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One day I’m not home. ONE. DAY.

Ah, the glamorous life of a kidlit author!

Truth be told, that sink is almost always full of dirty dishes…and the day was somewhat glamorous…as I appeared at an Eastern PA SCBWI event.

During the “squibby” shindig at the Bethlehem Area Public Library, an attendee asked me what the best book marketing methods were. I answered honestly: I DO NOT KNOW. (I wish I did.)

There are a multitude of things I do to promote my work, but I really have no way to gauge the effectiveness of any of it. Sometimes I will show up to a book reading and stare at this…

…and think it has been a total disaster. I go home to a pile of dirty dishes and cry.

But I forget the efforts to market the event—my books that sat in the window display for weeks, the mentions in the paper, the little things that helped to promote the unfortunate empty-seat syndrome. It was just dumb luck that the event occurred on the first sunny weekend in October and everyone went pumpkin picking instead. (Hey, can you blame them?) So I do not know how all that publicity actually fared in the long run. I may never know. And so, I keep plugging away.

So today, I have for you WAY PAST BEDTIME Pre-Order Prize Packs.

WAY PAST BEDTIME features a precocious hero who’s determined to stay up late. Joseph imagines a party of epic proportions going on and he doesn’t want to miss all the frivolous fun.

Kirkus Reviews says, “It’s not all DJ dance parties and hot-fudge fountains when parents stay up late…or is it? Forget staying up to wait for Santa Claus. After reading this, kids will clamor to investigate someone a little closer to home.”

If you pre-order WAY PAST BEDTIME before the release on April 25, leave a comment below stating so. (This is on the honor system. No need to send me a receipt. I will believe you.)

You will then be entered to win one of THREE PRIZE PACKS.

Grand Prize Pack:

  • Edu Science 3D Night-Sight Goggles
  • Sleeping Emoji Pillow
  • Superhero cape
  • Three Signed & Personalized Books
  • 45-minute SKYPE visit (with your child’s class or your class if you teach)

Two Runner-Up Prize Packs:

  • Two Signed & Personalized Books
  • 45-minute SKYPE visit (with your child’s class or your class if you teach)

You can preorder a signed copy by calling my local indie, The Bookworm at 908-766-4599.

Or you can order via your favorite local or online bookseller. The choice is yours.

Leave your comment below confirming your order—with one comment per pre-order made—and you will be entered to win.

Winners announced on release day, April 25!

GOOD LUCK!

“With over 3 million books being published every year, competition in the marketplace is enormously stiff. In fact, over 78% of all published books fail, and the average book, today, sells just 250 copies.”

Ouch! A sobering fact from book promotion guru Patricia Fry.

What’s an author to do?

You’ve got to be a book promotion machine.

bookmachine

But you’re not a machine, are you? No, you’re an author.

So that’s why I invited Patricia here today. After reading her book TALK UP YOUR BOOK, I realized even though I’m doing a lot to promote my book, I could be doing more. I SHOULD be doing more.

talkupyourbookPatricia, that 78% statistic is scary. Can you tell us what you mean by “fail”, and is there a difference in these stats between traditionally published and self-published titles?

By “fail,” they mean the books sell fewer than 100 copies. There are no statistics that I know of that indicates how many self-published authors versus traditionally published authors “fail.” However, I can tell you that around 78 percent of all books published today are produced by pay-to-publish “self-publishing” companies.

Why are so many books failing in the marketplace? Because most new authors neglect to study the publishing industry before getting involved. They don’t know the importance of writing the right book for the right audience and they don’t understand that it is up to the author to promote the book. Many new authors who do take the initiative and time to learn something about book promotion, find themselves in over their heads once they are faced with the huge responsibilities involved with marketing their books. They don’t realize how much time, energy and effort it takes. They become overwhelmed and disillusioned and they either never start a marketing program or they quit before they’ve gone very far with it.

Competition is another reason why some books fail in the marketplace. There are more books than ever before and statistics show there are actually fewer readers. But even in the face of competition, there are some books that do much better than others and the key is always–write a book that is needed/wanted by a segment of people, know who your audience is and write for that audience, have your book edited by a good book editor and, when it comes time to promote that book, it is vital that you know how to promote to your particular audience. No one will buy a book they don’t know about. It is up to the author to reach his/her audience. Something else authors often lose sight of is that once they stop promoting their book, it will die.

OK, so about 22% of all books are with traditional houses. Traditional houses will promote your book (right?), but the author still needs to do as much as they can. What do you say to the authors who think they can just sit back and watch sales roll in? And what do you say to those authors who complain, “But I’m not a natural promoter. I’m an introverted writer!”

I don’t know much about the statistics. That isn’t my strength. But I can tell you that in today’s publishing climate, all authors MUST be prepared to and expect to do the majority of the promoting and marketing for their books. There are hundreds of traditional publishers and they each have different ways of working with authors, but most are more interested in the author’s platform and what the author can and will do to spread the word about their books than almost anything else. Most of them want to work with authors who have a following, a reach—a ready-made audience for promoting their particular book and an understanding of book promotion.

By way of promotion from the publisher’s side—generally, a publisher will put the book in their catalog and on their website. They might send out press releases to their list of reviewers, newspapers, etc. They may give an author 3 months with an on-staff publicist. But, yes, the author is expected to be the main marketing agent for his/her book.

What do I say to authors who do not want to promote? I would hope to talk to them before they ever write that book. I would ask them to study the publishing industry and to learn what is expected of them—what their responsibilities are as a published author. I would urge them to learn what book promotion entails—to gain an understanding of this huge responsibility before ever deciding to write a book for publication. If they don’t want to do the promotion, they should seriously reconsider producing a book.

For those who have already written and published a book, I would recommend that they engage in the same study asap. There are hundreds of ways to promote a book. An author can find his/her level of expertise and comfort among them. They can pick and choose—but they must be realistic about what it’s going to take in order to reach their particular audience.

This means, they must know who their audience is, write the book with that audience in mind, know where their readers are and how to approach them. They must understand that it’s all about exposure. No one will buy a book that they don’t know about. Someone (in this publishing climate it is the author) must get word out to their particular audience.

With so many avenues of promotion available now, it can be overwhelming. And so part of an author’s job is to become familiar with those avenues and determine which ones are best for their book. There is usually no one or two activities that will help an author reach his or her audience. Authors must use a variety of activities, skills, methods, mediums toward getting exposure—getting their books noticed by their readers. And those methods, skills, etc. may differ from author to author and book to book.

Is there any particular promotional tool or event that is easiest for a new author to jump into? Is there anything you recommend doing first and foremost?

promoteyourbookFirst and foremost, the author must know who his audience is and where they are—what do they read, where do they hang out—on the Internet, around town, throughout the universe? Where do they go for the sort of information you provide in your book or for entertaining reading material? Then the author must find ways to reach his or her readers through these means.

Remembering that it is all about exposure, as an author, you must make sure your book is front and center where your readers are. This might mean having it for sale at specific specialty shops related to the theme or topic of your book. It might mean announcing your book in appropriate newsletters (members of organizations can usually place announcements in organization newsletters, for example), having it reviewed at appropriate blog sites and so forth. So the primary promotional activities might differ from author to author, depending on the genre and theme of the book and the nature and needs of the audience.

However, as for the basics for most authors, I would recommend building a website related to the genre/theme of your book. I can’t tell you how many authors miss out on opportunities because they don’t have a website that can be easily located and accessed. They rely on their publisher—even their self-publishing company—to get word out about their book through the company website. Bad idea!! If someone is looking for a good mystery involving horses, a handbook for beginning surfers, a guide to gardening in the northwest or a children’s book on hygiene, for example, and this is the nature of your book, you want them to find you first. A website is a good place to start making this happen.

The second thing you need to do is to advertise that website. Put it in your email signature, on your promo material, in your bio at the bottom of your articles, and so forth.

A good place to start introducing just about any book is locally. I urge authors to speak locally, reserve booths at local flea markets and book festivals, offer it as an auction item for charity and visit independent bookstores and appropriate specialty stores and other venues where you can sell the book. You’ll get an idea of the reader interest in your book. You’ll learn tips and techniques that will help you with future promotion. You’ll learn whether or not it would be a good idea for you to travel and speak about your book and whether to sign up at larger book festivals, for example. In other words, you can test your market locally without much expense.

This is a good starting place for many authors. There are hundreds and hundreds of additional promotional tools and ideas–I have over 250 in my book, PROMOTE YOUR BOOK. John Kremer lists 1001 in one of his early books on book marketing.

Thank you, Patricia! I think we’ve got a lot to think about and a lot to do! I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom and your terrific books.

patriciafryConsidered “a maven when it comes to counseling authors in the art of publishing and selling their books” and “one of the most well-known writing gurus,” Patricia Fry has been working with other freelance writers and authors for over two decades. Currently, she has 39 books to her credit, representing an eclectic mix of subjects including several writing/publishing-related books. She is a literary and manuscript consultant, an editor and a teacher. She can help you write a book with more publishing potential, professionally edit your book manuscript, guide you in preparing a more effective book proposal and coach you in more successfully promoting your book. You can find promotional tips and free ebooks at PatriciaFry.com.

steveouchI met author-illustrator Steve Ouch on Twitter several weeks ago and was immediately impressed by his 5,000 followers. (Which has now topped 10,000.) Just who is this guy? Why had I never heard of his book SteamPotVille?

The easy answer is that Steve wrote, illustrated, and published SteamPotVille himself. And now he’s a one-man marketing juggernaut, making connections with parents, teachers and fellow writers through social media.

Smart? You bet. His book, released in early January, already garnered 19 five-star reviews on Amazon. The word-of-mouth is spreading…and spreading fast.

Fascinated by his approach, I had to learn more about Steve and his creation.

SteamPotVille is a topsy-turvy romp through a fantastical dreamland. The  illustrations feature animals in impossible situations–a lion riding a pony, a monkey swinging from a straw–created by photomontage. Steve, one has to wonder, what came first? The pictures or the text?

The text came first. Just as in the development of a movie, I changed some of the script as images came to life. Each page has about 150 hours of illustration time. When you spend that much time on one piece, the characters start their improvisations. Adjusting the text to express this phenomena makes the book a better read. That’s a flexibility that comes with being the author and the illustrator.

steampotvillecoverWow! 150 hours! Truly a labor of love. And that shows not only through your elaborate, whimsical illustrations, but in the way you’re marketing SteamPotVille via social media.

Can you tell us why you decided to release your book as an independent title? Did you have a viral marketing campaign in mind all along?

I did a logic problem and this is what I discovered:

a. I shouldn’t spend all my time looking for an agent and a publisher when I could be trying to make money selling books.

b. By enacting my own campaign and getting the book viewed, I’m doing a service to a publisher by testing how the product will be received on the market.

c. Once SteamPotVille is established then I can meet with publishers for wider/deeper distribution. I like the idea of getting things done. It’s really taxing to forge new paths all the time, but that’s life. As far as a viral campaign: I don’t see it as a campaign but more of an ongoing experiment. 

And you’re definitely getting things done. How did you attract so many Twitter followers? What other kind of online promotion have you been involved in?

twitterfollowTwitter is parallel to human society. All of the general rules of socializing apply to this medium, so I get out there and socialize. The more I do it, the more popular I become.

Online I’m trying to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most cousins on FaceBook (add me as a friend and I will make you my cousin). That’s a slow and long term promotion. The other promotions happening at the moment are my inefficiency campaign and sending bottles of the Internet to people who can’t get access.

Ha! And let’s not forget about blog interviews!

Some may call you brilliant and yet others might be cynical about your publisher-come-to-Mohammed approach. What do you have to say to the skeptics?

:chuckle: I wonder if Mohammad had a hard time finding a publisher? That would be a fun story.

I never place judgment on what others choose to do for themselves. Each of us have our own path to go down. I am not saying that mine is the best nor is it right. I am just doing what seems to be right for me for the time. Whether it works to deliver SteamPotVille in the right hands will be like a bad mini-series (to be continued). For now though, I am enjoying the opportunities to chit-chat with people like you and that makes me happy enough.

Thanks, Steve. No wonder you’re so popular!

Can you tell us a little about your photomontage process? How do you start illustrating a spread? Do you make a rough sketch first, or does it all come together on the computer screen?

I spend time breaking apart a scene I have developed in my head, then I rough it out on paper. Next, I take pictures and apply them to the layout on my Mac, over and over, until I feel like the image is strong enough to stand on its own. 

Are you working on another book now?

I finished writing my next work. I hope to get started on the montage at the end of the year.

Have you approached traditional booksellers about carrying your title? Will be you making any appearances to promote your book?

I have yet to approach any traditional booksellers, know any buyers? Speaking of, anyone who would like to get my book into any store or chain, I would offer a commission of the sale.

I plan on doing a book tour this summer/fall! If it happens, it will be pretty interactive from a web perspective. 😉 

What advice do you have for other authors who are interested in publishing and marketing their own title? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

I would advise anyone who is going to setup their book “indie style” to begin marketing your book before you are done. I wish I knew that one.

I think that’s good advice for any author. Thanks, Steve! Good luck with your books!

Check out SteamPotVille and follow Steve Ouch on Twitter for his book updates.

twitter2I first heard the phrase “TwitLit” from writing friend Christopher Cocca. I’ll give him coining credit. We both write flash fiction, so he had suggested using the 140-character Twitter format to tell uber-short stories. His first submission: “His probation stopped on a dime-bag.” Mine? “The gourmand often ate too much, but she was living life to the fullest.”

So how else can writers use Twitter? You might want to refuse answering the assumed question, “What are you doing?” Come on, that’s boring. We’ve got Facebook status for that. Twitter is nimble, Twitter is quick, Twitter has the power to change the world. (OK, a bit of hyperbole there.)

Agent Nadia Cornier used Twitter to update authors on Firebrand Agency’s “query holiday.” From December 15 to January 15, Firebrand invited submissions without a query letter. At final count, she had over 3500 submissions with 387 read and 30 requested. Useful, clever Tweeting. Thanks, Nadia.

Of course, agent Nathan Bransford already covered authorly Tweeting with a guest post by Tracy Marchini two months ago. Marchini suggests 21 ways an author can use Twitter. Yep, she’s got TwitLit covered.

But I’m going further with this.

You may be aware of the cell phone novel phenomenom in Japan. Authors deliver stories a few lines at a time directly to mobile devices and welcome reader feedback regarding the tale’s direction. Once the novel is completed, readers rush to buy the paper copy because they feel invested in the story. After all, they had a hand (or a thumb) in its creation.

Some critics consider mobile novels an omen of a literary doomsday. Others think the platform can’t be ignored, especially with five of the top 10 novels in Japan having originated on cell phones.

So why not tell an entire tale in Twitter a few lines at a time? OK, perhaps there’s a certain level of literary integrity you want to maintain and this ain’t the way. But it’s a fun and interesting new venue for fiction, and one that could elicit reader feedback. Applications like TweetDeck help you to organize Tweets by subject and keep track of responses to others (using the “@” symbol). But be careful not to use Twitter for conversations that will lose other readers.

What about a Twitter account for your fictional characters? Don’t they have something to say beyond the confines of your book? A Tweet or two and they’re brought to life in real-time. Or maybe you can create a new character who only exists in Tweets.

The format is experimental. Who knows if it will catch on for story telling. But with Amazon’s Kindle gaining popularity and cell phones evolving into integrated entertainment devices for music, web browsing, pictures and videos, surely books and zines can’t be far behind. Can you imagine your phone’s screen folding out like a newspaper and delivering any story you want anytime you want it? Will Twitter help push things in that direction? Perhaps with a million authors using it, it just might.

twitterfollowSo how are you using Twitter to enhance your writing career? Are you marketing yourself or using it creatively? Please share your ideas!

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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Summer/Fall 2018

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