Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baltimore Book Festival in Review

Whew! It was an eventful and busy three days in Baltimore. So much so that I am just now recuperating. From celebrity speakers to a woman proudly wearing a shirt that read ‘Book Slut’, Baltimore had it all. I heard in the past Baltimore was the place to be but then again I have heard that one before and it turned out to be a mere fabrication. 
I love readers like this! Proud to be a Book Slut!

Day one the skies opened up and released a much needed downpour for the land but not so much something an exhibitor would appreciate, myself included.  Surprisingly enough it really didn’t stop the serious book buyer. Day two brought in hoards of patrons who were eager to buy to the extent I had to debate on losing out on sales by taking a small food break. Hunger eventually won. On day three it started off massive amounts of people then dwindled off around 4. Believe me I was not upset by it by any means. I was tired! 

Author Tiffany Flowers inspiring young minds

Throughout the hustle and bustle of this even I had the pleasure of meeting many aspiring authors. Some were a pleasure to be around the others, not so much. Note: If you are an author going to an exhibitors table to network please step the heck out the way when a paying customer comes by! I cannot believe how many authors thought it was okay to continue talking about the event, their sales (or lack thereof), how long they have been an author, how their publisher sucks, and on and on while I had eager buyers trying to look at my display and purchase a book. Most were friendly when I asked them to step to the side for a moment, but some must have fell off the wagon and bumped their head. I don’t really understand why. I along with author Tiffany Flowers (part of the Golden Literary Circle with me) was there to sell books. Yes, it is great to network but not to the existent in which it hampers my sales. Book events are not free and I would like to make my money back. One author in particular was so upset when asked to step to the side as she watched me sign a copy of Rise and Fall of a Track Star, it made me wonder was it her intent to come and block my sales in the first place. Sad as it may sound, yes, there are authors who get frustrated when they are not selling and will come try to block yours. I am not the blame for others lack of sales. I always come with a quality product and welcoming smile. Standing behind the table with your arms crossed and mean mug on your face will only cause patrons to run from you.

Now, I am not a celebrity junkie but I must admit when I thought I caught the side profile of Common, I almost had the urge to run the man down. Something about that kiss he gave Queen Latifah in the move Just Wright, made me fall in love with the man. Thankfully there was another aspiring author with a kind spirit to keep me in my place. Some people have a great heart and you can tell it upon first meeting them.  J. Scott, author of a Black Man, a White Man, and a Chinese Man was such a person. That is him standing with me below. I love running into fellow authors such as him. He bought a book, and then asked questions. He also stepped to the side to allow room for others in the tent.
 Me and J. Scott
 Wore out but still smiling

For you aspiring authors out there please keep this in mind. You must get out there and sell your books in order for people to know who you are. It has taken me three years for people to come looking for me. Now, I get people saying "I have seen this name before" "I saw you on the listing and had to come by". This is how I know what I am doing is working. On the other hand it is never okay to come over to a publishing table and mention how you have no intentions on ever promoting your book and that you expect us to do all of the work. I do remember names and have no problem informing the powers that be that you are not ready to be an author.

Selling books was my primary focus but I wasn’t missing out on opportunities to speak with librarians and the media. From what I had been told we had one of the best displays which is why people kept walking by taking pictures. The display brought them in and our conversation kept them intrigued. I even have some more offers to speak at middle and high schools. Overall I had a blast and look forward to next year. Now I can get some sleep and prepare for Collingswood, NJ this weekend!

Stay focused on your goals,
Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Well are You Promoting You?

As I prepare for the Baltimore Book Festival this weekend I am not only think of the items I will need ie: books, marketing material, signage, pens, clothes I need to pack...ect but I also plan for the questions I get asked at each event. "How do I become an author?" "I have a book but it's not selling?" "Do I have to attend events if I want to be an author?" "How do you have time to write?" and my favorite "Isn't it the publishers job to promote my book?" Some of my answers my come off as a little too simple or being a smarty pants, but believe me I try my best not to be. To become an author one must write the book, if your book is not selling what have you done to try and sell it, if you are not willing to attend events then you are really not prepared to be an author, I write whenever I can, and it's your book you wrote it so why the heck are you not promoting it?

The publishing industry is saturated with authors, some great and some mediocre. If you want to make it you need to get out there and promote yourself. Being an author is a business. Do your business a favor and make it blossom. Do you think McDonald's became a billion dollar industry off the first burger they made? Then why do you think it will happen off your first book, especially if you  are less than zealous about promoting your product. Note: Showing up to an event with your book in hand or passing out your material is not promoting your book. If you do not have a booth, table, or display (in other words paid to be there) then what you are doing in committing an offense. You are also only promoting to other authors and publishers don't have time to read your stuff if you don't have time to follow their submission guidelines. Promoting your book is paying to be at the event itself. Letting people come to you and having a short introduction ready without holding your potential readers hostage.

Other ways to promote is to get your name out their by networking and doing on interviews, virtual book tours, and signings. Get your book reviewed (try Readers Favorite) or simply google a few. The goal is to have your name pop up in as many places as possible. Also if anyone mentions that your book needs work, do not get upset. If your book was not properly edited, you really shouldn't shoot the messenger for pointing it out. If you have a topic that people aren't interested in you really can't be upset either. For example at one event a lady tried to push her book about her love for cats on me. I am allergic to cats! Seeing the cover was enough to make me start inching. Instead of her listening that I was not interested and thanking her for talking to me she became irate. Now, she went from me just not being interested to me not even mentioning her book to anyone else unless it was to say don't buy it because she was rude. If someone does not want your book, oh well. I don't smoke cigarettes but it is not stopping the makers from selling them to billions of people. My point, if you have a viable product just because one person does not buy it does not mean others will not.

Also, be approachable. Do you know how many times I have walked around events and authors are sitting behind the table with their arms crossed as dozens of people walk past? I understand events are long and people get tired but you can sit down without frowning at people and scaring them away from your table. Get out of the snooty 'I am an author' mindset and into the 'I want to be a successful author' state of mind. You never know who could be walking past and watching you. So smile and sell that book. How well you sell books depends on how well you are promoting you!

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who are You Inspiring?

From the time we come out the womb our minds are processing our surroundings and taking it all in. We are a sponge ready to absorb. I recall looking to my brothers and sisters in my home to gather my sense of right and wrong. Oh, sneaking out resulted in a whack upside the head and punishment—I don’t think I will be trying that. Not doing homework, oh the same thing. As I got older some of the things that went on weren’t so cut and dry. Everyone knows that people who deal drugs are bad people, right? But, how about when they are your brothers who are taking you from a life of poverty? No, I wasn’t inspired to sell drugs but I was motivated to do more than just grow up and stay on welfare.

In high school I was motivated by the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had teachers who sucked, those who only wanted a paycheck, and one or two who actually cared. Friends who were into all types of things; smoking week, skipping school, or getting pregnant further added to the makings of who I am. My coach guided me with lessons learned that propelled me throughout my college years, the military, and to this very day.

With at that being said…Who are you inspiring? Whether it is positive or negative you are inspiring others. Are you the one who people say, “don’t be that guy” or “you see (insert name) be just like them”. I strive to be the second one and have so since an early age. To get me there those “don’t be that guy” were my motivation. Being an inspiration to others is what compelled me to write Rise and Fall of a Track Star. In my memoir I have opened up, exposed myself, and said I am still here. Do you think your words and actions have no impact on people, think again.

I’m a bullet….
I’m a Missile…
I’m a Rocket to the Moon…

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys

Oh, yeah get your copy of Rise and Fall of a Track Star today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are You Celebrating?

Seriously, are you celebrating your book? Really, so what is it that you are actually doing? If it’s just sitting in front of your computer smiling at your book cover or holding your free author copies in your hand and dancing around the room, you aren’t celebrating. You are just happy. 

What was the point of you putting all those painstaking hours writing the book, editing the book, then waiting for it to be published if you aren’t even sharing it with your closest friends? It doesn’t matter if your book was published traditionally or self-published, it’s your hard work, so act like you are proud of it.

My first book, Passionate Playmates, which was barely 100 pages and extremely over priced at 16.99 (published by Publish America in 2007, but this is another blog on its own) had a celebration.  One of my close friends gave me a party at her house. It was a small gathering of less than 15 people, but each one bought a book and boosted my writer’s esteem up a few notches. For my next release,, I went all out. I decided to have a themed party based off my characters. Prepare for a Night of Seduction. ..and, boy what an night it was. This book release party was huge. I rented out a club and sold tickets in and advance.  No less than 100 people were in attendance. More than half bought books, and the other half I think just wanted to know what the heck the party was all about. 
 Me as my character Ecstasy and my Fantasy Girls on a cake

Now that I am on the brinks of releasing my 6th title the thrill is still there. It’s time for me to start celebrating! I decided to have my release party at a well-known family restaurant in my home town of Michigan City, IN. Being that Rise and Fall of a Track Star is a memoir, I went back to my roots. There are many people who touched my life in one way or another and I want to share the moment with them.  So on October 29th, I will be set up at Sophia’s Restaurant happily signing books and getting back in touch with the town I was raised in.

As an author we must learn to do whatever it takes to get the word out ourselves regarding our work. If we don’t at least make the small effort to celebrate it, why should anyone else? You know at the minimum a month or two before the actual release, what the date will be. Save up some money, buy those discounted books at your author rate, and sell them at your release party. Even if your book has been out six months it's not too late! The party can be anywhere, at your house (Pampered Chief can do it, why not you?), a coffee shop, a local libraries media room, the party room of a restaurant, or where ever you heart desires. The point is be proud, you wrote it! If you are not making an effort can you really point the finger at anyone else for your book not selling?

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Market Your Book Without Spending a Penny?

I ran across an article promoting how to market your book without spending a penny! So, naturally I was eager to read it. The first thing it said was to donate books. Hm, now I don't know about the author of this article but all my books cost money to print. Out of each set of 20-40, depending on my inventory, I buy I can barely squeeze out one or two to send to a reviewer. Heaven forbid if a single reviewing source requests two.

Now, with my first published book I actually followed this theory of donating books. The result, less books for me to sale and no profits from the ones I did give away. If you want to donate a book, donate 2-3 to the library. Make sure it is the main office so your book will be inputted in the system for it to circulate to all branches. This may actually spark some sales by the other branches.

In reality there really is not free way to market your books. Even we you talk to someone about your book you need to at least have a business card or flyer to hand them. Not something you just threw together off your PC either because I can almost guarantee where it will in up, the trash. At least that's what I do when someone hands me crap. Take some pride in you product. Heck use Vista Print. They always have good stuff on discount. This way even if you aren't a good designer you can at least use their designs, but do yourself a favor and add your book cover to what they have.

I am a reader as well as a writer and I tend to read books by authors that seem more put together. Especially if they are self-published. If their presentation is well thought out there is a less chance that their book was just thrown together. If not, at least they faked the funk and got a sale out of me.

To get money it takes money and I know you have heard it time and time again. My advice, spend wisely to generated those sales.

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star
Can You Keep a Secret?
The Baby Girl

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are You Keeping Secrets from Yourself?

Can You Keep a Secret? Most of us would bobbing our heads yes as we read this, but are you so good at keeping secrets that you are hiding them from yourself? Confused? Please allow me to explain. Are there things in life that you really want to do, but keep putting them to the side and the next thing you know years have flown by?

Years ago this was me as well. There was a voice screaming inside my head to take another path, but why? I had a great job (so I thought), a husband, and kids. What more could I want? The more I ignored the voice the more my life began to spiral downhill. My job started going through changes in leadership causing me extra stress, as if I needed anymore being in the military. Without going into great detail basically my voice screamed and I shouted back I could take it. Well, I took it until I was darn near a basket case. Finally, I said the hell with it all and listened to the voice. It said I am a writer, not just the part time I was doing with it, but as in that is what I needed to do. It was one of the hardest things in the world but I listened and now I am at peace.

Listen to your inner voice. If you don't you will not find peace. It's yelling at you to do what it is you are called to do. I am a writer. What secret are you keeping from yourself?

Until Next Time,

Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star
Can You Keep a Secret?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Definition of Success

I learned early on that my level isn’t the same as everyone else’s definition of where I should be. For me success is any milestone I cross which propels me forward in my career and life in general. That being said, this past weekend in Decatur bust my definition wide open. With every book sold my spirit soared further and further into the clouds. I am surprised I was able to come down in order to write this blog. 

This festival boasted a myriad of talent writing in every genre you could imagine and some I never heard of. With so many authors to choose from I am overly thankful they found their way into my booth with cash and credit card extended to purchase. Those who didn’t purchase took a flyer in order to by online later, and guess what from checking my ratings on Amazon this morning it seemed as if they did. 

 Me inspiring young minds

Even without the dozens of books I sold at the event I would have still been happy because my name and pen name is getting out there to the masses. More people learning I exist is a level of success to me. You never know whose hands it may fall in.

 Me spreading my seduction

My simple affirmation is to keep on moving forward. Had I given up on book one I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, people feel confident in my work to pre-order my new work. Some lady bought all 5 of my titles on hand and handed me cash for Rise and Fall of a Track Star to send to her. I was accustomed to the online pre-orders but cash in hand from a stranger….wow!

My question to my aspiring and established authors out there is what is your level of success? Is it too high for you to relish in immediate gratification or so low you are only happy to sell to your family?

Until next time!
Omegia Keeys