Pub Rants

Get Vamped! Get A Street Team!

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STATUS: TGIF! It’s supposed to be a lousy weekend in Denver. Rain both days. Guess who will probably get a lot of reading done?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART by Bonnie Tyler

Happy Release Day Lucienne!

I imagine that most writers believe that because Lucienne is also an agent, she probably got special treatment when she went out on submission. But actually, that’s not true. If the editors knew who she was, then I’m sure they kept that in mind while reading but most of the editors were in the children’s realm—a market Lucienne doesn’t do a whole lot of repping in. So her being an agent didn’t necessarily carry extra weight.

And even with that, the work had to live up to its promise, and the editors had to love it as a novel to take it on.

In looking back on my submission notes, we had quite a few editors who wanted the angsty vampire romance—not something fun, campy, and totally different than anything out there already.

All the editors loved Lucienne’s voice. One editor felt it was similar to something she already had on her list but she went back and forth on it as she really loved that voice. Another editor thought they had too many vampire books on their list (can’t argue with that!).

Now it’s the lead title for Flux’s spring list. It’s debuting today. It’s gotten a good Kirkus review. Excellent sell in. It’s being featured as part of Barnes & Noble’s book club.

And Lucienne has a great promo tip for you. I’d like to welcome guest blogger and fellow agent, Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency.

I can haz minions?

I don’t know, something about starting my own street team has me talking in LOLcat and wanting to laugh maniacally, like a cartoon villain. I’ve been feverishly working on my evil villain laugh, actually. Taking a page from
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.

But I’m not here today to talk to you about my minions. Or, not exactly. I’m here to talk about promotion. You know how they always say that two heads are better than one? Well, twenty is ten times better than two. And one hundred…well, you get the point. It’s a truism in the publishing field that word of mouth is the biggest seller of books. Ads and reviews are all well and good, but nothing works as well as recommendations from friends. Hence the idea of the street team… providing advance copies of your book (and maybe other freebies like t-shirts, bookmarks, mugs, whathaveyou) to a group representing your target audience with the understanding that if they like your work they’ll spread the word, go forth and kvell—blog, put up reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and, Twitter, go tell it on the mountain. I don’t know if Mari Mancusi was the first author to come up with the idea, but I do know that I first heard of it through an article she’d written. Brilliant! I thought. I let my young adult authors know about it, because it seemed especially suited to the young adult field. I filed it away in my own mind.

You see, at the time, Gina, my heroine from Vamped, was not even a twinkle in my eye. In fact, when she first started talking in my head (yes, that’s how it happens), she was a snarky fashionista who, after clawing her own way out of the grave, discovers that true horror is a lack of reflection. No way to do her hair and make-up; eternity without tanning options. She decides that her first order of business is to turn her own stylist. The story didn’t have an actual plot. It was more of a vignette, really, a slice of unlife. I thought I’d have done with her and be able to walk away. But as it turned out, Gina was more resourceful and stronger than I knew. A short story wasn’t enough for her (or my readers, who wanted more). Oh, no, she had to have a novel. Then a series. Next thing you know, she’ll be taking over the silver screen (oh please, please, please).

Anyway, that part of me that is Gina – because, let’s face it, there’s a little of us in all of our characters – is crowing “I can haz minions!” My street team is fabulous. I put out a call on my blog for teens and twenty-somethings, directed them toward the section on my website where there’s an excerpt posted to see if they thought they’d like it, and recruited. The first ten to respond would got T-shirts and a signed copy of Vamped, the next twenty-five were offered signed bookplates. I got a great response. I’m actually pretty humbled by the amazing energy, enthusiasm and creativity of my team. They’re heads and shoulders above Victor Frankenstein’s iconic Igor. They’re people that make me go “wow” and “I’m not worthy” on a regular basis. I actually want to succeed as much for them—so they can brag about how they were part of it all, that they were there before I was someone—as for myself.

In short, having a street team can be incredibly rewarding, hopefully for all parties. It’s certainly the most fun I’ve had promoting my book. It makes me feel like I’m not in this alone and gives me the comfort that there are folks other than me enthusiastic about my new release. Writing is too often a lonely endeavor.

35 Responses

  1. DebraLSchubert said:

    Lucienne, Thanks for turning Kristin’s readers like me on to the Street Team buzz. My background includes marketing, and this is a brilliant marketing maneuver. What could be better than getting your target audience excited and involved in your success? Um, maybe, nothing?

    I wish you and Kristin the best as you go forward with your writing career. (A successful agent and author all in one lifetime? Not too shabby, baby, not too shabby!)

  2. Kat said:

    I love Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog so much! Just sayin’.

    Great post! Promotion advice is always something writers should be looking for.

  3. Rebecca Knight said:

    This is Evil Genius! Thank you so much for sharing, Kristin and Lucienne!

    Best of luck with the book–it sounds hilarious, and I’m excited to read it :).

  4. Jaded Jennifer said:

    Sounds a bit like MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, which I love. There may be a lot of vampire books on the market right now but the angsty angle turns me off. I like the humor. I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for this one.

  5. Lisa Iriarte said:

    “I actually want to succeed as much for them—so they can brag about how they were part of it all, that they were there before I was someone—as for myself.”

    My students are going around saying that when your book is (hopefully) made into a film, they’ll be able to say they met you. (I think they want tickets to the premiere, though, so watch out.)


  6. A. Shelton said:

    You know, I’ve avoided the Twilight frenzy by main force of will, but this actually sounds interesting; I’ll be sure to look for it, though I generally don’t go for vampire novels.

  7. Anonymous said:

    Quote: “…I imagine that most writers believe that because Lucienne is also an agent, she probably got special treatment when she went out on submission. But actually, that’s not true…”

    Excuse my snark, but, uh, yeah, right.

    Lucienne has every right to write and submit and be published. And good for her for doing it. We all know writing a novel is a huge undertaking.

    But “not treated differently?” I’m not buying it. Any editor is going to be nicer or at least more “aware” of their own actions if the ms being pitched to them is written by a successful agent.

    On the subs for my current agented novel (with a well-known agent/I’m also previously published) I’ve had two editors that never responded at all even after prods, one that declined but gave no feedback as to why, and three are still out after a whopping five months, saying they’ll “get to it when they can.” I’m guessing Lucienne’s experience was a little different.

    And that’s okay, life isn’t fair.

    But to make a post stating No Special Treatment is a little disengenuious.

  8. HeatherM said:

    Lucienne sounds like just as much fun as her book! I can’t wait to run out and buy it. In fact, I’m going now. . .

  9. AstonWest said:

    Good stuff! I’ll have to make sure and do something along those lines when my next book comes out at the first of the year.

  10. Beth Groundwater said:

    Hi Lucienne and Kristen,
    Okay, I want details! How do you pick the people to be on your “street team”? Do you try to distribute them geographically or what? How do you recruit them, via a note on your blog or email newsletter or if a relevant Facebook group or what? How many people make up your street team? And how much did the freebies cost? You KNOW I’ll find a way to put this concept to work for me!

  11. Lucienne said:

    Hey, Beth! The street team candidates either commented on my blog or sent me a separate e-mail. I was all prepared to pick geographically or whatever, but things just seemed to work out that way. I did pricing on T-shirts, et. al. Vista Print seemed the way to go, though I ordered some through Cafe Press as well. You know how to reach me if you want any specifics!


  12. Lucienne said:

    To Anonymous – Kristin, you want to tell her about the editor we never heard from or shall I? I have a bit of a problem with people going cranky without a name when we’re clearly speaking on the record under ours.

  13. Y S said:

    Hi there! Love, love, love the idea of a street team. I’m just wondering, though, how you measure results. Do you have any idea how your team affected sales? Thanks!

  14. Lucienne said:

    Hey, YS, unfortunately, I can’t measure exactly which of my promotional efforts has the most effect (the press releases I sent out, the reviews that have come in, the guest blogs, the street team, the talks…). I do know that it all contributes to the buzz and seems to be having a great affect! I’m so excited every time I hear a report of four copies (or more) on the bookshelves or that a particular store has already sold out!

  15. Judy Schneider said:

    Thanks so much for the Street Team idea. It’s fantastic!

    At a writing conference a few years back, I hung fliers for my book in all the bathroom stalls (including those in the men’s room). It got people talking and I sold a box of books!

    Great post! Thanks!

  16. Judy Schneider said:


    No accomplice. I just peeked in and taped up as quickly as possible! Who said self-promotion can’t be fun? Right?

    Judy 😉

  17. Anonymous said:

    No wonder the woman couldn’t sell my book… she was busy writing trashy vampire books! What, Laura Hamilton hasn’t saturated enough of the market with vampires in lingerie?

  18. sammie said:

    1:33 has a point. One thing I’ve learned from reading agents’ blogs is that their time is absolutely golden, they are busy from sunup till sundown, and are supposed to be selling their very souls out for their full list of clients. Did Miss Diver take a break from being an agent to write this book, or was she slacking on the agenting and doing both at once? How was she able to take all the energy she is supposedly putting into her client list and all the submissions and queries, and still have enough left over to do her ‘day job’? I’d assume that while she’s hitting the ‘sell my book’ portion of the track, she isn’t doing any agent-related things at all.

  19. Deee Pressed said:

    I hate agents who write novels. They have an unfair advantage over unpublished writers; they know agents who will take their books on sight unseen, deny it if you want to; they can get editors to read their books without queries, because they already know them; they can even act as their own agent and use all their contacts. Don’t try and tell me that if the book wasn’t any good it would get published, because there is way too much crap out there that was sold to market specs rather than artistic merit—- one more piece of market driven dreck written by someone intimately involved with the creation of the market isn’t going to hurt the shelves, now is it?

    Why bother writing at all? How many bad vampire books did this one shoot down to make sure there’d be room for hers?

  20. Crystal Jordan said:

    Just to address a few of the comments here:

    1) I’m a client of Lucienne’s and she is awesome. Believe me, I’m not one of her bestsellers and she *always* has time for me, my questions, and my career. Her clients are not shortchanged by her moonlighting as an author. I have a day job myself. If I can do both, why can’t she? It’s not right to dictate how anyone spends what little free time they have.

    2) It’s tough to write a book and even tougher to sell it. Even when you know the editor (regardless of whether it’s as an agent or as an author published with them previously), it’s never a sure-thing to sell your manuscript. That’s just reality. It sucks, but there it is.

    3) If you don’t like vampire books, don’t read them. There’s no need to be nasty or hurtful.

    And you can all flame me now, call me a hater or an apologist. I won’t be back to respond. I’ve said everything I have to say.



  21. Dayna said:

    um. Y’all have heard of DIEDRE KNIGHT…right? Lucienne’s hardly the first agent who also writes.
    Any of you have an idea how many editors are writing these days?

    Fact is, a lot of them do it under a pen name to avoid bullshit like this.

    Congratulations, Lucienne.

  22. Jennifer McKenzie said:

    I was thinking of Deidre Knight too. Also, I was thinking of other reputable agents who publish books on how to get published.

    Moving on, this looks awesome Lucienne and I’m going to definitely check it out.

  23. R.G. ALEXANDER said:

    Congratulations Lucienne! I LOVE this cover, and it sounds great!

    Personally, I cannot believe some of the negative comments on this blog.
    Just seriously bad form.
    If the story is good, and I hear it is 🙂
    What does it matter if its a housewife, a stockbroker, or an agent who’s written it?
    And I for one love me some vampire. Some things never go out of style.

    Crystal is right on the money.

    Congrats again!

  24. Randolph M. said:

    RG— considering the competitive nature of the publishing industry, it doesn’t smack loudly of favoritism and pure opportunism for someone deeply entrenched in the biz to take advantage of the system? A housewife or a stockbroker cannot know what’s selling, who to sell it to, who to call— all they can do is query an agent and pray. LD knows exactly where to send her book, no matter what she says.

    This is unethical. Get it? Completely unethical. Ethics are things people used to be proud of— tossing them aside because “That’s the way it is in business today” is a poor excuse for not having them.

    Now, if LD had packed all of her things up into a box and left her office at the agency she works for a couple years ago and said, “I’m going to follow my new dream and be a writer! Please don’t throw away my query letters, and I promise that you’ll get the first ones!”, then I would have some respect for her. This? Completely despicable. For shame, LD. You are unequivocally part of the problem with our nation and the business world itself.

  25. Anonymous said:

    That’s odd…. make a well phrased observation about another agent’s ethics or lack thereof and the comment fails to garner approval.

    Curious. Writing a book, Agent Kristin?

  26. Anonymous said:

    I think that agents publishing books is kinda sketchy and here’s why: if you’ve looked at thousands of queries and thousands of manuscripts, who’s gonna stop you from assembling your book based on the ideas of others, if not cutting and pasting a bunch together? What’s to stop an agent from taking someone’s manuscript and changing enough to make it look diffr’nt? I’ve been to enough conferences to know that proving a stolen idea is impossible, citing the whole “We all read the same books and watch the same shows and look at the same commercials” arguement.

    I think that if I were an agent I wouldn’t want that kind of doubt hovering over my book.

  27. Patty Travers said:

    That old saying about a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.. does the same thing hold true for and agent, or does Lucienne have an agent for her work?