This is the first anniversary of the publication of my biography, John Emerson Roberts: Kansas City’s “Up-to-date” Freethought Preacher.  I’m celebrating, first by saying thank you to all who have read it, are reading it, or are reading about it (along with other things) on this blog.

I’m also celebrating by offering two free copies on Goodreads, one of the places I first made connections beyond my existing circles.  If you’re interested, go to www.goodreads.com and check out their giveaways.

The book’s “launch” was a soft one.  Xlibris is good at fast turnaround.  They kept me moving to the next stage of production when I thought I’d have more time to prepare for marketing.  Suddenly the book was done, while I was on vacation, and they wouldn’t wait until the date I wanted to start publicity.  They sent out press releases – to whom I could not figure out from the data base they sent me – three weeks before I was ready.

I know about book signings, presentations, emails and post cards and went at those steps eagerly.  But this book is a niche item.  It appeals to people interested in freethought, history, and/or Kansas City.  We are a relatively small group.  Yet I know I have not gotten the word out to all of those who would enjoy reading the book.

I didn’t know what to do next.  I looked up freethought groups, religious historians, regional libraries and sent a variety of letters, announcements and sample copies.  “You need to market on line,” people said.

Xlibris wants to do marketing for its authors.  They set up a website for the book as part of my production package, but I have no access to it.  They will happily provide additional services, many at more than the cost of production.

“How will you target the niche this book is intended for?”  I asked.

“Librarians,” they answered.  “We will put an ad in their journal and send out emails to librarians across the country.  For you, a $500 discount on the price.”

“No, thank you,” I said.

“New York Times Book Review,” they suggested.  It must be nice to see your book as one of eight on a full page Xlibris ad in the New York Times, but there’s no room for any of the words I’ve carefully crafted to explain why it’s a good story. [See my Books page, if you haven’t already.]

I felt I was very considerate not to laugh out loud at the Xlibris salesman who suggested television ads.  Was he going to survey freethought historians before deciding where to place those ads?  I thought not.

I’ve learned a lot this year, connecting on social media, getting advice from many sources, sending out more letters, creating this blog.  As a “platform” this is still a bit wobbly, but I progress.  If you can’t find your niche, you make one, right?

Such was the beginning of my non-fiction book in the world.  Next time, I’ll turn to the beginnings of the story IN the book – for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

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