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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing books’

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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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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Perhaps it is because I’ve just had a dear friend die unexpectedly that I’ve been wondering about life expectancy … of anyone or anything. I know that experts are always talking about this subject as it pertains to plants, some animals, people of certain ethnicities, or those who have cancer or some other disease which may cause their life expectancy to be shortened. I know orange trees are excpected to live aboout thirty-five years. My dog, a Golden Retiever, I belive would do well to survive over ten or twelve years while a Chihuahua should live to about eighteen years. People who have pancreatic cancer are often given less than five years to live.

So I began to wonder what is the life expectancy of a book? I know that a newly published book by a traditional book publisher is marketed and advertised agressively for a year or two and if the sales don’t please the publishing house, it soon loses their interest. Without that backing, I believe many books simply die. In time falling out of print is a books’ natural fate.

What about self-published books, POD books, and books published by small presses? A major difference is that authors who do so much to get their books into print in the first place seem to me to be much more aggressive in marketing their books. They certainly don’t stick to the year or two time line which traditional published adhere to.

Another enormous difference is that they can’t really fall out of print. POD technology is such that they are printable far into the future. I am so happy about Becoming Alice. I know that she will oulive me and then … who knows what can happen?

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I’m pretty active in several social media groups. I’d been told that it would be a good idea for letting people know about my memoir, Becoming Alice. I’ve learned a lot in the process. I’ve met a lot of nice people who are doing the same thing I am, the only difference is that their book, or product as it is called, is different than mine.

On the various sites to which I belong, I’ve joined several groups, all related to my subject and interests on the internet. My friends in these groups all come to this marketing … oh, oh, I shouldn’t have used that term because we might all be kicked out of these sites … come to these sites from entirely different points of view.

I find that many of the members are selling themselves as experts in helping the rest of us to sell our products. Many more try to teach us to be successful by blogging. I’ve noticed that a lot of these products are things as diverse as beauty supply items to real estate sales services.

Some very small group seems to be promoting their books, also called products. This is where I have to register a complaint. Selling a book is entirely different than selling shampoo or insurance coverage.

I have read that we need to sell our books to target audiences. Okay, in my case that target would include many rings since the book has appealed to men and women, young adults, people interested in wwii, people interested in family relationships, people who are Jewish, or maybe not, etc. etc.

So, being unable to target my product anywhere specific, but rather to everyone, everywhere, I shall now go back to writing my next work and let the chips fall where they may.

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