Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Marketing Matters

At this weekend's Saturday Writers workshop with Jen Cullerton Johnson, one aspect of writing that Jen stressed was the importance of marketing. During her presentation she shared her publishing experience, including how her book was selected from the slush pile and how the illustrations came about. She also stressed that while writing and publishing a book is hard work, after your book is written and published, the really hard work of marketing begins.

On Saturday it was my good fortune to share table space with Jen and her sweet and polite son Nico, so I was able to take some pointers. Jen was extremely approachable and very inspiring. She was also flexible and seemingly unflappable. While Jen's book SEEDS OF CHANGE won't be available until next month, that didn't seem to bother her. She came prepared. Here are some tips I took from her:

* Approachability - After Jen's initial presentation and before the workshop, several writers came up to talk to her. She was sincere and inspiring at reaching out and answering questions from writers, including young writers and poets who had won in our annual writing contests.

* Visual aids - She posted a good-sized cardboard display of her SEEDS OF CHANGE cover and packets of "seeds of change" as handouts and for use during the workshop. She also had a display of plants of various shapes and sizes.

* A clipboard and sign-up sheet - These were available for people interested in purchasing her book, and she offered a discount to anyone attending her workshop.

* An assistant - Jen's son Nico was her able assistant.

* A camera - While Sheree Nielsen, the Saturday Writers' photographer, took shots of Jen and workshop attendees, Jen also brought a camera of her own. Nico knew how to use the camera and when to get a good shot of his mom. Jen used her display poster as the background for many of the photos.

* Plan B - Technical difficulties prevented Jen from presenting her slides, but she used the time to connect with the audience by asking questions about their writing.

* Giveaways - In addition to seed packets and other gaily wrapped giveaways, Jen also gave away certificates to children for her to come talk at their schools. The certificates for adults were for manuscript evaluations or a discount to attend a publishing workshop in Chicago.

* Business cards - She exchanged business cards with other writers.

* Good will - She offered to do reciprocal links to writers with blogs.

* Review copies - Although she didn't have copies of her book, she took business cards from writers willing to review it. She's going to send that information to her publisher so the publisher can send review copies to those reviewers.

That's a snapshot of what I observed about marketing from Jen. In a future post I will share what I learned about nature writing during Jen's Nature Writing Workshop.


  1. I did enjoy Jen's presentation. She did a great job!


  2. It was an informative day, and congratulations to you on winning one of the big raffle prizes.

  3. Jen sounds like a hard-working writer, Donna. Great marketing ideas to file away, but I think her attitude is the real selling point!

  4. Hi Cathy,
    You are so right. Jen had a great attitude, even when things didn't go well.


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...