How Do You Get Your Book Noticed?

November 27, 2014

Man walking in gorge
As an Indie Author, Marketing Can Seem Daunting

Whatever you find yourself doing this Thanksgiving, I hope you have a chance to be with people you care about, even if it’s just for a little while. It’s a very family time of year and I’m extremely grateful to have good people with whom to share it. I hope you, Gentle Reader, are just as fortunate.

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Note: I’ve been invited to participate in “The Giving Season: Orion Township Public Library’s Author & Illustrator Fair.” The fair will take place at the library on Saturday, December 6, between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.

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Get Noticed With Earned Media
As an indie author, marketing my own work sometimes feels like walking alone in a dark, rocky canyon, even though I understand the principle of earned media very well. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve talked about this before, and it’s not as expensive and esoteric as it sounds.

It’s actually free (or mostly so), highly credible and likely to be a viral resource that amplifies your efforts to create interest about your work. It’s also known as word-of-mouth.

It sounds simple, and it is … but it’s not necessarily easy.

First, you need to write a book worthy of sharing, which is hard enough. Then comes the really hard part: finding a way to get it into the hands of people who will spread the word.

Although the concept is simple and the dollar cost is low (often non-existent), implementing it requires time and effort.

How to Get Started?
What you’re doing at the earliest stages is building relationships and, just as you might expect, that takes time. Your focus at first should be more on discoverability than selling. Find out who your book appeals to and get to know where those people are.

By that, I mean create a marketing plan that uses the same social media sites as your fan base. Now, screaming “buy my book!” all the time is certain to turn people off, but it won’t hurt one bit to be helpful to other indie authors.

Why? You never know when that helping hand you offer will get another reader pointed in your direction.

Make Yourself a Brand
I’ve mentioned before that you need to have an author bio available … ideally several different-length versions of it … on a media page specifically for bloggers and journalists.

Be creative. It should be more than a description of your education and work history. It should show some personality and give your readers something special to remember.

Make it Easy to Buy
Your author website should also include links that are clear, easy to find, and go directly to a retailer where your work is available.

Promote Free Giveaways
Believe it or not, giving away a copy or two of your work, if done correctly, is a good way to draw attention to it. You can arrange book giveaways on Goodreads … or try joining and make a member giveaway at LibraryThing.

Why do it at those sites? That’s where the readers are!

Get Media Savvy
Try listening to AM radio stations, particularly on weekend mornings or Saturdays. Many will host a segment highlighting a local author. However, they’re not going to discover you in a dream.

If you’ve ever wondered why local media interviewed “the other guy” instead of you, I’m willing to bet it’s probably not your qualifications, knowledge or ability. It’s your approach. You have to make more than a little effort to find out who they are and develop a relationship with them.

Connect with your local media folks on the Twitter, LinkedIn, the Book of Face, or … dare I say it? … in real life. Respond to comments they make on social media, but don’t try to sell your books or overtly ask for an interview.

Just be friendly and helpful. Sooner or later, they’re going to recognize you, become curious and ask about you. That’s when you tell them about your book.

If, like me, you have far more time than advertising money, you can also find regional or national reporters by combing through the site Muck Rack.

“Consign” Your Book
It’s hard for an indie author to get shelf space in any store. Consider trying a consignment-style approach in little boutiques and galleries. Stop by the gift shop in most hospitals. Store owners may not want to purchase your books outright, but they might display them in their store for a cut of the profits.

An indie can even get into big-box booksellers like Barnes & Noble. Such sellers usually demand a 40% discount from retail and they also expect the publisher (you, if you’re an indie) to buy back books that are unsold after a certain period of time.

If you approach them with your books and they accept, be sure to immediately spread the word that your books are on the store’s shelves. A sudden rush of interested buyers may make them order more of your work.

Be Friendly
Introduce yourself and get to know owners, managers and staff at local independent bookstores. Talk to schools or your community college. Mention your books to friends and neighbors. I use my lovely bride as a gauge. When she starts rolling her eyes, I know I’ve said enough.

Donate
Build goodwill (and good Karma) by getting your book into the hands of people who might not normally have access to your work. Consider donating a copy of your book to places like hospital libraries, shelters, military personnel deployed overseas, senior centers, local civic organizations or clubs.

If you’re fortunate enough to have your work mentioned in places like Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, or Library Journal you can donate copies of your book to your local library. At the very least a donation should be good for some free press coverage.

The key is getting people to know your name and your work.

For instance, I donated two of my books (favorably reviewed by Kirkus Reviews) to the permanent collection of my local library and got the press release for it accepted in a local paper (Sunday circulation 81,935).

I’ve since been invited to attend a book signing at that same library (in Orion Township, Michigan) on December 6, 2014, from 1:00–4:00pm … and it was perseverance (along with a good Kirkus Review) that opened the door.

Does that kind of exposure help? Subscribe to the blog. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Note: One of the “paid” things you should consider is inexpensive promotional material. Bookmarks are an ideal, inexpensive way to introduce your books and tell folks where to purchase them.

Even if a prospect isn’t interested in buying your book, offer them a signed bookmark, and ask them to pass it along to someone who enjoys the genre.

Hint: If someone does buy your book at a signing, make certain to ask them the spelling of their name before writing anything. I’ve run across odd spellings of supposedly common names like Jym, Leesa and Maari.
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Most of All … Have Fun … Keep Writing … and Dream Big!
Remember what Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.
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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.
 

Author Interview – T.W. Dittmer

November 20, 2014

Today I’m interviewing Michigan writer, T.W. Dittmer, the author of the interesting novel, “The Valley Walker.”

tw dittmer
T.W. Dittmer, Indie Author

John Walker Michaels, a man known to the Hmong of Laos as the Valley Walker, a man the army has classified as a deserter … an openly emotional man who draws her out of her shell and into the world of Hmong mysticism. At the end of this time … even after talking to him, learning his history and meeting his family … Special Investigator Teri Altro can only shake her head when asked about him.

She had touched him and felt his warmth. She knew he was real.

Or was he?

~ from The Valley Walker

 

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Tim.
Thank you, Ron.

I’m fascinated with your novel. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Gary, Indiana. My father worked in the steel mills, then turned to preaching the Gospel. My mother was a legal secretary. After graduating from high school, I joined the Army and volunteered for Vietnam.

When my military service was complete I studied music, but ended up working in an automobile engine testing laboratory.

An interesting background. What were you like at school?
I was a dreamer in high school. Not a bad kid, but not very motivated, so my grades were poor. I did better in college.

Were you good in English?
Not really, but I liked reading, which got me pushed into the advanced English and Composition courses.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Thomas Harris and John Steinbeck.

Where do your ideas come from?
They can come from anywhere. An idea occurs to me, then works at me until I spend a lot of time pacing the floor and imagining it coming to life.

the valley walker lg
The Valley Walker

Do you have an “elevator speech” for your novel?
No. I’m no good at that sort of thing, and I prefer the stairs. To me, The Valley Walker is a soldier’s story.

There’s a lot of that in my work, too. Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I can’t work to an outline. More power to those who can, but it’s just not me.

How have you evolved creatively since you started writing?
My writing started as an outlet … a purely selfish indulgence, I guess. Once I put my work out there and started getting feedback, I realized I wasn’t being clear about the thoughts I was trying to convey. Now I try to write in a way that makes more sense to the reader.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?
None of it is “hard” but it’s definitely a growing process. The Valley Walker is my first novel, and it’s a long road ahead of me. It’s been an interesting journey, so far. I’ve met some great people and learned more than I thought possible. I imagine the journey will become even more interesting.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional printed books?
It depends. Some books I like on my eReader, others I prefer in print form.

What’s your favorite book?
That changes as I change, but Steinbeck’s East of Eden is my favorite right now.

What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have a favorite quote. I don’t like to align my life with another person’s idea of achievement or inner peace.

Do you have anything else in the works right now?
I am currently working on the second draft of my next novel, in the same genre.

I’m looking forward to it. Good luck, Tim … and thanks for doing the interview.
Thanks, Ron. It is truly an honor to be associated with a serious writer like you.

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I’m just about finished reading Tim’s remarkable book, and I already know what I’m going to say in my review:

“The Valley Walker” is one of those rare stories that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Most of the characters are totally believable, and the lead character, John Walker Michaels, was superb. This unusual story of a young soldier who turns into so much more will keep readers turning the pages. Well done!

“The Valley Walker” is available as an eBook on Amazon, and you can discover more about the author at these locations:

Facebook
Twitter
Website
LinkedIn
Goodreads

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My readers know there is a lot of realistic Vietnam War reference in my novels “Reichold Street” and “One Way Street.” I think the books are a perfect way to remember, and express my gratitude to, friends who served or perished over there.

As always, you can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

 


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