May 062009
 

I’ve decided to keep a blog about my attempts (successes and failures) of marketing both Sending You Sammy and Brain Tales – Volume One and welcome suggestions from any visitor who wants to assist.

Press/ Media

I was featured on Rogers First Local where my efforts at helping literacy and childhood obesity were seen by viewers in my home town. I was in contact with CTV briefly but it never paned out.

Sending You Sammy was successfully featured in a small article with the popular national magazine Canadian Living. This had a fabulous impact on sales during its month of publication (April 2007) and made me truly appreciate what Canadian Living stands for.

Local newspapers have shown interest but did minimal to be receptive to the news. I was depending, I guess too primarily, on local papers want to print stories of, not only local authors but, current newsworthy topics such as childhood obesity. I thought they would want to be part of the solution as well as supporting someone locally. One local newspaper even asked for a copy of Sending You Sammy with the intention of printing something if it deemed newsworthy but later declined, saying it wasn’t something their readers would be interested in! And yet each and every North American newspaper prints headlines daily of the problems of childhood obesity but feels it’s readers doesn’t care about the solutions to it!

I have been featured on CBC Radio as a guest local author and on a Canada Day program as an up-and-coming Canadian author. I am extremely grateful for this exposure but not convinced it was the perfect avenue/ audience to generate sales.

I’ve also written my own press releases for websites such as Free Press Release which offered me the opportunity of writing my first official press release. It took some revisions, as all writing does, but I think it turned out pretty well. Take a look at Childhood Obesity – Let’s Talk Solutions.

Book Signings

These have proven difficult no matter the form of advertising as it’s success can base simply and primarily on the weather.  While encouraging kids to be active with Sending You Sammy it’s hard to blame parents for (assuming they are) taking them outside to enjoy a beautiful sunny day.

People need to be at the store – be it for you personally or shopping in general. Going to a conveniently located and popular store for new books is certainly recommended which I’ll be looking to do in the near future.

I will keep you posted on my success for that event (as well as ample notice for you to go).

Website

I have a website specifically for Sending You Sammy up and running which is a highly ranked site in Google but only if you know what to look for. I’ve had people from all over find the site as well as corresponded with some of my visitors.

This has been good exposure for me as a writer, both www.AdventuresOfSammy.com and www.SarahButland.com, and I would recommend every author invest in setting one up. With that being said, thus far I’ve had minimal sales response based directly on either site.

I do have a lot of success with signups at BananaBoyFans.com but for children it’s about education, not selling.

Offering Books/ Stories for Reviews

Word of mouth is proven to be the most effective way of marketing so reviews on book sites can be vital.

In it’s beginning stage, I have been sending/offering stories from Brain Tales – Volume One as well as access to the Sending You Sammy Ebook. Thus far I’ve had minimal but great response to the stories I’ve sent; with only one semi negative review I know I must be doing something right.

I am keeping a close eye on reviews and sales during this introductory offer as I’ll need to decide if it’s worth leaking bits of my book or not.

Webvideos

Marketing guru’s have been convincing whoever will listen that videos are the newest source of getting out the word for your product. I quickly jumped on board and taped a preview for Sending You Sammy as well as had my husband do a video review of it. As soon as they were taped we blasted them on every video website we could including YouTube.com, MySpace.com, Revver.com, etc. This was immediately followed with a blitz of offering a refund on the purchase of my Sending You Sammy ebook for a video review.

This offered no response although the videos can still be found online :

http://www.revver.com/video/938870/sending-you-sammy-book-preview-by-sarah-butland/

http://www.findinternettv.com/Video,item,898681036.aspx

Networking Sites

Facebook and MySpace are two popular social networking sites that anyone can belong to. These sites can be a terrific way of gathering a following as well as meeting people of like mind from around the world.

In my circumstance I do stress that they can be as I’ve had no response from MySpace and very little from Facebook. I do have, and love, my faithful followers on Facebook and feel indebted to them for remaining a part of my group/ page but it seems to be at a standstill with no growth or activity despite my attempts at spicing it up.

Plain Old Word of Mouth

Being a shy author has it’s drawbacks and not being able to market yourself is a tremendous disadvantage. Being employed full time in an office of hundreds of people still, two years after the publishing of Sending You Sammy, the majority of people don’t know what I do outside of the building.

It’s humbling when an newly met co-worker asks me if I’m the same person that wrote this or that book as I rarely announce my success, even to those I’m somewhat close to.

Boldness and ego are great aspects of promoting yourself, unfortunately I lack great amounts of both so I let others do the talking for me.

Interviews

David K Ewen invited me to conduct my first Blog Talk Radio interview on his show Today’s Author and I eagerly accepted. This was a great experience more for getting a radio interview under my belt early than for sales.

I do recommend taking full advantage of any opportunity with the opinion that it will be just what you need to succeed. David K Ewen offered a fantastic opportunity on his “Today’s Author” show and it can still be listened to today at Today’s Author is Sarah Butland.

A fellow author, Kelly Moran, who I met through Facebook, regularly interviews authors she knows for her own Blog site. Kelly offered to host me and, upon accepting her offer, promptly sent me her questions.

With my answers I promised three copies of Brain Tales – Volume Oneto her readers/ those who commented on the interview.

Make sure you check it out for your chance to win a free book and subscribe to her blog so you don’t miss out on meeting other authors and winning books.

I’ll update after it takes place with its level of success.

School and Daycare Readings/ Handouts/ Posters

Writers in the Schools Program (WISP) of New Brunswick made contact with me last year in regards to visiting schools about Sending You Sammy. I was more than happy to and was thrilled when I had a school call right away.

Knowing the kids wouldn’t buy but their parents could if they knew who I was or what the book was about, I got busy preparing handouts for the kids to take home. I had a colouring page/ fan club certificate and bookmarks printed which the kids loved but generated little to no activity in sales.

As an added touch I’ve also been leaving behind copies of the Adventures Of Sammy poster at each visit – whether it was at a school, day care or store. These have also seemingly gone ignored but I’ll continue my efforts as even if they generate one happy / healthy kid I deem it necessary even if others don’t.

Emails, Emails, Emails

Sending Emails are the most cost-effective way I have found to contact a lot of different channels in regards to my books. Unfortunately these emails tend to be easily ignored as well.

No matter how creative I have been with both the email and who I’m sending it to I’ve had little to no response. Even phone calls are going unanswered which makes me wonder how companies get by with such a lack of customer service.

Bat as it doesn’t cost anything but my time I will continue sending as many as I can to whoever I feel should be interested. If my emails continue get to someone important, like the one to Canadian Living, to pay attention the possibility of sales growing is tremendous. One also just recently caught the attention of someone holding a local event where they may host a book signing like never before! I’ll know more about this on Tuesday.

Canadian Children’s Book Center (CCBC)

TD Canada Trust hosts a Book Week in Canada which promotes literacy in schools and communities by sending Canadian authors to different parts of the country. While travelling, chosen authors are booked for the week at various functions to promote themselves, their book and, most importantly, literacy. This even is in conjuction with the Canadian Children’s Book Center.

The CCBC is, of course, a national non-profit organization which promotes the countries children’s book authors. After researching for weeks I decided the membership fee was an expense that would be well worth the reward as it is something you need to be a part of to travel with TD Book Week.

Soon after joining I was mailed a welcome kit complete with a letter explaining what day my benefits would expire and their own magazine. Soon after I received another fantastic magazine put out by them and then months went by without another word.

I decided to see my listing on their website and I was devastated to not be able to find myself. I immediately sent an email asking for a listing of what my membership fee included and I received the response saying I would have a listing which was accessible to schools for visits. When I forwarded them my information it was declined for display because I wasn’t the winner of such-and-such an award.

Greatly disappointed to learn that I wasn’t qualified for any award they mentioned to have me qualify and have spent $60, the annual fee, to receive a few magazines advertising others. Although I’m glad to have experience as well as support other authors I will not be signing up again unless there is a specific purpose for it.

Frye Festival

The Frye Festival is a literacy event like no other in the country – literally. It celebrates authors in both of Canada’s official languages (English/French) and is based out of my city of residence in Moncton, New Brunswick.

A fantastic event supporting literacy, Frye welcomes applications from writers and storytellers at all stages in their careers. Although I’ve been to several events my application for 2009’s events was declined.

I will keep trying as I know my message is important and know that, in a few years, I’ll be quite comparable to the other applicants.

Sammy at the Zoo

When I learned of the Tomar-a-thon being put on by the local Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton, New Brunswick I contacted them immediately. I thought, what a better way to support a great cause with a great book when they are both promoting exercise and wellness. They welcomed me for which I am extremely thankful for and was there to welcome everyone in before their run.

Creating buzz for the zoo through Sammy by donating $5 for every book sold today I was able to contribute to a wonderful cause. And to have my book promentently out for display at the zoo created a lot of buzz for Sammy and me. The zoo even promised to think of me again which I am grateful for and will do what I can to help.

Next time maybe you can make it!

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