This is not the first award for Code Name Sonny, it has also received Honorable Mention, at the Hollywood Book Festival, Beach Book Awards, Paris Book Festival and New York Book Festival.
What's this book about?
It’s 1942. Joe is representative of many young American men of his generation: America and its Allies are at war with the Germans and the Japanese, and this New Hampshire teenager wants to be in the thick of it.
Here is a look at what is inside the book:
It was a spring day in 1944 when Joe and Raymond raced each other to town moments after the closing school bell rang. The sun felt warm on their skin, but as they raced through the school’s front gate, chilly gusts reminded them that shards of winter were still in the air. It was still not warm enough to go outdoors without their winter coats; that time of year when you need to carry one, just in case.
But the weather wasn’t top of mind for the two friends today. The boys were on a special mission that afternoon: They wanted to be the first to see what was causing the biggest buzz of excitement they could recall in their quiet town.
Apparently, the FBI had arrested the owner of the Always Inn & Tavern in town. Mr. Leopold Von Sliedricht was charged with being a Nazi spy. Von Sliedricht was a White Russian who employed Jewish workers at his establishment, so no one in town ever suspected a traitor in their midst.
The FBI had been tracking Von Sliedricht’s activities and correspondence for months; acting on a series of tips they had received from Von Sliedricht’s disgruntled wife.
The boys raced down Lincoln Street, coats open to the wind, hair flying wildly, heaving breath casting frosty explosions as they dodged cars and leapt over potholes, too excited even to speak.
Occasionally, they glanced at each other in silent disbelief that World War II had encroached on their sleepy New England town.
Turning on Main Street, Joe and Raymond skidded to a halt at a makeshift roadblock that kept cars and pedestrians from the scene. Town police stood at guard behind wooden barriers that had been brought there from townsfolk workshops and barns.
Behind the police line, 11 men in dark suits and hats carrying Tommy guns were directing Army personnel with mine detectors, poking at the bushes around the establishment, and raising cellar doors at the back of the tavern. Meanwhile, a steady stream of National Guardsmen went in and out of the inn’s front entrance, carrying crates to two waiting Army trucks, where they were stacked row upon row. Six Army soldiers with rifles kept a watchful eye over the loading operation.
About Ken Pottie:
Ken graduated with a B.A from Norwich University and an MBA from University of New Haven. He spent 13 years in military service in the Army, leaving at the rank of Major. During that time, Ken served as a company commander during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, earned the Bronze Star, Kuwait Liberation Medal and Combat Air Medal. To learn more about Ken go to www.kenpottie.net.
by Laura L. Valenti
Recently, a few media contacts, I’ve been working on, in some cases, for a full year, have finally come to fruition. In June 2010, my first novel, The Heart of the Spring, was published and I began the media chase to get the needed publicity to sell books. After all, publication is just the first BIG step.
Unless your name is Stephen King or John Grisham, your next BIG step is marketing and that takes as much, if not more time, sweat and energy than writing the book in the first place.
The Heart of the Spring, a historical novel set in 1924 tells the story of the beginning of Missouri’s first state park, Bennett Spring in southwest Missouri. As an area resident for over 30 years, I’ve written several historical articles on Bennett Spring for various publications. With that foundation, I placed a fictional family in the 1924 Ozarks and voíla, a novel was born. I’ve been blessed in that it has been well received by reviewers and readers, selling more than 700 copies in just over a year. The Bennett Spring Park Store concessionaire sells it in his store as do several other local stores. It is available on my website BetweentheStarandtheCross.com as well as Infinity’s website. In August 2011, the sequel, was also released. The Heart of the Spring Lives On picks up the story and same characters, 11 years later. In 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was in the park (and many other parks across the nation), building the many features we know today as Bennett Spring State Park. Many who have read it, are already asking, when will the third one be available? (The answer: The Heart of the Spring Forevermore will be available next summer.)
Even so, one must continue to court the media and recently, it occurred to me that this is the very same struggle we face with editors and publishers. Once again, we, the writers, must present our work in an abbreviated form as we try to convince the local newspaper editor, commentator, or radio show host that our book is of interest to the general public and worth a few column inches or a bit of their air time. And once again, we run into the same obstacles. What if the media person we are writing to, emailing, calling or otherwise attempting to contact (dare I say FACEBOOKing or Tweeting?) doesn’t like our topic or knows nothing of it?
Years ago, my first book by a traditional publisher was about adoption, but when I was interviewed by a single man on television, it was disastrous. And then there are editors and news folks who are too busy, overwhelmed, or ‘scared’ of independently published authors.
When an article I’d been working on for nearly a year came out in the newspaper the night before a book signing, the result was 26 books sold at a very small book store on Labor Day weekend. And in early October, I was interviewed on a local TV talk show. The interviewer told me beforehand, he loved historical novels!
Just like when writing the book, a writer cannot allow herself to become overly discouraged. When the media seems to ignore your efforts—learn to bide your time, try a different reporter or a different approach, just like you would with a publisher, an agent, or an editor. Keep your professional ‘cool’, keep working, keep praying! and you will prevail.
Laura L. Valenti has been blessed to be a Bennett Spring resident and a freelance writer for over 30 years. She has written more than 500 newspaper and magazine features, including several on the history of the state park. She is the author of two non-fiction books and two previous novels. She and her husband, Warren, recently retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation, are the parents of four grown children and grandparents to five grandsons, all of whom still love to fish at Bennett Spring. The Heart of the Spring is also available on her website www.betweenthestarandthecross.com.
With all the talk of Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other social media, we often forget how we used to promote a book: locally. Many books that hit big success did so by building a regional buzz. But regional seems a lot less sexy these days and often gets overlooked. If media is being pursued, it’s often on a national level, bypassing individual markets altogether.
One of the things I’ve found about regional promotion is that it can often surprise you. When we worked on The Kennedy Detail last November, we had enormous success regionally, while major stations and national markets seemed to lag in interest for this exceptional title. In fact, I believe that part of the reason this book hit the bestseller list was because of the regional buzz.
If you’re wondering how regional coverage can affect your success, let me tell you another story. Some years back two women inLouisianawrote a Cajun cookbook. Now, if any of you have been toLouisianayou know that there are hundreds of Cajun cookbooks, nothing really unique there, right? But these women figured that out and decided instead of trying to do a national push, they would focus regionally. They were everywhere: airports, drycleaners, coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants. The result? They built exceptional buzz for this book and ended up getting the attention of aNew Yorkpublisher who offered them a big deal to buy the book. Sometimes small can be big.
So, what would regional pitching look like for you? Well, my recommendation to any author is saturate your market. Make sure everyone in your city or town knows about you and what you’re doing. Additionally, you don’t need to just focus on your region, you could expand this out to other parts of the country as well. If the idea of pitching regionally has piqued your interest, here are some ways to make it work:
Don’t repurpose national pitches: This is a big one. I don’t recommend that you use your national pitches for your local market. Local cares about local and even though every station will report on major national stories, it’s always best if they have a regional tie-in.
Get to know your area: This is especially true if you’re pitching outside of your market. Get to know the nuances of the market you are going after. Know their hot buttons and then decide whether your story can tie into them. But regardless, you want to understand the market you are pitching.
Local media varies: Local media will vary depending on the region you’re in. For some markets print has the biggest voice, for others it’s broadcast. By digging into your area and getting to know the region, important segments will start to become apparent. For example, in areas that have a lot of morning shows they will generally have a pretty balanced broadcast and print consumption. But other areas might surprise you. For example, I just moved fromSan Diego where, despite the size of the city, they only have one paper serving it: The San Diego Union Tribune. If you don’t make it into that paper, you’re not in great shape. Especially if your regional campaign is heavily driven to print. The flip side of this is that this city has a lot of great broadcast opportunities both in TV and radio, so your time might be better spent there.
Tailor, tailor, tailor: Don’t forget that local matters so you’ll want to make sure and position your pitch on a local angle.
Getting to know you: It’s easier than ever to get to know a market by reading, listening, or watching online. This will help you identify reporters, journalists, and radio hosts who might have a keen interest in what you are pitching.
Event pitching: Regional media loves talking about events and other tie-ins. One of the best ways to get local media is by doing an event.
Getting into Bookstores: If your goal is to get bookstores to place orders, a regional push can help there as well. If you’re doing events or media locally, this will help drive readers into the stores and the numbers start adding up, which could encourage bookstores to order more copies!
Small is big: When we pitch regionally, we never overlook the small, local papers. Often they are the freebies you get in supermarkets. I have found that they are often very well-read in the community and can help to drive a lot of interest to your book or event. They are sometimes difficult to find though and don’t always show up in media databases. Having someone in the area is great to help identify these local publications. If you don’t have anyone locally, call the bookstore where you’re doing an event, and if there isn’t an event as part of this media push, call the local supermarket and ask them!
Getting focused regionally can be a great enhancement to any campaign. It’s also a great way to bring longevity to a marketing push. Regional markets aren’t always as hung up on book release dates as bigger, national markets are so the window is much wider here for pitching.
Image by Ambrozjo.
From time to time we see articles that are well written and provide good information in clear and simple language to help our authors. This month’s article is written by Sunny Nash and it does a great job of discussing some of the core components of Internet marketing and how to achieve success.
Get Free and Effective Online Book Marketing, Author Publicity and Brand Equity
To sell books, authors use social media networks as marketing tools for building brand equity and getting free book publicity by sharing online conversations, posts, book excerpts, links, videos, photographs and text files with family, friends, fans and professionals.
Book and eBook authors are creating internet presence using social media and free internet publicity tools by marketing books and services using internet communities, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Digg. In addition, there are free opportunities to market books on Google and Yahoo through their search engine submission services, communities and blogs.
By having your book appear on all or some of these websites, you can begin to build brand equity, the perceived value assigned to your name, the name of your book and your services in the marketplace, which in this case, is the internet. As you build a target audience that has an interest in you, your name, book and services derive real commercial value to accompany your brand equity, causing your stock to rise, so to speak, and allowing you to cash in on your name and reputation.
Using a larger group of online fans on Facebook, for instance, you can further define smaller communities to build around you as an author, expert and public speaker, establishing yourself as an authority and giving this target audience a better chance to get to know you. Acquaintance with what you have to say could encourage an online fan or friend to consider hiring you to speak to their civic, social or professional group. which may lead to consulting contracts in your professional area.
Many authors write books as extensions of articles and in-depth investigatory projects that may have been part of their academic curriculum, research, literary collections or newspaper and magazine columns. With this professional background, authors can truthfully claim a specialty in particular professions and bill themselves as such. Other authors have written books about their hobbies, such as gardening, cooking, design, sewing, dance, boating, travel, photography. Get the picture? Don't forget to take pictures and video to use in your online marketing or eBook production.
With all those text files, photographs and video, collected for your book or eBook, you can now generate scripts for a video production or a series of video projects for YouTube, adding to the amount of free book publicity available to you. Videos can give potential audiences a chance to see and hear a sample of your presentation. Try to make this presentation into a mini production and not just a talking head. Add graphics, photographs or other video clips over your voice to give the presentation interest and additional value. Videos can be made into book trailers, short author biographies and video business cards. You may need a bit of professional assistance to get your video project started. The more professional your video productions look, the more likely they are to be picked up by other video services, giving you even more exposure, free book publicity and brand equity.
Whatever your reason for writing a book, it doesn't take a large number of internet fans, friends and followers to effect the momentum you need for success as an author, expert, public speaker and professional consultant. One online contact is all it takes to get the free book publicity sequence started. You tell the audience you are available for personal appearances, public speaking events, book signing engagements, consulting and coaching; and then direct them to your internet pages to read about you, your book and your professional specialty. Imagine, one contact responds to your message. There you go! But remember, no one can read your mind or between the lines. Spell out clearly what action you want your audience to take. Then give them step-by-step instructions on how they should take each action.
- Buy your book?
- Hire you to speak?
- Contract with you as a consultant?
- Employ you for staff coaching?
Social media networks can help you build relationships and establish or enhance your internet presence because, within social media networks, you can create interest groups with whom you may talk about appropriately selected topics. If you are an author, these topics should include your book, a point of interest for online and live audiences, as well. Most times the intrigue my audiences have with me as an author is the fact that I have done what many people in the audience either want to do or think they can do--write a book. Many questions center on the writing process. Don't discourage their curiosity. Use whatever you have to capture interest. Then, show them a video and talk about your book, how you went about writing your book and how your book supports your consulting specialty.
- The facts are these.
- Technology allows us to tell our online friends, fans and followers about our books
- Internet communities can be supportive of our books and events
- Audiences must believe we are being informative rather than exploitive
- You are not allowed to sell books and services in some online communities
Some websites that do not allow you to sell your book or services may still be a great place for branding your name and book. Beyond official policies, community members have their own ways to deal with those who deviate from accepted community conduct. Many members belong to several similar online groups and will be on the lookout for you and your tactics. They have the option of removing your posts from their pages where their friends may have seen your posts; or they can de-friend or un-follow you. Like in the community where you live, your un-neighborly reputation will follow you from community to community, where you will eventually find yourself friendless and alone with no book sales, speaking events or consulting contracts.
- Be Subtle
- Tell Your Story
- Don't Sell
Evolving social media marketing for free publicity and brand equity can lead to book and services sales and public speaking events. However, the use of social media can backfire! If members of your online communities believe you are trying to take advantage of them, they will reject your message. Remember, these are real people, not inanimate technology or extensions of search engines. Make sure what you are offering--how-to instructions, free sample products, gifts, coupons, discounts, invitations, advice, jokes or whatever--is something they can see as being useful in their lives or careers.
In your social media network or online professional community, treat people with respect. Speak to them as equals and communicate with them in the same way you would communicate with friends in other areas of your life. If you do not treat people with regard, you will alienate your potential target audience and you will not receive an abundance of book sales or invitations for public speaking events or consulting and services contracts.
ALL OF THIS may sound foreign and daunting, but effective book marketing through social media can be achieved easily by grouping friends and fans into categories to suit the conversations and discussions you intend to share with each online group. Conversations, discussions and posting can lead your target audience to read an excerpt from your book, an excerpt that you can upload in an online press release or article. Write your own promotional materials. You can do this! After all, you wrote a book!
My college journalism professor and advisor at Texas A&M University, the late Skip Leabo, told me, "If you can write, then you can write your own ticket to a good life." Skip gave me that nugget before we arrived at the door of the World Wide Web. It took me a number of years to understand exactly what he meant. Now, I know. As the writer, I can assume an active role in my destiny.
- Write my books using online tools
- Use free technology to publicize my events
- Shape public opinion about my books
- Brand my name and my titles
As an author you will most likely want to join author groups online to increase your visibility among other authors, publishers and literary agents. Literary agents and publishers are attracted to author groups because these groups provide a large talent pool. Also, author groups give you unlimited possibilities for enhancing the standing of your book, while creating a community with whom you can share your book, press releases, articles and author biography.
Further, your membership in social media networks gives members a chance to share their books, articles and press releases, giving you the opportunity to comment on those pages. Comments on other writers' pages can get you professional recognition, which will lead readers to your website or blog that contains your information and excerpts. On those pages, potential target audiences can get a taste of your creative side and a glimpse of who you are. Your social media community may read your author biography and book excerpt, and be inspired to invite you to speak in front of their group.
Once you get yourself comfortably in front of an audience at a public speaking event, you can deliver your message about your book, let people get to know you and, at the same time, persuade them that you are knowledgeable about writing, editing, marketing or other services you offer for a fee. In front of your audience, you can sell yourself, reserve further public speaking events, and attract lucrative consulting contracts. All of this can be accomplished using social media. Be sure not to use hard-selling tactics in public speaking events. The best way to sell anything--anything at all--is to sound not like a salesperson, but to sound like a friend.
To take full advantage of your social media network, you could invite your local social media community to an event you have arranged or one in which you have been invited to participate. At these events, you have the opportunity to place your book on the table at the back of the room. If you wrote an eBook, your sales will be handled exclusively through the internet, perfect for involving your social media network because the internet is the location of the community and also the location where they purchase the eBook.
LET'S HOPE you have written a book that excites people, a book they will share with their network and so on and so on. That makes your book excerpts nearly as important as the book itself. So, pay attention to what you post because the excerpt will either cause your community to attend an event or make them want to read more of your book and make the purchase. Your social media network can help you sell book and get public speaking events if you provide them with as many places as possible to read about you. Press release publishing websites will publish and distribute well-written press releases and articles, which will get you free book publicity. Check them out and pick a couple of websites to start.
Press releases accomplish a number of goals, including free book publicity and getting your biography and data files into the hands of folks who can hire you to speak to their groups. How Authors Use Social Media Networking to Sell Books will help you learn more about using the internet to promote your books and career.
Online press release services are not all the same. Write an article and upload it. Be prepared to wait a few days while some services review your article. If it is accepted and published, check your search engine ranking after a couple of days and see if the website is working for you. If not, move on to another one. In some cases, it is not the website, it your writing that is not working for the search engines. Be aware that writing for internet distribution and search engine optimization is a different type of writing.
As you write more for internet distribution you will need to learn about headline writing for search engines, text optimization and keyword strategies. Involve your social media network in getting you book sales and public speaking engagements by providing the network a means of purchasing your book or eBook. This can be done through your website, blog, press releases or articles, all posted online for the convenience of your network. The challenge in selling online is having a method of receiving payments.
There are numerous methods available. Do research and find one that suits your needs. When you secure a public speaking engagement, you have the opportunity to hand out printed materials that include a biography, book ordering information and other pertinent files that your audience may access on the internet. Other files may include the site addresses of internet press releases about your and your book, online articles and reviews about your book, and postings and reviews you have contributed on others' writing blogs and websites.
SOCIAL MEDIA tactics such as those I have suggested will not work for you unless have an online presence. If you don't have an online presence, get one. Your social media network will expect someone who professes to be an author, expert and public speaker to have a viable online presence. Here are suggestions to help you get started.
- Post a Blog
- Develop a Website
- Write Internet Press Releases
- Distribute Online Articles
To acquire public speaking engagements, online press releases about your book should have appropriate contact information. Some services have contact information categories in which you can include as little or as much as you like, from email only to physical address. Be careful about the amount and nature of the information you post. What you place on the internet is likely to stay on the internet. Use caution in what you put out there, including specific fee quotes. Because of the delicate nature of pricing, talk about fees on a project by project basis in proposal estimates. However, a list of services with corresponding costs is acceptable as long as you include a disclaimer about price changes. You might want to mention whether or not you are willing to travel and what your requirement are.
For those in the audience that may wish to contact you later, when they need your services, provide them with an easy way to do that. As mentioned before, in the handout, include your contact information. And please do not forget about the trusted old-fashioned business card and don't rely on your audience to keep up with your business card. They have picked up several at your event that do not belong to you. Get their business cards, all of them so you can contact them for followup meetings, email addresses and social media relationships. In your online publicity and at public speaking events, be sure to offer helpful suggestions. Good suggestions will encourage your audience to accept your offers for social media relationships.
In your presentation, try to refer to your own book or your own work. If you are an author with your own book on the table at the back of the room, promote your book and your work in your speech and also in your handouts, prepared in advance. If your book has been honored, mention it in your online press releases and other publicity. Also in the audience handout include a statement about your writing honors or awards your book may have received to make yourself more attractive as a prospective public speaker and consulting contractor, friend and follower in social media networks.
At your speaking events, don't forget to read a passage or two from your book, regardless of its genre. In the reading, showcase your writing style to acquaint the audience with the book you are asking them to buy. Don't be too dry in your presentation, but try not to be overly dramatic. That can sound phony Be sincere. Sincerity counts in every word you write, every speech you make, everything comment you post, every book you sell, everything you do.
Sunny Nash is author of "Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's," recognized by the Association of American University Presses for understanding race relations in America; and listed in Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the New York Schomburg Center and the Florida's Miami-Dade Library System Native American collections. Her work is in African American National Biography by Harvard and Oxford; African American West, Reflections in Black, History of Black Photography; Ancestry; Companion to Southern Literature; Black Genesis: Resource Book for African-American Genealogy; African American Foodways; Southwestern American Literature; Source: a guidebook to American genealogy; Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies; Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics; Ebony; Southern Exposure; Hidden Sources and others. Nash won California writing fellowships in 2003 and 2010, won 2004 Charter Communications' TV award and nominated for a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. http://sunnynash.blogspot.com/p/bigmama-didnt-shop-at-woolworths.html
Image courtesy of Billy Alexander.
by D.L. Wilson
Book signings are very important avenues for new authors to gain readers and improve visibility in the market place. I’ve learned through a great deal of trial and error while promoting my first novel Unholy Grail what works and what to be cautious of in the fiction arena. I’m polishing the signing approach with my latest thriller Sirocco.
When planning a signing it is important to determine the best day and time for each particular retail location. Check out the volume of customers by stopping by the store at various times. I’ve found that, in general, Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons are good times. Ask the community relations manager or store manager for their recommendations. Also be sure to arrive early so that you are prepared when the store sets up your signing table.
Provide the store with materials to promote your signing. Posters highlighting your book and signing should be provided along with digital photo files of you and your book cover. Some of the larger book stores like Barnes & Noble can make posters through their corporate system to promote your signing using your digital files. Free book marks in presentation cases that mention the date and time of your signing could be provided to be displayed at the cash registers and information booths. Notify local newspapers about your signings in their areas for possible media attention.
Ask the book store to place your signing in the front of the store near the entrance. That will allow you to be able to approach customers as they enter the store. That “first impression” is very important in attracting the attention of a potential buyer of your signed novel. As customers enter the store approach each one and offer them a book mark that promotes your novel. Most people coming to a book store will accept a free book mark even though they may not stop and look at your book. As they go through the store they will glance at your book mark and if the blurbs and synopsis are powerful, many will return to review your novel and hopefully purchase a signed copy.
An image, like a picture, is worth a thousand words. Dress according to your audience and provide posters or banners on stands next to your signing table to draw customers to your book. Once someone picks up your book and reviews the contents, offer to answer any questions. Provide clear, concise information about the plot, characters, and research you may have done to write the book. Be sure your comments create a powerful incentive to buy a signed copy.
D.L. Wilson was president, CEO, and managing director of U.S. and European corporations and consultant to industries and governments in 32 countries. His extensive international travel spawned a fascination with world cultures and exotic locales. His first book, The Kitchen Casanova--A Gentleman's Guide to Gourmet Entertaining for Two, was featured on CNN, Evening Magazine, and Regis & Kathy Lee. Wilson's first novel, Unholy Grail, became a national bestseller and is being translated into eight languages. He has received praise from New York Times bestselling thriller authors. Clive Cussler called Unholy Grail 'a tale rich with intrigue that grips the imagination. A must read.' James Rollins said Wilson's latest novel Sirocco is both a razor-edged thriller and a tour de force. Steve Berry said D.L. Wilson is a wry, appealing voice in the thriller world. www.dlwilsonbooks.com