I recently attended a branding seminar for authors and wanted to share best practices with the WordServe Community. Here are 4 Sizzling Secrets to Branding You and Your Book from speaker Liz Goodgold, Branding Expert for www.RedFireBranding.com:

1. WIIFM: What’s in if for me?

Your audience wants to know what they are going to get out of buying and reading your book. Sell a benefit or a result – think in terms of a call to action. Will your reader learn a skill, come away with increased knowledge, or be entertained? Knowing your endgame is a huge part of selling the benefits and the results.

2. Consistency is Key

Brands have to be consistentIn-N-Out Burgers always taste the same, and they have since the forties. That is consistency at its finest.  Your audience is looking for that kind of consistency. Once you have established your brand it’s important to stay with it. Think in terms of household names like Chicken Soup for the Soul, or the ‘Dummies’ do-it-yourself guides or perhaps the Mars and Venus books. For writers who tackle random subjects without a real sense of continuum, Liz recommended that the books should still appear consistent with regards to style, size, type, and font. Branding by color is a popular way to go.

3. Book Title – Easy Recall

A well-branded book title is catchy and simple to recall; it also carries over easily from one book to the next. In hindsight, my book, Gumbeaux, was probably not the perfect title as it can be considered difficult to pronounce. However, I have the opportunity, based upon Liz’s learnings, to title my next book: “Rancheaux” or something with a similar suffix. The suffix could work as well for me as “itos” does for DoritosCheetosTostitos, etc.

4.You Are the Brand

You are not building a book, but an empire. Don’t create a website that is only useful to promote a single book unless you are positive you’ll never write another one. It should be fluid enough to support your blog, sales channels, books to come, a potential series, etc. Check out the websites of your favorite authors and notice how they position themselves not just as writers, but as brands. Use jargon that resonates with your writing platform. You are the brand – not your book – so think big.

How are you building your brand?

A Writer’s Wish List

by Kimberly Vargas


This Christmas, our literary agency blog parade assignment was to create a writer’s wish list that our readers might enjoy.  Below is my wish list in the form of a poem. May blessings fall into your life like snow this holiday season!

My childhood dream of being a writer has already come true

So I wish for the ability to engage readers like you

For peace that passes all understanding

For loved ones that travel to enjoy the safest of landings

For wonderful music to camouflage all writing distractions

To make people think and to cause some reactions

To entertain crowds, to light up a few lives

To remind husbands why they fell in love with their wives

To demonstrate that anything is possible in this brave new day

For others to be inspired and find their own way

For wrists that stay loose, no matter how I abuse them

For fingers that record my thoughts before I can lose them

For my dog to sleep soundly under my chair

For acceptance out there in the wide open air

For the gift to weave words into the fabric of lives

‘Memories preserved, dreams captured, love immortalized’

So many wishes have already come true

I want more of the same both for me and for you

Thank you for checking out my blog parade giveaway!

I have ten autographed copies of GUMBEAUX available as giveaways for this event.

GUMBEAUX was a Readers Favorite gold medal winning novel in 2011.

Interested? Email me to enter the drawing at kimberlyvargasauthor@gmail.com.

Not convinced? Then please feel free to download free sample chapters of GUMBEAUX here at my website, or via Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Gumbeaux-Kimberly-Vargas/dp/061553483X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1331164527&sr=8-1

Thank you and happy holidays!

Warmest regards,

Kimberly Vargas


When I completed my first book, my boss was incredibly supportive and offered to get amarketing package for me of my own choosing. Having very little understanding of book marketing, I was soon swimming in a flood of possible opportunities of all different shapes, sizes, and price tags. I finally settled on the Readers Favorite’s Book Promotion Packagewhich I found to be reasonably priced and reputable. One of their strategic partners, The Authors Show, welcomed me as a preferred guest as part of said package.

I had never been on the radio before and was rather anxious about sounding like a moron.  I didn’t worry for long, though, because it was clear that The Authors Show staff had the interview process down to a science. They sent me an author interview form to complete. It asked for pertinent information about the book. They allowed me to create 8-10 suggested questions that would relate to its content and would connect with an audience. There was a place to create a synopsis, a call to action to encourage buying behavior, and a list of preparatory questions so I would have an idea of what to expect.  Some of the questions were very thought provoking and have helped me during other marketing initiatives as well. For example: What benefits will the buyer get from reading the book?

After I completed the interview form and submitted it, I didn’t wait long until the interview was scheduled. It was conducted over the phone by Don McCauley, who was very kind. Before we got started, he encouraged me to relax and be as natural as possible. He assured me that they would edit the interview and remove any pauses or filler words.

When the time for the interview came, I was sure to secure a remote location without any distractions or background noises. I used a headset which seemed to help the audio quality. My gracious host made me feel very much at ease throughout the call which only lasted about thirty minutes.

Once the interview was edited, it came out to be fifteen minutes long. The interview was featured on The Authors Show for an entire month. During this time, I leveraged all the social media tools in my arsenal to get the word out: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, mywebsite, et cetera. After my time on The Authors Show website was up, they sent me an MP3 file of the interview. It’s still available on YouTube and accessible through my website. People have marveled, “You sound so knowledgeable!”  That’s nice to hear, but it’s because the marketing company set me up for success.

Aside from Amazon, the radio interview has been the best marketing vehicle I have found so far, and it’s by far the most impressive facet of my campaign.  It lives on the front page of my website and enjoys prime real estate. I will always be grateful to my boss, to Don, and to the good people at The Authors Show for providing me with this great facet of my marketing toolbox.

Have you ever used radio as a book marketing tool? How do you get the word out about your writing?


Have you ever sent a letter to prospective customers asking them to buy one of your books? If so, you have participated in direct mail marketing — one of the most efficient and effective selling techniques. If you think it’s too old school for you, then consider this: 55% of Americans read the news, 95% have telephones, 98% have television sets. However, 100% of Americans have a mailbox. Therefore, it is your only 100% opportunity to hone in on your targeted audience.

There are four components to asuccessful direct mail campaign: theCreative, the List, the Offer and theResults.

1) Creative: Of course you want your direct mail piece to be eye-catching and informative. How you present your offer to your list has to be done professionally so that all of the emotional hot buttons are triggered while also maintaining interest and going for the sale. Some of the best copywriters are paid thousands of dollars to write a single sales pitch letter, simply because the creative aspect of your campaign is that important. If your budget allows it, consider using variable data printing, which personalizes each letter to its recipient using demographics such as male/female, geographic region, etc. Even just a first name is effective in grabbing attention.

2) List:  Although your current customer base is incredibly valuable, it will be necessary to continuously seek out new customers as well. Your current customers will only buy so much. Aside from that, you will lose customers every year for various reasons. A good way to replace your eroding customers is by acquiring targeted mailing lists. It’s great to have a fantastic book but unless you can get it in front of the correct audience, it’s all for naught. The best list for you may be expensive, and you can expect to pay per name. The more targeted the list of prospects, the better. If you are selling a book on, say, surfing, you want to find a list of people who surf AND who buy books on surfing. If you get a list that is cheap or free, that doesn’t mean it’s a good one. In fact, you want to be absolutely sure you have a solid list before you start sending out direct mail offers and accruing postage fees. Acxiom® and Dun & Bradstreet® are examples of companies that sell lists. You can also work with a direct mail advertising company who can walk you through the entire campaign, such as Modern Postcard.

3) Offer: What you offer in the direct mail campaign needs to be exclusive to the group, while also being priced to make a profit for you. Make an offer that will get the recipient to act quickly, such as directing them to your website to see a sample chapter, free gift or autographed copy if they respond by a certain date. The options are unlimited, so you can test lots of different ideas to see which offers produce the best outcomes.

  • Keep the offer simple: One or two QUICK benefits: “Save time and money with our services!” or “Stay warm this winter!”
  • Give a reason to continue reading: “See the other side for big savings!”
  • Make a big promise and be sure you can fulfill it: “Order now and enjoy a full head of hair in three weeks!”
  • Include an expiration date… create a sense of urgency or exclusivity. The most compelling direct mail pieces have a call to action.

4) Results: A direct mail campaign which produces more than a 2% response is considered successful. Lower than a 1% response is typical. You then need to take into account the conversion rate (the conversion of responses into sales), assuming the campaign is designed to produce responses or inquiries and not just actual sales.

Do not engage in a 100,000-piece nationwide mailing your first time out of the gate. Try 500 or so at first and see how it goes. This way you can tweak the results, eliminate certain demographics and introduce others. Think of this kind of marketing as a long play that takes some honing. Aside from sales, some additional metrics to consider are the number of orders, how many offers were redeemed, how many responses by phone / email you received and the estimated future value of your new customers. Track your responses carefully. Enter them into a CRM system like ACT!®, Goldmine®, Salesforce®, etc., put them into an Excel® spreadsheet, put them in a box or record them in a notebook. Track them and make sure they are updated regularly, if possible.  A mail house can assist you by checking your list against their national change of address software, and provide you with any move updates so you can follow your customer base.

Not all books can be sold successfully through direct mail. The topic must be of interest to the targeted audience and the price must be sufficiently low to encourage people to respond with an order. Tell them why the information in your book will be of interest to them. In closing, you might find it interesting to know that direct mail came back in a big way in 2011, increasing by $10 Billion and gaining another 5% in terms of total ad spend share. Each dollar spent on direct marketing yields, on average, a return on investment of $12.05. By comparison, each dollar spent on non-direct mail advertising yields an ROI of $5.29. (Source: DMA ‘s Power of Direct Marketing; 2011 Edition).



People often ask how someone as flaky as I am can pull it together and write a book. In the hopes that it might inspire others to go out and create new worlds of their own, here are the things I did to become a published author:

1) Read a lot of great content. This is as important as the writing itself. Read with passion and learn continuously.

2) Schedule blocks of time for writing. This includes unplugging from the outside world, logging off the internet, turning off the phone. Hard to do, but those distractions really add up. Writing fiction requires immersion in another world, which takes considerable focus and concentration.

3) Generate a manuscript. Woody Allen has said that others are willing to help, but your project has to be solid enough, you have to do the work first. Once you have your manuscript ready, have an ideal reader and an editor go through it. Make edits until it’s polished enough for the next level.

4) Submit the manuscript to a fiction contest and follow the process, because you never know what may happen. In my case, a friend suggested entering GUMBEAUX in the 2011 Readers Favorite fiction contest. I was very shocked to win a gold medal for my genre. Part of the winnings included assistance in generating a query, which they then sent off to literary agencies all over the nation. It was because of this query that I met my agent and became part of the WordServe community.

5) Listen to counsel and check your ego at the door. Agents, editors and real friends are there to help you and to tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear. Being open to constructive feedback and applying advice as appropriate will only improve your writing.  I love the changes I have seen unfold as a result of this process and so does my audience.

5) Attend writing seminars and learn about your options. Through local San Diego workshops, I have garnered a great deal of information about publishing and marketing. Publishers and Writers of San Diego has been a great resource. Decide your goals for your writing and determine how much you are prepared to spend, if any, on launching your book.

6) Being unable to find a publisher is no longer a show stopper. Although I would love to one day be part of a traditional publishing house, that is yet to come. Until the right opportunity arises, I have chosen to self-publish. The flexibility and control an author has with today’s self publishing options is unprecedented.  Why not explore the possibilities? If your goal is merely to create a book to share with family and friends, it’s never been easier to make it happen.

These steps are merely to share where I am in the writing journey. There is a long way to go, and because I plan to do this forever, there really isn’t any rush.  I guess my characters do have more of a sense of urgency, because they want to be commemorated – but that’s another story…


Blog Parade / Free Book Giveaway

Hello everyone and thank you for checking out my blog parade giveaway!

I have ten autographed copies of GUMBEAUX available as giveaways for this event.

GUMBEAUX was a Readers Favorite gold medal winning novel in 2011.

Interested? Email me to enter the drawing at kimberlyvargasauthor@gmail.com.

Not convinced? Then please feel free to download free sample chapters of GUMBEAUX here at my website, or via Amazon or Smashwords.

Thank you and let the good times roll!!! / Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!

Warmest regards,

Kimberly Vargas


SAN DIEGO, June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — With vacation season approaching a great read is still a staple for the summer traveler. Whether by electronic reader or in paperback, a good book is both entertaining and satisfying and serves as a distraction from airport waits, train rides or car trips. Gumbeaux, by award-winning author Kimberly Vargas, transports the reader into the sultry, steamy world of Louisiana and is just the ticket to getting lost in a romantic coming-of-age story that chronicles Mary Veronica Fait’s shattered life and the characters she meets.

Haunted by memories of a reckless past, the protagonist revisits New Orleans to face her demons and to set her soul to rest. The book flashes back to the early 1990s when Mary Veronica Fait, a sheltered yet rebellious teenager, journals her transformation from a trapped orphan into a spirited woman who faces life head-on after the tragic death of her parents.

Mary Veronica takes charge of her destiny, changes her name, and moves to New Orleans where she attends art classes during the day and works as a waitress in a Cajun restaurant by night. The book’s title –the name of this restaurant–serves as a metaphor for the blend of people she meets, characters who create adventures and misadventures, and who ultimately help Mary Veronica grow.

Echoing the style of the journals found in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Vargas retells in diary form how Mary Veronica Fait gains independence by leaving behind a life of privilege in Washington D.C. for a life as an art student in New Orleans, Louisiana. Void of the comforts of wealth, and released from an abusive, controlling, uncle, Mary Veronica, granddaughter of renowned artist, Jean-Luc Fait, becomes Veronica Fey.

Years later, Mary Veronica Fait, mature and in charge of the family fortune and art museum, is haunted by the belief that she may have left part of her soul behind in the deep south and must face her dark past in order to win it back. Through therapy and by revisiting her teenage journal entries, Mary Veronica returns to New Orleans and finally finds peace.

Set in the sultry, steamy backdrop of pre-Katrina Louisiana, Vargas gives the reader an intimate window into the life of the teenager Veronica Fey, the psychological and physical abuse she endures with an alcoholic guardian, and the inner strength that releases her from his control to finally live life on her own terms.

This is Vargas’ debut novel and was a 2011 Readers Favorite Award Winner for fiction. Vargas was four when she wrote her first book then at the age of seven she authored a book about Dolphins which was featured in the Christian Science Monitor. Like her main character in Gumbeaux, Vargas–currently a human resources manager for Modern Postcard inCarlsbad, CA–has always been independent, kept journals and is a fine artist. Her art pieces, held in private collections, recreate the romance of southern plantation homes and the intense color of floral studies in acrylics.

Vargas has strong family ties to Washington D. C. and as her father was a naval eye surgeon her family traveled extensively throughout the USA. As a young adult Vargas attended college in Louisiana, which remains dear to her heart. “The more people who fall in love with Louisiana the better, because then they will take care of it. I’m hoping this book generates interest for them to do so,” she says.

Now residing in San Diego, but still bitten by the travel bug, Vargas along with her husband, Michael, visits tropical points where they can surf and paddle board and be close to the dolphins. Like her character Veronica Fey, Vargas believes in living life to the fullest and cannot refuse the call to adventure.

“Author Kimberly Vargas’s deeply personal narrative draws the reader into a unique cast of quirky characters and unexpected relational dynamics. This story literally pours off the page, overflowing with complex relationships that intertwine both the familiar and the uncomfortable.” Nicole M. Knox

Visit http://www.kimberlyvargasauthor.com/ to learn more about Gumbeaux and Kimberly Vargas

To purchase a paperback version of the book for $7.99 visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/061553483X/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Download an ebook for 99c from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/gumbeaux?keyword=gumbeaux&store=nookstore

For photos of the bookcover and Kimberly go to http://www.dianewelch.com/KimberlyPhoto1.html

Media Contact: Diane Welch Business Bloom, 858 523 0389, dianewelch@dianewelch.com

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Business Bloom

Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1f4Ju)