Swapping with Julie Ortolon

I first met Julie Ortolon when we were both writing for Dell, at least ten years ago. I saw her again in 2010 at the RWA National conference in Orlando. In fact, I was entering the hotel (in one of those huge revolving doors designed for large numbers of people with large numbers of bags) and I thought the woman ahead of me looked like Jules. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I read her luggage tag to be sure before I tapped her on the shoulder. We started a conversation right then about digital self-publishing and the future of books, one that we picked up again each time our paths crossed at that conference. Jules was then determined to digitally self-publish – she is a powerhouse of energy! – and she has gone from success to success in that endeavor in the past year. I’m very excited to have her here today, to tell you a bit about her and her books.

Meanwhile, I’m over on Jules’ blog today, Julie’s Journal Online, talking about my books, promotion and digital publishing. Here’s the permalink.

And here’s Jules!

Writing (and Promoting) in the eBook Age

By Julie Ortolon

Deb just gave me a chuckle. We’ve known each other for . . . goodness, has it been 12 years? Good heavens, it has. We first met via an email loop back in 1999 when I sold my first romance novel, Drive Me Wild, to Dell. Deb was also writing for Dell under her pen name, Claire Delacroix. Our publishing paths have taken different twists and turns, occasionally intersecting. And despite the fact that I have a bizarre and unexplained habit of spilling red wine on whatever gorgeous jacket she happens to be wearing when we meet in person, we’ve remained writing buds through the years.

Our paths have started crossing more frequently now that we’ve both entered the ebook revolution, releasing our backlist as ebooks to give them new life. I find this new era thrilling as both a reader and an author. So many fabulous romance novels, actually novels in general, have gone out of print over the years. It’s frustrating to discover a new-to-me author whose work I adore, because it makes me want to track down everything they’ve written – only to discover their backlist is out-of-print. Ugh! Have you had that happen to you? Well the ebook revolution may end that. A true reason to rejoice.

But with this new era comes numerous challenges. And here’s why Deb made me chuckle.

We decided to swap blogs for a day. She’s posting to my blog JuliesJournalOnline.com, while I’m posting here. My blog is mostly dedicated to helping fellow authors navigate the brave new world of publishing, so I asked Deb to write about her take on promotion in the age of ebooks. The minute I read her post, I realized: We’re polar opposites when it comes to promotion! Deb does it grudgingly, while I love it! If given the choice between writing all day or spending the day promoting something I’ve already written, I’ll pick the latter. While Deb would pick the former.

So you would think if we both wrote about promotion, we’d give opposite advice. Nope. We may be polar opposites in what we enjoy doing, but we both agree: Writing new stories is by far more important than promoting ones you’ve already written. Actually, we both go one step further and agree that writing new stories is promoting stories you’ve already written. The best way to entice readers to buy your whole backlist is to have them stumble over one of your stories, fall in love with it, and want to get their hands on everything you’ve written.

That said, an author can’t just write all the time and never promote. Because you do have to get readers to discover one of your stories so they’ll realize they want your whole backlist.

So, I’m here to ask you, how do you discover new authors? Especially when it comes to ebooks. Do you browse Amazon, BN.com, the Apple iBookstore by category? Do you click on the covers shown in the area for “readers who bought this also bought this”? Do you visit reader message boards? How about enewsletters like FreshFiction and Eye on Romance? Have you ever bought an ebook because of a banner ad? And what about Facebook and Twitter? I’ve had several readers tell me they frequently click on recommendations they see on Facebook and Twitter if it’s posted by someone whose taste they trust. I know I do!

I hope you take the time to share, because these are things authors need to know.

Oh, and if you happen to be looking for a fun, sexy contemporary romance, my newest release, Dear Cupid, is currently on sale for only 99¢. It’s about an advice columnist who realizes she needs a bit of flirtation in her life to lighten her post-divorce attitude on romance. But when the object of her flirtation falls in love at first site, the chase is on in this heartwarming and light hearted tale.

Or you might prefer one of my popular and award-winning trilogies.

The Pearl Island trilogy follows three siblings who buy a dilapidated mansion supposedly haunted by a colorful ancestor and her pirate lover, to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Set on Galveston Island, Texas, these three stories offer plenty of local color, a touch of history, and of course romance.

In the Perfect trilogy, three women, friends since college, discover a fourth friend used them as negative examples in a bestselling, self help book about how women let fear hold them back from pursuing their dreams. Each friend has one year to face a fear that’s been holding them back. Their quests take them on separate adventures to the art galleries of Santa Fe, the ski slops of Colorado, and the posh island of St. Bart’s in the Caribbean, where they find their perfect match.


See how smoothly Jules did that? I told you she was a natural at self-promotion! Just FYI, the links for the trilogies are to the first book in each one.

Jules didn’t even mention that she’s done the cover art for all of her digital releases herself. This is a woman of many talents. And actually, I had forgotten about the wine…

So, how do YOU shop for books? Jules wants to know!

15 thoughts on “Swapping with Julie Ortolon

  1. Thanks for having me, Deb. What a great idea you had to swap blogs for the day. And you call me the marketing wiz? I think you more than hold your own. *G*

    Now, I’m off to get some writing done!


  2. Hi Julie! Welcome to Deb’s blog. To answer your question on e-book buying habits, while I’m not the best to answer that, since I’m still very much a snob about digital publishing. I’ve been burned by many an e-pubbed book that needed a stronger editorial hand.

    But when I do wander over to the e-book section of B&N.com, it’s usually in search of a print book in e-format. In such cases, the cover is still going to be the first thing to grab my eye.

    Just like in the book store, the cover tells me what kind of book to expect. If the book cover appeals, then I’ll read the blurb.

    But even priced at 99 cents, or $1.99 or $2.99, I’m often hesitant to hit the buy button on non-print publisher digital books unless I know the author’s work.

    I’m going to have to work on that hesitation, I suppose, or miss out on a lot of good books.


  3. I had a shocking thing happen to me the other day — I stumbled across a Tweet that linked to a book I wanted to buy and I *didn’t* buy it. It was over 5 bucks. I put it on my Amazon wish list, and I may buy it. I hadn’t realized my buying habits had changed so drastically, though. If it had been 3.99 or less I’d have snapped it up.

    I don’t know what it means…except that I’ll probably use the wish list more than I used to.


    • Interesting, Kelly. I do think we’re all more price-sensitive – although whether that’s because of digital books being priced lower when they’re indie or because of the recession (or both) it’s not clear. Thanks for coming by!


  4. Hi Pam, thanks for answering! I’m curious, do you download samples?

    And yes, in the future, I think readers who want full access to fiction will have to go to ebooks. Even the major publishers are talking about offering “digital first” contracts. Which, if I understand correctly, means they’ll put a story out as an ebook only release, then release it later in print. I predict that will mean they’ll only do the print release if the ebook does well.

    Also, there are a lot of ebook only releases coming down the pipe from established, multi-published, very talented authors who have basically been forced to go indie either completely or with stories they passionately want to write but that traditional publishers won’t publish.

    But that’s the great thing about ebooks. They equal variety for readers and writers.


  5. Good post, Julie. I’ve decided to release one new contemporary, a romantic comedy, and three new Regencies and hope my backlist will benefit.

    Pam T, at Amazon you can download samples to see if the story or the author’s style appeals. You can also find out if it’s been edited to suit.

    Hi, Kelly!


    • Hi Fran – Good luck with your digital releases! I do believe that frontlist drives backlist (in fact, that’s one of my theme songs) so I’m sure that having new titles will pump up your backlist sales.

      I think sampling and free downloads are absolutely brilliant. That feature replicates the way we used to stand in the bookstore and read the beginning of the book before buying it.



  6. “If given the choice between writing all day or spending the day promoting something I’ve already written, I’ll pick the latter. While Deb would pick the former.”

    I love you, dearly, Julie, but I’m on Deb’s side of this kickball field. 😉


  7. Well, the truth is that I read books by people I meet or books friends recommend. (I’m new to digital publishing and to Indie publishing.)

    I also read blogs, and if I like the author I’ll check out her books.


    • Hi Mary –

      Thanks for stopping by. I become more of a fan of long-tail marketing every day! I think a lot of people ignore advertising, not just for books but for everything, because our world is so saturated with it. We just tune it out.

      Best of luck with your new releases!



  8. HI Deb and Julie

    I base my book buying on author recognition, friend recs and If I’ve met authors in person or chatted with them.

    Have to pace myself though. It’s been insane with all the backlist books available now.

    Had the pleasure of meeting Deb/Claire at a con a few years ago. I still remember that as the highlight of the trip 🙂


    • Hi Mary –

      Thanks for commenting – I know you visit once in a while (not that it’s stalking or anything!). And that was fun at that conf – for those of you who don’t know the story, Mary and I met, then kept finding each other in the same places, which was/is the basis of our ongoing stalking joke. Who stalks who? In truth, though, that always happens at conf – there are inevitably a half a dozen people who you see over and over and over again, while the other 1900 attendees (or the people you’re trying to find) just fade into the background. Mary and I just had fun with it.



  9. Great idea, this blog swap!

    As we say in Italy (where I live): complimenti!

    You’re both truly professional and fascinating authors! Here’s to your continued success!

    And yes, to respond to one of the comments, our buying habits have changed price-wise. I know mine have: I balk at a $5 price, all the more so that over here in Italy, Amazon charges an additional $2 to “whispernet” it across the Atlantic (plus an imprecise amount for tax).

    So that a 99 cents book costs me $3.44!!!


    • Wow, Claude, I didn’t realize that Amazon charged a whispernet delivery fee in other parts of the world. I thought the whole point was that it was free.

      Taxes, however, are one of the great mysteries of the universe to me.

      Thanks for commenting!


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