Leanna's Marketing Top 10... Managing Expectations

by Leanna Renee Hieber

(Pictured here: Justice juggling her many jobs)

Hey divas and friends!

So as many of you may or may not know, my debut novel came out in fall 2009. I've been somewhat of a promotional whirlwind, juggling work, writing and a ton of promo in regards to the Strangely Beautiful series of ghostly, Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels published by Dorchester.

My RWA NYC chapter has asked me to do some columns for our celebrated Keynotes newsletter, sharing some of what I've learned upon this trial-by-fire marathon that is book promoting.

So in order to get my head around my thoughts, I thought... lists are good. I'll do some top ten lists. So I wanted to share my rough draft here and hope to get a bit of feedback here from you divas and diva-fans about what you've learned in promotion, here's my list - what's yours? I know you all are really creative individuals and have done a lot to harness what's available to us in the current marketplace.

The first of my topics is about MANAGING EXPECTATIONS - something I'm learning about daily! It's a big BALANCING ACT - hence Justice and her scales up there. Here are a few things that seem to ring true to me:

10. No matter how awesome your publisher, they’ll likely not do all the marketing you’d like them to do – pick up the slack and know your fellow authors are all doing the same. Find out what they are doing and work with them as a team. Teamwork = better results without treading over the same territory.

9. No one else cares as much about your book and your career as you do. Realize that and use it as motivation, not as something to regret. This is a marathon, not a sprint, pace yourself.

8. Manage your expectation of yourself – be honest about what’s reasonable and feasible for you in the following categories: costs, time, travel, community, networking, investments, etc.

7. Manage expectations of others: Friends are awesome. If you ask them (nicely) they will likely buy your book and tell their friends to buy your book. Just realize karma is a huge key word, so be thankful for all that everyone does – don’t just expect too much every time. Prioritize how you utilize your personal and immediate network lest you burn them out early on in your career.
6. Time, energy and Karma! All promotion takes time. Some of it can take lots of money (print ads, publicists, etc). Social networking is free and wonderful but it does take time. And it takes some reciprocity too- social networking works best when its in exchange. People tend to follow people on twitter / facebook due to there being a) interesting things being said / linked /discussed and also because of some reciprocity – comes back to Karma. Re-tweet other authors’ good news, interesting tidbits, run contests, do giveaways, talk about your wierd hobbies randomly or other fascinating tidbits. Make your social networking interactive and suddenly you’re in community. In regards to: "which of the myriad sites to I choose?" Pick the social networking sites that appeal to you, pick ones your friends use and can help you navigate – don’t waste time on a platform you hate, find the ones that work organically for you and that seem to generate some sense of result. (My personal example: I get more hits to my website from Twitter than just about anything else, so not only does it appear to be worth my time but I enjoy it also).

5. Expect that you will get tired. Promoting is your second job. Your first is to write books. Take rests, and start again- there's really no escaping having to do some promo, so just embrace it and do what you can. At some point you'll have to realize that you could always do more - but you can't do everything.

4. With book blogs, book review sites and social networking, the veil between author and reader, press and opinion is increasingly thin. Expect that people will love (and hate) your book - and will say so in public online ways. DO NOT go off the deep end and respond to what you feel are sub-par reviews on Amazon, or freak out on twitter, etc. Could be a career-ending mistake, even if you just want to clairify something. Always seems to backfire.

3. Expect not to make money right away. (Unless you land that million dollar book deal and if so, good for you!) For most of us, we’ll have to invest more than we’ll immediately receive. Think of it like starting your own small business – because you are.

2. Readers will have expectations of you too and will want to know what you're about. Know how you fit within your genre and/or how you stretch the boundaries of your genre. In my case, I'm really cross-genre so I try and befriend audiences, networks and authors on all sides of my Gothic / Historical (Victorian) / Fantasy / Romance / YA-crossover / Suspense / Light horror genres. Knowing how to brand yourself and navigate your one (or many) genres is really key in finding your audience, relating to them on those terms and letting those audiences find you!

1. Throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. A lot of great marketing is a ‘right place right time’ thing and not every strategy will work for every person. See what feels right to you – instincts are a good asset. Keep experimenting! Resources are always changing and so are you!

Okay Divas and friends, your turn! Please be so kind as to tell me how you manage your marketing expectations of yourself and others!

Happy New Year!

Leanna Renee Hieber
Award winning, bestselling author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, the Strangely Beautiful series continues with The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Available for Pre-Order - releasing April 27)


  1. Great list! And I do love a list. :) I have nothing to add mostly because at this point I have nothing to market. But I'll definitely keep your list on hand for when I do.

  2. Great advice Leanna! Esp. for emerging and aspiring authors - I especially like your advice on knowing your own brand - some writers don't get that - but we don't write in a vacuum - we do have to market ourselves and knowing what we stand for is half the battle when we're out there on twitter, facebook, book signings, conferences, markets, etc...

  3. Great job. Great list. Nailed it! SO happy for you that things are going well!

  4. Thanks so much, friends! I look forward to your advice on these matters as we all move forward and learn together!

  5. Number one hits home for me. What works in one month may not work the next, so just keep throwing things at the wall! Best of luck!

  6. This is a great list! In regards to number four, I remember Miss Snark speaking about an author who went off the deep end when someone posted a negative review on Amazon. Yikes!! I read the string of messages and it wasn't pretty.

    There's also the opposite side. I was at an RWA conference waiting to have an author sign a book when another attendee just went bonkers with admiration. While I certainly relate, I do think it's good to come off like a professional both in person and online at all times.

    I even wrote about it on my blog last week!! :-D

    Great article!

  7. Really wonderful post, Leanna - and it comes at a perfect time for several authors in my RWA chapter whose heads are swirly whirly with the promotion of their debut novels. Good advice to track where your biggest number of web site hits generate from.


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