Here are some recurrent questions about the book, the authors, and promotion in general. If you don't see an ansewr to your question, please contact us.

Why did you write the book as a chooseable adventure?

This book started as a simple online article, grew into a two-hour lecture, then drew a deep breath and absorbed so much material we broke word processors trying to sort it into sections. We discovered there was no way to talk about designing a meaningful, personal promotional strategy without a global understanding of both the market and what marketing can (and cannot) do. This meant to answer simple questions we had to either pick a certain type of author and boil the subject down into gruel, or we could do what we did: lay out paths for every kind of potential author.

To this end, we wrote the book as if it could be read straight through, but we also carved a variety of paths. This means an overwhelmed novice who probably shouldn't delve too deeply in the nitty gritty can get an overview without becoming overwhelmed, and in the same book a seasoned pro can skip things they learned a long time ago...or catch up on that concept they'd only ever pretended to understand. We also introduced play styles and archetypes which allow anyone at any level in an effort to better approach genre promotion through their unique lens.

As we dug into the material, the idea of publishing as a gigantic multiplayer game with real rewards resonated on so many levels. Both games and genre publishing balance fear, fun, and frustration. Both are systems with rules and boundaries and a mix of players and strategies complicating matters. And both are activities in which we participate by choice. So our book became a genre promo playbook you can actually play.

When you say this book is a chooseable adventure, do you mean one of those playable children's stories with forking paths and different outcomes?

Yep. Except the story is yours and the outcome is real. Most books on promoting genre fiction treat authors, careers, and even books as interchangeable widgets. That's simplistic, reductive, and inaccurate. At the same time, we knew that trying to cover every possible question and topic would generate an overwhelming pile of advice and anecdotes. Instead we created a nonfiction promo adventure that lets you choose your own way.

Your A Game features over 1400 separate hyperlinks through the book. intended to steer each reader where they'll get the most benefit for their current concerns. We've included:

  • Play Style paths: for the four ways people approach challenges (Performer, Achiever, Socializer, Explorer)
  • Experience paths: based on the range of professional experience (Novice, Intermediate, Expert, Cynic)
  • Adventure paths: routes intended to elicit curiosity and prompt professional experimentation.
  • Topical paths: narrow focus on topics of immediate interest to speciifc destinations.

We know it's impossible to answer every question, but we hope that this book at least points most genre authors in productive, entertaining directions. Structuring this material as chooseable adventure was us walking the walk: promo is a game where strategy and skill pays off with real prizes. We believe careers should be fun, and in treating promo like a game, we felt the book should be appropriately interactive and gamified in kind.

Why isn't this book structured like a traditional nonfiction marketing guide?

Originally we intended this to be a breezy, 150 page bit of cheerleading and helpful pointers. (Somewhere in California, our editor is laughing.) Our material quickly made it clear we'd be lucky to escape under 500 pages. We learned the reason so many books about fiction marketing end up either too general to be helpful or too specific to be broadly useful: it's impossible to answer the open-ended question, "How do I market my fiction?" in a manner non-specific enough to cover even half the authors in a genre without the reply coming in a volume that could double as a doorstop.

We considered breaking it into four books from the four sections and selling them individually. The problem was we knew the topic couldn't be addressed properly without all the information included. We also knew we had a meaty beast on our hands and people would digest it differently depending on who and where they were in their career. For some, consuming the book as a complete volume will be a delicious, carb-loaded treat...for others, especially the first time through, an endless nightmare. Instead our book IS a game... shaped by your personal style, strategy, and measure of success. Both of us come from a background in education, and we know the importance of meeting people where they are in their knowledge base and allowing them to move in the way and at the speed which will best allow them to grasp the concept they're wrestling with.

As we both come from a background in education, we couldn't stand to ignore authors of of any type, but also didn't want to bury our readers in info they'd personally find nonessential. The compromise was to lay out paths to help winnow the overwhelming material and strategic underpinnings into navigable adventures, something modern ebook formatting can fulfill. No rifling through pages, no dog-earing to remember a vital nugget, only the touch of a screen to keep the A game going.

Why did you write this book?

The short answer is that we wrote the book we wished we could have read when we got started and the book we wished lived on our shelf so we could open it and find everything we needed to know about marketing fiction whenever we required it.

Over the years we've received more and more questions from new and would-be authors about marketing, while at the same time we and our peers were just as frustrated our their promotional efforts. As we gained experience from real-time trial and error and as we studied marketing itself, we realized there was no collated clearinghouse for the kinds of information we and others needed. When there was a guide, it was either so generic as to be meaningless or so focused it was only for one kind of author with one kind of career.

Through conversations, arguments, and experience, we began classes and blog posts which became seminars which became Your A Game.

How did you two end up writing this book?

We found ourselves always answering the same questions from writers at all stages of their career. They came to us because they knew we were research wonks who tackled problems by investigating and indexing solutions. We loved helping because we've both experienced the generosity of experienced authors willing to give us a hand, and we wanted to offer that feeling to any author seeking direction, no matter where they are in their career.

Why do you feel you're qualified to write this book?

We believe wholeheartedly anyone who has ever worked in fiction could have written this book and probably eventually someone else would have. There isn't any information in here a million other people don't have, but there isn't anywhere else that has so much information collated in one place in a manner inviting people to make their unique way through the material. (Trust us. We've checked.)

What qualifies us is personal experience and the results we've experienced by putting these maxims into practice. We're not claiming to be gurus, just working stiffs who've built genre careers. We've each been writing and studying the market for over 25 years, and we've been actively selling for 15. This is a book straight from the front lines. When we started out we had to cobble together a game plan based on what we saw around us. Little by little we learned what strategies worked, what didn't, and what came with a sting in the tail.
What Your A Game does is synthesize the best thinking we could find on branding, platform, marketing, and promotion in business and entertainment to present it in a coherent package specifically addressing genre fiction authors.

Writing this book came a little easier to us because we both have backgrounds in education, in and out of the classroom and from levels of preschool to post-graduate. We each have a variety of academic letters after our names and have been serial consumers of the written word since we were old enough to turn pages. What may have helped us more than anything, however, was beginning our fiction careers at the time we did and with the types of books we wrote. Our journeys through the world of publishing have been strange by every definition imaginable, and more challenging than we could have ever comprehended. We experienced the tricks and traps firsthand, sometimes escaping catastrophe by the skin of our teeth, sometimes landing in the center of a mess and having to navigate a path back to sanity.

In short, we're qualified to write this book because even in a relatively short time, we've lived it, done it, smelt it, dealt it. And at the end of the day, we were the only fools crazy enough to try to write it all down.

What formats are available?

For maximum ease in playability, we're offering Your A Game in ebook only for its initial release. It will be available in all common ebook formats: mobi, epub, PDF.

Will there be a print edition?

As soon as we're able to deliver a quality, playable print edition at an affordable price, we'll offer a print edition as well. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be notified as soon as the paperback edition is available.

What if I'm an author who's just bad at promo?

Promoting your work is not a one-size-fits-all proprosition. You may have had limited success with one type of promo, but that doesn't mean that promo is impossible for you. Rather, you need to figure out what kinds of promo you'll enjoy. Authors are not bugs. We all have skills and flaws that distinguish us from the rest of our colleagues. If you've never had fun promoting your work, we encourage you to keep an open mind.

We wrote Your A Game as a chooseable adventure for exactly this reason: no two careers are identical. We've included a range of path options for different goals and experience levels so that you can find the answers you need. Promo may not always be enjoyable, but it shouldn't be a horrifying chore. Finding more readers for your work should sound like a good thing. Every genre author promotes their work although the effectiveness of those efforts varies wildly.

Will this book tell me how to write a bestselling novel?

We will absolutely help you break down what strengths you have and what you'll need to acquire to reach the target you have in mind. We'll also help you evaluate whether or not you're aiming in the right direction in the first place and show you how to unpack expectations and lead you out of the temptations of shortcuts. Which is to say, you might read this book and figure out how to make your work a bestseller. You might also read it and discover your measure of success can't be constrained by ladders or lists.

I haven't written a book yet, but I want to. Should I write my book before I read this?

You should, absolutely, read through the novice path and give yourself an overview of the marketplace you'll eventually launch your book into. You might also read through the book leisurely, by play style or from end to end, as you're drafting, especially in those moments when you aren't sure who in the world will read your book and how you will ever convince anyone to buy it. (Trust us. That moment is ahead of you.)

I've written several books, and my A game feels pretty strong. Why should I read your book?

First of all, congrats! As you well know, that's no mean accomplishment. We're pretty sure you're going to see a lot of your techniques for success laid out in Your A Game, because there's no secret sauce here, just common wisdom and tried-and-true truths collated into one volume. However, since you're here perusing our site, we're assuming you're interested in upping your A game. We posit to you, expert author, that not only do we have a path you can follow to polish your projects and produce better promo plans, but should you peruse the volume in its entirety, you'll find this collection of tools and truths something you'll refer back to as a resource, freeing up some space in your head for another story your readers will love.

Publishing has made me so cynical my muse is permanently hunched over in the rain, muttering curses and chain smoking instead of whispering ideas for new story. You honestly think you have something to offer me?

We saw you coming, cynical author, and we made an experience path just for you. We'll help you identify where you lost your mojo and how you can get it back or forge yourself a new purpose. While we can't promise your muse will be dancing the can-can in the Moulin Rogue by the time we're through with you, we are confident we can get her to put down that ashtray and either head to sunnier climes or at least grab an umbrella and work the scene into a stylish noir.

I write nonfiction (or in something other than genre fiction). Does anything in this book apply to me?

While Your A Game speaks directly to the concerns of genre fictioneers, all of its principles and professional advice apply to anyone working in publishing entertainment. Your mileage may vary, obviously. Many guides to nonfiction and general business promo exist, so we wrote our book for genre authors, but easily 80% of the information applies to anyone in the business of writing books, or producing and selling any type of content in the entertainment industry.

Why didn't you break this giant book up into smaller topical titles?

We considered it seriously but realized it would never work because of the complex interplay between all the components of an author's promotional strategy.

Promo involves several interconnected disciplines and skills which influence each other constantly. You cannot market effectively without a strong brand. You cannot launch a breakout project without a sense of your presence and the market you serve. Author brands are built on projects.Your A Game needed to cover all those topics as a professional ecosystem, because they ARE a professional ecosystem.

You both write romance and I don't. How can I be sure that this A-game stuff will apply to my genre?

The content covered in Your A Game isn't specific to a genre. Each pocket of genre fiction will have specific expectations and behaviors, but there aren't books waiting to be written on those differences, only a handful of pamphlets. In addition to our own research and experience in other genres, we know people in every part of the market who have wrestled the same problems and applied these techniques with measurable success.

Romance remains a unique force in publishing, but all genres grapple with the same issues: how to sell a story to a crowd with specific, passionate interests, how to meet and exceed expectations, to honor form without descending into formula. The tropes and tricks of writing popular fiction vary between genres, but not the task of reaching your readers who will buy your book.

What did you do before you wrote genre fiction?

Heidi taught writing in formal classrooms and in nontraditional settings for 15 years and Damon wrote film, theatre, and comics for over 25 years. We both also have post-graduate degrees and the kind of crazy-quilt employment/experience resumes common in people who end up writing genre fiction.

Do you ever teach A-game classes?

Absolutely! We've already taught classes on this material across the country in formats from informal roundtables to weekend-long workshops. Our classes are applicable for a variety of genres and have even been successful with some corporate clients. You can find more information on the LEARN page, where we have information about our offerings and a schedule of upcoming appearances.

What kind of setup do your classes require?

The setup and logistics really depends on the context. We've taught workshops in conference centers for hundreds and private promo coaching for publishers looking to boost their authors. The only essential element is time and attention. Generally we do use Powerpoint, because visuals can be so helpful with abstractions, but we can also throw down low-tech without trouble.

99% of the time we offer a meaty handout to spare note-taking and so that students can mull the content and kick ideas around afterward.

Our main goal for any class is that attendees leave with concrete options and a better sense of the tasks ahead.

How can my group book a workshop with y'all?

That depends on our schedule and availability. First, contact us directly and let us know what you have in mind and when. If we can find a time that works, we'll work with you to come up with a program that meets the needs of your members. Depending on the travel distance and timing, transport and accommodations will factor as well.

Also, we live at no small distance from each other. Unless you're planning something around a con we'll be attending, you might also consider having one of us come and present.

Where are you both located?

Heidi grew up in Iowa, which she loves and never plans to leave. She now lives in Ames. Damon grew up in Texas which he does not love, moved to NYC when he was 16 and (aside from a few years in London) has lived there ever since.

When are you going to be somewhere near me?

You can find more information on the DISCOVER page which offers news and updates aboutour adventures or on the LEARN page, where we have information about our offerings and a schedule of upcoming appearances.

Why do you want to pigeonhole authors with these goofy play styles?

We don't! If anything the play styles were our solution to the problem of different authors needing different kinds of information. No two people share identical career paths or notions of success. Genre fiction promo requires creativity and flexibility and so we wanted our book to do likewise. We included the play styles to help folks focus on what mattered most to them at this moment. In six months, your goals may have evolved, but focusing on what's important is never a bad idea.

What if none of the play styles fit me perfectly?

We're glad to hear it! None of us are clones or insects. Your complexity is what makes your writing special, and people rarely fit into tidy categories. The purpose of the play styles is not to dictate your behavior, but to help you identify the goals that excite you at the moment. Think of your play style as a lens, not a box; it's only there to help you look at your career efforts.

Should I worry if my writer buddies and I use different play styles?

Not unless you feel compelled to work in lockstep with them. Embrace the unique spark that makes your writing stand out and let them do the same. Most people tend to look for complimentary relationships...people whose play styles supplement their weaknesses and vice versa. That's true of any group you encounter (and every ensemble story too, natch.) The key to a great A-gang is finding a balance of goals and strengths so you can all rise together.

What if I decide to change play styles partway through the book or a promo campaign?

Go for it! Again, your play style simply identifies what you seek out in your career. Deciding you want something different means you've evolved. On the flip side, if you find you're jumping around, then the play styles aren't helping you focus, so their benefit will be minimal. As always, we want you to use what works for your A-game.

I feel like I might be a certain play style, but I want to read through the whole book first before I commit. Is that okay?

No sweat! Just bear in mind this beast makes for some tough chewing and might feel dense once you've ingested a healthy portion in one sitting. Don't hesitate to take a break and let things break down a bit before diving in for another round.

Okay, just between us...which is the best play style?

Anyone who tells you they know the one true way for you to pursue your career is likely a shyster or a con artist. Each of us has operated with all of these play styles at different points in our lives, varying by year and sometimes minute to minute. The truth is, the best play style for you is the one that will let you go after the rewards you value in a way you enjoy.

How can I receive a review copy of this book?
Please send us a request through our contact page and we'll be happy to get back to you with a digital copy.
Can you explain more about these play styles and archetypes?

These player descriptions derive from the work of game theorist Richard Bartle and partly from our combined knowledge of myriad archetypal structures. The core idea of the book was that no two authors, books, or careers were the same. How could a book give the same advice without some kind of meaningful context?

In practice, the A-game play styles and archetypes are our best effort to illustrate how fiction authors approach learning about marketing and how they practice promotion in real time. Thefour play styles (performer, achiever, socializer, explorer) are used to navigate the text and get readers thinking about promo through their experience, not some marketing maven on a mountaintop.

The eight archetypes also drew from Bartle's study of what people enjoy and pursue in multiplayer games. Several years after his original play style paper, he expanded on original four player types by considering the way that players approach challenges and opportunities: impulsively or intentionally. We've used his expanded pantheon as a culturally neutral model that speaks directly to the ways people intercat and have fun.

Our archetypes simply offer suggestions for ways authors might present themselves to the public as they sell their work and point out possible pitfalls tailored to those eight specific ways of thinking. Not everyone will find the play styles and the archetypes fit them exactly, but we hope asking people to think about promotion from their particular viewpoint shakes up the pervading notion of finding and following "the way" and instead seeking each our own paths.

How did you come up with this archetype and play style stuff?

We both have a lifelong love of studying archetypal systems, but we owe the greatest influence on our A game play styles and archetypes to Richard Bartle. You can learn more about his game theory player types on the web and in:

What’s the difference between an archetype and a play style?

Both are abstract ways of categorizing patterns of behavior for the purposes of analysis and strategy.

For our purposes, playstyle is determined by your personal goal as a genre professional, and archetype is determined by what you enjoy about being an author in a public setting.

  • A play style is your game piece on the board, your lens through which you view and comprehend marketing and promotion.
  • An archetype is your game face, the public role you take on while actively promoting your work and your brand, the persona you adopt. It might be an extension of your play style, but it might be something entirely different.
How many people should I have in my A-gang?

As many as you need. When you’re first starting out, you might have only two or three, but as you progress through your career, you'll discover the people you can trust in any circumstance to support your A game. Over time, your network is likely to become quite vast, but your A-gang will be the close-knit, die-hard support network that keep you sane and safe. Rather than asking if you have enough people, we suggest you ask if you’re A-gang feels complete. If not, use the questions above to identify who you’re missing and seek them out.

What if my play style and archetype don’t match up?

No worries. Remember, play style represents your current approach to promotion and marketing as a task, and archetype is the role you take on when you enter the arena. Play style is internal, whereas archetype describes your external impact, how others see you.

I feel like I might be a certain play style, but I want to read through the whole book first before I commit. Is that okay?

No sweat! Just bear in mind this beast makes for some tough chewing and might feel dense once you've ingested a healthy portion in one sitting. Don't hesitate to take a break and let things break down a bit before diving in for another round.

Can I change archetypes?

There are no hard and fast rules about how your career evolves, but generally coherence and consistency have way more impact than brand-new-cherry-flavor trendhopping.

  • If you’re asking if you can be someone you’re not (try to be a Gambler even though you know it’s not who you are), then no.
  • If you’re asking, though, if you might naturally drift from one archetype to another as you and your career evolve, then the answer is absolutely.

What are your archetypes?

  • Damon is a full-on, died-in-the-wool Networker. Because he's extroverted and rowdy, he’s often mistaken for a Rebel, and he definitely borrows some nuance from that archetype when need be, but his heart and soul align when he’s making connections and working a room.
  • Heidi is a Pioneer. She’s worked a Politician archetype in the past, and she still pulls out that persona at times, but she’s learned she’s so much happier when she’s off exploring. Part of the reason she borrows the Politician persona is because if she had her druthers, she’d never leave the house.

This line of inquiry was one of the most illuminating discoveries of our writing process, because of what it revealed about our careers.

So you’re in each others’ A-gangs?

Absolutely. Heidi relies on Damon for connections, and Damon taps into Heidi’s love of studying the market and assessing events and organizations. At an event together, Heidi is the one surveying the room, and Damon is the one weaving through and shaking hands. We have some overlap in our individual A-gangs, but they aren’t exactly the same.

No one A-gang should be entirely closed off. Overlapping networks improve everyone's professional efforts.

What type of authors would benefit most from this book?

Anyone who believes their career in genre fiction shoudl be fun and rewarding. We specifically created paths through the material for different types of author... we wanted the book to act as a resource that evolves alongside a career.

While any author at any stage can find wisdom and direction in Your A Game, what is required of all readers is a willingness to believe there is a unique promotional path for them and not one solitary gilded road to Oz.

How long did it take you to write Your A Game?

Two years and two lifetimes.

We began actively composing Your A Game in 2014, but we've argued theory and philosophy and practical tactics for navigating the industry since the day we met five years ago. We also put in plenty of time individually, Heidi burrowing into the underbelly of the publishing beast since 1997 and Damon navigating the worlds of theater and film before embracing a career in fiction in 2010.

Do you offer any workshops?

We are available for a limited number of workshops, sometimes together, sometimes individually. Because we both primarily write fiction, not teach others how to market their own, our speaking availability depends on location, time of year, and whether or not you'd like us as a set or as separates. We teach the global concept of finding your A game, how to discover your play style, and individual topics on marketing from the book. A full breakdown of workshops is available here.

How comfortable are you with media appearances?

Extremely. Both of us have significant media training and have appeared live and prerecorded on television, radio, and web formats.

Do you intend to write another promotional/writing guide?

Possibly, but not for a long while. We're going back to writing fiction for a while, which is where we'll get the best ideas and best solutions for any future genre promotion books we might write.

What genre fiction do you both write?

Both of us write romance, primarily contemporary but we cover the subgenres of historical, paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, erotic, and romantic suspense..

More info

Promoting genre fiction grows more competitive every day, yet no two authors or careers are alike.

Our solution: a chooseable adventure so you can pick the path toward the career you've always wanted. We offer a promo game plan tailored to your personal style, strategy, and measure of success.

Your A Game explains the tools and rules of kickass genre marketing to let you make your best next move. We break down the tricks and traps facing all novelists so you can:

  • build your personal brand into a professional force.
  • polish your public presence, online and in person.
  • reach your ideal market and access your fans.
  • raise each project to the next level.

Your career should be fun. Start playing Your A Game now.

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If you're interested in our book on genre promo, you can check out samples and more info at all major book stores online by clicking here


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