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Monday, June 02, 2014

Expert Advice - Guest Post by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children, a Maltese Menace and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. 

Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction novels. Ronie can be found at, on Facebook (, Twitter (@roniekendig), and Goodreads (

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Every once in awhile you meet someone who is genuinely beautiful inside and out--and nothing could be truer of Kellie Coates Gilbert, a brilliant author I now call one of my closest friends. So, it's with great honor that I introduce you to this truly remarkable woman and let you draw from her wisdom! 

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Some events in life take a little planning and preparation, even some concentrated training. Before birthing a baby, expectant parents often attend classes designed to teach them what to expect in labor and delivery, to breathe through contractions, when to push and when not to. A chef would be foolish not to read a recipe carefully before attempting hollandaise sauce or chicken cordon bleu. Runners buy just the right shoes and practice for months leading up to a marathon.

As an author about to launch a book this week, I found myself yearning for the best information on how to introduce a new book to readers. How could I effectively showcase my contemporary women’s fiction novel, A WOMAN OF FORTUNE about a Dallas socialite who loses her lavish lifestyle when her husband is arrested for commodities fraud, to the world?

In a moment of brilliance (uh, sorry . . . but I don’t have many and I’m proud of this one) I decided to go to some PUBLISHING EXPERTS I admire and ask for advice. Here’s what they had to say:
Network. Network, network, network. In our fiction space, a reader may take a just few weeks—or even just a few hours!—to tear through the story that an author has poured months or years of her life into writing. It makes zero sense to hang onto “your” readers as though they’ll not search for other books before your next novel launch. Instead, build a network of author friends at all career stages and share in the promotional work of lifting up each other’s work, singing each other’s praises, as voracious readers will appreciate the recommendations to keep their to-be-read piles stocked. And, bonus, this kindness will be noticed and appreciated by those loyal readers as the mark of a generous spirit. Author Jennifer Weiner put it well in an interview: “I always wanted to be somebody who was trying to help other people make their way up the ladder, not somebody who pulled the ladder up after her.” -- Katie Bond
, Director of Marketing – Fiction Harper Collins Christian Publishing
So most important piece of advice for authors who are launching a book: Assess the real “hooks’ for your book that are discussable or promotable not just “here is a new book by xxxx author” and then plan far ahead for marketing, publicity and promotion to use those hooks effectively: Long lead reviewers need a manuscript six months before publication; many publicity opportunities require four months lead time; make sure potential endorsers have two months to read and provide a blurb-- so bottom line is to have a detailed written marketing plan you can follow for each month pre-pub and post-pub. Keep adding new items as you learn about them and follow the plan. -- Natasha Kern
 Agent/owner Natasha Kern Literary Agency (sold more than 1200 books over her twenty year career)
In all you do in this job, keep the subliminal message in mind. If your website is ho-hum and full of errors, the subliminal message is: So is your book. If the presentation you gave was sloppy and thrown together, the subliminal message is: So is your book. If your promotional materials are sub-par, the subliminal message is: So is your book. On the other hand, if your website, presentation, and promotional materials are top-drawer, the subliminal message is: So is your book. And remember, top-drawer doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. It means professional, clear, concise, well put together, etc. -- Deeanne Gist
, Bestselling, Award-winning author of FAIR PLAY, Simon & Schuster
For any novelist, I would say that it is very important to build his/her social media platform while you are writing—even if you have not been published yet! Begin your presence on Facebook, start a twitter account, read up on the best ways to market your book through social media, hire a coach to help you, follow people who do it well, and utilize any friendship you have to help spread the word. By establishing relationships with people before your book launches, you will have a fan base to draw upon. Then when you have that fun launch party online, there will hopefully be hundreds or thousands of people waiting to read your brand new book! -- Twila Bennett
, Executive Director of Marketing and Publicity Revell Books
"I would say, do everything you can to broaden your horizons. Ten years ago, it was enough to consistently write good books and spend some time each day answering reader emails. Today, writers must be thinking far beyond that scope. Is there a blog group you can join? Are there other authors you can share promotions with? Is there a magazine you could write articles for and have your book mentioned in the byline? Could you contribute a recipe or a decorating idea to a magazine, blog, Pinterest board? Do you live in an interesting place? Have a fascinating hobby? Are you a mom who could share your experiences with other moms? Do you have a professional career that would lend itself to articles or interviews? Consider all the parts of your fully-rounded self as potential outreaches into the world beyond the pages -- not in a mercenary way, but in the same natural way we make friends with other soccer moms or coworkers in the real world. When you can share something that's fun and has added value, promotion ceases to be promotion and becomes human connection. -- Lisa Wingate
, National bestselling author of The Prayer Box and The Story Keeper, Tyndale
Be a friend to indies. Be a good customer first. -- Wanda Jewell, Executive Director
 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
So, there you have it. While this is certainly not an exhaustive compilation of advice from knowledgeable experts out there, these comments are a sampling of what a few respected publishing professionals and successful authors had to say on the subject.

 Before I end, I want to also include something I’ve often heard in marketing workshops. THROW A PARTY EVERYONE WILL WANT TO ATTEND!

 So, folks . . . that is what I’m doing! Get out the confetti and party hats because tomorrow night on June 3 at 7:00 central, we’re gathering to celebrate the release of my new book via live online video. Every person who joins us will be given a complimentary digital subscription to RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine and a half-priced lifetime membership to PULPWOOD QUEENS, the nation’s largest book club as seen on Good Morning America and Oprah.

In addition, we’ll be giving away hundreds of dollars worth of prizes and talking about books. Doesn’t that sound fun? I hope you will join us. Register at

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A former legal investigator and trial paralegal, Kellie Coates Gilbert writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. Her books tell emotionally poignant stories about woman in life-changing circumstances.  

For more information, go to


  1. Great advice, Kellie! I'm halfway through A Woman of Fortune and I'm loving it! It's a great book. Kellie's back ground in investigation sure shows. :)

    1. Thanks, Ane. Glad you are enjoying the story. Thank you for having me on Novel Rocket today! Don't you love all this great advice?

  2. Thanks for including me, Kellie! I loved reading what everyone else had to say, too. The more we can work together, the more a book launch does become like a party. I'm so happy to be part of your party… and to have enjoyed your fab new offering early. It's a great read. Congratulations, girlfriend!

  3. I'd like to interject just a bit of food for thought. I'm a staunch supporter of authors, occasionally even those I choose not to read because of genre. I feature them on my blog, review them on Amazon, post them on Facebook and Twitter. I'll tell you the authors who have, IMO and experience, promoted other authors the best and the most and those are the indie/self-published/small press authors. They reciprocate as this very good post suggests. They donate their time and efforts to all kinds of authors, including those of us who are quite frankly ignored by traditionally published authors. Time is always a factor for writers. Commitments affect everyone's timetable, but I take my hat off to those authors willing to reciprocate for once considered "lesser" self-pubbed/indie/small press authors. We need it more than anyone, and I've yet to promote one who hasn't produced a book equally as good as most trad published authors. Just sayin' . . .

  4. I feel a little self-conscience approaching another author and speaking about my book idea or a novel I am currently working on. Is this a normal feeling or is it something I should learn to overcome before I say anything? I feel a little funny about asking someone to read something (I know, it's silly! How else will I get published?) but perhaps it's that I feel as though asking someone who IS published, they might be far more critical of my writing than, say, an editor or a book publisher, from which I fully expect such critiques.

    Once I have finished my story, though, what next?

    1. I would not be where I am today (multi-published) without the wonderful training and help of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. For very little investment (I think less than $50 annually) you will gain access to an email loop of writers who discuss these very issues, you will have critique groups available to you, you will have top-notch online workshops and an annual conference that is known as the best in the industry. RUN.....and sign up! If you aspire to be a novelist, this is God's gift to you. (and best wishes to you on your writing path!)

  5. I registered this morning and it is now time for the event, but I never received directions on where it is being held or how to get to it. Very disappointing.


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