In rummaging around the internet following the various links other bloggers have posted regarding Brandilyn and her career, I discovered that she was in marketing before she began writing. I think it shows. At her blog Forensics and Faith she details her long road to publication.
She admits here that she was a reluctant blogger, but started at the advice of her publisher's marketing team. To launch the Kanner Lake series, she created a new blog written by...other writers, who auditioned for the privilege.
I asked her, "How did you come up with the idea of the Scenes and Beans blog--and has the outcome met your hopes?"
I read a lot of marketing books, and the bottom line of all the new ones is the idea of marketing through grassroots. Call it tiger marketing, guerilla marketing, pyromarketing, what have you--it's all the same. Getting people to talk about your product is the key. I wanted to give readers a reason to talk about my Kanner Lake series--more reason than the books themselves. I wanted to get readers involved in my fictional town and in the lives of my characters. I wanted to offer them something that would be entertaining, plus would benefit them in other ways. The writers for Scenes and Beans gain recognition for their own writing, plus they earn an autographed copy of Violet Dawn. Currently the original SBGs (Scenes and Beans bloggers) are writing the posts through December. But auditions have already opened up for any reader of Violet Dawn to submit a post. These reader posts will begin running in January. Details for auditioning--and what you receive in return--are on this page of the Kanner Lake web site.
Scenes and Beans blog is quite new, so the end results of this marketing idea are yet to be seen. I have seen positive results in the lives of the SBGs. Some of them have been written up in their local papers due to their winning their roles--very nice, long articles with photos. Some are seeing increased traffic to their own blogs, due to links from Scenes and Beans. Some have seen recognition from editors/agents at the recent ACFW writers conference due to the fact that they write for Scenes and Beans. Longterm for the blog, however, I want to build readership, and this is what I'm working on now, and will continue to work on.
I also asked her, "What are the best ways (in your opinion) for a writer to aid in marketing their books?"
Come up with a clever idea to get people talking about your book. Also, at a minimum, have a professional-looking Web site that features first chapters of your books, plus shows something about you as a writer. Build an email address list for a newsletter (remember--people MUST sign up for this, or you'll be considered spam.) Reach out to booksellers. They're the ones on the front lines who are selling your product.
Most of all--write a quality book! And understand that name recognition (which equals sales) takes time to build. You're not likely to hit great sales right away. It's a process that can take years and numerous books.
If you're curious, as I was, how someone comes to think of writing a novel where someone finds a dead body in their hot tub, check out this interview. I could visualize it so clearly...LOL.