Grow (yourself) Locally

Everything is harder when you are doing it on your own.  That’s the first idea people need to understand before they decide to self-publish instead of seeking an agent or a traditional publisher. While working on your next project (book, painting, t-shirt design, etc.), you have to make it easier for people to find your work.  Authors who do not have a global reach need to start small in their home towns and build from that base.

THE PLATFORM FOR A GLOBAL PRESENCE

This is the easy part.  Anyone can set up a free website, run a Twitter/Facebook page, and purchase a cheap domain to bring it all together.  Those who are more advanced use email lists to focus the attention on their audience.  All of this costs less than you might think.  The greatest expense is time, which is always in short supply.

Amazon has been a great advantage for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan.  As of this post, it has reached over 15,000 readers and is rated more highly than Capt. Hook: the Adventures of a Notorious Youth, Peter Pan in Scarlet, and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.  (Your days are numbered Starcatchers!)

Not one part of this is local, but it helps you to be seen as more credible when talking to local businesses.

LOCAL CAUSES

The first thing I did was hitch up to a worthy cause close to where I live.  The Metropolitan Community Church of New York specializes in caring for the needs of LGBT homeless youth.  Often, these kids are on the street because they were born into intolerant or abusive homes. You can read more about them here.  A major chunk of the money the book will make this year will go to them because they are truly great people and they can do more good with $1000 than I can.

LOCAL LIBRARIES

Jeremy Marshall and I are showing off our display at the "Tales of Our Cities" event in September 2013.

Jeremy Marshall and I are showing off our display at the “Tales of Our Cities” event in September 2013.

In the spring of this year, I contacted the Jersey City Free Public Library regarding their fall event.  The “Tales of Our Cities” event in September was a great way to gain exposure for the book.

We signed a few copies and I did a reading for the crowd.  In addition, the library bought ten copies for their use.  The platform was important, but the push behind our involvement came from my status as a local.

I read for the crowd at the "Tales of Our Cities" event in Jersey City.

I read for the crowd at the “Tales of Our Cities” event in Jersey City.

LOCAL BUSINESSES

Business owners are shrewd, and for good reason.  They need to be certain that what they are doing is good for them and for their customers.  Two places in particular have opened up to me and to the book.  Yes, the global platform gives me credibility in an anonymous and ambiguous way, but living in Jersey City is a key factor in our agreements.

Jersey City Free Books is located on Griffith Street in Jersey City Heights, blocks from my door.  Books are collected for trade in a manner that fits everybody’s ideal of a socialist utopia.  The concept is simple: take a book, leave a book.  There is no money exchanged and the books are generally not tracked or catalogued.  I dropped off a few copies for them to give away and, in return, the owner posted on his Facebook page.

The stand at JC Made where you can find our book for sale.

The stand at JC Made where you can find our book for sale.

JC Made is a store that sells work exclusively from artists who live in Jersey City.  When you walk in, you will see a collection of vases, t-shirts, lamps, cards, and now… books.  On Friday, I signed a contract to sell my book there, making it the first place where you can walk in, see a copy of Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, and pay for it at a register.  Again, the Amazon sales and ranking gave me a platform, but my local status made this possible.

Building a writing career, while climbing in your main career, is hard when you are doing it on your own.  However, if you look closely enough, local opportunities are all around.

The $1000 Pledge – September Update

I am still clawing my way to reach my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services. Click here to find out more. 

VISIBILITY

September has been a fantastic month for the book’s visibility.  The “Tales of Our Cities” event in Jersey City has opened up a world of opportunities for speaking, reading, and selling.  This has helped push the number of reviews for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan to 41 on Amazon.  With some luck, more events are in my near future.

PRODUCTIVITY

Book Two in the Captain James Hook series is done on my end, at least for now.  Jeremy Marshall has the reigns through the winter season and will add his ideas to the pot.  I’ll jump back in sometime in March to push it along for a June release.  Until then, my job is to teach, post, coach, and kick around other project ideas.

The $1000 Pledge – June Update

If you need to read up on the $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services, click here.

June has been another spectacular month for the book.  Much of the attention drawn in April helped push Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan to its 38th review on Amazon.

New Paperback Edition

The book interior of the paperback edition received a complete overhaul thanks to Adobe InDesign for CS6.  During this month, I taught myself how to use it and I couldn’t be happier with the result.  Check out the new book interior (and read the whole first chapter) here.  You can read more about my Adobe InDesign journey here.

THE COMPETITION

For a long time, I was intimidated by a story written by J. V. Hart, titled Capt. Hook: Tales of a Notorious Youth.  You might know J. V. Hart as the screenwriter for small film projects like “Hook” (1991), “Dracula” (1992), and “Contact” (1997). The book never did much, but it was supposed to be the first in an ongoing series.  This month, Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan surpassed J. V. Hart’s novel in number of ratings and higher ranked ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.  It is cause to celebrate.

PRODUCTIVITY

 

Book Two in the Captain James Hook series has 57,000+ words and is in a serious need of editing.  The goal is to whittle my mad ravings down to about 45,000 words of enjoyable text.  I am hoping that the July update will have the words “I’m done with Book Two” in it somewhere.  We’ll see.  The challenge of writing at this speed scares me a little and I recognize that it’s a good thing.

The $1000 Pledge – May Update

STOP! If you know nothing about my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services, click here.

May was a banner month for Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, which has now reached over 12,000 readers.  The book has received over 30 reviews on Amazon, still averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars!

meeting the goal

The profits from April and May will be a major contributor the $1000 donation goal.  However, we’re not there yet.  The first quarter of the year was slow, but the second quarter of 2013, leading up to the one year anniversary of the book’s first release, has shown progress and promise.

Productivity

The Captain James Hook trilogy is mapped out and on an accelerated schedule.  Book Two is at 50,000 words and is nearly ready to be honed into something readable.  Book Three is loosely plotted and will be drafted over the summer.  I am still looking for a fall release, but my ambitions have changed.  Both Book Two and Book Three will be released before the end of 2013.  As with everything that I think I can do, once I realize I can do it, I want to do more of it and at a greater frequency.

THE RUBBER-NECKED GIRAFFE

This week, I talked with someone else who is also producing material that he is publishing and marketing himself.  He used the expression of a “rubber-necked giraffe” to describe the idea of being discovered by a consumer because they looked back at your body of work after finding one of your items.  The model only works if you have more than one thing to offer.  Whether it is books, music, or photos, a constant stream of quality output is necessary to succeed.

The $1000 Pledge – April Update

If you’re reading this and you know nothing about my $1000 donation goal to @MCCNewYork Homeless LGBT Youth Services, click here to catch up.

April was a killer month for the book.  During a two-day free promotion, Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan hit #1 in Historical Fantasy and Mythology and reached over 8000 readers.    Once again, this was a free promotion, but the exposure boosted sales and we received our 2oth review on Amazon, now averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars!

Amazon KDP Select

Being exclusive to Amazon gives nobodies like me access to promotional avenues that aren’t available at other book-selling sites.  For example, the free promotion that gave away over 8000 copies of the book also drove legitimate sales that eclipsed January, February, and March combined.

Productivity

The next book in the Captain James Hook series is on schedule.  I am now 37,000+ words into the first draft and reset the plot in a new outline.  I’ve decided that October 31st will be my yearly release date.  With any luck, I’ll be able to increase the frequency of the books I write in the coming years, but for now I kind of like the sound of a Halloween book launch.

WHere the money is going

The $1000 pledge is growing each month.  April was just the kind of break I was hoping for and I’m looking forward to what May will bring.  The weather is nice now, but winter 2013 is closer than any of us want to think about and forward is the only way to go.