Rosa’s Facebook Release Party

Non-writers aren’t apt to realize that most of the marketing of a book falls on its author. Even the largest traditional publishers don’t do much marketing for their authors. Uh, except for the really big money makers. The 20% who’ll pay for the 80% of authors who don’t sell sufficiently well to justify helping. Unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

And there are no guaranteed marketing strategies. What works for one person or one book will fail miserably for another. If there was one sure-fire way to guarantee book sales, everyone would hop on it and everyone would have a bestselling book. Hmm. Life doesn’t work that way.

I’ve mentioned–probably too often–that I’ve self-published Rosa No-Name, the prequel to Found in Translation. That means I don’t have a publisher to provide even a minimum amount of marketing.

So, like every other author, I’ve been trying to do everything I can to promote Rosa.  During the next month, Rosa is being featured on five different blog interviews or other promotions. And that’s good. At least additional people will learn about my book and perhaps even feel motivated to visit Amazon and check it out more closely.

But there’s one tradition I both love and dread: doing a Facebook release party. It’s easy enough to set up an event, in this case from my “Roger Bruner (author)” page. Since my wife, Kathleen, was helping, we both started inviting all of our Facebook friends. Between the two of us, we had a fairly large number. So I was about halfway through my friends list when Facebook told me I could only invite 500 people. There’s no limit on how many people can attend, but I could only specifically invite 500.

Okay. We’d both shared the news about the party on our individual Facebook pages. Hopefully enough people would see it. We knew only a small number of our friends and family would actually attend. People forget. Or they have something more important come up. Or they’re non-readers. Or they aren’t good enough friends to be supportive. Maybe some of them have attended a Facebook release party before and know how confusing they can be.

Planning a Facebook party sounds like it should be uber-simple. Buy a few items to offer as giveaways and hold drawings to, uh, give them away. Oh, but a release party should take longer than five minutes. The host/hostess needs to stay right in the middle of things, asking questions, making comments, and providing interesting information. Anything to keep the party in motion.

At least a Facebook party doesn’t require real food.

Kathleen and I did my release party this past Thursday night.  Several days earlier, she spent no telling how long writing a suggested script for the evening and sent it to me. One of the many wonderful things about Kathleen is I can edit and add to her suggestions without offending her. She’d made a GREAT start, but I had additional ideas that took about two-and-a-half hours to put into a Word document.

Then we hashed through it together at lunchtime, and I made a few additional changes. We were as ready as we were going to be.

Who would come? Only God knew. Would we retain our sanity while trying to inspire and entertain party goers? Only God knew that, too.

I’m happy to say we survived the party and enjoyed “talking” with our six attendees–four other authors and two “civilians.” We gave away four prizes. Fortunately, the non-authors both won something as well as two of the authors.

Was it worth it? Hard to say. Will we do a party for the next book? Probably.

Jesus may not have been talking about book sales when He said, “You don’t have what you want because you haven’t asked God for it” (Bruner translation of the Bible). Nonetheless, we’re praying with as much faith as we can muster, “We want Rosa No-Name to bless as many lives as possible. We’re asking You to help sell thousands of copies. We’ll do whatever marketing You want us to do, but we’re depending on You for the results. P.S. Not our will, but Yours be done.”

Have you ever attended a Facebook event? What did you think of it? How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Which One Is Your Favorite Child?

So, those of you who have children, which one is your favorite?

Wow! What a loaded question…and a ridiculous one. Obviously asked by someone like me who has a single child, one who by default will always be my favorite without regard to any of her wonderful qualities or even of her less desirable ones.

But I do have eyes and ears, and I’m apt to have my favorites among the offspring of families who have multiple kids. Maybe it’s because one always speaks pleasantly to me whereas another doesn’t seem to notice me, even when I speak to him. Or maybe one has a talent I especially admire and enjoy, but the abilities of her siblings don’t t hold any special interest to me.

Maybe I even prefer one child over another because she’s safely made it through the worst part of adolescence and the other kids are either still just children or younger teens I’d be willing to loan the parents a cage for.  And I’ll admit it: a cute kid warms my heart more easily than an average-looking one.

I don’t see anything wrong with my having preferences among other people’s kids. The important thing is I recognize that most parents either don’t like one of their own kids better than another or wouldn’t admit it even under oath.

Believe it or not, I CAN relate to that fact. Especially if I change the question to this:

Roger, of the books and songs you’ve written, which is your favorite?

Hmm. My favorite of the over two hundred songs I’ve written during the last fifty-some years?  And the favorite of my twelve novels, four of which have been or are about to be published?

Wait! Those are my children you’re talking about! How can you expect me to have a favorite? Each one was my favorite–or at least the most important one–at the time of its “birth.”

Sure, I keep a separate binder of the songs I don’t have any interest in anymore but don’t want to forget about totally. And several of my novel manuscripts just don’t seem to be what publishers are currently looking for; so I can pretend to forget about them.

But they’re still my children. All of them.

My wife knits and crochets.  A friend makes the most amazing things out of wood. Could they name the one project they would be willing to label their absolute, all-time favorite? I seriously doubt it.

And what about you? If you have a creative skill, would you be able to say that one particular creation was not just your favorite, but will probably always be your favorite? How about leaving a comment?

Oh, and I promised last week to give the answer this week about what those little gadgets I was writing about are called:

Plastic Toggle Spring Stop Single Hole String Cord Locks

At least that’s what some of the ones on Amazon were called. My wife and I were shopping at Hobby Lobby yesterday and found a package of them totally unexpectedly. And the package was labeled more simply:  Cord Stop Plastic. What a hoot!

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Frustration!

I probably would’ve learned this lesson years earlier if I’d read Ted Dekker’s book Black as a single novel. But my wife had given me the whole three-book Circle Series in hardback as a single volume. So I barely paid attention to the fact that Black didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Or that it was part of a series not a standalone.

The same with Red, the next book in that series. Both of those  books required the reader to proceed to the next book. White finally provided the ending I’d been waiting for and reading to reach. As if the series had just been a very long single novel.

So I failed to take in that a series is NOT the same thing as a sequence of standalone sequels.

That happened a number of years ago.

Flash forward to May of this year. I was attending a Christian writers conference near Asheville, NC. Among the many excellent features of the Ridgecrest Lifeway Conference Center was the presence of–surprise?–a Lifeway Bookstore.

If you read my recent post, “I Can’t Live without Books,” you won’t be surprised that I browsed through the Lifeway store at least once daily. Of special interest were books written by faculty and attendees. I enjoyed seeing my three  novels there, even though Lifeway doesn’t ordinarily carry them.

I couldn’t justify buying every book I wanted, though–I could’ve spent a hundred dollars in ten minutes–so one day I wandered through the “Bargain Books” section. Few of the books on those shelves appealed to me.

But there was one exception. Forbidden. A lengthy dystopian novel co-authored by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. For $2.97, how could I go wrong?

I finally started reading it a couple of days ago. Creative. Compelling. Absorbing. A real page turner. And so much better than another dystopian novel I’d read recently.

Last night I made the mistake of flipping to the last page. Not to cheat and see how the story turned out, but to find out what the last page number was so I could figure out how much longer it take me to finish.

Uh, okay. The book cover undoubtedly said something about this book being part of a series, but I didn’t see that or take in its significance. But what I’d accidentally seen on the last page made clear that Forbidden wouldn’t be any more complete by itself than Black had been. Unlike Black, however, I didn’t have the rest of the series.

Some bargain this $2.97 book was going to be if I had to get two more books to read the rest of the story. And at a considerably higher cost than $2.97 per book.

Honestly, I was so frustrated I almost pitched the book into the nearest waste can, determined to forget I’d ever seen it. Why bother to even finish it?

I haven’t pitched it, though. Not yet. But neither have I continued to read it.

I suppose I have no right to feel gypped–I got what I paid for, even though it wasn’t all I’d expected–but I think I’m justified in feeling frustrated. I hate series and now realize I should avoid them carefully in the future!

Let me ask something. What would you do now? Please leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

I Cannot Live without Books

CannotLiveWithoutBooks

I think Thomas Jefferson said it for many of us when he said, “I cannot live without books.” He owned one of the most extensive private libraries in the United States and read every book he owned. Then he contributed his entire collection to get the University of Virginia library off to a good start. After that, he started building his own home library all over again. No wonder the souvenir shop at Jefferson’s home, Monticello, sells t-shirts with that saying on it.

I can still picture several of the children’s books I read at a very early age. And I’ll never forget favorites like Ben & Me and the multiple books in the Doctor Doolittle series. And later when I fell in love with Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Alice in Wonderland. As a preteen I started reading science fiction.

When my grandmother died, I had the pick of some of the books in her collection. Even though Tom Swift was out of fashion by then, he still fascinated me.

One of the most astounding things about my childhood and teen reading is the fact that I was never introduced to Charlotte’s Web or any of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Fortunately, adulthood has made up for those lacks.

In college I had to do so much reading for my classes that I didn’t have time to read for pleasure, but when I started teaching school and got involved in handling book orders for my students, I fell in love with some of the books they were reading. The Pigman is one of the most interesting of those.

As a senior in college, I’d taken a contemporary fiction class that introduced me to John Barth’s The Floating Opera. Little did I know I’d end up living and teaching in the town that book takes place in, much less the same neighborhood.

I had several favorite authors in my mid-adult years (in addition to John Barth). Especially James Michener, who lived in the area while writing Chesapeake. My ex- got to meet him (at his home at that!),  but at least she was able to introduce me to Mrs. Michener once while out shopping. Nice, but not the same.

I still own nearly all of his books. I have no desire to reread any of them, but I can’t bare to part with my collection, either.

Another favorite was Nevil Shute, who was best known for On the Beach and A Town Like Alice.

I’d be hard-pressed to tell you my favorite authors and books now. I have too many. Not only do we have three or four bookcases filled mostly with fiction, the one in the living room is double-stacked (i.e., one row in front of another).

You said it, Mr. Jefferson. I cannot live without books.

What are your favorites, past or present? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: I’ve only talked about fiction today. But the Bible is by far the most important book I’ve read and continue to read.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

A Time to Read

michener

I love reading. I always have. I have fond memories of the old Dr. Doolittle books and Ben and Me and oh, so many other great kids books of years gone by.

As I entered my teen years, my tastes matured as well, although I don’t recall what I read then other than science fiction. Especially space travel, which at that time seemed like an impossible dream.

Then I ended up majoring in English in college, and I HAD to read so many books that I seldom (if ever) had a chance to read for pleasure anymore. I’ll never forget the course on the 20th Century Novel I took in my very last semester. We studied some pretty weird books, but one of the slightly less weird books really caught my fancy…John Barth’s The Floating Opera.

As it turned out, I moved to Cambridge, Maryland, after college and taught there for six-plus years. And that’s the setting of The Floating Opera. I was fascinated to reread that book and walk down the street from my boarding house and look more closely at the places Barth had described so vividly.

Teaching 9th grade English, I got caught up in handling book club orders for my students, and I fell in love with some of the best of teen fiction at the time. Who could ever forget The Pigman or any of the other popular teen books from the late sixties and early seventies? Not all of them were pleasant; I remember Go Ask Alice, too.

Once I got away from teaching, however, I also got away from the teen book influence. James Michener’s novels captivated me. Not just because they were excellent reads, but because he was living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at the time, and that fascinated me.

Especially when my wife (now my ex-) came home announcing that she’d gone with one of our church members who did secretarial work for Mr. Michener to their home and met him. What irony. She wouldn’t have waded through one of his novels to save her life…

For what it’s worth, my ex- was able to introduce me to Mrs. Michener when she recognized her in a department store one day. Not the same as meeting him would have been, though.

Once I’d written my first novel, I discovered how much novels had changed over the years. Those books I’d barely tolerated that last semester of college were actually typical now. Gone were introductory pages (or in Mr. Michener’s case, multiple chapters) of backstory. The author has to hook the reader in the first paragraph. Preferably in the first sentence.

Modern life is fast-paced, and the contemporary novel must maintain the reader’s interest or be thrown away or returned. Although I had an almost complete set of everything James Michener had ever written (the picture above is of just some of my collection), even I no longer had the patience to plod through his books again.

I could go on now, but I think you get the idea.

Not only did I have to learn to write differently than I’d learned to write in college, I learned to read and enjoy a different style of fiction.

And one of the joys of retirement is having the time to read as much as I want to. Not that I ever expect to return to James Michener. Like the man himself, my interest in that kind of reading has died.

Do you read fiction or non-fiction? What’s your favorite book? Do you still remember a favorite childhood book? Please share a comment with the rest of us.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog.  “As I Come Singing”check it out here–posts lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

 

 

Blatant Self-Promotion?

printFrontCover     printBackCover     kdpCover

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably realize that I haven’t tried to sell you any of my novels. But that doesn’t mean I won’t share information about my writing, especially if it’s something new. Something I’m excited about.

Let’s back up a few years. Like from the 1970s until the early 2000s. I wrote a bunch of stuff. Songs. Poems. Short plays. A short story or two. Several short plays. A couple of dramatic monologues. Even an essay. And let’s not leave out all the articles I wrote for newsletters at the places where I worked.

A number of those things even got published. Some in a local newspaper. Some in a free local magazine. And some even made it into some Southern Baptist periodicals–for a small amount of money! Wow!

But when I started to focus on writing novels, which I’d never done before, I quit writing those other kinds of works. And didn’t pay much attention to those I’d already written.

Then, when I created my current website, I wanted to give people a sample of the whole me, if you know what I mean. Sure, I’m no longer a poet or a playwright, and I’m barely a songwriter anymore, either. But those writings represent me just as much as my novels do.

So I put some of those old works on my website. The best I can tell, people have been reading them. Wonderful!

Now flash forward to a couple of weeks ago when I went to a writers conference in western North Carolina. One class I took was on self-publishing, and it confirmed what I’d been wondering about. There was no reason for me not to gather some of those older materials under a single umbrella and create a small print book. Also, the Kindle version of the same book.

So I did. The first two pictures above are of the print book. The third is the front of the Kindle version. I took the picture of the iris, by the way, and I wish I could’ve used the Kindle front for the print cover.

I’m not really concerned about making money from this book. I’m more concerned about having a positive influence on the people who read it. I also want to use it as a thank you to people who, for example, endorse my novels. Maybe even as a prize for a website-related contest.

Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

Now, you may not have any interest in my older writing–or my current writing, either, for that matter–and that’s fine. I won’t even tease you about not knowing what you’re missing.

But if you are interested, please take a gander at Amazon. The Kindle book is here. The print book is here.

So…what do you think? I’d love to have a comment here. Better yet, a review on Amazon.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list. And uf you’re interested in that blog, please go here.

Best regards,
Roger