Packing Your Bags – and Packing on the Pounds

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Packing Your Bags – and Packing on the Pounds

Stan, the main character in my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the Woman exercising on steeper vector illustration.World, actually likes exercise. It’s easy for him and he feels better when he does it. He goes out of his way to find places to run and ways to keep in shape while he’s traveling.

I have more of a love-hate relationship with exercise. I’m not its biggest fan, yet I love its results. So I do it with some consistency. Fortunately, I have two big pluses going for me that help me keep going even when I don’t want to. One, I am blessed to have a fabulous trainer in Miles Beccia. Not only is he good at the physical fitness, but he knows his nutrition, too. His patent-pending ThermoMetabolic System really works.

The basics are things you already know:

  • Move more than you eat.
  • Paying attention to your daily caloric intake really does make a difference.
  • Doing a little bit every day is better than doing nothing.
  • Eating BREAKFAST every day is essential!

Then there are things you might not know:

  • Get moving early in the morning (or at the start of your day) to raise your metabolism for the day.
  • Eat a combo of both soluble and insoluble fiber at every meal to help you stay full and eat less throughout the day.

The second plus is that my husband is training with me – so we’re in it together. When one of us gets off track, the other keeps going, which eventually and inevitably encourages the one who took a pause – for whatever reason – to get started again and, more importantly, to keep going.

We just got back from the Tribe Conference – a relatively intimate motivational get-together for writers and other creative souls (hubby is a professional musician). The last speaker of the 3-day event was, for me, the most powerful. Jon Acuff is the author of a book called Start, which was published a few years ago. As is perhaps the case with you, I don’t have a problem starting. I do have a problem with finishing: Stan has been “forthcoming” for a long time, now. So Acuff heard that feedback from a lot of readers, which was the impetus for his most recent book – Finish – and the topic of his talk at the conference.

He said that most people’s reason for not finishing is perfectionism. That’s not really my issue. Mine, generally, is trying to do too much, or too many things at one time. With Stan, though, it’s a combination of factors. The great news is that I’m closer than ever to finishing this novel that I’ve been writing for far too many years. And I PROMISE I will tell you all about it the second the first full draft (there are many, many unfinished prior drafts) is done.

Acuff suggests that the only way to finish anything is to make it fun. And the only way to make it fun is to know what motivates you – fear or reward. In the case of motivation for exercise, you may fear having a heart attack and dying before your kids grow up and go out on their own. Or, like me, you may be motivated by reward. My reason goes something like this: I cannot wait to slim down enough to have the confidence to approach any ride (theme park, hot air balloon, zipline) knowing there won’t be any doubt or hesitation that I can just get on without first considering the weight limit. And to fit into cute jeans.

So according to Acuff, perfectionists make a habit of quitting the first day their plan derails. That’s how I know that’s not me. I get back to it right away, even when I miss a few days. Here’s the proof: I had great intentions of exercising while we were in Tennessee for this conference. And I did – the first two out of the five days we were traveling. We got home last night about 10 p.m., had some food – because (a) they don’t feed you on the plane anymore and (b) 10 p.m. is the perfect time to eat – and then we went to bed.

This morning, I got up, ate breakfast, put on my sneakers, got back on the treadmill, and walked 2 miles. Then I gave myself the gift of waiting till tomorrow to get on the scale.

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Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World IS forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

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Momentum, I’ve got your number!

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Momentum, I’ve got your number!

plan-for-success

Wow – with this post, I’ve made it through the NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge. Sounded easy, but if you’ve been reading along, you know that some of these prompts were challenging. Here they are, in order, in case you want to see them all in one place:

DAY 1 – October 28

Having a hook is one of the keys to successfully marketing your book. What is your 30-second elevator pitch? And whom would you most like to give it to?

DAY 2 – October 29

Another key to book marketing success is knowing everything about your ideal reader’s demographics (e.g. age, gender, education level, income level, religious preference, parenting status, marital status) as well as their psychographics, which covers everything from the kind of car they drive to their favorite social media sites to what they do on Saturday mornings. Extrapolate to the parents if you’re a children’s author. Tell us about your ideal reader.

DAY 3 – October 30

On the day before All Hallow’s Eve, let’s examine the obvious and think Halloween today. If you were to put together a “costume” to promote your book, wear at your book signings/events, and otherwise attract attention – and, more importantly, questions – about your book, what would it look like? Are you brave enough to actually wear it? BONUS: Tell us about the results if you’ve actually already created and worn said costume.

DAY 4 – October 31

A book cover is a very important marketing tool – probably the first one an author will create. You’ll use it even before your book is done to help build interest. Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

DAY 5 – November 1

Every author wants their book to be different – to stand out in the crowd. But when it comes to selling your book, it’s also important to know what it’s similar to so that you can give people comparisons they can easily understand. For instance, who hasn’t heard Star Wars described as a Western set in space? What kinds of comparisons could you make in describing your book so that people know instantly what it – or isn’t – similar to?

DAY 6 – November 2

An author’s platform is their building block to an audience. It’s where you’re showing up on a regular basis, whom you’re influencing, who knows you, who’s following you, who’s talking about you, who’s waiting for that (next) book to come out. What are the three most important things you are presently doing to grow your platform? What are three new steps you will undertake in the first quarter of 2017 to shake things up a bit?

DAY 7 – November 3

If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them? Yes – really!

DAY 8 – November 4

Today in America, it’s National Sandwich Day. Step back for a minute and think of your book marketing campaign as a sandwich. What are the ingredients? What make up the guts of your campaign? What comprises the bread/wrap/lettuce leaf that holds it together? And what are the condiments – the extras that add spice and really make it delicious? BONUS: Which sandwich does your book most resemble?

DAY 9 – November 5

What would be the ideal NON-bookstore venue for selling your book? Why? What is your plan to reach out to such a venue to ask about having them carry your book?

DAY 10 – November 6

What ancillary product could you develop or create to sell along with your book? What steps would you take to design it? Who would you have to ask for help? How could you package it with your book to generate repeat sales, endorsements, referrals, or other promotions?

DAY 11– November 7

When is the last time you did a survey of other books similar to yours on the market? How are they selling? What do their authors’ websites look like? What are their authors doing to market? What ideas could you borrow to generate your own new marketing concepts or campaigns?

DAY 12 – November 8

Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.

DAY 13 – November 9

Contests are a great way to inspire interest in you as an author – and in your book(s). Social media is one way to host a contest – but the options are virtually limitless. What kinds of contests could you hold to generate participation, buzz, and involvement of potential readers?

DAY 14 – November 10

One great way to market your book(s) is by teaching a class or a seminar. The topics may be more obvious for a nonfiction author, but a fiction author can teach, too! Character development, planning a writing schedule, world building, to name just a few. What class or seminar could you develop in order to share your expertise and expand your platform?

DAY 15 – November 11

Most adult books – graphic novels notwithstanding – rely on words to convey their plots and content. But when it comes to marketing – getting people to remember you – it’s super important to include images to anchor your marketing messages. What kinds of creative graphics (e.g., infographics, comic strips, stick figures, etc.) can (or do) you use to spice up your marketing and get people to take an interest in your book(s)?

DAY 16 – November 12

The first word in social media is SOCIAL. How are you using social media to promote your book, without coming across too salesy/pushy? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps?

DAY 17 – November 13

The holidays will be upon us soon. Ever notice all the holiday commercials that use jingles in their ads? A jingle is designed to be catchy and entertaining. If you were to write a jingle for your book, what lyrics might it contain? What music might you mimic/use? Now that you’ve thought about it, how likely are you to actually go out and create a jingle for your book?

DAY 18 – November 14

Who would be the perfect person/company/organization to partner with to sell your book? It might be another author, a performer, a shop owner, a seminar facilitator, a teacher, etc. Pretty much, the answer to this question is limited only by your imagination. How will you reach out to that person/company/organization? What’s the hook for your pitch?

DAY 19 – November 15

Mischief marketing is any form of nontraditional – and often outlandish – marketing. Leaving your bookmark in similar books in a bookstore. Writing your title in chalk on a sidewalk that gets lots of foot traffic. Attending a ballgame dressed up as a character in your book. What kind of mischief marketing could you get up to in an effort to promote your book? The bolder the better. What would it take for you to work up the nerve to implement such a campaign?

DAY 20 – November 16

With holiday shopping in full swing, ’tis most definitely craft fair season. Authors sometimes do well at craft events by virtue of being the only bookseller at an event. Not every live event is for every author – but they can be a great way to show off your book to the public and meet new potential readers. Have you done any live events? If so, how did it go? What’s your best tip for other authors to be successful? If you haven’t done them yet, what’s holding you up? What technique/display/idea have you seen a vendor use that might work for you or other authors?

DAY 21 – November 17

What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

Momentum I have created. And a renewed interest in getting my book, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, out into the hands of actual readers. My husband is finally reading the book, and he gives it a thumbs-up. I don’t say that to brag, but because he’d definitely let me know if it was lacking. The way he said, “Hey, the book is really good,” let me know he had his doubts before he picked it up (and might have something to do with why it’s taken him so long to actually get around to reading it).

I also came up with more ideas than I presently have time to act on. What I will do next is (a) finish writing the freaking book!; (b) sit down with these posts and develop a marketing plan – with a realistic timeline; and (c) calendar these tasks so I actually start taking action on them.

libraries

As an aside, I listened to a webinar this evening about getting your book into libraries. Did you know that people who visit libraries typically also buy a lot of books? Studies have shown (I don’t have the sources, but they’re out there) that authors who have their books in libraries see an average 28 percent increase in their Amazon sales. Yep – that means having to sell on Amazon, and I’m still waffling on that one. But who can argue with those stats? And the gal giving the presentation promises this is all possible with a time commitment of only 20 minutes a day, five days a week. So that’s also going into my marketing plan.

If you’ve read this series, I sure hope I’ve convinced you that my book is worth a look. Please download the FIRST 5 Chapters and mark your calendar for the official release in Spring 2017.

One way or another, we will meet again!

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LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Travel expos and events are the place for Stan

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Travel expos and events are the place for Stan

Live events are a lot of fun – but they’re also a LOT of work. Depending on who you are, and how willing you are to engage with the audience, though, they can be highly profitable. One great benefit is that the prospective readers get to meet and interact with the authors up close and in person. And authors who embrace selling are unafraid to ask these folks to buy their books. The good ones sell books. The ones who prefer to sit behind their tables with their heads in their phones may as well not even make the effort to be there.

Over the past year or so, I saw two authors do a bang-up job of making the most of their festival appearances. The first, about whom I posted the following on the NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge, is Dustin Hall:

I met a man at the 2015 Coolidge Days event, in Coolidge, Arizona, a tiny town about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix. He was an author with 1 book to sell. The booth cost less than $50 for the 3-day event, and by the time I met him midway through the third day, he’d already sold more than 50 books at $15 each. Hotel, food, gas expenses well covered, that’s an incredible return on his investment. To his credit, he was more than willing to talk to every person who walked past his booth – an essential key to his success.

dustin-hall

The other was a gal named R.K., whom I met at the Los Angeles Book Festival this past April. The topic of her book is much closer to mine: Travels with a Road Dog: Hitchhiking Along the Roads of the Americas. Now I say R.K. did a bang-up job because I personally witnessed her sell about a dozen books in the 20 minutes or so that I visited her booth – but I have no proof whatsoever that she actually came out ahead, monetarily, because a booth at the LA Book Festival is expensive, coming in at $1050 for the 2016 event. But that’s a LOT of sales in a very short time – so if she was that successful over the rest of the weekend – pouring rain notwithstanding – she might have made most or all of her money back. And she definitely gained some important visibility. Not to mention that I bought her book. I also loved one aspect of her décor – the use of a plastic shower curtain featuring a large map of the United States as a drape for her booth.

road-dog

As the coordinator of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, I’ve done my share of events. Some have been blessedly beneficial (most prominently, the 2015 Phoenix Festival of the Arts). Others were so much work, requiring travel and an overnight stay, yet yielded literally nothing – except for me buying more books. The Kingman KABAM was one such event; I’d never do that one again.

I think the key is choosing the right events. One key might be following Dustin’s lead – and ours at the Phoenix Festival – by being the only booksellers at a given event. With little to no competition, if the books are properly targeted to the audience, authors can do very well.

With that in mind, guess what’s going on my 2017 calendar right now?

kjzz-travel-expo

It also looks like AAA has all kinds of travel events and expos. I’ll have to pace myself and choose wisely, but this could definitely be a good direction to go. Stay tuned, because we’ll certainly let you know as we book these events, starting in Summer 2017!

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Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

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LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Turning on the mischief marketing faucet

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Turning on the mischief marketing faucet

Because Isis plays such an important role in Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, I feel like she should play a key role in the marketing. Subtle and understated, but hugely important. In considering the kinds of mischief marketing I’d like to get up to, though, I’m not quite sure how employ this loveable little Jack Russell terrier.

Mischief marketing is any form of nontraditional – and often outlandish – marketing. Leaving your bookmark in similar books in a bookstore. Writing your title in chalk on a sidewalk that gets lots of foot traffic. Attending a ballgame dressed up as a character in your book. I suppose I could order a passel of stuffed JRTs and recruit people to hide them in places around the world – making my very own Isis Search Squad. Yeah – maybe not. Could get confusing and political and stuff. Well, maybe go with the treasure hunt but use a different name.

jrt-dolls

Speaking of which, it came up the first time I did a public reading of Stan that the name Isis is also the name of a worldwide terror organization. One woman said she couldn’t focus on the story because of this. I actually thought – for a few minutes – about renaming Stan’s dog because of this. But I asked the rest of the room, and no one else had experienced such a distraction. Since I began writing this story in 2004, it far pre-dated the usurpation of the name Isis by this terror group, and thus, I decided, I’m keeping it. Reclaiming the name of the Egyptian goddess, even.

jack-russell-terrier-michel-keck

Other ways to incorporate Isis into my mischief marketing might include having a custom painting done and using that on stickers I distribute in well-trafficked areas and at well-attended events (like the big Desert Trip concert, which my husband and I had the vast joy and privilege to see live).

jrt-tattoo

Another idea is to have temporary tattoos made – and distribute them in the same manner as the stickers.

I realize the ideas are endless. All I need to do is turn up the faucet from a trickle to a strong flow.

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Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

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LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Fiction and nonfiction partners

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Fiction and nonfiction partners

sledge_hammer

Sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to get a message across. As long as I’ve been working on my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, and as many marketing ideas as I’ve come up with, I don’t think I ever really saw the huge potential for this book until I sat down and wrote out these posts in answer to the prompts I created for all of the authors taking part in the 2016 NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge. It’s one thing to create clever questions, but another entirely to answer them like a working author who is actively engaged in a practical book marketing campaign.

So many ideas have presented themselves over these last couple weeks – like approaching high-end indie pet stores and map stores and travel groups and other outlets for some of the primary components in a story about a man who travels around the world with his dog. One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is that Stan has a developmentally challenged sister. There’s another group who would have a natural interest in partnering if it meant helping them increase awareness and raise funds.

Most recently, though, I’ve met and begun working with a woman named Bee Walker, who is co-authoring a book with her husband, Jim, a dog trainer. You’ll never guess the very specific topic of their book. Traveling with your dog. Seriously. How perfect a partnership would that be – one novel and one nonfiction book on the same topic?

dog-training

Of course, I’m a little nervous about having her read my story – because while Isis is generally well-behaved, she has a few episodes that help bring levity and advance the plot of the book. Will Bee tell me that a well-trained dog would never do that? Then again, maybe those places would be great teaching moments for Bee and Jim. So anyway, I haven’t approached Bee about this yet, but I suspect she will be all paws on board!

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Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

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LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Jingling all the way to the bank

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Jingling all the way to the bank

According to that all-reliable, oft-cited reference behemoth, Wikipedia, a jingle is a short song or tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. The jingle contains one or more hooks and meaning that explicitly promote the product or service being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans.”

radio-jingles

Most people probably wouldn’t think about creating a jingle to promote their books, but why not?

I have the benefit of being married to a very talented musician who has been dabbling in songwriting in recent days. He’s still reading a draft of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, but has promised to help me fine-tune the lyrics I came up with for my song about the book. It’s too long to be a jingle, but it does rhyme, after a fashion, and with the right music, could become a useful marketing tool.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Hitting the road – just Isis and me
Cute as can be, she’s my JRT
We drive, we fly, we train, we plane
We sneak her onboard – it’s fiction, so we can!

Eighteen months, around the globe we go
Meeting countless cool people
And some you wouldn’t want to know
We make it home safely – both to and fro
But along the way, we thrive and we grow.

Just as a quick disclaimer: I do realize it should be “Isis and I,” but I was lazy with the rhyming and that part may yet get rewritten. For now, though, I’m going to turn off the always-editing side of my brain and go with the wrong pronoun.

Please let me know what you think in the Comments section below – and if you have a suggestion, I’m wide open!

Happy jingling!

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Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

_______________

LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.