Paddling Hard in the Indie Ocean – 2012 Lessons Learned

Trevor Optimized

Sharing a laugh with Trevor Dennison at Scranton library.

During the wild year about to fade into history, I learned:

– The art and romance of literary speed dating;

– That “message” may be more potent as a verb than a noun;

– To understand the angles that help or hurt in photos, and to aim for the former.

I launched a second novel, a prequel to Bella titled, Bootlicker, and learned:

– Unveiling your book at a trade show in a region of the country where your story takes place makes good sense;

– Even bookstore owners have limited attention spans. That puts it on you to pitch fast and effectively, to stand out or step away.

– No one cares if you have one official launch party or half a dozen. Target different audiences and party your pages off.

I commissioned a trailer for the second book and learned:

– To turn a novel into a script, imagine pitching your story to a commuter whose train has just pulled into sight (You’ve got about 30 seconds);

– Backstage photos from the shoot make a great Pinterest board;

– Everyone’s making a trailer. Go the extra mile and make a little art.

Jeffrey Madison plots the Bootlicker storyboard.

Jeffrey Madison plots the Bootlicker storyboard.

I used my website and at least five social media sites, but learned:

– A handshake seals the bond between author and reader better than anything that currently exists in cyberspace;

– Online followers are terrific, but people you meet in person become advocates, and possibly surrogates;

– When wine appears at book clubs, questions get pointed. What would YOU do if a woman like Bella grabbed you under the table?

I did dozens of interviews and learned:

– Making assumptions, like perhaps the interviewer read your book, is a mistake;

– Back to back to back interviews are challenging, but your enthusiasm and belief in your work must come through loud and clear every time;

– Interviews and reviews are different animals. An interview should be a conversation. Don’t drag out answers and hog the time.

In analyzing nearly 70 reviews of my two novels, I learned:

– Great reviews don’t translate to great sales, at least not right away;

– A great review can send you soaring; a lousy one can send you into a funk. Resist both extremes, and never argue with a reviewer.

– If someone says she loved your book, say thanks, (insert person’s name). Then quickly ask her to please post a few lines on Goodreads and Amazon. (So easy to forget!)

With Natasha Barrett on Let's Talk Live!

With Natasha Barrett on Let’s Talk Live!

There’s more, of course. This year I experimented with tools like Viddy, Storify and Wordle. I revamped my website, adding new illustrated excerpts and a Skype book club option. I jumped on a free Vocus trial and fired out a press release that got some attention. As my first novel, Bella, was winning a couple of awards, I also hosted several webinars for the Author Learning Center. I took a road trip to South Carolina and learned the value of leaving time to follow an impulse.

The water is rough and crowded here in the Indie Ocean, but that’s the way I like it, and can’t wait for the New Year.

How about you and any lessons you learned in 2012?

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4 Comments so far »

  1. Pavarti K Tyler said,

    Wrote on December 16, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

    Steve, you are as always, an inspiration! Keep leading the way!


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Thanks, Pav, feeling’s mutual. Looking forward to reconnecting soon in the new year!


  2. Christina Carson (@CarsonCanada) said,

    Wrote on December 17, 2012 @ 12:57 am

    Thank you for that review. I am looking seriously at my rather non-existent marketing and your observations and experimentation have been most useful to contemplate.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    I’m happy to share, Christina. Marketing is tough, no doubt. Let’s all get energized for a new year with new opportunities.


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