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Countdown to Selling a Christmas Story

Guest blog by Paul Navarro, author of The Gift Giver 

Time, time, time. My biggest sin is time—I have treated it with callous disregard. Let me tell you how. 

I wrote my children’s Christmas story, The Gift Giver, years ago, maybe three. And before that, it had been in my head for about a decade. So that’s 13 years I had to come up with a marketing plan for The Gift Giver. Thirteen years to secure media time, schedule appearances, do a real build up to Black Friday (when most people start their Christmas shopping). But, I didn’t do any of those things.

In my defense, it’s been a hell of a year.
1)    I finished polishing up my middle grade novel, The Incredible Misadventures of Zadora Zane, so my agent could start sending it out;
2)    I finished up an application to a prestigious grad program (getting together all the materials was no small feat); and the biggest thing of all;
3)    I got married.

So, it didn’t appear like the optimal year to release a book, especially when you factor in the fact that I’d never self-published a book before. But I’m nothing if not optimistic.  

Mounting the self-publishing mountain
I came back from my honeymoon at the end of October bound and determined to have this children’s book out by Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, looking back that may have been a little too ambitious. Doing all the illustrations myself and rewriting the manuscript about a dozen times, I finally had a draft I was proud of by the end of November. It then took me several days to figure out how to upload it to Amazon with all the formatting intact, all the while the number of shopping days until Christmas dwindling away—just like the song. (Is there a song for that? Well, there should be one.) Anyway, I did it. I got my book listed in all the major eReaders with a print version on Whew!

But what now? 

Nightmare before Christmas
With only three weeks till Christmas, I’ve managed to squeeze myself into one writer’s fair to sell some books. It was a lot of fun and got me pumped up to really start plugging my book. This was when I realized there’s a lot more to publishing a book than just publishing a book. Somehow you’ve got to let people know it’s there and make them want to buy it. But how?

I turned to my writing friends for help. Some interviewed me for their blogs, some had me write guest posts (like the one you’re reading now), and others suggested independent book stores in which to sell my stocking stuffer. But in the midst of all this pre-Christmas chaos, what I’m struggling with is time. I need time to visit these book stores, time to write blog posts, time to go to book fairs. If I as independent publishers am to be successful in my literary endeavors, I must allow myself time to plan, time to execute my plan and then time to follow up after the execution so I can keep sales soaring. I’m going to assume that this is part of the reason the big ships like Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins buy books so far in advance—to give themselves time to build a strategy. 

I don’t make resolutions; I make plans
I, for one, will not commit the sin of taking time for granted again. Next year will be different. I’m going to start in the summer so by Thanksgiving I will have people lined up to buy my book. I may even create a special edition with more illustrations. In 2012, I will prioritize and give myself the gift of time. You can, too. Your book deserves it. It deserves your full attention and the entire weight of your creative brain. Let my story be a lesson to you and believe me when I say that your three biggest assets when marketing your book are time, time and time.

The Gift Giver is available on Amazon, Nook, Kindle and Lulu for the iPad.

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