Self-publishing Update—Grass Roots Promotion

What to do? What to do?

I could be searching the tweets for a willing soul to pitch my book to in hopes of a review or recommendation. Or I could be reading the Goodreads recommendations on how to promote my book and hold book giveaways. I could be reading Amazon’s helpful suggestions. And making lists. I could be making lists. Lists of people to contact. Lists of organizations to contact. Lists of things I’ve accomplished so far. Lists of things to do.

Can you tell I’m on a denial, or at least a procrastination, jag here?

Instead I’m going to tell you what I did today, which will be yesterday (or even later) for you.

Mary Katherine Lemmon

My mom is my best book promoter. Today she sold three books to her friends from high school who she’s known on-again, off-again for 60-odd years. I picked her up at her house, said good-bye to my dad and good-luck to Paula, (my dad’s home health aide) and drove about 45 minutes north to my parents’, and my, small midwestern hometown of Piqua, Ohio. There we met about a dozen or more of Mom’s friends from high school for their monthly lunch that Mom hasn’t attended in over a year.

Mom brought three copies of Dancing in Heaven with her in a plastic Kroger’s bag. She was going to give one to the group that they could read and pass on. She had extras just in case. Instead of passing one around, three of her classmates bought her books. These are the young men and women who knew my mom before everything that occurs between the pages of Dancing in Heaven ever happened. They knew her when she was a relatively carefree, straight-A-student who got in trouble for talking too much in class.

And the really great thing about today, about old friends in general, and my mom’s friends in particular, is that they brought back that youthful girl. They provided a mirror that reflected back a part of my mom that has gotten trampled, beaten down, and spilled out through the course of a long life of caring for others and  the last several years that have been nearly too hard to bear.

Do I care that I sold three books today? Not so much. Do I care that my mom’s friends will be reading her story of commitment, devotion, untiring vigilance and compassion in the manner in which she (and my dad) picked up the responsibility for the care of my sister Annie and carried it for 51 years? More than you can know.

So here’s to grass roots book promotion and three books sold.


The latest of what readers are saying about Dancing in Heaven:

“I sat down and read it all in one sitting. And I’m never going to read it again. I had to take my glasses off and put them back on too many times.” Mom’s sister, my Aunt Sharon.

“I started reading your book this afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It’s a wonderful story.” My mother-in-law, Alberta Grote.

Self-publishing update: Now—marketing

Many of the self-publishing blog posts, articles, and books I’ve read make a comment that expresses the sentiment, “Authors struggle with promotion and marketing,” or “Marketing is where the real work begins.”  This is based on the general idea that many, if not most, writers are introverts.

Where I’m sitting right now, I couldn’t agree more. I feel completely out of my element. Where do I go? What do I do? Do I even want to peddle my work?

When I was in grade school, one of the clubs I was in, and it may have been Girl Scouts, had a fund raiser where we had to sell decorative glass candles door-to-door. I absolutely hated it. I remember thinking, I will never get a job where I have to sell things.

And look at me now.

In high school I was a cheer-leader. And every Friday during football or basketball season we had to sell a certain number of “tags,” for, I think it was,  25 or 50 cents. They were a football or basketball sticker attached to a ribbon of about 2 inches wide by 5 or 6 inches long printed with a very spirited message like “Blast the Bears” or “Cream the Cougars.” Students were encouraged to buy and then wear the tags to build interest in the upcoming game and rally team spirit. Quite pragmatically, it was a lucrative fund-raiser for the cheer-leaders.

I hated having to sell all my tags. I had to spend the morning, and sometimes the whole day, before and between classes trying to coerce or cajole fellow classmates into forking over 50 cents for a tag. I’ll never forget the two quiet guys who sat near me in my homeroom, my early targets. I think their names were Nick Simpson and Ned Steinke, or maybe Nick Steinke and Ned Simpson; it’s been a long time. I didn’t know them outside of school, or outside of my homeroom, really, but they were kind, and sweet, and rather quiet, and always willing to buy my tags.

Looking back on my fairly short self-publishing journey, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. But the book has been written, edited, rewritten, re-edited, formatted into print and ebooks, a cover designed, summary and blurbs generated, and an ISBN assigned with a bar code generated. My book is for sale in print at, (and surprisingly to me, at B&N online), and as an ebook on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook (although there is something very funky going on with the title that I will have to get to the bottom of), and Smashwords in multiple formats. I discovered today that the ebook is even for sale in other countries, giving me a little chuckle. Check out these links:
Dancing in Heaven in the DE Kindle store and France Kindle store

I have so many Dancing-in-Heaven-for-sale pages out there that I am trying to figure out how to keep it all straight. You would think books would be flying off the shelves or ebooks would be shooting across the airwaves. You would think the books would just be selling themselves.

Not so.

I believe what I read; now is when the real work begins.

Today I’m going to re-read Chapters 10 and 11, on platforms and promotion, in April L. Hamilton’s The Indie Author GuideI’m familiar with the material, having read it before, but this time I’m taking, as my college professor Dr. Bobal used to say, copious notes.

All advice, suggestions and/or help welcome and appreciated.