You may remember I raved about the LA Festival of Books in last month’s blog post. It was at this amazing fair that I had the opportunity to meet Desireé Duffy. As an avid reader, writer, and social media manager, the Black Château Enterprises booth was a must see.
We as writers know the truth about publishing. Releasing a book on Amazon or through a traditional publisher is just part of the battle. Marketing plays a big role in whether our books get read or skimmed over.
But Desireé and the Black Château team are here to help. So writers, get ready. Because in this interview, Desireé offers her insight and extensive experience on marketing for authors.
1. I understand you are an author and have over 20 years experience as a publicist. What inspired you to start Black Château?
I started Black Château when I saw so many fellow authors struggling to promote their books in today’s crowded space. As someone who is a marketing and PR professional, and as an author who promoted my own book, I combined my experience into a strategy designed to help authors stand out and get their books noticed.
Our motto at Black Château is: We believe in storytellers. That strikes to our core philosophy and is the reason I started the company. With so many amazing and poignant stories needing to be told in the world today, our company’s ultimate mission is to make them heard.
2. What is a common misconception authors have about social media marketing and branding?
That social media is fast and easy. Composing an Instagram or Facebook post not only takes time and skill, but building social media networks, engaging with others, building a following, using social media as a path to a conversion, measuring results, and the strategy behind both earned and paid social media, means there are a lot of moving parts.
When it comes to branding, I see authors get lost in the clouds. They have a hard time making their brand consistent and relatable to their target audience.
Additionally, there are a lot of experts who help authors do a certain aspect of their book promotion. They offer workshops, webinars and training sessions. You can find advice on building an email list, blogging, social media, getting book reviews, and more. Sometimes authors spend thousands of dollars trying to learn to do their own marketing when it would be faster, easier, and is more cost-effective to hire a professional.
Look at it this way, if your car breaks down you can take it into a shop, or you can go to mechanic school and learn to fix it yourself. You need to ask yourself, do you want to be a mechanic or an author, because it isn’t easy being both.
3. What social media has been most successful for authors? Is there a difference between genres?
There are several social media platforms that can be successful for authors for different reasons. Yes, you are correct, different genres perform better on different platforms. For example, YA novels typically do better on Instagram while political non-fiction books usually score big on Twitter.
More importantly, how an author utilizes social media is what really matters. At Black Château, we use social media influencers, our own team of Book Bloggers, who review and post about our authors’ books on their social media platforms. Instead of relying only on the author’s social profile to promote their books, we use the true power of social networking—the networking part—to spread the word about our author’s books.
4. You offer a wide array of services, which are the most popular? Which are the most crucial to have?
Every author and their book marketing require a slightly different approach. It depends where they are at in the process. I do believe the most crucial collection of services are those involving a book’s launch.
A solid book launch strategy takes planning and preparation. There are things to do several months prior to a book’s release that help set authors up for success. Not to mention, authors should enjoy the time leading up to a book’s launch. It should be enjoyable to see the fruit of one’s passion unfold. Enjoy the ride, plan ahead, and don’t rush to put a book on the market.
5. Over the past decade, there has been an upheaval in traditional publishing and marketing due to technology. How does Black Château take advantage of the gaps left by traditional institutions?
That is where our sweet spot lies! Before founding Black Château, I was the vice president of a digital marketing agency. Prior to that, I was inhouse PR in the consumer goods space and oversaw both online and traditional media. As a result of my diverse background, many of our strategies are a combination of digital and traditional ones. For example, we do campaigns using native advertising, big data, SEO, and social media, that many traditional book publicists don’t utilize, or frankly, really understand.
We are disruptors because we see the market differently. Because of our understanding of the online space and how consumers use technology, we’re able to get maximum exposure for our authors.
6. What is one skill you believe all writers should focus on to become successful and why? (Skills other than writing!)
It boils down to YOUR story. One of the first things I look for in an author is the story behind their story. Why are you, as the author, interesting? This drives into the author’s personal brand, and it also makes them a selling feature of their own book.
If Black Château, (or any publicist, or marketer, or the author on their own) wants to do a media pitch for an interview, a speaking engagement, or an article, we need to pitch the story behind the story.
Think of a short pitch that sells you, so that you can turn around and sell your book. Imagine the pitch as the way a host might introduce you for a talk show. Here’s a quick example:
Pitch One: He wrote a fantasy adventure with a team of heroes you’ll root for as they save their home from an evil invader. Vivid settings and magical worlds are waiting to be discovered. Meet author of this incredible page-turning book.
Pitch Two: He was addicted to video games and failing in school. His mother couldn’t get him to put the Xbox down. Then, an English instructor helped him discover his writing talent. He channeled his video game addiction into a passion for writing, and published his first fantasy adventure at 16.
See how the second pitch pulls you into the author’s story? The reason you write, the path that took you there, the message you have to the world, all of that goes into your story behind the story.
Non-fiction is easier than fiction. If you wrote a book about how to Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Minutes—then the pitch is easy. Fiction might be harder, but it isn’t impossible. Fine-tune your story and it will help you be successful as a writer and as a storyteller.
7. If you could gift someone ONE book, what would it be?
Great question! It depends on who the someone is. Right now, we have an array of books that offer a range of topics and genres. I would give them one of these:
Those who like time travel and sci-fi will dig going back to Colonial America with the Matt Miller in the Colonies series.
Lovers of urban cozy mysteries should get a copy of Baker’s Dozen.
Anyone dealing with mental illness or depression can get a humorous take on it with Next Therapist Please.
Interested in dystopian fiction, then XX v XY: The Final World War needs to be on your list.
Fenrir Chronicles: The Prince was written in honor of the author’s gay brother; it is a LGBTQ love story with a twist.
The Engine Woman’s Light is a mystical steampunk journey for fans of YA fiction.
Ivory Ghosts is a comic based on the true dilemma of the illegal ivory trade.
How Women Negotiate from a Position of Strength is the first in series to empower women and girls.
Fans of noir, detective stories, and science fiction should get a copy of Mostly Human: A 4Pollack Novel.
How are you marketing?
Don’t want to handle the marketing yourself? I don’t blame you! It’s a time-consuming process, and if you’re a writer, you no doubt want to focus on writing. If you’d like a true professional to take over, why not send Desireé and the Black Château team a message?
And of course, if you need a social media manager or a ghostwriter, author or not, I may be available, too. 😉