The Mysteries of Marketing

What’s been occupying me lately is the puzzle about how to market my book, A Journey of Days. It looks as if word-of-mouth is the most effective method, but the trick is how to get people to talk about the book. I thought, rather naively, that the local media, such as the Ottawa Citizen, would be happy to review the book. You know, new local author and all. The book editor told me that he would absolutely NOT review it. “The Camino has been done to death. Besides, Sibley wrote all about it in the Citizen.” So it’s been a long struggle to get it in front of the reading, viewing or listening public. Leanne Cusack helped with an early TV interview for CTV, as did Derick Fage and TL Rader of Rogers TV Daytime show. Still waiting for Oprah, though.

One of the really strange dichotomies that I find about the book marketing world is that, while I have a huge emotional commitment to the content of the book that I wrote, to the book marketing world, it’s just another box of cornflakes. What I mean is that a book to book WRITERS and READERS is a strange and wonderful method to communicate feelings, sometimes intimate and thoughts, sometimes profound, over time and distance. To the large book marketer it’s just a commodity: saleable when fresh, discounted when stale and returned to the publisher when no longer useful. Perhaps that’s a little unfair, because most people at the book retail end, certainly the independents, are deeply devoted to their books and their authors.  Many of them have been extremely supportive of my efforts. The box stores? I’m not so sure. They are much more driven by the bottom line.

It’s a very good book, judging by the reader reviews that it’s been getting on Chapters.ca and on Amazon.com, as well as the many personal emails and letters. What I find fascinating is how people respond to what I wrote through their own filters. People see in it feelings, views and ideas that resonate with their own. I have excerpted these reviews in the Review section of my website.

One of the very satisfying personal things that I have been doing is reading for a half-hour each Thursday at noon to day hospice patients at the Hospice at May Court. I love seeing and hearing their reactions as I read my story to them. I look forward to this half-hour all week.

I am off in a couple of days from Ottawa to Toronto to deliver a presentation at the Mountain Equipment Co-op store at 400 King ST E in Toronto. One of their staff members heard me deliver a presentation to the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims on March 7th. He liked it so much he asked if I would come to the store and speak about the Camino to the staff. He said that there is a lot of customer interest in the camino but not much staff knowledge. The presentation is intended to help fix that problem. I am looking forward to it because I love watching the audience reaction and responding to the questions … and always some members of the audience want to buy a book!

I have been playing with ideas about posters. I have made up several 20” by 30 “ posters for in-store events, such as book signings, but my impression is that people who walk by are so used to brightly coloured advertising that they don’t even see it. So I have made up a a couple of new ones. The first is white lettering on a stark black background and reads: “WARNING. The surgeon-general advises that reading A Journey of Days may be addictive. Even brief exposure to A Journey of Days may cause you to spend much more time in the now and lead to powerful urges to follow your dreams.”

The second is also white lettering on a very dark background. It shows the cover of The Power of Now and the cover of A Journey of Days below it. The text reads: “If you liked The Power of Now you will love A Journey of Days.” This is based on several comments linking the two books and one specific review. I hope the linkage attracts attention since the Power of Now has done extremely well! I will try these out next week at MEC in Toronto and look for feedback on them. I am confident that, at some point, we will hit the tipping point and the book will take off. I only hope that it’s soon (or at leats sooner rather than later. I dislike the concept of posthumous success!

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