Thursday, May 16, 2013

Marketing Through A to Z

By Julie Flanders

I know I’m not alone among writers when I say that marketing and promotion does not come naturally or easily to me. But as we all know, our books don’t sell themselves and our work doesn’t end when our books are released. Marketing is a continuous and essential part of the publishing process.

Fortunately for writers like me, the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is a wonderful tool for marketing and promotion. I’ve known since my first A-Z in 2011 that the challenge was a great way to network with other bloggers, make new friends, and increase traffic to my site. This year, I learned that it can also be an invaluable resource for marketing a book.

From the time I knew that my debut novel Polar Night would be released in February of this year, I knew that I was going to tie the book in with my challenge posts in some way. But I didn’t want to come off as one of those writers (we’ve all seen them, I’m sure) who post or tweet nothing but declarations about the greatness of their books and tell us all to buy them, over and over (and over!) again.

The A to Z April Challenge gave me a great opportunity to showcase my book without even posting that much about the book itself. As Polar Night takes place in Alaska, I wrote an A to Z of Alaska and shared interesting and fun tidbits I had learned about the state. I had a good time researching and writing the posts and the visitors to my blog seemed to enjoy reading them.

I know of other writers who used this year’s challenge to market their books in interesting and creative ways. My friend Carol Kilgore of Under the Tiki Hut wrote several of her A to Z posts using the voices of the characters from her latest novel Solomon’s Compass, thus introducing readers to the world of her novel and the people who populate it. And my new friend Sheena-kay Graham, who I was fortunate to get to know through this year’s challenge, shared tantalizing hints and tidbits about The Sacrifice Series, her series of novellas which will be released beginning in the fall of 2013. These are just two of many great examples.

I’ve said many times that joining the A to Z in April Challenge for the first time in 2011 was the best blogging decision I’ve ever made. There’s no question that it was also one of the best writing decisions I’ve ever made. If I am fortunate enough to have another book published, I know one of the first things I will start thinking about is how I can work that book into a challenge theme, just as I did with Polar Night.

The opportunities that come along with participating in the challenge are limited only by our own imaginations, and I will always encourage any writers I meet to sign up and participate. I don’t believe anyone will regret it.

About the Author: Julie Flanders is a writer and a librarian who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julie shares her home with her dog and cat and, when not writing fiction, she loves to write about animals and animal-related issues. Her debut novel, the paranormal suspense thriller Polar Night, is now available from Ink Smith Publishing. Find Julie online at


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I know I really enjoyed your posts, Julie - and I knew they tied into your books but I never felt like you were hitting readers over the head with that fact. Your method was subtle and effective...and fun! :)

Christine Rains said...

Your A to Z posts were one of my favorites this year. It's a great way to market yourself.

Arlee Bird said...

Great post, Julie, and thanks for passing this tip on. It's something I recognized from the beginning and has been a big selling point on getting people to participate in the Challenge. Glad you've confirmed this based on your experience.

A Faraway View

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your posts during the Challenge were among the best for promoting a book!

Cherie Reich said...

You definitely had a great way of marketing your book during A-Z. :)

Tina said...

Great post! And that's not a generic comment ;-) You really shared so well with our readers some of the many benefits of joining this Challenge. It was also the best thing I ever did for my blog and my writing!
Thanks so much for taking the time to guest here for us.
Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Heather R. Holden said...

Your A-to-Z posts were fantastic--I can easily see why those ended up being a great way to market yourself! :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You're such a smartie. You, and all the other writers who used the A-Z as a tool to promote their books. Gives me a little food for thought for next year's challenge.

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Julie. I loved your Alaska posts. You're so right about promotion being pretty much a necessary nightmare.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Thank you so much for mentioning me and my series. It's great to see that my choice to participate for the first time this year had an impact. And I enjoyed reading your posts for Polar Night and Alaska during the challenge as well. This challenge did give all participants the opportunity to share something with many readers and for those who promoted books a chance to share it with others. So glad you got a guest post here Julie.

Unknown said...

Julie, I can honestly say that your posts for the A-Z were the best "marketing" posts I've ever seen. I loved the pics and the stories and never felt you were too aggressive in pitching your book. You were AWESOME!
I'm hoping to have a book come out next winter (crossing fingers) and hope to use your brilliant examples in the A-Z. (I can't imagine coming up with 30 posts though. Yikes!)
You rock! :-)

Brinda said...

I loved learning about Alaska in your posts.

Julie Flanders said...

@Madeline, I'm so glad to read that, thanks! There's nothing worse than feeling like you are being hit over the head with something, it's such a turn off.

@Christine, thanks!

@Lee, thanks so much, and I will definitely encourage any writer I meet to participate each April.

@Alex, thank you!

@Cherie, thanks, I appreciate that.

@Tina, thanks to all of you for having me, I'm excited to be here!

@Heather, thanks!

@Susan, oh, I'd love to see how you would promote your book through the A-Z, I know it would be great.

@Carol, my pleasure! I loved learning more about your characters and book through your theme.

@Sheena, you're very welcome! I thought you did a great job of getting people excited for your book even though it's still some months away.

@Lexa, wow, thank you!! And I hope you will have a book coming out, I'm crossing my fingers with you!

@Brinda, I'm so glad, thanks!

Anonymous said...

An excellent post as were your A to Z. I didn't read them all to be honest but those I did you did the A to Z justice.


Anonymous said...

An excellent post as were your A to Z. I didn't read them all to be honest but those I did you did the A to Z justice.


M Pax said...

Glad you found it helpful, Julie. It was fun to make new friends.

liz young said...

Good post, Julie - I put snippets of my Work in progress in my A-Z blogs this year - it was the only way I could get through the challenge and still keep up with the rewrite!

Julie Flanders said...

@Yvonne, thanks!

@Mary, that's so true and always one of the best thing about the Challenge.

@Lizy, oh, that was a great idea! I enjoyed your snippets that I saw. :)

Mary Hill said...

Hi great ideas. I love the UR site too. Good luck with your promotions.


J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Julie,
Definitely agree that the Challenge is a good way to wrap our heads around some of the stuff that needs to be done for our books. This year's Challenge helped me put together information I've been collecting since last August.

Rhonda Albom said...

For me the challenge was the exact opposite. I am now writing my first book inspired by my AtoZ posts.

Rhonda from Laugh Quotes

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Thanks for a great post! I'm thinking about this, as this year (my first), it was all about getting more followers, so there's someone out there to announce the next release to. But I can see doing something next year, writing more stories from my characters, etc. I totally agree about making it first an engaging blog to read, and secondarily something that reminds people you have book out there that might be equally engaging.
Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Julie .. I loved your A-Z posts and when I read your book, I'll be able to relate back to those 26 snippets ...

I'd have never have heard of the ice tsunami .. that was featured on the news here .. that occurred recently - see the CNN video ... I know you have the link .. but which you mentioned in one of your posts.

Well done on running with your book and tying it in with the A-Z - without over-cooking the 'buy it' syndrome. Cheers Hilary

Unknown said...

I agree that the A to Z challenge is great for marketing. Although initially I didn't see any great difference in sales (not sure if that was because I was too busy posting to market, or because it's a slow month), the free promotion I'm running right now has been a huge success, at least in part to the help of all the new friends I've made spreading the word.

Rinelle Grey

Fran Clark said...

I hate it when writers shout about their books every given moment. I'm sorry I didn't come across your A-Z posts during the challenge and this is an inspirational idea in terms of marketing. Love it!

Jemima Pett said...

I'm another who missed your blog during the Challenge (but I can always come back and read through them!). I like this post a lot, and I'm another that found the Challenge a good way of connecting with potential readers without the 'buy my book' approach.
I did come across one or two blogs where they had a rather in-depth approach to promoting their book - a serial that started with A when you get to them at N is not attractive, nor is a detailed discussion of a character you've never heard of. Given that my first year (2012) tended more towards these mistakes (it was an A to Z of my fantasy world, which helped me, but may not have been very interesting) I think authors have quite a challenge to theme their posts that attract readers to their books and are still interesting one-off posts for casual visitors.
Thanks for your interesting post, Julie - look forward to reading more!
Jemima at Jemima's blog

Michelle Wallace said...

You did a fabulous job of promoting your book during the A to Z Challenge. The challenge was a great marketing opportunity. And it was great learning about Alaska too!

Writer In Transit

Julie Flanders said...

@Mary, thank you!

@Joy, oh, I really appreciated all the info you shared during the Challenge.

@Rhonda, oh, that's awesome! I will be anxious to check out your book.

@Rebecca, that's one of the best things about the A-Z to me, gaining new followers. I think it's the best way to meet people in the blogosphere.

@Hilary, thank you, and thanks again so much for getting the book.

@Rinelle, that's great the promotion is working so well for you!

@Fran, thanks so much, and I agree, I really hate that too. Nice to meet you!

@Jemima, thank you, and I'm so glad to meet you!

@Michelle, I'm so glad you enjoyed the posts, thanks!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I enjoyed following your wonderful A to Z posts! Not only did I want to visit Alaska, but It also made me put Polar Night on top of my TBR list!


Nick Wilford said...

You had a fascinating theme. It definitely made me interested in Alaska, and it seems like a great setting, so I'm looking forward to reading Polar Night!

Kate Larkindale said...

What a brilliant idea! I hope you don't mind if I steal it for future endeavours.....

Julie Flanders said...

@Julie, thanks so much!

@Nick, thank you!

@Kate, oh, definitely not! I'm glad you found the idea helpful!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your A - Z posts, Julie. And you're absolutely right. Marketing is one of the most important things we can do as writers. It's not easy, but A - Z Challenge definitely makes it easier. Thanks for sharing this post. It's important and your experience makes it that much more valuable for all of us.

Unknown said...

A-z challenge ? I've just read this blog of yours since I'm barely getting this blogger thing, but it sounds very interesting. I'll be sure to read more of your blogs to understand that a-z challenge you talk about. I love writing so I've started to write a couple of random things. I like to give advice too. I'm barely blogging out and I'm enjoying it. I'll read more of your blogs soon.

Chancelet said...

Great discussion. You did a great job of talking about your book and bringing interest to the subject in the challenge. I truly enjoyed your posts. And there were some very creative people who kept your interest throughout the month by making their characters and story lines seem much more than a book. Writer’s Mark