Reader's Den is Hibernating

For how long? I'm not entirely sure, and there's a chance that she may never wake up. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't read, enjoy, despise, and/or discuss the 46 reviews, 16 guest posts/interviews, and 5+ contributor posts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guest Post: Variance and Promotion


House Name: Variance Publishing
Manager: Timothy P Schulte - Publisher/Owner
Date Est.: April 2008
Submissions: Not Accepting
Genre: Thriller; Creature Feature; political; military; YA; fantasy; action; adventure; techno-thriller
Size: Small
Contact: General Inquiry: stremblay@variancepublishing.com

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First, I’d like to thank Tiffany for allowing me to take part in her blog; it means a lot to be invited along. Variance is a small indie publisher that packs a great deal of talent - folks like NY Times bestselling authors Steve Alten and Payne Harrison, #1 UK bestselling author Steven Savile, and a host of fresh and rising stars in the industry including AJ Tata and Jeremy Robinson. Not only do we have a hardcover line, but also paperback and YA imprints, as well as a line giving new authors an opportunity to prove themselves in the publishing world with an ebook deal and option for print. 

From creature feature (Meg: Hell’s Aquarium and Antarktos Rising), to action/adventure (Grim Reaper: End of Days and Silver) to political (The President’s Henchman), to military (Threat series), to techno-thrillers (Eurostorm and Wired Kingdom) and young adult (The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies), we have a great variety of stories to choose from if you are into non-stop thrill-rides. In any sense of the word, we are very lucky to have the authors on our roster that we do for a company that is not yet three years old.

At this time, submissions are not open, but check back in weekly (or sign up) at ThrillerBlog for updates on submissions, book news, and new design releases. You can find all the details of what we look for in a book on our Submissions page. Check it out so when the time comes (and if you are interested) you are good to go. 

Just a quick statement on promotion, as that is a big part of my job. I love promoting our authors, as well as friends of the Variance family, through all of the social marketing channels like Facebook, Twitter and our blog. BUT, it is imperative that as authors you do not rely on publisher-promotion alone. If there is nothing more that I can impart on you today it is that people grasp to the person behind the book - not the people putting it out there. People want to build a relationship and feel a special connection with an author in a way like they helped this author succeed because they know them, promoted them, and were there to help them grow in these days of instant-online-gratification. Don’t take this as something Misery-like either (well, most of the time anyway), this is today’s society feeling connected to one another in this spiderweb we call virtual advancement. Bringing this subject up isn’t to say that you should only promote or even spend the majority of the day doing so, because you putting out more books is so very important to your footprint in the industry and growth in your career, but be sure to connect with your fans, build new ones, and keep them up-to-date on a regular basis. Over time, you will be warmly rewarded for your work by your fans.

If you do self-promotion, what has worked for you? Book sites? Twitter vs Facebook (or both)? Have you found that your website has played a part in your success to provide people with a central location to find all of your goodness? The first five people who lend a helping hand to those looking for input and don’t know where to start will get any ebook of their choice from our Smashwords library, no strings attached.

29 comments:

J.S. Chancellor

Well, having Neil Gaiman tweet about my book twice, certainly didn't hurt things, lol. But in all honesty, I've found that my blog (http://www.welcometotheasylum.net) has helped most of all. Not because I've said much about my novel there, but because I've used it to build up readership. That readership was already in place by the time my first novel was released through Rhemalda.

Facebook also helps. Having maxed out my friend list though, I've run into a bit of a wall there, so I'm branching out to Twitter. So far I hate it.

Lastly, writing for other, extra-novel venues (yes, I just made up a term), has really made a difference as far as name recognition goes. I write for Best Damn Creative Writing Blog and Suspense Magazine. Folks get used to seeing J.S. Chancellor in enough places, and eventually they'll break down and buy the damn book(s).

We're more than authors these days. We're brands. I know ... cringe ... but it's true. Keeping that in mind whenever we do market our stuff---the fact that we're marketing ourselves---is vital to our survival in these uncertain climes.

Great post! Thank you variance, for doing the guest post. I'll be sure to tweet and FB it!

Douglas Brown

For those of us without Neil Gaiman in our pockets ;) I think what J.S. said about the personal connections are right on. I know I'm more likely to try someone's work if I've gotten to know them first. Unless someone recommends a book or it has been tweeted about by Stephen King or, say, Neil Gaiman. Thanks Tiffany and Variance for the blog.

J.S. Chancellor

Hahahaha, very funny Doug. Very funny. You've got me in your pocket, does that help?

Tom Barczak

I learned as an artist that people buy artists not paintings. Sure there has to be a certain measure of craft to get you in the door, but you can be the best as well and not sell a damn thing. In Architecture School, I was always impressed with the Interior Design girls, because of how they could sell themselves. The Architects were always to arrogant to bother with that.
So now as a writer, I am learning, and watching it pay off, as I build real relationships with like minded people who I otherwise would have missed out on getting to know. And in the end, I think it may help me sell a few more books.

Tiffany

@J.S. Chancellor: lol, yeah. That certainly wouldn't hurt. Goodness, I just fan-love him to death! Anyway, Welcome to the Asylum is an awesome blog, and I don't say that because of my Rhemalda bias. I read your whole blog long before we started talking and took alot from it, and I'm sure it's the same for others.

Facebook is my best place as well, which is why I created that Facebook Marketing series (http://fuisti.blogspot.com/2011/02/facebook-and-marketing-episode-1-basics.html). I honestly burst into laughter when you said you hated Twitter. I share your feelings, but I need marketing so much, especially for guest appearances on Triple R, that I HAVE to turn to Twitter. I always feel like no one wants to talk to me there.

I'm basically following in your footsteps, seeing as how I also write for both venues.

Sadly, we are brands, and we have to spend so much time making that brand work. Thank you for sharing and tweeting!

@Douglas: This is true. Growing to admire someone is so powerful.

Tiffany

@Tom: I hope this is true for you. You're a great artist, and I bet you'll be a great writer. I'm behind your endeavors all the way. ^_^

Variance Publishing

Well, i just left this great response and the browser tweaked! Grr. That's the tough part about html browser comments. ...Let's see if I can't write something similar.

J.S., thanks for commenting. You are right in saying that you ARE your brand, and that is what brings you from self-published or freshman author to a household name. Just think of anything you purchased at the grocery store as of late and how often do you get the name-brand item over the generic (not only because of the taste, but you know that it is reliable)? The same holds true in the publishing world.

Congrats on all those venues you inhabit. That must be a lot of time and effort, but it looks as though you've been thoroughly rewarded for your sacrifice early in your career with some valid readership.

If you've run out of room, be sure to start a fan page and 'herding' your fans over there. Of course, it is a new space to upkeep, but that can be your 'book' side, and the personal can be more for just that, personal space. As people go over, you can delete them to open new spots in your profile for fresh fans. Dual posting is always an option too, but the key is getting people over to the fan page. AND, if you don't like Twitter, or are not consistent with it, don't use it. Your neglect/distaste will show.

Thanks for your support in spreading the word! Take care.

Tiffany

Nice to see you here, Variance! (Is this Stan?). I'm happy and genuinely surprised at all the comments it's getting so far so quickly! This is a first. I hope it helps Variance Publishing.

J.S. Chancellor

Variance (Stan?),

Yeah, I have a J.S. Chancellor fanpage too on FB. It just doesn't have as many peeps on it as my real profile (only 1,341 I think). Oh the downfalls of writing with a pen name eh?

Rhemalda Publishing, being brand spanking new and small to boot, definitely makes me a freshman author. My second book with them comes out this coming November with three to follow it in the coming years. I'm seeing that the more I interact with readers, the easier this all becomes because they will help market if you give them a little bit of your genuine self. If they ask a question, take the time and really answer it if you can. That sort of thing. Make a real connection with them.

Your covers, by the way, are amazing. Not that it matters that I'm impressed. But, I'm impressed. Very, very good marketing and design efforts.

I hate twitter, but I hate the dentist too. I'm consistent in applying common sense in both areas, so no worries there. You wouldn't know that I hate it. Besides, it's growing on me. Like a rash. But, nonetheless ... the benefits of twitter outweigh my annoyance by a long shot. Sure, all of it takes time, but luckily, I write full time. So, I consider all of this--even the extracurricular writing--my job.

And what a great job it is!

Variance Publishing

Doug and Tom,

Yes personal connection is key - not just selling your book, but selling your being at a level parallel to 'friendship', many times creating great friends from total strangers on all of these social networking sites.

It's funny how quickly the internet has changed our lives, in many ways for the better in situations like this.

Tom, arrogance is one of those things that for sure negates how good you may be. Being humble, remembering where you came from is always and will always be more respected, both by fans and other fellow authors.

Congrats to all of you on your success, and here's to more.

Doug/Tom, please be sure to email me as well. Thanks again, all.

Variance Publishing

Yes, sorry, I should have signed. This is Stan. I'll be in and out as I'm spending time with my son, but will get back to everyone as time garners.

I too am happy on the turnout so far and look forward to seeing more!

Nathan Lowell

I'll weigh in on this one.

For me, the single biggest contributor to my success in text formats was podcasting the books and giving them away for three years before I ever put them into text and sold them.

It seems pretty clear that those three years helped me find and develop my audience, prepared me to deal with the effects of success and failure, and gave me something to talk about when dealing with social media.

The blog presence is, of course, the cornerstone because it's what holds up the brand. It's where I can point people "to find out more." It serves as a solid foundation for archiving my stuff, providing a common point of contact for fans from all the media to contact me, and creates a jumping off point for links to twitter, face book, publisher site, podcast entry, etc, etc.

Becoming fluent in social media tools and being able to establish an authentic voice there creates the opportunities for establishing the relationship with audience I think you need to operate effectively in the new marketplace.

Tiffany

Hey Stan! I'm also at my older sister's house, connecting with the side of the family I don't see as often. I'm surprised and thankful that her faulty computer has only froze once, allowing me to talk and comment and spread the word.

Chancellor, do you know that you're like the goddess of Rhemalda? Every one of us there, at least the peeps from Rhemalda I talked to, found and sought that house because of you.

Those covers ARE beautiful! It was the first thing that grabbed my attention when I discovered Variance Publishing and checked the site out.

Tiffany

@Nathan: Welcome to Triple R! I've always wanted to get into the podcasting thing, but never had the resources. It does seem like a good way to sell one's books. Did you have the entire book(s) on podcast?

Variance Publishing

Thanks for the cover comments. I wish I could say that I do them all, but we have hired on some great artists to do some of the biggest covers. I am excited to get things going though on my end to further assist the company with design services.

Of course it matters to me what you, and everyone, think about our works. If you don't think it is worth your time upon first sight, then we have failed as a publisher to get you to even pick up our book.

Congrats, J.S., on being a full-time writer. I'm sure there are lots of envious people right now who would love to be in the same postion. I get very excited for people who attain their goals and I'm sure this was a big one for you.

Nathan, thanks for pitching in! You, like a handful of others, come from the same boat (like Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins, Mur Lafferty and Paul E Cooley). I've not done much with podcasting, but know others who have that have garnenered additional success from dipping their toe in the podcasting pool (like Jeremy Robinson and his two free Podiobooks podcasts). Like the others who have stepped up to the plate, if you would like an ebook from our Smashwords library, please let me know and I will forward it along.

Tiffany, fingers crossed that you continue to have good luck! =)>

Charlie

I am an old dog. Stan Tremblay and Jeremy Robinson have been pushing me for some years now, to get fluent in all the social networks, to get over my old dog-new trick fear, and, slowly, I am. My second novel is in Kindle and at Smashwords. I am a hands on, face to face businessman, good at selling myself and my product with what I say, how I perform, a handshake; my word is my bond. I am trying to find the venue in which I can translate that determination, that self confidence I have in my actual self, into a circumstance that will sell my virtual self. I have not tried anything y'all have mentioned here except Facebook, such is my reticence, my, still, hope to have Clint Eastwood ring my phone, or a political figure to talk about my novel on the 7 pm news, for it to, somehow, just succeed. Well, ain't gonna happen that way, no sir, and I have to follow in your footsteps, y'all. Remember, Stan is the Man when it comes to cover design and straight talk, not just for his Variance tribe, for the lonely hearts with big dreams, like me. Don't just talk to him hear, hire him and see how your product changes, how your career changes with him in your corner. www.charlescolley.com

Variance Publishing

Thanks for the plug, Charles. I know that you indeed are attempting what you can to become familiar with this new environment that we unfortunately now need to embrace to get ahead in the publishing industry - whether self-published, in a house, or doing that new aged fandangled stuff like PODcasting and the like. I certainly recommend taking to heart what these people say and run with it. They've obviously gained success and riding on the backs of others is never wrong as long as you make your own path!

I am always willing to help those wanderers looking for a place to start. Talk is cheap (free), and if you choose to hire me based on Charlie's recommendation, covers and interiors are reasonable. ...And hey, perhaps I'll start a new weekly post on the ThrillerBlog just for promotions (will have to think about it so I have enough good content to spread along for people to get some good ideas).

I know one of you have found me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/stan.tremblay), so if you want to continue chats or keep in contact meet me there. Just be sure to state that you know me from here so I know you are a real person, not just a bot.

Oh, and Charlie, since you weighed in, if you would like a free ebook from our Smashwords library, hit me up (that's #5 if all accept - keep the comments coming though).

Looking forward to talking more!

Tiffany

Sorry about that, Stan! I'm not sure why your post went to spam, but I went in and rescued it as soon as I realized what happened.

Stan, do you just do promotion assistance and cover design?

Variance Publishing

No worries.

Well, at Variance I do all the pre-production facets, minus editing, so that would incorporate cover design/art direction, interior layout and design, web design, and promotions. You can find my post-Variance worksite at www.findtheaxis.com for things we've done in the past. Most of what is up in the cover design area was done by Jeremy Robinson (who has currently retired from doing design to stay focused on his writing), but you can find my recent design items in a special photo album on my FB page. Those are all my sites though and interior layouts. There may be a redesign in the future for the website, we shall see. If you don't join me on FB though, you can see a few of the items in Variance works on the ThrillerBlog (ebooks: Dark Trinity: Ascendant, Vatican Knights, Shepherd One. Short stories: GhostKiller and Integrity) as well as in-print elsewhere (kiDNApped by Rick Chesler, and soon to be printed Ghosts of Arlington by DG Gass, and American Idol Exposed by Justin Buckles), as well as a handful of other ebook covers for #1 international bestselling author, Steven Savile.

Covers are definitely a passion of mine, but I love doing it all and helping those who need a hand to get started in the industry, or likewise, keep things moving forward when you have momentum already built.

Variance Publishing

Forgot The Smithsonian Objective as well.

Toby Tate

Great post, Stan! I definitely agree that social networking is a boon for new and experienced authors alike. But nothing beats getting out there and meeting people at book signings and trade shows. People tend to remember you when they meet you in person and not just on Facebook. Plus, it's just a lot of fun!

Tiffany

Welcome to Triple R, Toby! Yeah, meeting people is definitely important and also seems really thrilling, definitely for writers more outgoing and willing to make a good impression on people who show up.

Variance Publishing

Thanks Toby! I 100% agree, in-person contact is certainly the ultimate in 'social networking' - new or vet - but unfortunately not many people can go on tours outside of their town or local surrounding communities. When publishers used to pay for coast-to-coast tours, that no longer is an option (unless you are making them millions like a Rollins/Berry). Don't get me wrong though - get yourself established in your community! It is so important to be a heard voice by your mom and pop stores (since brick and mortar typically have much more stringent rules on sales), libraries, and teaching professionals, as well as getting your press releases into the hands of the local papers and community boards.

AND, he is certainly right about conferences/trade shows. Some of them can be expensive, like say Thrillerfest, but boy are they door-openers to let you get your foot that extra step forward. We have gotten blurbs and support from many big-named authors because of schmoozing at events like that. Names like Doug Preston, Jonathan Maberry and Jon Land (who have certainly become some great friends!). Like I said, they can be expensive events, and perhaps you aren't around a city hosting a big event like that, but find one that is in your price range (or save up and claim it as a tax write-off next year) that does pull some decent names that could help advance your career and say hello. Not only can you meet some of your literary heroes, but you might make a new friend for life and get some great hospitality in between.

Edward G. Talbot

Gotta say that I agree with just about everything written here. A lotta good stuff from some very talented. One thing that is certain is that there's no one thing that will work for everyone, or even keep working over time. It's one of those places where we have to remain flexible, while still keeping the ultimate goals of building the "author" brand firmly in mind.

Variance Publishing

Thanks Ed. Absolutely, do not expect what you do today to work in six months... or even tomorrow! It is all based on what the people want to see, the saturation of your promotion and your consistency.

Sean Ellis

It's been my observation that, as soon as someone figures out a clever new way to promote their books, the floodgates open, everyone tries it, and suddenly it doesn't work so well anymore. I think that's especially true with using social media, which is practically clogged with authors trying to get noticed.
Still, what else can you do? Keep trying and keep writing, right?

Tiffany

This goes back to my web series on Facebook and promotion, but if you talk to someone with their interests genuinely in mind and actually try to foster a real friendship instead of a simple networking companion, you'll have a number of massively good connections before you know it. You won't even realize the time that has gone by since you met them.

Tiffany

I agree with you, Sean, which is why I think it's important for authors to think of those sites and those people as more than 'networks.' The whole point of promotion, in my opinion, is relationship marketing in a sense. Make it more than just some promotional gimmick, you know? Actually care about them and they will, sometimes, maybe actually care about you.

Nathan Lowell

@tiffany -(sorry for taking so long to get back to you.)

Yes the books are all available as free podiobook downloads even now. You can find them on iTunes and at Podiobooks.com.

The beauty of giving away the books in audio is the connection with the audience doesn't put First Print Rights in jeopardy. Nobody cares about Serialized Audio Rights.

It works smashingly.