Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Persistence Pays Off!

If you're feeling burnt out and/or discouraged with your efforts to promote your indie band/book/whatever, I suggest you read this story about a Seattle guy who got Billy Idol to play at his birthday party.

Not dancing with himself anymore
It's not quite the same thing as trying to sell your self-produced CD or novel, but the basic principles are the same. Basically, it took courage, creativity, patience and perseverance - all the factors needed to make a DIY dream come true.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tips on Selling Your Indie Record or Book

A big reason why I decided to publish Secret of the Songshell myself was that I had previous experience in indie publicity and marketing. When I lived in Hawaii, I was a part-owner and managing partner of Crash The Luau Records, a record label that I started up with my bandmates in Tone Deaf Teens. Crash The Luau started as a vehicle for us to put out our own CDs, but we ended up signing a couple of our friends' bands and putting their albums out as well.

"Drive" by 7 Degrees North (Crash The Luau Records)
So here's my quick and dirty tip list for DIY marketing:

1. Treat it as a business. Set up your record label or small press as a real company and treat it as such. For Crash The Luau Records, we formed a general partnership and had our own checking account and credit card and everything. I'm running Prism Valley Press as a sole proprietorship so it's not quite as fancy, but I still keep separate records for all my publishing-related expenses. Don't know anything about starting and running a business? See step #2.

2. Learn everything you can. When deciding on a major for college, I eschewed music or english and opted for business instead. My rationale was that I wanted to make a living with my art, and I knew that to do so, I would need to learn the business side of things. You don't have to go to that extreme, but with all the books and free advice resources out there, you can practically earn yourself an indie degree. If you don't like reading, seek out small labels or presses and offer them free help in exchange for on-the-job training.

3. Do something every day. Make it a goal to do at least one thing every day to promote your album, book, or whatever. Have a list of activities you can pick from so that you can choose something depending on your mood and schedule. Feeling social that day? Go out to a club and talk to the owner about booking your band there. Sick in bed? Write a blog entry about the last novel you read. Of course, if you have the time and energy, do more than one thing, just make sure to pace yourself so that you don't burn out. Which leads us to . . .

4. Don't get overwhelmed. It's not as hard as you think. I found that it helped to break the process down into the following sections:

     - Production (activities related to the actual creation of your album or book)
     - Promotion
       - Live (gigs, book signings, launch parties, etc.)
       - Print (newspapers, magazines)
       - Radio
       - TV
       - Internet (website, social media, blogs)
       - Other (flyers, etc.)
     - Distribution (how are you going to get your record or book into the hands of your fans/readers?)
     - Business/Misc. (registering your trade name, printing up business cards, etc.)

5. Explore as many opportunities as you can. There was a TV show called "Hot Hawaiian Nights" that featured bands and artists who played soft and mellow Hawaiian music. We sent them a Tone Deaf Teens press kit anyway. Turns out, the producer of the show was a fan of rock music (his favorite band was AC/DC) so he was actually excited and happy to book us on the show.

6. Think about baseball. Baseball players who fail 7 out of 10 times are doing great! Keep swinging and don't get discouraged.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Awesomeness Alert and Book Two Status Update

First off, if you haven't watched Jodi DiPiazza and Katy Perry singing "Firework" on Jon Stewart's Night of Too Many Stars, go and do that now.

Wasn't that amazing?

So Book Two is coming along. I've drafted about 4000 words so far, some of which will get cut, re-written, or otherwised sliced up and used as digital confetti (totally environmentally friendly, I promise). I find that I'm falling into a self-editing mode more often than I want to, which is slowing things up, but as I get further into the story I think I'll be able to ignore that inner critic's voice with a bit more regularity. That's my hope, anyway. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grub Street Reads Likes My Book!

Secret of the Songshell has just received a Grub Street Reads endorsement!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Grub Street Reads, they're a company that specializes in reviewing independently-published novels and endorses those that meet their quality standards. What kind of standards, you ask? Well, they include: well-developed characters, strong pacing, a well-researched world and a powerful overall voice.

Many books that they review don't earn their endorsement, so this is pretty cool. Check it out at www.grubstreetreads.com/books.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wordstock 2012

So this was my second year attending the Wordstock book fair at the Oregon Convention Center - my first year as a published author. I manned the Williamette Writers table for an afternoon shift (I signed up a new member!) and sold my book as well. This year's event was just as cool as last year's, except there weren't as many food choices.

Forgot to take a picture so instead here is the Wordstock logo
At last year's event, I attended a panel where several literary agents spoke. On my way out, I bumped into one of them in the elevator. For a moment, I thought that perhaps this was a moment of serendipity - that one day I could say, yes, I actually did meet my agent in an elevator. After I delivered my pitch, though, she informed me that she didn't handle YA sci-fi/fantasy (she wasn't just blowing me off - I confirmed this fact later on her website). So much for serendipity.

If you're an author and/or a lover of books, you really should check out Wordstock. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money: tickets this year were $7; parking was $7 for three hours or so; food at the restaurant was kinda pricey; and, of course, there were so many good books on sale. All things considered, I'd say it's worth it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bullying Panel

Last night I attended Autism Empowerment's Bullying Prevention & Support Panel. Lots of great information was shared. Much mahalos to my friends Karen and John of AE for allowing me to talk about my book while I was there.

Two messages struck me in particular: (1) when you have a problem with someone bullying your child, don't go directly to the bully's parents. Try to work through intermediaries like school officials, or members of law enforcement if necessary; and (2) your child will get through this. It's a difficult situation that is to be taken very seriously, but don't let it defeat you.

Joel, the protagonist in Secret of the Songshell, has his share of bully issues. He has one particular tormentor that revels in making up reasons to harrass Joel, mainly to cover for his own insecurities. Not to give away too much of the story here, but Joel is able to put what he's learned about dealing with bullies to good use on Spectraland, and the bully gets a bit of karmic payback later on.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Band Rec O' The Day

Saw the Zoobombs at East End last Friday. I'm going to refrain from superlatives here and just say that you should check them out and find out for yourself.

Apparently "Zoobombs" means "Rocks Really Hard" in Japanese
Also, try the fries at East End. They come with some kind of hot garlic sauce that does not contain ghost peppers.

That is all for now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Authors In Pubs

Had a fun time at Authors in Pubs on Monday night. I read a few pages from Secret of the Songshell, and I got to hear other great writers read from their works as well, including fellow NIWA member Jen Willis and Jonathan Ems, whose "Poop Story" was abso-freakin-lutely hilarious. Some cool art by local artist Tara Williams was also on display (hey Tara, your magnet looks good on my fridge).

The more you drink, the better I sound

Big mahalos to Adam and Andy from NIWA and my Willamette Writers buddy Gail (w/husband in tow) for coming out.

I highly recommend checking this event out (even when I'm not there). There's no cover charge, and the quality of local talent on display is, for the most part, pretty amazing. There's even live music! Plus, the Jack London Bar was recently listed in Playboy Magazine as one of the best bars in America. How's that for an endorsement? I have one quibble, which is that there are only two beers on tap (how is that possible in Portland?), but the service is good, the food is delicious (I had the shredded chicken tacos) and the atmosphere is very cool for the following reasons, in no particular order:

(1) the dim lighting;
(2) the make-out couches near the back of the room;
(3) the flyers plastered on the walls;
(4) an overall vibe that inexplicably feels divey and classy at the same time;
(5) the fact that you have to make your way through the Rialto poolroom and walk down a flight of stairs to get to the place;
(6) the Amazon Unicorn Warrior Bouncer Statue by the entrance.

Just another reason why being an author/artist/musician/random-creative-type in the Portland area is so damn awesome.