Monday, May 16, 2016

Linda Phillips: On Marketing, Celebrating Mental Health Month, and a FANTASTIC Giveaway!

Congratulations to J.Q. Rose who won a 1000 word, pitch, and query letter critique from Joan Edwards on last week's blog. 

This week we're hearing from Linda Phillips who is a familiar face to many of you. Her book CRAZY, came out in 2014 and she's still marketing it--although this maybe a "novel" idea for many of you. Take it away, Linda! 

Carol:  I understand you tried a new way to market CRAZY.  Care to explain what you did and how you got the idea?

Linda:  I recently exhibited the book at the Blue Ridge Bookfest, which means I wasn’t a speaker but was invited to set up a table and sell my book.  While we are speaking about marketing tools, book festivals are an interesting lot.  You need to choose them wisely, unless you have unlimited time and funds.  Many times you have to pay a registration fee, sometimes you must join the organization with an even higher fee, most times you must foot your own bill for lodging, and they usually span two days of your time.  Unless you are the featured speaker or a well-known name, you will probably average around a half-dozen sales.  But the upside is the networking, and that almost always leads to lucrative new connections, ideas, or gigs.  

Back to the Blue Ridge. Someone mentioned a well-known author who originally boosted his sales by buying up his own books.  That got me thinking outside the box, and on the drive home, I came up with this idea.  My book is about a teenage girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness, and May happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month.  What if I bought up some of my own books and gave them away, with the asking price of a review on Goodreads?  My agent is currently shopping my second book and she keeps reminding me that potential editors love to prowl around and look at your numbers.  The idea seemed like a win-win situation.

Carol:  How did it turn out?  What were your expectations for this experiment?  Did you meet them?

Linda:  I’ve learned over the past year-and-a-half that lower expectations reap happier results.  I put a notice on our neighborhood list serve, as well as posting on Facebook, and told myself I would be happy if I connected with a half-dozen people.  On Saturday morning I parked myself at the top of my driveway with a lawn chair and a sign, another book to read, and a bag of my books.  Here are the results:
  • Three responses from FB, including a hospital chaplain.  
  • One neighborhood acquaintance who, unbeknownst to me, is a retired counselor.
  • Two neighbors whose family members have bipolar.
  • A college student majoring in Psychology who gave me the name of her professor.  (By the end of the afternoon, I had a presentation booked with this professor.)
  • Another college professor had committed by email, and became discouraged when she discovered she couldn’t use my driveway and would have to cross the street.  
  • And sadly, more than one person who quickened his or her steps to rush by me after reading my sign, or crossed the street before having to pass by me.  If you are counting, you’ll note that I made seven positive face-to-face encounters.  I’d call it cheaper, more satisfying and certainly as successful as any book festival I’ve attended recently.  

Carol:  Would you do it again?  How would you change it?

Linda:  Yes, I am hoping to repeat it a couple more times during the month of May.  Unfortunately most of the colleges are between semesters right now.  I’m toying with the idea of sitting in front of the trunk of my car in a key parking lot, but I haven’t firmed that up yet!  Certainly if I do it again at home, I will move onto the grass so someone can pull into my driveway.  We live on a busy street, and I just hadn’t thought that one through.  Ah, the intricacies of marketing!  And if I really get gutsy, the thought occurred to me that the idea might be newsworthy and a phone call to the local paper might be in order.

Carol:  Can you share any of the conversations you had?  

Linda:  The conversations with those who “connected” followed the same pattern I’ve seen since the beginning of promoting my book.  There is a look of understanding, something that clicks in the person’s life experience that erases stigma and opens the way for awareness and acceptance.  I know that is general, but it is really the best payback I have received with CRAZY.  My goal from the beginning was to start a dialogue about mental illness, and I feel gratified and thankful that it has happened every step of the way, one person at a time.

I would just like to add that I can step back and see the change that has happened within myself as a writer since October 2014.  I think being comfortable giving the book away marks a new phase for me.  You might call it not taking myself so seriously, not taking the writing life so seriously, getting a grip, chilling out, or you name it.  I think it’s like trying to get pregnant, or being a new parent.  Once you relax, good things start happening. 
How about you? Would you be willing to read and review CRAZY? If so, Linda will send you an autographed copy. All you have to do is be one of the first five people to email Linda by noon on May 20 and promise to post a review on Goodreads. Here is Linda's email address: Enter soon!


sheri levy said...

Great idea, Linda. I have read it and will add another review to Goodreads!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Sheri!

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks, Sherri! I didn't know Goodreads would let you post more than one review for the same book, but I do appreciate it!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for sharing a post about Linda Vigen Phillips awesome marketing ideas.

Dear Linda Vigen Phillips,
So very proud of you! Thinking outside the box has given you many new opportunities to share your book and open avenues for people to talk with you and others about mental illness.

Love you both,
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Author of Joan's Elder Care Guide

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Wow! Such an interesting concept. I am impressed. I've read the book. And highly recommend it but I don't think I reviewed it. I'm so neglectful about reviews and blogging. I want to but am almost afraid to promise! But I will definitely link on FB.

Young Authors Program said...

What an awesome idea! I love this! I am all about being creative, and this definitely is a great example of that. Way to go, Linda!!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Joyce, Joan, and Dorothy, for leaving comments. Sure it'll be an encouragement to Linda to hear your thoughts on her marketing program!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Carol, Thank you for featuring this amazing author. It seems we have to continually come up with new ways to market ourselves and our books, and that can lead to some interesting outcomes. Kudos to Linda for her creative ideas! Like Joyce I'm afraid I'm neglectful about reviewing. I will, however, tweet this post a couple of times.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara, for sharing LInda's book however you choose to share it!

Linda A. said...

Carol and Linda,
Thanks for posting a fun marketing idea and insights learned along the publishing journey, as well as professional growth and inner peace!

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Linda!

Anna E. G. said...

I loved reading about the marketing process of CRAZY in this post. Mental Health Awareness Month is a wonderful thing and it always makes me smile to see people participating. I have sent Linda an email about the giveaway. :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Anna- I'm so glad you're taking LInda up on her offer. You (and your mother!) will love this book. Great!!

Michelle Leonard said...

Ack! I just realized I'd failed to leave reviews for you, Linda! Congrats on such a beautifully written and important story. And thanks for sharing your out-of-the-box marketing idea. I'm impressed! I just left reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N. Best wishes on novel #2!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Michelle. I know LInda appreciates your support!

miriam said...

Carol, I'm still not getting notifications about your blog but glad I did a search to catch up on your posts!

Linda, I love your new marketing strategy! As a debut writer who hasn't been to a single book festival or conference, I applaud your efforts to get your book out there. I think you could definitely pick up some press with your unique take on marketing, and I love your thoughts about not taking the writing life so seriously after a year and a half of being a published author! Good luck with your next book!

Oh, and one more thing- when I checked Goodreads I didn't see a review from me but I'm sure I rated and reviewed. So it either got moved or I've just written a second one. I apologize if it never showed up- next time check in if you don't see a review from me! Author friends need to help each other out!!

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks to ALL of you who have responded so graciously to Carol's post and to my flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants marketing idea! And thanks for the reviews and kind words. I realize Goodreads isn't everybody's favorite place to hang out, including mine, so I do appreciate the efforts. I love that, as writers, we are learning as we go, and helping each other every step of the way. It makes this "crazy" business a whole lot more fun to know you aren't going it alone. Love to all!

Carol Baldwin said...

Happy to have hosted you, Linda!

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