Writing Wednesday and the Monthly Meeting of the Insecure Writers…

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It is time for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group. No matter where you are in your writing journey chances are you occasionally have feelings of insecurity. No worry’s, link up and find all of the support you could possibly ask for. If you are in a good place perhaps you have some inspiration to share let’s face it we all feel the need for a bit of support from our friends.

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It is also Wednesday which means it is also:

 

WritingWednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my writing journey and on to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…

Public Relations (PR) Part 4- Writing a book as a PR tool

The official Merriam Webster definition of PR-

The activity or job of providing information about a particular person or organization to the public so that people will regard that person or organization in a favorable way.

 The relationship between an organization and the public.

You can read parts 1; 2 and 3 of PR tips here:

Part 1- http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5554 (Public Relations)

Part 2- http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5566 (Press Releases)

Part 3- http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5580 (TV and Radio Pitches)

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Publishing a book has never been easier and there are so many reasons to write a book these days other than the obvious of course which is because you are a writer and want a career as an author.

Books are becoming the new business card and can work for any business, product, non-profit or special event as a branding and PR tool. A book can generate income in many other areas besides book sales, speaking, consulting and services to name a few.

books

Once you have a book that has been well written you will gain immediate professional credibility.

50 % of all books written are ghost written. 80% of all non-fiction books are ghostwritten. If writing is not your strong suit consider hiring a writing coach or a ghost writer.

Remember:

Public Relations is not selling. Of course we all want to sell our books and a really good Marketing Plan that includes a good PR plan will help you achieve that goal but remember, PR is about goodwill and the audience.

As authors we always need to keep goodwill and audience in mind while we are interacting on social media. If a journalists is considering covering your event or writing an article on you he/she will Google you as will a TV or radio producer.  Don’t post anything you don’t want them to see.

If you cant say nice say it in french

That said; it is okay to occasionally be ‘controversial’ for the sake of discussion or debate but try to maintain professionalism

Auto Correct is a nightmare for me and I am sure it is for you too. As writers we have to be extra diligent to ensure our words no matter where we put them are grammatically correct. I struggle with this…

Happy Writing,

Doreen

It’s almost time! Have you signed up yet?

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I will hopefully be enjoying some much needed sunshine and a mini vacation in Florida next week so Writing Wednesday will be on hiatus. #Daytonabeachbikeweek

 

But first I am SO excited to be going to the very first BAM Conference! #BAMC15

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Keep Moving Forward…

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Keep Moving Forward…

CHALLENGE:

I will post an entry in the Keep Moving Forward Challenge every Thursday from now through March 2015. To join in on the journey, use the comment section to tell us about how you “kept moving forward” that week. Write about it on your own blog (and include the link in the comments), make a video, and/or use the hashtag #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on the social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Visit the Challenge host, Kelly here:

http://kellydeeny.com/2015/02/05/keep-moving-forward-challenge-week-1/

Please make sure to use #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on social media so that we can comment, like, share, favorite, or retweet!

I felt like I was stuck all last week and not doing much to move myself forward. Feeling so stuck that I couldn’t even figure out what to share here. I went back and took inventory of what I actually did accomplish each day last week. What I realized was I do not give myself enough credit. Too much time is wasted on keeping the inventory of what I didn’t complete instead of celebrating what was done.  My hours have increased at my out of the house job so I should be celebrating my accomplishments and allowing myself a bit of extra rest.

Why do we (women) focus more on our failures and less on our successes? We are so uncomfortable accepting praise from others and even more uncomfortable with praising ourselves. It isn’t easy but it is possible to erase that tape in our mind that continuously plays and tells us we have to do and be more.

Quote Keep Moving Forward

On the other hand I do waste some time and could definitely be more organized so I also don’t want to fall into the train of thought that says that is okay either. I need to work more on balance and more on my focus. After all focus is my word of the year.

My goals for this week are overwhelming. I need to get ready for two trips. The A-to-Z Challenge is right around the corner and I’m a ‘minion,’ a helper to one of the co-hosts. I have chosen a theme and now I want to at least title all 26 posts and outline them before I leave. During the trip I am hoping to get a few of the posts written.

How do you handle praise and/or compliments?

Doreen

 

#KeepMovingForwardChallenge

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Writing Wednesday PR Part 3 TV and Radio Pitches

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WritingWednesday

Typewriter Pink

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…

PR Part 3 Writing TV and RadioPitches

To read part 1 and part 2:

Part 2- PR Writing Press Releases -http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5566

Part 1- PR for books/authors -http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5554

Like I said in part 1 and part 2, if you can hire a PR professional they are well worth the investment. If the funds are not in your budget it is possible to write your own media pitches. I will confess, writing media pitches ranks right up there with writing the query and the synopsis but the process does make us better writers.

If you have been following along you are aware that as an author your goal is to write and sell books but when pitching the media you will need to switch gears and pitch your expertise and an idea that will be of interest to the entire viewing/listening audience. You are all about you and selling your book but the media is all about their target audience. The host will mention your book and if you were an interesting guest the audience will be interested in looking up your book. Commercials are for selling products.

TV

Before you write your pitch you will want to research the show or shows you intend to pitch. Is the audience the right one for your message? Pitching a show that would have no interest is your message is a waste of time.

There is no doubt that the media landscape is changing as quickly and as drastically as the publishing industry. Staff is limited and producers are under a lot of pressure to fill airtime with guests that will be of interest to their audiences. The opportunity is there for you if you can develop the skill of pitching.

Once you have crafted your elevator speech and have figured out what your specific area of expertise is writing your pitch letter will be easier.

TV/Radio Pitch Writing Tips:

Do not pitch on social media. Social media is a great place to connect with producers, not a good place to pitch them. Send an e-mail. On most station websites you can find the information you need to submit a pitch. It isn’t always easy to find but it is there.

Start with local programs to gain confidence and experience.

Your pitch should be custom targeted to each producer. Get to know the shows you are pitching. Watch and listen, often.

Come up with a great headline, no more than 8 words.

Next is the tagline. It should be 2 or 3 sentences. Think hook and elevator pitch. Chances are if you don’t hook them here they won’t read any further.

Next you want to answer these questions. Why you are the best person to speak on this topic, why your subject will interest their audience and why their audience needs the information you have and why they need it now.

You want to be as clear and concise as possible. Don’t add fluff.

Next you want to suggest a segment.TV producers will need to be able to visualize what you are pitching and radio producers will need to visualize what the segment will sound like. Describe the segments to them.

radio

Create a media kit. I will write about media kits in Part 4.

Have you written a pitch letter? Do you have any tips to add?

Happy writing,

Doreen

 

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Keep Moving Forward…

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Keep Moving Forward Challenge:

I will post an entry in the Keep Moving Forward Challenge every Thursday from now through March 2015. To join in on the journey, use the comment section to tell us about how you “kept moving forward” that week. Write about it on your own blog site (and include the link in the comments), make a video, and/or use the hashtag #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on the social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

Host: http://kellydeeny.com/2015/02/05/keep-moving-forward-challenge-week-1/

Please make sure to use #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on social media so that we can comment, like, share, favorite, or retweet!

 

Keep Moving Forward

It’s always easier to move forward when we have something to look forward to or something or someone special waiting for us.

I am an obsessive planner. I want to know what is happening every second of everyday and if for some reason I can’t know, I become anxious. Then there are those times that you know something unpleasant is coming and thinking about it causes anxiety.

confused woman

Before a recent surgery on my jaw (the 6th in a series of 8,) I was anxious because I knew the recovery would be painful and long. I also knew I would be craving my favorite foods for weeks.

I gave up worrying two years ago for New Year’s and an exercise I used to stop worrying was to close my eyes and imagine the most positive outcome for the situation that had me stuck in worry. If I was worried about my daughter arriving safely with the children, I closed my eyes and pictured them walking through the door.  That positive thinking is pretty much a habit now.

Recently I started using that exercise to help me get unstuck, to give me something to look forward to when I moved forward.

Faking it till you make it is working for me.

Before that recent surgery I pictured myself on the other side of recovery enjoying a steak and a salad, smiling. It wasn’t easy but it did help.

Feeling stuck during the editing of The Stranger In MyRecliner, frustrated with waiting for the answers to research questions and dealing with seemingly endless contract issues, the anxiety tried to get the best of me. When I felt the familiar soreness creeping in on my shoulders I would get up from the computer and take a break. I would close my eyes and imagine myself at a Barnes & Noble author event or a book signing/happy hour at the most amazing place for a book signing, the library at my favorite beach.

Doreen and Barbara meet IRL Schaivo Library (at the beach)

Doreen and Barbara meet IRL Schaivo Library (at the beach)

I used to get into a lot of trouble for daydreaming when I was younger. Spending time imagining positive outcomes feels a lot like daydreaming but today I’d rather think of it as time well wasted, like a vacation for my mind that fuels my creativity and leaves me wanting to #Keep Moving Forward.

 

Florida Does Beach Feet

 

Doreen

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/ PR Part 2/ Press Releases

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WritingWednesday

Typewriter Pink

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips to share please do…

Public Relations PR Part 2/ Press Releases

Just when you thought writing the book was the hard part you were told you had to write a synopsis, then an outline, a proposal and the hardest of all a query letter.  You finish all of those and breathe a big sigh of release only to find out you need to write marketing, advertising and PR plans and those include writing press releases and media pitches.

Writing is hard

If you have the budget to hire a professional to write and submit your press releases for you, they are well worth the money. If a professional isn’t in your budget no fears, you can write your own.

The fact that you wrote and published a book is not ‘newsworthy’ to most media outlets. They are looking for news that is of interest to their entire audience.

The main thing you have to remember when writing a press release is you are informing the audience of something important to them, you are not promoting your book (that would be considered advertising.) What expertise or insight have you gained from writing your book? If you wrote a book about your transition from the corporate world to owning a bakery perhaps your angle could be ‘the pros and cons of opening a small business in (name of town,) or tips on how to have a memorable celebration. The possibilities are endless but you should choose 2 or 3 and stick with them.

The second thing to remember is keep it concise and professional. Use simple words.

The third thing is to send it to the right place. Do the research. Make sure the publication is right for ‘your news.’ If it isn’t something their readers would be interested in, you are wasting your time and theirs.  My suggestion is to start small, think close to home. Your small hometown paper, magazine or newsletter is a great place to start. On most media websites you can find a place to submit press releases. Does your alma mater have a newspaper or newsletter, does your church? Once you have submitted to these local publications submit to 3 or 4 city papers closest to home. You can expand from there.

Newspaper photo

There are web based businesses that are promising to distribute your press release, for a fee. It is time consuming but you are better off looking up the publications and submitting to them yourself.

Do not submit press releases to the same publication more than once a month unless the news is really big.

Tips on format:

Your headline has to be fabulous and should be no more than 8 words. You only have about 15 words to grab an editor’s attention so the headline counts big-time.

Next you want to put your first choice for the date you want the release to be published. Most people put, For Immediate Release.

Next you want to write an introductory paragraph. Press releases are written in third person. If you are announcing a book event, mention that and the host and any other authors involved. Think hooking the reader here.

Next you want to go more into ‘the news of your release,’ answering the who, what, why, when and where questions. Remember you cannot ‘sell’ in a press release so don’t mention where your book can be purchased. You want the ‘news’ of the release to be so good that the reader will go look for your book.

A short bio comes next and then you want to list your contact information. Let the editor know what contact information you want published and what information you don’t want published. I usually list only an e-mail publicly. If it is for a book event you can list the phone number of the book store or wherever the event is being held.

When a publication does publish your press release, thank them, promote them and share on social media.

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Next week: PR part 3-TV and radio pitches.

 

 

 

 

What unique angle or area of expertise can you use to make your book, WIP or your blog newsworthy?

Happy writing,

Doreen

*** Before the angel of success arrives in your life, you should devote yourself to preparing your welcome for her. Polish your craft and strengthen your body to be fit so that you can do your job and enjoy success when it comes. Sharpen your mind and spirit so they are ready to face the challenges that accompany a visit from the angel of success. If you are not ready when the angel knocks, she will flee. And who knows when she will make it back around to your door again. Unknown ***

Angel pic

Will I see you here?

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Or here?

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Keep Moving Forward…

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The year 2014 did not start well for me. I lost my father unexpectedly in January and my best friend passed away on my birthday in February. I am grateful that I was by their sides and able to say goodbye but moving forward, past the shock and then the pain, has not come easy. In fact I have pretty much been stuck.

My friend and the facilitator of Bucks County creative Explorers, Kelly wrote a blog post about being stuck. She wrote that she felt like her feet were stuck in concrete. That is exactly how I was feeling too.

Kelly then posted this challenge. If you are also feeling stuck please join us. Let’s inspire each other to smash our concrete shoes.

CHALLENGE:

Kelly's logo Keep moving forward challenge

I will post an entry in the Keep Moving Forward Challenge every Thursday from now through March 2015. To join in on the journey, use the comment section to tell us about how you “kept moving forward” that week. Write about it on your own blog site (and include the link in the comments), make a video, and/or use the hashtag #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on the social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

http://kellydeeny.com/2015/02/05/keep-moving-forward-challenge-week-1/

Please make sure to use #KeepMovingForwardChallenge on social media so that we can comment, like, share, favorite, or retweet!

January 2015 started on a happier note. I finally signed the contract for my second book, The Stranger In My Recliner and it will be out later this year.

February has me feeling down. Has it really been a year since I said goodbye? I work part-time for a home care agency and my long time client was moved into a nursing facility on Monday, unexpectedly. She is 92 so chances are I have another goodbye coming soon. This client has been so supportive of me and my writing. My father and friend were extremely supportive too.

Dad and Me

Having something exciting to look forward to, like a new book release to plan for, a trip to Nashville for a blogging conference (BAM) and a trip to Daytona Beach to spend time with my Mom and for bike week usually would be enough to pull me out of my grief. It isn’t working.

I know what will work for me and that is helping someone else. My client needs extra care and extra comforting. Being moved from a large, lovely home into a dingy nursing home room is so depressing. The room is too bright at night and too dark during the day, loud and stinky. Change is hard for everyone but at 92 it is heartbreaking. Change with care is compassion and that is what I need to be for her now, compassionate.

My concrete shoes are so heavy but looking on the bright side they will probably keep me from slipping and breaking my neck during our impending ice storm.

I cannot get this song out of my head:

http://youtu.be/OORsz2d1H7s

 

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Writing Wednesday/ Book PR

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Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and getting ready to publish again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Whichever path you choose to take for your book, traditional, independent or self-publishing the fact is you will be responsible for marketing your book.  As soon as you start writing a book you should start writing a marketing plan. A marketing plan has three major parts, marketing advertising and public relations.

I wrote about marketing plans here: doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5230

Advertising here: http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5540

Public Relations (PR) Part 1

Any book can become a best seller if it is written and marketed well. You must create a reason for people to ‘need’ your book. A good Public relations professional is well worth the investment if your publisher does not provide one. If hiring a PR rep is not in your budget, no worries.

What exactly are public relations?

It is the professional maintenance of a favorable public image for you and your business.

The art of managing the spread of information between your business and the public.

Megaphone

Planning Promotions for the purpose of creating goodwill

Creating an author platform

Publicity- press releases- media pitches- communication intended to create a positive image

 

Creating promotional text, audio, and video

Planning launches, conferences, book signings etc…

Creating promotional materials- business cards, book markers, post cards etc…

Some tips for putting your PR plan together:

Know what is news- News is information that is relevant to the public as a whole. Sadly for us writers, putting our hearts, souls and in most cases a lot of time, a year sometimes more of our lives into our work, experiencing rejection on steroids over and over again and ending up finally, as a published author is NOT news. There are more than a half-million of us a year and the numbers keep growing.

To become newsworthy you must establish yourself as an expert. This is a little bit easier for non-fiction writers but definitely possible for fiction writers.

Press Club Comcast

My second book, The Stranger In My Recliner is the story of a homeless woman named Sophie. My husband brought her home and she lived with us for nearly three-years. After experiencing first-hand the lack of action by government, community and private agencies, the research I did on homelessness, interviewing her friends and family I feel comfortable saying I am an expert on the topic of homelessness.

If you are stuck figuring out your topic of expertise ask your beta readers what message they received from your story…

Have a concise message, who; what; why; when and where. Have you perfected your two or three line elevator speech?

Know who you are pitching. You don’t want to pitch your expertise on rebuilding car engines to the entertainment reporter.

Follow journalist, producers and reporters on twitter but DO NOT pitch them on social media. Trust me just don’t. Simply be entertaining but professional. Join the conversation and favorite and like their stuff, not all of their stuff because that can make you look like a stalker. Be patient…

Have you joined HARO?  http://helpareporter.com

Next week I will share tips on writing a press release and a media pitch.

What is your area of expertise?

Happy writing,

Doreen

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.” Joseph Pullitzer 1847-1911

I would love to connect with you here:

http://www.twitter.com/doreenb8

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bristol-boyzStomp/113804488656243

I’m going!

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I’m a minion:

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Shotgun Rider, BAM and A-Z…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and link back to our host Mrs. 4444 at Half-Past Kissin’ Time.

Friday Fragments logo

 

It’s not too late to join in on the fun and we would love to have you!

It has been a month since I last participated so I am full of fragments.

I had another jaw surgery the first week of January. This was the 7th surgery on my jaw/mouth in 2 ½ years. This one was rough. I am SO glad that one is done. It feels so good to be eating real food again!

One month from today I will be in Nashville for the very first BAM blogging conference. I am so excited that I will be meeting in person, some of the most supportive blogging friends. Did I say I was excited?

http://midlifeboulevard.com/bam-conference/

BAM-FB-cover

 

Those of you, fragmenters that know me know that the first week of March my husband and I always attend bike week in Daytona Beach.

48249_4432869015482_120507747_o

Because of the BAM conference we will be leaving 3 days late. It’s a good thing bike week is actually 10 days long. My plane from Nashville will land in Philly Sunday afternoon and I will hop in the truck and head south. I’m sure this song will be playing because John has been singing it to me for a month now.

http://youtu.be/BkpuLMsDn48

Tim McGraw

 

While I was recovering from surgery we binge watched the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. I had seen a few episodes and I couldn’t wait to catch up. It is so hard to wait till Sunday now.

The sign-up list is open for the April A-Z Challenge! I will be helping out with the challenge again this year and I would love to see your blog on the list! You can find all of the details here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

A to Z 2015 Badge

 

This time last year I was in North Carolina helping to care for my dear friend Joelle. I cannot believe it has been almost a year since we lost her. #ihatecancer

My long time elderly client has taken a turn. My day job is awfully sad sometimes.

My other job is going very well. The Stranger In My Recliner is about to go into production and I cannot wait to share Sophie’s story with you.

I am going to go watch a mindless, stupid reality show because my head is about to explode from the news.

How did your week go? Seen any movies? Have you had snow?

Have a blessed weekend!

Doreen

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/Book Advertising

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WritingWednesday

Typewriter Pink

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Book Advertising

In past weeks I’ve written about how important it is for authors to have a marketing plan. A marketing plan contains three components, Marketing; Advertising and Public Relations.  They are all different and equally important to ensure the success of any business including the business of selling books. We’ve all heard the saying you have to spend money to make money. Advertising is the marketing you pay for and should be an essential part of your marketing plan. That said, you should not rush out and haphazardly start ordering ads. A little research and a good plan can make the difference between ads that actually sell books and opening the door and tossing your money into the wind.

If you wrote a proposal for your book (and I hope you did) you, already know who your target audience is. If not you can learn more about proposals here: http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5141

When creating your advertising plan you need to figure out how to reach that target audience. If you can afford an advertising agency, great but it is not necessary.

As writers when we think of advertising I imagine most of us think of a full page ad in the New York Times Book section. If you can afford that, go for it but chances are you will not recoup your investment.

The mistakes I made when first advertising Bristol boyz Stomp were to just choose as many outlets as I could afford without a plan.

My advice would be to concentrate on advertising outlets that are available to you locally. Most local media outlets will offer you a consultant free of charge. Keep in mind that there job is to sell you advertising and you will need to read between the lines before deciding what is best for you and your book.

Print Advertising- Look into local ‘free’ newspapers, magazines, college/university newspapers and special sections of local larger newspapers. Most of these have the capacity to target specific demographic areas. Billboards are another form of print advertising. I know an author that had great success with a billboard on a major highway and another that did not have success with the billboard on the same highway. One was a business book and the other was a novel. It is now obvious to me that business people spend a lot of time on that highway so the ad for the business book caught their eye. Billboards are very expensive so before making that decision, make sure the people reading it are likely readers of your book. There are less expensive alternatives to billboards. Look into train stations, bus and taxi advertising opportunities.

billboard

T.V. Advertising- During the Super bowl 30 second ads go for 4.5 million dollars but there are many less expensive alternatives. Look into rates/specials with your local T.V and cable companies. They too in most cases can target specific demographics.

TV

Radio- Some smaller, local radio stations have specific and loyal audiences. If one of them is an eldercare show and your book is on care-giving, the audience would be interested in your book. In that case radio advertising would be a good investment.

radio

Internet- the opportunities for online advertising are diverse. What worked for me was placing ads on my local t.v. news outlet website and paid Facebook ads. What didn’t work for me were book blog tours. I had some success placing ads on websites/blogs that featured topics ‘my readers’ would be interested in.

internet photo

Once you create your marketing/advertising/PR plan try to stick with it for at least a quarter but don’t be afraid to tweak it a little if something is clearly working or not working. Consistency matters when it comes to marketing.

What paid ads have prompted you to pay for a book?

Happy Writing,

Doreen

 

 

 

 

 

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The Forgotten Women…

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I wrote this three-years ago and today, because of my day job I needed to rewrite it and share with you…

Forgotten Women

I am thinking today of some forgotten women. My ‘day’ job is the reason I am thinking of them. These women were at one time loved and cherished wives, daughters, sisters and friends to someone. Many of them were responsible for blazing the path for all of us by becoming the first female doctors, lawyers and business owners. I am thinking today of the forgotten women that once lived glorious happy hour, dinner party lives and were the leaders of the wood- paneled station wagon brigade and served as the heart and soul of their families.

station wagon wood panel

I think of a woman that lives in a ‘too do’ retirement community. For 30 years she was the mistress of a ‘big time’ political figure. She was also a successful doctor. Today she huddles in fear of the outside world and lives with the mission of accumulating enough food for Armageddon. Her condo walls are lined from floor to ceiling with cases of canned sardines, peas and store brand sodas.

I think of a woman, who for years took care of her terminally ill sister and then her aging parents, never once complaining. She never had a social life or any kind of life that was her own. She now lives in fear, alone in a big house with dementia and a senile old dog. She is scared of death, strokes, fires and burglars.

I am thinking of a one-hundred and one year-old socialite who believes and will debate you to exhaustion on the subject that America went to hell in a hand basket the minute we sent girls to college.

I think of a ninety-seven year old, southern belle who was the proud ‘woman’ that stood by her famous man, raised two very successful and well grounded children and she still lives on her own within a retirement community. She kicks my butt power walking every time.

I think of a woman who worked through the war and then supported her husband through business school. That man went on to become a successful retailer. He worked so hard to give his wife and children the world that he ended up in an early grave. This woman now lives in one of the worst ‘facilities’ I have ever seen. Not the least expensive by far just the worst.

I think of another woman with a drop-dead gorgeous home, glorious gardens and a closet full of designer clothing. For her career she chose to be a professional volunteer. Whatever the latest cause, she could be counted on. Now she cannot remember her name. Her husband, with his own issues, screams at her and pushes her because she cannot remember how to run the washing machine or to shut the refrigerator door. She cowers in fear. I suspect he has always been abusive.

4016095-elderly-woman-with-worry-in-her-eyes-and-demeanor

I think of a mother with dementia living in a nursing home. She whines for months to her daughter. “I just don’t understand why they always hit me.” The daughter questions the staff and she is told it is the dementia. The daughter finally purchases a nanny cam and is completely wracked with guilt when the images clearly show the aides had been hitting, actually torturing her mother because her nightmares disturb their smoking breaks.

In facilities all over America, there are amazing mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They have been placed in these facilities by well meaning and loving family members. In the beginning, the family visits often. Then life gets in the way. The new normal sets in and the visits become more and more infrequent. When they visit again and find their Mom rocking in the corner and peeing in her shoes, they call me, or someone like me to ‘spend time’ with their loved one.

eye-crying

This ‘day’ job breaks my heart every day. It is also such a blessing. Whatever or wherever these women came from one thing is for certain, they all have their own stories to tell. Stories of scarlet fever outbreaks, slavery, world fairs, their first ride in an automobile, the first time they used a telephone or watched television. They speak with wonder of the installation of plumbing and electric in their homes. They talk of the endless summer hours they spent as little girls wandering around fields or lying in the grass daydreaming of handsome husbands, adorable children and fancy parties in their futures.

My ‘girlfriends’ may not remember my name or their own name for that matter but they do remember where they came from and they miss their families. They live to tell stories of their grandchildren’s talents and accomplishments. My heart hurts for them because their grown grandchildren never visit.

I will never forget these special women, with whom I have shared my deepest secrets and in return, they have shared their rich histories with me. A special place has been born in my heart for these forgotten ladies of yesterday who have taught me so very much about myself, life, compassion and redemption.

Have you forgotten anyone?

 

 

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  • Never a Dull Moment March 3, 2015
    I visited Kendall in Minnesota this weekend. Mr.4444 got home late Friday night from a business trip, so he decided he'd stay home this time; he gets other opportunities to visit Kendall.When Mr.4444 is home alone, he gets bored and lonesome. He always gets especially bored in the evening and sends numerous corny texts. On […]