Does Marketing Really Matter with VS Grenier

It's my pleasure to host a talented author and entrepreneur, Virginia S. Grenier. Virginia has graciously prepared an informative guest article for us, but be sure to read to the very end . . . you won't want to miss: A Bit About Virginia S. Grenier and her wonderful children's picture book, Babysitting Sugarpaw.

Does Marketing Really Matter with VS Grenier

Karen thanks for having me as a guest blogger today. I gave the topic a lot of thought over the past couple of weeks. For those who do not know, Karen asked me share with you about marketing my book, Babysitting SugarPaw while I was pregnant. So without further ado here is my story.

When I first got the go on my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw being published, I started my email blasts. I had press releases sent out, I posted on all my social sites, talked about it in SFC Newsletter for Writers, did radio interviews, etc. I wanted to build the hype about my book before it even became available. Once it did, I did not stop my marketing campaign. In fact, I stepped it up a notch once it came out.

My publisher sent an email blast about my picture book to their contact list with the cover art, my photo, a blurb on the book. I had them send me a copy of the blast so I could do the same with my contact list. I also had post cards made up of the blast to send out. I sent them to every school, library, preschool, daycare, children’s store, doctors, dentist, and bookstore I could think of or find in my phonebook. I did give-a-ways. I had free coloring pages available on my site. I did contest. I sent copies to blog review sites. You name it . . . I pretty much did it and I was not even done yet with the ideas I was coming up with either.

But then things changed, I found out I was pregnant and I was only just getting warmed up with my marketing campaign. I knew this did not mean the end, but it did mean I would have to stay local with most of my in person promos and change some of my strategy a bit. No big deal. We have a pretty big county here in Southern Utah. Plenty of schools I can visit. Lots of kids to share SugarPaw’s antics with at local events. That was until the H1N1 virus decided to show up.

Talk about putting the breaks on my marketing strategy. My doctor did not want me anywhere near public places being pregnant. Heck, he did not even want to me to shop for food if I could help it. That meant no school visits in the fall. No book signings, no library visits, no nothing to help promote my book in person. I was missing out on a lot of local events in my area. Just my luck. Okay, but I still have the internet . . . right? I could still do interviews, guest blogging, radio interviews, Skype visits, blog talk radio, or blog tours, etc. At least that’s what I was hoping for. But I guess the rain wasn’t enough. No, it had to storm on my book campaign.

I ended up sick, even though I avoided all public places and my hubby did all the shopping, with . . . you guessed it H1N1. I was down for the count. Between being pregnant and sick as a dog, there was nothing left for me to give to my book, Babysitting SugarPaw. I watched as my book sales dropped off the charts.

My book, Babysitting SugarPaw came out July 2009. I have actually ended up only selling a couple hundred copies over the past several months. But do not think because my marketing campaign not going the way I would have like when the book first came out is going to stop me. Just because it has almost been a year, I am not going to give up on my book. Now that I’ve had my baby girl and I’m not sick anymore with that awful flu, it’s time to dust off my marketing strategy and get the hype going again about, Babysitting SugarPaw. Just because a book campaign did not go the way you would like does not mean you should give up on you book. It just means you need to rethink, redo, or adjust it. In my case, it means do all the things now I could not do before.

Books can only do so much on their own. A great book cover and blurb will help if someone picks it up at the store, but it is the author who really makes the sales happen. A long time ago, publishers used to put effort into marketing new releases. Now they focus on their best-selling authors. But if you want to be a best-selling author, you are going to have to work at it because no one is going to do it for you. If you want to see thousands of your books selling, you are going to have to work at marketing your book and building your name.

If you really think about it, why do you know the names of Hollywood Stars, Singers, Book Authors, or any celebrity for that matter? It’s all about the marketing.

A Bit About Virginia S. Grenier

VS Grenier is the Founder & Owner of Stories for Children Publishing LLC. and Editor-in-Chief of Stories for Children Magazine, SFC Newsletter for Writers, and SFC blog Families Matter. She is also a children’s author and freelance editor for Halo Publishing; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services.

VS Grenier was voted one of the Top Ten Editors of 2007 and 2008 in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, won 2nd place for her article, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2007, and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2008.

VS Grenier learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI), the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), and Musing Our Children. Her works include Babysitting SugarPaw, the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology and over 30 short stories, articles, and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers.

“Having others read what you have written and giving feedback not only makes you a better writer, but you start to understand how a well written story’s voice captures the reader, drawing them into your world of ink,” states VS Grenier.

A California girl at heart, she currently lives in Utah with her husband, their three children, and the family’s big fat cat Speed Bump and miniature schnauzer Taz.


Now for a look at a great children's book about friendship and honesty, Babysitting Sugarpaw:

A little bear named SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As this loving story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship. Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time. This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.

“The prefect book for children who will have their first babysitter soon and also for someone who is going to be a babysitter for the first time.” ~MommyPR.com

You can get your very own copy of Babysitting Sugarpaw at:



Virginia, this book sounds delightful; it's on my to get list for my grandsons. Thank you for being my guest today!



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Magdalena Ball said...

That's quite a story, Virginia. I guess that's the first lesson when you have children - that there's only such much that you can control - the rest you have to work around (and if all else fails, plumb the experience for material). Hopefully the marketing effort will be more straightforward for your next book.

Martha said...

Your book sounds wonderful.
I've always said marketing is the hardest part of being an author.
Martha Swirzinski

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a challenging time you had during your book’s release. You’ve listed some great marketing ideas – thanks. Your book sounds like a good gift idea for soon-to-be babysitters.

Karen Cioffi said...

Maggie, Martha, and Jane, thanks for stopping by.

Marketing is definitely the most difficult part of writing. And, Maggie, your right, life sometimes has its own designs, especially when you have children, and grandchildren.

I'm babysitting my grandsons all day, but will try to stop in as often as possible.

Donna McDine said...

Karen...thanks for hosting Virginia today.

Virginia...terrific article in not giving up no matter the circumstances.

Best wishes to you both for your continued success,

Unknown said...

Virginia, congratulations on your book and your baby girl! Sounds like you've had a challenging time but, as you said, that doesn't mean it's over. Marketing is a never-ending challenge.

Karen, thanks for introducing us to Virginia!

Karen Cioffi said...

Donna and Darcia, thanks for dropping by. It's certainly my pleasure in featuring Virginia today.

J.Q. Rose said...

I like your attitude. You have had some tough times to get through, but it isn't getting you down. I admire your determination to keep promoting your book and increasing sales. I know the book has a wonderful message for kids and you want to get it into their hands. Congratulations on your new baby AND your book!

Paul and Karen said...

Virginia, that is a great story about not giving up. I'm so glad you and your daughter are well!

I'm interested in your thoughts about marketing ebooks before and after they're available for purchase.


Accountant, Author & Freelance Writer said...

Virginia - Thank you for the guest blog. It was interesting to learn more about you and your writing.

I'm glad to read there was a happy ending to your health struggle.

Mayra Calvani said...

I didn't know you had been so sick, Virginia. Glad that you're doing well now.

That seems like quite a campaign when your book first came out. It's never too late to re-start a promo blast, though, especially when the book has continuous appeal.

NannyPro said...

I recently tweeted and stumbled upon your post. Really your post is very informative and I enjoyed your opinions. Do you use twitter or stumbleupon? So I can follow you there. I am hoping you post again soon.

Stanley and Tyke Bookman said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm glad my story has helped to inspire you all to keep moving forward.

Magdalena-my children totally keep me on my toes. I've learned to work around them and to keep moving forward. My kids teach me a lot, too along the way.

Matha & Jane-yes marketing is the most challenging part of writing a book. A lot of authors have a hard time learning how to do it or just opening up in general. I think a lot of people write because they can hid behind their books. But that is not the case anymore. You have to get out and sell your books, talk to fans, and just let the world know you're out there.

Donna, Darcia, Janet, Paul&Karen-I don't plan to give up on my book. I have others I'm working on, but I will always promote Babysitting SugarPaw along with them as well.

Mayra-Yeah, I was pretty sick. I was lucky I had such a great team at SFC working hard to hold the fort down for me during it all. This was one of the reasons I decided to put the magazine on hiatus for a year or two. Needed to focus on me, my baby, my two other children, and my book. But I'll be up and running full speed again soon. :)

NannyPro-Thanks for your comments. As to eBooks, the marketing isn't really all that different. You will have to tweek in person events a bit, but it doesn't mean you can't so them. Focus on internet marketing and radio. Then look into speaking engagements where you can promote your eBook. Also, think about workshops that might tie in with lessons learned while writing your eBook. The possibilities are endless on what you can do with marketing.

Karen Cioffi said...

Thank you all for stopping by.

Mayra, it's true that promotion can be re-started over and over again.

NannyPro, I'm thinking you're asking this of Virginia, and I'm sure she'll be here a little later to respond.

If you are asking for me, I post 3x per week and can be followed at

Virginia S Grenier said...

I did pop in. I didn't realize until after my comment posted it was under my other sign in Stanley & Tyke, the SFC mascots. LOL. But I'm here now under my author sign in.

Unknown said...

Thanks , Karen for another great post.

You certainly had a difficult time in marketing your book, Virginia. That usually means you're going to do GREAT. You have the drive and determination that many authors do not. Keep the buzz going! WAY TO GO!

Virginia S Grenier said...

Thanks Kathy. I think many authors have the determination. What I think a lot of authors lack is the self confidence you need to be out in public promoting. I'm not going to lie and say I don't get scared. I do. I even turn bright red half the time when I'm in front of a crowd (big or small). It's just my college degree is in marketing so I understand you have to push past those feelings if you want to see something be successful. I also understand after years of being a fashion buyer that you're not only selling a book as the product . . . you are selling yourself as well.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Like most writers, I don't like marketing, but it must be done. Virginia's positive attitude in spite of all her roadblocks is an inspiration to us all. The book sounds good, too.

Virginia S Grenier said...

Those who are interested in purchasing my book, and I thank you for being interested, if you buy it from my website http://vsgrenier.com I will not only autograph it, but I will send extras like a bookmark, coloring pages, pencils, etc.

A few blurbs on what people have said about Babysitting SugarPaw:

"Children will love to read about hie mischievous antics of SugarPaw who doesn't want to be babysat." Donna Shepherd, author of Chizzy's Topsy Tale and the Topsy Tale series

"Babysitting SugarPaw is a very cute, funny, and sweet book. Kids will love it." James Dashner, author of the 13th Reality series and Maze Runner

"Ms. Grenier's sense of humor sparkles in this picture book and Kevin Scott Collier's illustrations add the perfect touch to a delightful story." Beverly Stowe McClure, author of Rebel in Blue Jeans

Dallas said...

Virginia, your determination and positivity are so inspiring! I am very happy that you are healthy and your baby is healthy after that terrible flu. I have no doubts that your book sales are going to skyrocket once you are able to re-boot your marketing! You are a dynamo!

Cheryl said...

Amazing story, Virginia. At first I wondered why your doctor didn't want you going places, but when you mentioned H1N1, I remembered.

What still surprises me, as someone who works in online book promotion, is the sheer number of authors who don't really market their books online. Some don't even have websites. What opporutnities are missed because of that.

Best of luck with revamping your strategy. I wish you all the success in the world.


Virginia S Grenier said...

Thanks Dallas for the support. It's nice reading all the encouraging comments. I really do love the story I wrote. Kevin and I both did a short story before we redid it into a picture book. Shows how much I loved the idea of SugarPaw not wanting a babysitter. :) He's a lot like me actually. I use to give my babysitters a really hard time.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I've known Virginia for a long time and admire her work AND all she does for writers. Great post!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Sometimes taking time off from writing to blog at www.warpeacetolerance.blogspot.com, just 'cause the cause is important to me! (-:

max said...

I didn't get pregnant - wow, that'd be a story - nor contract
H1N1, but I did experience a kind of publishing disaster. Late last year, my publisher of 7 books went bankrupt. Like you, Virginia, I didn't let that stop me either. I kept on working.

Now I have two publishers. One will be re-publishing my first 7 books, plus a new one, plus the option to publish 16 more. And a second publisher will release book # 1 of a new series this August.

So, the lesson is, never give up, no matter what happens...never!

Books For Boys Blog

Virginia S Grenier said...

Carolyn and Max, you are both just amazing yourselves. I've known you both via the internet for years and you both just know how to lift my spirits.

Max, I wish you much success with this new publisher. It must be hard having to establish a new relationship after having so many books published with another editor.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great encouragement, Virginia, for writers promoting their books. You're right about never giving up. Best of luck to you and Sugar Paw, a delightful story.

Karen Cioffi said...

Wow, Max, those lemons were certainly turned into lemonade.

Thank you all for stopping by. And, thank you Virginia for an inspiring guest post.

I'm heading over to your website to order Babysitting Sugarpaw.

NancyCL said...

Thanks so much for this. I appreciate it! :-)

Anonymous said...

H1N1-I think I squeaked by without getting it.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer
Children's picture Book Klutzy Kantor
Coming Soon Marta Gargantuan Wings

Unknown said...

I love that you are still marketing the book, despite being pregnant and having H1N1 at the same time. You're a strong woman.

And you are so right. If we don't market our books, no one ele will!

Karen Cioffi said...

Nancy, J., and Mari,

Thanks for dropping by. It wonderful how reading of other writers' experiences and determination can motivate us and help us on our own writing journey.

Virginia S Grenier said...

I just wanted to pop over before I put the kids to bed to thank Karen for having me as her guest blogger today and everyone for stopping by. Thank you for your comments, sharing your stories, your support, and inspiration.

Hugs to you all!

VS Grenier

Janie Franz said...

Virginia, you're an inspiration to us all!
Janie Franz

Anonymous said...

Karen, I enjoyed your blog post. It was nice learning more about Virginia, her book and the challenges she has gone through to promote her book.

Karen Cioffi said...

Thank you, Janie, and Susanne, for dropping by. It's appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late with the comment. Been a crazy busy week. I agree marketing is the hardest part. The writing is easy. I only have to get along with myself, which isn't always easy.

Stephen Tremp

Karen Cioffi said...

Stephen, thanks for stopping by. Late is much better than never! :)

Helena Harper said...

Karen, I apologise for being late with this comment. What an interesting, eye-opening interview! I can only marvel at what Virginia was doing in her marketing campaign and wonder how she found the time.

Virginia, I'm so glad you are now recovered from your flu and I wish you the best of success with your book. What gave you the idea for it, by the way?


Helena Harper said...

I also wanted to ask Virginia if she writes mainly picture books or other types of children's literature as well.


Karen Cioffi said...

Helena, thanks for dropping by. As with Stephen, better late than never! :)

As for as these questions for Virginia, I think you might want to drop by her blogsite and ask them. I'm not sure if she clicked on the follow-up comments option for this post. We'll see though. :)