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Posts Tagged ‘question books’

Best advice to new authors: Learn to think like a MARKETER!

For the next 8 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 21 writing prompt:

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or would advice would you offer to a first-time author?

About 9 years ago, I met a man to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude for the success I’ve had in my business. I don’t even recall how we met, but he took an interest in me and took me under his eccentric wing to teach me everything he knew about marketing – which was considerable. He’d made a name for himself in the tech industry, building and selling a few companies from his base in Cincinnati, Ohio.

When he and his then-fiancée decided to move to Phoenix, he did his research. He jumped online and began exploring all the science, technology, and marketing groups and organizations in the Valley. He was looking, specifically, at their officers and boards of directors, paying particular note to the names that reappeared across multiple organizations. Those, he figured, were the people he’d most like to get to know once he moved here. So he called them up and set up meetings with them the week he arrived. Guess what? Instant network! Sure, he still had to do the happy hours and rubber-chicken lunches, too – but he arrived already “knowing” a few key players in his field. Smart guy? You bet.

And when it came to marketing, he was equally sharp. I used to tell people this guy could take a blank sheet of paper and see 27 marketing opportunities in it, where all I saw was a blank sheet of paper. The thing is, he had trained himself to think like a marketer. Eventually, after hanging out with him for a while, spending 3 days a week with my rock-star personal trainer, and joining a business development group called Shared Vision Network, I began to learn to think like a marketer, too.

I even borrowed a tagline to that effect from James Malinchak, a prolific (and profitable) speaker on the college circuit. When people ask for my USP or what makes me different from all the other editors and self-publishing consultants out there, I tell them that I specialize in teaching my authors to think like marketers.

And that’s the best advice I can offer any author – either a newbie or one who’s been around for a while but is not selling as many books as they’d like.

LEARN TO THINK LIKE A MARKETER.

When I started this blog, I did a number of pieces about mindset – because if we’re to succeed at any venture, the most important thing is having a success mindset. So first we’ve got to give ourselves permission to market our books! Then, we have to embrace marketing and study it like a scientist in a lab.

That means watching the TV ads instead of flipping past them. It means engaging the phone solicitors and door-to-door folks who still go around the neighborhoods. It means noticing Internet ads and listening to radio ads and reading the ads in magazines and newspapers. It means tuning in to the marketing messages that surround us daily, instead of tuning them out.

The reason for this is very simple: you will only become good at marketing when you become well-versed at it and know what works and what doesn’t work.

Ask my husband what a critic I am of TV commercials. But I’m an equal-opportunity critic: I will cheer a great ad as quickly as I boo a bad one. I saw a great print ad in a magazine during my accidental computer hiatus a couple weeks ago and made him stop what he was doing to listen while I read it to him. “So do you want me to go get you some mayonnaise now?” he asked at the end of it.

The good and bad news is that once you learn to think like a marketer, your marketer’s brain is always going. Sometimes you’ve got remind yourself to simply be in a situation, without sizing up the marketing potential for your community theatre group or the PTA at your kids’ school.

How good are you at thinking like a marketer?

Do you see the natural product or industry tie-ins for your book? Are you making a list of the groups and organizations that might be a natural fit? How about the holidays – are you paying attention to which seasons or specific holidays might lend themselves to special book promotions or contests?

Please understand, however, that thinking like a marketer does not give you carte-blanche to be that guy or that gal who does the Business Card Shuffle at networking events or tries to ply their book at every turn. If the opportunity arises, certainly you will mention your book. But you won’t go out of your way to create artificial (i.e., obnoxious) reasons to bring it up in every conversation.

Learn to think like a marketer. If you’re not there yet, have no fear. Go back and read Marcie’s blog from the beginning (OK, skip the ones that just aren’t for you … but I guarantee that it’s all quite scintillating material)! And begin paying attention. Notice when ads speak to you. What about them catches your attention? Pay attention to the products you purchase. Do you know why you buy the things you buy at the grocery store or why you purchase a particular brand of gasoline (petrol for you UK types) or clothing? Which blog headlines grab you? What do they have that others don’t? Which websites do you visit? Look for product placement in TV shows and movies. Ask yourselves how those products got there and let your mind wander to the ways you could create tie-ins for your book.

For instance, 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women has nearly 100 questions that deal in some way with the topic of sex, love, and/or romance. I think a book isolating those questions is a natural giveaway or promotion for a company like Passion Parties. (BTW, did you know there’s a blog called Christian Nymphos? Tagline: Married Sex: Spicy, the way God intended it to be!)

Book marketing is not rocket science. It requires creativity, patience, and a willingness to dive in. What are you waiting for?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Continuity of branding across all your social media platforms is essential

For the next 9 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 20 writing prompt:

How are you using social media to promote your book? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps?

When you’re writing the prompts for a first-time blog challenge, you go with your instinct. That’s why there tends to be some overlap on a few of the questions, like the one about platform and the one about social media.

Interestingly, there’s been some pushback from a few authors that the prompts are too focused on marketing, but I stand by my claim that without marketing, your chances of selling books to anyone other than those in your immediate circle is greatly diminished. Authors “get tired of thinking about marketing” at their own peril. Sure, we want to do our creative thing and write our books – but let’s put at least equal energy to marketing creativity, shall we?

Social media, while not a marketing strategy in and of itself, is a component of marketing that smart authors are using to their own best advantage. According to Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, “Social is foremost a philosophy, not a set of behaviors.” In a recent podcast on Marketing Profs, Baer went on to explain that companies (or authors) miss the mark when they try to “do” social. What they need to focus on instead is being social. “The more personal, visceral, and human the story, the harder it is to outsource [content creation]. … Taking your product brochure (or book) and turning it into a series of blog posts isn’t going to be effective. Content is fire, and social media is gasoline. The easiest way to be successful in social is to be social about content,” Baer said in the podcast.

What does that mean to us, as authors? Just what it sounds like. We need to get busy being social.

SOCIAL [soh-shuhl] adjective

(1) pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations; (2) seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious; (3) of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society; (4) living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation; (5) of or pertaining to human society, especially as a body divided into classes according to status.

MEDIA [mee-dee-uh] noun

(1) plural of medium; (2) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely. Usually used with a plural verb.

SOCIAL MEDIA is content created by its consumers. Copy, images, video, music … whatever the form the content takes, it is created by the users, as opposed to traditional media in which the entire purpose of the organization (i.e., company) was the creation and distribution of content to an audience.

One of the most important things about an author’s social media promotion is continuity of branding. It is essential that authors take full advantage of all the personalization available and use the same branding across every platform.

1001RLQFW Blog

When it comes to employing social media to promote 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women, I am doing a few things. The first is my blog. The goal is to post a new question from the book two or three times a week. On the blog, I discuss the topic of the question in general terms. For instance, take Question #559: Have you ever refinished/restored something you found at a yard sale/flea market? I did research on refinishing furniture and quoted some good sources on the subject. I partner this with the 1001RLQFW Ning network.

1001RLQFW Ning Network

Ning allows its users to create specific social networks geared around the topics of their choosing.  On Ning, I address the same question I post on the blog, but I give my personal answer to the post. No – I probably won’t post every question on the blog – though some people are willing to bare it ALL, I’ve always thought there are some things better left offline. I see great promise in eventually growing Ning into a membership site, but for now, it receives miscellaneous attention here and there by people who stumble onto it.

1001RLQFW Twitter Home Page

Twitter gets a little more attention simply because Hootsuite makes it easier to manage all my various Twitter accounts at one time. I’ve loved Twitter since I first started using it because it’s so interactive. Of course, I spent a LOT of time building my personal following (which now numbers 6,024 Tweets; 3,660 Following; and 3,296 Followers). On my 1001RLQFW account, I do a few things:

  • I do the relationship management thing, responding to and retweeting other posts.
  • I also post short question-related quotes with some regularity: “You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without having asked any clear question,” by Albert Camus.
  • And of course, I post actual questions from the book, along with a photo that illustrates the topic of the question: #255. How many jobs have you had in your life? What was your favorite? Least favorite? Longest time? Shortest?

Animoto video: interview with Dr. Ramani

Other things I’ve done include a couple Animoto videos from two teleconferences I did in advance of my book launch. One was with Dr. Ramani Durvasula on the power of journaling. The second was with life coach Amy Kessel on the power of asking and answering questions. These are good people to tap for book blurbs – now that I’ve got a clear head to reflect back on it!

Future plans include a Facebook group and a Pinterest board, as well as some SlideShare presentations that illustrate two or three questions at a time.

As I suggest that my clients do, I believe it’s essential to first establish a solid presence on one platform before beginning to layer the others in. Once you’ve got several social networks working, you can leverage them to your greatest advantage by linking them to each other and cross-promoting them. For instance, you can Tweet your new Pinterest pictures and blog posts. Remember, however, that although many people are on multiple platforms, the users of each one have a unique flavor, feel, and collective personality. For that reason, you’ve got to address each audience in the way that best suits them.

Make the most out of the relationships you’re taking so much care and effort to groom and grow by personalizing your Tweets and posts!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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A peek behind the curtain at the book marketer’s marketing plan

For the next 10 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 19 writing prompt:

What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

Book marketing isn’t rocket science, and I’m not special. What that means is that I must implement all of the same strategies and planning that I share with you through this blog if I intend to build a big platform and take my book to as wide an audience as it has the potential to reach. The interesting bit is that I’ve been doing these things for my clients for years. It’s not a lack of knowing what to do; the issue is DOING it. Why does human nature so often tend to allow us to do much more for others than we do for ourselves?

Part of it is that a book is a business – and a business requires the constant feeding of time and energy if it is to succeed. If you’re self-publishing, you know this already, don’t you? Especially if you’re working full-time, raising kids, going to school, trying to make time for your partner, and juggling all the other things a 21st century woman (or man) tends to have to juggle. I’m not raising kids – but I have 5 pets. I won’t pretend they’re as needy as children, but they all have their own special issues which do take time and mental energy.

And I’m running my own business – which, if you’ve ever done it, you know requires far more than a 40-hour-per-week commitment. Throw in a blog challenge and a political volunteer stint, and you’re lucky you can type words that make any kind of sense at all.

When it really gets down to it, I have to admit I go back and forth about how important my book is, in the large scheme of things. I think it’s like anything: once I begin to get some momentum behind it, it starts to reenergize me and I’m enthusiastic for a while – but then a hiccup occurs and I lose momentum … and focus … and it slowly slides down the priority list until I realize I haven’t touched it for a month or two. Accckkkk!!! See? I’m not special. I’m just like you! (Or – hopefully not like you anymore, because Marcie’s been motivating you to take all the right steps and your book marketing campaign is rocking and rolling right now!)

So what’s my plan to grow my platform?

Well, I always have to thank my mentors. In this case, it’s my former personal trainer Scott White who gets the biggest shout-out, as he was the one who gave me the foundation for my social media prowess. He introduced me to Facebook, got me started on Twitter, told me I had to blog, taught me everything he knew about SEO (which is considerable). Now, I’ve got a really good handle on all of the above – and it’s just a matter of focusing these strategies on my book.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Having been at it for quite some time, I’ve created a fairly sizeable following on Facebook (2,427 friends). The challenge here is that I got really involved way before business and fan pages existed, so I used my personal wall as a catch-all for everything. My business page is doing pretty well with 433 “likes” – but I haven’t really done anything about creating a new 1001RLQFW page or group since the changeover to the new format. Ah … work still ahead of me.

It’s more or less the same story on Twitter – except at least I have a Twitter presence for 1001RLQFW.

Click the image twice (not a double-click) to enlarge.
Then hit the back button to return.

I do plan to create a 1001RLQFW Pinterest board that will include photos accompanied by specific questions from the book. The nice thing is that those sizeable followings on Facebook and Twitter make any new forays into social media easier, because I’m  already something of a known quantity.

I’m also working on SlideShare presentations that illustrate three or four questions at a time, with a musical background. Of course, these may overlap with YouTube – it depends on how they turn out in the final mix.

Then, of course, there is the blog, where I write in general terms about the issue the question addresses and NING, the place where I offer my personal responses to the same questions the blog addresses. BIG DISCLAIMER: It’s been a looooooonnng time since I posted on the blog. I know that. I don’t suggest you follow my lead there. Follow Marcie’s lead. We’re at something like 80 posts in the last 81 days.

WOMEN’S GROUPS

I’ve been compiling a list of women’s groups for a while now. Next up – reaching out to them to offer the book as a fundraiser – or simply to ask how we can partner for a promotion. Within my own network are quite a few women who run a myriad of groups and organizations, but Meetup is also a great place to reach out to similar groups in other parts of the country.

RADIO SHOW

This one is the furthest out, as it’s also my biggest goal. I plan to create a radio show that in some way ties all my myriad interests together – but which will, first and foremost, promote the book. While terrestrial radio is struggling, like so many formats of old media, Internet radio is really starting to catch on. I’m not sure which way I’ll go yet, so I actually have more questions than answers at this point – but this is definitely on my two-year plan.

That’s it for me and 1001RLQFW. How about you? What three things are you doing to grow YOUR platform?

Happy marketing!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Shoot for the stars when seeking celebebrity endorsements for your book!

For the next 11 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 18 writing prompt:

Who did/could you ask to write a blurb for your book? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them?

Endorsements, also called testimonials or blurbs, are statements made by people attesting to the quality of writing and the value of the content in your book. If you can get celebrities or industry experts to endorse your book, it can have a significant positive effect on prospective buyers. In marketing terms, this is called the ‘Halo Effect,’ meaning you benefit from another person’s or organization’s notoriety.

Thus writes Brian Jud, author of How to Make REAL Money Selling Books (without Worrying about Returns).

And Jud is correct. If you think about how many times you’ve seen famous folks pitching every kind of product from cosmetics to financial services on the TV machine, you probably know the value their endorsements mean to big companies like CoverGirl and Capital One. So think about what a celeb endorsement could mean to your book!

The advice I universally give my clients is to AIM HIGH. Reach for the stars, in terms of who you approach to ask to write the intro or compose a blurb for the back of your book. The worst their going to do is say no, and you’re no worse off than you were before you asked.

While it may seem almost impossible to obtain a blurb from a celebrity, that doesn’t have to be the case. The best way reach out to someone famous for their endorsement is through networking. Talk to everyone you know and see who has a direct connection or knows someone who could make an introduction for you. Of course, you want to make sure your book is a good fit for that person. It probably wouldn’t make a whole ton of sense to approach Arnold Palmer for an endorsement of a SciFi book or Rachel Maddow for a blurb for your romance novel.

Another option for contacting the celebrity of your dreams is through the mail. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to reply to your request. In your initial query, include a cover letter asking them to endorse your book. Include with it the pertinent info regarding why you’re tapping them for this particular book: the table of contents, a galley copy or sample chapters for their review. Also provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) to make it easy for them to get back to you.

Tell your celebrity up front that you appreciate them taking time from their very busy schedules, and provide sample testimonials from which they may choose if they do not have time to write one of their own.

Think about how busy you are. Even if a celebrity loves your book and wants to endorse it, it can take some time to receive a response from them. If you do not hear back from someone in two or three weeks, send a follow-up letter or email. They may have a gatekeeper screening their mail or email, so just keep at it. And wherever possible, make direct contact!

I have, to date, made one significant overture for a celebrity endorsement of 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women. My friend, Connie, attended an event where Sark was speaking and had a chance to present her with a copy of my book. She said she liked it, but was too busy writing her current book to do any endorsements at the time. That was a couple years ago, though, so I guess it’s time to take my own medicine and try again – as well as developing a longer list and getting busy!

Below, you will find a list of organizations that may be helpful in contact the celebrity you want to endorse your book:

The Screen Actors Guild represents nearly 120,000 film, television, commercial, and music video actors.

• 757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 323-954-1600

• 360 Madison Avenue, Fl. 12, New York, NY 10017 | 212-944-1030

Contact Any Celebrity claims to have a database of more than 15,000 reliable celebrity addresses. There’s a fee to join, but once you register you will receive full access to the members’ area, which allows you to search the database of celebrity addresses.

• 8721 Santa Monica Blvd. #431; West Hollywood, CA 90069 | 310-691-5466

Reel Classics, the classic movie website, provides a free list of addresses for certain celebrities that have approved the use of their contact information.

Additionally, I CANNOT and DO NOT vouch for this, but I came across an info product titled Secrets to Getting Celebrity Endorsements that claims to teach you all the ins and outs of obtaining celebrity endorsements.

Happy celebrity hunting!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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It’s a book for women – what do you mean ALL women aren’t my audience?

For the next 12 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 17 writing prompt:

Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail (e.g., childless divorced women past age 50 who want to remarry). Why that demographic? How do you connect with them to market to them?

Knowing your market is truly the key to selling books. Just as it’s difficult to market a business to “everybody who…” it also is difficult to sell books to a large, unidentified group of readers. Niching, or identifying a target audience, may at first seem counterintuitive, in that you’re scaling down and eliminating certain segments, but it’s necessary if you intend to reach the folks who will actually want to read your book. Once you know who your specific market is, you have a clue how to find them, how to connect with them, and how to build the relationships with them that will eventually allow you to sell books to them.

Sure, I might like to think all women would be potential readers for 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women, but that’s simply not true. A bit deeper a look at the content of the book reveals a more specific audience. First, this audience is a group of women who are willing to do some self-exploration and who are seeking self-growth. This means they are more than likely college educated, and have done a bit of living. A 45-year-old woman is much more likely to want to take a self-inventory than a recent 22-year-old university graduate.

Initially, I considered my target market to be college-educated women, ages 25 to 55. However, I found out as I began sharing the book with women of various ages that older women really appreciate the questions, the format, and the entire approach – so I shifted that bracket to ages 30 to 70. That’s still a pretty wide niche, though, isn’t it?

Other specifics about my audience:

  • They’ve had a wide range of experiences, or are curious about other women who have.
  • They take comfort in the fact that their experiences – regardless of how seemingly peculiar – are much more universal than they may have realized.
  • They love to gather with a group of girlfriends to compare notes and explore each others’ lives.
  • They are active, so while they may not have the time to journal, they may be willing to take time to answer specific, topical questions.
  • They are looking for an easy way to begin conversations with their partners about topics that might otherwise be difficult to broach.
  • They are likely to seek – and use – resources that further their knowledge or exploration of particular topics of interest to them.

Reaching these women is an intriguing proposition because their personal interests are so broad. They are joiners, belonging to professional and community organizations. They are perhaps less likely to be traditionally religious, but they will probably have a spiritually supportive community. They will likely be online, seeking connections on all of the aforementioned topics, as well as furthering their own personal development.

A mixed approach of online and offline strategies is, no doubt, the best way to reach this audience. I am starting with social media (FB, Twitter, and a Ning group) and a blog, as well as approaching organizers of women’s groups. It’s been a while since I touched any of these (except for Twitter), but I’m getting more and more motivated to move my own marketing campaign to the top of my priority list!

Happy publishing!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Hidden coil, eBook on CD, Create Space … a multitude of options!

For the next 13 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 16 writing prompt:

Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, or both? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing and distribution? How did you select them?

Because 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women was designed as a workbook, the most important thing when it came to printing was a format that would make it useful to the readers. Lay-flat paperback binding is, in my experience, more a theory than a reality. I wanted the women who buy my book to be able to write in it easily, whether they’re right or left handed.

To that end, it began as a spiral book.

However, the spiral setup has a couple drawbacks. (1) Spiral books have no spines, which bookstores prefer. (2) They are a lot less sturdy than other binding formats.

Our next step was a three-ring notebook format. This appealed to me for several reasons. Readers could pull out the pages (a) to take the questions in small segments, (b) to write on them, or (c) to make copies for discussion groups. It also has a spine. The drawback is that it doesn’t “look like a book.”

My goal is to do the next printing using a hidden coil technique that combines the best of both worlds.

In the meantime, I’m working on formatting the book for Kindle and also creating a paperback version, with only the questions (as opposed to a workbook format). Right now, the full 8½ x11 version is available as a PDF eBook on my website. I’ve also made the PDF available on CD, making the eBook a physical deliverable.

The whole thing is a truly indie effort, so far reliant only on a few local printers. When the paperback version is ready to go, my plan is to use CreateSpace. I know there’s been a lot of pushback on Amazon – most of it for good reason. However, after all this time, I just want to get it done, out, and released to the world.

Happy publishing!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out!

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Steve Avery … baseball fan, bibliophile

For the next 14 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge.

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Day 15 writing prompt:

Find someone you know, either online or in the real world, who is a true bibliophile and interview them about their reading habits.

This prompt was inspired by a recent conversation with my friend Steve Avery – the most avid purchaser, reader, and consumer of books I have ever met. In short, he is a true bibliophile. Steve and I have been friends for years. We met selling tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks way back in 2000, and in all the time I’ve known him, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him without a book. His house looks like what I imagine the back room of a book shop might look like, except there’s just one copy of each title.  He recently admitted to me that he’s more of a collector than a reader, in that while he buys between one and two dozen books a month and starts all  of them, he probably finishes fewer than 50 percent.

Steve was one of the first people I knew who owned a Kindle – but he seldom uses it now, because he has an iPad and an iPhone in part, but mostly because he just prefers printed books, hardbacks if he can get them. I went with Steve to the midnight release of one of the middle Harry Potter books (I couldn’t begin to tell you which number or title, but I’m sure he remembers) at a Waldenbooks up the street from his house that has long been converted into a check-cashing store.

A true sign of Steve’s friendship is that he has bought a book, read it very carefully so as not to make even the slightest crumple in a corner as he turned the pages, and then gifted it to you because you once mentioned it in passing. Almost as big a baseball fan as he is an avid reader, he’s probably got every baseball title ever printed. I always consider it a coup when I can alert him about a new baseball book or seminar before he’s heard of it.

Steve does not buy used books unless it’s a rare or hard-to-find title. If it’s not hot off the presses, he’s probably not interested. He is not only a consumer of books – but he devours book magazines and websites. His favorite authors are the father and daughter duo, James Lee Burke and Alafair Burke. The best thing he’s read recently is Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

He loves to attend signings and considers his vast – and ever growing – collection of autographed books among his most prized. The most memorable signing he attended was that of Sophia Littlefield, who was interviewed by her longtime friend, Juliet Blackwell. As Steve tells it, they threw away the script and carried on an impromptu interview for an hour which he found utterly delightful. Questions he’d most like to ask his favorite authors include “How autobiographical is your work?” and “Are you considering moving into the YA market?”

The book that most surprised Steve recently was William Landay’s Defending Jacob “because he wrote beyond the obvious end of the story.”

A history major with an avid imagination and a very funny storyteller, Steve does not fancy himself a writer at all. I think he really shorts himself in this area – but he will tell you he’d much rather read the words of a true expert than dabble at conveying a convoluted message.

He recently left me a Facebook message with a new proposition. Because he reads almost any kind of fiction but would like to get to more nonfiction titles, we are going to begin a book club of two. He’ll choose two NF titles that interest him and ask me to choose the one I’d most like to read. He’ll buy it, read it, pass it on to me, and then we’ll discuss. Like grownups. Our first assignment is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I find a moment to stop nattering.

Happy reading!

Laura

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