January Theme: Promo Queen

by Stephanie J. Blake

I've just survived the first month of my debut. The Marble Queen came out December 18, 2012. Here's some of the promotional stuff I did on my own.

First, I bought a spiral notebook specifically for TMQ promo work. It has three dividers and pockets for business cards, etc. On the first pages I wrote all of the ideas I had for ways to promote the book. As the months went on, it became my go-to for planning, addresses, to-do's, etc.

I reserved my domain name early in 2011: www.themarblequeen.com. It's cheap and easy at GoDaddy.com. For months there was one page with the blurb for the book.

I asked for blurbs from my favorite authors and had my manuscript bound in a spiral for each of them.

As soon as I had final cover art, an ISBN and a firm release date, I had 500 bookmarks printed by Next Day Flyers. I have given these bookmarks out by the handful to everyone, short of leaving them on windshields in parking lots, they've been passed over the counter to to the ladies at the post office, librarians, teachers, my dentist, my doctor, my allergy nurse, my attorney, etc. I have put them on community bulletin boards at restaurants like Village Inn. I have even dropped bookmarks in fishbowls-- the ones where you put in a business card to win a free meal. My kids gave them to all of their classmates.

Everyone who buys the book gets a bookmark. So, if you need one, email me!

By August 2012, I was out of those early bookmarks and ordered 3000 more long with 300 postcards, 250 stickers. I wrote a press release.

I mailed out a personalized postcard to every address in my personal address book, to each elementary school in our district, to every library district in the Denver metro area, to every bookstore, every television station, every newspaper, including my hometown, and to some libraries and bookstores in Idaho (where the book is set), and New Jersey (where the National Marble Tournament is held), and two marble factories.

I designed a simple five-page website using GoDaddy's website tonight app. I also made a book trailer on my computer with software I already had (Windows Moviemaker).

I decided what to charge for school visits and appearances. I wrote up a contract and an info packet. I put together a mother-daughter book club kit.

When I got my carton of 25 ARC's from my publisher, before I gave a single one away, I made a list of where they would be best used.

In September, October, and November I did ARC giveaways on Goodreads. I sent an ARC and a press release to the local television stations, and the newspapers in my area. I did some other giveaways, as well.

When I got my 20 author copies, I made another list of where they would be best used. Two of them went to Book Train, three went to my gracious blurbers, two went to a local reviewer, and the rest I've been reselling. If you are going to sell books and have a smartphone, you need a Square. It's the coolest device that allows you to take credit card payments.

I had a casual launch party at a nice bar & grille with family and friends. We did some fun giveaways there. Everyone got a candy necklace and a little goody bag. Sold 19 books--enough to pay the food tab.

I was interviewed for a local library show called "Off the Page." I've also been asked to speak at a library fundraiser in my hometown, all because of the postcards I sent.

In February, I'll be featured in the "Breaking In" column in Writer's Digest magazine.

I've tweeted my reviews and have shared tweets from people who have said nice things about the book.

Whew. It's time to start writing another book, but you can bet I'll have a bookmark in my purse if you want one.


  1. Thank you for this list! The ideas (and the reasoning behind those ideas) are exactly the kind of things we not-yet-published writers need to know for when we need to wisely promote our own books.

  2. Congratulations on The Marble Queen! I am always happy when new MG books come out for our young readers. I had this one written down to watch for and will look for it soon.....

  3. Congratulations on your book release, Stephanie! You've been one busy gal. Thanks for this list of great promo ideas.

  4. Fantastic ideas, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your new book (and can I hire you as my publicist?)! :)

  5. Congratulations, Stephanie! And wow, you are a promo dynamo!

  6. FAB job, Stephanie! And I need a bookmark!


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