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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 have 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