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Untraceable - The Shelli Johannes-Wells Interview

Coming Nov 29th!

I have a special place in my heart for Shelli from Market My Words.  You see, she may not remember this but on October 27th 2009, she commented on one of my blog post.  I’m sure for her it wasn’t a big deal, but for me it was something quite different.  At the time I was still a fledgling blogger, still trying to find my way around the blogosphere, and her comment was my first from what I will call a main-stream blogger, a blogger with hundreds of followers.  It rocked my world to know that someone of her stature had not only read one of my posts, but she actually took the time to leave an encouraging comment.  Her simple remarks leant a sense of credibility to what I was trying to do and helped expand my horizons.  Since then I’ve continued to follow her progress and now it’s my turn to help her out.

We’ve both come a long way since that time.  Shelli’s first novel, Untraceable, a new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kick butt heroine, and of course - two hot boys, is due for release on November 29th (you can read my glowing review next week).  I’m honored to have her over for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat this morning to discuss a topic near and dear to many of our hearts, marketing to Agents and Editors.  But before we get to Shelli, how about some more general info about her book and Shelli herself?

Book Description:

16 year old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. 

When Grace's dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn. 

After a few run-ins with the town's police chief, her father's partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father's disappearance is not a mere coincidence. 

Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved.

Book Blurbs:
"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!" 
-Kimberly Derting, author of the The Body Finder series (Harper Teen) and The Pledge series (S&S)

Author Bio:

Shelli Johannes-Wells started out writing for her local school paper, winning a state Nutrition essay contest for “Be a Smart Cookie”, and singing in a local Jazz band. Somewhere along the way, she earned an MBA in Marketing and embarked on an 18-year marketing career in Corporate America working as a marketing and communications consultant.

In 2000, Shelli traded in her expensive suits, way-too high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She started her own marketing & communications business,, and continues creating materials for a variety of large profit and nonprofit clients, including Spanx, Goody Hair Products, Chick Filet, Delta, CARE, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Shelli’s dream is to publish children’s books and magically imprint the imaginations of kids. In addition to juggling nap schedules while attending client meetings, Shelli focuses on her writing. She is a frequent marketing speaker at SCBWI conferences across the U.S and runs a popular marketing blog, Market My Words ( where she provides marketing advice for authors in the hopes of helping them better market their words.

In her spare time (yeah right!) and if the kids allow (yeah right!), Shelli obsesses over movies, reads children’s books (over and over), wishes she could squeeze in Bikram Yoga sessions, and dreams of sleeping in on the weekends.

She currently lives in Atlanta with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess that someday will change the world.
DL:  Good morning Shelli.  How’s my coffee?  Is it to your liking?

Shelli: As long as you have flavored cream and caffeine – I’m good.

DL:  Are you comfortable?  Can I get you anything else?

Shelli: Yes, here’s a list of my demands when I do an interview. (List includes praises, compliments, laughing at jokes, a bus of any size would not hurt, and I love cupcakes.) 

DL: Great!  Let’s get to it, shall we?  I understand marketing is a specialty of yours.  You even have your own marketing web-site (bilan).

Shelli: Yes – after a life event – I decide to quit my high-paying job (I know crazy right?) and go out on my own. I was tired of being tossed around and traveling and wanted to get some control back on my life. I started doing copywriting and it grew from there.

DL:  A lot of unpublished writers might consider marketing something that comes after the book deal is signed, but that’s not necessarily the case is it?

Shelli: Okay so I see marketing different that the average marketer. I think marketing is about relationship building. So yes – start building relationships way before you get published. To me marketing is doing for others as you would have done to you. Know what I mean?

DL:  Absolutely!  What kind of tips can you offer my readers?

Shelli: * leans back and puts feet up * How long do you have? My main thing is it is never too soon to get started. Never! Start taking small steps now. It took me 2 years to build relationships with people online. And my goal was to help them not myself. If you go out there expecting people to help you – you are in the wrong place. We bloggers can see a fake a mile away J

DL:  * eyeing the feet now on his coffee table * Ummm...Just how important is a blog or web-site in the overall process?  

Shelli: It’s only important if you want it to be. You don’t have to blog. Only blog if you love it. If you blog once a month – it doesn’t matter. Just do what you want to do or it will show.

DL:  Are you ready for a refill yet?

Shelli: Uh yeah, like an hour ago. I'm still waiting on the cupcakes though.

DL: and the oven had a bit of a disagreement this morning, and, well, unfortunately it won.  How about a pop-tart?
* Awkward silence *

DL:  Let's press on then. My wife is a travel agent and with the proliferation of sites like Expedia and Priceline, people are drifting away from using a travel service.  But every day I see the added value she can bring to the travel experience that doesn’t cost the consumer anything extra, so I was wondering, with more and more authors undertaking their own marketing activities is there still value that a marketing and publicity service such as yours can bring to bear that they’d be missing out on?

Shelli: No. Just kidding. (Like I would say yes – duh!) I think it’s great people are doing their own marketing. They should. No one loves your book the way you do. You are the best advocate. But I think it helps to have someone help you make sure you are targeting the right audiences the right way. Someone to get you organized so you don’t spin in a circle doing everything and getting little return. People like me help you narrow in on your target audience and create materials that matter. But if everyone thinks they can do it alone – you can always call me to do web sites, blog designs, or book swag :)

DL:  ?

Shelli: That’s it? Did you not get my note about fireworks at the end of every interview. The band playing my song? Get my manager on the phone….

DL:  Why don't we cut to some important links?

Contact information:

I want to thank Shelli for stopping by this morning and sharing some of her knowledge with us.  November 29th is going to be a very important day for mark it on your calendar.  You won't be disappointed.  :)

And while you're here, why don't you sign up for the Deja Vu Blogfest, and then after you do that cast your vote for round 2 of WRiTE CLUB.


  1. Great interview. I love Shelli's advice to take small steps. We have to remember that it takes time to build a readership on your blog like she said. The small steps are what work.

    Can't wait for your debut Shelli. Loved UNTRACEABLE!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I've already seen this cover and blurb somewhere good marketing, Shelli! I loved the informal interview style. Next time, maybe DL will remember the importance of cupcakes from the local bakery. *grin*

  4. what a fun interview! i'd like some cupakes...i mean pop tarts, too!

    looking forward to reading UNTRACEABLE.

  5. Great interview Don, however, one must always remember cupcakes. They're a girl's best friend.

    Thanks for tips Shelli. Marketing is so hard, so baby steps are important. Much success to you with UNTRACEABLE.

  6. Great interview and beautiful cover :)

  7. I like her thoughts on marketing! It is about building relationships.

  8. Great interview, and the book sounds great! Thank you for the post! And I know what you mean - hell, you have over 700 followers and take the time to follow AND comment on MY little blog? I'm honored! Seriously!

    And regarding King - I have read On Writing and love it. Why did you "part ways?"

    And 11/22/63 is incredible, IMO.

  9. Thanks DL for mailing the expensive cupcakes in the mail. They were delicious :)

    Thanks for all the support and now I want to know what the deleted comment was :)

  10. Thank you, Shelli and DL. I appreciate the advice on marketing and look forward to the 29th!

  11. Haha! Shelli is a hoot. I can't wait to read Untraceable. What a great interview, DL!

  12. Great interview, funny people! I had the opportunity to read an ARC of UNTRACEABLE and it's fabulous! You must read it!!

  13. I forgot to mention I enjoyed the background story you shared, DL. That is amazing when the cool kids visit. ;)

  14. What a fun interview! The book sounds so unique. I love the premise.

  15. Great interview! The book is FABULOUS!!! Can't wait to see what you think of it :)

  16. Love Shelli to pieces. Her book is going to do AWESOME. Watch the best seller lists for it! And flavored creamer--she's a gal after my own heart. :)

  17. Great interview, and congrats to Shelli. Excellent advice to start small and begin building!

  18. Wonderful interview with the wonderful Shelli! I absolutely LOVED Untraceable!




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