Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talking about PR with the crew from Ralph’s Design & Deli (We’re not talking about meat here)

Back in July, as you read in last week’s post, I had the privilege of meeting some very interesting people. Among them were the two women responsible for creating Ralph’s Design and Deli. Andi Reis and Renee Groskreutz.
These talented ladies set up their table, and stayed throughout the conference, answering questions about their services and giving demos, (not to mention taking this lucky author on a scenic drive around town on our way to lunch.) For authors just starting out, or those wanting to concentrate on their writing and not on promotions, Ralph’s Design & Deli is the place to go.
I’m going to let Andi and Renee tell you all about their company and what they’re serving up at the Deli.

 Hi, Jeanne! Thanks for welcoming us here. Nice blog. Mind if we put our feet up?

Not at all, make yourselves at home. And while you’re at it, why don’t you tell our dear readers how you came up with the idea for Ralph’s.
Andi: We want the vintage, delicatessen style of old-fashioned customer service to come through in our communication and work ethic, as well as in our brand look and feel. The “Deli” is because we offer a smorgasbord of a la carte options, but also packages.
Renee: We love a good sandwich, good food in general, really, and it’s hard to forget a name that juxtaposes two mostly unrelated subjects. Like a bakery that also does guitar repair. We get asked occasionally what our best sandwich is, and so far we say “It’s called the Book Trailer Deluxe.’ We get a lot of strange looks.
On an average, how much time is spent creating websites?
Andi:  We own a sister company called FunCitySocialMedia that handles the website and blog builds, as well as the social media platforms. So for Ralph’s we don’t generally do websites but we do sometimes build blogs.
Renee: However, just to note, website builds generally range anywhere from 3 weeks to 12 weeks depending upon the complexity, time needed for the client to review between rounds and content. An author’s website is generally not as extensive as someone with a full product photo gallery so it generally takes about 3 weeks to build an author’s website.
What benefits would an author (or business owner) have using your services instead of putting in the time themselves?
Andi: We’re smart, funny, kind of cute, and we love dogs. We have a lot of marketing experience, Renee is a powerhouse of social media genius and is always willing to share it; I am a really good editor but I do it only for large, special projects because we are focusing on other parts of the business; We are still building our portfolio, but we are confident and growing. We are great at taking constructive criticism, we work tirelessly on behalf of those who put their trust in us, and in general…
Renee: Did she just say we’re kind of cute? Ok fine, that too. Using our services allows the writer to focus on their writing and developing and maintaining their personal brand, while we handle promotions, marketing and cohesion for all of their design elements that inevitably become part of a solid brand positioning. You are the story expert, we are the graphic design and digital marketing experts. We tell authors to keep writing and we will keep promoting on their behalf.
One of the services you offer is manuscript editing. On an average (because I know some manuscripts are longer than others) what is the turnaround, from start to finish?
Andi: In a nutshell, I will tell you that an editor takes all the time he or she is given. Most editors will tell you they will find SOMEthing to change every time they pick up a manuscript, even if it’s just a suggestion for flow or clarity. “Start to finish” really works in rounds of edits: if I’m given a deadline of one month for developmental and line editing, I will work a week at a time, turn edits back to the author for stets, corrections and questions; they have it for a week, then I get it back and start proofreading, making suggestions, etc. Ideally, I’m handed off a Word doc in the beginning and when we are almost at deadline so that I can track changes, and then get a galley proof to do a final edit for glaring typos (as I whisper quietly to myself that I hope for none). Galley proofs aren’t as typical in the age of eBooks, so whatever I can do to help get that final version looking good is important. Ebooks can be real stinkers with spacing.
I have a background in advertising and marketing, so I understand how unforgiving printer or promotion deadlines can be. If someone says I MUST HAVE THIS BACK IN FIVE DAYS, I will mark up everything I can possibly find in two days, send it back and on the fourth day check for corrections and glaring typos and be done. It’s what I call a Fire Drill Edit – it’s not ideal and can leave huge gaps – it’s a high-level proofread for the most part, but I also know that sometimes any edit is better than none. I’m also terrible at editing my own writing.
Another service you offer is the book trailer. How important is it to an author to have one and is the trend on the rise?
Andi: Video is king. It is better to have five one-minute videos than the other way around. Book trailers are part of an author’s whole marketing package and are good to have at every stage of the publishing process. YouTube is the second highest searched platform out there. You don’t need a 5-minute video – you want your book trailer to set a mood with a very short story.  The trend is to slap a long video together – but people have short attention spans for online content. Tell your story as quickly as possible with a music bed and relevant images, a voiceover if necessary, and a call to action. The more  you have online, the more credible and validated your work will appear. Marketing is about appearances after all. Don’t you want to be on TV, too? J One of our clients, Henry Bodden, does a lot of speaking engagements and decided to take a tv/player with him so that the video would run before, during and after his lecture on WW2.
You have your own book out there, 15 Twitter Tips for Authors & Other Grownups. Speaking of Twitter, why is this such an important tool for an author?

Renee: Twitter is the heart of social media. There is no tool out there better to push out and share links to your book, blog, video and other promotional materials than twitter. It is also far easier to grow a twitter platform quickly than any other platform. For example with twitter an author can send out a tweet with a hashtag such as #thriller or #ibook and people who are not following them but do have a search set up on those hashtags will see your tweet. Twitter forces you to keep the message short and to the point and they make it easy for you to find and connect with new people easily. If an author could only choose one social media platform to focus on, without a doubt I would recommend twitter.

Thank you both again for being guests on my blog, but before you go, do you have any parting pearls of wisdom to pass on to the readers?
Andi: Oh, gosh. So many things. We’ve started a blog so we can cover in depth how the right collateral, marketing and strategy can help authors. Plan marketing; set mini-goals; don’t be afraid to market to niches; brainstorm with other creative people; networking OFFLINE is still one of your best tools; your consistent and pervasive personal brand is as important as what you write when it comes to a broader potential audience; stay engaged in your social media; being interested makes you interesting; you won’t please everyone and that’s ok; don’t be afraid to shamelessly plug your book – if you don’t believe in it, why should we?
- Index your website like crazy. Indexing your website means that you make sure that all of the search engines that it exists. You do not want to wait the months and months or years for the spiders to find you. Go forth and tell them that you exist. Email Renee’ to get more details.
- Make sure that your cover design truly looks as professional as it deserves. You as an author spent countless hours writing the book so now it is up to the cover to make sure that people pick it up. People buy covers and fall in love with words.

Put your beautiful cover design everywhere.
                Twitter Background and profile image
                Facebook cover photo
                Google +
                Deviant Art
                As you can see the list is long.

- Blog…blog…blog. Next to video there is no better Social Media tool.
                Make sure that each blog post has an image and no, it can’t be your book cover every time. J
                Make sure that your image has meta tags.
                Name your image after your book. For example image name: 15TwitterTipsforAuthorsbyRalphsDesignandDeliimageaboutSEO.jpg
                This may seem long and crazy but it matters.

For more about Ralph’s Design and Deli, visit their website at,
To purchase their book, 15 Twitter Tips for Authors & Other Grownups, click on the link below.
Thanks again, Jeanne! You’ve been a great host.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi, Clover. We just posted a blog about SEO tips for images if you want to check those out, too. Have a good weekend.

  2. Jeannie, great post and interesting guests. Renee and Andi, thanks for the tips and advice. Good luck with your company.

    1. Really appreciate your comment, Jerrie! Send us an email if you ever want more 2c-worth of tips. :)

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  4. Excellent interview, great tips from great folks! I met both Andi and Rene at the LexiCon, as well and they really are feisty and fun! Look forward to working closer with them on a project or two. :o)

    1. WE ARE FEISTY! Thanks for noticing. :) That should go on our business cards or something. Wish we had more time to sit down with you and Mona at the conf, but I am looking forward to working with you anytime!
      Did you guys know there's a ZOMBIE CON in San Antonio in October? I thought of you immediately. Could be the blog :)

  5. Thanks, Jerrie! Much appreciated.

    Jeanne, LOL I forgot about the scenic U-turn there with Sandy on our way to dinner. It was great getting to spend time with you guys at Lexicon. And thanks for letting us ramble on for several scrolls down to the bottom here! :)

  6. I am currently working with these wonderful ladies in the marketing and promotion of my sophomore novel "Divergent Lives." I can't tell you how impressed I am with them! As an Indie author with a day job, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do justice by my baby both in writing, as well as marketing/promoting it. Andi is also the editor for this project. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you overlook the talent and dedication these ladies offer their clients. I love them!

    1. Minnie has rallied behind our success the entire time we've worked together. (Thank you so much, Minnie!!)
      Her book is coming out 12/12/12, by the way. Can't forget that date, can you.
      One of the hardest things I've had to do was cut into your baby, Minnie. I cannot WAIT for people to read this story. ~Andi

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  8. Sorry to come so late, Jeannie. Busy editing. Love this post. What great resources you two are. Super info. Will definitely be hanging on to this piece.