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  • Cate

A Weekend Away

What else does a Canberra based author do as the cold weather creeps in, but escape to warmer climes?

Okay, light the fire, pop on your favourite fluffy jumper, heat up the hot chocolate... I actually really like the colder weather (with the caveat that I have access to comfy firesides, fluffy jumpers, and hot chocolate) but this weekend away in warmer climes held further enticements. Greenleaf Press were hosting a VIP Book Marketing Weekend. Yes, yes, I know. Marketing. Ughhh. It just happens that marketing is my nemesis.

Proof of the pudding, I wrote a perfectly good book (well, I think so) and everyone who read it who has got back to me has told me so (I’ve had some of the most gorgeous emails from young readers and their parents), but, and this is a big but, none of the Big Influencers noticed it.

I had one gorgeous review at Mandy's Book Nook. From a friend. Bless. It was a good review, too, and I really appreciated it, but the fact of the matter is, that was it. No-one else noticed. The grey ghost strikes again. Oh, I was told someone in Kids' Book Review (I lo-o-o-ve KBR) was going to review it (but, being a longer, middle grade book, it was less popular than all the gorgeous picture books out there)... and I was told that someone at one of the big papers had a copy, but... time and effort you know.

Stop Press: I just found a lovely junior review on KBR. Woo hoo! And now one on CBCA Reading Time --how did I miss these?! (although the Reading Time one has a quibble...) Further proof. Sales. Lower than expected. Which is why, all you gorgeous people out there holding your breath for ‘the next book’ in the series, there won’t be one. I’m sad, too. But there you are.

there is nothing quite like a sad puppy to get the meaning across

Time to move on. It’s a fact that in this day and age of so many tremendously fantastic amazingly wonderful books that the author has to be the one to not only write the book, but promote the book. I did my best, with posts on facebook and... okay not my best... ...which is why, when faced with a choice of paying for a weekend in Maroochydore with Aleesah Darlison, the CBCA Conference in Canberra, or joining a heap of Duckie friends (I’ll try and explain one day, if you aren’t already swimming in the Duckpond) in Melbourne for Scribbles and KidLitVic, I chose the amazing Aleesah, who I knew would be delivering the goods I need right now (as opposed to all the other shiny things), and deliver she did. Bonus was having a family long weekend away in a gorgeous Airbnb, but I won’t go into that right now. Especially since I left them to it for two days and headed over to the very scenic Maroochy Waterfront Camp & Conference Centre to meet up with 30 like-minded individuals and a host of wonderful presenters dead set on setting us on the right course. Aleesah set the ball rolling with an intensive on Developing Your Own Marketing Plan, guiding us through what we need to do to come up with a marketing plan of our own and how to keep our books alive and selling beyond the release date (I think my book would need resurrecting completely, so I’m looking forward at this point to what I can do to get my next title out and about more successfully). Lizzie Henebery, who has her own consulting business, then inspired us all with what we can do to with Social Media Strategies and Online Promotion to engage followers and promote our own brand. It was a great relief to me that this was mostly about making connections and not about getting all sales-y (one doesn’t find blowing one’s own trumpet very easy), and was filled with great advice to get things up and running. Zoë Sparks (Spectacular Events & Shine Business Women) continued the theme with Cultivating Your Author Brand & the Importance of Networking. This was about the importance of image and the author as the brand, or ‘selling the story of you’. (Here’s a little piece of the story of me... it just started snowing and now all I want to do is sit and watch it fall outside my window. It’s probably too wet to ‘stick’ but, oh, my, how I love snow!)

That was it for Day 1, other than a personal meeting with Aleesah to critique my marketing plan, which was a bit vague at that point but I now have a heap of advice to get it up to speed, and dinner with the lovely booksellers from Annie’s Books on Peregian who were eager to give us some insight from their point of view and how they have helped launch and support some pretty amazing authors from all genres. Sadly, I failed in my quest to get to their bookshop before I left the lovely Sunshine Coast, time.... Sunday, Day 2, continued the intensive with lovely Michelle Worthington who talked to us about Seizing the Day – Making Your Own Opportunities to Drive Book Sales and how thinking outside the box can create unique promotional opportunities. This was all about telling a story and personalising the message, and was about thinking about who we wanted to be known as (or what we wanted to be remembered for), connecting with people, and taking responsibility for promoting ourselves. After lunch we then took on the challenge of Public Speaking for Authors with Russell Hampson, who not only plied us with dos and don’ts but plunged us in the deep end with some impromptu speeches. I think we all had our hearts in our mouths at this stage, but despite our nerves, I think we had some fun. After that it was time for a wrap up with Aleesah and then we all said our goodbyes, having developed new friendships and strengthened old ones. I’ve come away with pages and pages of notes that I now have to sift through for the gems that I know I will use and then get stuck into my marketing plan for Emergency Rescue Angel, which doesn’t seem quite so daunting any more. I just have to do it! Wish me luck... Many thanks to Greenleaf Press for organising an informative and enjoyable weekend. Much as I would have liked to hit Melbourne with the Duckies, I know I made the right choice.

with just some of the great crowd of authors

who were at the VIP weekend

and here I am with Aleesah

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