Write What You Know: My New Book, Protecting Zarifah, and My Experiences with Shimmy Mob

It is said that you should write what you know.

Most of the time, when I write, the story is completely fictional. Protecting Zarifah, my newest book, is different. I am the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis.

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2011 Shimmy Mob Memphis – our first year, Debra Parmley, team leader, in back, on the left.

Founded in 2011, by Francesca Sabeya Anastasi, Shimmy Mob is an International organization with chapters all over the world. We dance each year on international belly dance day and raise funds for our local domestic abuse shelters and we raise awareness. We dance to the same song, doing the same choreography and wearing the same t-shirts.

Next year will be the tenth year for Shimmy Mob. The Memphis chapter has raised over ten thousand dollars for the shelter through the years. I am proud of my dance sisters who stepped up to help. Together we are stronger. www.shimmymob.com

People often asked me why I signed the city up when I had retired from my troupe and was no longer dancing. I was focused on my first book out in print, and was busy going to book signings with little time to spare. I made time. No one had signed the city up. The clock was ticking. Why did I sign up?

I usually have a four-word answer to that question. Babies with broken bones. Domestic abuse hits the youngest child, to the oldest person. Substitute women for babies or elderly for babies in that four word sentence. Whoever is the victim, domestic violence is wrong. And it needs to stop. I do not want to live in a world where babies have broken bones because a malicious adult injured them or where a caretaker breaks an elderly person. That’s simply not acceptable to me. The work I’ve done with Shimmy Mob is one small way I could help.

dp18342604_10154336006946933_1245593169679268202_n2011- Shimmy Mob Memphis, our first year. Far right, Debra Parmley, team leader. Far left, Brenda Canady, fund raiser chai, Natasha McAllister, Jasmine Shope, choreographer, front row, third from the right, Idy Shope. Cymbeline Rois, assistant team leader back row, second from the left, Emily, Deb Kornrumpf, Barbara, 

That first year we faced a lot of challenges. In 2011 Memphis had tornados, the river rising and flooding. We had to find a place to dance and it was hard. We thought we had a place but then they backed out. No one wanted to let us dance because a Shimmy Mob/flash mob was brand new and other flash mobs had sometimes led to violence. I often thought of the irony as I searched for a place to dance. We were trying to stop domestic violence and couldn’t find a place to dance because others had been violent.

Forty-five dancers signed up from various dance groups in Memphis along with a few dancers from out of town. We started rehearsals but still had nowhere to dance. Last minute permission came from Center City Commission through Dawn Vinson, who would be dancing with us. We would dance downtown outdoors on the trolley line.

Only a fraction of our dancers made it out to dance because of the storms. We had tornados moving in. I could have called it, but staying in touch with the folks putting on Memphis in May concerts down by the river, I decided not to until they did. Bands playing on a metal stage would be called off if it became too dangerous. My oldest son was working the event. He does Tech Theater and works the lights and sound. We were both tuned in to the weather and I was also receiving communications from the City of Memphis official who would tell us if we needed to find cover.

So, we danced. We danced in between tornado sirens and watching for tornados, but we got the job done and we raised a thousand dollars that first year even though we received no local news coverage for our event. They were too busy covering the storms.

The photographer for the Commercial Appeal called me as we were driving away. He had just missed us. I thought we had been a small voice that few heard, but even a small voice can help. Even a small voice can speak up. That too is an important part of fighting domestic violence and an important example to set. Later, Shimmy Mob International honored us for our efforts.

Honoring Shimmy Mob Memphis in 2011

Shimmy Mob Memphis continued to dance each year. Our first year, the funds went directly to the YWCA shelter. I took toiletries, diapers and other items we’d collected to the shelter. There are so many ways to help. At the time it was the only shelter in the tri-state area – not enough for a metropolitan area the size of Memphis. In later years we donated to The Family Safety Center, the first place domestic violence victims can go locally. It is a wonderful place and offers many services.

Things often come full circle in my life. Now I’m retired from team leading, and instead, I’m writing about Shimmy Mob to shine a light and spread awareness.

ProtectingZarifah_Web72International actor and cover model John Antorino is my cover model portraying Navy SEAL “Cutter”.

Zarifah, my heroine in Protecting Zarifah, is an assistant team leader in the first Shimmy Mob event. It is 2011 and they will have to take all the steps to put an event on. First, sign up the city. Second, get the word out to dancers and encourage them to sign up. Third, get the music and choreography and learn it. Fourth, find a place to dance. Fifth, set up donations. Sixth, promote the event. Then dance on Shimmy Mob day. Afterward, turn in money to the shelter. Send video and pics to International Shimmy Mob and share on social media.

Readers will get a glimpse into the world of a real belly dancer, while also reading about a fictional one, who was engaged to the wrong man. When he is arrested for domestic abuse, she is done with him and determined that he will never touch her again. She files a restraining order against him.

Cutter, her new Naval SEAL boyfriend, will be there to protect her if her ex boyfriend comes around again, and when she dances for Shimmy Mob, his protecting services are needed.

Available on Amazon for KU or in print

For more about Debra visit:

www.debraparmley.com

I’m everywhere on social media.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley

FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/debraparmley/

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/DebraParmley

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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

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Cover Model Corner blog: https://covermodelcorner.wordpress.com/

Writing Blog: https://threadingtheweb.wordpress.com/

Newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/ZUyC1

Debra Parmley’s Beautiful Day YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/DebraParmleyRomance/featured?view_as=subscriber

Link to my old radio show Book Lights: http://bit.ly/BookLights 

 

 

 

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Imposter Syndrome, A Snarly Dog

Imposter Syndrome is a Snarly Dog. I decided it was time to write about this, after mentoring one of my author friends on Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt. I realized this is something we don’t talk about enough. If we did, writers would not view it as unique or unexpected when it happens to them.

Mention Imposter Syndrome in a room full of authors and ask them to raise their hands if they have ever encountered it and you will see almost every hand go up. It is as common as typing THE END. Think about that for a minute. Let this sink in – Imposter Syndrome is so common to writers, that almost everyone has experienced it at one time or another. I don’t know any authors who haven’t experienced it and it’s been ten years since my first novel was published and I’ve been in author circles for over twenty years. Imposter Syndrome is universal and seems to be part of the author’s journey.

I like to picture these doubts as snarling dogs, because that’s what they do. They ask the question who do you think you are? And it’s always with that snarl.

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I like to say Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all out alpha on it to show it who the alpha is.

Imposter Syndrome is a form of self-doubt and is fear based. Fear of being judged as an author, fear of having your book judged, fear of being found wanting, fear of someone saying – who do you think you are to write that book? You may experience one of these or another from the same snarling dog family.

You may experience this snarly dog with your first book or your twentieth. When writing, you may experience it halfway through, in those moments when you think the good pages you wrote yesterday which you thought were such good pages now totally suck and the whole book totally sucks so much you’d like to shred it, burn it or delete it. That one is a very nasty snarly dog. You can’t let it win. You may experience a snarly dog after hitting the bestseller lists multiple times; with readers saying they love your books. Some writers experience it on book release day and don’t feel like celebrating, because that snarly dog is winning. You may experience it when being asked to read from your work or when asked to speak or to be in an interview or on a panel. So, what can you do about a snarly dog?

First, know they can pop up at any time and be ready to face one. Acknowledge it and face it. No hiding in your house, or cancelling or destroying pages. No posting all over social media, wallowing in it and being a victim of it. Tell an author friend or mentor privately if you need to talk about it, but then face that snarly dog.

Imposter Syndrome is a big snarly dog and you have to go all alpha on it to show it who the alpha is. Your words and your voice and your stories have value. When it snarls, say out loud, “I am (your full name) and my words have value. My book has value and people want to read it.”

There is power in “I am” statements. Great power.

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Now go write your awesome books, never let the snarly dogs win, and boost and encourage your fellow creative friends. I’m fine with you quoting me and hope this article helps.

To learn more about Debra Parmley and her books, or for classes (lots of new author classes coming this summer beginning with the Write Like a Pro Con in Peoria, IL June 7,8,9) check out:

Website www.debraparmley.com

Facebook personal https://www.facebook.com/debra.parmley.7

Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/authordebraparmley/

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebraParmley

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debraparmley/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/debraparmley/

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-parmley

Writing Blog https://threadingtheweb.wordpress.com/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/DebraParmleyRomance/

Write Like a Pro https://www.writelikeaproauthorconference.com/

Audiobooks are an Expensive Gamble for the Indie Author

Audiobooks are an expensive gamble for the Indie Author.

Here is what goes into the making of an audiobook if you go through ACX.

First you’ll need to set up your account. You’ll need to decide if you are going to pay a flat fee for the narrator, or if you are going to do a 50/50 royalty split. If hiring a SAG narrator, the minimum is $100 per finished hour with a 50/50 split. This was the option I chose for my first two audiobooks, Check Out, and Trapping the Butterfly. I hired professional SAG narrators to do my first two audiobooks.

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You also have to decide whether to go exclusive through ACX or non-exclusive. With exclusive your audiobooks are available through Audible, Amazon and iBooks. A non-exclusive contract allows you to distribute your audiobooks through any vendor you choose.

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I chose to go non-exclusive for my second two audiobooks, Dangerous Ties, and Aboard the Wishing Star, and I hired a narrator who is also a musician who could  add music to the audiobooks, which I felt was a nice touch. He charged a flat fee with no royalty split and he can advise me on putting the books onto CD’s or other media so I can sell them at book signings. The options are wide open.

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The process of listening carefully to each tape which is sent, chapter by chapter and making sure the audio matches the words on the page is a slow and time consuming one. It is also a slow process for your narrator to narrate the book. Then when everything is done for the narration, you will need an audiobook cover, so that can be an additional expense if your cover artist charges extra for that form which is a square and changes your cover some.

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So you have your audiobook done and now it’s time to promote it. ACX will give you 25 free download codes to send to reviewers. But be careful how you use them as those codes can be used for any audiobook in the store, not just yours. In the wrong hands and you won’t even see any reviews. Vet your reviewers.

Things were going well, I had the new audiobooks finished and out there, sales were coming in slowly, reviews were coming in, and then Audible came out with their romance package. Similar to Kindle Unlimited, this allows readers/listeners to listen to audiobooks if they pay for the romance package. Instead of royalties on a sale, authors would get paid when the books were listened to.

Neither KU or this romance package are in favor of authors, if you look closely at them. This is akin to …let’s say, you are a peach seller, selling cans of peaches. But you only get paid when someone opens the can and eats them. Cans of peaches can sit on someone’s shelf a long time. So can an ebook or an audiobook. The one who benefits the most is the seller of the KU program or the seller of the romance package. Authors, not so much. Like that can of peaches, the book may be a good purchase, a yummy purchase. But until someone opens it and takes that first bite, we don’t get paid one dime. And they have to eat all the peaches or read all the pages for you to be paid in full for your book. I doubt we could get any sellers of canned peaches talked into this kind of a deal. But authors went for it.

Initially I’d said yes to the romance package and tried it for a year. My audiobook sales plummeted. People are busy. They might “buy” your audiobook but that doesn’t mean they have time to read/listen to it. People are busy. This is not a good situation for the author.

After trying the ACX romance package, I sent ACX a letter and pulled my books out of the program. You’d think sales would then have picked up. Enter the next problem.

Pirates. Yes, audiobooks are pirated too and some pirates are so bold they’ll even post Youtube Videos telling readers where to get those books for free. So now we’re not even getting paid for page reads or page listens. Now we are getting zip. Zero. Nada.

Readers keep asking me when I am going to put out a new audiobook. I’m giving a straight answer to this. I’m not. Not until these four audiobooks earn out the costs of producing them. Until that day, I can’t afford to put another one out there. Publishers need to be profitable to stay in business. This is true of Indie authors and Indie publishers. When my audiobook sales pick up, then you will see more of my audiobooks.

Here’s some straight talk, JA Konrath style: I have $1,810.00 invested in the production of these four audiobooks. The shortest one was $310.00 to narrate. I’ve sold a total of 128 audiobooks since 2016 when I put the first one out and brought in $236.57 so far. Not even enough to cover the cost of producing the smallest audiobook.

This morning I spent time sending take down notices on pirated copies of all four audiobooks. Pirates suck. They just do. And if you are a reader/listener who downloads from pirated sites, then you are in receipt of stolen merchandise. You might as well be holding up banks and liquor stores, or fencing stolen property, all of that is theft and helping people steal and you suck. I don’t want to hear your excuses, because no excuse changes the fact that you are a thief. I hope the karma bus comes fast and hits you hard with what you deserve.

Newer authors often ask me about putting their books into audio. Well, here are the facts as I have experienced them so far with my audiobooks. Two of those books were RONE award nominated ebooks and that’s a reader vote. In case anyone was thinking my books might suck. It’s not my books that are the problem and I have those reader votes to back me up. What sucks are the pirates and the systems of paying authors and narrators for their work. Remember on a 50/50 royalty split, the narrator is getting screwed by these pirates too.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I will take this time now to say I am truly, eternally grateful for my readers and reviewers who have purchased my books and left reviews. You are why I continue to write and put my books out there. You are the treasures in this pirate filled world and I thank God for you.

Legitimate places to get Debra’s audiobooks:

Itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/author/debra-parmley/id411082477?mt=11

Audible:

http://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_pd_Romanc_c2_1_auth?searchAuthor=Debra+Parmley

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Parmley/e/B002BM9H4A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1509300092&sr=8-1

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For more about Debra visit: debraparmley.com

Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

Re-Releasing Kindle Worlds Books

It has been exactly one month, thirty days to the day I last blogged about Kindle Worlds closing and how authors must adapt and adjust. Today I’m happy to share that Montana Marine, which is in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Twisted Pages Press, Elle’s new publishing house! I’m also excited to share that Protecting Pippa, which is in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Aces Press, Susan’s new publishing house!

The covers will be slightly redone to remove the Kindle Worlds logo and to be fitted in the new templates for each series, but the titles and the cover models poses will remain. I’ve posted them below. The books will come out in ebook first and will be available on Kindle, but print is now an option which would not have been possible with Kindle Worlds. So, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to have the books back out along with some new books.

Then in August I’ll have a new Brotherhood Protectors book, Defensive Instructor, out! And I’ll have a new Special Forces Operation Alpha book, Split Screen Scream out! Now to get this done I have adapted and adjusted again, putting the other books on hold. Those will follow these new releases.

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On Drive, Writing and Achieving Goals

I have drive. When it come to my books, my writing career, I have drive.

My husband calls it tunnel vision and perhaps it could be called that too, because when I am that focused on the goal, it is an extreme focus which fades things in the periphery of my vision. But whatever one chooses to call it,  it have it and when I am that focused I will not be redirected elsewhere, by anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances. I call it drive.

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I have drive. This has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved in my writing career so far to this date. No matter what has happened to me and to my books I keep pushing forward. Set backs happen. I have to get up, dust myself off and start again. I have to adapt and adjust. This is not to say I have not had those nights when it seemed impossible to get up and do it again and to start over. This is not to say I have not had nights when I cried bitter tears of frustration and sadness and loss and felt like giving up. I have had such dark nights and gotten through them, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of a friend. But I have gotten through them. I get up, dust myself off and I begin again. Because I have drive.

When students who are serious about their writing ask me what it takes to get published (usually they mean with a publisher not self publishing which nearly anyone can do these days if they apply themselves) I tell them the things they must know to get published and I teach them the skills and pass along the information they will need to achieve that. But that drive, that is the one thing I cannot give them or teach them. Drive comes from within. I can motivate. I can ask them how bad do they want it. I can ask them any number of questions which will motivate them, but it still has to come from within. They need that inner fire. That drive.

Drive accepts no excuses. It does not care what is going in in your life. It does not care if you are tired. It does not care about anything other than achieving that goal. Drive is unstoppable, unrelenting, ruthless. If you have ever once tasted drive within yourself you will know this will be true. You will understand what I am speaking of.

I have drive. Sometimes this means I drive myself too hard, too fast and for too long. I am often too hard on myself. Often this means I will crash and crash hard. Just last night I had such a crash. I had been driving myself too hard, living on fours hours of sleep, pushing hard to get books out with rights reversions back from three publishers and many books to get out under my new publishing company/private label and an all day book event yesterday where I needed to have books ready to sign. I had been pushing myself hard for about a month, and pushing the month before, not as hard but pushing. So when I came home from the book event last night I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for twelve hours straight. Then I got up and four hours later napped for an hour. I had reached a point of exhaustion and my body said, enough.

This is what drive can do. So when you have it to the degree that I have, it is important to learn to manage it, to control it. To find some sort of balance between allowing that drive to fill you to the point where you push on through to your goals and between reigning it in so you can rest and recharge and be ready to push on through the next day. Often when I have a set back in my writing career, after the dark night of drying those tears, I get back up with a fierce sort of drive which pushes me hard. It is my way of fighting back against the twists of fate the publishing life throws at me. It is that fierce determination which doesn’t listen. It is the dark side of drive or tunnel vision because it does not listen.

What follows a crash and burn with me is a quiet, a silence. A time of evaluation. Of assessment and of looking all around and listening. The drive is sated then, quiet. Not gone, just quiet and still enough that it waits until I need it again.

Drive is something that allows us to achieve our goals and sometimes achieve things we had never dreamed of. I believe it is a necessary part of achieving a successful writing career and of achieving any sort of dream. I am thankful to have it and would not want to be any other way than I am. Writing is not a hobby for me. Never has been and never will be. I have the drive which will take me there. The part I must learn is to balance that drive and to live a more healthy lifestyle. That is the challenge that I see. Typing these words my next thought is, challenge, now you have set the challenge. And this… this is the beginning of setting any sort of goal for which you will need drive.

Oh yes. I have this drive. It just needs some direction, a goal to point it to.

I have drive.

The Five-minute Book Review and Why You Should Write One

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The five-minute book review and why you should write one.

Why should you write a five-minute review? Why am I asking you to write one?

Because you liked the story. Because it helps the author. Because it might lead to the author having another story out which you might like as well or better. Because if you don’t you may not find another book by this author. Or a book similar to this one, in the same genre or writing style. Authors sometimes switch to other types of stories and low reviews and low sales are one reason why.

Reviews are getting harder and harder to get. I am hearing this from traditionally published authors as well as Indies and hybrid authors like myself.

Have you ever had a favorite food, brand, or store? Maybe it was one of your favorite things but suddenly the store no longer carries the food or brand or the store is no longer in business. I’ve had this happen to me. It left me wondering what happened when I liked it so much.

This can happen to books and their authors as well. Books need reviews. Fewer reviews mean fewer sales. That hurts authors. It hurts their books. And it hurts you, the reader, because that author you like, that book you like, and they may not stay around long if you don’t support them.

Can you speak up for the things you like? And I do not mean clicking like on your face book feed. I mean taking five minutes out of your day to write a short review, which basically says hey I liked this book. A few sentences. One paragraph.

So you’re not a “book reviewer”. Well neither am I. But each of us can say in simple language hey, I liked this book. Or hey I liked it but I wish it had more of this thing. Or I am not sure what to think of this book. Or even this was not my cup of tea but it was well written. Or even I didn’t care for this book and this is why. Just the honest truth of what you think of the book. That’s all. One simple review. A few sentences. Five minutes.

One sentence. I liked this book.

Two sentences. I enjoyed this book. I hope to read more by this author.

See how easy that is? Simple. Might take you less than five minutes.

Five minutes. You can do it. I bet you can even write a better review than one of my examples.

And if you do write a short review, I thank you for it. On behalf of every author and every book you review I thank you for it. We need you. We love you. We appreciate you.

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If you would honor me with a review here are two sites for where it’s easy to do that.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2279340.Debra_Parmley

The Author Reader Connection – Thoughts From The Daughter Of A Newspaper Man

The author reader connection, how do we create it? How do we create any sort of good connection between people? Allow me to teach you what my father taught me.

I am the daughter of a newspaperman. Ink is in my blood.

My father worked all his life for the Springfield News and Sun in Springfield, Ohio selling advertising. I grew up watching him create ads on his drafting board, watching him deliver proofs. Every Saturday he took me with him on his rounds. Sometimes late at night he would take me down to the paper to watch the presses run. Ink is in my blood. From the letters of the typesetter, to the large round rolls of paper, to the production line of folding and inserting the Sunday inserts, all this went into the raising of this author. Even now I can close my eyes to see and hear and catch the scent of the newspaper being produced, being born. The stories of our lives went into that paper and the advertisements were what made that possible. Ads could also tell a story. That of businesses opening, businesses being passed down in a family, or businesses closing.

If you are an author, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find blogs, articles and books written about marketing your book, PR for authors, what to do to gain readers. It would be easy to spend enormous amounts of time and money chasing this subject. The goal of all this is to get those sales numbers up and sell more books. Authors need their books to sell if they are to make a living as authors, not dishwashers. Readers need authors to write those books so they will have new fiction to enjoy. Like the newspaper mentioned above, the selling of books is intricately tied to the writing of them and the production of them before the reader can sit back and enjoy that story in their hands.

Like it or not, whether you are a writer or a reader, there must be a way to sell books. Which means selling. There are those who are born salespeople and those who are not. Those who are may love the art of the sale. Many of us have to work harder at it.

Not long after I moved to the Memphis area I took a job selling advertising for the Collierville Herald, a weekly newspaper. Yes, I was following in my father’s footsteps though he worked for a daily newspaper and this was a weekly. I was hired to bring in all new accounts, not given a territory and I was on straight commission. Let me tell you now that was damn hard. Challenging and in many ways exciting and stimulating, but also damn hard because I am a writer, an introvert. I worked hard to bring in new clients and by the end of the year I had built my sales up to match the sales of their top salesperson. I’m still proud of that, but it took a lot out of me and I got very little writing done that year. I did learn a lot about selling and about why my dad was such a good salesperson, continually winning bonuses and top sales person awards at the paper.

Have you ever been around a salesperson who got on your nerves? I’ve been around a lot of them. There are things I didn’t like about selling, such as those business mixers where everyone is handing around business cards and you know the only reason someone is handing you their card is to sell you something while they barely glance at yours. Most of those cards are going to get tossed in the trash, sometimes before the person ever leaves the building. The room is full of salespeople hungry for a sale. I had a unique position at those events because by running an ad with me I could help them make those sales. But still there would be the sizing you up, the glance at that card and sometimes the discard. I call this discarding people and it is one of the things I dislike the most about salespeople. That I cannot sell to you therefore I discard you mentality.

That is not how my father sold advertising. He was a man who truly cared about people, as people. Not as an ends to a means, as way to make those sales. He was there to help them sell whatever they were advertising and he would have been the first to tell them if he thought something wouldn’t work and what might be better. When he retired, his advertisers liked him so much they didn’t want to lose him, nor did the paper, so he came back to work for them part time, delivering proofs. My father knew every person who worked at that newspaper, in even the smallest of jobs, and he always remembered their names. The complete opposite of the type of salesperson who would discard you mentally, to my father everyone mattered, sale or not. He was a man who was well loved by many.

It’s interesting that with all the marketing and sales “buzz words” I’ve heard in my lifetime, I am finally hearing sales is about relationships. Something my father either knew many years ago, or it was such a part of his personality he never thought about it, just did it. Finally the sales gurus out there have figured out selling is about relationships and they are starting to apply this approach to the art of selling.

I had a great example in my dad and it carries over into all areas of life, selling being just one of them. People matter. Relationships matter.

I’ve spent a few years trying this thing and that to sell my books and have come to realize the things I enjoy most are those which allow me to engage with my readers on a more personal level. Because of that, I prefer to attend smaller events, which allow me to meet and talk to readers on a more personal level. One of my greatest joys is hearing from readers and I treasure every email. I read every review on Goodreads and they make me smile. Without such things as reader emails and reviews it’s hard for an author to know what readers do and don’t like about their stories. So I am always thankful for the opportunity for feedback.

The balancing act is taking part in events, which allow me to connect with readers in person and balancing that with my writing time. I no longer try to wear more hats than that, because I am the only one who can write my books. I have a PR firm and they handle my social media, PR and marketing, which allows me more time to write.

What can you as an author do to connect with readers and to sell more books?

1.) Write the best book you can and then write another and another…..

2.) Anything which is not writing your book…. is not writing your next book.

3.) Beware the time suck, which is the Internet, and limit the time you spend there. (Set an egg timer or your phone alarm to gain control of this.) Selling should be a fraction your time because if you spend too much time selling your book you’ll get behind on writing the next one.

4.) Find someone to partner with you on selling your book. Selling is a skill set not everyone has and what works for one will not work for another. What is your publisher doing to help you sell books? If they are getting a percent of the profit, they should be doing something other than just producing it. If you are running an ad somewhere, is there a co-op program? Can you partner with other others in an ad? Build relationships within the publishing industry to help you sell your books. Try something new and if that does not work, try something else.

4.) Continually ask yourself what your readers want. What do they enjoy? How can you best serve your reader? Your bottom line should never become more important than your readers.

5.) Building a reader base takes time. Building a relationship takes time. Writing books takes time. With each book you are building your base. Make that as solid as you can.

6.) Never let making a sale become more important than the people you are trying to sell to.

Always remember that people matter. Relationships matter. Perhaps in the end, this is all that matters.

Please do leave comments. I love to hear from you.

Love and light,

Debra

This post is dedicated to my father.

Thank you John (Jack) Bishop for everything you taught me. Infinite love and gratitude. I will miss you.