Writer of the Day: Chelle Cordero

Hi, all. Chelle Cordero, the author of BARTLETT’S RULE and FORGOTTEN has agreed to come on and speak to us about promoting your book and yourself as an author. Very important lessons for any new author regardless of whether you are at a major publishing house or a small, indie press like Chelle.

Plus, I think small presses are awesome, so I can’t wait to hear her perspective!

 

  Your book may have best-seller content, but unless it is publicized, few will even notice its existence. While the major publishing houses may spend mega-bucks promoting some of their hottest-authors’ novels, the cost of a full publicity campaign for small press publishers is often prohibitive. If you are self-published the full burden – and cost – of promotion falls on you.
 
            NO ONE has as much at stake in the success of your book as you do – it doesn’t matter if you’ve been published by one of the top ten New York houses, a young small press or even self-published. Once you have completed penning your novel it is time to embark on the business end of book writing.
 
            My first novel, Courage of the Heart, was published by a full self-publishing print-on-demand publisher. After receiving several rejections to my query letters (I didn’t even get so far as submitting the manuscript), one kind, but retiring, agent recommended that I seek a non-traditional publishing company. At the time that I first found this publisher they were offering a totally FREE package for publishing upon acceptance ONLY. When they accepted my manuscript I thought, naively, that I had caught my big break. What I didn’t understand at that point was that the “publisher” offered no help to me in terms of marketing. I didn’t know how to go about promoting my book either. Needless to say, very few copies sold.
 
            Still optimistically wary (do those two words even go together?), seven years later I sent a query to small independent press Vanilla Heart Publishing in Everett, Washington. My book, Bartlett’s Rule, was accepted! After doing a very energetic happy dance, I started an endless torrent of questions and read the contract offer with a magnifying glass (literally) – I didn’t want to mislead my hopes again. I also did a lot of research and I was aware that a small press publisher had limited financial resources to do publicity – and I wanted to maximize that. There are companies that specialize in book promotion similar to the in-house departments at several of the “big houses”, but again, it can cost mega bucks.
 
            Using Vanilla Heart Publishing as an example… the publisher will include your book in catalogues and listings to major distributors, submit press releases to various media outlets throughout the nation, prepare and distribute informational packages on you and your book to bookstores, newspapers, libraries, etc., and provide a web presence for you and your book. My publisher also produced a book trailer and designed an eye-catching book cover, both are posted online. They also sent me business cards to hand out.
 
            VHP is located on the other side of the country from my own New York location. I am more familiar with the local media (print, radio and television) simply because I live here, read local newspapers and play local radio and TV channels. I took the press release that VHP sent out about Bartlett’s Rule, modified it to include a local angle and re-sent it to specifically local publications. One local weekly newspaper soon ran a wonderful article with the headline “Local Author Has Book Published”. I modified a second press release from VHP after they signed my next novel, Forgotten (due out in July) the same way and was mentioned in the daily newspaper book blog; this time the headline was “Second book for Rockland’s Chelle Cordero”
 
            Many “experts” say that social and professional network sites are crucial to word-of-mouth business. While you have to maintain a level of professionalism and still sound approachable, it is okay to be friendly but do stop short of discussing things that are really “TMI”. I have my writing life blatantly inscribed on my MySpace, Facebook and Inked-In pages as well as on the more business-oriented sites. I maintain a completely self-promotional and, yes, egotistical, blog at http://chellecordero.blogspot.com/. Why not? Do we chastise the big retailers, car dealers and home product manufacturers for the advertising that peppers our newspapers, magazines and TV broadcast channels?
 
            VHP managing editor Kimberlee Williams sent out introductory packages to many retailers and libraries in my area. Now that the first professional intro has been made, I am following up with phone calls, emails and personal visits. I am hoping to land author events, book discussion groups and placement on store shelves.
 
            It may seem like a lot of work but this time around I am determined that I HAVE caught my big break and I will be a success.
 

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14 thoughts on “Writer of the Day: Chelle Cordero

  1. Kimberlee says:

    Chelle,

    If you had to pick just one ‘method’ for your promotion efforts, what would that one thing be?

  2. Chelle Cordero says:

    Online networking.

    As much as face-to-face is super important, the amount of people you can reach via trhe internet is huge. Statistically more books are bought these days via online sources than in book stores so you are actually reaching a greater market share online.

  3. Andy says:

    All good advice Chelle, thank you.

    For me I made some fabulous PR coups on my first book…the national press picked up on a guest who was prosecuted for assaulting me at the Inn. That was followed by a TV news story….but my ‘demand’ book was my first and the timing was wrong on both but I made it into profit after 2 months and some fab Amazon reviews…..I liked the idea about adapting the press release and sending that out.

    ..then I almost dropped the ball because I started on my second book. That was a mistake…I had opportunities left open to me bu missed the buzz of writing comedy and just like Fawlty Towers this place has a new story everyday.

    The Internet is key, I agree, sales of books via the net for a ‘demand’ book are vital.

    The Innkeeper – Andy Hageman – Inn Keeping with Mr Fawlty

  4. Kimberlee says:

    Chelle,

    Do you have a method that works to keep track of all the many things you do each day regarding promotion and marketing, so you don’t let something slip past? A chart or checklist kind of thing? If not, how DO you keep it all straight?

  5. Jay Solomon says:

    Chelle – thanks so much for the great advice and for helping to break the stereotype that it’s not worth publishing if you don’t publish with a big house. I think small publishers are great and it sounds like you found one that provides a lot of opportunity.

    I think you’re totally right about using the internet and the need to market yourself as thoroughly and effectively as possible. How do you recommend approaching radio stations and television stations? Is this something you’ve done yet and if not, is it an approach you plan on taking?

  6. Chelle Cordero says:

    To The Innkeeper – Andy Hageman: As capitalistic as it might sound, your “PR coup” was advantageous because you took the opportunity to turn any press into promotional. Depending on what the unexpected event might be, we are not necessarily thinking of promoting our books but if you can add “ob, by the way I am the author of…” it certainly makes people look at you differently and could potentially get you more coverage.

    To Kimberlee – I am not as organized as I would like to be. Most of my record keeping is simple pen and notebook – I keep a project book on my desk and a separate to-do list which I update frequently. I also flag emails that come back in response to a query and I make use of my computer email calendar (Outlook) reminder system. I am sure there is a much simplet method. …working on it ;>

    To Jay Solomon – I have sent press releases to some of my local radio stations. Unfortunately for me, there is NO popular and local station IN my county so I have tried to emphasize the region. So far I am waiting for a (very) slow news day.

    To Karen Harrington – Thank you for your kudos. I know that you also have done extensive online homework in promoting your book.

  7. Sophie says:

    Don’t kid yourself about what big publishers provide their authors! I’ve published one book with a major publisher (Wiley & Sons) and have many friends who have published with others…You get about three months of a publicist’s divided attention, but for the most part you’re on your own. What you’re saying applies to anyone who publishes anywhere.

    Oh yeah–and you know how I feel about Shameless Self Promotion. STOP APOLOGIZING! Sheesh!

    You rock!

  8. cmcraig says:

    Wow! Great comments everyone. Chelle, I should have you on more often.

    in terms of keeping organized (great question, Kimberlee) I think that Excel is a writer’s best friend regardless of what stage their careers are in.

    I know I have an excel spreadsheet for everything!

  9. Chelle Cordero says:

    To Sophie – Somewhere I was reading an article not too long ago where someone at (one of the top ten houses) admitted that ONLY a percentage of their writers even get serious publicity done in-house. Unless your name and numbers are UP THERE, it seems no one is willing to invest that much time or money. Small press gives you more of a percentage of their time and investments than the big houses for MOST authors. But again, the writer has the most to win or loss. And YES, SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION is the new catch phrase!

    To cmcraig – You have provided a terrific forum for this conversation, so thank you. As far as EXCEL, I think I am brain dead when it comes to that application (well, that and a few others) 😦 But I imagine that the premise behind it does work very well.

  10. Malcolm says:

    It’s wonderful sitting here and listening in to what other authors are saying about promotion efforts. Great advice, Chelle from your own journey.

    Malcolm

  11. Chelle Cordero says:

    To Malcolm – I have tried to learn by research and reading. I have also tried to listen to my fellow writers I have met and their own experiences. I have been amazed by some of the innovative ideas around me and I have been inspired by the possibilities.

    To plaidearthworm – I have probably, unwittingly, borrowed this phrase from someone else – but there are many roads we can travel to the same destination. It is how we pursue the journey and the side trips along the way that make all of the difference. Research and be careful, but don’t be so quick to discount a path, it just might be the right one.

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