Interview with a Novelist

Recently, I had the chance to connect with Monica Leonelle, digital media strategist by day, and novelist by night.  She blogs about her writing craft on She has a new novel out, Social Punk.  So, we discussed book marketing.

Does the marketing basics apply to book marketing?  Are there any tricks that are specific to book marketing?

Books are incredibly hard to market. Think of your favorite song for example. It took, what, maybe five minutes to consume it? It’s much easier to say, "Hey, watch this music video" than it is to say, "Hey, read this book." So the passalong for a music video is much, much faster. You can blow up on Youtube with the snap of a finger if your a musician.

Movies are harder, but still, they are two hours or so. You can’t blow up with a movie, it takes tons and tons of commercials and press to promote. You have an entire team of actors hitting every late night show possible to promote a movie. But still, the passalong factor is greater, for the simple fact that movies are only two hours to consume.

Books are around 8 hours to consume. In a normal adult’s life, this means a week or a month to finish a book. Then, and only if they love it, they share it with their friends. And their friends groan and say they’ll get to it, and a year later maybe they do or they don’t. Word-of-mouth is crazy hard for books. Most authors can’t get a book going until they have six other ones in their backlist. So the trick to book marketing is to stick with it for at least five years, and keep writing. It’s not for the faint-hearted. And you are probably not the one who’s going to explode overnight.


If you had written your book 10 years ago before the internet matured, how would you have marketed the book?  How would you reached your target?  Would it have been possible?

I would have had to go the traditional publishing route, so I have no idea. Probably radio shows and touring the country to do book signings.


How do you fit in being a digital media strategist and being a novelist in just 24 hours a day?  Can everyone do it?

I work almost every day for at least 10-12 hours.  I don’t think the question is whether everyone can, but whether everyone would want to. I sometimes hope for a simpler life.


Finally, what’s your favorite novel and what’s your favorite marketing book?  Why?

My favorite novel from the last year is the Clockwork Prince from Cassandra Clare. It’s romantic and funny and has great characters. My favorite marketing book right now is The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. He gave me a lot of perspective on book marketing.

A little about Social Punk: Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

One Comment

  1. Great interview, Jeannie! The insights Monica gives really show you how persistence, creativity and adaptability to new trends are important traits for anyone to be successful in marketing.

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