Being an author these days is a lot like being a carnival barker for a 1930s penny arcade or circus: you have to be able to sell your own work. If you’re self-published, you don’t have a publisher backing you up and are basically one shouting merchant in the marketplace from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And even if you have a publisher, your marketing is largely up to you.
So how should you go about it? Obviously, things like school author visits are a fantastic way to share your writing, but they don’t happen every day. You could hire Meryl the flying yak to bleat your name from the rooftops, but I don’t have that kind of cash.
Lots of authors also maintain a blog, which helps get their name out there. Having a blog lets potential readers get a sense of your personality, your interests, and just who the heck they’re buying books from But what should you blog about?
Well, if you’re like me, you blog about the intricacies of Scooby Doo, fast food, the ancient sport of lightsabers dueling, Sesame Street, gerbils, beards, and the dark god of the ‘90s known as the Furby. My blog is truly a place for those of high intellect and innate curiosity.
So head over to https://josephcaldaraauthor.com/blog/ and check out my musings. Just don’t take it too seriously. I don’t want to get angry letters from Furby fanboys.
Doing author events for charity is always a great experience: I get to help out a good cause and share my writing with people in one fell swoop. It’s like eating an egg wrapped in bacon wrapped in a waffle!
On a few Saturdays in May, I’ll be holding author reading and book giveaway events at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Denver and Aurora, Colorado! I’ll be joining Curt Fulster of C. Fulsty Books at the Aurora house on May 12 and at the Denver house on May 19. Both events will start at 6:30pm.
During the events, we’ll be reading from our books, answering questions, and giving away plenty of copies to the Houses’ families.
For those who don’t know, the Ronald McDonald House works closely with Children’s Hospital to provide housing, food, and other services to out-of-town families. Since there are only a handful of Children’s Hospitals in the world (and they all specialize in different ailments), a lot of families must travel out-of-state and even out of the country to stay near their kids.
These families have to worry about finding hotels, renting cars, paying for gas, and a bunch of other stuff you just don’t want to worry about when your kid’s in the hospital. So the Ronald McDonald House provides nice rooms, hot meals, and even entertainment to out-of-town families.
I didn’t just pick the Ronald McDonald House out of a random hat-o-charities, either. As I mentioned in the post about the charity month, my baby cousin was diagnosed with and died from brain cancer in 2000. I’ve also had a close friend deal with childhood cancer in recent years.
I live in Colorado, so I never stayed at either of the Colorado Ronald McDonald Houses while my cousin was receiving cancer treatments. But when I learned about the House, I couldn’t help but think “I can’t imagine what it’d be like to go through this if I lived out-of-state.”
Also, in 2006, I performed my Eagle Scout service project by supplying the Denver Ronald McDonald House with storage shelves. I raised over $3000, purchased a bunch of shelving racks from Costco, and instructed and collaborated with other boys to set them up. As far as I know, the RMH is still using the shelves.
The Ronald McDonald House helps out a ton of families, and I’m glad to help them in any way I can. It’s going to be great!
Those of you who’ve perused my website’s main page with the tenacity of a caffeine-addled poodle with a telescope may have noticed that I sell my books using three different websites:
One is Amazon Createspace, a print-on-demand site that allows me to sell printed books directly through Amazon. Another is Kindle, Amazon’s digital bookstore. Middle Grade books don’t exactly sell like hotcakes on Kindle, but there are a few people who prefer digital copies.
But then there’s Lulu. I haven’t seen nearly as many sales through Lulu, and
I’m not surprised. Who wants to buy a book through some print-on-demand website they’ve never heard of when they can buy it through a reliable and familiar website like Amazon?
Even though it’s not quite as great for selling books as something like Createspace, Lulu is a fantastic tool for private book publishing that everyone who’s interested in seeing their words in print should take advantage of.
The biggest difference between Amazon Createspace and Lulu is that Createspace is used strictly for selling media. If you have a story or a song or some art that you’d like to make millions of monies selling, Createspace is the way to go.
But what if you want to produce a book that has meaning to you personally? What if you want to put your recipes into a cookbook to give to your family or make a book of pictures of your family and give it to a bunch of chefs? What if you want to take all of your love poems about Don Knotts and bind them together with a nice cover as a birthday present for your step-brother?
Lulu and sites like it allow you to sell books, but they also let you produce personal books, books you don’t necessarily want to sell. It’s perfect for personal projects.
If you’re not interested in selling your books, I recommend using Lulu to at least see your words in print. It sure beats using chalk to scrawl them on a penguin when the zookeeper isn’t looking.
Looking forward to coming back soon!
I wanted to share a few updates to the world of Bob and the Cyber-Llama:
First, I’d like to say thank you to the staff and students of Mountainview Academy at HOPE Online and Antelope Ridge Elementary School for a couple of awesome author visit events! During the visits, I read a chapter from Bob and the Cyber-Llama to groups of students and spoke about being a self-published author. All the students were polite and attentive and had a great time; I had almost as much fun as they did!
These visits have proven to be one of the most rewarding parts of being an author. If you’d like to schedule such a visit, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, I’ve joined Snapchat! I’ve been happy with Twitter and Instagram, but Snapchat seems to be what all the kids are into these days. I’m always interested in finding out what “the future” of writing and social media are, which would explain my fascination with robotic tomatoes and hover dachshunds. I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of Snapchat, so tips are welcome.
You can find me on Snapchat under the username “Classysturgeon.”
Stay tuned for more Cyber-Llama related news.