The first word in social media is SOCIAL

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The first word in social media is SOCIAL

Even though I know enough about social media to teach true neophytes the basics of Facebook and Twitter, there’s still waaaaaayyyy more that I don’t know. I feel like a dinosaur compared to those techies who are IN it. I have an Instagram account I barely touch, and I know what Snapchat is, but I don’t have an account. I like the idea of Vine, but finding the perfect six to 10 seconds of video seems daunting. I have a Goodreads account, yet none of my books are listed there (that probably has a lot to do with my general animosity toward its parent company). And I most definitely need to get on the ball with YouTube.

So, you could say I’m a bit behind when it comes to using social media to promote Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.

stan-on-pinterest

Stan does have a Pinterest board, so that’s something. Hey – there’s more stuff there than I remember. (Does Snoopy’s happy dance!)

One thing I plan to do that I’ve yet to see anyone try (which is not to say that someone’s not doing it) is to serialize Stan on YouTube. Get a background image of each city and make videos of me reading from the book in front of each one. I wonder how long it will take to read an entire 450-page book out loud…

I thought about giving Isis her own Twitter handle, but that’s been done before – a LOT – so I’m kind of thinking not so much. But I could offer quips and advice from the myriad secondary and tertiary characters Stan meets on his travels. Now that might be worth the time investment.

first-word-in-social-media

The main thing to keep in mind is that the first word in social media is SOCIAL. It’s about creating a tribe and giving them a reason to (a) keep coming back and (b) to share your stuff so that the tribe grows. Manufacturing buzz is a lot harder than it sounds – but one key component is good content delivered on a consistent basis.

Sleep – who needs it?

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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.

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Fun with graphix!

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Fun with graphix!

As I mentioned in my last post, I love the idea of incorporating a few images, here and there, into my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World. From little globes as section breaks to a variety of handwritten addresses on postcards from around the world, I’ve tossed images into the book.

When it comes to the marketing, images show up there, too. One thing I did was use a fantastic – but unfortunately now defunct – site called Bitstrips to create cartoon versions of Stan at all points in his journey. He morphs from a clean-cut Wall Street type to a long-haired beatnik over the course of the story.

stan-before-and-afterjpg

These will become the images in the coloring book I’m developing as a gift for the crowdfunding campaign – and probably a standalone ancillary product. I’m still looking at a few cartoonizing sites for the coloring book. The old versions of Photoshop used to do an awesome job at it, but I haven’t found the newer ones quite as versatile in this regard.

stan-mt-olympus

I also employed Canva.com, an easy-to-use infographics platform, for the basic concept I used in the infographic I created to promote Stan.

infographic-before-after

Not to mention the default, all-purpose tool I could not live without – Photoshop. That’s where I did all of my editing to add cartoon Stan into photos of the places he visited, and how I adapted the Canva version of the infographic into what I wanted it to look like.

stan-macchu-pichu

I often do the same sort of thing with Microsoft Publisher – using it for the general template, but then overwriting the system’s fonts, original graphics, and backgrounds to make the image my own.

I’m self-taught at all of this. I remember in the pre-you-can-find-a-video-on-YouTube-for-how-to-do-absolutely-anything days, the hours and hours it took me to discover how layers worked in Photoshop. But I got there. I still make major goofs – losing all those precious layers by accidentally saving them into one. Crikey that hurts when it happens! The point is that you can teach yourself, too. I’m not the best graphic designer in the world, but I know enough not to put outlines around every box just because I can.

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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.

Teaching from the novel

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Teaching from the novel

As someone who has been teaching classes and seminars for much of the past 15 years, it would seem a no-brainer for me to come up with an idea or two for a class I could link to my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World. And yet I scratch my head at the idea. Perhaps it’s because the novel still finds itself not quite done after 12+ years. Or perhaps it’s because fiction writing is not my native instinct – I majored in nonfiction writing for a reason!

Microsoft Word - Stan Finds Himself for TFOB

And nevertheless, I know there are things I could teach, based on this experience. One thing I might teach is the idea of adding a few graphics, here and there, to a novel. As I recall rarely seeing this – one example is Alain de Botton’s The Romantic Movement – perhaps it’s just not that popular. Or, more likely, perhaps no one’s really thought to do it.

Another topic is the idea of partnering with a nonprofit to promote your book. Because Stan visits so many off-the-beaten track locations, his trip is one that skips right over most of the typical world travel highlights. And in so doing, he encounters many new ideas and social justice causes that have real-life counterparts. Whether you’re writing a nonfiction instruction manual or a space opera, as the author, you have the latitude to incorporate aspects into your work that have a real-world tie-in to an existing cause or organization. Offer to profit share with that group in exchange for their help promoting your book, and you might be on the road to something spectacular.

I already teach marketing classes that touch on everything from book design to news releases and media kits to social justice to crowdfunding. Using my own novel as a case study for the success of such marketing endeavors is a natural fit.

Have no doubt – a class or two will be forthcoming!

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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.

Sketching out the details of an online treasure hunt app

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Sketching out the details of an online treasure hunt app

online-treasure-hunt

Contests are a great way for an author to inspire interest in their work, and social media couldn’t make it easier. But the kinds of contests one could hold are limitless. I met a gal in September who’s hosting a fan fiction contest around her book, Oubliette — A Forgotten Little Place. A few of the rules from the contest include:

  • Oubliette Fan Fiction must be based off the book Oubliette — A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta M. Black.
  • Any of the many story lines may be used for inspiration. At least one story line and/or one character from the book must be in the entry.
  • Entries must be at least 500 words and no more than 10,000.

Other contests I’ve seen require participants to take a photo of themselves holding a copy of the book and post the photos to a particular site. Trivia contests are also popular. Really, you are limited only by whatever your mind can imagine.

With regard to Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, I am in the idea phase for a treasure hunt that will involve an app and visits to particular YouTube channels and websites for shops, venues, and places Stan visits on his world travels. Of course, the details are still sketchy – but I want prospective readers to see as much of the world as Stan sees, if only vicariously through the Internet.

Of course, I like the fan fiction idea a great deal – so maybe a contest where people create a new character from any of the 23 countries Stan and Isis visit.

In a previous post, I mention my idea for a cookbook – perhaps the contents of that cookbook are chosen via a contest. Hmmm … the wheels are turning!

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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.

Launching my travel novel – what better reason to see the world?

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Launching my travel novel what better reason to see the world?

modes-of-travel

One of the coolest book events I ever encountered was by chance, at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, where Carolyn Ahern, author of a children’s book series featuring Tino Turtle, was signing her book, Tino Turtle Travels to Paris, France. I described her signing in more detail on my Marcie Brock Book Marketing Maven blog. So when I think about a book launch for Stan, I’d like it to be in grand style of that sort.

I think I’m going to cheat a bit here and reference my previous blog post (on the same Marcie Brock blog) where I described my ideal book launch.

In spite of my big goal of signings in major U.S. cities with each of Stan’s primary means of travel: airports, train stations, and public piers, my first signing may be smallish. I’m thinking the Deer Valley Airport with dozens of my closest friends and local authors and artists. I recently encountered the amazing work of a local artist named Savannah Ashely – will definitely be reaching out to her regarding her globe art for the event.

savannah-ashley-globes

OTHER DETAILS

  • The menu will likely be determined by the venue’s catering options.
  • Favors will include old maps, globe keychains, and vintage airline wings, of course.
  • My own Jack Russell terrier is no longer with us – but I’m on the lookout for the perfect stuffed version.
  • A slide show with real images from people in the places Stan visits sounds about right.
  • Oh – and I’ll read something. A passage I’ve rehearsed … a lot.

That previous post says to look for this launch event in early 2016. So … that didn’t happen. Certainly by May 2017 it will, or I’ll eat a page of my latest ARC!

I would also like to travel to a few of the calmer areas Stan visits to do signings in those countries, too. More than likely will put together a crowdfunding campaign to help in that arena. In the interim, I’m focused on putting together a six-city train tour of the West Coast for Summer 2017, starting in San Diego, then heading north through LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and ending in Vancouver. That will be a group author event, so if you are an author or know one who’d like to join us, please be sure to drop me a line at phxazlaura@gmail.com.

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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.

Comparing and contrasting leads to great ideas and validation!

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Comparing and contrasting leads to great ideas and validation!

Seems I’ve been doing a lot of confessing over these last few blog posts. Today’s is that I’ve never paid much attention to travel fiction – or books, in general. Other than the Lonely Planet books I consulted when first drafting Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World. When I began writing this novel all the way back in 2004, the Internet was barely into its tweens – and there were no sites like TripAdvisor or Orbitz – and no shared economy platforms like Airbnb or Uber. I have subsequently used these sites for research, and they’ve even made an appearance in the novel because they are so ubiquitous in the life of a world traveler today.

So travel books, not a big thing for me. In putting my big toe into the water of comparison and contrast – checking to see what might be out there that’s at all like Stan – I find loads of travel books I should probably read, and authors’ sites to visit. Though not fiction, the best known contemporary work that perhaps rivals Stan a little, at least in terms of the motivation for the travel, is Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway hit, Eat Pray Love. (That book has been published and celebrated its 10th anniversary in the time since I started writing Stan, just as a point of reference.)

Of course, there’s the classic Around the World in 80 Days, as well as Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.

chris-pavone

When it comes to comparing websites and marketing efforts – there’s another big toe to be dipped. I’ve recently come across Chris Pavone’s site. He’s the NYT best-selling author of the new international thriller (I got that from said website), The Travelers. One thing I like about his site is the drop-down menu with subtopics: About the Book, Excerpt, and Itinerary. I could easily incorporate that into my author website, once that next book comes to fruition. It’s a story about a Foo Fighters tribute band, so the drop-down items could be: About the Book, Excerpt, and Playlist.

Oh – and a little more searching uncovered the one that seems most like Stan. It’s a book by Francois Lelord, titled Hector and the Search for Happiness: A Novel. From the Barnes and Nobel website:

Now a major motion picture starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer. The international bestseller with more than two million copies sold.

“Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector who was not very satisfied with himself. … And so he decided to take a trip around the world, and everywhere he went he would try to understand what made people happy or unhappy.”

Hector travels from Paris to China to Africa to the United States, and along the way he keeps a list of observations about the people he meets. Combining the winsome appeal of The Little Prince with the inspiring philosophy of The Alchemist, Hector’s journey around the world and into the human soul is entertaining, empowering, and smile-inducing—as winning in its optimism as it is wise in its simplicity.

How excited am I to hear (a) it sold more than 2 million copies and (b) it became a major motion picture. Oh – and it’s book one in a series, something I never thought I’d do. The other titles are Hector and the Secrets of Love and Hector and the Search for Lost Time.

hector-series

I think I have some reading – and website visiting – to do!

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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.

Coloring books, cookbooks, and apps – oh, my!

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Coloring books, cookbooks, and apps – oh, my!

travel-diary

Readers want books – you know, with pages and words and stories and information. But bookstores want books and other things to accompany them. Products that will flush out a brand, not just a single title. Of course, perhaps the most famous is the Harry Potter series, which spun off so many products that there’s actually a website dedicated just to the merchandising: HarryPotterShop.com. Visit to buy everything from wax seals for your letter-writing needs to magical mugs to bedding, wands, games, and calendars. But ancillary products are not just for kids’ books. Inspirational author Sark has a whole collection of goodies for sale on her site, from blankets (I see a theme here) to books to card decks.

So how does this translate to my book, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World? Well, lots of ways, actually.

  • One thing I had planned long before they came into vogue (have I mentioned I started writing this book in 2004?) was a coloring book with my cartoon version of Stan in scenes from the many cities he visits.
  • Another is a cookbook that offers one main dish, one drink, and one dessert from each of the same cities.
  • I’m also planning to create an app that integrates a treasure hunt of some sort (if Pokeman Go can do it, so can I!) with a tour of the places Stan visits.
  • Postcards seem a natural fit.
  • As does a travel diary.
  • And a Stan-styled postal bag, to be sure!
  • And a small gift book with the ways to say “hello” and “I love you” in all the languages of the countries passes through.
  • I’m not sure I’ll go with a plushie of Isis – although I’d never say never.

Whether or not they ever wind up in book stores or not, I can design them and sell them on my website and other travel sites that may have room for clever products.

What kind of toy or other product would entice you to jump on Stan’s travel bandwagon? Comments are encouraged and welcome below!

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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.