I wrote about “the madhya” in my “tournal” (okay that was a typo but i like it and am going with it) my tour-journal – “the madhya” is a sanskrit term that directly translated means “the middle” but spelled with a capital m (do those even exist in sanskrit? – i need to call saraswati on this one), “the madhya” is more significant, and i promise relevant here in this post.because it’s the space between breaths – the place between moments, the sacred pause right after the incoming breath and right before the outgoing breath… it’s a place where time pauses and you can see the world of possibility right before…… the winds of inspiration, exhale to fill your sails and your prow starts to cut the waters, and momentum builds as you into a new… anything, a new everything and a real something!
I’ve written that I love the time between Christmas & new years – this madhya is where i annually reflect on the year that was – but this year was different. I spent this year’s Madhya catching my breath from a blazing signing and book launch tour that went right up until our Christmas week (snow!). Then there was Christmas cooking and family and eating to do, and then Mylove and i ran back south, making it home just in time to have our own romantic married couple Christmas (on new year’s eve) and then new year’s day.
And so, my pause and reflect (before turning my spyglass toward the new year that has just crept over the horizon) has had to wait until now… two weeks after January 1.
And it’s different somehow, more relaxed than years past and soooo much is clearer this go-round. So. What did i learn, you ask?
Yes, do tell us o- romantic warrior-ess...
Well, for those of you just now joining this blog, I apologize for thinking in an old-skool linear fashion, but it’s how I is… I’m compelled to reiterate my mission (and the mission of this blog, come to think of it) was: as a first time author and self-publisher,
I knew that time was in my favor – several writer’s blog encouraged us to make use of the “Christmas Buying Season” – citing that 41% of a books annual sales come in the 45 days right before Christmas Eve. So that was it – take advantage of this time and going for it.I was in luck – in fact, I almost jumped the gun – having started my book last May, I wrote it in two months (averaging five 14 hour days per week) then took another month for a proofing pass working with a divine woman named Eileen who worked as proof reader, cheerleader and sounding board. Since my subject matter was of a deeply personal and topical journey, she would be a good litmus test to whether my book was relevant and making sense of a serious matter.
After that pass, we would have another three more proofing passes including a three-day binge after we saw the first printed proof.At October this got me poised for a November release – just what the blogs suggested. So I waited – which gave me time to set-up a press release, hire a social media PR agency, print book marks and business cards and build a website. I realized that my goal – since this was my life I was writing about, was about to get very public, would be better served with a very personal PR approach.
Now, for those of you have no idea of what I’m talking about – there’s plenty of descriptions of this on other sections of this website, (I’m trying to keep the focus of this blog to be writer to writer) but suffice to say, my publishing of this book was about to change... well, everything in and about our life. So we had to buckle-up, and by we, I mean Mylove and me. I would be taking this leap of faith with her… and as media professionals we knew we needed to make as much noise as we could to get our lil’ baby on the radar of the book buying public. And that the only arrow we had in our quiver was honesty. So, you go with what you got, right?
So that became the updated version of our goal; Make some noise and hope that noise would be heard. We had the time, we knew the right people, we weren’t exactly sure what the best approach would or should be (to make said noise), so we tried everything we could. And as I take that promised breath, I can say with all confidence and satisfaction, that we did our best. And now it’s in God’s hands:Seven book signing events in four weeks – LA to SD to SJ, back to SD, then back to SJ, then back to LA then finishing in Berkeley… On a map it looks like someone failed geography )or math) and for a girl who made her mark as a showrunner in the adventure survival world… well let’s just say that John Hudson would be so disappointed in my orienteering strategy. I
n my defense, I was booking these locations when they were available (as opposed to where) since my window of opportunity required a bull’s-eye with every shot. We rolled with the where whenever its when would work… all that’s to say that if you are going to really make me say that I should’ve grouped the events by location, I couldn’t agree with you more. BUT:
1. In each location, the date or time is not always the best for the attendees in that area, having two events at vastly different times/days gave the local attendees a choice.
2. Many times we’re (at least I was) working a deal – who has a budget for marketing?
We’re independent publishers, not independently wealthy. We’re already at the mercy of the owner of a venue, so if you cut your chances by narrowing the times you’re asking for, then you could miss out on a good location altogether. My strategy was to get a yes from a venue and then let the schedule come together organically… which did nothing for my carbon footprint, but it did get us 7 very solid locations.You of course might be saying, but Scottie, what about bookstores and other traditional places for BOOK SIGNINGS? Oh, you are so precious, (they're so cute when they’re young, aren’t they – so full of ideals and good thoughts)
No. Book store signings are the bookstore’s way of looking good and relevant to ITS customers – they don’t care that you’re earnest and fresh and probably /might, eventually sell a lot of books. They are booking their space months in advance (so starting in October wasn’t going to cut it. And AFTER you sell a buncha books. THEN they’ll wanna talk to you… Besides… as indies, we have to ask ourselves – do bookstore signing really work? Well the big kids (Established Publishers) think so, or they wouldn’t do them. The Bookstores think so, or they wouldn’t treat their booking opportunities as the holy grail. But will they sell OUR books… well, for this round, I confess, I wasn’t in a position to rule out anything. So, our plan was to try EVERYTHING feasible – who knows what the right answer is? (to sell books) – iI we did, we could explain mood rings, pet rocks and “Jersey Shore,” before the armchair quarterbacks weigh-in.
So, in this case everything meant:
Going tried and true with a Library Book signing – (our lowest number of attendees but our best for marketing – my name was on the main street marquee for a month prior – try to buy a billboard in a major city for, oh, let’s see… FREE). This event gave me street cred (pun intended) in the author world.
We tried a formal presentation at one of the largest corporations and arguably one of the most influential arbiters of everyday life & culture and forward thinking in history, Google. I wish I could say this was my idea (I would be a genius) but I think it’s best that this was an invitation to participate in their on-going author’s series; talk about street cred! What a glorious gift! This event was so 2016, in that the presentation was streamed via Google’s in house network (100 watched it live from their Google workspaces) but even cooler than that, was this: the recording is an archive available to the more than 50 thousand (Fifty with three zeroes) Google employees and their huge “Gaygler” (LGBTQ Googler’s) workforce.
We did a charity event at a winery in the Saratoga wine country (also sponsored by the generous support of Google). We donated the silent auction proceedings and raffle earnings of donated food & wine baskets to the local LGBTQ YouthSpace organization. and they, in turn, used their San Jose County mailing list to spread the word about my book.
We held events in restaurants & bars (to lure attendees into a yummy environment and we even had a neighborhood Christmas cookie party.
All of this came to a rousing conclusion at an art gallery in the epicenter of forward thought and mindfulness – Berkeley! Even the credo of this art “collective” was about support – and they mean it: 50 attendees braved a torrential downpour for the public “Sneak preview” of the original painting I used to create the cover of the book and…… each time we announced an upcoming event we heard that our east coast fans “wished they could be there.” So to stay in the “try everything” mission – we live streamed this last event.
Okay so where am I at now? As the new year’s inhale is just beginning to move the bangs of my hair? Well, from a business standpoint were we successful? Which is one of the reasons, why you dear reader are reading this blog, yes?
Okay, first we need to define “success.” Sales is the first thing that comes to mind – how’d we do? At last count (December 28th to be exact) – we had sold 250 physical books, and about 75 in the kindle version. Not bad. I’m not even gonna qualify this because we’re used to talking or reading about a book’s sales in the “tens of thousands,” otherwise the media wouldn’t be telling us all about it. Right? Still – we have a lot of this house’s resources tied up in this venture – and at Amazon’s royalty structure, we ain’t getting rich.
But that wasn’t the mission – so, getting back to the question – were we successful?And the answer is… We seriously don’t know – AND we’re learning that this answer is almost irrelevant. A book does not have a shelf life. How many we sold during the last month and half is interesting, (elating, sometimes disappointing) BUT NOT A METRIC OF A BOOK’S SUCCESS, and therefore, not a measure of the mission’s success.
A book gets discovered again, and again, and again… Promotion and marketing are ever happening, ever changing things – never ending endeavors.We were successful with:
1. Spreading the word (almost everyone we know, knows we wrote a book).
2. We are being taken seriously – We have been booked for two speaking engagements in the spring already, and we have been asked for permission to use the book in a college writing course.
3. We have been asked to create a foundation to continue the work and dialogue started at our signing event Q&A sessions.
4. Mylove is starting her book.
5. We are inspired to go further with the book and all it has taught me personally as artist, author, and businesswoman
6. A books success is gauged by “how” it moves people, not by how many.
This isn’t a box score, a horse race or even a corporate bottom line – a book is a intense conversation between author and reader. A willing allowance by the reader to lease their own brain space on an author’s story.So… yes. We were successful.We didn’t get here without a village of loving and supportive souls who gave us everything to get launched. I have listed them in many instances on this site (tournal) as well as Facebook. But they cannot be thanked enough.It’s time for me to wrap this up as the breath of the inhale has finished filling its cosmic lungs and is poised to fill our sails… what had looked like a finite release, marketing and promotional chapter of the book’s life has, it turns out, been merely it’s introduction… so it’s time to turn the page…Tighten the foresail and make fast the mizzen! Happy 2016!
Blog Byline: Scottie Madden
Scottie currently lives with her love in a treehouse in the shadow of LA’s infamous “dirt Mullholland,” with their black dog Aria. When she’s not pretending that developing, writing and running television shows is anything other than a dream come true, (if they find out it isn’t hard at all, they’ll make us work!) she is cooking up some wild adventure in food for her friends and family.