Thursday, May 22, 2008

New author learning curve

The New Author Learning Curve

Getting Started
As in all of life, attitude is everything. In my book, The Last Rose, I stress the importance of approaching everything you do with a positive attitude. Promoting your book is no exception.

For me, writing the book was the easiest part of becoming an author. It took me three months to write it, and six months to have four people edit the original document before it was ready to be published. You need to find good editors. I spent another nine months figuring out how to get it published and released to the public. The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine helped me do this. This year’s BEA will mark the end of the first year that my book has been in the marketplace.

The publication date is when the learning curve starts to get steep. Fortunately, the excitement of seeing your book in print and in the internet bookstores makes this curve an easy climb. The real work starts here. While my first restaurant was open, I had no trouble going through 1500 copies of my book. These people knew me and my story and wanted to read about it. Unfortunately that knowledge does not spread around the world even when your book finds its way to hundreds of websites around the world. It is up to you to find ways to lead people to your book on these sites.

Bad things happen in an instant. Good things seem to take forever. I first said that three years ago. Now I feel like an expert on the subject. It applies to the publishing industry as well as anyplace. The first thing you must learn is how to be patient. It takes time to learn how the industry functions and even more time to learn how to function within the industry. I hope this brief article will help you accomplish both.

Be Enthusiastic
I have been accused of being obsessed with my book. It was not meant to be a compliment, but I took it as one. Be obsessed and passionate about your book. If you’re not, no one else will be.

Read and Listen
Use every resource you can find to learn more about the industry and how it works. Subscribe to every newsletter you think might help. You can start with BookPros, Phenix & Phenix, PMA, John Kremer, Steve Harrison, Brian Jud and Publishers Weekly. Some of these people also have tele-seminars that are worth listening to.

Create a Website
Create a website for your book and refer everyone to it to learn more about your book. I created my own site using Web Easy software. You can check it out at
If you add videos to your site, I found that Video Edit Magic works well as an editor and Digital Media Converter is the best way to compress the files. They are both by DeskShare.

Use Social Networking Sites
Find websites that attract avid book readers such as,, and Create accounts and post information about your book on each one.

Use Google Alerts
Google alerts keep track of any websites that mention your book. Do one for the name of the book and one for your name. Use Google to find readers, reviewers, magazines, media people, etc. who might take an interest in your book. Set a goal to find and send information about your book to someone new every day. Do not be afraid to give your book away. You need awareness more than you need money. Web rings also help get your message out.

Relax with the Media
Media interviews are always interesting and never what you expect. Relax and just talk to them as though you were telling your best friend about something new and exciting in your life that you wanted to share with them. You will be satisfied with most of them, but not all. The worst one for me was a few minutes during a drive time radio show where I was interrupted by several commercials that were longer than my interview. I thought it was a total waste of time. Then I learned that a manager for a Barnes & Noble store heard it on her way to work and ordered 11 copies of my book.

Festivals, Fairs and Signings
Search for book festivals and fairs that are close enough for you to participate in. Find bookstores and libraries that are willing to set up author events for you. Not everyone will be interested in you. Be persistent and keep trying. At festivals and fairs you will find yourself sitting behind a table watching people walk by. Have attractive postcards printed about your book. Most people will accept one from you even if they barely slow down as they pass. Many of them will stop back to talk and purchase your book later in the day. I also use a 15 inch digital picture frame with a slide show to draw their attention. Don’t be afraid to dress for the part. My book cover features a yellow rose, so I wear a bright yellow shirt with the name of the book on it. I put a postcard in every book and ask that they send it to a friend.

Book Expo America
BEA is a very different story. The only time you sit behind a table there is during the ½ hour you get to sign your book. There you have to attract attention to your book while you walk the aisles. I found that the best way to do that is to have large book bags printed with the name of your book on them. Everyone there picks up more books than they can carry so they are all willing to become walking signs for your book. Be sure to put your book info in each one of them with a label telling when and where you will be signing your book. All the world is your stage here: the aisles, the food court, your hotel, the shuttle bus, etc. At my signing I also have a bowl for business cards to be added to my mailing list. I pick one card and send the winner a yellow rose on the 13th of each month for the next year. This is significant to my book. You will have to find your own type of prize. During your book signing have people standing in the main aisles giving out copies of your book and sending the people to you for your signature. The people from BookPros are very good at this. I signed 52 copies of my book in 25 minutes. The author beside me only signed two. It pays to do your homework.

If it sounds like I was busy this year, you are absolutely right. It is a wonderful type of busy, so publish your book and enjoy the ride.

Thomas E. Pierce

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