Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Substance Books

Today I am interviewing Hajni Blasko, Online Book Publicist, Search Engine Marketing Specialist and the creator of Substance Books.

CDB: How did you come up with the idea of Substance Books? HB: I've had book fetish all my life. While working in corporate marketing in the late nineties I began to monitor traffic flow on the internet and I realized that it could be directed in certain ways. When I left the corporate sphere, I knew I wanted to work in publishing and Substance Books came about as a way to tie together my love of books, my strong belief in networking and my knowledge of computers. The idea of an online search engine marketing network grew organically from these three components.

CDB: I know you just celebrated your tenth anniversary in the business; did you ever imagine such a milestone? HB: I always had high expectations for the company's success. However, I never would have foreseen that search engines and social networking would eventually have the overwhelming influence on web traffic that they possess today. Nor would I have guessed that after ten years Substance Books would be the only book marketing network focused on search engine optimization. So far as I know, no one else has explored these avenues.

CDB: Looking back through the last decade, what insights do you have about authors and entrepreneurs in the publishing industry?
HB: Often when I ask successful female entrepreneurs about their achievements, they say something like, “I was just lucky,” or “It's because I work with a great team,” or in the worst case, “I was just lucky to work with a great team.” Men don't say this. It's important for women, just as much as men, to recognize their own hard work, drive, skill and talent which go into their successes. I think it's very important for all authors to recognize the amount of effort they put into their books, especially in an industry where success is so difficult to quantify. It's essential for authors, as entrepreneurs, to have complete confidence in themselves and their work if they are to effectively promote their titles.

CDB: Hajni, could you elaborate on the term “Online Book Publicity”? HB: Online book publicity is an umbrella term for various forms of book publicity that take place over the Internet, including social networking, search engine pay-per-click advertising, organic search engine optimization and branded web promotion. I do a little bit of all these things, but what I am mostly about these days is marketing through organic search engine optimization to increase online exposure. I believe it's the most cost-productive publicity technique when it comes to generating book sales.

CDB: When you say “Search Engine Optimization”, what do you mean? What should authors optimize their online presence for? HB: Online content, whether websites, facebook pages, twitter feeds or any other platform, should be optimized to the audience first and search engines second. The main objective is not just to be number one on Google's results page, but to make the site visible to people who are looking for titles like yours. Readers are most likely to consider genre when searching for books. When a book appears at the top of search results for its title or the author's name, it's dependent on people already being familiar with the book or author, which doesn't promote the book to a new audience. We aim to expose titles to people who have never heard of them before but are interested in buying that particular sort of book, thus increasing the book's visibility a new potential readership.

CDB: Who are your ideal clients? HB: The best characteristic in our clients is motivation. Ideally they make the effort to produce the best possible publications and then actively follow them up with consistent efforts to promote their books. I take great satisfaction in representing clients who are enthusiastic about collaboration with other authors and industry professionals. Communication with audience and others in the industry is key; this means more than just posting cute cat photos on facebook. Our authors can write in any genre and come from anywhere in the world; what matters is that they have strong titles with high marketability.

CDB: What can authors expect from Substance Books? HB: We provide authors with international exposure to potential book buyers. Authors can expect the support of a publicity team who will guarantee their titles' exposure on the global online book market. We also supply our authors with helpful advice and information on the latest developments in web and book publicity. Representation with Substance Books gives writers the opportunity to network with hundreds of other authors and take part in free organized marketing projects, such as our review exchange initiative and free gadgetized facebook pages.

CDB: Where can my fellow bloggers and authors find you? HB: Naturally, we have a number of online locations:
Our website:
Our facebook page:
My own facebook page:
My email:

And if ever in doubt, you can enter “online book publicity” into any search engine. We'll show up among the top five players.

CDB: Hajni it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for answering my questions. Congratulations on your tenth anniversary and much continued success. HB: Thank you Claudia.


  1. Great post, Claudia. I do have one quibble (I realize it didn't come from you, but your interviewee):

    "Often when I ask successful female entrepreneurs about their achievements, they say something like, “I was just lucky,” or “It's because I work with a great team,” or in the worst case, “I was just lucky to work with a great team.” Men don't say this.

    Blanket generalizations such as 'men don't say this' are unhelpful and simply untrue.

  2. Wow! This is the first company I've come across in writerly blogland out to help with publicity!! Thanks for the info and I just know authors - esp those embarking on the self published route find this most useful!! Yay!

    Thanks Claudia, thanks Hajni! Take care

  3. Interesting & informative.
    Hello from the opposite end of the globe - nice to meet you! *waves*

  4. This is a fantastic, informative interview. Thanks, Claudia, for posting this! I also thought the finding that women don't give themselves enough credit very interesting-- this seems to be true for a wide variety of women, not just entrepreneurs. I know I need to be more mindful of owning my achievements and allow myself to be proud of me! Thanks, Hajni, for the reminder.

  5. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for dropping by. Glad you liked my post despite your one quibble ;) I cannot answer for Hajni (my interviewee) so I'll leave it just at that ;)

    Hi Jennifer,
    Helpful being the key word here ;) A lot of self-published authors out there that need to market their books and don't know how to do it. That's why I interviewed Hajni.

    Hi Mish!
    Waving back at ya! ;)
    Thank you for joining my blog. I'll hope over yours to say hello.

    Hi Raquel,
    So happy you thought of it as a reminder. Unfortunately, "some" women don't give much credit to their own work (for different reasons or circumstances). We can only hope for this to change.

  6. This is a whole new world to me. Interesting, but daunting

  7. Hi there, Mike!
    But you always learn something new, right? ;)

  8. Very interesting interview. Thanks, Claudia and Hajni!

  9. What a great interview! Love Hajni's take on online book publicity.

  10. Very interesting information. I'll go visit the website. I totally agree with what Ms Blasko said in answer to your third question; it's important to be aware of one's own credit in the success they have achieved. Men often tend to be overly confident, attributing all their success to just themselves. Women, on the other hand, tend to split it among a thousand people, often crediting chance as a crucial factor.

    You might be interested in a very beautiful project the Italian bookstore chain "La Feltrinelli" has set up: if you are an author and can print copies of your book, you can have it shelved and sold in "La Feltrinelli" bookstores. The books, of course, have to be written in Italian, but this is an idea I have never heard of here in North America.

  11. Great interview! Really useful information. :D I'm on my way to check out their website. Thanks, Claudia.

  12. Hi Dawn:
    Thanks for dropping by. Happy to hear you found the interview interesting.

    Hi Alleged Author:
    Nice to see you around here again! ;)

    Hi Jay:
    I really appreciate the info you shared with us regarding "La Feltrinelli". First, I have to publish my book in English and then I'll have it translated into Italian. Hey, you could probably translate it for me ;)

    Hi Sharon,
    Hope you like Hajni's website, Substance Books. She has a lot of authors signed up.

  13. Great interview....I love your book covers in the header....great choices.



  14. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank you for joining my blog. Welcome!
    I'll hop over yours and check it out.

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