On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part 1)

Today we are thrilled to host Janice Hardy, author of the MG Healing Wars trilogy and dispenser of writing wisdom through her blog, The Other Side of the Story. Anyone who visits Janice’s blog knows the amazing wealth of knowledge it holds, and if you’ve read her books, you’ve no doubt fallen in love with the rich world and characters and seen how Janice puts honed technique into practice.

The third book in the series, Darkfall, has just been released, and it got me to thinking about the huge challenge it must be for any author to promote a sequel or series. I asked Janice if she’d share some of her Marketing Fu, explaining what she’s found to be successful as she dives into promoting her third book to readers. So, take it away Janice!

After I sold my first novel, (The Shifter) I spent weeks scouring the web looking for advice on how to market books. I knew it was important, but had no clue what to do. It’s been four years now and I’ve learned—and tried—a lot of different things. Some worked, some didn’t, and some I wished I’d done differently right from the start.



I could do a whole post on this alone, but this is probably the most important thing you can do to market your novel. In today’s world, folks are used to popping online and looking up the things they’re interested in. Having a website gives them something to find. And right or wrong, businesses without a website always feel less professional. Your book is your business, so make sure it feels like a pro.

Business Cards

You really want to have a card with your name, the book’s name, and the cover image on it. Not only are they great for conferences, but hand one to everyone who asks about your book. They’re great reminders of not only your name, but the title, and we all know how easy it is to forget things like that.

A Pitch Line

I just heard a lot of you groan, but this really is a must have. When those folks ask you about your book, you need to be able to tell them what it’s about in one or two sentences. Typically, it’ll go like this:

Person Who Just Found out You’re an Author: Oh, what’s your book called/about?
You: The Shifter, and it’s about a girl who can heal by shifting pain from person to person, and when her little sister disappears, it turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her. Here’s my card.

Then you hand them that nifty card with your cover on it. It may get stuck in a pocket and forgotten, but it might just lead to a sale. I’ve gotten invitations to events because of random “here’s my card” moments with people I met in line at bookstores.

Marketing Copy

Do I hear more groans? Probably, but this is also pretty important. At the very least, you’re going to need copy on your website about your book. While the cover copy is good, having something punchy that’s sales focused is even better. It’s about marketing, remember? If you do ads, postcards, bookmarks, media kits, or anything PR related, you’ll want something that sells the book, not just describes it.

A tagline is great to have as well. Taglines are those short slogans that grab attention. Just like an ad or movie poster, they’re designed to intrigue and make you want to know more. Here’s mine for The Shifter:

 Sister. Healer. Deadly Weapon.

 Nya has a secret she must never share.

A gift she must never use.

A world she must never question.

And a sister whose life depends on her doing all three.

It’s a tad long, but it works as both tag and copy sometimes. This is on my business card, postcards, the media kit, and all kinds of marketing materials. As a summary tagline, I also use:

 Discover a war-torn world where healing is dangerous, and those with the best intentions often do the most harm.

When I need a short description (like for events or proposals), I use this:

Nya is a Taker: with her touch she can heal injuries, drawing the pain into her own body. Unlike other Takers, she can’t push the pain into the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it from person to person, a skill she must conceal or risk being used as a human weapon. But when her sister mysteriously disappears, Nya must decide—how far will she go to save her?

I also have a short blurb that describes the entire trilogy:

Nya is a Shifter, someone who can heal by shifting pain from person to person. She’s hunted by those eager to exploit her ability for their own purposes, determined to make her a weapon, a killer, even a symbol for the war that’s brewing.

 All Nya wants is to protect her family and regain her people’s freedom, but the more she’s drawn into the plans of others, the more she realizes how key to everyone’s victory she really is.

And how much she’ll have to sacrifice just to survive.

Notice how similar these are to a query. This is why those skills are so important to develop! Once you can describe your book in marketing terms, you can craft the sales copy to help promote it. I know it’s hard to write these, but having several options ready and waiting when you need them will make it easier for you to promote your book in a wide variety of places. People need copy about your book if they’re doing something about you. Make it easy for them to talk about you in a way that helps sell your book!


WOW! How often do we get a window into actual marketing material like this, and the why behind it all? Thanks Janice! (And if you aren’t already following Janice’s blog, do your writing a favor and go visit her writing craft treasure trove!)

There is much, much more…so much we’ve had to break this into 2 POSTS. So, in true marketing fashion I’m going to tease you to make sure you tune in: Is blogging worth it for Authors? How about Blog Tours and Guest Posts? What type of swag is the most popular, and what about those *gulp* author appearances?

Click HERE for PART 2 of Janice’s Marketing insights!

Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE, and her newest release, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her website, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] her marketing efforts for The Healing Wars, she wrote not one but two great articles (part 1 & part 2) on what writers can do to take advantage of marketing […]

Rena Traxel
8 years ago

I have had the hardest time describing my novel(a novel I’m about to send out to publishers) and this post helped a bunch! Using Jancie’s examples I created a tag line and a two sentence description for my novel as well as a business card. Thanks a bunch!

H. L. Banks
9 years ago

Terrific information, thanks! I’m putting this on my faves for when I’m ready to market my book. Looking forward to the second installment.

Cynthia Chapman Willis

This is great! And thanks for the link to Janice’s blog!

Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

YAY!!! That was so awesome and useful. But that’s always true of Janice Hardy’s posts.

Traci Kenworth
9 years ago

What great ideas!! I’ll be sure to
keep them in mind when my time
comes to promote my book. Thanks
Angela, Becca, and Janice.

Susanna Leonard Hill
9 years ago

Thanks, Janice!

Mirka Breen
9 years ago

Very helpful post. I never thought of a business card for a specific book.

Kelly Polark
9 years ago

Excellent tips! Looking forward to Part 2.

Janice Hardy
9 years ago

Susanna, you can always do a two sided card with just the cover on one side and your info on the other. I see lots of those handed out at events with other authors. Some don’t do anything more than the cover with a website on it. You don’t have to be as fancy as mine.

My card is actually a folded one, with my contact info on the front, the newest book on the back, and the other two books inside when you open it. It’s probably more than most need, but they were easy for me to do 🙂

Many printing sites these days have easy to follow templates and you can upload images.

Janice Hardy
9 years ago

Southpaw, what I did was start out with a book website for the trilogy, (no one had a clue who I was then) and later shifted over to a more author-branded site. I don’t think you need both, just one place for readers to find you. You can get all the info you need on the same sight. But it makes sense to make the website sales focused and not just a “hi, I’m an author”

Susanna Leonard Hill
9 years ago

Great post full of very helpful information! One question – I know it’s “easy” to design cards these days, but if you’re not a graphic designer and don’t have that artistic vision (or the knowhow to do anything but copy and paste) how would you suggest making a really eye-catching card? Also, it looks like you have a different card for each book? Thanks!

9 years ago

I do follow Janice! Great post with great information.

I do have a question though regarding websites. I’ve seen both author websites and book websites. Do you think both are necessary or just an author website?

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

This. Is. Awesome! What really helpful and pratical advice on the whole promotion and marketing black hole, lol. Thanks so much for the info, and for guest-posting, Janice!

Shannon O'Donnell
9 years ago

Holy cow! There is so much meat and potatoes there that I don’t know where to start! Great, great post!

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

This is so incredibly helpful. I think for many of us who are unpublished but know we’ll shave off that ‘un’ sooner or later, the whole idea of marketing and promotion is like this big black hole of questions. There’s just so much to consider, and every writer wants to do all the right things.

Because of this, I can’t thanks Janice enough for sharing what she knows!


Tricia J. O'Brien
9 years ago

Oh, my! Two of my favorite bloggers in one place! I love all those examples of pitch/tags. They are intriguing and clear. I know what I’d be getting and I want to get it, which is the point. So well done.

Rachel Harris
9 years ago

Great post, can’t wait for tomorrow’s installment 🙂 I love the real life examples to go with the information. That makes all the difference to my frazzled mommy brain. Thanks Janice and Angela!

Janice Hardy
9 years ago

Happy to help everyone. And thanks for all the tweets and kind words 🙂

Paul, the cards are really useful. I forgot to mention, but the one I have photos of is a folding card, so it has my card on the front with all the info, then the other three sides are for each book in the trilogy. Not sure what I’ll do when I have a fourth book out, LOL.

Bish, that’s what I love about the writing community. Everyone is so supportive of each other.

SBibb, you don’t have to do as much as I do, but I feel the more I help my publisher the better off I’ll be.

9 years ago

Thanks for these great tips. The new look on your blog is great, Angela. Love the rich, red brocade.

Julie Musil
9 years ago

Janice is amazing. Each post she writes is like gold, and this one is no exception. Thanks, bookshelf ladies, and thanks to Janice. I’m bookmarking this for future use!

9 years ago

Great ideas for marketing!

Angela Cothran
9 years ago

Janice is amazing! She is like a master teacher 🙂

Lydia Kang
9 years ago

Great stuff! Thanks for posting exactly how you do it. 🙂

9 years ago

Thanks for posting examples, too. 🙂

Even though I realized authors had to help market their books, I didn’t realize just how much extra they had to do, so this was a useful insight.

Thanks. 🙂

Bish Denham
9 years ago

Wow, this is some great information. I love this community of writers who are so willing to share. Thanks Janice!

Laura Pauling
9 years ago

Terrific. Sometimes the basics are the most important. 🙂

Paul Anthony Shortt
9 years ago

Fantastic post Janice, as always.

I hadn’t thought of getting business cards done. That’s definitely something I’ll consider, and making up copy for my blog.

C.R. Evers
9 years ago

Wow! What a great wealth of information. Makes me want to read her books too! :0)

Christina Lee
9 years ago

FANTASTIC advice, Janice! Bookmarking and tweeting!