Category Archives: Marketing a book

All about the experience of marketing a book.

Marketing a Book #10 – Promoting Your Book and Yourself

20150523_162505 (2)Book Facts and Fantasy

I haven’t posted to this blog for a while. Since my last post there have been a few experiences related to book marketing worth writing about. The first relates to book signing opportunities and the second to direct to the public marketing at a market type event.

An author signing sounds like a terrific opportunity at first for the novice writer with his first book in print. In my case, the book is a creative non-fiction work. The opportunity was provided by Indigo/Chapters in Canada. I won’t name the bookstore branch since it is irrelevant to what I have to say. The store and the manager were most accommodating and welcoming, so that is not an issue. The issue is the reality of the bookstore as a venue.

I believe I stated in a long ago post that the idea of writing a book was daunting for two reasons; the enormity of the task, and the massive number of books available for the buying public to choose from. It was clear from the beginning that I would be fighting for oxygen the whole way. Not only are there vast numbers of books in print but there is an even larger ocean of eBooks in this world. All of those books are competing for the reader’s dollars before you put pen to paper.

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Book signing display

When you have a book signing scheduled many factors influence the possibility of making a sale, particularly when you are essentially an unknown quantity. So the first reality is no name, no fame, and no line up of people wanting to talk to you or look at your book. I did sell one copy to an interested reader, and had a few good conversations with a few individuals, but that was the sum total of the action during two four-hour intervals on different days. Perhaps the writer of a niche non-fiction work should be pleased with that outcome, but I’m a novice at this, so that’s just a guess.

The people who visit a bookstore usually have a book, or specific author in mind. This chain of bookstores is big on quality, unique, non-literature gift items as well, which is a big draw. The gift buyers are not there for books at all. There is also a Starbucks on site, so there are some people who pop in for a copy of a magazine or a newspaper and a coffee. Even on a great store traffic day, the probability of having people come over to your table is very small. You might as well be “the Invisible Man.” In fact, if I were an invisible man who had written a book, it probably would attract some attention. I was just INVISIBLE.

The other thing to consider is the “Consignment split”, which can be as little as 30% to the store. Stores in this chain take 45% of a sale. That’s not a problem, it’s just the cost of having space made available for your event. I suggest taking advantage of an opportunity to have an in-store event. You might get some leads and make some contacts with the public.

Direct sales are the best way to earn some money from your book. Copies can be ordered from the publisher at a significant discount. The Canada/US Dollar exchange rate was much better when I bought my copies. With the current exchange rates, the cost to the author increases. If I sell a book for the $CDN equivalent, the cost would be close to $30 a copy. I have been selling my books as if the $CDN is on par with the $US. Since my copies were purchased at about $13.22 CDN a copy, my profit is $8.78 a copy, so 10 copies net me $87.80. At the current exchange rate, my net gain would be about $1.00 less per copy or $77.80 net.

I decided to try direct sales to the public at a Christmas Market held at a popular location during the last weekend of November. The cost of a 2.5 x 4 sq ft display space on a covered table top was $220.00 + Taxes, $245.00 total. I needed gross sales from 11 books to break even. I sold only 8. That’s the downside of my experience. The upside was the number of public interactions I had over those two days. Not only did I make some important contacts through those interactions, but I was also able to affirm the validity of my plan to offer guided autobiography/memoir writing workshops at different venues in the coming year.

Book display for November show.

Book display for November show.

The number of books one might sell at a venue is limited by two factors; the audience for the sale and the cost of admission to the venue. This Christmas Market was held at a Botanical Garden and the emphasis was on Christmas displays, a model train display, and a ride on a miniature railway through a lighted garden. Most of the people attending were families with small children who had already paid an admission fee to enter the gardens. Definitely not my target audience.

There were some older individuals that were members of the gardens and entered the site free of charge. They were few in number, but accounted for almost all my sales and for most of the interactions providing good leads. I was also able to get my business cards distributed to a wider audience. I have already booked sales tables at two additional shows for 2016, but this time my target audience is assured. The shows are for seniors titled Forever Young. In addition to the sales space, I was able to pay a small fee to guarantee a corner table spot and reserve a 20-minute slot to make a presentation. There will be between 1400 and 1600 senior citizens in attendance at each show, which are 100% within my target group.

Just one more thing… You are going to have to spend a bit of money to reserve these sales locations so choose the event wisely.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

www.lalanweiss.com and www.lensofemptiness.com , and perhaps like my fan page at www.facebook.com/lalanweiss

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Marketing a Book #9 – Learning About Social Media

 

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Learning About and Avoiding the Block Hole of Social Media

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. I could have written this post several weeks ago, but I wanted to collect my thoughts about my time working with a Social Media Consultant.

I bought twelve weeks of time and expertise in the area of social media sometime in late March. My goal was to learn what I could about using social media and how it might be useful to me. I was primarily interested in Social Media as a tool and secondarily in using it to market myself and my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment. Although I had Twitter and Facebook accounts, I did not grasp the utility of either. I needed some hand holding through these media avenues and an expanded awareness of what else was available to me in the way of social interconnections.

At the outset, let me say that the overall experience of working with my social media consultant was excellent and exceeded expectations. My “expertise” in using social media, if I can call it that, is now limited by experience and time.

I learned about Facebook and Fan Pages (www.facebook.com/lalanweiss). I learned to make better use of Twitter (@LarryWeiss3) and particularly http://www.hootsuite.com, which I love to use. Also, I attained another blog as part of my author site www.lalanweiss.com and have just repurposed my original website, www.lensofemptiness.com, to advertise my services as a public speaker and workshop provider.

I now have a more complete author platform to work from and have more to so. I had no allusion about the benefit my new and expanded understanding of social media might have on book sales. In fact,there is no way of predicting the effect of using social media to promote a book or a service on its own. The fee I paid for my consultation and support was an educational fee, and worth every dollar spent. Without that support, I would still be wondering in the wilderness that social media can be to the uninitiated.

Social media can also become a black hole, sucking up many hours each day until little is left for meaningful writing time. My hiatus in posting to this blog is a case in point. I had several strands running through this blog at the same time I acquired my second blog related to my author site. There is also my Twitter feed on topics of interest to me that are unrelated to my book, which I needed to maintain, and regular posts to my fan page. I have also joined a few interest groups through Facebook and needed to keep up with them. It was really hectic for a while until I remembered some same advice I received years ago; practice selective abandonment.

Selective abandonment does not mean abandoning things you want or need to do forever, only for the moment. An individual can only work efficiently on one thing at a time, particularly if the things to do relate to writing. Different blogs for different purposes and different audiences require different frames of mind for each. In addition, work on a new writing project at the same time adds insult to injury, so selective abandonment is the order of the day.

At the moment, I find social media more interesting than useful, and more time consuming than I would like. I’m looking for the middle way between the Yin and Yang of Entropy and Order and gradually finding it. As in all things, everyone needs to find their own way around the world, including the world of social media. I paid for a guide and he taught me the signposts and showed me the pathways. If any of my readers are wondering in the wilderness of social media, I highly recommend hiering a guide for a while to get you on your way.

Until the next post, your faithful blogger,

L. Alan Weiss (Larry)

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Marketing a Book – #8 Public Speaking

Marketing a Book – #8   Public Speaking

probusIn my last post, I blogged about a book signing experience then ended by announcing an invitation to speak to a chapter of Probus, an association of retired former Rotarians. That event occurred on June 15, but it took some time to reflect on the experience. This was the first opportunity to present elements of my writing to the public as a presenter and merited considerable reflection. rotary

The invitation came as the result of an interview published in our local newspaper, which was the subject of an earlier post. The request was fairly specific, asking for a presentation on how I wrote an autobiography. The presentation had to be focused and address some specific points in one hour.

· What motivated my writing?

· How was the work of writing structured?

· How was the content generated and developed?

The venue was small and the audience numbered about twenty-five individuals. A PowerPoint presentation was saved on my hard drive and backed up in Dropbox. The hall was equipped with a newly installed 42 inch flat screen television with HDMI input ports, on screen instructions and a person in charge of the AV equipment with a minimum of knowledge about the system was there to help me set up. In fact, today was the first time it had been used in a presentation like mine.

I knew that AV equipment always needed setup and every system was different, so I arrived at the hall about thirty minutes prior to the time my presentation was to start. By the time, zero hour arrived everything was connected to my laptop and few PowerPoint slides prepared to illustrate the presentation were set at the introductory slide. I was ready to launch.

The presentation was titled, A LEGACY OF EXPERIENCE: Memoirs Speak Across the Generations: What do You Want to Say and to Whom? It touched on all the points as per the request, but also included some basic ideas about memory in general and autobiographical memory in particular. It was equally important to explain the nature and origin of self-image and self-esteem, two factors which influence how we remember the events of our lifetime.

Since my audience was essentially Caucasian and Christian and much of my writing is informed by basic ideas in Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism, it was important to explain the elements of those philosophies which shaped my thinking and writing. This audience, and perhaps most audiences I might face, need to see a shift toward Eastern philosophies as a move toward fundamental human values, not a repudiation of their fundamental belief system. The last thing one wants is to offend his audience, an issue that occupied my thoughts as I prepared for this event.

Once the basic concepts and philosophies supporting my writing were stated, the remainder of the talk focused on a structured approach to memoir writing. The concept of building an autobiography on the symbolism and structure of a Zen style garden was carefully unfolded for the audience. Each of the six elements found in such a garden was explained in terms of how it relates to the different aspects that form the narrative of a lifetime. In Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, I use this specific structural organization and symbolism to document my own life narrative in order to illustrate how that structure is applied in practice.20150523_162505 (2)

Years of experience in the classroom hones one’s observational skills. It is possible to gauge the interest and focus of an audience during a presentation (lesson) by body language, and following it by the number and quality of questions and interactions from the audience. One also learns how to pace the rate of speaking, modulate the voice, and move smoothly from the front of the hall into the audience and back again as needed to maintain contact with the audience. The power and efficacy of a presentation is also enhanced by appropriate eye contact and through the body language of the presenter.

An experienced presenter, like an experienced teacher, carry an evaluation rubric based on the above points in their head. Also, they become adept evaluators of their own behavior as a presenter (teacher) while they are speaking. While it may appear immodest to the reader, I felt pretty good about the whole event based on an evaluation of my behaviors, presenting style, and audience reaction before and after the presentation. I am comfortable making this judgement since, as a teacher, I always told my students that “I would fail my own mother is her performance warranted it”, and have always rated my own performance by a rigid and high standard.

After eight years in retirement, one always wonders if they still have the skills that made them successful as a presenter of information. This first event in my new life as an author and public speaker was an important one. I learned “I’ve still got it,” whatever “IT” is and am confident there is a future for me as a public speaker. At the age of sixty-nine (this August) an enthusiasm to make new beginnings and take on new challenges not only exists but thrives. My next challenge is to generate some more opportunities to speak publicly. I’ll let you know how that works out in a few months.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

http://www.lalanweiss.com

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Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

The long awaited first book signing event has come and gone. If life has its anti-climactic moments, this was one of them.

I contracted for the book signing event at the end of March (’15), about five weeks after the official release date of Through a Lens of Emptiness. 20150523_162505By then, the first available in-store event date was May 30th, not exactly prime book shopping time, but not the worst. At least it wasn’t a date in mid-July when most families are on vacation and the store will be essentially empty. As I was soon to learn, along with the time of year, the weather is another important factor in modulating the number of people frequenting bookstores on a given day.

The weather forecast for the day of the event predicted an advancing cold front with the possibility of heavy rain and thundershowers. The only question was timing. By noon on Saturday, May 30th the cold front had not yet arrived. It was generally a warm sunny Saturday on the last weekend in May and the traffic in the bookstore would likely be sparse. Unseasonably cold with drizzle would have been better. However, hope springs eternal and a positive frame of mind was the order of the day.

The signing was scheduled to begin at noon and last until five. My table was set up near the store entrance and ready for visitors by 11:45. 2015-05-30 13.20.48Over the span of the event, I spoke to three people, one of whom bought a copy of my book. I’ll discuss those contacts later in this post, but first here are some observations about book signings that may be useful to the reader

1. When traffic in the store is low few people will come over to your book signing table.

2. When you are an unknown author, don’t expect too many visitors.

3. If your book is a non-fiction niche item, it might not draw much attention without a clever attractor.

4. Most people who come into a bookstore have a specific target book or genre in mind and will search for that target rather than investigate your offering.

5. Those who come over to talk to you usually have a leaning toward the content of your book already.

6. There are many books for the bookstore visitor to consider and distract him or her from your book. The only difference is that you happen to be standing near your book, but it is no different from the bookstore browser’s point of view.

7. Another negative for signing event relates to what else is available for purchase in the store. If it has many gift items available for purchase as well, they will be a distraction for sure.IMG_20150530_203025

There were three interesting visitors to my table that afternoon. One visitor was a regular follower of Buddhist teachings and was attracted to the word Emptiness on the book’s cover. She actually bought a copy and took a business card with her. Before leaving my table, she spent some time talking to me about the importance of mindfulness in everyday pursuits. The second visitor talked a bit about the book and took a business card and exited the store. She was observed contemplating my business card and returned for further discussion, but did not purchase a copy at that time. The final visitor talked with me a bit and was also interested in the fact that we lived in the same rural neighborhood.20150530_203854

It doesn’t sound like a very productive book signing, but I got more out the afternoon than the sale of one book. The person who bought a copy of the book suggested another well-established independent bookstore where a signing event was a possibility. It might also be possible to couple the signing event with an author talk. The individual who gave my card and book such careful consideration suggested that a nearby regional library system might accept the donation of a copy of my book and give me the opportunity to speak about it too.

I also appreciated the chance to face the public and field some simple questions about my book and refine my answers. The traffic was light so there was ample time to review each interaction, the sense of the question and the strength and clarity of the answer. By the end of the session, I had a clear vision of the best phrases to describe Through a Lens of Emptiness.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about a journey of self-discovery in search of contentment.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about building a legacy of experience, wisdom, and insight to share with others.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness looks back at the meaningfulness of a lifetime.

When one is engaged in the process of writing, being able to step back and view your work dispassionately and critically is essential. The same is true for understanding the dynamics of interacting with the public and presenting key points related to your book as simply and succinctly as possible. As the marketing process progresses, there will be more, and hopefully better opportunities to present in public. I intend to seek those opportunities as much as possible. As I write this post about my first book signing, I am already seeking to book a second in the fall. I hope to schedule one in late November or early December when books are on the gift lists of many, the weather is not so nice, and the bookstores are full of people.

I have been fortunate to receive an invitation to speak to a group of retired professionals about my book. They are interested in the legacy aspect of my writing. I will blog about that experience too.

Until the next time,

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author – Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Please visit my author website and my Facebook fanh page too.

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Marketing a Book #6 – A First Author Interview in Print

Marketing a Book #6 – A First Author Interview in Print

I was excited, and just a bit nervous to see the interview article in print. How would the photo of me holding my book look? Would the sense of the interview be reflected in the text? Those questions and others were answered this past Friday (May 8) when my first author interview appeared in our local newspaper, the Flamborough Review. FlamboroughReviewThe photograph was fine, and the published interview was fairly written and of reasonable quality. Over the years, my editorial eye is often cast on text as I read, so when I say reasonable, it is in the context of my editing methodology. It is quite an experience to be the subject of someone else’s writing and editing.

I’m still living the life of the début author, virtually unknown as a writer, with no established readership. This interview was guaranteed to happen since local authors are always interviewed. The interview was conducted at a local coffee house in Waterdown, Ontario about four weeks ago and finally appeared in print. A link to the article appears below.waterdown-ontario-historic-core-area-resize1[1]

Waterdown is the largest town in Flamborough, but it is still a village in style. Most of the rural residents of Flamborough receive a copy of the Review gratis, along with lots of local advertising. They are full of information about what’s on sale at stores in the area and lots of coupons for the food markets. Everyone else needs to purchase a copy if they want one. The paper has a circulation of 10000+. It is impossible to know what proportion of its readers actually read the paper from front to back.Waterdown's_Pub_The_Royal_Coachman[1]

If you have been following these blogs on marketing a book, or have just chanced upon this post, I hope you will click on the link at the end of this post and read the actual article. I would appreciate any comments you might have regarding it. .

I’m thankful for having had two opportunities to be interviewed. This recent article, like the Cable 14 television interview, reaches only limited numbers of people. However, even though the audience is limited, each opportunity gave me the chance to experience an interview based on questions generated by others. It is interesting to hear what interviewers choose to ask, and equally interesting to answer each question sincerely.

shoutingSince I act as my own agent, I continue attempting to generate additional interview opportunities and look for ways to present myself to the public. Currently, I’m working a few more angles to land interviews and a few public speaking opportunities (that’s the literary agent persona speaking), while the author persona tends to shy away from aggressively seeking publicity.

Kermit the Frog says it best, “It’s not easy being green… ” In my case, it’s not easy being a “green” author with no public profile and as yet, undiscovered by his audience.

The interview can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/qzxhud6. Let me know what you think of the published interview in the comment space below. If you have had a similar early interview experience, I’d like to hear about it too.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author – Through a Lens of Emptiness  –   www.lalanweiss.com

Please visit me at my fan page http://tinyurl.com/mz3tsoz

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Marketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

steeplearning2lMarketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

I began working with my social media publicist about seven weeks ago. The first few weeks were dedicated to organizing the campaign to come. This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the official relationship between the publicist and me, and I find myself climbing an ever steepening learning curve week by week.

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Holy Moly, this is really steep.

Each successive week’s session begins with a review of progress based on the previous session and then we move on to a new topic. The first session focused on blog and twitter strategies, The second week focused on Facebook and the third on differentiating the role of a personal Facebook page and a fan page. This week we will look at Hootsuite: mechanics and strategies, and how to incorporate Sway into a strategy. I have been working away at building up a LinkedIn presence at the same time.

The only way one can learn about social media is to work with it. In my case, I’m a generation or two out of step with how these various social media channels function. I’m learning a great deal and making some progress, but I often feel like I need to catch my breath. Even this post will become a Twitter and Facebook entry because that sort of thing is the essence of social media strategies. I’ve also signed up for something called classmates.com with the intent of connecting with people I knew in the past. So far, I have linked up with one individual and started a conversation.

Trying to stay on track

Trying to stay on track

Social media coaching is certainly beneficial, particularly for a novice. It is impossible to say how effective social media networking will be as a marketing tool, but I certainly believe I’m getting the word out about my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life. Longevity and Contentment through many channels. Some individuals may even become familiar with my Nom de Plume – L Alan Weiss, part of my regular blog post sign off. I’ll continue to blog on my book marketing experiences as they unfold, including any progress made in the area of social media.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author

Please vista me at www.lalanweiss.com or on my newly created Facebook fan page

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Marketing a Book #4 – A Very Public Interview

My first television interview was aired at 5:30 PM on April 2nd on Cogeco’s Cable 14 – Hamilton, Ontario. I had been interviewed for employment many times, but never publicly, and never about something as personal as an autobiography. The overall experience gave me confidence and prepared me for my next interview to come, with a reporter from a local newspaper, The Flamborough Review. Here’s a bit of background information just before I launch into a critique of the interview.

In my last post, I explained that the recent TV interview came about through a chance meeting with the host of the show, who just happened to be someone I knew. That was a bit of good luck. Being interviewed by someone you know increases the comfort level of the whole process. We worked together more than twenty years before and got to know each other well enough then. He was the principal of a high school where I was Head of the Science Department. Although we hadn’t seen each other for years, and contact was limited to one congratulatory email when the host was elected mayor of Hamilton, when we reconnected everything fell back into place.

The show’s host met with me for about an hour prior to the day of the interview. During that meeting ,he engaged me in discussion and posed some general questions. At the end of our meeting, I gave him a complete bio, a brief synopsis of the book’s content, and a copy of the book itself. The interview was scheduled for the next afternoon when it would be recorded live to tape.

The interview went smoothly and I was relaxed. It really helps when you are being interviewed by someone who knows you. Nevertheless, his questions were probing. The taping was for a half hour show and that was to be the length of the interview; no retakes, no editing, and no chance to misspeak. My goal was to answer questions fully but succinctly, not use too much in the way of gesture, and mind my posture. Although I think everything went well, the proof will be in the viewing.

The setting: Our family room at 5:30 PM on Thursday, April 2, 2015

The viewers and reviewers: My wife and I

The interviewer: Larry di Ianni, retired high school principal, former mayor of Hamilton, Ontario, and a host of a weekly current affairs program in Cable 14 – Hamilton, Ontario.

The interview subject: L Alan Weiss – retired Special Education Specialist, début author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

The questions posed suggested that the Interviewer had read the material provided, read selected sections of the book, and prepared a set of probing questions. His demeanour was relaxed and friendly, which put the Author at ease.

The Author seemed relaxed, but a bit stiff in affect. Perhaps I was more sensitive to this perceived stiffness than others might be. We are often our most severe critics.

The Interviewer spent the first ten minutes or so asking questions related to the Author’s life story based on the autobiographical section of the book. Why did you immigrate to Canada in 1968? What was it like to be separated from family and home? Why did you pursue a career in teaching after training for a career in research science? Why did you decide to write a book? The remainder of the interview focused on the book and the Author’s intent in writing it. Why did you select a title (Through a Lens of Emptiness) that uses a word, Emptiness, which has negative connotations for most people? Can you explain Taoism for our viewers? How do Zen Gardens fit into your book? Your book is also a memoir about the process of writing an autobiography, could you tell me about that.

The Author responded to all questions with candour and relatively succinctly. The initial stiffness rapidly gave way to a more relaxed demeanour. He answered questions related to personal choices and potential conflictual feelings directly and without hesitation. The Author (me) did not shy away from positions that might be contentious, but tempered his language in all cases. He seemed prepared to answer questions, knowledgeable about the content element of the book, and demonstrated his knowledge of related material in a confident but humble manner.

The viewers, my wife and I, thought the interview went well. My wife is my most trusted critic. She knows me like no other individual and would tell me if it hadn’t gone well without hesitation. I was satisfied with the overall result too. Although my answers were direct and to the point, there were times when they might have been briefer. It was a terrific first experience all-in-all. I’ll stop here before this post, like some of my interview answers, becomes too long.

I came away from this experience with the following insight:

· I can give a credible public interview performance.

· I might spend more time on talking points and possible questions related to my life story, which was probed more than I thought it would be.

· I came across as sincere and modest, but answer questions comfortably.

· The interview was successful because of the preparation of the interviewer and the way questions were asked.

· Not all interviewers are equally skilled and may not be as friendly, so be prepared for the unexpected.

· When you ‘put yourself out there’ answer all questions with conservative candor.

· If you can’t stand by your words and thoughts, you shouldn’t be in the hot seat.

My next interview will appear in print. The words of the interviewer and any quotations are more permanent than the fleeting words of a TV interview. It will be another interesting experience, which, of course, will become the subject of a blog post in this series on Marketing a Book.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Did you have a first experience interview? How did you react? Please comment….

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

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Marketing a Book #3 The Mysterious World of Publicity and Publicists

Writing a book was challenging. Bringing it to the point of being published was a matter of time and mechanics. Seeing the book as a finished product was more exciting than I thought it would be. The next part of this author’s journey was going to be a challenge. The established author with a following sets off on this part of the journey ‘with a song in his heart and a bounce in his step’. The début author has another experience altogether.

The unknown and untested author (that’s me) has a target audience in mind which he wants to reach and not much more than that in his kit bag. He takes his first steps on a path into the unknown world of ‘putting himself and his work out there’. He walks cautiously as if he is about to walk through a minefield while marching over a bed of hot coals at the same time. On either side of his path are thousands upon thousands of books on bookstore shelves and an endless array of eBooks all clamouring for the attention of a prospective purchaser. He is in dire need of some handholding and a soothing security blanket at that moment. ENTER THE PUBLICIST!

In my case, the publishing package purchased included some great materials, like posters and business cards, flyers and bookmarks. The materials I received were beautifully prepared and gave me a professional set of publicity material. Everything was printed clearly displaying the book’s title and some distinctive portion of the book’s cover in evidence along with the necessary information to purchase it. This was the beginning of branding a newly minted author, L Alan Weiss (me again), and his book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

My book looked great and those publicity materials had a very professional look and feel about them. However, it is up to me to make the best use of these materials as I can. I’ll get to my adventures as a self-publicist in a bit, but first let’s talk about some serious handholding and a comfy security blanket that came my way; not for free, of course. Nothing is ever free, but some things are definitely worth the expense.

Publicists come in two flavours; one works for you and comes at a cost, the other costs nothing but the author’s time and energy. I chose to purchase the services of a social media publicist to help me make the best use of that intricate and powerful domain of human interactions. Social media has such potential, but I lack the sophistication to make the most of it. I’m just guessing, but my social media publicist is probably 35 to 40 years younger than I, which is just perfect. He’s sure to be knowledgeable about the social media domain. He sounded enthusiastic and interested in helping me as best he can.

I purchased a twelve-week package of support, including an audit of the social media elements I already use and a social media campaign prepared during the first week of our association. Over the remaining eleven weeks of the campaign, he will monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and make appropriate adjustments as we progress. In the end, I will receive a final report on the campaign. I will report on the experience, to you my followers and readers, in the form of a post on this blog.

The real adventure in publicizing my work begins as I act as my own agent, my own ‘boots on the ground’ publicist; an impossible task without two crucial happenings. The first was so unexpected that I can only use the word “kismet” to explain it. About four months ago I was meeting with someone over coffee at a local café, when a person from my past recognizes me and stops to say hello. In the course of our brief conversation, he asked me what I’d been up to since retiring, so I told him I had been writing a book which was close to completion. “That’s interesting”, he said.

This man, who was the principal of a school where I had taught in the early 1990’s, now hosted a weekly half hour show on local cable television. He said, “Keep me updated and let me know when it is in print, I’ll interview you on my show.” And so it has come to pass that on Wednesday, March 25th the interview was recorded live to tape, for broadcast on April 2nd. What a great opportunity for me to get my agent/publicist’s feet wet. See what I mean by “Kismet”. I’ll write a review of my interview in the next post in this series.

The second happening was born out of the social media endeavour. The agency that provides the service had me complete an extensive questionnaire, including many items that forced me to discuss and describe my book in a number of ways. The effort put forth in completing the questionnaire yielded enough material for me to produce a good press release document. Hopefully, that document will generate a few more interview opportunities and some local speaking engagements.

My life as an author/agent/self-publicist will certainly provide material for more blog posts at the very least. I will continue to update my followers and new readers on my adventures.

Until the next post . . .

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

Are you working with a publicist? What is your experience?

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Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Wouldn’t it be great to come up with a concept as neat as Lemony Snicket. Of course, that idea reflects the genius of David Handler. It is up to others to come up with their own ideas for a great and entertaining series of books in the genre of their own choice. There is one product of David Handler’s thinking that we might all copy without fear of copyright infringement. That idea was expressed in an article by Sarah Shaffi in the Bookseller ( http://www.thebookseller.com/news/lemony-snicket-urges-authors-connect-indie-bookshops Oct. 16, 2015)

In the article, Shaffi relates Handler’s ideas on using indie bookstores to market your book, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Obviously this is just one of several marketing techniques planned for my campaign to sell copies of my book Through a Lens of Emptiness. In Marketing a book #1, I already discussed using Google Ads and Social Media to get my book some profile. Here’s how I plan to implement Daniel Handler’s idea.

I have already approached my local independent bookstore, Pickwick Books in Watertown, Ontario, with the idea. I have asked them to give my book placement in their shop in return for free advertising on my personal website. The plan is for me to provide a few signed copies of the book for sale in their store, and for me to share the profit on the sale with them. Since I can get copies of my book at a discounted rate, and can set the sale price for those copies as I wish. This arrangement is a win-win for Pickwick Books and for me every time a book sells.

Working with my local independent bookstore is logical but clearly only good for moving a few books. To make this a viable plan of action, I’ll need to line up as many independent bookstores in as broad a geographic region as possible. Not only will this take some effort on my part, but also some thought as to how to approach a bookstore with the idea and how to select the stores I want to approach. The number of books I purchase at a discount from the publisher is limited by the resources available to me ($$$$ + time + proximity). Because of these limitations, I need to establish some meaningful criteria to guide my choices.

These are the criteria I will apply to selecting which bookstores to approach:

1. The store needs to have a good location and regular clientele.

2. The bookstore should be relatively well established.

3. Use the post office and a phone call to introduce myself.

4. The owner of the bookstore should show some interest in the content of my book.

5. The bookstore should be within one to one and a half hours drive from my home.

That’s the plan and this spring is the launch date. I’ll keep my readers informed about the efficacy of this plan as it unfolds. I thought Lemony’s Dan Handler) idea had real merit. My only innovation re his suggestion is to provide free advertising for each bookstore participating in my plan on the web.

Until my next post, as always your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) –
Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Visit my author website at http://www.lalanweiss.com

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Marketing Services – Books Don’t Sell Themselves

Marketing Your BookBuying Marketing Services – Books Don’t Sell Themselves

The publisher, iUniverse, has published my book. They provided all the editorial and production service covered by my publishing agreement with them and they have been most satisfactory. I have blogged regularly, posting progress reports and reflections on the processes involved as they unfolded. Now books need to be sold in a highly competitive market. An audience for Through a Lens of Emptiness is out there for sure, but the target audience for a book is both ephemeral and elusive unless an author can reach out to it. This is a daunting task for a début author, so all the support he can get in this endeavour is welcome. Unless he is particularly well connected with individuals that know the ropes, purchasing useful services are essential.

I’ve tried to build a bit of a following on my own over the last two years through blogging and the twitter-sphere. I’ll discuss that experience in the next blog post. I provide the following reflections with an understanding that which supports an author purchases are determined by $$$ available and not the desire to purchase quality services. Please note, I never name the support services purchased nor the prices paid in that everyone’s choice in services and service level will vary. The only service I will name is Google Ads, since everyone who uses the Internet knows what they are and who supplies them already.

I was informed about marketing services available to me through a marketing representative from iUniverse. These services were carefully explained to me, all my questions were answered in full, and there was no pressure or push to purchase any of them. I had time to think over the possible offerings and made my choices in my own time. The information available on the publisher’s web site provides some information about what is on offer, but direct contact with a knowledgeable individual was essential.

Google Ads looked like the best bang for the buck. This service allows me to define my target audience by age, interest, la gauge, and geographic region. The initial agreement for these ads covers the first three months of marketing. This means that for three months, informing my target audience that Through a Lens of Emptiness is available for purchase will be assured because of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

The second service selected purchases the services of an professional author publicity services to help me create a social media presence. This service is the more expensive of the two, but it is a pragmatic way of filling a big gap in my knowledge and experience. I have been finding my way through the nuance of using blogging and twitter to build an audience and establish a profile, but I still am wondering in the wilderness. Using Facebook to create an author well developed author page remains obscure. I look forward to the support I will receive and the knowledge to be gained from the experience.

The marketing ball is rolling and should gain momentum after I submit the extensive questionnaires that provide the necessary information for these service to move my marketing process along to the next stage.

In my next post I’ll reflect on my experiences with twitter and blogging.

Until my next post, as always your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness , now available through Google Books, Amazon.com, and the iUniverse Book Store.

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

Are professional marketing services actually necessary? Do you use an Twitter based Marketing services? Please comment……..

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