Category Archives: marketing

query letters, websites, blogging, finding a personal platform, social networking sites

Raleigh LGBT Center Author’s Event

The second local authors’ reading and book signing was held at the Raleigh LGBT Center on Sunday afternoon October 13th.  I participated in the first one in August.  This event included three very different authors.  Jimmy Creech’s book “Adam’s Gift” recounts his experience as a former United Methodist Church pastor and his crusade to change the official doctrine of the church that classifies the LGBT community as second-class members who are restricted in many opportunities for membership and service and specifically prohibited from marriage in the church.  He has done many book tours all across the country and is well known for his position as a martyr because he was forced to give up his credentials after many years of service.

“AD 2040” is the work of a pen name author Grantham West, who wrote a science fiction novel speculating on the take-over of the United States by the radical right in a theocracy. The American Economy has suffered its second depression, gone through bankruptcy and the collapse of the Federal Government.  The long-neglected HIV/AIDS epidemic is ravaging the country.  The religious right fundamentalists have dictated mandatory testing and proposed a shocking solution to the problem in the police state of America.  The situation in the 2007 book seems strikingly similar to today’s headlines. The author has worked as a volunteer with the local AIDS Service Alliance.

Melody Moezzi was perhaps the most surprising selection since she is a straight Iranian-American Muslim woman who also is a lawyer. She also suffers from the BiPolar disorder, and her memoir “Haldol and  Hyacinths: a Bipolar Life” describes the many forms of discrimination she has faced. Even her personal appearance defies the passive stereotype since she looks more like a rock star than a lawyer.


Authors, Librarian, and leader of Affirming Faith Forum at LGBT Center

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I just finished reading two more gay books that were the antithesis of each other.  Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee is about his journey from a fundamentalist Baptist background to acceptance of himself as a gay Christian.  The other was American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Sex, Love, and Politics by Sex Advice Columnist Dan Savage who is legally married to a gay partner, has been in a relationship for 18 years, and has a 15-year-old adopted son.  He is virulently anti-religion even though he was raised in a very strict Catholic home.  I won’t give a review of these books since I have written lengthy ones on Goodreads if you’re interested.

These books (and the one that I reviewed by Jeff Chu) are mainstream books and not from the gay press. Dan Savage has written five previous books and is editor of The Stranger, Seattle’s weekly newspaper and has become something of an outspoken gay media star.  Justin is the director of the organization and the web site He has a podcast and a regular weekly radio show.  In other words, they each have a strong platform even though they are directed to very different audiences, and they both went through a traditional publisher who helps in getting pre-publication reviews.

When publishers used to inquire about the platform of a prospective author, they wanted to know if he or she was a public speaker, what other books they had written, in what subjects were they considered experts, would they be willing to tour, etc.  Now it’s how many Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest followers do you have?  Are you on YouTube, and do you have a website, a blog, and a podcast?  If you are writing non-fiction, what is you niche (genre) and what is your hook?  If you’re self-published on Kindle, how many free downloads and reviews do you have?  Amazon ranks your book not only on sales but also on the number and ratings of your reviews.  Guy Kawasaki self-published his latest book, but only after he had become dissatisfied with the royalties and promotions of his traditional publisher.  He still used a traditional book publicist in addition to his website and blog, and of course he is a well-known public figure.

Book marketing and promotion is a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process.  In 2010 Jay Conrad Levinson Michael Larsen, and Rich Frishman updated the decade-old Guerilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Low-Cost, No-Cost Weapons for Selling Your Work.  This book is not focused specifically on books and includes ideas for freelance magazine writers. Media Bistro and Publisher’s Weekly are the trade publications/web sites.  The Australian writer Joanna Penn has an interesting web site and blog:  You can find dozens of book marketing/publicists, tips, websites, etc.  Take a look at








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Book Promotion

In reviewing some of my old posts, I was surprised that I had not written specifically about internet marketing strategies even though I have followed several web sites and blogs on this topic for the past three years. My focus has shifted recently from marketing strategies for freelance writers and small businesses to book promotions for authors since I have a new book.
In summary, the key seems to be getting book reviews and getting exposure through free giveaways either through Amazon or other book sellers. The premise is if you get enough people to read your book (with the incentive that they can read it for free) and you get enough good reviews, then that will start the log rolling and your standing and status will grow and thereby increase your sales.
Well, having been involved in various promotion and marketing strategies for more than 40 years, I understand there are more than one way to skin a cat. Of course, the cat now has become a virtual avatar rather than a live entity so some of the rules have changed. The primary difference now is that the techniques are cheaper, more targeted, and less focused on the mass media or direct personal contacts. The cliché of the author’s “platform” has changed from public visibility and expertise on a particular issue to simply broad exposure via as many social media outlets as possible.
You’ve got to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, have a blog and a web site; and for authors you need to be reviewed and read as widely and often as possible even if you have to give away your books to do so. The rationale is that you will build reader loyalty and thereby establish a brand. Well, that’s fine if you’re a best-selling author and you can “sell” your books, but I’m still cautious about how much you can earn if you continue to give away your products.
As a traveling book salesman for a major publisher many years ago, I used to give out “samples” of a few of our books to our existing clients simply to maintain contact. It was a conversation breaker on my personal visits and opened the door more directly than talking about the weather or personal interests. But the ratio of free vs. sold was infinitesimal. Of course, the major cost was my travel expenses that took thousands of dollars right off the top of my sales.
I’ve been absorbed the past two weeks studying a multitude of web sites and blogs offering advice and strategies for getting book reviews and other promotions, but I won’t get into cataloging those now. I’m still figuring out which ones are useful and which are simply self-promotions without any real value.
Now that I’m trying to reach readers directly rather than literary agents, editors, or publishers my strategies will need to change. The Internet makes that possible, but the clutter of dozens of promotional possibilities makes it a complex tangle to unravel. And that’s where I am at this point.
Anyone have any suggestions?

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Special Promotions of my book

The paperback edition of Neither Here Nor There is now available on for $7.99 plus tax. The Kindle edition is running a special promotion on KDR select, and it is available for free from 4/2 – 4/4 —so order now.
I’m not sure that I can explain the process whereby this came about since I hired a computer Guru to do it. There are several Kindle books that provide detailed steps, but I took the short circuit and simply provided a MS Word version of my manuscript, front and back materials, and a JPG file of the cover which I also hired someone to design. I paid someone to preview the Word file for glitches before the file was converted and someone else to proofread the manuscript before I submitted it.
The entire process took only a matter of weeks versus the usual process that takes months. The paperback edition was created via CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I also am selling the paperback edition directly to local customers and will be displaying both this book and the Goodbye God book at the Triangle Area Freelance Writers’ Conference on April 20th.
I have used some of the promotion services on the web site that provides services for only $5. Obviously, the services must be limited in scope, but I have found them satisfactory. Some of the providers have a sliding scale that starts at $5 and goes up with the addition of more complex services.
The experience has been much simpler and certainly less expensive than the Print-On-Demand (POD) that I did through Trafford that took several months to migrate to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even longer to migrate to the Kindle and the Nook. Unfortunately, they set the retail price, and that simply priced me out of the market. Now I can set my own price and be more competitive.
I will write later about my experience of using these services and how they worked out. Some have questioned the value of “free” promotions, and I certainly would not write for free for a client just to get a byline. We’ll see.

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Filed under gay memoir, marketing, writing, writing tools

New Book Titled Neither Here Nor There

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book.  It is a memoir titled Neither Here Nor There that is now available as a Kindle edition on at a discounted price for a limited time under their special promotion schedule. It is now my third book on Amazon. I have been writing, re-writing, editing, and proofreading the manuscript for a year, and I recently hired a designer for the cover, someone to check the formatting, and someone else to upload it to for a minimal charge.  If you are a writer interested in e-pubs, I would be happy to provide referrals.

It is a memoir of a 7-decade struggle against guilt and fear to accept myself as both gay and as a Christian. It was a long journey with numerous detours and dead-ends, but in the end I gained some insight of what it means to be fully human and willing to take risks.

From the introduction:

Everyone has a story.  Some are more interesting than others.  Some are tragic, and others seem charmed.  My story is not unique.  Many homosexuals have struggled with their identity with varying degrees of success and acceptance.  The cultural traditions and social mores of American society make that difficult, particularly when those who would use the Bible as a weapon rather than a guide weigh in.  My conflict has never been fully reconciled although I came to rid myself of my internalized homophobia and came to know a richer and deeper faith in my slow steps to become a better Christian.

Because of the American preoccupation with sex as evidenced by our advertising, our movies, and the media, gays have become fashionable with the avant garde.  But we are still harassed, ridiculed, and murdered as a detested minority.  We have come a long way in the past 50 years since I was a teenager, but we still have a long way to go.  Gay marriage is at the forefront of political debates now, but the basic civil rights of a job and housing for us are still unresolved so the priorities seem distorted to me.

Perhaps it was the result of the frustration, fear, and sometimes sense of hopelessness akin to war that caused me also to be preoccupied with sex for a big portion of my life.  Love, acceptance, social standing, and welcoming into the church seemed impossible so the answer to loneliness was desperation.  I’m not as fatalistic now even though I have grown old and alone.  I’m a survivor while many of my friends are long since gone.  I have come to accept myself the way I was born, and others have come to accept me as I am.


If you’re looking for graphic sex, you will be disappointed even though I recount many of my adventures and experiences with my two partners.  I am an incurable romantic at heart, and my journey was focused on looking for “Mr. Right” with all of the naiveté that implies.  We live in a different world in America now in comparison with when I was growing up, and gays and lesbians are more accepted and acceptable and have a lot more options than I did.  In some ways this is more of a history of the LGBT movement than just a personal story, but it is one example and I tell it the way I lived it, and I don’t leave out any secrets.


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Webinars & Online classes
I’ve taken a number of courses online and participated in online meetings, but in the past couple of months I’ve joined several unusual webinars. The most recent this past week was the Brainpower Summit, or Super Hero U, moderated by Jim Kwik. It included about 1,110 participants using computer networking audio services.Twice a day for 60 minutues he interviewed noted authors who were promoting their books. The audio interviews could be replayed for up to 24 hrs if you missed one, and there was a direct link to Amazon of where to find their books. A broad range of authors was represented, but the focus was on mindfulness, self-awareness, and techniques for developing the full power of the brain. He also conducts in person seminars:
Another recent class (over 6 weeks) was the Better Choices, Better Health for Arthritis, a Sanford University self-management workshop powered by the National Council on Aging and the Arthritis Foundation with support from the Center for Disease Control. It was limited to 28 people and included a workbook sent through the mail: The Arthritis Helpbook published by Da Capo Press. The main web site for the workshop also includes workshops for other topics including diabetes and other health issues:
In an entirely different direction are the webinars from Social Media Marketing University sponsored by John Souza. These are a series of weekly webinars, and the ones I attended were on how to use Facebook, but they cover many other subjects. The ones I attended were repeats, but you can get on their email distribution list to get a schedule. To access their web site:
This summer I listened to a weekly series of 20 interviews on The Future of Health Now that were free, but to continue to access the interviews you had to subcribe to a monthly class for $178 for an annual subscription. Again, this was a series of interviews with a number of well-know authors, and I ended up buying some of their books that interested me. The web site and the email newsletters are free:
The Amen @ Home is a service of the Amen Clinics founded by the brain scientiest Dr. Daneil G. Amen. You get a 2-week trial memberships and then an option for different levels of membership. You can get the gist of the technique from one of his twelve books listed on Amazon. These are not webinars; these are resource libraries with a variety of media and self-help options.
I’m sure this just scratches the surface of the hundreds of webinars, online seminars, and resources that are available, but it gives you some idea of the variety of subjects and fields that are currently available. Several years ago I took an excellent online workshop on memoir writing from Writer’s Digest University. They offer a broad range of workshops and webinars at:

There are several listings of webinars:
listing includes categories by type, industry, date, area, and price (free or paid) for a total of 27,666
provides a listing of 27 business topics by presenter, company, category, title, types, and dates (live or recorded)
search is by date, keyword, or category
is a group on that is a discussion of how, when, and where to conduct a webinar. It has 436 members, but for a listing it refers you to the web site listed above.

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New web site

I have set up a trial with a new version of my web site at

It has the same information as my old web site, but in a different format.  This one was designed and hosted by on a speculative basis without a contract.  I’m tracking both using Google analytics.  But my objective is no longer just to get a higher page rank or clicks or click-throughs.  Higher traffic supposedly should generate more leads, but that has not been my experience in the past.

I am currently using the old site

more like an online brochure that includes samples of my writing a links to sites for my photographs and this blog.  Rather than attach samples to a query, I simply list this link.  Neither site has a business link in order to buy anything, except for a link to my book site that includes a link to Amazon.  I’m no longer actively promoting the book, and the online tour guide of Raleigh is available only through Visual Travel Tours’ site.  Eventually all of their guides will be available through Kindle.

Aside from the early leads when I first put up my sites, I’m not getting any business from them in spite of advertising using Adwords and promotion on all my marketing materials.  I’ve had some discussion of whether or not I should list my rates since that my scare of some prospects.  Although they are negotiable to some extent, I’m not willing to work for free as some writers will do simply to get more clips.  Aside from the terrible market for freelancers currently, I think the distinction between offering products on a site and offering professional services is a major factor.  If you’re offering services to the public, that’s different, but if you’re offering services to a narrow niche market other networks seem to work better than the web.




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