Janet's Jargon

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Marketing, digging and miscellaneous

If any of you are authors or have any product to sell (including yourself--no, sillies, not like that!), please stay tuned.
When my first book, Dunnottar, came out in June 2000, I not only had no clue about how to market, I didn't even know it would be expected of me! Oh, how quickly that truth set in! But where to begin, and how to go about it, and what tools do you need?
To start with, a good website--that you advertise widely--is critical. Then, building a good mailing list is essential. Those things work well on the Internet, which is a great place to start.
However, as my friend Billie Williams said in an email on a group today, nothing beats word-of-mouth advertising. My husband and I have a favorite restaurant where we eat several times a week. We have gotten to know the staff there and tonight when we were in there one of the gals came over to talk to us. She grinned and flipped open her little black book and showed me that she was carrying around one of my business cards. She said, "I always hold the book so the customer can see it. They almost always ask me what it is. So I slip it out and show it to them. Then I tell them that you are a regular customer." She looked a little nervouse, then she asked, "I don't suppose you have any more of them, do you?" I took about 50 of them out of my purse and gave them to her. "That should last about a week," she said.
So how can I afford to give away that many business cards? Don't they cost a lot? Not if you have discovered the great deals at www.vistaprint.com. They offer 250 free business cards ALL THE TIME. If you sign up for their newsletter, you will get incrediible offers for either great price slashes or--a lot of free stuff from time to time. Yes, you have to pay the postage, but it is minimal. You can upload your own photos for an additional $4.99 (the first time only), but they have over 70,000 images you can choose from. I just love matching fun, snappy words that match their images. I have gotten stuck on one phrase: "Explore Roads Less Traveled in a Janet Elaine Smith Novel." Oh, the roads I can travel over there. I've gone to the woods, up into the mountains, little winding paths, to the ocean, and even off into outer space.
Even if you are a bit shy, it is much easier to bring your book/product into the conversation if you have something in your hands you can give the other person.
I do have one word of warning, though. It is extremely addictive. I haven't played solitaire or Freecell for ages!

Now, moving on to research. One of the often overlooked resources is to go to old National Geographic magazines. I used it when I wrote House Call to the Past. They had several articles on Maria Hallett and Black Sam Bellamy, as well as Black Sam's pirate ship, the Whydah. And Maria, well, she was my 13th great aunt and she was accused of witchcraft after the baby she had by Black Sam died shortly after his birth. Well, National Geographic said reported that she used to go out to the coast on Cape Cod, where she would hang lanterns on the tails of whales to warn the sailors if there was trouble brewing on shore. Well, the National Geographic said kit, so it had to be true, right?
I also have an idea for a timetravel that centers around Marco Polo and his travels, which lasted about 20 years. In 2001 National Geographic did a three-part series on Marco Polo. Oh, in reading it, I could just feel the story in my head exploding from all the information!

And now for the miscellaneous. This is not writing-related, but it was such fun. We have a really cute little 10-year old boy who lives next door to us. He pops in every so often to see what we are doing. He loves to use Ivan's computer to play games, as they don't have one at home. He was born really prematurely. He weighed only one pound! He was in the hospital from July 5 until mid October. He has an awesome single mom, who absolutely adores him. Like many preemies, he was a bit slow in development to start with, but once he started to run the road of life, there was no stopping him. He is the smartest little cookie I've seen in years. We have become sort of adopted grandma and grandpa to him. (Our own kids don't seem to "get the hint," so we have to adopt a few strays here and there!)
Anyway, the other night he popped in and he said they had just had supper. I asked him what they ate. He said, "We had hamburgers french fries and Bush's baked beans." I told him, "I love Bush's baked beans." He hesitated a few minutes, then he said, "I told Mom I only wanted a few beans. She said that's all she gave me. Well, I counted them. There were 57 beans! That's way more than a few!!!!"

Ah, the things we learn from our youngsters, whether they are our own or borrowed ones!
And on that note, please keep on being creative, and keep on being creative.
If you have a fun story about your favorite kids' sayings, please leave it in a comment for us to enjoy with you.
Until next time,


  • At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are correct, Janet, about VistaPrint--but even more correct on what kids can teach us. I've learned that sunrise is when "God turns the sky inside out so we can see what it looks like on his side", matchbox cars can grow "profellers" and fly to roofs all by themselves to a pain in your side means you need to get your "independex" out :-) I wouldn't want to live in a world without kids surrounding me!!!
    Joyce www.kaleidosouls.info

  • At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, Janet.

    Yep on all counts.


  • At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "One, two, three, four...more!" That's how my niece used to count, when she was a preschooler.

    Nothing gives me a bigger pain that an adult who's forgotten how to look at the world through a child's eyes. Except, of course, an adult who wants to stop ME from continuing to do that! :-) No wonder you write such wonderful books, Janet.



  • At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hahahaah! You didn't think I would read it ,didya? Didya?"
    I'm not really "annonymous." Just too lazy to sign in to Blogger this morning.
    Don't you think Joyce is just about the sweetest kid you know?
    And that Cathy Annonymous seems like she would be a dear,dear friend.
    I wish you would move closer to the sunny side so we could chat under the pecan trees and maybe even do a little writing.

    I wish I could sit beside ya at the Red Lobster and eat fillet of flounder and hushpuppies while the waitresses sell our books for us.

    Janet, you are one of the really, really nice ones. I love ya gal.

    Jay Hudson


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