Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Thank God, I Can't Complain"

"Besides, Who Would Listen?"

It's a line used by older Jewish men that happens to be very appropriate for my topic tonight, which is whining about how much work I have to do -- or rather, the steps involved in pre-promotion of a book.

When I started this blog, I did it because I had learned in a conference that the first and most important thing that someone who intends to self-publish a book needs to do is start a blog, start a following, develop an audience. So tonight I get to have an audience for my moaning about how much work I have to do while also providing what I hope is some useful and interesting information.

When people asked me if I had a website for the book, I said "sure," and provided the blog address. I know that they are different, but I thought one could substitute for the other. The website (which I have now committed to creating) will be more of a static site; most of the information will remain the same, unless there is 'news,' whereas the blog needs to updated with some regularity. (And I apologize to anyone who finds my entries too 'wordy;' you're absolutely right -- they are -- but you should see my text messages).

So I'm about to create a website. I got my domain name: theaccidentalanarchist.com (don't forget to use "the" when you search for it so as not to get confused with a 10 year-old book with a way too similar title "An" Accidental Anarchist). That was step 1. Step 2 is to lay out all my pages, or what those pages will be when I have all the content. (And as you can tell from my logorrhea (per Merriam-Webster: "excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness," aka 'diarrhea of the mouth') coming up with content shouldn't be too hard. In hearing talk about website content at the recent conference I attended, it seems that I need an online press kit, which should contain multimedia content. I was already going to post the 2-minute (2:10 if we're being picky) presentation that I gave at the Jewish Book Council, and I've basically conceded that I will have to create a book trailer (about which, more later). And I can write all the publicity materials needed; that's the benefit of having done it for some many other people for many years.

Beyond the home page, which I imagine will have links to where you can buy or download the book (in October), there will be some information about me (either in large type or with a lot of graphics since there isn't a lot I need to say), stuff about my grandfather (almost everything I know about him is in the book -- in fact, that's the only way I know him,although my mother has started recording some of her memories of him; maybe some of that content will go up there. A page about my father, who worked on the book before me,and there's a lot more to say about him; loads of links online, most particularly because he had worked on the original Star Trek, and those fans are loyal. At some point, when I have some speaking engagements lined up, like at the Jewish Book Fairs (I hope many of them will invite me; otherwise, I may offer to pay my own transportation to get to certain cities; I've been wanting to see a friend in Birmingham, AL, for a long time, anyway, and Birmingham has a reasonably sized Jewish community: Jim, if you're reading this, call your local Jewish Community Center (JCC), which probably organizes it, and ask them to invite me as a speaker; in fact, everyone who's reading this -- please contact your local JCC and ask to speak to the Jewish Book Fair coordinator and do the same. If Birmingham, AL can have a Jewish Book Fair, your community probably does, too). I'm in Miami several times a year, anyway, to visit my number one son, and will be in NY much more often where I can visit my number two son. There's someone I'd like to meet in Knoxville, TN, as well as people I want to see again in New Haven and Boston. And might as well connect with a friend in St. Paul, MN, and as long as these events take place in the late fall, it's a nice time of year to visit Arizona.

And I don't know if it's appropriate use of a website, but I'd love to devote a page to my boys -- posting one son's sports writing and event management news, and the other's CD releases and tour dates. Did I mention that I was going to ask the younger one to write the score for my book trailer? The older one designed the logo for my publishing company. (And I can get really loquacious when I talk about how proud I am of these boys).

But the point of this entry was that I wanted to complain about how much I've had to do. So there's the planning of the website, which, as I've described it above, doesn't sound too hard (since someone else will be doing the coding and building in the analytics); creating a book trailer, which, now that I have a killer concept, ought to be fun; and writing the content for each of the pages, which I can draw from so many other things I've written in or about the book. There's also an essay I want to write about the process of writing, editing, completing and publishing the diaries that I'm hoping to publish in something with a wide circulation -- just in time for the book's release. I still need blurbs through the back cover; I have one committed, and someone else in mind. I'm sending out the advanced review copies (ARCs, in book publishing parlance) to various publications. I've read that you need to send out 20 copies; I think I've sent out about 8 so far; I take my time in evaluating the publications to which I send them, and craft a 'hook' unique to the particular editor or publication that I hope will get them to pick my book from among the dozens or more vying for each slot in a review publication. At least one thing I have working in my favor -- I can give them the 4 month lead-time that the publications prefer. Plus I need to hit ones representing difference niches: Biography readers, people interested in history, Jewish readers, people who enjoy humor, libraries, and academics who might consider the book for their curriculum in military history, Russian history, Asian history, Jewish history, etc. -- lots of niches, some of which I won't even begin to market to until 2011.

My point to night is that there is a lot to do in marketing a book. I think of it like a Presidential election. There may be national advertising (well, not for me) but basically a candidate has to earn each vote one at a time.

Thanks for being the audience for tonight's rant. If I don't quit now,I won't be able to get up in a few hours and start the process all over again.