An Author Who Markets Her E-Books in Airports

CDG airport

Today’s guest post is by Ann Okerson. Ann shared the following story on a listserv I belong to, and I asked her permission to share it with you, because I find it fascinating and instructive for authors everywhere.

The other day I was sitting at Dulles airport, awaiting my flight to Hartford, Connecticut, reading a book on my Kindle Fire.

(It happened to be Robert Harris’s Imperium. Blurb: “The re-creation of a vanished biography written by his household slave and right-hand man, Tiro, Imperium follows Cicero’s extraordinary struggle to attain supreme power in Rome.” I’ve found the book riveting, though several negative reviews on Amazon point out that there is too much detail and too many unpronounceable names that are hard to remember—but I digress.)

As I was reading, an unprepossessing young woman approached and handed me a business card. She said, “This is the card of my sister, Stephanie Queen; she writes e-books—wasn’t able to get a start in print, so she’s doing her own writing and formatting and promotion.”

Though not quite as exciting as Imperium, this was a welcome diversion while passing 3.5 hours of connect time, so we talked some more. Apparently, the sister writes romantic fiction, makes it available for several e-book platforms, is getting good visibility through reviews (the online ones seem positive; I’ve just looked), networking with other romance writers whom she lists on her own Web site, and making up stacks of business cards for family and friends to hand out at places where people are bored, such as airports. And, there’s also a second card with a code that gets you a free copy of one of the books, but Sister had run out of those. She apologized, but noted the books are cheap and affordable, even if not free! She was quite a fan herself.

We’ve all heard and read (and here shared) stories about writers getting launched in e-world. This is a first-hand story about one such person and her marketing campaign. Pity the novelist wasn’t in the boarding area! In case anyone is interested in her self-presentation, the web site is

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Ann Okerson

Ann Okerson

In fall 2011, Ann Okerson joined the Center for Research Libraries as Senior Advisor on Electronic Strategies, working with that organization to reconfigure and redirect various existing programs into digital mode. Previous experience includes 15 years as Associate University Librarian for Collections & International Programs at Yale University. She is a leader in licensing electronic scholarly resources, having developed a model academic contract adapted widely by libraries and organizations.
Ann Okerson

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Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion.


  1. That is fantastic. Thanks for posting this story. In a way this takes promotion of such a huge industry back to grass roots and people: I like that.

  2. Inspiring post, Ann. I’m fascinated by guerrilla marketing techniques. I’ve written a book about romances gone wrong. My next scheduled wedding is next weekend. Checking my inventory of business cards.

  3. I’ve actually talked about my novel to strangers in airports. They are usually impressed and say stuff like, “I never met a real writer before.” Interesting strategy.

  4. That’s another way of promoting. The sister is lucky to have met Ann Okerson, because we are now directed to the website where to get and read about the book. It’s just a matter of hard work and creative thinking!

  5. This is such a fabulous idea. I’m a beginning picture book author and would that be good for families getting on a plane with kids. My own children would love it for long plane rides. Thanks for sharing.
    Robin Miller

  6. Had I thought, I could have provided a photo of the D Gates at Dulles airport.  It is not nearly so sexy as the photo Jane posted (which looks to me nothing like CDG international, the site of many truly uncomfortable hours, but that’s another matter).  D-30 at IAD feels like an add-on gate of more recent years, no climate control, brutal in warmer weather, kinda like  “the hardboiled wonderland at the end of the world” (H. Murakami).  So, a further word of advice:  besides enlisting friends and family, pick tedious, boring places where folks will be thrilled to talk, rather than rebuff – as we weary travelers often will.  Don’t run out of the freebie cards.  Sister was shrewd in looking for e-book readers in the crowd, but there are probably other “tells,” so be imaginative!

  7. I enjoyed this post about marketing the e-book in an airport. I was excited to read that another author is using business cards to promote her book as my first shipment of marketing business cards for my book arrived about a week ago!!

  8. Personally I’d be really angry if someone interrupted my reading to hand me a business card. I guess this could work with people who are naturally open to approaches like it, but others might find it off-putting.

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