The festival ripple effect

I’ve been increasing the number of book festivals and other festivals I’ve been taking part in for book signings. Some are very successful for me. Some I just barely break even at, and others, are complete flops.

The flops can be soul-crushing, but I have realized something as I’ve increased my appearances. The number of page views of my books and online sales increase after a festival, even a festival that’s been a failure. That doesn’t mean that I’ll go back to the flop festivals. However, it makes attending break-even festivals more attractive to continue attending.

Another benefit that I’ve found in attending these festivals is that I get leads and offers for speaking engagements. These speaking engagements are always successful. Even if I don’t get paid a stipend for speaking, I sell my books afterward.

The third benefit of these festivals is that I sometimes get leads for future story ideas.

On the flip side, festivals take up a lot of time and cost money to attend. This summer, I have a festival every other weekend, on average. The costs definitely add up as I do more festivals.

Overall, I think writers should definitely put themselves out there in the public and doing book signings at festivals where your potential readers attend. Just remember that sometimes the best festivals aren’t book festivals. You may find a craft or street fair that draws in many people who like your books.

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Selling direct to avoid bias

book-storesI enjoy watching videos on Youtube when I need a short break from my writing. The site offers something for everyone, but that may be changing. Some content creators have been talking about how Youtube is demonetizing their videos or changing the search algorithms so that their videos are only being seen by a fraction of the viewers their videos typically get. This is having a big effect on their bottom line.

What if that were to happen with the online bookstores? Amazon has banned some books from their sites while not applying that reason uniformly to the entire site.

This is the reason I have been trying to build my mailing list. It’s something that I wish I had done years ago. I don’t know who buys my books on Amazon, Kobo, or iBooks, so if those companies were to make a change that harms my sales, I wouldn’t be able to contact my readers to let them know about new releases. On the other hand, I can stay in contact with my mailing list readers to update them with news.

This works fine unless my book is one that an online bookseller doesn’t like and bans. In that instance, notifying readers that a new book is available won’t help me one bit if the book is not available. I need to sell my books directly from my website to combat this.

This means creating a store on my website. I already have this, and it allows me to sell physical books directly from my website. Readers can click on the book they want, pay via PayPal, and I ship the book out. The drawback is that I am involved more in the shipping and ordering process. The advantage is that I keep more of the purchase price, and I also have the buyer’s e-mail address for future contact.

I still haven’t created ebook files that I can sell directly from my website. I see this as trickier. One advantage of buying your ebook files from a particular retailer is ease. For instance, I have a Kindle. While it is easy for me to download my books to my Kindle reader and sync up my different devices, it is much more difficult to do if I buy a Kindle-compatible book. That inconvenience factor discourages sales from a different retailer other than the manufacturer of the ereader.

One reason I became an indie author was because I wanted to have more control over my books, such as deciding when to pull a particular book from sale. So why would I want to give that control to someone else and their biases and policies? I don’t.

I am an indie author, and I am working toward that goal. I don’t see that I will ever stop using other retailers to help sell my books, but being able to sell directly from my website is a protection for me and my work. It keeps me from allowing the distribution of my work to be in someone else’s control.

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Have you ever done a blog tour?

Have you ever done a blog tour?

I decided to hire someone to help me set up a blog tour and I’m nervously awaiting the start of it not knowing what to expect. However, although I maintain a blog, I have very little clue for how to set up a tour. It seemed like a lot of groundwork would need to be done and, quite frankly, with my crazy schedule, I was willing to hire someone to do it for me. Plus, I figure it will get me exposure with some new blogs.

I actually was surprised at the different types of tours available. You can get tours that focus on reviews, interviews, excerpts, giveaways, and articles. I selected one that is a mix so I can get my feet wet with everything.

I’m curious if any other writers have done a blog tour. How long did it last? Was it useful? What did it involve? This is all new to me so let me know your experiences.

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Are you a marketing tortoise or hare?

blue-growth-chartWhen my book, The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg, launched, I worked to promote it and get it into bookstores. It felt like an uphill battle at times. There’s a lot more bookstores than there are me and my co-author.

This leads me to an observation that I’ve found as an independent author. The difference between independent authors and traditionally published authors is like the story of the tortoise and the hare.

Traditionally published authors are looking for their books to take off with a quick start. They have to have strong sales right from the start in order to keep their book in stores and in print. Independent publishers certainly would love to have strong sales up front, but tend to see steady sales that stretch out over a much longer life for the book.

I’ve seen that with many of my titles. They may be 5 or 10 years old, but they still sell well.

I think this is because while I can’t put an army of sales reps and publicity people selling my book hard for a couple months before they move onto their next project, I can continually work on promoting my older titles along with my newer ones. The efforts build on themselves, expanding the books exposure and sales.

The key to promotion is to keep at it. Do something every day to market your book. It adds up in the end.

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  • The birth of a story idea
  • Write & Wait vs. Write, Write, Write
  • Time to get busy!

Time to get busy!

20170624_092912It’s mid-March and my busy season has kicked off. For me, that means from now until right before Christmas, I’ll be selling books or presenting workshops three to four weekends a month. Plus, throw in a few presentations and classes during the week. This is on top of the normal writing, marketing, and research I do during the week.

I’ll be busy for the next nine months, but I enjoy it mostly (not counting all the rainy festivals I worked in 2018). It’s nice to get out and meet my readers and hear what they liked and didn’t like about stories. When the weather is nice, it’s wonderful to be outside. I also dictate a lot of notes and scenes between customers.

Getting ready for a festival is like trying to figure out a Chinese puzzle box in reverse. First, I have to decide how many copies of each title to take. As my son says, “You want to come home with one copy of every book.” That way, you know you didn’t miss any sales, but you don’t have to bring home excess inventory.

Then I have to make sure I have everything I’ll need for the event, such as a tent, tables, money to make change, signs, etc. I have forgotten things occasionally, and it can ruin an event. For instance, forgetting to take a tent when it is calling for rain. I did that once, and had to drive an hour and a half back home, load my tent, turn around and drive and an hour and a half back to my hotel.

Once I have gathered everything, I have to pack my Prius. Believe it or not, you can get a lot in that small car. It takes a lot of finagling to make it fit, but after years of doing this, it is second nature as to what goes where.

The loading and unloading of my car and set up is my workout for the day. Lifting and walking with boxes of boxes will definitely help you get stronger!

I have managed to carve out a summer vacation in the middle of all this activity. I’d much rather get away in the winter, but when you have a child in school, your window of opportunity is limited.

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My new website has gone live

I knew that revamping my website would take time. Not only was I going to change the layout, but I had to move it over to WordPress. It was definitely outside of my technology wheelhouse.

The first thing I did was to get help. Caro Begin with was a great help. She is a writer who has a couple of website themes designed for writers. I purchased the premium theme which she set up for me on WordPress.

From there, I added my books to the site and started tweaking  it to accomplish what I want. Adding all of my book information and the retailer links took the longest time. I’m still tweaking things. The great thing I found with Caro is that she responded to the questions I had after the installation in less than a day. She also recorded her answer as videos so I could see what she was doing on the website and mimic it. That was a big help. She also has a page full of instructional videos on her website that I can watch depending on what I might want to do.

I’ve still got a few things I want to do with It may take me time to figure out how to do it, or failing that, figure out how to work around it to accomplish the same thing.

Look at, though and let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions.

Three days left to win a #Kindle Paperwhite

book-panel-212Want to win a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas? There are 3 days left in my giveaway.

If you like reading e-books, I’m giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. This version is nicer than the old Kindle that I have. It’s waterproof. That makes it great to read at the ocean, near the pool, or in the tub. If you have ever tried to read your phone’s screen outside on a sunny day, you will appreciate the 300 ppi glare-free display. However, it also has a built-in light for nighttime reading. It’s not backlighting, so it won’t strain your eyes.

You can enter the giveaway daily, and the more you share it, the more chances you will have to win. So enter every day, share it on Facebook, and retweet it.


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