How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, or so the saying goes. And for writers, there aren’t many elephant-sized responsibilities more disheartening than the modern-day must of self-promotion. Here to break down the timeline of a standard marketing campaign is this week’s guest blogger DiAnn Mills. She’s already cut your food up for you, authors. It’d be a shame if you left it sitting there.

Happy reading!
Clay Stafford
Clay Stafford
Founder Killer Nashville
Publisher / Editorial Director Killer Nashville Magazine

KNPHOTO DIANN MILLSOvercoming a Writer’s Biggest Fear—Marketing and Promotion
By DiAnn Mills

We writers embrace words, brainstorming sessions, hours of writing, and constructive criticism, but there is one critical aspect of the writer’s life that shakes us to our core…

Marketing and Promotion:
The nightmare of our career.
We think we have the notion,
But can’t move past the fear.

Okay, I’m not a poet—I write suspense. But I’m sure you understand where this is going. We writers must market and promote our stories and our brand. No running or hiding. It’s necessary if we are to be successful in placing our novels into the hearts and hands of readers. So let’s crawl out of our cave mode and discuss ways to approach the scary monster called marketing and promotion. I think you’ll find it can be easy and even enjoyable.

Number one on the list is creating an outstanding book, the kind of suspense novel that marches through the graveyard of those who’ve failed to promote, wielding determination and the sword of skill.

Number two is having an active presence on a highly read blog (yours or a group site), Facebook, and Twitter. We writers deepen our brands through social media to leave a positive image that oozes with professionalism.

Those are the basics. Now this next section of information makes novel promotion simple. I’m a firm believer in organization, and when I write a novel, spreadsheets keep me rooted in reality.

After we sign a contract with a publisher or decide when a novel will be published, the work hovers over us. A writer gets ahead of the marketing and promotion stress by developing a Timeline Task countdown. This is an indicator of what needs to be accomplished approximately a year before a book is released. Some logistics vary depending on whether you are traditionally published or not, but this will give you an idea for creating your own Timeline Task spreadsheet.

12 months out:

  • Contact online and print publications to arrange for ad and banner placement. Make sure they are in place for the month of the book release.
  • Recruit your Street Team.
  • Reach out to prominent authors in your genre for possible endorsements. This allows the endorser to schedule reading the novel.
  • Write blogs that connect to the novel. Stockpile them—you will be glad later.

9 months out:

  • Order bookmarks and postcards.
  • Arrange guest blogs and schedule in your calendar when they will appear. Remember, these have already been written.
  • Arrange production of book trailer.
  • Arrange production of author interview video.
  • Announce to Street Team and brainstorm promo ideas.

6 months out:

  • Contact TV and radio stations for interviews.
  • Create contest ideas with giveaways.
  • Goodreads: update bio, headshot, ask-the-author section, add new release to books, link to blog posts, update page; be active!
  • Design secret Pinterest Boards.
  • Use postcards to notify libraries of new book
Find Deadlock on*
Find Deadlock on*

3 months out:

  • Mail ARCs.
  • Keep Street Team posted.
  • Confirm all blog spots, ads, banners, etc.
  • Seek events to speak and sign.
  • Check that all online platforms and retail stores have updated bio and photo.
  • Arrange launch party or signing for big day.

6 weeks out:

  • Mail author copies or e-copies of book to Street Team.
  • Mail author copies or e-copies of book to reviewers.
  • Encourage pre-orders.
  • Post book trailer and author interviews.

Book release:

  • E-mail blast
  • Blogs appear
  • Constant presence on social media platforms.
  • Thank those who helped make the release a success.
  • Small tokens of thanks sent.
  • Contests announced.

Follow up:

  • Keep the momentum going by sharing deleted scenes, research, character insight, and behind-the-scenes action.
  • Party time!

All of the above is fairly easy. But we don’t have time to fashion all those social media posts at a moment’s notice. Here is where a Proactive Marketing and Promotion spreadsheet is used. By using this aid during the proposal and writing phase, a writer keeps her sanity and confidence intact.

At the completion of each scene, fill in a row that contains columns for the following:

Scene #
Blog Ideas
Contest Ideas
Facebook Post
Pinterest Board Ideas
Speaking Topics
Video Ideas

I recommend keeping track of the various blog sites, the contact person, e-mail address, word length, website, date contacted, date due, date e-mailed, date when the blog appears, and a comment section. The last one is helpful if a giveaway is offered or particular specs needed for the post.

Marketing and promotion organization begins when the idea for a fabulous book enters our minds. As we imagine plot, characters, setting, research, and dialogue, we also envision how our book will reach readers. What is your favorite method of enticing readers?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, won two Christy Awards, and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans.

She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

(To be a part of the Killer Nashville Guest Blog, send a query to We’d love to hear from you.)

Thanks to Tom WoodEmily Eytchison, and publisher/editorial director Clay Stafford for their assistance in putting together this week’s blog.

For more writer resources, visit us at, and

And be sure to check out our new book, Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded, an anthology of original short stories by New York Times bestselling authors and newbies alike.

*Killer Nashville is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you purchase a book from the links on this page, Amazon will give Killer Nashville a small percentage of the total sale. Killer Nashville receives zero compensation (other than sometimes the book to review) from publishers who have been selected for the Book of the Day.