Market or Die by Jennifer Fusco

Jennifer, Welcome to Nights of Passion and congratulations on your new publication of “Market or Die: Sensible Brand Building Advice For Writers.”  Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.  I know in your day job you work in the marketing field, so tell us what inspired you to put this book together for authors?

First of all, thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of Nights of Passion.   When I joined the Connecticut Chapter of RWA a year and a half ago, I noticed in our group we had many skilled authors who knew a great deal about writing and the craft but seemed confused when it came to marketing.  Marketing is a discipline. I knew, due to my work experience, I had a skill that could help authors I truly admired gain the attention they deserved.

With this economy and publishing being effected how important is marketing to the authors today?

In my view, it’s essential.  If you look at the publishing industry from a business perspective you’ll see an industry in a state of flux. With the rise of self publishing, it’s important for all authors to understand the basics of marketing because with so many writers choosing self publishing if you don’t market, and market correctly, there’s a good chance you will get lost in the crowd.

I know you said the publishing process was more difficult that you had expected.  Would you share your experience with us?

That’s a great question.  I never intended to self publish. EVER. I felt with my work schedule I wouldn’t be able to meet the demands of self publishing. It was hard for me. I’m not very patient which made formatting the book an issue for me.  But, when Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, who attended one of my marketing for writers’ workshops, said I should write this down and sell it now, I didn’t hesitate.  I valued Sarah’s opinion and industry knowledge. She knew I was speaking at the RWA National conference on June 30 and told me to publish it quick.  Self publishing was the only medium that could move as fast as I needed it to. So, from that moment, I decided to self publish and didn’t look back.

What recommendations or suggestions would you have for an author interested in going the route of self-publishing?

Make sure that the demands of self publishing fits within your lifestyle.  Self publishing fits for me in writing non-fiction because I’m confident of the subject matter, I can write it fast and publish it fast. Marketing is an industry that constantly changes, most marketing books are outdated the second they hit the shelf. So, from that perspective, my goal in keeping fellow writers up to date with current marketing trends, brand expertise and sound advice works great with self-publishing.

Being a full time marketing professional, wife, mother, writer and Vice-President of CTRWA we are all interested to know how you balance it all.

Well, I’m not the poster child for balance. Not by a long shot. I think if I’m successful at all it’s because I work hard, I prioritize and I have a lot of help.  I rely a lot on technology. My smartphone is my BFF. It keeps me organized and I’m always “on”. I’d love to say I’m in 100% control of everything, but I’m not. I have a great husband who supports my writing venture. He knows how much I enjoy working, producing and seeing things through. He fills in when I can’t be around. Plus, my 4-year old son helps me keep life in perspective, especially when he tells me he loves me.

When did you first realize you had a passion for writing?

I’m not sure I have a passion for writing as much as I have a passion for the end result. Finishing a scene of my fiction or putting the final edits on a marketing book fills me with a sense of accomplishment that I rarely get outside of writing. Maybe it’s about the control, the ability
to do it my way. It has to be perfect or I won’t do it, which is why I’ve written my fiction novel seven times (and I’m gearing up for rewrite #8).

What inspires you?

To know that something I did or said helped someone else.  I had a great review of my marketing book by a fellow author.  She called my book a lifesaver. That meant a lot.

What is your favorite novel and why?

I have so many that it is hard to choose.  In romance, my favorite novel is Angel’s Fall by Nora Roberts.  Everything that Ms. Roberts does so well, character, setting, suspense, romance, she does it in this book.

Thank you again Jennifer.  If any of the readers are interested in getting this great new marketing tool for authors, please see http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_mrr_2?rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Amarket+or+die%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011&bbn=283155&keywords=market+or+die&ie=UTF8&qid=1307408967&rnid=618072011.

CONTEST

Jennifer has kindly offered to do a marketing critque of a lucky winner’s website.  If you would like to enter the contest to win this and have a real marketing guru give you valuable advice, please tell us why in your comment.  Thanks for entering this give away and good luck.  Deadline to enter is midnight EST on June 26.

Jennifer’s  Bio:

About the Author

Jennifer
Fusco is the Creative & Brand Marketing Manager for the General Electric
Company, North America. A two-time award winner of the Advertising Excellence
Award for 2010, Jennifer also launched many successful national ad campaigns.
She is passionate about brand and believes it is a key to professional success.
Her article entitled “How to Use the Power of Your Brand” was published in
August 2010 by Insights, an industry  trade ma gazine. Jennifer holds a B.A. in English from North Carolina State  University.

In her writing life, Jennifer is a member of the Romance Writers’ Association,  RWA’s PRO network, Vice President of the Connecticut Romance Writers Association, and a writer of paranormal romance. She has completed two manuscripts.

Jennifer lives in Connecticut with her husband and in her spare time you can find her cuddled up with a book or fielding baseballs with Jacob, her four-year old son, a future player for the New York Yankees.

About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
This entry was posted in contest, Jennifer Fusco, Marketing, Promotion, romance, RWA, Writing Topics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Market or Die by Jennifer Fusco

  1. Casey Wyatt says:

    Hi Jen, Your book is fantastic. It provides practical advice and achievable goals. I highly recommend it to all writers.

    So here’s my question, I’m in a blog with a group of other writers. We are a diverse bunch, but we all have the same goal, to publish and reach readers. Any suggestions on how, as a group, we can increase our web presence and readership?

    To date, we have been posting on other boards, Facebook, and are linked with the major search engines. At the moment we are more of a mutual admiration society (we are our biggest fans!!) and we don’t have a lot of outside web traffic. We are fairly new, so do we just have to give it more time?

    Your wisdom is greatly appreciated!

    Christine Wunch (writing as Casey Wyatt)
    Otherworldly Adventures in an Ordinary World
    http://caseywyatt.wordpress.com/

    Friday’s Scribe: http://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com/

  2. Jennifer, many publishers now expect their authors to be more proactive in marketing. Could you share with us one marketing tip for a new release?

    Also have you considered doing a book on how to self-publish?

  3. Sue, great question. – In February, I ran across a statistic that said 90% of all purchases will be made via mobile device (phone or tablet) in the next 12-18 months. With that in mind, authors should start placing QR (quick response) codes on your book jackets. It’s a must have.

    If you have a smartphone, download a QR code reader. Scan your phone over the code. It’s an easy and a FREE way to attract potential new readers and drive traffic to your website. To make your own QR code, search “QR code generator” and input your information. It’s that simple!

    If your book is stocked on the shelf, all a perspective buyer has to do is scan your QR code which will connect them directly to your website or blog so that they can find out more about you and make a purchasing decision right there on the spot!

    Have I considered doing a book on self-publishing? Maybe. But I think I have more to learn first.

  4. Jennifer,
    Bringing the description of your writer’s voice down to a three word brand may prove difficult to some. Do you have any tips to help a new author find their brand?

  5. Sure! Please don’t get hung up on the number of words. In the book, I use 3-5 words as a guide. If you look at some popular brands, like Subway, for example, “Eat Fresh” is their brand statement–two words. There’s no correct number of words to use to make your band statement shine. Choose something that’s meaningful to you and that you can sustain for a long period of time.

  6. So Jen, I’m published, have a brand that works…how often to suggest refreshing a look or changing a website? I want to keep the same message and overall feel, but I don’t want things to get stale, either.

    • Great question, Kristan. With your books releasing approx 6 months a part, I’d recommend an update to your web look and feel every 12-18 months. In the meantime, I’d use kristanhiggans.com to launch contests and run virtual events in between rebranding. There’s an app for authors to integrate your autograph into ebooks. I’d launch that on your site and promote the heck out of it..

  7. pjsharon64 says:

    Jennifer, You are awesome! Not that I want you to get a big head or anything, but I’m so proud of you. Your advice on marketing is spot on and such a useful component for us indi-published authors.

    Thanks to you, my book, Heaven is for Heroes, coming in September, has a chance to be seen in the crowd. I’m still feeling like a very small fish in a very big pond, but with the marketing strategies we discussed and all of the great advice in your book, I at least feel like I have a clue as to how to market my product. Your common sense approach and your in depth insights have paved the way for me to make marketing a manageable task.

    And I love the QR code idea. I will definitely have one of those on my books.

    Thanks again,
    PJ

  8. Casey Wyatt says:

    Hi, posting this again!

    Hi Jen, Your book is fantastic. It provides practical advice and achievable goals. I highly recommend it to all writers.

    So here’s my question, I’m in a blog with a group of other writers. We are a diverse bunch, but we all have the same goal, to publish and reach readers. Any suggestions on how, as a group, we can increase our web presence and readership?

    To date, we have been posting on other boards, Facebook, and are linked with the major search engines. At the moment we are more of a mutual admiration society (we are our biggest fans!!) and we don’t have a lot of outside web traffic. We are fairly new, so do we just have to give it more time?

    Your wisdom is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Christine (aka Casey Wyatt)

    • There’s two things I recommend for you Christine as a must do. 1.) because I’m familiar with your blog and a big fan and 2.) because I know you guys personally and want to see you succeed.

      I know you’ve utilized a lot of free resources, but I think you guys need to take it up a notch and advertise. You can purchase a small digital ad on Smart Bitches, Trash Books.com for about $100. Split between the 7 of you, that’s afforadable enough.

      Second, utilize the published authors you know (who also run blogs ) and ask them if you can “LInk” to their blog. What we’re hoping for is come click thru activity.

      Lastly, TWEET. There’s several of you, so, a twitter account should be managable. Tweet your topics and your guest bloggers…you’ll want your followers to retweet your twitter posts, therefore driving more traffic to your blog. Hope this helps!

  9. Jennifer F says:

    Great question, Kristan. With your books releasing approx 6 months a part, I’d recommend an update to your web look and feel every 12-18 months. In the meantime, I’d use kristanhiggans.com to launch contests and run virtual events in between rebranding. There’s an app for authors to integrate your autograph into ebooks. I’d launch that on your site and promote the heck out of it..

  10. Katy Lee says:

    Thanks Christine for asking that question. I’ve been wondering the same thing…

    And Jen, I can’t wait until your workshop at RWA. Your knowledge is just what I need right now. There is so much more to wrting than just writing. I had no idea! I feel blessed to have people like you, people who understand the stuggles of this process firsthand, who are willing to share what they know to others along the way.

    Katy Lee

  11. Tom Williams says:

    I definately need this book. As a new author without a website I believ that it will help greatly. The advice appears rock solid
    Tom Williams

  12. Marian Lanouette says:

    Jennifer, when should a writer start their website, blog, etc.? I love your book Thanks, Marian

    • Jennifer Fusco says:

      Hi Marian, Great question. The answer. ASAP. Most editors and agents want to know that you are taking your writing career seriously. Step 1 of that process begins with a web presence.

  13. Dani Harper says:

    Susan, thanks for putting together this great interview with Jennifer — I saw it on Facebook and bookmarked it for today!

    Thanks Kristin for that question on updating the look and feel of your website. I’ve wondered that for years and have never seen it answered! I’ve gone ahead and given mine a makeover anyway — color, images, graphics etc — but always wondered if that was the right thing to do or if I’m just messing up my “brand”.

    Jennifer – THANK YOU for your timely advice. I just downloaded the book — reading it is my weekend project! I’ve tried very hard to study up on marketing and make sure I’m doing “everything” (Omigosh, QR? How did I not hear about this?) but I’m still guessing.

    Thank you for the contest. I feel that my website is central to my online presence and I’m forever pestering friends for their feedback (“Is it user-friendly? Can you find things?”). I can’t tell you how much I would welcome a pro’s opinion. I design and maintain my site myself so I can keep it up-to-the-minute as far as info goes.

    Thanks again,
    Dani Harper

  14. Gail Chianese says:

    Jennifer, thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with all of us both here and in your book. My copy has been ordered and I can’t wait to read it and hear your workshop at RWA.

    For a newbie, what is the first thing you would recommend I do (website, blog, streamline FB towards my writing…) to creating my brand?
    Thanks, Gail Chianese

    • Jennifer Fusco says:

      Hi Gail, You need a website for sure. I the beginning it doesn’t have to me much but enough to give a prospective editor or agent a glimpse of what you’re like as a person and as a writer. You’ll want to give the audience a clear message as to what you’re stories are about and reinforce that message by the colors, images and text placed on your site.

      You can worry about social media, and blogging AFTER your website is finished. You need somewhere to direct all the web traffic social media generates—and your website is that place!

  15. Barbara Gerwien says:

    Hi Jennifer – I love the commonsense of your book.

    Q – When should a new author set up a website? And how should they go about marketing that site? Is blogging an essential part of the marketing strategy?

    Barb

    • Jennifer Fusco says:

      Hi Barb.

      A new author should set up a website pronto! At first I struggled with what the content would be, especially at that time I did not have a book cover. Look at other authors you admire, glean what you like from their sites and implement it onto your own.

      Personally, I don’t market my website, persay. I use it as the landing place where I want readers to go and find more about me. I do all of my marketing online, in other areas.

      Blogging, no. If you want to blog and you think you can handle the committments of a blog, there’s no reason why you SHOULDN’T blog. Blogs are great. But, if you don’t have the time or don’t want to, you’re not missing anything essential in your marketing plan.

  16. Dani Harper says:

    Blogging isn’t necessary? Omigosh, what a wonderful revelation! I enjoy my paranormal blog but I don’t have time to write posts for it — between marketing and writing my novels, I’m booked solid. It would be a great relief to just let it go for a while without guilt.

    • Jennifer Fusco says:

      Hi Dani, Before you disappear from blog-is-sphere….you should let your audience know you’re taking a break and not drop them cold. If you don’t have time to blog, then you’re not really doing your audience justice…are you? Plus, a bad blog can damage your brand.

      Take on only the marketing initiatives you can handle and do it to the best of your ability. Anything half-done, will look half-done.

    • Dani Harper says:

      Words to live by – only take on what you can handle! So tough to figure out what that is in the beginning, especially when there’s a lot of pressure to do EVERYTHING — and a lot of fear. A new author like me is terrified she’ll be left behind if she’s not part of every internet trend. Can you really pick a few basics and leave the rest?

  17. Jennifer Fusco says:

    Absolutely. I know a lot of very successful authors who refuse to tweet eventhough they’ve been encouraged by their agents and publishers. In my view Dani, you have to write a darned good book, first and foremost. Otherwise no matter how many blogs or social media accounts you have won’t matter. Put your emphasis on the writing and the audience (and how to reach them) will come!

  18. Tracy Costa says:

    Hi Jen,

    What a great interview! What are the basics that you would recommend a new author have in a website? I know that there is some controversy about putting chapters of works in progress online, What website basics do you see as an author must-have?

  19. Jennifer Fusco says:

    Hi Tracy,
    At the very least the basics are an introduction to your work, your book covers if you have them (with ordering information), a bio and a way to contact you.
    Jennifer

  20. Nights of Passion would like to thank each and every one of you who visited the blog for this Great interview and to all who entered the contest. The lucky winner is Dani Harper who will receive a free critque of her website by Jennifer Fusco. Congratulations, Dani. We hope everyone enjoyed this interview and we look forward to posting many more. Thank you Jennifer and again, thank you readers for your participation. We hope you will continue to visit Nights of Passion.
    Gerri Brousseau

    • Dani Harper says:

      Thank you to Nights of Passion for hosting this enlightening interview with Jennifer Fusco and THANK YOU for the wonderful prize. That really made my week!

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