I respect your privacy and will not rent, share or sell your personal information.

Indie Authors Have More to Love at the Library: Transformation

If librarians were honest, they would say, No one spends time here without being changed.“Joseph Mills

Public libraries have always been more than just keepers of knowledge and havens from the cold.

Growing up in segregated St. Louis, MO in the 1950’s, I could always count on my neighborhood library as a place where I was welcomed and encouraged. It was a place of wonder and joy where I could browse freely, and  leave with as many dreams as my arms could hold.

Joseph Mills, pictured just below, was not in attendance at any Indie Author Day celebration to my knowledge, but his belief in the transforming power of libraries was shared by all the independent authors across the nation who participated in this historic day on October 8, 2016.  (Do yourself a favor and read the full poem, “If Librarians Were Honest,” in his 2012 book Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet.)

Joseph Mills

Joseph Mills, author, poet, and lover of books and libraries

Joseph Mills, author, poet, and lover of books and libraries

Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet

Self-published authors, now preferring indie (independent) authors, have worked hard during the last few decades to turn out high quality books that will reach the hearts of new readers and win space on the coveted shelves of the public library.  The first Indie Author Day is the result of the work of strong local community groups, active online groups,  and dedicated industry support groups online and across the globe.

Now providing equal access to all includes indie authors, as the American Library Association rolls out its multi-year public awareness campaign: Libraries Transform.


 

It’s my pleasure to share the responses of a few of my fellow authors who participated in Indie Author Day across the nation. I asked them to share what worked well, what they would do differently next time, what inspiration they’d offer other authors, and what suggestions they would offer the libraries for a more successful celebration.

The libraries where authors participated is listed under their photo. All of the book titles and book covers are clickable, so you can purchase any book of your choice.


 

Lynette Smith
How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure

 

lynette-smith

Anaheim Central Library

As to my own sales, I sold one book (“80 Common Layout Errors”), and that was to a non-author who knew someone who could use it. All that beautiful “gratitude” and “letter writing” themed display, plus telling people inspirational stories about writing letters and how our son presented us with that letter and how truly moving that was and still is—and still nobody bought anything related to letter writing, although one person asked if my main book was available on Amazon. (I responded that it was, but it wouldn’t be signed or inscribed by the author, and it would probably end up costing, after shipping, about the same as what I was selling my book for that day. It didn’t seem to sway her.)

On the other hand, I did distribute a lot of how-to bookmarks, which I’m happy about; and my fellow author, Judy Brizendine, took about 10 to share with friends also.

I received a lot of compliments about my “Be Gratitude” shirt. I also received several positive comments about the good approach I had in splitting the main book into themed guides, to help appeal to prospective buyers who might otherwise feel intimidated by a half-inch thick reference book. And I received a couple of compliments about how nice the display looked, and one of those shared that she liked the branding that clearly came across.

To increase book sales, next time I will focus on benefits rather than features.

 


stern

Anaheim Central Library

Matthew Arnold Stern
Mastering Table Topics

 

A few things I learned:
1. Have a credit card reader (such as Square and PayPal). You can miss out on sales if you don’t take credit cards.
2. Do as much of your own advance promotion to encourage readers to see you.
3. Network with other writers. Build connections and learn from each other.
4. Bring candy.

 


Kathleen Pooler
Ever Faithful to His Lead

kathypooler

The Amsterdam Free Library, Amsterdam, NY

 

 

 

 

First of all, I found myself hoping that other indie authors were having as much fun as I was! We had a panel discussion of five local authors to discuss writing and our journeys to publication.

What to do differently?

Our librarian was very responsive to participating and several of us met with her a few times to orient her to the event and get her support. I think for next year, we should have a committee dedicated to the marketing aspect, maybe do a radio interview to discuss what it is and why it is so important.

Many people were away for Columbus Day weekend so we only had a few people in the audience. Even though the number was small, they were enthusiastic and asked a lot of questions.  Our librarian advertised in the local newspaper and on the library FB page. We could be more aggressive about it next year now that we’ve been inaugurated.

We did not have the official Indie Author posters or other display materials which I think might have sparked some interest in the event ahead of time and during the event.

Overall, it was a success and will serve as a template for next year’s event. Our libraries are our community treasures and supporting Indie Author Day helps preserve that treasure while facilitating collaboration between libraries and indie authors. A win-win for all!

 


 

Lillian Nader
Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space

 

lilllian-nader-theep-and-thorp

Anaheim Central Library

I sold and signed six books and had a blast networking with other indie authors. It was a lovely surprise when another author of novels for young readers, Patti Palermo, purchased my book, Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space. The other books were purchased by friends  who found out about the event from my email blast, Facebook posts, or event fliers prepared by the library.

I found it helpful to publicize the event in advance. It was also helpful to have a sign up sheet to add people to my email list, a table sign, candy, bookmarks, and business cards to give to interested parties.

The Square device  was available to accept credit card payments, but everyone paid cash for the books purchased. I also had $100 in tens and fives to make change if necessary.

My beautiful assistant, Leticia Montiel, was extremely helpful in setting up the display on my table and assisting with sales and photo ops.

My author friend, Heather Rivera, shared her tablecloth with me at our table.  Next time, I will bring my own tablecloth.  In addition, I wish I had taken more pictures.

It was kind of the library to provide water and snacks for writers and assistants as well as lovely name tagswith our names and book cover photos. The organizers were approachable and enthusiastic.

The best of all these benefits is the thrill of having my book available for check-out at the library, fulfilling one of my goals as a published indie author.


Shirley George Frazier
Marketing Strategies for the Home-based Business

shirley-george-frazier

Wayne Public Library, Wayne, New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

Adding colorful tote bags with complementary tissue paper acted as a beacon to my exhibit table.

I noticed that other authors brought pens, buttons, and photographs to display and give away on their tables.

Networking was extraordinary between all invited authors, and that activity let us learn which types of marketing were key to each other’s success.

The one thing I could not control was the number of patrons attending the event. Even though I contacted local newspapers numerous times, those publications are not obligated to promote the event, and I doubt they did. Library traffic was very light, and it may also have been hampered by rain. Still, I believe the event was meant to bring the authors (12 of us) together for a “meet and greet” and extended relationship for those of us who reach out each other.

 


Melissa Guzzetta
Private Lucky

melissa-guzzetta-anaheim

Anaheim Central Library

melissaonpanelalhambra-1

Alhambra Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to squeeze in two events, and they were a little bit different from each other.

I liked the Alhambra event a bit better, partly because the authors had an opportunity to speak and they treated the authors very respectfully.  More on that later.

What I can do to improve:  My display could use back-end height with pictures.  But, I thought my display looked better than some of the others.

What really works for me…to be able to speak about my book.   Also, one thing a little different I did was to have a PowerPoint presentation running to draw people’s attention.

Comments about the events:

Anaheim:  Didn’t like that the event was in the basement, and there was poor signage pointing out the event that day.

I felt the event was confusing…was it geared only towards authors? Or the public to get to know local authors?  It felt like an event that was geared only towards authors. Anyone from the public who walked in were greeted with the streaming event discussing topics of interest to self-publishers.  I also felt that streaming feed went a little bit too long.

That said, the good news is I sold two books after the streaming feed.  And, the library has the book on their shelf!

Alhambra:  They did not do the streaming event. Instead, they did a live panel of authors. They asked the authors questions, the questions varied depending on which panel it was. I was on a panel titled “The Writing Process”, so a moderator asked the question and all the authors on that panel got a turn to answer.  An example question was along the lines of “Do you know how  your story is going to end from the start?”  At the end, the audience got a chance to ask a few questions.   Each panel lasted about an hour, with a twenty minute break in between so attendees had a chance to go around and talk to authors and look at their book.

They had a separate room off of the main room for authors that had a spread of food – which was nice. And they gave each author a swag bag with some cool stuff.  My table space at Alhambra was bigger as well.   The room where it was held was on the first/main floor of the library, which was nice, but signage was poor here as well.  Alhambra had several volunteers with badges working the event to keep things running smoothly and help reduce confusion.

Despite all these good points, I only sold one book, but had several people take a card saying they were going to look it up online. Alhambra did not take a book to have on the shelf at the library.   I think the turnout was slightly higher compared to Anaheim.


 

Sheri Fink, The Little Seahorse

Alhambra Public Library

Alhambra Public Library

Here’s my advice for authors:

1. Promote your upcoming appearance on your website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so your Fans will know where to come see you. Tag the library/venue in your posts so they can share it again.

2. Bring bookmarks that Fans can take home with them including a photo of you, your book cover(s), and where to find you online (including your website, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts)

3. Always seek to add value by speaking on a panel, answering questions during your signing, taking photos with Fans, etc.

4. Support other authors by getting to know them, connecting with them and supporting them on social media, and buying their books for yourself or as gifts

5. Accept credit cards as well as cash by getting a Square payment device that transforms your phone into a credit card reader (www.SquareUp.com)

6. Make the experience of meeting you special for each Fan. Valuing your readers and having fun is far more important than book sales.

Sheri FinkInspirational Speaker, #1 Best-selling, Award-winning Author, and President of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” Brand (www.SheriFink.com)

Social Media Accounts:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SheriFinkFan

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sheri_Fink

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Sheri_Fink

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherifink


Flora Morris Brown
Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve

Anaheim Central Library

I was very excited to participate in the first Indie Author Day with 25 local authors. It was fun to go around and meet as many as I could before the event began and wish them well.

There is no formula to guarantee sales. I was pleased to have sold 8 books by the end of the day, but having participated in many book fairs and events over the years, this doesn’t always happen for a non-celebrity.  There have been other events where I didn’t sell a single book. When attendees have lots of choices, they are very selective about how they spend their money.

Here are some things I think helped boost sales:

  1. Made my table highly visible with balloons and books elevated on a display rack.
  2. Got a good night’s sleep so I was energetic and able to engage with every attendee who came to my table.
  3. Stood in front of the table instead of behind it .
  4. Greeted every one who came close to my table and put a book in their hands as I regaled them with stories from the book.
  5. Invited a friend (Thanks Mayra Cortez) to assist me by taking care of the payments, freeing me to talk to attendees and autograph books.
  6. Accepted credit cards using the PayPal reader.
  7. Gave everyone who came by something. If they strolled by without stopping to learn about my book, they got a buttercream mint. Those who engaged in conversation about my book, got a microwave popcorn packet with a customized wrapper. Those sho bought a book got all of that and a customized gift bag.

Here are tips for my fellow authors:

  1. Show gratitude to the library for hosting the event.
  2. Come prepared to network with and encourage your fellow authors.
  3. Give attendees with your contact information since some people may want to buy ebooks later or to just think before they buy.
  4. Suggest your book as a gift, not just a purchase for the buyer.
  5. Weeks before the event, promote your appearance and the event among your social media fans; put flyers in the places you patronize: coffee shop, restaurant, gym, church, etc.

Here are some things the library did that were great:

1. Graciously agreed to host this inaugural event. They were the only library in Orange County that did.
2. Welcomed us warmly with bags of treats and water to sustain us through the event.
3. Asked for our feedback so they can plan for next year.

What could have gone better?

  1. Hold the event on the street level of the library, making it easier for folks to find it.
  2. Present a program where authors can engage with the audience as panelists or speakers rather than run the live streaming program which seemed directed at indie authors rather than readers.
  3. Allow authors a full hour to set up so there is also time to greet each other before the event begins.
  4. Encourage local vendors in your area to contribute something of value to the swag bag.
  5. Invite local media.
  6. Hire a photographer to chronicle the event.

Did you attend Indie Author Day in your town? Describe your experience in Speak Your Mind.

 

Celebrate Black Poetry Day Your Own Way

 

On October 17th we celebrated Black Poetry Day in honor of Jupiter Hammon, who is believed to be the first African American to publish poetry in the United States. He was born into slavery  in Long Island, New York on October 17, 1711 and while growing up on a plantation, learned to read and write.

His first poem “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Crienes” was published on Christmas Day when Hammon was 49 years old. He is considered one of the founders of African American literature.

In honor of Hammon’s birth, Black Poetry Day was established in 1985 to celebrate the contributions of all African Americans to the world of poetry. Some of the most notable are Langston Hughes, Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker.

Listen to this rare audio of Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) reciting his poem “I,Too”, often called “I Am America”.

It’s no surprise that many of the early poems by African Americans with stinging memories of slavery and discrimination still fresh in their minds, spoke of overcoming struggles and hardship, often with encouragement and a look to a brighter future.

Langston Hughes “I Too Am America” was brought back to modern attention in The Great Debaters, starring Denzel Washington. [See the scene from the movie below]

How will you celebrate this day?

1. Look up and reflect on the meaning of poems written by African Americans. See a list of a few at http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets_african_american.html and at http://www.ehow.com/list_5842906_famous-black-poets-authors.html

2. Try your hand at a poem now. You don’t have to be an African American to write a poem of encouragement, expressing gratitude, telling how you overcame something in your life or celebrating freedom. Share it in the Comments link above the post.

3. Learn about the Harlem Renaissance, a period after World War I when many Blacks migrated North. During this period,  Black poet and writers openly celebrated their history and contributions and opened the doors for many other Black writers to share and be recognized for their work. Learn about this period at

4. Visit the National Museum African American Museum and Culture collection of objects and works related to African American poets at s.si.edu/2eKKmIA

5. Look up and reflect on how other disenfranchised Americans wrote poetry to encourage themselves, and celebrate their freedom.

Tell us in Speak Your Mind below how you celebrated Black Poetry Day.

Join the Annual 50,000-Word Race for the Novel: NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month

“Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.”

Every year as trick-or-treaters trail home on Halloween to tally their loot, writers around the world flex their fingers in readiness for National Novel Writing Month, better known as Nanowrimo, that begins on November 1st.

This is the month when would-be novelists churn out thousands of words a day with the goal of creating the rough draft of a 50,000-word novel.

National Novel Writing Month was started in July 1999 in SanFrancisco by Chris Baty and 20 of his friends. Although it began as a half-literary fest and half-block party, it has grown into a worldwide explosion of the imagination among 300,000+ aspiring novelists. It is now even a 501(3)(c) nonprofit providing programs such as the Young Writers Program and Camp NaNoWriMo, that empower and encourage vibrant creativity around the world.

If you’ve been longing to write a novel or struggling to finish one, here are some very good reasons to join your fellow novelists during NaNoWriMo.

You are encouraged to go for quantity, not quality.

Here’s your chance to push yourself to turn out that rough draft that every writer must create. At the end of November you will have a product that will definitely need to be edited and polished before it’s ready for publication, maybe for months later. But won’t it be great to have it done in a month instead of dragging on for years?

Your one-month novel will likely be bad, Actually really, really horrible.

But no one will ever need to see your rough draft.

Let me repeat that.

Write your worst. No one will ever see your rough draft.

What is important is that you will discover that you can create something that
is the same length as a good novel. Maybe, with attention to the elements of novel writing, you COULD turn a feeble attempt into a publishable novel with professional editing and polishing.

Listen to the Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, share the history and give tips.

You get tips and encouragement from published writers, industry leaders and fellow writers.

  1. Check out the calendar at http://nanowrimo.org/calendar for this and other exciting events, even virtual write-ins.
  2. Join on Facebook and learn about ways to get ready at https://www.facebook.com/nanowrimo and follow on
  3. Although you may certainly write alone, many NaNoWriMo writers gather in coffee shops, libraries and other public places to work on their novels and enourage each other toward their 50,000 word goal.
  4. There are 926 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guiding in 633 regions on six continents. Once you join, locate your region to see a listing of meeting places and times. Attend the ones that are convenient for you.
  5. In addition to the typical coffee shop meet-ins, my local NaNoWriMo groups will meet on a train, at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and even IKEA. Then there’s our write-a-thon, Night of Writing Dangerously in SanFrancisco.
  6. Get loads of tips and strategies in the http://nanowrimo.org/forums

The volunteer liaisons are wonderfully creative and energetic as they plan events to make it fun to join in. Some have themed dress-ups days and offer prizes.

Have any NaNoWriMo participants ever published their novels?

Yes!

Here are two you may recognize.

Hugh Howey, author of Wool and Sara Gruen, author of the historical novel Water for Elephants wrote their first drafts at NaNoWriMo.

But for a longer list, check out the traditionally and self-published NaNoWriMo authors at http://nanowrimo.org/published-wrimos

You don’t have to change your life, just make writing your focus.

Disciplined writers already know they must turn out a certain number of words per day. They do it by making a commitment and fitting it into their daily lives. You can do this too.

There is no pressure. You may track your word count on the NaNoWriMo site, but it’s on the honor system. Even if you don’t make the 50,000-word finish line, you will be happy to enjoy whatever progress you make. Just participating is an achievement.

If you’re ready, learn more and then register at http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works

Tell me in the comments the novel idea you plan to work on?

 

paperbackbookstanding_849x1126(2)

Flora Morris Brown, author of this article, also wrote Color Your Life Happy: Create Your Unique Path and Claim the Joy You Deserve, 2nd edition. Visit amazon.com/author/florabrown to  learn about her other books.

 

Uncover Hidden Riches When You Tie Observances to Your Niche

Just as news tie-ins can help you get media attention, pairing your writing with monthly observances can help uncover hidden riches in your business.  Every month of the year is full of monthly, weekly and one-day observances.

When you can find a way to share your knowledge, expertise and skills to help your readers, website visitors, workshop attendees, and customers, you enrich your value and uncover profits you may otherwise have missed. These tie-ins are also prime content for compelling press releases.

Learn about the day you want to use since many of them offer activities and ideas. International Literacy Day, one of the first  one of the first ‘days’ declared by the UN in 1965, is celebrated on September 8th. The goal is to focus public opinon on the global program of illiteracy. You can learn more about it and how it’s celebrated here.  You can find a great infographic about it here.

Here are a few of the ways various professionals and service providers could create articles, tips, booklets, ebooks ,or audio guides that tie into monthly observances, followed by a list of  some of the September and October observances.

Back to School Month

  • Feng Shui consultant– how best to arrange college dorm rooms
  • Parenting consultant– how parents can to prepare their youngsters for school success
  • Image consultant–fashion advice on styles on which parents and teenagers can agree

Family Meals Month

  • Plant-based nutritionist–how to transition your family to a whole foods diet

College Savings Month

  • Personal finance coach–ways to begin or continue college savings progams

Self-Improvement Month

  • Life coach–how to set and accomplish personal growth goals

Mold Awareness Month

  • Contractor–ways to prevent, spot and rectify mold in your house or office

Library Card Sign-up Month

  • Author–little-known benefits of using your local library

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

  • Pet owners–help others learn about this
  • Veterinarians–offer workshops to explain the process

What are some ways you can use the following observances to uncover hidden riches in your niche?

September Observances

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month
Baby Safety Month
Backpack Safety America Month
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
College Savings Month
Gynecology Cancer Awareness Month
Library Card Sign-up Month
(World) Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month
National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month
Mold Awareness Month
National Chicken Month
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
National Childhood Injury Prevention Month
National DNA, Geonomics & Stem Cell Education Month
National Coupon Month
National Head Lice Prevention Month
National Organic Harvest Month
National Osteopathic Medicine Month
National Prime Beef Month
National Sickle Cell Month
National Preparedness Month
National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
National Skin Care Awareness Month
Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month
Self Improvement Month
Shameless Promotion Month
Sports and Home Eye Health & Safety Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15)

October Observances

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
American Pharmacist Month
Apple Jack Month
Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Clergy Appreciation Month
Computer Learning Month
Cookie Month
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Eat Country Ham Month
International Drum Month
Lupus Awareness Month
National Diabetes Month
National Pizza Month
National Vegetarian Month
National Popcorn Popping Month
Sarcastic Month
Seafood Month

How to Help Your Library Help You Sell Your Book

A few months ago when I asked my Anaheim library what they were doing for the first annual Indie Author Day on October 8th, they hadn’t even heard of it.

Here’s the email I got from them today:


Calling All Local Indie Authors

This October, libraries across the United States will host local Indie Author Day events designed to bring local writing communities together to participate in author panels and events. The Anaheim Public Library is excited to invite you to participate in its inaugural Indie Author Day Fair on Saturday, October 8, 11:00am to 2:00pm at the Central Branch Library. If you are a self-published or small press author living in Orange County, you are welcome to submit an application to participate. Prospective authors should review the guidelines and submit the completed application by September 9, along with a copy of their book(s) for review. For those of you in the Orange County, CA area here’s the link to the application http://www.anaheim.net/DocumentCenter/View/12695


Being an indie author means you must look for every opportunity to promote and market your book. What opportunities have you uncovered in your community? Tell us in the comments.

For more ideas, be sure you are active in some of the many  groups of published authors in your community and online. I strongly recommend the following:

  • http://coloryourlifepublished.com
  • https://www.facebook.com/ColorYourLifePublished/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/GutsyIndiePublishers/
  • http://www.ibpa-online.org/
  • http://publisherswriters.org/ — See San Diego and Orange County chapters

What other groups can you recommend?