Welcome to My Full-Time RV Living LifeStyle Blog!

I suppose I should mention that this is an RV blog. The picture of me standing beside a motorhome in the banner probably tipped you off to that fact already, but you know how it is with blogs, any body can put anything in the header.

Anyways, I was born, raised, and live in Maine, I have 12 cats, and some people would call me homeless. Nope, I have a home, I just don't have what people call a standard house. My house has wheels and her name is Rosebud. My backyard stretches on for thousands and thousands of miles all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time I had a "regular home" but a flood came and took it away. Me and my cats spent the next 3 years living under a 8x6 tarp and survived through 3 blizzards and Maine's coldest winter on record when the temps hit -48F. After that me and the cats moved in a Volvo. As hard as it is to live in a tent with 12 cats, it's even harder to live in a Volvo with 12 cats, and a motorhome named No Hurry was the answer. No Hurry: my home, my office, my RV.

I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, adventures, and advice on being self-employed, living and working a full-time RV LifeStyle with an army of cats, while boondocking in the wonderful (and sometimes sub-zero) state of Maine.

I hope to write a post a day featuring random thoughts as they pop into my head, and hopefully 2 or 3 posts per week will focus on something helpful to those seeking to live in an RV full time. If you've any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what sort of posts you'd like to see me write, please comment and let me know.

I hope you all have as much fun reading this blog as I know I'll have writing it.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

FAQs: Should writers get into marketing to sell their books?

"May I ask you a question? I have read a good lot of advice about marketing recently, book marketing but I am confused somehow. ...I am asking you because if you go for the self-publishing option, I would want to know if you really believe in that self-published authors can do a kind of aggressive marketing to boost their sales?

I was never a good salesman while astonishingly so, in my sales trainer programs, I always produced gigantic sales women (not men) and do not really know for what reason. It's almost hilarious, really. When I train women to sell, they sell like hell while I cannot sell. Does that make any sense to you? How can I train people to sell well if I cannot sell well? And yet that was my experience.

To come back to my question, do you believe that writers really should get into marketing to sell their books? Do you think that writers need to be smart in sales and marketing? But how to learn these skills if you are like myself a trained lawyer, otherwise a musician and artist, but never acquired marketing skills? I also consulted marketing firms in USA and was shocked about the charges they quoted me. I said to myself, wow why is marketing so expensive? Can you tell me?"

 First thing you need to know is each genre is going to have a totally different and unique audience  which will effect how you market, where you market, when you market  and to whom you will market. But keep in mind too, that while you need to know the demographics to make sure you are marketing to the right people, but that is market research NOT marketing itself. Marketing is much more than just "knowing your reader", it's also knowing how to get that reader's attention. It's knowing what ads that reader will be attracted to, it's know where your reader is likely to be and putting your ad in the right place, at the right time, on the right day.

For example, if you write a play script, sure you can publish it and post it on Amazon, but heck of a lot of good that'll do you, because the folks who buy plays DON'T look for them on Amazon, they look for them script hosting sites where stage directors rent the rights to produce the play.

Likewise if you writ a Dungeons and Dragons RPG module, sure you'll get a few sales off Amazon, but your big hitter is going to be signing a (free) contract with RPGnow.com and giving them the rights to sell PDFs directly to the dungeon masters who will use your books in their games.

Same goes for adult self help books verses middle grade fiction. Self published self help books are often good sellers, but only for those indie authors who are members of such places as LightWorkers.org and selling to fellow members. While middle grade self pubbed books are going to get the best sales if you POD publish 100 copies for yourself, and than mail those 100 copies as "donations" to 100 local libraries, schools, and pediatricians waiting rooms (be sure to put "Free Waiting Room Copy" on the covers!)

You see, it's more than just "knowing your readers" it's also, knowing where your readers are going to be and where they are going to expect to find your book. Remember, your readers ARE NOT going to come looking for you. You have to be out there in your readers' face, be where they are going to be, and be there over and over again, so that they get so used to seeing your book, that they feel like they HAVE to buy it, because they are so familiar with it. You goal should not be to make them buy it first time they see it, but rather, make them see it so many times that they feel they MUST buy it.

And getting to answering your question. YES! I do think marketing is important. I have an advantage of having very good marketing skills, and was able to gather up a little fan following of 7,000+ regular readers, because I knew who my readers were, what they wanted to buy, where they were going to look for it, and focused on getting my books in front of them. I don't sit around waiting for my readers to come to me, I actively go out looking for them.

"I would want to know if you really believe in that self-published authors can do a kind of aggressive marketing to boost their sales?"

I think the answer is both yes and no. It depends on the writer in question and their personality. As I mentioned, I had some (minor) training in marketing and sales, and I was a sales representative for several years. Marketing is just second nature to me, so I've got no problems with it. Also I've written 30+ books, 200+ short stories, 2,000+ articles, several RPG modules, a couple of comic books, and a few dozen plays since I started writing in 1978, so I've had a lot of years to really get to know who my readers are and what they want, what they expect from me, and where they will go to look for stuff I write. I know from a lot of trial and error that most of my readers are 16-35, my romance stuff is favored by females, while my RPG stuff is favored by males, my horror stuff is pretty evened out between males and females, and my non-fiction is favored by women aged 25 - 65 usually with Autistic children or grandchildren.

I know this stuff because I'm easily accessible to my fans, 7,000 of which follow me on Twitter, a few thousand friend me on MySpace, and 5,000 friend me on FaceBook, I chat with them on my blog comments, and when they email me with questions I post their questions an my long answers on my blog, and those that contact me snail mail, know they can expect to get Christmas cards from me in the mail, and those who know where I live (and many do) know if they show up in my town, all they have to do is keep an eye out for the rhinestoned car (covered in 2.5million beads and rhinestones) and once they find the car, they've found it's owner (me) and they know I'm more than willing to stop what I'm doing to talk to my fans in person, answer questions, give advice, and sign whatever they happen to have on hand for me to sign.

Being the type of person who is easily approached, friendly to strangers, willing to take out time to talk with fans, not the type of person to run and hide or worse yell at fans, goes a long way too. Being accessible to your fans is the best kind of marketing there is, because, once they meet you, they are going to run to tell their friends "Guess what I meet the author of ____ and she is so nice, we had brunch together at the Panera, ohmigod, she signed my napkin..." But this sort of thing doesn't happen over night, and like I said I've been doing this near on 40 years now, and I have a personality where I just love getting to know new people.

But not every writer is like me. For example I have an uncle who has written about 5 books now and has no sales at all because he refuses to send copies of his books out to libraries and book stores and reviewers. (You got to do that!) He likewise avoids Amazon (thinks it's some sort of government conspiracy). Also, due to a weird paranoid fear he printed up 1,000 copies of his book from a print shop (which is not on POD or ebook format) than locked them (the books) up in his garage. Next he built a free hosted web site that shows a photo of his book and the price, than says to email him for info how to buy it. He has yet to sell any copies of his books. Why? Because no one knows they exist. They are not available at libraries or bookstores or on Amazon, POD, or ebooks. No one knows him or his website so no one looks for him or his website. In short, he has done no marketing. The really weird ironic thing is, his books are all self-help guides on how to make a living writing books! LOL!

But yeah, to answer your question, yes I think some writers do have the marketing skills to self publish and be successful, but I also think that no, many writers do not have these skills and for those without these skills I think it is to their advantage to avoid self publishing until they gain proper marketing skills.

"wow why is marketing so expensive?"

You have to consider here what marketing actually is, and how much it costs them to do it. They are paying for the ads in newspapers and magazines. They put together your press kit and send it out to no less than 50 newspapers (at least one for each state), to all the local radio station and tv stations (providing you agree to do live on the air interviews). They send copies of your book out to professional book reviewers and critics, as well as to places like LibraryThing (which gives away 50 free reader copies, to average readers, who than write reviews on both LibraryThing and Amazon). They mail free waiting room copies of your book to hospitals and doctor's offices, and at least one free copy of your book to as many libraries in your state as possible (this could means up to 1,000 free copies of your book going out). Of course the Library of Congress gets their 5 free copies. The marketer also does the demographic research to figure out who your readers likely are and makes certain that picture of your book get out in front of them as much as possible (knowing that the average reader has to see the book 10 times before they actually buy it). Also the marketer is often the person who takes your books in person to the small mom&pop book stores and asks them to put them on the shelves for a commission.

Gas costs $3.50 a gallon and they are doing a lot of driving getting this all done for you. They have an office with utility bills and overhead. Consider too that they are mailing out anywhere from 100 to 2,000 free copies of your book to various places, at a postage cost of $4.50 per book. And remember that the cost of advertising in big name magazines and newspapers is not cheap. For example, a full color, one day, one page ad in The New York Times, for a new book release costs $12,000. Yep, you read that right. It's cheaper to buy a car than get an ad for your book in NYT. If you ask your marketer to put an ad in NYT for you, you better be sure your book is going to bring in $120,000 in sales.

Every thing they do for you, you have to pay for. YOU pay their gas, YOU pay that postage, YOU pay to have those 1,000 free copies of your book printed, YOU pay the $12,000 for the ad in NYT, AND it is YOU who pays the $20 to $100 an hour charge for them to do all of this stuff for you. That's why they are so expensive.

Now sure, if you know what to do and who to contact, yeah, you can do the marketing yourself. But all that time you spent packing books, mailing books, assembling press kits, going to the mom&pop shops, digging through phone books trying to find the names and addresses of all the local libraries and doctor's offices...sure you can do all that your self and save the $100 per hour you pay the marketer to do this stuff, but all that takes time - a lot of time - a lot of time that you are not spending on writing your next book. So you have to weigh your options.

When you get a price quote from a marketer  be sure to ask for a detailed list of each and every newspaper they'll advertise in, each and every library and doctor they'll send you book to, each radio station your press kit goes too, etc, etc. Some will charge a lot and do not much, so you want to be sure you are actually getting what you pay for.

Ever wonder what it was like to live with Autism? 
I have Autism. For more of my life I rarely spoke and was considered "too crazy" to ever live a normal life. I communicated via writing instead of vocally. I did not attend school. Psychologists said I would never drive a car, never get a job, never go to college, never function as a meaningful member of society, never be able to take care of myself or live on my own. They said there was no hope for me, I would need full-time care my whole life. 
My progression was long and slow and very hard. Things other people found easy to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth/hair, walking across the street, etc,) I found extremely confusing and hard to learn. I was prone to wandering off and getting lost (I still am). Driver's ed takes most people a few weeks to learn - it took me 5 years. 
I determined to prove the doctors wrong, but it was far harder to do, than most people would imagine. I got my first job working at Macy's at age 30 (a very difficult job as I had to deal one on one with customers and I still at that point was not talking in a manner that could be understood by others). I got my GED at age 34. I got my driver's license at age 35. I started college at age 36. By age 37 I had become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student and I was finally able to speak to others in full spoken verbal conversation for the first time in my life. 
Now you can find out what it's like Being an Adult with Autism


Good morning Starshine! Liked this post? Looking to connect with me online? I love social networks and am on most of them. You can find me on: BloggerEtsyFaceBookGoogle+KeenMySpaceNaNoWriMoProBoardsScript FrenzySpoonflowerSquidooTwitterULC Ministers NetworkWordpress, and Zazzle Feel free to give me a shout any  time. Many blessings to you, may all your silver clouds be lined with rhinestones and sparkle of golden sunshine. Have yourself a great and wonderful glorious day!

~Rev. Wendy C. Allen aka Empress EelKat of Laughing Gnome Hollow


This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day! ~ EelKat


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