Saturday, August 29, 2009

Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Six - Promo

My book was almost ready. How could I let people know about it? I needed to get my promo started.

Choice One Publishing Co. needed an Internet home, not just a snail mail address. I fiddled with the idea of starting a new website other than my author site at Morgan Mandel.Com, but decided for the time being I'd try something else.

I already had a personal blog, plus contributed to a number of group blogs, which were all Blogger/Google related. Why not try a new look to set me apart as a publisher?

I decided to go with Word Press, picked out a template I liked, and paid a little extra for the .com option. That way, if people wanted to comment they could, but the site would basically be used for advertising Killer Career, with buy links to distributors, book descriptions, news about the book, and other salient information. Later I could use it for my other self-pubbed books, if I chose to continue in that vein.

I bought stationary and envelopes with the publishing name on them and made sure that my postcards, bookmarks, brochures, flyers, business cards, etc., also contained the link for Choice One Publishing Co. Most of you probably know that offers some great deals for promotional materials, but you do need to be careful to order only what you want and not click the wrong buttons.

When you're self-pubbed, your author and publisher personas at times blend. I bought books from Lightning Source at the publisher's discount, but I usually refer to them as author copies.

One thing I needed to arrange was the dropping off point for my books. They couldn't just be left on my doorstep. Not only could they get stolen, but also they could get attacked by the weather. Fortunately, my brother works from home, has an enclosed porch, and didn't mind receiving the delivery.

I made sure to order my author copies to arrive a month before my release date so I could have them in time for the book launch party. It wouldn't be a good idea to have the party without books. Book launch parties are a must, if nothing but for building self-confidence. It's a great rush to know everyone who comes wants to buy your book! Mine was a blast, despite torrential downpours outside.

Anyway, I started out with a 300 book order. A 30% off volume discount program was going on, I needed copies for reviews, family, and friends, plus upcoming events, such as flea markets and craft fairs. Also, I like to have 100 extra of each of my books on hand. That's just me. I'm a saver. It's not necessary to order that many. Order whatever you feel comfortable with.

As soon as I could, I sent out to as many reviewers as possible. The bad rap against self-publishing told me to wait until my product was as close to perfect as possible before I submitted the book. I know I missed out on the big guns like Kirkus, but I didn't feel like waiting four months for the reviews to come back before the release. Other people are more patient, I know. Also, many authors are content to send off submissions to publishers and wait for acceptance or rejection, then if accepted, wait a year or so for publication. More power to them, but I'm not getting any younger. I don't like to wait.

Anyway, I've gotten a few blog reviews back. One's at Unbound, another at The Unwriter Ron Berry. I'm quite happy with them both. Also, I'm eternally grateful for the amazing review Rob Walker gave Killer Career on

On the subject of author books, I used some of them to send out to the booksellers, Barnes and Noble, Borders and AWBC (Books-A-Million), along with letters and forms, asking if they would carry Killer Career in their brick and mortar stores and put it in their database.

I just heard back from Barnes and Noble a few days ago. Surprisingly, I learned that not only would Killer Career be in the database, but it was already ordered for some of the brick and mortar stores! That was a huge thrill for me, since my prior books which were not self-published didn't make it into the chain, except briefly for book signings. I've already gone to the Schaumburg store, signed stock, spoken to the CRM about a book signing possibly in November, and dropped off bookmarks.

Get this - I can't resist a bit of BSP here - I called the Deer Park, Illinois store to see if Killer Career was in stock. The person I spoke with said it was in stock. Not only that, he remembered putting it up. He loved the cover, so he placed my books in the new mystery books bin. When he said that, I felt super good, kind of like how Sally Field felt winning the Academy Award when she gushed all over the place. If you're old enough, you'll know what I'm talking about. I added the link to her name for you to enjoy, but come back afterwards.(g)

What a wonderful feeling to know someone liked my choice. All the hard work of getting my cover together had paid off. Goes to show, covers do count. I'm hoping he'll mention that cover to a few customers and make some sales. I'll be sure to get over to his store to sign stock. I'm doing a book signing there some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I know there are copies at the Arlington Heights, Illinois store as well and will get over to sign them soon. I've already got a book signing lined up there for October 17. Next, I'll be doing more detective work to see where else my book is carried.

Presence in a book store is a great promotional plus. Other promotional matters to attend to, whether you're self-published, small press published, or with a big house are: Book signings, not just in bookstores but also at craft fairs, flea markets, wherever someone will let you sign; blogging, including doing a blog book tour such as the one I've been on for the past two weeks; e-mails to your e-groups (you better be on some); messages on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Book Place, and more.

While you're at it, be sure to help others along the way. I appreciate everyone who has helped me and will never forget them. You better believe, I pay back whenever I can.

What about you? Whether or not you're self-published, what do you do for promotion?

Don't miss tomorrow's post - Downloading, Proof, Acceptance and Publication.

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  1. So much time and work you've put in, Morgan! And so great that you're sharing what you've learned and done with all of us.

    I ordered two copies of Killer Career today. (I'm actually thinking about Christmas presents way in advance!)

    Straight From Hel

  2. Great articles! How did you get around the BN requirement to have only returnable books? I have run into that with mine. Thanks.

  3. Hey Morgan, You really went all out with this. Promo is so important, no matter how your book gets published.

  4. Part of what's really nice about this series, Morgan, is the conversational tone - like our good buddy is passing on her experience to help the rest of us. I love it! Wish we could do this for another week, as I'm sure you have tons more insider knowledge. I'd also like to know if this kind of "added content" sharing is helping sell the book. As compared to a regular blog book tour. Be sure to give us another buy link next visit!



  5. How great to be in the stores--and how tirelessly you've worked (first on the book itself, then on everything else) to achieve all this! Congrats, Morgan...going to look up the book on Amazon right now.

  6. V helpful and insightful advice. And the flow and "story" of your journey in this publishing venue was truly interesting. Thanks so much for being one of the "pioneers."

    All the best on future successes and adventures.

    Pat Harrington

  7. Wow! That's enormously encouraging. Congratulations on getting into the bricks and mortar stores. (Makes me wonder why small publishers are still finding it so hard - they need someone as dedicated as you I guess.)

  8. I've been following this series closely! I've tossed the self-pub idea around. You've given me great encouragement. I'm saving this series for when I get to that point. (48k word count on WIP - still have quite a way to go)

  9. Thanks so much, Helen. I appreciate your support very much.

    Just back from my annual visit to the eye doctor. Now I can kind of see again after the eye drops in my eye. At least I have the same prescription for my eye glasses, so that was good.
    Morgan Mandel

  10. Great tips on promoting Morgan. I have really enjoyed this series with you and learned a lot. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    BTW, this topic connects to my latest blog, too, where I review a book about promoting on the Internet.

  11. About the returns - I had to break down and offer returns. Since I need every advantage I can get, I clicked the returns option on the online contract. I've heard it could be up to 30%, but I do know that for any book signings I do, I'll be sticking around as long as I can to sell out, plus I'll be doing stock signings to help the cause. I don't plan on spending 30% of whatever I take in, to be on the safe side.

    I don't like the idea, but I have to follow what the big houses do if I want to play their game.

    Morgan Mandel

  12. Dani mentioned buy links. I've got them listed at my publishing site at, the main ones being Barnes & Noble and Amazon, Ingram for libraries, also,,

    I'm still waiting to hear back from Borders and Books-a-Million brick and mortar stores.

    I'm almost through getting the kindle edition ready. I have a few issues to resolve on the paragraph formatting. I hope to have it out within the week, maybe sooner.

    I also plan to get a trailer together, maybe this weekend, with the heroine, good guy and sexy villain, if all goes well.

    I still have packing to do for a Labor Day weekend trip starting Thursday.

    Morgan Mandel

  13. I'm impressed, Morgan!


  14. Morgan -
    you are a constant inspiration to us. My small press publisher had to agree to returns too - cost me a bit - but still worth getting your name and Book out there where people are.
    Keep it going!!
    DL Larson

  15. Great tips as usual, Morgan! I'm loving the series you're doing on this.

  16. Just found out I may need to work a bit more on my kindle version and figure out some html.

    I emailed Rob Walker, who had many of his books converted, and mentioned that some of the paragraphs weren't indenting. He said his son, a genius at that sort of thing, had to go into the html to fix it.

    Another project to figure out.(g)

    I think I'll finish the trailer first, because that won't take as long. Then I'll tackle the kindle html.

    Morgan Mandel

  17. Morgan,

    Congratulations on getting into brick-and-mortar stores. That seems to be the biggest challenge for my clients who self-publish.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  18. Morgan, it is so refreshing to hear all this... I have weighed the pros and cons with self-publishing as opposed to traditional. You have given me hope ~(most, going the traditional route, are not too approving of SP, as though it was beneath a true author to even consider that way)
    Thank you for your open, honest approach to this.
    (I have 2 completed novels and three wips)

  19. I can't say that any of it's easy, but most of the time what's worthwhile doing isn't easy.

    There are still people out there who look down on self-publishing. Many are in the book industry itself. On the other side of the coin, average readers I've spoken to find it amazing I published my own book. As long as they judge Killer Career on its own merits, that's all I ask.
    Morgan Mandel

  20. I am a new author and I would like to get your review of my new fantasy book. It has just been released on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.

    Synopsis: On their way home from baseball tryouts, Brad Colby and his two sons are involved in a terrible car accident that leaves six-year-old Pete in a coma. When Pete awakens, the family is crushed to learn that he is paralyzed.

    Meanwhile, Pete’s eight-year-old brother, Jason, has been having powerful dreams that lead him to a mysterious realm known as DreamWorld. Jason discovers that all of his desires can come true in DreamWorld, but the time is fast approaching when he will have to choose between his two worlds.

    And when more devastating news strikes at the heart of the Colby family, Jason and Pete set out on a desperate attempt to find the Gateway to DreamWorld and save their family. With time running out on their dangerous path, will Jason and Pete’s fear of the Unknown keep them from reaching the paradise of their dreams?
    Brenda Estacio

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. MORGAN--I deleted the previous comment--it was mine--I called you Helen. It was a glowing report, so I'm sorry I had to start all over. Now, I can't remember the wonderful things I said. Yes, I do. You should write a book--ha-ha! You have all the knowledge on How To Publish down to "t". I applaud your creativity and your tenacity. I also know I could never do this--I'm far too lazy. Good luck and keep writing and making money. Celia

  23. I'm agreeing with Celia. But I've got to say I've read your blog and it is fantastic. Maybe a few extra vitamins will get me up to the task you've accomplished. I've passed along the link to your self-pub journey to a friend who is considering this path. You encourage and at the same time tell the truth.

  24. I guess I'm stubborn sometimes. That's how I make it through to the end.

    Morgan Mandel


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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