What To Give The Author Who Has Everything

Well, that’s a ridiculous headline.

There is not one author who has everything. Except maybe J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. They might. I don’t know. Probably. Everyone else? Nah. But still, I thought the title had a nice ring. I’m easy.

But if you think about all the people in your life who mean something to you, people you occasionally gift with this or that, there probably are a few writers in the bunch. And when you gift those writers, you want those gifts to be items they really want, really like, really need, right? Even in those exceedingly rare cases where they appear to have everything (which, trust me… they don’t), you want to be purposeful in your generosity to your writer pals. At least that’s the way it is for me.

And, in this particular case, we are talking about me. But not me as the gifter, me as the giftee; a writer who definitely doesn’t have everything, and would like more of what I really need (which we’ll get into in a minute).

A mentor of mine once told me, “People think you don’t need anything.” This was meant as a nod to my particular brand of independence and self-confidence, while also asserting that I was terrible at articulating what I needed, and, therefore needed to learn how to ask for what I needed since no one, apparently, presumed I did. Need anything. Which is so odd. But, OK, lesson learned.

So, in that spirit, I offer pertinent suggestions related to my upcoming book launch, an “author’s gift registry,” of sorts, to assist you in knowing what I need and would be delighted by as you join me in celebrating that event. Much like bringing flowers to an actress on opening night, except, in this case, the “flowers” are simple actions you can take that will benefit the launch in all the best possible ways, and, handily, is a list that can also be applied to any writer you’d like to honor with similarly perfect gifts.

Author’s Gift Registry for The Alchemy of Noise Launch:

1. SOCIAL MEDIA: I would be delighted if you’d share any news, thoughts, opinions you have about the book via your social media… any of the medias will do (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Share widely and freely, make jokes, coin phrases; whatever amuses you, and, if so inclined, use the hashtag #TheAlchemyofNoise whenever posting. I think we all know by now how effective social media can be in stirring word-of-mouth, and this book and I will definitely appreciate any words coming from yours. Mouth, that is.

2. PRE-ORDER THE BOOK: It turns out this is a BIG deal for everyone involved in the marketing and distribution of a new book. Pre-orders, and sales during the first few days post-launch, are VERY important for a new book (like the opening weekend of a movie). So please do me the favor of clicking right HERE to pre-order your print or e-book copy, and, if you already have, THANK YOU!

3. REVIEWS: This is another big one. Reader reviews are crazy/important in this media focused world, and every single one—no matter how long or how many stars—helps. Now I must be honest: I get squeamish asking people to write reviews for me; it feels a little bit like, “Please applaud for me, will you?” But it’s really not that. It’s a far more professional exchange, and I realized that, oddly, when I got my car windows tinted. Let me explain:

After the job was done, the guy, who’d done a great job, asked, “Hey, would you do me a favor and leave a review at Yelp for us?” I noticed I had absolutely no back off on him asking; it felt like a normal 21st century transaction where we all know posting reviews can help a business, product, book; whatever we might be reviewing. I was happy to do it and I did. I wrote a swell review about my tinted windows, all the while thinking, “If Window-Tint Man is comfortable asking, why aren’t I?”

That answer would require some deeper conversation than we need to get into right here and now, but suffice it to say I am putting aside my squeamishness to flat-out ask:

After you’ve read The Alchemy of Noise, I’d be so grateful if you’d post a review/rating of the book on the Amazon page. Just go to the book’s page, right HERE, scroll down toward the bottom of the page, click the “Write a Customer Review” button, and convey your thoughts. They don’t have to be long; candor is appreciated, and you do not have to gush (though feel free if honestly so moved 🙂 ). Know that reviews really do help potential readers decide whether or not to buy a book… as they help marketers get a sense of how your book is being received.

There. I said it. I thank you in advance.

4. GOODREADS: If you are a member of this very popular book site, I’d love if you’d add The Alchemy of Noise to your “shelf.” Just go HERE to the book’s page, then click the green button under the book thumbnail to choose your shelf. After you’ve read it, you can cut & paste the review you wrote for Amazon and copy it right there on that same Goodreads page (look, I asked again!) And feel free to “follow” and “friend,” as we do on these sites.

OH, and until March 26th there’s a Goodreads Giveaway for the book; just scroll down the page and click to take a shot at winning 1 of 10 free books being given away.

5. BOOKBUB: Similar to Goodreads, BookBub is an enormous book site that engages with both readers and authors across a deep and eclectic platform. Many of you possibly subscribe to their “deal emails,” alerting you of the slate of books on sale any given day. It’s a big site, with lots of everything, and another one where “following” my page, and copying that Amazon review over would be incredibly beneficial. Just click HERE to find me there.

6. READING EVENTS: If you’re in one of the cities where bookstores will be hosting events for my launch (in April/May)… please COME! I’d love to see you and it should be great fun. And please be prepared to purchase the book at the store so the owners think I’m one of those cools authors whose fans are attuned to supporting independent bookstores. 🙂 Check the itinerary below and/or the Facebook Event Pages for each event.

6. WEBSITE: Don’t forget to keep an eye on my website for upcoming events www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

7. MY SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES: … they’re all below… you know what to do:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorrainedevonwilke
Facebook Writer’s page: www.facebook.com/lorrainedevonwilke.fans/
Twitter: twitter.com/LorraineDWilke
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lorrainedevonwilke/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lorrainedwilke/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorrainedevonwilke/
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/-/e/B00K2ZOLSA
Rock+Paper+Music blog: www.rockpapermusic.com

And that’s it; that’s the “registry,” comprehensive, complete, and, at least to this writer, incredibly valuable. I thank you in advance for your generosity, and know that you’ll always have my enthusiasm in returning the favor in kind.

Happy reading, Circle!

Gift photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, has an April 2019 pub date, with pre-orders currently available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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Horn-Blowing and Other Necessary Evils of The DIY World

horn blowing

“But enough about me, let’s talk about you… what do YOU think of me?”
— 
Beaches, 1988

I was originally going to title this post: “I Don’t Want To Talk About My Books Anymore!” but figured it might come off as a little whiny. And really, it’s not that I don’t like talking about my books—I LOVE talking about my books—it’s that I get twitchy when I’m the only one doing the talking, flashes of those obnoxious parents endlessly jabbering about their “really cute kids” while everyone smiles tightly and averts their eyes (cannot be one of those!). I’d prefer to talk about my books because other people asked about them; someone else wanted to discuss plot and character, or how to order a dozen or two copies. I’d rather respond to a whole other person tooting that horn than pull out the trumpet myself.

It’s hard out there for a book-pimp.

See, all this self-promotion started when the entire world went DIY some years back, with everyone doing anything and everything for themselves. The trend was seen largely as a positive thing: a democratizing, equalizing, barrier-breaking thing for all those independent people out there with a dream. Writers could put up their own articles, artists and photographers could set up their own blogs to sell their art; businesses and private practitioners could hang shingles in the form of interactive websites, and authors, they self-published. It’s gotten so democratically DIY, I half expect women to start delivering their own babies with headphones and an online tutorial!

And it has been a boon in many ways. The DIY market has allowed countless creators of every industry and medium to move forward without the limitations of picky gatekeepers, elitist corporations, prohibitive budgets, and miserly invitation lists. But where it’s proven challenging is in the wrangling (i.e., affording) of ancillary team-members who typically help creators move, sell, and promote their products. The horn-tooters, trumpet blowers, PR flacks, publicity people. And while there is not one “self-anything” who doesn’t need those people doing those jobs, a big fat contingent can’t afford them.

A full-time publicist for any business typically costs thousands of dollars a month, sometimes many thousands. A big-ticket item. But smaller marketing and promotional campaigns can also run into many hundreds of dollars and must be cyclically and consistently rerun to be effective. Even artists lucky enough to be affiliated with “umbrella” companies that provide some marketing and promotional support will find they’re obligated to implement those efforts on their own time and their own dollar. In other words, no matter where you fall on the “self” spectrum, you’re pulling that horn out of the closet.

And doing my own trumpet-blowing has always made me a little queasy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of eleven children where one had to leap up and down and wave their arms to get any kind of non-generic, “oh, I see you” attention, but I find the “leaping” necessary to self-promotion (particularly in the glutted indie book market) to be oddly demeaning. Instead of your work drawing people to you while you stand there being quietly brilliant, you’re obligated to chase after them like a panting schoolgirl trying to snag the interest of the most popular guy (switch genders as applicable). Beyond that, it sometimes feels too self-focused, too attention-grabbing, too… I dunno… creatively narcissistic. I’d prefer that the work itself, or someone with excellent trumpet skills, speak for me.

But there’s no choice. As indie artists, we not only have to do the job, we have to be indefatigable about finding new and clever ways to get it done. There are thousands of businesses and websites out there tooting their horns in hopes we’ll hire them to help toot ours (sort of a DIY Circle of Life), but the costs can run anywhere from cheap (various “tweet your book” sites, featured pages, book-of-the days sorts of things) to downright expensive (Book Bub, Foreward and Kirkus reviews, online ads), and some, but very few, are free. Often you pay loads of money to set up sales in which you give your books away for free or very cheaply (always an odd oxymoron), and given the “effective marketing = persistent marketing” equation, even the most economical campaigns will add up.

So where do indie creators with limited budgets go? To social media, of course! It’s not only what’s left to them once they’ve tapped-out their budgets, it’s the information highway everyone uses, regardless of product. Which means social media is regularly BOMBARDED with streaming posts from all sorts of people touting the “latest with my fill in the blank (book, band, record, art, store, tour, company, etc.),” and, in some cases, that’s all they ever post. About their book. Their record. Their tour. Their whatever.

We get no other insight from them, no other angle on their personality or point of view; they don’t connect to or comment on other people’s posts, and far too often, their only contribution to the greater conversation is about that _________ they’ve created. Which makes their social interaction akin to turning a coffee shop into a billboard.

So my remedy, since we’ve got to do this horn-blowing thing whether we want to or not, is this: Get involved with other people, share about more than your own creation; “like” posts other people put up, jump in on a thread or two. Be human. Be interested. Be involved. So when you do talk about your whatever, we’re interested because we’re interested in you… and you’ve shown some interest in us. It’s an all-around happy social media thing, as it should be.

And until a scenario involving an enthusiastic horn blower comes my way, know I’ll be doing it for myself on social media too. Graciously, I hope. Forgive me if I ever seem redundant or one-note; if I ask too many times for you to reiterate your wonderful email response in a review at Amazon, or push too hard to get you out to a reading. I’m obligated to honor my work by wearing this hat, blowing this horn, but know I’m trying to be nuanced and selective about the notes. This thing is tricky, but I’ve heard practice makes perfect!

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

About Those Book Reviews…

Woman praying for… excellent book sales? Lotsa “likes”? Good reviews?

Self-promotion. Ugh.

To the creative soul awash in inspiration, artfulness, and flights of fancy, there is nothing more antithetical to the Muse than blowing one’s own damn horn. “Shameless self-promotion,” as a friend of mine puts it, which comes replete with discomfort and the awkwardness of braggadocio. But still… it seems we must.

Back in the day – or if you have the sort of career in which these characters appear – publicists, marketing and promotion specialists, managers, agents, handlers, etc., did the heavy lifting when it came to the strutting of stuff. The artist was protected from this crass commercial cacophony by virtue of having a team, a cadre, a crowd of enthusiasts who knew just what to say, when and to whom, to get that artist a front cover, a high-profile radio interview, the best book tour, all the right appearances at all the right places. Now? That cadre? That team? It’s you.

Well, it’s you if you are one of the growing number of independent artists who revel in the passion of creativity but wearied of shuffling behind velvet ropes held tight by the gatekeepers. Or, in simpler terms: damn, it’s hard these days to get an agent, publisher, manager, publicist, any of those folks!!

So what’s an artist to do; an artist who trusts their own voice and is willing to walk their own road even if those gate won’t open? Well, those artists are doing it for themselves. Just like the sisters.

Musicians made the leap first. When big labels tumbled into the swirling eddy of the digital revolution and no one understood how to proceed when all previously held paradigms blew into bits, musicians, bands, and singer/songwriters figured out how to transcend; how to get into those Pro-Tools studios and get the job done with a level of excellence that used to drain bank accounts but could now be covered by Mom, Dad and your freelance fees. And when they had their records recorded, mixed and mastered exactly as they wanted, without interference from bean-counters and suits with no idea of artistry, they got busy promoting the living hell out of those records, creating viable, accessible, impossible-to-pigeonhole careers as independent musicians. Which meant lots of teeth-gritting but ultimately necessary – and often quite effective – self-promotion. Entire careers have been built on that.

Now it’s the writers’ turn. The writing/publishing industry is/has been going through a similar upheaval and the pain is starting to show. While the Big Six publishing houses (some say it’s now the Big Five) have struggled against the turbulence of changing tastes, trends, and delivery systems for the written word, companies like Amazon have rewritten the book, so to speak, on how books are sold, writers are advanced, and readers are supplied. Money in traditional publishing has become unpredictable and unsustainable, which has led to gatekeepers selecting only a few who are predicted to fit the mold, meet the formulas, and overcome the changing tides. Which left out the other talented folk who, heretofore, would have been amongst the chosen. Have you seen the new Noah movie yet? Picture the bulk of writers as those left behind on terra firma as Russell Crowe battened down the hatches and floated off with his handpicked horde.

So those of us left outside have taken a cue from the indie musicians. Courtesy of Amazon and other sites, independent writers have been given the power to move forward despite closed door. The demand remains for excellent,  extraordinary, really good work; for brilliant stories, goose-bumping prose, and unforgettable characters. But, lo and behold, it appears a great many writers who were not let in the gates can and do provide that standard of literature. How lovely that the industry has evolved to the point that these outliers now have a portal, a support system, a facility with which to publish their own work! It’s quite brilliant. But…

Back to self-promotion. Because even though Amazon and affiliates do quite a good job at the various and creative ways in which they promote their authors – clearly a win/win situation – there’s no getting around the fact that independent writers MUST blow their own horns. Which means a great many things, not least of which is asking readers who’ve read their books to leave their – hopefully – positive reviews on their Amazon page… or wherever else such things matter, like Goodreads or Shelfari or other book sites. Reviews are not requested for the sake of ego; they’re requested for the sake of algorithms that rank a book by many things, including the number of reviews those books elicit.

So when a writer asks you to leave a review, understand that they are being a good, independent artist, taking very seriously their commitment to do right by their work, their art; their business. And if you can, if you are so inclined, if you are interested in supporting that artist, and, in a bigger sense, the independent publishing industry, you will be happy to leave one.

And that artist will be very, very grateful.

Woman Kneeling in Prayer by Émile Plassan @ Wikimedia Commons

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.