Category Archives: Publishing and Marketing

Posts relating to my experiences bringing my writing to the public

Running with rose-colored glasses

It was another picture-perfect morning here in Laramie, Wyoming. The Snowy Range was painted a soft rose by a sun that was still below the horizon from my vantage point on the prairie. Although the rest of the beautiful blue sky was clear, above that shy sun was a selection of clouds that looked as though they were designed by an artist determined to impress me. Just above the horizon was a broad, thin swirl that looked like cream spun into coffee–if coffee was blue.

My granddaughter Kate

Where the still-hiding sun reflected off this swirl it was shining like a silver Christmas ornament. Just above, a narrow contrail divided the silver-tinted art from a group of symmetrical white puff-balls that balanced on the line like a large ellipsis on a page … I was enchanted.

Although it was only fifteen degrees, I was dressed just right and the crisp air was refreshing. After two days of hard runs, my legs should have felt tired and a little achy, but the truth is, I felt great. Keeping hold of the reins so that this run would not turn into another hard one was difficult. Between the beauty of nature around me and a weekend filled with happy news from one source after another, I had energy to spare.

Dashing through the snow... sort of.

My sixth grandchild came into this world on Saturday. She is the second girl and the first for my third son, Phil, who already had three sons of his own. That my wife and I had our daughter after three boys gave a bit of synchronicity to the occasion. Phil, Tory and their daughter are healthy, happy and got home from the hospital this morning. A week from tomorrow, my wife and I will get to see them all.

Also on Saturday, in the morning, my wife and I took part in the first Snowy Range Snow Shoe races. There was a light snow throughout the event, temperatures were perfect, neither of us got hurt, and, thanks to Tom Holt pulling me along, I ended up the Wyoming State Grandmaster Champion in the 10k. On top of that, I gave away a copy of “Harvest of the Heart” as a random prize and was able to invite everyone there to my Official Book Launch on Thursday. Finally, I won a random prize myself–lunch at the Beartree Tavern and Cafe in Centennial, Wyoming.

The weekend also included running with my daughter, who is having an excellent recovery from surgery, and holding grandchild number five, who continues to amaze me with how intently he studies the new world around him.

My grandson Chaitan

All of the above is more than enough happiness for one person, but there were also good things that happened on the writing and book marketing front. “Running Scared” is finished and in the hands of a talented editor. “Harvest of the Heart” received more excellent reviews, including those from Heather Faville @ Doubleshot Reviews and Rachel Abbott @ The Kindle Book Reviews. The Kindle Version of “Harvest of the Heart” is finally available and linked to the paperback and includes the “Look Inside” feature. I was interviewed for an article in a newspaper in Maryland that will help publicize my Maryland Launch. It is beginning to look like both my Official Launch on Thursday and my Maryland Launch will be well attended.

The weekend truly did see a flood of good happenings for me. Those glasses didn’t have to be rose-colored, since everything is rosy enough right now. I’d wish for such goodness every week, except I’m not sure what I would do with so many grandchildren! 🙂 So I wish instead that everyone could experience such a weekend.

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My First Book Tour!

Five bookstores in Virginia and Maryland will host signings for “Harvest of the Heart”

Over the Moon Bookstore – Crozet, Virginia

January 19, 2012 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Facebook Event Page

Bookworks LLC – Staunton, Virginia

January 20, 2012 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Facebook Event Page

Winchester Book Gallery – Winchester, Virginia

January 21, 2012 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Facebook Event Page

A Likely Story Bookstore – Sykesville, Maryland

OFFICIAL MARYLAND LAUNCH PARTY!!!

January 23, 2012 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Facebook Event Page

Ukazoo Books – Towson, Maryland

January 24, 2012 4:00 – 7:00 pm

Facebook Event Page

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The sky reflects a troubled spirit

Once again my run turned into an introspective drama. As the day passed into night, the sky spoke to me while I made my through a prairie roiled by relentless wind. I take that back; spoke is too kind a word. Chastised is closer to the truth… berated might be better still.

I have felt out of sorts for the last couple of days and I have avoided trying to pinpoint why. Good things have been happening in my life; a happy new baby in the house, my health on an upswing and a book published. Even the not-so-good things have had silver linings.  Since the birth of my fifth grandchild, my daughter faced a health issue that has allowed me to play a contributing role in our household. I’ve felt needed after a year during which, as a wanna-be writer that wasn’t producing an income, I often didn’t.

I’m certain that my wife and daughter thought I was absorbed in reading books that I had received for Christmas. “Claiming Ground” and “The Hunger Games” I’ve just finished and I’m well into”The Passage”. They are captivating stories, which has helped keep me from facing the cause of a mild depression that is, inexcusably, lying just below the surface of my cheerful facade. The cause for said depression was also close to the surface — easy to reach if I only made the effort. Hence the reason I’ve been burying myself in the pages of one book after another.

But nature and my sub-conscious conspired this evening to force my hand.

Swirls of turbulent gray skittered across the sky, driven by a steadily increasing wind. High above me, an angry presence loomed – the tops of many of the clouds were painted a fierce red by a sun that was already beyond the western mountains. From the very start of my run, it was as though nature itself  was disturbed by and reflected my inner turmoil.

As I followed the narrow trail between rustling stalks of dried switchgrass and needle-and-thread, dodging the gust-driven tumble weeds, I felt buffeted by more than the wind. I was forced to admit the cause of my unsettled state, and that is doubt.

That every author has to face this insidious, tenacious creature doesn’t make it any easier for me. Right now it isn’t doubt about my writing ability, although I worry that will come hand-in-hand with the first negative review. What I doubt is my stamina and commitment for staying the course, for being willing to take my lumps and forge on. The promising early sales have ended and my naive hopes that “Harvest of the Heart” would take off and that sales would become self-sustaining have been dashed. Lots of hard marketing work remains that I, as a self-published author, will need to do myself if I want to succeed.

But I am eager to write, not sell. If I have to personally seek out and make every sale, I don’t know that I can do it. It is a little depressing that I’m feeling this way already. A lot of Indie authors would probably be overjoyed with the positive reviews and over eighty books sold in two weeks. But the truth is, I’m scared that, once my physical launch is over on January 12, that sales will fade away to nothing. How brave they are, the writers that absorb this type of disappointment for years, but stay the course and achieve ultimate success.

I’m not going to quit, I know that much; but I’m mad at myself for letting this doubt take the wind out of my sails; for zapping some of the energy that is needed to talk to bookstore owners and to keep working the social media in the hopes that sales will follow. I’ve been trying to wean myself from checking my sales statistics; I know I should ignore them since looking at them won’t change them… only marketing will do that.

Of course I am using running and this blog as a cheap substitute for a therapist. Running helps me think things through and writing it out helps me to work it out. I’ve set goals, and planned steps to reach them. Here is where I need to act as my own coach and say to myself, “Stop being such a wuss! Get out there and fight for your dreams!”

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Paper Is Dead!… Really?

As you can imagine, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past several months studying the book publishing and book marketing business. I’m far from an expert, and all of my research has been online, but one of the main streams of thought that I kept having to swim through during my educational efforts is the one that keeps repeating over and over again that PAPER IS DEAD!

These books don't look dead to me!

The End is Near!

According to some sources, we are only years (not decades) away from the end of books, at least those with heft. Yes, I said heft – as in weight… significance. The kind you can hold in the palm of your hand and judge how many wonderful evenings you’ll get from it sitting by the fire, the crackle of the flames almost – but not completely – covering the crinkle of one page as you turn to another, enraptured by the story.

I’ll admit to being of an older generation. But I’m only fifty-five, computer-literate and enjoy my fair share of technical gizmos. I run with a Garmin and track my workouts online. My writing is all done on a laptop. I have read a book on a Nook and would be happy to do so again. It is likely that, someday soon, I’ll actually own a Kindle.

But the feel of paper is still important to me. Most likely it is psychological, but I can get lost in the story easier when it is written in ink and the words are all there; physically in my hand, not hiding in a chip or out in the ether. I treasure the ease of glancing back to re-read a passage for clarity, or just because it was so beautifully written. No matter what they say, I don’t believe it is the same with a piece of plastic and computer circuitry.

Smart Writers Don’t Mess With Paper Anymore

I’ve been told that the most successful self-published authors don’t even bother with paper any more. I recognize some of their names now, not

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

Image via Wikipedia

because I’ve read their books (I haven’t), but because they are held up as examples of the future of publishing. In some ways. I suppose I hoped that I would be able to mimic their success. “Harvest of the Heart” is available in all e-Book formats and part of me expected that most of my sales would be delivered electronically, not by UPS or the US Mail.

Someday that may be true. The e-version of my book isn’t yet available through Amazon. But for now, the physical manifestation of my book RULES! If this were a presidential election, they wouldn’t call it a land-slide, they’d call it a blood-bath. Paperback – 88.5%, eBook – 11.5%.

I Might Outlive Paper Books

I’m not on a crusade to save paper books; I honestly don’t think they are threatened. Who knows? Maybe fifty-five years from now, they’ll be extinct; but by then I’ll be listening to them through a headset as I train for my next marathon. I don’t think these old eyes are going to be reading much when I’m 110 years old.

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Dailymile is a unique and wonderful place

On Dec.13, 2008, I logged my first workout on Dailymile. Yesterday I went to my training list, clicked “Last” and there it was. What serendipity that the release of my debut novel was today – Tuesday, December 13 – exactly three years later! It is hard to believe how much my life has changed in those three years. And now the most exciting change of all… I’ve become a published author! Dailymile was the first place I announced the release. I wanted my DM friends who have been so supportive to be the first to know. Your encouragement helped me reach this day. Dailymile is far more than “Facebook for Runners”. To me, Dailymile is family.

The heroine of  “Harvest of the Heart” is Elsa, a runner and a character that I hope you will come to love, since HotH is the first book of “The Elsa Chronicles”. I’m already working on Book Two – “Avenging Angel” – and plan on a September release. In addition, “Running Scared”, a collection of running-themed short stories that I’ve written especially for my DM friends, will be released in March.

Something I’ve learned during my three years on Dailymile is that stubborn determination can only take you so far. There are times when you need to admit that you need the support of others; that you need a helping hand. Leadville certainly taught me that. Being willing to ask for (and give) help and advice is a big part of what being a Dailymiler is all about.

Now I’m going to demonstrate how well I’ve learned that lesson. 🙂 I’d really love your help in getting “Harvest of the Heart” off to a fast start. (Even if you’re reading this and aren’t a Dailymiler) Of course, I hope you’ll buy the book :-), but even if exciting, suspenseful thrillers aren’t your cup of tea, you can still help me immensely by spreading the word. A large publicity budget (which I don’t have) can’t beat word-of-mouth for creating buzz and assuring a book’s success. I don’t imagine that HotH will become a viral entity, but even a little spread is better than none.

I know that a number of you have already started helping and I’m guessing  that more would be happy to be part of spreading the word. There are a lot of little things you could do that would mean so much to me:

If you have a Twitter account, please follow me (@MichaelSelmer) and Tweet about the book a few times. My web-site (http://www.michael-selmer.com) has links on where to buy it, and I will also be tweeting the Amazon address the moment it comes online.

Are you on Facebook, My Space, Goodreads, Google+ or any other social networking sites? If so, could you write a post about the release and link to my website? Also, I have an Author Facebook Page and a Google+ Page and I’d love to have you “friend” me.

Once you’ve read the book, please write a review for my Amazon page, which is already online. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. Saying that you liked it and mentioning a couple reasons is enough. Having a lot of reviews on Amazon is an important signal of quality to potential readers.

If you are one of my many DM friends that have a blog, I’m open to doing an interview, answering questions for a book review, or writing a guest blogpost. It can be about running or writing. If I’m not already linked to your blog from my website, I’d be happy to do that, as well as tweet about the post. If you know someone who has a blog that might be interested, I’d really appreciate it if you’d refer them to me.

Maybe there is some other way you can help. Are you connected with a reader’s group, book club, or media outlet? Even a little mention in one of these venues goes a long way.

Doing all of these things is too much to ask, but an Indie author can’t accomplish anything alone. Even the smallest part you play in helping make “Harvest of the Heart” a best-seller will be greatly appreciated. Becoming a best-selling author may be just a dream, but if that dream comes true, I’ll never forget the part you played in making it happen.

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A Second Life Begins

Shortly after midnight, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 13, 2011, a new phase of my life began. It is nearing two a.m. and I’m unlikely to sleep tonight. In fact, it feels as though I might even be holding my breath well into the morning’s light. My debut novel – Harvest of the Heart – has been released. The world (or as much of it as I can reach) will soon begin to judge whether I have a future as an author. Talk about gut-wrenching… this is worse than the night before the state championship meet when I was coaching high school track.

I might be calling this a “soft” release, but it feels hard to me. While most of the people who I hope will buy my book are probably still sleeping, I’m reviewing in my mind all the steps I’ve taken, and have yet to take, in my publishing journey. All you writing veterans out there will read this post and chuckle. You’ve been there, done that. But this is my first time. I’m as nervous as any virgin bride (or bridegroom) on their wedding night. What will tomorrow bring? A joy-filled, endless honeymoon? Or something else?

There will be highs such as this: a few minutes ago, I got my first e-mail from PayPal telling me that Diane V. had purchased an autographed copy of my book. The first one. My wife is already in bed and I hope my fist pump and exultant “YES!” didn’t wake her. And I’m certain there will be lows, too. Dips in sales, rejections from some brick and mortar bookstores who shy away from self-published authors… signings where I sit self-consciously waiting for at least one person to come up and talk to me.

Don’t worry, I’m determined to see this through. My muse demands nothing less. By the end of 2012, I intend to have at least three more books released. I’ll be an old hand by then. Maybe not a grizzled veteran on the literary scene, but at least not a greenhorn, a newbie holding his breath, waiting for someone to say “yes, you have what it takes… you ARE going to make it.”

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A chance to lose myself

“Harvest of the Heart” will be released this Tuesday, December 13 and so I have spent most of my time for the last several weeks trying to establish an internet “presence”, getting reviews, and preparing for a social media effort to support the release. This blog, Facebook, Twitter and other internet time-sinks have monopolized my attention. But, for much of Sunday, December 11, our internet service was down. Our provider is upgrading their service and I guess they ran into some glitches. I should have been bothered by the time that would be lost on marketing efforts with just forty-eight hours before the big day. Instead, I found myself eager to put it behind me and get back to what I love to do, and that is write.

For the first time in many weeks, I had what I consider to be a very productive writing day. Over one thousand words and finally some momentum toward completing a novella that has languished since HotH began its halting strides toward publication. Today reminded me why I have confidence that I will someday (maybe soon!) make it as a novelist. Once my mind reclaimed the thread of the story, I became enmeshed in the characters and scenes. It felt good to know that the ability to let a story flow through me is still there, waiting to be set loose again. During the writing of “Harvest of the Heart” there were days when my muse was so strong that I wrote three thousand words or more for days on end. Not all of it was great, some wasn’t even good; but the bones of the story fell in place and were fleshed out, ready to be molded into a novel.

The loss of internet today was truly a blessing. It reminded me that I love to write… that I need to write. So many great writers have the discipline to do this every day. I want to be one of them and so I must find the determination and self-control that will allow me to ignore the marketing and publicity harpies that snatch away my time, and give my muse the attention she demands, if only for a few hours each day.

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