Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Guest Blogger: Author Janet Elaine Smith

Please welcome multi-published author and master promoter, Janet Elaine Smith. She's here with us all the way from freezing North Dakota. Please give her a big welcome and be sure to leave some questions or comments for her.

1) You’re a master promoter. Would you mind giving us a few tips about what works best for your personal book promotion?

Oh, without a doubt it is the phone calls I make to bookstores all across the country. There were about 300,000 new books published last year, so try to imagine how a bookstore manager or buyer can try to figure out what is even available. By making these calls, if I can get these people excited about my books, they will order a couple of copies and might even recommend them to their customers.

2) How long have you been hosting your own radio program, “Marketing for Fun and Profit!” on Internet Voices Radio? Please tell us about it: how you did you begin, how easy or difficult is it to host, do you see measurable results? Are you accepting new guests and if so, how do we apply?

I think I started in August, 2006. Lillian Caldwell, the owner of Passionate Internet Voices Radio, approached me about hosting the show. I love doing radio, so I think it took me about 2 minutes to decide. I have met some wonderful guests on there. The most important part of being a host for a radio program (either Internet or re

gular) is to make sure you do your homework first and know a bit about your guest and/or book ahead of time. If there is dead air space, you have to be prepared to fill it in.

The entire PIVTR station has grown by leaps and bounds. There have been over 140,000 downloads of podcasts besides the people who listen to the programs live, and it is heard in over 100 countries. All of the statistics are available in the demographics area at . They are awesome!

We are always looking for interesting, exciting new guests, both for my "Marketing for Fun and Profit" program as well as for my "What's Happening" program and some of the other programs. Just send m

e an e-mail to .

3) I see that you’re unable to go out on book signing tours and that you’ve been successful phoning a lot of bookstores to get them into stores. Do you have a basic script that you use or how do you go about it?

I don't technically use a "script," but I did create one after a number of people asked me how to go about making a "cold call" to a bookstore. You can find it at .
The key is to be passionate and excited about your book when you make the call. Start out in your own
area, then build on the success there to expand to neighboring states, etc. Enthusiasm is contagious, and nobody knows and loves a book like its creator.

4) Do you consider the writing and publishing business a tough business? If yes, why?

Writing the book is the easy part. I didn't know that when my first book was published. I had no idea that an author was expected to market their own book. It didn't take long to discover that.

As far as the writing, I think the most important part of it is to make sure you do your research well. Beyond that, get to know your characters before you start the actual writing process. If you can do that, they will direct your story. I often tell new writers that I feel more like a stenographer, writing what my characters dictate to me.

I think the worst part of the whole publishing industry is the veil of secrecy that surrounds everything. Trying to get actual figures of how many and where your books are selling is harder than getting the key to Ft. Knox. I have had some horrible experiences with previous publishers. Now, with Star Publish LLC, I trust my publisher completely. If you find a good and honest publisher, hang onto them with both hands, even if you have to lock them in handcuffs to keep them from disappearing!

5) Please tell us about “ America ’s Most Unwanted” and how it works.

Oh, that started as a lark. It is sort of on hiatus, but as soon as I get a bit of free time I would love to bring it back to life.

Kristie Leigh Maguire, a very good friend and fellow writer, had just been "burned" by another publisher. I was telling my husband about it as we sat at the breakfast table. He remarked, "Boy, she sounds like America's Most Unwanted." I quickly said, "That's brilliant!" I ran to the computer and sent out a note to all of the e-groups I belonged to, asking them if they would like to go up on my website on a new page called "America's Most Unwanted." Their book had to have a ranking of less than 1 million on The page would include a picture of their book, with a link to purchase it on Amazon, and a picture of the author with a link to their website.

I really didn't know if anybody would even consider wanting to be considered one of America's Most Unwanted, but in a few hours I had over 500 replies from people who wanted in.

One of these days, I will get it going again.

6) Please tell us about your “JES Bookspotter”.

A lot of naysayers tell you it is impossible for independent or print-on-demand published books to get into brick-and-mortar stores. I have never met a challenge I didn't like! I set out to prove that it could be done. I have a page on my website ( ) where anybody who sends me a picture of them holding any one of my books (I have 18 published books available now, which still stymies me) at a bookstore, I will post the picture on my website and a link to their website if they have one. I often tell people "The difficult we do right away; the impossible takes a little longer."

As the Marketing Director for Star Publish LLC, I have been able to get other authors' books in the bookstores, too. We have a wonderful group of authors to work with. You can find all of their books at .

7) What’s it like to live in Grand Forks , ND ? What’s the scene outside your front window look like today (the day you’re answering this interview question)?

It is six degrees below zero, with a north wind of about 15 mph, which makes it very cold. It snowed a couple of inches yesterday, so everything looks clean and crisp. The sun is shining brightly, so it looks like diamonds everyplace. As long as I don't have to go outside, it is beautiful. However, this kind of climate is very conducive to staying in and writing! I mean, if I lived in Hawaii I would probably be tempted to go sit on the beach.

8) Is there anything else you’d like to tell your readers or anything else you’d like to add?

If you are a reader, when you find an author you really enjoy, please don't be intimidated by the idea of letting them know. To me, the e-mails and letters I get from readers are the biggest measure of success I have. I love nothing better than to know that I have touched somebody's life by my words, even if it is just to make them smile or laugh a little.

For my fellow authors, believe in yourself. Write the best book you can write. Don't write it to satisfy others; write what you would love to read. Be passionate about your work. Know your characters; let them become your best friends. And read! Even if you read a book you hate, you can learn from it. Knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what to do. And never give up. Don't look at a rejection as a stop sign; view it as a detour and proceed in a slightly different direction.

9) Where can we buy your books and where will you be appearing on and off line in the near future?

You can find them on almost any online bookstore (,,, etc.) or at your local neighborhood bookstore. You don't even have to ask where they are; just look right between Bertrice Small and Danielle Steele. That's not a bad place to sit! If they don't have them, then ask and let them know they can order them through either Ingram or Baker & Taylor.

Thank you, Janet, for chatting with me today. I’m very impressed by your marketing savvy and all your books. I hope you’ll chat with us again. Good luck with all your pursuits and I hope you'll join us again soon.

Thank you so much for letting me share with your readers. Happy reading! Oh, and you can find all of my books (and the first chapter of each one) at .

My blog is at

and my main website is at .

Please stop by for a visit anytime.

Visit Star's Book-of-the-Week Club at

Fun is free; books extra!

Have some more fun at

Tune in to hear her weekly at


Unknown said...

Loved the interview and the questions. It's so hard to know where to start and what to do when it comes to marketing your books - I think most writers are introverts and you sure give us some ways to promote in spite of our shyness. Thanks!
Billie A Williams

Joyce Anthony said...

Great interview!! I'll have to remember the "outside your window" question--it was wonderful!! Good job, Ladies!!

Anonymous said...

I wasn't the first one here this time. But, that doesn't matter since Janet always is one of the number one friends I have. As for the interview, it is fantastic, as I would expect from Janet. I really must be thankful for snow because that has given the world some great books to read.

Molly Daniels said...

Thanks for the tips:) Always useful when promoting yourself and your work:)

Great interview timing, Ashley!

Pee Wee said...

You've come a long way Janet, and you have a lot to be proud of. I've had some success by folowing your suggestions in PromoPaks. It's chock-full of good advertising ways.
Thanks for all the help you've given me.
Pee Wee

Molly Daniels said...

BTW, both of my two pubbed books ate POD. So far, I've gotten 2 signings lined up at B&N, and I've been on the shelf at Borders! It can be done:)

Brynn Paulin said...

Fantastic interview!! Great job, both of you.

Unknown said...

Thanks everybody for supporting Janet, and to you Janet, for being my guest today. I know I'm late popping in, but I was running from softball practice, to pitching lesson, to actual game and just got home for the first time today.

Anyway, I will be checking out your promo pak and I'll have to get over my shyness and call bookstores. The thought of cold calling people, however, gives me the cold sweats.

DJ Kirkby said...

Wow, thank you for all these amazing tips, you gave so many that I have no questions left.

Caffey said...

(((Waving))) Hi Janet! Ah, your Keith Trilogy!!! I must go see all thats new at your site.

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