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August 24, 2015

More About Local Marketing and Book Stores

(Marketing and Promotion Number Six)

We’ve been addressing the issue of local marketing of one’s book(s). Another idea for local marketing, or not so local marketing, which does involve legwork, is getting your book into book stores or any stores that would be interested in your book. (Remember I said that horse gear and saddle shops would be interested in mine?) What’s the best way to do that?

Hit the beaten path:

When my first two Keystone Stables books came out, I spent quite a bit of time visiting every book store within a fifty-mile radius, both Christian and secular, along with tack shops that sold horse equipment and “horsie” stuff and hardware stores where farmers and horse owners would hang out.

Concerning book stores, since Zondervan is one of the leading Christian publishing companies in the world, I knew its products would be listed in the book store’s data base, so I had a big advantage there. I didn’t have to convince the manager to take a chance on the Keystone Stables books as I have had to do so with some of my books published by small companies or self-published books. (By the way, make sure if you self publish, you get an ISBN number on the back of the book or no store will be able to sell it even if the manager wants to.)

So, how do we “market” at a book store?

When entering a book store, I always go to the children’s department to see if my books are on the shelf. About 70% of the time they aren’t. Then I ask to see the manager. I introduce myself, give him a business card, show him my books, and ask if he would consider carrying them on his shelves. (The book stores have to order directly from Zondervan not purchase books from me.) Right now I can’t think of any manager who ever said no. Most managers say something like this: “Horse stories? Kids love horse stories. Why haven’t I heard about these books before?”

The sad truth is that even with Zondervan publishing my books, their sales reps do NOT place copies of all their newly published books on the shelves. The salesmen promote the company’s newest best-selling authors and “big name” authors. Sometimes the store have large sections of Zonderkidz products, but my books often aren’t among them.

Once in a rare while, I do find some copies of my books on the store’s shelf. As a published author, I feel a sense of joy and pride seeing my name on a book cover in a store. I immediately take all the copies to the cashier, tell him/her who I am (with a business card validating it, of course), and offer to autograph the books. Most clerks are thrilled to meet a “real, live author.”

I always leave by offering the manager or the clerk some flyers (that I had made) to post in the store about my books, and I always offer to do a book signing and ask for one of the store’s business cards with the contact information.

Earlier I had mentioned “not so local” marketing that might involve some more legwork.

What do I mean about “not so local?” How about vacations?

The same year my books came out, my husband and I drove to South Carolina to visit our one foster daughter. All the way on the trip, we pulled off the Interstate when we saw a mall in the vicinity, assuming that every mall usually has some kind of book store. (Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, book stores in malls have become a rarity.) I also did a search online to see if any book stores were near the route we would be traveling.

When we arrived in Charleston, SC, my daughter took me to every library and book store within a 30-mile radius. The libraries were given a free copy, (and the librarians asked that I NOT sign the books because people would steal them for the autograph), and the book stores found out about these brand-new kids’ books, the Keystone Stables series.

This plan didn’t take that much extra money, but it did take some time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think my husband read about a dozen magazines in the car on our trip to SC and back home while I ran in and out of book stores on our trek.

I know it only seems like a drop in the bucket when you consider the entire country, but, at least, I got my foot in the door as far as spreading the word. And all my legwork did pay off. There have been over 100,000 copies of the Keystone Stables books sold after being in print twelve years, and they’re still selling quite well.

Next time, we’ll discuss mass mailings. Are they worth it?

(More shameless promotion)

Keystone Stables Book 3

Book 3 in the Keystone Stables Series

Foster kid Skye Nicholson has her hands full with a new foal who’s mama dies

and a new foster kid, Tanya Bell, who wants nothing to do with her.

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books (Web) www.marshahubler.com (Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com (Writers Conference Information) www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com (Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

August 10, 2015

A Few Online Tips (Marketing Post Number Four)

Social networking and selling online seem to be some of the BIG ways to go these days with marketing one’s books.

Of course, there is physical legwork to do as far as book signings, speaking engagements, and vendors’ affairs to get your name out there, but the world’s markets have opened up online exponentially in the last few years, and it would be very wise to pursue that venue of promotion. The Internet and its effects on our society have grown so enormously, they can no longer be ignored.

Any author who is serious enough to write a book should be serious enough to learn how to use the Internet most effectively. Here are some quick suggestions, some easy, some not so easy, to accomplish. But, guaranteed, you’ll increase your presence online and with your fan base if you work on these marketing strategies:

  1. Look for online book reviewers. Many book reviewers will do a review gratis if you provide a free copy of your book. I’ve had some of my Keystone Stables books reviewed by  the NEA (National Education Association),  The Young Hoosier Book Award Program (www.ilfonline.org), and Barbara Fielding (www.reviewers choice.com)  All gave favorable reviews.
  2. When your book is on Amazon’s sales’ racks, have some friends post favorable reviews for you on that site.
  3. Take a social networking class (as I did quite a few years ago) to learn how to integrate and interact sites like Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and so on with your website and blogsite(s).
  4. When you become familiar with sites like Goodreads and Facebook, look for “groups” that will be interested in your book and join them. Although I’m not as active in Goodreads as I’d like to be, I do have over 1000 followers at that site. In Facebook, I joined several horse lovers’ groups, one that has over 100,000 members. I try to post a short tagline and a picture of one of my books there once a week. Sometimes I copy and paste the URL to one of my horse books listed on Amazon, which takes you directly to the book where it’s for sale.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The more your name pops up on the Internet, the more books you’ll sell.  It only makes sense that exposure is the key to good sales. Learn how to have a presence there, and you’re on your way to being a best seller.

(More shameless promotion)

CHECK OUT MY LATEST TWEEN NOVEL DEALING WITH BULLYING ISSUES

When Dallis Parker goes on a snow camp trip with a church youth group, she discovers the phantom stallion really does exist in a way she never expected.

SNOW

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writing Blog) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Horse Facts Blog) www.mhubler.wordpress.com

August 3, 2015

On Writing: Marketing Post Number Three

Marsha.Chipppy.Chpmnk.2013

“To market, to market

To sell a book or two…”

That’s the little ditty that should be constantly reverberating in your brain as you write your book or wait for it to arrive from the publisher.

The majority of us writers are not big-name best sellers. We have no TV exposure and very little radio and newspaper coverage. So how do little Mr. Nobody and Mrs. WhoIsShe get their names out there in public view?

So far, we’ve discussed (with a little detail):

  1. Blogsites and websites
  2. Business card distribution

Let’s tackle the book signing venue today:

Marsha.Selling.Pottsville (2)I had previously told you that I hate book signings. For the most part I do because lots of times no one shows up and I sit there reading a good book (my own) and directing passersby to the restroom.

When I have had successful book signings at stores (by successful, I mean I sold at least 30 to 50 books), here’s what I did:

  1. When planning the book signing with the store manager, I asked to be at the store on a big sales day of the year. The best time is any Friday or Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  2. I made sure the manager planned to get the word out, including putting up flyers or signs in the store (which I provided), submitting an article to the local newspapers, (which I wrote), and sending out e-mails to the store’s clientele OFTEN about the book signing.
  3. I called or e-mailed several days before the book signing to make sure the manager had ordered enough books. If not, I offered to bring my own just as a backup.Rachel.Mrs.H.Rebekah.Bk.Signing.Wellsboro.7.7.12
  4. On the day of the book signing, I’ve had a friend with me to walk throughout the store handing out my business cards or a small token gift like a bookmark and inviting them to my table. Often, I’ve been parked in the BACK of the store, and if I didn’t let folks know I was back there, they never saw me. (I have a friend who has tween twin girls, who wear cowgirl outfits and help me “sell” by roaming the store or standing in front of the store and handing out my business cards. Often kids can get more of a response than adults.)
  5. I offered some kind of deal, i.e. if anyone bought my whole Keystone Stables series, he/she got a free gift like a plastic model horse or a small jewelry box with a horse picture on the front, etc. (Recently I sold three complete sets of eight books each because of my “special” deal.) Other times, I’ve offered one of my other girl/horse books or I knocked off all the tax and wrapped the set in a gift pack with some binder twine, a tiny plastic horse tied on the front of the pack, and a book mark.
  6. If traffic was slow, I got out from behind the table and introduced myself to folks in other parts of the store.
  7. I looked for businesses besides book stores that might want me to have a book signing. I have done fairly well at a large local hardware store and at a horse equipment and saddle shop. Of course, horse books would be a natural sell at stores like this. (Study where “your market” hangs out and go for it!)

Now, after you’ve done everything in your power to pull this off, if store traffic is still real slow, as such was the case with a book signing I had a few weeks ago, you have to just sit and smile, maybe work on your next novel on your laptop, and write the day off as a loss.

You just never know how book signings are going to go. Swallow your pride and try again at another store as soon as you can make the contact. Making money? Are you kidding? You’ll probably break even with the cost of gasoline, but book signings are all about promotion anyway, not in any way to make you rich.

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables Books

CHAP.2013Brenda.Me.5.11.13

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers’ Blog) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

On Writing:

July 28, 2015

Marketing and Promotion (Part 2)

Marsha.Side.View.Bk.Signing.Munce.2013

Marketing and promoting your book(s) and yourself can be very expensive. I’ve spent hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars on:

  1. traveling expenses related to speaking engagements and kids’ events
  2. vendors’ fees
  3. buying a cowgirl outfit and “horsie” gifts to give away at book signings
  4. giving away free books.

However, there are a few simple, inexpensive ways to market books that have proved somewhat successful for me. I must have done something right because the first book in my juvenile fiction Keystone Stables Series, A HORSE TO LOVE, is a best seller with about 40,000 copies in print (if you add the first and second editions together). In juvenile fiction, 20,000 copies is the goal to attain if you want to be a best seller. In adult fiction, the magic number is 100,000.

Counting all eight Keystone Stables books, there are well over 100,000 sold. To all my fans, I say a heartfelt thank you.

But how did this all happen? Well, besides Zondervan doing some marketing in catalogs and online and my own marketing online with a blog and other social media like Facebook and Twitter, let’s discuss just one marketing technique I use that really doesn’t require much legwork nor the Internet:

Buy some desktop publishing supplies like business card stock and a graphics program like The Print Shop. (Your computer might already have a program installed).

Design your own business card. Make sure you put your website AND your blog site on that card as well as your phone number. Add an attractive graphic, like the cover of your book or your own portrait shot, and print your own business cards.

Now, what do you do with all these dozens and dozens of business cards besides handing them out to everyone you know in church or at the club?

  1. Christmas is a great time of the year to start this marketing plan. Christmas means Christmas cards! Put a business card in every Christmas card you send.
  2. Put a business card in all the bills you pay through the mail (All the time, not just at Christmas).
  3. Put a business card with every tip you leave at a restaurant.
  4. If your books are sold in any stores, ask the store manager if you can place some business cards at the check-out counter, or sometimes the store will have a community bulletin board where you can post some cards.
  5. Of course, when you are selling your books at book signings or at vending affairs, a nice pile of cards should be on your table for folks to take at will.

Short of dropping thousands of these little advertisements out of a plane flying over a football stadium, you can explore other ways to get your name out there using business cards. It’s an inexpensive but effective way to let folks know that you’ve arrived as an author. And it really doesn’t cost that much. So plan some strategy and get started.

Look for more marketing tips to come in future blogs. Maybe I can help you with that dreaded part of writing/publishing that most of us authors hate as much as an abscessed tooth.

(And now a word from our sponsor: shameless promotion straight ahead!)

Christian foster girl Skye Nicholson has her hands full when wild Tanya Bell, another foster girl at Keystone Stables, wants nothing to do with her or the horses.

But then, a mare dies giving birth to a filly, and Tanya’s perspective on life starts to change.

Keystone Stables Book 3

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Belles-Special-Keystone-Stables-ebook/dp/B003SE765M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438095205&sr=1-1&keywords=Southern+belle%27s+special+gift+by++Marsha+Hubler

July 20, 2015

A Word about Marketing and Promotion

Marsha.Bk.Signing.Munce.2013

If you’ve gotten a book published, then you’ve probably experienced the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of marketing your own work.

Book signings? I hate them. In another blog, I’ll tell you why.

Most writers hate all kinds of promotion and marketing because they take us away from valuable writing time; yet, they are a necessary evil to get our names out there in the public eye.

If you haven’t a big name that might pop up on a talk show or on syndicated radio programs (which WILL sell thousands of books), then you have to devise a plan to promote your work and yourself.

We’re going to post a few blogs about this topic because there’s SO much to know about marketing a book. Even if you are just in the process of writing your manuscript, you need to promote yourself, and one of the biggies these days is social media online.

So, today’s writing tip is a short one: start a website and a blog site. That’s one way to start getting the exposure you need to sell books. Then post on your blog regularly, at least once or twice a week to build up your following.

“But my book isn’t even out yet,” you might say.

Nevertheless, you can start drawing a fan base by writing either short excerpts of your book or writing about topics or themes similar to that of your book. I have two active blogs at the moment. The one, www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com is all about horses and is targeted at kids who are horse fans and would want to read my Keystone Stables books. My other blog, www.marshahubler.wordpress.com, targets writers and is primarily a service blog to help other writers with all facets of the writing/publishing business.

It takes years to build up a fan base, so devise a plan and get to it. Choose a theme or topics of interest that will draw folks to your sites. Get your name floating out there in cyberspace so when your book comes out, folks will, first of all, know who you are and will know about you and your book through your social media. Secondly, they’ll be eager to buy a book with an author with whom they’ve had direct contact.

Whether you’re planning to be published, have the contract in your hand, or already have your book out, get started today!

KEYSTONE STABLES BOOK ONE

A HORSE TO LOVE

Skye Nicholson is a hateful foster kid, but when she meets Christian foster parents and a gorgeous horse named Champ, her life is changed.

Keystone Stables Book 1

 

July 13, 2015

Passive vs. Active Verbs

“Am, are, is, was, were, be, been!”

I don’t know how many times throughout my teaching career I had kids in my English classes recite those “BEING VERBS” so they would know NOT to use them in their writing assignments so often. I dare say thousands of times. So, the list has been ingrained in my thick brain as much as I hoped it was ingrained in my students’ mushy minds.

But, you know, after all the years I’ve taught English and all the years I’ve been writing for publication, I still catch myself overusing these words when I’m expounding. Using these words seems to come as natural as breathing, not only for beginning writers but for seasoned vets as well.

These nasty little three-and-four-letter words are like pesky little gnats in your eyes and the foundation to what we call the “passive voice,” a voice you should try to avoid 90% of the time. Why?

The passive voice makes your writing dull, lifeless, and uninteresting. These little nasties take the punch right out of any really good story you’re trying to write.

Let’s look at a few examples of passive voice verbs vs. active voice:

Passive: Joe was walking his dog Barney last night. (Ho hum.)

Active: Joe walked his dog Barney last night.

 

Passive: Martha was listening to her brother’s phone conversation.

Active: Martha listened to her brother’s phone conversation.

 

Passive: Trigger, a handsome Palomino, was ridden by Roy Rogers.

Active: Roy Rogers rode Trigger, a handsome Palomino.

 

Passive: Sally’s baby boy is loving his new toy.

Active: Sally’s baby boy loves his new toy.

 

Passive: The Jones’ kids have been going to camp every summer for years.

Active: The Jones’ kids have gone to camp every summer for years.

So, in a nutshell, there you have a quick survey of one aspect of the passive versus active voice. Take the time to evaluate some of your latest writings. Use a highlighter and see how many times these little nasties pop up. You’ll probably be surprised.

Just working on this one facet of your writing will improve your manuscripts far beyond what you can imagine. Work on sentence structure. Throw out the little nasties and make stronger sentences with more of a punch. Your readers will be glad you did, and they’ll be eager to turn the page in your book to see what’s coming next.

 

************************************

IT’S NOT TOO LATE  TO REGISTER FOR THE

MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE!

Dryer.Hall.Ft.Reg.Sign

July 19th-24th

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Four Major Morning Continuing Classes

40 Afternoon Workshops

Fellowship with Other Authors, Agents, and Editors

Suellen.Brenda.Carol.W.Camp

July 6, 2015

You Should Tell, Not Show?

In my last blog, I focused on “showing,” not “telling” in narration, and I gave you an example of lousy narration versus that which will catch the eye of the beholder.

Let’s continue with the premise that good narration can be “telling,” not “showing” if handled properly. If you do need to “expound” about details that you simply can’t include in dialogue, then I suggest following the next few steps to good “telling:”

  1. “Paint” a picture with your words that includes as many of the senses as you can. (Remember my waterfall scene in the last blog?) Think of your reader as one of the characters so he/she experiences the same thing your characters are experiencing.
  2. If you are going to open your book (or each chapter, for that matter) with narration and not dialogue, hook your reader. That all important first paragraph of your novel will either inspire your reader to go on or cause him to yawn and put your book down. Check the opening paragraphs of best-selling authors and analyze how they grab your attention in that first paragraph.
  3. Even though you’re probably writing your novel in one predominant character’s voice, good narration often establishes an omniscient voice, one that is authoritative and sets the general mood of the novel. The earlier you accomplish this, the better. (Again, study the beginning chapters of some great novels. What voice does the writer present in the narration?)
  4. Do not expound for pages and pages of narration. That’s a sure-way to lose your reader. Condense and summarize if nothing exciting is happening to your character. Remember our literature AND our readers today in our fast-moving society are both a far cry from the novels or fans of that style or writing from decades ago.
  5. Dialogue is not always the way to go with back story. If details are not that important in a character’s past life, you can work it in to the manuscript so that your character is reflecting into the past. Don’t bore your reader with unimportant details!
  6. Shorten your narration to a few sentences if you’re describing secondary characters. You can’t always show every single action, dialogue, or mood of all your characters. It isn’t necessary. There are times when you will want to economize your method and just plain “tell” the reader what happened. But as a skillful storyTELLER, you can refine your writing style and keep your reader on the edge of his seat, even if you are “telling,” not “showing.”

So there you have it. Telling is not always bad. It depends entirely on the skill you incorporate to hook that reader and keep his attention through your spurts of narration.

 

************************************

TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE

MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE!

Jim.Director

Becky and Jim Fahringer

(Directors of the Montrose Bible Conference Center)

July 19th-24th

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Four Major Morning Continuing Classes

40 Afternoon Workshops

Paid Professional Critiques with Award-Winning Authors and Editors

Fellowship with Other Authors, Agents, and Editors

EVA.MARIE.EVERSON.Photo

Award-winning Eva Marie Everson

will present Foundations of Fiction through Film

(6 sessions)

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