Blogging on the Run

Patricia Bowmer maintains an active and engaging blog featuring almost essay length posts. The posts are contemplative and blend humour and observations on life and running with some well-chosen images. They are very much in keeping with her book Akilina, which she also promotes on the blog and an earlier memoir, In Pursuit of Joy. So the blog functions in at least three ways — to promote Patricia's books, to provide her existing readers and potential readers with additional content and maintain an ongoing link with them, and as a motivational tool to continue writing and thinking about issues important to her. An excellent model for authors wanting to build their own community and 'brand'.



Book Marketing Goes Vertical

Leo Shatzkin weighs in with some interesting thoughts on the road ahead for book marketing. He believes books (and he sees a largely digital future) will be marketed vertically — that is, by audience segment. Publishers will use the Internet and social media to discover and understand common audiences and then create and market titles tailored for those audiences. They would no longer promote books one big title at a time, and older 'dormant' books might be revived if marketers manage to connect them to their appropriate community/market. If books are to be largely digital, then shelf-life is no longer a deciding factor for the long-term success of a book.

Joe Queenan defends the printed book

American writer and humorist Joe Queenan explains why he thinks paper books "are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system". Indeed, the idea of reading a single, relatively coherent piece of work that is not hyperlinked and studded with distractions and animations, and which the reader actually owns rather than rents, is rather attractive. No compatibility issues, can be read by anyone, can be loaned, sold or given away, and takes up space in an actual physical location, and will wait patiently to be read, or re-read. The growth of ebook publishing has slowed somewhat in recent months, so those of us with a lingering passion for paper can still hope 'real' books will survive as a viable business model and an inspiration to people for whom speed and 'convenience' are not everything.

Book Launches Can Be Effective

Rosie Abbot, author of Scent of Belonging reports that the recent launch of her book went extremely well.

'The Scent of Belonging' launch at Collins in Bairnsdale last night was a huge success. An audience of about 50 on a cold week night in the country is a great attendance. I spoke for about 30 minutes, followed by terrific book sales and signings that pleased Di Johnston, Manager of Collins Booksellers. Feedback has been rolling in. An extract from the latest email:

"Your sermon to the multitudes last night was inspiring. For someone “out of their comfort zone” you did a helluva job! You were interesting, warm, and your straightforward style and honesty did you proud. I think the sustained applause at the end of your talk was the proof of the pud. Congratulations!"

An earlier launch, held in my home town of Paynesville in July, attracted similar numbers and I am now receiving very positive feedback from readers. 

The book is currently being reviewed by CAE Melbourne Book Groups for consideration in their catalogue; I have some book club 'meet the author, discuss the book' events lined up in November, and am currently arranging another launch at Collins Booksellers in Traralgon, Central Gippsland.

Collins Booksellers in Bairnsdale have devoted a full window display to the promotion of 'The Scent of Belonging' which will be pride of place for two weeks (photos attached). Let's hope sales skyrocket!

 If an author knows their market, has good local support and gets the word out, a launch can be a real financial and emotional boost.

E Book Promotional Hints for Authors

From book distributor Dennis Jones, the following practical suggestions for getting traction with your ebook offerings.

1. Sites where you can add yourself as an author, and your book if it's not already listed (or add to the details about your book if it's already there)

2. Some useful starting points about blogging and social networking

3. Mobilise your fans/family/friends on these sites

On any site that allows ratings/reviews (such as those above), ask all your friends and relatives (and anyone you know with an internet account) to go and rave about your books with positive comments and ratings… many sites are also now starting to feature Facebook 'Like' buttons or Google+ '+1' buttons, so any friends who are on those social networks should make sure they click these as well. Every good review, 5-star rating or 'Like' will add to the book's visibility in searches both on the bookseller sites and in general internet searches. Amazon leads the way here (as they do for general online shopping customer interaction); Kobo has some interesting features available for accountholders (it's free to join), including automated linking to Facebook inside the 'Reading Life' area of their site; Booku allows reviews, ratings, likes and +1s

4)  Other ideas

Make sure you include links on your blog/website to other blogs/web resources you have found useful, they will often give you a 'link-back' which will add traffic to your site(s).

Don't limit yourself by only thinking about how to use your online presence to attract new readers, make sure you interact with other authors doing the same thing, learn from them, compare notes, share tips. Whenever you visit another author's blog/site look at all of the links they have included, there will almost always be something of interest there.

Smashing Marketing

For those bypassing traditional publishers and going online with their ebook offerings, Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords has produced a handy promotional guide. Part of his collection of tips relates to promotion within Smashwords, and the other portion to online promotion in general. When you look at the vast volume of ebooks being uploaded every day, acquiring a bit of promotional nous  is not optional, but absolutely essential. The Internet booksellers do not promote accidental discovery in the same way that physical bookstores did (and still do, at least in some places). And did we mention that the guide is free?

Calling All Publishers

Though facing an uncertain future, publishers are still the preferred point of entry for many authors. The prospect of completely going it alone is daunting for all but the most optimistic and entrepreneurial. The Australian Writers Marketplace is perhaps the most comprehensive and best known resource, but the Australian Publishers' Association Directory is also worth consulting. And if your tastes are more towards the independent, risk-taking end of the publishing spectrum, SPUNC (The Small Press Network) maintains an excellent web presence for smaller publishers. As always, check each publisher's submission policies.

Chip Kidd Talks About Books

TED Talks tend to be equal parts inspiration and irritation. Inspiration for presenting talented scientists and creatives at the peak of their game, and irritation at a sometimes messianic and overblown tone. Chip Kidd is one of the most celebrated book designers in the USA, but his recent TED talk shed very little light on his design process, influences and interaction with authors. His stage mannerisms tended to distract from rather than accentuate his message. Nonetheless, he does have a particular talent for finding iconic images that seem to capture the essence of a book.

Cassian Brown: Content is King

Author of two classy science fiction novels (covers designed by Chameleon), Cassian Brown has put together a website to showcase his work. Apart from excerpting an exciting sequence from Baxter Mariah, he links to the many ebook and print purveyors of his work, offers signed copies, a newsletter signup and biographical information. A next step might be to link to other writers and science-fiction oriented websites, to locate himself in the online sci-fi ecosystem. A link to his twitter account (EllameinePress) might also be useful.

Roman Zenith

Roman sculptors were sometimes very honest in their depictions of the great and the good. They showed sunken cheeks, wrinkles and other flaws. We took advantage of this by using a Roman sculpture for the cover of "Roman Zenith". The stark contrasts and psychologically acute depiction make for a surprisingly modern feel. The subtle backdrop of the Pantheon makes the setting and era clear.

Mind Blowing Bookshelf from Google

Google seems to have more projects than employees. A crew of hard core geeks at Google Data Arts have been experimenting with new ways to display data in your browser (works for both Chrome and Firefox). This animated globe shows Google searches by language, and a fascinating picture of global language dispersion it presents. English scattered widely over the globe, German confined entirely to Germany, Spanish dominating South America and French surprisingly rare in West Africa. Another animation displays 10,000 books in an ascending column -- a novel way to visually search a large number of works. 

Good Cover, Bad Cover

Science Fiction covers often provoke amusement amongst those who don't read Sci Fi. For those of us who do, we treasure the remarkable variety of cover art — from melodramatic pulp novels to high concept fiction and everything in between. The covers could be formulaic, but were often wildly inventive and even avant garde. After all, if you are writing about the future, you're not automatically bound by the constraints of the past. This website explores the often hilariously literal and overblown art of the less refined end of the genre, while this one catalogues Penguin's consistently high quality and restrained covers (mirroring the often high polish of the contents).





Still More Author promotional ideas

Richard Stamp, author of As the Sparks Fly Upwards has been very active and creative with the promotion of his book. He descibes some of his ideas below:

  1. I attend a local church which arsonists burned down three years ago. I have been selling books at $25 each and letting folk in the parish know that $5 for each book will go back into the rebuilding fund for all copies sold by them and within the parish. That way I get $20 a book back and the community benefits ....and buys more.  The suggestion therefore is that authors find a local cause which they can support and which then recruits more sellers and acts as a vehicle for selling more books.
  2. I have designed a simple poster. I have emailed it to a hundred folk or so around the world asking them to get them put up on community, club and church notice boards etc.  Eg There’s a town in Colorado in the USA which now has these flyers at the local gym, at the community hall and at the church. It all helps. I put the RRP on the ones for Australian use ... but left it off those sent to other countries where the cost would be differently expressed.
  3. I have used some of the old galley copies in this way; I have asked local places where people have to wait for a while if I can put a copy in their waiting room.
  4. I have  put a stick-on label on the front cover which says. This book has been lent by the author to ease your waiting time. Please do not remove it. Copies of this book may be purchased from Collins ABC shops also at Dymocks and also at Bookmark on High Street. [all local bookshops] or direct from the author on ph 54353576  
    Since each chapter of my book is a story in itself this is ideal for folk to read one story or two while they wait. Thus their appetite might be sharpened and a desire to buy the book and finish reading it be engendered. Books are now at the local Foot Clinic, at a large local medical practice and also at the new lounge and waiting area at a local garage complex where people wait while work is done on their vehicle.  More venues are planned.

These are additional measures to the usual personal give/away cards with the book’s details, interviews and reviews on radio and in local newspapers. Also I have visited various bookshops in the region [Bendigo and central Macedon ranges towns]  and 7 bookshops now have it in stock.

Taking the cake

Books are sometimes destined to become food for silverfish, but a recent family history we designed ended up as party fare. Launched at her 92nd birthday party, Sheilah Hamilton's book dealt with her life and extended family. Her children arranged for the book cover to be printed in edible ink onto her cake, even down to the spine and simulated pages. 

Type with soul

If precise typefaces with mathematically determined curves put together on a computer leave you a little cold, there is a tiny corner of the typosphere that is embracing a hand made alternative. The Organic Type features hand-drawn, painted, sketched, rubbed and eroded typefaces, achieving warm and charming effects impossible with standard type. Their typefaces cannot be installed via a font manager. Instead, each letter is supplied as a separate layered image file, and needs to be manually placed and kerned. Perfect for arresting and highly individual headers, and capable of heavy lifting in almost any design context. 

There Was Life Before Google?

This fascinating project maps the correspondence-based connections between the key thinkers in the enlightenment 'project', whereby 18th century intellectuals helped realign the church and state, gave science tremendous impetus and create the modern world. The graphics on this site effectively illustrate the flow of ideas and influence and gives us some perspective on our own massively linked world.