Woman of Substance – an interview with Hajni Blasko (31 August 2006)

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Introduction

As you will see, when I wanted to venture into an online business, one of the first person’s website I analysed was Hajni’s. It has taken me a long time to have the courage to ask her if she would agree to be interviewed and I’m glad I persevered.  Without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you Hajni Blasko …


Aneeta: Hajni, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I have a confession to make. You see, when I first started to write full-time as well as set up my Internet business, one of the first websites I researched was yours. I found it so comprehensive, and it is to your website that I turned to learn how to market a book.

Hajni and her team – Stephanie Thurston (extreme left) and Sandra Rychel (extreme right)

Hajni: Thank you Aneeta. I have to admit that over the past 5 years my staff and I have learned as we’ve gone along, just as you have. One thing for sure, however, is that we have always shared information freely and instantly, without any boundaries.

Hajni and her team – Stephanie Thurston (extreme left) and Sandra Rychel (extreme right)

Aneeta: Hajni, you have a very interesting name. Where does it come from and what does it mean?

Hajni: I was born in Budapest, Hungary. The full version of my name, Hajnalka, in my native language means Morning Glory, the flower.

Aneeta: Let’s start with something about you. Please tell me a little about your family, where you live and a little about your background.

Hajni: For the past twenty years I have been living in Montreal, Canada, where I am a lucky mum to a fourteen year-old boy, Andre, a happy partner to my husband, David, and a very reliable source of entertainment to our Beagle, Rumpel.

Aneeta: I think it is safe for me to say that your work is focused on promoting authors and their works online by utilising the network you’ve built up in the publishing industry. And in this, you’re unique compared to most publicists I’ve come across. Is there a reason for this?

Hajni: I strongly believe in the power of networking through the free and limitless possibilities of the Internet. Don’t get me wrong. I find the traditional avenues for publicity, those being the press and other media, to be of paramount importance. On many occasions we have worked in synergy with the publicity/marketing department of certain publishers, and found the experience very rewarding and the results simply amazing. We also collaborate with some of the best publicity firms in the industry, such as PubliSide.

Aneeta: What do you mean by “the power of networking”?

Hajni: You, as a Website owner, are aware of the promotional power and exposure you can provide for your site when you work hard on it. Imagine the online presence of hundreds of authors combined with the help of a full-time Search Engine Optimization Specialist with publicity experience, and you get Substance Books.

Aneeta: What kind of authors do you accept and what kind of works are you interested in. Indeed, are there books you will automatically reject?

Hajni: All submissions to the Substance Books network are subject to approval. Acceptance is base on the marketability level of the book and the promotional approach of the author or publisher. We do read all reviews and search for all the online data we can before making a decision.

Yes, any book that doesn’t fit with Substance Books’ marketing profile or that is of poor quality will be rejected.

Aneeta: I would like to take a different approach in this interview. Instead of asking you to list your products/services, I would like instead to go through your many websites. This is because from what I’ve researched, each of your sites caters to a specific aspect of book marketing. So, let’s start with the main one:

Substance Books – http://www.substancebooks.com

Please tell me what you offer on this website, along with the free services non-members can use.

Hajni: Substance Books is the biggest online, commission-free book publicity network, and has been providing book publicity services to authors and publishers since 2001. We provide exposure to authors’ works through search engine optimization and combined networking that would otherwise not be available to them through their own, individual Websites alone. We target book buyers and direct them to the appropriate channels, which results in increased book sales for the author. We also represent our authors at non-virtual book publicity events, such as Book Expo America, Book Expo Canada, and press fairs throughout North America and Europe.

  • Free Book Marketing Newsletter subscription
  • Free Substance Web Award

Aneeta: Book Promoter – http://www.bookpromoter.com/

Hajni: Book Promoter is the online resource center of all the free book publicity forums created and managed by Substance Books for its members and invited guests.

Aneeta: Authors’ Web Design – http://www.authorswebdesign.com/

Hajni: Website creation and maintenance services to authors and publishers that focus on target-market and sales-oriented websites.

  • Free Web Design estimation

Aneeta: Top Site Makeover – http://www.topsitemakeover.com/

Hajni: Web Site Makeover and Search Engine Optimization services.

  • Free Website Makeover estimation
  • Free SEO estimation
  • Free Website evaluations

Aneeta: As you may know, a lot of my readers come from Asia and Africa, and many times they face problems “getting their work out there”. Let me give you a scenario: A self-published author from, say, Indonesia contacts you to help her promote her book. All 500 copies of her book are physically with her. How can you assist her in getting these books sold? Is the geographical distance an issue?

Hajni: Great question. My answer ties into one of the issues covered earlier regarding traditional media publicity versus online publicity. When it comes to online publicity, geographical distance is irrelevant. If this author has a Website, I will be able to direct targeted readers to her site or to her distributor’s. If she doesn’t have a Website, traffic will be sent directly to the distributor of her book. As I mentioned before, we can also assist her to create and maintain a Website, or to make an existing Website better targeted to its readers. We can also introduce her book to the North American market by featuring it at an upcoming event, like BEA.

Aneeta: Thank you, Hajni. That will be of most assistance to us here. What advice would you give my readers, who are mainly storytellers?

Hajni: Some stories are best told, some are best published. I was not blessed with a nice speaking voice (very glad to be doing this interview online), but anyone who has the talent of storytelling must continue the tradition of the spoken word.

Aneeta: I never thought of that – a nice speaking voice! Hmmm …. Well, Hajni, this is all I have to ask you. Is there anything at all you’d like to add?

Hajni: I would like to invite your readers to visit Substance Books online, or to come to our booth for a chat next year during Book Expo America 2007, taking place in New York City.

Aneeta: Hajni, thank you, once again, for participating in this interview.

Hajni: I thank you.



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