Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Should I...?

author Donald Levin

I stand or sit there for a few hours, an author friend on each side of me (pictured above, mystery writer Don Levin, whose books you should try).

They sell a few. I have sold nothing. The truth is, no one is selling very much.

I'm tormented by questions. Should I be trying harder to lose weight so I'd look better? Should I not care about losing weight so I'd be mainstream plump like so many others? Should I have gone to an event closer to home? Should I be writing my technothriller faster? Should I have focused on the children's picture book this year instead of North Country Quest? Should my table be arranged differently?

The event is beautifully organized, but somehow an audience has failed to materialize. We are "networking;" we are enjoying a really nice box lunch; we are buying a few books from each other. But we are not selling books to new readers.

Diana Plopa, the organizer, has segments where authors who requested a time slot can read from their books. The pieces will be put together into a program for Cable Network TV (Detroit market). So that is good!

author Joan H. Young reading from The Bigg Boss

I discussed marketing strategies with Don on one side and Bob on the other. We are all struggling to figure out what works.

Does it matter if I sit or stand--one might look disengaged while the other might look too aggressive? Should I have dressed nicer? Should I have dressed more casually? Should I have spent more hours writing so I'd have a new book in the Anastasia Raven series.

Well, events sometimes work and sometimes they don't. With two hours to go and still no book sold, it became a game. Can I make it to the end without selling a single book? But almost at closing I did sell one. So I lost the game, but I'll take it.

One has to accept that there are going to be days that are financial losses, but I can't continue to suffer them so regularly. Here's hoping the next one will be a big seller!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pentwater Arts and Crafts Fair

This, right here, is the future of what I do.

small girl reading a book

Yesterday and today I was at the Pentwater (MI) Arts and Crafts Fair. The weather was marginal yesterday and downright icky today. Nevertheless, I did OK on sales. More on that later.

On Saturday, three of us shared the booth. We've done this before, and we work well together. Jean owns the sandwich board sign and it is great- it lets people know what we are about.

authors selling books

There was live music by Awesome Distraction of Manistee. They were quite good. Not so loud they blow out your brains, but our booth was very close to the stage, so it made it really difficult to talk to people. This is one of my pet peeves, and yet, when the music was playing people were definitely more upbeat and engaged. Don't know quite how to solve that conundrum. I'm sure it wasn't too loud for those a little farther away.

two guys with guitars

At one point they warned us that the Coast Guard helicopter was going to be flying low overhead as part of a demonstration so people wouldn't be alarmed.

Coast Guard helicopter

Today, it was just Jean and me, well.. and Bitzi, who helped bring people to our table.

woman with purple hair holding a dog

I met two new (to me) authors, so that was great.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I need to do better than I did this weekend. Alternatively, I can do more than two shows a month, which will result in less writing time, and/or less volunteer time. It will definitely make me crabbier.

I can keep this up at this level for a while, but eventually there has to be an upturn in sales, or I will need to add another source of income.

I can live frugally, but I do need to have a car and a place to live and food, and a few minimum other things. I get tired of having to forego a lot of activities because I can't afford the gas or whatever. I know, I do go to a number of things, but I have to pick and choose carefully, often camp or sleep in my car, take my own food, etc, etc. I'm not whining, I'm just being honest. After a lifetime of having pretty much nothing, I'm used to it, but I'm not going to let the finances get to the point where I can't afford to do anything at all other than eat and drive.

We shall see. No major decisions until after this year. I'm trying to move from small potatoes to medium potatoes. Maybe that's just a slow transition.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Celebrate Scottville Event

I haven't done much posting of author events on this blog, which is where I really should be doing it instead of on My Quality Day. Maybe I'll try to do better.

Anyway, today was a fun little opportunity. Never discount fun little chances to sell books. This was a very local event celebrating some new businesses in Scottville, the town where I live. Space was free, lots of businesses held drawings for prizes, bounce house and activities for kids. All the things that make small towns fun.

The Cats and Jammers band played live music, which was really good- old time and folk music with a really upbeat sound, but not so loud that you couldn't hear yourself think or talk to people who might want to buy books.

I sort of stumbled into the opportunity. There is a new local author, Sandi Malburg. She's written a book of local history, "Lost Towns of Mason County." She was offered a chance to sell her brand new book, and then it sort of expanded to include other local authors, and I jumped on it.

I sold several books, had another internet TV interview, may have a chance for a local radio interview, and may have gotten my Dubois Files series in the elementary school library. Local people who know you are always going to be great supporters... assuming you put out quality books.

And now... it's been a busy day. I'm going to take Sandi's book and go get comfortable.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Honored and Amazed, MOWA awards

One should always enter as many categories as possible for awards, particularly if it doesn't cost anything to enter. This year, for the Michigan Outdoor Writer's Association, I placed entries in three categories. Now, I have to be honest, since I won one award last year, I was thinking I might get one again this year, but I never expected what did happen.

The biggest surprise was the one pictured above, which is for photography. Let me explain that the photos submitted had to have appeared in a publication for which you were paid. That limits my selection a lot. In fact, it eliminated all of my really good photos. But, I did enter two pictures. This one took 3rd place. It's Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills, Ohio.

So, while I was still in shock from that one, I also received 3rd place in the category I thought most likely to receive something. This is the same as last year, a story about a non-consumptive activity (eg, not hunting or fishing). My entry was the story of my Midland to Mackinac hike last fall.

And then, I couldn't believe I heard my name again, for 3rd place in best overall column. I feel as if this is quite a big deal, because a lot of the writers do regular columns, and I'm pretty sure there was some stiff competition.

So, I'm a bit flabbergasted. And, I made a few more friends this year, so little by little I'm feeling as if I might fit in.

They explained that they have people from out of state judge these, some people with national media connections, so they are making every effort to be sure the judges don't know who wrote the entries. We have to redact anything that would clue someone in as to who wrote the articles.

2018 MOWA award

Monday, May 27, 2019

How to Painlessly Hug an Author - Tip #3

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Sometimes you'd like to give an author friend a pat on the back, but writing a review of a book just seems too difficult. There are many ways to help writers that don't take more than a few seconds of time.

Today's tip: rate one or more of their books on any author site. Often, you can do this without writing a review. If more is requested, you could simply say "great," or "average," or made me feel sad," etc. You can do this on Amazon, Smashwords, Bookbub, AuthorDB, Hometown Reads, Goodreads, and probably other sites.

If you want to help me, there are some links here





I'll be adding an occasional tip to this series.

How to Painlessly Hug an Author- Tip #2

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How to Painlessly Hug an Author - Tip #2

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Sometimes you'd like to give an author friend a pat on the back, but writing a review of a book just seems too difficult. There are many ways to help writers that don't take more than a few seconds of time.

Today's tip: follow an author on any of the social media channels they use. This might include Amazon, Smashwords, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub, AuthorDB, Hometown Reads, Goodreads, etc. If you like a particular author, you probably know where they hang out.

If you want to help me, Amazon and Smashwords links here





I'll be adding an occasional tip to this series.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Writing is More than Words

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The writing life is more than just putting words on paper. Particularly if you are an indie author. If you are independent, you actually are running a small business.

Here are some of the pieces of what I've been doing for the last few days.

1. I received a notice from the State of Michigan that I hadn't paid my 2015 sales tax and that I owed mega bucks. Went to my tax person, who is out of town, but I made an appointment. Another person there looked at the numbers and my paperwork and agreed that this wasn't even my account. So this issue is going to take a while to sort out.

2. I tried to continue transferring the tapes I made while hiking to digital before they get too old and dried out. This is where I left off in April of 2018, noted in the post linked below. However:
      A. This computer has no external microphone jack
           i. I looked up how to get around that and the answer appeared to be a USB mic jack
           ii. Went to my computer person to verify this. He said yes, he had one, downloaded all the drivers for me and made sure it was working. Problem solved with a small investment
      B. I had to sort the tapes which were all in a box and labeled, but needed to get them in order.
      C. I had to download audacity again since the computer crash
           i. It needed one more driver that doesn't come with it.
           ii. I had to figure out how to use it again.
      D. I'm now actually transferring tapes to digital!
           i. This needs to happen to keep the audio recordings from degrading
           ii. I need to have several of the next ones on my computer before I go east, so I can write while I'm on the road.

3. I have to get all my 2018 records for taxes ready before I leave on my trip east, because the tax appointment is almost immediately after I get home.

4. I am trying to get my head back around where I was with North Country Quest. Thought I might have lost part of a chapter, but I think I hadn't written anything down yet, so I just need to recover what I was thinking about.

Perhaps some words will get typed today.

See What Does an Author Do All Day