by Daisy Willis
Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She is also an Assent Publishing Imprint Editor for Romance (Breathless Books) and Women's Fiction (Panoptic Books).
As an Author Success Coach, Deborah focuses exclusively on publicity, marketing, and promotional solutions for authors. She teaches live and online Author Success Workshops and has spoken at writers groups and conferences across the country.
GLVWG member Daisy Willis contacted Deborah to ask her about author promotions, marketing, and the genres she's interested in acquirng for Assent Publishing.
Daisy: New authors are often daunted by the fact that they now have to master both their craft and the marketing of it. How does Assent Academy help your authors with this challenge?
Deborah: In most cases, writers and authors, new or established, accept the fact that they must market their books. The only thing standing in their way is the fact that marketing represent a whole new skill set, seemingly in a foreign language to boot. They simply don’t understand how to use it, when to use it or why it works, but good marketing is more like writing than anyone realizes. It requires plotting, planning, practice and creativity. Taking all the mystical terror out of the task is the key to real success.
Assent Publishing is the first publisher of any size to establish an exclusive, internal, professionally-run training system for our contracted authors at no charge. The mandatory workshops are designed to give Assent authors a powerful marketing advantage through education, guidance and advice, strategies specifically developed for the author’s book(s) and time management skills.
Daisy: How important is social media in promoting an author's work? Does a strong platform help sway you towards an author or does the manuscript stand alone?
Deborah: Social media is an author’s VOICE. An author’s platform – including author website, book website, consistent and well-targeted blogging, twitter and Facebook presence – pumps blood into author success. Without tooting your horn, no one knows there’s a wonderful book coming on to the market. The time to start is when an author starts writing the book.
Our submission guidelines require a querying author give us an idea of how much they understand about marketing and their target book buyer. Yes, their platform comes in to play when we consider signing an author. I STRONGLY suggest that every writer Google themselves to see what we see. If their online presence is lacking, it’s not the end of the world, but it does tell our Managing Imprint Editors if that author is geared for marketing success. We’re looking for authors who want sales success and we give them the tools to do it.
Daisy: You're looking for romance, fantasy and women's fiction. How does a story really stand out in these genres?
Deborah: I’m pretty easy and a lot like every other book lover in the world. Catch my attention quickly, tell me a great story, give me compelling, polished writing and entertain me. I’m usually sold in the first five to fifty pages. If a writer can’t show me what I need to know in those first pages – that they have honed their craft, written a great story, and presented a well-edited piece – then I will pass.
Romance must be powerful, fantasy has to send my imagination soaring and women’s fiction needs to make me hold my breath for the main character. Like I said, I’m just like every other book lover in the world.
Daisy: As Managing Editor for Assent's romance imprint, Breathless Books, you must be excited about the "Great Romance" contest wrapping up at the end of April. What inspired this contest and what are you looking for in a winner?
Deborah: The Great Romance contest was created to bring new and remarkable romance to the forefront. We’re seeking great romance that isn’t bound to the standard formulaic plot structures and character traits we’ve all seen a thousand times. All romance subgenres are welcome, so the variety of the submissions has been exciting. The contest is an age-old challenge to tell us a love story in a different way. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back isn’t going to cut it. Our Breathless Books Imprint wants romance writers to show us their creative muscle!
Daisy: Given your expertise in marketing, you probably have some good advice on pitching a story. What works and what doesn't?
Deborah: All I ask is that a pitching author truly KNOWS their story. If you can’t pitch me in 25-30 words – and within those few words convey the genre, who will read that book and what it’s about – you might lose me. If you hook me in with those 25-30 words, I will ask for more and more. Getting an idea across with a well-crafted economy of words tells me that your writing is strong. Don’t babble and by all means, please don’t be nervous. I’ve been on your side of the table. I don’t bite and I want you to be successful!
Get your 25-30 word pitch as polished as possible. Practice it, rehearse it and know it well because that perfect pitch will carry you through everything from getting a publishing contract to requesting reviews, enticing the press, and gaining live speaking or book signing engagements. Done well, it can be your most powerful marketing tool. And never forget, you are marketing to the editor or agent you pitch.