Dare to Read

February 7, 2011

Marketing for Writers. Interview with Shelli Johannes-Wells

Filed under: Author's Interview,On Marketing — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:08 am
Tags: , ,

by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Today, I have invited Shelli Johannes-Wells to join me.

Shelli is a YA/MG writer who runs a wonderful marketing blog for authors “Market my Words” (www.faeriality.blogspot.com) I highly recommend.

Shelli has, kindly, agreed to answer my questions about the best strategies for authors to promote their books. Her answers were so thorough and insightful, I have decided to share them with you, my readers, in two posts, so you can digest them at leisure.

Please read on.

CFE. As an author with no previous experience on sales, I am baffled by the marketing part of the business. So I was somehow relieved when someone as knowledgeable as Alvina Ling, Executive Editor at Little Brown (Young Readers) said in answer to your question “what do you feel is most important in promoting books? What doesn’t seem to work?

“To be honest, the longer I’m in the business, the more clueless I am about what works and what doesn’t. It really seems like a crap shoot to me. I know this isn’t a great answer–but it’s the truth!”


Do you agree with Ms. Ling’s answer?

SJW. I think a lot of people do not know how to organize so they do just throw stuff out there. I think you can organize your marketing so it is relevant, not too expensive and very targeted.  I’ll say this – if you don’t do anything, you can be sure it won’t work. But if you do everything and it’s just random, it’s not worth the time either. It needs to be to the point and specific.

CFE. Even if it’s hard to guess what works or not when promoting your book, what steps would you recommend to an author whose book has already being released?

SJW. First, I think every author needs a web presence. That should be first and can be done way before you get published.

The author needs to organize and write down 3-5 target audiences. Not just teens, schools, bookstores and libraries. But really think about who they are targeting. The niche’s their book touches.

Then I think the author needs to come up with a plan of attack for each target audience and decide what will reach them in the most effective way.

CFE. I have heard an author must have a blog. So my question is, what can the author do, in the way of advertising, to increase the traffic to his/her site?

SJW. Actually I DON’T think a blog is a must for everyone. Web site – I would say yes. But anything after that needs to be what the author feels comfortable with and it needs to be purposeful. If you start a blog and only post once a month, it’s a waste of time if networking is what you want out of it.

Now, if you do have a blog and want to increase traffic – you need to think of it as relationship building and go out and meet people. Kinda like – you wont get a date if you dont talk to guys. Does that make sense. A few easy ways to build traffic are: post regularly, visit others and comment, and have short posts that are timely. Don’t plug yourself all the time. Do it to meet others and they will come 🙂  Of course – you can always read up on SEO optimization and making sure your blogs are listed in places like STUMBLEUPON or technorati.

CFE. What is more productive in your opinion, running contests on your blog or commenting on other authors/possible readers blogs? Other suggestions.

SJW. Any of it. To me, if you are genuine and give back, people come by. Show your voice, run contests, meet your followers and your blog will grow over time. It does take time. Just like Rome, no blog was built overnight (wow am I profound or what today? :L)

To be continued…


  1. thanks for having me 🙂

    Comment by shelli Wells — February 7, 2011 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  2. You’re very welcome.

    And thanks to you for agreeing to come to my blog today.

    Comment by carmenferreiroesteban — June 16, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  3. Ah, yes, the Dreaded Blog!

    I finally relented and set one up to see what I could do about generating more interest in my eBook. What I am discovering has surprised me: the benefits gained run counter to my expectations.

    I had resisted starting a blog because writing THERE would mean I wasn’t writing elsewhere–ie, working on that next manuscript–but in fact, I am writing MORE everywhere. Before the blog was there tapping its impatient digital toes, I quite simply wasn’t writing anything most of the time. And an author who doesn’t write is like a fish afraid of the water. Now, when I feel I’ve thrown enough at blogging for a while, there’s something else impatiently tapping digital toes; a chapter that once took months to get around to completing has dwindled to several hours’ effort. Surprise! I’ve been exercising my writing muscles.

    Now I suspect one of the best benefits of the Dreaded Blog is the fact that it keeps brain and fingers in motion… How dreadful can that be, really?

    Comment by doombirdsaerie — June 17, 2011 @ 10:04 am | Reply

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