Saturday, December 19, 2009

Interview with Book Marketing Expert PENNY C. SANSEVIERI

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the "road map to publishing success." AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with message boards, blogs, ezines, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book's topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to:

Penny successfully authored her first book, The Cliffhanger, which was released in 2000. After a strategic marketing campaign it soared up the ranks at and held the #1 spot for three months*. *best selling book within San Diego.

Our interview: 

-- Penny, what led you into the marketing and promotional business?

Well I started out in publicity and marketing but in corporate America – then I was laid off and then the company that I went to was shut down, so twice in once year I was out of work. I took it as a sign and started AME, then it was called Author Services – I eventually changed the name, incorporated and 10+ years later, here I am…

-- The Cliffhanger, your first novel held #1 spot on Amazon for three months. What an accomplishment. Have you expanded on the strategy you used back then for books you'll have published today? Or does the same efforts work today?

Actually the key to that success was creativity. The strategy was really a postcard mailing that hooked into a current story (the Presidential race of 2000), but the key was being creative.

-- Can you tell us about Candlewood Lake?

I’d love to… Candlewood Lake was born out a story my mother told me after my father passed away. They met at Candlewood Lake in Connecticut – after he died I wrote this book as a sort of tribute to how life was “back when” --- there is nothing in this story about them, that’s not what this was for, but more to highlight this tiny part of the world where people lived and loved. The story actually follows three kids who grow up and how the lake shapes their lives, the choices they make (not all of the good) – and the tragedies that befall them during their lifetime. I’ve had readers tell me it’s a page turner, I hope so!

-- You're wearing a lot of hats: CEO, author, book marketing expert, and media relations expert; which one is your favourite? And why?

Actually I would have to say book marketing expert – I get to brainstorm new campaigns with authors and our marketing team. The brainstorming and creative piece is always my first love – and yes, I love writing but it all starts with an idea….

-- How did Author Marketing Experts, Inc., come about?

AME is a long held dream of mine that I fell into quite accidentally. I was interviewed once for a magazine piece on being an entrepreneur and I said that I was never an intentional entrepreneur, meaning that I never woke up one day and said “I want to be self-employed” – candidly I was terrified of the idea but when given no other choice I decided to take the leap. So I started gradually, first doing consulting, then partial campaigns, then full programs. Now we have staff and books on the bestseller list – it’s hard to believe!

-- You had a dream and that gave birth to AME. Have your hopes and your expectations come true? Are you content with how far you've come, or are you aiming even higher?

Yes and yes – I am always striving for more but I have to tell you, if someone had said to me 10 years ago when I was down, depressed and without a job twice in the same year that I would be doing this for a living, I never would have believed them. This company has exceeded anything I thought I would accomplish with it. Do I still aim higher? Yes I do. Why? Because as an entrepreneur we must keep striving, when we decide to settle, we become accustomed to what is and we stop striving and stop achieving. That’s half the fun of being self-employed, the achievement and drive for more is what makes us unique!

-- Penny, most days I feel under pressure and consequently am looking for ways to lesson my work load. You're adding to yours, and producing your newsletter every month. How do you do it?

I know, it’s insane isn’t it? Just when I think I can’t add more, I do. The problem is that when you do what you love, it never feels like work. One of my favorite quotes is: “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”

-- Can readers expect another fiction novel by Penny Sansevieri any time soon? And if so, how do you find time to write?

Yes, and I’ve been writing it for over a year now. Want a hint on what it’s about? Well, it’s about being in publishing and it’s a *lot* of fun to write! When do I find time? I always tease my friends and say “I write during my downtime, between the hours of midnight and 3am…”

-- With all the assistance you provide writers in today's tight marketplace, why do you suppose some writers still fail to get published?

I think we just have a tough time sticking with something. I mean let’s face it, finishing a book takes effort, focus, and commitment and there’s no guarantee it’ll get published and/or even read so it’s a challenge really. I mean (and especially these days) we have to juggle a lot, job, family, other personal and professional commitments and often I find that authors don’t have the time to get to know their marketplace or go to a writer’s conference to network. I think one of the biggest reasons that authors don’t get published is persistence and asking the right questions.

-- Thanks so much for sharing your time, Penny. In closing, can you share what the future may hold for Penny Sanevieri? And AME?

Well, we continue to strive to be the best in our marketplace. Seven+ years ago I saw the writing on the wall as it related to traditional book marketing and publicity so I began to invest a lot of the company’s equity into the expansion of our Internet department. A lot of folks thought I was crazy to do that. Now, here we are, years later and the Internet is the new “black” – it’s the hottest (and best) way to market a book. I hope to always be able to stay ahead of the curve….

Thank you, Penny. It's been a pleasure.


  1. Very inspiring for people like me who never think they will make that breakthrough, thanks Joylene.

  2. Good morning, Carole. Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm having a great week. Being surrounded by so many inspiring and accomplished guests, like Penny and the others is having a great effect. I'm working on my WIP again!

  3. Very interesting interview and definitely a company to consider if I ever get there... 'Cause you know how I feel about marketing. Scary. Very Scary! Don't know why it should be that way when you'd think we'd all feel more like: Hey! Look here! I have something kewl you should know about! So here's my book! Buy it! Read it! Love it! Spread the news!

  4. That's what it boils down to, Vicki. You write the book because you're inspired to. You finish because you believe in it. Why wouldn't you approach your readers with that attitude? Everybody wants a good book to read.

    When you find a publisher for your book, all this knowledge will be waiting for you. Plus, I'll be there helping in any way I can.

  5. Great blog post, Joylene and thanks for inviting Penny. It's left me with lots to think about.


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  7. Hello Linda. Thank you for stopping by. Your comment is very appreciated. I meant to tell you before that the opening line to your historical novel "Torc of Moonlight" was outstanding. In fact, the entire chapter is an exciting read. Best of luck with it and future works. Merry Christmas.

  8. Penny really epitomizes persistence! Believing we can achieve our goals and sticking with the task are what every successful person seems to tell us are the only ways to make it. "Stop striving and stop achieving"... ain't it the truth?!

  9. Hi Carol. Thanks for the comment. And I agree. I guess that's why there's hope for us all. I've yet to meet a writer who hates writing. Striving means loving what you're doing. It's the kind of message I never get tired of hearing.

  10. What you're saying is even if you do everything right, it still takes time to build an audience. Does that mean that word of mouth is still your #1 best bet?

  11. I've been putting off having a blog because my first career demands all my time. It doesn't help that I hear so many horror stories. I noticed there are numerous ranking sites, badges that list what standing blogs have. Joylene's got one here from Wikios. Do these rankings really help?

  12. How do keywords help? Do you mean the tags? I checked out Wikios and I'm so far off the chart I'm in cyberspace literally. How do they work?

  13. Joy, just read this interview---great, Thanks for inviting Penny. What insight she has---and experience we can all take with us. Another tool for our toolbox!

  14. Robin, Sam, & CM, thanks for your questions. I'm sure Penny will be able to answer them tomorrow if you could return then? Thanks.

    Katt, thanks! Glad you enjoy Penny's interview. Merry Christmas and happy blogging.

  15. A very interesting interview. So do you also help authors market? I applaud you for getting out in such a tough market and persevering to become this wonderful success!

  16. WOW what an amazing response to this interview! I'm really honored to be here and visit with all of you. It's early Sun AM (yawn) but I'll be getting to your questions soon... Thank you again, this is really wonderful... I am always amazed and grateful for these opportunities!

  17. Hello Miss Mae. Penny will be back to answer your question, meanwhile I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by.

  18. I'll check back later for Penny's responses, but in the meantime wanted to thank Joylene for having Penny here. This really hits home for me as I'm self-employed and the economy is struggling, my writing takes a backseat to finding other income sources. Penny reminds me that writing is my "me time". It's not work, but something I do for myself. And...who knows where I could be in 10 years??? Thanks!!!

  19. Joylene - I think you've tapped into my brain or have my house bugged.

    My wife Deb wants me to "kick it up a notch" w/ the 2nd book - in the marketing department that is. I'm stressed, on the road often, & swamped (usually) so I spoke with someone about doing the bulk of the marketing & website work for me & asked them to give me an idea on their approach & estimated budget.

    Received info the other day from this marketing guru but can't say that I undersstand any more about their approach or what they charge than I did when we were 1st in touch. So open ended & it sounded like I'd be carrying the load anyway. Frustrating - not knowing what you don't know.

    Not, BTW, suggesting Penny falls into any negative category. My question: Why does it seem (to me anyway) that marketing folks are gung ho on non fiction or adult fiction, but less enthusiastic about YA fiction??? I like writing for kids!!!

    Thanks Joylene. I'm catching up slowly but surely - home for at least 2 weeks - yay! Even picked some of our oranges today.

  20. Thanks for stopping by, Jessi. I can so relate. It was a long long time before I thought of writing without feeling guilty. If I was writing, that meant I was neglecting something. And if I wasn't writing, that meant I was neglecting that part of me that needed nurturing. It's a balancing act that requires constantly renegotiating. LOL

  21. Hi Dave. It's great to have you back.

    The thought of doing this series on entrepreneur and marketing experts came to me because I knew many of us needed to know how best to formulate our own individual plans on marketing our work. I love that these people agreed so willingly to share their knowledge. It's impossible to give us all the answers in such short context, but at least now I'm left with the feeling that I can do this: I can see my dreams come true.

    Oh, I should probably mention that my dream is to one day be interviewed by Charlie Rose. I just hope I don't sit there drooling the whole time.

    My 2nd and 3rd dreams are to be interviewed by Oprah and Larry King, doesn't matter in which order.

    (smiling widely just thinking about it)

  22. Hey Sam, these rankings do help! Also, a blog is a great way to add new content to your site on a regular basis, the search engines love this btw!

  23. Hey Miss Mae! Yes, we do work with authors - that's our business and I love it! Contact us anytime: - you can also follow me on twitter:

  24. Yes, keywords do help! But it's more than just a "word" it's a keyword string, so a string of words your reader might search on... does that make sense?

  25. I tried the keyword thingy, but still haven't quite got it down. IE lots of people look up how to write a novel. What I don't get is how do I make sure my blog comes up when they do a search?

  26. Hi Nathan. I'll pass along your question. Thanks for stopping by.

  27. Hey Nathan, here's a quick tip to familiarize yourself with keywords in your market --- take a look at your competitors and see what they're doing on their websites. If you're on a site you can easily right click and get the back end data of keywords. If their site is ranked high these might be good keywords for your genre. Yes, you can do keyword searches too and you should, the above is just a suggested starting place to get you familiar with keywords in your market.

  28. That helps. Thanks Penny. My biggest fear is I'll leave comments, but once my blog is up they may not stop by and reciprocate. I guess that's a chance I have to take.


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