Tuesday, June 14, 2016

PNW Writer's Center: If We Build It Will They Come?

Artist's Rendering of a Dreamed Writing Center

What would you all think of a Writing Center in the Pacific Northwest especially dedicated to the development of quality books by indie authors?

My wife, Ruth, and I envision just such a place. A relaxed, "homey" place where there would be affordable classes and seminars in the craft by published authors, notable guest speakers, panel discussions, write-ins, a writer's group, drop-in writing assistance hours, and publishing assistance.

Ruth has her MFA in Creative Writing and has previously worked in a college writing center. I have four year's of experience in the writing/publishing world. I hold a Creative Writing Certificate from WSU and a couple of BAs in communications. Both of us have magazine and newspaper experience as well.

We are looking into this possibility right now and would certainly appreciate your prayers and ideas (especially as to fundraising).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Marketing is the Hardest Part of Self-Publishing

P.T. Barnum, showman, circus promoter

P. T. Barnum said, "Without promotion, something terrible happens...nothing! "

Marketing is by far the hardest thing I do as a writer. I put a lot of effort into it, but I must suck at it, because it just doesn't work very well. I miss about 90% of the shots I take and I can't figure out what the 10% is that is working.

From what I read, I do a lot of the "right" things, but I'm not seeing results that others do. Is it poor writing? Shoddy covers? Bad reviews? I don't think so.

Those who've read my do books like them, it's just that few people read them (lol). I think I must be missing my audience--not getting my efforts in front of the right people. And therein lies the rub, does it not?

I either do not know where to find them, how to get in front of them, or do not have the money (or am unwilling to risk it) to do so. I don't like to throw money around just to see if something might happen. And when I have I have often been burned.

For example:

I have a book titled Lights, Camera, Worship! that once did well. I was on a speaking circuit at the time and I sold them after my talks at various conferences. But the book got dated, so I revised it and reissued it.

I ordered 200 copies and paid big bucks for a table to launch the book at Worship Northwest--a gathering of hundreds of worship leaders (my perfect audience). I also paid for an ad in a Christian newspaper along with a nice article about the launch. And...nothing happened. I sold maybe two books. (Anyone want to buy a copy? I still have a few on hand.) The weird thing is, every once in awhile I see them being bought online. Could it be the SEO?

And yet, my Big Papa Zee's Cajun and Caribbean Cookbook, sells fairly online (especially around Mardi Gras and Christmas) without any promotion at all. SEO?

Click to enlarge for detail.
Then, I have another book, Plays & Sketches for Schools and Churches, that is a lovely book with stellar reviews from a handful of industry professionals. I have sent out dozens and dozens of promo copies to Christian schools. Not a peep. Not a single sale.

Anyway, there are very few authors I know who have a real clue. Many are in the same boat as I. Many of us find ourselves adrift on the SS Clueless. I know this because it's something we all talk about and ask each other about. And those few who are doing something that is working for them, well...

Let's just say that it's hit and miss, sheer dumb luck, or being in the right place at the right time. Who knows? What works for one at any given time might not work for someone else or at another time. There is no one magical solution with one size that fits all. Something mysterious is at work.

So why bother? 

Because without effort you surely will not see results. If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Do you think books become bestsellers simply by chance? No, they do not. It may seem so, but happenstance plays a very small part.

Great books and terrible books rise to the top by orchestration.

"OOYL, Once Only You Live"
So, you must have a plan. You must make an effort. And you must "sacrifice your firstborn to the gods of literature" (just kidding). Research, ask questions, experiment, and try.

Yoda was wrong, there is a try...and a try, try again. 

Begin with all the free things (like social media and press releases) and, if you have some money, spend it wisely thereafter. Target market (especially when it comes to spending money). Print ads are expensive, but, if you have a niche, an ad in the right publication might prove fruitful.

Public speaking gigs seem to do a lot of good for those writers that do that sort of thing. It helps build a platform and gets you in front of buyers. But I know that's not for everyone and it does take a lot of work to get the gigs.

And whatever you do, be sure to do it well. Quality counts.

Well, I wish I could give you more, but I have no "secrets." Besides, what works for me might not work for you. But let's keep sharing ideas anyway. I'd love to hear from you.

BTW, my new books are: Chicken Poop on my Sole, The Bayou Boys Adventures omnibus, and Hell, Heaven and Back. Wanna buy a book?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Signing on Saturday

I know, I know. Sorry, I've not posted in some time. I've been out of town and house hunting. Anyway, tomorrow's the big day for my last Cannon Beach signing. Read more here. Come on out and kick a tire or two.