Low-Cost Book Promotion: How I Engage People at Book Events

Low-Cost Book Promotion: How I Engage People at Book Events

by Kathleen Watson

When my Grammar for People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips from the Ruthless watson-bookEditor came out in August 2016, I was not exactly a marketing novice; I had been in business for 27 years.

But as a writer/editor, I had worked primarily behind the scenes. In fact, I’d often say, “I work behind the scenes to make other people look good.” I built my client base on referrals.

When I published my book, I had to put myself “out there”; I had to create a physical presence to add to my digital presence. I needed to extend my reach beyond simply having a website and a blog.

Marketing my book has been a LOT of work — more than I anticipated — but meeting so many interesting and kind people in the process has been a joy. Here’s a strategy I developed for in-store book events.

Walk in the door with your book in your hand.

I secured my first Barnes & Noble author signing at the 13719 W. Bell Road location, about 25 minutes from my home in the West Valley. I walked in and asked who planned promotions. I was directed to the store manager. I told him that I was a local author who had published a book about grammar (which I had in my hand), that National Grammar Day was coming up on March 4, and that I’d love to have an opportunity to promote it in his store.

He went to his computer to see if my book was available through the chain’s primary supplier. (I had my own ISBN so I could list my title with IngramSpark as well as CreateSpace.) It popped up on the screen, and we set the date and time.

I was thrilled — and surprised how easy it was! I later found a detailed online application for getting Barnes & Noble to carry your book. Ignorance was bliss!

I did a lot of research about the many ways to promote a book and I had walked by authors sitting at tables with a supply of books spread out in front of them. I knew I didn’t want to sit at a table and hope someone might give me a glance. Here’s what I did to make myself visible and create an opportunity to engage with people.

grammar-quiz

  1. Poster to Attract Attention

A friend helped me create a 16”x 20” poster that highlighted my book cover, my headshot, and the phrase:

Let’s Eat Grandma!
Let’s Eat, Grandma!
Grammar Saves Lives!

I had it printed on poster board at Sam’s Club for about $12 and set it on a tabletop easel I brought from home. The poster is generic and sturdy, so I’ve been able to use it for every event since.

I also created a smaller sign I printed on standard office paper for that first event with “Happy Grammar Day!” and a hand-drawn red balloon. Again, I used something I had at home — a small photo stand — to display it.

  1. Quiz to Draw People In

I developed a six-question grammar quiz to give me a reason to engage with people: three examples for circling the right word and three examples for circling the right punctuation. I included the page number from the book that corresponded with each example. My name, book title, and website appear at the bottom of the quiz.

I designed the quiz, three to a page, on standard office paper and printed them in quantity on my home-office printer. When cut for use, they’re the size of a bookmark.

  1. Greeting to Set the Tone

I’ve learned to request a table just inside of and on the customer’s right of the entrance door, as I’ve observed that’s where most people walk in — probably because most are right-handed. I never use a chair; I stand so I can move around and am at a good level for eye contact. (A bar-height stool would be an option for anyone who needs to perch somewhere now and then.)

As people entered, I greeted them with, “Happy Grammar Day! How about a short grammar quiz to start your day?” or “Happy Grammar Day! Are you up for a quick grammar quiz?” or “Happy Grammar Day! Can I tempt you with short grammar quiz to go with your morning coffee?”

I have an assortment of pencils to loan, and I often position myself at the end of the table so there is no sense of a barrier between the customer and me. Although I have a supply of quizzes on the table, I can easily step out to offer new customer a quiz.

For non-holidays, I simply say, “Good morning,” or “Hello,” and invite folks to try the quiz.

Some people say, “I’m terrible at grammar!” or “I’ll probably get them all wrong.” I respond with a smile and say, in a humorous tone, “Well, maybe you need my book!” Or I say in a reassuring tone, “English is a complicated language,” preparing them to not be too hard on themselves if they don’t do well.

With families, I quickly size up the youngsters. If I think one might be at least middle-school age, which is my book’s beginning reading level, I greet everyone and lean over to establish eye contact with the kids, asking what grade they are in and inviting them to try the quiz if my guess was on target. Most are eager to participate.

I, of course, invite all ages to get involved: students, seniors, parents with small children.

  1. Converting the Quiz to a Sale

I have an answer key glued to a heavy backing with the correct choices highlighted. Offering to go through the quiz and explain why something is incorrect makes for a teachable moment. I’m able to reinforce my expertise and, I hope, my credibility.

For those who get all of the choices right or miss just one, I say, “Wow, good for you! You might not need my book, but I’ll bet other people’s grammar can drive you crazy. Maybe you have a friend or co-worker who could use a copy.”

If I sense post-quiz interest, I pick up a book and open it to show how each chapter is only two pages long and deals with just one topic. I explain that the first half is about words and the second half is about punctuation, and I flip to the index, noting that it saves time when searching for something specific.

I add that it is available as an ebook, but that most people today work on laptops, and it can be cumbersome to have too many screens open.

Because the first event was such a success — the store manager was delighted with the results — I’ve had two more events at his store in less than a year. I’ve use the poster and quiz at every bookstore event since.

Might a quiz work for you?

I’ve been to book events where authors have full-color sell sheets. They can be lovely and impressive, but I’m sure they’re more expensive to produce than my little grammar quiz, which I encourage participants to take with them.

How do you draw people to your table at book events? How do you get them to engage with you? Might your topic lend itself to a quiz or challenge of some kind?

______________________kathleen-watson
Kathleen Watson
has nearly three decades of experience as an independent business writer, serving clients in both corporate and academic settings. Her weekly blog, Killer Tips from The Ruthless Editor, offers practical word and punctuation tips, as does her recently published book Grammar For People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips From The Ruthless Editor. Contact her at: Kathy@RuthlessEditor.com.

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Bite the Bullet, Not the Bait

Bite the Bullet, Not the Bait

Patricia Grady Cox

bullet not bait

You’ve worked for years on your novel or nonfiction book. Written, researched, rewritten, edited, and polished. You’ve written your query letters to send with synopsis or book proposal. You’ve attended conferences and workshops. Networked, blogged, posted. Submitted.

And then – one day – you receive the offer of a contract from a small press. This is the most exciting day of your life. Someone wants to publish your book! It will be so much easier than having to do everything yourself!

Time to celebrate? Maybe.

First, wait. Step back. Do your research.

Bite the bullet, not the first bait that’s dangled in front of you.

There have been many stories about the perils of small and independent publishers. You can read about them at websites such as WriterBeware and AbsoluteWrite. There is a need for these cautionary webpages. There are others, I’m sure. These are just two that I’m familiar with.

Here are my words of advice for anyone contemplating signing with a small press:

  1. Do your research and due diligence. Google that publisher and then google them again. Check the webpages noted above. Check Facebook. Look for other authors who published with them, and don’t be shy about asking for information.
  2. If you can afford it (or know one or have one as a friends), have an attorney review any proposed contract. The Authors Guild legal department reviews contracts and offers suggestions for free to members of the organization. Be especially aware of the paragraph concerning termination of rights. It should be time-limited and specific.
  3. Contact the Better Business Bureau of the state in which your publisher resides.
  4. Do not assume that appearing on a panel for a national organization means a publisher or editor is legitimate. Appearance on a panel is not an endorsement or recommendation.
  5. Don’t forget, the same warnings apply to any company that offers to help you with your self-publishing!

If you want to put the time and effort into independent publishing, you can do it. There are books and blogs and organizations to help you. One, of course, is the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion group. You can get information, opportunities, and support from fellow authors through such groups. Good luck!

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Patricia Grady Cox
is a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing Trish Coxthe West. Her nonfiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and ghost-written memoirs. Patricia has volunteered at the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum where she experienced, first-hand, the realities of life in the 1800s. Her love of the Southwest – the landscape, the history, the culture – infuses her work with authenticity. Originally from Rhode Island, she moved to Arizona 24 years ago and currently lives in Phoenix. Her novel, Chasm Creek, is available on Amazon or through her website. Patricia blogs weekly at Patricia Grady Cox, Writer. Her second novel, HELLGATE, will be released by Five Star Publishing on April 15, 2018, and is available for pre-order.

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The Difference Between an Entrepreneur and a Business Owner

The Difference Between an Entrepreneur and a Business Owner

by Justin Larson, of GreenForestMarketing.com

entrepreneur vs biz owner

After several years of working with many business owners and entrepreneurs who are just starting out, I have noticed a few key differences between the two. Most people loosely interchange the terms “business owner” and “entrepreneur.” The main difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur is that an entrepreneur has an idea they want to implement and a business owner is somebody who’s more interested in their profit-and-loss statements.

An entrepreneur has big dreams and lots of motivation to get started, but waits until the right time to do it. Entrepreneurs also tend to focus on getting the product or service perfect without first testing the market.

This mentality can prevent them from getting any traction in their business, because once they implement something they think is right, they wait until they’re sure of the next “right” decision. Then they may completely change their mind on the original idea. Does this sound like anyone you know?

A business owner has great ideas, too, but executes on their ideas as soon as they come. They don’t wait to try and do it perfectly; they jump in even if the concept is not perfect and implement their ideas into their businesses. They aren’t worried about being perfect because chasing “perfect” is like chasing a mirage.

Neither the entrepreneur nor the small business owner is ever perfect – and they each have different struggles. The business owner is trying to build systems and keep everything working together, while the entrepreneur is worried about figuring out how to get started correctly.

The key is just to get started. If you find yourself in this position as an entrepreneur, my advice to you – whether you’re in your early 20s or your late 60s – would be to experiment with as many things as you think you’d like to do and try them all! Keep trying until you hit on the one thing you absolutely love to do with passion, and once you find that, get started without worrying about the right decision or trying to be perfect. Let go of any perfect standards you may have set for yourself.

done better than perfectt

On the flipside, if you’re a business owner who’s implementing and working hard to hold the system together, my advice to you is to build a team of people who believe in you and what you stand for, and fire quickly if you have a person on your team who has a negative attitude toward you or the business. These kinds of people are like poison to a business.

I hope this brings you value! I am provide daily tips/tools/tricks on marketing your business online. Please follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

___________________
Justin Larson
is a social media marketing professional. As a child, he was raised by many Justin Larsonentrepreneurs. His grandparents on his dad’s side owned a woodworking business that is now owned by his aunt and uncle. His grandpa on his mom’s side owned a construction company and his maternal grandma owned a hair salon. He helped his parents in their woodworking machinery and lumber business, doing computer work and posting products online. He even helped create their first business website. It wasn’t perfect, but he knew from that moment on this was what he wanted to spend his life doing. Now he works with authors and small business owners who want to grow their businesses. Although social media is free to use, it can help explode business growth if used properly. Visit GreenForestMarketing.com to learn more.

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Announcing Steampunk Desperado

Announcing Steampunk Desperado

by Vaugh Treude

In the early days of self-publishing, an ambitious writer could accomplish a lot on social media. It was relatively easy for an outsider to sneak into the public eye through perseverance and clever use of internet resources. Now that the field has become crowded, it’s become much more difficult to get noticed. My wife Arlys and I have not had much success at book sales despite our efforts at marketing. Rather than being discouraged, we’re trying new tactics.

I remembered a lesson from my years as an independent software consultant, which was not to cast your net too wide. A consultant should promote a particular specialty – for example, video games or cell phone apps – which gets you an initial job from a particular client, followed by possible work in other areas. Since this strategy worked well for me in consulting, I’m trying it in fiction. Though we’ve written in many areas, including theater, our specialty is steampunk, a genre of science fiction set in the Victorian era. The genre has become quite popular, in part due to the fanciful costumes and clever gadgets it has inspired.

wanted-promot

Thus our new website, Steampunk Desperado, was born. We chose this name because it incorporates the Western charm of Arizona. For the kickoff, I wrote a short story about a gentleman bandit nicknamed “The Clockwork Caballero” because of his mechanical arm. We had pictures taken of me in western garb with steampunk accessories such as goggles and old-fashioned glasses. This “Wanted” poster (see photo) was one of our promotions. I serialized the story in three parts to publish on the site, and plan to write more at a later time.

We intend to post something every day until at least the end of the year. Over the years, we’ve written about 50 short articles on steampunk themes, many related to the time_flies.jpghistory of fashion, cooking, and transportation. We’re re-publishing all of these on Steampunk Desperado, along with reviews I’ve written on more than 20 works of steampunk fiction by other authors. Every post will include a picture, and we have plenty to choose from, thanks to Arlys’ hobby of steampunk costuming and crafts. She transformed this squirt gun into a gadget worthy of an 1890s secret agent (see photo).

We post excerpts and links to each article on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Gab (a conservative-leaning Twitter.) The articles with particularly good pictures we also re-post on Tumblr and Instagram. We plan to engage reader interest by hosting contests, polls, and giveaways.

Has all this activity helped our book sales? It’s too early to tell, especially since we have been busy publishing a Halloween-themed e-book, Love at Stake, and the print edition of our steampunk adventure, Professor Ione D and the Epicurean Incident. A few months from now, we’ll report back to let you know what worked and what didn’t. In the meantime, please check out our Steampunk Desperado blog and leave a comment to let us know how we’re doing.

____________________vaughntreude
Vaughn Treude grew up on a farm in North Dakota. The remoteness of his home, with few children nearby, made science fiction a welcome escape. After many years in software, he realized that the discipline of engineering could be applied to writing fiction. Check out his works at VaughnTreude.com and look for his exciting new website, SteampunkDesperado.com, now live!

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Joe Carroccio – We’ll Miss You!

Joe Carroccio – We’ll Miss You!

by Marti Edwards

Joe CarroccioI am sorry to bear the sad news of the passing of my dear friend and coauthor, Joe Carroccio. As you may know, Joe was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. He passed away on October 6, 2017.

Joe loved to promote and write about our book, 16 in ’64: The Beatles & The Baby Boomers. When Joe first saw my unpublished Beatle photos, heard my story about starting a Beatles fan club at age 15, and learned of my struggle to present a plaque to The Beatles at their 1964 Chicago press conference, he told me that I must write a book to share with other fans. He shared his expertise with me and helped me keep my writing on schedule; we published our book last year.

Joe promoted our book at events and signings. We were invited to appear as guest authors at The Fest for Beatles Fans in Chicago this past August. However by August, Joe was too ill to attend; nevertheless, he insisted that I go. I met so many authors, spoke on presentation and discussion panels, was interviewed by a Chicago radio D.J., and met so many fans of all age groups.

While there, I was asked to place our book in a special library because we were considered “primary sources” of those times, and the book was “a little capsule of history” of that era. The library that I refer to is The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives. Joe was so happy to hear that we had achieved that success. I received a lovely letter from the Senior Director of the Library and Joe wanted me to frame it.

Being the habitual promoter, while at his assisted living facility, Joe (with the help of my husband, Mike) planned a fundraising event for ALS. Many of Joe’s jazz, blues and rock musician friends (those he had played with over the years – he played bass guitar) agreed to put on a jam session concert to help raise funds for ALS. It became additionally a “Celebration of Life” for Joe when he passed away so suddenly. His friends played with smiles on their faces and tears in their hearts. We raised more than $2,000, with money still coming in. I also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds of our book’s future sales to the ALS Arizona Association.

I will miss Joe’s creativity, tenacity, humor, wit, and dedication. He was truly a great friend and I feel privileged to have known him. Rest in peace, Joe.

“Love is all you need”

Marti Edwards

__________________________Marti Edwards

Marti Edwards is a wife, mother, artist, photographer, and writer. She is the coauthor, along with Joe Carrooccio, of 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers, about her efforts to form a Beatles fan club in Chicago and present a plaque to the Fab Four during their visit to The Windy City.

 

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The Effective Author: Heart Juice and Gratitude for Authors

The Effective Author: Heart Juice and Gratitude for Authors

© 2017 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

gratitude examined

This year, I have often had the sensation that my heart was dry. It’s better when my heart is juicy. Everything feels better and works better, in me and around me, when my heart is juicy. Relationships are better, my writing is better, and I’m a lot more productive. But on January 4, I received the long-anticipated call that my beloved mother had gone to the Great Beyond. My heart was dry. It needed juice. I wondered often: how could my heart become juicy again?

Of course my one sweet forever love, Ron, fills me and helps my heart recover from dry times. But I needed more this year. So I made coffee dates with friends whose hearts always seem juicy. Mary Eileen, who is passionate about inspiring children, was among the first on my list. Christy, marketing director for an incredible Renaissance music society, was early on my list. She both allows me and sparks me to think freely, and my words flow in new ways when I am with her. Friends like this help my heart become juicy again.

Another thing I did was spend time with animal photos on Pinterest. Seriously. An elephant reunion after 30 years filled my heart with juice. A rhino lifting a mud-mired baby zebra out of its death struggle, simply catching the baby animal with its horn and pulling the tiny zebra out – that filled my heart with juice. The baby hippo photo-bombing an engagement picture: juice for my heart. I now have 3,500 of these moving photos, saved on my Pinterest board called “Adorable.” To qualify for this board, a photo had to move my heart.

So now my heart is back to juicy. Sometimes I wake up realizing my mind is chanting “thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.” I had a perfect day yesterday, with meaningful, paying work, good food, satisfying writing and editing, a client meeting, and a professional meeting full of loving colleagues and friends. After the meetings, I drove home in my cute PT Cruiser with wonderful air conditioning, and I hung out with my amazing, delightful husband. I was – am – so grateful! It would be hard for life to be sweeter. My consciousness was so permeated with gratitude that my brain was chanting it when I woke up today. My heart was juicy again.

Albert Schweitzer said it in terms of light:

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

When our hearts are grateful, they are juicy. When our hearts are juicy, we write more fluently and creatively. When our hearts are juicy, we are grateful. And juicy, grateful hearts attract friends with full hearts, as well as juicy project opportunities. Our eyes sparkle, our smiles are warm, and we are much in tune with those around us. Life is better in every way.Peace Within Front Cover.jpg

If your heart is dry, don’t let it stay dry. Seek juice for your heart, and be grateful. Now you have a major key to being The Effective Author.

NOTE: Kebba’s newest book, Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire, is now on sale on Amazon! Be among the first to capture a copy of this full-color book that will bring you peace and uplift you all your days!

____________________
Kebba Buckley Button
is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing Kebba books 2017practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, plus Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com. Kebba’s newest book is the full-color Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire, also available through her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: calendar@kebba.com.

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Anthropomorphic Animals

Anthropomorphic Animals

by Rita Goldner

For decades I’ve had first-hand experience with anthropomorphizing animals, i.e. ant reading a bookgiving them human characteristics. I had a business making mascot costumes, mostly for fast food franchises. Whenever I could, I talked my clients into letting me design an animal mascot for them. I did the same thing with inanimate objects like hot dogs, ice cream cones and sundaes, tacos, and drinks of all shapes and sizes – with smiling faces, hands, and feet. Humanizing an object is called personification, although I didn’t know the term at the time. My agenda then was to help my clients appeal to a broader market by having a mascot that was neither gender-specific nor race-specific.

I have evolved into a different career, writing and illustrating picture books. Now my “clients” are young children, and I’m again anthropomorphizing and personifying characters in my stories. This time, my reason grows from dozens of workshops, online classes, and how-to books I’ve waded through, in an effort to perfect my craft. Most kid literature experts feel that seeing an animal character wrestling with a hard topic or coming to grips with conflicting emotions is easier for a young reader than directly addressing their own issues.

Furthermore, a non-human protagonist works well in a book that is a story-driven, action-packed adventure, because animals and personified objects can do what’s impossible for the readers to do without safety concerns, parental interference, and other boring rules and constraints. The non-human hero in a children’s book can also deliver a subtle message without sounding preachy. I, for one, feel that messages are less important than a great, fun story. Speaking of fun, animals and inanimate objects brought to life are so much more fun to draw!

This device is not new in the literary world. It was used in Aesop’s Fables and ancient mythologies, and more recently in Animal Farm by George Orwell and Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boule, for adult enjoyment. The function of literature through the ages has been, besides entertainment, to help readers validate their social norms, give meaning to their life experiences, interpret their feelings, and create a dialogue with self and friends. Ideally, they come to a better understanding of a situation or concept and adjust their own behavior accordingly. These goals are even more important for children.

The practice of using characters that weren’t people eventually found its way into writing for kids, which is where I come in. I meet my audience in person at readings, book fairs, and school visits, and get a glimpse into their topsy-turvy worlds. I think they’re relieved to see an animal or object take the risks, make the mistakes, do the socially unacceptable things, and experience the embarrassments at a buffered distance. It’s perfectly OK for my readers to laugh at an animal for being alternately annoying and annoyed, while this might not fly with a classmate.

The only real objection I’ve seen in my research of kids’ literature analysists is that authors might be disrespecting animals and their true natures. I acknowledge this potential flaw, because I’m a big advocate of respecting real animals – both domestic and wild – not using them for entertainment, or dressing them up in costumes. But I have faith in the wonderful imaginations of children and think they can differentiate between a fantasy animal and a real one, so this objection shrinks in comparison to the benefits of using humanized animal characters.

Now to get back to my delightful pursuits of illustrating the action-packed drama of a water drop, and the soul-searching self-discovery of a courageous young rhinoceros. See more of these works-in-progress by signing up for my kid’s newsletter at http://bit.ly/OrangutansAndMore.

Rita Goldner

Note: More info is available in the article: Animals as People in Children’s Literature by Carolyn L. Burke  and Joby G. Copenhaver.

________________________
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water Cycle, The Flying Artist, and Rose ColoredTo view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.

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