Saturday, June 11, 2011

Author Bob Sanchez

 Bob Sanchez is the author of When Pigs Fly, (an iUniverse Star book), Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain. He’s also Nonfiction Editor of The Internet Review of Books and is active in the El Paso Writers' League, and the Internet Writing Workshop. And today he’s here on Straight From Hel. I enticed him to stop by on his book tour for Little Mountain.

I’m excited he’s here because not only is Bob an excellent writer and blogger, he’s very willing to share with others his experience diving into the publishing pool.

Please welcome Bob Sanchez.

The Little Mountain of Publishing

Thanks so much for hosting me on my tour, Helen!

My promotional focus has changed with the publication of Little Mountain, my third novel. Some of this is due to where I live, far from a population center where I can readily drive. A couple of years ago I drove 120 miles round trip to do a reading at a library. They’d even put my name up in a big marquee, but I sold only two copies of my book. It was fun reading to a pair of nice librarians, but at that rate having a bestseller would have bankrupted me.

The hard fact is that writers can’t control how many books we sell—inducing guilt trips among friends and relatives will only take us so far. What we can control is expenses, so that when revenue comes in it won’t seem like such a drop in the bucket.

 My first two books had cost me around $1200 each at iUniverse. Yes, they provided various services that were by and large adequate. But Little Mountain cost only $39 at CreateSpace and could have been free. I paid a local graphic artist $150 to create my basic cover design. An excellent local writer gave the novel a final pass in exchange for my doing the same for her. As for the ebook version, I learned how to do it myself for free.

Next, I’m not doing any book signings that involve driving out of town, unless other business takes me there anyway. I’m doing no mass mailings. For When Pigs Fly, my first book, iUniverse persuaded me to spend an amount I’ve tried to forget to email an ad to 500,000 book buyers, and the campaign barely nudged my Amazon ranking. (If you’re looking for a sinkhole for your excess cash, buy into an online ad campaign.) The last I heard from iUniverse was an email wanting me to spend $12,999 to turn my book into a screenplay. My reply: “You've got to be kidding me. No thank you.” I never heard from them again.

So now I focus on cyberspace: blogs, virtual tours like this one, meeting new people online usually one at a time. I ask people for Amazon reviews or for permission to quote them when they tell me something nice in an email. If they decline, which no one has done yet, that’s perfectly okay. My email signature reminds people about my blog and my books, costing me nothing. I use Twitter and Facebook sparingly so far. Part of that has been that it’s time-consuming, and part is that it’s hard to strike the right balance. Don’t do it at all, and you’re selling yourself short; do it too much, and you’re seen as crass. As time goes on, I’ll gladly share my experiences with you.

What do the rest of you do to promote your work?

I hope you’ll visit all the great blogs on my tour. Please post a comment for a chance to win an ebook or signed paperback copy of one of my novels. And thanks for visiting!

Thank you Bob!

If you’d like to know more about Bob’s latest book, you can purchase/check out Little Mountain on Amazon.

Before you do that, though, leave a comment and share your ideas for promoting your books.


  1. Hey good to see Bob in the spotlight - we go back some years now, I forget which (of the zillions I've been in, lol) Yahoo group we were colleagues at, but hey - nice feature post here.

    I'm a lot like you, Bob, I don't travel much for signings anymore, it's much more cost effective and just as effective, I find nowadays, to do massive e-marketing in a plethora of venues. One thing I did do that was rather unique in person, a couple years ago I tried renting a booth at the local Farmers Market and was pleasantly surprised how many shoppers there were who also were avid book readers and willing to support and give a local author a chance with purchasing one of my books. Since then I've done it every year, and this year I'm also selling organic compost and vegetables, so ... gonna sell 'em everything I got! LOL

    Best wishes on many sales, sir, and thanks Helen, for having Bob on today. :-)
    Marvin D Wilson

  2. It's been slow for me. Learning the promoting business is a challenge but a necessary one. Recently I had Edie Ramer on my blog talking about promotion. You can still see it if you scroll down the current one up. I think you read it Bob, but Helen you haven't. Edie is very successful with a lot of good ideas. My daughter is going to put Treasures back up this weekend and fix the formatting issues the first person left me with. I fixed a few spelling errors and added a map, also on my blog. So there you have it. That's all I know right now. I wish you great success Bob.

  3. I only promote online and have been grateful for the support of others. My publisher does mailings and sends out review copies, so my greatest expenditure is time. Can't imagine driving that far for only two books!

  4. Bob, this comment "the hard fact is that writers can’t control how many books we sell...what we can control is expenses..." is one I'm glad you've made as this is one of the biggest mistakes I've made - I never did a proper budget. Next book I will be far more frugal in my marketing efforts.

    Good luck with the sales of "Little Mountain"
    Judy, South Africa

  5. Excellent article, Bob. I've found that out of town bookstore signings are not worth the time and expense, but the right online sources have worked out well. I posted a brief notice on the Out of Print forum several days ago about the only OT book I've published so far and the next morning I was shocked to find that Westerners: Candid and Historic Interviews was #53 on the nonfiction Kindle list (down from 364).

    And because there's a motorhome on the cover of my new Logan & Cafferty mystery, Murder on the Interstate, I was invited to sign copies at an exclusive southern California RV resort. So, as Marvin said earlier, it's sometimes best to find unusual places to sign your books.

  6. Good morning everyone, and happy Saturday. Jean, RV resorts are a natural venue for you. Do you ever shop at Camping World? They typically have a small section of RV-related books. Perhaps if you contacted their HQ you might fight a nice niche market.

    Marvin, we have a thriving Farmer's Market in town, so I may try that. Going on my own, though, I'd need to $$pring for a tent, as the NM sun puts out serious UV. I normally have good luck with signings at a locally owned bookstore, but they take 25 percent of sales--not that they don't deserve it, but it's nice when you don't always have to share.

    Thanks for hosting me, Helen. This touring is fun.

  7. Hi Bob - I'm enjoying folloging your blog tour! Thanks for the good article and words of advice on book promotion. As NR Williams wrote, learning the promoting business is challenging.

    I think I have to think of alternative venues - like marinas - rather than book stores to promote Marina Melee. For now, the promotional side of this is all overwhelming and exciting, and breaking the bank all at once!

  8. Hello one and all. Great ideas! Today I was at the WLT Agents Conference (past Board members were invited to come to lunch). I stopped by the book room. Didn't seem to be much activity at author tables, but B&N was selling a few How-To books. Based on that, I don't think writing conferences are a good place to sell your books, unless you the writer happen to be one of the speakers.

  9. But Helen, if you're going to a conference anyway, then by all means bring copies for sale. It never hurts to pack a few copies in your bag.

  10. Enjoyed your guest blogger appearance here, Bob. Interesting ideas from you and in the other comments.

  11. I should have been more clear, Bob. At this particular conference where the draw is the agents and editors, most of the attendees are aspiring authors. So, an author coming to sell books would pay to set up a table and sell their books. But it's unlikely the attendees would buy since they are constantly running from workshop to workshop or pitching to agents.

  12. As I see the publishing world change and the opportunities for authors to promote their work online increase, I can only do a happy dance. Book signings were mostly time and energy drains that cost me in gas for my car and Tums for my tummy.

  13. That's especially true, Patricia, if the author is having to do their own tour, without help from a publisher.

  14. I just checked my emails this morning and saw an ad from Amazon promoting a couple of books on how to do promoting. Now those are the books we should all be writing. (Wink, wink.)

  15. You are so right, Bob! Timely how-to books are the way to make money. You just have to be ahead of the curve.

  16. Bob,

    Most of my self-publishing clients use CreateSpace now. Everyone has been very happy with the quality ... and especially with the price.

  17. Lillie, I've been hearing good things about CreateSpace. It still takes some learning, but less than others.

  18. Bob, I feel your pain.

    Helen, I've had pretty good experiences with Create Space as well ... not perfect ... but better than letting your MS grow moldy in your desk drawer.

  19. Of course, the advantage of CreateSpace is also the possible pitfall. Sometimes a novel is best left in the drawer to moulder--my first novel, for example. "Can" and "Should" are not synonyms; just because we can publish doesn't mean we should publish.

    One thing I like about CreateSpace is that there are certain mistakes it won't let us make, such as leaving the ISBN off your cover. But as for the editorial content of our books, we have to be (or hire) our own Quality Control department.

  20. A lot of people forget that step, Bob, especially if they have to pay someone. It's not easy to pay someone when what you want to do is make money.

  21. You and I are on the same page. Book signings and viral advertising. iUniverse is indeed a sinkhole. Can't believe I went with them once and even promoted their services on my blog. Ugh!!!

    Best wishes for your success with Little Mountain!

  22. "Sometimes a novel is best left in the drawer to moulder--my first novel, for example." Bob, I totally agree with you that services like CreateSpace can make the process too fast and easy. There's a lot to be said for that period of time before the novel actually goes to print. Would have visited sooner but I'm missing all your reminders about this tour. Finally went direct to your blog to see the schedule! Good luck with the rest of the tour.

  23. Thank you for this insightful post, Bob, and thank you Helen for hosting!

    I can see how online tours are way more cost effective than physical tours, though I still enjoy meeting authors face to face, and would always try to get to local book signings or promotions if possible. I guess it's a case of working out how far you can comfortably travel without the costs sky-rocketing.

    This post has given me a lot to think about. :)

  24. I think the Internet is a great marketing tool for writers. The writing community is growing daily, and with everyone supporting each other it is a good place to be. Good luck, Bob.

    Thanks for an interesting post, Helen.

  25. Nice to meet you, Helen. Thanks for hosting Bob.

    Hello Bob,
    I just finished Little Mountain and left a review on Amazon, then sent out a tweet about it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though the horrors Detective Sam had to face during the investigation and flashbacks from his past were pretty gruesome and chilling. You did an excellent job of portraying the Cambodian refugee community and weaving their culture throughout the story. Very well done. Full of raw emotions, it built up to a riveting climax. I hate that evil scum (I won't give it away), but I was left feeling satisfied in the end. Sambath's a hero in my book.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. My heart goes out to you for being scammed by that promo deal. That kind of stuff steams my noodle. Thanks for the warnings, and I wish you the best of luck with your book sales. WTG, Bob!

  26. Hmm. Steamed noodles, Lyn. Intriguing. Makes me think of a Chinese restaurant. Thanks for the generous comments.

    Ah, Dani. I've been remiss in reminders to my friends about these tour stops but will try to improve in this last week.


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