Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marketing 101 for Authors

Marketing means different things to different people. With my product, books, the challenge is to get the information to the people that will appreciate it and act on it. I've made a list of some marketing techniques used by myself and other authors. Please feel free to add other methods in your comments and to say what worked for you and what didn't.

If you are brand new to writing, don't get overwhelmed. Begin marketing by being consistent in one style or venue and then expand your efforts through time.

Start with a website. If you don't have the wherewithal to do it yourself, hire someone. Ask around your fellow authors for recommendations. If you have a website you can't manage, you can hire someone to transition it to a more idiot-friendly platform. I did this recently, and it eliminated a lot of the frustration I felt in the delays to content updates by my former web person.

Blogs have been popular for a while. You can set up a blog through your Blogger or Word Press, though many people have their blogs at their websites because that provides fresh content routinely. Large group blogs, particularly ones that are anchored by top selling writers, are successful at attracting a consistent readership. If you aren’t in one of those, consider searching for groups like that and asking to guest blog. Alternatively, be aggressive and create such a blog. If you are consistent with your single person blog, you can develop a readership over time. The key here is consistency and delivering content that appeals to your followers. Essentially you are painting a word picture of your expertise in your “brand” area.

 Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are delicate marketing platforms. People love to see book covers and photos related to your brand. They are not keen on seeing repeated messages to “buy my book.” These platforms work great for people who already have a following, and once a post gains momentum, the multiplier effect of reposting or sharing can go viral. There is a caveat, especially on Facebook, where there are author and reader groups that want you to publish your material. However, the number of posts in those groups is high, so your selection is quickly dropped down the screen as more posts come in. The more specifically you can target your groups, the more chances of reaching an actual reader you’ll have.

 Press releases work great in you live in an area with some population. My county has 10K people total and no stoplights. Papers from neighboring towns rarely cover my town, and even when I get a large spread in the weekly paper, it doesn’t assure sales or attendance at book signings. Many people do radio interviews now, or podcasts. Those are popular, but since I haven’t done them, I can’t gauge their effectiveness. If you live in a city of any size, you should be doing these press releases. Or you can contribute articles that are in some way related to a topic in your book for some subliminal marketing.

Newsletters get back to that one-on-one connection. I rely on my electronic newsletters to get the word out about my book. I put out a newsletter quarterly and make it as professional looking and engaging as I can. The tempo is upbeat. I use color photos. I offer extras (contests, recipes, appearances) when I can. All of my social media links are included in each newsletter. I use an inexpensive service, Vertical Response, to create the emails and send them out. Another similar utility is Mail Chimp. I’ve built my subscriber list up through activities in a marketing co-op.

 In person signings are a great way to spend time with readers, but you have to be prepared to promote the event and to hand-sell your books. The hand-selling is difficult for some introverts like me. Also, while events with multiple authors at a book store are more fun for the author, my experience has shown a dilution of sales for individuals. For local book signings, I make sure it’s covered in the paper or place an ad. I also send postcard mailers to every local reader on my snail mail address list. This ensures a great turn out. The same is true for an Online Book Launch Party - make sure your fans know when and where it will be held.

 Bookmarks are also valued at events where you have face time with readers, whether it’s a signing or a conference or the dentist office. Have some sort of handout in your car or purse that you can pull out. Some people leave these items various places in hopes someone will pick them up. I find that these items work best for personal interactions. Bookmarks can be any size, from an inexpensive business card to a postcard to the more traditional narrow rectangle shape. Vistaprint is an inexpensive online place to shop for these materials, though you can Google and find a ton more.

 Conferences, specifically fan conferences, are a great way to connect with readers. Some conferences cater to authors and readers, but cons like Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, and RT pull in a boatload of readers. See if one of these is in driving distance for you to keep expenses down. You may still only sell a modest number of books, but you are building a reputation in that crowd, which will turn out to be worth its weight in gold. Be sure you collect names and addresses for your newsletter from each interested party.

Marketing co-ops like Booklovers Bench also create a buzz and a professional brand. I banded together with several mystery and romance writers a few years back to do this because I write mystery and romance. The net effect is that we’ve pooled our readerships, thus multiplying our potential market. We send book information to readers of our genres routinely.

Crowdsourcing is the new buzz word, or at least it’s new to me. The recent contract I won through the Kindle Scout program for my G-1 came as a result of reader input and viral marketing. Many authors are using utilities like Thunderclap to promote. As I understand it, authors get their friends to agree to post word of their event or book release on Facebook or Twitter. The Thunderclap utility has the tweet and FB post already uploaded. Folks agree and give the utility permission to post automatically (once) for that event on a certain day, thus ensuring a blitz of low-cost information hitting a wide audience. You have to have a minimum number of people to agree to help you. I think it’s 100 but I’m not sure.

To sum up, many strategies are out there to find readers. I’ve found I can’t do everything or even half of everything. It just makes me nuts. My advice is to do the things you like or that you don’t find objectionable. It’s also easier for me if I do a little each day. You can prewrite blogs or other social media posts. Heck, on my Facebook author page I can even upload and preschedule posts. That’s great when I travel to conferences and can’t “tend the gardens.”

Maggie Toussaint
writing science fiction as Rigel Carson


Saturday, March 7, 2015

An epic voyage into an uncharted genre

Remember these iconic words from Star Trek? "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." According to Wikipedia, in the Star Trek 'verse, this is known as The Captain's Oath.
Well, be forewarned. I've raised my right hand and taken a similar author's oath! My science fiction book, G-1, is out now from Kindle Scout. This is epic for me as I venture into the realm of science fiction writing as Rigel Carson. I hope you’ll come along for the voyage of the Guardian of Earth series.

[Yes, G-2 and G-3 are already written. If Kindle Scout shows little interest in acquiring them, you can bet they will come out through Muddle House Publishing!]

Some Insider Scoop:

G-1 incorporates a few of my favorite things, including an island off the Georgia coast, water research, robots, conspiracy theories, pop singers, think thanks, really bad guys, a twist on media coverage, and a surprise ending.

Here’s the book blurb:

It’s 2065 and Earth is beset by locusts, plagues, and earthquakes. Tensions escalate as food and water shortages destabilize governments. A secret society poised for world domination hunts for the keystone, an object of great power. The Chameleons have already murdered in their quest to acquire the keystone, and now they believe brilliant and reclusive scientist Zeke Landry has it.

Zeke’s Institute bosses want answers ASAP on the water crisis, so they supply Zeke with a souped-up robot named Forman. Zeke knows water can’t disappear, but the data suggest that improbability. When Zeke’s uncle drops off the grid, Zeke and Forman suspend the water analyses to find the missing man. A routing snafu sends Zeke’s travel pod into the clutches of his enemies.

If Zeke doesn’t rise to the challenge and assume his late father’s mantle as Guardian, chaos will reign. The clock is ticking, for Zeke and the world...

G-1, Book 1 in the Guardian of Earth series, is out in Kindle format only right now, though the print version will be released later this year from Muddle House. Here’s the ebook buy link from Amazon:

Thanks for being a friend … and a fan!

Maggie Toussaint

Writing science fiction as Rigel Carson

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

G-1 can be pre-ordered!

Friends, fans, and fellow geeks,

I bring glad tidings! Kindle Scout has released my brand new book, G-1, to their sales website. This title is available for purchase on March 3, but you can order your copy right now if you don't want to fool around until next Tuesday. BUY NOW

This is so exciting, getting in on the ground floor of a whole new way of publishing! I'm very proud to be in the first 10 books released by Kindle Press, and I think you're going to love this story.

With my background in science, it was natural for me to write about a scientist who wants to save the world from itself. I set G-1 fifty years in the future, at a time when water rights are hotly contested and countries fight to get the next agridome in their boundaries so that there is enough food for their people.

Now water is missing. That's right. Missing. My geeky protagonist, Dr. Zeke Landry, knows that water cycles. It can't disappear, and he's determined to get to the bottom of this hoax. Except the answer isn't forthcoming and there's political pressure to endorse the missing water spin of current events. Zeke and his helper, a hyped up robot named Forman, kick open a hornet's nest of bad guys and are soon scrambling for their lives.

There's a reveal at the end, one that I won't go into detail about here (I want you to read the book!), but it sets the stage for what's to come in books 2 and 3, already written and hopefully soon to land in the publication hopper.

G-1 is in Kindle (mobi) format. I hope to bring it out in print a little later this spring.

Dear Readers, I hope you will enjoy this new direction as much as I do. You'll find the science isn't too heavy, and the characters are just as engaging as my Cleopatra Jones, Baxley Powell, and so many other fine protagonists. It's all about stopping the bad guys and saving the world!

So, click on over to check it out on Kindle. Or better yet, read the first chapter at my website: and don't forget to check out my pen name's website at

Thanks for liking my books and for helping with nominations to get the notice of Kindle Scout. Let's continue to share this fine adventure.

Maggie Toussaint

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shipwrecks and Rough Waters

Rough Waters, my contemporary romantic suspense novel, came about because I wanted to write about people being knocked down by life. I wanted to see them triumph over adversity, but like any happy ending, they had to work for it.

Coupled with this not-just-surviving-but fighting-back mentality, I wanted to write about treasure. Where I live in coastal Georgia, and all up and down the Southeastern Seaboard, are tales and wrecks and dreams of the pirates that at one time infested our waters. Where there are pirates, there be gold!

Here's a shipwreck that gets uncovered periodically on nearby Cabretta

My hero, Rock, lost everything: his ailing mother, his business, his best friend, his physical wholeness, and his boat. Worse, when he was recovering from the accident, the treasure he'd recovered from the sea went missing. Trouble is the treasure belongs to his investor, who expects payment...yesterday.

And then there's pink-haired Jeanie. So brave after being abandoned with her two kids while her husband ran away with her cousin. So determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps. So sure she doesn't need anyone in her life. Until her business and home get ransacked and she's afraid for her children's sake. Everyone's telling her to run and hide, but she won't leave her fate in anyone else's hands. She can't.

Rough Waters was recently featured in the Southern Writers Valentine Catalog. I hope you'll click the link to take a peek!

Click link to view catalog:
Fore more information about Rough Waters, including buy links for digital and print formats, please visit this page:

Sign up for my newsletter on this site or my website to learn of my upcoming releases. Next up are G-1 by Rigel Carson release, and Bubba Done It, Book 2 in my Dreamwalker series.

Happy Reading!
Maggie Toussaint

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Channeling my inner Sheldon

Imagine my surprise when I learned my mystery novel in which I channeled my inner Sheldon (from the The Big Bang Theory television program) was actually a science fiction novel.

It seems that if you set a mystery in the future and if you toss in an alien, whammo! Your book is classified as a science fiction.

Since I already write in two genres, I thought, what the hay? Why not write in three genres???

So there you have it. The first book was done, and I dashed off two more, soldifying the proof that The Guardian of Earth is a series. BTW, I titled the books G-1, G-2, and G-3, so there will be no confusion on which order to read the books.

An agent shopped the series around, but the publishers weren't beating down our door. Seems they consider this as a mid list book and the mid list doesn't exist anymore. Boo! Hiss!

The time arrived when I parted ways with the agent, determined to indie pub the series, and lo and behold I got wind of a new program at Amazon called Kindle Scout. Long story short, I entered G-1 in this program. If it garners some magic number of nominations, Amazon will offer a contract. So I created a cover and sent that bad boy in. They added it to the program, so I have a great opportunity if I can just land enough nominations.

Now I'm crossing my fingers hoping the nominations will come. I'd love to have your endorsement! Please help me Kickstart this book into a higher publishing orbit!

Here's the link:

Thanks for your help!

Maggie Toussaint
note new pen name: Rigel Carson 
also check out

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guppy lunch, pics, and contest win at Killer Nashville

Hey Everybody! I had a blast at #KillerNashville and have a ton of pics to share. First up, though, is my amazing contest win. My Aug 2013 release from Five Star Publishing, DIME IF I KNOW, which is book 3 in my Cleopatra Jones series, won a Silver Falchion Award for Best Novel: Cozy/Traditional. I am delighted, awestruck, and humbled by this placement. Thank you to everyone who loves this story as much as I do!

 Due to volunteering, critiquing, panels, and the contest win, I didn't get to too many other panels. I did catch the tail end of the New Author Panel and saw nearly all of the Using Forensic Psychology to Craft Believable Characters. I hope to get around to writing up my Forensic Psychology notes in a few days. Mostly what I have to offer are Guppy Lunch photos, so here you go! With many apologies to folks whose names I've missed!!!

Bill Hopkins sees from a different perspective

Sharon Hopkins, Cyndi Pauwels, and Carolyn Mulford

Bill Hopkins, Marjorie Brody, Debra Goldstein

Carolyn, Michael, Sharon, Cyndi

..., Kaye George, center, Carolyn Mulford right

Lisa Alber, ..., Michael Guillebeau, Lisa Wysocky, Amy Denton

Cyndi Pauwels, Ken Vanderpool, Bill Hopkins

Debra Goldstein and her buds, Kay Kendall and Marjorie Brody

And more photos of KN folks...
Maggie with Clay Stafford, organizer and founder of KN

Deni Dietz, acquiring editor at Five Star for my Dime If I Know

Kay Tyler with Sharon Hopkins

some of my registration buddies!

Kay Tyler, Maggie, and Sharon Hopkins

Maggie and Beth "Jaden" Terrell

Maggie with Stacy Allen

Stacy Allen gets the pic

Don Bruns joins the band for a number!

And lastly, my two panels.
Building Characters panel: Frankie Bailey, Maggie, David Burnsworth, Neil R Howard, and panel leader Michael Sears

Exploring the Human Condition. Mike Tabor, Maggie, Sallie Bissell, and Jamie Mason. I led this one.
That's about it, picture-wise for me. It was so fabulous seeing everyone at the conference. Killer Nashville is one of my favorites!

Please join me for the release of my romantic suspense, ROUGH WATERS, this Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Facebook. The addy is:

The ebook is available for pre-order on Kindle and the print book is already available at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press. Buy links for Rough Waters: Kindle and Print Book

That's all. Hope to see everyone on Friday at the Virtual Launch Party. Lots of prizes offered!

Maggie Toussaint  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Malice and the Stew Pot

Whenever I make stew, I'm guilty of not following a recipe. I brown the meat, then submerge it in broth with some Vidalia onions and whatever veggies I have on hand. Then I simmer it until done and serve the thickened comfort food over wheat toast, brown rice, or grits.

I thought of stew as I was casting about for my blog title this week. I have different and diverse topics to include, so I hope you find these tidbits something yummy to digest!

The first item in the stewpot, so to speak, are my pictures of Malice. I didn't take a surfeit of photos this year. In fact, only 4 survived the cutting room floor, and one of those wasn't as crisp as I liked.

I'm shown here during a conference break with three of my dearest writing pals. I'm all the way left with my fabric "Guppy" boa still wrapped around my neck. Sitting beside me is author Nancy J Cohen who is a fellow member of Booklover's Bench. To her right is author Barbara Graham. Barbara is a great roommate and we enjoy going to conferences together, even though she lives in Wyoming and I'm in Georgia. And to the far right is my best-ever critique partner, Polly Iyer. She always looks like a million dollars.

I attended Nancy's panel on Saturday morning. Moderator Debra Goldstein did a great job of keeping everyone on the topic of social issues. Nancy spoke about using the Prepper Movement in her book. Preppers are the group of people that think the end is near so they encourage stockpiling necessities.

Barb's panel was interesting too. It was about a business related to the sleuth, and in her series, the business is a quilt shop. Barb has mystery quilts in each of her books - all part of her devious plan to get us to read every page of every book!

Barb and I slipped away from the conference on Thursday afternoon. We're shown here out and about on the Mall - see the faint Washington Monument between us? We walked the length of the Mall, after touring an art museum, and got swept up in a deportation rally. Glad the protest was peaceful. And hey, I took a selfie!

I should have snapped more pics at the conference, but in truth, I forgot! I didn't take my camera along this year, and I wasn't in the mindset of taking pics with my phone, which is how these few shots were taken. I missed everything on Friday due to being under the weather, but I rallied for the Saturday and Sunday sessions.

I also attended the Banquet (very fun) and the Poison Lady's talk. I found out a good bit about native and not so native plants and toxicity. Definite material for a future book!

The panel I was on (no pic here, but I've shared one on my FB page from Nancy's camera.) was all about paranormal sleuths. Everyone else on the panel had a ghost for a sleuth. My sleuth saw ghosts, which was different, but no one seemed to hold that against me. Several people from the packed room said the panel discussion was very entertaining, and I am happy to have been a small part of that. And I thank author Carolyn Hart for being a big name and drawing such a crowd to our session!

In other news, reviews are coming in for GONE AND DONE IT. One of the latest is from Romantic Times, which stated the mystery was multi-layered and wildly exciting. Yes! I love reviews like that. If you've read GONE AND DONE IT, I'd be honored to have you post a review online.

Available at Amazon in print and ebook and in print at Barnes and Noble

Here's a snip of a recent review from MyShelf reviewer Linda Morelli:  "Gone and Done It is the best mystery I've read in a long time. The paranormal aspects were realistic and Maggie Toussaint’s plot was engrossing, with plenty of twists and surprises to keep me hooked. I definitely want to know who – or what – the secret watcher is and can't wait to read the next release to find out." Read the full review:

And its official. My next book, romantic suspense ROUGH WATERS, will release August 29 from The Wild Rose Press. Yay! I have a release date. Now I need to find some advance readers. Anyone listening? I have electronic arcs to send out as the time approaches.

Also, the Booklover's Bench May contest continues until May 18. Click on over to enter the contest, where a $25 gift card, ebooks, and a chance to have a character in a book named after you are up for grabs. 

Please join me on Wednesday, May 14 at for a look at how I came to write a ghost story.

Thanks for joining me in sampling my Stew Pot of tasty news.

Maggie Toussaint
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