Conference Notes: Realm Makers Early Bird

We’re here at Realm Makers, which kicked off today with a great early bird session by book marketing experts Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn of SuzyQ. For those who couldn’t be there, here are my  notes, keeping in mind that I missed the first half hour or so while I was at the registration desk.

You are your brand. You are unique. You are the only one who can write with the voice you have.

Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn teach the early bird workshop at Realm Makers 2016.

Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn teach the early bird workshop at Realm Makers 2016.

Be intentional. Branding needs to be well thought out. Beta test. Listen to feedback. People who know you can read between your lines. People who don’t know you can give a fresh perspective.

Be consistent in the way you present your brand across media — your website, social sites, and print materials. [Note from Kristen: in trademark circles, this is called “trade dress.” For example, the colors red and white and a certain script font are always associated with a certain cola beverage.]

You need people to like your brand.

We all feel uncomfortable promoting ourselves.

Be mobile – friendly. Millennials especially will use smartphones to make first contact.

Know your vision for your brand:

  • Promote it
  • Exploit it
  • Emphasize it
  • Protect it

Protecting your brand is like quality control. You control where your brand is used. Don’t say no to an opportunity out of fear. Consider what’s best for your brand and your target readers.

Social Media

If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it online. Be kind in your interactions.

Target posts to your audience beyond your core message to other interests your readers may have.

Have a dialogue, not a monologue. Be conversational.

Automation (e.g. Hootsuite) can make you seem out of step. Use with caution.

Only do as much social media as you can keep up with. Do a few well. Don’t gravitate to the platform that’s your preference. Go to the one that’s your readers’ preference.

Your personal Facebook page is also a public persona. That doesn’t mean you have to make it seem perfect. That would be inauthentic. Show aspects of your personality — including weaknesses — that allow people to connect with you.


Five kinds of people influence book sales. Cultivate relationships with them even before your book is published:

  • Book Retailers
  • Librarians
  • Teachers
  • Book Clubs
  • Avid Readers


Ask influencers for reviews “for marketing purposes.” That tells them how to target their writing.

Pro tip: do not put “available on Amazon” on bookmarks you want to have handed out at a local retailer. They will say no to your face, or they will graciously accept them and then throw them away.

Don’t go in expecting to get something. Go in to give something. Cultivate the relationship, and the retailer will be more likely to offer support.

Follow along #RealmMakers2016 on Facebook and Twitter and probably some other social media channels also.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

2 comments on “Conference Notes: Realm Makers Early Bird

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