Selling My Books: Caz Greenham, Children’s Author

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Head and shoulders of Caz Greenham

Caz Greenham, children’s author

I was introduced to children’s author Caz Greenham by Helen Hart at SilverWood Books who have published the first two volumes in her series of children’s stories about her character Eric Seagull.

Caz has since moved to Brixham in Devon, her favourite seaside resort which originally inspired her to write about Eric’s adventures. Her bubbly personality and willingness to talk to strangers about her book has given her legendary powers when it comes to handselling copies wherever she goes.

I’m sure there are plenty more adventures to follow, for both Eric and for Caz!

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Caz Greenham: My best tip is talk about your book after, never before, you’ve finished your business, i.e. at the bank, or a transaction in a superstore etc. and have either a bookmark or a business card to hand over. And smile while showing your enthusiasm about your books that you’ve taken millions of hours to write. Look them in the eye. Very important.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Caz Greenham: Because I actually believe in myself. I know I’ve written a fabulous children’s book with great characters that bring my books to life. I like people and I love to chat.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Caz Greenham: I talk about my books to everyone and anyone. So, everyone is a customer. ‘Do it all the time’

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Cover of Eric Seagull Book 1

Eric Seagull’s first adventure

Caz Greenham: I wouldn’t do anything any differently with any new books.

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Caz Greenham: The worst part for me would have to be public speaking. I’ve health/voice issues which prevent me from talking for very long. So that would never be an option for me, and one I would avoid at all cost. It’s not a confidence thing. I’ve plenty of that.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Caz Greenham:  I’d love to talk about my book in front of a room of people. I can’t. That’ll never take place. (see above)

Cover of Eric Seagull Book 2

Eric Seagull returns for more fun

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Caz Greenham: I have to say that Caz’s Blog Diary (Caz’s personal blog, accessible from a link on her author website) isn’t perhaps what others might expect – I’m doing it my way.

I see most authors simply interviewing other authors, and exchanging places on their blogs. I find this somewhat boring, mostly (Ed: except on this one!)

So, as you’ll see ‘I’m doing it my way’ here: http://cazgreenhamdotblogspotdotwordpressdotcom.wordpress.com/

I’m not climbing any Corporate Ladder of Success, here. I’m writing for me first, and the public second. I’ll always write to the best of my ability and hope my readers enjoy the journey with me.

I’m not one who finds it necessary to impress anyone with boring stats about sales of my books, and I never brag. I have no intention of joining the long ‘List of Boring Writers’ that appear to do just that most days on Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll never be that sad, for life is for living and enjoying and not, in my opinion, for trying to impress others along the way. I wonder what these writers expect to gain, I guess a big pat on the back and another click on the Like button.

Debbie Young: Caz, I’m sure our readers here will find your energy and enthusiasm uplifting and inspiring. Thank you so much for joining Off The Shelf today.

Find out more about Caz Greenham via www.cazgreenham.com – and if you follow her on Twitter, she’ll certainly liven up your timeline: @TheCazzz (yes, that IS meant to be 3 x z!)

To find out more about Caz’s impressive ability to sell her books wherever she goes, read my this post from the Off The Shelf archive:  How To Sell More Books By Seizing Handselling Opportunities

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Selling My Books: Isabel Burt’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Headshot of Isabel Burt

The author Isabel Burt

I met Isabel Burt through our mutual friends at author services provider SilverWood Books, and it’s been my pleasure to have helped her with some aspects of her book promotion.

Like her fellow SilverWood author Edward Hancox, interviewed here last week, Isabel is focusing on bookshops for her top tip, but this time on a single branch of a chain store in Milton Keynes, where she recently held a book signing event to mark her launch. Her experience shows that contrary to popular belief, the door of the big chains is open to self-published authors with the right approach.  

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Isabel Burt: As a new author, the thing I have most enjoyed so far, in terms of promotion, was my first book signing at Waterstones, in Milton Keynes. It took a level of calm persistence to persuade a store to take an entirely unknown, debut children’s fantasy novel, but I am so glad I succeeded. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with the young readers and their parents about Toxics, and other novels they are currently reading. I think I learnt more than them, on the day! My tip, therefore, would be not to ignore the valuable and enriching experience of getting out and about – it is not about profit, but of other incalculable benefits.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Isabel Burt: How did I begin, with absolutely no experience? First I read your wonderful book, Sell Your Books!, and then having thrown it down, thinking I could never do any of those things, I left my writing cocoon, and began. I approached all local bookshops, either in person or by phone. It was pre-Christmas so this was a terrible time to begin, but there was no choice. I followed up by sending them further information, and then further calls or visits. Within a couple of months I had my book on the shelves at three stores, four libraries, and my first book signing!

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Isabel Burt: Why I choose this as my favourite, new promotional activity, is that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with the young readers and their parents about Toxics, and other novels they are currently reading. I think I learnt more than them, on the day!

Isabel signing books instore

Signing books at Waterstones, Milton Keynes

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Isabel Burt: I chose to do book signings, for Toxics, because it is my first novel, and needs to be publicised within my local community, as well as through online social media. For the sequel, Oceans, I will not hesitate to continue building on any foundations with bookstores, as the whole booksigning event brought a feeling of resolution and reality to the experience of writing and publishing a novel.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Isabel Burt: How I might do things differently next time would be to promote the event further in advance. I only turned my attention to the first event about 10 days beforehand. I contacted my local radio station, and a local newspaper, but I see I could have made even better use of these two friendly and supportive avenues. The next store has asked for my posters as soon as possible, which surprised me, but had me realising that I should work further in advance, myself.

Debbie Young:Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Isabel Burt: I know I am not alone in this, but I least like having to address the demands of social media, with respect to promotion as an author. I accept this is important and invaluable, and I do enjoy making new friends in the author community during the process, but I find it hard to find discipline and direction, sometimes, in this arena, in spite of the wonderful articles that exist to help authors do so!

Cover of Toxics by Isabel Burt

Having a beautiful book cover helps persuade store managers to host book signing events

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Isabel Burt: I know what I would like to now try, is teaching Creative Writing. alongside continuing to write regularly. Whilst not being a strictly promotional activity, I feel sure this will still quietly enhance my promotional activities, and build a strong foundation for me as a writer.

Debbie Young:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Isabel Burt: Sales and promotion are so important, but the energy that keeps me going, is simply my love of writing – most particularly for young readers. My own childhood was spent with a book glued to my nose from the moment I had finally mastered the hieroglyphs on the page. It still gives me a thrill to imagine I have taken a young reader away to the land of my story, if only for a few hours! I hope to finish the sequel, Oceans, this coming winter of 2014, which continues the story of Felicity and Reuben in their primitive, mystical Old World.

I will be in Waterstones, Market Harborough, Northamptonshire, on Saturday May 24th, signing copies of TOXICS, with great pleasure!

Find out more about Isabel Burt and her writing on her website: www.isabelburt.com.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Why Even Household Names Must Promote Their Books

English: Jamie Oliver in Toronto

Ask yourself: “What would Jamie do?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With 96 days to go till Christmas, the bookies are already taking bets on which book will be the 2012 Christmas bestseller.

It’s a dead cert that the bestselling author will be a household name. The smart money’s currently on Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals, with  J K Rowling’s first book for adults, A Casual Vacancy, a close contender.

But are these celebrity writers resting on their laurels, confident that their books will fly off the shelves of bookstores? Oh, no. You can bet they’ll be out there working their Christmas stockings off.

Some top-selling authors make the act of book promotion look like an easy pleasure. Jamie Oliver is definitely one of them. Comfortable in the public eye, he is a natural self-promoter. Whether fronting lucrative supermarket television commercials or campaigning for less glamorous causes such as the improvement of school dinners, he is a great and charming self-publicist. Would he sell so many books if he retired from public life? No, and he knows it. There are plenty more food writers out there keen to take his place, and to work just as hard at book promotion as he does in order to get there.

You might think that for J K Rowling, it would be a different matter. She’s renowned for her reclusive habits. Her publishers’ publicists have cleverly turned her reclusiveness into a talking point. As Greta Garbo discovered, wanting to be alone can be very alluring. The rarity of J K Rowling‘s public appearances inflates their value. But even she is going to be stepping out next month to promote her new book, a risky departure into what is for her a whole new genre, adult fiction. She’s headlining at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature.

So if, as the winter nights close in, you feel weary of the marketing merry-go-round, comfort yourself that you are in good company. And then cheer yourself up by making a list of all the things you can do to make extra sales in the run-up to Christmas.

For some ideas for your Christmas marketing campaign, read this post: Festive Opportunities To Sell More Books

How To Win New Readers Through Engagement with Schools

Author Helen Hart with a young boy reading her book The Black Banner

Photo by Clint Randall, Pixel PR Photography

If you are a children’s writer, there’s a annual gift of an opportunity to raise your public profile within schools. Now in its 15th year, it’s called World Book Day and has been designated  by UNESCO as a global celebration of books and reading. Generous sponsorship from the publishing industry funds free resources – not least a funky website – to inspire teachers and school librarians to join in the celebrations at their school. In the UK, this includes the provision of a free £1 book token for every child and the production of a special set of books that will cost just £1 each – so every child can buy a new book, even if they have no money of their own. Alternatively the voucher can be used towards the purchase of any book in all participating bookshops.

It’s a relatively easy way for schools to promote literacy in a cool way that really draws kids in – and to foster the next generation of book buyers! It’s an unusual school that lets the day pass by unmarked. Consequently, for this one day at the beginning of March, there is a huge demand from schools for visiting authors.

And this is where you come in. Visiting a local school is a great way to raise your author profile locally – and to sell more of your books.

What should the visit comprise? Well, it’s up to you to negotiate with the school. It might simply be a case of giving a short talk to the whole school at an assembly, or they might like you to visit each class or English lesson. Whether or not you’re a household name, the children will view you as a real celebrity and will be eager to ask you lots of questions (not necessarily the ones you expect!) The school might also like to use your visit to mark a particular occasion, for example, opening a new library.

Helen Hart, author of young adult pirate novel The Black Banner, was welcomed to Hawkesbury Primary School on World Book Day by a school hall full of young pirates. Even the school dinner menu adopted a pirate theme in her honour – Chicken Peg Legs and The Windies (baked beans), anyone? Spending time with each class, helping the older ones polish their writing skills and the younger ones develop their own stories orally, Helen wove a very special day that the children will remember for the rest of their lives (as, I suspect, will Helen!)

If you can come up with an attractive visit programme and approach a school in a timely and appropriate way,  you should be assured of an eager reception. Obviously it’s easier to do this if you write books that are targeted at the age group of the children you’re visiting, but that doesn’t have to be the case. At secondary schools, careers-oriented talks may also be welcome. Fantasy writer Richard Denning, whose young adult books focus on time travel and great historic events,  has addressed not just English lessons but also history and science classes with great success.

Don’t expect to sell many books on the day. Schools will be wary of asking children to bring in large sums of money, not only to avoid pilfering, but also because it is unfair on those who are less well off. But what you can expect, with a little forward planning, is a bevy of great photos of you engaging young readers (get your book  clearly in shot wherever possible!), a great local paper story, some nice material for your author website and social media pages, and a lot of local goodwill and word-of-mouth recommendations. You may even get invited to more schools or other local venues for an  action replay.

Author Helen Hart opens new library at Hawkesbury Primary School

Photo by Clint Randall, Pixel PR Photography

The plaque commemorating Helen Hart officially opening  the new school library will  subtly advertise for her book for generations of Hawkesbury pupils to come.  Richard Denning’s successful trip to a local school led to an invitation from Lichfield Library to talk about Time Travel in Science Fiction to a much wider audience as part of its Scintillating Science Day (for which the library also bought and displayed some copies of his book).

Of course, you don’t have to wait till World Book Day to take the plunge. Schools actively promote a love of books all year round and will never be offended by the offer of an author’s visit, especially if you don’t charge for it. (They may be sympathetic to paying your travel expenses, if absolutely necessary, but don’t expect a state school to have a budget to pay you a fee.) To find out the best person to approach about a potential visit, call the school office for advice. They may suggest the Literacy Coordinator in a primary school and Head of English in a secondary school, unless your book genre suggests a different route, or the Head in a small school, but be guided by them. And don’t be frustrated if your recommended contact is slow to respond. Teachers have restricted access to phones and emails during the school day and will respond at a time that suits them. Replying at their leisure will make for a more relaxed conversation and a more favourable result for you.

So go on, get in touch with your local school and give it your best shot. Good luck and enjoy your school visits – and do let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear from you!

(PS If you can afford it or persuade a volunteer to help, it’s worth taking along a professional photographer to get really good pics with all these young models (with the school’s permission, of course). I have to thank my very helpful friend and fabulous press and PR photographer Clint Randall of Pixel PR Photography for these stunning photos and many more like them! )

How Local Events Can Help You Sell Books

Pip Westgate's first novelHad a great evening promoting books at my daughter’s school’s Christmas Shopping Evening tonight.  (Well, Christmas does start early in primary schools!)  Don’t discount these small local events as useful shop-windows for your books – they’re great for networking too.

To get the most out of these opportunities, do your research first to make sure  they’re the right match for your kind of book.  At this event, I knew that most shoppers would by definition be looking for presents for children of primary school age.  I also knew from last year’s event that items retailing at £5-£10 were the most popular.  So I took along some books that matched both of these criteria.

Guessing that it would mostly be the mums rather than the dads who came, I also took a few books that would be great gifts for husbands.  But although I chatted to quite a few people about the adult books, it was the children’s books that they snapped up.

Best seller of the night was Pip Westgate’s Bear and the Gitxsan Child – a thrilling adventure set in the wilds of Canada, suitable for boys and girls aged 9+.  This book draws on native Canadian legend for colour and excitement.  The snowy scene on the cover may have added a subliminal Christmas link!  I even managed to persuade a Canadian lady to buy one – how about that for selling ice-cubes to eskimos?  Find out more about this book at http://www.pipwestgate.wordpress.com.

So there could be a few children in my village curled up with his book on Christmas nights.  As for me, I’ll be getting stuck into Pip’s latest manuscript, which weaves ancient Egyptian mythology into his next adventure.  Sounds  a warmer option in the current frosty weather…