Archive for the ‘Book Promotion’ Category

Are You a Dedicated Storyteller?

October 27, 2018


I recently attended the 2018 Fall Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University and, after a day of interesting presentations, plus conversations with a significant number of the other attendees, one resounding thought from it stays with me.

Everyone enjoys a good story.

Telling one, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes a willingness not only to learn, but to understand, the different elements and techniques of the craft, and it involves a heck of a lot of practice.

In other words, dedication.

However, regardless of genre or style, all good stories have common elements. When developing your next narrative work, make sure you’re paying careful attention to all of them.

Setting
The setting is the time and location in which your story takes place. Settings can be very specific, such as the one that begins my novel REICHOLD STREET:

It was late August, 1962, when I first saw Albert Parker. After all this time, I still remember the year quite distinctly. It was my second teenage summer and, like discovering I had a sexual identity, it was a part of life’s first great transition. I had been waiting months for something special to happen, something magical. Something like having Marilyn Monroe show up on my doorstep….”

But they can also be broad and descriptive, such as “…a tired little cottage on a lonely night….”

Either way you choose to go, a good, well-established setting creates the intended mood, while providing the backdrop and environment for your story.

Characters
A story often includes a number of central characters, each with a different role or purpose. Central characters are vital because the plot revolves around them.

However, regardless of how many characters a story ultimately has, there is almost always a protagonist and antagonist.

The protagonist is the main character, with a clear goal to accomplish or a conflict to overcome. They don’t always need to be admirable, but they must command an emotional involvement from the reader.

Antagonists oppose protagonists, standing between them and their ultimate goals. They can be presented as persons, places, things, or situations that represent a tremendous obstacle.

Plot
Hopefully you know the plot is the sequence of events that connect the audience to the protagonist and his or her ultimate goal.

Conflict
While they may sound similar, don’t confuse plot with conflict. While plot is the sequence of events, conflict drives the story and engages an audience. It keeps them white-knuckled on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the protagonist will overcome the obstacle.

Conflict creates tension and builds suspense, and those are the elements that make the story interesting. Without conflict, you’ve done little more than write a statement.

Theme
The theme is what the story is really about. It’s the main idea or underlying meaning. A story may have both a major theme that is intertwined and repeated throughout the whole narrative, and minor themes that appear more subtly, and don’t necessarily repeat.

Often, it’s the storyteller’s personal opinion on the subject matter.

Narrative Arc
A strong story plot has a narrative arc that has four required elements of its own:

    Setup: The world in which the protagonist exists prior to the journey. The setup usually ends with the conflict being revealed.
    Rising Tension: The series of obstacles the protagonist must overcome. Each obstacle is usually more difficult and with higher stakes than the previous one.
    Climax: The point of highest tension, and the major decisive turning point for the protagonist.
    Resolution: The conflict’s conclusion. This is where the protagonist finally overcomes the conflict, learns to accept it, or is ultimately defeated by it. Regardless, this is where the journey ends.

While every story is different, a successful one captivates its audience and inspires an emotional response. If you have learned to craft a compelling story by engaging an active audience, you can truly call yourself a master of the art of storytelling.

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My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

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I’ll be signing books at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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

What Do You Need for a Book Signing?

August 2, 2018

I just finished a book-signing event in Sterling Heights. I joined some good friends and authors from the Rochester Writers’ Group. It’s the second one for me this month, and it was a decent day all around. The weather cooperated and I sold six books in four hours.

Not exactly setting the world on fire, but that’s life as an indie. You take your sales wherever you can find them, usually a few at a time.

If other authors ask me for book-signing event advice, I encourage them to think about events like the one I just attended, where the target audience is already gathered.

It’s so much easier to attract people when there’s already a crowd.

Signing Event Tool Kit Ideas
There are a couple of things you should think about ahead of time to make the most of any opportunity to meet some of the people you had in mind when you wrote your book.

Several of Your Favorite Pens
Know what you like to use and make sure you have them. Personally, I like the Signo Uni-Ball pen, with black ink.

Treats in a Bowl
A romance author might have a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses; the author of a business book could offer wrapped chocolate coins. As a fiction author, I don’t worry about coming up with something that makes sense for my books. I just bring wrapped chocolates.

It’s usually the kids who stop but, guess what? When they do, so do their parents (be sure to ask if it’s okay for the kids to indulge).

A Catchphrase
Writing a short phrase before your signature helps personalize the experience for the book buyer. Make it short and relevant. For my books I often simply write, “Enjoy the Read!”

A Cash Box and Change
If you’re doing a signing after speaking at a group’s meeting, it’s likely you’re handling the sales yourself. When that’s the case, bring a cash box with change (fives and singles). A modest investment in a Square Reader will let you take credit cards, too.

Post-Its
Name spellings aren’t as predictable as they used to be (just ask any Caitlin/Katelyn or Brittany/Britney). Ask…and make sure you find out the correct spelling.

Backup Books
Even when your event is at a bookstore, bring an extra box of books from your own supply, in case you sell everything the store has for the event (I’m an optimist).

Business Cards
Hopefully, your presentation will be so impressive that someone attending will invite you to speak to their local readers group. Make it easy for them to contact you.

Add to Your Email Lists
Have visitors write down their contact information, too, so that you can follow up when you have new books available, or when you will be speaking somewhere else.

A Good Elevator Pitch
One reason so many people deliver completely ineffective elevator pitches is they don’t understand the purpose of one. The purpose is not to close the deal. In truth, it is just to interest the audience in looking at the books you have to sell.

Your Best TV-Self
It isn’t always possible, but if you can come up with an idea that’s newsworthy, TV coverage you don’t pay for is worth its weight in gold.

I know an author in Kentucky, Eddie Price, who comes dressed in the typical garb of the time in which his historical novels are set, and he’s lost count of the times he’s been interviewed.

It isn’t always possible, but go for it. With a little advance thought and planning, your event will have everything you need.

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At 7:00 pm on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, I’ll be reading from ZEBULON, my collection of fantasy short stories, at Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson. Hope to see you there!

buy now;

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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

Does Self-Promotion Feel Like a Losing Battle?

July 16, 2018

Along with a host of other local authors, I just finished participating in DetroitBookFest, at historic Eastern Market. The weather, although far too hot, was cooperative. It didn’t rain, I sold seven books and thought it was a good event.

I’ll also be in attendance, with other local authors, signing books near the library at Sterlingfest on July 28.

On August 7, 2018, I’m going to be reading from one of my books at Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson, Michigan, and my greatest fear is having to say, on August 8, that I read to an empty bookstore.

It happened to me once before, a few years ago. I won’t mention the bookstore (it’s now out of business), but not even my wife showed up for that one. In all fairness, it was a miserable, snowy day, and she had left on a plane bound for Florida to visit our grandkids.

The snowstorm got worse and I think it took me longer to drive to that local bookstore a few miles away than it did for her to go the 1200 miles to West Palm.

There were supposed to be two other authors with me but, in that near blizzard, only my intrepid sister-in-law, my son and the store owner showed up. Needless to say, we all left early.

It wasn’t exactly the highlight of my career.

Self-promotion in a Nutshell
Promotional events can be awful, even when they go well. Sometimes you don’t sell anything at all, in a packed house. Yet, as painful as it is to put yourself out like that with no tangible return, self-promotion is an essential part of building up your writing career.

I’ve been doing it long enough now to realize no single event, tweet or blog post will sell a significant number of books. It may not get you any attention at all. But, if you keep doing it, all those seemingly unhelpful things will … slowly but surely … build you a platform.

I already have thousands of followers to this blog, and to my Twitter posts. I’ve also had millions of visitors to my author’s web site, but I discovered a long time ago there is no one-to-one relationship between any of the numbers. I almost never see a measurable bump in sales from an individual self-promotion effort.

Let me say that again: no individual thing I’ve ever done has had a noticeable impact on sales. Not readings, signings, conference panels, interviews or blogs.

So Why Do Any of It?
You may not sell a lot of books as a direct result of a single promotion but, believe it or not, what you will accomplish is more important. You will build a brand and forge a relationship with potential readers.

What you’re trying to do with your self-promotion effort is define who you are for potential fans … and you do that by entertaining them. For free. Because that’s the deal.

Just because someone doesn’t buy a book at that moment, doesn’t mean a good experience with you won’t convince them to buy your book later.

People don’t mind if you let them know you have written a book and yes it’s for sale … but they don’t want to be hit over the head with it every five seconds. Be friendly, find out what what they like to read, and tell them about your books that come close. Let them know about you, and why you wrote something.

The heavier you lean on “buy my book” the less effective your promotion will be.

But, if you keep at it, you can build a community of fans who will turn out to be the best advertising you can ask for … earned media, or word-of-mouth … people who enjoyed the moment you spent talking to them and who will recommend your work.

Reach Out
I also always feel privileged to join other local area writers at events. For support, inspiration and evaluation, there’s nothing more valuable than finding a good writing group in your area.

A very successful one that I belong to is the local Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group, hosted by Michael Dwyer, that meets every month at Barnes & Noble in Rochester Hills.

Also, submit your work often. Both for publication and for contest review. You may get a lot of rejections, but you might make some important connections. When you do get a work accepted or picked for an award, don’t be shy. Brag about it on social media!

A writers’ conference is another way to learn about the craft. It’s also a way to meet new writers at the same stage as you.

I attend the local Rochester Writer’s Conference at Oakland University (also coordinated by Michael Dwyer). I’ve never missed one of his fall conferences, and I plan on being there again this coming October. I always learn something.

If you’re in the area, come on out and try it. You may discover writing is not the solitary activity it sometimes feels like.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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On March 1, 2018, Rochester Media started publishing my articles about writing. The column will update about every three weeks. Take a look, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

On Tuesday, July 17, 2018 I will be attending the Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group meeting at Barnes & Noble in Rochester Hills.

On Saturday, July 28, 2018, as I mentioned above, I plan to participate in a book-signing somewhere near the library during Sterlingfest, in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 I will be reading an excerpt from my award-winning short-story collection “Zebulon” at the Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson, Michigan.

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


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