Category: Self-Publishing

Guest Post: 5 Promotional Tips from a PR Professional

Posted June 17, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Self-Publishing / 0 Comments

What follows is a guest post from a PR professional–and a friend of mine. I’ve known Cash Graner since college and, as I embark upon my author career and try to learn the ways of book marketing and promotion, I’ve found her pep talks, promotional tips, and “unsolicited advice,” as she puts it, uplifting and buoying.

I hope it does the same for you.

Five Promotional Tips

When sitting down to compile a few promotional tips, I was ecstatic. Not only because it’s something that I love to share, but I consider it an honor to have Jen trust me enough to deliver some advice to her wonderful followers.

With recent events and knowing the world is becoming more turbulent, I wanted to take this opportunity to applaud you for investing in your passion and pursuing your goals within the realm of writing. Many people live to dream, but very few take the right steps to live their dream.

Therefore, while you may or may not be where you want to be today, with every breath you take and every day you live, you can lay another brick towards the path of your dream.

5 Ways to Promote Yourself as the Rockstar You Already Are!

1.     First and foremost, be clear on what image, what message, what “thing” you want to promote

Secondly, ask yourself: who is the audience you’re trying to reach? Is it parents who may be interested in buying new children’s books? Is it women who are interested in reading romance novels?

The reason this matters is the way you promote yourself may differ, depending on your target audience. For instance, if you’re a budding author who writes erotica, chances are you won’t be networking at a child’s book fair.

Your promotional efforts need an ROI that justifies the time and energy exerted. Therefore, you must be clear. After you have reached clarity, you need to set up metrics and a timeline to continually evaluate your progress and tweak things that do or do not have work.

2.     Network

Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it built by a single person. It was built by thousands. Could it be built by one person? Maybe.

If that person lived forever and never slept.

However, it wouldn’t be fun and it would take a shit-ton of time. Therefore, instead of building your empire by yourself, build your network, and leverage your network to be an army of roman builders. In turn, you can help them…while they will help you.

Always seek to serve first and 9 times out of 10, you’ll establish a loyal network of ambassadors to sell your idea/book/message/etc.

How you network is an entirely different topic, but I suggest the following:

Google networking events and come armed with cards. Find 3 people you’re genuinely interested in connecting with and ask them to meet for coffee. After you get their card, email them within 24-48 hours, then send an invite.

The math on this is simple – if you go to a networking event every week for one month and schedule 3 coffees, you’ll have connected with 12 people. Those 12 people are now your brand ambassadors to their network.

Even if those 12 people only have 5 friends each, you’ll have reached 60 people by word-of-mouth. If you can do this 50 weeks out of the year, you’ll have reached 3,000 people. Now, this is assuming you make a great impression, play nice, and offer to help them.

Knowing you would only be the best you can be? I think 3,000 people is a low estimate.

3.     Focus on the positive

Everyone hears negativity every day. It’s exhausting.

Does it feel great to tell the world how horrible someone was to you? Sure. But it’s useless to your potential fanbase.

Use your social power for good and only post things which are true to you and promote you in a positive light.

Now, if your brand is super dark… that may be a different story.

4.     You vs. I

Always seek to serve others. Countless times, I have increased my business by asking people at the end of a conversation, “Is there anything I can help you with?”

Usually, the person says no. But almost always, they express gratitude that I asked.

And when they do ask for help, try your hardest to help them–or offer to introduce them to someone who can help better. The goal is to create a winning solution for them, whether you do the heavy lifting or not.

The reward will be immense and you will have gained a loyal fan/friend.

5.     Be fearless and fail forward

Seek out those who you aspire to be like and ask how they achieved their level of success. Call the people who scare you and ask to learn from them.

If you fail, publish your failure to inspire others to learn from your mistake (just choose a “good” mistake; a teachable moment).

People love genuine people, and in a world of fake teeth, hair, and tans, you’ll get further by remaining humble and honest.

Which leads me to number 6.
Wait, I know. You only expected 5.
Consider this a bonus…

6.     Always expect everything you put out for the world to see and hear to come back to you

Therefore, always, always, always promote yourself knowing that what you say and do can come back to haunt you.

Think of Amanda Bynes. I loved her movies, but they aren’t the first thing I think of when her name is mentioned.

And if something does come back to bite you in the booty? Own it. Everyone will eventually find out the truth and most likely will respect your honesty even if they disagreed with your action.


cash granerCash Graner is a public relations and marketing professional. Prior to working in PR and marketing, she worked in business development for a Fortune 1000 company. She has had the privilege to support an Olympic trainer, acclaimed artists and musicians, non-profit, and small businesses alike to promote and take them to the next level.

You can find her at

Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Could Do Today

Posted June 6, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in Self-Publishing / 0 Comments

Put Off Until Tomorrow

Mark Twain once penned an attribution for Benjamin Franklin for a quote along the lines of “Never put off until tomorrow what you could do day after tomorrow.” Twain was working off of the advice that the Earl of Chesterfield once wrote– “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Well. No offense to the Earl of Chesterfield, but I’m going to have to side with Franklin (by way of Twain) in this case. When it comes to blogging and publishing, I’d indeed advise that you “put off until tomorrow what you could do today.”

Put off until tomorrow what you could do today.

It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn. Since high school, one of my favorite quotes has always been “I’m an American and I want instant gratification!” (-Jude Deveraux)

When I write something, I want to see the blog traffic, the interaction, the sales, and reviews, the comments immediately. The temptation to hit “publish” right after I finish a piece of writing is strong.


I’m writing this post weeks before it will be public. And why is that?

So that I can keep a regular blog presences by drafting posts and scheduling them in a staggered fashion. So that I can capitalize on my bursts of productivity to have a reliable presence and multiple releases.

The same principles should be applied to self-publishing.

At least… in a way.

Let me explain what I mean. There is something to be said for writing a book and publishing it as soon as it’s ready (having undergone its proper editing and formatting, of course). If you’re a speedy writer, there may not be a great space of time between your releases that way.

But for someone like me– someone who drafts notoriously slowly– I think holding off on hitting publish would have been a wiser thing for me to do with my first books and my first series.

For instance, if I had written my entire Threats of Sky and Sea series before releasing the first book, I could have capitalized on the marketing I’d done for Book 1, Threats of Sky and Sea.

I could have capitalized on the previous book’s rankings, rather than waiting until they began to lose some of their “new release” momentum.

I could have gained reviews on new books when the previous ones were fresh in reader’s minds. Scheduled cover releases and press to publicize multiple books at once.

I think it’s a very wise strategy in publishing for a series to wait until the next books are penned and undergoing edit so that the momentum keeps growing during publication and releases.

And it’s a strategy I hope to try in my next series, after Threats of Sky and Sea.

What about you? Have you published your series books quickly? Do you intend to “put off until tomorrow” what you could publish today– but possibly not as well?

This post contains affiliate links.

Choosing to write under a pen name

Posted May 27, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Self-Publishing, Writing / 0 Comments


Choosing to write under a pen name

“You wrote a book? Where can I find it?”

It’s one of the top questions I receive when people that I meet face-to-face learn that I’m an author. I tell them a couple of titles and that they’d be sure to find the books on Amazon as e-books, paperbacks, and audiobooks, depending on their preferences.

“Oh,” I add, “And don’t be put off when the last name is different. Ellision is my pen name.”

Their blinking is as loud as a record screech. They ask,

“Wait. Why did you write under a pen name?”

Why did I write under a pen name? (By the way, this is another one of the most common questions I get.)

There are a lot of reasons, actually.

I think of my pen name as the name of my business.

I wanted a slight degree of separation between me and my author self. They way you would if, say, you opened an etsy shop. Or an event planning company. Or a store. I wanted customers (i.e. my readers) to search for my author content, or contact my author e-mail address rather than inadvertently take a wrong turn on the internet and try to friend my personal Facebook page.

It’s me… but it’s also my business.

My legal name is difficult

They pronounced it wrong at my high school and college graduations. I’ve received wedding invitations and thank you cards from multiple friends I’ve had for 5+ years wherein it’s spelled incorrectly. I thought a different name might be… easier.

And I wanted easier– I wanted readers to be able to remember me.

To be honest, I just liked the name I came up with.

I liked that I’d come up with something that was a play off of the word “illusion.” I liked that it was, in my mind, an homage to my first and longest-lasting fandom, Sailor Moon by acting as a twist on “Elysion.” It felt like my name.

Ellision (1)

These were my reasons. Other authors have their own.

Some people write in genres that would be uncomfortable if people in their day-to-day lives were aware of it.

Others worry that their writing could put their day career in actual jeopardy. There are school teachers who write erotica, for instance, and understandably do not want their students or parents of their students stumbling across their work and taking issue with it.

And some drill down into their branding, using different pen names for difference genres, to maximize the effect of also-boughts to drive sales.

Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not?


My Writing and Publishing Toolkit: The Electronic Edition

My Writing and Publishing Toolkit: The Electronic Edition

Hello, friends! Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite programs and website for my publishing journey, as well as talk about how I use them in my self-publishing journey. This is my publishing toolkit, y’all. These are my must-haves. My software Ride or Die BFFs. Writing: Scrivener First in the publishing toolkit, is Scrivener. I tried Scrivener during one of my first go-arounds with NaNoWriMo. There was a little bit of a learning curve, but Literature and Latte, the company that makes Scrivener provides helpful video tutorials that helped me quickly grasp the basics so that I could get to writing the way that I wanted to. I write in almost nothing but Scrivener. The ability to easily move from chapter to chapter, rather than scrolling through a hefty document to find what I’m looking for, is invaluable. It’s not just a writing tool, […]

Letting Your Characters Go

Letting Your Characters Go

Writing Now and Again was a new experience for me in a lot of ways. I was publishing in a new genre, for a new audience, brushing the dust off of an old project that I hadn’t touched in years. But it was different in another way. Let me explain. When I published Threats of Sky and Sea, I was nervous. I mean, of course, I was nervous. I’m nervous with the publication of every book and this was my very first. I knew more people were going to read my work than ever before. More than my fanfic, more than my creative writing workshops, more than small literary magazines I’d submitted to in the past. I worried about whether readers would respond to my writing, the world I’d created, would they like the plot…? My God, the worries went on and on. But one […]

Talk About Your Books

Posted May 16, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Self-Publishing / 0 Comments
Talk About Your Books

  I have a tendency to downplay my accomplishments to acquaintances in the real world. Yeah, I wrote a few books, but what do they care about that? I’m always so sure that if I bring it up, it will sound like I’m just #humblebragging, you know? It took me a long time even to answer that I was an author when people asked what I “do.” “Talk about your books!” my friends would urge. I’d hem and haw and generally get a little awkward about it. But the universe keeps reminding me that I need to stop that. Here’s how I was reminded this weekend: I went to a wedding this past weekend. I’d say I knew roughly half the guests there–both the bride and groom are friends from college. Some of my friends there have read– if not all, then at […]

What running taught me about writing

What running taught me about writing

I haven’t been running very long. In fact, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I ran my first 5K just over a week ago. I started training for it in January or February. But while I haven’t been doing this long, I started drawing a lot of parallels between running and writing. I thought I’d share some of those here. Sometimes it’s hard… Running: My calves burn. I can’t get enough air in my lungs. God, it’s hot out here. Sweat is stinging my eyes. My clothes are soaked. What the hell just bit me?! Writing: This sounds so stilted. What happens next? Just. Write. Something. Oh God, not that. Delete, delete, delete. Will anyone actually buy this? …And others, it’s easy Running: You want me to run 40 minutes, training app? I’m going for fifty. Writing: God, […]


Posted January 4, 2016 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Self-Publishing, Wrap-ups / 0 Comments

Ah, here it is. That post you’ve read on a thousand different blogs as we catapult off of 2015 to launch into the brand-spankin’ new 2016. I’m no different from the rest. For me, a new year is always imbued with a sense of hope. And New Year’s Resolutions are always a little bit… well, dangerous. Because setting goals that are too high, or beyond my control, can lead to depression when I check in on them if I didn’t manage to achieve them. I think I’ve done better this year and chosen things that are within my control. I like what I’ve seen many people do and choose a word to guide them in the new year. A word that embodies what they want the year to be. For me, that word is: “New” I want 2016 to include… New […]

Choosing Done Lists Over To Do Lists

Posted December 7, 2015 by Jennifer Ellision in blog, Lists, Self-Publishing, Writing / 0 Comments
Choosing Done Lists Over To Do Lists

For most of my life, I’ve been a big proponent of To Do lists. If you’re like me, you know that there is very little in life that is quite as satisfying as highlighting or crossing out an item on a To Do list. Marking it as complete. Accomplished. Finito.  But lately, I’ve chosen a different sort of list. Here’s the thing: my To Do lists lately include large tasks. Things like “Write your next book.” “Finish narrating an audiobook project.” Tasks that can’t be easily accomplished in a day. Sometimes, I think ahead. I break it down to “Write a chapter.” “Narrate a chapter.” But then an email will come in that needs my attention and I have to switch gears to work on that instead. Didn’t get to take something off my list there either. All of this occasionally […]