Monday, February 13, 2012

Marketing Monday: Holly Cupala

Marketing Monday is back! It's been a long time, I know, but it has been worth the wait!

Today, I have Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me a Secret (HarperCollins 2010).

Holly is currently promoting her second novel, Don't Breathe A Word (HarperCollins, January 2012; check out a two-chapter sneak preview). She's chock full of terrific information about how to spread the word. Read on to learn more!

How did you help to promote your first book, Tell Me a Secret?

I pretty much decided that I got to do this debut book once, so I gave it my all. Plus I have an amazing husband who did the same—we had a blast together and did some crazy things. Videos, sneak previews, trailer, events.

I worked hard to plan and work ahead as much as possible, especially with the blog tour and sending two-chapter sneak previews to 150 indie bookstores and at least that many bloggers.

We had a couple of audiobook offers, but we decided to produce our own so that we could hire award-winning actress Jenna Lamia, then ended up making a ground-breaking deal with Audible to distribute it (here). The TMAS trailer we produced was a finalist in the first SLJ Trailie Awards!

Awesome (and well deserved)! What are you doing to market Don't Breathe a Word? Are you trying to expand your audience with the second book, and if so, how?

After everything we learned from TMAS, we went for the highest impact efforts for the DBAW launch. We created a downloadable sneak preview booklet (, we’ve released a trailer with incredibly gorgeous graphics from our friend Realm Lovejoy (below), and a blogger fan generously put together a tour (

[Holly is also holding a contest for the trailer launch, so be sure to check it out!]

With the guidance of a couple of wise fellow authors, I enlisted the help of a street team to get the word out, so of course we’ve made stickers and posters and fun swag to send to them. We had a big launch party in Seattle, and I’ll be doing a few local and national events as well. I’m really excited to report it’s gone into a second printing, and I just found out Barnes and Noble chose DBAW as a Top Teen Pick for the month of February!

Sounds like your marketing efforts are really paying off! What advice do you have for debut authors who are just starting to think seriously about marketing?

Put a Google Alert on your name, your book name, your name + book name (spelling variations, etc., since if you are like me you will run into a fair number of misspellings). Watch for bloggers waiting for your book—you can always politely contact them about interviews, etc.

You can’t always send review copies (and most of the time publishers don’t give that many), but you can respond and see if they’d like to do an interview or guest post. As a side note, setting up blog tours can be very time-consuming, but there are a couple of blog sites out there that may want to organize one for you.

If you have an ARC to spare, check out some ARC tour blogs—they usually sign up ~10 bloggers who will mail one galley among themselves and review.

If you can get to a major conference (BEA, ALA, etc.), it’s great for exposure—see if you can get your publisher to sponsor you and/or schedule you for a signing.

And…pace yourself, because marketing can be consuming and exhausting! You can always do more, but I think it’s good to do what you can do well and what is fun for you.

Thank you, Alison, for inviting me to your blog, and I hope your readers enjoy Don’t Breathe a Word!

* * *

Thank you Holly, for taking the time to share the secrets of your marketing success!

Holly is the author of Tell Me A Secret (HarperCollins 2010) and Don't Breathe A Word (now available!), two young adult novels about...well, secrets. Readers and reviewers are saying very nice things about her novels—she hopes you will read them and tell her what you think.

If you are a published author and you would like to share your experiences with marketing and promoting your book(s), I'd love to share your story! Please contact me at anpstevens [at] gmail [dot] com.  


  1. Thanks Jeremy--Holly was great, wasn't she?

  2. That's a great post Alison! Holly is quite an inspiration!

  3. Thanks Maureen--she is! Even my husband (who isn't a fan of YA) wants to read her books after watching those trailers!

  4. Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Alison, and thanks to your readers for the kind comments! My husband will be especially pleased that your husband liked the trailers - he produced the first one and created the second (concept, animation, etc.) I'm very proud of him. :)

  5. He did an outstanding job, Holly! And so did you on this post--thank you so much!