Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-publishing. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How's your marketing plan?

Well, anyone who is following this blog knows that you are getting a bird's eye view of one author's road to self-publication.  All roads lead to Rome.  This one happens to be mine.  And part of that journey is packing a good marketing plan.  I have talked to other authors and googled how self pubbers market themselves.  In the end, it's cafeteria style.  I pick and choose what works best for me, my personality,. my work-style.  Here are a couple steps along the way.

1.  Decide to self publish. Work with a good editor and designer
2.  Seek out venues for book signing + possible book reviewers + do book giveaway
3.  Make bookmarks to promote your book, seek out book clubs
4.  Design Evite for book signing
5.  Ask the universe for whatever karmic blessings are due to you

Beyond these steps and any others you come up with -- there is just the importance of keeping your eyes open for opportunities.  A fair amount of the marketing plan will be unplan-able.  You'll make it up as you go along.  The first step for me was deciding to self publish in the first place.  My agent sent my book around to a dozen places but when no solid offers emerged, he suggested moving on to the next book.  But I still had faith in my novel PROSPECT and I was aware that publishing paradigms were shifting beneath my feet.  During this time, because I'm a techie, I also developed a cool book trailer and website for the book.  You can see them at

At Createspace, I was lucky to work with an editor who totally got my book.  Here was the first paragraph of her seven-page critique:  "This was a strikingly original story with characters that felt human despite having specific archetypal titles such as Businessman or Orphan Teenager. Their quirks made them all empathetic and compelling, even, or perhaps especially, the antagonists. The dreamlike and poetic quality of the descriptions was consistent, creating an inner logic for the story that made things like watching dreams on a camera or empathetic painters believable. It is bittersweet, with regret and mystery at the end. It is a cautionary tale, yes, but not a parable or an allegory. The characters were alive."  The editor was also able to perceive pacing issues and missing plot points.  As I shifted from the editing phase to the design phase, I posted mockups of possible book covers on Facebook.  This allowed others to become invested in the evolution of the book.  Always a good idea.  Plus it's great to get quick feedback on these choices.

I made a list of potential publications and indy book review blogs that might be interested in reviewing my novel.  I sent out feelers to journalists and bloggers.  Not just for reviews but for features too.  I thought about possible venues for a book signing.  I kept in mind that with several Borders stores closing in Chicago -- the competition for book signing venues would become more intense.  I figured that indy book stores were my best bet.  I also decided to do a book giveaway on  I was delighted when 948 people signed up to win my book.  One Chicago paper has now committed to reviewing my book, and another is considering it.  (Which amazes me since I'm self pubbed, after all.  And I know it's hard for even traditionally published novelists to get reviewed.)  I did some author interviews for bloggers and will follow up with leads.  Two book stores have agreed to host book signings for me!  (The image above is from the Evite I'm developing for this event.)

I had heard of authors doing promotional bookmarks and that always seemed smart.  Even moreso with a print-on-demand book or e-book that is so intangible.  It made sense to me to have a bookmark with an eye-catching book cover and information on how to order my book.  The best vendor was which has built in software for laying out your bookmark.  This way you don't need to buy Photoshop or Publisher.  Over the coming months, I'm dropping off stacks of bookmarks at the many coffeehouses, community centers, restaurants that I frequent.  When I go to parties, meetings, street fairs -- I carry a stack of bookmarks.  I had them shrink wrapped in packets of 100.  I'm very social.  Also I'm familiar with members of a gay south asian org.  They have a book club and I asked if they'd be interested in reading my book.  They have added me to their list.  And a pal of mine belongs to a book club at the Book Cellar where my book is under consideration.  Of course, I am happy to attend the discussion, if they read my book and would like me to chat with them.

So now I'm designing the Evite for my big initial book signing/reading on October 26.  The gay asian organization I belong to -- -- has offered to host a post-reading gathering at a nearby restaurant which is sweet.  Let me add, in closing, that though Step 5. is "Ask the universe for whatever karmic blessings are due to you" -- it could easily be Step 1.  I happen to be Buddhist so I chant for wisdom and courage.  And I chant that my book finds its way into the hearts and hands and Kindles of every reader who can be moved and inspired and delighted by my book.  But whether you align yourself with a path of faith or are more secular -- it's always a great thing to hope for.  For me, I can't figure all this stuff out with just my brain.  There's a whole lot of luck and karma involved.  And any extra perks from the universe are always welcome!

Stay tuned for the next thrilling chapter of my journey.  Subscribing to my blog via email is the best way to make sure you get that post as soon as I write it.  On the right hand of the blog toward the top, just enter your email address.  You'll instantly get the latest updates.  And you can unsubscribe whenever you like.  If you just "follow" my blog -- you have to manually search my blog for new content.

I'm a pretty good out loud reader.  My background is as a poet so I'm comfortable reading/performing for audiences.  So I could share some of my tips of overcoming the jitters and having a good reading.  The key is to always remember that it's not about you.  It's about the audience.  It's about communicating across a great distance so they can be touched and tickled and happy that they came to your book event.  More on that later.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to a book review...

First of all, sorry I haven't blogged in a while.  I've been doing final proofs on my novel.  CreateSpace sent me the 265 pages of my novel, fully designed and formatted, for me to proof.  That comes to about 65,000 words or over a quarter of a million characters, punctuation marks and spaces to eyeball!  In four days, I went through it all and made 80 text corrections.  Sent that off and will see the next digital proof in a week.

Secondly, take a look at my beautiful bookmarks above that I designed and had printed.  Kudos to for the excellent bookmark software and printing!  I bought 1000 of them and had then shrink wrapped in packs of 100.

Thirdly, here's what I mean about the funny thing on the way to a book review.  So about 2.5 weeks ago I approached an alternative Chicago newspaper to see if they'd review my book.  I was thrilled to hear that they would.  They didn't hold my self pubber status against me.  So they asked for me to send a PDF of the Word document which I did.  But yesterday as I was browsing through versions of my documents -- my heart sank.  I got the gnawing feeling that I'd sent an old version of my book.  I contacted the critic and sure enough she confirmed it was the old version.  She said not to worry, that her review was in more "broad strokes."  Didn't know exactly what that meant.  She also said she saw I was doing a book signing at a local bookstore and she hoped to attend and say hi.  So that's got to be a good sign that she didn't have my book, right?  If she panned it, she wouldn't want to come to the reading.  Stay tuned.  I'll let you guys know what where review says when it comes out in September.

I'm still trying to figure out this blogger world.  How to grow my audience.  So let me ask you all, are you getting something of value from this blog?  Is there something more you'd like that I'm not giving you?  Would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coming into the Home Stretch...

Well, I started this blog three months ago on March 30, 2011.  My goal was to follow my various journeys.  Some of those journeys have found completion, some are in process, and one is gradually coming into the home stretch.  Does anyone else look at their life like that?  As a collection of simultaneous journeys?  It's kind of fun for me.

This journey has finally come to a happy close.  My sweet Mom passed away in 2009. After living there off and on, I decided it would be best to rent it out as a two bedroom apartment.  In May 2011 -- two great new tenants moved in.  They are young women studying animation at the School of the Art Institute.  My Mom would have loved having young artists live there.  So this journey has come to fruition.

I've met two interesting fellows on line, and have now talked to them by phone.  They have both passed the crucial phone test.  They are comfortable phone talkers. One is more outgoing than his pensive photo led me to believe.  The other is a bit of a talker but hopefully will be open to sharing.  One of them I will meet for lunch this Friday.  The other I hope to meet for a meal soon.  As fate would have it, they both called me for the first time the night before the Pride Parade.  I took that as a promising omen.  This journey is in progress.

Well, with the new income stream from have tenants in the family condo -- I have found some respectable employment as a landlord.  A new hat for me to wear.  I also started working part time for a local newspaper.  It's a special summer project to help archive decades of physical photographs to turn over to the Chicago History Museum.  It's low-stress work for a good cause with nice people.  And there are some journalist writing opportunities I can pursue there.  Having a regular part time gig would be the ideal supplement to being a landlord.  So I've never been closer to completing this journey than I am today!  In spite of this awful, unending recession.

I feel I am finally coming into the home stretch on the journey to self-publication.  I'm not sure exactly when the moment occurred where I chose to begin the journey.  I've been mulling the idea over for a year at least.  But I got serious about in at the start of 2011.  In April, I finished tweaking PROSPECT and send it off to CreateSpace, the self publisher.  On April 26, I had my initial consultation about the CS process and my book.  Three week later I got my editor Sarah G's brilliant analysis and edit of my full book, with suggestions for revisions.  Yesterday June 28, I got Sarah's great analysis on the newest scenes.  And now I'm pretty much on my own to finalize the manuscript, and move on to working with the designers of the book cover and interest.  The final stretch toward self publication.

I've also done a book giveaway on  950 strangers from around the country responded to my giveaway and the premise of my book!  I will send out 20 free hard copies of the book to the winners.  My strategy for a successful book launch in August one part marketing and one part spiritual.  I plan to do my Buddhist chanting that my book reaches every single person on earth whose life will be enriched by reading it. On the marketing side, I'm almost done creating a new website for the book -- and I've finished tweaking a great book trailer which also resides on that site.

I guess in the business world this is what is called project management.  How are your own multiples journeys working out?

P.S.  I'm borrowing an idea from fellow blogger Christine Murray who has chosen one day a week to regularly post new blogs.  I've chosen Wednesday, hump day, to do so.  Keep me honest, guys.