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Archive for August, 2014

What does carrot cake have to do with book marketing?

At a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, a very interesting question arose:

You keep saying that we have to start marketing long before the book is written. Fine. But what if, after months or even WOMyears of work, an author decides the book just isn’t going to happen. Wouldn’t he have wasted all that marketing effort, and even suffer for failing to keep his promise?

That is, truly, an excellent question. I answered it as best I could, off the top of my head:

From where I sit, making a public declaration is perhaps one of the best motivators in the world to take action and complete a project. Keep telling people your book is coming (a.k.a. marketing it) and those people will keep you honest and on track by asking you how it’s coming  even if that process takes longer than you might feel it should.

One of my clients began her book in December 1991 and published it this past May. Through all those years, she was supported by the friends, family members, and colleagues who continued to ask, “How’s the book coming?” They all cheered her success when she was finally able to put printed copies in their hands after years of telling them she was “still working on it.”

Yes, it’s possible the book will never come to fruition, but I’d much rather market a book that never happens than not market a book and wind up with 20 cartons of them in my garage or standing out on the street corner trying to find readers.

I asked the rest of the group for their input on the question, and most seemed to agree. One member said, “It’s like the chicken and the egg, in terms of which should come first. Both are essential. Without the book, you’ll have nothing to market. On the other hand, without the marketing, you’ll have no one to read it.

One member then volunteered a story that I found delightfully relevant. Here it is, paraphrased.

Years ago, Lois and her husband owned a health food store that had a restaurant. They hired a chef who planned a great menu. However, they had only one item on their dessert menu: carrot cake. The carrot cakeproblem was that the chef was having some trouble getting the carrot cake recipe just right. Cake after cake came close, but none was exactly what they were after.

All that time, they were open for business and continued to tell their customers that the carrot cake would be “coming soon.”

One day, as a new patron again asked about the carrot cake, another who knew they’d yet to serve it piped up: “They’re out right now, but the carrot cake here is delicious!”

Of course, they perfected the carrot cake and actually began serving it shortly thereafter.

That’s the kind of advance work marketing your as-yet unpublished book can do for you. So what are YOU doing to create buzz for your book, whether you’re still perfecting the recipe or you’ve been serving it up for years?

Here’s to starting your marketing while your book’s still cookin’!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

 

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When it comes to your author blog, trust the process

The most recent topic at the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup was “Blogging Success Tips for Authors.” We’ve covered blogging at length before here at the Marcie Brock blog. Here’s link to a number of our posts about author blogging.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

TRUST THE PROCESS.

While we’ve offered lots of guidance around creating and maintaining a successful blog (defined as one that gets traction, shows up in the search engines, and positions you as the expert you are), here’s a recap of some of the most important success tips:

  1. Determine your goals for blogging.
  2. Identify your target audience.
  3. Identify the topics/themes that are important to your target audience.
  4. Upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row.
  5. Decide how often you will post.
  6. Always include a call to action!
  7. Use an image with every post.
  8. Make time to blog.
  9. Calendar your blogging time – and stick to it.
  10. Write ahead and post later.
  11. Let your readers know your posting schedule.
  12. Read and comment intelligently on other related blogs.
  13. Avoid sending mixed messages, or failing to stay on topic.
  14. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog.
  15. Get your SEO keywords right.
  16. Be patient – results take time.

Mind you, this is just the recap of a prior post that expands on all 16 points.

During our Meetup, when we got to #4 – upon launching your blog, post 40 to 50 days in a row – the response was pretty typical. Gasps, followed by the one-word question: “Really?” Yes, really.

Here’s the thing. Blogs are much more dynamic than traditional websites, because the well-maintained ones are continually adding new content, and search engine spiders love new content. When you’re first launching your blog, you’ve got to prove to the search engines that you mean business by showing up day after day and week after week with brand new content. Once they see new content continually show up on your blog, they will begin to add your data to search engine results pages (SERP), provided that you’ve done a good job tagging each post with proper keywords.

Translation: People will type in your keywords and start finding your blog posts.

I’ve offered this advice to a number of clients. One was a few years ago, and he was really skeptical at the get-go. Then, six or seven weeks went by, and I received a call from him. “Hey, guess what! My blog is picking up traction. People are starting to read it and comment on my posts, and my subscribers are increasing. You were right, after all.”

And so it goes. Here’s an excerpt from a post from the most recent client I advised about the importance of blogging.

So I was set this challenge by my publicist “write 50 blogs in 50 days” including Saturdays and Sundays. This she promised me will get much needed traffic to my blog. She also said that the blogs should be 300 – 500 words in length and when I can, make the content about something topical. (You just got a piece of free advice).

This sounds like work to me. Blogging for me is when I feel inspired to say something or share an opinion. I do not own a television, I stay away from news websites and I do not listen to talk radio. It’s not that I don’t want to know what is going on but I get so disillusioned when I read or hear news that the Ku Klux Clan is recruiting in North Carolina, or about murders by people who are there to “protect and serve”, or about bombs in Israel and Palestine, or that girls are stolen and not yet returned, or about kids who are locked in cars in sweltering US summer heat, or that the media is giving us hope by telling us what movie stars are doing.

To maintain my sanity and my peace of mind I usually stay away from all media and live in my own little bubble of words.

Maxine Attong has written a new book, Lead Your Team to Win, about creating a Safe Space in the workplace. A #SafeSpaceAttong_cover is critical to a well-functioning team because it allows every team member to take risks, learn, grow, and ultimately perform at optimal levels. I’ll have more details soon about her October 3 virtual launch. In the meantime, visit her blog. Her posts are thoughtful and conversational, just like she is.

And yet, even though the idea of blogging daily for 50 straight days initially seemed daunting to Maxine, she’s starting to see results, just like my other client did. Just like I did. Just like you will, if you follow through, keep blogging, and trust the process.

Sure, it’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like you’re blogging into the wind. Hanging your heartfelt words or well-researched posts out for the world to see, yet no one seems to see them. Remember, you are trying to make a dent in the INTERNET. You are trying to grab your little share of attention, notoriety, and fanfare on a very crowded stage. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen at all if you give up on it, do it haphazardly, or do it once every six months.

Follow the steps above and see where it leads you. In 40 or 50 days, come back and tell us how it’s going. Share the link for your author blog with me, and I’ll add it the list of author blogs on my sidebar. I’ve repeatedly made this offer, and have only had 2 takers. You can be #3!

Here’s to all my fellow author bloggers!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Leverage the power of your fellow authors to boost your marketing

It’s been a while since we’ve addressed the importance of an abundance mentality, versus a poverty or lack mentality. But it came up as I chatted with a fellow author at the recent Summer Author Event.

My thinking in putting together the Summer Author Event was that a collective is almost always more powerful than a singlebarn raising person when it comes to getting things done. Think about the barn raisings of yesteryear – and occasionally of modern times. The whole town would come together to help one farmer literally raise the structure’s frame from the ground to its permanent standing position. Now consider what might never have happened if one person – even one very strong, very organized person – might have tried to build a barn on his own.

While Americans live in a culture that seems to idolize the “can do” spirit of entrepreneurs and high achievers, it’s easy to forget that literally doing it on your own can be a long, lonely, difficult endeavor. This is true for authors as much as for any other business owner.

The gentleman mentioned at the start of this post expressed dismay at the thought that I’d like to have even more authors at the next event. “More authors just means more competition, which will probably translate to less sales for me!” He also insisted that he must sell his books at list price if he’s to make any money on them.

I challenge this poverty perspective on both counts.

FIRST – how many titles do you typically find in a brick-and-mortar bookstore? I’m guessing it’s at least a few thousand more than we had at our fledgling author book signing/meet-and-greet event. And how often do you find all the car dealerships, antique shops, and hotels grouped in close proximity in cities and towns around the country? We generally recognize that competition is a good thing. Not to mention that my friend’s historical novels were likely not competing with about 90 percent of the other titles at the event, as the remainder were from vastly different genres.

The more authors who come together in this event, the more people there are to spread the word, and the more people they have to invite. My list of 700 invitees vs. 50 people’s lists that amount to thousands – which will result in a better event for all of us?

SECOND – I asked the authors to track their sales, first noting whether they were selling at list price or offering special event pricing, and to record how many of each title sold. This was for tracking purposes: I wanted to know for next time which kinds of books did well, and at what price. I won’t say that people expect special pricing when they attend things like the Summer Author Event, but it actually can increase sales.

E.C. Brierfield, our best-selling author at this event, was really creative, putting PDFs of 4 of his novels on one jump drive and selling the whole thing at a flat price. Guess what he did? He sold out all 10 of those before most of the other authors had sold 2 printed books. Was it a special event price? It was a special event item!

How can YOU leverage the power of the collective to multiply your marketing efforts and increase your sales? For one thing, stop thinking of other authors as competitors. Look at them as colleagues, allies, and partners – and see if you can’t come up with a creative way to market your books for the coming holiday season!

Here’s to the power of the group!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

__________________

Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Summer Author Event is TODAY!

After lots of planning, coordinating, and marketing, the Summer Author Event has come together quite nicely. If you are in the Phoenix area, please plan to join us at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 N. 3rd Street, between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. We’ll have exciting book giveaways on the half-hour.

Below, you can see the interesting variety of items in the goody bags:

goody bag items

Our author participants range in genre from children’s books to business to spiritual titles to personal development and a wide variety of fiction.

Postcard back

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We look forward to seeing you today!

Laura

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PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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Middle school students inspire fantasy author – guest post from Dan Trumpis

Fairies, gremlins, magic, monsters, and mayhem. If you’re a fiction fan, you’ll want to be with us TOMORROW, as the inaugural Summer Author Event takes place at the Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004). More than 30 local authors will come together in one place for a fantastic book signing/meet-and-greet event that promises to delight every sort of book lover. Genres range from all manner of fiction to spiritual works, children’s books, business books, personal development books, and everything in between. Join us from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We’ll have giveaways from the authors on the half-hour!
Today, we are very pleased to have our third guest post from one of the SAE’s participating authors. DAN TRUMPIS is the YA author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone: A Tale from the Town of Harmony. If you’re in the Phoenix area, please be sure to come by on Saturday to meet Dan, chat with him up close and personal, and pick up his latest book!

trumpis books____________

Greetings.

My name is Dan Trumpis, and I am the proud author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone: A Tale from the Town of Harmony. Both are novels for middle-grade readers and full of magic and monsters. It’s been a long road getting here. I’ve spent years trying to find my voice as a writer. I didn’t intend to write for younger readers, at Trumpisleast not at first, but it was something I eventually settled into. Now, I’m proud to call myself a children’s author – even though quite a few adults have said they’ve enjoyed my books as well.

I think being a teacher definitely helped shape me as a writer. I got to sample a wealth of classic and contemporary children’s literature and experience the joy many of these books brought to my students. Like many indie authors, I tried to get published through traditional means. I got “teased” by a couple of agents. One of them even took a meeting with the head of juvenile literature at Tor. Sadly, nothing ever came from it.

That didn’t stop me from writing though. I thought about indie publishing for quite a while. At the same time, I began sharing Welcome to Harmony with my class and some other students at the school where I taught fifth grade. I got a great response, especially from the eighth graders at that school. They gave me such great constructive criticism for Welcome to Harmony that I immediately began a rewrite.

After that, I decided to plunge into the world of indie publishing, and I haven’t regretted it since. My plans are to write a series of books that take place in a common setting, the fictional town of Harmony, which will include a revolving cast of characters, all of whom are middle-school kids, each with a different supernatural ability. I’m currently in the midst of writing the third book. I have to be honest. It’s not going so well, but when I get low and consider giving up, I remember a great quote I read from Ray Bradbury.

“You only fail when you stop writing.”

I think that says it all.

I’m looking forward to the Summer Author Event at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. I hope to meet a lot of you there.

Dan Trumpis, author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone

Learn more about Dan Trumpis on his Facebook page: facebook.com/Harmony1855

We look forward to seeing you TOMORROW!

Laura

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PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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Danger makes this author tick – guest post from K.L. Barnes

Are you psyched for Saturday? If you’re a Phoenix-area book lover, you should be, as the inaugural Summer Author Event takes place at the Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004). More than 30 local authors will come together in one place for a lively book signing/meet-and-greet event that promises to delight bibliophiles of all stripes. Genres range from all manner of fiction to spiritual works, children’s books, business books, personal development books, and everything in between. Join us from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We’ll have giveaways from the authors on the half-hour!
Today, we are thrilled to have our second guest post from one of the SAE’s participating authors. K.L. BARNES is the author of the Maeve Tidewell series; Pay Attention, Pay the Piper, and Pay Penance. If you’re in the Phoenix area, please be sure to come by on Saturday to meet K.L., ask her questions, and pick up her latest book!

pay series

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My name is K.L. Barnes – Kris or Kristi to my friends and family – and I am an author. I’ve been working Barnestoward this for a long time, and it feels good to say that.

I always dreamed of being an author. When other kids fantasized about being on the big screen, or becoming a rock star, I wanted to write books.

It started with those fearless young sleuths, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, and let’s not forget The Hardy Boys mysteries. Boy, did they get into some tense situations. I spent a great deal of time in my youth thinking up my own suspenseful plots and harrowing escape plans, and fantasizing about my future as a real live tween detective.

Then as I matured, my interests changed, and romantic novels by authors such as Nora Roberts and Kathleen Woodiwiss held me in thrall.

What kept me reading and dreaming wasn’t the romance though, it was the danger. Those strong female characters and the solid, committed men who stood for them, were willing to risk everything to overcome any threat that might destroy their happiness. Maeve Tidewell and Ben Drake are just such characters.

You can meet them and experience their own selfless determination in the first three books of the Maeve Tidewell Pay Series; Pay Attention, Pay the Piper, and Pay Penance. We can chat about them, and they will be available to purchase at a special price individually, or as a set, at the Phoenix Summer Author Event on August 16th.

Now, I don’t write romance. I do write about relationships, love, and commitment to a certain extent, but you would laugh me right off the page if I tried to write modern romance.

No, I write about people who will risk everything, do anything, to see their loved ones safe. The same way I would. The same way you would, if faced with a deadly threat.

Life is like that. Maybe you and I don’t face life or death situations on a daily basis, but we do have to decide if we’re willing to fight, to sacrifice, to dig in for the long haul, if we’re going to have what we truly desire in life.

Dreaming up suspense, putting it down on paper, and having it read by people who love to read, takes a lot of time, sacrifice, and digging in. But believe me, it’s worth it.

For those of you attending the author event, you should probably know that I love people. I love watching people, talking with people, and connecting with people. And I am a hugger. If you come by my table and we connect, just beware.

Until we meet, I wish you well.

K.L. Barnes, author of Pay Attention, Pay the Piper, and Pay Penance

Learn more about K.L. Barnes at her website: k-l-barnes.com

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Laura

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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Escaping together – guest post from Matthew Cerra

Saturday promises to be an exceptional day in Phoenix, Arizona, as the inaugural Summer Author Event takes place at the Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004). More than 30 local authors will come together in oneCerra Empires place for a lively book signing/meet-and-greet event that promises to delight book lovers of all stripes. Genres range from all manner of fiction to spiritual works, children’s books, business books, personal development books, and everything in between. Join us from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We’ll have giveaways from the authors on the half-hour!
Today, we are thrilled to have a guest post from one of the SAE’s participating authors. MATTHEW CERRA is the author of Empires Awakening, a debut fantasy novel. If you’re in the Phoenix area, please be sure to come by on Saturday to meet Matthew, ask him any questions, and pick up a copy of his book!

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Today one of the wonderful readers of my book sent me a link to an image on Facebook with a unique why I writequote (right), that after a bit, I realized had some truth to it. In some ways, being the writer of fantasy can easily turn into a very dangerous form of balanced insanity. If some random person were walking around your town describing dragons, unicorns, and creatures of a magical nature out loud for all to hear, they would undoubtedly be committed before they hurt themselves or others.

However as an author of fantasy, I am called upon to create a fantastic world that will actually lure people in with its beauty and enticing story. I must create an experience so immersive and engaging to the reader that they will want to leave reality behind for a time. I must create an experience that a reader will love and appreciate as much, if not more, than they do reality. I must also keep a firm grip on which world is real. That balancing act is exciting, and not entirely without its dangers.

I began writing when I was very young, though I am not sure when I began to compose entire stories. I know for certain I railroadswas reading as many books as I could get my hands on from an early age. I was a very early reader – before I turned four I could already read, driven to it by the book pictured at the right. As you can imagine, I had a thing for trains and railroads. Okay, I will be honest, I still have a thing for trains and railroads. If I ever become as well off as JK Rowling, I fully intend to buy my own steam engine, working, of course. It will be a Norfolk and Western Class J, for those wondering.

However, much of my reading was an escape. For much of the first 18 years of my life, things happened that created a need and a wish to get away. When I had the opportunity – which was infrequent, since I moved a great number of times – I took writing workshops and courses to help me get the insanity inside my mind out onto the page. For a time, I even participated in an email RPG. That amounted to a creative writing exercise where the first writer tags multiple people in a story thread and tries to push the story ahead, while at the same time giving those people a chance to fill in the gaps and push the story ahead in a cooperative fashion.

I think my greatest lessons from that process were both practical and social. I learned the great value in working with other creative individuals. I also think learning to let go is a very difficult process for some authors, for their words are sacred to them. My stories are my creations, my work put into the world – to have someone change that in a way I can’t predict or control is frightening! You don’t realize how attached you are until you hand something over to another and have no clue what they will make of it. It’s very hard to get used to that.

The even more important lesson I learned was how powerful words can be for us. Language is our way of bonding with others – friends, family, and love are created through language. That person you see every day on the subway or the bus may not mean as much to you as someone you have written with or talked with. Those words and the emotions behind them mean something. One of the writers I found to be an incredible blast to work with, and with whom I spent probably four years working, let me and a few close others know he had a terminal illness. I had never met the man in person; we had simply emailed and written back and forth for just a few years – but the loss of his presence and words really struck a chord with me.

Empires Awakening is the grandest story I have created yet. This is the largest world, with the most characters, and is a culmination of many different creative threads I have had dancing around inside my head for a decade. The biggest thing I want people to know see is my desire to bring them a glimpse of something wonderful. I will always take my time and craft a world or a place that strikes a reader with its beauty, its presence, and even its emotional toll.

Anyone who comes to my table at the Summer Author Event will be guaranteed an exciting and open, spoiler-free conversation. I am very friendly and want every reader to have the chance to be given a way out of reality for a short time. Hopefully, however, not for the same reasons I needed to escape. A few minutes witnessing beauty through the words put to page is something everyone could benefit from each day.

Matthew Cerra, author of Empires Awakening

Read and follow Matthew’s blog: http://zombiefear.blogspot.com

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Laura

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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