This month’s suggested topic is jobs we might covet other than that of a writer.
That’s an easy one for me. I want to be a marketing genius or a computer wizard. That way I could promote my books with great expertise, instead of laboring as to what to do to “get one out there.”
My inadequacies as a marketing professional go back to my childhood. At the age of seven, I convinced my mother I was destined to make lots of money selling Kool-aid if she would only provide it. I set up shop on a card table in front of our sidewalk. My mother brought out a pitcher of cherry Kool-aid. The sides of the container were dripping with moisture, so I wrapped my hands around the sides just to make sure. Yes, it was ice cold and ready for serving. My heart soared. I couldn’t wait for my first customer.
Unfortunately, we lived at the end of a very long street and didn’t receive much foot traffic in that area of the neighborhood. The only customers I managed to capture were my playmates that offered a penny for a cup of the delicious drink, when the asking price was five cents.
Deciding I would not let the problem of money discourage me, I persevered, waiting for the drivers of the droves of cars driving by to stop and replenish themselves. One man did and gave me a quarter. I rewarded him with not one glass but two, which he kindly drank and proceeded on his way. To this day I keep hoping he’s won the lottery.
My entire take for the day was thirty-two cents, which included the quarter I received from the kind man driving the car who stopped, along with five playmates who eagerly offered a penny for their drink, and a contribution from my best male friend, Eddie Schaeffer, who bought one cup, then coughed up another penny to get an extra serving.
The following morning my older sister Sandi, age nine, set up her own stand. She stated everything I had done was wrong, including giving my product away for a penny when I could have “had them walking up and down the block with signs pointing to your stand!”
She made signs on card board, that my daddy provided, that offered “Cool refreshments for 5 cents a cup”, and glued them to paint stir sticks.” She then invited all of my playmates who had so eagerly purchased my drinks for a penny a cup to walk the sidewalks from one end to the other for payment of two servings of her Kool-aid, which consisted of not one flavor (I had cherry the day before), but two, grape and cherry.
Her efforts were rewarded. She made two dollars and forty cents by the time she ran out of her third batch of Kool-aid. I’d been out-marketed.
Which brings me to where I am now: fresh out of ideas and amazed with what others are doing to get their books noticed. I am in awe of author friend Nicole Seitz’s remarkable interactive website, promoting her upcoming novel, The Inheritance of Beauty. She expounds on not only where she will be featured next, but offers any number of ways to win free books. That shouldn’t be hard for me to do, so I’ve written that option down in order to promote my latest novel All That's True. It’s the story of thirteen-year-old Andi St. James (I love young protagonists), who’s entire life is turned upside down during the first Desert Storm War when she discovers her father is having an affair with her best friend’s step-mother. To make matters worse, her brother has been killed in a freak hazing accident, which causes her mother to start drinking, all the while her sister is planning the Atlanta wedding of the year and is determined that Andi will be a junior bridesmaid.
Here’s the hype from the publisher posted on the back cover:
Andi St. James’ privileged Atlanta life is turned upside down after her brother’s tragic death. As the relationships around her crumble, Andi embarks on a poignant and sometimes laugh-out-loud journey of self-discovery, where she learns the devastating consequences of deception and realizes that making the most of what you’ve got is a big part of all that’s true.
I’m sitting here contemplating ways I can promote this book. If I were a marketing genius, or a computer wizard, my desk would be loaded with ideas, so many I wouldn’t know where to start. Not so.
Thankfully, my publicist has sent me an e-vite in honor of my first official appearance for ALL THAT’S TRUE (which is being released today, January 11th.) The e-vite is to announce that I will be featured at The Georgia Center for The Book on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 7:15 PM with appetizers to be served by CHOPstix Restaurant. It’s all spelled out neatly on the card with a delightful rendering of the book cover and a not-too-bad photo of me.
CHOPstix is supplying the food because they are featured in the book during one poignant scene when Andi finds out what else her father is up to. I called the restaurant and pointed this out and announced that I would be reading from that portion of the book during my presentation and they were happy to provide food in honor of being mentioned. What a blessing. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this marketing thing, afterall.
But, sending out the e-vites is what has me worried. During the promotion for my last novel COLD ROCK RIVER, I eagerly sent out scads of emails which featured the cover and an invitation to visit with me the day it debuted at a local Barnes & Noble store. I sent this on-line invite to everybody in my address book. Two days later I was completely locked out of receiving and sending emails.
It took me a week to find out that the host considered me a spammer and it took selling my grand-children to get them to believe I was only an author trying to contact all of the people in my address book that had given me their emails addresses themselves to begin with.
This time I will send out only ten at a time. In the event you are in the Atlanta area on Wednesday, January 26th, please join me at The Decatur Center for The Book (Decatur Library on Sycamore Street, downtown Decatur, Georgia), for some great food from CHOPstix, along with a reading and some trivia on why I wrote this book to begin with.
I would love to see you! And it will encourage this frustrated author to continue to find ways to promote the written word, as I’m determined that this is the year I will step out of my comfort zone and go for it. Wish me well, and be sure and tell me if you’ve struggled with marketing and promotion. It’d be nice to know I’m not alone.
All great best,
Jackie Lee Miles