Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marketing And Self Promotion

"Carly's Wish" has sold 55 copies to date!

Marketing has to be one of the most challenging parts of self-publishing but it can also be very interesting and even fun! So far one of the best marketing tools I have found has been use of the social networking sites. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are a few of the most popular.

By keeping active on these sites I have seen authors build an unbelievable fan base in a very short period of time. The more people following you, the more sales you can generate.

For "Carly's Wish," I have started a Facebook Page called "Concepts with Carly" where I plan to post daily preschool related games, activities, recipes, and tips. I also have included fun facts about caterpillars, butterflies, and insects from the book; which I plan to expand on in the future. Everything on the page is written from the perspective of Carly the Caterpillar the main character in my series of children's conceptual picture books.

I am also getting ready to have my first book signing at the John McIntire Public Library in Zanesville, Ohio on Saturday September 26th from 11:00 to 1:00. This is something I need to work on advertising in order to draw more people to the signing. Books will be available for sale at the signing for $8.00 each.

Self promotion is not easy and I would recommend networking and even taking a promotional workshop to help in this area if you are entertaining the idea of self publishing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Marketing Challenge

Well its been about two months now and I have sold over 40 copies of "Carly's Wish."
The marketing for the book has proven to be a challenge so far. I have taken copies to a couple of public libraries and gotten them onto the children's department shelves and have been offered the opportunity for a book signing. I have established a website and tried promotion through outlets such as Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist, and Ebay. So far the only of these to have resulted in any sales is MySpace and Facebook.
Where do I go from here, I'm not sure. I will keep you posted once I have talked with a few other authors to see how they have done it.
When all is said and done, I am not unhappy with the results so far. The work I've done marking the book to date has not been that difficult and I have learned a lot along the way.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I've Finally Done It

Well all the deed is done. After lots of hard work, some of which I expected and some that was very unexpected, "Carly's Wish" is on the market.

I promised that once the process was complete I would disclose my choice in publishing along with a honest review, so here goes. I decided to go with a print on demand company associated with Amazon called Createspace. I made the decision for several key reasons: the first being the cost factor, the second being ease and quality, finally and most importantly maintaining all rights to my material.

When I decided to do this I checked into many self-publishing options and found that it can be very costly and in most cases you have to buy 500+ books in order to keep your cost down. With very little start up capital and a fear of thousands of books drawing dust in the attic I continued the search for another option.

The ease of the process was another big factor I had to consider. With limited time I needed to work with a print on demand that was easy to understand and follow and one that didn't have a lot of hidden costs. I found the Createspace site easy to navigate, information well explained and straight forward, and in general very helpful. The quality of the final material also impressed me. One of the things I liked most was that you receive a proof of your work to go over and approve of or make any changes you would like, and until you are satisfied and give the go ahead nothing is printed.

Finally, my main factor in this choice was the fact that I maintain all rights to the material. I didn't want parts of the story changed or for someone else to illustrate it. This allowed me to have full control over the finished product. I am also free to do with the material anything I choose even selling it to another publishing house.

Marketing the book is proving to be the only drawback to this type of publishing. Although Createspace comes with the added bonus of both having your book placed on and in the Createspace e-store, selling the book is up to you. I am just beginning this process so I'll fill you in as I go along. I can tell you that, since hitting the market on May 7th, 2009, to date I've sold 32 copies!!

Overall the process has went very well for me and hopefully will continue to, but I'll be sure to let you in on any issues that arise in the future. Anyone considering the self-publishing route should really look into Createspace. It may suit your purposes and it may not but in my opinion it is definitely worth the time to check it out.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Brief Update on My Progress

I can not believe how quickly time can get away from you. I have been so busy trying to get this book ready and in print that I haven't taken care of anything else. Things are going well now. It was touch and go on my end for awhile.
Let me begin by giving one piece of advise: if you want to self publish learn all that you can about PDF, DPI or PPI, and ABC's (just kidding on that last one). The old illustrations posed a problem for awhile but all is well and I have a proof of the book in hand. I am so excited, it looks great and I only want to make a couple of minor changes before going to print. Hopefully by this time next month I will have a book for sale.
So far throughout this process I have had a good experience. I have had minimal cost and good quality of service through the printers. I am still reluctant to mention who I am going through until I can provide complete information on my experience with them. At this point, SO FAR SO GOOD!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Not All About The Writing

I've been behind on writing, my children have been ill and I am not getting much in the way of sleep so I may ramble a little. Please forgive me.

My first attempt at self-publishing is in the works. I submitted to the printers only to find out that I had made a few errors in my PDF file. At first I was discouraged that I had to start from the beginning with the art work, but this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had submitted the material although I was still not 100% satisfied thinking that I had done all that I could do with such old files. I've been working with an ADOBE Photoshop program and my new illustrations are turning out much more appealing, in my opinion.
I am now very thankful that I didn't print my first submission. The revisions in artwork and a few other suggestions made by the printers have also led to some structural changes that I had not considered. I have been learning a lot through this process. Writing is not something to be taken lightly, it is a lot of hard work. There were times when I thought that getting the story down just right, crossing all the t's, and editing a dozen times would never end. Now I realize this is only the beginning.

I have always enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy writing and I find that to succeed as a writer you have to love to read and research. Lately I have been researching printers, editors, and agents; business proposals and writing platforms; children's magazines, programs, and educational needs for preschool age children; not to mention query letters and business plans. Believe me when I say the list goes on and on.

So, you want to be a writer and progress to published author! You have an idea for a story, you write it down and decide it's pretty good. Don't stop there! Read it, and write it again, and again and again. Now that that is done; edit, edit, edit, and then write it again! Research not only where to submit your material and how to promote it but how to sell yourself as a writer that should be read. Decide on your writing platform and marketing strategy or at the very least find those that can do this for you. Network, network, network. Finally, your ready to submit your material, be prepared to wait, and if your lucky enough to sell be prepared to wait some more. If you don't sell this time around be prepared to start the process over again, maybe from the beginning or at the very least somewhere in the middle. No one said it would not be work!

Bottom line: Love to write, love to read, enjoy research, and never stop learning...then you might have a chance in the world of the published author.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Curse of the Writer

Sometimes I curse the writer inside. Most times we get along fine, I sit down at the computer or with pen and paper and my hands can barely keep up with my mind. At times it comes so easy that I question if what I am putting down on paper is flowing along as nicely as it seems or if it will turn out to be nothing more than random thoughts when I take the time to read it. Other times, like now for instance, I have spent days trying to decide what to share on this blog and have spent the last 30 minutes staring at a blank text box unable to get inspired.
Yet, I am sure that at the most inappropriate time, like the middle of the night, inspiration will strike and the ideas will flow. Do I get up and write them down now or wait until morning. I do not know why I even go through this debate with myself any longer, it all depends on how important the idea is to me. If I wait until morning, past experience has proven that the chances are I will only remember that I had a really good idea, the idea itself will by then be gone.
It is with this thought in mind that I offer this piece of very simple advice to all writers:


Keep one by the bed, keep one in your purse, at your desk and in the car. Although I do not recommend recording your ideas at stop lights, I do recommend writing them down as soon as you can. You never know when the writer inside will decide to share an inspiring idea with you, and then turn around only to say, "Oops, sorry, you waited to long,"then the idea is gone as quickly as it came.
So although I welcome every idea offered up, it is times like this; 1:24am, in very little light, trying to stay between the lines with my thoughts and not disturb those that are sleeping around me. Thoughts that pour into my head and demand to be recorded, although I am already to tired. These are the times when I feel the curse of the writer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Plugging Along

I wrote my first children's book over 13 years ago. Since then it has been sitting and waiting on me to do something with it, besides taking it out of the folder and looking at it now and then. I can't say exactly why it has taken this long but I think it has to do with growth. Growth as a person, growth as a writer, and most of all a growth in self-confidence both as a person and as a writer.
I can honestly say that I am ready!!! I know that with a lot of hard work and determination I can make that journey from writer to published author. What better way to learn about what the world of writing has to offer than by jumping in and trying it out. I felt it was also appropriate to take my first attempt at children's writing along with me. First of all because I feel very strongly in reading to and educating our children and this project, being a preschool aged concept book, covers both of those areas. My second reason for wanting to focus on doing something with this project is because it has been screaming to get out of that folder for to long now and I believe it has potential not only on its own, but also as a possible series. I promise to share more of this work with you as soon as I have determined that it is complete and on its way.
I have chosen to self-publish this piece for several reasons. The main one being because it is a project that I wish to maintain some level of control over. I also want to use it as a way to get my feet wet in the fast rising river of the self-publishing market. This is my chance to see what its all about, what works and what doesn't. I will be glad to share any information I find useful along the way, but keep in mind what may work or may not work for my project may not be the same for another persons project. Anything I share with you is a matter of personal opinion and should be treated as such. I encourage everyone to do their own research and find what works best for them.
I've spent weeks now reading about, emailing, and talking to self-publishing companies. The first thing I have discovered is that if you truly want it done there is someone out there that will be more than happy to take your money to do it. Research carefully, talk to writers that have used these services, and when you think you have found the one for you, research it again. I will keep you posted on my choice for this project and how it is going once I have given it a fair amount of time to develop a well educated opinion.
Other things I am doing to build on my writing business besides writing this blog and stepping into the self-publishing arena include, but are far from limited to: working with a writing career coach, submitting articles to children's magazines, writing and more writing, and most importantly regularly attending my Y-City Writers Group meetings. I can't say enough about joining a good local writing group. For myself belonging to this group has not only encouraged me to write but to be proud of my work. The members of this group provide not only support, but honest opinions and a wealth of information that I might otherwise miss. There is a lot of information out there; in your community, magazines, and of course the internet to name only a few sources. No one person can access it all, so its nice to have others provide you with what they have found, and to share what you know with them.
Until next time, I plan to keep plugging along with what I enjoy and encourage everyone to do the same, and if at all possible find a group of others that enjoy the same thing and join. You may be surprised by how much it can help you grow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Brief History of How I Got Here

I began writing in elementary school. I wrote articles for our school paper and found that I really liked it. By the time I was in high school I had started writing a wide variety of material: short stories, poems, articles, research papers, letters, journals, anything I could think of.
During the summer, before my senior year, I began writing my first romance novel. I found it a couple of years ago in a box, unfinished, and just waiting on an ending. After graduation I married, had my first child, and started college. My writing for the next few years became all about term papers and to-do lists. It wasn't until after the arrival of my second and third children that I began to write again for fun. I finished my first children's picture book in 1995 complete with illustrations. I attended my first author presentation and book signing at our local library and became even more interested in the writing process. I continued to write short stories and completed another children's book before the arrival of my fourth child. After that my writing went down hill along with my twelve year marriage. Being a single mother of four, working full time, and returning to college to finish my Associates Degree in Accounting, didn't leave much time to write. Although I was back to lists and term papers, I still had that writers desire. By December of 2003, I found myself remarried with two stepchildren, operating a family child care center from my home, and armed with a lot of information for stories to be told. It was during this time that I joined a local writing group and the creative juices began to flow. More than five years have passed since I first walked into that first writers group meeting and my husband and I have since become grandparents and added two more children of our own to the lot, but I feel confident that I am ready to take my writing to another level and work toward becoming a published author.
So, with this blog, I invite you to share in what ever may be in store for me on this journey as I begin to navigate a new path in my life. Along the way I plan to share not only any valuable writing or publishing information I may find, but also stories of my life both past and present, and some of what I have written. I can not guarantee where this journey may take us, but I can promise wide variety and that we will never be bored on the way.