Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guest author J.L. Greger: Are they talking about us?

Janet & Bug

J.L. Greger, as a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her mystery/suspense novels. So far that’s Coming Flu and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. A third in the series is on the way.

Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Was he right? All publishers seem to agree publicity (now politely called a platform) is necessary for sales.

Is publicity really just a form of advertising?
That question demonstrates I’m no expert on communications and perhaps a bit cynical. Here’s what the experts say:
  • Advertising and publicity are two very different communication tools, even though both employ the mass media as a vehicle for reaching large audiences… Advertising buys its way into the media… Publicity is presented by the media because it's "newsworthy." (

Even so I think book authors can improve the publicity for their books by studying what advertisers have learned

What works in advertising/publicity?
Probably thousands, of blogs, articles, and books have been written on the topic. These two ideas may be useful to authors.

Extend engagement. Consumers are more apt to buy a product if they spend more time looking at an ad or better still interacting with the advertiser (

Accordingly, I am starting a contest: Be a character in my next novel. To enter, post a comment to this blog or any of my guest blogs or my blog ( during the next six months. I’ll draw the winner out of a hat and name a character after them in an upcoming book in my medical mystery series.

Create a positive image. Advertising often sells products not by providing factual information but by surrounding the product with other things shoppers liked, thus creating positive attitudes about the product (Journal of Consumer Research [Dec 4, 2010] Vol. 37).

It’s not easy for an author of medical thrillers (like Coming Flu) to generate a warm, cozy feeling about the book. Maybe I did a better job when I titled my second novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. The heroine Linda Almquist loses ten pounds in fifteen days as she investigates a “diet doctor” for two murders. Almost everyone thinks losing weight is a positive thing.

I also tried to add coziness to my novels and to my blogs by including my adorable Japanese Chin Bug (pictured). Besides I owe him, he sits by me as I write, no one else would.

You’ll probably have better ideas, but maybe this blog will get you thinking positively about getting readers engaged in your novels and blogs.

Bottom line?
Oscar Wilde was right. Maybe that’s why so many authors are writing blogs. The next questions are:
  • Do these blogs generate sales?
  • When they give you a positive feeling, do you read more?
Please extend your interaction with this author and leave a comment. Thanks.

Murder: a New Way to Lose Weight

Janet's website:


Unknown said...

Nice post and great tips. I don't know if blogging generates sales. It may generate reviews after giveaways, but the best thing blogging does is gets you out of your little spot in life and reach out to other writers to learn, share, and get encouraged. Since blogging, I've definitely learned so much, which helps me in my writing, marketing and building up courage to keep going. Writer’s Mark

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces, Janet!

I've been blogging for 6 years and I've seen little to suggest that blogging generates sales. It does create a wonderful sense of community, though. I've learned a lot and met people I never would have otherwise.

Jewel Amethyst said...

The jury is still out as to whether blogging generates sales or not, but it can be an effective tool for building a platform and establishing a fan base.

Carol Mitchell said...

I love the idea of a competition to be a character in your next book.

I think that publicity brings name recognition and name recognition is important in selling books. If I see a book and the name rings a positive bell I may be more likely to buy it. Also if I have found your blog interesting and I like the way you turn a phrase, it might encourage me to buy your book.