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Thursday, August 16, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


TANTALIZED 

I was like a kid in a candy store.  And Vistaprint was my candy store.

As a newly-published author, I was over the moon about marketing my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  So, I went crazy buying all kinds of promotional material.  You name it, I bought it: posters and postcards, bookmarks and sticky notes, and mugs and magnets.

Vistaprint met most of my needs.  But there was one special item I was dying to have. Like the State Farm commercial - I had to have it.

I made the decision to splurge on Budsie doll.  Budsies are customized stuffed dolls that can be created from a photo.  After seeing several finished products online, I felt confident that the manufacturers could create just what I wanted.  In a short while, I'd be holding my very own Maggie doll.  

Several weeks later, she arrived.  I could hardly wait to open the box.  But the moment I saw her, I was crushed.  Simply devastated.  

The doll's face did not resemble Maggie's face at all.  Its head was floppy.  The hair was made of red felt which made her look like she was wearing a hat.  

Maggie did not look like Maggie.  

This doll cost a fortune.  We're talking close to one hundred dollars and I could not use her.  She looked as sad as I felt.  

But rather than giving up on her, I made a bold decision.  This doll was going to get a makeover.  

To begin, the "hair" had to go.  I snipped it off and sewed a small red curly wig (think Little Orphan Annie) to the top of her head.  Next, Maggie underwent cosmetic surgery—I reshaped the nose and the mouth with thread and black markers.  Lastly, I strengthened Maggie's neck.  My husband suggested using VelCro to make the head more stable.  Finally when all of the work was done, Maggie looked more like Maggie.  

Now that she looks happier (and I am happier) I bring my Maggie Budsie doll to events.  She helps draw people to my book signing table.  However, spending lots of money on a doll that did not meet my expectations made me wonder if the money was well spent.  This big purchase brought me to my senses.  As the newness of authorship wore off, I started to tally my expenses—and I discovered that I had spent a fortune.  But the rationale was, I'd sell a lot of books to make up for the spending and get reimbursed from my publisher.  

Wrong on both counts.  

Every author envisions or plans how they hope to get their fans interested in their books.  With hindsight, I discovered that not every marketing tool was effective.  Here are some of the items I would not purchase to promote a second book:
  • Wooden ornaments used as gift giveaways
  • Magnets
  • A Facebook campaign boost 
  • 500 oversized postcards announcing the book signing 
  • Large cardboard table top displays for selling books at local shops
Also, I would not send as many free copies of the book to companies or to contests because they are not returned.

There were several items that were inexpensive and worth having.  I would purchase these things again:
  • Balloons for the book signing
  • Pencils and candy 
  • A poster of the book cover
  • Bookmarks (200)
  • Large envelopes for mailing books
  • Small metal display tripods
  • Personalized post-it notes
  • Plush mini toy puppies as a giveaway gift 

Promoting a book was new and confusing for me.  If I had realized that my publisher was unable to reimburse me, I would have had a stricter budget. I would made  sensible spending decisions. 

There are no regrets however, because this was my first book and it was a learning experience.  

But next time, I will check to see if the publisher will shoulder some of the costs.   

Next time, I will know what marketing tools to invest in and which ones to resist.   

And next time, I will be wiser, thriftier, and Budsie-less.



The Maggie Project is published twice a month. 

✌ and 





Thursday, August 2, 2018

Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


CATWALK 

In the fashion world, a catwalk is a narrow walkway where models show off the latest fashions of   ValentinoDonatella Versace, Oscar de la Renta and other famous designers.

In my world, a catwalk is a typical morning stroll.

That's because cats have the habit of showing up while I walk.  All kinds and colors.  On porches, driveways, sidewalks.

If I call them, they'll come up to me.  They rub against my leg as I try to take their photo.  Curious creatures. Full of affection and curiosity.

These are some of my feline friends.


Cats also show up on our family vacations.  In Rome, we stumbled across cats dwelling among the temple ruins in Torre Argentina.  We've spotted cats roaming the Old City in Dubrovnik and living in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Cats don't always show up every time I take a walk.  It's possible I don't see them because I'm usually preoccupied thinking about new blog posts, writing projects, and marketing ideas.  Some of my best ideas come when I'm strolling the neighborhood.

But one day on a walk, my focus drifted from writely projects and marketing woes to the dynamics of business and personal relationships.  Several unpleasant circumstances had cropped up and these weighed heavily on my mind.  These situations totally bummed me out and made me angry and confused because close friends had let me down.  I tried to figure out why people were arrogant, mean-spirited, self-absorbed, and disrespectful.  I wondered how people could not be aware of the hurt and damage their actions (or lack of actions) cause.

The further I walked, the sadder I got.  There were simply no answers.

I headed to a shady spot to stretch my back.  To sip water.  To mop the sweat from my brow.  Despite the break, my mood persisted.  I couldn't shake it as I pushed on. 

And then a cat spotted me.

A big, beautiful fluffy Persian cat with icy blue eyes.

He trotted from a front yard garden to greet me.  This little bundle of fur.  Had he sensed my feelings? 

The only thing I could think about and wanted to think about was this gorgeous cat.

He didn't come to me for a rub or a pat on the head.  But his actions were purposeful and deliberate.

He pressed his lips against my hand—a common catlike thing to do—and he marked me with his scent, calling me his human, assuaging the hurt.

 He offer tender feline love at a time I needed it most.




The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 


Thursday, July 19, 2018


































Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


EXTREME ADRENALINE RUSH 

Let me set this straight.  I like massages.  But not with snakes.

While watching the Ellen Degeneres show, I learned about this strange practice called snake massage.

We're talking about a 550 pound, 6 foot long python wriggling across your naked skin.

We're talking about being tense because the snake squeezes your body.

And we're talking extreme adrenaline rush.

Pythons are the snake of choice.  Though they are not venomous, it takes time to feel relaxed getting a snake massage. 

The snake is washed and is well-fed (that's good to know) and its mouth is taped (also good to know) before it's draped over your torso and face and put to task.  Sometimes big and small snakes are used at the same time to achieve a graduation in pressure.  For some people, getting a snake massage provides a psychological release such as confronting a fear and wiping away stress.  For others, it relieves tension in a way that human hands can't.

I'm all for being different.  Different is good.

I love reading different kinds of genres:  nonfiction, novels, picture books, and books written in French.

I love traveling to different countries.

I enjoy different languages.  Parlez-vous fran├žais?

I like trying different kinds of foods.
While in Spain, my daughter got me to try mussels and octopus.

I did not try bull's tail.

I love working on different picture book projects and trying unconventional book marketing approaches.

And I've tried different kinds of massages.  Deep tissue massage is not for me, but a Swedish massage is soothing and helps relax tight muscles.  I'd love to try a hot stone massage.  According to Healthline.com, it relieves muscle pain, reduces stress, promotes sleep, and may boost immunity.

Snake massages sound intriguing.  They are inexpensive, costing about $45 for 90-minutes.  That's a bargain.  The average price for a massage is $60 an hour.

But I can barely look at a snake, much less have one slithering over my body.  I don't need an adrenaline rush—no matter what people say about them or how good it makes them feel.  Even my massage therapist has no interest in snakes rubbing her face and neck.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against snake massages.  They are probably perfect for the adventuresome.  But having a 500 pound python massage my skin—no thanksssss.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 


Thursday, July 5, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book



SIGN ME UP FOR SURVIVOR 

My husband and I are fans of the television show Survivor.

We have been watching the show for since Season Two.  That's 35 seasons of Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.  I enjoy getting to know the tribe members and seeing how they strategize.

I would love to a contestant if it weren't for...

missing my husband,

missing my cat,

missing my daily writing,

having sand on my body

having to live in a bathing suit for 39 days

being hot

being cold

being wet

the snakes and bugs

sleeping on the ground

no covers,

no pillow,

not being able to blow my hair dry

not having bathroom facilities

not being able to brush my teeth.

Now, I could go barefoot.  I could eat rice and coconuts for every meal. 

I could compete well at challenges (after all, I've faced the challenges of writing a book, getting it published, and promoting it)

...as long as they didn't include swimming, throwing balls, mud, and being blindfolded.

I tell my husband I could be on Survivor.  He tells me I wouldn't survive a few hours.

"You couldn't even survive the boat ride to the island!"

I forgot I get motion sickness.

"But I can do puzzle challenges.  I like rice and coconuts."

"Rice for 39 days?  What about your nightly treat of ice cream?  Daily coffee?"

Then he throws in, "What about Ozzie?"

I would worry about our cat.  Jim would only feed him dry kibbles (Jim hates the smell of canned kitty meat and Ozzie is a lover of wet-food).

So, maybe it's not a good idea.  It's probably better to live vicariously through the contestants in the comfort of my house and keep my challenges confined to the writing world.

Winning a million dollars and being the sole survivor would be nice,

but I'm a fan of being sandless, warm, and dry.


The Maggie Project is published twice a month

and





Thursday, June 21, 2018


 Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


BOSSOME SHOES 

I am not a salesperson.  

I'm a shy, introverted writer.  When my book was published, I had to become an aggressive, in your face, pushy bookseller. 

And, I hated it.  But I did it.  

My goal was to get my books into several local gift shops.  I dressed in nice clothes, applied lipstick and mascara, and put on my boots.   

Real bossome shoes.

Wearing boots gave me a good two more inches in height (I'm only 5' 3") which offered me the opportunity to look people square in the eye rather than having them look down at me.

Most of the time, shop owners listened to my spiel as they flipped through the pages of Maggie.  Some bought a few copies, others turned it down claiming they could not make enough money on the book. 

On one occasion when I was trying to sell my book, the owner chatted with a customer.  She did not acknowledge or welcome me.   

I walked from room to room to pass the time.  

I looked through the clothing, the shoes, and the games, toys and books. 

I checked on the manager again.  Still talking.  

I felt awkward, ready to saddle up and get me and my 2" boots out of Dodge*.  

But on my way to the door, the owner thanked her customer and then greeted me.  

Whoa.  All of the sudden it was show time.  

I approached the counter, looked her in the eye and gave a brief summary of the book, described how it was inspired by a local rescue dog, and explained why it would be a good fit for her customers...all along thinking she's not (literally) buying this.  

But...she wanted several copies!  

I don't always make a sale, but sometimes I'm successful.  I placed some of my books in local shops by:
  •    Calling shops and telling them about my book 
  •    Making an appointment with the manager 
  •    Explaining why the book would be good for customers
  •    Showing up for the meeting with extra copies of my book 
  •    Bringing copies of reviews and a sell sheet
  •    Insisting on selling the books, not consigning them
  •    Bringing Maggie bookmarks 
  •    Striving to be patient and courteous 
  •    Trying to be positive and upbeat  
  •    Taking interest in the manager's business vision    
Everytime I load my books in the car to drive to a local business, I've get the jitters.  Man, I wish I didn't have to do this book selling thing.   

I don't want to do this book selling thing.

I REALLY DON'T WANT TO DO THIS BOOK SELLING THING. 

Then I put on my boots.  

 YEE HAW! 

I'm working bossome from my head down to my toes.


*The phrase 'get the hell out of Dodge' originated from the television show Gunsmoke, which took place in Dodge City, Kansas.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


BEING BOLD 

They're big.  They're beautiful.  And they're bold.

As colorful and impressive as this guy was, I didn't want to get near him.  

He's loud.  REALLY LOUD.  And he means business, or should I say he's looking for business. 

On a visit to Spain with my family, we explored a section of Retiro Park in Madrid where scads of peacocks and peahens live.  We found the birds on steps, in flowers, in bushes, on hilltops.  It was like a peacock paradise.  Magical.

They totally owned the place.  

Bold birds.  

Upon returning to the states, I discovered more peacocks, this time in the news...

"PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia Zoo officials hope to recapture four peacocks that escaped and caused a traffic jam on a major highway.
The officials on Thursday will work with police after the birds took a stroll along Interstate 76 around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. State police arrived and shut down two lanes of traffic on the highway, causing backups for miles.
Police say they managed to get the birds off the highway, but they were unable to capture them. Zoo officials say the peacocks went to roost for the night.
The zoo says the flock roams freely on its grounds, and it is cared for by veterinary staff. The zoo says the birds sometime venture past its gates, but they normally return home on their own."
They didn't.

These stately birds remind me that when it comes to writing, I must be bold—   
to admit my work needs revision, 
to put a manuscript aside when the story is not working, 
to submit manuscript,
to face a possible rejection,  
to edit, edit, edit because the first, second, and third drafts are never good enough, 
to ignore the ambiguous replies that say this work is not a good fit.


I must be bold...
because quitting is not an option.  

If I want to succeed at publishing, I must find my inner-peacock.







The Maggie Project is published twice a month


Tuesday, May 29, 2018



Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book

 


SAY DISAPPOINTMENT AIN'T SO 

I have a confession to make.  

After my book was published, I was disappointed.   

At first, I felt on top of the world.  I couldn't believe my manuscript was going to be a book.  This feeling was an indescribable high after travelling the incredibly difficult road to publication.  But within a months, disappointment sailed in like clouds gathering before a storm. 

I wasn't upset with the way my book turned out.  Disappointment came in the guise of rejection (as if I hadn't had enough rejection before my book was published)  Surprisingly, this rejection came from family members.    
It was shocking for me.  Though I wished otherwise, I found some relatives less supportive than I had expected.  These family members did call or email me.  They did not come to book signings.  They did not buy the book or even read it.  So, I found myself grieving because I felt let down. 

Behind the smile I felt sad and angry.  I wished things could have been better, that my loved ones would understand and care more.  However, the lack of support could be due to complicated dynamics, jealously, or just plain ignorance.

I know, I know, we can't change our people.  We are the ones who must change when we are faced with this kind of rejection.  

Here's what I did to ease the hurt:     
  • Recognized and accepted that this was another form of rejection   
  • Talked about my feelings with others  
  • Released the pain through forgiveness
  • Shielded myself by limiting contact with unsupportive people 
  • Immersed myself in new projects

Though it is incredibly painful and mind-boggling, being rejected by family can be common.  A fellow writer once told me that her mother didn't read her newly published book.  It's comforting (and sad) to know I'm not alone.

After a while, I figured I had to move forward and not dwell upon the negativity because it drained my creative energy.  

thought about the neighbors who inquired about my book.  I remembered the friends who bought my book and the young fans who showed up at the signings.  I tried to concentrate on all of the good things about publishing a book, the wonderful lessons it teaches and the joy it brings to young readers.  When I focused on the positive, the hurt of rejection softened and slowly, the clouds of disappointment drifted away.






















My biggest supporters, my husband and daughter♥

The Maggie Project is published twice a month