Writing & Money Episode 14: Talking to Dana Kaye About “Your Book, Your Brand”

I got to chat with Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity about her book Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales. We discuss how to create an effective brand, how to reach out to media contacts, and when people should do their own publicity vs. when they should hire a publicist.

Advertisements

Self-Publishing Update: Book Tours and Community Building

Sales/Expenses Since April 11

Books sold: 1 ebook (Amazon), 1 ebook (Google Play)

Money earned: $4.81

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 377 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Volume 2 pre-orders: 33

Money earned (book sales): $1,485.68

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $7,561.90


The following was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

I’ve been living in Cedar Rapids for five months now, which I’m already mentally rounding up to “half a year,” and although I still don’t feel comfortable making blanket statements about what life in CR is like, and I definitely don’t feel comfortable making “I live in Stardew Valley” jokes even though that is, in fact, what it feels like, I’ll try to describe my new life in terms of What I Did Yesterday:

It was Ecofest, so I set my alarm to wake up early enough that I could ride my bike out to Prairie Park Fishery for the Tour de Trees. I knew that the event would involve bike riding and tree planting, but I didn’t realize that this wouldn’t be the kind of tree planting I did when I was in elementary school, where the trees they gave us were roughly the same size as weeds. These trees were the size of trees, and I was inappropriately dressed.  However, one of the organizers, whom I knew from Revival Theatre Company, gave me a pair of work gloves, and I dug up rocks and hauled water from the river with everyone else and we were able to plant three trees and name them. (It’s a tradition to name them.)

Then we all rode our bikes back to NewBo City Market, which is both a community center and a local vendor space, to continue the Ecofest celebration. There was food, live music, bus tours of Mount Trashmore, a film festival, and a compost bin mascot named Yardy. And, because people knew me, I got recruited to play a oak tree in this demonstration of “threats to our local tree population.” I was killed by bur oak blight, along with all the other oak trees in the demonstration.

I’m not going to be so reductive as to say “nobody ever asked me to play an oak tree in Seattle,” because I was invited to be part of an original musical (Molly Lewis’s Thanksgiving vs. Christmas) and I did a whole bunch of cabaret-style shows with Marian Call. The difference in this case was that I went to a town event and people said “Hey! Good to see you! Want to help us?” That’s the piece that never quite fell into place, in all the other places I’ve lived as an adult.

After Ecofest I went back to my apartment and logged on to Marian Call’s Karaoke Jukebox Challenge fundraiser, which was the other important part of yesterday: building a life in a new community while remaining connected to this other, mostly online community that I’ve been part of for years. (Also, supporting a friend.)

It’s interesting, because the more I live here the more I want to stay — like, I’m excited to take The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2 on tour, but I’m also excited to get back to Cedar Rapids and hang out with the bike people and the theater people and the writers I’ve met and, you know, do things. I’m helping launch a book club at the local bookstore. The Farmers’ Market will be starting up soon. The opera just announced its 2018–2019 season and I need to figure out how to be a supernumerary.


On the subject of The Biographies of Ordinary People, here’s a list of my current appearances and tour stops:

Next Page Books

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Saturday, April 28, 12-3 p.m.

It’s Independent Bookstore Day! I’ll be in Cedar Rapids’ own Next Page Books signing copies of The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 —  which has been selected as the first title in the New Bohemia Book Club.

Next Page Books

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Tuesday, May 15, 7 p.m.

The inaugural meeting of the New Bohemia Book Club. We’ll be discussing The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1.

Hugo House

Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, June 3, 2018. 6-9 p.m.

I’ll be teaching a one-night only course on the finances of self-publishing. Register here.

Phinney Books

Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.

I’ll be reading from The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2.

Another Read Through

Portland, Oregon

Friday, June 8, 7 p.m.

I’ll be reading from The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2.

I still want to book events in Juneau and Los Angeles, and I’ll let you know if/when they’re added to the schedule. I’ve also been asked to do a reading in Washington, DC, although I suspect that might not happen for the same reason why these Juneau and LA events might not happen: because I haven’t built relationships with booksellers in those cities. (Have you read my Billfold piece on networking yet?) You can occasionally book a reading or a performance off a cold call — I’ve done it, and it’s always worth a try — but you’re a lot more likely to get the booking if you’ve already built the relationship.

You’re more likely to get other opportunities as well — I was recently invited to be part of an anthology, for example, and although I don’t think I can formally announce the book yet, I can say that my invitation came after having built a professional relationship with the organization releasing the anthology. (Also, I think I can say that I am SO EXCITED.)


On the subject of “professional accolades,” I am very happy to announce that The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 was selected as an IndieReader Approved title. I still don’t know whether IndieReader will give Volume 1 a Discovery Award — I’ll find out in May — but getting the IR Approved designation felt pretty good.

I do know that Volume 1 did not win any of the other awards for which it was entered, which is a bit of a disappointment, but it was an honor to have nominated myself.

Plus, Volume 2 just got its Kirkus Review: “A shrewdly unique portrait of everyday America.” I love that line because it echoes the “Dieker writes with unrepentant honesty about the human condition” review that Volume 1 got from the BookLife Prize team. (Another award that I did not win.) I also love the word shrewd. We don’t use it often enough.

That’s all the news I have for right now; the Volume 2 ebook is still available for pre-order at Amazon, and I’ll have more information about the Volume 2 paperback soon. In the meanwhile, I’ll be getting ready for Indie Bookstore Day next weekend and this book club that I’m getting to help launch — and I’ll tell you once again how happy I am to have moved to Cedar Rapids. ❤

Photo credit: Katja Schulz, CC BY 2.0.

Writing & Money Episode 13: Let’s Talk About Taxes

It’s almost Tax Day! But since most of us have already done our 2017 taxes, this episode is all about how freelance taxes will change in 2018.

I mention TaxAct a few times, as well as the articles TaxAct sponsored on The Billfold. If you’re interested in those articles, here they are:

You should also read this article I wrote for The Freelancer, which covers 2018 tax changes as they relate to both sole proprietors and incorporated freelancers: Should Freelancers Incorporate in 2018?

Self-Publishing Update: I Got My Foreword Clarion Review!

Sales/Expenses Since March 26

Books sold: $0

Money earned: $0

Money spent: $939.33

Total

Books sold: 375 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Volume 2 pre-orders: 32

Money earned (book sales): $1,480.87

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $7,561.90


So… I’m switching from weekly self-publishing updates to “updates whenever I have news to share,” because otherwise I would have spent the past two weeks writing boring ‘ol nothing new to report blog posts, and nobody wants to waste their time on those.

But I have news to share! Today! The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2 got its Foreword Clarion Review!

You can read the full review, but here’s the pull quote:

The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2 is a satisfying family saga about growing up and coming into one’s own.

This review was a four-star review, compared to Volume 1‘s five-star review, which I think is accurate. This isn’t to say that Volume 2 is significantly worse than Volume 1, or even 20 percent worse, but… it’s like I said at the Phinney Books launch last year. It’s hard to write about adulthood, if you aren’t doing, like, THE MYSTERY! or ALIENS! or OH NO, AN AFFAIR! There’s a long tradition of writing the ordinary young person coming of age, and I did that pretty well in Volume 1. There are fewer books about ordinary people navigating adult life — which, you know, Meredith addresses in the first chapter of Volume 2.

(NO, THAT’S NOT A SPOILER, I PUT IT AS A TEASER CHAPTER AT THE END OF VOLUME 1.)

Also, my BlueInk Review is now up in full on the site, if you want to read it. Next up should be Kirkus, and then I’ll have enough blurbs to print the paperback.


As you can probably tell by the amount of money I’ve spent since my last update, I am in the middle of planning THE BOOK TOUR. (Flights and hotels are expensive, even when you’re paying for part of the trip with miles.) I have a few stops planned that I’m not sure I can formally announce yet, but I can announce that I am teaching a class at Seattle’s Hugo House on Tuesday, June 5:

The Finances of Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is easier than ever—but it isn’t cheap. When you become your own publisher, you take on all the costs associated with publication: hiring editors and designers, getting industry reviews, planning book launches and book tours. You also become your own accountant: how much should your book cost, and how many copies will you need to sell to break even? Is it worth it to sell print copies as well as ebooks? What about taxes? This course will cover the finances of self-publishing, explain the types of expenses you can expect as a first-time publisher, and discuss ways to keep your costs low while still creating a professional-quality book.

Here’s where you go if you want to register! I am so excited to get to talk about money and budgeting and figuring out how to fund your self-published book, because… well, you have been following all of my updates and financials, right? If you are in Seattle, I hope to see you there — if you aren’t, I hope you tell all of your Seattle-area writer friends. ❤

Photo credit: Rosmarie Voegtli, CC BY 2.0.