Friday, August 28, 2009

38 Days to Publication - The Marketing Materials

Well, it's been a while since I've posted my progess and there's a reason for that. I'm pretty sick of reviewing this book right about now. I love it and hate it. This self-publishing business is hard work and if I have one piece of advice for anyone considering, try really hard to get a publisher first. I'd rather be writing my next novel and not designing marketing material. With that said, if you do decide to self-publish, it is one of the most draining yet rewarding experiences that you'll have ever. There is such a sense of accomplishment and "I really did it myself" that I'm sure it will be worth it...someday.

So, I'm back to my marketing materials now. I've finally got what I hope are my final drafts done. So, what do you think? Do they look homemade? Do they look appealing? Do the pique your interest in the book? If you don't like an element, tell me what you don't like and what you'd rather see. Don't let me go handing these out and mailing them to booksellers lookin' crazy, now!
I'm only including the front here. The back of both contain the back cover copy, email addresses, retail locations, and book details (size, length, ISBN number, etc.).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

60 Days to Publication and Counting -- Website and Promotional Materials

Despite suffering a few panic attacks over the past few days due to an ill-advised trip to the bookstore, I'm still pressing on with my quest for self-publication.

The former acquisitions editor from Simon and Schuster who I hired to do a manuscript review gave me her initial feedback which filled me with hope that I'm moving in the right direction. She said, "Just to let you know, I've finished reading The Bum Magnet--what fun! It takes alot to make me laugh out loud and Charisse made me roll . . . You have a great voice. Writers are either born with a great voice or not, and you were born with one."


So, as I await for her written notes to arrive in the mail so I can make my final revisions, I decided to put the finishing touches on my website, finalize the price, and determine which promotional materials I was going to use and design them. (I'll post the designs later.)

It's pretty much done. I've posted my media kit, posted a book description, added a book order page and a paypal button for people who want to order directly from me, posted an event and tour schedule in which I do have some events posted. I've signed up to attend the National Black Book Festival in May, that's the biggie. I'm still thinking on the South Carolina Book Festival. I've also added links to my blog. Once I create a blog and/or facebook page specifically for the book, I'll include those as well.

Promotional Materials
I've decided on three promotional materials to promote my book: postcards, bookmarks, and bookbags (the cinch backpacks). I'm ordering 5000 bookmarks, 2500 postcards (8.5x5.5), and 70 bookbags. Altogether, they'll cost less than $500. Can't beat that price, right? If you can design your own materials, order from I started using their services for my real estate ads and through my research, they are the cheapest around. And believe me, I've looked EVERYWHERE.

Why'd I choose those materials? Bookmarks are really cheap so I can hand out alot of them and give them to my wonderful friends to hand out to their friends. I selected an oversized postcard (almost the same dimensions as my book), which is more expensive, but will stand out among the little 6x4 jobs most people send out.

And I wanted to have the bookbags for giveaways at book signings or other events. If someone is bold enough to walk around with a bookbag with the words "Bum Magnet" on it, it is sure to draw attention and people may ask questions, at which time they can tell them about my book. Genius? Yeah, I know. Okay...maybe not so much. But I've already heard from several people who say they know friends whom they'd like to give one to. If you're not that friend, then you're probably going to be the friend that receives it. :)

As for the price? Well, I had to bump it up to 14.95 from $13.95because once I did the formatting, I had a lot more pages than I was expecting to which resulted in a higher printing price.

So that's it for today...I'll post pictures later (when I get home) so you can see exactly what everything looks like and tell me what you think...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

62 Days to Publication -- The Press Kit

Well, publication day is getting closer and closer. I’m trying to stay on my self-imposed schedule because if I drag my butt at any point, I might chicken out. So, I’ve spent the last couple of days putting together my press kit. This will go out to key book clubs, media outlets, and will accompany copies of my book when I send them out for reviews.

If you look up anything on self-publishing and what you need to do as an author, one of the most important things the “experts” tell you to do is design a professional looking press kit. They say the press kit should consist of – at a minimum – a cover page with a picture of the book cover and contact information, a press release, an author bio, an excerpt of your book with any reviews, and a sell sheet that provides all of the book details and descriptions. In my press kit, I’ve also included an interview/frequently-asked question page.

Whadaya think? Would it pique your interest in finding out more about the book? Or...meh?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

64 Days to Publicaiton -- The Book Cover

Well, today was cover day. I spent today finalizing the back cover copy and design.

The cover, in my humble opinion, is one of the most important parts of marketing a book. I cannot tell you how many books I have on my shelf (read and unread) that I bought based on the front cover and back cover copy. Sometimes they delivered, sometimes they didn’t–but that didn’t matter so much because they already had my money.

If you look at a lot of the African-American titles these days, my cover design is a far cry from what you’d see on other books with similar subject matter. The fact is I didn’t want photos of any strange, half-naked women on my cover. I wanted something that would stand apart from other books on the shelf (if it gets picked up by book stores). And I wanted something a little more mainstream because so many of the reviewers of my books in the early stages who loved it have come from all walks of life, from young women to old women, from young men to old men, whites, blacks, hispanic, British, Indian, and on down the line. I wanted to make sure that the cover was appealing and funny across all lines and boundaries. My cover illustrator, Dee D’amico, really helped me nail it. This is a far cry from the stick people drawing that I gave her a few weeks ago. I think I now have a cover that will, at a minimum, draw readers to pick up the book and look at the back cover copy. I think the back cover copy will entice people to open up to the first page. And I think the first page will rope folks in to want to buy the book. That’s the strategy. We’ll see how it all works out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

65 days to Self-Publication...Let the Countdown Begin

Okay, so I gave it a try. Gave it my all…well some of my all. Okay, a lot of my all but not all of my all. My attempts to get a literary agent were unsuccessful. As those who have followed my brief journey (at least from the point that I started blogging about it) know, I sent out five very directed queries to literary agents who specifically represent works like mine and got two requests for fulls. Both agents said they liked it, which was a far cry from “Go away, you bother me.” The rejection which gave me the most hope that my book is on the right track and worthy of publishing is the following.

“I so enjoyed reading your work–this is clever, smart, snappy, funny, fun. I passed this around the office, and though everyone could see why I liked it–and we all agree that your writing is very good–I’m afraid that there just wasn’t enough collective enthusiasm for me to be able to say yes…Do let me know what happens–there is somethingspecial about your work, and I certainly hope that means you will be in bookstores soon.”

Both cited the “tight market.” An acquisitions editor with a major publisher still has it but hasn’t read it yet. Although she assures me she’ll be getting to it soon, her plate is overfilled with her client’s projects. So, what’s my next step?

Well, I’m going the self-publishing route. I’ve weighed all the pros and cons. I’ve read article after article about how little hope there is for the vast majority of self-publishers to sell more than 12 books or get picked up by a major publisher. I know the market is flooded with hundreds of thousands of novels and the likelihood of mine becoming a best seller has the same probability of a second virgin birth. I know how much work it’s going to be to market (as you will see from my blogs). I know how much it’s going to cost, even with cheap POD publishers, putting out a quality product isn’t cheap AT ALL. I know, I know, I know…and I’m going to do it anyway.

So, as of today, the new focus of my blog is publishing my book through the self-publishing route. I’ve set the release date for my book as October 6th. That means, as of today, I have 65 days to publication. Each day, I’ll blog about what I”m doing to get ready for the big day.
I’m going to start with my current status and we’ll move forward from here.

As of today, my manuscript is completed and an editorial consultant that I hired is reviewing it to give me feedback. She a former editor from Simon and Schuster. For those who aren’t familiar with publishing houses, Simon and Schuster publishes authors like Zane, Omar Tyree, Jennifer Weiner, and others. So, it’s a great publishing house and I feel like I’ll get the best feedback I can get. The editor has told me she will get the manuscript back to me sometime within the next two weeks, could be sooner, could be later. I dunno. But I have to be patient and wait. This is an important step to ensure I’m putting out the best quality product that I can.

While I’m waiting, I’m putting together a marketing plan, putting together a press kit, updating my website, designing postcards and bookmarks, and looking into doing a bookbag giveaway. I’m getting ready to set up facebook and blog pages for the book, and a host of other things that I will blog about as the time comes. So, I hope you’ll stay tuned.

I’m looking for a great slogan for imprinting on bookbags or buttons. I’ll give a free, autographed pre-publication copy of the actual book (in it’s retail format) and a free bookbag (a cinch backpack) with your slogan on it to anyone who can come up with a good one for me to use! Should be less than ten words, funny, and contain the words “bum” or “bum magnet.” The slogan will only be used on promotional materials that will be given out for free. Winning slogan will be selected on September 1st.

Let the countdown begin. For more information about The Bum Magnet visit my website at

Sunday, July 26, 2009