Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Hiatus - Links to Review

We do not add new content during our Holiday Season. Instead, we offer a collection of links for you to peruse. We'll be back in 2014.

Creating a Fabulous Book Launch Event

Marketing Outside The Box by Marci Nault: For her Book Launch Party – she  decided to cross-promote with local artists, wineries, theater companies, comedy clubs, and caterers. The outcome? A party that would’ve cost over $5000, but instead was only $200. She signed more than 100 books, and in this post she shares what she did to make that happen!

Have an Ebook Launch Party: This is a great example for an author to launch one book.

Insights on The Writing Life

The Authors Road: A collection of author interviews offering insights. Look through their collection for your favorite authors. This project is labor of love from George, Salli & Ella: "We are doing this to honor one of America’s greatest natural resources — its writers."

Hugh Howey: Remembers the best days of his life as a writer, and why they were.

Insight on Who Reads Your Books

Wise Ink: The difference between Active vs. Passive Readers

Seth Godin: The cycle of media, fans to feeders

Insights from Publicity Professionals

Publicity Professionals Enhance the Author Persona - Sharon Bially of Book Savvy Public Relations  

Enjoy our Book! 
Enjoy cruising around all the posts and tips here on our blog. 
And Don't Forget:

Gary D. Robson Book Signing Tips for Authors: 

While you’re at it, engage the staff. Be pleasant. Chat with them (when there isn’t a customer waiting). Offer to sign a book for them. Make them want to send customers over to your table. This will pay off in spades the next day when they’re telling everyone how wonderful you were and showing off your books. The signing is only the beginning. If they like you (and you wrote a decent book, of course), then they’ll hand-sell your books for months. On the flip side…

Don’t monopolize the staff. Keeping the employees from doing their job does not lead to happy store managers!

Happy Holidays and Have a Joyous New Year!
Therese and Morgan

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marketing Children's Books: It's All About Your Characters

At the PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) Fall Tradeshow, we presented our "Push, Pull, POP, Seamless Self-Promotion" class as part of the Author Track of speakers. One of the many cool people we met asked a series of questions about how our advice would be applied to authors of children's books. To be honest, we've been so focused on novelists and memoirists we had to give this topic some serious thought.

Morgan says: I've been an avid reader my entire life, so it was easy for me to name my favorite books from my childhood. Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Madeline <she's the reason I studied French throughout grade school...and I still have Paris on my bucket list>, and Barbar were among my favoritesWhat I quickly realized is that I remember the characters' names, but I honestly couldn't remember the authors! Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss were the only author names that I could recall, but they are also authors that I've researched and re-read as an adult.

As we researched site after site, this pattern held true with only a few exceptions: children's book authors have character based websites and promotions. Children tend to ask for books based on topics and characters. "I want to read dinosaurs" or "I want to read Angelina Ballerina" have both been uttered by any number of children around the world.

Common Children's Book Website Content:

  • All pages include images of the characters and used colors and backgrounds that are in line with the book artwork, setting, and color palette.
  • There is information about the author. Older books like Madeline and Eloise include a more exhaustive history of  the book series, artists, and author(s).
  • Most sites had a tab especially for child focused activities and extra content. For example, the Paddington Bear site includes a "Make & Do" tab that has links to craft projects and printable bookmarks and postcards. The Princess Cupcake Jones website has a "Print & Play" page that includes downloads for games, puzzles, and crayon friendly images.
  • All of the sites included a contact page for inquiries.
  • Most sites included a means to sign up for a newsletter or fan club.
With regards to other marketing activities for children's book authors, Princess Cupcake Jones has her own Facebook page. Again, the character is the key focus of this page. The author, Yellya Fields, posts pictures of little girls dressed as her character.

Points to Ponder:
  1. As a children's book author, are you currently engaged in character focused marketing?
  2. For all authors: How are you engaging your audience with extra content?

Our dear friend, Gary, is an author of children's books. In his 7 Book Signing Tips for Children's Author post, he provides great insights from his personal experiences. The first two tips are below this text. Check out the link to see all seven tips.

  1. No cursive. I was born in 1958, so handwriting was a big thing in school. We learned to write beautiful cursive script, and that’s what our generation uses for formal occasions. Today’s children, however, are often not taught cursive. Schools in our area have dropped it, and many others around the country as well. If you handwrite a clever little note to the children, odds are they won’t be able to read it. This doesn’t apply to the signature itself, but…
  2. Who Pooped signatureUse a clearer signature. When I’m signing a check or a legal document, my signature is a scrawl. If you didn’t already know my name, you’d never be able to decipher the signature. As grownups, we get this. An illegible scribble is the standard for signatures. Little kids don’t necessarily get it. If the family is plopping down $11.95 for a copy of my book, I figure the least I can do is make it readable. I know kids who don’t read cursive won’t be able to read a signature, but the letters are close enough to identify if you know what you’re looking for. Speaking of which…

Friday, November 8, 2013

Marketing Nonfiction Books: Persona & Topic

Advice offered to us after our last workshop is that we should modify our book so it applies to nonfiction authors. Our personal opinion is there are loads of wonderful How To books for nonfiction authors to build their author platform, especially if it is a How To or Specific Topic platform. Writer's Digest Books and Magazines are chock full of decades of advice for authors to become known as being an authority on their topic.

Jane Goodall is a great example of the whole package for a nonfiction author. She's an author, speaker, scientist, activist, and so much more. She has a message, she's an authority, and she has presence! Both in person and how she dresses, speaks, poses, and interacts with primates.

Jane did not struggle to create a persona, she just followed her passion and took the advice of professionals in marketing, PR and web design. 

Memoirs are 100% the professional nonfiction writer in a specific and genuine Author Persona With a Topic. 

Therese Says: I had the opportunity to read Judy Johnson Berna's memoir prior to publication. The story follows Judy's relationship with her foot, that had been an aggravation to her life activities, her whole life. Eventually she chose to become an amputee. Really? Choose to cut off your leg? 

Yes, and it's a wonderful and personal journey that she shares with readers who have no reason to make such a choice. But it's also an inspiring story of how to assess the need for positive, if highly radical and often discouraged, change. Judy is also honest regarding how to adapt to when what's holding you back is suddenly gone. There can be a whole new set of challenges!

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan: Is basically a story about a young mother getting diagnosed with breast cancer, shortly before her father also begins cancer treatments. This sounds pretty depressing but it's a wonderful story of growth, the layers of a life, family, and so much more. This is Kelly's story, Kelly's family, Kelly's beliefs and what makes it a fabulous nonfiction story is the voice. Kelly's, of course. 

In both of these examples, there is no need to create a persona because their persona IS The Story, and there are very specific topics. 

Judy's topic revolves around breaking barriers of perception as to the physical value of a limb and the objections of the medical community regarding the choice of a patient to choose their treatment. The story has expanded exponentially since it was written.

Kelly's topic is her perception of the details of living that touch our emotions, and memories, and enrich our lives. She's now a motivational speaker.

For An Entirely Different Persona - The Bloggess aka Jenny Lawson is raw, irreverent, uses colorful language and sometimes expresses such highly offensive ideas that she is beloved, by at least three people. Her topics are - whatever catches her attention at the moment.

She has a blog - of course - and her persona picture is worth a look. 

The Bloggess is Jenny Lawson's interactive persona and she's funny. And she battles severe anxiety disorder, RA and a bunch of other challenges. Which means, her persona is also now part of her personal power and how she has become beloved by more than three people. 

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor is a memoir of a brain scientist who analyzed her own stroke as it was happening to her, then created a whole new platform of information about brains, our insight, the universe, and all kinds of great stuff. Her TED talk includes holding a brain out for the audience to observe and then explaining what it's like to be free from the filtering of the logical and tactile side of the brain. LaLa Land sounds pretty good.  

This is a perfect example of picking and choosing aspects from the Real Person and becoming a Persona with a specific story, style, and message. Dr. Taylor presents herself as the authority she is, on her topic, the brain, then presents her transformative experience that is wilder than a near death epiphany. She glosses past her six year recovery and appreciation for those who cared for her, but does so with quick emotional punches. Then she returns to the story of molecular and universal connection, freedom from the physical body, and her message that peace is only a thought away. 

In many ways, marketing a nonfiction author is easier because there is a specific topic, a level of authority and professionalism, and an easily defined potential audience. Unless it is a memoir, then it needs a stronger persona, message, and dedication from the author for spreading a unique message that is timely.

There is always the potential for a viral sensation no one expected. It happened back in the 1980's with a tiny little memoir as a young man spent time with a mentor, during his final days. There was no internet back then, yet this simple little book was marketed to numerous publishers in the hope it would earn enough to offset Morrie's medical bills. Mitch Albom was a sport journalist and beat the pavement through numerous rejections to get this book published. Finally a small press agreed to do a small print run. Within a few years, millions of copies were circling the globe.

Therese says: In my humble opinion, Tuesday's with Morrie,where the main character dies at the end, touched a chord and became a viral best seller not so much because Morrie was exceptional. It was more because Mitch was the compassionate and genuine persona who was transformed while writing the story, and readers took his journey as their own. Otherwise, it's just a really ordinary though sad story. It was the author that made the difference. 

Now, there is a current book that I would love to see become a viral sensation...

ADULTING, How to Become A Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, and her voice, and topic, and Persona is a delight!
It's like a cross-genre nonfiction How-To/Memoir. And yes, that really is her on the cover.

Author's need to be grown ups about their career, topics, persona and marketing. :D

Engage the customers, but don’t be pushy! Don’t sit at your table like a lump and wait for people to come ask about your book. Say hello! Tell them you’re in the store signing your books. Then, if they don’t make eye contact, or they act uninterested, leave them alone.
Hand people your book. This is an old bookseller’s technique. If people are holding a copy of the book in their hands, they are much more likely to buy it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Small Press is Born

The True Story is - book publicist Jessica Glenn of Mind Buck Media, was the speaker at an event on May 11, 2013 and Therese was the coordinator. Jessica had already checked out this site and as she and Therese met in person that first time, Jessica stated, "If you have a workbook, I have a publisher for you." Ten days later, first contact was made, and someday we'll all be saying... the rest is history. 
It was a busy four months from first contact to published book, so we asked Shelley for her story. Though there's many layers to this story, here's how an elementary school teacher became a small press publisher. 
Shelley Says: My third grade teacher was Mrs. Grant. She made such a positive impression on me that I decided that very year, that I was going to be an elementary school teacher when I grew up.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in education at Oregon State University, and got my first job, as a kindergarten teacher, the year after graduation. I spent the next sixteen years working as a teacher, primarily with fifth grade students. During that time I grew to love children’s picture and fiction books, and started a private library of my own.

When our daughter, Caitlyn, was born, I chose to be an at home mom. From the time she was old enough to walk, my husband, Roy, and I began reading aloud to her every night before bed—and continued to do so through her grade school years.

Once Caitlyn started kindergarten, I began volunteering in her classrooms and that continued through grade school as well. I also substituted at her school and often took my classes to the library for check out, became familiar with what was popular with the kids, and added to our home library each year.

When our little girl moved on to junior high, volunteering opportunities in the classroom were scarce, so I began spending two days a week in the school’s library, shelving books, helping kids find the books they wanted, and doing checkout duties. That was my introduction to young adult novel series. I worked there for three years, and when Caitlyn was a sophomore in high school, I switched over to volunteering in that library.

Shelley C. Moore - Publisher/Editor (and Roy!)
Gazebo Gardens Publishing
It was during her senior year in high school that I made the decision to start a publishing business. A close friend had written several books and wanted to get them published. He didn’t want to self-publish and be a “vanity press”, as he put it, and came to me for help. He knew about my teaching experience, about my private book collection, and about my time volunteering in Caitlyn’s school libraries. He also needed my help with editing—which is something I enjoy. He’d self-published one book through iUniverse, and was not happy with the results. He asked me if I’d be willing to learn how to get a book published through more traditional channels, rather than self-publishing channels.

With Caitlyn growing up and soon to leave the nest for college, I was ready and able to invest the time in a new career. I knew I’d need something constructive to do where I could use my teaching and volunteering skills, and in an area where I’d enjoy my work. My experience teaching, volunteering in libraries for children of all ages, our extensive home library of children’s and young adult books, and my love of reading and editing, all seemed like a good base on which to build an independent publishing company. So, I agreed to give it a try, and help my friend publish his books.

It took me two years to learn the business. I spent a lot of time researching publishing online, reading articles and books on the subject. I joined several organizations, including Book Publishers Northwest, the Independent Book Publishers Association, a national organization, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. All these organizations have websites with information about publishing and offer resources to independent publishers, and some have meetings and  newsletters. There are also many other sources for publishing information like CreateSpace, BookBaby, and blog sites.

I had to learn about ISBNs, BowkerLink, copywriting, the Library of Congress registration system, and companies like GoDaddy. Then there's the details about how to properly format books for printing, locate printers who could do POD (print on demand) and small runs, research distributors who would except books from small publishers, and how to get a book reviewed. It was a slow, arduous process, and I sought help from experts in sales, marketing, publicity, and printing for advice as well researching online and reading articles. It takes a real time and energy commitment to start a small publishing business.

Today, after a lot of trial and error, many mistakes, a lot of research and expert advice, an extremely challenging learning curve, financial and moral support from Roy, and hours, and hours, and hours of hard work, Gazebo Gardens  Publishing currently has eight authors under contract, and we’re talking with several more about publishing their books. It’s a really wonderful feeling to help new authors get their “babies” published and out into the world—no matter what the genre. Caitlyn is now my partner in our little business, we have three imprints to cover all ages and genres of books, and we’re looking forward to success in the coming years.

Thanks Shelley! This really is a team effort. 
And that team includes authors, publishing professionals, and booksellers. So here's some more tips...

 Don’t undercut or bypass the store. Want to piss off a bookstore owner? Hand out bookmarks that say “available at Amazon.” Tell people they can get your other books at the store down the street. Tell customers to call you direct for more copies instead of coming back to the store. Even worse, sell books out of your trunk right after the signing. The store has worked hard to put this event together, spent money on promotion, and showed their faith in you by providing space in the store. Return the favor and send them business.
If you’re doing a reading, bring a personal copy of your book. Do not take a new book from the bookstore’s stock, crease the pages, and read from it during your talk!