Wednesday, June 13, 2007

She Promotes, Too

She doesn't leave all the marketing to me because she's a nice little fantasy author. So Sandy Lender has been doing this online book tour to promote Choices Meant for Gods. Today, she had a guest post at anotyer site, mentioned in the post below. Enjoy. (Oh, and it's supposed to be somewhat educational. It's one of those, you-can-learn-from-my-experience-if-you-wish kind of articles.)

How New Fantasy Author Sandy Lender Gets Noticed
By Sandy Lender

When I announced in an online group that I planned to put together an Online Book Tour for Choices Meant for Gods, the list administrator watched in the wings for a few days before saying something to the effect of "Woman. Do you want to explain how you're doing this on my blog?"

My response was "you better believe it." I'll just add that date to the tour list here.

So here's how I did this, which is not a guidebook, by any means, although I'm turning it into a pretty doggone long article for my publisher's website at the moment so all his authors have it to go by. What I did was pretend I was important. I think that's the first step. If you exude confidence, people are going to think, "hmm, who is this?" Honestly, I learned that from a few years in the public relations field.

I put together a professional-looking group page on Yahoo where potential hosts of the Online Book Tour could download images, my bio, a short and long synopsis of the book, some FAQs (read: an already-prepared interview), two guest blog articles, a press release announcing what we were doing that they could send to their local newspapers if they wanted to get themselves local publicity, and a blog announcement to post on their site to get folks aware that they were having an author stop by. That group site also contains a calendar where each host's tour stop date is listed with a nice little reminder that pops up and "pings" them on their special day (at least it pings them if they signed into the site when they got their invitation). The site has links where each tour host is listed. In a separate file in that Links section is a list of special links where hosts can find my page on and my page on my publisher's site, a link to a review, a link to my page on, etc. Important places are highlighted for the hosts' convenience, is what I'm saying, and when the hosts were invited to join the group, these things were pointed out.

I stay on top of the blog the day of the event. Notice I'm calling the activity an "event." My tour isn't a blog tour. It's an Online Book Tour. I'm supporting a book, not a blog. The book is called Choices Meant for Gods (and it's available now at B&N, plug plug plug). And I'm not just doing interviews on blogs. I'm also doing guest posts, like the post you saw at on May 25 or the post you'll see tomorrow at (or this one today!). I'm also doing author chats like the one you can participate in at 8 p.m. eastern June 28 at I'm participating in Author Day when I'm the guest author at I have a web presence at all through the month of June. So, it's not just a blog tour with interviews of me answering the same questions all the time. On the days when you see interviews, like yesterday at, you're seeing different people asking different questions with different groups of visitors asking different follow-up questions. I was really impressed with the questions from the New Zealanders at on June 6.

So gearing up to do an Online Book Tour takes getting confident and getting creative to get noticed. There are a ton of us authors trying to make a splash online these days. I've said this before on this tour; there are more than 400 titles being released every day in the book publishing industry. Think about that competition for a minute. It's enough to make you cringe. How do you compete for space on the book shelves at the brick-and-mortar stores? How do you get noticed there? One way is to call up and beg.

In my current hometown, the Barnes & Noble in the center of downtown is local-author friendly. Praise the Lord. So I called up the PR gal and introduced myself as a new local author. Fabulous! I asked if I could do a book signing some day this summer to help her move some books through her store. Her answer was yes. I nearly fell in the floor.

But how to get noticed in that huge store? First, they set my table up by the front door. Phew! Next, I set up a display that would knock your socks off. I'm a fantasy author, so I dressed the part. I put on a long purple gown with the exaggerated handkerchief sleeves and slapped an amethyst appliqué on my cheek (like the main character Chariss in Choices Meant for Gods) and had myself looking the part. Next, I put an ancient wood box on my table for people to put their entry cards in so they could win the SWORD I had on the table. Let me tell you folks something. Books…you expect to see books in a book store. Swords…you don't expect to see shiny weaponry in a book store. The sword garners attention. It gets noticed.

How else does a new fantasy author get noticed in the book publishing industry? Well, I've got this blog called Today the Dragon Wins at But as my friend Jamieson Wolf will tell you, you can't just build a blog and watch traffic arrive. You have to excite that blog and get people to notice it. I have eight blogs now (four of which don't get the attention from me that they should). The two that do are managed by me and my main male character Nigel Taiman. Nigel manages Nigel Presents Sandy Lender at Between the two of us, we're registered with and and we use html metatags like they're going out of style. We link back and forth and we comment all over the blogosphere (both of us…yes, Nigel has his own e-mail address and blog account).

Now how about My ranking there is currently making me suicidal, despite all the truths I know about it, but I've got an article up on Amapedia and I've got a couple conversation topics started and "watched". I've got nine 5-star reviews (a few from people I don't know!) and a list of tags and search words (which I've added to) that will make your head spin.

I could go on but Nigel Taiman would probably shoot me for making this guest blog too long. These are just some ideas and suggestions that my publisher and I have gone over to help get a new author noticed "out there" amid those 400 new titles a day. The Online Book Tour, the big presence for a book signing, the exciting blogs, and using various elements on the page at Amazon are just a few things I've tried so far. Choices Meant for Gods isn't selling like hotcakes, but it's not cooled off yet, either. And it's sitting on the new fiction table at the front of the store at Barnes & Noble right now looking pretty doggone fancy, if you ask me! Woo-hoo! Now, if you're not walking into a B&N today, you can get your copy at

I wish everyone much success with these and other ideas!

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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