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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

I’ve got a lot of years under my belt and in all that time I’ve learned a little something about a lot of things. I like gardens and plants and flowers, so I’ve learned which ones like sun and which prefer shade. I know which like a lot of water and which don’t like much at all. I’ve learned which ones look good with which others and which ones look better all by themselves. That’s one area where I know a little something, but I’m not really an expert.

I’m married and have raised three kids, so over the years I’ve done a lot of cooking. I know how to make things taste good. And to keep the boredon out of the whole process, I’ve tried to get creative with lots of dishes. So, now I’ve overheard others say, “Oh Alice . . . well, she’s a very good cook.” I’m glad to know that, but I also know that Martha Stewart doesn’t need to worry.

I’ve lived in several different homes and always liked to decorate them myself. I liked doing that, because I needed to only please my husband and myself in terms of its aesthetics. I don’t really know why others compliment the finished products. I always thought they were being polite. I think I know a little something, but I don’t think I’m an expert interior decorator.

And now a new one has popped up in my life. I have gotten two emails from other authors who have recently published books. They contacted me for advice on how to market their works. Well, yes, I have spent a few years marketing Becoming Alice and am happy to say I’ve had a fair amount of success in doing so. Of course my book never made it onto any Best Seller list and I am still being bombarded by others, like myself, who are now trying to sell me their expertise. None of their books have made the Best Sellerlist either.

So, I’d like to say that I obviously know a whole lot more about marketing a book than the newly published authors do, but I would never want to sell my knowledge to anyone. You see, I am not an expert at this undertaking either … otherwise I might have made it onto one of those coveted Best Seller lists.

I must admit however that I am mighty proud of what I know about gardening, gourmet cooking, decorating, perhaps playing tennis, and the relatively large number of books Becoming Alice has sold. At least I know a little something.

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I thought I was doing pretty well understanding the internet and deciding just exactly where I’d fit in and how to use it in general. I did the Facebook and Twitter thing and discovered that it wasn’t really how I like to communicate with people, especially people who I don’t even know. Then I was invited to be friends with people who wanted to sell me something, or teach me something, or were looking to me to fulfill some other type of need of theirs … which shall remain nameless.

So even though I am still participating in social media, sort of from the sidelines, I spent more of my time writing a blog. Why? Well, I like writing, especially about things that happen in everyday life that arouse some emotion in me. Politics make me angry. Seeing a good movie or play makes me want to tell my friends. Animals bring out the “Awww” factor in me and I like to share those stories. Then there are interesting people. Yes, I am fascinated my them and play with trying to figure them out.

But now I’ve hit a brick wall again. It’s not that I don’t get enough hits. I am getting more and more hits all the time. But They are coming from companies who want to sell me real estate, insurance, or used cars. And there are a zillion people who want to teach me something like editing, or publishing, or marketing books.

So, I’ve decided to write this blog as an experiment to see who is going to read it. If you are one of my subscribed readers, please ignore this. If not, let me know why you’ve read this blog!

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Just as I was thinking that Becoming Alice was slowly making its way into oblivion, I received an email from an unknown sender. I am always hesitant to open emails from parties that I don’t know. I learned that early on when many of them were strictly advertisements and come-ons for products I had no interest in. Others were sexual. Give me a break! So, naturally I either delete those emails or report them as scam. Even then I don’t think AOL does anything to keep them from coming.

Back to the latest email I received from an unknown sender. I don’t know why but for some reason I opened it and it was adressed to me by name. It was from a woman who bought Becoming Alice from me at the Los Aangeles Times Book Festival a couple of years ago. She wondered if I remembered her. She was the lady who had with her a handicapped son in a wheelchair. Of course, I did not remember her. I talked to a zillion people that day. She stated that the reason she emailed me was that she was moved by my account of the old butcher in my story who was forced to sell his store to my parents in order to stay home and help his wife care for their mentally retarded son.

She wanted to know more about why he made that decision and not any other kind, such as institutionalization. She wondered what responsibility society has in caring for such handicapped people. She wondered if she should listen to what her friends were advising her to do. And she wondered how his situation finally turned out.

I could not answer that question but I was able to share with her my own experience with couples who have had to deal with this problem, each making a different decision for themselves. My husband had a severely retarded brother who was cared for by their parents until his mother was ninety-two, at which time she herself needed elder care. Another couple gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby and placed him directly from the hospital into an institution. Each of them made different decisions for themselves which they thought were right. My advice to her was to do whatever she thought was right for her.

In the end it is she who will have to be responsible for that decision, not society or her friends. Her last email to me was to thank me for my advice; she said it made her feel better about her decision to keep her son at home.

I never expected Becoming Alice to be useful to someone in this particular way, but I couldn’t have been more pleased.

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My mom had a saying which she used often, especially when she was stressed about not having enough time to two jobs that were of equal importance: “One can’t dance at two weddings on the same afternoon of the same day.”

I sometimes feel like that. My dad told us another story which applies to me as well. He, as a doctor, had a nurse of whom he was very fond. He said she did everything he told her to do efficiently and in a timely manner. But if he made the mistake of telling her to do two things, she became so confused that she didn’t do any one of them correctly.

Right now I fell exactly like his nurse. I spend my time being pulled in two different directions in my literary life, one is to promote my memoir, Becoming Alice and the other is to continue writing my next work which is a fictional story, based on true events.

The bottom line is that I can’t find enough time for me to spend to do either one of them justice, especially the writing aspect. Once I get going on a project, I like to keep going. I don’t like being pulled back and forth. I know I must make a decision soon or I’ll drive myself crazy. I know exactly how dad’s nurse must have felt. I don’t want to get to the point where I won’t be able to do either one of those jobs as well as I think I could.

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Yesterday the little town in which I live had its first book faire. Well, it wasn’t strictly a book faire because the OjaiBookFest allowed renters of table space to sell goods such as decorated gords, crafts, pamphlets, and what-nots as well. However, as one of the booksellers (of Becoming Alice, A Memoir,) I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The first good thing that happened was that it didn’t rain despite the fact that it had been in the forcast for a week. Actully that is only partially true since the rain started at about two o’clock sending us booksellers into a frenzy to save our books from becoming soggy piles of wet paper ready for the recycler.That left me about three to three and a half hours to mind my table at the faire. In that period of time I sold a lot of books, but even better, I had a great time.

There is a method for being a bookseller at a faire. First of all the seller must be on his/her feet. So often when I looked around at the others, I found them sitting down, chatting with one another, having coffee and a snack and completely ignoring anyone that might be passing the table. The trick is to make eye contact with the passerby … not the person who’s selling something next to you. Once the passerby has stopped, smile at him/her. That’s the first invitation to maybe say something, like “Do you want to know what this book is about?” They may smile back, shake their head, and move on. That’s okay. Or, they may approach your table. That’s when you pick up your book and say, “You can find out what this book is about if you read this short synopsis on the back cover.”

If you’re lucky they’ll say, “Wow.” Then you can add whatever else you want. In my case I say, “It is a true story.” Now your passeby is engaged and will either ask more questions or make a remark like, “Oh, I’m from Portland.” Or, they might say, “I was in the war … I was with the occupation forces … we did this and that and this and that.” That’s the kind of engagement that ends up in a sale.

The best kind of engagement comes about when the passersby stop three feet from your table. They hesitate and look at the table and your invitation to read the synopsis doesn’t move them an inch closer to you. That’s when you smile and jokingly say, “You’re welcome to come and look at this book without buying it. It’s free to look … you can put it back down and walk away and I won’t mind at all.”

Of course, you already know that these passersby, who probably were afraid of a sales pitch, bought my book.

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About ten days ago I wrote a blog entitled To Kindle or Not to Kindle based on my own experience on having received a gift of a Kindle over the holidays. Since then I am happy to say I have mastered the technology required to actually use that device.

I am so glad I did. Two days ago I received an email telling me about an article written by Dan Poynter about the changing face of book publishing in 2011. His predictions include: 1) brick and morter stores, including book stores, will continue to close; 2) ebook publishing and reading will continue to grow; 3) the book publishing business will change.

I am being made aware of the fact that everything I have learned in writing and publishing Becoming Alice will no longer be of any help to me in the future. Perhaps what I write now will not be effected by the explosion of the popularity of ebooks, but everything else I know about publishing and marketing is now becoming obsolete.

I will have to learn how to publish an ebook, who to chose as the publisher of my ebook, and how to market my ebook. I will have to read all the reviews written by those who have gone ahead of me to help me make these decisions.

When I think back to my own experience with my paperback Becoming Alice and how long each step took, I am overwhelmed. It took me three years to write my book and another three years to get it published. After that, my time went into marketing the book. Nine years! I don’t think I will be doing that again any time soon.

I have about twenty-two pages of my new work written so far. I think I will make it a novella. That should cut down a couple of years. Then I should just pick any old ebook publisher and not worry so much about whether or not I made the right choice. And lastly, I think I’ll just put it on Amazon and see what happens.

I have no idea how anyone can market an ebook. Surely I’ll have to do more research on the subject. And that would take time away from my writing the thing in the first place. Who knows, by the time I finish my ebook, ebooks might be obsolete.

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Last weekend’s experience at the Sonoma Book Festival gave me a lot to think about. In my last blog I talked about the importance of your table’s location, the need for tablecloths, and the absolute necessity for your table to be in the shade. Another thing that I came to mind after I gave it some thought, was the difference between the exhibitors themselves.

There were those who had brought comfortable chairs for themselves in which they sat the entire six hours of the festival. Some of them were actually reclining in thier chairs. When anyone stopped at their table to look at their display, the exhibitor remained in his/her chair without even getting on their feet. If there was any discussion at all, it was at quite a distance between the exhibitor behind the table in a reclining position and the visitor on the other side of the table.

Others took an entirely different tactic. They stood in front of their tables and almost looked like the barkers at a circus hired to encourage visitors to enter their tents. It seemed like the only thing missing was their holding a cane with which to hook passersby around the neck to draw them nearer.

It is not my personality to be either one of those. I merely got to my feet whenever anyone approached and introduced my self as the author. Often the visitor then would have a question or two about the book. It is exactly what one would want at a book faire.

Once a dialogue is started, I found that manay visitors wanted to tell me their stories. These stories were about some member of their family or some acquaintance who might have had a similar experience to mine. It was a connection … a connection that aroused enough curiosity to make them want to buy my book.

That is my own personal approach and I couldn’t possibly have taken either one of the other tactics, no matter how successful they may have turned out for those writers.

Luckily I had the time and interest to listen to them, like they had done in regard to me and my memoir, Becoming Alice.

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