Tag Archives: marketing

Guest Post: My Approach to Marketing: Flirting for Fun and Profit by Thomas Gondolfi

Book signings and in-person sales events are where most indies make their money. Today’s post is on a subject we indies all want to know more about–marketing our work in person. My good friend, publisher and author Thomas Gondolfi, is quite successful at it, and has kindly offered to share his knowledge as part of the 6-week NIWA Blog tour. Without further commentary, here is Thomas Gondolfi and post #4.

Let me ask you a question. Answer truthfully as the answer is only to yourself. How many times a day are you the center of good attention? My guess, based on some solid data, is that even if you have a focused partner, a loving child, or an exceptional parent, your answer is going to be fairly low. If you don’t have one of those, the number approaches nil. Along comes a vendor who is eager to engage with you as his only focus. He isn’t pushing his product on you. He is genuinely interesting in finding out how you are different! Isn’t that appealing? This is the essence of my F2F marketing strategies.

The essence of flirting is the wholehearted, one-to-one focus that one person can give to another if they are sincere. No, it’s not about trying to get a date. No, it’s not plastered on as a veneer until you can have what you want. No, it’s not about hawking your books at them.

I know you have a preconceived notion of what flirting is. I’ll tell you that you are almost certainly wrong. I have many more credits than those required to have a minor in psychology (but my school didn’t offer one). I’ve done some of my own studies in this area. I find that the meanings given by the professional wordsmiths are wrong. What I’ve learned as a definition: Flirting – To give attention to one or more persons and / or their interests in a wholehearted way.

Sincerity is the key. You must want to engage and find out what is interesting about that person, otherwise you are fighting a losing war. Flirting is of its own, valuable. People have skills they are dying to share with someone who is open to listen and share. You may learn how to knit a yarmulke, garble an herb, or even fly a sailplane. Also, it can, and does, lead to friendships. I can immediately bring to mind three strong friendships, and innumerable lesser ones, that have developed over my years of vending books because of flirting. And if the two above aren’t enough, that level of absorption can also lead to new plots, characters, and skills to use in future writing.

So let’s pull back to our customers and how to flirt. I use the mnemonic HAMER to describe the steps – Hook, Absorb, Mutual Interest, Expand, and Release.

Hook is nothing more than what we do when writing the first few pages of our book/story. We have to grab the attention of the reader in the best possible way. I do this by using hints from the person themselves, usually clothing, hairstyle, tattoos and the like. The hook should have a question attached or the potential customer may just give you a high five and move on.

Absorb means now listening to what the person has to say. No, I mean really listen. It isn’t easy. Don’t think about what books you will sell them, your spouse, the sports tournament, your quilting project. Make them the focus of your entire attention.

Now take the information you got in Absorb and find something that you can share as Mutual Interest. I believe it is axiomatic that if you are interested, you can’t be feigning interest.

Once you have chosen that Mutual Interest you need to Expand upon it and share back. Offer something in your own experience about the topic. Inquire about their experience or expertise in an area. Something to continue the conversation and make them aware that you are paying attention. But keep your response to about half of the time that they have talked to you in the Absorb step. Remember you want them to be the center of attention, not you. Now let them talk again. Do three or four Absorb-Mutual Interest-Expand steps before you get to the most important step of all.

Release is even more important than the Hook itself. Many salesmen do the above steps and will never let the coin in the customer’s purse escape and hold on like a leech. The Release is the key to soft selling. You are telling the person that they are more important than pawning you wares on them (and you would be right). To do this, you find and give a reason to let the person go, such as “I know you have to make that afternoon panel on genre blending,” “I think you friend just went around the corner,” or “I don’t want to keep you from your shopping.”

This is the key moment. If there is any chance at all of making a sale, the customer will look down and ask YOU about what you have available. Often your interest will get people who might be on the fence about your wares to buy because you made them feel good about themselves.

Whether they purchased something or not, you have just successfully completed a flirt. I talk more in-depth about this technique in my book of the same title “Flirting for Fun and Profit”  but I’ve summed up the basics here.

Your sales totals will increase. BUT even if you don’t make a sale, you’ve made a connection with another person. It is a win all around.

Founding TANSTAAFL Press in 2012, Thomas Gondolfi is the author (and book parent) of the Toy Wars series, the CorpGov Chronicles, and Wayward School along with numerous other writing and editing credits which can be found on www.tanstaaflpress.com. He is a father of three (real children), consummate gamer, and loving husband. Tom also claims to be a Renaissance man and certified flirt.

Raised as a military brat, he spent twenty years of his life moving to a new place every few years giving him a unique perspective on life and people.

Working as an engineer in high tech for over thirty years, Tom has also worked as a cook, motel manager, most phases of home construction, volunteer firefighter, and the personal caregiver to a quadriplegic.




Filed under writing

#amwriting: connecting with readers

magicWriters are offered many Facebook groups, some strictly private, professional, and writing-craft oriented. These tend to be good educational groups, and I have enjoyed them.

We can also gain membership in public groups which were created for indies to make their books available to the public. These groups are easily searchable on Facebook.

These public groups, especially those with large numbers of members (over 10,000), are good sites to drop in once every week or so and share a link to whatever book you might have free or on sale for .99 at Amazon or to promote your new release.

These sites cater to readers and posts show up in the general feed, somewhat randomly. I have found that these public groups do actually do help authors gain sales—not a lot, but a few.

Many of these groups cater to readers of romance books, but there are a few that are for any kind of book that is written. One of the best Facebook groups for Indies to post free and .99 cent Kindle books is Amazon Book Clubs. They have over 35,000 followers, and most of those followers are readers looking for a good, affordable Kindle book.

However, one must use common sense, and so I suggest you only post your books once a week at most. People get tired of seeing the same authors spamming these sites over and over.

I am a member of several groups where the same three or four authors invariably post the same books every single day. Not only that, they post all their books one link at a time.  After a month or two of this, they will complain they aren’t getting any sales no matter how hard they try. Then they drop out of sight.

What these well-intentioned authors don’t understand is that making any kind of public Facebook forum work for you is like making Twitter work. You must be patient and careful not to spam your intended market, as that will drive away potential readers. In these book forums, you want to present yourself in a competent, professional manner.

Your icon or avatar is the image of you the world sees, so choose a picture that looks professional. Your book cover will work, but I suggest using a real photo of you if you have one you like.

When it comes to both your professional Facebook page and Twitter, it works best when you share content that is original and pertains to your life as a writer. People aren’t too interested in whether or not you got the dishes done, but they do care about what books you just read, or how your own writing is going. Tweet your blog, and retweet other tweets you enjoyed. If you have a hobby, such as watching IndyCar Races or you play golf, tweet about those things too. I tend to tweet about food because I’m vegan and I love finding new recipes. You want your followers to get to know you, as well as your books.

Follow people you find interesting, follow the real people back (there will be spam-bots following you, so watch out for those and don’t follow them) and don’t spam the universe with constant “Buy my Book” tweets. Be consistent, but creative.Old books Remember, nothing ever happens as fast as you want it to. Building a fan base takes time, years, actually. It doesn’t happen over night, although rewards will occur in small leaps and bounds. Those little surges of sales are what keeps us going, the lure that keeps us plodding forward.

For an excellent blog post with links to a lot more information than I have to offer in regard to places to connect with readers, check out  How to Promote Your Fantasy Novel on Facebook, Twitter, Wattpad, YouTube, and more by Chris Well.



Filed under writing

Marketing tips from the eight-year-old

Me & Logan, Cannon Beach Oregon August 2014

Me & The Boy

My oldest daughter and her son came to stay for a long weekend. It was fun, and wonderful, having The Boy around, especially now that he is eight. He is becoming a well-behaved person, and developing a few manners, although he is still only eight, and rather a barbarian in many ways

Of course, it poured down rain while he was here. but we had fun anyway.

He discovered that grandma is a writer, and writes “real books.” He was quite proud. “I’m gonna read these when I’m a grown up.”

I confess, I did bask in the glory, until he explained that I had made a huge marketing error.

My biography is in the back of my books, but not my picture. The Boy said, “I want the kids at school to know that my grandma writes real books, but they won’t believe it if there’s no picture.”

I didn’t want to tell him that the camera steals my soul, and I hate every picture I’ve ever seen of me. But, after thinking about it, I agreed that he might have a point.

I also didn’t tell him that people who write books are a dime a dozen. Everyone you meet either is an author, or has a couple of the ne’er-do-wells in the family. Apparently people who are otherwise unemployable write books, in order to appear useful.

I didn’t tell him that, because for a shining moment, I was special. He was proud of me, his grandma, because I can write real books. I have to admit, that felt pretty good.

So we looked through the pictures of me. I thought this one would work, as it’s the most recent and hides my ample, middle-aged waistline.

Connie J. Jasperson profile pic 3

He said, “No–it doesn’t really look like you. You’re hair is a lot fuzzier than that.”

I said, “But I combed it just for that photo. I even put on lipstick.”

He wasn’t swayed.

So I tried a different one. “This one is only two years old.”

Connie J. Jasperson Profile Pic

I thought it was perfect, as it also hides the ample, middle-aged, waistline.

He was not impressed.  “Are you kidding? Your hair’s too short in that one.”

Heavy sigh. “This one?”

Connie J. Jasperson


“Get real, Grandma–people want to see the real you. The one who cooks and stuff.”

“No, they don’t,” I said. “People don’t care about that. I don’t think I need a picture in the back of my books.”

“Trust me, Grandma. I’ve read a lot of books, and they all have the writer’s picture in the back. I want my friends to know it’s you.”

After much discussion he picked a picture.  I doubt it will go in the back of a book, but this is what he picked.

Fall 2014 profile foto for avatars

“Why did you pick that one? I use that one as my Facebook icon. ”

“Because that’s how you look. Comfy, and like a grandma. With fluffy hair.”

It’s hard to argue with that sort of logic. But I’ll probably have to have a professional picture made at some point.

One that doesn’t show my middle-aged waistline or the comfy fluffiness of my hair.

extra small caricature of connie  by street artist Stacey Denton



Filed under Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Heart Search book three: Betrayal

Betrayal front cover Today is the release of a book that I had a great time being a part of–Heart Search  book three: Betrayal, by UK author, Carlie M. A. Cullen. I had the privilege of being a structural editor for this, and it was a project I really enjoyed.

Where to start? It is the third book in a trilogy, and so it picks at the end of the previous book, of course–but a new reader could start with this book and not feel too confused.

For me, this book is a roller-coaster of events and emotion, as Samir’s and Joshua’s covens prepare to defend themselves from an upstart rival’s attempted takeover. The disappearance and kidnapping of Erika casts suspicion on several people, and the discovery of a traitor in their midst is an unpleasant monkey-wrench tossed into the works, making it difficult for Samir and Joshua to know who to trust.

Their enemy, Liam, is a low-class thug who has no problem starting the equivalent of a gang-war within the vampires’ society. His heavy-handed bullying of his subordinates and cruelty to his victims is evidence of that. His second in command, Max, is much smarter vampire, a man who could have been quite decent under other circumstances and isn’t quite sure that his maker is all that sane.

Phoenix, the hidden traitor in their midst is an arrogant, self-absorbed twit, and definitely a jerk. The traitor claims to care for the person handed over as a hostage, but does it anyway, knowing the hostage will not be treated well. Phoenix manages to cause nothing but trouble before their identity is finally revealed.

Remy’s sudden separation from her family has her twin in an uproar. Her emotional instability affects Becky, her twin, as do other aspects of her life, although neither woman is aware of that connection. The stilted, angry phone conversations between the two only serve to complicate things.

This book has many, many threads that are woven together to create a compelling story of intrigue, Stockholm Syndrome, and the arrogance that comes with immortality. It is filled with strong characters and inventive plot twists—some creepy, some chilling, and some downright horrifying.

It’s a paranormal romance, so some graphic sex and a great deal of violence make this book definitely an adult read.

When launching a new book, marketing is always a tough thing for an indie. I must say, Carlie has really stepped up for this:

She is putting forth a Raffle Copter Giveaway of some gorgeous Heart Search themed jewelry.

heart search jewelry

That is some fabulous bling for her loyal fans!

Another thing that Carlie Cullen had done for marketing is she has created a really awesome book trailer for YouTube, The trailer is very noir, and really shows the atmosphere of the books:

Heart Search book three: Betrayal Trailer

These are really good marketing tools, and I feel sure her investments will pay off in the long run with good initial sales.


Filed under Adventure, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, vampires, writer, writing

Virtual unreality

midnight-new-years-champagneWhat are your New Years traditions? Normally my hubby and I do something a little fun to celebrate, but this year we were pretty low-key. I’ve been suffering from a flu-like virus, and I was finally fairly mobile, enough to go out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant we like so much.

Then we spent New Year’s eve at an all-night party with friends from all over the world. I love the virtual reality of the internet universe. You’re never alone unless you log off Facebook.

canapes (1)My publisher, Myrddin Publishing threw a great virtual New Year’s party on Facebook where the authors and readers got to meet and have a rollicking time in the virtual universe. For a short time (until Sunday Jan 4th 2015) kindle downloads of Huw the Bard and Tales From The Dreamtime are on sale for .99 cents.

breakfastThe party is still going on today, with a virtual breakfast being served, and people popping in and out. I’ve had a lot of fun with that, despite being under the weather. And this morning on New Years Day, I actually feel good.

So what are my goals for this new year that looms fresh and untrammeled before us?

My goal is to create and implement a marketing plan for my books.  This is something I have attempted, but have always become side-tracked by life, and never got back to it. From what I’ve read on the internet this involves a combination of things:

1. During January I’m going to create a plan-of-action, and map out my strategy. Once I know the answers to the next two questions I will be able to develop a plan of attack.

2. I will identify my audience.  This is hard–I write for my own amazement, so I’m not sure what my audience is! But I will spend some  time figuring that out, and I will blog about the process.

2. I will figure out what makes my books different from all the other books out there, aside from their obvious, amazing wonderfulness. This is also difficult! I wrote these things while in a trance, apparently, as the minute someone asks me about them, my mind goes blank and I have no idea how they got here, or what they’re about. I will probably blog about that process too.

3. I will budget $$ for Google ads and Goodreads ads, and see how they perform. My Goodreads ad seems to get a lot of clicks, but I’m not sure it translates into sales. I haven’t done a Google ad yet.

Possibilites copyI’m pretty lousy at blatant self-promotion. But I intend to make this a good year for honing my marketing skills in such a way that I can sell a few books without annoying my friends!

It’s a brand new beginning, with endless possibilities. In completing and publishing my books, I’ve already achieved dreams I never thought possible, and now a new year lies before me. How wonderful to know that anything can happen!

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Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, writer, writing