And Some Other Novel Journey-ites

October 25, 2007 | Written by admin

The response to the interview with Gina Holmes of the popular Novel Journey website has been fabulous — it’s nice to bring on somebody smart once in a while, just to balance out the usual stuff. So with that in mind, I went to some of Gina’s sidekicks at their site ( to ask some follow-up questions…

First, I asked Ane Mulligan,"As you look at the authors and books that have come in to Novel Journey over the past couple of years, what have been the biggest changes you’ve seen?"

Ane: "In the CBA, more and more authors are writing about real life and not avoiding the taboo subjects. No question in my mind — that’s the biggest change. Real Christians, including people in ministry and in pastors’ families, tell lies, get pregnant outside of marriage, struggle with addictions — in other words, they SIN. One of the reasons we as Christians write is to touch lives. And I believe that readers let down their guard when they think they are being entertained. So by offering a good story, by using the senses, by relying on strong craft, a good writer draws the reader into the book. Then, when they least expect it, the reader is confronted by truth. A good story touches, teaches, and transforms people."

I then tracked down Jessica Dotta, who formerly worked as a marketing account manager before becoming a fiction publicist, and is another one of the people who help create the site. My question to her: "What marketing and promotional trends are you seeing with fiction?"

Jessica: "The internet continues to be an amazing portal for authors to gain exposure. And not just with readers who happen to pass by a particular site, but with industry professionals. Unlike other forms of media, there’s a pretty good chance authors can have direct contact with the editor or the producer, as well as the target audience. That’s a huge advantage to a writer."

I then asked if she had anything specific that she could point to regarding internet marketing:

"I keep my eye on book trailers because they reveal a lot of information. Studies have shown that most people only retain about 20% of what they see, 30% of what they hear, but 70% of what they hear and see. So I think one of the directions we’re going is to see more faces and more voices pushing books on the internet. But they’ve got to be promoting the book specifically — If you’re doing an online book trailer, beware of words just flashing across the screen with a music score behind it. In my opinion, that lessens the impact because it’s too similar to the way we perceive background noise — we filter out the message. Bland instrumental music doesn’t add the ‘hearing’ aspect you’re looking for. It’s got to be more interactive."

There’s an interesting idea. I’ve long wondered why Christian publishers don’t mimic ABA houses by creating short radio spots that feature a quick set-up or a five-second scene from the novel, then push the title and author. General market publishers have been doing that for years — a deep voice will begin by saying, "He lurked in the shadows for years, thinking about killing…and now, he’s about to take action. KILLER, the new novel of suspense by Melvin P. Hickenlooper, at bookstores now." It costs almost nothing to produce — one voice in a studio for ten minutes and another twenty minutes to add the right music. You can use the same ad over and over again. And radio ads are cheap — pennies compared to television or print ads. A publisher could even do this locally, to try and build up some hometown or regional success for an author. But I can’t remember ever hearing of a CBA house doing this.

It’s just one idea, of course. I’m trying to get authors to thnk out of the box a bit, so that they don’t assume the only fiction marketing that works is a full-page ad in USA Today. I still think a novelist needs to consider doing more writing — creating articles or doing interviews that reflect the "news" factor in their novels. And too many novelists have given up on speaking because they think it’s the domain of nonfiction types. The fact is, everybody running a radio or television talk show is attempting to feed a monster — there are houses of programming that have to be filled up, and they have to be filled every day. If you have something to say, can say it well, and have a unique approach, you should explore how speaking can help market your novels. Randy Ingermanson over at Mad Genius Writer has blogged on these same ideas — using writing and speaking to promote your fiction. Check out his thoughts at

I’ve got a backlog of questions about books and publishing — I’ll get to them right away. Promise! My thanks to the NJ ladies for helping me this week.


Posted in Resources for Writing

  • Timothy Fish

    I think that is a good point about book trailers. I don’t know who did the trailer for “Try Dying” ( ) but it is a good example of combining sight and sound without convincing the reader to wait for the movie. I will comment that most book trailers will have amateur quality. Any voices will probably be the author or a family member. Photos and video will probably be the work of the author or copied illegally. With the exception of the books that are the publishers’ bread and butter, I do not know if we will see many high quality trailers for books.

  • Gina Holmes

    Ane definitely knows what’s what coming out in the CBA. That woman reads ten books to my one. And Jess is one of the most brilliant publicity/marketing minds I know.
    YouTube is a great potential marketing tool for novelists I think. It’s something that we’ve been toying with as another way of promoting the authors we feature. Trying to make it effective is the challenge.
    Anyway, thanks for featuring us Chip. It was really cool to be asked.

  • Ane Mulligan

    Thanks for having us on, Chip. Jessica really has the right idea on book trailers. James Scott Bell has a dynamite one for his crossover book, Try Dying. I think it’s on U-Tube, too.
    I heard an ad on a Christian radio station for a Robin Lee Hatcher book. Blew me away. I’m not used to hearing ads for books on the radio, but you’re right. It’s a great place for them. (Here’s where Chip says, “Of course I’m right. Did you doubt me?”) :o)
    Thanks again for having Novel Journey on. It was a blast.

  • Pam Halter

    I have a friend who just self-published a middle grade fantasy. She did a book trailer for radio ads that is just like what Jessica mentioned. It was pretty cool.
    Thanks for the great info!

  • Stevie Rey

    Hmmm, veddy interesting… I love dialect, cain’t ye tell, Chip!? I reckon I’m a gonna try some a that there viral marketin’ fer The Hillbilly Bible. We’ll see if we cain’t sweep the nation and git ever’body talkin’ like this! Would’n that be dandy!