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Spotlight: IBPA Member Achievements

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Blogging That Builds Sales

IBPA MemberYou don’t have to spend money to make money if your DIY efforts are as focused as those of Lloyd Lofthouse of Three Clover Press in Walnut Creek, CA. His carefully documented publicity efforts for My Splendid Concubine point up the value of a blog tied to your book—and the value of being consistent in your posts.

When he published his historical novel at the end of 2007, Lofthouse planned an extensive publicity campaign, including advertising in magazines that serve his home area of northern California and hiring a publicist to arrange blog tours and 30 appearances on radio talk shows. In 2008, the book sold 221 copies, and in 2009, 341. Frustrated by exposure that didn’t translate to sales, Lofthouse started taking workshops on blog posting in 2009, and in 2010, he launched a blog called I Look China: Looking at China from an Outsider’s Point-of-View (ilookchina.net).

Lofthouse says the most valuable workshop he took was led by Bill Belew (billbelew.com) and sponsored by the South Bay branch of the California Writers Club. What he took away from the workshop was that he had to post often and regularly, keep most posts shorter than 300 words, embed both internal links (to other posts on the same blog) and external links, and include photos and/or embedded videos in each post. Search engine spiders look at all these elements, he explains, along with others such as the number of comments and daily visitors, in determining search engine ranking.

Other advice that Lofthouse found important: “As authors we should avoid writing only about writing, our books and being an author. Because my first book was fiction based on a historical character and the story was set in the middle of the 19th century in China, my blog is all about China, its history, its culture, and the Chinese people. I seldom mention my book in posts.”

In the nine months after he launched his blog, he published 1,000 posts with the goal of raising search engine rank to attract views. “In 2010, when the blog averaged 84 views per day, I sold 2,375 copies of My Splendid Concubine,” he reports; “In 2011, I averaged 347 views per day and sold 4,641 copies, and in 2012, I averaged 540 views per day and sold 4,158 copies.”

Last year the book—bought mostly in $3.99 Kindle editions and also available in paperback for a list price of $16.95—sold more than 5,000 copies. As Lofthouse notes, these statistics show the value of blogging. So do the numbers provided by web traffic monitor Alexa (alexa.com). Blog visitors average two minutes per visit, impressive since each post may be only 300 to 400 words long.

What these numbers also document is the importance of a commitment to blogging. Now, with an archive of 2,000+ posts, ilookchina.net has had more than 500,000 views and Lofthouse continues to post twice a week.

Tips on Children’s Books

IBPA MemberMims House author/publisher Darcy Pattison offered recommendations for other children’s book publishers when she was one of five featured in a Publishers Weekly article, “Indie Spotlight on Children’s Authors.” Pattison, who issued the full-color Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years, in 2012, was quoted as saying authors should “be everywhere.” PW pointed out that her books are available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats (Kindle, Nook, iBook, Kobo, and on her website), as well as audio.

“Expect quality from yourself and those you work with,” Pattison advises. “Poorly illustrated children’s books are the bane of the children’s book indie publishing movement.”

A DRM Discovery

IBPA MemberPW’s recent “Indie Authors Talk Editors” refers to Janet Angelo of IndieGo Publishing, who served as the editor for a romance by Penny Reid. Separately, Angelo was interviewed for an August story on EContent (econtentmag.com) titled “Author Earnings Reports Offer Validation to Self-publishing Writers,” which cited the success of self-published romances on Amazon.

Said Angelo: “I am not surprised that indie authors are doing as well as they are.” The story also said, “Angelo did find one surprising fact in the July report that spurred her to make a change in the way she publishes books.” The report showed that books with DRM (Digital Rights Management) do not sell as well as those without the controls. “‘I always set DRM on the books I publish, but from now on, I probably won’t, based on the data in this report,’ Angelo said.”

Quick Looks at Media Coverage

“Ohio photographer gives animals a close-up” is how WKYC, the NBC television affiliate in Cleveland, titled its feature on Curious Critters author/photographer David FitzSimmons this past summer.

A New Harbinger title, Coming Back Together: A Guide to Successful Reintegration After Your Partner Returns from Military Deployment, by Steven L. Sayers, received a starred review in a summer issue of Library Journal.

IBPA MemberOther members’ titles recently reviewed in Library Journal include:

  • A second New Harbinger title, Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried, and What You Can Do About It, by Leslie Becker-Phelps
  • Demos Health’s Get the Behavior You Want … Without Being the Parent You Hate, by Deborah Gilboa
  • C & T Publishing’s Emporia Rose Appliqué Quilts: New Projects, Historical Vignettes, Classic Designs, by Barbara Brackman and Karla Menaugh
  • Sourcebooks Landmark’s The Objects of Her Affection, by Sonya Cobb
  • Sourcebooks Casablanca’s The Traitor and The Laird, both by Grace Burrowes
  • Two Poisoned Pen Press titles, Avoidable Contact: A Kate Reilly Mystery, by Tammy Kaehler, and Phantom Limb: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery, by Dennis Palumbo
  • Two Chicago Review Press titles, Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me, by Yamma Brown with Robin Gaby Fisher, and Women Heroes of World War I, by Kathryn J. Atwood.

Women Heroes of World War I was also featured in the Chicago Tribune in July, and Chicago Review’s A World of Her Own, by Michael Elsohn Ross, was included in a Working Mother roundup, “10 (Mostly) New Adventure Books for Amelia Earhart.”

The promotional video for the Sourcebooks Landmark title The End of Innocence, by Allegra Jordan, which incorporates World War I newsreel footage, was selected as Shelf Awareness’s trailer of the day in August.

A play based on Warren Adler’s novel The War of the Roses is being produced for Broadway’s 2015-16 season by Tony Award winners Jay Gutterman, Cindy Gutterman, Cathy Chernoff, Carl Moellenberg and Wendy Federman.

A North Ridge Books title, 1,001 Tips for Writers, by William Gordon, was recently mentioned in the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, and reviewed in a summer issue of the Midwest Book Review.

33+Tips, Tricks & Resources for Copyright Beginners, published online at Nichecreativity.com, quotes marketing consultant Linda Carlson, author of Advertising with Small Budgets for Big Results, and cites three IBPA Independent articles as resources for publishers and authors to use in monitoring violations involving their material—“Do You Know Who’s Using Your Content? Tactics for Finding Out,” “Has Your Copyright Escaped Notice? Six Questions You Probably Never Thought to Ask,” and “Bringing Books Back, Part 3, A Guide to the Learning Curve.” All of them are available via Independent Articles at ibpa-online.org.

Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com) writes for the Independent from Seattle, where she was also recently quoted in an Examiner.com article, “57 Ways to Turn Business Adversities in Advantages.”

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