Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Promotion - what works?

In June last year, I discovered Six Sentence Sunday. This is a regular, weekly bloghop. You sign up each week (between Wednesday and Saturday), and on Sunday you post six sentences (no more, no less) from either a published work or your WIP.

The trick, of course, as with any excerpt you post anywhere, is to choose carefully. You need to find six sentences that hang together without needing a lengthy explanation of the context. If the sentences also provide a teaser to make people want to read more, so much the better.

My very first six, on 27 June 2011, had this brief intro to my six sentences from His Leading Lady:

To save her twin sister's career, Jess is pretending to be Lora who's gone missing. She's just been out for the evening with Kyle Drummond, the director of Lora's new show in London’s West End.

And this was the six:

Kyle tightened his arm around her and Jess closed her eyes, not to relax but to try to think straight and to work out just how she was going to extricate herself from what seemed to be the inevitable sequel to all this.

She couldn’t say she was tired, not when she’d made such a fuss about wanting to stay at the club, but there were limits to what she was prepared to do ‘for Lora’s sake’ and going to bed with Kyle Drummond was definitely way beyond the limits. If that was what he expected, then she would have to admit to the whole pretence, even if it ruined everything for tomorrow's TV interview and Lora’s contract.

When the cab came to a standstill outside Lora’s apartment, she eased herself away from him but couldn’t stop herself from looking round at him. “God, I want you,” he breathed, his voice husky.
She stared at him, sure he must be able to hear the sudden frantic pounding of her heart.
That first time, I had 18 comments, most saying similar things e.g. “What a sticky situation. Can't wait to find out how she handles it.”
I’ll admit that, at times, I have ‘edited’ my six slightly, either by missing out a sentence or two from the original, or by combining two sentences into one, in order to provide a meaningful six. Most of my ‘sixes’ are usually much shorter, too, than this first excerpt.
You’re not expected to visit all the other contributors (there are now 200 or more each Sunday), but of course you can’t expect other people to visit your blog if you don’t make an effort to visit theirs. It’s time-consuming, of course, visiting many different blogs each Sunday and leaving comments. Of course, I always try to make positive comments even if excerpts about vampires, shape-shifters etc do not appeal to me personally! I also make every effort to respond to the comments on my blog, although i do wonder if anyone actually has the time to return to read them! The net result is that, over the last year, I have built up a ‘network’ of contacts and, in some cases, new friends.
So how does all this affect promotion and marketing? To begin with, I looked on it simply as a case of getting my name known and making more contacts. I had absolutely no idea whether it led to any sales – until a couple of weeks ago.
On July 8, one commenter said she had just bought my latest book ‘Changing the Future’ from Amazon. A week later, she posted a 5* review – which began: “I loved this book. I rarely read straight up romance, but after reading snippets of this book on the author's blog, I thought it really sounded good.”
Last Sunday, four other commenters said they had my book in their TBR pile. Okay, it’s not thousands(!), and it’s taken about 40-50 Sundays (I did miss some!) to reach this point. I leave it to you to decide whether or not this kind of promotion is worth the effort one puts into it week by week but, of course, even one sale is better than none! 


  1. It's always so great to have concrete proof that promotion pays off. And a five star review added to the mix is just icing on the cake! (And well-deserved I might add.)

    It's all about getting the word out. Sometimes I wonder if I'm reaching any readers on blogs other than those who are authors, too. I know as an author, I want to support all of my fellow-writers, but there's just not enough time in the day or money in the bank to get the job done correctly. I'm sure it's the same for most.

    Sounds like Six Sentence Sunday is working!

  2. I've found SSS helpful because by making friends with those authors, and then interacting with them in OTHER places (like Twitter and their own blogs), I am able to reach their readers. So I'm getting my name out there to writers and readers. Although, as you say, it's a slow process.

  3. Thank you, Paula, for being so candid. Like Debra, I'm wondering if all the blogging I'm now doing will pay off in sales, but what I do know is that to do nothing means no exposure at all! I'm plugging away and I'll certainly let you all know if I notice any difference. (I'm hoping, of course, that having more than one novel out there will also help!)

  4. I think blogging is a really useful way of getting your name out there, but it DOES take a long time and you rarely get any concrete proof that it's working. So nice when you do. Keep plugging away, Paula

  5. Debra, I was thrilled with the review, and it was also good to know that others had downloaded the book, presumably as a result of my excerpts. I agree with you, though, that we tend to reach only other writers, rather than the larger world of readers.

  6. Jen - yes, it's a slow process to build up a network of contacts, and it can also be very time-consuming, too, but it's essential in today's publishing world!

  7. Nancy - not sure that having more than one novel out makes a lot of difference, at least I haven't really noticed any big increase in sales of earlier books when a new one comes out.

  8. Jenny - agree that you don't really know what works promotion-wise and what doesn't. To get proof last Sunday that people had bought my book made it a red-letter day!

  9. Dear Paula,

    I agree with your methodology, although I do not know if it works, because I do not have the concrete proof that you showed. To me, visiting other writers' blogs and leaving constructive comments is not just promotion. It's a way of broadening my reading, making new friends and sharpening my own writing skills.

    ...And learning new things, such as the way to use the "Six Sentence Sunday" opportunity. Thanks! I'll try it.

    BTW, a FB friend of mine is inviting anyone who comments on her brief paragraph today to a free week-long promotion seminar on her website. The link is

    (cut and paste that into your search engine, and the post by Deborah Riley Magnus should show up. Leave a comment, be invited to her free promo workshop.

    Thanx for brightening my day, as always, xxErin

  10. Erin, I agree about visiting other blogs being a way of making new friends - it's how I have /met' most of my online friends.
    Thanks for the link. Deborah was our Friday Friend here a few weeks ago, and she certainly has lots of good ideas about marketing and promotion.

  11. I've seen the 6 Sentence meme but haven't participated. I keep forgetting to sign up. Blogging is a great way to get your name out and meet new authors/readers plus make contacts. It has the added benefit of changing your website with new material. Search engines like that.

    I often go blog hopping if I have a few spare minutes. It's good seeing what other people are blogging about.

  12. Shelley - you're right about the benefits of blogging, and also blog hopping. I visit a lot of blogs on Sundays, but there simply aren't enough hours in the rest of the week to visit all the blogs I would like to visit! I do have my favourites though!

  13. I have to say that less is sometimes best. Posting just the right 6 sentences is perfect. Too many times I see excerpts as long as chapters and I don't have the time to read all that. I love loglines because they are the meat without the potatoes. I have participated in six sentence Sundays. I didn't have a clue that they increased sales though. Maybe I should do it more.
    About blogging...I am eager to read blogs that have something new going on or tidbits of advice. I do not like to visit blogs when authors post a blog every single day. It's like posting excerpts every day; ya just grow numb to it and stop going.
    About reciprocation...I can't tell you the times that I have gone to author blogs and commented but, when I put out a blog, those authors don't always take time to come over and reciprocate. That bothers me. It seems rude and self-involved. I can't visit every blog of every person who comments on mine on a daily basis, but I will go to their blog as often as I can to show my support and appreciation.
    BTW, I do go back and check the responses to my comments. Sometimes I ask questions and I really want to know the answer. Besides, I think it's just curtisy to recognize those who took the time to comment.
    LOL I've practically written a blog in my comment.
    I wish you continued success and I am glad to learn that 6 sentence Sunday is a helpful promotional tool.
    All the best.

  14. Sarah, I so agree with you about lengthy excepts on blogs, loops etc. I do tend to scroll past them if they become too long. You are right - less is more! Which is why I like Six Sentence Sunday, and the challenge of finding six sentences to hook and pull in the reader!
    I always check/reply to comments on my blog (and on this group blog too). As you say, it is courtesy to reply to and thank anyone who has taken the time to leave a comment. So many thanks for visiting us today! We're now into a 'season' of varied topics from the 4 of us, so hope you'll visit again soon.

  15. You're very welcome, Paula. I hope you'll forgive my misspelling of courtesy. LOL

  16. Paula, thanks for sharing. I've found what works for one author may not work for another, but I think it's good to try a bunch of different things because you never know what works for you.


  17. Steph, I agree. Basically we have to try everything since most of the time we simply don't know what is having the best effect!

  18. I've never tried the 'six sentence' posting but I'm glad it worked so well for you, Paula!

  19. As a newbie to Six Sentence Sunday myself, I can't say if it works as a promotional tool, though I rather suspect not. However it is an interesting, and I think worthwhile exercise - even if it is rather time-consuming.

    I was delighted to see your extract from 'Changing the Future' last week as that's a book I've read and loved and am always happy to recommend to others.