Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marketing a POD Book in 2009 - Reflections on What Worked and What Didn’t

Reflecting on marketing Children of Dreams this year brings me to some interesting conclusions. The things I thought initially would be the most effective weren’t. Some of the things that cost nothing except my time were. To focus my efforts for my next book and how I will market it, I will share some of my results. Hopefully I can help another person to make wiser choices about where to invest their efforts who, like me, may be a new author without huge sums of money to spend.

First, Children of Dreams was written as a memoir and published POD. If you have published a romance fiction or nonfiction book as an expert in some field, or some other type of book, your results may be different using these same marketing strategies.

Now to the marketing aspect:

Most of the things I spent a significant amount of money on marketing Children of Dreams, I doubt I would do again. The marketing people will say, “We guarantee exposure, not book sales,” and they have that one right. You can easily Google my name and find twenty or more pages where my name pops up. Based on these results, you might believe I am a best-selling author. I am not. What marketing experts guarantee is exposure, not book sales. As far as I am concerned, considering that information now borne out in experience, it makes me much more leery to invest dollars in the future on expensive marketing campaigns.

Some of the methods I used included the following:

1. Email blast. I spent around $250 on an email marketing campaign. I don't know that I sold one book out of it, and for that amount of money and not being able to document its success, I feel like it was a waste of money.

2. Email of my book cover and relevant information to all libraries and independent bookstores in the United States and Canada. This cost around $400, and again, I don't know that I sold a single book out of this campaign. Would I do it again? No.

3. RTIR, or Radio-TV Interview Report: Cost around $400. I was promoted two weeks in a row on radio only, and received two radio interviews. I am not aware of a single book that I sold as a result. One of the radio stations was in Canada and one was in the Boston area, I think. Would I do this again? Yes. I felt like it gave me a great experience and I enjoyed being interviewed. I was also able to take one of the interviews off the radio station's website as an MP-3 audio and posted it on my website. If I had the money, I would have done the TV portion of the promotion, but it is very expensive and I couldn't afford it. Maybe with my next book, instead of wasting money on email campaigns, I will put it into this marketing venture.

4. Other things I did that were free or inexpensive and more effective as far as book sales.

Videos: Make lots of videos. I made five and posted them all over the web, not just on YouTube. There are many other video websites and they get picked up in the search engines as if they were magnets. The interview of me personally wasn’t particularly “exciting,” I suppose, but I think what the viewer can see is who I am; my character, and that I am a real, live, living, breathing human being. Besides, I know the next one will be better because the first one of anything is always the hardest and usually the worst. You are testing the waters, breaking new territory, going where you have never gone before. Experience counts for something.

Book Reviews; I found it very difficult to get friends of mine to post reviews of my book on (or any place else). Most people, unless they are in the writing or marketing field, are intimidated by the thought of having their words on the web. I submitted free books and e-books to several different sites for free book reviews, which met with only limited success. Would I send out free books for reviews again? No. Most of them produced no reviews, and they probably took my free books and advertised them on or EBay. Some of the free eBooks I sent for reviews, however, did produce reviews.

My goal was to get twenty-five reviews on When I found it so difficult to get book reviews in a timely manner, I paid for a service that was very reasonable and legitimate, in my opinion, and rounded my review total to twenty-five reviews for five stars. Was it worth paying for some of the reviews? Absolutely. They were real people that read my book whom I did not know. I wasn’t paying for five stars. I was paying to have my book read and reviewed, and I don’t mind doing that. I would look at a book that has twenty-five reviews with five stars before a book with only two reviews with five stars. I feel this was money well spent. Also, the inside-the-book program on Amazon is excellent. If I can’t look inside someone’s book and I don’t know the author, I won’t buy the book, plain and simple.

The Masters of Marketing: The elite, the best, I believe, in the U.S. and probably the world is QVC. I close caption it almost on a daily basis, and have watched with interest how it is they can sell so many kinds of products and make millions annually. From hours of captioning, what I have observed goes like this.

The head person of the company actually appears on the network programming (and I mean “the boss”) and they are passionate about their product. They eat it, sleep it, dream it, and whatever else comes to mind. It is their life. I have captioned an hour of a product that I had absolutely no use for, and at the end of the show, have been convinced that I can’t live without that product. That is advertising and marketing as its best. If someone can be passionate about cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaners, I better be passionate about my book. Otherwise, I am in trouble.

To sum up what was only going to be a few comments is this: You must believe in yourself, in what you are writing, and have a passion never to give up or compromise, and finally, to give your book every ounce of tender-loving care that you possibly can. Then it’s your job to be the best writer you can be. That might mean you need to hire an editor to help you. Then you need to do everything you can to be that excellent writer—attend writer’s conferences, enroll in writing classes, read books about writing, search the web for all the information you can find. And there is a lot of good, free information out there. Finally, you must have something in your book that will make a difference in people’s lives. It’s your job to convince everybody they can’t live without your book. I know that’s easier said than done. But with POD, you have that time. Your book never goes out of print.

Don’t forget, you need a good website, you need to have a blog, you need to be on social networking sites to connect with people, you need to be willing to get out and speak to the public about your book, and you need to get on as many free e-zines from marketing people as you possibly can. There is more I could write, but this is a start.

Am I discouraged I have only sold about two hundred books so far? Hardly. I have the rest of my life as a POD author. I am working on my next book in connection with my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and look forward to “meeting” new people on the web, appearing on more radio shows, blogging about things that interest me, and sharing information like I am doing here. I have complete control over my book Children of Dreams, I love marketing, and as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. I truly believe the sales will come because I won’t give up. I am going to continue to write about the things I am passionate about, do what I can to promote good information that people can use, and because we live on a big planet, with the Internet, I know there are others out there that are interested in the same things I am. My job is to find them. It’s intriguing to me when I see people have visited my website from as far away as Japan and Israel.

If you have learned anything here, please let me know. Hopefully my reflections will help you to use your money more wisely in your own marketing campaign. Happy Writing and Marketing in 2010 and beyond.

You can visit my website at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beauty and Writing

It's interesting to me that Jesus never said in the Beatitudes, blessed are the beautiful, blessed are the popular, blessed are the smartest, or blessed are those who are the best--whether it be as a teacher, artist, carpenter or writer. But He did say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

I have sensed in my spirit that when I am creating I am most like God than at any other moment. There is a subconscious link between the creative aspect of who we are and God. When we choose to glorify Him in that endeavor, the beauty is far greater than we could have created (or written) on our own. When our motives are tainted, we lose part of that beauty. By tainted, I mean for fame, money, popularity, or acceptance.

One thing that has struck me is I have scuba dived all over the world, and there is a good possibility I have seen things that no one else on earth has seen—beauty that surpasses anything that I could describe here. I wonder why God would create beauty that would only be seen by me, or create beauty that would never be seen by even one person. New species are being discovered every day in science, and if I were a betting woman, I would say there are hundreds if not thousands of things out there that are still not seen or known. If we ask ourselves that same question, it can lead to some profound answers. Why create beauty if no one else will see it, believe in it, appreciate it, pay us for it, or give us accolades?

It's because that is the way God is. We will always have the Audience of One, and if that Audience of One chooses to bring us recognition here, then we can be grateful for that. But I believe our rewards will be far greater in heaven if the beauty we create here is for Him, and maybe even more so if never appreciated by anyone, because the rewards we receive in heaven from our heavenly Father will dwarf anything that we could receive from man.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Empty Paper Tray

One night in a dream I stood before the Great Judge as He sat at the bench draped in His official black robe. The courtroom was immense and dark. I was all alone and stood quietly pondering my fate. As I waited to be sentenced for my unspecified crimes, my stenograph machine, set up before me as if I was to record the proceedings, began spitting out the record of my life—everything that I had ever done from the time I was born until that point.

Just as a court reporter writes it all down, my notes unraveled and overflowed from the paper tray faster and faster until the courtroom was covered in thousands of interconnected loops of stenograph paper strewn everywhere.

I knew I was condemned as I stood before the Great Judge. I wanted to fix all my mistakes, but I couldn't. It was too late and I had no defense. He was about to sentence me, but from the back of the darkened courtroom, a lone figure came forward and stood beside me. He was a towering individual, and I was covered by His shadow and enveloped by His omnipresence. Dare I look into His eyes? The room was empty, except for the three of us, and I suddenly recognized it was Jesus who now stood next to me at my darkest hour.

He approached the bench and there was a conference out of my hearing between the Audience of One. I wondered what the Masters of my future would decide; I knew I deserved death. The ugliness of my life was no secret to them. They knew every sin I had committed, every secret thought, every wasted action, every omission and commission of things of which I knew better.

Suddenly, as in a flash of lightning, the ream of stenograph paper rolled backwards on itself and disappeared. The paper tray was empty. The scroll of my life was "remembered no more." There was no record that could be made, no court reporter's notes, no transcript. It was whisked away in an instant.

Jesus stepped down from the bench and returned to stand beside me. Again, without warning, the reams of paper now quickly reappeared, as a tornado, unraveling and covering the Holy One’s body. The Master stood condemned, my dirty, stained stenograph paper wrapped around Him as garments of cloth. He was bound as if he were to be laid in a borrowed tomb—or a manger. He would take the punishment I deserved. No longer guilty, God redeemed me by His love.

I now stood before more than a righteous judge. I stood before the Audience of One. Love compelled Jesus and my Heavenly Father to remember no more my past vulgarities. For the joy set before Him, Jesus was escorted away in shame. It was Love that took my place, Love that covered my sin all recorded on stenograph paper that spoke of condemnation.

As we share the joy of the Christmas holidays, let’s remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s keep Him in our traditions and celebrations as we adorn Christmas trees in colorful ornaments and exchange lavish gifts. The greatest treasures we give, however, may not be wrapped in Christmas tissue but rather in what we do—our forgiveness, joy, and love filled to the brim, poured out, and shared unselfishly. Let the light of Jesus burn brightly through the window of our heart.

May it begin with me—more patience, more time, more of everything I lack. If Jesus gave His all, maybe, just maybe, I can venture out of my own comfort zone. If I try to be more like Him, if I allow His Word to mold me, perhaps I can be the difference maker in my own world filled with the most precious lives I touch—my children, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my neighbors.

Most of all, I want to remember what I have to be thankful for—and it begins with the empty paper tray. Because of Jesus, I can write the greatest story ever told, of how a baby came from Heaven to earth, born in a manger, wrapped in rags, and who redeemed me….Merry Christmas.