Marketing Yoda Jennifer Fusco Tackles Our Questions on Author Promotion



Today my marketing Yoda, Jennifer Fusco of the Market or Die Book Series (that I’ve raved about) and Market or Die Author Services (that I hired to write my stellar press release, which landed me four author events to date) has graciously stopped by to share some of her marketing and promotional expertise with us. She’ll be taking questions in the comments too. So if I didn’t ask your burning question, please ask away!

1)   Jen, I’ve talked about your amazing books and some of your career-saving promotional services on my blog, can you give my readers more details on what Market or Die Author Services offers and how it can help them?

First of all, thanks so much for having me, Kourtney.  With Author Services taking off, I haven’t had much time to guest blog, so I appreciate the invitation and the chance to sit still.  🙂

Market or Die Author Services, LLC opened for business in September 2012. It is staffed by me and two additional publicists. MODAS is a full service marketing company designed to provide support to authors at any stage in their career.  We offer basic packages, from helping authors create a brand statement to a website critique to more elaborate packages for marketing and promotions planning.  This month, we started offering publicity to get our clients more coverage on blogs, reviews and in the press. We can also customize a package or offer services a la carte for those who are on a limited budget or only need help in specific areas.

Currently, I have over 20 author services clients, some of whom are published by Harlequin, Mills & Boon, Pocket, Sourcebooks, Henery Press, or published independently.

We like to partner with clients and help them find new readers.

2)   In your experience, what are the three biggest pitfalls for an author when marketing their debut novel?

Oh, let’s see. That’s a tough question.  There are a few common mistakes I see authors making. The first would be branding themselves by their first book, for example, naming a Facebook fan page or website address after their book or series instead of using their name. It’s not a huge pitfall. More like, the biggest rookie mistake.

Second rookie mistake.  Ignoring the importance of a blog tour.  Blogging is a great way to promote a book and meet new people. If you’re a debut author blog as much as you can to get your name out there. Yes, blogging is time consuming.  Yes, you will answer the same questions over and over.  Yes, it will seem like no one commented.  But, your name is out there…and that’s what matters.

Last rookie mistake? Hmm. Probably that some authors haven’t learned that marketing is about building relationships, not sales.  You can’t look at running a Facebook ad and saying it was a failure because it didn’t result in X number of sales.  You have to look at running a Facebook ad to increase the number of people you can communicate with.  If they meet you and interact with you, they are more likely to buy your book.

I tell my clients that marketing isn’t about instant gratification.  We’re in it for the long haul.

3)   Can you tell us a bit about your Market or Die book series? How it came into being and became such a success?

Oh, it was a success? LOL!  I didn’t stop to notice.  🙂

How Market or Die came to be really is a crazy story. It was 2011 and I was presenting a workshop on brand at the Connecticut Fiction Fest conference.  Sarah Wendell from attended my presentation along with Hank Phillipi Ryan.  After my workshop ended, Sarah called me over and said, “You should really write that down. Self pub it.  Writers need to know what you have to say.”

I did.  And, two years and one LLC later, here we are.

Sarah and I have a special bond.  I admire her tremendously.  Without her suggestion, there’s no way I would have thought about turning my workshop into a book and my book into my own company. Sarah saw something I didn’t and I’m forever grateful.

4)   In your time as CTRWA President, what have you seen as the biggest hurdle to new authors breaking into publishing?

In the time I was president of CTRWA we had a lot of professional successes in our chapter. Many members were offered contracts, some from the Big 6, while others were published by small press.  I saw it as a great opportunity for authors to get their work out to the marketplace.  To that end, the biggest hurdle was and still is the lack of elbow room in the marketplace.  It’s soooo crowded. Today is a day when anyone can publish a book. Whether they should is another story.

5)   If you could only impart one bit of marketing wisdom to debut authors, what would it be?

Probably to take your time, build your audience, write your books and have fun.  I see so many authors under pressure to do it all. And, once your career hits that pressure point my fear is that these authors who’ve worked forever to be published will wind up burnt out or looking at their writing career as “just a job.”  Good storytelling is what’s the most important.  You can have the savviest marketing plan, but if your story isn’t well told, savvy marketing won’t help you.

Can you name a product that had great marketing, but when you brought it home you hated it and took it back to the store or worse, threw it away?  I can.  Hello?? Thighmaster.  Yes, I had a mood ring, too. And a chia pet….don’t judge me.

All kidding aside, making best seller lists takes time. There is only one EL James, and JK Rowling. Not everyone hits superstardom with their first book; in fact it’s very rare. We know Stephenie Meyer and EL James by name because they are the exception. And, some would argue it wasn’t the book that made those two superstars, it was the market. (not the marketing!)

So, do understand this.  Yes, marketing is overwhelming. It may seem at times like it’s more important than the writing.  It’s not.  And, if you need help, MODAS is here.  We’re always a mouse click away.

So, while I’m here, are there any marketing questions I can answer for you?  Fire away.

 Jennifer’s Bio

Jennifer Fusco is the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company, North America and the author of the bestselling series, MARKET OR DIE, marketing books for writers.

A three time winner of the Advertising Excellence Award, Jennifer has launched successful national print and digital ad campaigns. Currently, she is a member of the (ANA) Association of National Advertisers and believes brand building is a key to professional success.

Due to the overwhelming response Market or Die received from writers, Ms. Fusco launched a website designed to educate writers of all genres.

In her writing life, Ms. Fusco is a member of RWA’s PRO network and serves as the President of the Connecticut Romance Writers. She has completed two urban fantasy romance manuscripts and is a monthly contributor to the Romance Writers of America’s RWR Report. Born in North Carolina, Jennifer currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and young son.

Facebook Page: Market or Die

Twitter: @JenniferAFusco

Kourtney popping in here again. I just wanted to add my two cents–as a client of Jennifer’s, I can say that one of the best things about Market or Die Author Services is their range of  services, which are priced to fit any writer’s budget! I couldn’t afford a publicist, but Jen helped me maximize my marketing without breaking the bank. Check out Market or Die Author Services packages to learn more.


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40 Responses to Marketing Yoda Jennifer Fusco Tackles Our Questions on Author Promotion

  1. Marc Schuster says:

    Great interview… And full of excellent, practical advice! Thanks for posting it!

  2. Susannah Hardy says:

    Hey, there, Marketing Goddess! I have a long time until my first book is released. What can I do to build relationships and a readership in the meantime?

    • jenniferfusco says:

      Suze!! Hey hot mamma, I would advise you to start on your website if you don’t already have one. Create one that fits your author brand. Make it match your writing personality and style. Once you have the website hosted, I’d start on building relationships via social media.

  3. Rhonda Lane says:

    Thanks for stopping by Kourtney’s blog. So timely, in that I have questions today. 🙂 I’m finally biting the autoresponder bullet and am setting up a mailing list, except now I’m worried that I should set up two. Ya see, I have the horsey blog and an author site with a less active blog. Can I use the two blogs to feed into a single list for a newsletter? Thanks!

    • jenniferfusco says:

      Rhonda, do you mean in applications? I think mailchimp will allow for that. However, just make sure the content is right for both audiences when you send out your email communications to the compiled group.

  4. winsomebella says:

    Thanks for sharing your guru—-great info and it helped me to be reminded of the importance of building relationships.

    • Happy to share her with you! We met at a critique group in CTRWA back in 2010. She was a marketing genius by day and a writer by night. When she published her books, I knew I’d need them someday and purchased them on my Kindle. They have been the most useful marketing tool I invested in to date. 🙂

    • jenniferfusco says:

      Thanks so much for commenting. I appreciate it.

    • jenniferfusco says:

      I’m so happy you found it helpful.

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    I love the name of this service. I think ‘Market AND Die’ would be appropriate, too, as sometimes my writing time ‘dies’ because I’m spending too much time marketing. 😉

    • jenniferfusco says:

      HI Carrie, That’s so funny. I actually got the name of my books/business because of the grape arbors I have at my house. I associated word of mouth like the grapevine and if not nourished, it dies.

    • LOL. Too true Carrie! 🙂 I am enjoying the break from writing. But I can feel stories scraping against the back of my brain itching to get out.

  6. Great interview! Thanks ladies.

  7. Pete Denton says:

    Great interview, Kourtney. I’m trying to soak everything up to ready myself for when it’s my turn. You’re posing so many questions and things I’d never think of you are a public service blog 🙂

    • Thanks Pete. I’m glad to share the knowledge. I’ve gotten some great stuff from other blogs and websites. I’m just trying to pay it forward. And I’m lucky I know people who are willing to answer my questions so patiently. 🙂

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    Wow, this post is definitely getting bookmarked! If it’s possible for a post to be “well-thumbed” like a great reference book, this will be it. 🙂 Thanks so much, Kourtney and Jennifer!

  9. Tawny Weber says:

    Great interview and wonderful information!! I’ll join the chorus singing Jennifer’s praises 🙂

    Jennifer, I’m gonna put you on the spot and ask one of those tough questions *g* : What do you think is a reasonable amount of time for an author to put into marketing each day/week/month? I know many who do almost nothing, only hitting the social networks before a release. And I know others who go in so hard and strong that they burnout on it and then want to hide for a year. Is there a sweet spot? I’d assume it’s a little different for each author, but how does one figure that out?

    • jenniferfusco says:

      Hi Tawny: I don’t think there’s a mandatory amount of time you must market. I’ve seen, and respect, many authors who write a message on their FB page telling fans that they’re going in the “writing cave” and will be back soon. Setting expectations shouldn’t result in a drop in fan engagement. If they are true fans, they want you writing instead of playing around on Facebook. They’re your readers after all.

    • Thanks for stopping by Tawny! We should get together and write a songbook on Jennifer. 🙂

  10. 4amWriter says:

    Great, practical advice that I will referring to in the future! Thanks 🙂

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    Great interview 🙂 And a question…

    Is there follow-up etiquette after a press release is picked up by a newspaper or radio? Do you send a thank-you? A copy of the book? Or, you gave them fodder so your job is done?


    • jenniferfusco says:

      Hi Dani,
      Keeping a relationship friendly with the press is always a good thing. Should they feature you, a thank you e-mail is nice to do. However, it’s not required. (but I recommend it 🙂 )

  12. You said Thighmaster. Har! I’m one of Jennifer’s happy, happy clients, by the way. She’s the best!

  13. susanmboyer says:

    Great interview! I’m afraid I’m late to the party, and others have asked the burning questions in my mind. I do like the title, Marketing Goddess! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing all of this wonderful, practical information!

  14. EllaDee says:

    As always I’m impressed by your resourcefulness, networking and willingness to be guided and assisted. And, then share the wonders you find 🙂

    • Thanks EllaDee. I’d attribute that skillset to my years in consulting. I learned to spot the experts and then soak up everything I could from them so I could replicate it. I also learned when to take a task on and when to outsource it 😉 Knowledge sharing was a big part of that career too. Giving back and making sure you helped others as you’d been helped. It got ingrained in me. 🙂

  15. Loved this interview. I’m afraid I’ve reached the “just a job” stage with my writing. Thank you for putting things in perspective.

    • Thanks M.E.! Sorry you’ve reached that point. I went through something similar after a series of rejections. I took a break. Then forced myself back to work. It was a few months before it felt like my pleasure and my passion again. Hope you get there!

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