulting, focuses on unique and original creative problem solving for her clients who are primarily authors. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives, works and writes in Los Angeles, California. 


   Contact Debbie at:
Magnus Consulting
Publicity - Marketing - Promotions 
19009 South Laurel Park Road  #2 -  Los Angeles CA 90220
(310) 637-1424  - C (310) 779-1046
(website under construction)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I like my meatballs with a bit of pork in them.
    Trying to keep the port out of my books is a bit harder!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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