As a first time author it can be daunting stepping out with your story and trying to successfully earn money selling your book. Here are three tips to help increase book sales before your book hits the stands.
Always check your blind spots
Authors, who have spent so much time in the process of writing their books often are so intricately connected with the content and structure of their book that they can miss blind spots that a trained eye would catch. Whether you have someone who is trained to look for blind spots review, or have some peers review your content before publishing, don’t rely on just yourself to catch everything.
March was a busy month for Tellwell authors holding events and signings! Here’s a glance at some of the unique events held throughout March:
Comedian and Tellwell Author, Ally Lane launched her book The Chem-Ho, at the Vin Gogh Art Studio in Calgary on March 8th. Lane served up quite the entertaining evening, including a colourful reading on her journey through breast cancer, appetizer’s and complimentary “chemo”-politans administered by Hot Doctors. Stay tuned for more of her events by visiting: www.allylane.com.
On March 19th, Jason Lee was the Keynote Speaker at the Art and Mindfulness Event hosted by Moving Forward Family Services at SFU. His presentation, on “Anger and Your Mental Health,” discussed the barriers certain cultures have on talking openly about mental health. Lee has spoken at several Mental Health conferences across Canada, including the Strength in Unity Summit held last year in Ottawa. For more on the author, or to learn more about his book – Living with the Dragon – Healing 15 000 Days of Abuse and Shame, visit www.solaceinnerhealth.com.
In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day and in memory of her brother, Ken, Diana Frizell kicked off her book tour in Richmond on March 21st. The tour included a wine and cheese evening, and signings at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and the IndigoSpirit bookstore in Richmond Centre Mall. Frizell aims to raise awareness and support for aging adults with Down Syndrome, based on her family’s experience. Visit www.kensplace.ca for more event details – including future stops on Vancouver Island.
In light of Bell Let’s Talk and a growing conversation on mental illness, Canadian author and songwriter Colleen Songs offers her perspective as the caregiver and loved one to a partner who was mentally ill.
She shares with readers her escape from a significant other with a narcissistic personality disorder and mental illness, in her memoir INHALE.
Through this book and her signing career, she aspires to ignite the voice of the caregiver – who suffers a great deal of abuse and heartbreak as the person they’ve grown to love disappears so suddenly.
“They can transition in a heartbeat,” says Songs. “The quickest thing could shut him off, and I could see it on his face,” she adds.
But, it’s equally important to the author to use her creative gifts of writing and music, to inspire those who are mentally ill to tap into their talents and passions.
“Witnessing the mentally ill exercise their gifts and talents confirmed their happiness and awakening desire to live,” explains Songs. “They can cope better.”
While this has been an extremely cathartic exercise for Songs, writing, and then publishing and promoting this book has brought forth a plethora of emotions, doubts, fears and hesitations about how the telling of her story will affect her loved ones.
Songs says she’s been especially concerned about her children, and how publishing her story will affect them.
“I was afraid of hurting them to the point of almost not publishing. But inside I kept having this feeling that it would release them too. And sure enough, it did!”
Songs says her son, who was 12 when she left home to care for her late ex-husband, felt the book gave him clarity and filled in the gaps he never understood about the relationship that took such a toll on their family.
Her daughter, who was in her late teens at the time, felt the book relieved her of the guilt she’d been carrying, having seen things in the relationship that at the time she didn’t know what to do about.
Beyond the opportunity to reflect and gain clarity, Songs needed to write to gain closure from the past, and talk about how her family got to where they are today.
“With every word I felt such a release of pressure off of my chest, heart, mind and conscience! I carried so much guilt, so much survival-fear for so long that I wasn’t even really trusting nor enjoying my current state of healthy-love and life,” she says.
And finally, she’s starting to let go. “I thought there was enough closure when I finally left. I thought there was enough closure when I heard he’d died. But I only gained a sense of closure through writing,” says Songs.
In a digital age, it should come as no surprise that in addition to designing, publishing and marketing their books electronically, authors can also take their book tours to an online interface. Imagine executing a series of tour stops right from the comfort of your own home. Sounds too good to be true right? While for some, the traditional, in-person events and signings work best, others may want to consider adding a blog tour to their marketing plan.
What is a blog tour?
An online book tour, commonly referred to as a blog tour, is a modernized way to connect with new readers without traveling from city to city. Blog tours usually occur over a two to four-week period where the author is featured on a different relevant blog each day for the duration of the tour.
The features of each stop on the tour can vary, but usually share information about the book and its availability and exclusive information about the author. Similar to having one on one conversations with the authors at events, the blog content is meant to incentivize readers to want to get more from the author, through buying their book.
The main idea behind organizing a book tour, is to capitalize on each blogger’s audience to gain exposure for the book in the early stages of its release. Online tours can be arranged at any time, but work most effectively with new releases. In comparison to in-person tours, where building a strong following and some momentum reinforces the value of holding events, blog tours are meant to help grow an audience for a new book.
Blog tours have been known to work best for genre fiction or YA books because it’s one of the best ways to engage with that audience.
February. Valentine’s Day. Romance. What images do these words conjure up for you? If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably imagine a scene with two frosty champagne glasses sitting on a table in front of a roaring fire. Maybe a small silver tray of chocolate covered strawberries beside them. And a couple kissing on the bear skin rug in front of that blazing fire while the snow softly falls outside the panoramic window. (“Oh, Pamela, my darling, what did I ever do without you?”) Ah, can’t you just feel the love?
Brutal snowstorm. Freezing cold. Romance author. What images do these phrases conjure up for you? Yeah, if you’re being honest, you haven’t bothered to give the lowly romance author a second thought, have you? Right now, as you read this, some of them are shivering to death wrapped tightly in a ratty old crocheted afghan, drinking a steaming mug of (insert favourite beverage here), huddled over a laptop, cursing the characters they’ve created because they just won’t cooperate. (Stop talking, get in that cab right now and follow her, you idiot!) Well, that’s me, anyway.
My vision of a romance novel, long before I took the plunge into writing one, was pretty much the scenario with the champagne, chocolates and lovers. And as I adore champagne and chocolates, I thought writing one would be such fun! And what could be easier? All I had to do was create main characters who are forced to be together and hate each other on sight (or another well-loved trope that romance readers never seem to tire of), and then put them into unusual or unexpected situations where they have no choice but to work together. (“I will be yours for eternity, Humphrey, just as soon as we scale this jagged cliff and free dearest Aunt Letitia from the impenetrable fortress.”). They realize during their thrilling adventures that they’ve fallen totally in love with each other, the end. Simple, right?
Not quite. Just for a minute, think about all the major elements the romance author must include. The heroine must be flawed and vulnerable yet plucky and gorgeous and worthy of her hero, who is tenacious and virile, but ready to change his ways to have this amazing woman in his arms (“I shall give up my life as a frozen pea inspector to be with you, Edwina.”). The story should be either adventurous or exotic or bodice-ripping or crazy fun, and include a considerable quantity of red hot, searing kisses that instantly liquify the main characters. (“Oh, Bernard, I’m all aflutter!”) And as the story unfolds, it has to sparkle with sensitivity, sizzle with steamy love scenes, and be witty and playful in all the right spots. And let’s not forget the must-have happily ever after ending (“As we all knew this would happen back on page three, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the union of Beauregard and Tamsin…”), or at the very least, a happy-for-now ending (“I love you, Gretchen, so I’ll overlook the fact that you just asked me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.”).
As I wrote my first romance novel, I realized there was a whole heck of a lot more to it than just dropping the two main characters into a situation and hoping they’ll do all the work. (“Um, how do we get out of this hot air balloon, Mortimer?”) I discovered that while I have to include some level of action and/or adventure in my novels, to make them work my main focus must be on the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. This makes it easy for the readers to dive into the book and become that character. Even if the reader has been happily married for a decade or three, I want them to experience the excitement of that first look (“Dexter, who is that stunning, misty-eyed, raven-haired temptress with the heaving bosom staring at me from across this crowded room?”), the goose bumps from their first meeting, and all the blistering and passionate sensations from their first kiss. (“I’ll never wash these lips again.”)
And those five senses we take for granted are paramount when writing a romance novel. The touches, tastes, sounds, sights and scents (“What was that rumble?” Desmond asked, frowning. Yvette turned a sickly shade of chartreuse. “Forgive me, I had beans for lunch.”) – yes, all of them, granted some more than others, play a huge role in falling in love. Without them, a romance novel is just a travel brochure or a ladies shoe catalogue. The first love scene I ever wrote read like a WWE wrestling match. So not good! Why? Because I was focused more on body parts than on the main character’s feelings and sensations. (“That is your arm, isn’t it, Prudence?” “I thought it was your foot, Monty.”) Yikes!
“The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable” – Kimberley Parkinson shares her publishing journey
Like many Tellwell authors, Kimberley Parkinson took a huge step outside of her comfort zone when she decided to publish her first book. When her children’s book What Can You Do? was published, Parkinson realized it was time to get the word out about her book, and that she was going to be the driving force behind that. While marketing seemed daunting initially, her efforts were greeted with success and gratification. Now, she shares some of her early marketing experiences to encourage other authors to push themselves when they take the leap, and publish their writing.
Kimberley Parkinson’s take on book marketing:
A smile appears upon your face. There it is, nestled proudly within your hands, the first copy of your published book. You take a moment to reflect on all the hours spent from the initial thought to the finished product. You have worked so hard and deserve to relish in satisfaction.
Then the next part of your journey beckons…marketing! A mix of excitement and nervousness takes over. What is the best route to take first? Who should I contact, what should I do, where should I go? This is when you take the time to address your strengths and weaknesses. I know with myself, I would rather sit back quietly and let the book sell itself as I am quite shy with this sort of thing. I am not a fan of social media outlets and the thought of trying to sell my book in person to stores or reading my book in front of others at events made me want to throw up! My comfort zone was very comfy, and it didn’t like to feel threatened. However, I knew that for my own growth I had to push myself beyond those comfortable limitations.
I appreciated the knowledgeable advice and strategic outline that was given to me through Tellwell and needed to implement some of their suggestions. I had to at least try because I have always believed that there is no failure if I try. I wasn’t ready to do the social media thing yet, so I decided to go the good old-fashioned way. I travelled to locations that were within a reasonable distance and made sure to have copies of my book with me, along with props such as bookmarks, posters, etc. It was also important to have all my contact and book details ready as you don’t want to be fumbling around when asked.
Do your homework. Find out who the manager is, contact them directly, and most importantly, mind your manners. Be polite, be gracious for any opportunities that present themselves and be respectful to the ones that don’t. Unknown self-published authors tend to make some store owners apprehensive to take a chance on you and that is okay. Thank them for their time and walk out with your head held high. There will inevitably be some doors that close but if you believe in your book and most importantly yourself, you will start to see doors open. Patience and persistence is key.
Get your feet wet with smaller events at first if needed. I started with an intimate book signing/reading at my local library. It was a comfortable setting that helped me get over my nervousness. Have friends and family there for support. I felt much more at ease with their smiling faces around me. Advertise your book in local papers, make calls, get your name out there. After you have experienced one event, the next ones won’t seem so daunting. This is all still very new to me too, and I am learning as I go.
2017 was a great year for many of our authors! Huge congratulations to all who self-published a book last year. Here are just a couple of the authors who have inspired us with their 2017 publishing accomplishments:
After publishing his first book in the late spring of 2017, the author spent the rest of the year travelling throughout British Columbia and Alberta on a book tour which included stops in Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Vancouver and Edmonton. He received quite a bit of publicity along the way, and was interviewed on the CBC’s The Early Edition in September. Most recently, Levers was asked to appear in the Vancouver Public Library’s Annual Report. The author’s persistence when it comes to building relationships with the literary community has lead to his continued success both with events and signings and publicity. For more on Don Levers, visit his website: http://www.lootforthetaking.com/, or follow him on Facebook: @DonLeversAuthor.
Not only did the author publish the first 3 books in the Fifth Dragon Series in 2017, but the series is also now available for Chapters, Indigo, and Coles bookstores across Canada to order directly through Ingram! The author worked hard to develop a rapport with Indigo and its affiliates and the combination of book sales, good reviews, and consignment in some of her local bookstores led to the wholesale agreement. Kane is currently working on her next book, and we look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for this author. For more, visit her website: http://www.dkanebooks.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @dkanebooks.
Wilson used a combination of professional book reviews, online advertising, print advertisements and consignment to grow his brand and readership in 2017. His commitment to continued marketing efforts and his willingness to try new tactics, led to a spike in e-book sales and Goodreads ratings leading into 2018. Wilson has also been featured in the Huffington Post twice, most notably as part of IndieReader’s Best Reviewed Books of 2017. The author will be publishing his second book, Songs for Lucy, with Tellwell this spring. For more on Philip Wilson, visit his website: www.philipmwilson.com or follow him on Facebook: @authorphilipwilson.
We’re excited to begin another year of self-publishing and look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for our authors!
Winston Schroeder combines Santa and social issues in his satirical graphic novel, Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village
Know someone who is a fan of Christmas and politics? Elf Wars: The Battle for Santa’s Village is a graphic novel where the two subjects merge into one hilariously dark story. The novel was written by Tellwell author Winston Schroeder and illustrated by Logan Miller.
The 31-year-old writer grew up in Saskatchewan but has been living in Vancouver for the past 10 years. In 2015, he graduated from the Langara College Film Arts program where he studied screenwriting. While working odd jobs on the West Coast, Schroeder says he has dedicated some of his time attending L.A. pitch fests trying to pitch his screenplays. Although there was some interest in his work, it would ultimately fizzle out. Instead of waiting for others to collaborate with his content, Schroeder teamed up with one of his childhood friends and started their first project together.
“I’ve known [Miller] since the first grade. He’s always been a great artist and he pursued his passion and I kind of pursued my writing,” says Schroeder. “We lost touch for several years honestly but we always knew each other. And then we came back years later and decided to work on a project together.”
Although the political undertone of the graphic novel may reference the current political environment in the United States, Schroeder says he began the writing process during the Obama era but later revised his work to parody current events. “I was pretty influenced by the American political climate and how publicly tumultuous it is,” he says. “Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer from the 1960s. It’s one of my favourite holiday stories and I thought that if I could fuse real world politics with a fantasy world, that would be fun and interesting.”
With the first one published just in time for Christmas, Schroeder says he has already completed the sequel. Although it is not a continuation of the first graphic novel, it continues to highlight American issues using the same characters and festive holiday setting. In addition, readers will be exposed to a new villain and a new obstacle. “I kind of like to do parodies of social issues in America,” he says. “This one deals with a lot of police brutality in America and terrorism but done in a satirical, comedic way. It’s underlining social issues but done in a ridiculous way with Christmas elves and snowmen.” The second installment is titled Elf Wars 2: White Powder, and the author hopes to have it available for comic book lovers by Christmas 2018.
She Has Risen
- Montreal media icon Tommy Schnurmacher’s touching tribute to his mother receives high praise and acclaim
- Marketing consultant Katie Hennessey on her role in educating and empowering authors in their book marketing efforts
- Award-winning children’s author, Kristin Pierce, helps both kids and adults find their “inner compass”
- B.C.-based author Mark Lloyd wins top prize at IndieReader Discovery Awards for sci-fi novel
- The secrets to forum marketing for authors – how to promote your book online