Paid Book Reviews

Nancy J. Cohen

There’s a disturbing trend toward paid reviews. Indie authors may have a difficult time getting their books reviewed, so this is an option for them. But it’s an issue for any traditionally published author who wishes to get more critical reviews for their new release, aside from the places where their publisher has sent advance reading copies. Here are some sites I’ve heard of but am by no means recommending. Do the research on your own.

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Kirkus Indie Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/author-services/indie/ costs $425. You can submit 2 print copies or a digital submission.

Publishers Weekly: At a site called Book Life, you can register your title and decide what services you want, i.e. getting your book reviewed or help with marketing. http://booklife.com/ It appears to be free, but marketing services are available. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/diy/index.html

RT Book Reviews: This magazine offers a paid service for $425 through RT Review Source: http://www.rtreviewsource.com/

Net Galley: $399 for a six month title listing, or $599 for a listing along with a spot in their newsletter. https://netgalley.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/105722-do-you-work-with-individual-authors . Here your book might attract the attention of librarians, booksellers, reviewers and bloggers.

Edelweiss: If you’re traditionally published, ask if your book is listed at Edelweiss. This is where booksellers and librarians go to browse and place orders. Reviewers can request digital ARCs there too. Publishers pay for listings. The pricing for the catalog is based on the number of titles the publisher plans to feature in a year. An administrative fee is also charged annually for this service. In addition, there’s a digital review service that publishers can participate in either separately or along with the catalog listing. http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com/HomePage.aspx

Choosy Bookworm: http://authors.choosybookworm.com/book-reviews/ . For $99, they hint you might get 30 interested readers who will post reviews but no guarantees.

Nerdy Girls Book Reviews: http://nerdygirlbookreviews.com/authors/ Their basic package is $49 for 30-35 reader reviews.

Chanticleer Book Reviews cost $325: http://www.chantireviews.com/book-reviews/

Of course, you have many other options. Go on a blog tour where the hosts offer reviews. Do giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing and hope that the winners post their consumer reviews. Or buy inexpensive ads where a review might be part of the package. It’s not easy to attract the big guns but you can still get bloggers on your side.

How do you feel about paid reviews?

+7

12 Tips for a Book Blog Tour

Nancy J. Cohen

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to offer guest posts, author interviews, reviews, and/or book blasts for your new release. Then determine which hosts you’ll want to solicit. Aim for popular blogs that get a lot of hits and target your particular genre or thematic content. Approach them by asking if you can be a guest on their site. Make sure you study their content and note the length of their typical posts.

I’ve had bloggers approach me to contribute to my site. I’ve turned down some of them because it was clear their business had nothing to do with a writing career. On the other hand, I’ve had cozy mystery or paranormal romance authors query me politely about a guest spot. In those cases, if I feel they’ll have something to contribute to my readers, I say yes. My personal blog readers respond the most to writing craft and marketing articles, so I am selective about guests.

If you don’t care to DIY, you can hire a virtual tour company. However, you’ll still have to publicize the tour, show up on the date of the post, answer comments, and offer giveaways. Send an author photo and book cover image along with your post to the host.

Here are some blog tour companies:
Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com/tours.htm
Great Escapes Book Tours (Free for Cozy Mysteries) http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours
Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance) http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/
Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs
Partners in Crime (Crime, Mystery & Thrillers) http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

12 Tips for your Virtual Blog Tour:

  1. Slant your blog to the audience you hope to reach.
  2. Vary your guest posts with a mix of interviews, articles and reviews.
  3. Space the dates out so you don’t clog the loops with your announcements.
  4. Write your posts ahead of time.
  5. Include a short excerpt from your book with your article when possible.
  6. Add buy links to your book along a story blurb, plus links to your website, blog, FB page, and Twitter at the end of your post.
  7. Plan to be available to answer comments all day when your post goes live.
  8. List the tour as an Event on your various social media sites.
  9. Publish the blog tour dates and topics on your website.
  10. Consider offering a giveaway for commenters with each post.
  11. Have a grand prize using Rafflecopter or a random drawing from all commenters.
  12. Thank your host at the end of the day when your post appears.

For next time, write down blog topics as you write your WIP. This way, you’ll have a ready list of topics available when you need them (i.e. research, the writing process, what inspired you to write this story, world building, themes, etc.).

A blog tour can help you gain exposure to new readers who might not have known about your work. It takes a lot of advance planning, publicity, and commitment to make it a success. A blog tour is another tool to raise your readership and possibly garner some reviews. Schedule with the companies listed above or with your selected hosts as far in advance as you can. So decide upon a target date for your tour and go for it.

+15

Branding Through Cover Art

Nancy J. Cohen

Series branding can be just as important as author branding. What’s the difference? Author branding tells who you are and what kind of stories you write. For example, my works blend elements of murder, mystery, romance, and humor. Readers know they’re in for an entertaining yet suspenseful ride with a satisfying ending. I also write stories set in Florida, and this tropical flavor adds a layer of depth to my work.

Currently, I’m working to revise and reissue my earlier mystery titles. I hired a new cover designer and liked her idea of putting a collage together of photographic images. Similar to an art sheet from a publisher, I filled her in on what might make an appropriate scene and what elements it might include. I looked at the images she subsequently sent me and picked ones that seemed perfect.
All went well until she put them together in a cover mockup. My stomach sank. It didn’t work for me. The images were fine. So were the colors and title placement. But the whole didn’t speak to me as a cozy reader. Where was the humor element? The fun factor that would make me smile and want to buy this book, like these covers below?

ManicureMM    Shear Murder

And so I did a search on Amazon for “cozy mysteries.” The overwhelming majority of them were illustrations, not photographs. I’d given this designer a list of covers that appealed to me, but she didn’t seem to “get” the genre. My original cover artist, who’d had to bow out for personal reasons, had sent me a mockup of a cover that I’d really liked. Looking at them side-by-side, I had a bad feeling about the photo-based imagery. It wasn’t right for the genre.

Even if I rebranded myself by having all my reissued titles have similar designs, would these more realistic covers attract cozy readers? I didn’t think so. It certainly wouldn’t appeal to me. As a cozy reader, I look for a certain style. Normally, you can identify a cozy just by looking at the cover. And so I regretfully parted ways with designer number two. I approached my original artist to see if she was available again, and to my joy she said yes. We’re back to fixing the details on the original cover, and I feel much happier about the process.

What is the lesson learned? It’s not only about your author brand. It’s also about reader expectations. Readers can tell from the cover what type of story to expect. Go for a change if you want to broaden your readership. But if you want genre appeal, stick to the tried and true. Flowers never did it for me as a romance reader. I still like the old-fashioned clinch covers. Remember the old gothics, with a woman in a gown running away from a spooky mansion? You could tell at a glimpse what genre it represented. So yes, your cozy or thriller cover at a glance might resemble others in the genre, but that’s what readers want and expect.

Whichever route you go, plan for series continuity via the same font, author name and title location, series logo, design style and color statement (i.e. pastels or bold and bright).

Does reader expectation figure into your cover art or does this aspect not concern you?

0

Conference Overview #Ninc14

Nancy J. Cohen

Having just come from the Novelists, Inc. (Ninc) conference, my brain is fried with all the important information I learned. You can see photos on my Facebook Page under the Ninc Album and read my blogs of each workshop on my personal blog site.

As an overview, here are some of the important points I took away from this event.

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If you indie publish, offer your book at as many retailers as possible. These would include Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords and Google Play. Google is growing.

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Indie bookstores will survive the digital age, especially if they offer curating, personal service and community events.

Publishers may cry that they’re hurting but their profits are rising.

The global marketplace is not to be overlooked. There’s a huge market for English language books, plus the translation market is out there. Agents can still have a role with managing our subsidiary rights.

In the future, authors may sell directly to readers. Be prepared for new technologies and to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

The real threat is the decline of recreational reading. There’s too much competition from video games, TV and movies, and other entertainment pursuits. We need to increase kids’ passion for reading.

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Target your readers. Analyze your data. View your results and modify your business plan accordingly. Make sure you write the best book that you can and present the product in a professional manner.

Series sell better than standalones. Even if you aren’t writing a series, try to link your books with a common theme. Have cover art that ties them together.

Back material is important. Your e-book is a living document. Include links to your other titles and to your newsletter.

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In the photo: Donna Andrews, Carole Nelson Douglas and Nancy J. Cohen

The rest is on my personal blog. Coming next there is BookBub, ACX, legalities for authors and more. Be sure to scroll down to see my previous posts.

For more information on Novelists, Inc., go Here.

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Radio, TV and Podcasts

Nancy J. Cohen

I haven’t ventured far into the world of podcasts, radio interviews or TV appearances. As an author, I’d rather spend my time writing the next book. Nonetheless, I’ve done a few radio spots via telephone, but I don’t seek them out. Somehow the thought of a microphone or camera aimed my way with hundreds of invisible listeners makes me nervous.

A telephone interview can be fun if done with a dynamic host who knows all the right questions to keep things flowing. The interviews I’ve done to date have gone well in this respect. But I’m wondering how these shows serve the reader and if they’re worth the time spent.

Do you listen to these shows? Have you ever bought a book based on an author interview you’ve heard/seen on the air?

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Do any of you listen to podcasts? Do they influence you to follow an author’s social media sites? Buy his books? Or do you just tune in to learn what you can and then move on? Are podcasts essential to one’s media kit?

For those of you who’ve done these types of appearances, have they led to other valuable contacts? Have listeners responded? Besides the publicity, did you gain an upsurge in sales? Or did you merely enjoy the experience?

One of the speakers on “Radio for Writers” at a Florida Chapter MWA meeting recently stressed that the story isn’t about your book. It’s about you as a person and your journey as an author. Finding that unique angle or local slant is what would interest her as a reporter. See her tips for authors here: http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/radio-for-writers/

So what’s your take on this whole live media business? Is it worth pursuing or is your time as a writer better spent working on the next book?

Speaking of radio interviews, I’ll be appearing at http://www.authorsontheair.com on Friday, October 10 at 6:00 pm EDT. I hope you will tune in!

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Hard part #2

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

You’re writing a novel. Maybe you’ve even finished it. Congratulations. The hard part is over, right?

Wrong.

Now comes hard part #2: getting ready to sell it to a publisher. Even before you start your search, there are some basic concepts you should research first. They can prove to be costly detours on your way to finding an agent and editor if you don’t. Having the correct information by doing your homework can make for a smoother journey to publication.

First, you need to define your audience. It’s important that you know what type of person or group will go out of their way to find and pay to read your book. What are the characteristics of your target reader such as their age, gender, education, ethnic, etc. Is there a common theme, topic or category that ties them together? And even more important, what is the size of your target audience?

For instance, if your book is a paranormal romance set in the future in which the main characters are all teenagers, is there a group that buys lots of your type of book? If not, you might need to adjust the content to appeal to a broader audience. Change the age of the characters or shift the story to present day or another time period. If your research proves that a large number of readers buy books that fall into that category, making the adjustment now could save you a great deal of frustration later.

Next, you need to define your competition. Who are you going up against? If your book falls into a specialized sub-genre dominated by a few other writers, you might have a hard time convincing a publisher that the world needs one more writer in that niche.

The opposite problem may occur if your genre is a really broad one such as cozy mysteries or romance. You’re going to have to put a unique, special spin on your book to break it out of the pack. Or accept the fact that the genre and your competition is a wide river of writers, and you only hope to jump in and go with the current. Either way, make the decision now, not later.

The next issue to consider is what makes your book different from all the others in your genre. Do your homework to determine what the characteristics are of books that your potential audience loves. This can be done online in the dozens of Internet writer and reader forums. And you can also do the research by discussing the question with librarians and books sellers. Once you know the answers, improve on what your target audience loves and avoid what they don’t.

Just keep in mind that you can’t time the market, meaning that what’s really hot right now might has cooled off by the time your book hits the shelves. The moment you sign a publishing contract, you’re still as much as 12-18 months behind what’s on the new release table right now.

Another detail to consider in advance is deciding how you’ll market and promote your book. Sadly, this burden has fallen almost totally on the shoulders of the author and has virtually disappeared from the responsibilities of the publisher. Start forming an action plan including setting up a presence on the Internet in the form of a website and/or blog. Also, is there a way to tie in your theme to a particular industry? How can you promote directly to your audience? For instance, if your romance novel revolves around a sleuth who solves crimes while on tour as a golf pro, would it be advantageous to have a book promotion booth at golf industry tradeshows? If your protagonist is a computer nerd, should you be doing signings at electronics shows? How about setting up a signing at a Best Buy or CompUSA? Follow the obvious tie-ins to find your target audience.

Writing is hard work. So is determining your target audience and then promoting and marketing to them. Like any other manufacturing company, you are manufacturing a product. Doing your homework first will help avoid needless detours on the way to publication.

———————–

shield-cover-smallTHE SHIELD by Sholes & Moore is now available in print and e-book.

“THE SHIELD rocks on all cylinders.”
– James Rollins,New York Times bestselling author of THE EYE OF GOD.

0

Marketing Lessons from Mad Men

@jamesscottbell


On a recent episode of Mad Men, “The Monolith,” a huge IBM computer is being installed in the offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Don Draper, reduced to hack work as some sort of vindictive punishment, watches from his office.
A character named Lloyd is overseeing the installation. Taking a smoke break, Lloyd asks Don if advertising really works.
Don says, “It helps if you have a good product.”
Boom. All advertising wisdom and marketing strategy must ultimately be filtered through this one non-negotiable. You’ve gotta have a good product, a quality thing to sell.
This is as true for books as it is for Brylcreem. You can pour

all the time and money you want into getting the word out, but that only gets you an introduction. To succeed people have to like your product enough to become a repeat customer, this is why businesses that believe they have a good product to offer customers spend so much money on marketing campaigns from the likes of IRN, LLC and other marketing agencies.

So how do you know when you have a quality book? Here’s one way:
Find five beta readers, one of them a professional editor whom you pay. Do a little research and put in a little effort, and you’ll get a quality group together.
Four out of the five beta readers need to tell you they really liked your book. They don’t have to love it, though that would be the best result. But they have to more than like it. They have to really like it.
These are your scientific categories:
1. Loved it!
2. Really liked it!
3. Liked it.
4. Only okay.
5. Dreadful.
6. Don’t ever ask me to read anything of yours again.
7. I am getting a restraining order against you.
Your book needs to score a 1 or a 2 from 4 out of the 5 beta readers, and the professional editor must be one of the four.
Is that a high standard? You bet it is. Because if you want to be a name brand and not the generic, that’s where you need to aim.
The second thing Don says to Lloyd is, “What makes your product unique?” This is only slightly less important than the first lesson. You might be able to build a readership with well-written genre pieces that are, nevertheless, derivative. But to truly break out you need to give your writing something more.
What is that thing? It’s you. It’s your voice giving your story everything you’ve got. It’s your imagination churning to make your concept just a little fresher. It’s you going beyond the first thing that jumps into your mind. In every scene you are not settling for what’s obvious.
One exercise for coaxing out your voice is the page-long sentence. Every now and then in your WIP choose a single emotional moment. Then write one run-on sentence until it fills a page. Let your imagination go wild. Most of this you won’t use. But you will find, usually toward the middle or end of this exercise, some narrative gold. This is the stuff that sets you apart.
The third marketing lesson from Mad Men is this: don’t get drunk. Drunk Don Draper is not charming, artful or clever.
The fourth marketing lesson comes from a Don Draper pearl of wisdom: “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” In advertising, the client demands to be dazzled. They need to believe the agency is going to work magic for them.
It’s the same with readers. They’ve given you a chance, they’ve paid their money and they’ve got your book. Will they love it? Make them love it. Then make them love the next one, and the next. It’s a high bar, as I mentioned, but it’s the only one worth stretching for. True, you’re not always going to make it, but you’ll be a better writer for the effort.
The final marketing lesson is this: It helps if your author photo looks like Don Draper. Lacking that, remember that people do form an opinion of you based on your public persona. Don’t just fling yourself wildly into social media madness. Be professional, courteous and positive. Make people glad when they read something from you, be it book, blog, update or tweet. Take the long view. Your career is a marathon and intemperate remarks can become pebbles in your shoes.
Brylcreem had one of the most famous ad lines in history: “A little dab’ll do ya.” 
Try a little dab of advertising wisdom and see if it doesn’t help your writing career.

So do you think about your books as part art, part craft and part product? Don’t you think you should? 
+1

Marketing Lessons from Mad Men

@jamesscottbell


On a recent episode of Mad Men, “The Monolith,” a huge IBM computer is being installed in the offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners. Don Draper, reduced to hack work as some sort of vindictive punishment, watches from his office.
A character named Lloyd is overseeing the installation. Taking a smoke break, Lloyd asks Don if advertising really works.
Don says, “It helps if you have a good product.”
Boom. All advertising wisdom and marketing strategy must ultimately be filtered through this one non-negotiable. You’ve gotta have a good product, a quality thing to sell.
This is as true for books as it is for Brylcreem. You can pour

all the time and money you want into getting the word out, but that only gets you an introduction. To succeed people have to like your product enough to become a repeat customer.

So how do you know when you have a quality book? Here’s one way:
Find five beta readers, one of them a professional editor whom you pay. Do a little research and put in a little effort, and you’ll get a quality group together.
Four out of the five beta readers need to tell you they really liked your book. They don’t have to love it, though that would be the best result. But they have to more than like it. They have to really like it.
These are your scientific categories:
1. Loved it!
2. Really liked it!
3. Liked it.
4. Only okay.
5. Dreadful.
6. Don’t ever ask me to read anything of yours again.
7. I am getting a restraining order against you.
Your book needs to score a 1 or a 2 from 4 out of the 5 beta readers, and the professional editor must be one of the four.
Is that a high standard? You bet it is. Because if you want to be a name brand and not the generic, that’s where you need to aim.
The second thing Don says to Lloyd is, “What makes your product unique?” This is only slightly less important than the first lesson. You might be able to build a readership with well-written genre pieces that are, nevertheless, derivative. But to truly break out you need to give your writing something more.
What is that thing? It’s you. It’s your voice giving your story everything you’ve got. It’s your imagination churning to make your concept just a little fresher. It’s you going beyond the first thing that jumps into your mind. In every scene you are not settling for what’s obvious.
One exercise for coaxing out your voice is the page-long sentence. Every now and then in your WIP choose a single emotional moment. Then write one run-on sentence until it fills a page. Let your imagination go wild. Most of this you won’t use. But you will find, usually toward the middle or end of this exercise, some narrative gold. This is the stuff that sets you apart.
The third marketing lesson from Mad Men is this: don’t get drunk. Drunk Don Draper is not charming, artful or clever.
The fourth marketing lesson comes from a Don Draper pearl of wisdom: “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” In advertising, the client demands to be dazzled. They need to believe the agency is going to work magic for them.
It’s the same with readers. They’ve given you a chance, they’ve paid their money and they’ve got your book. Will they love it? Make them love it. Then make them love the next one, and the next. It’s a high bar, as I mentioned, but it’s the only one worth stretching for. True, you’re not always going to make it, but you’ll be a better writer for the effort.
The final marketing lesson is this: It helps if your author photo looks like Don Draper. Lacking that, remember that people do form an opinion of you based on your public persona. Don’t just fling yourself wildly into social media madness. Be professional, courteous and positive. Make people glad when they read something from you, be it book, blog, update or tweet. Take the long view. Your career is a marathon and intemperate remarks can become pebbles in your shoes.
Brylcreem had one of the most famous ad lines in history: “A little dab’ll do ya.” 
Try a little dab of advertising wisdom and see if it doesn’t help your writing career.

So do you think about your books as part art, part craft and part product? Don’t you think you should? 
0

Why Marketing Is Like Motherhood

@jamesscottbell


This past Mother’s Day I was reflecting upon this most honorable role and, suffused as I am with the writing life, my brain related the whole thing to marketing.
My lovely daughter-in-law is on the verge of bringing another Bell into the world. I find myself thinking back to my own first born. When Mrs. B and I were awaiting the appearance of our son, we set about to become the best parents ever. This is the pull of nature. It is as old as civilization, as robust as ocean tides.
Law student that I was at the time, I got into studying books. Today, there is a virtual mountain—nay, a mountain range of Himalayan proportions—of printed and digital advice on the art of parenting. It can seem as daunting as a view of Everest as you stare up into the clouds with only a rucksack and a walking stick.
So I remember well the day my wife and I took up the classic Baby and Child Care by Dr. Spock. Though some of it was controversial at the time (and perhaps remains so), there was a famous axiom that begins the book, one that has comforted many an anxious parent facing the world’s toughest job:
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
It was a call to not stress about what every “expert” has to say, so much of it conflicting. In such cases you have a gut instinct that is, if motivated by love and tempered by wisdom, highly reliable.
And that’s the marketing lesson I want to mention today. There is a flood of material out there on what you must do to bring a book to the public, with so many sources asking how can you improve public relations? There are countless options, so many more than the “old days” of bookstore signings, talks at your local library, and sitting despondently next to Mary Higgins Clark at a conference.
The explosion of digital options—everything from paid ads to social media madness—can make choosing what to do seem as daunting as trying to solve the Hodge Conjecture with a hangover.
Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
First of all, use common sense. Don’t go into hock to market your book. The single biggest determinant of writing success is….wait for it….the writing itself. You know this. You know that you have to concentrate most on writing good stuff, getting better at it and keeping it coming, if you want a long-term career.
Second, we are starting to see that a few marketing methods are better than others. Paid placement with BookBub, for example, is always good. Other email services, like BookGorilla and eBookSoda, will make you new readers. And that’s what you need to build an email list of fans. No matter how small it might be, it’s always good to be able to communicate with people who’ve bought from you before and have shown a willingness to do so again.
As for social media, it’s easy to get the ROI (return on investment) completely bollixed. If you spend the majority of your Twitter or Facebook time begging people to buy your books, you’ve done more harm than good. If your spend more time socializing than you do producing, your calculus is all mixed up.
Here’s a suggestion: Your time on social media ought to be one-tenth the time you spend writing on an average day. If you write for two hours, you get twelve minutes on social media.
There, I said it.
I think this is all stuff you really do know, even though you might have lost that native wisdom in the clamor of Do this! and Do that!
My suggestion is to pick up the book marketing analogue of Dr. Spock: Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book. Use it as a reference, not to try to do every single thing in it at once, but to consider the options and choose wisely.
Mothers bring babies into the world. Writers bring books. Love what you write, nurture your books, care enough about them to discipline them when they need it (that’s called editing) and then let them leave the nest.
And as they fly to market, don’t stress. Your love goes a long way. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you miss doing one thing, you’ve ruined your book’s chances forever. (You know, like if you don’t get your child into that expensive pre-school he will never get into Harvard. His life is ruined, and he’s only three!)
Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
Keep writing the best stuff you can, choose a few marketing things to do, and it will all pretty much work out as it should. Adding stress doesn’t help a bit. To cut down on the stress of your website costs, take a look at the best free web hosting providers.

So do you get anxious about marketing? Do you realize that’s not doing you any good?
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Marketing Lessons My Grandfather Taught Me

@jamesscottbell


My grandfather, Arthur Scott Bell, was born in 1890. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was an outstanding high school athlete. 
He won an athletic scholarship to DePauw University, later transferring to the University of Michigan to play football. He joined the Army in World War I, during which time he met my grandmother, Dorothy Fox. One of the treasure troves I have is the box of love letters he wrote to her from Fort Sheridan, Illinois. My grandmother kept them all, bound with ribbons. When my father was little he’d hear his father call his mother Dot, and he combined that with Mama, so ever after my grandmother was known as Mama Dot. Later on, my dad started calling his father Padre.
And that’s how all his grandkids knew him.
One of Padre’s favorite phrases was, “Go your best.” He said that to me a number of times—when I was off to a new school year, or starting Little League. 
During the Great Depression, Padre fed his family as a field salesman for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He was a stellar salesman, rising to become one of the top ten in the entire company.
From what Padre and my dad told me about those days, I gather five lessons that apply to writers (and anyone else) trying to peddle their wares.
1. He believed in his product
Padre loved the Britannica. I have a full set from 1947, passed down to me. [NOTE: if you have one, don’t get rid of it. The entries in these volumes are often better and more authoritative than anything you can find today.]
Do you believe in your product? Are you convinced that what you’re writing is the best you can make it? Or are you going out there with something less than that––and still expecting good sales?
2. He believed in self improvement  
Padre was a life-long learner. On my shelf I have Padre’s dictionary, the Webster’s New Collegiate, 2d Edition. In the front of the dictionary, on one of the blank pages, Padre had written himself a note on a new word: psycho-cybernetics. That would place this note around 1960, when the book by Maxwell Maltz first came out. Padre was 70 years old then, but still interested in growing his vocabulary.
He was of the Dale Carnegie school of self-improvement. Another treasure I own is the hardcover copy of How to Win Friends and Influence Peoplethat Padre and Mama Dot gave my dad upon his graduation from Hollywood High School. They each inscribed it. Padre wrote:
To have a friend is to be a friend. I am sure you are getting to be an expert at it. Don’t let down!!
And from Mama Dot:
You can do more than strike while the iron is hot. You can make the iron hot by striking.
Are you growing as a writer? Are you spending some part of your week in purposeful study of the craft? Padre and Mama Dot’s generation believed anyone could succeed if they studied and worked hard enough.
3. He concentrated on the best prospects
Padre had a definite strategy when he pulled into a new town. He looked up all the lawyers and doctors. These would be the people most likely to have some disposable income during the Depression. Thus, they would be the most likely to buy.
Simple enough. But when it comes to marketing, how many writers out there are trying to cast a wide net in the hope of snagging some random fish? The difference between 100,000 robo-gathered followers, and 10,000 quality followers, is huge. Don’t try to be all things to all people, but be a value add-on for those who are most likely to want to sample your work. 
4. He made people feel good
My grandfather was a natural storyteller. He had a deep, resonant voice. I can hear it now. And when he started spinning a tale you sat mesmerized.
I remember one story he told about a football player at Michigan named Molbach. The fellows called him “Molly.” He was a fullback, a powerhouse runner who just would not be stopped in short yardage situations. Padre told about one tough game where Molly put his head down and ran so hard he kept going over the sideline and ran right into a horse––and knocked the horse down!
Padre’s storytelling made you feel good. Got you into the moment. The legend in the family was that Padre had a story for every occasion.
Does your marketing make people feel good? If someone sees you’re tweeting or Facebooking, will they generally be pleased at what you’ve posted? Or do you depend on a barrage of value-less “buy my book” type messages?
Work at making your social media a pleasure for others to read. “To have a friend is to be a friend.”
5. He could laugh at life
Padre was a man “at home in his own skin.” He’d been through plenty in his life, the Depression not least among them. But he always came out all right in the end.
He had the greatest laugh in the world. It came from deep in his chest and rumbled out in joyous reverberation.
You need to be able to laugh and not stress over outcomes and expectations. If you follow Padre’s lessons, you’ll work hard on yourself and your writing. You’ll be smart about marketing and refuse to let setbacks stop you. You simply won’t worry about the things that are outside your control.
Manage your expectations, don’t let them rule you. Concentrate on what you can do, not what is out of your  hands.
Keep working.
Keep writing.

Go your best.

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