Monday, August 29, 2011

Jannine Corti Peska: Promoting the Ethnic Novel Without Breaking the Bank + Giveaway

30 Days of Promo Goodness is coming to an end, but first I have the privelige of hosting author Jannine Corti Peska, author of Love's Sweet Wager!

Jannine was born in New York but raised in Southern California. Her parents' first language was Italian, and Jannine was raised in an Old World environment. She began writing romance novels when her three daughters were young and she was a stay-at-home mom. In-between writing and caring for her family, she tutored Italian, Spanish, German, and English as a Second Language at a local college. Although she loves placing her stories in medieval Italy, she has also written romantic tales of the cowboy in the American West. To find out more about Jannine, her website offers a host of information:! [See giveaway details at the bottom of this post.]

Take it away, Jannine....

Promoting a book is tough enough, but what happens when the book takes place in an unfamiliar setting like medieval Italy with an Italian hero and heroine? These are my favorite books to research and write. However, when it came time to promote, I knew I had to come up with something different, something to associate my books with Italy and Italians in a positive and attractive way. Of course, extolling the romantic nature of Italy is a good place to start.

Look for magazines and other publications with an audience for your ethnic novel: I belong to several Italian-American organizations both local and nationwide. Advertising in their newsletters, newspapers and magazines was my first thought…until I discovered how many of these organizations there really are! Taking out ads is costly, so I did the next best thing—I wrote articles for various publications associated with these groups. At the end of each article, I mentioned my books and website. With over 25 million Italians and Italian-Americans in the U.S., I was sure to capture a boat-load of attention. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Scoping out this type of promo is extremely time-consuming, I discovered. So I began on a local level and plan to span out nationwide to as many venues as I can without taking away from my writing time.

Because my books are medieval, I submitted several articles about medieval Italy (the subjects were researched and became part of my stories) to Renaissance Magazine who accepted them for publication. They are a national magazine and possibly have subscribers worldwide. This type of promo is genre specific instead of based in the ethnic side of my books. But you can’t beat free publicity, and you get paid upon acceptance.

Online resources: Reaching readers online is a sure thing. But you have to be aggressive though not to the point of annoying. Get your name out in cyberland and keep it there. If you have a blog, make it interesting. Give your audience more than a rundown of what you do when you’re not writing. Line up exciting guests, offer exciting subjects for the reader. And keep it fairly short. Personally, if it looks to be a super long read, I don’t bother with it. I simply don’t have the time.

Contact groups who might be interested in your book’s theme or setting. I’ve contacted many online blogs geared toward Italian-Americans. I promote my books on a blog that comes from Italy. The owners translate my English submission into Italian (my Italian is a bit rusty), and their fans’ Italian comments into English to help me respond. I’ve found that many readers belonging to these blogs read English, so you don’t have to worry about your book not being in their language. It would be nice if your book was translated, but in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.

Look for reader/writer loops. They reach a worldwide audience. I’ve received fan letters from countries I didn’t know allowed their women to read romances! The possibilities for promoting online are endless. It’s just a matter of connecting with both readers and writers who will become acquainted with you from your presence. Be sure to comment on other authors’ promo. This, too, puts your name in from of readers. Remember, don’t overlook loops only for writers. They’re readers, too.

I joined an obscene number of these loops. (I wouldn’t advise this unless you have 72 hours in your day for reading thousands of emails.) Eventually, I pared the list down to manageable. Set up guest spots on other authors’ blogs. Offer a contest with the winner receiving a copy of your latest book. You can ask a question that will take readers to your website to find the answer. Now they’ll get to learn more about you and your other books.

Many writers set up blog tours which are considered a virtual book tour. You’ll stop by various blogs to talk to readers about your books—usually new releases—instead of stopping in a brick and mortar bookstore for a booksigning. You can figure out where you’ll get the most exposure.

Send your book out to reviewers. And be sure to thank them (on their site, if possible, where everyone can see it) after your book is reviewed, whether the review is good or bad. Always be courteous. After all, they didn’t have to take the time to read your work.

If you must pay for online ads with review sites or any others that offer advertising, wait for a special. Many occasionally run a 2 for 1 special or a discounted rate if you pay for 3 months or more in advance.

Leaving a Paper Trail: I love bookmarks and postcards printed with my book covers and a few words to entice the reader. They’re accepted at conferences, although I’ve noticed a few who request no paper promotions. That’s great. No extra garbage in the landfills. However, readers still love bookmarks, postcards, even little booklets with a full chapter from your book. At the Romantic Times conference this past April, there were so many clever ideas attached to bookmarks. Mini handcuffs (no lie!), beads and feathers for American Indian-themed books, tiny flip-flops for a summer-themed contemporary. Get creative.

There are so many reasonable online resources to purchase paper promo. Inquire on your loops about the companies fellow authors use. Personally, I love Overnight Prints. Their work is exceptional, and often they run specials. Vista Prints is great for getting free business cards (250) just for the cost of shipping. You can also get 100 free postcards if you’re savvy in uploading your own cover. I’m not, lol.

Keep a sharp eye on your loops for announcements asking for promo items to include in goody bags for conferences with romance readers/writers in mind. Most paper promo is easy to package and ship off for little cost. I carry a handful of bookmarks and postcards in my purse and whip one out for anyone who reads romances. You can widen this by leaving your bookmarks in your ob/gyn’s or dentist’s offices, and beauty shops, with permission, of course. One of my books with an Italian and U.S. setting had an Italian National Soccer player hero. I spent a lot of time at league soccer games passing out bookmarks to moms (and anyone else who was interested).

Do More To Make Your Book Stand Out: One thing I did to promo my Italian medievals is a huge favorite at conferences. I buy little two-bite biscotti in bulk, place them in small plastic bags (any craft store will have them; I buy mine at Michael’s with their own 40% off coupon) then seal and staple my business card or bookmark to them. Not only will a person enjoy the Italian cookie, but she’ll also associate it with my book and its unique setting. And it is relatively inexpensive.

I’ve sat at Italian Festas around So. California. I plan to go to Sons of Italy lodges to talk up my books. Little Italy in San Diego is a definite place for me to go. I’ve also sat at booksignings put on by libraries. Those usually are free publicity.

No matter if you write books set in China, India, Russia—any location that is not the norm—there will always be something unique to the country and your book that will make a great marketing tool. Open your mind and your imagination. You’d be surprised by all the ways you can promote the work you’ve created and keep spending at a minimum.

Thank you for the wonderful article, Jannine! Readers, be sure to read more about Jannine and her books at her website and tune in tomorrow for a glimpse into her latest release, Love's Sweet Wager....

By commenting to either today or tomorrow's posts by Jannine Corti Peska, you will be entered to win a copy of her upcoming release, The Lily and the Falcon, Book I of her Italian medieval series. The winner will be chosen randomly via the True Random Number Generator at Check back to see if you have won. The winner will be announced on Wednesday; August 31 here at The Cozy Page. [Chances of winning depend on the number of entries; you must be 18 years or older to enter.]


Joy Taylor Jaeger said...

Jannine: you mentioned so many great promo ideas I never would have thought of. Just love the biscotti in the bag with your calling card idea. Marvelous. Thank you for the various suggestions. Joy

Susan Blexrud said...

Excellent advice, Jannine. I also love the biscotti idea. Targeting promotion based on your story line is so smart!

MaryG said...


What great ideas you have for promotion. The biscotti idea was sure creative as is going to all meetings of Italian groups.


Jannine said...

You're quite welcome, Joy. I'm so happy that you got some new promo ideas from my article.

Thanks for commenting.

Jannine said...

Thanks, Susan. I haven't come up with an idea yet for book 2 of my Italian medieval series. It takes place in Palermo and is about the beginning of the mafia. LOL

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Jannine said...

Thanks, Mary. I'll be doing more Italian-related promoting soon. I've got a few ideas, but none will top the biscotti, lol.

Glad you stopped by.

marybelle said...

Thank you for sharing yourself with us. A great post to read.


Jannine said...

Thanks for dropping in, Marybelle

Gabriella Hewitt said...

Jannine, thank you for a fantastic post. It's filled with great information. I also write stories with an ethnic angle. In my case, the characters are Latino and I am also interested in how to market them in a way that draws in more readers.

I also appreciate the info on promo items. I am in the process of creating bookmarks for an upcoming signing. I'm going to check out Overnight Prints.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice! Thank you for all those tips. You've really done the spade-work and I love that you have so many suggestions. If one isn't right for a particular book, three others probably are. And the more Italian-set books that are out there the better for us all. Hoping to join you there in a couple of years. :)

Regan said...

These are great suggestions! I had another few to add. On Amazon there are many reader discussions going all the time and some specifically ask for recommendations for certain types of romances. Also, if you know someone likes your genre, you can offer them a free book if they'll rate/review it on Amazon. Several authors have asked me to do that--and, while they don't control my ratings, they have thanked me as my review has helped sell their book.

Jannine said...

Gabriella, Vivian and Regan:
Thank you so much for reading my article and for commenting. Promoting one's book is an individual job. Our books are unique in some way, and we should capitalize on that.

Thank you , ladies.

Jannine said...

We have a winner! The ebook goes to Marybelle!!!!!

Congratulations, Marybelle!

And thank you, Amber, for hosting me the last two days. It was a blast!