Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’

Making the Most of a Writing Conference

October 8, 2018

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Let’s face it. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have go it alone. You can always do what I do … attend a writing conference, and meet some of the other members of that tribe called writers.

On October 20, I plan to attend the Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University again, something I’ve done every fall for the eleven years it’s been in existence.

It’s a great conference. You’ll find loads of interesting workshops, access to agents and editors … and swarms of writers of various levels, all packaged neatly into a nice, affordable, single-day event.

Conferences like this are a great way to learn about all aspects of writing. You can attend a variety of workshops, gathering methods to turn your ideas into finished stories. You’ll also learn more about trends in the industry and the business side of writing.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on using social media tools like Twitter, and delve into making personal podcasts to develop your writing career and market your stories to readers.

I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction, but if you’re still thinking about traditional publishing, or have an interest in the non-fiction market, the Rochester Writers’ Conference will offer an opportunity to pitch to agents, and talk to a panel of editors.

That experience, in itself, is fabulous. If nothing else, talking directly to agents and editors let’s you examine your own work through a professional’s objective eye.

You might even get comfortable talking about your work – something you’ll definitely need to do when trying to sell someone on your proposals, or when marketing your books.

Even if the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you often need to look no further than those around you. Looking for a good editor? Thinking about arranging speaking engagements? Trying to find a cover or website designer?

Talking to, and connecting with, other writers can be one of the most valuable things about attending a writing conference.

Talk, be friendly, ask questions. You’re with your tribe, after all.

Make the Most of It
Here are some suggestions to ensure a productive experience. First, take a few minutes to plan for the workshops you want.

A word of warning … you probably won’t get to all of them, due to time constraints.

So, pick wisely among the sessions you know will give you the most help. But go beyond that. Challenge yourself and take at least one session on a topic outside your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re a beginning author, with more questions than answers, don’t fret. Most of the sessions are geared to accommodate you. Plus, you’ll find many experienced authors in attendance will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Remember – Elevator Pitch
If you plan to pitch your work to an agent, don’t worry if you’re nervous. Everybody is. Compensate by being over-prepared. Have at least a rough draft ready before you go.

Also, keep it short.

You usually only have sessions of about 15 minutes with an agent so, please, don’t fill your time with nervous apologies, or rambling, inconsequential details of your personal life.

Talk about your book. Give them your elevator pitch.

Tell what your character wants, why he wants it, and what keeps him from getting it. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds. Remind yourself it’s okay not to explain all the details or the final outcome. Stop at a moment of tension and wait.

Let the agent guide the discussion. Find out what’s caught their attention, or what piece is missing. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking, and the main reason you’re talking to them is to hear their feedback and reaction.

Not planning to pitch? Still be prepared to talk about your writing. Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave behind to give to agents, editors and other writers. I actually prefer a bookmark, because I can list my books, too. Besides, I’ve learned they’re harder to lose.

When you attend any conference, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. Not only with professionals in your industry, but a host of your peers. It’s okay to show your personality a little, because that can reflect your writing style.

Just make sure people think it’s a good one.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on Saturday, October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.


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.


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.

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.

* * * * *

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;


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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