Sept. 28, 2015

Self Publishing

(Marketing Post Number Eleven)


No matter which way you go, you’ve got to SELL, SELL, SELL yourself and your book.

These days, there’s a lot to be said about self publishing your own book. In fact, most of the writer friends I know have gone this route because of the difficulty, and LONG process, of being accepted and published by a royalty or traditional company.

There are several ways to go with this venue, and all involve YOUR OWN money up front, but if you want to see your name in print, it’s the only option you might have. You’ll have a choice of hard or soft cover, the number of pages, color or B/W photos, and the layout of the entire book. One of the other big advantages is that you probably can have your printed book in your hands in less than a month instead of waiting two or three years. Here are some of your choices:

  1. Go to an inexpensive “print shop” in your community that will print exactly what you put on the CD and give them. But here’s a warning! Be sharp on your own editing and revising because there will be none from the print shop. If you spell “Mnoday” wrong in your manuscript, that’s what will be in your final product. Yes, the process is relatively cheap compared to other self publishing options, but you better be pretty good with your PUGS (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling), or you might be embarrassed when you get your book in print and discover that your title is spelled wrong. (I actually have seen a self-published book with an apostrophe used incorrectly in the title. Zowie!)
  2. Put some hard cash up front (like, at least $1600-$2000) and hire a reputable company to print about 100-200 of your books. Many such companies will have in-house editors who’ll work with you to make sure your book is a reflection of your best writing and their fine work. As far as marketing and promotion go, as with the first option, it’s all yours, baby. Marketing your book falls 100% in your lap, which will be a costly venture, as well.
  3. Submit your manuscript to the latest craze in self publishing: “partnership” or “indie” publishing, which is becoming a very popular way to publish with small royalty companies. If you enter into a contract with this type of company, it will give you no money up front, BUT it won’t ask you for any money up front either. The company will provide editors to perfect your manuscript, and when the final product comes out, the company will also help to promote it by posting it on numerous websites, review sites, and markets like Amazon. Check out THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON on my website www.marshahubler.com or on Amazon for this final product.
  4. Publish your book through online businesses like Amazon that use printers like Create Space in Charleston, SC. The cost can be comparable to local print shops who focus on hard copies. However, the big advantage is your books will be posted online for sale as part of the deal. The cost, as with all other print shop deals, varies according to number of pages in your book, type of cover chosen, and the number of pages that you want with color.

Now, after reading this post, if you decide you no longer have the patience to wait for a royalty company to come knocking on your door and you do have the capital to proceed, then go for it. Just decide which way you want to go. And one other small but important detail: make sure you get an ISBN number installed on the back cover. Some print shops or publishing companies will NOT provide this and you must apply and pay for the number yourself. Other companies WILL do that work for you (for a fee). If you plan to try to market your book anywhere in stores or on eBay, you must have the ISBN, or your book cannot be sold through these venues.

Happy publishing! (Next time: Marketing Through Speaking Engagements)

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Montrose Christian Writers Conference Information) www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

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



Dallis Parker is determined to own Snow,

a wild Mustang that might not even exist.



September 21, 2015

It Takes Money to Make Money

(Marketing and Promotion Number 10)

A Word about Business Cards


Before we discuss today’s topic, let me revert to something I’ve already mentioned in two past blogs: business cards.

Although I’ve mentioned a frugal way to make your own with desktop publishing programs, you can also do well by watching for special deals at places like Staples and other office supply stores.

Just last week I purchased 500 cards for $9.99 on Staples’ website. After choosing one of their templates, I designed my own card, used one of their many photos, and uploaded a photo of the cover of A HORSE TO LOVE, book one in the Keystone Stables Series. I chose the closest store to my home for delivery, and in less than 24 hours (16 hours to be exact), the cards were finished and ready to be purchased at the store.

I am extremely well pleased with the cards, and, frankly, at that price, I couldn’t make the cards any cheaper. So check out those special deals at office supply stores not only business cards but also for posters, calendars, notebooks, or any other “paper” you’d like to use for promotion.

Other Ways to Promote your Books

Now, let’s look at several of the more expensive ways to promote your books. Remember, I’ve said it takes money to make money, and when you promote and market yourself, it does take bucks.

How much you want to invest in your marketing strategy depends on your financial situation. Mine is quite limited, but here are three techniques that have worked for me over the years:

Rent vendor’s space at conventions, conferences, or gatherings of like-minded folk:


One of the best places I’ve sold books is at the annual PA CHAP state homeschool convention held every May for two days in a huge hall in Harrisburg, PA, with over 150 vendors. Yes, the vending fee is expensive, and each year I just about break even, but as I’ve said before, “exposure is the key to successful book sales.” Thousands of homeschoolers attend that event every year. Usually, if families buy one or two books, they come back for more the next year or buy others online or at book stores. Even with the staggering economy, I sell an average of 130 books at that convention over a two-day period. I’ve also had vending space at craft fairs and “horsie” events, most with reasonable vending fees, which sometimes paid off. (Most states have their own large annual homeschool conventions. Check it out online.)

Offer special deals with your book sales:

I have all kinds of special deals. These three are the most popular:

1. Buy a set of two or more of my horse books, and I tie them together with binder twine (used on hay bales) and include a free bookmark and a tiny plastic horse party favor tied onto the front of the set. I also void the state tax (which I cover).

2. Get a nice “horsie” gift such as a horse Christmas tree ornament or one of my other horse books if you buy the entire Keystone Stables set.

3.  Buy any four books on the table, get a fifth one free.

Offer a 20% coupon (which you’ve printed yourself with a graphics program):

The coupons go to folks who say, “I’m interested but can’t buy today.” Have an expiration date on the coupon and give them the coupon with your business card. Often, folks won’t follow through, but once in a while, someone will order.

Buy ad space in magazines:

This venue I’ve used very little except in local craft fair booklets or regional homeschool ad books. I can handle $25 or $50 per quarter of a page, but horse lovers’ magazines? Writers’ magazines? Farm or ranch magazines? Kids’ magazines? They start at something like $300 per quarter page and $1200 for a full page, which is far beyond what my budget can afford, so I stick with the “small stuff.”

So there you have it. Decide how much money you want to invest in making money and get busy.


(More shameless promotion)


Try to solve the mystery of the hidden Civil War coins before Woody

and the kids at the sleuth camp do.


Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Susquehanna Valley Writers Luncheon Information) www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

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

(Montrose Christian Writers Conference) www.montrosebible.org, http://www.fb.com/MontroseChristianWriters

September 14, 2015


(Marketing and Promotion Number Nine)

Before I took a social networking class to learn how to start and manage blog sites and “connect” to promote my books, I spent little time online trying to market my books. The reasons were two-fold: 1. My royalty publishing companies did most of the work, which included posting my books on Amazon and getting the books reviewed. 2. A few years ago, I had slower-than-a-snail-in-a-puddle-of-molasses dial up, totally frustrating to try to do much of anything online.

But one thing I did that proved to be very successful was contact Choice Books, the Christian book distributor responsible for placing Christian books in all Wal-Marts, hospital gift shops, truck stops, and other similar places of business in much of the northeastern USA.

When my first two Keystone Stables books were released, I naively went to our local Wal-Mart and asked to speak to the manager. Of course, I had this big spiel ready to try to convince him to place my books on his shelf. What I was expecting was for him to tell me that I had to contact the store’s headquarters in Arkansas. Remember, I said I was naïve (what an understatement)!

He told me Wal-Mart is not responsible for placing any books on their shelves. That decision is made by distributors, the Christian books done by Choice Books, at least in Northeastern USA. Okay, I got the hint and left red-faced.

I went home, went to Choice Books website, and emailed the company, telling them about my books.

Well, miracle of miracles, shortly thereafter, I started to see my books on the shelves of Wal-Marts and gift shops up and down the northeast coast. How did I know the books were in more than our local Wal-Marts? Friends and relatives were telling me they saw them on the shelves.

Wal-Mart carried my books for a little over a year, which thrilled me and helped make the first one a best seller. Every time I went to any Wal-Mart anywhere, I hunted out my books, autographed them, and placed an “AUTOGRAPHED COPY” sticker on the front of each one.

Ask me if that was exciting. You bet cha!

Wondering about the possibility of getting my books in other super stores in the area, I did some research and found that in K-Mart and other similar stores in other parts of the country, a company named Anderson does the Christian book distribution. I also contacted that distributor but had no response of any kind. They never returned my email, snail mail letter, or phone call.

But I am pleased to say that one email to Choice Books helped get my books a place on some frequently visited shelves for over a year. AND…a few months ago, I scheduled a book signing at a Wal-Mart. To do that, I had to ask Choice Books again to contact the publisher, Zondervan (now owned by Harper and Collins), to supply the books, which both entities graciously did.

The book signing at Wal-Mart was one of the most profitable I’ve ever had. I sold about 70 books in four hours. The manager at Wal-Mart agreed to place the left-over books on his book shelves and contact Choice Books to start stocking them in the store again.

I made a point to call Choice Books and let them know how successful the book signing went. Pleased with the results, the contact person made a commitment to start placing the Keystone Stables books on some store shelves again. Shortly thereafter, I spotted two of my books on a Choice Books display in a little country store, and a few friends told me they had seen my books in businesses in several different towns in central PA.

Ask me how excited I am…again!


(More shameless promotion)

Southern Belle’s Special Gift

Keystone Stables Book 3

When a mare dies and gives birth to a helpless foal, Skye and another foster kid, Tanya Bell,

learn what responsibility is really all about.

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Susq. Valley Writers Luncheon Information)  www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

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

September 7, 2015

Desktop Printing Saves Money

(Marketing and Promotion Number Eight)

Marketing your book(s) can be a very expensive endeavor, especially hard copy printing of advertisements and promotion.

How Can You Save?  One way you can save big time is to buy some quality cardstock and design your own “paper trail” using a desktop graphics and print program. I’ve designed and used all of the following:

1. Flyers/posters to hand to book store managers. If you’re fortunate enough that the store carries your books, the manager is usually willing to display your attractive posters somewhere in the store.

2. Brochures to have on your table when you do book signings or speaking engagements or to mail to prospective fans. Make sure the brochure has your name, phone number, website (and other key URLs), and email address on it.

3. Order forms: I’ve included an order form in my brochure, which features all the books’ covers with a short blurb about each one.

4. Business cards to “scatter abroad:” (I’ve already discussed in Marketing Post Number Two how to use business cards effectively both directly and indirectly.)

5. Your own letterhead for stationery featuring you as an author and a graphic of your book cover.

6. Coupons for special deals: In a previous post, I’ve already mentioned I’ve used coupons with book signings for prospective customers who are “really interested but don’t have enough money today to buy.” Give them a 10% off or free shipping coupon if they buy books by a certain deadline. You’ll soon find out who really meant that little cliché. It’s very easy to make your own coupons using a graphics program like the Print Shop.

All these “paper” marketing ideas require little time and a lot of creativity to produce attractive “ads” to promote you and your book. So jump on the self-publishing band wagon and get your name in print in all these different venues. You’ll be surprised how effective this type of campaign can be, and it won’t empty your pockets.

 (More Shameless Promotion)


Skye has her hands full trying to teach a deaf boy the correct way to ride Western. When Jonathan and a horse come up missing, Skye and Champ spearhead a search party into the PA mountains to try to find them.

Keystone Stables Book 4

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips)  www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Susquehanna Valley Writers Luncheon Information) www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

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

August 31, 2015

A Word About Mass Mailings

(Marketing and Promotion Number Seven)

Have you ever thought about doing a mass mailing campaign with printed versions of your books? Have you counted the cost? If you did the campaign, what were the results?

I’ve tried two different kinds of mass mailings, both with little or no results. At least, I think there were little or no results. They cost a couple hundred dollars total, which, of course, is a chance I took. Both campaigns appeared to be ineffective for me:

  1. I purchased a Christian school directory with hundreds of addresses of most of the Christian schools in the U.S.A. I bought 100 copies of book one, A HORSE TO LOVE, in my Keystone Stables Series, selected the schools with the largest enrollment, and sent each school a free book with information on an insert to order more. I received one thank-you letter from a school in California but not one order from any schools. Whether the schools went online to Zondervan to order more of my books, I’ll never know.
  2. I designed my own attractive flyer with all my books listed with their covers in color and a description of the book, a price listing, and an easy-to-use order form. I sent about 50 order forms to libraries, book stores, and “horsie” places like summer camps for kids across the country. The result! One order.

Now, like I said, I’ll never know if any of this promotion afforded me some sales made by these places directly to Zondervan or at book stores in their vicinities. But the response to me personally had me conclude it was not worth the effort.

My advice to you about mass mailings? Don’t bother. You’ll make better use of your time and money going to Starbucks for a cappuccino!

(More shameless promotion)


Book 8. Keystone Stables

Foster kid Skye has no idea where her real parents are, but then she meets an aunt she never knew she had

 and sets out on a quest to find her mom and dad.

Marsha Hubler Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

(Susquehanna Valley Writers Luncheon Information) www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

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

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)


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.


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


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