Wednesday, March 25, 2009

THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS, with novelist Lisa Marie Wilkinson -- and contest

Lisa Marie Wilkinson’s writing career began long before this month’s publication of her debut novel, the historical romance FIRE AT MIDNIGHT. Before turning to fiction, she was an award-winning song lyricist who collaborated with composer Marti Schwartz and also served as a music critic for The Music Connection, a Los Angeles-based magazine. Fiction was something she worked on in her spare time, until the idea for what became her debut novel took hold and wouldn’t let go. As a fiction writer, she has gone on to win more than 60 writing contests, including the Maryland Writer’s Association Contest and the Daphne du Maurier award for unpublished authors, and her novel has received four stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews, which said “Wilkinson creates the right combination of believable characters, snappy dialogue and fast-paced storytelling.”

She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


Wilkinson has generously offered to send a free copy of her book to one of this blog’s readers. To win, please leave a comment in the comment section by noon Monday, March 30. I will pick a commenter in the afternoon and contact that person for a mailing address.

What were the top 5 things you did to market your latest book after publication?
The top 5 things I did were:

1. I rented publicist Pat Rouse’s list of booksellers and reader’s groups, and sent out a press kit and bookmarks to my targeted audience.

2. I purchased an ad in the RWA publication Romance Writers Report to advertize my book release.

3. I guest blogged on a number of romance-friendly blogs.

4. I’ve tried to be as active as time will permit in loops and groups to which I’ve belonged for a long time, such as Romance Divas, the RWA online chapter and various contest loops.

5. I’ve sent out copies of the book at my own expense to additional reviewers not on the list to be sent advance review copies by my publisher.

What was the best thing you did before publication to prepare?
I held a contest to coincide with the release date of my book. The prize was a signed copy of the book, and I’ve been able to begin my mailing list from the list of contest entrants.

Note: My entry form provided entrants with the option of being left off my mailing list. I believe the contest resulted in sales to some entrants who were interested in the book but did not win the contest.

What do you think had the biggest effect on your book sales?
There are so many different things that impact book sales. In addition to the mailings, contests and guest-blogging, there is also the effect of reviews and word of mouth to consider. Because I am a debut author trying to sell a novel in a down economy, I think the thing that is having the biggest positive effect on my sales is simple word of mouth.

Did you work alone on your book promotion strategy, or in conjunction with a publicist?
Oh, to be able to afford a publicist! This is all my own effort, with some help from family and friends (thank goodness for them!).

What do you know now that you wish you had known before you began promoting your books?
I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are so many blog owners who can be approached for the purpose of scheduling a guest blog or a book review. I have been lucky in that a number of blog owners have sought me out with an invitation to guest blog, or I would have ended up with very little blog coverage in advance of my release.

How do you balance writing with the business side of being an author?
I am struggling with this at the moment. I also work a full-time job in addition to writing, and I underestimated the amount of time that would need to be allocated to promotion. Still, without the promotion effort, I don’t think I’d have many sales and there would eventually be no need for me to make time to write!

Any other advice for newly published authors?
Take advantage of the generosity of established writers who are willing to advise and mentor you. I belong to the Medallion Authors Yahoo Group and my fellow MP authors have been wonderful sources of information and guidance.


Favorite item on your writing desk: A full-sized rhinestone tiara presented to me by the Contest Divas Group when I held the record number of wins/finals on the RWA chapter contest circuit in 2006.

Favorite way to procrastinate: I cannot seem to wean myself away from the Amazon ranking numbers!

Favorite literary character: Jean Valjean from LES MISERABLES

Favorite CD: I cannot name one favorite. It depends upon my mood at the time.

Favorite snack: A mocha latte from Starbucks.

For more information on Lisa Marie Wilkinson and her book, visit


Bridget said...

Nice interview! I posted this on Win A Book. Don't enter me in the giveaway, though. Thanks!

Cheri2628 said...

I have heard some wonderful things about this book. I can't believe that this is just your debut. I have read an excerpt, and I am totally hooked. Congrats on its release, and good luck with the sales.

NotNessie said...

I can't wait to read this book! If I don't win, I will definitely be finding it elsewhere.


Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway.

Terra57 said...

Hi Lisa,
Glad to see you making the rounds sweetie and good luck with your book.

I enjoyed your article at Yankee Romace Reviewers even though I didn't get to see it for a few weeks after due to my broken wrists.

Please enter me in the giveaway as tour book looks too delicios to not read.

hall said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Valorie said...

I love Starbucks mocha. <3

I'd love a chance to win!


Wendy said...

Love historical romance! Please enter me! :)

wendyhines (at) hotmail (dot) com

Kat Bryan said...

I have great respect for historical romance writers because of all the research they do for their stories.

olympianlady said...

You don't need to enter me. I already won the book elsewhere. I just wanted to say thank you for the interview. I thought it was very interesting. I think the whole 'mass blog publicity' thing is a relatively new concept, and I'm loving every moment of it, since it allows for a level of interaction with authors that was never practical before. So, thank you for contributing to my favorite means of literary discovery. :-)


Amy said...

Starbuck's is my favorite guilty pleasure too! Thanks so much for the great interview. I would love to win this book!

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read the interview and leave a comment! I appreciate your support very much!

Llehn said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing!


DeAnna Cameron said...

I have to give a big thanks to Lisa Marie for taking time out of her busy promotional schedule to do this interview, and it's just amazing of her to generously offer to send a lucky winner a copy of her great book, FIRE AT MIDNIGHT.
Also, thank you to everyone who has stopped by and said hi :-) It's great to see familiar names and some new ones, too!
Best of luck to everyone who is signing up for the contest!

wildflowr said...

Lovely interview- very informative!
It is nice of Lisa to share such helpful tips and I wish her plenty success on her new book!

Judy said...

I really enjoyed your interview. I liked what you said about blogging. I love to read everyone's blog, especially when they have a guest author visiting. I find alot of new authors this away. Your book sounds very good. I know I will enjoy it.

Virginia said...

Great interview! Your book sounds fasinating I would love to read it. I have been hearing a lot about it on the blogs and have added it to my wish list.


Kaye said...

Great interview. I don't know how anyone has the mental stamina to write a book and hold a regular job at the same time. Good luck with your book. It sounds wonderful! Please enter me in the contest .

Shauna Roberts said...

Please enter me in the contest.

Thanks for another great interview.

darbyscloset said...

How exciting, I'd love to win a copy of her book!
Thanks so much,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Dawn M. said...

Great interview! I know I've been seeing this one on the blogs a lot lately. Made me curious enough to read the excerpt and now I'm hooked. It's already on my To Buy list but winning a copy would be awesome. :0)

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

mindy said...

nice interview book sounds fantastic thanks for the giveaway

Emilie said...

What a great interview--I'd love to win a copy of the book!!! Congratulations on your first :)

(emvark at gmail dot com)

BUSY BEE said...

I love historical romance books. I would love the chance to enjoy this one. Thanks

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

malleycc said...

WOW the book sounds great and the interview was great.

DeAnna Cameron said...

Just to make it official -- the contest is now closed and I'll post the winner (and send the winner an e-mail) by 5 p.m. PST.
Thanks for playing everyone!

Lady Roxi said...

Love to have this.



Deborah said...

I thought it was very interesting to get a glimpse of all the hard work an author has to do after a book is published. Thanks for sharing! asthenight at gmail dot com

Melissa W. said...

I wanted to show my support for Lisa and Deanna. Lisa, your book has gone on my to-be-read list for sure. And Deanna, I'd like to add your blog to my blog roll if that's okay. Thanks for all the good information! Take care!

DeAnna Cameron said...

Hi, Melissa W-
I'd be honored to be included on your blog roll. Thanks! :-)